L038 - Wed 10 Feb 1988 / Mer 10 fév 1988
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Philip: Yesterday, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) condescendingly stated that members of the Legislature who believe in a common day of rest are living in the past. Perhaps he felt the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) was living in the past when she signed her name to the report of the select committee on retail store hours.
The report of this select committee, which was established by the Premier himself at a cost of $90,337 to the taxpayers, reflected the views of thousands of citizens and presentations by the representatives of community, church and business groups. No doubt the Premier believes the leaders of these groups are living in the past.
He was obviously thinking of the future when, during the election campaign, he stated he was in favour of the committee’s report and its theme of a common pause day for Ontario. It is too bad that the future he was thinking of was his career’s future on election day.
Grocery-store operators and their employees claim that Sunday shopping will increase food costs since it will be more expensive to remain open for an extra day with no expected increase in overall volume. Another throwback to the past is the increasingly large number of people lining up at soup kitchens and food banks. Additional food costs caused by an open Sunday can only increase this throwback to the past.
Promising one thing during an election campaign and doing exactly the opposite after an election is also a throwback to the past, a throwback to the old style of politics. It is the Premier who is living in the past, not those citizens across Ontario who feel that Sunday shopping will be more costly to the consumer and an added stress on our way of life.
Mr. Eves: I would like to bring to the attention of the House the presence of members from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 870, in the gallery today. They are here to express their concerns regarding ministerial plans for the relocation of the Perley Hospital, a chronic care facility in Ottawa.
The union does not oppose the construction of a new hospital. However, they do believe that the existing Perley Hospital should be recycled to provide a broad range of innovative health services to the elderly. In a city which has to close emergency wards because patients cannot be moved into acute care beds, because they are occupied by chronic care patients, the decision to eliminate such services is indeed hard to understand.
Our caucus task force report on the future health care needs of seniors, entitled Care for the Elderly, showed there is a shortage of health care beds for seniors in all types of facilities. The future health care of our ageing population requires careful planning. Our party is committed to expanding community-based programs which will enable more seniors to remain in their communities. However, we also recognize that there will always be a need for chronic and extended care beds.
Existing facilities such as the Perley Hospital must be used to help meet current and future needs of seniors in this province. I urge the Minister of Health to maintain the existing Perley Hospital in Ottawa in order to provide health care programs for the elderly.
ONTARIO HERITAGE WEEK
Mr. Dietsch: My riding of St. Catharines-Brock has always been proud of its heritage and has worked tirelessly to preserve it. Take for example Niagara-on-the-Lake in the northeast section of my riding. Niagara-on-the-Lake has been many things to many people. It has been an Indian village, a pioneer settlement which became the first colonial capital of Upper Canada, a site of a British fort, a strategic defence point against American invaders and now a place where people can step back into history.
On Saturday, February 6, the Welland Canal Society, the Ontario Historical Society and the Ministry of Culture and Communications organized a regional display commemorating Ontario Heritage Week at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines. This event highlighted the attractions and services of local museums and historical societies, among others.
There were about 40 organizations which participated, among which were the Niagara Chapter of Archeological Exhibits, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the Senior Citizens Council of St. Catharines, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Society, the Niagara Parks Commission, the Historical Society of St. Catharines, the St. Catharines district branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, the Niagara Antique Power Association and the Welland Canal Association, to name but a few.
The event was a tremendous success. As I walked among the displays --
Mr. Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Dietsch: --it was very apparent that these organizations, in the true spirit of Heritage Week --
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are other members who would like to make a statement.
Mr. Farnan: The Ministry of Correctional Services must be held accountable for the deplorable state of the Toronto bail program, the Kitchener bail program and others throughout the province. Financial restrictions are forcing these programs to limit case loads. As a result, individuals who would otherwise be released awaiting their trial are forced to suffer in custody.
It costs approximately $2.65 to keep people under supervision in the community pending their trials and over $45 a day to keep them in jail. Imprisonment before trial runs contrary to our belief in the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. We are all aware of the overcrowding in our jails. The failure of the Ministry of Correctional Services to expand funding for the bail program is resulting in increased overcrowding.
There is little doubt that without the supervision of the bail program, few courts will be willing to release accused persons on their own recognizance in situations where surety or bail programs would usually be required. This will result in individuals being detained in custody because they do not have family or friends with financial resources. As a result, our judicial system is reduced to one in which there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.
I urge the minister to make available an infusion of funds to remedy this intolerable situation.
Mr. Cousens: Most members of this House will be familiar with the important role palliative care has played in our health care system. As members will know, palliative care is compassionate care for the terminally ill, based more on a philosophy of life than on treatment for the dying.
Last year I had the honour of chairing a task force on behalf of our party which dealt primarily with care for the elderly and palliative care services. Due to my involvement in this activity, I became more aware of the struggle by professionals and volunteers who strive to enhance palliative care services in Ontario and across the country. I have personally been involved in setting up hospice services in southern York region.
On April 30 of last year, I presented a motion that received unanimous approval by this Legislature, which called for the development of a comprehensive, community-based system of palliative care services. To date this government has done little to improve upon services for the terminally ill. Requests for financial support have gone unanswered.
Now it is with deep regret that I make this Legislature aware of the closing of the Canadian Palliative Care Foundation. Unable to raise money for its own survival, the foundation will no longer be able to provide its many services and research to those in need.
I call on this government to live up to the commitment of my motion and assist in providing and maintaining an organization which helped --
Mr. Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mrs. Stoner: It is my great pleasure today to introduce to the Legislature two very special people: Jill Johnson, a constituent of mine from Ajax, and Jacqueline Harbour of Ancaster, the founder of the Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada organization. Jill is deaf. Her hearing-ear dog Toby, who is with her today, is her ears.
Toby has received obedience training in both voice and sign language and he is the first Canadian-registered purebred German Shepherd trained as a hearing-ear dog and placed in a home. Normally, hearing-ear dogs are mutts and are donated by the humane society. I know from Jill that having Toby has enhanced her active life and that he is a great assistance to her. With Jackie is Corky, one of Canada’s first hearing-ear dogs.
Hearing household sounds such as ringing doorbells, telephones, alarm clocks, stove timers, smoke detectors and kettles is something that we hearing people take for granted, but that is not the case for a deaf person. Hearing-ear dogs alert the deaf to these sounds.
As a nonprofit organization, Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada relies upon donations for assistance and to operate. I am encouraging the organization to make a submission to the Ministry of the Attorney General to have a deaf persons’ rights act similar to that of the Blind Persons’ Rights Act. Such legislation would ensure that hearing-ear dogs have the same kind of access to facilities as do the seeing-eye dogs. I ask members to join me in welcoming our visitors.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
TELEVISION EXTENSION IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Hon. Ms. Oddie Munro: All residents of the province should have access to adequate television service. Our government is committed to ensuring that this happens. We especially want television service in northern Ontario to be as accessible as it is in other parts of the province. To achieve this, I am pleased to announce the first 10 project grants of the television extension in northern Ontario, TENO, program.
TENO funding supports capital costs for the construction of cable television systems or low-power rebroadcasting transmitters. TENO will increase access to the English- and French-language television services of TVOntario and the Ontario Legislative Assembly for residents in northern Ontario communities.
Today, I am pleased to announce that a total of $313,377 has been awarded to three cable television operators to extend the delivery of cable television service. This funding will expand cable services and bring television reception to nine northern communities, including two native communities which were previously underserved.
The 10 project grants of the TENO program have been awarded as follows: to Northern Cable Service Ltd. of Sudbury, which has received a total of $222,916 for seven projects; Norcom Communications Ltd. of Kenora, which has received a total of $47,561 for two projects; and Maclean Hunter Cable TV of Thunder Bay, which has received $42,900 for one project.
These 10 projects are extensions of existing cable operations. The projects will enable approximately 500 previously unserved households in northern Ontario to have access to cable television services.
I am pleased to inform the House that more than 160 of these households are located in two native communities. The projects are expected to deliver full service to these residents within one year, depending upon the approval of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The $10.6-million TENO program was announced last year by my colleague the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) to provide residents in northern Ontario communities with improved television services and reception.
TENO is funded by the Board of Internal Economy and the northern development fund administered by my colleague the Minister of Northern Development (Mr. Fontaine).
TENO is an important step in improving the delivery of television service to the residents of northern Ontario. I am pleased my ministry has the lead role in implementing this valuable program.
SENIOR CITIZENS’ SERVICES
Hon. Mrs. Wilson: I wish to announce today details of a further increase in funding for home support services, elderly persons centres and Alzheimer programs.
On behalf of my honourable colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney), I am pleased to make this statement reaffirming our government’s determination to strengthen services to senior citizens living in our communities.
This announcement, along with that of January 6, reflects the commitment of this government to the initiatives outlined in A New Agenda released in June 1986.
Effective January 1 of this year, the government has approved additional funding to expand community support programs. This program enrichment will reach $12.3 million per year when fully mature in 1989-90. This amount is in addition to the $7.9 million already announced on January 6 for funding formula enrichment.
This is how the funding will be allocated:
A sum of $5.3 million annually to enrich home support programs such as Meals on Wheels, friendly visiting, home maintenance and home help. Of this amount, there will be at least $2.3 million annually to develop and expand home support services for Indians and natives, francophones and people who live in isolated areas of this province.
A further $1 million will be allocated annually to enable senior day programs, which support independent living, to expand to more communities in Ontario.
To assist the elderly living in rural parts of Ontario, the government has set aside $1 million annually to purchase vans and provide associated operating funding for transportation services.
I am sure members of this House are aware that there are many rural communities without public transportation or with limited means of travel to necessary services. This initiative will greatly improve the mobility of our senior citizens.
As well, I am pleased to announce funding of $3 million to enhance development of Alzheimer community support services. These dollars are in addition to the new initiative funding for Alzheimer programs begun two years ago.
As I announced on January 6, funds have been provided to increase the operating ceiling on elderly persons centres. In addition, funds have been approved to support the development of 25 new centres to be phased in, beginning in 1988-89. In this development, priority will be given to those centres whose programs and services emphasize a preventive, health maintenance approach. An additional $2 million has been approved to support the operation and funding of elderly persons centres in Ontario.
We intend progressively to expand and improve community services in order to achieve a more uniform distribution across the province. Particular emphasis is being placed on enriching the funding base for home support services and on developing a network of community support services.
We shall continue to honour that commitment made in A New Agenda to enhance and expand services to seniors who wish to remain living independently in their own communities.
TELEVISION EXTENSION IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Wildman: I would like to respond to the statement by the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro) with regard to the extension of the TENO program.
This program will provide basic television services and a choice and alternatives in television service to small, isolated northern communities that do not have the service, which is taken for granted in most communities in southern Ontario, and we welcome it. We hope the minister will be able to extend it further so that many small communities which at present have only one channel or in some cases no service at all will be able to receive services.
Also, it is of particular importance that we are able to provide TVOntario service and the service of the parliamentary channel to these communities so that they can have some additional choice.
I hope that at some future date the ministry will consider the possibility of extending native-language television services into many of the northern communities. On behalf of the small native communities that will now be able to receive some service with the extension of this cable system, I say to the minister and to the government, “Meegwetch.”
SENIOR CITIZENS’ SERVICES
Mr. Allen: Responding to the statement by the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson), I think all of us welcome any additional resources that are, in particular, put at the disposal of those who are often in the marginal communities in our province, namely, Indians, natives, francophones and people living in isolated areas, who very often have much lower access to services of all kinds than many of the rest of us do.
I am delighted to see that aspect of this program and the general additional funds that are being directed in that fashion. Also, I think with respect to seniors in the rural areas, as a recent statement and study by the Ontario Advisory Council for Disabled Persons indicated, mobility is life itself. In the rural areas that is even more true than anywhere else and for seniors, of course, in particular.
Might I note, however, two or three concerns. One is that I think the minister made some additional funding commitments to some community programs about a month or so ago. I noted at that point in time that it would be nice to see some regular cost indexing on these programs so that one did not just sort of leap into a series of lapses of funding and then attempt to catch up, but maintained a regular costing for the service itself.
Also, as we move into these more comprehensive deliveries of services for seniors, the handicapped and so on, numerous programs that have been fielded on the basis of volunteer organizations in the past need to be looked at again, I think, in terms of the structure of their delivery service. For example, I know the people who have worked with Meals on Wheels are very concerned that while, yes, it is good to get additional funding, perhaps the way in which the whole system is structured now needs some very careful attention, because as it becomes province-wide, virtually universal, the delivery requirements are much more substantial, much more intricate and require a much more solid network and delivery system.
I would hope that as we move into each of these areas of support systems for seniors we will find ways to make them adequate for the people concerned so that there is not inadvertent lapsing, occasional collapsing, etc., along the road in the process of maintaining seniors and their lives in the community.
Mr. Cousens: I am pleased that the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs is making announcements and showing a commitment to the need that the elderly have in our province.
I am, in some respects, disappointed that the former member for London North is not able to continue to participate, because I think he did a great deal to start this process. The once-Honourable Ron Van Horne has now gone to another place. In fact, I think we appreciate the fact that there has been a commitment shown through his services and continuing now through this minister in being concerned with seniors’ needs. Maybe the ghost of Ron Van Horne lives on, but more than that, I am seeing the handiwork of someone who also cares.
The new agenda did state a number of initiatives. It took a while for them to start coming out. When we look at the five different ways in which the minister is planning to spend some money, we have large problems with home support programs across the province because many of the home support programs cannot find staff to run them any more.
If a senior is looking for home support, the minister can pour in all the money she wants right now, but unless the salaries come up and people are trained and want to become involved in helping someone stay in his own home, then all the money in the world is not going to do it. She has to make sure she maintains a level of funding so that home support services can continue in a strong way.
The senior day program is in itself a positive program and I know many seniors will benefit from that. I wonder how much she can do with $1 million if the cost of administration is one thing and then the cost of spending it on vans -- I think it is excellent. I hope the government has a plan for northern Ontario, a plan for eastern Ontario, a plan for the west and a plan for Metro, but if it has only 25 or 30 vans, what difference does this really make to the whole province? It is good to start, but some people are going to be jealous of those who have --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It depends on what row you sit in.
Mr. Cousens: The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) seems to be having a problem. There is still some tar on his tongue.
With respect to the needs of Alzheimer victims and their families, the Alzheimer victim does not understand what has happened to him or her in the latter stages, but his family sure does. While $3 million to help with that is a good start, we are in a stage now where the seniors represent four people in every 100. Within the next 20 years they are going to be six people in every 100. The number of seniors is increasing. We must begin far more fervently to do more for our seniors.
I believe there are many things this government could be doing to give leadership. In the opening statements of this House today, I called upon the government to do something to help with the palliative care foundation. There has been very little done.
Maybe it is because the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health do not talk to one another. The Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs has a chance to bring them together and to try to get home care, home support and those services that help people in their homes to work together more effectively. It is not happening now, but the minister can give that kind of leadership.
I would also like to see the minister do something to respond to the needs that the member for York North (Mr. Beer) has brought forward for Greenacres. There are so many seniors looking for places to go when they cannot stay in their homes any longer, and we have 250 beds waiting to be used that could be used if this government would open them up.
They can pat themselves on the back with one pat but no more. We would like to see an awful lot more done to help the people who really need that help.
TELEVISION EXTENSION IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Eves: I am pleased to respond to the statement made today by the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms. Oddie Munro). We welcome the extension of services to nine more northern communities, especially the two native communities, which were previously overlooked.
I would ask the minister, however, to find out what happened to the $200,000 to $300,000 set aside for a TVOntario tower in Parry Sound some three years ago. I presume the money is sitting in her ministry collecting interest, so that Parry Sound now has about $400,000 to spend on the TVO tower.
SENIOR CITIZENS’ SERVICES
Mr. McLean: I want to say a few words with regard to the statement of the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. For some time in this Legislature, I have been making speeches about the Alzheimer people in this province. I am pleased to see the $3 million that the minister has put forward to help these people in their time of need. I will be watching very carefully and closely to see that this money is being put in and being spent to help these people.
Mr. Villeneuve: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I rise to respond to the improper allegation made yesterday by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) when he suggested that I was supporting his government’s stand on Sunday shopping. The only time I have ever discussed the idea of a municipal option was upon my initial appointment to the Progressive Conservative task force on extended shopping hours in January 1986. At that time I --
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is a very good point of information. I do not quite see how it is a point of privilege. Any member is allowed to rise and correct his or her own record, not someone else’s record.
USE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Health. Would the minister agree with the statement that Ontario is now an overmedicated society?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I believe we have done considerable work in the past two and a half years to look at the state of health of the residents of Ontario. One of the things we recently announced was a health status survey that will be conducted very shortly by the Ministry of Health to determine what the health status actually is of the people so that we can plan our programs for the future to ensure that we can meet the highest possible standards of health.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: That is a good answer.
Mr. B. Rae: The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) says, “That is a good answer.” According to his environmental standards, it is a good answer; according to anybody else’s environmental standards, l do not think it meets the test.
