The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
MUNICIPAL TAX SALES LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing for first reading a bill that proposes to establish a new procedure for the recovery of overdue taxes by municipalities. At present, as honourable members know, there are two separate procedures: the tax sale procedure, which was established in this province in 1825, and the tax registration procedure, which was established in 1932.
We believe the time has come to combine the best features of both of these existing procedures into a single new procedure for the recovery of municipal tax arrears. The procedure proposed in the bill I am introducing today will establish an appropriate balance between the interests of the property owner and the municipality and will be reasonably simple and straightforward to administer.
I am well aware that many groups are interested in this proposed legislation, most especially property owners, municipalities, financial institutions and members of the legal profession. For that reason, the bill is being introduced for first reading only at this time so that everyone will have a full opportunity to review the proposal. During the next few months I look forward to receiving written submissions. If there appears to be a consensus in favour of proceeding with the legislation, I would then hope this bill can be considered and enacted by the House in the spring of 1984.
TRUCKING INDUSTRY REGULATION
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on June 21 this year I tabled the final report of the Public Commercial Vehicles Act Review Committee, a document that presented four major recommendations upon which it seemed we could base realistic new legislation governing the trucking industry. Today I am pleased to outline to the House our progress towards that goal.
The review committee's final report sketched the ends to which reform should proceed and the means by which to get there. The government has now had an opportunity to review the report. First of all, I would remind members that what we have been reviewing is a sketch or outline of reform, not a blueprint. What I am here to tell members today is that we are going to go on to develop a blueprint for regulation. What we have now approved is the general direction in which the reforms will proceed. We will be back to the House over the next two years as the legislative details begin to take shape.
Let me now describe the sketch upon which that new legislation will be based. I am speaking of the review committee's four recommendations.
First, we have accepted the statement of objectives and principles contained in section 1 of the final report on responsible trucking. These endorse the objectives of effective goods transportation, private ownership and competition, and affirm the principles of fairness, participation in the local economy by carriers, sensitive and controlled regulatory change to allow, particularly the small carriers, time to adapt and the principle of cost recovery, whereby administrative costs are borne by commercial vehicle and commercial vehicle operator registration fees.
These objectives and principles seem to me to be simple and straightforward, but they are a necessary philosophical base for any new legislation.
Second, we have approved in general terms the mechanisms of regulation that the committee recommended. These include revised entry tests, the simplification of board procedures, the establishment of a commercial vehicle operator registration, licence simplification and improved enforcement.
The third recommendation we have already acted upon by creating the industry advisory group and the implementation steering committee. The first step was to assemble a large industry advisory group, each member of which was nominated by an organization or association concerned with the trucking industry either as a carrier or as a user. This approach was designed to ensure that any reform will not reflect any one or two special or dominant interest groups.
From this body I have already chosen an implementation steering committee made up of representatives from among the province's shippers and carriers, including the chairman of the Ontario Highway Transport Board and my assistant deputy minister for safety and regulation, Mark Larratt-Smith, who is chairing the committee. These men and women are my advisers in the development of the legislative blueprint we seek. They reflect the shared ownership of the implementation process among government and the various industry groups involved in the highway transportation of goods.
Finally, the government has accepted the principle of a phased implementation of the transition process. The implementation steering committee has already drawn up a tentative work plan, which will see major legislative changes before this House in the fall of 1984, licence changes for existing carriers in the spring of 1985 and full implementation of the reforms by late 1985.
The first step in ensuring this gradual change was taken when I tabled the final report on June 21. At that time, I introduced a two-year control period to distinguish between existing carriers and new applicants and to give existing licence holders first access to the new system. In order to guarantee that preferred access, to ease the transition for small carriers, the mechanism of licence simplification I mentioned earlier is one that must be effected as soon as possible.
Existing PCV licences are full of unnecessary complexity and detail. One of our first tasks will be to streamline the system by developing new licence specifications. That is why I shall be introducing a bill, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act, later this morning. It will provide the mechanism whereby those who held operating licences before the tabling of the report can have their certificates rewritten in accordance with these new specifications, which will be drafted shortly. These rewritten certificates will be the basis for the issuance of new licences when approval has been given to other main components of the legislative change.
To assist with this process I intend to create a rewrite commission, staffed with people credible to shipping groups and especially to the carriers whose licences are being rewritten. The commission will act as advisers to me and help the current licensees take advantage of this opportunity to streamline their certificates. I know it was the review committee's intention, and it is my hope, that the rewrite mechanism will help smaller carriers consolidate and reposition their business in advance of the new system.
During this transition period, I must add, we shall not forget the importance of compliance. In fact, we are committed to enforcement. Thus, a key subcommittee of the implementation steering committee will work with my ministry on enforcement matters and the development of the commercial vehicle operator registration concept.
I trust I have been able to describe where we are going with our efforts to reform the regulations governing the trucking industry and how we intend to get there. If the process functions as successfully as I feel it will, we should be able to bring new legislation to this House next fall. Until then members may rest assured that my staff, the advisory group and the implementation steering committee will work hard to make sure the blueprint is finely drawn so the resulting legislation will be productive, simple and fair for all concerned.
Mr. Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: As you may know and as I know most of the members of the House know, a mandatory experience rating program which would assess employers differently in the way in which they pay into the workers' compensation fund was recommended by the Ontario government's white paper following from the Weiler report.
For some time now the standing committee on resources development has been debating those recommendations in the white paper. Among those recommendations, we debated long and hard the whole question of mandatory experience rating. The debate ended last night. We finished our discussions on the white paper and on the Weiler report.
The Workers' Compensation Board has announced, before we had a chance --
The Deputy Speaker: Is that the member's point of privilege?
Mr. Laughren: No, Mr. Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. No one is disallowing your point of privilege. I am just asking you if you could state clearly for the House what your point of privilege is.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, before we had a chance to present our report to the Legislature, the Workers' Compensation Board announced that a mandatory experience rating program will come into place on January 1, 1984. I believe the privileges of the House, and in particular the privileges of the members of the standing committee on resources development, have been abused by their usurping our report.
We have been spinning our wheels on that committee. The Workers' Compensation Board has decided to go ahead and do it anyway, and I assume they did it with the blessing of the minister, while we were debating that recommendation.
The Deputy Speaker: The member has made his thoughts well known. No doubt they have been noted by the appropriate minister.
TAX GRANTS FOR SENIORS
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide the members with an important update on my ministry's Ontario tax grants for seniors programs. I am pleased to announce today that the Ministry of Revenue is mailing $45 million in sales tax grants to 900,000 seniors throughout the province.
Mr. Boudria: Are the cheques in the mail?
Hon. Mr. Gregory: The cheques are in the mail.
This will mean that seniors will receive their $50 annual grant payment in time for Christmas. Further information about this mail-out is provided in another in our series of constituency office information bulletins which are being mailed today.
Mr. Foulds: I notice you didn't mail it from the constituency office.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Does the member for Port Arthur want the floor?
It should be noted that seniors who turned 65 during the last three months of 1983 will receive their sales tax grant cheque in January.
As well, I would like to take this opportunity briefly to update the members on the mailing of the 1983 property tax grant cheques for seniors. As of mid-November, we have processed 546,855 applications, which have resulted in the production of 544,121 cheques averaging $243 each. This means the average annual entitlement for seniors is $460 per household.
Of the 557,612 completed applications received thus far from seniors, 10,343 still require additional information, which is in the process of being obtained from the seniors concerned.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, according to the schedule put out by the government, the Premier (Mr. Davis) is supposed to be here today. In view of the fact that we have had issued to us yesterday the most sharply critical report of government expenditures in some long period of time, and in view of the fact that the Premier himself is now competing for the title of the new chairman of the Ontario Waste Management Corp., I think it is important that I stand down my questions until he arrives, unless one of his surrogates has been instructed to answer for this mess.
The Deputy Speaker: The House leader has indicated the Premier is on his way. Are you standing down both questions?
Mr. Peterson: Yes, I will stand them down.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Can he tell us why during the height of the recent recession, on April 13, 1982, the Workers' Compensation Board adopted a policy that, in effect, discriminated against those workers who were applying for total temporary disability benefits when they had suffered unemployment or a layoff in the previous year?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I am going to have to ask the honourable member for a little more information than that in order to answer the question properly.
Mr. Foulds: Then I will repeat the question a little bit more elaborately because I have been trying to sharpen the questions, as the Speaker has told us.
Is the minister not aware that on April 13, 1982, the Workers' Compensation Board adopted as a matter of procedure, outlined on page 33-08-06-4 under point 10, that it would exclude allowances for lost time without pay where this resulted from a seasonal shutdown or unavailability of work "due to other causes"?
In other words, the board began at that point, when assessing total temporary disability, to take out of account the amount of money the worker had received in the previous year either through unemployment insurance benefits or otherwise. In other words, the amount of the award was based only on what the worker had actually earned in the previous year, not taking into account what he would have earned if he had been working or his unemployment insurance benefits.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I believe the honourable member is referring to section 45 of the act. If my memory serves me correctly, this is a matter that was brought before the board by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman). I also believe it is under review at the appeals adjudicator level at the present time. In fact, I believe it was heard in September of this year.
Mr. Foulds: Why is it that members such as the member for Algoma have to bring individual cases before the board and beg for appropriate levels of workers' compensation for people like Dennis Braileen, who was injured last March? Why is it that the board is allowed to change its policy at the height of a recession to discriminate against workers like the one whom the member for Algoma brought to the minister's attention and to the board's attention?
Can the minister tell us why the board is allowed to implement a policy that discriminated against 95 workers at the United Auto Workers Local 1520 at the Ford Motor Co. in St. Thomas in the same way and why that is still under review? Why the blazes, at the height of the recession, are these workers not getting their just due and the full total temporary disability allowance to which they have been entitled in the past and surely should be entitled in the present?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: As I said earlier, the matter is under review and I will commit myself to speeding up that process.
This is not to be critical, because it may have been done, but was this matter discussed at the time the Workers' Compensation Board was before the resources development committee on the restructuring of the Workers' Compensation Act?
The Deputy Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Windsor-Riverside.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, as the minister will understand, this problem has been brought to his attention several times --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I looked to the official opposition for the next supplementary. The member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) would acknowledge that she was still coming in and the member for Windsor-Sandwich was on his feet.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker --
The Deputy Speaker: If the member for Windsor-Riverside will yield the floor to the member for Hamilton Centre?
Mr. Cooke: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry. I was asking whether the member for Windsor-Riverside would permit the member for Hamilton Centre to have the supplementary.
Mr. Cooke: Fine.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister whether he has been aware of the case I brought to his attention some months ago. It concerns a worker who is actually earning less on workers' compensation benefits than he was earning on unemployment insurance. This matter is also under review.
The minister has been promising a change in the situation, which is affecting literally hundreds of workers across Ontario. It has been under review for at least the last six months. In the meantime, this particular worker is living below the poverty line, on $99 a week, because the ministry has not changed its policy. Will the minister make a commitment today that this policy will be changed before Christmas so Roland Martin can have a decent Christmas for his family?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I cannot commit myself to the fact that this will be changed before Christmas, but I will certainly commit myself to seeing what I can do about the circumstances.
In answering the supplementary, I would like to refer to the auto workers' situation which the acting leader of the third party brought forward. I chaired a meeting earlier this year with representatives of the United Auto Workers and senior representatives of the Workers' Compensation Board. As I recall the circumstances, it was left that the two groups would get together and try to work out a resolution.
It is my understanding that in the majority of the cases the average earnings worked out to be the same. In approximately 25 per cent of the cases, four-week average earnings produce a marginally higher rate than the nominal rate, and in approximately 25 per cent of the cases, four-week earnings are marginally lower than the nominal rate.
The guidelines proposed to the board to use the nominal rate met with the general acceptance, as I understand it -- and I will check on this -- of the subcommittee of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Therefore, the questions I am receiving this morning come as a bit of a surprise to me, because I felt the matter was under control and the problems had been resolved. Obviously they have not, and I commit myself to following up.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows this is a problem that has existed for a long time. There were a lot of cases in Windsor that were brought to his attention, and the result was the meeting he had with the UAW earlier this year.
For many individuals, the loss has been terrific. John Wallace at Local 1520 in St. Thomas, instead of getting $349 a week, is getting $141. Bill Greenwood could also be getting $349, but he is getting $226. Ross Gordon, instead of $367, receives $192.
I am asking the minister to take a look at the situation again to make sure the policy is changed so the benefits these workers receive are the benefits they should be insured for; in other words, the maximum benefits.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I will do that.
The Deputy Speaker: That was the final supplementary. We will now revert to the official opposition.
Mr. McClellan: No. We have two leadoff questions. We are about to do the second leadoff question.
