32nd Parliament, 1st Session




















The House met at 10:02 a.m.




Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, later today I will be introducing for first reading the new Business Corporations Act. My predecessor, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), introduced this bill during the last session of the House, and at that time he outlined the extensive and intensive effort that has gone into its preparation.

Over the past 17 months the draft legislation has been twice circulated for business, financial and legal comment. I am satisfied that the bill now meets the requirements that were set for it. Those requirements are that the new act provide increased rights for minority shareholders, that it be as uniform as possible with the Canada Business Corporations Act and the legislation of other provinces, and that it reflect the recommendations of the 1973 select committee on company law.

I believe we have achieved these aims. Perhaps it would have been possible to patch amendments to the existing act, but the determination was made fairly early, despite some criticism, that it would be preferable to rewrite the act than simply to add changes here and there. I believe the legal and philosophical cohesiveness of this bill has confirmed that decision.

There were quite a few groups and individuals who assisted us in the preparation of this act, many of whom were publicly thanked during the last session when the bill was first introduced. Without renaming all of these people, I would like to praise their efforts once more and thank them for the time and consideration they gave this bill and my ministry's staff.

I am vitally interested in investor protection in this province. I want everyone to get a fair shake in the marketplace. This bill has several provisions which will enhance that protection. For example, there is a section in the new bill which provides for an "oppression remedy" for the first time in Ontario companies law. What this means is that a complainant, who may be a current or former holder of a particular security, can bring an action against the company to redress harmful or burdensome transactions.

Not only will this section protect the rights of minority shareholders, but it will also allow creditors and directors to make a similar application to the court to rectify the oppressive transaction. Court action can also be initiated by the director and, in the case of a corporation offering shares to the public, by the Ontario Securities Commission.

Another provision that is new to Ontario provides for the expropriation of shares of minority shareholders of a public corporation where 90 per cent of the noninsiders accept a takeover bid or 90 per cent of the holders of a class of security accept an issuer bid. This provision is consistent with the recommendation of that select committee on company law.

A corollary of this provision is the proposed right of a "locked-in" shareholder of any of the remaining 10 per cent left after 90 per cent of the class of shares has been acquired by an affiliate of a corporation to force the purchase of his shares. Thus the corporation will make a market for the shareholder where no other market may exist.

In the past few years, in both Canada and the United States, an increasing number of public companies have been "going private." Basically, this means that the principals in a company buy up the majority of shares and require minority shareholders to liquidate their holdings. The Ontario Securities Commission does not believe that such transactions should be prohibited in the public interest, but the commission does believe the rights of minority shareholders should be protected under the Business Corporations Act. Such provisions will be a first in any common-law jurisdiction.

Another proposal is to eliminate par value shares which we believe are misleading to the unsophisticated investor. I should note that the Canada Business Corporations Act prohibits par value shares and that by doing the same in Ontario we will be achieving another of our purposes in this bill, that of drawing our legislation closer to the federal statute.

Another change that will increase the amount of common ground between our act and the federal act is the provision that will allow shareholders to have material which opposes management's point of view circulated at the company's expense to shareholders prior to a general meeting. Appropriate safeguards have been built into this section to prevent abuse by exempting the corporation from the requirement in certain circumstances.

To protect directors or officers of a company who are sued in their corporate capacity, if they have acted in good faith and in the best interests of the corporation, we are proposing that the existing act be changed to permit the purchase of insurance for their benefit.

We are also proposing to plug a gap in the existing act to provide a remedy for the use of confidential information by insiders of a nonpublic corporation. What this means is that any person in a nonoffering corporation who used confidential information for his own benefit in a security transaction could be liable to a person who suffers a direct loss as a result of the transaction.

The proposed act contains 31 provisions that are new to Ontario companies law; I do not intend to outline them all, but I would like to mention just a few more of the act's highlights.

The day-to-day administration of the act is transferred from the minister and given to a director appointed by the minister.

Nonoffering or closely held corporations will be able to apply to the director for an exemption from an audit, and an exemption may be granted following a hearing.

Some lawyers expressed concern about a section of the present act that allows the minister, following a hearing, to cancel a certificate of incorporation and dissolve the corporation where "sufficient cause" is shown. The new bill will not only transfer this authority to the director, but it also defines in part what constitutes "sufficient cause." We are proposing that a certificate of incorporation could be cancelled following a hearing, if there has been a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Provincial Offences Act in circumstances where it is in the public interest to cancel the certificate and dissolve the corporation.

To assure a measure of independence to boards of directors of offering corporations, it is proposed that at least one third of the directors shall not be officers or employees of the corporations.

While I am speaking of directors, I should mention that the section in the present act that requires a director or officer to disclose his or her interest in a material contract or transaction with the corporation has been retained, with the same limitations on liability.

10:10 a.m.

A proposed new subsection gives the corporation, a shareholder, or in the case of an offering company, the Ontario Securities Commission, the right to apply to the court to set aside any contract in which an officer of a corporation failed to disclose an interest. The act empowers the court to set aside the contract or transaction and direct an accounting to the corporation for any profit or gain made by such a director or officer if he sees fit.

There is one further provision that I would like to mention, and that concerns the transition requirements for the more than one quarter million corporations in this province when we move from the old act to the new. When the Canada Business Corporations Act was amended some 12,000 federally incorporated companies were required to file articles of continuance by a specified day or be dissolved and their assets forfeited. No such fate is in store for Ontario business corporations under the proposed bill. What will happen is that all provincial business corporations will come under the new act automatically.

I believe the changes we are proposing to the Business Corporations Act that improve minority shareholder rights will foster increased investor confidence in Ontario business corporations and assist the business community in raising capital.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I believe copies of my statement have been delivered to the opposition members. Have they?

Mr. Cassidy: Yes. For once the minister did the decent thing.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Thank you. The honourable member is very nice this morning.

Yesterday, I made a number of comments on interest rates. Members will recall I emphasized that the government of Canada, through the Bank of Canada, was using high interest rates to achieve a number of objectives, such as fighting inflation and protecting the dollar.

Since interest rates are a federal matter, I sent a telex to the federal Minister of Agriculture on April 16, a week ago yesterday, asking him to convene a meeting of the country's agricultural ministers to discuss emergency credit assistance for farmers. So far, Mr. Whelan has only acknowledged receipt of my telex.

Mr. Riddell: In the meantime, farmers are still going bankrupt.

Mr. Nixon: Why doesn't the minister spend the $20 million we already voted for it?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: It shows the lack of interest about the real problem by that party over there; they really do not want to face the truth. Mr. Speaker, if I might, I would like to continue without listening to that garbage.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: Those members opposite do not usually use garbage.

I have also established an Ontario committee on farm financing. I have invited representatives of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Bankers' Association, the Canada Department of Agriculture and livestock producers, together with members of my own staff. The first meeting will be held next Monday to review what credit agencies are doing to minimize the effect of high input costs.

Again, Mr. Whelan has only acknowledged receipt of the invitation to send a representative; no name has been presented. However, I am happy to tell this House that the Canadian Bankers' Association, the Ontario Pork Producers' Marketing Board, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Cattlemen's Association have all responded favourably.

Mr. Smith: That they are going to come to a meeting? Marvellous!

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, they are coming.

Mr. Smith: What do you expect them to do? Refuse to come to a meeting?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: We have had no response from the federal minister that he is going to send anybody. Again, it is his lack of interest.

I assure members that the government of Ontario is concerned about the effect that high interest rates are having on the farm community. We also recognize that changes must take place at the source of the problem for any solution to be meaningful or effective. We will continue to work towards a resolution at the federal level, where the source of the problem exists. I would ask those on the side opposite to do likewise with those people they call their friends in Ottawa.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that one of the first pieces of legislation to come before this 32nd Parliament will be an Act to Revise and Extend the Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Honourable members will be aware of the strength of my personal commitment and that of the government --

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Mr. Cassidy has a point of order.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: While I was on my feet seeking to draw the Speaker's attention to the fact, I received a copy of the minister's statement. But it is the practice in the House that the statements are given to the opposition parties before the statement is made and not during or after. I believe it is also the practice of this House that points of order have precedent over other statements.

Mr. Speaker: The opposition leaders are now in possession of copies of this statement?

Mr. Smith: Yes.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I did not deliberately attempt to deprive them of the benefit of this statement. It was available for distribution, and I regret it. If I may continue:

Honourable members will be aware of the strength of my own personal commitment and that of the government to this comprehensive review of the Ontario Human Rights Code. I was most gratified by the positive response accorded to Bill 209 by opposition members when we discussed it in this House in December, and in the intervening months I have continued to hear favourable comments from citizens in all parts of Ontario. I look forward now to introducing a bill later today and to our subsequent further discussion.

I believe that this legislation has truly captured that spirit of fairness and equality which already motivates the vast majority of people in this province.

I have referred previously to a new beginning for human rights in Ontario. In expanding the protection of the code to address discrimination on several new grounds, most notably that of physical and mental handicap, and in the other new provisions we will be introducing, we are proposing a code which in my view reflects the needs and the will of the people of Ontario.


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier with regard to the Nakina fire.

Given that the families of the young people who died in that fire were originally told a fictitious story, and that they had to obtain legal assistance to find out the truth -- or at least as much of the truth that has so far emerged -- as to how their young people were burned to death through the liability of the government, can the Premier explain why these people are now not being offered compensation to pay for all of their legal costs and are instead being offered a so-called preliminary offer of a preposterous $15,000 per death?

Can the Premier explain why his government will not immediately pay the legal costs incurred by these families in their efforts to find the truth and get past the fiction that was originally perpetrated, and then go on to negotiation with the family about what might be a proper settlement in a tragic situation of this kind?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am going a little bit by memory. The question should more properly be directed to the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry), who is not here this morning; so I will endeavour to give as much information to the Leader of the Opposition as I can.

I am going strictly by recollection, but my recollection is that the government really acknowledged liability. I think it is a little bit unfair for the Leader of the Opposition to suggest there was any attempt on the part of ministry officials to deliberately cloud this issue. I really do not think that is a fair assessment.

I am not going to comment. The member might discuss with some of his colleagues who happen to be in the legal profession the precedents that exist in terms of liability awards in the unfortunate deaths of young people. I think the precedents are fairly clear, and I am not passing any judgement on these, that the amount of awards in situations of this kind is not that high. I think that is the law as it has been established. I think it is fair to state -- and I may be wrong in this -- that some families, perhaps with legal advice, understand this and may or may not be prepared to settle.

10:20 a.m.

The member should not shake his head. I think there are some who may have, but at the same time the desire of the government is to have this determined, perhaps by one or two individuals, to see what the courts might determine, which would avoid a great duplication of legal costs.

I think all of us would like to see it settled without further litigation, but perhaps that is the best route to go so that both parents and the public would know that some judicial body or person has determined what the amount should be. I find it very difficult to talk about amounts when one is talking about the tragedy that took place.

With respect to costs, I think the government would be sympathetic in terms of, say, a single case and the cost that might be incurred in that litigation. If the Leader of the Opposition will check the usual practice and involvement of the profession in terms of activities of a coroner's jury or inquest, which does not determine amounts of liability, he may find it is not the normal practice of the profession to be involved at coroners' inquests on a daily basis.

