32nd Parliament, 3rd Session










































The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity of providing the people in the Legislature with some of the fruits of Victoria, which is located in Haldimand-Norfolk. It reminds us that Christmas is not far away and that we are getting near the end of the session. I would like to extend season's greetings to you and the members of the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much.


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, today is December 13, which marks the second anniversary of the imposition of martial law in Poland. It is important for this Legislature to recall that although martial law was lifted in Poland in July 1983, for a great many people the situation has not improved dramatically. Trade unionists and many others are still in jail and we understand there are now 11 who are awaiting trial. Those 11 are seven activists in Solidarity and four in KOR, which is the Committee for Workers' Defence and a supporter of Solidarity. All 11 individuals are charged with sedition and "crimes against the state."

I am sure that in the week following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Lech Walesa, the founder of the Solidarity movement, the members of the Legislature would want to join me and members of my party in marking with a sense of real sadness that this is the second anniversary of the imposition of martial law in Poland and that for a great many people in that wonderful country, freedom is not yet the friend we all feel it should be.



Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as minister responsible for native affairs, I am pleased to report to members of the Legislature that earlier today I was able to sign an official agreement for our government with the Islington band. I am also pleased to announce that a letter of intent has been signed with Chief Mandamin of the band and Ontario Hydro. This letter recognizes that agreement on major issues has been reached and that every effort is being made to finalize the matter and to bring about its successful completion.

Ontario Hydro and the Islington band have reached agreement on the terms of a settlement which includes $1.5 million to the band and the transfer of some 4,200 acres. This transfer will be to the federal government for addition to the Whitedog reserve in compensation for reserve lands flooded by the Caribou Falls Hydro dam some years ago.

Members will recall that the government agreed to implement the recommendations as contained in the report of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. Essentially, the commission recommended that special attention be provided to the social and economic needs of the Islington and Grassy Narrows bands.

In response, a mediation process was entered into with the two bands, the federal government and Ontario to identify and implement measures which would improve the general conditions of these communities. The major initiatives as contained in the agreement signed this morning with the Islington band are as follows.

The province will provide up to $1 million to be used for the construction of a greenhouse, as well as equipment and related facilities for the production of seedlings for reforestation. The greenhouse will be built near the Whitedog reserve. The Ministry of Natural Resources will enter into a long-term contract with the band for the purchase of the seedlings. As well, an additional $537,500 will be held in a fund for the band's use in equipping band commercial fishermen, trappers and guides. The funds may also be used for future expansion of the greenhouse operation.

With respect to wild rice, Ontario agrees to license all bodies of water in the southern subsection of the present registered area to the Islington band for the exclusive harvesting of wild rice by its members. This licensing agreement will continue as long as reasonable harvesting of wild rice takes place. In the northern subsection of the band's present registered area, the band agrees that while the right of first refusal for harvesting jobs will be granted, licences for this area will be made available to any resident of Ontario.

With respect to the bays of Swan Lake, which are adjacent to the boundaries of the reserve, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) will recommend that changes be made to the regulations under the Wild Rice Harvesting Act. This amendment would allow the band to harvest wild rice on Swan Lake without conditions of production. This licence will not be changed without the mutual consent of the Minister of Natural Resources and the Islington band.

In order to ensure that the band has access to fish for its personal use, specific lakes near the reserve have been identified for band members to fish for food and to stock the band's community freezer. In this area, sports fishing will be allowed to continue.

For commercial fishing, the band will retain its current licences with quotas to be negotiated with the Minister of Natural Resources. Ontario will purchase the assets of an additional commercial fishing licence for a reasonable price from a willing seller and transfer the licence and assets to the Islington band.

Should the quotas in the band's commercial licences be reduced for biological reasons, Ontario has designated other lakes on which the band could obtain a replacement licence with satisfactory quotas.

Ontario will also assist the band to obtain the assets and licences for specific traplines in the area near the band's reserve lands on a willing seller-willing buyer basis.

With respect to the band's interest in increasing its logging activities in the area near its reserve land, Ontario has agreed to increase the band's present cord allotment in the future depending on the availability of supply and appropriate harvesting. Present nonband timber licences near the reserve will be relocated to new timber harvesting areas on a phased basis as the English River road currently under construction progresses north of Separation Lake.

The band will have the first right of refusal on all new resource-related jobs, except family operations, in the area immediately surrounding the reserve.

Other employment and training programs to be implemented by the province for the band include a tree planting program; purchase of jackpine cones; seasonal contracts for band members as firefighting crews; jobs as extra firefighters as needed; a road maintenance training program; road maintenance contracts; an annual subsidy to the band to maintain its community fish freezer program; short-term training for off-reserve employment in resource development; and a social service training program.

2:10 p.m.

Finally, initiatives to be undertaken in co-operation with band members to address the social needs of the Whitedog community include a commitment to study the needs of the band children, mutually identified and assessed by the ministry and the band; a commitment to study the needs of elderly band members; a commitment to study the band's need for infant care; a commitment to establish services and facilities or to expand existing facilities and services which are identified through the studies just mentioned; funding up to an amount of 50 per cent for a covered ice surface and community hall if the band can provide matching funds and operational funds; matching funds for two years for a recreation director on the reserve; and a $15,000 grant for one year's service towards the cost of employing an educational consultant to develop an education program on the reserve.

The final point contained in the agreement relates to future development. In order to provide the band with an opportunity to comment on future development in the area surrounding their reserve lands, Ontario has agreed to give the band 60 days' notice of all applications for developments involving a cost of more than $150,000.

As I indicated in my opening remarks, negotiations were entered into with both the Islington and Grassy Narrows bands. With respect to the Grassy Narrows band, I am pleased to report the following progress. At the band's request, negotiations with Ontario had been suspended. I have recently met, however, with Chief Fobister of the band and will resume discussions again in January. It is my hope that together we will be able to address in the very near future the concerns which have been identified.

During the past few months, both parties have negotiated in good faith. From these discussions, a solid relationship has emerged between the Islington band and the Ontario government. May I say that there has been a very personal commitment on behalf of the chief of the Islington band, Chief Isaac Mandamin, who is sitting in the members' gallery to my right. It is my hope that this relationship will continue long after the conditions of this agreement have been fulfilled.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that at the appropriate time today it will be my privilege to introduce the new Ontario Election Act.

Because free elections are the cornerstone of our parliamentary democracy, I believe I should use this occasion to review in some detail the philosophy and process embodied in the bill I will be introducing.

This will be the first substantial amendment to our election act since the present legislation was passed in 1969 and draws upon the experience of the past 15 years in attempting to adjust to the contemporary environment. In doing so, we will also preserve many of the traditional and time-tested election procedures which have served us well in Ontario in past years.

Mr. Martel: Yes, unlimited spending.

Mr. Rae: Ask Larry about that; he is an expert on those things.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: My friends, whom I assume are more knowledgeable of these things, will understand that this is the Election Act, not the election contributions and finances act.

Mr. Martel: It is not coming in as a companion piece, then.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Underlying everything in this bill is the commitment that government exists only by the will of the people and that our citizens must be unhindered in expressing this will through a secure, accessible and easily understood electoral process. For this reason, the new act broadens both the physical and the procedural access of citizens to the polls.

Election day in Ontario continues to be Thursday. The bill provides for a common time for polling between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., local time, year-round, except in the districts of Kenora and Rainy River, which are in the Central time zone; polls there will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., Central time. The effect of this is that no poll will open sooner or close later than any other poll in Ontario.

The minimum period between the issue of the writs and polling day is reduced from 37 days to 30 days, but nomination day will remain 14 days before polling day. These changes will allow for a shorter election period, recognizing the trend towards this across Canada.

There are three significant changes in the nomination process: a reduction from 100 to 25 in the number of signatures required for nomination; the requirement for the first time of a deposit of $200; and the requirement of a statement of having filed or an undertaking to file for registration with the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses from each candidate.

But I believe that perhaps the most important changes in this new bill are designed to better accommodate the electors and to remove any barriers that deter them from exercising their franchise. Enumerators will be required to make three visits before leaving a notice envelope at the residence, and provision is made to add names to the voters' lists up until the day before polling. In rural ridings the historic right of election day vouching will be continued.

We are proposing as well to add Thursday to the Saturday and Monday before election day for broadly situated advance polls. As a further convenience, six additional days of polling before election day will be held in the premises of the returning officer, these being on the 12th, 10th, ninth, eighth, sixth and second days before election day.

In addition, the bill broadens the category of those who may act for the voter at the revision of the polls; for example, a teen-age child asking to have a parent's name added. The bill also extends to an elector who is away from the riding during the polling period on business the right of designating a proxy. However, as a precaution, one person can be a voting proxy for no more than two electors, and there are very specific penalties for any corruption connected with proxy voting.

Returning officers will be required to seek out polling locations that have access for the disabled. Polling officials will be authorized to move the ballot box to help the elderly or disabled; for example, carrying the box to the door if the voter cannot come inside.

Municipalities and school boards, along with landlords of premises of more than 100 dwelling units, will be required to make polling space available at the request of the returning officer.

Finally, the grounds for a judicial recount are being restricted solely to determine who is the winning candidate. As members know, recounts were considered in past years to determine second or third places to establish entitlements for rebates or status in subsequent elections.

A further change removes the term "British subject" as a voter qualification --

Mr. Breithaupt: Excellent idea.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- after July 1, 1986, when we --

Mr. T. P. Reid: You have no shame at all.

Mr. Breithaupt: You are going to give it one more shot.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Just in case there is one more United Empire Loyalist left.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I think my friend realizes that in these matters there are still some people in Ontario who feel that notice should be given of this change. But once this bill is passed, it will be in effect after July 1, 1986.

At that time we will be using terminology that will be similar to the federal and most provincial election acts; that is, the basis for voting will be Canadian citizenship. The residence requirement will be changed from 12 months' to six months' residence in the province at the same time, July 1, 1986.

There are, of course, a great many more changes of an administrative nature, which are all based on the experience of recent elections and which are found in this bill.

Mr. Bradley: What about election spending?

Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend, I just answered that. This bill has nothing to do with election spending.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: While this legislation is of necessity being introduced by me as a government bill, it belongs in reality to all of us in this House. In presenting it today I would like to acknowledge and thank the initiative, first, of the former chief election officer, the Clerk of the House, and the present chief election officer, Mr. Warren Bailie, who is sitting under the gallery. Each of these gentlemen contributed much and provided much in the basis and detail of this new bill.

2:20 p.m.

This legislation affects members directly as the means by which we all come to serve in this Legislature, but the election process is for all and affects all citizens. It is one of the most cherished and zealously guarded rights of our democratic society and together we have a very direct responsibility for it.

In presenting this bill today, I am not presenting the usual compendium that the rules provide for with the bill because there may be a multitude of supporting documents that all members of the House may wish. I will endeavour to supply anything that members wish as they consider this bill and the chief election officer and his staff are available to all members to provide any backup information they might wish on the bill.

We are, of course, not going to proceed with this bill before the Christmas prorogation. The winter holiday will give us all the time to read it, to have the bill considered by our associates, those we represent, our constituents, and we will have an opportunity to discuss and formulate ideas on it. It is, as I just said, a bill that belongs to all of us in this Legislature.

Mr. T. P. Reid: The bill requires a compendium.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am asking for agreement not to have a compendium and for members to supply me with requests for information they wish or talk to the chief election officer about what they feel would be necessary. By this, and through our considerations next spring when we bring the bill back for debate and consideration in this House, we can bring forward very effective reforms of the election process in this province.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Some of my friends opposite will think I am being overly technical, but the rules do provide that the minister introducing a bill shall provide a compendium. If this matter is as important as the minister has suggested, I suggest that a full compendium dealing with the bill be provided to all members. The minister cannot just waive the rules like that.

Mr. Speaker: I understood the minister to say the backup material was quite lengthy and voluminous and he will supply on request whatever material is needed.

Mr. T. P. Reid: That is not what the rules say.

Mr. Speaker: Order. If you are asking that we have unanimous consent for this provision to be waived, perhaps the government House leader would so indicate.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I will provide one copy of a compendium to each party when I introduce the bill in one hour.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you.


Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege about an issue of a very serious nature. I raised a case in the House yesterday with which you will no doubt be familiar. It is the case of the Hamilton woman by the name of Gail Cochrane who ended up on the child abuse registry following an incident that involved the conviction of another person. I would like to read into the record a statement that was made by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) in the scrum outside.

"'In charge of,' that does not mean you have to be the parent, the guardian or whatever; it means that at the particular time something was done to the child you were in the position to control the child. It is not something you did by remote control. In this particular case in Hamilton, come on, she watched."

That was a statement made by the minister outside the House in the scrum yesterday. I have here a sworn affidavit from the mother involved to the effect that she did not watch and was not privy to the situation. This is a very serious allegation. It is potentially libellous and I think it is very important that the minister should clear up the record on this with a public apology.

I also have a letter from the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to me, dated August 9, 1983, about that very case, in reply to correspondence I sent to him about the severity or lack thereof of the sentence. I would like to quote into the record the statement made by the Attorney General. "It is very doubtful that a statement made by the accused to the police would have been admissible at the trial. The four-year-old girl likely would not have testified at the trial. No one else saw the incident in question."

This letter was written to me by the Attorney General of this province on August 9. The woman is in the gallery today and I believe the minister should rise in his place and offer a public apology to Gail Cochrane and to correct the record.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I regret very much that the honourable member has identified the woman. I noticed that in Hansard yesterday.

Mr. Nixon: That is not the issue.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Do not tell me what the issue is.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Nixon: You said she watched.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am going to tell the members a little bit about this case and I really do not want to. There are an abundant number of reasons why that woman is on the child abuse registry, one of which is she was in proximity while the sexual abuse took place by her boyfriend. There are other charges and other allegations against this mother. I hope the honourable member is not going to make me read what she did to the child.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege --

Some hon. members: Shame.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Ms. Copps: This is far too important to let drop. It is quite clear, according to the statement made by the Attorney General of this province, that no one witnessed that incident. The minister libelled the woman outside this House. He owes her a public apology.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the member please resume her seat.

Ms. Copps: The Attorney General stated in his letter --

Mr. Speaker: Order. We are on statements by the ministry.


Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that earlier today the Honourable Ed Lumley and myself announced a $70-million helicopter initiative with Messerschmidt-Bulkow-Blohm, MBB, of West Germany. Under the terms of the agreement, MBB will develop and manufacture in Canada models of light twin-engine helicopters. MBB will develop this engineering capability at Fort Erie, Ontario, through a joint venture arrangement with Fleet Industries.

Ontario's share of this investment is $14 million and the federal government will contribute $20.9 million. We expect this initiative will result in the creation of approximately 270 direct jobs plus 300 indirect jobs.

