34th Parliament, 2nd Session





















































The House met at 1331.




Mr Philip: Some of the finest hotels in Metropolitan Toronto are located in the riding I represent. These hotels provide a great number of jobs to my constituents. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has initiated a form of economic apartheid on the residences and businesses of the greater Metro Toronto area by charging us higher taxes than those in the rest of the province. His scheme will be particularly damaging to the hotel industry. The commercial concentration levy creates a real problem for the larger hotels in Etobicoke, which are competing for convention business with those in other cities. A majority of these hotels are over 200,000 square feet in size and will be directly impacted by this levy. The hotel managers claim that this will mean an increase of $4 to $6 per room per night. There was a drop of 10 per cent hotel bookings for July and August before this levy was added. This new tax can only add to the problem.

The Treasurer’s $10-million tax grab from hotels in the greater Toronto area means that capital investment decisions involving hundreds of millions of dollars of renovation and expansion will be delayed. It will also mean a serious loss of tourism revenue and layoffs across the industry, all of which add up to a loss of provincial revenue.

The Treasurer is penny wise and dollar foolish. The Premier (Mr Peterson) and the Treasurer should go back to the drawing board. Their plan is seriously flawed and should be reconsidered.


Mr Cousens: Members of this House will appreciate that obtaining a clear and precise answer from the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) is a rare feat. Lately, this has been especially true in areas dealing with the greater Toronto area waste management strategy. I have a copy of a recent letter from the Environment minister to Chairman Bean of Peel region. Part of his letter reads:

“As a contingency, each participating upper-tier municipality must identify a suitably sized and environmentally sound landfill site by late this year. If any of these sites should be required, the province has agreed that the approval process to be followed will be under the Environmental Protection Act.”

Last week, when I asked the minister if every contingency site in the GTA plan would be subject to the Environmental Assessment Act, he replied, “The contingency sites, which are short-term solutions, if they are required, are subject to a site-specific hearing under the Environmental Assessment Board, and the same rules will apply to each of the municipalities that nominates that site.” I guess he could not bring himself to say, “No, they will be covered only under the Environmental Protection Act.” The minister’s answers to questions in this House are taking on an odour that almost parallels the refuse this plan will deal with.

I have grave concerns that not all avenues of environmental assessment have been pursued or will be pursued. Residents of the GTA deserve at least that and they deserve to be told up front by this government if this is not going to be the case.


Mr Beer: Recently, the Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton) was in Newmarket to outline the Ontario government’s plans to spend an additional $255 million on transportation in the regional municipality of York over the next five years.

Among the projects receiving additional funding is Highway 407, a new east-west freeway which will act as a northern bypass for Metro Toronto. Starting dates have now been set for two additional sections of the highway. Meanwhile, the flow of east west traffic through York region will be improved by the expansion of Highway 7 from four to six lanes between Jane Street and Dufferin Street. Three north-south routes serving York region, Highway 48, Highway 50 and Highway 404 will also be widened. That brings the total for additional provincial highways funding to more than $150 million in York region.

GO Transit will get another $95 million to improve service frequency and efficiency on the Richmond Hill and Stouffville rail lines. Municipal transit authorities in York region will benefit from another $1.2 million for the purchase of new and replacement buses. The gateway concept, bringing together municipal and interregional transit services and commuter parking facilities, will also be expanded thanks to $2.6 million in additional funds.

Municipal road projects will receive an extra $4.6 million for two major initiatives, the addition of an interchange on Highway 400 at Langstaff in the town of Vaughan and widening of the Highway 48 connecting link between Highway 7 and Rouge Street in Markham. Funding will also be made available for construction of the Markham bypass, a new four-lane link between 16th Avenue and Highway 7.

Combined with the base funding already allocated to municipal and provincial initiatives in York region, the extra $255 million will provide the region with a transportation system capable of meeting the demands posed by --

The Speaker: Thank you. Order.


Mr D. S. Cooke: Today, I will be tabling a petition signed by 13,000 people in the city of Windsor and Essex county demanding that the Liberal government keep the promise to replace our chronic care hospital, which is now 85 years old and desperately needs to be replaced.

When I was first elected in 1977, the battle we were fighting was with the Conservative government to keep that hospital in existence, because they were trying to close the hospital. It was the Liberal Party that in 1985, through the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr Wrye), promised that if they formed a government, they would turn the sod for the new chronic care hospital before the end of the calendar year. It is now 1989 and we still do not have our new chronic care hospital. The sod has not been turned.

In 1987, the Liberal government said, “Re-elect Bill Wrye and elect Mike Ray,” because they were keeping their promise and we were going to get our new chronic care hospital. Today, the entire chronic care project in Windsor is on hold.

The community has raised $11 million. They believed the member for Bruce (Mr Elston) when he was the Minister of Health and came down to Windsor and said that we were going to get the chronic care hospital. The only determining factor would be if we raised our portion of the money. The $11 million has been raised.

Many chronically ill people are living in a chronic care hospital that is inadequate, aged and needs to be replaced. On behalf of the people in our community, the 13,000 and more who have signed that petition, I demand that the government go ahead with its promise.


Mr Villeneuve: I rise again today to point out that the Ontario government is continuing to refuse to help Ontario’s horticulture industry and crop growers.

This weekend the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) told flood-hit farmers to rely on an inadequate crop insurance plan, contrary to the message conveyed by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio). The crop and horticultural sectors are still waiting for Ontario to provide assistance for damages suffered in last year’s drought. No one is representing or protecting Ontario fruit and vegetable growers’ interests in this case at all. Ontario participated in a federal-provincial plan to help livestock producers, but the Minister of Agriculture and Food refuses to provide identical help for fruit and vegetable crop producers. The minister’s only public excuse was that the federal government made unilateral announcements of assistance before an agreement was signed with the provinces.


That excuse is not good enough. It is not even an excuse at all. This government is the last group that should complain about unilateral announcements. The Minister of Agriculture and Food should look at his own announcements about farm property tax rebates, not to mention other government announcements involving municipalities, school boards and many others. It is time for the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) to intervene, stop the agricultural minister’s personal war with Ottawa, provide help to the farmers who need it and stop discriminating against fruit and vegetable growers.


Mr McGuinty: It was on 5 July that the honourable leader of the opposition, the member for York South (Mr B. Rae), and the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) commented on the ruling by Mr Justice O’Driscoll granting an injunction with respect to an abortion, on the common law principle that the foetus enjoys rights and protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Both speakers took advantage of a sad situation to put forth their socialist party line, which favours abortion on demand, a line which they have been unable to impose upon their party members. They referred to the injunction as a “reversion to notions of women as chattels,” “damaging to women’s rights,” and judiciously selected a statement by Supreme Court Justice Wilson regarding abortion as a decision “that pertains to the women” alone.

They chose to ignore another aspect of the issue to which the Supreme Court justices alluded in their January 1988 decision; that is, the need to achieve the socially imperative balance between the rights and interests of women and the equally important rights and interests of unborn children.

There is the view also that when Madam Justice Wilson referred to the unborn baby as “potential life,” she put forth a statement of nonsense in the light of scientific evidence. The unborn baby is actual life -- actual human life.

When the member for Scarborough West stated that the baby is a ward of the state, he corrected himself to replace the word “baby” with “foetus.” The baby the woman is carrying is a baby; and everybody knows it.


Mr Philip: Last week I provided examples of how priorities of bureaucracy are winning over the needs of seniors. On 19 July, I pointed out to the government the need to re-examine plans to close the psychiatric institute wing at Victoria Hospital, home to a number of First World War and Second World War veterans. On 20 July, I pointed out to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) that both his staff and that of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind claim it difficult to provide care for 65 blind residents at Clarkewood Residence and thus they must be displaced. The minister failed to answer what he intends to do to ensure that these blind seniors receive adequate care. The fact is that 47 of the 6S residents at Clarkewood require extended care but the government is only funding 26 of these.

Research shows that health deteriorate --

The Speaker: I am sorry, the member’s time has expired.

Mr Philip: It is about time the government was sensitive to the seniors.

The Speaker: Order. That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.



Hon Ms Hošek: As members of this House know, the Minister of Government Services (Mr Patten) and I have announced a series of sites where provincially owned land would be made available under the government’s Housing First policy. Our goal is to create more housing for low- and moderate-income earners.

I am pleased to rise today to inform all members that the province will apply for local planning approval for housing and commercial development on two sites in Metropolitan Toronto.

The sites are 9.3 acres of land at Ellesmere and McCowan in Scarborough and 10 acres of land at the junction of Burnhamthorpe Road and Highway 427 in Etobicoke. Both sites were previously identified and released for detailed study of their suitability for housing in April 1988.

The proposed development concept for the Scarborough site features at least 540 homes, where at least 50 per cent will be for low- and moderate-income earners through a mix of nonprofit programs and affordable home owner-ship. This concept also calls for the development of up to 785,000 square feet of office space. The concept plans for this site were prepared by Walker Wright Young Associates Ltd.

The plans for the site in Etobicoke include the development of 630 homes, 65 per cent of which would be available through nonprofit programs and affordable home ownership for low- and moderate-income earners. About 280,000 square feet of office space is also proposed for this site.

Our recently released policy statement on land use planning for housing calls for municipalities to provide a mix of housing for low- and moderate-income people. The plans we are unveiling today demonstrate the province is taking a leadership role in working toward these goals.

Le chantier d’Étobicoke contient une proportion de 650 pour cent de logements abordables, et environ 5O pour cent des logements proposés sur le chantier de Scarborough seront offerts aux petits et moyens salariés.

Les terrains ont été rendus disponibles grâce à la politique provinciale, Priorité au logement, qui vise à allouer les terrains excédentaires et sous-utilisés de la province à des initiatives de logements.

Tout comme nous nous attendons à ce que chaque municipalité fournisse plus de possibilités de logements dans ses communautés, je crois que ces développements offriront un plus grand choix de logements à Étobicoke et à Scarborough.

The Etobicoke site has a 65 per cent affordable component and approximately 50 per cent of the homes proposed at the Scarborough location will be affordable for low- and moderate-income earners. The lands are being made available through the province’s Housing First policy, which targets underutilized and surplus provincial lands for housing initiatives. Just as we expect every municipality to ensure more housing opportunities are available in their communities, I believe these developments will provide more housing options in Scarborough and Etobicoke.

Our government is committed to providing resources to make housing more accessible. With these proposals we are helping to create new balanced communities which will enhance the existing neighbourhoods and offer further housing choices to the citizens of the province.


Hon Mr Kerrio: I would like to update the House on the flood situation in the Essex county area. As members know, on 20 July most of Essex county was hit by the worst rainstorm in the recorded history of the area. Rainfall totalling 20 centimetres or about eight inches, to 40 centimetres or 16 inches were recorded in the county.

On Friday, my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) and I toured the area. Also on hand were the members for Essex South (Mr Mancini) and Essex-Kent (Mr McGuigan). Today my colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins), who is responsible for the Ontario disaster relief assistance program, is touring the area to determine the extent of the damage. He is meeting with local municipal officials to discuss the flood situation and to determine how it might be appropriately addressed.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs will be bringing a report and recommendation to cabinet this Wednesday. While a disaster relief program is not a substitute for adequate insurance, the minister has pointed out that the extent of damages and the ability of the community to cover costs will be considered in making the decision on declaring the area a disaster.

Under the program, a disaster relief committee must be set up by the local municipalities to act autonomously to raise funds locally, to appraise losses and settle claims. The provincial contribution normally matches dollar-for-dollar the funds raised by the disaster relief committee. The Minister of Municipal Affairs also has a special assistance program to help municipalities offset unexpected expenses in situations such as the one currently experienced in Essex county.

The storm caused millions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses, farms, roads and bridges. Damage estimates indicate that approximately 1,300 homes were affected by surface flooding and 5,000 to 6,000 homes had basement flooding. More than 5,000 people had to leave their homes and at least six houses have been destroyed. By late Friday, many fields were still under water. It is too early to estimate the value of crop losses. Crop insurance officials expect there will be significant crop loss and substantial crop insurance claims as a result. Adjusters are in the field today.

Approximately 28,500 hectares are affected in the southwest comer of Essex county in the townships of Colchester North, Colchester South, Malden and Gosfield. Major crops in the area are soybeans, tomatoes, winter wheat, fruit trees and corn. Fortunately, most farmers in the county had the foresight to protect themselves against water-related crop damage. Essex county leads the province in crop insurance coverage, with more than 80 per cent of the crops covered.

Last week’s storm came on so quickly that preventive and protective measures were impossible. However, staff at the Essex Region Conservation Authority acted quickly and efficiently to help move people to safety in an evacuation centre in the town of Harrow.

The current situation is that waters are receding in most areas. Most people have returned to their homes and are currently working on cleaning up. A few roads remain closed where they had been completely washed out. I would like to assure members that every effort is being made by this government to assist those affected by the flood.

Furthermore, I would like to commend residents, municipal officials, volunteers and emergency personnel in Essex county for their outstanding efforts in responding to the flood.




Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to respond briefly to the statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio). On behalf of my party, I would like to express our concern and sympathy to all the thousands of people who have been so substantially affected by what can only be described as an absolutely incredible rainstorm of 10 to 12 inches of rain over a short period of time.

I believe, from what we have been told locally, that this is one of the largest rainstorms in the history not only of our area but of North America this side of the Rocky Mountains. It was simply an incredible situation: thousands of people had to leave their homes; roads were destroyed; houses were washed into the lake; bridges were washed out; a train was derailed, and thousands of acres of farm land have been destroyed.

I might indicate that I was somewhat disappointed and surprised at this government’s initial response on Friday in its visit to Windsor. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) immediately reacted by saying that if the farmers do not have crop insurance there simply will not be any assistance for them at all.

This is a unique, unfortunate natural disaster that has to be responded to by this government, not just with visits, plane trips and helicopter rides over the disaster zone. We have to have action, and that means money. I hope that the government will respond very quickly by indicating that it is not going to be just a one-for-one dollar match in helping individual home owners, that there will be at least a two-for-one so that we can properly assist people and that municipalities will get proper compensation from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs so that the road and bridge damage can be repaired.

I also expect that there will be much more substantial reaction and assistance from the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Last year the farmers of our area suffered very substantially with drought. This year, in many areas, as much as two thirds of the crop has been washed out by this torrential rain. It is simply not adequate for the minister to come down and say that people should have crop insurance.

We have to protect the food supply of this province, and the way that the food supply is going to be protected is by keeping farmers in business. If they do not get the proper assistance, we will not have them back in business next year: they will not be able to survive.

On behalf of the people of our community, we appreciate the language and the meetings, but we would like to see the cheques and a real reaction from this government. The farmers, the municipal leaders and the home owners in our community are awaiting the reaction, and I hope that the members in the Liberal caucus from our area will advocate that way. I hope the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins) and the Minister of Agriculture and Food will show a little bit more sympathy and concrete action than they seemed to last Friday when they visited the area.


Mr Harris: I want to respond to the statement by the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek). First of all, I want the minister to know that we will be watching these projects that she is talking about today to see whether architectural services are tendered and whether there will be tenders as to who are going to be the favoured builders of the government for these projects. We will be watching to see if they are tenders for the supply of money, which is a large part of these projects.

Hon Mr Scott: Why? You never tendered anything before. When did you get interested in tenders?

Mr Brandt: That’s nonsense.

Hon Mr Scott: When did you guys get interested in tenders? Give us a break.

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Harris: We will be watching very carefully because the minister said nothing about taking a full, open, tendered process on the tremendous benefits that accrue to the companies providing the architectural services, to the companies doing the actual construction and to the companies that will be providing the financing. We will be watching that carefully.

Hon Mr Scott: You wouldn’t know a tender if you fell over it. You think a tender is a tug boat.

Mr Harris: Second, we are delighted to have the Attorney General (Mr Scott) back, busy yippity-yappeting.

I am surprised that the Attorney General did not have a statement to make today because this land in the Scarborough area on the comer of Ellesmere and McCowan, of course, was the land that was going to be for the new combined courthouse facilities for all those areas east of Yonge. I am not disputing that housing would indeed be a great use for the property; I am just surprised that the Attorney General did not have an announcement to tell us where, on what different site, the courthouse facilities are going to go.

Third, the minister and this government, from the Premier (Mr Peterson), the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins) and the Minister of Housing on down, wonder why it cannot get along in a co-operative way with the municipalities.

Let me run the minister through this scenario: On 10 July, the mayor of Scarborough asked for a meeting with his ministry and the Ministry of Government Services to discuss this site, as it was Scarborough’s preferred site and one of the ones it wanted to put forward for the aquatic facility as part of its Olympic bid. On 14 July, they had a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Housing and with the assistant deputy minister, Government Services. The mayor asked specifically: “Do you have objections to our putting this site forward? Is there anything in the works? Is there any planning going on we should know about?” Nobody said a word to them.

On 17 July, they went to council and it approved that site to go forward. Two days later, they had their press release as their part of the Olympic package and what they wanted in the Scarborough area. Two days after that, in spite of the fact the mayor specifically asked for a meeting for that reason, the minister now announces that she does have problems with the site and that in fact she is going to put housing on the site.

They do not object to that; they object to the way the minister treats them and they object to this type of planning going on, which is an example of what is going on all across this province. The minister has embarrassed the city council of Scarborough and put it into a position which probably will threaten its bid for an aquatic facility for the Olympic Games here in Toronto.


Mr Brandt: I want to briefly respond to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) with respect to the devastation that has occurred in the last few days in the riding of Essex South and in the county of Essex generally as a result of the tremendously heavy rainfall received in that area.

I want to share the concern that has been expressed by others in this House for the amount of devastation that has occurred. I welcome the fact that the minister has shown enough interest to tour the area and take a look specifically at the amount of devastation that has occurred in that particular area.

I would like to say that the estimate of damage, which I do not believe the minister commented on, is something in the order of some $35 million. It is an absolutely crucial situation at the moment for the farmers in the area whose crops have been wiped out. It is anticipated that over 50 per cent of the crops in that area will be lost. Roads and bridges have been washed out. As the minister well knows, half a dozen houses have been completely destroyed.

I want to underline the concerns expressed by my colleague from the New Democratic Party when he indicated that this government has a responsibility to come forward with more than a matching-dollar commitment. A matching-dollar commitment is simply not satisfactory when you get the level of devastation that has been experienced in that area.

I remind the minister that I am not speaking lightly when I say that when there was a comparable situation in Barrie of the type of destruction that took place in the Essex area -- and I think it is comparable -- a previous government came forward with, I believe, a three-to-one or a four-to-one matching-dollar basis in order to assist that area.

The Speaker: The member’s time has expired.

Mr Harris: I recommend highly that the minister look at the same.


