The House resumed at 8 p.m.
VETERINARIANS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. McNeil, on behalf of Hon. W. Newman, moved second reading of Bill 80, An Act to amend the Veterinarians Act.
Mr. McNeil: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is, first, to provide for classes of membership in the Ontario Veterinary Association and, secondly, to remove the maximum amount for the penalty that may be prescribed for late payment of annual membership fees.
The Veterinarians Act does not permit any person to practise veterinary science unless he or she is registered to practise in Ontario, except where treatment of animals is being carried out under the supervision of a member of the Ontario Veterinary Association. Until two years ago, the Ontario Veterinary Association granted a temporary registration for nine months under an association bylaw to accommodate certain specific situations. At that time, the bylaw was repealed by the association, which questioned the authority of such a bylaw under the terms of the act.
The dean of the Ontario Veterinary College has expressed concern that since the repeal of the bylaw permitting temporary registration, veterinaries brought on staff from other countries cannot legally perform clinical work until such time as they write and pass the provincial examinations for registration and become registered. The college considers it impractical to cause such personnel to work under the supervision of an association member.
The Ontario Veterinary Association has agreed to pass a bylaw providing a class of registration to cover employees of the Ontario Veterinary College as soon as it is granted authority under the act to do so.
The amendment to provide classes of membership is designed to achieve that end.
The act currently provides authority to the association to set a penalty by bylaw for the late payment of fees, but the penalty is limited by the act to $25. The removal of a penalty limit from the act would permit the association to establish by bylaw a limit agreed to by its members at its annual meeting.
The proposed amendment dealing with classes of registrations is based on representation to the Minister of Agriculture and Food by the Ontario Veterinary Association and the Ontario Veterinary College and parallels similar provisions in the Health Disciplines Act with respect to health professionals. The proposed amendment dealing with a penalty for late payment of fees is based on representation from the Ontario Veterinary Association.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, we certainly have no difficulty in supporting this amendment. It’s something the Ontario Veterinary Association has asked for and it’s something that the Ontario Veterinary College has asked for. The OVC has been somewhat vulnerable inasmuch as when it brings in temporary staff or people from outside Ontario who haven’t been exposed to Ontario examinations or registered to practise in Ontario, they have not been legally able to practise veterinary medicine at the college unless under the supervision of a licensed or registered vet. In that regard, there is certainly a need for an amendment to the act.
When the amendment to the original act was repealed, it created some hardships for retired veterinarians, or veterinarians who were doing some work other than actually practising veterinary medicine, who wanted to be members of the association. It is my understanding that this amendment would permit these people I refer to to be members of the association and to practise veterinarian medicine if the time came when they so chose.
Concerning the second part of the amendment, dealing with the limitation on penalties imposed for late paying of registration fees, this has been a problem with some veterinarians procrastinating or not getting fees paid on time. Twenty-five dollars does not seem a big penalty for them and this will allow the association to establish a limitation on penalty by bylaw. We certainly don’t foresee a problem here.
Had the minister been here I could have asked why he hasn’t accepted the recommendations laid out in the Botterell report. He certainly hasn’t incorporated many of those recommendations into the Veterinarians Act. It is my understanding the association is at present working on redrafting a new Veterinarians Act. I am sure in that act it will incorporate some of the recommendations from the Botterell report, because I know some of the veterinarians have spoken to me about separating the two bodies; in other words, the professional body and the licensing body.
At the same time the one association is not only doing the licensing but acting on behalf of the professional group, the veterinarians. They would like it to be set up and structured much like the Health Disciplines Act where we have a licensing body and a professional group. It is my understanding the Ontario Veterinary Association is at present thinking of incorporating this into the redrafting of a new act. I am sure when we do see the new act in the Legislature one of the changes will be two bodies, or a structure similar to that of the Health Disciplines Act. There is no question that the profession wants to see that split, and it sounds reasonable to me that it should have it.
As far as some of the other recommendations in the Botterell report are concerned, I am sure we will see some of those incorporated into the new Veterinarians Act, whenever it does come into the Legislature.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member is straying from the act before the House.
Mr. Riddell: I am not so sure, Mr. Speaker. I am talking about the amendments to the Veterinarians Act and simply saying there was a report that came out some time ago known as the Botterell report. Included in that report were some of the amendments we see here today. For some reason the minister has shied away from incorporating many of the recommendations made in the Botterell report into the amendments to the Veterinarians Act. I am simply trying to encourage the minister to accept the recommendations made by the Ontario Veterinary Association whenever it finishes redrafting the new act.
If the minister sees fit to bring the new act into the House, he will be supporting it. This is a start. The amendments we are dealing with are a housekeeping thing right now. Hopefully some of the other recommendations from the Botterell report will be incorporated into the new act. We will be prepared to debate it at that time.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I rise to say that our party is in support of this bill, although we have some reservations for some of the same reasons that the member for Huron-Middlesex has expressed. The changes which are proposed are reasonable and necessary on the basis of the present legislation. Certainly since the Veterinarians Act was originally passed, and even since it was amended, there has been much more specialization in the field of veterinary medicine, as there has been in almost any other field. The veterinarians need to have classifications for that purpose as well as to deal with the special circumstances that exist with veterinarians coming in from other jurisdictions.
Our apprehension is that the bill extends, albeit to a very limited degree, the powers that exist totally with the association and with its college. It is, almost without exception, a self-governing body and really is accountable to no one unless the legislation is changed. In the college there is no representation from the public generally, and it seems to us in this party that, whether it is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario or the Ontario Veterinary College, there should be a place for a public voice in those bodies.
It is hoped, as has been said by the member for Huron-Middlesex, that there will be a new bill or a bill with some substantive amendments brought before this House in the not-too-distant future. When that happens, we will be taking a very major part in making amendments which we think will meet to a greater degree the needs of the farmers and the citizens of this province.
I think you would likely rule us out of order, Mr. Speaker, if we tried to bring in any of those substantive amendments at this time, and rightly so; we will just have to wait until that bill comes before us. But I would also urge the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Food to discuss this matter with his minister, and perhaps in the not-too-distant future, in the form of a statement -- even before the House adjourns -- he might inform this assembly whether there are going to be substantive amendments in the near future and, if so, what form they are likely to take.
Mr. McNeil: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House that the minister has been talking to the Ontario Veterinary Association and has told the association that he is quite prepared to put forward legislation to provide for a separate governing body when the association indicates that this is its desire.
I might inform the member for Welland-Thorold that I am told that there are two-way observers now in the council of the Ontario Veterinary Association, although that is not officially provided by legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HUNTER DAMAGE COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. McNeil, on behalf of Hon. W. Newman, moved second reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Hunter Damage Compensation Act.
Mr. McNeil: This amendment would remove from the act the maximum amount of compensation for loss of livestock or other property damage caused by hunters, and permit the amount to be established by regulation. This change is needed because in recent months the value of livestock named in the act has exceeded the amount allowed by the act. Amending the legislation each time livestock values fluctuate, as the honourable members can understand, is a cumbersome procedure which can be overcome if amendments are made by regulation instead.
Mr. Riddell: We certainly support this amendment. Again, it is a case of seeing a fluctuating market, and it is going to continue that way. Rather than have to come into the Legislature every time to amend the maximum compensation rates, it would simply leave it up to regulations, and I think this is only feasible. If we take a look at beef prices today, they have escalated away beyond what the maximum compensation permits now, and we certainly do have to initiate a change and do it right away. If we give the minister authority to do it by regulation, then these changes can be made as the market more or less fluctuates. So, once again, we certainly support this amendment.
Mr. Swart: I looked over this bill, and the subsequent bill to follow, with a fine-tooth comb and I couldn’t find anything we could actually oppose in it, nor could I find anything that really should be amended. However perhaps I would qualify that. Certainly the figures set in any bill are in danger of not being relevant to the situation that exists at the time when cattle or livestock of any kind are killed. It is much better to have it by regulation.
I am not sure, even if you set it by regulation, that this type is the most desirable, unless the maximum is set very high. There are cattle, more and more, that are in a class by themselves and worth thousands of dollars. If you set a general average as the maximum for cattle it will not adequately compensate the farmer who has the purebred that may be worth several thousand dollars. Perhaps the maximum should not be there, but should be left to an evaluator to determine the actual value of the cattle or the sheep or the swine. However, once again, that is a bit outside the scope of this bill.