Can the Minister of Health confirm that she in fact received the letter from Dr. Carruthers stating categorically that the drug formulary that is now in place includes “ineffective, toxic or excessively expensive drugs”? He calls the special authorization system an “absurd” system “which squanders millions of dollars annually.”
Can she confirm that in an earlier report which Dr. Carruthers headed along with several other doctors, which was sponsored by her predecessor, the member for Bruce (Mr. Elston), up to 20 per cent of geriatric patient hospitalizations are ascribable to either adverse drug reaction or to errors in drug dosage? If that figure is true, it means that nearly a million person-days are being spent by seniors in hospitals because of the misuse and misprescription of drugs in our system today? Can she confirm she is in receipt of these letters and these reports? If what she says is true, why did Dr. Carruthers choose to resign?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: Let me inform the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae) that in the last four months I have spent considerable time discussing this particular issue with many interest groups which are very concerned, and as concerned as I am, about the state of drug use in Ontario.
The first conversation I had with the Ontario Medical Association revealed that it, too, is concerned about prescribing habits of physicians who write the prescriptions that the seniors in this province take.
A representative of a consumer advocate association -- a woman by the name of Joan Watson, a member of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy -- and I discussed this issue. Consumer groups are very concerned. The Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee is also very concerned. The deputy minister met with the DQTC to discuss its approach.
I have also met with the pharmacy associations, representatives of pharmacy from the manufacturers and generics. There are many people who want an opportunity to discuss what I think is a very important issue. I believe the approach we should take, the approach l have proceeded to take, is one of consultation and discussion on a matter of great interest to many people in this province.
Mr. B. Rae: The DQTC has told the minister that the consultation with the committee resulted in the resignation of Dr. Carruthers. Is the minister aware that Dr. Carruthers’s predecessor, Dr. Bill Mahon, from the Toronto General Hospital, was sufficiently upset with the minister’s response yesterday in saying that Dr. Carruthers was just one voice, to point out to me and to others that he was the previous chairman of the committee, that he has been equally dissatisfied with the lack of progress made, with the lack of response to reports, and that he specifically wrote a letter to Dr. Dyer in 1985, when Dr. Dyer was the deputy minister, saying he was extremely unhappy with the lack of progress that was being made and that the government lacked the political will to deal with this question?
It is costing us over $1 million a day in prescriptions. It is costing seniors $1 million a day in terms of what our health care costs are in overhospitalization as a result of overmedication. When is the minister going to face up to the fact that we have a serious drug problem, a serious drug habit in this province, that is being paid for by the government of Ontario and that the minister has to --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: Not only in the past four months, but prior to my arrival at the Ministry of Health, we funded a report so that we would have some of the data that was necessary to begin addressing that issue. In the past four months I have discussed this as well with my colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson). We share the concern that has been raised. The question is what approach to take.
The statement I made yesterday, which I will repeat today, is that we do not believe there are any simplistic solutions to this, nor is there any one group that has all of the answers. We believe we should consult widely and give everyone interested in this issue an opportunity to join with us, through consultation, to find solutions.
Some of the suggestions that have been recommended by the DQTC for approval have very broad-ranging policy considerations that I think should be discussed in the public forum. I will be moving, in the very near future, to discuss how every member in this House and persons interested, as we are, in the health care of not only senior citizens but everyone receiving benefits from this government under the Ontario drug benefit plan will have an opportunity to discuss this very important issue.
Mr. B. Rae: We now have two former chairmen of the committee involved saying they are not satisfied.
Mr. Speaker: Order. New question, and to which minister?
Mr. B. Rae: Just a short time ago -- in fact, it was just a few short weeks ago, on November 17 -- the Minister of Housing said in this House, “To the best of our experience in the past, the vast majority of tenants in Ontario will receive rent increases of 4.7 per cent or less in 1988.” Her predecessor said, again in this House, on May 13, “We estimate the average will be less than five per cent when all the cases have been heard.”
I am sure the minister is aware that the figures are now available for the first 2,000 units, both pre-1976 and post-1976 buildings, and that the figures have now come down with an average of 10 per cent. Is she still sticking to her statement in the House a few short weeks ago that the average rent increase was going to be 4.5 per cent, when in fact the increase has now been more than twice that?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: My statement in the House referred to the number of people in the province who are going to be getting increases at or near the guideline. Our figures still indicate that the vast majority of the tenants in this province will be paying rent increases at or near the guideline.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to go back to the minister. I want to say that when we look at the statements that were made by her predecessor, he said, “We estimate the average will be less than five per cent when all the cases have been heard.” That was the assurance we had from the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Curling) when he was Minister of Housing. That was the statement the government made before the election. That was the presentation the Liberal Party made to the people of this province when it sought its mandate in an election campaign, when the present minister stood for election.
Does the minister not feel a little guilty now that the results have come down from the first 2,000 units and those 2,000 tenants are not paying the 4.5 per cent the government promised them before the election? They are paying its post-election hangover, 10 per cent, which is precisely the Liberal solution to all the problems we have seen in this province.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The rent review legislation we currently have gives tenants broader protection than they have ever had before. The people living in units that were built after 1975 are now under the protection of the rent control legislation. We have a much more zealous administration than before, there is protection for people concerned with the standards of the buildings they are in and the vast majority of tenants living in this province will be paying rent increases at or near the guideline.
Mr. B. Rae: What the minister is saying to this House is not in keeping with the facts. What the minister should know is that of the applications that took place dealing with pre-1976 buildings, which were covered by the law even when the Tories were in power just as they were covered by the law when the Liberal Party took over, a number were in fact increased by more than five per cent by the commission.
Do members want to know why? Because of the economic-loss provisions which her party insisted be added to the law, which guarantee a landlord a return. It is the Thom commission by the back door. That is what she presented in her law, Bill 51, which the Premier (Mr. Peterson) said was such a wonderful compromise. That is why the tenants are being gouged and that is why they are being faced with 10 per cent increases, because of the law that she introduced; that is why it is there.
Does the minister not admit now that she has broken her promise to the people of the province when she said rent increases would be four and a half per cent?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The legislation that we currently have offers broader protection for tenants than has ever been possible in Ontario before. I am proud of that. I think it is very important for tenants to have protection on the issue of maintenance of their buildings. I think it is very important for tenants to have a rent registry so that they can check the rents they are supposed to pay.
We are doing very good work in this area, I am glad that we are able to protect tenants well, and as I said, the vast majority of tenants will be paying rents at or near the guideline. There will be other tenants whose landlords have asked for rent increases to recognize the reasonable cost of maintaining those buildings, and those tenants will be paying the rents that are based on an analysis of the costs involved.
Mr. Speaker: New question, the member for Nipissing.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: He looks like leadership material, doesn’t he?
Mr. Harris: Thank you very much.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Premier. I have read through the Hansard of yesterday and through all of the Hansards, as a matter of fact, on the issue dealing with Sunday shopping. Nowhere in any of the Hansards and nowhere in any of the media reports that I have read can I find where the Premier says what he supports, so I would ask the Premier simply, does he support Sunday shopping in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We support municipal option.
Mr. Harris: One of the things I did read was that the Premier said he was going to drag Ontario into the future. I am not sure if that was his actual quote or if that was an interpretation of his quote, but he seems to acknowledge that that is what he is doing. That is a little bit at variance with what he just said, and I would suggest to him that what he is really doing is dragging Ontario south of the border into American-style commercialism. He is not dragging Ontario into the future.
Mr. B. Rae: What about free trade?
Some hon. members: Free trade.
Mr. Breaugh: Yankee-bashing.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Don’t be so anti-American.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Harris: I thought the House would enjoy that analogy. That is what he is doing.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps the member would take his seat until we get things quieted down a bit.
Mr. Speaker: Order. All right, now would be the time to try to place the supplementary.
Mr. Harris: The issue here really is what the Premier thinks and what the Premier is doing. The Premier has said that he wants to respect local decisions of local politicians on this issue and he wants to respect what they have to say. So what do they have to say? ROMA, the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, voted overwhelmingly, according to the Toronto Star, to ask the provincial government to assume responsibility. That is what they say, and the Premier says he wants to respect their decision. The OMA said 70 to three -- that was their decision, representing local people, local politicians; that is their decision.
So I ask the Premier, will he accept their decision and accept the responsibility to put this on a provincial basis?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: To the best of my knowledge, the OMA has not taken a position on this particular matter, but I believe the member is right with respect to the AMO. I say to my honourable friend that we have discussed this before. He has drawn up a long list of people who he feels do not agree with the government approach to this matter. I can show him that a lot of people do support the approach of the government.
Mr. Sterling: Who?
Mr. Wiseman: Tell us who.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve). I understand he has publicly recanted today, but since you take advantage of --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I could have asked my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae) to bring an enlargement of that particular reproduction, and I will arrange to do so tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Were you up on a point of order?
Mr. Villeneuve: A point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Usually you are supposed to give a Speaker notice of a point of privilege. I do not --
Mr. Speaker: All right.
Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, the point is that the Premier is misrepresenting this House and --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I will ask the member to withdraw that.
Mr. Villeneuve: I will withdraw if the Premier will also withdraw his statement.
Mr. Speaker: Will you withdraw it?
Mr. Villeneuve: I withdraw.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: It is not my intention to be controversial in this particular matter or to be partisan in any way. I only know what I read. I am like the interim interim leader of the third party here today. But we have discussed this matter before, and I will repeat what I have said before. My honourable friend is aware that municipalities control the store hours now six days a week and, in fact, seven with the tourist exemption. This regularizes that and extends the democratic principle.
I know some would try to attach other values to that situation, and I understand it is an emotional debate, but it does not in any way imply a wide-open Sunday. It allows individual communities, like Point Edward in the community of the real interim leader, to make their own decision about their own commercial prospects. I do not really think, and I say as respectfully as I can to my honourable friend, that dramatically over-blowing this situation serves the real cause of what is being proposed in this situation.
Now that the real leader is back, he may want to come up and take the second supplementary on this matter.
Mr. Harris: It is a sad day when all the Premier can do is try to put words in others’ mouths. What we want to know is what he thinks and whether he will live up to any of the commitments he has made. He said he wanted to respect the local politicians. They told him what they wanted and now he will not listen to them.
In my final supplementary, I would like to get down in a serious way, if the Premier wants to treat the problem seriously as we do, and say that he has identified, throughout this whole shemozzle he has created, that the basic problem is one of the tourist designation. We acknowledge that the tourist designation worked for a number of years. In recent years, as municipalities tried to use that to get around and get at other objectives, it became unworkable. We acknowledge that.
Let me by way of final supplementary --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Do you have a question?
Mr. Harris: By way of final supplementary, let me offer the Premier this challenge. He has said that is the problem. Given that his 30-member --
Mr. Speaker: Order. You said you were challenging. Would you place your question?
Mr. Harris: I thought I was doing that, Mr. Speaker.
Given that the Premier’s 30-member cabinet cannot solve this problem -- he has said he cannot come up with a solution -- will he allow our 16-member caucus six months to work with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and others to come up with an acceptable definition of “tourist designation” in this province and solve the problem that he says he cannot solve?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We believe we have a thoughtful solution to the problem. I think my honourable friend has stood in his place today and acknowledged some of the problems of the past. Perhaps he has joined the list, along with his esteemed colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, in supporting the view that this government has taken. I think it allows for North Bay, for example, to make special provisions with respect to the tourist component of the economy there, or other communities as well. It in no way implies that everybody has to open.
I ask my honourable friend to look at what has happened in Alberta and British Columbia. Has he seen this importation of crass commercialism that he so fears, but he wants to import through the free trade agreement that he supports. Has he seen it there in Alberta or British Columbia? I do not think that is the case at all and I do not think that Premier Vander Zalm would allow that to dominate British Columbia today.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are many members who would like to ask questions. We will just wait until --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Eves: My question is to the Minister of Health. Is the minister in favour of publicly funding the operational and administrative costs of private, independent medical clinics in Ontario?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: The provisions of the Ontario Health Insurance Act declare what services are insured services in the province. If they are insured services, the Ontario health insurance plan pays.
Mr. Eves: I am quite aware of the fact that OHIP is supposed to try to build these costs in. The minister stated on Monday that she would be striving to ensure that the appropriate funding mechanisms be in place for clinics inside and outside of hospitals with respect to abortion services. Will she not admit that it is somewhat inequitable and unfair to consider two clinics or just these clinics and not others? What is the government’s position with respect to the funding of abortion clinics? Either it is going to do it or not going to do it. Is the government going to provide public funding or not? Which is it?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: We have numerous methods for funding health services in the province. One is through the public hospital system. The other is through community health centres and health-service-organization models. We consider all of these models appropriate for funding insured services in the province.
Mr. Eves: The minister still has not answered the question with respect to whether she is going to fund these independent clinics or whether she is not going to fund them. l think the people of Ontario are entitled to an answer, quite frankly, and a very straightforward one: Yes or no?
It may well be that the minister should be looking into increasing the fees, for example, for abortion procedures in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. Would the minister not agree that if she fails to do that, she is actually condoning extra billing in Ontario, something she and her colleagues are obviously against? In effect, is that not what the minister has been doing for the past two and a half to three years? Has she not been condoning extra billing with respect to these clinics and is she going to publicly fund these clinics? Yes or no?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I think it is very clear and I want to thank the member for the question, to give me an opportunity to clarify in the House that abortion services in Ontario are and have been an insured service. The only reason they have only been paid for in hospital in the past was because the federal legislation required an accredited hospital in order to be a legal service. Since the Supreme Court decision, we know that it is now perfectly legal for this procedure to be outside of hospital. Therefore, OHIP has an obligation to pay for the service. We have reviewed a number of proposals and are considering at this time appropriate funding mechanisms.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Education. It regards the commitment of the government last summer, during the heat of an election when it got so carried away, to reduce class size from 30-to-1 to 20-to-1 for grades 1 and 2 and its subsequent decision to put in only about a fifth of the money and, this year, to be producing perhaps 1,100 teacher jobs, or less than one teacher for every three elementary schools in Ontario.
Can the minister tell us when he is going to make his announcement about how this is being done, and upon which basis this decision of implementation is going to be taken when, as I understand it, there will be no assistance given for the extra space needs that some school boards may have to be able to accommodate extra teachers in the elementary panels? I am thinking specifically of the expanding school boards which --
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: If I might, I am speaking particularly in my question about the expanding school boards which are already living through portables, which have had elementary-panel schools expanding by over 200 students this fall alone. What is the minister going to do to implement this plan and when?
Hon. Mr. Ward: As the member has indicated, last November we announced that funds would flow to school boards throughout this province beginning during the current general legislative grant process and in a way that would enable boards to hire additional teachers to be in place in the coming September. I expect the details of that program to be announced within a matter of weeks. Over the course of the past several months, we have had ongoing discussions with representatives of the teachers’ federations and with representatives of the trustee organizations as we develop what we think is a very effective and responsible implementation plan. That announcement will be made over the course of the next two or three weeks.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The minister knows, because he told us last November, that in point of fact the announcement should be made some time in February because school boards start doing their hiring for next year now. The minister will be aware that school boards in Waterloo, East York, York, Dufferin-Peel, York region, Toronto Durham and others have all been advertising for permanent teachers for this fall in the newspapers already. Yet in discussions with all of those boards, we have learned that none of them has heard from the minister at all about how this is going to work, what they can expect for their boards or whether or not they are even going to be able to use it, because they are not sure whether or not they are going to have the space to be able to provide the teachers for the classes that are now supposedly going to be so mammothly reduced.
Hon. Mr. Ward: In response, I can only say that trustees in boards of education, through the Ontario School Trustees’ Council, are well aware of the considerations that we have been undertaking over the course of the past few months. At the same time, I made it quite clear in discussions with the boards as early as last November that it would be our intention to proceed with the necessary regulation and implementation plan in time for their hiring for the coming year. The indication then was that, provided the information was available by March 1, there should be no undue interference in their hiring process. That plan has been developed in consultation with both teachers and trustees and will be forthcoming in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Yesterday we received supplementary estimates for her ministry which show that there will be an additional $3.3 million for rent review services. This will raise the total cost of rent review services to a little over $29 million, approximately 100 per cent more than it was last year. No other program in her ministry has increased as much.
Will the minister tell this House how she can justify pouring more and more money into rent review services that have become a bureaucratic nightmare for both tenants and landlords in Ontario?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The rent review system is one of the very important ways in which we protect the situation of tenants so that they will be paying rents that are reasonable and not be asked to pay unreasonable rent increases. It is because of our commitment to those protections that we have given more resources to the rent review branch to make sure that the work is done as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. Cousens: I think the same speechwriter who prepared the minister’s answers, not only to this question but to the ones by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae), must have written this illustrious piece in her annual report:
“The new rent review division has moved forward at full speed in the planned and orderly fashion mandated by the new legislation.”
My quote, if it were in there, would be that the rent review division is going nowhere -- this leads to my supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Good.
Mr Cousens: Rent review has gone nowhere. This government has done nothing to solve the problems of renters and landlords. The minister is not going ahead at full speed because her systems are not working. There is nothing orderly about the way this government is handling rent control.
