32nd Parliament, 1st Session



The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the first report, 1981, of the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments.

Mr. Eves: Mr. Speaker, it will be recalled that on June 16 last, it was my pleasure to present to the House the 1981 first report of the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments and to move its adoption. I now speak to that motion.

It is obvious that all honourable members have had ample opportunity to peruse this report and be familiar with its contents. The report that is the subject of my motion is divided into two parts. Part one completed the work of our immediate predecessors, which ended with the dissolution of the Legislature before the committee had had an opportunity to report to the House on the regulations filed during the fourth quarter of 1980.

As a convenience to the members of the House, we attach an appendix to part one of the report, a revised and updated summary of the recommendations of the present committee and the previous predecessor in respect of all 1980 regulations. This summary appears on pages 15 and 16 of the report, and contains 11 recommendations, each of which we recommend unanimously and enthusiastically for adoption.

I would like to highlight a few of those recommendations which I consider to be important.

"2. That authority to designate the powers of officials be retained by the Legislature and not be delegated to the Lieutenant Governor in Council or anyone else as has been done in the past in a number of cases..."

"6. That the persons involved in the preparation and processing of regulations should not attempt to amend the authorizing act by way of a regulation without specific authority in the act for so doing..."

"9. That the Legislature should not delegate to the Lieutenant Governor in Council or to anyone else authority to create prohibitions in regulations. Prohibitions should be provided for in the act where they can be scrutinized and debated in the House and its committees."

"11. That this committee be empowered to sit between sessions of the House."

Part two of the report deals with our examination of all regulations filed during the first four months of 1981, some 241 in number. Of this number we found only 13 that, in our opinion, were irregular in some respects and which we felt necessary to bring to the attention of the House.

As our order of reference requires, our counsel discussed each of these 13 questionable regulations with the registrar of regulations and then with the legal officers in the various ministries concerned. In addition, as chairman of the committee, I wrote each of these ministries responsible for these regulations pointing out the committee's views and comments.

In due course replies came from most of the ministers. Some agreed with the views of the committee, others were noncommittal and still others disagreed in whole or in part with the comments of the committee. As time permitted, the ministers' opinions were incorporated in the report in order, in all fairness, to indicate the different views that did in fact exist.

The committee, as did its predecessor, takes the view that where doubt exists or differences of opinion prevail as to any alleged irregularity with respect to a regulation, appropriate immediate action should be taken at the first opportunity to remove all doubts. The committee recommends that this principle be followed in the ministries and agencies of government.

Another matter of concern to the committee was the regulations that were given retroactive effect without any statutory authority for so doing. It should be pointed out that the regulations to which this criticism applies did confer or bestow benefits of one kind or another and certainly none of them affects the rights or privileges of people in any kind or way. Nevertheless the committee reiterates the position taken in the seven previous reports and which was enshrined in the guidelines adopted by this House in December of 1979. It reads, "Regulations should not have any retroactive effect unless clearly authorized by statute."

Perhaps members will permit me to add that it appears the committee's work in this field is having a positive effect as statistics show that the number of contraventions of this guideline are fewer and fewer as time goes by.

Another recommendation of the report now before the House for adoption is that section 22 of the Interpretation Act be moved to a more appropriate place in the statute. It reads:

"The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations for the due enforcement and carrying into effect of any act of the Legislature and, where there is no provision in the act, may prescribe forms and may fix fees to be charged by all officers and persons by whom anything is required to be done."

Obviously this old provision has nothing whatsoever to do with interpretation and is lost in its present position in the statutes. The committee feels that probably the proper place in the statute books would be the Regulations Act itself.

I submit on behalf of the committee that the report now under debate should be adopted. In closing, I should like to tell the House it is the intention of the committee this winter to make a study in depth, as is being done in other jurisdictions, of the controversial subject known as notice and comment. As stated on page 26 of the report, we would welcome any input that anyone inside or outside the House would care to make on this topic.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Chairman, one of the problems I have never resolved in life is how to be in two places at the same time. My initial obligation is to be at the Agriculture and Food estimates in the resources committee, but I do want to say a few words on this and I express my appreciation to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) for allowing me to say a few words on this before I go back to my primary obligation.

8:10 p.m.

This is not the sexiest committee in the world or the sexiest committee in the Ontario Legislature. However, I want to suggest seriously that it is in its own way, in its full job, one of the most important committees. Not only do I not object to being a member, I even desire to be one.

In my recollection over the last quarter century or more, one of the things we have discussed so many times is the problem of how one gets an appropriate balance between an act passed to lay down the general framework of a statute and the regulations that are going to be used to implement it. There has been a tendency in the past to view the act as a skeleton while the real flesh on the skeleton was in the regulations. The longer we have lived with that kind of situation the more we have realized that it is a denial of the right of the Legislature to review the powers that are given in the act and to lay down clearly what exercise of powers beyond that should be permitted in the regulations. I think we have made some measure of progress in that; however, the problem still exists.

One point I would like to make in connection with this committee -- and it is a point I would make in connection with any committee in this Legislature, standing or select -- is that, for reasons which are readily apparent, a committee is only as effective as the staff who are assigned to it. That is not a derogation of the honourable members who are the jury on the committee and who presumably make their report to this House.

If there ever was a case in which the real work of the committee has to be done by the staff -- and it is impossible to suggest that it should be done by members of this Legislature who happen to be members of that committee -- it is this committee. There are something in excess of a thousand regulations a year. To suggest that any member of this Legislature is going to sit down, read through all those regulations and comprehend them is asking the impossible. We have too much on our platter.

One of the things that makes this committee a very effective one is that we have as our sole staff member Lachlan MacTavish, a former senior legislative counsel to the Legislature, who was involved many times in his public career in the framing of legislation and things of that nature. Mr. MacTavish is the person who does the joe work, if I may describe it so ungraciously. It is he who goes through a thousand regulations, God help him, and comes to a conclusion as to which of them are in violation of the prescribed rules we have laid down. He brings them to the committee, and we have to accept his judgement. We have neither the capacity nor the willingness, to put it bluntly, to go back and find out whether he is exactly correct.

Perhaps I can illustrate the point briefly. On page i of the report, in regard to the order of reference for this committee, it states that the committee has to adhere 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." In other words, the regulation has to live within the framework of the statute; if it goes beyond it, it is going beyond its legitimate role.

"(b) Regulations should be in strict accordance with the statute conferring of power, particularly concerning personal liberties.

"(c) Regulations should be expressed in precise and unambiguous language."

That sounds like a motherhood statement, but too often they are not in the most unambiguous language; or, to put it more accurately, the lawyers discover afterwards that there are alternative interpretations and we get into a great argument.

The main function of the committee, with the staff of the committee, Lachlan MacTavish, doing the basic groundwork, is to examine closely each regulation and ask: "Is it living within the framework of that statute? Is it going beyond what the regulation should do?" If it is, he brings it to our attention. Indeed, to put it more accurately, he discusses with the ministry and the legal people in that ministry whether or why they have gone to where they appear to have reached the legitimate role of a regulation. Sometimes they concede it, sometimes they argue the point.

That is where one gets into ambiguous legal interpretation of the regulation. If he finds he cannot get acceptance from the minister, or even when he does not and he reports it to us, then we report it to the House and we hope we can persuade the ministry not to continue to err in the fashion it has in the past.

But when one stops to realize that we pass maybe 100 statutes in this Legislature -- for purposes of my illustration I take the figure of 100 -- which form the law of the province, what most people do not realize is that the effective law of the province may be in the thousands of regulations that are promulgated within the framework of that legislation. Those promulgated regulations have compelling legal effects. They affect the lives of people. They affect their capacity in the work place. They affect their capacity to earn a living. They are, in effect, the law. They are the flesh on the skeleton that is set down in the statute.

So this extra-legal, extra-statutory role of regulations is an extremely important aspect of any Legislature's operation. That is why this committee may be perceived to be a fundamentally important one, though in our normal operations it is not the sexiest one in the world.

Having said that, I do not want to repeat what the chairman of the committee has indicated, that the committee has completed the last quarter of the year 1980 whose basic material became available to us only this spring, and has gone forward to deal with the first two quarters of this year in terms of the regulations that have passed. We are a continuing committee that picks up from the last Legislature even though this committee has only two members who are holdovers, so to speak, from the last committee. They are the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) and myself, an inimitable pair. We are continuing the ongoing role of the committee.

The only other point I would like to mention is that, apart from what might be described as the routine work of the committee in reviewing these regulations and making certain they are promulgated within the framework of the law, the power set down in the statute, alternatively we challenge whether the statute has given powers that are really irregular and undesirable in the regulation that should be taken back into the statute. If members read the detail of some of the specific instances the committee is reporting to them, they will find there are some of them there.

We are now moving beyond that to how we might improve the situation. I want to do it in the context, if I may, of a comment that I have no particular objection to, although I always hesitate to suggest that this government is doing everything as near to perfectly as possible. On page two you will find the statement: "We now wish to take this first opportunity to set the record straight by stating the committee believes that the system in Ontario" -- that is the system with regard to regulations and how we handle it -- "as it operates from day to day and from year to year is as efficient and as effective as that of any other jurisdiction anywhere of which we have knowledge."

As far as I know, that is an accurate statement. However, like everything else, even the best operating scheme is open to some improvement. That is what the committee has indicated it is now working on.

We are concerned, for example, with the promulgation of new regulations in the Ontario Gazette, which have had explanatory notes that often were not very explanatory. They may be explanatory to a lawyer, although, quite frankly, a lawyer can be bamboozled as easily as the average citizen, particularly if he is in charge of freedom of information, like my smiling colleague across the way.

8:20 p.m.

Certainly from the average citizen's point of view, if one does not have an explanatory note which indicates what the substance of the regulation is, one is not being very revealing. We think there can be improvements there. We have looked at the thing, examined it and come to tentative conclusions. We have deferred our definitive conclusions until we can have a report from Mr. Bill Anderson, the registrar of regulations in Ontario.

However, as the chairman of the committee has indicated, the area about which we are most concerned is the area of notice and comment. If the government is contemplating bringing in a regulation, how does one let those who might be affected -- let me put it more vigorously, victimized by that proposed regulation -- know in advance so they can have an input and the regulation can be made as appropriate and as effective as possible without unwitting victimization or unwitting negative consequences?

