The House met at 1330.
The Speaker: Just before I call for members’ statements, I would like to advise members that we have in the lower east gallery Donald Baxter, who was a member of this Legislature from the Prince Edward-Lennox area about four decades ago. Welcome.
Mr Allen: Hamiltonians, like all Ontarians outside Metro Toronto, have to go elsewhere for kidney stone treatment with a lithotripter, an ultrasonic device that breaks up stones without surgery, even though there has been a lithotripter sitting idle in a warehouse in Hamilton for months.
With long waiting lists at Ontario’s only lithotripsy service in Toronto, OHIP pays almost double for patients sent to other centres like Buffalo. Earlier this year, two Hamilton specialists purchased a lithotripter to service the west-central area only to be halted by a ministry ruling that it would approve only one machine for the southwest and would state where it would be, whether in Hamilton or in London.
The deadline for submissions was 28 July. Since then, silence. What is the minister waiting for? Right now the Americans have an oversupply of lithotripters; we are in short supply, but the minister seems afflicted with an oversupply of caution.
The two Hamilton doctors have offered her a further option, a mobile service that could serve various points south and west of Metro, with equal access based on need. Over 5,000 kidney stone patients in Ontario annually can benefit from lithotripsy. Toronto can only serve about 1,100 patients comfortably.
When is the minister going to authorize not just one but three more lithotripters for the province? With the US market in oversupply, it should be possible to pick up the machines at a reduced price. Hamiltonians have nothing against Buffalo, but it makes no sense to inconvenience the ill at double the cost.
LENGTHS OF TRUCKS AND TRAILERS
Mr Jackson: I rise to comment on yet another broken Liberal election promise. The recent announcement by the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) to allow an increase in the length of trucks and tractor-trailers to 53 feet seriously contradicts the government’s stated intentions for highway safety. The minister has failed to listen to the Canadian Automobile Association, which told him about how longer trucks endanger and intimidate motorists.
Burlington motorists are telling me that they feel betrayed by this Liberal government’s announcement. Burlington motorists are saying this will only increase the rate of traffic accidents and fatalities on our highways by increasing the risk of what is known as vehicle underride during rear-end collisions.
This will result in increased traffic snarls and slowdowns, which they contend with on a daily basis. This means greater carbon monoxide emissions into the air as well as larger fuel consumption and this will result in increased road maintenance costs.
Longer trucks do not mean fewer trucks in Ontario; they mean more problems and greater risks.
Five new taxes were specifically imposed on motorists by the recent Liberal budget. Burlingtonians also pay the greater-Toronto-area tax grab. In return, those same motorists are having their personal safety compromised by this government.
Enhanced safety on our roadways can surely be the minimum that motorists can expect from the Minister of Transportation. What has happened instead is that this Liberal government’s handling of highway safety is now, like its taxation practices, out of control.
FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
Miss Nicholas: Earlier this session the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) informed members of the Legislature about the 67th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week in Ontario.
Each year Fire Prevention Week provides the opportunity to formally recognize those who demonstrate outstanding achievement in fire prevention and fire safety.
This year eight awards have been given out by the Ministry of the Solicitor General. In the organization category this year’s winners are the Ottawa Fire Department, the Whitby Fire Department, the Leeds and Grenville County Board of Education and the Lambton Shrine Club.
Representing these organizations are: Robert Crothers, chief inspector of the Ottawa Fire Prevention Bureau; Chief Ed Crouch, Whitby Fire Department; Dianne Phillips, curriculum consultant, Leeds and Grenville County Board of Education; Donald Burnard, chairman of public relations for the Lambton Shrine Club.
Awards for individual achievement have been presented to Connie Chudyk of the Hamilton Fire Department and David Guilbault of the Ottawa Fire Department.
Our youth award winners this year are David Timeriski and Hillory Vance, both of Elliot Lake.
I have been informed that these recipients are present in the members’ gallery and I know that all members will want to extend their appreciation to each of these distinguished recipients.
DORA DE PÉDERY-HUNT
Mr Philip: Since the Legislature will not be in session in January, I would like to take this opportunity to inform the House and the members of the public who are watching of an important artistic event which will occur.
Starting in 1990, all of Canada’s coins will bear a new effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. With pride, I would like to point out that the new effigy, which was recently approved by Buckingham Palace, is the first ever designed by a Canadian for use on Canadian coins.
The effigy was designed by an Ontario artist and sculptor, Hungarian-born Dora de Pédery-Hunt. Dora de Pédiery-Hunt immigrated from Hungary in 1948. It is safe to say that before Dora de Pédery-Hunt arrived in Canada commemorative medals were very conventional. She can be credited with playing a major role in transforming this situation.
The quality of her work is such that it has merited being acquired by major museums and galleries in North America and Europe. Dora de Pédery-Hunt’s genius lies in the fact that she can achieve a true likeness of her subject while at the same time capturing his or her character.
Next year, when we look at the new coins, we can be grateful that this gracious and talented artist chose Canada as her home. I ask all members to join with me and members of the Hungarian-Canadian community in saying how proud we are of our Canadian artist, sculptor and medallist, Dora de Pédery-Hunt.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Dr Peter Vaughan, president of the Wellington County Medical Society, has asked me as its representative to bring to the attention of this Legislature some very serious concerns the association has with this Liberal government. I will quote from Dr Vaughan’s letter:
“Dear Mr Johnson:
“The membership of the Wellington County Medical Society has asked that I write you to express our extreme frustration with the lack of meaningful progress on the part of the provincial government in its negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association in developing a mechanism to replace the joint committee on physician compensation.
“The JCPC expired 18 months ago in April 1988. At that time the government cut off discussions with our representatives and unilaterally awarded a 1.75 per cent increase in the OHIP schedule of Benefits.”
Dr Vaughan goes on to state that the government’s attitude has severely affected the morale of physicians and that, while it may still be trendy to doctor-bash, the future of quality health care is at stake.
Wellington county is not alone. Most, if not all, of the province is suffering from this government’s inability to deal with the health crisis. Surely it is the responsibility of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) to develop and maintain a co-operative working relationship with the medical profession for the benefit of all Ontarians.
Mr Elliot: I would like to congratulate Leanne Caputo, who is sitting in the members’ gallery, on being declared first runner-up in the recent Miss World pageant held in Hong Kong. Miss Caputo was tied for the title of Miss World on the first ballot and was declared first runner-up during a second vote held to break the tie. She also received the title Queen of the Americas, the first time any Canadian has received this recognition at the Miss World pageant.
Leanne’s success in Hong Kong came after she had been named Miss World Canada at the national competition, which was held in Winnipeg during October. Leanne is a hardworking dancer and model from the town of Milton in my riding of Halton North where she owns and operates her own business, the Dance Gallery, which teaches jazz, tap and ballet. She is a graduate of the Milton District High School and is currently studying at the Toronto Dance Theatre.
During the next year Leanne will be involved in numerous public engagements in Ontario and the rest of Canada. I am sure that wherever she goes Leanne will prove to be an excellent ambassador for the town of Milton and the province of Ontario. I would like to give her the best wishes as she goes about her duties.
Mrs Grier: It seems that every couple of weeks we hear of yet another community where residents are receiving bottled drinking water because their own wells are contaminated. Every time this happens it represents a failure of our environmental protection system, a failure to have tough enough regulations and tough enough enforcement to prevent environmental problems from occurring, a failure to recognize the extent and the seriousness of the problem when local residents first complain and, finally, a failure, when the problem is acknowledged, to clean up the issue.
