The House resumed at 8:02 p.m.
COUNTY COURTS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Sterling, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, moved second reading of Bill 199, An Act to amend the County Courts Act.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, this act basically is a small amendment to the County Courts Act to accommodate some changes in other legislation which has taken place in this Legislature.
Firstly, it takes into account the Family Law Reform Act, which came into effect on March 31, 1978; and it takes into account the new Child Welfare Act, which is on the Order Paper and has received second reading.
Basically, the problem arises in terms of the direction from each of these acts for an appeal from an original trial to an appeal before the county court. The problem relates to instructions or powers vested in the county courts as to what they can do with the appeals. At the present time there is an implied authority in the court to deal with that appeal; and, fortunately, we have not had at this time any challenges in terms of the court’s jurisdiction. It was actually through the excellent work of some of the researchers of the Attorney General that there was the recognition of a possible problem in the future.
The act basically vests in the county court all of the same powers as an appeal to the Court of Appeal and, therefore, allows the county court the flexibility to deal with an appeal in a proper manner.
Mrs. Campbell: I don’t feel that this momentous bill should go unnoticed and unsung. However, it goes unchallenged. So far as I am concerned, I welcome the introduction of it. I think there could have been problems. I’m delighted that there were none and I trust that this will eliminate any chances of further problems in the future.
Mr. Bradley: Good speech.
Mr. Lawlor: How delightfully succinct.
Mr. Nixon: Try to be as succinct.
Mrs. Campbell: I told you I would be.
Mr. Lawlor: That is the most precious and delightful speech that the member for St. George has made in many a moon. I shall do likewise, let me assure you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Worton: Having said that --
Mr. Lawlor: The section before us points up the grievous oversights of the government over a long and extended period of time, full of anguish and the torture that only legislation can give members of this House.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Soon your colleagues are going to be full of anguish and torture.
Mr. Lawlor: We overlook the possibility that the county court, which has very substantial jurisdiction in this matter, may not have jurisdiction at all. Can you imagine having spent that much time -- I think in three years we managed to do it -- and tonight we end up with this? I’m an anti-abortionist, but there we are. You have a tiny abortion in front of you, Mr. Speaker. I won’t push it. Parturition is enough. We’ll leave it like that.
Mr. Nixon: Top those two speakers.
Mr. Sterling: In the interests of brevity, I would like to thank both members for their brevity.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
Mr. Lawlor: Of course, we intend to vote against it on third reading.
Mr. MacBeth: Does the member for Lakeshore want a recorded vote?
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT AND REPEAL ACT
Hon. W. Newman moved second reading of Bill 194, An Act to amend and repeal certain Acts administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Riddell: I’m pleased that this bill is finally going to see the light of day. It’s rather unfortunate that it conflicted with a day that I had originally set aside to travel to Sault Ste. Marie to put the finishing touches on the campaign there --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Finishing is right.
Mr. Riddell: -- which we are confident is going to result in a victory for our candidate.
Mr. Nixon: There is no reason to think otherwise.
Mr. MacDonald: You mean to put a wreath on the coffin.
Mr. Speaker: That may be a matter of principle, but not of this bill.
Mr. Riddell: I first learned of the minister’s intention to restructure his ministry at the press day for the international ploughing match and machinery show which was held in Huron county last September. It’s only appropriate that such news should have been released in southwestern Ontario, the breadbasket of Ontario
I’m sure the people attending that event welcomed the announcement and felt that it was long overdue. Personally, I fail to understand the long delay between that announcement and the introduction of the bill two weeks before the House prorogues.
But, after learning the facts, I must congratulate the minister for giving the farm organizations, commodity boards and commissions an opportunity to comment on the changes the minister planned.
We in the Liberal caucus have met with farm organizations and talked to both farm and non-farm people about the proposed changes. Unfortunately, we did not have the benefit of seeing the bill when most of these discussions took place. However, the minister did not deviate too much from his announcement at the ploughing match in drafting the bill. He established a food market development branch, whose function it is to develop and implement programs designed to increase consumption here at home of Ontario-grown fresh and processed agricultural products and to spread the word that good things grow in Ontario to the rest of the world.
The establishment of the new food marketing development branch involved repealing the act under which the Ontario Food Council operates at present. The food council’s trade practices responsibilities will be transferred to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, although it was obvious in the debate the other night on the report to abolish agencies, boards and commissions, that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) was not particularly happy to have this extra responsibility.
This worries me, for I feel that any trading practice which tends to favour the consumer, even though it may seriously jeopardize the producers’ position, may be given the minister’s blessing. However, I can understand that if this responsibility remains with the Minister of Agriculture and Food, it would put him in a precarious position, on the one hand, to expect the co-operation of the processors and retailers to promote Ontario produce and, on the other hand, to investigate the very same people in their trading practices.
I only hope that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will give every consideration to the producer problem in his investigations of complaints which are brought to his attention about any matter pertaining to food.
In his announcement at the ploughing match, the minister indicated that he was going to streamline the farm products marketing area by amalgamating the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Milk Commission of Ontario. He has done this in the bill by having the functions of both bodies administered by the same staff, although I trust they will still retain their individual identities for purposes of dealing with milk and cream, on the one hand, and all other farm produce on the other.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the minister’s announcement was the establishment of a separate tribunal to administer the appeals provisions presently contained in both the Milk Act and the Farm Products Marketing Act. This finally brings to an end the present situation where the two bodies regulate their respective commodity boards and also form courts of appeal.
This has been long overdue. It is unfortunate that the appeal tribunal was not in place to resolve the recent dissident egg producer dispute with the board, not that it might have made any difference, but I think the egg producers might have felt they had a more favourable hearing.
The final change the minister announced was the amalgamation of the milk industry branch and the farm products inspection branch into a quality control branch which will be transferred to the marketing division of the ministry. I understand this will be done by regulation and that a director of the new branch will be appointed by the minister in due course.
The change, of which we were not informed at the time but which appears in this bill, is the newly constructed board called the Agricultural Licensing and Registration Review Board. This board will replace boards which currently operate under 13 separate pieces of legislation. I think this was also a wise move on the part of the minister.
After the many discussions that we in the Liberal Party have had with people engaged in the agricultural industry, I’m pleased to say we favour the changes and we would like to compliment the minister’s initiatives.
We favour the changes because they are a step toward strengthening the position of Ontario’s agriculture in general and of the province’s marketing boards in particular. The benefits could be widespread for, as the minister is well aware, Ontario farmers produce a third of Canada’s agricultural products and farming is one of the backbones of Ontario’s economy.
Speaking of marketing boards, I regret that the minister would even insinuate in a speech that he gave to the dairy council --
Mr. Mancini: Shame on him.
Mr. Riddell: -- that the national supply management system as it pertains to milk might have to be brought under question.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You don’t even know what he said.
Mr. Mancini: We know what he said.
Mr. Riddell: This tends to put our whole marketing system in disrepute. If the minister persists in his allegations that the dairy industry is in a crisis situation, then he may well become the author of the marketing board’s demise.
Surely, this is not the minister’s intention, considering that his predecessors worked so hard in support of marketing boards.
I would like to draw the minister’s attention to a speech which the federal Minister of Agriculture made to the Central Ontario Cheesemakers Association convention.
Mr. Mancini: There is somebody who stands up for farmers.
Mr. Riddell: He indicated that it was high time some people, and I am sure he had the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food on his mind when he said it: “it is high time that some people got some facts straight about the dairy industry in Canada, in Ontario.”
Mr. Turner: You are right.
Mr. Riddell: And I would recommend his reading the federal minister’s speech tonight when he goes back to his apartment.
Mr. Mancini: That’s recommended reading, Bill.
Mr. J. Reed: A little bedtime reading, Bill.
Mr. Riddell: Perhaps some of the information submitted to the minister by the OFA and Ontario marketing boards bears repeating, and I intend to do just that in the hope and trust that the minister will listen, absorb and react.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on the importance of agriculture to the province, other than to say that the value added by Ontario farmers, which is the difference between the value of goods sold by producers and their import costs, exceeds that of the mining, auto and steel industries. Needless to say also, agriculture employs over 120,000 people, and thus ranks as the largest primary industry in the province.
I have spoken to the minister before about the importance we should be placing on the agricultural industry. Yet when we take a look at the amount of money spent out of the total provincial budget on agriculture, it really makes one wonder whether we really do place much emphasis on the primary industry in this province.
Central to the success of Ontario’s agriculture is the role played by the marketing boards. Since they first appeared in 1937 the marketing boards have done much to help assure that the farmer receives a reasonable return for his labour and investment, a necessary prerequisite for any healthy industry.
However, as a study of farm incomes will show, incomes and returns on investments still remain a problem in many commodities. Nor have the benefits of the marketing board system been confined to the farming community. The province’s consumers have benefited from a high quality supply of farm produce at reasonable prices. I can’t overemphasize that, and I wish we could get out into the urban centres of Ontario and preach that very thing, that marketing boards have guaranteed a supply at reasonable prices to the consumer.
It is interesting to note that most of the large increases in food costs in the last year have come in either the non-regulated or imported products. Further, products produced under supply management have shown year-to-year increases well below the general inflation rate. The economy, of course, has benefited because of the additional money the marketing boards have brought into rural Ontario.
The OFA and the marketing boards see the proposed changes in the OMAF as a positive step because they begin to tackle one of the biggest problems facing Ontario farmers and that is markets. Since the Second World War Ontario producers have filled less and less of the province’s food needs. Some of this admittedly is because affluence and changing consumer preferences have led to a greater consumption of products which can’t be produced in the province. But many of these imports are products that could be produced here at a competitive price.
We believe that imports are a major problem for the province’s economy and its agriculture. As the minister pointed out in a recent speech, imports of processed fruits and vegetables that could be produced here have cost Ontario’s economy 7,000 jobs in the food and agricultural industry. When other farm sectors are taken into account as well as the spinoff jobs they would generate, Ontario’s dependence upon unnecessary food imports is costing tens of thousands of jobs.
As a result, we believe the displacement of imported products by Ontario-grown produce should be a high priority with this government. It would not only provide a stimulus for the farm sector but for the province’s economy as a whole. For this reason we support the changes proposed by the minister, as we see in them a greater emphasis on promotion and marketing of Ontario farm produce.
Although marketing in itself is not the whole answer to meeting all of Ontario’s needs, and we must bear in mind a realistic tariff structure is also necessary, it is a step in the right direction and can yield some immediate positive results. This has been amply demonstrated by the successes of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Foodland Ontario program and by the increased emphasis this ministry has placed on exports.
