31st Parliament, 4th Session

L139 - Thu 11 Dec 1980 / Jeu 11 déc 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the second interim report of the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment.

Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment, it was my pleasure this afternoon to table the interim report of the results of some six weeks of meetings and public hearings, both with and without witnesses before us in committee.

While dealing with the interim report, it was the objective of the committee to accomplish two things. One was to bring members of the assembly who did not have the opportunity to serve on that committee up to date on some of the things we learned and the forum that we used -- the case study forum -- to approach our task. I do sincerely hope that everybody has a chance to peruse the report, because it is an extensive outline of the approach we took and some of the things we learned.

It was our task to explain to the best of our ability how we will approach the remainder of our assignment in the first five weeks of 1981 when we will complete our work as a select committee of this assembly and make a final report, that to be done some time by early February.

Like any chairman who makes a report of a committee, I was a little relieved at about 3:30 today to do that. Yet at the same time I felt a little bit cheated. I want to come back to that. It was my personal goal, when this committee was appointed and I was named chairman of it, to do my best in my capacity as chairman to see that the deliberations were done in a fair and open way. My hope as chairman was that we would provide the essential balance to this difficult area before us, the essential balance between the rights of the employees and of employers in this province.

As a private member, I was attempting during the six weeks the committee met to be mindful of the people outside this building in the real world, and the impact any recommendations we might make would have on them. It is my hope to complete my assignment as chairman of this select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment. It seems to me there are at least two conditions that will have to be met for me to complete my role as chairman in the five weeks that we meet in 1981.

At the very least, my role and responsibility as chairman has to be kept intact in order that I can provide some objectivity and that I will not undermine my ability to serve the members of the committee and witnesses before the committee by any prejudging. Another condition that would have to be met is that I not renege on my role, my rights and my responsibility as a private member. It was my intention to treat any comments I would make as chairman of this select committee with all the fairness and balance I could muster. I believe I did that.

Mr. Kerrio: You got carried away once in a while.

Mr. McCaffrey: I said at the outset I felt a little cheated at the time we made our report this afternoon. That was because of the announcement that had been made by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) shortly after two o’clock today that committed the government to severance pay. It seems to me that severance pay legislation is beyond debate in the early weeks of 1981 and, more important from my point of view, the effectiveness of severance pay legislation is beyond debate. There is no question we have a raft of details to grapple with, but the effectiveness of severance pay legislation as a tool to speak to some of the problems being experienced by workers and owners outside this building has been denied the committee.

I would like to make it clear that no reasonable person in this room, no reasonable person on the committee, was not committed and anxious to do what he could, using the tools available to us, to improve the status quo for workers in this province. The questions really underlying the work of this committee, corporate responsibility to the community, how we measure that in legislation, how we measure and better define the role of the government in these communities faced with shutdowns, were the underlying and important themes and remain so. I am disappointed that the alternatives that some reasonable people do see to severance pay legislation will not get the detailed analysis they might otherwise have received. I mean areas of concern, such as retraining, relocation, job sharing, early retirement and employee participation, that is to say, ownership in firms.

Sadly, most of the people who did come before our committee in the first phase of our work did, on balance, see severance pay as a Band-Aid approach, as one tool to ease the burden of the unemployed, but only as a Band-Aid. I do not think anyone who came before that committee saw the achievement of severance pay legislation as an end in itself. Increasingly, as we learned more, we became aware of the host of other obligations that we, as legislators, had in this area. The primary message to me, brought by various witnesses, was that we need jobs in this jurisdiction and we need money, we need investment capital, be that out of country or Canadian capital.

When I talk about the need for investment capital, I am not resorting to the rhetoric that comes sometimes to all of us relatively easily. I am not talking about the free enterprise, private sector bag of clichés that people can resort to on occasion. It is my sincere belief that nobody on that side of the room and nobody on this side who can resort to these clichés will serve the people of Ontario in the 1980s and 1990s.

When I talk about the need for investment -- and I said that it was not restricted to Canadian money -- it raises the question about multinationals. It has been of more than passing concern to me that over the weeks that we sat as a committee the multinationals have become singled out as the easy villains. They seem to be a popular target these days. There is nobody I know and respect in the business of politics who does not understand the general attitude toward multinationals. The mere word evokes strong feelings in some quarters.

8:10 p.m.

I urge the colleagues of mine on the committee and other people in the assembly who might be listening to think very carefully about how to approach the topic of multinationals and foreign capital. Let us not pretend we can establish guidelines applying to the foreign-owned multinational that would not equally apply to the Canadian-owned multinational. Further, I think it is terribly important we bear in mind that it is not possible by using the tools, the legislation available to us here, to set a list of guidelines applying to the large corporations that would not apply to the smaller corporations.

Big corporations are the target for some people. There are people, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, who said to me that they approached this committee assignment with 10 or more years of justified built-up anger. Yet it is impossible to speak to those easy political targets without setting guidelines that make it equally onerous for the wholly owned Canadian firm, indeed the small Canadian firm, to compete.

It may be worth a minute or two to ask a general question about the state of business today and what it is like to do business outside this building in Ontario today.

Mr. Kerrio: It is pretty tough.

Mr. McCaffrey: I looked for the member for Niagara Falls yesterday with a longing heart.

The cost of money is at historic levels. I caught the late news last night and noted the United States prime rate is 20 per cent. People who are apparently learned in this area indicate we could see a US prime rate of 24 or 25 per cent over the next few months. The cost of money is such that it is increasingly difficult for businesses, large or small, foreign-owned or Canadian-owned, to do business in this province, this country, this continent. One does not have to be an expert to be aware of the increasing number of small business bankruptcies being filed regularly. That is another measure of the difficulty of doing business these days. The North American economy is in a mature phase and, unfortunately, that is part of the measure of it.

No amount of rhetoric from this side or that side of the assembly is going to get us back to the high growth period of the 1950s and 1960s. The world has changed rapidly and we are trying desperately to come up with legislative devices that will speak to those changes. It is imperative that we remember the two sides of this equation, the employees and the employers.

The expression “jurisdiction shopping” was new to me until about four or five weeks ago when it was used by one of the witnesses before the committee. Jurisdiction shopping, as the name implies, is a measure of what is actually happening with small and large corporations today when they look to various US states or Canadian provinces to find out what incentives and other inducements are available to them to encourage them to locate in a particular jurisdiction.

This phenomenon of jurisdiction shopping is real, it is measurable and it is not going to go away. It is another indication of the importance of paying attention to the needs and the rights of the employers and the corporations in this jurisdiction.

When we have attempted -- and it came up a number of times in committee -- to measure corporations’ social obligations, we had difficulty. It is a relatively new area for people, sometimes for those in business and often those in politics. I do not pretend to have an easy yardstick to determine whether a corporation is a good corporate citizen or not, but I would at least offer one basic measure and that is the taxes paid by all corporations doing business in Ontario. Canadian-owned or foreign-owned, big ones or small ones, pay taxes to three levels of government. They probably do not pay taxes any more willingly than any man or woman does. But corporations do pay taxes and the taxes paid are measured in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Those moneys find themselves utilized as the general revenues of this province, utilized in countless social ways that we, as legislators, define to meet the social goals we have established. I say again that both parties, employees and employers, have some rights.

Among the witnesses we saw, there was a genuine attempt by both parties, the employer and the union sides, to speak openly and candidly to the difficulties being coped with out there. I would like to get a few of the comments on the record, if I may. First, I would like to quote from an Ontario Federation of Labour bulletin that refers to rationalization, where we have too many companies producing the same kind of product and not in sufficient numbers to be profitable. This OFL bulletin says:

“Although rationalization has much to be said for it and should be pursued as a policy, it is the small Canadian producer who has been the innovator and developer of new products, who has been imaginative and should be assisted. The Ontario economy must be diversified in order to increase employment and reduce instability.”

Rationalization is painful as it develops. We saw it at the outset with our first corporate witnesses, the people from Armstrong Cork Industries Ltd. The general manager, Mr. Jack Jordin, was before our committee trying to answer the question that was underlying his appearance and that of a few others, namely, that there was something sinister in their closing their Canadian operation and retreating to the States. The implication was that these were political and not economic decisions.

Mr. Jordin said: “It is not the Armstrong Cork company’s intent to close this plant and satisfy this market from the United States. Lest I sound too noble, we could not do it if we wanted to because with the Canadian dollar at 84 cents and with the 20 per cent duty it is just not economically feasible to do so.” That was a point well made and concurred in by the committee.

It has been my observation that every time the name of the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) is mentioned, the word reasonable is usually attached at some point to describe him. He is, at the very least, a reasonable individual. He said, in the dialogue with the general manager of Armstrong Cork, Lindsay division: “Let me say at the outset, your track record” -- he was looking at the 10-year profit-and-loss statement for the Lindsay division we had requested through a Speaker’s warrant -- “since your arrival in Canada would appear to me to be downhill all the way.” The numbers confirm that.

The member for Riverdale, reasonable individual that he is, said, “First of all, you are leaving the carpet business in Canada for good practical purposes.” That was self-evident. The sinister implication that it was a political decision somehow persists, in spite of this evidence.

I was very impressed with Mr. Bud Clarke, who spoke to the committee at the time of the Armstrong Cork appearance. He is the co-director of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. Mr. Clarke said, “In all fairness, it should be noted that Armstrong Cork gave both notice and severance benefits in excess of their legal obligations.” Mr. Clarke is more than a union organizer. I was informed he had been in that business since he was 17.

