The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, last Friday the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) raised the question of the treatment accorded commission agents in this province. As I promised, I will now reply fully to his question.
The subject first came to the attention of our ministry when the member for Carleton (Mr. Handleman) held this portfolio. Representatives of the Ontario Federation of Commission Agents met with the minister on the recommendation of the then Minister of Labour (Miss Stephenson). The federation subsequently prepared a formal brief which was submitted to the Premier (Mr. Davis). He referred it to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for review. In the interim, a ministry official had written to the federation’s counsel stating that as the payment of commission salesmen is not a consumer matter it would not fall within our purview.
As the federation was not happy with this response, it sought to have the matter reopened. My predecessor, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), newly appointed to the portfolio at the time, undertook to see it through. He met with the representatives of the federation on December 12, 1977, and promised that he would review the brief and get back to the Federation in 1978. He also indicated he would in all likelihood take the matter to his cabinet colleagues so that he could have the benefit of their point of view in the subsequent cabinet decision.
My predecessor accordingly brought the matter up before the Justice policy field committee. It was the committee’s recommendation that my ministry should not undertake legislative action as this is not essentially a consumer matter.
As the concerns of the federation merited further study, however, the committee recommended in July that the Resources policy field committee look at the brief to determine if measures other than regulatory legislation are available.
As commission agents are really private entrepreneurs, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which government program is closest to their area of interest. I understand their concerns. I know theirs is a tough business to be in. I plan, therefore, to meet with representatives of the federation early in the new year to explore every possible avenue of assistance.
Mr. McClellan: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Yesterday, in the social development committee considering the estimates of the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health said on more than one occasion that he had no knowledge of the matter of sterilization performed on the authority of a substitute consent.
I have a letter, dated December 7, 1978, and signed by Mr. J. K. Maynard, executive director of the institutional division of the Ministry of Health. It reads, in the second paragraph: “In essence, legal opinion within the ministry agrees with the opinion of Mr. Lloyd Perry, the official guardian, in that they believe the policy of the Greater Niagara General Hospital is illegal. This was stated in a letter dated May 29, 1978, to the chief executive officer.”
That letter indicates to me that the Ministry of Health was aware of Mr. Perry’s legal opinion that sterilizations with substitute consent are illegal and, in fact, was communicating that position to hospitals in this province in 1978. It seems to me that this is inconsistent with statements that the minister made to the social development committee yesterday, and I ask for your ruling on that.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order: Before the minister replies, I would bring to your attention a quotation from Hansard for November 7 in which the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) was responding to a statement by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), who brought these matters to the attention of the committee. I quote the honourable minister at page S-952. “I was not aware of those figures and I shall certainly be bringing it to the attention of the ministers in my field ... ” Presumably that would include the Minister of Health.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, to respond, the members will know that in the operation of a ministry, particularly one as large as mine and involving as many hospitals and programs as mine, there is correspondence on a daily basis between members of the staff at various levels with the general public and with people involved in the health-care system.
I expect in my ministry that staff, where they think it is an issue that should be drawn to my attention, will do so. In this particular case that didn’t work. The fact that it didn’t work doesn’t excuse it. But it didn’t work.
The facts, as I outlined them yesterday are very simply that it was last week, in a memorandum from a member in the legal branch of my ministry, that the issue was first drawn to my personal attention.
Mr. McClellan: You have some real problems in that ministry.
Mr. Nixon: The provincial secretary didn’t speak to you about it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Immediately on reading that particular memorandum, I sent it on for more information, because clearly it outlined the issue as it has been discussed yesterday here and in the committee and caused me a great deal of concern.
Mr. McClellan: You’ve got some real crackerjacks in that ministry.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is clear that members of my staff and the staff of other ministries have been aware of the problem for some time. But the facts speak for themselves. It was drawn to my personal attention last week.
Mr. McClellan: What about the provincial secretary?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Bellwoods brings to the attention of the House some inconsistency that appears to have arisen as a result of something that was said in the social development committee. The only way in which the House can deal with anything that happens in a committee is for that committee, through its chairman, to have that particular matter referred to the House. However, in the light of the explanation given by the Minister of Health, who says it was not brought to his attention until last week, I think all honourable members, being honourable members, will accept that explanation as being a true reflection of what actually happened.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would direct a question to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development Since you have indicated that all honourable members must accept the statement of the Minister of Health that he was not informed of this matter, I would ask the secretary to explain the apparent breakdown in communication in this very sensitive area of public policy and what she, as the policy minister, is going to do about the establishment of a policy in this area?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, it was, as the member pointed out, brought to my attention during the estimates of the Provincial Secretariat for Social Development. It was discussed at the staff level. Unfortunately, it was not brought to the minister’s attention.
Mr. Nixon: As a supplementary I would ask the minister in her position, having jurisdiction in the policy area, what steps does she intend to take to set a policy on this very important yet sensitive matter on some basis whereby it is meaningful not only to the people directly concerned, but also to their parents and others.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I’d like to refer that question to the Minister of Health.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Since the matter arose yesterday, I have held several meetings with members of my staff last evening and this morning. I’ve had a chance to speak with Dr. Zarfas. I have a request in to Mr. Perry for a meeting to get his perspective on it. I have prepared and had approved by the registrar of regulations a regulation which would prohibit for nine months, within which the issue can be resolved, the performance of sterilization on anyone under the age of 16 except under certain medical conditions.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, can either minister inform the House how often the policy secretariat has met since November 7 and why this sensitive issue hasn’t been discussed by the minister responsible? Why has it been constantly referred to staff?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The policy field meets every Thursday. We have a very full agenda which --
Mr. Foulds: Does the minister mean she has had at least five meetings since that time and she never raised that matter?
Mr. Warner: You haven’t dealt with it?
Mr. McClellan: Wonderful, wonderful.
Mr. Speaker: Order, the question has already been asked.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary to the minister: Given that this issue involves the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, as well as the right of parents to make that kind of decision, is there any secretariat policy position with respect to such parental rights?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I think the honourable member will be aware that it also involves the Attorney General’s office, which is the Justice policy field. We will be bringing together all the ministries involved in this very sensitive area to discuss the policy in this particular field.
An hon. member: Why didn’t you do it before?
Mr. McClellan: I’ll ask the Minister of Health, is it his intention to bring forward either legislation or regulations which will require a court hearing and the issuance of a court order before a sterilization under the authority of a substitute consent will be permitted?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member is stating what he would like to see as a conclusion of this review. Perhaps he’d suggest we find the facts to support it.
Mr. Deans: We’d like to see the review.
Mr. McClellan: We know what the facts are and we know what your performance is.
Mr. Martel: You have got it buried.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There’s hardly anything more sensitive, I’m sure, than the question of consent for surgical procedures as it relates to the retarded. It’s clear in the review I’ve been able to make of the matter in the last 24 hours and looking again at the memo which I got last week, that this is a perplexing issue a solution to which has evaded a number of people for a number of years.
Mr. McClellan: Be careful what you’re saying.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am being very careful.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Saskatchewan was the leader in this field, you might remember. Saskatchewan started the whole thing.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The matter having been raised with me by a member of my staff last week and the matter having been raised here yesterday, I intend to take the kind of action I’ve discussed, assuming that the gentleman responsible for raising the issue in the first place can assure me that what I propose to do does address the problem as they’ve outlined it.
COST OF ROYAL COMMISSIONS
Mr. Nixon: I’d like to direct a question to the Premier about the cost of royal commission, a subject of great interest to him and to others. Since the provincial auditor brings to the attention of the members of the House and the public once again excessive expenditures, immoderate expenditures and those not properly vouchered, is the Premier satisfied with the guidelines which were rather informally announced some months ago, or would he agree with me that those guidelines simply are not working and that it will be necessary for the government through one of its emanations to do something about controlling the kind of costs that were reported by the auditor yesterday?
Among the figures available, the Premier is aware that we’ve spent about $10 million on royal commissions in the last five years. I certainly would like to know what his policy is in this connection.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I could be prompted into giving a lengthy dissertation on how some royal commissions came about and the prompting we’ve had from members opposite for the creation of certain royal commissions.
Mr. Laughren: Just answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In fact, I could go into certain activities of standing and select committees and how they incur certain expenditures on the part of the taxpayers. I find that some of them have led to totally conclusive results that are contrary to the wishes of some members opposite but which were initiated because of their insistence.
I won’t do that, although the temptation is very great.
Mr. MacDonald: Now for the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m being provocative. I tell the members opposite on this issue they should become provoked on occasion and exercise a greater degree of responsibility, if I can pass that advice on to them. I do that in a very friendly fashion.
As it relates to the expenditure guidelines for royal commissions, it’s very difficult --
Mr. J. Reed: How’s Judy these days?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Judy’s fine.
Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: She was a great member of the federal Liberal Party. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, you wouldn’t believe Sault Ste. Marie and the Liberal Party of Ontario up there.
Mr. Cunningham: What’s that got to do with the question?
An hon. member: The Liberals treat you royally.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think the acting Leader of the Opposition would understand that royal commissions probably break themselves down into two categories. There are those that are established for the study of certain things, where I think it is easier to establish limitations or controls on economic matters. This is something the government is prepared to take a look at again and see if the ground rules are sufficiently firm to ensure that there aren’t any abuses. I don’t pretend for a moment to have the complete answer.
Then there is the other kind of royal commission, with which the acting Leader of the Opposition is more familiar, which could be described as being investigative -- I guess that is the best way to describe it -- where I think it is very difficult to impose, shall we say, financial limitations on a commissioner or the staff who are responsible for the investigation that is being carried on by that commission.
It’s very difficult for government to impose limitations in those cases. In fact, I can see the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) nodding her head in great knowledge on the subject. I think she must share with me the same concern if we, as a government, said to a royal commissioner involved in an investigative type of commission, “You only have X number of dollars to spend.”
There are two different kinds of commissions. I’ll certainly discuss the one type of commission with the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) to see if we can firm up to a greater extent some of the expenditures guidelines.
But I do say -- and I’ll not be facetious about this -- there are those other kinds of commissions that are established from time to time, quite often at the insistence of members opposite, where I think we can’t as a government say to a judge, “You only have X dollars to spend,” when there may be some investigation that is necessary, over which government has not and should not have any control.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Since the Premier has indicated in his answer his sensitivity to the requirements of opposition members in royal commissions, I am tempted to ask him about those circumstances where they were requested and, in fact, demanded where he did not see fit to appoint them. But I won’t ask that question. I will, however, Mr. Speaker, ask the Premier a question on a subject which will be dear to his heart and in which the member for St. George will be interested as well.
Would it be possible that the strengthened guidelines direct the commissioners to select their legal counsel from perhaps those people already available within the Ministry of the Attorney General or within the government service since we are told by the auditor one of these select committees had a bill for $146,833 for legal counsel alone? Surely, that is an area where we should be contemplating cutting back. We’re concerned about the people eating 10 meals a day, but I’ll tell you, I am more concerned about the cost of legal advice.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can express the same concern about the cost of legal fees. While I have a certain sympathy for that profession, but not having practised since about 1959 or 1960, I’m not as familiar as the member for Kitchener would be, or some others.
Mr. Worton: Lawyers do come high.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I may some day have that opportunity, but when that opportunity does arise for me I don’t expect the member to necessarily remind me of that opportunity in that he himself may not be here at that precise moment in history.
Mr. Breithaupt: I doubt if you will often appear in provincial courts.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not that clairvoyant that I can see that far ahead.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh now, the member opposite knows he has his tongue in both cheeks at once and I don’t know how he accomplishes that. In fact, I’m always delighted when he smiles as he makes those remarks.
Mr. Speaker: Can we get back to legal fees, please?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, are you looking for legal advice and wondering what fees are? I don’t know myself.
Mr. Speaker: I’m wondering if the Premier would answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can’t comment as to whether that was a reasonable fee to be charged to that committee.
Mr. Nixon: I can.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk can because he is not a lawyer.
Mr. Nixon: Precisely.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Precisely, and the member for St. George is applauding vigorously. I’m told that when she practised law she always charged the tariff. I was told she did.
Mr. Nixon: The Premier brings his conflicts in here. He can’t abandon any of his conflicts.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the acting Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, once again I think the question arises as to whether or not a counsel to a select committee, certainly a royal commission, should be a member of the government service, and I’m prepared to take a look at this.
I just had handed to me a pretty detailed request by Management Board for the administration on royal commissions. It’s pretty detailed. It’s pretty comprehensive.
Mr. Martel: It’s just a little higher.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’d be delighted to get a copy run off -- we can only afford one -- and send it over to the acting Leader of the Opposition and see whether he really doesn’t think it covers most of it. I’ll send it over to him, but not today.
Mr. T. P. Reid: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can I ask the Premier if he recalls, in view of his earlier comments, the LaMarsh commission on violence which has no jurisdiction in the province? It was set up without any request from this side of the House and, in fact, my former leader said he would do away with it if we formed the government.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right, I said there are two kinds of guidelines.
Mr. Martel: Is that for political reasons?
Mr. T. P. Reid: I think the government has to accept the responsibility for some of these things.
The problem, Mr. Speaker, is not with the guidelines. The fact is, they’re not in force. Will the Premier make a commitment to this House to make it known to royal commissioners, whether they be judges or otherwise, that they’re dealing with taxpayers’ money and they must follow Management Board guidelines, which I think are generous enough as they are? In fact, will he make it known they have to follow those guidelines and anything over and above those will come out of their own pockets? I think then they would be a lot more careful.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think we’re all a lot more careful when things come out of our pockets, whether we’re commissioners or members of the Legislature. I think we all have that human reaction to the economic realities of life. I don’t think the member who asked that question is any exception to that. In fact, I’m sure he isn’t.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Probably more sensitive.
Hon. Mr. Davis: As I pointed out to him earlier, I understand the distinction between the LaMarsh commission and one or two others that I won’t name, and I do know we did initiate the one. I know the members opposite are not as concerned about violence in the media as some of the rest of us. I think we’ve seen some demonstrations of this in the past year or so, but I’ll leave that for a debate on some other occasion.
I will also undertake to do this. I will provide the distinguished member with a copy of the Management Board guidelines, and I think they are relatively good.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I have a copy. They are not enforced.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The question of enforcement, Mr. Speaker, I’ll certainly take up with the Chairman of Management Board because I think we’ve demonstrated conclusively as a government and even as a party our commitment to restraint. Our commitment to the proper utilization of taxpayers’ money is in no way exceeded by that of the members opposite.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Port Arthur with a new question.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Does the Minister of Education recall this promise made in the throne speech of February 1978:
“In addition, a demonstration school will be established for limited numbers of children with severe learning disabilities who require services which can only be provided in a residential facility”? Does she further recall the commitment by her predecessor, the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells), to establish the Trillium School at Milton by January 1, 1979? Does she propose to carry out that promise? How does she propose to carry it out in view of the fact her ministry has not yet hired a program director for the school, or any staff for the school?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the first three questions is yes; and the answer to the fourth one is we are in the process of doing so.
Hon. Mr. Davis: How do you like that for a succinct answer?
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: How does the minister expect to have in place a legitimate and viable program for kids with severe learning handicaps by January 1, 1979, when to this date she has not hired a program director, she has not hired any staff, and my information is she has not even advertised for those positions?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, with our specific concern to find the appropriate places for employment for masters of teaching who were employed within the Ontario Teachers Education Colleges, we have specifically not advertised for any jobs which might become available through the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, with the agreement of the MAIA and the union. That is indeed, the source we are looking at for those who will he functioning in those roles.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: It was also announced that a similar school would be set up in Ottawa for French-speaking students. What progress has been made on that?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is on the drawing board and I anticipate we will be making an announcement about it within the next two or three months.
Mr. Laughren: The minister is going to do to special education what she did to occupational health.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Port Arthur.
Mr. Foulds: Is it not true the minister has had the draft proposal on her desk, or the deputy minister’s desk for the last two months? What is taking the proposal for the way in which she is going to staff, and the way she is going to set up the program so long? She has not taken any action on that. How does she expect to have staff in place, even from the two bodies she cites, when she has not made definite commitments or contacts with them?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the definite commitments have been made; and no, it has not been on my desk for two months; and yes, it is finalized.
Mr. McClellan: We’ll see. We’ll see.
Mr. Foulds: All I can ask, rhetorically, Mr. Speaker, is I fail to see how the minister is going to be able to implement that program.
Mr. McClellan: How can the minister justify that?
Mr. Speaker: I think that was reflected in one of your supplementaries.
Mr. Foulds: I have a question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the joint announcements between the federal and provincial governments on Friday last on roads and reforestation. Can I ask the Treasurer, in the light of his previous experience and his position presently as the chief distributor of funds for the province, if he can tell us what commitment he has obtained, or the two levels of government have obtained, from the private sector with regard to the reforestation money announced on Friday last? Can he indicate to us what commitments they have made with regard to the maintenance of roads and nursery stock?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, when I was Minister of Natural Resources, I was obviously involved in the discussions leading up to this kind of an agreement.
