The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could ask the House for consent to revert to the order of business of “presenting reports” for the purpose of receiving reports from the standing committee on general government.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Mr. Cureatz, from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills with certain amendments:
Bill 46, An Act to amend the Municipal Act;
Bill 76, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act;
Bill 120, An Act respecting the City of Brantford, the Township of Brantford and the County of Brant.
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill 75, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Act.
Mr. Speaker: Before we go on to the next order of business, I neglected to ask the House whether it wanted the bills reported from the standing committee on general government to be ordered for third reading. Is that the wish of the House?
Ordered for third reading.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 1, An Act to amend the Libel and Slander Act;
Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act;
Bill 92, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Services in certain area municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton;
Bill 93, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth;
Bill 119, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON LAND ACQUISITION ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved third reading of Bill 121, An Act to vest Certain Lands in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
Mr. Roy: I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, that I make a few comments for the record on this bill. As I understand this legislation, and the minister can assist me, its purpose is to resolve the dispute between Algonquin College and the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton over a strip of land that the region feels is necessary to complete a bus expressway. Am I correct on that?
Generally speaking, I would have some strong reservations about the nature of this legislation because what it does basically is vest lands that are within the jurisdiction of Algonquin College to the region, and it does so without proceeding through the normal practice of the Expropriations Act. This means, of course, that we are avoiding in these circumstances hearings of necessity and the normal guidelines and hearings that are granted when expropriation proceedings are taking place.
I must say this is a highly unusual situation in the sense that the position taken by Algonquin College is very difficult to understand. They have been at loggerheads, have refused to compromise at all or to make some concession to the region. The elected officials of the region of Ottawa-Carleton have pretty nearly unanimously agreed, and certainly the citizens of that area have agreed, that the land is the most useful, the most expedient and, as far as the citizens are concerned, the best route possible for the buses. Yet Algonquin has refused to co-operate and, for some reason which I have some difficulty understanding, Algonquin College has consistently refused to agree to the transfer of the land. This legislation, in view of the intransigence of Algonquin College in these circumstances, becomes necessary.
Generally speaking, I think my colleagues and I are in agreement that we have strong reservations about taking away the right of citizens or individuals to have a proper hearing under the Expropriations Act -- and it is avoided by this legislation -- but the circumstances here involve public lands. These are lands that belong to the public. They are public lands being transferred from Algonquin College or vested from Algonquin College to the regional municipality; so individuals are not involved. That is important to put on the record.
Had individuals been involved in this transfer of land or the vesting, I think my colleagues and I would have had serious reservations about supporting this type of legislation. But the lands are basically public lands, and Algonquin College in these circumstances has taken an approach which we do not understand. Certainly the elected officials of Ottawa-Carleton feel this is necessary. We do not understand why the college is opposing this bus route through the campus.
Just as a matter of interest, one of the objections was to noise and volume of traffic, yet Algonquin College is just a few hundred feet from the Queensway. That argument really does not make much sense; it does not have much validity. In fact, the region has made concessions in lowering the expressway to reduce noise, fumes and so on.
The minister has explained the legislation to me. I understand it involves public lands and individuals are not involved, and we are taking lands belonging to the crown from one entity. We are vesting it from Algonquin College to the region. Under these circumstances, we take no objection to the legislation.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 122, An Act respecting the Police Village of St. George.
GOTHIC MINES AND OILS LIMITED ACT
Mr. Rowe, on behalf of Mr. Kennedy, moved second reading of Bill Pr12, An Act to revive Gothic Mines and Oils Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF WINDSOR ACT
Mr. B. Newman moved second reading of Bill Pr17, An Act respecting the City of Windsor.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HAMILTON FOUNDATION ACT
Mr. Nixon, on behalf of Mr. S. Smith, moved second reading of Bill Pr25, An Act respecting the Hamilton Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 46, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Bill 76, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF OTTAWA-CARLETON ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved third reading of Bill 75, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Act.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I thought I should make a few comments on this legislation. I do not know if the minister was present but certainly the parliamentary assistant was present in committee and saw there was obviously great division in the area of Ottawa-Carleton about approaches to be taken vis-à-vis regional government. The members in committee made a very difficult decision in regard to the split as to regional representation.
I would like to mention to the minister that, if nothing else, he should have observed or certainly heard from the parliamentary assistant that all is not well in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. We have a situation where the city of Ottawa is at loggerheads with all the neighbouring municipalities in the region. I point this out to the minister as one sign of some difficulty in the region of Ottawa-Carleton.
Having decided in Bill 75 that the representation will be the same from the other area municipalities as it is for Ottawa, the split now is going to be 16 seats each on regional council. It is going to be very important that the ministry monitor this situation very closely. I hope what we witnessed yesterday in committee is not a sign of what is going to happen in the future, when we are going to get a situation where the city of Ottawa members are pitted continually against the members of the region. I point this out to the minister as some evidence that everything is not right in the region of Ottawa-Carleton and that he should follow that situation fairly closely. If some people assume after 10 years that regional government is working, and working efficiently, they had better look at Ottawa-Carleton again and at other areas of the province.
Bill 75 deals with Ottawa-Carleton, and we clearly had evidence before the committee yesterday of a situation where each area municipality comes to the committee and makes representations. They are all on one side and the city of Ottawa is on the other. That will make for difficult planning, and difficult administration of the regional area if constantly there are 16 for and 16 against and the chairman has to split that vote. I hope the ministry and the government will monitor the situation, and I trust in the long term the interests of both these areas are not constantly at loggerheads.
I see my colleague from Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes) smiling cynically about my comments. I would say to that member that she talks a lot in this House but yesterday she did not have the guts to take a position in committee as her other members did.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is pretty strong.
Mr. Roy: Yes, pretty strong.
Mr. Speaker: Maybe you should choose your words a little more carefully.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I do not see where I said anything wrong. I just said to the member she should have the guts to take --
Mr. Speaker: That is a particularly indelicate comment, and I ask you to reflect upon it.
Mr. Sweeney: Intestinal fortitude.
Mr. Roy: Yes, Mr. Speaker. A colleague mentioned she should have the intestinal fortitude. Those may be better words. All I say to the member is that --
Mr. Makarchuk: You should have had the intestinal fortitude to be in committee when we were discussing the Brantford bill.
Mr. Roy: When all members from Ottawa-Carleton are trying to make decisions in the best interests of Ottawa-Carleton, some members should not sit by idly on the sidelines and wait to pick up the pieces; they should stand up and be counted.
Mr. Makarchuk: If you had been in committee on the Brantford bill --
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I stood up in the House and I was counted here.
