L023 - Mon 8 Jun 1987 / Lun 8 jun 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Harris: The small community of Field in my riding was virtually wiped out by a major flood in the spring of 1979. Business operations suffered; some shut down. Tourist camps and docking facilities were ripped apart and washed away. Major employers such as Field Lumber, Goulard Lumber and MacMillan Bloedel were ravaged by the Sturgeon River and closed down for weeks.
When it was over, our communities rallied together, and with the help of Queen's Park, communities were rebuilt. An advisory committee was set up; there were studies and more studies and extensive public input. A special monitoring service was established and projects that would alleviate future flooding threats were identified.
By 1985, most of the work was complete but, most important, a single watershed control body was still being negotiated with the federal government. In 1985, I directed that it receive top priority. Since this minister has taken office this has been stalled, and we are no further ahead on the single control body concept.
In 1985, water levels were again too high; this year they are too low. Tourism and property owners are once again suffering. When is the minister going to start moving again on this issue which is crucial to all those communities on Lake Nipissing?
In addition, last year, the advisory committee recommended remedial work on the Sturgeon River below the hydro dam to reduce flooding at the mill. MacMillan Bloedel offered to pay up to 50 per cent of the cost. An urgent request was sent to the government last year. There was no answer last year, no answer this winter, no answer this spring. When is the minister going to have the courtesy to respond to this request --
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Harris: -- to help solve a problem which threatens a major industry, not only in my riding but also between Sudbury and --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Swart: A $330-million loss reported for 1986 by the auto insurers can indicate a grave situation for motorists in this province. Of course, there is no verification that the figure is correct and it very likely will prove not to be. We know that the figure of 99.1 cents reputedly paid out of every premium dollar for claims is false. Included in those claims figures are the insurance companies' expenses for adjusting claims. The motorists do not get back anything like 99 cents on the dollar in claims payments, and that is deliberate misrepresentation by the insurance companies.
However, if the loss reported is anywhere near correct, then the private insurance system of the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter) in this province is totally out of control. It means insurance rates in Ontario for the private system have increased by 65 per cent in the last five years, with the insurers claiming to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. By comparison, rates under the driver-owned public plans in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia have increased by an average of only 11 per cent or one sixth as much, and they have all made a net profit in those five years. What a contrast.
How silly and unresponsive can the Minister of Financial Institutions be? Can he not see that his insurance system here has broken down? His patchwork measures will not solve it. In fact, they are going to make it worse. Simply, his stubborn refusal to implement a public automobile insurance plan like those in the western provinces is nothing but blind subservience to the private insurance companies at the massive expense of the motorists.
Mr. Lupusella: On June 5, 1987, the Toronto Star reported that I failed to appear before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal for an injured worker whom I was supposed to represent. Let me clearly state that prior to my decision not to represent my constituent, I had no discussion with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye).
Let me also clarify that the appeal hearing had only an indirect relationship on the outcome of my constituent's case. With Bill 101, my constituent had won the appeal before an independent appeal tribunal. Under Bill 101, the board of directors has the discretionary power to appeal that decision. With regard to my constituent's case, the board decided to exercise this power and also to review the policies behind decision 72, which indirectly affects my constituent.
In view of this indirect relationship between the policies and the general principle of the law contained in decision 72, I decided not to represent the case personally but to send a letter to the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board to be used as an exhibit at the hearing. I explained my feelings regarding the independence of the appeals tribunal and the board of directors, which has the power to set policies. I also stated that I believed the merits of the case should prevail on an individual basis rather than establishing a precedent.
Last, the son-in-law of the injured worker was aware of my decision as well.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Ashe: What you see is not what you get with the government of David Peterson. The Premier (Mr. Peterson), who so likes to be seen at all the black-tie functions around town, who fancies himself one of the intelligentsia, is the same David Peterson who has inflicted such draconian budget cuts on poor Lily and the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.
This is the same David Peterson who refuses to let legitimate bookstores open on Sunday in spite of his promises to do so; who instead sends the police to harass small businessmen who only seek to remain open when the purveyors of all sorts of other questionable materials remain free to sell their wares on Yonge Street.
The word is out. Will the real David Peterson please stand up?
In the gallery today will be representatives of a distinguished group who support the legitimate requests of the booksellers. This group includes, among others, Jane Jacobs, author; Margaret Atwood, author; Joyce Wieland, artist; William Kilbourn, historian; Peter Herrndorf, publisher of Toronto Life; Walter Moos, art dealer; Av Isaacs, art dealer; and there are many more.
When will the real David Peterson please stand up?
Mr. Speaker: I might just remind all members that it is appropriate to refer to other members by their ministry or by their riding.
BOUNDARIES ACT DECISION
Mr. Wildman: I rise to bring to the attention of the House the long, ongoing case concerning my constituent Donald Nelson of Sault Ste. Marie, who owns property on St. Joseph Island in my riding. Mr. Nelson lost property basically as a result of the Boundaries Act hearings held on March 21, 1984, and June 13 and 14, 1984, in Sault Ste. Marie by James Gardiner.
Since that time, Mr. Nelson has been attempting to get the government to review the decision of Mr. Gardiner, and he also has had the Ombudsman look into it. He has argued for many months now that the government should review the tapes of the hearings. He now has found that the government argues it did review the matter, but in fact neither the Ministry of the Attorney General nor the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations bothered to review the tapes.
How on earth could they review the case if they have not listened to the proceedings of the hearing? Mr. Nelson feels he has not been dealt with fairly and feels most aggrieved. I hope the ministers responsible will look into the matter and assure Mr. Nelson that all his rights have been protected.
KING EDWARD PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I am pleased that the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) is in the House, because I am speaking in part about his most ambitious $226-million capital expansion program. I am proud to inform the House of the 100th birthday of a school in Kitchener and the continued good use of this excellent capital equipment.
King Edward public school was built in 1887 at a cost of $3,700. King Edward school had its name changed in 1905 in honour of King Edward VII. The structure of course has been renovated and today a wing built in 1921 is one of the most distinguished pieces of architecture of which I am aware. Thousands of Ontarians have spent their formative years there. The school presently has 225 students from the core of downtown Kitchener during the day. It is filled with community activities at night and heritage language students on Saturday.
I salute the principal, Jim Moses, the staff, the students and former students and the excellent work of the anniversary planning committee made up of Sandra Chris, Barbara Hull, Randy Sangster and Thelma Van Camp. May King Edward public school continue to serve us indefinitely and well.
GREAT LAKES FOREST PRODUCTS
Mr. Hennessy: I rise in the House to comment on this government's actions regarding the closure of the Great Lakes Forest Products waferboard plant in Thunder Bay last May.
On April 29, 1986, I wrote to the Premier (Mr. Peterson), asking him to intercede in this management-labour problem at the Great Lakes plant. I asked the Premier to meet with the United Paperworkers International Union and the Great Lakes company to try to resolve the situation that existed at that time.
At that time, I suggested a moratorium would be the solution to give both parties the opportunity of evaluating the future of this plant. I understand the Premier met with the parties and discussions were undertaken. The plant shut down anyway on May 1, 1986, throwing possibly 150 people out of work. Subsequently, the then Minister of Northern Development and Mines, the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine), announced that on May 13 --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Hennessy: I am very, very sorry the Premier did not do something about it.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Conway: For some time now, we in Ontario have recognized the importance of linguistic diversity beyond Canada's two official languages. To enhance the lives of as many of our citizens as possible, the Ontario government decided some 10 years ago to begin funding heritage language instruction in elementary schools.
The growth of this heritage language program over the years has demonstrated how very important heritage language programming is to the people of Ontario. Currently, there are some 72 school boards offering more than 4,000 classes in 58 heritage languages to more than 90,000 young people.
These programs enhance the students' understanding of themselves and their linguistic and cultural background, help and encourage all students to develop their skills in using language and prepare these students for life in our multicultural society.
Approximately $11.5 million a year is currently provided by the Ontario government to school boards to fund heritage language instruction. Boards have responded by scheduling classes in a variety of ways to best meet their local needs.
There have been over the years a number of private members' bills regarding heritage language programming introduced into this Legislature, the most recent of these being Bill 80. Insofar as that bill reinforces the educational and social value of the current heritage languages program it is supported in principle by the Ontario government. However, there is concern that some aspects of that proposed legislation, Bill 80, could fragment the goals and the resources we have for education in Ontario today.
My ministry recognizes that improvements need to be made to the current policy for heritage language instruction to address some of the concerns associated with its operation and to provide additional resources for its enhancement and future development. Therefore, I am pleased to announce today a proposal for action relative to the heritage languages program. In developing this particular proposal we have tried to be sensitive to our multicultural tradition and to be concerned about providing the best educational opportunities for all our children. Our proposal involves five initiatives which I would now like to outline.
First, this initiative announced today would require a school board to provide, or to purchase from another board, instruction in a particular heritage language if parents of 25 pupils make a request of that board. Instruction would be provided after school, on nonschool days, or during an extended school day. Such an initiative reflects our commitment to educational equity for all students and helps meet the concerns of those parents who want heritage language instruction in their community.
The second initiative states that an incentive fund would be available to support training opportunities for staff currently involved in heritage language programming. This fund would be provided over three years and would recognize the central role instruction plays in providing appropriate learning opportunities for our young people. Special consideration would be given to proposals that reflect the collaboration of school boards with other boards, organizations and ethnocultural groups.
The third initiative calls for the production of a program guide to help school boards and their staff plan and provide sound heritage language instruction. Up to now, many instructors have had little access to program resource materials designed to reflect the Ontario setting for heritage language instruction. This program guide would address that issue. In addition, the Ontario Ministry of Education will encourage widespread awareness and sharing of program resource materials produced by school boards, ethnocultural organizations and other agencies.
The fourth initiative would make available an incentive fund to support production of new student learning materials, including print, non-print and software formats, that would meet provincial criteria established for our heritage languages program.
Finally, the fifth initiative involves support for research studies of the sharing of information about good practices in heritage language instruction. My ministry believes that such an information base would provide a useful resource to the further implementation of quality programs throughout Ontario.
I am releasing a discussion paper, copies of which have been distributed today, that provides more details on these initiatives. I invite response, comments and suggestions to this initiative by September 30, 1987. We believe this paper and the responses to it will provide a sound basis for government legislation to enhance our heritage languages programs in a way that makes them relevant and sensitive to all citizens in Ontario today.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN THE WORK PLACE
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Later today I will be introducing for first reading a bill to provide both workers and communities with explicit rights to know about hazardous materials and physical agents in Ontario's work places. The legislation is designed to make our province part of the new national work place hazardous materials information system, or WHMIS. The establishment of WHMIS was agreed to by provincial and federal ministers last December.
Today's bill, like its predecessor, Bill 101, which died on the order paper last February, involves four components designed to fulfil the right to know. First, the bill requires each work place to establish and maintain an inventory of all hazardous chemical and biological materials. The inventory must be prepared in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or the worker health and safety representative and it must include all hazards, both brought into the work place and generated there.
Second, the bill stipulates that each container holding a hazardous material in a work place must be identified with warning labels that can be understood easily.
Third, the bill requires the creation, maintenance and updating of a material safety data sheet for each hazardous material in the work place.
Finally, the bill requires employers to provide workers with instruction and training and to develop the relevant courses in consultation with workers.
This legislation also allows for an exemption from the requirement to make known the identity of a material if such information is judged to be a trade secret. There will still be an obligation to provide information on any hazard that is present. The bill provides for waiving of confidential requirements in a medical emergency.
Ontario has played a leading role in the creation of the WHMIS consensus. Indeed, agreement in principle was first reached at a meeting of ministers convened in Hamilton at Ontario's initiative last September. Final agreement was reached at the meeting of ministers in Toronto last December. It was also arranged at this province's initiative.
From the outset, it has been Ontario's intention to build on the national worker-right-to-know base that WHMIS is creating. This legislation does just that and goes beyond the provisions of WHMIS in three important respects. First, it covers not only chemical and biological materials but also physical agents such as laser generators. Second, it requires the creation and maintenance of inventories. Third, it provides for the community's right to know about materials in local work places that could be hazardous to the neighbourhood and beyond. This feature is unique in our country.
As honourable members examine today's bill, they will note it provides for detail in the Ontario right-to-know system to be defined by regulation. This change from Bill 101 has been necessary because WHMIS will be created at the federal level through amendments to the Hazardous Products Act. Those amendments will provide for the detail of the national system to be set out in regulation rather than in the statute itself.
I want to emphasize that WHMIS has been developed collaboratively among labour, management and government over the past five years. We must sustain the consensus that we have built and we intend to do that through a continuous ongoing review of the system.
Last December 16 I told this House that workers would soon have the right by law to clear and contemporary information on potential work place hazards and that such information would play an important part in the continuing effort to prevent work place illness and injury.
We move an important step closer today. I look forward to prompt consideration and speedy passage of this important measure.
Hon. Ms. Munro: I am pleased to inform the House that this afternoon I will be attending the official opening of the Toronto Pilot Interpreter Access Centre.
The centre, which is part of my ministry's initiative against wife assault, is the last of three pilot centres to open. The other two are in Thunder Bay and Niagara region. Both opened in May.
Being pilot projects, each centre operates slightly differently. The Thunder Bay centre is located in the offices of the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association, the Niagara region centre is located in the community information centre in Niagara Falls and the Toronto centre is located in the Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.
The Thunder Bay and Niagara region centres will be used by service organizations which work with victims of wife assault. In Toronto, the access centre will be used by women's shelters.
The languages offered also differ and are dependent on the area's demographics.
The interpreters are fully trained not only as cultural interpreters but also to specifically work with the police, hospitals and legal aid in assisting victims of wife assault.
My ministry has produced audio-visual material for the program. There is a video for use as a training tool in the interpreter training program and a slide and tape show to help immigrant women understand the issues of the wife assault program.
In addition, intercultural communication training programs for human service workers dealing with victims of wife assault are now under way. This will help the workers to provide culturally sensitive service to their clients.
As members know, my ministry's programs are part of an 11-ministry initiative. Wife battering is a criminal offence that affects all socioeconomic, racial and religious groups. I am very pleased that through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture immigrant victims of wife assault will have easier access to the services available to them.
EMPLOYMENT ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am sure that members of the House will recall my statement earlier this year concerning the serious difficulties many persons living in Ontario who have received training in other countries have had in obtaining the right to practice their profession or trade in the province.
In order to deal with this pressing issue, initially raised by many groups, including the visible minority women of the province, the cabinet committee on race relations established a two-phase process. The first phase consisted of a preliminary analysis of the impact on minorities of the various entry requirements for professions and trades. This analysis was completed by the consulting firm of Abt Associates. The consultants identified a number of entry requirements which may have an adverse impact on racial and ethnic minorities, including the evaluation and acceptance of foreign credentials, language requirements, lack of credit for foreign experience and, possibly, culturally biased testing procedures. I am pleased to table that large report today.
Now that we have confirmation of the concerns which have been raised, most particularly by members of minority groups, we are anxious to turn our minds to finding some solutions.
Accordingly, phase 2 of this important endeavour will consist of a review of the process by which one becomes entitled to practice a profession in Ontario. Requirements will be carefully assessed to determine whether, in an obvious or hidden way, they disadvantage persons with training from outside Canada. If a requirement does cause disadvantage, which is yet to be determined, it will then be examined to determine whether it can be eliminated or modified in order to minimize its impact without sacrificing necessary professional or trade standards.
Thus, we are appointing a three-person task force to conduct the review.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Honourable members will want to hear this.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The task force will be given sufficient resources to permit it to hire a director of research and a variety of researchers and consultants. Representatives of the professions and trades will, of course, be invited to work closely with the task force and its staff.
We hope the result of the work will be a series of concrete recommendations in relation to the rules and practices governing certifications in the dozen or so professions and trades. The task force will make recommendations concerning the elimination or modification of those requirements which cannot be justified as necessary to ensure the protection of the public. The task force will also make recommendations concerning ways in which foreign qualified persons can be helped to overcome those barriers which can be justified.
The members of the task force will be announced in the near future; I hope next week. It will be organized and staffed over the summer and will be operational by September 1. Its final report is due 12 months later.
I know all members of the House will want to support this important initiative and co-operate with the task force in so far as possible, so that members of these groups can obtain clear recommendations as to how professional or trade qualifications should actually be altered.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: In August 1986 I announced that my ministry, in conjunction with the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, would be conducting a survey to determine how often very low alcohol beverages are consumed by children and what problems, if any, this may cause.