Mr. Cooke: They can't have it both ways.
The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry. We had our appropriate supplementaries. We had the question, the supplementary, in my recollection, we came back to the opposition and we were back for a final supplementary.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, that is not the issue. The issue is that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) requested to stand down his questions until--
Mr. T. P. Reid: Until the Premier (Mr. Davis) arrived.
Mr. Martel: They cannot have it both ways. They cannot cut them in two and say, "It's my time at the can."
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I am on my feet, member for Sudbury East. What the Leader of the Opposition did was to ask to stand down his questions until the Premier arrived. Then the Premier arrived, but we allowed the courtesy of the questioning to follow the progression it was following. If we may, we shall return to the Leader of the Opposition with his first official question.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, let me just say this will be the last time we will tolerate that sort of thing. He will ask his questions or we just will not ask ours until our turn comes officially. They cannot have it both ways.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: Thank you for your calm reason under pressure, Mr. Speaker, and your excellent judgement.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I need to correct the record. When I raised my question about the workers' compensation benefits with the Minister of Labour, I indicated there were 95 workers affected at United Auto Workers Local 1520 in St. Thomas. In fact, there were 70 such workers.
The Deputy Speaker: That is very helpful.
PROVINCIAL AUDITOR'S REPORT
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier (Mr. Davis) regarding the annual report of the Provincial Auditor. I know he is aware the auditor's report was tabled yesterday. The Premier also will be aware that the report was sharply critical of many practices in many of the ministries and catalogued waste upon waste.
The Premier is aware that, according to the Provincial Auditor, the government is now spending in excess of $70 million a year on government advertising, and that does not even include a number of the attendant salaries and wages that are included inside the various ministries.
How can the Premier justify that when we are in an age of restraint and when there are so many agencies that are strapped for money in this province? How can he possibly justify an expenditure of that magnitude, which puts us among the highest per capita spenders for advertising of any government in the western world?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member concluded his questions by saying "more than any other government in Canada." I think it is fair to state that the government of Canada spends 45 per cent more than does the province of Ontario.
Mr. Peterson: I did not say that. That is not the question. The question is this government's priority of spending $70 million. It is restraining everyone in this province to five per cent, but its advertising budget went up by 25 per cent last year in an age of restraint. The Premier is the one going around making speeches about restraint in his notes to the great Brampton Board of Trade, saying how he is so proud of the restraint program.
The Deputy Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: The government increased its advertising expenditures by 25 per cent. The Premier cannot get around my question by that kind of fooling around. I said "per capita in the western world," and if the Premier checks it, he will find out my facts are absolutely right. How can the Premier justify increasing the government's advertising expenditures by 25 per cent in an age of restraint?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member looks at the Provincial Auditor's report, he will find that while he lumps it all together as advertising, a good part of that money -- and I do not have the exact breakdown -- relates to internal communications, publications, etc.; it is not all advertising as he is seeking to use the word.
I ask the member to please tell us which campaigns, if he calls them that, or which programs he would see us dispense with. Does he suggest we limit our communications in the field of, say, alcohol and driving? Is he opposed to that? I ask him to consult with his rural members. Is he opposed to the moneys allocated to the Foodland Ontario program? My guess, if my understanding from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is correct, is that it is very supportive of that program, particularly some segments of the agricultural community. I ask him to ask his critic in terms of tourism, because the tourism industry in this province, in any communication I have had with its representatives, urges us to spend even more than we are currently spending.
If the member wishes to single out lotteries, one may have a philosophical point of view, but the Ontario Lottery Corp. does spend money on advertising its lotteries; there is no question about it. There is a question as to whether they should spend less; the member might say they should. Perhaps if they spent less, they might save; but at the same time the revenues from the lottery corporation might diminish.
I ask him to tell us just what advertising campaign it is that he suggest we eliminate.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the Premier could answer two simple questions. Why is he trying to compete with the federal government in expenditures on propaganda -- if he does not like the word "advertising" -- for self-serving purposes at the expense of the taxpayers? Also, can he tell us precisely how much the provincial government does spend on advertising?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I do not have a list of all the various programs, but --
Mr. T. P. Reid: The auditor can't get it either.
Mr. Swart: Ignorance is bliss.
Mr. Foulds: Just tell us how much you spent on advertising? Do you know?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Is the member suggesting we should not communicate the tax adjustment program for farmers to the farm community? Let him tell me which one he would eliminate.
Mr. Foulds: I asked how much you spent.
Mr. Swart: Ignorance is bliss. It helps to evade the questions too.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: How about the information to the senior citizens? Does the member want to eliminate that? Does he want to eliminate the information to the senior citizens? If so, let him tell us so.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question relating to the selection process. On page 114 of the Provincial Auditor's report it is indicated that the guideline for selection of the agency of record provides for a 30 per cent rating assessment on capability. That includes, of course, the previous track record in government accounts.
It further indicates that three advertising companies, including the incumbent, Foster Advertising, were invited to make capability presentations to the government and that the overall score received by the incumbent was significantly higher. Of course, it would be, given that there has to have a previous government track record; that accounts for 30 per cent of the rating process.
The Deputy Speaker: Question.
Mr. Cunningham: When is the Premier going to take it upon himself to end this political, sleazy shell game that is going on with advertising agencies in Ontario and open it up to every agency in Ontario instead of his political friends, Tom Scott at Foster, and Camp Associates?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I also noticed the auditor's report. However, to overlook the importance of a qualified and time-tested agency merely for the sake of change could result in loss of time and effectiveness and additional expense. That is also contained in the report. I notice the honourable member did not bother to read that portion of the report.
I would say with the great respect --
Mr. Cunningham: You don't bother looking at this 30 per cent requirement that perpetuates your political friends.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We have debated this issue before. If the member wants to say the firms that are doing work for this government are incompetent, then he should say so. That is fine. But no one in the industry is prepared to support the member.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not even Vickers and Benson.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If he is carrying on a crusade for his favourite advertising agency, he should let us know. Does he want Vickers and Benson to get the business, or Jerry Goodis?
Mr. Bradley: Why do you not tender the business?
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I might bring to the Premier's attention an article by J. Patrick Boyer, a name that might mean something to him and his colleagues. It is called, "Government Advertising: Some Wheat, Too Much Chaff."
The Deputy Speaker: Will the member put his question?
Mr. T. P. Reid: My question to the Premier is also related to the auditor's report. It has to do with crown agencies, boards and commissions, which we understand from the auditor's report have increased.
My question is particularly about Ontario Hydro. In the standing committee on public accounts yesterday the members of the government party emasculated the study of Ontario Hydro by refusing to allow the auditor and the committee to look into the financing broadly and generally of Hydro. Since the auditor has indicated in his report that the public accounts committee, among others, is not the place for the survey of crown corporations, particularly Hydro, will the Premier now act to set up a select committee to investigate and give Hydro itself the opportunity to put its case before this Legislature and the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have found over the years that there has been no reluctance on the part of the committee dealing with the estimates of the Ministry of Energy to deal with Ontario Hydro. That has been done year after year. I always get some measure of encouragement from the chairman of the public accounts committee, who takes a somewhat more rational point of view than some of his colleagues.
The member does recognize that the Provincial Auditor understood that the public accounts committee was neither the vehicle nor the place for that sort of analysis of Ontario Hydro. I say, with respect, there was an opportunity in the debates on the Ministry of Energy estimates at which Ontario Hydro has always been prepared to appear. I think that is a very proper vehicle.
I do not have a closed mind with respect to a committee in terms of looking at some aspects of Ontario Hydro. The member's colleague, the House leader of his party, is always somewhat reticent about select committees, their purpose and their usefulness. On occasion we have far too many, but I do not have a closed mind on the subject. I am glad the member emphasized that the Provincial Auditor recognized it was not the proper area of discussion for the public accounts committee.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I appreciate all the sweetness and light, but the fact remains that the Premier has the power, the authority and the responsibility to provide a forum of accountability for the largest crown corporation, with assets of something in the order of $18 billion, liabilities of some $15 billion or $16 billion and long-term debt of $15 billion. He owes it to Hydro as well as to the people of Ontario to provide a forum, not two hours in an estimates committee, to deal with this matter. The Conservative members emasculated the committee in the little work we might have been able to accomplish.
Can the Premier not give us a commitment that would follow, as I understand it, the recommendation of the chairman of Hydro, Mr. Nastich, that a select committee, with the time to get together its expertise and hear all the testimony, deal with this?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am glancing at the motion and I am not sure it is in its exact, final form. With great respect, I do not think it is fair to state that our members "emasculated" the resolution. There was a desire on the part of some members to expand what was the initial resolution. I gather from my notes that there was not an emasculation, although there may not have been the increase in scope some members would have liked.
I do not want to burden the House with this, but I would also point out that while the chairman of the public accounts committee, the financial critic for the party across the House, talks about all these large figures -- there is no question about the magnitude of Hydro's operations in Ontario -- I remember quoting to the House not too many weeks ago the views of those people who analysed this even more carefully than would any select committee, because they were evaluating the credit of Ontario Hydro.
My recollection of the quotations I used from one of the rating agencies is that in terms of its financial capacity and its management, Ontario Hydro is one of the better utilities in North America. That has been the case and it is still the case. While I do not dispute for a moment the rights of members of this House to question Hydro over its policy and its direction, I do not think the member should create the impression that Ontario Hydro is not in very good financial shape.
I have to talk to these people once or twice a year. I know what they are saying to many other utilities, and I know what they say to us. Ontario Hydro is held in very high regard by those people whose business and profession it is to determine the financial capacity of these institutions.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Auditors report is fairly clear. It says Ontario Hydro and other crown corporations are not accountable to the Legislature and not even to the government. The Premier knows that. It says so on page 125. The Premier also knows that Hydro is in debt for more than $18 billion and has a projected debt of twice that within 10 years as a result of the expansion.
The Deputy Speaker: Question.
Mr. Philip: Does the Premier not feel the actions of his members on the public accounts committee yesterday in quashing the rights of the auditor to look at questions in category 4, dealing with the actual costs of mothballing, the breakdowns of the various Hydro generating stations and their replacement, were a deliberate coverup by him and his government, not only to this Legislature but also to the auditor?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have great confidence in the Provincial Auditor, both the present one and his predecessors. But, with the greatest of respect, I doubt that it is within the competence of the Provincial Auditor to determine the utilization or growth potential of Ontario Hydro, how much capacity it should have and so on. I do not think that is a function of the Provincial Auditor or any auditor.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Will the Premier appoint Doug Wiseman to look into it?
Hon.. Mr. Davis: Why not the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston)? It might get him off some of his other kicks and give him something substantial to get interested in.
I would say to the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), let us not suggest this is not public information or is not open to public discussion.
Mr. Foulds: It is not. It is not. You killed it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member should take a look at the transcripts of the submissions made before the Ontario Energy Board. He will find that 99 per cent of this information is in the public domain. He might even go to the Ontario Energy Board and express his point of view.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I know the Premier would not want to leave the impression that he was quoting the Provincial Auditor when he said, "To overlook the importance of a qualified, time-tested agency merely for the sake of change could result in lost time, effectiveness and additional expense."
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of privilege.
Mr. Cunningham: He was not quoting the auditor; he was quoting the deputy minister. We all know how objective our deputy ministers are.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has conveniently forgotten again that this Legislature, and particularly the Premier, has a special responsibility for the accountability of these crown agencies.
The Premier has just said he does not believe the auditor has the expertise to delve into these matters. I agree entirely. We are agreed on two things. The auditor does not have the expertise and the public accounts committee has been cut back -- if he does not like the word "emasculated" -- by the motion of the member who rescinded part of his earlier motion.
If the Premier agrees the auditor does not have the expertise and we do not have the expertise or the time to do it, will he give us a commitment -- if he does not like the term "select committee" -- that he or his government will provide a forum for the members of the Legislature to hold Hydro accountable and to give Hydro an opportunity to state its case?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I must confess some measure of misunderstanding. I think it is section 4 that is giving the concern, where one is talking about the relative effectiveness of Hydro's actual plant expenditures in these areas in meeting Ontario's need for electricity as compared with other possible alternative expenditures. I honestly do not know what that means. Is it Ontario Hydro's alternative expenditures?
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is not the point.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am trying to convey to the member in terms of the information, in terms of Hydro's planned financial expenditures and planned revenues, in terms of all the information that "a select committee would have available," that information by and large is available and has been available through the submissions to the Ontario Energy Board.
Mr. Foulds: Nonsense, nonsense. That is just not right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have seen some of the material. That information is available for debate in this House if members wish.
Mr. Foulds: The energy board said otherwise.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, they did not.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, since the Premier gave no answers related to Ontario Hydro, perhaps the Ministry of Energy will have a few.
