31st Parliament, 4th Session

L061 - Thu 29 May 1980 / Jeu 29 mai 1980

The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.

House in committee of supply.


On vote 603, local government affairs program; item 1, local government:

Mr. Chairman: Does the minister have any further comments in reply to the opening remarks?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No. I think, Mr. Chairman, we are quite past the opening remarks. As I recall, we are on vote 603 today. You gave me heart failure for a minute. I thought we had reverted to the beginning.

I apologize. I have a slight case of laryngitis today. I hope my voice can hold out for a while.

When we were concluding the other day, I was making some remarks in answer to the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who was being half-ruled out of order by the Chairman at the time. In my pursuit of the matter, I think perhaps the matter he raised was one concerning my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea). However, I did a little looking into the matter he raised.

The particular development, as you will recall, Mr. Chairman, concerned a so-called condominium conversion in Etobicoke that my friend was talking about. On looking into the matter we found that the particular developer the member had been referring to had converted several buildings in different municipalities from rental accommodation to what we colloquially call phoney condominiums. I do not know whether that is the proper term or not but this is the information we gathered from the staff in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

I am not sure exactly how the scheme worked, but buyers apparently were sold an interest in the corporation and given the use of an apartment unit when they bought that interest. This type of conversion, incidentally, circumvents the Condominium Act, according to the ministry, under which a condominium owner buys a unit with an interest in the common elements. In other words, if he is buying a condominium, that is what he is really buying. It also circumvents the Co-operative Corporations Act under which a member buys a share in the corporation.

What I understand, Mr. Chairman, again from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, is that the Condominium Act was amended in June 1979 to prohibit this sort of activity. However, these other arrangements that had occurred before were not affected. Therefore, nothing could be done for the ones that had already occurred, in so far as legislation was concerned, for those particular condominiums, or pseudo-condominiums, phoney condominiums -- whatever you want to call them, units -- but the act was amended to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.

I also learned that the municipalities cannot enforce condominium conversion bylaws for the buildings where this arrangement had already occurred. However, they can now hold the registered owner or owners of the property responsible for compliance with municipal maintenance and occupancy bylaws, so there might be a way that the municipality could bring some action to bear on those condominiums through that particular route, but whether that could happen, I am not sure.

The borough of Scarborough, incidentally, Mr. Chairman, adopted a policy of prohibiting condominium conversions in 1975. The borough did process 13 applications for conversion that had been made prior to 1975 and only one of these was approved. Incidentally, I seem to recall the member for Etobicoke talked about one of these problems having occurred in Scarborough but I cannot find any record of one of these so-called “phoney conversions” occurring in Scarborough. Our quick checking with people did not bring this to light.

Mr. Warner: The one on Sheppard?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, not of this nature.

Mr. Warner: Sheppard and Kennedy?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, we checked with the borough of Scarborough; they said they could not recall one that had occurred in Scarborough that was similar to this Etobicoke one that the member brought up. In fact, Scarborough brought in, as you will recall, a bylaw prohibiting condominium conversions, then set a lot of conditions that had to be adhered to, and I think Scarborough has the matter under control. As far as I know, there was not an occurrence similar to the one in Etobicoke. However, if my friend has other information, I will be glad to look into it a little further.

Really, I do not think I can deal with it any further than that, Mr. Chairman, because, basically, it is the kind of subject I think could be discussed more under the estimates of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Mr. Chairman: I believe the previous chairman stated that this should be discussed under another ministry, which has just been confirmed by the minister.

Mr. Philip: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: The point I was making was that this is the municipal grants vote, and this ministry takes some of its funds and is funding the municipalities. Municipalities, such as Scarborough and Etobicoke, are faced with an extremely difficult enforcement problem that is the cause of this end run around the condominium conversion bylaws, and the legislation passed under the Condominium Act has not solved the problems of those buildings that were in the process of being converted, in fact, there are additional problems created for the municipalities in terms of enforcing their bylaws and property standards because of this mixture of a building that is half converted, or partially converted and not really converted.

Inasmuch as Scarborough, in fact, has just passed the bylaw and certain standards, it is allowed one grandfathering, as I understand it, of a building in spite of passing the Condominium Act. Since this minister is the one responsible for this kind of policy and is liaising with the local municipalities in dealing with such problems, that is why I brought it to the minister and why, I believe, the minister, quite rightly, looked into the matter and brought back some information for me under these estimates and not under the estimates of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

I would simply like to ask him a couple of additional questions in response to the comments he has just made and I ask your decision on that, Mr. Chairman.

8:10 p.m.

Mr. Chairman: The honourable member certainly makes a point in suggesting that the minister should make comments and the minister, of course, has done some work in replying. If the honourable member could be very brief with it, fine.

Mr. Philip: Fine, Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief. The minister has reported back in a historical sense, except that the problem we are now facing is with those buildings which are partially converted and because of the Condominium Act may not continue that conversion process. We find a number of people who do not have any control over a building in which they bought a percentage interest.

I’m suggesting to the minister that unfortunately under the Condominium Act, despite motions or amendments posed by me and this party and voted against by the Liberals and the government, we are now finding ourselves in a position where a number of buildings are not condominiums, cooperatives or rental buildings. They are a mixture with which the municipalities are having problems.

I’m suggesting to the minister that there may be areas into which he can look that would provide possible remedies to this problem. What happens when the owner of the building is not prepared, for whatever reason, to bring his building up to the condominium standards? This has happened in Etobicoke where Mr. Von Teichman went to the borough, the borough said, “Fine, we will consider a condominium conversion if you bring it up to these standards and here are some of the things that you must do,” and he never reported back to the borough.

When we have a situation like that, which is just impossible for that municipality to deal with, are there other remedies? Could we negotiate with the landlord to purchase the building? If that cannot be struck, perhaps under the Housing Development Act, section 1 -- I’m not the housing critic so I’m asking for the minister’s advice on this -- we could expropriate the building where an agreement can’t be reached and either sell it back to private enterprise or to the Ministry of Housing and refund the money to those people who have invested their individual sums in a building that is not a condominium, where they have a percentage interest but no say or influence on a building that is gradually deteriorating.

They are neither tenants nor owners and surely there must be some remedy to get these people out of their predicament. Perhaps there are other ways of doing it. I would appreciate the comments of the minister.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, there are a couple of things I could say. I appreciate that there are problems here but I’m not prepared to say how the member could get out of these problems. What this really boils down to is an individual matter concerning a problem in my friend’s constituency. It’s a problem that I understand, if I am correct, my colleague the minister has already corrected in so far as the future is concerned. Is that not right?

Mr. Philip: Nobody can any longer do it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s right. Nobody can do it any longer. The other thing that has to be said is that at some point, there is a certain onus on people who buy property or sign leases and so forth to consult their own lawyers. The government can’t look after them completely and extract them from every problem they encounter, particularly in the real estate field. I think my friend would agree on that.

I can’t tell the member anything more. I certainly don’t think the idea of the municipality expropriating the building and selling it back is a very sound or logical one. I don’t know whether there is an avenue under the maintenance and occupancy standards the municipality has with which it might be able to enforce something; that may be a possibility. But I did not have time to look into it in the kind of depth that would give a complete answer.

I still am not sure that it really is the responsibility of this ministry to get into that aspect of the problem. It is probably Consumer and Commercial Relations that would be concerned with the redress that the people in that unit might have to try to get out of their problem. If there is any way the municipality can assist them through the things this ministry would be concerned with, we could look at that part. But we are not the consumer advocate or the Consumer and Commercial Relations part of the operation in this government.

Mr. Chairman: I believe the minister has again stated that it should really come under the Consumer and Commercial Relations estimates.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Chairman, if I could speak to this vote, I might be able to illuminate for the House the depth and dimensions of this problem. It is one that is growing. There are ramifications not only for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs through the Municipal Act, but for the Ministry of Housing, through the Planning Act. The very least of all is under the Condominium Act, except that in the public perspective I am left with the very difficult task of trying to pick up the pieces. These schemes are, to put it in the most euphemistic manner, the most nefariously concocted of modern times.

Mr. Makarchuk: They have had some really nefarious ones.

Hon. Mr. Drea: When I explain to the member how it is done -- and I am sure the member for Etobicoke will indulge me because I do not think the other members here are quite as familiar as he or I, and I have discussed this with him -- to get around the Condominium Act, past or present, and this is the real reason to get around rent review, one does an end run to avoid a formal conversion of a premises that is tenant-occupied. That is important, because under the Landlord and Tenant Act the tenants cannot be evicted unless they purchase themselves for their own use.

To get around the condominium standards of the municipality and to defeat the Landlord and Tenant Act and rent control, one does this end run. One sells not a condominium, not a co-operative, but an interest in common. In other words, there are 100 units and one then becomes a one one-hundredth owner of an entire complex.

In the beginning -- this was started in my riding in 1975 by Mr. Von Teichman. I give him great credit; he’s a very distinguished solicitor. This is known as the Von Teichman Scam. The member laughs. The member for Etobicoke was in my office. I would look at him and say, “You know what you are doing.” He laughs, he thinks it is hilarious. Why not, he wins every time.

What happens is the people buy the interest in common. Then they go to move into apartment one or apartment two. It is very clever. They haven’t bought apartment one or two. There is no title. They have an interest in common. At first they thought the courts would evict. Notwithstanding all the great legal advice, we took it to court, or at least we were part of the court proceeding and we won. They told us 1,200 years of common law couldn’t be abolished. But we won. One can’t be evicted.

Gradually as people move out of the building, the other people come in. They honestly think they are buying a condominium. Then comes the great day when all the mortgages are coming due and they are being told they are going to lose their entire investment and the municipality is after them because they are not up to standard. The member is quite right, they are neither fish nor fowl.

8:20 p.m.

They go to their member. Their member comes to the minister. I have two choices. I can take the hard line and say, “You should have known what you were doing,” et cetera, et cetera. But when I look at those people who are of modest means and have literally nowhere else to go, and since I know the implications of foreclosure or their investment going down the drain, I haven’t got it in my heart. I have to look at that guy, Von Teichman, who laughs because he knows exactly what the government is going to have to recommend and what the municipality will do.