I think it would be saying that the government or the crown should automatically move in and pay very substantial legal costs because two or three members of the profession in their judgement -- and they made that judgement -- found it in their clients' interests, in their view, to attend on a daily basis an inquest where the question of the amount of claim that might be adjudicated was really not the issue at the inquest.

The inquest was held to determine how the tragedy took place. It took place to make recommendations as to how this might be avoided in future, whether there were certain regulations that were not observed or whether regulations or policies perhaps should be in effect to see this sort of tragedy never occurs again.

My limited recollection of the law does not indicate that coroners' inquests per se determine the amount if there is liability. I think the Leader of the Opposition might consider the liability of the crown with respect to those costs incurred by those lawyers, or those costs that some lawyers are now seeking because they determined they would attend the inquest with great regularity, when the inquest does not determine the amount to which the parents of these young people might be entitled.

I can only say to the Leader of the Opposition that this government is very anxious to see this matter resolved. We are obviously very sympathetic to the concerns of these parents, and we will make every effort to see this matter is resolved just as soon as we can.

Mr. Smith: Does the Premier not appreciate that it is a question not of what lawyers did, but of what the parents hired lawyers to do? Does the Premier not understand that the parents having been given, and I repeat it, a fictitious and false story about how their children died, then had to go and rely on legal advice and on having lawyers present whenever officials testified, even be it at a coroner's inquest, not to determine how much money a life might be worth or how much liability amounts to in dollar terms, but simply to get the truth of how it happened?

The Premier must surely understand the parents hired the lawyers to get a true story instead of a fictitious one, and now it is surely the government's responsibility, first, to pay all the legal fees so far incurred by these parents in their efforts to find out how their young people were burned and then, if they like, to go to court about the issue of how much a court recognizes a life is worth according to present legal practice.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Once again I am at some slight disadvantage here, and I am subject to correction by the Solicitor General or the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope). I am going by recollection, but I believe the former Minister of Natural Resources, right here in this House, acknowledged liability.

I present the proposition to the Leader of the Opposition that liability having been determined by the government -- and I am not going to pass judgement on those lawyers who felt they still should attend the inquest, but I think it is fair to state that their function at that inquest obviously did not relate to the question of liability -- I think the crown would be in some position of criticism if it were to pay the costs the lawyers incurred in terms of deciding that they would attend the inquest.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition that an inquest is held like many normal proceedings. The witnesses are there under oath. You have a coroner who is sitting somewhat like a judge. You have counsel there in terms of conducting the inquest. And, with great respect, to say that the parents' rights had to be protected in terms of the inquest is demonstrating, perhaps not a lack of knowledge, but --

Mr. Smith: They were lied to.

Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, I think the Leader of the Opposition should be very careful in suggesting that officials of the ministry lied.

Mr. Smith: Yes, they did.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have to say to the Leader of the Opposition that it is easy to make that observation. I will get the dates when these events took place, but it was fairly early on in the proceedings that the government admitted the liability. The liability is that which the parents are concerned about, and properly so.

If there is not a settlement, it is then a question for the courts to determine the amount of liability. The government is not disputing this at all. But the question of whether lawyers' fees, which in this case in one or two instances are very substantial, were incurred because they decided to attend the inquest day after day is another issue.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the Premier now enunciates the government's acceptance of liability, and if the Premier now says it is the government's position that it wants to expedite and settle the matter as quickly as possible, can he explain why the crown failed to file a statement of defence before the court for almost a year?

Is the Premier not embarrassed by Judge Fitzgerald's decision, which was brought down earlier this month, in which he said the delay by the crown was patently deliberate, that the crown failed to give any excuse or reason for that delay and that the government itself is responsible for the delay in the proceedings?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have learned never to be embarrassed by judgements of the courts, nor do I comment upon them or differ with them. I am not going to make the mistake of questioning the judgement of a member of the bench. If the government were to question this, we would do it by way of appeal, but the member is not going to get me involved in that sort of discussion.

I think the relevant issue here is the mechanism to determine this issue, to get it settled --

Mr. Foulds: You didn't take advantage of that mechanism. You obstructed that mechanism.

10:30 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not admitting the government's liability here this morning. That admission was made some many months ago. I want that clearly understood. I do not want the member to try to introduce into public discussion that I am stating government's liability today. That has already been accepted. What has to be determined now is the extent of that liability, and I think we have a responsibility. If it can be settled by negotiation, great. But if there are any outstanding doubts in the minds of the parents as to the amount, then I would be happier as an individual if that determination were made in the courts.

Mr. Foulds: Why did the Premier obstruct that mechanism for nine months?

Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, it is not a question of obstruction at all.

Mr. Cassidy: They couldn't go forward without the Premier's participation.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, it is not; it is not a question of obstruction. The members of the third party are trying to create the impression -- they have done it for years -- that they are the only ones who have a certain sensitivity to some of these very difficult issues. I will match this government's sensitivity with respect to these human issues with that of the leader of the New Democratic Party or the Leader of the Opposition any day of the week.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the Premier not agree how unfair his attitude must appear to parents when he indicates that their lawyers perhaps should not have been attending the inquest on a daily basis, when their objections referred to the Supreme Court were supported by the Honourable Mr. Justice Pennell, which saw substantial changes in the conduct at the inquest, and then the comments of the judge referred to by the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds)? Is it a further indication that justice appears not to have been done in this instance? It was certainly not done to the satisfaction of all of the members of this House, to say nothing of the parents themselves.

Does the Premier not recall that in his statement, very properly made immediately after the tragedy, he said he personally would see that all of the information in this would be made public without delay? Does he not feel a certain regret that his lack of decisiveness in this instance has led to the long, drawn-out and beleaguered inquest, the statements by the various judges and the dissatisfaction by the parents which is still quite evident?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I was not at the inquest and I do not have all the information available, but my recollection once again is that the crown was not responsible for some of the delays in the inquest. I see no contradiction whatsoever in the statements I and the minister made.

Mr. Nixon: So-called objections and delays that were upheld by the Supreme Court of Ontario. He is implying that the lawyers were delaying.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Just a minute. I listened to the member without any interruption; perhaps he will do me the courtesy of listening to me.

This government does not determine the legal process of the inquest. The inquest is conducted by the coroner. The coroner conducted the inquest in the way he felt was most proper, and the crown did not delay the conduct of that inquest.

I just point out to the member for Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk-Oxford-wherever --

Mr. Nixon: He should just call it Brant for the next four years, because he is never going to get it right.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I know. Listen, I admit to my human frailties.

Mr. Nixon: Slow learners are all alike.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have to say, we have been slow learners for 38 years, but we are still learning. That is the mistake the people on that side have made: they never have learned.

As a former Minister of Education, I used to make the observation that learning was a lifetime process. I confess that I am still in the learning stage.

Mr. Foulds: Direct that question to the Minister of Education.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, as an academic, the member should know that the learning process is an ongoing situation. He should remember it and practise it; it would do him some good.

Mr. Speaker: Will the Premier please return to the question?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I will return to the question, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to point out, and I just do not want any misunderstanding by members of this House or the public, that the government has accepted and admitted liability. We are anxious to see that this liability, the extent of it in terms of money -- and I feel badly that really we are talking about money in terms of this tragedy, but that is the reality -- we are as anxious as are the parents to see that this is brought to a reasonable conclusion. We are making efforts to see that happens.


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier a question. He will recall his tax grants for seniors program, "Because Ontario Cares." He will recall that 40 seniors at St Anne's Tower here in Toronto were surprised to learn, after they had received the money, that they were to give it back and were to get, as about another 90,000 seniors, less money under the new program than they used to get under the old program with the pensioner tax credit.

The Premier will recall that we had some discussion in the House about why his government was hounding these poor people to give back the money they had inadvertently received. May I ask the Premier if he can confirm that these people are still being hounded to return this money?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think this would be a great opportunity. The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) actually debated this with the Leader of the Opposition and, I believe, with the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) on other occasions, as did the former Minister of Revenue. I would be delighted to discuss it, but I think it is a very proper question to be directed to the new Minister of Revenue.

I would suggest, in that that is where the responsibility for this very great program lies, that here is an opportunity for the Minister of Revenue to answer his first question in his new portfolio.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, the issue that has been brought up by the Leader of the Opposition is very relevant and one that I think the ministry has been treating very equitably. There is no doubt about the policy of this government as it relates to returning to people of this province a portion of their rent or a portion of their taxes, as the case may be, and that is the principle that was involved.

In the cases where people were inadvertently paid moneys that were not legally due to them -- and we will not get into the reasons why, but we have those statistics -- we are looking at these issues on an individual basis and being as charitable as is possible to arrange. I still think it is necessary to recover these moneys because, as the legislation now stands, they have been illegally paid to them. But we are being very charitable to work out with them repayment arrangements that recognize their individual circumstances, and that is exactly the way it is being handled. They are not being badgered -- I think was the word that was used -- in any way, and we are working out arrangements that we hope will suit them without hindering their financial conditions.

Mr. Smith: May I ask the minister what is the reasoning behind his present actions by which many of these same people who are being asked to give back the money, have now received a second instalment of $250 at the very same locations? May I ask whether this is a new program designed to dangle more temptation in front of these elderly people to perhaps make their lives a little more interesting and remind them of how much Ontario cares?

Does the minister not think the best thing to do would be, first of all, to ask his colleague the Treasurer to reintroduce the pensioner tax credits so that no one gets less than he used to get and, second, will he see what is going on at his ministry now that he has taken over?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I think it is safe to say that in a program of this nature, where we disbursed more than half a million cheques within a very short period of time -- just in the last few weeks -- it is quite possible with that kind of volume that we could have made the odd mistake, and I acknowledge that. It possibly should not be, but it may have happened, and we will look into the numbers.

The other part of that I would look upon in a very positive way, because we are working very charitably with these people; we want to keep their debts on a current basis so we are helping them pay back their old debts and looking upon it as a new debt.

10:40 a.m.

Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister may recall that, in an equally hastily conceived program prior to an earlier election, there was some $13 million distributed by maladministration of the homeowners' grant. The government saw fit to write it off after a period of anguish in trying to come to grips with that. Will the minister, instead of going through the same anguish in trying to reclaim this money from senior citizens, take that action now instead of six months from now?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, of course I cannot answer that at this time. At the moment the legislation requires these moneys be repaid. As I mentioned before, we look at all of these issues with charity, and we look at the practicability. I am sure we will be examining the numbers and the circumstances involved. If it is felt appropriate to change the policy, we will be back and will so inform this House.

Ms. Copps: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister also seeking -- as is the case in some instances -- a rebate on a prorated basis for those people who have died during the last half of 1980?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that particular supplementary as notice.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Housing about the cost of housing and how people can afford it here in Metropolitan Toronto.

Last November the average income required to buy an average house in Metropolitan Toronto was $37,000. Today, with the average price of houses in Metropolitan Toronto, including the suburbs, at $81,000, and with an increase in interest rates for mortgages to 17 per cent announced this week, it requires a family income of $44,661 per annum to afford the average home in Metropolitan Toronto. What proposals does the minister have to ensure that people with incomes of less than $44,000 will be able to have homes of their own in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I guess this is a follow-up to the questions we went through yesterday in relationship to the price of housing units, not only in the Metropolitan Toronto area but also, I guess, across Ontario.

