The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding today, I would direct the honourable members attention to the fact that we have a new group of pages with us for the next few weeks, and I would like to acknowledge their presence by reading their names into the record:
Kelly Akerman, Wilson Heights; Michael Barber, Durham East; Susan Berry, Quinte; Kim Brodack, Port Arthur; Michael Conte, Northumberland; Jeffrey Couch, York North; Krista Ditchfield, Lake Nipigon; Charles Gibbs, Halton-Burlington; Lizanne Hanks, Huron-Bruce; Kirsten Hockin, London North; Kristina Huneault, Windsor-Riverside; Danielle Laporte, Essex North; Brian Lauzon, Riverdale; Serge Marston, Beaches-Woodbine; Kenneth McCollam, Timiskaming; Douglas McLaren, Kent-Elgin; Andrea Morrison, St. Catharines; William Pickard, Perth; Karyn Pollock, Sudbury East; Robert Real, Sault Ste. Marie; Trinette Sims, Chatham-Kent; Annette Spillane, Eglinton; Jennifer Wilkinson, Don Mills.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask all members to join with me in welcoming to the Legislative Assembly Mr. Philip Woolaston, member of Parliament for the constituency of Nelson, New Zealand. Mr. Woolaston is the critic for local government affairs for the opposition Labour Party in the New Zealand Parliament.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
CONFERENCE ON STATUS OF WOMEN
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I rise to report to members that, in my capacity as Minister responsible for Women's Issues, I attended the second annual federal-provincial-territories conference of ministers responsible for the status of women a week ago today.
The conference not only proved informative on a wide range of topics of concern to women but also provided the participants involved with an excellent opportunity to exchange information on programs and undertakings of interest to their jurisdictions. As members can understand, this kind of exchange is extremely important in our attempts to move forward quickly in the areas we have highlighted as vital to the status of women in this country and in this province.
I was encouraged during our deliberations over the two days to see how much Ontario has already accomplished. Indeed, Ontario can be proud of its progress on a number of important issues as they relate to women. In my statement to the conference, I outlined Ontario's initiatives in several areas.
Our presentation on affirmative action was extremely well received by conference participants. At least three other jurisdictions indicated in their closing remarks they plan to follow Ontario's lead. As members of this House know, the promotion of affirmative action among private sector employers is a primary endeavour of the Ontario government.
In 1975, the affirmative action consulting service was established within the women's bureau of the Ministry of Labour with the mandate to encourage Ontario employers in the private sector. To date, consultants have assisted 220 major employers in the development of affirmative action strategies, which cover an estimated 304,000 women.
In my remarks to the conference, I also stressed Ontario's firm belief that no issue may be more important for the majority of women, at the present time and in the years to come, than that of employment. It is clear that the need to promote a wider and more productive range of career choices among women is essential now, when new technologies are transforming the nature of work.
Training and experience are the pivotal issues with respect to jobs for the future. In general, women are not well represented in skills training programs, in particular those requiring a foundation in mathematics and sciences. Without the academic background, women are then precluded from the priority training programs involving advanced technology.
Given the clear need to provide relevant academic support, I urged the federal government to pay close attention to my colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson), who has been urging that we continue to maintain a very significant investment in basic academic upgrading courses.
I would also like to report to the House how impressed I was by the emphasis several jurisdictions are placing on job opportunities for women, particularly in encouraging more female entrepreneurs.
Our deliberations also centred on an area of great concern in all jurisdictions, domestic violence. As members of this House know, violence within the home is a very serious and debilitating problem. I would like to report to the House that as a result of our meetings, Ontario will be a member of the newly established federal-provincial-territories working group on family violence.
The working group will mobilize the resources and expertise of law enforcement and social service agencies, family counsellors and educators. This group will co-ordinate and initiate actions to deal with the various problems associated with family violence, through public education, law enforcement, social service support and therapeutic treatment.
I am sure we in this House are agreed that by improving conditions for women, we will improve the very fabric of society. To handicap the women of this country in any way is to handicap the country's very future.
The limited availability of pension benefits is one such handicap recognized by Ontario. As members know, my colleague the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) stated in his May 10 budget address that Ontario would agree to support the Canada pension plan drop-out proposal. Members should know that an order in council was passed last week to ratify the necessary amendment to the Canada pension plan.
Women and men will now be able to deduct child-raising years so that their Canada pension plan benefits can be based on lifetime contributions to the plan. In other words, working parents will no longer be penalized for dropping out of the work force or working part-time while raising children up to the age of seven. The provision will be retroactive to January 1, 1978. This amendment will increase CPP benefits for those eligible by an average of 22 per cent over a lifetime.
May I also draw to the attention of the members a statement in the April 17 speech from the throne which promised an amendment to the Public Service Superannuation Act to eliminate the unfair practice of discontinuing a survivors pension upon remarriage. In most cases, this practice penalized women. My colleague the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Wiseman) will introduce the necessary amendment to the Public Service Superannuation Act later this week.
These two changes will directly benefit thousands of Ontario residents. However, more reform must and will take place in the area of pensions, and further improvements are now under discussion.
Before closing, may I also inform members of the House that the third annual federal- provincial-territories conference of ministers responsible for the status of women will be co-hosted by Ontario in 1984. I believe these discussions on a national basis are vital to our progress in this area. We have a great deal to learn from one another, and through our shared experiences I believe we can accomplish much for the women of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I will be very pleased this afternoon, at the appropriate time, to introduce a bill to regulate off-road vehicles. Since 1976, municipalities across the province have voiced their concern over the lack of control of off-road vehicles. I must say this concern has increased steadily.
Over the last seven years. we have been deluged with circulated resolutions from such municipalities, each bearing the same message. Thus, it is very clear that the municipalities want provincial control over trail bikes and other related motorized off-highway vehicles. As it stands now, many of these vehicles are not licensed under the Highway Traffic Act for two reasons: first, they do not meet equipment requirements for highway operation, and second, the owners often choose to operate them off the highways.
Without mandatory vehicle licence plates, and without mandatory registration, municipal bylaws cannot effectively control the damage to public property caused by such vehicles. Consequently, the municipalities are arguing that they are restricted in their efforts. This bill has been designed in response to their needs. Hence, all owners of off-highway vehicles will be required to register their vehicles unless they are already licensed under the Highway Traffic Act. Moreover, the registrant must be 16 years of age or over and is required to pay a one-time registration fee valid for the lifetime of the holder.
Every vehicle will be issued a permit and plate that will alleviate any questions surrounding the identification of vehicle owners. In accordance with the new plate-to-owner vehicle registration system, the present owner will keep the plates when transferring the vehicle.
In retrospect, this bill is the culmination of efforts that began in 1978. At that time, an amendment to the Municipal Act was proposed that would have given municipalities the power to license and regulate the use of off-highway vehicles. It was defeated on second reading because it would have resulted in multiple registration schemes. Then, in 1979, the municipalities' growing concerns encouraged the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs to consider jointly a provincial program. They examined alternative solutions, presented them to the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee and circulated them to many municipalities.
By 1982, more than 160 municipalities had shown their support, and municipality-related groups joined in the push for legislation, groups such as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Ontario Good Roads Association, Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association, Kenora District Municipal Association and Algoma District Municipal Association.
This support has continued to grow, coming from ratepayers' groups and industry-related organizations -- in particular, the well-respected Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council and the Canadian Motorcycle Association. These groups and individuals, and more than 40 past and present members of the Legislature have shared the same concerns with me. They are convinced that without controls, operators of off-highway vehicles will continue to annoy local residents by making excessive noise and operating their vehicles in a hazardous manner, namely, in populated areas such as school yards and public parks.
Municipalities, in particular, argue that public property and the natural environment are being destroyed by the uncontrolled use of these vehicles, and without any means of identifying the operators, damages are paid for out of public coffers.
Therefore, this bill I am introducing today will lay the responsibility for violations under this act and any liability for loss or damage upon the owner as well as the operator. Off-road vehicles will be defined as motorized two- and three-wheeled vehicles not specifically exempted by the regulation.
Public liability insurance will be required for these vehicles except if they are being used exclusively on the vehicle owner's private land. In addition, when requested by a police officer, operators must provide personal identification. Also, for the safety of operators, approved helmets must be worn at all times -- again, except on the owner's property.
There are provisions under this act to exempt by regulation, self-propelled implements of husbandry, road-building machines, golf carts and vehicles for the physically disabled. In addition, the remote section of northern Ontario, already exempt from the Snow Vehicles Act, will be exempt from the mandatory registration of off-road vehicles.
It is the intention of this bill to encourage the safe driving of these vehicles and provide a method of control and identification.
Mr. Speaker: Just before proceeding, I wonder if we may limit our private conversations and listen attentively to the next minister.
LABOUR RELATIONS BILL
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, later today I will be introducing an amendment to the Labour Relations Act designed to prohibit professional strikebreaking and certain forms of strike-related misconduct.
For the most part, we in Ontario enjoy a stable labour relations climate. The vast majority of collective bargaining relationships are characterized by mutual respect between the employers and trade unions, both during the collective bargaining process and throughout the term of the agreement.
In recent times, there has been an increasing incidence of the use of security firms for the principal purpose of disrupting legal strike activity. This particular activity by persons and firms retained by employers carries with it the potential for escalating disputes and prolonging their resolution.
The nature of the practices of at least one such security firm has been described in a recent decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. It would not be proper for me to comment on the detailed facts of that particular case, which is still before the board on a request for reconsideration.
However, I can say that while the board's decision indicates the Labour Relations Act apparently already contains some provisions which provide protection against the activities of professional strikebreakers, it is also clear that the protections are not expressed either explicitly or comprehensively.
The act I will introduce later today enunciates a very clear public policy against professional strikebreaking. It also makes clear that strike-related misconduct by employers and their agents, and indeed by employees, is not permitted and may be dealt with by way of complaint before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Some have suggested that Ontario should outlaw the use of replacement employees during a legal strike, as has been done in one other Canadian province. There is in fact a private member's bill before the House which would do that.
However, the bill I am introducing relates only to professional strikebreaking and strike-related misconduct. It does not prevent the carrying on of business in a lawful manner during a strike or lockout, nor does it prevent the taking of lawful measures to protect persons or properties.
The amendment I am introducing today not only is important in substantive terms, but as well has significant symbolic and educational value. I believe it reflects the view that the majority of us hold, namely, in those cases where collective bargaining disputes cannot be settled without resort to economic sanctions, disputes should be conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner and without disruption, interference and provocation by third parties.
REGULATION OF TRUST COMPANIES
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations with respect to trust company regulations in this province. My question relates to the properties between 10 and 24 Gibson Avenue in Toronto. Some eight houses are involved.
The minister will be aware that a numbered company purchased those properties in trust on October 1, 1982, for $650,000 cash. The same day there were two mortgages issued, the first to Continental Trust for $1.4 million, of which some $750,000 was advanced. The guarantors of that mortgage were one Vince Lanzino -- the minister will remember he was the 20-year-old chap he prevented from buying Dominion Trust last December -- and VJL Investments Inc. The lawyer in that situation was the law firm of Axton and Dexter.
There was a second mortgage simultaneously to Dominion Trust at $125,000. The guarantors were Vince Lanzino and the same VJL Investments Inc. On April 21, 1983, there was a subsequent sale of those properties by the numbered company to another two numbered companies.
How could the minister and his ministry, who are presumably on top of this situation, permit ongoing violations of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition has set out deliberately in this, as he has in other instances, to bring up specific issues and specific mortgages in the belief that some in this House may be confused about the issue.
I told him very clearly the other day that there are a number of mortgages with respect to Dominion Trust, and other trust companies he has mentioned, that are under review by a number of parties. I do not propose to comment on it any further than that.
The member also knows full well that Dominion Trust was acquired by its present owner during the summer of 1982 and that in December 1982, following some routine and regular inspections by the ministry, consultation was held with the Premier (Mr. Davis) and himself and the leader of the third party about changes to legislation that were necessary in order that certain matters could be dealt with.
That is no surprise to the member. I think the surprise is that we were right on top of it and have remained on top of it and he does not like that.
Mr. Peterson: What is interesting to me is that the minister's response today is very similar to his responses last fall when we were asking about the other trust company situation. It is the same old stuff. If the minister will look at the dates, he will find out it is still going on.
Mr. Speaker: The question, please.
Mr. Peterson: I have a supplementary question with respect to the minister's regulatory ability on Fairview Estates in Welland, Ontario. On January 8, 1982, those properties were purchased for $320,000 by a numbered company, the president of which was one Vince Lanzino. It was a sale, the minister will recall, under a power of sale and he took out a mortgage of some $2.3 million to another company we are familiar with, Argosy Investments Ltd.
On October 25, 1982, the numbered company was mortgaged to Continental Trust for $3,072,000, a property it paid $320,000 for; on February 16, 1983, there is a second mortgage to Winter Park Inc. and a company owned, I understand, by Mr. Axton; on March 1, 1983, that same mortgage was assigned to Dominion Trust in trust. Since April 25 of this year and subsequently in the last six weeks or so, and still registered up until yesterday, there were some $600,000 in mechanics' liens claims against those properties.
For months and months and months, this situation has been going on. How could these kinds of transactions happen right under the minister's nose?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The question is somewhat similar, I am sure members will believe, to the first question that was asked, but I am certain repetition does not trouble the Leader of the Opposition. We are getting quite used to it on this particular issue. Let me just affirm once again that there are a number of matters and a number of mortgages which, I have said on numerous occasions now, are under review by a number of organizations.
I think the thing that troubles the member very much is that he knows we have been on top of this. He has even gone to the interesting step of having one of his researchers follow our investigators around to see where we are going so he will know what to talk about next. Things are getting pretty desperate when he has to do that.
I have to tell him, as I did the other day, I am advised by the registrar that, in spite of the concern the member may be creating for some out there, depositors at Dominion Trust have no reason to be concerned at this time.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister understands the serious lack of confidence that is developing across the province in the entire trust industry because of the failure of the minister to make clear and direct statements about the companies involved in these matters.
The minister responded to the Leader of the Opposition on his first question by saying there were a number of other companies involved. Will he please advise me which other registered trust companies authorized to do business in Ontario are at present under surveillance by his ministry with respect to the overvaluation of properties?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, first of all, if the member reads Hansard, he will notice I was referring to trust companies already referred to last week by the Leader of the Opposition. I am not getting into new matters.
I also recommend to him that he look at the remarks of his leader last December, because I thought they were very appropriate. He talked about the concerns regulators have to have with respect to their role and with respect to the confidence the community should have.
I do not intend to alter the position I have taken about these trust company matters, nor do I intend to suggest we have not been on top of the issues being referred to in this House today and I do not want him to suggest that either.
