The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
CANADIAN FORCES BASE
Mr Reycraft moved resolution 30:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that the federal government’s decision to close down the Canadian Forces Base in London, Ontario, will result in a significant loss of employment and dislocation of individuals and families in the community; and further recognizing that there is no significant cost-saving in closing down the base; therefore, the government of Ontario should urge the government of Canada to immediately reconsider its decision.
Mr Reycraft: I want to begin my remarks this morning by providing some context for the resolution. Canadian Forces Base London, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a military base that covers some 80 acres inside the city of London. For a long, long time, the base was known as Wolseley Barracks, but in an era that provided us with Air Canada in place of Trans-Canada Airlines, that gave us Canada Post, that turned the Department of the Environment into Environment Canada, the armed forces bases all became known as CFBs, and in this case, CFB London.
It is rather interesting that while the federal Liberals under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau seemed intent on renaming everything that was distinctively Canadian, the Conservatives under the leadership of Brian Mulroney now seem intent on eliminating those very same things. But that is probably another debate that is best left to another day.
Wolseley Barracks, or CFB London, has existed in London since 1883. For all that time, the base has been the permanent home of the first battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, and the first RCR is the oldest regular force infantry in Canada. It has been part of Wolseley Barracks since the base was established 106 years ago.
Currently at the base, there are some 866 regular forces military personnel. The base also employs some 353 civilians. In addition to that, Canadian Forces Base London also serves as a training centre for 1,300 reserve forces who make up the militia unit that also calls Wolseley Barracks its home.
In the federal budget of this year, Michael Wilson announced that Canadian Forces Base London would be closed and that the first RCR would be moved to CFB Petawawa in Renfrew county and that the rationale for closing the base was based on the fact that he believed it would reduce expenditures for the federal government and save money for the taxpayers of Canada. My resolution asks the government of Canada to reconsider that decision to close the base and to do so immediately.
An observer might easily conclude that a resolution like this one is simply based on a parochial interest, that it is a kind of not-in-my-backyard reaction in reverse and that it is just a local reaction to a federal government decision strictly based on local concerns. But I want to assure this House that while I am genuinely concerned about the local impact of the closing of CFB London, I am also very concerned about a much broader issue. I think this decision, while it is certainly bad for London, is also bad for the Canadian taxpayers, and thus bad for Canada.
I am bringing this resolution forward because the closing of the base and the relocation of the first RCR will take over 1,200 jobs out of the city of London and over 2,000 people away from that city, and it is doing all that at great inconvenience and with no significant saving to the Canadian taxpayer. In fact, I suggest that the decision will result in an increase in costs to the taxpayers of this country.
CFB London is a highly valued part of the city. Within London there is very broad support for keeping the base open and keeping the first RCRs right there in London. It is the home they have always had. Last Friday, I attended a press conference with Mayor Gosnell and the member of Parliament for London East, Joe Fontana. Mr Fontana was presented at that press conference with a petition bearing some 5,000 names by Jock Shields, who has been the chairman of the Help Save CFB London Committee. That petition was neither the first nor the largest that Mr Fontana has received. Indeed, many, many hundreds of Londoners have signed petitions calling for a reconsideration of the decision. Both Mr Fontana and Mayor Gosnell have clearly and frequently expressed their unconditional support for keeping CFB London open, not just because it is a bad decision for the city but because, like me, they are convinced it does not save tax dollars. It is a bad decision for Canada.
The member of the Legislative Assembly for London Centre and the Premier (Mr Peterson) recently met with Mr Shields and others of the save-the-base committee. After the meeting, the Premier was quoted in the London Free Press as saying this: “I’m not in favour of what they’re doing.... No one has identified any particular major cost savings coming out of this move.”
Mr Wildman: Is he going to raise it at the first ministers’ conference?
Mr Reycraft: The point I am making is that there is very broad support for keeping the base open within the city of London. Indeed, even the peace activists in this country are unhappy about the decision to close the base. Just two weeks ago, the national chairman of Ploughshares Canada spoke against the CFB closure when he was doing an interview on national television with the deputy mayor of London, Jack Burghart. The national chairman referred to the foolhardy action that the federal government is taking in closing CFB London and armed forces bases right across Canada.
My resolution is based on really three arguments. First of all, I believe that while the federal government argues that closing the base is necessary to reduce the deficit and is a cost-cutting measure, the relocation will not save money at all. It will in fact cost money to relocate the troops, and that cost will more than negate any savings.
The second point I will make this morning is that while the federal government has said that the reserve forces, the militia at CFB London, who number some 1,300, are to remain in London despite the closure, the reality is that without the equipment and the training and the expertise that can be provided by the regular services personnel from the first RCR, the role of the militia in London will be reduced significantly.
The third point I want to make this morning is that the move will also have tremendous regional economic impact. It will result in a loss of 1,219 jobs and a loss of some $70 million to the local economy.
Mr Wildman: Just rich, fat cats come from there.
Mr Reycraft: I will make the point that London is not the rich, fat cat city that most people seem to think it is. In fact, if you look at median incomes, both Petawawa township and the village of Petawawa have median incomes that exceed those in the city of London and those in Middlesex county. The closure of CFB London and the relocation of the troops to Petawawa simply cannot be justified.
The federal government has predicted that by closing the base it will save an estimated $9.2 million per year and that there will be an overall net savings of $164 million over 15 years. Time is far too limited this morning to go through a comprehensive analysis of the federal government’s projected savings, but I do want to say that, quite simply, it has done two things. It has overestimated the cost-reduction that will result from closing CFB London and it has underestimated the relocation of the troops. It has underestimated that relocation at both ends. It has underestimated what it will cost in terms of unemployment insurance payments and in terms of retraining at the London end of the relocation, and even worse, it has grossly underestimated what it will cost to house and to service the increased population at Petawawa.
We have been in frequent contact with officials in the Petawawa area, and the indications there are very clearly that the water-servicing facilities, the sanitary-sewage disposal facilities and the educational system in the area are simply not, at this point, adequate to be able to handle this increase in population. Providing those will result in an enormous cost that will far offset any savings
I want to conclude my remarks at this point. I look forward to the comments that my colleagues will make on this resolution.
Mr Wildman: I think it is most appropriate that we are debating this matter in the Legislature this morning, just before the weekend of Remembrance Day. The RCR has a long tradition, as was indicated by my colleague, a tradition that many people will be thinking about this weekend, in service to this country and to protection of the freedoms that we hold dear here in this Legislature and throughout Ontario and Canada.
I must say that I agree with the presenter of the resolution in that, in my view, this is being penny wise and pound foolish on the part of the federal government. To move the base from London to Petawawa has not been shown at all to save significant amounts of money, while at the same time, it is going to inevitably produce enormous dislocation.
I think it is ironic that the Progressive Conservative federal government, which claims to be in favour of strengthening our armed forces and has attacked my party and the Liberal Party as being unprepared to put resources into the armed forces, into upgrading the capabilities of the armed forces, would be taking the moves it is now taking, not just in London but across Canada, with regard to a number of military bases.
I think it is also ironic that at the same time as the federal Conservatives are spending enormous amounts of money to change the uniform of the armed forces -- a move that is supported by many because of the view that the previous government, when it unified the forces and brought in the new uniform, was denying traditions that were important to the military, but which is costing an enormous amount of money -- this is being done by a government that says it is committed to upgrading the armed forces. It is spending enormous amounts of money on uniforms, on textiles, while our armed forces are the laughing stock of the western alliance with regard to equipment and numbers.
I think it really belies the words of the Prime Minister of this country when he says he is committed to a strong defence force for this nation and a strong role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the North American Air Defence Command.
I think it is interesting that my colleague should mention that his colleague from London, the Premier of this province, is quoted as being opposed to this move by the federal government. When he said that, I could not help but interject and ask whether the Premier was going to raise this matter at the first ministers’ conference. His brother Liberal Premier from Prince Edward Island is committed to raising the matter of the closing and downgrading of the base at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, at the first ministers’ conference. If the Premier of this province is as committed as apparently he says he is to preservation of the base in his own home town, surely he is going to raise this matter with the Prime Minister and the other premiers during the conference that is now going on.
If, however, the Premier of this province does not raise this matter with the Prime Minister and the other premiers, does that indicate he is not really committed to the preservation of the base in London? Does that really indicate he is going to put more than just words but he is actually going to bat, not just for this province but for his own constituency, to protect the jobs that are important because of the base in London?
I understand Mr Ghiz, the Premier of Prince Edward Island, has stated that if the issues of Meech Lake are reopened at this first ministers’ conference, he intends to raise the issue of Summerside as part of the bargaining chip in the Meech Lake accord discussions. I am a little surprised at that. I do not quite see the connection between the downgrading of certain military bases in this country and the negotiation of a Constitution for this country. But obviously the Liberal Premier of Prince Edward Island sees the connection, just as in the past, I suppose, premiers of certain provinces have seen connections between frigates and constitutions. Then again, that was a Conservative Premier, was it not?
However, if Ontario’s Premier is as committed to London and to the CFB London as the Premier of Prince Edward Island is to CFB Summerside, I think we will see reports and we will see on television the serious concerns of the Premier being raised by the Prime Minister during that conference.
I would be most disappointed if the Premier of this province did not make his views on this matter known more forcefully to the Prime Minister of Canada. If, for some reason, he does not raise it, I do not think it would be fair to say that it somehow slipped his mind because, after all, he not only is the Premier of the province but he represents the city of London in this House.
I suppose he might accept the argument, and I would have a hard time disagreeing, that the closure of the London base really is not central to the Meech Lake discussions, but the Prime Minister of this country has said that this conference is not really about Meech Lake, this conference is about the economy of this country. Surely the closure of a base in London is about the economy of London, so it would certainly fit into that context and fit into that discussion to say, “We are opposed to the loss of jobs in London, Ontario, because of the ill-advised policy of the federal government.”
I expect the Premier to make that position clear when he is discussing economic questions with the Prime Minister of Canada. If he does not do that, he is failing his responsibility not only to the province of Ontario, but to the RCR, to the veterans of this province and to his own community of London.
I hope I am right in expecting the Premier to raise this issue in Ottawa. I hope that is the case. If by some chance it does not happen and if it is not public, if it is not on television for everyone in Ontario, in Canada and in London to see, then we will know that the Prime Minister of this country is not being informed by the Premier of this province about the serious concerns held by his colleague, his other colleagues in London and the people of London about this policy of downgrading the base in their home town.
I understand that the premiers and the Prime Minister had dinner last night and that they spoke at great length to one another. I heard descriptions on radio this morning about the language that was used in that discussion. But I understand it was the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland who did most of the talking at that meeting, that he spoke about 40 per cent of the time and that these discussions were about Meech Lake.
Again we get back to Meech Lake -- the very topic that the Prime Minister of this country says is not the main subject of the discussions at the conference. Certainly the conference, which is supposed to deal with the economy, as Prime Minister Mulroney has made so clear, is a tremendous opportunity for the Premier of Ontario to fight for the people of his own community and to fight against the downgrading of the base in London.
As I said earlier, it is certainly most appropriate that we are debating this matter in this House just before Remembrance Day. I take very seriously the feelings that I know most veterans must have when they think about the sacrifice made by their confrères in both world wars and the traditions that the RCR have in London and how they are disappointed in the federal Conservatives’ failure to live up to the rhetoric they used prior to the second-to-last federal election when the Conservatives attacked the Liberals and said it was time to strengthen the armed forces.
They went on at great length about the lack of modern equipment, the understaffing of the armed forces, the need to upgrade our commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the North American Air Defence Command and the need to be able to guard our shores adequately rather than being dependent on other nations for our own protection. But what have they done since? The first thing they did was to discontinue our commitment under NATO to Norway and then they limited our commitment in West Germany.
Maybe it is a legitimate thing in terms of overall defence policy to say that Europe today, particularly with the changes that are taking place in eastern Europe, is strong enough to handle its own defence, but surely there are few in this House who would disagree with the view that it is the responsibility of Canada, in conjunction with its allies, of course, to protect Canada and to have a force that is credible and can handle the responsibilities not just of military protection, but things such as search and rescue and emergency measures in terms of natural disasters and the need for assistance to help find people who have been lost in the bush and so on. Surely it is incumbent upon this country to meet its own obligations.
I say that we were not told the whole truth, quite literally -- I am being as careful as I can -- by the Prime Minister of this country when he campaigned and said he was going to strengthen the armed forces. His record since then has been the complete opposite and the major commitment that has been made by the federal government to the armed forces of this nation is in terms of uniforms.
Uniforms are nice; people tend to look pretty -- you look very nice in yours, Mr Speaker -- but they do not do much to strengthen the armed forces. They may help morale, I will admit that. They may, indeed, help morale. I know your morale is always very high, Mr Speaker, it has to be to carry out your functions in this House, which I must say you do with aplomb.
However, I will conclude by saying that if the federal Tories have failed to live up to their commitment to the armed forces of this nation and are closing down bases across the country, including the base in London, and transferring, consolidating and downgrading the armed forces bases across this nation with the justification that this is being done because we need to save money, all I can say is that saving money is not even being served in this case. There must be some other reason.
I want to also conclude by saying that I hope, trust and expect the Premier of this province to meet his obligation by raising this matter with the Prime Minister at the first ministers’ conference.
Mrs Cunningham: I appreciate the opportunity that the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft) has provided us to speak to this most important issue in the House. I would like to say right from the onset that I arrived late and did not hear the member’s comments. I apologize for that, and when my comments are concluded I will be leaving to go into the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, which is investigating Bills 46 and 47. For the members who have travelled so far, I truly apologize, but our time here is tremendously limited and those are the tax bills that have to do with OHIP.
I have never avoided this issue at all. In fact, I was looking at the comments I did make upon first glance, which I have discussed with Mr Shields and Colonel Lawson, and I have no problem at all in relooking at the position, given the fact that at the time all of us thought this was one of the major cost-saving efforts on behalf of the federal government to look at some kind of reduction of the tremendous debt that we have in this country and in fact in this province and one that we are concerned about in every way possible, because we are passing on these tremendous liabilities to our young people. I know the save-the-base committee is appreciative of this opportunity for all of us to take a look at the base and what it has contributed to London in the past and what it can contribute to London in the future.
I especially appreciate the comments of the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman). I thank him for his support on this issue and I too am very much concerned about the lack of leadership the Premier of this province has given. We have not seen him actively involved in any statements. As a matter of fact, I object this morning; all of us have had two weeks’ lead time and we do not have the Premier here to speak to it. Others have had to rearrange their time to be here. I think it is an extremely important issue that affects the constituency he represents and I share the concerns of the member for Algoma.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I do not want to take the member’s time because I know this is important in her own community, but to be fair, the Premier of the province is at the first ministers’ conference.
The Deputy Speaker: That is a point of information.
Mrs Cunningham: I am aware of that and I would have thought then, since the first ministers’ conference had been planned with a lot of lead time, that perhaps this debate could have been arranged on another day and that would have made good sense. That was the intent of my statement.
I want to be very clear. This is a motion that could have been put at any time. We are looking down the road to a closure of a base. The long-term plan is 1992. I am glad we are working on it now and my comments relate to the importance of that particular base in the city of London and I will stand on those comments. This is a motion that could have been presented when all members from London could have been here. It is presented today and the Premier is not here.
Mrs E. J. Smith: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The Premier would not be speaking on a private member’s bill, regardless of the nature of the bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you for the point of information. The member may continue.
Mrs Cunningham: There probably could have been another opportunity and a process for all members representing the city of London and Middlesex and anyone else to make the same statements that are being made in this House.
You should note, Mr Speaker, that the member for Middlesex has one issue in the way of a private member’s statement in this session. That is my understanding. He may, if he is extremely important, have two. That information was received from the clerk’s office. I think it is extremely important to know, just because I think there is more to this. This is politics that we are talking about this morning, and I am very aware of it. There are other issues on the public agenda today and there could have been a better time when we could have all been together at Queen’s Park and made this statement on behalf of the province of Ontario. That is my point and I do not want to belabour it.
I want to thank the save-the-base committee for its excellent brief, as well as the mayor of London for his brief. I think it is important to discuss something that is going to affect the quality of life in our city, the jobs of our citizens, the history and the future of the military in southwestern Ontario. It is an important issue. I commend the save-the-base committee and I commend anyone who has been involved in this particular process. I think the 1987 white paper regarding the revitalization of the reserve forces or the total force concept was most valuable to me. I have had opportunities to discuss it with people at the federal level and certainly with people in my own community and I support the importance of co-location between regular and reserve forces whenever possible.
I have been extremely involved over the years in the activities at the base as a member of the board of education and we have supported the kind of training that our young people have received and that is so necessary, not only to our own city and our community, but to Canada as a whole.
I would very much fear for the loss of that opportunity for young people as well as the others who have been very much brought to the public attention because of this debate. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the citizens of what we call the garrison city of London to talk about the future of this Canadian Forces Base because of the kinds of promises that have been made in the past that have not been kept, and certainly because of the slow deterioration of that particular base and services to our city.
The issue for me, personally, right now has to do with the results of such a decision, the family disruption the loss of jobs it would cause. These issues are important to all of us who represent the public, as you well know, Mr Speaker, and I have been in contact with many citizens.
Good information is the only hope we have as we look at tough decisions that have to be made in southwestern Ontario, in Ontario and in Canada as a whole. I guess the greatest disappointment for me is that I do not think we do have good information to support this particular action on behalf of the federal government. I have updated information, and the facts I have received from the minister in Ottawa do not coincide with the information I have been given from either the city of London or the save-the-base committee. In my position, I am not going to take a strong stand on those facts because I think they have to be reworked and I think there needs to be a lot of opportunity for consultation with the federal government on this.
Everybody knows that this motion is for the minister and the government of Canada to reconsider the action. During that process of reconsideration, which I think should go on over the next few weeks and months and not be dragged out into the next year, I would hope, if at all possible, that I could play a meaningful role. We do have time for this reconsideration and I think if the province of Ontario can be of some assistance I would like to help.
I know the federal Minister of National Defence, the Honourable William McKnight, will agree with me that this is certainly a fair issue for reconsideration and that the arguments that were put forth by the save-the-base committee are responsible and reasonable.
The member for Middlesex has said that is not what the minister is telling him. I would hope that the member for Middlesex and the Premier will use their considerable power and their responsibility to open up these negotiations and have meaningful discussions, because I do not think two sides in this argument will ever solve the problem.
I have been involved in representing the public over a number of years, some 16, in the city of London, and the only time I have had any meaningful resolution to any problem has been the time when we have sat down, often outside of the public eye, and come to some kind of sensible, responsible conclusions. If I have ever seen an issue where that has not happened, it is this one and there are more opportunities.
I am sorry that it has to be politicized in this way. I hope I will be able to be involved. I think the group from London dedicated to saving the base should be commended. I would like to thank them for their efforts. I hope that from time to time they will meet with me. I will do whatever I can to discuss this resolution with the minister, the Honourable William McKnight. It is true that I have not done that in the past. I make no bones about it. I thought the negotiations or the discussions were proceeding. I see with this motion that at least the member for Middlesex feels there ought to be more support for those discussions and I am happy to be part of them.
It would be very difficult for me to say anything but positive things about this resolution. My great regret is that the timing was not such that the Premier could be here in this House to prove to all of us whether it is appropriate or not or in another arena, but this is an important issue for him as well.
I thank the members for the opportunity. I hope that we will come to a resolution. I will certainly plan a very active role in those discussions, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much. I will be supporting the resolution.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Hearing the debate on private member’s notice of motion 30, the member for Middlesex, we thank the honourable member for London North (Mrs Cunningham). In continuation of rotation, the honourable member for London South.
Mrs E. J. Smith: It is my pleasure to speak to this resolution. My colleagues and I have each agreed to approach this subject from a somewhat different point of view. As such, I am allowed to present my personal position that indeed I am an army brat. For those who do not know what this means and might think it refers to my present behaviour, it in fact means that I am the child of a permanent force army officer, and indeed spent many of my years living in army barracks.
Let me say, Mr Speaker, in this esteemed House that I am very proud of my father, who was indeed one of the youngest, if not the youngest, colonels in the Great War and who was one of the most decorated soldiers in that way -- in a war, in fact, when fewer decorations were given out. As you would assume, I was raised in a home where Canadianism was part of our daily bread; where patriotism and duty to the country were stressed and demonstrated.
I well understand that a nation cannot assume that it has a hold on peace and security or on its right to the democratic process. They indeed are not inherited gratis, but they must be constantly earned. They cannot be handed down from generation to generation, but each generation must be its own watchdog. Indeed, the armed forces are only a part of this picture. We must teach the values of democracy in our homes; in our education system, we must sharpen the wits of our young people to make sure that democracy is never undermined in this country; and in society at large we must continue to pass laws that embody the meaning and intent of the democratic system.
But what are laws? How can they be interpreted if we do not put in place at the same time those people and those forces to make sure that the laws have meaning? Is there anyone in this House who is so naïve as to assume that we could have civil law without courts and police forces? As we respect these laws, so indeed we must pay the price for them -- in past generations in lives, in this generation in dollars and cents.
If we mean it when we say that we must protect property, safety, and enforce the laws, then we have to put our will into that meaning, and so as well on the international scene. Canada has a proud role of defending democracy in two wars, of fighting back with others fascism in Europe and imperialism in the Pacific. We helped in those, we continued after the wars to be very active in many peace-keeping operations around this world and we remain ready to serve the United Nations in this peace-keeping, and indeed in that very important role of helping to supervise and enforce free elections in countries that are newly coming into democracy.
Canadian residents, including the residents of Ontario, do not wish to see this role of which we are proud diminished in any way. It is jingoism to be proud of Canada’s role? Is it extravagance to keep up this important peace-keeping operation? My colleague, the member for Middlesex, has demonstrated that indeed we save no money by the closing of such barracks as Wolseley, and indeed, even if this were not so, the people of Ontario and the people of Canada would not support this.
The role of the armed forces in the enforcement of international law must remain to stand ready and to be there when they are called upon, but the forces serve two other roles. In the case of London, which is an inland community, I would say this is especially true of the army. They must be in our midst where we know they can serve us in any emergencies or disasters that might occur within our communities.
Second and more important, they, like the police, must be a presence in our midst that reminds us at all times and makes us aware of our responsibility and of our pride. How is this sense of awareness preserved if we put them instead in isolated areas consolidated away by themselves at arm’s length from those they serve? This does not give the message that we need in a democracy, when we set them apart and when we let them represent themselves and their expertise in more isolated settings. No, they need to be in our midst representing our will, pride and responsibility both nationally and internationally.
Across this nation communities have been proud of their regiments of which they have a long history in which they have made great sacrifice. My father was part of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse and later involved as district officer commanding in London with the Royal Canadian Regiment. But we have others across this country, the Van Doos in Quebec, the Princess Pats, the Black Watch, the Toronto Scottish, the Perth, the Essex and Kent, only a few that are household words but which have served to be the backbone of our patriotism and our connection to our obligations.
This weekend across this country and in Ontario communities people will come out, including their children, to honour veterans, to remember our dead and to recommit ourselves. I am always amazed at how moved I am and how moved these people are as they come to honour these veterans. They own them, they identify with them and they do not wish to lose them in their midst. London, like many other Canadians, urges the federal government to reconsider its present move and to leave this army base in London.
Mr Villeneuve: I too rise for the very few moments left for my party to support the member for Middlesex, my friend and colleague. We come from ridings that are very similar and certainly I support the concept that, yes, one is always concerned when changes are made such as withdrawing Canadian Forces Base London from a long-established position in the community. I certainly support the member for London South in her great speech about Remembrance Day. I think we all support that and we are certainly all in favour.
However, I have had a number of private members’ bills come to this Legislature and they never go anywhere. We talk for a whole hour here and whether they are accepted or rejected they go nowhere. I am afraid this is what is happening here. The concern I have is that the member for Middlesex brings this issue -- a very important issue -- to the Legislature in private members’ hour when he knows full well that not very much of anything will occur following a vote or a unanimous support of his resolution.
I can recall back in a political era prior to this government when Bill Davis represented Brampton. He represented Brampton very well. I do not remember any private members having to get up to bring forth a message to try to support something that was happening in Brampton, so there is something rather strange. A communication is lacking or there is lack of confidence in the Premier when right in his backyard a member has to bring forth to this Legislature a private member’s bill trying to get the attention of the Premier of this province to do something. It is somewhat strange.
The late John Robarts represented a riding in the city of London. Do members recall any private members’ bills coming from the back benches to support something that was happening or not happening in the London area?
Mr Epp: Do you support it or don’t you?
Mr Villeneuve: I sure do, but it is somewhat strange to the member who just interjected that this has to come from the back benches. A former Solicitor General also, of course, supports it.
My colleague and friend the member for London North very much supports it. Sometimes I even think that there are political overtones to a private member’s bill coming in this fashion, political overtones of the most crass political kind. That is my concern. It is somewhat strange that the Premier in his backyard has to be reminded by the member for Middlesex that there is going to be a problem here. The mayor of the city of London is very much on side and very active in the save-the-base committee, and I commend him for that.
The member for Middlesex, coming from a rural riding, I think, could have supported some things that are a lot -- he has to build on his strengths. I am a farmer; he is coming from a professional teacher’s position. I know his family is very much in agriculture. I go back to the 4-H days when I met judging teams from across the province and Middlesex was very much there. In the Junior Farmer days, at the Lake Couchiching leadership training camp, Middlesex was always there. Has the member been to his local grain elevator lately? They cannot go in; they are all jammed.
Why not get something going that could clean the air and be positive for agriculture? Build on his strengths. We do not want to see the base in London closed, of course not, but using politics to do what this government does so well -- putting the blame at the board-of-education level, the municipal level, the federal level but not shouldering its responsibilities --
We support this bill.
Mr Tatham: I rise in support of the member for Middlesex’s resolution. I will start off with Tommy:
I went into a public house to get a pint of beer.
The publican he up an’ says, ‘We serve no Redcoats here.’
The girls behind the bar, they laughed an’ giggled fit to die.
I outs into the street again an’ to myself, says I,
‘Oh, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Tommy go away’;
But it’s ‘Thank you, Mr Atkins,’ when the band begins to play.
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play.
Oh, it’s ‘Thank you, Mr Atkins,’ when the band begins to play.
Some people would say: “Oh, that is Rudyard Kipling’s verse. It is jingoistic or worse,” but remember Sputnik, the Soviet satellite and, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That was just 20 years ago and said by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
The world is the same physical size, however, with instant communication satellites and jet aircraft, we have telescoped travel time and information time. What is Canada’s role in the world of the 1990s and the 21st century? What can we contribute? What have we done in the past? How many nations have paid attention to the commandment that thou shalt not kill?
Let’s look at the record. The year was 1609 and the place the shore of Lake Champlain. A matchlock musket touched off with a smouldering rope wick set ablaze a guerrilla war which continued for 80 years and almost drove the first settlers out of the St Lawrence valley. Time will not permit to recall all the skirmishes encountered through the 17th and 18th centuries in Canada.