This brings up three problems. Number one is what about the protection of the tenants who are in the tenant-occupied buildings? If we were to give an open sesame on this, we will have eliminated the Landlord and Tenant Act. If we run through a caper like this, they are all evicted. Obviously, we cannot allow that, and that has been tightened up -- the member is absolutely correct -- and it can’t be done any more.

Secondly, if we were to go the other route, and we have done this with the municipalities, there will not be a conversion to a condominium without the written consent of the council. No more can they say, “We are neutral,” or anything else. This has been the case for some time. We have to protect housing stock, and that has been a concern of ministers of housing.

Here I am, meeting with people, and they are not rich people, and I can ask them why they bought. They bought because it was a lower price than a condominium. Obviously, that is so, since they were buying an interest in common. What do you do? The guy beats us every time. We plugged this; we thought we had plugged it so nobody would be doing it again. He is doing it today. I have had to go out and crack down on the real estate people and everyone else and tell them that, “You are to tell those people individually that they are not buying unit 1 or 2; they are buying an interest in an apartment house, and tell them all the problems that they are going to face.”

What is going to happen on the latest series? Those people are probably still going to buy, and three, four, five years down the road, if it is not the member for Etobicoke it will be the member for someplace else, in my office or the office of the minister at that time. What are you going to do? This is a very real problem. Sure I think we can do something about the six, eight or 10 that were sold prior to the change in the Condominium Act, except what do you do when the real owner of it, the real owner who holds the mortgages says, “No, sir, I am not going to improve the property. I won’t bring it up to the standards required by the municipality, because in the end you people are the ones stuck with the foreclosure. You can raise the money to bring it up”?

The municipality will feel as sorry for them, as will the minister, and it will be legitimized. The unfortunate part in that is that in the end all of those little people won’t be able to raise the money. They are out their entire investment.

I wish I had an answer other than to try to persuade the municipality to take a longer-range view, so that the improvements could be done in phases, but sometimes they are so bad they can’t be done. I suppose there is an onus upon me, if I want to stop this type of operation once and for all across the province, to make some horrible examples, but I really don’t have it in my heart to do it to little people. If it was a big investor, I would assume they knew what they were doing, but we can’t do that.

I have been working somewhat informally with the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), and perhaps we can plug a bit, but the basic difficulty is that we cannot prevent people from buying an interest in common in a multiple dwelling. A lot of people don’t buy a whole apartment house; they buy a quarter share. It is not the same thing, but to plug the loophole totally we would totally take away the right to buy interest in common, which would be devastating on the commercial market.

As I say, it is a very nefarious scheme because when it comes full circle, a member of this Legislature or somebody from a municipality and myself or another minister have to sit in a room, and look at ordinary people, and know we are going to wipe them out if we insist upon the letter of the law. At the same time, the legal mind that originated it all sits there in the room, as he did with the member for Etobicoke and me, and just grins from ear to ear. He didn’t care what I called him, he didn’t care what I thought about him, because he has won all the way. It is a very lucrative practice, and unless we take a hard line at least on the future ones, we are going to have it in virtually every large municipality in the province.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to raise a similar issue to that to which the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) replied. That is concerning an individual home, where the owner of that home refuses to maintain it and absolutely nothing can be done. In fact, the municipality, in an attempt to overcome that problem in the city of Windsor, has introduced a private bill to give it authority to tear down that home. I think it is incumbent upon the minister to have general legislation that would overcome that problem.

I raise this issue as the result of an article in the Windsor Star just one week ago. It shows a picture of two homes, side by side, one maintained in practically spotless and perfect condition, the home right next door abandoned. I will read only a portion of the article so it will give the minister some idea as to the problem the municipality of Windsor is being confronted with more and more.

This is the case of Christine Lomas and the article reads: “Christine Lomas is fed up with the eyesore next door to her well-kept Moy Avenue home. She has a sense of pride in her home. Christine Lomas has spent 45 years keeping her Moy Avenue home neat and well-maintained. Like most of her neighbours, Mrs. Lomas, a widow for more than six years, takes a great deal of pride in keeping up her home but one neighbour doesn’t feel that same pride. For the past six months, the house next door has been a constant problem, a firetrap and an eyesore. The home at 1632 Moy Avenue has been unoccupied since last fall.” The article continues from there.

Is the minister not considering legislation that might overcome this problem so that the municipalities do not have to introduce private legislation to give them the authority to demolish that home and charge that up against the property? This case of Mrs. Lomas is either the third or the fourth one I have been confronted with in the last year. May I have the minister’s reply to a situation like this?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to look into it. I have not had any particular cases of this nature brought to my attention recently. I think the member makes a good point. It may be one of those cases where a private piece of legislation for the city of Windsor might be a good way to test out the validity of the principle.

I recall in the city of Toronto a while ago they wanted to have the authority to bring in a bylaw to be able to control what colour you painted your home. I would have to say to the member that I do not approve of that kind of thing. I think that’s going a little too far in government legislation. Someone thought it would be nice that nobody could put a purple door or pink shutters on his home that might clash with the rest of the homes on the street, and the municipality should have the power to be able to approve the colours you put on your home.

I can recall when I bought my home I wanted black shingles on the roof. The architect and the colour consultant to the guy doing the subdivision decided the homes on my side of the street should have light shingles. I ended up with light shingles even though I wanted black shingles, because they decided it looked better to have one side of the street with one colour and one with the other. That’s going a little too far but I think the member makes a point.

Mr. Haggerty: Do you have a blue lawn?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No. I have a green lawn. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any lawn at the moment in the back. But the point is well taken.

Mr. Nixon: A swimming pool?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No swimming pool. The trees have grown too large and now the lawn has died. The member makes a good point and I will be glad to look into it.

Mr. B. Newman: I will pass this on to you, Mr. Minister, and your officials can look at it. It is a growing concern in the municipality, especially with landlords who disappear for the time being. There is nothing the municipality can do other than introduce private legislation.

8:30 p.m.

They have a bill now that is going through the review stage and will eventually -- possibly next week -- be introduced formally into the House for action by some government committee. We hope it has the minister’s blessing so that that committee wouldn’t hold up that portion of the bill. The municipality wouldn’t abuse the legislation, but at least it would have authority to come in, tear down the building and level off the ground or put it up for sale and have the money held in some bond or something of that sort so that the real owner of the place could get the money he has invested. I will leave that with the minister.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I do have a bill on the Order Paper at the present time which I should draw to my friend’s attention. It is Bill 5, which would allow the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to do that with unoccupied homes on the Toronto Island, but I gather that bill is not getting very great consideration over there.

Mr. B. Newman: This is a completely different situation. I hope when the Windsor bill does come up that you will have your officials review it and you will give your blessing to that portion of the bill at least. I know the balance of that bill will not be contentious. It should get through the House without any difficulty.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It hasn’t got the three-year term in it.

Mr. B. Newman: No, they don’t have that in it this year. That was last year’s Windsor bill that wanted the extension of the term of elected officials set at three years rather than two years. It still is a good principle and I know that sooner or later you are going to put it in. I shouldn’t say sooner or later. If you don’t, we’ll come along and see it gets into legislation.

The next issue I wanted to raise with the minister is the grants provided to municipalities for the provision of certain types of services. In the present instance, the city of Windsor is spending approximately $300,000 a year for providing police protection in the provincial courts. It is a provincial court that is being given protection by municipal police. There are provincial police in the county, and the municipality thinks it is incumbent upon the government either to absorb the costs for providing that service in the police courts, or to provide the service itself by the provincial police.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has been meeting with some municipalities to look at this particular problem. I know the problem. The problem is that the municipalities are using members of their own police departments to maintain certain services in the courts and they are saying the courts are under provincial jurisdiction and provincial employees should be in the courts.

We’ve been dealing with Metropolitan Toronto particularly, on this. If we get right down to the bottom line, it is a matter of whether we have some more dollars in our budget to provide that service in the courts in order to free up the municipal employees. All I can tell the honourable member is that the Attorney General has been looking at it. It comes under his budget because he would have to supply the personnel in his ministry to take the place of the people who are now provided by the municipal police forces. The Attorney General would have to provide those people for the provincial courts.

Mr. Pukacz did a detailed report on this whole matter. I believe he recommended that the province assume the responsibility, but we haven’t done anything on it up to now because the resources haven’t been there.

Mr. B. Newman: There is a simple answer for that. All the minister would have to do would be to increase the unconditional grant to a municipality by the extent of the cost of those services. Then we would not have to worry about this minister and the Attorney General fighting as to whose responsibility that would be.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, that is not the point. What I take it the member is suggesting is that we employ the people. In other words, the Ministry of the Attorney General would have to increase the staff on the provincial courts to assume the responsibility so those policemen could be taken out of the courts.

Most of the municipalities we have talked to need those policemen for other services so, in fact, it would be a case of adding more personnel. One cannot reduce the number of people or just switch people. Maybe that is not the case in Windsor but certainly it is in Metropolitan Toronto, where they want more policemen out on the beat.

One of the places they can get those policemen is by taking them out of the court service and putting them out on the beat, if we would fill the vacant slots with provincial employees. So it is not just the simple matter of giving greater grants to the municipalities. I do not think that is the problem at all.

Mr. B. Newman: If I may, the city of Windsor has passed a resolution to that effect. They are asking either that these services are policed with OPP officers or the $300,000 be provided to the municipality which would pay for the 10 constables, the 10 police who are used to provide these services to the provincial courts. It is either doing the one or the other. Essentially, the bottom line is $300,000. The minister can provide the $300,000 or provide the services himself.

The next issue I want to raise with the minister is the Ontario Youth Employment Program. I am not going to bring up the issue of laying off an individual and bringing on a younger individual into the program so that the employer can save $1.25 an hour on the new individual. But I look upon the municipality of Windsor with more than 20,000 unemployed today. Job opportunities are very short. I think, with a municipality that has above a certain index of unemployment, the minister should try to create more job opportunities for our youth because many of these youth, unless they have that summer employment opportunity, are not going to have the opportunity for post-secondary education.