Will she finally admit to this House that the rent review program is a disaster, and at the very least will she allow a committee of the Legislature to study the Thom commission --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Question.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I will refrain from commenting on the speechwriter of the member for Markham (Mr. Cousens).
An hon. member: Comment. Comment.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: Should I comment on that? No, I will not do that.
I should say that I recognize with sorrow the difficulties that tenants and landlords have been placed in because our rent review system has not been working as quickly as I would like. I am not happy about that, and I do not think anybody else in this House is happy about that. However, we are working very hard to give tenants the protections that we promised them in that legislation and we will continue to do that.
Let me say, however, that even when our rent review system is working as well as I expect it to be eventually, we will not have solved all the problems of the people in this province with respect to housing issues. We have lots of other issues to address having to do with the cost of housing for people who want to buy housing and with those people now living in rental accommodation who still find it very expensive. Those are issues we will continue to work on, even alongside the work we do on rent review.
FEDERAL TAX REFORM PROPOSALS
Mr. Faubert: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications concerning the federal government’s proposed tax reform legislation and its adverse effect on Canadian artists. More specifically, with the removal of income-averaging provisions and the new expense restrictions in this federal tax reform bill, the arts community in Ontario has expressed concern that a number of Ontario artists may find their careers financially jeopardized.
Can the minister advise the Legislature of any action her ministry has taken or will take to encourage the federal government to listen to the needs of Canadian artists and to amend its proposed tax reform legislation?
Hon. Ms. Oddie Munro: Going back to 1985, this government submitted to the federal government what we considered to be a creative tax reform proposal. It was submitted not only to the Minister of Finance but also to the Minister of Communications. After that, we debated the merits of the Status of the Artists report, the Bovey report and also the Financing of the Individual Artists report.
In the case of this particular tax reform legislation, a number of concerned client groups have asked for our advice. We have consulted and, in effect, we have told them to take advantage of our resource material and get back to the federal government. We have also, through our ministry, submitted to the Ontario Treasurer a tax reform proposal, particularly on such aspects as capital cost allowance on film.
I will be bringing back to our ministers’ discussion, when it is held again, the whole plight of the individual artist right across the province. I will not necessarily be looking forward to, but I will be examining the Wilson budget which comes down today.
Mr. Faubert: I would like to thank the minister for that response. In observation, I was also pleased that the Ontario government is maintaining its commitment to the arts by providing approximately 3,400 grants worth $24 million to the arts community, funds committed in the last fiscal year through the Ontario Arts Council. In light of the federal government’s apparent lack of concern about and support for Canadian artists, as indicated through the proposed federal tax reform legislation, can the minister assure this House that the Ontario government will continue its high level of support to Ontario’s artists through the Ontario Arts Council?
Hon. Ms. Oddie Munro: I have no problem with that question because we will continue to support the individual artist. We do it in a number of ways, in some instances through the Ontario Arts Council. We gave them $25.8 million in 1986-87 and $27 million in just this closing fiscal year.
What we intend to do also is to let more people know the economic impact of individual artists. We have approximately 250,000 artists, who bring into this economy, to their own revenues, $4.5 million. The impact on the general economy reaches in excess of $7 million. We also continue through our ministry to go out and market the works of Canadian artists and we encourage our agencies and the business sector to display works of Canadian art in their own public spaces. Last year we went on a tour through the north, which we called a Sounding, to see if we could provide other assistance.
Mr. Hampton: My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, the minister responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The minister will remember that in 1986 the Human Rights Code was amended by Bill 7 in order to ban discrimination against families with children for the purposes of accommodation.
From this side of the House, we protested that the language presented in Bill 7 was not strong enough and would not ban discrimination, that discrimination could go on. The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) said at the time: “No problem. The language is good enough. The language will prohibit discrimination.” But two weeks ago, lo and behold, from the district court came a decision that the language is not good enough, that a condominium corporation can enforce its bylaws even in spite of the Human Rights Code in terms of the sale of a condominium to a woman with child.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Hampton: In view of the fact that the language would now appear not to be adequate, what is the government going to do to tighten up the language to ensure that it is prohibited to discriminate against families with children in terms of accommodation?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the situation for the members in the House. The human rights commission informed me on Monday that it will be requesting a board of inquiry. That will be coming before me, I think today, and I will be requesting a board of inquiry into this matter.
I think it is fair to say that it is clear that when we wrote the amendments, it was our anticipation that adult-only condominiums would be banned. So we will be appointing that board of inquiry, which will be looking into it very shortly. I anticipate that within the next 30 days it will meet, and we should have a clarification of that in the very near future.
Mr. Hampton: It is good and fine to say there is going to be a board of inquiry, but as we all know the board of inquiry may not get under way for some time. Boards of inquiry are notorious for taking a great deal of time to deal with the issue. Then the decision of the board of inquiry might be appealed, which would very likely be the case were the condominium corporation to face an adverse decision. It could take a great deal of time for this decision to be decided via the human rights commission and the courts.
We have a private member’s bill that would make it very clear that discrimination against families with children in terms of accommodation would be prohibited. Would the minister not agree that it would be better to proceed by that route and deal with the situation immediately rather than let it drag on through the human rights commission and the courts for a long period of time?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Actually, I do not agree. The fastest way to proceed is the way we are proceeding. As I said earlier, we will appoint a board of inquiry this week. It will meet within a month. When the committee examined this a year ago, it determined this was the best way to deal with it. We will have clarification of it. I think it is the fastest, most expeditious way of doing it and that it will clarify it quickly for us.
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE REVIEW BOARD
Mr. Runciman: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister will recall that a few months ago I asked him about his government’s stuffing of the Social Assistance Review Board with friends of the Liberal Party. The former government staffed, versus stuffed, this board with part-time appointees and the minister has chosen to make it a full-time patronage plum.
We have been advised that as a result of the minister’s actions the budget for the board has more than doubled. Will the minister confirm this and try to explain the rationale behind it?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The honourable member will be aware of the fact that the previous board consisted entirely of part-time people. They were assigned on a part-time basis but for all practical purposes worked on a full-time basis. They were out in the field four days a week and on the fifth day were in the office writing up reports, having meetings, etc. This created a considerable amount of difficulty in terms of the effective and efficient administration of that board.
When this government decided it wanted to restructure and reorganize it, we did so along a dual model.
First of all, there would be from 10 to 12 full-time people on the board, who would act as the permanent vice-chairman of the entire organization and the chairmen of all the three-member committees that would sit around the province. The second component would be a number of part-time people registered in various sections of the province so that they would not have to travel great distances and therefore generate unnecessary costs. This process is under way right now; therefore, that model is costing more than the previous one.
The second major thing we have done is to recognize that there were totally inadequate legal staff, totally inadequate administrative support staff and totally inadequate office facilities to do a decent job.
I would remind the honourable member that this board, which is independent even though it reports to this Legislature through me --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mr. Runciman: The irony is that the minister says we had part-time employees who were working full-time. Now they are paying full-time appointees at least twice as much as the part-time appointees who were supposedly working --
Mr. Speaker: Supplementary.
Mr. Runciman: The truth is that this fat-cat government has packed the board with cronies. They are shuffling them up to the trough and feeding them whatever they want.
Mr. Speaker: Supplementary.
Mr. Runciman: Will the minister confirm that just a few months after hiring these people, he authorized a 10 per cent increase in their salaries, bringing their lick at the trough up to $61,000 a year? How does he justify this continued gouging of the taxpayer?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: We indicated very clearly that we were going to hire a number of full-time people on an annual salary rather than on a per diem. We went out and hired efficient, effective, competent people who could do the job. That was not the case before. We are prepared to pay fair and equitable salaries in order for that to happen. We have thousands of citizens of this province who have the right to appeal to this board and have the right to be heard by people who are well versed and well trained.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I remind all members that there is a standing order which says the member recognized will speak and all other members will not speak.
WINTER ICE CONDITIONS
Mr. Owen: I have a question for the Solicitor General. Every winter Lake Simcoe and other inland lakes in this province freeze over. Every winter we have problems with pressure cracks, thin ice and open water areas. Every winter residents of this province persist in driving heavy vehicles such as cars, trucks and jeeps out on to the ice surfaces and every winter we have loss of life with these heavy vehicles trapping the people, going through the ice and drowning them. This winter has been no exception. Again, we have had loss of life. The situation always seems to be worsened when we have periods of mild weather, and that too has happened this year.
Will the minister try to have an inquiry or an investigation made by the Ontario Provincial Police to look into possibly banning heavy vehicles from these ice surfaces in order to prevent further loss of life taking place?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I would indeed be interested in looking into this and having the police advise me about this as far as cars are concerned. I was recently in Kingston. Kingston has made a law that cars cannot go on the water adjacent to the city of Kingston, which they had been doing up until that time. It may be that where it is strictly provincial territory, provincial legislation may be necessary.
As far as snowmobiles are concerned, I believe we have the same problem there that we have with dirt bikes and this sort of thing, that they are not in the properly licensed territory. This would be a problem I would have to take up with the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) to see if we can some way draw them into the category of cars so that the same rules apply. I will be glad to look into that.
Mr. Owen: By way of supplementary, snowmobiles are not quite in the same category of heavy vehicles because people are not entrapped. Granted snowmobiles are going through the ice as well, but there is a greater opportunity for people to escape drowning. Will the minister look into the possibility with snowmobiles? At the present time we rely upon the media through newspapers, radio and television stations to let people know where there are dangers.
Is there some possibility or some way in which the OPP could get the information out about the dangers on the ice for snowmobilers to some of their agencies so that it is printed and made available? People could maybe phone somewhere. Just as they can get traffic information or weather information, they could get information about the lakes and snowmobile operations.
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I would be glad to inquire into this, but I point out the difficulty of determining in so many different areas because the depth of the water has so much effect on the degree of freezing and so on. It might be quite difficult for people to do this, because by taking on this responsibility of giving good notice they would also take on the responsibility when they failed to tell people the water was not safe. It seems to me it is quite possibly a difficult matter to do.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES PROGRAMS
Mr. Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services, going back to the issue of community economic development programs which were part of the new employment opportunities put in place under the federal-provincial agreement for employability programs for people on social assistance.
Community organizations are very angry about the minister’s preselected basis for working this program. Why Hamilton or why not Windsor, for example, an equally well-organized community? They also are very upset that the government has put on a fast track the development of community economic development programs which are inherently slow-track in terms of development. Third, the co-operative sector is very annoyed that since co-operative small businesses are part of the priority emphasis of this program, it -- for example, Credit Union Central and Co-Operative Work -- was not consulted in terms of developing the programs.
lf the minister looks at a study of this kind of development in Quebec, he will find it is very difficult to field and it failed for want of preparation.
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Allen: What is the minister doing in Ontario to make sure that what is obviously a very attractive idea does not fail but succeeds, working for people who are on social assistance and for the community at large?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: When the various ministers across Canada met with our federal counterpart, it was made fairly clear to us that we would try some innovative, imaginative approaches to compensate for the fact that many of the programs that were currently in place were just not producing the results we wanted. In order to move very quickly, given the very short time span we have to work with -- this is a two-year program, and at the end of that time the federal government can choose not to continue to participate in it -- other jurisdictions simply applied the dollars to programs that were already in place and solved their difficulties that way.
In turn, we in Ontario wanted to look around for some more creative and innovative ways to do things. The honourable member has referred to one of those. At the same time, we did not have a lot of time. We simply could not sit back and wait for proposals to come in to us. We had to go out into the field and find some opportunity we thought would work over the short period of time so we could demonstrate what the possibilities were.
I believe I indicated to the honourable member yesterday that at the end of the two-year period we will be able to go back to our federal colleagues and say “Here are the things that we have tried. Here is the evidence of success or lack of it. Here are the kinds of other things we would like to try, things we would like to continue, things we would like” --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Allen: If the minister wants to go back to the federal minister and point to his successes, he has to do things properly. He has to give places like Hamilton time to develop those programs. They got word in mid-December. Nothing could get started before the Christmas holidays. They had 20 days in the course of January to develop programs that could be $1 million in scale and they had to meet a complex set of requirements from the ministry. The minister simply cannot put community economic developments in place that fast. It just will not work.
Mr. Speaker: The question.
Mr. Allen: The example the minister got from Hamilton is a very makeshift, part-time project, as its author will readily acknowledge. In the light of the fact that Benoît Bouchard has just announced the doubling of the financing of this program yesterday, obviously is enthusiastic about it and will be extending the period --
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Allen: --will the minister please give the communities of Ontario time to develop these programs so that they may succeed and then he will have an argument with Mr. Bouchard a year and a half down the road that he would not otherwise have?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The honourable member is aware that this program triggered in on April 1 of the past year. In a number of municipalities, we gave the kind of wide-open timing that he talked about. Quite frankly, after several months we did not see any evidence of movement. The staff of my ministry had to go into those municipalities and, quite frankly, work with them on a closer basis than had been the case before to get something started, because it was such a short time line. We want success, just as the honourable member does. We are quite prepared to work with these various organizations, but we have to get the thing started.
I am delighted with the comment the member just made and the fact that the federal government is obviously beginning to see some results from some of the things we have already done. But that is precisely what was necessary. We had to get some things up and rolling. We had to get them started. We had to show evidence that it could be done. And keep in mind that we are talking about people who are on our social assistance rolls, who in many cases do not have a wide range of skills, who need some training, who need some support. That is all part of this program.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Just for a change of pace, I have a very short question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Since I assume the minister supports the intention of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to drag opponents of Sunday shopping into the future, is it the intention of the minister to instruct the beer and liquor stores to be open on Sunday in those municipalities which opt for Sunday opening?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Decisions as to such openings are normally made by the Brewers’ Retail or by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I am sure in this case they would make that decision.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member is waiting to ask a supplementary.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Before moving in this ill-conceived direction towards wide-open Sunday shopping, did his government not give any serious consideration to this event happening, that the liquor stores and beer stores may be requested to stay open to fulfil the Premier’s dream for a new society?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I really think that if my friend has some concerns, he might want to express those concerns to the chairman of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I think he knows that individual, an outstanding gentleman his previous government appointed, the former chief of police for Metropolitan Toronto, Jack Ackroyd. Indeed, the member may want to get in touch with the Brewers’ Retail and with the breweries which are responsible for that organization and express his point of view to them.
VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER OF YUGOSLAVIA
Mr. Sola: My question is to the Premier. The Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, Branco Mikulic, has arrived in Canada and will be attending a state dinner in Toronto. Yugoslavia is a state with a well-documented history of human rights abuses. It subjects its citizens to arbitrary imprisonment, torture and brutal acts of oppression.
It is also known that Yugoslavia not only sponsors international terrorists but has also been a safe haven for the likes of Carlos the Jackal, Abu Abbas and the German Red Terrorist group, the Baader Meinhof gang.
The Croatian community of Ontario would like to know why we are cordially receiving the Prime Minister of a state which supports and perpetuates a regime that not only represses its own peoples, in contravention of the Helsinki accord, but also is known to support the international activities of other terrorist states.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I appreciate the question of the honourable member. He is quite right, the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia is visiting. As I understand it, the Lieutenant Governor is hosting a dinner for him. I also understand that, as the last host of the Winter Olympic Games in Yugoslavia, he will have some official duties in Calgary as well. I have been told that he is meeting with the Prime Minister, the leader of the federal Liberal Party and the leader of the federal New Democratic Party as well.
I appreciate the point that the honourable member is making with respect to the allegation of human rights violations in Yugoslavia. At this point, our country has normalized diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. That does not for a moment imply that we, or I assume even the federal government, support all the things they do in that particular regime, and that would apply, of course, to many other countries as well. This province has joined the federal government in registering certain protests with the government of Yugoslavia with respect to allegations of human rights violations.
I just say to my friend, I understand his concern. I do not think respecting, shall I say the diplomatic niceties, in any way condones any particular behaviour of any other foreign government.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Culture and Communications. The minister is well aware of the financial problems the Windsor Symphony is having and she will also be aware that it is five days from the day it will go bankrupt because of lack of money. She has met with the city. She has met with representatives from the symphony. Is she ready today to announce that she will come through with the $300,000 that has been requested as part of the rescue package?
Hon. Ms. Oddie Munro: The member was present at the meeting where we received the representation from the symphony with great sympathy. Present at that meeting also were members of the Ontario Arts Council and members of our ministry. My recollection is that we agreed to a contingency package to help the symphony out of its deficit situation at the moment, which is not to be regarded as a bail-out.
They, in turn, were to go back and visit their federal friends to see if funding was available there. I understand their fund-raising is proceeding well above expectations, and we are at this moment still consulting on what kind of support we can provide to that orchestra.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I am not quite sure what the minister’s answer is, whether the province is committed to the $300,000 or not. It is five days until they go into bankruptcy.
The minister will also be aware of the inadequacy of the provincial funding through the Ontario Arts Council and the fact that our Ontario Arts Council said very clearly the problem is that the minister has not properly funded the arts council in Ontario.