I am pleased to report to my honourable colleagues that we have completed our study and, as a result, I am planning to lower the amount of alcohol allowed in these products to 0.5 per cent from the current level of one per cent.
While the survey shows consumption of these drinks by children is a relatively minor problem, when we are dealing with young people we must be more than just cautious. Under the circumstances, reducing the maximum allowable content in unregulated products is, in my view, a prudent and reasonable response.
According to the addiction research foundation, the new 0.5 per cent limit would not be expected to produce intoxicating effects in young children.
To avoid causing undue financial hardship, we will permit distributors and store operators to phase out existing stocks until September 30 of this year, after which the new maximum alcohol content for these beverages will become effective. Results of the survey are being released today and copies will be made available to all members. In reviewing the study, I am certain the members will find our action most reasonable.
Ms. Fish: I rise to respond to the extraordinary statement given today by the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), a statement on the heritage languages program, the bulk of which indicates that there is a discussion paper the minister has issued requesting responses by September 30; a discussion paper with responses by September 30, in the face of a private member's bill on heritage languages scheduled to begin deputations and hearings this very Thursday, with groups and individuals across this province coming to this Legislature to comment on a number of the items in that bill, several of which have been touched upon here in this paper.
The issue of the government's position on heritage languages has been asked repeatedly and there has been no reply. Specific questions given as to whether government papers would be available to be rolled into the hearing process were asked and no reply was given. What, then, do we have?
We have a series of initiatives that appear to amend the bill, talking about training for personnel, curriculum resource material, student materials and a study of the effectiveness of heritage languages. These are fine initiatives indeed, mentioned by the members of this party in the course of initial debate around the bill, but a series of unanswered questions surely ought to be responded to before the committee when members of the public and parents come forward to deal with the subject.
Questions like minimum size, minimum groups of 25 across a board, must they be in the same school and how will it be handled in large centres that have populations of hundreds of thousands of students. What will the funding be? Will the responsibility rest upon the local board or will the requirement for heritage languages involve increased provincial subsidy and funds? How will the decision be made on providing heritage languages: to extend a day, to provide it after school or to provide it on the weekend? If a day is extended, how then will the remaining students be dealt with?
These questions are the very questions that hearings will begin to address on Thursday, yet this minister in this government, having repeatedly indicated that a paper was forthcoming for months, could not manage to get the government's position out until three days before hearings are scheduled on another piece of legislation and invite the people to simply respond by September 30. I think that is a perfect disgrace and insult to the legislative procedure that has established public hearings to proceed on one bill.
Ms. Fish: While I speak of insults, I might turn my attention to the statement by the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) on a proposed pilot centre for interpreter access.
It would have been helpful if the minister had been kind enough to indicate the languages that would be addressed, the number to telephone, the hours of operation and the other critical things that were identified two years ago as necessary and fundamental for any adequate wife assault and wife battering programs when we deal with immigrants in this city.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN THE WORK PLACE
Mr. Gordon: We welcome the legislation that is being brought in by the government to see that hazardous goods are properly labelled, but I am little concerned that the minister is going to wait until the medical officer of health or the fire department gets in touch with him. It would seem to me the bill should be more proactive than that, and that would be one of the positive suggestions we would bring forward.
As well, in the bill the minister is talking about making sure the community has a right to know. It is one thing to say the community has a right to know what is at a particular factory, but it is another thing to make sure the community really does know. I would hope the minister would look at the bill from the point of view of amending it to see that the community is informed as to the kinds of hazardous chemicals that are stored or used at plants within urban areas.
As well, the workers in this province are going to be quite pleased to know that at last they are going to be instructed as to the kinds of chemicals they are working with and handling and, of course, we must make sure that the employers too provide adequate instruction.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nipissing for 20 seconds.
Mr Harris: Over a year ago the member from Peterborough (Mr. Turner) brought up the issue of Sarasoda and the one per cent alcohol content in beverages aimed specifically at young children. Over a year ago. Now kids, after a long day at school, will be able to have two instead of one before they ride their bikes home. This is a solution from this minister; it is a half-baked solution --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Grande: The statement that was given a few minutes ago by the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), plus the so-called white paper proposal for action that he issued, has to be the most disappointing piece of work that has been done in the last year and a half on this issue by this government.
I cannot believe that the Minister of Education would utter these words today in this document when the very same member for 12 years prior to today supported the principle of the heritage language program during school hours. Not one word was mentioned in this document that supposedly took one and a half years to prepare. This is the most incredible piece of work.
The Council of Ontario Communities has been talking with the minister and has been in consultation with him in the last hour. To the person, those who were in the minister's office are extremely disappointed about this document and this performance.
Why is it that for 10 years as a member of the opposition party he decided that the principle of heritage languages during school hours was worth while supporting and now, when he is in government, he turns right around and takes us a step backward, if anything? Why does he do that?
I think this Minister of Education and this government have a responsibility to three and a half million people in this province; they will not stand being led down the garden path by this government.
The minister had an opportunity to be innovative in this direction. He refused it. He had an opportunity to take a look at Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec to see how they are doing it. The Ministry of Education has been researching this question for the past 10 years. The minister muffed it; he really came up short today.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN THE WORK PLACE
Mr. Mackenzie: I would like to respond to the minister's statement about the right to know about work place hazards. The best I can say is that I suppose it is better late than never. This was part of the accord that should have been out some time ago, but a little is better than nothing.
The bill is not anywhere near as good as my colleague's Bill 99, and all of us know that. I am not sure that we can expect any more than the ignominious death that resulted for Bill 101 in this House.
There are two things the minister should know that concern us. One is the community right to know; it does appear to be very weak on the first reading of his bill. Secondly, the exemption to identity of a material agent if it is judged to be a trade secret is going to become known, I am sure, as the corporate or business loophole in this legislation in Ontario.
This legislation really should be replaced by my colleague's bill, and I think the minister knows it.
Mr. Swart: The proposal by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) on kiddy beer deals with only one part of the problem, and that is the danger of children becoming inebriated or intoxicated. The other, more important problem, that this as a beer-drinking training ground for children, remains. Most of the opposition from school boards, health authorities, legions and parents was on the latter ground, not the first one, that children will graduate to the real stuff at a much younger age.
If the minister had amended the Minors' Protection Act, as I had proposed when I first raised this in the House, he could have solved both problems, but as usual, if he does anything at all it is half-measures.
Mr. Grossman: My question is to the Premier. I am sure the Premier, before he signed the Meech Lake accord agreement affecting immigration, will have been aware of how the Quebec point system operates. I wonder if he could outline for the House today the ways in which the Quebec immigration point system differs from that for the rest of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend continues to flog this issue, even though he has been quite incorrect in a number of the public assertions he has made on the matter. As he knows, the federal government will set the targets across the nation. Obviously, Quebec will negotiate with them for numbers that come into Quebec, but as my honourable friend knows, those people will have the right to move to any other part of the country should they so choose, because mobility rights predominate in this particular matter. Again, I am not sure what my honourable friend's concerns are.
Mr. Grossman: Just to respond, none of the points we have raised so far has proven to be incorrect. His answers to date have been to hurl epithets but not in fact to show any knowledge whatsoever of the agreement he entered into.
With that in mind, let me repeat the question he chose not to answer. Prior to signing an agreement which would give Quebec a guarantee of 25 per cent of all immigrants coming to Canada, which is what it says, I am sure the Premier understood how the Quebec point system operates. I wonder if he could outline for the House today the way in which the Quebec point system for immigration differs from that for the rest of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: It is obvious that Quebec would like to have French-speaking immigrants. That is the whole object of the exercise, as we have discussed several other times in this House. Obviously, they have to be part of the federal targets. Obviously, they have to be worked out with Quebec in that particular regard and subscribe to the federal rules as well. There are no special provisions except that Quebec would like to have more French-speaking immigrants.
Mr. Grossman: Very simply, the Premier signed an accord that gives Quebec a guarantee of 25 per cent of all the immigration coming to Canada within the federal targets. Admit it. In order to do that, the Quebec point system will be applied to 25 per cent of the immigrants coming to Canada. Could he outline to the House how that point system, which will now determine 25 per cent of immigration to Canada, operates?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend has some fixation that he continues to flog, even though I think the vast majority of people would disagree with his particular point of view, as well as the point he is implicitly trying to make.
There is a target there for Quebec to take up to 25 per cent of the immigration, assuming it can find immigrants who so qualify under the federal point system as well as being, for Quebec's purposes, French-speaking. My honourable friend will be aware that historically Quebec has not fulfilled all those targets, as the rest of the country has not. He will be aware that the vast majority of those people come to Ontario anyway.
I am not sure what point my friend is trying to make today except that, in general terms, they would like French-speaking immigrants. There are no guarantees except the guarantee that they can apply for 25 per cent, plus or minus five per cent, of the immigrants.
Mr. Grossman: My second question for the Premier is this. Would he confirm that the accord reads as I read it? It used the word "guarantee." Notwithstanding what the Attorney General's staff said last week, that maybe he should have said it was a target, in point of fact the Premier signed an agreement giving a guarantee. Would the Premier confirm that if this operates as intended, Quebec has a guarantee that 25 per cent of the people selected to come to Canada in any year will meet its criteria as acceptable to immigration in Quebec?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The point my honourable friend is trying to make is that they are going to come out of somebody else's targets or that there is going to be a massive shift of immigrants from Ontario or Manitoba to Quebec. That just is not the case, and I wish he would stop unwittingly giving that impression. I think it has been proved by everyone who has looked at this document that he is indeed factually incorrect. I do not know why my honourable friend has taken it upon himself to take this particular approach to the matter unless it is born out of some particular problems he personally may have.
Let me say that is not the case. They will achieve 25 per cent of the overall targets. Those are targets; there has been no guarantee of that, and they can attempt to get up to that if they so desire, and other provinces can do the same thing.
Mr. Grossman: There is no need for the Premier to get insulting about it. All we need is for him to know what he signed. We just need him to know what he signed.
The Quebec point system operates significantly differently from the rest of Canada's. For the national immigration program, if you can speak English or French you get nine points towards the total number of points you need to get accepted as an immigrant. Under Quebec --
Hon. Mr. Scott: How many did you get, Larry?
Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General's insecurity is showing again.
Under the Quebec system, if you speak French, you get 15 points; if you speak English, you get two points. Quebec has been guaranteed that of the total number of immigrants coming to Canada, it has a right to have 25 per cent of them compatible with Quebec and meeting its criteria. If they fill those criteria, there we have it.
Given that 25 per cent of the immigration will be determined on the basis of people getting 15 points for speaking French and two points for speaking English, how can the Premier take the position that nothing has changed?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I say to my honourable friend, that is the whole object of the exercise, because Quebec would like to have French-speaking immigrants. As I discussed several days ago, but will repeat to my honourable friend, Quebec has always been concerned, being the only island of francophones in North America, about being washed over by a massive movement of immigration into that province. They want to reinforce their particular distinctiveness, and this is one of the ways to do that. They still have to fly under the federal target, still have to meet the federal criteria, but it is obvious what they are intending to do and what they have been doing for some time under Cullen-Couture.
The honourable member is trying to give the impression, certainly from this line of questioning and questions previously, that there is going to be some interference with family reunification. That is nonsense. It is factually incorrect, and the member knows it. I am glad he has abandoned that argument today, because it does not apply to these particular quotas. He is trying to give the sense that they are going to be stealing immigrants from some other province and that in fact is wrong. Quebec has never hit its targets, as many other provinces have not. Indeed, the federal government has announced it wants to substantially increase the targets of immigration, and none of the interferences my honourable friend talks about will happen.
Mr. Grossman: It is quite clear the Premier still does not know what document he signed.
Let us get back to the point he made. After denying it for many days, he finally acknowledged this afternoon that the point of the exercise is to find more French-speaking immigration. Let us just understand the impact of it before the Premier denies the impact. For 25 per cent of the immigration coming to Canada, the priority simply will be to find people who are French-speaking.
Hon. Mr. Scott: No, no, no.
Mr. Grossman: That is what the Premier just said. He just said that is the impact. That means, in simple terms, that whereas previously -- I will wait until the Attorney General has finished briefing the Premier.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I will remind the Leader of the Opposition that this is a final supplementary.
Mr. Grossman: Okay. Will the Premier not agree that where 25 per cent of the total immigration will be skewed specifically to achieve French-speaking immigration, that must impact on what previously was 100 per cent of the immigration, which did not come to this country fettered by a quota for a French-speaking province? Is that not what he has done?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The answer to the member's question is no, I do not agree.
Mr. Grossman: That is factually inaccurate. That is just not so.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend has been so inaccurate over the past few days --
Mr. Grossman: It is not incorrect.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I must say, to hear his approach on this thing, which is factually incorrect, and it has been established by many -- I wish my honourable friend would listen to Hugh Segal and John Tory when he interprets this and he might come out with quite a different interpretation. He may want to phone Brian Mulroney, if he does not want to discuss it with me, or some of his other friends.
My friend is alone in his interpretation; just because he believes it does not mean anybody else believes it. I think he does a disservice to this entire discussion by factually misrepresenting the case.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Bellwoods would like to ask a question.
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Minister of Labour dealing with the case of Mrs. Maria Pinaretta. I raised the case twice last week. It is decision 72, and the Workers' Compensation Board is challenging the decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal which granted Mrs. Pinaretta a pension.
The minister will know that the injured worker's representative was the member for Dovercourt (Mr. Lupusella) and that at the very last minute the injured worker's representative abandoned the injured worker, following conversations with the Minister of Labour, leaving her in jeopardy of losing in excess of $30,000 in compensation benefits.
In view of the seriousness of allegations I am making here and which were made at the Workers' Compensation Board hearing on Thursday, will the Minister of Labour tell this House exactly what transpired, what conversations took place between the Minister of Labour and the member for Dovercourt which caused the member to abandon Mrs. Pinaretta on the eve of her hearing, leaving her without representation, in extreme jeopardy and in extreme distress and forcing an adjournment of the hearing?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Apparently the member for Bellwoods did not hear the statement made by my colleague the member for Dovercourt --
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Who wrote it for him?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The member for Dovercourt wrote his own statement, I say to my friend the member for Windsor-Riverside, who so quickly intervenes -- inaccurately, as usual.
I say to the member for Bellwoods, and I will say it very clearly so he will understand there was no conversation between that honourable gentleman and this minister before the member for Dovercourt withdrew from the case at the reconsideration level in front of the appeals tribunal -- no conversation, period, full stop.
Mr. McClellan: It can be documented that on --
Mr. D. R. Cooke: Let's see the documents. Where are the documents?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mr. McClellan: On Friday the member for Dovercourt was saying to people that he had a conversation with the Minister of Labour some two or three weeks ago, that he spoke to the minister, asked him to intervene and indicated to the minister that he did not want to appear at the Pinaretta hearing when he did not know the minister's position and that he had told the minister this before he sent him this undated letter, which was an exhibit at the hearing.
I ask the Minister of Labour a second time, and I ask him to consider his answer very carefully: Were there conversations with the member for Dovercourt before the member abandoned the injured worker, repudiated his responsibility as a representative and left the injured worker without representation at a hearing in which she stood to lose, and stands to lose, pension benefits in excess of $30,000? Did he do that, and when?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I will repeat for the honourable member again, there was no conversation between the member for Dovercourt and myself prior to the letter which the member for Dovercourt sent to Dr. Elgie, which I believe Dr. Elgie received last Tuesday.
Mr. McClellan: It is an undated letter.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I will tell my friend, as I best understand it, what exactly did happen. The member for Dovercourt or an official in his office did speak with a member of my staff and with a member of the policy branch and asked for some factual help. That factual help was offered.
I learned of the decision of the member for Dovercourt to withdraw from this matter on Wednesday of last week, one day after Dr. Elgie's office received the letter. I spoke with the member for Dovercourt after question period and asked him why he intended not to proceed as Mrs. Pinaretta's representative. He informed me that he felt the review was on matters of general policy and law; rather than being a specific case, it was looking at the whole issue and the general policy issue. I said: "I have no views on this. You have represented this lady. This is your choice." The matter was left at that.
Mr. McClellan: There are a number of versions about what happened, some of which have been stated in here. Some of them have been stated outside in other places. I say to the minister quite frankly, they do not add up. Members are saying one thing in here and something else in other places, and they do not add up.
By way of supplementary, the minister made the most extraordinary statement in the Star article of Friday, in which he said the member for Dovercourt at the time expressed concern about "going against government policy" as the reason for wanting to withdraw from the case. The implication of that is that Liberal back-benchers cannot represent constituents before tribunals for fear of violating government policy.