As I said yesterday, most of the problems we have been confronted with --

Mr. Swart: Got your act together today?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Just listen for a moment to what I am going to say. When the honourable member starts talking --


Hon. Mr. Bennett: I tell you, Mr. Speaker, if you ever get the leader of the third party to listen to anything, he will go further down the drain.

One of the problems is that everyone wants to start referring to averages. Frankly, I said yesterday one of the things that has happened with some degree of shock is the very inflated increase in prices of rental accommodation and of ownership accommodation in the downtown core areas of places like Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and various other communities of this province. When one starts adding those in to give average figures, it leads one somewhat away from the realistic application of prices in the outlying areas of those major municipalities.

I suggested to the leader of the third party that, if he would like to go out and visit some of the subdivisions in this particular area of the province or in other jurisdictions of Ontario, he would find that average price really does not hold true. I have to say it does not hold correctly to his figure.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I said to you and to this House that last year in this province on multiple listing service listings, about 40 per cent of all sales were under $60,000. Also, over the period of time from 1976 to 1980 there was less than a 10 per cent increase in the cost of private single-family housing outside of the metropolitan areas. I am referring to the core areas of places like Toronto.

I still say, and I repeat it again, that I think I am in accord with the federal minister in relation to the problem of supplying housing in this economy. For government to step in and try to curb the price of housing will only stop up the housing industry completely.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister is like Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned, and that is exactly what he is doing. He is doing nothing while families are getting pushed out of housing.

I would like to ask the minister, what is the significance of the statement in the throne speech where the government says, "The importance of the role of the family in our society cannot be too strongly emphasized"? The government also said, "The government's activities therefore will continue to reflect and respond to the nature of our people and to the desire that family life and other traditional values remain an influence and a force in the Ontario way of life."

Is the minister saying that having a home of one's own in which to raise a family is not a part of the traditional values people have enjoyed in Ontario? Is that why he is not prepared to defend it? Or is he abandoning the promise made in the throne speech, that the government will do something for families who want to have homes of their own?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I will be delighted to get from the leader of the third party all of his facts and figures about who is being pushed out of their homes at this time. I will be delighted, because I have to tell the honourable member I do not know of them, other than those who may not be paying their mortgages and some of them are four and five years in arrears. I am sure the trust companies and the mortgage companies, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, without divulging confidentiality, will be delighted to give him the statistics on some of the arrears they are contending with.

This government has invested a great deal of money on behalf of the people of Ontario in assisting municipalities and bringing on stream serviced lots for single and multiple use. I said yesterday in this House that we invested $106 million to facilitate the opening of a great amount of land in those areas of the province where there is a demand for housing. I can think of those in Markham, in Peel and in various other regions.

Just as an example, under the Ontario housing action program, there were interest-free loans by this government to assist those regions or municipalities. In the Ottawa-Carleton area, $10 million was lent to put sewer and water infrastructure in the ground to facilitate development, a great deal of it in areas that the leader of the third party and I know specifically about.

In Hamilton-Wentworth, we lent better than $9 million; in Halton, something more than $17 million; in the York-Durham situation, $46 million for the York-Durham major service which will facilitate a tremendous amount of land for development purposes. In the Peel area, there was $8 million for Brampton and $3 million for Mississauga, for a total of about $11 million.

In Metro there was $10 million. I suppose that is in keeping with the right political representation in that area.

In York there was $2.5 million.

To be more specific in answering the leader of the third party's problem, frankly there are some 70,000 lots for singles or multiples that could be put under development tomorrow, because they are at the point of only having to be registered with the municipality. In my opinion, that is positive action by this government to assist the municipalities in making land available at a reasonable price to facilitate the development and construction of single-family homes.

I am one who believes I am doing my part for the betterment of society and the increase of family composition. I am looking after it at my own expense as well.

Mr. Ruprecht: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I listened to the minister's statement and his extensive remarks quite attentively yesterday and today. Through all the obfuscation he is giving this House, I would like to know whether the minister is prepared to tell the people of this metropolitan area that he and his government are doing absolutely nothing about the spiralling increase in housing prices.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that a member of the Liberal caucus should ask that particular question in relation to some of the comments and questions that have been placed to the federal representative in Ottawa who represents CMHC and who is also a former mayor of Scarborough. The former mayor of Scarborough should know a little about what is going on in this area. He has said frankly he does not intend to do anything at this time.

I said yesterday, and it was concurred in by the Treasurer, that we do not intend to bring back and put in place a speculation tax in this province.

10:50 a.m.

Secondly, I said very clearly that if there is a capital gains tax that is also applicable against those who wish to buy property and speculate, there will be an increase in it. If they do not reside in it, the capital gains tax takes place in that particular situation. I do not intend to recommend to this government that we start on another program by the provincial and federal governments to interfere with the free market of the real estate housing and rental industry.

Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister seems to be indicating by continually referring to his facts that suburban prices are less than city core prices. He keeps saying that perhaps working-class people could move to the suburbs. Does he really believe that is a viable alternative for people in view of the rising costs of energy as well as housing in this province and in the country in general?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I think one has to look at the inevitable. Not everyone is going to be able to live in the core area of any community. In frank fairness to the government in relationship to the fact that there is going to be an increasing population and there is going to be a fair number who will have to live beyond the core area, this government has invested a great deal of money in urban transportation facilities, such as the GO Transit system, that facilitate the movement with a lesser use of energy.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier about the ethics of government. Does the Premier not consider it wrong that a member of his cabinet should take a position with a pulp and paper company within a matter of days after his retirement from the Legislature and from the cabinet, when that member in his cabinet responsibilities had been responsible for resources development and had also been a member of the board which has given a grant of $4.65 million to Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company? Did the Premier consider that to be proper when he went on the payroll within days of leaving the cabinet?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I always feel a little badly when questions of this nature are asked. I guess perhaps I have known the former member better than some of you opposite -- perhaps not better than one or two -- and I do not know of anybody in my political life whom I have met who is certainly any more highly principled than the former member for Cochrane North, Mr. Brunelle.

I realize a columnist for one of Toronto's leading morning papers had some observations about this matter. Far be it from me ever to be critical of what columnists or others write in the press, but I find it somewhat unfortunate that the member for Ottawa Centre is by innuendo suggesting that the former member for Cochrane North is anything less than a very decent, honourable person. He has accepted employment with a firm which happens to be geographically located very close to a community where he has spent most of his life. He has been retained, or whatever the terminology is, by a firm where he understands some of the nature of that particular business.

To suggest that he in any way compromised his principles while a member of the executive council of the government of the province of Ontario by accepting a job with a firm located in the riding that he represented, in a community close to his own home, means then that the member for Ottawa Centre does not know that individual as well as I do.

I take offence, Mr. Speaker, at the implications suggested by the member for Ottawa Centre. I see nothing wrong, because I know him. He would never do anything to compromise his principles, and if the member is asking me whether he should or should not have accepted that employment, my answer very simply is that Rene Brunelle is an honest, decent person and he accepted employment in his judgement in a proper way and I certainly would not question that decision.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, some years ago in this cabinet, this government brought in conflict of interest rules to apply to cabinet ministers specifically in order to ensure that any suggestion of a conflict of interest would be removed. My question to the Premier is this: Does the Premier not see that in the public's eye, members of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development who will now be adjudicating grants worth hundreds of millions of dollars to industrial firms across the province over the next three or four years could, in following what the Premier has said, now be planning to go out into private industry when they retire from this place, into the firms over whose grants they had decision?

Surely there is a conflict of interest there. Will the Premier undertake to bring in stringent rules in order to ensure that retiring members of the cabinet not be put into that conflict situation in the future?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the New Democratic Party, I think, made a fool of himself on Tuesday and he is doing it again here Friday morning.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am sorry one has to do this, but I want to say that I happen to know Rene Brunelle and happen to think the world of Rene Brunelle and I want that on the record. I think he is a very fine man. I do not in any way suggest there is anything that Rene Brunelle has done or would do that would be in way dishonest or less than totally honourable. Let's be clear about that.

I do ask, by way of supplementary, however, whether the Premier is aware that in the conflict of interest guidelines of the federal government it is clearly stated that in order that the population of the country not be in any way given the wrong impression, ministers ought to obey certain guidelines and that within a period of two years of leaving office, ministers are required not to accept appointment on a board of a corporation with whom they have been dealing and so on.

The issue is not what has been done in the case of Mr. Brunelle at all; the issue is whether the public will have confidence in the way in which the cabinet and the government will conduct itself in its dealings with large and powerful corporations. That being the case, would the Premier not give consideration to adopting a similar guideline in Ontario to that which exists in the federal government?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, this government introduced guidelines with respect to the conduct of members of the executive council well before the federal government. I am not going to get into personalities or give the House examples where, in fact, "the guidelines" -- and they are more than guidelines here -- are observed, but perhaps they are people who have been in federal politics who, in the nature of their business, whether they happen to be in the legal profession or others, by the nature of the business they are in fact dealing with or acting for people who had dealings with the government of Canada.

I would even say that private members in this House, when they retire or when they are defeated, by the nature of their practice -- I am only referring to a profession I know full well -- may be dealing or acting for clients dealing with Legislation when, as members of this Legislature, they had a hand in making those determinations.

Where, Mr. Speaker, do you draw the line? I think you have to look at it in terms of a public responsibility. I have a public responsibility in terms of the activity of members of the executive council, members of our caucus, but I do not have a responsibility in the situation that has been mentioned by the leader of the New Democratic Party, and I now see joined in by the Leader of the Opposition, where I say to a former colleague, "Because you were involved"--

11 a.m.

Mr. Smith: Come on.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, you said you thought Mr. Brunelle was a fine person.

Mr. Smith: That is right, and an honourable man.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is right.

Mr. Cassidy: And Brutus is an honourable man.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Then if he is an honourable man, why is the member joining in raising this issue?

Mr. Cassidy: The reason I raised this issue, Mr. Speaker, is because I think it is important for all of us to ensure that this Legislature is above reproach, and to ensure that questions the public may raise about people using political positions cannot be raised because of oversights, or because of policies that are carried out in this place.

I would like to ask the Premier, does he not understand that there must be rules, as there are in the federal Parliament, in order to ensure that the members of the cabinet of this province, and people who retire from the cabinet of the province, are above reproach and that not to pass the kind of guidelines I am calling for will call into question whether the government is staying at a proper distance from private industry in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, it may call this into question in the member's mind. I just repeat, as far as the former member for Cochrane North is concerned, he would never have done anything in his area of responsibility as a minister of the crown that would have conflicted with his personal integrity. His acceptance of employment, or whatever term has been used -- I am not even sure of his official capacity with that organization -- would never in any way have prejudiced his judgement while serving as a member of the executive council. I find it very unfortunate that the honourable member would raise it in this fashion.


Mr. Epp: I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Given the fact that the government commissioned several regional government studies over the last number of years, and given the fact that the government has had almost a total record of failure with respect to implementing these various studies -- after spending, for instance, over a $1 million on the Robarts study on Metropolitan Toronto, almost $400,000 in Hamilton-Wentworth and over $360,000 in Waterloo -- what is the government's intention with respect to these studies and the implementation of those recommendations?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, first of all I think we have debated this at length during various estimates. My friend has taken part in those debates. I categorically deny that we have ignored those studies. The fact is that those studies had been looked at by people in the particular regions concerned and some of the important recommendations had been rejected by most of the people in the regions.