Coming to the last great contest for Canada, the War of 1812 to 1814, the official military historian, C. P. Stacey, says that the chief credit for the saving of Canada in 1812 was due to British soldiers. It was scientifically defended by men trained for the job. The regulars did more than supply the leadership; they usually did the lion’s share of the job.
As Damon Runyon said, “The race isn’t always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”
John Terraine, in his book The Right of the Lion, said that the British people collectively, leaders and led, committed between the first and second World Wars the cardinal error: they made a picture of future wars.
“A general should never paint pictures.” This was said by Napoléon. He meant not only generals, but it also applies to political leaders. We should never try to force facts into preconceived patterns.
Lord Dowding’s doctrine “the fear of the fighter” was demonstrated and successfully so during the summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain. It was won by the tightest discipline of all ranks, from the air chief marshal down.
After the capitulation of the Belgians, it was intensive training, the discipline and leadership of General Montgomery that extricated his division from its position at Rabat. Monty had to move his division into transport across the front of an enemy attack without lights, over 25 miles of minor roads and then get his troops dug in by dawn in an unfamiliar sector, to meet the overwhelming German attack. They were on their way to Dunkirk.
Discipline and training have gone on at Wolseley barracks for over 100 years. Ted Farmer enlisted in the Royal Canadian Regiment through Wolseley barracks in 1938 at the age of 15; boy soldier, pay 50 cents a day. Before becoming a regular soldier, he had achieved the princely sum of $21.70 a month. Ernie Bond enlisted at Wolseley barracks. He served overseas with the 62nd light anti-aircraft, Bofors, as did many other thousands of young men and women from across western Ontario.
In Oxford county we have splendid cadet corps -- army cadets in Ingersoll and Woodstock, sea cadets in Woodstock and air cadets in Tillsonburg. We are proud of the cadet corps, the sponsors and the cadets. The young people take part and learn self-discipline. The people in the counties around Wolseley barracks have looked to the personnel from Wolseley for professional leadership, the Perths, the Oxford Rifles, the Elgins and others. Our own county regiment, the Oxford Rifles, is now part of the fourth battalion of the RCRs, London and Oxford Fusiliers.
Let me share the fact that, in zone B2, that is Oxford, of the Royal Canadian Legion, we have eight branches, Norwich–Tillsonburg, Ingersoll Beachville, Thamesford, Embro, Tavistock and Woodstock -- with approximately 3,500 members. Our Oxford county naval veterans’ association has over 600 members, and on Remembrance Day, wreaths are placed not only there but also at memorials at Chesterfield, Plattsville and Dixsons Corners. Our peaceful, rural Oxford scene belies the fact that many thousands of young men and women enlisted for service during the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.
What will Canada’s role be? How can we help in this world with an exploding population? Perhaps as peacekeepers, similar to our activities in Cyprus, but we need professional leadership here in military district number 1, otherwise we will be abdicating our responsibility to a tradition that goes back in Oxford to 1798.
Let us support this resolution. To conclude with some more of Kipling:
“You talk of better food for us, an schools, an fires an all.
We’ll wait for extra rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cookroom slops, but prove it to our face,
The widow’s uniform is not the soldier man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, an’ ‘Chuck him out, the brute!’
But it’s ‘Saviour of ’is country’ when the guns begin to shoot.
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ everything you please,’
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool. You bet that Tommy sees.”
Mr Reycraft: I believe that I am allowed to use the balance of my caucus’s time, as well as the two minutes that are available to me as the mover of the motion. I want to thank my colleagues for their comments this morning. I am pleased that all five of those who spoke are going to be supporting the resolution. I appreciate the support from the member for Algoma. I want to assure him that the Premier is fully committed to opposing the closure of this base and I am sure that over the course of his few days in Ottawa this week, attending the first ministers’ conference, that he will indeed have an opportunity to present his views to the Prime Minister of this country. I only hope the Prime Minister will listen to them.
I appreciate the support from the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus. I regret very much the approach taken by the member for London North. I should have known, when she criticized the Premier for his absence here this morning, that the Premier is where he should be on this day, in Ottawa at that first ministers’ conference, trying very hard to address what is quickly developing into a constitutional crisis in this country, and as well, presenting the views of this province with respect to the goods and services tax, a tax that apparently nobody in Canada, save and except the members of the federal cabinet, seems to want.
The member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr Villeneuve) expressed a view that private members’ resolutions often did not seem to go anywhere. I want to assure him that I will be forwarding a copy of this resolution, along with a copy of the Hansard, to the four federal members who represent the city of London and Middlesex county; to the minister responsible, Mr McKnight; to the Minister of Finance, Mr Wilson, and to the Prime Minister of this country. If he would like to send a note along letting those officials know that this information is coming and adding his endorsement to keeping CFB London open and in London, I would be delighted to have that support.
Much has been said about the economic impact of the closing. Let me simply address that very briefly once again. In trying to justify the closure of the base on an economic argument, I believe that the government of Canada is perpetrating a hoax on the Canadian people. Closing the base and relocating the first RCR to Petawawa will not reduce the federal debt. Indeed, it will increase it.
I want to also express my concern for the militia. The militia has long been a presence in southwestern Ontario, and a militia, a reserve force is important to any community. It is important to the country. Without the presence of regular military forces at CFB London, I think the effectiveness of the militia there is going to be jeopardized as well. I think its future is placed in some jeopardy.
I want to at the very end express the extreme frustration that is being felt by all of the people in London and Middlesex about this proposed base closure. They have been trying to tell the government of Canada it is inappropriate. Nobody seems to be listening. I beseech them to listen to what has been said today.
The Acting Speaker: This concludes this portion of the debate on ballot item 25, Mr Reycraft.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Breaugh moved second reading of Bill 73, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr Breaugh: I think this is probably a most appropriate forum to introduce this notion of a licence for the operation of a boat. It is something that has been discussed in public at some length. I believe it now is apparent, to me at least, that the province of Ontario ought to take the lead in Canada in sorting out precisely how one would go about that.
A colleague of mine, the member for Simcoe East (Mr McLean), has introduced kind of a stand-alone bill which would provide a separate licence. In thinking through the matter, however, I thought that a better way was to take an existing statute, the one that we use for most other motor vehicles, and that is the Highway Traffic Act, and to simply add a classification to that which would be called perhaps a marine operator’s licence. That would get us around the problem of creating a new bureaucracy. It would use an existing system for licensing that we now know and it would provide a nice broad legal framework on which you could base the laws that would cover boaters.
There are some difficulties with the bill and I think I would like to try to address them initially. There is a bit of a jurisdictional problem on the water. No one seems quite sure whether the waters of Canada are covered by the federal government, the provincial government, municipal governments, harbour commissions or whom. None the less, we have all understood that there is a need for some enforcement procedures. So outside the little lake where I operate, Lake Ontario, on the waters there will be on any given day an RCMP patrol boat out there, a patrol boat from the Ontario Provincial Police and a patrol boat from the region of Durham police. So notwithstanding the jurisdictional problems that might be there, police forces are aware that they do have an increasing and sometimes an alarming number of accidents occurring on the water and they need to patrol those waterways.
Some would argue, of course, that there is not enough enforcement, and that will be a problem. The moment you actually do put in a licensing system and you have a legal framework, you will then raise people’s expectations -- quite rightly -- about enforcement. But I believe we need to think this process through and this bill is the first step in that, in my view.
Like many people, I have been interested in boating for some time, since I was a small kid and we used to run boats on a little lake called Beaver Lake. On a busy day, there would be maybe a dozen boats out there. The highest horsepower that anybody had when I was around was about a 25-horsepower Evinrude. There was not much danger, there was not much need to control the traffic on the lake, there was not as great a pollution problem as there is now. But I must say last year I got the bug again and I spent a very pleasant summer boating on Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte and the St Lawrence, and it is fun.
For those of us who are at an age where we would like to buy a cottage, the first thing you realize when you go shopping for cottages these days is that most of us cannot afford a cottage. Many of us would have thought that a boat is too expensive, and some of them certainly are. We all go to the boat shows. We get our soft-soled shoes on and we walk around the multimillion-dollar yachts. It does not take very long, and you do not have to be a genius, to figure out that on a member’s salary here you are not going to be buying many yachts. After that, you begin to figure out that even if your grandmother left you the fortune and you could afford to buy the yacht, a 300-gallon fuel tank is something that is pretty expensive to fill up and you could not afford to operate it.
But if you shop around, as I did, you will find that there are smaller cruisers that are made here in Canada, very fine products equipped here in Canada, and you can afford those. You can in fact enjoy an afternoon on the lake, any of the lakes around Ontario, for about the same kind of money as it would cost you to take your family to the motion pictures for an afternoon. It is possible. You just reduce your sights a little bit and you can do it.
More and more people are turning to that, and that creates the problem I think we have to address now. If you come into the Toronto harbour on a bright, sunny afternoon, even in the middle of the week, it will soon become apparent to you that there ought to be some kind of licensing process at work here, because in the Toronto harbour you will see something that is a little unique but not that unusual. You will see industrial freighters moving through the eastern gap, you will see pleasure craft of all sorts and sizes all over the place, you will see ferries working a regular schedule, you will see paddle-boats. Anything that will float is in that harbour on a given afternoon and in numbers that correspond to what you see every morning on the Don Valley Parkway.
The scary thought is that most of them, I hope, have had some boater training but very few of them will have much in the way of a licence requirement. If they are commercial operators, they require a licence. The Toronto Harbour Commissioners, on their own initiative, have taken up the cause and done a little licensing program of their own, but of course visiting cruisers do not necessarily have those licences.
One of the things that became apparent to me last year is that perhaps I should get a little refresher course and so I took the Canadian Power Squadron course put on by the Oshawa Power Squadron at Donevan Collegiate. It is a useful exercise in terms of boater education, learning the rules of the road for the waterways, learning a little bit about your boat and how it handles, a little bit about basic navigational skills, but I was struck by one thing that one of the instructors said to us one night.
He said this, and it has all come true unfortunately, “Some time at the beginning of the boating year, someone will not follow the proper procedures for refuelling a boat and the boat will explode and be completely destroyed and perhaps someone will lose his life,” and that happened. He said, “Some time during the course of this boating year, a very experienced sailor will go out on Lake Ontario when it’s a little rougher than it should be, be hit by a spar or a piece of wood, fall overboard into a very cold lake and die,” and that happened.
He said, “Some time during the course of this boating year, someone will rent a boat he is unfamiliar with and that boat will sink and there will be loss of life involved in that,” and that has happened. He said, “Some time during the course of this year, someone will rent a houseboat and not be sure of how to operate a houseboat and get in difficulty with it and there will be property damage and loss of life,” and that too has happened.
He said, “Some time during the course of the year, someone will go out on the lake after the boating season is over with and get in trouble and we’ll have to go out and rescue that person,” and that happened just yesterday. A fellow took a 22-foot motorboat out on the lake. The motor conked out on him. He had some problems. The rescue boat from Pickering had to come over to the Whitby harbour and pick him up off a buoy. The water in Lake Ontario at this time of the year is pretty chilly to get dumped into the lake. The rescue operation is pretty expensive to operate.
All of those things happened, and the tragedy of course is we know that. I think we all really know that there ought to be some licensing provisions, that there ought to be better enforcement on the waterways. That need is apparent on any holiday weekend, anywhere through the Trent-Severn, anywhere in the Muskokas, where anyone can see what is happening on the waterways of Ontario. So I think the problem is apparent to most of us.
Many are reluctant to say, “Go to a licensing system,” but the truth is you cannot send a police officer out there if there are not any laws to enforce. That is the basic problem. You cannot take away a licence if they do not need a licence in the first instance. The truth is if the kid next door at your cottage next summer hops in his father’s new speedboat with 200 or 300 horsepower -- you can now buy a production boat that will travel on the water at 65 to 70 miles an hour -- if that kid jumps in that boat and rams your dock, it may cause a problem but it is not apparent that a law has been broken. You cannot take his licence away because he does not require a licence, and if he is of a particular age you probably cannot even sue him because he is not an adult. So I think it is time that we began to think about the process, the licensing process, the requirements.
I think it is also safe to say that if the public wants to, there are a multitude of power squadrons that offer educational and safety courses. There are high schools and community colleges that do the same thing. There are boating clubs and yacht clubs that do the same kind of thing. So it would not be hard to write a regulation that acknowledged the work that those people do in educating people in boating safety. It would not be hard to turn your mind to how one would do the licensing provision. This bill is an attempt to do that with a minimum of fuss and bother.
I think the overall question is the one that we should be asking ourselves. I heard Ontario’s Solicitor General (Mr Offer) comment after yet another unfortunate boating tragedy this summer that yes, Ontario ought to think about licensing the people who operate boats. I think that is way overdue.
It is ridiculous that on my boat I have to have the boat registered, and it is; I have to have a licence for the VHF radio that is on the boat, and I do; I have to have a licence to operate the VHF radio that is on the boat, and I do. But I do not have to have a licence to operate the boat. That is silly. There is no question about it that there are boats that are worth a lot of money on the water all the time. People who operate those boats ought to be licensed.
Nobody I know wants to insist that you have a licence for some kid to take a canoe out on the lake, so I have attempted to put in here the same acknowledged cutoff point, that it would be 10 horsepower or more that required the licensing. I have attempted to put in the bill a provision that we want to teach our young people how to operate the boat safely, so the requirement is that someone on the boat has the licence and that anyone else on the boat can operate the boat. In the traditional sense of sea, the captain has the papers and there may be others on the crew who operate the vessel for a period of time.
I commend this bill to the members to think about because I think it is important that we begin this process. I will be interested in the debate that follows this morning.
Mrs Marland: I rise with pleasure this morning to support Bill 73, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act. It is rather surprising that boating regulations come under the Highway Traffic Act. However, they do. I, in supporting this bill, commend the member for Oshawa for his foresight in bringing forward legislation which is obviously long overdue.
It is an interesting aspect of our affluent society that we are concerned in a province the size of Ontario with the amount of water that is available in our province; that, in speaking of recreation, we are now faced with a situation of density of the operation of boats for recreational purposes on waters in Ontario, both lakes and rivers.
I think another spinoff from our affluent society and our increased standard of living today is we not only have people who are purchasing many more boats, many more powerful motorboats, but we also have a great number of people who are renting these kinds of boats. I think where we are dealing with someone who is renting a boat, perhaps we are dealing with an area where members of the public, who are also on those lakes and waterways, are even at greater risk because if somebody is renting, very often he does not have the interest in the protection of the boat itself.
It is the same as renting a car. When cars are rented, people are not as protective of them as they are of their own vehicles, and I certainly think it applies to boats as well. But also, people who rent boats generally do not have the opportunity to have the accumulative experience of operating boats on a regular basis. Therefore, to require all boat operators to be licensed, I think, as I said a moment ago, frankly is long overdue and it is basic common sense.
If we look at two uses of motorboats, we are looking first of all at transportation, and certainly people who operate boats for transportation have other licences that they have to comply with, some of which I will not repeat because the member for Oshawa has just outlined requirements to be able to be licensed to use certain equipment on boats of a certain size. Certainly the operators of transportation boats, cruise boats, tour boats of that size already have to meet certain licensing requirements.
But then the other kind of boat is recreation, and frankly I think it is a marvellous skill for young people to learn at an early age if they have that opportunity, but I also am very concerned about young people I see operating very powerful boats that even in a physical sense are beyond them.
I recognize that in this bill the member for Oshawa has been very careful not to address the subject of age. I also at this point want to give recognition to my own caucus colleague the member for Simcoe East. The member for Simcoe East introduced for first reading in May of this year his bill to legislate and control boating in Ontario. The bills are probably reasonably similar because they certainly have the same goal. The only difference is that the bill of the member for Simcoe East, I notice, proposed a horsepower of 25 horsepower and the bill of the member for Oshawa mentions 10 horsepower. Frankly, I prefer the 10-horsepower figure.
When we look at anyone operating a boat for recreational purposes we have to look at what it is he is doing. If they are touring around the lakes to visit their friends or go shopping or going out just purely to cruise, I happen to be someone who perhaps does not support the excessive speeds that now are available to these boats. Frankly, I do not think it is necessary for a boat to have 200- and 300-horsepower motors. That is another issue for another day, but I do not think it is necessary for a boat to be able to go 65 miles an hour.
But I can assure you that I have a tremendous concern when that boat is going 65 miles an hour with someone behind the wheel who in some cases cannot even see over the wheel because he is a very young person. Both in age and in a physical sense, they are very small. I think this presents a tremendous hazard and I think safe operation of these boats for licensed boat operators has got to come and it has to come very quickly.
When you see little seven- and eight-year-olds operating boats with 40- and 50-horsepower motors and you see them operating them at very high speeds for that size of boat and that size of individual -- I realize I am targeting young people, but frankly this summer on the lakes I have noticed this newest type of boat, which is a little fibreglass two-seater boat with a 40- or 50-horsepower motor on the back. It is sort of the modem version of what we used to call the sea flea, which used to go like a bat out of you know where. People used to think that was fine, just stir up the water, stir up the environment with tremendous noise under the guise of recreation.
Frankly, primarily I support the operation of all boats safely, but I question why it is our society has found it necessary to keep adding more and more speed to recreational boating. I recognize we need ski boats because people like to waterski, including myself, but you need a boat to go 35 miles an hour to waterski, and maybe 40 miles an hour if you want to do it barefoot, which is not my category.
Mr Breaugh: The images are really something here.
Mrs Marland: As the member for Oshawa says, he is enjoying the images, but I assure the member for Oshawa that I am not so far over the hill that I do not waterski any more.
That leads me to another subject, which I hope this government might take a look at through regulation, and that is the issue of jet skis. I think any of us who have been anywhere near recreational waters in this province in the last two or three years recognize that jet skis themselves can be a hazard, especially for people who are in the water swimming. Jet skis admittedly have a dead throttle or whatever the term is so that as soon as you let go of the throttle the jet ski dies, but while they are going they are very fast and powerful. They are a certain size; they are not as big as a boat, but they certainly are very hazardous to people who may be swimming in the water.
There should be some regulation for jet ski operators, I say to the member for Oshawa, as well as for boat operators in terms of boats with out-board motors.
We have the power squadron which is a marvellous opportunity for people who are serious boaters, and most serious boaters of large cabin cruisers and large cruise boats take a power squadron course. I am not suggesting that kind of requirement be mandated, but I certainly think power squadron instruction of some sort would be a great goal for this government to encourage operators of boats to take.
It is amazing when you are out trundling around -- we have a comparatively small boat. After being on the lakes for 40 years and operating a boat, I think very safely, as I do insist the members of our family do -- by the way, our children will tell you that when they were young, they were not allowed to take the large boat out. In fact, they hardly get the opportunity now because I feel that is our boat and they should provide their own.
We always felt that when the children were young and our friends and neighbours at the cottage operated in the same way, it was great for a young person to take out a little outboard with a five, six or seven horsepower motor and learn the skill and relationship of that boat and that motor to the water, to the weather, and most of all to other boat traffic. I am talking about 20 years ago when there was not the density of traffic there is today on the lakes. I think that the fact we now have the kind of density we do means the problem is extremely accelerated. We do not have the solution to that problem and the hazard that it poses today.
In closing, I will just say that there is a forward-thinking direction in this bill and I certainly hope the current Liberal government will heed the implications of not taking action in the interests of water safety. I feel people are put at risk by not even knowing common courtesy and the rules of the road, as it were, the rules of the water. We are very strict about obtaining motor vehicle driving licences. In fact, we have a minimum age of 16.
A motor vehicle is a death weapon in the wrong hands and not being operated properly. I suggest that the kind of high-powered boats we have available in Ontario today are equally potentially a death weapon in the hands of someone who does not respect what it is he or she is operating, does not know how to operate it or does not know the rule of water safety as far as boating is concerned. I certainly hope this bill will be supported by all parties.
Mr Miller: It gives me a lot of pleasure to rise this morning and speak on Bill 73, but first of all I would like to just congratulate the member for Oshawa and the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz), who is the Second Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. I think it is refreshing to have two members taking that position. I would like to think that things are working much more smoothly in the Legislature this session because of their leadership. Again, I would like to pay tribute to their work with regard to the House.
First of all, I would like to indicate to the member that I believe the bill he has brought forward is timely. Some comment was made this morning about private members’ hour not being productive, but I feel it is productive and gives an opportunity to debate issues from all sides of the House on concerns that are so important to everyone in Ontario.
This bill that has been brought forth certainly is one that is timely. I know the member for Oshawa has a new cruise ship and we are pleased he is able to do that and take advantage of the recreation facilities we have in Ontario, because we do have a lot of water and we have a great tourist area. There is no reason why members of this Legislature and all members of the province of Ontario cannot take advantage of that, so we are pleased with that.
I understand this bill and its purpose, the licensing of individuals to operate motorboats in a manner similar to the licensing of drivers of road vehicles. I support the intent of Bill 73 to advance safety on the water, but I cannot support it in its present form for a number of reasons. This gives me, as the parliamentary assistant for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. an opportunity to present the government’s position and to indicate to the Legislature what direction the government is taking.
The popularity of water-based recreation is growing rapidly, and I indicated that in the beginning. Ontario boaters are in a unique position to enjoy a vast resource and move across the water between three provinces, two countries and half a dozen states. We are very fortunate to have access to all those resources. The Trent-Severn waterway, the Rideau Canal and Georgian Bay and the Thirty Thousand Islands are renowned among boating enthusiasts for their scenery and history.
I would like to add too that my riding of Norfolk is along the north shore of Lake Erie. From my early days, we have spent many hours and days along that lake. We always looked across to Long Point with a lot of anticipation of some day reaching that and setting foot on it. It seemed so far away. We got that opportunity only in the last few years. As a matter of fact, when they located the Hydro plant at Nanticoke they talked about bringing the ships of seaweed right into Nanticoke, which seemed like such an impossibility but today that is happening.
It has a rock base and they have cut a channel that is capable of handling those ships from the St Lawrence Seaway and they are bringing coal. Since that point in time, Stelco has put in a commercial dock to service its industrial park and its steel plant at Nanticoke. It is extended out in the lake and it really has opened up Lake Erie for boating for commercial purposes and also for recreation purposes. Port Dover and the Grand River are being developed. With the north shore, the Welland Canal, there is access to everyone in the province, giving a connecting link for our whole water system.
These wonderful attractions make boating an extremely popular form of recreation in Ontario. It is estimated that there are more than one million pleasure boats in Ontario. Half a million are powered, from small runabouts to luxurious cruisers. The unpowered craft include sailboats, canoes, rowboats and inflatables. Over four million Ontarians --
Mr Wildman: There are a lot of inflatables in here.
Mr Miller: Sometimes, from time to time, it does inflate a little bit but mostly we can sift the chaff and get the real facts.
Over four million Ontarians and about 700,000 US residents use our waterways each year, but we are starting to see some negative side-effects of all of this activity. Reckless behaviour and 75 or 80 boating fatalities in an average year is really what we are speaking about safety.
Bill 73 is aimed at making our waterways safe and enjoyable, but it does not address the full range of issues and concerns. Making boating safer is not as simple as licensing motorboat operators. I see three main areas of concern: one, the jurisdictional responsibility for the waterways; two, the safety of these waterways; three, the need for boating education.
I think this morning gives all three parties in the Legislature an opportunity to have input. This government is listening carefully. First, our responsibility for administration and regulation of the waters is divided among three levels of government and many departments. This presents difficulties in drafting legislation affecting public use of waterways that historically have been and still are largely under federal jurisdiction. Much of the existing legislation and regulations are old and intended to govern commercial, not recreational use of the water.
My second point concerns safety. Safety has to be paramount, not only with the government but with all members of this Legislature. The government of Ontario is committed to establishing and upholding the highest standards of public safety wherever possible throughout the province. No one is more familiar with the lakes. We have to guard, to protect, because those Great Lakes can react so quickly. Lake Erie is one good example. Even strong fishing tugs have gone down with much loss of life in recent years, as a matter of fact, so safety has to be considered. We also have to protect ourselves when we are using those waters and use our own judgement in that nature.
Safety is also an environmental concern. The boating boom has raised related issues such as pollution control, shoreline access, the invasion of privacy and property and many others.
It is tempting to believe that passing legislation to license motorboat owners would solve these problems, but again there is much more to it than that. While we see clearly the benefits of regulations, we also recognize the need to provide appropriate support programs aimed at training, education and enforcement.
We know many of the accidents and injuries occurring on our waterways could be prevented by improved skills and greater knowledge of the boating environment, but there are wider implications to be considered. The cost of establishing and maintaining education testing and enforcement programs would be substantial. Who is to assume the responsibility and expense of ensuring that standards can be met? Apart from the practical difficulties involved, it would represent a vast expenditure to develop education programs and literature and provide the large number of training staff to administer such a program.
This is why an interministerial boating jurisdiction committee has been put in place to review some of the issues and concerns I have mentioned. This committee is also looking very carefully at some others, including boat licensing and registration, operator licensing and safety education, policing and conflict between land and water users.
Therefore, I believe it would be premature to consider specific questions before the committee has fully examined this issue and several perspectives and made its recommendation.
I indicated in the beginning that we support the principle of the bill. We commend the member for bringing it forward at this time. I think it is timely because it will give us an opportunity and also give the government a push to proceed and move forward with the regulations, and also to bring them to the Legislature where this really has to be dealt with. Sometimes the opposition have been dragging their feet at some point.
Those are our comments. We appreciate the fact that we have been able to participate.
Mr Wildman: First, I would like to congratulate my colleague the member for Oshawa for bringing forward this bill for consideration by the Legislature. It is very timely and a most important issue because as other members have indicated this morning, boating traffic on lakes and rivers in Ontario has just exploded. The number of boats and types of boats, some of them very high-powered, has caused a good deal of congestion.
In my part of the province, where we perhaps do not have the large numbers that you have in some parts of southern Ontario, even on the lake where we spend a lot of time in the summer, on a weekend it is busier than some of the freeways around Toronto. The problem, as my colleague has indicated, is that some of those boaters are very inexperienced. Some are young, but I am not just talking about young boaters.
I saw one person get into a boat -- luckily with a very small motor; I think about a seven-horsepower motor -- who went zipping around the lake looking at the motor, without looking where the boat was going. I could not believe it.
I want to speak about one other aspect. I think we do need to license boaters. I agree with my colleague that we need to have better training, and there are training programs available. But I want to talk about the aspect of enforcement. I hope we would have someone, perhaps the member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas), the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General, speak to this debate because the question of enforcement is crucial.
I would like to read into the record a portion of a letter I received from a constituent. This constituent runs a marina on St Joseph Island in my constituency. This was a letter he wrote to the Ontario Provincial Police. I will just read portions of it:
“My major concern is the increase in boater drinking and rowdyism which has increased noticeably within the last two to three years. At the marina, where a licensed property is adjacent, weekend boater activity has reached an unprecedented level, whereby impaired drivers are more the rule than the exception.