Mr. Clarke gave a very real assessment of what is happening outside this building when he said, “The carpet industry is in one of the biggest slumps we have had for some time. The closing of the Peterborough operation was a valid, honest decision -- no question.”

With regard to the whole of that industry, an industry where his membership works, he said: “They glutted the market.” He was referring to the growth period in the late 1950s. “You can find two- or three-tufted machines in garages. People are advertising three rooms for $295. It is pretty hard to compete with that stuff.” He made reference to the kind of thing we see regularly in the newspapers where two or three rooms can be fully broadloomed for prices as low as $295.

As a reflection of the change in that industry, Mr. Clarke earlier made reference to the number of members his union has. He said, “I happen to be the Canadian director of a union that has gone down from 500,000 members in this country to 250,000 members.” As to what is really before us as legislators and what was very much before us as a committee and will be when we meet in the new year, Mr. Clarke said: “We have to have jobs. You can assist all you want; we have to have employment in this province. There is no substitute. You cannot hand out money willy-nilly, whether it be provincial or federal money.”

8:20 p.m.

In looking at the financial records of that company, which was the first Speaker’s warrant we had requested, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), an active and important contributor to the work of this committee, said, “I wonder why a large corporation would continue to pour these kinds of funds into it year after year, if this is the case. I just have difficulty in accepting that this kind of money would have been put into it for as many years.”

As the member for Hamilton East said himself, I think it was not easy for any of us in the committee to understand it. That corporation had lost money for nine of the 10 years for which we had records.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I have great confidence in the ability of the member for Armourdale and he has been a wonderful chairman of that particular committee. I would ask if there has been any arrangement made for sharing of the time on this very important issue? I would suggest that the government has now used 20 minutes. I wonder if we are going to share the time with the other parties. I know there is a great deal to be offered on this side of the House.

Mr. Speaker: The chair is not aware of any time-sharing agreement.

Mr. McCaffrey: I will try to help the member for Niagara Falls out here, Mr. Speaker. I tried to help him out in the committee the other day but it did not work. There has been an understanding that the 60 minutes will be split. As I read it, I have three or four minutes left and I intend to conclude in that time.

The concluding quotation I would like to read to make a further point is directed at my good friend the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). It is a quotation taken out of the Peterborough Examiner, which speaks really not to severance, but to the whole question about justification for plant closure and in more general terms about more and more onerous legislation at a time, I hope, as we have established, when it is difficult to do business.

I quote from a former employee of this firm, a union member. “Forcing the company to reopen could have a major impact on this province’s industrial future. Confining government controls would deter other industries looking for a new plant location. The short-term gains may cost the province jobs in the long run.”

I was reminded of a comment that got a lot of press during the tenure of office of the former Progressive Conservative Minister of Finance, John Crosbie, when he talked about short-term pain for a long-term gain. I thought my friend from Sudbury East had just given a new wrinkle to this earlier message and was inclined, on occasion, to think that short-term gain for long-term pain might be more appropriate.

There are countless other quotations that members of the committee and witnesses before the committee did share with us, and at the appropriate time I will be able to refer to those.

In conclusion, I say almost by way of an appeal to the members of the committee who are here and to the members of the assembly who, hopefully, will be aware of our work in the new year and assist us in that work that there are two sides to this question about plant shutdowns and employee adjustment. For the first phase of our work, we have adequately reflected the urgency of dealing with the hurt employee aspect of it. I think we would be seriously remiss if we failed to recognize the rights that employers have as well. The need for investment capital, Canadian or foreign capital in this environment today, is critical.

Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, in deference to the comments made by the chairman, I would like to point out to the chair, although it may very well be out of order, that there was an understanding between the chairman and myself, and I understand with the third party, that each party would have 20 minutes. He has taken the 20 minutes for his party. We, as a party, chose to split the time, with myself taking a portion of it and the other members of the committee , the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), the member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil) and also the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), who has served as a substitute, sharing a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker: The chair is going to have some difficulty rationalizing that. There are already 25 minutes gone.

Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I would point out that although the clock says 8:25, the bell did ring past the hour of eight and we did not, in fact, begin until some few minutes after eight, so the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey) did use his 20 minutes. If there was a problem, it was that the members were perhaps tardy in arriving to the call of the bell. Having said that, it is in your hands, Mr. Speaker.

Let me carry on with some words from our party. I would like, at the outset, to make a very positive contribution, I hope, to our work as a committee by commending the chairman who has had a difficult task in accommodating not only the wishes of the members but also the needs of those witnesses who have appeared before us. He has been extremely fair and kind in the way the meetings have been run. I would like to commend him and the staff members, Mr. White, Mr. Jennings and Mr. Eichmanis, for their contribution because the job this committee has had to do in a very brief period of time has been very difficult.

We have had put in front of us seven different case studies and, in fairness, we have attempted to listen to both sides of the picture in those seven cases. We have had a time pressure that many other committees of this House have not had to face. I think we have come up with a relatively good report and that has been through the efforts not only of the chairman but the staff and, beyond that, the members who have really had a struggle to put away their partisan views. We have had our moments but, by and large, they have done that.

I will use a few minutes of our party allocation to say that each of us on the committee came in with a little bit of a pre-set idea as to what we thought we might be addressing because of problems that came out of our own communities. Beyond that, of course, we also had the broader prospect of what was happening in the province. From my own view, looking at my own community of London, I can say we are not without the problem. We faced the problem in 1969 with the announcement from the Kelvinator company it was going to close its doors. We faced the problem a little later with the announcement that Eaton Automotive was going to close its doors. We have General Motors Diesel, a very viable and active member of our industrial community, which, on occasion, has had to slow down. So we are not without our problems.

I came in as a member of this committee with some kind of a view as to what some of our problems would be, but after having sat as a member of the committee and having listened to the problems of other manufacturers, of other industries, of other unions, and of other employees, I feel fairly safe in saying that my views are now broadened to the objective view that a legislator should have. I hope very sincerely that we address ourselves to this broader issue of how we, as legislators, can review existing law, on the one hand, in the time left for us as a committee and, on the other, address ourselves to the task of not only reviewing the law but trying to find some solutions to the problems in the key area of severance pay.

In his remarks, the chairman addressed himself to the effectiveness of whatever we might do. I would sincerely hope that all of us could put partisanship aside and take a very objective view of severance pay and the way we are going to try to make it effective here in Ontario. I would also suggest we have considerations to make in so far as pensions, funding and portability are concerned. We have real concerns as a committee to address in the area of manpower adjustment committees, and we have a further major concern as a committee in so far as closure justification is concerned.

8:30 p.m.

We in the committee have not really taken heed of that. We are quite aware of it, but we really have not addressed ourselves completely to it. I would submit to you that the community I listen to -- and that includes workers, employers and the media -- views this whole process of justification as the major concern. We must address ourselves to that in the four or five weeks we will be working early in the new year. I hope we can address those themes, come up with something meaningful and do it without a lot of political posturing because the lot of the men and women who work in this province is far more important than any political posturing.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take some time this evening to make some comments on the interim report submitted by the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment. There are two or three specific areas I would like to touch on, the first being the matter of severance pay for workers who have been terminated because of a plant shutdown or because of a mass layoff which, in due course, becomes permanent.

I was pleased to hear the Minister of Labour comment today that he is prepared to accept a recommendation from the committee, once our final report is in, to set in law the principle of severance pay so that every employee, every worker who loses his or her job because of a plant shutdown may receive some small amount of monetary contribution to the big change that will occur in his or her life. We must keep that in mind. When a person loses his job he is in for a big change. The particular individual may be getting on in years. His skills may be limited or he may have no skills at all. Educational opportunities at that time are none whatsoever.

We asked something of employers, especially employers who have made profits and done what they wanted with them, such as having them remitted to the headquarters in some other country, such as using these profits to expand or pay dividends, any number of things. All the committee asked was that these corporations give workers who have given their service to these companies a small monetary payment. We have recommended one week’s severance pay for every year of service rendered.

I do not believe the Minister of Labour would have made his statement today if our report had not been agreed upon unanimously. There was mention early in our hearings of the importance of our committee submitting a unanimous report. For that, I congratulate all the members of the committee for participating in the give and take of this political framework in which we have to work and enabling the committee to submit to the Minister of Labour a unanimous report, causing the reaction we had all been hoping for.

There is also the area of justification. I want to take a moment to speak on justification of plant closures. We have sat in the committee for several weeks. We had company after company come before us. They had their reasons for closure. Of course, we heard from the union side. The thing that came to me clearly was that in each and every situation there is an immense cloud over what has taken place, with tremendous confusion and some cynicism. That is something that we are going to have to address. If I were in the company’s boots I would not want that cloud to remain after I had left, if I had left for proper reasons or if the plant had been closed for proper reasons.

We have an obligation to the workers who have spent many years in the employ of a company, people who do not know whether their jobs were eliminated for any justifiable reason at all. We have these two extremes, which I believe we must balance.

The committee has to look at this in its next set of hearings. We must remove this cloud of confusion, this cloud of cynicism that develops over a plant closure. Specific reasons and justifiable reasons must be given and must be proved before communities and workers are disrupted by having their jobs eliminated.

