31st Parliament, 4th Session

L135 - Tue 9 Dec 1980 / Mar 9 déc 1980

The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Speaker: I would like to draw to the attention of honourable members the presence in our east gallery of a group of young people from the Blackheath Binbrook Lions’ midget fastball team from the ridings of Wentworth and Haldimand-Norfolk. They won the 1980 Canadian midget championship in Prince Edward Island earlier this year and they will be journeying to Edmonton to represent Canada in the 1981 World Youth Games. Would you please congratulate and welcome them.



Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the problems surrounding the Canadian National Exhibition are by now obvious and well known. While these problems do exist, the CNE and Exhibition Place continue to be an important tourist attraction for the province. In addition to the annual summer exhibition, the CNE grounds are the home of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as well as numerous trade, cultural and sports shows held there each year. It is important, therefore, that the deterioration in physical plant, in attendance and in reputation be redressed.

The CNE will continue to be a Canadian institution. We are committed to ensuring that permanence. For several months now I have been meeting with Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey and representatives of the Canadian National Exhibition. We have agreed that a full review of the use, design and existing facilities of the CNE and Exhibition Place is in order.

Accordingly, Mr. Godfrey and I have agreed that we should strike a three-member committee under the chairmanship of my assistant deputy minister of tourism, John Maxwell. Other members will be a representative of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and a representative of the Canadian National Exhibition. The mandate of the committee will be to study the future of the Canadian National Exhibition and Exhibition Place and make recommendations which include a long-range plan, a workable marketing plan and proposals for development and funding. The costs of this study are expected to be shared equally by Metropolitan Toronto and my ministry.

A comprehensive research project will be commissioned to monitor consumer opinion of both the existing grounds and buildings and the CNE itself. The research project will also determine consumer needs and preferences for facilities such as Exhibition Place. Following the initial phase of the review, a detailed feasibility study will be prepared to include long-range forecasts, economic impact statements, effects on tourism and analyses of sporting, cultural and trade show requirements and facilities.

When the results from these two studies have been received, a formal plan will be proposed, we hope no later than June 30, 1981.

We believe this comprehensive review of the Canadian National Exhibition and Exhibition Place is much needed. We want to ensure a viable and long-term future for this important tourist attraction in our province and we are prepared now to undertake this initiative towards that goal.


Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to be able to announce to all honourable members here this afternoon that the family of the late Conn Smythe has chosen to donate Mr. Smythe’s papers to the archives of Ontario. Their gift involves 24 boxes of personal papers and photographs which span 68 years of Mr. Smythe’s deep involvement in sport, business and community affairs.

The papers include files on the National Hockey League, Maple Leaf Gardens, horse racing and breeding, the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, the Ontario Community Centre for the Deaf, an extensive file of personal correspondence and a large collection of photographs. It is a remarkable record that represents an intriguing and important contemporary addition to the archives.

The Smythe family has asked that the documents remain private until January 1, 1982. As minister responsible for the archives, I will, of course, respect the family’s wishes. During the next year, the staff of the archives will catalogue the collection so that, when it is made public, it will be properly organized for scholars and other interested people.

Such donations as the Conn Smythe papers are basic to our need as a people to know and to celebrate our heritage. I know all honourable members will want to join me in thanking the Smythe family for the generous way in which they have chosen to share the life and times of a remarkable Canadian with their fellow citizens.


Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, in October, my colleague the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) announced a $165-million, 10-point program of energy initiatives designed to assist Canada to achieve self-sufficiency in crude oil by the end of this decade.

Today I would like to advise honourable members as to the details of two of these programs which will be administered by my ministry. The first is a $10.6-million, five-year extension of our successful energy conservation program for government buildings. The second is a program for converting government buildings from oil to other energy forms.

Four years ago the cabinet established an energy saving goal of 15 per cent in government buildings, a program involving more than 2,000 buildings occupied by nine ministries and some 35 million square feet in all. Working with the Ministry of Energy and the resident ministries, buildings were individually examined for energy efficiency. While the details of individual programs are available and need not be repeated at length here, I would like to point out one case by way of example. I refer to the provincial court and registry office in London where energy usage was cut in half over a three-year period with savings of more than $120,000. Improvements in the building cost slightly more than $100,000, so the pay-back period was about two and a half years.

2:10 p.m.

Mr. J. Reed: When are you going to start on Queen’s Park?

Hon. Mr. Wiseman: It’s coming. The improvements made are typical of such projects and begin with the effective management of energy through changes in operations and modification of controls for heating, cooling and lighting. These changes help reduce the intake of fresh air which must be heated or cooled and reduce unnecessary exhaust of air already heated or cooled. They also control the distribution of warm and cool air within the buildings, directing it where it is required when it is required. For example, automatic thermostats reduce temperatures when the building is not occupied. Lighting is also monitored and maintained at the appropriate levels.

There are other cases where the magnitude of savings is similar to that achieved in London so that, taken as a whole, the results of the program have been gratifying. Our savings goal of 15 per cent was reached within two years. It has since been surpassed, and it is now estimated that by the end of the five-year program we will have achieved a net energy saving of more than 21 per cent.

The success of this program is even more dramatic when one looks at the cumulative energy savings in dollars. Subject to confirmation at the end of the present fiscal year, the value of energy actually saved will be more than $24 million, while expenditures will be about half that amount. During the program, further opportunities for savings were identified and resulted in the $10.6 million extension I am detailing today.

We have telescoped the initial program and the five-year extension so that we now have a nine-year program ending in 1986. In the extension period we will be working to achieve further energy savings of 7.5 per cent, worth $8 million. I should point out that this extension phase will be the more difficult part of the program as the opportunity for the greatest savings has already been realized. Added to the savings already achieved, our revised goal is to save 25 per cent of the energy used in government buildings. This saving is worth about $32 million. Total program expenditures to achieve these savings will be about $20 million.

Before considering the second program, I would like to turn to a project of considerable interest to members; that is, the Legislative Building. It is an important symbol to the public of the need to conserve energy wherever possible. I am pleased to advise honourable members that my ministry plans to replace all the windows in this building with tight-fitting, modern, aluminum, double-glazed units.

It is worth noting that in spite of the apparent benefits it has not been seen up until now to be a cost-effective project. While the economics might still be questioned in terms of cost-effective savings on this investment, the government feels it is nevertheless important and must be undertaken. Because the work will involve the replacement of complete units, including casements, it must be done in the summertime. Tenders for this work will be let before the end of the winter, and construction will start when the House rises for the 1981 summer recess.

I would now like to turn to our program to convert government buildings from oil to other forms of energy. About 21 per cent of government buildings are heated with oil. Of these, 338 could be converted from oil to other energy forms. The goal of the program is to displace 4.4 million gallons of oil a year for an estimated annual saving of $1.1 million. While this program is presented with a five-year implementation, we feel it could be completed within three years with the co-operation of the gas companies involved.

In closing, I would like to make two final points. The first is that savings realized as a result of both these programs are savings repeated year after year throughout the life of the building, savings that increase in value as the cost of energy rises. It is also worth noting the cost of building improvements is a cost that is incurred only once.

My last point is this: An important factor in establishing its energy program was that the government must provide leadership in conservation and related matters. I believe it is fair to say that the achievements of our programs to date and the goals we have set for the next five years do exactly that.


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief statement but, as I just got the information as I came to the House, I do not have a written copy. Might I have permission to proceed?

Mr. Speaker: Is it agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Speaker: Please proceed.

Hon. Mr. Snow: As the honourable members may know, Mr. Speaker, the Urban Transportation Development Corporation has submitted proposals for the intermediate capacity transit system in the United States. Just as I was leaving my office this afternoon to come to the House, I was informed that at a public presentation this morning in Los Angeles, the technical evaluation team of officials from the city of Los Angeles has released its report, which has evaluated the UTDC proposal, and recommended to the Los Angeles city council that a contract be negotiated with UTDC for the building of their new downtown people mover.

This recommendation comes forward after a very complete investigation and evaluation of the price, the technical compliance, the life-cycle costs, and the adherence to the minority business enterprise regulations in that city. I am pleased to announce to the members that was announced in Los Angeles a very short time ago.



Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications a question about the UTDC technology and the Premier’s statement yesterday concerning his agreement with the authorities in British Columbia for the installation of the facility in Vancouver.

Can the minister indicate whether a contract exists or whether there is just a verbal agreement between either the two provinces or some other authority? The reason I ask this is that the Premier in his statement yesterday indicated there was a contract with the greater municipality of Vancouver, or whatever authorities, probably with the government of British Columbia.

I see the Premier has taken his place, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask him for clarification. Can he indicate to the House whether a contract has been signed or is in existence, or was this an agreement entered into by the Premier himself or representatives of UTDC? I have a feeling that when the Premier was out there proposing this special commission for western problems in general, he sat down with somebody and came back with this agreement on the back of an envelope.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the acting leader of the Liberal Party feels we personally negotiated this contract and that I came back with it on the back of an envelope, but I have to disabuse the honourable member of that idea. I did not come back with a contract on the back of an envelope.

The Minister of Transportation and Communications will have more detailed information. My recollection of my statement was that the government of British Columbia announced on Saturday morning at a breakfast, which I did not attend, because I was somewhere at 30,000 feet while they were having breakfast --

Mr. T. P. Reid: You saw the latest polls.

Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I did not.

Mr. Swart: Got your head in the clouds again?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Better to have my head in the clouds than where the member has his head on occasion.

Mr. Swart: It is not me being accused of having my head where it shouldn’t be.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I see.

My understanding -- and I think I said this in the statement -- is that the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mr. Vander Zalm, announced at the breakfast that the government of British Columbia was prepared to share, roughly on a two-thirds, one-third basis, with the greater municipality -- whatever the transit organization is --

Mr. Nixon: The municipality of greater Vancouver.

2:20 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Something of that nature. They are supporting it.

My impression is that there will be some documentation yet. When I was asked by members of the media, who have taken a very great interest in just how performance bonds work, I explained to them that quite obviously one does not provide a performance bond until it is specified in the contract what it is he is to perform. I doubt the performance bond the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked for would be available until the contract itself is finalized.

The commitment is from the British Columbia government. There will be some details as to some aspects of the contract to be finalized, but it is a commitment from the government of British Columbia, and I did have some conversations while I was out there.

Mr. Nixon: Does the Premier realize the problem presented to all members of the House? That problem will arise when a bill is presented to us for debate -- possibly today -- which declares UTDC not a crown corporation and yet gives the government the authority to enter into performance bonds.

The $300-million bond with greater Vancouver may be relatively small compared with the one we will be asked to support for Los Angeles. While the Premier is convinced not a nickel would have to come out of that bond, he must realize, for those who have observed the situation over the years, he is batting zero in the public transportation proposals he has put forward in the past, if we are to go on his record. How can we move without a contract or without any further knowledge about what is proposed by the Premier and his friends in British Columbia? How can we really consider the thing in a rational way?

Hon. Mr. Davis: The acting leader of the Liberal Party can approach this in a very rational way, as he does some subjects. I do not think this should be any exception. I only say to him, if he is saying his party will not support that legislation, I will be profoundly disappointed.

I say to the acting leader of the Liberal Party that these are the first four submissions of this detailed nature, exclusive of the city of Hamilton, that UTDC has made for this particular system. If there are three to date that have been determined, UTDC is batting 1.000, which is not bad in any person’s league. I also say to him I understand the figure in Los Angeles will be in the neighbourhood of $130 million.

Mr. Nixon: You do not include your failures.

Hon. Mr. Davis: All I suggest to the member is, if he wants to oppose a bill that will provide close to $1 billion worth of work for UTDC employees in Ontario and technology that in Los Angeles outbid some of the major companies in the world in terms of its technical capacity and its price, then I say, be my guest, oppose that bill and live with his own conscience in terms of what he is doing to the economic life of this province and this country.

Mr. Eakins: The Premier is twisting it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not twisting anything.

Mr. Nixon: You certainly are.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not at all. We cannot and will not be able to. The Los Angeles contract, if it finally emerges, has to be approved by the city council of Los Angeles. The approval the minister announced just a few moments ago came from the technical advisory committee. It is also supported by the federal agency, which is very important in terms of the bids.

Mr. Makarchuk: The cameras have stopped taking pictures.

Mr. Speaker: Order. It has taken five and a half minutes for this answer.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I say to the member for Brantford, he is always more interested in the cameras than I am. I do not even bother to look up there. I see he is looking at them all the time.

Mr. Speaker: Do you have anything further to answer?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes. I have quite a bit to add, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Martel: This socialism is going too far!

Hon. Mr. Davis: He is provoking me, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, he is.

Hon. Mr. Davis: He is being provocative.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, he is. I agree.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I say to the acting leader of the Liberal Party -- and I know his party will come around to support this bill -- this bill is essential in terms of the economic activities of UTDC. It is essential in this particular part of the business to provide the performance bonds. I said to his leader or somebody yesterday that the moment the contract is signed and sealed with the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted, the moment the performance bond is finalized, not only will we be delighted to table it here but also I will send the member personal copies. I will send it to the member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith). I will send it to whoever wants it, because we will be taking great delight in the fact that, in spite of his reservations, in spite of the way one of his members has described this as being a turkey, in spite of the opposition of the member for Hamilton West, we are on the verge of a very significant breakthrough in transit and economic life here in Ontario. If those people had any wisdom at all, they would join in its support with enthusiasm.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I will refrain from asking the Premier for support when we propose crown corporations in areas like mining machinery where some government leadership might also be of benefit to the people of the province.

I have a supplementary question.

Can the Premier outline for the House the nature of the $300-million bond which the people of Ontario are being asked to take on which, according to the legislation coming to the House this week, will be undertaken by the corporation but which the Legislature and the province would eventually have to make good if the bond were ever called? What is the nature of the $300-million commitment and to what extent are we committed? Is it the full $300 million or only a portion thereof?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am trespassing into the field of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I must confess to the member, I have never personally built a transit system in my life.

Mr. Roy: You bragged about it a lot.

Hon. Mr. Davis: So it has taken a while, I say to the member for Ottawa East, but it is on the verge of being successful. It upsets him that it is successful. He would have loved to have seen it fail. He has no faith in this province. He has no faith in the technical capacities of the people.

I was not going to answer that.

I can only assume a performance bond will mean exactly what it says, that the system will perform in accordance with the specifications upon which the contract is bid. It will then, of course, conform to the contract that is executed. I assume the contract will call for the completion of the system, that the vehicles work, that the control system works, et cetera. UTDC, which will be the prime contractor, quite obviously will have involvement from the people building the guideways, for instance. I do not anticipate UTDC will have problems with the guideway system. I assume it will obtain, from whoever constructs the guideways in Vancouver, a bond or whatever in terms of that portion of it.

I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, it will be fairly similar to most performance bonds. We will be delighted to share it with the member. By and large, a performance bond means that for which they are contracting performs. I think it is very simple.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of the Environment having to do with the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls.

Being aware of the government’s commitment of $400,000 to plasma arc research at the Royal Military College, why did the minister not give some additional support to the diesel destruction unit under experimental development by D and D Disposal Services rather than forcing them to go to Manchester, England, for the kind of testing and development which might mean the facility will not be so readily available to us?

