31st Parliament, 4th Session

L024 - Thu 17 Apr 1980 / Jeu 17 avr 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for the adoption of the report of the standing committee on resources development on the annual report of the Ontario Highway Transport Board for 1977.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether the minister was going to make some comments initially or not.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I thought I would speak after the other members.

Mr. Speaker: You don’t want to make an opening comment?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No.

Mr. Cunningham: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I intend to keep my remarks on this topic somewhat brief for a change.

On August 30, 1978, many of us members of this Legislature were somewhat surprised to read, on the front page of the Toronto Globe and Mail, a story that alleged that the then chairman of the highway transport board had a lawyer who represented three opponent trucking companies in an application “dress up a written decision in the United Parcel Service Canada Limited case.”

In so far as this case currently is before the highway transport board, I would restrict my comments so that I don’t cause any further difficulties in the administration of that case. I see the current chairman of the highway transport board nods his approval from the appointed area.

The first UPS case was the longest and most expensive case in the history of the highway transport board, and I think the issuing of the reasons for the decision was the last so-called official act of the retiring chairman Edward J. Shoniker.

In a Toronto Star story, dated August 31, it was reported that the UPS president, Mr. Glen Smith, had said that the reasons for a decision were written entirely by Mr. J. Zimmerman, QC, who had appeared in the hearings on behalf of Canadian Pacific Limited, Smith Transport and Kingsway Transport Limited.

Mr. Smith advised the Toronto Star: “He (Mr. Zimmerman) admitted he wrote every word on his own with no outline, no text, no nothing.” According to the Globe and Mail, Mr. Shoniker denied that Mr. Zimmerman had written the report from scratch. The Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) had lawyers from his ministry immediately contact both Mr. Shoniker and the office of the Attorney General of Ontario -- and I believe that was the proper thing to do. The minister told the Globe and Mail that he expected a half report in a week. The results of the minister’s investigation were never released either to the public or to the House.

The company, United Parcel Service, petitioned the cabinet to order a rehearing of their application for a public commercial vehicle certificate, which is needed before the Minister of Transportation and Communications can issue a licence allowing UPS to use trucks on the highways of Ontario.

On October 12, 1978, the minister recommended that the board rehear the UPS application and the board, through its new chairman, Bruce Alexander, agreed that a new hearing was in order. The divisional court of the Supreme Court of Ontario was deciding whether the minister and board had the jurisdiction to order a rehearing and ultimately that decision was upheld.

From August 30, when the Globe and Mail had revealed the true author of the UPS reasons for the decision, until the end of 1978, rumours ran rampant that all was not well at the Ontario Highway Transport Board in the years Mr. Shoniker had been the chairman. In January 1979, a Maclean-Hunter publication, Bus and Truck Transport, charged that “Ontario’s system of regulating for-hire trucking had been so badly mismanaged that it is now in danger of collapsing.”

It was in this context and level of uncertainty that the practices of the highway transport board were examined by the resources development committee. The committee believed that the board deserved an opportunity to explain its procedures and believed at the outset that interested parties should be afforded an opportunity to criticize the board’s activities and make suggestions for change. At times the committee found it necessary to ask tough questions to avoid any criticism of our serious intention to get at the facts and to dispel some rumours that ultimately were deemed to be unprovable.

While there was no shortage or limitation of the determination on the part of members of the committee to discover the truth, there were indeed some other limitations. Quite clearly, as a standing committee of the Legislature with permanent orders of reference and a scarce amount of time and research resources, our conduct was limited and we could only be expected to give some cursory examination of some of these problems. We did find, for example, that Mr. Shoniker had violated section 18 of the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act, which is approximately nine pages and 28 sections long, on a number of occasions and more specifically had violated section 18(a) and (b) of the act by asking Mr. Zimmerman to write the reasons for decision.

Mr. Shoniker also revealed to us that, contrary to what he told the Globe and Mail, Mr. Zimmerman wrote the reasons for decision in their entirety, based on nothing more than a conversation of 45 minutes’ duration with Mr. Shoniker. This revelation was just one of several that gave the public a much clearer picture of how the highway transport board conducted its affairs and had functioned as a regulatory agency of the government of Ontario.

After hearing the testimony of several board members, both current and past, and of two unsuccessful applicants to the highway transport board, I think, it became evident to most members of the resources development committee that the board’s policies and procedures were dominated to the point of imperiousness by the former chairman, Edward J. Shoniker, and that the chairman’s unhealthy degree of independence, if I could say, of ministerial or legislative oversight led to several questionable decisions by the board.

One former member of the board told the committee that he was surprised and offended that members of the industry delivered gifts to his home, and he promptly objected and told the giver to deliver the gifts to his church. In discussions with more senior members of the board, he expressed his serious concern and found that, as he said, it didn’t seem to be an uncommon matter.

On the other hand, in fairness and for the record, we must point out that the committee was not given any evidence that proved widespread or even isolated cases of bribery at the board, as had been suggested in the testimony of Mr. Thomas E. Quinn. Nor was there information available to us that would lead us to conclude that there was ministerial interference in board procedures and decisions beyond the normal working relationship between the ministry and this important regulatory body. I want to say, as a member and as the transportation critic for my party, that I was indeed gratified to see that.

Yet there were disturbing elements in the practices at the board, many of which I might say led to an uneven and, in some cases, unjust administration of board powers. There is no question that the former chairman’s will was virtually unchallenged during the course of his chairmanship, and probably unchallengeable in the context of the operation of the board during the period of time in which he was the chairman.

Mr. Wardrop, a member of the board who sat with Mr. Shoniker on the original UPS hearing, testified, for example, that he had not contributed to the reasoning that went into the UPS decision; nor did he know that Mr. Shoniker had asked Mr. Zimmerman to write the argument that denied United Parcel a PCV certificate. Mr. Wardrop also testified that he did not recall agreeing with Mr. Shoniker, as the chairman had testified, that UPS should be denied a certificate. As Mr. Wardrop told the committee, he said: “I remember we had a discussion. We discussed the geography.”

Glen Smith, president of UPS, later testified that Mr. Shoniker, during a surprise visit to Mr. Smith’s home, asked him if he would serve the north “when you get your licence.” Mr. Smith assured him he would. Mr. Wardrop stated there were no other discussions about UPS with Mr. Shoniker.

8:10 p.m.

Mr. Wardrop, during the course of his testimony before our committee, went on to indicate that normally the junior member of the board tribunal -- in this case, Mr. Wardrop -- would be asked to write the first draft of a decision. He had been sent out of town too frequently after the close of the UPS hearing and heard no more about UPS until the day he received a copy of Mr. Zimmerman’s reasons for decision. Mr. Wardrop felt at the time that certain sentences, references and phrases did not sound like Mr. Shoniker’s.

Even though Mr. Wardrop was prepared to admit to the committee, “I would certainly say that they [UPS] put in a very favourable case,” at the same time he admitted to the committee that he suspected the authorship of the reasons of decision, but he signed them anyway. Which I believe is a comment in itself.

This was not the first occasion on which Mr. Wardrop signed a decision without discussing the merits of the case in any formal or detailed way.

In 1975, on the Glengarry Transport application, which was the subject of a hearing at the board, the tribunal consisted of Mr. Vernon Page and Mr. John Wardrop. After hearing the evidence, Mr. Page and Mr. Wardrop prepared an argument that denied the Glengarry application. They submitted those reasons to Mr. Shoniker.

After several months, Mr. Page and Mr. Wardrop were called to Mr. Shoniker’s office and asked to reconsider the decision. Mr. Wardrop says of the meeting: “We had to draw the conclusion that it was a directive.” Mr. Page rewrote the decision, this time approving the application, and he and Mr. Wardrop signed it. Mr. Page confirmed those events for the committee.

In the Glengarry matter, the committee was genuinely surprised that neither Mr. Page nor Mr. Wardrop asked Mr. Shoniker why he felt their decision was deficient. It was alarmed at the seeming lack of intellectual integrity of Mr. Wardrop and Mr. Page, apparently respectable and knowledgeable members of the board.

But the former board chairman’s judgements over the minds, behaviour and fortunes of others did not stop at the board. The entire regulated trucking industry in Ontario was subject to personal and sometimes questionable judgements by the former chairman.

It is not my intent in these brief remarks to go much further into the conduct of an individual who is now retired from the board. May I say in conclusion, quoting from an article which was prompted by this and an Ontario Racing Commission problem, which ultimately was the result of an Ontario Court of Appeal decision: “The time has come for an effective tribunal within the province of Ontario to review the activities of tribunals on a regular basis.”

The Globe and Mail, in an editorial of June 1, 1979, said: “It is not enough to be assured that improprieties will be eliminated when they are discovered, since many may never be discovered. What is needed is a standing committee of the Legislature with the power to compel testimony which each year would examine the method of operation of a certain number of boards and commissions. We should be eliminating the possibilities of unjust acts, not just waiting for them to arise.”

I regard the Ontario Highway Transport Board as one of the most important regulatory agencies in Ontario. Inherent in that is a belief that we must maintain a form of regulated transportation within the province.

If that process is to be respected, if it is to work and if the laws of Ontario are to be respected, I think the board must be respected as well. It can only be respected when the conduct of its members and their decisions reflect equity and justice.

This occasion was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back and required an investigation or a study. I think it was unfortunate that, to obtain the truth, members of the Legislature had to petition the annual report of the Ontario Highway Transport Board.

I would have thought there were enough areas of suspicion and enough clouds of uncertainty -- to quote the minister -- that the Attorney General would have taken it upon himself to investigate the matter in a more thorough manner than he did.

I am grateful for the co-operation of my colleague in the New Democratic Party, the member for Etobicoke, as well as for the understanding of all members of the committee who possibly didn’t grasp the technical aspects of what was being said and the problem at hand. I think, however, upon the conclusion of our findings they were aware there were several areas that were wrong.

I must also thank Mr. Smirle Forsyth from the Clerk’s office who helped us write a relatively impartial report that reflects some of our concerns, which I hope the minister and, more specifically, the new chairman of the highway transport board, will take into consideration when they contemplate the responsibilities that are bestowed upon them.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, this is an important report which must be seen in the context of the importance of the transportation industry in this province.

The transportation industry is one of Ontario’s largest direct and indirect employers. It may surprise some people that the industry employs somewhere in the order of 80,000 people. If we look at the steel industry, which seems much larger when one first considers major industries, we see that even this industry is not as large as the trucking industry. Therefore, any report that deals with such an important industry has to be of tremendous concern to this House.