Work on production of the light twin-engine helicopter will start early next year. The models offered Canada are high-performance aircraft which have a competitive advantage in certain regional and specialized applications. At the same time, development work will begin on major component improvements such as the dynamic system, not only to improve the capabilities of this helicopter but also to be utilized for other MBB helicopters produced in Germany. These components will also be incorporated into the follow-up production of helicopters at the new Canadian facility.

MBB helicopters are highly regarded internationally and the company is one of the leaders worldwide in rotor technology. Sales of the company's helicopters in 1982 were worth $260 million and have tripled since 1977. The company has the distinction of being one of the few that has not had to cut back production since the recession began in 1981.

The Fort Erie facility will be the company's first production plant in North America and will form the basis of a long-term relationship with Canada. The company will provide the necessary financial, technical and international marketing support to ensure the success of its Canadian venture.

The $34.9-million investment by the federal government and the province will be repaid by MBB in the form of a two per cent royalty on the total sales of helicopters, accessory kits and spares produced by the new company.

Let me conclude by indicating my full support for this major development in our country's aerospace industry. Ontario is very pleased to be part of MBB's first major North American manufacturing initiative and we look forward to an ongoing relationship with this important West German high-technology transportation equipment manufacturer.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. Before that, may I compliment the minister on the activities of both the federal and provincial governments with respect to that statement. That is the kind of good news we like to hear.

2:30 p.m.


Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, you might remember that on Friday last my colleague the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) rose in his place to point out to you that the annual report of the Ministry of Energy had placed his constituency in the state of New York. I gather this is being corrected.

I rise in my place today to point out that I have just received the annual report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade as part of the package for the estimates which begin tomorrow. I would draw to your attention that on page 26 of this report it is reported that for the year ending March 31, 1983, the ministry administration spent $8.7 billion, the industry division spent $18.3 billion, the trade division spent $11.7 billion, and payments to Massey-Ferguson were $75.8 billion, for a total of $115.3 billion.

Given the fact that the entire budget of Ontario is roughly $24 billion, I am really at a loss to understand how the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller) can spend $115 billion. Perhaps it would be wise to know how far this has been distributed and what action is being taken to correct it.

Mr. Speaker: Maybe the minister knows something the rest of us do not.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, one of the problems I face is that as an engineer I learned my mathematics with a slide rule. They do not have a decimal place.



Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development in the light of the important events which have been announced by him today.

It has been 13 years since mercury was discovered in the English-Wabigoon river system. It has been five years since mediation was begun in order to finally reach this settlement. It means that half a generation has lost opportunities as a result of that pollution.

The minister is aware that a steering committee was established to study the mercury pollution in the late 1970s and to look at remedial measures to lower the mercury level in the system. The minister knows the committee has not yet reported, even though that report is now two years overdue.

For the minister's information, I should also point out that the interim report of that committee stated, "The rate of decline," that is, of mercury concentration, "is now so gradual that fish in this lake are expected to continue to exceed the guidelines for human consumption for a long time, probably for many decades, unless effective remedial measures are taken."

Can the minister tell us what remedial measures are being taken and when this report on the mercury contamination of this river system is going to be tabled in the Legislature?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I believe the report is being undertaken for the Ministry of the Environment. Although I was involved with the negotiations with the Islington band in relation to the social and economic policy as we promised in 1978, and we have been negotiating with them for the past five years, I did not deal specifically with the environmental problem of the English-Wabigoon rivers. Therefore, I would direct the response to my colleague the Minister of the Environment.

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, as I think the honourable member is aware, Environment Canada along with my ministry is conducting a study of the levels of mercury pollution in the English-Wabigoon. That study should be completed very shortly.

It is a co-operative undertaking between the two levels of government and I would be pleased to release that study as soon as it is completed and available to me. I have not seen it yet. I cannot give the honourable member a confirmed date, but my understanding is that it will be soon and I hope it will be early in the new year. I shall be happy to get back to him at that time.

Mr. J. A. Reed: I thank the minister for confirming that it is now more than two years overdue and may well be even longer before we get to see that report and before any remedial measures can be taken.

In regard to the subject of unfinished business, I would ask the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development about the assumption of certain responsibilities undertaken by Great Lakes Forest Products when the company was involved in the transaction regarding Reed Ltd. I wonder if the minister would confirm with us whether the Premier (Mr. Davis) has met with the president of Great Lakes Forest Products on this matter and if there is any concern being expressed to that company about settling its obligation?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: I know the Premier did meet with the president of Great Lakes Forest Products some time ago. I do not know if he has recently met with the president.

On November 14 of this year I met with the Honourable John Munro, president of Great Lakes Forest Products, the chief officer of the Grassy Narrows band and Chief Mandamin of the Whitedog band and indicated our displeasure that an agreement had not been reached between Great Lakes Forest Products and the two bands. I must admit the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable John Munro, took the same tack and agreed with me that a settlement was long overdue.

As a result of the meeting with Mr. Munro and with the president on November 14 in Ottawa, there was a promise that they would bring forward an offer of settlement to the two bands within a month, so we are getting very close to the end of that period. I understand that in the next few days there may be some offer made to the bands from the paper company.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, can the minister confirm that Reed Ltd. has indicated it is prepared to participate in a significant way and that the holdup in terms of reaching an agreement with Great Lakes Forest Products was not, as Great Lakes tried to indicate, a result of the reticence of Reed to participate in the settlement?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm the internal dispute between the two paper companies one way or the other or say what was wrangling and what was not wrangling. All I know is that they are jointly negotiating with the Indian bands and I stated our clear displeasure. Whatever wrangling there was between the two companies should be settled between the companies. They should be dealing with the two bands and seeking a resolution.

Mr. J. A. Reed: If I understood the minister's response to me, Mr. Munro actually called on the paper company regarding this concern. I would like to ask the minister why that was so when this settlement is a provincial responsibility?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: As a matter of fact, this is not a provincial or a federal responsibility; it is a matter between the Indian bands and the paper companies. It is purely a civil matter in law between those two companies. If a settlement cannot be reached, there has been a threat of a suit by the bands against the paper companies and they will seek their remedy that way.

2:40 p.m.

The only involvement the provincial government has had was to encourage the purchase of the company by Great Lakes Forest Products from Reed Ltd. We said to Great Lakes and Reed that we would limit their liability to $15 million total from any source, be it the bands, tourist operators, any citizen of Ontario or any other citizen who would have a legitimate legal claim. That has been our only involvement and that is the way our involvement has stayed. It is entirely a matter between the bands and the paper companies.


Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of very urgent public importance: At this moment the Ontario Provincial Police are searching the homes of the leaders of the Canadian Farmers' Survival Association. I want to tell the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) that we have had a bellyful of this extortion on the part of these OPP. They are using --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Grey-Bruce, please resume your seat.


Hon. G. W. Taylor: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Speaker: Order. The Solicitor General on a point of order.

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

Mr. Speaker: We already have a member on a point of order.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, you did not recognize the point of order of the member for Grey-Bruce; how can you now allow a statement by the Solicitor General in response to something you did not recognize?

Mr. Speaker: I have no idea what the minister is going to say. Despite my many talents, as somebody said the other night, clairvoyance is not one of them.

Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I am pretty sure the member for Grey-Bruce used the word "extortion" earlier. I am sure he would like to withdraw that word in regard to the carrying out of the function of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Mr. Speaker: If the member for Grey-Bruce did use that language, I would ask him to withdraw it.

Mr. Sargent: I will check it out with my lawyers. Thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker: No. I think I am the only "lawyer" in this House who makes those decisions.

Mr. Sargent: If you want to hear the proper wording of what I wanted to say, I will tell you.

Mr. Speaker: All you have to say is, "I withdraw, Mr. Speaker."

Mr. Sargent: If you guys were in the same situation, you would do the same damned thing.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Sargent: I still think it is extortion.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Sargent: You are using the banks to collect the money for them.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the member please withdraw those remarks.

Mr. Sargent: It is no reflection on them. I am talking about the system; that is all. I will take back what I said to you, the Solicitor General and the Attorney General.

Mr. Speaker: The language is unacceptable and I would ask you to withdraw it.

Mr. Sargent: I will withdraw it.

Mr. Speaker: Now the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) is happy.


Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the government House leader, who, in introducing the package of reforms to the Election Act today, stressed the importance of adjusting the electoral process in Ontario to "the contemporary environment."

Can the government House leader indicate if, as and when he will be introducing in this House amendments to the election expenses legislation to establish, in the light of the contemporary environment, very clearly understood limits at the local level to control spending in the several electoral districts, in view of the fact that, according to the Ottawa Citizen of Monday, December 12, and according to Progressive Conservative sources, the government party is preparing to spend in excess of $100,000 in the current by-election in the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, an electoral district where federally the ceiling is a third of that alleged amount?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any immediate plans to introduce any amendments to the Election Finances Reform Act.

Mr. Conway: There are people in the far east who think it is a "buy-election," b-u-y.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: How can the government House leader expect the people of Ontario to believe he is adjusting to "a contemporary environment" if the government is not prepared, particularly in this the day, month and age of restraint, to move quickly to cap the expenditures at the local level so that we as taxpayers will not be forced to see and subsidize these six-digit amounts that are spoken of by Progressive Conservative sources in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and so that we are not asked to subsidize the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), who in the last campaign expended some $130,000 in a riding where federally the limits are much lower than that?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I feel like getting up to thank the speaker right now. If the member opposite takes a look at our Election Finances Reform Act, I think it is a better act than the federal act. We have put more stringent limits on the amount that can be contributed by corporations and individuals --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and we have brought a degree of openness to campaign financing. It is incumbent, I believe, upon each individual member to decide how much he wishes to spend on his campaign. Let me also remind my friend that we do have limits on advertising expenditures in our financing act.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, does the government House leader not feel there is something cynical in the government suddenly being prepared to lavish more than $100,000 in campaign expenditure in a riding it has effectively ignored in respect of job-creating investments or job-creating programs over the course of the last 10 years? Why does the government not get its priorities right?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I do not know where this $100,000 figure came from because --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I have not had anything to do with the financing of that by-election.

Mr. Martel: Put some limits on it.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I want the members to remember that they will know from a completely open statement, who contributed to that campaign. I draw the members' attention to the fact that we do have an open financial contribution process. We do have a limit on advertising expenditures in our act.

Mr. Martel: Why do you not put a limit on the spending?

Mr. McClellan: Put a lid on it.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, accepting regretfully, as I must, that the government House leader is prepared to allow the outrageous tax expenditure to continue with unlimited local expenditure at the riding level, will he investigate and report back to the House on the situation in regard to a number of his colleagues who are actively campaigning for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, a position we read in the press is soon to be vacated?

Can the minister indicate that the government election expenses procedure will not allow any leadership candidate to use the tax benefits provided in that act to build a multi-thousand dollar leadership war chest, as appears to be the case when one reads about the war chests of the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell) and the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman)?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses has made some very clear rulings that apply to the member's leadership campaigns, to ours and to those of the New Democratic Party, on what can and cannot be spent. I think we will all abide by those rulings.

Someone mentioned where everybody is going tonight. I seem to recall reading in a newspaper somewhere -- I cannot recall which paper -- that a certain friend of the member's will be at that dinner tonight. He is running in a riding in west Toronto called Spadina and he is spending about $750,000 to win that riding.

2:50 p.m.


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Attorney General follows the rather extraordinary exchange between the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) that most of us in the House had the misfortune to watch.

I would like to ask the Attorney General to consider the law in this question and, in particular, whether to consider having a close look at subsection 52(4) of the Child Welfare Act which, subject to two specific exceptions, subsections 52(5) and 52(10), states as follows:

"Subject to subsections 5 to 10 and notwithstanding the provisions of any other act, no person shall inspect, remove, disclose, transmit, or alter or permit the inspection, removal, disclosure, transmission or alteration of information maintained in the register established under subsection 3."

I wonder if he would look at the statements that have been made outside the House -- by the minister, by the member for Hamilton Centre and by others, as far as I am aware -- look at statements that were made in this House with respect to the identity of certain persons whose names may or may not appear on the registry in question, and inquire as to whether or not there has been a breach of the statute in this matter.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, from what the leader of the New Democratic Party has stated about the legislation, I have not heard anything that would indicate there was a breach of the statute, certainly as far as the Minister of Community and Social Services is concerned, but in view of the honourable leader's request, I will review the legislation in the context of the question that was asked.

Mr. Rae: I want to make it very clear to the Attorney General that we regard the confidentiality of that list, the lack of identity, the fact that names are withheld, names are not mentioned on the list and names of children are not dragged before the public, as absolutely sacrosanct. We understood that was the intention of the legislation and the wording of the legislation as contained in section 52.

I would ask the Attorney General, as the result of statements that have been made outside this place or inside this place, if it is now the case that someone has been identified and information with respect to the registry has been disclosed -- and "disclosure" is the exact word in the statute -- and if he would consider whether or not in the strict terms of the law there has been some kind of breach of the confidentiality requirements of the act.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I know of no one more concerned about the confidentiality of this legislation than the Minister of Community and Social Services. Given his distinguished service in this portfolio and given the fact we have discussed these matters on a number of occasions, I have no doubt that he gives the highest respect, the highest priority to what the leader of the New Democratic Party properly refers to as the importance of this confidentiality.

In view of the member's question with respect to what is purported to have been said or not said, I will review the matter and I will be prepared to offer an opinion, if that is what is being sought of the senior law officer of the crown, as to whether there has been a breach.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for York South.

Mr. Rae: No, it is a new question, Mr. Speaker. I think the Attorney General has told me what I wanted to find out.


Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I do not have the rough Hansard but I understand that in my absence a question was raised about a breach of the Child Welfare Act in consideration of the discussion. I wanted to make sure it was read into the record that this particular incident has been a matter of public record for some months.


Mr. Rae: My question is to the Treasurer, who was here. I know the delegate search is a long and difficult one for him, but I gather he was in the chamber and then he was out. Now he is in again.

Mr. Ruston: He is right there. There is Frank.

Mr. Rae: No, he is not the one. It is the new one I want. It was my understanding that the Treasurer was in the House. His book is here. Maybe he is checking the figures on Mr. Coutts; I do not know. Is he coming or not? I do have a number of questions for him.

Mr. Speaker: I do not know where the Treasurer is. Would you place your question to somebody else, please?

Mr. Rae: No. With great respect, Mr. Speaker, we are given a list of ministers who are going to be here. The Treasurer said he was going to be here and he was here earlier. The leaders' questions are not over and none of the rest of question period has taken place. If he said he was going to be here, surely he can be here.

Mr. Kolyn: Here he comes.

Mr. Martel: Is he standing up or kneeling?

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the member for York South could place his question, please.

Mr. Rae: Somehow the apple looks most appropriate on your desk today. I don't know why.