The fact is that Windsor gets less funding for its symphony than communities like Hamilton, Kingston, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Thunder Bay and Toronto. Is the minister prepared on a long-term basis to fund the Windsor Symphony on a regional basis so that we can get the symphony operating properly and not go from crisis to crisis?
Hon. Ms. Oddie Munro: I appreciate the commitment of the member to the symphony orchestra in Windsor and, indeed, we are committed to assisting that orchestra to maintain itself as a regional group.
We have a number of problems, as the member is aware, including the lack of administrative and management skills of the then director of the orchestra. All I can say to the honourable member is that this raises questions for orchestras right across the province and we have to handle our dollars in as accountable a way fiscally as possible. We are still negotiating with Windsor on the amount of support and the kind of support Ontario can provide.
Mr. Wiseman: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. There have been many rumours in the community of Almonte over the last few months that the registry office there will be moving to the township of Ramsay. I was pleased today to receive a copy of a letter sent to the mayor saying that the registry office would remain in Almonte, as stated by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye), but that the location would be worked out by himself and the Minister of Government Services.
In view of the fact that the former Minister of Government Services, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), now the government House leader, had studied the locations for almost two years, is the minister ready today to tell us and the people of Almonte when the registry office will be built and if it will be built on the land that was set aside by the community for that purpose?
Hon. Mr. Patten: I thank the honourable member for his question. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer for him this afternoon. I will look into that and report back to him within a matter of days.
Mr. Wiseman: At the bottom of the letter, it mentioned that studies would have to go on within the community. In view of the fact that the former Minister of Government Services spent almost two years studying this and was at the point of making a decision, does the minister not figure it has been studied long enough, and would he make that decision soon?
Hon. Mr. Patten: I would hope to gather the accumulated wisdom as a result of these studies so that we can expedite a decision.
COMMUTER PARKING LOT
Mr. Adams: I have two petitions. The first is from 55 people and it concerns a parking lot in Whiterocks Estates, Cavan township. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the Ministry of Transportation proposes to construct a 24-hour-per-day parking lot, with its inherent noise, congestion and litter, in our subdivision known as Whiterocks Estates; and
“Whereas there are several more suitable locations nearer Highway 115; and
“Whereas the proposed parking lot will have detrimental effects on us and future home owners, as well as Highway 115 commuters using the proposed parking facility;
“Therefore we support the plans to expand and improve Highway 115 and request that consideration be given to relocating the commuter parking facility to a more suitable location a reasonable distance away from the residential areas of our community.”
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Adams: I have a second petition. This one concerns Sunday closing. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We are against Sunday opening of retail stores.”
MINERAL CONCENTRATE TRANSFER FACILITY
Mr. Pouliot: I have a petition signed by some 200 people in the northwest community of Schreiber. They are simply asking that a mineral concentrate transfer facility be relocated because it does cause a health and environmental hazard.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There are a number of members trying to present petitions. It is very difficult to hear. If you have any private conversations, would you keep them down, please.
Mr. Sola: I have a petition here stating:
“We, the undersigned residents of Mississauga, voters and taxpayers, being extremely concerned about the potential damaging impact of the proposed extension to Highway 403, do hereby respectfully petition our elected officials as follows:
“We request formal public review of the terms under which this proposed artery was first introduced under the auspices of Bud Gregory and how those terms have radically changed to the presently intended construction. We represent a fraction of the approximately 6,000 to 10,000 residents of the Rockwood area, and all of us again are but a fraction of those involved from Highway 10 through to about Renforth Drive. However, we wish to be expedient. More concerned residents can easily be added to this list when desired.”
It is signed by 101 members.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Swart: I have a petition here from 32 members of the First Baptist Church in Thorold in which they state:
“Yes, I support maintaining Sundays and holidays as days of rest, oppose any relaxation of the Retail Business Holidays Act, and add that this congregation also believes the Ontario government has neglected to give us good government by casting the responsibility to control Sunday shopping on local municipalities. This too will create great confusion and disharmony.
“We appeal to the government to give us leadership and stop leaving important decisions to the loudest or greatest financially backed pressure group.”
Ms. Poole: I would like to present a petition to the Legislature today which is signed by 50 people. It calls on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Runciman: I have two petitions to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. One bears several hundred signatures. It reads:
“We do not need nor want Sunday shopping. Put yourself in the position of the province’s retail employees who will have to spend Sundays at work instead of with their families. Show us you care.”
Mr. Runciman: I would estimate the second petition has about 100 signatures.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We deplore the provincial government’s decision to pay for the unrestricted slaughter of unborn Ontario children under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.”
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Wildman moved first reading of Bill 96, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: A brief explanation?
Mr. Wildman: This bill prohibits the use of spare tires that are not of the same type or size as the other tires on the vehicle. It removes the exemption now allowed for so-called doughnut temporary spare tires, which are not anything but a nuisance.
HUMAN RIGHTS CODE AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Reville moved first reading of Bill 97, An Act to amend the Human Rights Code, 1981.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a brief explanation?
Mr. Reville: The purpose of the bill is that to which my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. Hampton) alluded earlier in today’s question period, the fact that the Human Rights Code provision protecting families, parents with children, from discrimination in rental accommodation, residential accommodation, was not in fact seen to be sufficiently strong by the courts. In fact, we have done the government’s job for it. We have written some strong language which it would do well to immediately adopt.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 98, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to four highlights of the proposed legislation. In particular, I would point first to an amendment which would allow the establishment of a passenger terminal program for municipalities in Ontario with populations under 20,000. Under this program, financial assistance will provide for improvement and upgrading of rail and intercity bus terminals, benefiting the travelling public and boosting tourism potential.
The other amendments previously introduced permit the eligibility of funding for development roads in southern Ontario. Until now, this type of funding was provided only to towns and villages in northern Ontario.
A further amendment will give counties the legislative authority to regulate the construction and alteration of entrances providing access to county roads. I would like to mention the efforts made on our behalf by the member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft) in this regard.
Another amendment will permit county councils to determine the composition and qualifications of their road committees, and it will further clarify the authority of these committees and allow for an increase in their size up to a maximum of 10 members.
The legislation contains several other amendments, and I am sure these will be detailed as this legislation proceeds through this Legislature.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 99, An Act to amend the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: This act reflects the recent reorganization of the ministry as the Ministry of Transportation. This legislative change is necessary to provide continuing authority and administration powers and duties which previously had been assigned to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
At the same time, I would like to take the opportunity to include a provision which would provide immunity from actions for damages to any ministry official acting in good faith and within the scope of his or her authority. This provision is already part of the statutes of a number of other ministries.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
ONTARIO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE BOARD ACT
Consideration of Bill 2, An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and to provide for the Review of Automobile Insurance Rates.
The Deputy Chairman: I believe when we completed yesterday we were considering an amendment to section 3, known as subsection 3(1a). I believe the debate was adjourned. Is there any other speaker who wishes to speak to that particular amendment?
Mr. Swart: We are still on it.
Mr. Hampton: There are just a couple of further comments that I want to make in support of the amendment, basically just to summarize what I said yesterday. We are strongly of the view that the language that is in the section now is not sufficient to ensure that the interests of consumers are going to be adequately represented on this board.
Hon. Mr. Conway: On a point of order, Madam Chairman: I beg the indulgence of the House and of the member for Rainy River (Mr. Hampton), but I would just like to seek consent to allow staff to join the parliamentary assistant on the floor of the chamber, if that is all right.
The Deputy Chairman: Pursuant to the standing orders, the staff may take a seat in front of the parliamentary assistant.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: Just when you were getting wound up.
Mr. Hampton: Just when I was getting wound up, yes.
To repeat, we are strongly of the view that the language that is in the bill at this time setting out that consumers, the public and insurers shall all be represented on the board is not language which is strong enough to ensure that consumers will have the representation that is due them. We prefer language which indicates that at least 50 per cent of the members of the board shall be representative of consumers. That is our reason for putting the amendment, and we are strongly of the view that the adoption of that amendment will protect the consumer interest on this board whereas the language that is there now will not. Those are my comments on that amendment.
Mr. Swart: Very briefly. My colleagues the member for Cambridge (Mr. Farnan) and the member for Rainy River covered this matter quite thoroughly.
However, I just want to add one comment, and it is this. The parliamentary assistant will know that when this bill was originally submitted -- in fact, when it went to the committee -- the job that the rate review board had to do was solely that of determining rates. He has now expanded that, as he knows, so that after the classifications are first set the rate review board will also have the responsibility of determining classifications. That is terribly important, almost as important as determining rates.
I suggest, therefore, that the composition of that board becomes even more important, that there is a very real necessity that there be at least as many people there representing the motorists, the various consumers. There are many of them, from the trucking association to the motor coach association to the general motorists to the taxis, and we now more than ever need at least 50 per cent representation for consumers.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: Just in final response, the member for Cambridge made much commentary to the effect that this board is effectively a very narrow window of -- I hesitate to say it -- opportunity for the government to look in on the insurance industry, which I suggest, if I may, is a completely inaccurate characterization of the job of the board.
The job of the board is to have public, open hearings, and my friends opposite will have every right to sit in those hearings, appear at those hearings, make arguments. Indeed, the whole idea behind the board is that it is a public, open hearing process and that any person or corporation or unincorporated association, even including a labour union, would be entitled to appear, make submissions, make arguments.
I suggest that the job of the board being as it is, to hear evidence governed by the rules of natural justice and to treat all parties fairly, it imposes on the members of the board a very serious obligation. I suggest that the definition or the description of the members who shall sit on the board as prescribed by the government’s section 3 is far broader and far more encompassing than the narrow, restrictive and artificial definition put forward by the opposition.
I have elaborated on the problems that would result from the opposition’s proposal. Most particularly, it does concern me that there are a number of people whom the government may want to contemplate appointing but whose appointment would become subject to the type of debate where we nitpick through their career, through their background to determine whether they truly represent consumers or whether they truly have the approval of some consumer association unnamed in the legislation.
For that reason, I suggest that the proposal of the government should be accepted. The proposal of the opposition is inaccurate, incomplete, artificial and unworkable.
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Farnan has moved that subsection 2 of section 3 of the bill be amended to read:
“(1a) At least one half of the members of the board shall be members of consumer associations or persons representative of the interests of consumers.”
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Swart: Stack it.
The Deputy Chairman: It is my understanding that the standing orders indicate that unless there are five members standing, it must be declared lost. In my opinion, then, I declare the motion lost.
Mr Swart: We have five.
The Deputy Chairman: Order. There are five members standing in their place. May I have an agreement that the amendments be stacked to the end of this sitting?
The Deputy Chairman: Are there any further amendments to section 3? If not, are there any other amendments to be made to the bill?
Mr Swart: Madam Chairman, you will have additional amendments before you, to section 11. You have two amendments before you. I would like to move them as one amendment, with your permission, because they deal with the same section and because it will be tidier and more expeditious.
The Deputy Chairman: Before I put the question with respect to your amendments, may I have an indication that sections 4 to 10 will carry as part of the bill?
Sections 4 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Swart: I apologize that they are on two separate sheets but I think it is more expeditious to deal with them in this manner.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr Swart moves that the following subsections be added to section 11 of the bill:
“(4a) The board shall give notice of its hearings to every person listed in the registry established by subsection 14a(1).
“(4b) Where the hearing is other than an industry-wide hearing, the board may use its discretion as to the notification of those persons listed in the registry.”
Before you speak to that, I bring to your attention that the first amendment you have moved indicates it is to deal with subsection 14a(1), which is not a section of the bill but is a proposed amendment to be made, a proposed subsequent amendment. There are two ways we can deal with this. The committee may postpone the consideration of this particular amendment that refers to subsection 14a(1) until that proposed amendment has been added to the bill or has been dealt with, or the committee may agree to consider the amendment for subsection 11(4a) together with the amendment proposing section 14a.
Mr Swart: I leave it in your hands. It does not matter to me. I thought perhaps you might permit me to refer to section 14a, which, of course, is really part of it, in dealing with this amendment to section 11.
The Deputy Chairman: I cannot let you refer to it unless you are going to move your amendment to section 14a, because it is just a proposed amendment. It is not an amendment that is before the committee.
Mr Swart: Would you permit me to move section 14a at this time, to move all three together?
The Deputy Chairman: Does the committee consent to these three amendments being moved together?
The Deputy Chairman: Mr Swart moves that the following section be added to the bill:
“14a(1) The board shall establish a registry of persons to whom notice of its hearings shall be given under subsection 11(4a).
“(2) Any person who makes a request to the board shall be included in the registry mentioned in subsection (1).”
Mr Swart: I wish to speak to this. This, of course, is an amendment -- in fact, two amendments -- that were submitted in the committee and were voted down by a majority of the committee.
I am going to ask the parliamentary assistant -- and I hope he has the power to do this -- to consider that this is a friendly amendment and ask him to agree to this amendment. I suggest this amendment is so reasonable that it should not be opposed by the government.
What this deals with, I think, is apparent to every member of the House. It is with regard to notifications of industry-wide hearings. The bill provides that the board shall give appropriate -- I think that is the word -- notification of any industry-wide hearing. I would suggest that that would usually mean notification in the newspapers. That is the normal way of doing it. In addition to that, the bill says that every insurer shall be notified.
What we propose here is just simply that there should be a registry set up where anybody who wants to be notified of these hearings should in fact be able to have his or her name, association or business recorded so he or she will know if a hearing is taking place.
It seems reasonable that this should be done for a number of reasons. First, of course, people often do not see that sort of notification in the paper. There are a lot of notifications in the paper, and if they are not particularly looking for something, they may not see it. Second, there are parts of this province that are so far removed from the Toronto area that they may not receive notification even in the paper. They are distant from even a daily paper and may not see these notifications.
I can think of our hearings in Sudbury, and I want to remind the parliamentary assistant of this, when the truckers there -- and I have forgotten the name of that truckers’ organization, the dump truck organization -- said: “Why did we not hear about these hearings? We would never have known about it if Mel Swart’s office had not called to let us know that these hearings were taking place.”
Those sometimes unsophisticated organizations that do not represent a great many people but in fact are organizations that have a real concern about a rate change or, I suggest to the parliamentary assistant -- and I hope he is listening to me -- a classification change, should really be able to say, “I would like to know about every industry-wide hearing, whether it is with regard to a rate change, an application for a rate increase or whatever the case may be.”
If I remember correctly, the parliamentary assistant said in committee that you would get an awful lot of people who would want to register. I suggest that is not the case. I suggest you would only get those people who are really interested. You may get one, two, three or four people who always like to go to hearings and make a fuss, but I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that the exclusion of those is much overbalanced by the exclusion of people who have a very vested interest in those hearings and should have a legitimate right to be at those hearings.
I ask that the government give very serious and favourable consideration to this. I suggest that if this sort of thing is turned down, it will put a bias in this bill. They are going to notify every insurer, which is 160 or 175, and yet other people in society, the consumers of this, those who are going to have to pay those rates, are not necessarily going to know about it. They may want to know about those hearings but not necessarily want to go to them. I leave that with the parliamentary assistant. I hope he will rise in his place, say it is a reasonable amendment and accept it.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: I wonder if a member of the third party would like to speak to it.
The Deputy Chairman: Does any other member wish to speak to the amendment?
Mr. Runciman: We do not support it.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: It is, like many things my friend has proposed, noble in conception but it is not something that is appropriate in execution. The execution, the costs and the disadvantages, to my point of view far outweigh the advantages.
Let me put it to the member that you have the possibility, under the present act and proposals, of achieving a better result than what he is suggesting here. The present act, if I can refer him to it, provides under section 12, first, that the board shall make rules governing its conduct and management and, second, “determine, with respect to any particular hearing, what constitutes adequate public notice.” Third, subsection 11(2) of the act reads, “The board shall give adequate public notice of its hearings to the public.”
We have set up a statutory standard for notice. The member may know that the decisions of the courts of this province have been quite strict in their interpretation of what that means. When I use the adjective “strict,” I am suggesting the courts will bend over backwards to ensure that all interested parties will have notice of a hearing which may affect their position in relation to whatever matter that particular board governs.
The member has referred to -- I believe it was a decision of the joint board or the Ontario Energy Board -- the southwestern transmission hearings. He knows very well, I believe, that it was a decision of the court which overrode a decision of the board and suggested to the board that it must go back and give adequate public notice to all interested parties and convene the hearing from the very start.
What I am concerned about is that the member’s proposal suggests we establish a registry and that the registry could be relied upon by the board in its defence if a complainant alleges he or she did not have adequate public notice. The board could stand up and say, “The statute says we give notice to those people who are listed in the registry.” That may very well be their defence.
I am suggesting the idea is noble in conception, but what it results in is a result the member does not want and we do not want. Aside from the extra administrative burden associated with this registry, I need only remind the member that stamps are 37 cents. If there are one million people out there, that is one third of a million dollars, not to count the mailing and the letterhead and the time preparing the letter.
The essential point is that, by creating this registry, the member suggests that will become proper notice and the vehicle for assuring there has been proper notice. On the contrary, I suggest to him, that limits the amount of notice, because only those people in the registry become entitled to notice. All others become secondary, on the periphery or tertiary to the member’s concerns. The board could very well stand up and say: “We had seven people in the registry and we notified them. That is what the act says we should do, so that is well and good.”