My colleague the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham), who is the transportation critic for the Liberal Party, has dealt with some of the specifics of individual cases we inquired into as a way of trying to understand the workings of the Ontario Highway Transport Board under the previous chairman. I will not deal with those. We have dealt with them at considerable length. I would rather deal with some of the principles in conclusions we have come to, since that is all that is important.

I have been pleased with the professional manner in which the present chairman has conducted himself. He is highly respected in the industry. I am not just saying that because he happens to be sitting there in the gallery. Likewise, I think one would have to go very far indeed to find someone of the calibre of Brian Caldwell, who is extremely knowledgeable in the field of transportation.

I have also been impressed by the expertise of the staff that Mr. Alexander has built around him and by the addition of good legal counsel to the board and to himself. Mr. Alexander’s legal background is definitely an asset in the position of chairman.

At the same time, I must say that the inquiry we went into -- despite some accusations made by certain members in the House who later repented and realized when they saw the report what we were about -- was not a witchhunt against the former chairman of the board. On the contrary, if one sits down and quietly discusses this with the former chairman, he is the first to admit that what we did was important. In his own words, at a recent event which I attended and at which I met him, Mr. Shoniker said to me, “You did what you had to do, and I appreciate what you did do.” Even the former chairman, while he may have been under tremendous pressure at our inquiry, still recognizes the merits of what we were doing.

A board, like any other body, evolves. The board under Mr. Shoniker evolved in the face of needs that were different from the ones we are facing at present. The important thing, therefore, is to deal with the recommendations, which I feel are good recommendations and which were agreed to by all three parties in the House. I would like to address myself to a few of those recommendations, recognizing that we will want to talk to the minister and to Mr. Alexander very directly in the estimates that will be coming before us, I believe, a week from next Thursday.

8:20 p.m.

On page seven of the report there is a matter which will be of greater concern to the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) but, none the less, one on which I hope the minister will have consulted with his colleague and be able to give us some indication of where it stands. We recommended that the Solicitor General make an interim report to the House without delay on the investigation and that the report be made to the House when that is concluded.

In that recommendation we were talking of the hearings into the impartiality of the board and the matter that was under Ontario Provincial Police investigation at the time of or shortly after our inquiry. We would be interested in finding out whether the Solicitor General has informed the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) of what progress may have been made. There are a lot of rumours circulating in the industry. Documents have been taken by the police. It would be useful for this House to find out when we are likely to get some kind of report.

On page 11 we stated: “Your committee is of the opinion that the practice of seeking the help of counsel participating in a hearing in the drafting of reasons for decision of the board may amount to a denial of natural justice ... ” We went on to talk about the need for private legal counsel to be available to the board. We would like to know what progress has been made in that direction.

I must say, and I am sure the minister may well agree with me, that the Law Society of Upper Canada’s response to a request of the committee, that it review and comment on the possibility of a code of ethics for practitioners before the Interstate Commerce Commission and give us some recommendations as how they might apply in this jurisdiction, was not at all encouraging. No doubt, we will have something to say about that in the estimates.

On page 13 we made the recommendation that no member of the board should involve himself in the decision-making process unless he was present throughout as a member of the panel hearing a case. I think I would be flexible enough to say there could be exceptions to this where he had at least read all of the testimony, or listened to it, that had come before the board on a particular case. We would be interested in knowing whether that is being implemented at this time.

On page 15 the committee recommended “increased emphasis be placed on the outreach or information role of the secretary of the board within the new-established office of proceedings. The secretary’s office should be the collecting and distributing facility on information on the board. The outreach function would entail notifying, locating and assisting consumers, small business people and other parties not familiar with the board’s proceedings, to enable them to make their views known in appropriate proceedings before the board.”

The facilitator role of the board is one that has not been defined. It is one I have talked about in this House for five years since I was first elected in 1975, and we still see no progress. I think some of the problems the board has got into over the years occurred because the board members in their hearts wanted to act as facilitators, to act as counsellors to the industry when they could not do so beyond question when they were in that quasi-judicial role.

Until we define exactly where the judicial role is separated from the facilitator role, then we are going to have problems with the board. I would certainly like to explore this with the minister and with Mr. Alexander in detail in the estimates. It is one I think we have to solve, or we are going to have at some future time a repeat of the same kind of problem. Problems are often caused, I think, by people who want to be helpful, but by accident then get themselves into this kind of cosy or close relationship with the people they are supposed to be passing decisions about.

An important recommendation of the report is that a registry of complaints be established and maintained in a centralized complaint-handling centre and be open for inspection by the public. The problem in defending a regulated industry, in which all of us in this House believe and in which the select committee believes, is that there is always the feeling out there that the consumer cannot march with his feet, so to speak. He cannot say, “Fine, I will deal with this gypsy” or “I will deal with this fellow who has bought a truck.” If we are not going to have that marching with your feet, so to speak, by taking your business to someone else very easily, then surely we must have some other system whereby the consumer knows that if he is being hard done by there is a place where he can deposit his complaint and where it may result in some kind of action.

Max Rapoport, a learned counsel in transportation, said that if you want to run a good regulated transportation industry you make it easier to get into and also easier to get out of. There should be occasionally the removal of licences from people who are not performing their jobs properly. The consumer has to be protected, and this recommendation is a way of giving the consumer -- the shipper, if you like -- a voice. I suggest that implementing this recommendation is the greatest safeguard against the deregulationists who want to throw away the baby with the bath water, who want to destroy a system that generally works quite well when compared to systems in deregulated provinces; in fact, it works much better. If we want a regulated industry, if we want to preserve the kind of industry we have developed, which I think is a good industry, then the implementation of this consumer recommendation is a strong safeguard.

There surely should be somewhere an applicant can go to find out what kinds of complaints have been registered against the person with whom he wants to compete. Then it would be his job to talk to the complainers, to find out who are the legitimate complainers, who are the crackpots, who are the habitual whiners and groaners and so forth. He then could take in his case and prove it, based on the legitimate complaints against the carrier.

The committee also recommends that the initiation of any review proceedings based on a complaint that a licensee has violated the act or the terms and conditions of his licence should lie with the Minister of Transportation and Communications. We recommended that “once an established number of verified complaints have been lodged and recorded in the register against a particular licensee, the relevant information should be forwarded to the Minister of Transportation and Communications with a recommendation indicating the necessity of a review of the operating authority.”

I was talking to someone who is fairly prominent in the trucking industry only a little while ago, and he was saying that some of the things his own buddies were getting away with in this province would never happen with the Interstate Commerce Commission. It would go in and say to the particular trucking company, “Look, either you shape up or you will lose your operating authority.” That happens in this province. Every time you have a bad licensed carrier, then all the accusations of monopoly and poor service to the consumer come in and all the deregulationists get on the bandwagon, and they are the people who want to destroy this system. We must move in this direction, if for no other reason than to protect the industry, let alone to protect the shipper and the consumer.

8:30 p.m.

Publications of decisions: I am glad to see that under the new chairman there are decisions that I can read, that I as a layman can understand and that the average trucking company president or interested shipper can read and understand. I am pleased to see we have made more of a move in that direction. Of all the recommendations in the report, this is the only one on which I see any great progress. I am happy about the progress, but I still wonder where we are going on the other recommendations.

The disposition of case books: I can only assume, now that the minister has read our report, that he or Mr. Alexander has issued a directive that all notes and documents related to the Ontario Highway Transport Board are the property of the board, that they are filed and, if some controversy arises, can be examined by a committee, by a judge in the case of a judicial inquiry, or by an appellant who is unhappy with a case.

It always has been argued that if there are written decisions they often open the way to more appeals. The board has within its powers the ability to allot costs to someone who has appealed a decision frivolously, and that is a safeguard. We are moving in the right direction on that.

Committee testimony indicated that the licensing process of the board is far too complicated, lengthy and costly. My understanding is we are moving to simplify the procedures. I have seen some of the statements by the ministry and the board, and I look forward to further progress in that direction. It is a tough one to deal with. I agree that some of the things done by the Interstate Commerce Commission in the interest of simplicity have not always simplified but have rather complicated or lengthened the process. None the less we always have to search for it.

In our conclusion we suggested that the successor to our committee should conduct a regular review of the Ontario Highway Transport Board and that we should invite public participation in that review. I am sorry the chairman of the committee isn’t here tonight because I would have liked him to comment on that.

No doubt the member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) as chairman of that committee, has moved ahead and proposed to his committee plans for an annual or biennial review of the transport board. I wish he were here tonight to inform us what his committee may have decided on that. I trust they have dealt with that. If they have not, I hope they will do so soon, because it is an important recommendation.

My last comment is a question for the minister, and I hope he will answer it tonight. Both the Liberal critic and myself have been critical of the lack of a clear, understandable policy on the part of the ministry. The introduction by the minister of legislation that will facilitate the handing down of clear policy from the ministry was welcome. The minister can be complimented on it.

I am wondering if an advertisement for a chief of motor carrier control, which first appeared in the papers a couple of months ago, is a move in this direction. What is that position? It sounds to me like the setting up of a function which at the federal level we have the Department of Transport to handle. If that is the case, no doubt it will be welcomed by this side of the House.

We have noticed that under this minister there is a move towards a more open policy-setting and a spelling out of policy. That was not true two or three years ago. I wonder where this position -- I understand the competition closed today or yesterday -- fits into this policy-enunciating and policy-clarifying situation. Will this person be implementing the policing of the system? Will the position be equivalent at the provincial level to such a position in the federal Department of Transport? What exactly is that function? If the minister does not want to detail it tonight, perhaps he will do so at least in his handling of questions in his estimates, which will be coming up shortly. Those are some of our concerns.

Our main contribution clearly is not to examine what one board did under one chairman. Our main contributions should be that we have a good and conscientious chairman, we have some good staff people at the board and we want these recommendations implemented. We would like to see the timetable.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the comments of the honourable members who have spoken on the report of the resources committee pertaining to the annual report of the Ontario Highway Transport Board.

First, I would like to say that I believe the committee went into this matter very thoroughly. I believe the report they published, which I reviewed in detail, made some very good recommendations. Some may have referred to the matter as a witchhunt, but I respect the concern of the honourable members in trying to get to the bottom of certain accusations that were made. I think the committee came up with a very good report.

The member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) in his remarks went into some detail going back over the matter of the UPS hearings and the criticisms of the former chairman of the Ontario Highway Transport Board. I believe the former chairman, Mr. Shoniker, served Ontario and the trucking industry very well over a great number of years. I regret very much the method he used to obtain assistance in the writing of his final decision. I did not and do not approve of or condone that action.