“These boats and boaters arrive and depart at all hours of the late night and morning, harassing transient and local boaters who, on some occasions, have had to leave the marina. Our reputation has deteriorated considerably. This coming and going drinking activity seems to be commonplace, knowing full well that a physical deterrent presence of authority via the OPP is not there in any location along our section of the North Channel, North shore.
“In recent discussions with conservation officers from the MNR, they can verify that drinking and boating is commonplace, in this waterway at least, and I respectfully suggest that this is entirely due to the disappearance of what once was the best deterrent to drinking and driving, an OPP boat and officers on a regular, consistent patrol with a well-equipped vessel.”
He goes on to say that he has yet to see an OPP boat anywhere around his location for two years at least, excepting a late-season visit for vessel viewing; in other words, a public relations visit by the OPP.
I am most concerned about this, and I have had contact with the Solicitor General about the amount of enforcement. I recognize, as my colleague from the government side of the House said, that a committee is looking at this matter and reviewing it. But I might say in passing that I had to tell the new Solicitor General about this committee. I knew about it; he did not. So I really wonder about what input he has to it.
I wrote to the Solicitor General on 29 August about this problem, and I have yet to receive a response, even though I have reminded the minister on many occasions that he needs to respond.
The question I am most concerned about is that there is no longer a large vessel in the Sault Ste Marie OPP detachment. The 37-foot boat that was based in the Sault was transferred recently to Parry Sound, where I do not debate that it was needed. Apparently a slightly smaller boat was supposed to be transferred from Parry Sound to the Sault detachment to replace it; but it was found to be in such need of repair and the financial constraints were such that the OPP could not afford to do the required repairs to make it seaworthy, to enable it to be transferred.
Now we have a situation where the Sault Ste Marie detachment is located on the largest fresh body of water in the world and we do not have a large police boat to police that body of water or any of the inland lakes. Lake Superior is not protected. The OPP are quite straight when they say they do not have a vessel that it is safe to go out on Lake Superior with. If that is the case, how on earth is the OPP supposed to police boating on Lake Superior?
I suspect that the situation is not much better on any of the other Great Lakes or the inland lakes. It is so unusual to see a police boat in our area -- there is one, a small one, for inland lakes --
Mr Miller: What about the feds? Don’t they have one stationed there?
Mr Wildman: I will get to that in a moment.
Mr Miller: All right.
Mr Epp: Let’s get to it quickly.
Mr Wildman: Certainly the federal government has some jurisdictional responsibility. I recognize that the OPP does work co-operatively with the RCMP as well as with local police forces, and that the Canadian Coast Guard has some responsibility, but the fact is that the coast guard is not and never was equipped to carry out everyday policing of pleasure boating.
The coast guard’s main role has been to deal with the Seaway traffic and with the need for search and rescue when there has been a serious disaster. But even the Canadian Coast Guard does not have the equipment to go out on Lake Superior. We in our area are completely dependent on the US Coast Guard. As a matter of fact, the US Coast Guard has to come over to the Canadian side any time there is a major search on Lake Superior.
We very much appreciate the fact that the US Coast Guard is willing to do this, but really are we meeting our responsibilities? As a matter of fact, the US and Canadian coast guards are more responsible for trying to deal with illicit drug traffic by water across the lakes than they are with everyday policing in co-operation with the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about boater safety. We are talking about small craft and larger pleasure craft that are using our waterways in great numbers. The OPP, which is responsible for policing and ensuring that we do not have impaired drivers, does not have the equipment or the staff to do the job.
If we are talking about people over the age of 16 who have automobile licences, it might be argued that if they are found to be impaired and operating a boat, they are indeed subject to charge and could lose their driver’s licence.
But what does that do about those people who are not impaired but who are inexperienced and do not know what they are doing and end up in accidents and overturn their boats because they are involved in traffic that is so heavy, without any rules or understanding the regulations, and there is no physical presence of the OPP to try to direct traffic and ensure that we have safe boating?
This government, if it believes in safe boating, will make a commitment to equipment and staff so we can have proper enforcement. I commend to the House the bill introduced by my colleague.
Mr McCague: I am pleased to speak in support of this bill. While it may have been parroted from the member for Simcoe East, it is a bill of significant importance, and it looks as if it is going to take the combined efforts of the opposition parties to persuade the government that something should be done.
The member for Norfolk (Mr Miller) stood up on behalf of the government and told us all the beautiful things about the lakes and rivers in the province and what a good idea this was, but then he took the normal civil service attitude and came back with all the reasons why we could not do it.
He also mentioned that it was a great thing to talk about these things in here. I did not come here to have a chat with the member this morning about the matter; I wanted him to take some action. If he could persuade the civil servants that he knows what is right and that it can be done, why does he not get on with it? That is what we are talking about.
I know that perhaps some combination of driver’s licence and boater’s licence has been referred to. If you have a driver’s licence, you should start there and let such a person drive a boat. If you do not have a driver’s licence, you have to get a boat licence. There are all kinds of combinations.
The member knows if he looks for ways to do it he can do it, but if he looks for ways not to do it, he can get the civil service to tell him all kinds of those things and he can parrot them here in the House. That is no good to us at all. Let’s get on with it.
I speak on behalf of the member for Simcoe East, who is unavoidably not here today. Actually he is boating. He is travelling between Moosonee and Moose Factory looking for deer. I hope he is successful.
I think this is one example to the member for Norfolk of something that this House could really do. Why does he not refer it to committee? Why does he not get on with it so we can have a safer boating season in 1990?
Mr Epp: I am pleased to participate in this bill put forward by the member for Oshawa, Bill 73, and I am also pleased to say that I am going to support this bill, for a number of reasons.
I am cognizant of the views of some of my colleagues on this matter, and I respect their views on it. I think they have very good reason for saying what they do. I think there is another aspect to this, though.
The accidents in this province are very high as far as boating is concerned. In the last eight years there have been approximately 695 fatalities on the lakes and rivers in this province. In 1980 there were about 123 killed, while in 1987 there were 64, an average of 87 in the last eight years. Most of those are fatalities of males between the ages of 15 and 34. A lot of them are caused by alcohol and the absence of life-saving devices.
These matters obviously should be enforced if possible, and I think our enforcement agency is trying to do the best it can with regard to alcohol and life-saving devices. In addition to that, people need to be of a mature age and not have a lot of minors driving high-powered boats. I think that is what this bill is trying to address.
I am also cognizant of the jurisdictional disputes or jurisdictional problems associated with this bill. I am aware of the fact that maybe this should be federal, but I do not think we can always wait for the feds to do something. I think there are plenty of examples where we have waited for them and nothing has happened. Nothing has happened in the last 100 years. Why would we expect them to do something in the next 100 years?
I am also aware that the waters we have bound on three provinces, on the United States as well as our own, and, as my colleague has mentioned, six different states.
The Toronto Star not very long ago, about a month and a half ago, summed up part of this and said, “Powerboats, originally driven by steam, have been in existence longer than automobiles, yet boat drivers in both Canadian and American waters in this area still don’t need licences.” It went on to say, “Licensing won’t automatically provide all that’s needed to update the forgotten side of enforcing safety. But as happens with highway drivers, boat drivers would be required to meet certain standards of age, physical condition, and skills before the license is issued.” I concur with that, and I think that one step is better than none. We cannot do everything at the beginning. What we have to do is start with something, and that is what this bill addresses.
The need for licensing and greater enforcement was driven home this summer to me very forcibly when I was away at a conference with some of my colleagues. When I returned, I learned of the son of a friend of mine, who was on the water with one of the ski jets, fell off and a big motorboat went over him and he died shortly thereafter. That was because, as I understand it, these high-powered boats have their nose way up in the air, and they could not see him at all. I am not sure licensing would have prevented that matter, and I am not sure who was driving the boat or whether there are some controls that could be placed on them. But at least if we had some licensing, we would be able to have control of people who are very young now and permitted to go out with powerboats and others who are not properly trained. I think education is an important aspect of this, and I think that should be worked on.
In summary, I would like to say that I am pleased to support the member for Oshawa in his bid to get some control in this matter.
Mr Breaugh: Mr Speaker, if I could, I would like to use the remainder of the time allocation for my caucus and the two minutes --
The Speaker: And the two minutes as well?
Mr Breaugh: Yes, to kind of add it all together.
I thank the members for their contributions this morning. It is precisely what I wanted. I am content this morning to have the debate on this bill in principle. That is a good start for us. I do think it is the kind of thing that would be worth the government’s time to think about taking an idea like this and sending it to one of our standing committees or perhaps striking a select committee, because as the member for Norfolk suggested, this is a beginning. There are a number of other things that should be considered when you are going through all of this. I do not view this bill to be a panacea -- it certainly is not that -- but it is a beginning, a first step, and I think a necessary first step.
I want to address some of the other concerns that were brought forward this morning, because I think they are extremely valid.
Enforcement of whatever laws might exist now is becoming a problem. This summer I was pleased to see an RCMP boat pull up alongside mine, because I knew why they were there. They were there in the first instance to establish a profile that there is some policing -- albeit not as much as necessary, but there is some. And they want to remind people about boating safety and that you have to have safety equipment on board. As somebody who has invested a lot of money in safety equipment, it is all equipment that I never want to use. I never want to have a disaster on board my boat, nor would I wish that on anyone else. But I want the equipment there. It was one of those happy occasions when you are glad to see a police officer; you get a chance to show him that you conform with all the laws, and a bit more, and that you have on board your boat all the things you should have. But that was one occasion during the course of the summer.
We do need to think about enforcement. That is going to be a problem, but it is a problem that is not going to go away. The government of Ontario, whether it wants to hide behind jurisdictional matters or anything else, is going to have to play a role in that. It is going to have to sort it out.
For example, I keep my boat in a very nice little marina at the port of Newcastle. One thing that strikes you is that there are all kinds of people in there with their craft, and there are all kinds of craft. We have one guy who has a very fine old wooden schooner that he has completely restored himself; so it is not a very expensive hobby for him. I have never seen him take his craft out. He likes to be around the marina; he likes to polish, to sand and to restore. That is his enjoyment. It does not cost him a great deal of money, but it costs him a lot of elbow grease. He enjoys that. There are others who go there and use the marina as some would use a summer cottage. There are others who are avid boaters, and they are out on the lake every time they get the opportunity. It can be a great many different things to a great many people; people get all sorts of enjoyment from it.
About as quickly as you could write a law, somebody will invent some new method of transportation on the waterways. Some people who are avid sailors never want to turn the motor on at all; they sail because they enjoy it. They are not in a hurry to go anywhere. They are proud of their sailing skills and proud of their boats. They like that; that is what they do. Others are obsessed with the notion of speed. Some have large craft that will go very quickly across the water; others have very small craft that will do the same thing. It is difficult to keep on top of all the new developments.
There is a huge boating industry in Canada now, and it is one that I think should be fostered and supported, but it also needs a little help. None of us who are involved in the boating industry directly or participants in boating is happy with the notion that our laws are confusing, to say the least, about the consumption of alcoholic beverages on board a boat. They remain confusing to this day. They are a little clearer now than they were a couple of years ago, but it is a perplexing problem because the public has this problem in mind. They are not sure that operating a boat is the same as operating a car. I think we have a great deal of educating to do in that field.
It is probably true to say that there is nothing wrong with somebody in the middle of Lake Ontario having a beer on a hot, summer day. The problem is that you cannot really write a law like that. That is difficult to enforce and difficult to understand. I believe that in all the legislation that governs the use of the oldest highways we have, the waterways, we have to begin to look at that in a slightly different way.
It is useful to begin by looking at a licensing provision for the operation of the vessel. To fly an airplane you need a licence, and we all acknowledge and support that; to ride a motor-cycle on our highways you need a licence, and we all acknowledge and support that; and to drive a truck on our roads you need a licence, and we all understand that. But it seems to me completely nonsensical that to operate a boat on perhaps a very busy waterway, you do not need a licence. That makes no sense to me at all.
Whether or not the members agree with this bill’s mechanics, which I would like to set aside for a moment, I think we all accept the principle that the day when you will need a licence to operate a boat is near at hand. This government and governments across Canada have to turn their minds to that. I would like to see a committee of the assembly, for example, take that on, whether it is this bill or the broader question. I know there are interministerial committees considering the matter, but I believe the problem is now before us in a shape and form that we cannot deny.
I hope that the members will support this bill. I thank them for their participation.
The Speaker: The member still has two minutes. He does not wish to use them? That presents a very small problem. However, I think we can overcome it. The standing order does say we should call a vote at 12 o’clock. It is awfully close, is it not?
CANADIAN FORCES BASE
The Speaker: Mr Reycraft has moved resolution 30.
Motion agreed to.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The Speaker: Mr Breaugh has moved second reading of Bill 73.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
The House recessed at 1200.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mr Laughren: In July in this assembly I raised a matter of one insurance company simply creating a new entity and shifting a policy from one entity to another in order to avoid the ceiling on insurance rates. In August I wrote a letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston). I wrote another letter in September. I raised it in the Legislature in October. My colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos), raised it here again yesterday in the month of November. So in July, August, September, October and November we have been raising the problem of insurance companies avoiding the cap on insurance rates simply by shifting, within the same corporate umbrella, policyholders from one entity to another.
To this day, going right back to July, the minister has not had the courtesy or the integrity to respond to either my letters or the statements in this assembly. I know that there is no standing order that says the minister has to respond to members’ concerns that are raised in this assembly, but I can tell the House that he stands condemned. I can only assume he has no answers and condones this kind of deception that is going on out there in the insurance industry. He has created an unbelievable mess in the automobile insurance industry, and it rests entirely on his head.
Mr Pollock: This morning the Minister of Natural Resources (Mrs McLeod) met with the mayor of Belleville, a representative from the city of Trenton, the warden of Hastings county, Terry Quinney from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Inc, other members of this Legislature, staff and myself. I called this meeting to talk about the zebra mussel problem now plaguing Lake St Clair and Lake Erie and to discuss with all involved what, if anything, could be done.
The prediction is that the zebra mussels will be in Lake Ontario by 1990. These mussels could spread through the inland lakes and waterways, which could seriously affect our fish spawning areas. According to the European experience, man transports these mussels on the sides of his boats; also, their larvae stay on the sides of the boats.
At the meeting this morning we had a good, open discussion. I appreciate the minister taking time out of her busy schedule to join with us and having a knowledgeable member of her staff present. Our waterways and lakes are extremely important, and we should investigate every avenue to protect them. Time is not on our side.
NORTHERN TELECOM LTD
Mr Callahan: I rise on this occasion to congratulate Northern Telecom Ltd, which is the employer of a large number of people in my community. My colleague the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Hart) and myself had the extreme pleasure of attending at Northern Telecom on Tuesday to celebrate with its officials the receipt of a most prestigious award. They received one of the highest international awards for quality, and since Northern Telecom is on the cutting edge of technology, it is certainly a significant industry that is well ahead of many in the world. It sits as a diamond, perhaps, within the framework of this province and this country.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring that to the public’s attention, to congratulate all the people who were involved in achieving that prestigious award and to wish them well in the future.
Mr Hampton: Once again, this government is showing a lack of concern for the special needs of this province’s northern communities. Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, represents a perfect example of what I am speaking about.
As I am sure my colleagues are aware, Bill 119 has included hospitals as a second recipient of Ontario’s lottery profits. By doing so, this government has allowed a ministry which already receives one third of the provincial budget to gain even more. Albeit we do not approve of the way this money will come to the ministry, we think there are other ways this ministry should be funded.
I have particularly strong feelings on this issue because it shows the insensitivity to the unique nature of northern Ontario communities. More so than in southern Ontario, local cultural and recreational centres have become the focal points around which residents of the north revolve. Libraries, museums and recreational clubs play a tremendous role in northern Ontario communities. In addition to education or fitness, these institutions provide a source of pride and have become social centres which bind the community together.
To decrease the cultural and recreational programs available to those in northern Ontario will surely be a detriment to our society. As northern Ontario communities have no other channels open in gathering funds, many of the clubs and organizations that represent the heart of northern society will close.
Mr Eves: It is my pleasure and honour this afternoon to introduce to the Legislature some very important members of my constituency. We have artists here today: Clermont Duval, David Barrer and a representative of the Mattawa Arts Council, Judy Duval, who are present today displaying their works in my office, where they have been displayed for the last several months. I know that several members of the Legislature, including the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) and others, have expressed interest in this very impressive display of art over the last several months, and they are here today to replace their works of art.
I would like to take credit for this idea as being my own, but I must admit that the member for Renfrew North, the Minister of Education (Mr Conway), gave me the idea. I think it is a great idea that other members of the Legislature should follow. It is a great opportunity for having some very competent and extremely worthwhile pieces of art and Canadian artists represented here in the Ontario Legislature.
Mr Owen: In the ongoing constitutional debate about Meech Lake, the participation of Quebec in the full life of Canada remains paramount. Where we are today reflects from where we came. Today in this Legislature we are mindful of the sacrifices of the two world wars and the Korean War. Our country’s history books record the bitterness of conscription debates in the two world wars. However, I would ask us not to forget the valour and sacrifice of many from Quebec who did fight in these three wars.
On 8 August 1918, Lieutenant Jean Brillant of the 22nd Canadian infantry battalion at the battle of Amiens personally rushed and captured an enemy machine gun nest. Although wounded, Lieutenant Brillant led another rush, capturing 150 enemy and 15 machine guns, but was wounded a second time. The next day he led yet another rushing party against a field gun, when he was wounded a third time, this time fatally. Lieutenant Brillant was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 14 August 1943, Captain Paul Triquet led an assault on Casa Berardi in Italy. All of the company officers and half of the men were killed or wounded. He successfully withstood counterattack by huge odds, with only two sergeants and 15 men at his side. Lieutenant Triquet was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The 22nd regiment has a distinguished record in war, and their many acts of heroism are legend. When the Korean War ended in 1953, nearly 27,000 Canadians had participated; 1,500 of our countrymen died. A list of those killed in that war records large numbers from Quebec. Many medals were awarded to them.
At this time, let us recall with gratitude the valour, achievements, the sacrifice of men and women from each and every part of this country.
ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICE WORKERS
Mr R. F. Johnston: Over the last number of years, the advocacy workers in the adult protective services workers program, workers with the developmentally retarded and the developmentally handicapped in the province, have seen their program systematically destroyed by this government trying to take away their advocacy role and turn them into merely case managers for their clients.
The most recent happening, though, is of extreme disturbance to me, and that is the recognition of the value of those people. The fact that in terms of pay equity they were not being paid the appropriate amounts of money, has been recognized by several regions in the province, most recently the region of Durham. For a cost of an extra $46,000, these workers would receive appropriate payment.
This government is refusing to pass through those dollars, this government which is supposedly in favour of pay equity, this government which supposedly knows that social service workers are often undervalued and has set aside a fund to raise their incomes is jeopardizing the existence of that entire program in the region of Durham. I think the people of the province of Ontario need to know that.
There has been a lot of talk about developing an Advocacy Ontario kind of bureau, and all this government has done is drag its feet and, at the same time, destroy one of the programs which has been most successful in this area.
MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES
Mr McCague: My riding of Simcoe West borders on the south side of what is now known as the GTA -- the greater taxation area. Many of the people in my riding have an address which is the same as many of those on the south side of Highway 9, and therefore they are all receiving notices to pay the $90.
In conversation with the minister’s office this morning, we were told that the onus is on the person who happens to live on the north side of Highway 9 to point out the discrepancy and that the government has no intention of doing any advertising or phone calls or whatever to bring this fact to our attention. So, if you happen to be a good law-abiding citizen and you get a notice for $90, you go in and pay it.
Surely, the minister will see that these people who were incorrectly addressed receive notification that such is the case, or in the alternative, surely, they can be refunded the money that they have overpaid. The minister has not been here for a day or so, but I am sure he will look into this first thing tomorrow morning.
OTONABEE REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
Mr Adams: Thirty years of conservation: a remarkable record which the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority based in Peterborough celebrates this year.
In 1959, ORCA was formed by the province at the request of the local municipalities. The watershed boundary was originally defined by the watershed of the Otonabee River. In 1960, the Indian River watershed was added and in 1961, the boundary was further enlarged to include the Ouse River watershed. Emily and Ennismore townships joined the authority in 1969 and 1989, respectively. The watershed region now encompasses an area of 1,890 square kilometres through 15 municipalities and three river basins.
Since its establishment, ORCA has developed a comprehensive resources management program. The resource management of the authority clearly reflects its mandate which empowered the authority to undertake programs to further conservation restoration development and management of natural resources other than coal, oil, gas and minerals.
The authority has acquired over 10,000 acres of land for conservation purposes. The properties were purchased for a variety of uses, including water supply and control, fish and wildlife habitat protection, environmental sensitivity, fibre production, outdoor recreation and conservation education -- 30 fine years.
Hon Mr Ward: By prior agreement, I seek unanimous consent to hear statements on Polish Independence Day and Remembrance Day.
The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?
POLISH INDEPENDENCE DAY
Mr Ruprecht: November 11 is a very special date and of significance to our citizens of Polish heritage as they celebrate the 71st anniversary of Poland’s independence. In 1918, over 100 years of occupation and subjugation ended, and Poland gained independence as a modern nation-state. Since then, the independence of Poland has been challenged on a number of occasions.
Today, I am very proud to introduce to you some Canadians who are with us today and who were ready to die for a free and independent Poland: Stan Sadowki, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, Toronto district; Stefan Falkowski, president of the Polish Army Veterans Association, and Mr Szczyglowski, president of the Polish Combatants Association.
This year, the anniversary is of special significance because of the presence of Lech Walesa, the chairman of the first independent trade union in eastern Europe. I met Mr Walesa in Poland just before martial law was imposed on 13 December 1981. At that time, there was a dark cloud over Poland and there had been reports of imminent Russian invasion forces coming into Poland. Mr Walesa, at that time, had a significant role to play in taking the nation from the brink of war. I can remember what he told me. He said: “I will be jailed in a few days, but I will not go into exile. I would rather stay with my people even if it means death.”
Our meeting was interrupted by two men who came in to hang a cross over Mr Walesa’s chair, and at that point it struck me that this particular cross was pretty large. But when they had left, Mr Walesa turned to me. He pointed to the cross and he said, “This, Mr Ruprecht, is our strength and this is what we believe in.”
Of course, this was a great, courageous act of Mr Walesa, as all of us know and as all of us followed the history of Poland. As the iron curtain is now lifting and a massive transformation is taking place which is really unprecedented in eastern Europe, especially in Poland, what will the scribes of history say about us and our participation, our contribution and our involvement? Will they say, “‘There was a nation and there was a people who participated, helped and put their shoulders to the wheel of helping out a reconstructed Europe”? Or will they say, “There is a nation called Canada, which did really nothing, or only very little”?
The choice today, of course, is ours, and I would hope we would not sit idly by while those nations of eastern Europe are going through some pretty cataclysmic changes. November 11 will be celebrated with a mass at 11 am in St Stanislaus church. It will be followed by a flag-raising ceremony at city hall and a historic meeting with Lech Walesa at Massey Hall. I would encourage all members to participate.
Finally, let me just turn and say to all our Polish-Canadian friends who will celebrate 11 November as Polish Independence Day:
[Remarks in Polish].
Mr B. Rae: As the member for Parkdale has pointed out -- and how delighted we are to have his support for the existence of the trade union movement anywhere in the world -- this is going to mark a historic weekend, not only that it represents Polish Independence Day, which we have celebrated on other occasions in this House, but it is also a weekend in which Lech Walesa is going to be the guest of the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour in this province, and is also going to be visiting the United States.
We are simply delighted that he is coming here and so proud of the events and the tremendous leadership which the trade union movement in Poland has shown to the entire country. I know there are many members opposite who will be joining with all of us in these celebrations this weekend here and in the great city of Hamilton, where there will be a celebration at the Vic Copps arena.
I want to say a word to members, and I am sure they would allow me to do so, about some of the extraordinary events taking place in eastern Europe. I just heard on the news prior to question period that the East German government has announced that any East German citizen who wants to leave the country will be allowed to do so. They will be allowed to leave through the wall, if that is how they choose to leave.
I am sure I speak for all the members of the House when we simply celebrate this incredible transformation of eastern Europe that has taken place. We celebrate with all those who have been martyrs to the cause for so long, those who have been in jail, those who have been killed, those whose families have not been allowed to pray, those whose families have not been allowed to speak out, those whose families have not been allowed to hold different opinions and to speak aloud their contempt for the incredible oppression which they and their families have had to live in for a generation.
We celebrate with the Polish people their freedom, but we have to do more than that. We have to, as a Legislature and I believe as a country, reach out in practical ways and in real ways as eastern Europe undergoes this incredible transformation.
The news from Poland is extremely tough. In creating a different kind of economy and a different kind of society overnight, to say it is difficult is to understate the case. There are shortages of the most basic of commodities. There are real problems with employment, with jobs. There is incredible inflation and, of course, the social structure itself is threatened as an old order has died and a new order has yet to really take its place.
We in this party celebrate the triumph of democracy anywhere in the world. We certainly celebrate, in a very special way, the triumph of social democracy in its best sense in the countries of eastern Europe. We are especially proud on this weekend as we await the arrival of Lech Walesa, one of the really true heroes of our generation.
Mr Jackson: I wish to rise and acknowledge, as well, Poland’s day of national independence. The history of Poland and the Polish people in the past 1,000 years is one of continuous struggle against oppression and foreign domination. They are a very proud people who have been deeply imbued with a sense of national purpose and a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom and in defence of their homeland, even though this has meant severe reprisals and the loss of life.
In the 18th century, Poland was finally occupied and divided as a nation under a then very repressive regime. However, the spirit of Jan Sobieski and Adam Mitskevich lived on in the hearts and minds of the Polish people, reminding them of the bravery and the tenacity of their ancestors.
In 1918, Poland rose once again as a free and united nation after the aftermath of that crumbling regime, so November 11 marks the day on which Poles around the world remember and relive the events that led up to that very first independence day.
Polish Independence Day is more than just an expression of national pride in what went on in the past; it has taken on a very special meaning for all Poles and indeed for all eastern European peoples as they look in 1989 for renewed hope of nationhood, of freedom and of economic prosperity as they witness yet another oppressive regime crumbling.
This year, our Polish-Canadian community will be able to celebrate independence day with Lech Walesa, whose patriotic Solidarity party has in fact become the voice and the government of the Polish people.
I, like a number of my colleagues in the House and like many other Canadians who have their roots in eastern European culture, have been fortunate not to have to experience the kind of terror our ancestors experienced. Nevertheless, we grew up with an understanding of its meaning as we saw it in the eyes of our parents and our grandparents.
It is time for us and for new Canadians to share a sense of appreciation for this country and for what it has given our people so that we never have to live with that loss of prosperity and with the thought of living in terror.
On behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, I wish to extend to members of the Polish-Canadian community and through them to all Polish people worldwide our hearty congratulations on the occasion of their independence day celebration.
[Remarks in Polish]
Mr Eakins: This Saturday is November 11, when Canadians of all generations across Canada will pause to honour and to pay tribute to all the brave individuals who served and gave their all that we might live in freedom today. On behalf of the Premier (Mr Peterson) I would like to express the respect and gratitude of the government of Ontario.
Canadian men and women have always responded quickly and with determination to defend the freedom and way of life that we enjoy today. This way of life is their memorial, our freedom is their legacy and the realization of world peace is the best monument we can erect in their honour.
For many people in this province and in this country, war is something remote, other than the occasional viewing of special programs of remembrance of Vimy, Dieppe, D-Day, etc. We have throughout our province and, yes, within the Ontario public service those men and women who served with distinction and were decorated. There are also those who know only too well the horrors of it all through confinement in prisoner-of-war or concentration camps.
At the close of the Second World War, a well-known army general, in urging the twinning of sister city communities throughout the world, said, “We have learned to win the war, but we have never learned to win the peace.”
Our obligation is both to keep alive the memory of those who served and to do everything within our power to be windows to the world in international friendship and understanding. This Saturday, Remembrance Day, we have the opportunity, with appreciation to the leadership of our comrades of the Royal Canadian Legion, to express our gratitude to those to whom we owe a tremendous debt.
“They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old:
“Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning
“We will remember them.”
Mr Mackenzie: As spokesman for the official opposition, I too wish to pay tribute to those whose memory we shall be honouring this Saturday. On each Remembrance Day we attempt to find words that will give meaning to the supreme sacrifice made by Canadians in defence of our freedom; indeed, “Lest We Forget” has come to symbolize our thanksgiving for what we enjoy today.
Let me share with members a prayer that was found among the effects of a Canadian infantry sergeant who perished outside Ortona, Italy, in December of 1943. It reads:
“Today, a bird sang for me. Today, I leaned against the strong trunk of a living tree, so I am not alone. When I get back to Canada, I will remember this. I will cherish all life, for all life is really one. I will never again be a destroyer. This is my dream; that we will learn to live in harmony, not between men alone, but with the whole living world.”
This to me is what Remembrance Day is all about. It is about a dream, a dream of harmony. It is not about the glorification of war, for that would be the glorification of a terrible waste where lives are lost in the horror and ferocity of war. Rather it is about the glorification of those 110,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who served together and died for the ultimate goal, the goal of preserving our democracy and our country.
In these days, when many Canadians are concerned about the unity of our country, it is well to remind ourselves of the words of Joseph Howe in the early days of our nation. “Let a wise nation preserve its monuments, decorate the graves of its illustrious dead, repair its great structures and foster national pride by perpetual allusion to the glories and sacrifices of the past.”
It is these perpetual allusions to the glories and sacrifices of the past that culminate each year in our celebration of Remembrance Day. Our legions, schoolchildren, community organizations and citizens are thereby saying to the world we shall not forget, and it is this phrase which imparts on all of us the direction for our future.
Never again must man’s inhumanity to man allow the terrible waste of war which in future would even put at risk our very planet. It is this challenge that Remembrance Day embodies and that future generations in this country must continue to meet.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party and pay tribute once more to the Royal Canadian Legion and express our support to all the veterans of our great land as together we listen to the mournful sound of the bugle as it is blown at the 11th hour of this Saturday, Remembrance Day.
The First World War came to an end at 11 am on November 11, 1918. This date is known as Armistice Day. In Canada, November 11 marks a solemn commemoration of over 100,000 Canadians who made the supreme sacrifice in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. In addition, tribute is paid to those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces and especially the many veterans who still bear the mental and physical scars of those wars.
Remembrance Day provides an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the horrors of war. The hardship, destruction and tragedy of armed conflict should be brought home to our younger generations.
If we are to avoid going down the road of war again, it is vital that we realize that in this era it is impossible to win a war. It is just as important to recall the principles upon which Canada fought so many years ago. Canada has always stood for freedom, democracy and self-determination. There can be no doubt the Canadians who fought did so to uphold these very principles. They believed that these principles were worth fighting for. The valuable lessons they teach us must never be forgotten.
This year, 1989, not only marks the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, a conflict in which 50 million people perished, but it also is the year that has seen massive shifts in the political structure of our world. For the first time in over 40 years, there seems to be a genuine thaw in the cold war with our adversaries in the eastern bloc. Hopefully, 1989 will go down in history as the year that truly brought an end to the threat of world war. For the sake of our young people and our future generations, I truly hope it will be so. It is the remembrance of the terrors of war that compels us to search for a lasting peace. That is why Remembrance Day is so important.
I know all members will join with their local legions in parading to their cenotaphs and proudly laying the provincial wreaths in memory of those gallant young men and women who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, men and women who gave their lives for their country, our country, Canada. May we never forget them.
The Speaker: I believe it would be fitting if all members and visitors would rise and join with me in one minute’s silence in remembrance of those who gave their lives for us and for our country.
The House observed one minute’s silence.
The Speaker: I would ask all members of the assembly to join with me in recognizing in the Speaker’s gallery two members from the Northwest Territories’ Legislative Assembly: the Honourable Nellie Cournoyea, Minister of Health; and Henry Zoe.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Elston: As honourable members know, the government’s employment equity program provides enhanced recruitment and advancement opportunities within the Ontario public service for members from five designated groups: aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, francophones, racial minorities and women.
To this end, I am pleased to announce today new action which will support a process that is already well under way. The Human Resources Secretariat will establish a multimillion-dollar employment equity fund to make possible many of the equity goals of the Ontario public service.
Over the remainder of this fiscal year, the government will channel $1 million into a series of innovations that will support ministries in the accommodation of persons with disabilities in workplaces throughout the public service. I find these initiatives particularly exciting because they turn the workplace into an area in which any employee can function, regardless of his or her particular disability.
The initiatives include the following: The acquisition of technical aids that enable persons with disabilities to fully function in the workplace; a pilot project for the provision of attendant care for persons who require special aid; the provision of communications support through items such as conversion of print into audio cassette and/or computer discs for the visually impaired, as well as the installation of telephone devices for the hearing impaired; the provision of special furniture such as customized work stations and the provision of office renovations where necessary.
In each of the three successive years, we will place $7.5 million in this employment equity fund. The money will be used to address the needs of all five groups in the areas of career development, training and education, outreach recruitment and special projects. As well, it will continue to fund improvements in accommodation for persons with disabilities.
The program’s goal is to remove systemic barriers. It will also result in the recruitment of more members of the five designated groups into the Ontario public service.
Recently, the Ontario Human Resources Secretariat co-ordinated a survey known as the workforce profile, which showed that the makeup of the OPS is generally reflective of society at large. Unfortunately, members of designated groups are concentrated in lower-level jobs.
The workforce profile survey now forms part of the active database for the strategic employment equity planning process more commonly known as goals and timetables. The database can be updated regularly as new employees enter the OPS or as employees change positions. The database has already helped the secretariat to set the first corporate goals which, in turn, will serve as guides for managers in each ministry of this government. These managers will now begin to plan ministry-specific goals tailored to their local needs and demographics.
The corporate goals for the OPS as a whole will set the course for a series of three-year planning cycles which will allow flexibility in setting priorities. In turn, these planning cycles will chart our 10-year strategic direction. Our ultimate goal is to have these designated groups represented in the OPS in numbers that are proportionate to Ontario society in general.
The employment equity goals now become part of our larger corporate human resources planning for all OPS employees called Strategies For Renewal. This positions employment equity as part of a broad range of activities intended to revitalize our workforce, including attracting young people from all backgrounds.
The employment equity process presents us with a unique challenge. The OPS is composed of about 87,000 employees employed in 124 occupational groups across more than 30 different ministries and agencies. Our employees include nurses, heavy equipment operators and financial experts, to name just a few. They work in remote communities and in large urban centres.
In designing the program, the Human Resources Secretariat has consulted extensively with ministries, unions representing OPS employees and some external advocacy groups who have given freely of their expertise and experience.
Corporate priorities have been identified. An information database is being compiled. The foundation is in place on which the process can now be built.
As well, information and education sessions are being conducted by the Human Resources Secretariat for government managers across the province.
The government has provided and will continue to give its full support to ensure the success of this process. We pledge our support to this process because it is fair and because it corrects long-standing inequities. It also makes good business sense. It will expand considerably the pool of available talent we need to deliver good government.
We will continue to consult with community groups and build awareness and provide training for current OPS employees so that they will become significant players and partners in employment equity at all levels.
With this program, I am confident we have in place the tools we need to meet our goals and timetables which will make our public service representative at all levels.
BUSINESS INFORMATION / RENSEIGNEMENTS SUR LES ENTREPRISES
Hon Mr Sorbara: Later today I will introduce for first reading the Business Information Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989. This act amends the Business Corporations Act, 1982, the Corporations Act, the Corporations Information Act, the Corporations Tax Act and the Limited Partnerships Act. These acts are the statutory foundations upon which businesses operate and are identified in Ontario.
The amendments are twofold. The first is to enhance the accuracy of information about Ontario businesses maintained for the public record; and the second, to improve public access to this information by converting the current paper-based records to a computerized system.
The records maintained by the ministry’s companies branch are the key link between businesses operating in Ontario and those who wish to identify them, both consumers and businesses.
Les archives détenues par Ia direction des compagnies du ministère de la Consommation et du Commerce constituent un lien essentiel entre les compagnies en exploitation en Ontario et ceux qui souhaitent les identifier, c’est-à-dire, les consommateurs et les compagnies.
Initially businesses will be given the opportunity, by notice of a special filing, to confirm or update their information currently maintained in the public record. For this purpose, the most recent business address on file at the corporation tax branch will be used.
Further, as evidence of the Ontario government’s commitment to promoting investment in the province, the administrative burden now placed on limited partnerships to constantly update the public record on changes of limited partners has been eased. It will now be the general partner’s responsibility to maintain this information.
I am sure that all members will agree that both consumers and businesses will benefit from a public record of business identification that is more up to date and more accessible.
Je suis persuadé que l’ensemble des députés sera d’avis que les consommateurs et les compagnies profiteront de ces amendements concernant la mise à jour et l’accès aux dossiers publics d’identification des sociétés.
I urge all members to support this legislation when I introduce it later today.
Mr B. Rae: I want to reply to both statements.
Let me very briefly say to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that we cannot really comment on his bill until we have seen whether it changes substantively the pathetic absence of information which is now in the current law.
It is difficult, for example, for many tenants to find who the owners of their buildings are, once they go behind numbered companies. It is often difficult for people to get a handle on how large a corporate empire is when companies can form numbered company after numbered company after numbered company and that empire has tentacles right through the system and it becomes impossible for people to track down the necessary information about who owns the shares, who the owners are, how many shares they own and precisely what the structure of the company is.
So I say to the minister that until we know that, we really cannot comment further, except to say that my friends and colleagues on this side have had battles for well over a decade on the need for corporate information to be more widely shared and for us to end some of the unnecessary secrecy which pervades our corporate law.
Mr B. Rae: I do not know what kind of credit the minister is going to get from the press today about this statement he has made on employment equity, but I want to say to them and I want to say to the minister that what he has done is a travesty compared to what the Liberal Party said it would do in 1985. Compared to what they have told people for a generation they would do, this is an appalling substitute for action from the government of Ontario.
There is no law here. There is no requirement here. There are no rights here. There is simply a very, very tiny amount of money being put forward; it is obvious. If you look at the cabinet documents, the cabinet documents that we made available when they were made available to us, of all the options the Liberal Party had on employment equity, it has taken the option which costs the least, requires the least of government and which does absolutely nothing for the millions of workers who are working in the private sector, nothing for workers in the private sector.
After the election of 1985 the Liberal Party said it would bring in employment equity in the public and the private sectors. The Liberal Party has broken that promise with the announcement made by the minister today. It is obvious that there is nothing planned for the private sector whatsoever, that there is no proposal here which applies to the private sector, and that when you look at the public sector itself it is the least possible option, the least cost option compared to what they could have done, compared to what they ought to do.
Those are the facts. The minister can deny it if he wants. The facts are there. The cabinet has been discussing this issue for years and they have come up with less than a mouse. That is the truth.
Mr R. F. Johnston: If I might add a few words myself, I find this is just as appalling as my leader has already said. When you think back to its very first session as a government, when it changed the Ontario Human Rights Code to supposedly give better rights for the disabled, it refused to bring forward a fund to provide reasonable accommodation at that time. This still does not even extend that kind of notion out into the private sector to really assist in a major way. This is absolutely atrocious.
The minister knows his studies from his own government have shown that the disabled coming into his government tend to end up in temporary jobs, temporary jobs which are renewed contract after contract after contract and they never get the permanent positions.
I have taken individual cases before the minister; a year and a half ago there was a case of a fellow, about whom the minister knows very well, who is still to this day in a temporary position. The minister is telling me that this is the sort of thing we should accept as a major move in employment equity.
I will tell you what I think this is, Mr Speaker. This is an attempt to deflect from the pay equity attack he is under today here in the lobby of this Legislature, trying to make the government look progressive to deflect attention from how badly it has dealt with that issue and from this inadequate kind of approach today. It is not going to wash. It is not going to fool us and it is not going to fool the press and it is not going to deflect away from the questions around pay equity which the minister has to answer.
Mr Brandt: I am not going to be quite so harsh in my criticism of the minister, other than to say simply that the government’s record to date is far less than acceptable as it relates to assistance programs for those who are less fortunate in our society.
The government has promised a great deal in terms of the five groups that are in its target designation. The minister has promised over a long period of time that he was going to provide programs that would be of assistance. Now he has brought in, as the opposition has quite accurately portrayed, a response which is very narrow, a response which is very limited, when the minister well knows that there are economic realities in the marketplace which make good sense to have these people working, rather than having to rely on some form of government assistance.
Time after time, and I am sure the 130 members of this Legislative Assembly would agree, when they have people who have difficulties in finding employment because of some of the problems that are pointed out here in the minister’s five designated categories, the interest of those individuals is to find work. Sometimes it is a need for special equipment, sometimes it is a need for some modest assistance on the part of government which will allow those people to be introduced in a meaningful, productive, positive way into the workforce.
I want to say that I hope this program, which the minister indicates he is prepared to monitor over the three years that he is looking into the future with the $7.5 million per year that he has committed, will meet reasonable target figures. We also will be monitoring the minister’s and the government’s performance. I hope the minister is successful. These groups need his help, not only in the public sector, but in the private sector as well. I hope this is a step in a positive direction and along with my colleagues, I only want to suggest that we trust that the program will be a success, but we will surely bring it to his attention if he does not meet reasonable and acceptable targets.
Mr Cousens: The House was glad to have an announcement from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara). The fact of the matter is that there is a need to have better access to information under the corporate statutes and I would hope that the ministry will be able to develop a system that will actually work, unlike the system that the ministry has put together for the Personal Property Security Act, the PPSA. That is an example where the ministry brought in computerization but has not the faintest idea of how to make it work.
I am getting complaints from people right now, where if you have got a lien on a property, it takes you 10 days to get information out of the minister’s great ministry. The ministry does not have a manual system to back it up and when you talk about the delays on lien information, it would make me believe that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations on the one hand deals with fine goals and expectations, and yet the practical reality of what is going on with the introduction of another act which has to do with access to information, and an important line of information, it just does not work.
And so, he keeps the words going, the minister keeps trying to do it, but would he also make sure that the people in his ministry know what he is talking about, and that they are going to install and implement systems that respond to the needs of the people of Ontario. He has not succeeded now with the Personal Property Security Act; I hope he does better when he introduces the Business Information Statute Law Amendment Act. In the hope that the minister will, I believe that our party is going to try to support it. But would the minister go back and do his homework on some of the other things that are there now and that are crippling business in the province of Ontario. He has not done the job there; maybe he will have learned some lessons from that one and do this one better.
You know, it is fine with all the talk, but get some action into the scene and make sure that the minister follows it through. He builds up expectations in the people of the province of Ontario just on every front. This government is so good at putting out the window dressing, but it is not good at delivering the goods. That is what we want to do, to see some substance there so we are getting some money back, some investment back, for all these words that he is stringing along. We are getting tired of it. But I happen to believe that the honourable member for York Centre is going to try, in at least this one instance, and we are going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Speaker: I would like to inform the members of the assembly that we have had two other guests arrive. I only see one at the moment; however, I would like to take this time to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery the High Commissioner of Great Britain, His Excellency Brian Fall. And if you see another gentleman up there shortly it will be Mr John Brown, the Consul-General of Great Britain in Toronto.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question today for the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister can tell us when the government plans to bring in legislation to deal with the injustice in the current Pay Equity Act, 1987, which is that hundreds of thousands of women who work in industries and in establishments and in occupations that are dominated by women, are effectively excluded from the act. He now has a report from the commission as to what to do.
Can he tell us precisely when he is going to act to deal with this problem’?
Hon Mr Phillips: I met today with one of the groups concerned about it, and what I said to them was that first we must recognize that we have in this province the most progressive piece of pay equity legislation in North America. No one will deny that, no one. What I said was on this issue, and there is no question there are significant numbers, hundreds of thousands of women for whom the act cannot provide redress.
We had only three weeks ago, a very major report from the commission. What I said to the group was this is an extremely important report; it has taken about 18 months to prepare. I am working on the report now and am preparing a response to the report and will do that as quickly as we possibly can.
We are implementing the act on 1 January. It will cover a significant number of people in the province, and we are looking at this major report that I have had now only for three weeks to prepare a response.
Mr B. Rae: I hope that just because it took a year and a half to write, it is not going to take a year and a half for the minister to read it. If he is not prepared to tell us that, I wonder if he can tell us when he is going to bring in changes to the law which I hope he will agree are necessary and essential if we are going to deal with this question of the women who are excluded from the benefits of pay equity.
I wonder if he can tell us why it is that his government does not say to employers, indeed to agencies of the government and to nonprofit agencies, “We will fund you when you introduce pay equity changes in your establishment.”
Why it is, for example, that the adult protective service workers in the Durham region, who were awarded a pay equity increase as a result of a survey done by the Durham region, have not been compensated by the government of Ontario. Instead, the government of Ontario has said it is not going to fund that kind of an increase because it does not think it is justified. Why have you done that?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Phillips: Perhaps we have a different approach. I think that when we are talking about pay equity, we are talking about justice and we are talking about equity. In terms of the government giving funds to the private sector, which the Leader of the Opposition is proposing, I suggest that we should be ensuring that we have equity and fairness in the workplace. So I do not think it is the government’s role to fund pay equity settlements in the private sector. I think it is the private sector’s responsibility.
Mr B. Rae: Let me be very specific for the minister. There are going to be nursing homes and there are going to be homes for the aged that are public sector, that are run on a nonprofit basis. There are going to be day care centres that are run on a nonprofit basis. There are going to be the adult protective service workers, and we have not privatized the jails in Ontario yet; they work in the public sector.
If this minister, in the absence of legislation, is saying that is something he is not prepared to do today, is he at the very least prepared to establish a fund that will ensure that women who work in these centres will not continue to suffer the kind of wage discrimination and enforced poverty as a result of this government’s inaction. Can he at least give us that assurance?
Hon Mr Phillips: To go back to the earlier question; he said, “the private sector” and I want to make very clear -- we will look at the Hansard tomorrow -- in terms of the public sector and the broader public sector, what I think is extremely important is there are low wages in areas that are often predominantly female. It was an issue the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) addressed in his budget this year. We have set aside another $100 million to tackle those specific issues. The Ministry of Community and Social Services just this week talked about the need to redress wages in the homemaker’s services.
So we are addressing those issues in terms of the implementation and the solving of this issue because there are hundreds of thousands of women who right now are not able to benefit because of the lack of male equivalent in their organization. In terms of the implementation of that, there is no question that we must consider not only the mechanism for doing that but the funding, and we certainly will as we move forward to resolve that issue; we have to consider, and will consider, the funding aspects of it.
LANDLORDS’ RESTRICTIONS ON PETS
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of the Attorney General (Mr Scott), the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the Deputy Premier (Mr R. F. Nixon), I have to ask this question to the Minister of Housing. It concerns a tenant, and I want to ask him this question. This woman’s name is Janet. She has asked that I not use her last name. She had service in the women’s division of the air force between 1942-45. She lives on a pension of $865 a month. She had a stroke in February of 1989, and she is now almost completely blind. She lives in the city of Toronto in a high-rise apartment building. This week, Janet received from her landlord an application to the district court of Ontario, a notice of eviction, because Janet has a cat. What have we come to in Ontario when a 67-year-old woman, who is almost blind and has just had a stroke and lives alone with her cat, gets an eviction notice. What has happened?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I believe in response to a similar question, the Attorney General made it very clear. It is one thing for a landlord to give an eviction notice. It is something quite different for the person, in fact, to be evicted. The Attorney General made it very clear that under the landlord and tenant legislation the broad range of decisions which have been made recently have been in favour of the tenant. There had been the one exception. Both the Attorney General and I have clearly been concerned about that one exception, but it would appear that, subsequent to that, all other decisions have been very much in favour of the tenant. So therefore the direction of the Attorney General, which I would strongly support, is that tenants just simply resist such an eviction notice.
Mr B. Rae: The minister is suggesting that a 67-year-old woman who is blind and living in an apartment with her cat should resist her landlord. What a pathetic response from the government of Ontario to a very human situation.
Why in the name of goodness can we not have a law in Ontario which says that an apartment is just as much a home as somebody else’s house and that living in a home means the right to enjoyment, “to quiet enjoyment,” to use the words of the legislation and the words of the common law; and if you are entitled to quiet enjoyment, why are you not entitled clearly and categorically so that landlords will not take advantage of this? There are 126 buildings in Metropolitan Toronto where this is happening.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: Why is there not a clear statement in the law which simply says, “You’re entitled to quiet enjoyment, and that includes the use of pets so long as they do not bother anybody”?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The point that I tried to make a couple of minutes ago is in fact that is the way the decisions are being made, that tenants are able to have quiet enjoyment, and the decisions which are being made in an adverse way is where there is a clear demonstration that those pets are causing a disturbance to the quiet enjoyment of another tenant.
Mr B. Rae: I want to say to the minister that as I have talked to lawyers with respect to this I understand that there are two recent court cases, one of them a case where the landlord withdrew in court, a second case where the tenant did not show up for the hearing and the eviction was allowed. Those are the kinds of cases that the Attorney General was relying on yesterday.
I want to ask the minister why it is that he is asking tenants to be heroes. He is asking widows to resist an eviction notice and he himself knows how terrifying a document of this kind would be coming through the door of somebody who is living on her own at the age of 67.
Mrs Grier: On $865 a month.
Mr B. Rae: On $865 a month. He should put himself into those shoes for a bit and just walk around there for a few moments and think for a second as to why we do not have a law which states clearly and categorically that this kind of cheap, cheesy intimidation tactic by the landlords of Ontario ought to be illegal.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: It is the landlords who ought to be going to court, not the tenants of the province.
Hon Mr Sweeney: We currently have a law, the Landlord and Tenant Act, which indicates that the tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of his or her property. Whenever that law has been challenged, in all of the cases except the one that has been highly publicized, the courts have upheld the law and the tenants have been allowed to have quiet enjoyment except where their pets interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others. The law is there. The law is being carried out. The law is effecting what it was intended to effect.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. I want to pursue a couple of questions in regard to the proposed auto insurance bill, questions that I think will be of interest to the people of Ontario in regard to the impact of this particular bill.
I wonder if the minister could share with the House the total number of people in Ontario who would be impacted by the bill and also the total value of the premiums in the last fiscal year that were paid for auto insurance in this province.
Hon Mr Elston: The bill will have implications for the full nine-million-plus people who reside in the province of Ontario. The number of premium dollars I do not have at my disposal at the moment, but I will get that for the member.
Mr Brandt: As usual, I want to be helpful to the minister and I want to share with him the fact that, in addition to six-million-plus drivers and probably impacting, as this bill does, on more than nine million Ontarians who have use of a car at one time or another, the total premium bill is in excess of $3 billion. I want to suggest that by way of background to the minister, only in trying to be helpful with respect to the time frame in which he anticipates having this bill passed.
I ask the minister, in view of those facts -- over six million drivers, over $3 billion in premiums -- does it seem reasonable that the minister is pushing to have these hearings limited to a time frame in which all of the hearings will be concluded prior to the end of this year?
Hon Mr Elston: It does seem to me that it is well within the public policy interests of the province to move forward with this. The member and his cohort the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) have been among the large number of people who have said we must get on with it and move more quickly than we have before, that there has been enough study. I agree with him and I agree the member for Leeds-Grenville. I agree with the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) who says that we have taken too long to study and too much has been done when questions of affordability are at stake. I agree with all of that and, as a result, I am quite pleased to move forward with the legislation.
We have had the Slater report, the Osborne report, the report of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. We have had all kinds of input and we have accepted the recommendations which they have put as part of the process to establish the bill and in fact have made good use of the input from various parts of the public that have come before us: the consuming groups, people who represent the injured, people from the industry, people from the legal groups, people from the broadest perspective in the province. The bill is a balanced and rational way to come up with both affordability and good benefit levels to support the people in the province.
Mr Brandt: Two points: Little of the input that has been received to date has been included in the minister’s bill and, second, no one in the opposition parties has asked the minister, to the best of my knowledge, to rush this whole matter through. I say that because this government has a track record which is less than attractive in terms of bringing forward bills that are without flaw.
I would use as an example which I want to share with the minister Bill 147, which is the Independent Health Facilities Act. A total of 38 amendments were brought forward on that particular bill and it was still returned to committee for further public hearings. To Bill 41 earlier in the session, which the minister was in a big hurry to pass, the government itself put forward over 100 amendments, so we frankly now have a new bill in place.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Brandt: My question is simply this: The government gives every indication that it wants to fast-track this bill. Why, when he has a bill of such magnitude, which is going to impact on over six million people, $3-billion-plus in premiums, why will the minister not conduct extensive --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Elston: As I indicated earlier, we have had a chance over the past few years to take a look at all of those public positions held by lawyers and people from injured victims’ associations, from the anti-drunk-driving associations. All of those people have come before Slater or Osborne or in front of the board. We have had people in the broadest way possible.
In fact, what we did was we released the bill in draft form in September so that people could tell us their thoughts about the bill prior to its introduction into the House. So the bill has been in the public forum for some time and, contrary to what the honourable gentleman suggests, we have made extensive use not only of Slater and Osborne and of the automobile insurance board report, but of other input received from lawyers’ groups and others.
Mr Brandt: You rejected what they recommended. Don’t mislead the people. You rejected what they recommended.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman is absolutely wrong when he says we did not take the advice of the public input that we have received. Not only have we got Bill 68 as part of our comprehensive program, but we have gone much further than that and taken the advice of the auto board, which said: “You cannot rely on the insurance product alone to reduce accidents. You have to do other things. You have to ensure that accidents are reduced and you do that by enforcement, by” --
The Speaker: Thank you. Perhaps the minister might take a breather.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship. I sent the minister over a letter more than half an hour ago as a courtesy, so that he would be able to answer this question.