I know the minister would like everyone to achieve to his or her maximum potential as far as secondary or post-secondary education is concerned. But limiting the job opportunities to the number that have been assigned to the city of Windsor by the youth employment program is not good enough in view of the numbers of unemployed there are in Windsor. It is an extremely critical situation and some consideration should be given to increasing the Windsor allotment so that opportunities are greater for our youth.

May I have the minister’s reply?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sorry. I am not sure that I completely caught all of the member’s point. Was he suggesting there was a limit on the number of positions that could be created in the area of Windsor under the Ontario Youth Employment Program?

Mr. B. Newman: Yes, I am suggesting that. So the program maybe would have to be modified in some way to enable these students, by having the opportunity to work, to get into post-secondary education eventually or even in that same year.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, the answer is there is no geographic limitation. In other words, every employer in the Windsor area that submits under the plan will be considered. There is no quota for the Windsor area per se. There are certain quotas for individual employers but there is no geographic quota for Windsor. So, technically, everyone in the Windsor area who wants to take part in the program can take part.

Mr. B. Newman: There may not be any geographic area and no limit to the number, but the types of programs are limited; as a result, the opportunities are limited. So the guidelines for the program may have to be modified to be able to encompass or include many more students in the community.

8:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be quite interested in hearing the type of program for which an employer is not eligible. I think we have made it as broad as possible. It can be small businesses; we have included private schools this year if they wish to undertake a program; farmers. If my friend has an illustration of some employer who is not eligible, I would be happy to hear about it.

Mr. B. Newman: I do not have. I cannot come along and say that. However, when there are a limited number of opportunities for the regular employer in the community because of the downturn in the automobile industry, it would naturally follow that the opportunities would likewise be as limited.

There are many companies in the city that probably could have used you. They won’t be able to because their doors are shut. With well over 20,000 adults without work in the community, there must be some way the minister’s officials could get their three heads together and come down with some kind of program that would accommodate the larger numbers in Windsor who will be unemployed this summer.

The other issue I want to raise with the minister is the grants to municipalities for library purposes. The minister is aware that the grants have not increased since 1977. They have been at the same level, $1.80, since 1977. The cost of books for libraries has escalated dramatically. It is at least a responsibility of government to see that the level of funding or the provincial grant be according to the cost of providing these books compared to what it was three years ago.

I would assume, and I am only assuming, there must be at least a 50, perhaps a 75 per cent increase in the cost of books to the libraries. It would really be appreciated by the libraries as well as the readers if the libraries were able to afford many more books. They cannot because of the substantial increase in the cost to the library boards of providing books.

May I have the minister’s reply, Mr. Chairman?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I was just checking to make sure my recollection was correct -- library grants come under the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. The library grant is not in our ministry, but I would be happy to pass along the information and I am sure the honourable member would be happy to bring it up in that minister’s estimates.

You will recall, Mr. Chairman, there was a report on grant reforms a few years ago and that report suggested that conditional grants, such as the library grant, which was a per capita grant, somehow be worked into a total, unconditional grant given to a municipality, which would then decide how it would finance its libraries. We have not done anything on that matter because most of the library boards in this province felt deconditionalizing the grant would be a step backwards.

I cannot argue with the honourable member that it would not be nice to have a greater library grant; I think everybody would like an increased grant. It is just a matter of budgetary accommodation.

Mr. B. Newman: I don’t think I have wasted my effort on the minister. As long as he relays it to the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) and he gives it favourable consideration, I would assume that my library would be more than satisfied, as would many other libraries in the province.

The other issue I want to raise with the minister is that old chestnut in the city of Windsor, his resource equalization grant. The minister has shortchanged us a substantial amount over the last few years and I think it is his responsibility to see that we get it. He owes us that money from previous years.

It is all right for the minister to come along and make an ad hoc grant to the municipality, which is appreciated, but the minister has shortchanged us for so long that there should be some catch-up on his part. It should be phased in so that at least the taxpayers in the city of Windsor would not have been disadvantaged over those many years as a result of the minister’s shortchanging.

The taxpayers have had increased taxes as a result of the shortfall that has been imposed upon them by using a formula that was not fair in the first place. This was pointed out to the government and to the previous provincial Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, in 1975 in the city of London if I’m not mistaken.

The minister has made provision for ad hoc grants but the minister has not, by any stretch of the imagination, caught up with the amount of money the minister is owing to the municipality. If the municipality owed the minister that money, I’m sure he would have seen to it that he was repaid after some fashion. He would have shortchanged us in something. Now the shoe is on the other foot and we are anxiously waiting for the balance of the money owing us over the last period of time. May I have the minister’s reply?

Mr. Conway: How can so many friends be so niggardly?

Hon. Mr. Wells: When I look at the things that we have done for the great city of Windsor, I think of the grants to the Ford Motor Company for its new plant, the provincial share of that plus the money we are going to spend on the infrastructure that was necessary for that plant -- I don’t think the member can say we have been niggardly to Windsor. My friend puts up a good case and represents -- as do all the members for Windsor -- the needs very well of that area, and the mayor speaks to me regularly.

We all know that over the years the point has been made that the resource equalization grant somehow deprived Windsor of money they should have had. With the new equalization factors it looked as if the bonanza was about to arrive. Rut a general application of those equalization factors in their purest form would not have been beneficial to the total province. In fact, they would have given Windsor all that money it believed it should have got and saw coming but in so doing it would have taken that money away from a lot of little rural areas.

Mr. Cooke: It would have made it fairer.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The question then arises in my mind: Is that really fairer or not? I’m not prepared to say at this time that it would have been. We were prepared to look at the case and not to let Windsor get less money this year than it got last year. In fact, I think it got about $1 million more this year. As we look for the new system that will be put into place this July, we are still going to have to look for the system that is going to bring the total kind of equity that they believe.

But at this point, given the money that we have and in the total application of those equalization factors, I’m sorry we can’t do anything more for Windsor than we have done. We even have had to get that little bit of extra for them this year in the way of an ad hoc grant.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: I wonder if the member for Windsor-Walkerville has much more. There are a good number of other people and your last four questions started off with “The other question I wanted to ask.”

Mr. B. Newman: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have the one question yet to raise with the minister on the resource equalization grant.

We appreciate what has been done when the minister provides us with grants. The only thing is the minister has owed us money from the past by shortchanging us. The minister is not developing some type of formula to see that we get those amounts that the minister has owed us over the number of years.

8:50 p.m.

Our tax structure in the municipality is that much higher because the government has not provided what we were entitled to. An error was made, not by this ministry but by the previous Treasurer, which has never been corrected. All the minister has done is develop an ad hoc arrangement to give us X number of dollars. I would appreciate it if the minister would develop a formula so we could get back at least what his ministry owes.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I found it interesting that the member for Windsor-Walkerville talked about the problem of dealing with poor housing in his community when I was thinking about raising some issues about unorganized communities in northern Ontario. As the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) will agree, although I know he is working on it we have not yet been able to find a foolproof method for applying the building code in any of the unorganized areas of northern Ontario. This is a very serious situation and one I hope we will be able to rectify soon.

What I want to raise with the minister is the whole question of these local government studies that are being carried out by his staff in various parts of northern Ontario. I wonder if be could tell us how many such studies have either been completed or are in the process of being completed. I think there are about 10, and two of them involve areas of my riding. One is a very large area known as the Sault north, which includes Montreal River Harbour, Batchawana, Goulais River, Searchmont and Heyden, and is 70 miles by road from one end to the other. The other one includes the area which is partly organized and partly unorganized from Iron Bridge to Blind River. The Sault north study has been completed and the minister has given assurance that the government will not proceed until there is a demonstrated desire on the part of the residents of the area for organization and I appreciate that.

I wonder if he could tell me the status of the other study I mentioned in east Algoma, in the Iron Bridge-Blind River area. Could he also tell me how many other studies he is carrying on or his ministry is carrying on? I know there is one in the Hearst area, but could he give me the areas and the numbers and the status of the various studies?

Hon. Mr. Wells: The studies in northern Ontario at the present time are: There is a Blind River area study. There is one in Geraldton, and there is the Hearst to Smooth Rock Falls study. There is one in the Kenora area, plus the one in the member’s own area. I will try to give the member a quick rundown. In 1976 the town of Blind River asked us to undertake a study of possible annexation of the surrounding unorganized areas. A draft version of the report was circulated in 1977. The final version of the interim report was published in May 1979. A financial analysis of the annexation recommendations in the interim report was recently circulated to the local councils and residents in the unorganized areas. When all of the reactions are received -- two meetings have already been held and there are likely going to be more -- the final report will then be prepared and this should be completed during the coming summer months. That is where the Blind River study stands at the moment.

The Hearst to Smooth Rock Falls study came about in response to requests from the towns of Hearst and Smooth Rock Falls and the townships of Shackleton and Machin. The ministry initiated a study of local government in the northern portion of the Cochrane district in 1977. An interim report was published in 1978 and presented a number of options for altering municipal boundaries. After analysing the responses, the ministry published a final report in May 1979 recommending a major extension of the boundaries of the town of Hearst and smaller extensions of the boundaries of the town of Kapuskasing, the townships of Shackleton and Machin, and the town of Smooth Rock Falls. The report also included a financial analysis which indicated the effects of the proposed boundary changes on property tax.

The proposals are still being discussed with the municipal councils and the residents of the study area. Nothing has happened at this time, so we are waiting for a further response on those.

Then there’s the Geraldton study. In 1976 the community of Little Longlac applied for annexation to the town of Geraldton as a means of solving a servicing problem. In response to resolutions from Little Longlac and Geraldton, the ministry deferred a hearing of the application and instituted a local government study instead. A report was published by the ministry in 1979 recommending that the town’s boundaries be extended to include two entire unorganized townships, including the community of Little Longlac and the southern portion of two other unorganized townships.

In releasing the report in September 1979, I said it should not be regarded as government policy, but invited interested residents to send their comments on the report and other submissions on the future of the area to us by January 1980. These submissions on the report in the Geraldton study have been coming in, and we are now analysing them.

I think you know where we are in the Sault study.

Mr. Wildman: I thank the minister.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The hard work concerning the Sault one is finished.

Mr. Wildman: Yes, I know.