I would like to close by saying that my colleagues the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) and the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman), both from the Windsor-Essex county area, and I know of this problem of plant closures all too well. Both of my colleagues have been in the committee and have participated, and both are here this evening to listen to this debate.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have participated in many debates and discussions in various committees, but I cannot think of one that has been more important and significant to the workers of this province. It seems a shame that we should even be participating in such a debate because it has long been known that workers who are out of a job, whether singly or in numbers, are affected, whether it is a plant shutdown, a closure, or a layoff, or whatever. It has been my contention that while we now have to do something because of the inability of governments to react or do something long before now about this particular problem, we are debating an issue that should have had some substance as it relates to what I consider to be the route to go.

That is, we should have had long before now, adequate pay through the unemployment insurance area to look after people who are out of a job. It does not really matter how many people are laid off at a given time to justify looking after a worker who has lost his job. I am certain there are many small industries that may be harmed by this bill. There is no reason to suggest that because we pass legislation in these chambers and pass on the liability to a third party, they have the ability to meet the obligation.

It happens on too many occasions in this Legislature that because we think we have the knowledge and the ability to deal with an issue we just pass on the real obligations to another party. I do not know how long that can go on.

I think in the future we will have to address ourselves to meaningful participation and by that I mean government, the employer and, yes, the employee. Unless we decide that each and every one of us is going to share a part of the burden, we shall never, by moving it to one particular jurisdiction, resolve the problem. There are many instances where there are not the kind of profits involved.

There are those corporations that can pass the costs through. I suggest this is the problem in the automotive industry. They have pushed all the added costs through and now we are looking at $8,000 for the smallest car.

I suggest that it might be very easy for us in the Legislature to decide to pass all these costs through, but ultimately the buyer will not be able to buy, and the whole economy is going to suffer for it.

There are not many other areas I wanted to address. Having come from the business field I know that with the high interest rates and many other areas that are difficult to meet, we are not going to help the small companies by putting further obligations on them.

8:40 p.m.

I suggest it is time that we decide that whenever we have a serious problem in this country, we are all in it together. We are not going to point at the unions, we are not going to point at the government and we are not going to point at the employer. It is just about time we all shared the responsibility that is going to get this country back where it belongs and make it what it used to be.

Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I think some of the views that have been expressed by our member pretty well covered our side of it. I would like to say that I am very proud to have served with the members of the Liberal Party who are on this committee because I think we have a real cross-section. There is always the danger when we are approaching a subject such as this that we may see only one of the views expressed. I feel that we in the Liberal Party, along with some of the other members in the Legislature, try to take a balanced view.

I came from a labour-oriented family with a father who was very involved. The New Democratic Party people think they are the only people who can express the views of labour. But to get a balanced view, one has to have somebody who has a little bit of labour background and has been in business. I feel I have covered both of those and that I can look at the way they should be looked at. I think my view is very balanced. I think we have to be very careful when some of the members of the New Democratic Party -- not all the members who are on that committee -- say the only people who are at fault are the business people. Businessmen are not the only ones. I think labour has to be very careful. If they push business to the point of destroying jobs, they do not give jobs to their own members.

I realize the seriousness of these people being put out of work. I know how they feel and my heart feels for them. I think we definitely have to do many things for them to see that their lives are improved. I think we have to be very careful that we do not destroy jobs. If we look at this in a balanced way, making sure that we give benefits to workers who are laid off, if we make sure we give benefits to certain companies to make sure they can stay in business and we do not cause certain hardships for them, we will make this a better province. There is no doubt we need much legislation to improve the life of the workers in this province.

There are many businesses that can afford to pay further, through profit sharing or whatever it may be. The Premier (Mr. Davis) said the other night, when I was walking out of the Legislature, “Wait until the people of this province hear what you are going to do to small business.” I said to him, “Please check the Hansard for what was said by our members and your members, because let me tell you, Mr. Premier, we are all interested in seeing that the workers are given a fair deal and that we do not destroy the small businessmen in this area.”

I think that is the Premier’s concern also that this is covered. I would hate to see in the upcoming election certain quotes taken out of context. Not that the Premier would ever do that.

I had a father who worked on the railroad for 38 years. When he died, my mother was left with three kids at home. He had a pension of $62 a month after 38 years on the railroad. I have also had members of my family who have put time in. My mother-in-law worked in a hospital as a dietitian and had about 10 or 11 years’ service. The hospital was taken over by another company and she lost all her seniority; she was given back what she had paid in plus five or six per cent interest.

As a businessman, I also see certain pressures that are put on business, the extra expense that they incur. I think we also have to consider that.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for being able to speak on this. I would also like to congratulate the chairman for the excellent job he has done and the members of the staff who have assisted us in drawing up this report. I thank them very much.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate and am particularly pleased to end in the windup position. I have found it interesting to listen to my colleagues in the other two parties and I want to congratulate them for the work they put into this report. I am very pleased, in listening to the quotes that I heard from the chairman of the committee, that he recognizes just exactly how reasonable this party was in that debate.

We may have moved the three or four substantive sections that went into the report and we may have had some disagreement with our colleagues from the other two parties. But we did not try to take over the world or try to take over everything in Ontario in the interim report or even suggest any such course of action. I am pleased there is some recognition, at least from the chairman of the committee on the Conservative side of the House, that we played a role of total reason in the debate that went on.

I also want to say I have a little difficulty with my colleagues next door.

Mr. Kerrio: You are always going to have difficulties with us.

Mr. Mackenzie: I cannot understand how we get a call from some of them to have a totally impartial point of view and to make sure there is the same input into the situation from labour as there is from business. We are not showing bias on one side or the other on the issue. One of the things that was agreed to, as I understand it, without dissent, was a very clear paragraph in the preliminary observation. It is something that was clear to all of us. The paragraph simply says, “It is equally clear in these cases” -- and we are referring to all the cases that were before us -- “that the unions representing the workers had no influence in terms of the closure decision.” I do not think I will get an argument from anybody on that. “The union’s role was reduced to that of trying to negotiate the best possible settlement after the fact.”

It certainly indicates that they did not have the influence there to begin with. I do not mind showing a bit of bias in this House. I happen to think a lot of things we are talking about are common sense. We have had a heck of a time convincing the other two parties of this fact. If I am going to show a bias, I want it clearly on the record that that bias is going to be a bias towards the workers and their organizations in this province.

Mr. O’Neil: You do not represent all the workers.

Mr. Mackenzie: I have never tried to say I do represent all the workers. I will take my chances in a comparison with either of the other two parties. I simply want to make it clear there are a few significant things in the report.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Mackenzie: The first significant thing in the report is the severance pay recommendation. I am pleased that finally it was a unanimous recommendation of the committee. I will point out that it was moved and supported the first time around. It was reinforced in placing it in the interim report by a larger vote, a unanimous vote. I hope that it did have some influence on the minister’s statement earlier today, which I have only had a chance to read within the last few minutes. I do not share the chairman’s concern that making the statement somehow or other pre-empts some of our work or undermines some of our work, because I think the motion was put and supported on the basis of the need for some immediate interim protection.

I would rather have seen it passed and included in Bill 191 and that bill proceeded with. But certainly I take -- I have to take -- the minister and the government on good faith when they say that as soon as this House comes back again -- and I recognize in the interim they will use it for the best political mileage they can -- but I hope we will see the legislation back in and severance pay retroactive as the committee has recommended, that is, one week’s pay based on every year of service.

However, important as severance pay may be, I am one of those who will say very frankly it is a Band-Aid measure. This does not mean it is not an important measure, but it is not the answer to our problems. It does, however, serve some purpose: it gives the workers some chance in a community to have a few of the bucks they are going to need if they are going to have to try to move or pay rent or wait while they are trying to sell their homes in the community they are living in -- and they may have been devalued considerably, particularly in a one-industry town in northern Ontario. It will give them a little bit of extra cash they are going to need in one of the most troublesome periods of their lives, when there is a major plant closedown.

8:50 p.m.

A lot of the workers spent a lot of years in those plants. This is probably a forlorn hope, but it may have some influence on some companies as to whether they decide to take that final, irrevocable step of a plant closure. It is certainly one of the tools that can be used to give some immediate cash relief to workers and, hopefully, have some influence on a decision to close.

The real question is clear. The real area of concern is clear. I was pleased my colleague the member for Niagara Falls indicated in his statement that we had to accept the fact of the inability of the government to react to plant closures. That was the first time I ever heard him make an admission that the government might have a role in the economy because plant closures are certainly a major part of our economic decisions in this country.

Before I deal with the important sections in the report, I want to say I do not share the concern of the chairman that clichés have become a way of life, that we have to guard against that kind of approach and that we cannot let the frustration some members showed after 10 years make us set in our ways and views. We have to bring some of that frustration and anger to a committee like this and to the final report that comes into this House.

I say that for good reasons. One is that I recall well -- and I do not know whether it was considered a joke in after years by some members of this House -- that two of my colleagues, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) and Ian Deans, who is now in the federal House of Commons, spent a lot of time on the select committee on economic and cultural nationalism. I have taken the trouble to look at some of the reports. Over a period of four years it brought in 21 reports. They were reports that said many of the things we have indicated may be part of the final result of our committee. They indicated there were some real problems in terms of the ownership and control of our resources and industry in this country. They dealt with it in considerable detail. They made recommendations and somehow or other, even in that report, they got the endorsement and support of both Liberal and Tory members.

The frustration is that that report was filed in 1975, after four years of work and 21 reports with recommendations. Almost nothing in that report has been brought forward in legislation or enacted in this Legislature. That is a condemnation of this government and this Legislature. It is because we have not taken action on these problems that we have been led to the sorry state of our economy in Ontario today.