There has been a great deal of argument as to how one provides notice and comment. One can advertise in the Ontario Gazette or one can advertise in various other ways. I suppose those who happen to read the publication at a given time will learn about it. But a great number of people who later will be affected do not learn about it. I suppose if one had the most perfect situation in the world in terms of advance notice and comment, one still would have some people who for legitimate or illegitimate reasons do not learn about it and later become victimized.

It is a tough area to come to a conclusion about for an improvement of the act. I am a little puzzled. I have not had a chance to discuss this with the chairman of the committee. I think the proposition was: Dare I suggest we are proposing to travel, not to southeast Asia, not to Florida, not to Inuvik, but to Ottawa. To Ottawa! Does that not shatter one? We are proposing to travel to Ottawa to meet with our counterparts in the House of Commons who are coping with exactly the same problem of more effective notice and comment.

I assume we will learn when we have our first meeting during this session, next week, that perhaps we will have that meeting with our counterparts in Ottawa to be able to get the benefit of their experience. They have been wrestling with this problem for some time, for more time than we have. Hopefully, next year we will be able to come back with proposals for improvements in a system which is as good as anywhere else but -- dare I suggest it? -- is open to improvement. Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have been able to complete my remarks without you chopping me down.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member for York South is the only member of this honourable House who could make this report sexy and even he failed.

Mr. MacDonald: It wasn't even an attempt to make it sexy.

Mr. Nixon: I have been worrying a lot about more effective notice and comment and I feel rather badly that the honourable member is leaving the chamber just when I am about to unload my view. However, I do not want to detain him because, having been here for a number of years, I am one of those people who has always been told by my seniors and by my betters -- and there are quite a few of both of those -- how important this committee is.

I have always been told it is the cornerstone of democracy and that all else would fall if its function were in any way constrained or restricted. I have yet to find any single thing they have done that has been worth a damn. I do not often use that word here but, with great respect, it is the only one that applies.

The only bright thing that was done by some previous chairman, undoubtedly the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams), was to retain Lachlan R. MacTavish, QC, to do all the work. If one can imagine retiring as legislative counsel from this chamber and taking as one's main avocation -- notwithstanding it would be enough to buy the gas to drive down, no doubt -- to take this as a retirement hobby indicates the fabulous capacities of the gentleman under discussion.

I doubt if any member of the committee has read the report. Here I am discussing it and I have not read it. I do not really think it matters whether anybody has read it or not.

In my view, if the 125,000 bureaucrats working for the government were to promulgate a regulation that was duly registered and then gazetted and applied to some group out in the province and that group did not like it, we would hear it much faster than we would ever hear of it in this report or the subsequent reports that undoubtedly will be placed on our desks and those of our successors on into the distant future.

I have no complaint at all with the intentions of the House and the honourable members who have the great joy of responding to those intentions but I, as a House leader, am very hesitant indeed to ask my colleagues to serve on the committee. If there is some chance of going to Australia, maybe that would be a justification. I suppose, God help us, for some people here, the idea of travelling to Ottawa is enough to allow their name to stand, whether or not they attend the meetings.

I personally read the Ontario Gazette as it comes into my home. Sometimes it comes two or three times a week in that fancy packaging that a former Premier's former executive assistant dreamed up after he was demoted to be the Queen's most excellent printer. I mean the printer to Her Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, as the job once was called.

I always leaf through it. I look at the corporation announcements, read through the numbers very carefully and see how high they are getting. I like to read the change-of-name notices. It is always quite interesting and sometimes amusing. I mean what could be funnier than the name Nixon, but other people also have funny names.

I look at the possible tax land sales in Brant and Brantford, as I know does the previous member for Brantford. He has made a few purchases recently. I look to see if there is anything going cheaply up in Muskoka and there never is. Eventually, I get to the regulations in the back.

There are always pages of regulations under the Planning Act which just could not be more boring, or I suppose more important to those people who are having to do with the development of land and so on. Those people hire a lot of high priced lawyers and they examine those regulations minutely and if they impinge on them in any negative way we will hear about it. If the bureaucrats make a little mistake and it is to the advantage of the developers or others, I am sure we would not hear about it until it gets to us from another source.

I am sure the work that Duke MacTavish does in reviewing the regulations is outstanding, world class; probably the best that can be done anywhere. I have no doubt about that, having observed the honourable gentleman. He is honourable, really honourable, not just by sort of act of Legislature and custom. When he occupied the position where he is sitting now -- perhaps I would not be so glowing in my praise if I did not see him in the shadows; no, that is not true either -- he did excellent service here and I am sure is doing excellent service for the committee.

My own view is that I cannot see the value of having this report before us. I was here for many years when we did not have one and there were many members, including I believe the member for York South, who said we should have one. Now we have one, I do not feel that democracy is any safer than it was before.

I should just say in my reference to the member for York South that he has the most amazing personal energy of anyone I have met. That he could throw himself into the work of that committee and find it interesting -- to himself, if not to anyone else -- is a clear indication of what I mean. I have never seen him grasp any subject of the most catholic type, if members know what I mean, without being completely enthused about it and perfectly knowledgeable and extremely supportive of its intent. I can say that now that he is sort of a senior citizen.

I suppose anybody who is in the NDP must have that. I do not want to be in any way disparaging of the work of my colleagues in this committee, because we as a House have decided it is important, but I for one do not agree. I think we ought to save some time and some money and some wear and tear around here and do away with the committee, even if we retain Mr. MacTavish, QC, as sort of our own little Ombudsman to keep his eye on the regulations.

He could give us a report every year. We will get him a nice office somewhere and we will buy him the gas for the limousine he may or may not still drive, I do not know -- he always used to have a nice car -- and he can give us one of these things, and if there is anything in it he can phone up the member for York South or me or somebody and say, "Listen, you had better look at page 32, because there is a real blockbuster in there." That is all the protection we need, besides the kind of open approach to regulations that we have: they are printed, they are distributed, they affect people and those people can respond to us, and you know that we will respond to the people.

8:30 p.m.

Hon Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, after that very pleasant and enjoyable speech -- and I share a lot of the sentiments in it -- I am not going to try to get too serious, but I would like to explain briefly why I am speaking tonight on this.

In our last Parliament I was, briefly, a member of the standing --

Mr. Stokes: If the minister has to explain why he is speaking, he probably should not.

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: The member should just listen to this and then he will understand not only why I am explaining it, but why I am reluctant to carry on.

In the last Parliament I had the brief pleasure of being a member of the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments along with our colleague the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Cureatz). The committee then met every Thursday morning, and he and I used to alternate, each of us attending every second Thursday, and he occasionally used to try to skip out of his end of the bargain. The two or three meetings I attended in all of the last Parliament were not among the highlights of those four years. But I certainly want to join those who expressed their compliments to Mr. MacTavish, whose work I admire even if I could not begin to duplicate it.

But more to the point, I am speaking on this tonight as chairman of the regulations committee of cabinet, and I would like briefly to do two things: explain how that committee operates, because I think there are a goodly number of members of this assembly who do not understand the workings of that committee, and, further, explain the relationship, such as it is, between the regulations committee of cabinet and the standing committee whose report we are debating tonight.

I would first of all like to compliment the new chairman of the standing committee on his first work in the early spring session, bringing in this report, in his opening comments tonight. I know how much work the former chairman of the standing committee, my colleague the member for Oriole, did in the last four or five years, actually; and while I am not a lawyer and have had pretty light attendance, as I admitted, I know from Mr. MacTavish and other counsel in the building how much that committee did accomplish.

The regulations committee of cabinet is chaired by me, a Minister without Portfolio. It has in the past been chaired by other ministers, though not always Ministers without Portfolio. The members of that committee are the parliamentary assistants. As the members know, we now have approximately 20 parliamentary assistants, the bulk of whom are new members of our caucus.

Mr. Stokes: So that is what they do. I often wondered.

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Well, that is one of the things they do. I cannot account for their hectic schedules seven days a week, but I know that every Tuesday from noon until two o'clock the parliamentary assistants and I meet in this building and, with the assistance of our staff and the attendance of the ministry officials whose regulation is being looked at by us, we scrutinize the regulation and we pay particular attention to matters that were discussed earlier: retroactivity and clarity of language.

Quite honestly I think we spend even more of our time asking: "Is this regulation even necessary? Who wants it? Who in the public is affected by it?" I am proud to say those are consistent kinds of questions that come from my colleagues the parliamentary assistants. I guess everybody's experience on this side of the House has been that it is easier to talk about deregulation than to do much about it. But when we talk about deregulation we none the less, through persistent questioning of that nature -- "Is this regulation required? Who is affected by it?" -- have been instrumental in beginning to alter the trend towards increasing the number of regulations that affect us in society.

Let me give one or two statistics here to make my point. Of 1,141 regulations filed in 1980 only 39 of them have been singled out for mention by the standing committee. In other words, the overwhelming bulk, 97 per cent, of the regulations passed by the regulations committee of cabinet, after scrutiny by a counsel and the standing committee, were gone over and approved without comment.

The number of regulations filed has decreased quite dramatically. I will go over two years. The total regulations filed from January 1980 to January 1981 were down 26 per cent. The absolute number for the period from January to September 1981 is still a high one, 359 regulations passed by our committee, but is down from 488 or 26 per cent. I think this trend is an important one and the desire to keep that trend down would be shared by my parliamentary colleagues on that committee.

The government is continuing its efforts. We will hear later on from the committee that will speak about the agencies, boards and commissions report. The government is continuing its efforts to revise and simplify regulatory procedures and to eliminate regulations where possible.

To take one recent example which I think was within the last couple of Tuesdays, a large part of our agenda was spent with the matter of record retention. For some time now, with the assistance of staff from the Management Board of Cabinet at our regulations committee, there has been a major attempt to clarify each of the ministries and, more important, to clarify for our client group, the taxpaying public, how long records should be retained. We have begun to make what will be a series of important changes in this area.

The matter of retroactivity and its importance has been touched on. I am not a lawyer but I do recognize a regulation is an inferior instrument, inferior or junior to a piece of legislation. It cannot take away that which has earlier been given. We talked about the matter of clarity of language.