The Speaker: Just before I call the next order of business, I would ask all members of this assembly to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery a member of Parliament from Great Britain, from Westminster, John Evans. Please join me in welcoming Mr Evans.




Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Premier. It concerns the real tragedy which has occurred in Essex county and the statements that have been made in the House and outside the House by his ministers who have travelled to that area. His Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) was widely quoted in press reports on visiting on Friday that the government was going to be limited in terms of what it contributed to farmers by the rules and regulations with respect to crop insurance.

The minister said in the House today that the tradition was that there would be a matching fund of one for one. I want to ask the Premier this question: He will know that after the Barrie disaster, which was one that affected life and homes as well as families and many, many people, the government decided to go three for one. In a flood that took place in the township of Field, north of North Bay, it was four for one.

The Speaker: Question?

Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Premier, can the government tell us why it has not indicated clearly at this point and understood how serious this disaster is and said, instead of simply matching the funds --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr B. Rae: -- that it will in fact go three for one or four for one as it has in other situations?

Hon Mr Peterson: As the member knows, the minister has been there. There are two ministers there today assessing the situation.

Mr D. S. Cooke: Why the visits?

Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend to the right of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) would say there should not be any visits. We should just sit up here and make up a policy that is appropriate in the circumstances.

Surely the member will agree with me and members of the government that it is appropriate that the ministers are there to assess the damage at first hand and to talk with members of the community. I can assure my honourable friend that we will respond in an appropriate and generous way, but I think that has got to be done after assessing the facts as they exist.

Mr B. Rae: No one objects to ministers finding out the facts and determining how serious the damage is, but every indication would be -- and I am sure the Premier would understand -- that this is the most serious rainfall disaster that has occurred in this part of Canada in a generation and that it is not an event that can be covered strictly by the institutions and rules that are in place.

Is the Premier telling us that he supports the position taken by his colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food who says that any farmer who did not have crop insurance will not be getting any money from the provincial government?

Hon Mr Peterson: I expect the cabinet will deal with this matter, probably this week, on the basis of the information gathered up from my colleagues, on the basis of their assessment and looking at the available programs at the present time. I am not in a position to respond today to the member’s question, but I can assure him that we will respond generously and appropriately to this disaster, as we have to other disasters that have befallen other people in this province.

Mr B. Rae: Ontario is the only agricultural province that has not entered into a federal-provincial agreement with respect to drought relief going to farmers affected by the cash crop crisis last year and this year, the only one that has not.

We have farmers outside this Legislature who are there because the government have not moved on drought from last year, the farmers who were hammered by drought last year, those very same farmers, like the one I talked to outside, his farm was flooded on Friday because of the rainstorms. We are in an exceptional time in terms of weather.

The question I have for the Premier is this: Will he categorically state that he will not be limited in how he responds by the statements made by the Minister of Agriculture and Food with respect to what he is going to do? Will the Premier make that statement?

Hon Mr Peterson: I can tell my honourable friend that he is quite right. If one considers the London area, a month or so ago, at the beginning of July, there was talk that there was too much water; three weeks later, they are talking in terms of a drought. There have been dramatic changes in terms of the weather and the variation across the province as well in terms of needs.

As the member knows, there was a federal government announcement of a drought relief program. That was their program, and there were no consultations with the government in that particular area. Two other provinces chose to become involved, but there was never any consultation with the provincial government, and that was announced by the federal Minister of Agriculture during an election campaign and became his responsibility. We have other ways of responding and indeed we do.

As I said to my honourable friend, we are looking at all aspects of this disaster in Essex county. This is not an unsympathetic government. The ministers are there today, and we will share that information with the member and the people of Essex county as soon as we can appropriately respond. I think it would not serve this Legislature or the people of Essex county well if we responded superficially. There are talks going on constantly with the local officials and with farmers, people affected, and I think my honourable friend can have confidence that the response will be forthcoming and generous.


Mr B. Rae: A question again to the Premier: He will perhaps have heard of the questions I raised on Thursday about the fact that yet another charity appears to have been involved in making political contributions to members of his party.

On the weekend, upon examining the records, his Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) decided to order that the $750 contributed by St Hilda’s Towers to her campaign be returned. I wonder if the Premier is now saying that as far as he is concerned, this particular matter is closed.

Hon Mr Peterson: I guess the member brought this particular matter of St Hilda’s to the public’s attention. Certainly I was not aware of it. It is not our policy to accept donations from charities. If we are aware of that, I can tell my honourable friend, and if it comes to our attention, then obviously we return it.

As my honourable friend knows, it is not illegal in the hands of the donee, but it is inappropriate for the donor to give this amount of money. We are not in favour of that. Obviously, anything given in error will be returned.

Mr B. Rae: I am sure St Hilda’s will be grateful to get that sizeable amount of money returned to it. The question I have for the Premier is this: Canon Ward says the reason for giving was this:

“The playing field just isn’t level. We’re stacked up against private nursing homes and their paid lobbyists. We don’t have $100,000 or $200,000 to throw around to hire lobbying consultants. We never hid anything. If we knew it was illegal, we would never have donated it openly. I was looking to be able to work with the Housing ministry to design a building that would be feasible. And what I did get from Chaviva was a sympathetic ear. Otherwise, it’s stacked against you from the start.”

That is a deplorable state of affairs being described by Canon Ward. Can the Premier explain why Canon Clifford Ward would be quoted as saying these things in the newspaper and why he would be saying this about the way the Premier’s government does business in the province?

Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot explain why Canon Clifford Ward would have a particular view on a particular subject, but let me say, and I think he has found out, that all of these judgements are made as rationally and dispassionately, based on need, as is possible in the circumstances.

I understand that he has an application before the ministry that at this point has not been acted upon. As the member knows, the programs for co-operative housing are completely oversubscribed, in spite of the fact that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has put some $3 billion into those programs in the last couple of budgets. They are as objectively and rationally done as possible.

I think the message has to go forward to him, to the member and everybody else that it does not matter who one is. They are done as objectively as possible, with no fear or favour. Clearly that is the rule for action in this government.

Mr B. Rae: Canon Ward does not feel that way and perhaps one could try to find out why he does not feel that way.

The final supplementary I have for the Premier is this: Canon Ward told me that the money that he used for political contributions came exclusively from rent income from houses nearby St Hilda’s Towers. It now turns out that one of those houses is in fact being rented by a member of the Minister of Housing’s staff, which in turn means this money is being turned over and recontributed back to the Liberal Party.


Mr B. Rae: That is exactly what is happening. My question for the Premier is this: Would he agree to refer any of the charitable contributions made by St Hilda’s Towers to the public trustee, so that we can see just what the extent of this giving is?

Hon Mr Peterson: Absolutely, I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. I think that he should look at these matters. Presumably it is a charity, presumably it has a charitable number and he should look at it and draw his own conclusions. Absolutely, it should all be there for the public to see. If my honourable friend has any allegations he can substantiate, as opposed to just drawing some conclusions that are ill-founded on fact, then he should do so as well.


Mr Brandt: My question is for the Premier as well. At a time of tremendous concern and apprehension in the Essex area, there are mixed signals coming from his government in connection with the level and the type of assistance that might be provided.

On one hand, there is the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) and also the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr Mancini), who is the member for Essex South, indicating sympathy for the amount of assistance that will be required. On the other hand, there is the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell), who indicates that he is limited as a result of the crop insurance plan and the amount of assistance that may be forthcoming.

I would say to the Premier that at the time of the drought that was experienced last year, the livestock producers did in fact receive $12 million, in addition to their crop insurance, when they had a particular problem. Now we have the vegetable growers and the fruit growers who have a very serious problem. In addition to that, we have the problem that it is now impacted in Essex South.

Is the Premier’s government prepared to make a commitment to do something over and above the normal one-to-one dollar commitment that is made by governments in cases like this?


Hon Mr Peterson: I may be wrong, but I think that is the exact same question I was asked just a couple of moments ago by the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, and my answer to him is exactly the same. Obviously, we look at that situation with great concern. I expect we will be responding quickly on the basis of all of the facts; I expect that will be this week, on the basis of the determinations by the minister.

I am aware of the fact that there is some damage to crops. At this moment we do not know the full extent of that. As my honourable friend is quite well aware, you can have damage to crops from flooding, drought, pestilence, other kinds of weather; hail, for that matter. As it is qualitatively or substantively different, how should our relief be structured, in terms of buildings, in terms of farm land lost, or whatever?

As a former minister of the crown, the honourable member will be aware that his government was involved in responding to a number of natural disasters. They responded generously, with the support of this House, as this government will do. But do not deny us the opportunity to look objectively at all of the facts and the extent of the damage. I can say to my honourable friend that we will be doing that and responding appropriately.

Mr Brandt: The municipalities in the area have already designated the area as a disaster zone as a result of the devastation they have been experiencing.

The Premier indicated that my question was simply a reiteration of that which was previously asked. The answer I am looking for is some degree of flexibility over and above that which was provided for in the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell), who indicated that nothing more than a dollar-to-dollar kind of contribution would be made as result of the disaster designation and as a result of the limitations that are provided for under the legislation he work s under, and also the problem of crop insurance.

Is the Premier prepared to undertake a commitment to this House that he is flexible beyond the one-to-one dollar? That is all I am asking for.

Hon Mr Peterson: The answer is that we will be generous, we will use the best judgement possible in the circumstances and we will solicit his advice in this matter as to how to do it when he, too, has determined all the facts.

I find it mildly curious that both of my friends opposite stand up and tell me to break the rules, when day after day they tell me we should be following a certain set of rules. Now they both stand up and ask me to break the rules and be flexible and use their particular judgement in the circumstances. I find that mildly curious, given their varying positions on these varying matters from day to day.

Mr Brandt: When the Premier breaks the rules to benefit the people of Ontario, I see nothing wrong with that. It is breaking the rules to benefit individual members in this House that is wrong, if he wants to get into that.

All we are asking for is that when the Premier’s cabinet meets on Wednesday he will be reasonable and flexible, recognizing that he is not breaking any rules if he increases the subsidization of Ontario to three-to-one or four-to-one, if it is justified after he has looked at all of the facts.

All we are asking is: Will the Premier draw some distance between the position of his government and the position taken in the statement by the Minister of Agriculture and Food that there is no additional money available for the farmers of that area as a result of their perhaps not having adequate crop insurance? We are asking him to separate himself from that statement. That is all.

The Speaker: Thank you. The question has been placed.

Hon Mr Peterson: We will be reasonable, we will be flexible, we will be generous and we will solicit the member’s advice on this matter. He has just asked me to contribute on the basis of three-to-one or four-to-one, depending on the facts, although he is not sure of them. When he does have a handle on the facts --

Mr Brandt: Is the Premier?

Hon Mr Peterson: No, I am not sure of them, and that is why we are waiting. If my honourable friend does have a handle on the facts and he knows what it should be, I solicit his advice, because he is always thoughtful and well studied in his views on these matters.

The Speaker: New question.


Mr Brandt: My next question is to the Premier.

The Speaker: Very good.

Mr Brandt: It is with respect to a question of double taxation. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), who sits beside the Premier, will probably have a great deal of input into the decision with respect to the previous series of questions that were asked in connection with the problems in Essex South.

I would ask the Premier if he thinks it is justified for the people of this province to be paying double taxation on a particular program in the amount of some $400 million, and probably well in excess of that. Does he think that is proper and appropriate? If he is looking for money to pay for Essex South and for the fruit and vegetable growers, I think I have found it for him.

Hon Mr Peterson: This is obviously a trick question and the one most capable of handling that is the Treasurer.

Hon R. F. Nixon: If the member knows where we can pick up an extra $400 million, perhaps he should proceed.

Mr Brandt: I am going to proceed on the basis of the Treasurer’s announcement, when he did not clarify to the people of this province that he was going to be collecting Ontario health insurance plan premiums for a period of time that would overlap, as of 1 January 1990, with the collection of the new payroll tax.

According to the estimates we have taken, since there will be double charges during the early months of 1990, he will collect an additional $400 million which he has not owned up to, in terms of that amount of money, to the people of Ontario. Will he agree that this double taxation is in fact the reality and it is going to happen?

Hon R. F. Nixon: As the member knows, the imposition of premiums to pay for at least part of our OHIP program was a decision taken by the honourable member’s government, I guess even before he was elected. It was our view at the time that the premium method of paying for medicare was inappropriate and that it should be universal and accessible, and that is why we have decided to abolish the premiums.

In order to do that, there is going to be a transition phase in which, in order to properly maintain a cash flow to the doctors and the hospitals, it is essential that there not be a hiatus in these payments. But I can assure the member that the statement I made to the Legislature, particularly involving small business, is that employers’ payments do not come into force by way of a requirement unt11 April. It is going to be a convenience for them and we feel that the appropriate transition between premiums and the process involving the employer health tax is one that is going to be fair and equitable.

Mr Brandt: While one member of the Liberal Party is applauding, let me just say, in connection with the response the minister has given me, that what he talks about in terms of a transition period and of being fair is in fact collecting from the taxpayer twice for the same service. He is going to be collecting OHIP premiums at the same time as he is introducing a new payroll tax.

I do not want to revisit history in terms of the philosophical reasons for the changes he has made. The reality is that he is hitting the taxpayer twice with these two separate programs, the amount of which is going to be something in excess of $400 million -- and I would not be at all surprised if it will be closer to $500 million -- in double taxation. Does the Treasurer think that is right, justified and proper?

Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member forgets the basic facts. The decision means that beginning 1 January 1990 individuals will not have to pay the premium, so they are not going to be double taxed. As a matter of fact, there will be $1 billion left in the pockets of the taxpayers, including the pockets of the honourable member himself, whose employer pays 100 per cent of the cost of his medicate coverage.


Mr Kormos: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. For the last week he has been asked some very specific questions about his willingness to participate in the drought relief program for fruit and vegetable growers in the province. He has danced around the issue on each and every opportunity he has been given to address it.

We have a whole bunch of apple growers and other farmers sitting right here in this Legislature, representative of farmers, fruit and vegetable growers across the province, who want to know why the minister thought it was good enough to participate in a $12-million drought relief program for livestock producers but why he will not spend a penny to assist these good farmers who suffered significant losses in the--

The Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon Mr Riddell: The honourable member is referring to two different programs. The livestock drought assistance program was a jointly funded program right from the very beginning. The reason that program was introduced was to prevent basic herd reductions, which would take years and years to build up if ever the farmers decided to deplete the basic herd.


The crop drought assistance program was announced at the time of the last federal election, I repeat, with no consultation on the details of the program, no consultation about the cost of the program with the province. My question to the member is: Why would we pick up the tab for a federal election promise?

Mr Kormos: The fundamental question comes down to this: We are looking at people right here in this Legislature who are in danger of losing those farms if the appropriate assistance is not forthcoming. Once again, why is the Minister of Agriculture and Food not prepared to assist these people to any extent?

He has made that quite clear. He should tell them now why he is not prepared to give them drought assistance at the time they so very seriously--

The Speaker: Thank you. That is the third time the member has asked the question.

Hon Mr Riddell: The program the member is referring to is a federal program, announced by the federal government at the time of the last federal election, and I fully suspect and hope that the federal government will live up to its commitment. I just cannot believe the federal government would make a promise and then fail to carry out the promise it made.

Mr Brandt: I want to raise a question with the Minister of Agriculture and Food on this same point. The minister, as well as the Premier (Mr Peterson), has repeatedly said that the only reason Ontario is not going along with this program is that it was announced as a program of relief for these particular farmers during the last election. I do not see what makes that so wrong. The need is there; the co-operation of other provinces is already in place. The minister stands alone in resisting a program that will help the fruit and vegetable growers of this province. The minister ought to be ashamed of himself. Does he not care about the farmers?

Hon Mr Riddell: I would dearly love to take the time to talk about all the assistance we have provided the farmers over the last four years--


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Riddell: --assistance that is 100 per cent more than the previous administration offered the farmers before we took over.

On the crop drought relief program, once again I want to refer to a news release that was put out by the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council, which consists of a number of commodity groups including the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.

“A clear commitment was made by federal politicians last autumn that assistance would be provided to compensate farmers to a level of 87 per cent of normal crop yields. Now we are hearing clear signals that much of the money will not come unless the provincial governments agree to pay half.” Now listen to this, Mr Speaker, right in the press release: “This was certainly not part of the original commitment made by Ottawa.”

I also have to say that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture agrees with the stand we are taking.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Brandt: I want to tell the minister a simple economic fact of life. Any time you can get a partner to participate in an assistance program, you usually welcome that assistance.

If the minister has to make adjustments in his budget, if he has to find some other way to accommodate the needs of the fruit and vegetable growers, why does he not do that? The minister is standing behind a whole series of statements that are factually incorrect, one of which is that there was no consultation. On 7 July, the assistant deputy minister of the ministry indicated to the commodity council that at that particular time the ministry had in fact been consulted by the federal government with respect to this program. Why does the minister not simply move on it instead of hiding behind a bureaucratic wall that is unnecessary? He should assist the farmers, make the adjustments in his program, and do what is right for a change.

Hon Mr Riddell: The deputy minister did not make any kind of statement that has not been public knowledge for some period of time. When my people were involved back at the time, when they were even talking about a program to continue on with the special grains program that the federal government introduced the previous two years, they simply said to my people, “How could a program be designed?”

Then, before our people knew anything about it, at the time of the last federal election they announced a program, a $850-million program which was never mentioned in any prior consultation; the details of the program were never announced and the costs of the program were never discussed with the provincial government. But it just so happened that they wanted to make an impression at the last federal election, so they made this $850-million commitment, with absolutely no provincial government involvement. I suggest--

The Speaker: Thank you.


Mr Owen: I have a question for the Attorney General. The tradition of Queen’s Counsel in the legal profession is a long and honourable one in Britain. There, those who have distinguished themselves in their careers before the courts have been designated Queen’s Counsel, because of their reputation and experience. The minister is well aware that that tradition has never been the way in which Queen’s Counsels have been appointed in Ontario, but it has been by a different system. The minister has indicated to the Legislature before that he was going to be changing that system. I am aware that the bill bringing about that change has come about--

The Speaker: The question?

Mr Owen: --in first reading, but could the minister advise the Legislature what the present status is with regard to the proposed changes concerning Queen’s Counsel?

Hon Mr Scott: The bill is before the House and I am very anxious to see it passed. If the two opposite parties will lend their consent, we can pass it on the nod today.

Mr Owen: In the event that the Attorney General gets the co-operation of the opposition to pass the bill today, I wonder if there has been any discussion with regard to the Law Society of Upper Canada and what it would propose to replace the present system, and whether there will be any input requested of the government in any system introduced by the law society.