Mr. Makarchuk: Were you there, Albert?
Mr. Roy: I hope the minister will monitor that situation closely. What we witnessed yesterday, I trust, will not be evidence of how the council in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton will function in the future.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to add a few words, if I might. I very much appreciate your concern that I be protected from indelicacies, but one is used to indelicacies from that member.
I am surprised he does not know my position on this bill, because I spoke on it during second reading. I know he was in the House when I spoke. He may not have been listening, which would not be unusual. But if he wishes, I will give him a copy of my statement in the House, which he could look up for himself if I thought he were capable and if he were really interested in my position.
I will restate my position. It was my position and the position of my colleagues in the NDP that the best proposal for changes in representation on the Ottawa-Carleton regional council was that proposal which came from the council itself and which this government turned down.
The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) did not support that proposal, nor did his colleagues, claiming that people in Ottawa-Carleton were somehow incapable of making half-votes work. I have full confidence that members of the regional council in Ottawa-Carleton would know how to deal with half-votes were they given the opportunity.
I think it unfortunate that the bill has gone forward in its present state. The member, if he is interested in my comments, can find them on second reading.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Auld moved resolution 16:
That the crown, as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources, be empowered to enter into an agreement with Mr. Julian Reed, member for the electoral district of Halton-Burlington, with respect to the installation of a fish ladder to be located on his land, being lot 11, concession 11, Esquesing, town of Halton Hills, regional municipality of Halton, under which, in the interests of conservation, Mr. Reed will assume certain responsibilities for the safekeeping and management, but for which, and for the use of his land, Mr. Reed will receive no compensation.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I would just add, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable member has agreed to a ceremony; so we will have an official commissioning of the Julian Reed Fishway some time later in the year.
Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Port Arthur want to talk about weirs?
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, anything that does something to memorialize the member for Halton-Burlington by means of a fish ladder, we in this party are undoubtedly in favour of.
Resolution concurred in.
PUBLIC VEHICLES ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 129, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain that about a year ago I appointed a committee, known within the ministry as the Public Vehicles Act review committee, to review the Public Vehicles Act. This committee was chaired by Mr. Robert Humphries, the former assistant deputy minister of the drivers and vehicles branch. On the committee were a number of representatives from the motor coach industry, including representatives of the larger bus companies, representatives of some of the smaller bus companies and representatives of the Ontario School Bus Association.
That committee has been reviewing the Public Vehicles Act for the past year or better and has made a number of recommendations to me. Some of those recommendations were able to be implemented by changes to regulations; others required changes to the Public Vehicles Act.
Also, in Bill 129 there are a number of housekeeping amendments and a number of amendments to bring the provisions of the Public Vehicles Act into line with new provisions we put in the Public Commercial Vehicles Act last year. I will be pleased to answer any questions that any members may have on this bill.
Mr. Cunningham: We will support the legislation, Mr. Speaker. As I see it, it is primarily designed to tighten and to reinforce our regulated system of transportation within the province. Some of the earlier sections of the bill will specifically tighten loopholes that have existed or are in existence with regard to the abase of our regulatory system by buses.
Specifically, it has come to our attention that there is an operation in London that is circumventing at least the theory of a regulated transportation system within the province and, unfortunately, creating a number of problems for the regulated carriers. That is not to say that the individual involved could not make an application and have a hearing before the Ontario Highway Transport Board and possibly receive favourable consideration for a licence so that the individual might operate in a regulated fashion.
The problem right now as we have seen it in the trucking industry is that the non-regulated carrier operating under the guise of a buy-sell arrangement or under the guise of a leasing operation is involved in a creaming type of situation. Such carriers take the more lucrative runs; they take full loads in the case of the trucking industry, and leave the less desirable loads. In the case of bus operations, they leave the regulated carrier with the more-costly runs and the less lucrative business propositions.
This provides a problem for the regulated carriers in that they are required by our Ontario statutes to serve the communities, many of which, as outlined and described within the confines of their licence, are by no means lucrative. It has been possibly an unwritten rule in the province, but there has been a process of cross-subsidization, that the more lucrative runs would look after the less lucrative runs.
When we have individuals who are circumventing the law either in the regulated trucking industry by way of a buy-sell arrangement or by way of a leasing arrangement, or in the bus industry by way of a lease arrangement, it undermines the ability of the regulated carriers to make a profit and to serve those areas they are required to serve.
In the case of the bus operators, the act is circumvented by the vehicles being owned by one company and the operators of the buses being provided by another company. While they are separate companies, the argument has been made in the courts, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully, that a relationship exists between the two companies.
That specifically is the situation that exists with regard to a particular operator in London who unfortunately has taken it upon himself to attempt to circumvent the act. After the passage of this legislation he may find himself in some difficulty. That is not to say the individual could not make an application before the Ontario Highway Transport Board. If it meets the criteria set out in the act he may, in fact, be able to obtain a licence and compete and participate in the province.
The balance of the provisions in the amendment to this act are complementary to previous sections in the act and of a housekeeping nature. We are in total support. I should say that the matter originally was brought to the minister’s attention by my colleague the member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt), who drew to the attention of the minister -- and very correctly so -- the existing abuse as it relates to carriers in his area.
The problem for the smaller carriers is a severe one, in so far as many of them are operating on a year to year basis with marginal profits. It becomes a problem when the more lucrative tours and charter business is taken away from them. It’s quite unfair for carriers who have operated in accordance with Ontario law for a number of years and who live up to the laws, pay their taxes, live within a regulated system, to find out that their business opportunities are being undermined by an individual or individuals who do not have benefit of a licence.
The problem remains in the trucking industry with the operation of Quinn Truck Lines, which has flouted the Ontario law for years and to this point, to the best of my knowledge, has been successful in getting away with it. That is a particularly unfortunate thing. I know my colleague may have some further comments on this during the course of this debate.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to the minister to know that we are in complete agreement with this legislation. We are pleased he has moved expeditiously and that the House leaders were able to get this particular bill before us today.
We believe in the balances and counterbalances that come with a regulated industry. We fought for that in the trucking industry, and we’re glad to see this brought in to give in the Public Vehicles Act some of the safeguards that are found in the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.
Our party has certainly been most vocal in our encouragement of any steps the government can take to assist the regulated law-abiding industry from unfair competition, from those who would cream off the profits, running gipsy operations, some of them worth not just a few thousand dollars, not small operators, but rather some multimillion dollar operations that would rather flout our law than obey it and follow the rules and regulations set down by this government.