If Mr. Shoniker required legal assistance in the writing of his final report, which no doubt was a complicated one, this assistance would have been made available to him either from my ministry solicitors, from the Attorney General’s office or from outside counsel if he had only requested it.

On one occasion, another major hearing, the Greyhound-Gray Coach rehearing, when Mr. Shoniker dealt with that matter, I recall he asked for outside legal assistance to assist in the hearing and for outside accounting assistance to assess financial reports. That assistance was made available to him in that case without question and could have been made available in this.

I still do not, in any way, condemn this man who, I have already said, served the province and the trucking industry and was very highly respected. I regret the circumstances that surrounded his final decision. I do not believe that Mr. Shoniker meant to do anything that was not appropriate.

As the member for Wentworth North mentioned, the method of arriving at that decision put such a cloud over the decision that I and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) felt we had no alternative but to order a rehearing of the case. I still regard Mr. Eddie Shoniker as a very honourable, Christian gentleman and I always will.

I would like to inform the members that I have reviewed the report of the standing resources development committee regarding the annual report of the Ontario Highway Transport Board for 1977. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to outline the government’s response to some of the major recommendations contained in that report.

To begin with, thanks to the assistance of representatives of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we devoted considerable time and effort familiarizing board members with section 18(b) of the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act and its implication for the OHTB in the decision-making process. Essentially, that section insists that no board member have any prior involvement in the matter of the hearing before them.

As to the recommendation that the Law Society of Upper Canada, MTC and the OHTB review the code of ethics for practitioners before the Interstate Commerce Commission with a view to establishing a similar code for members of the bar coming before the board, the committee has been advised the matter was considered by the society. Briefly, the law society concluded that it would be inappropriate for a separate ethical code governing the conduct of those members of the profession appearing before a particular board or tribunal.

To expand on that, in its response on that the law society did not feel it was appropriate for a separate code for that. In the United States there is such a code. That code not only covers the law profession, but it also covers lay practitioners who appear before the board; so it’s somewhat different.

The standing committee also recommended that no member of the board involve himself or herself in the decision-making process unless present throughout as a member of the panel hearing the case. That particular recommendation was dealt with under section 18(b)(4) of the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act, amendments to which were passed in this House in the last session of the Legislature. We passed that amendment then. As members will recall, we discussed in the House that if two members sit on a decision and cannot agree, with the concurrence of the parties then they can bring in a third member; but without the concurrence of the parties there must be a rehearing.

I think we have already clarified very much that matter in legislation dealing with consultation between members of the board. The limitation is both understood and followed at the board. It should be noted, however, that section 18(b)(1)(a) of the act permits consultation between board members regarding the subject matter of hearings. In our view, this consultative function is essential if board policy is to be applied in a coherent and consistent manner. I might add it is also accepted practice with most administrative tribunals.

The committee’s recommendation that a position of general counsel be established within the board to provide legal advice on a continuing basis, especially after the board’s relationship with its special counsel on the review currently under way is terminated, is still under consideration as one option available. At the moment, the board is satisfied that the bulk of the activities contemplated by such an office can be adequately discharged by existing legal resources, either within the board itself or readily and easily available.

The concept of a general counsel as a participant in board hearings could be applied in general policy hearings, similar to those conducted last year in connection with the dump truck industry. Such hearings do not usually involve an adversary process. A counsel would be of assistance in the presentation of evidence and the formation of conclusions.

There is, however, no obvious continuing need for such participation in the normal hearing process in which evidence is produced by the parties themselves. This system, although not perfect, I believe functions very efficiently.

It should be remembered that the board holds up to 2,500 hearings a year and may sit in on as many as six or seven panels a day, meaning the cost of providing a general board counsel on even a portion of these hearings would be extremely high.

A more limited use of a general counsel, say on an as-required basis, is certainly worth further consideration. But we find it difficult to justify the creation of a permanent office.

Legal services of this type can be obtained when requested from outside counsel on a retainer basis, or from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The board has used both of these sources during the past year.

In any event, if a general counsel were to advise the board during its deliberations or in writing reasons for a decision, that would have to be done in accordance with section 18(b)(i)(b) of the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act, and that section of the act would have to be amended.

The idea of a centralized register of complaints and a centralized complaints handling centre I believe is a good one, and one that I intend to pursue further. No doubt it would help the public to more easily direct their complaints against carriers and at the same time contribute to the speedy resolution of their problems.

It should be noted, however, that the household moving industry, which is probably the area of greatest sensitivity to shipper complaints, already operates an ethics committee, which keeps a register designed to assist consumers resolve their disagreements with household good carriers. By arrangement, the government becomes actively involved only when this process fails or where there is evidence of the law being broken. Members also should not forget the courts have a role to play, particularly in more serious disputes.

From our point of view there are some difficulties associated with the recommendation that the ministry direct the OHTB to review a particular carrier’s operating permit on the basis of the number of complaints against it. We could, for example, select three complaints or five complaints, or whatever number, as cause for an OHTB review. Such a review might be appropriate for a small firm with five or six trucks. But it hardly seems fair that the same criterion, the number of complaints, would be applied against a large carrier with a fleet of perhaps several hundred trucks.

We intend, therefore, to continue to improve the standards which could be used to determine when a carrier’s operating authority should come under review as a result of an established pattern of convictions.

The standing committee also recommended that increased emphasis be placed on the outreach or information role of the secretary of the board within the newly established office of proceedings.

I am pleased to report to the House that the board’s review and reorganization have both substantially improved its contact with the public.

I am also pleased to report that the board has undertaken a number of steps to promote greater public awareness of its activities. For example, it has recently published several statements of administrative policy, a brochure entitled An Introduction to the Ontario Highway Transport Board, and recently a report on class R regulations. Several more publications are now planned, publications dealing with the board policy on such matters as transfers, class H applications and standard formats for describing the various types of operating authority.

8:50 p.m.

The standards committee also recommended that the board publish the reasons for all its decisions. In our view, this would be of limited value because many of the 5,000 decisions made each year are made on a routine basis. As the law now stands the board is only required to issue reasons for its decisions when requested to do so by a party to the hearing. Nevertheless, the board is voluntarily increasing the number of decisions it issues to include those considered to be of general significance by the sitting panel.

Incidentally, in response to another recommendation of the committee, all OHTB members have been advised that their case books must be left with the board upon retirement or departure.

I would like to comment briefly on the procedure used when appointing members to the OHTB. On this subject, I refer members to the second report of the agency review committee, a report that was tabled in the Legislature recently. It recommended the government adopt a policy of three-year appointments with one renewal term. I believe that recommendation may not relate directly to the board, because in the past we have had members of the board and some present members of the board who have been there for a number of years and are serving the board very well. I am now referring to the one renewal term.

I would also remind members that a status report on the review of the board will be included and available this year in the OHTB’s 1979 annual report, which will be out later this spring. One of the main thrusts of that review has been a reduction in the complexity, length and cost of the hearing process itself. While the possibility of substantially reducing or simplifying the hearing process is limited because of the protections afforded parties by the board statutes in the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, I can say that progress is being made.

The most significant development in this area, and the one that holds the most promise for reducing the time and expense of hearings, is the board’s recently announced policy on the expanded use of section 8 of the Ontario Highway Transport Board Act which will permit a greater number of unopposed applications to be dealt with without a hearing. This policy has the greatest potential for reducing the number of board hearings -- by approximately 25 per cent, or some 600, a year.

In addition, MTC and the OHTB are currently taking a hard look at our existing policy regarding the transfer and sale of PCV licences as requested by the standing committee.

Finally, the committee recommended that members of the staff of all government agencies, boards and commissions be made aware of the provisions of section 110 of the Criminal Code of Canada which prohibits members of these bodies from accepting gifts and benefits. There can be no argument with that recommendation, because we recognize that the impartiality and integrity of any board, including the OHTB, must be beyond question if that board is to retain the confidence of the public.

I can also tell the members of an item that has been addressed during our ongoing review of the board’s legal and administrative procedures which was undertaken in September 1978. This point has been emphasized by our new OHTB chairman, Mr. Bruce Alexander, QC, both in public speeches and appearances before the standing committee. To this end, the board chairman has circulated a memo to all board members entitled Conflicts of Interest to emphasize the limitations placed on them in their dealing with any and all participants in the regulatory process.

I believe I have replied to most, if not all, of the recommendations in the report. The member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) referred to the changes in our legislation relating to policy directives from government to the board. That legislation, as he said, was changed. Since that time a number of policy directives by way of order in council have been passed and have been transmitted to the board, under both the Public Vehicles Act and the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. I am sure the honourable member has received copies of all those policy directives.

With regard to the matter referred to on page seven of the report, that matter is still with the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurty). As a matter of fact, I must inquire of him what its disposition will be. I have not received any report, yet from him as to the work being carried out by the Ontario Provincial Police on that investigation. I give a commitment to the members that I will follow this up with the Solicitor General.

The matter of an annual or semi-annual review of the practices of the board was mentioned by the resources committee. I do not know whether the committee meant a full-fledged hearing review. I think one honourable member did refer to a public hearing. It is my opinion that once every year during the discussion of my estimates the chairman of the board appears at estimates committee and openly and completely answers any questions the members have. I am not saying that goes as far as the honourable member had in mind as to bringing in outside witnesses, but certainly it does give the resources development committee as much of the time allotted to the estimates as it wishes to use to question the chairman of the board, myself or members of my ministry with regard to the operation of the board. It gives a very good chance to review current policies or changes taking place at the board.

If the committee should decide in its wisdom that it wants to have the annual report again referred to the board at any particular time to review, that is open to the committee and we would naturally be available for that.

Mr. Philip: That was not the recommendation. It has nothing to do with it. It is completely irrelevant.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t know whether it is irrelevant, but from the recommendation I am not sure --

Mr. Philip: The recommendation is very clear. The minister can read the same way I can. He knows what the recommendation means.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I am not sure I do. The honourable member himself asked a few minutes ago whether it would be annual or biennial, which is about as clear as mud.

Mr. Philip: That is what the recommendation says: Once every year or every two years there should be a public hearing. The shippers know there should be a public hearing.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I still think the annual estimates of the ministry gives an opportunity to discuss practices of the board. The committee has the power to bring the board before it for a review at any time, whether it be annually, semi-annually, every five years or whenever it so wishes, by so passing such a motion.

I think I have exhausted that. As the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) says, I have exhausted my notes.

Mr. T. P. Reid: And your audience.

Hon. Mr. Snow: The honourable member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) says I have exhausted my audience. I am not so sure about that, because I know he is very anxious to get on the floor and exhaust them some more.

9 p.m.