Hon Mr Scott: In anticipation of the bill, I understand the law society has introduced a medal that it now awards to distinguished lawyers. That, it seems to me, is a highly desirable course of conduct. For my own part, I never understood why an independent bar wanted to come to an Attorney General to ask for honours, but some members of the bar still feel that is an appropriate way to respond.

I hasten to add again that if we could get the support of the two parties opposite, we could pass that bill this very day before suppertime. The New Democratic Party has given its consent. Now may we hear from the Conservatives?


The Speaker: Order.


Mr Hampton: My question is for the Attorney General. A recent detailed investigation and report by the Law Society of Upper Canada recommended complaints of professional misconduct against a lawyer who was recently appointed as the chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission by this government. However, the chairman of the discipline committee at the law society overruled the special report.

Is the Attorney General not concerned that the law society is ignoring the public interest in this question by ignoring what its own investigation department and its own special counsel recommended? Is the Attorney General also not concerned that someone he has appointed as chairman of the securities commission would have these recommendations brought against him?


Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member will recall, in my absence, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) was asked this question on 11 July. He gave an answer; I have read his answer; I think is answer is right.

An hon member: What was it?

Hon Mr Scott: Don’t try to sandbag me; I read this stuff.

Mr Hampton: I am not concerned that the minister reads it; I am concerned that he knows what to do with it.

Just to make sure the Attorney General has read the material, the answer from the Treasurer was that the law society is a completely independent, self-governing body.

One of the benchers at the law society, as a member of the governing body, has asked for this report on this situation. He was refused.

The Attorney General is supposed to be the guardian of the public interest. He has the capacity to ask for that report and to ensure that the public interest is being protected and that things are being done properly.

The Speaker: The question?

Mr Hampton: Is he, as Attorney General, going to act in the public interest on this question and demand that report?

Hon Mr Scott: As the Treasurer explained to the honourable member last week, the law society has its own bylaws. If it is a breach of confidentiality to disclose a report to one bencher, it is a breach of confidentiality to release it to another. I am a bencher and I presume I would be dealt with in the same way.

The honourable member is a member of the law society. Why does he not get off his hind legs and do something about this?


Mr Eves: In light of the absence of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), I have a question for the Premier.

Over the last several months the issue has been raised many times in this Legislature, of individuals throughout Ontario, but specifically northeastern and eastern Ontario, being unable to get radiation treatment with respect to cancer treatment.

I have a letter from Dr Goss, who is the head of medicine at the Sudbury cancer clinic. It is addressed to Dr Duncan, who is the chief of radiation oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital. He points out the instances of two women -- two of some 500 to 700 people, I might add -- from northeastern Ontario who are having difficulty getting radiation treatment at Princess Margaret.

One is a 75-year-old woman who has Hodgkin’s disease. She has been told that although she has a very curable disease, she cannot expect to receive radiation treatment for three to four weeks.

The other is an instance of a 37-year-old female who also has Hodgkin’s disease and who received a month of radiation treatments and then was told on May 15 that she would have to wait until at least July 17, some two months later, before she could receive her next series of treatments.

The Speaker: And the question?

Mr Eves: The doctor goes on to say that these people have potentially curable diseases and he finds it very unacceptable that these patients cannot get treatment. Does the Premier find this sort of standard of level of care acceptable, and if not, what is he going to do about it?

Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend raises two particular cases. Let me say that I would be very happy to ask the minister to look into those. As I am sure he understands, it is impossible for me to respond and make a medical judgement in this House, not knowing any more about the cases than he tells me and not being a doctor.

I think the Minister of Health would tell my honourable friend that the judgements are made by the medical profession as to the severity of the situation. He will be aware that the ministry is spending an enormous amount of money on cancer treatment facilities in Princess Margaret, north London, Hamilton and other places, trying to upgrade those facilities. If there are errors of judgement or things that are not correct in particular cases, I would certainly be happy to ask the minister to review them.

Mr Eves: This is not an isolated incident or two isolated incidents. These are mere examples of some 500 to 700 people from northeastern Ontario who are having great difficulty receiving radiation treatment. They used to go to Princess Margaret and now cannot go because it has cut back 20 per cent of its treatment due to the fact that it has a shortage of radiotherapy technologists.

Dr Duncan, in his letter back to Dr Goss, says:

“You will understand that the inability to provide a reasonable standard of care has been a source of great anguish to all of the staff in the department of radiation oncology. We understand that it does also introduce great difficulties into the practice of other physicians and surgeons. We have to acknowledge that these delays may be detrimental to our patients.”

He then goes on to talk about the shortage of radiotherapy technologists at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Speaker: Question?

Mr Eves: I understand there is a shortage of these people. We have suggested to the Minister of Health on several occasions, as indeed did the Ontario Nurses’ Association, that an independent health manpower institute be set up and funded by the government so we can look at these long-term planning needs--

The Speaker: Do you have a question?

Mr Eves-- or such an idea or concept of this been suggested in--

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Peterson: I would have to know more about my honourable friend’s ideas in this regard, but let me say that I will certainly discuss any ideas he has with the minister responsible.


Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I have had a number of phone calls and letters about the farm tax rebate. Recent newspaper reports have indicated that some rural townships have expressed concern that announced changes to the farm tax rebate will impose hardships on them in collecting taxes. Does the minister agree with this contention and will he comment on whether that is in fact the case?

Hon Mr Riddell: The changes to the farm tax rebate should not make it more difficult for municipalities to collect taxes. Those who farm as a livelihood will continue to receive 100 per cent of their taxes paid. For those whose rebates are reduced, the reduction will be in proportion to their income from nonfarm sources, an income which should certainly allow them to pay their taxes.

Mr Tatham: Will these changes to the program result in any decrease in provincial subsidies to municipalities?

Hon Mr Riddell: The farm tax rebate program pays rebates directly to the farmers; they do not go to the municipalities. The changes to the program will not result in a decrease in provincial subsidies to municipalities. It is important to remember that the government will pay $140 million this year to farmers across the province for farm tax rebates. That is considerably more than the $90 million paid out to farmers before the administration changed in this province.


Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services with regard to the James and Phoebe Lauber family of Pontypool, Ontario, and their 19-year-old son who has long suffered from degenerative bulbar palsy and has lost control of all his bodily functions this last while. I am sending across a copy of Kevin’s care plan to the minister. He will see that Kevin’s care is not just demanding; it is all-consuming for the Laubers.

When Kevin became 19, the 55 hours of respite care the Laubers secured from the ministry dropped to only 24 hours. Despite the physical, emotional and, I must say, financial exhaustion of the Laubers, adult protective service workers have been unable to get a further 24 hours of respite care from the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Why must such families experience a traumatic decline in available support services when their children pass the 18th year? Why would the minister not at least allow the Laubers an additional 24 hours of respite care in dealing with their son?

Hon Mr Sweeney: As the honourable member is aware, we have different program resource bases for children and adults. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the reasons, of course, is that children usually have no sources of resources for themselves and therefore have to depend upon assistance from one level of government or another, whereas adults usually have income from other sources.

In this particular case, I do not know whether that is the truth or not. I am not personally aware of the details. I thank the honourable member for providing me with the background and I will certainly look into it.


Mr Allen: I thank the minister for that. He must be aware of the difficulties faced by families like the Laubers, which are truly heart-rending as they knock on government doors and are denied on a number of fronts. For example, the Laubers have been denied some kind of support because Kevin is adopted. There is no money to do home renovations for a live-in nurse. Even if there were, they are told that they would have to sell their present home because it is not appropriate. Despite a $5-an-hour job, Mr Lauber has to pay 25 per cent of all medical supplies under the assistive devices program and so on.

I presume the minister wants Kevin Lauber to be cared for at home rather than in a more expensive, less caring institutional setting. Will the minister give any further specific suggestions to his initial answer as to how he proposes to make that happen?

Hon Mr Sweeney: As a general rule, the honourable member is correct; we do prefer to support families to take care of their disabled family members at home. However, from time to time, in some cases we are faced with a request for 24-hour care-nursing care that goes on 24 hours a day and requires three nurses and three shifts seven days a week, and of course other supports as well. In cases like that, where it would be very costly to provide that kind of service at home, we attempt to sit down and work with the family to try to find a more appropriate way of providing service to that family member.

But the member is correct; if it is reasonable -- and of course he would agree with me that “reasonable” is always a difficult word to define, as it depends upon individual circumstances -- to provide the family with support, then we certainly attempt to do so. If the request is beyond our reasonable capacity, then we attempt to find an alternative. In this particular case, I am going to have to see which of those two situation applies here.


Mr McLean: My question is for the acting Solicitor General, who no doubt is aware that the Ontario Provincial Police probe into alleged voting irregularities in Tiny township was launched at the same time as a similar investigation into voting irregularities in Wasaga Beach. Fraud charges have been laid in connection with proxy voting irregularities in Wasaga Beach in its municipal election. Many residents of Tiny township want to know the outcome of the OPP investigation into their municipal election.

Can the acting Solicitor General outline the outcome of the OPP investigation into the alleged proxy voting irregularities in Tiny township during the fall election of 1988?

Hon Mr Scott: I cannot answer my honourable friend’s question except to observe that not all investigations into voting irregularities take the same amount of time to accomplish. I will be glad to inquire into the state of this investigation and let the honourable member know.

Mr McLean: Because that has taken a very long period of time, this is one of the questions I would like to find out about. Why are the ballot boxes still in the Tiny vault, as ordered by the police on 19 December, and never opened? Has there been a coverup here or what is going on with regard to this investigation?

Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member is getting the New Democratic Party disease when he mentions “coverup.” The ballot boxes are in custody so that nobody will put any more ballots in them.


Mr Chiarelli: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions concerning the unfortunate circumstances in the Ottawa area and the Coulter group of companies. People in Ottawa and district are very seriously concerned about the situation. I wonder if the minister can give the House an update.

Hon Mr Elston: I am pleased to provide as much information as I can at the moment. We are continuing our efforts to review the various transactions to see exactly what the status of invested funds is. Indeed, it is an unfortunate set of circumstances that has led to this series of events, but I can tell the honourable gentleman that in addition to the receiver who was appointed recently, there has been another court-appointed monitor, so to speak, in the ongoing review, so that the investors’ funds can be seen to be protected.

We, as the government, in our position to review regulatory and other aspects of the dealings, are working in concert with all of the authorities to ensure that funds are protected in the best way possible.

Mr Chiarelli: My supplementary deals with submissions that have been made from time to time by the Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association to the Ministry of Financial Institutions. Is the ministry at this point going to give serious consideration to the submissions that have been made by the association from time to time dealing with tightening up the regulations?

Hon Mr Elston: As we go through the analysis of this particular series of events, there is no question that we will be analysing the act and how it was able to respond to the circumstances, the question of a series of amendments which were proposed some time ago but which were never acted upon. I am not certain that those amendments as proposed then, even if applied to the circumstances we know about now, would have prevented the losses.

From my point of view, one of the important aspects for anyone with money to invest in this jurisdiction or any other is to ensure that he is adequately informed, by the people selling the investment vehicles, of the risk involved. Those people who choose an investment vehicle which has attached to it a premium above what I guess we could call standard investments or insured investments or whatever, ought to be even more assured of the information which is given to them, and in fact have to keep themselves informed of the ongoing credibility of the investment as a return to their equity, to what might be seen otherwise to be much more risky than usual.


Mr Kormos: I have a question of the Attorney General. He is undoubtedly aware of the matter of one Robert Hétu. We are told Hétu entered Ontario’s witness protection program when he testified against his own assailants, Simard and Clement. While on the program, Hétu molests young girls under his assumed name, still participating and under the protection of the witness protection program.

People are outraged that Hétu, a child molester, would continue to be protected. Simard and Clement have been convicted; they are in jail. Why is Hétu still in the program and, quite frankly, why was he not being supervised more thoroughly while he was in the program?

Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, but probably will not say, Hétu entered the program in 1983. When he entered the program, he had not committed any criminal offence and the proclivities which later produced charges in 1989 were not revealed, so he was an appropriate candidate for entry into the program.

The program was not completed when he was charged in 1989 with the offences to which the honourable member refers. The decision was made that we should not breach the agreement that permitted him into the program while those charges were not dealt with.

Mr Kormos: What is particularly shocking is that this man pled guilty in June to four counts of sexual assault on these young girls, was remanded out of custody until October and is still walking the streets. The question being asked is: When is the ministry going to establish set standards for the witness protection program so that the public, the police, the crown and witnesses as well, will know what the guidelines are, what the rules are?

Hon Mr Scott: I know the honourable member has been trying to make hay with this in the press, but there are standards. We require, and have for the last two years, a written agreement to be entered into between the witness and the government before any payments are made. Because Hétu entered the program in 1983, that precaution was not available. It now would be.

What we decided was that when he was subsequently charged -- and he had never been charged before -- three or four years into the program, he should not be forced to abandon all his rights under the program. Surely my honourable friend is not saying that when the government makes an agreement with a witness, it should abandon that agreement at some later date after the witness has done his part but when the government has not.


Mr Cureatz: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. As indicated in my resolution last week -- to which, I might add, a number of Liberal backbenchers gave full support -- l want to follow up and make the inquiry --


Mr Carrothers: Name names.

Mr Cureatz: Well, I have the list and I wish I had more time. There will be another time when I can name names.

I want to tell the minister that in my discussion of the resolution, I brought to his attention the concerns of major power consumers of Ontario, namely the large industries across the province, directing concern to the ministry that they are worried that Ontario Hydro will not be in a position in the near future to supply the needed electricity.

This being the case, it means that a number of those industries will not be able to expand, and as a result, provide all-important jobs for Ontario. Is the minister not concerned about the possibilities of those industries not being able to expand and therefore not creating more jobs in the province?

Hon Mr Wong: First, let me say that Ontario’s electricity system is being run on a very sound basis. As I indicated last week, a mix of both demand and supply options is necessary if we are going to be successful in meeting the supply and demand needs of this province. I might indicate that the parallel generation policy that I announced on behalf of the government last week helps to go an important step along the way in taking this province from here to the year 2010 in terms of meeting its electricity needs.

Mr Cureatz: As I indicated in the various supplementaries over this last session, we are concerned. The minister keeps saying time and time again that he is going to be waiting until Ontario Hydro comes forward with its demand-supply options study. Is the minister going to be able to advise this Legislature, when we come back for the fall session, where the next major power source is going to be and whether he is going to institute a kind of environmental banking in anticipation of making that decision?

Hon Mr Wong: As I have indicated to the honourable member before, this fall, in September or October, Ontario Hydro will be presenting to the government and then the public, its preferred plan. When the public and the government have had an opportunity to fully analyze this plan, then of course we will be in a position to determine the best course of action to take.


Ms Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. I commend the minister for belatedly expanding service at selected driver examination centres in Ontario, including Saturday testing at some centres, to meet the large increase in the number of road tests requested in recent years. However, part of that increase is due to the recent requirement that all persons over 65 involved in an accident of any kind must be retested.

Not only does this discriminate against all seniors, but it imposes a severe hardship on them because access to the examination centres is not always easy for seniors in rural areas or for those with disabilities. Many find it difficult to prepare for the written test without assistance in updating their knowledge of the Highway Traffic Act.

Will the minister review the law requiring retesting for all seniors after an accident of any kind in order to target retesting of all persons involved in accidents of a serious nature, while retaining the requirement that all drivers must be--

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Fulton: I appreciate the question from the member for Beaches-Woodbine and her components in her preamble. She may remember that my colleague the member for Willowdale (Mr Matrundola) raised a very similar issue here some time ago. I think, though, she is slightly incorrect; where someone over 70 is involved in an accident and is deemed to he partially responsible, the person is then called in for retesting. It is not automatic at the age of 65.

Ms Bryden: The ministry gave out the information yesterday when we phoned them that it was automatic for people over 65, so I think the minister should inform his ministry what the law is and what the practice is.

I understand that some municipalities and senior citizens’ organizations are providing courses of instruction for seniors to assist them in preparing for retesting when required. Could the minister provide some financial incentives for the development of such courses as part of its drivers’ re-education program?

Hon Mr Fulton: I would be curious to know who was answering the phone yesterday, but we are always reviewing our programs with respect to drivers at every age, recognizing, as the Minister without portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson) has brought to our attention on a number of occasions, the particular needs of seniors. In many cases we have made special arrangements to accommodate them. The member would be aware that we are very much involved with a review of driver licensing and the manner in which people get on to our roads and highways.


Mr Sterling: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation as well. At the end of this year the Canadian Pacific Railway is planning to abandon a railway line which goes approximately from Carleton Place through the township of Goulbourn, the city of Kanata and into Ottawa. Has his ministry done anything to look at the feasibility of providing or entering into some kind of an arrangement whereby the people of the Ottawa-Carleton area would have a system similar to the GO train which the province supports in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area?

Hon Mr Fulton: The member for Oxford (Mr Tatham) was just talking to me about the very same subject of rail line abandonment. The member is aware that we have an interministerial committee of three or four ministries which have an interest in the subject and what eventually might be the lines used. Of course, our primary interest is in maintaining transportation services. The member would be aware that we intervene and express our position with respect to each individual abandonment to the federal government.

Mr Sterling: Yes, I am well aware of the fact that the ministry might do that, but in the Ottawa-Carleton area, as the minister well knows, the east-west travelling arrangements on the Queensway are extremely congested at this time. There does not appear to be any other east-west corridor which is available to the residents to get from the west end of Ottawa-Carleton into the centre of the city. This rail line would provide a tremendous opportunity if it were utilized for the transportation of people from their homes into the centre of Ottawa.

Will the minister look at this with a view to the feasibility of supporting a commuter rail tine from Carleton Place, Stittsville, Kanata and Nepean into the centre of Ottawa? Will the minister look at it?

Hon Mr Fulton: The member would be very much aware of the involvement of our ministry financially. Only as recently as last week, with my colleague the member for Carleton East (Mr Morin), we made a further announcement with respect to major roads. He would be aware that we have committed in excess of $340 million in the Ottawa-Carleton region since 12 June in addition to our ongoing support for the construction of the Transitway, which is the second largest transit system in Ontario.

Of course, we have concern when any transportation system is being abandoned or shut down. It is currently a federal responsibility, and until the federal government addresses its problem of Canada’s national passenger network, I am not in a position to do its job.


Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development. The minister will know that the scientific community had asked Ontario for a little over $7 million in order to establish a neutrino observatory in Sudbury. Could the minister explain why the province has not responded to that very reasonable request for $7.2 million, and where the negotiations are at this point?

Hon Mr Fontaine: Last week, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp Board received a letter from this committee and it was asking for $6 million. Then, on the same day, I discussed the matter with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) and they were asking for between $13.5 million and $15 million from the province. All the time during the negotiations we were told verbally that the price would be $7.5 million. So, now I am at a loss.