Mr. Martel: You mean two for one.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The honourable member also has followed with some interest the progress we have been making in an attempt to both regenerate our forests better and to harvest them better. One of the key issues was the creation of roads, particularly for the mature stands some long distance back from either the mills or current cutting operations. Often, let’s say, there was a lack of economic justification to the company to push these through to areas our ministries would have believed were best cut first.
First, the kind of co-operation we have under the DREE agreement for this sector, I think should be welcomed. Second, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Northern Affairs combined will carefully monitor to make sure there is adequate control and companies are not simply using our money to do things they otherwise would have had to do.
I think the details are best given in terms of the way they will be monitored by the operating ministers.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, and perhaps the minister could take this as notice: Could he get from the appropriate ministers the details about the maintenance of the roads? Will they be maintained by the Ministry of Northern Affairs or the Ministry of Natural Resources? Will they remain open to the public and not be closed arbitrarily, as has happened with some company roads?
In other words, can the minister give us the assurance that, if public moneys are going into these roads to develop a good network for reforestation, the public also will have access in terms of recreation, trapping and other activities?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would have to check, probably with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) in that case, to see the latest status of those agreements. I certainly know those issues were discussed when I was there, but I would have to check with him to see whether they have been finalized.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister indicate whether there are any requirements being made by the government in regard to companies investing in new equipment and upgrading their operations and perhaps, in doing so, buying Canadian-made equipment as part of the deal of participating and receiving these funds that are going to be available under the Department of Regional Economic Expansion program?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I can’t swear that is part of it. I would be glad to check for the member and let him know.
Again, in my estimates we had a long discussion on the Canadian content of some of the more specialized machinery required for the regeneration and harvesting of forests and for mines. I know this was brought up a lot by my critic in the New Democratic Party. One can only buy that which is produced here; that’s step number one. Secondly, up to date we have not generally required companies to pay premiums for equipment made in Canada. We were arguing just the opposite. When we want to sell Canadian-made turbine generators out west, we would dearly love to be able to say to British Columbia, “You must buy Canadian first.” So far that kind of willingness has not been visible.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That doesn’t square with the Treasurer’s colleague in Industry and Tourism.
Mr. Foulds: Will the minister undertake to table the federal-provincial agreement in the House so that all members can see the text of the entire agreement?
Mr. T. P. Reid: It hasn’t been signed yet.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think that’s a public document, and I would be glad to make it available on that basis.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, recently the member for Nickel Belt asked me a question regarding the practice of the Workmen’s Compensation Board of culling the temporary disability benefits paid to workers who apply for Canada Pension Plan benefits.
Canada Pension Plan benefits are payable to workers who suffer from a severe or prolonged mental or physical disability that is likely to leave them incapable of any sustained work for long periods of time. By applying for CPP assistance, a worker is admitting that he is in fact not available for modified work and the vocational rehabilitation programs that the board operates. Thus, he is no longer complying with the sections of the act that deal with temporary disability.
However, the mere act of applying for CPP assistance should, in my view, not result in the immediate cutting of benefits. Any changes in the payment of benefits should only take place after the worker has received his CPP benefits, and I will forward this view to the chairman.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that, while what he is telling us fits in under section 42 of the act, in fact section 53 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act allows the board -- indeed, I have cases in my own constituency where workers receiving full benefits equivalent to total temporary disability benefits are receiving the Canada Pension Plan benefits as well as the total temporary disability benefits.
How does the minister explain the inconsistency of one injured worker receiving CPP plus total temporary disability benefits on rehabilitation, and another injured worker who is also willing to be rehabilitated, and indeed wants to be rehabilitated, having his benefits reduced or even terminated simply because he has applied for CPP. When is the minister going to bring some consistency to the Workmen’s Compensation Board instead of whispering sweet nothings in our ears from day to day?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: On a point of privilege: I refuse to whisper sweet nothings in his ear.
Mr. Laughren: You weren’t asked.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would like to make it clear that I share the member’s view with regard to the immediate cutting of benefits upon application for CPP and I will advise the chairman of the board that is my view and await his response.
With regard to the other question the member raised, I will have to look into that because I wasn’t aware of that situation. But I hope he doesn’t try to get close to me either.
Mr. Blundy: I have a question for the Premier, dealing with three specific instances of what I can only refer to as blackmail tactics of the Tory government in Alberta against the Ontario petrochemical industry.
Given the fact that the giant Petrosar plant in Sarnia was denied purchase permits for oil by the government of Alberta, leaving Petrosar, as a result, with purchase agreements with Shell Oil and Gulf Oil for their required 170,000 barrels of crude oil per day; and given the fact that Dow Chemical was forced to build its polyurethane plant in Edmonton and then turned around and built a pipeline to its ethylene plant at Sarnia; and given the fact that the CIL polyethylene plant, which according to its president should logically be located in Lambton because of feedstock, proximity to its market and the fact that the company owns 1,200 acres there --
Mr. Speaker: That are a lot of “givens.”
Can we have a question now?
Mr. Blundy: -- is now rumoured to be going to Alberta, I want the Premier of the province to tell the House what he is doing in his relationships with the government of Alberta --
Mr. Martel: They are in bed together.
Mr. Blundy: -- to protect the people of Ontario, to protect the petrochemical industry and to protect the workers of Ontario?
Mr. Sweeney: Just imagine what is going to happen when Clark gets in.
Mr. MacDonald: Deal with the question, not the preamble, or we will be here for a week.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What am I doing? I am doing an awful lot more than the stated policy of the Liberal Party of Ontario would do to help resolve this issue.
I have spent some time discussing this with people of Petrosar and others involved. I discussed this at great length with the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson), who is totally knowledgeable and familiar with the situation, and I have to tell the member for Sarnia we were working on this long before he even became a member of this Legislature.
I can only say to the member for Sarnia that there are two aspects. One is not a question of blackmail by the province of Alberta. I am not suggesting for a moment that their policy is consistent with our industrial objectives here. I have to say to him that Dow made a free choice with respect to the location of its facility.
I am also told by the people of Petrosar that there is sufficient market in the petrochemical field that there will be ample room for expansion of Petrosar to deal with the midwest and eastern markets and certainly any petrochemical industry in Alberta will be viable for the western United States, particularly the state of California. We have spent quite a bit of time in discussion with them.
The crucial issue is the cost of the feedstock. I wonder whether the member would convey his concern to his own leader, if he could communicate with him even this afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie, and say to the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario, “Please Mr. Leader, will you understand that going to world price or even the Chicago American price when the price for the basic petrochemical industry in the gulf states is lower than it is in Chicago, is one of the crucial elements in the economic viability of the petrochemical industry in Lambton and in Sarnia?”
If the member will help me with his leader to get some rationale with respect to the price of energy, we will continue to do our part to see that expansion continues to take place and that we are economically competitive, as we have been doing for the past three or four years.
Mr. Blundy: Supplementary: I am not asking the Premier anything about the price of oil.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: But that’s crucial.
An hon. member: That never stopped him
Mr. Blundy: I want to know what the Premier is doing to try to put forth the need for oil supplies to the petrochemical industry, and to try to stop this pirating of our industries to Alberta by the government of Alberta.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Pirating, my foot.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think it’s kind of obvious. I have been to the plant. I think the honourable member, perhaps on one of his weekends, has also visited it. I am sure he has some discussion on it. I have to tell him there’s a major capital investment there which received the encouragement of this government. They were here to discuss it.
I happen to know the availability of feedstock is essential. I happen to know they are getting it but I tell the member it is also very crucial what price they pay. If they haven’t conveyed this to him I would be very surprised. It may be that he doesn’t understand it.
An hon. member: That’s pretty arrogant.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They would also ask me to ask him, because they have raised this with me, “Would you please help me and this government in communicating to the leader of your party just how sensible it would be to have a price that is less than world price, or even the Chicago price, as it relates to the petrochemical industry and the consumers of this province?”
Mr. Peterson: You are misrepresenting the position; you just don’t understand it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: His party hasn’t yet realized just how foolish it is to support Mr. Gillespie in his great design to get to world price --
Mr. Bradley: Call Joe Clark.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- although I must confess, in fairness to him, it is quite obvious in the past two weeks he now recognizes that Ontario’s concern for the economy and the need to keep the price of natural gas and oil down to be competitive is now the realistic policy for energy pricing. I must congratulate Mr. Gillespie on his sudden understanding of the issue --
Mr. Laughren: Yours too.
Mr. McClellan: To say nothing of yours.
Mr. Foulds: To say nothing of your flip-flop.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- even though I am not encouraged it will extend much past July or next January.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order: I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you would not want the Premier’s statement to go by as it might tend to mislead some members of the House, when in fact it was his Minister of Energy (Mr. Auld) who was trying to persuade the government of Canada to accept an additional dollar on January 1; if it hadn’t been for the government of Canada we would have been paying it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, or privilege --
Mr. Nixon: You can’t have it both ways.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- I have to tell the acting leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario that there are some days we really wish he was back. There might be some enlightenment across the road.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The Minister of Energy did not encourage the federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to go ahead with the dollar increase on January 1. Our statement and our policy have been totally consistent. This is the one government, and perhaps the only government in Canada, that has urged the government to see that our price did not get to world price. That’s their policy, it is not ours.
Mr. Nixon: You approved those increases in 1973.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: He did not.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We stated it very clearly, and we are probably the only one who urged Mr. Gillespie at the first ministers’ conference by saying to him: “yes, don’t raise the price on January 1, 1979.” We went one step further in case the member didn’t read the press or didn’t watch television. We also said: “Don’t commit yourself to January 1, 1980, because we think that would be the wrong policy decision to make as well.”
Mr. Peterson: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: There was never a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You people want world price.
Mr. Peterson: You’ve been misrepresenting our position for years.
Mr. Ashe: Throw him out.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You don’t know what you are talking about.
Mr. Bradley: It’s time for another Kingston conference.
Mr. Peterson: There’s not an honourable man among you.
Mr. Young: I would like to redirect a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, a question which I asked of the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) yesterday and he suggested a redirection. Perhaps the minister heard at that point. It’s concerning a statement by David Medhurst, president of Medhurst Hogg and Associates, which specializes in marketing and managing condominiums, as reported in the current issue of Alcan News.
He says almost every brick veneer apartment building and townhouse in Toronto has a water penetration problem. George Fleming, building commissioner of Scarborough, says that 50 per cent of the apartment buildings in the city leak. Jack Steeles of the property standards department of the borough thinks the percentage of leaking apartment buildings is even higher.
The reason for this is quoted as being “partly due to the construction technique of bonding every seventh course of bricks into the masonry wall. This clamps the two rigidly together and makes cracking inevitable as bricks and masonry shrink and shift under southern Ontario’s temperature extremes.” This is a problem which is very prevalent throughout Metro and other parts of the province.
Mr. Speaker: Will you get to the question, please?
Mr. Young: The question is: Is the minister aware of this, as I suppose he is, and does he consider that an alteration of the building code is necessary in the light of these facts?
Mr. Kerrio: Tell him we’re not going to build any more houses out of brick.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to look at is exactly when the apartments this gentleman is talking about were built, because the new building code corrected a great many difficulties. I find it somewhat significant that the member has quoted two or three local building commissioners, who prior to the introduction of the province-wide building code used to have their own building codes and were responsible for this.
In general, Mr. Speaker, I will take the question as notice. I will reply to the member in some detail prior to the end of the session.
Mr. Young: Supplementary: Perhaps, while the minister is looking into this, he could look into the report which was tabled at the Scarborough municipal council on May 5, 1978, and which stated: “Water penetration in buildings: We recommend improved inspection and workmanship controls.” Also, they recommended six specific changes in the building code. I repeat that this was in May of this year.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I will look into it. But I remind the honourable member that during the work in the standing committee and the committee of the whole House on Bill 103, the new Condominium Act, there was a commitment by the government to introduce amendments to the building code in the spring session.
Hon. Mr. Urea: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) asked a question some days ago concerning wood stoves. His particular concerns were that it would appear no one is looking after the standards for their installation and that the minister should consider publishing a booklet warning consumers of some of the dangers of heating a house with wood.
To the first concern, I am informed that the first draft of a standard on the manufacture of solid-fuel-burning appliances -- that is, both wood and coal -- is now being examined by members of the Canadian Standards Association committee involved in its development. We could see a final version published next year.
A similar standard on installation has been commenced, but it is not as far advanced and it relates to existing houses. The building code provides installation requirements only for new houses.
To the request for consumer information on solid-fuel-burning appliances, I would refer the honourable members to a recently published booklet entitled Heating with Wood Safely. It deals with the selection, installation and maintenance of space heaters or furnaces, and appears to be a booklet of the type the member for Kent-Elgin may have had in mind. It is available from Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and it is bilingual. I have checked with CMHC; they have plenty of them available and they would be delighted if people would contact them at their publications section, Montreal Road, Ottawa.
In addition, the ministry is in the process of preparing a draft release concerning the cautions of adding wood-burning units to a furnace -- not new wood stoves, but adding wood-burning units to an existing furnace. These add-ons have generated some concerns on the part of both the fire marshal and the energy safety branch of my ministry.
In the meantime, before anyone installs, or in the event anyone has already installed, one of these add-ons -- I’m not talking about a new furnace; I’m talking about a unit added on to an existing oil or gas furnace or space heater -- he should contact his local fire department. If the local fire department cannot be of assistance in the matter, then he should get in touch with the energy safety branch of my ministry at 400 University Avenue.
I will have that draft release available for members in the next few days, as it is likely almost every member will be sending out his constituency report. This release might prove a valuable addition in the areas where people are either using wood stoves for primary heat, or adding them on to existing furnaces.
Mr. Laughren: Your information is always suspect.
Mr. Conway: Can I sell you a cord or two, Frank?
DRUG TREATMENT FOR STUDENTS
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Education: There was an article in the Toronto morning paper indicating that certain students in the board of education for the borough of Scarborough system were being subjected to drug treatment as a condition of remaining in the school, said treatment being directed at the students apparently on the basis of their being hyperactive. This drug treatment was apparently being used against the wishes of the parents of the students and without the consent of the parents. Could the minister advise the House if there is any authority by which the school boards can impose this type of treatment to children, and if so, how widespread a practice is this in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no authority for school boards to administer any kind of medication to any child. The authority for prescribing and administering such medication, as is suggested in this article, resides totally with physicians within this province. Physicians prescribe on the basis of physical examinations, and hopefully with the consent or the support of the parents, in order to solve a problem.
I find the report most perplexing, because it is entirely an unusual situation, and I have asked for a complete investigation of this matter in order to determine how this child received the medication which is listed within the article without the approval of the parents and apparently without any prescription by a physician, which is entirely wrong, against the law, unethical and immoral.
Mr. Foulds: It’s also bad.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Sounds like a description of the government.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister -- and I certainly share her perplexity -- when she has finished investigating would report back to the assembly as to what her findings are. If, in fact, the report bears out to be entirely accurate, could she indicate what action she will take to ensure that the rights of the children are protected in the school system?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’d be delighted to report back to the assembly. It would be hypothetical at this point to even suggest that the report is entirely accurate, but I shall certainly make that report to the assembly.
FOOD LAND GUIDELINES
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food in connection with the government’s statement on planning for agriculture: Can the minister tell us how he plans to make sure that the food land guidelines are adopted by the municipalities since he stated at the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee that municipalities will merely be encouraged to protect farm land? Specifically, what did the minister mean when he stated at the PMLC meeting: “I can assure you that we have said there will be no legislation, but the guidelines will be backed by the province”?
Furthermore, how can the minister possibly perceive this to be any kind of a policy when the guidelines state: “Where a change to an official plan establishes a new area for development it is expected that the procedures in the guidelines will be followed. Municipalities with official plans not in conformity with the guidelines are encouraged to review and update their plans. With plans now under review and the regular amendment of plans, it is expected that official plans will be brought into conformity with the guidelines”?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, quite obviously the honourable member doesn’t really realize how government works and I’m surprised to hear that.
Mr. Riddell: That’s right!
Mr. Foulds: We know that yours works badly.
Hon. W. Newman: You might all get a lesson in it if you don’t understand.
Hon. W. Newman: Maybe you’re not aware that under the Planning Act of the province of Ontario all official plans, zoning changes --
Mr. Conway: Just another sodbuster.
Hon. W. Newman: Do you want to hear the answer?
Mr. Riddell: Yes.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, he doesn’t want to know.
Hon. W. Newman: If you don’t want to know, say so.
Mr. Conway: Tell us how government works.
Hon. W. Newman: All right, under the present system in this government, all official plans, zoning by-laws and subdivisions which require changes in official plans, zoning bylaws must be submitted to the provincial Minister of Housing for his approval. Upon his receiving these he circulates them to every ministry. That official plan and these zoning bylaws are circulated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. We apply the food land guidelines to those official plans and zoning bylaws --
Mr. MacDonald: And they ignore them.