Mr. Peterson: The minister will appreciate that the issue is not at this point that the depositors' money is in jeopardy. As he will very well understand, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. will bail out any depositors who are in potential trouble. In fact, even though it is going to cost us tens of millions, and indeed even hundreds of millions, to solve the trust company problems and protect the depositors, it will not be the depositors at risk; it will be the federal taxpayer, the insurance payer into the CDIC funds. That is not the issue, and we have never tried to make that the issue; the minister will understand that.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: Will the minister include in his internal review of this failure of the regulators to know what is going on, these recent transactions that were going on up until six weeks ago, again right under his nose? Will he please find out for the members of this House, if not for himself, why they are continuing to go on, it appears, day after day?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If the member will take the time to read Hansard from last week, he will see that I did not say depositors could rest assured because of the CDIC. What I did say was that I was advised there was no issue of insolvency in this company. That is far different from what he is trying to suggest to this House.
I have clearly indicated what the function and purpose of the internal review is and that it may well he subject to an external review. That will continue. What really troubles the member about the Dominion Trust issue is that we have been on top of it. No matter how he looks at it -- whether he turns it upside down, inside out, whether he sits on it, wears a red flag or a purple noseguard -- he still knows we have been on top of it.
ONTARIO TEACHERS' FEDERATION MEMBERSHIP
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education concerning her attempt to put the boots to the Ontario Teachers' Federation with a certain proposal she is making.
In the publication entitled Education Ontario, the June 1983 edition, the minister has made a proposal regarding a college of teachers. Part of this proposal says, "Membership in OTF would not be a prerequisite for membership in the college." By doing this, she is suggesting she would be reneging on the 1944 inclusion in the Teaching Profession Act, which says all teachers in the province who teach in publicly funded schools shall be members of the OTF.
Why is she reneging on that? Why is she attempting to bypass the democratically elected leadership of OTF in her attempt to boot the OTF out of the game?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows very well he speaks with forked tongue at the moment. The initial discussions about all of this have been held with the leadership of the Ontario Teachers' Federation for the past four years. I do not think I overemphasize that statement.
If the member would read the statement very carefully he would understand what it says about membership in the college of teachers. The proposed organization will be developed in support of the professional role of teachers. It will ensure that they as a profession will be directly accountable to the public and indeed will protect the public in the light of their monopoly of provision of service, as is implied by the governing councils of other such organizations.
However, those responsibilities must mandate that there must be required membership in the college of teachers, which would provide the certification for teachers or the licence to practise the profession. It would not be mandatory that they be members of the OTF in order to be licensed. It might be mandatory that they be members of the OTF, but not in order to be members of the college of teachers.
Mr. Bradley: The minister will agree, as the Premier (Mr. Davis) has said on many occasions, that in politics in many cases it is the perception that counts rather than the reality. She is painting a different picture of reality, at least in the perception she is attempting to promote by removing this right accorded to the Ontario Teachers' Federation 39 years ago.
Has she really had any meaningful consultation with members of the Ontario Teachers' Federation in regard to this little escapade? Or is she attempting to provoke a confrontation, contrary to the advice of the Premier when he said to the OTF board of governors that confrontation is not the way?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We began discussing this matter with the OTF in 1978 and there have been several discussions with the executive and the board of governors. I have appeared before a board of governors meeting to explain precisely what I meant in this direction. They have provided me with their interpretation. We have had a good deal of exchange of information.
In March of this year there was a three and a half hour meeting between a significant number of the senior staff of the Ministry of Education and the entire executive committee of the OTF in which this was the only subject of discussion. There has been a great deal of consultation.
Mr. Bradley: Is this pamphlet the outcome of that?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That information was decided upon by the communications branch of the ministry, with which I agree. We want to let the people of Ontario know what it is we are talking about to the teachers' federation and others, because the members of the public probably have some concern and interest in this matter as well. If they do, I would appreciate hearing from them about it.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about the meeting in March with the OTF and the other teacher affiliates across the province. There was the December 17 meeting. She believes in a consultation process which is one way and one way only; that is, "Here is what I think and here is what will happen," as opposed to listening to both sides in terms of achieving any kind of agreement.
Will she not agree and admit that the interpretation of what she is suggesting -- since as I understand it this is the Pravda of the Minister of Education of Ontario for teachers -- is creating an end run around the federation and going to the individual teachers for comments on the college of teachers instead of sitting down and listening to what the federations have been telling her for the past four years?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the member's allusion to the December 17 meeting leaves me just a little perplexed. I well remember the December 17 meeting. The OTF executive arrived in my boardroom. I was there. They informed me that because they did not like something that had been said to them in a letter by the deputy minister they were not going to meet with us and they all walked out.
That is, of course, extremely responsible behaviour at a time when we were to have one of our regular consultations. The member does not know whereof he speaks, because he has never been at one of those meetings. There is a great deal of sharing of opinion and information. Decisions are not taken at those meetings; we simply agree to discuss matters which are of interest to both the ministry and the teachers' federation. I believe that is a responsible route for a Minister of Education to take.
We also meet on an equally regular basis with the Ontario School Trustees' Council of the province, with the administrative officers of education and with parent-teacher associations of both the separate and public schools. I believe that consultation, in its most fulsome direction, is the appropriate kind of consultation for this province.
Mr. Bradley: Obviously the minister is not describing a confrontation she had with the OTF in January -- a consultation rather than a confrontation -- which lasted 30 seconds.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Bradley: However, that is not my question. Since the minister has obviously consulted with others in the cabinet and with the Premier, will she reveal to the House whether it is the position of the Premier that membership in OTF would not be a prerequisite for membership in the college? Does the Premier agree with her on that?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: First, that is not in fact what the article says. It says membership in the OTF is not a prerequisite for membership in the college and that is the position which I believe is appropriate. Whether membership in OTF will be mandatory or not is a matter for discussion and that is what we have been discussing. But membership in the college, which would be the licensing authority, would indeed be mandatory.
Again the member knows not whereof he speaks, because I did not have a 30-second meeting with the executive of OTF in January of this year.
Mr. Bradley: February.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: December.
Mr. Bradley: It was December.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Of course; I just told you.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
SECURICOR INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY LTD.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General and it concerns the practices of a company by the name of Securicor with respect to strikebreaking.
The minister said at the Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing that the president of Bedford Bedding and Upholstery Co. Ltd. had said private investigators working for Securicor were instructed to inform him of anything they found out about union activities.
The minister will know that in two decisions -- in the Radio Shack case and in the Automotive Hardware case -- the labour relations board found that for a third party to be hired by an employer and to report back to that employer concerning union activity was a breach of the Labour Relations Act.
This is now the third instance in recent memory we have had of this kind of activity being reported to the labour relations board. I would like to ask the minister if he has instructed the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate this situation? Is he in a position to tell us today whether or not criminal charges are going to be laid over this matter or over the previous matters against Automotive Hardware and Securicor?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, concerning the questions the leader of the third party has asked me about the background information as to that particular firm, I am not positive whether it was one that was involved in the Radio Shack decision he mentioned.
On the other two, yes, the OPP is conducting an investigation into Securicor as a licensee under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and that is taking place at the present time.
Questions have been asked of this minister over a period of time as to the ongoing procedure in the investigation. They have been answered forthrightly, sometimes with exact dates, sometimes also in consultation with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) where it applies to those situations. Indeed today, as the honourable member can see, a bill that would prevent this practice being carried on in the future has been introduced.
The member has heard the statement made by the Minister of Labour in that particular area. I know members have asked about the procedure and when the investigation will be completed, but I must say it is not an easy investigation. There are people to discuss questions of fact with: indeed, the OPP investigators have been discussing the matter with the solicitors for the different unions involved. They have exchanged information and have been co-operative on those issues.
After the investigations are completed. discussions with the law officers of the crown in the department of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) will reveal if there is sufficient evidentiary material to warrant the laying of charges. The member mentioned criminal charges; there may instead be a hearing under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act. That is an issue that has not come to a specific conclusion yet, but I am sure in the next short while I will be able to decide whether or not to proceed with hearings under that act.
Mr. Rae: Perhaps the minister can answer this question, which is a very simple one: Securicor has been found guilty of breaking the law of this province. There is now evidence with respect to Bedford Bedding and Upholstery Co. Ltd., which could well lead to the same conclusion in another instance. Just out of curiosity, I would like to ask the minister how many times a security firm has to break the law before he orders a hearing about its licence?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The Bedford incident is just a recent one and there is an ongoing investigation. In regard to the Automotive Hardware incident, on which the Ontario Labour Relations Board made a decision, one has to appreciate that it went on for a considerable time. I believe the member for York South would appreciate and would have wanted a fair and impartial hearing before the OLRB, as we did.
That fair and impartial hearing came to a conclusion with which I am sure the member for York South and other members of the House could agree. Having had that, the decision is made in consultation with the advisers and the investigators and the registrar. Undoubtedly a hearing will result once that conclusion has been arrived at, after discussions with the law officers of the crown and the investigating officers. Therefore, I am sure in the next while, in the fullness of time, we will have something with which the members will be pleased.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, the minister is so vague on this matter. Let me go back to the question my friend and colleague the leader of the third party asked. Can the minister give us some specific timetable under which he and the registrar will take action to take away the licence of Securicor under section 17 of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act?
I ask that, given the very blatant and continuing examples of this firm in terms of impeding good labour relations, which his seatmate the minister spoke about less than half an hour ago. How much longer is it going to be before he takes action to remove this company's licence?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: On the matter on which a question has been asked, there will be a situation where the registrar will call for a hearing under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act. If there is sufficient evidence to warrant the calling of the hearing, that is the procedure. There are some discussions, and naturally so, but the investigating officers want to be able to present evidence to the law officers of the crown so that when proceedings start there will be sufficient evidence.
I am sure the members opposite would not want a hearing commenced where insufficient evidence would be put forward and charges would not stick. In the vernacular, I am sure members would want that which is put forward to stick. Therefore, there is some degree of diligence in this matter to make sure the investigating officers have thoroughly covered all the areas so that when they have a hearing they will be able to put forward the evidence they are sure will result in the procedure I am sure the members would prefer.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that of a number of the major strikes where Securicor has been involved -- we were able to check seven with such involvement -- the length of the strike ranged from 66 days at Canada Cement, 67 at Canadian Canners, 87 at Wardair, 202 at Automotive Hardware and 418 at the Elk Lake Planing Mill: an average of better than 172 days, and we have not added Central Precision to that?
Does the minister also realize that the average length of a strike in Ontario, when workers are forced to that decision, is 30 days? Does he not see what his lack of action and his government's lack of action has done in terms of poisoning labour relations in Ontario and undermining any sense of fairness for the workers in this province? Is he prepared to widen his investigation and to go back over these obvious and blatant misuses of the laws of Ontario?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton East has given me the names of those situations and those strikes previously and I can tell him that I know the investigating officers have gone over those areas. I am sure the member will understand that some of the information is not available to officers after an event has passed in a manner that I am sure he would want. In fairness to all participants, in hindsight, that information is not always available, as the judicial system, the hearing system and the procedural system of this province would desire.
The fact the member points them out and says they are involved does not in itself warrant that a hearing be called under the act. As the member has probably seen today, my colleague the Minister of Labour has put forward amendments to a piece of legislation which will be far superior to a hearing under this act and will try to eliminate all that activity in the future. I think if the member bears with that piece of legislation it will be far superior than what we would probably get in a hearing under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act.
Mr. Rae: It appears one can break the law with impunity in this province and carry on as a private investigator. That is a disgrace.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister responsible for Women's Issues. The minister made a statement today in which he patted himself on the back for a number of pages. He said, "Training and experience are the pivotal issues with respect to jobs for the future."
I would like to ask the minister if he will comment on the statistics with respect to apprenticeship programs for women which show that while there has been a nine per cent increase in apprentices there has been a 44 per cent decrease in women apprentices in Ontario, between March 1981 and February 1983. I would like to ask the minister to comment on that figure. How does that figure jibe with the fine rhetoric he presented to the House today with respect to women and jobs?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the honourable leader would want to be fair; it was a progress report. I am sure the member would not disagree with the statement he used in the preamble to his question. The question he asks me was asked in this House three weeks ago today, and those facts and figures were discussed quite openly here in an exchange on the day my appointment was made.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) would be the first to agree that she would like to see those particular figures much better. The apprenticeship programs are open equally to men and women. The member will understand, if he goes on to read that statement -- and I am sorry it has been interpreted the way he has done because I was hoping it would be a very factual statement with respect to what happened in Ottawa last week -- that there is a great deal to be done with respect to breaking out of this occupational segregation to which reference has been made on a number of occasions and to make sure women see themselves as being candidates for those career opportunities.
There is nothing in the rules and regulations as they are administered by my colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities that would preclude women taking advantage of those programs and that emphasis will continue to be placed.
Mr. Rae: The minister said Ontario can be proud of its progress on a number of important issues as they relate to women. With respect to this specific program, women in apprenticeships, there has not been progress; there has been a distinct lack of progress. There has been a falling backwards over the last two years.
Can the minister tell us what steps he is putting forward specifically to deal with this policy, or this result, of de facto discrimination against women? Whether the minister likes it or not, the result is highly discriminatory in terms of the participation of women in many trades which are going to be well paid and which are going to be the trades of the future. Can he please tell us what programs he is putting in place to end this kind of de facto discrimination?
Hon. Mr. Welch: May I repeat that in the exchange on this particular fact I think it is stretching things to suggest that, as I was talking in the first part of the statement about affirmative action, I was necessarily attempting to minimize the concerns, which are equally mine, that more women are not seeing the opportunities provided in the apprenticeship program. The member will also know that if he were to examine the secondary school programs there are programs specifically related to encouraging people to take advantage of the apprenticeship programs.
In case there was any misunderstanding, let me add my voice to others who would like to see those figures much better. As far as women taking advantage of this are concerned, there are a number of things. In this House about a week ago today in response to programs related to training, particularly the National Training Act, the Minister of Colleges and Universities was making it quite clear that certain resources would have to be expended to help women bridge the academic gap in order to take advantage of some programs because of having opted out in mathematics and the sciences earlier in their academic careers.
There is a lot to be done. I am the first to admit that we have to improve that record. To suggest there is de facto discrimination, as if there is some overt activity, is very unfair. I think we have to do a great deal together to make sure that women see themselves as candidates there. Certainly, I am here adding my voice and wanting to encourage that result.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, in his statement, in which the minister pats himself and his ministry on the back, he points out that this has to do with the effect of having women move into apprentice roles because of the companies they work for. He says, "To date, consultants have assisted 220 major employers in the development of affirmative action strategies," which presumably would include, in some cases, apprenticeship programs.
Is the minister aware that those 220 major employers over the last seven and a half years represent barely 25 per cent of the major employer groups that the women's bureaus were designated to go after in 1975? Does he not think it is about time we got serious about affirmative action and got that number up? Is he satisfied with 25 per cent after seven and a half years?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. But I have just been at a national forum and the Ontario record is there for all to read. There are 304,000 women involved as a result of the private sector having been encouraged to get involved. I simply invite the member to compare that with what is going on in the rest of this country.