The letter which I sent him is a resignation letter by Anne Molloy, who was head of legal services for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It is a letter that Ms Molloy wrote to the former executive director of the commission, Michael Gage. In that letter, she tells Michael Gage that she had received a telephone call from him saying that he had denied to the Toronto Star that a certain meeting took place between him and Anne Molloy.
My question to the minister is, does he as the minister responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Commission condone such deception by a senior public civil servant?
Hon Mr Wong: First of all, let me thank the honourable member for providing me with all of these documents at the beginning of question period.
Let me put it into context: In Ontario, we have perhaps the strongest, but certainly one of the strongest, human rights codes of any province or territory in Canada. We have one of the best human rights organizations in the country and I might say that on an international scale Canada ranks extremely high in terms of being a country that protects people’s human rights.
Let me say that the matter which the honour-able member is bringing up is something that took place in the past. I believe that all of these matters were fully investigated, as I have indicated on previous occasions in the House, and I do believe that it is time now to set aside what happened in the past and begin looking forward to building a stronger and more independent human rights commission for the future.
Mrs Marland: It is unbelievable that this minister wants to build a future on such shifting sands. I cannot believe his answer. I want to ask the minister one more time, does he believe that he is acting in the best interests of human rights in this province when he condones what he now knows went on at the Ontario Human Rights Commission without even giving that person a right to come and speak to the full and public inquiry which was promised to the people of Ontario?
Hon Mr Wong: When the honourable member raises such a complicated issue which has many facts and many allegations surrounding it, and when the honourable member finds an allegation or a statement that may not be consistent or may not support the conclusion that she is looking for, I can understand why she would ask this question. But the forum which we used in order to fully investigate these matters was the standing committee. To add to my responses to the honourable member in the past, let me once again remind her that not only was she a member of that committee but she had the opportunity to ask the questions that would be relevant to determining the appropriate answers.
Mrs Marland: The minister is not only insulting the people who sit on that committee who do not believe in stonewalling; he is insulting the people of Ontario who believe in, indeed have fought for, human rights. How ironic that we spoke earlier today about Remembrance Day. I think the minister should be ashamed of his nonanswers.
The Speaker: And now the supplementary.
Mrs Marland: I will ask him one more time, is he going to follow up on his previous statement, and indeed the motion of his government House leader in this House, to allow full and public open hearings at the standing committee that he just referred to, which I will call the stonewalling committee’? Is he going to allow the deception to continue or will he have full and open hearings where everybody has a right to be heard on both sides of the issue’?
Hon Mr Wong: The honourable member presented me with documents here, one a 12-page letter which was dated 10 May 1989, six months ago. Let me again indicate that, to the best of my knowledge, this correspondence and this information was fully investigated by the respective --
Mrs Marland: It was not. That’s the whole point. It has not been investigated.
Hon Mr Wong: If it was not, then the honourable member certainly had the opportunity during the standing committee hearings to raise these questions.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Philip: I have a question to the Solicitor General. Now that Paul Magder and Hy and Zel’s and others have been rebuffed by the Supreme Court of Canada and the minister clearly has the constitutional right in this Legislature to close stores on Sundays, and now that certain large chains have said that they intend to flout that law which was passed by the Legislature of Ontario, is it the intention of his government to seek an injunction against those people who have indicated their intention to break the law?
Hon Mr Offer: Dealing with the question at hand, I am aware of the media reports of the past couple of days. Let me indicate that in dealing with that particular act, or indeed any other act, the question of policing is within the responsibility of the local policing authorities. They are the ones charged with the responsibility of investigating any allegations of breach of any law. They are the ones who, after such investigation and determination of evidence, decide whether or not to lay a charge. That is the responsibility of the municipal policing areas and that is what they in fact do.
Mr Philip: It is interesting that when the bill was passed the government said it was not passing the buck. Now it says it is passing the buck to the municipalities. Is the Solicitor General aware that in the absence of no minimum fines many of the companies which have been violating the law are getting little more than slaps on the wrist, or indeed no fine at all, for violating his Sunday store hours act?
Is the Solicitor General prepared at least now, at this point when some major chain stores have indicated that they intend to flout the law and disobey a law passed by this Legislature, to amend the act to at least have a minimum fine so that the stores will understand that it will cost them if they intend to flout the law of the province?
Hon Mr Offer: I think what must be indicated, and apparently reiterated, is that the particular legislation and law which the member alludes to does carry with it substantial fines. It does carry with it substantial penalties.
The question of policing is not a matter of passing responsibility, but in fact policing is the responsibility, acknowledged and accepted for years and years historically, of whatever local municipality it is, be it a municipality, the OPP or a regional municipal police force. That is where the responsibility for policing rests. That is a responsibility which is accepted after examination of an allegation, seeing of evidence and determination of whether charges ought to be laid. That is where it is and that is where it ought to be.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Jackson: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Today is the 23rd day of the province-wide community college strike and it is in fact the 17th school or academic day that has been lost by Ontario’s 110,000 community college students. I would remind the minister that in a similar strike in 1984 it was on this very same 17th day that the College Relations Commission advised the government that there was going to be a finding of jeopardy, that students’ academic years would somehow be missed.
Since we have not heard any announcement from either the minister or the commission, could he please explain to this House what has changed in five years?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to thank the honourable member for providing me with an opportunity to report to the House this afternoon on what I believe to be the latest information with respect to the ongoing withdrawal of services in the Ontario community college system, and that is that as of two o’clock this afternoon the mediation talks were ongoing and at that point in time I had not received any advisement or finding of jeopardy in that particular dispute.
Mr Jackson: It is very clear from this minister that the only intervention he is going to consider will be as a result of there being a finding of jeopardy. He has made that statement very clearly, but there is still no ruling forthcoming today. We still do not have a clear statement. Yet previously his government while in opposition had absolutely no difficulty in using the 17th day as an acceptable benchmark.
The minister has been receiving hundreds of calls. I have been receiving hundreds of calls. Every member of this House has been receiving calls from students who believe their school year is in jeopardy. Why it is so inconceivable that we would have a Minister of Education who somehow knows how to respond to the issue of when a community college education is in jeopardy in this province?
We would like to know from the minister to what extent he can inform this House when a community college student’s academic year is in jeopardy. He obviously does not agree it is on the 17th day.
Hon Mr Conway: I want to be very clear and very consistent in reminding the House that in so far as the jeopardy issue is concerned, it is the responsibility under the act of the College Relations Commission to make that finding. At this point in time, the commission has not advised me of such a finding of jeopardy. Moreover, I want to inform the House this afternoon of what I informed the teachers roughly 24 hours ago, and that is that I do not intend to relieve the responsible parties to this dispute of their obligations under the collective bargaining process. I expect those parties, in the interests of the students and of the community college system, to meet their obligations to settle this at the table and to settle it soon.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On 11 May of this year, I introduced a resolution concerning retirement communities that received unanimous support from this House. Sandy Cove Acres in my riding is the largest and the oldest of these retirement communities in this province. Although it is a good lifestyle for those who choose to live there, they have many concerns that are common to retirement communities across this province that need to be addressed.
My question to the minister today is, could he update us as to the status of his ministry’s involvement in this issue? Where are we going?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I want to tell my friend the member for Simcoe Centre that because he gave me notice of this question I had an opportunity to review the debate that took place on his private member’s resolution, and indeed some 60 members were in the House when that resolution was passed. Members will know that retirement communities are rather unique under the law of the province in as much as the land is generally owned by a landlord and land is rented to individual retirees, families, couples or individuals. Then they purchase a home and place it on that leased land.
My friend the member for Simcoe Centre, during the debate and elsewhere, has brought to the attention of the government a number of specific problems that affect the general retiree who is living in one of these retirement communities. I want to tell him and the rest of the members of this House that we have had ongoing consultation with the Provincial Association of Retirement Communities, and we in the ministry are looking at some of the very issues my friend from Simcoe Centre has raised. It will be perhaps another two or three months before I have an opportunity to report more fully to him and to the House on the matter.
Mr Owen: There are some specific concerns that are fairly prominent for the people who live in these areas. They are concerns that deal with tenure arrangements, life leases and the right of resale of these units. The people living there are having difficulties and problems with these specific issues. I understand that the minister is looking at a review of the Condominium Act of this province. What is the timing of that and will he give us some assurance that these problems can be incorporated into the proposed changes to the Condominium Act?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There is probably no one in the House who knows more about these issues and has studied them more than the member for Simcoe Centre. He mentions problems that exist under the Landlord and Tenant Act and taxation issues. We are reviewing the Condominium Act and I anticipate being in a position to introduce amendments to the Condominium Act, perhaps next year late in the spring session of this Parliament.
It is not quite clear yet, I must say to the member for Simcoe Centre, that all the issues he knows about with respect to retirement communities can be addressed under the Condominium Act, or whether indeed that is the most appropriate piece of legislation. I want to assure him that as we examine the amendments we are going to be making to the Condominium Act, we certainly are going to keep in mind the issues that confront our senior citizens living in these retirement communities. I appreciate the attention he has given to those issues and the manner in which he has brought them to the attention of the ministry.
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Minister of Financial Institutions. Rick Heaslip, a 40-year-old Scarborough driver, called this week to tell me that Allstate was not going to renew his $1,200 insurance policy for his car, but that new coverage had been arranged for a fee of some $3,000 for his auto insurance premium. The minister knows that Mr Heaslip is being forced into the Facility Association, which has premiums three, four or however many times greater than the regular market, premiums in the many thousands of dollars.
The number of people in the Facility has more than doubled in the last year because insurers are not renewing their policies. What is the minister going to do to ensure drivers have access to regular insurers’?
Hon Mr Elston: I thank the honourable gentleman for the new case and I will certainly take a look at it, as I looked at the case yesterday of Mrs Cerullo. I found out that the facts were correct, that she did have increases, but she also added a second vehicle to her coverage at the same time. That is what I found out. I can tell the honourable gentleman that having doubled the coverage, having two vehicles, and then moved on, and there is no question --
The Speaker: Order. We all have different points of view. I have heard on many occasions different members expressing different points of view, so would the minister continue with his response.
Hon Mr Elston: When I have the examples, I go back and take a look at them and I see what the reasons for the changes have been. That is what I can do and that is what I will continue to do. I will look into the example that has been given to me here to find out exactly what has changed, if anything. I will attempt to get to the bottom of each case. That is what I have found out with respect to the one instance that the member mentioned yesterday. I can tell the member that every time he mentions an instance, I will go back and get as much information as I can to find out exactly what has occurred.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that he is right that the Facility Association coverage has grown and that does concern me, but I can tell him that with the new product, we are looking at being able to manage how people practise their underwriting activities. With the new commissioner, there will be a way in which he or she can intervene to assist the purchasers of insurance product in Ontario. That is why we want to get on with the legislation. I thank the gentleman for demonstrating the urgency required.
Mr Kormos: What a crock. The minister does not know what he is talking about. Catch this, Mr Speaker; catch this. This is from Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, who tells us in his third quarterly report of this year that Facility Association coverage is going to increase under the government’s new scheme, not decrease.
He writes that if the legislation proceeds as it is presently drafted, it is highly likely that under-writers will use avoidance tactics on such classes as seasonal workers, small self-employed contractors, unskilled labourers, workers in the hospitality sector and a host of other similar occupations. They are going to use avoidance tactics, and do you know why, Mr Speaker? Because --
The Speaker: Order. Order. Do you know what that means? Would you ask your supplementary, please.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was getting right to it.
They are going to use avoidance tactics. The number of people in the Facility is going to increase -- that is what the manager of the Facility Association says -- because of the government’s new scheme. What does the minister have to say about that? Is he going to feed us more crap like he has earlier today?
Hon Mr Elston: I want to thank the honourable gentleman for being his unusual moderate self again today. He has a way of being theatrically inclined when the cameras pop on him, but let me get down to business.
If he checks what Mr McKay said, I believe it probably was that if the situation goes along without amendments, the Facility will continue to rise. I do not know that is the case, if Mr McKay said that to him. I will check it out and verify what was said, but that is what I have interpreted Mr McKay to be communicating to our ministry. I can tell the honourable gentleman that we will verify the factual things that he brings in front of the House and that for his benefit we will respond to him by providing the circumstances that perhaps have not been uncovered. But no matter what, we have to get on with the legislation --
The Speaker: Order. Would the member -- new question.
Mr D. S. Cooke: You want an even hand in this place, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As part of his ministry’s review background paper Toward 2000 on priority planning, there are increasing fears in the agricultural community that as a result of this particular review and of cuts in the ministry’s budget, county agricultural offices will be closed and/or consolidated as part of that plan. Can the minister today clearly state, for example, that the Dundas county Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food office in eastern Ontario will not be closed or amalgamated with another county office?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to assure the member that I have no plans to close the Dundas county office. I would like to tell the member a little bit about the priority planning process. I have been to many of them across the province. I am going to Ridgetown tonight to participate in the one there. We find them very constructive. Farmers and processors and other participants in the agrifood industry have been contributing their opinions on the challenges that face our industry and also have been giving us some advice on what program response we should be giving our clients in the next decade.
Mr Villeneuve: I thank the minister for confirming what was a very big question out in my constituency. There was a very serious cut of $57 million in the budget amount allocated to the ministry last year. The meeting I attended with the minister yesterday clearly outlines that agriculture and in particular grain producers are going to be in serious trouble in the next two or three years. Could the minister advise this House and the agricultural community of Ontario what he plans on doing towards finding new uses for crops, probably oriented towards cleaning the air in Ontario.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I think one of the major roles our ministry can play in assisting farmers is to find new avenues to market the different crops we grow in this province. I think members would find it very interesting that we grow 200 different commodities in this province compared to 80 in the state of Michigan. We have a very diverse and incredible supply of commodities that we produce in this province and I think one way we can work with our producers is in marketing.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Recent statistics from the Queen’s University research department indicate that young people between the ages of 16 to 24 account for 31 per cent of traffic fatalities and 33 per cent of traffic injuries, although they represent only 17 per cent of Canada’s population. In addition, traffic accidents remain the single most common cause of death among people of this age group.
My own 14-year-old son probably will not like me for asking this question, but for his own benefit and for the benefit of young people generally, I would like to inquire from the minister whether there are any plans to raise the driver’s age to 18. Such a measure, which is common in other countries, in my opinion would at least ensure that drivers --
The Speaker: Thank you. Your question has been asked.
Mr Daigeler: -- have another two years of maturity.
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member raises a very important issue. I can tell him that the issue has been raised from time to time and has been rejected in the past. Certainly, I can tell him today that we are not considering raising the driving age in the province.
But he does raise an important question and the kinds of problems and the statistics he quotes are absolutely correct. There are really two basic reasons for it: poor driver attitude and driver inexperience. That is why, as part of the package of safety reform we are looking at in terms of driving, we are examining very closely the system of graduated licensing. Such a system is now in place in California and Maryland with positive results.
It would give a driver an opportunity to begin driving in a number of areas. It might limit the number of passengers. It might limit driving at night. It might limit driving to certain kinds of roadways at the beginning and gradually, in a sense, through the experience of driving in all sorts of conditions, allow the driver to get on-the-highway, on-the-roadway learning. That is the kind of initiative we are looking at for the future.
Mr Daigeler: I am glad the minister is taking this matter very seriously, because after all lives are at stake here and especially the lives of our young people. Now, in view of the initiatives that are already under way, is the minister prepared -- again, it is being done in some other countries, especially European countries -- to consider making drivers’ education with licence features mandatory at least for the people in the high-risk age group?
Hon Mr Wrye: The issue of driver education has been canvassed and quite frankly today, particularly among a large number of our young drivers, the majority of them have taken some kind of professional driving education on a voluntary basis. That number continues to grow as new drivers come on to our roads. The problem is that once having learned the proper rules of the road, they do not always choose to adhere to those rules in the early part of their experience as drivers.
One of the things we are looking at, I can say to the honourable member, is the issue of driver education as a way of moving more quickly through the graduated driver system. Such a system is one we are very interested in exploring; that is, we are looking at having driver education as one aspect of the implementation of a graduated driver system in the future in this province.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Allen: The studies of college students in the midst of a strike can be in jeopardy for quite nonacademic reasons that might well escape the College Relations Commission. I want to ask this question of the Minister of Community and Social Services, who might be surprised to be getting a question on this subject.
A number of students have come to me from Mohawk College who are in the family benefits supported programs and who are very nervous about deadlines on the day care subsidies they face: no day care -- it is quite as simple as that -- no day care, no studies for them, program in jeopardy. As the major funder of day care in the province, the minister has great power to affect the circumstances these students face. Can he assure them that their day care subsidies will remain intact throughout the cessation of studies, until they can resume studies once more.
Hon Mr Beer: This question has come up and was one I was concerned about in terms of what happened to those students. It is my understanding that while the individual is a student in good standing at the institution, that subsidy continues and there should be no change in that situation. I am not aware at the present time of any specific action that has been taken to limit that. I believe they continue to keep the assistance because what is going on is not related to any decision they themselves took. Obviously, if they were to leave or go to some other part of the country, that would be different in that regard, but not while they are still there.
Mr Allen: I am sure that will be a significant assurance to them. As the minister knows, many mature students undertake a tremendous readjustment to their lives to get back to college and require a number of support mechanisms to stay there. Quite astonishingly -- I know this is not the minister’s direct responsibility -- students sup-ported by workers’ compensation, for example, who require a transportation allowance, summarily had their transportation allowance removed from them the moment that the strike began, even though they are encouraged to attend college in order to maintain an attendance record.
I want to ask the minister -- this is a multi-ministry kind of question -- whether he will take this entire question of the maintenance of student support systems to his cabinet colleagues to ensure that support systems like day care, travel allowances and so on will not disappear for students in the present circumstances and jeopardize their studies.
Hon Mr Beer: Yes, I certainly would take that to my colleagues. I think that in situations where students are receiving support, and specifically in the day care area, if actions have taken place that do not directly include them, it is not their fault that this situation has arisen, then we have a responsibility to ensure that something as necessary as the day care continues. I appreciate the broader context in which the member put that question, and I think it is one that would be very worth while for us to look at in more detail.
Mr Sterling: I have a question for the member for Wilson Heights. Could he please tell me what the name of his ministry is?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I am somewhat grieved to understand that the man who is my critic does not know the name of the ministry he is criticizing. Just for his edification I would like to spell it out in as simple terms as I can, in words of one syllable hopefully; it is the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology.
Mr Sterling: Is it true that his ministry has very recently discarded 10,000 brochures telling what the ministry does because it was incorrectly entitled the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I am not aware of that particular situation. I am sure that members, particularly of the third party, will remember that was the name of the ministry at one time. I do not know whether these were old brochures that were produced by the member’s particular government when he was in that position. I do not know, but I will be very happy to look into it for him.
Mr Dietsch: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services, who is responsible for francophone affairs. On 19 November, as the minister knows, the right to receive French-language services provided by Bill 8, the French Language Services Act, will come into effect. Several of my constituents have expressed to me some of their concerns surrounding the bill, and in particular official bilingualism. I would like to ask the minister if this government. in his opinion, is in effect proceeding to official bilingualism.
Hon Mr Beer: I think that both this government and the Legislature were very clear in the enactment of Bill 8 in 1986 in that what we are doing is providing French-language services in designated areas of the province and from the head offices of various government ministries and agencies. The focus is on the provision of those services. It in no way limits the provision of English-language services, nor does it in any way limit any English language rights. What we are doing is providing those services. This is not in the sense of the federal government program. We are trying to target the services to the 85 per cent of the francophone community who live in the designated areas.
Mr Dietsch: There seems to be a great deal of confusion and uncertainty in some areas regarding the implementation of Bill 8 and, in fact, the bill. Will the minister please clarify whether or not there will continue to be equal access to employment opportunities and what the official language of administration of this province is and why information responding to these concerns has not been more readily circulated?
Hon Mr Beer: I regret that there are some who are not as perhaps aware of the terms of the bill as they might be or ought to be. I think there has been a fairly extensive consultation process, certainly with members of the public service.
I know that a lot of informational material has been sent out on the bill; but to be clear, let me say that in discussion with members who have had similar concerns I have made it a particular part of my responsibility to try to get out and speak in various communities, to groups of people, to newspapers, on television and radio, to try to answer the kinds of concerns that are being raised in various areas because I think it is awfully important. People can have legitimate concerns about the nature of the bill, how it might affect their particular careers or what this might mean for the future. I think once one has that opportunity to discuss it, it is a fair and reasonable approach.
Perhaps the commitment I would want to make to the honourable member and to my colleagues is that in the implementation of the bill, we have to show a great deal of common sense and to work carefully and co-operatively with people in those --
The Speaker: Thank you.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER
Mr Pouliot: My question is for the Solicitor General. As the minister surely knows, most small communities across the province are unable to establish or maintain a 911 emergency system simply because of excessive cost; they want his involvement. His government has established an interministerial committee to look at the situation, but if I may point out, the situation is even more acute in northern communities, which are further disadvantaged by virtue of the great distances between them. When will the minister’s ministry begin to implement a system?
Hon Mr Offer: I would like to thank the member for his notice of this question dealing with concerns raised and how best to meet some very important and emergency needs for many people in this province.
Dealing with the implementation of a 911 system, I think it has to be said at the outset that it is a local, municipal initiative. In no one area does a 911 system serve a full OPP type of district. I bring this matter to light because many people feel I should be looking at a 911 system because of the OPP policing and a resource in terms of emergency.
I would like to indicate that dealing with the 911 system is a local, municipal initiative. We are not at this point in time subsidizing. However, we are implementing an OPP telecommunications system, one aspect of which will be a 1-800 number which will provide a single telephone number for all residents in the area so they may be able to access and avail an OPP district officer --
The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mr Pouliot: Obviously, by his answer, the minister is ready for a supplementary. With respect, I see how difficult it will be for the minister to implement the system.
On 16 May 1989, the township of Manitouwadge asked his ministry to inform and assist them on the findings of the interministerial committee; that is a full six months ago. I am not asking the minister to carry the guilt. He is new in his tenure. We want to wish him well. His record is somewhat immaculate. I mean, he has not had a chance to do anything yet.
An hon member: Don’t go overboard.
Mr Pouliot: No, but the fact of the matter remains that we need direct action; without the minister’s help, without his involvement, it will be impossible to implement the much-needed, much-recognized 911 emergency system up north. We want to be like the minister; he should come on side. What does he tell the people of Manitouwadge, among others? Can they believe him? Can they trust him? If so, when?
Hon Mr Offer: It is a very important issue which the member has brought forward. Basically, with the 911 system, what that system does is provide a single telephone number to be used in terms of emergency. As I have indicated, that is really a local, municipal type of initiative.
However, I think there is a need to provide that single telephone number in terms of emergency, and in times of emergency, through the OPP telecommunications system, which we are in the midst of implementing at this very time; it will service all of the OPP districts, primarily in the northern portion of the province. That type of telephone number will be available to be able to meet the needs, the concerns and the emergencies of the people in the area.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a question for the Minister of Education. The Ministry of Skills Development introduced a program called Transitions on 4 August 1987, designed to provide retraining assistance to older workers. In 1987 that program had a budget of $14 million; the ministry was able to spend some $284,000. In 1988 it had a budget of some $8 million and was able to spend $1 million. From the estimates, it looks as if the budget this year will be $4 million, which is not a tremendous commitment to the program on behalf of his government.
Over 35,000 workers aged 45 to 64 are unemployed in this province in any given month. Older workers would like to know what the minister has done with some $20.7 million that was earmarked for them yet not spent in the last two years.
Hon Mr Conway: I want to say to my friend the member for London North, the putative candidate for the leadership of the third party, that this government has a very strong commitment to assisting older workers. She is quite right about the Transitions program, which by the way we have expanded in terms of eligibility, not just to workers 45 years of age or older who are on layoff but also to include those who have received a notice of layoff.
One of the difficulties we have experienced is that the participation in that program has not been to a level that the government would like to see, and we at the Ministry of Skills Development are currently embarking upon an active program of public information to try to encourage a greater participation.
We are quite prepared to spend the moneys we have budgeted, and more, in meeting the need, but we must of course have people participating in the program. That is why we have expanded the eligibility, and that is why we are currently embarked on a public awareness program to make this excellent offering as widely available as we possibly can.
DISCHARGE OF BILL 36
Mr Ward moved that the order for third reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act, be discharged and that the bill be referred to the standing committee on general government.
Motion agreed to.
REFERRAL OF BILLS 64 AND 65
Mr Ward moved that standing order 72 be waived with respect to the consideration of Bill 64, An Act to amend the Education Act and certain other Acts related to Education Assessment, and Bill 65, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act, 1988, by the standing committee on social development.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Mr Ward moved that in addition to its regular meeting days the standing committee on finance and economic affairs be authorized to meet on any two days agreed upon by all of the recognized parties on the committee to consider Bill 46, An Act to establish a Commercial Concentration Tax, and Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
BUSINESS INFORMATION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ward, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, moved first reading of Bill 79, An Act to amend Various Statutes in connection with Information to be filed and records to be kept by Corporations and Limited Partnerships.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
TORONTO BAPTIST SEMINARY AND BIBLE COLLEGE ACT, 1989
Mr Kanter moved second reading of Bill Pr29, An Act to amend the Toronto Baptist Seminary Act, 1982.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWN OF IROQUOIS FALLS ACT, 1989
Mr Sterling, on behalf of Mr Pope, moved second reading of Bill Pr31, An Act respecting the Town of Iroquois Falls.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
GRAND VALLEY RAILWAY CO INC ACT, 1989
Mr McClelland moved second reading of Bill Pr33, An Act respecting Grand Valley Railway Co Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO HOME ECONOMICS ASSOCIATION ACT, 1989
Mr Ward, on behalf of Mr J. B. Nixon, moved second reading of Bill Pr35, An Act respecting the Ontario Home Economics Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF OTTAWA ACT, 1989
Mr Sterling, on behalf of Mr Chiarelli, moved second reading of Bill Pr38, An Act to dissolve the Board of Trustees of the Ottawa Charitable Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF GUELPH ACT, 1989
Mr Ferraro moved second reading of Bill Pr42, An Act respecting the City of Guelph.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
EAST YORK-SCARBOROUGH READING ASSOCIATION INC ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli moved second reading of Bill Pr48, An Act to revive East York-Scarborough Reading Association Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF ETOBICOKE ACT, 1989
Mr Riddell, on behalf of Mr Henderson, moved second reading of Bill Pr50, An Act respecting the City of Etobicoke.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ASTCAM CO LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mr Sterling moved second reading of Bill Pr51, An Act to revive Astcam Co Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would like to advise members that by prior agreement of the House leaders, the vote on Bill 2 and Bill 3 will take place at 5:45 pm on Tuesday.