Therefore, having paid due accord to those studies, but also having listened to the people in the regions, we then decided to take the viewpoint of those people in the regions who are most directly concerned and who I believe should be the ones to bring forward recommendations for improvement and change in the regional government structure in their area.

Let me give you an example. In Metropolitan Toronto, the basis of the Robarts report was to change the boundaries of the boroughs and the city of Toronto, a suggestion that was almost universally rejected by politicians, except in two of the smaller boroughs of this particular area. That suggestion and that concern by the local politicians and the local people in this area was taken by this government and was acted upon. That means we did, in fact, act upon the recommendations of the Robarts report on this area; we rejected them. That rejection, I think, was accepted by at least 80 per cent of the people of this particular area.

Mr. MacDonald: All except the victims.

Hon. Mr. Wells: All except who?

Mr. MacDonald: The victims.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The victims. I am sorry I could not hear my friend but he said "the victims." We promise to do something for the victims. Some of them are represented by my friend and others in this House and by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). In fact, some of the increases in grants have been the greatest for those particular areas.

I still say there will be further help for those particular areas so I really think the crux of the matter is that it is good to have a study. Everybody takes a look at what is happening but if one looks at each of the regional studies -- Metropolitan Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo and so on -- one finds there is no universal agreement on what should be done. In fact, we have done those things that needed to be done.

As my friend knows, in his particular area I have said time and again if he has some better solution as to how that area should operate and be governed, he should bring it forward to us because I also find it very strange that when he was a mayor in that area he was at least lukewarm in enthusiasm for some type of regional government. Now he has gone around during election campaigns and said that regional government should be completely done away with in that particular area.


Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend says "Hamilton" and that indeed is a good example. I think the Hamilton situation is an excellent example. The commissioner recommended a one-tier system. Do we want a one-tier system in Hamilton? I said to Hamilton, "Make the system you have there work," and I think the people of Hamilton now have a system and are starting to make it work.

Mr. Epp: I find it amusing, if somewhat difficult, to understand why the government would appoint these various commissioners and then patently admit here in this House it has no confidence in them and that the recommendations they brought forth are not acceptable to the politicians in the various regions. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is obviously admitting he has not consulted with the politicians in those regions, that the recommendation were not in concert with what the politicians wanted and therefore the politicians could not implement those policies or recommendations. Obviously, they were not sensitive to what the people wanted. The question is --

Hon. Mr. Davis: And you complain about me.

Mr. Epp: I have never complained about the Premier. I came here prepared to listen to his 30-minute answers. The question is, what plans does the government have, now that it has this arrogant majority in front of us here, to implement the recommendations of the Robarts report, the Stewart report, the Archer report, the Mayo report and the Palmer report?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I answered that question fully in my opening remarks for my estimates last year. I indicated what we would be doing in so far as those reports were concerned and what we would not be doing. I said clearly that the fact we didn't implement some of the recommendations did not mean we did not think the commissioner did a competent job and certainly was well within his rights in presenting those recommendations. All I am saying is that in the judgement of this ministry and this government in consultation with local people, the recommendations were not what we felt should be put into effect at this time.

I think it should be further said that the results of March 19 should finally convince the Liberal Party sitting over there that its total sort of flip-flop on regional government, by trying to suggest the way to go is just to destroy it and try to turn the clock back, has been completely rejected by the people of this province. It should start looking for the good things in regional government.

Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister changed his position against the recommendation of the Robarts commission for direct election of Metro councillors, in view of the clear evidence that the present Metro councillors do not reflect the views of a majority of the people of Metropolitan Toronto on the question of the preservation of the Toronto Island neighbourhood?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I could be convinced by my friend's mention of the Toronto Island matter in so far as Metro council is concerned, but I will not let that cloud my judgement. I still do not believe the kind of direct election that Mr. Robarts suggested would be in the best interest of a regional government and a metropolitan system that has worked very well for more than 25 years in Metropolitan Toronto.

11:10 a.m.


Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), can I direct a question to the Premier of the province? I was pleased to hear this morning that the chief coroner in Ontario had ordered an inquest into the shooting death of Larry Johnson in Hamilton. What I am concerned with and what I would ask the Premier is whether or not he would talk to his colleague the Attorney General with some urgency and request that they proceed with an inquest into the deaths of Ann Teresa Schwark and her 12-year-old daughter Caroline, who were found apparently starved to death in an apartment building in north Hamilton after some three months of disappearance.

The attitude of the coroner involved, the delays in waiting for reports from the forensic lab seem to me to be small reason for not proceeding with an inquest which can get at the facts as to what kind of protection there was for this 12-year-old girl in that home. Would the Premier please intervene with his minister and ask that an inquest be held in this particular case?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, once again I stand to be corrected, but my information is that an inquest has been ordered.

Mr. Mackenzie: In the Schwark case?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes.


Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister will be aware of his personal written commitment made during the election campaign to my predecessor for the opening of the Alfred Agricultural College on September 1. Can the minister tell this House whether he is agreeable with the proposal that the students of the Alfred Agricultural College be housed in the same facilities as juvenile offenders now operating that facility?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable member, he is well aware of the problem the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) is faced with in removing the young people. He is well aware of the commitment made, as he said. These two ministers are looking at the overall situation. At this time I cannot give him the commitment that he is asking, that both not be housed there.

Mr. Boudria: I wonder if the Premier could assure this House that he will order his two ministries to ensure that this joint occupancy of those facilities, which is totally incompatible, will not occur and that he will direct his ministries to house the students in a different location from the present juvenile offenders, so that we will not keep losing registrations for that school as we are now. People are deregistering faster than they are registering for that facility.

Mr. Speaker: I think that was a redirection.


Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the major policy statement the Treasurer made yesterday, appropriately at the Burlington Golf and Country Club to the Burlington Chamber of Commerce on the subject of pension reform.

In view of, if I might say, the very reactionary set of principles that was set out on page seven of that speech, which entirely ignores reforms to the public sector of the pension system, together with the remarks in this morning's Globe and Mail, I want to ask the Treasurer whether he is exercising the traditional Ontario veto over any reforms to the Canada pension plan, even in advance of the work of this Legislature's select committee on pensions.

Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I am not, Mr. Speaker. I simply pointed out that in fact Ontario has a veto.

Mr. McClellan: Is the Treasurer open to reforms to the Canada pension plan which would take the present earning ceilings above the ridiculously inadequate 25 per cent of pensionable earnings? Is the minister not aware that in all respects, whether we look at portability, vesting, indexing, coverage or the position of women, the private pension system has failed utterly and completely to protect senior citizens in this province and in this country? How can the minister be contemplating a reform of the pension system by putting all his eggs in that already mishmashed basket?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I suppose philosophically I have a lot more confidence in that mishmashed basket than the member's party ever has had. One of the great things one has to recognize is that we have had a very fine study, perhaps the best ever made, of the pension system in Canada in the royal commission. That is a massive report of 10 volumes. It has 163 recommendations.

I am not prejudging those recommendations, but the one principle the report points out is this: There are routes to go in improving, as agreed, the pension system for Canadians. The report states it is better to use a private purchased money plan for the topping up of those than to expand the Canada pension plan.

I as Treasurer -- and I have been criticized very often by the critic in the Liberal Party and sometimes by the NDP critic -- have, like many other treasurers and ministers of finance, benefited from the cash flows that come from captive pension funds. This report basically says government shouldn't be the beneficiary of those because it is important to the economy to keep those funds available for economic investment. I agree with those kinds of principles.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: How can the minister be such a hypocrite? When he owes the Canada pension plan $9 billion and assorted other pension funds about $15 billion in total, he has been the chief beneficiary of this cheap money over the past decade. He is the one who has corrupted the system. Is he now having an about-face after all these years? Is he changing his mind on all these things? Does he understand the corruption he has brought on the whole system? He is the one who is violating exactly what he said he was against in the speech.

Hon. F. S. Miller: If the honourable member goes back, I think the very first time he criticized me in an estimates debate, we talked about this. If he looks back, most of the comments I made were saying that one should get out of borrowing from captive funds. In fact, we have done a better job in this province than the federal government or anybody else in terms of reducing our cash requirements.

11:20 a.m.



Hon. Mr. Walker moved first reading of Bill 6, An Act to revise the Business Corporations Act.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Elgie moved first reading of Bill 7, An Act to revise and extend Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, many of us are intrigued by the practice which you initiated yesterday of referring to members of the assembly by their names rather than by their office, with the singular exception of members of the cabinet, who are referred to by their office rather than by their names. Could you tell us perhaps why you have changed the traditional practice and whether you intend to continue it? I myself would be concerned if that distinction were maintained.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, just while you are thinking about a response to that, if I might rise on a point of order, there is a general conception -- I am not sure whether it is correct or not -- that the names of members, their surnames and Christian names, should not be used in this House.

As I understand it, they should not be used in debate, so that there will be only an address through the chair and a reference to the member by the constituency he or she represents, which is supposed to keep things on a basis of fact and dispute without involving personalities; but as I recall my intensive study of the practice at Westminster, the Speaker there does refer to members by his or her name and it really makes for very rapid identification. Frankly, I don't see anything too wrong with that.

The only other problem is that we have a system of so-called punishment here, where Mr. Speaker may expel a person from the House by naming the member, and a lot of people feel, as I always have, that was associated with the Speaker actually using the name of the person in instructing him or her to withdraw. I do not believe that is correct. As for me, I would have no objection to Mr. Speaker continuing to use the names of the individual members, for convenience and rapid identification. Certainly it is a lot better than some of the problems that some of the members have with the name of my riding.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, if I could offer a few comments also, I think this is a very interesting exchange. We have had a point drawn to our attention that you have been using surnames rather than the riding names for honourable members during question period, and my friend from Oxford-Haldimand-Norfolk -- that is just to show you that I have mastered the riding name --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, it is Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I was giving him a little extra territory.

I think it raises some interesting points. As I indicated yesterday, it was my privilege to watch the question period in Westminster a week or so ago, and I know from sitting in the gallery it was very interesting. They didn't give us any seating plan, because obviously there is no seating plan in Westminster. You are sitting there listening, and all of a sudden the Speaker says, "Next question, Mr. Winston Churchill," and of course everybody looks around to see who that is. It is a very interesting practice.

My suggestion would be, Mr. Speaker, that this again highlights matter -- we talked about it yesterday -- in redirecting questions, and I would not want to leave any impression with this House that I was trying to suggest any direction that you should take from that area because I certainly was not.

If I omitted to say it, I will say it right now under this point of order. I really felt that was a matter that should be looked at by the standing committee on procedural affairs. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you might like to ask that the procedural affairs committee take a look at this also, just to have its advice.

I am not suggesting it necessarily is a matter that has to be there; it may be that it is completely within your prerogative. If that is so, I think then we would be happy to hear what your views on this matter are. But certainly it is one of those questions, and there are a number in our standing orders, which need to be looked at, some of them involving the House giving you some expression of opinion, some of them the House having to change its standing orders, some of them within your prerogative, which all suggests that there are things that need to be reviewed. I think we will get into that discussion in a few minutes when we talk about the kind of committees that should be set up.