In Ameliasburgh in Prince Edward county, 20 area residents have been receiving bottled water for over a year. The Ministry of the Environment agrees that between 1971 and 1976 Blackbird Holdings buried barrels containing toxic waste.
The barrels are still there and that waste is now leaking and contaminating wells and ground water.
In March 1989 the ministry ordered Blackbird Holdings to clean up the site, but the owner says be cannot afford to. So nothing has been done and red tape at the ministry means that the situation remains as it has been. The barrels are still there, they are still leaking and residents are worried about the health and genetic effects of the contamination. Surely the government can do better than that.
I call on the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) to look into this appalling situation and find a way to clean up the mess now. Let’s not wait any longer.
HOUSING ON GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr Harris: Last week the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney), at a meeting with developers and municipal officials in Guelph, promised that government land would be sold cheaply to provide affordable housing. That will be a change.
This promise sounds vaguely familiar. The minister made similar grandiose statements at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference back in August. In fact he stated, “I certainly intend to ask the federal government to free up some of its land, but in my judgement, the government of Ontario has to free up its land first and show by example.” Despite this comment, there have been no provincial announcements.
Meanwhile, on 13 October the federal Minister of State (Housing), Alan Redway, released 43 hectares -- 106 acres -- in Vaughan and 2,500 homes are planned for the site. There is a minister who cares and has the co-operation of his cabinet colleagues. Since we have not heard from Mr Redway’s provincial counterpart, my colleague the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) asked the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward) to indicate surplus lands that would be sold for affordable housing. The minister responded, “Five sites are to be released next year -- 588 units on 29 acres in Stoney Creek, Newcastle, Peterborough, Toronto and Windsor.”
At face value it sounds okay, but a closer look reveals the Toronto and Stoney Creek sites were originally announced in April and May 1988. If we factor those out, the Ministry of Government Services is left with 169 units that this government is going to lead the way on. Headlines and rhetoric will not solve Ontario’s affordable housing problem.
Ms Oddie Munro: Current practice in the construction industry in relation to provision of toilet and washroom facilities is outdated. Privies and chemical flush toilets, for example, are often unsanitary and facilities for workers to wash their hands -- ie, hot and cold running water and basins -- are largely nonexistent. Provision of toilet and washroom facilities should not be left to the collective agreement process, such regulations being more appropriately reflected in the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, sections 89 and 90, governing all workers, unionized and unorganized.
Appropriate requirements must be practical and workable. The issue of sanitary and washroom facilities has been a recurring resolution submitted to the annual meetings of the Hamilton-Brantford Building and Construction Trades Council. Submitted and adopted in both 1988 and 1989, the resolution was forwarded to and adopted by the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. It has also been submitted to and discussed at the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee.
The construction sector is the largest employment sector in this province. Minimum requirements for flush toilets and running water on all construction projects for all construction workers is overdue. Amendments will result in improved worksite conditions. Improved worksite conditions are positively related to improved productivity, making good economic as well as social sense. I urge the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) to support the emerging regulatory procedures amendments.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Offer: I wish to inform the members of the House that today I have issued to all Ontario police forces a province-wide directive to regulate and manage police pursuits. This directive will address what has been a difficult and long-standing issue -- the need to strike a balance between the public safety in initiating or continuing a pursuit, against the public safety in not initiating or continuing a pursuit.
Before issuing this directive, my ministry has taken into consideration the publicly expressed views of our citizens as well as the views of the men and women of our policing services. In the process of our deliberations we have considered and weighed a full range of options. One option was an outright ban on police pursuits.
This government has taken the position that a complete ban is not acceptable since it would only encourage criminals to flee from the police. Police pursuits are a necessary and important part of policing. While it is impossible to totally eliminate the risks involved in police pursuits, it is possible to ensure that pursuits are undertaken only when absolutely necessary and that they are conducted in a manner which maximizes public safety and are in accordance with the law.
To accomplish this objective, my ministry has developed a strategy which includes enhanced pursuit training, public education, increased Highway Traffic Act penalties, Police Act regulations and immediate implementation of clear and consistent standards set out in the directive for the management of police pursuits.
The directive which I have issued today states that public safety must be the paramount consideration in any decision to initiate, continue or discontinue a police pursuit. The directive also states that police pursuits will be a measure of last resort. Pursuits may be initiated when police have reason to believe that a criminal offence has been or is about to be committed. They may be undertaken in noncriminal situations only for the purpose of identifying the vehicle, at which point the pursuit must then be discontinued. As well, the directive expands the responsibility for management and control of pursuits beyond the individual pursuing officer to his or her immediate supervisor.
The directive also prohibits police use of firearms for the sole purpose of attempting to stop a vehicle and prohibits deliberate ramming of a police vehicle into a pursued vehicle. It requires that all police forces submit reports on all police pursuits in Ontario for review by the Office of the Solicitor General and requires that, effective 1 January 1991, no police officer may engage in a pursuit unless he or she has been trained in a course on pursuits which has been approved by the Ontario Police College.
This directive will be accompanied by public education messages in drivers’ handbooks aimed at new drivers and a pamphlet for public distribution warning of the need to stop for police and the dangers of pursuit.
However, education alone is not sufficient to ensure the safety of police officers and the public. We must make it clear that disregarding a police request to stop which leads to a pursuit is a very serious offence. Currently, the Highway Traffic Act penalty for failure to stop is a minimum fine of $100 to a maximum of $2,000. Following consultation with the Attorney General (Mr Scott) and the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye), it is this government’s intention to increase the fine for this offence from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5,000. The existing mandatory three-year suspension of a driving licence for conviction will remain in force.
My ministry has required that the directive announced today be followed by all police forces in Ontario, effective immediately. As well, it is this government’s intention to implement this directive as a regulation in the revised Police Act which will be introduced to this House in the very near future. Ontario will then become the first province in Canada with laws which regulate police pursuits.
The initiatives announced today recognize and support the common goal of this government, the police and the citizens of our province to increase public safety and security in our communities.
LONG-TERM CARE / SERVICES DE SOIN À LONG TERME
Hon Mr Beer: On behalf of myself and my colleagues the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Ms Collins) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mr Morn), I am pleased to provide a progress report on the comprehensive reform of long-term care.
As members will recall, long-term care refers to the personal health and social services delivered over an extended period of time to people who are elderly or have physical disabilities.
Le 7 juin dernier, mon prédécesseur avait annoncé que nous allions entreprendre notre programme de réformes en nous fondant sur ce principe. Ces réformes visent à aider les personnes âgées et celles qui sont atteintes d’un handicap physique à poursuivre une existence autonome. Elles visent aussi à soutenir les proches qui s’occupent de ces personnes et à renforcer les moyens, dont disposent les communautés, pour planifier et administrer les services qui leur sont offerts.
Cette approche est d’ailleurs conforme à ce que préconise le Conseil du premier ministre sur la santé qui recommande, lui aussi, l’amélioration du réseau d’appui au niveau des communautés et une meilleure coordination entre les services de santé et les services sociaux.
Depuis la déclaration de juin dernier, nous avons parlé aux gens qui font appel à nos services et à ceux qui les fournissent dans certaines communautés de l’Ontario. Nous avons discuté de notre orientation avec les représentants de plusieurs organisations provinciales et nous avons effectué un examen interne, en vue de nous assurer que ces plans seront à la fois viables et efficaces.
We have found that there is real support for reform among our clients, their families and service providers, and an eagerness to take part in the reform process. We have heard, particularly from those with disabilities, that people want to maintain their independence and have more control over the services they require.
Today, I am pleased to be able to make some firm commitments to you, Mr Speaker, this House and the people of Ontario.