I would like to raise some further questions regarding one other community in an unorganized area that the minister has just had some recent correspondence about. That is the community of Missanabie in the northern part of Algoma. The minister might find it rather ironic that in many cases I know, when his staff looks at an area and decides that perhaps it should look at the possibility of organizing that area, many of the residents of unorganized communities, although not all, are not too interested in organization. But in this case we have an unorganized community that desires organization.

I know probably his staff would argue this is not true, but it often appears to people that his staff would like to have more organization for many good reasons. In this particular case where you have a community that wishes organization, the minister’s staff does not want it organized.

The very small community of Missanabie has applied to become one of those strange animals we have in northern Ontario called an improvement district, a quasi municipality which is a kind of halfway house, somewhere between an organized township and an area without municipal organization.

It is interesting when you look at the comments made by the minister in explaining his position regarding the OMB hearing. The community has applied for an OMB hearing to determine whether it should be organized. The minister has written to the OMB saying he is reviewing the situation and he would like the OMB to put off any hearing of the application until that review is completed. In the meantime he has written to the action committee in the community, which was elected by the residents, and informed it that he has asked the OMB not to proceed with the application for an incorporation to an improvement district.

9 p.m.

He talks about the economic outlook for the area, but then he goes on to say: “The establishment of an improvement district could impose a heavy financial burden on all the households in the community. There would of course be provincial grants to the municipality, but there would be substantial local costs for a municipal office, a clerk-treasurer and especially for services such as water, sewage treatment, fire protection and roads.”

I find that really ironic because I attended a number of meetings in the Sault north area, one of the other areas I mentioned, in which a consultant hired by the ministry went to great lengths to try to prove to the local residents in that area that organization might be marginally a little bit higher in taxes, but really wouldn’t cost a lot. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on which position you take, the residents did not believe it in that area and did not want to organize.

As the minister knows, the question of water and sewer -- not so much sewer but certainly water -- and fire protection and roads are of major concern in the community of Missanabie. They would like to provide those services because they used to be provided by a private company which is no longer operating in the area. We had a sort of short-term agreement with the Ministry of Northern Affairs over the winter and with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, with some involvement from the Ministry of the Environment to try to help provide those services. That was just an ad hoc, interim type of thing. It is really up in the air as to who will now be providing them and who will be responsible.

Also, I am under the impression that an improvement district gets extra assistance from the ministry as opposed to a township council in terms of administration and extra grants. At least that is something the improvement district of White River was always being told and tried to argue when there was an argument in that community about whether or not it should agree with me that it should be erected into a township. Fortunately, we were able to convince people there that it would be better to have an elected council than an appointed one. We have had one for a year now. It has worked very well, and the people are satisfied with it.

I know the minister’s position is that Missanabie should look at the local services board legislation of the Ministry of Northern Affairs and that should be what Missanabie should do. He points out that the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) wrote to the action committee on February 15, 1980, indicating that the formation of a local services board would meet the needs of the community more closely than an improvement district This minister agrees with the Minister of Northern Affairs and I agree that minister did say that.

I can also point out to this minister that on June 4, 1979, the Minister of Northern Affairs wrote to Mr. Newman of Missanabie, one of the people on the action committee. He said, among other things:

“Unfortunately, there are some communities that may be unable to utilize the proposed local services board program to their benefit. You may be correct in identifying Missanabie as one of those communities.”

There seems to be some lack of assurance on the part of the Minister of Northern Affairs as to whether the local services board concept might work in Missanabie. At least that was the view the local people had when they received two comments from the Minister of Northern Affairs over a period of about eight months.

Right now, we have a situation where the water system needs to be upgraded. The agreement on roads will probably be continued -- I hope it will anyway. But the water system needs to be upgraded before next winter or we are going to be in the same kind of bind we were last fall and over the winter when we had to scramble to get some assistance from the Ministry of the Environment and from the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

I won’t go into the details of that. It was a very bad scene. The Ministry of Northern Affairs and especially the Ministry of the Environment dragged their feet for a long time on doing anything in that community. It just wasn’t a satisfactory approach, but I don’t think we should be going into that in these estimates.

I really would hope the minister would expand on his reasons for opposing this, taking this rather unusual approach compared to the approach his ministry usually takes with regard to local organization, local autonomy, local decision-making, of local residents taking the responsibility to govern themselves and run their own show.

All the arguments that have been used to try and persuade residents of unorganized areas to become organized seem to be being ignored in the Missanabie case. To say the least, you seem to be a little selective in your arguments in this situation.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I want to assure you that our staff have only been trying to be helpful to the area. We feel that if there’s a need to organize, to provide services, we certainly would be the first to believe that an area should organize and we look for the proper guidelines and the proper legislation under which you can organize.

The staff tell me that Missanabie is a fairly small place and the population is too small and the resource base is too limited to provide the kind of tax support for an organizational base such as you have suggested. A local improvement district, in reality, doesn’t get any different taxes from a township in the north. The taxes from the province would be just the same.

I was wondering why they hadn’t considered setting up some kind of organization under the local services board legislation. It would seem to me that of all the vehicles, the local services board legislation of the Ministry of Northern Affairs would be the logical one for them to take advantage of. Then they would get matching provincial grants for various services, and so forth. I think that would be a good place for them to begin. But we think it would not be very good for them, at the present time, to organize as a local improvement district.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, if I could respond, there are two things I’d like to say. First, the resource base is not very good for Missanabie, simply because the Ministry of Natural Resources refuses to give them any of the timber land in the area. There’s lots of timber around. But I know this minister doesn’t have any say over that.

I would think the reason they have been reluctant to go the local services board route is the fact that they had a rather bad experience, from their view, with both the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment with regard to the provision of water services over this winter. After a lot of arguing and negotiation, they thought they had an agreement from the provincial authorities to upgrade the water system, to provide the kind of funds necessary to do that and to provide water all winter on the communal system.

After a lot of work and struggle with the ministry, that finally was done. It was done in the sense that they were provided with water all winter but the system was not upgraded -- the upgrading was not completed. Now the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment are taking the position that all they agreed to do was to provide water over the winter, not on a permanent basis, and that they are not going to do the complete upgrading. They say it is up to the community to do it.

So I am afraid there is some distrust in the community of the two ministries. They want to go the route of an improvement district because they think they’ll get more help from your ministry than they will from the others. That is the reason.

9:10 p.m.

I have not been able to tell them they are misguided in trusting you, but I would hope that this can be resolved. Perhaps somebody from your ministry and someone from the Ministry of Northern Affairs should visit the community and discuss the whole matter with the action committee and the residents to show them the various options open to them and indicate how the services should be provided.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I think that is a good suggestion. We are not going to solve the problem talking about it here. We will have our people and someone from the Ministry of Northern Affairs go up and see if we cannot find the best solution for them.

Mr. Wildman: Thank you.

Mr. Nixon: I am not often critical of this minister since he left his previous responsibility in the Ministry of Education, but I do feel he tends to allow troublesome or boring problems to go on until they disappear, solve themselves or come forward as an emergency that makes them worth dealing with.

I have a relatively small problem, perhaps from his point of view, but one that is extremely troublesome to a community in my constituency. I have written the minister about it. He gave me a very nice acknowledgement. It seems that action is being held up by more than one ministry because they will not bring their minds to bear on the problem. In this sense, I suppose, a certain degree of criticism must be directed towards the minister’s assistants. I know some of them very well. As a matter of fact, we have been growing old together in the service since we entered some years ago.

This deals with a police village. About a decade ago the government, by policy, decided to eliminate police villages and then relented. They indicated that while they would allow no more to be formed, and none to be enlarged, they could continue to exist as long as they wanted. The police village I am referring to is in my constituency in the township of South Dumfries and is known as St. George. Some of the members have driven through there. It is the most beautiful police village in Ontario; no one would question that statement.

It has a population of about 1,000 and with the permission of the planning officials and the environmental officials, it was decided the village would be provided with a sewerage. This is not quite complete, but will be in 1980. It services a sufficient area of land next to the police village so that its population will be more than doubled.

Unfortunately it is not within the power of the minister to permit the boundaries of the police village to be enlarged. The police village can stay the way it is, or it can revert to simply being part of the township, but it cannot be enlarged even though other authorities at the provincial level have approved the installation of a very costly sewage disposal system -- none of your lagoons, thank you -- an approval for doubling the population.

The real problem comes in the provision of energy services, particularly electricity. Ontario Hydro will not permit the municipal rate available in the police village of St. George to be charged in the new area. The minister is hamstrung by policy established by his predecessors and he will not allow the boundaries of the police village to be increased.

There are certain alternatives, presumably, involving a local service area, something I know nothing about and don’t understand. I have requested some enlightenment on this but the enlightenment has been less than useful.

The development is ready to go forward. With high interest rates, and so on, the developer has been less than enthusiastic and perhaps is not pushing as he might have, particularly since a decision has not been made on how the rates for energy and the local government for the community will be adjusted.

The minister may recall the letter. He may recall his reply both to me and to the township officials. I don’t believe the police village officials were involved, but the thing is more or less sitting there without action being taken. There is some indication that the minister is waiting for his colleagues in the Ministry of Energy to move. I thought I was assisting him by phoning Ontario Hydro and trying to explain what a ridiculous situation this would be. If we followed Ontario Hydro’s policy, the people who move into the new community adjoining the police village would be paying the rural rates, which the minister knows are the highest in Canada west of New Brunswick.

We know the Premier has made a statement indicating he wants these rates to be adjusted, and I support him 100 per cent in this. We have been extremely critical of the disparity in hydro rates but, because of lack of action, the whole thing is frozen. It is extremely dislocating for the township officials and it will soon start to get embarrassing for the minister.

I have taken this occasion, before this large crowd of interested politicians, to bring the matter to his personal attention, indicating that while from a certain point of view it might not be at the top of his list of matters to be dealt with, from the point of view of my constituents it is important and they cannot understand why, with the staff of dedicated people assisting the minister, this damned thing sits there month after month without anybody indicating even an interest.

