L028 - Tue 16 Jun 1987 / Mar 16 jun 1987
The House met at 1:32 p.m.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: In the recent Ontario budget, the government promised that deteriorating water and sewer systems throughout the province must be rebuilt before they require even more costly replacement. I very strongly support that program.
Several municipalities in Wellington -- Fergus, Harriston, Arthur, Mount Forest and Clifford, to name a few -- need government assistance now. These municipalities have the opportunity now to attract industry and new housing. They wish to do so, but growth is being stagnated by this government.
Just to highlight this concern, I would like to refer to the town of Fergus and a letter received last week from the Ministry of the Environment:
"Fergus has 551 committed lots which will use up more than the remaining capacity of the sewage treatment plant; therefore, this ministry will be unable to comment favourably towards any further draft plans of subdivision within the municipality. I am aware that you have retained Triton Engineering Ltd. to undertake preliminary design for a planned expansion and also that your request for funding for this project was turned down by our ministry."
This government refuses to provide financial assistance to small rural municipalities to improve their sewage treatment facilities and then forbids them to accept any residential or commercial growth without sewer improvement. Does this government not care about the financial viability of small-town, rural Ontario? Why does it continue to mislead the citizens of small communities?
Mr. Warner: I thought the members, especially the members of the government, would like to hear some of the comments from the citizens of Ontario regarding car insurance. These are some of the comments from my constituents.
"Since...I have never had an accident, lost points or in any way abused the privilege of having a licence...yet no discount for being over 25, no discount for being female, no discount for a clean driving record...no discount for being a married person...As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Warner, they're nothing short of legalized crooks, and the time is long past due when something should be done to put a stop to it. Sock it to them royally."
The next one: "My complaint about insurance is too disgusting to talk about, so therefore I will not comment on it. If your party has the power to change this system for the better, there are eight votes in this household you will get."
This is a new one: "I cannot give you an example, but I have yet to meet a poor insurance agent."
"I am a 22-year-old female. I got my driver's licence in September 1986, purchased a 1987 Ford Mustang in April, paying $1,600 per year for insurance. I called about 50 companies and was given estimates ranging from $2,400 to $3,500. I am insured with a company...and pay `only' $1,600."
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Warner: There are many more. The other members might wish to give me some of their time.
Ms. Caplan: The construction of the Sheppard subway line is a topic of particular interest to myself and my constituents. We were disappointed, of course, when the Sheppard line did not have funding announced in the budget. Since then, I have sought and received assurance from the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) that the construction of Highway 407 does not preclude the construction of the needed Sheppard line.
The announcement on Friday by Metro Chairman Dennis Flynn has given the residents of North York renewed hope and encouragement. The provincial government has approved a grant of $2.75 million, which will be used for engineering and design work crucial to the transit planning and future construction. This new funding, while not a guarantee, demonstrates to us that this government recognizes the importance of this line to all those people travelling in North York. The grant will allow ongoing engineering and land use studies to continue while the year-long provincial study of greater Metropolitan Toronto transportation needs is carried out.
North York council has worked diligently to organize its citizens to show support. With this announcement -- Mr. Speaker, I know you will find this hard to believe -- even Mel Lastman is happy.
As a token of appreciation, I would like today to present to the Minister of Transportation and Communications a North York "I need it now!" Sheppard subway T-shirt.
We look forward to the day when the ground-breaking will occur. We believe this is one step closer.
MARKET VALUE ASSESSMENT
Mr. McFadden: Yesterday the council of the city of Toronto rejected market value reassessment.
As this House knows, I have fought against the imposition of market value assessment in Toronto since the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Nixon) released, almost two years ago, the Goyette report on property taxes, which recommended that the provincial government should impose market value assessment if Toronto failed to voluntarily adopt it.
The Minister of Revenue has indicated over the months his continuing support for the implementation of market value assessment in Metropolitan Toronto. The release by the minister last month of the impact study of market value assessment on property taxes based on 1984 values confirmed our worst fears. Older, centrally located neighbourhoods in Toronto would be devastated by market value assessment. Many seniors and young families would be forced to sell their homes as their property taxes would rise by 25 per cent, 50 per cent, 100 per cent or more. Stable neighbourhoods would be devastated.
There are inequities in the current system of property taxes, but it is insane to try to deal with these problems by imposing a property tax system which would make home owners hostages to market trends and land speculation. Ontario needs property tax reform. It does not need the havoc brought about by market value assessment.
Mr. Swart: I would also like to read letters from constituents criticizing the insurance companies and the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter), but I do not like to be discriminatory and if I read all the letters I had I would have to have the floor until the end of the session. Instead of doing that, I want to say a few words about gasoline prices.
I want to say that the Liberal government is scoring more and more failures in protecting the consumers of this province, but one classic has to be the inaction on gasoline prices. Not only has it done nothing to equalize them between northern Ontario and the south, but it has not raised a finger or a syllable against the recent province-wide hikes. We have been badgering the minister since he has been in office to intervene and get some legislation.
Two months ago the government of Nova Scotia rolled back retail prices by two and a half cents per litre. It was estimated that rollback would save consumers there $62 million annually. The same rollback in Ontario would save consumers $1 billion annually. Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland are now moving towards gasoline price limits, but not the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter), our minister of corporate support in this province. He simply even refuses to consider putting in any kind of controls.
I want to tell the minister what to do. Instead of putting in a useless review board for insurance which is really going to increase insurance rates in this province, why does he not use one to reduce gasoline prices and do something real for consumers?
Mr. Henderson: On Sunday night, three-year-old John Aucoin fell 14 storeys from a Metro apartment balcony and is at this moment fighting for his life in the Hospital for Sick Children. John crawled up on to a table, then to a four-foot-high concrete ledge and then lost his balance. He clung to a railing screaming for his mommy for several moments before falling 14 storeys.
As a public health physician, parent and legislator, I share in the anguish of this tragedy and join in prayers for little John's recovery. What about prevention of these occurrences? Every few months we hear of such tragedies. They will recur and babies and children will die. What about stiffer safety measures for apartments and apartment balconies where children live? Should these balconies not be enclosed? Should at least railings not be much higher? Should nonremovable window screens be built right on to windows? Should inspections be initiated to prevent the arrangement of furniture on balconies for toddlers to climb up upon?
John will likely survive. Others will not. As we join in prayers for John's recovery, let us take steps to prevent these tragedies. Public health and common sense demand it.
HALTON CENTENNIAL MANOR
Mr. Jackson: My comments have to do with the fact that the Halton regional council, at its meeting of June 3, passed a motion submitting the plan for redevelopment of Halton Centennial Manor to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) for his approval. With 47 per cent of the region's senior population living in Burlington, we question the government's ability to plan for the future needs of the frail elderly for the community of Burlington as well as the region of Halton.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I just wondered if I could have the appreciation of receiving unanimous consent of the House to read a statement of condolence to the family of a prominent public servant.
I would like to take a moment to say a few words about Stanley Payne, who died on Saturday, June 13, after a long illness. Mr. Payne became involved with the province in 1980 when he was appointed to the board of the Ontario Mortgage Corp. In 1984 he was appointed chairman of the board of the Ontario Land Corp. and the Ontario Mortgage Corp. in the Ministry of Housing. He served in that capacity until the transfer of real estate responsibilities to the Ministry of Government Services earlier this year.
Stanley Payne was a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and a partner in Thorne Riddell in Ottawa. His keen financial sense was not only recognized by his professional colleagues, but also by the members of the board he served so well. Everyone who had the opportunity to work with him valued his advice highly.
Ministry staff and I will remember him as one who had a strong grasp of the issues affecting the province's real estate and mortgages portfolio and as one who provided strong and valued leadership throughout in his service to the people of Ontario. Those of us who had the honour to work with Mr. Payne will sorely miss his wisdom, his kindness, his humour and his strong dedication to the principles of fairness and justice. In this time of sadness, our condolences go out to his wife, Gail, and to his children, Alison, Alexander, Leslie and Bruce.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Furthering this government's very real commitment to the farming industry of Ontario, I am pleased to report today that the Ontario government will assist grain producers with $12.7 million in interim payments for grain crops. These payments for grain are being made through the 1986-87 stabilization program of the Farm Income Stabilization Commission. This represents a substantial increase over the $7.8-million interim payment for the 1985 crop.
This stabilization program offers producers an opportunity to take out some income protection against low prices. Grain producers across the province continue to face depressed prices at the present time. A key reason for those depressed prices is the grain subsidy war between the United States and the European Community.
We are making these interim payments before the end of the year to help ease the financial pressures growers are facing because of the depressed commodity prices.
The interim payments are being made on a record number of crops this year; namely, corn, soybeans, barley, winter wheat, oats and canola.
The payment will be based on the number of metric tons a producer registered for 1986. This method will allow the payment to be made quickly, and cheques will begin to flow to farmers by the end of June.
I am also pleased to report that producers growing several commodities will receive one payment cheque this year rather than separate cheques for each commodity.
Along with the recently announced initiatives the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) outlined in the budget, I believe it is clear that this government is determined to assist our grain producers through this difficult time of depressed world grain prices and to ensure that assistance is provided quickly.
Mr. Stevenson: The interim payment, of course, comes about because it is well known that some stabilization payments will be required again this year due to the continuing low prices being received by farmers for their grain commodities. So it is no surprise that there will be payments; the government might be expected to come forward with interim payments.
I think we should look, however, at the situation here with the funding brought forward by this government. The only really significant new program that has come forward on the income side to farmers has been OFFIRR Plus, the new Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, which was introduced in the first few weeks this government was in power.
Look at what has gone on in other governments around the world since the OFFIRR Plus program came in: the United States Food Security Act came on the scene; then came the expansion of subsidies in the world agricultural marketplace, particularly on grains, to basically dump products from other countries on to the world market. Our farmers have suffered very significantly from that.
The response from the federal government has been a $1-billion payment to the farmers of Canada. That single payment made for last year's crop is over double the total budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food here in this province. That was their one response to assist the farmers of Canada and the farmers of Ontario: more than double the total budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food here in Ontario.
There has been no response whatsoever from this government on the new challenges that have faced the agriculturalists of this province since it took power. To stand up here today to announce an interim payment on an existing program that has been in place for many, many years, a program whose calculations are based on the values of the crops in the marketplace, and therefore the payments from this program are decreasing every year as the market value decreases -- here we have an announcement that is just basically saying: "We are sending you out a few cheques a little bit earlier than you would have expected them. They are going to be smaller than you got last year, but they will help a little bit."
What we are really looking for in this situation is a response from this government to get in and assist the federal government in coming up with some new money to address the new problems that have arisen since this government took power. Those have not come forward. They are not in the announcement today and certainly, if history continues to repeat itself, it does not look as though they are going to be forthcoming.
We have heard our current Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) say many, many times in the past what a shame it was that the agricultural budget was less than the tax the government gets from tobacco alone, and even with what increases there have been from this government in agricultural funding the agricultural budget still is well below the income the government gets from the tobacco tax. So they have not really come close to correcting what they deemed was a major problem when they were on the opposition side of the House.
I think the real point of an announcement that should be made today is that the Ontario government still refuses to get involved in any special payments with the federal government to address the new problems that have come along since it took office. They have not been addressed in the past; they have not yet. Ontario farmers need help on the income side of their books, and until they get it they are going to be suffering an unfair disadvantage compared to other farmers in the world.
Mr. Hayes: I do not want to shock the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) and let his head swell any larger than it is, but I welcome this announcement today. I think it is something that is needed very quickly; there is no question that the farmers need that money for stabilization as soon as possible so they can continue to try to keep their farm operations viable.
There is one thing I would like to mention to the minister when he talks about the key reason for depressed prices dealing with the grain subsidy war between the United States and European Community. I think there is another problem here and that is the fact that some of these depressed prices are as a result of the federal government and also this provincial government with their policies of cheap foods in this province and this country. I think those particular issues have to be dealt with.
I hope this government can see some day that the total answer to this is not subsidies but addressing the real problem in agriculture today: the low prices the farmers are receiving. We have to take the initiative here in Ontario to address that particular issue if we want to preserve the family farm in Ontario. In the meantime, I would ask the minister to do whatever he can to expedite these grain stabilization payments to the farmers in Ontario.
Mr. Grossman: My first question today is for the Premier, with regard to interpretation of the Meech Lake accord, which he signed.
On the first page of the accord, it says the government of Canada will guarantee Quebec a number of immigrants which is proportionate to its share of the population, which is 25 per cent; it goes on to say, "with the right to exceed that figure by five per cent for demographic reasons."
My question to the Premier is this. We have checked specifically with his counterparts to ascertain their understanding of that extra five per cent. I would like to know from the Premier whether that five per cent is in addition to the 25 per cent, meaning 30 per cent of all the immigration, or whether the five per cent is five per cent on their 25 per cent base. That is a significant difference amounting to thousands of immigrants, and we should like to know specifically whether it is 30 per cent or five per cent on 25.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Let me try to go back and explain to the honourable member this discussion we have had on several other occasions in this House. The honourable member will be aware by now, having studied the matter, that some of the assertions he has made in this House were factually incorrect. He gave the impression it would interfere with family reunification, which is not part of the targets. I am sure my honourable friend now knows that it applies only to independent immigrants.
It is a fact that Quebec has been substantially below its targets over the last period of years. Presumably they will come up to that target and anything else will be an add-on to the overall targets, and no one's immigration is being detracted from.
Mr. Grossman: Specifically, the information the Premier has given, regardless of how many times he says others are factually inaccurate, the fact is that he has just interpreted the agreement totally inconsistently with every other observer and participant to the Meech Lake accord across the country. It is time he stopped accusing everyone of being factually inaccurate when in point of fact we have consistently been the only ones who have been factually accurate in interpreting that accord on the immigration issue in this House.
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Grossman: The Premier's record on being factually accurate, I might also tell him, stands to be judged by a lot more people than me.
Mr. Speaker: The question?
Mr. Grossman: To get back to the question I asked, which the Premier has not answered, the question is a simple one. The accord guarantees Quebec, in those words, its proportion of the population in immigration, which is 25 per cent, plus five per cent. If that means 30 per cent, that means they get an additional 5,750 immigrants. If it means five per cent on their share, it means an additional 1,438. The difference is very significant. Can the Premier tell me which it is? Is it 30 per cent or is it five per cent on their 25?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Plus or minus five per cent of their share. But let me tell the honourable member we are dealing with targets now. As he knows, they have been way below targets for some substantial number of years. I do not see that the question my honourable friend raises causes any concern at all. The targets are moving and the federal government is committed to substantially increasing those targets over the next five years. What in fact we will probably see is increased immigration to every province.
In addition to that, my honourable friend will be aware that Ontario gets 45 to 50 per cent of the immigrants, because most people want to settle here.
Mr. Grossman: Let us try to get the Premier to be specific in his understanding of this section. He is now using the word "target." The Premier worked through two long meetings. He alleges in this House that he personally worked long and hard on drafting this document. The document does not say "target." The document says the government of Canada will reach "an agreement with the government of Quebec that would...guarantee that Quebec will receive" its share of 25 per cent of all immigration.
So that we can move this debate forward both here and in Quebec, can the Premier tell us today that "guarantee" is the wrong word and that what he meant in signing the agreement was "target"? If he did, that would create some great degree of furore in Quebec. Does this guarantee Quebec 25 per cent or is this just a target? If it is the latter, will he say so and will he insist that word be deleted from the agreement?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think my honourable friend is misinterpreting that. It means exactly what it says it means. As he knows, there have been targets for a long period of time but all the provinces have fallen below those targets over the last little while. Quebec specifically can obviously come up to its 25 per cent plus or minus five per cent, as agreed to along the traditions and provisions contained in the Cullen-Couture agreement.
I think my honourable friend is trying to make an issue out of something that no one else is registering the same concerns about, which is not new for my honourable friend. I never cease to be amazed at my honourable friend, who went to Ottawa last week and said, "We stand as members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in great awe of the Prime Minister's achievement at Meech Lake and the Langevin Block." He says different things in Toronto. I do not know what he is going to say in Thunder Bay next week. Let me say that my honourable friend cannot have it all ways. I did not hear him discussing this in that speech in Ottawa last night.
Mr. Speaker: New question, and for which minister?
Mr. Grossman: The difference between the Premier and the Prime Minister is that he understands what he signed. We may disagree with what he signed but he knows what he did.
Mr. Speaker: Question. To which minister?
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. Grossman: My second question is to the Premier as well. As discussed yesterday, on June 10 of this year the cost of obtaining a one-bedroom apartment on the market was $670 a month in Toronto. Thanks to the steps taken by his government, disabled pensioners will be getting $655 a month, not $755 as the federal government intended. Can he explain how he expects disabled persons living on $655 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Metropolitan Toronto when the cost of doing so is $670 a month?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not know where the honourable member gets his figures. Perhaps he took an average out of the Toronto Star, as he suggested yesterday. It is interesting to note that the last figure from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. on that very same subject is that the average rental in the city of Toronto is $460, so he is $200 off one way or the other. The operating premise of my honourable friend's question is incorrect.