I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant one question: In the Hunter Damage Compensation Act as it exists at the present time, any payment that is made by the province under this act is to have deducted from it the amount of compensation a farmer or the owner of the livestock may receive from an insurance policy he or she may have.
In looking rather quickly over the subsequent act, which we will be dealing with in just a moment -- and you will forgive me, Mr. Speaker, for referring to it, but they both deal with the matter of compensation for livestock and poultry -- it doesn’t have any clause similar to that. At least it doesn’t appear to have. I am wondering why it dealt with one case one way and another case another way. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant could speak to that when he rises. If my observation from a very quick glance at the two acts is correct, perhaps that should be remedied.
Mr. Haggerty: I would like to address myself to Bill 81, An Act to amend the Hunter Damage Compensation Act. I appreciate the introduction of the bill and it certainly will resolve some of the problems rural people face. Sometimes a hunter will enter upon property and there may be cattle or other animals shot.
I notice the amendment says it will provide compensation “in respect of various species of livestock.” I wonder if the act covers everything produced on a farm today. Sometimes hunters cross fields and do quite a bit of damage even to grain and vegetables. Sometimes there is a drive with five or 10 dogs and about 20 persons to control wolves or foxes, and there can be quite a bit of damage done to personal property. I am talking about fences and other areas that may not be covered under this act; I do not think they are. This act just deals with livestock.
An hon. member: And other property.
Mr. Haggerty: “And other property.” Perhaps there are regulations that give it more detail as to whether it includes other personal property. I have had instances brought to my attention where there has even been damage done to farm equipment such as tractors -- a tire was accidentally shot out. Maybe the hunter thought he saw ears or horns sticking out; I do not know. I just call that to the parliamentary assistant’s attention on second reading of this bill.
It pretty well covers every area in the agricultural industry where damage is done. In a number of instances the hunter does enter the land without permission. I suggest, based upon that, whoever issues the licence for the hunter to go out and hunt or kill different wild animals, I think there must be some responsibility on the other side to say that where damage does occur on farm property, whether to animals or personal property, the farmer should be compensated for that damage or loss.
Mr. McNeil: Mr. Speaker, the minister will make regulations as soon as the bill is enacted to increase the amounts of compensation. The industry will be consulted as to those amounts.
I might also respond to the member for Erie that damage to crops or other damage will be covered under the new trespass act.
To the member for Welland-Thorold, the amount of insurance received will be taken into consideration and deducted from the value of the livestock.
Mr. Riddell: Does that pertain to other acts as well? I think his question was why is that not found in the other acts? Is the parliamentary assistant saying it is being put in the other acts?
Mr. McNeil: It is placed in this act.
Mr. Riddell: Does that apply to any of the compensation acts?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. McNeil: I may have to get that clarified.
I am also informed that farm equipment such as a tractor, if damaged by a careless hunter, is covered.
Mr. Haggerty: Under what act?
Mr. McNeil: Damage to fences or crops is not covered but will be, we expect, under the new trespass act.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
DOG LICENSING AND LIVE STOCK AND POULTRY PROTECTION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. McNeil, on behalf of Hon. W. Newman, moved second reading of Bill 82, An Act to amend the Dog Licensing and Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act.
Mr. Makarchuk: Another memorable piece of legislation.
Mr. McNeil: In this case, as in the hunter damage legislation, compensation as set out in the act no longer relates to the current market value of the livestock and property covered. Hereto, the government deems it advisable to establish compensation by regulation limited to the market value of the items at the time the loss occurs.
I would like to point out that the act as it stands allows compensation for rabbits and fur-bearing animals to be set by regulation. This amendment would make the compensation provision apply uniformly to livestock, poultry, bees and hive equipment as well. In this act the amount of compensation, similarly as in the other act, would be reduced by any insurance money received by the owner of the damaged property.
We believe these amendments will enable us to avoid the lengthy delays involved in legislating compensation rates every time market value alters. Such delays are not in keeping with the purpose of the original legislation.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, this is simply performing the same function as the previous amendment just discussed. It never ceases to amaze me how this government is always looking for a cure rather than a prevention. Every day I come into this House and look across the other way, I am reminded of a comment I heard one time where somebody said: “Down in America, they tell a lot of political jokes. Up here in Canada, we elect them.”
I have to think there is a certain element of truth in this. Last year when I introduced a predator control bill, which was to get the government involved once again in trying to control predators so that we don’t have to be paying out compensation for livestock that have been damaged by dogs and wolves, such a bill got the support of the farm organizations. I know they wrote to the minister and told him they were highly supportive of the bill. But why do we keep passing legislation setting maximum amounts of compensation by regulation, instead of by legislation, for livestock damaged by predators, rather than getting something done about controlling the predators?
I ask that the parliamentary assistant to the minister convey to the minister that he should be acting on a predator control bill. I think some of those municipalities that are still paying bounties are doing it illegally. We can’t seem to find anywhere, even under the Municipal Act, where municipalities can legally pay bounties for dogs, wolves and other predators that are destroying livestock.
In connection with this act, I might indicate to the parliamentary assistant that there was a pretty irate fanner around to see me over the weekend. His purebred ram was killed by a dog just at the time he turned it out with the ewes at breeding season. He was hard-pressed to find a ram and, finally, he had to settle on a grade lamb, which meant that he ended up from his purebred flock of ewes with grade lamb. As the parliamentary assistant well knows, one should be able to get somewhere in the vicinity of from $50 to $75 more for a purebred lamb than one should for a grade lamb.
He brought this to the attention of the minister and indicated to the minister he should be compensated for his flock damage. The damage in this case was he wasn’t able to get purebred lambs out of those ewes, having to resort to a grade lamb. The minister wrote back and said, “There’s nowhere under the act where we can pay that kind of compensation.” I really think a farmer should be compensated for flock damage. If dogs get into a flock of ewes and maybe kill some ewes, he’s going to be compensated for those, but if the dogs got in with the ewes just about the time the ewes are ready to lamb and the ewes either aborted or they gave birth to deformed lambs that would eventually die, then there doesn’t seem to be any compensation for that type of thing. There is compensation only for those ewes that were actually killed or had to be destroyed because of injuries caused by dogs and wolves.
I’m just wondering if the parliamentary assistant doesn’t think there should be some kind of compensation for flock damage. If he does, would he talk to the minister and talk to the ministry officials to see if they would reconsider that case brought to their attention by this farmer -- who happens to be from Middlesex county. The farmer brought this matter to the attention of the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) and the member simply wrote him back and said, “I brought this to the attention of the minister and the minister says nowhere under the act can he find any compensation for flock damage.”
He wasn’t satisfied with that answer and he came to somebody he knew could get answers for him.
Mr. Turner: What did you tell him?
Mr. Riddell: I told him, “You came at an ideal time because we’re going to be discussing this very thing in the Legislature this evening.” I simply draw that to the parliamentary assistant’s attention, and I would seriously ask he give reconsideration to this farmer who, because of dog damage, had to resort to a grade lamb and had to take a lot less money for his lambs when he sold them.
Mr. Swart: The discussion by the member for Huron-Middlesex, I think, follows on the suggestion I made earlier that, in fact, perhaps it’s not fair to set limits on the payment made for livestock. The more I think of it, the more I am convinced there should be valuators who determine the remuneration when livestock is killed. There can be so many varying circumstances, as was pointed out by the member for Huron-Middlesex, that you just can’t put all of those circumstances in regulation.
There is, as I mentioned previously, a great variety in the type of livestock, in the quality of that livestock, in the condition of that livestock at any given time, or the purpose of that livestock. I don’t know whether “yos” or “yous” is the correct pronunciation.
Mrs. Campbell: There you are. You see, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Mr. Kerrio: You’d make a fine farmer, Mel.
Mr. Swart: When I was on the farm we called them “yous.” I think that may be right, but if you have a number of ewes and have a ram, there’s a particular time when that ram is a great deal more valuable than he is at other times of the year.
Mr. Conway: That’s a startling deduction.
Mr. McClellan: To say nothing of bees.
Mr. Swart: Therefore, there should be that kind of flexibility in the valuation and even regulations will, I’m afraid, not provide it.