Since the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) no doubt knows that yesterday the Conservative members on the public accounts committee squashed all meaningful questions related to the cost of borrowing --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member is making statements again. We have always permitted sufficient leeway to help explain the question, but would you put the question, please?
Mr. Philip: I am putting the question, Mr. Speaker.
The minister no doubt knows that yesterday the Tory members of the public accounts committee quashed all questions that related directly to the carrying costs or the interest costs of the borrowing of Ontario Hydro, and the auditor in this report again today states that Ontario Hydro and other crown corporations are not answerable to this Legislature or to the minister.
Is the minister prepared to make any changes that will make Ontario Hydro answerable to him and to the members of this Legislature and thereby to the public?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I think we have commented on that question before. If the honourable member is proposing a broader mandate for the public accounts committee, I would suggest that is the prerogative of the committee and the members can make that decision in the fullness of time.
Mr. Philip: I was proposing a broader mandate for the minister to take his responsibility seriously. The auditor in his report states that there is no accountability. The government has rejected a select committee. The Tory members on the public accounts committee yesterday quashed any meaningful inquiry, both by the members of that committee and by the auditor, into the actual operating costs of Ontario Hydro. The Ontario Energy Board has complained in its report that it does not have the authority to conduct a thorough investigation of Hydro.
Why is the government so reluctant to let anybody look seriously at the actual costs and operations of Ontario Hydro? Why does the government perpetuate this kind of coverup? What is it afraid of?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I think the member is deluded somewhat. The questions that he and others posed in the public accounts committee addressed certain concerns relating to Darlington and the mothballing of heavy water plants and thermal generating plants; I cannot remember the exact details of the third issue. But I want to assure the member that with respect to those three points the auditor himself had some difficulty in dealing with the questions that were put to him by members of that committee. He had some difficulty in dealing, indeed, with what his mandate was in preparing a report for that committee.
The three points dealt with in the motion were addressed. The report requested on those three points will be prepared by the auditor and the information will be forthcoming for the committee's discussions.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, the minister is certainly aware that the statement in the auditor's report about the accountability of Hydro has been of great concern to the official opposition in Ontario for almost eight years and probably some years before that.
The minister may be aware that the official opposition has twice presented to this Legislature a bill concerning the public accountability of Ontario Hydro, which would go a long way towards allaying the concerns that are now being expressed by the auditor as well as the opposition.
Why does the minister continue to stonewall? Do the people of Ontario not deserve to have a full accounting of the expenditure and the concern about Hydro waste?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, my only response to the honourable member with respect to those concerns is that the forums are available. The Premier has alluded to those forums.
The public accounts committee is dealing with specific requests that were made by that committee. The ministry's estimates were before the committee some months ago. All these questions could have been raised at that time -- indeed, were raised by the member's leader and answered. There is a continuing debate.
I have said on many occasions that we are not closed-minded towards a forum in which Ontario Hydro can answer some of these concerns that many people over there are raising. We are not closed-minded to that sort of forum, but there are situations relating to the Pickering problem that must be dealt with before those events.
The member has raised on occasion some very salient points and I think we will continue to discuss those points in the forums which are available to us.
Mr. Philip: The minister knows full well that yesterday in the standing committee on public accounts the members of his party stopped any public hearings or inquiry until at least June of next year. He also knows that the costs at Darlington have escalated from $4 billion to over $12 billion.
The Deputy Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Philip: The minister also knows that the questions the members of that committee stopped and told the auditor he could not investigate --
The Deputy Speaker: The member will please put his question.
Mr. Philip: -- included such things as a report on capitalized interest. How can the members of this Legislature have any confidence in this minister when he and the Conservative members on the public accounts committee instruct the auditor not to look into any of the things that really affect not just the present costs but also the future costs of Hydro in this province?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I am not responsible for the timing of the auditor's report. I believe the questions put to the auditor by members of that committee will take him until next June -- not this June -- to prepare a report. I think then it is in the best interests of the committee to have the kinds of information it is asking for and to have the kind of detail it is asking for, so that it can give its full consideration to the questions that have been posed.
The Deputy Speaker: The Minister of Agriculture and Food has the answer to a previously asked question.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, several days ago the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) asked me a question regarding the tile drainage allocation for Mersea township.
Mr. Conway: Is Dunc Allan on his way out?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, but the member is.
In response, Mr. Speaker, I would advise the member that --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The minister is answering a question.
Mr. McClellan: The minister is mumbling. He should take elocution lessons.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am speaking in my normal voice. If the member would just listen with his normal ear, we would be fine.
The Deputy Speaker: The minister will continue.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, all townships were advised in the spring of this year that their initial allocation of tile loan funds for the 1983-84 fiscal year was equal to their actual expenditure for the previous year; that is, 1982-83. They were advised also that the ministry would be conducting surveys from time to time to monitor the need for funds.
In August, the ministry conducted just such a survey of needs. The municipalities were asked to respond by September 1. Many municipalities did not meet this deadline; consequently, it was late September before all of the information was assembled. In October, the allocations were adjusted to reflect the actual needs this year.
In the case of Mersea township, the initial allocation was $406,000. The survey formally received from them on August 23, 1983, showed a need for $226,300. They also included $100,000 in "telephone inquiries," for which they did not have any documentation or applications for loans. Therefore, their allocation was decreased to their documented need; that is, $226,300, plus $20,000. The $20,000 was left to service the one or two additional applications that might come along.
The rules that were followed, in this case and all cases, in calculating the new allocations were: (1) If a township had between zero and $20,000 more than it required, we left the allocation as it was; (2) if a township had more than $20,000 above the documented need, we gave it what it needed plus $20,000; (3) if a township needed between zero and $30,000 more than its allocation, we gave it what it was allocated plus the extra it needed; and (4) if a township needed more than $30,000 more than allocation, we gave it the allocation plus $30,000.
I would add that these allocations are being further reviewed and I would anticipate there will be more changes in January and February as more information becomes available to the ministry from the municipalities.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, does the minister not realize that any increase in the allotment in January is of no use for work which is to be done this year? Does he not realize also that Mersea township requires $335,000 or $337,000 now? Why can he not do the same thing for Mersea township -- that is, increase its allotment -- as he did for the municipalities in eastern Ontario because there is a by-election being held there in December?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In point of fact, we have increased the allocations for a number of municipalities all over the province based on the survey I mentioned in response to the member's original question. The fact is --
The Deputy Chairman: Order. The minister is replying to the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: At the time of the survey, the municipality was able to document only $226,300, to which we added $20,000.
I know the member believes the government should simply spend without regard to budget, but we do have a budget allocation within which we must work. We try to make sure the money allocated for tile drainage is spent each year, and that means, due to weather and in some cases for economic reasons, demand will be less in a certain township or area of the province one year as compared to another. We then reallocate the money.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The Premier inadvertently misled the House. He stated that 99 per cent of the information we need about Hydro finance is available in the transcripts of the Ontario Energy Board.
The Deputy Speaker: You know you are out of order.
Mr. Philip: In fact, the Ontario Energy Board --
The Deputy Speaker: Would the member please take his seat. The member for Grey (Mr. McKessock).
Mr. Boudria: I was asking a supplementary.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Prescott-Russell.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, is it not a fact that unless you put your name on a waiting list, in other words, unless you finance your own tile drainage plan and place your name on a waiting list in anticipation that there may be largess on the part of government if there is a by-election or something else at some point in the future or that the minister will reallocate, you risk having to finance all the tile drains on your own? It is only in cases where you have that risk situation and you put yourself on that waiting list and you happen to be --
The Deputy Speaker: Question.
Mr. Boudria: I have already done that. With all due respect, you are not listening, Mr. Speaker.
To repeat the question, is it not a fact that is what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the member is incredible. He sits there and beefs and gripes if he does not like the answer. Then when somebody gives a complete answer he gripes about that.
Let me reference the two years during which I have been responsible for the program. In 1982-83, with the new rules we instituted, we were able with one or two minor exceptions to approve the purchase of debentures to cover every application that was made in the province. In previous years there had been waiting lists, I understand, but my recollection is that in 1982-83 we covered every application in every part of the province. There was one --
Mr. Boudria: There is a waiting list this year. Just a week ago
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Hold on. I remind the member that the fiscal year is only two thirds gone. Every year we go through the process of reallocating the funds. I hope this year we will be able, as we did last year, to approve the purchase of debentures to cover every application made. That will certainly be our goal. The fiscal year is only two thirds gone. Especially in the light of last year's record, it is premature and perhaps a little politically motivated to start criticizing a program that has not been wrapped up for the year.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Three quarters of question period is complete and you have not come over to this side of the House as yet.
Mr. Williams: That was a response to a statement made by the minister.
The Deputy Speaker: Will the member for Oriole please take his seat. We did have a change of rotation at the outset and perhaps that is causing some confusion. We are back now with the official opposition, then we will be going to the third party and then we will be back to the side of the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams).
GRAIN ELEVATOR STORAGE
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food in view of the fact we were not able to get any answers from the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) on the matter of the bankruptcy of the Niagara Grain and Feed elevator company and in view of his statement at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture annual convention some two days ago.
In his statement concerning the receivership of that company in Smithville last week, he said farmers should be protected under the Grain Elevator Storage Act. Will the minister now admit his legislation will do nothing to protect those farmers who hold cheques which have bounced and those who hold receipts for grain which is no longer there?
What recourse is now left for farmers who find themselves in that situation to recover their money or grain? Is the minister going to guarantee that these farmers, some of whom have as much as $100,000 owing to them, will be paid for their product? In other words, is he going to take some steps to prevent these farmers from going into bankruptcy because they simply cannot stand to lose $100,000?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, it is only seven or eight days since the receivers moved in. To this point I would have to say all the reports we have had have to be preliminary. The chief inspector was on the site last Friday morning and, in effect, seized all the grain in storage at that time.
An audit is under way, trying to balance the receipts with the amount of grain in storage, to get some idea of how much of a discrepancy, if any, there is. I should not say "if any" because I understand there probably is some discrepancy. In the event the act has been breached, it may well be there are other civil proceedings which might have to contemplated.
As the member knows, the act only covers stored grain. My preliminary advice of a couple of days ago from the chief inspector was something to the effect that there are a number of individuals who took their grain to the elevator for sale, not for storage. They simply took it to the elevator and said: "I want to sell it. What is the price? Let us tally up the amount."
As the member knows, the Grain Elevator Storage Act has never covered that kind of transaction. As has been discussed on a number of occasions, but never widely supported in the grain trade -- and I mean among grain producers -- it seems to me the best solution in the future would be the creation of a protection plan, which at this point is a voluntary step producers can take.
We have certainly had indications from the corn producers' association as well as from other parties involved that they are prepared to try to put something in place to cover any future eventuality. In this particular case, my preliminary advice is that the bulk of the problem is with people who have never been covered by the act inasmuch as they were not taking the grain for storage.
Mr. Riddell: In the understanding of the chief inspector, as much as 35 per cent of the grain which was in storage is now missing. In other words, the grain elevator has somehow dispensed with that stored grain. Taking that into consideration and knowing there have been a number of cheques bounce and the farmers are not apt to get paid, will the minister not now agree, as we pointed out to him during debate on the Grain Elevator Storage Act, that this legislation is nothing more than show-window legislation which does nothing to solve the problem or to protect farmers who have no recourse in these situations? They become unsecured creditors just as are all the other creditors.
Will the minister assure us the farmers affected in this receivership will be paid for their product? What is he now doing to prevent this sort of situation from recurring. We understand there are four more elevators in a similar situation and we may well see them go into bankruptcy. The farmers are left with their grain supposedly in storage, but perhaps it has been sold as well.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, when the legislation was debated in the spring, and I think even when we discussed the general situation during estimates, we both acknowledged that the ultimate protection would be the creation of a financial protection fund to which the producers would contribute so much per bushel or so much per ton as a backup insurance.
There is nothing in the Grain Elevator Storage Act that can protect anybody against fraud if fraud occurs. As the member knows, there are 270 or 280 elevators in the province that are licensed under the act. It is impossible to have a policeman in every elevator every day watching the incoming and outgoing product. There is nothing in the act that can say to anybody that nobody will ever misallocate or misappropriate the produce again. So the ultimate protection has to be a fund.
If the member is saying he believes I should force the producers to have a fund, then I might welcome that because -- and this goes right back to several years ago when there was another problem with yet another elevator -- the producers have not to this point shown any willingness to have such a fund created to protect themselves.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, mine is a new question on the same issue. Does the minister recall that during debate on Bill 40, which was given royal assent last June 21, he said, according to Hansard. "It" -- that is, the bill -- states unequivocally that the producer retains title to the grain until he receives his money from any sales transaction"?