We recognize that the system of regulated industry we have here in Ontario has done nothing to increase the cost to the consumer but, rather, that it has protected his service, while giving him that service at costs comparable to or better than nonregulated areas. Therefore, we welcome this bill. I’m sure it will be welcomed not only by the larger carriers but more particularly by the smaller carriers who are seriously jeopardized by certain gipsy operations. We will support the bill.
Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I want to make few comments with respect to this bill. I welcome it, I support it and I congratulate the minister for acting in a very expeditious way in bringing this legislation forward.
We talked about a problem related to certain bus operators circumventing the Public Vehicles Act. We talked about that matter in committee at some length and we had some discussion on it during committee consideration of the estimates. The minister understood the problem and the ministry people had been studying the matter long before that.
I and many carriers in my area appreciate the fact that the minister has acted with such dispatch in coping with a problem that was going to seriously jeopardize quite a number of smaller carriers in my part of the country.
The member for Etobicoke mentioned not only the smaller carriers but also some of the larger carriers. I know that is true. But the people who came to me and expressed serious concern were, by and large, smaller carriers who were suffering considerable competition, to use the phrase referred to before, from gipsy operators who were coming in and who were not licensed to do so but were circumventing the act. They were taking charter trips all over the place, without having the proper insurance to do so or having too much regard for the quality of care in terms of the actual vehicle itself. The drivers were supplied by the company and one was never sure whether they were properly licensed drivers or not. I presume they were, but I do not think anyone really pursued that point with any vigour.
The long and short of it was that it was creating havoc to the licensed bus carriers who wanted to engage in some charter business as a supplement to their other runs. A lot of them were school bus operators; some of them were other operators, but all of them were licensed under the Public Vehicles Act. They had come to the board, made application, been granted that licence and were faced with a situation where an unlicensed operator was coming in and cutting their grass so to speak. I know it was of great concern and this bill does tighten up the whole matter. It is an endeavour to tighten up and to regulate to a greater extent.
I am confident that the operations to which I make reference here and to which I made reference in committee will be brought under the act. That is not to say they will not be able to make application like everybody else. That is what they should do. If they are really interested in this type of business they should make application and come before the board. If a need is shown, fine. They are granted the licence. If the need is not shown then the licence is turned down. In that way they are dealt with in exactly the same way as everyone else.
In short I welcome the legislation and I congratulate the minister for bringing it in at this time.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I also wish to support this bill and congratulate the minister. I might just put on the record that I had a call from Chatham Coach Lines in Chatham which is very much in support of this bill. They do point out that in southwestern Ontario during the corn detasselling season the bus companies lease their buses for a period of time to the corn companies to transport students out to the fields.
Perhaps under some circumstances in some years, 22 days might pose a bit of a problem, but I do not raise this as a serious matter. I wish only to mention it to the minister. It might at some time require some revision or a somewhat slightly shorter period of time in that particular instance. Otherwise, we have nothing but compliments for the bill and we support it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Really, Mr. Speaker, I do not have too much response to all that support that I have been receiving. I am overwhelmed. I guess it must be the spirit of the day or something to have all that support to a piece of legislation I have brought forward. I do thank the honourable members for their support. This is the particular matter of the end running, I guess one would call it.
The Public Vehicles Act, through the leasing procedure, has been a problem for the ministry for a considerable period, but it is becoming more serious. That was one of the reasons I appointed the Public Vehicles Act review committee and have awaited its recommendations. Those recommendations are included in the legislation.
I thank the honourable members for their co-operation in getting this bill through the House during this session. I know there are a great many operators throughout the province who will appreciate that support.
The member for Kent-Elgin mentioned the 22-day period. This is a period of time that was arrived at after a great deal of consideration with the industry. There is also a provision in the bill -- I am not just sure what section it is -- which exempts buses which carry fewer than 35 passengers from this 22-day period. In many cases it is those smaller buses that are used for transporting employees to tobacco farms and the corn detasselling people and things of that type.
There is very little more that I can add. If there is a problem with the 22-day period, of course, as with all other legislation, we are prepared to work with the industry to review it. The Public Vehicles Act review committee is still meeting. I have asked Mr. Humphries, who has chaired that committee for the last couple of years, to continue on as chairman even though he has retired. He has agreed to do that to complete the review of the act and give me final recommendations as time goes on.
Mr. Gaunt: Run that one through again.
Mr. Cunningham: Just keep talking.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I was just trying to figure out if I had another couple of bills I could slip in here at the moment. Do we have any more bills in our back pocket? Mr. Speaker, I guess it is somewhat of a surprise to people that things have gone so smoothly this morning.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Explain that bill again.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t really know what else I can say about this very important piece of legislation. If the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) were here we could get into a lengthy debate on the definition of a bicycle, as I believe we did one night during the debate of the Highway Traffic Act. We used up a couple of hours deciding on the definition of a bicycle, but there is nothing in Bill 129 that relates to bicycles so I can’t really get into that. There is nothing about tricycles or mopeds or anything, so I thank the honourable members for their support.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
EXTENSION OF INTERIM SUPPLY
Hon. Mr. Snow, on behalf of Hon. F. S. Miller, moved resolution 14:
That the authority of the Treasurer of Ontario granted on March 27, 1980, to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing April 1, 1980, be extended to October 31, 1980, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Resolution concurred in.
REGISTERED INSURANCE BROKERS ACT
Hon. Mr. Drea moved second reading of Bill 118, An Act respecting the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the critic of the Liberal Party, who is very much in support of this bill, will shortly be joining us. I understand he is en route.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The bill is not listed for consideration this morning and it is very difficult to have 124 members sitting here with bated breath waiting to see what the government is going to do. I am sure the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) will be here as soon as it is possible.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I know that.
Mr. Nixon: I just wanted to be sure the minister did not get carried away with his own verbosity.
Hon. Mr. Drea: All I am going to do is talk until my colleague arrives.
Mr. Nixon: Want to step outside?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Are you threatening me?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that this bill was introduced on June 6. I would like to draw to the attention of the House that one of the most important aspects of this bill is that it is really the model for deregulation in the 1980s.
I said at that time that the Registered Insurance Brokers Act is a model for self-regulating legislation in that it represents a direct response to the desire for fulfilment by a group of energetic and enterprising Ontario businessmen and women.
Obviously, there may be some questions that I would like to reply to at the conclusion of second reading, but for a moment I would like to trace the background of this particular legislation, because it involves, quite frankly, a tremendous effort in terms of time and talent and, indeed, of communication by two organizations. The first is the insurance agents association and the second is the insurance brokers group.