I too, on this bill, would like to ask the parliamentary assistant if he can give us any indication of the amount of money received by municipalities when they collect from the owners of the dogs or the other animals that destroy the livestock. This has a bearing, of course, when we’re going to be markedly increasing the maximums and the average amount being paid to the farmer or to the livestock owner.
I would like to know what percentage, if, in fact, in most municipalities there really is any follow-up whatsoever in trying to ascertain the owners of the dogs that destroy the livestock or the chickens or the bees, or whatever the case may be, under this act. Under this act, unlike the previous one, it is the municipality that has to pay these costs and, therefore, it is important to know what municipalities are recovering from the owners who are at fault.
I mentioned that the act dealing with the compensation for hunter damage has a clause in the act that there is deductibility for any insurance carried by the owner of the livestock. However, I didn’t mention that this act which we have before us, of course, now puts that clause in, so there will be the same clause in both of the acts. I have looked that over and have to apologize that inadvertently I had missed that.
I just want to summarize by saying that I think the intent of this act and the previous one, because they are similar, should be that the farmer or the livestock owner, usually a farmer, should be reimbursed for the market value of that livestock at the time that it is destroyed or damaged. This bill goes part-way towards that, I say to the parliamentary assistant, but it does not have the necessary flexibility to ensure that that will be the case.
However, because it is an improvement, is there a likelihood that there will be a comprehensive bill brought forward on this matter similar to the act dealing with hunter damage? Am I to assume that this is correct? At that time we will be moving the amendments which, hopefully, will be in order when we have a more complete bill before us to assure that appropriate compensation is given to the farmer.
Mr. Haggerty: I want to speak to Bill 82, An Act to amend the Dog Licensing and Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act. It seems that Bills 81 and 82 could almost be combined as a Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act. By combining the two you could have hunters and wild dogs or dogs included in both of them without having all the red tape to go through two particular bills that are almost serving the same purpose.
I think my main concern about this particular bill is that if one looks at the explanatory note the act also provides for compensation to be paid where bee colonies are damaged by bears. The maximum amounts payable are set out in the act.
I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that he should be looking perhaps at an amendment to include compensation where you have a number of beekeepers in Ontario who move a colony of bees from one community to another, from one area to another, which does cause some difficulties with local beekeepers in the area. You can have what are known as killer bees come in. They will move them in at the particular time that the honey crop is almost ready to be taken off the hives or the colonies. They will move in these transient bees, I guess you would call them, and the first thing you know they are robbing the honey and killing the colonies of bees.
I think the parliamentary assistant should have something in this bill that would protect these beekeepers from that particular type of bee operation in Ontario.
I hope the parliamentary assistant will consider that, because I find there is a lack of bee inspection to ensure that colonies of bees are healthy. I suggest there should be compensation in this area, not only against bears but against those persons who are transporting bees into an area. It’s been brought to my attention that in one particular area close to my place a chap has a habit of bringing bees in every year about the same time, and the local beekeeper loses his crop and loses his bees.
The other area I support the two previous speakers on is where it says “the municipality shall be liable to an owner for an amount in respect of” not more than $500. That doesn’t cover the actual value of particular livestock if you get into registered cattle, or even thoroughbred horses. It will not cover the loss.
This is one of the difficulties I found in my experience on council. Under the Dog Licensing and Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act usually a municipality would pass a bylaw, and I believe at that time it only covered a certain weight of poultry. For example, you could have prize geese or turkeys where one bird would weigh almost 25 pounds as spelled out in the bylaw, but they could never be compensated for it.
I suggest we should single out any one of a particular species of animals or poultry that should be included here that they should be compensated fully for. I see we have rabbits in now, and often persons do carry on this farming business. It is profitable, but often they do have a number of losses in this area due to wild dogs or just an ordinary dog that perhaps may go astray some time and may cause some loss to a particular animal.
In section 1(f) it says: “Poultry of one owner killed or injured in any year in excess of $1,000.” I don’t know why we would have $1,000 in there. I don’t think there should be any limit at all. If a dog happened to get into a poultry pen I think he could kill 20,000 birds and the $1,000 would not cover it. I suggest that perhaps there shouldn’t be any limit on the loss of a particular animal -- $500 or $100, whatever it might be. I think it should be perhaps set at the market value of the day, whatever the cattle or cow may be worth. We may be dealing with a purebred animal that may be worth $6,000, and we could be dealing with another one, a grade cattle, that’s only worth about $1,200 or $1,400 in today’s costs.
I suggest that the parliamentary assistant consider some of the comments of the previous members and what I’ve brought to his attention. I think there are many areas where the bill could be improved.
Mr. McNeil: Mr. Speaker, flock damage includes compensation for a reduced lamb crop or dead lambs that result from an attack by dogs or wolves. However, reduced value due to the fact that it would be necessary to replace a purebred ram by a grade ram isn’t covered under the act.
Mr. Riddell: They couldn’t stretch it to cover it?
Mr. McNeil: That would be pretty difficult, I think. I think the honourable member realizes that too.
Members may be interested to know that payments by the province for wolf damage total approximately $100,000 per year.
Compensation for losses caused by dogs are paid for by the municipality. In answer to the member for Welland-Thorold, it’s very difficult to identify the dog. One almost has to shoot the dog at the scene of the destruction and if he’s tagged one can trace it to the owner. But in most instances it’s pretty difficult to identify the dog. Consequently, there is no record of who the owner is. It’s very seldom that we’re able to recover losses from the dog owner.
Mr. Ziemba: Why don’t you just follow the dog home?
Mr. Riddell: You can follow the dog home but you have to open its mouth to see if there is any wool in its teeth.
Mr. McNeil: That’s right. After the dog leaves the scene of destruction, it’s pretty difficult to prove that it was even there.
The proposed amendment will allow the maximum compensation rates to be set by regulation. It is intended to increase the present maximum awards to reflect current values. I am informed that a minimum of 50 pounds of poultry must be killed or injured before compensation will be paid.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, I think it should be brought to the attention of the House that the forecast in the Newfoundland election shows that the Conservative government will be re-elected with 34 seats, the Liberals will have 18 and the New Democrats once again will have none.
Mr. Bolan: We want to be the first ones to form the next Liberal government anyhow. We don’t mind that at all.
Mr. Gregory: You will have a long time to wait.
PROVINCIAL COURT (CIVIL DIVISION) PROJECT ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 113, An Act for the establishment and conduct of a Project in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto for the development of improved methods of processing certain Civil Actions.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I regret I was not able to be in the House at the time this bill started into second reading, nor have I had the opportunity to read Hansard to ascertain just what statements were made at the time it was introduced for second reading.
I would like to state that I was very appreciative of the opportunity to meet with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and with his parliamentary assistant in advance of this act being introduced for debate. I raised a number of concerns. The first concern I had was with reference to the jurisdiction. The Attorney General advised me that it was his ministry’s position, obviously, that this bill was not ultra vires. The reason he gave me was that this jurisdiction has had approval in the province of Quebec. I, therefore, am prepared to accept that statement.
I would like to state that as far as we are concerned the philosophy of the bill is one which we approve. I don’t know whether any statement was made with reference to legal aid, but it certainly is one of my concerns that in small claims court, at the present time, it is difficult, I’m advised, to obtain legal aid. Certainly, with the jurisdiction increased to $3,000, I will have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that for most of the people in the riding of St. George, $3,000 might almost as well be the Hydro debt. I trust they will be able to have appropriate legal aid for representation in this court. I would hope that statement has been clearly made by the parliamentary assistant in his discussions of this particular bill.
I am sorry we are not able at this time to see what the rules committee is going to produce in the way of rules because, once more, it is difficult to debate a bill in the absence of any kind of concrete knowledge. To most of us, there has been a feeling that the development of the small claims court and the reform of it has been, shall we say, rather long overdue. Certainly, some major moves have been made in the fact that in Metropolitan Toronto we now have full-time judges for this court.
This is, of itself, useful. I understand this is one court, one court alone and we will continue with the other small claims courts across Metropolitan Toronto, and this one will be, as it is indicated, a trial balloon, as it were.
At this time there are many people who experience a great deal of difficulty, not only with the formalities of our courts and our court systems, but with the costs. It is for this reason we are prepared to accept the philosophy of the bill as it is before us, but I think it only appropriate those concerns should be expressed at this time.
Mr. Lawlor: From time immemorial, the Liberal critic down through the centuries, and certainly myself throughout many years, have had sharp things to say about the small claims courts in this province as being collection agencies, as being dependent upon credit houses of various kinds as their emissary and as their agent.