Of course, we are not satisfied. There is a lot more to be done. That is what makes this job very challenging. The whole idea of voluntary affirmative action has produced the results as they are today. There is a great deal more to be done. The government, joined by the private sector to the extent to which the member makes reference, has many examples of success stories and, indeed, is working to improve upon that foundation. I think it is important. I am only sorry the member was not with me last week, because it is sometimes good to go and take a look at what is going on in the rest of the country. He would have been pleased to see the position Ontario enjoys in this particular area.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, is the Minister responsible for Women's Issues aware that in the trades that are considered nontraditional, such as the construction trade, the motor power trades and the industrial trades, the total number of women in apprenticeship programs in 1983 was only 161? This was 0.4 per cent of persons in apprenticeship programs. It is down from the previous two years when it was 0.5 per cent. So we are going in the opposite direction to the one we should be going in the nontraditional trades. What is the minister going to do to open up apprenticeship opportunities in nontraditional trades?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question. It does help to underline, once again, the importance of recognizing that women should be introduced to those occupations and careers that the member has referred to as nontraditional.
In Ottawa last week, for instance, when we were discussing the National Training Act, and I am sure the member is familiar with that, I complained that the 40 designated occupations that are at present the subject matter of that act are all nontraditional occupations in so far as women are concerned.
What we have to recognize is that there would have to be resources and emphasis placed on financing the bridge that is going to be necessary in academic upgrading, to which my colleague the Minister of Education and Colleges and Universities has made reference on many occasions. We have to upgrade the basic academic qualifications, which will then enable women to take advantage of the training in nontraditional occupations.
I simply invite the member and others to help me make sure that message is quite clearly understood. We really have to back it up. We are talking about young people in the elementary and secondary school system who may, by intention, through courses and choices, have dropped their sciences and maths. Now, recognizing where the future is in certain job opportunities, they need to get caught up. That emphasis has to be brought into sharp focus.
I am quite satisfied that the Minister of Colleges and Universities, in her area of responsibility with respect to apprenticeship training and skills training, has these matters very much in hand.
MALVERN SOIL CONTAMINATION
Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment and has to do with radioactive waste. In view of the fact that the Malvern Waste Removal Act, which was to have provided for the removal of radioactive waste from the Malvern area, has not yet received second reading and we have never been told where that waste is to be located, can the minister indicate to us whether any further discussion has taken place on the location of that site, and will he confirm or deny news reports which indicate that north Hastings county is being designated as a site for the disposal of the contaminated soil?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether that was an inquiry leading to an offer on the part of the honourable member or not. I point out that I am not sure his generosity is shared with the member for that riding but --
An hon. member: Or some other ridings over there.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is right.
The answer to the first part of the member's question is that there is an ongoing effort to find the most appropriate location for the soil, one that has required a tremendous amount of effort on the part of the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells). I can assure the member there is no consideration being given to the relocation of the soil in Bancroft, if that is what he is referring to, certainly as far as this government is concerned.
Mr. O'Neil: It is my understanding that the minister's officials work quite closely with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and that he is aware of any discussions or press releases that are put out. It is my understanding that a press release was put out the other day.
I wonder whether the minister is aware that Faraday township council met this morning, as well as the people from Bancroft, and they are dead set against even any feasibility study being done; they are also against the dumping of that nuclear waste in their area. I find it very hard to understand why the minister is not aware of that at this point. Is he aware of any of this?
Mr. J. A. Reed: Are you aware? is the question.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am very much aware, but I must say I am not sure what the question was.
I am not the minister responsible for the Atomic Energy Control Board. I am aware that AECB has had certain discussions with municipalities. I do not know all of the municipalities with whom they have had discussions.
I think the member is mistaken with respect to the legislation to which he initially made reference, because I think he is talking about two entirely different issues.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, the minister was here last October, along with the member for Scarborough North, when we debated Bill 174 on the Malvern soil. Why is it that the member for Scarborough North, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) and this minister cannot get their act together and come to an agreement with AECB and Ontario Hydro, which has already licensed sites to store low-level waste, to temporarily move that soil to one of the Ontario Hydro sites while the process of establishing a permanent site is going on?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that there has been no lack of co-operation on the part of any minister in this government, any member on this side of the House or any provincial crown corporation in seeking to find an appropriate site for the temporary storage or otherwise of this soil. All options have been explored at this point, and it is my expectation that the members will soon be hearing the decision.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. The question is in regard to his role in administering the use of crown lands in the province.
Since Denison Mines would require a Ministry of Natural Resources permit to use the Stollery Lake trailer park site for extraction of sand and gravel, will the minister intervene to protect the tenants, many of whom are unemployed, by making it clear to Denison that the company will not get a permit from the ministry to extract gravel from that site and by helping Denison find another site to obtain the gravel it needs?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to look into the matter and will get back to the honourable member by Thursday.
Mr. Wildman: While the minister is looking into it. will he discuss with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) the possibility of taking action to improve the security of tenure for mobile home park tenants and to require the landlord to give a longer period of notice before they can be evicted when a mobile home park site is to be used for some other purpose?
Hon. Mr. Pope: I will convey the member's feelings about this matter to the appropriate authorities, but it is not within my responsibility.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that people living in mobile home parks have problems greatly different from tenants who live in apartment buildings, houses, etc., in that they are unable to obtain conventional mortgages on their mobile homes. There are great restrictions in many municipalities as to where mobile homes can be situated.
These people are not adequately protected under the present laws, so the only alternative for their protection at present is for the minister not to issue an excavation permit to the company asking for one until present laws are changed. Will the minister consider taking such a step as not to issue any permits at present?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that I will consider the matter. We do have applications for gravel pit permits from time to time. They tend to be controversial issues in different parts of the province. That will never change. If there is some way in which we can accommodate the tenants of the mobile home parks, I will be pleased to try to do so.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General. Legal abortions in this province can be performed only with the approval of therapeutic abortion committees at accredited hospitals. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the well-known abortionist, held a news conference this day indicating that next Wednesday he would be opening in this city a free-standing abortion clinic to operate in defiance of the existing law. On more than one occasion the Attorney General has publicly stated he will enforce the laws as they exist with regard to abortions in Ontario.
Given these facts, what specific and effective action does the minister propose to take at this time to stop the operation of an illegal abortion clinic?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am sure my colleague the member for Oriole appreciates the day-to-day enforcement of the criminal laws of this country are the direct responsibility of the police force in the particular area about which we are now talking, Metropolitan Toronto.
I am quite sure the Metropolitan Toronto Police force is well aware of the statements to which the honourable member has referred. As I have said in the past, if there is an evidentiary base upon which the police can come to the conclusion, upon reasonable and probable grounds, that an offence under the Criminal Code has been committed, then I assume the police will be laying a charge or charges.
I think we can all assume, quite properly, that the local police force is quite competent to review this matter and to collect any evidence that might need to be collected or might be required in relation to a breach of the criminal laws of this country.
Mr. Williams: Given the fact that at the same news conference today Dr. Morgentaler stated he would be asking the Metropolitan Toronto Police to protect the women who come to his clinic, what protection is the Attorney General going to provide to the unborn children who cannot protect themselves from being illegally killed at Dr. Morgentaler's clinic?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: With the greatest of respect, I do not think this is the appropriate forum to get into a discussion with respect to the very difficult and complex issue of abortion generally. My concerns are related to the respect for the laws of this country. While the day-to-day obligation is that of a local police force, obviously an Attorney General has some responsibility if a local police force does not appear to be prepared to carry out its responsibility. In this case, I again repeat, I am totally confident the Metropolitan Toronto Police force will carry out its responsibilities.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, given the very strong position taken on this issue by both the Attorney General and his colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman), if in fact a prosecution does take place, will the Attorney General be prepared to seek an injunction to assure himself that such a clinic will remain closed while the prosecution is proceeding through the courts?
The Attorney General will recognize that the purpose of the question is to avoid the clinic continuing to operate for a long time while such a case could be dragged through the courts.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, until we know that there has been a breach of the criminal law of this country, I really think it is a little premature to speculate as to what the appropriate action should be. The matter is obviously going to be monitored very closely.
EXTENDED HOURS FOR LICENSED ESTABLISHMENTS
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations concerning a certain convention taking place in Ottawa this weekend.
In view of the fact that this government in its wisdom extended the hours of opening of taverns and bars for the World Bank last year in Toronto and for the American Republican Party in Windsor a few years ago, can the minister tell the House whether the same courtesy was offered to the federal Progressive Conservatives, who are having their leadership convention in Ottawa this week?
Specifically, can he tell this House what representation his seatmate the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) and the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) made to him in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members on this side of the House are just awestruck at the interest the honourable member is showing in this party. Does this mean there is some significant event about to take place? Is that a shaft of light descending upon his seat? Is he on the road to Damascus? What is this all about?
I think the member has not recognized the fact that this is a Conservative Party and the very issue he has raised is one he always wanted to be liberal about.
I am sure the member will follow with interest, as I will, the events that take place this weekend and will follow all aspects of them. I do not know what time he will have to stop following them and will be able to have a glass in his hand, but I am sure he will be able to follow them and enjoy them all.
Mr. Boudria: Speaking for the hospitality and tourist industry of the Ottawa-Carleton area, I wonder whether the minister can tell us if this is just another case of this government forgetting eastern Ontario when it comes to our share of getting the tourist dollar. If it is good for Windsor and it is good for Toronto, why is it not good enough for Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member must feel like a lonely voice over there, because most of Ottawa is sitting over here as I look around me. I must say although it is Tuesday, he is still all alone over there on that side.
In all seriousness, the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario has not advised me of any applications, nor do I have any personal knowledge of anything.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education and it concerns special education classes in London, Ontario.
When the New Democratic Party task force on education held its hearings in London, we learned that the London Board of Education has 18 classes for children with specific learning disabilities. Each of these classes should have a maximum of eight children, according to the ministry regulation under the Education Act. The London board insists on enrolling 12 in each of these classes.
Can the minister explain why this is happening? Why is the London hoard apparently breaking the ministry's regulations under the Education Act?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the honourable member has raised this question. He apparently wrote an open letter to me about it last week. I know all the news media have received the letter. I have not seen his open letter yet because, as usual, the member for Oakwood sends me his open letters one week after he sends them to the news media.
The individuals at the London board who are responsible for special education are very experienced. I remind the member that the director of the London Board of Education, Dr. Madge Hardy, who is a provincially and nationally recognized expert in special education, favours the structure they are using. It provides for not only a certified and qualified special education teacher but also an experienced assistant in each of those classes. This ensures that the appropriate supervision and teaching program is being delivered.
That is the position of the London board and we are discussing it at present. I recognize that they believe they have a valid argument and a valid basis for that argument. Certainly it is a matter we are looking at.
I recognize, as apparently the member does not, the expertise in special education of that board's director of education. As a noncertified -- and certainly nonprofessional -- nonteacher, I would not question that individual's expertise.
However, I will discuss with all the boards the matter of the numbers of students that should be in classes and the appropriate supervision.
Mr. Grande: Basically what I am saying is that the minister should enforce the regulations she and the ministry have said should exist in Ontario. I have already brought her two cases. One is at the Scarborough Board of Education and involves kids with multiple handicaps. It is supposed to have a maximum of six, and they put nine in those classes. The London board is supposed to have a maximum of eight, and now it puts 12 in these classes.
Does the minister not think it is about time she enforced the regulation? If this kind of thing happens at the London board with that director of education, what is happening with special education children elsewhere around this province? Does she not think it is about time to set up a commission to look into this and report directly to this Legislature?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The process for implementing special education legislation is very vigorous, open and ongoing. It involves a very large number of people both at the local board level and from the Ministry of Education.
I should like to remind the member that traditionally the Ministry of Education does not enforce regulations with the characteristic mailed- fist approach the members of the New Democratic Party would like us to pursue. We consult, negotiate and discuss matters that relate to educational programs and supervision. That is precisely what we are doing in this case.
Mr. Foulds: Coming from you, that is rich. We would take that from anybody else.
Mr. Rae: What do you call Bill 27? Talk about a mailed fist.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: For the information of the Minister of Education, and perhaps for her information only, while the article in the London Free Press referred to an open letter, the statement I made on May 26 was a press release; therefore, I did not think I should follow the rules of sending a copy to the minister three days in advance.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is the minister monitoring the planting progress of this year's crops? As growers switch from long-season hybrid corn to short-season hybrids and to soybeans -- we hope not to buckwheat, but that is a last resort -- is the minister making sure we have supplies of those seeds and of the chemicals that are going to be required for those various programs?
Will the minister call a conference among some of the other ministries that will be concerned, such as the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Labour, since the processing of crops will be compressed into a very short harvesting and processing period, which will create a number of problems. The agricultural community wants the minister's assurance that it can go ahead and will have a sympathetic reception next fall when all these problems will hit us.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to the first part of the honourable member's question is yes, we are monitoring it very closely.
In answer to the second part, I would have to say that my experience both before and since joining the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has been that the other ministries have always been very co-operative when there has been need for their assistance. Depending on the effects and the outcome of the harvest in the fall, certainly we would be looking to the other ministries to support us where that is appropriate.
LICENSING OF HAIRSTYLISTS, HAIRDRESSERS AND BARBERS
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and signed by approximately 4,000 people; it reads:
"We believe the province of Ontario and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should be aware that the people of Ontario associated with the certified trade of hairstylist, hairdresser and barber want and need this trade to remain governed and licensed by the province of Ontario for the welfare of the public and protection of this profession and industry."
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. Harris from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 43, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Hon. Mr. Gregory moved that the standing committee on general government be authorized to meet this afternoon to consider Bill 41, An Act to regulate the Granting of Degrees.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Gregory moved that the House adjourn at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, and stand adjourned until 2 p.m. on Monday, June 13, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, first reading of Bill 61, An Act to regulate Off-Road Vehicles.
Motion agreed to.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Ramsay moved, seconded by Hon. G. W. Taylor, first reading of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the bill would prohibit any person, employer or employers' organization, or any person acting on behalf of an employer or employers' organization, from engaging in strike-related misconduct or hiring or acting as professional strikebreakers.
PLAIN LANGUAGE ACT
Mr. Mancini moved, seconded by Mr. T. P. Reid, first reading of Bill 63, An Act to require that Consumer Contracts be Readable and Understandable.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, the bill requires that consumer contracts be readable and understandable by the ordinary consumer. A consumer contract that contravenes the detailed requirements set out in subsection 2(1) may be rescinded by the consumer, who is also entitled to recover any damages suffered as a result of the contravention and may be entitled to any punitive damages.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES AND RESPONSE TO PETITION
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 194, 204, 205, 220, 225, 226. 227. 264, 278, 292, 293 and 294: the interim answers to questions 207 to 219, 221 to 224, 229, 233 to 263, 265 to 277, 279 to 291, 295: and the response to a petition presented to the House, sessional paper 60 [see Hansard for Thursday, June 9].
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker. on a point of privilege: Since the Minister without Portfolio is presumably placing answers to questions put on the order paper, I do not want to let this opportunity go by without informing you that I recently received a supposed group of answers to some questions that had been on the order paper for a lengthy period of time. The answer was that I should obtain the answers to these questions during the estimates. I want to tell you, sir, that when we are in the estimates, we are told to put questions on the order paper, and when we question ministers in the House, we are told to send letters and put questions on the order paper.