I would like to ask the Minister of Labour, what is the matter of government policy which the member for Dovercourt was so afraid of that he left an injured worker abandoned at an important appeal hearing? Was it the right of Mrs. Pinaretta to receive benefits, was it the policy definition of "injury by accident" or was it the right of the Workers' Compensation Board to overturn decisions of the tribunal?
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: My honourable friend seems to think he can just go on and on making subtle and not-so-subtle innuendoes, which in effect says that the word of an honourable member to another honourable member is not accurate. I have twice denied it, and I want to make it clear once again that there were no prior discussions between the two gentlemen.
Mr. McClellan: Maybe you would like to read Mrs. Pinaretta's affidavit.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I can say only to my friend the member for Bellwoods that, for my part, I simply made it clear to the member for Dovercourt that the decision was his. He had represented this constituent all the way through the appeals hearings -- indeed, right through the hearings of the appeals tribunal. Obviously, the member for Dovercourt did quite an outstanding job, since Mrs. Pinaretta was successful at the appeals tribunal level. I would hope all constituents would have that kind of quality representation.
In terms of the review by the board of directors of the Workers' Compensation Board on matters of general law and policy, if he wished to play a role in that appeal and in that review, that was his business. If not, that was also his business.
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. I wonder whether the minister can tell us how the vacancy rates have improved in the past year in the following cities: Barrie, Brantford, Cornwall, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Oshawa, Peterborough and Toronto. Focusing on Metropolitan Toronto for the sake of argument, I wonder whether he can tell us how the vacancy rates have improved in Toronto in the last year.
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member has asked me if the vacancy rate has improved in Toronto. The vacancy rate did not improve in Toronto, as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. report had shown, but I would like to remind the honourable member that we had a massive immigration coming from other areas into Toronto. As fast as we can build and put up more rental units, they are being absorbed. I can further state that if we did not have the initiative we have today, the matter would be much worse than it is.
Mr. Rae: I think, for the record, the minister ought to be able to admit that in all the cities I have listed the vacancy rate is now at its lowest point in history. In Toronto, for example, the vacancy rate is 0.1 of one per cent, which means 400 vacant apartments in Toronto -- and 10 vacant apartments in the city of Oshawa, if I can use an example that brings it home.
I wonder if the minister can recall, when he made his statement in December 1985, how many new rental units a year would be necessary to deal with the housing crisis.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I would have to go back to confirm, to give the member the exact figure at that time, in order to arrest the vacancy rate there, the need there. We concentrated on the backlog and also the need that was there. The comprehensive housing initiatives that we put in place were 6,700 government-assisted housing units from the nonprofit group. That is much more than what had been in place.
I know the honourable member would like, within 18 months from formulation of the program to construction, to see a completion by time. It does take some time to have those units completed.
Mr. Rae: We are all reasonable people in this House. We have asked the minister some questions which he has not been able to answer.
Just for the minister's information, he told us in December 1985 that it was his estimate that Ontario would need 24,000 new rental units a year in order to meet the crisis. The minister will know that in 1986 only 10,900 units were built and CMHC estimates that in 1987 only 13,800 rental units will be built, which means that in a two-year period we are falling about 25,000 units behind. We are meeting about half the need in Ontario today.
I wonder if the minister can explain to the House why it is that none of the government's targets have been met and that his promises in the accord have not been met with respect to projections of new nonprofit housing starts and affordable housing starts. We have working families today who are not able to find any place to live.
The families that are getting into Ontario Housing today are, by virtue of the statements made by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) and changes in policy in the government, women who can prove they have been battered. I have constituents lined up at my door who cannot meet the new point system established, who are not able to find housing and who are doubled up and tripled up in their apartments. Every member in this House has the same situation. Just when is the minister going to start to meet his promises on affordable housing for working families in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Again, the honourable member is incorrect in his statistics. In government-assisted housing, for the last 18 months, we have committed 23,410 units. The rental starts in 1986 were 10,320.
Mr. Wildman: That is what he said.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Of course, he was correct in that. We have also seen a very aggressive ownership building that took place in the past two years. To say that we have not met our quota -- I would say that what we have seen in the past 18 months, this province has not seen in the past 10 years.
Mr. Grossman: I have a new question for the Premier. To use the words of the Meech Lake accord, would the Premier not agree that the federal government, in making Canada pension plan and disabled changes, had as the national objective that all disabled persons receiving CPP would get $150 a month increase? Would he not agree that was the national objective?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: No, I do not think so.
Mr. Grossman: The Premier really would not?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: Let me refer the Premier to two things. First, in an article from December 15, 1985, his Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) hailed these changes as "quite a breakthrough" and he agreed with all the others that there would be these kinds of changes to CPP and disabled support. Second is the letter from the Minister of National Health and Welfare indicating specifically to the provincial ministers that it is the national intention to increase the disabled CPP provisions net by $150 a month and specifically saying that no money should be deducted by the provincial governments.
Given these two documents, would the Premier not agree that he is in a position where he has, on this program, thwarted a national objective clearly set out by the federal government? Therefore, he has shown specifically how the accord will encourage people like him to thwart the national objective, which in this case was clearly to put $150 a month into the pockets of the disabled.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: With great respect, I think that is nonsense and I think my honourable friend knows it. As I understand it, all the other provinces responded in general terms the way the province of Ontario did. The members saw massive new transfers into the hands of the disabled, making it fair and not creating two classes of disabled. This is the kind of flexibility that is allowed under co-operative federalism.
We have made substantial contributions to the disabled. One can argue it is not enough and that is a reasonable point. However, I can tell my honourable friend we believe we have taken this national program, as the other provinces have, and built on it to serve the disabled community at large. We think that is a better social objective and a better deployment of those funds.
Mr. Speaker: Is there a new question?
The member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) would like the attention of the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Swart: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Might I remind the minister of his statement of April 23, which contained these exact words: "Effective immediately, the rates for all automobile insurance categories are capped at the levels in force today." The minister will know that this in fact has not taken place. Will the minister tell this House about, and table, the directive or directives which he sent to insurance companies as a result of that statement?
I do not want an explanation of what the caps are. I know that. I want to know what the minister told the insurance companies they had to do.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know what that refers to is that the various categories that are in place to be used for rating policies were capped as of April 23 and they were informed that this was the case.
Mr. Swart: I have to say that is a pretty convoluted interpretation of the words "effective immediately" which were given on April 23.
I have a letter here, dated April 27, just four days later, from the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Co. of Canada to all its brokers in Ontario. It says it will comply with legislation but then makes this statement: "It may be some time before the proposed legislation is enacted and, in the meantime, we are advised by the ministry to continue business as usual including the rate adjustments announced on April 8, 1987 for Personal Automobile and on April 20, 1987 for Commercial Automobile, both effective May 1, 1987, for New Business, and June 1, 1987 for Renewals."
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Swart: That statement is directly contrary to the minister's promise of "effective immediately" capping on April 23. The minister was, and is, telling the motorists of this province one thing and telling the insurance companies another. Is it not correct that the minister has deliberately misled this House and the motorists of this province?
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. I think the member for Welland-Thorold should reconsider what he just stated. Please withdraw the words "deliberately misled."
Mr. Speaker: Would the member withdraw?
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, this minister has been using the insurance companies' lies --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Yes or no?
Mr. Swart: -- and distortions about the western plan, time and time again in this House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Yes or no?
Mr. Swart: Respectfully, no.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I have no choice but to name the member. Please assist the member.
Mr. Swart left the chamber.
Mr. Rowe: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. On May 28, I asked the minister why he allowed the Innisfil land site to continue to operate without taking appropriate measures to ensure that it would not contaminate the drinking water of nearby residents. I wonder if the minister can answer my question now.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: First, I should indicate that the chronology the honourable member gave was not exactly accurate. He suggested, for instance, that the dump had been closed down, the implication being that certificates of approval had been revoked. They had not. As he knows, the operators had lost the contract with the community and another operator got the contract. On the next tendering, it went back to the people who actually own this site. That is the background there.
Further, I want to tell the member that previous to his asking the question -- he may recall that it was probably a couple of weeks before that -- there had been a meeting between officials of the Ministry of the Environment and residents to discuss this particular matter, and all along there has been continued discussions with them. On Friday, May 29, there were further discussions and the ministry demanded a remedial action plan, which I would expect within 10 days of now, to deal with the implications of the problems at the site. In my view, there is clearly a need for that remedial action and I have ordered it.
Mr. Rowe: "Continued discussions" are about all the minister has done for the last two years with respect to this site. Tests undertaken by his ministry just last week revealed that a marsh located beside the dump is contaminated with chlorides, heavy metals, toluene and phenols at levels 500 times the acceptable limit for drinking water.
Why has the minister allowed this dump site to continue operating for the past 24 months without taking steps to protect either the local residents or the environment? With respect, the minister has sat there for 24 months and has done nothing.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member will be aware that tests have been conducted on various occasions on the drinking water, the well water, that exists in that particular area, and that consistently the tests have indicated that it meets all the objectives of Ontario. We have been doing that testing, we have been doing that monitoring and we have in place a remedial action plan at the present time we think can be effective, which will in fact involve collecting the leachate.
The member will also be aware -- and this is always a matter of concern, I know -- it is the underlying material that is there, that, unlike some situations we are confronted with in the province, there is a fairly heavy clay belt underneath. In fact, I know my friend will be aware that up in his area there are other sites where that is not in existence and the hydrogeology is such that problems are considerably worse. However, we are taking that remedial action because we think it is necessary, and I think the member will find this action will be effective.
MONITORING PRISONERS ON LEAVE
Ms. Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of Correctional Services. In his leadoff for the Correctional Services estimates last January, the minister said he was investigating new techniques such as electronic monitoring of prisoners on leave, but he also admitted "that it was a new and as yet largely untried concept whose ethical and practical implications will have to be explored in considerable depth."
Why is the minister now announcing to the press but not to the House that his ministry is planning to undertake a pilot program this year to test the use of an ankle bracelet with a transmitter to monitor prisoners serving sentences at home on weekends? Has he fully explored the human rights implications of monitoring prisoners in the same way that wildlife researchers monitor animals and whether the use of such technologies is an invasion of privacy?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: In trying to address one of the questions, it was a part of our estimates and it is still very much under study now as it was then. The issue was raised by the media as to whether any consideration had ever been given to it. I assume that was raised by them because of the ongoing experiment in British Columbia as well as in the United States.
We have not made definite plans because it is such a contentious issue. We are very much aware of the concerns for human rights. Before any program is entered into, it has to be very thoroughly thought out to see the implications for those persons and for society in general.
Ms. Bryden: I understand this device, which is also named the electronic garter, was rejected by the federal government last January because of fears that it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Will the minister undertake to put his plans for use of this technology on hold until he has consulted with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and experts on the charter and has also investigated methods of reducing overcrowding in our jails by developing more constructive alternatives to incarceration?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I think the record will show we have been working in great depth for alternatives to incarceration within the community over the two years of my ministry. The whole issue is not something we have put on hold but continue in an ongoing study. It is our responsibility to see what type of alternatives we can provide that are humane and are responsible actions of a caring government.
I believe also it was a private agency that rejected the use of the devices rather than the federal government.
Mr. McGuigan: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I understand we have lost the appeal to the US Supreme Court. This was the case set out by the Carter administration that transboundary pollution was a problem and should be dealt with.
What, if any, further remedies can be taken for what up to this time has been an undeclared war on our environment?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I thought you would ask this question, Larry.
Mr. Grossman: This is the question you answered last week.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: As members of the House, including my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), who makes reference to last week, will be aware, there has been an ongoing court case in which Ontario is one of the participants, along with a number of US states. That case has attempted to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency commitment, in my view, in 1980-81 that there be an ordering of those states which are producing acid rain to come up with a viable and useful program to abate it.
What has happened is that at the Supreme Court, we appealed the Court of Appeal's --
Mr. Rae: We know what has happened. We don't need the background.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I think members need some background.
Mr. Rae: No, we don't need the backfill.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The leader of the third party wants background and I thought he might want to listen. What has happened is in a --
Mr. Rae: You have more landfill in your answers than there is in the province.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I am trying to answer this question and I am subjected to amusing interjections by the leader of the third party.
Mr. Speaker: Good point.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Anyway, what has happened, in effect, is that the Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Ontario and the several states.
Mrs. Grier: The question was, what are you going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I think what is significant about this -- and the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) will be interested in this -- what is particularly significant about this case is the fact that the other side in the case, the EPA, used the fact that it was alleged that the federal government in the US and the federal government in Canada were in fact dealing with this problem. It is a clear indication that when that action is inadequate between the two, we should not give any credence to this south of the border.
Mr. McGuigan: I understand we have lost in another respect, that the Reagan administration now has given up funding for research to try to help alleviate this problem. I wonder whether the minister could comment on that.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member probably heard media reports this morning that the US administration was going to cease its efforts into research on the cost implications of implementing acid rain abatement legislation regulations.
In my view, the reason for that is obvious. Some of the information has been derived from consulting firms that have done work for US senators and congressmen and these consulting firms have clearly demonstrated that there would be a job gain and a tremendous economic gain from the implementation of these controls.
The administration seems to want to throw millions upon millions of dollars into something that will simply postpone the day of reckoning for the clean-coal technology and postpone the day of reckoning for polluters in the US, instead of putting it into what I think would be viable research and that is demonstrating clearly why acid rain abatement legislation regulations would be a total benefit to the United States. It is disappointing but not surprising that the administration has decided to abandon that, but I am sure several congressmen will want to see it pursued.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Ashe: My question is for the Premier and deals with a topic he is somewhat familiar with, conflict of interest. Does the Premier think it is proper for a member of his cabinet to participate in cabinet discussions on a matter about which he represented a customer or a client before being sworn in to that cabinet post?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I assume the member is referring to his bill and I gather he is referring to something previously done in a previous incarnation by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott). If the member is suggesting there is anything improper, he should please let me know.
Mr. Ashe: I am not quite sure what that answer was, whether he said it was or it was not proper. In any event, let me be more specific in my supplementary.
Does the Premier really believe that it is proper for the Attorney General, the person he relies on so much, to have involved himself in the issue of the opening of legitimate bookstores on Sunday when he represented the same bookstores' owners, albeit I understand he had a falling out with them, before joining cabinet? Is this the real reason why third reading of Bill 188 has been delayed or blocked, because the Attorney General told the Premier to do so, so that he could get even? I am surprised that would be the case. Is it so?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My friend will rest assured that this very clearly is not the case, and I am not sure how he could have the temerity even to suggest it was the case. What the member will find from the executive council of this government is dispassionate, objective, well thought out opinions on every single subject.
Mr. Grande: My question is to the Minister of Education. His party for the past 10 years has taken a position in this Legislature of supporting heritage languages programs during the school day and his party as late as December 18 supported Bill 80 unanimously in this Legislature and therefore supported the principle.
In the standing committee on social development in February of this year, the minister said he was going to introduce policy direction, which means he was going to talk about heritage languages during the school day. I would like to find out and I am sure thousands of other people in this province would like to find out what happened between February of this year and today that made the minister change his mind completely, 180 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I believe the announcement today of our proposal will be well received by the community, not only by those who have a keen interest in the heritage languages program but also by the broad educational community and others with an important view and interest in this area.
We have announced our intention to move forward in five very important areas. I want to have the advice of the community between now and the end of September. I say to my honourable friend, again, we have in our proposals recognized that local communities and local boards have an important role to play. We have said, for example, that school boards will now be required to provide heritage language instruction where the parents of 25 students so request. We have said that additional resources are going to be applied to teacher training and to the development of learning materials.
I think that reasonable people will see this initiative, and hopefully the responses to the paper, as very positive steps forward in an area that is not only important in terms of the educational community but also speaks directly to the very important multicultural reality that is so central to a modern Ontario.
Mr. Grande: I do not know where the minister has been in the last 10 to 12 years. I really do not know. He is taking us back at least one dozen years in regard to this.
Does the minister realize that what he has done today is to signal to all the school boards in the province of Ontario and to all the other people who have legitimate concerns about Bill 80 - and they will be coming before the social development committee to talk to us about those concerns -- that he is not interested in the heritage languages program during school hours? Does the minister realize that he has done that? Since the minister --
Mr. Speaker: That was a good question. A very good question. Do you realize, minister?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would like to address that question very directly and, hopefully, very briefly by saying that I do not share the honourable member's assessment at all. We have introduced a policy paper that speaks very directly to a number of very significant concerns, not the least of which, of course, is the requirement that this paper contains that a board must now provide heritage language instruction where the parents of 25 pupils within that jurisdiction request it.