It is an egregious phenomenon. It is the one area in which justice, the courts, that most public of public institutions, was in private hands. With the government members’ mania of trying to privatize everything, I can’t help but rejoice tonight that they have reversed their position, at least in this particular area and at least in Metropolitan Toronto. In other words, for the first time they are giving cognizance to seeing the public interest in the administration of justice at that lowest level of the courts where a very large number of citizens, far more than ever appear in a county or supreme court, have to appear in order to have justice administered.
To be in the hands of court clerks who are the owners of their establishment and who are to a considerable extent outside the jurisdiction of the members opposite, who paid their own secretaries, who had bailiffs under their immediate control, is an anachronistic system in the extreme which has perpetuated itself down.
When they come to grapple with it, they do everything these days upon the basis of an empiricism. They never do anything across the board and forthrightly, everything is a pilot project. They are mad on experiment, with little courage with respect to projects.
By the way, I want to take exception again and castigate Arthur Stone, my dear friend, on the title of this thing. I almost moved an amendment on this thing, say for the establishment of a provincial court, civil division in Metropolitan Toronto or something. What is this all about?
With the cost of public printing, what is being expended in printing alone at this particular point would supply each of us with a dinner, perhaps even for one week. In any event, I would like to hear some justification for the minister’s portentous title in this particular regard.
At the provincial courts level we have established a family court, and we are moving into a pilot project in the Hamilton area with respect to a unified concept having a very broad range of jurisdiction affecting family matters of all kinds which at present are divided into 16 different courts with respect to juvenile offenders and those who are less than offenders, the young people in trouble. We have set that up for some time past.
The most populated courts in the province by far are overwhelmingly the provincial courts, criminal division. Every court, as far as I can see, and certainly in this area, is loaded to the doors every morning of the week; so they have to begin earlier and earlier in order, first of all, to take the two and a half hours necessary to get the adjournments before they can start the work of the day. With everybody crowding to try to get out of there by three o’clock, there is not much time left. But those courts are the pivotal courts in the whole province. Now the government is launching into a scheme to set up the civil side of the thing and wants to expand its jurisdiction in monetary terms to $3,000, which is fine.
I would have only two or three nostrums in this regard. The Small Claims Courts Act or, as it previously was known, the Divisions Courts Act -- when the government set up a divisional court, it had to give it a different name so the lawyers wouldn’t get confused; sometimes I get confused to this day. In any event, it was set up. The old Divisional Courts Act had special clauses in it with respect to such wording as courts of equity and good conscience. It meant -- but not for all the judges who sat in it, by any means. I won’t mention names. The particular judge I am thinking of is dead; so let him rest in peace tonight. In any event, he thought he was in the High Court of Justice even when he was in the low court of relative injustice.
Equity and good conscience meant that a certain informality ran that court. The rules of evidence were not as strictly applied; there was guidance for the poor devil who came in without a lawyer to face all the plaintiffs in the court -- I am thinking again of the credit agencies -- who sent their lawyers. As a matter of fact, when I first started practising law that’s what I did. I think it was $10 a shot and take as many as you can; it would be quite a few in a day. Maybe I shouldn’t mention that; it’s one of things that I have to live down. In any event, it supplied the rent money at the opening of the practice.
The bulk of such individuals appear without lawyers. In Quebec, as the minister well knows, they will not permit lawyers to go to that kind of court, which I thought was an enormous advance along the line of Thomas More’s Utopia. He said: “The first step in social justice is to abrogate and cancel out the legal profession.” Thank heavens our friend is not here tonight. He was one of the greatest lawyers of them all; he ought to know.
When the individual appeared, he would not know the strict rules, but almost invariably the judge would guide him along, take him by the hand, permit him to ask his questions in the best way he could set them up. He would testify with a feeling of security and of not being under undue pressure, particularly with somebody malignly seeking to upset him in the witness box. The judge acted as a buffering mechanism between the witness and the cross-examination. He was given time and patience and kindness in the process of trying to set forth his case, and was given a good hearing. Everything didn’t turn up an iota and all t’s were not being dotted. That is the way that court should and must run.
It remains his intent to leave a goodly measure of flexibility. He can’t have chaos, but his intent is a goodly measure of flexibility in that all those onerous and clever rules that have been set up over the centuries, most of them are completely useless with respect to extracting the truth, and they serve only one purpose -- to suffocate it. That is the next major project, I trust, that is afoot around here. I would like to see that Evidence Act really worked over, but I suppose we are waiting upon Williston, to see what he might suggest in this regard. I won’t prejudge him in this particular matter, although I doubt whether we will see any miraculous new nostrums as to how evidence may be handled in our courts.
The parliamentary assistant mentions in his section 2, which could have been a preamble, I suppose, the purposes of the act. It is for the development of simplified procedures and of methods of making civil remedies more accessible and reducing the delays. Of course, by an amendment he will put in there, “and reducing the costs magnificently,” or something like that, which will really upset people. If he moves into that area with these particular intentions, then I give him every credit. This court would be a welcome addition.
Just before I sit down, I want to repeat that bringing it within the ambit of the direct surveillance of the Attorney General and of the government, et cetera, recognizing in other words, that tonight we are doing the signal act of provincializing one of the chief levels of our courts in this province, is a worthwhile and monumental act. I welcome it. I am not going to go too much out of my way to give the parliamentary assistant accolades; we waited too damn long.
Mr. Sterling: This has been debated over a period of two days, and so I respond to the members who spoke not only this evening, but who spoke last week on this bill.
The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) asked in his remarks if we could comment in relation to the rules which the advisory committee would draft. We can’t predict all of the things, or all of the directions the advisory committee will take. We hope they will keep in mind when drafting rules, the purpose or the intent of the act, as outlined in section 2, but we do envisage the thrust of the rules will make the proceedings simpler and less technical, and especially less technical in the pleading portion of the trial procedure.
We hope they will provide mediation services and pretrial hearings where we have precedence now in the small claims court in the county of York and in the referee’s operation in the Supreme Court which is now ongoing on an experimental basis. We hope to enforce time limits more strictly so that there will be less delay involved in bringing these civil cases to a hearing. We also hope that the rules of evidence will be relaxed in certain cases and subject to a judge’s discretion.
We heard some interesting comments and interesting suggestions in relation to the advisory committee and the composition of that committee. In drafting section 8(1) and outlining the seven appointments, we had left two members of the committee who were not specifically defined in that particular section, to allow us some latitude in appointing people from the public. The Attorney General will take note of the comments made in the Legislature as to the interests of perhaps a consumer-oriented person being placed on this particular advisory committee so that we can have that end of the spectrum properly represented. It is likely that someone who is sitting on the civil procedure committee which is at present redrafting the rules for the Supreme Court will also be placed on this committee so that rules that will be outlined for this new civil court will line up more or less with the rules that are being created for the Supreme Court.
As to the report of the advisory committee to the Legislature which was brought up by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), we feel that the Attorney General, in being responsible in the Legislature every day and responsible to answer questions as to the success of this court, would provide members of the Legislature the opportunity to ask that question at any juncture they might wish. Therefore, I feel it would be difficult to place in the bill a definite time limitation as to when it would be appropriate to ask for a report from the advisory committee. I am sure the Attorney General will be more than pleased to provide that information at any time a member of this Legislature asks for such a report.
The member for St. George was unable to be in the Legislature last week as I believe she was sitting on a committee at that particular time. I did not at that time mention some of her concerns. She will not find them in Hansard because the hour was getting late and I did not think we would get to finish the debate. I thought it more appropriate, if she had a chance to be here, to answer her directly.
As we have indicated, we believe the jurisdiction is within the provincial boundaries of the constitution in this particular area and that we do have the power within our jurisdiction to create this court. Under the Legal Aid Act at the present time the section which would cover this particular jurisdiction is a discretionary section. I can understand the member for St. George’s concern about it. Subsequent to her request we contacted John Bowlby, chairman of the legal aid committee. He assured the Attorney General that the creation of this court would not limit in any other way the present rights of individual to apply for legal aid under the existing system. In effect what Mr. Bowlby has said to us is that the policy will not change in regard to claims which would fall within this increased jurisdiction.