Mr. Riddell: What happens if they ignore them?
Hon. W. Newman: -- and we make our recommendations back to the Minister of Housing --
Mr. MacDonald: And they ignore them.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and many times, in most cases -- and I’ve said there are times that land will move out of agriculture because we can’t stop the world, and I use Niagara as an example -- but in many other cases where official plans have been sent back, official plans are still waiting in the ministry’s office now because of the comments of the Minister of Agriculture and Food relating to the food land guidelines. That’s how it works, and that’s how it works very effectively.
Mr. Riddell: Just as the member for York South says, they all ignore them; and the minister knows it.
Hon. W. Newman: That’s not true.
Mr. Riddell: As a supplementary, how can the minister state that he is sincere about preserving agricultural land when his government has repeatedly contradicted and undermined these guidelines? I give as examples Barrie’s annexation; the town of Hanover’s proposed annexation; proposed agrominium development on prime farm land; and the land severance case in Scugog. In all these the cabinet overturned the decision of the local authorities, whose decisions were based on the guidelines.
Mr. Nixon: And one in Oxford.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And you left out Grey.
Hon. W. Newman: Sometimes we forget about --
Mr. Riddell: Tell us about Scugog.
Hon. W. Newman: I’d like to. Let’s talk about the Niagara escarpment.
Hon. W. Newman: What about over there on the Niagara escarpment? What about the big decisions we made down in the Niagara peninsula?
Hon. W. Newman: What about the member’s leader’s great exhortations about restoring farm land that he put in writing? Look at those, too.
What I’m saying is that this government is geared to preserving the best agricultural land in the province. We have said it should only be taken out of agricultural use with good and justifiable reason. We still stand behind that.
Mr. Swart: I’d like to ask the minister if he’s aware the majority of municipalities in this province do not have official plans? Therefore, what steps is he taking to assure there will be any official plans to amend with respect to the guidelines? Secondly, as has already been pointed out, the municipalities are not following their stated policies. What steps is his ministry going to take to ensure the guidelines which are included in the official plans will be followed by the municipalities? They have not been up to this time.
Hon. W. Newman: I’d like to answer the question and tell the member one thing: he would legislate us out of existence in this province if he had his way about it. That’s what he would do. He got a lot of mileage --
Hon. Mr. Davis: What about Stoney Creek?
Hon. W. Newman: I’d like to answer his question, but that’s the story of the life of that gentleman over there, if you can call him one -- and you can. I said if you can, I’m sorry.
May I say to the honourable member that the official plans of the municipalities, counties and regions of this province are working very closely with my food lands branch --
Mr. Swart: When you have no answer you have to do something.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and are doing a very conscientious and sincere job of putting together official plans to make agricultural zoning meaningful. The Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, representing the elected people in the municipalities in this province, want it this way, but the member wants to go contrary to them. He is saying the municipalities are not responsible enough to do a proper job. I’m saying they are responsible people; they are elected and will do a proper job.
Mr. Nixon: The minister has indicated his confidence in the municipalities, and although many of them do not have official plans, most of the agricultural ones have zoning bylaws. If that is the case, how can the minister, as a member of the cabinet, take action to reverse the decisions made by local planning authorities -- in the instance he well knows in Oxford, and in Scugog and others -- where the decision made by local planning authorities to preserve farm land, upheld by the Ontario Municipal Board, was reversed by this cabinet without any reason given?
Mr. Speaker: The question has already been asked by your colleague.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, we would like an answer to it. He has refused to answer it.
Mr. Eakins: Stick to the point.
Mr. Speaker: It’s already been asked.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, when you ask about cabinet decisions, on appeals that come to cabinet, that does not come under my jurisdiction.
Mr. Nixon: How else does government work?
Hon. W. Newman: That comes under Chairman of Cabinet (Mr. Henderson).
Mr. Breaugh: Oh, oh.
Hon. W. Newman: You know the procedure. The Chairman of Cabinet deals with them and makes recommendations.
Mr. Nixon: The minister phones the Chairman of Cabinet and he fixes it.
Hon. W. Newman: All right. The appeal on the Scugog case, about which the member for Oshawa has questions on the Order Paper, is one we’re all familiar with.
Mr. Swart: And we have no answers.
Hon. W. Newman: We all know about it. I know about it, but that question should be directed to the appropriate ministry in that particular case.
Mr. Breaugh: You betcha.
Mr. Deans: Who is it?
Hon. W. Newman: The decision is made by cabinet and decisions come from the Chairman of Cabinet.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, could I redirect that?
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: Since the Ontario Institute of Agrologists and the rural Ontario municipalities have requested and urged this government to pass legislation designating class one, two and three land and special crop land to be preserved for future food production, why is the government so adamant in refusing to pass that legislation so that it can halt the destruction of prime agricultural land while these official plans are being developed?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I happen to be a member of that particular organization myself, and I’m well aware of the recommendations that were put forward.
Mr. Breaugh: Which organization?
Hon. W. Newman: I already explained to the member today, if he was listening, some of the other answers.
Mr. MacDonald: I was listening.
Hon. W. Newman: I’m glad to hear the member was listening, because I already explained the process you go through to preserve agricultural land.
Mr. Foulds: There is a public-address system. You don’t have to shout
Hon. W. Newman: If he will read Hansard, he will find exactly how I answered his question.
CONTINUOUS COLOUR COAT LIMITED
Mr. Philip: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment, concerning the emissions of certain odours and gases from Continuous Colour Coat Limited in Rexdale. Is the minister aware that at the request of his ministry for comment on this problem, Dr. Fitch of the Ministry of Labour has now stated he cannot categorically say emissions are entirely harmless without knowing the concentration of these emissions? Will the minister assure the residents in this area that studies of the concentrations will be done in the very near future so they will know what is coming out of that plant and bothering them in their neighbourhood?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I don’t think there is any doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the concentration of any emission is of considerable importance in the assessment of the dangers involved. With regards to the second portion of the member’s question, yes, we will be glad to supply that information.
Mr. Philip: I wonder if the minister would comment on, when an answer will likely be forthcoming on that, since part of Dr. Fitch’s statement is that it’s with the help of the Ministry of the Environment that eventually we will be able to get a specific answer? Could he also tell us what studies will be done and when will they be completed on this particular matter, since it’s a matter the ministry has been working on for some time now?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Since the House is about to close, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be wise to tell the member we would get that to him personally rather than do it here in the House. We’ll communicate those dates to him in the next day or two. In the next day or two we’ll tell the member by what date we’ll have that information completed.
DURHAM REGIONAL CHAIRMAN
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier, in the absence of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
An hon. member: There he is.
Mr. Epp: Oh, I’ll address it to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hall: Saved by the bell.
Mr. Deans: I don’t know why they keep asking the Premier questions.
Mr. Epp: Given the regional municipality of Durham held an election for a chairman on December 6 of this year; and given the appointed chairman, Mr. Beath, whom the minister’s government initially appointed, broke the 15-15 tie in favour of himself, in opposition to a duly elected member of the regional council; and given this action was contrary to the procedures adopted by council in 1974 and not revised by council since that date, and given the 30 regional councillors voting were sworn in but Mr. Beath was not sworn in as a member of regional council -- in fact Mr. Speaker he was not even in the chair, does the minister not believe Mr. Beath erred in voting on this matter and that the procedure adopted by regional council in 1974 should have been employed by the Durham regional council?
Mr. Ashe: No.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, this has been brought to our attention. I’ve asked our lawyers to look into it. The opinion that’s been given to me is that the matter --
Mr. Peterson: Sub judice, eh?
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- was handled properly and Mr. Beath is the duly elected chairman of Durham region. If anyone feels that is not so, the proper course of action is for them to take the matter in some way or manner to the courts.
Mr. Epp: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister could tell us if Mr. Beath had not been a candidate for this office whether he still would have had the opportunity of breaking a tie if a tie would have developed for some other person, even if he were retiring from that particular position?
Mr. Nixon: Just trying to keep Pilkey out of the chairmanship.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, that is a hypothetical question. I am not a lawyer and I wouldn’t presume to answer that.
Mr. Epp: It is a legal question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All I am going to answer for the member today is that --
Mr. Deans: If he was entitled to a vote, he was entitled to a vote.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- instead of dealing in hypothetical questions I am dealing in the actual reality of what happened. Based on what happened there, I am told nothing illegal occurred in the selection of the chairman of the regional municipality of Durham.
Mr. Warner: Pretty shabby.
Mr. Breaugh: I would like to ask the minister if he then intends to ignore the request from the mayor of the city of Oshawa to at least review the procedure, if not order a new vote?
Hon. W. Newman: He just said that. You weren’t listening.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, actually the letter is to the Premier, and perhaps my friend would like to ask the Premier. But certainly if the mayor of Oshawa asks me I will tell him exactly what I just told this House --
Mr. Breaugh: Love to.
Mr. Nixon: He will check with Lorne.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and suggest that if he doesn’t like the decision he should see if there is some legal remedy through the courts that he could use.
Mr. Peterson: We will go right to the top.
PURETEX KNITTING COMPANY
Mr. Bounsall: I have a question of the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. Now that your mediation officers, Jean Read and Ray Illing, have failed in their mediation attempts today to move Puretex one iota in their bargaining position with respect to the workers, including the disagreement over electronic surveillance, will the minister now intervene directly in that dispute to try and achieve a solution, and if necessary tomorrow introduce in this House amendments either to the Employments Standards Act or the Ontario Human Rights Commission that will outlaw electronic surveillance in the work place?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the member is more informed about today’s events than I am, but I will certainly discuss what did occur today in the negotiations with my mediation staff and proceed from there as I see fit. I can only reiterate what I have said on other days about the problem of electronic surveillance. It is not an easy one, we are reviewing it, and we do hope to be able to deal with it shortly.
Mrs. Campbell: Does the minister not understand that when it comes to this mediation the decision of the human rights commission is very much a part of it and that it does need the minister’s support in the mediation process so far as the surveillance itself is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the member for St. George that I met with the solicitor for the employees at Puretex yesterday afternoon and we had some discussions, which should at this time remain confidential. I want to assure her that I have no hesitation about intervening personally if I think it will accomplish anything, and I did indeed meet personally with each of the parties and I will do so again if I feel it will be of assistance.
Mr. Mackenzie: What are you going to do about the cameras? That’s the question.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, during the Labour estimates the minister indicated that he was reviewing the matter with the intention of coming to a decision around whether there would be a board of inquiry under the human rights legislation. When is he going to make that decision? The deadline is past.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am still reviewing that matter, and I still have the same intention that I spoke about in the committee that day.
HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARDS AT LCBO STORES
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Is the minister aware that the Port Hope LCBO store is contaminated with unacceptable levels of radon 222, and even though ministry officials have known this for over two years the radon hazard has not been removed? Is the minister aware of this hazard to the store employees and to the customers?
Mr. Conway: Tell us it isn’t so.
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, the minister is not, and I’ll check into it.
Mr. Breithaupt: While the minister is checking into that, would the minister as well advise us as to why over this Christmas season your ministry has allowed some 167 LCBO stores to amass 1,558 infractions of the Industrial Safety Act, arising mostly from overstocking stores and blocking fire doors and sprinklers for the sake of stacking in more cases of liquor?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, I’ll look into that too, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. W. Newman: Why don’t you buy domestic wine instead of imported stuff?
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
COMMENT OF PCA PRESIDENT
Mr. Breithaupt: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if you have noted the report of a comment made by one Gerald Nori, president of the Progressive Conservative Association, who is quoted as having said: “The Liberals should have won Chatham-Kent. They had a bright, articulate young doctor and we had a sodbuster no one in Chatham ever heard of.” I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you would review those comments to see if the privileges of the member for Chatham-Kent have been abused. If so, would you consider sending the member for Fort William as our champion to challenge Mr. Nori in this matter?
Mr. MacDonald: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: It’s not a point of order or a point of privilege --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I hope you will be here Friday.
Mr. Speaker: It’s an abuse of the privileges of this House.
Mr. Makarchuk: On the point of the abuse of the privileges of this House --
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the term “sodbuster” is an honourable term and anybody from the rural areas wouldn’t dismiss it.
Mr. Havrot: Well spoken.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, as a sodbuster, I would say it is the word “nonentity” that we’re concerned about, and that applies to people from the city.
SITTINGS OF HOUSE AND COMMITTEES
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that notwithstanding any previous order of the House, the House will sit on Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., as well as from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, with routine proceedings at 2 p.m., and that committees scheduled to meet during this period may meet concurrently with the House.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that government business be considered Thursday afternoon.
Motion agreed to.
REDIRECTION OF ESTIMATES
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the estimates of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, now before the standing administration of justice committee, be ordered referred to the committee of supply for consideration on Wednesday from 9 p.m. until 12:55 p.m., and that at 12:55 the chairman shall put every question necessary to complete the consideration of those estimates.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the standing administration of justice committee be authorized to meet on the afternoon of December 13, if required.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 203, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, this bill amends section 368(b) of the Municipal Act removing the prohibition for a municipality, at its discretion, to pass bylaws governing adult entertainment and dress of waitresses in premises licensed under the Liquor Licence Act.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Swan moved first reading of Bill 204, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Swart: The purpose of this bill is to declare that the designation member of the Legislative Assembly and MLA are the official designations of persons elected to the Legislative Assembly. The bill provides that only members of the Legislative Assembly are entitled to use either of the official designations in association with themselves while sitting as elected members of the assembly and during the succeeding election period.
DISTRICT OF PARRY SOUND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 205, An Act respecting Local Government in the District of Parry Sound.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: This legislation provides for the consolidation of the geographic townships of Proudfoot and Bethune and portions of Bucke and McCraney townships, with the town of Kearney to form a new larger municipality.
This consolidation is supported by unanimous resolutions from the town and the two local roads boards in the area.
The bill also annexes a portion of McDougall township to the town of Parry Sound. This boundary change has been agreed to by both the municipalities involved.
The other part of the bill provides for a new township of North Georgian Bay to be created from geographic township areas along the shores of Georgian Bay which currently lack municipal organization.
The municipality embraces all Cowper geographic township, and major portions of Conger, Harrison and Shawanaga geographic townships.
There has been considerable support for the establishment of this new municipality from local roads boards and cottagers associations including the Georgian Bay Association.
The bill also provides for the town of Parry Sound annexation to be effective January 1, 1980 as requested by the municipality.
The startup date for the other two municipalities, North Georgian Bay and Kearney, is set out in the bill as December 1, 1979. An election to select councillors for these municipalities would be held, of course, before that date.
I am introducing the bill at this late date in the session for first reading only, with the intention of reintroducing it at the beginning of the spring session. This will, however, give us a chance to have the bill printed, giving full opportunity for everyone concerned to study it very carefully and come forward with any suggestions or alternatives that may arise in the interval before our next sitting.
ONTARIO HYDRO ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
Mr. J. Reed moved first reading of Bill 206, An Act respecting the public accountability of Ontario Hydro.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. J. Reed: The purpose of this bill is to provide a means of clarifying the functions and duties of Ontario Hydro related to the production, generation, transmission, distribution, supply, sale, use and development of energy resources in Ontario.
The bill requires the Minister of Energy, on behalf of the government of Ontario, to issue a policy directive setting out the policy framework within which Ontario Hydro is to make operational and management decisions. The Power Corporation Act is amended to clarify that it is a responsibility of the board of Ontario Hydro to ensure that the business of Ontario Hydro is conducted within the limits established by the policy directives issued by the Ministry of Energy.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 148, 163 and 170 standing on the Notice Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 11, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act.
Bill 114, An Act to revise the Child Welfare Act.
Bill 122, An Act to amend the Co-operative Corporations Act, 1973.
Bill 147, An Act to amend the University of Toronto Act, 1971.
Bill 184, An Act to amend the Ontario Land Corporation Act.
Bill 187, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act, 1976.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 150, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, although many of the amendments to this bill are designed to clarify existing sections of the Highway Traffic Act, there are a few additions as well. I would like to highlight some of the proposals, beginning with those that effect driver regulations.
A new provision will make it a specific offence to drive a motor vehicle on the highway in contravention of conditions on a driver’s licence, for example a requirement that he wear his glasses while driving.
In response to the government’s major campaign against drinking and driving, we propose a mandatory three-year driving licence suspension for anyone convicted of a third or more drinking and driving charge under the Criminal Code of Canada.
A clarification of overtaking and passing at pedestrian crosswalks will make it illegal for any vehicle approaching from the rear to move beyond the front of the vehicle being overtaken.
Another amendment will authorize more flexibility in the combination of signal lights used at intersections, specifically clarifying the use of green arrow signal lights.
Another amendment will permit a left turn from a one-way street to another one-way street on a red light.
Mr. Laughren: Hear, hear. It was long overdue, we’ve been waiting for that one for years.