In conjunction with that, does his commitment to the fusion principle, or high-temperature destruction, mean we will not have to put up with PCBs in the proposed South Cayuga site but that, whatever the positive results will be, we will be able to destroy PCBs on site?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: With respect to the first part of that question, Mr. Speaker, we reviewed the proposal. We gave those reports to the federal government. I think it wanted to see whether there was merit in it and was prepared to fund more than we were prepared to fund. We had greater reservations, I guess.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: What, the English people?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, for the original request for funds. We think there are some real technical problems with that facility. We had to make some choices as to where we would put our research dollars, and we put them in the plasma arc concept.

There are other research proposals going on now. For instance, there is the one with the jet engine; I signed an approval two or three days ago for that to be carried on here in the general Metropolitan Toronto area. Other research is going on, not necessarily with our dollars involved. I just say that to give a broad prospective of what research is going on at the moment.

We would not be happy if we had to lose any method. At the same time, we need to have some priorities on where we spend our money. We think we have done it appropriately, and most technical experts would agree with us on that point.

With regard to the member’s second question, there is no doubt -- and it has always been the policy of this government -- that we would like to destroy PCBs on site. That has been our position and it will continue to be our position. I hope, before any facilities for storage are built, the technology can be proven.

We have a dual responsibility here. We have to be very sure the destruction of PCBs is complete. We will put a lot of resource and effort into making sure that, whatever method is chosen, public safety will be our first criterion. That is extremely important to us. We likely will have a method of destroying PCBs on site. It has so many advantages. It reduces the transportation risk, as one illustration. If we can, we will do it on site. We will not store them in South Cayuga or wherever it might be. We do not want to see storage as our prime objective.

Mr. Nixon: The minister, in his original statement about South Cayuga, made reference to a kiln incinerator. Will he confirm that this has nothing to do with any attempt to burn the PCBs in South Cayuga? Will he confirm that it is not a part of the original plan and the plan does not envisage transporting PCBs to South Cayuga even if it does go forward, which frankly I doubt?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: The member and I differ on the latter part of that.

The proposal was for a rotary kiln. Any rotary kiln has a capacity for the destruction of a large variety of chemicals. That is one of the things we hope will go there. Everyone would share the view that destruction is far better than storage, regardless of where or how.

Mr. Nixon: But those kilns will not do it.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: That is not proven yet. We think there is a great potential in rotary kilns. But because of the transportation to the kiln, it is not the method of choice. If we had our druthers, it would be the plasma arc to do the destruction on site. We think it is better.

We have to face the reality of today. Those materials are in our society. We want them destroyed safely and completely. I know the member knows the incomplete destruction of PCBs can lead to a more hazardous situation than either storage or total destruction. There must be total destruction, not partial destruction, and we will use the best facilities to do so.

Mr. Isaacs: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Today, as on November 20, when the minister responded to a similar question from myself about the D and D Disposal diesel engine process, he insinuated that D and D Disposal were asking for money from his ministry. Does he not understand that D and D Disposal was simply asking for approval to go ahead with further research in Ontario?

Does the minister not understand that the company feels his ministry has stood in its way? It is because of the obstructionism by officials of the ministry that they have had to sign a contract with a corporation in the United Kingdom. This means the benefits of research and possible development of the method have gone outside the country.

Does the minister not think we should do more than put all our eggs in one basket? Does he not think that, if the diesel engine has any hope of success at all, as Environment Canada believes it does, then the ministry has a responsibility to encourage the research and development to take place here in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, the member and I see this quite differently. We did not put roadblocks in its way. The fact that we did not enthusiastically endorse it is not the same as saying we put roadblocks in its way. They are capable of doing their own research. I am surprised that, all of a sudden, it seems both parties are terribly supportive of that process. I had previous information that indicated the member too had some very serious concerns.

Let me put it very simply. I am sure the member and we agree that the most important thing is that the destruction be complete and total for the safety of everyone concerned. That is where my ministry will come into full play. We will have an opportunity to assess that. We did nothing to discourage them. We did not give them much encouragement, because we have some technical reservations. But that does not mean they could not proceed. That is where the member and I do not agree.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health if I can get to see him. My question is about the difficulty the people in Ontario continue to have in getting service from specialists across the province at Ontario health insurance plan rates despite the claim of the minister that only 16 per cent of doctors across the province have opted out.

Is the minister aware that, when one compares the number of opted-out specialists he has given to the House with the number of full-time specialists one finds in the tax returns for Ontario, that the opting out among specialists now has reached the level of 38.8 per cent? Does he not agree that, when the effective level of opting out among specialists in Ontario has now reached almost two specialists out of every five, it is time for the government to outlaw extra billing, as was proposed in the Hall commission report?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what kind of figures the leader of the third party is playing around with. I can tell him the figures we have given him are based on the physicians billing OHIP. I have always told him that he has to add to those figures the number of physicians, including specialists, who are in salaried position and who do not bill OHIP or patients one way or another. In fact, if he added those into the total number of physicians practising and delivering services, the opted-out rate would actually be lower, not his cooked-up figures.

Mr. Cassidy: Does the minister know how many full-time, fee-for-service physicians there are in the province? Is he not aware that, according to the figures he has tabled in this Legislature, 38.8 per cent of those full-time physicians in the province, if they are specialists, have opted out, and that the level of opting out among general practitioners is much higher than he has given the House to understand? Does he not know how many full-time doctors there are in the province, and why can he not share that information with the House so we can know to what extent his tolerance of opting out has eroded medicare in the province?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The figures I have given the member on every occasion have been totals of the physicians billing services in Ontario. That includes people who are billing the plan, which accounts for about 93 per cent of all the claims. It also accounts for those practising physicians who are billing their patients directly, some of whom are billing no more than what OHIP reimburses but who are billing them directly none the less. They are all the physicians billing at that time.

The member or one of his researchers, in the traditional quality of research in the last year or two, has cooked up some other figures on some other basis; I do not know what. I will be glad to see them. I suspect that in the final analysis the figures I have given the member are correct.

Mr. Conway: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder what the minister has to say in response to what Mr. Justice Emmett Hall indicated about the Ontario proposal to deal with patients who want to be directed to an opted-in physician in cases where that is their request. The evidence in the Hall report clearly indicates that, on the sample that particular inquiry dealt with, that proposal in Ontario that has been engaged in by the minister and the Ontario Medical Association has, according to the two analysts involved, been an abject failure. What does he have to say in response to that rather sharp indictment of his own government’s proposal to deal with the opting-out problems?

2:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure which report the member is referring to but, if it is the one I am thinking of, it was based on out-of-date information, and very limited information at that. I had a letter from the federal minister in the last few days indicating that the reports are going to be available for release in the future. I am pleased about that because, as I say, I think our conclusions have been to the effect that that particular study, if it is the one done out of Hamilton, was very skimpy, very limited and very biased from the start.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications what the government intends to do for transit riders in this province, since it is prepared to talk about the successes of the Urban Transportation Development Corporation out in western Canada.

In view of the fact that ridership is up in the public transit systems of the major cities of the province, and in view of the fact there are now fare increases that are projected or have recently come into application in Metropolitan Toronto, Ottawa-Carleton, Hamilton, Sudbury, Kingston and Oshawa, will the government undertake to provide enough additional subsidy for transit riders to ensure there are no further fare increases in 1980-81 for transit riders in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot make the blanket commitment that there will be unlimited funds available to any municipality that might wish them to eliminate the need for an adjustment in transit fares. I will say that I expect in the very near future to be able to announce to the 60-odd municipalities in Ontario that operate transit systems what the funding level will be for 1981. As soon as I have final confirmation of my budget allocation, I will make that announcement to the municipalities, as I have done in previous years.

Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps the honourable minister could be more explicit. Does the government have a policy about transit fares, or is the government’s policy that it simply will allow the transit fares to continue to increase despite the very clear interest among the public in using public transit systems, as expressed in the ridership, despite the Treasurer’s (Mr. F. S. Miller) pleas to the federal government to become involved with public transit? Is the government not prepared to do more to assist municipalities to ensure that they can maintain an adequate and affordable alternative to private transportation using petroleum-based fuels?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, as you well know, although the leader of the New Democratic Party may not, this government has a very major commitment to public transit in this province. I might say it is a much greater commitment than any other jurisdiction of which I am aware.

As honourable members know, our policy is to fund capital construction of public transit at the rate of 75 per cent. We fund the total operating costs of the public transportation system on a formula basis as a percentage of total operating costs, depending on the size of the municipality. There are other formula adjustments depending on the growth rate in that municipality. It is also our policy that the operation of the transit system, the financial management and the establishment of the percentage of the operating costs that are collected from the fare box are left to the jurisdiction of the municipal government.

Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the honourable minister consider using the unemployment index in certain municipalities as a guide to provision of additional assistance to that municipality so that at least the unemployed would have the opportunity of using the public transit at a reduced rate in their search for employment?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I had not considered such a suggestion. I must say it is unique. I think I would have some difficulty in trying to establish formulas for public transit systems based on a fluctuating unemployment rate that may change from day to day or from month to month. We fund the transit systems very liberally, if I might use that horrible word, and I and my ministry have an excellent relationship with the transit systems in this province.

It is quite interesting, Mr. Speaker, to note that in Ontario we subsidize the construction of capital projects at 75 per cent. I note in the British Columbia announcement they are going to subsidize at 662/3 per cent, so the member can see that we are doing much better than any other jurisdiction.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Transportation and Communications: As I am sure the honourable minister is aware, in 1975 United Parcel Service made an application to the Foreign Investment Review Agency to purchase two Canadian companies, Genoble Distributors Limited and Delivro Canada. That application was disallowed on June 26, 1975. What was the position of the Ontario government on that application?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry and Tourism is the minister responsible for making presentations of the province’s views to FIRA. I understand that he is bound by the federal act and cannot state those views. He may wish to answer that question further.

Mr. Peterson: Would the minister redirect that question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism?

Mr. Speaker: Do you have anything further to add?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I can only say that federal legislation sets out the ground rules and binds us to confidentiality.

Mr. Peterson: Now that the Minister of Transportation and Communications is at least seized of jurisdiction in an application they are undertaking by way of appeal to cabinet, would he not agree with me that there is no reason to give away a right in this province to a foreign company, particularly when, if one takes the evidence of a number of Canadian companies at face value, there is going to be a loss of jobs here and there is going to be very serious competition for our Canadian sector? Would the minister not agree with me that this should be looked at very seriously by the cabinet and probably be turned down?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I do not particularly agree with that. As the honourable member knows, the UPS application and hearing has a long history. The UPS did establish a Canadian company, although it is wholly owned by the US parent -- as are numerous other transportation companies that are in competition and are opposing UPS’s licence. They are also in the same position; they are Canadian companies or Ontario companies owned by foreign parents.

The rehearing of the UPS application was a lengthy and detailed hearing. I think an excellent report was written on the reasons for a decision. It was very complete. That decision was brought down a month or six weeks ago. That licence has been issued based on that certificate. There are appeals before cabinet which will be considered very carefully by my colleagues and a decision will be rendered in due course on those appeals.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: He will know that the three-cents-a-dozen increase in the farm gate price of eggs is imminent and, as he also knows, this has been justified by the National Egg Marketing Board on the basis of producers’ costs. However, the minister will recall that in the case of the farm gate milk price increase of less than three cents last year, he stood aloof while the processor and the retailer marked that up to seven cents to the consumer. Will the honourable minister now give this House and consumers a firm commitment that he will use the power he constitutionally possesses at this time to investigate and prevent excessive markup on eggs so the increase to the consumer will be kept to the absolutely necessary minimum?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Of course I will, Mr. Speaker. I do that every time.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Swart: Does the minister realize that not only is this increase in the price of eggs going to take place, but it has been announced by Mr. Ken McKinnon, chairman of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, that milk will likely go up again in February by two --

Mr. Speaker: Order. Your original question dealt specifically with the price of eggs. You asked the minister if he would monitor. He said, “Of course I will.” Your supplementary should be something that arises out of the answer. You have started on milk now. A new question.


Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. There is some concern in the Ottawa area on the part of the legal and judicial community that the wholesale renovations taking place in the court facilities at 1 Nicholas Street are an indication the government has changed its mind, to the apprehension of some, about the new courthouse. Can the honourable minister assure the public of Ottawa the new courthouse will proceed on schedule, on time, with no delay as a result of these extensive renovations at 1 Nicholas?

Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will give the House that assurance.

Mr. Roy: That is fine. You should be congratulated. That is the first straight answer in this session.

Is the minister aware that as far as the renovations at 1 Nicholas Street are concerned, the chief of police and the Ottawa Police Commission are very concerned about security? They say that prior to the renovations at 1 Nicholas, the police forces were not consulted and, as a result, the police chief says the security “is a bloody mess. There are so many areas where people could escape, you can’t count them.” Is the minister aware of that situation and does he intend to assist the Ottawa police by giving them extra financial assistance as he does in the Toronto, London and Peel areas?

Hon. Mr. Wiseman: The renovations are to extend the provincial criminal courts at 1 Nicholas Street to twice the present size. As well as the renovations, that cost is to take care of the lease and leasehold improvement. I will have to check whether part of the improvement is to have holding cells.

I think part of the honourable member’s question should come under the Ministry of the Solicitor General when it gets into security and whether we will put more police in that area. We are moving along. The member knows the lawyers in that area, as well as the people who are backed up with court cases, will be glad of this additional court space. I am surprised that some of the people quoted in articles in the Ottawa papers would be saying some of the things they are. They should be thankful to get those court cases off the backlog in the five years while we are waiting for the new courthouse.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I hesitate to ask the minister whether the member for Ottawa East has expressed an interest in coming to some of the meetings about the courthouse.

Mr. Roy: A point to correct the record; a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have attended the only meeting to which I have been invited. I do not invite myself to these meetings like the member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Cassidy: My question to the minister is the following: Will the government now undertake that the mezzanine, the public area of the courthouse building, will include information services about Ontario, access to publications of the province of Ontario printer not otherwise available, and the various paralegal and quasi-legal services I have been recommending for some time be included in the courthouse so it is genuinely a palace of justice and not just a limited courthouse building?

Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, when the honourable member asked that same question in estimates a week or so ago, I thought I made it quite clear that we had circulated a questionnaire, asking the ministries that he had given us on his shopping list, and others, for possible candidates to go in there. Up until that time and until the present time we have not received all those reports back, but we will be looking at it and seeing whether there is an interest. If there is, we will try to accommodate some of those interests.


Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. It concerns the case of Stephanie Lemieux, whose parents are within the jurisdiction of the Carleton separate school board. Stephanie, who is six and who is from a French-speaking family, has a severe speech disability, which apparently can only be treated therapeutically in a course provided in the Outaouais area on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. The separate school board has made application for funding for her course, and for her transportation, to the regional office of the Ministry of Education and has been refused.

Can the honourable minister indicate to us what she can do about this case? Furthermore, can she tell us what difference Bill 82 might make to this case once it is proclaimed?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, this case was brought to my attention last week by the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling). The decision taken by the regional office was also brought to my attention. It is a matter that is under consideration at the present time. We are aware there are some limitations within the scope of potential available resources for a number of areas in the province at this point. A program has been established in Hull for a specific group of young people. We are examining this to see whether there is some way in which we can be of assistance to the Carleton board and to that family.

The intent of Bill 82, as I think the honourable member knows, is that within a five-year period there will be within the province an appropriate program for all children, regardless of their exceptionalities, and there will be mechanisms available to ensure that boards will be able to purchase the programs if they cannot provide them themselves.