Recognizing that the new act is stronger than the old act, how could he have been so negligent as not to have enacted the regulations and proclaimed the bill before this fall when the grain was due to be delivered, with the result that the farmers got caught again? Further, does the old Grain Elevator Storage Act not give ownership to the producer while at the elevator unless it is paid for? Do the farmers in this case not still own the grain, wherever it is, if it has gone through the elevator? Is the sale of something that one does not own really a legal transaction, and does the farmer not own it rather than the purchaser at this time?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will recall that in a number of discussions that preceded the move into second and third reading on Bill 40 we got into all these matters of security, bonding and various other proposals. In fact, he put some amendments forward at that time, which we did not think were workable.
The regulations are about ready to go. They are in our legal branch. They have been worked on --
Mr. Swart: The minister did not have them ready for the fall crop.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If I may complete my answer, when I first heard of the bankruptcy I brought the staff in and said, "I want to know if, given what you know of this case to date, there is anything in the new legislation that would have materially or in any way changed the situation."
Mr. Swart: Then why do we have it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The answer was no, because the problem is still, as I said in answering the question from the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell), that while it is very clear in the new act, once it is proclaimed, that the product is in fact that of the producer until paid for, if any product is misappropriated, misplaced or fraudulently dealt with, there is nothing in the old or the new act that can prevent that or protect against it. The only protection that is possible would be the creation of a financial protection fund. I repeat again that over the years the producers have shown no enthusiasm for the creation of such a fund.
If the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) and the official opposition believe we should force the creation of a fund, then I think maybe we should get together and talk about that.
Mr. Swart: The minister is negligent in not proclaiming the act, which would have given more protection to the farmers than they now have, and he is partly to blame for the present situation,
I want to ask, by way of supplementary, is it not true --
The Deputy Speaker: Would the member take his seat just for a moment.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would think that if we had brought in regulations that were not clearly thought out, that had not been properly prepared, the member opposite would then have --
The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry, that is not a point of privilege. The minister will please take his seat.
Mr. Swart: He is simply negligent. In five months they did not proclaim that act.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the member please put his supplementary.
Mr. Swart: I would be glad to put it, Mr. Speaker.
Is it not true that the Bank of Montreal had been calling the shots in the operation of the Niagara Grain and Feed elevator for several months and that for the first time in the 30-year history of this company payments were delayed to a minimum of 15 days -- normally, they were paid immediately -- so the elevator and the bank could sell the fall corn crop and seize those substantial cash assets while in the company's hands before the farmers got paid? Does the minister not think this is pretty unscrupulous on the part of a bank which made $300 million in profit last year? Will he pursue this matter with the bank so the farmers, instead of the bank, get the money that was paid?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, we are working very closely with the receivers. I can tell the member for Welland-Thorold that when the chief inspector moved in, he did seize a substantial amount of grain. Based on whatever skimpy information is available, the member is a great one immediately to arrive at certain conclusions. We do not have the luxury of that. We have to deal with all the facts. We do not have the luxury of operating the way the member does.
The chief inspector is in there. He is working on a daily basis with the receivers. Certainly, we would hope the elevator will continue to operate. I do not have all the facts yet. When I do have all the facts, I will be happy to share them with everyone concerned, even the member. Then we can all arrive at conclusions based on all the facts.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, one of the facts the minister ought to take into consideration is that farmers asked for credit checks through the Bank of Montreal on this firm as recently as 40 to 50 days ago. These were credit checks for which the farmers had to pay cash, and they were assured by the Bank of Montreal that all was in order, even though the farmers had some concerns about delivering grain to the firm under consideration.
It seems to me the minister must investigate why these credit checks came back positive so that the farmers' grain was all trucked into the elevator. Then when all the grain got in there, the famous Bank of Montreal, already referred to, foreclosed and made off with the whole thing under the bankruptcy laws we have. Will the minister concern himself to see that the farmers who lost their grain or who are in danger of losing their grain under those circumstances have the special consideration that certainly the minister can bring to bear?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First, we had heard of that and my staff are aware of it and are looking into it. Second, the firm is not in bankruptcy; it is in receivership. The firm is operating. Third, as I said earlier, the chief inspector went in and, in effect, seized the grain on the site. I think the member would acknowledge it is wrong to say the farmers have lost that grain. We would want to see it traded on an orderly basis to effect the maximum possible return. Again, we do not have all the facts.. It is early on. As soon as we have all the facts, I will be happy to share them all.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General. Given the fact that the mayor of the city of North York has been aggressively promoting the commercialization of Sundays by pushing for wide open commercial Sunday shopping; given the fact that in so doing he offends the members of his council by initiating and promoting the issue with the media without first seeking the advice and getting the consent of his elected council and has thereby confused a lot of people in North York who believe their elected council has officially endorsed a Sunday shopping scheme; and, more important, given the fact that in waging a campaign for commercial Sunday shopping the mayor offends the conscience and dignity of a large number --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I think the member may be aware of the clock. I have permitted him to put his question. Perhaps we could have a quick answer from the Solicitor General.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I commenced my question before the question period expired and I am entitled to conclude my question and hear the answer. I have been waiting for three quarters of an hour to be heard.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Would the member please take his seat. I was aware of the clock and, yes, I was aware of the member being anxious to put his question. I was anxious for him to have that opportunity, but I would ask if he could be succinct in putting it so we do not abuse the orders of the day. If the member would culminate the question, the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) can answer.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, certainly I was not abusing the question period by putting this question before the question period had expired. I am entitled, as I understand the rules of procedure, to complete the question and hear the answer. Am I not right?
The Deputy Speaker: That is the prerogative of the chair. Has the member finished?
Mr. Williams: No, I have not concluded my question. I was cut off in the middle. May I put the question again for the sake of continuity?
The Deputy Speaker: Yes.
Mr. Foulds: Ask the question, for crying out loud.
Mr. Williams: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, in order to give continuity to the question, I would like to start again, if I might.
Given the fact that the mayor of my city, the city of North York, has been aggressively promoting the commercialization of Sundays by pushing for wide-open commercial Sunday shopping; given the fact that in so doing he offends the members of his council by initiating and promoting the issue with the media without first seeking the advice and getting the consent of his elected council and has thereby confused a lot of people in North York who believe that their elected council has officially endorsed the Sunday shopping scheme; and, more important -- this is where you cut me off before, Mr. Speaker -- given the fact that while waging a campaign for commercial Sunday shopping the mayor offends the conscience and dignity of a large number of families and workers in my city and in my constituency who truly value a full day of rest to nourish both body and soul; and, lastly, given the fact that commercial Sunday shopping offends the principles --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. This is turning into a speech. With all due respect --
Mr. Williams: -- of the Retail Business Holidays Act, my question to the Solicitor General is what steps is he taking to make clear to the people of North York the resolve of this government to preserve for one and all of our citizens --
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Williams: -- a full and meaningful day a week within the context of the Retail Business Holidays Act?
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, may I answer that question now? I notice the clock has run out, but it is part of the procedure that I may answer.
The Deputy Speaker: Proceed.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Foulds: Answer it. Stop fooling around. Say yes or no.
Mr. Martel: The cameras are over there.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I do not want to bother with the interjections but just the very important question the member has put.
Mr. Speaker, as you are probably aware, and I am sure the member is aware, there is a piece of legislation in this province that I think is simplistic in its nature but had the support of all the members in this House when it passed for many reasons, one of which is that we prefer the lifestyle legislation it represents. It allows for a pause day. It has great support throughout the province and through Metropolitan Toronto from large business organizations, from small business people, from workers, from unions and from many religious groups. I think it has the general support of the public.
Having said that, the legislation is very simplistic. We have legislation that says everybody should stop doing retail business on one day of the week. We have some exemptions for those businesses that can stay open. The exemptions are also simple.
We have had many pieces of litigation on the subject. Indeed, we have one at present where one judge said the legislation was unconstitutional. I have asked for that to be appealed because I do not think that decision was correct. It is within the law, and our law provides for and is adequate to provide for one day of rest.
I must say I have watched the trends. I know there is a great deal of local autonomy in Metropolitan Toronto. A couple of areas have been allowed to open, but I must say that if that trend continues with the exemption that is there under the tourism section, and I recognize it has wide scope, I might have to come back to this Legislature and ask for some corrections and clarification of that legislation. I would suggest we should not have this trend continue so that large malls are opening, malls of different types and of a nature that is really not within the spirit and intention of the original legislation.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary
The Deputy Speaker: No, I am sorry: no supplementaries. The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to correct the record on some remarks I made on November 22, 1982, during the debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue. At that time I made an estimate that the government of Ontario had spent something in excess of $180,000 to recruit 18 employees in Britain. I made that estimate based on comments made by the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), the then Minister of Revenue, as to when this recruitment exercise took place. I will quote from page 5337 of Hansard: "There was one recruiting activity in May and June 1982. In fact, it was one trip encompassing a total of four weeks."
The annual report of the Provincial Auditor was released yesterday, and there are some glaring differences between the information I used as supplied to me by the then minister and the report of the auditor. For example, the minister told me it was a four-week trip, but the auditor reports there were 185 man-days --
The Deputy Speaker: Fine. I think the member has made his point, but I do not agree that it is a point of order.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, you have to hear my point of order, because I am trying to correct something I said on the record. These are my words and you have to allow me the privilege.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the member please take his seat?
Mr. Breaugh: I will be happy to, but you are going to hear it.
The Deputy Speaker: We will see. Could the member give us some guidance as to how long it is going to take to correct this information?
Mr. Breaugh: About three minutes.
The Deputy Speaker: Could you correct the record then? It is not a point of order, based on what I have heard to this time.
Mr. Breaugh: Excuse me, I think it would be easier if you were to allow members to stand in their places to correct the record and heard what they have to say for a brief period of time. That is what I am trying to do, to correct a statement I made, which is in Hansard for November 22, 1982.
I made the estimation that this little recruiting drive trip cost $180,000. The information I was acting on was given to me by the minister. The Provincial Auditor reported yesterday that the information was not accurate. I simply want to correct the record. I based my estimate on a four-week trip. The Provincial Auditor reports it took 185 man-days. I based it on the premise that the minister, in response to previous questions, had said this trip worked out at between $10,000 and $11,000 and reported that 18 people had been hired.
It is obvious to me now I was in error when I made that estimation. The information supplied to me by the minister differs greatly from the information supplied to the Provincial Auditor by the deputy minister on September 14. I want to withdraw that estimate of cost.
ORDER OF QUESTIONS
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Can you clarify something for me? It is my understanding that under the standing orders of the House, when a minister of the crown rises in the House to give an answer to a question previously put, normally that is not taken as part of the rotation system whereby members of the House have an opportunity to ask questions of ministers of the crown. If that is a correct interpretation, did you not inadvertently violate that principle today by recognizing the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I appreciate what the member is saying, but, with the greatest respect, apart from the Minister of Agriculture and Food bringing an answer to a previously asked question, the rotation did follow the orders of the day and our rules of order. I kept an accurate record as they flowed. There was that one set aside when we stood down the Leader of the Opposition's question, but the rest followed in rotation.
Mr. Williams: I appreciate that clarification --
The Deputy Speaker: It is not really a matter for debate.
Mr. Williams: No, but I think it is important as a matter of business of the House.
The Deputy Speaker: We have gone through that issue. You have spoken to it, and that is how it is.
Mr. Williams: I accept what you are saying, Mr. Speaker.
The other point in my point of order, for clarification purposes, is that once a member rises in the House to ask a question, even though the clock runs out midway through his question, does that not entitle him also to put the supplementary question following the answer from the minister?
The Deputy Speaker: The procedure is that when a question has been started then, out of courtesy, the member is permitted to complete the question. That is why I was urging the member to be brief, because we were working at the discretion of the House. The same goes for the answer. However, there is no provision for the normal completion of the full supplementary process. It is limited to the question and then, as in this case, an answer.
Mr. Williams: I appreciate your answer, Mr. Speaker. I have to serve notice that my supplementary question will be the first question from this side of the House on Monday.
Mr. Martel: Is this question period?
Hon. Mr. Drea: You guys taught him how to do it.
Mr. Martel: We know that rule. We know you don't get a supplementary when the time is up.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to meet in the afternoon and evening of Monday, December 5, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, notwithstanding any previous orders, the supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Revenue be considered today; the estimates of the Lieutenant Governor, the Premier and the Cabinet Office be considered in the afternoon of Monday, December 5, 1983; and the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs be considered in the evening of Monday, December 5, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 137, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to.
MUNICIPAL TAX SALES ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, first reading of Bill 138, An Act respecting the Sale of Lands for Arrears of Municipal Taxes.
Motion agreed to.
PUBLIC COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 139, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.