I want to bring to the attention of the House that it does not matter where we go for information, we are always stonewalled by this secretive government that has been in power far too long.
Mr. Speaker: As the honourable member knows, that does not constitute a proper point of order or privilege. However, I am sure the House has noted his concerns and will act accordingly.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
TOWNSHIP OF VAL RITA-HARTY ACT
Mr. Piché moved second reading of Bill Pr25, An Act to continue the Corporation of the Township of Owens, Williamson and Idington under the name of the Corporation of the Township of Val Rita-Harty. Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
EMERGENCY PLANS ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 2, An Act to provide for the Formulation and Implementation of Emergency Plans.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, as has already been indicated, we will be supporting this bill. We have certain reservations about the bill though, some of which have been drawn to the attention of the House and some of which I want to draw to the attention of the House at this time.
In looking at the bill I notice with interest in the definition part of the bill, section 1, that in clause (k), dealing with the definition of "municipality," there is a conspicuous absence of counties. I am not quite sure whether that was intentional by the minister or whether it was an oversight. Maybe with his lack of municipal experience, he was not aware that the counties very much wanted to be involved, and wanted to be concerned in this particular legislation. I am sure that had he consulted the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the many municipalities across Ontario, they would have concurred with me that counties should be involved in the definition and in part of this bill.
Just to show how contradictory this seems in this bill, we see that counties are omitted from the definition section in clause 1(k), but when we deal with subsection 3(3), we find that, "The council of a county may with the consent of the councils of the municipalities situated within the county co-ordinate and assist in the formulation of their emergency plans under subsection (1)." If they are supposed to co-ordinate the plans of various municipalities, why is it so much to ask of counties to be involved in asking for emergency aid, as we are discussing here?
While we are talking about certain sections of the bill, I want to point out that in subsection 4(2), dealing with terminating a particular emergency, the head of a council or the council of a municipality may have an emergency terminated and then, in subsection 4(4), we have it that the Premier of Ontario may have it terminated. To save some ink and be consistent, I could not understand why the Premier would have to be mentioned in a separate section from the head of a council and the council itself. Why would they not combine those two sections, unless the Premier (Mr. Davis) wanted to have a separate section for himself and dictated to the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) that was the way the bill was to read?
I often hear how much the Premier defends the parliamentary system in Canada, and it is right he should defend it. He speaks about how our system is better than the American system. Then we find the Premier of the province may declare that an emergency exists. That is the same kind of power the governors of states in the United States have. It seems he is trying to borrow some of the powers they have in the United States arid ascribe them to himself.
We are not opposing that particular part or saying the Premier should not have that power. It is interesting that, when somebody from the opposition side of the House suggests something from the American side should be duplicated or copied, the Premier is the first one to stand up and shout to high heaven about protecting the flag, protecting the monarchy and never copying anything from the United States. But here we find the Premier of the province, in his wisdom, wants to have this power ascribed to himself so he can exercise it.
I have noticed that in a number of cases the Premier has gone down to a tornado-stricken area to visit it and to assess for himself whether it deserves emergency aid or not. I might say in passing that when we had the last emergency, when the tornado went through the area surrounding Sarnia, we found at that time, when I suppose the press was hot on his heels and he was contemplating more things than concern the Legislature of Ontario, that in fact, on that day he was having a press conference to say he was not going to be a candidate for the leadership of the national Conservative Party.
I am wondering whether this bill will mean that in the future he will definitely go to all emergency areas or all areas that might be candidates for emergency aid, and assess for himself whether a particular area deserves aid or not.
I want to get back for a moment to subsection 3(3), which speaks about counties. If we are going to have counties to co-ordinate these emergency plans, I think it would be better still to include counties in the original definition of municipalities. Then one could delete that section where they have to co-ordinate because they would already be involved.
In dealing with subsection 11(4) where it says, "For the purposes of this section, 'municipality' includes a local board of a municipality and a county," we could delete "county" in that context too. If the minister is going to be consistent, he should include "county," but if he is not going to include "county," I notice in section 5 he refers to "the county of Oxford" which is slightly different from some of the other counties across the province. Nevertheless it is a county or is regarded in technical terms anyway as a county.
It is hard to find certain consistencies in this act. I am wondering whether the minister would like to explain that.
The other point that has been raised by my colleagues, particularly my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), is the contingency fund that should be established. Rather than have a helter-skelter approach as we have had for many years as far as emergencies are concerned, a particular formula could be devised whereby, if local money is raised, then the province would opt into that fund on a ratio of three to one or four to one, or something of that nature.
I think the government owes it to the taxpayers of the province to come forth with a formula that would be incorporated in legislation so that municipalities that were candidates for emergency aid would know where they stood. They would know the government had some kind of policy on this rather than the helter-skelter approach it has exercised so frequently in the past.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I will deal with the comments of the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) first, because they are fresh in my mind. He asked why the word "county" is not included in clause 1(k) of the definitions section when, later on, the bill says counties can assist in the formulation of plans.
I believe the background on that was that in the counties there are many independent municipal bodies that might, because of their size, have an emergency within their own territory which would not co-ordinate with a county situation. As happens from time to time, even in the best-thought-out plans, one could get into jurisdictional disputes as to whether there is an emergency as defined in the act.
Mr. Epp: That could happen in a region, too.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes, indeed.
We have it down in the definition at least to the most logical local autonomist group that could have an emergency, and then have moved up to take recognition that there is the description of a county. In many situations, the small groupings of a county may want, as happened in my area, to participate in a larger county emergency planning situation. We feel, in this situation, the lowest common denominator being less than a county in size, it could be the one to declare an emergency and terminate one and would want to work on the plans for that, recognizing a larger unit as well.
The other concern the member mentioned was why there were two subsections mentioning the council and the Premier as being able to terminate an emergency. That is one of the amendments out of the development of the legislation in that it was contemplated that one could have different situations. It was put forward to us that one could have a situation where a head of council might declare an emergency. It may or may not be one that should be continued. It may or may not be an emergency such as the act contemplates. This allows people, such as the head of council, to terminate, where in their opinion the emergency situation has terminated. It also allows the Premier to make that declaration.
It may be that in the draftsmanship, and that is up to greater draftsmen than I, that could have been inserted with the other terms in a lead section. However, the people who drafted the legislation put it in a separate section, thus also emphasizing the fact that the Premier is the one who could be ultimately responsible for terminating, as there is another subsection about declaring a state of emergency. The Liberal ex-leader, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, mentioned in the debate yesterday that, like the governors in US situations, we have situations where they want to declare an emergency and everything comes in.
The member also said the Premier downplays the US, yet he has taken unto himself some of the powers of the US. I think our Premier has been one of those who, although he is very patriotic and acknowledges our traditions in this area, also praises some of the features he recognizes as the good features of the United States of America. They have some situations where the governor takes power under certain emergencies. We have here a situation where we have to recognize an ultimate person is responsible, particularly in disaster situations.
When we talk about flying down to a particular disaster situation, I recall the Premier was down to one. I do not know why he was not down to the most recent one, but I know the lead ministers, those initially responsible, the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett), did attend the most recent one in Sarnia, as they do often in these situations.
It is even portrayed in the film industry. I recall in a film called The Candidate the reigning politician arrives on the disaster scene via helicopter. So I think we are following all the traditional ways in which we are supposed to look at disasters. I say that in a jesting manner, but there is no less concern by those individuals when disasters happen and they do attend upon them.
The funding of emergency situations has been mentioned by several honourable members. In regard to direct funding for disasters, it was not contemplated that this bill would address that issue and it does not, as the members have mentioned. It is in another area. From time to time, the criticism has been that it is not as precise, there is no formula, it is ad hoc; yet we can all acknowledge that each emergency has been taken care of in its own particular way. Maybe some people, when they are deciding upon it, would say that the ad hoc, ad lib method sometimes provides for a better solution than one that might be devised under a particular formula.
The member for Waterloo North also mentioned subsection 11(4) and suggested deleting the word "county." Probably this could be taken up in clause-by-clause debate, but subsection 11(4) applies to personal liability in connection with people who may act. There may be situations where a county official or a member of a council acts in good faith, and there may be plans that have been put together in co-operation with the county. So we have relieved them by again mentioning "county" in subsection 11(4). We relieve those individuals of liability where it may possibly occur. That is the reason "county" is in subsection 11(4).
That seems to cover the general comments made by the member for Waterloo North.
I will move to the comments made by the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham), who started the debate yesterday. I do not think he is up to date on some of the situations in this ministry, and quite naturally so. He is not the critic of the ministry or its plans. He was talking about multi-automobile collisions, and whether they should be an emergency or not. We do have a very elaborate automobile extrication program currently in place. I am quite proud of it. It flowed out of the efforts of the Chairman, Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) and myself, from the Simcoe rescue squad, and has been elaborated on by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. They pay for some activities where a rescue squad goes.
Funds have been made available for certain units to obtain automobile extrication equipment. The sum has been something like $250,000 for the past two fiscal years. Certain individual municipal groupings can obtain matched funding to provide for equipment for automobile extrication. It is in the area where most people recognize it is best and most ably handled, through the firefighter groups in each municipality.
The member mentioned Dr. McMurtry and the paramedic situation. I know in the area that member represents there is to be a paramedic pilot project. Dr. McMurtry has been very supportive of both the paramedic and the automobile extrication programs that have been going on.
He also suggested that the expanded definition of "emergency" should include "disaster." I can only say that the legal drafters of the document believe the present definition of "emergency" contains in its wording a situation that could be labelled a disaster.
An hon. member: Is flood plain mapping included in an emergency?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The member will have to speak up.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): The honourable member is not in his seat.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I will ignore the interjections, Mr. Speaker.
I believe he mentioned something about the recovery of costs being automatic after an emergency. I think the section we put in there is designed to specify that the costs that are put out for an emergency are recoverable.
Previously parties had to apply through the common law, through certain features of negligence actions or through other case law to decide whether costs were recoverable from the person, company, individuals or whoever caused the disaster to happen. Section 12 specifies that in cases where there is liability against someone, the costs flowing from the action are recoverable against that individual. It is specified right in the act that when one spends money as a result of an emergency, for whatever reason, he or she can go back to the person or group that is responsible and claim costs.
That member also talked about disaster funds in the same way.
The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) was going to ask for certain explanations, but I think we can wait until the clause-by-clause discussion. We can explain each clause as he wants it developed because he was talking in a general way of the explanation of each clause. He supported the bill and I think he discussed it previously in the estimates as critic for this ministry. He said quite rightly that municipalities cannot do items that are contrary to law.
I think there should be ongoing discussions with the federal government concerning present security legislation covering emergencies, disasters or whatever else. Today, with our Charter of Rights and other legislation, there should be nothing contrary to law. Prior to this piece of legislation, there was some discussion as to what powers police officers had during emergencies and disasters and what they could do in regard to evacuation or non-evacuation. I think this is now spelled out in the bill more explicitly.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk made some comments about the recent simulated emergency we had at the nuclear generating station at Pickering. I should comment on that at this time because there was some suggestion in the media that we were not totally prepared. I would prefer to say we were not totally prepared in relation to the media.
We had programmed it as a mock situation and made provision for coverage by students from different journalism schools so they could practise along with others in the exercise. The regular media paid some attention to it and there was some discussion over a part that was not prepared to function at that time. However, that was only put in at the last minute as an extra convenience to see if it would work or not. It was discovered that it was not hooked up correctly at the time the full-fledged media contingent was there.
Overall, when we go through these exercises they show us and indicate to those people the deficiencies we have. That is the purpose of the mock exercises, and having carried out that one, we have seen where some of our strengths and weaknesses lie. Each time the co-ordinator for emergency planning tries to find different solutions when certain answers to particular situations have proved to be less than the best answers to problems raised in emergency planning.
Mr. Nixon: Is the minister suggesting the one weakness he has is not having enough press relations officers?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: No. We might have had too many on that occasion, and maybe one made a comment that should not have been made. Naturally that made an interesting story that day. I might add, for the member --
Mr. Nixon: Leave it all to Allan Dickie.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: No, it was not my press adviser, Allan Dickie. However, we have seen some of the deficiencies and frailties both in the physical setting and in some of our activities that we hope to correct in the future. Each one, as the purpose of the mock situations happens to be --
Mr. Breithaupt: You want a sign saying, "This disaster is brought to you by the Solicitor General."
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes. Always, as the member for Kitchener says, more signs, more advertising. I am sure he would not let us put that style of advertising forward. This ministry does not have the budget for that.
However, we are pleased to bring forward these exercises. Although they are only exercises, the people involved in them carry out their activities with a degree of realism that I am sure would serve us well should a real emergency of any nature occur. That is why we try to see that these duties are transferable to other emergencies.
That applies to the training in all those fields. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk mentioned the Ontario Provincial Police being at the more recent one in Sarnia. Both the police and the firefighters are the vanguard and the people instantly on the scene. Part of their training and background is to deal with these emergencies. We are continuously developing more of that information. The same is true with the lead ministry concept.
The member will see from some of the sections of the act that each minister is responsible for presiding over an emergency plan for his ministry. It brings together a lot. When one gets into this, it is quite intriguing to see the number of overlapping situations one has to provide for. One may think a particular ministry would not have anything to do with emergency plans, but one may discover it does. For instance, one might say the Ministry of Community and Social Services would not, but during the Medonte situation the minister had to evacuate people from an establishment there. Issues develop in themselves, such as how does one evacuate such establishments?
There are many volunteer organizations that dovetail into the government exercises. When we get into firefighting in the north, there are professional people involved from the ministries of the Environment, Health, Labour and Natural Resources. They all bring their talents. There are also many volunteer organizations, such as the Red Cross, St. John Ambulance and other service organizations in the communities. Surprisingly, all those groups come forward with great dedication and assist us in these emergency situations, both of the simulated variety and in the real ones that have been so expertly watched from afar, such as those in Mississauga and Medonte.
The member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) talked about the local services boards. I am probably not nearly as familiar with their duties and makeup as he is, but it was an area the Ministry of Northern Affairs looked at. The content of the bill was reviewed by them. They suggested we have local services board in there because they may have individuals and equipment that might be necessary in an emergency and therefore it would be possible for one of the individuals or the Premier to say, "By the way, we want certain equipment for our emergency." There are certain sections in here where, if the disaster develops to a greater extent, the Premier or the designated minister can call on equipment or people from another municipality to participate in a disaster in an adjoining or another municipality. That is some of the background and reasoning behind why a local services board is included within the definitions.
Basically, I have commented on the remarks of each of the members who have participated in this debate. I hope it was a little more elaboration behind the reasoning for some of the sections and some explanation of some of the sections. As I have said, one of the major features that happens not to be in this bill, and I mentioned that earlier, is the disaster funding, but it was not intended to be in the bill. That is excluded from the bill as not being one of those considerations this ministry has been involved in.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
EMERGENCY PLANS ACT
Consideration of Bill 2, An Act to provide for the Formulation and Implementation of Emergency Plans.
On section 1:
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rotenberg): What is the first clause?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Clause 1.