It should also be noted the marketing boards, themselves have done much to develop markets for their products. All of the boards have become much more aggressive in their efforts with demonstrable results.
Mr. Speaker: I want to remind the honourable member this bill is not designed to eliminate any review boards or commissions.
Mr. MacDonald: Yes it is.
Mr. Riddell: Oh yes.
Mr. Mancini: That’s for him to decide, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. MacDonald: Yes, it does, 13 of them.
Mr. Nixon: With respect.
Mr. Mancini: We can tell you’re not a farmer, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Riddell: It eliminates 13 commissions, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. MacDonald: None of them up in northern Ontario.
Mr. Conway: And possibly the minister.
Mr. J. Reed: Bailed out again by the Liberals. Bailed out again.
Mr. Riddell: You’ve distracted my trend of thought, Mr. Speaker. All of the boards have become much more aggressive in their efforts, with demonstrable results. Some have actually won awards for their campaigns.
I realize we all want to get out of here by Friday, but I’m going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, there is so little debate in this House in connection with agricultural matters that I think we’ve got to place some emphasis on agriculture and get our message out to those people in the urban areas.
Mr. Mancini: Because there’s a weak minister. There should be more debate in the Legislature. With a strong minister there would be more debate.
Mr. Conway: Bring back Bill Stewart.
Mr. Mancini: We’ve got a weak minister so there’s no debate.
Mr. Nixon: Let it be noted that only the Minister of Education applauded over there.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m a farmer at heart.
Mr. Riddell: Although the minister is to be congratulated for the success of his programs and for the improvements he is proposing for the ministry, we must remind him this is only a first step. Agriculture is nearly a $3 billion industry and surely no other industry of this size spends less on market development.
Hon. W. Newman: We’re spending $4.5 million.
Mr. Riddell: The marketing boards and the commodity associations are committed to market development, but their resources are limited. The government of Ontario, therefore, should give serious consideration to a large increase in the funds available for increasing the sale of Ontario agricultural products both here and abroad. We are living in a period of restraint when governments must look carefully at all their expenses. However, we are sure the minister would agree it is shortsighted to limit programs if they have the promise of immediate returns which would benefit the whole province. In light of OMAF’s success with its existing programs, we would therefore urge the minister to press his cabinet colleagues for an increase in the funds available for promotion with the objective of a minimum amount of $10 million a year by 1982.
In connection with the major parts of the bill, we support the minister amalgamating the staffs of the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Milk Commission of Ontario. We are, however, concerned that the work load for this group is already too great. That was a point the Ontario Federation of Agriculture stressed when it met with the minister and, of course, they were supported by, I believe, all the marketing boards with the exception of one.
Hon. W. Newman: About four.
Mr. Riddell: Oh, I think the minister will find all the marketing boards signed that little submission they made to you.
Mr. MacDonald: Their names are at the bottom anyway.
Mr. Riddell: Yes. Our support, therefore, is conditional upon the minister giving us his assurance that services will be maintained and improved.
We support the establishment of an appeals tribunal, probably the most important part of this bill, on the understanding the Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission be maintained with all their present powers and functions, including licensing and investigative functions under section 4(1) of the Farm Products Marketing Act and of the commission under section 26 of the Milk Act.
We strongly believe the tribunal should be composed primarily of producers. We recommend, therefore, that a body of seven to 10 be created, two-thirds of whom will be producers. The balance should be made up of civil servants and people chosen to represent the business community and the public at large. I believe the Ontario Federation of Agriculture also indicated that the minister should perhaps keep a couple of the civil servants who have been working on the Farm Products Marketing Board so as to ensure that there is some continuity in the Farm Products Appeal Board.
“In order to preserve continuity, we strongly recommend that the appointed people of the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Milk Commission of Ontario be urged to become members of this tribunal. We cannot agree with having members of the public or the business sector chosen because they represent specific organizations, nor can we agree with having lawyers on this tribunal.”
My colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and I have something about lawyers.
Hon. W. Newman: He didn’t hear that; tell him again.
Mr. Nixon: Let’s go over that one more time.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is a buzz word with him.
Mr. Riddell: He questions their ability to be able to charge, and I question their ability in other ways.
“We also recommend that, when a panel is chosen to hear a specific appeal, the majority of that panel be producers. We recommend that the appeals be kept as informal as possible. We believe that the appeal tribunal should be responsible to the minister and that the minister should have the right to review the decisions and change them where necessary.”
The minister doesn’t particularly want this right, as I understand it. He would just as soon not have that authority. But I think it is important that the minister does have a final say in some of these matters, and I would hope that he would see it in the same light.
“We recommend that appeals from a marketing board or a local board should go to the board first and only to the tribunal if they cannot be resolved by the board.
“We would like to commend the minister for the establishment of the market development branch, as we believe this streamlining will yield some major increases in efficiency. However, as was pointed out previously, successful as the present programs have been, they are far from adequate for an industry the size of agriculture.
“We would therefore recommend that the market development budget be increased to $10 million a year by 1982.” This is an OFA recommendation, I suppose, along with all the other commodity boards and commissions.
“We recommend that the minister begin a series of studies to see how the specific needs of a given commodity can more completely be met.
“We recommend that there be an increase in the staff and the services provided.
“We support the minister in transferring the responsibility for investigating trade practices to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
“We understand, however, that all matters concerning a producer and his board will continue to remain under OMAF. We would also recommend that OMAF assign one individual to handle complaints from producers. This person should have a high profile in the farm community. His or her responsibility should include following up complaints, initiating complaints when necessary, and liaison with Consumer and Commercial relations.
Mr. Conway: Sounds like a good job for Donald MacDonald.
Mr. Riddell: “In connection with combining the farm products inspection branch and the milk industry branch into a single quality control branch, we support this move as well, although we do so in the belief that the minister will ensure there is no decline in quality of services.
“We would also recommend that the ministry consult with the marketing boards concerned before completing the amalgamation.”
Those are my comments and the comments of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the commodity boards and commissions. I say, let’s move ahead and get this bill passed so that the marketing boards can get on with the job in the new year.
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South.
Mr. Conway: All he needs is “honourable” before his name.
Mr. Nixon: What a great Minister of Agriculture and Food he will make.
Mr. Mancini: We have had a weak minister for too long.
Mr. MacDonald: At least I used to be a sodbuster, if I’m not one now.
Hon. W. Newman: You’re a good asphalt-buster anyway, Donald.
Mr. MacDonald: This is something of an omnibus bill. It includes two portions, the first one of which is the elimination of 13 agencies and the replacing of those 13 agencies with new ones, and the second one of which is the reorganization of the ministry. Just to put the minister at ease, I want to assure him that on both accounts we shall support him on second reading of the bill.
Mr. Makarchuk: For the first time. Don’t let it go to your head.
Mr. MacDonald: However, there are a few comments I would like to make. Rarely does this government do anything that isn’t worthy of at least some comment, and I shall proceed to them.
Mr. Conway: Another socialist caveat.
Mr. MacDonald: The 13 agencies represent a wide range of bodies that have dealt with small segments ranging from agricultural tile drainage, artificial insemination of livestock, dead animal disposal and meat inspection to the Riding Horse Establishment Act. The government has come to the conclusion that those 13 different agencies, each with their own little body of personnel, might be replaced by one agency to be known as the Agricultural Licensing and Registration Review Board.
I think this is commendable. The minister has indicated he has moved in this respect because of the recommendation of the agency review committee. In his introductory statement, he stated: “In accordance with the recommendations of the agency review committee, chaired by the Honourable Doug Wiseman, a significant number of small boards have been abolished to be replaced by a single licensing agency.”
Significantly, the minister made no reference at all to the body appointed by this Legislature, not within the ranks of the Tory party exclusively --
Mr. Makarchuk: Ask Eddie Goodman.
Mr. MacDonald: -- to deal with the whole question of agencies, boards and commissions, namely the procedural affairs committee. This is fascinating, because this government is wrestling with a problem which is of its own making. It has been here for 35 years. It has created big government and now it is deploring big government and it is faced with the problem of how it dismantles its own creation.
Mr. Conway: To say nothing of bad government.
Mr. MacDonald: That’s a matter of some delicacy. Working politicians and academics who have, in a detached way, studied agencies, boards and commissions, have come to the conclusion that the 5,000 or so appointees which this government makes --
Mr. Makarchuk: The Tory senate.
Mr. MacDonald: -- to the 600 or 700 agencies, boards and commissions in this province are the new extensive patronage system of the Tory government. Obviously this government has a conflict. They have to dismantle this massive government they have created but at the same time they are faced with the problem of how they handle a very significant portion of their own patronage system.
When the government moved to cope with it in its own sensitive way, handling it with the delicacy the issue merited from its point of view, it appointed a Tory committee under the chairmanship of the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Wiseman). They have been working off on their side, somewhat in conflict with, somewhat encroaching on, the responsibilities assigned to the procedural affairs committee by this Legislature.
Interestingly enough, last week when the procedural affairs committee made its first report on the question of agencies, boards and commissions, one of the government members, indeed a cabinet minister, moved an amendment. The amendment was to replace the suggestion that there should be a moratorium for a year on the appointment of agencies, boards and commissions. The amendment was to the effect that the Management Board should be asked to review the viability, the legitimate continued existence, of all these agencies, boards and commissions.
Interestingly enough, this has been the Management Board’s responsibility. They so deemed it to be their responsibility that they came down with a certain number of guidelines as far back as 1974 with regard to the activities of agencies, boards and commissions. But perhaps understandably they have an awful lot on their platter. They weren’t able to cope with the situation so they chose a Tory committee from within government ranks to do the job -- the so-called agency review committee, or sometimes popularly known as the Wiseman committee.
Interestingly enough -- I draw this to the attention of the member for Renfrew North -- last week the government moved to legitimize this non-legislative committee by an amendment from a report from a standing committee of this Legislature and unwittingly the Liberals supported the government in that move. So what they have now done is legitimize the encroachment on this area assigned to a standing committee of the Legislature -- the role that the Wiseman committee may well be continuing.
Maybe I am anticipating. The Management Board of Cabinet has been asked to do the job. The Management Board has more to do than it can handle now. It is going to hand it on to somebody else. I wonder if it will be to the group that they handed it on to originally; namely, the Wiseman committee.
So they have legitimized the Tory committee encroaching on the standing committee of this Legislature and have done so with support of the Liberal Party. It’s rather a cute move.
Mr. MacBeth: If you were on that committee you would want to be legitimized, too.
Mr. MacDonald: As a matter of fact, I understand that honourable member, the member of the committee, wants to feel that he is legitimate, because up until now he hasn’t been legitimate.
Mr. MacBeth: It’s a great feeling.