We do not want that result and I do not think the member does. I think that on rethinking his amendment, he may even consider withdrawing it. Certainly I cannot consider accepting it as a friendly amendment for the very reasons that I have outlined.
Mr. Swart: I cannot let that go by without reply, because certainly the parliamentary assistant has endeavoured to misinterpret what we are doing. No place does this say that this would constitute proper notice if everybody who was on the registry list was notified. It does not say that at all. They still have the right under this to determine what constitutes adequate public notice. Of course, that would be in addition to what they might do with regard to newspapers and that sort of thing with regard to public notice. This just simply ensures that those people who want to know about the hearing will know about that hearing so they can be there and make a presentation, because there is no other way of ensuring it. It puts the onus on them.
The parliamentary assistant knows and knows very well, having been to many Ontario Municipal Board hearings, there has to be some specific omission before the board will rule that there will have to be a rehearing or some change. If there was a notice in the Sudbury paper, perhaps, a small notice that there was going to be this hearing on a general hearing application for rate changes, and people operating a trucking firm did not see it in the paper and the hearing took place without them and there was an increase in their truck rates of $2,000 a year, no board in the world would rule that it would be thrown out because they were not notified when it was in the paper.
What we are trying to ensure is something fair. I suggest it is extremely reasonable and it should be done. If we do not do it, it is bias in favour of the insurers against the consumers.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: I have just two brief comments. My friend opposite makes reference to the public hearing process the committee went through. I would remind him that we did receive many, many briefs. I understand there were over 60. It was a good exercise. I think the member even commented that it was a good exercise in the democratic process and that the bill was improved as a result of it.
I say to the member, if he goes out and tells people that this hearing is taking place and he advises them and they show up, there is nothing wrong with that, there is nothing devious about that, that is the purpose of the hearing. He has made the process better and he would be entitled to do that when this board operates and when it has its hearings.
The other thing I would say is that we on this side of the House and that end down there have a little more faith in the rule of law and the way it operates. I suggest that if one individual wrote to the board and said, “I have a specific interest in this part of the classification system and the rates that are set on it and I want to be heard or have an opportunity to be heard when and if that matter is dealt with by the board,” the board would have an obligation, according to the rules of natural justice, to give notice, and any court would back that up. I suggest that to the member and I suggest that he too could agree with me that the rule of law will govern the conduct of the board and it is that that we should be supporting.
The Deputy Chairman: Does any other member wish to participate? Are you ready for the question?
I will deal with the addition of section 14a first, as the others stand with respect to that. Section 14a is establishing the registry.
Mr. Swart has moved that the following section be added to the bill:
“14a(1). The board shall establish a registry of persons to whom notice of its hearings shall be given under subsection 11(4a).
“(2) Any person who makes a request to the board shall be included in the registry mentioned in subsection (1).”
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour say “aye.”
All those opposed say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Deputy Chairman: Then the amendment adding proposed subsections 11(4b) and 11(4a) will be read as one motion.
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour say “aye.”
All those opposed say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Deputy Chairman: Are there any other amendments to section 11? OK, then we will proceed. Are there any other amendments? If so, to which section?
Mr. Swart: My next amendment is section 24a, but there is one on clauses 12(1)(ba) and (bb), which should be moved together following the former section 12.
The Deputy Chairman: Then there are no sections in between that we can deal with, so we will proceed with your amendment because you are moving to amend section 12 and section 24? Is that not correct?
Mr. Swart: Yes, I am. Perhaps, Madam Chairman, I should move section 24a because it sets up section 12.
The Deputy Chairman: Is it agreed by the committee that we move the amendment to section 24a first?
The Deputy Chairman: Please proceed.
Mr. Swart: I move that the following section be added to the bill:
“24a(1) The Facility Association shall establish a fund called the ‘consumer groups fund’ to be used for the purpose of funding groups representing the interests of consumers in hearings before the board.
“(2) The Facility Association shall require insurers to contribute to the consumer groups fund in such amounts and at such times as the Facility Association shall determine.
“(3) The Facility Association shall make payments out of the consumer groups fund to such persons, in such amounts and at such times as the board by order directs.
“(4) Where at any time the consumer groups fund is insufficient to pay an amount ordered to be paid out of it, the Facility Association shall forthwith require insurers to pay the difference into the fund.
“(5) Insurers shall forthwith pay to the Facility Association any amount requested by the Facility Association for the purpose of this section.”
If you, wish, Madam Chairman, I will also move clauses 12(1)(ba) and (bb), which relate to the same issue.
The Deputy Chairman: I think I should deal with your amendment with respect to section 24a. Do you have a complete copy that I might have? Thank you, I have it now.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: On a point of order, Madam Chairman: This proposal was moved before the committee, and I refer you to the position taken by the chairman at that time, who ruled this out of order.
The Deputy Chairman: I am aware that there has been a previous ruling with respect to this, but this is a different committee and the particular motion is before the floor and must be dealt with.
Mr. Swart moves that the following section be added to the bill:
Hon. Mr. Elston: On a point of order, Madam Chairman: The motion, of course, has been put in front of you for consideration, but I do not think that precludes you as chair from considering it to be out of order.
The Deputy Chairman: I intend to do that but I wanted to read it into the record.
Hon. Mr. Elston: My apologies. I misunderstood.
The Deputy Chairman: Thank you. If I may continue.
Mr. Swart moves that the following section be added to the bill:
“24a(1) The Facility Association shall establish a fund called the ‘consumer groups fund’” --
An hon. member: Dispense.
The Deputy Chairman: I have had a chance to look at this particular amendment and Bill 2 as it now stands does not contain section 24a.
Bill 2 establishes an Ontario Automobile Insurance Board to establish and review rates and ranges of rates to be charged by insurers for automobile insurance. The proposed amendment deals with the establishment by the Facility Association of a consumer groups fund to be used for the purpose of funding groups representing interests of consumers in hearings before the board.
The amendment would establish a new duty on the Facility Association. Bill 2 does not address the mandate of the Facility Association with respect to the duties to the public. The bill establishes procedures for the Facility Association to follow with respect to the rates that have been established by the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board.
The proposed amendment deals more properly with matters that should be raised as amendments to the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act which sets up this Facility Association. As a result, I would rule the amendment out of order as it is beyond the scope and the purpose of the bill.
Mr. Swart: Madam Chairman, may I ask you a question on that?
The Deputy Chairman: There is no debate with respect to my ruling, unless you have a point of order.
Mr. Swart: I wanted you to clarify your ruling with regard to a new bill which does have reference in it to the Facility Association in a very substantial manner. My understanding over the years on a new bill -- it is not an amending bill which can only deal with exactly what is in the amending bill -- but under a new bill can you not deal with an addition when it is in conformity with the act?
The Deputy Chairman: I have indicated that it is beyond the scope and the purpose of the bill and the fund itself is something new and above what is to be considered in Bill 2. As a result of that ruling, do you wish to move your amendment adding clauses 12(1)(ba) and 12(1)(bb)?
Mr. Swart: No, there is no point.
The Deputy Chairman: Shall section 12, as printed, carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
The Deputy Chairman: Are there any further amendments or comments with respect to the bill? If so, to which sections?
Are there any other proposed amendments?
Shall sections 13 to 35, inclusive, carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Sections 13 to 35, inclusive, agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: Pursuant to the agreement on the order of the committee, we will now vote on the amendments that have been stacked. Call in the members. There will be a 10-minute bell.
The committee divided on Mr. Farnan’s amendment to subsection 3(2), which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 15; nays 72.
Section 3 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. Swart’s motion to add section 14a to the bill, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 15: nays 72.
The committee divided on Mr. Swart’s motion to add subsections 11(4a) and 11(4b) to the bill, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 15: nays 72.
Section 11 agreed to.
The committee divided on section 12, as printed, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 59; nays 27.
Section 12 agreed to.
Bill 2 ordered to be reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Conway, the committee reported one bill without amendment.
ONTARIO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE BOARD ACT
Hon. R. F. Nixon moved third reading of Bill 2, An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and to provide for the Review of Automobile Insurance Rates.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I wonder if I might make a comment. I certainly do not want to stand in the way of the honourable member, who has contributed so much to this debate in his own inimitable style, but I do want to express my thanks to my colleague and good friend the parliamentary assistant (Mr. J. B. Nixon) to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
As members are aware, he was assisting my good friend and colleague the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Kwinter), who has gone on to other responsibilities, leaving this ministry in my hands, at least for the time being.
Another coincidence, a very fortuitous one, is that the member for York Mills (Mr. J. B. Nixon), who was assisting Mr. Kwinter in those days, is now the parliamentary assistant for the ministry and is readily available to assist the present minister. I will tell members that the assistance, as is obvious to everybody here, is extremely well qualified and gratefully received.
I want also to mention reports that I have had from members of the standing committee on administration of justice that the chairman, who is sitting in the House at the present time --
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The one who was in the front row the other day. He got demoted.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: --the member for Brampton South (Mr. Callahan), also did exemplary service in seeing that the views on all sides had every opportunity to be expressed. While I attended only one day of the committee hearings, I understand the committee progressed through the province giving the citizens of the community an opportunity to express their views as well.
It is obvious from the views expressed by opposition spokespersons that the bill does not meet their requirements in principle or even in detail, but understanding the democratic process, no one in opposition would not accept the fact that they have had an opportunity to put forward their views backed up by people in the community who agreed with them, that this House has taken a stand in principle in support of this bill and that the details of its administration have now been put before the House by this committee report.
I do not intend to reiterate our commitment on the government’s side for what we hope will be and what we confidently expect will be an administration, under this jurisdiction of the new bill, which will provide fairness and equity to those people requiring automobile insurance in this jurisdiction. We are well aware of other views being held. I think we must also understand that this alternative is the one the government of Ontario has put forward confidently and that we expect it will meet the needs of the community, as have been expressed.
I appreciate that the government policy has been supported in principle and now in detail in this committee report. I ask for and confidently expect support of the majority of the House on third reading.
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Are there any comments or questions with respect to the remarks made by the honourable minister? Would any other honourable member wish to participate in the debate?
Mr. Swart: Yes, Madam Speaker. I would like first of all to state that we did have a good series of hearings and to state also my commendation of the good nature of the members and the chairman of that committee. Generally speaking, it was a pleasant experience. It would have been much more pleasant, of course, if the appropriate conclusion had been reached and the bill had not been reported and had been replaced by a government insurance plan.
I want to say immediately that we are going to vote against this bill because it is largely a sham and a hoax. It was designed two or three months before an election to get the Liberals past that election and provide them with some excuse for not implementing a public auto insurance system, which was the only thing that could have provided the real solution to the many problems. It certainly does not resolve the problems. In fact, it makes some of those problems worse.
As we know, the bill is really a two-part bill. One part of it is to establish a rate control board. I have to agree with my friends in the party to my left that it is not a rate review board at all; it is a rate control board and I think it should be called that. The second part of it is to establish a classification system.
Simply, the rate control board will be a useless and costly bureaucratic nightmare. We have said this right from the very first day the former Minister of Financial Institutions, the member for Wilson Heights, made the announcement that he was going to proceed with it. It will do nothing to reduce the rates. In fact, it will increase them. It is the centrepiece of the program about which the Premier (Mr. Peterson) said three days before the election, “We have a very specific plan to lower insurance rates.” This is the centrepiece. It will in fact increase them, not lower them.
The minister knows very well that there are going to be tremendous costs associated with this rate control board: the cost of operation of the board and the cost of the extensive research of the board, if it is going to do its job at all, into the insurance companies’ figures, into their annual statements, so the board knows what the insurance companies are making. That is going to be a tremendous cost. There is going to be a tremendous cost to the insurance companies as well and all this is going to be passed on to the people of this province.
The minister knows very well it is not going to decrease those rates. If we take the insurance companies at their word -- I do not, but the minister does -- they say they lost $330 million last year. They say they lost $550 million or $575 million the year before. I forget just exactly what it was, but it was in that neighbourhood.
Of course, this rate review board says it is going to see that they have adequate rates. I am sure everyone in this House who was here before remembers what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) said about a rate review board when he was the minister. For those who were not here at that time, let me remind them. He said, “If that plan were in effect in Ontario during the past five years, the people of Ontario would have paid from eight per cent to 39 per cent more than they pay now.” That is what the minister in charge of the insurance industry for years in this province had to say about a rate review board.
I will not remind members -- at least, I will not reveal in detail -- what Mr. Slater said about the same thing: “Cosmetic, and serves no useful purpose.”
In addition to that, this government now is going to ensure a profit for the insurance companies in the neighbourhood of three per cent. I do not know whether the parliamentary assistant has left yet, but when I said that in the committee, he bristled and said, “My minister never mentioned anything about figures.” I want to quote what he did say in the committee when I said there was going to be a --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: I probably will not get any distance with this but I want to bring to your attention that on third reading of a bill, it is customary in this House and other parliaments that extensive debate on the principle of the bill, which is already established, is not in order.
There is no member of the House who is a more compelling speaker, with a more negative rate of accomplishment as far as winning votes is concerned in the House, but I did want to bring to your attention that I feel extensive debate on the principle of the bill on third reading is not normally acceptable. We are not rushed for time, but I felt that rather than let the precedent go by, I would like to bring that to your attention.
Mr. Wildman: On the point of order, Madam Speaker: While it is certainly acceptable and understood that on second reading the principle of legislation is dealt with, surely after such considerable committee examination and study, it is quite in order for any member of the House on third reading to comment on matters that have been raised and dealt with during committee.
The Acting Speaker: With respect to the point of order that has been raised, I find that indeed the member should try to limit himself to the points that were raised in committee and not merely to the principle. It is my understanding you have the right to go through each section of the bill that you concern yourself with, but l know you will keep your comments limited to the sections of the bill.
Mr. Swart: Surprisingly enough, I was referring to the discussions that took place in the committee.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: If I may, since Madam Speaker’s ruling will no doubt be pointed to in the future, I understood her to say that on third reading an honourable member has the right to refer to each section of the bill. If that is your ruling, of course I accept it, but I would hate to think that parliamentary tradition is going to be changed this afternoon in a way that is not going to be in the best interests of adequate parliamentary debate.
Mr. Swart: I do not intend to deal with the specific sections, Madam Speaker, but I would like to point out that there have been so many changes in this bill, it is not the bill we had at the time it was brought to us. Even some of the basic principles have in fact been changed. I want to --
The Acting Speaker: Before that, so that I might clarify the point of order, if the honourable member will allow me, it was my intent not that each section be dealt with but that you should speak to whether or not the bill should pass third reading.
Mr. Swart: I made that general statement right at the beginning about whether it should pass third reading and I said no. In this party, we are not going to let it pass third reading if we can cause that to happen.
I was dealing with the rate section, which is a very important section in the bill. I was making the comment that I had stated in committee that it would permit a three per cent increase. That was a general statement made by the member for Wilson Heights. I was brought up very short by the parliamentary assistant who said, and I quote: “Before you state any reference to allowable profits that you think Mr. Kwinter suggested, I think you should table that information. To my memory, and I have been with him for quite some time, he has never made any reference to allowable profit levels and certainly has not cited a figure. He has studiously avoided engaging in that discussion.”
Maybe it is a figment of the imagination of the press, but according to Bill Walker of the Toronto Star, the member for Wilson Heights did, in fact, use the three per cent as a model, and I quote: “Kwinter admitted that the rate review board’s ability to set rates will mean that the government can determine how much profit each company may earn. He said that level of profit has yet to be determined, but used the example of Switzerland where the government controls rates and allows insurers a three per cent profit margin. “
That is after the parliamentary assistant said he had never used any figures. It is the intention of that section of the bill to allow a profit to the insurance companies. Therefore, this will substantially raise the rates to the people of this province.
I want to say that, in this, we share the views of the Conservative Party with regard to the usefulness, or rather the lack of it, of this section that deals with the control of rates. I want, though, to make it exceedingly clear when I say that we do not share their support for the status quo. I wonder if they really know what they are saying when they talk about maintaining the status quo, because that is what they are proposing, maintaining the status quo. Around this province they have no idea what the people are thinking if they think they can maintain the status quo of the last two or three years. The people are up in arms, but that is what they are saying, let the marketplace decide everything.
It is a faith, a belief that everything will work out fine if you let the market system -- they have so much faith in those kinds of outdated beliefs that they put their false teeth under their pillow every night, waiting expectantly for the tooth fairy. That is the kind of faith they have in the market system. They have that same kind of faith towards the auto insurers, that they can do no wrong and that came out very clearly in the committee hearings.
The section on rate control was condemned by almost every group of those 65 groups that the parliamentary assistant mentioned that came before us. It was condemned by the Consumers’ Association of Canada (Ontario), which I say speaks for consumers more than any other group in this province or any other group that was before us. They were talking about the Slater commission. I am quoting from their submission to us: “And here we are, the first opportunity to do something about it, and what do we do? We ignore it completely and give the ball to the industry to carry it off in this direction. It is not in the public interest, in our view.” That is what the consumers’ association had to say about it.