I was interested to hear the member for Parry Sound talk about their fall and winter program. I know they have a number of matters other than just sifting through the regulations we pass which they are going to cope with. On the matter of notice and comment, I have spoken to the member for Parry Sound briefly about that in the past. There is a question about positive and negative resolutions. That may be one excuse for them to travel to Ottawa where there are discussions about that as it affects regulations.

I would say a couple of things in closing. The members of the regulations committee of cabinet respect the work this standing committee has done. We know that, among other things, they are monitoring us, as it should be. We look forward to their fall and winter study and their next report.

The chairman of that standing committee is welcome at any time to attend our Tuesday meetings. I would hope if time permits during this session and the standing committee's agenda would allow, as chairman of the regulations committee of cabinet I would be delighted to sit in on any of the meetings. I also would be delighted to explore further with the member for Parry Sound what relationships might exist between our two committees in the interests of getting off the public's back, reducing the number of regulations we have and, at the very least, working towards more clarity in the language of the regulations.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the discussion on a subject I think is of considerable import to this House, notwithstanding the differing views expressed by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. It was indeed interesting to hear the differing views and attitudes between the expressions of opinion put forward by the member for York South and the aforesaid member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

The views expressed by the member for York South were opinions based on actual participation in the regulatory process and were meaningful and, I think, informed comment, highlighting the really unrecognized importance of the regulatory process.

8:40 p.m.

By contrast, we had the views expressed by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk acknowledging that he really did not understand the process and that he had not really been involved in it. He gave credit to those members of the Legislature who had participated on the committee as though it was some sort of drudgery or burden to them, and commended them for their staying power.

He really saw no need for the existence of such a committee or the process which it endeavours to fulfil. I detected in his comments a bit of levity and a certain amount of scorn and ridicule with regard to the process. However I think if one is going to address the subject seriously he can do so by taking heed of the views that have been expressed by one of the working members of the committee other than myself -- the aforesaid member for York South. He endeavoured to awaken the interests of the members of the Legislature this evening by using the terms referred to by the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes).

Though it may not be the most exciting responsibility, I have to concur wholeheartedly with the opening observation of the member for York South that it is one of the most important areas of responsibility and yet one of the most unrecognized functions of this Legislative Assembly and its members.

I guess that is the reason why the regulatory process is always referred to as the area of secondary legislation. It takes a back seat to the statute laws that are enacted, that establish the policy of the land. That policy is only for stating a principle of how the public shall be governed under these laws that are established. The actual administrative ways and means of making those policies work are really the nuts and bolts of the whole process.

Without the regulatory process, it would be totally an impractical process. While we can set out in the laws what the order of society shall be and that these laws should be respected by the people there has to be some guidance given to determine exactly how these laws can be administered as they relate to the people and the people relate to those laws.

This is what is so important, as was I think expressed by the member for York South. It is really the flesh on the bones of these statute laws themselves. It is unfortunate that too many members of the Legislature do pay nothing more than lip service to the process and to the importance of the secondary legislation commonly known as the regulation.

What I find of interest is that in the process we are really looking at two things within our own jurisdiction at this time. One is to bring ourselves to a position of having complete control of the situation -- knowing where we are with regard to regulations and being satisfied that regulations that have been enacted are consistent with the ground rules laid down by an earlier committee, on which I had the privilege of serving as chairman.

As has been referred to by speakers before me, a great deal of that credit goes to one gentleman, Mr. Lachlan MacTavish, who has served as counsel to the committee and who really has been the moving force in terms of dealing with that aspect of the work of the committee that relates to the vetting of the regulations.

When I was appointed chairman of the committee back in 1978, we were faced with the matter of getting a handle on regulations and being assured the regulations already in force and in effect were serving the purpose and were within the intended, albeit unpublished or informal, guidelines at that time.

A certain disarray at that time existed simply because, as has been pointed out by others, the sheer volume of regulations made it a physical impossibility, given the other heavy responsibilities and work load of elected members of the Legislature, for them collectively to go through each and every regulation, to sift through them and satisfy themselves that the guidelines were being clearly followed.

A new process had to be developed, and in 1978 the conventional wisdom was that we must have qualified counsel to assist the committee in the process of vetting the regulations. The idea was that that party would then bring to the attention of the committee those regulations that justified being singled out for consideration regarding their compliance with what was the appropriate type of regulation, given the informal guidelines that existed at that time.

I too have to add to the accolades bestowed on Mr. MacTavish in the excellent work he has done in dealing with that aspect of the ongoing work of the committee. From the time we started back in 1978 he had that responsibility of going back many months to try to pull together the regulations and start the vetting process.

Now, as we come to the report we are discussing this evening, the first report for 1981, one could not be more up to date in the vetting process as to the awareness that the members of the committee would have with regard to any discrepancies or failings in the regulations. The report clearly points out that it addresses itself to the regulations right up to and including the first four months of 1981.

In other words, through the efforts of Mr. MacTavish -- and there is no question it is a very laborious, time-consuming process -- through his diligence, hard work and dedication, he brought us right up to date. Neither he nor the committee could be more current in its reporting than it is in this report -- in effect, making recommendations with regard to regulations hot off the press.

8:50 p.m.

Mr. Cureatz: I could not help hearing some comments over the squawk box made by the illustrious Minister without Portfolio (Mr. McCaffrey) indicating my lack of attendance on this wonderful committee. I want to point out that as a member of that committee for three full, long, hard years, from about 1978 to 1981, the only time I ever saw the minister there was when he would wander in, eat a package of sesame snaps and then leave. I just want the record corrected on that point.

Mr. Williams: Concluding on that point, I am delighted to see the committee is as current as it can be with regard to the vetting process. I am satisfied the activities of our committee are at as high a level as one will find in any comparable committee in any other democratic jurisdiction. I can say that with some authority, having had the opportunity to participate in the first Commonwealth conference of delegated legislation committees that was held last year in Canberra, Australia.

At that time, I had an opportunity to prepare a paper indicating the position of the regulations committee of Ontario and to set out its historical evolvement, its current ongoing work and the directions in which we appear to be moving in this field in Ontario. I had an opportunity at that time not only to present that paper, but also to supplement it with additional remarks during the sessions. I came back from the conference much more aware and even more appreciative of the importance of the regulatory process after having been exposed to the experiences recounted by other delegates to the conference from other Commonwealth countries.

There was excellent representation at the conference. It was a most productive conference. There were representatives there from the Australian government and all its states and territories. There were representatives from the federal government of Canada, as well as myself as chairman of the committee representing Ontario and the chairman from the comparable committee in Saskatchewan. In addition, there was representation from Commonwealth countries in other parts of the world such as Guyana, India, Papua, New Guinea, Zambia and, of course, the United Kingdom. Each and every one of those countries was well represented and actively participated in this first conference of its kind. I think it was important it was a successful conference as it was the first of its kind. It was a most productive and enlightening conference.

I would hope the committee in its ongoing work will have an opportunity to review the transcripts of the proceedings and the report of the conference, as well as the supporting documentation that was filed, including the written briefs from the different jurisdictions. It became clear to me, as I indicated, that nowhere is there a more active committee than the one in Ontario. Not many of us in the Legislature today remember that in earlier years we reached a point of slackening interest in the process and some scepticism about the value of the committee and its ongoing work as was expressed here earlier this evening by one of the members, to whom I referred.

It would be a sorry day if the work of the committee and the committee itself were disbanded, as was suggested. I am sure it was with a certain amount of levity and tongue-in-cheek that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk made that observation. But it would impair the important role of assuring the public at large we do have a secondary legislation practice in place and in good health.

The member for York South mentioned that the committee is planning to go to Ottawa to meet again with their federal counterparts. I say "again," because during my tenure of office as chairman of the committee we did make that long trek to Ottawa. On that occasion the meeting, albeit only a one-day meeting, was most productive and informative. It is appropriate that the committee again will visit with its counterparts in Ottawa because, as the members of the committee will know, in 1980 the federal committee tabled its fourth report. The statutory instruments committee of the federal Parliament tabled a very substantial report on the process and has come forward with some recommendations. They are not revolutionary but nevertheless are recommendations that are going to be the very subject matter of the ongoing discussions of our own committee.

The report tabled in 1980 was discussed at some length at the Commonwealth conference in Australia. It makes recommendations with regard to the notice and comment procedure as well as to the matter of positive and negative resolution process.

There have been different points of view expressed by authorities as to the value of those procedures. Most recently one of our own committees in Ontario, the committee that was set up to study freedom of information and privacy of the individual, dedicated a whole chapter to this important topic. The conclusion of that report was different from the recommendations of the federal committee -- that the notice and comment procedure may have merit if used on a selective basis rather than on a universal basis. So here again we have differing views.

I am sure the committee will be giving high priority, as indicated in its conclusions, to this process to determine once and for all whether, within the context of the operation of this assembly and the committee process as set out in the Regulations Act, changes should be made incorporating any or all of those procedures. I think that will probably be one of the most important reports that will come down from the committee when they come forward with their recommendations in that regard.

9 p.m.

When I was chairman of the committee some discussion was held as to whether or not there was any advantage in having a committee such as this deal with regulations after they have been enacted and have come legally into force. It was because the committee seemed to be dealing with regulations after the fact that interest in the whole process waned.

I think it has become clear because of a new awareness and a heightening of interest in the process, at least from the public at large, that the committee has not found itself inundated with representations from the public dealing with regulations they feel have improperly affected their personal rights and privileges in society. Nevertheless we have had occasions where the public has had an opportunity to come before the committee to discuss regulations.

One of the matters that was under active consideration by the committee while I was there and is under active consideration by the current committee is the notion that thought should even be given to broadening the base on which the public has access to government to complain about specific regulations. It was suggested during my days on the committee that perhaps the committee should be given the authority to sit around the clock, so to speak -- at least at the call of the chair between sessions of the Legislature when it normally would not be sitting -- to deal with urgent complaints. This is a matter to which the committee is addressing itself as well.

When I was chairing the committee we wondered what was happening at the other end of the spectrum -- that is, where the regulations are considered before they come into legal effect, what happens in the regulations committee of cabinet.

Again, having by now been at both ends of the process and having had the opportunity to participate in the regulatory process in that committee of cabinet, I can see it from that perspective. My feelings about the soundness of the system have been reinforced by what I found from my involvement in the process of making a regulation and sending it forward so that it can be duly enacted into law. In my mind it does not in any way diminish the process or the importance of having the standing regulations committee at the other end to take even that second look after the fact.