As members will recall, in the speech from the throne in 1979, there was a statement of intent by the government that agreement in principle had been reached with both of those groups, and that they felt the consumer, the marketplace, the public, and their professional standards and professional careers could be best served by a formal move into self-regulation with, of course, the umbrella of protection that is available through the use of the impartial appeal procedure to both the aggrieved insurance vendor and the aggrieved consumer.
Shortly thereafter those two organizations came together to form the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario, which now embraces both the broker and the agent. As a matter of fact, with this legislation the old concept of the sponsored agent will disappear. I think that is very important, because now the independent agent will in reality be an independent agent not attached by a very vital umbilical cord to one or more sponsoring insurance companies.
Since that time, throughout the length and breadth of the province, the new organization has worked to draft a great deal of this statute, particularly the parts that will deal with the day-to-day operations and standards of the professional men and women in this industry. I will say that unravelling government regulation is not quite as easy as it looks. In fact, it was even more difficult than I had anticipated. On the basis of their work this spring, the RIBO organization, as well as representatives of the still existing insurance agents association and the brokers association, travelled the length and breadth of this province. They held seminars and discussion meetings which were widely advertised and extremely well attended, where there was not just a reading of a proposed draft bill but a very significant degree of dialogue and discussion and certain amounts of controversy which were settled by compromise.
Bill 118, which is the result of that province-wide input by the people who were going to be affected, has been changed substantially, and I think for the better, from the original draft proposal that was the focus of the discussion. What I want to impress upon the House is that the people who are in the day-to-day activities of that business, service industry or profession, whichever one wants to call it, have worked very hard in preparation, not just for this legislation but indeed for the most meaningful part of it, which is the implementation following passage.
They have been gradually assuming under fee for service agreements monitored by the provincial auditor many of the more routine functions that previously were handled by the superintendent of insurance or by the financial institutions division. They have been doing their work well. They have demonstrated in the initial stages that the confidence I’m sure the members of this assembly have in their ability to move into this mature and responsible stage is well placed.
I would also like to comment that this bill is unique in North America. It is the first time there has been a totally regulated profession. Bear in mind that we even designed the examination paper, as well as marked the examination paper and set up the rules by which they went into the business. Indeed we had a number of disciplinary measures whereby if they could not function properly for any reason within the profession they had to leave it. We did the audits. We did virtually everything in that particular profession. It was totally regulated.
Now coming down from that, the people who are in it want to upgrade it. They want higher standards. One of the difficulties with total regulation is that when government regulates, it very seldom attempts to raise the standard, because government is big and the person we are raising the standard on is small. Invariably every piece of legislation, be it statute or be it regulation, when it comes to raising standards or trying to improve the quality, has a grandfather clause.
In this case, the people who are out in the marketplace -- who know the complexities of the product they are selling, who are interested in the consumer getting the best possible insurance coverage at the best possible price, who are profoundly concerned that when there is a need to call upon insurance by virtue of a claim that it be settled efficiently and promptly -- are the people who want to assume this function and are willing to put up their professional standards and, indeed, their money. It is a small point, but it is going to cost them far more to assume this function in terms of their contributions into the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario organization than the licensing fee of the province. They are even willing to put their annual licence fee up as a demonstration that they intend, as the first in North America in this particular field, to set standards that will continue to be the envy of this continent.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to rise in support of the second reading of this bill. The persons who have been involved over the years in reaching this stage of legislation are to be commended. They have considered thoroughly the aspects of self-regulation as it will now be available for the first of a series of groups which have been otherwise reporting to and responsible to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
In 1979, the commitment had been made initially to follow through with self-governing statutes for the independent general insurance agents and for those persons who were involved as insurance brokers. Looking back to the first report of the select committee on company law that dealt with insurance matters, there were a variety of comments made in chapter 28 of that report with respect to the distribution system of agents, brokers and sales personnel, particularly as it affected the automobile insurance theme being discussed in that chapter. The committee was quite clear in its review of the differences among the four types of persons dealing with automobile insurance and the other general insurance lines in Ontario.
There were independent agents, so-called, independent not of the company to which they had a relationship but independent as operating business persons. There were, second, exclusive agents; third, salaried sales personnel; and finally, the group of brokers. At that point it was apparent that the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Ontario organization had about 30 per cent of the licensed agents in the province on their organizational rolls. It was clear, therefore, that the organization alone could not be the responsible group that would set all the terms and conditions for self-regulation, should that develop.
On page 213, the select committee said:
“The trend in Ontario tends to be gradually in the direction of an increased use of exclusive agents and salaried, full-time sales personnel as methods of selling automobile insurance and other forms of general insurance. In the first place, it appears that the larger insurers, the companies that are currently expanding most rapidly, consider that they can operate more efficiently through more fully trained and better supervised personnel. Secondly, they consider that their sales costs are minimized in this way. In the third place, the economies of scale that are available to larger business units -- computerization, record-keeping systems, specialization and the like -- are simply beyond the capacity of smaller business units such as the ‘independent’ agent. And yet it seems clear that there will always be a need for smaller business units such as the traditional small insurance agency to serve the public, particularly in smaller communities.”
That was the basis in 1977 on which our first report was written at a time when the former member for Wilson Heights, Mr. Vernon Singer, was the chairman of the committee.
The committee made a number of recommendations and it may be interesting to the members of the House to review just what those recommendations were in some instances. I refer particularly to recommendation four: “The committee has considered representations as to the establishment of a self-regulating council made up of licensed agents, brokers and their licensed sales people for the purpose of regulating their affairs and exercising disciplinary powers. The committee has considered this proposal and does not agree with it.” That was in 1977. When that report was tabled on March 28, 1977, it did not appear that the organizations were working together and being prepared to organize themselves so they would be placed in a position to take on the co-ordination of the operations of insurance agents and brokers within Ontario.
I am pleased to say that during the past three years that system has changed substantially. The circumstances have certainly changed as a result of the commitment and action, not only by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Ontario, but also by the Toronto Insurance Conference and other individuals representing the selling side of insurance in the general lines within Ontario.
Last August we saw the formation of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario with the prospect that self-regulation would occur for this group. We awaited with some interest the legislation that had been promised and it was unfortunately not until June 6 that Bill 118, which we have before us today, was introduced. There was a great desire, not only on the part of the superintendent of insurance and his staff, but also on the part of the other members involved in the preparation of that draft bill, to make sure it was as complete as possible.
There were two reasons for this. First of all, this bill was going to form the basic framework within which the other groups, such as real estate agents and probably the travel industry eventually, might well be involved in their own terms of self-regulation. The bill had to be carefully prepared. It had to be thoroughly considered and the regulations as well had to be developed to an almost complete stage so that on passage of the bill it could be implemented as thoroughly and as promptly as possible.