Ms. Gigantes: Does the Minister of Education mean to indicate to us that a six-year-old will have to wait up to five years to have the appropriate funding come from the provincial level of government through to the Carleton separate school board? Will this case be met once Bill 82 is proclaimed?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member obviously was not listening to what I said. I said this matter was under consideration within the ministry right now.


Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I too have a question for the Minister of Education. Can the minister advise this House whether the same situation exists in relation to the Norfolk teachers’ strike as exists in Wellington county, where about one half of the cabinet-approved professional membership fees paid by members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which fees are totally tax exempt, go into a cabinet-approved reserve fund, out of which tax-free money, strikes by teachers are underwritten? In other words, a cabinet-approved scheme allows teachers to fund their strikes out of money that would otherwise be subject to income tax. Have the teachers in the Norfolk strike been funded in the same way?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge the fee that is approved under the legislation by the Minister of Education for membership within the teachers’ association is directed towards association activities primarily, towards activities that help teachers in professional development, in organizing and becoming knowledgeable about labour-management relationships in bargaining and other federation activities.

It is my understanding that one federation under the Ontario Teachers’ Federation had considered last year making application for a significant increase in its so-called membership fee to fund a strike fund. That proposal has never come forward. I think it probably died on the vine.

3 p.m.

Whether the additional funds which the federations establish to ensure they have appropriate funds for support of teachers on strike come from membership fees, I have no way of knowing at this point, but it is my understanding special levies, which are subject to income tax, have been imposed from time to time in order to replenish that strike fund.

Mr. Stong: Does the minister intend to approve a proposal by the executive of an annual membership fee increase for 1981-82 to a maximum of $375 without investigating what it is going to be used for and what portion will go into the reserve fund out of which teachers’ strikes are financed?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I believe the honourable member is speaking about OECTA’s proposal of 1979-80, which did not, in fact, come forward at that time. I have heard nothing of a further proposal from OECTA, but the amount being suggested by the honourable member would be more than a 250 per cent increase in the membership fee for that federation and obviously could not be considered to be an appropriate membership fee increase. Obviously there must be some other purpose in that kind of increase and that most certainly would be investigated, not only by the ministry, but obviously by the executive of the OTF as well.


Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Is the honourable minister aware since the United Steelworkers of America in Elliot Lake started to express its concerns over the dust conditions in the surface crushing and grinding operations in 1978 and 1979, the results of tests taken to date show respirable silica dust levels to be either equal to or above the threshold limit value in 67 per cent of the samples taken? If this is the case, what action has his ministry taken to guarantee or to protect the workers occupied in the Elliot Lake area?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take the question as notice and report.

Mr. Martel: Supplementary: Recently, I understand, the federal government has removed 17 regulations concerning uranium and thorium mines, and apparently the federal ministry is about to propose the introduction of TLVs for silica dust at two milligrams per cubic metres. Is the Ontario government now prepared to introduce its silica program? As I understand it, is the Ontario government going to move to one milligram per cubic metre? If that is the case and the ministry is moving to one milligram per cubic metre and the federal government is moving to two, how in God’s name are we ever going to protect the Elliot Lake workers, because the federal jurisdiction and the regulations therein supersede the Ontario regulations?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member knows, last summer an intent to regulate certain substances was published and one of them was silica. The parties had until November 28 to submit their comments. Those comments are in and we are now reviewing them, but the ultimate decision will be from a provincial point of view and it has not been settled yet. I was unaware the federal government had indicated its intent to legislate with regard to silica, but I will be glad to review that as well.


Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps you could put your question while he is in transit.

Mr. Hall: That is a very good idea, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister advise how many gallons of liquid PCBs are stored at the Smithville site of Chemical Waste Management Limited, and will the minister assure the House that he will reject requests for increased storage of PCBs at Smithville, bearing in mind that all along the Smithville plant was intended to be a transfer station and not a storage depot?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, certainly we will be able to tell the honourable member how many gallons are there. I do not have that figure in my mind. As the member knows, it keeps changing. An upper limit of gallonage has been approved, so I will give the member an update, and I think we can do that pretty accurately, of how many gallons are there now. That is the first part of the question. Of course, I would have to get that information.

In answer to the second part of the question, we have not had any requests for extended facilities. I hope we do not. I would like to think we can get on with the job of having either a permanent site or a permanent method of destruction. The commitment to Smithville was that it would not exist after one or the other existed. I am hoping we can either have the site to destroy or the site to store permanently and securely, if necessary, in time to do what the member would like.

Mr. Hall: Nevertheless, there have been spokesmen for the Environment ministry who said the ministry is considering a request for expansion of the site facilities. This is my concern. I know there should be an upper limit and that limit will be reached. But there should be no more added to Smithville, in my view -- certainly without an environmental hearing, which has never happened.

I am confused that the ministry spokesman has indicated that such an application is under consideration.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, it is not.

Mr. Speaker: Is the minister not? That is what the question should say.

Mr. Nixon: The situation is confused, don’t you agree?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I understand the member’s concern and such an application certainly has not come to my desk asking for an extension. It would not be without the appropriate hearing. I assure him of that. I do not think we can do other than what we have done to this time. We have monitored the situation very well over in Smithville. The air quality in that city has proved to be excellent as a result. There has been no change. He is asking about the future. I guess we will have to deal with the future when we get there. I am well aware the commitment was made in the first instance to the people of Smithville and I intend to keep it.


Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Education, but I see she has left the chamber.

Mr. Speaker: You cannot ask a question of a minister who is not here.

Mr. Grande: As the minister is not here, may I ask the question of the Premier?

This question has to do with the comments that were made a little while back on a community channel by Miss Irene Atkinson, the present chairman of the Toronto Board of Education. Since the Premier was the former Education minister in this Legislature, perhaps he would have an answer.

When the question was asked, “How do you raise the achievement levels of immigrant children and children of low socioeconomic backgrounds?” the chairman answered, “I am not so sure you can because I think genetics plays a very large part in determining the potential of students.” The Minister of Education of this province has not made a peep about this matter and silence is often interpreted as consent. Are we to understand that the Minister of Education is in agreement with the position expressed by the chairman of the Toronto Board of Education that workers and immigrants are mentally and/or intellectually deficient and that they pass on their deficiency to their children?

As the minister is here now, perhaps she can answer.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Seizing the opportunity to reply to that question and not having heard all of it except the honourable member’s concern about his intellectual deficiencies, I could answer and comment on that, but I would --

Mr. Martel: Why do you not reply to a sensible question in a sensible way? It is a pretty sensitive area.

Hon. Mr. Davis: No. I am just going to suggest that he repeat the whole question for the Minister of Education.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I heard it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The minister says she has heard it so she can answer it. I could not hear it because of all the noise of the member’s colleagues.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the remarks made by the chairman of the board of education of the city of Toronto occurred in conversation with an interviewer. I understand she suggested that when the schools had done everything they could and the child was still not making progress perhaps the genetic background of the child should be looked at.

It apparently has been interpreted as a racist remark and I am not aware of the context in which the remarks were made. It is not my understanding, as suggested by the honourable member, there was any suggestion the children of new Canadians or immigrant Canadians would be relegated to that specific group and all others would be in some other group. It was my understanding the chairman was talking about society as a whole.

3:10 p.m.

As a physician with some limited background in genetics and biomedical science, there is no doubt in my mind that genetics plays an important role in the development of us all in a number of our aspects, not just in our intellectual development, but also our physical development, our personality development, our emotional development -- in fact, the totality of a human being. To ignore genetics completely is to ignore a very significant component of humanity in a way we cannot afford.

I am sure the member would not wish, as some of his colleagues in that party have done, to impute motives to the new chairman of the Toronto Board of Education simply because she does not happen to be a member of their party.

Mr. Grande: I had understood that the Minister of Education had heard my question. However, obviously she did not. To quote from the interview, and I shall read it again, the question to the chairman was: “How do you raise the achievement levels of immigrant children and children from low socioeconomic backgrounds?” The answer: “Well, I am not so sure that you can because I think genetics plays a very important role.”

Would the minister, as the Minister of Education responsible for the education of children in this entire province, use her persuasive power to ask the present chairman of the Toronto Board of Education to withdraw that remark? I did not make any statement about its being racist or otherwise. I simply say she should withdraw that remark because it has connotations that are beyond the educational system.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I should be pleased to look at the entire transcript of whatever interview there was. I have not seen it. However, I would remind the member that the chairman of the Toronto Board of Education is a member of that board duly elected by the electorate of the city of Toronto, responsible and accountable to the city of Toronto and to the electors who elected her.

It is unfortunate if anyone makes a remark that can be taken out of context and used inappropriately. I shall be pleased to look at that and I am sure I shall be having conversations at some point with the new chairman. If there is some way in which we can solve this problem, I shall be pleased to attempt to do so. However, I really feel it would be inappropriate for an elected individual at one level to tell an elected individual at another level what to do.


Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Is the honourable minister aware of the fact that car buyers in Ontario, in purchasing extended warranties, in the event of a bankruptcy of a company, do not have a protection of the extended warranty? Is that a fact?

Hon. Mr. Drea: No, Mr. Speaker. This has been one of our difficulties with that type of protection. It is my understanding that in the event of an insolvency by the parent company, because they are sold at the dealerships, the ones we have registered or approved are backed by a performance bond that is more than capable of providing the moneys that would have to be spent if the warranty had to be used.

In the late 1960s or early 1970s, someone started one of these, the plan did become insolvent, and when many people were required to utilize their warranty, in other words when they had to get repairs, they found out there was no money. Since that time there has been an extremely limited application of that type of warranty. We have been accused of being too tough, but we do want a rather sizeable performance bond to protect against an insolvency.

Mr. Kerrio: I am talking about something very recent. Is the minister aware of a bankruptcy in Niagara Falls where the Ford Motor Company extended warranty plan was a plan of that company itself and the car buyer does not have the protection of the extended warranty? I wonder if he would look into that and see if that extended warranty does have backing so the people will have coverage?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry I misunderstood the honourable member. I thought he was talking about some companies that offer them generally. Yes, if the member will provide me with the name of the Ford dealership I will look into it. I would be very surprised if any extended warranty granted by a car dealer at point of sale would not be covered by some of our protective legislation.


Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Revenue. Will the honourable minister confirm that in order to speed up payments of senior citizens’ tax grants, the ministry has suspended the computer check on applications that was designed to prevent payments to deceased persons, to ineligible people and to possibly fraudulent applicants, and that no one is auditing the applications now before payments are made? If so, has the minister checked with the provincial auditor regarding this procedure?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, I have not checked with the provincial auditor. I am not aware of the point the honourable member is making. I did not catch all of the question. I wonder if the member could repeat it.

Ms. Bryden: Will the minister confirm that in order to speed up payments of the senior citizens’ tax grants, the ministry has suspended the computer check on applications, a check which was designed to prevent payments to deceased persons, to ineligible people and to possibly fraudulent applicants, and no one appears to be auditing these applications?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I will check into that. I am not aware that is taking place.


Mr. Isaacs: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: My point of privilege is regarding some information provided by the Ministry of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) to this House on December 1.

On December 1, in response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith), the minister assured this House he would be introducing bills last week to amend the Environmental Protection Act and other statutes to impose minimum fines. That legislation was not tabled last week as the minister promised. I wonder whether he can offer an explanation.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, without checking Hansard, I think I said “in the next few days.” I will be introducing it on Thursday. I have the statement prepared, and the necessary material, and it will be here in the House on Thursday, the next sitting of this Legislature.

Mr. Ziemba: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Speaker: I am the Speaker.

Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you.

Mr. Ziemba: I have not seen you for a long time.

Mr. Speaker: The member should know that better than most.


Mr. Ziemba: My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is that I have a number of questions on the Order Paper, one dating back to May and several dated October 6. The standing orders call for these questions to be answered within 14 days or else the government ought to decline answering the questions if that is their intention. They have not done that. Can you take the necessary steps to see that my questions are answered?

Mr. Speaker: I am sure the government House leader has taken note of the member’s point of order and will investigate it.



Mr. T. P. Reid from the standing committee on public accounts presented the final report and moved its adoption.

Mr. Speaker: It is my understanding there is nothing to be read. Would the member like to move the adjournment of the debate?

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, if I may be allowed, I think this is the most comprehensive report of the public accounts committee in Ontario. It has a great deal of interest in it particularly, I am sure, as far as the government is concerned. The committee has worked long and hard on the report. The basis of the report really is to try to ensure some accountability and responsibility in the financial administration of the province.

3:20 p.m.

If I may, I would like to commend the members of the committee for the hard work they put in and, particularly, our research assistant from the Legislative Library, Mrs. M. Fletcher, who has done an excellent job in assisting the committee.

On motion by Mr. T. P. Reid, the debate was adjourned.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, notwithstanding the previous order, the House will meet tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2 p.m.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources be referred to the standing committee on resources development.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the supplementary estimates of the Office of the Assembly, Office of the Provincial Auditor and the Office of the Ombudsman be referred, in accordance with standing order 46(a), to the standing committee on general government.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on constitutional reform be authorized to sit the afternoon of Wednesday, December 10, 1980.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to sit the afternoon of Wednesday, December 10, 1980, to consider Bill 140, An Act to amend the Children’s Law Reform Act, 1977.

Motion agreed to.



Hon. Mr. Auld moved first reading of Bill 221, An Act to amend the Mining Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, under the current Mining Act, peat is considered to be a mineral which may be acquired by claim-staking. The mining of peat as an energy source to be commercially viable will require vast areas of land. If this land is acquired by claim-staking, the claim holder obtains the right to acquire the minerals, including peat, and the peat might never again be available for large-scale exploration or development.

This bill amends the Mining Act by reserving peat to the crown from the staking of mining claims. This is now done with sand, gravel and other surface-oriented natural resources, and peat will then be in the same category as them.


Mr. Cunningham moved first reading of Bill 222, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to allow standing on school buses.


Mr. Isaacs moved first reading of Bill 223, An Act to amend the Environmental Assessment Act, 1975.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to remove the authority of the minister and the Lieutenant Governor in Council to exempt persons in undertakings from the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act, 1975.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 296, 368, 369, 411, 412, 413, 415, 416 and 417 standing on the Notice Paper.

Mr. Speaker: Do you have a point of order?

Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, it was just answered.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order: On October 14, 25 questions were tabled on the Notice Paper with respect to the government’s advertising budget. We were informed on October 20 that more time was required for this but that the answer would be forthcoming by November 30. We have not heard anything except that the advertising budget for the senior citizens’ tax grant program, which was described as not exceeding $650,000, has reached almost $1 million. But we have not received any other information.

Why have we not got an answer to that under the rules?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I will be pleased to look into it, Mr. Speaker, and find out.

Mr. Speaker: That is two little chores you have now.



Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 187, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, this bill contains amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act to implement the proposals in the economic statement of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) on November 13, 1980. They are aimed at increasing demand and providing support to those important sectors of our economy which are underperforming at present.

First, to stimulate the residential construction, appliance and furnishing industries, which are adversely affected by a depressed economy, a temporary exemption from retail sales tax will be provided for certain building materials, major household appliances and residential furniture. This applies to materials, appliances and furnishings delivered in the period November 14, 1980, to June 30, 1981.

Since the policy was first announced, certain changes in the scope of the exemptions have been effected. For instance, the exemption of bricks, originally limited to clay bricks, has been expanded to include other types of brick to provide increased stimulus to the Ontario segment of this industry.