Motion agreed to.
PROVINCIAL OFFENCES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 140, An Act to amend Certain Statutes Relating to the Commission of Offences by Young Persons.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, this act will amend the Provincial Offences Act, the Provincial Courts Act and the Unified Family Court Act as part of Ontario's program for responding to the federal Young Offenders Act.
For the past 75 years, the federal Juvenile Delinquents Act has applied to provincial offences committed by young persons. However, when the new federal Young Offenders Act is proclaimed it will not apply to violations of provincial statutes. Therefore, the purpose of this bill is to implement Ontario's policy on provincial offences committed by young persons.
We believe the present Provincial Offences Act, which applies to persons 16 years of age and over, provides an appropriate framework for dealing with provincial offences committed by persons under 16. At the same time, we recognize that because of the special circumstances of these younger offenders, some modifications should be made to the Provincial Offences Act. Among the modifications we are proposing are the following.
All charges against a young provincial offender will have to be brought before a court. Defence notices commonly known as tickets, which can dispose of offences out of court, will not be issued to young persons. Parents of the young persons will be notified of the charges. Lower maximum limits will be placed on the penalties that can be imposed in most cases. For example, the fine could often be less than a fine payable by an adult who receives a ticket.
Custodial sentences will be eliminated for all offences. However, if a young person breaches probation following a conviction a custodial sentence would be an available alternative.
All trials will be conducted before a judge of the provincial court, family division. This set of modifications will apply to young persons between the ages of 12 and 15 years inclusive. Accordingly, there will be no change in the present law for all persons 16 years of age and over who commit highway traffic and parking offences which constitute, for example, the vast majority of all provincial offences and are usually dealt with by a ticket.
There is a degree of urgency connected with the enactment of this bill. It must come into effect on the day the federal Young Offenders Act is proclaimed. Despite the request of the Premier (Mr. Davis) on behalf of the council of all provincial premiers for delay of proclamation of the federal Young Offenders Act, the federal Solicitor General continues to express his intention to proclaim the federal legislation on April 1, 1984. Consequently, this bill should be enacted as soon as possible if the police, courts and other agencies are to have sufficient time before April 1 to prepare for implementation of these amendments.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 113, An Act to regulate Conveyances of Dwelling Units in Residential Complexes.
House in committee of supply.
SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF REVENUE
On vote 802, tax revenue program; item 8, motor fuels and other taxes:
The Deputy Chairman: Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I do not really have a statement, Mr. Chairman. I just want to point out that one of the two items in the supplementary estimates for the Minister of Revenue is an amount of $18.4 million for grants under the Small Business Development Corporations Act, which brings the total estimates to $30 million for the year, in line with the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) in his budget in the spring of this year. The initial amount in the budget for the ministry, $11.6 million, was put in the estimates books prior to the Treasurer's budget. This amount is bringing that up to the $30 million.
The second item is for the coloration program, dye mix, for fuel oils. The amount is $1,363,000, and it covers the upfront cost for the dyeing of the fuel. This amount is fully recoverable from the oil companies and produces an additional $20 million in revenue to the ministry.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, our party voted in favour of the small business development corporation concept, and I believe the additional funding is well worth while. We support the concept in principle, but quite a number of the original ideas for the stimulation of business have not progressed as effectively as the SBDC concept.
I do not want to spend any time on it since it is not invoked in this estimate, but I think particularly of the Innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp., which was brought before the Legislature at approximately the same time. That corporation has rented space, hired consultants -- which is what government agencies do to begin with -- and, as far as I know, has not been able to do anything to disburse even the funds we have made available for the coloration of the gasoline or the diesel fuel.
It has been a continuing pain in the neck for farmers. I know the minister's predecessor had a good deal of difficulty in working out new regulations and new methods of inspection; so it was finally apparent that the coloration was not going to have too deleterious an effect on the operation of farm machines.
In each of these instances certain facilities of the ministry have come into play which yesterday were quite severely criticized by the Provincial Auditor. Since the minister is fortunate enough to have his supplementary estimates come before the House the day after the auditor's criticism, I want to spend a moment asking him whether he could give an additional explanation of some of these areas which certainly impinge on the SBDC decisions and to a lesser extent on the diesel fuel coloration program.
We are referring to the retaining of consultants. These were associated with the ministry in the development of the original policy. The SBDC supervisory group also has access to consultants. I do not want to spend too much time on this, but I do want to point out that probably the auditor's criticisms of what has happened in this ministry -- admittedly and certainly before this minister took over the responsibility -- are typical of what we are concerned with in all the ministries of government.
The allocation of funds for consultants is totally out of control in this government and certainly elsewhere, but to pay before the services are rendered is an interesting new slant in the provision of make-work programs for friends of the government. The idea of making a contract with a consultant and paying in advance, in the instance here, $107,300 before the services are rendered seems to be an appalling intrusion into any kind of good sense or even moral approach.
I understand this is often done to use up the money in the allocation of the ministry before the year-end, before it is drained back into the consolidated revenue fund; so the government retains a consultant and pays from this year's budget just in the last few weeks of the budgetary period and then he or she provides his or her services in the next year. There is a real concern about that sort of practice, but even the way we are using consultants in this connection is something that I am glad the auditor has come down on strongly in his criticism.
The other thing that really must be raised in these supplementary estimates -- and once again I simply connect it to the programs because, of course, the availability of our very extensive computer facility would depend on its being properly staffed -- is that the auditor brings to our attention the fact that eight employees of the ministry went to the United Kingdom and spent 185 man-days of time there to hire 16 people to be brought over to Canada to be employed in the computer facility of the ministry.
The cost of those people travelling to the United Kingdom to hire people to bring them back for jobs here, when our level of unemployment was right around 12 per cent during the hiring period, was $46,500. He points out that in the previous program they were successful in hiring 11 people to come back from the United Kingdom to work here in Toronto, and before 15 months were up six of the 11 had resigned.
Here is an instance, once again, where I believe the auditor has shown good judgement in bringing to public attention the maladministration in the ministry, which would move into a program that could not be staffed by people properly educated and experienced in Ontario and Canada. I wish the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) were here, because she is always telling us that her programs provide people properly educated for the work requirements in this jurisdiction, and here is clear evidence that she is wrong again.
To send high-level officials over to London, England, to spend 185 person-days to hire 16 people when our experience in the previous year was that most of them quit within a few months of arriving here is really very had business indeed.
Mr. Chairman, I know that you have no doubt already perused the auditor's report in detail. But if not, this is one section you really ought to take the time to read because, in a nutshell -- and I hope the minister will forgive me for using that reference -- it shows problems in his own ministry that are being experienced in the ministries of all of his colleagues in the government of Ontario: this unrealistic and weird commitment to consultants and the approach that there is absolutely no limit on the fees paid.
I simply say in parentheses that elsewhere in this book, on page 156, the Provincial Auditor points out in reference to the Ontario Waste Management Corp., once again under hiring of consultants, which is a general sort of heading right through the book, the ministry's hiring of a consultant at $1,300 per day to do the business that surely the minister's officials should be equipped to do and certainly are paid to do.
Further, I would bring to the minister's attention the report that we get year by year from his colleague the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague). He spends a lot of time reading all the palaver prepared for him by his speechwriters hired as consultants to describe to us the centralized management consultant facility that the Chairman of Management Board hires to make available to his colleagues throughout the ministry.
The ministers themselves often go out and hire, I would have to say, people with whom they have had previous acquaintance, and in the case of the Ministry of Revenue, which we are talking about, they pay them in advance. They turn over $107,000 to consultant A and say: "Look, there may be something in the next fiscal year that we will want you to do for us. But meanwhile we have to drain this extra money out of our allocation so that we will not lose it back to the taxpayers and the consolidated revenue fund."
This is the kind of sickening thing that this minister, who is really just now moving into an area where he has online ministerial responsibility, can put a stop to. It is an area where this minister and his connection with good old hard-business Tory free enterprise Ontario could really set an example to his colleagues.
The other thing that concerns me is the habit of top-level employees of the government to move into the capitals of the world, ostensibly on the business of the government of Ontario, hire the very best suites, call room service and have the best stuff sent up for them, knowing that they really do not have to answer to anybody.
The poor minister is put on the spot; he has to defend his employees. His deputy is pushed on him by the Premier -- and we have already had plenty of discussions about that -- his senior civil servants he inherits, and often they have a condescension to the new minister that is based, particularly in Revenue, on the fact that the ministers are either on their way up or on their way down and are sitting in the minister's chair for only a few months. They run the whole thing on their own.
Thank God for the Provincial Auditor, who this year has enough steel in his backbone and enough grit in his approach to this to level some criticisms that mean something. He points out that this bunch of senior civil servants from Revenue went over to London and ran up all these expenses I was talking about. They charged an average of $44 per meal, lunch and dinner, and since on the weekends they did not have much to do, on two separate weekends they hired, at $550 a go, a rental car so that they could look around England and enjoy what has to be one of the most marvellous places on earth.
Most people, including members of this House, when they go to England and rent a car and so on, pay their own expenses; I am sure the minister himself would do that. We are prepared to pay for the legitimate expenses of people who are on public business, but the attitude of senior public servants is that somehow God and the Ontario taxpayers owe them a level of living far more elaborate and expensive than they are ever designed to live on, even with their own inflated salaries. Some minister is going to have to slap them down in a big way.
The Provincial Auditor even points out, in his nice dry style on page 86, commenting on the Ministry of Revenue: "A further analysis of documents supporting the 1981 and 1982 recruitment expense claims," that is the trip to London, "discloses that a substantial number of the meal costs reimbursed represented the purchase of liquor, wine and tobacco. The above-mentioned ministry directive states that the charges should not include any bar bills."
We do not want to spend a lot of our valuable time nitpicking about an extra double martini or a $9 cigar, but it is the attitude that we have to bring under control. I simply say to this minister, who had nothing personally to do with this fiasco, that he is now in a position to call in his senior officials and say: "That is the last trip to London that you people are going to make. You have been developing it on an annual basis.
"You are not going to go over there and move into the Savoy or its equivalent and hire cars on the weekend and buy the most expensive meals in town, bring back a handful of British subjects who come over here and work for this government for a few weeks and then move away, having taken all the advantages that were dangled before them to come to their employment here and go on about their business and the Ontario taxpayer is made to look like an ass."
We are here, and the minister is too, to protect the taxpayers and, as we approve these supplementary estimates, I just want to say he is one of the few guys I know over there who might be tough enough to ensure that it will not happen again.
Actually I made a similar speech to his predecessor, whom I see is now in the House. He is another one of these ministers with a receding hairline who is steeped in Tory free enterprise, but he allows these birds to pull the wool over his eyes. I cannot believe that such things could happen.
I regret that the former minister, who is responsible for this, would have allowed his senior civil servants to drain the allocation to the ministry to pay for consultants before the end of the fiscal year for jobs that perhaps were not even determined at that time, and then allow his senior staff to go on their annual junket, absolutely unrequired on a yearly basis, and live it up in England at public expense.
This is when one is called to account. The Provincial Auditor simply puts it in his book and places it on our desk. All we can do is raise the devil with the people over on the other side of the House who should know better and should be strong enough, and I believe they are, not to let the senior civil servants give them the old line about, oh well, they do it in Treasury, or they do it in Health, or they do it in Trade or whatever. It is just a terrible attitude in government that they allow themselves to be sucked into these processes that are absolutely insupportable in a democratic Legislature arid particularly in a province that is suffering from the kind of economic deprivation that has been forced on it by other government policies.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Chairman, I want to --
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Bob, do you think the minister should sign all the expense accounts?
Mr. Nixon: When you see expense accounts.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Do you think any minister should be signing all expense accounts?
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rotenberg): Order. The member for Oshawa has the floor.
Mr. Nixon: He is asking me a question. I'll tell you --
The Acting Chairman: Will the minister please stop the interjectlons.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that you were caught in the cross-fire there.
I had to do something today that I did with some reluctance and that I cannot recall having had to do before. I had to correct the record about some remarks which I made in this Legislature better than a year ago. In fact, it was during the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue on November 22, 1982, when I was pursuing, among other things that day, the matter of this hiring trip to Great Britain.
It had been reported to me locally in Oshawa. Some people there thought it was rather strange to travel to Great Britain to recruit in a day and age when there was a high rate of unemployment in Canada and where, in theory anyway, our community colleges, universities and post-secondary training facilities were turning out people who were experts in the use of computers.
In fact, in some respects we lead the world in some forms of training in that regard. It seemed odd to some local people that it was necessary for the Minister of Revenue and people working for the ministry to travel to Great Britain to recruit these people.
I went on at some length that day trying to determine exactly the purpose of the exercise. How much had it cost? Why had we failed to recruit in Canada people who could do that kind of job?