Hon. Mr. Snow: There are also several amendments dealing with commercial motor vehicles which I should clarify, all of which result from the fact that in recent years municipal boundaries have moved outward to encompass rural areas which include many unlit, high-speed sections of highways. These amendments will cover the use of identification lights during the hours of darkness on all highways, and the use of warning lights for reflectors when any vehicle is disabled on highways with maximum speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour.
To prevent tailgating by commercial vehicles, an amendment will require 60 metres of space between all commercial vehicles and any other vehicle on highways. I shall introduce an amendment to the bill in committee so that the maintenance of the 60-metre interval will apply if the truck is travelling at over 60 kilometres an hour.
I believe there are a total of four amendments to the bill that I will be moving in committee. These were supplied to the opposition critics a few days ago.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for his comments in connection with Bill 150. Having gone through the bill I see that a number of the sections are sell-explanatory and I don’t think they require comment from me. In the hope of keeping comments brief on this legislation so that we might be out on schedule I would restrict my comments.
I am concerned about several sections of the bill, specifically section 2, the increase in the penalty to three years upon conviction of impaired driving or a breathalyser offence on the third occasion. I appreciate the government’s concern about alcohol and driving and alcohol-related traffic offences, but I must say, while I am going to support this, I have some second thoughts about the effectiveness of such a penalty.
I had occasion last night to visit the Burtch Correctional Institution. Ironically, one of the individuals who was speaking, one of the inmates, was there for his sixteenth conviction on a breathalyser offence and impaired driving. It seems he couldn’t manage to keep his foot off the brake as he approached liquor and beer stores, as he admitted himself.
I think this individual is typical of many people we have been inclined in the past to incarcerate for liquor-oriented traffic offences. The difficulty the individual faces is the lack of effective rehabilitation programs within the institutions themselves. They have an Alcoholics Anonymous program there -- and if I could digress I must say that particular institution is an excellent institution.
Mr. Nixon: It’s in the riding of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Cunningham: They do have an Alcoholics Anonymous program there, and that particular individual was participating in it and found it to be of some benefit to him, but he readily confessed he had participated in the same program on a number of occasions during his total time of four years in various institutions. I could only say to that end that the individual did not derive a great deal of success from the program.
What I am saying is I don’t think the lengthening of the period of suspension will be a panacea for better driving conduct by people who are inclined to be alcoholics. For the people who are convicted on a rare occasion when they transgress it won’t be a factor, but clearly for somebody who has been convicted of a breathalyser offence on three separate occasions, that individual has a problem. Suspension of the licence for an extra year, or excessive incarceration, in my opinion is not the answer.
I think what we should be doing is making a greater effort with other ministries -- the Ministry of Education specifically, and possibly the Attorney General’s ministry -- to see what can be done to effect, not this kind of quasi-volunteer approach to rehabilitation but rather some compulsory program that will ensure the individual is rehabilitated.
Where rehabilitation cannot be effected, then the existing situation that was described to us during the course of our estimates should apply, that is that upon the direction of a physician or some evidence that the individual is affected as an alcoholic, the ministry should be able to remove the individual’s driving privileges.
The other sections of the legislation I think generally are self-explanatory. Frankly, I’m quite surprised the section regarding conditions which are imposed on a licence have not been enforced in the past, however, I’m pleased to see it’s coming into effect now.
I hope there will be some police discretion in a number of the areas of the legislation as it is proclaimed. Hopefully there will be some publication of these changes to the Highway Traffic Act.
The permission to allow left turns onto one-way streets, I think, is a good idea and one that may in time see us save a great deal of energy. Recently I heard of some studies on the excessive amount of fuel wasted at four-way stops. I would hope possibly the ministry might give some consideration to re-evaluating the importance of the four-way stop. It would appear on many occasions we are seeing four-way stops in areas where they’re not necessary, and in time it causes a great deal of waste of fuel.
I spoke with the minister privately on section 13. I gather I’ve been favoured with an amendment on this section and I appreciate receiving it some time in advance. This is the section that relates to tailgating. I appreciate the difficulty law enforcement officers have had with regard to enforcing following-too-close legislation or tailgating, and I can appreciate that the minister must get complaints on a regular basis, especially about big trucks following immediately behind passenger vehicles, particularly small passenger vehicles.
But I must say I have some second thoughts about how effective this particular amendment will be. While it may clarify things to some extent, I am sympathetic with the position that commercial carriers will be in on the highway. I offer the minister this example. If an individual is travelling, say on the Gardiner -- where I believe the speed limit is 90 kilometres per hour -- that truck or commercial vehicle will, I think on a continuing basis, be subjected to some difficulty as passenger vehicles especially overtake the vehicle and pull in front in the 60-metre zone.
That being the case, the driver or operator of the commercial vehicle will be in violation of the legislation. I can see a great number of difficulties for those carriers who are driving along, maintaining a safe distance, as safe as possible, and then as a result of the actions of another driver they are put in violation of the legislation.
I suppose we’re going to have to give the benefit of the doubt to the law enforcement officers on this piece of legislation, but I am worried we’ll probably end up back here half a year from now after there have been a myriad of complaints from people who have been convicted under this amendment of following too close, when really it’s no fault of their own.
I offer those comments to the minister. I’m not certain what the solution is. Maybe we just consider leaving it to the discretion of the law enforcement officers. With that, I have no further comments.
Mr. Philip: The bill is one that certainly meets with our agreement. I’m in agreement not only with the bill, but also with the amendments the minister has proposed. Certainly the bill makes a number of changes that various municipalities and members of the opposition and the minister’s own good staff have talked about for some time. I’m pleased that the bill has finally come before the House. It seemed to be an on-again off-again bill, which is one of the things that often happens in these hectic days before the recess of the Legislature. I can understand how the scheduling has been difficult.
I couldn’t help but wonder if my understanding of section 15 is that there have been a number of violations of the present act and that it’s just been impractical. I couldn’t help but wonder out loud if the minister had at any time been one of the people who violated the present act in this regard, but I don’t expect that the minister would answer that question anyway.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Not guilty, not guilty.
Mr. Philip: Not lately. I hope the minister will not have to use the new section to get his airplane off the QEW or any other highway.
The Liberal critic has spoken at some length concerning section 2. I must say I’m in agreement with the basic thrust of his comments, but at the same time, with the new requirements that are coming in concerning pictures on licences, at least those particular offenders will not be on the road for that section of time outlined in the bill.
Certainly alcoholism is broader than just a transportation problem and must be approached as an industrial and a social problem and by several ministries. But at least this particular section, section 2, does go somewhat in the direction that has been recommended by members on all sides of the House. I can’t find any quarrel with it.
I would like to hear the minister’s comments concerning the matter raised by the Liberal critic concerning the problems in those areas that are heavily built up, with the possibility of a group of people being fined or harassed unnecessarily for following too closely at a time when it really isn’t their fault. Perhaps the only way we’ll know whether this is the case or not will be to monitor the situation and, in a year or two, find out whether there have been a number of convictions under this act and where they’ve taken place.
I think there are a number of controversial bills coming before the House today on which there will be less agreement and I don’t want to take up any further time.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to deal particularly with that part of the bill which has to do with the increase in suspension to three years.
I’d like to make my initial comments this way: If the minister can’t get the drinking driver off the road in two years with a two-year suspension, I simply fail to see how he is going to do it in three years. For that matter, he might as well make it four or five.
The simple fact of the matter is that whether it’s a six-month suspension, a one-year suspension or a two-year suspension, it has been my experience in dealing with people who are charged under the section that covers driving while under suspension that inevitably the day will come when they will get in that motor vehicle and they will drive it away. In many instances they again will be under the influence of alcohol when this happens.
As I say, I don’t think the answer to the problem is jacking up the penalty. A more realistic approach to it is one which has been taken in the North Bay area. It’s called the impaired drivers’ program. If I may take a few moments, I would like to explain to the minister how this program works.
I corresponded with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) about this program in May 1978. I must apologize for not forwarding a copy of my letter to the minister. I should have realized that as Minister of Transportation and Communication and responsible for the Highway Traffic Act he should have received a copy of this letter and I should have been corresponding with him. For that I do apologize.
However, I would like to bring to the minister’s attention this North Bay impaired drivers’ program, which is now in its fifth year of operation. It appears to have a significant impact. My information is that the rate of recidivism -- the repeater, the guy who goes out and does it again -- between North Bay and other comparable places like Thunder Bay, for example, is 80 per cent lower in the North Bay area than it is in other areas in northern Ontario. There are statistics which show this, Mr. Speaker.
I also understand there are several similar programs in operation throughout North America and their approaches and results vary quite a bit. There is a program, for example, in the state of Virginia which has been quite successful. In fact, there was a conference held at the Donwoods Institute some time in June to deal with this question of the drinking driver and some people, at that time, had spoken about the Virginia program.
Dealing again with this program, and seeing that there are changes in this bill increasing the penalty from two to three years, I think it is now the time to talk about the question of dealing with the drinking driver. As it now stands in Ontario there is nothing needed in addition to existing legislation, except the power to direct that a program be put in place in the event there is a community in which some key figures are reluctant to co-operate in the implementation of such a program.
In advance of any type of legislation like this being passed, I am informed that a number of judges in Ontario are ready and eager to see programs of this type put into operation and there would be a large number of judges ready to co-operate in the implementation of this program.
The candidates for this program -- this is the program in North Bay -- are second offenders under the impaired driver section of the Criminal Code of Canada. These candidates who are processed through court, let’s say on a second conviction of impaired driving, are subjected to very sophisticated testing at the Addiction Research Foundation right at the beginning of the program. The results to date have been sufficient to attract the interest and support of the school of alcohol studies at Rutgers, as well as some other schools in the United States which study this program.
What happens with the drinking driver at that stage is as the minister knows, if a proper notice is served on the person who is convicted of his second offence it’s an automatic 14 days in jail plus a six-month suspension. Under this program, that person is given an alternative.
The alternative is to attend the Addiction Research Foundation program, which consists of 12 weekly sessions which the person attends with a number of other candidates. It’s like a group therapy session that involves a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a doctor and a lawyer. The significant thing about it, aside from the fact that the rate of recidivism has been reduced considerably, is that the problem drinker is identified at a much earlier age in his life than is now being done.
The problem drinker now is being identified at or about the age of 45 to 47. This again has come out in studies which is reflected through industrial plants et cetera, where they monitor this. It identifies that problem drinker at the age of 32, and then that person, through proper counselling, through proper direction and through proper group therapy can overcome this problem which he has and become a more useful and meaningful citizen to society.
This program was first set up in North Bay with the Addiction Research Foundation. The whole idea was brought out by the director of the association there, Mr. Poudrier, and the provincial court judge Lunney has been instrumental in seeing to it that people are encouraged to go. I really urge the minister in his future deliberations relating to penalties that he take into consideration this particular proposal.
The Criminal Code of Canada has amendments now to deal specifically with this problem, i.e. the identification of the problem drinker and putting him on probation whereby he undertakes to go to the Addiction Research Foundation or whatever the case may be to take proper treatment. The legislation has not been passed but the amendments are there. In fact, they are printed in the Criminal Code of Canada, but they have not been implemented as law.
So I urge the minister to consider acting in this regard because there certainly is nothing that prevents him from getting into that type of legislation at this time. As I say, if he can’t stop that person from getting in a motor vehicle and driving with a two-year suspension, I certainly can’t see how he is going to do it in three. Again I urge the minister to consider this.
There is only one other question I would like to raise, which has to do with the tailgating provisions which have been alluded to by other members in the House. I really am somewhat concerned as to what that is going to do to the traffic in a city where a motor vehicle, a truck or the descriptive motor vehicle which is mentioned in the act, is required to stay at that particular distance. I am quite concerned about what type of horrendous traffic tie-up this is going to create. I am looking forward over the next year to see just what is going to happen over that.
The constable or the police officer is going to be put in an extremely difficult position of making judgement calls on 60 metres. Can you see yourself at the corner of some busy intersection in a city where there is a heavy flow of traffic, all 180-some feet apart? Generally speaking, as the minister knows, a charge of following too closely does not arise until such time as there actually has been a collision. If there ever is any evidence of following too closely it is when the one motor vehicle runs into the other.
I can appreciate the intent of the legislation. However, I am wondering just what kind of experience it is going to create for the drivers and for the traffic flow, particularly in busy communities.
Mr. Bradley: Speaking briefly to a few sections of the bill, I would comment, first of all, on the section that was touched on by the member for Nipissing regarding the number of years in which there would be a suspension of the licence. I certainly think that the program that he has described in North Bay offers a lot of choice, at least to the people of Ontario, to have a program implemented that can be reasonably successful. I know it is not necessarily as successful in all jurisdictions, but as the member for Nipissing mentioned it does offer merit.
However, that would certainly not prevent me from supporting the three years as an improvement, although I recognize we’re really not solving the problem as well as we could by simply implementing the three-year provision. I think few in this House would disagree with the point and I know the minister had this in mind in bringing this forward that we have to deal with the problem of the drinking driver who has caused many fatal accidents and many accidents that have left people in dire straits for the rest of their lives in terms of their physical condition. Any steps that can be taken to remove these drivers from the road should be taken.
The problem, as has been described by the member for Nipissing, is that you don’t necessarily remove them from the road by suspending their licences, Mr. Speaker. However, by stronger enforcement of this we do move in the right direction.
I would also mention that in the field of correctional services, many of the people in the correctional system in this province, and certainly in the federal system, are there, as the former minister mentioned during his estimates, because of alcohol-related or drug-related problems. It seems to me that within the correctional system more emphasis should be placed on rehabilitating those who have alcohol problems, ultimately removing them from the highway system if they aren’t able to conquer their problem and act in a responsible manner. I hope that would be taken into consideration. I realize it’s not under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Transportation and Communications, but I know he will relay that information to his colleague the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Walker) because it would affect the need for legislation of this kind.
The second question, and it may be a matter of definition, relates to section 10. I was wondering what a “pedestrian crossover” means. I missed the initial remarks of the minister and I wondered if it means a crosswalk, such as they have in Metro Toronto, or if that means any pedestrian crossover such as an intersection. Perhaps the minister could clarify that for me.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: This is going to committee. I think it could be clarified there.
Mr. Bradley: The last thing I would mention is a little bit of a concern although I realize it will make traffic flow faster, and that is the provision for traffic making a left-hand turn from one one-way street onto another on a red light, which the member for Nickel Belt felt was a very progressive provision.
While in Metropolitan Toronto, for instance, it could have the effect of moving traffic much more quickly, and with the heavy traffic perhaps that’s required, I wonder whether allowing discretion on the part of the driver is wise in terms of the chances that might be taken. Having a regulation or a firm rule that must be followed cuts down on the number of accidents. When we allow discretion on the part of the driver we make opportunities for more accidents.
With those very brief remarks, Mr. Speaker, I’ll conclude.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I thank the honourable members for their contributions. I recognize the points made with regard to section 2 of the bill. I recognize that there is nothing magic about the three-year term; it could have been four or it could have been two-and-a-half. But with all the best judgements we have at our disposal, it was felt that a more severe suspension was necessary for those people who tend to be habitual offenders; in other words, those who have committed three or more offences.
I was most interested in the comments of the member for Nipissing regarding the North Bay program, although I understand there is limited knowledge of it in the ministry. I personally had not heard of it. As I’m sure the honourable members all know, dealing with the person who becomes a chronic impaired driver or who commits a second offence is not a simple matter.
Anybody can make a mistake once. I think we all realize that. But once they have committed the third offence, it has been the decision of the government that a stronger suspension should be administered. This was announced some time ago by my colleague, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Affairs at that time, now the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman).
With regard to section 13 of the bill, the tailgating provision, I realize this is not perfect. I think the amendment I will be introducing when we go into committee will improve the wording over that in the bill. I still agree it is not perfect. This has been discussed in detail with senior law officials, senior police officers and they have assured us the wording would be certainly satisfactory to them and a great deal of discretion is used by the officer when laying charges. There must definitely be a tailgating situation before they would use this section to lay a charge for following too closely.
The amendment I will be introducing will change it so it only applies to highways where the speed limit is higher than 60 kilometres per hour, so it doesn’t affect the situation in a built-up area, a city, where you have the normal 50 kilometre speed limit. It does not apply within a built-up municipality.
With regard to comment of the member for St. Catharines, about the crosswalks; the crosswalks that are referred to are the definitely designated crosswalks, just not any place where somebody saunters across the street.
I am afraid the honourable member and I disagree on left-hand turns. I just cannot understand why something that makes as much sense as this hasn’t been implemented years ago. Where you have two one-way streets with a stop light, there is certainly no reason why a left turn can’t be allowed on a red, the same as a right turn is allowed.
Mr. Laughren: That cost me a few tickets, I will tell you, at one time.
Hon. Mr. Snow: While I am very sorry for the member for Nickel Belt, I would hate to do anything that would prevent him from obtaining tickets and adding to the revenue of the province.