I want to say that I have listened, along with my colleagues from communities like Yorkview and Downsview and York East and Parkdale and Brampton and elsewhere, to a number of people who have said that it is important as well to dedicate more resources to the area of teacher training and learning materials development. Those key areas are also addressed.
My responsibility as Minister of Education is to ensure that we have a school system that is sensitive to the very important multicultural reality to which I have spoken. I have said, as well, that we want to ensure that what we do in the area of heritage languages is in the context of the best possible educational opportunity for all in the province of Ontario. I believe that is what this proposal speaks to, and that is why I think it will be favourably received by reasonable people across the province.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Could he please advise this House by how much he overspent his ministry budget last year and where those moneys were allocated?
Hon. Mr. Curling: That is a very good question to which I cannot give a precise answer at the moment. I will take that as notice and get back to the member on it.
Mr. Jackson: It is quite unusual, because the minister and I had somewhat of an exchange on this very subject last Thursday in this House. For the refreshment of his memory, he underspent his budget in his first year by $25 million. He was 10 per cent under budget. In his second year, he was $67 million or 20 per cent under budget.
Hon. Mr. Scott: You asked him if he overspent.
Mr. Jackson: The minister does not even know if he overspent. That is the point.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It seems there is a debate going on here among a number of members. I ask the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) to place a supplementary question.
Mr. Jackson: My supplementary question has to do with the statement that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) put into his budget where he said that the provision of affordable housing still remains a challenge for his minister. Given that the minister is underspending at that rate and is unable to communicate to this House how he is resolving the growing housing crisis in Ontario, will he be underspending by 30 per cent and further compounding the housing crisis in this province at the rate he is going?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member is asking for exact figures. I told him I did not have them. What he does not realize is that the programs we have put in place are taking more time to get on stream. As he is quite aware, that is because of the details of Bill 51 and the setting up of the rent review board.
Many programs did not come on stream earlier and, as a fiscally responsible government, we do not intend to spend the money before the programs are in place. If the member is suggesting that we should spend all the money in that short time, I have to wonder. Maybe that is how the previous government behaved. The member can rest assured that with the programs in place early, all the money that we have this time will be spent properly.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. On May 6, the minister in answer to a question from me stated: "The members are looking at the minister who agreed with the federal government to set aside one of the finest and largest tracts of land in the Bruce Peninsula for a new national park, one of the first in this province in many years."
While it is true that in the fall of 1986 the federal Minister of the Environment announced that an agreement would be signed, nothing has been done as yet. There is still no agreement; there is still no national park. Could the minister explain what exactly he is trying to take credit for? Is he really taking credit for the bungling and stalling by his ministry which has meant that we still do not have a national park in the Bruce Peninsula?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I guess it is quite a lesson in the Legislature to hear the kind of comments that those members would like to get on the record. They vary so far from the reality that sometimes one hardly wishes to respond.
The member knows full well that the commitment on the part of the Ontario government to have Bruce declared as a federal park is a major undertaking required to initiate the whole program. Without the will of this ministry to undertake that kind of proposal with the federal government, we would not even be talking about a national park in the Bruce Peninsula.
I have to tell the member that I feel a great deal of pride that this particular government is moving forward in a direction that is going to please a great many Ontarians when we see a national park up in the Bruce Peninsula. We are waiting for the details to sign that agreement, and I would think they are not far from being forthcoming in the immediate future.
Mr. Wildman: In view of the minister's statement about a commitment and a will to establish a national park, can he explain why it is that 3,088 acres of land at Driftwood Cove with about five miles of shoreline, including the Bruce Trail, have been sold into private hands and were not purchased by his ministry or the federal government for this park? Why did his ministry allow this land, which should have been part of the national park, to be sold into private hands? Will he make a commitment that he will ensure that this does not happen in the future?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked twice.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I suppose that if we were to adhere to the policy of that particular party, all the land in the country would be owned by the government. That is just not the case in this province. There is a good mix of a resolve to have the private sector and the government and all the other players participate to the fullest in this province.
Mr. Rae: Oh, it is coming now. I see it very clearly now. Now we are getting it. Now give us the Bill Jarvis stuff.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I wish the leader of the third party would be quiet, because as much as he thinks he does, he does not know everything. There are things he could learn right here in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: It is very difficult to respond in a way that is sensible if that gentleman is going to interfere to the degree he does. I have to tell the leader of the third party he does not know what he is talking about.
Mr. Jackson: I have another question for the Minister of Housing. Could the minister please tell this House how many rental units his government has constructed in the last year and a half under his Renterprise program which was to deliver 5,000 new units to Ontario residents? In the last year and a half, how many have been completed?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The Renterprise program was a highly successful program by the government. On our first call, we had aimed for 5,000 units to be built under the Renterprise program. We got a tremendous response on our first call and we had a second call on that.
We are very proud to note that the Renterprise program is working effectively. There were some projects that were taken that were returned because some of the builders felt they could do it on their own. The program is doing very well.
Mr. Jackson: It is unfortunate the minister does not understand his own figures. The truth is that his program fell short by almost 1,400 units in a year and a half.
Is the minister going to extend this program, or is he going to admit publicly that it has fallen miserably short of its targets and that he is going to try to come up with some alternative? Is he going to extend the program in the hope that it might work, or is he going to admit publicly that it is not meeting its targets?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The program works very effectively. Whether we will extend the program is a matter under consideration. We had two calls on this program. Those in the opposition felt that no one would take on this program. The matter of whether we will have another call is under consideration.
ARGOSY FINANCIAL GROUP OF CANADA LTD.
Mr. Philip: I have a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On May 28, the report of the standing committee on the Ombudsman was tabled in this House. Both the majority and the minority reports advocated some form of compensation to the victims of the Argosy collapse. Now that the minister has had time to read both those reports, can he tell us what his position is? Will there be some form of compensation to the victims of Argosy?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know that the committee report stated that there was no regulatory failure and felt that there should be no compensation; however, it suggested that we should take a look at some ex gratia payment to a level of 25 per cent. We are in the process of taking a look at it.
Mr. Philip: The minister will be aware that, in opposition, his party clearly advocated compensation for the Argosy victims. Can the minister tell us when a decision will be taken as to whether these victims will be compensated by his ministry? What is the date?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I cannot give the member a date. It is a situation that will be considered first by my ministry and then a reference will be made to the cabinet. That will be a government decision.
Mr. Rowe: I have a question to the Ministry of the Environment regarding the Innisfil landfill site. Can the minister tell me what remedial action he is taking which I anticipate will be pumping the leachate back over the garbage? Can he tell me how that will take this contaminated plume out of the ground near the neighbours' houses?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member is, of course, presuming that is the case. As I indicated to him in response to his question earlier in question period, in fact the Ministry of the Environment is consulting with the owner, the operator and the consultant. As I indicated, I expect that, certainly within 10 days, perhaps even by the end of this week, we will have a remedial action plan. That plan will be one that has to meet the requirements of the Ministry of the Environment.
I think the member has indicated that he believes there is a certain plan of action that has been agreed upon. I can indicate clearly to the member that is not the case. Rather, what we did was to go into some testing in that area. It has been ongoing testing. We identified the problem that exists. We looked at the extent of the problem, how far the plume would move, for instance, and where the leachate might be. When that has been identified, we will be in a better position to determine the specific remedial action that might be taken.
It is my view that it must be the best possible remedial action that can be taken, because if we do not implement that, as the member knows, there will be an opportunity then for the plume to be extended farther and there will be an opportunity for the leachate to escape to other places. The plan he has suggested is the case is not necessarily so. I will be happy to share that particular plan with him since he represents the area.
Mr. Pollock: I have a petition that reads:
"To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the government of Ontario provide the funding for a haemo-dialysis unit for one of the hospitals in Peterborough."
It is signed by some members of Peterborough county council and residents of the county of Peterborough.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
Mr. Callahan from the select committee on health presented a report and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr. Callahan: Briefly, I would like to thank all the people who assisted us, both staff and members of the committee, in allowing us to arrive at an interim report. As the members of the House will know, the select committee was struck in July 1986. We met and determined that we would deal with this issue first. We met during March and April 1987 and this report is an interim report with our findings. The focus was on availability, affordability and quality, and the report itself contains an analysis of our findings in that regard.
I indicate as well that there was a dissenting opinion rendered by the members of the third party.
Those are my comments.
On motion by Mr. Callahan, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wrye moved first reading of Bill 79, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Motion agreed to.
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Keyes moved first reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to.
OTTAWA CIVIL SERVICE RECREATIONAL ASSOCIATION ACT
Mr. Sterling moved, on behalf of Mr. Bennett, first reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Ottawa Civil Service Recreational Association.
Motion agreed to.
PORT STANLEY TERMINAL RAIL INCORPORATED ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Ms. E. J. Smith, first reading of Bill Pr18, An Act respecting Port Stanley Terminal Rail Incorporated
Motion agreed to.
CONSTRUCTION LIEN AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 82, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: Today, I have introduced a bill repealing the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act, first enacted in 1975. Prior to that year, those companies that supplied labour, materials and services to contractors and subcontractors employed by ministries and agencies of the Ontario government to carry out construction projects were protected by the Public Works Creditors Payment Act in the event contractors or subcontractors did not pay their suppliers. In 1975, that act was repealed and all other ministries and agencies of the Ontario government became subject to the Mechanics' Lien Act, now the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
Recent events have revealed a number of shortcomings in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act. Although some thought was given to amending the act to correct its deficiencies, a submission by the Ontario Road Builders' Association caused my ministry to review the pros and cons of adopting the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
After an extensive review, it was decided that the ministry should bring its construction activities under the scheme created by the Construction Lien Act, 1983. Claims arising under contracts awarded prior to the date this bill comes into force will continue to be dealt with under the provisions of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS CREDITORS PAYMENT REPEAL ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 83, An Act to repeal the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: This bill will bring claims related to the construction of the ministry's highways, which in the past have been uniquely subject to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act, under the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
CANADA CHRISTIAN COLLEGE AND SCHOOL OF GRADUATE THEOLOGICAL STUDIES ACT
Mr. Allen moved first reading of Bill Pr1, An Act respecting Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies.
Motion agreed to.
RACE TRACKS TAX ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 84, An Act to revise the Race Tracks Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: These are relatively minor housekeeping adjustments.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ADONA PROPERTIES LIMITED ACT
Ms. Fish moved second reading of Bill Pr2, An Act to revive Adona Properties Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
QUETICO FOUNDATION ACT
Ms. Fish moved, on behalf of Mr. Bernier, second reading of Bill Pr11, An Act to revive The Quetico Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWN OF LINDSAY ACT
Mr. G. I. Miller moved second reading of Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Town of Lindsay.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY ACT
Ms. Fish moved second reading of Bill Pr39, An Act respecting Canadian Opera Company.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
House in committee of the whole.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT
Consideration of Bill 34, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy.
Mr. Chairman: We have in front of us Bill 34. Do any honourable members have any questions, comments or amendments to any sections, and if so, to what sections?
Ms. Gigantes: I believe the amendments I would like to place now are the first that will come in the bill.
I move that the definition of "institution" --
Mr. Chairman: Excuse me. Rather than move them at this point, we are just listing them. I have changes to the definitions, subsections 2(1) and 2(3) and to section 10a. Are those Ms. Gigantes's only two amendments?
Ms. Gigantes: No.
Mr. Chairman: Section 23.
Ms. Gigantes: Yes.
Mr. Chairman: I have two amendments --
Ms. Gigantes: Four.
Mr. Chairman: -- three, four, five; five amendments to section 23. Am I correct?
Ms. Gigantes: Four.
Mr. Sterling: I think there is one of mine there.
Ms. Gigantes: Five. You are right, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Yes, thank you. There is another amendment to section 23 that is not hers. Excuse me, members, I am just getting the amendments of the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) out of the way. That appears to be it. Am I correct?
The member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) has some amendments.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I was going to try to correlate them for you. I have an amendment to section 10 and I also have an amendment to section 23. The member for Ottawa Centre has four amendments to section 23. I have amendments to section 59, an amendment to section 68 and an amendment to section 72.
Mr. Chairman: That amendment to section 68 is the addition of a section 68a. Am I correct?
Mr. Sterling: That is correct.
Mr. Chairman: The amendment to section 10 is the addition of a section 10a, and you have two amendments to section 59; is that correct?
Mr. Sterling: That is correct.
Mr. Chairman: Thank you. Are there any other amendments, comments and questions of any members to any sections, and if so, to what sections? There being none, it appears that the first amendment we have is to subsection 2(1).
Section 1 agreed to.
On section 2:
Ms. Gigantes: I move that the definition of "institution" in subsection 2(1) of the bill as reprinted as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
"(ab) any university in Ontario, and"
Mr. Chairman: May I point out to the member that she is amending subsection 2(1). Correct? The wording you used is different from the copy I have in front of me. Do you have another copy? For example, the words you read are not the same as those in your amendment, "as reprinted by the Legislative Assembly committee.''
Ms. Gigantes: That is correct, Mr. Chairman. I read it correctly.
Mr. Chairman: Yes, and that is not in my copy, so may I please have a copy of the amendment as read out by you?
Mr. Chairman: Ms. Gigantes moves that the definition of "institution" in subsection 2(1) of the bill as reprinted as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
"(ab) any university in Ontario, and"
Ms. Gigantes: Members will note that the reprinted version of the bill has an amendment to this section. In fact, this section is an amendment. What we have attempted to do is to make provision for governmental organizations other than the province of Ontario to come under the aegis of this legislation, or this legislation amended more probably, within a three-year period.
The members will notice that clause 2(1)(b), which has been added to the definition of "institution" in the bill: "the corporation of every municipality in Ontario, every local board as defined by the Municipal Affairs Act, every authority, board, commission, corporation, office or organization of persons whose members or officers are appointed or chosen by or under the authority of the council of the corporation of a municipality in Ontario," on page 5 of the reprinted bill as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee, is subject to being folded into the coverage of this bill, under subsection 2(3), three years after the coming into effect of this legislation.
The amendment before the committee right now is one which would add that coverage for universities in Ontario. I believe it was the intent of the committee in extending this legislation to say that within three years we would have access to information, in particular access to information but also personal privacy protection for residents of Ontario in these other organizations.
It is something that all members of the Legislature will recognize the need for and we also would like to make sure that is true in terms of the relationship of individual citizens with the universities of this province. The universities have had some qualms about having this particular bill applied to them as is, as would other organizations which have been mentioned in clause 2(1)(b). However, the government will be put on notice that the amendments required to make these organizations fit easily under the bill would be required within three years.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I apologize for being late.
This amendment was moved in this form or a similar form in the committee and I believe it was rejected by the committee. Like the honourable member and probably most members in the House, I believe that freedom of information -- both the principle and the practice -- should be taken to universities across Ontario at an early date.
We do not believe, however, that this bill is the form in which freedom of information should come to the universities in Ontario. The problems that confront our universities in Ontario are very different from the problems that confront government. I would regard the appropriate response to be to develop a bill for universities if they indicate any unwillingness in the next short period of time to develop freedom of information processes of their own. It is for that reason the government will be opposing the amendment.
Mr. McFadden: I would like to rise here to speak very briefly in opposition to this particular amendment. Until about April of this year, I was our party's critic of Colleges and Universities and, over the two-year period I had that particular position I had the opportunity to travel and visit most of the universities in this province.
In addition to that, I have also had the opportunity to talk with university administration officials, members of faculty, students and so on about the problems on the various campuses, and also about a very important and critical issue I believe is very present in post-secondary education. That is really the question of the autonomy of our institutions of post-secondary education, particularly in the university sector.
It seems to me that in this Legislature we should be trying to foster and develop enhanced autonomy within our universities. I know very substantial public funding is provided to our universities, perhaps to an unhealthy extent in the case of some of them, but the fact is that the universities are substantially publicly funded.
My concern about this particular amendment is that it is my very strong view that this amendment would transmit to the public, and certainly to the universities, that the universities are considered to be within the same classification as ministries of the Ontario government, various municipal corporations and government agencies, boards and commissions. It is my view that the universities are not in the same classification as Ontario Hydro, the Ministry of the Attorney General or the government of the city of Toronto.
In the case of these various public bodies mentioned right now under subsection 2(1) in the definition of "institution," in each case these bodies are managed either by elected officials or by directors and officials appointed by government. In this province, we have a long and I think very distinguished tradition of respecting the autonomy of our universities. I know that the universities today are not happy with this amendment and certainly I think it would be premature for us simply to add universities to this definition of "institution."