I think I mentioned earlier, as it was brought up by the member for Kitchener, the thrust of the advisory committee, the rules that would be created by that advisory committee, and what we expect that advisory committee to produce in terms of rules. I would therefore expect my answer in relation to his first point would probably answer the member’s concern as well.
With reference to the member for Lakeshore who brought forward the problem of our small claims court and the fact that the administration would fall outside the private sector in this particular act, I must say I agree with him 100 per cent, in terms of saying this is one part of this government’s policy which perhaps should be reversed.
Mr. Warner: What an admission.
Mr. Sterling: I would think that in order for the small claims court in future to become more accessible to individuals and for claims to be dealt with in a fair and equitable way, in my view the small claims court should be under the wing of the administration of justice as is the case with the other courts.
I do think there is much room within the small claims court and this new provincial court to explore new avenues where we can cut down the use of lawyers in small monetary matters. I would hope this court will lead to further revisions in the structure of the small claims court and that it will be more accessible to consumers.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
JUDICATURE AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 111, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 4:
Mr. Warner: I raised some concern on second reading and I would like to explore it a little bit. The terminology used in the bill is that the interest may be “at the prime rate established in the same manner as for the purposes of section 38.”
Section 38 of the act says, “interest which is now payable by law, or in which it has been usual for a jury to allow.” What I was trying to get at was the rate that is “usual.” I am no expert in this, but it seems to me that the rate for a long time was established at about five per cent and then was adjusted to, currently, 10 per cent.
What I would like to know is when it says “prime rate,” if that is pegged into the prime rate as established by the Bank of Canada, or is there some other definition? Secondly, if there is that kind of definition, should it not be in the legislation, or should it at least be in the regulations; that when you say “prime rate” you mean such and such, the prime rate of the Bank of Canada or whatever it happens to be. I would appreciate having that clarified.
Mr. Breithaupt: On the point that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere raises, it’s my understanding that the Interest Act is a federal statute and, therefore, prevails if interest is set out and no particular amount is mentioned with respect to interest. I recall that for years that was five per cent. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere mentions it has been amended since. That is news to me.
It would seem to me that the prime rate that he does refer to would in fact be the commercial bank rate, which at the present time is 12 per cent. Since the Bank of Canada does not lend funds, I would have presumed that we’re dealing with a consumer rate here because surely if a judgement was paid, that person could deposit the receipt of that judgement in a savings account and should no doubt at least receive that prime rate. If the rate for that savings account or the rate at which money could be lent with no difficulty would not be received, then indeed it would be a penalty for a person to have to wait in order to receive the payment of a judgement.
I would expect that it is clearly the intention of the government and indeed of this House that judgements not be delayed so that interest which could otherwise be obtained, if that was the wish of the successful litigant, would be able to be received promptly. If that is the case, then I presume the interest rate is that prime banking rate for a commercial bank. If it’s not that, then I share the concern of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere and the matter perhaps should be more clearly defined.
Mr. Sterling: I think I know where the confusion may come from. I would say to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere if he looks at the amended section, which was amended in November, 1971, that may answer his questions. He’ll see at the top of the section, which I have sent over to the member, that prime rate means the lowest rate of interest quoted by chartered banks to most credit-worthy borrowers for prime business loans as determined and published by the Bank of Canada. That’s done on a monthly basis.
Therefore it’s well defined. Was there a problem in terms of getting the amended section?
Mr. Warner: The problem is clearly mine. You won’t find this too often, I assure you. I was using the 1970 Judicature Act, chapter 228, section 38, and had inadvertently overlooked that section having been amended in chapter 51, 1977. I apologize for whatever confusion I may have caused not only yourself but the hard-working people who bolster you.
Mr. Lawlor: There have been members of the legal profession who have been known to do that.
Mr. Breithaupt: There are still some using the 1960 RSOs.
Section 4 agreed to.
On section 5:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 48(1a)(b) of the act as set out in section 5 of the bill be amended by striking out “the judge” in the first line and inserting in lieu thereof “the Chief Justice of the High Court or a judge designated by him.”
Mr. Sterling: Perhaps I could outline the reason for the amendment. The purpose of the amendment is to provide clearly that the Chief Justice of the High Court will hear applications for a hearing by a single judge sitting as the divisional court. It will allow the chief justice to make proper scheduling arrangements for the sitting of that individual judge. It was thought it should be the chief justice who should be making that judgement call, or someone designated by him.
Mr. Lawlor: The effrontery of this ministry will know no bounds. They have not listened to my cri de coeur in this matter and they have side-stepped it, tried to make an end run -- whatever the football lingo is. Since the Attorney General is a great football fan and player, I am sure he adopts the stratagems of the game.
I am concerned with two things: First, it is a fairly arbitrary power, and I wanted some kind of clause on the consent of the parties. As I say, that has been circumvented. I trust you gave it good consideration because it is contained in many places. The parties in most circumstances wish their cases to be tried and got over with. If the gravamen of the case is such as to lend itself to an expeditious treatment, they bow their heads. A judge ought not to be placed in a position of imposing the hearing upon them.
Second, there is nothing here -- although I suppose in natural justice it might be; I’m a little perplexed about that -- precluding as it did previously the judge who did the designating from also being the judge in the substance of the case on the appeal. That ought not to be.
If part of your move to the chief justice is to overcome that -- that is, the likelihood of the chief justice sitting on one of these cases is somewhat remote -- still the judge he designates I trust would not be the judge who would be sitting on the matter. I would like some assurances in that regard and bland assurances will not be enough.
Do you not think the legislation should be worked out and given explicit statement to debarring that possibility from taking place? It is very high power indeed to arrogate to yourself the disposition of a case, saying that you alone will determine it, and then proceed to determine it. This is a court of appeal. This is a court with at least three judges normally sitting.
While I am quite aware of the wait in that court, the number of cases and the need and necessity at this time in history to expedite proceedings within that court, are you not letting money be your guide? It is the tendency in all areas of government -- but it must not be allowed as far as I am concerned particularly to obtrude upon the administration of justice -- that money is the guiding nostrum and the norm by which you operate.
So I would like you to answer why you did not include the consent of the parties as one of the criteria in the matter and, second, whether the rules of natural justice in your opinion preclude a judge sitting on his own case, on his own decision.
Mr. Sterling: I think the major objection to including consent of the parties in this particular act would come about in this way. The section is designed to take care of an out-of-town situation, where one can’t convene a panel of three high court judges to sit as divisional judges. If consent of the two parties was required, it would leave one of the parties, who perhaps wanted to drag his feet on the appeal, in a very strong position. In other words, if there were an appeal from an Ontario Highway Transport Board decision, it might very well be in the interests of one party to drag his feet as long as he could. That, therefore, would defeat the purpose of the particular section if it required the consent. That would be the major objection to that.
The only objection I can see in terms of the other point is that in a manner it could be a method of selecting the judge that might be hearing the divisional court trial.
Mr. Lawlor: The second point is that the judge, as you have amended it, and no doubt the chief justice, will in many instances designate a judge to say that this particular case should take the expeditious route. Would he be the same judge as is hearing the appeal? I think he ought not to be. He’s had to peruse and analyze to some degree the evidence in the case in advance of the matter, and make certain judgements with respect to the weight of that case. In other words, he may have formed some fairly basic opinions in order to say that it’s the sort of case that should be subject to this treatment. Then for him to go in and sit on it, it seems to me, is a mistake.
Mr. Breithaupt: I share to a degree the concern which the member for Lakeshore has raised. I think that the point of having someone sitting in on the expedition of the appeal and possibly sitting then on the case itself is something which we should attempt to avoid.
It may be difficult to give instructions to the Chief Justice of the High Court or one of the senior judges involved as to how this routine may be handled. I would, however, hope that the ministry would at least consider discussing the matter with the Chief Justice of the High Court so that there is some understanding of the concerns which have been expressed by the member for Lakeshore and by me.
This is likely to be an administrative matter which will not cause particular problems. But I would hope that any possibility that problems might be caused could be avoided. If that can be done, then I would be prepared to have the amendment pass, with the understanding that our concerns will at least be remembered and, hopefully, no particular conflict will develop because the administrators of this particular section will remember what those concerns were.