First, we will create new service access agencies that will simplify both the process of finding appropriate in-home services and the process of having someone admitted to a long-term care facility. Through these agencies, people will be able to find the help they need in one place, talking to one person, instead of going through a long, trying period of searching.
Second, we will introduce a new funding system for all homes for the aged and nursing homes. Under the new system, payments will vary, depending on the level of care required by residents in the home.
Third, to avoid administrative confusion and duplication, the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services are establishing a single interministry structure to manage the reformed long-term care system, both provincially and at the local level. Already we have appointed an assistant deputy minister of community services who reports jointly to my ministry and the Ministry of Health.
Fourth, we will develop a fully integrated in-home support program for seniors and disabled people. This new program will provide a wide array of services to assist people to be independent in their homes.
Existing services, such as the Ministry of Health’s home care program and my ministry’s integrated homemaker program, will be brought together as the core of a new consolidated in-home support program. As a result, services will be available with fewer barriers between agencies, ministries and professions.
We shall increase provincial support for many in-home services such as attendant care, in-home respite and in-home nursing care. There will also be further improvements and support for the lowest-paid workers to add to the $28.9 million we have already provided to improve the wages of homemakers.
Finally, home support services run by community agencies, such as Meals on Wheels and Friendly Visiting, will be expanded. We will develop a more complete range of services throughout the province, looking towards greater multicultural involvement.
We will be ready to begin implementing changes in some communities by early fall of 1990. We are also preparing long-term-care legislation for presentation to the House at that same time.
There is still much to be done, but working with our partners in the community, we are determined to put in place a coherent and carefully designed system of long-term care for senior citizens and people with disabilities throughout Ontario.
To achieve this goal, it is vital that those involved in reform should have input: consumers, providers and communities. In implementing reform, we will also work closely with municipalities, continuing the co-operation already established by the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee.
At present we are working on a detailed strategic plan. We plan to release this document early next spring, and its release will signal the beginning of intensive provincial and local consultation and planning. Some aspects of the consultation process can, however, start immediately. Within the next few weeks we will establish committees made up of government, service providers and consumers, to help us establish detailed policies in four key areas.
These four areas are: A new classification system to aid us in making funding decisions for nursing homes and homes for the aged; the design of the new community service access agencies, which I mentioned earlier; the guidelines for new community and in-home service, and the role of chronic care facilities within the reformed long-term care system.
We recognize that we are starting down a long and, no doubt, sometimes bumpy road. Reform of such scope will not be easy, but the result will be a much improved system of long-term care. It will support and strengthen opportunities for community living so that senior citizens and people with disabilities will be better able to remain in their homes and communities, close to family and friends. Above all, reform will ensure the dignity of our citizens who require support.
Mr Kormos: Speaking to the statement made by the Solicitor General, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that is a far cry from the tough new restrictions that were promised by his predecessor, the then Solicitor General, the member for London South (Mrs E. J. Smith). Indeed, this does little but fluff up and put some smoke and mirrors around what exists now, which is virtually no guidelines, no directions.
As far back as 1985, the MacBeth report was available to the Solicitor General and it provided a number of standards that ought to be implemented. This directive that we are told of today does not incorporate any of those standards advised by the MacBeth commission. What is entirely lacking here is any use of technology that might be made available to police officers, both municipal and OPP officers, to give effect to pursuits that would not involve high-speed chases. I am speaking of spike belts, and there is no mention in this report or this narrative of using spike belts. I am speaking of the use of technology that is available to police officers in the 1980s and certainly in the 1990s that would give effect to pursuits without the need to engage in high-speed chases.
I have some concerns as well about the modest standards imposed, one, that a pursuit only be engaged in when it involves the commission of a criminal offence. What standard, what height, what level, how trivial a criminal offence? Indeed, we are aware of the police chase that left three officers injured and left behind a trail of about $50,000 in wrecked cars because of the mere theft of $15 in gas in September. That is the very type of situation in which real direction has to be provided, where the discretion of the police officer cannot be the prevailing standard for whether or not to engage in a chase. It is the sort of standard that is called out for and that is not provided in this new directive.
As I say, it is a far cry from the Police Act that we expected, a far cry from the tough new restrictions that the previous Solicitor General promised.
Mr B. Rae: I want to say to the Minister of Community and Social Services that this statement is interesting to listen to, just as the statement was interesting to listen to when it was made by Frank Drea back in 1982. I can also tell the minister that he has ignored some of the most difficult problems that we face in the province.
First of all, the administrative chaos between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services is not solved at all by simply having an assistant deputy minister who reports to two ministers.
Second, the most difficult issue that we have raised in this House in terms of the regulation of homes, the question of the regulation of homes that are supposed to be covered by municipal laws, all those people who are institutionalized who are not covered right now by any provincial standards whatsoever, has been completely and utterly ignored by the government, and the minister has said absolutely nothing about it in his statement.
He has said nothing at all about the question of the financial accountability and the performance accountability of the homes that are providing care for people, whether they are homes for the aged, whether they are nursing homes or whether they are all those homes in which tens of thousands of people are living which are covered by absolutely no regulation whatsoever other than the most minimal municipal standards.
I can say to the minister that in my work in this province, there has been no issue that has been so long neglected by government and by society as this question of our care for the elderly. In fact, it was nearly eight years ago that I gave my first speech in this House on the subject of the treatment of senior citizens in Ontario’s nursing homes.
I do not take any great satisfaction in saying that the pace at which the government is moving is positively glacial. What does it say about a Liberal government when the very best thing it can say in the fifth year of its administration is that we will have to wait for the sixth year of its administration before we even see a draft piece of legislation dealing with the question of the care for the elderly? That speaks of a neglect of our older people, a neglect of citizens living in poverty and living in very difficult conditions that is a disgrace.
This is a regime for the rich and for the wealthy and for the well protected. It is not a government for those who are looking to a government that cares. It is a government for people who are well off and who are well protected. It speaks to two Ontarios and not to one Ontario, and I do not think what the minister has proposed comes even close to dealing with the crisis that is affecting our old people today.
Mr Runciman: I want to respond to the statement by the Solicitor General. I am not going to pass judgement on the merits of the statement. Unlike the government, we would wish to consult with the police forces and individual police officers across this province before we make a significant comment on this statement. I think, regrettably, the minister has not carried out that kind of consultative process.
I will comment today in respect to a number of concerns that jump out of this statement. In regard to the comments in respect to further prohibitions on the use of firearms, there is no reference in here to the provision of appropriate resources for the training of police officers, no reference to the recent Supreme Court decision requiring police officers in chase situations to stop at intersections and stop signs, etc.
I think our concern on this side of the House, as I mentioned in reference to consultation, is a growing perception of an antipolice bias creeping into the Liberal government policy.
I can quote some statistics in respect to violent crimes being on the increase: sexual assaults, robbery and theft in Toronto between 1984 and 1988. Attempted murders rose by 35 per cent, sexual assaults by 38 per cent, other assaults by 68 per cent, robberies by 43 per cent, weapons possession by 33 per cent. The reality is that police are faced with more criminal acts to deal with than ever before, and behind each of these statistics is a human being. In Toronto, we have as many as 40 street gangs operating, young people not afraid to commit vicious crimes. We have a drug abuse epidemic in this province.
What kind of support is this government giving the police forces across this province? The Attorney General (Mr Scott) rebukes two police officers who criticize the courts for handing out one- and two-week sentences to drug pushers. That is the kind of support. We have two cabinet ministers of this government attending the funeral of an individual who was shot in a stolen car. What happens when we have police officers wounded or killed in the line of duty in this province? Not one word of condolence, not one word of sympathy, not one word of support from this Liberal government.