Mr. Makarchuk: Listen, John, after Schreyer we’ve been kosherized.
Mr. MacDonald: I won’t put it in any blunter language. That’s my comment on this initial part of this omnibus bill, which we support. Obviously, it is a good thing to get rid of 13 agencies, boards and commissions, even though in the process the minister had to appoint a new one to do the job of the 13. At least that is a measure of progress.
Let me move on now to the second portion of the bill; namely, the reorganization of the ministry. I was interested in the comment of the member for Huron-Middlesex when he said that he learned about the government’s intention to start to restructure and streamline the ministry when he heard that speech of the minister when he was up in Bruce county to open the ploughing match --
Hon. W. Newman: Huron county.
Mr. MacDonald: Huron county. Sorry, you’re right. The press conference to relay the plans for the ploughing match. You know, I heard about the intentions of this government to restructure the agricultural OMAY, three, four, five, six, seven years ago. As a matter of fact, it was so in need of restructuring that some years ago the former Dean Richards of OAC was called in to make a study of OMAF as to what should be done. And the government has really been marking time and contemplating the issue of what they should do in terms of that restructuring over a period of some five or six years.
It’s a long-term process, and we’re glad to know that it has finally come to fruition.
What the government has done in both instances is a rationalization and an intelligent move that should add to the effective operation of the ministry. They have established on the one hand a market development branch. And they have established on the other hand a market policy branch. Let me deal with each one of them.
The market development branch: As I have indicated, not only has there been consideration for many years of the restructuring of the ministry, but one of the common complaints that was heard for as many years as I can remember, from farm organizations with regard to this ministry -- not just comments, but criticisms -- is that that the ministry and the government were preoccupied with its interest in the farmers’ efficiency in terms of producing; adding to the efficiency of the whole production process.
The result was that they made so many blades of grass to grow where one used to grow that they had a surplus of product. And the plea to the ministry and to the government for years has been, “We appreciate your concern in terms of our efficiency and our productivity. But isn’t it about time you began to give some consideration to the problem of marketing the product which we can produce in such profusion?”
And to give credit where credit is due, the government finally reacted. Sometimes they are slow learners, but ultimately they learn. They recognized there was a need for a much greater emphasis on the marketing of farm products and in recent years this has become almost the main theme of the minister.
On the one hand, domestically we have Foodland Ontario, which is trying to persuade people to buy Ontario products: “Ontario is beautiful. Ontario produces great food. Let’s eat the food we produce here, rather than buying imported products.”
On the other hand, the minister is running around the world in conjunction with his colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) trying to promote the extension of foreign markets, the offshore selling of Ontario products. Again, good. This is the kind of emphasis which I think is bringing the role of the government into a better balance.
They haven’t ignored their contribution to farmers’ efficiency in the terms of production of food, but they are now placing at least as much emphasis -- and for the moment perhaps even more -- on the efforts to more effectively market the produce of the farms.
I move now to the market policy branch. What the government has done here is amalgamate the staffs of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Board and the Milk Commission of Ontario. They’ve brought them into the ministry. Up in -- where was it? -- Wingham where the minister spoke when he was in Huron county opening the --
Hon. W. Newman: The great international ploughing match.
Mr. MacDonald: That’s right, when he was laying plans for that great international ploughing match, he said that they were taking the staff of these two agencies and bringing them together within the ministry as the nucleus for what he now describes, or what was described even then, as the market policy branch.
I just want to reiterate a point that was made by the member for Huron-Middlesex and which was emphasized by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. They said, “We are, however, concerned that the work load for this group is already too great. Our support therefore, is conditional upon the minister giving us his assurance that services will be maintained and improved.”
I’m not going to make my support of this bill and the minister’s proposal to do this conditional. I’m just going to support it as an act of faith that he will recognize the recommendation and the urging of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. If you’re going to have an effective policy development branch, the amalgamation of that limited staff from those two agencies already overworked, is not an adequate group to be able to do the job. I hope the minister will respond.
Now I come back to a point which ties in with the earlier part of my remarks. Do the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission continue to exist as separate agencies, or are they going to be integrated as a portion of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food? I was fascinated when I had the privilege and the benefit of a visit from a delegation of key people from the OFA and various marketing boards to put the question to them. Quite frankly, they didn’t know. They said they didn’t know whether the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission were going to retain separate identities as two of these 600 to 700 agencies, boards and commissions that have proliferated, and in the view of many people cluttered the political and economic scene in the province of Ontario. Are they going to continue to exist or are they going to come back where, I suggest, maybe in theory they belong, within the ministry? The ministry is responsible for policy and these bodies shouldn’t be making policy detached from the government, they should be making policy as an integral part of the government.
I was chiding the minister for his total disregard of the procedural affairs committee, a standing committee of this Legislature, while he was responding so readily to the Wiseman committee, the agency review committee. May I remind the minister, in case he doesn’t know it, that one of the recommendations of the procedural affairs committee, in the report debated a week or so ago in this House, was recommendation 23: “The appeal and licence review functions of the milk commission be given to an independent agency” -- I’ll come to that in a moment -- “and its residual functions” -- the residual functions of the milk commission -- “be reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to determine whether the milk commission should continue in operation.”
In other words, we’ve got a sort of untidy situation. We have taken the staff of the milk commission and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Board and we have degutted them, so to speak. We have taken the staff and we have brought them back into the ministry and we’ve left two sort of bodiless organizations out there, two of the 600 to 700 agencies, boards and commissions. Are they going to remain independent agencies or are they going to become an integral part of the ministry? I put that to the minister; and I would appreciate his reply, because I suggest in the tidying up process maybe they should become part of the ministry.
Another of the elements in the restructuring and the reform of the ministry is that the government is going to establish a farm products appeal tribunal. This is not only commendable, it is painfully long overdue. If there ever was an anomalous, indeed if not an invidious, situation, it was one in which bodies like the milk commission were sitting in appeal on decisions which they had originally made -- such a basic violation of British justice and the McRuer recommendations and everything else you might want to consider in this field.
The establishment of this appeal tribunal is a long overdue and very welcome move. However, as the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) has pointed out, the OFA’s concern is that the people on this appeal tribunal shouldn’t be a group of people who come fresh into the game. They should be people who are, rather, thoroughly familiar with it. Therefore, they have urged that the farm representatives on the existing agencies, the Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission, should be transferred into and become the personnel for the farm products appeal tribunal. That raises the question, once again, as to what you’re going to do with the remnants that are left of the Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission. You’ve taken their body, their staff and you brought them into the ministry. If you respond to the recommendation of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, you’ll take some of their top personnel and put them on your appeal tribunal. What will you have left?
I think it is time for the minister to indicate clearly what the status of these bodies is going to be instead of leaving it fuzzy and untidy.
My final comment with regard to the restructuring in the ministry is with regard to the very welcome move of this government in eliminating the Ontario Food Council. I suppose nobody has spent more time raising questions with regard to the role and validity of the continued existence of the food council than I have, for year after year after year.
It’s now going to pass out of existence, but I don’t know what that really means. I now discover that, already, within the ministry they have what they call the food council branch; one has the impression that they’ve moved the food council branch within the ministry.
Hon. W. Newman: Oh, where?
Mr. MacDonald: It’s in all your literature; most of the jobs, the monitoring of the food basket and this deluge of recipes as to how I should cook my Christmas turkey and what Ontario vegetables I should use and so on, this is going to be produced by somebody. I recall distinctly reading in various places that the food council branch is now a part of the ministry. In effect, it’s escaped something of its independent status as an agency and is being brought back into the ministry.
I think it’s about time the minister clarified to what extent the food council as it existed -- most people thought it was an independent agency -- to what extent it is going to be brought back into the ministry and its personnel and its functions, apart from the monitoring of trade practices, are going to be continued within the ministry.
However, the most important thing, and I’m glad to see that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) is here, is that the functions of the food council in monitoring the trade practices of the food industry are now going to be transferred, even though in a somewhat unwelcomed and unheralded fashion --
Mr. Riddell: Much to his chagrin.
Mr. MacDonald: -- to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Hon. Mr. Drea: That’s not true.
Mr. MacDonald: The explanation of the Minister of Agriculture and Food is that they assumed these responsibilities back in 1963 under the aegis of the food council, before the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations was established at all. Now that the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has been established and has got its feet planted firmly on the ground and knows how to go about its job of monitoring trade practices in the business world generally, the Minister of Agriculture and Food argues it would be logical that the monitoring of the food industry should go over to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
There’s an element of logic in that. It’s rather difficult to separate the food industry from other aspects of the business world because they’re very much integrated.
However, I have a concern or so. It has already been revealed, as we try to figure out exactly how the new minister is going to deal with these new responsibilities, that he has stressed rather firmly that his responsibilities are restricted to the retail field; I distinctly heard the minister say that the other day.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Where? Name the time and place. You are wrong.
Mr. MacDonald: If I am wrong I welcome his assurances, immediately, that it will go beyond the retail field; and I’ll tell you the reason, Mr. Speaker. The food industry is the most integrated industry in this province. At the top, if you will, as the public sees it, you have your five giants in the retail field; but if you take the two major giants, Dominion and Loblaws, they’re part of a corporate conglomerate. They are part of the Weston empire, they are part of the Argus empire; and Weston and Argus own not only the retail outlets, they own the wholesale outlets, they own many of the processing outlets, they own many of the transportation companies that haul the product from the farm gate into the whole process.
Mr. Makarchuk: And all the Tory party as well.
Mr. MacDonald: They own Domtar which produces the packages, they own CFRB which does the advertising of Dominion Stores. It is a wonderful family arrangement.
Mr. McClellan: It is all so convenient.
Mr. MacDonald: It’s a wonderful family arrangement.
One of the problems we have in the food industry, Mr. Speaker, is that the thousands of middlemen between the farm gate and the supermarket check-out counter is a mirage, it’s an illusion. There may be thousands of middlemen, but they’re increasingly being gathered into four or five little empires; each one of those middlemen are taking their bite out of the consumer dollar but it’s ending up in very few corporate pockets.
So if the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is going to protect the interests of the consumer he’s got to go back beyond the retail field, because it will be the easiest thing in the world for the retail field to siphon off profits back into a corporate satellite or to a corporate member of the conglomerate family which is owned by the same Argus or the same Weston.
The minister interjected in his inimitable way and said I was wrong, that he’s not restricted to the retail field. If I’m wrong, may I say to him that I welcome his assurance that he’s going to extend his concern back beyond the retail field, because if he doesn’t he’s not going to be able to do his job on behalf of the consumers of this province.
Hon. Mr. Drea: That’s right.