A second reason was that the licensing year for insurance agents within Ontario is as of October 1. It is, therefore, most important to have the legislation fully in place before that time so that the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario can be in a position to collect the licence fees, to organize the roles of those who should be members and to take over the supervision and responsibility for its own organization.
At first glance, it is difficult to bring a bill of this complexity into the House on the last day of the session. But I would remind members that it has been carefully reviewed, that a number of groups have been involved for up to two years and that we have before us legislation which is going to be a framework upon which further deregulation occurs, under responsibility.
The licensing year, as I said, begins on October 1. Accordingly, if the bill is not accepted by the House, there will obviously be further and substantial financial commitment for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for this next year that could otherwise be avoided by the raising of fees and self-regulation costs that will occur if the bill is in place.
There have been some concerns, and I will mention those in a moment, from three specific groups and individuals. They are the only ones of which I have heard. With the involvement that some of us had in the insurance business for the last four years with the ongoing work of the select committee on company law, it would likely be that persons with particular concerns would bring them to our attention if those concerns went to the principle of the legislation with which we are dealing this morning.
The bill, as such, sets out a framework by which the insurance operations within this province are going to be regulated from the new brokers’ view. The term “independent,” which we had referred to in our select committee report, will no longer be available. The individuals will be known as registered insurance brokers, or RIB for short. As a result, they will set out particularly their relationship, not only being responsible to the client they are serving, but also clearly showing that they have a peer group which is controlling their operations and that they have a clear relationship as well with one or more sponsoring companies.
The difficulty with the word “independent” is that the idea of an independent agent is a contradiction in terms. An agent must have a relationship with a principal and in this case it has been the insurance company. However, the word “independent” showed that there was a separate business operation of a person’s own office. I suppose some might say it is no more contradictory than the phrase “Progressive Conservative” at times. We have before us a new opportunity to clear the air and to have under the term of “registered insurance broker” a separate organization, a separate responsibility and a much more clearly defined relationship between the insurance broker, one or more insurance companies and the third and most important group, the client-consumer group that agent is serving.
It was interesting in looking at the bill in its draft form that at the same time there appeared before us the annual report of the superintendent of insurance. The interesting thing is that this is the 100th annual report of that office.
We often talk about government involvement, government regulation and government supervision, but it will be interesting to the members of the House to remind themselves that since 1877 we have had a superintendent of insurance in Ontario. The importance of that post has been based particularly upon the desire of the Legislature to ensure that there were always resources available to meet the unexpected claims of contracts that would mature some years in the future.
The end result has been, through the operations of the superintendent of insurance -- the present occupant of that post, Mr. Murray Thompson, QC, is with us -- and it is important to us to remind ourselves of this, that the ongoing obligations that are entered into between a company through an agent with a client are things that have a place for the government of Ontario to oversee.
We are dealing with a variety of unknowns when we talk about insurance. We are dealing with assets that may be called upon at any time to take care of an accident or some sort of a disaster. We are talking about the life insurance circumstances where premiums are paid, investments occur and payments are expected upon death or disability or, indeed, through some other provision of a life insurance contract, perhaps 20, 30 or 40 years down the road.
There have been a number of particular themes which this bill has undertaken, and I would refer particularly to two of them. The first is the exceptions which are under the act and they appear in section 2. Those exceptions have incurred the interest of a number of parties who have contacted me during this last week. There are three of them particularly.
One deals with the Ontario Risk and Insurance Management Society, which had concerns with respect to its inclusion or its exemption under the act. I understand from discussions I have had that the concerns which they had, dealing with some items of definition and some concerns on the representation of the public on the council, have been addressed and I believe they will be attended to as the act progresses though the organizational stage once it is in place.
The second concern that I had received was with respect to Park Lane Insurance Agencies, a company operating out of Manitoba, I believe. They were concerned with respect to certain reporting and auditing of trust accounts and there were other details that I believe have also been communicated to the superintendent of insurance.
It is my understanding that there will be a variety of perhaps unforeseen problems that may require further detailing in regulation or possibly even an amendment or two to this act as it progresses a few months down the line, but neither of those concerns in any way goes to the principle of self-regulation and that is the debate in which we are engaged at the present time.
The third concern that was brought to me was done so by Mr. John Hackett of the Hackett Insurance Agency of Etobicoke. Mr. Hackett has been involved in insurance organizations over some years and he was concerned, in a variety of detailed questions that he has prepared, with respect to the operations and the future organization and commitments of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario organization.
I have asked Mr. Hackett to provide me with further detailed information, some of which has been forthcoming. He is concerned, as are we all, with detailed questions on the public interest and on the brokers’ interest. However, I think that with the points he has raised and with the understanding I have concerning the conversations that have been held with him, not only by the superintendent of insurance but also by other members of the organizational board of RIBO, many of his detailed concerns have been answered. Of course, there are others with respect to the cost of licensing or the requirement of bonding and certain of those details.
The three groups -- the one group, the one company and the one individual -- I have heard from have raised a variety of concerns that I think will be paramount in the mind of the superintendent of insurance as this legislation is put into place. As I have said, though, I have seen no complaint with respect to the principle of this legislation and, as a result, I believe the legislation should be approved and put into place before the House rises later today.
The difficulty has been particularly the date of October 1 with respect to licensing. If the Legislature is not to return until October 6 or, as some of our colleagues think, if at all, then it is important for us to have this legislation in place in order that this organization can be under way.
I would close my remarks with a brief comment with respect to an individual whom I have known quite well and who has been appointed as the manager of this new organization. This is Mr. J. R. Coghill of Kitchener, who for some years operated an insurance agency in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and has been an important and active participant in the variety of organizations of insurance across Ontario and Canada.
The operations of Mr. Coghill in the insurance business go back to the mid-1940s when he started selling life insurance for an agency of Dominion Life at the home office where my grandfather happened to be involved, also an insurance agent. I have known him for many long years and I have found his activities and the principles under which he operates to be of the highest quality. He has had many industry association posts, including the presidency of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Ontario, and I believe the commitment which he now makes, having retired from his other business relationships, is one that is going to give mature and balanced guidance to the development of this organization for the next several years.
It is much more than just tracking down where the insurance agents are and sending out a bill to get in their licence fee. Indeed, the computerization of lists and the involvement of a variety of individuals in the ongoing functions of this organization are going to be rather heavy. If we look at section 12 of the bill, we find there are at least three committees to be set up -- first, a qualification and registration committee; second, one or more complaints committees; third, a discipline committee.