The member for Etobicoke referred to the position open in the ministry for a chief of motor vehicle control. The job description is to co-ordinate enforcement and field training; to co-ordinate standards, prosecutions, appeals and referrals to the registrar under section 27 of the Highway Traffic Act; and to maintain a liaison on operational matters with the Ontario Highway Transport Board, including the issuing of licences, filing of documents, et cetera. It is a new position at the staff level within the ministry to assist in improving our procedures in the enforcement area. That completes my remarks.

Report adopted.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the final report of the standing committee on public accounts.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I rise to suggest that what we are embarking on tonight is an historic occasion. It is timely, but it is frustrating as well.

It is historic because, to my knowledge, this is the first time in my 13 years in the Legislature that the report of the standing committee on public accounts has been debated in the chamber. The procedure formerly was for the report to be tabled, usually before the Christmas break, where it got swallowed up in the Yuletide affairs and was never heard of again. It is an historic and important time in that the responsibility and accountability for public funds, which is extremely important, is being debated in the chamber.

It is a timely debate because of two events. The first happened in Ottawa with the tabling of the federal Auditor General’s report yesterday and the remarks emanating from that, particularly in regard to the productivity of the federal civil service. It is timely also because of the remarks made by the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) today in regard to the tabling of the Auditor General’s remarks in Ottawa.

I want to make a comment or two about the remarks of the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet. They were so ridiculous, so misleading and so misrepresentative of what is going on in this province as almost to border on the fraudulent. This is the second occasion on which the chairman of management board has risen in his place like the sinner or Philistine or Pharisee in the Bible, saying, “Thank God I am not like those other sinners, Lord.” Those remarks by the chairman of management board were completely untrue. It is partly for that reason -- the mismanagement of public funds and of the various ministries of government -- that this party put forward a no-confidence motion a while ago, on which we voted on Monday.

I said tonight was historic and timely; it is also frustrating in two regards. One is that the chairman of management board, who supposedly is responsible for ensuring that public tax funds are properly spent and that we have due efficiency and economy for those funds, does not find it imperative to be in the House for this debate tonight. I see no indication that any senior cabinet minister who has any responsibility for the financial management of Ontario is here or is going to take part in this debate.

I also say it is frustrating because I see no one in the press gallery, and this debate I intend to speak in regarding responsibility and accountability to this chamber and to the taxpayers of the province, for the funds handed to us in trust, probably will not even get a mention in any of the newspapers.

I take back my remarks about the chairman of the management board, who I see coming in. I hope he will participate in the debate.

Mr. Nixon: Take back the part about him not being present.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes, that part only.

I read the chairman of management board’s remarks today in which he, with that touch at which he is so deft, said: “Those sinners in Ottawa! But we are so pure in Ontario.” He referred to the Ontario work force. He said: “On March 1, 1975, our total staff amounted to 87,109 people. As of December 31, 1979, the work force was down to 82,929, a reduction of 4.8 per cent.” There are almost 83,000 people on staff as public servants in Ontario, and we still don’t know the numbers of people who are on contracts or who do seasonal work in the province.

I would say to you, sir, if you want some edifying reading, you should look at the volumes of the public accounts in which the salaries and disbursements and entitlements of the civil service rare recounted. They go on in some instances for pages, particularly for the Ministry of the Environment and in the case of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

I received a letter from the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) a little while ago in which he indicated that, in the public accounts in the following year, they would not be listing the individual names of public servants who received more than $25,000 in salary. They have bumped that ceiling up to $30,000 because there were too many people receiving more than $25,000 to list in the public accounts.

I might say parenthetically, because I know you are not a man concerned with these matters, Mr. Speaker, that none of the members of this assembly will be found under that entitlement of $30,000 or over.

I have a point in making this remark, because I wish to dwell primarily on one aspect of the public accounts committee and on one aspect of our report. On page 25 of the public accounts report, it states: “The committee debated at length the problems of civil servants’ individual responsibility and accountability. The committee noted it was often difficult to pinpoint who had made that error and what, if any, action had taken place. The committee recommends that personal accountability for errors be more carefully defined.”

The dictionary defines accountability as “to render an account for trust moneys; to explain; to answer for actions taken liable to be called to account. The responsibility is a charged trust or duty for which one is responsible and answerable to someone.”

I want to say that in my years as public accounts committee chairman, and my view and knowledge of other areas, the one thing that concerns me more than anything else is the fact that there is almost no personal liability, no personal responsibility and no accountability for those people who are managing and controlling the finances of the province.

There is a myth, something called ministerial responsibility, which in a nutshell means, I suppose, two things: that there is a collective responsibility of the cabinet for decisions that are made, and that a minister is responsible for every employee and all the money that comes under his ministry.

That second concept is entirely out of date, as for two reasons particularly, in the Ontario context. The first one is simply that, with the great growth in the civil service, in the provincial budget, in ministry budgets where, for example, the Ministry of Health has a budget of $2.5 billion, it is inconceivable and ridiculous to assume that the minister can be responsible for a staff in that ministry of more than 1,000 people and a budget of $2 billion. Why should the minister be held accountable or responsible and perhaps even be forced to resign if something goes wrong in his ministry?

It comes to mind that the former Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, resigned a few years ago because of an action taken by one of the staff members in his ministry. He routinely approved a land subdivision that was under Mr. McKeough’s responsibility as minister, and I believe the person who had applied was some relative. Being the man of honour and integrity that he was, Mr. McKeough resigned. But we never did hear what, if anything, happened to the civil servant who had done that.

I have sat in the public accounts committee for five years, and time and again we have asked as a committee: “Who was responsible for these actions?” They were messed up mostly through incompetence: We have been very fortunate, because I think we have had very few matters of fraud in the province. But in trying to pinpoint responsibility as to who did the thing wrong -- so, if for no other reason, you can go to that person and say: “Look, you messed it up. Don’t let it happen again. This is what you have to do” -- the stock answer is simply: “I wasn’t in the ministry then. That wasn’t my responsibility. I wasn’t there.” In the case we were talking about in the report of the public accounts committee, it had to do -- Mr. Speaker, would you ask those members if they could keep it down a little?

Mr. Acting Speaker: Knowing the loudness with which some of remarks often go in here, I thought it was relatively quiet tonight and the House was rather orderly.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Perhaps then I could prevail myself on the members for Riverdale and Lakeshore to whisper at a lower level. Their comments are always so intriguing that I find half of me wishing to listen to their conversation.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Did it ever occur to you that what you have to say isn’t very important?

Mr. T. P. Reid: No doubt.

Mr. Acting Speaker: As the Speaker says from time to time, just ignore the interjections.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes.

The point in this situation had to do with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. It was a matter brought to us by the provincial auditor in his report. The auditor’s report is a litany year after year of the mistakes and foul-ups made by the present government, which prides itself on management. There were 100 in his last edition, and there are thousands we don’t know about.

But in this case, which was brought to our attention by the auditor, there was an $85,000 mistake made on a piece of property that the crown had owned and then sold on a tender basis to an individual. Somebody in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had made a mistake and sold the person more land than he or she should have. In other words, the survey was wrong. I said to the deputy minister, who I think is a very fine fellow, “Who did this? Who is responsible?”

Hon. Mr. Baetz: That is the first sensible thing you have said tonight.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I am not about to say this about the minister. I’ll get to him at the end of my remarks.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: I’m going to get to you too. You had better get a towel and wipe off the wet from behind your ears.

Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s fine. I don’t know whether to lower myself to his level or not. I don’t think I can get down that far; so I’ll continue with my remarks.

I might say to the minister that I have been here a lot longer than he has and I know a lot more about what goes on in this place than he does or ever will. From the performance he and his ministry people put on before the public accounts committee, if the Premier (Mr. Davis) were there, he would be out looking for a job right now. He probably will be anyway.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: You are just a big mouth and you know it.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I notice how parliamentary the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) always is. It really adds to the tone in this place.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Perhaps the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) will just ignore the interjections and carry on with the important matter with which he is dealing.

Mr. T. P. Reid: The point of this is that the deputy minister tried to tell me it was a computer error that had caused the loss of $85,000 to the province and the people of Ontario. I said to him, “Mr. Deputy Minister, somebody had to put the information in that computer so that it could come out the other end.” The deputy minister allowed that that was right. Somebody in the civil service had made a mistake.

Year after year the auditor’s report deals with that; yet nothing is ever done to the civil servants. We had Mr. Waldrum, the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, before us recently. Before that, we had Mr. Leal, the Deputy Attorney General. We asked him, “What do you do with intransigent employees? What do you do with people who disobey your orders?”

The response was, “Well, we don’t really do very much because of the arbitration procedure. If we put anything on anybody’s record, then he will dispute it and we will go to arbitration. It isn’t worth our while because we’ll get into this long, involved sequence of business and it winds up taking more time.”

Hon. Mr. McCague: I don’t think the member will find that is correct.

Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister can find it in the record. I would refer him to Hansard.

Hon. Mr. McCague: I have read it.

Mr. Mancini: After that shabby statement the chairman of management board made this afternoon which was totally wrong.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s a bit irresponsible.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: That’s par for the course.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The ministers will have an opportunity for reply.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I would suggest that the minister go back. There was a very clear indication. At one point, I believe it was Mr. Leal who said, “It is not worth the effort to go through that procedure.”

Hon. Mr. McCague: You are referring to Mr. Waldrum.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Leal said that. Mr. Waldrum also indicated that it was a very long and convoluted exercise and that there were no marks, if I might put it that way, against a civil servant if there was a problem.

I want to tell you something else, Mr. Speaker, that just boggles my mind. In fact, two things boggle my mind. One is that Mr. Waldrum informed us that they are in the process of setting up, if you like, truant officers in each ministry to ensure that civil servants come into work on time and, in fact, on some occasions show up for work. Who is running the store over there? These people generally, particularly at the higher management level and the middle management level, have to get truant officers for these people to ensure that they come to work, that they come into work on time or that they have a doctor’s slip. It’s incredible. These are the great managers of the Ontario economy.

9:20 p.m.

The other thing that was mind-boggling is we learned that the civil servants in this management group get an increase every year of six per cent, eight per cent, nine per cent or 10 per cent, but there is something else called merit pay.

We asked: “Mr. Waldrum, what is merit pay?” He said: “That’s for doing the job well.” I said: “I thought that’s what salaries were for,” and asked: “How many civil servants get the merit increase?” He replied: “I would say between 75 per cent and 80 per cent.”

I asked: “How many are fired every year?” He replied: “Maybe 29. Maybe 40.” Out of a civil service of 80,000-plus people!