Mr. Riddell: Right, don’t forget the producers.
Mr. MacDonald: And the producers, of course; I have argued for years, and my argument is a little out of kilter with the arguments of the Liberal Party.
Mr. McClellan: Thank God.
Mr. MacDonald: The Liberal Party is arguing that the percentage of the budget in this province and in this country that is spent on food is so small we don’t really need to worry about food prices. My argument is that the concentration of economic power in the food industry is such that in many instances a farmer is getting too little and the consumer is paying unnecessarily more than he needs to. That’s a rather distinct difference of opinion.
Mr. McClellan: That’s right.
Mr. Makarchuk: And the Tories let them get away with it.
Mr. MacDonald: However, let me, Mr. Speaker, in the interests of keeping this as precise and short as I can, come to my very final point.
Hon. Mr. Drea: That’s why I told you not to buy a turkey, that’s exactly the same reason.
Mr. Makarchuk: The Tories don’t care about the farmers.
Mr. MacDonald: My final concern, Mr. Speaker, is one that has been expressed by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. That is, while there is a certain rationale in switching the monitoring of trade practices in the food industry from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, to Consumer and Commercial Relations, the fact of the matter is that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations hasn’t had much experience with the food industry up until now, while the Minister of Agriculture and Food has had a great deal of concern. In that transfer is there going to be something of a slip in terms of doing the most effective job possible? That’s point one.
Second, and this is the concern already mentioned by the member for Huron-Middlesex, are any remnants of responsibility going to remain within OMAF? What is the minister’s response to the suggestion of the OFA that you should have at least one person in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food who will be there as ombudsman for the producers of food, who will respond to the complaints of the producers of food and who will then get in touch with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, with all of his staff, investigative and otherwise, to make certain you track down trade practices that affect the producer at one end, who still remains within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, and right through the whole food industry to the consumer at the other end.
I would appreciate the minister indicating what response he makes to that rather persistent plea that has been made by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture ever since he announced back in the first week of September what he is planning to do. I reiterate as I sit down that while there is criticism of certain things the government has done, I think the general thrust of this bill, in both of the major components of its omnibus nature, is worthy of support, and we shall support it on second reading.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Bill 194. I am not going to go over the various points that have been gone over by the member for Huron-Middlesex. I want to say in a general way I think most of these moves are to the benefit of Ontario agriculture.
While we are at the requiem of the Ontario Food Council, I would like to pause to say one or two good words about it from personal experience. I was involved in activities of the council a number of years ago as the president of the Cedar Springs Cherry Growers Co-operative. We were very new in the production and processing of red tart cherries, and in our enthusiasm we got into the export market. I guess we had more enthusiasm than expertise. We found ourselves at the final moment of shipping a very large quantity of cherries to England with what they call an irrevocable letter of credit. If you met all the requirements of the deal, and came to the bank with an on-board bill of lading, plus the inspection certificates, the bank would give you the money.
We had been relying to some extent upon the federal inspection people to do some of our quality control work. We failed to realize they had not been carrying out one of the tests until two or three days before we were to ship this quantity of cherries. We had already paid the shipping costs, and we were faced at the very last moment with the fact we did not have one of the required documents. Therefore we had to ship the cherries without collecting the money, trusting that the receivers on the other end would pay it.
The product was one that could not be sold in Canada, so the sales manager and myself had about three hours to make a decision on whether or not to ship. We shipped them to England, and at that point we came under Henry Pauls who was then the representative in England of the food council. We found ourselves in a very difficult position, because we were strictly at the mercy of the people in England. Our first thought was to rush over there and try to make a deal. But we followed the advice given by Henry Pauls who said: “Don’t come over here. You are babes in the wood as far as these traders in England are concerned. They will really take you to town. Leave the situation with us because we know the people.”
We followed their advice. The happy ending of the story was that we came out of this deal, which involved a very large sum of money, losing just a few hundred dollars. I would like at this point to point out that it was Henry Pauls and the food council people who saved us from our inexperience and our over-enthusiasm in getting into that market. We have since, of course, taken care of the problems that caused this matter to arise.
I would like to say at this opportunity, when we’re talking about the whole matter of the Farm Products Marketing Act and these changes to it, that over the years since 1937 when it was passed and tested in the higher courts, it has been the salvation of the Ontario farmer and the Ontario food industry, with great benefits to both producers and consumers. We think it’s probably some of the best legislation in the world on the matter of food.
I have been to many conferences in the United States and have heard producers stand up, under conditions of market surplus and so on, and start talking about doing some of the things on a voluntary scale that we do here in Ontario under the Farm Products Marketing Act. They wouldn’t go too far before some wise person in the group would remind them that they could go to jail for even talking about doing some of those things, because they have acts in the United States that prohibit the benefits we enjoy here under the Farm Products Marketing Act.
It’s in this context that I really feel disappointed, and must voice my concern to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, for the criticisms he has had concerning the dairy industry. I refer to the criticisms he mentioned in his speech at the ploughing match. We know it’s fair game to take a shot at the federal government; I can’t criticize him particularly for that, it’s a policy his government has followed for many, many years with great success.
Mr. Conway: Wait until they get the High River flash in 24 Sussex Drive.
Mr. McGuigan: In the political game we have to recognize that’s the way things are done. I just want to bring to his heart and to his conscience, the fact that I really feel he’s jeopardizing the very existence of this great legislation we have in Ontario. If the Minister of Agriculture and Food raises doubts as to how good a system we have in Canada in our national and provincial marketing through which we try to match the demand and the supply, if he raises these doubts in the minds of the consumers, I would suggest to him in all sincerity that he is possibly jeopardizing this whole business.
I would refer him to some of the material from the Ontario Milk Marketing Board. There is a release of August 10 which I would just like to read into the record. They say claims are being made about the marketing system along the following lines:
“1. Due to restrictions on the market sharing quota allotment to Ontario milk producers under the Canadian milk supply and management program, there is a shortage of milk supplies in the province. Consequently, Ontario dairy manufacturers are unable to exploit opportunities in either the domestic or export markets.
“2. Cheddar cheese factories are unable to supply the markets for their products that they have carefully developed over long years. There is a shortage of cheddar cheese in Canada.
“3. Many Ontario cheese plants are operating at far below capacity, and some by as much as 50 per cent below. Some plants are facing the prospect of having to close for good due to lack of milk supplies.
“4. As demand for milk increases in the quota-free classes, especially for specialty cheese classes, 4(a) and 4(b), not only do operators of class 5 and 5(a) plants face the prospect of reduced supplies on an annual basis, but they can expect to receive less and less of their entitlement in the winter months, thus making their operations very uneconomic. This is so because the demand for milk for the quota-free classes tends to be fairly even year round and winter supplies of milk for the manufacturing market are at seasonably low levels.
“5. Milk is being purchased by Ontario manufacturers from the neighbouring province of Quebec at premium prices. This is milk which should be produced in Ontario with the benefits going to the Ontario producers.
“6. Projected milk volumes for class 5 and 5(a) plants in Ontario for the 1978-79 plant supply quota year, May 1, 1978 to April 30, 1979, indicate a drop of 11 per cent, which has serious economic implications for them.
“7. The board is deliberately trying to create a shortage of industrial milk in order to increase the price.
“8. The board is considering closing cheese factories in Ontario and bringing in cheese from Quebec.”
I would like to read their comments -- this is from the Ontario Milk Marketing Board: “Claim 1: Due to restrictions on the market-sharing quota allotment to Ontario milk producers under the Canadian milk supply and management program, there is a shortage of milk supply in the province. Consequently, Ontario dairy manufacturers are unable to exploit opportunities in either the domestic or export market.
“Before commenting on this claim, the board would like to assess what has actually happened to utilization patterns for the industrial milk classes over the last five-year period. Why has the board picked the 1973-1977 period to indicate what has been happening as against the selected one that dates back to the beginning of the Canadian milk supply management program, or a year or two earlier? We raise this question because the year 1973-1974 was one of relatively short supply.
“1. The original signatories to the national plan were the representatives of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.”
I would like to dwell on this This is a program that the Ontario government voluntarily joined. It is a program that is supported by the federal government by many millions of dollars, a figure between $4 million and $5 million. I wonder if one asked the milk producers of Ontario whether or not they wished to continue the participation in such a program, if they would say yes or if they would say no.
To continue quoting from the Ontario Milk Marketing Board:
“It took several years before all nine provinces with milk industries became parties to it.
“2. 1973 was the year that the United Kingdom joined the European economic community with disastrous effects on Canada’s traditional cheddar cheese export trade to that country. Annual exports of cheddar to the UK dropped from close to 30 million pounds to zero between 1971 and 1973. Most of this cheddar trade came from Ontario production and it has only been possible to regain a very small fraction of it. Consequently, picking a period starting in 1973 more accurately reflects the true demand characteristics of the domestic market than would otherwise be the case.
“3. Comparative milk utilization data wasn’t available prior to 1972 since a separate class for cheddar cheese was not established until late in 1971.
“Table 1, which follows, provides actual milk utilization in each of the industrial milk classes for the years 1973 to 1977 inclusive. For ease of analysis, it is divided between the quota-free and plant supply quota classes. Here are the highlights the table shows.
“1. The board marketed more milk for industrial products manufactured purposes in 1977 than it did in 1973, 1974 and 1976. The increases were 9.2, 10.5 and 2.5 per cent respectively. Only in 1975, the year in which the Canadian milk producers including Ontario producers, oversupplied the market substantially were marketings for industrial purposes greater than they were last year.
“2. Milk supplies to the quota classes 5 and 5(a) were slightly higher in 1977 than they were in 1973 and 1974. Once again, the only big difference occurred in 1975 when the milk surpluses to Canadian requirements were produced.
“3. It is significant that within the plant supply quota classes, the cheddar cheese class, that is, class 5(a), commanded increasing amounts of residual milk supplies each year over the five-year period so that by 1977 there was 23.8 per cent more milk used in cheddar cheese production than there was in 1973. Even for the class 5 plants, which manufacture butter and skim milk powder as well as concentrated whole milk products, products the demand for which is falling on a per capita basis, supplies of milk held up rather well, being only three per cent lower in 1977 than they were in 1973. “Insofar as the quota free classes are concerned, the only major increase in utilization that has taken place over the five year period, occurred in 1977 primarily in the specialty cheese classes as 4(a) and 4(b).”