What are we going to do about this?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I just want to say that I rather resent that my friend said I did not pay attention to these little problems, because ever since he first spoke to me about this problem about three or four months ago, I have said, “We will do it,” and I still say, “We will do it.” Every week I still say to one of my staff, “Is it done yet?” and he has quite rightly indicated the reasons it has not been done.

If it had been up to this ministry alone it would have been done, but the wheels of government, as they interlock ministry with ministry, and as everybody gets his oar in pieces of legislation, sometimes cause time to expand a little.

Mr. Nixon: Is that why people say it is time for change?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, it is not why people say it is time for change; it is just the fact that when one has not operated within government, one does not realize that. But I am sure my colleague the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) knows what I am talking about, as do some of my other colleagues.

Mr. Nixon: Which colleagues is the minister referring to? Which other colleagues are here?

Hon. Mr. Wells: My other colleagues here and all my colleagues who are out addressing meetings tonight and busy writing legislation.

Mr. Nixon: I know what they are doing; they are watching reruns of I Love Lucy.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, no, never. As a matter of fact, they are all out addressing important meetings. In fact, I am sure my colleague from Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) has probably gone out to call on another thousand homes tonight as he does quite often.

Mr. Nixon: Is that what he does in the evenings?

Hon. Mr. Wells: To get down to a very short, quick answer, the bill that will put into effect the kinds of things the honourable member wants and the police village of St. George wants is going to legislation committee this Thursday, and I hope we will have it in the House in a week or so. It will expand the boundaries of the police village and eventually will dissolve the police village, and it will take care of the hydro problems too, I understand.

Mr. Nixon: I was simply trying to bring to the minister’s attention something he knows even better than I, which is that our time for legislation before the summer recess is very limited. There is already a very large package of private legislation from the area which we have to deal with without undue delay, and I do not know how we are going to do all these things unless we get the legislation soon.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We assumed it was one of those pieces of legislation that if we could just get it in here we could deal with very expeditiously.

Mr. Nixon: I will help the minister with the second part, but he has to do the first.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We will have it here shortly.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Chairman, I want briefly to commend the minister and his staff on the bill they are going to introduce, I presume shortly, dealing with the Brantford annexation proposals or the agreements that have been reached between Brantford and Brantford township.

I wonder whether the minister could indicate when the bill will be introduced and whether the staff of both municipalities will have an opportunity to look at it ahead of time.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: The Brantford Expositor says they got it yesterday.

Mr. Makarchuk: Maybe they did. Possibly the minister can arrange, with the co-operation of the other House leaders, to ensure that bill goes out to committee. I am not sure what time would be convenient, but I understand there are people who would like to make representations to the members of the Legislature regarding possible changes in the bill in terms of boundary they would wish to be included in the proposals. That may pose a few prdblems for both sides, but I hope it can be thrashed out.

I wonder what the minister’s intentions are at this time regarding the possibility of that bill going out to a committee where people can make their presentations.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The director of our field services branch, Gardner Church, is in the great city of Brantford tonight meeting with the people to discuss the legislation with various municipal councils. If it comes back with everything okay, we will be ready to introduce it shortly.

I had not thought it would be necessary for the bill to go to the committee of this House. That might create an unduly long time before we would have the bill passed. I would be willing to give consideration to that, but considering this is a bill that implements something that has been the subject of great discussion, public meetings and all kinds of input out there, probably by the time we were ready to put the matter to this House we could do it in committee in this House. However, I will not give the member a definitive answer right now.

Mr. Makarchuk: My preference is probably the same as the minister’s, because sometimes in committee things can get a little troublesome. However, some people have indicated they want to make representations to the members regarding the bill itself. Perhaps some consideration should be given to the fact that, if they wish to do so, it could go out to one of the committees of the Legislature.

Despite the meetings and the input, these people were present at the meetings and they did indicate publicly that they did want to make the presentations. They were not satisfied by the decisions made by the two councils and they want to have their wishes heard.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I want to address myself to the municipal grants and particularly to the problem that has existed in the city of Port Colborne for a great number of years. I have indicated to the Legislature previously that the city of Port Colborne is located on Lake Erie and is divided by the Welland Canal. Last year they celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Welland Canal.

The city, in the original design by William Hamilton Merritt, placed the first subdivision way back in 1829, in that era, and was built on the lowest level in the whole Niagara Peninsula. It’s south of the escarpment. That’s why the canal was chosen to be located at what was known as Graveley Bay in those days.

It has always caused some problems there in relation to the matter of storm sewage in getting rid of the extraneous flow of water that may come in at different times as a result of the high levels of water on Lake Erie -- in fact, on the Great Lake Basin. I guess Lake Erie is noted as a tilting lake. When you have severe, gale-force winds, particularly from the west and southwest of the Atlantic, it can cause severe damage anywhere along the shoreline on the Canadian side.

I do have a chart here. I have a downtown drainage study for the city of Port Colborne. It was prepared by Proctor and Redfern Limited, consulting engineers and planners in St. Catharines. They relate much of their study back to the Lake Erie mean monthly water levels. It goes from the year 1900 to 1979. I have noted in the flow charts that the lake level can change and fluctuate from year to year. It goes in cycles, but there is a difference of about five or six feet between the high levels and the low levels. It does cause some problems when the lake level is high. In 1973 it was perhaps the highest it had been in a great number of years and it caused considerable damage all along the shoreline, not only in Port Colborne but also in Fort Erie and Wainfleet both.

The problem is, where the canal goes through the city all the storm sewers now drain into the Welland Canal. If there are high levels of water, because of either wind or the normal high lake level, then the water cannot drain into this basin. In this report there is a letter from the ministry indicating that the city of Port Colborne gets some benefits from the water going through the city and one has to take the good with the bad. I suppose if it had not been for the Welland Canal there would be no city of Welland, and perhaps even no city of St. Catharines, because they get their supply of water through that system.

But it has caused considerable problems and resulted in considerable cost to the city. What they have proposed in this study is that a new control weir should be constructed in the city. There is one there now in the older part of the city which I guess is called Stoneridge, or the village of Humberstone. That weir is used to control the level of water from the canal so they can maintain a certain level for the safe passage of ships in the canal.

They suggested that if they moved this half a mile south and located it on the end of the island, just off of the Clarence Street bridge, that could solve some of their problems. In other words, this weir on the south side would be the lake level and on the north side would be the canal level, and there is supposed to be a difference of three to four feet in the level of water. They feel that relocating the existing weir and constructing a new weir would permit the city to use the storm sewers for gravity feed and they could then empty into the lower part of the canal level. This can be rather costly.

The report says the ministry would provide assistance under its emergency assistance program. Whatever that may be, I do not know. It is not defined in there. But I suggest that it is a problem in the city, and I think some consideration should be given to their request to help prevent the flooding conditions in the city of Port Colborne, particularly on the west side of the canal.

It has often been said that there is a benefit from the canal, but particularly in the city of Port Colborne dual services have to be put in -- a sewage treatment plant on the east side and one on the west side. In fact, right now they are considering -- and it has been approved by the Ministry of the Environment -- constructing a new water treatment plant that will be located north of the Clarence Street bridge. This will be just about five eighths of a mile south of the present weir control in the canal system.

I was born and raised in Port Colborne, and I used to swim and fish in that area. I think this may cause some problems if they are going to install a new water treatment plant here. All the storm sewer outlets now would be located south of the proposed water treatment plant, and I do not think it would be good water quality practice to have all those storm sewers feeding right into the proposed water treatment plant. I think this should be taken into consideration. I think this is one of the reasons the city has requested special assistance be given to them to assist them in upgrading their storm sewage system.

The letter from this ministry addressed to the municipal engineer says “special emergency assistance program and would be eligible for grant purposes.” I do not know what is meant by that. Could I have a clarification on that? That letter is dated July 23, 1979. It is from H. Connolly, subsidies officers branch of the ministry.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Will the member read that section of the letter over again so I understand it exactly?

9:30 p.m.

Mr. Haggerty: The minister has laryngitis, and I don’t have my glasses with me tonight; so I may have some difficulty. On the second page of the letter, it says: “It is acknowledged that the elimination of the backup problems as a proposed municipal project would satisfy the requirements of the special emergency assistance program and would be eligible for grant purposes.” Can I have that clarified? Just what do you mean by that? Is the minister making reference to it as a disaster area? There have been a number of them in the past couple of years. They have had parts of the town flooded right out, causing considerable damage to home and property.

Hon. Mr. Wells: As I understand it, it is not eligible under any of our particular programs, but it may be eligible under some of the federal-provincial programs, namely the ones under the Ministry of the Environment. They are still talking with the municipal people there to sort out the eligibility and which programs would apply.

Mr. Haggerty: is there not another program relating to shoreline property assistance? There is one they call the Great Lakes assistance program dealing with difficulties all along the shoreline. There is a special fund there, I understand. Is that what they are making reference to?

Hon. Mr. Wells: It does not come under either the shoreline property assistance program or the Great Lakes flooding program, but it may come under some of the federal-provincial programs of the Ministry of the Environment.

Mr. Haggerty: Why would it not qualify for assistance under the Great Lakes flooding program when it is actually the high levels of Lake Erie and the high winds that cause the flooding conditions within the municipality? It is the backup of the storm sewers. In some cases even the drainage system outside of the city has difficulty providing proper drainage. The high water backs up and covers all the land.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The Great Lakes flooding program and the shoreline property assistance program are basically programs to protect the erosion of the shoreline and so forth; to build dikes and to prevent flooding. This is a much larger problem, as I understand it, having to do with the drainage systems and everything concerned in the town. It is beyond the capabilities envisaged for these two programs.

Our people have been down there -- and I think the member brought this up last year in the estimates; Harry Connolly from our staff has been there along with people from the Ministry of the Environment -- trying to find out the problems and to find programs that might be applicable. The two we have are the ones that should apply.

Mr. Haggerty: I know in one instance they have provided some short-term control measures. They put in control gates at the outlets of all the municipal drains, and built a valve similar to a check valve, so that when the water level rises in the canal, it does not permit it to go back into the municipal storm sewers. Meanwhile, if they have heavy rains and high winds, water comes over the shore line, flooding out the area and the water cannot move either way. That is where the problem is. In this particular instance, the city should be granted special compensation for something that is beyond their means.