My quandary is simply that what is clear to me now is that I have been misled. What is not clear to me is who misled me, because there are two completely different sets of statistics provided on the matter. For example, the Hansard of the day will show that the then Minister of Revenue provided me with almost a totally different set of numbers on the matter than was reported by the Provincial Auditor in his annual report tabled yesterday.
I know the rules of the House would forbid me from saying the minister lied to me, and I am not sure he lied to me, but there is certainly a glaring discrepancy between what the then Minister of Revenue reported to this Legislature during that debate and what I take it the now Deputy Minister of Revenue reported to the Provincial Auditor.
I do not know who misled me. I do not know who lied and who told the truth, but I do know that I am going to find out. I simply want to put on the record this morning the differences, which are rather marked and which I think need to be explored.
First of all, the rather wonderful conclusion was given by the then Minister of Revenue that this turned out to be some kind of great cost-saving venture, that somehow it cost them $14,000 just to try to recruit in Canada the people to do this kind of job and in fact they had gone across the country to recruit them and could not find them.
So they were forced, though they did not want to, to travel across the pond to Great Britain, where it cost them only about $10,000 to $11,000 a candidate. He did say that was not the purpose of the exercise, but somehow he has worked it out so that it cost him $14,000 to hire somebody here in Canada, whereas they can travel across to Britain and do several other nice little things on the side and it costs them only about $11,000.
I have some difficulty believing what is going on here. I have some problem understanding how you can travel all the way across the water, stay in very expensive accommodations in Great Britain and do it more cheaply than you can do it here. It seems to me that, at one end of the process or the other, something is amiss. I have some difficulty understanding why it costs $14,000 to recruit somebody for very good jobs like these in the first instance.
I just want to go over the record and see if we can figure out this puzzle.
In the Hansard of that day, the then Minister of Revenue, the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), said that this in fact was "one trip encompassing a total of four weeks." The Provincial Auditor, on the other hand, reported in his annual report, which I received this morning, that this was a recruiting trip which used eight members on a recruiting team and took 185 man-days.
How long did this recruiting trip take? The minister says in the Legislature four weeks. The Provincial Auditor says it took 185 man-days, whatever that is. But it does not take a whole lot of mathematics to figure that if there were eight people involved, they were over there for a little more than four weeks; like double that. How does that happen? Does the change in terminology mean a change in the accuracy of the statistics?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Multiply it out and it comes to 20 days.
Mr. Breaugh: You multiply it out. These are your numbers. If you can get four weeks into 185 man-days, I would be interested to know how you do that.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Divide the eight into 185.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is pretty simple even for a former teacher.
Mr. Breaugh: I cannot say that the minister lied to me, but he certainly gave me a far different impression of this exercise than what was reported by the Provincial Auditor. Because the auditor chose to put this information in the book, I take it that he too thinks it is not quite a kosher way to operate. I would tend to say I support the auditor in his assessment of it but I want to get to the facts of the matter, because there appears to be some confusion. There is certainly a great discrepancy between what the former Minister of Revenue said in this House during debate of his estimates and what was reported to the auditor. Somewhere we are going to find out just what the facts are in the matter.
There are a couple of other things that I think are interesting. The minister on that morning said, "As a matter of fact, the total cost relating to the recruiting in Britain was $67,000." The Provincial Auditor, in his report tabled yesterday, said the total expenses were $46,500. There is a little discrepancy there, too.
Which was it? Which set of numbers do we base our opinions on? How do we form an accurate assessment of whether this was a useful, worthwhile activity for the government to engage in? There are two sets of numbers in operation here and obviously they both cannot be right. At least the discrepancies have to be cleared up.
As a matter of fact, and I really thought this was an interesting exercise, the only thing on which there was total, clear agreement was on how many jobs were available: 24. The minister in his speech on the debate and the auditor in his report agree that there were 24 jobs. But they cannot, for example, even agree on how many people they hired. In the auditor's report, as of yesterday, he says 16 people were hired in 1982. In the estimates last year, the Minister of Revenue said 18 were hired. Was it 16 or 18? What was the total cost of the exercise?
I am feeling some frustration because the rules of this House say -- and I am a proponent of the rules, as most members know -- we cannot call people liars; we have to assume everybody is honourable. That is really the only civilized way to proceed. I do not want to call the Provincial Auditor a liar either. Yet the numbers he used in his report, in this information here, were supplied to him by the Deputy Minister of Revenue who "responded to our comments on September 14, 1983."
This is not something that was done off the top of someone's head. There were obviously people involved who had the time and the resources to provide information. The question is, what information did they provide? Between what the Provincial Auditor reports and what the minister said there are substantial differences as to the length of the exercise, its cost and which costs are included in this total. There seems to be a good deal of creative accounting going on. That is all aside from the main point which ought to be, was the exercise necessary and useful?
I accepted the minister's argument at face value that day that they could not find people who could fill these jobs on this continent. In essence, that is what he said, that it was absolutely essential because nowhere in North America were there people who could fill these 24 jobs. He went to some length to make an argument that they had spent a lot of time, money and effort in Canada, from one end of the country to the other, to find these 24 people and could not do so. So they were forced, when they did not want to, to journey across the pond and stay in strange places for a while.
It seemed to me a relatively simple matter to determine how much it cost and whether it was a worthwhile exercise. I rather thought the issue had been dealt with more than a year ago. It came as some surprise to me to read in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun this morning that, all of a sudden, a new discovery has been made, when it has been in Hansard for over a year. It is been a matter of public record that we had that discussion. It seemed to be a relatively simple thing I would read in the Provincial Auditor's report when I received it in my office this morning. I expected to read roughly what we had discussed more than a year ago.
It came as a bit of a surprise that the numbers upon which we all based our judgements were different. They are not exactly in total conflict, but they are different. That is interesting to look at. It is not quite as clear as being able to say that somebody lied to somebody, but we certainly can say the numbers do not jibe and what the Provincial Auditor acted on in his report are not the numbers that were presented to the Legislature when we debated the matter. I would like to know how we are going to proceed from here to identify who was right, who gave accurate information.
Many of us have a lot of respect for the process of the Provincial Auditor and the ability of that office to investigate the expenditures of government, to identify areas where things are perhaps not being done in a proper way or to point out areas where through oversight the government has not got around to fixing up proper procedure. If the Provincial Auditor bases his report on information that is wrong, or I would go so far as to say information that is certainly different from information provided to members of the Legislature in estimates debate, then he cannot do the job properly. He does not get accurate information from ministry staff; he is given different information in a different form. The result of that is confusion, not clarity.
The Provincial Auditor has an excellent opportunity to get information that ordinary members would have some difficulty in getting, mostly because ordinary members of this Legislature do not have the kind of staff they would need to go through ministry records. I have no one working for me who can spare that time or effort. The two people who work for me, one here and one in Oshawa, have very different roles cut out for them. Frankly, they are roles I think are important, more important than anything else. Their time is occupied in that way. One would have a hard time arguing that the members here have enough time to do that.
That would all be based on the premise that the government would be willing to open up its books and share information with opposition members. Even in the recent debates that is not the case. We do not have a freedom of information law in Ontario yet. The government hands out only such information as it chooses to hand out and only on occasions when it chooses to do so.
In this case, where a member of the Legislature has asked the minister in one instance and the Provincial Auditor has asked the deputy minister in the second instance, there are differing numbers provided. Certainly, it is clear to me there is a void here. I do not know how it will be resolved. I would have some hope, for example, that the auditor might now go back and ask the deputy minister to clarify the numbers that were provided because they are in clear conflict with the statements made by the then minister in the Legislature.
That is something people should not take lightly. When a minister of the crown rises during the estimates debate, it is usually on a day and in a situation such as today. The media has gone to file the flash stories of the day; the television cameras are all shut down and taken out. Usually, there are very few people who are sufficiently fascinated by the process to come and sit in the gallery. Yet it is all a matter of public record.
It is not as though the minister were testifying in a court of law. But if we read the old-fashioned words in Hansard and on the order paper, we will see there are witnesses appearing before committees and there are debates scheduled in the Legislature itself. In many respects, when the Legislature does meet, it is an occasion that is not unlike a court.
In this House we do not ask members or witnesses before committees to swear an oath all the time. We are a little more casual than that. But we work on the assumption that no member is going to lie or distort or deliberately mislead anybody else. We work on the basis that when the ministers are asked questions, they will give honest, accurate information.
The slippage often occurs, of course, when ministers take advantage of the fact that they do not have to provide all the information. In this Legislature they are allowed to give tidbits only, here and there, and they exercise that privilege every day. They will release the little bits of information they want to release. Opposition members do not have an opportunity to get all the facts and make their own judgement.
For example, when I withdrew my estimate this morning, I had to do that because I had based it on what now appears to be, if not faulty information, at least information different from that provided to the auditor. I thought we had gone through a relatively simple exercise that morning, a rather straightforward one, as a matter of fact. The minister told us his estimate for this recruiting exercise in Great Britain was between $10,000 and $11,000 per recruit. There were 18 recruits. It does not take a lot of time to figure out that he spent at least $180,000 in the course of the exercise.
If we read the Hansard for that day, we will find all of this is based on little bits and pieces of information here and there. It has to do with travel and advertising costs. The minister made a bit of an argument that previously they had used a professional recruiting service in Great Britain and they were not satisfied with those results. In fact, he said it was more expensive to do it that way than to send ministry staff to do the hiring.
When honourable members look at that, they are forced, probably willingly, to accept the minister at his word. Not being able to go over the books, so to speak, to clarify exactly what the costs were, they have to take it on that argument.
I now feel the estimate I put together from information given to me by the Minister of Revenue in that morning's debate was at least inaccurate. I am not at all confident either that the information supplied to the Provincial Auditor by the deputy minister was accurate. I do not know. I do know there is a discrepancy between the two sets of numbers. I do not have much belief that the ministry has put out straight, accurate information on this recruitment program.
I think it is important because it challenges the way a legislature is supposed to work. I am supposed to believe that what a minister tells me is a fact. When that fact does not correspond with facts provided to me by the Provincial Auditor of Ontario, one of them is wrong. At least we can say that. Just exactly why they are wrong and who is wrong is another matter.
I wanted to put these things on the record and to say them at some length. When I attempted to correct the record today, I was rather saddened that I was interrupted by the Speaker, which is another matter entirely. I do think when a member rises to correct what he said in a previous debate, it is important that the member at least has the opportunity to be heard. Indeed, it is fortunate we have supplementary estimates before us this morning, which give us a little more time.
I think the issues I have raised on this one item are important. There is a problem here. I am going to lay it right back to the new Minister of Revenue. I think it is his job now to try to clarify the differences that are there and to provide us with complete and accurate information. The judgement call on whether this recruiting overseas is necessary is still out. I really have a great credibility problem with that.
I cannot believe these people cannot be found, at least in North America. I cannot believe the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson), who is smiling nicely and politely in the front row as always, could not provide people of this calibre from our universities and post-secondary institutions to work in the various ministries. I have listened to her on a number of occasions talk about those problems.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There is a worldwide shortage.
Mr. Breaugh: That is the problem. Since she is the minister responsible for training people in this type of skills program, it seems to me, if she acknowledges a worldwide shortage, she sure as hell ought to be at work making sure Canadians can supply that shortage. That is an obvious deduction.
I want to conclude my remarks by saying very briefly these discrepancies point out that there are problems that have to he resolved. It is not a reasonable way to proceed when one cannot believe a minister of the crown or the Provincial Auditor of Ontario. We count on those institutions to provide us with accurate information. Quite frankly, it seems to me this should not be a major scandal and is not going to be a major scandal; it is a relatively simple matter. The minister on that morning's debate more than a year ago chose to lead me down the garden path, so to speak, by giving me bits of information.
Unfortunately, the Provincial Auditor seems to have been somewhat deceived by the process as well because, though he did take note that there were some practices that should be corrected, and he certainly took note that this recruiting process leaves something to be desired from an accounting point of view, he may well have been acting on wrong information. Although he cannot rise in this House and ask to correct the record, I am sure he will have something more to say on another occasion, perhaps before the public accounts committee when we can go back to it.
The difficulty I have is that we are left hanging. We do not know who to believe, or at least I do not. I am not sure which set of numbers is correct because they supposedly came from the same ministry, and I believe the same deputy minister supplied information to both the then Minister of Revenue and the Provincial Auditor. It causes a problem. One does not know who to believe. One only knows one has been misled and one does not have totally accurate information concerning the accounting of that process.