Mr. Grossman: The $460 happens to be the average rent, according to CMHC, being paid by those people who are already fortunate enough to have one-bedroom apartments in Metropolitan Toronto. But as to those who have looked at the market, the Premier will find that the cost of acquiring one as it comes on the market is $670 a month.
I am not even going to quibble over the difference in amounts. I will rephrase my question to the Premier. The disabled people in this province are allowed to receive only $655 a month, thanks to his policies. Under his analysis, the cost of having a one-bedroom apartment in Metropolitan Toronto is $480 a month, or say $460 or whatever. How does the Premier expect the disabled people in this province to survive when they have to pay for a one-bedroom apartment at least $480 a month?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I appreciate my honourable friend now adjusting his second question in accordance with the facts. At least it means an admission that he was wrong with his original question.
I should tell my honourable friend that we have, I believe, 12,000 units in Ontario Housing. We have a number of rent-geared-to-income apartments. There was a major increase in the last budget with respect to housing for the disabled. My honourable friend will be aware of a massive number of programs brought in by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) as well as by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) to assist people with special needs.
I am not pretending for a minute that it is adequate, and I am not pretending for a minute that we could not do more, but I think the member has seen enormous activity from this government to try to bring real independence of living for the disabled community.
Mr. Grossman: Let us just clarify the record, because I know how careful the Premier alleges he always is about the record. I did not correct my figures. I pointed out to him that our figure in terms of the apartments that were available is $670 a month. If the Premier wants to begin being factually accurate in this area and others, he will acknowledge, like a gentleman, the fact we presented out of the Star's available apartments list is $670 a month. The CMHC list of what people who have apartments in this province are paying is also factually accurate at $480 a month. But in order to give him an opportunity to explain why he has decided to peg the disabled people on pensions at $655 a month --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Grossman: -- and where he expects them to live when the average rent is $480 a month, minimum, for a one-bedroom apartment, I posed that question, and he continues to duck it months after he, his minister and his Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) have stolen $100 out of the pockets of the disabled pensioners of this province.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: My question to the Premier is this --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Premier.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I can restate that my honourable friend opposite is interested in creating two classes of the disabled. He knows my honourable colleague has made a major new contribution to the disability pensions. He has helped 80,000 people, rather than the 12,000 or so the member would like to help. There has been an increase of $72 per person. One can argue again that it could be more, but I believe that with the major new infusions into the budget for the disabled, we have helped many, many people who were not helped previously, particularly by his government.
Mr. Rae: I guess it is clear that the Liberal Party has one policy with respect to the disabled in terms of one class of disabled, and that is to make sure all of them are poor.
My question to the Premier is with respect to another area of government policy. I wonder if the Premier can tell us precisely what is the Liberal government's policy with respect to affirmative action in the public sector.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: As the honourable member will be aware, we have undertaken a major survey called the "I count" survey of the public service. My honourable friend, I am sure, is aware of that, and I am sure he is aware we will have an announcement in the very near future. My honourable friend has an uncanny ability to know when we are going to make an announcement and to stand up and ask a question about it two days ahead of time and then take credit for it. My honourable friend will be hearing very shortly from the government on this matter.
Mr. Rae: The Premier seems uncannily touchy -- and he obviously now has some document that has been put in front of him by the Treasurer. I would like to ask whether the Premier can explain --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Where did you get your document?
Mr. Rae: The Minister of Energy is an expert on natural gas and on nothing else.
What I would like to ask the Premier is this: I have here copies of all the Job Marts in the last year, which I will send over to the Premier in a moment. The pictures of senior executive appointments are contained, as well as short biographies.
The Premier will find there is an absolutely remarkable lack of the faces of Ontario that are in any sense representative of the modern province. I wonder if the Premier can explain that, and I wonder if he can explain why his government has, up to this time, consistently refused to implement the affirmative action and employment equity programs it said it would introduce when it formed the government and signed the accord with the New Democratic Party.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I know my honourable friend, in the interests of fairness, would want to know all the facts pertaining to the question he has asked. I want to tell my honourable friend, and the honourable Treasurer just pointed this out to me, that during 1986-87 the number of women appointed to executive positions has increased by 196 per cent over 1985-86. Again, I am not arguing it is perfect, but we have made major progress in that area and we will continue to do so.
I said to my honourable friend that the first thing we set about to do was to get a detailed analysis of the true representative makeup of our public service through the "I count" study, to find out where the strengths and weaknesses are. In a very short time, we will share that study with the House, with all its flaws, as well as our plans to rectify those situations.
Mr. Rae: Since the Premier is using percentages, when he looks at the absolute numbers they cannot be nearly as good. He knows that and so does the Treasurer. He is a master with figures in terms of giving the figures to the Premier.
Could the Premier look at two questions? First of all, even in his own answer he refers specifically only to women, where the numbers are still around a quarter of the appointments in the public sector, which is well below what any sense of representativeness would provide. He has not dealt with the question of visible minorities and he has not touched on the question of the disabled in terms of their access to positions of power and authority in the public service.
Can the Premier explain why the government has consistently refused to introduce an affirmative action program, not only with respect to women but also with respect to visible minorities and the handicapped? Why is it that he has consistently rejected the approach suggested by my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), as chairman of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, and has instead imposed a system of political patronage worthy of the 42 years that preceded his coming to office in 1985?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The honourable member accuses the Treasurer of being a master with figures. He is correct in that assertion. He is indeed very competent in that regard. I think my honourable friend will know that the deficiency of members of his own party is that they do not understand the figures and are not prepared to respond to the facts as they are presented in this House.
I go back to my honourable friend and I say to him that we have launched a detailed statistical analysis of the public service. That has taken some time to do. I think it has been sensibly done, and we have a great deal more information with which to deal than we had in the past.
I should tell my honourable friend that the preliminary conclusion in that regard is that the public service does, in broad numbers, represent the population as a whole in Ontario. Of course, the problem is that there tends to be clustering at the lower levels. That is why we are dealing with these situations. We have a detailed analysis and I have said we will have a statement for my honourable friend in the very near future.
With respect to the order-in-council appointments, I invite my honourable friend to make a completely detailed analysis of those order-in-council appointments, as many of his colleagues have done in the past. He will look at what has happened with respect to those appointments. I can tell him we have made enormous progress in bringing people from all walks of life into sharing all aspects of the institution. Compared to the past, it is an unbelievable change, because it truly reflects the kind of Ontario we believe in on this side of the House.
Mr. Rae: As a teacher of mine once said, there is a big difference between saying something and proving something. The only problem with what the Premier has said is that it is not in conformity with any sense of the facts out there. It has taken him a year to discover what everybody in this province knows; that is, our senior levels of the public service are not representative of the general population.
Mr. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Housing. I would like to welcome him back to the House and ask him a question about housing supply. I never got an answer to this question before he went away for a time. I do not know whether it was the question that had that effect on him or whether it was something else.
Can the minister tell us why the government of Ontario's Renterprise program is subsidizing the construction of condominiums and not the construction of affordable rental accommodation? Why are we falling thousands of units short of the 24,000 units a year which the minister himself said was the target for Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I also missed the honourable leader of the third party. I missed his questions. I thought in the time of my absence he would have gotten something right.
The last time I told the member we do not subsidize condominiums. The Renterprise program is a program that is contributing to the rental supplies we need. There is no way we supply funds for condominium conversions there. Should those builders want to convert the units to condominiums, all the money forwarded to those developers must be returned to the government. I would like to make it very plain that we do not supply money for condominiums at all. I hope the member gets that right. This is the second time I have said it in the House.
In answer to the second question, about 23,000 units have been allocated to date, which is far more than was done when the previous government was in power.
Mr. Rae: I hope the minister is listening and I hope everybody was listening when the minister said he was staking his reputation on the fact that the government of Ontario does not subsidize the construction of condominium housing.
I can tell the minister that is precisely what has happened with respect to buildings that have been built under the Renterprise program. If he is not aware of that fact, I am sorry for him. I am sorry he said his reputation depends on that being true because the fact is that condominium conversion and the end result of having condominiums is a direct result of the Renterprise program.
By way of supplementary, I would like to ask the minister a specific question with respect to apartment hotels. The minister will be aware of an apartment hotel at 1101 Bay Street which belongs to his friend, close colleague and adviser Mr. Grenier, the person who was so instrumental in drafting Bill 11 and also the rent review legislation
I wonder whether the minister is aware of the number of units that are now being converted from apartments to condominiums on an individual basis so that rents are going up from some $650 per month to over $100 per day. Is he aware of the transformation of literally dozens of units in that one building from being affordable apartments to being unaffordable hotel suites?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: What does the minister intend to do to stop it? Can he in fact stop it under Bill 11?
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Those matters came to my attention a couple of days ago, and the ministry is investigating to see if there are any conversions in that respect. We are looking into the matter, and if there is an illegal process in that the necessary steps will be taken.
Mr. Reville: Given that the minister is failing on supply and failing on protection of our existing stock, will he confirm that under the third prong of the housing policy, the protection of tenants, he is failing there too?
l have a tenant who has advised us that her rent increase that has been applied for will be 100 per cent: from $805 a month to $1,610 a month. That would be an increase of $805 a month. Will the minister confirm that his Bill 51, which was supposed to protect tenants, will in fact allow an increase of this type; and will he pay particular attention in his answer to subsection 80(2)?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I cannot understand why the honourable member, who applauded Bill 51 so much and voted for it, would regard it as a failure. I cannot understand either how he can regard as a failure the assured housing policies that we put in place 18 months ago, which have committed us so far to over 23,000 social housing units.
Nor can I understand how he can regard it as a failure when we have brought all units under rent review and there is a guideline that no rent can be increased unless it comes before the process of rent review. If the individual whom the member states in the House today has an increase of over 100 per cent, or $800 -- and I stand to be corrected -- if that is the case, it has to come before the rent review process first for any increase to be justified. I cannot see as a failure having a process in place to protect those tenants.
Mr. Reville: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister care to withdraw the slander that I somehow supported the noxious Bill 51?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think it is up to all members to state the facts. Order. New question.
Mr. Pope: I have a question for the Premier. Could the Premier explain what we really find inexplicable: that is, his continuing coverup of his responsibility and his mishandling of IDEA Corp. funds, to the tune of $8 million.
Can he explain why he has not yet adhered to the wishes of the standing committee on public accounts and filed the Biddell report; the IDEA Corp. financial statement for the year ended March 31, 1986; the Ministry of Government Services internal audit; the Ontario Provincial Police investigation reports? Why does he continue in this fashion to refuse to provide information to the public on his abuse and his waste of the public's money?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My understanding is that there was a request for Mr. Biddell's report and that it has not yet been completed, but Mr. Biddell has offered the committee to invite him to appear before it to ask him any questions it would like. I think that offer is open and I hope the member will take advantage of it.
Mr. Pope: The committee moved, in its motion almost two weeks ago now, that if the information was not supplied by June 15 a Speaker's warrant should issue. I hope that today a Speaker's warrant will issue for these documents, because the government has not provided a single one of them.
The Biddell report has been finished and has been quoted as being dated February 1987. The OPP investigation has already provided notes to the chief law officer of the crown. Now we want to know why the Premier and his government are continuing to cover up the waste of $8 million, with documents that now exist and that he refuses to produce for the Legislature. Why does he continue to cover up?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not think the member is correct in that assertion. As I said, I understand a letter has gone forth to the committee offering up all the information, as is appropriate. There is some suggestion that he would like to summon the OPP; I gather they have some view that that is interfering with an investigation. But we have absolutely no problem with making all this information public.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We have had the Premier today give statements that indicate somebody else is making statements that are not true. We have had the Premier again do that. We had the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) give a statement to this Legislature which everybody knows is factually incorrect.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you that unless he is prepared to stand in his place and correct the record, then he is going to stand there and tell a blatant lie to this House. It is one or the other.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. McClellan: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I was waiting for the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) to finish his question. Under standing order 19, the rules of the debate, Mr. Speaker, you are obliged to call a member to order when he imputes false or unavowed motives to another member or makes allegations against another member. The Minister of Housing has said, falsely, that we supported Bill 51. You are obliged by the standing orders to call the minister to order and ask him to withdraw the false statement he made and apologize to the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: One of the most regrettable aspects about the debate in this forum from time to time is when honourable members, in the heat of a moment, will consider a statement of the type that the Minister of Housing made, which is an unpremeditated error --
Mr. O'Connor: Let him say so.
Mr. McClellan: Let him stand up and apologize.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: All right -- and say that it is an unmitigated lie. That, of course, should not be permitted in this House. The statement was corrected by the honourable member opposite, and there is nothing the matter with that.
I would say further that when an honourable member gets up and corrects another member on factual matters, it can either be a debate or it is accepted. I would say that under these circumstances there is no problem, but when individual members construe that as a lie, then they downgrade this House in a way which is unacceptable and unnecessary.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Minister of Housing on the same point.
Hon. Mr. Curling: When I made the statement, my comment was that there are many parts of Bill 51 that the honourable member supports in principle. If I gave the impression that he supports the bill in its entirety, I withdraw that. It was not intended to defame the member in any way. I am just completely shocked at the manner in which they regard this, that I am lying to them in that respect.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Bellwoods suggested on that point of order that it is up to the Speaker to decide. That was the point of order, that the Speaker was to decide whether the content was correct or not.
Mr. McClellan: It is a matter of public record.
Mr. Speaker: Order. In the past, it has been my opinion that the Speaker is not the authority to judge the content of an answer according to the facts. That is up to the members of the House.
Mr. Pope: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), the government House leader, indicated that it was perfectly in order for a member who had a disagreement with a statement made by another member to rise and correct the record. Mr. Speaker, you ruled me out of order when I started that process.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It has been the tradition and the custom that members may get up and correct the record as far as what they have placed on the record is concerned. I have said that many times, and I hope the members will understand.
We will continue with question period.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is to the Premier. We passed Bill 7 in this House so that our laws in Ontario supposedly would conform to the Charter of Rights, which was proclaimed several years ago. Could the Premier explain to me why it is that the one section of that act which has not been proclaimed is the section about reasonable accommodation for the disabled? Even though his interministerial committee approved regulations in December 1986, some ministers seem to be holding up those regulations from going through. Could he tell us why that has occurred, and which ministers are holding them up?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am not aware of the allegation the honourable member is making, but I will certainly look into the matter and share the information with him as quickly as I can.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: While the Premier is looking into it, he might be aware that almost 18 months ago now the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), in response to this problem being raised about the cost of reasonable accommodation, indicated that when the act was proclaimed he would institute an undue hardship fund which would top up the cost of accommodation to employers, special service providers and landlords. We have heard nothing at all about that supposed undue hardship fund either. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: It is my understanding there were some major initiatives in the budget, even in the budget of more than a year ago. I am not familiar with the exact thing the member is referring to or if he is quoting the Attorney General, but I will look at all aspects of it and share that information with him.
Mr. Brandt: Yesterday in this House, I raised a question with the Minister of Municipal Affairs with respect to a quote that was attributed to the Liberal candidate in the Sarnia riding. The minister indicated that quote was inaccurate. We on this side of the House are having increasing difficulty determining what is accurate from that side of the House and what is an appropriate response to questions we are raising. Regarding the response he gave me yesterday with respect to the matter pertaining to the boundary negotiations in the Sarnia area, will the minister indicate whether he made that statement or did not make that statement?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I do not think a Liberal candidate should become a speaker for the government. It is only when a person is elected that he can speak for the government. I will repeat my answer of yesterday. I still claim that the township, the county and the city of Sarnia can find a solution to their problem.
Mr. Brandt: For the record, I want to read a quote from this morning's London Free Press: "Informed that Grandmaître had denied saying it, Link-Melon made a spontaneous uncomplimentary remark." I leave it open for the minister's interpretation what that could possibly have meant, although at the earliest opportunity I will ask her what that uncomplimentary remark was.
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Brandt: "`I cannot believe he denied that,' she said. His assistant and the man who takes pictures for the Premier were right there." Will the minister tell us whether Joan Link-Melon was accurate or whether the Minister of Municipal Affairs is telling this House what happened on that particular occasion?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I can assure the member and this House that I have never taken a picture with the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and that candidate.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We are having increasing difficulty with the Premier, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) and other members of the cabinet on statements to this Legislature. British tradition indicates that when a member lies to the House, he should resign. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this is not another example of that taking place in this Legislature in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Ms. Gigantes: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister has stated his intention to provide operating support grants to existing day care centres that operate on a profit basis. He has not yet defined what "existing" means and the existing profit centres are expanding weekly. I wonder if in the meantime he can tell us if a grant will be given to the existing licensed for-profit operator only or will it be attached to the for-profit centre.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The intent of direct grants is that they go to the centre. That is the whole purpose of them, so that they can be used to increase the wages of centre employees and keep down the fees parents would otherwise have to pay in order to increase those wages. The member is making a distinction that I am not sure I am appreciating, but they are directed towards the centre.