I met with officers of 52 Division in downtown Toronto last night. They are very concerned about morale. They are out in the streets dealing with this situation on a day-by-day basis, and they are very concerned. There is no one speaking up, no one standing up on their behalf in the Liberal government of Ontario. We may be faced with a work slowdown in Metropolitan Toronto by the police because of their concerns about what is happening, what this government is doing to them.
I want to say that we are concerned about the initiatives this government has undertaken which in effect are going to handicap the ability of our police officers to fight crime and will ultimately damage public safety across this province.
Mrs Cunningham: In response to the comprehensive reform of long-term care in the province, I really hope that this announcement is just what it says it is, “to be able to make some firm commitments to you, Mr Speaker, this House and the people of Ontario,” with regard to the long-term care for the elderly and for the disabled in the community.
When we look at simplifying the process and finding appropriate in-home services, that is fine, but what we really need for this ageing population and for our increased number of seniors and the elderly from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer), the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mr Morin) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Ms Collins) are more services, and I hope that this is what this means.
We need more attendant care. We need more hours per staff, in-home care on behalf of homemakers. We need to be able to look at our institutions, our homes for the aged, our nursing homes. We need to refurbish them. We need to update them. People are prepared to pay if this government is prepared to manage, and we need better management. That is what this is all about. Seniors need more privacy in their institutions. They are telling us this. They need more individual attention. They really are telling us that personal attendants for the disabled are their prime objective. That is what they have been asking for.
The real needs in nursing homes, as I take a look at this new funding system for all homes for the aged and nursing homes, what I really hope the minister means there is that we are looking at improving the funding and services for the homes for the aged as well as bringing the nursing homes up to that level. I think it is a real crime that we have been facing some lawsuit that has finally forced the minister into saying “a new funding system.” I hope that in spite of any legal suits, the minister will be looking at the needs of individuals in our special homes for senior citizens.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Premier as the chairman of the Premier’s Council. I think Ontario has just begun to get a sense of how major the changes that we are undergoing in our economy are in terms of the car industry, in terms of food processing. The job losses and the rate of change is becoming quite scary for people, and it is interesting to note that the Premier’s Council has talked about these issues.
In fact, the Premier’s Council said a little while ago in regard to the food processing industry that the changes that are taking place could spell disaster for some segments of the industry. So one cannot say that the Premier did not predict these changes and predict these problems. What one has to say is that the Premier has done nothing to address the problems he has described in his Premier’s Council reports.
Can the Premier tell me why he has done nothing to address the issues which have been described in his own reports and which workers today are experiencing in their own daily lives?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member is incorrect, and the Minister of Agriculture and Food will tell him what we are doing with the agriculture and food processing industries.
The Speaker: Referred to the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Hon Mr Ramsay: We are obviously, and especially in Agriculture and Food, aware of the rationalization that is going on in the food processing industry. We have seen this happen in the last five years in the United States and we are beginning to see it here in Canada, and yes, it is the free trade deal that has acted as a catalyst to this rationalization.
We are doing something about it. We have a Food Industry Advisory Committee that my fellow member the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) has chaired with me. We have recommendations from the food industry. We are actively giving consideration to those and preparing some action in regard to that report.
Mr B. Rae: There is nothing at all in place in terms of programs for the workers who are affected by these changes. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture and Food, since he has been given the question by the Premier, can explain why the government would be saying what a wonderful severance package it has for workers when in fact 63 per cent of working women have held their jobs for less than five years, so that they are not protected under any severance legislation at all.
Perhaps he can tell us what he is going to do about older workers whose average unemployment will now last some 23 weeks and who are going to be affected by change in all the industries that are affected, whether it is the car industry or the food processing industry. Why are there no programs in place to deal with the level and degree of change that is now coming to Ontario? There is nothing there.
Hon Mr Ramsay: The processes we have in place are designed to manage the change and the change is coming very fast because of free trade. We think it is very important that we get some financial help, as we had from the federal government with the tobacco and grape industries. We have asked the federal government for those adjustment programs and they are not there. They sold this country on free trade because they said adjustment programs would be there. The federal government has not been there when we need it, now, today.
Mr B. Rae: The minister is an expert on selling people things, but I would like to ask the minister, by way of final supplementary, if he can tell us, and answer my question specifically, why is it that the government severance package does not cover women, 63 per cent of whom have held their jobs for less than five years? It does not cover them. If he wants to talk about food processing, he knows to what extent women occupy those jobs in many industries across the province. Why are they not covered by this legislation? Why are there no training packages in place? Why is there no pension legislation in place when we are undergoing such incredible change? The minister has seen this change coming. We have all seen it coming. The Ontario government has done nothing to --
The Speaker: Thank you. There are about four questions there.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I think the member should be asking the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) when it comes to severance packages and the Minister of Labour would be quite happy to discuss that. He asked about the food processing industry and I must say that what he is really talking about is the change that is happening very rapidly because of free trade. I must say it was our Premier and our party in the last election that was fighting free trade. It was our party that was leading that fight to stop this deal.
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Minister of the Environment a question. I want to ask the minister this question. Last 10 March the minister announced that by 1992 Ontario would divert 25 per cent of its garbage from landfill and from incineration. As a result of the recycling programs that are now in place, the blue box program and others, we have reached roughly three per cent and 1992 is a little more than two years away.
I wonder if the minister can explain in simple terms that all of us can understand how the government intends to reduce the amount of garbage produced and sent to landfill and incineration eightfold in a little over two years. Can he explain that to me?
Hon Mr Bradley: They have little faith over there on that side. I could probably explain it to him. I could suggest some things such as the number of -- no, I will not get into those things.
Some hon members: Go ahead.
Hon Mr Bradley: No. The member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) wants me to, but I will not.
We see first of all a wide expansion of the blue box program in Ontario. He will be aware that Ontario won the United Nations’ award for the blue box program on recycling. As a person who uses the blue box and promotes recycling, I think the member can take some of that credit, as can all the people who have used the blue box.
What we are seeing is that in the communities that are participating, the number of households that are now participating in the blue box program is, I think, about 1.8 million households in Ontario. In addition to that, the member would know that many communities are moving into a composting program, either individually within their own homes or as municipalities that are beginning to have compost heaps the whole community can use, to cut down on the amount of material that otherwise would go to an incinerator or a landfill site.
In addition to that, the government of Ontario has made a contribution --
The Speaker: Thank you. You might save a little for the supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: I cannot believe the minister is seriously arguing that a combination of composting and expanding the blue box program is going to get us to 25 per cent. If that is what he is arguing, then I think he is just whistling in the wind.
The minister has a staff now of 2,941 people, of whom a total of 13 are employed in something called the waste diversion section that was formerly the waste reduction section. They changed the name and they have 13 staff out of a total of 2,941. Can the minister tell us how 0.4 per cent of his ministry staff are going to increase the amount of waste reduction eightfold in the next two years? How can they do that?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member would surely know, but that is perhaps philosophical as some of my colleagues would say -- I do not always have the same philosophical arguments with the member as some of my colleagues do -- that the only solution to waste management in terms of the reduction program is not to hire civil servants, although we believe the people we have there are an excellent team. They have working with them people all over Ontario, in the municipalities and in groups such as the Recycling Council of Ontario.
Indeed, there are even corporations -- I know the member has trouble with those people -- that are looking at ways now to cut back on the material that would go to either incineration or the landfill sites. The reason for it is that the costs are increasing tremendously for them, and so out of necessity that has forced them to look at many of these things.