Although we do go through the proposed regulations in considerable detail and with a fine-tooth comb in the cabinet committee on regulations, there is nevertheless the possibility that something could escape our attention and that of our legal counsel.

Unfortunately, it so often happens the thing that may be overlooked comes to the attention of the government and of the regulations committee only when some citizen finds he has been aggrieved by a certain form or administrative procedure prescribed by regulation.

Without the opportunity to voice these objections and concerns, citizens are blocked from the opportunity to seek redress on a matter they feel was not the intention of the law and to come forward to the elected people, through this forum, to draw this to the attention of the legislators in the hope that corrective measures can be taken.

This is the very important function and purpose of the committee: to be able to report back to the House and to the ministry responsible for having developed the regulations and the statute law under which the regulations are contained.

This is a most important consideration, that the committee remain in place and, if at all possible, broaden its base and the ground rules under which it makes itself available to the public at large.

I am certainly looking forward to, and will follow with interest, the ongoing work of the committee. I hope the attitudes of the members of the Legislature as a whole, beyond those of the members of the committee, will be related more to the attitudes expressed by the member for York South this evening, rather than to those of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

In concluding, I simply want to say that the delegates at the Commonwealth conference in Australia were impressed with the fact that we had this dual process, so to speak, whereby the regulations are considered in detail by the legislators themselves in committee, not only before they are processed by the regulations people but also in having this second look at it through the standing committee process. I believe we were unique in that regard, and it certainly raised a lot of interest amongst the delegates.

We have a lot to be proud of with regard to our process here, with regard to the quality of the workmanship that goes into the regulations, with regard to the efforts of Lachlan MacTavish and his advice to the committee and with regard to the work of the committee members as a whole. I hope there will be strong, continuing support from all sides of the Legislature with regard to the ongoing work of the committee.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, as a member of the committee, I want to add a few words and comments regarding the report.

I listened to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), and he certainly did bring out some points concerning the effectiveness of this committee. As a member of that committee, I have often asked myself what the purpose of this committee is.

The previous speaker led me to believe that we in the committee do have some powers relating to the process of establishing regulations. I find that not to be so. We have very little say in the matter of drafting any regulations that come forward and are advertised in the Ontario Gazette.

We may question, six months or a year after they are published, certain regulations brought to our attention by our excellent legal staff, and we take it from there to draw a judgement on it as to whether it is within the laws of this Legislature.

If I can make reference to the report of the committee, I will give an example of what the committee reviews. This appears on page eight of the report. It deals with a regulation from the Ministry of Labour, regulation 1083/80 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1978:

"This regulation is a ministerial order adopting a certain inventory of biological or chemical agents for the purpose of section 21 of the act.

"The authority for making such an order appears to be subsection 2(3) of the act. It reads:

"'(3) For the purposes of this section, "new biological or chemical agents or combination of such agents" means any such agent or combination of such agents other than those used in one or more work places and included in an inventory compiled or adopted by the ministry.'

"This authority, if that indeed is what it is, is somewhat obscure and can be criticized in that respect.

"However, the committee wishes to bring to the attention of the ministry and the House that the 'authority' forms part of a definition and clearly the language is descriptive only. It does not authorize anyone to do anything. The instances of this kind are, regrettably, common and have been elaborated upon in earlier reports."

9:10 p.m.

What the committee does is review the regulations. If one were to read the regulations that are sent to almost every member of the Legislature, I am sure one would find it hard to follow some of those printed, because they go by certain numbers.

As an example, I mentioned Ontario regulation 1083/80. Then one can go on and have another one, regulation 1075/81 or regulation 1080/81 or something like that. It is advertised in the Ontario Gazette and gives the amendments or the new regulations that may apply or change that, but the average citizen reading that report could not understand what the intent is of that particular regulation or the amendment to it.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Policy.

Mr. Haggerty: If it is policy by regulation, then it is outdated, because the policy should be established in the Legislature and not by regulation. I think there is a lesson to be learned from the Americans. When they set up government legislation, much of the policy as it is put into the act or the legislation is clearly understood by the public, not as it is drafted here in the Legislature, because it certainly does take a legal mind to interpret the act itself and the regulations that follow.

Sometimes it is rather disappointing to the general public that they have to go through such a troublesome process, to hire a lawyer to find out the interpretation of the act and the regulations that follow.

As a member of that committee, I myself find that perhaps too much power is given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, that they can designate what they believe is the interpretation of the act by regulations. I think it is time the Legislature brought in legislation that is clearly understood by the average citizen of this province without going through some legal mind.

The old saying is, "The Legislature is actually geared to the lawyers of this province," and I am sure my colleague the member for Owen Sound (Mr. Sargent) would bear that out tonight, saying it is in a sense a lawyer's field day. How long would the minister say I have been in the Legislature now? He is going to say, "Too long."

Hon. Mr. Snow: Fourteen years.

Mr. Haggerty: Yes. The class of 1967; 14 years, five days and something.

Hon. Mr. Snow: That's too long.

Mr. Haggerty: Too long? We will retire at the same time then.

I suggest that it is time the committee came in with a recommendation that somebody follow those recommendations to make these changes. I have looked at some of the committee's reports from four or five years ago, and they are still making recommendations that whoever prepares the regulations and whoever approves them should be looking at some of these recommendations at least to improve it. But apparently that does not come through. I find out tonight that this is what the Minister without Portfolio does. He approves the regulations.

The minister stands up and invites the chairman in, saying, "If you want to come in and have some input into the formation of these regulations, we will be delighted to have you come." It should be open to all the committee members. Perhaps we might find it more interesting and we might have input, as members of the Legislature should have, to statutes and regulations.

We may have a little input in the area of statutes, but not in regulations. I think sometimes the power is vested too much in the bureaucrats, as is commonly known to the chamber; there is too much power in that area. The subordinate Legislature, I guess is the term I am looking for.

Mr. Justice McRuer's report suggested there is too much power delegated to the subordinate Legislature of Ontario. That is the point that I am concerned about, and I can see it taking place. It is well to have them there to advise the committee on regulations, new statutes or amendments to the statutes and so on, but not to give them that power.

That is one of the things my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was trying to put forward, that there are not enough check valves in the system currently unless it is referred back and power is given to the Legislature itself to make the regulations. I suggest that this is the area we should be looking at.

Mr. Kerr: I have just a few words to say, Mr. Speaker. In the discussion of this report, I have become aware of some of the remarks of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. He is attempting by his remarks, I think, to bring the report to a head. In other words, he is implying that every year there are a number of recommendations and that, for the most part, those recommendations are ignored.

Looking at the report that is before us, I see that six agencies were reviewed, which are set out in this report. I think most of the recommendations are excellent.

Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I suggest that something is slightly out of order, since the honourable member is discussing a report that is not yet before the House. Maybe we could call the next order.

Mr. Kerr: What are we discussing?

The Deputy Speaker: Are there no further members to discuss the report on the standing committee on regulations and statutory instruments?

Report adopted.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the third report of the standing committee on procedural affairs re: agencies, boards and commissions.

Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, the third report on agencies, boards and commissions dealt with approximately six different agencies. I hope most of the members have read these reports, although they are fairly brief in dealing with some agencies that are substantially involved in the governing process of Ontario and are spending a great deal of money in their respective activities.

As all members know, this is an all-party committee, which is holding rather lengthy hearings and is listening to the representations that are made to the committee by the various agencies. Subsequently, discussions go on between the members of the committee and recommendations are made that are included in this report.

I do not want to deal either pro or con with particular recommendations. But I think it is important that the recommendations themselves be considered very seriously by the House and by those ministries and ministers to which they are directed.

For example, the Ontario Educational Communications Authority: If it is the Ministry of Education that is responsible for it, I hope the recommendation dealing with OECA is seriously considered by that minister and her ministry.

9:20 p.m.

The thing that struck me about this particular report was the responses, for example, to the 1979 report. I just do not think they were adequate; I do not think the responses of the ministries that are responsible -- for example, the six agencies that were considered by the committee -- were adequate.

Some of the ministries replied, and some of them did not. Fortunately, the ones that did reply indicated some of the recommendations were adopted either wholly or in part. That is encouraging.

I am looking, for example, at the recommendation dealing with the Telephone Act. The minister indicated his agreement with this recommendation and cited his own initiative in reviewing the Telephone Act.

Another recommendation was that the Ontario Research Foundation should cease paying the Ontario retail sales tax. This now is unnecessary, because of a change of policy in the ministry concerned.

I am also looking at the suggestions resulting from hearing submissions made with respect to the Ontario Food Terminal Act. The response of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) was most inadequate. As a matter of fact, there was no response at all. And if one reads the recommendations, they all make sense to anybody who knows anything about the operation of the Ontario Food Terminal.

I would tend to agree with the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) if we are going to ignore some of these recommendations. They are not facetious recommendations. It is an all-party committee; there has been some study, deliberation and consideration, not only by the members but also by staff.

I suggest that there should be some very good reason why the Minister of Agriculture and Food has not responded to the recommendations of the committee. Everything is not well with the Ontario Food Terminal. There have been rumours, and rumours of rumours for years about the operation of that particular facility. These recommendations would help.

I think it is incumbent upon the House and the Legislature to require an answer from the ministry to recommendations that are made in this particular report.

That is basically all I have to say. I think it is up to the particular ministers to reply to recommendations that apply to their ministries. The report should be much more complete than it is.

I cannot help but feel, with my limited experience on the standing committee on procedural affairs, that it is a very important committee, dealing with tribunals, agencies and boards. I do not know how many are out there, but we manage to listen to six or 10 or a dozen each year, make certain recommendations in respect of their operations and suggest changes, usually positive ones that are necessary. I think there should be a positive reaction from the ministry and from the government.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to join the debate on this committee report. First of all, because I had the pleasure of chairing the committee when this report was put together, I want to pay some attention to the people who served on it.

This procedural affairs committee was founded during the minority government; perhaps that in some way casts a reflection on the character of the committee. It did attempt, through all the time that I was chairman -- and I must say that in this Parliament that tradition has continued -- to provide a forum where members of this Legislature could take off their partisan hats, go down and sit in a committee room and deal with the matter in a way that really was not divided up into three political parties.