At my management meeting this morning --

Mr B. Rae: Not as big a loss as it will be if you give it to them.

Hon Mr Fontaine: No, no. I will be phoning the manager of the heritage board to phone Mr May in Ottawa to try to untangle this situation.



The Speaker: Just for the information of all members, I know they would want to join me in welcoming a federal member of Parliament, Ian Waddell, from British Columbia.


Mr Pope: I have a number of petitions, but I will just summarize them.


Mr Pope: I have received a petition signed by 146 different constituents of mine with respect to the pension plan of the employees of the government of Ontario.


Mr Pope: I have also received a petition to keep the drug list for the elderly and the poor the same as it is at present and not to make any changes.


Mr Pope: I have also received a petition, from Nancy Wasilik of Iroquois Falls, with respect to a tax on music and dance lessons.


Mr Pope: I have received a petition with respect to Bill 8.


Mr Pope: I have also received a petition with respect to Inter-City Gas and retroactive increases on the gas rates.


Mr Pope: I have received a further petition, on the deterioration of services at the South Centennial Manor in Iroquois Falls.

I would like to file all of these petitions on behalf of my constituents.


Mr Cousens: I have a petition from residents of my riding as well as Newmarket, Richmond Hill, North York and Scarborough.

“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has continually refused to permit an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, an equitable treatment of future surpluses and a binding arbitration process,

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers.”

I have signed this.


Mr Beer: I have a petition signed by some 30 persons, and it reads as follows:

“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:

“Whereas the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto intends to expropriate or otherwise acquire title to over 100 acres of lands in the midst of the growing community of the town of Vaughan for the purposes of mining clay as part of a waste management system for continuing operations at the Keele Valley Landfill Site; and

“Whereas the Minister of the Environment has by order in council exempted this undertaking from provincial review under the Environmental Assessment Act against the wishes of the residents and businesses in the town of Vaughan; and

“Whereas the Minister of the Environment is aware of grave concerns about Metro’s true intentions for its acquisition of legal ownership of lands in the town of Vaughan; and the potential health and environmental effects of clay mining on these lands; and

“Whereas the Ministry of the Environment has refused or neglected to deal with the concerns of the businesses and residents of the town of Vaughan respecting Metro’s existing and proposed clay mining for the continuation or expansion of waste dumping in the town of Vaughan.

“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to provide funding through cabinet order for those residents and businesses wishing to call evidence before the administrative board considering these matters and to have the Ministry of the Environment subject Metro’s plans to an environmental assessment.”

I have signed it.

The Speaker: It might be the appropriate time to remind members that it is certainly within order to present petitions. It is not necessary to quote all the whereases; we like to have the therefores.


Mr MacDonald: I have a petition with a total of 618 names addressed to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I am presenting this petition today on behalf of the constituents in my riding and neighbouring ridings. This petition applies to the French Language Services Act and I have affixed my signature.


Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a petition to present. There will he a number of my colleagues reinforcing this, hoping that maybe the Liberal government will hear this today.

“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:

“Whereas, chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities at Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years, and

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again in the 1987 election, and

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital; and

“Whereas after four years of unacceptable delay the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan, and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review;

“We demand the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor and give final approval soon, allocate the funding and begin construction.”

This segment of the petition is signed by several hundred residents and there are several thousand more to come.


Mrs E. J. Smith: I have here a petition signed by 100 citizens of Ontario, 20 of whom reside in London in one riding or another, stating:

“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practice their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”


Mr Philip: I have a petition signed by hundreds of people, mostly resident in Windsor, who are upset that the Liberal government is breaking yet another promise. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“We the undersigned beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Whereas the chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities in Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years; and,

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again during the 1987 election; and,

“Whereas the people of Windsor had accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital; and,

“Whereas after four years of unacceptable delay the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review, we demand, Mr Speaker, that the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, give final approval soon and allocate the funding and begin the construction.”

Mr Laughren: I have a petition, mostly from the people in Windsor.

“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:

“Whereas the chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities in Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years; and,

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again during the 1987 election; and,

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promise of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital; and,

“Whereas after four years of unacceptable delay the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review, we demand that the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, give final approval soon and allocate the funding and begin construction.”

Mr Speaker, I have attached my signature to the petition, as well.

Ms Bryden: I have 17 petitions with 168 names, mainly from the Windsor area, expressing anger at the failure of the Liberal government to keep its promise regarding a chronic care hospital in Windsor.

The petition is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and says:

“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Whereas the chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities at Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years; and,

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again during the 1987 election; and,

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital; and,

“Whereas after four years of unacceptable delay the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review, we demand that the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, to give final approval soon, allocate the funding and begin construction.”

Mr Speaker, I have signed my name to this petition and support it.


Mr Mackenzie: I have a petition here to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Whereas chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities at Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years, and

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again during the 1987 election, and

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital; and

“Whereas, after four years of unacceptable delay, the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan, and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review,

“We demand that the government of Ontario fulfil its promise and build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, give final approval soon, allocate the funding and begin construction.”

I have 25 pages with 250 signatures on them. My signature is attached.


Mr Allen: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Whereas tobacco is addictive and harmful and is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada today; and

“Whereas the maximum fine of $50 for selling tobacco to minors has not been increased since 1892; and

“Whereas preventing young people from starting to smoke will have tremendous health benefits because there is little onset of smoking by adults,

“The undersigned call for new laws to stop tobacco sales to minors including (a) greatly increased fines, (b) a ban on vending machines accessible to minors and (c) the revocation of a tobacco licence for retailers who sell tobacco to minors.”

This is signed by a number of persons in the Ottawa region and I have signed it on my own behalf.


Mr Reville: I have a petition addressed to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

“Whereas chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities at Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years, and

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the May 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised once again during the 1987 election, and

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital, and

“Whereas, after four years of unacceptable delay, the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan, and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review,

“We demand that the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, give final approval soon, allocate the funding and begin construction.”

This petition is signed by 260 residents of Windsor and I have signed it as well.

Mr D. S. Cooke: I shall table the balance of the petitions, and the petition is worded as follows:

“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:

“Whereas chronic care patients, staff, doctors and families of patients have had to endure totally inadequate chronic care facilities at Windsor’s ageing and overcrowded Riverview chronic care hospital for many years, and

“Whereas the Liberal government of Ontario promised to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor during the 1985 election campaign, reaffirmed in 1986 by the then Minister of Health, Murray Elston, and promised again during the 1987 election, and

“Whereas the people of Windsor have accepted the promises of the Liberal government at face value and successfully raised more than $11 million towards the construction of a new hospital, and

“Whereas, after four years of unacceptable delay the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan, and the Liberal government are now withholding approval while putting the whole project up for review,

“We demand the government of Ontario fulfil its promise to build a new chronic care hospital in Windsor, give final approval soon, allocate the funding and begin construction.”

Along with the other petitions that have been tabled, the balance brings the total to over 13,000 names.

The Speaker: I might just again remind the members of standing order 31. When presenting petitions, it is not necessary to read all the whereases and the reasons for the petition. However, it is certainly within order to place the demands as worded in the petitions.



Mr Sorbara moved third reading of Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Mr Mackenzie: I would like to make a few comments on Bill 162. I would like to start, if I can -- it will probably be about 10 minutes altogether -- by reading into the record a letter that was sent to the Premier (Mr Peterson) concerning Bill 162 that I think deals with the principle of this bill we are passing.

“Local 1005, United Steelworkers of America, which represents 7,300 members, strongly opposes the Liberal government and the implementation of legislation under Bill 162. The Ministry of Labour, in introducing this bill, has clearly introduced a bill which does nothing for injured workers receiving benefits previous to the legislation and yet severely reduces the amount of benefit rights for injured workers after the bill is passed. We clearly see this as a discriminatory piece of legislation which will have a significant impact on reducing the cost of compensation in Ontario for employers. This legislation, if passed, changes the whole philosophy and intent as introduced in 1914, when the Worker’s Compensation Act was first regulated and again, we emphasize the fact that the original intent was to compensate workers for injury and to reduce the litigation for benefits due to injury. Yet today, after 75 years of struggle, the system now has turned to a ‘Cheap, no-fault insurance system for employers’ which hides behind the policies of the Workers’ Compensation Board and the legislative amendments presently being hailed as ‘reform’ by your Minister of Labour, Mr Greg Sorbara.

“It is clear from this so-called ‘reform’ that the minister’s only concern is that of reducing the ‘unfunded liability’, which presently is estimated to be close to, if not above, $7 billion. If the minister is sincere about reducing this liability, then the onus should be placed where it belongs, back on the shoulders of the employers, who are content in paying low premiums for compensation and do nothing in a positive direction to clean up the workplace and reduce the frequency and severity of accidents workers suffer while working for these employers. It is clear, through the introduction of this legislation, that the minister is concentrating and focusing the amendments to the two areas which are most costly in regards to compensation costs felt by employers when paying their premiums, those being first, the pension rating as covered under section 45 of the act and second, the rehabilitation due to injury.

“It is our position, as the executive of local 1005, USWA, for which we have total membership endorsement, that Bill 162 be withdrawn and that the government listen and pay attention to the concerns as raised by labour, injured workers and injured workers’ organizations in regard to adopting positive reform in the area of workers’ compensation, as opposed to that of the minister, mainly listening and acting on those concerns as raised by employers. We ask the question: What happened to the concerns voiced during the 1985 hearings which were then in place under the amendments proposed through Bill 101?

“It is clear that the Minister of Labour is arrogant in the intent of this legislation, that at the time of the introduction of this Bill 162 he tried to take away, through his amendments, the most fought after and successful change through the hearings of Bill 101, and that was the independent appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Yet due to the public outcry of that issue, the minister withdrew that intent of his bill and restored the intent of the right to appeal within WCAT.


“We call upon you, Mr Peterson, as the Premier of this province to take the appropriate action; that is, to have Bill 162 withdrawn from the floor of the Legislature and address the real reforms for compensation in the province based on the views and concerns of those who either deal with the system or by those presently being compensated by the system that is being administered today within our province by the WCB.

“In support of the above comments, we will also remind you of the fact that this is not only the concern of labour, injured workers and injured workers’ organizations; as well, the Hamilton city council, through the area social services committee for the Hamilton-Wentworth municipality, also adopted and passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Bill 162 as it is presently written.

“On behalf of the 7,300 members of Local 1005 USWA and all those concerned regarding this important issue.”

It is signed by -- they wanted it on the record -- John Martin, Ron Fleet, Tom White, Allan Hodder, Bob Sutton, Bob Smith, George Beattie, Ed Sutherland, Terry Weaymouth, Peter Zafirides and John Balloch. That is the entire executive of Local 1005.

I thought it was worth while putting that out on the record publicly. I know it has gone to the Premier and I know that the Minister of Labour, if he ever read it, got a copy of it as well.

It says clearly what has been a major debate in Local 1005 for some time now and a major discussion among the workers. I doubt if there is a local in Canada that has a more sophisticated and active compensation committee than Local 1005. I would love to have the minister go through the handful of people we know are Liberal supporters in that local -- one of them is a signatory to this letter -- and tell me which one of the Liberal members of that local supports his bill. Obviously, one of them, very active in his party and who is a member of that executive and signed that letter, does not think much of Bill 162.

I might point out that it was not just the Hamilton city council. As a matter of fact, for the record, to the best of my knowledge, we have two New Democrats on it, so most of them are Liberals -- some of them very active -- and Tories. That city council opposed this bill, as did Windsor and Welland. So we had, probably not moving soon enough, a fair response from individual municipalities, as we did from the trade union movement collectively, individually and in very strong statements such as that of Local 1005, as we did from injured workers, injured workers’ organizations and community clinics, legal aid clinics and many other groups that represent workers in Ontario.

This bill we are seeing rammed through here today, the final day of a closure motion, does not guarantee rehabilitation, training and rehiring; an assessment, maybe, but nothing beyond that. It gives even more power to the board. It has a bad dual award system, the meat chart survives -- it goes on and on. I do not intend to reargue the points that have been made in the many months of hearings on this bill before the committee and in this Legislature, but it is clear that this bill does not do justice to injured workers.

If anything good -- and that is a hard word to say -- has come out of this bill at all, it is probably that the unions have started to understand it already. I know that injured workers understand it. They have learned a very bitter lesson. The bitter lesson they have learned is that it does not matter, it does not pay, it is useless to present their arguments, their feelings, their concerns, however just those concerns might be, to this government.

This government, when it comes to workers, simply does not listen. This government obviously was in the hip pocket of business, so far in that it is a wonder it did not choke. Business called the shots on this particular legislation. Some business groups -- not all of them -- were the only groups that supported this legislation, they and the Minister of Labour himself. The day is going to come when the minister will have to answer for the position he has taken.

This bill does nothing to help injured workers. It hurts them. Their organizations, the unions, the clinics, any of those involved in work with injured workers, know they are going to pay a price for Bill 162. Of course we probably have the companies rubbing their hands in glee. They have won another battle with workers.

I would hope that out of all of this we will find a little more, dare I say, honesty in terms of whom the commitment is to. The commitment of the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) is obvious: for business. I wish he would be honest about it.

We heard the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) say the other day that he made no apologies, he was in this House as an elected Liberal and as a cabinet minister to represent and push the interests of business. Who in blazes in this government pushes the interests of workers? It sure as heck is not the Minister of Labour in Ontario.

We have also heard in this debate a number of statements which were totally false. People can say what they want, but I think that lowers the credibility of this chamber generally. We had the argument made that there had been wide consultation. Those arguments were not true and we know that, and the workers know that.

Mr J. B. Nixon: Oh, Bob.

Mr Mackenzie: The parliamentary assistant, who has probably blown his shot at the cabinet, can say “Oh, Bob” all he wants. The fact is that there was no consultation with the groups involved, no consultation with the injured workers. To the Liberals it is a big joke.

Mr J. B. Nixon: You’re the one who’s making the jokes. That’s the problem.

Mr Mackenzie: It is a big joke. Let me tell the member that there are an awful lot of workers, some of them in this chamber, who do not think it is a big joke.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Mackenzie: The other thing that I think is worth putting on record is that not only were there false statements made, misconceptions of this legislation and what this legislation does or does not do, but on top of that, I think we can move from injured workers and ask: What has this legislation done as far as the trade union movement is concerned?

The minister is well aware. He has had his own confrontations with leadership and individuals, as has the Premier. He knows well that the trade union movement in this province knows, yes, that that is what it is all about, the money that business had but workers did not. That is exactly what it is all about.

The unions have also learned a bitter lesson. The bitter lesson the unions have learned is that their word also does not matter. At the same time as we have been having this hassle over Bill 162, we have suggested -- our party has suggested, the labour movement has suggested -- that we present to this House and that we start moving on Bill 208 in an effort to do some of the repair work, the correction work, the safety work that would maybe mean we would not have quite so many workers paying the price in the workplace today; that we would not have, as I think the Ontario Federation of Labour so aptly says, the slaughter in the workplace that we are paying a price for today.

And have we been able to get them to move ahead on Bill 208? No. Maybe we will see it in the fall, if we see it at all. I hope the minister has some gumption. He needs to do something tremendous to return any credibility at all to himself after the sellout of workers in this particular piece of legislation.

I think the unions have learned the same lesson. They came before this minister. They sent small groups, they sent the leadership, they appeared at press conferences, they appeared with petitions, thousands of names, and they got no place. Their suggestions and appeals to take a look at what this bill was going to do to injured workers meant absolutely nothing to this Liberal government. We have learned one bitter lesson, not only the workers and not only the unions. The bitter lesson we have learned is that this is a government that listens to business, but it sure as blazes does not listen to ordinary workers in Ontario.

I think we can say the same thing about some of the legal aid clinics that have worked so hard with workers. They are absolutely disgusted, because their expertise, like the injured workers’ and the unions’ expertise, has been used to try to break through some of the bureaucracy that sometimes gives us problems, or to deal with some new areas, the emerging concern over toxic substances and what has happened, and the material that I think will be coming out very shortly in terms of some of the gold miners’ widows, what really happened, why we got the kind of results we did and why so few of them are being compensated now.

I can tell the minister that these people, these groups which have fought so hard in so many of these battles, some of which are just beginning to start, also know they got absolutely nowhere dealing with this government.

We have to understand, we have to remember. I am darned sure there are a lot of people in the province who are going to remember that what you do not do, what you never do again when it comes to legislation or hoped-for legislation to protect workers in the province, is that you do not trust a Liberal. That is the message that is out there. This government has done it; nobody else. Their word is not worth the paper it is written on.

It is a tragedy today that this is the final day, when so many people were not heard, when so many people oppose it, when we can get almost nobody other than the Minister of Labour to jump up and say, “Hey, this is a good idea.” We are not even hearing the business community, which of course wants it, saying too much. They are afraid to go on the record; they know what it might mean in their own individual plants and operations.


Yet, on this final day, we are with no chance to do anything about if -- not that we wanted to -- and I make no apologies for that, because the bill was not worth changing. When one can do absolutely nothing about it and one has set aside three days in a closure motion, at a time when we have people in a number of countries desperately trying to find a little bit of additional democracy or right of expression, I find it really passing strange that we have this Liberal government in Ontario using closure and deciding that it is going to restrict the rights that ordinary people have in the province. I guess a better word than “strange” would be “sad.”

I certainly have lost all respect for members and ministers of this government and their policies, but that does not count. I suspect, however, that an awful lot of people in this country of ours also have lost respect and that will count, if they remember. That is something we never know for sure, but I think this is going to come back to haunt the minister and the government and I pray that it does.

Mr Pope: I will be summing up for the Progressive Conservative Party in this debate. For the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition and the minister, I will be speaking until 4 o’clock and I gather there is a 45-minute time allocation after that. On behalf of my leader and my caucus, I wanted to put on the record the positions that our party has taken with respect to this legislation and to indicate, of course, as I did in French last Thursday, that the position of our caucus and our party is one in opposition to Bill 162.

When the debate first stated with the introduction of this bill in response to our questions and questions raised in question period, the Minister of Labour indicated that there had been full and extensive consultations leading up to the introduction of this bill. When, as a condition of how our party would vote on second reading, we asked for a list of dates and places of these meetings and of those in attendance, what we got led us to believe that in fact there had not been full and complete discussions, negotiations and consultations leading up to the introduction of Bill 162.

All that came out in the wash and we were then told that it really did not matter, because there would be a chance for a full hearing and for everyone to be heard in the committee hearings that would take place across the province. As we now know, the Liberal caucus and members on that committee were not prepared to allow for everyone to be heard with respect to Bill 162. Out of 622 people who asked to make representations to the committee, I am told 300 were heard. At that point in time, all other delegations were not heard.