I was in Brampton the other day and I was involved in a wood recycling program -- this is what the member asked about -- cutting the ribbon and commending the local people in the area for being involved in something that is pretty innovative. In addition to that, people are now recycling cardboard. Remember the cardboard boxes they used to have that used to be thrown out? They are now recycled.
Mrs Grier: The kinds of activities the minister has been describing have been going on now on a voluntary basis for at least the time he has been in office and many of them for long before that. Surely the minister is prepared to recognize that with all the goodwill in the world, those kinds of voluntary efforts are not going to take him to the target he is so confidently announcing, to cut the garbage by 25 per cent two years from now. The minister, I am sure, will remember one of the documents his ministry helped fund, the solid waste environmental assessment plan report for Metropolitan Toronto. I want to ask him about a very specific recommendation in that report.
The recommendation was “that Environment Ontario should establish a waste reduction office that has a statutory mandate and obligation to produce and implement a comprehensive strategy for the province that will achieve a 50 per cent reduction of solid waste during the next decade. To do so, the waste reduction office must be given a budget and staff sufficient to the task, one that reflects the primacy of the waste reduction objective.”
Why does the minister consistently duck that kind of tough recommendation?
Hon Mr Bradley: I do not know if I can speak for all the members of the New Democratic Party -- I probably cannot reasonably speak for any of them -- but I can say that it may be the philosophy of the New Democratic Party to use a sledgehammer to force people in this province to do something they are already doing voluntarily. Can anyone in this House think of another program in Ontario where so many people are making a special effort to participate in recycling, where we have 1.8 million households and close to 200 municipalities involved, where there is growing action within the schools where people are recycling -- so many programs that are going on right across Ontario?
We have the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward) announcing a program that is going to reduce the amount of waste in terms of paper and other things the government produces. There are all of these activities going on, the funding of the three Rs, industrial recycling at the present time. There are a myriad of activities going on in this province and people are coming from all over the world to see what we are doing in Ontario in the field of recycling.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Energy. I am sure the minister is aware that Ontario Hydro is advertising, that people are being asked to turn back their heat in their homes, that industry is being cut back in many areas of the province and that Ontario Hydro is projecting brownouts in terms of the provision of power across the province as a real possibility. This all results, I understand, because of unit 2 at Pickering being shut down on scheduled maintenance and the Lennox generating plant possibly running out of fuel.
I wonder if the minister responsible for Ontario Hydro could tell us what she is doing to ensure that residential users, business and industry do not experience blackouts.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think we should first clarify that I do not think Ontario Hydro is at the present time making dire predictions about sustained shortages of electricity. There is an unexpected peak at this point in time with the cold weather and with the increase in electricity usage that normally comes at this season.
As the member has recognized, there are a number of situations: planned outages at the Pickering station, an unplanned problem with the transmission line that reduced the electricity available yesterday by some 1,500 megawatts, and as well the Lennox station had to be used for peaking capacity and there is concern about being able to have oil shipments quickly enough to keep the Lennox station operating through this peak period. This is a temporary request to customers to cut back during peak periods so that this very temporary shortage can be met.
I am sure the honourable member, in a supplementary, will want me to come back to the question of the longer-term planning to meet the electricity demands of Ontario, which Ontario Hydro and the ministry are very much involved in.
Mr Runciman: I would not guess at what my supplementary is going to be. I want to say to the minister that by that response obviously she is not concerned about this situation. She is simply being a puppet of Ontario Hydro. The minister said December is a peak period for use of hydro. If indeed December is a peak period and I admit it is, will the minister justify why they scheduled a shutdown of Pickering during a peak period and why Lennox is almost out of fuel oil? Is the minister satisfied with this degree of incompetence by management at Ontario Hydro? Is that what she is telling the consumers of Ontario?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Indeed no. I do not think there is any measure of incompetence in the planning of Ontario Hydro. There was an unexpected occurrence on a transmission line that affected 1,500 megawatts of available power in the short term. I think Ontario Hydro is anticipating a concern about shortages over this peak period in asking customers to voluntarily reduce their use during peak periods.
This is not a typical situation in Ontario, as the honourable member will know. Cutbacks to customers who are on interruptible power have occurred very seldom in Ontario. In terms of the concern that is being demonstrated, I think the honourable member and all members of this House will recognize that Ontario Hydro is currently preparing a master plan for the provision of electricity to Ontario, not just through the next decade but in fact through the next 25 years. That is shortly to be tabled and will address both short-term and very long-term needs.
Mr Runciman: That has got to be a discouraging response, especially to industry across this province, because Ontario Hydro is obviously not living up to its mandate of providing a reliable supply of electricity. If this minister would get off her butt and get out there and talk to industry across this province -- when we phoned the deputy minister’s office they said she was not responsible for Ontario Hydro. John Savage and the deputy minister said the minister has nothing to do with the operation of Ontario Hydro, and that is very clear here today because she does not know what is going on. We have industries in this province cutting back on operations.
The Speaker: Order. Perhaps we had better calm down and not get too excited.
The Speaker: Order. Would you allow the minister to make a response? Thank you.
Hon Mrs McLeod: In terms of my awareness of what is taking place with Ontario Hydro, if time were to allow in my response to the member’s questions, I would give him very detailed information about peak capacity, reserve capacity, the amount that was required yesterday and why Ontario Hydro wanted to protect some reserve capacity to ensure there would not be brownouts in Ontario over the next little while.
If the member’s question is more concerned about whether or not we are working with Ontario Hydro to ensure that the requirements of electricity over the next decade and beyond are going to met, then I would draw the member’s attention both to the plan Ontario Hydro is going to submit and to the fact that we were concerned enough that this plan be considered expeditiously, but thoroughly, that we have already announced the process for government review of that plan which will begin as soon as the plan is tabled.
If the member is concerned about accountability of this ministry for Ontario Hydro, I might draw his attention to the Power Corporation Act amendments that were just recently passed.
The Speaker: New question.
The Speaker: Order. There may be some members who do not want to hear the question, but I would like to.
Mr Runciman: Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. I will try to restrain myself.
This has to do with the statement made by the Solicitor General with respect to police pursuits. I want to make reference to a comment in his statement that certainly strikes me as the government attempting to have it both ways -- I guess from a political perspective we can understand that -- saying this government has taken the position that a complete ban is not acceptable since it would only encourage criminals to flee the police. If, in his statement today, the minister is warned about criminals fleeing, how does this allay that fear?
Hon Mr Offer: Dealing with the question, I think what the honourable member has to recognize is that this statement is designed to increase and enhance public safety. It is designed to increase and enhance public safety through a number of measures: (I) through the province-wide police pursuit guideline; (2) through increased public education; (3) through increased penalties and fines under the Highway Traffic Act; (4) through enhanced training; (5) through making these particular guidelines regulations under the Police Act.
I believe this five-pronged approach will not only enhance public safety but also will reduce police pursuits and reduce death and injury that are caused through them.
Mr Runciman: We tend to believe the minister is right with respect to reducing pursuits. We are probably going to see a lot of police officers simply pull off to the side of the road, uncertain about where they stand with respect to this government.
I want to pose a particular example to the minister. If we had a driver who had previously been convicted on two occasions of impaired driving and he was driving on a third occasion impaired and was caught up in a police net, and if he was not pursued, or was pursued, I want to ask the minister, what deterrent is inherent in his statement with respect to that kind of individual? What deterrent has the minister built into it, because he is already going to face an automatic suspension if he is caught? I would like to hear the minister’s rationale in terms of providing an effective deterrent.
The Speaker: The question has been asked twice.