My question is to the Treasurer and it concerns his response to the announcement yesterday in Ottawa with respect to the Canada Health Act. Why is it the position of the Tory government of this province that the people of Ontario should be taxed extra, either in health care premiums or in some other tax the Treasurer intends to impose, in order to pay an extra $50 million or $60 million to a privileged few doctors who are already billing extra outside a system that has been negotiated between the government of Ontario and the medical profession? Why is he threatening to tax the people of this province with respect to extra billing?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, what we said yesterday was that we need some time to review the bill. In glancing at it initially after all the promised consultations, it appears to us that the bill has far more to do with the federal government taking yet more money out of the Ontario health care system and providing themselves with more visibility at the same time for the great things they want to tell the people they are doing.

That seems to be the thrust of the bill when we get right down to the sum and substance of it. Until we have had a chance to review the bill and consult in a true sense with all those affected by it and perhaps with the federal government, unlike what the federal government has done, we think it is premature to comment further at this time.

Mr. Rae: With great respect, the minister was not such a wilting, shrinking violet last night on television when it came to expressing the views of the government of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Rae: Why is he not prepared to be as forthright in his defence of extra billing and of the system that has grown up in this province as he was last night on television? I do not quite understand what has suddenly grabbed hold of his tongue in giving a response to a basic question.

Why has he gone around this province and made statements consistently saying he is determined to maintain the extra billing system, which is producing 11,000 claims a day on an extra billing basis in this province? Why is he threatening to tax the people of this province when we have already negotiated an arrangement with the doctors of Ontario that should satisfy every single member of the medical profession in this province who can and should he practising within a fully insured system?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: First, the defence of extra billing and the success of our system does not have to be handled by this minister. Our Minister of Health (Mr. Norton) is able to do it; he will be doing it and has been doing it.

Second, last evening when I was interviewed, I was dealing with the percentages and the reality of the claim that Monique Bégin is putting out in order to set up a real circumstance that she thinks only she can ride in and solve, where she was suggesting that extra billing has now reached crisis proportions across this country and, instead of providing more money to the health care system to solve it, she was going to provide less money.

3 p.m.

If the member watched quite carefully, the point I was making last evening was that five years ago when Mme Bégin says she first started to worry about this problem, 18 per cent of the doctors in this province had opted out and about nine or 10 per cent of all bills were extra billed. Now, when she says the problem is of monumental importance and presenting a monumental threat to the health care system, those figures have declined substantially. So now, not 18 per cent of the doctors, but 14 or 15 per cent have opted out and only four or five per cent of the bills are extra billed.

Many people are billed two and three times, or 20 or 30 times, in the course of a year if they are going to a psychiatrist, for example. The actual number of people in this province who are being extra billed is probably in the area of three or four per cent. That is significantly better and significantly fewer in terms of the number of people affected than was the case five years ago.

The point I was making was that as we come up to the next federal election, the federal government wishes to hold up this brand new spectre of a sudden threat to the health care system. The only significant changes to the health care system in the past five years have been as follows: (1) significantly less opting out and extra billing; (2) a far greater, far better funded Ontario health care system than was the case five years ago; (3) the majority of that funding has been provided not by the federal government but only by the taxpayers of Ontario; and (4) during that five-year period the contribution made by the federal government of Canada, which is now wringing its hands over the health care system, has declined from 49 per cent support to 41 per cent support in Ontario.

That is the travesty and the sham they are putting up to help their chances at the polls next year.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister knows full well that the problem with extra billing is not so much the total number, or percentages, but the selective opting out by certain specialists. We heard horror stories about this all last fall and over the past couple of years. Surely the minister knows that is basically the problem.

Why does the minister not show some leadership? If the health plan of this province requires additional funds, why does he not show some leadership, pump more funds into the plan and not leave it up to doctors to decide who should put in more money in the plan, and which patient should pay and which patient should not?

Once the minister has negotiated an agreement with the doctors, as he did a year or two ago, why would he not have sufficient guts to say to them: "You have made an agreement; you are within the plan. Those of you who want to get out of the plan or extra bill are completely out of the plan"?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the system the honourable member describes is the one favoured by the federal government of Canada. If he reads yesterday's statement in full, he will find it would do what he has described, which in essence is to try to bring to Ontario the kind of medicare plan they now have in Quebec. The federal government is trying to force the Quebec model on Ontario and the other provinces.

The Quebec plan has had very predictable consequences over the past few years: one of them is that a number of very fine specialists who used to practise in Quebec are now practising in Ontario.

When the member goes home this weekend, I challenge him to ask people just across the border which province they feel has the better health care plan, the more accessible plan and the more comprehensive plan. The answer invariably will be the Ontario plan and not the Quebec plan. Yet the federal government wants to say, and I take it the member supports what it is doing, that everyone in this country will be better served if only it can bring the Quebec medicare plan to the rest of the public.

Mr. Roy: That is not what we are saying.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member is saying that.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, last night the minister stated again, as he has in the past, that the only people who are extra billed are those who can afford it, the rich in this province. How can the minister make that silly statement when the fact of the matter is that many cases involving extra billing of people who are retired and on pensions, such as Mr. Sikkes from Guelph, Mr. Spencer from Windsor, a Willowdale man and another Guelph man, have been brought to the attention of this Legislature?

How can the minister continue to make the statement that only the rich are being extra billed when the facts of the matter are that it is not just the rich; it is people on fixed and low incomes? The only way they can get opted-in rates is to beg for charity medicine. Is that the kind of system the minister endorses?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has been through this many times before, but let us put this in perspective. There are 60 million claims a year going through the Ontario health insurance plan. Three or four per cent of the public is extra billed. Thanks to a regulation brought in by this government last year, every person receiving extra billed services has to have prior notification. I think that equips those people to make the proper judgement of whether they can afford to pay that extra billed amount.

Let me be clear. Unlike the members of the New Democratic Party, we do have some confidence in the medical profession not to bill those who have notified them that they cannot afford to pay. I do believe that system can and does work well, although there will be cases where judgement will not be as I would like to see it. However, for the federal government to say to the taxpayers of Ontario, because of the few times a year when there will be a problem with the system, "We, the federal government, are now going to take $60 million out of your health care plan" is the height of carelessness and the kind of unfair, over-reactive, politically based reaction we have become used to.

Let me say one other thing. Since Monique Bégin has said quite clearly that she believes doctors across Canada perhaps will have to be compensated over and above the current compensation plan if they are to be opted in, then the necessary consequence is that if there is not extra billing, every resident of Ontario will have to pay that extra amount. How do they pay it? They pay it through retail sales tax, personal income tax and all the other taxes they pay in this province.

The very people the member is concerned about, those on fixed incomes and in the low-income bracket, will be the recipients of the federal government's plan saying, "Let us move it away from three or four per cent of the people at the top end and move the tax load to those people." If the member defends that --

Mr. Speaker: Order. Thank you.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. First, let me say that my initial reaction to the appointment of Clayton Switzer, a man with an agricultural background, as the new deputy minister is favourable.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Riddell: My question is to the minister following his reply to us last week concerning the receivership of Niagara Grain and Feed Ltd., an elevator company in Smithville, which has left more than 85 producers uncertain of their financial future.

Now that ministry officials have done a further investigation of the amount of grain in storage, will the minister confirm information we gave him last week that some 35 per cent of the corn is missing from the elevators? Do his records indicate, as ours do, that while only 2,500 metric tons of corn are accounted for, there are farmers who hold corn receipts for 1,832.5 metric tons, there are other farmers who hold way tickets for corn in the grain bank for 2,004 tons and there are some 1,400 metric tons unaccounted for?

Will the minister also confirm the information we have received that the corn has been missing from the first week of November, when the chief inspector was first notified of this matter?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the investigation is not completed. In particular, the process the chief inspector, Mr. Taylor, is going through to verify the way tickets is not completed. The last time I spoke with him, late last week, I understood he was working towards having that completed by this Friday; that was his hope.

I can say that following up on a statement which I believe the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) made last week regarding a conversation that a gentleman -- I cannot recall his name -- had with Mr. Taylor --

Mr. Riddell: He is going to have a supplementary.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I rather suspected he might. Mr. Taylor has confirmed that on the date the gentleman called him -- that date, I believe, was November 9 -- there was sufficient grain in the elevator.

Quite frankly, I think we do no one any service by perpetuating or starting any more rumours; there are more than enough now surrounding this situation. As I have said repeatedly, when all the information is in, I will be more than happy to share that information with the members and with the public, to get to the bottom of it.

3:10 p.m.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, under the Grain Elevator Storage Act, the minister has the authority and the duty to appoint a chief inspector and such other inspectors as he considers necessary to enforce the act.

Can the minister tell us why he only has one full-time chief inspector and one part-time inspector to inspect some 280 elevators licensed under the act? Does he feel it offers producers sufficient protection to have one person to try to visit these elevators? When we work this out, it is less than one day per elevator per year. In addition, the inspection he carries out is only a book inspection when what is really required is for someone to climb up and ascertain whether or not there is grain in those silos.

Would the minister not agree that this horse-and-buggy system is out of whack and should be corrected very soon to guard those other elevators which, a lot of us fear, are perhaps vulnerable today?

Finally, can we have the minister's assurance that his government will guarantee payment to both the people in the grain bank and the people who have storage receipts? Also, will the storage be released very shortly to these farmers?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in answer to those five or six questions, it has been the experience of the ministry to date that Mr. Taylor, acting in his role as chief inspector and assisted from time to time by a part-time inspector, has been able to quite ably carry out the responsibilities that are incumbent on him under the act.

Mr. Kerrio: How can you say that?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Unless we are going to have an inspector at every one of the 280-odd elevators overseeing every transaction, obviously we have to operate under a system whereby the inspector follows up on complaints and evidence of any alleged or verified wrongdoing.

It still keeps coming back to the fact that when we are talking about a licensing system, at least in the agricultural field, the only way we are ultimately going to have a complete protection package is with rigorous licensing and a financial protection fund contributed to by the producers and possibly by processors or the other part of the industry. That is the only way we can have a complete protection plan. Otherwise, if we have strictly a licensing system, there is no way we can guarantee that the records reviewed in one month will not have changed six months later because of any number of factors that can impact on a company. So we really do need both parts.

Mr. Riddell: You will not even see that the new act is proclaimed. What about proclaiming the act?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister will confirm that cheques worth something like one third of a million dollars issued by Niagara Grain and Feed Ltd. have now bounced. These cheques were for grain that was purchased and is no longer anywhere near the elevator and is in addition to this shortfall in the grain that was stored.

I also wonder whether the minister will confirm that his own lawyers are now starting to admit that had the amendments to the Grain Elevator Storage Act been in effect, as they would have been if it had not been for his negligence, there would have been far superior protection for those farmers who had agreements for sale; there are numbers of them.

Will the minister also confirm there is growing evidence that the Bank of Montreal knew about what was taking place at least, perhaps even directing it for weeks or months before the bankruptcy or the insolvency? The bank may well have been a party.

Will the minister also confirm there is growing evidence that the Bank of Montreal knew about what was taking place at least, perhaps even directing it for weeks or months before the bankruptcy or the insolvency? The bank may well have been a party to the selling of grain that had never been paid for.

If these facts are correct, will he not agree that it is his government and the Bank of Montreal that should be left holding that empty bag and not the farmers who sold their grain through this elevator company?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week, all the rumours, including some perhaps begun by the honourable member, are being checked out.

Mr. Swart: The minister is so far out of touch.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Is the member interested in the answer or not? He can sit there and chew away.

We have had several meetings at very senior levels with the bank to ascertain the facts about its role with respect to this company. My staff is working on a daily basis with the receiver in question. I have already told the member that once we have all the facts, we will be more than happy to share them. Obviously, we want as much as anybody to get to the bottom of this.

I remind the member that the legislation in question, both the existing statute and the revised statute, which will be proclaimed when the regulations are completed, do not, never have and will not cover grain that is not in storage. I cannot confirm at this point how many people have not-sufficient-funds cheques, and I cannot confirm the quantum of those cheques, but I can confirm that those transactions where there is a direct sale to a grain elevator have never been covered by the legislation.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: The minister stated over and over again on the introduction of this bill that the farmers would own the grain until they received the money.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of privilege.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I think the member is trying to leave an impression that is not correct. The act deals with grain in storage, and the principle in question covers grain in storage.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is hardly a point of privilege.


Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware of the rather bizarre actions of the chairman in the region of Durham, Gary Herrema, who last week engaged in what some in town are calling a little bit of spying on the poor and unemployed? He disguised himself somewhat, sat around the social services offices for an hour and then promptly went out and had an interview with the Oshawa Times where he declared that most of the young people there really do not want to work, that welfare is too easy and that we should stop that by making longer lineups. Is he aware of those rather bizarre actions on the part of the chairman?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I saw something in the newspaper about that.

Mr. Breaugh: The union involved is rather concerned that if one of their members had done this he probably would have been fired, or some disciplinary action would have been taken, because the General Welfare Assistance Act requires some confidentiality. Is the minister satisfied that the chief executive officer in the region of Durham feels quite free to sit around and listen to gossip for about an hour in the social services department and then report publicly that most of the people do not want work and that welfare is too easy and they should not get it? Is he happy with that situation?

3:20 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am never happy when attitudinal responses to very important questions such as social assistance are conveyed as universal tenets. I do not understand how any member of the union could be charged for doing what the regional chairman did, because no names were used -- at least in what I read -- and no personal data or so forth were revealed. It was about the equivalent of a regional chairman going into a Canada Employment and Immigration office and asking attitudinal responses about work.

Mr. Cureatz: Mr. Speaker, does the minister feel assured that the chairman did not contravene any legislation in the method in which he attended the welfare office?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I do not know of any legislation that prevents anybody from walking into a social assistance office and sitting there. The act and its confidentiality pertain to the revelation of details of personal data, family background and so forth. If somebody wants to go around and seek out how somebody feels today, that is his prerogative, especially when, as I understand it, he did not make any recommendations concerning whether there was eligibility or not.


Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Attorney General and it involves a case that is of very great concern in the Ottawa-Carleton area, the unfortunate death of a young man by the name of Jason Verdon and the subsequent sentence of an individual by the name of Dionne to two years in jail.

The Attorney General will recall that Dionne was originally charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Jason Verdon and was subsequently discharged after a very lengthy preliminary hearing. The crown at that time undertook to prefer an indictment and subsequently the matter was apparently resolved when a charge of criminal negligence was laid. Dionne pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to two years less a day.

Can the Attorney General confirm that the decision to appeal this sentence was made by him? Can he give the House assurances that he did not launch this appeal as a result of community pressure from the city of Ottawa and, more specifically, a petition, apparently by the mother, of some 3,000 names?

Second, can the Attorney General assure the House that in launching this appeal he is not in breach of any agreement or undertaking on the part of his crown attorney in Ottawa, who apparently, according to defence counsel, had not objected and, in fact, is quoted as saying on sentence that the sentence of two years was not unreasonable?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the appeal was launched after a lengthy discussion with the Deputy Attorney General and the director of the criminal law division of the ministry, who felt that an appeal was appropriate in the circumstances, and not as a result of any community pressure. I am satisfied that no commitment was made by the crown attorney in relation to a sentence of two years. As a matter of fact, I have seen some correspondence to the contrary.