I question as well, even down the line, whether we should go ahead and have universities brought into the ambit of government institutions. I think there is real merit for us to be fostering in Ontario university institutions that are independent, have a substantial degree of freedom from government direction and have an ability to make their own decisions without coercion from government in any way, shape or form. It seems to me that kind of freedom is a necessary ingredient of a strong system of post-secondary education.
Perhaps not everybody agrees that freedom of information legislation would in any way impair that, but I suggest that the direction and context in which this amendment is made tends to work against a time-honoured tradition of university autonomy in this province. I suggest this amendment should involve considerably more thought than passing it today. I suggest the views of the boards of governors of the universities across Ontario should be more actively explored. I cannot tell what they will recommend to this House and to the minister, but I do not think the various boards of governors and the university administrations are going to be too happy with the inclusion of universities with ministries of the government, municipal corporations and government agencies, boards and commissions.
If anything, the inclusion of universities under this definition would confirm a real worry that is developing within the university system about the amount of government direction that is starting to occur within its institutions. This would simply confirm that worry and I suggest would in the long run be hurtful to university autonomy.
Therefore, I would not support this particular motion at this time. Perhaps at a later date, after the university community has been fully canvassed and these issues of university autonomy and freedom have been addressed, it could be brought back to the House for some further consideration. Certainly, my position and our position is that this amendment is premature, and we would even go so far as to say that at this stage it would be contrary to good public policy.
Ms. Gigantes: It is clear that this motion will not pass, but I am going to say a few more words on the subject of the motion.
First of all, the way the member for Eglinton (Mr. McFadden) has addressed the question has been to suggest that we never have policy issues involving access to information or requiring documentation that could come through the provision of information through access-to-information legislation such as this at the level of our universities in Ontario. That is simply not the case and he knows that.
On the whole question of the makeup of our faculties, "Do we have Canadian-trained faculties?" was a question which, a few years back, was of enormous import in Ontario. In order to find out whether we had Canadian-trained faculties and what kind of Canadian content was in the programs at our universities, we sought access to information from those universities. Some of my colleagues had a great deal of difficulty getting any information from the universities.
The same kinds of issues come up when we are looking at the question of how many women or people of visible minority background or immigrant background are appointed in our universities. What effect does that have upon the training of the people who will be coming through our universities and out into positions of influence in our society over the next five or 10 years? Those are very large questions.
I want to tell both the member for Eglinton and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) something they know, which is that every ministry of government, every agency of government, every municipal corporation, every one of the institutions for which we are providing some framework for access to information under this legislation feels that it is a unique institution, a unique organization. None other is like it in Ontario, and a general bill cannot be applied to it. Of course, the universities will make that claim. They have done it very strongly and clearly in defence of their interests as they see them, which is perfectly acceptable.
However, we are providing, by way of this motion, that within three years all this consultation and noninjudicious haste that the member for Eglinton refers to should operate. In fact, the universities could come forward, knowing full well that the bill would apply to them in one form or another within three years; they could make us, as a Legislature, some decent proposals about how they should be brought into the structure of this legislation.
They should be in it. We all know they should be in it, and at this stage it is silly to say that the other elements of our governmental structure in Ontario that we provide for within the bill will be brought in within three years but universities will not be. That is nothing but silliness.
Mr. McFadden: On the point raised by the member for Ottawa Centre: actually, in her remarks she confirmed the worry I had; she equated the universities with other public agencies and government bodies. I do not know that the universities consider themselves to be public agencies or government bodies. I certainly have never felt that the University of Toronto is a public agency. I think it is an autonomous institution of higher learning. It seems to me that there is a real merit in maintaining that kind of independence from government for institutions of higher learning, for all kinds of reasons.
What she has just confirmed is exactly what I was concerned about. I can understand a special provision or even a special act that might provide to students and others some special rights or a code of rights in connection with the institution itself or in relation to specific items of information that may relate to them on the campuses and so on, but I find that to equate the Ontario university system to government boards, commissions and agencies is exactly what I was concerned about.
I do not know what the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) feels about this. I suppose he supports the situation but I, for one, cannot and would not support the equation of Ontario's universities with public bodies and government boards, commissions and agencies.
If that is what the honourable member thinks they are, then the universities do have a lot to worry about, because that is not how they view themselves. That would mean a major philosophical change in terms of the government's attitude towards the universities. I do not believe any government in Ontario until now has viewed the universities of Ontario as being on the same level as government boards, commissions and departments.
Mr. Philip: This is on the same point. If we look at some of the history of the relationship of the government with the University of Toronto, and indeed with some other universities in this province, we see a very strange relationship, particularly with ministers such as Dunlop. We see Conservative ministers who, in fact, had very direct relationships -- indeed, I might say very directive types of relationships -- with the university.
Anyone who has done any historical research would know that there were some very questionable ways in which universities have been dictated to by the back door rather than through the front door, and that many staffs, many of the public, and indeed the students and people who were interested in academic freedom, would have loved, over the years, to have access to certain documents to find out exactly where the directives were coming from and why certain major changes took place, in such things as continuing education at the University of Toronto, for no apparent reason other than the fact that it hurt the sensitivities of the then Conservative government.
What my colleague may be arguing for is actually more freedom of the universities through a more open system, a system in which we would all know where the decisions were being made and why they were being made. In fact, this may be an argument for more freedom rather than the kinds of things which, historically, have gone on under the previous Conservative governments and hopefully will not go on under the present Liberal government.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I have nothing to add. I am grateful to the honourable members for their useful comments. We are opposed, for the reasons I gave, to the inclusion of the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: Ms. Gigantes has moved the amendment to subsection 2(1) of the bill. Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Ms. Gigantes: I will withdraw the amendment which is attached to the first amendment, which is numbered subsection 2(3).
Mr. Chairman: Thank you. Since that one is withdrawn, I have no record of any other amendments until we get to new section 10a.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Sterling: This amendment, along with the amendment I am proposing to section 68, relates to a special kind of access, which I would like to see available.
Mr. Chairman: You should move the amendment.
Mr. Sterling: I am sorry. Having served notice on all the members who have participated in the debate, I assumed that the motion would have been known by everybody. Perhaps I should enter it on the record.
Mr. Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Sterling moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
"10a(1) Every member of the Legislature has a right of access on a continuing basis, as described in this section, to information from records or parts of records in the custody or under the control of an institution, unless the records or parts of the records fall within one of the exemptions under sections 12 to 22.
"(2) Every member of the Legislature may make a request in writing to an institution asking that the institution provide him or her with information from records or parts of records on a continuing basis.
"(3) The member shall specify particular records or describe categories of records to which the request applies and may specify the form in which the information is to be provided.
"(4) The institution shall provide the member with the information, in the form he or she specifies, unless the cost of doing so would be excessive.
"(5) The institution shall provide the member with regular updates of the information, within a reasonable time of itself receiving the new information.
"(6) Despite section 57, the member shall not be charged for the information.
"(7) Sections 24 to 29 apply, with necessary modifications, in respect of the member's request."
Mr. Sterling: This section and section 68 are sections which perhaps innovate on the principle of access to information. Under present access to information laws or freedom of information acts across our country, the trigger mechanism for information to come forward is a request for a document or a record and a reply in response to that particular request.
As a member of the Legislature, I find there are many times when the continuity of a number of records is important in determining or evaluating the government's performance in a particular policy area or a program area. Under this amendment to the freedom of information act, a member of the Legislature would be given special access to government records.
This special access would permit a legislator to request, on a continuing basis, a classification of records that he or she expects will come into the hands of the government over a period of time in the future. It will do away with the necessity of a member's having to continue to ask for a record time after time if he wants to compare data over a chronological period of time.
Under this amendment as well, the member will be permitted to ask a ministry or an institution to present the data in some form or manner in which he can use them to call into account the particular program. I know the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) will be most pleased to provide me with that kind of data with regard to capital expenditures across the province. I can imagine the kind of format I would like to put forward to him in terms of dealing with the kind of information I would like.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Just ask me.
Mr. Sterling: I take it that is an invitation by the minister to just ask him, and I will.
This particular amendment has a limitation upon it. It would limit the responsibility of an institution so that costs would not become too great in providing the information, if it was prohibitive to provide that information in the form the member required. I believe the amendment is forward-looking in that, as time goes on, more and more information will be recorded electronically or in computers. Therefore, the provision of data in a particular form should not be too onerous for the government institution to provide, if the software for a particular computer program can be altered to spew out that information in the form a particular member requests.
The idea for this kind of amendment comes forward from my experience in talking to many legislators in the United States. Under their particular of government, members of the two elected bodies in each state, the Senate and the House of Representatives, have the opportunity to have programs that are put forward evaluated on a regular basis. Sometimes that evaluation is in the form of statistical data and sometimes it is put forward in the form of consultants' advice after interviewing various people.
The kind of data we are asking for here is not an evaluation but a putting together of information in a manageable form so that a government program can be called into accountability.
Mr. Chairman, you will see from my amendment to section 68 that I would like the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to be empowered by this legislation to call in members of a government institution to examine the different ways a government institution is collecting and collating information for existing programs and proposed programs.
I think the present situation has gone on too long, with regard to the former government and the present government, in terms of the evaluation of various programs government enters into. I believe when a government program is set up, there should be evaluation criteria put forward. I want the Legislative Assembly committee to have the power to call forward people who are knowledgeable in the area to set down a fair evaluation methodology so that in a year or two years from the time of a program being announced, members of this Legislature and the public in general would have some knowledge as to whether that program was succeeding or failing.
As I say, it is a different amendment. This amendment was not proposed during committee hearings. I hope some of the members will consider it a new and innovative method, not only of gaining access to a particular record, but gaining access to a bunch of records or a group of records in a readable and manageable form. More information may or may not be available under this particular piece of legislation, but as important as the right to information may be, it is also important to get it in a form in which it can be used. I believe with the advent of the collec tion of a great amount of data in electronic memory devices, this kind of section is not impractical in its implication or when put into practice.
I would ask members to consider this and give it their support.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I have just had the opportunity in the last few moments to look at the amendment to section 10a -- which will become section 10a, if passed -- that my honourable friend proposes. I propose to deal with it and not with the amendment he will be making with respect to section 64.
Let me begin by saying that the intent of the section is, generally speaking, a praiseworthy one, to ensure that members of the Legislature get access to information in order to do their work as representatives of their constituents and the general public.
I add, however, that without section 10a, members of this Legislature will be citizens entitled to apply in respect of the release of any document that is not prohibited by the terms of the act, so this amendment is not going to increase the amount of information honourable members are entitled to get. If it did increase it, in my respectful view, it would be something we would want to look at very seriously to see whether under this amendment they would be getting information they were deprived of under another section. That is not the case. What this does is create a process by which they will get that information. In my respectful view, it presents a number of difficulties, one not so serious but two quite serious.
The first difficulty is that it speaks to "information," when the act is carefully tuned throughout to speak to "record. " This is perhaps a technical matter, but it is an important technical matter. I think this is the only section that speaks to getting information, whereas the other ones speak to getting records. In other words, what is examined in the other cases, the normal cases, is records. Here, the persons examining documents will have to be examining them from another point of view, the point of view of information. It may be seen that this is a relatively technical objection. I would not regard it as overwhelming if it stood by itself.
The second objection, much more difficult, is that this act is founded on the proposition that if you request information, no matter how general your request is, the custodian of the information has to respond, either giving it to you or refusing it. That response is critical in the process, because that is what triggers the appeal. It is the response within the 30-day time frame that tells you: "They have it, but they will not give it to me. I am going to appeal." You can thereafter invoke the independent appeal mechanisms in the act before the commissioner and go to court, if necessary.
The trouble with this scheme -- which will allow each member of the Legislature, perhaps on day one when he is sworn in, to put in a written request for all law enforcement information for the province arriving in the Ministry of the Attorney General east of Kingston -- is that you will never get notice of a refusal. You will simply be shipped buckets of paper and you will never know that case when the ministry has made a decision, "Yes, we have some information, but we are going to reject your request." That being so, you will never be able to initiate the independent appeal.
To me, that is a fundamental flaw, because the perception will perhaps become the reality. You will think you are getting everything, but you will never know whether you are. You will never be able to appeal to assess whether what has been withheld from you has been rejected. If you wanted to appeal, you would have to do what you can now do, which is request a record, have the request rejected and then appeal to the commissioner.
The second difficulty here is, because it does not invoke a request and a refusal, the mechanisms of the statute, which are so critical to its working, will simply not be available to support it.
The third -- and I must say from a narrow point of view, quite an overwhelming difficulty -- is the work load that is going to be increased by this amendment. If every member of the Legislature put in a general request at every ministry at the beginning of each session or following his election, we would have, let us say, 100 individual requests for all information coming to the ministry within very broad categories.
I myself, representing a part of downtown Toronto, would want to ask the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) to let me have information that comes in to him: all records containing information that come to him for the whole of Metropolitan Toronto east of Yonge Street that are not prohibited by law from release. My friend the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) would request all the material west of Yonge Street, and there would be at least two people in that bureaucracy who would be looking at every record coming in to see if the member for Etobicoke or I were going to get it, and if we were not going to get it, why not?
It would create an enormous work load, because the member for Toronto-Woodbine might want all records that are received from all Metropolitan Toronto or all Ontario south of Barrie.
Certainly, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) would want all records of Consumer and Commercial and Financial Institutions that come in that relate to insurance, from whatever part of the province they come, because that is a special interest of his. There would have to be someone in the minister's ministry who would look at all records coming in to determine if the information could be withheld or should be delivered.
If it were delivered, what would happen is that members would receive boxes and boxes of material, 99 per cent of which most members would not have any interest in. You may say that is never going to happen and, of course, it is not, because honourable members are reasonable and will exercise restraint.
It seems to me that the appropriate thing to do is to allow the kind of restraint that has been typical around here to continue to act. Honourable members will have the right to ask for what they need, and the member for Welland-Thorold will make the kinds of requests we know and expect of him, which will focus on the issue to which he wants to direct himself.
Those who are interested in mining accidents will not ask for all information about mines but will make requests about the particular mines with which they are concerned or about which they have inquiries. So the third objection is that the section is so broad it runs the risk that the ministry will have to vastly increase its resources even to run it.
The last point I would make is that we are going to have a three-year review period under this act in which the committee charged with the bill will be looking at how it works. I would earnestly implore honourable members, before they make what is a fairly fundamental change in the act, to consider letting the committee have charge of it and react to it in the three-year review process. If it does not work, just as if universities do not take their responsibilities seriously, in that three-year period we will have an opportunity to build an amendment like this or an appropriate one that will actually respond to any real needs that develop.
Ms. Bryden: On a point of information, Mr. Chairman: I would like to inform the Attorney General that Toronto-Woodbine was a riding which died at the redistribution before the last one, and my husband Ken Bryden had the honour to represent it.
Ms. Gigantes: I think the Attorney General has indulged in his usual kind of --
Mr. Mackenzie: Polemic.
Ms. Gigantes: My colleague suggests "polemic," but I would call it the overkill syndrome. It is taking out some kind of huge sledgehammer to kill a little ant, a fly or something.
The amendment that is before us does raise one interesting question. I believe most of the purpose of the amendment probably is met by the legislation. If I understand the amendment correctly, what is being proposed is that members of this Legislature have the right to gain access to records which are on computer tape and which can be read off in a form that may be of interest to a particular member.
I believe, if this legislation is working properly, any member of the public should be able to get that kind of information. We will have to review and see just how much information of that kind is being provided to people in the public -- and indeed, members of the Legislature are members of the public -- after our three-year review period.
However, the one question raised by this amendment that I now wish we had had a chance to debate while we were going through discussion in the Legislative Assembly committee, and perhaps the Attorney General can make some comment on it right now, was the question of continuous provision of information. Can the Attorney General indicate to us where in the legislation itself or in some regulation he would expect to provide for it if somebody, for a professional or personal reason, has an interest in having an ongoing flow of information from one of the agencies covered by this legislation? Will that be something we can expect to happen under this legislation?
For example, if a newspaper makes one application for access to information in an area of particular interest to the newspaper or to one of the people who work at the newspaper and would like to continue that flow of information over a period of time, as suggested by the proposer of this motion, does the Attorney General expect that to happen? Obviously, here in the Legislature what we can do is simply table the same question every session or call up and say: "I am just going to pull out another access-to-information request. Why do you not give it to me?" For other members of the public, it may not be that easy.