I believe, and I have seen, that we have some excellent people in the civil service in Ontario. Some of them are so good they make some of the ministers look good on occasion, and that’s difficult to do.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: What a smart-aleck remark. The member is a big shot. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Where has he been all his life? He should grow up a little. What kind of a nurd is he?

Mr. T. P. Reid: Where did the minister have dinner? Or rather, what did he have?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: No matter what I had, I am going to throw up if I have to listen to that crap any longer.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Rainy River will please return to his subject matter.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I respectfully suggest --

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Look at him. He’s standing there with his hand in his pocket.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I wish the minister would come to order as well and let the chairman of the public accounts committee proceed.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: I will. But I wish he would get down to some common sense.

Mr. Gaunt: Do we have a truant officer for this place?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: He should get his hand out of his pocket and stand up. Who does he think he is, anyway?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the member for Rainy River please not invite interjections and return to his subject matter?

Mr. T. P. Reid: I haven’t said a word for the last three minutes; I’ve been letting the minister babble on.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I’m asking you to proceed and not give the others so much time to interject.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: He has offended the whole public service. He has offended everyone here.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister is completely disregarding your suggestion.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we are concerned about the individual responsibility and accountability because there is nowhere else in the legislative system in Ontario where that responsibility and accountability can come, except before the public accounts committee.

I say, and I’ve said this before, that the estimates are a farce in Ontario. They, apparently, are a farce federally as well.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s the opposition’s fault.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I agree with the honourable minister that part of it is the fault of the opposition. I agree. I’ve been here for years and very seldom is money ever discussed in the estimates. There are a lot of reasons for that.

I would suggest, to be constructive for the minister, that the time for estimates be cut in half at the very least, and that the time so saved should be spent among other things for legislation. The point is that the people of Ontario are not being well served in the system we have because the concept of money, and watching that money in the estimates, is not done well. The ministers and the civil servants are not prepared to talk about money when it comes to the estimates partly because the opposition members do not ask about it. But they should.

The point is that the whole system, the end of the system starting with the budgetary process and the estimates and continuing with accountability and responsibility for spending and handling of those funds comes to the public accounts committee.

I come back to the responsibility and accountability that we do not have in this system. Year after year we have the same ministries coming and we get the same answers, but we never hear what action is taken against the people who are supposed to be managing.

Remember the Glassco report of some time ago, Mr. Speaker. That was the great Bible at the time: “Let the managers manage.” The other part of that was that they must be accountable and responsible to somebody. What bothers me is that responsibility and accountability seem not to be existent in the public service to any great extent. The minister shakes his head. I respectfully suggest he read Mr. Waldrum’s and Mr. Leal’s comments and see how many people are fired. Nobody is here to hang anybody, but if we cannot pinpoint where the problem started in the first place how do we rectify it? How do we know that the matter has been looked after?

When I asked the Civil Service Commission, “Do you keep a record in your office of people who have been brought to order and disciplined or do you suggest a discipline?” they said, “No, we don’t.” They do not keep such a record. That is what I was told. Apparently it might happen in the individual ministries except for the fact that if a deputy minister puts something on somebody’s record it is grieved and the whole long procedure starts.

I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, and the minister’s, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Ralph Blakeman of whom we heard a great deal in the public accounts committee. This particular gentleman had a salary of $19,000 in 1972, and when he quit seven years later in 1979 he was earning $45,000. That is a fantastic increase that any member would be happy with. Yet he said, I believe to a Globe and Mail reporter, all he was doing was sharpening pencils and he was not happy with what he was doing.

There was also the case of Mr. Peter Branch from the Treasury ministry.

Hon. Mr. McCague: I think the honourable member understands both of those situations.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I understand them. I understand the nuances, but at the same time people who are not happy in the civil service, who do not feel they are accomplishing anything, are still getting salaries that most of the people who are paying their taxes in this province would believe are unreachable.

Let me tell the House what I would do. The minister talked today about management by results. The minister knows that exists in very few departments of the ministry. It is a concept, like zero-based budgeting and all the others that sound good, that is almost never practical to apply.

In the report, we read of management by results in the Ontario Racing Commission. We went into that fairly thoroughly. They were the first ones to admit that it was far from a perfect system, that a lot of things were very difficult to measure or quantify, and that we really had not arrived at it. Your statement today indicated quite clearly that this was being done holus-bolus across the civil service. Because we had this great management by results in place we did not have any worries and we were not like those bad feds up there. But I want to mention it, because the minister in his one rational interjection asked, “What would you do?”

9:30 p.m.

The Civil Service Commission, I understand, has now embarked upon performance appraisal. My problem seems to be, what is going to happen at the end of that road? The employees are going to be appraised on their performance, but then what happens? If a report is made to a deputy minister that so-and-so is not carrying out his or her function, that he or she has been warned repeatedly about absenteeism, about incompetence, about just straight inability to work at the level he is being paid for, what happens then?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: What would you do? Let’s get to specifics.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Listen, one has to do something. One is doing a disservice to these people and doing a disservice to the taxpayers of Ontario by keeping these people employed until in frustration they finally quit.

That was very obvious when we talked about Mr. Branch and to some extent about Mr. Blakeman. They were shoved in a corner; they were told to twiddle their thumbs; they were given make-work projects, and finally in frustration they quit. That is what happens. It was very clear. If the honourable members will read our report I believe that is mentioned in there. We will certainly be talking about that.

Now that the minister has cooled down, I will repeat what I said: I think we have an excellent civil service in Ontario. I think our deputy ministers are second to none anywhere, but as --

Hon. Mr. Baetz: That is not what you implied a while ago.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Certainly, that is exactly what I said. I said we had one of the best civil services in the country and I still say that. But the problem really lies, as I see it, in the sort of middle management group. I have talked to people in Ottawa and the same thing obtains there. This is where the problem is. These are where the salaries are and the responsibility and accountability should be, but there is something not functioning correctly over there.

I would draw members’ attention to the Royal Commission on Financial Management and Accountability. Again the minister got up and made a great spiel about how we were doing all those things already in Ontario. I have a word for that, and it is not hyphenated, which I won’t repeat, but that is not the case.

One of the recommendations in chapter nine of the Lambert report -- “Responsibility and Accountability for Departmental Management” is:

“The commission recommends that:

“1. Departmental plans and performance goals be developed for the minister’s approval by the deputy minister in his capacity of chief administrative officer and that the achievement of these programs and performance objectives be monitored and later reviewed by the board of management in a manner that would permit the deputy to defend departmental performance.

“2. Deputy ministers be liable to be called to account directly for their assigned and delegative responsibilities before the parliamentary committee most directly concerned with administrative performance, the public accounts committee.”

We do that to some extent. We get the deputy ministers in. I have noted quite a change in their attitude in the last six months -- maybe it is because of that gentle massage we have been giving them when they come in -- abut I must say their attitude and approach in the public accounts committee, to my mind, has improved immensely over the sort of noncommittal “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know,” with which most of them are very forthcoming. I think the committee appreciates that.

At the same time the Lambert report suggests most strongly that the deputy minister must be more responsible for the personnel and the actions of those personnel than they have tended to be in the past. Again, realizing the size of the departments and the size of budgets, it isn’t easy.

I repeat that there has to be more accountability and responsibility by the individual civil servant.

One of the problems any bureaucracy has, whether it be General Motors or the government, is simply that there gets to be too much empire-building. The concern for the most efficient and economic way to run a department sometimes gets lost. Also, the myth is still out there that this chamber somehow controls the expenditures of government, which, of course, we do not do.

A recommendation I think we should make in regard to that and the estimates, which would make them more relevant and put more interest in them, would be to allow the estimates committee to reduce, on a vote, a departmental estimate. I think that would make the whole issue much more relevant. Money would be discussed, the spending of the money would have to be defended, and, if reasons why that money should be expended were not forthcoming, then the committee as a whole would accept the responsibility and reduce that estimate or that part of the budget without bringing down the government.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Without reasons, as usual.

Mr. T. P. Reid: No. There have to be reasons. Obviously there have to be.

Hon. Mr. McCague: I asked you what you would do a while ago and you had no points. You still haven’t told me what you would do.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I just told the minister one of them that would make that part of the system more responsible. Part of the problem of accountability and responsibility is that there is no accountability and responsibility for the estimates at the second stage of the game, at the estimates committee.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That is your second point here. Earlier I asked you what you would do and you have not said.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) will have an opportunity to speak later. Will the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) please address his remarks to the chair and continue with the pith and substance of which he is to speak?

Mr. T. P. Reid: Thank you. I think I will respond, if I may.

Mr. Acting Speaker: But respond to me.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes, I will respond to you, Mr. Speaker. What I would suggest in that case -- and I will repeat it and underline it -- is that more performance appraisals with incentives and disincentives must be provided by the government. If somebody performs well, all right, give him a merit increase or give him or her the boost up. But not 80 per cent.

Also, if they are not doing the job, if they are not competent, if they are not being responsible, if they are coming in late -- truant officers; my God, it boggles the mind -- then that goes on their reports. If they want to grieve that, that is fine, but they do not get any automatic merit increase and they do not get any automatic move from step two to step three to step four and what have you. That is being done almost automatically in the civil service, and that is the problem.

Hon. Mr. McCague: My staff told you we were reviewing that and you agreed.

Mr. T. P. Reid: That is not what I was told. The committee was left with the distinct impression -- and if I recall it was Allan Leal particularly, and other civil servants to whom I have talked -- that the grievance procedure, the marking of a personnel record, is hardly done at all because of the problems related to it. The Civil Service Commission itself does not keep records of any grievances or any comments. It is all within one ministry.

We know the game that is played. You have a dunce in one ministry; you hope somebody else will take him. The Civil Service Commission, which presumably is dealing with the management level, does not know what is on these people’s records because it does not keep records itself, particularly if the deputy or whoever in the one ministry does not send the record to the Civil Service Commission.

I wanted to talk about empire building and the expenditure of money. I want to quote, if I may, from a bulletin from the United States House of Representatives. I would like to read it into the record because I think it is appropriate.

“Economy neither begins nor ends in the halls of Congress. Under the Budget and Accounting Act, it is the responsibility of the executive branch of the government to submit annually to the Congress the estimates of the amounts which officials in the executive branch feel are required to support the necessary activities of the government. The Congress reviews these estimates and decides the maximum allowance which must be appropriated for these various activities and the annual appropriation bill provides a sum so determined by the Congress.”

Here is the interesting part: “Appropriation of a given amount for a particular activity constitutes only a ceiling upon the amount which should be expended for that activity. The administrative official responsible for administration of an activity for which appropriation is made bears final burden for rendering all necessary service for the smallest amount possible within the ceiling figure fixed by the Congress.”