Mr. Kerrio: Let’s bring the rascals down. Come on, get with it.

Mr. Mackenzie: Either side, because you are tarred with the same brush.

I am giving my own view, as well as what actually happened, but the funny thing in that committee is we usually know exactly where the Tories stand on most of these issues. We are surprised and happy when they show a little progressive streak and come along with us on some issues. We rarely know where our Liberal colleagues stand. We can get all-out support on the issue of severance pay. I suggest the members read the Hansard of yesterday end see the member for Niagara Falls trying to backtrack on the severance pay issue. It was rather amazing. The fact is, there is a new right wing in Ontario and it is right over here.

The significant paragraphs in this report, apart from the severance pay issue and the outline -- and I think it is a good outline -- of some of the issues we have to face, are the three paragraphs that come under preliminary observations. I want to go through them carefully because, as far as I am concerned, they set the stage, along with the areas of concern, for the committee’s work over the next five weeks. What do those three paragraphs say? Let me read the first one into the record:

“It is clear from the cases studied by the committee that the decision to close has been a company monopoly. The decision is not only a head office decision but in branch plants one that is made with little input from Canadian management.”

Certainly in six of the seven cases before us, that was obvious.

The second paragraph I dealt with, equally clear in these cases, is that unions representing the workers have no influence in terms of the closure decision. The union’s role was reduced to that of trying to negotiate the best possible settlement after the fact. I cannot get away from one of the things that struck home even to me. It shows some of the problems we have within the union movement. SKF sat down in March with the workers in Sweden and West Germany, and two months later they raised the issue of the closure in Canada, although there had been rumours for a long time. But they discussed with the workers in Europe two months before they said anything to anybody in Canada the fact that they were going to move the bearing operations out of the Canadian plant into either Philadelphia or France.

It is a pretty sad state of affairs in terms of the kind of influence the only other large organization in this country has, other than the political parties and your business community, which is the union movement. It was clear that even in the business community, in the branch plant area, there was no influence on the decisions in this country, the decisions to close. The union had even less influence and was not even asked for its advice or comments and was called in after the fact. In some cases, it was notified by the media that companies were having press conferences to announce closures before they had ever talked to the union. That also came out clearly.

These conclusions clearly indicate questions which must now be addressed by the committee. Should government take a role in the decision-making process prior to plant closures, and should the protection be offered to workers and the communities affected, if the closure must proceed? I think our work is clearly set out in those areas. There is no question we have lost decision-making control in Canada’s major plant closures in the corporate world. We either deal with it or, at our own peril, really become the hewers of wood and drawers of water in North America.

We have also clearly outlined areas of concern. Many of them directly lead in to those three interim conclusions and directions made in that report. We have not broken new ground, and this is sad. What we are doing is saying what was said some five years ago by the select committee on economic and cultural nationalism, maybe in a little more pointed or narrow context.

What I am really challenging the members of this committee, all of the members who sat on this committee and then the House with is this: when we bring the final report in, are we going to follow the obvious directions in the information that we have to date, and are we then going to bring forward recommendations that return a little bit of economic control? I do not like the words “economic nationalism,” but some of it has to reappear in this country. Are we going to bring back a little bit of it to this country, or are we going to say, “We are prepared for ever and a day to be the serfs of the international or multinational corporations”? It is that decision we have to make.

We had better understand that time may not be on our side in this particular issue, because as is clearly indicated in almost every study that has been done of major industrial groupings, whether it is electrical or you name it in this country, the control is going outside the country and we do not have any say. When we do not even have good corporate citizenship in terms of the ability to close plants at will in this country, then we really have the problem and we have to come to grips with it.

I challenge the members of the committee, as I challenge the House, to make sure that when we bring in the final report we are not going to let it sit for five years and then reappoint another committee, but we are going to start to take control of our own house once again in Canada.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the debate was adjourned.

9 p.m.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 214, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Act.

On section 1:

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section 1a:

“Section 16 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor: ‘The Lieutenant Governor in Council may establish or designate an agency to be known as the Central Pension Agency for the purposes, among others, of receiving, holding, investing and disbursing pension benefit credits under this act.’”

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, this amendment regarding the central pension agency is merely a redefinition of the role of this agency. The central purpose for it is that it will provide for a much greater flexibility and portability for the pensions that are referenced in this particular bill. If I could go back for a moment to the comments made by my colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) before the adjournment for the supper hour, it is striving to achieve the beginnings of a strong public role in what is a badly suffering, if not dying, private sector area.

I would if I could go much further by way of amendment to this bill in providing a stronger role for the public and its government in the pension field, but this is the limit to which I believe the --

Mr. Kerrio: Every time you stand up you give us a laugh.

Mr. M. N. Davison: If the members of the Liberal Party can cease their giggling, perhaps I can conclude my comment on this important amendment. The diminutive member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) can perhaps go outside and giggle there.

I think it is the ultimate that can be done in terms of providing some flexibility and portability, and fits in nicely with three other amendments that I plan to place later on in the debate regarding the central pension agency and a real public voice in this field.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 1 agreed to.

On section 2:

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that section 2 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:

“1. Clause a of subsection 1 of section 21 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:

“‘(a) A member of the plan who has been in the service of the employer for a continuous period of five years or has been a member of the plan for such period is entitled upon termination of his employment prior to his attaining retirement age or upon termination of his membership in the plan prior to his attaining retirement age to a deferred life annuity commencing at his normal retirement age equal to the pension benefits except benefits provided by voluntary additional contributions provided in respect of service as an employee in Ontario or in a designated province:

“‘(i) under the terms of the plan in respect of service on or after the qualification date;

“‘(ii) by an amendment to the terms of the plan made on or after the qualification date; or;

“‘(iii) by the creation of a new pension plan on or after the qualification date.’”

Mr. M. N. Davison: Well read, Mr. Chairman, well read.

The Deputy Chairman: I thought I did very well, but I don’t think I could do it again.

Mr. M. N. Davison: If you have convinced the Liberals and Tories with that rendition, I thank you.

The purpose of this amendment goes back to the point I was trying to make during the debate before the supper hour, about the incredible inadequacies of the 45 and 10 rule that the minister wants to continue. I thought it was unfortunate, though typical and not totally unexpected, that the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) stood to speak to the bill before the supper hour, and said of amendments to the bill, sight unseen, that he and his party would oppose them so that we could get through this little crumb for the workers of Ontario this evening.

I guess when a person is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he really does not have to care too much about the average working person in this province; but at least one would think that, even if he does have a silver spoon in his mouth, he would have the decency to hear what the amendment is before deciding to vote against it. I think it is unfortunate that the honourable member and his party have taken such a position, which is only slightly less reprehensible than the government’s own position.

I think it is remarkably unfair that we sit with so many fat cats in this place tonight and debate the question of vesting periods. We are willing to accept that the fat cats of the province, from the Liberal and Conservative parties, are willing to give the workers of this province a 45 and 10 rule, when these same fat cats have a five-year rule; there is a five-year rule for members of this Legislature.

9:10 p.m.

It does not matter what one’s age is when one is a member here; five years in this place, and one’s pension rights are vested. But under the system the Liberals and the Tories want to continue for the ordinary working people of Ontario, a worker can be 44 years old, have slugged his guts out in the basic steel industry or in any other plant in this province for 20 years, and not have a vested pension.

I think it is reprehensible that members of this assembly would sit here with their smugness and condemn workers to the 45 and 10 rule, when they accept gladly for themselves a five-year rule. I would ask that members in both the Conservative and Liberal parties, before they vote against this long-overdue change to the 45 and 10 rule, consider their own situation.

I think it is quite improper for members of this House to have for themselves -- What is that, Remo?

Mr. Mancini: Your taste is pretty expensive yourself, when things are free.

Mr. M. N. Davison: What on earth does that have to do with the pension rights of the people of Ontario? I hope the fat-trap from Essex South will take an opportunity to involve himself in this particular debate, and explain to the workers of Ontario why he thinks his personal pension should be vested after five years but their pensions should not be vested until they are 45 years old and have worked for a minimum of 10 years. I am sure the workers of Essex South would like to know why he supports this double standard in the province.

Finally, this is in fact a Band-Aid bill. This is in fact half measure. This is, on my part, just a small attempt to add one more Band-Aid before the haemorrhage becomes so severe that it causes a fatality. I think it is the minimum we can do as members to help out people who are having their pensions eroded through layoffs and shutdowns and the severe economic conditions in our province. It would be a nice little Christmas present that we, in our magnanimity, could give to the workers of Ontario before we go back to our families for the Christmas holiday.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Chairman, I was surprised that nobody from the Liberal Party got up to speak on this eminently sensible amendment.

Mr. Roy: If you keep it up I think I could be provoked.

Mr. McClellan: Oh, I hope so. I hope so, Albert. What we are dealing with here is one of the major measures for artificial resuscitation of the private insurance sector.

I would have thought that my friends in the Liberal Party would have wanted to join with their friends in the Conservative Party to take advantage of this proposal we have put before them, like dogs before raw meat. I would have thought they would have wanted to take advantage of this proposal, which is so obviously designed to assist the private insurance sector in surviving what will probably be, at any rate, an inevitable demise.

Nevertheless, if they are not at the very least prepared to deal with the stupidities of the current vesting provision -- those members who are apostles of the private insurance sector, those who believe that the private insurance industry is the salvation of retired Canadians -- if they are not even willing to change the imbecility of the current vesting provisions, how on earth can we take them seriously when they come forward with the measures of artificial respiration?