Mr. McClellan: If I may, I am prepared to abide by your decision, Mr. Turner.

Mr. Speaker: If I may just reply to the point of privilege raised by Mr. McClellan, I have looked into this matter somewhat thoroughly and I think the answer is interesting and very simple.

I am advised that the designation of members by their electoral districts or of ministers by their portfolios is required only when speaking in debate on a specific motion. Under those circumstances, when you refer to another member, you do so in a formal manner. The correct and well-established procedure when the Speaker is recognizing members either in question period, in debate or at any other time, is that he calls them by name in the same way as members when moving a motion say, "Moved by" -- themselves, whoever it may be -- "seconded by Mr. So-and-So" -- whatever the case may be.

I am advised that it is an order. There has been obviously some confusion in the minds of some members as to the proper names of ridings. I do not use that as an excuse because the former Speaker certainly did not have any problem that way. I suppose in actual fact it is one of the initiatives taken by me as a new Speaker, and, I am advised, well within the jurisdiction and authority of the chair.

I find it interesting and I would like to continue to do it. I would like to hear the further comments of members as we go along. I can assure the -- I can assure Mr. Nixon that when the time comes to name a member there shall not be any confusion.

Mr. Breaugh: If I might raise a small point of order, here, in the last five years -- in a different situation, granted -- there has been established a procedural affairs committee of this House. All through the course of those five years there have been rather substantial changes in the standing orders, there have been some small changes in the practices and procedures of the House. But through all of that there grew, I thought and I hoped, a consensus that whenever practices of this House changed, whenever standing orders were changed, whenever the procedures were changed, all members on all sides were equals and all of us had the opportunity to voice an opinion before the change occurred.

We spent a great deal of time in reviewing standing orders to see that all members had the opportunity to voice an opinion before a change was made, if changes were contemplated by the government, by an opposition member, by a private member, everyone knew what was going to happen in advance and had the opportunity to voice an opinion. Out of that grew, I felt, not a great deal but some small measure of respect for the rules and procedures of this House. It would seem to me a great shame if we now threw that away. There is no real advantage for either government members or private members to abuse the rules; but there is a great advantage for all sides of the House to have developed some respect for the rules.

I would make a plea for you, Mr. Speaker, simply to do this, to try to maintain that tradition. In using the members' names, I would personally say that there is some small danger in that, that the precedent we have established here does not give us much decorum but once in a while it is useful to have that little bit of decorum present. If there are going to be changes in procedures I suggest you use that committee, and that prior to the change taking place the members have an opportunity to voice an opinion.

I would close with this small warning to all those involved: If there are those here who want to make dramatic changes and let none of the private members voice an opinion before the changes occur, you are going to cause considerable resentment on all sides. The resentment most likely will be felt on this side first; but I assure you, if you stomp on my little foot today, you will feel that little foot on your anatomy tomorrow.

11:30 a.m.

Mr. Speaker: If I may just comment on the point of privilege: Your comments are well taken. Certainly it was not my intention and it will not be my intention to circumvent the procedural affairs committee or any other committee. If there are any dramatic or substantial changes, or changes indeed, they will be referred to that committee for its advice and recommendation.

However, in my view, this does not constitute a dramatic or substantial change. It is a matter that I am advised is well within the prerogative of the Speaker. As I mentioned earlier to the former member, I would like to try it, I would like to hear the continuing comments of members as we go along and certainly I will take all those comments into consideration. However, thank you very much for your comments.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, over the weekend you might contemplate whether you would wish members of the assembly to address you as Mr. Speaker or Mr. Turner.

Mr. Speaker: That is interesting.

Mr. Foulds: Are there distinctions between members here or not?

Mr. Speaker: No, there are not. I think I made that very clear in my explanation of what I was doing.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved resolution 1:

That the following standing committees be established for this session, with power to examine and inquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House, with power to send for persons, papers and things, as provided in section 35 of the Legislative Assembly Act:

Standing committee on general government -- 12 members, with seven from the government party, three from the official opposition and two from the third party. Standing committee on resources development -- 12 members, as above. Standing committee on the administration of justice -- 12 members, as above. Standing committee on social development -- 12 members, as above.

Standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments -- 12 members, as above; appointed for this session to be the committee provided for by section 12 of the Regulations Act, and having the terms of reference as set out in that section, namely: to examine the regulations with particular reference to the scope and method of the exercise of delegated legislative power without reference to the merits of the policy or objectives to be effected by the regulations or enabling statutes, but in so doing regard shall be had to the following guidelines:

(a) regulations should not contain provisions initiating new policy, but should be confined to details to give effect to the policy established by the statute;

(b) regulations should be in strict accord with the statute conferring of power, particularly concerning personal liberties;

(c) regulations should be expressed in precise and unambiguous language;

(d) regulations should not have retrospective effect unless clearly authorized by statute;

(e) regulations should not exclude the jurisdiction of the courts;

(f) regulations should not impose a fine, imprisonment or other penalty;

(g) regulations should not shift the onus of proof of innocence to a person accused of an offence;

(h) regulations should not impose anything in the way of a tax (as distinct from fixing the amount of a licence, fee, or the like);

(i) general powers should not be used to establish a judicial tribunal or an administrative tribunal.

And the committee shall from time to time report to the House its observations, opinions and recommendations as required by section 12(3) of the Regulations Act, but before drawing the attention of the House to a regulation or other statutory instrument the committee shall afford the ministry or agency concerned an opportunity to furnish orally or in writing to the committee such explanation as the ministry or agency thinks fit. And the committee shall have the power to employ counsel and such other staff as it considers necessary.

Standing committee on procedural affairs -- 12 members, as above, appointed for this parliament, to review and report to the House its observations and opinions on the operation of the standing orders of the House and such additional matters as may be referred to it by the House or by Mr. Speaker from time to time, and that the committees also have power to review the operation of all agencies, boards and commissions to which the Lieutenant Governor in Council makes some or all of the appointments, and all corporations in which the crown in right of Ontario is a majority shareholder, such reviews to be made with a view to reducing possible redundancy and overlapping; and the committee may not meet during summer adjournments or during intervals between sessions without authorization from the assembly.

Standing committee on members' services -- 12 members, as above, to examine the services to members from time to time and without interfering with the statutory responsibility of the Board of Internal Economy in such matters, be empowered to recommend to the consideration of the House matters it wishes to draw to the special attention of the board; and be empowered to act as an advisory committee to Mr. Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy on the administration of the House and the provision of services and facilities to members, and to draw the special attention of the House to such matters as the committee believes require it.

Standing committee on public accounts -- 12 members, with six from the government party, four from the official opposition and two from the third party. The reports of the provincial auditor for 1980-81 and the public accounts for 1980-81 are referred to the public accounts committee.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak briefly on the motion since it establishes for this session the standing committees that will be empowered to do certain work that is referred to the committees by the House. I will only speak briefly because I am anxious to hear the further items of business that will be conducted this morning before our adjournment.

I do regret, however, that the report of the standing committee on procedural affairs, which has been in our hands for many months, has not been implemented by the motion. To be fair, however, the House leaders and others who had been empowered to make these changes were just beginning to come to grips with it a bit when the Premier (Mr. Davis), in examining the chicken entrails that he looks at each morning, decided there should be an election and so the work on the committee system was stopped.

It should be possible, however, for us to review further the recommendations from the procedural affairs committee and in time to amend the committee system, perhaps even for the fall session. It is something the House might take under consideration. The House leaders might, I would hope and trust, make some recommendations on, or at least work out an agreement that would be acceptable to all members and all parties.

I have often felt, particularly under the present system, which not long ago was referred to as the new system, that we give up an opportunity to establish a certain degree of expertise, particularly as newly elected members, which we all are. If the committees as established corresponded to the specific responsibilities of the various government ministries, then over a period of time we, as members, would have special knowledge not only of the ministers and their deputies, but of those people in the ministries at the senior levels at least who assist in establishing policy and have everything to do with administration.

It would be helpful in my view if, instead of having standing committees that are largely catchall, such as general government and resources development, we actually had a larger number of committees with fewer members dealing with education, agriculture and specific things such as environment, where members, particularly newly elected ones, could arrange, because of their special interest, to be assigned to those committees. Over a period of months and years, if they chose or if it were possible to continue, they would develop a substantial area of expertise.

I should point out that, at least in some measure, that is the system that was used before the present reformed system came in. Like many things, it is sort of cyclical. I think the committee systems at municipal levels and at the federal level also go through similar cycles, that one can always presume that the next turn of the wheel is going to be better than the one we happen to be riding at the present time.

I also believe that inherent in that system would be a more convenient way to deal with the estimates and I believe the committee dealt with a possibility of improving our work on the estimates. One of the things that seems to be least productive and most boring are the many hours that we spend in reviewing the estimates, important though they be. We actually review the expenditure of $17 billion to $18 billion and this is done in the committee rooms for long hours, well into the night, as some detailed questions and some not so detailed are dealt with.

While all of these discussions are recorded in Hansard and are available for the famous record that we deal with and talk about every now and then, it is only on very rare occasions that anything productive comes out of those committees either from the point of view of improving the efficiency of government or what perhaps some of us are looking for somewhere down the list of priorities: catching the government out in yet another failure of administration or judgement, although there are many of those, Mr. Speaker, as you know.

I do believe that if we had a larger number of committees, roughly paralleling the organization of government itself, over a period of a session they could deal with the estimates. Then we as a House could try to emphasize the importance of more general debate on matters pertaining to each ministry in the debate in this House on the concurrence in supply.

I see that the matter is of only limited interest, except that as we start into a session and allow ourselves to be immersed once more in the detailed discussion of estimates as we have done before, it is just like punishing ourselves for not having the foresight to come up with a better system. There is a limit in hours to the discussions that take place --

Mr. Breithaupt: Four hundred and twenty hours.

Mr. Nixon: My friend, the member for Kitchener, said 420 hours, which is absolutely crazy. We drive ourselves crazy here in spending these hours of detailed examination; and we could do it, I believe, in a very efficient way, leaving the issues which might attract broad public interest and support to be debated in this House on concurrence.

It might even be possible when we are reviewing the rules to allow a motion to amend the concurrence resolution to be in order. They were in order for a brief period at one time and then really, through nothing more than inadvertence, we lost the power to amend those resolutions. My feeling is the detail could be done in committee and it is extremely important, but that the general debate on matters of emerging policy or even political interest would take place in the House, where I think more members would be able to participate.

I am also very interested and supportive of the concept of a special committee to deal with each bill that is referred by the House to a committee. The idea that we are going to have so many committees that we cannot handle them is an important objection, but at any one time there are only three or four bills that are being dealt with in committee. I may be wrong in that number. I suppose near the end of a high-pressure session there might be more, but there would certainly be no more than three or four major bills that would have to be dealt with.

As a bill goes forward for debate in this House on second reading, a debate in principle, then those members who have a special interest in the bill could be assigned by the party whips to a special committee -- call it what you like, select committee or anything else, but a committee to deal only with that bill.