I know that the high level of Lake Erie does benefit Ontario. One way is through the production of hydroelectricity, and that has always been a benefit. Every time Lake Erie has a high water level it is a great benefit to the Ontario Hydro generating stations on the Niagara River, and it even assists the commercial shipping in the Great Lakes system. I am sure Ontario Hydro can control some of the lakes in the Great Lakes system. I am sure they can control Lake Erie through the Welland Canal and through the Niagara River.

If the minister is aware of some federal assistance there, I would like to hear about it. If it is a joint program, I would be pleased to hear about it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We will keep the member informed as both our fellow and the Ministry of the Environment are working with them down there.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Chairman, there are a few questions I would like to ask the minister. The first goes back to something we have discussed a number of times, although at arm’s length recently; I am speaking about electoral reform in Metropolitan Toronto.

I want to pursue the matter, because at the present time it would appear to me that any meaningful reform has been shelved at the moment and we are going to deal only with that which has been brought forward in the minister’s recent bill.

I am especially concerned about the prospects for direct election to Metro council and the provision of a three-year term for municipal seats. I would just say that the minister has probably received a letter -- and I have received a copy -- from the Scarborough Board of Education which puts in a plea again for three-year terms for the municipalities. The chairman of Metro Toronto must be an elected official and not an appointee.

I am especially interested in the prospect of an election expenses provision to be detailed by the province and enabling legislation in more detail than that which we have at present which would enable people to run for office in the city of Toronto and elsewhere in Metropolitan Toronto who may not have had the opportunity to do so.

I am thinking specifically of people like school board trustees who have a limitation on the amount of money they can earn as trustees, and yet in the city of Toronto, as an example, they are very much full-time politicians and have no prospects of paying off their election expenses through their own incomes as politicians.

I would therefore like to know, because we are not expecting anything at the moment and because the minister has many detailed reports before him on prospects for election reform, specifically the important work done by former Premier Robarts on the matter, what the minister intends to do in terms of a further review of election procedures in Metropolitan Toronto and how he anticipates dealing with this in the future. Does he have any timetable in mind? Are we going to wait for another two to three years? How long are the very temporary provisions and the reaffirmation of the two-year term and indirect election to Metro council going to last?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me deal with each of these items one at a time. The first is the two-year term. I presume that any consideration of change in the two-year term would come about two years from now when we again approach the municipal election cycle in this province. This year, elections will be held on November 10, and they will be held in every municipality for a two-year term. That carries out the original thinking behind the Municipal Elections Act, which was to provide for a uniform election day and a uniform term, and it was hoped to increase interest and confidence in municipal elections. Whether that has happened, I guess we will all have to be our own judges.

9:40 p.m.

On the question of whether the uniform terms and the fact that they are all held on the same day is a good thing, I think it has been, on balance. There is no question that, while there is a fair demand for a three-year term from the elected people in the large areas, there is not unanimous agreement in the smaller, rural areas of the province that would be good. There is far from unanimous opinion around the province as far as a three-year term is concerned.

I do not know how representative newspaper opinion is; I guess all of us use it when we feel that it can justify our case. As I watched the editorial reaction around the province, I found most of it was fairly in favour of a two-year term.

The Hamilton Spectator says: “Two years is enough. Ontario’s big-city mayors would rather have elections every three years than every two years. Longer council terms would cut expenses for politicians and taxpayers, but wouldn’t necessarily improve the quality of local government. The province should stick with two-year terms.” Then it goes on to indicate a few other reasons in favour of the two-year term.

On balance, when you look at it in terms of local public groups and newspaper comments on it, and so on, it would seem that the two-year term is still fairly popular in the province.

I will be the first to agree that it is not popular with a lot of the elected people in this province; there is no question about that. Recently I have received some of the most vigorously worded letters that I have had in a long time from people in the city of Toronto and other people who did not like our decision to maintain the two-year term.

Mr. Epp: Even the Tories are against it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: There is no question about that; the Tories are leading the battle for a three-year term in Toronto.

Anyway, we had to make a decision on the way municipal government operates. We could not see any other decision at the present time. Municipal government is responsible to the electorate, and one could make a good case for it having to go back to the electorate at fairly regular intervals, but two years is not a bad period of time.

As far as direct election is concerned, I must say I have yet to have it proved to me exactly what type of direct election people are looking for. As I think I stated, about 20 of the 37 or so seats on Metro council are elected directly. In other words, when you vote for a person for an office, you know that you are voting for a person who will also be on Metro council. So you can say that in fact you are directly electing him. I think there are other arrangements like that which can be worked out by the other councils in Metro.

If the member is looking for a move in Metropolitan Toronto towards electing a separate set of councillors to the Metro council, as opposed to local council, I would be opposed to that. I believe the whole magic of what we have made work here in Metro is that we have had a linkage in the systems from local to upper tier.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: It’s sorcery. I knew there was something.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s not sorcery; it’s just that the magic we have had has worked here.

Believe me, it has worked here. It has worked better than in greater Winnipeg and better than in a lot of other areas.

Greater Winnipeg has gone through all of these various ways. As I recall, and I am just thinking off the top of my head, greater Winnipeg had a system somewhat similar to what we had and then someone said, “Gee, it would be great if we had direct election to the upper tier.” When direct election to the upper tier came along, it was a disaster. The government of the day, which was an NDP government, amalgamated the whole area so they got one big amalgamated city, which is what the city of Toronto wanted in Metro a way back in the 1950s. Everyone said it would not work, and I do not think anybody would think it would work here.

Mr. Haggerty: It is working in the Niagara region.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Can we quote my friend on that? I am glad to hear him say that regional --

Mr. Nixon: What he means is that you proposed it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, no.

Mr. Nixon: The machinery is there, stuttering and limping along, being fuelled by money.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, he said regional government is working in the Niagara region. That is a case where there is direct election.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am primarily interested in the approach you are going to take.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not going to be able to argue much longer, because my voice is giving out.

The approach we are going to take, as far as Metro is concerned, is that once these elections are over, given the fact that we are electing about 20 of the 38 directly, we are going to see whether there are ways within each of the boroughs that they can elect, in a more direct way, the people who are there and have them serve on both councils equally. If Toronto can come up with a way that is a little better than electing them the way they are now, fine. All I say is that those people who are there should serve on both councils. There should be that intermingling.

With regard to election expenses, as the member knows, the act now provides that municipalities can by bylaw provide for limitations on election expenditures by or on behalf of the candidate and require the disclosure of all campaign expenses over $100. In fact, a municipality can put in certain controls on election expenditures, if it wishes, and require disclosure.

The matter of having election expenses as an income tax deduction in some manner or form as we do for provincial and as the federal candidates do, I think presents problems which I have not seen anybody address themselves to.

First, it is going to cost a lot of money, and therefore the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) has to be concerned about it, because it is not going to come off the federal tax; it is going to come off the provincial income tax.

Second, someone has to figure out who is going to be eligible. Is any person going to be eligible to give receipts for what is a fairly hefty deduction? I think my friend is prepared to admit that the deductions we get for contributions to our campaign and the federal campaigns are very good. In fact, they are better than the deductions we get for contributions to our church or our favourite charities. That kind of thing extended to the municipal level could have great cost. Also, it does not have the discipline of the party organization attached to it at the present time. I see my friend smiling and, of course, he says the answer is immediately to have authorized party candidates.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: You could do it retroactively.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not so sure that would be very viable.

As much as we have tried -- and I was an exponent of party politics at the municipal level 10 years ago or so -- it is not completely accepted. Even in the member’s party there are people out in Scarborough who, not getting the NDP nomination, decided to run as independent NDPers. Others run because they believe that at the municipal level they can run if that is their wish.

I have not seen anyone come up yet with a way to decide who would qualify to give out receipts for tax deductions. I think it would be ludicrous to think that anyone who decided to run for office could automatically hand out these receipts. I do not think we have arrived at the point where we could leave it that wide open. We do not even do that at the federal or provincial level. You have to be a part of an accredited party, and in order for that party to be an accredited party it has to have done certain things.

9:50 p.m.

I think we are quite a way from arriving at anything of that nature. I am sure, though, given the fact that it has been discussed on numerous occasions by municipal people and by ourselves in this Legislature, that we will continue to look for some system. Maybe we will find some system. What that system will be and when it will come in, I do not know.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Instead of asking additional questions, I want to get on to other matters, because I still want to hear the minister on other things.

However, it does strike me that there was no clear methodology apparent to either of the other parties in this House or to the public in general as to how the decisions were arrived at in terms of a two-year term and the direct election and other matters. People were hoping something might be coming forth on these, given the recommendations of the Robarts commission.

I would hope, given all the work that has gone into this, that before the next two-year term is up some plan of action for trying to involve the public in this decision would be brought forward rather than just on the ad hoc basis of receiving letters and chatting to people here and there. I would hope there would be some systematic approach to this matter.

It seems to me that although the minister himself has expressed certain opinions at the moment, which happen to be in direct opposition to his predecessor in Intergovernmental Affairs and to Robarts, there has been a fair amount of work done on it. I would hope we might deal with it more systematically than we did last time. Then I would not be forced to bring a private resolution to try to spur things on.

I wanted to ask the minister some questions to see whether there is any possibility of changing the method for dealing with the private bills for the various cities. I am speaking from recent experience with the city of Toronto bill, Pr14.

My understanding, and I am a novice here, is that the approach to these bills was such that we tried to keep the partisan element out of dealing with them as much as we possibly could. We were receiving an amalgam of resolutions passed by the city of Toronto council in this case that need legislative assent or enabling legislation to permit the city to follow through on its resolutions.

I understood the usual technique for dealing with this was for the bill to be brought forward and for it to go to the individual ministries for their comment. If there are problems in terms of the procedures et cetera, those could be dealt with by the ministries involved, with some co-ordination from this ministry as well, to iron out the bugs, as it were. This would be done before we come to committee to try to make sure the bill is either going to proceed as is or, if there are major matters of policy involved in it that are deemed to be totally unacceptable to the ministries, a lot of that could be ironed out in advance. Then we would not run into the situation where the bill itself gets held up and certain items in it which would normally go through do not go through.