The Deputy Chairman: I think I discovered it in time.

Mr. McClellan: I am sorry. Mr. Chairman?

The Deputy Chairman: I am sorry. There was some question about the mace being on top of the table when it should have been on the underside of the table. But I don’t think anybody noticed it, so it will not interfere with the validity of anything anybody was saying.

Mr. McClellan: I hope not. I hope everybody will stay upright for the rest of the evening. I certainly intend to.

That is really all I wanted to say. I would like to hear the minister, though. I would really like to hear him. I want to know what the position of the Liberal Party is on vesting provisions. They talk a good line. There is my friend the member for Niagara Falls, who is certainly the most notorious friend of the workers anywhere in this province. I use the word advisedly. I am sure he would want to get up and say the private insurance sector has to be protected from itself through legislative provisions that will bring it somewhere close to the second half of the twentieth century.

I am particularly interested in knowing what the minister intends to do on the vesting issue. How long has he had his portfolio? Is it two and a half, going on three years? What has he done on one of the major responsibilities he is charged with -- the supervision of, administration of and responsibility for pension legislation in this province? Nothing; absolutely nothing. Not a damned thing.

He comes here on the eve of Christmas with Bill 214. What a sweetheart he is. What a bona fide Santa Claus he is. When he brings in his act to amend the Pension Benefits Act he does not even deal with one of the most longstanding problems in the pension field, the problem of vesting and portability. He does not even touch it. He does not come close to it.

We have an amendment that will perhaps help him. If he does not like five years, he should tell us what he likes. He should tell us what makes sense. There are any number -- and I mean this quite seriously -- of proposals that can be put forward to provide an equitable vesting system. It does not necessarily have to be five years. That is not a figure pulled out of the hat. That happens to be our figure and the figure this Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, and benevolence, has bestowed upon itself. If the members do not think five years is the best figure, perhaps they can come up with something better or different. At least they can come up with something. Surely the government and my colleagues in the Liberal Party are not going to remain silent on such a pressing issue.

Mr. Martel: Oh yes, they are.

Mr. McClellan: Oh, am I led to believe that the members of the Liberal Party are going to keep their little mouths shut during this debate and swallow and gag on their silver spoons and say absolutely nothing on such an important issue? I simply cannot believe that could be true.

I am particularly interested in the views of the minister who has remained sphinx-like in silence.

Mr. Martel: That is something new for that fellow.

Mr. McClellan: Yes. This is a minister who prefers conflagration rather than to keep his light under a bushel. I am going to insist we have a statement from the minister on the issue of vesting. If nothing else is accomplished in this debate, we can at least learn from the minister what his views are on this most important issue.

The Deputy Chairman: Do any other members wish to speak on this proposed question?

Mr. McClellan: I asked the minister a question and I would like an answer from him with respect to his views on this important issue. I find it impossible to contemplate that the minister would sit there and refuse to answer the question.

The Deputy Chairman: I would remind you this is second reading of the bill. The minister may or may not reply. I gather he chooses not to reply, so I will put the motion.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Martel: This is a night to behold. This is an opportunity such as you could not ask for to help the people, given the position that we find ourselves in at this time in history in Ontario. And my friends sit there like the sphinx, silent, saying nary a word except for the odd interjection, like the guru of grunts, but nothing substantial.

They are not going to get up and say where they stand. No. We found out about a week ago where they stood on severance pay. My friend the member for Niagara Falls was trying to have it both ways yesterday -- for and against it. Here we are now where we have an opportunity, in fact, to improve the vesting, to reduce the time factor, and what do they do? They do not do even so much as to get up and indicate their positions. Silence is golden, is it not?

Mr. Eakins: Make him address the chair.

Mr. Martel: I was addressing the chair, but my friend back there could not hear me.

Mr. Chairman, can you imagine? Nary a word. We talked about it. There were ministerial statements. There were demands by the Liberals, all kinds; the Liberal leader demanded pension reform. And here we have an opportunity tonight to improve that section with respect to vesting, and there is not so much as a word, not a word, just a few grunts.

Mr. Nixon: A point of order, Mr. Chairman: I do not intend to mislead the House or the Chairman because our position on these matters was well and amply put by my colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) and others. He made abundantly clear the situation that we are facing tonight, in which the recently converted NDP is coming forward with a spate of amendments which have already been fully discussed and which are going to be enacted in the spring.


Mr. Nixon: On a point of order: The Leader of the New Democratic Party has made it clear that he wants to sunset his provisions.

Mr. Martel: The irony of the situation is that they had made up their minds without even having seen the amendments. They made up their minds that they would say to Frank, “Move over, I want in.” That is what they did. Frank has moved over and they have crawled in.

Mr. Roy: On a point of order: I have just been insulted.

The Deputy Chairman: I have not made up my mind on the other point of order yet.

Mr. Roy: About that last statement, “Move over, we are coming in”: two is enough in that bed, we do not want in there.

The Deputy Chairman: You are just objecting to the order of entry. Order, the member for Sudbury East has the floor.

Mr. Martel: Could you tell me, Mr. Chairman, since you are an honourable man, who they had as a soothsayer this afternoon, and who, in fact, indicated to them what was in the list of amendments? They did not even know what was in them.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Chairman, the House leader of the NDP was not in here this afternoon. His own member was terribly tardy about getting over his amendments. The member for Kitchener was given a set of amendments by me prior to the conclusion of the debate on second reading. He was handed the documents long before the member for London Centre made his remarks on second reading.

Mr. Martel: The irony of it. My friend sits over there and makes a statement. The only utterance out of the minister is to defend his friends.

Mr. Breithaupt: If that is the way you want to have it, I suppose I should rise and say --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: No, I don’t really want it this way, but --

Mr. Breithaupt: On a point of order --

Mr. Martel: There is nothing out of order.

Mr. Breithaupt: Well, there is something out of order, because --

The Deputy Chairman: Before I rule I want to hear the honourable member.

Mr. Breithaupt: The House leader for the New Democratic Party said we did not see the amendments before any decision was made with respect to supporting them or otherwise. I was favoured with a copy of the amendments by the minister and, having reviewed them, saw that as far as I was concerned the principle of this bill was to deal with two particular items. Therefore, we may as well get it right, clear, plump and plain right now: we will not be supporting any of the amendments and there seems no reason for us to speak to it other than to say just that.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I want to bring to your attention rule 58: “Amendments proposed to be moved to bills in any committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the House at least two hours before the bill is to be considered, and copies of such proposed amendments shall be distributed to all parties.”

We had to get ours from the minister. We did not even get them from the NDP. It is just preposterous. These obviously came off the top of your head or off the seat of your pants.

The Deputy Chairman: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is quite right. In fact, part of the reason for ruling out an amendment from the NDP was that the chair did not have it in advance. But that was only part of the reason.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Chairman, our amendments were delivered at the appropriate time. The minister shakes his head.

The Deputy Chairman: I might point out that the chair has only one amendment.

Mr. Martel: There is usually a manoeuvre. We give them to a gentleman -- I will not name him, but it is Jim MacKenzie. He usually gets these and delivers them. My executive assistant is sitting under the gallery and she, in fact, delivered those amendments. Be that as it may, I do not want this to be a red herring.

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. MacKenzie is not an agent of the chair.

Mr. Martel: Let us get back to where we were before we had 12 points of order and seven points of privilege.

The Deputy Chairman: I’d appreciate that.

Mr. Mancini: How are you going to vote tomorrow? That is the important question.

Mr. Martel: You might be surprised. You will be over the back railing tomorrow.

Let us get back to the bill and the amendment before us, which is to improve the vesting system for people in Ontario.

The Liberals are exactly the same as the Tories. It is interesting that as we sat in committee talking about this, the impression the Liberals left with the workers about how sincere they are about their concerns and the crocodile tears that flowed from some of those beggars as they talked to people who have $81 pension after 12.5 years. Here we have an opportunity to improve it, to give a guarantee, and where are the Liberals? As usual, when it comes to supporting workers, they are found wanting. Here is an excellent opportunity.

We will go back to committee in several weeks, people will come forward again, and the crocodile tears will flow again, but when it comes time to vote, when the chips are down --


The Deputy Chairman: The member for Sudbury East will please ignore the many interjections and proceed with the substance of the proposed amendment.

Mr. Martel: I am trying to deal with that particular amendment and the opportunity my friends have said they wanted all along to help the workers of Ontario, and here they are.

Was it not the Leader of the Opposition who some time ago screamed that we had to protect the workers and improve their pensions? When the chips are down and we have the opportunity, because we have the numbers, to improve the pension scheme, those beggars decide to bow out again. They bow out every last time. How does the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations get these fellows on his side?

9:30 p.m.

Mr. Roy: Tomorrow we throw them out, okay, Elie?

Mr. Martel: But before we do though, let’s improve the pension. We will improve the pension tonight and turf them out tomorrow. When the chips are down.

Mr. Roy: Move over, we are coming in.

Mr. Martel: I have taken enough time, but I did succeed in doing a couple of things. I got my friend from Kitchener to get up and say that they are not supporting the workers. The minister got up and said, “I help my friends further to the right than us and between the two of us we will change virtually nothing.” Well, we will argue the next seven or eight amendments.

Mr. Kerrio: Hey, Elie.

The Deputy Chairman: Will the member for Sudbury East pay attention to the chair? Ignore those people on your right.