They were members of the Legislature looking usually at things around which there were not firm party positions and all the normal barriers, just looking in this instance, for example, at agencies. I think the kind of review that was done by the committee in previous years and again this year is a most useful exercise for this Legislature.

It provides one of the few occasions when, as an opposition member, I actually feel that some of what I think is important about a given agency or way of operation gets transmitted into a report, and sometimes in a vague way, but sometimes in a little more direct way, the report causes an action to occur.

Most of us who came out of municipal politics are very accustomed to the idea that we all sit down and have differences of opinion, but none the less there is clearly a role for us to play, and what we say and what agreement and consensus we can wring out of other people on a committee will make a difference.

The procedural affairs committee has managed to capture some of that spirit in a Legislature where it is very often difficult to say exactly what a back-bench member does in any party. Do they ever cause changes to occur that really make a difference?

The other thing I want to say before I get into my remarks tonight is that we have only one researcher on this committee, a fellow by the name of John Eichmanis.

I would like to point out to this House that I wish we had on all our committees here, and attached to more of the members here, people like John Eichmanis. He can take a rather complex research problem, such as is posed by a review of the agencies, and sort all that information out.

He is sometimes an accountant, a researcher, an auditor, someone who deals with a parliamentary committee by seeking the members' opinions and trying to reflect them when the reports are written. He also provides them with -- it is not really fair to say mutual information, but certainly information that does not have a bias. There is no axe to grind in the information he presents to the committee.

John has done an excellent job for us. So did Graham White, who was clerk of the committee when this particular report was put together.

This is the third report on agencies, boards and commissions, and I think it is reasonable to say that, if we do not have a good handle on everything, at least we are now beginning to be aware of the size of the problem.

I recall, when the committee first began a review of agencies, we were unable to determine from anybody how many agencies were at work in the province, and the rough guess was somewhere between 300 and 800.

I think the number that was finally landed upon, mostly by arbitration, was somewhere around 780 agencies of different kinds working out there, all in different ways, all with different agreements between the ministries -- some with no agreements, some that had been established a long time ago and nobody could really quite remember who these people were and exactly what they did.

At least we have gone through two reports that have attempted to get a little bit of order into the whole field of government agencies. We have picked up on some of the work, for example, that was done by Management Board prior to the establishment of the committee. We have caused an agency review committee to be set up on the government's side. We have heard a little noise about sunset provisions, sunset legislation and a number of other things.

The upshot of it all is that a whole area of intense government activity involving a lot of money and a lot of people in a wide variety of activities around the province has come under some scrutiny in the last three or four years.

This agency report continues the process. We did another set of reviews just before the fall session began and, frankly, I feel quite good that at least the groundwork has been laid for some sensitive and sensible review of all the agencies out there.

Most of the people, who have sat on this committee through three or four sessions now, feel there is a little bit of a response out there; that these people are now coming before the committee understanding that at least somebody cares enough to take a look, to hear what their problems are and to understand, if we can, exactly why they are there. Some interesting observations have come out of that.

I think it is reasonable to say that in this review, which does not take on a great many of the agencies, we have looked at some of the larger agencies at work in the province, and with good reason.

We found with the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, for example, that there is an agency that is perking away, broadcasting regularly, but has some problems of its own; the agency is not able to do what it itself would like to do, sometimes for budgetary reasons and sometimes for technical reasons. We looked at that agency, the first actual major review of the agency itself.

This committee has a little bit of difficulty in saying, with one research person working part-time on the agency itself, that we have done a major review. I would like to pick up on that a bit later on.

Essentially, as members go through this review, they will see that there is one person attempting to analyse for the most part on a paper-flow basis. That is, he asks the agency some questions and they send him some information; then he visits with them and tries to get some grasp on it.

But there is no opportunity for the committee to do things like spot audits or management studies of how the thing functions. It is a rather limited form of review. None the less, for an agency like OECA, which is large both in impact on the public and reasonably large in terms of expenditure of provincial cash, it is interesting to note that it had not had this kind of inspection before.

9:30 p.m.

The recommendations, though they are not exactly world-shaking, are reasonably sensible ones. For the first time, members of the Legislature had an opportunity to voice an opinion on precisely how that agency ought to get its funds.

We made a couple of simple recommendations to take a look at some funding from the private sector and gave a little bit of encouragement to the agency to market a little more aggressively some of the very fine broadcasting material it has.

I do not pretend for a moment that will shake the world, but for an agency like this one it is useful to have the Legislature, in the form of a committee, take a look at its activities and say, "Yes, you are producing some very good broadcasting here, and we would like to encourage you to get the private sector in to provide some funding for it and to market something you have that we think is pretty good."

Members from different areas of the province who were on the committee put forward something that again is not too startling but is useful, and that is that members of this committee strongly support the notion that, if we have a broadcasting authority like OECA, it ought to be available to people throughout Ontario.

There are some technical problems in the Windsor area and throughout the north, and the OECA has attempted to provide some kind of variations to give that service to remote communities in the northern part of the province.

The committee took the position, and I think rightfully so, that if we are supposed to have an Ontario Educational Communications Authority, by its very nature from the inception it ought to have served the total population of Ontario. In this one instance, for example, there are budgetary problems. But, those notwithstanding, I think that is the goal of the communications authority, and the committee was supportive of that.

The final recommendation on OECA was something that we ran into in other areas. These agencies, particularly when they are spending large amounts of money, do not all have the same accounting format; so it is difficult, on the kind of analysis we were able to do, to answer the rhetorical question of whether they are spending public money wisely.

The format is a little different from some of the other agencies we have and, because of the research capacity of the committee, it becomes tough to make a judgement call about whether they are spending money wisely and well.

Certainly when we get into agencies that spend money at this rate, it seems reasonable to me that members of the Legislature and the public at large ought to be able to determine exactly how the public money is spent. We found we ran into a problem with OECA in that regard, and we are recommending again that we use some kind of standard accounting format that would allow this committee, other committees and the public at large to determine that question.

The second agency we looked at was the Ontario Lottery Corporation. Here is an interesting agency at work, certainly one that has changed in nature from all the stated reasons for setting up the agency in the first instance.

The committee went back over previous statements and heard a lot of testimony during the course of the hearing that this lottery corporation was set up initially as a response to all those other lottery corporations that were coming into Ontario and taking lottery money out of the province.

It was rumoured some were doing it illegally, because they had no Canadian licence to operate, such as the Irish sweepstakes. Some were quite proper lottery arrangements that either had gone on in municipalities around the province or were province-wide or Canada-wide lotteries.

The basic premise -- and we recall the statements that were made when the Ontario Lottery Corporation was set up -- was not to get into the numbers racket, not to nationalize the numbers game in the province and not to generate a whole lot of new revenue for the government of Ontario.

The basic premise was a simple one: to straighten out lotteries in the province and see if some of the revenue generated from lotteries could stay here in Ontario. I dare say, though I do not recall it being stated quite this clearly, that part of the purpose of the exercise as well was to see if the government could get in the middle and start redirecting some of that lottery money.

We found that the corporation as it came before us was quite different in nature. It was very aggressive in its marketing techniques and quite sophisticated in trying to analyse who was buying lottery tickets, how many they would buy and whether changing the size of the prizes or the number of draws that were available would make people buy more lottery tickets or fewer.

Some of the members of the committee were rather shocked at the size of the contribution to the government of Ontario's coffers that came from the lottery corporation and were shocked to find that it had crept right up there next to the sale of booze in terms of providing revenue.

We made a couple of recommendations that dealt with the marketing policy, because many of us -- in fact, I think it is reasonable to say, all the members -- on the committee were a little taken aback that the government of Ontario was so hot and heavy into the numbers racket, and so effective at generating revenue that way, because that was certainly a long way from the original intent of the corporation. We expressed that concern again because we were not too clear as to exactly how many lotteries this lottery corporation was going to run.

We went through the testimony before the committee and considered all the very fine distinctions about whether this was a lottery where one bought a ticket on a prize or whether this was a numbers game, and we saw in some of the recent efforts by the lottery corporation that there was a very fine line there and that the original premise of buying a ticket on a prize had changed somewhat into a game format.

It was not clear to us what would prevent that game format from being turned ever so slightly into a wheel of fortune, or a numbers racket in the truer sense, or a casino-type operation. All we could find that would offer guidance to the committee on that was a few statements by various ministers as to whether they would or would not allow casinos in Ontario. We could certainly see that the lottery corporation itself, from its early agreements and from its stated purpose of being, had changed in nature substantially; it had become a kind of force unto itself.

One other area where we found things were a little questionable was on the system that was there to distribute lottery tickets. We found a little vagueness, quite frankly, in the lottery corporation's answers on whether the rate for commissions for distributors was excessive, fair, reasonable or whatever; so we recommended that we take a little look at that.

The other interesting thing we did, in going through the lottery corporations and recognizing how much money they generate, was to ask the interesting question, "Exactly what does the government do when it disperses those funds?" There is another recommendation in here asking the Management Board of Cabinet to table in the Legislature some kind of guidelines, because we were asking the question, "What do you do with the money after you get it?" We found that the answers were a little scraggly, to be polite about it. In the first instance there were no published guidelines, and then purportedly there were some guidelines, but we were unable to ascertain precisely whether they applied to everybody.

We found some unusual dispensing of the funds. We found, for example, that some of our more established businesses were getting moneys. The purpose of providing money to Bright's Wines or J. M. Schneider's meats was not particularly clear; nor was it particularly clear what their obligations were back to that sector of the economy.

For example, were they really giving to one business in the private sector a rather healthy sum of government money without saying very clearly what they had to do to earn that money? Were they giving them a competitive advantage over the other people who were in business in that particular sector? Were they asking them to do research that would then be shared by all the businesses in that sector?

Quite frankly, we were a little surprised to find that virtually none of this was public knowledge. There were certain people on our research staff who managed to find some information about it, but when the government takes in this amount of money and then disperses it -- as would be the case with my local high school band, which applied for a Wintario grant -- there are rules and regulations. Members can find out what they are, and they can determine who falls in what category and what the guidelines are.

In this particular aspect of the dispersal of funds from the lottery corporation which were initially generated by the lotteries, there were no rules and regulations that were published. We are simply saying there ought to be and, if they are already in existence, simply let us know what they are.