The Acting Chairman: Clause 1, Mr. Minister.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I do not know whether the members want to stop or just to proceed through.
The Acting Chairman: Shall clause 1 carry?
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Chairman, perhaps the minister could advise us; does he have certain amendments?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I have no amendments to the bill as put forward.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I have one or two matters which I would like a little clarification on, such as the question of the definition of "emergency" in clause 1(c) of the bill. I take it that when the minister is talking about an emergency with respect to the operation of this bill he is talking about what could be called an emergency within Ontario and he is not talking about matters which would bring into play the acts of the federal government under, for example, the War Measures Act.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, that is correct, although it has already occurred once, as the honourable member has mentioned, within this province. While I have had this office of Solicitor General there was a chemical problem in the eastern townships of Quebec. It was initially discussed that the winds were sending that towards Ontario. As members know, the eastern townships of Quebec are very close to the border, so we could have --
Mr. Breithaupt: Do you mean the western townships?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: No, no. The eastern townships are very close to the border of Ontario.
Mr. Breithaupt: You said it was the eastern townships of Quebec. I am sorry.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The eastern townships of Quebec, that is correct. One could visualize it if the emergency were of such a nature that one could activate certain provisions within the province although the disaster was outside the border. Similarly with nuclear disasters; we have related plans with our bordering states where they have nuclear reactor situations, so I would not say, as the member says, it has to be wholly within Ontario before the provisions of the bill became active.
Mr. Renwick: I would like to clarify the relationship between the government of Ontario and the federal government in the case of a disaster which brought into play the War Measures Act. An article which was published in the Globe and Mail some considerable time ago now. December 19, 1981, dealt with this situation. It was talking at that time about the powers of the Metropolitan Toronto council under a bylaw which was passed by that municipality in 1980.
It had this to say: "What all this assembled Metro power can do in the most disastrous emergency is anyone's guess because they will be more or less stripped of all executive and legislative power. Assuming a hit on Toronto was part of a larger international action, the entire country would be at war and quickly subjected to emergency regulations flowing from the War Measures Act and whatever supplementary emergency legislation the federal government deemed necessary.
"The Metro politicians and administrators would simply act on instructions relayed from a similar bunker" -- in this case they are speaking of the bunker at Aurora -- "beneath Camp Borden southeast of Barrie, this one occupied and intended to house Premier William Davis, members of his cabinet and administrative staff for the entire province. Davis would be the governor of the Ontario region, theoretically more powerful than any Metro functionary, but himself governed by orders from the federal bunker, which is a hard-topped model located outside Ottawa in Carp, Ontario, and supposedly capable of withstanding a direct blast."
My question, therefore, is in relation to that comment of a situation with international repercussions where the War Measures Act is in force and where the federal government assumes control of the country. What is the planning, what is the co-ordination and role of co-ordination which takes place between the minister, as Solicitor General or as a member of the government of Ontario, and the municipal government in any part of the province, and between the provincial government and the federal government in that kind of situation?
I am speaking about a situation where the federal government would assume the powers to govern the country under the Constitution and through the War Measures Act.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I think the member for Riverdale has accurately formulated from that article the progression of power there is under the War Measures Act or the powers flowing from it. That would be a disaster of a national nature in regard to war with other powers. In that situation, yes, this bill would be subjected to the national cause and I think the article so states the present chain of structure.
One of those is that the Premier and certain members of the cabinet have certain responsibilities that would dovetail into a national emergency, such as hospitals, health, environment. Certain key ministries and the Solicitor General would dovetail into an international emergency of that scale, follow the federal legislation and this legislation would not be applicable.
The carrying out of duties and the development of plans would in some way, if such an occurrence were to happen -- and I am sure, like all people, we would never want such an occurrence to happen at the federal level, but if it happened we are still developing what is referred to as a memorandum of understanding between the provincial government and the federal government as to the exact detail of duties and how they should be applied and how they can be worked out.
We have not yet got that memorandum of understanding completed. One would have to say, to use an example, the Ministry of Health operates hospitals within Ontario but in a disaster of an international nature it would probably be commandeered by the federal government. Yet all those people would have to apply their knowledge and training and experience and skill to that particular emergency.
I think the federal government's documentation recognizes that we have the facilities in place to take care of the population, directed from Ottawa, recognizing that it would be an international situation that brought the War Measures Act into play in the manner the member for Riverdale has mentioned. We recognize that chain of command, the documentation and procedures whereby we dovetail with the federal government.
Mr. Renwick: I take it what the minister is saying is that for practical purposes in that kind of an emergency situation involving the federal government and the War Measures Act, as yet there is no co-ordinated plan with respect to the fulfilment by the government of Ontario of responsibilities to the federal government in its supervisory or total control of the country.
I take it he minister is saying to this assembly that this government has no plan with the federal government about that kind of an emergency.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I want to respond to the member for Riverdale and then I will carry on with it. Just quickly, there are procedures on paper to be carried out -- I know they are in the federal books -- that would say certain people would go to the bunker at Borden and other places, yet there is still this --
Mr. Nixon: Has that got a new carpet?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: As a matter of fact they did not have carpet when I was last there, but knowing the federal government they might carpet it, as the member said.
By way of memorandum of understanding, some fuller details on a war measures situation and an ultimate responsibility are still being developed. Without going into great detail, I know there are procedures to be carried out and it is laid out, as only the federal government could, as to who is the designate, who happens to be responsible and what categories of responsibility are in their minds and on paper. As to whether there is total unanimity and agreement, I do not think I could confirm if that is totally in place.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I want to follow on the member for Riverdale. I happened to visit that place at Camp Borden a number of years ago and I was interested in it through the emergency measures network. Back in 1962 or 1963, there was supposed to be an early warning system tied in with a regional centre at Oakville, Ontario, and with the one at Camp Borden.
The underground vault there had a large supply of food and other things for the cabinet ministers who would be transported up there in case of a national disaster of some sort -- such as nuclear fallout. There was a decontamination chamber. If anybody did come in with nuclear fallout they would come into the big meeting room very well cleansed of any radioactive fallout.
The early warning system cost the federal government, along with Ontario, an enormous amount of money to construct all of these air raid warning systems in each municipality. In some cases they may have had three or four. A few years ago the dream was, for example, to have a fallout shelter built of cement blocks on every corner in the city of Welland. That is how far back we were thinking about it, when we talked about emergency planning programs.
How successful is this early warning system? Has the minister ever activated one of these air raid sirens? They are in every municipality at a tremendous cost. When the minister talks about establishing an emergency system here, maybe they could be used to warn residents of a flood, perhaps a disaster -- a heavy rainfall, a tornado or something of that nature that will hit a community. I think one of the problems on the Grand River, for example, in the flood that occurred there and was under the control of the conservation authority, was that they were not giving out signals to the residents of the area about the possibility of a flood due to the heavy rains.
What type of a program does the minister have? He talked about funding, he wants to get the municipalities involved in emergency measures. Yet calling on the 911 number is perhaps one of the best ways to handle an emergency. Many municipalities cannot afford it. For example, in the Niagara region when you have so many --
The Acting Chairman: Remember we are dealing with the definition section of the act.
Mr. Haggerty: This is right.
The Acting Chairman: I think you have wandered a wee bit from the area of the definition of "emergency" which we are talking about. Please try to confine yourself to the definition section.
Mr. Haggerty: I am talking about the same principle as the War Measures Act. We have all of this equipment built in these municipalities. One of the things I am trying to drive home to the minister is that I do not think those things have been successful, at a cost to the taxpayers.
The Acting Chairman: I think that is beyond the definition section of the act.
Mr. Haggerty: I know the chairman comes from the municipality of Toronto, where the 911 number has been very successful in the emergency plan and rather conservative in cost. I am suggesting that if we are going to establish a program under the definition of emergency measures, one consideration by the province should be the use of the 911 number across the whole of Ontario, perhaps to have only the one number to call for any emergency. I just bring that to the attention of the minister.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Very briefly, I understand there is only federal funding for that early warning system. It is their system and I believe they have been informed that there are 1,700 of these sirens across Canada. They are under federal control.
In some situations we are negotiating with the feds to allow for local use but, as usual, at a cost. I must say I have heard them only once in my lifetime, when they went off by accident and had to be shut down. The one we have in my community of Barrie happens to be sitting right on top of the bell tower of the municipal building, city hail, and is the focal point -- and rather an ugly focal point at that. I am sure if it were to be used it would be loved by all; however, right now it is an ugly eyesore.
That is all I can say on those early warning systems. They are in place. I know they are dovetailed and controlled and accentuated on a large map at that bunker at Base Borden the member has referred to.
The member has mentioned other items there, and I am sure he has seen them and other members know about them. The elaboration of what is there would not help the debate on this definition section 1.
The Acting Chairman: We are still on section 1.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, relating it, as I always do, to the definition of "emergency" in clause 1(c) of the bill, I have here the emergency planning order, which is order in council 1981-1305, May 21, 1981, of the government of Canada, an order providing for general emergency planning. That is, so far as I am aware, the planning order under which the government of Canada deals with matters related to emergencies.
I note paragraph 4 of that particular order in council, in reference to the emergency plans and arrangements referred to in the preceding part of the order in council, says:
"Shall include plans and arrangements for the provision of emergency planning assistance and advice to the governments of the provinces, and through such governments the provision of emergency planning assistance and advice to the governments of the municipalities of those provinces; the provision of assistance in any joint federal-provincial development of regional emergency plans and arrangements; the development and maintenance of plans and arrangements for war," etc.
I do not intend to get into an argument with the minister about these matters. My concern, which I am endeavouring to express during this opportunity to have at least a few minutes of exchange on the question, is that there appears to me to be a total lack of preparedness with respect to the kind of emergency where the federal government's power would be asserted under the peace, order and good government clause in relation to the provinces.
Apart from this memorandum of understanding, is there any of the preparedness in co-operation with the federal government apparently envisaged by this order in council? Whether it is a legal document or not is not for me to say. I want to know something of the kinds of planning envisaged by that order in council, of the co-operative arrangements in place so that if that kind of disaster strikes this part of the country there is a preparedness plan which can be implemented and put into effect immediately. What comes across to me is that the bill we are speaking to today has no relationship to that kind of planning.
Is there a preparedness with respect to the kind of emergencies and kind of co-operation and planning envisaged by the federal emergency planning order in relation to this government? Is this government not taking any steps with the federal government to prepare to deal effectively with that kind of disaster should it, God forbid, strike this part of the country?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Again the member for Riverdale has got into an area which he mentioned he did not want to debate, the order in council, which is a very debatable subject. But at present, the federal government departments under that order -- although we will not want to debate at this time the legality of such an order or whether it is approved by everybody -- are planning for an international or wartime situation. There is a feeling, on the legal side of it, that they do need legislation to activate that order in council.
We have viewed area wartime planning as a federal responsibility that naturally needs federal leadership. We can look upon what the federal government is doing with our ministry and with the co-ordinator for emergency planning in Ontario in consulting on and developing this memorandum of understanding, but I must concur with the member that there is nothing specifically in place that says, "The province of Ontario has agreed to do this; the federal government has agreed to do this."
We know there are certain jurisdictions that the federal government has, and if a wartime emergency took place it is the overriding governing authority. It has designated certain fields and certain people in the province to be part of its plan. As mentioned, the Premier goes to the bunker at Camp Borden and that becomes an area under federal planning. Under this legislation, and in the preparedness of emergency plans for any community, we hope that through the learning experience and planning in that area, some of those plans will have an applicability to a federal situation -- not all of them, I recognize that, but some of them.
If emergency preparedness under the provincial legislation is applied locally, naturally some of that knowledge and information may be transferrable in a war situation, but I have to concur with the member when he says there is nothing that dovetails it all so that we open up a book and it says the federal government tells us to do this. We are in total agreement with that at this time, we are co-operating, but there is not a total package set out before us at this time.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I wanted the bill in committee for a number of reasons, but one of them was to draw out that kind of situation.
May I just ask the minister whether, in the light of this discussion, he would raise with his cabinet colleagues and with the government of Ontario the necessity of engaging the federal government in the kind of preparedness that would not leave this province in a state of ad hockery, if one could be jocular about a serious matter, where perhaps the minister would be sitting with the Premier at Camp Borden, while the Metro chairman, Mr. Godfrey, and Police Chief Ackroyd would be sitting at Aurora, the Prime Minister of Canada would be sitting at Carp, and they would all be waiting for one to phone the other to give the orders that were to take place.
Without being an alarmist, one can raise a question of preparedness. My major question is simply to ask that this kind of initiative be taken if the federal government, apparently, is not interested in taking it, on its part, in relation to the provincial government.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: First, Mr. Chairman, there are ongoing discussions on the memorandum of understanding. Second, I must say somewhat in defence of the federal government and the provincial government that they have overall schemes, as the member has mentioned, as to who goes where and what is applicable; but in all these we are working out the detailed plans of the package as to who shall bear those ultimate responsibilities. Naturally, there is some ongoing discussion between governments on that matter.
It has been discussed at cabinet level. It will be discussed at the forthcoming ministers' meeting on this, so it is ever present on our minds and is being discussed. It is very difficult to go into the details at this time, but I can assure the member we are discussing the details of an emergency plan in conjunction with the federal government.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Chairman, I want to engage the minister for a few moments on something that is real in terms of a potential emergency. In reviewing the existing legislation, it makes provision for certain people to act and gives them the authority to declare that an emergency exists.
The minister will know what happened near Midhurst as a result of a railway spill and what happened in Mississauga where it was possible, with some good planning, to avoid what could potentially have been a disaster of major proportions. There was a lot of dislocation of people and a lot of expense as a result of the Mississauga situation.
Certain recommendations have come from the Grange report, but I want to engage the minister in terms of an emergency under this act in areas where it is primarily a federal responsibility. I am thinking in terms of airports, air traffic and railway traffic, for example. They are clearly the responsibility of the federal government but because of the nature of this legislation, the provincial government would be called upon to react in a particular emergency.
I am sure almost every member of this House can point to specific cases in northern Ontario where the situation is very dangerous, where it would constitute a hazard and an emergency of major proportions under certain circumstances. For purposes of my argument I will refer specifically to four communities where the transcontinental rail line bisects the town and there are people living on both sides. These are Marathon, Nipigon, Red Rock and, on the north line of the Canadian National Railways, Longlac.
In the four instances I have mentioned, there is only one level railway crossing at grade that provides ingress and egress from one side of the community to the other. In the three along the north shore of Lake Superior, where there is only one level crossing at grade, it provides the sole exit from that portion of the community. The only alternative is to head for the lake.
The prevailing winds are from the north and sometimes there are toxic spills, these happen sometimes in paper mill and pulpwood mill towns. We have had some chlorine spills and some where there were near misses. I invited representatives of the Railway Transport Board to come up and investigate those situations.
They found it hard to believe that we had towns of 2,000 to 3,000 population where if an accident occurred at the grade crossings there was no way of getting people out in the event of an evacuation order. They were very disturbed about it and immediately started looking around for an alternative.