Similarly, for purposes of the retail sales tax and where the charges are $250 or more, upholstering has been traditionally considered essentially the creation of a new item. For this reason, reupholstery jobs costing $250 or more have been included in the exemption for new household furniture.

At the same time, to increase the effectiveness of the building materials exemption and to simplify its administration, both for dealers and the public, end use has been removed as a criterion for establishing eligibility.

Second, to ensure the continued growth of the tourism industry in Ontario and to provide assistance for the development and improvement of tourism facilities, the temporary exemptions for transient accommodation, restaurant kitchen equipment and furnishings for hotels and restaurants will be extended an additional nine months, to December 31, 1981.

The temporary sales tax rebate program for light vans and trucks, also announced by the Treasurer, does not form part of this particular bill. Like earlier rebate programs of this nature, this will be covered by way of remission through an order in council. The order will rebate to purchasers the retail sales tax paid on eligible vehicles delivered to them between November 14, 1980, and July 4, 1981, provided a written contract of purchase was entered into on or before June 30, 1981.

Finally, I have taken this opportunity to improve further the administration of the Retail Sales Tax Act by extending the time for filing a notice of objection to make it consistent with our other taxing statutes; at the same time, provision is being made to extend the time within which a notice of objection or notice of appeal may be filed in special circumstances.

In addition to the statement, I wish to advise the members of the House that I will be moving an amendment in committee which will permit the minister to extend the time of delivery on certain articles that are contained in the bill but not in excess of 90 days. That amendment will be forthcoming when we get into the clause-to-clause debate.

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to address my remarks to the amendment to the Retail Sales Tax Act and to inform the minister we will be supporting Bill 187, which is before us this afternoon.

A week ago both opposition parties in the discussion on the minister’s estimates expressed their views in detail on retail sales tax. At that time, I suggested to the minister that, although we welcomed the goal the government is trying to attain in a depressed economy, perhaps it was a case of too little too late. Our critic suggested the government should have been moving in this direction in the budget introduced in the House last spring.

I suppose the end result of the tax rebate on building materials for homes and apartments, the temporary tax rebate program for light trucks and vans and the temporary exemptions for major household appliances and new household furniture will be that by the time industry gets involved in new sales, hopefully created by consumers, we will not see the benefit of the tax cut until next September or perhaps even a year from now. As we are facing the cold winter months in Ontario, it is perhaps a little late to be moving in that direction. The government should have been moving in this direction some nine months ago to reduce the sales tax on certain items. Maybe it should have reduced the tax across the board as it did in 1975.

During consideration of his estimates I mentioned to the minister that the retail sales tax cut in 1975 from seven per cent to four per cent generated sufficient revenue in corporation tax and personal income tax. There is a benefit for the government by moving in this area sooner. There is not that much of a loss to the Treasurer in revenues generated. If we go back and look at the budgetary revenue from the retail sales tax in the past five years, we can see it has almost doubled, based on the estimated figure for 1980-81 of $2.67 billion. That is an increase of about 20 per cent per year in a five-year period.

If we look at the $260 million the government says it is going to lose by removing the sales tax on specific manufactured items, it amounts to about 10 per cent of what the normal increase would be in every year on the basis of a 20 per cent increase. Actually, the government is not losing that much. I suppose there could be a gain in corporation tax and in personal income tax. The Liberal Party has suggested that, to generate the economy and to get the confidence of the consumer, the government should perhaps look at income tax cuts across the board. In the long run, that will put more money into the economy to keep it going.

In the United States the President-elect was elected because he said: “Look what I did in the state of California. I removed a deficit there of $160 million in one year.” People thought that was great and that he would perhaps get the economy rolling in the United States. If we look at the government’s track record here in Ontario in respect of revenue generated through sales tax and income tax, it is not that good. Year by year it has had deficit spending. I think 1970 was the last year there was a surplus. That was rather a good year for the province. I think there was a surplus of about $150 million.

If the minister will look at the record, at the budgetary transaction of revenue alone -- this is taken from the Ontario budget -- in 1969-70 there was a surplus of $150 million. The minister has had a deficit as high as $1.48 billion, and it has continued over the years. Yet the revenues have increased almost 300 per cent.

I suggest to the minister there is sufficient revenue that can be generated in other areas, not by temporary measures but by bringing in an employment strategy that would continue with employment on the upswing in Ontario. I question whether this is going to create any new jobs.

The Treasurer suggested there is another $750 million in his mini-budget that is going to create a number of job opportunities in Ontario through an employment development period. If one looks at that over a period of five years, the minister is actually not giving the economy the lift that is required. I suppose the minister is looking at about $100 million in the long run.

I want to bring to the attention of the minister that, in 1978, a study by the Federal Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce found that the sales tax cut on footwear, furniture and textiles in Quebec had a similar effect. All it did was change the timing. That is all the minister is doing now. He is really not adding new life to stimulate the economy in Ontario, to create the jobs we are looking for.

All he is doing is changing the timing. Perhaps the timing will be that we will get the impact of this some time next summer, in June or July, or maybe just in time for the spring election.

We saw one of the largest deficits ever in the history of the province in 1975. It was a pre-election giveaway.

The first-time home buyers’ grant was a good program when it was implemented, I suppose, but it encouraged many persons to buy property they could not well afford. The question is, was any monitoring done of the pass-through?

When the $1,500 was given, the price of real estate went up. Actually, the pass-through did not go to the person who bought the property. The same thing applies now. What monitoring is going to be done to see that the sales tax rebate is passed on to the consumer?

This is one of the things I fail to grasp. When a sales tax rebate is given by this government in certain years, one cannot see the pass-through being given to the consumer without proper monitoring being done.

I can listen to commercials on local radio stations where the furniture industry advertises that, whatever one purchases, it will write off the sales tax. I understand some furniture stores have already gone through that and now they have had to give almost 14 per cent. Is it fair to say even to the industry that it might have to absorb some of the additional cost of this?

The minister shakes his head and says no. All I am suggesting to the minister is that, when he has these temporary sales tax cuts, there should be some monitoring done by the government or his ministry to make sure the pass-through goes through.

3:40 p.m.

The theme of the mini-budget -- and it was stressed -- is that people should buy Canadian. I have mentioned to the minister before in his estimates that, if one wants to buy some light trucks, all the components are not made here in Canada. Some are even made in Mexico, depending on what people want. How is the Treasurer going to get the public in Ontario to buy Canadian if, as I understand it, about 60 per cent of the goods, even the furniture purchased in Ontario, are not made in Ontario? Some of it is not even made in Canada. The same thing applies to automobiles. I suggest the minister may run into difficulties there.

I have spoken before on this topic, but I think the whole problem is not in sales tax cuts but in the high interest rates in the province and throughout Canada and the United States. I was looking at the automobile industry in the United States. The chairman of the Chrysler Corporation says the interest rates put Chrysler in reverse. If some help is not given to them in controlling the interest rates in the United States, we are going to have some of the pass-through here. The Chrysler Corporation is going down, and perhaps even Ford will go down. There is that whole problem in the United States. We seem to look to the United States and think that, hopefully, their economy is going to be on the upswing and we are going to get some of the benefits in Ontario.

If the interest rates continue to be as high as they are, and they seem to be going higher, I just do not think the minister is going to have the confidence of the consumers to go out and buy goods today. Because of this amendment to the retail sales tax in the mini-budget, I do not think we are going to see the economy going up in Ontario as it should. The simple reason is people just cannot afford the high interest rates. Until this government and the federal government sit down at the bargaining table and come to their senses to control those interest rates in some manner, we are not going to be moving ahead in Ontario. I suggest that high interest rates are the cause of our problem today.

Until the minister can gain the confidence of the consumers, they are not going to be buying things because they have been given the sales tax cutback here and in some other areas. This is the whole problem. A young married couple going to buy furniture will not be paying cash for it. They have to go out and borrow, and they are looking at 15, 16 to 24 per cent interest on borrowed money to purchase those goods.

I suggest both the federal and provincial governments should be moving in this area to control the interest rates and bring them down to a level where everybody is going to be treated alike. I am sure we would see the economy moving forward then. Until some action is taken by this government jointly with the federal government and perhaps all nine provinces, I think we are going to see the economy at almost a stalemate. We are not going to see the job creation that it was hoped this mini-budget and the retail sales tax rebate would bring about, nor will we maintain the present employment in Ontario.

The minister has made substantial gains over the years in sales tax. It has been increased considerably through people buying, through the consumers having confidence in purchasing and in the economy of Ontario. As I said before, the consumers are the heroes if the minister wants an upswing in the economy that is going to create employment, provided he is not hamstrung by having high interest rates; unless he gains their confidence, I do not think this budget or this sales tax cut is going to have the impact it is supposed to have.

We will support it, and I understand the minister will be moving an amendment related to the exemption on furniture sales.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Delivery date.

Mr. Haggerty: Delivery date; that is right. I look forward to hearing that amendment, and I am sure we will be supporting it from this side.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, this bill is an implementation of the sales tax cuts in the mini-budget. It is part of the Treasurer’s so-called package to stimulate the Ontario economy which he brought in this fall. Certainly he pinpointed the need for stimulation in that mini-budget. I would just like to quote one paragraph in his budget statement:

“The bottom line is that labour force growth has outstripped job creation. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has increased from 6.2 per cent in September 1979 to 6.7 per cent in September this year. In fact, over the first nine months of 1980 the unemployment rate has averaged seven per cent. This is an unacceptably high level of economic hardship and lost potential.”

The Treasurer recognized that we needed stimulation. In his total stimulative package there is claimed to be $1 billion. It sounds big. But only $360 million, a little more than a third, is to be provided in the next 16½ months. The rest is a collection of vague five-year plans with no timetable. Of that $360 million, $260 million is in the form of retail sales tax cuts and rebates. The balance is made up of $75 million for “new structural initiatives” -- which I call typical Treasurer’s gobbledegook; it does not tell us anything -- $20 million for cutting rural Hydro rates, because Hydro refused to do so, and a puny $5 million to increase the production of wood fibre in central Ontario.

In this bill, we are looking at the bulk of the minister’s stimulative package. I say it is a pretty poor effort. It is a popgun attack on the problem of what he calls, and I agree, an unacceptable level of unemployment. We know the reason why there is so little in his package. It is his reluctance to add to expenditures or cut revenues because of the overblown deficit this government has built up. The deficit is a result of its huge handouts to the pulp and paper industry and other industries; its waste, like the Minaki Lodge sinkhole, which it keeps ploughing money into; high unemployment costs; and rising social and health costs. Many of these latter are due to lack of preventive programs which could be financed if they did not have this overblown deficit and handouts to industries and other expenditures.

What is more, like most stimulative policies of the Tories it is a stab in the dark. I understand the Treasurer did not ask the Minister of Revenue for any real analysis of the impact of these exemptions and rebates on the economy. There was no estimate made by either ministry of the number of jobs that would be created by these measures. There was no monitoring of past sales tax cuts, although we have not had one exactly in this form. This is a stimulative package with no estimate of its impact except possibly an estimate of its impact on the voters in Carleton riding in Ottawa. That seems to have been the main reason why the mini-budget was thrown together rather hastily without this kind of study and brought down in November.

Briefly, this bill, as the minister has explained, provides for a rebate of seven per cent sales tax on vans and light trucks with a limit of $700. It also provides for the removal of sales tax from new residential furniture but with specific exclusions prescribed by the minister. It provides for the removal of the seven per cent sales tax from new major home appliances, again with the minister being given the power to prescribe specific exclusions from the list of appliances. Finally, it provides for removal of the seven per cent sales tax from building materials for homes and apartments, but with the minister being given the power to define what building materials are eligible.

3:50 p.m.

The bill also includes the extension of the temporary sales tax exemption to the hospitality industry from March 31, 1981, to December 31, 1981. I question whether this particular exemption was ever passed on to the customers in hotels and restaurants or whether a great deal of it was not just financing the overbuilding of hotels, particularly in the large urban centres. I can see some justification for helping that part of the hospitality industry that is seasonal, that caters to the tourist industry and operates on a fairly short year, but I question why large hotels, which seem to be continually raising their room rates, should get a tax reduction and the customer get no benefit from it.

We in this party have decided to support this bill because we do favour any reduction in what is basically a regressive tax and we do admit we need stimulation at this time. We would have liked to see a good deal more stimulation in the mini-budget and a greater attempt to place less emphasis on commodity taxes in our tax structure and more on progressive taxes like corporations and income taxes. We would have liked to see more stimulation generally of other kinds in the mini-budget as well.

We have some reservations about the form in which these tax cuts are being provided. We are concerned they will benefit the rich mainly, since they have the purchasing power. There is no ceiling on the size of the purchase except on vans and trucks, and the ceiling there is $10,000. There is very little in this bill for those with low purchasing power and very little to make the sales tax less regressive. It might have been more palatable if it had included some provisions that might have benefited a larger segment of the people of Ontario and if it had included some cuts that would specifically benefit those on low incomes.

For example, the temporary exemptions could have been extended to footwear costing more than $30. Shoes costing $30 or less now are exempt. This price ceiling came into effect in 1974, and since then inflation has rendered it less effective as a measure to reduce regressivity. I might point out that the Maritime provinces exempt all footwear and Quebec exempts shoes costing up to $100.

The Deputy Speaker: Perhaps the honourable member would revert to what is in the bill.

Ms. Bryden: Yes, Mr. Speaker, but things like that could have been in this bill to make it more acceptable. I might point out that the minister does have power, under the regulations, to change the ceiling on shoes any time he likes. We have urged him to use this power on many occasions, but he and the Treasurer prefer to squeeze money from hard-pressed parents and all low-income earners who cannot do without shoes.

Another small concession that could have been made in the exemptions provided, and would have helped those with low purchasing power, would have been to include used furniture in the exemption given to residential furniture. In effect, this bill discriminates against people who cannot afford new furniture and have to settle for secondhand. They get no tax saving. They get no benefit from the Treasurer’s generosity, his Santa Claus bill. He missed their chimneys. If the bill had given them an exemption, I am sure they would have spent the saving on other purchases in Ontario, thus stimulating the economy.

I might also point out that the failure to include used furniture means the bill also discriminates against used furniture dealers. They will have to sell furniture with full tax and will be competing with the big department stores selling tax-free goods. I thought this government supported small businesses, but it is making it more difficult for them to survive by this legislation. There are other omissions which we would have liked to have seen in there.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The honourable member is certainly straying from what is in the bill. I wonder if she could contain her remarks to that.

Ms. Bryden: I am coming to the actual exemptions very shortly. There is one discrimination on which I think all members of the Legislature received a letter. Building materials are defined to cover clay bricks. The definition does not include concrete blocks and bricks. It seems to me the minister has power under this bill to define building materials. I urge him to use that power under this bill to include the concrete block industry. This block is used in many residences and is being accepted more widely. He is discriminating against that particular industry which, I understand, employs about 1,500 people.

I may say I am rather disturbed by the sweeping powers this bill gives to the minister to define what is eligible for the tax exemption. In the case of building materials, he can say what is in it. In the case of other furniture and appliances, he can say what is not covered. That certainly enables him to pretty well write the tax bill as he wishes. I would think this Legislature should have more say in what exactly we are exempting. We know the old phrase, “no taxation without representation.” Actually, this bill gives the minister the power to impose whatever model of taxation he likes in those three fields by the very extensive powers given to him.