Mr. Warner: Following along those lines, there seems to be at least three different points raised here. On one of them I had tentatively thought about an amendment along the lines for section 48(1a)(b) of the act as set out in section 5 of the bill, because you’ve reduced the three to one, to add in a little part that says “can and ought to be heard by a judge sitting singly, provided that both parties agree.” There must be some cases where it is advisable to have three judges sitting on the matter. That would not only allow flexibility, but also it would ensure that the parties are agreed as to why there should be only one judge instead of three.
Obviously, I do not want to place the amendment. I would like some explanation from the parliamentary assistant. If I can get that clear in my own mind, perhaps we will not have to amend it. I am curious to know why the wording has been left the way it is without writing in the provision that both parties should agree.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I thought I outlined that in replying to the member for Lakeshore. There is a significant problem in terms of requiring the consent in that one party could unduly delay the hearing of the trial and, therefore, do away with the entire thrust of the section. For instance, if there is only one High Court judge in Sudbury and you want to have a divisional court hearing on a very important matter that should come on very early, then basically one of the parties, if it is advantageous to him, could withhold his consent and, in effect, delay the matter from coming to trial.
The other one is a little harder to answer; that is, the objection in terms of the Chief Justice of the High Court, or a designated judge, not sitting and, in fact, hearing it as a divisional court judge. I would hope, and it is our belief, that it would not be the practice of the High Court judge to use his discretion in that manner.
The only problem with that, in terms of the statute, is that it would limit that possibility if both parties wanted that particular judge and that was okay by everybody involved in the situation.
My answer on that particular matter is that we would not expect the High Court judge, or a designated judge, to sit on the case which he had designated one divisional court judge to hear. We just do not see any real necessity to put it within the terms of the legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall the section, as amended, stand as part of the bill?
Mr. Lawlor: Except that the member for Kitchener is an overtly, almost grotesquely trusting soul; he is relying upon some whispering in ears and saying the right word in the right place or dropping the hem of the garment. Tonight, I am prepared to go along with him, curiously enough.
Mr. Breithaupt: Perhaps we can just agree that, whatever the discretion is that will be used, it may not necessarily be because we are short of judges that the parties might choose to have the same judge deal with the matter. We have shared our concerns and I would expect, administratively, the thing will probably sort itself out.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 6 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill 111, as amended, reported.
COUNTY JUDGES AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 112, An Act to amend the County Judges Act.
Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 6:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 6(6) of the act, as set out in section 6 of the bill, be amended by inserting, after “may” in the first line, “subject to the authority of the chief judge.”
Mr. Sterling: The purpose of the amendment is to clarify that the senior judges’ discretion, regulation and supervision over the other judges is subject to the authority of the thief judge. We just wanted to clarify that in this section.
Mr. Breithaupt: I don’t know if that necessarily does anything more than split an infinitive, as the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) has mentioned. I would have presumed the chief judge would have these administrative authorities without question. You might feel it necessary to underline it in a section such as this, but in view of the comment made by my friend and colleague from St. George I think it would be better probably to put this addition into the section either at the beginning of the section or after the word “court.” However, I shall leave your version of the English language to your present associates and friends and you can deal with it as you see fit.
Mrs. Campbell: This is as a result of our intolerable educational system.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s okay, I like splitting infinitives. Why not split hairs?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: It used to bother your former leader.
Mr. Lawler: What’s wrong with that? While we have eliminated the word “junior” from those grey-haired fellows, twice as old as the senior judge who happens to be in that county, I can see there might be on occasion some rubs, a senior judge taking himself rather too seriously, as is the wont of senior judges, simply because he retains the designation under your legislation and being somewhat puffed up.
It might be just as well to have the thief judge sitting as referee in the background, judging the judges and bringing some peace into that particular court, whatever court it might be. As is the way with human relationships, often a certain amount of irritation or even acrimony develops among the different judges in a court. To give him complete, arbitrary, dispository power over the situation would probably on some afternoon prove to be a mistake. The other judges may have resort to a more neutral figure, et cetera, of enormous sagacity as these chief judges happen to be, placing their case before him and bringing some order into the judicial process, which is something, generally speaking, in all aspects devoutly to be desired.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 7 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 18:
Mr. Warner: The subsection that is numbered (1a) says: “Every judge of a surrogate court shall hold office…”; it then goes on to say they can be removed “for inability, incapacity or misbehaviour established to the satisfaction of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”
I am interested to know whether there are formal provisions involved in that procedure. While I don’t know all that much about the whole system, I do get the impression that these judges are being treated in a somewhat different manner from other judges as to this test of ability, capacity and behaviour. Also, is there a hearing involved for the judge, and is there au appeal process for the person who has been deemed to be unable, not of capacity and is not behaving? I guess, in summary, what I am looking at is how formalized are the proceedings and what protection is there for the judge who has been given these three labels?
Mr. Breithaupt: Perhaps the parliamentary assistant can define just what the satisfactory misbehaviour is.
Mr. Sterling: Before one can be appointed a surrogate court judge one must be a county court judge. The county court judges are appointed by the federal Parliament, whose members have the right to appoint all county court judges. The rights to a hearing and so on would be covered under the federal Judges Act; there is a judicial council which deals with appeals, et cetera. Practically speaking, if someone was misbehaving as a surrogate court judge he would basically be misbehaving as a county court judge and the dismissal would come from there; the case would first go through that particular procedure and then the Lieutenant Governor would also cancel the appointment as a surrogate court judge in conjunction with the results of that hearing.
Mr. Warner: Is there an appeal process?
Mr. Sterling: The decision really would be made by the federal counterparts as they are appointees; if they made the decision that a county court judge was to be dismissed then he could no longer be a surrogate judge and therefore he would be dismissed by the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s the other way around. The mere fact one ceases to be a surrogate court judge would not necessarily mean in the least that one would cease to be a county court judge.
Anyhow, with regard to these surrogate court judges, I think it’s high time the amanuensis of the Attorney General’s ministry earned his spurs in this House. Would the parliamentary assistant give this assembly this evening a brief history of the surrogate court in Ontario? Was it formed formally under equity practice? How did it evolve? Was it King’s bench, Queen’s bench, common pleas? What was it back a few years ago, just before he was born?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Since this is not a part of the bill, I’ll allow the parliamentary assistant 30 seconds to deal with the matter.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I would have loved to turn my attention to it but since you have ruled it out of order I will not answer the question.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Chairman, I want the House to know this. The only reason I relent is I wish to see this House go forward tonight at a snail’s pace.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Well, it’s doing just that.
Sections 18 to 20, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill 112, as amended, agreed to.
PROVINCIAL COURT (CIVIL DIVISION) PROJECT ACT
Consideration of Bill 113, An Act for the establishment and conduct of a Project in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto for the development of improved methods of processing certain Civil Actions.
Sections 1 to 7, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 8:
Mr. Warner: I wasn’t satisfied with the response about the reporting. When the House is in session and we have question period, of course, that is an opportunity for each member of the opposition and government members who are not cabinet ministers to ask questions. I don’t think that is good enough, particularly when you are running an experiment. I understand this court to be set up is an experiment and it has a termination date, January 1, 1983. Since it is a defined period of time and it is an experiment, and as it is deemed to be important and is going to operate in the largest city in the province -- and we assume it is going to fulfill a useful function -- I think it makes sense to have a regular report back to the assembly as to how this thing is functioning, what are the good points and the bad points about it. Surely if you are having an advisory committee they are advising on how the thing is progressing. Would an annual report be too much to ask, once every 12 months?
That is one item. The second I wish to raise is that out of the group of seven on the advisory committee we can identify five people, if I am correct: the Deputy Attorney General; the senior judge or his nominee; and three of the five to be appointed by the Attorney General, one of whom shall be a county court judge and at least two shall be members of the law society.
Is it the intention of the government that the remaining two people be non-lawyers, people out of the “at large” community? What is the intention with respect to the remaining two people who aren’t identified by position in section 8(1)?
I would like an answer to that. My preference is that you have a couple of non-lawyers from Metropolitan Toronto sitting on that advisory committee; I think there is a good argument for that. If I understand the argument for the court it is that you are trying to have some flexibility built into it, to reduce some of the formal strictures of normal court proceedings, while attempting to handle some of the functions of the small claims up to $3,000. If you are attempting to do that perhaps it makes sense to have a couple of non-lawyers on your advisory committee. I would be interested in knowing, first, if there is a response regarding the two people whom we cannot identify in this section 8.