There would have to be some order as to where and how they would meet, but essentially it would be up to the chairman of that committee to get that bill reported back to the House after there had been sufficient time for its examination, either with public hearings or without. Once the bill is reported back, that committee would cease to exist. The bill could be dealt with effectively and efficiently in that way, and it would involve the members who are directly interested and involved in the bill, with, of course, access to all members from time to time.

11:40 a.m.

The last thing I want to say is that I certainly do support the recommendation from the procedural affairs committee that we have a private bills committee. This is sort of a special favourite of mine, because my own experience has been that we have lost the flavour of what the private bills committee was in the past -- almost a parliament within a parliament, or a sort of court within parliament, where corporations, municipal and otherwise, and individuals could bring bills before the House for redress of certain specific situations or to amend their charters to improve and expand their powers. The private bills committee was, and is still, in its present function, extremely powerful and does hold almost a complete power regardless of political differences over the proposals brought in from the corporations.

I was always very impressed by and quite interested in the fact that individual members would cross party lines in response to arguments brought from people outside the House and from honourable members themselves. It is nice to think that can happen. In my view, it should be encouraged, particularly in matters such as this.

I am very strongly in favour of the reestablishment of a private bills committee that would deal with nothing but those matters. I hope that as we progress through this session it will be possible for us, as honourable members, and the procedural affairs committee to move towards the implementation of some of those recommendations for the fall session.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few brief points. First, we are not at the present time debating the report of the previous procedural affairs committee, but I and our caucus would like an opportunity and a commitment that that will be done at some point during the course of this session.

Also, if there are going to be any negotiations around loss of estimates time -- and I have some sympathies for the angst expressed by the previous speaker with regard to estimates -- I think we might as well get it on the record right now that the opposition would be very much in default if it did not seek and obtain alternative venues for debate; for example, the opportunity to reply to ministerial statements and/or a combination of opposition days, such as exists in Ottawa.

Third, and I do this as a special request from the House leader of this party, if it is the government's intention or the government House leader's intention when naming the composition of each of the committees that the members of the government party will have the chairmanships of all of the committees except public accounts, then we in the opposition during the last few years have not exercised our authority wherein we should have taken all the chairmanships, having the majority in the House during that period of time.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak very briefly to this motion. I have no real problem with the motion as it has been put before the House today, and I think I have an understanding of what the government House leader has in mind, but I would feel a little remiss if I did not speak, because there were people in all three political parties who spent a great deal of time dealing with the structure of the committee system here.

While it was very easy to get agreement that the way things have always been done is not always the best way to do it, and it was very easy to get agreement on what was not right, it was often difficult to get out of the three political parties, and the members who were present and involved in the preparation of that report, a clear understanding and a unanimous one, which we felt was important, about where to go from there.

None the less, that report on committees was put together and it was struck; so in effect the purpose of the exercise was to design a committee structure that had something in it for everyone: a structure that was acceptable to the government, to opposition parties, to private members, to the cabinet, to the Speaker and, most important, to the people of Ontario, who sent us down here to conduct the business of the province.

While I hardly think any of us would sit back and claim that is the perfect committee structure, it was the best that group of people could come up with after that length of time.

I hope the government will now say that the commitment given last fall to provide this House with an opportunity to debate that report will be carried on some time in the spring session, and that the continuing study of the structure of the committee system here will be allowed to happen.

It seemed clear to me that, while we were not exactly toting around a piece of Nirvana that would solve everybody's problems, we had come up with some practical resolutions to problems that have traditionally plagued all members in this House, that it is worthy of at least that much consideration and that, in the end, we may move to a committee structure that is different from what is recommended in that report.

I think all of us will understand, if we follow the thinking of the members from all parties who sat in and designed that committee report, that there were things in that report that would make the government provide better government, opposition members become more effective and, more important, I guess, this place assume a new function.

And to add to that if there was a need to put a further reason to it, the government itself now has a number of people on its back benches who do not have cabinet responsibility or other experience. There is going to be a need for people to have an opportunity to participate in a committee system here that gives them a chance to find out how this place works, how the Legislature works, how the province of Ontario works.

If, like myself and a number of other members, they come from municipal or school board experience, they will understand that often a way to find out how the joint works is to spend time in committee. There, even though one might be the most junior member on a council, one gets an opportunity to learn and to participate in a way that this House itself, when it is in full session, does not always give one the chance to do some work.

I am sure that now, even on the government side, there is clear and ample reason to design a committee structure that is effective and functional and gives each and every individual member of this House the opportunity to feel, "I am here doing good work for my constituents and I am not here occupying a chair." That, I think, in a nutshell, was the basis of that investigation into committees and all the recommendations in there.

I am very pleased to support this resolution this morning. If I get a gentle nod or wink from the government House leader that, "Yes, we will have opportunity, one Thursday evening, to debate that report on committee and, yes, we are prepared to listen to members on all sides of this House to get a thoughtful and rational redesigning of our committee structure here," if he can give us that, I think he will do all members who sit in this House and, most important, the people of this province, a great service.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, as a former member of the procedural affairs committee, I want to endorse some of the comments made by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) in relation to his duties as chairman of that procedural affairs committee.

I want to say that the thrust of that particular committee as outlined by him during his remarks was to involve not only the people who are in the executive council for the government of Ontario but also the people who are on the back benches of both the government and opposition sides. I hope the structure of the committees, and the structure of the rules in general, will tend to channel the interest of the back-benchers on our side, as well as of those on the opposition side, to a degree whereby they can become experts to some extent and in some manner so that they can make a contribution.

The other thing that I think is very important in terms of committee structure, and the structure of all our rules, is to try to design some kind of system whereby, because we have changed the nature of government at Queen's Park from a minority situation to a majority situation, the opposition back-bench members can feel they can make a significant contribution during the next four years that they are here.

As a member of the government, I want to indicate my openness to change to reach those goals that I think were proper in a minority situation and are still proper in a majority situation.

11:50 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to some of the comments and say a few words about this motion.

The comments I have heard in this House from the honourable members who have spoken are certainly excellent and add to our better understanding of the procedures here.

What we are doing by this motion, of course, is setting up a committee structure for the spring session of this House. For the House to operate properly, we must have a committee structure in place, and this basically puts in place a structure for committees much the same as we had before but with some important differences.

One of the things that is the same is the fact that these committees will operate in the same manner as the committees of this House operated in the last Parliament. In other words, they will structure their own business. They will deal with matters referred to them. They will meet within the time guidelines decided upon, usually by agreement of the parties, so that we do not have confusion of meeting dates with the committees.

They will be able to appoint subcommittees and they will be expected to do some budget planning within the general guidelines of the Board of Internal Economy. They have a fair degree of autonomy to run their affairs -- in fact, I would say a great degree of autonomy -- and I think that is the way it should be for committees of this House.

What this motion does is a little different from what we had in the last Parliament. Before I get into that, I would like to preface those remarks by adding my words of commendation and congratulations to the member for Oshawa. I believe he served for about four years as chairman of the procedural affairs committee during the last Parliament, and I would say that committee, with members from all sides, did a very commendable job. They produced many reports for this House which helped to guide the smooth operations of the House. The last report was probably their greatest effort, and that was the report on the proposal for a new committee system. It has already been referred to by my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).

The comments prompted me to look for the minutes of the meeting that the House leaders and the whips held, as I announced we would, as the House adjourned last December. We had one meeting where we started to review the report. There was a degree of agreement on some of the issues and there was disagreement on others but as I remember, and perhaps my friend remembers also, we certainly decided at the end of that meeting that we would need a number of other meetings to come up with a new system that we could recommend to this House and that had some degree of agreement.

That is in no way downplaying this report, which was the work of a dedicated committee and a group of people who worked hard to try to find a new committee system. I guess, as my friend knows, it is always easier to take somebody else's work and start looking for the little fine tuning in improvements that one can put into it than it is to develop a whole new system. We were beginning on that process of fine tuning.

What that leads me to say is that I think that work should continue, and in this group of committees we are setting up today the procedure --

Mr. Conway: Did the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) ever get to Canberra?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I do not know. The honourable member will have to ask him.

What that leads me to say is that the procedural affairs committee will be reconstituted. It will be looking at the standing orders, and it will be looking at the procedure and proposals for a new committee system, but I say to my friend that I certainly give him my assurance that we will continue our study of the committee structure as proposed in that report. I am sure the other House leaders will do so. We will continue the work we began last December when we decided to look at the report.

The only other thing I would like to say is that some of the recommendations in that report, while not directly put into effect, are beginning to be put into effect in this motion, because we have adopted the proposal for smaller committees. While the report suggests 10 as the maximum, I think those who study the makeup of this House, the proportion who should be on the committees and so forth, will find that, practically, to do what we want to do, we all agree we must establish a maximum of 12.

Mr. Conway: The member for St. George (Ms. Fish) is looking very expectant.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We will be there in a minute. I think 12 is a good number, and it is probably the lowest number to achieve the ratios that must be achieved and have the principle of small committees apply.

Carrying that one step forward, the next motion we are going to vote upon, for substitutions, will allow to happen what has been recommended in regard to considering bills. While we will not be setting up special committees, if we all agree then we can send those members who most want to be on one of the regular committees to consider a bill to substitute for that particular piece of legislation.

When a certain bill is referred to committee from this House it will be referred to a small committee of 12 and, through substitution arrangements of all parties, it can have on it those members of this House who are most directly connected with that bill for consideration of it. When that bill is finished, those members can be substituted for by someone else who is interested in the next piece of business of that committee.

Therefore, I think we have started on at least the spirit of those recommendations.

I certainly agree with my friend that we have to look at the number of hours allotted for estimates.

Mr. Nixon: No, that is not the same thing.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I understand what the member is saying, but I heard mention in this debate of certain quid pro quos and I hope that spirit of co-operation would exist here, because certainly at some time when the standing orders are reviewed, we are going to have to look at the whole time allocation for estimates and so forth. We all recognize that. Our point of view in that matter may be different from that of the official opposition and the third party, but certainly it is one of the things we want to look at.

I think the passage of this motion and then fleshing it out by the naming of the members of the committees, which we can do early next week, will set the further order of business of this House in motion. I hope the members will pass this motion today.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Wells moved resolution 2 on the Order Paper that, unless otherwise ordered, substitution be permitted on all standing committees provided that written notice of substitution is given to the chairman of the committee before or early in the meeting.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might be permitted a question on that. This is just a normal substitution motion that is put, but in the past we did have, for example, procedural affairs which did not provide for substitution. There was much debate and good reasoning on that. I take it this motion does not preclude the precedents that were set before. Or does it?

Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to that, Mr. Speaker, I would say to my friend that this was discussed, and it was decided by all present that the idea of substitution on the procedural affairs committee should be allowed, but that it would be up to the parties; then and if by agreement they decided they did not want a substitute, they would not. But that again was done in the spirit of co-operation. All having expressed an opinion on it, it was felt that the general principle of substitution should apply to all committees.

12 noon

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on the matter of substitution, without nitpicking on it, it just says, "by written notice of substitution." Will we be following any formality as to who will be providing that written notice, whether it be by the whip, the House leader or some other individual, or by the member in person? Is there any explanation of that?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I am breaking the rules by speaking again -- it is really not a question-and-answer period -- but the procedure for substitution will be laid out by the House leaders. This is just the general overall principle that the House is affirming, that there can be substitution and the general manner in which it will be done, and we will set the ground rules as to how it will be done by agreement.