Mr. Roy: I know personally all of the people involved in this case, defence counsel Mr. Scott Milloy and Mr. Bill Carroll, and the crown attorney Mr. Mac Lindsay. They are all very honourable people. But defence counsel is quoted as saying after the appeal was launched, "In 14 years of practising criminal law I have never had a trick like this played on me." He goes on to say, "Lindsay," apparently the crown attorney, "had given an oral undertaking not to appeal the two-year sentence." These are the quotes from defence counsel.

Can the Attorney General advise whether in launching this appeal in these circumstances there is not some possibility that he will undermine the discussions between crown and defence counsel, which, as he knows, in the administration of criminal justice at least, are a very important factor? If the principle of free discussion is undermined, then the whole administration of justice could be jeopardized.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The statements attributed to the defence counsel that were read by the member for Ottawa East are certainly consistent with what I have read, but these allegations are quite inconsistent with the facts as given to me. The information I have is that there was no such undertaking.

While I regret there is this difference of opinion between the defence counsel and the crown attorney, I do not think for a moment that a difference of opinion in this particular case is going to undermine the administration of justice in this province.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, will the Attorney General undertake to report back to this House on the question of whether this plea bargaining which takes place in the courts of Ontario goes so far as plea bargaining over the actual form or length of the sentence? I think the public would be extremely disturbed if it was the position of the crown attorneys that not only were they prepared to plea bargain over which offence the accused would plead guilty to but also over how long the sentence would be.

Can we have an assurance there is not that kind of plea bargaining taking place and that will not be the position of crown attorneys in the future?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the plea discussions that take place often do revolve around what is in the public interest. As far as the position of the crown attorney is concerned, it is very clear in the instructions laid down over the years, not just by myself but by my predecessors, that any discussions and any agreement that might be reached must be in the public interest.

Certainly the appropriateness of a certain term of sentence is discussed from time to time but it should be understood that while a crown attorney in a particular case may say that in his or her view a sentence or a particular range of sentence would be appropriate, the trial judge is in no way bound by the submissions of crown counsel or defence counsel and indeed must come to his own independent conclusion as to what is the appropriate sentence.


Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister is no doubt aware of the stated intention of Mr. Caccia, the federal Minister of the Environment, to announce some time in January a program for the phasing out of the use of lead in gasoline. Can the minister confirm the existence of an interministerial committee or task force in the ministries of the Environment, Health and Labour which has been set up to look at the question of lead and lead emissions from gasoline?

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe Mr. Caccia or the people at Environment Canada have indicated arbitrarily that they are going to phase out lead in gasoline completely. I think what they have indicated is there is a possibility of a complete and total phase-out. There is also a possibility of a reduction in lead in gasoline that may be the equivalent of the United States standard, so there is no assurance at this point that lead in gas is going to be completely phased out.

On the second part of the question, there is an interministerial task force which is looking at appropriate levels and that is the case not only with respect to lead in gas but other contaminants as well. In the ministries he mentioned, they do look at those questions and lead in gas is one of them.

Mr. Charlton: Why does the minister not announce when he has an interministerial task force looking at questions like this so that interested parties out there in the research community and the public at large can have contact with that task force and perhaps even have some input with it?

Also, can he explain why a memo was sent in July this year to the deputy ministers of the Environment, Health and Labour suggesting the study which this task force is doing should provide reassurance that the health of children in Ontario is not at undue risk as a consequence of ongoing use of lead in gasoline, when we know the lead is causing problems and it is a matter of reduction, if not total elimination?

3:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Brandt: I am not familiar with the specific memo the honourable member is referring to, but I can say with respect to the question of lead in gas that it is not the only source from which lead is ingested into the body, as I am sure the member is aware. There are other mechanisms by which lead can be transferred and one of them is through the food chain by the use of food from cans, as an example. It is estimated that somewhere in the order of 70 per cent of all lead in the human body is ingested by way of the food chain rather than by way of lead in gas.

The case is not quite so well defined and so assured as the member would suggest with respect to lead in gas. The issue is being looked at very carefully by the federal government. It is a federal issue, not a provincial issue. We have provided the federal government with the information we have available to us, the studies and resources we have, in order to assist with coming to an appropriate conclusion on the question, but it is a federal matter and is being addressed by Mr. Caccia at that level of government.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I wish to say that I share the member's concern about children's health. Is the minister aware there are other ways of reducing the octane number of gasoline other than lead? The principal way is by using an alcohol mixture along with gasoline. This movement is alive and well in the United States. They are selling gasohol over there and manufacturing alcohol for that purpose.

The time is just perfect for that as the payment in kind program, the acreage reduction program, comes off in the United States. As they come back into full production in grains for next year there is going to be ample grain available to produce that alcohol to solve the problem of children's health, the problem of octane rating and the problem of surplus corn stocks. There is a role in this for Ontario. Is the minister aware of this?

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Yes, I am, Mr. Speaker. I say to the member that there are a number of other additives that could be used to substitute for lead in gas and we are aware of those as well; benzine being one. The concern on the part of the Ministry of the Environment is that some of those additives could be even more hazardous than lead in gas. Before any of those additives are considered by way --

Mr. J. A. Reed: Hazardous? Alcohol?

Hon. Mr. Brandt: I did not say the one he mentioned. I said some of the additives that could be considered are more hazardous than lead in gas. We would like to know what the alternative would be before we would approve of it. We are looking at the lead in gas question, yes.



Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights --

Mr. Foulds: You are going to vote against it on third reading tonight, are you not?

Mr. Mitchell: I, none the less, have the right to introduce the petition no matter what my position is.

Sorry for the interruption, Mr. Speaker.

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a number of petitions to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

Mr. McEwen: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 21 teachers from North Addington Education Centre. The petition reads:

"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."



Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. McMurtry, first reading of Bill 153, An Act to revise the Election Act.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Philip moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 154, An Act to amend the Game and Fish Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, this bill bans the use of leghold traps on land. The bill has the support of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Ontario Humane Society, the Canadian Association for Humane Trapping, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Greenpeace and a number of other animal welfare groups.

The major concepts of the bill have also met with the support of various trappers who consider these approaches moderate.


Mr. Cassidy moved, seconded by Mr. Foulds, first reading of Bill 155, An Act respecting Technological Change.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, this bill responds to the needs of Ontario workers in the total absence of legislative protection in Ontario. It is, in fact, the first legislation dealing with technological change in Ontario.

3:40 p.m.

Legislation is needed because of the enormous impact that new technologies are having and will have on work in Ontario. While these new technologies promise enormous increases in productivity and competitiveness, they also have the potential to deskill workers, to dehumanize their work and to throw hundreds of thousands of Ontarians out of work.

Less than 20 per cent of Ontario workers have any protection against technological change through their collective agreements. The rest are now defenceless when it comes to making decisions about how technological change will affect their jobs.

The aim of this bill, therefore, is to allow both unorganized and organized workers to participate in managing the introduction of new equipment, new materials or new processes that would significantly affect job security or the way their work is carried out.

I believe workers are prepared to co-operate in adapting to technological change if their needs are respected. But workers have made almost no progress in the past few years in getting this protection through their collective agreements, and in the bargaining climate of the 1980s little more success can be expected through that route. That is why legislative action is both urgent and important in Ontario.

I want to pay my thanks to Cornelia Schuh of the legislative counsel's office for assistance in drafting this bill which, among other things, is the first bill to be presented in the Ontario Legislature in both official languages.

Ce projet de loi répond aux besoins des travailleurs ontariens, afin de combler un vide laissé par l'absence totale de protection législative dans ce domaine en Ontario. C'est la première fois qu'un projet de loi a été déposé dans cette Chambre dans les deux langues officielles du Canada.

Une loi est nécessaire en raison des répercussions considérables que les technologies de pointe continueront d'avoir sur le travail en Ontario. Les technologies de pointe annoncent une augmentation phénoménale de la productivité et de la compétitivité, mais elles risquent toutefois de rendre inutiles les compétences des travailleurs, de déshumaniser le travail et d'entraîner la mise à pied de centaines de milliers d'Ontariens de plus.

Moins de 20 pour cent des travailleurs ontariens sont protégés, dans leur convention collective, contre les changements technologiques. Les autres sont sans défense lorsqu'il est question de prendre des décisions qui entraînent des changements technologiques qui influent sur leurs emplois.

Ce projet de loi vise à permettre aux travailleurs, syndiqués ou non syndiqués, de participer à la gestion de l'introduction du matériel, des matériaux ou des procédés nouveaux qui influeront sensiblement sur la sécurité d'emploi ou les méthodes de travail.

Je crois que les travailleurs sont prêts à coopérer et à s'adapter aux changements technologiques si on respecte leurs besoins. Mais ces dernières années, les travailleurs n'ont presque pas fait de progrès pour ce qui est d'inclure dans leurs contrats des clauses qui les protègent contre les changements technologiques. Vu le climat des années 1980, on ne peut guère s'attendre à plus de succès à l'avenir. C'est pourquoi il est impératif d'adopter sans délai des mesures législatives dans ce domaine en Ontario. Merci beaucoup.



Mr. Newman moved second reading of Bill Pr13, An Act to incorporate Heritage Windsor.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Hon. Mr. Eaton moved, on behalf of Mr. Roy, second reading of Bill Pr43, An Act respecting Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Robinson moved, on behalf of Mr. Gillies, second reading of Bill Pr48, An Act respecting the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Ruston moved, on behalf of Mr. Mancini, second reading of Bill Pr50, An Act respecting the Town of Harrow.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Williams moved second reading of Bill Pr54, An Act respecting the Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre (Hungarian House).

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Robinson moved second reading of Bill Pr56, An Act respecting the Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 139, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal Party will be supporting this amendment to the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. It is the product of a great deal of co-operation not only from the trucking industry and the Ontario Trucking Association, but also from the Ontario division of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and other interested parties. A great deal of work was done within the regulation section of the ministry itself.

This has been an ongoing -- I was going to say controversial -- process, particularly since the tabling of the select committee report in 1976. Very simply, this process will allow us to rewrite the myriad licences existing within the province. This will add a great deal of clarity to the process. It will be a fundamental and basic aspect of the act once it is completed.

3:50 p.m.

It is a great step towards what I would call reregulation as opposed to deregulation which, we hope, will not only be fair to the people who have licences but which, once the entire process is complete, should create the legislative framework that will permit people who are interested in participating and applying for licences to obtain them through the regular process.

As we contemplate the selection of a subcommittee or commission not only to draft the regulations, but to be involved in the licence rewriting process itself, I would only say we seek a commitment from the individuals involved that they will see this project through to finality.

I would conclude by commending those who have been involved, both the individuals who were part of the responsible trucking program and, more particularly, the people within the ministry who have worked extremely hard to bring this legislation before us today. This is only the initial step in this process. Of course, there will be a requirement for further legislative changes, but I believe that when these become a reality, they will be an integral step to improving regulated transportation within Ontario.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, let me state even more briefly than my colleague that we in this party will support the bill. We support the overall thrust towards modernization and simplification of the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. This bill will begin that process. Naturally, we look forward next year with great interest to the actual legislation the minister intends to introduce. Since this bill will begin a process we support, we will wholeheartedly join in supporting this bill.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments. This is certainly a first, but a major step in the ongoing process of reregulating the truck transportation industry in Ontario. This bill will allow us to proceed with the process of rewriting the many hundreds and thousands of licences in the province in preparation for the next stage of the legislation, which I hope to bring before the House about a year from now or perhaps a little earlier.

With regard to the comments dealing with the rewrite committee I will be appointing, I understand what the honourable member is saying and his concerns. I will certainly discuss the ongoing process with those who accept this responsibility. I do not know for sure who they are going to be at this moment. Although I do not believe it will be possible to get a total commitment, a hell-or-high-water sort of thing, they will be there for the period of time that will be necessary. It is not our intention to appoint someone who we anticipate may be leaving soon.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for third reading.


Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 117, An Act to amend the Telephone Act.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party will be supporting this amendment to the act. Rumours were out some time ago that we were going to have a completely new act. In the absence of that, this amendment is well conceived. In my view, it will assist the 30 or 31 independent investor-owned, municipally owned or subscriber-owned telephone utilities across Ontario to raise rates to accommodate the improvement and modernization of existing equipment.

Given our restraint program, it would be my hope that the rates in question would not be excessive, at least during the period of the program. That would only undermine the broad base of support we have for restraint in Ontario at this time. I hope it would be only under extraordinary circumstances that we would have any radical form of tariff increase in telephone rates in the province. I am mindful that this is done only by an application to the commission itself and the commission has to determine whether or not there is a valid reason for such an increase.

I believe the increased income that these investor-owned, municipality owned or subscriber-owned utilities will obtain should accommodate the changes that for many of these utilities are quite frankly very long overdue. Members may not be aware, but in a number of the utilities the subscriber is sometimes required to participate with eight or 10 other parties on a party line. In 1983 that really is a little bit more than an individual, family or business should be required to accept.

Not that long ago in my own constituency, a small part of Ancaster had what we would regard to be substandard service. This was improved as that area was taken over by Bell Canada and the service has improved quite significantly.

In conclusion, we will be supporting the legislation and we see no reason why it need go to committee.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, even more briefly than my colleague I would like to say we will support the bill on this side. It will expedite the modernization of the smaller telephone systems in the province. I would also like to express the same concern as my colleague the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) did. We would be worried about any sizeable increases that are not in keeping with the general guidelines of what is conceived of as restraint in the province.

Increases are obviously inevitable if people expect to have modern services and facilities. Especially in a subscriber-owned system, that has to be paid for in the most obvious of ways, but we would hope some spirit of restraint would also apply to those who may initiate any such increases. Beyond that we will support the bill because we think the modernization process is what is needed.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments. I assure them that any increases in rates by what I call the private telephone companies -- some are privately owned, some municipally owned and some subscriber-owned -- are subject to an application to the Ontario Telephone Service Commission which takes into consideration the guidelines of the restraint legislation in establishing any rate increases.

This bill amends the Telephone Act, which has not been amended for many years, and provides updating to keep the act current with the present situation in the telecommunications industry. Many of the companies, especially the subscriber-owned companies, would like to upgrade their service and reduce the number of people on their party lines. They may very well now be applying for some rate increases beyond the normal cost of the increase of doing business, to allow them to have the necessary funds to invest in turning the money back to the subscribers in an improved level of service.

This bill has been anxiously awaited by the Ontario Telephone Association, which represents the 31 private or independent companies, and they will be very pleased with the passage of this bill.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for third reading.