The Speaker: We will certainly keep that in mind, as long as the debate is finished, and I am sure you will advise us again at that time.
Mr Kormos: It is a little bit difficult; it is never fun to have to go a full 24 hours. What it does is it gives you a chance to get a little bit of feedback from the people who watch this, and it is incredible how many people watch the provincial Legislature.
I talked to folk down in Welland-Thorold last night who indeed were watching; who were watching when the Liberal member for Brampton South (Mr Callahan) jumped up and squealed out, “Point of order, Mr Speaker, point of order.” The folk down in Welland-Thorold said, “Boy, you must have touched a nerve.” I said, “Gosh, you really think so?” And they said, “Well, why else would the member for Brampton South have jumped up and squealed, ‘Point of order, Mr Speaker, point of order,’ when all you were doing was talking about the pathetic history that this government has of not consulting with the community, with the public, when it comes down to important legislation, least of all consulting with those very people and groups of people in the province who upon whom the legislation will have a direct impact?”
What I was talking about was how I very specifically recalled being at committee hearings wherein the committee -- albeit in an abbreviated way, because the government members would not permit the numbers of injured workers and injured workers’ groups to make submissions to the committee about Bill 162. Indeed, they were denied the right to make those submissions. But I was present with the committee when the committee was in Hamilton, and I recall each and every one of those groups of injured workers and trade unionists appearing before that committee making submissions about Bill 162, the horrible act that amended the Workers’ Compensation Act, because the government, the Ministry of Labour, at taxpayers’ expense, had published a pamphlet saying, “We’ve consulted with injured workers in Ontario.” There it was in black and white, paid for by the taxpayer, published by the government.
Quite frankly, I wanted to check the veracity or truthfulness of that statement. I wanted to find out whether that statement by the government was truthful or whether it was a blatant, outright lie. I wanted to find out whether that statement by the government that indeed it had the misfortune of publishing was truthful or whether it was an outright prevarication. I wanted to find out whether that statement by the government that indeed it had consulted with injured workers’ groups was truthful or indeed whether it displayed the complete bankruptcy of this government when it comes to any form of integrity.
I sat and listened carefully as members of that committee, our members, people like the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) and the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie) questioned the delegations there and said, “Look, we got this brochure printed at taxpayers’ expense by the Ministry of Labour that says that the government consulted people like you, injured workers’ groups and trade unionists, before it put this horrible bit of legislation before the House.” Each and every one of them said: “Well, we’ve never heard from the Ministry of Labour. We were never consulted. We never heard from government. Can’t for the life of me think of what you were talking about.”
Mr Polsinelli: Point of order.
The Deputy Speaker: Point of order.
Mr Kormos: I am sorry, Mr Speaker, there is a point of order again.
Mr Polsinelli: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Perhaps the member for Welland-Thorold is confused. We are talking about Bill 2 today, third reading, not Bill 162.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am not confused. I am talking about a history of deceit.
Mrs Sullivan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr Kormos: Here we go, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: Point of order.
Mrs Sullivan: I have been listening to the words of the member for Welland-Thorold and I really am quite concerned that he is using words that are tantamount to the breaking of the standing orders. I would like you to make a ruling and ask him to be more cautious with his language.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, the member for Welland-Thorold is close to the edge of unparlia-mentary language, but I would invite him to be more cautious in the future. It is not unparliamen-tary but it is darned close to it.
Mr Kormos: Praise the Lord, Mr Speaker.
In any event, I sat there and listened as these groups that the government insisted had been consulted were asked by members of that committee, New Democratic Party members, “Were you consulted?” Each and every one of them said no.
“Well, have you heard of anybody who has been consulted?” They said, “No, not really.” “Well, spend a few more moments thinking about it and tell us if you know of anybody who has been consulted. Have you heard any rumours about anybody being consulted?” “Well, no, not really.”
You can bet your boots, Mr Speaker, that I drew some conclusions about whether or not that statement by the Ministry of Labour, by the government, as to its having consulted injured workers, was truthful or a lie. So did all those people who participated in those hearings who were confronted with that same question, and so did members of the public across Ontario. They drew some clear conclusions.
This brings me to my concern about this legislation, because in the committee when we pleaded with the government on behalf of groups like the Advocates’ Society, the Criminal Lawyers Association and the Canadian Bar Association -- Ontario Branch, which wanted but a few more weeks to prepare its comments about this bad bit of legislation -- we pleaded with the government to give these people the few more weeks they were asking for. These are honourable, legitimate groups in our community which want an opportunity to help the government in its misguided but none the less real efforts to change the court structure. The government said, “No, you can’t have a couple of weeks.”
The bill was only just presented to the House on 1 May, when it obtained, of course, first reading, and then through the summer months it was all greased up, like the proverbial pig, and slid through. Yet, Mr Speaker, believe it or not, once again, government members, their mouths moving and the strings being controlled, their legs and arms flopping, insisted in front of that committee: “Oh, of course there has been consultation. There is always consultation.”
The Criminal Lawyers Association does not think there has been consultation. The Canadian Bar Association of Ontario does not think there has been any consultation. The Advocates’ Society does not think there has been any consultation. They have only just had their first opportunity to look at this bill. What the government did was throw in at the last minute a whole bunch of amendments that the associations had no opportunity to review. So where is the consultation? Who was the government consulting with? All those same people whom the government said it was consulting with denied having been consulted. Somebody is not telling the truth.
I leave it for you members to conclude whether it is the Criminal Lawyers Association, the Canadian Bar Association of Ontario and the Advocates’ Society -- I leave it to them to determine and conclude who is not telling the truth, because they both cannot be right. That is clear.
Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: A point of order.
Mr Sterling: We were asked to debate Bill 2 and Bill 3 in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr Scott), but when there are only six out of 94 Liberal members here, I think it is incumbent on me to call for a quorum.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr Kormos: We were talking about consultation and the complete absence of it. Maybe I should not have been as shocked as I was when I heard that the government insisted it consulted with these groups and when I heard these same groups insist they had not been consulted with and indeed wanted to participate but needed merely a few more weeks to prepare their submissions, because we are getting the same drivel when it comes down to Bill 68. That is the auto insurance legislation that the auto insurance companies wrote, the bill that is going to screw drivers in Ontario out of most of the benefits that they could ever obtain through their insurance policies, the one that is going to guarantee that 99 per cent of innocent, injured accident victims in Ontario do not get one penny, not a cent, not nickel, not a dime for their pain and suffering, for their loss of enjoyment of life.
Once again, we listened to the government insist that it has consulted about that bill, when in fact it has not. We know it has not. To suggest that it has consulted anybody about that bill is the most misinformed statement that anybody could ever make.
Wait a minute, Mr Speaker. I have to concede it consulted. It consulted the auto insurance companies. There are no two ways about that. But it did not consult a single member of the public, and what is really scary is that the government plays games with the business of committee hearings, the government engages in its little shenanigans because it controls the committee process.
The committee process can be so valuable. The government controls the committee process, and what is scary is that the government may but pay the slightest of lipservice to that bill, Bill 68, the insurance companies’ bill; the one the auto insurance industry wrote; the one that is going to make sure the premiums keep going up for drivers; the one that is going to make sure that the profits certainly go up but the one that is going to make sure that injured people do not get the benefits and the compensation they deserve; the one that the government consulted with the auto insurance industry on, not with the public.
What I find fearful is that the government is going to rig up a show trial, one that would make Stalin jealous. “The joke is on you, pal, because the committee hearing about Bill 68 is over. We know it started five minutes ago, but we’ve just deemed it to be over.”
That is what is scary, because really, if you are going to have consultation, if the government is telling the truth -- and sometimes some of us become sceptical about the capacity to do just that on the part of the government -- but if it is telling the truth and if it does not want to be perceived as a liar and a scoundrel and a prevaricator, then it would have committee hearings to discuss Bill 68, this new auto insurance legislation, the threshold scheme, the one that is going to jack up profits for insurance companies, the one that is going to put the boots to drivers in Ontario.
It would have committee hearings, it would consult with the public, it would consult with drivers, it would consult with people across Ontario and it would make sure that the committee did not just sit here in Queen’s Park so that only the people in Toronto could get to it, but it would make sure that the committee went all over Ontario, visiting communities like Welland-Thorold down in the Niagara Peninsula, visiting communities that are in seats held by Liberal members, visiting northern Ontario, visiting the east of Ontario, visiting the west, as well as Toronto.
The only way that type of consultation is going to effectively take place is if the government is honest when it says it is going to consult and if it permits that committee considering Bill 68, that horrible auto insurance legislation, to travel all over Ontario for as long as is necessary to hear the people of Ontario. Otherwise, there has been no consultation and any suggestion that there has been after that will be a bold lie. There will have been no consultation if that is not done.
Mrs Sullivan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe on this occasion the member was clearly unparliamentary in his remarks.
The Deputy Speaker: Clearly what? I am sorry, I did not hear you.
Mrs Sullivan: Out of order.
The Deputy Speaker: Again, I shall remind the member. Please, it is not the first time, but I am sure it will be the last time I will recall.
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I am hoping, along with you, that it will be the last time, because I know when I am getting close to the edge, but I can tell the difference between being close to the edge and looking over it and falling over it. I will be the first to let you know if I have fallen over.
In any event, if that were to happen and people across Ontario were to say: “We’ve been had again. We’ve had it done to us. We’ve been betrayed. We’ve been deceived” -- that is what people are going to say. What people are going to say across Ontario is, “We’ve been lied to,” if that happens.
I am hoping that does not happen. I am hoping people across Ontario can say, “We have not been lied to.” I am hoping people across Ontario will not be able to say, “The government and its members are the most horrid of liars,” because I am hoping the government does take its committee across Ontario to let people make submissions about that horrible bit of auto insurance legislation. I am hoping the government takes its committee across Ontario so that people in Ontario can tell the government, “No, we do not think the insurance companies in Ontario should be making incredible profits at our expense.”
I am hoping the government takes that legislation across Ontario so that people across Ontario can tell this government, “No, you are wrong to be listening only to the auto insurance industry. Oh, we know they pay your election debts by virtue of campaign contributions,” and they did back in 1987 in the general election, “but that is not a good enough reason for you to be but little lackeys, little servants, of that industry.”
I am not sure if that can be said any more about Bill 2, because the consultation that the government speaks of and puffs out its chest about, that consultation did not take place. Maybe the people who say that were merely misinformed. Lord knows, we hear enough misinformation. If one were cynical, one would call it disinformation. But we hear enough misinformation in this Legislature on a regular basis from the people across the way.
Bill 2 is, even at that, a pretty pathetic response to real problems. This government has been told time and time and time again what is going on down in communities across Ontario, and the reason people feel compelled to tell them it is going on is because oftentimes there is a very clear impression left here in the Legislature that the government people do not get out into the real world; that they, indeed, are the victims of their own little fantasies about what is going on out there.
Courtroom facilities for big chunks of Ontario, real courtroom facilities, effective ones, are simply nonexistent. Look at the situation with the judges. Granted, there are some types of judges that only the federal government can appoint, but there are other judges that the provincial government has to appoint, such as provincial judges of all ilks and justices of the peace, and this is solely within the jurisdiction of the province.
The government is being told, virtually day in and day out, that there is a shortage of judges in the province and that this shortage is creating a backlog. I will tell the House this -- and the government knows this; it is not too eager to tell it and, indeed, is liable to deny it when confronted with it -- criminals are being set free because of the provincial government’s, this government’s, the Liberal’s government’s, inaction on real problems in the courtroom, on shortages of judges and shortages of courtroom space.
Why are they being set free? Because their trials are taking inappropriately lengthy periods of time to come to a head and the judge at that point has no option but to dismiss the charge and send criminals out on to the street; not because they have been found not guilty, not because there was no evidence, not because they were not drug traffickers destroying the lives of children and young people all over Ontario, not because they were not drug traffickers, not because the police did not do their job at great risk to themselves and at great expense to the public, not because the prosecutor was not prepared and ready, willing and able to present the evidence that was going to permit the judge -- indeed, compel the judge -- to impose a conviction, but because the provincial government does not provide enough judges and enough courtroom space for these trials to be heard in a reasonable period of time.
The provincial government just spent a whole whack of municipal taxpayers’ money. From down where I come from, Welland-Thorold in the Niagara Peninsula, we are talking probably about millions of dollars a year when the government abdicated its responsibility for providing courtroom security and forced that cost on to municipal taxpayers, hardworking people like the people from Welland-Thorold, whose property taxes are unavoidably going to go up because this government is not prepared to accept its responsibility, because this government would rather pass the buck than meet the challenge. That is exactly what they did when it came down to courtroom security.
Again, if we are going to talk about reform of the courts, if we are going to talk about reforms that are called for, that are essential, that are timely, if we are going to talk about reforms that are going to serve the real interests of the community, if we are going to talk about reforms that are going to make sure that criminals are properly prosecuted and properly convicted in the appropriate period of time so that they do not walk out of the courtroom free because the Attorney General will not appoint judges and will not provide courtroom space, if we are going to talk about those types of problems, then we should be talking about reform, changes that address those problems.
That is what is so shallow and effete about this crummy little bit of legislation here. It does not address the problems of shortages of judges and a shortage of courtroom space. It does not address the problems of criminals being let loose back on to the street to prey on our children because of the government’s inability to provide judges and courtroom space. It does not address that.
It does not address the incredible cost and burden that have just been imposed on municipalities across Ontario, municipalities such as the regional municipality of Niagara, cities all over Ontario that have their own police forces; it does not address that. Quite frankly, it does not even begin to address who we choose as judges in our provincial courts. It does not begin to address the fact that there is a real underrepresentation of women sitting as provincial judges in our courts. It does not address the fact that there is a real underrepresentation of aboriginal or native peoples sitting as provincial judges in our courtrooms. It does not address the fact that there is a real underrepresentation of nonwhite Anglo-Saxon Protestant types sitting in our courtrooms.
It does not address the fact that there is this interesting overrepresentation of ex crown attorneys sitting as judges, and does not recognize that it is important when you have a provincial bench for there to be a balance; to have a bench that represents the community in gender, in ethnic background, in culture; a bench that is diverse in terms of the legal experience that it comes to the bench with. It does not address this at all.
Real courtroom reform would talk about that. would it not? Real courtroom reform would address these very real problems. Real courtroom reform would be concerned with the realities out there in communities across Ontario rather than with the dilemma of whether you address a judge as Your Honour or Your Lordship or Mr or Madam Justice. What pathetic window-dressing; all show and no go. It is the antithesis of courtroom reform.
Real courtroom reform would have been instituted not just months ago but years ago. Mr Speaker, you know about the experiment in provincial court, civil division -- it used to be called small claims court -- the experiment that was exclusive to the city of Toronto, upping the jurisdiction to $3,000, which made the less costly Small Claim Courts accessible by persons seeking remedies up to $3,000 as compared to the $1,000 limit in the Small Claims Court servicing the rest of the Golden Horseshoe, including the Niagara Peninsula and Welland-Thorold. What that meant was that people whose remedies involved sums of more than $1,000 had to go into the costly and expensive and some-times time-consuming district court or Supreme Court.
It is incredible, because under the guise of courtroom reform, the provincial government holds us hostage and finally addresses the jurisdictional limit of the Small Claims Court when it could have done so easily, so readily, so speedily months ago, without importing all of the garbage that is contained in Bill 2, quite frankly; all of the scary stuff that is contained in Bill 2.
It is interesting to reflect on some of the things that some of the people who wanted to make submissions to the standing committee on administration of justice talked about. The government has never successfully met the proposition that there is good reason to have two levels of court, a district court and a Supreme Court or High Court -- and indeed a provincial court bench as the basic in criminal jurisdiction and, of course, through the Small Claims Court and civil and family jurisdiction -- pointing out that different judges may be appointed for different reasons to perform different tasks. I appreciate that the stare decisis that attaches to the rulings of a High Court or Supreme Court judge is not that of a Court of Appeal or Supreme Court of Canada judge.
The parliamentary assistant should recall the submission that was made to the committee that talked about the function of a Supreme Court judge being to establish precedent, guidance, direction for lower court judges, but that by homogenizing these courts that function was eliminated; that indeed what that will do is create delays in setting precedent. It will generate a sensation, not just a sensation but the reality of some anarchy in the court structure and will create an impediment for lower court judges like provincial judges who hear cases on a daily basis and oftentimes not just one case a day or one case every two days or three days but five, six, seven, eight, a dozen, 20 cases a day. That is what provincial judges have to deal with here in Ontario and they work under that kind of burden, yet still have imposed upon them, and rightly so, the highest expectation of fairness and justice.
One is really concerned about the speed with which the government wants to ram this through. There is nothing wrong with doing something quickly, if indeed it can be done properly and quickly; but this has not been done properly, and the parliamentary assistant knows it.
If he is not already, he should be ashamed of the fact that those groups that could have made sound commentary on this legislation were denied that opportunity. They were told: “Go away. We are not interested in what you have to say.” Quite frankly, the impression that was left is, “We do not value your judgement.”
It is shameful and sad that the government wants to speed this legislation through when it does not even begin to address some real problems inherent in our courts across Ontario: problems of shortage of courtroom space, problems of shortage of judges, problems of court dockets. We heard only recently of a Brampton judge who had some 20 hours of trial scheduled for a seven- or eight-hour court day. These are impossible burdens placed on our provincial judges who hear the bulk of our criminal matters. Yet, these problems of understaffing, shortage of judges, lack of courtroom space, are they addressed in court reform packages? No.
It seems pretty brazen to even call this material a courtroom reform; putting some new labels on it and shifting some people around. We are left with the same number of judges and the same number of courtrooms and we are left with the realization that nothing about this package is going to speed up the time that litigants can get into court either in civil or criminal matters.
Nothing about this package is going to diminish the number of criminals who are being let out on the street because this government is not interested in providing a structure or a system in which they can be tried speedily. There is nothing in the legislation that talks about real reform, that talks about making sure the face of the provincial bench accurately represents the community that it is working in. There is nothing in this so-called reform that will constitute real reform, ensuring that more women are sitting on the bench, ensuring that more nonwhite Anglo-Saxon Protestants are sitting on the bench or ensuring that the bench was diverse and represented a real cross-section of the community.
It will not admit it, but this government went through a real little crisis when it came time to break its commitment, its promise to the provincial judges of Ontario. That is to say, the Attorney General had written a letter agreeing that the government would be bound by the recommendations made to the government as to something that should be as simple as provincial judges’ salaries.
The government screwed that up. That was such a simple, straightforward sort of thing. The promise was easily read. It was in straightforward, plain English and the government screwed that up. The government delayed the process for --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Order. I simply want to draw to the attention of the House that in this House traditionally debate on third reading is somewhat limited. There is nothing in the standing orders which actually limits it. I will soon be seeking some guidance from the House.
I simply want to remind the member that the chair has no intention of intruding on the debate here, but we are on the verge of kind of establishing, by means of precedent, a new way to treat third-reading debate. If the member has had an opportunity to speak at some length on the matter, I would hope that perhaps he would be near the conclusion of his remarks.
I simply want to draw that to the attention of the members here. If the member is near the conclusion of his remarks, we do not have a problem, but I would remind all members that the tradition of the House is that this debate on third reading is not a repeat of the debate on second reading, and is somewhat different in nature.
If we can conclude this debate this afternoon in that manner, you would assist the chair greatly. If you do not, then I am afraid the chair will have to give this some consideration and make a ruling. I am reluctant to do that, and if the member is near the conclusion of his remarks, that will resolve our problem.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have noticed, through the deliberations, and I have watched very, very closely the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) and I quite appreciate, more than the dedication, I think his strict adherence to what is civil, what is decorum and what are good manners. It may not border on the proverbial. He is very much aware of convention and tradition on third reading.
But for those members who have not had a chance to benefit from legislation being broadly summarized, he is about to conclude his remarks and important things are being said here. It is an important piece of legislation. Its ramifications are important and will affect a great many people. Perhaps more important is that our institutions will only benefit from the contribution, the highlights that our friend from Welland-Thorold is gracing and blessing this House with.
The Acting Speaker: I am not quite certain that was a point of order, but I would take the opportunity to comment briefly on the gracings and blessings we have had. The chair is not really impressed with the biblical nature of his remarks to date. I do not think anything is out of order, although that has been raised, I note, by a number of members; it is getting very close.
If you are looking over the edge, be careful. A good wind will put you where you do not want to be. If the member could conclude his remarks now, that would assist us.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I value your comments and your guidance. Of course, I agree entirely with my good friend the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot). I should tell you, though, Mr Speaker -- and I understand your comments; they are accurate -- it was only yesterday I was reading reference material that indicated that usually on third reading one does not engage in debate unless the legislation is thoroughly unacceptable, inappropriate, bad, indeed perhaps dangerous to the community as a whole.
In those rare circumstances when legislation would constitute a grave error, a serious error on the part of the government, in those circumstances where the fate of so many people will be ill-served by such disgustingly bad legislation, then one does engage in some modest debate on third reading, which is why I am doing it now.
We are voting against Bill 2. I appreciate that some people may find my comments uncomfortable. It really is a matter of whose ox is being gored. I do not expect them to particularly enjoy all that I have to say, but again I appreciate the caution that you have asked me to exercise in that regard, Mr Speaker.
We will be opposing Bill 2. It is a horrid, ill-conceived, stupid sort of thing to do at this point in time. It is dangerous. People have commented on it whose opinion should be held in high regard by members of this House. People like Chief Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada have suggested that this is not the right thing to do at this particular point in time. District court judges and Supreme Court judges have been critical of this legislation. They have caused us to plead with the government that it consider a reference to the Court of Appeal to test the constitutionality so that folk will not be hurt down the road when they are litigants, perhaps unwilling litigants, in major constitutional litigation.
I am hoping that enough government members will read the legislation to realize how inappropriate it is and either absent themselves from the chamber during the vote or indeed show fortitude and courage and vote against it. Their names will certainly be recorded and reflected upon with admiration and thanks by people down the road.
That concludes my brief comments on this matter. The comment about wind pushing me over the edge makes me think of that little tale about, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff till I’ll blow your house down,” but that is not what the Speaker was cautioning me about, was it, Mr Speaker?
Miss Martel: Just to prolong the agony here this afternoon, I want to commend my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold who, of course, has enlivened and enlightened all the members of this chamber this afternoon.
I want to say, though, in all seriousness, his knowledge of the criminal court system cannot be denied, nor can it be ignored. I will not refer to some of his various escapades in that particular jurisdiction. They are well known to members of this House, thanks to the wonderful investigative reporting of the Toronto Star in this province.
Let me say in a more serious vein, though, in terms of some of the comments he made around consultation, if I might. I do know that there was a problem on that committee and there were some concerns that people who were very much aware of circumstances in the court system and how it would affect this province should have been given the opportunity to be heard. They asked for a couple of weeks. I think it would have been incumbent upon this government to actually have allowed them to have their say. My colleague has spent a great deal of time talking about Bill 162, which was a classic example in that regard.
In any event, we will not be supporting this legislation, as my colleague has already intimated here this afternoon. I appreciate the comments that he made and put on record concerning our opposition to this particular piece of legislation.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Welland-Thorold is going to get his two minutes to respond anyway, so I figured I might as well get up and ask him one question. I will be talking about the consultation process, the constitutionality and certain other comments that come up in third reading debate in my wrapup response, but I ask him one question. He indicated that the district court judges are against this legislation. I would like to know where he got that information, because my understanding is that the district court judges want speedy passage of this legislation.
Mr Kormos: The ones I have talked to feel that it is risky, it is dangerous, and have asked me to ensure that we do everything we can to avoid this homogenization of courts. Oh, I know the government is dangling Supreme Court status in front of district court judges, and they are not entirely antipathetic to the prospect of wearing the same colours as Supreme Court judges, but the smart district court judges are saying that caution is the order of the day. It is a caution that has been ignored by the government.
Sure, there will be an opportunity to question the parliamentary assistant. The real question is a letter Chief Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada wrote to the Attorney General. The Attorney General did not share it with us; he sat on that; he kept that one in its envelope. The parliamentary assistant did not share it with us either. Rather, they had to be confronted with it during the course of question period. It is a letter dated 28 September, long after any amendments were made to this bill by the government, and it had a tone of grave caution inherent in it, an ominous tone of grave caution.
I can see the parliamentary assistant ignoring provincial judges, district court judges and maybe even the occasional Supreme Court judge, but my goodness, to ignore the Supreme Court of Canada and the Chief Justice of that Supreme Court is pretty brazen, I must say.
Mr Sterling: I rise in support of many of the comments made by the member for Welland-Thorold with regard to the process that has been undertaken in this bill.
I would like to say first of all that I am chagrined that the Attorney General would have the bills called while he is away discussing the demise of the Meech Lake accord in Ottawa. I only hope that his ability to deal with the issues relating to the Meech Lake accord is much better than his ability to deal with the judiciary and the bench with regard to Bills 2 and 3.
Bills 2 and 3 are very, very important pieces of legislation. They try to address a situation which we have in Ontario, where we have a number of levels of courts which can hear different kinds of matters depending on the monetary value of a civil suit, depending upon how serious a crime is alleged to have been committed. Therefore, there is, I think, a significant confusion in the public’s mind as to what “district court” means, what “family court” means, what “provincial court (criminal division)” means, what “Small Claims Court” means, what the “Court of Appeal” means, what “Divisional Court” means, what “Federal Court” means, what “Supreme Court of Canada” means and what the “Court of Appeal for Ontario” means.
We have all of those kinds of courts in our system today and quite frankly it gets confusing for a member of the public to try to understand what in fact all these courts mean or do, and I think it is an unnecessary division. That is why on the second reading of both Bills 2 and 3 our party heartily supported the concept contained in these bills as a stepping stone to a more simplified system across our province.
Some two years ago, Mr Justice Zuber was asked by the provincial government to investigate about the number of courts we have and suggest some significant reform. He came back with that report, actually two years ago. He was asked some time prior to that to prepare the report. It took the Attorney General some 18 months from the time he received Mr Justice Zuber’s report to the date on which he brought forward legislation in this House for first reading. That was back in May of this year. As early as July of this year, the bill had received second reading and I indicated that our party -- actually all parties in this House supported it at that stage.
When we got to the standing committee on the administration of justice of this Legislature in early July and were dealing with this legislation, we had several groups that appeared in front of us, including the Advocates’ Society and the Canadian Bar Association. There were a number of other groups as well. The message came clearly to the committee that there had not been adequate time between the 1 May date and the 1, 2, 3 or 4 July date, whatever it was, for them to take this legislation, discuss it among their members and critically assess that legislation.
The committee heard four, five, six or seven briefs in regard to Bills 2 and 3, and that was the general thrust of the briefs that we had received. As members may remember, we rose in, I think, the third or fourth week in July, and shortly thereafter the justice committee reconvened once again. At that time, we decided that we would deal with the clause-by-clause of that bill. That was over the objections of both the opposition parties.