I wonder whether the minister would consider taking a look at how we deal with those bills at present in the Legislature and perhaps come forward with some recommendations for other means of dealing with them.

I was a little embarrassed on Wednesday by the fact that the city of Toronto council and the mayor were obviously taken by surprise by the response to section 3, as I recall, of their bill. They thought they had worked out all the problems with it with the Ministry of Housing, but the parliamentary assistant indicated there were some other major problems and the government was going to vote against it. The mayor would like to have known that in advance so as to withdraw that section of the bill or to try to work out the differences prior to coming into committee.

I wonder whether the minister has any comments on the process we are using, because it seems to me we got fouled up pretty badly on Wednesday by having to stand down two major items.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We had a discussion the other day about this in this House when we were discussing private bills. When I first entered this House back in the 1960s, there was a private bills committee. Private bills had to come in during the first few weeks of the session, and the procedure provided that they all came in pretty well at one time. They went to the private bills committee, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs always used to be there and presented his viewpoint on those bills.

We changed the rules of this House so that we do not have a private bills committee any more. We have a variety of committees, and the bills go to whichever committee happens to be appropriate, although most of them go to the standing committee on general government. Usually my parliamentary assistant speaks on behalf of what in the old days would have been the Minister of Municipal Affairs. He is there with our people to present our viewpoint.

Traditionally that has always been done because the origin of private bills was from municipalities to seek some unique thing for their municipality or some variance from the general provincial legislation that applied.

There were other things, of course, such as private bills incorporating universities, degree-granting rights and all kinds of things. But basically a lot of them concerned municipalities.

What we do now is circulate the ministries. We find the problems or points of view and then put them forward at the committee. I am not sure why the difference of opinion occurred about the Metro Toronto bill. I would say basically, if we find there is a general disagreement about government policy on a bill, we try to communicate that to the municipality and their solicitors ahead of time so that at least they will know and they can take some action if they wish or at least be prepared for that to happen. I am not sure why that did not happen in the case of the city of Toronto. I do not know. But I would be willing to look at that part of the procedure.

The larger procedure as to how private bills are handled through the House is the concern of the standing committee on procedural affairs and is part of the standing orders. But the way we respond and what we do and how the government reacts is part of the procedures we set up.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: I appreciate that, and only in those terms. I did not mean in relation to the larger matter.

During the Confederation debate here in the House I made a recommendation in my speech that we try to find some way of involving the major municipalities in the province in our deliberations, not only on the select committee but also in terms of the need to look again at the role of the municipalities and whether there is any need to include special provisions for them within the constitution.

I raise the matter in particular because it struck me we have moved a long way from the days when, at the time of Confederation, only three per cent of our population lived in cities of more than 50,000 population. Now we have approximately 60 per cent of our population in major municipalities. By the turn of the century we are liable to have as much as 70 per cent of our population in 12 major urban areas in Canada, five of them in Ontario.

The model of government we have used in terms of municipal politics has been based very much on an agrarian socioeconomic base and on the notion of two-tier governments for townships and counties and single-tier government for small municipalities, which should act as an administrative wing of the provincial government handling the kinds of services and problems that are best delivered locally.

I am quite concerned that we do not miss the opportunity as we look at the reconstituting of our country in the next while, and that we do not overlook the very practical matter of what role our major municipalities, as a minimum, should have in those constitutional debates.

10 p.m.

On the radio today, I heard this matter of the difference of opinion between the territories and the Prime Minister of Canada as to what their place should be at the federal bargaining table in this matter. I presume many people will see the involvement of the municipalities in any formal way as a further intrusion and unnecessary complication.

I am quite interested that we take some approach to the major municipalities in the province. Perhaps all those cities with a population of more than 100,000, as an arbitrary cutoff just from my own thinking on this, should be involved in the three-party process that we will be involved with here in the Legislature.

I was wondering because the minister was not in the House at the time I made those statements, whether I might have his reaction to how he thinks the municipalities might be involved in this Confederation debate at the various levels, and what kind of a role he sees for them.

Hon. Mr. Wells: First, I would like to say that ever since I have been minister and, I think, before on the various constitutional conferences we have had, we have taken representatives of the municipalities with us to those conferences as part of the Ontario delegation. Mr. Ed Mitchelson, who was chairman of the Municipal Liaison Committee, was with us in 1978. I am not sure about 1979. He could not go to one of the conferences, but he was with us as part of the delegation at one of the first ministers’ conferences. I think he was invited to the other one but for a variety of reasons could not attend. We have believed that the municipal order of government should be represented on the Ontario delegation, but it is hard to find just one person. Those provincial delegations are not large; so we cannot involve a number of people. But in trying to find someone who was as representative as we could, we took Ed Mitchelson, who was chairman of the Municipal Liaison Committee.

I see we have also had the mayor of Ottawa on a delegation in 1973, and the chairman of Metro was on another delegation, but those were before my time; so I do not have any knowledge of those.

There is no question that as these conferences come along -- and we are not talking about the one on June 9, which is a quick, rather private one of first ministers -- we will be looking for ways to involve the municipal people. I am not sure we can go beyond just the representative of all of the municipalities in Ontario -- not a large delegation.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: With our own debates here or the select committee and from his own perspective as the minister involved, does he have any plans or has he thought very much to date about how he might involve the major municipalities on a more localized provincial basis? Would he prefer to work through something like the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Municipal Liaison Committee, or has he thought of asking them formally for some kind of submission? To date has he taken that very far?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Is the member now talking about the involvement in constitutional discussion?

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Yes, at the provincial level rather than at the federal level.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I do not think we have carried it to any great extent at the provincial level. I notice I have a report in front of me which is called The Municipal Government in a New Canadian Federal System. I must admit I have not read this report at this point in time. It is from the resource task force on constitutional reform of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I intend to take a look at it now, since they obviously have put their mind to this. It is quite a weighty report; so it obviously has a lot of discussion material in it, and there are probably some resolutions and recommendations that would be helpful. No, we haven’t particularly looked at any vehicle as to how we could do that in this province, but our normal consultative vehicles are there. As I explained earlier, we are in a period of transition; we are waiting for Michael Smither and his group to report and then see what comes out of that. In the meantime, the MLC is still operating to bring together all the municipal groups. I suspect there will be some jelling of opinion within the next three or four months. Then we will have perhaps a better idea of what kind of group will represent the municipalities and we will continue our discussions with that group.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: I understand that report is going to be one of the major items at the conference in Halifax, and there is no doubt we will be hearing resolutions from it.

I have one quick question at this point on the matter, which is loosely within your purview only because you have been drawn into the matter. It is with regard to the matter of the French enumeration for the French-language advisory committees to the boards of education in the province. For the last two years the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) and, of late, myself have been raising questions in the Legislature about the possibility of having an enumeration undertaken of French-speaking electors or electors of French expression in the province so that the elected representatives might be able to identify their electorate.

We have had indications from the Premier (Mr. Davis) that discussions are under way involving yourself, the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck). I wonder if you could tell us what stage those discussions are at, when we might hear something, and if you can give us any idea of the format that might be followed?

I have a large concern that we not stray too far from just a straight question on the enumeration forms themselves because of the experience of what happened in Ottawa-Carleton. There we saw the usage of separate forms which expected the enumerator to be able to guess who was French and who wasn’t. The enumerator asked the question and left them a paper to return, which some did and some didn’t, while some felt threatened by. Phone calls went all over the place.

I am also concerned that we not try to use the boards of education in any way to do a major distribution on this. I would look at the experience in Scarborough where they tried to put it in Your Schools and had it distributed by the kids. There was a small French article on the back page of Your Schools, which was sent out to all the homes in Scarborough. They got 15 or 16 replies, all of which came from anglophones who had their kids in immersion classes.

I wonder if you could tell us what stage we are at. Is it going to be on the enumeration forms themselves? When do you think we will hear?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, it is the topic of a very hard-working interministerial group which is headed by the Minister of Revenue. They have looked at various options. I think it is fair to say they are concentrating mainly on the 39 jurisdictions where there are French-language advisory committees at this time. They are looking at a mix of school board enumeration forms, because I think it is going to be very difficult to come up with anything that would be just by the enumerator only.

Some kind of a mix is probably what will be looked at. We are working towards a solution; we should have it shortly. My colleague the Minister of Revenue will probably be announcing something when he has the details all worked out. But it has been discussed and we have been working towards trying to get at some way of providing that list for those jurisdictions where it is needed.

10:10 p.m.

Mr. McKessock: I just wanted to mention that convincing debate we took part in this afternoon on the resolution of the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) that the municipalities be given the same per capita police grant as the regional municipalities, that the $10 they are now receiving be changed to $15.

The Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) agrees with this but he told me he did not have control of the funds. It would be up to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to make this decision. The Treasurer told me he is conceding this to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. So it is now narrowed down to you as being the minister responsible. You have told me the extra amount of money paid to the regional municipalities was for startup costs. These costs must have long been finished.

I assume something will be done after the unanimous decision in the House today approving that resolution -- I think one member spoke against it. His reason was that it cost more in regional municipalities than it does in other municipalities. But you told me previously that this extra amount was for startup costs. I think equal funding for each municipality on a per capita basis is a good way to do the funding. Policing is policing no matter where it is. I am sure the Solicitor General wants good policing in every municipality throughout this province, as I am sure you do too.

I want to ask the minister, as the resolution did carry -- certainly nobody stood up to call a vote on it -- can these municipalities now assume that their per capita police funding will be raised to the $15 the regional municipalities are now receiving and that this will be coming to them this year?

Hon. Mr. Wells: There are a couple of things involved here. One is that there be equal grants to all municipalities. That might mean that everybody got $12. You automatically assume that everybody should go up to the $15.

Mr. McKessock: I mentioned that.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It might be that everybody just goes to $12.

Mr. McKessock: That wasn’t what I said.