The State Farm Mutual talked about a rate review board. It has a vested interest of course -- I am the first to admit that -- but it did point out some very interesting facts about rate review boards in other places. It pointed out that in Massachusetts, over 54 per cent of all auto policies now are written in the state’s reinsurance facility, which is the same thing as our Facility Association. In New Jersey, over 50 per cent are written in the New Jersey Full Insurance Underwriting Association, which again is like our Facility Association. In North Carolina, it was over 25 per cent.
I want to conclude this section by simply saying that the whole principle of the rate control section of the bill is useless and is bad. I also want to say that in addition to the principle of that section being bad, the Liberal government has designed a bill which is loaded against consumers. Boy, that was sure shown here today in the votes we had on these amendments. It was recognized by the consumers’ association when it appeared before us that it is loaded against consumers with the composition of the rate control board; no question about it.
Today the parliamentary assistant, and I really could not believe it, said he could not accept the section which would provide for registration of all those groups that want to be notified of an industry-wide hearing with regard to rates or classification. He would not accept that today. All the insurers, every one of the insurers, is going to be notified. There will be notices in the paper which they could see as well as others could. The insurers are getting special consideration, but not the various groups.
We are not just talking about the motorists; we are talking about all kinds of other groups, the truckers, the bus operators and the taxi operators. They are not going to know about these hearings and there will be changes made which will adversely affect them. That is deliberate on the part of the government. The people are not even going to know. They are going to have these things happen to them.
There is no funding for consumer groups. We proposed that there be funding for consumer groups. It was ruled out of order. There is no advocate. Surely everyone here knows that if you are going to have some fairness in a hearing, there has to be some equality of research resources and advocacy resources. There is no provision for that. Insurance companies will have their millions of the motorists’ premium dollars to spend, yet they will not have their voice at the hearing. That is why we do not think third reading of this bill should take place.
The insurance companies that want to have an increase in rates over and above the range of rates or rates that are set by the board -- that is provided in here and we do not object to that -- they are not even being notified. Those people will not even know that. Their policyholders will not know it. We moved an amendment that any insurer that wants special consideration to raise its rates above the general rate level should have to notify its policyholders so they would know it. Those policyholders will get an increase of $50, $100 or $200 on their bills. They will say: “I guess it has had approval. I guess that is within the rate range.” They will not do anything about it. They should know if there is special consideration being given to their insurance company so that they can go and get their insurance someplace else or they can go and fight it at a hearing. The government voted that down.
I want to say that in this bill -- and this is the reason we think it should not be passed on third reading -- the government is being about as blatant as anyone can be in its anticonsumer stance. Simply, the bill is a bad design on a bad principle.
Theoretically, the classification section may provide some improvement over the present situation, but we cannot even be sure of that, because the classifications are left, initially, to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Then after that, once the board is in operation, the board will deal with those classifications.
What is proposed in some areas is some improvement in classification, but it may well not turn out that way, because these are only proposals. Of course, if that rate review board is composed primarily of industry representatives, we know that even those minor improvements will never come about.
The New Democratic Party was successful in getting section 33 inserted in the bill, which prohibits classifications based on age, sex, marital status, family status or handicap. It took a long time, but we did eventually get that into the bill.
But what this government proposes to do in eliminating age is the biggest hoax of all. They are going to replace age with years of driving experience.
Mr. Runciman: What are they replacing sex with?
Mr. Swart: The trouble is, when sex is replaced, it is not replaced with anything.
Mr. Runciman: Get that on the record.
Mr. Swart: The proposals which are being put forward -- another sound reason we should not be voting for this bill on third reading -- in fact provide that young people, good young drivers are still going to be paying, on average, as much as they were before. Young males will pay less, but young females will pay substantially more.
The government hired Mercer. As members of my committee will know, the government proposed a draft classification and then it asked Mercer to report on this. Mercer did. I want to read one sentence from that report. It says, “Since age is an exact surrogate for inexperience in driving (i.e., all drivers in this class will map into the class of fewer than three years of driving experience) the effect of removing age as a rating criterion is neutral.” That is what they are doing to circumvent it.
Mr. McGuigan: Not exactly. I had my licence when I was 15.
Mr. Swart: A lot of people had their licences at 16.
Mr. McGuigan: Fifteen.
Mr. Swart: Ninety-five per cent of all the people who drive get their licences before they are 22. The result, of course, is that when you say they have to have certain driving experience to get a lower rate, they are all going to pay that higher rate.
Here we have the example, exhibit 2 provided by Mercer, which shows that for pleasure use a person with 35 years’ driving experience, low mileage, three years event-free, as compared to a person with pleasure use, three to six years’ experience, low mileage, three years event-free -- everything the same except 35-plus years’ experience and three to six years’ experience -- that person who has three to six years’ experience will pay two-and-a-half times as much as the person who has the 35 years’ experience. So it is all a hoax.
Mr. 1. B. Nixon: How much do they pay now?
Mr. Swart: The parliamentary assistant realizes, of course, because it was his government that decided this -- the parliamentary assistant asked, “How much do they pay now?” He knows very well that was a question that I asked, to have figures put to this. All the insurance companies do is say that for every $100 you pay now, this is what you will pay afterwards. They did not put any figures to it. He should go ask Mercer. That was his responsibility in the first place.
Mr. Speaker: Order. This is third reading debate. It is not committee. There should not really be any discussion. We have recognized the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), and any other members who speak will be out of order. I will ask the member for Welland-Thorold to continue.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is my understanding that during committee consideration of this bill, with the unanimous consent of the House, the parliamentary assistant had permission to sit in a seat other than his own. We all agreed with that and thought it was most appropriate, but it is my understanding that on third reading he can hardly speak from a seat which is other than his own. Is that not correct?
Mr. Speaker: The member brings up an interesting point, because what was agreed in committee, of course, has nothing to do with what takes place in the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There have been other members I know who have made interjections from other seats, and I have always called them to order. That is what I was doing, I believe. We shall see as we wind up the debate if the House wishes to give the parliamentary assistant permission to speak from that seat. We will see what happens at that time.
Mr. Swart: In any event, Mr. Speaker, he would not have had to go all the way out, as I did yesterday.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps we could get back now to discussion on the third reading. Thank you.
Mr. Swart: We feel strongly here that we should not be voting for this bill. Quite frankly, I could not vote for a bill which left age, really, as a criterion.
When we had the top people before us from William M. Mercer, I questioned, as members will recall, Irene Bass, who is a principal management consultant to Mercer about this. I said to her: “You replace experience for age. Experience is a much, much greater factor than even driving record. There are others here. Even if you have four events and you have a 30-year driving record, you do not have that kind of increase. That is true, is it not?” She said, “That is right.”
I said, “So, in effect, given that most new drivers are young people -- I do not have statistics on this, but I suppose 90 per cent of people who start driving in this day and age start before they are 25.” She said, “That is right.”
I said: “In effect, we are really putting the same kind of penalty back on young people. We are not doing it because of their age and we are eliminating the sex category for the young, but in effect -- and this may not be a question that you want to answer, but I think it is a fair one -- age is still going to be the major factor in causing people to pay high rates. I can rephrase that. It will be the young people mostly who will be in the very high rate category because they have had very little driving experience.” She said, “It will definitely be mostly populated by people who are younger.”
No change. Is that really what we want? The Consumers’ Association of Canada (Ontario) raised that as a main objection when they presented their brief, and you will be glad to know that I will not read that, Mr. Speaker. But I do want to read one paragraph from the submission made by Raj Anand, our chief commissioner for the Human Rights Commission in this province. It relates very much to what I have just been talking about: using a devious route to do the same thing. Let me read what he says. This is in his submission, and he talks about Bates versus Zurich Insurance Co. of Canada. We all know about that one.
“The board adopted the principle expressed by an earlier review tribunal at the federal level that: ‘...The basic premise of human rights legislation is that the merits of the individual should be assessed. Otherwise, bona fide...requirements might be established simply on the basis of statistical averages of group characteristics. This would merely be stereotyping in a new format which is, if anything, more invidious than traditional prejudices because it has an apparently scientific base.’”
That is why we vote against this. That is why this bill should not be passed. Here we have a human rights commissioner who is saying, in effect, that this proposed policy -- and I want to state clearly that it is a proposed policy; it is not final yet, because the final policy rests with the Lieutenant Governor in Council -- in fact is a devious route being used to circumvent the Human Rights Code. That is what that government is doing over there. Not only that, this bill does not really solve the problems.
Another reason that we cannot support this bill is that when we toured this province a year and a half ago we found nine major problems. Excessive premiums and escalating rates were one of them. This is what the people brought to us. There were not just 65 briefs; we had something like 135 briefs. This bill does not do anything at all about excessive premiums and escalating rates.
The next was arbitrary cancellation or refusal to renew insurance. It does not do anything about that, either. In fact there will be more arbitrary cancellations and refusals to renew for young males because they are going to lose money on them.
Another is discriminatory rate increases applied for frivolous reasons. One hopes they will do something about that.
All drivers in a household being penalized because of one driver’s records: One hopes they are going to do something about that.
Young male drivers with good records are victimized by rates three or four times the average. Oh, yes, it is going to bring those down, but who is going to be penalized now? The young females. Both of them will be penalized, a double penalty now under this proposal.
A growing number of people driving without insurance, at least 200,000. It does not do anything about that.
Because Ontario’s no-fault coverage is extremely limited, there are long delays in compensation and unfair settlements to accident victims. It does nothing about that.
Breaks in coverage: back to square one. Well, section 8 may do something about that.
New drivers and new car owners are penalized. They are going to be penalized worse than ever under this proposal. It does very, very little to solve any of the problems.
The end result of this rate control board will, in fact, be higher rates and continuation of discrimination. But our strongest objection to this bill is that it has been put forward as the solution without the government ever looking at the alternative of the public system. For that reason alone we would be voting against this bill.
There was a refusal, and has been for two and a half years, even to do the in-depth comparison of those western plans with Ontario. How can we possibly excuse that when the Liberals and the Conservatives out there say they are wonderful plans, far superior to what we have in Ontario? All the governments that have administered them over the years have said the same thing, regardless of their political stripe. But even though this Legislature passed a resolution in December 1986 calling for that in-depth comparison, this government has refused to do it.
The government wants the public, of course, to believe that it has done it or is going to do it, that it is not really opposed to this sort of thing, because amid all these kinds of comments, a lot of votes out there now are supporting public auto insurance. In fact, the polls show that in the last election that support increased to over 50 per cent of the voters of this province.
The government cannot offend the voters, so it has to let on, “We are going to look at it.” We have the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who said in leaving here yesterday that he is all in favour of government-run auto insurance if it can be proved that the system would be cheaper and not subsidized by the government. He made that statement. Of course, we know it is not subsidized now. We know it is way cheaper. He does not do anything about it, but it was a good ploy at election time and probably got a few votes.
We have the former Minister of Financial Institutions saying in Sudbury back on May 2, “Ontario will create a government-run auto insurance plan if private companies do not hold the line on premiums.” What happened? They went up 4.5 per cent this year. They are not holding the line on premiums. They are going to go up a whole lot more before the year is over. Everybody knows that. It was at the hearings. Of course, that was just nothing more than posturing.
In fact, we had Mr. Nixon say here in this House -- l think it was on second reading of this bill --
Mr. Speaker: Are you referring to the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon)?
Mr. Swart: The Treasurer, yes. He said he did not have any anathema towards public auto insurance. It all sounds nice -- nice platitudes. But, of course, there is no sincerity in it. When a government will not even investigate, will not even do the in-depth comparison to determine it, there is certainly no sincerity in that proposal.
It is all there to see. It is all there to see now because we have public hearings. Those public hearings prove that this bill should never have been reported. It should have been replaced with a proposal for a driver-owned public system. All evidence showed the public plans were far superior to the system we have here. That was stated by people who are tremendously philosophically opposed to the systems out there.
It is rather interesting. Of the groups we had down from the three western provinces, twice as many of them were from the brokers and those philosophically opposed than from the plans themselves. But they all said the same thing: “They are good and we want to keep them out here.” I would just like to read to the members what the broker David Garriock said about them, which is one of the reasons we should not have reported this bill. David Garriock is a past president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba. He also operates in Kenora, Ontario, so he knows the difference between the two.
He said, “...there are advantages within the product itself that is offered within the province.” He is talking about the Manitoba system. “The no-fault accident benefits are the best in Canada, bar none.” This man has stated before, of course, that he was opposed philosophically to the government running it.
“They have very high limits. For example, in Manitoba the medical expenses under the product are at $100,000 versus Ontario at $25,000; total disability benefits of $300 in Manitoba versus $140 in Ontario; partial disability at $60 per week in Manitoba with nothing in Ontario. Permanent impairment is up to $20,000 in Manitoba, with nothing in Ontario. The death payments are $2,000 to an unlimited amount depending on the awards that may be considered by courts. In Ontario it is $1,000. Funeral expenses in Manitoba are $2,500 versus Ontario at $1,000.”
He finishes by saying, “The product within the Autopac system is...a good product.” A man who is philosophically opposed to it makes those kinds of comments.
We have William Brown from British Columbia, who was the president of the Insurance Agents’ Association of British Columbia. Just one short sentence says, “I would say the majority of agents in the province were against the privatization of ICBC,” when it was proposed out there. It was not even proposed by the government. Again, anybody who reads Hansard will know how, philosophically, he was opposed to a government running anything, but he said it works, kind of thing.
I think the best of all, and this was really quite delightful, has to be the research director of the Conservative opposition in Manitoba. The Conservatives wanted him to come down, because there was this huge protest out there. They said, “By golly, we have got to get the Conservatives down here to tell us about these horrible things about the Manitoba system.” Of course, he did come and said it is terrible what they are doing, this increase in rates and all the rest of it.
After he finished, I started to ask him a few questions. He stated that he was representing the Conservative Party, the official opposition of Manitoba, and that he had been at the protest the night before or perhaps two nights before; I am not sure. I put this question to him after he told us about this, “You were not, though, asking yesterday, nor has your party asked that Autopac be privatized?” Mr. Bessey said, “Right.” I said, “You have not?” He said, “No, we have not.”
I said to him: “What you are saying, in effect, is the principle of Autopac is good. It provided good service. The principle is good but it has not been well run; is that what you are saying?” He said, “What I have said is that it is institutionalized...and that we would not privatize it.” I said to him, “Are you saying that your party is in favour of Autopac?” He said, “What I am saying is that the party does not feel it is politically an option to privatize it.” Then I said, “I am sorry; would you repeat that?” He said: “I say, there is no option. We do not have an option to Autopac.” I said: “Do you not have the option of privatization, as Thatcher did in England? Would not the people be delighted?” He said, “We do not think so.”
That was Mike Bessey, representing the Conservatives from Manitoba, this group that is so deathly opposed to the government running anything.
I want to say this and this is important: There was not a single witness from any section, the public, the brokers, the industry or the government that would revert to privatization from the public system, not one from any of those three provinces. Does that not say something? That should say something to the members over there. We should not even have this third reading of this bill. I guess it does not say anything to the Liberals over there. Their ears are closed. There are only one or two people in the rump group of the Liberals over here as well.
I know the member for Eglinton (Ms. Poole), who is not here now, would make comments like, “Oh, well, there is political interference out in Manitoba.” There may have been some. Political interference in rates; the parliamentary assistant will recall that being said. I wonder what that was last April 23, in Ontario, when the government announced it was going to put this bill in and when it froze rates. It was not a real freeze but it led the public to believe it was freezing rates three months before an election.
Somebody who is part of that caucus has the nerve to talk about political interference in Manitoba, when there was nothing but political interference by that government over there, prior to the election, to win votes. They want to criticize the government of Manitoba and call it political interference because, in fact, under its legislation it does have the final say on rates, whether they will be approved or not.
They will not get rid of it out there because it is cheaper and that was conclusively proved at those hearings -- let us make no mistake about it -- not by the New Democratic Party. We asked legislative research to do a comparison of the rates. We suggested perhaps one of the best ways to do it was to take the total number of vehicles insured and divide it into the total premiums paid. They brought in a report which I have here which shows that in 1986 the average premium in Saskatchewan was $292, in Manitoba was $281, in British Columbia was $400 and in Ontario was $553.
If one wants to extrapolate that, as we did, to 1987 -- all the figures are available to extrapolate that -- we find that after those so-called huge increases out in the western provinces, which incidentally are one-year increases, not the two we have had in Ontario, in 1988 the average premium in Saskatchewan was $321, in Manitoba, $380, in British Columbia, $510 and in Ontario, $607. That is the comparison the Ontario legislative research did, and we bring in a bill here that puts up a rate review board that is going to do nothing instead of that. That is why this bill should be defeated here on third reading.
In case members do not like that figure for Ontario of a $607 average and think it is too high, since that time when we had those first hearings and had people from Gore Mutual there, they submitted to us a statement for the last four years of their total receipts and the number of policyholders. Do members know what their average premium is? It is $745. I am the first one to admit that they may operate centrally here in Toronto; I do not know that. That may not be representative. I would even go so far as to say that these figures may not be accurate to the last dollar, the last $10, perhaps the last $25. But I tell you what, those comparisons of rates compare favourably and accurately with every other comparison that has been made by independent groups.