This is the framework by which deregulation is going to come to a variety of other areas reporting at present to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Under a council, an organizational structure of this type is going to take care of the detailed operations of these groups and I think that is going to be done on a serious and mature basis.
We are most involved with and dependent upon how this council will relate to the public. When one talks about deregulation and the whole idea of less government within the province, whatever area it may be, there always seems to be a good reason or another as to why one shouldn’t change. I think one has to take a more separate and independent view and to say to groups who are involved that now is the time when we expect that their own judgement and maturity can best serve the public interest, if they are sitting in judgement on their peer group and are responsible for handling the complaints and discipline matters that may result from individuals who have not been satisfactorily dealt with by their peer group.
It is, I suppose, a step towards the development of a type of professional approach. Historically, law and medicine were the two basic self-governing professions. We have seen accounting and a variety of other groups, such as engineering, achieve this position. We are also getting to the stage where we are going to see many more of what used to be the presumed trade kind of groups attempting to increase their own responsibility and to approach their relationship with the public on a serious and mature basis.
I have spent some time over these past years involved in insurance matters as the chairman of the select committee on company law. I hope later today, during routine proceedings, to table the fourth report of the committee dealing with life insurance matters. I think the bill that is before us sets out in detail the prospects of self-regulation. It is a task which the responsible leaders of the insurance sales organization in Ontario are prepared to take upon themselves. I believe the interest of the people of Ontario, of all of us as consumers, will be well served if this organization is allowed to develop, proceed and deal with its own responsibilities.
I hope that when members of the House have had the opportunity to review the bill they will accept the approach that has been taken as a good start for this organization. There may be questions that will come up as the organization gets under way. It could be that one of the themes will be the membership of council. As this organization matures, it may well be necessary to consider an expanded council, a variety of other individuals who might be appointed to it and what public interest individuals might be there.
In looking at the organization of the council, we may find it likely that of those three persons who are not members of the corporation, possibly an accountant or a lawyer or another individual may be the kinds of persons who are going to be appointed. It may be that that number should be somewhat larger. Only time will tell, as we look at the number of people who are involved.
The council could well be expanded to 10 and four, as one looks at the relationship between individuals who are members of RIBO and certain persons who are appointed. But that can be attended to if one simply looks at the next subsection of section 8. There is the opportunity to vary the size of the council, which I would presume would only be to increase it. The proportion of non-member individuals who are on the council, compared with public individuals, is maintained at at least one-quarter of those members for the public interest individuals.
I am pleased that this bill has come before us. It did come to us somewhat late in the session, I think for good reason. It has been difficult to put together this form of legislation. We have seen many changes in the insurance operations in Ontario over these past three years, not only in the matter of compulsory automobile insurance but also in a variety of details, at least some of which were suggested by the select committee on company law.
Most of the recommendations of that committee, as they have dealt with the first two volumes of our reports on automobile insurance particularly, have been accepted by the government. It has moved quite promptly to deal with a variety of the concerns that the public had expressed at that time. There are some other general concerns that were occasioned in our third report dealing with other operations of the general insurance industry and, no doubt, there may be some concerns that come from today’s report on life insurance.
I have the hope, indeed I have the expectation, that those recommendations as they are presented by the committee to the House, will also be well received by the government. I hope they will be implemented, not only where amendments to the law are concerned but also where suggestions are made to the insurance industry as to improvements that we have been able to see, from our point of vantage, as the operations have been looked at.
I am therefore quite pleased to support this bill on second reading. I hope it can be dealt with completely today and that we will have the opportunity to have this organization in place and operating before the licence year begins on October 1. We will also then have the opportunity to see whether further amendments are needed to this bill, which another session might occasion, as some of the details have to be worked out only through the experience which active operation can bring.
I commend the bill to the members of the House and I hope for its speedy passage.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party will also be supporting the bill on second reading although we will not be cheering and demanding a speedy passage of this bill through the legislative process. Neither I nor my party in this field of legislation has the love affair the Liberals and the Conservatives have for deregulation in these industries.
Mr. Kerrio: What do you call yours?
Mr. M. N. Davison: I do not think deregulation necessarily leads to less government. Rather it leads to less effective government.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That certainly sums up the philosophy over there.
Mr. M. N. Davison: The Liberal Party is championing the cause of less effective government once again, is it? There is nothing unusual in that.
The Order Paper for today is rather interesting in that while many items appear on it -- seven to be precise for this morning’s business -- this bill is not one of them. The first I heard that this bill would come up this morning was about 30 minutes ago. This leads me to wonder about the government’s ability to order the business of the House. It is simply one more case of the government showing that it just cannot run the store. Yet, with deregulation we move to even less effective government.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Are you going to support the bill?
Mr. M. N. Davison: If the member listens he will find out why we are supporting the bill.
Mr. T. P. Reid: With the flip-flops you guys have done lately --
Mr. M. N. Davison: The reason we are supporting the bill has to do with the fact that it should go to committee outside the House so people can come and tell members of the assembly what they think of it and what kind of changes they think should be made in it. I think that is a fairly good reason for supporting it on second reading so we can move to that kind of committee.
The minister feels some incredible need to rush this matter through the House in the dying hours of the sitting.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Oh, nonsense.
Mr. M. N. Davison: It is not nonsense. The government has had almost a year to move ahead with this kind of legislation and it has sat on its hands. Then it brings it in at the end of the session, on the last day.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Why don’t you have the integrity to say you want to block the bill, and get it done with?
Mr. M. N. Davison: We don’t want to block the bill. We want some kind of reasonable discussion. But if you are asking this party to accept your interpretation of what people out there think about this bill or any other bill, then you have another think coming. Every time we listen to your interpretation of what people think of what the facts are, we find out later on that the facts are different. We find out that people don’t agree with what you tell them.
Hon. Mr. Drea: You are blocking the bill and you know it. You will rue the day that you did.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. The minister will have an opportunity to reply and to conclude the debate on second reading. If the honourable member would address his remarks to the chair, I think we would have a more orderly House.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I was trying to explain that one of the reasons we wanted this bill to go to committee, Mr. Speaker, is because we are not satisfied with the minister’s interpretation of how people feel about the bill. I believe there are a number of people who are not feeling the same as the minister about there being some great need to rush it through. Some feel there should be some considered and thoughtful discussion of it beforehand.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Name one.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I will name one for the minister a bit later in my comments. If that incited the minister, I apologize. I did not realize he was such a sensitive fellow. It is a quality he has never displayed before.