Hon Mr Offer: I heard the member’s question but I am trying to determine what in fact the question was. The member should be very aware that these guidelines are not designed to direct what a particular decision should or should not be in a particular fact situation. What these guidelines, this initiative and announcement are designed to do is provide a framework for decision so that when that decision is made there is an enhancement of public safety.
The member should be aware that in dealing with the guidelines themselves, the key element must be the safety of the public.
Mr Runciman: I gather, from first blush in any event, we think this sort of an approach, rather than having the impact the minister wants it to have, is going to have the opposite effect. It is going to result in further endangerment of the public.
I want to talk about a couple of specifics in this as well, where the directive is prohibiting the police use of firearms for the sole purpose of attempting to stop a vehicle and prohibiting police vehicles from being used in ramming of vehicles being pursued. On a number of occasions, in both the United States and Canada, situations like those have stopped violent criminals and have prevented further deaths. Again, it is a situation where this Liberal government is further handicapping police in their ability to perform their duties and protect the public and ensure public safety. That is, in effect, what the minister is endangering.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Runciman: We want to talk about fines here as well. Why does the minister not have a mandatory jail sentence rather than fines?
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr Runciman: My question is, indeed, has the minister really carefully reviewed some of these provisions in respect to stopping fleeing vehicles, specifically with the use of firearms and ramming, in terms of the impact they may have on public safety?
Hon Mr Offer: The member should be aware that the work done in formulating not only the guidelines dealing with police pursuits but in fact the initiatives which were announced today is the result and culmination of a great deal of time with the police community. The member should be well aware that the goals and the objectives of these initiatives are ones which are shared not only by this government, not only by the general community at large, but indeed by the police community.
I believe that the initiatives, the five-prong attack in dealing with police pursuits, will enhance public safety, will reduce the number of police pursuits in this province and will also result in a decrease in the type of injury which is now before the public.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Housing. I took a tour this morning similar to the one he took on 2 October with the Christian Resource Centre of the Regent Park area and some of the hostels and dropin centres. I am sure the minister will be happy to know that all of the hostels in the area are filled and overfilled; that the dropin centres are filled during the day; that a very small room in a rooming house in that area is renting for $350 to $450 a month.
In view of the fact that when one visits that area of Toronto one understands very clearly that the good times are not rolling for many people in this province, why would the minister not agree with the people at the Christian Resource Centre when they asked him to sign a simple commitment that this government was serious about housing; that it was going to create 14,000 affordable units next year; that it would take a lead role in the development of provincial lands to ensure that surplus lands would be used for affordable housing, and that it would work with nonprofit housing providers and community-based groups to ensure that innovative pilot projects were properly funded?
Why would the minister not make housing for those people a priority in this province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: In many ways, when I not only went on the tour with those people but, as the honourable member probably knows, met with quite a larger number of them afterwards and spent about an hour and a half answering their very direct questions, we talked about many of those same things. I pointed out to them that last year, this year and for the coming two years there will be more nonprofit and co-operative housing built in Ontario than in all of the rest of the country put together.
As the member well knows, Metropolitan Toronto gets a very, very substantial share of that, mainly because this is where the greater need is and that is what the purpose of that housing is.
With respect to support programs that go along with housing, the member is well aware of the fact that my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) provides a range of support services in conjunction with programs that we use in housing.
With respect to provincial lands, I will be making an announcement next week of a whole series of uses of provincial land. We will shortly be making our announcement with respect to the use of the Seaton lands. All of that is in progress and I spoke to those people about all those things.
There was not anything there that we disagreed on.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The fact of the matter is that there are still in Metropolitan Toronto 10,000 to 20,000 people who are homeless. I saw people this morning, mothers and fathers with their little children, homeless in Ontario in 1989. It is a bloody disgrace that this is allowed to exist in Toronto or anyplace else in Ontario and it is unbelievable to us that the minister has not even got a housing program to come after the Homes Now program. When those 30,000 units are all used up -- 23,000 of them are now allocated -- there is nothing else in this province to solve this problem.
The vacancy rates announced last week --
The Speaker: And the question.
Mr D. S. Cooke: -- show 0.5 per cent in Hamilton, 0.6 per cent in Kitchener --
The Speaker: The question.
Mr D. S. Cooke: -- in Toronto, 0.3 per cent; Sudbury, 0.3 per cent.
The Speaker: The question.
Mr D. S. Cooke: This requires a massive response from this government. Where is their housing program?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I have just finished sharing with my honourable colleague the fact that this province has embarked on a housing program that is larger than the whole rest of the country put together; that is a fact. I just came back a week and a half ago from a meeting of all the other Housing ministers across the country with the federal minister and that was a recognized fact; we are doing that.
As a matter of fact, when we add in the roughly 5,000 to 6,000 units we are doing in co-operation with the federal government every year, our Project 3000, our Project 3600, our Project 30,000, we are talking of 50,000 housing units over a period of five or six years. That is very significant. The entire rest of the country is not matching that.
The second point, which the honourable member knows as well as I do, is that the vacancy rate surveys that were produced cover 60 per cent of the units in this province. They do not cover those buildings that have fewer than six units. That represents 40 per cent of all the units in this province and that represents a very significant share of lower-cost, available rental units in this province. The member has to keep that factor in mind as well.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mrs Cunningham: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. It is our understanding that all of us in this House look at a priority when it comes to physical and mental health in the treatment of children. Last year in children’s mental health services, there were over 10,000 children on waiting lists for service and it has now come to a crisis situation. Centres across Ontario are writing letters to all of the members in this House, I am sure, to let us know of their rather significant concern.
I know that a lot of these issues have been brought to the minister’s attention --
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mrs Cunningham: -- and I think we have come to the point now where we have to ask him, will he be willing to meet with the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres at his earliest convenience? It would be much too difficult for us to take this on in this House.
Hon Mr Beer: Very simply, yes, I would be. Indeed, we have already begun a series of meetings at the officials level and I expect to be meeting with them. That was the intent of the meetings that have been ongoing. As the member points out, there are some serious issues there and we have agreed on how we are going to examine a number of them, but I certainly feel it is important in that process that I sit down with them and go over their concerns with them directly.
Mrs Cunningham: We are very pleased to hear that response and we urge the minister to meet as soon as possible. Just to help the minister along, there was a tremendous blueprint or overview of the mental health programs for children done in 1983. I hope he will take it into consideration. This report went so far as to say that children’s mental health should be handled by the Ministry of Health and not Community and Social Services. That was some six years ago.
In the last four years we have seen an increase by four times in waiting lists. Can the minister advise the House that he is working with the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) to solve this problem and that he will take that into consideration as he looks towards meeting the demands for mental health programs for children in Ontario?
Hon Mr Beer: I am aware of the report the honourable member mentioned and we are dealing on an ongoing basis with the Ministry of Health on the broad area of mental health, and more specifically, children’s mental health. There are a number of issues, which in letters to me and in my own meetings with children’s mental health centres in York region, where that issue, in terms of who ought to be responsible, how the system ought to be managed and the funding of that system, had been raised. I hope to explore all of those and other issues they wish to raise when I meet with them.
Mr Adams: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. It seems to me that it is not enough for the government to develop and support reduction and recycling programs for others, it must set an example by reducing, reusing and recycling its own waste. What is the Ministry of Government Services doing about waste management within government?
Hon Mr Ward: As the member will know, having heard an earlier response from the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), the Ministry of Government Services is indeed embarking on a very comprehensive waste management program. The objective in the first phase of that program is to prevent as much waste material as possible from entering our landfill sites or going into incineration, and for that reason we are focusing primarily on the recycling of waste materials.