There is a good deal more that I could read, Mr. Speaker, but I only wanted to bring to your attention the fact the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, I think, does not quite agree with the minister’s contentions. I raise this question, not because I am a dairyman, I am not, as you well know; but I listened for a matter of some three and a half years to the concerns of dairymen while I was an executive member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and gained some insight into the problems of those people, admitting it’s very involved. I certainly couldn’t answer all of the questions concerning the five classes of milk they handle however I am very very much concerned that some of the statements the minister makes, simply encourage and give encouragement to groups of people who would destroy the system of marketing we have in this great province of Ontario; which would destroy the producers and eventually would work to the detriment of the consumers. I hope the minister will take these criticisms to heart and really ask his conscience whether or not he is properly serving agriculture when he makes some of these statements he recently made.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is there any other honourable member wishing to participate in the debate? If not, the honourable minister.
Mr. Conway: The farmer from Scarborough.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am not a farmer from Scarborough, but I want to correct a couple of remarks that were made tonight. It was remarked that on the reorganization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and me in particular, had assumed the monitoring of food prices on a rather total basis, both from the level of the producer to the wholesaler to the retailer, covering all of the factors that affect the retail, and that we have taken this on reluctantly. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you I never take anything on reluctantly. I have taken this on as enthusiastically as I did the demise of certain parts of the transmission industry, and perhaps the same thing may happen in certain elements of the retail industry.
Mr. Conway: You are just another empire builder, Frank.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is there any other honourable member wishing to participate in this debate? If not, the honourable minister.
Mr. McClellan: It may very well demise naturally.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the two opposition agricultural critics. I would just like to make a few very brief comments about some of the questions that were brought up.
First, I would like to point out when I announced the reorganization of the ministry in September, I took it upon myself at that point in time to have lengthy discussions with the various marketing board organizations and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. I feel consultations are a very important aspect of agriculture, when we are all in it together in the agricultural field. After much deliberation and discussion, we really came to the conclusion that outside of the amalgamation of the 13 licensing review boards into a single board the approach we are taking in this legislation was the appropriate approach.
I want to thank that committee of commodity boards and the federation of agricultural people who worked very closely with me in discussing the reorganization after I had announced the basic principles of it. There was a lot of consultation involved, and as the member for Huron-Middlesex pointed out there was some delay in introducing this particular bill into the House because of that, as I wanted to get the input before I introduced the bill.
There is one thing I want to make very clear tonight about the marketing board concept in the province of Ontario. We have more marketing boards than any other province. We have good marketing legislation. I have supported marketing boards from day one, and will continue to support our marketing boards in the great job they are doing on behalf of the agricultural community and on behalf of the consumer in this province. Many of our boards do have great effect on establishing fairly stable prices, so consumers do benefit from our marketing boards. I think one of the things the Liberal critic asked about was the market development branch. We would like to get it into place and will get it into place.
There was one aspect brought up by both opposition critics tonight. Judge Ross, according to my understanding, will be starting his hearings in January into discounting and other things we discussed last June. Some might say, “Why go ahead now with this legislation?” I think when the report of Judge Ross comes down, whenever that is, we will certainly be looking forward to seeing it at that point.
The Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission will still operate, although the appeal function will be taken away from them. There are still discussions going on with the committee but don’t get me wrong, I think policy matters do belong with the ministry, that it does belong with the government to decide policy matters; but by the same token the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Ontario milk commission will have a single chairman now and staff members will be working together. Whether there will be outsiders on that or not I am not prepared to say at this time, that is an internal matter which will call for more deliberation with the committee I was working with.
I realize the ultimate decisions for any policy matters in any ministry of the government do stay with the minister and they are his responsibility. On the appeal tribunal, and I am sorry the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) is not here, it was made very clear to me by members speaking tonight and others that it should be set up in such a way that mainly producers will be on it. It is thoroughly my intention to see that happens. I want to make it as easy as possible for producers in this province to go to their board, present their case, and if there is an appeal to go to the appeal tribunal. I want to make it very straightforward and very practical for them to do just that, without having to go through long, involved legal complications, as we sometimes find in some appeal tribunals.
I realize the type of people who were on the board as they were set up before were excellent people. I am sure many of those who were on the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Ontario milk commission would be interested in serving on the appeal tribunal. I have asked them all to give me their opinion as to whether they would like to or not. So we will have some continuity in that area. I think both members mentioned that one.
Somebody mentioned the farm products inspection branch and the milk industry branch being put together as a quality control branch. That is an internal thing within the ministry that is not being legislated here, but I can assure members this is for efficient use of the staff we now have.
One thing that did concern me to some degree was brought up by both opposition critics, and I think it is very important. They mentioned a speech I made to the Ontario Dairy Council annual convention at the Royal York Hotel on Wednesday, November 15. I would like to make my position very clear on that speech --
Mr. Conway: Please do.
Hon. W. Newman: -- and outline exactly how I feel about the matter. I never at any time criticized the Ontario Milk Marketing Board. I think we have a very excellent board. I have had deliberations with them on an ongoing basis for months. As a matter of fact, I met with the chairman and others just this past week to try to resolve some of our problems.
What I am trying to say is that in this country, on the matter of national supply management of milk, a situation which has been corrected in eggs and other areas, it seems very foolish to me to have us building surpluses of powder which is being bought by the Canadian Dairy Commission to be sold on the world market. World prices are much lower prices. It is hard for me to understand how they can do that when that milk could be better utilized in those provinces that can use that milk to produce the products we need in those provinces and in this country.
It makes it very difficult for me to explain to the dairy farmers in this province, if we have applications for eight specialty cheese plants in this province, that we have to say to them, “I’m sorry, we cannot guarantee you a supply of milk;” when we see the farmers paying for that surplus removal in the form of the powder. I think there should be an adjustment in the national supply management program.
I believe in supply management, but I think the program that came in here in the province in 1970 should be overhauled, and I’m sure it will be. The national supply management committee is working on that now. We don’t want to take away other provinces’ markets, but we do want to make sure that the milk supply that’s there is properly utilized in this country. I think from the producers’ point of view in this province, those willing to produce that milk; I think from the consumers’ point of view, those willing to buy that product, and from the farmers’ point of view of having to remove surplus commodities, the plan should be looked at with the idea of re-allocating certain milk supplies.
In no way in that speech -- and I say this to both the members -- did I in any way impinge anything onto the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, because they have a very difficult job to do with the total allocation that has come from the Canadian Dairy Commission through the national supply management committee.
I think something the member for Huron-Middlesex mentioned tonight is very important. Too often we forget how important agriculture is in this country. One job in every five is directly related to the agriculture industry in this country. I think we sometimes forget how important that is.
I do appreciate the member’s kind remarks about more money in my budget, I’d always welcome that.
Mr. Makarchuk: Not personally speaking.
Hon. W. Newman: The Farm Products Marketing Board and the Ontario milk commission --
Mr. Makarchuk: Sit down while you’re ahead.
Mr. Foulds: Are you going to fight for yourself in cabinet?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m quite capable of looking after myself. I often wonder what the member’s poor constituents think about him at times.
Mr. Warner: They’re happy to have him.
Mr. Foulds: If you don’t get it the first time, you don’t get it at all, Bill.
Hon. W. Newman: In the fullness of time we’ll take care of that too.
Getting back to the point, the Farm Products Marketing Board and milk commission --
Mr. Foulds: Back to the principle of the bill.
Hon. W. Newman: -- as far as their services are concerned, they certainly will be maintained and probably strengthened in that area. As far as the appeal tribunal is concerned, yes, we would hope that about two-thirds of them would be producers. When there is a panel sitting we would hope the chairman, who would probably be a civil servant who’s experienced, will make sure that particular panel is properly set up so that they can deal with that particular appeal and people will be familiar with that particular commodity.
The minister has the right to deal with appeals, to review them, and of course has to give notice within 30 days if he needs an extension. I think that is my responsibility, and I accept it as the minister in that field. I think that is a very important aspect of the bill; but I hope I don’t have to use it, I have a lot of confidence that the appeal tribunal would be able to take care of it.
The market development branch; yes, we do have a budget there. Maybe it’s not as much as members would like to see, though I think they must admit with the amount of money we’ve had in the Ontario foodland promotion program we’ve been running for one year, and the manner in which sales have increased, how the consumers are reacting to buying Ontario products they want to buy Ontario products, because the quality is there and the price is right as far as they’re concerned; and they are buying those products.
Mr. Warner: They don’t want to buy turkeys; Frank says not to buy the turkeys.
Hon. W. Newman: As far as the export development program is concerned, I’ll just make one figure available; in 1977 over 1976, before the devalued dollar really got high, our exports of agricultural products out of this province increased by $144 million. That doesn’t just happen, you’ve got to work at it.
The critic for the NDP talked about the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Wiseman) and his ABC committee. I can assure members that after a great deal of discussion and deliberation with him, we are amalgamating the 13 boards into one, and we’re amalgamating two appeal procedures into one. If we didn’t have a moratorium on the procedural affairs 12-month thing we wouldn’t be able to pass this bill tonight, the member realizes that, I hope.
Mr. Van Horne: We never will if you don’t sit down.
Mr. Warner: Filibuster.
Mr. Makarchuk: You’re filibustering your own bill.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Sit down before you change your mind.
Hon. W. Newman: I was just trying to answer some of the questions that have arisen here tonight.
I want to point out to the NDP agriculture critic that the Farm Products Marketing Board and the milk commission will have common staff but remain separate entities for now, I want to make that clear to him.
Although some members are glad to see the demise of the Ontario Food Council because it perhaps outlived its usefulness because of certain legislation that has been passed, I think the Ontario Food Council people deserve a lot of credit for the great job they’ve done.
Mr. Makarchuk: For what?
Mr. McClellan: For drawing their salary; they also serve who only draw their salary.
Hon. W. Newman: The member also mentioned the national dairy policy. With that I want to thank both sides for supporting a good bill and supporting agriculture in general. I really do appreciate it.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO SCHOOL TRUSTEES’ COUNCIL ACT
Hon. Miss Stephenson moved second reading of Bill 193, An Act to revise the Ontario School Trustees’ Council Act.
Mr. Van Horne: First of all, there is no opposition from our party on this bill. If anything is evident from time to time in this House, and from the public perception, it is that we are overgoverned. It is perhaps a sad comment to note that some people out there, in this instance the trustees, feel they have to find some kind of protection through legislation.
During the past couple of weeks I have spoken to the trustees in and around the London area -- that is from the London public board, London-Middlesex separate board and the Middlesex county board; they all feel this bill does something for them in that it permits the admission of other associations to be provided for under bylaw. It guarantees equal representation of associations on the council and on the executive; and it does certain things to clarify procedures.