Hon. Mr. Wells: That is one way of looking at the problem. If the member was here the other day when I explained about police grants, he would recall the first thing I said about them was that they are not specifically police grants although they carry with them that tag. Really they are part of unconditional grant packages to the municipalities, unrelated to the police force except that they have to have a police force. If the municipality has a police force, it gets $10 per capita or $15. It is an arbitrary amount that has been picked. It is money that is used for the whole variety of services. Naturally a municipality can peg it to police because police services cost a lot more than the $10 or the $15 that we pay. The bottom line on the whole thing is the amount of unconditional grants to the municipalities.

The first thing I said is we are not moving to any kind of conditional grant. In other words, we are not moving to the position in this province where, in order to get the police grant, there has to be a series of standards in the police department. We are moving towards unconditional grants. This is an unconditional grant. What we are talking about is the dollar value assigned to it. The dollar value assigned for policing in a lower-tier and upper-tier municipality is considered each year as we work out the unconditional grants for the various municipalities. We have done it for this year.

I might remind my friend it was not a unanimous vote in this House. I heard no’s from all on this side of the House this afternoon and from a few over there. It really wasn’t anything like unanimous.

Mr. Eakins: There were three against it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No. Everybody on this side was against it because the government policy for this year is $10 and $15. What I am saying to you is that next year these grants will all be reviewed. It is just as conceivable that everybody could get $12 or $13 per capita as $15 or $10. The grants are considered in the light of the amount of money available.

That is really the bottom line to this thing. They are part of the unconditional grant package to the municipalities. It will be looked at next year in the light of what money is available and what dollar value will then be assigned to those particular grants.

Mr. McKessock: You can say that having them equal could mean $12 a piece; that’s fine. What we are saying is that it is unfair to have one per capita amount for one municipality and another for another. That is unfair. The request was to have it raised to $15 for the other municipalities.

Did I hear you say you weren’t requesting that the municipalities keep up a certain standard of policing? The Solicitor General’s office is really requesting that these municipalities keep up a certain standard. It is costing these municipalities right now considerably more money to get into the extra police radio systems that are coming to them just this year. A lot of municipalities in my area are going to have to invest in this equipment which is going to cost them considerably more. So they are being asked to upgrade their policing in the municipalities.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, you are quite right. The Solicitor General is asking them to upgrade and do certain things. That is right and proper and it is his jurisdiction, what he is entitled to do and has to do. We don’t relate the grant we pay to those services. It is an unconditional, per capita grant to pay a portion of the policing costs in a municipality. It is not given as a carrot to get them to put in radio services, and it will not be withdrawn if they don’t put in a certain service.

My voice isn’t going to last long enough to tell you why we chose the $10 and the $15, but there were good reasons for these amounts in those days. Somebody talked about Thunder Bay. When Thunder Bay was amalgamated, it laid off some of its police department. It actually cost them less when they had to put their two cities together rather than more. So they can make no case for having needed a greater grant than they were getting as two individual cities. I am not saying whether they still can or not, but there was good reason for giving them what they got.

Certain regional police forces were being asked to police large rural areas that conceivably might have cost more. Whether that is still a good reason, I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t at the present time. I explained to you how those grants are looked at each year and will be looked at for next year. But for this year they are set and that is it. They’ve all been done now.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: May I just comment that the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) has been on the list a long time, but we have been alternating. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) has the next question. I’m looking at the hour.

Mr. McKessock: I have one small point. Since the costs have gone up so drastically for policing, some of these municipalities are considering dropping their own police force and going back to the OPP. I think it would be in the government’s interest to come through with this increased funding now before this happens because this would put an extra burden on an already limited OPP force. I want to bring that to your attention.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Although it is not in my purview, I’m told by my staff that if they went back to the OPP, the OPP would charge them the direct cost.

10:20 p.m.

Mr. Eakins: Supplementary in regard to policing and the grants, the minister has stated they are under review. Are they under review because of the Pukacz report which was commissioned by this government in July, 1977? It was given to the government in October 1978 and has been shelved ever since. No one has ever seen the report. It has not been presented in the Legislature, and it was only a month ago that the police chiefs of Ontario could see the report. My colleague from St. George (Mrs. Campbell) got one because she demanded it. There are some very interesting things about policing and about grants in it.

I think that report should be tabled so we could discuss it in the Legislature. Then we would understand the problems of policing because Mr. Pukacz, who was a very well known civil servant formerly, made some very outstanding recommendations.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I have no objections to your seeing that report but it is not my report. It is a report of my colleague the Solicitor General. I would suggest you ask him, and he will show it to you.

Mr. Eakins: It is a report of your government.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t disagree with what you said. All I am saying is that the bottom line to all this is how much money is transferred to the municipalities. Police service is a municipal service. Do you accept that?

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and others have said that we should get out of conditional grants. Do you accept that? If you accept that, the fact is we are not looking to get into more conditional grants. What we would like to do is get out of some of the conditional grants we have now. I think the case to be made is more money for municipalities. I agree with you completely, but let us not talk about tying it to police and everything else.

Mr. Epp: I have a supplementary to that.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: All right. I am trying to keep a note of what has been done earlier. It is the committee’s time to do what it wants to do with it, but I do want to be reasonably fair -- not completely fair, just reasonably fair. The member for Waterloo North.

Mr. Epp: I have a short supplementary. I agree with the minister that police service is a municipal function. Would you then agree that the local municipality should have the opportunity of appointing the majority of members to police boards rather than the provincial government which now appoints the majority?

Hon. Mr. Wells: If you want my personal answer, yes. I believe I have a difference of opinion with the Attorney General and Solicitor General, who does not feel that way. I am not going to make any excuses for that difference of opinion. My opinion is I would allow them to have the right to appoint the majority, while the province appoints the minority of members of the police commission.

Mr. Warner: I will be brief, Mr. Chairman. I certainly appreciate the fact that the minister who is not feeling well came here this evening. He did not have to do that but he did. I hope he is feeling better.

I wanted to touch on two items in particular, both of which have been covered by my good colleague from Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston). The minister received, as I did, a letter from the director of education for the borough of Scarborough in which the board of education asked for the reinstatement of the three-year term based on three very reasonable criteria. One is it is obviously less costly for the taxpayer. Two, it provides greater continuity and the opportunity to gain experience. That is also quite obvious. Three, it more closely parallels the term of office for the members of the provincial Legislature. Those are very reasonable arguments that are put forward. I am very disappointed to learn the minister does not accept that the three-year term would be a proper way to proceed.

I would ask him, while he maintains this position -- and the government has been quite adamant about not being progressive -- would he agree to put the question of the three-year term, or the reinstatement of the three-year term, on the ballot in November?

Hon. Mr. Wells: This House knows I am not a lawyer, and I do not apologize for that. In fact, I am quite pleased I am not a lawyer. I am like the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).

Mr. Roy: I didn’t listen. What are you saying about lawyers?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I was just saying I do not apologize for the fact that I am not a lawyer; in fact, I am quite pleased. I think it is well we have some non-lawyers here developing the laws of this province.

I recall that the legislation would allow any municipality that wishes to put the question on the ballot. I cannot put the question on the ballot; municipalities can put it on. In other words, if the municipality of Scarborough wishes to put the question, “Are you in favour of a three-year term for elected politicians in this borough?” it can put it on.

Mr. Warner: I believe the minister is right. If they do put the question on, will the results have any effect on the minister’s present decision about the three-year term?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would certainly be very interested in seeing the results. We do not legislate over here by polls, much as some people keep accusing us of doing, and we do not legislate by what happens to be the popular position always.

I think you were out when I answered your colleague’s comments about the three-year term. I indicated that while I know the elected people in all the large municipalities are overwhelmingly in favour of a three-year term, there is a division in the smaller, rural municipalities of this province. There is also quite a division among nonelected groups in the province. I have resolutions from other groups, ratepayers’ groups and community groups, who say not to impose the three-year term.

After I made my statement, I studied the editorial comment around the province. There was fairly significant editorial comment. The Spectator, for example, said two years is enough. Most of the editorial comment around the province was that the two-year term was adequate.

Mr. Warner: It could be three years for Metro Toronto, and the minister knows it. That could be done. As it used to be. It would be nothing new, just a reinstatement. I would submit that is what should be done. I just wish the minister would change his mind on it. Perhaps the municipality will run a question in November. If the response is, as anticipated, general approval of that, perhaps the government would then re-examine its position, come along with the more reasonable position and help save dollars for the taxpayers by bringing in the three-year term.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: I’m looking at the clock. Do you wish to proceed now?

Mr. Roy: You are asking me, Mr. Chairman, that has been in here since 8 o’clock. There are just two minutes left on the clock.

Mr. Deputy Minister: I don’t think you could ask your question in two minutes.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, I felt sorry for the minister all evening because he is losing his voice. Can I adjourn the debate? I will be here tomorrow.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.


Mr. Speaker: The member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba) is here. The member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) rose on a point of privilege in which he took umbrage with remarks made by the member for High Park-Swansea. I have had an opportunity to check the record. Mr. Ziemba said: “Mr. Rotenberg owes his seat to that little sweetheart deal. He bought that seat by arranging for a judgeship for Mr. Givens and a seat on the commission.” In my opinion, that constitutes a point of privilege. I don’t think you can allege that any member bought anything for any other member. I am going to ask you to withdraw it.

10:30 p.m.

Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, I did explain my position earlier this afternoon when the member for Wilson Heights rose. I did apologize for the confusion between the two --

Mr. Speaker: No, the honourable member did not apologize. I looked that over too. I had chosen to ignore that because it was anything but an apology. You said, “There were two sweetheart deals, not one.” Now that does not constitute an apology in my opinion. I am going to ask you to withdraw the remark that he bought that seat by arranging for a judgeship and a seat on the commission.

Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to apologize.

Mr. Speaker: I am not asking you to. I am asking you to withdraw it.

Mr. Ziemba: I am not even withdrawing it. I believe that is the case and I am standing by that statement, sir.

Mr. Speaker: When you come in on Monday you will be prepared to, or you will be denied the privileges of this House until you withdraw the remark.

Mr. Ziemba: I intend to come in tomorrow morning, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: You will not be in tomorrow morning.

Mr. Ziemba: I intend to be here tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker: You will not be here tomorrow morning.

Mr. Ziemba: We will see about that.

The House adjourned at 10:32 p.m.