Mr. Sterling: Basically we have no objection to filing the report, if that is the desire of the members of the Legislature, but I just find the logic a little bit failing. If you want an annual report, the session sits, generally speaking, six months of the year -- although we are out of session for periods of three to four months, I guess that is the largest gap in time -- so if members are just saying they want an annual report, as I indicated in my previous remarks all they need to do is ask the Attorney General to prepare a report for the members of the Legislature. We are quite willing to entertain that. It is just a question of whether it is in the best interests of all concerned to have a report prepared each year and whether the expense is worthwhile. If it is the desire of the members I could suggest a motion for that.
In the matter of the intention of the government in relation to the two other individuals, I believe the member for Kitchener brought up the matter of appointing someone outside the legal profession in terms of a consumer-oriented person. We do not know how well that would work. It has some very positive points. Basically, though, the advisory committee is going to be dealing with procedures of the court. Whether there would be much interest on the part of somebody who is not familiar with those procedures, I do not know. There is some question in my mind as to whether such a person could have a meaningful input into the whole process and would be making a valuable contribution to that kind of committee.
Basically, the structure is such that it is left open for the two final appointments. We talk about practising lawyers, two judges and the Deputy Attorney General. I would have expected that the other two appointments would probably be law-related people. That was our original thought on it. But the Attorney General is giving some consideration to the appointment of a consumer-oriented person; if we could find such a person who is not a lawyer and is particularly interested in this kind of matter, we would certainly consider that kind of person for the advisory committee.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Chairman, the parliamentary assistant has certainly skated around the problem very well. I recognize, if one is dealing with the development of the rules, that it is to be that the rules will have been pretty well sorted out within the next several months so that this project can get under way. I share the parliamentary assistant’s view that the annual report idea may not be particularly useful, because questions could be asked of the Attorney General, either in the House or during his estimates, when matters as to how this project is working out can be gone into at some length.
The other point, with respect to the membership of the advisory committee, does still somewhat concern me. The parliamentary assistant has very carefully set out seven persons and has sorted out five particular persons, but still he does not say who the last two are going to be. It may be, since we are dealing with the rules of the court, that the consumer type of person is not the most useful in this kind of project.
I still would like to know what the parliamentary assistant means when he says “law-related people.” Is he thinking, for example, of perhaps having a registrar of a county court or possibly even a clerk of some other small claims court who is an experienced person and might be of help? Is this the kind of person being considered? If so, perhaps the parliamentary assistant might share his thoughts with us. Certainly the appointment of persons such as those two kinds, to take those two examples, would likely be very useful when developing rules.
It may be, as I say, that the consumer advocate or such involvement is not as necessary in this particular example. If in fact the ministry is looking at these other two persons as being some type of clerical, advisory or administrative person now in the court system, the parliamentary assistant should say so. That is perhaps the kind of person they want to have. But surely we should know at least the kinds of people being thought of to make up those two appointments who may be lawyers but may not necessarily have to be.
Mr. Sterling: Two of the type of people you mentioned are two very definite possibilities and are within the realm of our possibilities. Another one who was not mentioned is a professor of law who is not practising civil litigation who might be very interested in this area.
Mrs. Campbell: It’s always helpful in practical matters.
Mr. Sterling: Yes, I know.
Section 8 agreed to.
Sections 9 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 12:
Mr. Lawlor: I’m still disturbed with the nomenclature connected with what this act is supposed to be about. I wonder if the parliamentary assistant would entertain an amendment to that along these lines: “An Act to provide for a Provincial Court of Civil Jurisdiction in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.” Then the short title would read as you have it in your present legislation.
I don’t want to go on with it but “An Act for the establishment and conduct…’’ -- how portentous. You don’t need all that. You are providing for the setting up of a court; why don’t you say so?
Then it goes on, “for the development of improved methods of processing certain” -- certain uncertain; I think the only thing certain is the 3,000 bucks -- “Civil Action…” Why all this?
I am asking you to consider altering the title -- I don’t know how. I’ve never heard of the tide of a piece of legislation being amended in this House, but I am sure it is possible, on the fundamental basis that anything is possible.
Mr. Breithaupt: Particularly speaking on section 12, when we look through the index or even the Order Paper you can get some idea originally about the contents of a bill. If you look, for example, at the title of Bill 8, it’s an Act to amend the Trees Act. Now, chances are it has got something to do with trees, and anyone looking through the legislation or the index will be able to say, “Under ‘t’ for trees; was anything done about that subject in the Legislature?”
If, on the other hand, one is considering this matter they have heard about, some new division of the provincial courts in Metropolitan Toronto, you would sure never know it by looking at the title of the bill. You would have absolutely no idea that you are in fact dealing with something as neat and tidy as the provincial court (civil division) in Metropolitan Toronto.
The short title I must say makes an awful lot more sense than the long title.
Mr. Sterling: I wish I was carrying some other act. I am really at the wish of the members opposite in terms of the titles to these acts. We can only change them to what you would desire -- or the good editing you would desire.
Mr. Lawlor: Don’t push that one too far.
Mr. Sterling: The only reason for the length of the title is so that someone who is going though a list of the different acts would have some idea of what the act is about.
Mrs. Campbell: You’re kidding.
Mr. Sterling: I can’t say I was personally involved in this particular title. If any member feels strongly enough about the name of the act, I would entertain a motion to change it. I think the act will generally be referred to by its short title anyway, and that the long title will only be known --
Mrs. Campbell: By the mother of the bill.
Mr. Lawlor: Rather than prolong the agony -- I was testing the water with my little toe -- why not an act to provide for a provincial court of civil jurisdiction in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto; wouldn’t that do it?
Mrs. Campbell: On a trial basis.
Mr. Warner: Too straightforward; must be something wrong.
Mr. Breithaupt: There may be some point there; but of course the bill has already been brought into the House under this title and has received second reading as well under this title. I think some points, though, could usefully be considered. If there was reference to the provincial court (civil division) for the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto it would certainly be a lot easier to find. However, if there is the technical reason that we started under this title and must continue, then let’s do that.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: My information is that the title can only be amended if there have been some amendments in the bill which would warrant an amendment to the title. Don’t ask me to give you chapter and verse to back that up, but that is the information I have. Of course, we’re looking at section 12, which is the short title not the long title.
Mr. Lawlor: I can’t bow to that. Have you got the page in mind?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: No, I have no authority for it, and I’m not going to guarantee that I can give you authority for it.
Mr. Lawlor: I’m getting very close to challenging the chairman.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Maybe we can, if you’ll just be patient.
Mr. Lawlor: Just bear with me for a moment before I launch into the blue. It seems to me that we have it within our jurisdiction to amend anything as we see fit, and as long as no one raises too much of an objection. I mean there are certain people, if they raise objections we can ignore them, but --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Let me read rule 86: “It shall be an instruction to the committee of the whole House to which bills may be committed, that it has the power to make such amendments therein as it thinks fit if they are relevant to the subject matter of the bill; but if any such amendments are not within the title of the bill it shall amend the title accordingly and shall report the bill to the House.” That’s rather the converse of what we were saying.
Mr. Lawlor: I don’t know whether it’s converse or reverse.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I didn’t say “reverse”; I said “converse.” This bill has to go for third reading, eventually. Does the member for Lakeshore wish to make an issue of the point?
Mr. Lawlor: I’d love to, but I’m not going to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I appreciate that.
Mr. Nixon: That’s a big change.
Section 12 agreed to.
Bill 113 reported.
TREES AMENDMENT ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of the adjourned consideration of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Trees Act.
On section 4, as renumbered:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: When we were last looking at this bill the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) had moved an amendment to section 3 but had not spoken to that amendment. So that we’ll know what he’s speaking to I’ll read the proposed amendment to section 3 to you.
Mr. Swart moved that section 5(1)(j) of the act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“(j) apply to trees which, subject to prior approval of the enforcement officers, it is necessary to destroy in order to lawfully establish and operate or enlarge any pit or quarry on land that has not been designated under section 2 of the Pits and Quarries Control Act, 1971.”
Mr. Swart: It was our party’s view in considering this bill that where a permit wasn’t in existence, whether relative to section 8 when there is a house or structure to be built on land, or as in this case relative to pits and quarries which have not been designated under section 2 of the act, that the enforcement officer should view that property prior to any tree cutting taking place. He should agree with the owner and inform the owner of the land what trees he would be able to cut down without infringing on the act.