Ms. Gigantes: I am trying to find out just how far the minister is prepared to go in replicating the nursing home chain pattern in the child care field. For example, in nursing homes in Ottawa-Carleton, there are two firms that now control over 80 per cent of the spaces. I would like to ask the minister, if one operator of a for-profit day care centre finds it profitable to buy up other existing profit-run centres, will that operator continue to receive public moneys for operating costs at the centres he has purchased?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: If the centre exists on the day on which the grants are given, the dollars that go to that centre would continue to go; but I remind the honourable member that this ministry has the authority, and is the only organization that has the authority, to issue that licence. The licence is not for sale. The centre may be, but the licence is not for sale.
Mr. Speaker: The acting Minister of Government Services (Mr. Conway) has a response to a question previously asked by the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies). I do not see the member for Brantford here. Is it okay? No?
Mr. Harris: The Premier knows that the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins) is still in violation of the Premier's own conflict-of-interest guidelines. The member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) is still in violation because his disclosures and holdings have still not been filed with the Clerk of the House for public scrutiny. The Premier refuses to either enforce his own guidelines or remove the parliamentary assistant until he can comply.
I would like to ask the Premier today, in the light of the fact he has the audacity to suggest we should be looking at new conflict-of-interest guidelines, can he at least explain why these disclosures have not been filed?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The reason, as we have discussed before, is that I understand he is tying up some of the legal details and we will see it shortly.
Mr. Harris: Does the Premier not realize that he is making a mockery of his own guidelines and his own integrity in suggesting that these guidelines mean something? A fair question might be, do his guidelines mean anything at all? Why do we have them? One and a half years after these affairs were brought to the Premier's attention and five months after the most recent appointment, surely the Premier has no alternative than to ask his parliamentary assistant to step down until his affairs can be brought into compliance, if that is possible.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think the honourable member has read the guidelines carefully and recognizes that there are some interpretations that can be drawn in different ways with respect to the dates and the times applying thereto. That is one of the reasons we need new conflict-of-interest legislation: to make it absolutely, perfectly clear for everyone. I say to my honourable friend that it is being tied up and will be cleaned up very shortly.
MARKET VALUE ASSESSMENT
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Treasurer on the subject of property tax and property tax reform. The Treasurer will know that yesterday city council of Toronto voted unanimously to reject, if I may say, the Treasurer's secondhand market value assessment plan that many of them had previously supported. As well, the city council passed a unanimous resolution asking the Treasurer to reaffirm his commitment not to impose this market value assessment system on the city of Toronto over its objections. Can the Treasurer reconfirm his commitment not to impose this scheme against the unanimous wishes of the city of Toronto's council?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The request for the impact study came from the reassessment task force established by Metropolitan Toronto council with representatives of all the cities. The first thing we did upon coming into office was to make public the impact study, which was sitting in the shelves of the Ministry of Revenue and had not been made public. Then, at the request of the task force and the metropolitan council, we updated that to 1984 levels. That information, as soon as it was ready - - ahead of schedule, I would tell the member -- was presented to the metropolitan council. They have made that public.
I am going to wait until the task force has heard from all the cities, including the city of Toronto, and make some resolution in that regard before I respond in the House. I feel it is essential that they, as representatives of the various cities with varying impacts -- admittedly, by far the most serious impact in the city of Toronto -- all have an opportunity to look at what the task force can put to the various components of metropolitan council on the basis of capping assessment changes and phasing them in, before I respond to whatever the municipalities give me as an indication of their requirement.
Mr. McClellan: Given that the Treasurer must be aware that between May 1985 and May 1987 the market value of a house in Metropolitan Toronto -- not just the city of Toronto, but Metropolitan Toronto -- has increased from an average price of $109,624 to $208,187, an increase of 91.2 per cent in two years, surely the Treasurer will realize it is impossible to base a property tax system on that kind of housing market. It is a roulette wheel, a crap game, that will drive many thousands of people out of their homes.
Will the Treasurer simply reaffirm his commitment not to allow this to be imposed unilaterally; and second, begin to remove the education component and the cost of human services from the property tax instead of threatening schemes which literally drive people out of their homes?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The honourable member will know that I am not making any threats. I am also aware that in spite of the tone of his question, he is aware that the taxes payable are a function of assessment and mill rate, and that not only the city of Toronto but all of the metropolitan area has experienced a substantial increase in the market value of the properties. As a matter of fact, that is true right across the province; it is across Canada.
It seems to me that his argument about assessment, while it is a matter of concern for the people who are experiencing the increased assessment, must be moderated by the experience that everyone has, that the actual tax rate is the assessment times the mill rate. Anybody who was elected to council would be very foolish indeed if he did not move in an appropriate way to see that mill rates were reduced as assessments went up. That is the way it is supposed to work, and I know the honourable member is aware of that.
Mr. Gordon: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Can the minister explain why Ellis-Don, which is doing the work at the SkyDome, is assessed a Workers' Compensation Board rate of 9.91 per cent for doing formwork when the assessed rate for formwork is 12.77 per cent?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Yes, I can, if I can find the note. There is a difference between the general contractors' rate and the rate for those doing formwork. While Ellis-Don is doing the formwork, the WCB has, as is typical in these cases, simply assessed Ellis-Don on its more general duties, which are as a general contractor on this project.
Mr. Gordon: I am sure the minister, as Minister of Labour, is concerned about the liability fund, which is up to about $5.8 billion right now in the province, and is also concerned about the fact that there are loopholes at the present time in this Workers' Compensation Act and how it impacts on various classifications. I am sure it has been brought to his attention too that on this job alone, Ellis-Don will probably save itself somewhere in the neighbourhood of $450,000 through misclassifying. Would he not think it is his job, as the minister, to see that savings of this sort go towards the liability fund and do not go to the contractor of the SkyDome?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Let us just get one thing clear: there is no misclassifying going on here, and the honourable member should know it if he does not already. Commercial construction companies can be charged under one of two rate groups: either commercial general contractors, rate group 854, $9.91 per $100; or high-rise cement forming, rate group 753 --
Mr. Harris: Why should somebody be charged more for the same work? Does that make sense?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) has not been asked for a supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Ellis-Don has been classified into the commercial general contractor category because of the nature of its business. Since Ellis-Don performs all the work associated with the dome project, it is categorized under the commercial general contractors rate group.
This is, I say to my friend, not the first, second, third, fourth or 14th time. It is all covered under regulation 951-5. A thorough review has been done by the chairman of the board, a former colleague of ours, Dr. Elgie, and he confirms to my staff that everything here has been done quite correctly and quite properly.
ONTARIO LOTTERY CORP.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I was there, and you don't know what you're talking about.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Nickel Belt would like your attention.
Mr. Mackenzie: Why don't you tell the Minister of Energy (Mr. Kerrio) to shut up?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Nickel Belt would like to ask a question, if you would allow it.
Mr. Laughren: I can understand why the government does not want to hear my question. I have a question to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister will know that Bill 115, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, passed first reading, second reading, went out to committee for public hearings and was referred back to the chamber for third reading. Can the minister tell me why it has not been called for third reading and if he intends to see that it does proceed to third reading this session?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: I want to assure the honourable member I am still committed to this legislation. I find it both desirable and necessary, and I hope it can be presented before the end of this session.
Mr. Laughren: That is not nearly good enough. The minister knows full well that the Attorney General of Florida has asked for an injunction against the sale of these lottery tickets in that state. The minister knows full well that if he does not pass this bill, there will be lottery tickets from other jurisdictions flooding the Ontario market, which will do us a lot of harm in this province, considering the programs lottery sales fund in Ontario.
Can the minister give me one single reason why he will not make an absolute commitment today to make sure Bill 115 is called for third reading this session?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: As I have said, we certainly are still committed to this legislation. I find it rather surprising that the official opposition has stated that when the bill comes forward, it wants to spend several days debating this. I find it also strange that the official opposition has changed its position, because in November 1984 the former minister said the government would not condone this and would take action. I also find it surprising that it has changed its position in that the official critic for the Conservative Party asked me in committee in January 1986 when we were going to take action on this. Why does the opposition not get on board and support it instead of filibustering it for several days?
Mr. Pope: The fact of the matter is that it is not even on the Liberal government House leader's list to be introduced. That is the fact of the matter.
FISHING LICENCE REVENUES
Mr. Pope: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources, who yesterday blurted out the truth, something we have always suspected, and that is that in spite of his promise some eight months ago, some of the fish licence revenues are going for the hiring of conservation officers. Can he explain why he is breaking his promise to the fishermen and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and increasing the employees and the employee benefits package by more than $4.5 million this year over the previous year and, in fact, using some of those revenues to hire additional conservation officers?
Hon. Mr Kerrio: There was never any question that there are those involved in the fishing in Ontario, the sportsmen groups, that fully accept that conservation officers play a major role in taking the whole fisheries.
Mr. Bernier: Come off it.
Mr. Wildman: Oh, come off it, Vince.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I tell the member unequivocally that I never said anything other than there was going to be all this money go into the fishing management, and conservation officers certainly play a very vital role. That has never changed.
Mr. Warner: That is not what you said. New story.
Mr. Pope: The minister has the nerve to stand there and say he did not say something that he clearly said not more than six months ago.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps the member would take his seat for a moment and relax, cool down.
Mr. Pope: I am not going to cool down. I want to ask a question.
Mr. Speaker: A supplementary?
Mr. Pope: I have a supplementary question to the Minister of Natural Resources. His own statistics, provided through an answer to a question in Orders and Notices, show virtually no increase this year over last year in the number of fish stocked and no increase this year over last year in the fish production out of the government hatcheries.
Will the minister now admit that the whole thing over the last year was a hoax? He really grabbed that money; he broke his promise to the fishermen; he is using it to do his regular policing programs: closing roads, denying fishing opportunities to the fishermen of this province. In other words, he really misrepresented what he was --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Brandt: You promised us fish.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) accused the minister of misrepresenting. Will he withdraw that? Order. Will he withdraw it?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We don't like that word any more.
Mr. Pope: That is not what I said.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: You said "misrepresented."
Mr. Pope: Read back what I said.
Mr. Speaker: Will you withdraw? Order.
Mr. Jackson: Read Hansard.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It is not courtroom behaviour. You wouldn't act this way in the courtroom.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member accused another member of misrepresenting. Will he withdraw that word?
Mr. Pope: No, I do not think so.
Mr. Speaker: No? Order.
Mr. Barlow: Read Hansard.
Mr. Pope: The Liberal lies have to end some time.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I will ask the member once again. Will you withdraw?
Mr. Pope: No. I didn't say what you said I said, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: No? I have no other choice but to name the member.
Mr. Pope left the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: Order. A new question, the member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: Will the Minister of Natural Resources give this House a commitment that he will live up to the --
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There is a point of order.
Mr. Harris: Actually, I have two points of order. One, the minister was asked a question that he has not yet answered. Two, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Wildman: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Harris: The member asked a question and the minister did not answer.
Mr. Wildman: I want to ask a question. Sit down.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Harris: On a further point of order, Mr. Speaker: You asked a member to withdraw something that he indicated to you he did not say. You would not allow me to get on my feet and suggest that you check the record or check Hansard before you possibly make an error that you may regret, that is ask a member to leave for something he did not say. Do you not think it would make sense that you do that before you name a member?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma.
Mr. Wildman: On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker: On January 28, 1987, the Minister of Natural Resources made a commitment in this House, in answer to a question from my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), that he would spend the money on fisheries enhancement. If he cannot make that commitment again today, he has misrepresented his position and he should resign.
Mr. Speaker: Here we go again. Order. I will wait.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma accused another member of misrepresentation. Would the member withdraw that? Yes or no?
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect to you and to your office, I cannot withdraw unless the minister makes that commitment to the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma will not withdraw that? No? I have no other choice but to name the member.
Mr. Wildman left the chamber.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I would like to present the following petition:
"We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the Minister of Labour to immediately enact legislation to stop the hiring of strikebreakers in Ontario."
Mr. Pierce: I have a petition from the residents north of Stratton, who were subject to a fire on sections 9, 10, 15, 16 and 21 in the geographical township of Pattullo. It reads:
"We, the undersigned, being aware that this fire originated on crown land and/or on MTC road allowance on or before Sunday, April 5, 19B7, and given the fact that the MNR was notified about this fire on or before Wednesday, April 8, 1987, yet failed to contain it, are of the opinion that no costs incurred by the MNR in fighting this fire should be charged to the township of Morley and, further, that the losses suffered by land owners should be the responsibility of the MNR and/or the MTC."
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
TRESPASS TO PROPERTY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Henderson moved first reading of Bill 86, An Act to amend the Trespass to Property Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: The member may have a brief explanation. If any of the other members who are having private conversations could keep them as low as possible, the member would like to explain his bill.
Mr. Henderson: The purpose of the bill is to entitle members of the public to remain on private commercial premises that are open to the public as long as doing so is not significantly interfering with that commercial purpose or with the public's use of the premises. A subsection to this effect is added to section 2 of the act in order to make that amendment and achieve that result.
TOWNSHIP OF CHAPLEAU ACT
Mr. Laughren moved first reading of Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Township of Chapleau.
Motion agreed to.
AGENCIES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Before the orders of the day, I would like to table the update of the jobs associated with provincial boards, agencies and commissions. These books are in the library in reasonably general distribution. They list all the jobs available in the provincial agencies, boards and commissions, who occupies the positions, when those appointments come up for reappointment or new appointment and what the salaries are. I know the honourable members on the other side will read them with a great deal of interest.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I would also like to table a public opinion poll on an interesting subject.
Mr. McClellan: What is the subject?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Television or something. Read it.
NOTICES OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Speaker: Before I call for orders of the day, I would like to inform the members that the member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell) gave notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway). This will be dealt with this evening in a late show at 6 p. m.
Also, the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) gave notice that he was dissatisfied with the answer given by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio). This will also be dealt with at six o'clock this evening.
Mr. Laughren: Can he come back in for that?
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Keyes moved second reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I would like to elaborate very briefly on the purpose of this bill, which is to increase the size of the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police from five to seven members, with the intent that the Lieutenant Governor in Council will make one appointment and the Metro council will also make one additional appointment.
Mr. Partington: I am pleased to rise in support of the bill. Clearly, a police force the size of the Metropolitan Toronto Police requires a board large enough to deal with its many areas of responsibility. Clearly, those responsibilities are great and require substantial input, substantial skills and knowledge of police affairs. Increasing the number from five to seven will be, I am sure, a step in that direction.
I would like to see the minister go further at some future date and ensure that there is a continuity of expertise among the numbers of members of the police commission, but I am certainly pleased to support the bill presented today.
Ms. Bryden: I rise to speak on Bill 81, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
This bill amends the act by increasing the size of the board from five to seven members. Metro council will appoint one additional member and the province will appoint another. Although it increases the number of Metro members, the bill still maintains the province's overall majority on the board.
The minister has not given us any particular reasons why the board should be enlarged. Has the work load or the responsibilities of the board increased? He has not told us this. How many police commissions in the province are this size, or will this be the largest police commission in Ontario? What new areas of work will the board's members be involved in which would lead to the need for more members? I think the minister should give us this information before we consider second reading.
If there are no adequate answers to these questions, one is tempted to think that the purpose of the bill is to create two more plums to be handed out by Metro council and the provincial government. These positions will become part of the jobs in what is known as ABCs, that is, agencies, boards and commissions, for which there are no job descriptions, no advertising for applicants and no requirements for the appointing bodies, which are Metro council and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to seek suggestions from the general public as to who should be considered.
We have ruled out judges as being eligible for appointment to police commissions by a 1983 amendment to the act, but beyond that the appointing bodies can select whomever they like, although the Metro council appointees must be drawn from the members of Metro council.
In the case of the province, there is no restriction of any kind, except to rule out the judges. The province's appointees could be people with no previous connection with police work or any special knowledge of the justice system. They could be people who have not been involved in the administration of criminal law or people who are not familiar with the Police Act. They could even be political hacks, and some past appointments under previous governments appear to have fallen into this category.
What is more, the appointing bodies under this legislation can appoint commissioners for any terms they choose. There is no limit on the term of office and no restriction on the number of reappointments which may be made under this legislation. It seems to me this is a defect in the legislation that should be remedied. Like most of the other appointments to agencies, boards and commissions, the members of a police commission, once appointed, are really answerable to no one as long as they keep within the mandate of the commission. If they appear to stray beyond that mandate, they can only be challenged in court by way of asking for judicial review.
The residents in the east end of Toronto, where my riding is located, recently tried that route to challenge whether the government-appointed members of the Ontario Racing Commission had violated their mandate when they refused to hear the residents living in the vicinity of the Greenwood Race Track and refused to consider their concerns. Unfortunately, the court did not uphold this challenge to the mandate and felt the mandate had been followed. In addition, it awarded court costs against those who had dared to make the challenge.