I might also point out there is still time for the minister to bring in amendments to adopt some of the suggestions I have made regarding items that have been omitted. I am hoping the minister will do so.

Another point that worries us considerably on this side is whether retailers will not just raise prices by seven per cent in the next few months and, in effect, pocket the tax saving.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: What does the member suggest I do about that?

Ms. Bryden: The bill may simply be a welfare grant to the big department stores. Of course, if we had a prices review board, as this party has been urging for many years, this kind of blatant profiteering would be exposed and stopped. Under this bill there is no machinery to stop it. The consumer has no protection against price rises which may or may not be justified.

I would also like to have seen in the bill a clause making it mandatory for the ministry to undertake a monitoring and study program during and after the period of the exemptions and rebates. We would then be able to assess the impact of this kind of measure on the economy. We would also find out what kind of purchases were stimulated by it. We would find out what was the median tax saving for different classes of goods. This would tell us whether it was the very high-priced purchases that were benefiting most from the application of this bill. We would also know for future reference what kind of temporary or permanent reductions in tax were useful and which ones were counterproductive or discriminatory.

I note the minister is bringing in an amendment to give him the power to extend the delivery date on furniture, building materials and appliances purchased up to June 30, 1981, because of possible difficulties in the store of actually achieving delivery by that date, even though the purchase may have been made a considerable time before that date.

4 p.m.

I can recognize there are problems there. The problems vary greatly between the different items that will be exempt from tax. It does create a considerable problem. I am prepared to accept the minister’s proposal that he be given 90 days as a period he may allow for delivery. However, I hope he will keep the period as short as possible so we do not allow people to buy on June 30 with the expectation they will get the sales tax rebate sometime on merchandise they may not have to pay for until way on in the future.

That would defeat the purpose of the bill, although it is quite possible we will need stimulation for a good period beyond June 30, I think that date was selected for election purposes. I am not too enthusiastic about the minister having the power to choose all the periods of exemption he will allow for the different items. I am sure he will be under a great pressure from most manufacturers and retailers.

Mr. Makarchuk: It was just in case they had to hold the election in the fall.

Ms. Bryden: That may be the reason. It certainly is giving the minister considerable power. But I would not like customers to be done out of the sales tax rebates because the store could not deliver a different colour or a slightly different model that was not on the floor at the time the customer made the purchase. It would not really have been the customer’s fault that he could not get delivery immediately.

The minister proposes in his amendment that this power will be applied to all three categories of goods which are eligible for the exemption. I do have serious reservations about extending it to the building materials category. The building materials will be largely bought, I would think, by developers who may be using this saving to build some much-needed housing. But I am just a little afraid they may place huge orders on June 30 for a year’s supply of building materials and they will be given the maximum 90 days to take delivery on those. We may have a real excess use of the exemption by developers. I think this exemption was intended mainly for home renovators and people building individual homes. I do not know that it should be considered a bonanza for developers.

I am proposing the amendment be changed to delete the building materials from the power to change the delivery date and that the minister’s power be confined to appliances and residential furniture.

I feel this bill is not sufficient as a stimulative measure. We would like to have seen other kinds of stimulative measures besides tax cuts in the retail field in the mini-budget. I feel it does very little to make this a less regressive tax. It is mainly tinkering and not a real restructuring of our tax system. That is really what is needed and that is what we in this party would be advocating.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, there is only one point I wish to raise with respect to this bill. I did not hear the initial remarks of the Minister of Revenue as he brought the bill before us, but from the comments that were made I presume he is still giving some consideration to the concrete block problem that a number of members had brought to his attention.

I recall the information we all received and the points that were raised in so far as the Treasurer was concerned with respect to the stimulation, to some extent, of the use of the products made by the various members of the Ontario Concrete Block Association. Can the minister, in his response, advise us whether he has been able to sort out those particular concerns so that a more precise definition of the building materials opportunity will or will not be able to be accommodated? I think it would be worthwhile for us to know just what may be able to be done, recognizing, of course, that the various costs of these component parts all have to be considered within the total moneys available that the Treasurer has been prepared to forgo with respect to tax.

There are other items, some of which have been mentioned this afternoon, which might or might not have been included. I recognize that the impact on the economy has to be weighed one way or the other to attempt to accommodate the purposes the Treasurer has been prepared to except as he raises a lesser amount of sales tax for the variety of reasons set out in the additional budgetary message, which I recall was on November 13. If the minister can respond as to whether this is able to be dealt with or what his expectations may be, I think it would be helpful for us as we reply to the letters we have received.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of points to raise. One concern is that people have entered into contracts for refurbishing of homes, buildings, et cetera. When the final price on the contract was decided, the sales tax was in place. Now they are concerned about the fact that when the builder or contractor goes ahead, he certainly will not pass on the seven per cent reduction for which the customer was charged before. There does not appear to be anything within the legislation to ensure that this money is passed on to the consumer through the builder or contractor to ensure that the people benefit from the tax measure.

The other matter that was brought to my attention is the matter of the vans that could be sold. As I understand it, if one buys a pickup truck or a van it is exempt from the tax measure. But some manufacturers of these camper vans are a little apprehensive about the fact that if a person buys a truck and then wishes to buy the camper top separately by himself, he does not get the benefit of the seven per cent tax exemption. I am not sure if that is the case but, if not, I think, in all fairness, if that camper top was on the truck when it was originally sold then the seven per cent benefit would accrue to the buyer. However, if the person wishes to buy it separately, or in some cases have it mounted by himself, he is not entitled to the seven per cent.

It seems to me this should be considered because it still answers to the intent of the bill to stimulate some employment and manufacturing activity. This is exactly what it would do, except that the consumer would probably find it cheaper to put on his own van or modify it to some extent. I think he should be allowed the privilege of buying it, the same as the dealer or the original manufacturer does when he puts it on and sells it. He gets the advantage, whereas the person who buys it separately does not get the seven per cent advantage. I hope the minister will address himself to that problem. I will be awaiting his reply on those two questions.

4:10 p.m.

Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, it is important when any act comes into place that it is as fair as possible to as many as possible. I was pleased to see building materials included as exemptions from the seven per cent tax, but I was concerned about the way we were notified as to what was eligible and what was not. It was vague as to what was eligible. We finally received word that materials for farm construction were eligible.

I am also concerned about concrete blocks and cement. Surely somebody within the ministry is aware all buildings start with a concrete foundation or concrete block wall.

I am not sure whether that is included, but I would like the minister to advise me and, if it is not, I would like to know why not.

The pamphlet giving information on what is eligible for rebate talks about siding but does not say steel siding or steel roofing is included. Steel is a necessary part of building materials. Steel should be included as well as concrete blocks. It seems to discriminate against some manufacturers while favouring others. The concrete block industry is quite concerned that other blocks, clay bricks, I believe, have been given it. I will await the minister’s response and, if these materials are not now covered, hopefully he will see fit to include them with the other items listed for the seven per cent exemption.

I do not share the concern of the former speaker from the New Democratic Party pertaining to the fact that builders may store up a year’s supply at the end of June. I am sure they are not going to bring in a year’s supply of material for a seven per cent saving and turn around and pay 17 or 18 per cent interest on it.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in qualified support of the bill. Like my other colleagues, I have some reservations about the whole concept and principle of the sales tax. It strikes me it would be far more equitable to place a greater reliance on the income tax than the sales tax. If you look at history, every time a sales tax cut is introduced it is always increased in the succeeding 10 years. In this case it is used as a political football as well.

Mr. Speaker, with your keen historical perspective, I know you will afford me a brief opportunity to look at the recent history of sales taxes in this province. We can start in 1975 with the famous home buyers’ grant, the famous $1,500 bribe to the people of Ontario to buy a house. At the same time there was the rebate on new cars under Lord Darcy McKeough. Most people realize that combination of programs was geared purely to the 1975 fall election. It was used as an outright election bribe to try to get people to vote Tory. Fortunately, it did not work. We had a minority government.

In the case of the home buyers’ grant, if I am not mistaken, the standing committee on public accounts came to the conclusion that somewhere between $11 million and $14 million was given to people who were not eligible or deserving of the grant in the first place. Obviously it served the government’s purpose, because it was all done during the election and it hoped to recoup all the benefits from it.

In 1978, we had a joint program between the feds and the province to reduce the sales tax from seven per cent to three per cent for six months. Obviously that had some mixed results. There was a short-term stimulus, but I think it is fair to say that with every one of these programs there is no real proof over the space of one year that there was any substantial increase in production or sales of any good or product. I suspect the government has studies that indicate such. All it means is people will buy things in the fall as opposed to the spring, but the overall production and sale of any particular item is not substantially affected at all by these types of programs. I would challenge the minister, if he has any study that proves the contrary in the last five years in this province or any other jurisdiction in Canada to bring it forward.

Earlier this year they came out with another sales tax rebate on cars. This one was to help the car dealers to get rid of 1979 models which were still on the lot. That scheme was an incredible program and was restricted to 30 days. There was not even a specification as to its being restricted to cars built in North America. People could go to a car dealer in Toronto and buy a Lada made in the Soviet Union and get the sales tax rebate. They could buy a Toyota, Honda, Datsun, Volkswagen, Renault, Subaru, Mazda or Fiat -- you name it -- and they got the same rebate as somebody buying a car made in Oakville or in Oshawa.

Surely the purpose of the program, first of all, was to stimulate jobs and production here in Canada and, secondly, for the North American auto industry, but the boys over in Russia benefited from it, and people in Europe and Japan benefited from it. The people of Ontario were the ones who were subsidizing them, which was an absolutely incredible situation.

Now we have the latest instalment in this long record of gimmickry. We saw an election looming this fall at one stage, which was then cancelled. Realizing the election would have to be postponed until the spring because the polls were not sufficiently favourable, once again the government came through with a watered-clown version of the old Darcy McKeough approach.

I have to tell the minister that in my particular riding it was greeted with a fair amount of scepticism. When people saw the expiry date was June, they immediately said: “Aha, right after the election the program disappears. Here they go again, trying to pull the wool over our eyes.” More significant than that scepticism was a keen sense of disappointment. In my riding we have a carpet plant, which is now closed and which had announced it was closing just prior to the announcement of the introduction of this particular program.

When the 200 employees looked at the list of all the items that are eligible for the sales tax exemption, they said: “Why in terms of that particular category don’t carpets rate? Here is a plant in our own community closing down. We have a plant in Lindsay closing down with 500 people thrown out of work. We have somewhere around 20 manufacturers of carpets in the whole province and this industry doesn’t rate a sales tax exemption.”

I brought the question up with the minister. I respect the fact that he was not part of the policy-making process; it was done via the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and the Premier (Mr. Davis). What was the Premier’s answer? He said, “We haven’t got enough money. We had to draw the line somewhere. We couldn’t afford it.” I would really like to ask how much it would have cost to include carpets under the sales tax exemption. They tell us there is no money available.

How much have they spent this year on Minaki Lodge? How much have they allotted for building that monstrosity up in the north? How much money have they spent on advertising this fall to soften people up for the election? By my rough calculations, somewhere between $20 million and $25 million has been spent on advertising and on Minaki Lodge in this year alone. I think the minister’s own ministry spent upwards of $1 million on the pensioner tax credit, if I am not mistaken. That may be considered legitimate. Some of those energy ads and some of those environment ads which have been roundly condemned by almost every segment of society were not legitimate. Yet they have the gall to tell the people of Cornwall and of Lindsay: “We can’t afford it. We haven’t got the money.” It is just incredible.

I would like to see the government reverse its policy on this. We recognize there is a certain amount of electioneering inherent in this, but if one of the justifications for the program in the first place was to stimulate production and create jobs, I would really ask the minister to look at the economic status of the carpet industry. It is in bad shape as a result of the recession. It is an industry that deserves short-term assistance, if we are going to have these programs. I would like to ask the minister if he could reconsider his decision and his policy not to include the carpet industry.

Mr. Nixon: Briefly, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister that while I do not believe the bill is as stimulative to the economy as he and the Treasurer would like it to be, naturally we in the opposition are not going to stand in the way of the reduction of a regressive tax, such as the sales tax, even if it is temporary and only related to certain products.

The only specific complaint I have received from my constituents has been about the cutoff level pertaining to smaller trucks. It has been brought to my attention by one very competent farmer, who was going out to buy a pickup truck to use in his corn and cash crop operation, that the obvious truck he required was a very small weight measure above the upper limit the minister or his advisers in the Treasury have established.

4:20 p.m.

I understand the argument, of course, that there has to be a limit in time, amount and probably size. In consulting with the minister’s officials or his advisers in Treasury, I understand the indication was the weight limits in the bill were more or less a classification clearly understood in the truck manufacture industry. I am told that is a very subjective perception. The cutoff there, in my view and in the view of my constituent, is needlessly arbitrary and means that if he opts for a truck on which the tax is remitted, he is buying something that does not fit in with his operation when just a small variation, which would be an optimum size for him, would be fully taxed.

I just hope the minister will give some consideration to some flexibility in that regard. I have raised it with his officials, who have contacted my constituent, but so far -- I would not use the word “stonewalled” -- they have indicated they are not prepared to consider any flexibility in that connection. I want to bring it to the minister’s attention publicly so that some further consideration at this level might be undertaken.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I will try to deal with the questions that were raised. We have had considerable debate on this bill in the budget and in other places.

The member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) was talking again about Canadian content of the items that have been granted exemption. I have to say to the member it is very difficult when bringing in a program such as this to combine articles manufactured wholly in Ontario with an area that needs stimulation. We did choose trucks and vans particularly because 60 per cent of them are manufactured in Ontario. That is probably a bigger percentage than in the case of any of the other vehicles that are manufactured. Besides that, of course, the fact is that area does need some stimulation and we had to move in that direction in some way. Hopefully, we chose the ones that have the greatest Canadian content in the manufacturer.

The member also talked about interest rates, which really have no bearing on this particular bill at all, although I note this is the second time he has drawn it to my attention. I do not disagree that it is a very important subject, but it does not really come within the confines of this bill.

The member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) talked about children’s shoes. This is a subject we have talked about many times, both with the member and her predecessor as critic. By the way, we did a study on that, although it is not contained in this bill. Our study indicated it really was not a high priority at the moment, that there were still many children’s shoes that could be purchased out there for under $30. That is the purpose of the bill.

Ms. Bryden: It is not just for children.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Of course, the whole program is for children’s shoes, not for adults to buy shoes. That is the purpose of the bill.

The member has talked about my sweeping powers in choosing what would be exempt and what would not be exempt. I must advise her that my sweeping powers do include consultation with the Treasurer and with my cabinet colleagues. It is not as if I can arbitrarily decide all of these things on my own. I do consult with people on this side of the House in those matters. Granted, there is no input, as there never is, in budgetary bills from the opposition, but that is the way the democratic system is set up not only in this province, but in all others.

The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) and others asked about concrete blocks. The member will be aware we have extended bricks to cover clay bricks and have included concrete bricks in that group. Our problem with concrete blocks is simply that we would then be moving into a completely new area. I do not think we could stop with concrete blocks. We would then have to go to the other concrete precast items that are manufactured, particularly in large buildings.

Mr. Breithaupt: Precast?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, precast. When we get into that situation, it then becomes a monetary thing. There is a limit to the money we have to spend. We felt it would be unfair to move into one area of the cement industry and not extend it to others. So we drew the line at the concrete blocks.