I underline this: “Every official of the government who has responsibility for administration of a program must assume a portion of the burden for the deficit in the federal treasury.”

That is a concept I would like to see here. I am sure the minister will protest that it is already here. In this day of restraint there has been some progress. But in the terms of economy and efficiency under the Audit Act, I wonder -- and maybe the minister can reply -- whether there is an incentive for a deputy minister or those in charge of the financial programme to operate frugally, economically and efficiently. Is there some kind of disincentive -- the carrot and stick approach if the minister likes -- if they don’t operate in that way? I would like to hear whether that happens.

Due to the interruptions I have gone on longer than I intended. Since the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) is here and in such a good mood, I want to bring to his attention what happened in the standing committee on public accounts in regard to the Royal Ontario Museum.

At one time I thought it was a classic comedy act, a sort of Laurel and Hardy, a Mutt and Jeff act, with the minister and the Royal Ontario Museum. I believe everybody on the committee and probably everybody in this House realizes the value of the Royal Ontario Museum to Ontario and Toronto, but the misunderstanding, the complete lack, it seemed, of communication between the minister and the Royal Ontario Museum was almost without precedent.

It wasn’t until the matter regarding the Royal Ontario Museum was raised in this House that the minister wrote to the chairman and said, in effect, “What is going on up there?” We then had the Royal Ontario Museum appear before the committee to find out what was going on. They have appeared three times, the last a month or so ago. I want to relate for the minister what happened. I hope he will clarify this, both for the members of the public accounts committee and for the chamber at large, because I believe he is giving them something like $9 million this year.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: As usual you are away off in your figures. You are millions out. For a chairman of a public accounts committee you should at least be within the ball park.

Mr. T. P. Reid: We are talking particularly about the building program and the expansion of the museum.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Even after the matter of the expansion program and the vast sums of money involved, originally $44.5 million, even after two or three hearings before the public accounts committee and all the correspondence that presumably flowed back and forth between the chairman of the ROM and the minister, at the last meeting of the committee we had the chairman of the ROM saying that the minister had given him an umbrella understanding that he could proceed with all phases of the expansion program and that the minister would provide under this umbrella all the necessary funds even -- if I recall correctly -- if Metropolitan Toronto did not contribute.

Then we called forward the Deputy Minister of Culture and Recreation, who gave us the contrary opinion that it was not his understanding that, in fact, the minister had made this blanket assertion or given this blanket approval and that, in fact, there had not been an umbrella guarantee but the same arrangement was prevailing as per a letter that the minister, no doubt, will quote from.

I hope tonight the minister will be able to tell us, for our edification, just what the arrangement was between the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ministry of Culture and Recreation for provision of funds for the expansion of the museum.

I have gone on at some length and there are others who are anxious to speak. I would hope that now we have started to debate the report of the public accounts committee, this hopefully will be an event which will happen every time the committee report is tabled.

I have spoken somewhat philosophically this time without going into many of the particular matters raised in the report but I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to thank the members of my committee who have worked with me on this and particularly our researcher, Miss Martha Fletcher, from the library, who has been of great assistance to the committee.

Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, I am a little inhibited to rise to my feet after the rough ride the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) gave the chairman of the public accounts committee. Being a retiring individual, I sort of back off, but despite the fear I have of the minister, I intend to say a few words.

The words of the public accounts chairman about the case he was relating to -- the Royal Ontario Museum expansion fund -- were entirely true. The Minister of Culture and Recreation had no idea what was going on in the Royal Ontario Museum and we still don’t know. We still haven’t found out the exact status of the --

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Why doesn’t the member read the paper? What does he want me to do? Does he want me to draw pictures?

Mr. Germa: We can’t get the news out of the paper because we can’t even get it from the minister or from the chairman of the Royal Ontario Museum. That is part of the frustration of sitting on a public accounts committee.

I have been there for some considerable period of time and at one time I was chairman of the public accounts committee and I do understand the frustration of the chairman in his remarks.

As was said earlier, this is the first time the report of the public accounts committee has been debated in the Legislature. Of course, we really don’t know what kind of debate should pertain. Usually these are set speeches and people know exactly what to speak to but because this is a new event it’s wide open for discussion. I’m sure the members of the Legislature who have not had the privilege of sifting on the public accounts committee are really not sure what the public accounts committee does or what their responsibilities are or their mandate is.

Maybe we should just take a look at a little historical background of the public accounts committee. I believe the first public accounts committee in the British parliamentary system was formed in 1861. That was the only watchdog of government expenditure at that time because there was not even an auditor on the staff in the United Kingdom at that time. The committee itself was charged with the responsibility of watch-dogging the expenditures of the government. It wasn’t until 1866 that an auditor or controller was appointed and the system developed since that time.

In Canada, for instance, there are very few hard and fast rules as to the activities of the public accounts committees. They vary from province to province. In fact, some committees are appointed and never call a meeting, so it’s quite a free-wheeling operation as it relates to practice in Canada.

9:50 p.m.

In Quebec, for instance, between 1966 and 1974, the public accounts committee did not hold one meeting, so the members can see how ineffective that committee must have been. I do not know why they would bother appointing a committee that never sits. Some of the other provinces meet sporadically.

Some of the provinces appoint government members as chairmen and the members can readily see what will happen if the watchdog is a government member. In fact, one province appointed the Minister of Finance as chairman of the public accounts committee. Imagine what kind of watchdog he was. It would be like biting his own hand to investigate himself.

I hope that the members realize and appreciate what a fine committee we have in Ontario. We have had three successively fine chairmen. It just happens that I was in the middle, and I think that is why the public accounts committee in Ontario has made such progress. They are probably the most effective public accounts committee in Canada.

I am sure everyone has read this report. It is quite interesting reading and a lot of work went into it. I enjoy my work on the public accounts committee because of the nature of the people who come in front of the committee can have a world tour just sitting on the public accounts committee when we call in a royal commissioner and he talks about losing typewriters in Vienna, losing a tape recorder in Paris, paying a bill for $900 for a lunch including about 14 other people in Zurich or some place.

We sit there and question people about all this equipment, inefficiency, waste and sometimes theft. Thieves sometimes come before the public accounts committee. The auditor finds all sorts of indiscretions when he is examining the global budget of the province. When we are looking at in excess of $13 billion, there are people in Ontario -- luckily not many; I hope not many -- who have no regard or very little regard for the public purse.

Once in a while the auditor catches one and makes a notation or a citation. Then it is our responsibility as the public accounts committee to interrogate these people and try to get to the bottom of the situation, who was responsible, where was the lack of control that led to these moneys being pilfered, wasted or whatever. The auditor, in doing his audit, is charged with looking at the economy and efficiency of spent dollars.

The Audit Act should have read that value for money should be what the auditor is looking at, because value for money is not the same as economy and efficiency. In the new Audit Act in 1977 we did at least make a little progress in that the auditor has to consider economy and efficiency. Since the act has been in place for only about two years, the staff is probably not really geared up yet. It is going to take a little training to evaluate the economy and efficiency of money expended. I hope that as time goes on the auditor’s office will be able to report more accurately on the economy and efficiency of public dollars.

After five or six years on the public accounts committee, I believe the greatest problem as far as control of funds is concerned in Ontario is the expenditures by boards and commissions at arm’s length to the Ontario government. The people who are on these boards and commissions -- I think we all know who they are -- are all Tory ex-backbenchers or Tory hacks of one sort or another scattered all over Ontario. There are some 300 -- at last count 332. Did anybody ever find out how many boards and commissions we have?

Mr. Sterling: A lot more than that.

Mr. Germa: A lot more than that. I counted 332 at one time. Here we have 332 boards and commissions spending taxpayers’ dollars with certain autonomy. Some of them don’t even understand their responsibilities. Those are public dollars. When they are appointed as the president of the crown corporation or the chairman of the board or agency, they have a duty and a responsibility to be accountable to the people of Ontario through the Legislature.

You would be surprised, Mr. Speaker, how long it sometimes takes to get that through the person’s head, the president of the crown corporation or the chairman of the board or agency. I recall one person we had in front of us who wasn’t used to governmental procedures. He had run a private railway and was kept on after the railway became a crown agency. He was still used to the old days when he was a privateer, responsible to hardly anyone except the guy who owned the railway. It took two solid weeks to get that fellow to understand he had to answer questions because that is now a publicly owned railway.

We have a right to know why the money is going out the door. How come the gas pumps are open from Moosonee to Toronto and every employee just drives in and picks up free gasoline? He thought he didn’t have to answer. But after two weeks in which he whined and cried, he said, “I just want to go home and run my railway.”

I had to remind him once again: “That is no longer your railway. The people of Ontario now own that railway. Will you answer the questions for the people of Ontario? Then you can go home and run my railway for me and for us.” It took a long time.

One of the frustrating things is getting answers from these people. They don’t understand they are responsible to the Legislature and have to answer the questions. We had another incident of the same attitude with the president of Ontario Place Corporation. He was the president but he accepted no liability for the theft that went on of $485,000.

It was just lack of management, lack of direction by the board of directors appointed by this government. He accepted no liability. There were no rules of procedure which would prevent the theft of that amount and allow the theft to go on for such a long period of time. It wasn’t one grab at the pot; it was a continual grab over a period of years.

When we had the president of the corporation in, he didn’t accept any liability. We made a recommendation that the legislation should be changed to ensure these people know and are held liable and responsible for expenditures of public funds. That is the same position the chairman of the public accounts committee was taking as far as civil servants arc concerned. It’s lack of responsibility that causes a lot of the problems.

There is another frustrating thing about the public accounts committee. We are talking tonight about the report of the provincial auditor of March 31, 1978. It’s always after the fact. We’re talking about expenditures in 1978, and this is 1980.

By the time we go through the process and call in the person responsible for the loss, theft or whatever, he has been promoted sideways or upwards, or he has retired. We can never get the person in front of the committee who was the actual person who did or did not do what the auditor is criticizing. Members would be surprised how many times they use the excuses, “That’s before my time,” “I don’t know where he went,” “We can’t get at him,” “We forgot his name,” and everything else. We go around in circles.

10 p.m.

The minister has all wisdom. Sometimes we call him in because the civil servants are not capable of answering for another civil servant who has long since gone. Almost to a man, it is another hopeless case when we get the minister in because he’s got other and bigger things to do than to worry about this $100,000 loss. He’s out spending another $1 million, and this was all spent two years ago. Very often it was before he was the minister because there’s a lot of movement and sliding around there. I think that’s part of the political success of the Conservative government.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I think that’s their strategy. It’s hard to hit a moving target.