We know that overpasses are very expensive. We know underpasses are very expensive. The immediate suggestion was to look for an alternative route in the event of an emergency. Such emergencies do happen from time to time, when a car or a truck stalls on the only level crossing in town. If a train comes along and hits the vehicle there could be a derailment and for several hours there is no possible way to get those people out.
Is it possible for the minister personally and his ministry to look at those situations? We should talk in terms of preventive medicine and say: "These are potential disaster areas; so let us look at ways of co-operating with the federal government and the local authority to see if there are any ways we can minimize the effect of such scenarios."
It seems to me all too often we say: "We recognize it as a potential disaster area but we have nothing to react to until we do get an emergency situation." I think this legislation, if broadened or liberally interpreted, would give this ministry the opportunity to go around and look at potential disaster areas and, in concert with local government and the federal authorities, provide an alternative exit from those communities under circumstances I have just tried to explain to the minister.
A lot of the chemicals coming on the market now are travelling by train. One can get the improper mix, as the minister knows happened in Midhurst, I think, where there was a good deal of apprehension. There were some tank cars containing toxic chemicals, there were others nearby with flammable materials; there was the kind of mix that automatically occurs, as in Mississauga. One really does not know what one is dealing with.
I am asking whether the minister thinks it would be possible -- I am not saying he would do it before we give final passage to this piece of legislation -- to set up any mechanism to alert the federal authorities when he considers a situation to be potentially dangerous. Where the Railway Transport Board obviously thinks so it is trying to co-ordinate the railways and the local government authorities to provide an alternative route.
I wonder whether the minister sees this as an area where he can do some preventive things, perhaps not using provincial dollars, although maybe in certain circumstances that would be justified and appropriate. I am thinking in terms of identifying potentially dangerous or emergency situations and coming to grips with them in advance of a catastrophe. Does he see this as a role his ministry could play?
We realize the provincial authority is much closer to the people. People I took from the Railway Transport Board could not believe there were places in the heartland of Canada where the railway bisected communities, and if the railway crossing were blocked, there would be no possible way for those people to get out in case of a dangerous chemical spill if they were downwind from a spill, that the only way would be to take to Lake Superior. Does the minister see that as a legitimate role for his ministry to play under those circumstances?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, I know the gentleman is knowledgeable in the area of railways and the communities in the north. I believe, and even the railways are acknowledging, that there would be problems with these communities should an emergency occur, as we have seen in Medonte and Mississauga. One can be tied in.
That is also proof of the soundness of the style of legislation we have. We want the local communities to take some initiative in planning. Our provincial co-ordinator, who has already been going out to communities where he has been requested to attend, has helped them develop their plans with his knowledge and background. There is that service available through the ministry, for the provincial co-ordinator to sit down with these individuals and survey their communities and say: "Yes, we can assist you. Here are some recommendations we can offer to you," recognizing as we do -- and the member has far more of that knowledge of the northern communities, particularly some of the railway communities -- that the only way in and out is the rail line.
Earlier, the member mentioned the problem we have with regard to jurisdictional disputes. That has always been a difficulty, because as he probably knows, the railway land is primarily governed by federal legislation; however, there is a certain amount of co-operation. We acknowledge that in some situations the railway is the only way in. We now have both Canadian Pacific and Canadian National addressing themselves by developing teams and equipment that can handle certain rail disasters and get there quickly by the only means, the rail line. I think they are recognizing some of the responsibility.
If I can recall the Medonte situation, there was some concern about whose jurisdiction this is because it happens to be on the rail line. One recognizes very quickly that this is a very thin thread of land and one cannot solve the problem by keeping everybody else out when one needs the services of both those who are along the rail line and those who are outside.
I think there is a recognition of the need for co-operation in an emergency that might overcome those niceties of jurisdictional legalities when one looks at the jurisdiction and the law of it. I am sure the co-ordinator of emergency planning, through the ministry, would be only too delighted to go up to those northern communities to assess some of their needs and offer background information and advice.
Section 1 agreed to.
On section 2:
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, this is one of the sections where I feel it might be possible for the minister to put an amendment before the committee which would indicate his acceptance on behalf of his cabinet colleagues of some financial responsibility for the emergencies which we know will be visited on the community of Ontario in the future.
As we have already indicated in the second reading, little or no reference is made to paying the cost inflicted on the community by various emergencies, except the single reference to the municipalities which are empowered to pay some of the bills under certain circumstances.
I was going to suggest to the Chairman that we might add the following words to section 2, which says at present: "The Solicitor General is responsible for the administration of this act." I would add, "and may authorize appropriate payments from the consolidated revenue fund for the purpose of meeting any part of the approved cost of a designated emergency."
The Deputy Chairman: Is that an amendment you wish to make?
Mr. Nixon: It is an amendment I put before you, Mr. Chairman. I have been told there is not much sense arguing about it since it calls or might call for the payment of money and we know that is sacredly held in the hands only of His Honour's advisers. My own feeling is that it does not call for the expenditure of money; and knowing the present minister, who would be in the charge, the chance of it costing us a nickel, except perhaps for his inspection tours, is not very great.
I put in the word "may" because that is the way it has been in the past. Emergencies, by their very essence, must leave many decisions in the hands of the officials selected and others who are designated by this bill to take charge and control. In the past, as we know, and we talked about this in second reading -- I am just going to make a brief reference to it --
The Deputy Chairman: Do you want me to accept that as an amendment and read it in?
Mr. Nixon: Not if you are just going to rule it out of order.
The Deputy Chairman: I am just trying to consider that factor. You keep talking and I'll tell you.
Mr. Nixon: My own feeling is that I am not awfully keen. Unless the minister shows some interest in it, there is not much sense in going through that fandangle anyway. It is not our intention, unless I am convinced otherwise by the throng of Liberals who are supporting me at this moment, that we go forward with a vote on a division.
It seems to me very strange indeed that there is not even reference to a regulation where the government may establish a formula for payment of costs, either based on 100 per cent of approved cost or some proportion based perhaps on how much is raised locally. In other words, if the local community has a certain level of interest in raising funds to support dispossessed home owners or damaged property, then the government might see fit to come in with a certain share.
We know that in certain disasters the government has promised, with much fanfare, to contribute $4 for ever $1 raised locally, or $8 for every $1 raised locally. I sometimes feel, and I fear, having been around this place quite a long time -- nobody has chimed in "Too long", so I am not going to give them any further chance -- that the proportion of assistance seems to depend on sort of the political prospects in the area. That probably is too cynical even for me; yet when we see what has happened in various parts of the province I do feel a certain concern in that connection.
I do not want to argue about the amendment, because I would just like to persuade the minister, who is the minister in charge now, that he ought to give himself the authority and the power -- and I am sure he would be supported on all sides of this House -- to have the right to pay all or part, on some formula that need not be set down in the bill if it is not the wish of the minister or of his advisers. As the emergencies come forward, I feel certain he and his colleagues are going to want to make the gesture of offering the sort of assistance that is so essential. It is essential in terms of the actual dollars forthcoming, and it certainly gives a lift to the people who are standing in the devastation following the storm or the fire or the flood that at least somebody at a distance, at the provincial capital, not only knows they are in trouble but also is prepared to apply some resources to assist them.
It may be that the minister feels he has such powers hidden away in some regulation-granting section of the bill, but my own view is that he should be very careful that the bill does not go out of committee unless he is convinced that if a tornado tears through Barrie and Simcoe county tomorrow, he has the power to see that provincial funds are applied to assist the citizens in his own area, as I am sure he would be prepared to do in other areas.
This might be done through the issuance of an order in council, but surely if we are preparing an emergency measures statute and putting in place a foundation for regulations and accepted practices, there ought to be a reference to the acceptance by this House of the responsibility of it meeting at least a share of the costs that inevitably accrue in emergencies of the type we are discussing.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I would like to support what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has to say about it. I happen to have the minister's statement of March 11, 1982, to the assembly about the Medonte problem, and I recall to the minister's mind his own comments in that statement.
After he explained the course of the disaster that had taken place, the emergency and what was done to avert it, and after paying tribute to all those who participated in it, I think his following remarks are very appropriate having regard to the remarks of the member who has just spoken.
The minister said then: "My primary concern at the site was public safety. When asked by the media, I did not address the issue of compensation. When it was discussed with the Premier, he acknowledged there was no way the 3,200 residents of Medonte township could afford through their taxes to mount the massive undertaking needed to contain such an emergency. I have assured the reeve that none of the costs incurred by provincial agencies will be passed on to the township. The province has also said it will assume the firefighting costs incurred" -- which in this case were principally by the volunteer firefighters of Medonte township.
"I would like to urge CP Rail to act as the good corporate citizens they advertise they are and reimburse those evacuees who incurred out-of-pocket expenses, particularly the seven families who were out of their homes for more than a week. It would not cost anything near the amount of money the company paid out in the Mississauga emergency. CP should also consider some form of compensation to the township of Medonte, associated with the costs of fighting such a fire. There are hundreds of Medonte townships along the railway lines in this country and they simply cannot afford the costs incurred by such accidents."
I take it the minister recognized what the previous speaker has said, and I would appreciate it if he would comment in response to his inquiry.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, as to the inquiry, as I mentioned in the general debate on second reading, the amendment has been put forward, but I have no jurisdiction or authority to put forward such an amendment.
The bill was not contemplating compensation of individuals or municipalities in an emergency or disaster, other than laying out the groundwork. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) mentioned that I chided and commented to Canadian Pacific in that situation. That is why I put in section 12, which recognizes that costs are recoverable against the person or individual who caused the emergency. This lays out, in effect, a civil liability.
In speaking to the Premier one recognized also that in some situations, and particularly this one, there would be a call on a municipality for expenses, that taxpayers could not be expected, on behalf of a larger area, to warrant the costs. In that situation, one saw a lot of provincial assistance coming in from the Ministry of the Environment with their "super snooper." I notice the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) is here at this time. There were numbers of people and health care units from the Ministry of Health. There were firefighters and the Ontario Provincial Police, and all the services attached to those bodies.
Sometimes when they are brought in to play in some municipalities there is a transfer and exchange of costs. In that situation one wanted to recognize immediately that there would not be any consequent cost to that municipality for provincial assistance and for the added expense of recovery, and that Ontario was going to provide for that cost.
Had this incident happened anywhere else in Ontario, I am sure assistance would have been made available. It has been there in other disaster or emergency situations. As I mentioned at the outset, I do not have in this legislation the ability to allow for an amendment that would provide for emergency funding. It was not a consideration of this legislation, which was to provide for plans in emergency situations and not for the funding of emergencies as has been requested.
Mr. Nixon: I would like to say a word or two further about this. I am very disappointed the minister is not going to provide at least a reference in the bill to the requirement that the consolidated revenue fund may, at the behest and judgement of the cabinet and advised by the minister, in this case the Solicitor General, make funds available on a formula it may, from time to time, establish or vary.
The making available of funds is about the only truly useful thing the Solicitor General and his ministry can do. When I look at the management of emergencies, I am not at all relieved. I do not mind the Solicitor General being the minister in charge. But I am not at all relieved by the idea that some official with a name designated in his bill is going to be sitting in an office and he the person who is going to have the main responsibility.
I would just as soon have had Hazel McCallion looking after things in Mississauga, as have the Solicitor General, who went out with his white horse and his cape and his photographer, and evacuated the city. Then the people, who were out for four days while the whole world was waiting for Mississauga to blow up, all lined up at the CP wicket and collected their money, and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) had a book published. It was called Disaster Averted, or something like that. There were 22 pictures of the Solicitor General, usually in profile, with flickering flames behind him.
Hazel would have stamped those flames out and nobody would have had to move out of town at all. There are those who may have thought the Solicitor General, in some small particulars, over-reacted to the disaster. Naturally, that is not nearly as strong a criticism as would have been levelled at him if he had left the people there when there had been an explosion. He made his decision.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Hazel could not have stamped the flames out. She had broken her leg, remember.
Mr. Nixon: She could have hit them with her crutch. I know Hazel. She used to be a Liberal, for about three weeks. I can tell the members she is a very effective person.
In my own experience, going back to the tornado, it was the reeve of the local township who was out there with the police, the firemen and the local farmers with their chain-saws, who really knew what they were doing. I should say to the Solicitor General that, while I have a great deal of confidence in him and goodwill towards him, I hope his own good judgement will leave the leadership to locally elected or locally designated officials.
It leaves him with one important thing to do, which is to provide some money the morning after so that people know, when the winds die down and the water abates, there is going to be a cheque somewhere to assist in cleaning the place up, rebuilding the buildings, cutting down the trees and taking them away, and not leaving it to the taxpayers of the local community, which I certainly believe to be unfair.
It is interesting that two or three years ago when we seemed to have $50 million or $60 million of lottery funds lying in an account -- the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) had not started dispensing those to quite the same extent he has recently; I suppose his predecessor was dispensing them -- I suggested the funds might be formed into some sort of a revolving fund available for assistance in disasters.
Lo and behold, about two weeks ago, the Toronto Star on a quiet day dredged up this old hat suggestion and wrote an editorial beginning, "Once again, R. F. Nixon, former leader of the Liberal Party is wrong when he suggests that lottery funds be used for this purpose." The Star, as the members know, considers lottery funds sinful and thinks they should not be used for the appropriate purpose of restoring ravaged communities, but should only be used to hand out to orchestras and dance groups. I was surprised, but at least it had paid attention over those many months and years to a suggestion made by me that long ago.
I want to say again to the minister that I think he will regret it if he allows the bill to go to completion without authority being established for him and his cabinet colleagues to have a funding program, aside from the ad hoc program, which in some instances has been effective and sufficient and in others has been disappointing and tainted with politics.
I think it should be established in the bill. I believe he would be supported on all sides if he took that authority on himself. I suggest to him that a simple amendment would be possible, along the lines of the one I described to him. As a Solicitor General who has his feet under him, he is going to have the responsibility for this bill. We hope it is not going to be a big responsibility, but God knows what the future holds in this connection. He should have this power and he should offer an amendment that would accomplish it.
Mr. Haggerty: I support the suggestion of my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that the minister should provide some form of assistance in any emergency that may occur across Ontario.
In my area in particular, we are having some difficulty in the acceptance of the flood plain management program the conservation authority wants to establish. I support water management programs but, as it is at present, the conservation authority, along with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and the municipality, can designate a certain flood plain area as a hazardous area.
I think of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, who had a flood situation occurring on the Grand River; I believe it was Judge Leach's report that indicated the government should be moving in the area of providing flood insurance to those persons who are bordering a hazardous area along a river or stream. He indicated there should be some funding available in case of a disaster to enable these people to obtain flood insurance. Has the minister given any consideration to that?
I feel I am talking to no one over there. I do not know whether the minister is listening with the interruption of somebody else talking to him over there. Am I getting his attention?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes.
Mr. Haggerty: Or do I have to get a sledgehammer? I should tell him the story about the mule but I will not.
Anyway, I was speaking on Judge Leach's report dealing with the flood situation that occurred on the Grand River where a number of homes and cottages were flooded out. One of his recommendations was that some form of flood insurance program should be implemented by the province. It is no good having an emergency plan if one is not going to have some funding, to give the residents in the area municipality some hope that they can buy some form of insurance in case something does happen.