The member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) was concerned about the contractors who had signed contracts prior to the program coming into effect. There is certainly nothing in this bill that would cover that situation. I do not know of any way we can do it. It is a contract between two people who have signed the contract for so many dollars. I guess the only thing we can hope is that the contractors will reduce their contracts by the seven per cent that relates to sales tax. If they do not, I think that is an agreement between two people, and I do not see any way how we could possibly cover that in any legislation. I have some sympathy for those people because they should be credited with the seven per cent sales tax they had agreed to pay and the contractor now does not have to pay, but I do not think there is any way of administratively addressing that particular problem.

It is quite right that if they buy a camper for a truck, they must pay retail sales tax on it. I would think in most cases it would not have very much effect anyway because there is a $100 limitation on the sales tax. I would think in almost every case they will be taking full advantage of the $700. They would not be able to get more than that even if they included the price of the campers, though there may be the odd situation where there might be a problem. I think in most cases when they purchase the vehicle they would get the full $700 retail sales tax credit. If that is the case the other part of it would make no difference anyway.

Mr. Haggerty: Not necessarily. If they are trading in, they won’t get the $700.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: No. If it is a trade-in, of course, they will not. I am talking about purchasing a new vehicle.

Mr. Makarchuk: Suppose they got a truck and just wanted to buy a top?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member is extending it into a completely different area again, away from vehicles into campers. Our legislation covers vehicles and vans. The member would be extending it again beyond where we could possibly go at this time.

The member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) also mentioned concrete blocks, and I agree with him on the first item he brought up. The information bulletin was not clear as to building materials and how they applied to farms and farmers. I have arranged to have a new bulletin sent to cover that situation along with the other amendments we have made that I mentioned in my opening remarks. The bulletin originally covered in the margin -- to be exact -- homes and apartments; that is the way it was written. That was wrong. It was never intended to be for that purpose. The end result does not matter. We are not concerned with where the lumber or any material that is exempt goes or what it is used for. The end use is not part of the criteria at all. That was not made plain in the bulletin. We are going to correct that. I agree it was a mistake.

There was some confusion, particularly in the farming community, that they did not qualify for the exemptions for building materials. We are clarifying that and sending out a new bulletin to make sure that everyone is aware of it.

Mr. Breithaupt: We cannot have that.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, we cannot have that. It never was intended anyway. The end use was not taken into consideration. It was just the articles themselves.

4:30 p.m.

The member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) mentioned that we covered other vehicles besides North American-built cars. I would remind him that in 1975, when we brought out a similar program and exempted only North American cars, it was quickly pointed out to us that was against the constitution. We then had to change our program to include the foreign cars --

Mr. Samis: The Tories subsidize the Russians.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- in order to give the subsidy to the North American manufacturers. That is quite true. The same thing applies to half-ton vehicles. We cannot restrict them. The constitution dictates that, if we are going to have this sort of program, we cannot pick and choose. We have done what we could this time by choosing light trucks and vans, 60 per cent of which are North American-built.

Mr. Samis: How did Darcy McKeough do it in 1975?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: We had to change it. It did not go through. We had to amend it and go back and cover the ones that were sold. It was a real problem. Obviously we will not do that a second time.

Mr. Samis: You should change the constitution. Stop the filibuster in Ottawa.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member for Cornwall also talked about carpets, and I can sympathize with him. When one has a carpet factory in one’s riding which has to close because of economic conditions and because a program is not extended to that article, I can understand the member being rather upset about it. I can only say what I said in reply to the member when the question was raised in the House before. We did not exclude only carpets from this program but we excluded all floor coverings, which include carpeting, tile, hardwood and anything that is manufactured for floor covering.

Mr. Samis: The Premier said there was not enough money.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: There was a limit to the amount of dollars we had to expend.

Mr. Samis: The government spent $14 million on advertising though.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): Might I remind the House that second reading is not a time for exchange of questions. This is the principle of the bill. Would the minister direct his remarks to the chair.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I acknowledge the remarks made by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I will look into that situation.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 187, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.

On section 4:

Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Maeck moves that sections 4 and 5 of the bill be respectively renumbered as 5 and 6 and that the following section be added to the bill:

“4. Subsection 3 of section 42 of the said act, as enacted by Statutes of Ontario, 1975, chapter 9, section 11, and amended by 1976, chapter 23, section 12; 1976, chapter 82, section 4; 1979, chapter 2.7, section 8; and 1980, chapter 22, section 3, is further amended by adding thereto the following clause:

“(j) extending to a date not later than September 30, 1981, the period within which delivery is required to be made for the purpose of any exemption conferred by paragraphs 71, 72 or 73 of subsection 1 of section 5.”

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Chairman, this gets rid of all of the extra numbers, whereases, chapters, sections and that sort of thing. Basically, I am asking the Legislature to give the Minister of Revenue permission to pass regulations affecting the delivery date of furniture, white goods and building materials. This extension of the delivery date is not to exceed approximately 90 days. Actually, I think it would be 91 or 92 days because we have dated it September 30. The original bill calls for a delivery date not later than June 30. This bill will permit me, if necessary, to extend that date by regulation to not later than September 30.

I am requesting this because I have had submissions from retailers who think we may have a problem, particularly with regard to the delivery of furniture. In some cases, it takes two or three months for furniture to be delivered. They feel that in a program of this type many people come in at the last moment to purchase something and they have to order it. If the delivery date is beyond June 30, they would not be able to take advantage of the exemption.

I am not at this time making a commitment that I will extend any delivery dates. I want time to look at the whole situation and make a decision as to whether or not it would be advisable to extend the delivery date beyond June 30. I am not making any commitments whatsoever. If we find the program will proceed well without the extension of the delivery date, that is fine. If, after investigation, we find it would be wise to extend it, then we will consider that. It would not be necessarily for 90 days but for the amount of time the ministry feels would be necessary to ensure delivery of articles that had been ordered and purchased prior to June 30.

One of the other reasons I ask for this is from time to time we do have strikes and other interruptions in the manufacturing sector which can delay the delivery of goods. If something like that happens, it gives me a little leeway as to delivery to compensate for something unforeseen happening. That is basically why the amendment is requested.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I was trying to get my thoughts together on this amendment. If I am correct, the minister is saying this will provide him with the leverage to bring in regulations which will apply to this sector. The amendment says, “extending to a date not later than September 30, 1981, the period within which delivery is required to be made for the purpose of any exemption conferred by paragraphs 71, 72 and 73 of subsection 1 of section 5.” We agree with that in principle, but I want to ask the minister if we shouldn’t add something such as, “the offer to purchase goods must be made before June 30.” We could extend the time then to include the delivery date. As it stands, this could be interpreted to mean the minister is extending the purchase date from June 30 to September 30. I do not know how you are going to work this so the regulations come forward to this particular section.

4:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: The original bill already says the purchase must be made before June 30. This does not change that. But that bill also says delivery must be made before June 30, while this amendment permits me, if necessary, to make regulations that would allow the delivery date to extend beyond June 30. It would not give me power to make regulations to extend the exemptions beyond June 30, only the delivery date.

Mr. Haggerty: I am a little lost on this thing. If I understand this, it gives you the authority under legislation to extend it to September 30. You do not have to bring in regulations then, do you?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I would still have to bring in a regulation. This restricts me in that if I bring in a regulation I cannot go beyond September 30 in extending the time. But I still must bring in a regulation dealing with any exemption that might come in. I cannot arbitrarily extend the delivery date. I cannot extend that without passing a regulation, even when this is passed. It just gives me the authority to pass a regulation.

Mr. Breithaupt: There is an interesting point on this, if I may follow through on this theme. Can the minister explain to us what sort of expectations he has for sorting out these various problems? Would he, for example, expect to hear from various retail or manufacturing groups that problems were going to arise and a certain volume of goods were going to be caught unless he made an exemption? Is that when he would then propose it? I am wondering what is going to trigger extension for delivery if it is going to prove to be necessary.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I guess what I am saying is I would have my staff check with the retailers’ association and others to find out if they do need that extended time for delivery. The submissions I have received up to date indicate they do, but I would like that verified. We are talking about furniture here. But it may be in white goods, refrigerators and freezers that time will not be necessary at all. It may be the consumer does have a choice in those situations. They do not make special refrigerators as they make special furniture. It is possible I might go into one store for a 15 cubic-foot refrigerator and could not get it, but I could probably go down the street and buy one.

If it is there on the market and the consumer can buy it before June 30 and have it delivered, then I see no need for extending that delivery date, other than maybe for two or three days or something, so that if they have a rush they can deliver after the purchase has been made, or for some minor thing like that.

In a matter like furniture, which is perhaps, at the moment anyway, the one I have had the most input on, you can go into a furniture store and find a chesterfield that you like, but it is not in the proper cloth you want or not the right colour. You cannot always buy that kind of article off the floor. If they come in, say, in the last two weeks of this program, obviously they could not take advantage of the exemption unless we extended the time for delivery. We really have not had a chance to look at whether that is a major problem. That is why I am asking for authority to make regulations after we have had a chance to examine it.

I want to examine the building materials a lot more before we extend the date of delivery. I would like to know many things about the building material. It is just too early for me to bring in an amendment to the act which would give us a specific date if we were going to extend it. It is too early for me to even say whether we will extend it. We have to investigate it first and see whether it is warranted or not.

With small trucks and vans, I doubt very much whether an extension beyond what is named in the act would be necessary because it is a program we have done before. The purchasers and automotive dealers know how this program runs. It is not a new program. In effect, it is the same system we used the last time we had this sort of program and we had no problems with it. I do not have any need at the moment to extend the delivery date.

The building material is the one that concerns me a great deal because we have not had a chance to look at that at all. I need authority to pass a regulation extending the time of delivery if we find it is necessary. As I said earlier, I am making no commitment at this time that I will extend any of them because I just do not have enough information at my disposal to make that kind of decision.

Mr. Breithaupt: In order that there might be as accurate a development of the expected needs as possible, will the minister be publicizing in his retail sales tax bulletin the expected opportunities that may develop for all those who are called upon to pay tax and submit it?

If publication is done over the next several issues of the bulletin in a fairly large size type or in a bit of a block notice or whatever, there would be then the opportunity for those persons, if they expect to have the need for this, to advise the ministry as early as possible. If that were the case, you would know and your officials would be able to consider what the total might be and get on with the need for the extension if that occurs.

I would hope persons would be given as much notice as possible as to what might be available so that they, in turn, could advise the ministry as to what their expectations are, particularly as you have mentioned it is more likely for certain items of furniture than for vehicles or for refrigerators and freezers which perhaps could be obtained elsewhere if they were not exactly in stock at the particular dealers that might otherwise be involved.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: We have never used the bulletins for that purpose. The bulletins we send out are normally used to announce any tax changes rather than to ask for information. They are used when we change tax policy, or there is a new tax law or policy change within the ministry regarding taxes or assessment -- anything within the ministry.

Mr. Breithaupt: That is what this is, to some degree.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, it is, except that I do not know whether I want to encourage that kind of input. I think perhaps we can get the information we need from dealing with the manufacturers’ and retailers’ associations rather than a whole bunch of individual people. It would be difficult and time-consuming.

Mr. M. N. Davison: If you keep this up, we will have to bring back the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) to embarrass you.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: That member never embarrasses me. He is a good friend of mine. He is a good fellow, not like you.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, in this party we are always distrustful of government by regulation, and taxation by regulation in particular is suspect. It affects all our pocketbooks, so we were looking carefully at this proposal by the minister. I think the main reason he is bringing it in is lack of knowledge in the ministry on how these tax exemptions are going to work. He is moving in untried territory.

I do think more study should have been done before they were brought in and there should have been more investigation of the purchasing patterns of people and how long it takes for deliveries. Of course, the haste with which the tax exemptions were put together for the Carleton by-election is the main reason the Ministry of Revenue was not given any time to study the proposal. This is the kind of half-baked legislation we get. We would have much preferred to have seen spelled out in the legislation exactly what is eligible and what are the limits on delivery dates.

4:50 p.m.

We protest the fact that this kind of amendment appears necessary at this stage in order to allow some flexibility for hardship cases that may develop because of the delivery date. I am not sure whether this amendment may be opening the dikes to a much greater use of the exemption than the Treasurer anticipated and, therefore, it may throw out his estimate of the cost of his mini-budget. At the present time, it appears the government’s position on spending money is, if it is going to win the election, then spend it without regard to the amount involved. The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) may argue it might increase the stimulation of his budget, but there are other places he could put any additional money he may have. I am prepared to go along with the amendment as far as giving the minister power on the 90 days. I hope he will use it very carefully and not extend it to every item and that he will make a study of delivery patterns.

I have one major concern about the amendment, however, and that is on the building materials. I think there is real room for abuse by developers and builders where it would not benefit the ordinary taxpayer. We have to remember that most building these days is luxury housing, because of the lack of programs to encourage construction of affordable housing. Assuming the developer passes the benefit on to the home buyer, we may be helping those who can buy luxury housing. This creates a real problem. It is why I would like to move an amendment to the amendment, that we delete building materials from the application of this amendment.

Mr. Chairman: Ms. Bryden moves that clause j of subsection 3 of section 42 of the said act, as contained in section 4 of the bill as set out in the minister’s amendment, be amended by deleting “72 or 73” in the sixth line and substituting in lieu thereof “or 72.”

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, this says that the minister does not have power to extend the delivery period for building materials, but we still leave him with up to 90 days for furniture and appliances. I have given my reasons why I think we should adopt this amendment and leave building materials under the present terms of the bill, which means people would have to anticipate their purchases and accept delivery before July 1, 1981.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Chairman, I cannot accept the member’s amendment. I am not familiar enough with the building material problems at this time to be able to assess whether or not --

Mr. M. N. Davison: Then you should not be the minister, should you? Make way for somebody knowledgeable.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Why don’t you go back to Hamilton? Somebody down there might love you. Nobody likes you here.

The reason I cannot accept the amendment at the moment is that we do not have enough information on the building material business to know whether or not at some time in the future an extension should be granted on the delivery date. It is too early to make that kind of decision. If this amendment were accepted by the Legislature, it would restrict me from being able to do anything in that regard, even if it were necessary. I would much prefer to allow my amendment to go ahead, which would include the building material. I certainly have no intention of bringing any extension to the delivery date, unless it is absolutely necessary. I assure the House of that. I can tell the House that as far as the Ministry of Revenue is concerned any extension to the delivery date causes us from an administrative viewpoint a lot of extra work and a lot of extra problems. It is not going to be dealt with lightly.

I have concerns also. I want to know exactly what would happen if an extension were granted not only in the building materials, but in any of them. I just don’t have enough information at my disposal to make a valid judgement on it at the moment. That is why I am asking the Legislature to allow me the prerogative of passing a regulation if and when it may be necessary. At this time, I think it is premature to decide whether building materials should or should not have an extension on their delivery date.

I respectfully request the members of the Legislature to take that into consideration when they are considering this amendment.

Mr. Bradley: It is always dangerous, Mr. Chairman, to say that my remarks might be slightly out of order because it then makes the chairman listen too carefully to what I am saying.

I would say I look upon with some favour the amendment the minister has proposed because it is practical in that we see the problems that are going to arise with people in those circumstances. But I do feel, nevertheless, speaking on behalf of a number of people who have expressed concerns to me, that the whole idea of these temporary measures tends to disrupt business rather than assist business. This is the complaint that business people have brought to my attention.