Getting back to the bill, it seems to me that if the Liberal government is to follow its commitment to open government, it should start to advertise when vacancies of this sort occur and it should seek suggestions from the public as to who would be the most suitable people for having a say in the operation of probably the largest police force in the province. It might even consider whether there should be a greater representation from ethnic groups or a greater representation from women.
I will say that the provincial government, in its appointments to police commissions, now has a token woman on most commissions. In a few cases, it has two women, but in most cases, of course, the women are still a minority. I do not know what the ethnic representation is on police commissions, but I suspect that those minorities are also underrepresented.
I think, if the government really believes in having representatives of as many interests as are concerned with policing, and that is almost the entire population in some capacity or other, that it should seek nominations for appointments and then choose the ones who seem best suited to the current needs.
There is another issue I want to discuss under this bill; that is, the question of whether Metro council or the province should have a majority on the board. As I have said, under the present five-person board, Metro has two appointees and the province has three, but under Bill 81, each will get one more, which will give Metro three and the province four.
I understand that Metro council feels a majority of the board should be council appointees. They argue that Metro council pays 85 per cent of the costs of the Metro police force but gets 40 per cent of the seats on the board. Under the new bill, they will get about 43 per cent. How can one justify taking a Big Brother attitude to policing in the largest regional municipality in the province that contains about a quarter of the population of the province? How can one justify this lack of municipal autonomy when one sets up regional governments with immense powers over policing, traffic and the control of crime in the attempt to meet all the problems a modern police force has to meet?
It seems to me that representatives appointed by the province are remote from the day-to-day operations of a metropolitan police force and that the appointees should be drawn from people more directly connected with activities in the municipality and with experience in those activities, whatever they may be, in other organizations, in other levels of government or from the general public. I understand the Metro council is agreeable to the enlarged board, but only if it gets both of the two new appointments. It seems to me that is a reasonable position to take.
I understand the minister's argument, as quoted in the newspapers, is that he believes a provincial majority should be maintained on police commissions so we can have uniformity of law enforcement throughout the province. I am not sure that cookie-cutter uniformity is the best thing. I am not sure that Big Brother should be telling Metropolitan Toronto what kind of police activities it should be carrying on. I am not sure that the province should really have what amounts to a veto on what the municipal police force decides to do.
For example, the Toronto municipal police force set up what is known as a response group for battered wives that would deal with domestic disputes in a specialized way. It had a team of a policeman and a social worker who would respond to domestic dispute calls, but they put it in only as a pilot project in one or two sections of the city. I believe it was quite effective in assisting women who were being battered and who needed more than just to have a policeman knock on the door and say, "Quiet down."
The police commission would like to expand that response group program to the whole city but there is not enough money available to do that. I think that should be partly a provincial responsibility, but we have not seen the majority on the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police helping to produce that extra money so that the program can be spread right across the metropolitan municipality.
There are many other decisions where I think the municipality should have more say -- for example, how its police force is administered, what new programs it takes on, how it deploys its forces and how it decides which ones will get the most attention and which ones will not.
Those are local decisions that only somebody really close to the local municipality or the metropolitan municipality can make. Therefore, I think it is perfectly reasonable to accept the enlargement of the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police from five to seven, but to insist that the two extra members should be both appointed by Metro council. That would change the police board makeup to three provincial representatives and four representatives from Metro council. That would change the majority on the board and give it to Metro.
I intend to move this kind of amendment and I hope the members of the House will support that since they spend their working days here in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, they must be aware of the importance of the metropolitan police force to the 25 per cent of population here. They must be aware of the problems and they must be aware that municipal autonomy in this particular field is desirable, particularly when it is the largest municipality in the province.
I think we are at the stage where we should let the Metropolitan Toronto police commission get out of short pants and be allowed to run its own show. They will still have three provincial representatives on the board to advise them on overall provincial policies and to help them in implementing provincial plans for modernizing the police forces.
Mind you, the failure to revise the Police Act over the past several years indicates that the province is not really giving leadership in what it thinks should be the rules for modern police forces. That is another area where the province has failed to give guidance to the police forces. The fact that it has majorities on police commissions does not help if the police commissions are operating under an out-of-date Police Act.
For all those reasons, I think we should wait to hear what the minister tells us about the real reasons this change is being made. Also, I would like the minister to tell us how he can justify continuing the provincial majority on the metropolitan police board when the board itself and the metropolitan municipal council itself believe that the majority should be changed at this time to the metropolitan municipality.
Mr. Sterling: This act, while being very brief in its nature, probably will have a fair bit of impact on how the Metropolitan Toronto Police will be run over the next few years, in increasing the number of members on the commission from five to seven. No doubt, this requirement is necessary because of the very large force that comes under this particular commission. In fact, I am aware that this is the largest police force in all Ontario, and that includes the Ontario Provincial Police. They are very close to that number, at any rate. I think it is 5,000 or 6,000 people.
I have some empathy with the position put forward by the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) in terms of the control of the police commission. In the case of Metropolitan Toronto, we are talking about a very large, sophisticated operation. We are talking about very large amounts of financial resources to go towards running this operation. Eighty per cent of those moneys is raised through the local tax base. Therefore, the people who are paying the shot should get to call the shot, in my humble opinion.
However, the one part on which I would perhaps disagree with the member for Beaches-Woodbine would be the nature of the appointment power that might be given to Metropolitan Toronto. In talking with a number of people involved in the policing world over the last two years when I was the critic for the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes), I found it was not so much a concern as to the power of appointment but, in fact, who was appointed. The concern of the people involved with not only the Metropolitan Toronto Police force but also other police forces was the problem of politicizing the whole police commission.
Therefore, I would like to hear the Solicitor General's response to an amendment which I may put forward and which, if supported by this Legislature, would give the majority appointment power to the metropolitan council. I would like his response to giving one appointment to the chairman of metropolitan council, as is now the case; having two members of metropolitan council appointed by metropolitan council; having three persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council; and the very last one, having one more person who is not an elected person appointed by metropolitan council. This would give metropolitan council the majority of the appointments but would limit the number of elected people to three and the number of nonelected people to four, including both provincial and metropolitan appointments.
This would perhaps lead to a model which the minister would want to follow in the future, and it alleviates concerns on both sides; that is, it answers the question of who pays the dollar getting the right to call the shots in having the majority on appointments. It also alleviates the concerns of overpoliticizing police commissions so that they do not act in the same manner as some other committees of council act in terms of dealing with issues. I think there is an important distinction between a police commission and other work that a municipal council undertakes.
I would ask the minister to respond to that suggestion before I have an opportunity to put forward that kind of an amendment.
Mr. McClellan: I want to make a short comment at this point in the discussion as a representative from the city of Toronto.
We have a difficult situation in the city of Toronto. We have a community of minorities, a totally cosmopolitan community, with a great many multicultural neighbourhoods and sub-communities, and our police force does not represent the diversity and the variety of our multicultural mosaic in Metropolitan Toronto. I say to the Solicitor General, that creates a serious problem of law enforcement and a serious problem of public safety.
I recall that when a wanted criminal came from the United States, from California, entered Canada, went to Alberta and then was traced as having entered Metropolitan Toronto, he was described by representatives of the police forces as having "disappeared into Chinatown." The gentleman in question was of Chinese background.
It is bizarre and grotesque to state that a perfect stranger can come into a cohesive, tightly-knit community, such as the Chinese-Canadian community of downtown Toronto, and disappear. What they are saying is the person disappeared from the point of view of the law enforcement officials who are completely external and completely shut out of that community. They had no way of entering the community. They did not know who the leaders of the community were. They did not know who the people in the community were. So their escapee, from their point of view, disappeared into the community.
Of course you cannot disappear into an urban village in Metropolitan Toronto any more than you can disappear into a small town in another part of Ontario. If somebody new comes into a neighbourhood there is not that level of anonymity. This speaks to a serious problem, as I said, of public safety. I use this particular example because it occurred recently and it was commented upon by a number of leaders from the Chinese-Canadian community as an example of the kind of problem that our police force has because of its failure to diversify, its failure to recruit from the various minority communities that make up this community of minorities which we call Metropolitan Toronto.
The heart of the problem, and the responsibility for its solution, rests with the commission. There is a particular responsibility on this government as it examines this issue and as it makes additional appointments to the commission, to come to grips with this critical problem. In a city of between two million and three million people, we simply cannot afford to have a police force that is so shut out from most minority communities that it is incapable of providing law enforcement; it is incapable of knowing what is going on in the street, who has come into town, who has gone out of town, what is going on in this neighbourhood, what is going on in that neighbourhood. Quite frankly it puts us at risk.
The days of height restrictions and other barriers to recruitment from minority communities are gone, but we still have not come to grips with the fundamental problem. I am surprised it has taken us so long to make this adjustment. I would like to have some response. This may not be the most appropriate place to do it, but I would like to have some response from the Solicitor General as to how seriously the government regards this matter that I am raising; what the government intends to do through its appointment powers to the commission to try to overcome it. The obvious solution that suggests itself is that the government move as quickly as possible to add to the commission representatives of some of the major minority communities that go to make up our community of minorities.
Until there is a measure of balance in the commission, and a clear adoption of affirmative action employment policies throughout the force, we are not going to be able to come to grips with this problem. As I said before, it represents a matter of increasing public safety if the police force is simply unable to engage the community that lives in Metropolitan Toronto on a knowledgeable and intimate basis.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I do appreciate the comments that have been raised by the three honourable members with regard to the amendment. Perhaps we could trace, historically, the whole aspect of the establishment of boards of commissioners of police, but I think it is fair to say simply that everyone is aware there are certain regulations set out in the Police Act which determine when a municipality must have its own police force, sizes, etc. In order to govern those forces, the establishment either of a committee of council or of a board of commissioners of police has been the method whereby this jurisdiction has been provided.
In the case of Metropolitan Toronto, the jurisdiction comes from an excerpt of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, part XII, section 174, which refers to the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police. Under section 177, it sets out exactly who shall be represented on that board and who shall be appointed. Again, it is the chairman of the Metropolitan council, one member of the Metropolitan council appointed by the Metropolitan council, and three persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
The amendment is to those two latter clauses, 177(1)(b) and (c), whereby one additional member will be appointed by both Metro council and Ontario.
I want to save the comments with regard to my feelings on that type of representation, the balance being with the province, because I think that is the whole heart of an issue that has been raised here today by all three speakers. I do appreciate sincerely that they have used this opportunity to indicate there will most likely be an amendment. I might as well mention in advance that I will very strongly oppose such an amendment. Should it pass, as it would indicate that it would, then of course I will have to use what other avenues are open to me in order to be sure that the position of the government, which has been the principle of the past administration and which I have endorsed, will continue.
I might also say that for many years there were three men -- excuse me, three persons --
Mr. McClellan: It was three men; that is part of the problem.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: That was what it was in actual fact, but "person" would be the best terminology to use.
Eventually, with a great deal of representation by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario -- when I sat on that board, when I was mayor of the city of Kingston, I made representation, along with others, to be sure that would be changed from three to five. We were extremely pleased when that happened, because there were many difficulties with only having three members. You had the problem of one person being absent for a meeting; you would end up with two persons, one the chairman, one the other. If you wanted to follow some parliamentary procedure, it was literally impossible to do business appropriately with those two members.
Eventually, it moved to five, which allowed for a much easier quorum, a much greater debate. It even allowed for the occasional subcommittee, which used to be done quite often for the matter of salary negotiations.
The main intent behind the request of Metro Toronto, in its letter to me with regard to this issue, was because of the increased work load in this municipality. As has been cited by the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan), it is the largest police force in the province. It is one that, as you can well imagine, requires a great deal of time from the members dealing with the issues, whether from the administrative point of view, discipline hearings or the rest.
Metro's request was for two things. It said it would like to see more than just one of the boroughs represented, so there could be greater municipal input into local policing matters. At the moment the chairman is there and one other member from one of the Metro towns or cities; it would like to have increased input. At the same time, it was concerned because of the work load; it said that in its opinion it was sufficient to justify additional members. After meeting with them I discussed it with Mr. Flynn, their chairman. I certainly was convinced and felt it was very true that their management function could be more appropriately carried out if we enhanced the numbers. It is true they also raised the issue that the numbers should be changed as far as the balance is concerned on appointments. I gave the same comments that I will give to the members in a few moments as to why I do not support the change from the balance of a majority being appointed by the province versus the municipality.
One of the things we have done in appointments to commissions is that we have looked at the aspect of judges. There was always a judge on every one. There are still many judges sitting on boards of commissioners of police. As they have reached a specific age or state of health a number of them have decided to resign. When that has happened, we have not made reappointments of judges. Also, we have looked at the issue of lawyers. We felt that lawyers bring a great wealth of knowledge and expertise to the field, but we have been extremely careful --
Hon. Mr. Keyes: That is with some of them; there are some who would do that.
We look carefully to see they are not actively involved in the practice of criminal law which would then tend to suggest there was a potential for a conflict of interest. We have looked very carefully at the calibre of people we have appointed. Both the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the member for Bellwoods have made reference to it. It has been my pleasure in the last two years to have had the opportunity to review the résumé, the curriculum vitae, of every person who has been put forward by the province for appointment to the boards. They have been thoroughly checked by my staff and the deputy to be sure that they have been exemplary in their lives as citizens of this province, that there are no major areas of concern on their past actions and that they have a general knowledge of the communities in which they live. We take a great deal of time in looking at those checks and balances before recommending their appointments to the Premier (Mr. Peterson), then to the cabinet and then to the Lieutenant Governor.
I am sure the member for Beaches-Woodbine -- while it has been my pleasure to appoint some 68 women to boards, there is no way any of them should be considered, nor would I want to ever consider them, as token women. I am sure they would bristle with anger if they heard that suggestion made in the House today. The calibre of women we have placed on these boards has been outstanding. I do not really need to cite specific instances but I must say that the lady who is on the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police is an outstanding person and also, I point out to the member for Bellwoods, one who reflects one of our ethnocultural groups within Toronto; that is, the Italian community.
We also have the appointment on the Metro board of the first black, in the person of Roy Williams, an outstanding individual who has brought a great deal of credit to himself, to his ethnic community and certainly in his work now on the Metro board.
Every one of the people I have appointed has been an exemplary individual. It has been my aim to be sure there is a woman appointed to every board of this province. I have not quite fulfilled that as my personal goal, but I am well on the way with some boards having two women on them. It has nothing to do, as someone has suggested, with a token female but rather that a female point of view on any board, commission or agency of this government brings a somewhat different aspect to the debate that goes on around that table.
I believe that in this day when we are dealing more with family violence, sexual assault, child abuse and assaultive behaviours, this is the voice that has been left unheard for all too long. Therefore, the appointment of women to boards has brought a balance to the deliberations so we can be sure that the views of women are well heard in police corridors. I will just leave it at that point on those issues.
I want to turn to the point raised by the member for Bellwoods on the cosmopolitan nature of police forces. I suggest at the moment, on this Metro commission at least, and it was in reference perhaps not only to Metro commission but to others that the member was speaking, that we have a balance with one black and one Italian, direct descendants who are on the commission. Across the province as I have looked at those appointments, and I cannot give him today the actual background of every one of the more than 150 individuals I have appointed, but I can assure the honourable member that is an aspect that is looked at; those areas of women and ethnicity, as well as competency, interest in community and general ability.
I think it would be appropriate if I just talked for a moment on that cosmopolitan aspect of the Metro Toronto force and about some of the many things that have been happening in the last year that have been so significant with respect to some of the new programs.
Just a week ago, it was my pleasure to be present at the swearing in of the most recent cadet class of recruits for Metropolitan Toronto Police force. There we saw a group of some 40 men and women of 17 different racial backgrounds. I suggest that 17 racial backgrounds in a recruit class is something of which any force, particularly Metro Toronto, can be justly proud.
These were people for whom the term "cadet" is somewhat misleading, because somehow in one's mind one thinks of a cadet as someone in the early stages of a military career or in a high school cadet corps as they used to exist. The term "cadet" simply refers to an introductory program to policing. These men and women came from literally every province in Canada, 17 racial backgrounds and represented ages from 20 to 45. That gives members an idea of the program of selection and recruitment that Metro is engaged in to be sure that it meets some of those concerns that have been expressed by members of this House and by members of ethnic groups within society of this province.
I have to refer to the work of a woman, Jean Boyd, who has worked tirelessly in looking at methods of recruiting members of ethnic groups and bringing them into police forces. I commend it as excellent reading for any member of this House. We have felt strongly about it, and the presentation that has been made to the cabinet committee on race relations, of which I am pleased to be a member. Therefore, we consistently bring the issues of our racial community into the discussions of those persons who are there. The Solicitor General, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling), the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye), the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) and so on down the line. We endorse the report and have now, through the Ontario Police Commission, distributed it as a document to every police force in Ontario commending it as being an excellent document to use as incentive to bring more ethnic members into policing in this province. It is working for Metro. It will work for the majority of our communities across the province.