One other area we looked at was something that is called the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers. As members go through the reports, they will see that the committee attempted to get rid of all the language problems about what is an ophthalmic dispenser, and the report goes into some of the problems that we found there.

Some of the recommendations are a little technical in nature. We are asking that we clarify that these are opticians, or at least settle on one terminology and stick with it, and give them a specific kind of act.

We are asking the Ministry of Health to make a clear determination as to who should be made responsible for the fitting of contact lenses. We found there had been, to paraphrase it, technological changes in the field that had opened up an entire new industry, and it was not too clear precisely who should be fitting those lenses and how that whole process should work.

9:40 p.m.

We are asking the Ontario Council of Health to take a look at a study to determine the appropriateness of including the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers within the scope of the Health Disciplines Act, which again is a little on the technical side but attempts to put its house in order.

We found there was some considerable conflict of interest, which was something we found in a number of agencies. People who were at one moment in an advisory capacity were in the next moment setting regulations, and at the next moment were out teaching courses on them. All this time, they were still employed by major businesses within that industry.

In the years it has done these reviews, the committee has consistently said we ought to be a little more sensitive about this conflict-of-interest problem, which we found in a number of areas and agencies. In this one in particular, we are asking that some kind of conflict-of-interest guidelines be laid down. This might be the legislation we all know the government has been considering for some time. It would just apply to the agencies the same conflict-of-interest legislation that I understand is to be applied to municipal and school board operations across the board. There certainly is a conflict of interest in a number of agencies we have looked at.

We looked at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. This is a good example of the committee looking at something that is doing rather well and saying: "Leave it alone. Do not mess with something that has a fairly good reputation" -- in this instance, with both labour people and management.

We have a couple of small recommendations here having to do with the appointment of sidesmen, who have traditionally attempted to provide the balance between labour and management. We caught, from some of the testimony given before the committee, that there are now new groups appearing before the board and they are not always represented as fairly as they might be among the sidesmen. Particularly, we are recognizing once again that there is an increasing number of women in the labour force and not a proportionate representation sitting as sidespeople hearing these disputes before the board.

We also went into sometimes small, seemingly insignificant things. We are recommending that the board provide information to workers in both English and French, which seems not an unreasonable request, and in other languages. We are not attempting to snow the board under with a lot of rules, regulations and expense, but there is a very serious practical problem in that a number of people who would appear before the board or who would be interested in the workings of the labour relations board do not speak either English or French. If one wants to communicate with them, one is going to have to provide them information in their own language.

We did go through considerable discussion about how people get certified as a bargaining unit and all the ins and outs of that. We did not make a recommendation on it, because we did not have a clear path to go. The general consensus on the committee after the hearing was that the labour relations board was serving a function that both labour and management may have had some differences about but felt was working. It was providing the basic premise for which the agency was first established.

We looked at the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as well. Again, we were interested in the financial statements provided by the commission. We felt there ought to be some clarification between commercial operations, those designed to make money and those the commission itself had expected to subsidize.

We were looking at something that might not seem very important to a lot of people, but certainly would be to the commission itself: that it establish a clear policy regarding the unfunded liabilities of the commission's contributory pension fund. We also looked at one other proposition then currently before the commission, and that was the sale of Star Transfer.

We looked at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and went through a fair amount of testimony about the hiring procedures and the policies followed by that board. We found some differences of opinion with the minister, who is the only minister who ever came before the committee during the course of a review. To my knowledge, he was pretty tough in making sure he spoke to the committee and answered all the questions.

The people from the liquor control board who were there did not get much of an opportunity to provide testimony to the committee. But we pointed out again that there were certainly a lot of questions remaining about the hiring practices at the LCBO. I suppose we did hear what we wanted to hear, that they were in the process of at least cleaning up their act but had not been completely successful in doing so.

The other one that members might be interested in is that the committee was somewhat taken aback by how much revenue is generated from the sale of booze in Ontario -- so much so that the committee went so far as to recommend that it was pretty clear to us that the sale of booze in this province is first and foremost a great source of revenue for Ontario.

The price of booze in the stores is not really set by the minister, who in theory is in charge, but by the Treasurer, who wants more money. So the price of booze on the shelves gets bumped up whenever the Treasurer wants some more bucks.

We felt as a committee, if that really were the case -- if the sale of booze, which runs just ahead of the numbers racket, is generating money for Ontario -- that we all might just as well call it exactly what it is: a revenue source. Therefore, quite logically, the Minister of Revenue ought to be running the booze outlets. If its prime purpose is to make money, it is essentially a revenue operation.

We should stop the pretence that this is some kind of consumer service that is being provided here and call it a branch of the Ministry of Revenue. We should let them run it and be nice and up front about this. The purpose of the exercise is to raise money for the province; call it that and be done with it.

We went through most of this without much acrimony. There was a little debate at the end, which I will tell members of the Legislature about. In general terms, we were very concerned, and I think it will be repeated again this year, about the conflict-of-interest problem, which to some degree or other seems to bubble through all the agencies we look at.

We keep running into the same arguments, that one cannot get people to sit on an agency unless they are experienced and active in that particular field. On the other hand, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain the argument that somebody can really be a prime mover in the business sector of whatever the agency might be controlling and still come in and, neutrally and objectively, sit without any conflict to pass regulations and make judgements.

We found that this year, and we found it last year. Frankly, I know there is legislation that is virtually ready to go to cover conflict of interest for municipalities and school boards. There certainly has been a great deal said about conflict of interest there. There is general agreement on the need and on the format, and I think the pitch we are making is pretty simple: take the legislation that we have dealing with the problem, which we all recognize is serious, bring that legislation in and apply it to these agencies.

The conflict would appear to be minimal with some of them. There is a kind of theoretical conflict on occasion. But there are also real conflicts that would deter an agency from being effective.

From one particular point of view, if one wants an agency that is regulating an industry or sport, or is providing a service, such as the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, to be really effective, everybody who deals with that agency must feel it is not rigged in the faintest sense of the word. It has to be seen by everybody who works with the agency and those who look at it as a regulatory agency that is being really fair; that it is some kind of neutral tribunal, arbitration board, communications authority or whatever it is.

People who sit on municipal councils have to declare conflicts and really cannot have conflicts of interest. We make those people declare them, and it has gone so far now that people lose their seats on municipal councils if they did not declare conflicts of interest. We are making an argument that, if it is important enough to do it there, it is important enough to do it in the agencies. Many of these are regulatory in nature and, to be fair, they have to have that kind of conflict-of-interest legislation governing them.

We delved into a couple of other things that might not please everyone. But we did try repeatedly, in all the reviews we have done, to get to this nifty and sometimes awkward problem of exactly how somebody gets to sit on one of these agencies.

It may be recalled that other members of the Legislature have been castigated on various occasions, booted out of here or forced to apologize because they made allegations that somehow or other appointments to boards, agencies and commissions are not quite on the up and up.

9:50 p.m.

In the course of all these years of holding these agency reviews, we have attempted to determine exactly how these appointments are made. But after two or three years at this, I do not have a clear answer as to exactly what the process is.

On one or two occasions -- for example, in the Ontario Labour Relations Board -- there appeared to be some consultation among people who use the labour relations board and an inquiry as to who would be a suitable candidate to sit on that board. One can see a kind of balance being struck so that when their tribunal sits there is, for example, one neutral person, one who is clearly there almost representing management and one who is clearly there almost representing labour.

We understand that process, but we have not figured out exactly how the names get to the government and then to the Lieutenant Governor to be chosen. We do feel that there ought to be some cleaning up of the process, and at the very least the people, the public at large, ought to know that such appointments are being made.

We are always interested in just how the Lieutenant Governor finds out about somebody who sits on the Ontario Educational Communications Authority or how he finds out about somebody who wants to sit on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and after a vast amount of research we are unable to determine precisely how that is done.

We made a couple of simple suggestions. First, stick it in the Ontario Gazette. It is not going to cost a lot of money, and then those who are interested in the work of these agencies at least will have a place to find out how many agencies are available, what kind of work they do, when they might have openings and when they will be making new appointments. If they were interested in serving as whatever it might be -- on any one of the agencies that are still in business in Ontario -- at least there would be a common source to go to. It does not seem to me to be a great, controversial piece of business.

Second, the Management Board of Cabinet should be made responsible -- because somebody has to be, and they are the ones we picked -- for processing the applications before sending them to cabinet on the basis of established criteria. And some kind of statistics should be kept on this selection process and tabled in the Legislature annually.

Essentially, we are trying to say simply that for a long time there have been a lot of bad rumours in this province about how people get on to an agency. We have found, quite frankly, that people who have come before this committee and its reviews have all been pretty decent people, but often they themselves are not very sure exactly how they got appointed to the agency either.

We feel that it is time to take away all the allegations of impropriety, to find a process that is relatively simple and inexpensive to implement, to keep track of exactly how these appointments are made and to provide this information in a form that the public can at least understand. Those are the specific and general recommendations of the committee in its review.

I want to conclude with a couple of remarks on what I think is a little bit wrong with these agency reviews. In the latter part of the report, the responses to the previous year's review are published. I want to put on the record that I am a little disappointed with the hit-and-miss nature of the responses from the various ministers.

We are not anxious -- at least I am not -- to lay another big set of regulations on any ministry out there, or on any of the agencies either, for that matter. But I do not think there is a person around here who can look at these reviews and say that the committee was operating in a partisan way or treated an agency unfairly.

In my experience as chairman -- and I expect it will continue with the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr) as chairman -- I think the agencies by and large felt they got a fair shake. They might disagree with some of the recommendations, and they might say, "You did not go into that deeply enough." But we did attempt to give them a fair shake, an opportunity to be heard, a chance to look at the report before it was published, a chance to make comments at that point. I think it is only reasonable, then, to expect that the ministries, all of them, would respond to the recommendations.

In my view, it is fine for a ministry to argue, "Your recommendation is all wet; we just cannot implement it," or whatever. But I do feel there ought to be some obligation for the ministry responsible to reply to the committee, as most of the ministries have.

One can get very serious about this and lay it all down and say, "The Legislature moved motions and made recommendations and all that, and we want to see a formal report published by the ministry on what they did." I would not go quite that far. But I do think, as we tried to say in publishing this report of last year's review, that there is an obligation for the ministries to respond. It is, after all, a report that is put together in a most nonpartisan way by people from all three political parties in the Legislature, and I think it is incumbent on the ministries themselves to attempt to do so.