Then we heard in clause-by-clause debate the words of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, saying that a more extensive debate could take place in committee of the whole House. Those were her exact words, as quoted by the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) on behalf of our party.

Using the excuse that there would be a fuller, more detailed debate opportunity in committee of the whole House, they of course closed off debate on clause by clause in the standing committee on resources development itself, so this was moved to the House. Then we had a time allocation motion from the Liberal government, which closed off the very thing the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour had promised, which was extensive clause-by-clause debate of this legislation in committee of the whole House. We now have a time allocation clause which will bind us on third reading of this bill.

We started from the position taken by the Minister of Labour that there had been full and complete negotiation and consultation prior to the introduction of this bill and went to a step-by-step denial of opportunity for individuals, groups and even members of this House to participate in the full and open debate on Bill 162.

So lest anyone watching this debate on television or reading reports of it think this is a normal windup of a normal debate on a normal piece of government legislation, it is nothing of the kind. In fact, it is the culmination of a total process, from the very beginning of the introduction of this bill, that has frustrated the rights of the people of this province and the members of this assembly to fully participate and give their points of view on this matter.

As I have said previously, my own experience of six years in cabinet and 12 years as an elected member of this House leads me to believe that in matters involving workers’ compensation, care needs to be taken to indulge in a full, complete and comprehensive series of negotiations and discussions before moving in a manner which could be perceived to be capriciously and arbitrarily affecting injured workers’ rights in this province.

I remember -- and I was asking some of the gallery members who have better memories of this than I have -- that the white paper dated 1981 that was considered by the government of the day, which I was a part of in 1983, was withdrawn when after its presentation, the process leading to legislation was put on hold. The white paper was withdrawn for further consultation as a result of the objections of injured workers’ representatives, labour groups and the general public. That was back in 1983.

I remember full discussions about the response to the Weiler report and to other studies that had been done over the years between 1979 and 1985 when I had the honour to be part of the cabinet of the day. There was full discussion about the reactions, the need to take time and the need to go back to try again to get some consensus for reforms that were needed in the workers’ compensation system.

There is no doubt that this problem of change, reform and improvements to the workers’ compensation system is not uniquely a problem for the current Liberal government; other governments have had to face it. I guess the only thing I can say is that from my recollection, it is a process that the Minister of Labour has to take particular time, attention and concern for in order to make sure that the perception is that it is not being rammed down anyone’s throat and that there has been an opportunity for everyone to have a say.

I know that sometimes that is not done because of legislative timetables and a need to move on reform packages. However legitimate the personal convictions of the minister may be -- and I am not going to sit here and judge those convictions today -- when the perception is out there that there has not been ample opportunity, that it is being proceeded with unjustly and unfairly, then it simply must be withdrawn and we have to go through the process again.

I can remember from my own experience, and it is only one, something called strategic land use planning, which was begun six years before when I was Minister of Natural Resources. It was, in the words of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Natural Resources, an extensive consultation process. When we reviewed the process, we were doubtful, so we had a series of 186 open houses in every part of the province in which the local plans were put out for public comment to various interest groups that could be affected: resource users and those who enjoy the environment and the natural beauty of our province.

We had over 10,000 people who came to those 186 open houses. We then understood that there really had not been the kind of consultation and fair opportunity for everyone affected by this plan to be heard. So we had five regional forums in different parts of Ontario which I attended alone as minister of the day, without staff, without someone there to justify what had been done, to listen to what they had to do. We had 5,000 people out to these public forums in virtually every part of Ontario.

After that, we met directly with the individual interest groups which had spoken out at these meetings and had something to add to the process. I met with them directly, individually and personally, plus we had administrative staff meet with them to review their concerns with the draft strategic land use plans. After that, we had all the competing interest groups in for two days at the Guild Inn in Scarborough for two days of intensive discussion and negotiation on the details of strategic land use planning in Ontario.


The result was a comprehensive package that took over a year to negotiate with those who had a particular interest in this issue in Ontario, and, I think, had a better, more acceptable proposal. Not everyone was satisfied with the detail, but there was a general point of view that through a variety of mechanisms, people had had their say.

I am not saying that is the be-all and end-all in terms of process. I am not here to say that the new policy branch in the Ministry of Labour, which we spent so much money on and which has bumped up the administrative expenses of that ministry -- they have other processes that may in fact work and resolve the concerns of the public. Maybe they do have the answers in a new, better process of getting the public and injured workers’ representatives and groups involved in discussions on this legislation, but my perception is that it has not been done.

My perception, and it is a perception shared by those groups and those injured workers, is that that kind of detailed discussion with the minister has not taken place. There has not been a discussion with employer groups about the tradeoffs and concerns on both sides with respect to how this new, revamped Workers’ Compensation Board will operate. My perception is all that I can operate on because I have received nothing from the Minister of Labour to show me that that kind of process has taken place. I assume that is the reason today that representatives of injured workers and many groups in this province were demonstrating outside this Legislative Building.

There is another thing I wanted to bring to the minister’s attention. I know that he is a busy person. I know that he has a full plate of problems facing him in the Ministry of Labour that he is attempting to address. I remember the days of Bette Stephenson, Russ Ramsay and Bob Elgie. When there was a demonstration outside this building with respect to workers’ compensation, with respect to labour issues, I cannot recall a time -- and I may be wrong -- when the Minister of Labour did not go out and address them.

I recall that some days people were very frustrated with Bette Stephenson and a couple of us used to go out and make sure that she was protected; not that she had to be, but she was a short lady, about five feet, two inches at the most, in a big crowd.

Mr Chiarelli: She could look after herself.

Mr Pope: As my friend said, I think she could look after herself, but we used to go out anyway.

She always went out there and met with the groups. Often they would yell at her and criticize her, but she was there, Bob Elgie was there and Russ Ramsay was there.

I think the Minister of Labour of the day should have been there to talk to the workers, to address them through the PA system and talk to them individually as they were parading around with the signs that indicated their concerns about this bill, demanding that it be withdrawn.

I think he should have been there to listen. I am sure that he has done this in his constituency office and I am sure he has done this on other occasions, but I think that he should have been there, outside on this very symbolic day when we are ending the debate on Bill 162, not having given over 50 per cent of the workers’ representatives and groups in this province a chance to be heard in committee, not having given the members of the opposition a full chance to submit their points of view on this legislation.

I think he should have been there to listen to the workers and what they had to say about this legislation. I was there for 45 minutes and I did not see the minister there. We know that --

Mr Dietsch: You weren’t there.

Mr Pope: If the member is saying that the minister was there, he can rise and correct me right now. I will yield the floor to him. Does he want to correct the record? Go ahead.

Mr Dietsch: I said you weren’t there.

Mr Pope: My friend says I was not there. In fact, I was there from 11:50 to 12:35 or 12:40. I think that is true.

Mr Dietsch: Did I miss that?

Mr Pope: The member must have missed it, either that or he was still in his office. The demonstration took place and I was there when the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition addressed the workers. I said a few words and I talked to individual workers out there who have very specific problems with the existing system, who feel the need for reform and change but who do not think that Bill 162 meets their needs and is reforming the bill in the proper way. Therefore, it should be withdrawn.

I wish the member who was interjecting had taken the time to talk to them and get that flavour himself. Then maybe in the Liberal caucus he could have addressed the Minister of Labour on this issue.

We know that there are fundamental problems in the workers’ compensation system in this province that have to be addressed. The minister knows of the unfunded liability. The 1988 annual report of the Workers’ Compensation Board indicates a continuing unfunded liability problem that will probably exceed in the last financial year $8 billion. He knows that the overall size of actuarial liabilities is $11.7 billion, according to page 21 of the financial report contained in the annual report of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

The minister has said that these proposals in Bill 162 are revenue-neutral. “Revenue-neutral” were the words that I think he used in describing the provisions of this bill. However, we know -- and I say to the minister, I assume the process has not changed -- that when new legislative initiatives and new policies are considered in the policy and priorities board of cabinet an economic impact statement must be provided.

What we asked on second reading on behalf of our party was the tabling of that economic impact statement so that we could review it on the basis of the unfunded liability issue, which we think is one of grave concern to everyone, not only contributors to the workers’ compensation system but workers whose pensions and decisions affecting whose pensions could be in turn affected by the unfunded liability. We would not want that to happen.

The minister said it is revenue-neutral. The minister has not produced the economic impact statements that he produced for the members of cabinet to allow us to review the economic impact of this legislation. Then we find, on page 30 of the 1988 annual report of the Workers’ Compensation Board, the following statement, “No provision has been made in the valuation for potential amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act contained in Bill 162, which is currently before the Ontario Legislature.”

Why would that sentence be in there if the impact of Bill 162 is revenue-neutral? Why would there be that kind of disclaimer in terms of the economic situation of the Workers’ Compensation Board contained in the annual report of the board itself if it is revenue-neutral? Are the amendments that the minister has proposed revenue-neutral’? We have had no clear statement from the minister on that either.

As the member for Mississauga South indicated in committee, we know that the problem facing all Ontarians and this government is the frequency and severity of workplace accidents. In 1987, there were over 300 occupational fatalities in Ontario, that is, deaths arising out of occupational illness and injuries, and 209,255 allowed lost-time claims at the Workers’ Compensation Board, yet only 13,496 injured workers were referred for vocational rehabilitation in all of that year.

We have been saying all along, in consideration of Bill 162, that we are not satisfied with the rehabilitation programs as they now are. We agree with the minister that they have to be changed and improved and we agree that every worker has the right to rehabilitation in Ontario when injured or ill because of a workplace occurrence or situation.

What we want from the minister in Bill 162 is not a guarantee of an assessment but a guarantee of a rehabilitation program. We do not want a guarantee that the local rehab officer of the Workers’ Compensation Board will file a report with the regional office in Sudbury and, at some point in time, that report will be forwarded to Toronto and any recommendations of the local rehab officer will be considered, which is the way the process is working now, at least in Timmins.

We want a statutory guarantee that injured workers will be rehabilitated, that they will be able to obtain vocational and physical rehabilitation, that there will be a statutory commitment which can be relied upon by injured workers that they will be put back in the workforce on a rehabilitated basis, not on the basis of a job guarantee but on the basis of a job guarantee plus a full rehabilitation program which will assist them in making their way in the Ontario of today when they have suffered a setback because of a workplace injury or illness.


In Bill 162 as it is presently going to be rammed through today, we do not see that kind of guarantee that working men and women of this province deserve. We plead with the minister now, at this 11th hour, as this debate is forcibly brought to an end, to provide a statutory guarantee of a rehabilitation program, physical and vocational, for every injured worker in this province.

Very often in the constituency work I do, assessments are done. Too often those assessments talk about self-imposed limits when in fact the injured worker is following the advice of the family physician who is treating him. Too often we see recommendations from local rehabilitation officers for programs of rehabilitation for injured workers that are ignored in Sudbury and in Toronto by those higher up in the rehabilitation section, the vocational retraining section of the workers’ compensation program. Too open we see rehabilitation programs that are absolutely unsuited and in fact are often ludicrous.

I remember a rehabilitation recommendation that asked for a man who had an injured back as a result of a mining accident and an injured foot and leg to be sent from Ramore to Wawa to work in a canoe factory. He was expected to report to work in Wawa at the canoe factory and pay for his own living expenses while he lived in Wawa and his family stayed in Ramore. Too often in northern Ontario and many other parts of Ontario, and perhaps even in this great community, that is the kind of rehabilitation recommendation that is acted upon.

I remember just four months ago an injured worker who had a lung disease, a lung problem, going to the vocational rehabilitation officer in Timmins, who made a recommendation that this worker be taken back for surface work at his full pre-accident, pre-medical-problem wages with no wage loss. That recommendation was overruled in Toronto. They said, yes, the man had a lung condition, he had a disease arising out of his workplace, but he was not disabled enough to merit a rehabilitation program. In the meantime, the employer said, “You can’t come back, because we don’t want to take a chance of you developing silicosis in this mine.” It was not until a threat of a lawsuit that the employer and the local rehabilitation officer and the superiors in Toronto got together and the man was rehired on a surface job at his full pre-accident rate and was not red-circled.

Every injured worker has a right to be employed in this province. They also have the right to be rehabilitated to the degree that they and those whose opinions they depend upon recommend.

The really important issue in this bill, the real weakness in this bill, as the Leader of the Opposition dealt with in the French language last Thursday, is precisely the rehabilitation provisions, which are totally inadequate.

The minister knows full well the difference between a guarantee of an assessment and a guarantee of rehabilitation. There is no point in him standing up here today and trying to say that there is guaranteed rehabilitation in this bill, because there is no such thing. There is a guaranteed two-page report signed by a local rehabilitation officer and that is it.

The minister may feel that there are improvements to the pension provisions, and to some extent he may be right, but the feeling of injured workers and their families and those who advise them and those whose opinions they trust is that in fact they are giving up their lifetime pensions, and their pension provisions, in whole or in part, will depend on the future whim of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

We need a clear legislative statement, by amendment if necessary, by this minister in the 11th hour as a repentance for what he has done in Bill 162. We need a clear indication that the lifetime pensions these workers deserve, arising out of these accidents and workplace conditions, will be maintained.

Those are the two fundamental points our party has spoken on. We believe that the process of this Minister of Labour was flawed in terms of his personal involvement in this bill. We believe the consideration of this bill when it was introduced and its process through various committee stages and back in third reading today was flawed, shortsighted and undemocratic, because so many people, including members of this Legislature, were denied their opportunity to be heard.

We believe it puts the final nail in the reputation of this government as a reform government, a government that is prepared to listen and be open. That is over now. We know that it is prepared on this very important legislation to proceed without consultation and capriciously and against the interests of the people it is hoping to serve.

We know this bill is not the kind of reform of the workers’ compensation system we need. Everyone has concerns that more and more money is going to the administration of the workers’ compensation system and not enough of that money is being diverted to pay pensions and benefits to injured workers in this province. There are too many bureaucrats analysing each other’s actions in the workers’ compensation system and not enough of them analysing the needs of injured workers in this province.

There are too many people writing reports about what WCAT is doing to the board and what the board is doing to WCAT, and not enough people studying what the entire system is doing to workers and their families. There is too much legislation being introduced that benefits the status quo and the bureaucracy of the compensation system in this province and not enough being introduced for the injured workers of this province.

We want to see an end to this bureaucratic morass. We want to see an end to the mindless memos, studies and documentation that is going on between different levels. We want to see an end to files which represent the lives of working men and women in this province that are endlessly lost in transit.

We want to see more energy directed towards quick decision-making for injured workers and their families in Ontario and we want to see a real priority not on the system and not on the status quo of the system, but on the results of illness and accident arising from the workplace. That, we believe, is true reform, and if it takes a royal commission to direct the proper focus of attention on workers’ compensation reform in Ontario, let’s have it.

But please, in the interim, reform the bureaucracy and the paper system that is delaying so many critically important decisions for injured workers and their families. Please end the mindless confrontation between medical experts hired by the board and their outdated medical opinions and the medical experts who are actually working with injured workers in Ontario.

I ask the minister on his final day of consideration of Bill 162 to truly reform the system in the way he knows it has to be reformed. Bring in a proper piece of legislation, enter into the proper series of negotiations. Will the Minister of Labour please keep his mind and his attention and his entire focus on injured workers and their families and how they can he brought back to the workplace fully rehabilitated, fully prepared to contribute again to society, as they can do? We have confidence in the injured workers of this province that given that kind of opportunity, they can fulfil that promise that is still theirs. They can still make their commitment to our society, still make their contribution to our society.


We ask the minister to please consider these pleas as third reading is upon us, make these changes and bring a better piece of legislation back before the members of the assembly. If he does that, if he allows us to have our say, members from all parties, I know he will get the degree of nonpartisan support and the degree of credit, I must say to the minister, that he will have been entitled to.

But today is a dark day. This is a bill that is being forced through the Legislature over the wishes of those being affected, with so many unanswered questions that are going to affect the injured workers and the people of Ontario.

Please withdraw this bill.

Ms Bryden: I have spoken to a great many injured workers and other persons in the labour force over the past year who feel very strongly that Bill 162 is a backward step for workers in this province. They feel it will deny them fair and adequate compensation for injuries and illnesses arising out of the workplace.

Many of them have told the government in the public hearings and in petitions, about their anger at the thrust of this bill, which they say is against workers and for employers who want to reduce their compensation obligations to injured workers and their families.

Injured workers have also demonstrated in front of the Legislative Building on many occasions since this bill was introduced a year ago. Today there were over 300 of them there from various parts of the province, telling the government that the bill must be withdrawn and replaced by a fair workers’ compensation act.

We in the New Democratic Party agree with them strongly. Never before has such a one-sided amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act been introduced in this House. The changes proposed in this bill expose the fact that this so-called Liberal government is nothing more than a puppet for the employers. The Minister of Labour is nothing more than a minister serving employers who wish to save money on their compensation obligations.

The shocking record in this province of deaths and illnesses arising out of the workplace highlights the fact that many employers are not establishing and maintaining adequate health and safety standards in their establishments. Their negligence is the cause of many of the deaths and illnesses occurring in the workplace. They must not be allowed to reduce their contributions to adequate compensation. They must not be allowed to reduce their incentive to produce a safe and healthy workplace.

Adequate compensation includes full medical compensation. It includes disability pensions and payments to the wives and children of workers who are killed on the job. It includes full indexation of disability pensions and survivors’ benefits. It includes full rehabilitation of injured workers. It requires reinstatement by the employer in the job held by the injured worker or in a job suited to his abilities after the event. It requires retraining if no suitable job is available.

Injured workers do not ask to be injured, but they are entitled to the fullest compensation when they are unfortunate enough to be injured or to acquire an illness in the workplace. If these costs of full compensation are not completely covered by workers’ compensation, employers are getting a cheap ride on their obligation to compensate injured workers and their families. Under the legislation the workers are required to give up the right to sue their employers, but they are getting less in just and fair compensation as a quid pro quo.

The way this bill has been dealt with in the House illustrates the Liberal government’s arrogance. It illustrates that it does not care about consultation with persons whose lives are seriously affected by a bill. It does not listen to deputations. It uses the guillotine of closure to cut off debate, and it adds a new dimension to closure by permitting any amendments to be introduced up to the day before the committee stage starts.

The motion also went on to say that all amendments not dealt with by the end of the third day would be deemed to have been moved and could be voted on without any debate at all. This is the most extreme form of closure which has ever been used in this House. It leaves a terrible precedent on the record books. If this can be done with one bill, it can be done with many. It can be done to cut off debate on amendments which may be very far-reaching. It can be done to take away human rights.