Mr. Kerrio: I didn’t say a thing.

Mr. Martel: Did you see that, Mr. Chairman?

The Deputy Chairman: I know you are greatly harassed.

Mr. Martel: I think there was something almost perverse about what he did.

Mr. Kerrio: You are right.

Mr. Martel: I think you should make him withdraw whatever it was. Mr. Chairman, with those few words, I want to say, they sold the workers out again.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Chairman, I am amazed -- because I think we are discussing a very serious issue for the workers of Ontario and I think the amendment is a very serious one for many workers -- that some in this House are treating the issue with such levity. I think it is scandalous.

Mr. Kerrio: Tell Elie that.

Mr. Di Santo: I would like to tell the member for Niagara Falls that we have been faced with this situation time and time again. I remember in June we were discussing the situation at Firestone, where we had workers who had been there for 35 years and the plant shut down and they lost all their rights. I remember at that time that the members of the Liberal Party at the resources development committee voted against the motion introduced by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).

I also remember how much the Leader of the Opposition spoke early in the session about portability of pensions and how he was going to fight against the government. Tonight we have an occasion for them to prove that what they were saying was serious. They are not only going to move against the amendment, but they are not even speaking because they do not even have the moral fortitude to express their opinions.

I am quite sure that when we reconvene in the spring, the Leader of the Opposition will again stand against the government because he would be the champion of the workers, but tonight, when they have the opportunity to prove they can stand for the workers, they are voting with the Tories.

I think if the workers of Ontario were listening to this debate they would be really shocked, because they would not understand why the Legislature of Ontario cannot move such a small step towards what most of the civilized countries in the world have. I think that vesting the pension rights after five years is not a great step. In fact, there are nations in the western world, in industrial democracies, where their pension interests are vested immediately and are portable immediately. I think those countries are much more advanced than Canada and their social legislation is a model that we should imitate. I think it is shameful --

Mr. Kerrio: Don’t give me that routine.

Mr. Chairman: Order. Order.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Chairman, I still remember with great delight the speech made two years ago by the member for Niagara Falls against the injured workers. I remember that time and again when we were discussing the amendment last summer, his only preoccupation --

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Chairman, on a matter of personal privilege: I have never spoken against the injured workers of Ontario. That member has taken that out of context more than once. I stood in my place here and suggested I would support the injured workers right across this province and that I thought the sharing of the payments should have been more equitable. I made it very plain. He has not done this once, he has done it two or three times and it takes away from any credibility he might ever have. I wonder about that.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Chairman, I remember vividly the speech the member for Niagara Falls made.

Mr. Kerrio: Bring out Hansard then and speak to the issue.

Mr. Chairman: Will the honourable member speak to the amendment?

Mr. Di Santo: Yes, because there is a parallel, Mr. Chairman --

Mr. M. N. Davison: He is just explaining how the member for Niagara Falls attacked all kinds of workers --

Mr. Chairman: Order, the member for Downsview has the floor.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Chairman, I am referring to the speech he made against increasing the benefits of the injured workers, because there is a parallel with the amendment we are discussing tonight.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Chairman, let the honourable member bring out Hansard. I have never said they should not increase the pension; I said costs should be distributed. I am for giving the pension, so the member should get his facts straight and not stand up in the House and tell untruths.

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Mr. Kerrio: Let him bring out Hansard; he said it.

Mr. Chairman: Order. The honourable member has accused another member of speaking untruthfully.

Mr. Kerrio: Yes, I did. I suggest to him that he made a statement and he should bring Hansard to prove it.

Mr. Chairman: Order. The honourable member has accused another member. Would you withdraw that?

Mr. Kerrie: Yes, I will, if he will bring Hansard to prove the point. He said an untruth about what I said.

Mr. Chairman: Order. Will the honourable member unequivocally withdraw that comment?

Mr. Kerrio: Yes. And would you ask that member to bring Hansard to prove what he said about me? That is a good deal.

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Mr. Kerrio: The honourable member should get on with the bill and mind his business and not pick on other members.

Mr. Chairman: Order. The honourable member has withdrawn?

Mr. Kerrio: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman: Order. All right, the member for Downsview, on the amendment.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Chairman, I think this is only a reasonable amendment. I think it is only one step towards a public system of public pensions. I would like to invite our friends in the Liberal caucus to speak on this amendment, and also the member for Niagara Falls who, I understand, deep in his heart is a nice guy. He should try to understand this is nothing revolutionary. The workers he had working for him for so many years would love this amendment.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 2 agreed to.

Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.

9:40 p.m.

On section 5:

Mr. Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that subsection 1 of section 23d of the act, as set out in section 5 of the bill, be amended by deleting, “10 years or has been a member of the plan for a period of 10 years and who has attained the age of 45 years” in the fourth, fifth and sixth lines and inserting in lieu thereof, “five years or has been a member of the plan for a period of five years.”

He further moves that subsection 1 of section 23d of the act be amended by adding thereto the following clause, “(f) to transfer the amount of his pension benefit credit to the central pension agency.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: I will be brief, Mr. Chairman. I do not mean to provoke the Liberals further on this issue.

Mr. Mancini: You can go to Florida right after Christmas instead of the campaign trail.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Mancini, I have been persuaded. I have been persuaded to provoke my colleagues in the Liberal Party.

The first part of this amendment gives one more opportunity to the Tory and Liberal fat cats and the silver spoon brigade to stand --

Mr. Mancini: You ordered a $40 bottle of wine. We know what you are like -- $40 a bottle.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Does the little fellow have a point of order? Do you have a point of order, little man?

Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Hamilton Centre has the floor.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Charles Dickens, if he were alive and in some gathering other than a parliament, might have called these folks gutless Pecksniffians. It gives them a chance to vote once again against the interest of the workers and once again to deny to the workers the vesting benefits they themselves have as members of the Legislative Assembly. I would like once more to see them go through this little act.

The second part of the amendment I have offered refers back to the greater role I and my party would like to see for the central pension agency, thereby allowing greater flexibility and portability. The section of the bill that it amends sets out a number of options for the employee upon termination or winding up of the particular firm. This adds what I think is the best possible amendment to deal with the obvious inadequacies of the bill, by providing the central pension agency as another alternative for workers when their jobs are terminated by way of shutdown or when the business of the company is wound up.

I recommend both amendments, if only other members of the assembly can find it in their hearts to vote for the workers.

Mr. McClellan: In face of the miraculous silence that again descends upon us -- and I won’t even bother with my Liberal colleagues -- let me ask the minister again: Does the minister have any position at all on the question of vesting? If the government is not prepared, as it obviously is not, to accept the proposal put forward here tonight, will the government at least do us the courtesy of responding to the issue which, despite some of the levity of the debate, is an important issue that has to do with the very guts of the private pension system in this country and in this province? I am amazed the minister continues to sit there and say nothing at all on the issue of vesting.

Is the minister going to continue for the rest of the evening to sit there chewing on his glasses, or will he do us the courtesy of stating what his views are on the issue of vesting, and when we can expect to see legislation brought forward by the government to deal with this?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I made a number of remarks this afternoon on second reading. If the member was here, I hope he heard them. If he was not here, he can read them in Hansard.

I would say one thing to the member of the New Democratic Party, and it is the last thing I am going to say tonight: I have not seen a private bill from that collection over there on this matter, and they had every opportunity to do it. Their sudden conversion to all of this is really remarkable.

Mr. McClellan: If the minister has not seen our bills on the Order Paper, that is his problem. Perhaps it would be more helpful if he left his glasses on than if he took them off and chewed on them. He has only to look at the bills that have been submitted by my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). They are on the Order Paper. He has only to look at the resolutions that have been submitted by this party dealing with precisely this issue. We have told him through the positions we have put forward. And I am telling the minister that they are there. If he wants to look at them and read them. I cannot help it if his eminently qualified staff has not brought them to his attention.

I do not think the minister has any views on the issue at all. I do not think he has addressed himself to pension issues at all over the course of the last two and a half years, or however long it is that he has occupied his portfolio. I do not think he has the slightest capacity to deal with the very pressing pension issues that are facing this province and this country. I think that is why he sits there chewing on his glasses, hoping we will simply pass through this inadequate piece of legislation without his having to address himself to any of the questions that are being raised in the course of this debate.

While I am on my feet, I think it is absolutely pathetic that the members of the Liberal Party continue to howl and yell, but say nothing at all on this very important issue.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment to section 5 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that the bill be amended by striking out subsection 3 of section 23d of the act, as set out in section 5 of the bill, and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

“(3) Where the employee is entitled to a pension benefit under clause (a), (b) or (c) of subsection 1 and the pension plan does not provide an automatic survivor benefit, the plan shall be deemed to contain a provision for the employee’s pension benefits to be actuarially adjusted to the guarantee for the life of the spouse of the employee, 50 per cent of the deceased employee’s adjusted pension benefit.

“(4) Notwithstanding subsection 3, subject to any conditions prescribed in the regulations, a pension plan may provide for a retiring employee to receive a pension benefit that does not continue to be paid for the lifetime of the surviving spouse where the employer receives a written waiver that is (a) signed by the spouse of the retiring employee in the presence of a witness and apart from that employee, and (b) contains a statement to the effect that the spouse of the retiring employee is aware of the right to a pension benefit upon the death of the retiring employee and intends to waive the right.