Mr. Laughren: Can you make it retroactive?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I think this situation will help traffic in certain of our more heavily travelled areas in the cities.
I think those comments have answered the points that have been raised by the members.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Snow has moved second reading of Bill 150. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT A
Consideration of Bill 150, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Sections 1 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 10:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Snow moves that section 10 of the bill be amended by striking out “unless the driver of that other vehicle is signalling an intention to turn” in the sixth and seventh lines.
Any discussion on the amendment?
Motion agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
Section 11 agreed to.
On section 12:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Snow moves that section 12 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“12(1) Subsection 1 of section 98 of the said act is amended by striking out ‘making’ in the sixth line and inserting in lieu thereof ‘marking.’
“(2) Subsection 3 of section 98 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“‘(3) Where a person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway is overtaken by a vehicle or horseman travelling at a greater speed, the person so overtaken shall turn out to the right and allow the overpassing vehicle or horseman to pass, but this does not apply to a vehicle, roadbuilding machine or apparatus while engaged in the construction, maintenance or marking of a highway’.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
On section 13:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Snow moves that section 13 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“13. Subsection 2 of section 105 of the said act, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1977, chapter 19, section 11, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“‘(2) The driver or operator of a commercial motor vehicle when driving on a highway at a speed exceeding 60 kilometres per hour shall not follow within 60 metres of another motor vehicle, but this shall not be construed to prevent a commercial motor vehicle from overtaking and passing another motor vehicle.’”
Motion agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 14 and 15 agreed to.
On section 16:
Mr. Philip: Mr. Chairman, while I am in agreement with section 16, I have a couple of questions. This is the kind of recommendation that the Canadian Trucking Association has been trying to promote across the country. I wonder if the minister can give us any insight as to what guarantees he may have from the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) that this will be promoted in a very strenuous way. What information can he give us on his talks with that ministry? What can we expect as a result of passing this amendment? When can we see the results?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Chairman, I am told by my officials that this driver improvement program is being expanded by the Ministry of the Attorney General in the Metropolitan Toronto area at the present time but, as far as I know, not in other parts of the province.
Mr. Philip: Can we expect it in other parts of the province? Or do we have to wait until the Attorney General’s estimates are before us to ask questions on it? Can the minister give us any more information?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Chairman, this particular area is involved only with the traffic tribunal setup, which was initiated, if I recall correctly, when I was Minister of Government Services. We were involved in getting space for the first tribunal in North York. It was tried for a three-year period. I think it has been extended and is being expanded in Metro, but I can’t tell you what the Attorney General’s plans are for expanding it in other areas of the province.
Mr. Philip: To conclude, maybe the minister can give us his assurance, since it is a program that has certainly been welcomed by everyone, that he will at least meet with the Attorney General and see if he can get some more detailed information as to how this program may be expanded and exactly what expansion is anticipated in the near future.
Hon. Mr. Snow: As I say, I don’t know the exact plans. I know from the latest reports I have heard that they were very happy with the success of this type of traffic tribunal and they were expanding them. I will certainly speak to my colleague the Attorney General and get brought up to date on just what expansion plans he has in this area.
Mr. Lawlor: One question: On subsection 5, where you exclude actions arising out of these landings, I can well understand why the police force or a police officer would not be subject to it, because he is clearing the path to get the plane off the highway. But why would the pilot, a private citizen --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would point out to the member that we are on section 16, not 15. Section 15 has carried.
Mr. Lawlor: I’m on section 15(5).
Mr. Hodgson: Too much party last night, eh?
Mr. Lawlor: It’s up to the minister if he wants to answer the question.
Motion agreed to.
Section 16 agreed to.
On section 17:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Snow moves that section 17 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“17(1) This act, except sections 3 and 13, comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.
“(2) Sections 3 and 13 come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Section 18 agreed to.
Bill 150, as amended, reported.
PLANNING AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 183, An Act to amend the Planning Act.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Since introduction of this bill for first reading I have considered some of the comments that have been made on it. I have also been made aware of some specific emergency situations that justify the introduction of some amendments. I shall move the four amendments as we proceed through Bill 183 and give my reasons as we proceed into the various sections.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I am just wondering whether we have all those amendments of which the minister speaks. I know we have two of them, but I am not sure about the other two. The minister referred to four of them, I think. One of them deals with section 2; I wonder whether he would share that amendment with us?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: My understanding is that the four amendments I will move this afternoon have been circulated.
Mr. Epp: I have just received the package and I see they are at the back. I am just getting them now.
Motion agreed to.
Section 1 agreed to.
On section 2:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Bennett moves that subsections 4(b) and 4(c) of section 29 of the act as set out in section 2(1) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“4(b) where a parcel of land is conveyed by way of a deed or transfer with the consent given under this section, subsections 2 and 4 do not apply to a subsequent conveyance of or other transaction involving the identical parcel of land unless the committee of adjustment, the land division committee or the ministry, as the case may be, in granting the consent stipulates either that subsection 2 or subsection 4 shall apply to any such subsequent conveyance or transaction.
“4(c) Where a committee of adjustment or land division committee or the minister stipulates in accordance with subsection 4(b): (a), in the case of a committee of adjustment or the land division committee the certificate provides for subsection 20 of section 42; and (b), in the case of the minister the consent given by the minister shall contain a reference to the stipulation and if not so contained the consent shall be conclusively deemed to have been granted without the stipulation.”
Hon. Mr. Bennett further moves that subsections 9 and 11 of section 29 of the act as set out in section 2(4) of the bill be amended by striking out “or 4(c)” in both instances.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The first amendment changes subsections 4(b) and 4(c) as set out in section 2(1) of Bill 183. The amendment now being made removes the retroactive effect of the bill in recognizing the past consents. Moreover, provision is made for a committee of adjustment or a land division committee to stipulate in regard to specific consents that the effect of section 4(b) will not be applicable. This will permit the committees to judge each case on its own merits and decide in which situations the new provision would not be appropriate.
I am still of the opinion that the provisions in the original bill are appropriate in that once a person has gone through the consent process he or she should not have to go through it again for the same piece of land. However, I recognize that the process for validating past consents by municipalities in Bill 183 could perhaps raise problems. I’ve asked my staff to review the matter further in connection with our forthcoming white paper and in the meantime propose the amendments now placed before you.
Mr. Epp: In fairness to the minister, I must say that we had some idea that some of these changes were going to come in, but I am at a loss to know why he delayed giving us these amendments until he was already making his statement. They’re somewhat complicated. They’re not straightforward. They involve a number of sections, subsections and so forth. It takes a little time to find all of these within the act and to find out whether the amendment really says what he says it is supposed to say. That’s not to I suggest that it doesn’t say that, but I would have preferred for him to have shared those amendments, which is usually the courteous thing to do, with the opposition parties.
I know that on the amendment I proposed just the other day, which was to delete the words, “or heretofore” in section 2(4)(b), I shared copies of that amendment with the minister, I think it was last Friday or last Thursday, so he did have about three or four days to study it. These are a little more complicated.
I suppose we will be supporting this particular amendment if it does what I indicated should be done with this amendment, but it does put us in a particular dilemma at this point.
Mr. Swart: We too are going to support this amendment as it is before us at the present time. I suggest again, as I suggested a week ago this evening, that it really should not be before us -- at least the original one should not be before us. It should have been part of the white paper on the Comay report. There was substantial variance in the land division procedures and it should have waited until we’re doing that comprehensive revision or re-examination of the Planning Act.
I took great exception to the original amendment because of what I felt it would do to the farming community and the great number of lots it would create or could create out in the rural areas, particularly in the municipalities or urban communities where they don’t have the full range of services at the present time.
At that time I got no support from the parliamentary assistant, nor from the Liberal Party on my right, including the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Nixon: I am almost always on your side.
Mr. Swart: In fact, statements were made at that time that there’s nothing wrong with creating these new parcels of land and having them transferred and being able to convey them in the future without any further severances.
The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Housing stated that if a new parcel of land is considered appropriate from a planning point of view, it should simply not matter what occurred in the past with regard to the ownership. He stated that “I have no worry whatsoever as far as the consents that were granted in the past are concerned. I think they should be recognized.” Then he admitted there could be thousands. “If there were a thousand granted throughout the province it was the councils and the planning boards of the day that granted them, et cetera et cetera.”
I’m not going to be critical of the parliamentary assistant because I suspect he may be the person largely instrumental for having these amendments before us at the present time in the form they are in.
The members of the House will remember that that evening I tabled a motion to delete this section of the act because of what I considered the inappropriateness of it and the breaking down of planning in this province. As I suspected at the time, and found out afterwards, there had been no consultation. Even at this time I have some hesitation in supporting this amendment because I think it would be preferable to have deleted it and considered it later on after consultation with the Association of Land Division Committees and the committees of adjustment and after having consultation with the municipal associations and the PMLC.
Anyone who was at the PMLC meeting last Friday will know the objection of the municipal organizations to not having had any consultation in bringing this in. There was no need to bring this section of the act in at the present time. It could have waited until spring.
While the minister announced at that PMLC meeting that he would be bringing in this amendment, we didn’t know what might apply to the future severances. But certainly I suggest the fact he has eliminated the retroactivity is exceedingly important because many of the consents were given simply because they knew it was going to be attached to another parcel of land, otherwise they would not have given the consent.
In many rural areas the majority of land division committees give consent to transfer land to an operating farm to increase the size of the farm. They don’t want to have another parcel of land on which a house can be built or where that land can be sold off. So it was important that they eliminated the retroactivity feature of this.
Now, they also include an amendment which he announced but didn’t give in detail at the PMLC, whereby in the future the land division committee or the committee of adjustment will be able to designate that subsections 2 and section 4 do not apply. In fact, it will not be possible to be separated from abutting land without going through another procedure, although perhaps I would have preferred it to be the other way around so there would have to be some special consideration given if they wanted to separate it, and it would be on the certificate. Nevertheless, I have enough faith in the committees of adjustment and the land division committees that they are not going to give these severances willy-nilly, and in fact, they will use that certificate very extensively.
I think it’s fair to say, Mr. Chairman, the land division committees in this province, by and large, have done a good job. I think they have done more to protect farm land in the rural areas than the application of any other segment of the planning legislation. I have no doubt that is true. They are getting tougher and tougher because of the problems it’s causing the farmer, and getting tougher and tougher in giving severances on which housing can be built in other lots.
Mr. Johnson: Talk to the Chairman.
Mr. Swart: So, Mr. Chairman, in consideration of what is in this amendment, I’m not going to pursue that which I put the other evening, although it should have been dealt with first. It should have dealt with the deletion of the whole section, but I didn’t rise on a point of order to ask that because we had considered that these amendments do eliminate at least 95 per cent of the problem created by section 2 of the bill which was before us. We will be supporting the amendment which the minister has put forward.
I had the opportunity of having an hour or two in consultation with some people from the ministry on this. As the member for Waterloo North has stated, the Planning Act is always difficult, and unless you have some time to examine in detail you’re never sure of exactly what you are dealing with or what you are enacting. I did have the opportunity. I’m satisfied this does, in fact, overcome most of my concern and the concern of our party. Therefore, we will be supporting it.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I heard the remarks of the member for Welland-Thorold. I thought it was important these amendments be brought in order to clarify the situation with relation to the severances in the rural areas, in particular, where there have been add-ons of land. I don’t think we want to discourage add-ons because, in many cases, you have one agricultural user of land transferring a piece to another farmer who was using the land. I think this is a healthy situation.
There is one thing the minister could consider in the future. I had seen the original draft of this bill and brought to the minister’s attention this particular problem immediately upon reading it. One of the situations that does exist and which perhaps in the future the minister might consider is some kind of provision whereby when there are two pieces of property merged into one and they are meant to be kept as one, there might be some kind of requirement for the issuance of a new deed. It doesn’t really matter as to the severance laws whether you have two deeds to those two parcels of land or not.
Maybe that’s understood by the legal community, but as far as the individual is concerned, he understands, or has understood in the past that where there were two deeds he had two pieces of land. I think it’s led to a lot of confusion in relation to this type of problem.
Perhaps at some future time the minister might consider introducing into the Planning Act a requirement that when there was a merging of two pieces of property into one a new deed be issued to include the descriptions of both parcels of land so the land holder understands he has one piece of land within the one deed.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would offer my apologies to the member for Waterloo North for not putting the amendments in his hands as early as we did with the members of the NDP.
Mr. Laughren: You know who the real opposition is.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I take it the people in the ministry had been consulting with the wrong individual within the Liberal Party.
Mr. Breithaupt: I guess that is why he wanted to sneak them by us.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It was not a matter of trying to avoid discussing it with the member for Waterloo North and I do offer my apologies.
I recognize the comments made by the member for Welland-Thorold and I would only say that we brought these amendments in because there were a number of municipalities and groups which felt this was a valid time to do so. I suppose it would have been easy to say, “Let’s defer everything relating to the Planning Act until the Comay white paper comes in,” but you know very well when that Comay white paper comes into this Legislature some time in the spring, 1979, as I hope it will, it is going to be a fair period of time before it comes out of this House as a bill and a new Planning Act for the province. In the interim, we are going to have to bring forward some amendments to the Planning Act that will speed up the opportunity and certify the position of certain individuals over this period.
Mr. Swart: The municipalities didn’t ask for that amendment.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The PMLC was at that meeting on Friday, as was the member for Waterloo North and most of the comments were related to some of the specific areas relating to lodging of consents and so on. The explanation offered to them must have satisfied them. The offer of the minister to meet with those municipal elected representatives who were assigned, I suppose is the right terminology, the responsibility of reviewing amendments to the Planning Act has satisfied them as far as I know.
Mr. Swart: You did a complete capitulation.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for Carleton-Grenville indicated his concern about the future position as far as a new deed is concerned, and we shall take his remarks under review.
Mr. Laughren: That is ominous, Norm. You will never see that again.
Mr. Epp: In order to clarify the particular point the minister raised with respect to providing a copy, I must say that a copy of the particular amendments was given to my colleague about an hour and a half ago. He was called away for another important meeting and as a result didn’t have a chance to discuss it with me. That will help to clarify that particular aspect.
We did have an hour and a half, or an hour and a quarter’s notice of the particular amendments. Although I would have appreciated a little longer, nevertheless it was longer than I had originally indicated.
Motion agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
On section 5:
Mr. Swart: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: I wonder if my amendment should come first because it deals with an earlier part of section 5, I believe?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Chairman, I will move a new section 5 and the section to which the member wishes to move an amendment will now be section 6.
Mr. Swart: Okay.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Bennett moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following new section 5:
“The act is amended by adding thereto the following section:
“33(a)(1): Where an action or proceeding or the partition of land is brought under the Partition Act notice shall be given to the minister.
“(2) The notice shall include a copy of the application for the partition of land and shall state the day on which the matter is to be heard and subject to the rules of the court shall be served not less than 10 days before the day of the hearing.
“(3) The minister is entitled as of right to be heard either in person or by counsel, notwithstanding that the crown is not a party to the action or proceeding.
“(4) Where the minister appears in person or by counsel the minister shall be deemed to be a party to the action or proceeding for the purpose of an appeal and has the same rights with respect to an appeal as any other party to the action or proceeding.” And that the sections of the bill that follow be renumbered accordingly.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Chairman, two amendments are being made to correct emergency situations which have come to my attention since the first reading of this bill. The first deals with the recent decision of a county court judge which has, in effect, created a plan of more than 50 checkerboard lots through the Partition Act.
It is the government’s view that this action is clearly not within the spirit of the act, which is intended to resolve disputes on how land may be divided equitably between two or more parties. The act also provides for the division of assets arising from the sale of such disputed lands to the parties involved.
Further creation of such plans should be prevented unless any planning implications have been fully considered. The proposed amendment, therefore, will require notification of the Minister of Housing of such actions so that any representation or subsequent appeals can be made.
I would like to give to the House an indication of some of the ridiculous situations that some of the court decisions -- and I suppose I could be chastised for saying that by some in the legal profession -- however, we have a situation here -- I would have liked to have had copies for the opposition parties but, unfortunately, I couldn’t get it duplicated today -- where, as a result of a court action and a judge’s decision, he took a reference plan of some 53 lots and, through a checkerboarding system of giving every second lot to the second party in the decision, a subdivision was thereby created without any prior consultation with the municipality or others who would be involved in its creation. We think it’s not in the spirit of the Planning Act and we now are making an amendment to cover this particular type of action.
I must say to the House that we are seeking action from the Attorney General’s ministry to correct this particular subdivision, of some 53 lots, and we hope to prevent it from taking place effectively.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, the amendment the minister has introduced is a very valuable amendment to prevent the checkerboarding he has referred to on more than one occasion.