We must not allow this kind of closure to be used. We must not allow closure to be used at all, except in extreme circumstances, when it can be demonstrated to the Speaker that the rights of the minority as well as the rights of the majority have been respected. Only then, if there is proof of some sort of obstruction of the House that is preventing business continuing, may a closure motion be considered under our rules.

This time we have a closure motion which is called a time allocation motion. In my opinion, the two are the same thing. I know the Speaker has ruled this motion in order, but I feel it was not proved that there was any obstruction of the House, and I feel the time to deal with the amendments has been completely inadequate.

Some of the amendments were introduced before the closure motion came in but they had not been adequately debated, and a goodly number of other ones were introduced after the time allocation motion had been introduced. Some of them were correcting errors in the drafting, which indicated that the act had been hastily put together by the drafters. That is another reason why it was the wrong time to impose closure. Some of the amendments were perhaps improvements in the act, but it is much too early to say how they would work out or what the debate on them would reveal.

If this government wants to claim to be a democratic government in a democratic province, it must withdraw this bill and go back to the drawing board. It must bring in a fair workers’ compensation bill. It must allow it to be debated under the rules of a democratic Legislature, which recognizes the rights of all parties and members to express their views. This bill has not received this treatment and that is the reason why we must vote against it.


Mr B. Rae: I hasten to say that I have made this speech and many of these arguments in the House before at earlier stages of the bill and make no apology; if anything had changed I might be in a position to make some new arguments. But I will have some new things to say about the change that has taken place at the heart of the Liberal Party since 1982, 1983 and 1984.

I am delighted that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) is in the House, because he was one of the members of the original committee which dealt with the Weiler report back in the early 1980s. He had some very interesting things to say about the need to preserve the concept of a pension for life. The minister no doubt will remember the things he said as a member of an earlier Liberal caucus, when the House was considering this particular set of reforms.

Before I come in some detail to those comments made by the Liberal caucus at that time, I do want to set the framework for this discussion, because it is a measure of enormous importance for the people of this province. About 500,000 people a year are in contact, in some way, shape or form, with the Workers’ Compensation Board, in the sense that there is an accident report that goes to the board. Somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 people receive benefits from the board for lost time because of accidents they have had. About 100,000 people on pension receive benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board. If I can add one particularly grim statistic to the facts I put before the House, it is that on every working day in Ontario, an injured worker loses his life.

This is the context that has led the reform of workers’ compensation to hit the very forefront of our political life. But it is more than just numbers I have outlined for the House; it is also a question of the basic facts of life, which we all know. Perhaps I can outline them for members, just to remind them of what it is all about.

Working for a living in an industrial society is dangerous business. Looking at the history of industrial life in this province over the last 100 years, one will find some of the most moving accounts of what it means to work, and work hard, in many of our industries, and how dangerous, dirty and unhealthy a lot of those jobs are.

We have made reforms slowly and always in response to political pressure, but members should consider for a moment the fact that 30 years ago we had workers in the asbestos industry working directly for good wages in factories, mills and mines around Ontario at jobs which literally took their lives. This is not something that took place 100 or 200 years ago. We do not have to read accounts of various industrial disputes in the heart of industrial England to understand these things. We simply have to look around us.

My colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) will know that the smelter in Sudbury was literally a cancer factory. We now know that we -- when I say “we,” I mean our industrial society and the company; in this case, Inco -- subjected workers in that mill in the sintering plant to conditions, in terms of levels of exposure, which caused lung and throat cancer. The Workers’ Compensation Board finally has recognized that that level of cancer is directly related to that work, to that industrial process.

My colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope), who has just finished speaking, will know from the meetings he has had with the women in Timmins that they have put together a most marvellous and moving campaign on behalf of themselves and their families in recognition of what happened to their husbands, who died suddenly because of an accident, because of a collapse of a mine, because of a fall of loose, because of an explosion in a mine; or else at age 45 or 50 they were told by their doctor they had lung cancer, silicosis, emphysema or some condition of the lung that we believe, they believe and increasingly, slowly, workers’ compensation boards around North America are recognizing relate to their work.

We have -- and I have read in this House and will read on another occasion -- the reports from the construction industry every year. We can go over the list of the inquests that have been held each year. What is the pattern in the last couple of years? I can tell members what the pattern is. It is usually younger workers, it is usually immigrant workers and it is usually workers who are working on nonunionized sites in the construction trades around this province who are getting killed.

Again, I am not describing the conditions in some other country or in some other place; I am describing what is happening today. It is because of the fact that work is so dangerous for so many people that an industrial society determined years ago that it was not acceptable to simply rely on the old system of common law justice, if you will, using that term “justice,” or just a common law system. It determined long ago that it was not adequate, and every industrial society, whether it was the United States, Britain or Canada, underwent a similar reform.

That reform dealt with the reality that the legal system prior to the introduction of workers’ compensation was a joke as far as workers were concerned, because you had incredible problems of proof and you had incredible problems of accident recognition. You had incredible defences that were available to employers.

The employer could say: “Well, it wasn’t my fault. It was his fault.” The employer could say, “Well, it wasn’t my fault as an employer; it was the fault of a fellow worker,” or he could say that the worker himself contributed to his own demise by his own activities. It was the conflict between these notions of how the law should work and the realities of industrial life which led to the introduction of workers’ compensation around North America and Ontario.

I have said on other occasions, and I will say again today, that even though that legal system was bad and did not work to the workers’ benefit -- and nobody I know wants to go back in any way, shape or form to that system -- it has to be recognized that in turning to workers’ compensation, a no-fault universal disability plan for workers injured on the job only, workers gave up an important right, the right to sue. They gave up some civil rights. Whenever you give up something and get something in return, that is called a contract. We do not call this an individual contract; we call this a social contract, a contract between workers generally and society.

Workers have given up a lot. They have given up the right to sue and they have given up the right to receive some of the extraordinary awards that we have seen in recent years. We have many cases. I suppose there are five or six cases I have in a year. A widow -- l can tell the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) who I know is very familiar with the construction industry -- came in to see me and she had clear evidence of negligence on the part of an employer. The inquest found clear evidence of negligence on the part of an employer for a collapsing wall.

She lost her husband, she lost their life together, her kids lost their father, and she wanted to know why she could not sue. She wanted to know why she could not get -- and she clearly would have got it; any court would have given it to her -- an incredible settlement, a very generous settlement, because it would have had to. What she got as an individual under workers’ compensation was dramatically less than what she would have received under the common law system.


I had to say to her that the reason she was getting less was that, in a sense, what she had given up, other workers had received. In other words, it was a cheaper form of insurance that she and her husband got, but the benefit of that cheaper form of insurance was that more people were covered and that the general level of benefit of the system was better.

We ought to be able to combine in this day and age a system which does the best of all worlds, and I think we could do it if we were prepared to finance it and deal with it seriously. I want to come to that in a moment at the end of my remarks about the future, because we have been debating for a long time in this House this current Liberal proposal and I want to put forward some ideas that my colleagues and I have on the subject of insurance generally, because we think it is so important.

In the late 1970s, in response to a general feeling of incredible frustration among the injured worker groups, organized labour and many employers who were frustrated by the system in the province, the Tory government of the day, which after all had been in power for so many years, commissioned a study by Professor Weiler. Professor Weiler was and is very much an influential and hard-working law professor whose work in Canada and the United States is well known, and whose views on workers’ compensation were developed in a series of reports which he presented to the public in the early 1980s.

Professor Weiler, I suppose, could be described as the godfather of this particular piece of legislation. It reflects his point of view, which he presented with some vigour in a series of reports which were considered by the government of the day, at that time the Minister of Labour, Robert Elgie, who went on to become the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Now -- surprise, surprise -- he is the chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

I am told, and I do not think it is any secret, that Professor Weiler’s ideas were considered actively by the Conservative Party. They were discussed by members of the House in the period between 1982 and 1985. They were the subject of a committee report which was the subject of travel and discussion. I can remember that there were literally thousands of people who attended a number of meetings that were held to discuss it, and of course that committee issued a report. In doing a little bit of work on what the Liberal Party thinks on this issue, l was interested to read page 82 of the report which came out, called a report on “Reshaping Workers’ Compensation for Ontario”, in Response to the Weiler Report and White Paper of 1980-81. The final report, December 1983, was presented by the Liberal minority, which I understand consisted principally of the member for Windsor-Sandwich, who is now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye), and the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, who is now the Minister of Community and Social Services. It is interesting to see what proposals the Liberals came up with in 1983.

“The Liberal minority proposes to retain the dual award concept. However, we believe that the lump sum payment as proposed is inadequate recognition of the fact that the disability suffered by a worker is a lifetime, 24-hour-a-day reduction in his enjoyment of all facets of his existence. It does not end when the shift ends. It does not disappear on weekends or statutory holidays. It does not vanish when the worker retires.”

That is the argument the Liberals made in 1983 for the maintenance of a permanent pension system. Let me just read those words again so they sink in. Why do the Liberals in 1983 think a pension was a good idea? Because, they said: “The disability suffered by a worker is a lifetime, 24-hour-a-day reduction in his enjoyment of all facets of his existence. It does not end when the shift ends. It does not disappear on weekends or statutory holidays. It does not vanish when the worker retires.”

That is right. That is absolutely correct. That is why a permanent pension is such a basic part of the bargain that workers struck back in 1915. As inadequate and crummy as that pension may be, as much as its amount and level must be fought -- and many workers had to fight with the old commission before it was changed to the new appeals tribunal -- whatever it may take, the fact of the matter is that the central part of the bargain struck by workers in this province has been for a pension; a pension not discretionary to the board; a pension for life, not a pension that evaporates when you are 65; not some lump sum that will disappear in a year’s time. A pension for life has been the basis of workers’ compensation in this province and it should be maintained as the basis for compensation in this province.

The Leader of the Opposition, as he then was, the member for London Centre (Mr Peterson), said in the House on 1 June 1984, “There is not one member of this House who does not know in a personal way, through his or her constituency responsibilities, of hundreds and thousands of individual cases of virtual desperation because of the failure of this government to move.”

What did the Premier say back in 1984 when he was Leader of the Opposition? “Will the minister give his solemn commitment that he will not abolish the pension?” Let me repeat those words: “Will the minister give his solemn commitment that he will not abolish the pension?”

That is the David Peterson who was in opposition. David Peterson in opposition stood in this place, in this House, asking a question a mere five years ago and said he wanted the Tories to give him a solemn commitment that they would not abolish the pension.

That is precisely what David Peterson has done. What he, in opposition, pleaded with the government not to do is exactly what he, in government, has done. That is what gives politics a bad name. When you have a party that in opposition, in consultation with injured workers’ groups across this province, says it will maintain the pensions in this province, that it will maintain a system of permanent pensions, and then it turns around in government and does the exact opposite of what it committed itself to, that is hard for people to accept. That is hard for injured workers to accept, when they were told back in 1985 that the Liberal government agreed to workers’ compensation reform. Does the Premier not think that the workers were entitled to think, when the Liberals talked about reform in 1985, that what they intended is what they proposed in 1984? Is that not legitimate?

I say to the minister that if he at any time had indicated to us that they wanted to talk dual award but they also wanted to talk about maintaining the permanent pension system, if that was the basis for discussion, we could have had a very good basis for a discussion, because we all know that the current system does not work adequately. We all know that there are a great many workers on pension who are dramatically undercompensated because of their real economic situation.

We all know that there are a great many workers who are told that they are on a 20 per cent disability and, at the same time, they are receiving a Canada pension plan cheque which shows that they are totally disabled. We all know that there are workers who have bad backs who are told by the Workers’ Compensation Board in its wisdom that they are 60 per cent or 70 per cent disabled. I have workers in my riding who come to me with a 40 per cent or 50 per cent disability cheque. They are in their early 50s. They have worked in construction all their lives. Their backs have given out and given way and they are told by the board that they have to get by on a 40 per cent or 50 per cent pension. At the same time, they are receiving a Canada pension plan disability cheque which tells them that they are 100 per cent disabled. One is entitled to say that if for the purposes of Canada pension you are 100 per cent disabled, it is hard to see why you should not be considered 100 per cent disabled for the purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Workers’ Compensation Act.

But the central criticism we have made of this bill is not just the perfidy of the Liberal Party. It is not just the fact that the Liberals have betrayed and broken the commitment they made back in 1983 and 1984, when they were very specific. Yes, I do not mind saying they talked about a dual award system back in 1984 and 1983. A number of people were talking about a dual award system. Critics of the system were talking about a dual award system.


The question is, what kind of a balance do you strike between the need to recognize the economic loss and the physical pain and the mental anguish which is caused by a lifetime accident? There are a variety of ways of doing that and we would have been happy and indeed we wanted to discuss what those ways would be, but what I do know is that the system that the Liberals have proposed is nothing short of a fraud.

Let’s discuss it in some detail. What the government has proposed is basically this: the worker who is classified as having a permanent injury will receive --

First of all, let’s go through the process. You get an injury. If the injury is serious enough to receive total temporary benefits, you will continue to receive total temporary benefits. That will not change.

After a period of time after you have had your accident, you will be called by people from the board if you are still off work and they will talk to you about the possibility of your resuming to work. If they find that you are not completely able to return to work, the act states,

“The board shall contact every worker who has not resumed to work within 45 days after notice that the accident under section 20 is filed, for the purpose of identifying the worker’s needs for vocational rehabilitation services, and the board shall provide such services to the worker if the board considers it appropriate to do so.”

The minister has made a great deal of section 54a of the act he is proposing in Bill 162. This is the section which talks about the right to rehabilitation.

Hon Mr Sorbara: I don’t think you’re reading the one that came out of committee of the whole.

Mr B. Rae: The minister says I am not reading the one that came out of the committee of the whole House. I do not think that section has been changed substantially from what I am reading.

Hon Mr Sorbara: Both sections have been changed.

Mr B. Rae: If the minister has a new copy, I would be happy to read it with him and if one of the pages can get me that copy, I will be happy to look at it.

Hon Mr Sorbara: You may have the same copy.

Mr B. Rae: No, I want to make sure I have the same one.

I am trying to determine whether -- the minister is saying that the language has been changed. I want to make this point. It says,

“If the board determines, as a result of an assessment or otherwise, that a worker requires a vocational rehabilitation program, the board, in consultation with the worker and...the employer...shall design and provide one.”

My point throughout the piece has been that the critical question is “if.” It is if and when, it is what the board decides. If the minister is saying that the discretion that is awarded to the board and that is given unilaterally to the board to determine whether or not a vocational rehab program is in place has been changed, then I say, with great respect, to the minister, that is not my understanding.

Mr Polsinelli: It is appealable to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Any decision of the board is appealable.

Mr B. Rae: The member for Yorkview is heckling from his seat and says that the question will be determined by the appeals tribunal.

Mr Laughren: A year later.

Mr B. Rae: I tell him, first of all, it will take a year to get to the appeals tribunal at best, maybe two; and the member also knows full well that the appears tribunal can only interpret the law that is in place and that is written here. The appeals tribunal, as a matter of law, cannot find that in fact there is an obligation on the part of the board to provide a rehab program. There is only an obligation on the part of the board to find a rehab program if and when the board finds and thinks that it is reasonable to do so. If the board finds that it is not in a position to provide --

Mr Polsinelli: If the board doesn’t think it is reasonable, you can appeal it through the appeal process.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Mr B. Rae: I say to the member for Yorkview, I know the pressure he is under in his own constituency. I know the kinds of feelings he is getting from the communities he represents in his constituency and I can understand why he is feeling so defensive about this legislation. I want to see him go back to his constituents, the injured workers who helped elect him, along with a number of other Liberals, and talk about this bill.

Mr Polsinelli: I want to see you tell the truth.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Mr B. Rae: He knows perfectly well that when the Liberal Party was in opposition, when the Liberal Party was campaigning they said the complete opposite. I want to see you go back to your constituents and try to explain to them why what you said in 1985 is exactly the opposite of what you delivered in 1989.


The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time, and of course, your remarks through the Speaker, please.

Mr Laughren: Claudio is embarrassed, that is why.

Mr Polsinelli: I am embarrassed because of you guys.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time, and the Leader of the Opposition is the only one.

Mr Laughren: Why don’t you stand in your place and apologize?

Mr Polsinelli: I am trying to keep my cool while your leader is having interpretations.

Mr Laughren: We understand why you are embarrassed Claudio.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Please respect the standing orders.

Mr B. Rae: My argument with the government is this: The minister honestly believes -- and I believe he believes, because he has come over to me on a number of occasions and said: “Look at the act, think it through. I know I am right when I say there is a right to rehabilitation or there is a process here that will provide rehabilitation.”

I am saying to you, Mr Speaker, that any reading of this act on its face finds that the board itself is in charge, that the board itself makes that determination and that the board itself is responsible for determining whether or not they will offer rehabilitation in one case rather than another. You and I both know what that means. That means the administrative criteria of the board will always triumph in practical terms. That is what will happen. I know what will happen. They will have a big file folder and they will have all kinds of criteria. They will have internal memoranda saying, “This is the board’s criteria for when we will award vocational rehabilitation and when we will not.” They will come back and say, “We would like to, but we cannot.” If you say, “I think you ought to,” they say: “Mr Rae, we appreciate your opinion. If that is how you feel, you certainly should appeal to the appeals tribunal.”

The member for Yorkview (Mr Polsinelli) knows how long that process will take. He knows what the backlog is. He has his constituents lined up outside his office just like I do. He knows what that breakdown is. That is why he feels so defensive about it. I can understand. If I was a Liberal who promised workers something in 1985 and came up with this in 1989, I would be feeling pretty edgy too. I would be feeling pretty defensive too, because they have a lot to feel edgy and defensive about. That is the fact of the matter.


The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Mr B. Rae: I enjoy hearing comments from the Liberals at all times and I appreciate very much their assistance in this regard.

One of the first canards this government came up with was to say that the right to rehabilitation was significantly and dramatically changed by this legislation.

Un des canards de ce gouvernement et du cabinet libéral, c’est d’avoir dit à la population ce que j’ai même entendu le Ministre (l’hon. M. Sorbara) dire à la télévision un soir: « Il y a mention du droit à la réadaptation professionnelle dans le projet de loi » mais le lendemain il m’a dit: « J’ai dit ça, mais j’ai aussi dit d’autres choses »; moi, je n’ai pas entendu dire autre chose à la télévision, et c’est un problème qui m’est assez familier. Mais je veux dire tout de même au Ministre qu’il n’existe pas de droit à la réadaptation dans ce projet de loi.

La Commission des accidents du travail conserve le droit de nier aux travailleurs leur droit à la réadaptation professionnelle; c’est toujours dans ses mains et à sa discrétion. C’est ce que nous voyons clairement et ce que nous refusons d’accepter.