“Also, that subsections 4, 5 and 6 be renumbered 5, 6 and 7.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: The effect of this amendment will be to provide for an automatic survivor benefit, something that we do not have, and a benefit that only the spouse can reject by way of waiver. I think this is immensely more progressive. In fact, I would say it is light years ahead of the current provisions. I think it is about time that we started, in our other legislation, to live up to what we passed in this province some time ago as the family law reforms.

9:50 p.m.

It is time we realized that spouses, and most specifically women in these cases, are not chattels. I watched with amazement as the Liberals and Tories entertained themselves with a hit of pre-Christmas worker bashing just a few minutes ago. Perhaps this will give them the chance to attack another group in our society, namely women. It may be that by the end of the night the votes of the Liberals and Conservatives will have placed them on the attack against almost every single group in the province. I would not be surprised.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment to section 5 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that section 23d of the act as set out in section 5 of the bill, be amended by deleting all words after “and” in the fourth line and substituting in lieu therefor, “if no election is made, the employee shall be deemed to have made an election under clause (f) of subsection 1.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: I think this is an important element that we have to recognize in our pension legislation and that it is not the employer who should make the election in the number of cases where one does not occur. I understand that is a reasonably small number of cases, but it seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong about that relationship and it is the employee who should have, in these cases, the right over his or her pension plan, not the employer. I think that is an important principle that I would like to see the government adopt.

They seem quite concerned unfortunately and they have some hesitation about the element of a central pension agency. If that disturbs them greatly they could, even for the purposes of this election process, consider the pension commission as the option. It does not matter to me a great deal, but I think it is important that we recognize the principle that in these cases it is not the employer who should have the final say when there is no employee election and, in fact, there should be something such as a central agency to which the pension is sent.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment to section 5 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay”.

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.

On section 7:

Mr. M. N. Davison: So that it can be once again on the record, Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a motion.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that clause (a) of section 25c(1) of the act, as set out in section 7 of the bill, be deleted and the following substituted therefor: “(a) All pension benefits that must be contractually provided under clause (a) of subsection 1 of section 21 provided in respect of service in Ontario of an employee who, at the date of wind up of the plan, has been in the service of his employer for a continuous period of five years or has been a member of the plan for a period of five years.”

Mr. M. N. Davison further moves that clause (c) of section 25c(1) of the act as set out in section 7 of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor: “(c) All pension benefits that must be contractually provided under clause (a) of subsection 1 of section 21 provided in respect of service in Ontario of a former member of the plan who, at the date of termination of his employment, has been in the service of his employer for a continuous period of five years or who has been a member of the plan for a period of five years.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: I would hope that in the five minutes since I last moved this kind of amendment, the Liberals and Tories have finally come to their senses and will side with the workers at least once this evening.

Mr. McClellan: I have been sitting here trying to figure out why my Liberal colleagues are refusing to speak on the issue of vesting. The only thing I can conclude by looking at the Order Paper is that the next bill is An Act to amend the Wine Content Act and they are so eager to discuss that very important bill they are unwilling to --

Mr. Haggerty: There are 5,000 jobs on the line.

Mr. Kerrio: I have seen what socialism has done in Italy and England and I would not support you rascals across the street.

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Mr. McClellan: The pronouncements of the anti-worker member for Niagara Falls on workmen’s compensation issues are notorious all across the province. My colleague the member for Downsview and I will be at a meeting on Sunday in which we will be reminding the workers in this great city of Metropolitan Toronto just exactly what the member for Niagara Falls is so fond of saying with respect to workmen’s compensation issues --

Mr. Bradley: We will see who the coalition is tomorrow.

Mr. Wildman: Why should we support you when you will not support us?

Mr. Chairman: On the amendment, order.

Mr. McClellan: Let me ask the minister one more time: Very specifically, when does the government intend to address itself to the issue of vesting in private sector pensions?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I do not know where the member was this afternoon but on at least three occasions I said after the receipt and the study of the Haley commission report, which has gone into this at quite extensive length.

Mr. McClellan: We are all aware of the number of postponements and delays with respect to the royal commission on pensions. We talked about that earlier in the second reading debate. I am sorry the minister is so upset that I was unable to be here when he made his statement. Please accept my humble and profuse apologies. But I would like to know from the minister when he expects the report of the royal commission on pensions to be received by the government and when he expects it to be tabled in the Legislature?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Chairman, again, I went through that this afternoon. Surely everybody in here knows the answer I volunteered. I am informed that the report will be public soon. It is not under my auspices. It is under the auspices of my colleague the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). I cannot get that through your head.

Mr. McClellan: The reason the minister has been unable to get things through my head is that we have been dealing with --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is a rock.

Mr. McClellan: It may be a rock, but we have been dealing with this for more than an hour and a half and the minister has not answered a single question. That makes it very difficult to penetrate even my rock-like head.

Mr. Kerrio: You are trying to get us to support your amendment. We do not have to talk about it.

Mr. McClellan: I am not trying to convince you to support anything -- if it has to do with the protection of workers.

Mr. Kerrio: You are wasting your time.

Mr. Wildman: No question about that, Vince.

Mr. McClellan: I am trying to engage in a discussion with the minister who has responsibility for pensions and who is stonewalling on every question that is put to him in the course of this debate. Let me ask once again: Does the government intend that there will be any structure set up to permit the members of the Legislature to participate in a formal way in the discussion on the recommendations of the royal commission on pensions?

Mr. M. N. Davison: The silence is deafening.

Mr. McClellan: What does that mean? It is hard to put this into words. When the minister took his left hand and extended it at an angle of about 45 degrees in response to the question, I assume that is the only answer he intends to give. I am not surprised. This is the minister who made promises about the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada home warranty program which he failed to keep. The minister is completely incapable of fulfilling promises that he made to me and to a number of people who had been ripped off. His performance in this ministry is consistent. It is one of incompetence and arrogance and he has completed that performance par excellence here tonight.

10 p.m.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment to section 7 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. McClellan: On the subject of the pension benefits guarantee fund, perhaps the minister could make a short statement on how the fund will be financed.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I thought that was abundantly well known. We discussed that in committee.

Mr. McClellan: We are in committee now for the first time.

Hon. Mr. Drea: That is nonsense. I was before the select committee on plant shutdowns many weeks ago on this matter. Where was the honourable member?

Mr. McClellan: On a point of order, I am not on that committee. I am a member of this Legislature and committee of the whole House and I expect --

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Chairman, it is abundantly well known that it will be financed by employers on a fee-per-employee basis when their pension fund has unfunded liability. Pension plans that have no funded liability will not be assessed for the guarantee fund.

Mr. McClellan: I am intrigued by the model pension insurance scheme the government is proposing. Those private sector insurers who have a good reputation and who are financially solvent will be required to pay for those who are not.

Hon. Mr. Drea: No. It has nothing to do with reputation or anything else. If the pension plan has no funded liability, then you do not have to contribute to this fund. If you have funded liability, you pay and it will probably be $3 per year per employee until you get funded.

Mr. McClellan: Will the minister advise us what proportion of private insurance plans have unfunded liability? I assume you meant unfunded, though you said funded.

Hon. Mr. Drea: There are 1.75 million people in this province who are covered by pension plans. The industrial ones which cover 350,000 of those people are the ones that --


Hon. Mr. Drea: A third of them. It is very difficult. If you look at the number of employees, you would be talking of about 120,000 of the 1.75 million. I am talking about numbers of employees, not plans.

It is very ironic -- and perhaps those members on the other side of the House can shed some light on it -- that the industries which are not in difficulties have pension plans that could pay out full benefits if they terminated tomorrow. There may be an historical reason for that. But the bulk of the manufacturing industry, where there has been collective bargaining and negotiated pension increases, has very substantial funding liability. They are the ones that tend to close.

Mr. McClellan: Do the ministry officials have any estimate of the amount that would be required at the level at which the pension benefit guarantee fund will be established in dollar terms?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Not really; we will develop that over the winter time. There are some standards we have to look at. We are providing guarantees on pensions where there is an unfunded liability of up to $1,000 a month.

Mr. Di Santo: And? Go ahead.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Pardon? You are looking at me.

Mr. M. N. Davison: What do you want him to do, look at the gallery?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I said we have not got an estimate on the dollar cap, but in the bill there is the provision that the fund will guarantee up to $1,000 a month in terms of the individual. That is an earned pension, obviously. Until the fund is fully established there is a Treasurer’s guarantee, not from the date of passage, but from the date of introduction. Mind you, in hindsight --


Hon. Mr. Drea: No, yesterday was not the date of introduction. We made that from the date of introduction last Thursday, so if anything happened even before this bill was passed the guarantee fund would cover it. We will work out the actual amounts of the guarantee fund. They are not terribly significant because the consolidated revenue fund for at least two or three years is virtually on the hook for 100 per cent of what is paid out and which will have to be paid back to the Treasurer by that guarantee fund, if it ever has to be used.

There might well be a plant closing or a termination where there is a fully funded fund and, therefore, this would not be used.

Mr. McClellan: Have the minister’s actuarial officials estimated how long it will take? If he said that, I did not quite understand and I am trying to get a clarification. How long will it take for the pension benefits guarantee fund to be at the level that is felt to be required? Is it estimated that there will be moneys provided to the fund out of the consolidated revenue fund in the form of loans? Have the minister’s officials estimated how large these amounts of money might be?

Hon. Mr. Drea: We have said there is a Treasurer’s guarantee until the fund is in a position to pay. The Treasurer will not do that as a loan. It will be a direct payout. I suppose it would be an interest-free loan, if one wants to call it that. The fund has to pay the Treasurer back.