Members will know that recycling bins and blue boxes are currently being distributed to all government offices within Metropolitan Toronto. Our goal is to cover some 45,000 government employees in 120 offices. We are also conducting comprehensive waste audits on six types of government facilities across the province to determine how much solid waste is currently being generated by the Ontario government, how much is recyclable and how we can reduce the volume of waste.
Members will also know we even recycle furniture, if they have ever looked at the desks in their offices.
Mr Adams: I am grateful for that response. It seems to me that another weapon which the government has in the war against waste is procurement. Does the Ministry of Government Services take environmental concerns into account when placing orders for supplies needed by the various ministries?
Hon Mr Ward: The answer is yes. Indeed, the Ontario government purchases some $2 billion worth a year of supplies and services. We are deeply committed to being environmentally sensitive in that procurement. MGS is currently chairing an interministerial committee that will be making recommendations on environmentally sensitive products and services.
We have already taken the first steps by introducing a line of recycled products in our office products centre for sale to government. Six recycled products including bond paper, envelopes, toner cartridges for laser printers, presentation kits, storage cartons and packaging supplies will be available for sale in January. More recycled products are expected to be added to the inventory later in the spring.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Last May this House and this government embarked on a new era in social assistance policy. The aim of that new policy was to meet the real needs of real people and end the arbitrary use of discretionary rules by administrators and operators through the system in order to provide a new sense of dignity, a new purpose and new opportunities for people who are facing a crisis in their lives.
Yet over the last two days we have had instances come to us, through the press and otherwise, which tell us that homeless persons who resort to hostels, instead of having some maintenance available for them, are being cast out either into the streets or they have to subsist for basic needs with resort to charity, and, on the other hand, a young woman who wants to complete high school is unable to access social assistance.
Will the minister please tell us what is going on under this new regime? It seems to be contrary to the original purpose.
Hon Mr Beer: First of all, to the issue the member raises around the homeless, in the spring we sent out a directive -- and this goes back to a question he asked in the House last month when we had heard that there were people who were homeless who were applying for social assistance and being refused. We indicated that those who were homeless had a right to social assistance and it should be given to them. At the same time, we wanted to make clear that people could go to a hostel where they would receive shelter and food and where they are also eligible for a personal needs allowance.
So there were two options, if you want to put it in that sense, where the individual who was going to the welfare office was able to take assistance, but by the same token, if that individual was going a hostel that does not mean he or she could not receive the personal needs allowance. We wanted to make clear that homeless people had a right to receive social assistance and also that in the hostel that does not mean that is the only thing you receive -- just the food and shelter.
Mr Allen: In that particular case it appears that in the hands of the Metropolitan Toronto social services department that special needs allowance is in fact being denied. On the one hand, you may go to a hostel where you may receive board and room, and both halves of your social assistance allowance will be denied. Apparently there is no further allowance in place for those persons and there are shelters in the community which are in fact denying persons the right to access if they are receiving assistance of any other form. This puts them in a very serious catch-22 situation, as I am sure the minister would appreciate.
Hon Mr Beer: The honourable member is quite right that there has been at times a problem in the Metro system around that personal needs allowance. That has been partly because of some administrative problems. We have had discussions in making clear that individuals in hostels are eligible for the personal needs allowance and we hope we have been able to rectify that problem.
I would want to make very clear that no one should be refused entry to a hostel, that there are those who chose to take the larger allowance and not go into the hostel and are receiving that support for food and shelter, as well. But the individual going into the hostel is eligible for the personal needs allowance.
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister most likely chose not to act on behalf of the tourism hospitality industry when the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) brought in his commercial concentration tax on parking lots and large commercial buildings in the greater Metro Toronto area. This tax will result in parking fees rising by 142 per cent and undermine Ontario’s competitive tourism hospitality industry.
Is the minister not a little bit worried about the effect this is going to have on tourism in Toronto, and what is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Black: The member will know there are many factors which affect tourism in this province and which would cause concern both for operators and for the minister responsible for tourism. He has identified taxation as one of those problems and certainly I share views with my friend the Treasurer on that question on a regular basis.
But I want him to know we are concerned about many other factors which are equally damaging to the prospects for tourism in this province. We are looking, for example, at questions as to why the number of visitors to Ontario is on the decline. We are looking at questions as to why fewer people within Ontario are travelling within their own province. We recognize that there is no one single answer to a very complex question.
Mr McLean: If the minister is offering his views, it certainly does not appear that the Treasurer is listening -- the increased taxes on gasoline, the increased sales tax, the increased tax on this commercial concentration with regard to parking. It does not appear that the minister has any input in cabinet with the Treasurer of the province of Ontario. What is the minister going to do to help the tourist industry stay viable here in Toronto and Ontario?
Hon Mr Black: We know the member for Simcoe East would very much welcome the opportunity to be able to have some input within cabinet. Unfortunately, the people of Ontario have not seen fit to provide him with that opportunity.
Recognizing his very significant interest in the tourist industry, I would like to ask the member for Simcoe East what he is going to do to deal with his federal counterparts, who this past year have decreased funding for tourism marketing by over $10 million. I ask the member for Simcoe East, what is he going to do to talk to his federal cousins about their lack of support for tourism across this country?
Mr Speaker, I know you will want to know and the member for Simcoe East will want to know that far more damaging than any tax that the provincial government is going to levy will be the effect of the goods and services tax. I ask the member for Simcoe East, what is he going to do to talk to Michael Wilson about the impact of the GST on tourism in Ontario?
The Speaker: Perhaps the member for Simcoe East could answer that at some later time.
Mr Kormos: A question of the Solicitor General: The Solicitor General promised some time ago that he was going to present a new Police Act to this House before the end of 1989. It is not a new promise, because the promise had been made by his predecessor. She promised that she was going to present a new Police Act. She did not keep her promise and I am wondering whether the current Solicitor General intends to keep his.
Hon Mr Offer: It is my intention that I will be introducing a new Police Act in this Legislature before Christmas.
Mr Kormos: I am wondering if the Solicitor General appreciates the importance of issues like an independent public complaints procedure across the province. I am wondering if he appreciates the importance of monitoring alarms and, indeed, the importance of a whole number of issues, including police commission appointments. Is the Police Act going to be comprehensive and is it going to address all those things that have been the subject of debate in this Legislature for a number of years now?
Hon Mr Offer: I have indicated earlier that I very much agree with the principle of a public complaints system across this province, and we will be working towards its implementation.
Mr Wiseman: I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As the minister knows, Canada Packers in Burlington, as of 19 January, will cease to slaughter cattle. The majority of cattle farmers in eastern Ontario have always sent their finished livestock to this plant and, as a result of the closure, they must find a market farther away. They will have to shoulder increased transportation costs at a time when the agricultural economy is already suffering.
Is this another example of the minister’s commitment to the farmers of eastern Ontario? What advice can he give the farmers of Lanark and Renfrew?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank the member for the question. I would like to question the questioner about the premise of his question, though, that a plant closing happens to reflect on my policy towards cattlemen in this province. Not at all.
What we are seeing is a rationalization of that industry. I am working very closely with the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association on its blueprint plan, which it has developed in partnership with us. That plan is working very well and I think we can beat this rationalization back and have a good and viable cattle operation and business in this province.
Mr Wiseman: I wonder if this minister and this government care a darn about farmers in eastern Ontario.
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr Wiseman: As the minister knows, this is the fifth plant in Ontario to close this year. The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association that he mentioned says it is seeing the results of government inaction. The ministry issued a report last year -- maybe the minister does not know about it, but it issued a report in which it concluded that this government was not competing with western provinces in aiding the processing plants and that the industry in this province faced an almost immediate drastic reduction. We are seeing this -- five plants closed.