Bookkeeping problems become very real and very time-consuming for people in the kind of business we are talking about here. Secondly, and I will only take 20 seconds to deviate, when we are talking about vans and things of that nature, the same thing applies in that business. Unfortunately, it disrupts business. There is a real surge of sales and sometimes people can’t even meet the commitment because of a lack of inventory. When the tax is taken off, sales dive again. It makes it very difficult for those in the business and those who actually have to do the selling.

I thank the Chairman for allowing me to bring those comments to the minister’s attention. The amendment itself, however, I feel is valid.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Ms. Bryden’s amendment to the amendment to section 4 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Hon. Mr. Maeck’s amendment to section 4 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Section 4, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 5 and 6, as renumbered, agreed to.

Bill 187, as amended, reported.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Maeck, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendments.

5 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Elgie moved second reading of Bill 209, An Act to revise and extend Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned when I introduced this bill, it constitutes a comprehensive and thorough revision of the Human Rights Code, the first since the code was introduced some 18 years ago.

I believe this bill, when enacted, will place Ontario in the vanguard in the field of human rights legislation. It responds affirmatively to the majority of recommendations contained in Life Together, the 1977 report of the Human Rights Code review committee, and it includes as well other important provisions not included in that report.

Apart from changes to the structure of the code, the most important of which is the clearly defined charter of rights in part I, the new provisions fall into three broad categories: first, expansion of the code to cover new groups or classes of people; second, expansion of the code to govern new areas and activities; and, finally, a number of administrative, procedural and structural changes. While we shall be discussing each of the specific changes during clause-by-clause debate, I would like to review the contents of each of these categories generally and indicate the principles underlying the proposals.

As to expanded coverage, the following changes are proposed: discrimination on the ground of handicap is prohibited in all areas of the code. Members will share my hope that this most significant extension of coverage will greatly assist the efforts of handicapped people to achieve the greater measure of self-sufficiency and independence which many seek. The large number of informal complaints concerning handicaps received and acted upon by the commission in the recent past indicates both the importance of this protection and the distance that we, as a society, have yet to travel to reach full acceptance of the handicapped individual.

Handicapped is broadly defined in section 9b and includes past, present and perceived physical disability, mental illness, mental retardation and learning disability. After much deliberation, we concluded that in this regard Life Together had not gone far enough and that none of the major categories of disability should be excluded. This is the broadest definition of any Canadian jurisdiction and will protect the victims of past injuries, including those who have received workmen’s compensation benefits.

Exceptions will apply to those situations where a particular handicap renders the person incapable of carrying out essential functions associated with the activity in question. While, for example, an employer must be able to expect that the handicapped candidate can perform the job being filled, we agreed with the representatives of the handicapped community that this qualification should be more limited than that which would result from the use of the term bona fide and reasonable. Relating the qualification to the concept of being able to do the essential duties of a particular function will protect the handicapped person against rejection because he or she cannot perform tasks that are either unrelated to, or are but a minor part of, a particular job.

In addition to the general prohibition against discrimination in employment, employers are prohibited from refusing to employ a handicapped person on the ground that he or she cannot enrol in an employee benefit plan or pension fund [section 21(2)]. Where a bona fide ground is established which excludes the handicapped person from such a plan, the employer must pay to the employee an amount equivalent to the contribution the employer would otherwise have paid to the plan on the employee’s behalf.

Handicapped persons have a right as well to equal treatment and insurance, subject again to bona fide exceptions. These may apply in four cases: in individual insurance policies [section 20]; in employee pay-all plans [section 21(3b)]; in employee group plans of under 25 lives [section 21(3b)]; and in employee disability plans where a pre-existing handicap substantially increases the risk [section 21(3a)].

In arriving at these limited exceptions, the government has attempted to reconcile the legitimate concerns of representatives of the handicapped community and those of insurers. Essentially, it is only possible for the insurers to provide benefits to handicapped and non-handicapped alike if it is possible to spread the risk over a large group of people. Hence, the four exceptions I have mentioned.

Protection against discrimination because of age is extended from the employment area to all sections of the code. The definition of age has been changed to protect persons between the ages of 18 years and 65 years. Section 9a is the relevant section. This is important to ensure that young people have access to public facilities, housing and jobs. As I mentioned in my statement in the House two weeks ago, the upper limit in the definition of age is an issue which remains particularly perplexing.

The government appreciates that a healthy and able-bodied employee should not be forced into retirement simply because his or her employer has rigid and universally applied retirement rules. On the other hand, we clearly do not wish to enact, in our human rights code, measures which might inadvertently encourage indirectly delaying retirement benefits for older workers. As I mentioned, I expect the report of the royal commission on pensions will contribute to our understanding of the issue of pensions and retirement. I will be appointing an advisory mechanism to make recommendations to me on the matter of the upper limit for discrimination on grounds of age. I also mentioned in previous remarks that I hope the standing committee reviewing this bill and these sections will give first priority to that issue.

The bill also extends protection against discrimination because of family status to persons in all areas of the code, subject to certain exceptions in the case of accommodation to preserve legitimate lifestyle preferences: for example, shared accommodation, single sex accommodation and accommodation in a building containing more than one unit served by a common entrance and restricted to adults only. It is very difficult to make universally applicable family status roles with respect to accommodation. On the one hand, it is argued that an individual’s right to enjoy a quiet place to live should be protected. On the other hand, it is pointed out that families with children in large urban areas have difficulty finding suitable accommodation. We have given careful consideration to both arguments and have decided that the latter is essentially a question of housing supply, a matter really beyond the purview of human rights legislation.

In the past, parents, particularly single mothers, have been denied employment as well as training, promotional and transfer opportunities because it is believed their family status will limit the length of their employment or their willingness to relocate. The new code should provide an effective remedy for these situations.

Protection against discrimination on the basis of marital status is given in all areas of the code subject to exceptions in the case of shared accommodation, single sex accommodation, such as residences, and accommodation in a building of not more than four units, one of which is owner-occupied. The addition of this ground to the area of accommodation will prohibit the denial of housing to individuals on the grounds they are unmarried, widowed, divorced or separated.

Discrimination against persons in receipt of public assistance is prohibited in accommodation. This will prevent landlords from screening out individuals receiving public assistance as undesirable tenants based on a generalized and, in our view, an unwarranted and, indeed, offensive stereotype held by some about welfare recipients.

In the recent past, the problems facing domestic workers have received considerable public attention. The present human rights code does not apply to domestic workers. We have come to the conclusion that it should. Anti-discrimination protection is extended to domestic workers, other than companions, in section 21(6c) to preserve the freedom of choice of those individuals who require personal or medical assistance.

Protection in employment, subject to bona fide occupational requirements, is given to those who have a record of offences defined to mean a conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or a conviction for a provincial offence. Life Together pointed out that eight out of every 10 inmates in Ontario prisons are repeat offenders. Obviously the difficult task of successful re-entry to the world beyond the institution is made much more difficult by discrimination against those who have had a record of offences. This provision parallels the federal Human Rights Act with respect to federal offences and applies as well to all convictions for provincial offences.

5:10 p.m.

In the second category -- added areas and activities governed by the new code -- I would like to draw to the attention of the members the following provisions: protection against discrimination in the equal enjoyment of goods, services and facilities is broadened by removing the limiting phrase “available in any place in which the public is customarily admitted.” This conforms to the spirit of Life Together and is broader than its recommendation. It will place such institutions as universities clearly within the ambit of the code.

Protection is added against discrimination in contracts, including the buying and selling of property. This provision means that contracts must be offered to all persons of legal capacity on equal terms. Its application should be especially significant in the case of contracts for the buying and selling of property, since it recognizes that the ownership of property is a fundamental right in our society that should be exercised without invidious discrimination.

The code review committee concluded that there was evidence to show that certain prospective purchasers were sometimes denied the right to purchase houses on the ground of race or colour. Such obviously discriminatory practices would now be prohibited.

Tenants and employees are given specific protection against harassment because of any grounds or prohibited discrimination, including sexual harassment by landlords, fellow tenants, employers and fellow employees [section 4(2)]. A persistent sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position of authority is prohibited, as are reprisals without persistence or threats thereof by a person in a position of authority for refusing or rejecting a sexual solicitation.

Mr. M. N. Davison: What is persistent?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Be quiet. Go back home. Take an Aspirin.

This is not an issue dealt with in Life Together. It is clear to me that the powers of the present code, which have been interpreted to protect against sexual harassment, should be reinforced and made more explicit. I think there is general recognition in society that this subject must be squarely addressed.

Constructive discrimination is expressly prohibited. For example, an employer is prohibited from arbitrarily refusing to hire men with beards, because such a practice would effectively exclude Sikhs from employment. Discrimination because of association with members of a protected group is also prohibited. Thus an employer is prohibited from refusing to hire a white man because his spouse may be black.

The third miscellaneous category includes a number of significant administrative, procedural and structural matters. For instance, the Human Rights Code will bind the crown and will have primacy over future legislation immediately and over existing legislation after two years, unless the legislation expressly states that it excludes the application of the code.

Provision is made to exempt affirmative action plans or programs legitimately designed to benefit particular classes of persons. This is in response to the view expressed by many special interest groups that special programs to help their members achieve equal opportunity should be allowed to operate with the minimum amount of difficulty. Exception is also made for government programs of similar intent, including tax legislation.

The commission’s powers are expanded and clarified. In particular, the commission will have the power to recommend the implementation of affirmative action plans or programs to rectify this systemic discrimination. In the past, while boards of inquiry have had the authority to require affirmative action plans to remedy specific complaints, the commission did not have the power on its own initiative to recommend such measures. This was identified in Life Together as an important means of overcoming historic disadvantage. Together with the power to examine and make recommendations on any statute or regulation, this significantly extends the purview of the commission. In view of the need to continue to promote racial harmony, the new code creates a race relations division of the commission headed by a commissioner for race relations. The race relations division is to consist of at least three commissioners. Members will recall that approximately one year ago the government appointed Dr. Ubale as the first commissioner for race relations in Canada. In the interim, that commissioner has, with his colleagues, undertaken a number of initiatives in this area.

On October 23, I also announced an increase in the complement of the race relations division of five new officers to expand and accelerate their important work. The powers of the commission to inquire into and eliminate sources of conflict, to initiate investigations and to encourage and promote remedial activity now are included in the code.

With respect to hoards of inquiry, I draw the attention of members to two items in particular. First, the responsible minister no longer has the discretion to approve or not to approve a board of inquiry on the commission’s recommendation. Second, to ensure the independence of those chosen to head boards of inquiry as they review evidence put before them by the commission, the minister retains the authority to appoint the boards from a panel of persons selected to act as members of boards of inquiry. Where the commission decides a board will not be appointed, it is required to give written reasons for its decisions. As well, persons whose complaints are rejected by the commission as not warranting referral to a board of inquiry will have the right to request that their complaints be reconsidered.

Provisions included in the new code are designed to expedite hearings by boards of inquiry. Under these provisions, proceedings must commence within 30 days of the appointment of the board of inquiry and decisions must be issued within 30 days of the completion of hearings.

The remedial powers of boards of inquiry are expanded in three significant areas. First, boards of inquiry will be permitted to issue orders requiring landlords and employers to take appropriate action to prevent future harassment of tenants and employees by fellow tenants and fellow employees. I hope, among other things, this measure will serve to prevent the vicious incidents of racial taunting and attacks to which some individuals in our community have been exposed over the past two years.

Second, boards will be able to award damages of up to $5,000 for mental anguish in appropriate cases. Third, subject to reasonable cost considerations, boards of inquiry will be empowered to make orders for access to premises and facilities following findings of discrimination contrary to the code.

Finally, an important illustration of the government’s intent with respect to human rights is that the new code makes it a condition of every crown contract and subcontract that the contractor or subcontractor will not discriminate in employment contrary to the code. A breach of the code will be sufficient grounds for cancellation of the contract or refusal to enter into a further contract.

The people of Ontario deserve the increased human rights protection this bill provides and they have asked for the leadership I think it reflects. I am convinced the bill will improve the quality of life for all people in this province. The bill addresses the major human rights issues equitably and humanely, and I am pleased to commend it to the members of the House.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate briefly in a debate as important as this one dealing with Bill 209.

In the course of one’s limited career in public life, one participates in a variety of legislation dealing with a load of issues and problems. Some of it is more interesting than others. You, Mr. Speaker, would know that from your long experience in the chair. You sit here days and nights, listening patiently and keeping order over individuals in this assembly who are very unruly at times; it is not an easy task. In addition to having to keep order when these individuals misbehave, you have to listen to some of the speeches made by people, including myself, on topics of great concern only to themselves.

But that is not the case here. This is a very important piece of legislation. As the minister has said, it is a comprehensive and thorough revision of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the first since 1962. Considering what has happened to this province and in a sense, I suppose, to this city, and the changes that have taken place, it is a necessary and important revision of the code.

5:20 p.m.

The government some time ago had established a commission to report on the question of human rights in Ontario. The commission, chaired by Tom Symons, reported back in 1977. The report was called Life Together. It outlined a variety of very important amendments that would make our human rights code respond to the needs of 1980 Ontario society. I guess at that time it was 1977 Ontario society.

The government took its sweet time in coming forward with these amendments. I will not spend too much time criticizing the government on that point. I quite appreciate it does take some time to review these amendments.

Many of the things mentioned in the report require some time for absorption and acceptance by a community. I do not think any government, in today’s politics and today’s communicative world, can embark on a frolic of its own and start putting forward amendments that do not receive what is called public acceptance. So I understand it is not an easy matter for the government to just accept all the amendments overnight, bring forward legislation and have them passed. I understand why there would be some delay, but in these circumstances I felt the delay was somewhat too much.

Nevertheless, I must congratulate this minister for finally having brought forward these amendments to the code. The minister at an earlier time, at a time when he did not have the benefit of my criticism, had tried by a circuitous route to bring forward amendments to deal with the problems of the handicapped in this province, and we saw the fate of that exercise. But we will not remind the minister of that. He was derailed there, but he is finally back on the rails and he is bringing forward this legislation. Certainly the principles outlined in this major revision will receive the full support and co-operation of this caucus and this critic. He has our enthusiastic endorsement.

Although we may have some criticism about some of the things that are not in the bill -- do not shake your head at me; do not curtail me now, Mr. Speaker, just when I am getting going. I will not spend much time on things that are not in the bill.

If we do criticize some of the things that are not workable, it is because we want to see a better piece of legislation. The human rights code is an important matter. Human relations is extremely important in 1980 Ontario society. It is not something we can do with haste. It is not something we can give unanimous agreement to and say “Go to it; let’s start enforcing.” This matter requires close revision; it requires the attention of the best minds in this Legislature. It certainly requires the assistance of the people in the community who will be affected and come forward and make submissions and possibly assist us to see to it that we have the best possible type of workable legislation in Ontario.

I am relatively inexperienced in the job of being critic in this area, but I just want to mention that the basis for most of this legislation was this report called Life Together. The chairman of that commission was Tom Symons. The contribution that individual has made in the area of language, race, and human rights in Ontario is a large one. He was the same individual on whom the government relied in the 1971 election in dealing with the secondary school problem in Sturgeon Falls. He was called upon to look at that situation. I think he reported in 1972 or 1973. I recall his report on French-language education in Ontario. Shortly after that, there was another problem in Cornwall. Again, they got Tom Symons, who went down there and helped to solve the very difficult situation in Cornwall. In fact, some of the major amendments that have taken place through the Education Act in relation to French-language education were as a result of his report at that time on French-language education.