Mr. Samis: On a point of information, Mr. Speaker: Can you tell me whether the extreme pleasure being exhibited by the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) is one that can be shared by all members of this House?


Mr. Breaugh: Oh, oral gratification. Is oral gratification allowed in the Legislature? We are not sure.

Mr. Conway: This used to be a family show.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

4 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Gregory moved second reading of Bill 144, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, this bill will amend the Retail Sales Tax Act to extend the delivery deadline for furniture and appliances otherwise qualifying for the temporary sales tax holiday introduced in the most recent budget.

Under this program, purchases of designated household furniture and appliances made prior to August 9, 1983, were exempt from tax, provided the items were delivered by November 7, 1983. However, the very success of the program made it difficult for manufacturers to obtain the raw material inputs necessary to meet the deadline. This bill will ensure the full success of the program by extending the delivery deadline to December 31, 1983.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, this bill is, of course, good for business. We realize the manufacturers could not get their products out in time; so we will support the bill. It does give initiatives for added sales. Just in passing, I might say that if I had held off on some of my purchases last spring, I could have saved $300 in taxes paid to the minister. However, that is one of the breaks with his type of taxation.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we will support the bill, naturally. It is one of our favourite sports to postpone taxation until the very latest date possible. I did want to make a couple of comments on this process, because it is not the first time this has happened.

I seem to recall saying in the course of debating the original bill that the government should take a slightly better look at what it is doing here, because it would not be possible for people on showroom floors to provide consumers with the goods that were exempted under this bill. It seems to me the government would have been wise at that time to listen to opposition members who said, "It is not a bad idea, but you have put it in a format that will be difficult to implement."

I seem to recall that this is about the fourth or fifth time I have looked at this same concept -- not all in this one budget, but expressed before -- where a Treasurer said certain goods would be exempt from taxation for a brief period. We have repeatedly tried to get the government to look at the ramifications and to examine more closely exactly what will happen on the showroom floors and in the dealerships when there is an exemption of this nature.

From our point of view, the importance is, first, to recognize that the government is seeking a little political favour from the public by exempting certain taxes for certain time periods and, second, when it does that, it has a reasonable obligation to have a pretty clear idea about delivery dates, about supply and exactly whether what it is purporting to do can happen.

We are pleased to support the extension of this particular exemption, but I am going to say "I told you so," because I did. I am going to remind the government next year, when there is some little goodie in the budget -- usually the sales tax is the favourite technique used -- exempting sales tax for a certain period of time, to get clued in and to look at the ramifications of such an exemption before announcing the legislation. Then we could take the bill and process it through the Legislature once, instead of having to do it two or three times.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to address myself to Bill 144, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act. I support the principle of the bill defining the last date upon which the sales tax will be exempt under the act. I am a little concerned about why the minister wants to withdraw the tax break at all and to go back to adding the seven per cent sales tax on furniture, appliances, rugs, carpets, floor coverings, drapes, blinds and so forth.

I am concerned that our economy has still not turned around as it should today. Jobs are still scarce and a great number of people in Ontario are still unemployed. There is every indication that the action taken by the ministry has created jobs in the economy; consumers have put confidence back into the economy by purchasing these goods.

As more people are purchasing new homes today, with the sales taxes and the federal taxes on the homes, surely he should give some consideration to holding back on that sales tax for another year to give further confidence to consumers that it is going to turn the economy around and that jobs are going to be there. I suggest the home goods manufacturing areas, appliances, etc., are still looking to call back persons in the industry so we can almost get back to full employment.

This is one of the problems I find with this government. It seems in the past four, five or six years it has added taxes on to almost everything it could put them on. I guess it forgot the dog tax, for example, but the increase in personal income tax and the ad valorem tax brought additional revenue. We have seen the sin tax -- the alcohol tax -- and the increase in that area.

I do not think this government is really concerned about turning the economy around when it continues to add taxes on furniture, home furnishings and so forth. If the minister is really sincere about creating jobs, this is one area where the tax should be removed for another year. It would give the economy a chance to a turn around and jobs would be created. Slapping this tax on again after January 1 is only going to slow down the economy.

I think the minister is well aware that in many cases we in Ontario are overtaxed as it is. Maybe there are other areas where the government should be looking at tax increases or additional areas of taxes.

I mentioned not long ago the number of American trucks that are using our highways in Ontario and which contribute little in taxes to maintain those roads. That is one area to which the minister should be giving some consideration. Perhaps we should consider a user fee as we look at more deregulation by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications allowing trucks to come from all across the United States into Ontario, bringing nothing in the way of taxes to maintain those roads.

It is time the minister started giving the people of Ontario a break in this area, by extending the retail sales tax exemption for another year. I bring that to the minister's attention.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), who supported this bill without any qualification whatsoever. He was wise enough, as opposed to the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), to realize this exemption has long since gone. It was up on August 9. He must know the tax holiday does not apply. What we are talking about here is the delivery date; that is all. Extending this does not cost any more money. There are no additional tax exemptions.

Mr. Breaugh: We know how cheap you are.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Yes. I would like to congratulate the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) for his foresight. I will accept the "I told you so." It must be nice for him to feel he has finally got one right.

An hon. member: Hindsight is marvellous.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Hindsight is marvellous; 20-20 vision.

I thank the members for their support of the bill. I do not think there is much more I can say. It is a simple but necessary bill and does fulfil a great need.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, if I left the impression with the minister that I do not understand the bill, what I was trying to convey to him was that the tax should be exempted for another year.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. There are no provisions in the rules --

Mr. Haggerty: There is no provision in the bill. I want to see jobs created in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member is out of order.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for third reading.

4:10 p.m.


Mr. Rotenberg moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, second reading of Bill 145, An Act to amend the Planning Act, 1983.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, in drafting the transitional provisions contained in section 74 of the new Planning Act, which we finalized at the beginning of this year, the principle was followed that where the first formal step had been taken in any proceeding before the effective date of the new act, which was August 1, 1983, such proceedings should continue and be concluded under the old act.

It is now apparent that these transitional provisions are being interpreted in a different light from what was originally intended. Specifically, a recent Ontario Municipal Board decision was made against a municipality that has made it most important to clarify the intent of these transitional provisions.

To prevent possible litigation and the questioning of actions taken by municipalities and of the validity of resulting bylaws and official plan amendments, the bill before the House today repeals the provisions in the Planning Act to determine when an application to amend a zoning bylaw or an official plan was made, and thus which act it can be processed under, and replaces them with a new provision that gives municipalities the choice of processing requests to amend an official plan or application to amend a zoning bylaw under either the former act or the new act, except in situations where a council refuses the request or fails to act on it, in which case the request must be proceeded with under the old act.

In moving this bill, I am anxious to ensure that the validity of municipal actions is protected and unnecessary litigation is prevented.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, as the parliamentary assistant probably knows, we are going to support the bill. It is very clear that the legislation has to be clarified. Obviously, from the standpoint of the legislation, the OMB has erred in its judgment, and to clarify it for the OMB and for the municipalities across the province, the legislation must be amended; so we obviously will support it.

My only question to the parliamentary assistant is whether any other municipalities are currently affected by the present legislation. We know that Peterborough, the good area that the Speaker represents but unfortunately cannot speak for here because of his privileged position, is affected. I just wonder how many other municipalities across the province have run into a similar snag as far as the present legislation is concerned.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we too are pleased to support Bill 145. It is an amazing little piece of business, actually, because this is the second piece of legislation in a row where the Legislature is being asked within a year to patch up some screwup on the part of the government. That is a rather amazing thing to have happen to a group of people who purport to be great managers, the only people who know how to run Ontario. Yet here we are, in the last week of the Legislature, supposedly, doing two bills back to back where government screwups have occurred. We pass a bill in the spring of the year and we have to fix it up again in December, and it strikes me that there is a lesson for the people of Ontario in this.

One other thing is amazing about Bill 145. I received a letter from the city of Peterborough pointing out their problems with a decision of the Ontario Municipal Board in the early part of last week. I called them and said: "We seem to have agreement on this. It should not be a difficult matter to repair, in legislative terms, and it should not be a long, complicated argument, either. But it is rather doubtful that you are going to get the government of Ontario to (a) put together a piece of legislation before the end of the session or (b) get this matter on the order paper and deal with it."

I must say I am pleasantly surprised that the government defied its previous track record in preparing legislation, particularly when I think of debates we had here last evening, where it took the government of Ontario the better part of two years, and sometimes more, to respond to a request from a municipality. It does seem to me to be unusual that this afternoon they were able to muster a response in less than 10 days.


Mr. Breaugh: I do not know. I think they are having hot flashes or something over there which make them turn to action every once in a while.

At any rate we are happy to support this proposal, which we hope will resolve an impasse that has occurred and has caused a problem for the city of Peterborough. If our discussions during the estimates debate the other evening are of any recourse, the minister assured me this legislation would also resolve any other disputes that might occur around this type of decision by the Ontario Municipal Board.

I do hope this second patch-up of the Planning Act in one year will be sufficient to carry us through at least until the spring session. Perhaps then we will be back again with further foul-ups on the part of the government. At any rate, we are pleased to bail them out this afternoon.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for their support, although maybe not the way it was given by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).

Very briefly, to respond to the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), we know of no other municipalities that have a problem at the moment. However, at least four other municipalities have bylaws pending before the OMB on the same basis as Peterborough went. If we do not pass this legislation, they may run afoul of the OMB; so by passing this, we will make sure they have smooth passage on a procedural matter at the OMB.

I would indicate to the member for Oshawa it was not a government foul-up. We felt the legislation was reasonable, but as the member for Waterloo North has said, it was the Ontario Municipal Board whose interpretation was not quite the same as ours --

Mr. Breaugh: The OMB redrafted the Planning Act.

Mr. Rotenberg: The OMB, with respect, interpret it differently from the way we feel it should be interpreted. Rather than take this matter to a court or have it resolved in some lengthy manner, this very simple amendment to the act does solve a problem and puts everybody on side.

I thank the honourable members for their co-operation. It does show, as the member for Oshawa says, that when there are problems the government can act quickly and properly to satisfy everyone.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for third reading.


Mr. Rotenberg moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, second reading of Bill 147, An Act to amend the Building Code Act.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, this Building Code Amendment Act will significantly increase the flexibility by which the renovation of existing residential buildings and the conversion of nonresidential buildings can be undertaken while maintaining the high level of public safety we enjoy in Ontario.

The act will permit the government to pass regulations to adopt a renovation code as part XI of the Ontario Building Code. The renovation code will assist builders and individuals to renovate houses, boarding or lodging houses and apartment buildings that are five years old or more and will facilitate the conversion of nonresidential buildings to residential use.

Owners of buildings that now stand idle or might otherwise be demolished will be encouraged to renovate and extend the useful life of existing building stock. Thus the act and the regulations will have a very positive impact on the renovation industry, creating new jobs, new investment opportunities and, most important, new housing.

The government is committed to streamlining the building regulations of this province while maintaining public safety. The renovation code and the flexibility it provides are a major part of this initiative.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, we are going to be glad to support this legislation. It is fairly well known to be housekeeping legislation that broadens the flexibility a little for the various inspectors and so forth, and we endorse it.

4:20 p.m.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we will be pleased to support Bill 147. According to the statements and the comments that have been made by the various people I have talked to, this is a necessary piece of legislation. However, I want to put on the record a couple of concerns I have.

I am accepting at face value what the minister said and what others I have talked to about this bill are saying, that there is a need to put together a piece of legislation like this, which allows regulations to be formed that will provide a bit of flexibility in building codes.

I am in agreement with the practical problems faced by builders, municipal building inspectors and home owners when doing renovations. It is true that sometimes when one goes to renovate an older residence, there are other problems which must be corrected. The hard fact is that the present building code does not provide the means to get those things corrected. In terms of the principle of the bill, I have no problem with that. However, I want to put on the record some concerns I do have.

We are not able to see this afternoon what the regulations are. That bothers me somewhat. The legislation in itself is a little all-encompassing. It is being touted as good for everything. I have not seen anybody claim it will provide a cure for cancer, but just about everything else is included: it is going to stimulate housing, it will provide jobs, it will solve practical problems in municipal housing inspection and it will provide for a means of building more energy-efficient homes. I believe all those things are possible, but I want to put on the record my concerns that some other things are also possible.

The fact is that we may well find people who will try to take advantage of this flexibility. That concerns me a little bit. In estimates the other evening, we had a discussion around the building code and the approach used in Ontario and Canada to provide a code that is an industry-developed set of mechanical codes, which is the best way to describe it. It talks about how far apart the studs are in a house; what kind of statistics must be provided to say something is approved under the code. As is this bill, it is very much related to standards set by an industry.

The larger question of whether the house is safe or solid is left unspoken. That concerns me just a bit. It is, as the minister admits, a problem every time one goes to a codified technique of establishing what is good and what is bad, what is safe and what is not safe. Sometimes in the process of developing very elaborate standards and regulations, one misses the whole point completely.

In committee the other night, we went over some of the interesting exceptions many of us have had. In my life as a politician, I have had some interesting situations. I can recall one in Oshawa where a woman bought a brand-new home, rolled in her new piano and the piano fell through the floor. We went through all the rigmarole of city inspectors coming out and inspecting everything there was to be inspected. The fact is that the house was in compliance with the building code; but the house would not take a piano on the floor, either.

Unfortunately, there was not much that could be done about it, because there were little sets of bureaucrats -- I am not demeaning bureaucrats at all -- people whose lives and jobs revolve around looking at sets of statistics and seeing that other statistics match up with these statistics; as long as they do, everything is okay. It would not really matter if the world were falling apart all around them, they would be there measuring, getting out degrees and doing the tests they do.

We will support the legislation before us this afternoon on the premise that it has the potential to resolve a pragmatic problem, and we would very much like to do that. It also has the potential to resolve some problems around housing and renovations in general.

I want to get on the record, though, my concerns that the legislation in its present form is something in which we are buying a bit of a pig in a poke. I want to admit that this afternoon. Second, it may be subject to some abuse, and we will just have to wait to see whether that happens. There will be building inspectors looking at individual situations, operating within some kind of flexible regulatory system; there are going to be lots of judgement calls out there.

We are accepting the legislation at face value. We are accepting it because we trust that the people who will carry out these inspections and set these regulations will do so with the intention of trying to serve the public good. If that all hangs together, we will have done them a service by passing this legislation this afternoon. If it does not, we will be discussing this bill a little further in the spring session.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of very brief comments on this bill to the parliamentary assistant since the minister is not here. As my colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) suggested, we will be supporting the bill, and it does provide some benefits, but it seriously irks me that this government has not yet learned to talk to itself.

We have a building code in this province which is supposed to provide a maximized benefit in terms of how we construct things in this province. I want to suggest that the Ministry of Energy has spent countless man-hours and millions of dollars, both in terms of its own work and grants or contract work out there in the real world, on things such as energy conservation. The standards in the building code come nowhere near what the Ministry of Energy has found to be useful, productive and beneficial across the board.