It is not a very healthy day for the Legislature or a very happy day for someone like me who believes a minister will not lie to me, who believes a minister may not give me the total picture, but at least will give me some information upon which I can make a reasonably objective and accurate assessment of whether this recruiting drive, for example, was a sensible thing to do. I do not feel at all that way this morning. I feel I have been deceived. Worse than that, I usually like to know who deceived me, and right now I do not know.
I will pursue that in other veins where I can and I hope the Provincial Auditor will pursue it as well. I hope the minister will attempt to provide us with an accurate assessment of what exactly did happen and just exactly how much it costs. It would be nice to know exactly how many employees were hired. It would be nice to have an accurate picture of precisely how long this exercise took, exactly what it cost and exactly how many of those people still work for the ministry.
I think all of those questions are ones which deserve an answer. The Legislature deserves an answer, the Provincial Auditor deserves an answer and, more than that, the people who pay the taxes in this province deserve a straight answer on that particular question.
Mr. Nixon: I just want to say a word or two before the minister responds, since his predecessor has now left the House. He interjected a couple of questions to me following my criticisms to the minister on the subject the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) has just been talking about.
The former minister asked: "Should the minister okay everybody's expense account?" The implication is that the Ministry of Revenue is so big that the political person at the head cannot be held responsible for what happens in the lower echelons.
I think none of us in the House can accept that. I would think if the lowest employee of the ministry misappropriated a 30-cent stamp or something like that, the minister is responsible whether he knows about it or not. That goes without saying. I am sure the former minister was not intending to question that area of responsibility.
But in a scam such as this, which was talked about on the streets of Oshawa and probably in the tap room of the Genosha Hotel, where government people were going on their regular trips to London, if the former minister is trying to imply that he does not know anything about it, I am afraid that while we believe him, we simply cannot understand how he could be so divorced from reality.
The present minister is not divorced from reality. Being the kind of person he is, I am sure he already knows the word that is going around the large, new headquarters facility about this one and that one and who is going to go on the trip to England this year, etc.
I think one of the best medicines all the ministers and their senior officials will be treated to is the word that Mr. Alan Gordon has just tendered his resignation as deputy minister. That probably will be some of the best medicine the senior officials can be treated to.
Mr. Philip: It shows the power of the opposition.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, it does. I hope it does not show that the Premier (Mr. Davis), by crooking his little finger and dismissing somebody, who will be probably then retained as a consultant under some other circumstances, thinks he has got rid of this disease that is riddling a ministry that has obviously been too long in office. I am talking about the decade that it has been in office under the present regime.
The ministers really have to be tough as nails because they have, through the support of the majority of this House, been given the specific responsibility to oversee the expenditure of hundreds of millions, billions of dollars. We simply cannot allow the public service to establish the attitude that there is no check on them, that anything they can do is okay. We cannot put the ministers in the impossible position where they have to defend the impossible. We will back up the ministers when they take a strong and independent stand to lead, and in this minister's case to clean up and then lead his own ministry.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to put on the record a couple of comments about this resignation, to which maybe the minister wants to respond. I, for one, am not elated that someone named Alan Gordon would --
The Deputy Chairman: We are now looking at the Ministry of Revenue.
Mr. Breaugh: I am aware of that. I can read the order paper and I spoke previously in the debate. I know that. If you had not interrupted me in mid-sentence, you might understand that I am going to relate that to the ministry process.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Why are you all so snarky this morning?
Mr. Breaugh: The Minister of Colleges and Universities is accusing someone else in this House of being snarky?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes, I am.
Mr. Breaugh: That is outrageous.
The Deputy Chairman: We are back on vote 802 of the Ministry of Revenue. The member for Oshawa has the floor.
Mr. Breaugh: May I just conclude my remarks about this process that is used in this ministry and all the ministries. The problem about accurate information is not resolved by shooting the piano player. That does not solve the problems in saloons, and the fact that someone resigned does not solve the problem here. I am never pleased when a civil servant resigns because it seems to me this government will use that as a solution. I do not think that is the solution to the problem.
The problem, as I tried to lay out earlier, is the manner in which opposition members or anyone -- people in the public or members on the government side -- can get accurate information from the ministry and whether there are proper procedures being followed, according to the government's own guidelines. All of that is not resolved by somebody resigning; it gets resolved by having some access to information and by having a reasonable set of procedures to follow.
I think it is not unreasonable to say that on this side of the House, for example, when we look at manuals of administration or at guidelines laid down by the Management Board of Cabinet, one of the things we have to accept as members here is that those guidelines will be followed. When they are not followed, a resignation does not solve the problem; it only makes that individual go away. I am sure government members, perhaps ministers, will say, "Well, that problem is all gone." However, from my point of view, the problem remains.
An individual may have lost his job, so to speak, but the government has not admitted that a dismissal was under way here. Someone has resigned; someone has done the honourable thing according to the old British tradition and given up a very good job. That is not going to resolve any of the difficulties I pointed out to the minister this morning about getting accurate information.
I would very much like the minister to try to address himself to that point if and when he responds, and I hope he actually does that.
The Deputy Chairman: Does any other member wish to participate in this debate? I call on the Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: Are you suggesting this will close the debate if some members want to pursue the matter further? Surely not.
The Deputy Chairman: No.
Mr. Nixon: Okay.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Chairman, first, I would like to comment on the remark by my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh). I have no intention of commenting on the resignation of a deputy minister in another ministry. I do not think it would be fair for me to do that, and I do not think the member really expected me to. If I may, we will go on from there.
None of these consultants was involved in the small business development corporations program or in the coloration program. In effect, we are talking about something else. That is fine; that is fair game because of the Provincial Auditor's report. I happen to be fortunate, as the member said, to be presenting my supplementary estimates on the day after the Provincial Auditor's report was tabled. It is fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how one looks at it. At any rate, here we are.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) was discussing the prepayment of consultants. That, of course, is well covered in the auditor's report as well as by comments by my deputy minister. However, one should read on, beyond the comments of the auditor and the way the deputy minister has addressed that particular problem.
Yes, there were four cases where there was prepayment or the actual cost was not covered in the proper year; that was admitted. It was also admitted that it was a mistake and steps were taken to correct this. In the following year, none of this occurred. All of these payments for consultants were within the proper given time frame.
It is interesting to note -- and this, of course, is not justifying it in any way -- that there were only four out of 565 contracts where this occurred. This can occur, whether it is called a mistake, an oversight or whatever. The fact is that it happened, it was recognized that it was wrong and it was corrected. Now the situation is working as it should. That is fine. Unfortunately, with the auditor's report, he does not always go beyond the specific year he was looking at.
I want to turn now to the recruiting trip to the United Kingdom and whether or not some of these people were available from community colleges etc. The ministry was looking for experienced middle management. These people were not available in Canada. That information came from working in co-operation with Canada Manpower and Immigration, and the trip was supported by them because these people were unavailable. My friend the member for Oshawa may wish to disputes that point, and that is his privilege, but the information I have is that they were not available here in Canada. Therefore, this happened.
Whether this visit that produced this great scandal, according to the auditor, was justified or unjustified, if one looks at the figures for expenditures on meals etc., my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has been to England fairly recently and knows a figure of $15 a day would be totally out of whack. If one lived there on $15 or even $25 a day, one would still not be living in the lap of luxury.
If the member goes by the number of meals that were eaten over there but not charged, he will recognize that $15 was a figure beyond which receipts must be supplied. Obviously, there must have been many meals, assuming these people did not go without meals for several days in a row. If one takes the average, one is going to come out with an expenditure of about $29 per day in England.
If my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk or I can go to England and live on $30 a day each, I say to him to put me on the list; I would like to go. I suggest it may even be a good idea if we look into that situation to see whether it can be done. I do not think we would last. If he looks at it realistically, I think he will realize those figures are really out of whack. Again, the comments of the deputy minister, which follow the summary by the auditor, make that adequately clear.
In regard to the numbers of people hired, he said: "There were 18 hired. Two resigned, and they were not paid. Sixteen were retained and are still retained" on this trip the member was referring to. "Previous to that there were 11 hired; six of them did resign" -- presumably after they came to Canada -- "for better offers on the outside. Their travel costs have been recovered to the tune of $9,000." The figure the member asked for several times is a net of 16. Eighteen were hired; two resigned and were not paid. So there was no cost for those two.
The one thing that remains outstanding is this matter raised by the member for Oshawa about the information he was given, whether he was given false information and by whom. It was mentioned that the information was supplied to the Provincial Auditor by the Deputy Minister of Revenue. In fact, no information was supplied to the auditor by the Deputy Minister of Revenue. The auditor himself examined the accounts, and any information he has from Revenue comes from his auditing and examination of those accounts.
It is pointed out that the auditor's figures, in our opinion, are correct. They are in accordance with our internal audit. I do not really think there is any argument. If the member feels he was given false information in the past by the auditor or whoever, I cannot comment on that, obviously; I was not around. Frankly, I did not have an opportunity to examine the Hansard he talks about.
As to the mathematics of whether or not it was 185 man-days among eight people, I am not of the impression that all eight were there for the full time; so it could have gone beyond. My understanding of a man-day is one man or woman working one day. If there are eight people there, that is eight working days or eight man-days. If one divides that into total man-days, one will find out on the average how long they were there. I think that works out to about 23 days, as I read it. If one assumes a five-day week, that is slightly over four weeks; if one assumes a six-day week, that is almost right on four weeks. I do not think we have a great deal of argument. We are batting figures back and forth that really do not mean a great deal.
I do not think I have anything more to say at the moment, if there is any additional dialogue, fine.
The Deputy Chairman: Any other debate? Ready for the question?
Vote 802 agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported a certain resolution.
The Deputy Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Administrator has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:
Bill 68, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Bill 86, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional and Metropolitan Municipalities.
Bill 87, An Act to amend the Police Act.
Bill 90, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
Bill 92, An Act to amend the Health Disciplines Act.
Bill 93, An Act to amend the Family Law Reform Act.
Bill 94, An Act to amend the Charities Accounting Act.
Bill 95, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act.
Bill 96, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Bill 97, An Act respecting Central Trust Company and Crown Trust Company.
Bill 106, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act.
Bill 107, An Act to amend the County of Oxford Act.
Bill 113, An Act to regulate Conveyances of Dwelling Units in Residential Complexes.
Bill 124, An Act to amend the Wages Act.
Bill 128, An Act to amend the Residential Complexes Financing Costs Restraint Act, 1982.
Bill Pr12, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Bill Pr22, An Act to revive Silverstone Oil Company Limited.
Bill Pr26, An Act respecting the Institute of Management Consultants of Ontario.
Bill Pr33, An Act respecting Certain Land in the Town Plot of Smyth, in the District of Nipissing.
Bill Pr34, An Act respecting Eastern Pentecostal Bible College.
Bill Pr44, An Act respecting The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and participate in the windup of the debate on expenditures for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Also, I would like to make a couple of points as we wind down the 1983 proceedings of the Legislature.
I want to indicate to the minister that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications can affect the development of an area perhaps as much as or more than an other ministry in the government. I point out that in our area of Ontario in particular, there is a need for continued maintenance and improvement of the facilities provided by this ministry.
We appreciate that the minister was at Caledonia just a couple of weeks ago to open the new bypass. That is working quite well. I want to report to the minister, and I have had the opportunity of utilizing that facility. However, because of the location of Stelco and the industrial area being developed in the region of Haldimand-Norfolk, there needs to be continued improvement of the transportation system and the provision of much-needed work in the area for companies such as Cayuga Quarries and the other quarries to provide work opportunities. There are already designs on the table to complete Highway 3 between Nelles Corners and Jarvis, and we hope that will take place in 1984.
We have written to the minister to point out that there are several crossroads on Highway 3 and Highway 6 which could be improved to prevent tragic accidents. There was one on Highway 3, at a place known as the Catholic Church Sideroad to Sandust Road, where four people were killed in a bad accident this past summer. I hope the minister will see fit to provide better lighting, although perhaps better signing would be the correct approach to indicate to the public there is an intersection ahead. It perhaps would alleviate some of the problems that have come about because of the bad line of sight at the old bridge on Highway 3. It is a hazard. I know that with the new construction that is being proposed, a lot of the hazard could he eliminated, and I hope this will take place in 1984.
I would also like to point out to the minister that the industrial park is not now being served by a direct link by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; it is being served only by regional roads. I have made the point before that it should be the responsibility of the province, and not that of the region, to supply the highways that are needed. Perhaps in the near future the ministry will consider linking that industrial park by MTC roads rather than by regional roads, so that the region will not have to contribute as much towards the maintenance of these arteries.
In order to have an efficient transportation system to develop the area, a good direct link could be built between Nanticoke and Port Colborne. Again, they are using regional road 1 between Dunnville and Nanticoke rather than Highway 3. One has to detour on it, and it is a crooked road. The traffic, of course, takes the shortest and most direct route, which is the regional road.