Yesterday I met with Chief Harding, the chairman and others of a committee established just last August of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who have likewise become concerned about the role of ethnicity in police forces, or perhaps more appropriate I would say the topic of a major symposium they had a year ago was Policing in a Multicultural Society. I commend that organization for having the initiative to do that, and I commend the local committee in Ontario that is trying to see how we, perhaps with government involvement, can do a better educational task of awakening police forces and the public across the entire province to what is expected of them today in policing in a multicultural society. That issue is one that will reap great rewards not only here in Metro but elsewhere as well.
I may not have answered all questions, but I would turn more particularly now to the matter of a proposed amendment, but rather than an amendment per se to look at the philosophy of who should be responsible for appointing members to boards of commissioners of police.
As members know, boards of commissioners of police were created in the first instance to provide a buffer between the police and the political authority of a municipality. The board system, which is coupled with the supervisory role of the Ontario Police Commission, has made police sufficiently accountable to the civilian authority and at the same time has given them the independence they need in order to perform a proper law enforcement function. It is important to somewhat insulate the police in a reasonable way against any suggestion of political interference or even the appearance of it. In my opinion, the board system has achieved this intended purpose and works extremely well.
A board of commissioners of police is designed to manage a police force and not to provide a forum where political issues are debated. Such debates are properly carried out among the elected representatives in the municipal councils, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and elsewhere.
I am not in favour of diminishing provincial control over local police governing bodies in the light of the province's constitutional responsibility for the administration of justice. It has long been established that while municipalities are generally responsible under the Police Act for policing and the maintenance of law and order within their boundaries, the members of a police force are not employees or servants of the municipality or even of the police board.
Moreover, while a police board is expressly empowered to make regulations for the government of a police force and while the members of that police force are bound to carry out and obey the lawful directions of the board, the board cannot make regulations that are inconsistent with those made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and cannot lawfully give directions to any member of a police force prescribing the duties of his office. Those duties are already prescribed by this Legislature in the Police Act. Such duties are of a public nature and are not owing to a municipality or a police board by which an officer has been appointed. In this context then, it is not unreasonable that the majority of members on police boards should remain directly accountable to this Legislature and the province.
I believe the system we have, with the current composition of boards -- it has been five -- achieves a proper balance of representation. In this situation, in order to answer one of the questions from the member for Beaches-Wooodbine, this will be the only board in Ontario that has seven members. The majority of them have five, and constantly new people, increasing from three to five as allowed by the legislation. Two municipal councillors, in this case including the head of council, are members of most boards. Municipal councils therefore have a very direct and a very significant input into the management of the local police force. The other three members, of course, are appointed by the province.
It was suggested that there was nowhere else where the province contains the majority of representation yet pays the lesser amount of the tax dollar. I suggest that there can be several examples, even in reverse. There are certainly some municipalities in this province where the government hands out unconditional grants, and also where it hands out grants in lieu of taxes, which are greater in amount than those raised by local taxation. In those instances, the province has not insisted on having major representation.
For that reason, in this particular instance, I cannot support a proposed amendment that would totally shift the principle on which police governing authority has been established from the beginning of our policing in Ontario. To do so for this one board would immediately bring upon us the request of all the other boards in this province to do likewise.
I was a member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I have met with the AMO members. I have discussed this issue with the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître), and the stance I have taken is that we must continue to keep the majority representation appointed by the province.
Looking again at our appointments at a municipal level, these appointees, which I review carefully, select from the community at large, having concern for the ethnicity of the individual, the competency of the individual, and as I said earlier in this case the fact that a good percentage must be female. Many of them, by the way, have served in previous roles on municipal governments. I can think of several at the moment in the Niagara Peninsula, in eastern Ontario and in western Ontario where there are former members of council sitting on those boards.
At the moment it is the method we use. Then those provincial appointees are removed from local politics and, as I have said earlier, are certainly accountable to the government of Ontario, which is in turn accountable to the public electorate.
It has been our experience that police departments and police boards are responsible to the local needs and the desires.
I believe that basically covers the majority of points raised by the three honourable members in their discussion on this amendment. Although it has been indicated that there may well be an amendment, and I do appreciate that indication, I would urge that this House support the implementation of Bill 81, which will allow Metropolitan Toronto to increase the number of members in the board of commissioners of police from five to seven, with one appointee by Metro council and one by the province.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE ACT
Hon. Mr. Kwinter moved second reading of Bill 56, An Act to control temporarily Automobile Insurance Rates in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I wish to move second reading of the Automobile Insurance Act, 1987, an act to give legal force and effect to the interim control of automobile insurance premiums ordered on April 23, 1987. As members know, on April 23, I ordered that the rates for categories of automobile insurance be capped at the levels in force on that date.
The bill before us today ensures that the rate related to a specific class or factor used to set premiums by insurance companies cannot increase beyond its April 23 level. It further provides that an insurance company cannot create new rules subsequent to April 23 that could result in a consumer being shifted to a different, higher category.
On April 23, I also ordered a 10 per cent reduction in rates existing for two rate categories. These categories are male drivers under age 25 and taxicabs insured through the Ontario Facility Association. It is our belief that these groups, having experienced particularly serious rate increases, are deserving of special consideration.
I would like to point out to the members that passage of this bill is necessary before those policyholders can receive their refunds. There is no other expeditious way to unequivocally ensure this result. In the best interest of Ontario policyholders, it is important that there be no undue delay in passing the bill.
During debate of the bill, I will be making some motions for amendments that are for the purpose of clarification. They do not change the government's position regarding the bill.
As members know, the government introduced capping measures pending the establishment and operation of an independent rate review board. I expect to introduce legislation to establish this board very soon.
I would once again remind members that the act before us today is one in a series of insurance-elated reforms the government has announced and will continue to work towards. It is our intention to take whatever action necessary to ensure fair and equitable automobile insurance coverage for consumers at a fair and reasonable price.
In closing, let me remind the members that over 300,000 Ontario vehicle owners must await enactment of this legislation before receiving rate rebates and reductions. I am therefore urging speedy passage of the bill.
Mr. Gregory: I just want to take a few minutes to speak on this particular subject, not as the critic but as someone who is vitally interested in this particular category. I compliment the minister for taking some action. I say that with reservation because we are really not taking that much action at this point.
The idea of freezing -- perhaps we should say "freezing" rather than "capping" at this point because it is not really a cap at the particular date the minister states, April 23. I am not debating this point. It is true that even though the cap went on on April 23, if someone's rate was set back in perhaps May 1986, the insurance company, as I understand it, is entitled to increase on a certain percentage per month over the months that have passed since the last rate was charged. I can understand that. You cannot freeze or cap rates retroactively. It is not too difficult to understand, but it is something that the party to the left is going to try to get its teeth into, obviously.
The minister has been hearing about this, and of course I cannot have too much sympathy for him because for the past several months he has been waffling around all over the place and has not really taken too much action. Any criticism he is receiving from my friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) is probably duly deserved because, with his nonaction, the minister has not really given the member anything but a target to shoot at.
I suppose the capping has to be done to give the minister an opportunity to come up with an intelligent way of determining rates in the insurance business. One of the intelligent things the minister has done is to let the member for Welland-Thorold know that he is not in favour of government insurance; at least I think he said that, although there were days when it seemed he was saying something else. I am not sure. I see the minister nodding his head, so I am pleased to read into this that he is not in favour of government-run insurance. Does he want to nod his head again? Then I will be even surer. That is good.
I am very pleased to hear that, because as I have expressed it in the past, I certainly am not in favour of government-run insurance, not from any selfish aspect but with a background and some knowledge of the business from having been in it many, many years. I do know or am of the strong opinion that the government cannot run an insurance company any better than it can run many other things it tries to run and fails miserably at.
The examples usually used are those of the western provinces. In most cases, these government-run insurance plans are brought in at a time of a New Democratic government; then the succeeding governments tend to try to find ways of getting out of it but find that once they are into it, it is difficult to get out of, even though, on a subsidy basis, it certainly costs the taxpayers money.
I suppose if you are benefiting from a lower rate as a result of government-run insurance, it is because you tend to be a driver who probably should be paying more. You are getting the benefit of the kind-hearted taxpayer under a government-run plan. You probably could say that government-run insurance is good for some of the people, but a very small percentage of them. The rest of the people pay a penalty for having to subsidize the bad drivers.
The only thing about this bill that puzzles me is why the minister felt it necessary to get into the cosmetics of the automatic reduction of 10 per cent for taxis and categories of male drivers. This, to me, is cosmetic. All he is trying to do here is to appeal to a certain group with an outright payoff. When we are finished here, I hope he can come up with a detailed mathematical explanation of how he arrived at the 10 per cent reduction for young male drivers and for taxpayers. On what financial basis did --
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Not taxpayers -- taxi drivers.
Mr. Gregory: Taxi drivers. Did I say taxpayers? I was trying to cover all the categories the minister is shafting. That would include taxpayers and taxi drivers. I am covering the whole gamut. If I said taxpayers, I apologize; I should have said taxi drivers.
I am interested in the minister's logic and financial wizardry that came up with that particular figure of 10 per cent for those two categories. I wonder why he did not include transport companies in that; transport companies have been experiencing a great deal of trouble getting insurance and with the exorbitant rates they are having to pay. I wonder why the minister did not go beyond that into other insurance fields and include some of the trouble spots we have been hearing about. School boards, for example, have trouble getting liability insurance. Why did the minister not arbitrarily pick them out of the sky and give them a reduction of 10 per cent on their rates?
The minister must have been receiving an awful lot of letters from taxi drivers or male drivers under the age of 25. That is the only thing I can put it down to, because there is absolutely no logic to it. I am not finding fault with it other than that legislation is not usually done that way. You do not arbitrarily take a figure out of the heavens and apply it to temporarily silence two rather vocal groups. At least I do not think that is the way legislation should be prepared.
What I see the minister doing here is rewarding somebody, giving a reward for keeping quiet while he is trying to get his thoughts together. They might have to be quiet a long time from what I have seen. The minister has arbitrarily done this and has said to everybody else: "You can go fish. You do not qualify for my generosity today -- only if you are a male and under 25 or if you happen to drive a taxi."
Why the minister has bothered to do that does not make sense. Why did he not just cap the rates at that point until he could determine accurately what the rates should be or until the insurance companies could determine accurately what the rates should be for these categories? For all the minister and I know, the rate being charged for males under 25 might be quite correct. It might be totally in error, but it might be quite correct. He has now reduced the rate by 10 per cent. Is he now saying that if the insurance companies find that the rates for taxicabs and young males under 25 are quite correct in the first place, he is going to penalize them with 10 per cent again, he is going to have to reverse himself? That is not too difficult for a Liberal; they do it all the time. He might have to suddenly come back and say, "Oops, we were wrong again."
Does the minister see what is bothering me? It is the arbitrary way in which he has done this. If he wants to cap it for everybody, then so be it. He should cap it for everybody until such time as we get the insurance companies to clean up their act, revise their act or do something that makes it a little more fair in the eyes of the people, and then wait until that is done. To yank out a couple of categories and say, "You are deserving of my kindness this week, so we will give you a reduction of 10 per cent," really smacks of government insurance. By doing that, he is doing the same thing he would be doing if he brought in government insurance. He is treating everybody the same. It does not matter what one's driving record is.
Included in the 10 per cent reduction for male drivers under the age of 25 is that category of male drivers under 25 that causes all the problems in the rates anyway.
If a male driver under 25 is paying $800 a year -- if he has had a couple of accidents he is probably paying more than that -- but let us say, for example, he is paying $800 a year and he has had a couple of accidents, the minister is going to reduce his rate by $80. That does not seem to me to be too smart. It is certainly not accurate, but it does discriminate against every other category of driver, including those male drivers over the age of 25 -- age 26, for example. That driver does not get the 10 per cent reduction and yet his driving record might be identical to that of the fellow under 25.
How does the minister rationalize setting himself up as a judge and saying that, automatically, everybody under 25 who is a male deserves a 10 per cent decrease in his rates ? "If you happen to be 25 and a half, tough luck kid." That seems to be the attitude.
Mr. Swart: The rough justice of the inflation act.
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, look who is here. I would hate to think I wasted my remarks without the member for Welland-Thorold being here. I am glad to see him.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: We are listening very closely. It will come in handy in the next election.
Mr. Gregory: Any time the member wants to use that on me in the next election, he is welcome to try it in Mississauga East. We are in favour of fair play there, and that means fair play for everybody, not just --
Mr. Swart: For the insurance companies.
Mr. Gregory: -- not just insurance companies, not just male drivers under age 25 and not just taxi drivers. The minister is in favour of only males under 25 and taxi drivers. I do not know what that indicates. It probably does not indicate a great deal other than he needed something to catch the attention of the public. He immediately caught the attention of every male driver under 25. That is marvellous. That is great election fodder but that is all it is. It is designed and done only to appeal to a certain voter group. I find it rather shameful to take that approach.
I have no axe to grind with the taxi industry, none whatsoever, but I am quite sure every taxi driver is not under the age of 25, so there has to be another reason. We have taxi drivers who are 45, 55, some of them 75 perhaps. They cover the whole spectrum. Suddenly, out of the blue, taxi drivers are going to be given a 10 per cent bonus on their insurance rates.
I would love to hear the minister's explanation of why it is specifically taxi drivers. Why not panel truck drivers? Why not transport truck drivers? Why not men over 80? One can pick any category he wants. Why not? Not the minister. He picked taxi drivers. He must have had some interesting conversations with taxi drivers. It is fine for the minister to have conversations with taxi drivers and get their opinions, but perhaps he should get the opinions of people besides taxi drivers. He might have determined in his wisdom to have exempted many other groups, rather than just those two.
I think he has made himself look rather foolish by taking those two categories and reducing them by 10 per cent, with the exclusion of everybody else. I really do. I do not understand the logic. If the minister is honest with himself, I am sure he does not understand his own logic or the logic of the people who gave him that gem to put in this, other than that it might look good in the Toronto Star headline which would say, "Kwinter Reduces Insurance Price and Insurance Premiums 10 per cent for all those under 25.'' Rah, rah. All those new voters and new young Liberals. They do not like the government's Meech Lake decision; maybe they will like this one.
"The taxi drivers are collectively going to parade up Bay Street in honour of Monte Kwinter because they are getting a 10 per cent reduction." They are going to get a 10 per cent reduction in their insurance rates. I think that is marvellous. I would not count on it though.
I would ask the minister to examine that, because it certainly bothers me and I am sure it bothers other people how he has become so arbitrary when I thought he was a nice guy.
Mr. Ramsay: Not Tory hacks, just regular hacks.
Mr. Gregory: I am sorry, I missed that aside there. I missed that rude interruption.
Getting on to that subject, I feel quite strongly about maintaining a healthy insurance industry in this province, not from having any particular axe to grind for the insurance companies, any more than I do for banks or any other financial institution, but I do feel there is a place in Ontario for a very strong financial institution that, after all, among many other things, has made this province very strong.
All we hear from the left side is the enormous profits that are made by insurance companies, but I do have to point out the fact that if the government eliminates that industry by bringing in a government plan, it is eliminating all the good things that insurance companies can do and do -- and that is providing capital for building funds, for housing developments, for hospitals, for almost anything. A lot of this money comes from insurance companies, which of course is the way those funds are invested. Without that investment, the insurance rates would be much higher.
I do not find the funding operation of insurance companies evil. I do not find they are great big ogres and they are milking the poor and taking all that money and getting rich and all their shareholders are running around in chauffeur-driven limousines. No, very few people do that today. Only ministers of the crown drive around in chauffeur-driven limousines.
Mr. D. W. Smith: Do you remember that?
Mr. Gregory: I remember those good old days. They were very good. That was one of the things I was sorry to give up, because it saved my insurance rates from possibly going up if there was any accident. I was not driving. I could blame somebody else. It was nice to have one. I am sure they are making the most of it. Not the member but his minister friends, the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht), the honourable minister in charge of - I forget what it is he is in charge of.
Mr. Ramsay: Limos.
Mr. Gregory: He is the minister of limos down here and stealing copyrighted statements. He also enjoys the benefit of a limo, and I think that is marvellous. I think he needs all the protection he can get. To have a driver drive him around is much better for him.
There is a great deal of education going to have to take place among the public in regard to insurance. I know this is not the exact point of this particular bill, but it is within the theme of the bill, so with the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, if I do tend to stray a bit off the specific point of the bill and talk in generalities, I hope you will forgive me and certainly bring it to my attention as I am sure you will.
There is a lot of education of the general public going to have to take place. I do not mean that in a patronizing way at all, but I think people tend to look at their automobile insurance in the same fashion as they did years ago. They have not really updated their thinking regarding insurance.
I did mention a couple of these points a short time ago when we had the emergency debate on insurance, but I think it bears repeating. Look at the collision section of an automobile insurance policy: years ago, when deductibles were first brought into policies, the thing to do was to have a $100 deductible on collision. Then, a few years later, they brought in the $250 deductible.