The industry concerned is not in full support of the bill, as the minister has tried to imply. He challenged me a moment ago to name somebody in the industry. If the minister would like the name of somebody, I could read to him a letter dated June 12, 1980, on the stationery of William A. Bennett Insurance Agency:
“Before the Ontario Legislature, there is the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario Act proposed legislation. There are many sections in the legislation which require revision and improvement. It appears that passage of this legislation is being rushed without thorough study and input.
“I am a one-man agency who is very worried about this legislation and its implications. Without changes, I shall surely lose business by having to tell customers of long standing that they will have to take their business elsewhere.
“I request that you voice your objection to the legislation in its present form and vote that it be deferred for further study. Thank you. Yours sincerely, Joseph D. Bennett.”
The minister brought this bill into the House only recently, and he is trying to put it through on the very last sitting day of the House without any proper time set aside for committee study. Perhaps the minister thinks the Legislature should put its faith in the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope). I am not sure if he still is or if he ever was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations; he was and is, I suspect, the PA to somebody. If he is suggesting we should take his word or if he is suggesting we should take the minister’s word as to what the industry feels, I think he is wrong. I think that is one of the reasons he is wrong. The minister asked for a name; there is a name.
The other people involved, of course, are the public. There is an issue here of the public interest as opposed to the interests of the other parties involved. I want to come to that point a bit later when we discuss the makeup of the council. The reason we want it to go to committee, preferably to the justice committee outside the assembly, is so that people within the industry and members of the public can come before the committee. The Legislature then can thoughtfully take a look at the legislation and move the necessary amendments, so that we come out with a better bill.
I want to speak to the issue of deregulation, which is an important issue. The member for Kitchener spoke to that for some time. The minister has a particular passion for deregulation. While the minister does come in with these little wonders of legislation every once in a while to move in this direction, he is not happy with the business community. Actually, the minister thinks the business community is not moving fast enough towards deregulation, towards self-regulation, and has said so publicly on a number of occasions. The minister also has a rather peculiar idea about how deregulation can be in the public interest.
I am not terribly good at percentages and higher mathematics, but obviously the minister is. The minister has done a very careful and, I assume, scientific study, at God knows what cost to the taxpayers, and has arrived at the conclusion that the benefits to the public of deregulation can be measured in a scientific fashion. As a result of this massive scientific study, he has said that, for the protection of the consumer, self-regulation by business will be 1,000 times better than the government’s being involved.
Rather than that, it perhaps says it would be a lot better for consumer protection if the minister and his government were not involved in drafting and writing the legislation, and in carrying it through from day to day. The fault may lie with the sheer inability of the minister to protect consumers, and with the philosophical position of his government. We have seen countless cases over the last two or three years in which, time after time, the minister and the government refused to move to protect consumers. Frankly, I am not sure that consumers will be any better protected by business than they have been by a Tory government which had no interest in doing anything in their interest.
The question of deregulation is an important one for us in Ontario at this time, not simply because it is something that the minister is pushing so aggressively, but because of the economic realities, the structural changes we see in the corporate world. We live in a time of ever greater integration and conglomeration in the corporate world. Our companies are getting bigger and bigger. The idea that the small businessman is the underpinning of the free enterprise system is becoming more and more of a myth. The large companies play, on a daily basis, a bigger role in the economic life of our community. At such a time in our economic history, one does not move to self-regulation.
Take a look at these businesses. Take a look at the real estate business. I remember all kinds of little companies that used to sell houses in my riding. Now I see a sign reading, “Century 21.” This company has replaced so many of these independent, small companies; that is an example.
Mr. Breithaupt: That is a franchise.
Hon. Mr. Pope: He does not understand what a franchise is.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I understand exactly what a franchise is. Perhaps that is another good topic for a debate at another time: Why has this government not moved to protect people who have been involved in all of the franchise ripoffs we have seen? It is another clear case of inattention and lack of desire to do much.
At a time, though, when we have to deal with giant corporations, the government has to accept responsibility on the public’s behalf. The government has to operate as a defender of the public interest, as an advocate of consumer protection and consumer interest, not as some sort of cheerleader or impartial referee for the corporations. There are enough agencies and ministries of this Conservative government involved in protecting the corporations and in giving away public money to them, that it would be nice if we had at least one ministry working in the consumers’ interest rather than in the corporate interest.
When one looks at this bill in a detailed fashion, as we will do when we go into committee, one can see some of the serious flaws. The legislation will give the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations a new board to play around with. We have seen what the minister can do with boards. I am disturbed by the fact that he will have another one to muck about with.
The board being set up by this is the council of the corporation. What did the minister say? Speak up.
Hon. Mr. Drea: In view of their talents, it’s no wonder the member’s party is going down.
Mr. M. N. Davison: What is that? I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, the minister is mumbling. I can’t hear him.
Mr. Speaker: I can’t hear him either. Just make your own speech.
Mr. M. N. Davison: The council that will be established is clearly a council that will be dominated once again by the industry. This is the pattern in deregulation. These boards are set up and a big press release is issued about how there is going to be some public input on this board. It usually turns out that there is one person from the public and the rest of the board is totally dominated by the industry. This is another one of these cases. This is a case where eight persons will be from the industry through the corporation and three persons who are not members of the corporation will be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Who are these three people? The last update I had was they were most likely to be a lawyer, an accountant and maybe somebody from an organization like the Consumers’ Association of Canada. I think the Consumers’ Association of Canada is a fine organization, but I don’t know how it could possibly be twisted to represent that a lawyer and an accountant on such a board would somehow be working as members representing the public, and the public interest.
That is the kind of place where we need some definition about what a public representative is. Part of the problem may be the way we appoint these people. The route of appointing people through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, aside from leading to some of the things we have seen on occasion, is ineffective in terms of getting public input on these boards.
There may be some reasonable argument that what could happen is that in the legislation we could write down the name of an umbrella organization that would be asked to offer an appointment to the board. It may be possible that some members of the board, rather than being appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, could be appointed by a motion of the Legislative Assembly. There are a number of other options.
Frankly, I do not trust the government, the cabinet, to operate in the public interest when appointing people to these kinds of boards. They operate in their own world. That is how it always has been and as I suspect it always will be with the Conservative Party. We have seen numerous examples where the government has used boards, agencies or commissions as last resting places for the party faithful. A lot of the boards get turned into burial grounds for Tory hacks and Tory bagmen.
Mr. Speaker: That is really going a little far afield of the principle of this bill.
Mr. M. N. Davison: You are right, Mr. Speaker, but it forms part of the patronage network in Ontario, and I have concerns about that.