This, of course, gives discretionary power to the enforcement officers, but we feel it is preferable to an owner who goes ahead and cuts down a great number of trees, some of them unnecessarily, and then afterwards has a charge laid against him or the alternative of not having a charge laid against him. We just think on this occasion, as in the previous subsection of the same act, it is desirable to have the enforcement officer there ahead of time before the action takes place. That is the purpose of this amendment to this section.
There has been real concern, of course, among the conservationists and others about the desecration of trees to enlarge pits and quarries. We recognize that in some places this is necessary. The old act may have been unduly restrictive and we think the clause which we propose here finds the right compromise where it is permitted but where the enforcement officer would view it first.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, my feeling about this amendment is really the same as the one before. Giving the authority to an official to decide whether or not a project really would go forward subject to no appeal whatsoever I think is improper. It should be the rule of law rather than that of individuals.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, we feel the section of the amendment to the act which is presently in Bill 8 is adequate and we will not be supporting the amendment.
Mr. Swart: Just one more word, if I may, Mr. Chairman; I would point out that the decision of the enforcement officer may be rejected by the owner of the land and then it would be up to the enforcement officer or some other person to take him to court. It could be decided there whether he had cut down trees which should not have been cut down. I just repeat that I think it is better to decide ahead of time rather than afterwards.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any further comments on the amendment? If not, is the committee ready for the question?
All those in favour will say “aye.”
All those opposed will say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 4, as renumbered, agreed to.
On section 5, as renumbered:
Mr. Bolan: On section 4 in the bill, which has been renumbered to section 5, I have an amendment before you, Mr. Chairman. It is a three-part amendment, and I propose to abandon the first part of the amendment and the third part of the amendment. The second part has great significance for the future growth and development of the province of Ontario.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Bolan moves that section 6(2) of the act, as set out in the said section 5 of the bill as renumbered, be amended by inserting after the word “just” in the last line of the subsection the words “and to adequately maintain the replanted trees in such manner as the judge considers proper.”
Mr. Bolan: This is not the same wording as the amendment which was before you. I have spoken to the minister about this matter. It is something which was drafted a very short while ago.
Mr. Chairman: Would the honourable member send one to the table?
Mr. Bolan: I will; I do have one here.
Mr. Swart: On a point of order, I’m confused about the number. We didn’t renumber the act. Are we not actually talking about section 4 of this act, and not section 5?
We had a great deal of discussion on this before, but the act was not really renumbered because of your accepting an amendment. Is it not section 4 we’re talking about now?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, as I recall there was some confusion when we were last dealing with these amendments because at that time the first amendment was an amendment put forward as section 1(a). However, legislative counsel indicated, and the committee agreed at the time, that instead of 1(a) it should be called section 2. Consequently, all the following sections were renumbered one number more.
I see the legislative counsel is nodding and the Clerk is nodding, I think.
Mr. Chairman: Is the member for Welland-Thorold satisfied? I’m quite sure the numbers can be corrected on editing later.
Mr. Bolan: The amendment which is in the bill reads as follows: “Where a person is convicted of an offence under clause (a) of subsection 1, the judge shall consider all evidence given in respect of the necessity of replanting the area on which trees have been destroyed and the owner of the said area to replant or have replanted thereon such trees in such manner and within such period of time as the judge considers just.”
Unless you have the amendment I have proposed, what that means is that a judge may make an order with respect to replanting and then that’s the end of it. There are no provisions at all for maintaining those trees for a reasonable period of time.
In order for the order of the court to be effective, the section will also have to grant to the judge the authority to compel the owner to maintain that particular tree cover. That is the purpose for the amendment.
Mr. Swart: We have no objection to that amendment. It perhaps strengthens the section. We’ll support it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 5, as renumbered and amended, agreed to.
On section 6, as renumbered:
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Swart moves that section 7(b)(2) of the act, as set out in section 6 of the bill as renumbered, be amended by striking all the words following “to” in the third line and substituting in lieu thereof:
“(a) the owners of each parcel of land that abuts the land of the owner of the trees in respect of which application is made; (b) any person who requests notice of such application; (c) any other person as the council considers proper.”
Mr. Swart: The significant part of this amendment is clause (b) which would provide that it would be required for a municipality to notify any person who requests notice of such application. This would be in addition to the owners of each parcel of land that abuts the land of the owner and any other person the council considers proper. The intent of this is, of course, that special interest groups would be notified if it was so requested.
The act as it now stands requires that they would have to notify a neighbour who abuts on the property. This is proper and correct, but the basic reason for the Trees Act is the preservation of forest cover. The person who abuts the property might not have any particular interest but there may be other groups in the community, such as in the Niagara region where they have the Association of Conservation Clubs, which might have some real concerns about cutting off or giving an exemption to cut off part of a bush. There could be other interest groups and there could be other people who might not be the neighbours who would have some concern about this.
For instance, people who might be downstream from a section of the bush might not want to have it cut off. It might affect their water supply. There are a variety of groups of people who might be concerned about it. It seems to me that anybody who asks to be notified about the intent should have the opportunity of knowing. In our subsequent amendments it would mean they would have the opportunity to appear before council and give their reasons for objecting -- if it was a case of objection -- to the permit being issued for having this special exemption to clearcut in an area.
The council still makes the final decision; this is just relative to notification. It seems to us it makes sense that there should be that broader notification with regard to these exemptions. I would point out the exemption part is new; that hasn’t been in the act in the 30 years or so since the act has been in force. If we’re going to put it in now, then let’s establish the broader notification policy so those people who are concerned about it can at least make their views known to the council. That is the intent of this amendment.
Mr. Bolan: We do not support this amendment. We feel allowing this clause to remain would mean any group at large would merely register with every municipality and every township in the province where they have a bylaw pursuant to the Trees Act. Whenever somebody comes along to cut a tree, they have to send a notice out to everybody in the bloody province. It just doesn’t make sense. For that reason, and being sensible people, we are not going to support the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Chairman, I am delighted to hear the perception of the honourable member opposite. Actually, he could go outside the province and say that it could be anybody in the world, the way this amendment is phrased. “Downstream” might be Kansas City. County councils are elected, and we assume county councils will act in the best interests of the people they represent. Consequently, I would oppose the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of the amendment will please say “aye.”
All these opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 6, as renumbered, agreed to.
Sections 7 and 8, as renumbered, agreed to.
On section 9, as renumbered:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Auld moves that section 13 of the act, as set out in section 9 of the bill as renumbered, be struck out.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, we obviously support this in view of the fact that we had submitted the amendment long prior to the time the minister had proposed a similar amendment. We think the minister should not have this arbitrary power to make regulations which could almost change the act in any way he wished to. Therefore, we are obviously supportive of this act and pleased that the government has accepted our amendment and will remove it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 9, as renumbered and amended, agreed to.
Sections 10 and 11, as renumbered, agreed to.
Bill 8, as amended, reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. McCague, the committee of the whole House reported three bills with amendment and one bill without amendment.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 111, An Act to amend the Judicature Act.
Bill 112, An Act to amend the County Judges Act.
Bill 113, An Act for the establishment and conduct of a Project in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto for the development of improved methods of processing certain Civil Actions.
TREES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Auld moved third reading of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Trees Act.
Mr. Swart: I wish to speak very briefly to the third reading of this.
Bill 8 was an act that was introduced by the government under the guise of strengthening the Trees Act; a statement to that effect was made. I want to say that the end result has been the exact reverse of that. Policies of 30 years’ duration, enacted to preserve our forest cover and our water tables in southern Ontario, have been dramatically weakened. Consequently, the New Democratic Party is voting against the bill on third reading. We’re not going to force a recorded vote because we recognize we’re not going to be supported by the Liberals in this.
Whereas formerly the legislation covered all the territory in a municipality, it now permits elective and partial coverage. In addition, local councils will be able to give minor exemptions, with inadequate notice to people who are concerned. These two amendments alone destroy the act’s universality and fair application. For years conservationists wanted the exemption of control on woodlots of less than two acres abolished and the Liberals and the Conservatives combined to keep it intact. Minor improvements such as higher penalties for infractions in no way balance off the damage done to the act by the other amendments.
Future generations, I suggest, will pay a stiff price for our backing off from protection of this valuable resource, the forest cover in southern Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for third reading of Bill 8.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.