But generally, I would have to submit that those rights or those things they seem to be seeking in this piece of legislation are already there. I will not say very much more except that perhaps it’s a reflection on where we are and what we are doing that from time to time we have to have a piece of legislation like this brought to us by such a group as the Ontario School Trustees’ Council who don’t feel they are protected. I think they are, although I go along with this bill and will not speak against it. I just feel it’s too bad we have to bring more legislation on line when perhaps we should be looking at ways to reduce it.
Ms. Gigantes: We, too, will support this bill, Mr. Speaker. I just have a few questions, and I wonder if the minister could respond to some points of interest in the bill.
I’d like to hear an explanation from the minister as to why we have any such legislation at all. Why is it the trustees of Ontario feel in such a shaky position that in order to establish an association of associations, in a sense they have to have a legislative framework in which to do it?
Subsection 3(ii) is a very interesting paragraph. I’ll read it out: “Where at a meeting of the councillors a councillor objects to the council’s dealing with a matter on the grounds that to do so would be detrimental to the best interests of the member association that he represents, the council may discuss the matter but shall not reach a decision or make a recommendation or take other action on the matter without the consent of the member association.”
That’s a very structured manner of proceeding in any association. It gives any member association or any representative of any member association at least temporary powers of veto over any action by the larger association. And it gives permanent power of veto over any decision or undertaking of the larger association if there is disagreement by one member of the association. I’d like to hear the minister’s explanation of why this is considered to be either necessary or beneficial, especially established in legislation.
Could the minister answer those points? I think we would be interested in hearing her explanation.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I’m grateful to the members of the opposition for their support of this piece of legislation, which is a revision of an act which is currently on the books. It is not a new act. It is a piece of legislation which the members of the Ontario School Trustees’ Council felt was necessary in order to release them from some of the unnecessary and somewhat major restrictions which were a part of the original Ontario School Trustees’ Council Act.
The members of the council have spent the last several months drafting those proposals which they felt were important, and this bill is a distillation of the drafting mechanism in which they were involved. One of the things the bill does is to remove those aspects of structure for the council which were more appropriately bylaws. They are not included within this act.
I share the concern the member for London North presented, but the council of school trustees feels it is more appropriate in the light of the legislation which controls other components of the education system within the province to be governed by an act rather than simply an incorporation under the Corporations Act. As a result of their specific concerns about this, it was agreed this act would be brought forward. The act is very much simplified.
The matter which the member for Carleton East raised, the temporary restraining capability, is spelled out in section 3, paragraph 2. I suppose it could be construed as a right to veto; but I think one has to keep in mind the membership in this council is associations of independent groups. They are not affiliated with one another except through this council.
They may from time to time have to consider items which may be totally supported by four or five representative members of the council, but which could, in fact, have severe impact upon the other members of council.
They have agreed among themselves that they will not consider those items until all members of council have had an opportunity to consult with their parent bodies. If a member association decides it cannot participate in this discussion or that it could not agree with discussing the matter, then it may withdraw from the discussion. It provides the kind of flexibility which the council feels it needs in order to look at all aspects of problem in the area of education which may arise before them.
It does provide that kind of freedom which they don’t think they would have without this specific contained section. One has to respect the opinions of those who have had long experience within the school trustees’ council, I believe, and support the point of view which they think is valid in terms of their existence and their function.
The bill is providing for the council some degree of flexibility in terms of membership which was not present in the former bill. I would be remiss if I did not say that I think this bill should be passed forthwith.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Welch moved second reading of Bill 192, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr. Conway: A four per cent bomb.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the bill is in keeping with the select committee report, the Morrow committee report.
Mr. Conway: Unconscionable generosity.
Mr. Warner: I think it is worth reminding members of the assembly as well as for the public record that in the latter section of the report, namely, page 15, it mentions that interim adjustments should be made on an annual basis as follows: “Indemnity: The basic indemnity should be adjusted upwards by a percentage equal to the lower of the percentage change in the consumer price index or the percentage change in the average weekly wage in Ontario, industrial composite. This approach has been recommended so as to ensure that the indemnity will, in fact, almost certainly gradually drop below that of the income received by the group of professions, trades and equivalents used for comparative purposes. This approach is recommended for interim adjustments only. We believe any automatic adjustment of this sort must be conservative because of the highly sensitive nature of the compensation involved.”
The bill which we have before us with respect to the back-bench members is in keeping with the report from the select committee. However, I could not find anywhere in the report -- and I would appreciate it if the government House leader could direct me to the page in the report -- anything which recommends that the gap between cabinet ministers and back-bench members be widened.
I was unable to locate that part in the report, but perhaps he could. If I understand the workings of that committee properly, the idea was that all back-bench members should be able to have salaries not greatly disproportionate to those members who are cabinet ministers. What the bill which we have before us does is to apply four per cent to the cabinet indemnity as well as to the back-bench members’ indemnity, unless I’m mistaken. Perhaps I am, in which case I would defer to the government House leader.
Mr. Foulds: The next bill does that.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Bill 191.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I would point out to the member that we are dealing now with Bill 192 only. Bill 191 deals with the executive council.
Mr. Warner: Not the companion bill? All right. Perhaps in the interests of time, since we will be dealing with the companion bill as well, the government House leader might make the appropriate remarks so that we better understand the salary gap which exists and which I understand is going to widen between the back-bench members and the cabinet.
Mr. Hennessy: Cut them.
Mr. Conway: Long live the back-benchers, eh? This is going to make the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations a millionaire.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I don’t even know what I get paid.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Welch moved second reading of Bill 191, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act.
Mr. Warner: I wonder if the government House leader would kindly explain the situation for us and whether or not we are now going to experience a wider gap between the back-bench members’ indemnity and that applied to the cabinet.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, the point I think needs to be made in this is that the four per cent is being applied to the basic cabinet post salary. The remuneration a cabinet minister gets, that is a full-fledged cabinet minister as opposed to ministers without portfolio and as opposed to parliamentary assistants who, I understand, are in this act even though they’re not in the executive council -- which is kind of interesting, to have a clause about parliamentary assistants when they’re not on the executive council and when the bill is entitled An Act to amend the Executive Council Act --
Mr. McClellan: What about the Minister of Labour’s salary?
Mr. Foulds: -- the interesting thing is that the remuneration a cabinet minister gets for his full portfolio is soon going to outstrip that of his salary as a member of the Legislative Assembly --
Mr. Van Horne: It makes Sally Rand look like a piker.
Mr. Foulds: -- if the government keeps applying the percentage increase principle. Pretty soon it will exceed that. In effect, what we should understand is happening in the Legislature tonight is that the cabinet members are getting a double increase whereas the hard-slugging, hard-working, unsung heroes like my honourable friend from Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) are only getting a one-stage increase.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: My heart bleeds.
Mr. Foulds: That is something the section in the previous act we just passed, section 11 that dealt with commission, should address itself to. However, I’m not entirely sure it can because we do not have in the present act, the Executive Council Act, a reference to the commission with regard to the salary cabinet ministers get as members of the executive council. I think those points certainly need to be clarified by the government House leader for the assembly at large, as well as for any of the public that may or may not be listening.
Mr. Bradley: Come on, Mickey, let’s hear from you.
Mr. Conway: Mickey, you’ll want to stay on the select committee gravy train.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I could address myself by way of summary to the points that have been raised.
Mr. McClellan: It can’t be merit pay.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It seems to me that the two adjustments that precede this one in this legislation were across the board and there was no change made at that time in the responsibility allowance indemnity as far as ministers of the executive council were concerned. In keeping with the spirit of the report and other comments made at that time, the honourable member will recall there was no change in the indemnity for members of the executive council for some considerable period of time.
When we discussed the adjustments as far as these two bills were concerned, it was felt there was some entitlement to treat all indemnities and all allowances across the board with this four per cent adjustment. I certainly do not intend to quote the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere as widening any gap, but I think in equity I am sure the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere would recognize there are additional responsibilities for members of the executive council and there has been no adjustment in these amounts.
I really can’t specify the number of years but certainly it is at least six years. In other words, this is the first adjustment in these indemnities for six years. I don’t think it unreasonable, after six years, to have an adjustment of four per cent.
Mr. Conway: That will get you out of a friendly tradition.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I almost think the members of the executive council might want to organize as far as this is concerned, and maybe one of you would give us some suggestions on this particular matter.
If I might make some reference to the member for Port Arthur, I think he raises a very technical point and I respect that point. It certainly was the intention when we put this together that all matters be referred to the commission on election finances. Certainly that was the intention and will be the plan to refer that matter.
He will recall that in addition to that section dealing with the reference to the commission on election finances, there were some matters which we will want to refer to that commission early, in order that they might give some thought to other responsibility allowances which are not addressed by this legislation. It is our plan to do that at the beginning of the year and to have some discussion about that in the House perhaps in the spring.
Mr. Warner: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: The House leader for the government suggested that perhaps I didn’t realize the added responsibilities taken on by members of the executive council. I certainly do recognize those added responsibilities and realize that some of the members even live up to them.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would you state your point of order?
Mr. Warner: I have, thank you very much.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
House in committee of the whole.
Consideration of Bill 195, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Section 1 agreed to.
On section 2:
Mr. Swart: On section 2 we welcome the fact that municipalities will be able to deposit money with credit unions and caisses populaires. We think this is a wise move. It has been asked for by the credit unions and the caisses populaires and by the municipalities and their organizations.
However, there is a real limitation with the bill we have before us. The act as it now exists, with regard to deposits with banks, is very broad on the type of deposits. I would like to read section 312(2)(iii) which says: “Where a municipality has moneys not required immediately by the municipality, such moneys may be invested in term deposits, deposit receipts, deposit notes, certificates of deposit, acceptances and other similar instruments issued, accepted, guaranteed or endorsed by any chartered bank to which the Bank Act applies.”
When it comes to credit unions under the amendment which we have before us at the present time, it just simply states that municipalities may deposit with the credit unions and caisses populaires “term deposits accepted by a credit union.” There is no other type of deposit. I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant could tell us why it is limited only to term deposits when many credit unions do have other forms of deposits that a municipality might like to use.
Mr. Ashe: The answer on that particular question relates to the kind of services and the kind of investment documents that the caisses populaires and the credit unions offer. I am told this particular description covers the kinds of instruments that are available from a credit union and caisse populaire from an investment point of view. In effect, they don’t offer all of the various other instruments that are offered by the chartered banks.
I can also assure the House that this particular amendment in its wording is acceptable and satisfactory as far as the credit union organization is concerned. It does cover what they intended covering.