Down the line a road or highway could be developed between Port Colborne and Nanticoke. It would open up an area such as Dunnville to an expressway, which as the minister is well aware has contributed to the development along the Queen Elizabeth Way and his particular area of Ontario.
Another connecting link could be from Nanticoke to Hamilton. I know the Caledonia bypass is the first step in that development. Highway 6 has the proper right of way for four lanes between Hagersville and Caledonia. Consideration should be given to four-laning that because, as the minister is well aware, a two- lane highway, when one gets behind heavy truck traffic, makes it dangerous for passing and for faster-moving vehicles.
Once one gets to Caledonia, of course, there is a connecting link from the Caledonia bypass to Highway 403, which is now being proposed to be hooked up from there to Highway 403 at Fiddler's Green Road. Perhaps that would make the Caledonia bypass work more efficiently if it were completed.
There has been some opposition to using the Fiddler's Green Road. Some recommend that using a line between Fiddler's Green and Southcote Road would be more advantageous and less disturbing to the people who use in the Ancaster area. I have received correspondence from people who are concerned, particularly in Ancaster. I hope the minister will give that some consideration, because it is going to serve the area for many generations and it is going to be very useful. The one that would do the least amount of environmental damage would perhaps be the best access route.
Another matter that has been brought to my attention as the member for Haldimand-Norfolk is the question of people who have their licences privileges suspended because of their drinking problems. One such case came to my attention the other day; it involved a man whose licence had been suspended for three years. I am not denying that his licence should be suspended -- because it was not his first offence; he has had a couple of offences -- but he is a farmer -- -
Hon. Mr. Snow: Let's be honest.
Mr. G. I. Miller: No, I am making a point for consideration.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Just put the facts on record.
Mr. G. I. Miller: His licence has been suspended. There is nothing wrong with the suspension: I am not saying there was.
Hon. Mr. Snow: It will not be for two offences. You said a couple and it would have to be three. Now let's be honest.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Okay, three then. I am not arguing that point. The point I want to make is that this chap is a farmer. He recognized he had a drinking problem and has gone to the Homewood clinic in Guelph to take treatment. He has a young family and it is putting a lot of pressure on his wife to transport these young people.
I know he has to pay the penalty, but should there not be a method by which he could be allowed to have his driver's licence back so that he can make a living and provide for his family, if he can prove within a shorter period of time that he has his drinking problem under control?
The point is he must prove that he does have it under control. I would not want to say he should go back on the road at the risk of the general public, but unless that correction can be made three years is a long time. He could perhaps report on a daily or weekly basis to assure the public will be protected and yet he can provide for his family. I would like the minister to give that consideration.
The other incident which came to our attention was a person who had a spell at work. He was not on the road; he was working in Niagara Falls for the railway at the time and lived in Hagersville. Because he had this attack and went to a good doctor he was reported and had to give up his licence. I think that was in February or March this year. The rules indicate he has to give up that driver's licence for a year.
He has gone back to his local doctors and specialists and they have indicated he should be able to drive. They have given that assurance. Yet he has to wait a full year before his licence suspension can be reviewed. He has been put in the position of not being able to get to work, his sick benefits have run out and he is being forced to go on welfare in order to support his family. He and his doctors feel he should be able to return to work. Two doctors and a specialist consultant should be enough support to allow him to go back to work. I would like the ministry to review that process because it is creating much hardship to many families in Ontario.
The only other point I would like to bring to the minister's attention is the Provincial Auditor's report. Regarding the transfer of vehicle information, of approximately 190,000 vehicles transferred between October 26, 1982, and November 30, 1982, when the vehicle data base was frozen, 55,000 have not been successfully processed or updated to the data base as of June 1983. Maybe the minister is in a position now to give us an up-to-date report on that. Again, in dealing with our office there was some confusion. Perhaps this is one area where it was coming about.
The other point was that the ministry's record of agents' outstanding licence stickers is inaccurate and incomplete. Maybe the minister could report on that.
The third is the financial reconciliation between manually accepted fees reported by issuing agents. The underlying applications were completed for only a few of these transactions. There was no assurance the issuing agents had reported and deposited the correct licence fee amounts. The auditor is saying that maybe there is inaccurate reporting between the collection and the reporting of fees.
Those are the comments I would like to make at this time.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I am going to keep my remarks brief because I know the Ombudsman's concurrences follow and I have some things I am particularly concerned about with that office. Perhaps I have more objections to those operations than the operations of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which seems to have sorted out some of the earlier problems that were taking place with deregulation and other problems.
I share the concern of the previous speaker about the length of time it seems to take to process applications for licences. I have had constituents come to me who have mailed in an application for their licence and who six weeks later suddenly find they are driving without a licence. I recognize they can go to the nearest office and get an extension when that happens, but to law-abiding citizens who are conscientious that poses a problem.
The other problem currently in the news is the whole problem of drunk driving. Some time ago the Minister of Transportation and Communications brought in an act to require pictures on drivers' licences. A great number of people who are in alcohol-related accidents have already had their licences suspended but they go out and borrow somebody else's licence. When are the pictures going to be on the licences? This would help to curtail that.
I would like to say a couple of things about the problem of deregulation. I met with several US congressmen in Washington recently. The trucking industry is a major one in my riding and in the surrounding ridings. As a matter of fact, the Ontario Trucking Association is located just barely within the boundaries of my riding on Dixon Road.
I simply want to put on the record that this ideological, irrational, right-wing deregulation binge in the United States is the biggest economic stupidity and nonsense I have ever seen. It is causing problems in the US but it is also causing problems for us. The problem for us, as our people at the embassy pointed out, is that for some reason or other the Americans cannot understand that while the Interstate Commerce Commission over the years has been fairly slow at letting Canadian carriers compete in the US, suddenly with this ideological, right-wing Republicanism that has infested trucking regulations and all transportation regulations, we have a situation where they are saying: "We should be able to run into Canada. We are deregulated. Why can you not compete the same way as we have?"
That is a problem the minister has to take on in very direct terms. He must make these people understand they are not going to tell us how to run our transportation industry in this country. They can come in only under the regulated system we have accepted.
When one talks to some of these congressmen they seem to have this blind faith that deregulation increases competition and competition therefore increases all the other economic benefits. However, research shows that in an essential industry such as transportation it has had the reverse effect. It leads to monopoly, safety problems and bankruptcies.
Unfortunately, the minister was not at a session of the Ontario Trucking Association convention when a very interesting speech was made. I know he was at other sessions that I missed, so we are even, I guess. There was a particularly interesting speech made by a fellow named Nelson Cooney, who is a transportation lawyer from the United States. He talked about the experience of the US with deregulation.
First of all, in 1978 there was the law calling for deregulation of the airline industry. Then in 1980 we had the US Motor Carrier Act. Now the Interstate Commerce Commission has virtually an open-door policy for entry.
We can see the results of deregulation in the US. First of all, there has been increased competition from 9,000 more companies. But what is the result of that? They have had 305 carriers who were serving an essential need go bankrupt. They have had poor financial results. Forty per cent of all recognized carriers in the United States had losses in 1982.
There has been a concentration within the market share, with the largest carriers going after the full truckloads; undercutting the market, cutting the smaller guys out. Unionized workers have been devastated. One third of unionized workers have lost their jobs in the trucking industry in the US. The large shippers are now limiting the number of carriers they use and concentrating their businesses with only some of the larger carriers.
In short, with deregulation of the airline and trucking industries in the US there has been a higher concentration and a monopoly. In the long run, deregulation actually leads to less competition and greater monopoly and less free enterprise, if one wants to use that expression.
There is an interesting paper on this very subject by Steven Dempsey. I will not go through all of it. He talks about the benefits of regulation, but there is an interesting section on declining safety. He says Professor Frederick Tyler of the University of Pittsburgh reminds us that safety always suffers when the airlines are largely unregulated. Indeed, he notes that deregulation "threatens to give us the worst of all worlds, a combination of many exorbitant fares to cover the empty seats and a decline in safety."
When we look at what happened in the deregulation of the airline industry in the US and what is happening in the deregulation of the trucking industry, what we find is for a short period of time the gravy routes decreased in price. The gravy routes in trucking could be considered to be those that have full truckloads rather than partial truckloads or less than truckloads. But, as was found in the Australian experience when they deregulated, what they end up with is a few large carriers gradually managing to put the others out of business and there is a monopoly. Most important, the costs go up on those routes that have been less profitable and that have been cross-subsidized through the regulatory system.
What I find worrisome about the deregulation system is that invariably what happens is that people start crying for adequate transportation and the government goes in and nationalizes or picks up all the losers. I say that is the worst of all worlds. There is increased monopoly with deregulation, there is increased bankruptcy, and then the government responds to the crisis by taking over all the losing companies and the taxpayers pay for it.
I hope the minister will address himself to that. At one time the minister was a deregulationist, until we scuttled his bill on deregulation during minority government; we said we would actually vote it down if he did not withdraw it. I am glad to see his colleagues in cabinet, or maybe the trucking industry or the overwhelming evidence against deregulation have convinced him otherwise. He is co-operating with a very important industry that is not making large, exorbitant profits and that is being squeezed, particularly by the American deregulationists at the moment. He might want to address himself to that or, if time does not permit, simply write me a letter on the subject.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable members who have taken part in the concurrence of our estimates. I think we had a very productive estimates period this year. We spent 15 hours in committee and a great many members participated. We tried to answer in detail all their comments and provide the information they asked for.
I certainly will take the comments and the recommendations that have been made here in the concurrence into consideration. I do not believe I have the time today to respond in detail to all of the comments that were made. There are just a couple I would like to mention.
Mention has been made of the photos on the drivers' licences. Certainly it is my intention to proceed with that as soon as possible. As members know, I brought in legislation to do that about four or five years ago, but unfortunately because of budget constraints we have not been able to proceed with it. That is one of my highest priorities in the coming year. I hope we are able to do that within our budget because it is certainly the next highest priority as one of our safety initiatives.
So far as the other items are concerned, I made notes on all of them and we will have Hansard, of course. I thank the honourable members for their suggestions.
Resolution concurred in.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I see that we have only four minutes, but I simply want to put on the record a few of my concerns about the Ombudsman and I hope the acting or interim Ombudsman will answer these questions.
First, I find it preposterous that it has taken a year and a half to fill a position that offers a salary of $87,000 per year plus benefits, a position that has the highest prestige, that of a Supreme Court judge equivalent. Yet this government cannot find a suitable Ombudsman to put in this important position.
It has created tremendous anxieties and tremendous morale problems in that office. It has created problems for the Ombudsman's committee, of which I am a member, as we are always dealing with somebody who is a lame-duck Ombudsman, so to speak.
I must say I would not view any further delay with any kind of pleasure when I have an acting Ombudsman who in his estimates, on page 1145 of the Instant Hansard of November 2, 1983, says, "Where we might get into the problem," when we are talking about the differences in pay within his own office, "is if, in fact, they put the legislation through with equal work, equal pay, etc."
When we have an acting Ombudsman who does not even understand that is already the legislation, that there is legislation that says women have to be paid equally to men if they are doing the same job, who does not even understand the legislation, then one has to wonder whether we want to have that fellow around for very much longer.
One wonders if he says that will cause problems in his own office, where he would stand on the larger concept to which we in the NDP are so firmly committed, that of equal pay for work of equal value. Certainly that poses a problem.
I also have a problem with Mr. McArdle's answer to a question that was asked in which he says, "There is very little difference between" the salaries "of the investigative staff." I understand, and I would like Mr. McArdle to send me a written reply to this, that there are differences as high as $10,000 between different investigators. I want that question answered and I expect a reply within a week, before the House adjourns, on this issue.
We were in British Columbia and we saw -- even though that Legislature is a lot more polarized, there are a lot more disagreements and they are more hateful to one another than anything we have seen around here, with maybe one or two exceptions on certain days -- where there is a whole consulting process whereby the opposition and the government have to come to a consensus on the Ombudsman. Yet here, not even the chairman of the committee has been asked for his opinion and he is a Conservative.
The process in British Columbia worked. I think it is fair to say the Ombudsman in British Columbia is recognized as the world's leading Ombudsman. The choice was made in a nonpartisan way; the government went through a list of hundreds of applicants then made a short list of 10. The committee, which consisted of members from both political parties, then had to come to a consensus as to the best of the 10 short-listed by the government.
I suggest to the minister that should have been done here. It would be irresponsible if the government did not name an Ombudsman before the House adjourns, which would mean, therefore, we could not deal with him until March of next year. Even though the current acting Ombudsman happens to be a very friendly and nice fellow, I suggest it is not good enough to extend his tenure any further.
Resolution concurred in.
The House adjourned at 1:01 p.m.