Both opposition parties had taken heed of the warnings that had been issued to us by these very august groups, the Canadian Bar Association, the Advocates’ Society and other groups that are going to be intimately involved with the nuts and bolts of this kind of legislation. The opposition parties had wanted to postpone the clause-by-clause reading of that bill and dealing with amendments to that bill until October, maybe the first week we reconvened this Legislature, so that we would have an opportunity to allow groups that might have wanted to come in front of that committee another two and a half months to mull over this legislation, put it together and suggest to the government amendments which might be needed to the bill.
Our suggestion was rejected at the committee at that time. They decided to go ahead with the clause-by-clause analysis of that bill. Quite frankly, we were not prepared at that time to go ahead with the clause-by-clause reading of that bill. In the meantime, and to show in a very graphic way how vulnerable this bill is to error, between 1 May and 1 August, some 90 days later, the government found 44 mistakes that it had made in Bills 2 and 3. The government introduced, in our hearings in early August, 35 amendments to Bill 2 and nine amendments to Bill 3. I could be out by one or two on those counts; that is a rough count of the number of amendments.
But it does show that both Bills 2 and 3 are extremely technical in nature. They require a lot of study, they require a lot of research by people who understand how the legislation relates to how the court system is run. These 44 amendments were carried in approximately 15 minutes before the committee. That is partially because the opposition parties had not had adequate opportunity to prepare for those hearings. Therefore, debate would be basically by the seat of our pants and we would not have the opportunity to really deal in detail with the amendments proposed by the government to both Bills 2 and 3 at that time.
As members know, both opposition parties are not heavy in numbers overall and each and every one of us, including myself, has a number of critic portfolios to take care of. Notwithstanding the fact that even though the government wants the opposition to react very quickly to amendments and it wants us to march to its tune all the time, nearly every member of the opposition has two critic portfolios to deal with. I guess to add insult to injury, the Attorney General has graced us with his presence during all these hearings for a total of only about two hours; I am including the second reading debate, the committee on two different occasions, committee of the whole House and now on third reading.
I am not in any way challenging the ability of either the former parliamentary assistant or the present parliamentary assistant to deal with this legislation. What I am saying, though, as a member of the opposition and the critic to the Attorney General is that if I propose an amendment and I want serious consideration of that done, the parliamentary assistants do not normally have the authority to change the legislation on the spot. Only the minister himself has that authority to do so. We have agreed in the past that if in fact the minister is sick for some reason, as was the case with the member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara) when we dealt with another piece of legislation I was involved in in the late part of July, you have to accept the parliamentary assistant under those circumstances.
We also agree that when there are bills that do not have the same import, impact and importance that Bills 2 and 3 have, perhaps the parliamentary assistant can fill the bill at that time. However, I find that in the case of these two bills, because of their very important nature, the Attorney General is doing a disservice to the legislative process by being absent so often during the debates on these two pieces of legislation.
Members might say to me or the opposition members, “Well, he’s off in Ottawa dealing with the very important Meech Lake accord.” When I heard that news, I offered that we should consider the debate on these bills next week when he can be here. In other words, I am willing to alter my schedule in order to accommodate the Attorney General to some degree --
Mr Fleet: You’re all heart.
Mr Sterling: The member says that I am all heart. He may find it humorous. I do not find it humorous. My duty in this legislation I take as important, I take it in a serious manner and I think my record shows that. I think the Attorney General owes the same respect for this legislative body as does --
The Acting Speaker: A point of order, the member for High Park-Swansea.
Mr Fleet: The point of order concerns the ongoing references to the absence of a member of the House which I understand, certainly from previous rulings as well as the reference in Beauchesne, are not appropriate. I would not normally object to it, but the member has just started to go on about what the duty of the Attorney General is. I think he is fulfilling his duties. We have certainly heard the member’s point. My point of order is simply that he is using unparliamentary descriptions at this point in time.
Mr Sterling: In response to that point of order, I would only say that the interest of the Attorney General is not only there, but there are very few Liberals here. Is there a quorum present at the time?
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr Sterling: As I was saying, in early August when the standing committee on administration of justice met, we dealt with a number of -- may I say before I continue that I understand the member for Etobicoke West (Mrs LeBourdais) is going to participate in the budget debate and that her mother, Mrs Day, is watching television this afternoon. I want to tell Mrs Day that I do not intend to take all the afternoon and that she will be able to see her daughter later, at any rate, as long as I am not interrupted by useless points of order.
I want to say that because of the method in which the Attorney General gave instructions to his parliamentary assistant to carry on during the justice committee, it was necessary when this bill was returned here for us to demand that it go back to the committee of the whole House process. We went through that process last Wednesday and Thursday and there was considerable debate in this Legislature on the bill. I put forward at that time some 15 amendments, and I know you were involved, Mr Speaker, in that debate as the Chair of the committee of the whole House. I put forward 15 amendments or so with regard to Bills 2 and 3. Three or four of those of a minor nature were accepted.
There still remains, though, serious questions about this reform. I do think it is important to point out that this government rejected an amendment put forward by our party, by myself, to increase the Small Claims Court jurisdiction from $1,000 to $3,000 in all of the other parts of the province, to bring it up to par with Toronto. Toronto is favoured at the present time with a $3,000 limit in terms of bringing a court action in the Small Claims Court. You can do that in no other area. In eastern Ontario, Durham, western Ontario, the Niagara area and northern Ontario, you can only bring a claim in the Small Claims Court of up to $1,000. We put forward that amendment and we were supported by the New Democratic Party in that amendment to raise it to $3,000 to make it equal for every other part of the province. That was not accepted by the government.
We were talking about court reform. Let’s at least get what is there now on a uniform basis across the province. They also rejected my amendment for a Unified Family Court to be implemented across this province. As members know, there is one Unified Family Court in all of the province of Ontario and that is in the Hamilton-Wentworth area. It has been a pilot project for almost a decade at this time and it is now time for the Unified Family Court concept to be adopted in all other parts of the province.
We have a different way of administering justice in Toronto with regard to the Small Claims Court and in Hamilton-Wentworth with regard to family court and the other associated matters with family court. So those two major recommendations which our party stood for and which were supported by the New Democratic Party were rejected by the government. I think that perhaps if the Attorney General had been sitting there he might have had the option of saying: “Yes, maybe we should listen to what the Legislature is saying, what amendments they are putting forward. Maybe we can accept at least one of the suggestions for substantial amendment to Bills 2 and 3.” And those were the two that I would have liked to have seen this government accept.
The other matter that I would like to raise is the whole matter of the letter which the Attorney General received from the Canadian Judicial Council signed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Honourable Brian Dickson.
His letter to the Attorney General was shared with me and given to me by the parliamentary assistant after I discovered that this letter was in existence, because the Leader of the Opposition received a copy of the letter. It is important that we look to sections 92 and 92b of Bill 2, because they are very, very important sections, and I want to make it clear that our party put forward amendments which would have met the objections of the Canadian Judicial Council in total.
Sections 92 and 92b establish a provincial committee and a regional committee in each of the eight different regions of our province. Those committees are made up, in the case of the province, of 16 individuals. But the problem is is that only four of those individuals are members of the bench. In the case of the regional committees, there are 12 members on those committees and only four of them are from the bench, or judges.
Now, the problem is what these committees do. In the original legislation, they were called the management committees. Under the legislation, because of an amendment which was accepted that I put forward, they are now called management advisory committees. That is a little bit better than calling them management committees because the concern of the judiciary is what function these committees actually have. Do they run the courts, or do the judges run the courts? If, in fact, there are 16 people who are sitting on the provincial management advisory committee, and there is a vote that votes against what the judges of that committee would like, what happens when they go to implement what the management advisory committee has said? I mean, what is the sense of having a committee if, in fact, they do not come to a conclusion which, in fact, will take place in implementing and running the courts of our province?
Anyway, I think it is important to point out in this third reading debate that our amendments, which would have given an equal number of judges and other people on the committee, both at the provincial level and at the regional level, which were supported by the New Democratic Party, were rejected by this government.
Our amendment which would have ensured that the chairman of the committee at the provincial level and in each of the eight regions would be a judge was rejected by the government. Therefore, we are in a situation, which I think is unnecessary, where there could be a dispute between the management advisory committee, which is made up in a minority sense by judges and in a majority sense by the bar, representatives of the Law Society of Upper Canada, representatives of the lay people, or people who are not lawyers or involved. So, I just wanted to put that on the record as well.
We have heard over a period of time concerns about the constitutionality of this bill. I believe my friend, the member for Welland-Thorold, has gone through those arguments in sufficient detail and at sufficient length, and I will not repeat them. But they are of great concern to us, because, in particular with regard to Bill 2 and Bill 3, they deal with the jurisdiction of our various courts across our province.
You know, Mr Speaker, as a member of the bar, a lawyer, a practising lawyer, that if, in fact, you have difficulty with the merits of a case, if you have a problem in defending your client, if his case is weak, be it in the civil court or in the criminal court, a favourite attack that is undertaken by the bar is to go to the jurisdiction of the court. We hope that there are no mistakes in Bill 2 and Bill 3. We hope that it is constitutional, but we are alarmed that the Attorney General has not taken the advice of some of the very sharpest and keenest legal minds in our province who have said there is a real potential problem with the constitutionality of this bill. There is a real problem with maintaining the independence of the judiciary independent from external forces as contained in these management advisory committees.
We are also concerned with the undue haste that was taken, particularly between May and August, in dealing with this bill. We have felt that it was unfeeling, unreceptive to a number of groups who wanted to help, who wanted to put forward a better piece of legislation. We do not feel that we in the opposition were given enough time to consult with these groups and to argue in a reasonable and better manner than perhaps we have in bringing forward useful suggestions for amending this legislation.
As I mentioned before, that is evident so clearly in these bills, that 44 amendments were put forward by the government themselves with regard to a piece of legislation that was basically still hot off the press. That leads me to the suspicion that there are probably a number of amendments that have not been dealt with because there has not been any experience, we have not drawn on that experience which was being freely offered -- not with a price tag -- to this government and to this Legislative Assembly to come forward with a better bill.
When we are talking about bills like this, we are not talking about a bill which will have a great deal of political profile. We are talking about a piece of legislation which is as important to me as a member of the opposition as it is to them, the government, or the members of the New Democratic Party. We all want the best possible piece of legislation. We want the rules clear to the people of Ontario as to how our courts should be run. We want the rules clear as to who is to do what, and we want to maintain the independence of the judiciary. We think that all the i’s have not been dotted. We think that all the t’s have not been crossed. And therefore we have some real apprehension about Bills 2 and 3 going forward in their present form.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): We are continuing the debate on the motion for third reading of Bills 2 and 3. Are there any questions and responses? Are there any further speakers? I somehow doubt it. Parliamentary assistant?
Mr Polsinelli: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to this debate.
It seems to me that the first people to criticize the government or the governing party for inaction and delay and the length of time that it takes them to do things are the opposition members. And rightly so. When the government does not move, when the government does not take action, that is what the opposition is here for, is to criticize the government. It seems to be a little bit strange, however, that when things go a little bit faster than normal, that when things proceed perhaps the way they should be proceeding in all cases, that the first people to criticize the government, the first people to say that the i’s have not been dotted and the t’s have not been crossed, are the opposition members. To everyone’s surprise it is the opposition getting up and saying: “You are moving too fast. You did not give us enough time to consult. You have not dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.”
That seems to me very strange, but I guess I understand that is also part of the political process because the opposition members are here to criticize, and it does not matter whether you do something quickly, whether you do it slowly, whether you do it the right way or whether you do it the wrong way. It is their job to criticize, and they are doing a good job at it.
What I would like to do is go through a number of the points that they have made, particularly the necessity, I guess, to have this piece of legislation pass rather quickly.
As members of the House will know, Bills 2 and 3 are a result of an announcement made by the Attorney General on 1 May talking about a unification of the court system. These bills, Bill 2 and Bill 3, represent the first step in the unification process and deal with the structure of the courts in Ontario. The administration of justice in this province is a dual responsibility shared by both the provincial and the federal government, and to no one’s surprise, for this type of legislation, once it has received provincial assent, once it is law in this province, we require some corresponding legislation to take place in Ottawa.
We also require a certain amount of time to bring the whole judicial system into gear to adapt to the system. Accordingly, we would like to get at least the structure into place as law in this province as quickly as possible.
Now, we talk about the consultation process; and much has been made about the lack of consultation by the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling). We should know that what happened is that this process began three years ago with the appointment of Mr Justice Zuber to look into the court system and the court structure in Ontario. His report was presented to the Attorney General in July 1987, and the Attorney General, in the fall and the winter of 1987 and 1988, has twice consulted on the recommendations in the Zuber report.
One of the other things that he did was to appoint a court reform task force that in the period of two or three months in 1988 had 22 meetings across the province of Ontario; 22 meetings with all the interested groups -- the bar, the county and regional district associations, the judges, everybody who had anything to do with the judicial system in this province -- and they reported to the Attorney General. That was a committee that was made. I think it is important to note the composition of the court reform task force because it included five crown attorneys, four of them had court experience in the last 12 months; two civil lawyers, one fresh from private practice; one lawyer from the legal aid system; two policy lawyers and one court administrator. They had meetings in six centres around Ontario. They met with the representatives of the County and District Law Presidents’ Association, they met with the Canadian Bar Association, they met with the Advocates’ Society, they met with the Criminal Lawyers Association and also consumer and business groups.
The bill, as is before this House today or as is amended by committee, was presented to this House on 1 May 1989. Eleven weeks after first reading of the bill, it was brought into committee and committee had its deliberations. Everyone who wanted to be heard by the committee was heard. I should point out that there was no time-allocation motion by the government. We went through the normal process. When the committee reported the bill, we dealt with it in this House.
In terms of the constitutionality, I think it would be interesting to synopsize perhaps what the constitutional debate revolved around. It revolved around the issue of the Small Claims Court judges sitting with the judges of the new General Division, which would normally be the judges appointed by the federal government under section 96 of the Constitution Act; and the argument went something like this. It said: The judges sitting in the General Division are section 96 judges, therefore they have the responsibility that is afforded the federal appointees; a responsibility and a jurisdiction that is not exercised by the provincial court judges. Therefore, if a provincial appointee is sitting in the federal aspect of this Ontario court, there is a constitutional problem because what you are trying to do is you are trying to make provincial appointees members of the section 96 club, so to speak.
We listened to those concerns and we thought that perhaps there was a point there, and what we did was to amend two sections of this act -- sections 21 and 23 -- which did not make the provincial court judges, civil division, that is, the Small Claims Court judges members of the General Division of the Ontario court. If they are not members, then you have eliminated the section 96 problem, the constitutional problem.
What we also did, though, was to allow them to sit in that division for a limited purpose and that purpose is to hear the Small Claims Court’s applications. Our constitutional advisers -- the provincial ones and the federal constitutional advisers -- have now advised us, have now told us, that there is no constitutional problem before us with respect to that.
The member for Carleton made some comments about the Attorney General not being here. I hasten to remind him that when the legislation went through that established the Unified Family Court in Hamilton, a court, by the way. that is firmly implanted as government policy, one that we support, that legislation was handled very well by the then Attorney General’s parliamentary assistant, who happened to be the member for Carleton. I compliment him on that type of work.
Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it only prudent to point out to the parliamentary assistant that the Attorney General was on his back. As the member can recall, he had a very bad back at that time. He was in the hospital part of the time and therefore it was necessary for me to carry the legislation.
Mr Polsinelli: It comes as no surprise that the member for Carleton would be standing on that point of order, as we have discussed on a number of occasions through this debate the fact that he handled, as parliamentary assistant, the Unified Family Court jurisdiction as it went through this House.
I must add a number of comments, one dealing with the management advisory committee. That is what it is. It is an advisory committee and it does not have the authority to tell the judges what to do. One of the cornerstones of this bill is that the administration of justice in this province is a partnership between four equal and independent partners. Those partners are the bench, the judges; the bar, the practising lawyers in Ontario; the Attorney General, which encompasses also the crown attorneys; the public. They are four equal and independent partners. The administration of justice, for it to function smoothly, must have the co-operation and collaboration of those four equal and independent partners.
The management advisory committee and the representation on that management advisory committee essentially represents the cornerstone of the bill, that partnership aspect. To have accepted the member for Carleton’s amendments would have skewered that partnership, would have skewered that principle of there being four equal and independent partners.
I must say that overall this bill is a good bill. It is good news. It is a good news bill. It is a bill that not only simplifies the structure of the courts in Ontario, but gives the government the power to increase the jurisdiction of the small claims court to $5,000 throughout the province of Ontario. The injustice of members outside of Metropolitan Toronto trying to access the civil system if their claims were $2,000 or $3,000, compared to those of Metro Toronto was just something this government wanted to move on as quickly as it possibly could.
That is one of the things we have done, because we have a commitment from the Attorney General that in 1990, next year, as soon as we can bring the staffing of the small claims court outside Metropolitan Toronto up to par, then the regulation will be passed increasing the jurisdiction to $5,000. That is tremendous news for the people of the province outside Metropolitan Toronto. It is also news for the people in Metropolitan Toronto because their jurisdiction goes from $3,000 to $5,000.
On that note, I would like to ask the support of all members of this House in ensuring that this bill gets speedy passage and that the total court reform package is taken into consideration when the respective pieces of this legislation come forward, because I am sure there is a general consensus that this is good for Ontario. It has the support of the district court judges. It does have the support of the county and district law associations. They would like to see passage of this bill as quickly as possible and so would we.
The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, by prior agreement, the vote will be deferred until 5:45 pm on Tuesday next.
The Acting Speaker: It is my understanding that there is unanimous consent to postpone the vote until Tuesday at 5:45.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It should he noted, however, that a division is in order at 5:45 on the coming Tuesday.
The Acting Speaker : That is correct. That is agreed to.
COURT REFORM STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved third reading of Bill 3, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Does the parliamentary assistant have any comments? Is there any discussion on Bill 3? Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, by prior agreement, the vote on this bill will take place at 5:45 pm on Tuesday.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Once again, I am trusting that the Speaker is going to note that a division would be in order with respect to Bill 3 on Tuesday as well.
The Acting Speaker: By unanimous consent, a division will take place on Tuesday at 5:45.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mrs LeBourdais: Although it seems perhaps a little tardy, being some months since the budget was initially tabled, I am delighted to rise to speak to it today.
The issue of responsible government in this province evolved in the 19th century as a necessary response to the demands and needs of the citizens of Ontario. All governments in Canada now hold to the principle of responsible government, which dictates that the executive council must maintain the confidence of a majority of the members of this Legislature. This is as it should be and must be in order to have a system of parliamentary government function effectively. However, responsible government can be referred to in another sense, that being a government that functions effectively and prudently in regard to fiscal matters.
The budget of Ontario’s Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) represents an example of how a responsible government should conduct itself. Ontario can be proud of its budget and the Treasurer who has offered it. The obvious highlights are the reduction of the budgetary deficit to $577 million, which represents a decrease of $911 million for the 1989-90 period from $1.5 billion.
The largest operating surplus in the province’s history has been achieved and this $2.6-billion surplus has been complemented by a reasonable and responsible spending increase of 6.7 per cent for 1989-90.
The bedrock of this budget is the Treasurer’s pay-as-you-go philosophy. Revenues had to be raised to meet the growing needs of the people of Ontario. The soundness and responsibility of the pay-as-you-go philosophy has allowed and will continue to allow our government to fund vital programs that will improve the quality of life in Ontario.
This budget begins the process of fleshing out the initiatives that were outlined in the throne speech in April of this year. Aspects of this budget will have a direct and in many ways a positive effect on my constituents of Etobicoke West. Therefore, it is as their representative that I rise to contribute to this debate.
I can only imagine the discussion that necessarily took place between the Treasurer’s heart and his head as he pondered how to weave his way equitably through the labyrinth of demands that any government faces, but his success has been obvious.
In the area of health care, it has been an oft-repeated fact that in the past decade health care costs have increased nearly 65 per cent while the Ontario economy has expanded by less than 43 per cent. Moreover, 10 years ago, 25 per cent of all Ontario revenue went towards health care compared with today’s figure of 33 per cent of all revenue being devoted to this one single area. This increase demonstrates our government’s commitment to health care.
Most notably, this budget fulfils the commitment made by the government when it took office in 1985 to abolish regressive OHIP premiums. This is an act that was also recommended by the Social Assistance Review committee and it is in keeping with the need of providing further accessibility to affordable and appropriate health services, all of which was a stated goal of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy.
This action will result in savings of $1 billion to individual Ontarians, and in many cases the people who will be affected by this are the people who need this help the most. They are Ontario’s working poor. Although this government has chosen to honour its pledge of abolition of premiums, the notion of responsible government has not been abandoned, in order that this $1-billion saving can be provided to those Ontarians who are still carrying the burden of paying all or part of their OHIP premiums.
While the Treasurer’s heart has dictated that he give, his head demanded that he generate revenue to finance not only the $1-billion saving, but indeed the entire new $13.9-billion health care budget in order that future generations will not be penalized because of contemporary financial imprudence.
The Treasurer recognized that business in Ontario will have to make a greater contribution to the health care system at large. Accordingly, the 1.95 per cent employer health levy has been introduced. Smaller businesses will only pay half of the 1.95 per cent in keeping with the effort to achieve as much fairness as possible within the boundaries of being fiscally responsible.
While speaking of fiscal responsibility, it should also be stated that while having $1 of every $3 go to health care is laudable as an indication of this government’s desire to ensure that Ontarians get the health care system they need, it is simply not practical. A stemming of this steady increase must be effected. Consumers of health care have to be educated to use the system more effectively and more efficiently. An educated health care consumer will contribute to a more cost-effective system, but this cannot mean a system that is less caring or less competent.
Some of the necessary changes that are to be made will be achieved by the strengthening of community-based health care. Community-based health care will be an important aspect of the government’s new health care strategy. Many minor medical procedures can be performed in a doctor’s office without the necessity of incurring the cost of a major medical institution. This demonstrates that a community setting can be utilized to provide effective and convenient health care services at a reduced cost.
To facilitate the implementation of these initiatives, the budget provides for $1.3 billion to fund community and personal health programs. All of these factors indicate that our government is committed to the goal of controlling the cost of health care while not reducing the accessibility, convenience, competence or quality of the system we have established.
Another serious concern of mine that has been addressed in the budget is the issue of substance abuse. This government must, and as we have seen will be playing a leading and proactive role in the attempt to provide Ontario communities with an environment that will hopefully one day be free of the cancer of drug abuse and what it represents to our society.
All types of substance abuse manifest them-selves as a drain on the entire productivity of our society. This also has a potentially destructive effect on the ties of unity that bind families together. These elements all too often lead to a decreased quality of life for all the members of our community.
In response to this problem our government launched the one-man task force headed by the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black). His report identified the extent to which illegal drugs have affected the lives of the people of all of this province. These efforts led to the establishment of a program of mandatory drug education in our schools and most recently to the establishment of the Mayor’s Task Force on Drugs for the City of Etobicoke.
Alcohol and drug abuse is an area in which I have remained particularly concerned since becoming a member of this Legislature. Last November, during Drug Awareness Week, I devoted my householder, Dialogue on Drugs, to this issue and included a questionnaire inquiring about the level of concern over the issue of drugs. The response from constituents was overwhelming, indicating a high level of concern regarding this problem as well as a need to continue the battle.
The past budget turned the promise from the throne speech to introduce antidrug programs into concrete action. I am very proud to state that $43 million has been allotted by the Treasurer for alcohol and drug dependency programs. This 17.8 per cent increase is representative of the depth of the commitment of our government towards the menace in our society.
Education is also an area close to my constituents’ hearts, and I remain impressed with the level of parental interest in education. Recent allocations of capital for school funding mean that the government’s commitment has increased nearly eightfold since 1984. A 6.1 per cent increase in operating funds will bring funding for Ontario elementary and secondary schools up to $4.1 billion in 1989.
Elementary schools will be charged with developing the basic learning and social skills of our young children. Our secondary schools must train students to become effective, responsible participants in the workforce and provide them with the necessary knowledge to prepare for postsecondary education.
It should be stated at this juncture that the Treasurer had the option of bringing in a balanced budget. However, he recognized that he had greater priorities. Accordingly, money has been preflowed to municipalities, much of it to be spent on schools, so they could spend now and not have to wait for future allocations.
Accordingly, this government will be committing $1.2 billion over four years for school construction and renovation; $60 million in capital funding for technology education will also be spent. These funds clearly indicate the government’s recognition of the demand in our society for increased computer literacy for our children so that they can function effectively in tomorrow s society.
In addition, parents will be provided with the option of exposing their children to the benefits of education at an earlier age. Half-day junior kindergarten for four-year-olds and half-day senior kindergarten for five-year-olds will be made available by all school boards with the long-term goal of making these opportunities available on a full-time basis.
This budget takes the first step towards turning these promises into reality by providing up to $194 million over five years in annual operating grants and a total of $100 million for capital projects.
The Premier (Mr Peterson) has noted that in addition to the obvious educational advantage of the new kindergarten system, it would also potentially solve about 20 per cent of existing child care problems, a situation that is critical in Etobicoke.
Such concerns will be of increasing importance due to the erosion of federal commitment to national shared cost programs announced in the recent federal budget. As the Treasurer has indicated in the past, Ontario’s losses as a result of recent federal cuts when taken together with previous federal reductions will be in excess of $1 billion in financing entitlement in this fiscal year alone.
Decreases in federal spending to existing programs will be matched in the area of proposed new federal spending initiatives. Among the hardest hit will be child care. The federal Progressive Conservative government has deferred the Canada Child Care Act. This means that proposed federal child care funding of $6.4 billion has now been reduced by $4 billion, a 62.5 per cent reduction. This move bitterly disappoints many who are in a desperate need of such services.
While this alteration in federal activity puts some provincial initiatives at risk, our government has acted to fully honour its agenda. In keeping with this government’s June 1987 strategy entitled New Directions for Child Care, spending in 1989-90 will be $359.7 million, a 305 per cent increase since 1984-85. Therefore, despite federal deferrals, Ontario is acting to implement the New Directions program with all the fiscal resources it can legitimately spare.
Governments at all levels must continue to give this issue the attention it deserves, because child care is not just a woman’s issue; it touches on education, employment, finance and even health. With 12 per cent of my constituents leading one-parent households, I can assure members there is a substantial level of government concern over child care among my constituents. I personally am very appreciative that the Treasurer’s heart has been heard on this issue of great importance not only to myself but to my constituents as well.
The budget has also outlined initiatives that represent a continued effort to build on this province’s economic strengths. These actions will be welcomed by the businessmen and businesswomen of my riding. I stand before this House as a proud example of this province’s entrepreneurial spirit, having been the founder of my own public relations firm. Therefore, as a businesswoman active in Etobicoke in the past, I can fully appreciate this government’s efforts to foster and develop an entrepreneurial spirit and to keep Ontario competitive. This is essential to sustainable economic growth.