Mr. Swart: Just a word further, it is true, and I admitted this at the beginning, that they don’t have the broad spectrum of kinds of deposits. They do have kinds of deposits in addition to this that municipalities might want to use. I would think it should be broader to encompass those other types of deposits. It does limit it very greatly though they may not want to use it. In fact these term deposits, as you likely know, are usually for a fixed period, generally a minimum of one year in the bylaws of most credit unions. This might limit the use of the credit unions as there are other types of deposits which could be used.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Swart: We support this amendment whereby historical documents, et cetera, can be deposited with a municipality and agreements entered into. I just wonder -- and perhaps the parliamentary assistant could tell me -- why we make it a section 24(a) of the act. Section 24 actually deals with a matter of mechanical equipment agreements for the use of mechanical equipment of a municipality and for fixing the terms, conditions and rent charges thereof. I am wondering why it isn’t put in the first section where there is the provision for agreements in the first part of that section of the act. It just doesn’t seem appropriate to have it fit in in that particular place.
Mr. Ashe: Frankly, I don’t know why it is in that particular location. It was recommended to be the appropriate location within the legislation. The legislative counsel has checked out the validity of placing it there and it suits the purpose that we are intending. There is no other reason than that.
While I am on my feet, there was a question earlier in the discussion of second reading by the honourable member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) on this particular section. Maybe I can answer it now if it’s appropriate. It’s on this exact section. Basically, the reason for this is that there is no doubt municipalities are now in and have been in the historical document business. I think it is suspect, in fact, whether they really have the authority within the Municipal Act, not really to accept documents, but if they made it a policy to go out and try to attract historical documents possibly with compensation involved in some instances. This gives them the authority they may or may not have had before.
They definitely did not have, in any event, the authority to enter into the agreement that would keep the confidentiality of documents during a negotiated period of time, usually until a family member or family was deceased. In some instances, they were not able to accept even donations of documents because they could not give that particular commitment. Now, they are able to do that.
Mr. Epp: I want to thank the parliamentary assistant for the explanation. I was wondering whether or not, as a former municipal councillor or mayor, we had been guilty of some kind of offences in receiving some of these documents and other historical artifacts. Obviously, we are going to support this.
I also notice that in section 61 the municipality has an opportunity, which is under section 3, of closing municipal streets under its jurisdiction for social, recreational, community and athletic purposes. I think this is a very good move by the government expressly to give permission to the municipalities because of the current trend where municipalities have dances and so forth on streets and wish to close them for an evening or for a longer period.
Section 3 agreed to.
On section 4:
Mr. Swart: I have an amendment to section 4(1).
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I guess we could speak on any one of those amendments under section 4. This, of course, deals with a number of important matters. I want particularly to draw your attention to section 4(3) which would exempt handicapped people from municipal parking bylaws, where under the permit system the municipality could give certain permits to handicapped people.
Mr. Swart: On a point of order: I am wondering if we shouldn’t be dealing with subsection 1 first, where I have an amendment.
Mr. Chairman: The honourable member has an amendment?
Mr. Swart: Yes. I have an amendment to section 4(1).
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Swart moves that paragraph 62(a) of subsection 1 of section 354 of the act as set out in section 4(1) of this bill be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
“(b) Upon the request of a condominium corporation, a municipality shall negotiate with the condominium corporation for the purpose of concluding an agreement referred to in this paragraph.”
Mr. Swart: Obviously, this would fit in on page three after clause 2, just before subsection 2. Members who have had the amendment will notice that it doesn’t go all the way through the amendment which was submitted to you. We have consciously made a change which we think may be somewhat more acceptable and will establish the principle that we want to establish.
The bill which we have before us makes it permissible for a municipality to enter into an agreement with a condominium corporation for the maintenance of water, sewer and roads, both the clearing of the snow and the maintenance of the roads themselves, but it’s optional on the municipality whether they want to enter into such an agreement
There is, I think, a feeling generally, certainly among the members in this party, that it is a peculiar situation with condominiums, where up to this time they have to pay for their own maintenance of the normal municipal services such as roads, water and sewers and even street lights and a great many other normal municipal services; but they have to pay taxes to the corporation for those services for other people. There is a form of double taxation. Our amendment provides that a municipality must negotiate with the condominium corporation if they so request, relative to the municipality providing those services. As the existing amendments in this bill provide, they would negotiate the degree of payment, if any, that would be made for those services.
As I say, there’s general agreement and even the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), in introducing the bill, mentioned this amendment as the first one and stressed its importance. Perhaps I should just read what he said. He’s talking about the amendments that are incorporated in this bill and says: “One is an amendment to permit the municipalities to enter into agreements with condominium corporations for the provision of such services as road maintenance, snow clearing and the maintenance of sewer and water pipe on condominium property. Many members will know through personal experience, as I certainly do, of condominium owners who have encountered serious problems in relation to those services. This amendment should help alleviate some problems in those instances where an agreement can be worked out between a municipality and a condominium corporation.”
It’s perfectly clear from that sentence that if an agreement can’t be worked out, those problems aren’t going to be solved. We want to assure by our amendment that they must get down and work out that agreement.
He goes on to say: “Recognizing that condominium developments are in fact private property, municipalities will be given the prerogative of determining whether or not to charge a fee for the specific services provided.” We are quite prepared to leave those negotiations with regard to the fee. We’re even prepared to leave, if it’s found necessary, the enactment of any regulations which might require the municipality to carry further, if the municipality didn’t negotiate in good faith with the condominium owners. But we want in this amendment to establish the principle that the municipality must negotiate with the condominium owners.
I would point out that there is a moral obligation for them to do so. Over the years, municipalities have had the authority, if they wished to use it -- by site agreements, by zoning bylaws -- to provide that these condominiums be built in a fashion, if they’re going to build, where many of these problems would not arise. There are numbers of condominiums where the streets are too narrow, where it’s almost impossible to provide the services, where there has been poor construction, where the condominium owners now are faced with huge costs to repair streets and other services.
The municipalities generally have taken -- and many of them still are taking -- a “hands off” attitude, saying, “this is a private development. We may have a site plan for it but we don’t have any great detail on that site plan to protect the ultimate owners.” Now these people have found themselves with these problems spoken about by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Again, we just want to assure that negotiations must take place to try to arrive at a solution for these condominium owners, leaving the terms of reference, at least at this time, wide open with regard to the results of those negotiations.
Mr. M. N. Davison: My colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold, was quite right in putting forth what the subsection does in the bill. It simply provides the municipality with the option of entering into an agreement with a condominium corporation respecting things such as road repairs, snow removal and maintenance of sewer and water lines.
This was a problem that came forth firstly, I suppose, with any MPP who had a large number of condominium corporations in his or her riding. It most recently came forward in the Kealey commission hearings, in which corporation after corporation and group after group made representation as to the problems caused in this area by the lack of legislation. It was indeed suggested by the Kealey report that changes to the Municipal Act should be made. It’s taken a long time, but the change itself is welcome.
The step is a good one because I think it begins to solve the problem that’s been called double taxation, where the corporation has paid for those municipal services in its taxes but has not received them from the municipality. Therefore, they’ve had to go out at their own expense and pay again the price for those services and have them done by someone else.
The condominium owners, however, at this time need not more empty talk, empty rhetoric or empty statutes, but action. That I think is where the bill, as put forward by the minister, falls down in terms of securing action for those problems. Without some steps, such as that suggested by my colleague in his amendment, the bill as put forward may well be useless to condominium corporations.
The fundamental importance of the amendment suggested by the member for Welland-Thorold is it will compel the parties to sit down at the table. It’s obviously not possible, I suspect -- and probably not a good idea -- to compel them by way of this act or this kind of legislation to arrive at a solution, but it’s certainly to goodness possible to make sure they sit down and talk about it.
I found that by and large municipalities are fairly reasonable bodies in this kind of affair. Condominium corporations are certainly reasonable bodies. I would suspect if we can get them to the table, we can probably work out a solution. Without the amendment put forward by the member for Welland-Thorold, there’s no guarantee we’re even going to get them to the table. It’s quite certain that if they don’t talk about it, they’re not going to solve the problem.
While I’m on my feet I would ask the minister, through his parliamentary assistant, whether or not they find this amendment acceptable. Whether or not it carries in the assembly, I would hope the minister would keep an eye on this situation and carefully monitor it.
It may be there will only be a handful of municipalities that won’t live up to the spirit embodied in this act. If that is so, I’d hope you would inform the House about it. Then the members of the assembly who are concerned about this issue -- as are many -- would have an opportunity to make sure there is some action on this problem and it’s not simply an empty statute which will never affect the serious problems.
Condominium unit owners have been through an awful lot in the past 10 years. They’ve been through an awful lot of problems because of the inaction of that government across the way. The government has a really poor record on condominium affairs.
You’ve taken a step recently by bringing in the new Condominium Act. You’ve revised it and that’s helpful. It does not go nearly far enough, but it goes in the right direction.
You have another opportunity now to do something else to restore confidence in the condominium market. I hope you accept wholeheartedly and adopt the amendment put forward by my colleague from Welland-Thorold. But at least, please keep a very close eye on it; report back to us if you’re having trouble with some municipalities so that members can use their influence to see condominium owners get some action for a change.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Chairman, the minister, in his notes on the amendment to the act, states that the amendment should help alleviate some of the problems where an agreement can be worked out. I think the condominium owners have suffered from double taxation long enough. They want municipalities to understand they are prepared to negotiate, they have been double-taxed and they no longer want to have that kind of double taxation.
In my riding there are a number of people as myself who have sold our detached or semi-detached homes and have bought condominiums because it meets our lifestyle or, in the case of older people, because they can no longer keep up the kind of maintenance requirements that are on single family homes. They suddenly find they’re paying more tax on their condominium townhouses than they had been on their detached or semi-detached homes. They find that very difficult to understand, because on top of that they have high maintenance costs that also pay for services other people receive out of general taxation.
Some condominium owners have been able to negotiate with municipalities but the fact is many others haven’t. The most-frequently-heard complaint before the Kealey commission was the problem that condominiums have been doubly taxed and that this government has been insensitive to that. Municipalities have a certain responsibility in this regard. I would refer the minister to recommendation 24 of the Kealey commission which points out part of the problem. The problem is more than just a monetary one. Recommendation 24 points out that “municipalities must exercise greater development control over private condominium roads and give consideration to the problem of waste collection at the design stage.”
The fact is this ministry and municipalities have often been negligent in the planning stages in allowing condominium developments to come in which clearly don’t come up to the standards which will allow them to get equipment and other kinds of services in, even if they do reach some kind of agreement in principle that the municipalities should be providing that service.
So we have a kind of circular argument where a municipality will say: “Fine, but your condominium, your roads, your sewers, your garbage areas, don’t come up to the standards we need to provide that service.” But the fact is the municipality and its planning department sat back and allowed the architects to design them -- and to have the condominiums approved in the first place.