Lawyers often think it’s incumbent upon them to find whatever loopholes they can in the Planning Act or the Municipal Act or whatever acts there are, and it’s refreshing to see the minister trying to correct this particular problem as quickly as possible and consulting the Attorney General’s office to see if something can be done to correct the particular problem which has given rise to the legislation before us and particularly the amendment before us.
We will be supporting this particular amendment as the minister has described it.
Mr. Swart: It’s obvious, Mr. Chairman, that this amendment is desirable. There can be no doubt that some unscrupulous developers, with the help of some able lawyers -- and I use the word “able” there; I could use another word -- have been using this method and some others to try to circumvent the intent of the act. I think we all in this House want to plug that loophole. God knows we have little enough now in the way of adequate planning and land-use controls, and I think we should at least keep what we have.
Motion agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
On section 6, as renumbered:
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Swart moves that section 6(2) be deleted.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, my concern in this, I think, is known by the members opposite and the members on the right. There was a section of the Planning Act enacted -- I am not sure when, but it has been in the act for some period of time. Section 35(25) is the core of this amendment. I want it deleted. It states that where an official plan is in effect in a municipality; and if notice is given in the manner and form and to the persons prescribed by the regulations; and if no notice of objection has been filed with the clerk of the municipality within the time prescribed by the regulations, the bylaw therefore comes into effect. It becomes a legal bylaw.
This has not been used. At least my understanding is that it has not been used except on one or two occasions. It is not used to any degree because, if it doesn’t conform with the official plan and anyone going ahead with a development may have a problem if someone decides to bring an action against him.
It doesn’t state conclusively that it conforms with the municipal official plan. Of course, the effect of the amendment is that it will conform. It will be deemed to conform with the official plan of the municipality.
My concern is that it will be deemed to conform whether it does or not. That will be the result of this amendment. It could be directly contradictory to the official plan of the municipality but it would be deemed to conform.
As long as it had to go to the Ontario Municipal Board, the necessary procedures were there to assure conformation with the official plan. And, of course, the clause in the act provides that once it has been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board it is deemed to conform with the official plan.
Of course, there have been changes made in the planning procedures in recent years, largely in the last year or two, whereby the final approval for zoning bylaw changes has gone back often to the regional municipality.
When we spoke on this bill on second reading I pointed out what had happened in the Niagara region where the municipality and the region had attempted to circumvent their own official plan regarding an industry, or at least an office complex, locating in what was zoned as an agricultural area.
I am afraid, although it may not be widespread among municipalities, that there will be occasions in the future when municipalities will pass zoning bylaws which are contradictory to their official plans. If nobody objects to them, then they will be deemed to conform with the official plans, even though these bylaws may be contradictory or at great variance with those official plans.
Therefore, it is my view that we should still have the safeguard of the Ontario Municipal Board or the safeguard of the legal action which is permitted under the existing legislation, rather than passing a provision whereby every unopposed zoning bylaw conforms to the official plan.
You see, the problem is this, Mr. Chairman. I am sure you are aware of this, as are other municipal people. When you have an official plan, it is circulated very, very widely. There are public hearings and anyone has the right to object at those public hearings. They may not always be successful but at least they have the right to object. Everybody knows about that, and so on and so forth.
With zoning bylaws, it is sometimes only a small change. The only people who have to be notified are those people within 400 feet or thereabouts. They may not object to it, even though it is contrary to the plan and even though that zone change may affect people over a far wider area than the people located only within a very small radius. Therefore, it seems to me that we should, by one method or another, always ensure that the zoning bylaw does conform to the official plan of the municipality.
That is really what I am trying to ensure here; that is that we don’t approve something and say it conforms, even though it is actually contradictory or at great variance to the plan. That is the reason for this amendment.
I know the minister will say there are safeguards. The municipality has to circulate to a great number of bodies. But the fact still remains that the same safeguards aren’t there because it has to have Ontario Municipal Board approval or else run the risk of somebody, through court action, determining that that zoning bylaw doesn’t conform with the official plan.
As in every issue, of course, there are two sides to the question and I recognize this. It gives some greater local autonomy to municipalities, but I think we have to weigh these two things in balance. If we are concerned about the official plans being fully implemented, then it’s better to carry on with the legislation we have than to pass this, which can permit the official plans to be circumvented.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I don’t accept the amendment as presented by the member for Welland-Thorold. It’s rather interesting. We sit in this Legislature and, as three different parties, we continue to talk about the provincial government giving more of the responsibilities it has to municipalities. It’s called municipal autonomy.
We think that municipal councils have grown up. We think they have improved, both from a staff point of view and from the elected members’ point of view, in trying to deal with their own affairs, including official planning.
The interesting part is that this particular amendment comes forward because people like the PMLC, individual municipalities, regional governments, and individual members of this Legislature have constantly said to Ministers of Housing and the minister reporting for the Planning Act that more and more responsibility should be given to the municipality. When they fulfil the obligations under the act of circulating a bylaw, which is a change of the official plan, and if there are no objections, then it should not be necessary to waste OMB’s time. It should not be necessary to take an extra period of weeks -- and it does take a period of weeks and every one of you in this House knows it as well as I do -- to get that concurrence to deem it to be in agreement with the official plan from the OMB, because of the mountain of work that’s given to that body.
When we bring in the amendment to the Planning Act this afternoon or this evening, that says if there are no objections to the bylaw, after it’s been circulated to the minister or to the regional government, as necessary under the act, and we have had a chance to review exactly the municipality’s objective, then what we are really saying is no, we don’t want to go the faster route, Let’s continue to put the responsibility to the OMB but let’s hound the OMB because they don’t do the job fast enough.
Mr. Chairman, we have to come to the very clear understanding in this House that either we mean what we say by giving autonomy to municipalities and respecting their ability to operate under such clear cut lines as we have here, or we don’t. I am one minister who believes that if a municipality can move this item forward more rapidly, following the rules and regulations of the act that they must follow, then I can see no reason why we should put this extra burden and this extra step in the way of getting an official approval of a bylaw. Clearly what we are saying this afternoon is that if there are no objections and the time period is being observed, then this bylaw should be deemed as having been approved by the municipal board and in concurrence with the official plan.
Simply, Mr. Chairman, it’s here to try and speed up the planning process, which we all have had some difficulty in accepting because of the time periods involved in getting amendments made to certain planning aspects of this province in the various communities. I say to the Legislature again, that any amendments to bylaws being made have to be circulated to the minister and the regional government. We are in a position, if we see something wrong and not in keeping, to raise an objection. Of course, it then necessitates an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.
I am offering this section 6, Mr. Chairman, in respect of municipal councils’ requests and planning boards who have asked for things to be speeded up. I want to make another point very clear, that where there are objections, we are not in any way, shape or form, by the amendments offered here this afternoon, limiting their ability to be heard before the OMB to express their views or objections to whatever the municipality happens to be doing.
But where there are no objections, we strongly suggest that rather than going through the process of the rubber-stamping at the OMB, which would take a period of time, the bylaw be deemed to be in compliance with the official plan.
Mr. Epp: We will be opposing this amendment for the reasons the minister has indicated and for a number of reasons we have ourselves, I have been one on this side of the House who from time to time has been very critical of the OMB for being very slow in its procedures and being very slow in trying to get decisions made and out to the concerned citizens of the province. I have asked the Attorney General on at least one occasion since I came here what he is going to do in order to expedite the decisions of the Ontario Municipal Board.
I also believe very faithfully in local autonomy where authority and responsibilities can be extended to local municipalities. As a former municipal politician for a few years, I always felt the provincial government should have greater faith in the local municipalities. It is only with this additional responsibility that municipalities will learn to assume those additional powers in a more responsible way. One can’t ask them to become responsible without giving them more responsibilities to deal with.
Obviously, we will be opposing this particular amendment for the simple reason that it will be taking responsibilities away from municipalities that the particular bill is supposed to be providing.
Mr. Swart: I think I can be forgiven, if I take a couple of minutes to answer what has been said. The comments of the member for Waterloo North don’t particularly persuade me that I may be wrong in this. I can remember after last Tuesday night, when I moved the amendments relative to subsection 2, every member who got up over there indicated they weren’t necessary and that he would be supporting the government’s stand. On some sober reflection and pushing from municipalities --
Mr. Epp: Particularly in the amendment.
Mr. Swart: -- both the government and the Liberal Party have done a complete change in one week’s time on those amendments.
An hon. member: There is no change. Just no amendment.
Mr. Swart: I suggest that examination of this would cause the same thing to happen. I was going to say I don’t think anybody in this House would agree that all planning be left to the local municipalities. There is a responsibility of the provincial government to set up the general planning principles in this province.
We have criticized the government, and rightly so, on many occasions because they have never come forth with a land-use plan. All we have now are just guidelines that aren’t really going to do any effective land-use planning in this province. Even the government itself doesn’t say it shouldn’t give any overall direction in the land-use planning field. It still has to approve official plans for municipalities.
It doesn’t make a great deal of sense if the government approves official plans and then actions are taken in land use which may be directly contrary to those official plans. I know they still have to circulate them, but when it has been handed down now to the regions or the counties to make the final decisions on zoning, it seems to me there is an obligation at some level of the government to see that it does, in fact, conform, and the Ontario Municipal Board has done that job.
Concern is stated about delays in the Ontario Municipal Board. We are all concerned about these delays. But surely the minister knows that the main delays are when a hearing is held. The Ontario Municipal Board, if it has a bylaw before it and there are no objections, just looks at all of the information, including the comments of any groups which are sent in, and then rules on that. It’s rather quick. It doesn’t take a great deal of time. It may delay it for a month.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Oh, sure, six weeks isn’t much time.
Mr. Swart: If you have a hearing it delays it for six or eight months, but maybe in some instances we should have that hearing. I guess that’s my point. They should have the chance to look at it and see if a hearing should be called, not just leave it to the region or the upper tier municipality to determine whether that zoning bylaw conforms with the official plan.
I just wanted to make that clear, that there’s not much delay encompassed in what I am suggesting be done here. It just gives one added protection, some higher level to see that the zoning bylaw conforms with the official plan.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Swart’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 6, as renumbered, agreed to.
On section 7, as renumbered:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Bennett moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“7. Section 42(20) of the said act is amended by adding at the end thereof and that notwithstanding any other provisions of this act the committee had jurisdiction to grant such consent and after the certificate has been given no action may be maintained to question the validity of such consent.’” And that the sections of the bill that follow be renumbered accordingly.
Mr. Hall: Just briefly, the explanation that’s been given to me is that there were a couple of municipalities that in some matters unwittingly have not passed certain bylaws and that this is a one-time section to assist in a particular instance that will not recur. If that is not the correct understanding I would appreciate it if the minister would so indicate.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That’s correct. The second situation that has recently arisen affect the validity of land severances granted in a few of the municipalities in the province. We have found that some county land division committees have been granting land severance consents when they may not, in fact, have had the required authority under sections 30 and 4 of the Planning Act. We are back-dating this particular section to take into account the date when these county land severance committees went out of existence and the other came into being, which was on June 27, 1970. It’s to verify or validify the actions that have been taken by some land severance committees across the province that thought they had the legal right.
Mr. Swart: We support this. They went ahead in good faith, and I don’t think there are really any injured parties in what took place. This is legal technicality, in my view, and therefore I think it deserves to be supported. I just say to the minister, with all the support that we’re extending to you, it’s regrettable you couldn’t have accepted that one amendment which was so important to the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 8 and 9, as renumbered, agreed to.
On section 10, as renumbered:
Hon Mr. Bennett: I have an amendment to section 10, which is the time effect of the provisions.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Bennett moves that section 10 of the bill as renumbered be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof:
“10(1) This act, except subsections 1 and 3 of section 2 and section 7, comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.
(2) Section 7 shall be deemed to have come into force on June 27, 1970.
(3) Section 2(3) shall be deemed to have come into force on November 23, 1978.
(4) Section 2(1) comes into force on March 31, 1979.”
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Chairman, section 10(1) excludes subsections 1 and 3 of section 2 and section 7 will come into effect immediately upon royal assent.
Section 10(2) refers to the date when the legislative provisions for establishing land division committees were introduced.
Section 10(3) refers to the date for the first reading of the bill to prevent any further violations, as I indicated about the checkerboarding of tenants in common and so on.
Regarding section 10(4), as I have already indicated, we are deferring this section’s coming into effect until March 31, 1979, to allow a period within which to offer an explanation of the implications to committees of adjustment and land division committees across the province.
I think the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Waterloo North both have indicated that there should be some period of time during which land division committees and committees of adjustment could come to have a greater appreciation of the actions they are taking in serving lands and of the rights they will have to put certain restrictions against those severances so they are on the deeds.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, obviously we will be supporting this particular amendment. I only hope the minister doesn’t have to add additional staff in order to keep track of the various dates on which the amendments take effect.
Mr. Swart: We too support this amendment, Mr. Chairman. I think the reasons make sense. I’m not at all sure but what the minister had the reasons transposed between subsection 2 and subsection 3 in his explanation. In any event, the timing on each one of these has a substantial reason for it and therefore we support the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Section 10, as renumbered and as amended, agreed to.
Section 11, as renumbered, agreed to.
Bill 183, as amended, reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of the whole House reported two bills with amendments.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 150, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act; and
Bill 183, An Act to amend the Planning Act.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Wells, moved second reading of Bill 195, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, as all members of the House know, these kinds of amendments to the Municipal Act come forth just about every session. There are quite a number of sections to the bill. Most of them have come about because of consultations with the municipalities, the municipal organizations and other bodies that are affected by the operations of municipal government.
As a result of the consultation process that has taken place in the last week since the introduction for first reading of this bill, there are some amendments that I will be proposing in committee. We have six amendments and I think the opposition have been circulated as to their intent.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this bill in principle. Obviously, we will be looking very closely at some of the amendments which the parliamentary assistant has indicated will be introduced later on. We may very well have some amendments ourselves, depending on the clarification that may be given to various parts of this bill.
There are some interesting aspects in this particular bill of which I wasn’t aware; for example, some responsibilities that didn’t previously rest with municipalities. For instance, those that deal with matters or objects of historical value and interest. I didn’t know, for example, that municipalities couldn’t accept or purchase such objects; that is, if the amendment in there now is correct. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant can clarify that later on.
The same thing applies to condominiums. Since we’re dealing with it, this Legislature has recently passed condominium legislation, Mr. Speaker. They are mature corporations and additional responsibilities have been given to them and to the municipalities dealing with these corporations. That’s something that I have been waiting for. I’m glad to see that some of these things are now incorporated in this bill.
One of the things we will be examining has to do with the taxicabs and their dealings within municipalities and in areas outside of municipalities. Some very interesting legislation is being introduced with respect to preventing taxicabs from outside of Metro for example, from picking up fares within Metro and taking those persons, or baggage, or whatever it might be, back to their own municipalities.
Mr. Warner: You’re not against that, are you?
Mr. Epp: Some of the cab companies, both in Metro and outside of Metro, have expressed concern regarding this amendment.
In the interests of time, Mr. Speaker, I won’t go on much longer, except to say that we will be supporting the bill. Secondly, since it is going to committee, we can discuss the various amendments the government proposes to bring forward at a later date.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that it was agreed that on second reading we would limit the time taken on this bill because this is a type of a bill which deals with a great many parts of the Municipal Act. And there is very little relationship between one section of the bill and another section of the bill. So I’ll reserve most of my comments until the time when we’re dealing with the bill section by section.
We, too, may have some amendments to this bill after hearing some of the explanations. We realize the limitations in moving certain amendments, Mr. Speaker, because the appropriate sections are not before us. But, there are some areas where we think some improvements can be made.
I have some comments to make on the first two sections of the bill as it comes before us. But we approve of the condominium section of this bill -- that section that permits municipalities to make agreements with the condominium corporations relative to maintaining what would normally be considered municipal services within that condominium complex.
We are, though, concerned that there is no compulsion on the part of the municipality to enter into any agreement. They may enter into such an agreement. They may assume part of the costs of providing these services. But, if they wished to say, “No, we will not enter into an agreement,” they will be permitted to do so under this bill.
With most condominiums there is double taxation, in effect. They have to look after their own roads, maintenance of their own water and sewer systems, the cleaning of snow in wintertime and their own street lights on their small streets.
I know of a case, if I dare say so, in the city of St. Catharines where there was no adequate base for the road and it broke up. There is probably justification, when their taxes are going to repair all other roads, that some of those roads too should be repaired. But this doesn’t provide for anything in a mandatory fashion. The municipality must sit down with the condominium corporation and negotiate an agreement which provides some equity to them compared with the rest of the municipality. We may be taking this into effect when we are dealing with the bill clause by clause.
We approve of the section of the bill which provides for special parking privileges and the prohibition of ticketing the --
Mr. Epp: Mel, don’t forget you asked to make this very short.
Mr. Swart: I wasn’t going to say anything if the member for Waterloo North had not taken a few minutes. I was prepared to let it go.