Since that time he has gone on to do a variety of things. One of the contributions he has made now is this report, Life Together: A Report on Human Rights in Ontario. One should pay tribute to individuals whose contribution is not measured in the field of high-profile publicity but who, in the long term, have made consistent contributions in that area. I want to underline the name of Tom Symons as one of those. There are others who were part of this commission who should be mentioned but certainly Tom Symons, the chairman, is one who deserves our applause for his contribution in that field in Ontario.

The report mentions a very important principle which should guide us about the role of human rights and the role of individuals in the community as far as human rights are concerned. Another individual who has made a tremendous contribution in the field of justice and human rights in Ontario is the Honourable Justice McRuer. He made a comprehensive report of laws in Ontario. The man’s contribution as Chief Justice of Ontario, on the bench and as a counsel, is something that is beyond the comprehension of those of us who have made so little contribution in the field of law.

Mr. Justice McRuer states in his report at page 18, “Although freedom of the individual is a basic right, it is a limited one.” He goes on to say: “In a well-ordered society, there cannot be freedom in the abstract nor in the absolute. If there is not freedom for the community to develop in harmony and peace, there cannot be secure freedom for the individual who lives within it. The individual’s rights to freedom must be exercised in the context of his or her responsibilities to the community of which he or she is part.”

Another individual he has quoted here, and I just want to read this briefly, Professor Tarnopolsky, has also made a tremendous contribution in the field of civil rights. He is quoted as saying: “An act of discrimination does not give rise merely to a new private claim for compensation. It amounts to a public wrong. It is a rip in the fabric that binds society together.”

So human rights is a matter for all of us. That is why I feel extremely privileged to be participating with the minister in the enactment of this very important legislation. I have already expressed to the minister in the estimates my concern about the fact that certain matters mentioned in the report Life Together are not included in the bill.

I suppose the major matter, the one that had the highest profile, is the question of sexual orientation. I have said to the minister, and it is on the record, that I am sorry that is not included in the bill, because the report states clearly they have evidence there has been discrimination. The position of this critic is simply that all discrimination, to whatever variety of individuals, including those who do not have much public support or sympathy, should be outlawed. We know there has been discrimination in that field but it is unfortunate, because of circumstances, that we do not have this in the bill.

The other matter I have expressed concern about to the minister is the fact that the report had suggested that the Ontario Human Rights Commission should not be associated with any ministry. They have said it clearly in the report. The Ministry of Labour has not hampered the commission, it has not unduly constrained its discretion, but the fact remains that human rights are very important. The commission should be made to appear independent. You know, Mr. Speaker, the great principle that justice must not only be done but appear to be done; that is very important in the field of human relations and in the field of human rights. That is why it is important that the commission should be divorced completely not only from the Ministry of Labour but also from any other ministry and should be completely independent. The minister and I have had a brief discussion on this and we do not fully agree, but I do not consider that to be a major problem with the legislation.

5:30 p.m.

Considering the legislation is the fairest major revision in 18 years, it is deserving of close scrutiny. I am pleased the legislation is going to standing committee so that various groups will have the opportunity to review it and see how we can make it practical and workable. We have already had submissions and I have already had concerns expressed by a variety of individuals. Some have expressed concern the law may be too specific.

One of the things prohibited in the bill is refusing to hire a person with a criminal record if that person can show he or she has been rehabilitated. The minister knows it is not easy to prove a person with a criminal record has been rehabilitated.

Another area some people will raise concern about is where a landlord cannot refuse accommodation on the basis of marital status. I do not intend to go into all the specifics of the bill, but one can understand that, in a society that considers itself free and democratic, we say to an individual: “You do what you want with your property, subject to certain laws. You can’t discriminate on the basis of marital status.” A landlord can say: “I am not discriminating on the basis of marital status. I am discriminating on the basis I consider married people to be more financially stable than someone who is not.” These are the difficulties that can come forward and it is important we look at these things.

Any legislation that goes to protect one’s rights is at the same time usually done at the expense of someone else. Mr. Justice McRuer has said that no right is absolute. There has to be some constraint, some flexibility and it is going to be important that those affected by this legislation have an opportunity to be heard, that they be made to understand, that they be made to participate in the process so they will see willingly that we in this Legislature are prepared to listen to them and have legislation that is workable. They are the ones who are going to be affected by it.

The minister mentioned in his statement that the commission is going to be able to tell employers or landlords to prohibit some of their employees or tenants from discriminating against other individuals. That can create problems. I can see situations where employers will be caught in the crossfire between an individual who may be discriminated against and some of their other employees. That can be a problem. I am anxious to hear some of the people from small business give us an explanation on the issue.

Section 38 is the section that gives the powers to a board of inquiry to award damages not exceeding $5,000 for mental anguish. The concept of mental anguish and awarding damages is not an easy one. What is mental anguish? Once we open that door we are going to have to look at some of the topics discussed in the legislation.

The minister is very much aware of some of the concerns of people such as the Coalition on Human Rights for the Handicapped. My colleagues in my caucus and I have had meetings with these individuals, and they appeared to be not only very responsible but also very knowledgeable and very practical in the suggestions they have made. I am sure the minister will understand that, although no legislation can be perfect, some parts of this bill will provide an opportunity to improve its effectiveness.

For instance, on the question of what is called reasonable accommodation, the coalition has made submissions to the minister on the basis that the proposed legislation does not define as an act of discrimination the refusal or the unwillingness of an employer, service provider, or landlord, to make reasonable accommodation to a handicapped person’s condition.

Without these changes, they claim reasonable accommodation can be ordered only when discrimination is proven on another ground. This makes section 38 of the Human Rights Code virtually an unenforceable remedy in such cases. They have a point. I think we should look at their submission to see whether we could respond to their point that it might be an act of discrimination to refuse to make reasonable accommodation.

They also want to discuss the question of onus of proof, and members can understand that when we are into this type of legislation it is not an easy concept either. On whom do we put the onus of proof in such legislation? They have proposed that the onus of proof should be on the individual who is alleged to have infringed upon the human rights of the complainant.

They go on to say that the definition of handicapped should be enlarged to include people who have diabetes --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: They are.

Mr. Roy: The minister says they are included. In which section? Maybe the minister could be of assistance. I have not looked at the section to understand that people who have diabetes are included.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Section 9b(1).

Mr. Roy: I am looking at section 9b(1). I take it what the minister is saying, although it is not precisely on the question of diabetes, is that the definition is wide enough to include people with diabetes.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No doubt about it.

Mr. Roy: My colleague the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) has been making this submission for nine years, and I think that contribution should be underlined.

I have not had a chance to look closely at section 9b(1) to see whether it is included. As I said to my dear colleague the minister, some days I have more confidence in his medical expertise than in his legal expertise, but he may yet convince me before this whole exercise is over that he has some legal capabilities.

I do not want to be unduly harsh with him, but when I heard some of his colleagues last week talking about human rights, including the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), their remarks left a lot to be desired in terms of their legal knowledge in that field. I trust that as we go through --

Hon. Mr. Walker: He has a QC.

Mr. Roy: He’s a QC? Who is a QC? Is the Minister of Labour a QC? When I found out that the Minister of Community and Social Services got a QC, the same time as I did, I was truly offended. I felt like returning mine. I am really just saying that in good fun, because I think his contribution to this place is deserving of that honourable title. Mr. Speaker, you and I are deserving of that honourable title, after the contribution we have made to the profession. I ask the minister if he has ever practised.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Of course I have. More consistently than the member, for a shorter period of time.

Hon. Mr. Walker: You are just trying to avoid having your QC stripped this year.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I am told that when the Attorney General handed those out, he said, “You get yours on merit, Roy, and the others are political.” That’s what he said.

5:40 p.m.

The other concern of human rights and the handicapped is in the field of insurance. That is not an easy concept either, as to when the insurance companies are discriminating against this group.

There are many more things I would like to talk about; for instance, the question of affirmative action programs and whether that means setting up quotas; or when they are ordering access to premises, the difficulties that causes. But I have highlighted all these things to explain, when we are dealing with something as important and as complex as human rights, that there are so many people involved. There are not only those whom we want to protect, but, in so protecting those who will be affected, not all these people are entitled to a hearing. They are all entitled to see to it that they have confidence in their legislation and that they participate in the process.

That is why I was pleased to hear the minister say this legislation will be going to standing committee. As I said before, we support this bill in principle, but any criticisms we will have will be to make it a better piece of legislation so that Ontario can give leadership, can be in the forefront and can maintain its position as the protector of human relations in this jurisdiction.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, when the member for Ottawa East was talking about the medical skill as distinct from the legal skill of the minister, I was reminded of an occasion when I was practising law. Dr. Roscoe Graham died suddenly one day while he was away skiing, and the next day Dr. Harry Botterell came into the law office where I was associated and said: “Now that Roscoe is dead, who is there to operate on me? I need a will urgently.” I feel very much the same way; if anything were to happen to my friend the minister, I would certainly need to have a will urgently, because who else would there be to operate on me?

I rise to participate at some length and perhaps, in the view of some members of the assembly, at undue length, in the bill before us. I compliment the minister on the bill. I hasten to assure him this caucus will support the bill on second reading, because it is very much what we have been waiting for, an entirely new Human Rights Code, as he said in his opening statement when he introduced the bill on November 25 last.

I was particularly taken by a comment of his at that time which he repeated on two occasions in his remarks. He said, “It does not represent the end of reform, but rather a new beginning.” Later on that same day, he stated: “I have characterized this as a new beginning in both substantive and symbolic terms. I have described the substance of the proposals. The symbolic importance of the revisions cannot be overemphasized. I hope the people of Ontario will recognize that the new code represents this government’s rededication to the elimination of the corrosive effects of discrimination in our society. Ultimately, of course, the success of laws, especially in this sensitive area, depends on the good will, tolerance and maturity of our people.”

I may say also the introduction of the bill led me again to read -- I picked it up, I may say, intending only to refresh my mind and to skim through it -- Life Together: A Report on Human Rights in Ontario, which was the culmination of the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission under the distinguished chairmanship at that time of Thomas Symons. I read the whole of the report because I found it, again, an extremely fascinating report and a great tribute to the empathy and perceptions of not only a distinguished Canadian but a humanitarian of immense depth and wisdom. I urge all members of the assembly, when they have occasion during the recess, to reread it if they have not done so recently.

The chairman stated in the preface, “The preparation of the report has been given highest priority by the commission since its reconstruction as a public body of private citizens in 1975.” It has taken some time, but I am not one to grudge the time if the result, in its final analysis, is good.

I think the bill is a first-class bill. It very much reflects what Dr. Symons said at that time: “Respect for human rights is an old tradition in Ontario, but it is a tradition that may be more fragile than we think. Public respect for human rights is not something that can be taken for granted in any part of the world, not even in Canada. A climate of understanding and mutual respect will not grow of its own initiative. It requires careful and constant nurturing and encouragement through public education and legislative action.”

I hope to draw those two threads together, public education and legislative action, as we look at the report. I do not intend to go through the provisions of the bill in any minute detail. As the minister indicated, in the weeks ahead we will have an opportunity to deliberate upon the bill and its provisions. It would not be fitting in any event to dwell upon that kind of minutiae. But I want to deal with a very fundamental concept in it.

I am always amazed at the skill of legislative counsel in drafting a bill. The guts of the bill is in two short lines in section 8. The principle of the bill is very simple: “No person shall infringe or do anything that results directly or indirectly in the infringement of a right under this part,” referring to part I, which is the part of the bill designated “Freedom From Discrimination.” The eight sections of that detail the rights with respect to nondiscrimination that we are looking at as we peruse the bill.

It is a very succinct principle we are dealing with. The elaboration of it is in all of the provisions of the bill. In a little while I may come back to those provisions of the bill and the different parts of it and make some comments about them. But the preamble is essential. As I was considering the bill I thought perhaps I should look at the dictionary to refresh my mind about the words “dignity” and “worth.” They are in a sense interchangeable. The question of equal dignity and equal worth of each individual is fundamental, as the recital states, to any civilized society.

5:50 p.m.

Nondiscrimination provisions of any bill are a reflection of that civility, in the sense of the ancient term “civility.” That is the only basis on which a society of fairness and justice can exist in any way. However, I want to indicate that in that recital, there is a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations. When I was thinking about that declaration, I was concerned as to why there is no reference, in the recital to the act, to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada is a party through the United Nations, which is obligatory by virtue of Canada’s adhesion to international law -- obligatory in the international sense at the federal and provincial levels as well as at the level of the two northern territories.

I felt I should draw three or four distinctions so we can be clear about the particular documents to which we refer related to Canada’s participation in the ongoing work of human rights and the protection of those tights in the world at large, and in Canada in particular, in the international community.

We do have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As many of us will recall, on December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That document has been referred to on many occasions and is carried forward, quite properly, in the bill before us.

I have here the report of Canada on the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which refers at some considerable length to the province of Ontario and the compliance by the province of Ontario with the international covenant and its obligations as assumed by the federal government. I want to come back to that very briefly.

There are two documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. The international covenant was adopted on December 16, 1966, and was adhered to by Canada some 10 or 11 years later, in 1976 or thereabouts. At that time, two covenants were adopted, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Although I may be wrong -- my information may not be as accurate as I would wish it to be -- it seems that while Canada has adhered to the one international covenant, it has not as yet adhered to the second covenant adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations at the same time, December 16, 1966.

Both of those covenants contain very detailed provisions concerning the deliberation of the nations of the world that are members of the United Nations with respect to this ongoing problem. When we come back to our particular bill and the eight sections related to our rights, we must not lose sight for one moment of the immense detail, complexity and necessity of all the provisions of those two international agreements.

I thought I also should refer at this time, since it is in many people’s minds, to the Helsinki accord because sometimes that is considered by many of us to have supplanted other declarations. I simply want to say that the statement I have from the International Commission of Jurists is that: “The Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe is a comprehensive and varied code for the improvement of security and co-operation between east and west in Europe. The parties to it are all the states of Europe except Albania, the United States and Canada. While it is still too early to assess what the results of the Final Act will be, it has already proved to be a powerful instrument for liaising the subject of the observance of human rights to the forefront of foreign policy.”

I want to distinguish it from the two covenants to which I have referred and, particularly, the covenant with respect to civil and political rights to which Canada is an adhering party. The reference goes on to state: “The term ‘Final Act’ itself has no precise meaning in law. It is certainly not a treaty or pact with binding obligations placed on the states that are parties. It is essentially a statement of principles for the guidance of interstate relations, a statement of intent.”

I do not want to go on at any great length, but I thought the record should clearly distinguish the status of the Helsinki accord from the two international covenants of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to one of which Canada adheres, and to distinguish it, of course, from the position with respect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is in the preamble to the bill that is before us.

How does one relate Canada’s adhesion to that international covenant to what we are doing in this assembly? Mr. Speaker, if this could be six of the clock, I want to pick up, when we return at eight o’clock, on an explanation of the connection between Canada in its international aspect, Canada in its domestic aspect, the obligations of Ontario with respect to the performance of those covenants and its connections with the human rights bill that is before us. I would like, if I may, Mr. Speaker, to resume at eight o’clock.

The House recessed at 5:58 p.m.