When we are dealing with legislation like this, the government should start to learn to talk to itself from one ministry to the next so we can get on with coming up with a building code that really maximizes benefits across this province instead of lagging considerably behind. The example I have cited is only one -- there are dozens of others, but I will not go into them all -- but it shows that there is a very sad lack in this government when one ministry cannot sit down with another ministry and come up with a set of changes to the legislation that are in step with what research tells us is needed.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite for their support. The point the member for Oshawa raised is very valid. I must say it is a point we have considered as well, because the thing we want to be very sure of is that in relaxing certain building codes and the renovation code we do not want to relax any matters of health or safety for the population.

I point out to the member and to the House that probably one of the keys to this is that normally under the building code, if a builder meets the requirement of the building code, he gets a building permit; but this is not something he gets if he meets the renovation code. This is permissive legislation to the building commissioner. If one reads the section, it says "Permitting chief officials, subject to such conditions" and so on.

In other words, the municipal building inspector has the option of using the renovation code or not; the building renovator is not entitled to it. We have considerable confidence in the building officials in our municipalities and the final decision as to whether they allow this or not. Even though an application meets the renovation code, the municipal building official may say, "No, you cannot have it in this case because we are not too sure it will conform to the required safety standards."

That is another safeguard we have in this bill.

We feel it will go a long way towards solving the qualms of the member for Oshawa.

With those words, I commend the bill to the House.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for third reading.


Mr. MacQuarrie moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, second reading of Bill 135, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, the Construction Lien Act has been in effect for some eight months.

Mr. Breaugh: This afternoon is the third time we are fixing up your lousy legislation -- the third time in a row.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Quite the contrary. This is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation that this chamber has passed. But during that period certain problems have arisen. This bill has been designed to meet and deal with those problems. It has been designed to clarify certain technical aspects of the legislation.

The most significant problem is the position of the home purchaser; the legislation, among other things, removes the home purchaser from the classification of owner.

In addition, I will be asking that we move into committee, because I have an amendment I would like to put forward.

4:30 p.m.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to support the bill that is before us. I recall that when the Construction Lien Act was before us, it was the understanding that there would be some additional changes and amendments that would have to be placed, after the result of some experience, to clarify certain of the sections in the act.

I am quite prepared to accept the variety of minor changes that are suggested, but there is one item I would like the parliamentary assistant to address when the time comes for committee of the whole, and that is what is really the major and only principle of this bill, the situation with respect to the definition of the term "home buyer."

From the explanation defined in the bill, the home buyer is not an owner for the purposes of the act; so, as we are informed, a mortgage given or assumed by such a person is not subject to the priority otherwise given to liens arising out of the construction of or other improvements made to the premises being purchased.

There is an interesting item in the term as defined in the act. It defines a home buyer as a person purchasing a home whose down payment does not exceed 30 per cent of the purchase price and who does not take title to the premises until the home is ready for occupancy under the usual certification of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. I am wondering why the figure of 30 per cent has been chosen.

I can foresee, even in these difficult times, the possibility of a person selling a home that had been more or less paid off or had only a small mortgage against it and who might well have sufficient capital to pay more than the 30 per cent figure and, accordingly, assume a first mortgage, perhaps from a lending institution, or give a new first mortgage that is less than that 70 per cent figure. Surely a person in those circumstances should have the same protection against a variety of claims that could be made to the property as would the usual purchaser of a new home who might well have a deposit in the less than 30 per cent range.

I would appreciate an explanation of that definition when we get to the clause-by-clause discussion. I am not necessarily quarrelling with that figure, but I think an explanation should be placed on the record so that at least we have some reference as to what protections will be available and as to why the figure is there.

With respect to the various other amendments in the bill, as I have said, they are a result of some months' experience with the legislation. I can only presume they have been discussed with the variety of component parts of the construction and financial industries so that they are not only useful but also bring a fair balance to the needs that have been expressed since the bill was initially passed.

I look forward to the explanation the parliamentary assistant will give to the point I have raised. Other than that, we certainly will approve the bill in principle.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak briefly to Bill 135, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act. My colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) may wish to make some comments about it as well. If my colleagues in the caucus and I understand the bill correctly, we are quite prepared to support the bill.

The bill before us contains a number of amendments. All of them except one appear to be the kind of technical change that would come up when a new bill, such as the Construction Lien Act, which we passed last year, has seen the light of day and people have had an opportunity to make suggestions with respect to minor amendments to it. To the extent they are minor amendments, we can deal with those in committee. The parliamentary assistant has said it must go to committee.

So far as we were concerned, the key part of the bill when it was originally passed was subsection (80)5. That was the section that caused the problems with respect to the lending institutions, who were concerned about the priority of the liens created by the Construction Lien Act and the effect it would have on their capacity and ability, cautiously and conservatively, to lend money.

The Legislature made a fundamental decision as a result of the committee that had studied of the Construction Lien Act and the previous Mechanics Lien Act and had come up with a workable solution. A substantial part of the compromise of all the various interests from all areas involved in those discussions, including labour, is reflected in subsection (80)5. It is that very section we are now asked to amend.

I do not pretend to be a conveyancing lawyer or a conveyancing expert, but try as I may, I came to the conclusion that what the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) said in the very early summer when he gave notice of his intention to move the amendment to clear up a problem was a matter with respect to the opinion of people about title.

I want the assurance of the parliamentary assistant that the change we make is a clarification change, as has been stated, and that it will not in any way touch upon the principles of the bill. As I have said, one of the fundamental principles of the bill was subsection (80)5.

The Attorney General ended his statement in the Legislature by saying: "To avoid misunderstanding, I want to emphasize that the principles of the act and holdback security will not be reconsidered in connection with these proposed amendments. Holdback security in the present form will remain until all segments of the construction industry can agree on a better method for protecting the vital interests of those who supply services and materials to improve real property."

4:40 p.m.

That last part is the key to our concern about whether we, sitting in the Legislature discussing a very technical question of mortgage and lien priorities, need the assurance of the ministry, which has the expertise and capacity to give that kind of assurance.

In substance, the Attorney General said in his statement that if one was the purchaser of a home on the real estate market -- in other words, if one was not the builder or constructor and not making improvements to one's own property, but simply was a person who saw a property for sale, put in an offer to buy that property, which was a recently completed property, and gave back a mortgage on that property, not only did one get clear title as purchaser of the property, if he was fortunate enough to have the funds to buy the property mortgage-free, he would get clear title on the property as against unregistered liens which may be available to be registered within the times allocated in the construction lien, of which he did not have any notice. Similarly, if one arranged for a purchase-money mortgage on the property, the mortgagee would also get a security free and clear of any such liens.

That is my understanding of the statement by the Attorney General in this assembly. He said, in substance: "It has long been and, in my opinion, is now the law that a mortgage arranged by the purchaser who is not an owner, advanced and registered at closing, also has priority over liens which have not been registered." That was one part of the statement.

The prior part of that statement was: "When a purchaser of a new home who has not had the house built for him or her and therefore is not an 'owner' under the act closes the transaction, advances the purchase price and receives a conveyance from the builder, it is clear that if no liens are registered at the time and the purchaser has no written notice of a lien, the interest of the purchaser has priority over any lien." That is the effect of subsection 80(6).

Then the Attorney General went on to say that would also be true with respect to a purchase-money mortgage on a home property. He said the reason for the introduction of the amendment was to clarify what he believed to be the actual legal position under the act.

He went on to explain: "While several highly regarded lawyers have given the same opinion as I have just expressed, doubt remains in the minds of some lenders. They have not been advancing 10 or more per cent of the price on closing. Some purchasers of new homes have been forced to arrange interim financing for a period of up to 60 days from closing. Not only could this be harmful to the individual purchaser, but it also could put a cloud over purchasing a home and might thereby harm the construction industry, which is important to the economic health of the province."

That is a perfect rationalization for the bill, a perfect reason for the bill, provided the ministry is perfectly clear that it is not opening any door to anybody to get around the fundamental part of the major compromise among all the interests, which is to say that liens would have a priority they did not have under the previous legislation.

By tampering, if I can use that term, with subsection 80(5), I can only express views that are elementary. As a lawyer, I can only express the view to my colleagues in the caucus that what the Attorney General has said is correct and that as a companion part of the process of amendment it is also necessary in the bill before us to clarify and make very clear the position of a home buyer as distinct from the technical, defined term of "owner" in the Construction Lien Act.

I doubt the other provisions of the bill would have seen the light of day at this time if that major question had not arisen, but I need that assurance because it was on that basis our caucus agreed we would support this bill. We are not prepared to support the bill unless we have an unequivocal statement from the government that this does not impinge upon the fundamental compromise of all sorts of interests which led to this new Construction Lien Act which, as the Attorney General said in the closing part of his statement, fundamentally holds back security in the present form. That connotes that the same kind of priority I have spoken about will remain until all segments of the construction industry can agree on a better method for protecting the vital interests of those who supply services and materials to improve real property.

I want the assurance from the government and from the parliamentary assistant speaking for the government that this particular amendment to subsection 80(5) and the complementary definition of the term "home buyer" do not in any way impinge upon the vital interests of those who supply services and materials to improve real property.

I need not go on at any greater length. I am sure the parliamentary assistant understands my concern and our willingness to support the bill, but also understands that it is conditional on a very clear statement and undertaking by the government that this bill does not in any sense upset that concern.

It would also help me to a great extent if the Construction Lien Amendment Act, 1983 -- Bill 135, which we have before us -- had been passed in front of the same committee that originally prepared the report that led to the bill we passed a year ago. That committee represented all segments of the construction industry in a very real sense, including the construction trades, other journeymen, apprentices and other workers who are employed on these construction contracts, be they small ones or immense ones.

With those remarks and having stated our position that clearly, I await with bated breath the comments of the parliamentary assistant.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak briefly on this bill because it is a matter of some concern to me. I raised this with the Attorney General in the spring session where it was brought to my attention that there was some difficulty with the bill as it was previously passed by the Legislature.

I was actually thinking about putting an amendment because, in my view, this act should be called the Dennis Chura act. I will not move the amendment because we are trying to get the legislation through here this afternoon and the government always gets paranoid when anybody on the opposition side moves an amendment.

Dennis Chura is the name of a real estate agent in Oshawa who brought this matter to my attention and did so under rather unusual circumstances. It was about 11 o'clock at night. I was just finishing a workout in my rec room and was standing in the hall in my sweatsuit when Dennis rapped on my door in a rather agitated state. He is rather a good real estate salesman in the area and he had just lost a deal with a young couple who had, unfortunately, got themselves into a bit of a bind.

They had sold their previous home on the premise that everything was on the up and up, and the builder simply announced to them on closing day he wanted an additional 10 per cent, which in this case amounted to about $5,000. Not everybody is in a position to run out overnight and pick up a $5,000 loan, particularly when he has just signed for a rather high mortgage.

The unfortunate situation was not that Dennis Chura had just lost a real estate deal, because I am sure Dennis will pick that up in a matter of hours on some other deal, but that a young couple had sold their house -- and would, of course, as most people do, live by that agreement -- had been unable to purchase their new house and were at a loss as to what to do with themselves.

We were led to believe that this wonderful piece of business called the Construction Lien Act had been a matter that was rather widely consulted on in the industry, that builders lenders, lawyers and everybody who was invoked in it had studied this matter for a lengthy period of time and had come to a conclusion that was put before the Legislature in the previous bill's format.

I made some inquiries and found out that somebody had forgotten to tell the lawyers and the lenders in the group. In calling around, we found that in other areas it was not just builders trying to transfer their responsibility on to the purchaser of the home but also lenders who were saying, "With this new Construction Lien Act in place, we are not sure that there is clear title to a property, so we are not going to advance any mortgage money for it." Whether it was the builder, the lender or whoever, the person who was injured in the end result was the consumer who was attempting to purchase a new home.

4:50 p.m.

The irony of it is that I recall the debate on the previous piece of legislation. It seemed to me that an eloquent case was made to me for it both here in the Legislature and, I have to admit, back home in Sutton Court in Oshawa by several small business people who were in the business of helping to process houses. They were people who would finish up the details. They were roofers. They did brick work, painting and put down cement floors. They put a rather eloquent case to me that the housing industry had turned around a little in the last few years.

In previous years they did not have to worry about a builder paying off his subtrades. There might be a bit of a delay, but eventually they got paid. These guys were offering me a litany of occasions when they were on the hook for $15,000, $20,000, $60,000 and sometimes $100,000.

The builders were building the houses, selling the houses, and then going into receivership. The builder made a good buck on the house and started up another housing project under another development number. The person who was on the hook was the poor little guy who was trying to run a painting and decorating firm or who was trying to make a decent buck by doing some roofing, brick work, masonry or installing windows.

As all these people happened to complete houses in the projects where I live, because there is still a little building in the area, they came to me and made a pretty eloquent case that something had to be done to see the little guy in the process did not get hammered, because the little guy was getting hammered and was losing a lot of money. It turns out there was very little, in a practical sense, they could do.

It is true they could go after the receiver and try to recover some money. It is true, I suppose, they could enter into civil litigation with the builder if he was still in operation. It is true there were some legal options available to them. But for practical purposes it was those small businesses that took it straight between the eyes. They are the ones who suffered the loss and there seemed to be damned little they could do. Many of them had paid the people they employed. As decent people they paid their employees regularly so it was small business which was taking it in the head.

It seemed to me it was put before the Legislature on the basis that something had to be done to provide for some fairness in the building industry in Ontario, that this was a problem which had not been widespread before, but was now widespread and getting worse. It seemed to me the Construction Lien Act, as presented to us in the last session, was a reasonable way to proceed.

It might not be perfect, but I was told there had been a lot of consultation in the building industry, and part of that was with lawyers, lenders and everybody else, and that this piece of legislation was a kind of consensus document which would provide some fairness for subtrades that were working in the local construction of houses and would not have a negative effect on consumers.

It seemed to me then to be an absolute perversion to find out that some builder, some real estate guy, had decided to play shotgun and transfer his responsibilities to the consumer. I can imagine what it would be like because it was not that long ago I had a young family and we were attempting to buy a house.

If somebody had said to me, "We have concluded all of this; we have completed the sale of your previous residence; we have concluded the mortgage arrangements for this, and we have concluded all of the other closing costs," and then on closing day had announced, "We want another $5,000 from you," I think I would have let him have it right between the eyes with a 12-gauge. It seems to me that is unreal and is an unreasonable way to proceed.

Then I found out that in other areas of Ontario it was not some sleazy little guy selling off some houses who was involved: it was some supposedly very reputable lenders. Of all people out there, it seemed to me they had a reputation to protect. They should have known what that legislation was because I am sure most of them have lawyers who look at legislation which goes through here. They would have known beforehand that there might be a problem. If their legal advice to the lending houses would have been, "We cannot get a clear title to these properties and you are going to have some difficulty afterwards," why were they not here? Why did they not make representations to the Legislature when the previous bill was being processed?