Should we be able to expect, under this legislation, that someone who requests it would be able to expect one application to cover an ongoing flow of information on a particular subject?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The answer to the member's question is probably yes. As the routine users of the process become known, it is conceivable and indeed highly likely that one of them will say to my ministry: "You know I am interested in this and I will make requests every month. Will you please collate the information as it comes in and pass it along and I will drop by and make the formal requests at the appropriate interval?"
I regard it as inevitable that this kind of negotiated arrangement to get information will occur: first, because it is convenient for the citizen as the honourable member has noted, and second, because in a way it is very convenient for the ministry to say: "We are going to be asked for that. Let us peel it off as it comes in and pile it up." I think that is going to happen.
What really troubles me is very generalized requests -- it might be overkill even to refer to them so I am very hesitant -- that ask for such a broadly expanded territory that it would not be possible for the ministry to say yes. But I think in narrower areas where the requester is a person who routinely wants information of a specified type, it will inevitably be possible for the ministry to develop a system so that this is forthcoming, so that you do not have to go down there except at intervals to fill in the appropriate covering request.
Ms. Gigantes: I would like to pursue with the minister what he is saying to us because I am aware of at least one case asking for an update of the annual statistics on wiretapping in Ontario that apparently had not been responded to. I do not know whether the minister is aware of it but he certainly should be aware because I have received copies of the applicant's letter, several letters in fact stretched over a period of months. The applicant receives that material for one year, makes an application for the next year, waits for months, writes another letter, waits for months, writes another letter, does not even receive an acknowledgement over a period of many, many months; and then finally, I guess, the information is released.
Under this legislation, how does one make sure this kind of thing is not happening and we are not putting somebody who has a perfectly legitimate reason for wanting to have a continuing flow of information in a specific area through an access-to-information application every year? Can we expect regulations that will do this? The minister has not pointed out anything in this legislation that will provide us with that.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The answer to the honourable member's question is that the act contemplates a request and an answer within time limits. In that process, or in the appeal process therefrom, you establish your entitlement to the information and the fact that it is not protected from disclosure. Once that has been done, either by agreement because there is no doubt about it or by the inquiry process if there is a dispute about it, and the citizen's entitlement to the information is established, whether it be information about a wiretap or information about something else, then all the succeeding applications are pro forma. They would only require the repetition of that exercise.
I am quite confident that if there is no doubt about the entitlement or if the doubt has been put aside by the commissioner's determination, systems will develop that will assure a free flow of that information. It will not be in the interests of anybody to do anything else because the point will already have been litigated or determined by the commission.
Mr. Sterling: I would just like to reply and say that I am happy the Attorney General agrees with the general principle. There are two prongs to the principle, one of which is continuing information of the same nature and the same kind that projects into the future. The other prong, which is very important, is giving or directing in some way a correlation of information that can be used to call a government into accountability. That is, of course, what the Williams report was all about and that is what freedom of information is supposed to be all about, accountability of government to the people.
My reluctance to widen section 10a as I have proposed to the general public is the bogyman that the Attorney General has held up in terms of the cost. However, the cost, and I put a limitation on it, would be limited. Where it would be excessive, you cannot have it. In other words, to invite an application for all information east of Belleville, as the minister has said, is ludicrous in terms of the number of boxes, etc. That would be deemed to be excessive in cost.
Members at the present time, by placing a question in Orders and Notices, can incur extreme cost for the government in answering those questions going back in time. What I am trying to do is eliminate that kind of cost by saying to the minister, "We are going to require this kind of information, so set up your computers so you can put out this information in a meaningful manner to the particular member who is requesting the particular information."
On the whole matter of speaking to records rather than information, I thought the act was to deal not with freedom to view records but with freedom of information. At any rate, that argument is not the key to the minister's objection.
The other thing in terms of what would trigger the appeal, the trigger would be the stop in the flow of information or the inadequacy of the information. If a member requested information or data and he was not given that information, he would make an appeal; if he were given the information and the flow stopped, he would make an appeal; or if the flow were too slow, he would make an appeal. Therefore, I believe that under the present act with the present wording of this particular section, it would work. I do not believe the cost would be excessive because of the limitation on the right of a member to request the information.
Lastly, the Attorney General makes the appeal that we wait for three years for the review. If we are going to have a review and the costs are excessive or are deemed to be excessive, then why not bring it up at that time and take it out? I believe that this amendment, as I say, not only will provide more information to members but also, more important, will provide it in a fashion, in a manner and in a form in which the members can use it to call the government into accountability. That is what this act is all about.
Mr. Chairman: Does any other honourable member wish to comment upon this amendment by Mr. Sterling?
There being none, shall Mr. Sterling's amendment, which is the addition of a new section 10a, carry?
Mr Chairman: The chair is not a mind reader. I declare the motion carried.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Someone said no; I did not.
Mr. Chairman: There was no "no." This is the second time I have asked for a vote. I heard none before. I waited this time. Again, I waited. I declare the motion carried.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: The next amendment I have is to section 23.
Ms. Gigantes moves that section 23 of the bill, as reprinted as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee, be amended by inserting after "sections" in the first and second lines "12."
Before the member carries on, may we carry the sections up to 23?
Shall section 10, as amended, stand as part of the bill?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay "
In my opinion the nays have it.
I am sorry. The chair is in error. I had already carried section 10. This was a new section 10a, a new additional section.
Ms. Gigantes: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: If the chair can make an error, I wonder whether the chair can recognize that an error was made by some members of this Legislature in not speaking when you called for those in favour of passing section 10a or the amendment to section 10a, as proposed by our Conservative colleague. In other words, I am asking whether you will be kind enough, given the state of flux that now seems to have developed about where we are in the bill, to allow us one more time to voice our opinion on section 10a, so that we will not have to drag this out over several days.
Mr. Chairman: No, I see the member for Carleton-Grenville nodding in the negative. I will put it on the record, however. Is there unanimous consent to revert to the vote on Mr Sterling's motion?
Mr. Sterling: No.
Mr. Chairman: I hear "no," so it is not unanimous. I am sorry. Even though the chair did make an error, that does not go back to correct a second error.
Shall sections 11 to 22, inclusive, of the bill stand as part of the bill?
Section 11 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 23:
Mr. Chairman: Comments on section 23, the member for Ottawa East.
Ms. Gigantes: Ottawa Centre, Mr. Chairman.
We added a new section 23 to the bill. Just as a brief explanation to members of the Legislature, in considering the bill and the many areas of exemption and exception that are provided on matters of access to information, the Legislative Assembly committee determined that it would be useful to provide that the commissioner could review whether an exemption should be granted under those several sections, sections 12, 13, 14, 15 and up to section 22, on the basis that the commissioner determined that in spite of the fact that access to information would not be provided under the legislation in the normal course of events, because of one of those many exemption areas, the commissioner also determined that an exception would be made to that exemption provision because it was in the public interest to do so.
I will read how the committee framed that section. We added:
"23. An exemption from disclosure of a record under sections" -- which are enumerated -- "does not apply where a compelling public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the purpose of the exemption."
That section 23, which gives the commissioner a rare override on exemption areas in the legislation and which would provide the commissioner in extraordinary cases with the power to order the release of information that otherwise would have been exempt from the provisions of this bill, is one that in my view should be extended to all the exemption sections we have, sections 12 through 22.
The motion I am putting at this time adds section 12 to the coverage provided by section 23, and on matters determined to be cabinet documents, about which governments are always very touchy and which are very broadly defined in this legislation, would have the effect of allowing the commissioner to say, "In this very compelling case of public interest, even though cabinet documents are in general exempt from application for freedom of information access, I am going to rule that the information being sought by the applicant should be released because there is a compelling public interest."
Without going into great historic lengths or into any grand imaginings about what kinds of materials might move a commissioner to make such a determination, let me just say we know that governments can withhold information under claims the Americans know as executive privilege, known in Canada as cabinet documents, which prevents the public from finding out things that are indeed of a compelling public interest. This amendment would simply say that in those very few extraordinary cases, we would expect that under any responsible government the commissioner could make a determination that there was a compelling public interest for the release of cabinet documents.
Mr. Sterling: I think it is important for people to understand the review process or the person who makes the final decision as to whether the public interest would outweigh the formal rules contained in the exemption section 12 with regard to cabinet records. My reluctance to support this section, the addition of section 12, relates to the whole review process or the process in which the information commissioner has the final say as to what happens. Our party put forward amendments in committee whereby the decision of the information commissioner could be appealed to the courts, but that amendment was not supported by either the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party. So within this act, Bill 34, we have given the final say to one individual who is going to make a decision as to whether the information should or should not be released, and his or her word will be final.
My concern in that is that any one individual can be wrong, notwithstanding his or her ability. When you are dealing with the whole British parliamentary system, the whole argument with regard to cabinet solidarity and the position of the cabinet speaking as one voice is more important than giving this one individual the right to second-guess the technical provisions of section 12.
Under the exemption section, it should be understood that one can get records of the cabinet under certain circumstances. In relation to the discussions that took place, most of the records or the minutes of that particular cabinet meeting will not be available, and I do not think they should be available; nor do I think an information commissioner should have the right to say, "There is a greater public interest, in my personal opinion, in this particular matter," and overrule the technical rules that protect cabinet secrecy. Therefore, our party cannot support this particular amendment.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am heartened by the support of the member for Carleton-Grenville for opposition to this proposal, which I think he expressed in committee as well. I agree with him, for slightly different reasons, that it would be inappropriate in the circumstances of this case to give the commissioner -- who after all is an official, though admittedly an official of high independence and authority -- the right to supersede the legislation in effect, as this amendment and others like it will permit him to do, by his own judgement about what is a compelling public interest.
There are certain areas in which I think that can be justified, and we have tried to take account of them in the bill as it went through committee, but it could be said that it is extremely difficult to exercise that kind of power when you come to this, to law enforcement and to a number of other provisions.
The government will join with the honourable member in opposing the amendment that is proposed.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Ms. Gigantes's amendment will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Ms. Gigantes moves that section 23 of the bill, as reprinted as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee, be amended by inserting, after "13" in the second line, "14."
Ms. Gigantes: The purpose of this amendment is much akin to the one I presented a moment earlier, which went down to defeat, it is to provide that the commissioner have the power, in extraordinary circumstances, to order the release of records related to law enforcement in this case. Earlier we dealt with cabinet documents; here we are dealing with law enforcement.
Law enforcement takes up a fair amount of space in this bill in terms of the exclusions to information that members of the public and members of this Legislature can get about what is happening within the law enforcement system. In section 14, we have an exemption relating to law enforcement which goes on for more than a page and a half, and I am very tempted to read it all out just to remind members of the Legislature and any member of the public who is listening how extensive the exemption to freedom of information is under this bill when we get to law enforcement.
What we are asking for here is that the commissioner have, in extraordinary cases, the right to overrule a minister and a cabinet and to say there is a matter of such grave public interest here, of such "compelling public interest," in the words of section 23, that he feels these records should be released.
We do not have to go far back in time or afield at all in this Legislature to recollect that there have been acts carried out by law enforcement agencies here in Ontario involving agencies responsible either directly or indirectly to the Attorney General which have created the utmost concern in the public about how law enforcement is carried on in this province. They have happened at the local level of law enforcement; they have happened at the provincial level of law enforcement; they have happened at the federal level of law enforcement, up to and including illegal acts by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police within Ontario, some of which have affected the party I represent in this Legislature. Perhaps the least of those, in terms of their effect -- and their bad effect in this province -- affected this party; and the worst of them affected individuals in very grievous ways and certainly threw into question the relationship of our law enforcement agencies and those other organizations that exist in a free and democratic society such as we have here in Ontario.
In my view, if ever there is a reason to have freedom of information in a democratic society, it is to make sure that such agencies as law enforcement agencies, defence agencies, security agencies and police agencies are subject to the control of the public. They cannot be subject to the control of the public unless the public has information about their activities.
The exemption provided in section 14 of the bill, which will prevent the public from getting information about law enforcement agencies and their behaviour, is very extensive. The proposal put forward in this amendment is a very limited one. It says that in extraordinary cases, when the commissioner decides there is compelling public interest, those exemptions shall be overridden by an order by the commissioner that records be released.
Mr. Sterling: As stated in committee, our party will not support this amendment.
I think it should be put forward clearly that there will be some law enforcement records available to people. That is what this bill does; it provides access to some information, and then there are some exclusions. What the public interest override does is take the technical part of the section -- in other words, subsection 14(1) says: "A head may refuse to disclose a record where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to, (a) interfere with a law enforcement matter." Then there are a number of other clauses, a lot of other clauses.
Under the amendment put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre, the information commissioner could say, "In spite of the fact that releasing a record will interfere with a law enforcement matter, I am going to do it anyway." The problem with the law enforcement area is that the person who is reading a particular piece of information is not necessarily attuned to all the ramifications of that piece of information if it is released to a particular person, because the information is often complex and intertwined with other kinds of information people have.
I would like to be able to support the amendment because of the concerns the member has, but there is a balance here between trying to run a justice system and giving police and our justice system a fair break in doing their job versus access to the information which they need in order to do their job.
I feel that section 14, which reads strangely similar to the same exemption section in that famous Bill 80, should be supported in this case.
Hon. Mr. Scott: For the reasons given by the member for Carleton-Grenville and for the reasons I gave in the committee, I would ask the House to oppose the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Ms. Gigantes's amendment will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Ms. Gigantes moves that section 23, as reprinted as amended by the Legislative Assembly committee, be amended by inserting, after "15" in the second line, " 16."
Ms. Gigantes: I think everybody is getting the hang of this now. The amendment we are concerned with right here is one that would allow section 23 to apply to exempted matters coming under the general heading of defence. The object here is the same as it was in the previous two motions. It would provide in extraordinary cases, or in the language of the bill cases of compelling public interest, to be determined by the commissioner, that defence matters which would ordinarily be exempt -- not all defence matters will be exempt but let me suggest that most will -- those defence matters where there was a compelling public interest for the disclosure of a record might be made accessible to the public by a determination of the commissioner.
Mr. Sterling: As in committee, our party cannot support the extension of this right for an individual to insert his own opinion as to what is in the interests of Canada in terms of information relating to the defence of our country. Section 16 reads:
"A head may refuse to disclose a record where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the defence of Canada or of any foreign state allied or associated with Canada or be injurious to the detection, prevention or suppression of espionage, sabotage or terrorism and shall not disclose any such record without the prior approval of the executive council."
I do not think that kind of responsibility should be put on an appointed information commissioner who is independent of the people, not being elected. Therefore, we cannot support this particular amendment put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre.
Hon. Mr. Scott: For the reasons given in the committee and so ably given by the member for Carleton-Grenville, I agree that this motion should be rejected. I have a feeling he is on a lucky ride here; he may make a mistake just minutes away.
Ms. Gigantes: If they just had the decency to get up and say, "No, we oppose this" I would not get so annoyed It is indefensible to listen to that kind of poppycock. It really is.
In section 16 we have no provision that the commissioner can decide there is a record which is of such compelling public interest that would fall under section 16 that he can order its release. Let me suggest that the section which the member for Carleton-Grenville just read out to us can cover a multitude of governmental sins. Furthermore, they are sins which governments have been known to commit. No one in this House can deny that. Under the heading of "prevention or suppression of espionage, sabotage or terrorism," governments can do anything; they have, and they will continue to.
The member for Carleton-Grenville talks about a person who is not responsible to the people because he is not elected. What we are talking about here is access to information which a government wants to hide. The government is being unopen in its relationship with the people it is supposed to represent, the people who gave it power. Let us say a person makes an application to find out something about the activities of the government under the great slogan of "defence" and "detection, prevention or suppression of espionage, sabotage or terrorism." Everybody cringes when those words are heard. I do not. I think people in this province have a right to know, in that area as well as in other areas, whether its government is being responsible. It is precisely because the commissioner is independent of government that we want a commissioner in cases of compelling public interest to be able to order the release of the documents.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Before we get into calling each other guilty of poppycock or other things, I think one thing might be observed. The honourable member is dedicated to hearing the sound of her own voice. All these motions and all these amendments were made in the committee, and she made long speeches on all of them and was defeated on all of them. I made long speeches at the time too, and was I was defeated on some. I do not regard it, and I do not think other members regard it, as particularly useful to repeat all that to the same result.
If I make a short interjection saying, "For the reasons given by the honourable member, I am opposed to the amendment," I do not think in the circumstances it is appropriate to identify it as poppycock. At least I am not wasting everybody's time repeating everything twice for the record.