We obviously approve of those parts of this bill which provide for the parking for the vehicles of the handicapped. We will support the section that requires licensing of all vehicles to travel on the highways. We may have some concerns about that section because we don’t think it really deals with the problem with regard to the licensing of vehicles travelling on private land.
I won’t take any more time now to deal with these because they are really disconnected sections of the Municipal Act, and we can deal with them more adequately when we deal with the bill clause by clause.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, also in the same spirit of co-operation in getting quick passage of second reading, I have made a note of the various concerns that have been raised to date and hopefully I can answer any further questions, along with these, in committee.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole.
MINING TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Auld moved second reading of Bill 29, An Act to amend the Mining Tax Act.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable minister have an opening comment?
Hon. Mr. Auld: No.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, with respect to this bill the member for Rainy River has comments and he was outside of the House. But now he is here and will be able to make them.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my colleague from Kitchener. In a way I would have preferred it if the member for Kitchener had carried this bill.
Mr. Deans: We probably would too.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I think the member probably will. Actually when one looks around the House at the number of people who have come in, it is either to hear me speak --
Mr. Handleman: Never.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- or they are displaying intense interest in this bill that will so severely affect the mining community and northern Ontario in particular. in dealing with Bill 29, which we have had before us for some time, I will keep my comments relatively general. I would like to say, first of all, that we are not very satisfied with the bill. We are not satisfied at all with the mining tax legislation and regulation that we have in this province. I would go so far as to say this is nothing but a Band-Aid on an already bad act.
Mr. Laughren: Hear, hear.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I would suggest we must have a commitment from the government on the record -- and I hope the Minister of Natural Resources will give it here this afternoon -- that within a very short period of time, perhaps three years but hopefully two, he will bring before this Legislature a new mining tax bill that people can understand.
If we go through the history of the Mining Tax Act and go back to 1974, we see what we have here today. It’s completely incomprehensible to almost anybody who has to deal with this problem. I know some of the companies have officers who deal with nothing but the Ontario Mining Tax Act.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, and they don’t understand it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Even those people you would think would be happy to have the employment say the bill has to be simplified and it has to be made comprehensible.
Mr. Laughren: The lawyers can’t deal with it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I would like to read you a short paragraph in Bill 29 to give you an idea of what I mean:
“An allowance for depreciation in each taxation year of not less than five per cent and not more than 15 per cent of the cost to the operator computed at the close of the taxation year of the mining plant, machinery, equipment and buildings until the full cost thereof has been allowed as an expense under this clause, but where the mining plant, machinery, equipment and buildings or any part thereof have been disposed of by the operator, the proceeds from such disposal shall be applied to reduce the cost to such person of any additions thereto made in the taxation year, and where such proceeds exceed the cost of such additions, the excess shall be applied to reduce the balance remaining to be depreciated of such assets acquired in previous years, and where no such balance remains to be depreciated, the excess shall be applied to reduce deductions otherwise allowable under this subsection, and where any such disposal is made at any time after the close of mining operations, the tax for the last taxation year shall be reassessed for the purpose of depreciation recovery where applicable.”
Mr. Pope: What’s wrong with that?
Mr. Deans: Don’t you understand that?
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, that is the explanatory note. That’s not even the legalese in the bill itself, but that explains what all this other mumbo-jumbo means. That whole paragraph is one sentence.
Mr. Warner: I’m surprised you don’t understand that. It’s quite clear to me.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s a windfall.
Mr. Deans: Would you like it put in other words?
Mr. T. P. Reid: I think the point is obviously made. I could go through the other explanatory notes --
Mr. M. Davidson: Please don’t.
Mr. T. P. Reid: -- but I think you can see, Mr. Speaker, that if that is the explanation, the actual facts of what we’re dealing with are very difficult indeed to understand. When we think about the complexity of this kind of legislation and regulation, I’m reminded that when I was studying graduate economics we were talking about foreign exchange in the world.
Mr. Deans: What has that got to do with this?
Mr. T. P. Reid: Our professor, who was the noted Dr. Barber, said that there are two people in the whole world who understand foreign exchange and foreign money markets. One is the director of the Bank of France and the other person is an obscure clerk in the Bank of England. They are the only two who understand international finance and they don’t agree.
We have the same problem with this kind of bill and this kind of legislation. There is no one in this chamber, I might say, who fully understands the rigmarole involved in mining taxation. That’s one of the problems. We have to simplify it. I’m going to offer some constructive suggestions but I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that that simplification is not in this bill. I hope we can move, as the government has indicated on occasion, first of all to put it in language people can understand but to go back one step and make the rules regarding mining tax in the province simple to understand, simple to apply, and hopefully, as the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) would say, simple for the mining companies to pay.
The gist of the most important part, or one of the most important parts, is found in the first section of the bill, dealing with social assets. This is a matter that has concerned us in this party for some time. I come from a northern community myself where the mining companies, Steep Rock and Caland, have been very generous in providing social assets or contributing to them by way of grants to hospitals and recreation facilities over the years.
But it is a cost of doing business and it is a cost to the mining company. It is a cost that, when not provided by government, the taxpayers then do not have to bear out of general revenue. So we agree on this side and in this party with the principle that these assets should in fact be considered when computing mining tax.
I am not entirely happy with the provisions in the bill. I don’t think the operating costs, for instance, that we are referring to in the bill really amount to a great deal. Certainly in absolute money terms, they are not going to cause a mining company to have much incentive to provide any social capital, such as housing, in some of these existing communities or which might exist in the future.
I would throw out to the minister for his consideration that some depreciation at least should be allowed on the assets and that the interest charges which are one of the larger items in this regard should be considered, rather than just the operating cost. I am not an expert on tax matters at all. However, if the government allows them depreciation, then it has the opportunity of recapturing some of that at a later date, but if it is trying to provide an incentive and if it is trying to say to these mining companies that they have some social responsibility in providing some of these assets, then I think it is only fair that they should have the opportunity to take depreciation on these assets and apply it to the mining tax payable, as they would in any other business.
Having said that, I want to turn to a few other matters dealing with the bill. I want to say that we are quite concerned with the viability of the mining community in Ontario and especially, of course, how it affects the mining communities, which are primarily one-industry towns, and the people who live in those towns.
It seems to me that we have to arrive at some understanding that people who invest in mining today have to have a five or 10-year projection where they know the rules are not going to be changed or are not changed drastically and radically so they can plan their investment and what they are going to recapture from that investment.
We have had economic problems in Canada and the world related to metal markets, one of which is that worldwide demand has been down. One of the other instances is that we are now facing rather strong competition from Third World countries which, to a large extent, are subsidizing their mining activities as a conscious social purpose so they are funnelling money into them subsidizing those projects as a social good to provide employment and all the rest of those good things, but that means our mining companies then have to face that kind of competition in world markets.
If we are going to attract investment and keep the mining industry a viable and expanding resource in Ontario we have to assure them that for five or ten years the rules of the game are not going to change radically. We are concerned about the graduated tax on mining profits. We have taken the attitude over the years, both federally and provincially, that the mining game was the golden goose and we were going to get all the eggs that were available between the federal government and ourselves. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that because of the characteristics of the mining business, the capital costs and development costs of mining from the time you start the exploration until the time you open the mine, are extremely high. It’s a high risk business, as we are finding out to our sorrow with Inco and others in the province.
I would like to offer, Mr. Speaker, if I may, for the consideration of the minister, for inclusion in this bill, the fact we must arrive at some kind of rational taxing of the mining community that can be easily understood, that can give some feeling of security for some years to come. A simplification along these lines, as I understand it, has been suggested.
There must be an agreed sharing of tax rates between the federal and provincial authorities. In some cases, as the minister knows, the effective tax rate can be up to 75 per cent on some of these enterprises, which provides no incentive for expansion or development of investment. It should be agreed between the federal and provincial governments that there be a maximum tax established which includes a provision that both the federal and provincial governments don’t take a bigger slice of the pie unilaterally without consultation between them. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, this is a negotiable policy that’s going on between the federal and provincial governments of any resource province, ourselves on the uranium, and particularly, of course, Alberta with the oil.
I think any further simplification or any new tax approach has to contemplate the protection of further processing, or use of the metal in Canada, into its final form.
Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about a few other items. Perhaps we can deal with them in the committee as we go through clause by clause. I notice the minister provided us some time ago with amendments that are largely housekeeping. We will, in fact, be supporting this bill but we are concerned that, first of all, the taxes on the mining companies be fair and equitable and that they be easily understood and easily applied.
I think we learned some time ago in a meeting, that the government’s tax assessor is three and four years behind in providing assessments to mining companies. They don’t know, in fact, what taxes are payable at the moment. I think we have to ensure the public of Ontario gets a fair return on those assets that are held in common, and the economic rent due from these kinds of resources finds its way into the coffers of the people through the Treasurer of Ontario. At the same time, I think we have to walk a very tight line and ensure we don’t discourage investment on a long-term basis in Ontario.
There’s one other matter, Mr. Speaker, on the principle of the bill and that has to do with the allowance for new mines. As I understand it, there is an accelerated depreciation or there is normal depreciation. As I understand it, the act requires that you have to go one way or the other. Obviously, if we are trying to provide an incentive for people to expand present operations or to develop new mines they should have the option of which one they choose, rather than an either/or situation, particularly when their mining assessment is three or four or five years behind. They don’t know what taxes they are going to pay in absolute terms, that they do have to pay, because they have had the revenues for that time. The assessment doesn’t come in until later. They can’t always make a rational decision, let us say in 1978, as to which method is to their advantage at this particular time.
I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the minister might contemplate an amendment which would allow the mining companies a reasonable amount of time to make an either/or choice, or a combination of choices, because if the government is trying to provide an incentive, I think the companies should have that kind of ability with full knowledge of what impact the taxes are going to have on their operation.
In conclusion, I hope we can get that commitment from the minister today; that there will be a rationalization to simplify the mining tax system to get away from disaggregation, processing allowance, foreign processing allowance, at-the-pit allowances, social capital and all these ranges of things that even the lawyers find so vastly complicated. I think all these things have made it an arcane science that perhaps Mr. Mohide of your ministry understands -- I can’t say he doesn’t because I am not sure I fully understand, so I am not in a position to make that judgement.
I am sure from my conversations with the minister that he wouldn’t like to take a written test on what this is all about. So I ask the minister to rationalize the taxes, in some ways go back to the pre-1914 system, and that he simplify the system.
As a matter of fact, I think it has been suggested to the Sudbury Inco layoff select committee that perhaps something as simple as just putting a surtax on the profits of mining corporations over and above the corporation tax, or whatever percentage the minister thinks would be fair, and would be a fair return to the people of Ontario while not discouraging long-term investment, might be the simplest way to do it. A simple royalty tax.
But let’s get away from this kind of arcane approach to it that no one really understands. It just leads to massive amounts of paper that discourage investment in Ontario because of its complexity. Let’s get back to a simplified tax system that will provide an incentive for people to come here and invest and so create jobs.
Mr. Laughren: Let me say at the outset that, speaking on behalf of all my colleagues --
Mr. Haggerty: There are not too many of them there. Just you and one other person.
Mr. Breithaupt: Including the deputy.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I must take credit for driving them away, not you.
Mr. MacBeth: Where are they?
Mr. Laughren: Don’t be provocative. We believe very profoundly that in this province we need, and I am sure the minister would agree, a very healthy, thriving mineral industry. We believe that.
Mr. Peterson: You will take it over. As soon as it got healthy you would take it over.
Mr. Laughren: At the same time I know that we New Democrats have been grossly maligned over our policy on minerals, and what we would do with minerals. What we may debate is the ownership, but not the question of how healthy that industry should be, whether it be in the public sector or the private sector.
Traditionally, the mining industry is very important to the development and the health of the Ontario economy. Surely, all of us would agree that’s terribly important. I would simply say to those people who would so grossly malign us --
Mr. Pope: Martel and your leader couldn’t even agree.
Mr. Laughren: -- that the private sector has not very much to be proud of in its handling of the mineral industry in this province. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that there are civil servants in the ministry who understand that very well. There are civil servants in the ministry who have made recommendations on how it should be a better industry. But politically this government has lacked the courage to move.
I would like to talk to the minister very briefly about what a good mineral policy should do, and how taxation is part of the mineral policy. One can’t separate highfalutin rhetoric without including the nuts and bolts of a taxation policy that works. The province of Ontario was party to an agreement a number of years ago -- I think it was in 1974 -- which was signed by all the provinces and the federal government, concerning a mineral policy objective for Canada.
The objectives that were agreed upon are very honourable. I must say that most of them I would have been happy to have signed. They are as follows:
“Strengthen knowledge base for national decision-making.” Good idea.
“Contribute to orderly world mineral development and marketing.” If you come from a community that mines nickel, you would certainly endorse that.
“Ensure national self-determination in mineral development.” Boy, are we a long way from that.
“Harmonize multiple resource development.” Who could argue?
“Improve mineral conservation and use.
“Realize opportunities for further mineral processing.
“Increase the return to Canadians from exportable mineral surpluses.
“Ensure mineral supply for national needs.
“Strengthen the contribution or minerals to regional and national development.” As someone who lives in the Sudbury area, I can attest to the need for that.
“Foster a viable mineral sector.
“Minimize adverse effects of mineral development on the environment.” The minister is a former Minister of the Environment; he certainly understands the problems there.
“Relate mineral development to social needs.”
Those are very nice objectives; there are none there that I could not agree to. But somewhere along the line we have lost sight of those objectives. We are not achieving those objectives. We don’t seem to be moving in the direction that will get us there.
Recently the federal government published a report entitled Federal-Provincial Resource Taxation Review as a discussion paper for the first ministers’ conference on the economy. It is a discussion paper of some substance and some length; in it there are some interesting comments. I assume that the minister and his people had some input into this document, because it talks about the kind of taxation this bill is referring to.
I will read some of the conclusions in the report regarding the level of taxation in the mining industry:
“(a) Federal and provincial income taxes on mining have risen in the 1970s but are still lower than the income tax burden on other Canadian industries.” I think we should not forget that. The mining industry has a very powerful lobby, and sometimes we lose perspective on just what the level of taxation is in the mineral industry.
“(b) Tax levels, including both income taxes and provincial mining taxes, royalties and other charges, have also risen in recent years and are currently higher than in manufacturing if only income taxes are considered for the [manufacturing] industry. There are also other industries such as services, retail trade and wholesale trade in which the income tax burden is similar to the total tax burden in mining. This indicates the overall tax level in mining is generally in line with that in other industries, keeping in mind that mining taxes and royalties are also in part payments to governments for use of resources and are therefore similar to payments to private-sector owners rather than taxes.
“(c) International tax comparisons are difficult to make. In any event, it is not clear that Canada should attempt to match tax rates in other countries. In the case of the United States, lower taxes on the extraction phase can be offset by higher taxes on processing, whereas in Canada the relatively lower amount of domestic use means that taxes on extraction are the principle returns to government. In developing countries, tax systems may well reflect widely different priorities than those in Canada.” I glean from this that we should not be trapped into looking at superficial statistical comparisons of tax rates. We should think about it very carefully and what it means.
Finally, “the contribution of the tax system to the current problems in this section has been appreciably less than that of other factors such as costs and prices. This is not to imply that the tax system cannot be used to help the industry.” That’s an important point, because when the all-party select committee on the layoffs had Inco appearing before it, we asked the Inco officials quite directly if taxation was the source of their current problems. They were quite frank about it and said: “No, of course not. Taxation isn’t the problem. It’s world markets -- world demand and supply of nickel.” We should not be conned into thinking that raising and lowering the tax levels is going to solve the problem in the mining industry. We know better. I’m not suggesting the minister says that, but I think that’s a precaution we need to take.
The other point I wanted to refer to the minister is the whole question of the share of taxation that accrues to the province versus the federal government. Over the years, there’s been a rather dramatic shift. According to this report, and I’m referring now to metal and other mining, not petroleum and natural gas and so forth, in 1969 the province had 53 per cent of the tax revenue and the federal government had 47 per cent. By 1975, the provincial share was 67 per cent and the federal share was 33 per cent.
That’s a very dramatic shift in taxation and one which I support. It’s the provinces that have jurisdiction in the BNA Act for resources and that’s where the bulk of the revenue should go.
There is one area that isn’t talked about in the report as far as I can see, and that’s the whole question of the municipalities. I don’t believe the municipalities should be able to get into the whole mineral taxation game. I think it’s complex enough and difficult to understand as my colleague, the member for Rainy River, said. But even though they should not be part of the mineral taxation game, a portion of the revenues collected, either federally or provincially or perhaps both, should go to the municipalities.
A year or so ago when the Blair commission on property tax reform was holding hearings, they came to Sudbury and strangely enough, Inco made a submission and I made a submission on behalf of my colleagues and, guess what? There was an area of agreement, namely that there should be revenues going to the municipality from the mining industry.