Believe it or not, the theory there, as I read it, was that at that time $100 was approximately a week's pay. You do not have to go back too far to remember when $100 was a week's pay. The idea was that if you had an accident with your car and you had to have it repaired under the collision section of your policy, you paid the first $100. In other words, you paid a week's pay towards that, and the insurance company paid the rest.
That is fine, and perhaps when the $250 deductible alternative was brought in, that also, during a period of time, represented a week's pay. People have not adjusted their thinking on this at all, if we are going to use that as the basis for it, in other words, figure they could pay a week's pay towards the damage, then maybe the deductible should be increased again.
There is another alternative available, but not too many people know about it; insurance agents do not remind you because there is not as much money in it. I do not say that as a slap at them; they sell the best product they can. Why not a $500 deductible on collision today? You do not have to do much more than dent a fender and you are into a $2,000 bill. With a $500 deductible, the driver pays the first $500 of an accident. That does wonders in reducing your premium. It does a remarkable job in reducing the premium you pay.
There is also the comprehensive section. Most people carry a comprehensive with $25 deductible; $25 is so ridiculous that a lot of people who repair windshields in cars now say, "We will pay you the deductible." It is an infinitesimal amount compared to the cost of a new wraparound windshield today. In order to save themselves money on premiums, people should be considering, perhaps, a higher deductible on a windshield; you do not break them every day. Perhaps they could save themselves a lot of money if they increased their deductible on comprehensive.
Those two things alone could drastically lower insurance premiums people pay. They would still be in line with their income, in the same proportion as they were many years ago when these things were instituted. I do not see myself as being in the insurance business ever again but if I were, I would be reminding people of this and suggesting to people that there is a way of cutting down their insurance costs, by bringing their policies up to date with the 1980s, rather than the way it is now: up to date with the 1960s.
We have the responsibility to bring that to people's attention. I do not think agents are going to do that, because people do not tend to do things if it cuts into their incomes. It is something that is available. As a matter of fact, when I renewed my own policy this time, I did those very things;
I saved myself several hundred dollars a year just by increasing those deductibles.
That is not going to be of much help to a young driver or a taxi driver. Taxi drivers, I guess, tend to get a fair number of dings and have a lot of repairs to do to their cars. Perhaps a larger deductible might be totally out of order; I do not know.
Basically, we are in favour of what the minister is doing here as a temporary measure. I am pleased to note that the suggestion for this -- do not think the minister is going to admit it -- came from the leader of the official opposition several weeks before the minister brought it in; I did not hear him stand up and give the member credit for it, nor do I expect to, but at any rate it is nice to know that even from this side of the House we are being of some help in shaping policy.
I am only saying this because the New Democrats tend to do this all the time. They take responsibility for everything the government does. Of course, in their case, it is true because they have been controlling the government for two years, but in our case it is delightful for us to know that we have had a hand in shaping policy on this particular bill.
I hope this is not the end of it. I do not think the minister can expect to just cap this, then have an election and hope the whole thing will go away if his party happens to win a majority. I think he is going to have to go further than this and take some definite action on insurance rates. People are not going to accept the fact that he has put in a stopgap, Band-Aid solution to keep them quiet while he gets through an election and, hopefully, a majority and then he can proceed to do nothing.
The minister has to resign himself to the fact that, having ventured into this area, he is going to have to go all the way. If he is not happy with the way insurance companies determine rates, then he had better give them some expertise and tell them how he wants them to determine rates. He is going to have to do that with some fairness. He cannot just arbitrarily walk in and say: "We do not care what your costs are. You are going to cut everybody's rates 50 per cent." I do not think he can do that.
The minister should be prepared to go further, realizing this is a stopgap measure that is not going to last for ever. People are going to say: "Okay. You have done that. What are you going to do now?" What we have here is another edition of rent control, only it applies to insurance premiums. The minister is getting his feet wet; he has ducked his feet in the water. It will be interesting to see what he does next.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Polsinelli): Questions and comments of the member for Mississauga East?
Mr. Swart: No questions. I just want to speak on the issue.
I would like to say right at the beginning that seldom have I risen to speak on a bill when I have such a gut feeling of disgust about the bill and the motivation behind it as I have about Bill 56, An Act to control temporarily Automobile Insurance Rates in Ontario.
We know it is part of a package. There are going to be at least two bills. We know the minister has put them in a big box and tried to give them all kinds of publicity. He has wrapped it up with tinsel, bound it up in gold ribbon, but when the contents are fully seen and examined, they are seen for what they are in size. That is about the size of a pea, and a shrivelled one at that. Never has the expression "Too little, too late" been more apropos than it is with regard to this bill and the other statements that have been made recently by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter).
The member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) stated that his party was supporting this, that in fact the credit should go to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman) for mentioning this -- I am not sure -- I think he said about six weeks ago. I want to assure the member for Mississauga East that the members of this party, including me, do not want to take any credit for this bill, but I would like to remind the member that my leader and I both proposed more than 18 months ago that there be a freeze placed on insurance rates, and a real freeze, at that time.
Yes, it is too little and it is too late. The crisis in insurance, and auto insurance as part of the insurance package -- certainly liability insurance has been in just as great a crisis; perhaps on the question of price, it has even been in a greater crisis than auto insurance for at least two and a half years. In all that time, the minister has resisted doing anything to resolve this problem.
Perhaps that is not quite fair. He has done two things. After we badgered him for six months from this corner of the House, had a couple of special debates and week after week brought to his attention the horrible injustices and the horrendous increases that were taking place in insurance, in January 1986 he appointed a one-man commission. That one man who was named to the commission was Mr. Slater. He reported in May, a year ago last month, and made certain recommendations. He was pretty inconclusive in many of the recommendations he made. The minister decided to do nothing about it and then in November of last year he appointed another one-man commission to review what the first one-man commission had done and to report back by November of this year. What tremendous action that is to meet this horrendous crisis that has existed for two and a half years.
I will deal with this a little more fully. Because he realized that the public out there was pretty unhappy with the government of this province, particularly with him and his ministry on the issue of auto insurance, he made a statement on April 23 and said he was going to bring in two bills. I want to point out that it is now more than seven weeks since he made that statement and that if he had really wanted to do something positive, he would have dealt with it before the seven weeks were up. I point out that the second bill has not yet even been tabled in this House. That is how sincere the minister is about taking action on this matter of the excessive insurance rates and the tremendous injustices existing in the insurance industry.
The bill really does nothing even as an interim measure; nothing real. I want to say, and I say it advisedly, that the minister was insincere in what he said back on April 23 about these insurance companies. He blasted the insurance companies; he was going to take great measures; he talked later about his going to fine them $100,000. Then he did not even follow up on what he had said in the House. If he had really wanted to do something two months ago when he made that statement, or two months before that or two months before that, he would have proclaimed section 371 of the Insurance Act. All the power was there in the act and all he had to do was proclaim it.
Let me read that section of the act. "It is the duty of the superintendent, after due notice and a hearing before him, to order an adjustment of the rates for automobile insurance whenever it is found by him that any such rates are excessive, inadequate, unfairly discriminatory or otherwise unreasonable."
That has been in the Insurance Act for the past 50 years. There has not been a minister who has had the courage to proclaim it. The present minister did not have the courage to proclaim it either because he would have been forced into doing something real. He had been given the power. He did not want power to do anything real. He wanted to make statements so the public out there, he hoped, would think he was going to do something about the insurance situation in this province.
I brought out in the House a week ago yesterday that the minister had not even bothered, after he made that statement, such a firm sounding statement, and let me quote it once again: "Effective immediately" -- not when the bill is passed -- "the rates for all automobile insurance categories are capped at the levels in force today." That was April 23.
As I pointed out in the House a week ago last Monday, there was sent to me rather recently a letter which was sent out to all brokers by one insurance company, the USF&G Insurance Co. of Canada. This was sent out as direction for their brokers. It says: "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...effective May 1, 1987, for new business and June 1, 1987, for renewals."
I would think, and I am sure the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) would agree, that if the minister was sincere when he made that statement back on April 23, he would have at least notified the insurance companies that he expected them to abide by the statement he made.
Mr. Runciman: There is not a sincere bone in his body.
Mr. Swart: The member for Leeds said there is not a sincere bone in his body. I might not go quite that far, but he is not too far off the mark.
There was no statement sent out to the insurance companies that the minister expected them to abide by the ruling he had made. In fact, on the contrary, within three days after he had made that statement, his ministry informed this insurance company, and I suppose any other insurance companies that asked, that it could go ahead as it planned to increase its rates. I say to the members, what sincerity.
When the minister answered my question in the House, when I asked him whether he had given the insurance companies this statement, he said, "They were informed that this was in fact the case." Then when he got outside the House, according to the newspapers, "Kwinter later told reporters he was unaware of the letter, adding that private insurers can raise rates if they want until the legislation is passed."
Again according to the newspapers the next day: "Kwinter said he assumed all insurance companies would comply with the freeze announced April 23. He said he will issue a directive telling insurance companies they cannot implement rate hikes until the law is passed." To another reporter he said that "his officials have `made it loud and clear' to inquiring insurance companies that the legislation will cap their rates."
Mr. Mackenzie: He is good at lecturing the reporters.
Mr. Swart: Yes, and good at making all kinds of diverse statements. It has been the practice of this minister for the last year or year and a half to say one thing at one time and another thing at another time in this House.
If he had really been sincere, he would have done something real. What this bill will cause to take place will have practically no meaning whatsoever on insurance rates for the people of this province. This is not a freeze on insurance rates even if the bill is put into law.
Let me say just what it does. Until the rate review board is in operation, if it ever is -- and that is a good question -- companies would be prohibited from increasing the rates that were in effect on April 23, 1987. But after the statement was made on April 23, we found out from the superintendent of insurance that in fact they would be permitted to have rate increases from the last time a person renewed up to April 23.
There is no investigation being done to see what those are, so if a person goes out and gets a renewal in May, after this rate cap -- and the superintendent of insurance said those increases will probably be about two per cent per month -- he would still have a 22 per cent increase in rates even if the insurance company lived up to the statement and lived up to the law. In June, it would be 20 per cent, and so on. It hardly slows the rate increase down, let alone put a real cap on it.
Then this says, "There is an immediate 10 per cent reduction in the premium rates for all coverages for all male drivers under the age of 25, including the 0-6 risks," and all insurance companies would have to apply an immediate reduction of 10 per cent.
But the catch is that on those young drivers as well, where there is supposed to be a 10 per cent reduction, that 22 per cent increase can take place in May, a 20 per cent increase can take place in June, an 18 per cent increase can take place in July, a 16 per cent increase can take place in August, and then they reduce the 10 per cent off that. So most of the young male drivers are going to have an increase in their insurance rates this year. Oh yes, they may get a few dollars in the mail for that rate being reduced after April 23, but when they come to renew their insurance, it will be the same kind of increase they have always experienced in the past, or almost the same.
The third thing is: "There is an immediate 10 per cent reduction in premium rates for all coverage for taxicabs insured through the Facility Association. In addition, any other insurer providing coverage to taxicabs is prohibited from charging more than the new, reduced Facility Association rates."
With the exception of those covered by the Facility Association, these people are exactly in the same position as those under 25. When they go out to renew their insurance, they will have all these increases that insurance companies wanted to apply during the year added on before they get the 10 per cent reduction. Most of the taxicab companies will not get any reduction out of this at all.
Although the minister himself, in his April 23 statement, pointed out the actual facts of the case, the complexity of it and the way he knew the newspapers would report it caused everybody in this province to think they were getting their rates capped. That is what they thought. I tell the minister I have never seen people as angry as they have been over the increases in their insurance since April 23. In the letters and phone calls I am getting, people say, "The minister said they were capped." The minister must have known that would be the interpretation that would be put on it.
Of course, if we had had a spring election, as there was a possibility, it would have been a smart political move. Just to show the minister and this House how ineffective the capping is, I want to bring two or three or four or five cases to the attention of the House.
Mr. H., of 643 Coxwell Avenue, Toronto, called me to tell me he had heard that insurance rates were capped, but he had just received his notice for renewal, effective July, and it was up 12 per cent. He said: "I have a perfect driving record. I haven't had any accidents. I have the same car. But Mr. Kwinter said the rates were capped." I explained to him the true facts of the situation, and I want to say that he was, to put it mildly, slightly unhappy about it.
I have here a call I received from Mr. L. P., of 20 Edgecliff Golfway, out in Don Mills, who tells me his insurance went up from $572 to $656. He retired five years ago. He is 70 years of age. He said: "I cannot afford those kinds of increases. The minister said he had capped the rates." I explained to him too that it is a cap that is not a cap and suggested perhaps he should call the superintendent of insurance.
I have here another letter from a man and wife on Curzon Street in Toronto who wrote to their insurance company stating: "The premium on my car has gone from $508 a year to $597, an increase of 17.5 per cent." He said: "I read with some interest the enclosed Insurance Bureau of Canada pamphlet. I am somewhat familiar with these rationalizations. I have read them before. They do not convince me that I and my wife should pay a 17.5 per cent increase when we have never made a claim on this policy. I ask you to reconsider the increase, 17.5 per cent." That is just a start.
I have a case here of a Mr. G. H. of Toronto. He is a retired Toronto Transit Commission driver living on a pension. He has a perfectly clean driving record. He is with Scottish and York. They sent him a renewal that ups his premium from $359 to $556. That is a 55 per cent increase after the cap is on.
I had another telephone call from Hugh Hart of Centennial Drive in Brantford, whose rates for his motorcycle went up from $430 to $600. It was just two weeks ago he called me, long after the cap was put on. That is a 42.5 per cent increase. He has had no accidents. He has the same motorcycle. It is a 42.5 per cent increase in his rates.
Then I have a man here who told me when I talked to him personally: "Use my name. I do not care. " It is Tudor Hoogakker of 195 Beech Avenue, Toronto, whose rate in 1985 was $338; in 1986, $508; in 1987, $674. That increase is effective June 17 and the increase from 1986 to 1987 is 33 per cent. This is after the cap had been put on, effective immediately. He has never lost any points. He has never had any claims. That is the kind of increase the insurance companies give to him.
I have here another case from William James McCarther, 1303 Dufferin Street, Toronto. He is a senior who said I could certainly use his name. His rates went up from $408 to $619. He is a senior with no accidents, no claims and no lost points; after the cap is on, an increase of 52 per cent.
I want to say that the examples I am using are not selective examples. We picked them out of literally hundreds of letters and calls we have had about the ineffectiveness of the cap.
This one is Steve Hegyes of 24 Wellington Street, in my own constituency of Welland. He has never ever lost any points, driving for 32 years accident-free, and he has had an increase this year from $300 to $452, for over a 50 per cent increase.
What I want to point out about the examples I have given here is that in fact none of those insurance companies has broken the law. They did not ignore what the Minister of Financial Institutions said back on April 23. Those are their normal increases for those categories. What meaning has a cap such as that to the motorists of this province?
We think there should be a real cap. If the minister had wanted to do something, instead of bringing in this milk-and-water legislation that he has, which is more to protect the insurance companies than it is to protect the motorists, he would have put on caps that were real.
When this gets to committee, we are going to be moving for real caps on the insurance rates. We will move amendments to provide that the premium for renewals after April 23 will be no higher than the rate at last renewal. That is a real cap. That is a real freeze. We will be moving that the 10 per cent reduction for drivers under age 25 be calculated on the rate paid on the last renewal, not on some fictitiously increased rate at the present time. We will be moving that all taxi drivers be subject to the 10 per cent reduction, calculated on the same basis as the under-25 group; that is, on the basis of their last renewal, not some fictitious level at the present time.
The phoniness of the present legislation has to be pointed out. Here is a minister who says he is capping the legislation and yet there is nothing in the bill to stop an insurance company from refusing to renew. What kind of a cap is that? If they decide they do not want to renew, they do not renew. We will be moving an amendment that no insurer may refuse renewal to any insured whose driving record has not worsened.
We are not going to permit either that the little bit of pittance that will be repaid to some of these few drivers in a small amount can be applied against their insurance rate next year. We are going to move it actually be refunded to them, so they know what they are getting and get paid back their money that the insurance company for too long has been keeping.
I want to say, and I say it advisedly, that this bill and the other one which will come in are totally politically motivated. The motive behind this bill is not to help the driver. The motive behind it is that there is probably going to be an election within two or three months. We do not know, and I suppose the people on that side, except for one or two others, do not know, but that is a real likelihood. The minister wants somehow or other to defuse the auto insurance issue. He and the insurance companies have been taking some steps which they hope the public will buy.
I am quite surprised actually how blatant the insurance companies are in admitting this. I have here the May 11 newsletter of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. I want to read a bit because I think it is pertinent to this debate that we are having at the present time.
"On April 23, 1987, the Honourable Monte Kwinter, Minister of Financial Institutions, announced sweeping legislative proposals for the automobile insurance industry.