Mr. Germa: Yes, it might be. It’s hard to hit a moving target. These guys move pretty fast.

Mr. Bounsall: They just want to sleaze about in the cabinet.

Mr. Germa: We, on the public accounts committee, are doing good work and I think we’ve made wise recommendations because we go into the problem in depth. We do make recommendations which I presume the ministers look at but then do not act on.

There are still some recommendations in the provincial auditor’s report that haven’t been acted on since 1975, and yet there is no explanation forthcoming from the government as to why they do not do what we have recommended. They just sort of ignore it. They can’t criticize it because it’s probably too wise, but they don’t feel like doing it, so they don’t do it and there it sits.

For instance, we suggested that when fraud is detected in the Ontario Student Assistance Program there should be a penalty, or there should be some mechanism to force recovery. There is a lot of outstanding cash in the student awards program, money which was paid out on account of fraudulent applications, yet the government of Ontario doesn’t see fit to go after that money. It might only be a few million dollars and in the big picture of $13 billion it’s not very much, I’ll grant you that, but to me $1 million is a big dollar.

I would like to recover every dollar that was fraudulently taken out of the revenues of the province of Ontario. Despite the fact that recommendation was made several years ago, on two or three different occasions, there is still today no warning when a person is signing that application that a fraudulent statement would lead to a criminal charge. The situation continues.

The report of the public accounts committee, I think, should be scrutinized by the Legislature. I think the people in the Legislature will get a better insight into the expenditures of the province. I particularly commend the recommendations to the ministers involved. I would ask that each minister take a look at what belongs to his department and if he can’t implement what we’ve recommended, why doesn’t he tell us why and show to us where we are wrong? Then we’ll know we’re not just waving our arms in the wind but that they are giving consideration to some very serious recommendations.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the two previous speakers who were members of the public accounts committee. I must admit that probably of all the committees I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on, it’s the one I haven’t really got into. I think I would enjoy it.

I share with the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) some of the concerns that he expressed and, in particular, the one in relation to some of the agencies, boards and commissions we have in our province and the control over their financial structure. Unfortunately, when you look at some of those agencies, boards and commissions, what happens is the provincial appointments of those boards is very minimal.

Take, for instance, the conservation authorities we have in our province. They make up, I think, 38 authorities which are included in those numbers we talk about all the time. The province provides about 60 per cent of the financing for conservation authorities but we have very little total control over what the authority becomes involved in. It is difficult because the member municipalities make up the membership of the authority and the executive is drawn from that membership.

I look at another one, Ottawa-Carleton Regional District Health Council. Although the Lieutenant Governor appoints those individuals, all the recommendations come from the health council and they are nominees of the council itself.

Moving to some of the concerns the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) might have in relation to the report, I would like to make a few comments in relation to specific recommendations. On April 10 the Deputy Attorney General wrote to the clerk of the committee in response to the particular aspects of the report, and I refer to section 11 on page nine, to section 19 on page 16, to section 20 on page 16, and also to section 11 on page 26.

I would like to refer the Legislature to a statement made by the Attorney General on May 11, 1979, in response to a question about royal commissions. The issues raised in the report of the standing committee on public accounts come down to one issue -- the independence of the royal commission versus the control over the expenditures that are made by that commission.

Once the expenditures of the commission are controlled for the time that it sits, for the legal staff it may hire, the inference is that the commissioner is being controlled by the government at that stage and that the independence of the commission is lost.

Mr. T. P. Reid: He surely has a responsibility for reasonable financial practices.

Mr. Sterling: Yes, that is true, the commissioner does have a responsibility for reasonable financial practices and the guidelines for royal commissions have been updated.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Thanks to the public accounts committee.

Mr. Sterling: Yes, I think the public accounts committee can take some credit for that. I think one function of the public accounts committee is to make those recommendations.

I could go on in terms of the specifics of the report but, as I mentioned to the members of the committee, they can obtain the detailed response that was written to the clerk of the committee in response to the recommendations outlined here. I would only be reading it into the record, and I don’t think that is necessary at this stage.

The problems with both the judicial system and a royal commission are similar in terms of their open-endedness in expense. When one runs into the judicial system, one doesn’t know how many people are going to be in court or using court facilities. When one sets up a royal commission, it is difficult to determine the time the commissioner is going to need to handle a particular problem, or the scope of the problem.

With those comments, I conclude my remarks.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I have a few brief comments as a new member of the standing committee on public accounts who came in at a point close to page 21 of this report, and who therefore participated in only a small portion of the deliberations on which this report makes comment, but now also back on that committee and involved in the deliberations this year.

10:10 p.m.

I would like to make a couple of brief comments that I think are appropriate in terms of the overall functioning of the committee. First of all, I have had an opportunity to take a look at the operation of the public accounts committee in Ottawa. I have also read very briefly about the operation of public accounts committees in the United States. This matter of accountability keeps coming back.

I was very interested in the interjections of the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) earlier this evening, because I was engaged in debate with him in another committee yesterday afternoon on a matter of accountability of a publicly funded agency. I thought it was a good debate -- because I thought I won it -- but on leaving that debate I thought the minister understood the matter of accountability and understood how ministers of the crown are responsible for activities and expenditures within their ministries. I was a little concerned that his comments this evening suggested the good feeling I had yesterday afternoon may not have been well-founded.

I have noted that there is in general an absence of ministers appearing before the public accounts committee. I understand it is the responsibility of the committee to investigate behind the minister into the goings-on within the ministry and to call before the committee the staff responsible for those expenditures to investigate why things have been done in certain ways. I also believe there are many areas where the committee touches upon policy. I want to suggest through you, Mr. Speaker, to the chairman of the committee and to the House, that the ministers very often are responsible for that policy.

On the occasions, I have been sitting on that committee, I have only seen one minister appear before it and that was the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) on the matter of Minaki Lodge, which is contained within this report. I commend the minister for coming before that committee and expressing to it his views as to the policy directions and the problems, and for taking responsibility for the things going on around him in his ministry.

I for one would like to see ministers appearing more often before the public accounts committee, because I do not want to put the civil servants directly on the spot for policy problems that exist within their ministries. It is not their job to stand up and justify the policy decisions made. It is certainly their job to explain them to the committee, to explain the background, to explain what is going on. I do not challenge that, but I think the overwhelming majority of civil servants, as was said earlier, are doing an excellent job. I feel awkward about having to put them on the spot for bad or incorrect or incomplete policy decisions made by their ministers. I would like to urge the ministers of the crown to consider that and to consider coming before the public accounts committee with their staff to support them on a greater number of occasions.

The second point I wish to make relates to the operation of the committee itself. The committee is very concerned with cost effectiveness and with the way time is spent and jobs are done. I would like to make the comment to the chairman that I am not convinced the committee on all occasions is working as efficiently as it might be. There is a tremendous amount of material in the auditor’s report and in the public accounts themselves, and there is a tremendous amount that the committee should be enquiring into in order to ensure that the accountability of government expenditures to the people of Ontario is there and is seen to be there.

I do get a little bit worried when occasionally a discussion dealing with, for example, expenditures in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications or the Ministry of Industry and Tourism extends into dealing with whether there are washrooms on the Queen Elizabeth Way. I have some serious doubts about whether the public accounts committee should be spending its time talking about washrooms on the Queen Elizabeth Way as it did at its meeting last week.

I want to take this opportunity to raise that point and to suggest some cost efficiency in terms of the time of members and the time of the civil servants who come before the committee. I really hope the chairman will take that to heart and find a mechanism for ensuring that the committee focuses more closely on its job because there is a tremendous job there to be done to ensure there is accountability to the people of Ontario. Let the other committees deal with the washrooms. There is plenty of scope, as I am sure members realize, for talking about how many washrooms there should be on the various highways around this province.

I do want to say, in summary. I really have enjoyed my meetings with the public accounts committee. I am looking forward to serving on that committee for a long time in the future. I commend the report of the committee to the House.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate and in particular, to compliment the last speaker for the really constructive comments he has made regarding the operation of the committee which, in my personal opinion, are absent many times when I read and hear about the activities of the committee. I think the chairman is trying to do an honest job. I think he knows what his mandate is as chairman of that committee. But he seems to have, if the transcripts are right, which I presume they are, a tremendous time keeping discipline in that committee.

For instance, when the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) and the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) enter a debate as to who is getting the most time in the committee, or say, “You are infringing on mine” or “I am infringing on yours,” I can’t for the life of me see what that really adds to the debate. I think the chairman of the committee, who has been there for a long time, would agree that the government has done a more than reasonable job at implementing the recommendations they make that they know make sense.

Some of them, granted, don’t make sense, but I don’t deny there are politics in the committee. I know what this House is all about. I would say to this chairman and to the members of that committee that where they are good recommendations, I think they will find they will be implemented by this government. I must say we really welcome those suggestions. It is well to have another view of the points the auditor highlights. It is valuable that those opinions be given to us for our consideration. A lot of good points are made.

I have noticed that when a statement has been made that members opposite don’t particularly like to hear made, such as the one I made today about the civil service, they keep chirping away over there. That is their way of making sure that whatever side a member might be on, he is not heard by the assembled crowd, sometimes not even by Hansard. They didn’t like what I had to say today, but it is time and the honourable members know it is true. If it is not politically acceptable to them, I understand that.

This province has done an excellent job in the control of manpower. One member asked how many were contract people. We have just over 82,000 on our count. That goes up in certain seasons of the year to slightly over 100,000. At those times, there are 15,000 to 18,000 contract people. But the members know it is true and they find it very difficult to acknowledge that.

10:20 p.m.

Since I came into this House, and long before, there has been a lot of talk about the percentage increases that our civil servants get and the merit increases a good percentage of them get as well.

I think the honourable members know the merit increases are a result of moving up one category more within the classification. I, for one, will admit that that in the past has been too automatic. I think that Management Board of Cabinet and the Civil Service Commission are working on a correction of that. We are getting into performance appraisal.

The member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) mentioned incentives. I personally think that is an idea which makes a lot of sense in government. I don’t think it has ever been tried in government. It is a private sector kind of thing that really is very difficult to implement across the government.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Isn’t that what your merit system is supposed to do?

Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s right. I have acknowledged it is a move up in classification and that it may well be a little too automatic. I think we have to get into some form of performance appraisal, which we have started. We will start from the top down and hope that in two to three years it will be implemented all across government.

Mr. Nixon: At the very top.

Hon. Mr. McCague: We’re talking about the civil service.

Mr. T. P. Reid: The voters will decide on your performance.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Sure, and there’s no doubt about the outcome of that either, no doubt at all.