I want to say a couple of things about the actions of the Attorney General in this regard. This is the first time I have ever seen the Attorney General of Ontario give any credit to any opposition member. I want to thank him for that. On about three different occasions when he has made reference to this bill, he has pointed out that I brought it to his attention. That is a rare occasion indeed, and I want to say I appreciate the Attorney General doing that.

I do not care whether they want to make it praise and flowery stuff, but it strikes me it would not hurt other ministers of the crown to hand out a little bit of credit once in a while, indicating that there are opposition members who do their jobs, too, and who report to the government that there are problems out there. We appreciate it when a government responds; that is what a government is there for. It has taken them some time to respond in legislative form, but they had the good sense, fortunately, to provide that the bill be retroactive.

There are builders in my community who appreciate a response on the part of the government. Unfortunately, they were caught in the middle of this. Several people, mostly younger couples, got caught in real estate transactions that cannot be helped by this bill. I regret that. The bill itself is retroactive, but there is no hope for the young couple I was talking to Dennis about on my front porch, so to speak. They needed an immediate redress that night, which was not possible.

As far as I could determine from my local real estate board, there were about half a dozen deals in my area involving two or three builders where the same set of circumstances prevailed. We were not able to help those people in this bill or any other bill. They needed assistance that night, and this government certainly could not respond that quickly to anything; at least, I have never seen it do that.

The Attorney General did respond to the main point I raised and which other members have raised. I seem to recall the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) brought up some problems which had come about in his area. For that, we are grateful.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this is the third bill this afternoon dealing with legislation we passed last year, the third piece of business this afternoon in which we are patching up the wrongdoings of a government. It is true the government did not do so intentionally. They screwed up without malice aforethought, but they certainly are tripping and we are pleased to spend some time this afternoon patching up the legislation for them. We regret we have to do so, but it is necessary.

None the less, I want to conclude by saying I appreciate the Attorney General's response. He is not noted for giving quick responses, but in this instance he did respond, and that is the most important thing. As my friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) has pointed out, I hope he has responded in a way that will permanently resolve the problem because I believe it is important.

I believe those subtrades deserve to be paid for a day's work which they have already done. I believe, too, that consumers deserve some measure of protection under this legislation. I hope it is there. It is there, as I read it. The nagging thought in the back of my mind, though, is that we went through this exercise not more than a year ago. The lawyers are out there looking at it again and so are the lending institutions.

I would certainly like an affirmation that at least this time we have red-flagged it for them and put something into legislation which they not only understand but accept. We are running into the problem here of legislation which all of us want. We all have good intentions in here most of the time -- all of the time, I hope. We put together legislation which we think will resolve problems, and thousands of people out in the real world are trying to pick holes in that legislation.

I would hope that in processing these amendments to the Construction Lien Act this afternoon we have done somebody some good and resolved some problems. I know the Attorney General has not resolved all the problems I brought to him, but I hope he has resolved the problem in the main, and so I am happy to support the bill.

5 p.m.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, I would like to endorse the Attorney General's commendation of the member for Oshawa in suggesting this legislation. At the same time, I would like to point out that in a piece of legislation as involved as the Construction Lien Act it is impossible to achieve perfection the first time around.

The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) raised a question with respect to the 30 per cent figure selected in the bill as the payment by the purchaser. This figure was not selected arbitrarily; it was selected in consultation with those in the industry. I understand that in the Toronto area, for instance, an amount of 35 per cent by way of deposit is not unusual. However, it should be borne in mind that this amount relates only to the amount of deposits before closing. On closing, a person can pay out, pay down or do what he will with whatever surplus funds he might have.

The other aspect of it is that if he pays more than 30 per cent, he is then cast in the position of owner with the rights of holdback. Presumably, he has the funds to absorb any temporary holdback that a mortgagee might make.

The figures are there simply to ensure there is enough money on closing to protect the lien claimants. When one takes the value of the lot and the value of construction, I understand 30 per cent represents about 90 per cent of the construction activity in the building.

Turning now to the interesting points raised by the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), I am afraid I can give him no unequivocal undertaking or assurance in respect of the government's posture. The legislation speaks for itself; it speaks quite clearly. I might point out that the Attorney General's advisory committee on this matter has considered the bill. All members save one, a Mr. Koskie, agreed with the amendment. The construction trades accept this as being the only practical approach.

There is no question that there is a minor encroachment on the principle of holdback security in this bill. To protect home buyers, about which the member for Oshawa was so justifiably concerned, it was necessary to make this change.

The courts have said that if a buyer goes into a subdivision and orders a house from the builder's model or from the builder's plan, he is an owner. We are changing this. To protect the home buyer under these circumstances, the government has no alternative whatsoever but to make the change it is making.

Motion agreed to.

Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 135, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act.

On section 1:

Mr. Chairman: Mr. MacQuarrie moves that subparagraph (ii) of paragraph 7b of subsection 1(1) of the act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be amended by striking out "under the Building Code Act of a permit" in the third and fourth lines and inserting in lieu thereof "of a municipal permit."

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Chairman, the paragraph as amended would read as follows:

"7b. 'home buyer' means a person who buys the interest of an owner in a premises that is a home, whether built or not at the time the agreement of purchase and sale in respect thereof is entered into, provided

"i. not more than 30 per cent of the purchase price, excluding money held in trust under section 53 of the Condominium Act, is paid prior to the conveyance, and

"ii. the home is not conveyed until it is ready for occupancy, evidenced in the case of a new home by the issuance of a municipal permit authorizing occupancy or the issuance under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act of a certificate of completion and possession."

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Chairman, I suppose the only point to be raised is to ask under what other possible statute a municipal permit would be issued if it were not the Building Code Act.

Mr. MacQuarrie: In checking with the building code branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, it appears that permits authorizing occupancy of new houses in many municipalities in Ontario are not issued under the Building Code Act but rather under subdivision agreements as between subdivider developers, builders and the municipality; so it is a municipal permit of occupation.

Mr. Breithaupt: So we are correct that whatever practice a municipality may follow, whether it is under the building code or pursuant to a practice of dealing with the terms of a subdivision, it would still bring the requisite protection, however it might be attended to.

Mr. MacQuarrie: It is the intention of the government that this be the case. We feel the amendment appropriately covers that, because the municipality would be proceeding either under the Building Code Act or alternatively under a subdivision agreement.

5:10 p.m.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, all I can do is accept what the parliamentary assistant states, because it is extremely important for a person to be able to know whether he is or is not a home buyer. One would not want to find a person excluded from being a home buyer by this very technical definition because either of the two permits was not forthcoming for some reason or other. I take it that no such occasion can arise so far as the parliamentary assistant is concerned.

Motion agreed to.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 2 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Eaton, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with a certain amendment.


Mr. MacQuarrie moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, second reading of Bill 136, An Act respecting the Benefits of Provincial Judges and Masters.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, the nature of the bill is outlined in the explanatory note. It is a simple, straightforward bill that provides for the establishment, if necessary, of a separate pension fund for provincial court judges. It establishes by statute the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee. It also includes the same provisions as applied to judges and extends them to Masters of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, the bill before us is a parallel result of a situation whereby certain of our more senior judges have argued on occasion that they have been compromised in their independence because of the requirement to make contributions to certain pension plans.

The argument put forward in that regard would be referred to by my friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) as a "cute" argument. Certainly, while it did form part of the argument in a recent case that raised constitutional matters, it is one the Legislature must deal with. In my opinion, the approach taken, if it had any serious claim behind it, was phoney, self-serving, greedy and generally disgraceful. I might add that I did not like it very much either.

All that aside, there is the requirement to ensure that no one would feel compromised by the necessity of having to make certain pension contributions to a plan, just as everyone else has to make certain contributions. I believe the bill before us will deal with the requirement to satisfy any view as to compromise on behalf of those who make decisions in those courts or under the terms by which masters operate. I think it will do so quite clearly without having to raise this argument again as to a compromise of judicial independence in this scene.

The second point that is raised deals with the formalizing of the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee. I should say that committee has been useful in dealing with recommendations as to salaries and benefits received by provincial judges. It may well be that we will further wish to amend its powers to make recommendations concerning members of the Legislature if the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses ever proves itself unequal to that task. However, for the time being we will have to allow that legislation, and indeed that opportunity, to await the pleasure of the Lieutenant Governor, among others, in years to come.

We welcome the bill because it does clear up this point that was, I must say, perhaps of some concern to the participants. The fact that we have the bill before us now and can deal with it is welcome. The bill was only introduced on December 1, but it is clear that it is the sort of thing that can be dealt with reasonably expeditiously. I am pleased to speak in support of the principle of the bill.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak on Bill 136, although not at any great length because of what my colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) has said, that this was a matter seen by certain of the judges to have touched upon the question of their independence.

Needless to say, I think the judgement of the Court of Appeal of Ontario on that issue satisfies me. Of course, the Valente case, where that judgement on the reference by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) was made, will now go, as I understand it, to the Supreme Court of Canada some time in March 1984, when the Supreme Court will give a definitive decision with respect to the independence of the provincially appointed judges.

In a sense, this bill before us now is part of the adjustment which, if nothing else, the action of the judges brought about from the government to clarify and rectify some of the issues which have become over the years a little cloudy and a little ambiguous about the relationship of the judges to the civil service of the province.

In substance, one of the results of this bill, despite the legal jargon in which the bill is couched, will be for practical purposes to bring the pensions and benefits of judges under the Provincial Courts Act in the case of the judges and under the Judicature Act in the case of the masters. Perhaps at some point the parliamentary assistant will comment about the small claims court judges and where they fall under the rubric of the questions that are involved in it.

The bill itself does not, of course, speak directly to the question of the quantum of the salaries of the judges. That is one of the major concerns which the process being developed has to address, as well as pensions and benefits.

5:20 p.m.

One of the major parts of the bill is to put in statutory form the committee that was originally established by order in council 643/80, dated March 5, 1980, which established a committee to be known as the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee. It stated, in that wonderful language of orders in council: "Whereas the Attorney General therefore recommends that pursuant to the provisions of the Ministry of the Attorney General Act and the Provincial Courts Acts, he establish this committee by order in council."

I think the committee deserves some comment. At the present time its members are Mr. Alan Marchment, who has significant experience in the trust company business -- I understand he chairs the committee -- Mr. Edward Greenspan, who represents the judges' associations on that committee, and Mr. Robert Carman, the government appointee, who I believe is the equivalent of the deputy to the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet. I assume it is the intention that this will be the basic composition of that committee.

I want to register at least one thought with the parliamentary assistant, and perhaps through him with the Attorney General. Consideration should be given to whether or not, given the terms of reference of that committee -- that is, its ability to carry out whatever studies are necessary to get whatever information is necessary -- the government appointee to that committee should not be a person other than one within the civil service of Ontario.

There is no problem in this instance with the person being a government appointee, but I think there is some merit in establishing a further sense of distance of that committee from its original conception by providing for that change. It is no reflection on the original member appointed by the government, Mr. R. J. Butler, when he was the deputy to the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet, nor on the present holder of that office, Mr. Robert Carman.

I do not quite know where it will all come out in the end, but I have felt strongly since the issue arose -- and indeed prior to the time when the judges raised the question -- that somehow or other under our system of government, without believing in the absolute water-tight relationships or lack of relationships between the executive judiciary and the legislative branch of government, that it would be wise to follow the pattern of the federal government and bring the bills changing and altering the financial remuneration -- in the global sense of that term -- of the provincial court judges through the assembly for debate and discussion. At present what we have in the statute, or will have in the statute when it is passed, is a statutory committee of three persons, as I have indicated, who will then make recommendations in a report.

It is that report and those recommendations that will be tabled in the assembly. We all know that tabling in the assembly is not an immediate invitation to action. I am curious to know why it is that the government would not consider at this time making the decision that the financial remuneration, in all its aspects -- similar to the remuneration provisions of the Legislative Assembly Act for the members -- would be in the statutes of the assembly and that from time to time whatever debate necessary in connection with the establishment of those concerns would take place in the assembly.

Otherwise, I do not know how the parliamentary assistant sees the system to table recommendations operating. We have here no sense of what impact those recommendations are supposed to have on the government and what is then the government process by which consideration will be given to implementing or otherwise those recommendations, other than just having the report around for a long time.

I think it is fair to say there have been reports, even of this committee, that have not been acted upon even though they may have been taken into consideration. Certainly that is true of the report in 1980 by this committee, which recommended for practical purposes, after doing the study and background work required, that there should be parity between the county court judges appointed by the federal government and the provincial court judges appointed by Ontario.

I will be interested as to what the process is after we establish this committee with the power to make recommendations. The assembly is brought in simply in the sense that the report is tabled in the assembly, but it does not alter the fundamental substance of the process by which the government alone makes those changes by order in council or by regulation under the Provincial Courts Act in the case of the judges, under the Small Claims Courts Act in the case of small claims court judges and under the Judicature Act in the case of the masters.

I happen to have the regulation that was filed on September 6, 1983, under the Provincial Courts Act establishing the salaries of the chief judge of the provincial court, $76,598; the associate chief judge of the provincial court, $72,952; the senior judge of the provincial court, $70,224; the senior judge of the provincial court, civil division, $70,224; and a provincial judge, $68,939. I do not happen to have the salaries of the masters, which were established at the same time, but perhaps the parliamentary assistant could record them for us. As far as I can tell, the salaries of the small claims court judges are established, as of April 1, 1982, at $65,700.

The quantum is a matter I think the assembly should be involved in. I do not think it should be simply a recommendation of cabinet and an order in council or a regulation passed under the Provincial Courts Act, and I would like to have the comment of the parliamentary assistant on that aspect of the question.

With respect to the judges, let me refer to an important aspect. What will happen to retired judges? What will happen to the provincial court judges and the masters who are now in retirement and are no longer full-time judges? I have the sense this process in one way or another does not deal with those persons who happen to have given their service and are now in retirement; but I may be quite wrong on that and I am sure the parliamentary assistant will be able to tell me whether retired judges and retired masters will have the benefit of whatever process is related to pensions and benefits and will have some method by which they will benefit from the process that is being established.

5:30 p.m.

Certainly, when the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario was trying to deal with the question of provincial judges they made a comment about judges, and I think it is important in this debate that it be put on the record, because I think it will be a matter that will be before the assembly on other occasions as well when we have passed this enabling piece of legislation and when the matters will come before us.

I would like to quote briefly from the report of the royal commission. It states:

"Pensions for provincial judges: Ontario has jurisdiction over the pensions of some 190 provincial court judges and eight small claims court judges. Pensions for these judges are provided under the Public Service Superannuation Act in the same plan as provincial civil servants. The independence of the judiciary requires enactment of a pension plan for judges separate from that of civil servants. (A separate plan is maintained for members of the Legislative Assembly.)