If members do not believe the rates, they can look at such things as the amount each group spends on expenses in British Columbia and in Manitoba; Saskatchewan is less. In British Columbia and Manitoba, it is about 23 cents on the dollar. It is all in the annual statements. Nobody will deny this. In fact, I challenge the Liberals who were at those hearings to get up and prove that my figures are wrong. About 23 cents of each premium dollar out there is used in total administration, that is, claims settlements and the work.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada presented a case for Ontario and said in Ontario it is 36 cents. That is 13 cents on the dollar you can save on that area alone. Do members know what 13 cents on the dollar is? It is $390 million a year to the people of this province that the government could save by a public system.
That is not all. Evidence came out from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and from the western provinces in their annual reports that they get an amount equal to over 20 cents on the premium dollar return on investment. Do members know what it is in Ontario? According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, 12.8 cents, another seven per cent saving this government could have. That is another $210 million it could save there alone.
Then, of course, this government now is going to give some profit to the insurance companies, and that will be additional cost to the motorist here that does not exist in those western plans because they are nonprofit.
If members check the details, whether it is brokers’ fees or whatever it is in their expenses, they will find that it all adds up to what I have said. They have eliminated the injustices out there. That is another reason why this bill should not be supported. They have eliminated the injustices out there in those western provinces. Penalty rates are tied to the driver’s licence. There are no people who have to pay extra because their wives or their husbands are bad drivers or because they are young.
It varies somewhat from province to province -- they have a bonus-malus system in British Columbia -- but basically they are the same. The only penalty rates you pay are if you are a bad driver and you pay them on your driver’s licence. How much sense that makes. Of course, that money goes into the insurance fund. But if you prove to be a bad driver, you pay the penalty on your driver’s licence.
What was also proved very conclusively in the hearings was that all these arguments used by insurance companies and by the Liberal Party in the last election about these huge subsidies going to the western provinces were all shot down, shot down in total. They were shown to be what they were, absolute falsehoods, and I use that word advisedly.
I am not going to refer to all of them, but they are all here in this group. It does not matter whether it is the Co-operators, the pig ads or the Facility Association. The general manager of the Facility Association wrote to the Ontario Motor Coach Association and said there had been a net loss in British Columbia in the previous five years of over $500 million when, in fact, there had been a profit of $100 million.
He had to back down. He could not justify it. He kind of attacked me in the committee, but he had to back down and admit that, unfortunately, he had used underwriting figures, as he explained. Of course, he did not say “underwriting” in the letter. “Net profit” were the words that he used in the letter.
In Windsor we had the president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario admit that it was too bad, there really was a mistake in the pamphlet the association had distributed. In the pig ads they had said, and let me read the exact words: “The government auto plan in Saskatchewan was handed $72 million.” That is what they said in their ad. He admitted it. He said, “Well, actually, that was a mistake. It went for crop insurance.”
An hon. member: Really.
Mr. Swart: Yes, the committee members were there. They know all of this is in fact true.
Then he was asked, “How would that be possible?” He said, “I guess it was a typographical error.” In a leaflet dealing only with auto insurance, it was a typographical error that got into the leaflet. We asked him about the statements, “crown corporations pay no tax,” and “that means Ontario would have lost $108 million in 1985,” from the pig ad. We pointed out that all those provinces paid taxes, exactly the same as they did here. Of course, they had to admit it. They could not explain that at all.
This one has to be the classic. This is what they say the truth is, in this leaflet that went around. A million of them were distributed in Ontario. They said, “Ontario car insurers lost 1.6 cents for every dollar of income in 1986, a total of $330 million.” So I asked him, if they lost 1.6 cents on the dollar and the total premiums are $3 billion, how do they get $330 million? My math says that is $48 million. I guess they had never even looked at the figures before. He said, “Those figures are supplied by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.”
An hon. member: Falsehoods.
Mr. Swart: Absolute falsehoods, the whole lot of them, even the Co-operators. Members heard me read what the past president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba said about the plans and the differences, the superiority of the plans there? Well, the Co-operators sent out a letter to anybody who had insurance with them that talked about the western plans and attacked the public plans: “Three provinces -- Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia -- have government insurance monopolies.” “These plans are not no-fault to any greater extent than Ontario.... Injured persons there have access to no-fault benefits, but in no case are the no-fault benefits greater than the accident benefits available to Ontario motorists under this section of their policy.”
So when the vice-president of Co-Operators was before us, I questioned him about this. I asked, “How can you say that, because you had sent out another sheet which contradicted your own?” “Well, I guess we did not have enough research done on it.” Every one of those is the same: falsehood, falsehood, falsehood. The sad part of it is, that Liberal government over there for the last two years has quoted these verbatim. Now they are admitted as falsehoods.
It can be proved unquestionably that those western plans are cheaper, the administration costs are a lot lower, the money return substantially cheaper. I quoted the research. It showed they are much fairer. There is no question about that. The public likes them.
We had a presentation from the Consumers’ Association of Canada (Ontario) at our hearings. They said they had had extensive discussion about this in Ottawa at their national convention. The Ontario delegates set up a panel from the western provinces and the Ontario delegates were questioning it. They have this in their report to us: “At the conclusion of the meeting the three western delegations were asked to rate consumer satisfaction as they saw it, on a scale of one to 10.” That is consumer satisfaction with the public systems.
Mr. McGuigan: How do they like free trade out west?
Mr. Swart: I do not blame the member for changing the subject. It is all pretty embarrassing.
They said: “One equals very poor and 10 equals excellent. To the surprise of the Ontario delegates the average rating for the three provinces was nine.”
Mr. Runciman: Oh, that is impressive stuff.
Mr. Swart: I suggest to the member that it is very impressive stuff. There are all kinds of satisfaction, there are all kinds of proof of how superior those plans are. We could be giving the motorists of this province a better product and still saving them an average of at least 20 per cent on their premiums.
Then I come back to the comments of the Premier. In St. Catharines last year, he said he was all in favour of government-run insurance if it could be proved that the system would be cheaper and not subsidized by government. I think members can understand why, here yesterday, somebody like myself is a bit angry at the Premier when he makes a statement like that, when all he has to do is gather the information available at the present time -- if he wants to get any more, find it -- and find out how much superior a public plan is. There is no sincerity there at all.
I want to say that it is the cheapest and sleaziest kind of politics the Liberals are playing on this whole matter. We have said from the beginning, two years ago, that there could be an average 20 per cent saving under a public plan, and any reasonable person who has heard all the evidence knows that is true. That is $600 million annually to the motorists of this province.
It is really a fair system, but the Liberals are not going to bring it in, for two real reasons. One is they are so deep, as I said yesterday, in the pockets of the insurance companies that their knuckles are scraping on the ground. If members want me to bring before them again today the documents that I used on second reading, about what the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario said to its members and its whole organization behind and in the Liberal machine, I will do it.
The Liberals are prepared to sell out the motorists of this province to the insurance companies. They are really just as philosophically opposed to it as the Tories. That is true. As the Tories fought medicare when the New Democratic Party first brought it in, the Liberals fought medicare. The Liberals fought medicare out in Saskatchewan, same as the Tories did; they fought medicare just as hard when it was started.
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Order.
Mr. Swart: Like the Liberals and the Tories and the insurance companies, they fought public auto insurance in Saskatchewan. It was implemented there 41 years ago. They did the same thing in Manitoba, they did the same thing in British Columbia. The Liberals and Tories fought it. The people over there are not reformists. The Liberals over there are not even progressives. Really, all they are is caretakers of the status quo. That is what they are on that side of the House. I am not sure they are very good ones, at that.
I conclude by saying that in this party we do not think the wealthy, vested interests or some outdated political dogma should stand in the way of providing a far superior insurance system for the public. We do not share those dogmas. We believe that whatever system works the best is the one we should implement in this province.
I want to say that in spite of these right-wing Liberals and Tories, public auto insurance will come in this province just as surely as medicare came in this province, because it is right, and Bill 2 will be only a bad dream. Then the Liberals will be like their cousins in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and BC. They will jump on the wagon and shout, “Me too, me too,” just as they do out there in those provinces now, as though all along it had been their idea.
We are going to vote against this bill. We are going to keep fighting for the only sensible alternative, and that is driver-owned public auto insurance like they have in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to take the opportunity just to congratulate my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold on his presentation and on the effort he has made across Ontario, within this House and in committee to put forward the deficiencies of the legislation proposed by the Liberal government and to provide a sensible, positive alternative to the current regulatory approach to dealing with auto insurance rates, which have gone up so exorbitantly in the last couple of years in Ontario and will continue to rise.
I think the people of Ontario, and certainly the people of our party, have gained a new respect for the member for Welland-Thorold on his energy and his commitment to bring in and fight for legislation which will benefit the people of this province.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: I just want to rise and comment that, personally, I commend the member for Welland-Thorold for his passion and his vigour in pursuing his cause. It helped to make the committee hearings better hearings, I think.
However, I will not venture to comment on the errors and misconceptions he may have as to our doctrines, our bill and the nature of public auto insurance in other jurisdictions. I will leave that for a later time.
Ms. Bryden: I would just like to say that I think we have had a rare opportunity in this House to hear one of the best-documented speeches in this House on the question of public auto insurance.
Mr. Runciman: When was it? I missed it.
Ms. Bryden: That is the speech from the member for Welland-Thorold. I do not see how anybody can vote for this bill after they have heard that speech, when he has exposed all the false information that has come out around it, and yet he has shown that a public auto insurance system would be so much superior and is something that is long overdue in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Any other member? If not, would the member for Welland-Thorold wish to reply? Would any other member like to participate in the debate?
Mr. Swart: Now we hear the opposite side.
Mr. Runciman: That is right. Now you will hear the facts, Madam Speaker.
I want to echo the comments of the member for Welland-Thorold in respect to the committee hearing process. I think it was an interesting exercise and certainly an opportunity for us to get to know some of the new government members who served on the committee. I think it was worth while in that sense. I think there was an excellent feeling among the group.
I want also -- I did this during the committee sessions -- to compliment the chairman, who I feel did an excellent job in maintaining order and conducting the proceedings in a most commendable fashion.
I also thought that in some respects the hearings were productive, although I do not believe any positions have been altered as a result of the hearing process, but we did receive some very well thought out and innovative submissions. I think Gore Mutual Insurance Co., Wellington Insurance Co., one of the brokers in Thunder Bay, made some very innovative proposals. In my view, it is only regrettable that those proposals were not made a number of years ago and made in a very clear and forthright way; we might not have been faced with the problems we have been faced with in the past few years in respect to automobile insurance.
I find it interesting that the member for Welland-Thorold throughout these hearings has been, at every opportunity, waving a little brown book that was circulated during the August-September election, and severely chastising industry representatives who appeared before the committee and vigorously cross-examining them on the materials and statistics that were incorporated in that pamphlet. There is a degree of paranoia among that party and specifically with the member. Obviously the industry has really got to him. Perhaps in his own mind he feels that was one of the key factors in the lack of success they enjoyed in the September 10 election; I do not know. It became a little repetitive as the process went on.
The NDP members felt, and I cannot criticize them, that this was another kick at the can. I believe and I suspect most members believe that in that respect they failed as miserably as they did in September. I do not think they were able --
Mr. Wildman: There are degrees of failure.
Mr. Runciman: I agree, and this was, in my view, a rather significant failure. I heard the member talking about how convinced we all were about the benefits of government-run programs out west. We were listening to different witnesses, obviously, or certainly hearing different testimony or putting different interpretations on it, in any event.
Talk about any mileage gained out of this whole exercise by the NDP. I think, for the most part, it has been beneficial in pointing out some of the real flaws of a government-run program. I suspect the bulk of publicity generated in respect to this whole exercise has been negative on the position taken by the NDP. Look at some of the headlines and editorials that have appeared over the past number of weeks. Here is one from the Windsor Star: “Ontario flirted with the idea of state-run auto insurance during the election campaign, but the electorate failed to warm up to what was a major plank in the NDP platform. The scepticism was more than warranted.”
In the Oshawa Times, they go on about Mr. Swart and his efforts: “This is all great drama, if not comedy, but Swart fails to mention that coming out of Winnipeg on the same day was a story that Manitoba motorists will be paying more, from 20 per cent to 30 per cent, for their insurance next year, on top of a nine per cent hike in 1987. Watch it the next time someone announces, ‘I am here from the government and I am here to help you.’”
That is from the Oshawa Times and the Windsor Star, supposedly hotbeds of socialism. They are not buying what you have been saying over the past couple of years. Certainly, the publicity you have attempted to generate over this has not been to the benefit of your party or your cause.
Here is one from the Toronto Sun: “Stay out of the insurance business. We all lose when the government meddles.”
Mr. Swart: What about the Toronto Star?
Mr. Runciman: I will get around to the Toronto Star, but I am not going to deal with it at length, as I usually do in my speeches; I will make some passing reference to it.
Mr. Swart: I have one here from the Toronto Star. Would you like to read it?
Mr. Runciman: I have another one here; most of these papers supported the Liberal Party, I guess, in the last election. It is tough to find a paper that supported the member’s party or mine. The Ottawa Citizen has also come out with a headline saying, “Rolling Out the Facts on Car Insurance.” It is very critical of what the member has said with respect to a government-run program. Again, they are drawing out the Manitoba experience. We have another headline, a grabber, “Motorists Riled as Manitoba Plans to Hike Premiums 25 per cent.”
Some of the testimony that we had before us with respect to the western governments was not only about rate increases that were announced during this hearing process but also the significant degree of government interference in the whole process that occurs in these kinds of programs.
In one instance, and I cannot recall the specific province, they were talking about the fact that one out of every two claims generates a ministerial inquiry. Can members believe that? One out of every two auto insurance claims in that specific province gets the minister personally involved. That is how politicized the process is.
We found out that before elections the rates are artificially depressed. We have seen all kinds of things in the Manitoba situation; deficits were hidden from the electorate and the true story was not told. This is the kind of program about which the member has the unmitigated gall to get up here today and say: “This is a panacea. This is where we should all be moving.” This is what I heard during our committee hearing process. All we heard was the good stuff about government programs.
I must say I heard a lot of different things from our witnesses. With respect to what the member mentioned about the Progressive Conservative research employee indicating that his party was not prepared to support pulling out of the government-run program, I have said from the outset that once you get into this kind of program, once you start down this slippery slope, it is politically extremely difficult, if not impossible, to extricate yourself.
I have used the example of rent control. We have got ourselves into a real quagmire. It is causing a housing crisis in this province, but nobody has the intestinal fortitude to deal with the issue because it is, we all agree, a very politically difficult, if not a politically suicidal, position for anyone to take. But we know it a great contributor to the problems we are now facing in housing in this province.
Mr. Wildman: Come on, come out against rent control.
Mr. Runciman: I do not pull my views on that one at all. I would say to the member who is interjecting that I did a poll in my own riding. There are very few tenants in my riding, and over 80 per cent of them were supportive of the retention of rent controls. That is indicative of the kind of problem that is faced by any political party with respect to this issue and the kind of situation we are going to find ourselves in with increased government interference through Bill 2, which I believe is eventually going to lead to government-run insurance if we do not see a change in government in the next election. That is perhaps the only salvation.
The initiative by the NDP did not fly. It did not catch hold during the election campaign. I believe it did not catch hold because it is not a major concern out there among the electorate. It was not then and it is not now. If we all take a look at the number of calls we have received in our own constituency offices with respect to auto insurance premiums, I think if we are being honest about it, they have been limited.
In my own situation, I have probably had half a dozen calls over the past two years about auto insurance premiums. We can talk about any number of issues where we are frequently contacted about constituency concerns. Sunday shopping and abortion are recent examples where, I suspect, most of us are inundated with calls and letters. So this issue certainly has not got far, because it is not an issue.
During the accord situation, the NDP party was able to make it somewhat of an issue in terms of profile, in terms of pressure on the government, in terms of question period and so on, but that did not make it an issue out there with the public. The crisis was really in the liability field, and that is what we should have been dealing with, solely.
Again, through the committee process, despite a number of planted witnesses -- I will describe them as planted witnesses -- who appeared before us telling their sad stories and supposedly in one instance representing a consumer association, which was proven to be a farce and that did not deceive anyone, the issue simply did not get off the ground for the official opposition.
I am not going to say there have not been problems over the past few years in the auto insurance area. Indeed, the insurance companies themselves, in my view, have been somewhat complacent. I mentioned earlier that some of the proposals we have heard from the industry over the past month or two should have been made in the past number of years and should have been made forcefully, and we might not have found ourselves in the kind of situation we find ourselves in today.
There are a lot of problems that need addressing, and contrary to what the member suggested earlier, we have suggested a significant number of, we think, responsible alternatives. Of course, one is a program of rate review similar to the one that operates in Alberta and in other provinces.