Motion agreed to.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Ms. Fish: Mr. Speaker, let me echo the remarks that have been made by others in this House in congratulating you on your appointment. I share the thoughts of many of the other members who feel, certainly from greater experience than I in this assembly, that your role in ensuring the fair and efficient proceedings in this House is critical to us all. Certainly, we have seen your fine handling of some challenges in these few days.

May I also extend to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor best wishes on his first speech from the throne and extend to him and to his good family my thoughts and wishes to welcome them in the riding of St. George many times in the future.

As well, I would like to extend to my leader, the Premier (Mr. Davis), congratulations on this his tenth year serving not only as the leader of my party but also as Premier of this province.

It is indeed an honour for me to rise today and to commence the next few years' service with him as leader and as Premier. I have noted over 10 years of watching him, particularly from my vantage point in dealing with urban issues at city hall, that he has demonstrated a considerable sensitivity and understanding of the many and diverse issues that have confronted this province over the years and that confront him on a daily basis.

It was very much those qualities of sensitivity and understanding, and I might add considerable integrity, in dealing with matters of the day that led me to make a very serious decision to leave municipal politics and enter the world of partisan politics, to seek nomination for the good riding of St. George.

I would be remiss if I did not also comment upon how proud I am to be a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. In my view, my party has displayed a similar sensitivity and understanding over the years in dealing with diversity in this province and in leading this province to a better future. Indeed, it has displayed a sensitivity and understanding that has been the hallmark of not only its present leader but also all of its leaders over time, which in my view forms the basis for the vote of confidence that my party has been given over the years in this province and most recently on March 19.

Let me also take a few moments to pay a word of tribute to the former member for St. George, Mrs. Margaret Campbell. Mrs. Campbell and I do not share the same party affiliation, but we do share a common commitment to service to the people of St. George, to Toronto and, indeed, to Ontario. Mrs. Campbell had a very distinguished record of public service, a record that spanned many years, through municipal politics and most recently as a member of this House. She was indeed a pioneer for women in many areas, in the professions and in politics, and she understood the complexity of urban life in a downtown riding and spoke up for the particular needs of constituents in St. George. It is my honour to follow in Mrs. Campbell's footsteps in serving the people of St. George.

The challenge that faces all of us today is really the challenge of a changing society, and I have had occasion to contribute to those changes here in Ontario. I am very proud to be standing before the assembly today, Mr. Speaker, and before you, as a new Canadian, having chosen as I did some years ago to leave my country of birth and to come forward to Toronto and to Ontario. I moved as an adult, and I moved with an understanding and a clear choice. Some of the reasons I moved are reasons that I think speak to Ontario, to our quality of life, to the strength of our institutions, to our traditions of tolerance and compassion, all of which I believe came together in a fashion that made Ontario truly a land of opportunity and have led so many like myself to leave their native lands and come forward to build new lives here.

There have been a number of changes in the society, as I mentioned. They are changes that have occurred all across Ontario. They are changes that perhaps we have seen more particularly occur in the last few years. Certainly our society is not the society that I looked at in the mid-1960s. We have seen changes in the economy, changes in extraordinary investment patterns that have moved some of our national investment and shifted it to the Maritimes and to the west, away from central Canada. We have seen startling inflation rates, high energy prices and an uncertainty of supply. We have seen, most recently with yesterday's announcements, record-breaking interest rates, notably in the Bank of Canada, and filtering as that does through interest rates throughout our society.

We have also seen some considerable changes in the social fabric of our society. We have seen a real ageing. We have seen extensive longevity in our society, which means that our people are living longer and our society is becoming older. At the same time, we have seen some considerable drops in the birth rate in our society. We have also seen considerable change in our lifestyles and our social values and, of course, changes that are brought by those like me who came as new immigrants to this country and who have put down our roots in this our new land.

These changes have occurred across Ontario, but I might say that I think many of them come into particularly sharp focus in the riding of St. George. Let me take just a moment to go over some of the problems that I think have arisen from the changes in our society, some of the difficulties of adjustment around the edges as we have continued to grow and as we deal with the shifts that by and large have been good but none the less have had some problems associated with them.

I want to point out some of the things, not by way of an all-inclusive list but by way of some illustrations of the problems. Obviously housing has to stand out, certainly in the riding of St. George, as a foremost issue of concern, both in terms of price, which has been spoken to, and in terms of supply. The two are obviously linked: the less housing that is built, the higher the price.

12:10 p.m.

Clearly, some of our problems have arisen from the economic and social changes in our society as we have seen them interacting. Our ageing population has none the less seen a continued high increase in household formation with a continued high demand for units. As well, the shifts in energy pricing, inflation and interest rates have seen a lessening desire on the part of many people who in the past were moving farther and farther away from the central city and now are wanting to return and to compete for scarce space and to deal with rare lands that are available for all of our uses.

We have seen a flow on from that, a change in our urban form. We have seen the traditional patterns of our cities that have their centre areas predominantly for commerce with ring upon concentric ring of residential area, all of which forms were developed around reliance on the automobile and an assumption that the only way we would get around in our cities was by automobile.

As we have seen again those changes in our economy and society that I spoke about earlier, we have seen as I mentioned a return to the city and we have seen a circumstance where the patterns of travel to work and return to residence simply will no longer tolerate a car-reliant society. We have also seen a continued congestion of our cities and pollution that comes from one of the major polluters of our cities, namely, the internal combustion engine.

We have seen a continual effort on the part of our local governments to deal with the shifts and changes, but not always as quickly as necessary and not always as precisely as would be desired.

In particular, I am thinking of the stresses that are placed on some of our transit systems as we see the shift in the use of our cities.

As well, with our ageing population, and particularly with the inflation that we have experienced, we find a problem that results from the benefit of longevity of many of the people in our population. We find a problem that deals with their economic circumstances, with the problems of seniors who are retired and living on pensions or on their fixed incomes with the ravages of inflation that confronts them.

We also find a social problem that confronts us, the social problem of people who are healthier longer, who are living longer, who have had a tendency and a trend, which we in government have encouraged, of leaving their main careers earlier, of continuing to play a useful role in our society as vibrant and dynamic contributors to our society.

We have the concomitant problems of ensuring that our seniors will be able to maintain independence in their lives, to remain as independent as they wish for as long as they are able. These are some of the difficulties that we are seeing.

I might note that the problems of seniors are actually in large measure the problems of women, because most of our seniors today are women. The problems of women are not confined to the problems of those in their sunset years; the problems of women also flow right through our society and through all age groups.

We have seen a considerable change in the patterns of women following careers, of their entry and re-entry into the job market. We have seen, along with that, a very poor fit that has often arisen and particularly affected women between the skills they had acquired and the skills demanded in the jobs that are available.

We have seen a trend through our society over the years of a significant rise in single-parent families, a rise that has also meant that most of those families are mother-led. That trend also places yet another burden upon so many of our women of working age as they seek to adjust to the choices that are available to them of family and career, and as they realize that for so many who are single parents there is no choice of either/or; there is the necessity of both.

As well, we have seen shifts that have occurred from the changes I mentioned earlier in economy and society in the growth industries of the past. When I speak about growth industries that are going to have to make some very significant adjustments, I am not speaking, as one might think, of some widget maker out in the way. I am speaking of industries like education, which I think in fairness must be treated as an industry, facing considerable need for adjustment and radical review.

For example, in the riding of St. George alone, I look to the significant impact of the declining birthrate on the drop in enrolment and on the threat of closure of our schools. I look as well to the increases in labour unrest in our schools. I look to the concerns faced by the graduates who are finding that the curriculum in their schools and the training they have received do not always provide an adequate fit, as they enter the job market, with the jobs that are available.

As well, the area of education, by way of illustration of a growth industry, is being placed under fire even further by the singularly unfortunate initiatives that have been announced by the federal government in suggesting very sharp and severe cutbacks in the social spending envelope.

The other areas of adjustment that have occurred as we have seen changes in our society are perhaps not so obvious. One of the most unfortunate areas that I have had occasion to witness over the last several years in living here is that as we have seen a real drop in overt discrimination in our society we have seen an unfortunate increase in far more subtle forms of discrimination. We have seen the work of groups like the Ontario Human Rights Commission made increasingly more difficult as those few among us in Ontario resist the spirit of tolerance and compassion that was one of those aspects that brought me to this province, and they seek to find ways to move around the spirit of our laws if not the letter of our laws.

We have seen that some of those forms of subtle discrimination have carried over into other specific areas of the community. I note in particular -- quite relevant, for example, to my riding of St. George -- the very unhappy incidence of increases in police-community tension, increases from which this House in this session cannot turn aside.

This is not a full list of the problems and changes that have occurred, either in St. George or across Ontario. It is meant to be a representative list to give some notion to this assembly of some of the challenges that are facing us.

I must say that, having gone over some of the problems and having a number of them brought into particularly sharp focus in the recent 44-day exercise that all of us went through in St. George, I am very pleased to be rising in my place today to be seconding the motion to adopt the speech from the throne. I am very pleased because it is my view -- and I made indirect reference to this in my opening remarks -- that this government, this party and this Premier have the capacity and a proven record of dealing with the changes and problems in our society, and I am confident they will continue to do so in the future.

Let me review again for the House some of the areas that I think are worth reminding members of this Legislature of as we reflect upon some of the problems our society faces. Let us begin with housing. We have heard a lot of debate already about the things that are federal responsibilities. Frankly, I would be hard-pressed to have anybody on either side of this House suggest that housing is not very directly impacted by the monetary and fiscal policies of our federal government. It seems clear to me that is the case and, as I say, I do not think that is going to be disputed by any member of this assembly. In that regard, I would echo the call in the speech from the throne for a first ministers' conference to deal with matters of monetary and fiscal policy.

Having said that, in my view it is insufficient to simply wash my hands and say that there is an aspect to the housing problems that we confront that is intimately affected and influenced by national policy and simply to sit back and say it is up to the federal government to work. Clearly, it is up to the federal government to work, but there are a number of things particularly, and I use the illustration of housing, that can be done here in Ontario provincially and indeed have been done over the years.

12:20 p.m.

For example, I look to the introduction in the area of controlling prices to rent review. That has been the subject of considerable question and exchange already in the very early days of this House and no doubt will be the subject of continued discussion in the future, That is a program that has been under way and has been amended over time; it is a program that I consider to have been extremely successful in speaking to the purpose for which it was brought in, namely, to provide a dampening effect on rapidly increasing rents. I firmly support that program and will continue to do so.

I note as well the Ontario rental construction program which my colleague the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) made reference to in his speech. Our rental construction program has been so successful that an additional $21 million has been added to that program to stimulate development of rental construction by the private sector, enabling starts in this year alone to come up to nearly 15,000 residential units.

The private sector stimulus is not the only area of record of this government. It is noteworthy that it was the Progressive Conservative government that moved to understand and act upon the wisdom of the need for public, private and third sector or social housing, to work co-operatively and to all be strong if we are to see a genuine attack on the further supply of housing and if we are to see housing accommodation that is so needed being built.