If one looks at section 3, it does not say the municipality "shall" pass an emergency plan; it says "may." Some municipalities are not even going to touch the flood plains criteria for that reason. They say it is only going to cause difficulties with the residents in the area and they want no part of it; they do not want to take part in the flood plain mapping criteria. I suggest to the minister that the word in there should be "shall" and then they can come up with a solid, emergency plan program that includes some form of insurance or even funding.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, I mentioned this to my colleagues earlier. The member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) mentioned the "may" section. He has moved on to section 3, which is the section the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk mentioned that allows a great deal of initiative at the local level where they would use their chain-saws and their own knowledge.
I think, again, it is recognized in that piece of legislation that some of the initial planning, and those who have a greater knowledge, will be at the local level. The "may" part of the section is again a feature of local autonomy, so that we will not be shoving something down their throats and saying they "shall" and "must" do these things. We think it is in all their best interests to put together an emergency plan.
The member for Erie also talked about funding; he mentioned the flood plain funding. It is a very difficult task to think of all the different situations where funding is necessary and try to develop one in a particular bill and, indeed, a formula that might apply to all situations so that we can, at this late time, put together an amendment whereby some of the features of emergency planning come in at the local area.
It does not mean that this has not been considered. It was considered but not determined to be a part of this legislation. One could imagine a situation where a local area could call something a disaster and then say, "By the way, send us the money." At the provincial level, one might not think it was a disaster sufficient to warrant the transferring of funds. So there are some complications in the drafting and amending of a piece of legislation at this late time.
As I mentioned earlier, it was not within the contemplation of this minister or of this particular legislation when it was proceeding through. Although I know I have the backing of the members on all sides of the Legislature, as the member said, there happen to be very few members in the House at this time so the backing is not as solid as I would want to make a major amendment to this act that would allow for a great deal of funding. I admire the members' recognition of my ability to do it within these four walls at this time with a pen.
Our present method, albeit ad hockery, is one that is able to suit the occasion of the disaster and has suited it with some degree of confidence and efficiency in past situations. I have the authority to allow that to proceed in the future by not recognizing it in this piece of legislation.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, on section 3: Is it the intention to urge each municipality in the province to have an emergency plan? And what will the minister do to stimulate their interest in developing such a plan?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes, it is. Even before the legislation was put together, the co-ordinator of emergency plans within the ministry went out to municipalities initiating discussions in a responsible way, by way of one program saying how it can take place, how it can better serve the community. He talked to different interested organizations, such as firefighters and the police.
I know that the firefighters' associations, indeed those that were involved in some of the situations in Mississauga and Medonte, have through their organizations stimulated interest in emergency plans. I have discussed with those groups the fact that it is a responsibility of the municipality and one that warrants consideration by them. Although some members may think it would be better if "shall" was in there rather than "may," to allow for local autonomy it is "may" in there. We will continue our efforts through the co-ordinator of emergency planning to make the provisions and knowledge of his area available to local municipalities and assist them in developing their emergency plans.
Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 7:
Mr. Renwick: I raised this informally with the minister very briefly. I take it that section 7 says that the Premier of Ontario may declare that an emergency exists throughout Ontario or in any part thereof and that is an all-embracing power and does not relate solely to the kinds of emergencies referred to in section 6 or section 8.
I am not at all certain there is anything in the bill to provide for who take the Premier's place if he happens to be unable to act or is absent. There is a provision with respect to the head of a municipality for another member of council to fulfil those duties, but there is no such reference in this bill that I know of. I simply raise it as a fact that if the Premier is out of the country, or for one reason or another is unable to act, there is no one who can act in his stead, as I read this. But I defer to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk who has more knowledge of these matters than I have.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is admitting that he has no knowledge of absentee premierships by not commenting. However, the member for Riverdale did discuss this with me.
Although it specifies in the legislation the "Premier of Ontario," one can come to some conclusions when the Premier may be unavailable. To be at a distance, whether one says at a distance he is no longer Premier, to be informed and to take that initiative, is one of those things that legal scholars may debate, I suspect. With today's modern methods of communication the Premier, as I am sure he would say, is always on duty and is always Premier of Ontario. There are certain situations where cabinet members are going to be absent, but there is a provision within the cabinet proceedings whereby there are designated ministers to whom those duties are transferred.
I would not even in this forum want to debate the legality of that and whether such things are of substance or not. For example, when the Attorney General is absent, I am the Attorney General and when I am absent, he is the Solicitor General. There are certain combinations where a minister may take over the duties of another minister. Currently, there is a provision, albeit within the cabinet procedures, for somebody to act in a particular situation.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, if I might make a comment also, it is very rare for the Premier to be designated in any of our statutes in this way. It certainly has always been the custom, as in the previous part of this bill, to give the administration of the bill to a minister. In this instance under section 2, it is the Solicitor General. The Premier has the special duty to proclaim an emergency when he sees fit, and he has the special responsibility to look to the funding.
It is a rather odd approach. I do not see anything wrong with it other than the point that has been made that if he is not here, if he is in Australia or Fort Lauderdale or wherever, it is difficult to determine how that section would work. However, we will see.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The legislative counsel has informed me that in the Premier's absence the authority for transfer of power to another minister is under the Executive Council Act. That is the statutory authority for that transfer of power that I know is a procedure within the cabinet.
When the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk mentions the difference in administration, I think the bill recognizes the Premier is the one who can declare an overall emergency. It is also inherent that in some situations he can designate that a particular minister will be the minister designate. For instance, the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) or the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) would probably be the natural ones to designate for forest firefighting in the north, because their ministries habitually deal with those emergencies.
There may be some disaster situations that could be entirely within the realm of the Ministry of the Environment. We could also speculate that there are some emergencies that would be totally within the realm of the Ministry of Health; perhaps an epidemic of some type. It would involve all the forces of a particular ministry without saying the Solicitor General is the one responsible. That is why the Premier is the designated person ultimately responsible for the declaration of an emergency or termination of one, and he can designate a particular minister to exercise those powers.
Section 7 agreed to.
On section 8:
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, this says, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council shall formulate an emergency plan respecting emergencies arising in connection with nuclear facilities and any provisions of an emergency plan of a municipality respecting such an emergency."
I was thinking along the lines of my colleague the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio). We were members of the select committee dealing with nuclear facilities and wastes. One of the difficulties we found during our hearings was that Ontario and even Ontario Hydro really lacked a plan of emergency in case of an event happening along a highway and so on. At that time, it was under the Minister of Labour; then it switched over to this minister's portfolio. The Ontario Provincial Police may have some say in the administration or provision of an emergency plan.
Has the minister updated that plan? What can we expect from it? Does the minister notify the different municipalities that there is some hazardous material being transported on our highways? What precautions are taken in case of such an event? For example, are local firefighters and police detachments notified that there is a movement of hazardous material through a municipality? Too often I think the emergency forces they do have, through their firefighters' associations and fire departments, are not notified.
As this government is moving into the area, Ontario Waste Management Corp. is considering constructing a site in the Niagara Peninsula. I take a look at that and think perhaps that should also be included in this bill so that somebody will be responsible for it, not just the municipalities. We could have people carrying hazardous material without them even notifying a municipality that such material is being transported.
Perhaps we would not even know what trucking firm was doing it or what material was there. It is great to say we have a code on some of these tankers that carry hazardous materials, but in case of a fire or accident or something like that where there is an explosion or rupture of the tanks, there are not too many firefighters who would be able to read the notice on the tank to see what is supposed to be in it. I suggest the minister should have the Ontario Waste Management Corp. included in this. That is what they are going to be dealing with -- hazardous material.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I will obtain for the member the details of any updating of plans in existence. I am not thoroughly conversant enough with the details to answer his question at this time, but I will obtain the information he has asked for in regard to section 8.
Sections 8 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 13:
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that the government of Canada has a very generous program, operated through the provinces, for assisting in emergencies. I believe it is based on a percentage of the population affected. Quite frequently the government of Canada is in a position where it contributes to the emergency, but I believe there has never been an occasion when a sufficiently large number of people, such as the population of Ontario, has been affected and I do not believe there have been any cases where the federal formula has been triggered.
Can the minister provide any detailed information about that? Would he attempt to discuss this with -- is it the Solicitor General in Ottawa who deals with the same thing? I feel Ontario has not been well treated by the federal formula which is not designed to deal with a province with a population of nine million.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: No. I would not be so partisan as to say that Ontario is never treated quite fairly if any formula is developed with the other provinces. However, there is provision for some emergency programs, although I am not sure of the details. We have one under which the municipalities can get some assistance, but this section deals primarily with agreements under which we do, from time to time, employ the services of the federal government -- through the armed forces, for instance. This to say that we can enter into those agreements from time to time and pay the costs. The federal government is delighted to offer those services, but there is always a price tag attached to them.
I am not aware of any other formula than the one where some municipalities can get matching dollars. I think the formula matches dollar for dollar when certain emergency programs are being set up; I think Brampton was involved in that one, as was Sarnia. With the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt), I have been down to visit that municipality, which has purchased a vehicle to be used for emergency situations.
The vehicle is equipped with certain electronic equipment that would be useful primarily in chemical accidents, because of the industrial base in Sarnia. Even though many communities have not taken advantage of that funding, the fund is available through the federal government and is administered by the province. That is the only one I am aware of; I am not aware of the Prince Edward Island one the member mentioned.
I have just been given an answer to the question: Ontario has never received money under that program. It is based on a formula of population and dollars per capita. The total cost of the emergency must equal the population before the federal government provides money.
Mr. Nixon: It has to be a $9-million emergency?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: It is a very intriguing formula --
Mr. Nixon: I can see why we're going to stick with it.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: It is a formula, not ad hockery, I would remind members. The member commented on the provinces disaster formula, but it is a formula which obviously, as he can see, would require a considerable disaster before Ontario would receive any money. I can tell the member we will try to negotiate some changes in that formula so that Ontario could receive some of that federal funding.
Mr. Nixon: Maybe when Michael Wilson takes over, the members opposite will be able to do it.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Receptive people might be there, should he take over.
Sections 13 to 16, inclusive, agreed to. Bill ordered to be reported.
MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS AMENDMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming consideration of Bill 3, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.
The Deputy Chairman: Continuing on this bill, we had all but completed section 2 and there was an amendment on the floor, which was dealt with. Are there any further amendments or comments on section 2?
Mr. Cassidy: I have an amendment, Mr. Chairman.
The question of lemon legislation was raised on several occasions by the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) who had an amendment which was, I am afraid, defeated by the House. The minister's parliamentary assistant indicated the government had something in this area in mind, but when I look back at the Hansard record his statement was rather ambiguous and equivocal. As some have said in this House, there have often been assurances that something was going to happen, then once the immediate occasion ended it never did happen.
Could the parliamentary assistant be much more specific and say if it is the intention of the government to bring in legislation modelled on Connecticut, California or Quebec with respect to purchasers of motor vehicles who get stuck with lemons? Could he indicate the nature of the legislation the government is considering and could he give a deadline by which it is the intention of the government that the legislation will be presented to the Legislature?
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Chairman, in all honesty I cannot give a commitment to the member for Ottawa Centre that there will be legislation this session, or just when it might be prepared for next session. I would be less than honest if I said otherwise.
In the ministry we are looking at the lemon law and extended warranty activity very seriously. I said to the member quite honestly that we have examined the Quebec legislation and are carrying out further examinations of it, and the legislation of British Columbia and other jurisdictions; but it would be wrong for me to imply at this time that there will be legislation forthcoming, other than to say it has been quite clearly discussed within our ministry, even at the policy level.
It continues to be an issue that we are trying to address; in fact. I am in the process of preparing a letter right now in response to a member of the Consumers' Association of Canada who raised the issue with me when I spoke to them in Hamilton.
I should also say that this particular bill is directed towards the motor vehicle dealers. Ideally, if one wishes a lemon law it should be directed beyond the dealers to the manufacturer. What we are attempting to do here is provide protection for those who have, for example, bought an automobile where the company has failed. I think I have given a full explanation as to the rationale behind the fund.
I must say in all honesty that at this time it is my feeling that this amendment is not applicable to this bill. Beyond the answers I have given the member for Ottawa Centre, I suppose I could very easily stand up here and say, "Yes, things are going to happen overnight," but all I can assure members is that it is under thorough and full examination as to the types of legislation and so on.
Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps I could be specific with the parliamentary assistant. I appreciate there is no amendment on the table now because the amendments were dealt with the other day. Is there a government commitment to the principle of a lemon law at this time, or is this process of study under way something which could be turned off if the member for London South (Mr. Walker) were to become the minister replacing the member for York East (Mr. Elgie) and a new hand was at the helm?
In other words, is this a government commitment or is it something which the civil servants are undertaking to study at the direction of the current minister but which could die if the current minister happened to be moved?
Mr. Mitchell: Again, with honesty, the examination and investigation of all of the existing legislation is being carried out within the ministry. I could not in all honesty say that the lemon law will be government policy. That has yet to be resolved on submissions to be made by our ministry to cabinet.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, not to the same point but on the same section, the parliamentary assistant will recall that we had a little bit of fun in this House on the last consideration of this bill when the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. M. Johnson) suggested that the uniform levy against the car dealers which is proposed by the minister was an unfair levy because of the difference in the volumes of sales and so on. We tried to move an amendment to include the wishes of the member, but were unsuccessful.
However, there is very real validity to the argument put up by the member. I think it has now been two weeks since we had this discussion and I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant could tell us whether the government is willing to make a change in perhaps two categories, three categories, or four categories, so there is at least some differential between the dealer who does $100,000 or $200,000 worth of business a year and the dealer who may do $5 million worth of business during a year.
I know the levy is not included in the legislation, or even the fact that it would be uniform. However, I think it was the minister himself, or it could have been the parliamentary assistant, who made a statement about the uniform levy. When there is that kind of dissent even within their own ranks, for a very valid reason, perhaps he would like to make a further comment about considering a categorical levy rather than a uniform one.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Chairman, it was myself who commented about the fee and the cost of approximately $150. However, I also tried to make quite clear that on passage of this piece of legislation there would be further meetings with the associations representing the dealers.
The figure of $150 was based on what it would normally cost for a bond for the same two-year period. However, on passage of this legislation further discussions are going to be held with the dealers' associations. In other words, we are not approaching it with a closed mind.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Chairman, I cannot believe the member could entertain this kind of bill without having some sort of scale in it that would be fair, based on the number of automobiles that are sold. It just does not usually happen.
In business, when we purchase bonds, they are always a percentage of the amount of money involved. We certainly would not expect a small contractor doing a job worth a few thousand dollars to be paying the same fixed fee for a bond as another contractor who might be bidding on a multimillion-dollar project.