Mr. Harris: I oppose this amendment.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Ms. Gigantes's amendment to section 23, by inserting, after "15" in the second line, "16," will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Ms. Gigantes moves that section 23 of the bill, as reprinted and as amended by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, be amended by inserting, after "18" in the second line, " 19. "
Ms. Gigantes: This amendment would provide that the commissioner could in extraordinary circumstances decide that compelling public interest forced him to order the release of records which are currently exempted under section 19, and these records are called records subject to a solicitor-client privilege.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I do not want my honourable friend the member for Ottawa Centre to think I have reformed and am going to make a long speech on this, but this was an amendment on which the Conservative Party divided to defeat in the committee. I think it might be appropriate to make some observations about it so that everybody can come to his own judgement about what is right.
What is proposed in the bill is that records which are within the solicitor-client privilege should be exempt, and what is proposed in this amendment is that the commissioner, the single official the member for Carleton-Grenville has referred to, should be able to reverse that, compelling the production of solicitor-client information.
The difficulty with that is the nature of solicitor-client information. It is not a protection for a lawyer, as some may think; it is a protection for the client, who can go to a lawyer as one cannot even go to a confessor, really, and say, "I am going to tell you the whole story, on the understanding you cannot be sworn to produce it." That is done, of course, so that the average citizen can get legal advice.
What is proposed here is that that relationship should continue to be respected and that no information given to counsel to give his opinion on should on that account be released on a request for information.
It is the first case in the Commonwealth of which I am aware in which any attempt has been made by an amendment like this to breach solicitor-client privilege. For that reason I am opposed to it, and ask the House to reject the proposal.
Mr. Sterling: During the committee hearing, we made several attempts at amending this particular section. The problem with the solicitor-client relationship is that people will relate it to perhaps only one specific instance of the relationship of solicitor together with client.
My particular problem with supporting this amendment is that I would support it for certain kinds of solicitor-client relationship but not for solicitor-client relationship in every case. Therefore, the form in which the amendment is placed would not meet with my approval or, I believe, my party's approval at this time, so we will not support the amendment.
Ms. Gigantes: This amendment is being discussed as if it affected a person in the public who went to a lawyer for advice. The amendment has nothing at all to do with that subject matter.
We are talking here about government lawyers; we are talking about governments getting legal advice. This bill has to do with information held by the government of Ontario, and it is in that context that we are discussing the solicitor-client relationship.
We are not dealing at all with Mr. X, who has to go to see a lawyer and the invasion of that very private relationship out there in the private field of lawyer-client relationships. We are talking about whether there may be some compelling cases, and in fact the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) will know that courts in Ontario can be in a position to decide that documents should be reviewed -- whether they are cabinet documents -- or they may be reviewed even if they affect a solicitor-client relationship; they may be reviewed even if they affect a matter of defence; they may be reviewed for any number of reasons. I am sure there will be cases which will arise from time to time where a court will determine whether somebody should look at some records to see if, in a particular case, one of these sacrosanct areas should be invaded by access to records.
All I am suggesting here is that a commissioner would have the right to review cases where there might be a compelling public interest and determine whether, in a few cases, there is a compelling public interest for a breach of this famous relationship -- this holy-of-holy relationship -- and remember that here the solicitor, or the client, is the government.
Mr. Harris: We are obviously in a very difficult area here, and as reluctant as I am to go along with the two learned opinions of two lawyers as opposed to the opinion of a layperson, which I am much more prone to want to accept in all of these matters, I will have to go along with the arguments put forward by the member for Carleton-Grenville.
Mr. Chairman: Shall this amendment of Ms. Gigantes to section 23 of the bill carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 23 of the bill be amended by striking out "20 and 21" in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof "and 20."
Mr. Sterling: Originally, in the committee, I put forward an amendment which excluded section 21 from the public interest override. Section 21 of the bill is the exemption which deals with personal information, personal privacy.
My feeling, I guess in very basic terms, is that if a person deals with the government of Ontario and is told, in law, that the information it provides will be kept confidential, then I do not think anyone should have the right to override that particular promise to that individual. That is, in effect, what this does.
Our province has over 100 statutes with confidentiality provisions in them, which the Legislative Assembly is going to consider over the next two years. If the province or the government of the day decides not to amend those particular acts to opt them out of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, then this act supersedes the confidentiality provisions of those other statutes.
Those other statutes may have all kinds of special circumstances associated with information: medical information; information relating to tests that have been taken about individuals; all kinds of other information. I do not have the faith that this Legislature is going to amend all 110 acts or whatever number of acts there are dealing with confidentiality and dealing with personal privacy over the next two years.
That means that a person, in good faith, looking at a statute in the Revised Statutes of Ontario or any other statute book relating to Ontario statutes, could say, "I am giving information to an institution of the government of Ontario and I expect it to be kept confidential," not knowing that some other individual under section 21 can apply to that institution and ask for that information about that person or any other citizen.
If the head of the government refuses to give that information, the individual applying for that information could go to the privacy commissioner or the information commissioner and he could put forward his technical arguments about the section. Even though the technical arguments may exclude the person getting hold of that record, the final argument that the applicant can put forward about getting information about another person is that it is in the greater public interest that he has the person's health record or he has some information that the person has given on good faith to this government -- that the public interest overrides. One person can decide that public interest overrides, notwithstanding all the promises another person has received.
Therefore, I do not think it is appropriate in this particular section for those basic reasons. Second, it does not fit into the wording of this section. Under clause 21(1)(f) in particular, it says a head shall refuse to disclose information if it is an unjustified invasion of personal privacy.
If a head refused to give an applicant information about another individual and said, "This is an unjustified invasion of personal privacy," and the applicant did not agree with that, he could go to the information commissioner. If the information commissioner, reviewing the circumstances, said, "Yes, it is an unjustified invasion of personal privacy," then he could say, even though he found and agreed with the head that it was an unjustified invasion of personal privacy, that the public interest overrides.
He could say: "It does not matter what we promised to this individual, what either a bureaucrat has promised to this individual or what it said in law, I am going to let the public interest be there. There is a greater public interest, in my humble opinion" -- although it would not be very humble under those circumstances - "and I am going to release that information about you to somebody else."
That is why I want this particular section taken out of this public interest override.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling has moved an amendment to section 23, striking out the words "20 and 21" and inserting in lieu thereof "and 20."
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Before the next amendment, which is to section 59, shall sections 23 to 58, inclusive, stand as part of the bill?
Sections 23 to 58, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 59:
Mr. Sterling: I have two amendments to section 59.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 59 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
"(aa) undertake audits of institutions to assess the extent to which they are complying with this act."
Mr. Sterling: Under section 59, we have the powers of the information commissioner and what the commissioner may do once he gets into his job. I introduce this amendment at this particular time and did not introduce it during the committee hearings because we came across this section prior to my having an opportunity to read the report of the standing committee on justice and Solicitor General in the federal House.
As members may remember, we were considering this bill just about the time this report came out. One of the recommendations of the Thacker report was that both of these powers be added to the powers of their information and privacy commissioners, as they have two under federal law.
Therefore, I am moving that in addition to the other mandate he now has under the bill, the commissioner be given the mandate that he can look at an institution and he can look at a government corporation and make certain they are trying to comply with this act. He or she can report on whether or not they are trying to live within this act and live to the letter of the act.
Ms. Gigantes: I would like to ask the member for Carleton-Grenville how his amendment differs from clause 58(2)(b). Subsection 58(1) says the commissioner is going to make an annual report to the Speaker. Subsection 2 says the report "shall provide a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of this act in providing access to information and protection of personal privacy."
There is the answer to my question. Clause 58(2)(b) says "an assessment of the extent to which institutions are complying with this act." If I am answering my own question correctly, then section 58 deals only with -- no, it should be exactly the same. It is exactly the same as I read it, Mr. Chairman; clause 58(2)(b).
Mr. Breaugh: There seems to be a bit of a procedural problem here. We have an amendment proposed by the member for Carleton-Grenville which does add some words, but I have studied it briefly here this afternoon. It is the first opportunity I have had to see this particular amendment. I fail to see that it alters in any substantive way what is already in the bill. I am going to seek a little clarification from the member as to exactly what difference this would make to anybody and then I am going to ask the chair to give us a ruling on how sensible it is to amend a bill in a way that does nothing but add words and changes nothing in substance in the bill.
Mr. Sterling: On reflection, I have had an opportunity to re-read subsection 58(2). I was under the impression that dealt solely with the protection of personal privacy; therefore, I withdraw my amendment seeing that it also includes access to information.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 59 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
"(da) may conduct public education programs and provide information concerning this act and the commissioner's role and activities."
Mr. Sterling: Again, referring to the federal situation, there seems to have been some confusion or lack of authority both for the privacy commissioner and the information commissioner to undertake public education programs. The feeling of the Thacker committee was that, while they have had a federal freedom of information act and a Privacy Act, there should be some additional mandate clearly spelled out in the law that the information commissioner can educate the public as to how to get access to government documents and how to seek the protection of the privacy provisions under this act.
Motion agreed to.
Section 59, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 60 to 67, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 68:
Mr. Sterling: Earlier we passed a section dealing with the right of a member to seek information on a continuing basis from the government and in a form that he or she, as a member of this Legislature, deems reasonable.
Under section 68a, there is a mandate given to our standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, which was also given other mandates under this act, to review the methods of gathering and presenting information by this government and with the mandate to make recommendations concerning those methods.
The particular purpose of putting this into legislation is to give a member of the Legislature more leverage in asking a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly to undertake a review in the case of a situation where we may not be in a minority government position. Rather than by allowing the Legislative Assembly committee either to do this or not to do this, I thought it was in some ways consistent with the thrust of the act to put in the fact that it is going to review acts dealing with confidentiality provisions of the various legislative acts that are already in place in this province, the some 100 that I mentioned before, and also in terms of doing our three-year review.
It is just a matter of basically giving the member more leverage in dealing with the standing committee, should we ever get into a majority parliament situation when the committee would be controlled by government members.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Mr. Chairman, I just want to make one or two comments about the proposed section 68a and then ask you whether it is appropriate to determine whether it is in order or not.
Members will see that section 68 of the bill provides, "The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly shall, within three years...undertake a comprehensive review of this act" and thereafter "make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly regarding amendments to this act."
The legislative committee's function, appropriately, is to look at the act, to look at the way it works and to make recommendations about how it can be improved. Grafted to that is this proposal which has nothing to do with information and nothing to do with the act or any other section of the act.
What it does is to permit the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to review methods of gathering and presenting information -- and that is the last time you will hear the word "information" used -- but it is not information such as you get from records; it is information about the operation of government programs. In other words, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly is going to be some kind of roving committee to obtain information about government programs and to make recommendations about how they may best be evaluated --
Mr. Breaugh: You have just driven me on side.
Hon. Mr. Scott: No one will be better suited for chairmanship of this roving Star Chamber than the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).
It looks not only at the operation of government programs but also at their evaluation. It looks at them and evaluates them. Then, as if that is not wide-ranging enough -- and there will be no American congressional committee that will have broader powers than this -- it goes on in subsection 2 to say "the committee may require the administrator of a government program" -- not the minister, not anybody else who has political responsibility, but some head of a government program, some deputy, assistant deputy or staff member -- to come forward to provide information about the program. In other words, the chairman of the legislative committee and his committee not only evaluate the programs but also call in the bureaucrats to ask them to evaluate the programs.
It is my submission that this is not integral. It is not even a pretended part of the freedom of information act and should be ruled out of order. If it is not ruled out of order, it should be opposed by the House.
Mr. Breaugh: Briefly, speaking to the procedural point the Attorney General has raised, oddly enough, I think he might be correct on this.
I appreciate the intent, but I would argue that the legislative committee has all of these powers now and it is not necessary to specify them in this bill. For example, as the one who currently and temporarily chairs this committee, I would argue that the committee now has the right to order its own business. The committee has been given a proper order in legislative form to conduct a review, and it will conduct that review as it sees fit. If it chooses to audit, to investigate, to compare, to call before it witnesses, to do all those things, it is quite clear to me that it has those powers because we use them fairly regularly around here.
I would argue that, although in principle I understand what the member is trying to say, the amendment is both unnecessary and procedurally incorrect. I do not believe the House should be telling its committees what to do, how to do it and whom to call in front of them. That is the committees' job to do. The Legislature's task is to accept or reject that part of this legislation which says the review will be conducted by a committee of the House and it will be the Legislative Assembly committee.
Past that point, the House should let its committee do its job. It has, I believe, sufficient jurisdiction to call witnesses before it -- as it did, for example, in processing this bill -- to conduct examinations of how other jurisdictions do that, and we just finished doing that whole exercise. We have an ability to monitor how other jurisdictions do that, and we will have an ability to monitor how Ontario does that.
The member is offering to give to the committee something it already has. We thank him for his kindness and his good intent, but I do not believe we need it and I do not believe it is procedurally correct to put the amendment in this form.
When you make the ruling, Mr. Chairman, I will be interested in how you establish that the House orders a committee, when we have constantly over the years fought for the basic principle that the committee orders its own business, thank you very much. The House may give us a task to do and then it will be the job of the members of that committee to decide how best to carry out that task.
Mr. Chairman: Does the member for Carleton-Grenville have any comments on the comments of the Attorney General that the amendment is out of order as being too broad?
Mr. Sterling: Since we did pass section 10a, which relates to the rights of members to seek information in certain kinds of forms or in certain kinds of formats, I thought that in order for a member to have an intelligent approach in terms of the format he might want to get the information in, the logical approach -- and I am sorry that I am thinking more like an engineer than a lawyer today -- would be to go and get the person who is running a government program, preferably when he is setting up the program, call that person in and say, "How best can we as a Legislature evaluate what this program is going to do in the future?"
That was my motive behind putting in section 68 in terms of saying that a member who was interested in a particular new program that the government announced could go down to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and say, "I want to get the guy or the woman who is running this shop to come into the Legislative Assembly committee so that I can ask this person how we can evaluate this in two to three years in order to determine whether the program is a success or is not a success." That is how I relayed it to the Legislature.
Mr. Chairman: Excuse me for interrupting. I think the Attorney General is perhaps taking the position that the wording in subsection 68a(1), the fourth line, "operation of government programs," is too wide.
Hon. Mr. Scott: That was my objection.
Mr. Chairman: He is not discussing the merits that the member is. Am I interpreting the Attorney General's objections correctly that "government programs" is going beyond the scope of this information and privacy bill?
Mr. Sterling: I do not know why he would be objecting to reviewing the methods of gathering and presenting information about government programs. I do not understand that.
Ms. Gigantes: That is PR.
Mr. Sterling: That is public relations, I guess.
Mr. Breaugh: He used to understand it very well.
Hon. Mr. Scott: He used to understand it perfectly.
Mr. Sterling: I am in a position where I do not understand it today.
I do not think this legislation is going to rise or fall on this particular amendment, but I think it would give good direction to a member in terms of what he can do or what he cannot do with regard to the Legislative Assembly committee. The member for Oshawa, who is the chairman knows what the Legislative Assembly committee can or cannot do. A lot of the members of this Legislature who have not had experience in that particular committee do not know what the Legislative Assembly committee can do.
I just thought that if we are going to evaluate programs in a fair manner, we should allow the bureaucrats to have their say in front of a committee so that the committee could look at it and say, "What is fairer in how to evaluate this or how not to evaluate this particular program?" Otherwise, you will get a member perhaps requiring a format that a bureaucrat would object to.
It was just a matter of being fair on my part to put this section in; fair to the government, I mean.
Mr. Chairman: Having heard all sides, I am going to rule that in this section I believe the words "of government programs" are beyond the scope of this act and are too broad; second, section 68 already takes care of the remainder of subsection 68a(1), and third, my ruling is that the Legislative Assembly committee already does have sufficient power, so that subsection 68a(2) is unnecessary.
Therefore, I guess that means Mr. Sterling's amendment is out of order as worded.
Mr. Sterling: Before you make a ruling, may I withdraw that amendment?
Mr. Chairman: Yes. Thank you. The amendment is withdrawn.
Mr. Sterling: Or did you want to make that ruling?
Mr. Chairman: No, that is fine. It is withdrawn. It does not exist.
Sections 68 to 71, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 72:
Mr. Sterling: The present section 72 of the bill -- perhaps I will put the amendment forward, if I can find the amendment. I have stroked out some of the words that were in the original typed copy and shortened the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 72 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"This act comes into force on the first day of January 1988."
Mr. Sterling: The present wording of section 72 says, "This act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor."
My understanding is that when one says, "This act comes into force...by proclamation by the Lieutenant Governor," what one is saying in effect is that the cabinet has control as to when this act or parts of this act come into effect. If that is the case, then it is my understanding that this government, this cabinet, could proclaim all of it, none of it or part of it at any time in the future.