I find that kind of argument unacceptable. It seems to me the municipality has the responsibility to deliver the service. They had the responsibility at the planning stage and at the approval stage of that development to see the condominium was built to the kinds of specifications that were acceptable and where reasonable equipment and so forth could get in.
Certain municipalities may find that difficult to accept: that they have a responsibility. But the fact remains even the Kealey commission recommends that in the future the municipalities must deal with that planning problem. Surely, then, that’s an admission the municipalities have not dealt with it adequately in the past.
The motion basically agrees with the original motion by the minister, but it goes further. It says: “You have more than his permission to negotiate. You have an obligation to negotiate.” Surely, under the regulations as they’re developed and under the experience the ministry will have with this, and after the monitoring process our colleagues have been talking about, the ministry can develop regulations that can facilitate this kind of negotiation. Therefore, I urge the members to accept the amendment.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I am just looking at the amendment. It says: “Upon the request of the condominium corporation a municipality shall negotiate with the condominium corporation for the purpose of concluding the agreement referred to in this paragraph.” The intent of the bill in section 4 is described as: “The proposed paragraph 62(a) permits the municipality to enter into agreements with a condominium corporation for the provision of such services as road maintenance, snow clearing and sewer and water pipe maintenance on the condominium property.”
I suggest, by looking at the bill itself under section 4, this is going to be hard to interpret or even enforce. If you look at a highrise condominium and the services that have to be provided there, and I am thinking in particular of the water system, I interpret the act to mean that you are going to have to maintain a special pump.
I am sure you are aware that under the Ontario Building Code they have to have a certain size of pump to maintain a certain pressure of water from one level to another level in a highrise apartment. I suggest that if you are going to have fire protection within that building, it means you have to have 90 pounds pressure at the 10th floor. If something should go wrong with that pumping system, it means the municipality must maintain it, if they are in agreement with it.
Mr. M. N. Davison: No, no. What on earth are you talking about?
Mr. Haggerty: Just read that and you see. It says “repairing sewer pipes and water pipes installed on the condominium property.” And that is installed on it.
In another area, it mentions that they have to look after the roadway going into the condominium property. If you look at some of the buildings around Toronto where you have underground parking, that is going to be difficult for a municipality to maintain if they get into an agreement. I suggest that perhaps in new condominiums the act could apply, but if you are going back to something older, then I think you are going to run into difficulties trying to negotiate an agreement.
Under the amendment put forward by the member for Welland-Thorold, it means they shall negotiate, and I just don’t like the word “shall” negotiate, when the other says it may permit them to go forward with an agreement. I suggest you are going to open a door that is going to cause many problems with municipalities that are not better equipped with some of the local services going into the condominiums. I can think of some highrise apartments built on the Niagara Peninsula that sometimes have cost the municipality quite a bit to put in an extra-large water service, a main, to that particular building. And you are going to ask the municipality now to share further in the cost of almost all the water services within that building, because it certainly says water pipes within a building.
I think the pumping system required in these highrise apartments could become the responsibility of the municipality. I don’t think they have qualified personnel even to maintain that. I bring that to the attention of the parliamentary assistant.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Chairman, the remarks of the member for Erie lead me to think that, as befits the area he represents, he certainly understands water pumps, but I don’t think he understands much about condominiums.
The services referred to in this bill, and indeed in the amendment in terms of negotiation, are services normally provided by a municipality. Those are pretty easy to define in working terms. We are talking about access roads, which in a normal subdivision would be roads which a municipality would ordinarily maintain, and water piping that a municipality would ordinarily maintain. One can easily define those services which a municipality would ordinarily provide to a development which, however, in a condominium development, are paid for by the condominium owners through their assessment, their condominium fee paid monthly towards the upkeep of the so-called common elements.
This amendment that we have before us moves the Municipal Act one step further on from what is actually the case now. It is now possible for municipalities to conclude agreements with condominium corporations. There has never been anything to prevent them. However, many municipalities have hidden behind the false claim that they didn’t have the power. Any municipality which has wished to exercise that power has done so in Ontario and there has been no hindrance at all to the exercise of such a power by a municipality. However, many have not wished to enter into agreements for the very good reason that they would become liable to sharing costs which they preferred not to take on, even though they had a moral responsibility, in my view, to do exactly that.
We already have the situation where they have the power now. The bill before us does not add anything to the current situation except to put it down on paper. What we are suggesting is that the bill should take it one step forward and at least say to the municipalities: “Where a condominium corporation approaches you and asks for negotiations under this section of the Municipal Act, municipalities have an obligation to respond. They have an obligation to sit down and begin the process of negotiation.”
There is no way we can legislate what the outcome of that negotiation will be. We may in the future wish to provide a legislative framework for review, for arbitration, if the need arises although I hope it would not. I feel if we can take the step forward that we require municipalities to respond, to sit down, to negotiate, then each set of negotiations with each condominium corporation can have its own set of parameters. Each condominium corporation is physically and probably financially in a different situation.
We think this would be a step forward. We think that to require the municipalities at least to make a commitment to negotiate would provide, through this amendment to the Municipal Act, that accompanying legislation to Bill 103 which would help ameliorate the difficulties being suffered by condominium unit owners in the province of Ontario.
The problems have been grave. Double taxation has existed, does exist. There is nothing in this bill as it now sits before us that moves the whole situation forward one step. We are asking that the government and the official opposition be willing to join with us in taking that new step forward that will offer some hope to condominium owners, that municipalities will begin to respond to the unfairness under which condominium owners have suffered.
Mr. Philip: I guess I’ll have to speak to the comments of the member for Erie. I fail to understand what his problem is. I fail to understand what the Liberals’ problems have been on the condominium bill and in constantly opposing everything condominium owners have asked for. Once again then, I fail to understand what that particular member’s problem is.
Surely the kinds of things he has brought up are red herrings. The condominiums that have successfully negotiated with municipalities have not run into the kinds of problems he has discussed, and I would hope that some member in his caucus would at least explain the amendment to him and this section of the bill. It would seem to me that he’s against the whole section in the bill, not just our amendment to it. I’d certainly like to understand what reasoning or proof he has that any of those things are in any way factual. Why do the Liberals continue to be opposed to the wishes of condominium owners in this province?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I wasn’t going to get into this but I must refute the comments that the previous member made.
The Liberal Party is not opposed to condominium owners. I think the member from whatever riding he is from -- Etobicoke -- doesn’t know what the devil he is speaking about. If he wants us to oppose the bloody amendment, he had better keep on talking the way he is.
Mr. M. N. Davison: If there is one member of the House who knows what he is talking about in regard to condominiums, it is the member for Etobicoke. Get serious.
Mr. O’Neil: Careful now, Mike, don’t get upset.
Mr. Warner: I appreciate not all members of the assembly will have direct knowledge of or a working relationship with condominiums. They may not have that experience. Many of the Liberal members don’t have condominium developments in their ridings and are not particularly informed on the situation.
This is an important amendment, and it is something which was neglected in the bill dealing with the Condominium Act. It is something which is a serious problem. For the member for Erie, if the member for Erie is listening to my remarks, it very simply comes down to a matter of double taxation. That is really what we are talking about.
Mr. Conway: Throw the tea in the harbour.
Mr. Warner: The services are supplied by the municipality, and in some cases, the same services are being paid for by condominium owners. In some instances, municipalities may have negotiated a way around that to alleviate the double taxation problem, but in other cases they haven’t.
The amendment you have before you helps to ensure that that case of double taxation will be dealt with. It just won’t be left to chance. When the condominium association requests it, then the municipality must sit down and negotiate the taxation problem. Either it will be cared for by way of the condominium contract for services, or it will be dealt with by the municipalities. That will be done by one or the other, but it won’t be a double taxation problem. That is why the amendment is in front of you.
If it is of assistance to the Liberal members, I believe my colleagues would be quite willing to have a vote on the matter on another occasion. We are approaching the adjournment hour but we could deal with this perhaps tomorrow or whenever else the matter is to be dealt with. It is a serious problem and I suspect from the government’s side it is an oversight that it wasn’t included.
In the interim, if we are not to conclude the business this evening, the parliamentary assistant may wish to consult with both the critic from the New Democratic Party and the Liberal critic with an eye to bringing in an amendment to which we would all agree.
I would hope the government realizes the problem, and while it may have not attended to it in this bill, could simply accept an amendment which solves the problem. I would just, lastly, Mr. Chairman, invite any member of the Liberal caucus who isn’t familiar with the condominium situation to sit down after the adjournment with myself and my other colleagues to discuss the importance of this particular amendment. Perhaps then we could carry it tomorrow.
Mr. Hennessy: There is an offer for you.
Mr. Peterson: That is very condescending of you.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, seeing there are only about two minutes to the hour of adjournment, I would just like to cover a few of the points and leave the committee aware of our position on what we are going to be doing in this proposed amendment.
There is no doubt, based on the number of speakers who have spoken on the amendment, there is a lot of interest and a lot of concern on the particular question. The honourable member for Carleton East suggested all the amendment is doing is making sure the people talk. I would suggest she read again the actual amendment. That is not what it says. It said they shall talk but it also says that in effect, come what may, they must conclude an agreement referred to in this paragraph. I think there is a rather subtle difference.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Read it.
Mr. Ashe: I am reading it.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Read it into the record. Read it aloud.
Mr. Ashe: The member wants me to read the whole thing. “Upon the request of a condominium corporation a municipality shall negotiate with the condominium corporation ...”. That’s fine, yes, but then it carries on: “ ... for the purpose of concluding an agreement referred to in this paragraph.”
Mr. Swart: “For the purpose of ...”
Mr. Ashe: “ ... concluding an agreement.” Well, that doesn’t say they just get them down to sit and talk.
Mr. Swart: All findings are for the purpose of.
Mr. Ashe: It says you must finalize an agreement.
In any event, Mr. Chairman, there’s no doubt there’s a lot of interest in this. On the other side of the coin, I think it’s fair to say that during consideration of this part of the legislation and in fact all parts of the legislation, we did confer as we always do with municipalities through their representative associations. This is a drastic change from what we did discuss with them as late as last week at the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee.
Mr. M. N. Davison: How many condominium corporations did you talk to?
Mr. Ashe: The government is prepared to take the amendment under advisement and look at it tonight and tomorrow. In effect what I am saying, Mr. Chairman, is that at this time I am not saying yes and I am not saying no. We will seriously look at it and get back to the committee tomorrow afternoon when I understand we will be carrying on the debate on this particular piece of legislation.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:32 p.m.