Par contre, nous sommes d’accord avec Mme Minna et M. Majesky, qui insistent sur le droit du travailleur à la réadaptation professionnelle.

We are all square, on all fours, if I may use a legal expression, with Majesky and Minna, who said clearly and categorically that the right to rehabilitation had to be the basis for changing the whole nature of the Workers’ Compensation Board. They even argued that you should change the name, that it should become the workers’ compensation and rehabilitation board, that the whole attitude of the board should change, but if you want to do that, you have to provide rehabilitation as a matter of right. It has to be there as a matter of right but it is not. That is the fact of the matter.


If the worker has been deemed to have a permanent disability, let’s go back and see what happens. Everybody knows that what happens now is that if a worker is deemed to have a permanent disability by the board, he gets rated by the board for his injury. That rating is there as a matter of record, and that rating is then calculated on a monthly basis, based on a calculation of his income and earnings over the last 52 weeks, and he then receives a pension. The pension that he receives is a pension for life. In addition to a pension he also might qualify for some other benefits or some other assistance from the board, and all those things are things that we have all argued about and appealed about.

The one good thing about that pension was that however crummy it was, however inadequate a worker felt it was as a reflection of his loss, that pension was there for life. He did not have to go down and beg for it every week. He did not have to submit any new forms. He did not have to go down and explain what his income was or the fact that he had been making a little bit of money on the side working part-time over a summer. He did not have to explain that he had made more or less. He did not have to justify himself. In other words, it was not a welfare system.

He did not have to go down to the board and present his whole economic life in front of it and say, “There you are. Now, I should get a little bit more, shouldn’t I?”

Mr Polsinelli: Tell that to the existing injured workers. They can get $300 or $400 more a month under this legislation.

Mr B. Rae: I can understand the frustration of the member for Yorkview. If he is saying to me that I am defending the current system, that is nonsense. I have fought the current system longer than he has ever known about it.

What I am saying is that the one thing one can say about what is in place today is that workers have known that as long as they live they will get that pension. Nobody and nothing can take it away from them. Instead of which, we will now have a system imposed by the Liberals against the advice of their own members when they were in opposition, against the commitment made by their leader when he was in opposition, against everything which the injured workers’ groups have asked for in compensation reform for the past 25 years, and in opposition to the views expressed by the organized working people of the province. They have decided that they know better, so what are we going to get?

The minister has said that he has abolished the meat chart. I am here to tell him that not even that is true, because when it comes to looking at that tiny lump sum which workers are going to get, that lump sum will depend on the meat chart. It will depend on a medical rating which will be determined according to the same arbitrary criteria as the current system is determined by.

Then, if a worker is over 45, he will get less; if he is under 45, he will get a little bit more, but whatever he gets, it is there in a lump and it is not a whole lot. Anything else that he gets depends on so many different things. What does it depend on? On the net average earnings, if any, yes; on any disability payments; on the personal and vocational characteristics of the worker. What does that mean, the personal characteristics of the worker? What kind of an assessment is that? Does it mean you are pleasing?

When I was a social worker fighting the welfare system in England, we knew perfectly well that those welfare officers would make all kinds of judgements. Did they like you? Did you seem to be co-operative or were you deemed to be uncooperative? Was your hair cut appropriately or was it not cut appropriately? Did you dress nicely or did you not dress nicely? Were you argumentative with the worker when you came in or were you suitably deferential and tugging at the forelock when you entered?

Are those the personal characteristics of the worker that people are looking out for? This is the travesty of what happens when you replace a compensation system with a welfare system. When you replace a compensation system, an insurance system, with a welfare system, this is what it looks like: You get people making judgements, “Well, this person’s personal characteristics strike me as suitable, so this is the basis upon which we will make an assessment of what a worker is likely to be able to earn in suitable and available employment.”

I warn this House that, if Liberal members think they have had their fair day of appeals before the Workers’ Compensation Board, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

Mr Laughren: Every case should be appealed.

Mr B. Rae: Every case will be appealed. There will be no certainty left in the system whatsoever. It is going to be replaced by a kind of roulette system where what you get will depend on the arguments you are able to make on your appeals before the board. Every case will become a welfare case, every situation will become a welfare situation, and the power and discretion of the board in that will be increased.

I said at the beginning that I wanted to talk a little bit about an alternative. I must say that, together with my colleagues, I have thought long and hard -- l think I have thought and fought harder and longer on this issue than on almost any other in my political career -- and I regard this day as a real setback. I know many of my colleagues must feel the same way. Instead of making the progress that I wanted to make and had hoped to make after some 10 years in political life -- we have spent so long pushing the ball up the hill and making progress every step of the way. Whether it was getting the coke oven workers recognized or whether it was getting asbestos recognized or whether it was getting gold dust recognized, whether it was introducing an appeal system we thought would be fairer, whatever it has been, we have always felt that we were making progress.

It was slow, painful, difficult. We literally had to pile up the bodies when my predecessor Stephen Lewis argued on behalf of cancer victims, and my colleague the member for Nickel Belt, who personally knew so well many of those cases out of that sintering plant, the workers at Elliot Lake. I think of the incredible effort we have made to get cases, problems, people and families recognized by the system. We have managed lo do it slowly.

This is a terrible defeat in the face of that progress, because for the first time the government has imposed a set of changes which have been resisted and opposed by the very people who the act is supposed to be there for.

I say without any apology I think this is a black day for Ontario workers, but I think at the same time we have to look to the future. I want to suggest to the working people of this province that we have to work together to build a very different kind of system and that out of the incredible mess which the government has created in the field of workers’ compensation and out of the terrible mess it is making out of the automobile insurance crisis and out of the tragedy that we know many people face because they have cancer, for example -- maybe it cannot be traced to a worksite. Maybe it shows all the signs of being related to a worksite but the board cannot find such a connection. We have the estimates from the experts, one of them commissioned by the Tories five years ago, who said that as many as 6,000 or 7,000 workers a year were dying as a result of general environmental and occupational disease.

We cannot find the causes of this, but I would suggest that on the edge of this age, where we are all so aware of the environment and when we see the insurance crisis all around us, we are at the edge of a similar point to the one we were at the edge of in 1912, 1913 and 1914. Just as that industrialized society came to realize that the old system did not work for workers and that it had to build a no-fault system that would be there for injured workers and that would be theirs, their system of insurance, so today we are on the edge of a new system in this province.


l firmly believe that workers’ compensation, as it is currently understood, should become a thing of the past. I believe very strongly that we should be setting our sights on a new goal, and that goal would be a universal system of disability insurance which would cover you regardless of whether you were injured or hurt at work, at home, between work and home or as a result of someone’s negligence that could be proved or not. It should cover current automobile insurance; it should cover current disability plans, public and private; it should include the Canada disability pension plan, and it should include workers’ compensation.

I think the creation of a universal insurance plan would cover a great many cases that are not now covered. If I may say so, it is of interest to me that in the last year and a half at least two of judges of the Supreme Court of Ontario have urged that the government of Ontario should introduce such a scheme.

The members opposite will remember the tragic case of the young man on a motorcycle who went through a piece of land that was owned by the city of Brampton. He was paralysed as a result of an accident which he had on that motorcycle. The members will know that initially he was successful in his suit against the city of Brampton but that ultimately he was not successful. As a result, he got nothing.

Mr Speaker, you will also know, as I am sure many members will know, the tragic instances of those young children who receive inoculations and vaccinations against various illnesses. Occasionally, statistically we are told not very often but still enough to trouble anybody who thinks about it, we find that these young people are disabled for life as a result of their injury.

All of us in our personal lives know people who, through no fault of their own, through, if you like, the roulette of life not the roulette of the insurance business or industry, have lost out. Young, vigorous people who were well are suddenly struck down by illness. Sometimes those illnesses can be related to the work they do but more often than not they cannot. We know the medical profession feels under particular siege these days in Canada and the United States because of the cost of negligence actions that are being brought against it for various things that happen.

I want to suggest that when we put all this together with the evidence -- l see the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) is here. He will know, as I have read with increasing concern, obviously because of what has happened in my own family, the evidence that is being adduced -- admittedly still in its earliest forms, and it is scientifically being argued about but nevertheless very real -- a sense that our overuse of pesticides and herbicides in the last 20 and 30 years in this province, on this continent of ours, has not only affected the quality of life for many plants and animals in the province but has also killed people. For example, we cannot explain the increase in cancer among certain groups of farmers without looking at this evidence of the use of pesticides and herbicides.

What lawsuit would succeed, what farmer’s widow could possibly hope to succeed and what personal cost would there be to her to sue that employer, to sue that manufacturer in an attempt to get some kind of recognition? Having described that, Mr Speaker, you know what a long shot that kind of case would be, what enormous pressure and problems it would cause for her if she had the courage and gumption to proceed and the costs that would be involved to her, emotional and otherwise.

Are we really saying as a society that we are recognizing we live in a world which we are making more dangerous ourselves by the processes of production and the way in which we make our living? Are we really saying that we are not prepared to compensate that family? Are we really saying we are not prepared to deal with the problems faced by farm workers who continue to be ignored by this legislation on workers’ compensation?

I do not believe so. I think the challenge of creating a universal disability plan and the possibilities for creating a universal disability plan are simply there. To me, it is as obvious as it was to the Tory government in 1913-14 which asked Chief Justice Meredith to take on this task of creating a new system of compensation.

If we had that kind of system of compensation, it would be complex and it would require real thought about the balance to be struck between a general level of insurance and the need for us to continue to enforce the laws on negligence. I believe we would have to maintain a greater vigilance in our system against negligence. I do not think the current system of enforcement on health and safety and the current system of fines on health and safety anywhere near provide the economic incentives and punishments that are needed in a serious insurance system in order to get the number of accidents down.

I believe, and I mean this very seriously, that one of the reasons that the level of accidents is so high in our society is precisely because it still pays employers to produce in that way. I cannot find any other explanation as to why we would continue to see the level of death and disease in our workplace, except to say that obviously it is more economic for employers to do that than it is for them to clean up. Obviously the system of enforcement that is now in place is not working well enough so we have to find another one.

In my opinion, that system of enforcement is always going to depend on a match and mix between government enforcement and individuals on the workplace and at the workplace having the capacity to get that law enforced. I know that is a discussion we are going to have this fall. I am looking forward to that discussion very much as we debate Bill 208, the second jewel in the government’s crown on health and safety, if I can put it that way.

A universal disability plan would be complex. It will, in my judgement, require a royal commission to establish its direction, just as Chief Justice Meredith did back in 1913-14. But in order for that royal commission to go anywhere, as opposed to the commission of Mr Justice Osborne and all the studies on the automobile insurance industry, it requires a government that is prepared to say: “Look, we know the system isn’t working. We know it’s breaking down and this is the direction that we want to go in. Will you tell us how to get there, what pitfalls, problems and balances need to be struck?” With that kind of direction and with that kind of clarity of purpose coming from the government, I believe we could create a better system.

When I first took a drive on a streetcar down to College Street from where I was living as a young law student in 1974, near the corner of Gerrard and Jones Avenue, to the comer of College and Dovercourt, which was the site of the old west end Young Men’s Christian Association before it was renovated and all spruced up, it was a lively place. On the second floor there was a group of very dedicated injured workers who formed a union. There were a number of us, law students and others, who were involved in trying to help that union get going, get started and focus and channel our efforts.

I can remember as clearly as if it were yesterday the faces and names of that very distinguished and talented group of people, a very dedicated group of people who started that union over 15 years ago. I can remember the great hopes that we had for the kinds of changes that we could bring about. This is a very dark day because of the hopes that I had for abolishing board doctors, for creating and moving towards a universal plan, for increasing the level of benefits for workers and not decreasing the level of benefits. I can honestly say that those hopes not only are not realized in this bill, but in fact this bill goes completely against the things that we were working and fighting for.

Since that time, both outside when I was working for the union and when I went on to work for many other people and organizations that were dedicated to the cause of increasing the level of benefits for working people, we have demonstrated outside this House, we have demonstrated outside the building, we have had so many fights and so many efforts to get a change. All I can say to those workers today is that they must understand, as I know they do, that the road to justice is sometimes one that goes back and forth, that it is not one that leads straight there and that we are now in the middle of a great political fight.


As I have said before, the Liberals have moved closure and they will get this bill. Let the record show that the Liberals chose the employers over workers. Let the record show that when they had a chance to reform the system, they reformed it the way the boss wanted, not the way the workers wanted. When they changed the system, they jumped to the tune of the companies that finance the Liberal Party, not to the tune of the workers who have been outside demonstrating for the last 15 years.

That is the record. That is the record of this government. That is the record of the Premier. It was a great predecessor of his in the Liberal Party who said, “I would rather walk with the workers than ride with General Motors.” Let it be said that in 1989, this Liberal Premier rode with General Motors. He rode with every employer. He rode with Inco and he rode with Stelco. He rode with the construction association. Yes, he rode with the DelZottos and the Muzzos. He did not walk with the workers of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions on the Leader of the Opposition’s speech?

Mr Polsinelli: I can appreciate the Leader of the Opposition’s call for a universal disability plan for Canada. I think it is an admirable goal. It is something worth pursuing. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition also appreciates that something of that nature has to be a national program, with the support of the federal government and the other provinces.

But I must say this to the Leader of the Opposition: 30 years ago, my father was injured an a construction site. He was an injured worker. Under the existing legislation, my family had to suffer the dire consequences. I do not come from a family that is wealthy. I come as the son of an injured worker to this chamber, to this assembly.

I know what it is like dealing with the Workers’ Compensation Board. I know what it is like dealing with the legislation. Above all, I know what it is like growing up as the son of an injured worker. I say this to the Leader of the Opposition: If Bill 162 had been in place 30 years ago, my life, my childhood would have been considerably different.

Why does the member want to deprive the injured workers of the future of the benefits that they would receive under Bill 162? Why does he want to press on them the existing insufficient legislation that we now have on the books? He had a prime opportunity to work with the government and the Minister of Labour to improve this legislation. He chose not to do that. He chose to be obstructionist. He even chose not to participate in the amendments that the minister had before the House.

I ask the member, who is he really representing in this debate?

The Deputy Speaker: Other questions and comments?

Mr Laughren: I must say I have been provoked by the member for Yorkview. What he does not seem to understand, or at least does not want his constituents to understand, is that what this bill is doing is taking away in the future the right of injured workers to a lifetime pension, plain and simple. He can disguise it any way he wants; that is what this bill is going to do.

It is true that I understand what the Minister of Labour feels about compensation in the province. He feels that there are injured workers in the province who are overcompensated. I have heard the minister say that there are some groups of injured workers who are overcompensated and some who are undercompensated. What does he do? He does not build up the ones who are undercompensated; he knocks down the ones who, in his mind, are overcompensated.

That is simply not true, and that is what my leader has been trying to say in his remarks this afternoon. I think most people will have understood those remarks. I want to say that if there are people in our society who are overcompensated, it is not the injured workers of Ontario. I happen to agree that there are people who are overcompensated in our society. I believe that most profoundly, but I do not understand how the minister could zero in on the most vulnerable group of all, the injured workers.

I guess what bothers me so much about the member for Yorkview is that he, of all people should understand what this bill is doing to injured workers. It is even more inexcusable, given his personal history, that he can stand in his place and support this piece of horrible legislation.

Mr Dietsch: I too have listened to the debate and had the opportunity to participate in the resources development committee. I can say that coming from a personal experience of my own. I too have been an injured worker and I too have represented injured workers in the labour scene, where injured workers of this province, under the old system, were deprived of rehabilitation and were deprived of making their views known before a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal panel on a number of areas.

When the members of the loyal opposition stand up in this House and project an image that they, by all other means, are the individuals who represent workers in this province, I can tell them they had better stop and listen, because that is not the case. I have a number of injured workers in my particular constituency. I have been there. I have been injured myself and have had personal experiences with the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Mr Mackenzie: Did you drop on your head?

Mr Dietsch: I can tell members, as the member for Hamilton East spouts from his place, as he does so often in this House, as the projected saviour of the worker, he is not alone in this province. There are a number of Liberals in this province who work on behalf of injured workers and who take seriously what happens in their place about the injured workers.

With Bill 162 there are going to be a number of specific improvements, not like those which the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) projected out into the community, a number of misnomers to indicate a threat to injured workers that they were going to lose their pension. That is not the case under Bill 162, and the minister will wrap up--

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time has expired.

Mr Dietsch: --I am sure, and put forward those views in this province.

Mr B. Rae: I am glad to have aroused some interest and discussion from honourable members and I appreciate their views very much. I guess that, taking in turn what I heard from honourable members, the first point I would make, in response to the member for Yorkview on the universal disability plan, is simply this: If Tommy Douglas had waited around for the federal government to move on medicate, we still would not have it today.

The reality is that we are going to get universal disability insurance when we have one government in Canada that has got the guts to get it started. That is how we will build a national plan, the only way we will build a national plan. I really believe that. If we wait for Brian Mulroney or whoever is in power at the federal level, then we wait for ever and ever for that to happen. It will not happen. It will only happen when we set the provincial example that we can do it here.

I can say to the member, and also to the member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch), there are many comments made about me and my party, about who speaks for whom and what Liberals speak for. All I can say is if their case was as good as they make it out to be, why was there not one group of injured workers across the province -- not one, not a single group of injured workers, no matter what background they came from, no matter what part of the province they came from -- which endorsed Bill 162? They all rejected the notion of taking away a lifetime pension, every one of them. Were they all wrong?

This is not the New Democratic Party speaking. For whatever Liberal members may think of the organized labour movement -- and I know the incredible antipathy that exists within the ranks of the Liberal Party towards organized labour -- all I can say is that I do not know of a time in our history when a change has been made to labour legislation of this magnitude that was not at least acceptable to some of them, at least to one group or another, whether it be in the public sector or the private sector.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up.

Mr B. Rae: So that speaks for itself.


Hon Mr Sorbara: As members can imagine, I am very happy to be now winding up this debate on third reading and, I think, this debate in the province on Bill 162.

I was first elected on 2 May 1985, and during the course of the four years and more that I have sat in this Parliament and served as minister in this government, I really have seen a number of very important issues debated abound the province and in our society. They have given rise to some very important and powerful debates. I think back to our debate on the extension of funding to the balance of the Catholic school system; of our debate on the statutory ban on extra-billing by doctors; of Bill 7, the Human Rights Code prohibition banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; of Bill 8, the extension of French-language services in the province.

I think of the resolution on the constitutional accord, the Meech Lake debate, which frankly still goes on, although not directly in this Legislature; of the free trade debate, which kept some of us here over most of the Christmas holidays a year and a half ago; and about the debate on bills 113 and 114, which were of some interest to a number of us during the last session, and of Bill 162, which I place within that context.