Further to this, it must be borne in mind that the existence of the free trade agreement will bring to bear upon Ontario businesses ever-increasing competitive pressures from the United States. In answer to this, our government will, through the technology fund, promote new industrial processes and encourage the growth of innovative companies. Efforts will also be made to pursue new markets for the goods and services provided by Ontario-based companies that compete globally. The province intends to share the risk being encountered by emerging threshold firms competing in the global market. All these actions will be welcomed and fully endorsed by the business community in my riding.
Specifically, in Etobicoke our government is giving consideration to a full one third of the funding necessary to complete the world-class aquarium, to be known as the Seaquarium, scheduled to open in 1992 and to be built in Humber Bay Park on the Etobicoke waterfront. The Etobicoke lakefront area, in addition to Seaquarium, is experiencing more than $5 billion in developing projects currently under construction. The Peterson government’s one-third share of the $58.8-million cost of the Seaquarium demonstrates the government’s commitment to enhancing the development of substantial economic growth in Ontario. Seaquarium is expected, over five years, to bring in visitors from the United States and Canada, and that will add more than $40 million to the local and national economies as a result of expenditures connected with this venture.
Ontario is now well into its sixth year of economic expansion and will be able to achieve a sustainable real growth of 2.8 per cent. Job creation last year alone approached the 200,000 mark, and the Ontario economy has been outpacing almost all the nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in economic performance. As a result of the business initiatives contained in this budget, it is obvious that this government is committed to going the path of effective economic management.
My riding of Etobicoke West is bordered and bisected by major highways including the 401, 427 and the Queen Elizabeth Way. The rapid growth around Metropolitan Toronto has led to an increase in demand for both highways and transit systems. The pressure on the system remains severe and requires still more money than the $2 billion spent in 1988 and 1989. Given these conditions, this government over the next five years will commit an extra $2 billion to highway and transit system capital costs. Accordingly, those who will benefit most from this new investment in infrastructure will be expected to bear the majority of the related costs. These new initiatives will be paid for in a series of measures including a two-cents-a-litre tax on gasoline to be phased in between now and 1990 as well as increased passenger car registration fees. In addition to this, there will be the $1-per-square-foot commercial construction levy.
There are necessary measures to ensure our transportation system can meet the demands being made upon it and also to ensure that we do not incur excessive debt to fund these measures. In order to provide some perspective to the costs attendant to infrastructure building, it should be noted that the minimum cost of an interchange on a major highway is in excess of $60 million. Interchanges built where major highways intersect carry a pricetag of over $100 million on average, and it is estimated that interchanges are required at the rate of one per mile.
To further heighten the drama associated with these costs, it should also be noted that neither the $60 million nor the $100 million figure includes the price of land. The cost is staggering, but the demand is there, and therefore the services must be provided and paid for with today’s tax dollars, not tomorrow’s. The Treasurer’s head has dictated the necessity of raising sufficient revenues to fund these demands.
One of the unfortunate side-effects that result from the building of these transportation services is the amount of air and noise pollution that is generated, particularly in my riding because of our proximity to so many major highways as well as to Pearson International Airport. Notable among the government’s efforts to combat this source of pollution will be the new gas-guzzler tax. Because car emissions are a principal source of pollution and high performance or luxury cars that get low mileage are special offenders, the new tax works to provide revenue from one of the main offenders to a healthy environment.
In addition to this, the environment technologies program will provide grants to private sector firms to conduct research and development into new environmentally sound methods that will help either to decrease the cost or increase the effectiveness of pollution control. Further to this, tax incentives will also be made available to help business achieve cleaner manufacturing processes.
While I certainly have not said it all, I think I have perhaps said enough. In conclusion, I would like to state briefly that this government is committed to ensuring a better quality of life in this province within a framework of sound fiscal responsibility. The initiatives set out in this budget support the reform agenda set by this government under the leadership of the Premier, and I look forward to continue to serve the constituents of Etobicoke West and to contribute with all members to the work of this House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Are there any comments or questions? Further debate?
Mr Daigeler: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Since this is the first opportunity for me to congratulate you on your appointment, I wish to do so. I must say, being a new member, I respect the expertise you have already portrayed in the chair. I look forward to your rulings, which I have noticed to be very objective; I congratulate you on that and hope it bodes well for the future.
When I first prepared the remarks that I am very pleased to give now, I stayed up until about two o’clock in the morning thinking I had to give the speech the next day; that was in June, I think, and it is now November. Perhaps I could have taken a little bit more time and could have had a better sleep in June. But I do think, and I hope you agree, Mr Speaker, that the remarks I prepared then are still worth giving. I did review my notes, and obviously I am prejudiced here, but I feel that what I have to say is worth committing to the record still.
I wish to address five points in particular: first, the usefulness of the budget document itself; second, the priority-setting of the budget preparation process; third, the social assistance re-forms; fourth, the issue of regional development; and finally, the economic agenda for this government.
Let me speak first of all about the budget document that I have in front of me. It does not only have a very nice red trillium on it; I feel that this document is a masterpiece of clear language, powerful presentation and timely content. I recommend its careful study to anyone who is interested in the agenda of this government and what our plans are for the future. For those who are viewing these proceedings, a copy of this document can be obtained from any member of this House or by contacting the Treasury and Ministry of Economics.
The budget document has several sections. It contains the Treasurer’s budget speech. It also has several highly informative background papers. These concise overviews give an in-depth perspective on some very important issues of the day, such as Ontario’s economic outlook, the expenditure profile of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, municipal government finance and a question that is presently being discussed in the House, the question of public sector pensions. All of this material is presented in nontechnical language, easily understood by noneconomists such as myself. It is arranged in a logical and comprehensive fashion and broken up with insightful illustrations and graphics.
In sum, the 1989 budget document is a veritable fountain of information for anyone interested in the current and future direction of this government. As someone who has been personally involved in the preparation of, not government documents but similar documents for the information of the general public, I wish to congratulate the writers of this document for a job very well done.
The second point that I wish to make relates to the priority-setting of the Treasurer’s budget itself. I am proud to confirm that the Treasurer has responded forcefully to the representations which were made to him by my caucus colleagues and by myself. Sometimes the opposition accuses us of not having enough impact or not making our views known to the cabinet and to the Treasurer. I can assure the House that in the case of the budget, the Treasurer did hear from us and he listened.
In this intricate government machinery of Queen’s Park, many, and sometimes extraneous, forces impact on ministry decisions. However, with this budget, as I just indicated, the Treasurer has accepted the advice of his Liberal colleagues, and I am thankful for it. As individual members, we have heard very clearly, certainly in the Ottawa area and in other parts of the province, that transportation must be a renewed priority of our government. The establishment of a $2-billion transportation capital program tackles head-on the problem of deteriorating roads and the need for new transportation links to the growth areas of the province.
Equally important, a good transportation network in all parts of the province will ensure that industries locate in smaller towns, not only in our urban conglomerates. This redistribution of our industrial base should, in turn, help ease some of the population pressures on our metropolitan centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and the Hamilton-Niagara region.
As soon as the Thomson or Social Assistance Review Committee report was presented to the government, members on this side of the House vigorously made representation with the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer), with the Treasurer and with the Premier for a major reform of our social assistance system. I myself wrote around this time last year to the Premier, the Treasurer and the minister at the time, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr Sweeney), indicating my full support for any effort that would break the welfare cycle and help those less fortunate than ourselves. As members know, in his historic 17 May announcement, the Minister of Community and Social Services put in place these very reforms made possible by the financial support of the Treasurer.
The third priority that was identified in the budget and, before it, in the throne speech is the environment. I am glad to say that today we have a renewed sense of responsibility in this province and, indeed, in the world over for the protection of nature. This government continues to show its environmental concern through, among other things, a 40 per cent increase in capital outlays for provincial water and sewage projects. I am glad to say that the Ottawa area, in particular, is benefiting from this program.
The continued commitment to environmental protection has produced an increase of 70 per cent, almost doubling the Ministry of the Environment budget since 1985. This impressive result is a clear reflection of the support my caucus colleagues have shown for environmental initiatives.
Government members have listened to the people of this province. They have, in turn, impressed on the Treasurer the message which they have received. I am proud to say the Treasurer has taken action on our recommendations.
The third point that I wish to address is the Social Assistance Review Committee reform. SARC, for those who are not familiar with it, is the committee on the review of our social assistance system.
The city of Nepean, which I have the honour of representing in this House, together with the member for Ottawa-Rideau (Mrs O’Neill), has a relatively low number of social assistance recipients. Because of this, some people in my riding question this government’s direction on welfare reform. They feel there are too many government handouts, to the detriment of private initiative and self-help. But despite these critical voices from my community, I fully support and applaud the work of the Treasurer and, in particular, of the Minister of Community and Social Services.
With this budget, the government clearly introduced steps that will break the welfare cycle and put people back on their own feet. Indeed, one of the major new programs is called STEP, supports to employment program. The minister has taken the significant new funds allocated to him by the Treasurer and directed them to where they are most needed, one- or two-parent families with children, shelter allowances and transition programs that supplement income from work.
The initiatives announced by the minister make sense as a unified whole. They are not isolated Band-Aids trying to cover emergencies. The minister’s plan is a well-thought-out, long-term, comprehensive strategy to break the poverty cycle. That is why his reforms have been applauded by so many from across the political spectrum, and I was pleased to note that all members in this House from all three parties did applaud the initiatives introduced by the minister.
Much has been accomplished with the Treasurer’s financial commitments and with the minister’s farsighted plans; however, other challenges do remain, and I am confident this government will continue its social reform agenda.
One area for further action identified by, at the time, Judge Thomson, now deputy minister for the provincial government, is a radical reorientation of our disabled support system. Judge Thomson rightfully called for reforms at the federal level, involving all provinces. I invite the minister in this government aggressively to pursue his talks and negotiations in this regard with his federal colleague. Our society prides itself on improved employment opportunities for the disabled and on increased physical access to many buildings. Our efforts on behalf of the disabled must continue to improve their economic fortunes, as well.
The second unresolved challenge is our support for Canada’s native people and how we can assist them in living fulfilled lives in accordance with their own cultural values. I have always been greatly distressed that so many of our native brothers and sisters live in conditions of great poverty and cultural disorientation. I call on the minister and on my colleagues to renew their efforts for a better future for our native people.
The fourth point that I wish to address is regional development. It is the budget’s implicit support for a more decentralized economic development. People in southern Ontario and in the Ottawa-Carleton area have experienced -- I am glad to say this -- tremendous economic growth in recent years. However, with this boom have also come increased transportation, housing, health care, social assistance and school accommodation problems. The mere agglomeration of jobs in one area of the province is a somewhat mixed blessing for our people. Many human costs flow from rapid and unbridled urbanization.
For the last two years, I have had the sometimes questionable privilege of living from Monday to Thursday in the heart of Toronto. I say “questionable” because people around here have few opportunities to break free from the constant environment of cars, commerce and crowds. In the Ottawa area, where I come from, we are fortunate enough to easily benefit from many parks and waterways right in the city. For the most part, we also can escape to the countryside within half an hour’s drive or so, although this luxury is becoming more difficult for many in our region, as well.
As I see it, many of our social problems relate to the excessive concentration of our population and industrial base in a few geographic areas of the province. I applaud, therefore, any initiative that will disperse employment opportunities across the province. Through its emphasis on new transportation links and, may I add, its tax measures as well, this budget sets in motion major economic development shifts. These changes will benefit small and medium-sized cities, hopefully in all parts of our province.
Already, Sears Canada Inc has decided to relocate its catalogue division to Belleville in eastern Ontario. This will bring 1,700 jobs to eastern Ontario and have a major impact on that area. Together with the Goodyear Canada Inc plant in Napanee, these new projects along Highway 401 will go a long way towards revitalizing the economic infrastructure of eastern Ontario, where I have the honour in this House of being from.
My interest, however, is not only an economic one. Sears workers in Belleville and Goodyear workers in Napanee will be able to take advantage of the beautiful recreation opportunities along the Bay of Quinte. They will gain in economic terms because of cheaper living conditions in this region. Perhaps more important, they will gain on a human level, for they will be better able to free themselves from the pressures of work through a more harmonious exchange with nature.
Living in a smaller community also should strengthen their relationship with and reliance on relatives, friends and neighbours and therefore reduce reliance on government. This is what sustainable regional development is all about. I thank the Treasurer for having strengthened this movement through several of his budget measures.
Finally, I wish to address the budget efforts to keep Ontario competitive. Some time ago I spoke with several Toronto business leaders who have international trading experience. They share the interest of the Premier in strengthening the export orientation of our industries. We must aggressively pursue world markets and enter co-operative agreements with offshore companies and countries.
Last October -- that is, October 1988 -- I organized with the Nepean-Kanata Chamber of Commerce a half-day seminar on how to compete in a global economy. The need for strategic partnering was clearly recognized, and for using the marketing and technological strengths of companies in foreign countries. Seminar participants asked for government help for smaller Canadian companies so that they can join together and penetrate foreign markets.
I am pleased that the Treasurer and the Premier continue to recognize these needs through the work of the Premier’s Council on technology. As the Treasurer said in his speech, an additional $10 million will be committed for trade-related initiatives, including targeted marketing assistance and investment promotion, in co-operation with Ontario’s trade offices abroad. Over $132 million will be provided to stimulate research, development and diffusion of new industrial technologies.
Competing in a global economy requires good products, good marketing and, above all, good people. Our initiatives in skills training and especially in post-secondary education ensure we have the talent for innovation and the incentive to create and to compete.
I am particularly proud of the many capital projects that have been approved at numerous universities across the province. I make special mention of Carleton University, since many young people in my riding attend this institution of higher learning. For the first time in 15 years, Carleton University is engaged in significant capital improvements. This includes a new library and a new engineering building which was announced just a few months ago by the then Minister of Colleges and Universities, the member for Fort William (Mrs McLeod).
Members will know that Nepean and Kanata are the home for many of Canada’s leading high-technology firms. The expanded engineering capability at Carleton University strengthens the co-operative efforts between the research and the business community in my area and beyond. It will have a significant, long-term impact on our international competitiveness through the increased training opportunities for our professional engineers.
In conclusion, may I sum up my remarks by saying this 1989 budget is a truly Liberal budget. It allocates funds where needs have been identified and, yes, it raises the revenue for today’s expenditures, rather than shouldering future generations with a heavy deficit.
It is a Liberal budget because of its priorities. It strengthens our economic competitiveness while caring for those who, for one reason or another, have so far missed out on the financial rewards of our time. I wholeheartedly support the government’s motion for budget approval and I look forward to voting for it.
Mr Philip: I was not planning on commenting, but I was provoked to comment. If this is such a great Liberal budget, how come that through the corporate concentration tax the minister is going to put working-class people in the riding of Etobicoke and in Metropolitan Toronto out of work as a result of making the hotels uncompetitive with the United States hotels and with many others in Ontario in obtaining the convention trade?
How does he feel he is helping the working class when the 75 employees of the Park’n Fly in Etobicoke are going to be put out of business as a result of the $775,000 worth of taxes by this special tax that will apply only to the greater Metro Toronto area, on a business that last year showed $76,000 profit? How is he helping the working class with that kind of reactionary taxation, that kind of economic apartheid that chooses a particular geographical area, namely the greater Metro Toronto area, for taxes which are not based on income, which are not based on profitability, but are based only on the fact that they happen to be located in a particular part of Ontario.
I ask him to tell my workers whether or not his government’s is a Liberal budget. If it is a Liberal budget, then there is no difference between the Mulroney government and this Peterson government.
Mr Neumann: I would like to commend the member for his very fine speech on the budget and his recognition of the fine policies of our Treasurer in assisting meeting the priorities of the reform agenda of this government.
I know the member’s enthusiastic speech will be well received in his riding. He has done an excellent job in promoting activities and programs to benefit his constituents. I know he has the good character and foresight and determination to succeed in all that he does. I know this because recently I attended a conference sponsored by the German-Canadian Congress of Canada and there was a historical display there where I discovered that the second person of German descent to ever settle in what is now Canada was a man by the name of Hans Daigeler. That was some hundreds of years ago. In fact, this particular individual participated in the explorations of Radisson and des Groseilliers and we saw his picture sitting in the canoe.
I know that this spirit of exploration and this spirit of always looking for something new was right there in the background of this man, Hans Daigeler. I am sure there must be, somewhere, some connection because I have seen this fine spirit exemplified here in the House today.
Mr Daigeler: I will just take a few moments because I know that some other members would like to talk as well. First of all, I would like to thank the member for Brantford for his remarks and the historical reference. I hope I can give credit to the fine remarks he has made.
I do wish to address the comments by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. If the situation were that dramatic and drastic, I wonder why the mayor of Mississauga is actually in favour of this initiative. I had the opportunity of meeting with her last week and she said, “Yes, there is an additional cost,” which by the way is on a per-spot basis, only $1 a day, and I have great difficulty seeing any kind of business going under for $1 per parking spot per year on this particular new tax initiative.
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The gentleman is misleading the House.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has been here long enough to know that he cannot say that. Withdraw it.
Mr Philip: I withdraw it. It is $1 per foot; maybe the member would get his facts straight.
Mrs Sullivan: Per year.
The Acting Speaker: I do not think we need to make a big deal about this, but you will speak when you are recognized by the Chair. You do the chair some disservice when you treat it in other ways.
Mr Daigeler: If the member had been at the briefing that was given just this afternoon by the ministry, he would have realized that the actual cost -- he is correct -- is approximately $1 per square foot. However, the actual impact of that will be approximately $1.25 a day per parking spot in the greater Toronto area. These were the figures that were given to us by the Ministry of Revenue.
Hon Ms Hart: The bad news is that there was a budget at all. No one of us likes to pay taxes. The not-so-bad news is that the process was more open than it has ever been before.
More than 200 groups met either with the Treasurer or the finance committee in the prebudget consultations. They came from every part of the province and every sector of the economy.
I participated in most of those meetings as the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer and as a member of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. While it was not possible to accede to every request for government funding or government assistance -- the budget of $40 billion would have doubled if we had -- it was evident to me that the government listened to those submissions and took them into account in setting its priorities. Then it funded those priorities in a fiscally responsible, pay-as-you-go way.
I need mention only the Social Assistance Review Committee report. The report struck a chord with thousands of people across the community. Prominent business leaders, churches, social agencies, teachers, students and the media all spoke out in favour of its recommendations. More than 75 deputations advocating its immediate implementation were made to the committee on finance and economic affairs in the prebudget hearings and the committee unanimously commended the report to the Treasurer. As a member of the committee, I am particularly pleased that the Treasurer not only committed $415 million in a full year to social assistance reforms, but he also provided that during their implementation there would be an independent review of their effectiveness.
Members may recall that the Premier asked the Social Assistance Review Committee to go back to the drawing board and to come up with a plan to give our more disadvantaged citizens a leg up in to the world of work. Even after six successive years of strong economic growth and almost full employment in Metro, our social assistance rolls have swelled by an average of 4.6 per cent each year, compared to a population growth of only 1.3 per cent. Those are very worrisome statistics to all of us.
The committee, chaired by Judge Thomson, came back to us with its thoughtful report, Transitions, recommending sweeping changes in our welfare system. It clearly established that most people receiving assistance are the disabled, single mothers and 40 per cent -- fully 220,000 -- are children.
Then it pointed to the roadblocks in the current system that discouraged recipients from getting back out into the workforce. It made the eminently sensible recommendation that incentives should be given for people to work, rather than the opposite. The then Minister of Community and Social Services, now the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney), announced just how that money committed in the budget was to be spent, to the commendation and applause of all three parties in the Legislature.
He targeted children and their families. Their benefits will be enriched. You cannot learn if you are hungry or cold or do not have a regular place to sleep. The aim of the former minister, and more recently the aim of the present Minister of Community and Social Services, is to get people off benefits as soon as possible, before they lose their confidence or their will to work.
To help single moms do that, the Ministry of Community and Social Services will pay for their child care whether or not subsidized spaces are available. It will continue to pay extended health and drug benefits even while they are working until they earn enough to reasonably pay on their own. It will increase their shelter allowance so that they no longer have to resort to food banks to feed their kids. In short, it is this government’s intention to change their welfare cheques to paycheques and to make sure their children have the chance they deserve. We aim to break the poverty cycle, not just ameliorate it.
That is what Judge Thomson wanted, what thousands of Ontarians wanted and I am grateful that the Treasurer made it possible.
Health care: Promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving the quality of our health care was a key objective in the speech from the throne. If we do not thrive physically, we will never thrive economically, so under the guidance of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) we are shifting the emphasis of our health strategy from disease prevention to health promotion.
The budget responded to the government’s priorities for health care by allocating substantially increased amounts for community and personal health programs including such services as: community mental health, $108 million, up 30 per cent; home care assistance, up $70 million, and alcohol and drug dependency programs, $43 million, up almost 18 per cent.
Of special interest to East York, since we are on the cutting edge of community health care with Metro’s first integrated homemaker one-stop access program, is the fact that the new resources will be used to improve the rates for visiting homemakers and increase the incomes of workers who assist people with developmental disabilities. This includes workers providing attendant care to people with severe physical disabilities or people with such diseases as Alzheimer’s. Without this badly needed extra funding, those people would not have the option of being cared for in their own homes surrounded by their families. Their only option would be to enter an institution.
Funding for hospitals is also up 8.3 per cent to $6 billion in order to address speciality care needs such as cancer care, cardiovascular services, dialysis, and maternal and infant care.
Education, the challenge for the 1990s: We all want our children to surpass even our high expectations for them, yet how is that possible when our industries are facing competition from new sources all the time? It used to be that the US set the standard our manufacturers had to beat. Now it is Korea, Singapore and Brazil, not to mention Europe and Japan. Ten years ago, Koreans had not built any microwave ovens; now they have cornered the market. These countries are the competition, not just because of lower wage rates, but because they have developed new technologies and better manufacturing techniques.
To maintain a producing economy that will provide those remunerative jobs for our kids, we must make sure that they are among the best educated and the most highly skilled in the world. To reach this goal, we have embarked upon a broad range of reform and renewal in Ontario’s education system, stretching from preschool to the point of entering the world of work.
This renewal focuses on the development of language and social skills in preschool years. It focuses on the greater mastery of basic skills and problem solving in the elementary grades. It focuses on a smooth transition between elementary and secondary school, and finally it focuses on job related skills necessary in the working world.
Educators understand that a child’s early social development has a profound effect on her academic progress. We know that the earlier our children start to learn in a safe and caring environment, the better their chances. So, the Treasurer responded to those needs by committing both operating, $194 million, and capital, $100 million, to fund new kindergarten programs for four and five year olds. Indeed, the guiding principle in this initiative is equality: equal opportunity to learn during the foundation years.
We have recognized that our technical schools need to keep up with the changing technologies and have committed $60 million for that purpose. Most high school graduates go on to community college or directly to work. Even to be eligible to train for skilled jobs, they must have a solid grounding in mathematics and the sciences, but our young people must also master information technology and be able to put it to work for them. Only with these tools will they be able to achieve our fondest hope for them, a better standard of living.
The terrific growth, particularly in the greater Toronto area, has created a demand for new schools that is unparalleled. The government has committed $1.2 billion in capital dollars to build schools and the Treasurer has resisted the temptation to balance the budget by preflowing $410 million of 1990-91 funding for schools and hospitals this year. Getting those schools built has been given the clearest possible priority.
Keeping Ontario competitive: While a well educated workforce is essential so that Ontario can hold its own against the world, there are other critical factors. Our business and manufacturing sectors must be looking to nontraditional markets and must be developing the critical mass necessary to withstand competition in those markets. As a former parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer and a former member of the parliamentary assistants committee on small business, I learned that small businesses create most of our jobs in Ontario. Unfortunately, they tend not to be the highly skilled jobs and more often than not, they are in the lower-paying service sector.
The budget has capitalized on the initiative of this sector to create new businesses and has launched and funded growth ventures, a program to help those small businesses to grow by providing sources of equity capital; $100 million in loan guarantees has been allocated. Anyone who has run a small business will know how critical it is to be able to inject new capital at key growth stages.
The budget also funded a number of research and development initiatives, all aimed at giving our businesses a leg up in developing and finding new markets for very expensive new technologies. The Premier’s Council technology fund is spending $132 million to promote industrial processes and to encourage the growth of innovative companies. The five-year environmental technologies program is spending $30 million to assist companies in the research and development of environmentally sound technology and processes. There is a new $300-million loan guarantee program for eligible businesses installing vital pollution-abatement equipment. Additional funding has been provided for the Centre for International Studies to conduct research and strategic policy analysis into inter-national, economic and political issues.
The budget renews the commitment to the university research incentive program by providing $25 million over three years to encourage the sharing of research expertise between university faculty and the private sector. Centres of excellence have been set up using the Premier’s Council technology fund. They are carrying on research in the fields of material, space, and terrestrial science, manufacturing, information technology, ground water, telecommunications, laser and light waves. The government’s high level of support to these endeavours has continued in this budget.
On the marketing side, $10 million has been provided to help our businesses develop international trade opportunities abroad. This is not just window-dressing. A number of businesses in east York have visited Japan, Europe and Australia and, with Ontario government assistance, have landed contracts and made inroads into those markets.
I could go on and on talking to the House about the doubling of money for environmental projects, the $2-billion capital program for roads and transit, the money for the fight against drug abuse, for victims and for the prevention of family and sexual violence, but time really does not permit. What I would like to close with is that this government and this Treasurer have been consistent in their emphasis on continued deficit reduction and the need to pay our bills as go along.
Ontario has slashed $911 million from its deficit to bring it to its lowest level in 15 years and at the same time has produced the largest operating surplus in the province’s history. With a deficit of $577 million and operating surplus of $2.6 billion, the government will pay for its day-to-day operations and for 82 per cent of its capital requirements out of current revenue. It is that kind of fiscal prudence that will enable us to survive and prosper in less buoyant economic times and that will enable us to compete with the world.
On motion by Ms Hart, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, before reading the business of the week pursuant to the standing orders, I would just like to remind all the members that this is the last day for this particular group of pages. For the last several weeks they have been serving the needs of members in the House as they go about their tasks. I trust it has been a significant learning experience. I am sure they will return to their schools with a much greater faith in the democratic process and the tremendous dedication that all members of the Legislature have. So thank you very much.
On Monday 13 November the House will not be sitting.
On Tuesday 14 November we will proceed with second readings of Bills 68, 69 and 70. There will be a deferred vote at 5:45 on third readings of Bills 2 and 3.
On Wednesday we will continue the second reading debate on Bills 68, 69 and 70.
Thursday 16 November in the morning will be private members’ business, and in the afternoon, we have an opposition day standing in the name of the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland). However, that is, I understand, subject to some ongoing discussions and if that opposition day does not transpire we will continue with committee of the whole on Bill 147 and Bill 119 and any unfinished business from the previous days.
The House adjourned at 1802.