"The New Democratic Party gave signals as early as last summer that a government-run auto insurance scheme would be one of its main election planks. Increased premiums caused by increased losses, coupled with restrictive underwriting practices, played into the NDP's plans and, indeed, automobile insurance has been a hot political issue for the last six months....
"The industry too adopted some strategies to counteract the NDP attack. Brokers accepted commission caps on Facility Association business, and the companies agreed to relax their underwriting rules to accommodate greater numbers of drivers in the regular market. In fact, everything was working pretty well and many observers felt that the industry could withstand the NDP pressure."
Quite an admission, and I suppose we in the NDP should stand in this House and say: "Aha, look at what we have accomplished. We have forced them into it. After all, they admit it." The only thing I would add to that is, just give us the power to bring in our government-owned auto insurance plan and see what we do for the people of this province.
They go on to say:
"Then the roof caved in. Statistics Canada reported that the property/casualty industry, as a whole, recorded a $1-billion profit in 1986 and that this profit was significantly greater than the profit that had been recorded for 1985."
I just digress here to say it sure was much greater. It was 30 per cent higher than they had ever made in their history before.
Let me go back to quoting: "Why, asked the NDP, should consumers pay higher auto insurance premiums in Ontario when insurance companies have made such a huge profit?" A pretty realistic question, really.
"The explanation of the Ontario automobile results, and the government's defence thereof, was beginning to fall on deaf ears. In response, the government" -- the government in this House - "had to make a choice. Would it continue to support the private insurance system, or would it capitulate and nationalize the automobile insurance industry? It chose the former."
That is not the only indication of what the insurance companies are admitting we have been able to force them to do. In fact, they have been motivated politically to protect their friends here at Queen's Park.
Just three days ago, there was an article in the London Free Press that I want to quote a paragraph from because it refers to this motivation of the government here. It is headed "Car Insurance Horror Stories Help Push Swart's Crusade." This is written by Gary May of the London Free Press, and those of us who know a bit about the London Free Press know it is not exactly a raving socialist newspaper; it is one of the most conservative in this province.
Gary May says this:
"Premier David Peterson, a staunch free-enterpriser, has tried to save private insurance by promising strict regulation of the rates and premium increases. But in April his consumer minister, Monte Kwinter, announced a stopgap freeze on rates, only to have the provincial superintendent of insurance reveal that all they were doing by capping the premiums was reducing the rate of increase most drivers face.
"This response to the public mood was ill-conceived and grew out of the fact that Peterson had not ruled out a summer election." How revealing. "It was trying to take a good issue away from the New Democratic Party. But by acting with apparently little planning. the government seemed heavy-handed to the industry and ineffectual in the eyes of consumers."
Certainly from the travelling I have been doing around this province, and I have been doing a substantial amount of it, that is a very accurate description of the mood of the people of this province.
The polls showed last spring that the public viewed the performance of the Liberals, particularly the Minister of Financial Institutions, as wholly inept when it came to dealing with auto insurance. In fact, it rated bottom; only 26 per cent of the people of this province thought the Liberals were doing a passable job on the auto insurance industry. Of course, that is the reason, and the only reason, we got one bill and are getting another and why the minister made that statement back on April 23.
The politicking by the government and its political motives go much further than just bringing in these bills. It is the whole design and the timing of these bills. Now we have Bill 56. Seven weeks after the statement was made, we get a simple little bill, Bill 56, that implies three categories of drivers are going to have their insurance rates capped. We know that is not the case -- they are not really going to be capped -- but at least that was the intent.
If it gets passed before we recess for the summer, it will put a few dollars in the pockets of a few people. Almost every editorial in every paper now reports that the public has seen through the statement and through the hollowness of this bill. Then we are going to get a rate review bill later.
An hon. member: Why are we debating without the minister?
Mr. Swart: It is a good question why are we debating without the minister. I guess the minister has always been indifferent about the plight of the motorists with regard to insurance. I guess the fact he has not been here today since the first five minutes after I started to speak is an indication of his lack of concern.
An hon. member: Why do we not adjourn until he gets here? This is ridiculous. No parliamentary assistant; no quorum; no minister. What the hell is going on?
Mr. Speaker: I might remind the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) that interjections are out of order, particularly for members not in their own seats. Does the member for Welland-Thorold wish to continue?
Mr. Swart: I look around and I do not see a quorum, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Welland-Thorold wish to continue?
Mr. Swart: Yes, I do, now we have a quorum present. I would just like to say that I do not think this debate should really continue unless the minister or his parliamentary assistant is going to be here. This issue is as important to the people of this province as anything we debate in this House. When we have a budget debate, the minister is here for that. Why should he not be here and intend to be here full-time when we are debating this issue?
I was talking about the scenario of the politics in the bills, the fact that we get Bill 56 and debate it seven weeks after the statement has been made by the minister; the fact that we do not yet even have the rate review bill seven weeks after that statement. Of course, this is all intentional. The minister does not want to have a review board operative before the next election comes around. He knows very well what will happen when the rate review board sits down to determine what the rates are going to be: It is going to increase them.
The minister read in the paper the other day, I believe it was on June 4, that the insurance companies profess to have lost $330 million in Ontario in 1986; his review board, by his own statement, is going to let the insurance companies make a profit; from past history, he has taken them at their word. He knows very well the companies are then going to apply increases so that the so-called deficit is no longer there.
The minister also knows that if he brings in the next bill, the one that is going to establish the rate review board and theoretically give it some kind of instructions to do away with discrimination against young people, particularly young males; to do away with discrimination where there are a number of drivers in the house, one is a bad driver and all the others are penalized; to do away with discrimination of excessively high rates for new drivers of any age and for new car owners -- incidentally, if a car owner does not get insurance for one year, if he sells the car and is without it for one year, he is considered a new car owner and has to pay 40 per cent more for his insurance -- and because he is perpetuating the present costly system, the minister knows those costs are going to be tacked on to the insurance rates of everybody, including the good drivers.
He knows the insurance companies will be saying they have great additional increases in expenses this year. I say that when that rate review board hands down its rulings, the rates in this province will go up between 15 per cent and 20 per cent The minister knows it. That is why we do not have that bill here. He does not want the rate review board in operation.
If he had been really concerned about the discrimination being experienced by these groups -- and the minister has talked about this; he has expressed concern -- he could have used section 371. He could have enacted that section and immediately eliminated discrimination. But he decided against using that procedure and instead will likely bring in a bill, as he said today, in the next few days. As he said in the introduction of this bill -- I believe "very soon" were his exact words; I want to quote him accurately -- very soon, he will bring in this other bill, but not soon enough that it is going to be operative before the next election is called. That is deliberate.
Of course, it may never become law at all. As the member for Mississauga East indicated, if they get the nice majority over there that they think they are going to get, the bill will probably never be resurrected. It will die.
The minister knows how absurd his whole plan is. In fact, he fought against it for almost two years in this House when we were proposing to cap rates. We were proposing all kinds of things that he is now implementing to eliminate the discrimination. He could not do it. It was going to take three years to eliminate discrimination for the young drivers. That is what he said in the House. Now, all of a sudden, he has done a complete reversal on all those things he was opposed to.
Lorrie Goldstein at Queen's Park, who is usually as supportive as he can be -- although I have to say on some occasions he is quite objective -- of the extreme right wing, which is certainly applied to our minister here, made these comments back on May 7, 1987. It is rather interesting that the Insurance Bureau of Ontario, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario and, for that matter, the Insurance Bureau of Canada are circulating one of Mr. Goldstein's earlier articles to try to discredit the New Democratic Party, but I would like to read from one of his later articles.
This is what he said: "Onward and upward. New Democrat MPP Mel Swart argued -- and what scares me is I am beginning to believe him -- that a state-run system would be better than the ham-handed way the government has lurched into the auto insurance industry while failing to do the one thing motorists want -- lower rates.
"He said Kwinter is about to create a nightmarish bureaucracy." He says that is a mouthful for the NDP, but I repeat that here today. It will be a nightmarish bureaucracy, if the government is going to thoroughly investigate 200 insurance companies to see what they do with their premiums, whether they put enough or too much into their reserves, whether they are taking money from general insurance for auto insurance. It will be a nightmarish bureaucracy such as we have never seen in this government before.
He said it "won't be able to do its job unless it hires more civil servants than it would take to establish a government-run system." Absolutely right. "Meanwhile, Jack Lyndon, president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said he's given up trying to figure out Kwinter's logic and dismissed yesterday's announcement as the latest eruption of Kwinter's already-fevered brain. `What the hell am I hearing,' he said, when informed of Kwinter's plan to give the rate review board power over premiums other than auto insurance premiums."
Mr. D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would like to make two points. I would like to know who is responsible in the House for carrying the bill.
The Acting Speaker: I understand the minister is here.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: On the point of order, I want to make something very clear. If the minister expects us to continue with the business in this House, he or his parliamentary assistant had better be in the House and paying attention to the debate or we will not continue with discussion of this bill.
Number two, I would like to know whether --
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: For the information of the member, I have been in the House during the total debate. I do not have to look at the member to hear him. I can hear him. He speaks very loudly.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I may not have been in my seat, but I have been here listening to him. I just want that on the record.
Mr. Swart: It seems to be that again, on this important subject, there is not a quorum.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Swart: I would just like to reiterate at this time that this issue of auto insurance -- and I am surprised the members of this House do not realize it -- is a major issue to the people out there. For members to be so indifferent that we have to keep calling for a quorum on this shows a lack of knowledge of what is really taking place out there in the towns, cities and countryside of this nation and of the way the people feel.
I was talking before about the political motivation of the bills we had and I just want to remind the House that this bill self-destructs at the end of the year. The scenario we have now is that we may or may not get a bill through that will put a meaningless cap on rates, but that I suppose may -- the minister certainly hopes -- bring the minister some political kudos for introducing it.
We have a rate review bill to be introduced at some time before we recess, which of course will never become operative before the next election and therefore will have no meaning except for political posturing. Then this bill will self-destruct at the end of the year. It only lasts for this year. If the government gets a nice majority in the coming election, the stage is set for not a single permanent change for the people of this province in the auto insurance system.
That is a deliberate intent on the part of the government that it will keep that option open. It is all a sham and the public knows it. I have already stated, but I want to repeat to the minister, that I have never seen the public angrier than it is at the present time.
I know the Liberal members are getting calls too -- they may not want to admit it, but I know they are -- to tell them how angry people are that after a cap has been announced, they are getting these tremendous increases. They have a right to be angry, because this government and the insurance companies are playing around with $3 billion of their premiums. This public that is angry is not just the motorists. It is the truckers, it is the bus operators, it is the taxi operators and the car dealers.
Just last week I met with a group of car dealers who had asked to meet with me when I was in the area because their sales to young people are dropping off. They tell me they have young people who will come in, look at the cars, decide they can afford to buy a car, make a tentative deal, then go out and try to get insurance, cannot afford the insurance and so cancel the deal on the car. That is true in standard cars, but it is even more true in the sports models, and so they are hurting from this as well.
The most disgraceful thing that is being done, I think, is being done by the proponents of the private insurance system in this province. I think perhaps the worst one I have known that has been perpetrated was by D. D. McKay, the general manager of the Facility Association -- a person, I suppose, to be considered one of the top individuals, one of the top executives in the whole insurance industry in this province.
When the Ontario Motor Coach Association appeared before our committee to tell us about the horrendous increases in rates and the injustices its members were experiencing at the hands of the insurance companies and told us it wanted a public insurance plan similar to the ones in the three western provinces, Mr. McKay took it upon himself to write a three-page letter to Brian Crow, who is the president of the Ontario Motor Coach Association.
Obviously, I will not read all of his letter, but I want to read the pertinent part, in which he told Mr. Crow that of course they were all wrong on the advantages of the public systems in those western provinces, that he should not even give consideration to it, and then he concluded his letter by saying: "I was interested in the quote that was attributed to you" -- the quote attributed to Brian Crow - "`We are told by the people out there (in BC) that that system doesn't lose money. So if it is no drain on taxpayers' money, why shouldn't we have the same system in Ontario?'" That is what Mr. Crow had said.
Then Mr McKay goes on to say this: "I am not sure what people told you that the system doesn't lose money, but starting in 1985 the following figures will indicate the loss suffered by the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (Auto-plan)." This is what he says in the letter: "1985 -- loss $84,823,000; 1984 -- loss $118,468,000; 1983 -- loss $97,505,000; 1982 -- loss $108,891,265; 1981 -- loss $101,937,769."
A letter signed by Mr. McKay, one of the top insurance people in this province. Incidentally, he sent a copy to Mr. Weir, the superintendent of insurance, to J. B. Nixon in the Ministry of Financial Institutions and to I. Lyndon, the president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Obviously, when Brian Crow got this letter, he was quite perturbed. He contacted me and he contacted Mr. Bucklaschuk. He contacted the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia and he got the true facts. They are written in his letter and the true facts were: In 1985, the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia made $73,562,000 profit; in 1984, it made $9,564,000 in profit; in 1983, $5,611,000 in profit; in 1982, $3,200,000 in profit; in 1981, $616,000 in profit; for a total of $92 million profit in those five years.
That is the audited statement of the ICBC, compared to what Mr. McKay said of a loss in those five years of $511 million. Even though the copy was sent to the superintendent of insurance and to those other groups, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the rest, none of them took the trouble to correct Mr. McKay and tell him that perhaps he was misleading the people of this province and, in particular, the Ontario Motor Coach Association.
Those are the kinds of distortions that are being mouthed over and over across this province. It is only slightly worse than the misrepresentation of the minister on Manitoba's position. He has stated over and over again that Manitoba lost $10 million last year and that had to be made up by the taxpayers, and that had it been in Ontario they would have had to make up $100 million. The minister has stated that over and over. He knows that is not true. He knows they had a surplus of $71 million in the rate reserve before the last year. He also knows they had a $17-million loss; not $10 million.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: What did they lose last year?
Mr. Swart: They lost $17 million, but the taxpayers did not make it up. The minister said the taxpayers made it up and that is nothing less than distortion because they did not make up a cent of it. It was taken out of the rate reserves, and they still have rate reserves of $54 million in Manitoba.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Does the member know what a rate reserve is?
Mr. Swart: Of course, I know what a rate reserve is. The minister does not even know they have one.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Swart: The Insurance Bureau of Canada quotes the minister on this sort of thing. They also quote him again in the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. They made this comment and it is so true. It says: "To a great degree, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have been defenders of the industry. They often cited that, for every dollar the companies collected in premium, $1.31 was paid out in claim costs." The minister also knows that $1.31 was not paid out in claims.
The minister also knows that includes claims costs which are part of their expenses but they never show it that way. They want the people to believe that somehow or other they are losing a lot of money on this. They do not want the public to know what it is costing them to adjust their claims; so these distortions are spread about the public plans in the west and the distortions about the insurance companies here.
This bill does nothing real to address the rates in this province and neither will the next one that I suppose will be brought in during the next few days. I say to the minister, his system is simply out of control. The rates in Quebec have not gone up as they have here. The minister must know that. The rates in the western provinces have not increased as they have here. As to the rates in the past five years in Ontario, the average motorist is paying 65 per cent more than he was five years ago. In Manitoba, they are paying 12.5 per cent more. That is one fifth of the increase we have had here. In British Columbia, it is 12 per cent more than it was five years ago. In Saskatchewan, it is even down four per cent. The minister knows the rates in this province are at least one third higher than they are in Vancouver, Winnipeg or Regina.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: -- even before they got into the business. If you knew anything about it, you would make some sense.
Mr. Swart: I say to the minister that now again he is repeating what the insurance companies say. I have challenged the insurance companies to bring me the figures and they have not done it. Now I challenge the minister to do it. I challenge the minister to bring the figures for 20 or 30 years ago to show it. He is repeating what the insurance companies are saying.
Mr. Laughren: He will not even debate you, Mel.
Mr. Swart: He will not even debate me. Why does he not debate me out on the hustings? People would love to hear him and me debate. If he is as right as he thinks he is, he could win hands down. Boy, there is an opportunity for him, but somehow or other he does not take it up; it is because he cannot back up statements such as he just made. He should table the figures, independent figures on how much lower they were out there 20 years ago. He cannot do it and neither can the insurance companies.
We pointed out that in 1986 the average rate paid in Ontario was $605 and that it was $395 in British Columbia, $324 in Manitoba and $228 in Saskatchewan. The surprising thing to me was that the president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada on two occasions publicly stated that he could not argue with those figures, that they seemed about right to him. That is the contrast the people in this province could have in their insurance rates if we had the kind of system they have out there.
The minister refuses even to investigate. The minister will not appoint an independent body to investigate the auto insurance systems in those western provinces compared to the system here. This House knows that back on December 4, there was a resolution passed in this House. I am going to quote only the operative part of it. It says "the government of Ontario should appoint immediately a respected firm of financial and accounting consultants (like Woods Gordon, who did the previous study in 1978) to make a comprehensive study and comparison of the rates and policies of the western public plans with those of Ontario so that the public of this province know the true facts concerning a major auto insurance alternative which could be made available to the people of this province."