This bill will seem grossly unfair unless the large dealers participating pick up more of the costs of such a fund. I think the member would be well advised to put to this committee something that would be fairer and more equitable depending on the size of the dealership.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I have not presented this as well as I should have. I tried to point out that once this legislation is proclaimed, we will have to amend the present regulations under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act. It is within the regulations that this fee will be struck. I can only assure the member that any fee settled on will be arrived at with the full participation of representatives of the dealers throughout Ontario.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr. Gordon, the committee of the whole house reported two bills without amendment.
COLLECTION AGENCIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Mitchell moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Elgie, second reading of Bill 4, an Act to amend the Collection Agencies Act.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, on this bill, which I hope will have the support of all, I merely refer to some comments made by the minister when the bill was introduced. As he pointed out, at present the Collection Agencies Act allows us to draw up regulations governing only collection methods. We are planning to formalize in the regulation what are collection practices. Basically, that is what we are trying to resolve. The difference between a method and a practice is not clearly defined; so the ministry decided its best approach was to amend the act to enable us to draft regulations governing collection practices and methods.
Such amendments to the regulations which will have to be amended will deal with such things as prohibitions on trying to collect money from someone who says he or she is not responsible for the debt, without checking all the facts. They would also prohibit phoning a debtor before he or she has been informed by letter that the account has been turned over to a collection agency, demanding payment of a debt without first identifying the collection agency, the individual collector and the creditor, or launching legal action without first telling the debtor. That is basically the rationale behind this bill.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have looked with interest into the explanatory notes which are provided for the bill and it seems appropriate to me that more careful distinction is given to include both practices and methods in the legislation. As the members are aware, the result of including these two items will be to allow regulations to be somewhat more broadly based and to cover a more general framework of activities for the collection of funds.
We are prepared to support this legislation. It is housekeeping in the sense that it resolves what has been considered a certain anomaly in the legislation. It is something that will make the proper administration of the activities of credit bureaux and other collecting agencies, which is the function of the ministry, somewhat easier and clearer in manner.
We do support the bill, and with those remarks I think there is really nothing more we have to say at this point.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few brief comments about the bill. I think, given the practices of some collection agencies in the past, efforts by the government to make it more difficult for some of those objectionable practices to occur would have, and do have, the support of this party.
As the minister has said, and the parliamentary assistant repeated, there are unsavoury tactics used to collect debts. I am not sure if those are their words, but certainly they are admitting that by deciding if one cannot distinguish between methods and practices, it is better to have them all regulated by regulations which can be enforced rather than by guidelines which cannot.
We are going to support this bill, and we are not going to propose any amendments. I do have several comments to make, though.
The process of making regulations in this area is one where I think it would be desirable to have public input. In a general way, we do not have a procedure by which that can occur. We do not have, for example -- as the British House of Commons does -- a procedure whereby regulations can be placed on the table of the Legislature or the parliament and left there for 60 days; in other words, a process by which interested parties or groups could comment on any proposed regulations and perhaps encourage the ministry to reconsider, toughen them up and perhaps correct areas where the regulations unnecessarily interfere with the doing of business without contributing anything in terms of the purpose for which the regulation was drafted.
I would like to ask the minister whether, at the very least, the ministry has considered having a process of consultation about regulations which goes beyond the association itself. I understand from the statement that there is an association which has recommended the measures that are taking place here. The industry has indicated it is generally in support. I presume it is the fly-by-nighters who would probably be opposed to this.
I would have thought that some people representing those persons who are the subject of telephone calls and letters from collections agents should also be consulted. I think of the trade unions; of the Consumers' Association of Canada; of possibly a panel of people representing such groups as the National Anti-Poverty Organization, the welfare rights groups and injured workers' groups, as well as other groups of people who are on marginal incomes, who have difficulty in making ends meet and who may often be the ones who are harassed by collection agents.
As I think the parliamentary assistant knows, the case the other day of Johnny Arena not being able to use his American Express card was extremely unusual. If you come from Rosedale or if you run a posh restaurant and you happen to run short, you explain who you are and there is no problem and no one harasses you.
On the other had, if you come from the wrong side of the tracks, from the wrong socio-economic category, you find that when collection agents find that kind of person on the other end of the phone, or if they can tell by the address that a person does not have much clout and does not have much political influence or power, that is when the harassment occurs. On an individual basis, many of those people are not in a position to fight back and often do not know where to go to complain about the tactics of collection agencies, despite whatever is done with the regulations here.
I would like an assurance from the ministry that it has actually decided to have a wide process of consultation or that it might experiment in this Legislature with the consent, which we can always give, possibly to put regulations for further changes on the table of the Legislature, perhaps 30 or 60 days before they are due to take place, so they can be circulated by members and perhaps by the ministry to a wide variety of interested parties with a view to possibly trying to get a broader consensus for them. It might be possible to get useful suggestions both from the industry and from the people who are consumers and who are indirectly, I suppose, the cause of collection agencies being in business.
The parliamentary assistant may recall the case a week or two ago of some poor individual who happened to get caught by a police file. This individual was going to take a trip outside the country. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police at this point turned collection agent. It checked into the computer and found this poor person had not paid some parking fines. The individual could not leave the country. The person was forced to cancel the trip, go back, pay the fines and show evidence of that. It probably took a week or a week and a half to get the computer sorted out before the person could actually take that foreign trip.
That is clearly an unreasonable type of collection agency practice, although not under the direct purview of this particular act.
We have to be aware of and have some balance between the right of people who do business to have a reasonable assurance that people will try to pay their debts and, on the other hand, the harassment tactics that take place.
I would also like the parliamentary assistant to comment on the other point I was interested in. I am sorry the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) is not in the House today because, as his recent book indicated, not only is he in favour of charging innocent victims of crime if they happen to be beaten wives, but also he is in favour of getting rid of regulations all over the map.
Here is a case where the Conservative government of Ontario, after all its promises of getting away from regulations and all of the concerns expressed about the over-regulation of society, is giving to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations more power to create more regulations to regulate a particular aspect of business.
I, for one, happen to feel this is an area where those regulations are justified. I see the parliamentary assistant is enough of a Red Tory to agree. His predecessor, Mr. Handleman, the former member for the riding he now represents, might not have agreed.
I think it is an interesting and practical example of the fact that regulations, in terms of creating a basic, decent way by which elements in our society relate to each other, are a necessary part of modern government. That is true whether the government happens to be New Democrat, Liberal or even Progressive Conservative.
I hope the parliamentary assistant will take that message to a few of his colleagues who are aspiring to be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. It is a fact that it is simplistic to argue, as far too many people in our society do, including many Conservatives, that regulations are somehow throttling our society, that there are too many regulations and that they wish to get rid of them all.
I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that if regulations are justified in this case when it comes to collection agencies, there are many other examples and instances in our society where regulations are desirable too. If the minister or the assistant wants to get up and say, "Yes, that is true, but not everyone in the book should be there and they should be looked at from time to time," I will definitely agree.
None the less, this bill is a concrete and supporting argument in the case that government continues to have a role in creating and ensuring that we continue to have a decent society where somebody who happens to have been unable to pay a debt, or perhaps has overlooked a debt, cannot be driven into the poorhouse or harassed beyond belief because of the activities of some fly-by-night collection agency.
We will support this bill. I would like to hear that the minister plans to have a wide variety of means by which there can be consultation about the regulations he has proposed to adopt under the skeleton legislation being presented here.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the comments and suggestions of my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre. I also want to read into the record a letter I received just two or three days ago from a constituent. He is not my constituent but a person who lives in Port Colborne whom I have known for a number of years.
This letter justifies the position taken by my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre that there should be wide discussion on the regulations and guidelines, and even further that there should be the opportunity for individuals to appear at some point before a committee of some kind to give their input. The letter, dated May 30, 1983, came into my office just two or three days ago. It states:
"It has been some time since I have spoken to you regarding any particular matter. Now I have a problem. Some time ago, I got into the Mastercard racket. it was the worst thing I ever did.
"There came a time when, as I sent the payments in, some jokers in the Toronto office claimed that it had not been sent. They would telephone either my wife at home or myself at work every day of the week. They called her a liar and a cheat, as well as calling me the same names. They kept on saying they did not receive payments. Then all of a sudden after a lot of bad words were spoken the payment would appear on the next month's bill.
"We would send a payment and then everything would start all over again. I stopped payment until they made some clarification regarding the payment. They in turn put it into small claims court. I defended myself with correspondence. I did not want to miss a day's work to have a bunch of people tell me I owed them money. We all know that I do owe Mastercard because I refused to make the payment until I got the clarification. The gripe was they would not credit me my payments.
"The small claims sent me the enclosed paper saying, 'You are guilty.' Guilty of what? I do not want these joint manipulators to crush me with garnishees. I told them I would pay them $70 per month until paid. The Mastercard and small claims completely ignored me. Instead, they sent me a piece of paper saying, 'You are guilty.' Of what?
"Would you please, as a favour to me, look into this and see if there is some responsible person who might make some remark as to what I do now."
I know this person well enough, although he is not a particularly educated person, to know there is some real validity in the criticism he makes here of Mastercard. Because this is such a complex matter and because the real core of this legislation is going to be in the regulations, there is a need for the widest kind of input, particularly from people such as this who have had some legitimate concerns and who have been harassed over the years with regard to payments. I support the comments made by my colleague and hope the parliamentary assistant will give some commitment for some formal method of receiving submissions from people who have been harassed and who have concerns in this matter.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, if I may first reply to the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), the situation with Mastercard I am really not able to make any comment on, except that, following the points made by the member for Ottawa Centre, it is for that very reason that regulations are being drafted. They are to respond to situations that do arise which otherwise, if legislation was used, would take a great deal of time. We recognize the point. Frankly, I could not have stood up here in the Legislature and been responsible for carriage of this legislation if I had not in a sense agreed with the member for Ottawa Centre as his points apply to this piece of legislation.
I can give a commitment to the member for Ottawa Centre that our ministry does consult with people. It is rather fortunate that when I spoke to the consumers' association I extended an invitation to it to continue to participate with the ministry in all areas that affect the consumer. Speaking from my own observations, I feel quite comfortable that it is the intention within our ministry to attempt to carry on discussion on all such items on as broad a scale as possible.
With regard to tabling the regulations for a period of time, I cannot comment at this time, but I will take that as a question and will respond to the member for Ottawa Centre.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
BOILERS AND PRESSURE VESSELS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Mitchell, in the absence of Hon. Mr. Elgie, moved second reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Act.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, I think this bill has been widely circulated. The explanatory notes clearly identify what we are attempting to do with this bill. For example, where a company is working on a 24-hour basis, and its boilers and so on are insured, the bill will allow the plant to get back into operation as quickly as possible in that the insurer may perform the duties of the inspector and may issue the certificate.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, the bill that is before us, as I recall, comes from one of the recommendations of the select committee on company law of which I had the honour to be chairman. In the third report of the select committee --
Mr. Nixon: I think it is about time we started that up again. There are a lot of business practices that have been --
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rotenberg): Order.
Mr. Breithaupt: We will discuss the future in the future.
The matter of inspection certificates was one that concerned us particularly, because insurance companies were being involved and in effect on occasion some double inspection, as I recall, was having to take place. Since the boilers must have insurance coverage, it seemed reasonable that those who were particularly knowledgeable in that area, and who were equipped and trained to take on that responsibility in the representations they had to make for their employers, the insurance companies involved, would be able to deal quite practically with the problems of repairs and the overview that was necessary to ensure safe and proper operation of the equipment.
During the estimates of this ministry year after year, certainly during the three years I was critic for the ministry --
Mr. Nixon: It seemed longer.
Mr. Breithaupt: Yes, it seemed much longer on some occasions.
During that time, I do not think we ever had an opportunity, because of the time limits on estimates, to review the activities of the particular branch that has been for some time under the direction of Mr. Yoneyama. This is one of the areas of this ministry that goes on about its duties with a small staff but a very dedicated one. It is charged with very important responsibilities in our society, the matters of dealing with the pressures, valves and other kinds of machinery that form the driving portions of our community. Our safety involvements and other responsibilities are something that year after year seem to be taken for granted. This branch deserves some credit and this seems to be the only opportunity to give it because we never have time during estimates to do so.
The bill before us makes an intelligent change and allows the insurer to have the appropriate responsibility on inspection for which it would be liable in case of any unfortunate accident. We will certainly support the bill and the two additional minor changes that sections 2 and 3 bring forward.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, we are not going to support the bill; we are going to oppose it because we think it has not been thought through. There are real dangers entailed in the bill as it is now proposed.
About 85 per cent of the boilers and pressure vessels that are covered under this legislation are insured. One of the concerns I have specifically is whether the definition of insurer is sufficiently broad; it is not defined particularly. It is conceivably possible that somebody who decided to attempt to get around the law could find a compliant insurer without a great deal at stake in this province. The insurer could, in turn, find somebody who would act as an inspector and that would allow a company to go around this law, which is meant to protect the people of the province.
The parliamentary assistant knows there have been accidents because of faulty repairs. There are problems entailed in this. It is an area that remains particularly sensitive. We have talked to the Canadian Union of Operating Engineers, which is responsible for many of these installations. Having thought about it, they have grave reservations about a situation where the insurance inspector can come in and possibly under some kind of pressure decide it is okay to proceed without waiting to find out whether the ministry's inspector is on line or not.
I would have thought this was the kind of area where the compendium to the bill should include the information that doubtless was available to the ministry that indicated there was a problem that needed to be resolved. It would have indicated if there were problems, if there had been a large number of instances where ministry inspectors had been unavailable, necessary repairs had taken a long time and people had been inconvenienced because the heat had to be turned off in a vital facility like a hospital or an old folks home because the inspector could not get there on time. No such evidence is available in the compendium I received from my colleague and former critic for this area, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). If the parliamentary assistant has some evidence, by all means let him bring it forward, but it is a bit late. That evidence should have been there beforehand.
The legislation makes a second suggestion, that there may be some special treatment required for certain large facilities where there is a good deal of competence and expertise available at one time. A refinery has been suggested, or a petrochemical complex. In a case like that, it may be possible to make the argument, but I suggest that if the argument has been made, it should be made with the compliance and acceptance of the people who work in that facility and whose lives are at risk if something should go wrong because they are told to do something that is unsafe.
In other words, if there is a union there or if there are operating engineers, they should be involved in that decision. It makes sense that there should be periodic monitoring by the ministry's inspectors to make sure the availability of staff and expertise that justified the exemption is there on a continuing basis and has not been allowed to become weak.
The time is getting very short. This bill effectively could destroy the present government inspection system. There are some 36 government inspectors there now. I am not clear what could happen, but we could wind up with no inspection capability in this area. The entire area could be decentralized or hived off to a bunch of inspectors, perhaps of varying quality, who are working on behalf of different insurance companies. I do not think that would be a good thing.
The minister's assistant has just taken a bill through which acknowledged that there is a need for regulation in an important area, that of protecting individuals against action by collection agencies. I find it curious that, almost in the same breath, legislation is coming forward that says exactly the opposite. It says it is quite okay to risk people's lives and let the private sector maintain entire responsibility. That is the potential outcome of this bill.
To conclude, the inspectors, the operating engineers and we of the New Democratic Party have grave reservations and we intend to oppose this bill.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.