I want to make my argument along these lines. The government internally has tried to get a handle on agencies and, I am sure, has not been as successful as it would like to be. It has tried to do that in a number of ways. Ministries have tried to do that themselves. There is general agreement that there is a problem here. We have, at least in this instance, a public format that attempts to assess the work of the agencies.

I do not believe anybody could make an argument that the procedural affairs committee has gone out with a hatchet and chopped willy-nilly at people who are doing good work. We have tried to say, "Here are some problem areas, and here are some recommendations." I do not think that it is too much to ask that the individual ministries that are involved in these at least provide a response.

I want to conclude my remarks on this report with a couple of comments that are personal in nature about where it might go from here. There are still a few different groups at work looking at agencies and what they do. For my own information, I find that the approach taken by this committee, and continued this year under the able chairmanship of the member for Burlington South, is the way it ought to go.

I am not pretending for a moment that we had the research capacity to really analyse the day-by-day operations of any of these agencies. Quite frankly, it would be useful for the committee to be able to do that. There are other places in the Legislature where that could happen -- on the public accounts committee, for example -- but the fact is that it does not happen on a regular and ongoing basis.

There is provision for the ministries to do that. In some instances, I think we could quote chapter and verse where they are trying to do it, but I find that there is a need to have these agencies reviewed by a committee of the Legislature. It is okay by me if the ministries want to call them in and put them on the carpet, rake them over the coals and do that behind closed doors. But I do think that in a formal way and a public way, with proper notice and with proper research, a committee of this Legislature, which in theory is responsible for all of these agencies at some point in time, ought to be hard at work publicly doing that kind of review.

It would do me a lot of good if I could say that the committee had the capacity to do a much more in-depth research process. It seems to me that this committee in particular has looked at how other jurisdictions examine agencies of this kind, their function, the appointment to them and all of that. At some future point in time we may have some further recommendations about how that is handled.

We were impressed that in other jurisdictions, in a public forum, agencies such as the ones we have reviewed in this report get a lot more scrutiny than they do here in Ontario. They know, for example, in a much faster and more convenient way, who the agencies are, their purpose in life according to their original terms of reference, who is on it and what function it continues to carry on. We are attempting in this report, and in other reports that we have done, to establish that pattern in Ontario; so we think it is important for the Legislature to do that.

We have not found a lot of resentment in the agencies. Even where we have been critical of them, we have not found resentment. In fact, in most of them they have been quite pleased that somebody was prepared to pay a little bit of attention to them and give them an opportunity to show their stuff and to tell members of the Legislature some of their problems.

I found that the agencies themselves have been happy with the process. I think the members of the committee, by and large, are happy with the process. In the areas where I would suggest some alteration to the process, one would be some more detailed opportunity, perhaps with added research capacity, to analyse the day-by-day operations, because we do have to admit that we spent an afternoon at the communications authority looking at their equipment. I believe we got some sense of the technical problems they are having, but it would have been useful to have a more detailed report on that.

We did find, in looking at the accounting procedures among different agencies, that they were using different formats. It was tough for one research person to kind of pull that all together. It would have been useful to have had some additional research capacity in that particular instance.

Finally, it would have been useful to do a little more follow-up because, as members may note in this report, we were dependent on the ministries making a statement, in some instances the minister participating in this debate or at some other point making a statement somewhere. It would be useful to have more follow-up on the report itself.

10 p.m.

By and large, I think the members of the committee in their continuing work in this review this fall found that the process is not only useful but also long overdue. It seems to be one of the few areas where we have found consensus among all three political parties, that what the committee was doing was useful and a productive way for the members to conduct the investigation. There was very little rancour in the committee as it went through this. There was often some disagreement, but the committee felt the consensus approach was working and was producing good results.

In conclusion, this kind of report is a little unusual, because we have found here a mechanism that we all agree is important. It works and serves a useful purpose. I would say, for most ordinary members in here, there are not very many things they can point to that they have done in the last little while that fit those criteria. The work of this committee, at least for me and I sense for most of the members who participate in the process, does exactly that, and it is one that I hope will continue.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things I could talk about with regard to this report. I must say the previous speaker, the former chairman of the committee when this report was brought in, covered it very thoroughly. But I think one of the concerns we have is what is going to happen to the report.

Governments at all levels seem to have reports, provincial and federal -- and I sometimes think they could fill the whole library with reports from some organization or some group that was appointed, I suppose in good faith at the time -- that bring in recommendations. Then they sit there and nothing ever comes of them, although I am of the impression that those people who are in the civil service, these agencies or whatever, do take them more seriously than the government itself.

With regard to going over each one of the agencies we reviewed, the first one on the list is the Ontario Educational Communications Authority. As the previous speaker mentioned, we did go through their surroundings and their engineering technicalities for operating such a facility. In some areas of Ontario, about 30 per cent of the population do not have easy access to TVOntario. In our own area, we do have access to it, but 20 miles west in the city of Windsor they have difficulty in obtaining it. We are far enough out that we can have our aerial set in the right direction to pick it up, although I must say on a personal basis I never use it, but I guess there are some programs many people like.

I have a problem with any government getting involved in television and radio. I go back to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the massive expansion that corporation in Ottawa has made over the years. I had the opportunity not long ago to visit British Columbia on a personal matter. I was just visiting. I say that to eliminate any thought that I may have been out there at the expense of the public purse. I was on my own. I want to set that straight.

Mr. Boudria: It was not a junket.

Mr. Ruston: No junket was involved, as the honourable member just mentioned.

While I was on a bus tour of Victoria, which is a beautiful city, a nice place, the driver said: "The massive buildings on my left are the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation buildings. Those are the buildings that Prime Minister Trudeau and his corporation had built here. But, after they built them, they found out they did not have any money to run them; so they have never been used."

That is what burns people up, when governments get involved in things they get talked into doing. I am not sure, but I think it is the bureaucrats running things who go to cabinet and say, "We need this in this area." All they are doing with it -- well, I guess they are making some use of it. This is not in our report, but it is the trend of what happens when government gets involved.

The bus driver went on to say they did turn over the building for the use of the university so they could make some use of it in their programs with regard to television and radio.

The thing that bothers me is, where do we stop? What part should government play in this? I have great reservations on that. Personally, I think the government should serve those people who cannot get service through the private sector when it is impossible because of the cost. We know that. There are railroads that were built through this great country which were subsidized to help those people who lived in certain areas and did not have transportation available to them.

That is fine; I accept that. That is part of my responsibility. I wish to live in an area that is built up so I should subsidize those people so they can keep our country going and live in their areas whatever the job is.

But in a place like Metropolitan Toronto, government should not be involved in television or anything. That is a complete waste. Private industry can serve those needs and we should not be putting massive amounts of money into that type of thing. That is a strong personal feeling I have and that is why I have reservations about the Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

What is education? One can interpret education in different ways. One might go to a play or movie on Yonge Street that might do certain things many people would not like, yet somebody else would say, "That is educational." It is educational to that person. It is like noise and music. One person says, "That's music," while another person will hear it and say, "That is noise, I can't stand it," and they complain. What is education? I think that is another thing. What is the broad interpretation so the government can expand here without going further than the original intention?

As far as the Ontario Lottery Corporation is concerned, I am no expert on that, although I must say I am a lottery fan. I think governments probably should be involved in them. I have always felt that to stop other countries from selling tickets here we should have our own. Some people can recall other lotteries from overseas which were more or less illegal, although one could win the money and get it tax free. Apparently buying the ticket was a bit of a problem. I must say I was not involved with them much.

But what is happening now with the Ontario Lottery Corporation is that the big sell is on. I have a feeling they probably want to get into a daily lottery. I object to that. I think government has a place in lotteries. I have made surveys in my own riding. I have heard people talk about private surveys and, when one sends out a newsletter, one tries to get the feeling of the people in the riding as to what they think of certain things which one might have to vote on at some time.

It is nice to have a general consensus of the feeling in the riding. I do not think the present Premier (Mr. Davis) does anything without taking a poll to see what might be popular. I do not know that government should always act that way. Government should probably act on what is good for the country and not on what is popular at the time.

We have four lotteries now, Wintario, Lottario, the Provincial and Super Loto. I know the Provincial is run in co-operation with the other provinces. I would certainly be one of those who would object strongly to increasing what we have at this time. In fact, I would be more inclined to drop at least one of the present ones.

We are spending too much money on the hard sell, on advertising the lotteries. The "everybody wins" ad is untrue and misleading in my opinion. It should not be advertised that way. I know there has been some movement away from that, but that was a very bad type of advertising.

If private industry did that, I am sure people would be contacting the consumer affairs ministers in Ottawa and Ontario to object to that type of advertising. Yet our own Ontario Lottery Corporation has been doing that. That is one thing I object to very much. However, I want to say I am not against lotteries and I think people are going to buy lottery tickets so the government should be into it. That is the way it is.

10:10 p.m.

We found in one of our hearings it was not too well publicized where some of the money was going -- it should be; it is government money going out -- and some of the research they were doing was rather strange.

We have reservations about some of the places where the money is going but in most cases the lottery money is being used reasonably well. I would think the way the present Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) is screwing down the wheel for money for hospitals and nursing homes and so forth, that some of the money that comes from lotteries, although it would not be a major part of the health budget, is going to have to be put into some areas in which he is pressuring hospitals and nursing homes and stopping them from serving the people properly.

Regarding the ophthalmic dispensers, it was rather interesting when we had those people before us. There seemed to be some conflict of interest, in the way we looked at it, although I must say those involved did not think they had any conflict because they were somewhat more involved with two different parts, being on the board and also in teaching, et cetera. We have some recommendations with regard to that.

As far as the Ontario Labour Relations Board goes, I must say we did not have too much fault to find with its operation. Sometimes hearing dates took too long and they had language problems in a cosmopolitan city such as this, and these are areas that could be improved upon.

Regarding the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, it has been before committees for a number of years. I can recall being on the public accounts committee a number of years ago where the same board was before us with regard to some problems it had at that time. They have now been back before us on other matters, and some of their areas of operations were losing money and others were making a small profit.