Mr. Nixon: Why doesn’t the minister vote with us on these no-confidence motions?

Hon. Mr. McCague: No, no.

Mr. Ruston: This fall, eh, Mr. Minister?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, that would be a good time --

Mr. Ruston: It’s going to be called in the fall, if not before.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s your bet.

We are trying to implement, on a gradual basis, an incentive proposal right across government. As I say, it will probably start from the top down and merit will be given where true merit exists and not where it doesn’t. One of the problems we have is that’s a very common thing in the private sector which makes it very difficult for us to compete with them in attracting the best possible people. We have done well up to this point but I think the gap will probably widen.

It’s interesting to note that Mr. Macdonell in his report indicated the top people in government at the federal level were not being paid enough.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Nor are they here.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That could well be.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Nor are the members.

Hon. Mr. McCague: I thought you would put in a word for yourself while you were at that.

It is very popular for the committee to take a whack at the odd problem that we do have with discipline. The Blakeman case comes up time and time again. I have heard it in this House -- how many times? -- 25 times in reading committee reports. Those situations are very difficult.

The opposition has every right to criticize what appears to have happened in these instances. At the same time, if the opposition are criticizing us for what we do, I think they also know that we have to honour accepted employment practices such as appeal procedures.

People are not happy with the decisions of arbitrators this year. Sometimes they are not happy with the decisions of the Ontario Municipal Board, the tribunal, but you have to live by those kinds of decisions. I think it behooves all of us either to go along with the system we have -- which I think everybody in this House recognizes and appreciates -- or to change the system, and that takes all of us to do that.

Mr. Nixon: Just a majority.

Hon. Mr. McCague: We will soon have that.

In summing up, I would just like to reiterate the responsible comments that were made by the member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs) that the more responsible the points made by the public accounts committee, the more likelihood of this government implementing them.

I have read some of the member’s accounts of his committees. It appears, and I think even the chairman would have to agree, that a lot of times somebody is in there from a ministry, even a minister, and that’s an opportunity to minister-bash or civil-servant-bash, if that’s the way one wants to put it. I have noted the questions that have been asked: people saying to an employee or a deputy minister they don’t know anything. That’s not the way to get things done. I think we all recognize that is so. Scold them sure, but if one wants to treat them in that way, I suggest the committee is going to be a lot less effective and it is just not going to get a good job done. If the recommendations are good, we will implement them.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, it has bothered me for some time that this chamber has not been much of a deliberative body. We have had set pieces in the throne speech debate and so on, and there hasn’t been the exchange of ideas and people listening to each other. Tonight I think we have had that function of deliberation among us and I thank everyone for their contributions, including the minister, because I think his comments were, in most instances, very well made. I will pass them on to certain members of my committee.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: When the chairman speaks, it concludes the debate. We do have three minutes and if it won’t be seen as creating a precedent --

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Sure, let’s hear him.

Mr. Nixon: I just have one point that concerns me from the report. I have read it rather carefully but the matter has been with us now for some time. That one point is the unconscionable amounts we have to pay the lawyers and professional consultants whom we hire for our committees and for our royal commissions.

It has occurred to me that the government might very well establish a special class of people learned in the law who are prepared to assist committees and royal commissioners at what we would consider a reasonable rate -- let’s say something really low like $100 a day. Those people then could be considered as having served in a certain special way, in a thoughtful way, the community at large. They might then be considered for recognition as Queen’s Counsel.

I really think there is nothing the matter with that. To hand those QCs out simply to warm lawyers who have been out in practice for 11 years and who phone the right person, is really no good. I would like it abolished, but perhaps we could say -- and very responsible people have mentioned this besides myself -- that we could recognize some of these lawyers who actually do serve the community in a very special way and make them QCs. I think we might save some money at the same time.

Report adopted.


Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 28, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) has expressed his dissatisfaction with the response to a question from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton). I will hear the honourable member for up to five minutes.

Mr. McClellan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the minister for joining us for the debate this evening.

The question I have raised on two occasions is a very serious question, and I am raising it again this evening because there are a number of things I simply do not understand. We have asked the ministry whether there has been a change in policy with respect to funding services to children with learning disabilities under the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act.

The minister has referred to a court decision. We have subsequently learned that it was the ministry itself, through the director of vocational rehabilitation services, who appealed to the divisional court of Ontario against a decision of the Social Assistance Review Board, which overturned the denial of assistance to a Stewart Alexander Mekler.

10:30 p.m.

One of the things I do not understand is why the ministry is appealing against Social Assistance Review Board decisions in the first place. That seems to throw into question the integrity of the board and call into question the ministry’s own attitude towards this appeal structure that it itself has set up.

I placed a question on the Order Paper to try to determine how many times this has happened. The thing I really do not understand is the nature of the arguments that the ministry’s lawyers raised in the divisional court. The Minister of Community and Social Services talked this afternoon about a legal nicety. What the ministry’s lawyers did was go into the court and argue that the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act was restricted to such narrow terms that it did not apply to the provision of financial services to children with learning disabilities.

I am reading from page four of the decision of Mr. Justice Osler in the Mekler case here he summarizes the argument of the ministry’s lawyer. It was the submission of Mr. Marshall, on behalf of the director of vocational rehabilitation services, that the scope of the act was restricted to the rehabilitation of disabled persons so that they might enter the work force or change their classification.

The ministry argued that the act was restricted to those two criteria and, therefore, by extension, the act was restricted from providing financial assistance to people who were trying to obtain learning disability services. That challenges the very heart of the ministry’s program of providing financial assistance to children with learning disabilities.

I do not have to remind the House of the problem. The Ministry of Education has been promising for years to provide funding to school boards, so that they can provide the services as part of the regular program. We were given the promise in 1977 that there would be a program in place in September 1977. It is now 1980, and the Ministry of Education still has not brought in draft legislation. The legislation that exists talks about a five-year phase-in.

From the time of the first promise in 1977 until the full implementation of the Ministry of Education’s program, we are talking about eight years. We have been battling on this issue for 10 years now. The Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act is the only single vehicle which enables the government to provide financial assistance to children who have learning disabilities.

We know what a hassle people have gone through to get that service. We have fought that battle every year in estimates too. We also know that 60 per cent of the appeals to the Social Assistance Review Board have been successful against denied applications. Now the Mekler decision calls into questions the board’s capacity to hear appeals. The board has been using the Mekler decision as a justification for denying appeals.

The Minister of Community and Social Services has created a real mess. I want to know why he did it and why his lawyers argued the way they did. Finally, I want to urge the minister to amend the regulations under the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act so that they state clearly and unequivocally that the act is going to have the capacity to provide financial assistance to children with learning disabilities, so that nobody in this province is confused about it.

Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am particularly sympathetic to the last point the honourable member made because I am sure there are few people in Ontario who are as confused about the situation as he is.

I answered his question this afternoon. I assume either he did not listen or he did not take the opportunity to read Instant Hansard on the answer, because this evening he raised some of the same issues that I answered this afternoon. I think it is almost bordering on abuse of the rules of the House to have such a debate as this tonight.

I will reiterate, in response to his questions, there has been no change in policy on the part of my ministry with respect to the issue or the matter of provision of support to learning-disabled children under the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act. That is the simple, clear answer to his first question.

The second question was why did the ministry appeal? The ministry appealed on a specific issue, not the issue the member is waffling around about.

Mr. McClellan: I am not waffling. I am just quoting.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Just listen, please, if you want the answer and want to understand it once and for all.

The issue was, does the law of this province as it exists at present require us to ask of a person who is applying under the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act whether he has a vocational goal as part of his plan. That was the issue that was before the court. The court said “Yes.”

We weren’t talking about a child in this case. We were talking about an adult, a 20- or 21-year-old man who applied, Mr. Mekler. The answer of the court was, “Yes. The law says a vocational goal is a necessary part of the plan.” That’s the answer to the member’s second question, which was what were we appealing about.

Ms. Gigantes: Why do you appeal?

Hon. Mr. Norton: You ask why we appeal. We have to live by the law of this country or the law of this province the same as anyone else. If there is some question about the interpretation of the law, the appropriate authority to turn to for a decision is the court. That is why the appeal was taken to the court. There may have been some extraneous arguments made by counsel from the Attorney General’s ministry, I don’t know. I wasn’t present in the courtroom, nor have I read the transcript. I have read the decision.

The court is the body to determine the meaning of the law of this province. The member is saying, “Why don’t you avoid that?” I have to live by the law.

Mr. McClellan: It is a regulation. You can change the regulation.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I have to live by the law that was passed by the Legislature of this province.

Mr. McClellan: It’s a regulation.

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, it’s still the law of this province.

Mr. McClellan: It’s a regulation. You can change it.

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, it’s not. To eliminate what the member would like to see eliminated would require a change in the legislation. It is not a regulation change. I have had numerous legal opinions saying that what would be required if it were desirable to eliminate that goal requirement would be a change in the legislation.

I think it is important also that the member bear in mind there was no reference in the decision to the board’s capacity to hear appeals. He threw that up again as another issue. In fact, the judge in this case, after he found that a goal objective was a necessary part of a plan, didn’t say that was the end of it. He referred the case back to the director and said, “Have another look at it and decide whether there was a goal objective and whether the program that the person was seeking to pursue in Philadelphia --

Ms. Gigantes: What is the vocational objective of a six-year-old?

Hon. Mr. Norton: -- was, in fact, a vocationally oriented goal. The court made the decision that it was necessary to have that goal. The problem arose only in this. I believe the case was narrowly interpreted by the board. I told the member this afternoon in considerable detail what I decided, what I directed my staff to do and what I advised the board. I don’t control the board. It is an independent body. I advised them of a policy decision with respect to children to avoid the problem that they might determine that a child, by virtue of pursuing an educational goal related to a learning disability, was not pursuing a vocationally oriented goal.

As a matter of policy, I determined with my staff that for those children who have learning disabilities, learning to read and to write and the other appropriate goals of that stage of their education were a pre-vocational pursuit in order to avoid the kind of problem the member is concerned about. So what he is really fighting is a straw man. The problem does not exist. He is trying to create, in whose mind I don’t know, something which has already been taken care of by a responsible ministry and a responsible staff in my ministry.

Mr. Speaker: The minister’s time has expired.

Mr. Warner: We still have to fight the government.

Mr. McClellan: Methinks he doth protest too much.

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, all I’m saying is that the member doesn’t understand the decision and doesn’t understand the legislation. He should sit down and take the time to get some advice from the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) so that he knows what be is talking about.

The House adjourned at 10:39 p.m.