"Recommendation 131. A pension plan separate from that for public servants generally should be enacted for all members of the judiciary to whom Ontario's legislative powers extend."

Then it goes on to make a technical recommendation with respect to earlier unreduced retirement benefits:

"Recommendation 132. The government of Ontario should not take steps to lower the existing retirement ages at which unreduced pensions are available except where it can be demonstrated that unreduced pensions at earlier ages are a necessity for a special group. In those cases, the additional cost of earlier unreduced retirement benefits should be fairly borne by employer and employees."

I believe I have covered the basic provisions of Bill 136 as far as I wish to at this time. I will await with interest the comments of the parliamentary assistant. It was the decision of our caucus, in discussing this bill, to support it on second reading and that there would be no need for it to go to committee.

Certainly, we have no problem in understanding that the regulations respecting benefits for provincial judges and masters include the power to require contributions to the cost of pensions and survivor benefits. I do not think anybody could ever accept the proposition that a contributory pension plan or other contributory plans for different benefits affect the independence of judges in any way. We welcome that clarification.

I await with interest the comments of the parliamentary assistant on such of those points as he may care to comment on.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, back in 1968 the Provincial Courts Act made some provision for judges' pensions. At that time they were placed in the public service superannuation fund and dealt with as such. This statute, in effect, brings them under the proper statute, in line with the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario to which the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) referred.

The honourable member raised a number of points. One point was the status of small claims court judges. It is my understanding there are no longer any full-time small claims court judges but rather they have all been appointed provincial court judges.

Dealing with the question of the committee makeup, the point the member makes in respect of the government's appointee is one that might well be considered, but the government at this time has no intention of changing the makeup of the committee. The government's appointee is expected, like the appointee judge, to act in an independent way, exercising independent judgement.

I suppose arguments can be made both ways. The fact that a person is knowledgeable of the conditions of employment, scales of wages and the like in the government would have some sort of advantage on a committee like this, but none the less the comment is worthy of consideration and not entirely without merit.

Dealing with the point made by the member for Riverdale with respect to retroactivity, I have been advised that the present consideration is that if a new pension plan is implemented it will apply to any judge who was active as of October 1, 1979, but who has since retired. I would also assume, having some idea of the fair-mindedness of this government, that if inadequate allowance had been made for judges and their widows, husbands or whatever the case might be, who ceased being judges before that date, the government would look very sympathetically at their position.

The member for Riverdale raised the very interesting question of statute as opposed to regulation in dealing with salaries to be paid and other working conditions of judges. It is the government's position at this time that the recommendations of the committee are to be enforced or not, as the case may be, by order in council. They are to be tabled in this House, conceivably at that time referred to committee as subject for debate and examined very carefully by this House. I do not really see that any authority of this House is being seriously compromised.

I might also note in reply to a query raised by the member for Riverdale that it is my understanding the salary currently being paid to masters of the Supreme Court is, for all intents and purposes, the same as that being paid to provincial court judges. I could be wrong by a few dollars one way or another, but that is the general scale as I understand it and I feel I am correct in passing on this information to the House.

I think I have dealt with the comments made by the member for Riverdale. I thank him for them, and I thank the members of the House for their indulgence.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

5:40 p.m.


Mr. Rotenberg moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, second reading of Bill 142, An Act respecting the City of Barrie and the Township of Vespra.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to make it very clear that after second reading I will be asking that this bill go to committee, probably the standing committee on general government, for hearings during the winter break.

This legislation is intended to resolve a longstanding boundary dispute between the city of Barrie and the township of Vespra. This is a dispute which dates back to the early 1970s when a provincial-municipal task force studied the Simcoe-Georgian Bay area and produced a report delineating a Barrie urban area.

In 1976, following government acceptance of the task force recommendations proposing Barrie as an urban growth centre, the city applied to the Ontario Municipal Board. The city's application sought annexation of the three surrounding townships of Innisfil, Oro and Vespra. The board heard evidence and argument over an 11-month period on the lands to be annexed and in October 1977 released its decision. This decision granted the city's request in large part, although precise boundaries were not clearly defined.

Innisfil township immediately challenged the decision in the courts and Vespra petitioned the cabinet. Over the six-year period following the release of the board's decision, the court case proceeded to the Supreme Court of Canada. In the meantime, Barrie and Innisfil came to an agreement on a new boundary which the province legislated in December, 1981.

When attempts by the city of Barrie to interest Vespra in negotiations failed to produce success, city council asked the OMB to resume its hearing on the application to delineate a precise boundary. There followed two more days of hearings this spring and a further court challenge.

The end result was that Barrie's application was sent back to square one, to a brand new board hearing on the merits of annexation. All this, as part of a board decision under the Municipal Boundary Negotiations Act, draws to a close on February 1, 1984, for matters relating to annexation. There has been over seven years of controversy. Literally millions have been spent on court costs, staff time and OMB time.

At this stage, to try to find a solution through an act of the OMB is not the answer. Negotiation is not feasible because one party will not negotiate. We feel legislation is the only way to bring this matter to a conclusion.

The committee hearings which I mentioned will allow further discussion on the location of the new boundary, as well as other issues arising out of the decision to annex. The details of the act and possible amendments, and I commit to the House that we will consider amendments, will be discussed in the committee hearings where we will hear from all interested parties in a full, open, public forum.

Although the bill in its present form is to take effect January 1, 1984, nothing can happen until the bill is finalized in the spring session of the Legislature. It will be business as usual in both municipalities until that happens. Although it is not yet firm, the chances are that the January 1 date will have to be changed when we get into committee hearings.

With these remarks, I would ask for the support of the House.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. There is a pocket in the centre of the second row of the government benches. They have had quite a little chat. I wonder if they could keep it at a minimum.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak on this bill. I regret its introduction. I do not believe it was necessary and I think it shows, again, the high-handedness of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) and his colleague the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. W. Taylor), who has been a close accomplice in the whole episode of trying to impose upon Vespra township a rape of some 5,000 acres or more within the next few months. The government is guilty of imposing upon Vespra an act in which they certainly do not want to participate. They certainly do not want to give up the land and they were prepared to negotiate with Barrie.

We have to question why the government would proceed through legislation when it could very well have proceeded through the Municipal Boundary Negotiations Act after February 1. We know that some years ago Vespra requested the Premier (Mr. Davis) to set up negotiations with Barrie. At that time, the Premier used his good offices to have negotiations.

They had three meetings. The meetings were not successful, not because of Vespra's attempt to thwart any progress on its part but because of Barrie's actions. Barrie was the one interfering with the progress of the negotiations to come to some amiable solution. As a result of this, Vespra is being punished with respect to this bill.

This whole act begs the question of whether a small municipality has any rights at all when it comes to this government. There is no doubt from the standpoint of political clout the member for Simcoe Centre, who is a member of this House and can speak to the bill, has been quite supportive of Barrie getting as much land as it wants from time to time. Of course, he can dispute my comments, but from speaking to people in Barrie and speaking to people from Vespra township, I know he has been quite open in his support of Barrie getting as much land as possible, certainly getting the land that is being incorporated in this bill to a maximum of 4,580 acres.

I would have thought, as the member representing both Vespra township and Barrie residents, he would have stayed neutral and would have tried to bring the two sides together to come to some form of amiable solution. Instead, he championed the cause of Barrie to get as much land as it could. As a result, we have this decision, under which the government can use its majority to bring about the change which will impose a decision on Vespra to take away 4,580 acres. This represents about half the commercial assessment of Vespra which goes to Barrie. He can appreciate the position any municipality in this province -- and there are a lot of them -- would be in after losing half of its commercial assessment in one fell swoop. I find it untenable that the government of this province is an accomplice to that.

I would like to see the government try to justify taking away all that commercial assessment from a small municipality. One would have to speak out of both sides of his mouth when he wants to say that one represents the small municipalities and that he champions their cause when, in fact, he is going to be part of this decision.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other things that have to be drawn to your attention. One is the compensation for Vespra and for Barrie as far as legal costs are concerned. The Ontario Municipal Board had a number of hearings on this matter. The last time the Divisional Court was reviewing OMB decisions it decided the OMB was biased in favour of Barrie and it did not award any costs. It would be left up to the government to award some costs to Vespra township and to the city of Barrie.

What has happened is that both of these municipalities have incurred hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of dollars' worth of legal costs since 1976. I asked the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to take a stand on this because he is responsible for the Ontario Municipal Board. He and his colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing could have come to some agreement to reimburse these municipalities with legal costs since the OMB is a direct servant of the province, but instead they have ignored that question. I would like the parliamentary assistant to address this question to see whether legal costs are going to be paid to both municipalities because of the interference by the province from time to time.

5:50 p.m.

If this bill is going to take effect on January 1, 1984, it seems we are rushing into it. I see no reason why we could not deal with the legislation first through the House. It seems we are in a hurry. It was introduced only on December 8, and here we are on December 13 being asked to pass it for second reading. I wonder about the urgency of the bill. If it has dragged on for a while over the years, then why do we all of a sudden have to pass it within a few clays of the bill receiving first reading.

I know the thing is supposed to go to committee on January 9 and I know the committee members will want to give both sides ample opportunity to voice their concerns. The original suggestion was that they were going to sit only for one week and then come down with a decision. Of course, I was not going to be part of just a one-week hearing because I think there are a lot of parties that want to be heard. I am glad to see they are now considering giving a maximum of at least up to three weeks to have both sides heard. I hope that will be ample time. If it is not, perhaps the decision will have to be deferred.

I think there are a lot of groups in both municipalities, including Residents Against Vespra Exploitation, which is a ratepayers' group, and a lot of other interested citizens who will want to participate. I very much hope they are going to be given ample opportunity to make those representations.

The question has to be asked how Barrie all of a sudden is going to be able to offer fire protection to this area, these 4,580 acres, starting January 1, how it is going to be able to look after the roads in that area and how it is going to be able to have all its assessment data in place on January 1.

Even if the bill gets second reading today -- and I doubt very much that it is going to get second reading, the earliest time at which it could be completed is tomorrow -- that will give them about 16 or 17 days to get everything in place. That is only with second reading; that is not third reading and royal assent, which I suppose will come some time in the new year. With the government using its majority it will be in March or April, I suppose.

The parliamentary assistant may have all the simple answers for this. I ask him to give us the answers as to how it is all going to be looked after very nicely. The government always tells us how well it manages the province and how well it manages everything else in this province, giving out gifts, etc. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant has some simple answers for us on this concern.

The other question is a conflict of interest which I suspect the reeve is going to have if he is going to sit on the Barrie council. This bill suggests that, starting January 1, one of the representatives on the Barrie council is going to be the reeve or some other elected official from Vespra township. During the course of the future months Barrie will be discussing compensation for Vespra township, and the reeve of Vespra is asked to sit on the council of Barrie to decide how much it is going to give Vespra township.

I think anybody who understands democracy and who had any part in the passing of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act would have taken this into consideration. The legislation certainly does not indicate the reeve cannot sit on the council in Barrie when compensation for Vespra is being discussed. There may be a simple answer to this. I am sure the parliamentary assistant will have it. However, it is not in the legislation and it is not in the compendium as far as the explanation is concerned.

The other question which must be asked is about the bitterness that is going to accrue in this area as a result of the legislated solution. The people of Barrie, and I have spoken to some of them, are extremely embarrassed by what is happening because of this kind of solution. I am sure there are a lot of fair-minded people in the city of Barrie. They do not want any part of this kind of legislated solution, this kind of rape of Vespra township which is occurring. They would have much preferred the route of going through the Municipal Boundary Negotiations Act and they wish the government would reconsider their proposal.

Still another point has to be raised. It has to do with the Ontario Municipal Board and its objectivity as far as this legislation is concerned. A number of us are aware that on November 24 and 25 the Ontario Municipal Board was hearing the delegations of Barrie and Vespra with respect to the annexation. On November 24, which was a Thursday, at 11:45 the Ontario Municipal Board recessed for 15 minutes, and at 11:50, five minutes later, Vespra township received a telephone call to come to the minister's office on December 8.

I wonder about the relationship between the Ontario Municipal Board and the ministry. The board recesses for 15 minutes, and five minutes later Vespra township receives a call from the minister's office saying, "We want you to come to our office on December 8." On December 8 what does the minister do? He announces to them that he is going to introduce legislation in the Ontario Legislature within the next hour to annex the 4,500 acres of land to Barrie.

Then the Ontario Municipal Board goes back and has some more hearings until three o'clock that day. They are going to give a decision on that day as to whether they are going to permit the annexation. They do not make a decision; they say they have to have a written decision. The next day they bring in this written decision and say they cannot really make a decision on it. Then the minister becomes involved.

So one just wonders. It seems more than coincidental that five minutes after the recess announced by the Ontario Municipal Board the minister's assistant or someone would call Vespra township -- and I am sure Barrie at the same time -- and the minister would then indicate he wants them to meet before the municipal board had made a decision. I do not want to say the minister told them exactly what the decision was going to be, but he certainly did not give them any options. They knew ahead of time, or suspected ahead of time, exactly what the minister was going to do.

So one just wonders about the objectivity of the Ontario Municipal Board and how closely the board was working with the ministry officials. One wonders whether they really kept their objectivity in relation to this case, particularly when several weeks earlier the Divisional Court had accused the Ontario Municipal Board of being very biased in its treatment of this whole issue and had singled out two of its members for not being very objective in their treatment of this issue.

Another question that has to be asked has to do with the amount of acreage that is being initially allotted to Barrie. In its second-last appearance before the Ontario Municipal Board, before the last one on November 24 and 25, Barrie wanted to settle for 320 acres of land. In fact, they now have been given 4,580 acres of land, subject to the committee hearings. I just wonder why, if Barrie wanted only 320 acres of land, the government would, all of a sudden, say, "That is not enough land. We will give you over 4,000 acres of land in excess of what you asked for."

The Deputy Speaker: Observing the clock, would the member not agree that this might be an appropriate time for a motion to adjourn the debate?

Mr. Epp: I will be pleased to move the adjournment.

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


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before you leave the chair, I might just indicate the business for tonight. Unfortunately, we cannot continue with this bill because the estimates of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing are before committee tonight.

We will start at eight o'clock with second reading of Bill 134. Then we will proceed with the business we would have done last night concerning the House in committee of supply on supplementary estimates in the following order: first, concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Education, followed by concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, followed by House in committee of supply to do supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, then concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, followed by House in committee of supply to do supplementary estimates for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, followed by concurrence in supply for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.

At 9:45 p.m., wherever we happen to be, whether or not all that business is completed, we will call third reading of Bill 111. It has been agreed there will be a vote on that by 10:30 p.m.

The House recessed at 6:01 p.m.