There have been significant amendments to this particular piece of legislation. I am referring to the amendment put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre to section 23, giving the public interest override to certain exemption sections. I have moved an amendment not as significant today, with regard to section 10a. There is a significant section that was added in committee by the support of both opposition parties dealing with clause 2(1)(b) relating to the definition of "institutions," which was further supported by subsection 2(3).
I would like to engage the Attorney General on his intentions as to when the freedom of information act is going to become law, and whether his intentions are to call this act in total or whether he is going to proclaim certain sections first and other sections at a later date or whatever. I do not want all of the good work of the committee and the people who have been working on this bill for over two years to go for naught.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The honourable member has asked my intentions. They are as follows.
I think we can do it faster than is contemplated by this amendment, which is why I ask the House to reject it. I undertake to let the representatives of the other parties know who our proposal is for commissioner because, as I understand it, it is appropriate that the commissioner be appointed on a joint address or at least with the agreement of the three parties in the Legislature. I may say at this interval that I would be grateful for any suggestions honourable members have as to who such a person would be. I would hope very much that we would be in a position to appoint that person by the end of June.
There is then the following problem. The person will have to locate himself at Toronto and establish his or her office. But if he is appointed by the end of June, I would very much hope the act might be proclaimed on September 1 or October I, one of those dates. This is what I have in mind.
I can tell the House that fairly elaborate machinery already exists in government for the operation of the act. The ministries are getting conversant with the language and are developing procedures so that information can be controlled and dispensed in accordance with the act fairly quickly after its proclamation. Our instinct here is to move as quickly as we can to have a commissioner in place, if possible, by the end of June or when the House rises, looking to a proclamation on September 1 or October 1.
I will candidly say to my honourable friend who asked the question that I have not formed any view that any section should not be proclaimed, with one exception, and that is the exception in section 10a, which was passed today. Frankly, I have very grave difficulty with that section, somewhat fortified by the fact that it was passed by mistake. I do not think, though I cannot judge, it would carry the votes of the House. It was passed because I neglected to say no when I should have said no. This is the first time that allegation has ever been made against me --
Mr. Breaugh: That is not the way we hear it.
Hon. Mr. Scott: -- and perhaps the last.
Apart from section 10a, which causes major problems for the administration of the act from the government's point of view, it is not our present intention to exclude the proclamation of any other section at the same time. Just so there will be no doubt about it, I want to say that I do not exclude even the section that relates to municipalities. That is the position of the government on this issue, and I ask the assembly to reject this proposal.
Ms. Gigantes: Am I correct in thinking that if a piece of legislation passes in this House it must be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor in order to become effective as legislation?
Ms. Gigantes: Then what is the point in writing in a date on which legislation becomes effective? All the government has to do is to ask the Lieutenant Governor to proclaim everything except the effective date. It does not make any difference whether we pass this or not. It is useful that we hear such encouraging words from the Attorney General about how quickly he intends to bring the act into effect. All we can do now is nag him.
Hon. Mr. Scott: As I understand it, a bill comes into force on proclamation, on royal assent or on a date contained in the bill. This would be a date contained in the bill, so the proclamation could not take place to bring the legislation into effect earlier, even by the device of trying to avoid proclamation of this section. It is the bill that will speak to the day it is effective, which is why I ask members to reject that section. I think we can do it faster than this section contemplates.
Mr. Breaugh: I do not think we want to get into a procedural hassle at this stage over how the bill will be proclaimed or what form it might take. It seems to me the problem is resolved by a kind suggestion from the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), that if we have wording of this nature, a friendly amendment be taken that it be not later than the dates that are contained here.
If the Attorney General has given us his commitment that this will be, in his way of the calendar, early fall or mid-fall, the only hesitation I have is that I have watched the very same man give us lessons on early spring and late spring. It makes me just a little fearful that we would leave it quite that way.
If the Attorney General would be able to take a slightly different stand, if his intention could be accomplished by using wording that would say "not later than," it seems to me that would give him all the options he wants to get the commissioner in place and the program started prior to that date. It does not inhibit him whatsoever, and I think it is actually quite a reasonable thing.
The Legislature itself has been enchanted with this particular law now for the better part of two years. It might be a little unusual to put a date in the bill, in the legislation itself, but there are many of us who are concerned that we have spent a lot of time in committee on this bill. I know that certainly there have been rafts of civil servants who have even been drafting manuals on how the bill might be implemented. They are anxious to carry on the bill. They want to get it in place. I am simply questioning why the Attorney General is such a reluctant person at this date to accept an amendment which might say simply "not later than January 1988." It seems to me he should be able to live with that and that might resolve a long squabble here this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I would be happy to live with that, but for the problem presented by section 10a.
Mr. Sterling: The Legislature passed that.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I understand the Legislature passed it. It passed it when, I believe, there was not a majority to support it because I neglected to say no. We asked if it could be revisited, and the honourable member opposite said no.
Mr. Sterling: So what you are telling us is you are going to be arrogant and legislate by proclamation.
Hon. Mr. Scott: No, I am not going to be arrogant and do anything. All the arrogance in the world is not going to get me through this particular situation. I can assure the member of that.
The point I am making is that we are perfectly prepared to take a not-less-than provision, which means that all the bill is proclaimed and effective on a given day. I have candidly said to the House there is only one section we would have some difficulty about proclaiming. There are a number of alternatives. The House could revisit that section if there is unanimous consent. If there is, I can tell the House I will agree to any not-less-than proposal. Legislative counsel tells me she needs five minutes to draft it up. So if the House would agree to revisit section 10a and take the feeling of the House on that section, I will then agree that we should have a not-less-than proclamation date.
Mr. Breaugh: I do not mean to preclude debate here, but I seek unanimous consent from the House so that we could reconsider the amendment on section 10a. Just before the Chairman makes a ruling on that: I am one who was interested in this particular section; I was called away at a committee meeting; I did follow the proceedings. Since I have returned, I have been searching for those who voted in the majority to cause the amendment to carry. I cannot find them.
It is a bit unusual for us to seek unanimous consent but it is in order and that is what I am doing. I would like to seek unanimous consent now to reconsider the amendment put by the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) on section 10a.
Mr. Chairman: We have several problems, but may I say first --
[Failure of sound system]
Mr. Chairman: -- Attorney General to correct what he thinks might be an injustice.
Second, we are in the middle of section 72 and we really cannot open up. Unless there is unanimous consent and the House wishes to set aside consideration of section 72 at this point and there is unanimous consent to revert to section 10-whatever, we cannot go back.
Mr. Breaugh: But I asked for the required unanimous consent of the House. If I get it, fine, we will resolve the problem this afternoon. If I do not get it, there are other options open tomorrow.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Oshawa is asking for unanimous consent of the House to set aside section 72 at this point and to revert to section 10a.
Mr. Breaugh: That is right.
Mr. Chairman: Is there unanimous consent of the House?
Mr. Harris: There is no discussion allowed on that?
Mr. Chairman: Really, no. There is no debate. It is either going to be unanimous or it is not going to be unanimous. Is there unanimous consent? Let me hear.
I see one member saying no. There is not unanimous consent. Therefore, shall we carry on with section 72?
Mr. Harris: Are we on section 72 here?
Mr. Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Harris: I guess I was a little concerned that we were giving unanimous consent to go back on a section to resolve something that was going to happen in this section, which I am not sure is resolvable. Before I get into that game, I am not 100 per cent convinced that at some point in the deliberations on this bill, before this House rises on the 25th or the 18th or whenever it is, that there may not be an opportunity for the Attorney General to reconsider section 10.
There are mechanisms available and in fact it may very well be that if somebody sought it later today, at least there would be one less no, anyway; I cannot speak for everybody in the House. I do want to know, while we are on this section, whether an amendment is possible to section 72 that gives an either/or situation; whether that is going to be acceptable by the chair. If it is not, then there is no point in having the discussion about "let us do this on section 10" because if we cannot do that anyway, once we finish section 10 and get back to section 72, we are right back to where we started.
The Attorney General indicated that he thought that legislative counsel could draft something that would be in order, but Mr. Chairman, I hear you telling me, and I bring it up because I overheard the rumblings of the chair that perhaps nothing was going to be in order --
Mr. Breaugh: Sounds to me as if we have to hang the chairman. We can resolve the problem the way they do it in Oxford county; the judge gives a wrong order and out he goes.
Mr. Harris: What I was going to propose was an amendment along these lines, and if you would allow me to suggest the intent to you, and you could tell me whether you think that is feasible, and that is that unless proclaimed sooner by the government, this act in its entirety comes into force on January 1, 1988. That type of amendment may not be exactly what legislative counsel will advise, but I am sure that everybody understands the intent of what I am saying.
With respect, Mr. Attorney General, I believe that may in fact have the majority support of this assembly.
Mr. Chairman: At this point, without hearing from further people, it appears unprecedented that we would put in an amendment that the proclamation of a bill will be at an indefinite time. This is somewhat unprecedented. Also, it would apparently read that some amendment that might be proposed states that the act comes into force on a date to be named by the proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor but not later than a certain date which is putting a limitation upon the Lieutenant Governor which again is unprecedented.
So, if someone does put that amendment, then the chair will reserve decision until tomorrow on that question, whether that is in order or not, so that it would not be decided, in its entirety, today.
Hypothetically speaking, in case anyone were going to put such a motion.
Mr. Harris: Are you suggesting, then, that we stand this section down until tomorrow?
Mr. Chairman: No. If there is such an amendment made, that would be my ruling.
Mr. Breaugh: This is a fun day in the chair, I can see that. You are saying that you will not make a ruling on an amendment until it gets put, and two minutes ago you were just saying that I had to seek unanimous consent to set aside the amendment that you are just talking about.
Now, it seems to me that the amendment that you have read is currently before the Legislature and if you want to do anything, you could ask to reserve judgement. That is always a prerogative of the chair. However, I do not think you can make me set this amendment aside one minute, and then argue that it is not before us the next. The chair should be cautious on this.
I think we would all be understanding if you are concerned that the amendment may be out of order and you would like some time to prepare a proper ruling on it. We would all be very kind. That is always a prerogative of the chair.
I would certainly be happy to let you get away with that one, but you cannot call me on it one minute and then run in the other direction the next. You would have to separate it by at least 10 minutes before I would let you get away with that.
Mr. Chairman: I think the member for Oshawa is getting his sections mixed up. We are dealing with, and I am referring to, section 72. It was my understanding that the member for Oshawa was previously asking for unanimous consent to stand down section 72 and revert to section 10a.
Mr. Breaugh: You had better read the unfortunate Hansard of this afternoon, sir. I think it would be interesting.
Mr. Chairman: And there was no unanimous consent for that.
Ms. Gigantes: I wonder if, while all this learned discussion has been going on, legislative counsel has come up with a draft which, though it may not be presented to us by the Attorney General, might be shared with us in this Legislature so we might think about whether we would like to put forward an amendment on this subject which might be more to his liking.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I think what is required, if I understand legislative counsel, is an amendment that provides that this act will come into force on the day of its proclamation or on January 1, 1988, whichever first occurs. The day of its proclamation is a matter determined by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and may be any day, except if it is going to be proclaimed rather than to come into force by virtue of its own language it has to be before January 1, 1988.
I would propose that if I could have one amendment it would be, "This act, except for section 10a, shall come into force on the date of its proclamation or on January 1, 1988, whichever first occurs. " If that met the sense of the House we could then adjourn for two minutes and ask legislative counsel to draft that into the hated legalese.
Mr. Breaugh: I would be happy to adjourn for a couple of minutes and let the Attorney General do that; but before we adjourn, I would ask the Attorney General to engage in this small exercise. Why does he not count? He is threatening us with having fewer members on that side outvote the members on this side. This may happen, but it is going to be a first in legislative history. I am not so sure we need all of that consultation, but if he would like to adjourn for 10 minutes to let us see if we can find some wording or if somebody could actually count noses and see how many ayes and nays are in here this afternoon, we might have the problem resolved one way or the other.
Mr. Harris: We would accept the minister's recommendation to adjourn for 10 minutes to see if he can find the wording. We are not going to agree today to the other conditions. If the minister gives us the wording, we will move it and I think we can carry it.
Mr. Chairman: Do we have unanimous consent to suspend the proceedings for 10 minutes?
The House recessed at 5:41 p.m.
On section 72:
Mr. Chairman: The 10 minutes has expired. We are on section 72 and in front of us at the present time we have the amendment of the member for Carleton-Grenville, as struck out and reworded by him. What is the wish of the committee?
Ms. Gigantes: Let us proceed.
Mr. Chairman: Does the member for Ottawa Centre mean that we proceed with a vote on the honourable member's amendment?
Ms. Gigantes: We have, thanks to legislative counsel, an alternative amendment that I will move right now.
Mr. Chairman: Excuse me, though; we have an amendment by the member for Carleton-Grenville on the floor. We are dealing with that.
Ms. Gigantes: That is true, but I would move an amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Sterling: I have a very lengthy argument with regard to my amendment on section 72. For those members who are trying to get away, they might want to go away now because I hope to adjourn the debate this afternoon.
I think it is outrageous that the Attorney General would take such a stance on a section for which he put forward very weak arguments in terms of rejecting it. I am referring to his particular objections to section 10a about which he argued in our previous discussions. I think it is important that section 72 be amended. Until I asked the question of the Attorney General as to whether or not --
Mr. Ward: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: I am sorry to interrupt the member but I understood the member for Ottawa Centre to say that she had an amendment to the amendment. Should the debate on the amendment to the amendment not proceed first?
Mr. Chairman: No, I believe she stated she was going to move another amendment. I stated we had section 72 in front of us and the member for Carleton-Grenville had the floor when you brought up the point of order.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Chairman: The member for Ottawa Centre, please.
Ms. Gigantes: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Now you are on the point of order.
Ms. Gigantes: I am on the point of order. The amendment I propose to move is an amendment to the amendment of the member for Carleton-Grenville.
Mr. Chairman: That will be in order when the member for Ottawa Centre has the floor; that is correct.
Mr. Warner: Why can she not have the floor now?
Mr. Chairman: She cannot make a motion on a point of order.
Mr. Breaugh: We appreciate the chair noting that it was a point of order when in fact the member wanted to place an amendment to an amendment. Thank you. That was very helpful. We will remember that one.
Mr. Sterling: Section 72 of the bill, as I was stating before, allows the cabinet of Ontario basically to legislate with regard to every section of this act that can be severed out by it if it chooses not to proclaim one or another section. I guess, from the statement of the Attorney General earlier that he intends to cut out -- first he said section 10a and he also indicated earlier that he was going to cut out section 2 relating to the definition of "institution," whereby a committee of this House chose to include freedom of information relating to municipalities, boards, school boards and every other kind of organization.
What do we know in terms of what this minister may do with regard to any kind of trust we place in him in dealing with the proclamation of this act?
I might add that this minister this very day came over to me and asked for my support with regard to a number of amendments put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre with regard to section 23 of this act. I said to the Attorney General that I would support him, although I had some concerns about one of the amendments, which I might have been convinced to support, with regard to the member for Ottawa Centre, with, I thought, the full understanding that I would receive his support for the exclusion of the privacy amendment with regard to section 21.
Mr. Haggerty: Get it in writing.
Mr. Sterling: I am going to have to get it in writing because I cannot trust this Attorney General any more. In terms of dealing with this Attorney General, I do not know what to believe. This Legislature is going to have to deal not only with this piece of legislation but also with any future pieces of legislation in such a fashion as not to give the cabinet of Ontario the right to proclaim, either over a period of time or at some time in the future, a particular piece of legislation.
It is unfortunate that this Legislature carried a section of the bill that I put forward that would have increased access privileges for members of this Legislature, because maybe it should have included all members of the public in terms of providing continuing information under the freedom of information act. I thought it would be more reasonable to put it forward just for the members because of the horrendous costs the Attorney General has talked about. I do not believe there would be horrendous costs. I do not understand his objections to section 10a. Section 72 --
Hon. Mr. Scott: There was not a majority in favour of it. That was my objection to it. It passed on a technical oversight.
Mr. Harris: There was not a single member of the Legislature opposed it; not one, including you.
Hon. Mr. Scott: You were not here.
Mr. Harris: I was not opposed to it.
Hon. Mr. Scott: But you were not here to see what happened.
Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Carleton-Grenville has the floor. I draw the member's attention to the clock. Perhaps he might like to move that the committee rise and report.
On motion by Mr. Sterling, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.