Let’s face it, the mining community provides a tremendous amount of services and it’s the employees of that industry who use those services. It’s inevitable that that’s going to happen. Because of the nature of mining communities and to a large extent the policies of this government, we don’t get the spin-off benefits from the mining industry we should. We don’t get a diversified economic base in the mining communities and the service charges tend to be very high. The proportion of tax revenue that comes from the residential sector versus commercial or industrial is exorbitantly high compared to other municipalities in Ontario. We know that. Statistically, that’s a fact. That’s why a portion of revenues that accrue to the federal and provincial governments should go to the mining municipalities.
It’s no coincidence that in the Sudbury area there’s a very, very high capital debt. As a matter of fact, they were bumping the ceiling the OMB would permit. It’s no accident or coincidence that it’s a mining community. The terrain in which to lay services is difficult, partly because it is a mining community.
Here we have the government doing nothing to encourage diversification, not extracting taxation from the mining industry for the municipality, and the people who pay are the people who live in communities, such as Sudbury. When layoffs occur, when serious strikes occur, it really hurts a community like Sudbury because it’s not a diversified community. The taxation of the industry has a role to play in that.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that the municipalities should tax mining revenues. I’m saying a proportion of the revenues should be funnelled back into the communities.
During a political campaign up there, the figure of $6 million a year was bandied about as being a very nice share of what Inco alone should be paying to the municipalities through the federal-provincial governments. That would be a very nice idea because it would show the people in Sudbury that this government had some measure of faith in the future of that community. There are severe problems there. The government dabbles with the mining taxes while the communities continue with their very serious problems. That simply has to change.
Before I move on, one reason we’ve always maintained that the mining industry cannot properly or adequately be taxed is because of the nature of the beast itself. And the mining companies would tell you, Mr. Speaker, the thing that determines the level of ore they take out -- the percentage of nickel, iron or copper, whatever -- is the price of the mineral, If the price of the mineral goes up, or if the return on their investment goes up, in other words, if taxes are very low while prices are very high, they can mine a lower grade of ore and get more of the mineral out of the ground.
If the price drops substantially, or if they are taxed very hard, then the grade of ore they take out would have to rise. They would take out only the high grade mineral because that’s all that is economically feasible for them to do. Therefore, as soon as the government decides it is going to extract a fair share out of that industry, up goes the grade of ore that’s taken out.
This isn’t any kind of diatribe. The companies will tell you that. It’s an economic fact of life in the mineral industry. Therefore, we say it’s virtually impossible to have a proper level of taxation on the mineral industry; ergo it should be in the public sector where decisions can be made that are long term and not simply dependent upon cyclical changes in demand and supply. That’s a very fundamental reason why we believe that those minerals should be in the public sector.
Mr. MacDonald: Whitney considered it in the first decade of this century.
Mr. Laughren: As a matter of fact, do you know what Eli Whitney said at one time?
Mr. T. P. Reid: There is a sucker born every minute.
Mr. Laughren: Whitney was talking about the water resources. My colleague from York South will correct me if I’m wrong. I’m sure he can tell a much better story than I can. He said, “The water resources of this province must no longer be the sport and prey of capitalists. They belong to all the people in Ontario.” And we say the same principle applies to the non-renewable resources, in spades.
Mr. MacDonald: He was responding to the big business interests of the Ross Liberal government.
Mr. Pope: With all capitalists nothing makes sense.
Mr. Breithaupt: Surely not Eli Whitney.
Hon. Mr. Drea: That’s right. You don’t know who you are talking about.
Mr. Laughren: Maybe. Let’s just say Premier Whitney. That was his line.
Mr. Turner: So what else is new?
Hon. Mr. Drea: He’s the fellow who introduced slavery.
Mr. Laughren: He would not have said that.
Mr. Breithaupt: Norris would not have said it either.
Mr. Laughren: Premier Whitney did say that. And if he only understood at that time the seriousness of the problem in the mineral industry I’m sure he would have said it about that too.
Mr. MacDonald: He was vetoed by his cabinet.
Mr. Laughren: He did it with the water resources didn’t he, and that’s renewable? Here we’re dealing with something that is non-renewable, so his logic is irrefutable. You can’t argue with it, Mr. Speaker.
When I look through the bill and I see what the government is doing it reminds me of when I was talking to the Treasurer about some of the things he’s doing. You know what it’s like? Look at what’s happening in the mineral industry. The government brings in this bill, and it’s remodelling its sandbox while a demolition crew is taking down its house in the front yard. That’s what it’s doing. The government is not dealing with the problems in the mineral industry at all, not at all.
Mr. Peterson: That’s catchy.
Mr. Laughren: All the government is doing is tampering once again with the taxation of the mineral industry. They don’t know what they’re doing.
Hon. Mr. Walker: No, you can’t say that.
Mr. MacDonald: Like the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) with his food land guidelines.
Mr. Laughren: They don’t know what they’re doing with the mining industry despite all the years, despite all the problems, despite people from the ministry who tell them what they should be doing. The government doesn’t listen to them.
Hon. Mr. Walker: You can’t even keep a straight face when you say that.
Mr. Laughren: When the ministry says there needs to be more mineral processing in northern Ontario, what does the government do? Oh boy, they’ve got the answer. It gives them an exemption to section 113 of the Mining Act which says they can ship it elsewhere, and charge off the processing costs, for example in Norway or in Wales, against their Ontario operation. So not only does the government allow them to ship it out, contrary to section 113, but it says whatever it costs them, they can write off against their Ontario profit. What kind of insane mineral taxation policy is that?
Mr. M. N. Davison: The Tories just can’t run the store.
Mr. Laughren: And it flies in face of what the government’s own experts are telling it.
Mr. Pope: You can’t win on that policy in the next election.
Mr. Laughren: If the member for Cochrane South thinks there should not be further processing --
Mr. Pope: Go ahead and run on it then. Your own leader and Elie couldn’t even get together on it.
Mr. Laughren: If he thinks there should not be further processing in Ontario, let him stand up and say so.
Mr. Warner: That’s his position.
Mr. Pope: Your own leader and Elie couldn’t agree on what the policy was. Get your act together.
Mr. Laughren: If the member for Cochrane South --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Would the member please continue to address his remarks to the Chair?
Mr. Pope: You lost three seats up there because of a --
Mr. Laughren: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would the member please ignore the interjections and address the Chair?
Mr. Laughren: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
All I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that we believe there should be more processing of minerals in Ontario. It creates jobs, it creates new wealth, it gives a base for further manufacturing of finished products. And in this country we have an $11 billion deficit on end products. And what do we have? We have a government that says, “Ship out the ore,” which could lead to the building of good secondary industry and the production of end products. It flies in the face of logic. And it isn’t as though this is just me speaking, the experts in the industry tell them that too, and they don’t listen.
Mr. Warner: You are the pawns of the multinationals. Nothing but pawns.
Mr. Pope: You are pawns of the multinationals too -- on the other side.
Mr. Laughren: The simple fact is, if we had the mineral industry in this province in the public sector where it belongs -- and I’ll give you a specific example, Mr. Speaker. Let us go on a flight of fancy for a moment.
Mr. Pope: You have been.
Mr. Turner: Why change your position?
Mr. Laughren: Let’s assume Inco is in the public sector; a crown corporation called the People’s International Nickel Company. Anyway it is in the public sector. Can you not see us, Mr. Speaker, building a model of occupational health and safety; a model for the further processing of our minerals; a model of community responsibility?
Mr. Pope: And then close it down.
Mr. Laughren: Because, after all, they get their wealth from the community, from the labour of the people in that community, and to not return a fair share to the community is irresponsible. And this government has allowed them to do that for many years. When we get into real trouble in a mining community, the government has no alternative.
Well, I should perhaps speak to the bill itself.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That would be a good idea.
Mr. MacDonald: He has laid the foundation.
Mr. Laughren: The bill talks about charging off or writing off social assets.
By the way, we are going to support this bill.
Mr. Breithaupt: It has taken 20 minutes to come to that.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s the bottom line.
Mr. Laughren: But in return for support of this bill, we expect the government to support a bill which will be introduced in the near future by my colleague from Sudbury East. We expect that. And I am extracting that commitment from you right now. And I see the House leader nodding his head in agreement.
Hon. Mr. Welch: No.
Mr. Makarchuk: We have a commitment from the House leader; no question about it.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Let the record be clear there is no nod.
Mr. Laughren: Let the record show that he is nodding his head.
Mr. Makarchuk: He was only nodding; he was only falling asleep.
Mr. Laughren: He was nodding his head vigorously. Mr. Speaker, I shall try and keep my remarks brief.
Hon. W. Newman: That would be a pleasure.
Mr. Laughren: When we look at the bill and we see the write-off for social assets, we will support that, because we happen to think that, particularly in small and isolated communities, there is a responsibility on the part of the mining company to provide those social assets and social amenities. Hopefully this will encourage them to do so. If those companies were in the public sector, that is certainly what we would do, and we would want to assume that was part of the cost of running that crown corporation, as it were.
When the minister talks about the write-off of 100 per cent of the assets for an expanding mine or a new mine, I assume that his mine assessor is going to make that determination. But we can get into that in the clause by clause discussion. I think the minister is going to have very busy mine assessors.
I notice, in the bill, that the minister has excluded the Hydro contract. He has excluded the uranium industry, in other words. It’s very interesting that the minister should exclude it. If it says nothing else, it says that the uranium companies don’t need any more breaks than they already have. We have handed them the greatest giveaway in the history of this province.
Mr. Makarchuk: Roman made more money than the province of Ontario did last year.
Mr. Laughren: That’s the reason why they’re excluded in this bill.
Mr. Warner: Steve Roman, the pirate!
Mr. Laughren: If they had to compete; if they didn’t have this iron-clad, money-making guarantee handed them by the government, they would be included in this bill, as well. But the minister knows and I know that’s not so.
Mr. Warner: Roman the robber.
Mr. Laughren: There are several pages of this bill devoted to excluding companies involved with the Hydro contract. That should tell us something.
Finally, we think now as we always have thought. This bill shouldn’t even have been brought in by this minister. This should be Revenue. The government persists in having the Ministry of Natural Resources responsible for the collection of mining taxes. We think that’s fundamentally wrong. We think it’s a conflict, quite frankly, though not in a personal sense, but a conflict for the Ministry of Natural Resources to be both assessing the tax and collecting the tax.
Other ministries don’t do it that way. Other ministries have their policies concerning the various sectors and the Ministry of Revenue is responsible for collecting the taxes. The Treasurer can lay out the taxation policy and the Ministry of Revenue collects it.
That’s the way it should be with minerals. But, for some reason, which I don’t even like to think about out loud, this government has always persisted in tying the making of policy to the collection of taxation in the mining industry. We feel that’s fundamentally wrong. Perhaps some day the government will listen to us.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker: first of all, I am delighted to hear that this is going to be a unanimous piece of legislation. I will be very brief in my comments or responses to the comments of the members for Rainy River and Nickel Belt.
I have to say that I find the mining tax comprehensible now.
Mr. Laughren: I don’t believe you.
Mr. Warner: That says something about your mind.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You wouldn’t want to hang your political career on that statement.
Hon. Mr. Auld: In Leeds, I would.
Mr. Laughren: Would you like to write a test?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The important thing to remember is that this is a tax on the mineral in the state it’s in when it arrives at the surface. I suppose you could call it a royalty in that sense, Mr. Speaker, except that you can’t have a royalty on something the crown already owns, only on something that is privately owned.
Mr. Laughren: Well, that is debatable.
Hon. Mr. Auld: The mining tax is arrived at in this way: one takes the end price and then deducts all the processing costs from the time the ore came out of the mine mouth.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Now, you’ve got it.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I have to say that I have heard from the industry that while this is not as much as they would like, they believe it’s a step in the right direction. The addition of the net costs of operating social assets may not mean a lot to mines which have been well established and long established, because those assets have been written off or, in many cases, turned over to the community. But I think it will be of particular help to new mines or, as we say, “significant additions to existing mines.” That significant addition is defined.
It is certainly desirable to have a five- or 10-year projection of all the expenses and, of course, the anticipated revenue from any kind of an operation and particularly something as full of risk and of high initial capital cost as a mine. On the other hand, I really don’t think it is feasible, although we are doing our best.
There has been agreement in principle between the provinces, particularly the provinces which have large mining potential, and with the federal government, to try to get some sort of standardization in taxation on mines. There have been meetings in that connection; they started at the first ministers’ meeting last winter, and progress has been made. Mr. Chretien did make some tax concessions, from the federal point of view, in his recent budget changes about a month ago.
I have to say this bill does clarify some matters which have been holding up assessments; the member for Rainy River mentioned the backlog. There are matters which have not been clear. Even though it does appear to be somewhat complex on the wording, it does actually clarify some of the contentious points, which means we will be able to catch up on that backlog, and there will be a clearer understanding on both the side of the government and the side of the companies.
I won’t take the time to read out in plain English what is involved, but it has been established. My information is that, while we may wrestle with some of the terms, the people in the industry who deal with this all the time don’t have many questions as to the meaning. I think when you are involved in it, you understand it.
The system really didn’t change in 1974. It was simply the four rates of taxation that were established to deal, I am told, with an unusual situation which occurred at that time. Prior to that, there had been a single rate. I believe my predecessor, now the Treasurer, has indicated he will be looking at those rates. If there is any change in them, I assume it would be done at the time of the provincial budget.
I must say I have never heard that the industry was asking for a simple tax in the sense of a surtax. The problem with that is the degree of processing and all the factors that go into making an end product. Some companies do more processing before they sell to the next or the final consumer than others do.
The reason the mining tax is established as it stands is to make sure it is applied only on the mineral that is extracted and not on all the other processes that go to change it into a variety of forms.
In connection with some of the comments of the member for Nickel Belt, I inferred from what be said that the local communities receive no municipal taxes for mining operations.
Mr. Laughren: I didn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Auld: In my simple way, that’s what I inferred. I certainly wouldn’t want to malign the honourable member because, as he well knows, there is no municipal tax on the mine underground, but there is tax on the facilities above ground. In fact, it was this government that did a great deal of negotiating with Texasgulf which resulted in the refinery they have built and the additional processing, and which has produced several million dollars in local taxes to the enlarged city of Timmins.
The honourable member was concerned about the allowance for offshore processing costs for certain mines. I am sure he’s aware that only the direct processing costs are allowed, and there is no processing allowance made on those costs. There are two matters. There are processing costs and processing allowances. Only the costs are apparently allowed and that change took place I think three or four years ago.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see that it is now one minute to six. I will conclude my remarks.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
RESIDENTIAL PREMISES RENT REVIEW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Drea moved second reading of Bill 202, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Does the minister have any statement?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, it’s a very simple bill. It extends rent control for an additional 90 days after December 31.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, the bill of course is necessitated because of the continuing involvement with the rent review bill in committee. Since the Legislature is expected to return in the first week of March, it will be able then to deal with any changes in the bill during that month. As a result, the 90 days’ notice requirement will be attended to, hopefully, for any changes in notices that have to be given during the month of March by the new bill. As a result we will of course support the legislation.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be three minutes in length. Shall I do it in two parts or will the clock accommodate that? The New Democratic Party will be as happy to support second and third reading of Bill 202 as it was to support second and third reading of Bill 188, some short time ago on November 30. Before the social development committee, in the early days of its sittings on the Residential Tenancies Act, it became quite apparent to everyone who wasn’t blind in one eye and unable to see from the other that we were not going to finish the committee stage of the bill before Christmas.
For some reason, which I frankly could not understand at the time and I am no clearer on it yet to this day, the minister decided, while having said that the extension would probably be five or eight months down the road, and it wasn’t going to be possible to get this through a committee in a couple of weeks, to come in with a one-month extension. Well, the minister was unable to be in the House that evening and chose to stand outside. At that time I wasn’t able to engage him in this, and I guess tonight I won’t be able to either, but the situation obviously dictated an extension of some months, not one month. I suspect three should be adequate for our needs.
The ministry’s position is unclear but my party’s position is quite clear on this matter, as the record will show. It could be seen at the time. We were able to make the prediction on November 30 in debate in the House. I said, “I suspect we will be back in the next week or two with a bill to extend it further. We will give that bill the same kind of support we are prepared to give this bill tonight.”
We are happy to be here to support this bill to extend it so that there’s a reasonable amount of time for tenants to come before the committee on clause by clause and put their position so we come out of that committee with a better bill than we are going into it with. Frankly I think the minister should get his act together because it’s unfortunate that we have to waste the time of the House with two bills in a two-week period when one would have sufficed and could have been brought in some time ago.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Are there any other honourable members wishing to speak to this bill?
The honourable minister.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the reason for the first 30-day bill was to enable the committee to function in an orderly manner. The reason for this bill is to enable the committee to function in an orderly manner over the wintertime. If the committee functions in a little more orderly manner over the wintertime, it might get it passed by March 1979 instead of March 1980.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
The House recessed at 6:05 p.m.