There might be a case where only $100,000 or $125,000 would have to be paid out to bring everybody covered up to the formula. There might be another case where several times that amount might be required. Part of the difficulty in the initial part is that we do not exactly have a drawing board that says plant A with so many employees which is underfunded by this amount is about to close. The goal is to be entirely self-supporting within five years.

Bear in mind it is somewhat academic to the people covered as to when that becomes self-sustaining. They will get their benefits and, if the fund has had to make major payouts in five years and takes another three years of contributions to repay the Treasurer, so be it. By the same token, when one looks at the bill, one notices that an employer who terminates does not get off the hook. Before an employer disposes of assets or whatever, there is a permanent lien on those assets until that fund and his other pension liabilities are fully met.

I think the members would agree with me that it would be most beneficial if, rather than paying money into this, every employer had his pension fund funded properly with no unfunded liability. If anything happened, it would be out of the regular, normal payout of a pension plan that has enough funds to cover its liabilities at the time of termination.

10:10 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that subsection 8 of section 25c of the act, as set out in section 7 of the bill, be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

“(3) The payment of any increase to a pension benefit, which increase became effective within one year before the date of termination or windup, is not guaranteed by the fund.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, this is another one of the legion of inadequacies in the minister’s Band-Aid bill. What he has effectively done is to say to someone who got his pension, no matter how hard it was to do that in that plant, if the victory for the workers in the plant occurred within three years of a shutdown or a termination, “You are out of luck, baby; you are not going to be covered.”

The amendment I have presented says to that, there is no three-year exemption on a plan. In regard to benefits that are by way of increase, it sets a limit of one year rather than three years. I do not see why the Legislative Assembly should punish workers who have gone through tough and difficult strikes, and quite frequently contract strikes, to get a pension benefit.

I noticed that, in the minister’s speech earlier this afternoon, he made some kind of reference, which I did not catch properly, about the implication that there was some possibility of sweetheart conspiracies. Did he mean conspiracies between working people and their trade unions on the one hand and companies on the other hand, so that if we don’t put in this three-year requirement, the minister has the gall to suggest that honest, hard-working people are going to enter into some sort of conspiracy with the company through their unions to shut the company down? That is absolutely absurd, and I think the minister would do well to clarify his remarks, because I am sure he did not mean to put such a position as that when he spoke earlier today.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Chairman, certainly the workers would not be part of it, because they would be the ones being ripped off. It is not unknown for people who are negotiating to get into a little situation with management, knowing full well management is going to close, to put in some additional benefits, to keep the cash flow intact that might ordinarily have gone to wages and then, a few months down the line, to say, “Sorry, terminated and gone.” It has been known to occur.

The three-year term is put in there. There was some suggestion that it should be five, and we moved down to three. With the disclosure section, when an employee is told, “Here is your new pension benefit; think how well advised you are to work for this company and get this magnificent pension benefit,” the employee knows full well that it is not guaranteed for another three years. Therefore, the employee will start to ask, “And how are you funding?” The faster the employees or the pension beneficiaries of this province start asking the big question, “What is my pension, where is the money and what happens if this company does not continue in business?” then the better off we will be.

It is very disillusioning to see the utter bewilderment in plant closings when nobody knows what the state of the pension plan is. The only time they find out is when Mr. Bentley and the pension commission go in and try to unravel it. That is not a role the government should be playing. There is no question, if we can be of assistance to the people, that is a function of the commission. But it is not its function to begin explaining why they do not have all the things that it was conveyed to them they would have. That is a standard pattern in virtually every closing or termination in this province.

Mr. M. N. Davison: As I understand it, the honourable minister has become a convert to the Sidney Handleman school of consumer protection, which in this case means leaving it up to the employees to protect themselves. I think that is incredibly inadequate.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I took that suggestion from the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), and before my friend hotdogs it, maybe he should read the remarks the member for London Centre made a couple of years ago about the need for disclosure. I know that disclosure may embarrass my friend; I know that.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I do not need lessons from the minister or from the member for London Centre on how to hold a silver spoon. I know whereabouts in this House they are properly placed. I think it is frankly incredible that the minister’s idea of protection for workers is to let them look after themselves for the first three years.

I hope the minister will further clarify his remarks about alleged sweetheart deals, because it takes two to enter into a conspiracy; it takes two to make a sweetheart deal. He has clearly said that on the one side it is the company and that on the other side it was not the workers. Who is on the other side? To whom is the minister referring in these sweetheart deals? Who is it?

Hon. Mr. Drea: My friend heard me when I replied. He should cut out trying to be cute.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I do not know who it is. Please answer my question.

The Deputy Chairman: The minister has referred you to Hansard. He has no necessity to answer the question any further.

Mr. M. N. Davison: If the minister is alleging that workers and their trade unions would conspire to see plants closed in the province, and that is what our problem is and that is how our plants are shutting down, that is a crock. I ask him to be specific about who it is entering into these sweetheart deals with the employers.

Hon. Mr. Drea: There are a great number of people who negotiate for employees. They are not necessarily at all times unions. There are a number of consultants et cetera. Not every place of employment has a labour organization. My friend knows that.

What concerns me very profoundly is the continuing negotiation when it is known that a company is in serious financial trouble, where first of all the pension plan is raised and the unfunded liability just goes soaring, and the people are told that while hourly pay or something else cannot be increased, “Look at the great pension benefits you are getting,” and those people take that on faith.

With the disclosure and the fact that if a pension plant is actuarially not funded or is a funded liability, the individual whose pension it is -- and this seems to be lost on the honourable member -- now can start asking questions and can start to figure out exactly what benefits he or she has coming, particularly in a plant, office or store known to have financial difficulty.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I am not going to continue this dialogue endlessly, but it is patently clear the minister learned absolutely not one whit about working people and their organizations when he spent some long time involved with them. It is unfortunate.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Davison’s proposed amendment to section 7 will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Sections 7 and 8 agreed to.

10:20 p.m.

On section 9:

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. M. N. Davison moves that clause ab of subsection 1 of section 28 of the act, as set out in section 9 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following clause: “(xvi) respecting the composition, administration and financing of the central pension agency.”

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, this is the final, necessary permission by way of regulations for the establishment of a new public role for the central pension agency. No doubt it will go down in flames in about two minutes, like the rest of my amendments.

I would just say in conclusion that it is incredibly unfortunate that the Liberals and Conservatives have combined this evening to block significant legislative change that would have assisted the workers of this province --

The Deputy Chairman: Order. I would ask the member first to explain the relevancy of this, because I do not believe there is any central pension agency already established.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I’m sorry?

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Have we established --

Mr. M. N. Davison: There already is in the province a central pension agency, Mr. Chairman. All this does is vary its role and responsibility.

It is unfortunate that the Tories and Liberals have taken this opportunity once again to stand against the workers of the province, the women of the province, and workers who have won pension benefits in their contracts, and to display for all of the world to see, as the session closes, the supreme arrogance of the Liberal and Conservative parties.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Davison’s amendment to section 9 will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Sections 9 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.

Bill 2214 reported.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendments.


Hon. Mr. Drea moved second reading of Bill 215, An Act to amend the Wine Content Act, 1976.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

Mr. Speaker: The minister’s privileges have been defiled. What is it?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: On the passage of second reading, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I would like to thank the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall) and the House leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who is always interested In improvements to grapes and the agricultural economy, as well as my colleague the member for Brock (Mr. Welch).


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

Motion agreed to.

Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Christmas, I will take only a couple of minutes to point out that this amendment is very necessary in view of the recognition that it is now beginning to dawn on the government that indeed there is a tremendous inventory of peat in Ontario. Peat will be one of the energy sources in the province in the future as we look toward alternative liquid fuels. It is going to be very necessary to be able to exploit the peat resources in Ontario in an economic way.

The way the bill is constructed at present, without this amendment, does not allow for any logical development of peat resources in Ontario. I commend the government for introducing this bill. It is very necessary.

Mr. Wildman: I, too, rise in support of the bill, Mr. Speaker. The reason we are in support of it is of course that we do wish to see the opportunity for the peat industry as an alternative energy source to be developed in this province. At the same time, we do not want to tie up so much area of the province that other types of mineral exploration are held up. This bill makes that possible.

I will only say in support of the bill that, while I am in favour of it, I am disappointed that the government is only now moving in this area and has not taken the initiative that the Quebec government, for instance, has taken in that it is now preparing to build a prototype or pilot project, a three-megawatt energy station, to burn peat.

Apparently all we have in this province is the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) taking trips to Ireland and handing out little packages of peat. I wish this government were taking the same initiative that the Quebec government is taking, and I hope the amendment will make it possible for us to use the tremendous peat resources we have, especially in northern Ontario, for local energy development that will be economic and competitive with other types of energy production.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted with the support, and I hope we might even get to third reading in three minutes.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.


Hon. Mr. Henderson moved second reading of Bill 216, An Act to amend the Farm Products Payments Act.

Mr. Riddell: First, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House leaders for allowing this bill to come in for second reading, even though it was not on the order of business. In the interests of the egg producers who have been waiting for a payment on eggs shipped to the Whyte plant which went into receivership and for which the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board had to get legislative authority from the minister to make that payment, we heartily support the bill.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, in view of the time, I shall not be repetitive. Everything that needs to he said on this bill has been said by the minister and by the Liberal critic.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

The House adjourned at 10:29 p.m.