I speak of the very strong tradition of the rapid approvals that have been provided by successive ministers of the crown over the years on this side of the House with respect to housing developments and in particular with respect to enabling legislation and amendments necessary in municipal acts to enable private co-operatives and municipal nonprofits to be organized and to get off the ground.

I note that the City of Toronto Nonprofit Housing Corporation, with which I was very much involved over the years that I spent at city hall, could not have begun had they not had the kind of full and determined support that we had from the Honourable John White when he was the minister and, I might add, from successive ministers.

The importance of third sector housing is seen very clearly in St. George. I invite those members who perhaps have not yet set foot into the northwest corner of University and Wellesley, where the riding begins, to go down to the St. Lawrence Market and to look at 44 acres of obsolete railway and warehousing land acquired and developed for nonprofit, private co-operative and private market housing accommodation. It is one of the most successful revitalizations we have seen on this continent of obsolete and outdated urban land, a project in a neighbourhood, in a community, which would not have been possible without the support of this government.

Indeed, that commitment and that understanding, that sensitivity -- I might use that word again -- to the blending of efforts on behalf of the public, private and third sectors was seen again when the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) recently announced the Ontario community housing assistance program, which provides continued support for co-operatives and nonprofits and which seeks to target assistance particularly to moderate accommodation that is to be provided and makes particular reference to assistance for families and rent-geared-to-income units.

It is clear to me that this government, through its initiatives in housing, has well recognized the critical role that municipalities have played and can play as we seek to encourage the additional supply of housing. It is, after all, the municipalities that provide, for example, the zoning permissions and the varieties of other infrastructures and services that are so essential to us.

It is interesting to note that the model on this continent for urban redevelopment, namely, the city of Toronto with its now fully approved central area plan that blends commercial, industrial and residential within the downtown, which was begun seven years ago in the city of Toronto when I was there, proceeded with full government support throughout the entire matter of consideration and approval.

There was full government support and commitment to ideas and notions about our urban areas that affected not merely housing but, the entire matter of form of our urban areas, with its interconnection to transit, to recreation, to the entire quality of life. This proceeded with full government support at a time when there was sharp opposition from quarters that some on the other side of this House have often suggested always have their day and their sway.

It is clear to me that the kind of perception that drew me to stand for office in St. George as a member of this party under this leader was adequately and amply illustrated in the support that was provided in the approvals of the central area plan which, as I noted before, have become a model for the continent.

I speak too of the farsighted development and investment of this government in the Urban Transportation Development Corporation. Certainly, some things were hooted at and criticized at the time they came forward. In my view as a member for a downtown riding that is currently using many of the fruits of that corporation, it was indeed farsighted and valuable to all of us who are living in dense and complex urban areas in the 1980s.

I would look to the entry of the government into support of the intermediate capacity transit system. We are certainly going to be seeing them here in Toronto and I hope in other areas of this province as well. There has been support over the years for the GO commuter system. In the past year alone we will be looking at approximately $63.5 million of government expenditure.

As well, generally in the area of municipal transit, I note the government is expected to be expending something in the order of $178 million in assistance, both operating and capital, to municipal transit systems across this province. I am pleased to note nearly $100 million will be directed to the largest, the most densely populated and the oldest system, that of Metropolitan Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission.

I very much welcome the initiatives indicated by the government to move into the electrification of our transit vehicles, electrification which will enable our transit vehicles to move more quietly, more efficiently and, I might add, to move with considerably less surface pollution occurring in our cities.

These are some of the areas that are perhaps in hard services, as one might describe it. There have been substantial proportions of the current provincial budget applied to the areas of social services. I will give some illustrations. For example, in education alone some $4 billion has been devoted in provincial expenditure. I would note for members of this assembly that $4 billion constitutes approximately 25 per cent of the province's expenditure budget. Nearly $190 million has gone into welfare assistance, some $47 million into family benefit assistance, and in health, a key area that affects us all, nearly $4.7 billion.

These are, again, only illustrations of expenditure in the social areas. They are important illustrations because they indicate the scope of commitment of this government to provide adequate and proper social services to the people in our society and of the full scope of the problem to maintain the support and commitment for which this government has been so rightly known.

I note in that regard that the initiatives announced in the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program in particular, with the focus on investment in growth industries of the future, particularly high technology and so forth, will be extremely important to all of us as we look at our social programs. It is the clear understanding and foresight of this government to secure the tax base of the future that is going to enable us to continue to provide the social services that are equally needed by members in our society.

We have seen a significant record of this government in services to seniors. I noted in the question period earlier this day there was some measure of debate and exchange on some of the aspects of at least one of the programs that has been brought forward. But I would note that the singular aspect that should be coming out of that exchange has been the willingness of this government to attend to the changes in society, to review programs and to amend and alter them as time and circumstances appear to require.

12:30 p.m.

I think that makes good sense, notwithstanding that I will be looking forward as eagerly as some other members of this assembly to the reviews of that program, as well as others, with possible suggestions for amendments, amelioration and change as we proceed into the future.

I note as well that we have, for example, a very significant investment in the Ontario health insurance plan, 24 per cent of whose users receive their assistance premium free. The majority of those, of course, are seniors.

I would also note the considerable support this government has provided to senior citizens housing, particularly senior citizens apartments. It is a support which provides for subsidized units which enable, among other things, a substantial independence of living of so many of our seniors who are on fixed incomes and who simply would not be able to maintain their independence of living, either through reliance upon their present income without support or, perhaps, more unfortunately as well, through the breakdown in the extended family and the growth we have seen in a turning away from older members of our own families, thrusting them on to their own devices.

I would note similar reviews that have occurred in the area of chronic care need, to ensure that the investments we have and the beds we are using are being used most efficiently and occupied by those most in need. There is the expansion and replacement of nursing home beds, the upgrading and expanding of homes for the aged and, of course, the proposals for pension reform that we have seen most recently in the report of the royal commission.

I am pleased at the combination we see from those few remarks of a record of attention and interest in these areas by the government that is continued through the speech from the throne that opened this 32nd parliament.

I would note as well the history the government has had in the area of day care. Certainly that was an issue of particular concern to me and my constituents in St. George. It is worthy of note that in the last year there was an increase of some 30 per cent in that budget, bringing total expenditures to the order of $63 million. They were increases which in the last decade have amounted to something in excess of 1,400 per cent. In 1979 alone, Ontario, with approximately one third of the population of Canada, had approximately two thirds of the licensed day care spaces.

I am interested as well in the references in the speech to the work of the women's bureau, in the Ministry of Labour, that has created new approaches to day care that will be considered. I think it is extremely important that no one on any side of this House become trapped in the notion that there is one way and one way alone to provide care for our children or to provide the support that is necessary for women who are entering or re-entering the work place.

I would note, for example, that we should be looking at the possibility of utilizing our seniors who, I noted earlier, face a considerable problem in searching for and finding continued useful roles in our society.

Of particular personal interest to me, I welcome the initiatives which I expect to be debating in the near future on expansion of place-of-work day care, having been involved as I was in the first place-of-work day care in Ontario established at city hall and opened in September 1980. It is an area that I certainly will be giving considerable time and attention to.

I also note the reviews that have been under way in education which, as I noted earlier, is a growth industry which will require substantial adjustments.

I am very pleased that we are seeing the results of reviews and that this government has had the strength of conviction not to respond to the easy path when we came into trouble in some of our areas, particularly in education, by simply throwing money at the problems. I would note that it takes considerably more strength as a responsible government to step back and review with some care the kind of changes that should occur in the future to respond to changes that have occurred in our society over the last few years. I welcome, therefore, Mr. Speaker, the reports of the secondary education review project, the Ryerson commission on polytechnic education and the committee on the future role of universities in Ontario. All of them are expected to be placing their final reports before us in a very few months.

I note as well the initiatives in BILD, which might not normally be thought of as initiatives, that are fine tuning that education industry; but in my mind they are, and they are speaking particularly to the initiatives in BILD for training and, notably, retraining of those who are currently in the work place or those who are re-entering the work force after a time.

I would refer as well, with some considerable pride, to the aspects of the speech from the throne that were underlined very significantly this morning by the Minister of Labour and the amendments proposed by this government to the Human Rights Code of Ontario.

I noted in my earlier remarks, Mr. Speaker, one of the areas of problems we have faced in our society is the growth of much more subtle forms of discrimination that have affected so many of us. I am extremely pleased to rise in support of those amendments which I believe will continue to make Ontario a leader in the protection of human rights.

I am also very pleased to refer members of this assembly to the efforts that were made in the closing days of the previous parliament to increase the budget for the Ontario Human Rights Commission to expand the numbers of investigators and to improve the hearing process of complaints brought before it.

I very much look forward to the debate on the Human Rights Code amendments that have been brought before this House and, in particular, I look forward as the member for St. George and as a member of this government party to a continued examination of the changes in our society and continuation to review our Human Rights Code and the operation of our human rights commission to make the changes that are necessary in order to ensure that Ontario remains a leader in the protection of human rights for all of its people in all sectors of its society.

I would as well point members to the very fine work of the Ministry of Labour in introducing equal pay for substantially equal work. I was extremely pleased at the introduction in that area of the work that has occurred in the affirmative action program. I also note that the women's bureau in particular is currently monitoring the legislation dealing with equal pay for work of equal value that now exists federally and in Quebec. I might say that I look forward eagerly indeed to the results and fruits of that monitoring and I, for one, will be most interested in working with the women's bureau and with other members on both sides of this House to find a fair and effective method of implementing the principle of equal pay for work of equal value to which all of us subscribe.

I would as well indicate my pleasure with the commitment that has been indicated by this government to reintroduce civilian review of police, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto. I was appalled at the display of crass partisan politics that occurred in this chamber last spring when that bill for civilian review was introduced in this House. I would note there was a refusal by those opposite to permit that bill to go to second reading and, indeed, to go to committee for full and complete discussion -- discussion by people throughout Metropolitan Toronto who are particularly and directly concerned with the issue; discussion I might say by those within the city of Toronto and particularly within the riding of St. George.

I note that the introduction of this bill having to occur as it does now, in 1981, has foreclosed some of the opportunities that would have been available to the people in the city of Toronto and the riding of St. George had there been a willingness on the part of members of this House to have stopped for a moment their partisan approach to the very serious matter of civilian review and to have seen a bill in place as we proceeded through the last several months. Mr. Speaker, I am indeed pleased with the commitment of this government to reintroduce that legislation, and I trust this time it will proceed to royal assent.

12:40 p.m.

In summary, the remarks I have made should not be misconstrued to suggest either that I have covered all of the difficulties we face or that I have reviewed all of the things I would note as being positive actions by this government. The speech from the throne itself is not an all-encompassing review of the full numbers of actions to be taken by this government or initiatives to be brought before this House, but rather a cataloguing of a possible legislative agenda.

It is in that spirit, which is very much compatible with the traditions on this side of the House, of carefully reviewing the circumstances that we face in our changing society and responding to those circumstances with compassion, strength and leadership, that I am indeed pleased to be seconding the motion to adopt the speech from the throne, and commend that to members of this assembly.

On motion by Mr. Ruston, the debate was adjourned.

The House adjourned at 12:42 p.m.