Alberta has a board with four part-time members, two full-time staff and with minimal board operating costs, which are covered through the government revenues. This is in contrast to up to 100 employees. I think the deputy minister indicated in response to a question from me that we could be looking at up to 100 new civil servants as a result of this bill. Contrast that with two full-time people in Alberta with a rate review system.
A couple of other things in respect to the Alberta system: it is a prior-approval system and, from all reports, it is working extremely well and is accepted by both the industry and consumers with a high degree of satisfaction.
We have talked about this in the past, but when we look at the situation, it was not a major concern among the electorate. There were problems that needed to be addressed, but what happened in the election obviously indicated that it was not a major concern out there among the electorate.
Why did the government take this initiative, one has to ask? Why did it come in with such an interventionist piece of legislation? As I have said, it obviously was not the election result. The issue did not catch fire at all.
Was it pressure from the caucus? I think we again have to doubt that. They were all out on the hustings and they were not getting a lot of feedback about this issue, I am sure, because it just did not catch fire. Obviously, I do not believe the pressure came from the government caucus to come in with this kind of interventionist measure. In fact, I suspect the bulk of government members were having a great deal of difficulty with this kind of initiative.
What about the bureaucracy’? Did it come from the bureaucracy? I do not really think so. In my experience, in some instances, of course, the bureaucracy does initiate measures, but in terms of the thrust of this particular bill I do not think we can lay the blame on the bureaucracy.
The direction to develop a system that regulates and controls rates in the province, not a review process, was the direction of a number of key players in the government who really said: “To hell with the implications; this is the way we want to go. We don’t care about 100 extra civil servants. We don’t care a hoot about the additional costs of computerization, programming, office space and what have you that is going to go along with this initiative.”
The decision was made by people like, and I like to say this, the former New Democratic Party fundraiser, the member for St. George-St. David (Mr. Scott), the current Attorney General -- l want to continue to put that one on the record -- and others like the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter) who said quite clearly during the second reading debate on Bill 2 that he does not find government-run auto insurance anathema. That is the kind of philosophy from the front benches that is really dictating initiatives such as this.
The bill is going to pass tomorrow. We have to live with the process, the unknown costs associated with it and the ongoing involvement of partisan politics in the insurance rate-setting processes in this province. I mentioned the involvement of politicians in the western programs. We have had the repeated assurances of the parliamentary assistant and others in his party that we are not going to see those kinds of things occur here. But when you have this kind of intrusion occurring, when the government is more involved in the process, the interference -- government, political, patronage, whatever -- the role politicians are going to play is going to increase hand in hand with the increased government involvement in the whole exercise, in the process of providing automobile insurance in this province. They can indicate that this simply is not going to happen, but I can assure the members that we are going to see it happen.
This government has not been reluctant in the past to interfere. We saw that with the freeze on premiums. We have seen the minister announce the four-point-whatever per cent increase. They are not going to be reluctant to get involved. They are not going to be reluctant to stick their fingers into the pie and play a very active role, be it a behind-the-doors kind of role. They are going to be there. It is not good news for consumers in this province and it certainly is not good news for the private sector.
Some naïve souls may say this increased government involvement may not be so bad. I want to suggest we take a look at one jurisdiction, and perhaps the only one that has a system somewhat similar to what the clique of decision-makers in this Liberal government is proposing, and that is Massachusetts, where the governor is a fellow by the name of Dukakis who is running for President. God save the United States and the world from Mr. Dukakis. In my view, he makes Jimmy Carter look good. We just hope that he does not get the nomination, but put that aside.
The committee should have visited Massachusetts, but the hearings were not, in any real sense, meaningful. They gave a cursory nod to democracy and perhaps some kind of a sympathetic sop to the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). But we did not get into some of the real issues of concern in respect to this initiative because we did not have the opportunity to do so.
We were fortunate enough, I think, in the last day of the hearings to be presented with a rather significant study of the Massachusetts system and the implications for going down that road. I would like to put some of the findings on the record, as the committee did not have an opportunity to deal with it at all.
In terms of availability of insurance in a voluntary market, over 60 per cent in Massachusetts is in the reinsurance facility. That means private insurers do not want their business. They do not want those people. They simply will not offer their plans to those people. They have to go to the reinsurance facility. For the programs the private insurers are operating under, the premiums simply do not justify the risk.
To contrast that with what is occurring in Ontario, currently we have about two to three per cent of the business in facility versus Massachusetts, with a system somewhat similar to what is being proposed here, with over 60 per cent of the auto insurance business in facility. When the study was done in Massachusetts, the premiums in that state were $77 greater than the national average. That is what massive government regulation does for premiums in Massachusetts. What is it going to do in Ontario? This is one area where our party agrees with the New Democratic Party. It is not going to have a depressive impact on the rates; just the opposite. The legislation, in essence, is playing into the hands of those wanting a government-run plan, and perhaps by design.
Another point that should be made is that, quite understandably, many insurers have pulled out of the state of Massachusetts. The report says: “One can only conclude that companies do make market choices in line with their perceived ability to control price and profits. This has important implications for designing a market system. If one goal of the system is to encourage availability of product, the system should permit insurers as much flexibility over prices and profits as is possible....Not providing control over price to insurers will create pressure on insurers to produce higher returns. Such pressures will also increase premiums. In this way, regulation may very well be self-defeating.”
There are a few other comments from the study which I would like to put on the record: “There are ominous signs that the present market for auto insurance is breaking down. Since 1973, the size of the residual market has increased in relationship to the voluntary market by 900 per cent. This is a definite sign of an inability of the auto insurance market in Massachusetts to attract needed and productive capital. During the same period, policyholders have suffered as premiums have increased more than 46 per cent, substantially greater than the national average....
“Reviewing the comparative market evaluation presented in this report, Massachusetts has one of the highest premiums in the nation, has one of the poorest records of auto insurance availability, and continues to provide inadequate premiums to most auto insurers. Change is obviously needed. The present method of regulating the auto insurance market in Massachusetts is working poorly for all concerned participants.
“On the other hand, competitive systems which encourage expense efficiencies and lower premiums appear to afford lower premiums to consumers and greater market stability to insurers. Therefore, on the basis of the evidence presented in this report a movement towards a competitive pricing system for auto insurance in Massachusetts is well justified.”
That is the Massachusetts experience: limited availability of insurance, over 60 per cent in facility, insurance companies pulling out of the state and rates well above the national average. That is the road this government is taking us down, a very scary prospect indeed, but one that plays right into the hands of the NDP and like-minded individuals on the front benches of the government.
During the committee hearings, we heard a great deal, quite rightly, about this government’s intentions to remove age, sex and marital status as rating criteria for auto insurance. Our party has in the past supported this initiative. I think former member and minister Frank Drea announced it a number of years ago, and I believe it was reiterated by Robert Elgie and never acted upon. After going through these hearings, I can understand, to a degree, the reluctance of the former ministers to act upon it.
There are a significant number of concerns that I believe have not been adequately addressed by the government. As a result, our party is, in essence, going to reserve judgement in respect to this particular initiative.
A lot of concerns were expressed on the impact this initiative may have on good drivers in this province, concerns that were reinforced by the Mercer report, which showed some very significant dislocation, rather substantial increases for people who have in the past been looked upon as good drivers, safe drivers. Those are the people who are going to be, in effect, paying a penalty to assist drivers who have been looked upon, with some degree of statistical evidence to back that view, as a high-risk age group.
I suspect this proposal could in fact be viewed as unfair discrimination, discrimination against good drivers in favour of bad. We appreciate that, based on the amendment the New Democratic Party made during the committee hearings, which was supported by the government -- l guess we have some sympathy with that, but at the same time we think it was simply, on the part of the government, a rather -- I am stuck for a word, but it will come back to me. I do not have a word in my vocabulary at the moment that is strong enough to describe the government position on this.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: “Intelligent, fair, well thought out.”
Mr. Runciman: No, that does not qualify, I am sorry.
In any event, I think what they did could perhaps be interpreted as the trendy thing to do, jumping on the human rights bandwagon. What we are doing is perhaps not politically easy by opposing this particular area, or at least reserving judgement, but we are going to take what we believe is a responsible course of action and refrain from passing final judgement until we see the regulations developed by the government.
Suffice it to say we believe it is critical that broader, more flexible rating criteria than they have proposed to date must be instituted in order to avoid implementation of a system that could be significantly more unfair than that currently in use.
Opposition parties are frequently taken to task for just criticizing and not presenting viable alternatives. In fact, the member for Welland-Thorold suggested that that is what we are doing, supporting the status quo, which is a continuing effort on their part to misrepresent the position of this party. I guess it is the old story of, if you tell a tale long enough, somebody is going to believe it; or throw enough you-know-what at a wall and some of it is going to stick. With all due respect, we have made some very well thought out and responsible alternative proposals to what the government is suggesting.
Mr. Wildman: Name one.
Mr. Runciman: Well, thanks for the offer. I am going to take the member up on that and quickly review some of the proposals we have put forward in regard to this matter.
Our party supports a strengthened role in the current legislation governing registered insurance brokers. We would create the role of insurance ombudsman to resolve consumer complaints.
Change is also needed to break the syndrome that is prevalent throughout the system of adjusters and the legal profession in auto body repair, and perhaps this will be covered to some degree by the bill that has been introduced by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye).
When we are talking about adjusters, one thing we believe the government should also be doing is requiring adjusters to inform anyone involved in an accident of the current no-fault provisions in the act. We think there should be some obligation upon them to ensure that the consumers are very much aware of the benefits of that program.
We would also urge the federal government to eliminate income tax collected on financial court settlement awards. The federal government should amend the Income Tax Act to remove the income tax payable on the income from the amount of a damage award. These awards are often allocable to the required future care of the victim. This tax has caused lawyers to gross up insurance claims to allow for payment of the tax and still see their clients receive a significant amount of payment for damages. Our research shows that in cases of very large awards involving very seriously injured victims requiring an abundance of future care, the amount of the award could be reduced by almost 50 per cent.
Also, the idea that the federal government is taxing an injured victim for income related solely to a serious physical injury seems most unfair and perhaps even unethical.
We would also propose to restrict the right to sue by the immediate family of a victim to situations involving only the very seriously injured. In 1978, the Family Law Reform Act was amended, giving an injured person’s family the right to sue a wrongdoer for the financial expenses incurred by the family and for its loss of guidance, care and companionship of the injured person. As I mentioned earlier, we think this has gotten out of hand.
We would also like to see a change in prejudgement interest. Plaintiffs quickly launch their lawsuits, but then they delay the trial in order to earn more prejudgement interest at the prime rate. Perhaps this interest rate should be changed to that of the prevailing bank rate or that of savings bonds. This might remove some of the incentive for plaintiffs to delay cases, and it seems even more likely that the overall monetary amount of claims would be reduced.
We also suggest that insurance companies pay annuities to accident victims instead of lump sum payments. Such annuities would last only for the period of convalescence. That could be for the lifetime of a victim or for a much shorter period of time. The advantage to that, of course, is that it would be up to the insurance company to decide how the money allocable to the award should be invested. This would eliminate the possibility that an injured victim could lose his award through faulty investments. It may also decrease the number of false claims. I used this example before; I will put it on the record again: If an injured person who was given a long-term annuity was found to be playing squash six months later, the annuity could be cancelled without recourse.
We would also like to see some reduction in court costs. Currently, when lawyers go to court over insurance claims, the evidence for both liability and damages are often presented together, as both issues are adjudicated in the same proceeding. However, a study by researchers at the University of Chicago law school found that litigation costs could be reduced by as much as 20 per cent if the following measure were introduced: Have the court decide on the question of liability first. That would allow for some costs to be reduced in the preparation and presentation of the damages case where the defendant prevailed on liability. In cases where the plaintiff prevailed on liability, settlements would be encouraged.
Of course, we have strongly endorsed the concept of a rate review board -- I stress “review”
-- comparable to that currently operating with a great deal of success in Alberta and a number of other Canadian jurisdictions and American jurisdictions.
My party is very comfortable with the position we have taken on Bill 2. It is a commonsense approach --
Mr. Faubert: A do-nothing approach.
Mr. Runciman: The member was not listening, obviously. Those people do not want to listen. He says, “a do-nothing approach.” Obviously, he was not listening to what we are suggesting. It certainly is not interventionist. If he calls “a do-nothing approach” not intervening in a significant manner in the private sector, I will accept his definition.
Our approach is one that recognizes the importance of the private sector in this province while at the same time looking out for the best interests of its consumers. We have proposed responsible, well thought out alternatives to the Liberal government’s heavy-handed, interventionist and ultimately harmful legislation, Bill 2.
The slightly pink but very astute Rosemary Speirs of the Toronto Star -- I said I would mention the Toronto Star at some point -- in a recent column -- I do not have it with me -- said that Bill 2 is not going to make anybody happy, that nobody is going to be pleased with this. I have to agree. It is a bad piece of work, and we are slowly but surely getting that message out.
I was just reading an editorial of January 16 in the Peterborough Examiner where they are talking about, “Enough is enough: More Meddling,” and: “MPPs Slated to Pass Bill 2 that Will Set Mandatory Industry-Wide Rates.
“Queen’s Park has obviously learned nothing from its experiences with the rent review board, that bureaucratic albatross around the neck of Ontario’s rental housing industry. It insists that the same remedy, bureaucratic meddling in the form of pay equity, has a place in setting salaries in private industry.”
They are going on about car insurance and talking about essentially what we have said over and over again -- during the election campaign, upon introduction of Bill 2, during the hearings and again today. This is a bad piece of work. It is Massachusetts revisited, and what it is going to do to this province will result in higher rates for all of us as auto insurance consumers.
It is going to result in less availability of auto insurance and more consumers being forced to look to the Facility Association for auto insurance. It is going to mean a further bloating of the government bureaucracy, with up to 100 new civil servants coming on stream with the associated costs, offices, etc.
Mr. McGuigan: Mel, are you listening?
Mr. Runciman: I am talking about the government’s initiative. By the way, it means 100 new civil servants. I do not know whether the member for Essex-Kent was aware of that particular implication of this legislation, the additional bloating of this bureaucracy, which the government increased up to the election, I think, by close to 5,000 new civil servants. It is continuing in that direction with this initiative.
I mentioned earlier today the Social Assistance Review Board and plugging that board with Liberal hacks. We are going to have the same sort of thing occur in this board. It is going to be another patronage plum for the loyal Liberal followers, with the possible exception of a token NDPer. That seems to be a trend.
An hon. member: There is no such thing as a token NDPer.
Mr. Runciman: That is a matter of opinion. It seems to be a trend, not only at the provincial level but at the federal level. We can placate a lot of people by throwing an NDPer on the board -- “This is not a patronage kind of appointment at all” -- and hopefully eliminate or at least reduce criticism.
I suspect that might happen. I have my fingers crossed that the appointee is not going to be the former member for Sudbury, Mr. Martel, who apparently is strenuously seeking a government appointment and has even gone to the media to express his concerns about the Premier going back on some sort of a promise that he was going to have an appointment. All of us who believe in the private sector had better keep our fingers crossed that Mr. Martel is not appointed to this board. Talk about putting the fox in the henhouse. That would be the ultimate injury.
I have mentioned that the bill again is going to result in ongoing political interference in the system. It is unavoidable. Political interference goes hand in hand with increased government involvement. We have seen that in the British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba experiences. We have also seen with this government very little reluctance to interfere and intervene in the private sector in the auto insurance industry.
The road ahead is not very rosy for private insurers or consumers. The one ray of hope, and it is becoming brighter with each passing day, is the return to office three and a half years from now of a revitalized and rejuvenated Progressive Conservative government. It is going to happen; I can feel it in my bones.
Mr. Runciman: That is the only salvation.
In conclusion, we are not supporting this bill. It is a bad piece of legislation, an initiative that leads us on to a slippery slope towards government-run auto insurance, a quagmire that will be politically difficult to escape from.
I have repeatedly mentioned the rent control experience. We are heading down the same path, and if that has not alerted any of the members across the floor, nothing will.
Mr. Miller: Who brought in rent control?
Mr. Runciman: Well, I have said over and over again, once you get down to the slope. That was brought about by a minority government situation, as the member may well recall, and the pressures of the day. The Liberals did not find themselves in this situation because of a minority government. They have taken this initiative upon themselves with a majority government.
Mr. Hampton: Bill Davis made the commitment during the election. I remember, I was a tenant then.
Mr. Speaker: Back to Bill 2, please.
Mr. Runciman: In conclusion, this is a sad day for the consumers of this province and for anyone who believes in the free enterprise system.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and if you wish, I will move adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Speaker: We are very close to six of the clock. Are there any other members who would like to make any comments or ask any questions?
Mr. Runciman: I withdraw.
Mr. Swart: I want to point out to the member who just spoke that he said auto insurance was not a major problem. I want to say to him that I am convinced he is out of touch with reality. If he looked at the polls that were taken during that election, he found that free trade and auto insurance were right up at the top of the polls as matters of concern to the public.
Maybe he had better think about this: He may not have had people calling him because of how useless they thought the call would be. That his party never got involved may be one of the reasons that it is the third party now, instead of at least the second or first.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Conway, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.