Of course, they were trying to serve an area where it was difficult in places. They were serving in some remote areas and, naturally, that had to be subsidized. We did not recommend that the Star Transfer trucking company be disposed of separately because maybe we would be only selling off something that was making a profit. I think if we are going to operate at all we should operate together. Hopefully, some of its problems will be ironed out.

As far as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario goes, I have had some interesting conversations with some of those involved. The minister appeared at the time and he seemed to want to have all the say. He did not want some of his officials to say anything about the operations. But I must say the method of hiring was not up to the Civil Service Commission standards. With regard to the liquor control board, at one time people used to say it was the Progressive Conservative control board of Ontario. They said one had to be a known Conservative in order to get a job in a liquor control board store.

I had one individual in the Legislature tell me he knew a fellow who was working part time in a liquor store. I am sure some of the members may have heard this before. He said this fellow came to him and said he heard there was a full-time job coming up in the same store and he wondered if he would send a letter in on his behalf. The member told him he was not a Conservative and he was afraid he could not help him. The fellow said he was a member and he should send a letter in on his behalf if he would.

The member said he would, because he was sure the man was a good employee. He did send the letter in on his behalf and, lo and behold, the fellow even lost his part-time job let alone getting the full-time job. I guess that is what happens. I am not sure that is the way it is now, but I do know that it has been known to operate that way.

Since I was on the committee at the time this report was brought in I thought I would bring some of these things to the members' attention very briefly. The main concern we have is that people who have to do with operating these boards and commissions and the appointment of the members of it -- I call it the Progressive Conservative Senate of Ontario -- we would hope our recommendations are considered and that some action is taken on it.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton). Sorry, first a point of order from the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I thought the order had been established when the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr) spoke first, then the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), then the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston).


The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Hamilton Mountain have some difficulty?

Mr. Charlton: I have no difficulty with the order that has been established.

The Deputy Speaker: I did not see any Conservative rise after the previous speaker, so I came back to the member for Essex North.


Hon. Mr. McCague: My apologies, Mr. Speaker. I will jump up much quicker next time. I hope you happen to be looking this way.

As the previous chairman and the present chairman have stated regarding the procedural affairs committee report and its report on agencies, boards and commissions, they did take a very objective look at the agencies and they did make recommendations that reflected their thinking on the matter. The government has been able to accept some and not been able to accept others. Although we may not get time tonight, the various ministers responsible for the six agencies studied were prepared to make comments for the benefit of the committee regarding the recommendations made.

I want to make a few general comments about the progress made in the past few years in scrutinizing these agencies, boards and commissions. Some of this was as a result of the recommendations made by various committees of this House and other parts by the ongoing reviews that we at Management Board have been doing now for some years.

On balance I think we can be very proud of the record of administration of agencies in this province. We are far ahead of the other provinces and the federal government. We are the only government that has an integrated process for the management and control of our agencies. There are 278 of them and they cover a wide range of responsibility. Some protect consumers by regulating aspects of an industry or profession; some give advice; some hear appeals against decisions of civil servants; and some provide goods and services.

Some of these agencies are large and well known, such as Hydro, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Municipal Board, and the lottery corporation. Others are small and not well known but they provide timely and useful input into the government's policy-making process -- such as the Building Materials Evaluation Commission, the Advisory Council on Special Education and the Drug Quality and Therapeutic Committee.

This variety and size in the methods of funding and the manner in which the various agencies relate to the government means no one simple set of rules or procedures can be written to which all agencies can conform. Ontario has, however, established detailed policies, procedure and guidelines in its manual of administration.

10:20 p.m.

These deal with the establishment of agencies with a degree of government involvement and control of agencies and with the review of agencies. Agencies play a valuable role in the delivery of many government programs, often offering a more convenient and flexible means of discharging some of the responsibilities of government. Their separate identity gives them a neutrality for quasi-judicial matters, and where specific technical expertise is required they can provide it.

However, the government is equally concerned that in these times of careful management of our resources there not be an undue proliferation of agencies. For this reason all new agencies require the approval of both Management Board and cabinet. These parties must be certain that the function needs to be done, that no existing agency can do it, that it cannot be done within the existing operation of the government and that the establishment of the new agency represents the best and least costly alternative. Once it is determined that a new agency needs to be established, policies pertaining to the administration of the agencies come into play.

As I noted, the complexity of agencies has necessitated quite lengthy policies on various aspects of administration. Each agency is allocated to one of four schedules reflecting its administrative autonomy, its method of staffing and its method of funding. Obviously, the greatest control is maintained over those agencies funded out of the consolidated revenue fund.

Regarding appointees to agencies, the policies indicate that the numbers should have regard to such factors as workload, quorum, the need for geographic or other representation and expertise. A three-year term of office is stipulated. There are detailed guidelines on the remuneration of appointees as well as on conflict of interest.

All operational and regulatory agencies within schedules one and two require the preparation of a memorandum of understanding, which sets out the respective roles and responsibilities of the minister and the agency, the applicability of all policies within the manual of administration and the financial responsibilities, including auditing. In short, Ontario's procedures for the administration of agencies are most comprehensive.

The third phase of this administrative process is the review of agencies. This government is anxious to ensure that all agencies continue to be relevant and that they continue to be used in the most effective and efficient manner possible. These intentions are not new. As part of the overall deregulation policy of the government the agencies review committee was created in March 1978 to review all agencies and to suggest areas where the administration of the agencies might be improved.

Its first report led to the elimination of some agencies whose specific functions were no longer required by the government -- the liquor advisory board and the student housing corporation -- as well as the merging of some agencies to provide their respective functions more efficiently. The agricultural licensing and registration review board combined 12 boards; the children's services review board combined boards of review for mental health centres and for day nurseries. A net reduction of 30 agencies was achieved at that time.

The second report addressed the administrative process. Its recommendations in essence led to many policies in the current manual of administration, about which I have just spoken.

The third and final report, which was tabled in the House in June 1981, considered the area of sunset review of advisory agencies. All advisory agencies will be reviewed over the next three years as to their appropriateness and the need for their continuation. Again, the detailed procedures for sunset review have been incorporated in the manual of administration. All new agencies, not just advisory agencies, will in future have a sunset clause added to their establishing legislation or order in council unless cabinet specifically directs otherwise.

This review of agencies will counterbalance the focus on new activities by ensuring an evaluation of existing activities and offering an opportunity for the rationalizing of activities and reordering of priorities within each ministry as its agencies are reviewed.

In sum, through the work of the agency review committee and the Management Board secretariat, government policy has over the past four years evolved into an effective program of agency management control and evaluation.

However, the continuing review of any program is obviously a necessary and useful function. The work of the standing procedural affairs committee, whose report is currently before the House, is part of that process. In fact, the policies and the manual of administration concerning the reporting requirements of agencies were developed after an earlier procedural affairs committee report identified the problems associated with a lack of formal reporting by agencies. This third report on agencies considered six agencies in depth and made a number of specific recommendations.

I should like to make some observations of a more general nature on the recommendations, which have a bearing on overall agency policy. The committee devoted much of its attention to the issue of conflict of interest and recommended that the Management Board of Cabinet should introduce legislation establishing rules governing conflict of interest with respect to all agencies, boards and commissions in the Ontario government.

In April 1980, the government formally established a policy on that very issue, and it has been an integral part of the manual of administration ever since. I believe these guidelines continue to be adequate for dealing with most of the concerns arising from conflict of interest even though they are less detailed than those set out in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act to which the committee referred.

I would point out that the policy allows individual agencies to adopt more comprehensive guidelines on disclosure of interest and other conflict situations, where desirable. There is a question of the feasibility of adopting the provisions of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in their entirety. In the act, for example, provision is made for application to a court for permission for the municipality to deal with the matter without a quorum should members be required to absent themselves from the discussion. Agencies, by their very nature, tend to be concerned with very specific issues, and the appointment of members reflects that. I would not like to see the courts further overloaded in order to deal with issues where there are problems over a quorum.

The other area highlighted by the committee was that of appointments. Here I have grave reservations about the desirability and feasibility of the recommendations. The committee, in effect, is suggesting that appointments to agencies be replaced by a recruitment process. It is recognized that cabinet must accept responsibility for the choices it makes, and this government wishes to retain that responsibility and to continue to exercise its given mandate in a conscientious manner. I also point out that with some 3,000 appointees, this would be an extremely time-consuming and very inefficient process.

The committee seems to imply in its report that the appointment process is carried out by a select few who choose from a listing of worthy Tories. I can assure members that this is certainly not the case. Some of our highest profile appointments have been given to those who are obviously not associated with the government party. Phil Givens and Stephen Lewis are two such examples.

In addition, great care is given to the involvement of client groups. If the honourable members would look closely at the list of appointees to agencies such as the advisory committees on multiculturalism, senior citizens, women, legal aid, university affairs, the physically handicapped and the many medical disciplines, I am sure they would have a much better understanding of the rationale for appointments.

While on occasion a specific problem may arise with the appointees to agencies and this must, of course, be dealt with, I firmly believe that on balance our many agencies are extremely well served by those appointed to them.

There is one specific agency recommendation that does concern the Management Board, and that is the request to table in the Legislature guidelines with respect to the allocation of lottery funds. The guidelines for the allocation and expenditure control of lottery proceeds are already a matter of public record, as they are incorporated in the estimates process and operating procedures. Management Board establishes the cash allocation in the estimates process in order to meet dedication commitments made by cabinet.

Recently, on October 7 of this year, cabinet approved special guidelines which are aimed at ensuring that commitments do not outpace lottery revenues. In the near future these recently approved guidelines and implementation details will be distributed to the appropriate ministries and to the chairman of the public accounts committee.

I believe the committee has done a thorough review of the six agencies it elected to consider, and my colleagues will be speaking on the specific recommendations at some time. However, a number of recommendations suggest the involvement of the government in agencies that have been carefully assigned a very arm's length relationship.

Mr. Bradley: This is exciting stuff.

Hon. Mr. McCague: You like that? I'm glad you just got in.

Mr. Bradley: I have been here all night listening carefully to you.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You haven't been in your seat.

Mr. Bradley: I haven't been in my seat, but I was back there listening.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Were you? Is there anything else you wish to say before I continue?

Mr. Speaker, I was about to read the conflict of interest guidelines into the record, but it being almost 10:30 of the clock I should move the adjournment of the debate.

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

The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.