When one goes through the bill clause by clause, section by section, there are a number of areas where there are real questions to be raised by way of amendment in terms of the public interest involved, as there are real questions to be raised about the industry concerns. There are a number of possible amendments. Therefore, I think it is important that this bill go out to committee, preferably the standing committee on the administration of justice, where there can be a full and thorough airing of discussion.
I reject the phoney argument put forward by the government that there is some need to rush this through. This, as the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) has said, has been kicking about for two years. They could have brought it in earlier, or the bill can go on for a while. It is important that the bill go to committee outside of the assembly, where we can have some proper input. Therefore, I will support it on second reading and request that it go out to committee.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I support the principle of the bill. There is no point in my going on at great length to try to correct the misconceptions and misinformation we had from the last speaker. That is, without doubt, one of the strangest speeches I have heard -- that would be a nice way of putting it -- and one of the ones most filled with misinformation and with absolutely no appreciation for what the principle of the bill is about.
It is unfortunate, and perhaps it is because of the timing of the bill being brought in, that a member of the Socialist hordes who was on the select committee would not be here to speak about it. However, as I understand the bill, which we went through at great length and on which we spent a great deal of time in the select committee on company law, I would have thought it embodied the principle that even the Socialists would have liked. We are giving the insurance agents some freedom and independence from being tied and nailed down very tightly to various insurance companies where they were not independent agents but were captive agents of the companies for whom they were doing business. That is the first principle.
The second principle, when we get to talk about the consumers, is simply that now it gives the independent broker -- and he or she will be independent -- the opportunity to go to any company and get the very best deal for the client who comes through the door. He or she will not be restricted to two or three companies and have to provide a policy within or from those two or three.
I find the words of the previous speaker, the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison), incomprehensible. Obviously he has not read the bill or he has not understood it; but, as we have seen lately, that is not an unknown occurrence in regard to that particular party these days.
I have some concerns with self-regulating bodies, but as my colleague from Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) pointed out, the insurance business has been around a long time in Ontario and, I would say, has conducted itself with a great deal of integrity and has done a very reasonable job of policing its industry over the years. What this will do, of course, is to provide that self-discipline which we in the Liberal Party believe in. We believe that individuals should be given the responsibility to run their own business, to run their own lives, so they should have that responsibility, and for disciplining anyone within their particular field who might step out of line or kick over the traces.
Surely we are not the only party left in Ontario that believes in the right of individuals to look after their own needs and their own requirements. Obviously, the government feels that way, and I would think there are even some in the New Democratic Party who do not want to have Big Brother in the government looking over each and every action of each and every person in Ontario. Let us try to keep 1984 from becoming a reality by not listening to our friends on the left.
I hope that one of my friends on the left, who probably has a better understanding of the bill, will say that we went through this at great length, we heard from all those concerned and we heard from the Consumers’ Association of Canada. It is interesting to me how the NDP picks and chooses. If that group had agreed with the NDP, the party would have used this as the argument for being against the bill. But because that particular group did not agree with that particular speaker, he wondered what they were all about. I completely disagree with those kinds of tactics.
I will support the bill. I think it is a good bill. I think it is overdue. It gives me some personal satisfaction, having served on the select committee, to see some of our recommendations find their way into legislation. I am glad to see it here. I do support it and hope it will become legislation very quickly.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to put a few words on the record relating to Bill 118. The principle of self-governing, self-disciplining, self-policing organizations in Ontario should not be passed by lightly. I believe that the bill is seriously flawed and that we should not try to rush it without giving the public an opportunity to make their views and concerns known.
Some people in the Legislature do understand the background and the reason which motivated the minister to bring this bill before the Legislature. There was certainly a problem, in that the insurance companies had captive agents: in order for an insurance agent to function, he had to be sponsored by an insurance company. We all understand that, and we knew it was not a good situation that allowed these companies to dictate to what was known as an independent agent.
The select committee came to the conclusion that the word “independent” did not apply in this case, and recommended that terminology be removed. It was the thrust of the committee to free these agents so that they could function in the marketplace in the best interests of the consumer. That is all well and good. But now, if we follow the route of self-regulation, we will have forgotten all about the public interest. There is no protection for the public by going this other route. The self-regulating, self-governing and self-disciplining bodies that are out there right now are not functioning to the satisfaction of the Ontario public.
I am thinking now of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Any member of this Legislature who has tried to process a complaint with those two bodies knows it is almost impossible, and probably the most frustrating operation and exercise in which one can ever get involved.
Mr. Makarchuk: Look at the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada. That is another one. It is another self-governing agency -- the worst fiasco going.
Mr. Germa: HUDAC is another good example. Here we are blindly going down the road in the same direction. We should not assume this deregulation is going to solve all of our problems unless we take a serious look at the legislation and make sure there is some public input into the governing body.
The majority of the members of this governing council must be from the public. They should not be hand-picked, lap-dog, Tory hacks picked to be put in there and massaged by the insurance agents and brokers. That will not work. There has to be a more democratic way to find people who will be critical of the council, and who will make sure these agents are operating in the best interests of the consumer. Until such time as that happens, I cannot recommend the bill to the people of Ontario.
The complaints committee also must have a majority of the public and the discipline committee must have a majority from the public and not the people participating in the sale of insurance. The select committee did consider that, and I want to put that report on the record.
I do not know where the former speaker got the impression that the committee had recommended self-regulation. I quote from page 238 of the first report on automobile insurance of the select committee on company law, in the summary number three: “The committee has considered a proposal for the establishment of a self-regulating council for insurance agents and does not agree with it.”
What can be plainer than that? We came to that conclusion after hearing from a wide variety of people, knowledgeable in the insurance field.
I do not know where these people get the impression that we on the committee are in full agreement with it. We realized that something had to be done, but in this case the minister is using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. I think that is what is happening. It is over-reacting to solve what I see to be a minor problem. All the minister had to do to give these agents their independence to operate in the best interests of the public was to declare that they did not have to be sponsored by an insurance company. That is where the tie was. That is where the insurance industry had the agent by his throat. It is this sponsorship. The insurance company could take this businessman out of the marketplace simply by lifting his sponsorship with the superintendent. The superintendent has done a reasonable job in the past 100 years in Ontario in regulating insurance agents and brokers, and we should not accept this as the panacea to solve all our problems without further input.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the government wishes the debate to be adjourned at this point.
On motion by Mr. Germa, the debate was adjourned.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 120, An Act respecting the City of Brantford, the Township of Brantford and the County of Brant.
The House recessed at 11:58 a.m.