Because it deals with citizens and residents of this province when they are at their most vulnerable -- that is, when they have been injured and some of their vitality has been attacked -- it is for us an extremely important issue. I think the debate we have had, both in Parliament and around the province, has been a very important one. There has been a broad spectrum of opinion expressed from one end of this province to another, and now we are coming to the end of that debate. I want to tell members that I am glad to have this opportunity to put a few matters and my own feelings and reflections on the record, as I have not been able to do during the earlier parts of the debate.

We are coming to the end, to third reading, to a vote and to royal assent. As I said, it has been an extremely good debate and, classically, a great debate filled with, as the Leader of the Opposition said when this debate began over a year ago, all the legitimate methods of public and parliamentary expression that have been in the lexicon of things done here in the Legislature and elsewhere. Although there may be a variety of opinions expressed about some of the tactics involved in this debate, in the end I think we have seen ourselves and the public with an opportunity to debate an extremely important issue.

I will just review the legislative record. I introduced Bill 162 on 20 June last year. Some 22 members had an opportunity to speak to the motion during seven legislative days of debate on second reading, which began on 19 October. The bill then went to the standing committee on resources development on 23 November. Some of the debate I heard; in fact, some of the comments of the Leader of the Opposition during that time inspired us to announce in the House certain amendments we were going to be moving in second reading and clause-by-clause consideration. We did that in order to ensure that when the bill went out to public hearings, those who were considering making deputations to the committee would not be required to speak to those issues.

Then we had some 22 days of public headings; I want to come back to them in a moment. Then we had consideration -- at least we were supposed to have consideration -- in clause-by-clause in the standing committee on resources development. The bill was reported back to this House and we had an all-night debate on those issues. I sat here for all but one of those speeches. Unfortunately, I missed the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae). I know how passionate he is on these issues and I regret that I missed that. Now we are at third reading.

I just want to say a word or two about those public hearings, because I have been wanting to get this off my chest for a very long time, I tell my friends in the House. Great political hay was made by the official opposition about whether the government was interested in public hearings. Frankly, I regret that the member for Sudbury East is not here for this debate. I am surprised that she is not here and I think it is regrettable. In any event, the member for Sudbury East suggested that the government was not interested in public hearings, and I think that business of the public hearings has been one of the really regrettable aspects of this debate on Bill 162.

I want to tell members a bit of the history of how we got to where we got on the public hearings. Members will recall that there was a day when injured workers were outside the doors of this very chamber on the issue of public hearings. For a very long time, I wondered how the message, the misinformation, somehow had got out into this province that the government did not want to have public hearings on Bill 162. For months and months afterward, that theme kept recurring. I finally figured out what happened.

Members will know very well that when the government is considering what the legislative agenda for a bill should be, the minister sponsoring that bill approaches the critics in the official opposition and the third party and initiates a discussion about what the opposition parties would like to see in terms of legislative consideration, such as how many days they want the bill to be debated in the House and what kind of committee consideration they want of the bill. It is at that discussion stage that the bill really begins to develop a legislative form and a legislative framework and a legislative agenda.

Back in early October of last year, before we began sitting in the fall, I approached the member for Sudbury East, because she is my critic on these matters, and I put it to her in an introductory meeting as to what she would like to see. She said to me: “We want you to scrap the bill.” That was it.

I said: “Well, what would you like the legislative consideration to be on Bill 162?” There was really no response. She said: “Well, all of our members are going to speak on it and they are all going to oppose it.” I said: “That’s fine. What about anything else? What about public hearings?” She said: “We don’t have anything to say on that.”

Then she asked me what I would like to see and I said, and I admitted this on a number of occasions: “Well, I would like to see the bill passed by Christmas, but of course that really is in your hands.”

The very next day I started to get calls in my office that I was opposing public hearings; that I did not want the province to be considering this bill in a normal legislative way with hearings and in a committee that would travel around the province. I think that was the one great regret I had in the way in which we considered this bill, because I think it was unfair of the member for Sudbury East to send out that message after one introductory meeting; one opportunity to begin consideration.

Mr B. Rae: You’re talking about us being sore losers. You’re the first sore winner.


Hon Mr Sorbara: No, I tell my friend the Leader of the Opposition, when injured workers came to the door of this chamber, I was shaken to my foundation. I really wondered after that how it was that such a distorted message about consideration of this bill --


The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Sorbara: Since introduction of the bill, I have had an opportunity to go to just about every corner of the province. I have gone to Windsor and met with injured workers in Windsor. I see in the gallery here today a group of workers who have worked very hard on behalf of injured workers right around the province. I think, as I look at the group, I have spoken with every single one of them on a number of occasions on the very subject matter that is in Bill 162.

In Thunder Bay, we had a number of long and I think fruitful meetings with the Union of Injured Workers in that community. I think of a young man for whom I have an incredible amount of respect, a young man named Steven Mantis who has worked so hard in that community, and the discussions I have had with his group and with him personally. In fact, on a number of occasions he has come down to Toronto when we have talked about vocational rehabilitation and how it should be. We have talked about his views and the government’s views on all the matters in Bill 162.

In Sudbury, the Canadian Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers organized a session and made a point of ensuring that there was a verbatim transcript, and the discussion was active and vibrant.

My friend the member for Cochrane South says I did not meet the injured workers on the steps of Oueen’s Park. I just want to tell him and the members of this House that I have had meetings on the steps of Oueen’s Park and elsewhere for the past 13 months, considering what the government is proposing to do in Bill 162. In fact, as recently as last Tuesday I sat with a woman who was there to demonstrate to discuss her particular problem and hear her view.

In Italian, she said to me, “Mr Sorbara, why are you doing this?” Then she said, “Why are you cutting my pension?” l was surprised, after some 13 months, that some workers felt that the pensions they were receiving would be cut.

I explained to her as best I could that her situation would be this: She would continue to receive the pension she was getting, and as soon as Bill 162 is passed, she will have an opportunity to return to the board to have her circumstances re-evaluated for the purpose of the payment of a supplement, which is provided for in the transitional arrangements under Bill 162.

But that is just one other contact. On each occasion and in each encounter, whether it is my riding, my own constituency office or anywhere in this province, I think, after some 13 months, that I understand with the same emotional power that the Leader of the Opposition was talking about when he talked about the plight of injured workers.

I want to tell members what I found after some 13 months of carrying this bill. What I found from virtually every worker I talked to was that the system we have today for compensation of permanent partial disability is a rough justice system that has wrought very much pain, hardship and personal tragedy in this province ever since it was in the law, back to 1915.

From each encounter I have had with groups of injured workers or individual injured workers, I have been reconfirmed in my view that we must finally bring about a system to compensate workers who have permanent injuries that reflects what they really have lost as a result of their injury.

My friend the Leader of the Opposition speaks about the social contract that was made back in 1915. He suggests that there was a tradeoff, that the workers gave up their opportunity to sue their employers and, in exchange for that, they got a system of no-fault insurance. But that system of no-fault insurance has not worked fairly for far too many workers in this province. Indeed, if you go back to the very final report that the commissioner submitted in 1915 -- and I went back to read it -- you come upon a paragraph that I think is telling.

Mr Justice Meredith writes, “A uniform rate of compensation which has no relation to the earning power of the workman, for the purpose of reducing the rate of 50 per cent of his wages, is, in my opinion, also inconsistent with the principle upon which a just compensation law is based, and unfair, and a most undesirable mode of fixing the amount of compensation.”

He says a uniform rate would be unfair and a most undesirable mode of fixing the amount of compensation. But that is precisely the system we have today for those who suffer permanent injuries. We have a system that treats everyone the same, notwithstanding that for one worker the future might be no opportunity to work whatsoever and for another worker with the same injury an opportunity to return very quickly to the same level of earnings.

We do that not because of some meanness, arbitrariness or unfairness in the workers’ compensation system, the Workers’ Compensation Board, its administrators or its adjudicators; we do it because that is what the law currently tells us to do. Subsection 45(1) of the Workers’ Compensation Act says, “Where permanent disability results from the injury, the impairment of earning capacity of the worker shall be estimated from the nature and degree of the injury.” You look to the injury, the current act says, not to the effect of the injury on the worker’s life.

I want to tell my friend the Leader of the Opposition of another basic principle of law that I am sure he is familiar with. That principle is that when someone is injured, justice, compensation and recompense should put that individual, as much as financially possible or as much as one can do with money, in the same position that he or she would have been in had it not been for the injury.

Because the Leader of the Opposition is a lawyer, he will know that is a fundamental principle of the law of compensation and the law of tort in every common law jurisdiction. Bill 162 is designed precisely on that fundamental principle of justice, that as much as we can in this province, we have an obligation to move heaven and earth to put the injured worker in the position that injured worker would have been in had it not been for the accident.

What are we doing in the bill? We are saying that we want to junk the system of rough justice, we want to junk the system of lifetime percentage pensions based on a meat chart, and we want to move to a system of individualized response to the individual circumstances of individual injured workers after the misfortune of an accident. Yes, the injury will be a matter of carrying pain and suffering for the rest of that worker’s life. Therefore, under the dual award system we are adopting in Bill 162, that is recognized. For the first time in this province we are recognizing that a worker having suffered an injury suffers some loss of enjoyment of life. That will finally be reflected in the laws of this province.

At the same time, we are saying in the bill that if we are going to compensate for the loss of earning capacity, let us compensate for the loss of earning capacity and not use some sort of crazy meat chart to determine what the size of the pension should be. How many injured workers have we as parliamentarians in this province seen who have said, “The board expects me to live on a 10 per cent pension and I haven’t worked in years”?


We are going to scrap that. That is over now. This bill will pass and that will be history. We will have a system where the board will be required to look at what the impairment of earnings is and then provide a pension based on that.

There has been a lot of discussion in this House and around the province about whether or not the board will act fairly or whether or not the board will deem injured workers to be earning thus and such. I have heard the speeches from the other side about the board’s arbitrariness and the fact that the board will make crazy, weird decisions about what the earning capacity of an individual is after the accident. In fact, that was one of our great concerns as the bill went into clause-by-clause consideration -- that we had the right words in the statute to make sure the board would be constrained to look at the realities of that worker’s life post-injury and not some sort of chart or some sort of employment criteria in a manual. I think we brought in provisions during clause-by-clause stage and committee of the whole that will do that.

One of the unfortunate aspects of this debate is that we never had an opportunity in clause-by-clause consideration to have the input of the opposition parties to refine those words. I think we have it none the less. I think we have the right words, but it is regrettable and it is one of the aspects of this debate I will always regret, that the opposition party refused from day one to participate in this debate in a constructive way to make sure the words that are in this bill are the ones they feel will sufficiently protect the very constituency on behalf of whom they say they speak.

I strongly believe that the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie), who has sat here for so many years, the member for Sudbury East, who is a new and very articulate member of this assembly, and the Leader of the Opposition himself should have said to me a year ago, when the bill was introduced: “We don’t like it. We have never liked the dual award system. We are on record as to what we want. We want the double award system. Paul Weiler knows all about it. So we don’t like it but you’re the government and we guess if you are going to have it, we would like to sit down and have some input into it.”

Not once; there was not one suggestion from any member of the opposition party that they would like to sit down with me, as the minister sponsoring this bill, and talk about it. I have had input from the Union of Injured Workers and they have given me some criticisms. We have had public hearings. The bill is better as a result of those public hearings. We have gotten some input, but the opposition parties could have had an opportunity to ensure that their views, even on the fine points of wording, were reflected in the final product. I think, notwithstanding that, we have a bill that will serve well the workers of this province.

Obviously the heart and soul of this bill is a new system for compensating workers with permanent injuries. It is the guts of the thing. It is the dramatic change we are bringing about. I understand the opposition parties saying: “We don’t want to have anything to do with that. We will not give up, at any cost, lifetime pensions as currently paid. Yes, we want more. We want a way of compensating for what other earning impairment there is, but from our point of view the lifetime pension is a sine qua non. We have to have that.”

I understand that position. That really has been the heart and soul of the debate; whether we should maintain and build upon that old system or start off afresh. It really is the two spectrums, it really is the two sides of the debate. I want to tell the Leader of the Opposition that frankly, if there was all the money in the world, if there was all the money we needed in order to create our systems of compensation, we would just pile on to the system additional benefits.

He has said to me and referred to me in this House and elsewhere as the first Minister of Labour who has not been expansive in reforms of workers’ compensation. I have not had the luxury of simply spending more in this system. We do have a system that is already some $7.5 billion in debt; $7.5 billion in unfunded liability. The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that we simply do not have the luxury of saying, “Well, we’ll just increase the benefits to those who are not receiving enough.”

There is some suggestion that in this province we have a system that is not spending very much, and yet if you look across Canada at the expenditures in workers’ compensation, you see, of course, naturally -- and we should be proud of it -- that Ontario has the highest per-claim payment in all of Canada. We pay out some $6,500, on average, per claim. The next highest in Canada is, naturally, Quebec, which has an industrial base much like Ontario’s and you would think its system is rather similar. The average cost per capita of claims in Quebec is just over $3,000. In Ontario we pay out double the average of the next highest province in Canada.

What that indicates is that there is money in the system. We do have very high rates of assessment against employers. There are funds there. My challenge was to find a method to spend those resources in a more effective way.

There has been some suggestion that this is in some respects a newfangled idea, that the Minister of Labour, having been appointed, decided that he would have a dual award system, that there had been no consultation, no consideration of these issues; but the opposition parties know that this system and these issues, including vocational rehabilitation and a better system for compensating for permanent partial disability, have been debated in this province and in this nation for 10 years now.

In fact, the most recent consideration, done by Professor Paul Weiler for my predecessor, now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, looked again at what had been proposed in terms of compensation for permanent partial disability. He made a comment in his final report that I think would be of some significance to the Leader of the Opposition, who argues so forcefully and so eloquently for a universal system of disability.

Paul Weiler said: “If you’re going to spend a whole lot more money on workers’ compensation” -- at that point, in 1986, he was suggesting some $600 million a year if we were to adopt the system proposed by the New Democratic Party – “why in the world would you do that? If you’re going to take $600 million more out of the economy, why not use that money to begin the creation of a universal system of compensation?”

I think that made great sense and I agree that we have to start thinking and talking about that and figuring out what the future should look like as we confront compensation problems in a variety of areas, but let me say that it was my responsibility and my challenge to figure out how we could repair a system that has exacted so much pain and suffering because it was so arbitrary and so insensitive to the reality and the plight of so many workers in this province.

I think we have done that. Particularly with the changes we have made in our system, with the changes we have brought about as a result of the public hearings, with the changes we have worked on as a result of the criticisms and the considerations of the bill around the province, I think finally we have a bill that really will serve the workers of this province in a way they have not been served up until this point.


I think that is true, particularly in the area of vocational rehabilitation, and I want to tell members why I think that is. Members should understand that the current law is entirely permissive. It says, in fact, that the board can do vocational rehabilitation if it wants. If it does not want, it does not have to do it. There has been so much discussion on this matter that I am surprised that in his remarks the Leader of the Opposition did not at least acknowledge that in the area of vocational rehabilitation we really are taking some major steps, and that what is in this bill really does emerge from the work undertaken by Maria Minna and Wally Majesky in their report, An Injury to One is an Injury to All.

No, the bill does not guarantee that an injury automatically leads to a right to vocational rehabilitation. What member in his right mind would suggest that sort of a provision: that an injury that keeps the worker out of the workplace for 30 days automatically leads to vocational rehabilitation whether it is needed or not? That is what they have been suggesting. That is the kind of system that I have heard from the opposition parties when they talk about a guarantee of vocational rehabilitation. They said they want a guarantee. What does that mean? That means you have a right to it. Someone has to determine whether or not it is needed.

I tell the Leader of the Opposition that statistically the vast majority of cases of workers who are out of work for more than 30 days result in that worker returning as soon as he has reached full medical rehabilitation to the job he or she was in before the accident. But if we had the system that is being proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and his party, that worker would be able to say, “I have been out 30 days; I do not particularly like my job; I want vocational rehabilitation.”

Someone has to make the decision, but historically that decision made by the board has not been based on a fair assessment. What we are doing for the first time in Canada is creating a statutory obligation on the board to provide an assessment of the needs of that worker so that a reasonable determination can be made.

The Leader of the Opposition will recall that in 1984 in this Parliament we put into place in this province a system of independent adjudication to ensure that those decisions were reasonable and fair. I strongly believe that the future in this province in the area of vocational rehabilitation will be dramatically better than the past as a result of these initiatives, not simply because of the words of this statute, but because we as a province are changing dramatically our views about those with disabilities, whether it be in human rights legislation, whether it be in programs from other ministries or whether it be in worker compensation legislation.

We are doing the same thing in the area of re-employment. How many of us, as members of provincial Parliament in our constituency offices, have heard from injured workers who say, “As a result of my injury, no one will hire me” or “As a result of my injury, my employer is refusing to allow me to come back to work”? Now, for the first time in Ontario, as a result of this bill, soon to be law, we will have a statutory obligation on employers to rehire those very workers who have been complaining so bitterly about the rough treatment they have had at the hands of some employers.

I know that in this area of reinstatement we have not answered all of the questions; that we have not gone perhaps as far as some of the New Democratic Party members would like. But we are only the second province to incorporate these rights and we have planted a seed in the area of reinstatement that I think will be one of the flourishing aspects of worker compensation legislation as we move into the 21st century.

This has been a long and difficult debate. All of us in this House have lived and heard about these issues in our constituency offices, lobby groups and elsewhere as we have considered Bill 162 over the past 13 months. I believe from the bottom of my heart, I am absolutely convinced that the result of the passage of this legislation will give to the workers of this province, those men and women who rely on a fair system, who rely on an equitable system, the kind of justice, the kind of compensation and the kind of humane response to their individual plights that they have not had over the past 75 years.


The House divided on Mr Sorbara’s motion for third reading of Bill 162, which was agreed to on the following vote:


Adams, Ballinger, Beer, Black, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Hart, Hošek, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kwinter, Lipsett;

MacDonald, Mahoney, McClelland, McGuigan, McGuinty, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Offer, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Owen, Pelissero, Peterson, Phillips, G., Polsinelli, Poole, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sorbara, South, Stoner, Sullivan, Sweeney, Tatham, Velshi, Wilson, Wong, Wrye.


Allen, Brandt, Bryden, Charlton, Cousens, Cureatz, Eves, Hampton, Harris, Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, McCague, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pope, Rae, B., Reville, Runciman, Sterling, Villeneuve.

Ayes 69; nays 22.

The House adjourned at 1805.