That does not seem to be a terribly unreasonable request, yet the minister has refused to do it even though this was passed by the House. He has refused to carry out that investigation.
Even the London Free Press in an article on Saturday, June 13, made this comment, "There is clearly a sufficient level of public interest to justify an unbiased and independent comparison of the public and private auto insurance systems in Canada." Yet the minister refuses to do that independent investigation. Again, the reason he does not is perfectly obvious. It is a political decision. The minister knows very well that if an independent investigation were made, if Woods Gordon did that investigation and brought the report it made in 1978 up to date, it would show those plans so superior to what we have in this province that there would be a hue and cry that would be so overwhelming the minister would have to bring it in.
That is why we do not get the investigation. That is why the minister will not do an independent comparison. He has stated, and his Premier (Mr. Peterson) has stated, over and over again, "If it can be proved to us that a public plan is better, we will certainly give consideration to implementing it." Who do they expect to prove it? If those kinds of statements are sincere, by God, you go out and find out, do you not? But the minister refuses; he refuses to find out. The minister can go over to England, Switzerland, France or Germany to investigate the insurance plans there, and do it at public expense, but he will not go to Manitoba, Saskatchewan or British Columbia to investigate them here. If anything shows bias and indifference to really finding out about an alternative, that certainly has to prove it.
Mr. Hayes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: There are not enough members for a quorum here to proceed with this debate.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Swart: The Minister of Financial Institutions is playing the insurance companies' game, and he is playing it very well for them. He simply does not want to do the investigation. He wants the misrepresentations of the insurance companies, the Conservatives and himself to continue and not be refuted by some independent investigation that might show how beneficial those western plans are.
I have to say I was a bit surprised today when I heard the member for Mississauga East make a statement about subsidization of the public insurance plan. I guess he has fallen prey to the misrepresentations of the insurance industry or perhaps wants to believe it; I do not know. Generally speaking, we have found that the Conservatives have been more straight out on this than those over there. They took the position, "Whatever else happens, we will keep private enterprise doing it." They have not made these rather silly moves that are not going to help the motorists of this province but that will keep the private insurance industry in power and, the minister hopes, give the Liberals the opportunity to return as a government.
I wish the member for Mississauga East were here. I would like to remind him that not a cent of public funds has gone into the auto insurance system of Manitoba; not a cent. What they tried to misinterpret was when Manitoba put on a two-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax as part of a premium levy. It was not taken out of public funds; it was not taken out of the general revenue; it was a special levy to go directly to the insurance company. Of course, with the private insurance companies here, if you travel farther, you pay more. They thought maybe that was a good idea out there and a good way of collecting it. Apart from that, not a penny has gone in. When the minister gets up and says there is some loss of $34 million or $44 million or $50 million, he knows very well it has nothing to do with auto insurance in Manitoba.
In Saskatchewan, not a penny of the public treasury has gone into the auto insurance system. In all their advertisements, the insurance companies and the Insurance Bureau of Canada say that $72 million has gone into the insurance system in Saskatchewan. Yes, $72 million did go into the insurance system but not into the auto insurance system, not a penny of it. It is a separate one. It went into a general insurance system. They had storms and all kinds of other problems out there and the general insurance industry was in trouble. They wanted to funnel money to it to pay the people of the province who had these catastrophes, so they did that.
In this province, we had farmers in the tobacco area -- the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) would know this -- and we paid $30 million of public funds to the tobacco farmers because of the catastrophe they had. None of us objected to that. But a government of Saskatchewan funnelled money into the general insurance system to pay for those kinds of things and it is classed as a $72-million subsidy to the auto insurance system.
I must say that even in British Columbia, $181 million went into the auto insurance system, but there were some pretty special circumstances with regard to that and none has gone in since. The circumstances were that they also put out a gasoline tax. When Social Credit came to power, it refused to turn it over to the government so there was a general subsidy to pay.
It is also true, and I am being very frank and honest, that when the New Democratic Party took power there and introduced the plan, it did not set the rates high enough. Part of the reason was the fact that the insurance companies would not give them the records. They did in the other two provinces, but there they refused to give them the records.
Not only that; Social Credit had said: "We will sell off this insurance. Just elect us and we will sell this off." They got elected but they did not sell it off, I can tell the members that. They put in $181 million to sweeten the pot so it would be sold off more profitably to help out their friends, but the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia now is as profitable an insurance company as any in Canada. Last year, the interest on its investments was such that it could reduce rates by 23 per cent below what they would have been if it did not have that interest on its investments.
Then we hear this talk that there is such a greater density of traffic out there in the western provinces. The insurance companies had this on TV several months ago; it may even have been last year. The minister used that in the House, about the density of traffic out there: "You could not expect rates to be as cheap here as they are there." Of course, the statistics show the number of accidents, which is what causes claims -- it is not density of traffic; it is the number of accidents -- is higher per 100 cars there than it is here.
In fact, in the past five years, the number of accidents per 100 cars annually in Ontario has been 3.5 per cent; in Manitoba it has been five per cent; in Saskatchewan, it has been 5.3 per cent; in British Columbia it has been 5.5 per cent. There have been 40 per cent more accidents per 100 cars in those western provinces. Their rates, of course, should be higher than they are here.
I want to conclude by saying that --
Mr. Swart: There are a few other things I want to say.
This bill and the one that is going to come are distasteful to us, because we know there is an alternative that will eliminate the injustices and lower rates. For 41 years in Saskatchewan, 17 years in Manitoba and 15 years in British Columbia, young people have not paid any more than older people. There was no discrimination because of marital status. Nobody paid any extra out there because his wife or her husband happened to have a bad record. Everybody pays the same, if one has a good driving record. Penalty rates are applied only to the bad drivers, and only to that person, not to anybody else.
Our party insisted on putting into practice that kind of system in the west and we insist that we have that kind of system here. Our justice system in this province is based on the premise that one is innocent until proved guilty. We insist that be the basis of our insurance system here too. Young people, members of the family, marital status, new driver, new car owner: That should not have any bearing on the insurance rates one pays. If one has a driver's licence and it is not proved that one is a bad driver, then one should be paying the minimum rate. This bill does not provide it. It is doubtful the next one will. I want to say that we in this party will not settle for anything less.
Insurance companies in this province have more to say about who drives on the roads than the law does. They are the ones who cancel the insurance so a person cannot drive or afford the insurance. That is a horrendous negation of democracy. This bill does nothing to rectify that situation. We will settle for nothing less on this issue. We believe that everyone who drives on the road should have insurance.
In spite of what the minister may say, 200,000 people drive on the roads of this province without insurance. It was the minister's government that submitted the information to the survey that was done two years ago or a year and a half ago on the numbers driving without insurance in North America. They estimated there were 175,000 driving then. Since I have been involved in this insurance issue, I am having people call me to tell me they are driving without insurance for the very first time. When a person admits that, there are a lot of them out there.
With a system such as they have in Manitoba, when you have to get your licence, you have to get insurance with your licence so everybody has insurance. Nobody is driving without insurance in those provinces. Surely that makes a lot of sense. I was on a debate with Mr. Kelleher of the Insurance Bureau of Canada a while ago -- some people will debate with me -- and he said there are 6,800 driving without insurance in Manitoba.
I must say that set me back a little bit. I had never heard that. I called Manitoba to find out about it and do the members know what it was? There were 6,800 people there whose cheques had bounced and therefore they did not have insurance and did not have licences. Within a week's time, the licence plates were off 90 per cent of the cars. There were not 6,800 people driving there without insurance at all. That is the kind of distortion we get on these things. We say that everybody should have insurance in this province and we will settle for nothing less.
Finally, we believe that when the law says, as it does in this province, that everyone must have insurance, the government has an obligation to provide it at the lowest possible rate. Instead, the minister supports a system that collects between $500 million and $750 million more from the people of this province than they would pay under the public alternative for equal or better insurance. I say that we will settle for nothing less than the system that resolved these injustices and excessive rates, which is the driver-owned public system they have in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Mr. Breaugh: I have been in committee all afternoon and I have not had a chance to listen to the member for Welland-Thorold. I wonder if he would mind repeating his speech so I could benefit from his wisdom.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that you just grant that. Do not call for a vote.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Haggerty: The member for Welland-Thorold talked about the insurance in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and he talked about the cost there. Is that the basic cost? Does it include the comprehensive? Does it include sickness and accident insurance? Does it include collision?
Mr. Swart: Yes, it does.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I know the member is very anxious to speak. Are there any other comments or questions?
Mr. Polsinelli: In the few minutes the member for Welland-Thorold has to reply, I would like him also to address the issue of accident frequency rates and how they compare with the Ontario experience.
Mr. Swart: I will be glad to answer those two questions. First, perhaps I was speaking too quietly and the member did not hear me, because I covered the question from the member for Yorkview (Mr. Polsinelli).
The frequency of accidents is substantially greater in the west. The Department of Transport reports that in the last five years the accident frequency rate in Ontario has been annually 3.5 cars per 100; in Manitoba, five cars per 100; in Saskatchewan, 5.3 per 100; and in British Columbia it is 5.5.
They are quite dramatically reducing their accident rates; you can attribute it to anything you like. But at least in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where accidents mostly happen in the wintertime, their long winters are probably the reason that the accident rate is much higher in the western provinces.
With regard to the question raised by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), yes, that includes all the insurance they carry. Quite frankly, we cannot compare exactly. We have done this between cars and have compared exactly. When we compare the average rate for everybody, it is true the coverages may not be identical. Generally speaking, in a place such as Manitoba, collision is part of the no-fault, so everybody has collision on his car in Manitoba.
Mr. Haggerty: At extra cost.
Mr. Swart: No, that is at no extra cost; that is included in the rate. Also included in that rate is the driver's insurance fee. In those provinces you will pay $15 or $20 for insurance when you get your driver's licence. Of course, if you have an accident, that fee increases, but those rates include that fee.
Mr. Morin-Strom: I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue. It is a vitally important one. I want to commend my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold, first, for the address he has given us today and, more important, for the work he has done on this issue over the last year. He has done an absolutely tremendous job on behalf of the consumers of this province who are facing rates which are an absolute ripoff throughout this province.
He chaired a committee of our party which held hearings throughout the province; I think it was started nearly a year ago and went on for several months. It produced a very detailed report of the problems that were being faced by consumers in Ontario with regard to not only their auto insurance but also other areas of insurance coverage.
In terms of the focus of public concern, the high auto insurance rates were the major area of most vociferous outrage. This has continued to this point, and we finally have an issue on which I think we are going to see some action, not by this government but by the next government, because of the intensity of feeling in this issue.
I have had the opportunity to communicate with many of the residents of my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, and the residents are very outspoken on this issue. I have brought into the Legislature today just some of the communications I have had from my most recent mailing, in which we focused some of our questions on concerns about the auto insurance issue and, in particular, offered residents the opportunity to write back to me with some of their concerns and to state their opinions about whether we should in fact be instituting a driver-owned auto insurance plan in this province.
The greatest number of responses I had ever received previously to any constituency questionnaire was approximately 850. To this latest questionnaire, we have received, to date, more than 2,300 responses. Out of that 2,300, nearly 2,000 of them were signed responses, and of those, more than 1,500 asked that we send them more information on the auto insurance issue.
I have stacks and stacks of concerned individuals in my riding, and my understanding is that this has been the case in ridings across the province. Certainly members of our party have been asking individuals to write with their concerns about their own auto insurance plans, the rates they are being charged and what they think of our initiative in terms of adopting the plan that has been adopted in the western provinces to initiate a public system of auto insurance, one that has worked very successfully.
Three western provinces which have had the good fortune to have had government under a New Democratic Party leadership have in all three cases -- in the case of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia -- instituted driver-owned, publicly run auto insurance plans. Those plans have proven again and again to have rates that are much lower than they are here in Ontario. We have cases of individuals who have left Ontario and gone out to those provinces, and, with the identical coverage and the same vehicle, they have found that their rates are much lower in those provinces than they were back here.
Of course, those are the happy cases. The sad cases are the ones we hear of people who have moved back into Ontario from any of the western provinces and have found that their rates have gone up anywhere from 25 per cent up to 300 or 400 per cent higher than they were in those provinces.
The responses include a number of comments concerning these plans. I might read out a few as an example of what individuals are saying about the need for public auto insurance.
Mrs. Gioventu says, "I hope something can be done about the auto insurance within the next year." I would certainly hope that there will be as well, but unless we get a change of heart from the current government, I think we may have to wait, at least for the next election.
From Mr. Jubinville: "I think that the topic of my largest concern, and probably many others, is that of auto insurance premiums. If it is true that other provinces which have government in control of the premiums have lower rates, what are you waiting for?"
Another letter from a doctor living on Drake Street in the Sault: "The most important problems facing Ontario are: number one, auto insurance; number two, indexing of private pension funds."
A letter from the Jobst family in Sault Ste. Marie: "I truly hope the NDP will fight for lower insurance premiums and a driver-owned insurance plan. The big companies have made enough profits at the expense of drivers. If it works in other provinces, why can't it work for Ontario? Keep up the good work."
Another one is from a Mr. Gill: "I wish you and your party would push harder for driver-owned car insurance. We are getting raped by these insurance companies. I have talked to many people on this, and they are all in favour of driver-owned insurance."
The comments just go on and on. From a Mr. Elliott, who runs a garage in the community: "Auto and liability insurance rates are to the point that insurance may be the straw that broke the camel's back for many small businesses."
I believe we are approaching six o'clock, Mr. Speaker. May I move that we adjourn the debate?
On motion by Mr. Morin-Strom, the debate was adjourned.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to inform the members, and you may all be aware of the reason, that the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) will not be available to debate the response he was dissatisfied with. However, pursuant to standing order 30, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made, and I will call on the member for Carleton for up to five minutes.
APPORTIONMENT OF EDUCATION TAXES
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway)?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft).
Mr. Mitchell: The rules specifically state that the minister or his parliamentary assistant will debate the issue with me, and I feel it is showing the contempt of the minister for the particular issue I have concern about.
Mr. Speaker: The member may put his comments.
Mr. Mitchell: Then I shall speak.
Mr. Speaker: If you wish.
Mr. Mitchell: I emphatically state that this shows the typical contempt that the minister has for this House in that he is not here, nor is his parliamentary assistant, to debate something for which there was more than adequate notice.
The issue I am taking exception to with the minister is the Nepean educational apportionment. I have asked the minister questions in this House repeatedly, and on many occasions he tries to be very flip about his answers by pitting myself against another member of my particular caucus. I want to assure him that his method is not going to succeed, because we are in fact united in this particular situation.
The problem in Nepean goes back to 1972, when Nepean first appealed. All that time since then, the process has been allowed to be followed, but in this instance the minister did something that was totally contrary to the Education Act and in fact totally contrary to due process.
We know that when an Ontario Municipal Board hearing is held, if there are unsatisfied groups, organizations or persons, the normal process is that there is an avenue of appeal through to the cabinet. If that process had been followed, I do not think anyone would have really been upset. In this case, it never ever got to cabinet. Rather, the minister went to the chairman of the OMB, who, I find it very difficult to say, bowed to that sort of request. That is not like the OMB, and I think the chairman of the OMB should be answering me as to why he responded in that kind of fashion.
The Minister of Education is refusing to deal with a very contentious issue in my municipality. I have asked him when he will amend the legislation. Today, he sent me a report to him by the Deputy Minister of Education. I thank him for sending that to me; however, what is being suggested in the material he sent is that Nepean should go to the Divisional Court. I suggest there is a far simpler way this can be dealt with; it can be dealt with by the Minister of Education doing what is his job, instead of going beyond what is his job and interfering in this due process.
I have asked him to provide for me and for my municipality a list of all the municipalities in Ontario that are similarly affected. He said he would, but I have not seen it as yet. The fact that this minister interfered with due process in the situation in Nepean but did not do so in Onondaga, where they had a similar appeal, shows that what was bothering him more was not the equality he talks about but who the member was in that particular area. He did not interfere in the area that is represented by the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), but he conveniently interfered in the riding of Carleton and the city of Nepean.
There are two things this minister must provide to me, as a member, and must in fact do for the municipality of Nepean. One is to stop showing his contempt for the House as he has done today, but begin to provide the material and information that has been requested and begin to show this House that he is concerned, using his words, about equality in this province and amend the legislation.
Why should a municipality be faced with a costly process of going through the courts, when he has available to him the process to allow the legislation to be amended? He created the problem. He forced the Ontario Municipal Board hearing, which has now frozen any future appeals by the city of Nepean. He is again going way outside his area of responsibility in that he did something that has never been done by any former Minister of Education. I want him to answer this member in this House for satisfaction in this matter.
Ms. E. J. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I put on the record that I believe this was originally to be dealt with last week. The Minister of Education was here and would have answered at that time.
The House adjourned at 6:07 p.m.