Why is the minister not acting on his own ministry’s study and what is he going to do about this very serious situation?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am glad the member has finally brought up the nub of this problem, which is really that we do not have a level playing field in this country. We see western treasuries starting to compete in giving their farmers programs that obviously put them in an extremely competitive position. On Sunday night I will be meeting with my confreres from across the province and Mazankowski, the federal Minister of Agriculture, and bringing this very point to him. We are working together with the ministers of agriculture in the other provinces to make sure we have a level playing field for the cattlemen in this country so that the Ontario cattle industry can be strong in the future.
INTERVAL AND TRANSITION HOUSES
Mr Kanter: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I was recently contacted by Barbara Thornber of the Young Women’s Christian Association regarding the future of Stop 86, Metropolitan Toronto’s emergency shelter for young women. When I learned that Stop 86 faced severe financial difficulties, I helped to arrange a meeting between representatives of the Y, which operates Stop 86, and officials of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Can the ministry advise on the outcome of that meeting?
Hon Mr Beer: I want to thank my colleague for the work that he has undertaken in trying to help Stop 86. I think we have recognized that they perform an essential service and they, along with others, are providing very needed help. We were concerned about the financial situation, and as the honourable member points out, on 29 November there was a meeting between officials of my ministry and Stop 86 which has led to a grant of $45,000 to help deal with the immediate problem that Stop 86 faces.
It is our hope that that will assist in dealing with the immediate problem that they find themselves in.
Mr Kanter: I appreciate the quick and positive response of the minister and his staff in responding to this situation with a grant of $45,000. However, as I understand it, the agency faces a total financial shortfall in the vicinity of $200,000, and I am wondering if the minister could advise whether his positive response is being matched or is likely to be matched by other levels of government or the voluntary sector.
Hon Mr Beer: On 1 December, we met with officials from Metropolitan Toronto to look at the particular base-funding problem that was being faced by Stop 86 and indeed by several other shelters that are involved with women in Metro Toronto. We believe that out of those discussions we have some proposals which will meet the longer-term problem. It is my understanding that Metro will be looking at these proposals early in January. If they are favourably disposed to them, we would then be able to go forward and, I think, provide the kind of support to Stop 86 and to three of the other shelters in Metropolitan Toronto that would deal with that fundamental issue.
I was also pleased to note in today’s paper that the city of Toronto council has provided a grant of $25,000 as well to Stop 86. I think collectively, and with Stop 86, we will be able to put it on a much sounder financial footing for the future.
SUPPORT AND CUSTODY ENFORCEMENT
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Attorney General. The Attorney General will know that the offices of support and custody of his ministry are supposed to enforce court orders for support across the province. In Sudbury there is a case load of 7,000, and there are seven clerks to deal with those 7,000 cases. Since 73 per cent of those cases are in default, will the Attorney General make a commitment here and now to adequately staff the Sudbury office?
Hon Mr Scott: I am very grateful for the honourable member’s question because I believe, as far as my ministry is concerned, there has been no initiative that has been more highly regarded in the last couple of years than the support and custody orders enforcement program. With the exception of the province of Manitoba, there is no other province in the country and few states in North America that have a program like this.
We began in Ontario with an enormous disadvantage in the sense that 85 per cent of the support orders that were made in the province, most of which involve young children, were not being honoured. We have reduced that rate in the sense that we have increased the compliance rate in slightly under two years from 15 per cent to about 27 per cent, a very significant achievement.
We have very large backlogs. We are working very hard to provide a high level of service, and although I cannot do it by having a reception for them, I am anxious to pay my tribute to the staff of the department, who have worked so very hard. That is particularly true in the Sudbury district, where the demand is very great. But, as the honourable member will know, while all is not yet perfect, we have made very great strides in collecting these orders.
Mr Laughren: I will try again. I have asked the Attorney General if he would make a commitment to increase the staff at the Sudbury office so that it can get on with doing the job that it so much wants to do and that, I think the Attorney General should understand, all of us want to see it able to do.
Surely to goodness the Attorney General understands that many of these are women. Christmas is coming. They find that there is a huge waiting list because they are all dealing with files going back to 1987 and 1988. So when anyone comes in with new files, they are put at the bottom of the list. There is an enormous backlog and they end up going to a lawyer, which, of course, costs them big bucks. Why will the Attorney General not make a commitment to adequately staff that office?
Hon Mr Scott: I am quite sympathetic to the honourable member’s concern and I would like to make the commitment he seeks and would like to meet with him privately to discuss it. But I suppose our conversation would be taped and, thereafter, where would either of us be?
I am very concerned to see that the staff of the office is as effectively utilized as possible. Like every other government ministry that runs an important social program, we are anxious to provide as effective and useful a service as we can. It is my pledge to the honourable member that we will be bringing in some changes in the program which I believe will make it operate more efficiently and effectively in the public service.
I am very grateful for my honourable friend’s question and for questions and a statement made the other day by the honourable member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) which made some useful suggestions for the conduct of the office. I will bear those very much in mind.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. One area that this government must start warning customers about is the harmful effects of foods containing palm and coconut oils. Medical studies have shown there to be a high correlation in the use of saturated fats and heart disease. Coconut oil, for instance, contains some 90 per cent saturated fats, while palm oil contains some 50 per cent. By contrast, domestically produced canola has six per cent of saturated fats, and soya oil has only 13 per cent.
Would the minister consider labelling as foods that you should be very careful with those that contain palm and coconut oil?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am very pleased that the member is trying to give powers to me that I do not have at this time, but I share the concern the member has about food labelling. Obviously, we are looking at developing Canada-wide standards and I am working with the other ministers in doing this. But I think what the member has pointed out also is right, that there are great products grown in Ontario, such as soya oil and canola -- which is an-up and-coming product for sure, a product that grows very well in all of Ontario and is being very successfully grown in northern Ontario -- that are very safe and, in the case of canola, have zero cholesterol. I think there is a great future for those oils.
Mr Villeneuve: Foodland Ontario, and the minister has touched on it, is a most important project. I think Foodland Ontario should take the initiative to show our consumers that we do have grown in Ontario same alternatives to the palm oil -- our soya -- and I think it should be at least publicized by Foodland Ontario.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am glad the member is supportive of the Foodland Ontario program, because I agree with the member that it is very important that we promote the products grown in this province. The products grown in this province are some of the healthiest products grown anywhere in the world. I think we can go a long way in talking to our consumer and telling the consumer in Ontario that Ontario produce needs to be supported and it is some of the healthiest around the world.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. I will not have time for the supplementary, but we will go ahead.
We have had, between 1 November 1988 and 31 October 1989, eight fatal accidents, 11 people killed and 290 injured on the section of Highway 401 in the Woodstock area.
Speeding is one of the main causes of traffic accidents. I understand there is a method used in European countries where a camera is located on a bridge overpass which records the vehicle, the licence number, the speed and the time of day.
When there has been a violation of the traffic act, a summons is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Can you advise this House if there is such equipment, if this type of equipment could be effective on province of Ontario highways and also, if the minister has time, tell us about trucks and things like that?
Hon Mr Wrye: I thank the honourable member for his question. He raises a very important issue, and that is the issue of fatalities, not only on his road but on others, and the solutions that we might find.
I am aware, as the honourable member points out, that in countries like Germany and Australia such a system exists. We are continuing to look at the system, but while certain aspects of the system are attractive to us, I would just say to the honourable member that it has the one failure of not being able to identify the driver of the car. It can identify the vehicle, the licence number and a lot of other things, but in terms of our enforcement policies, our enforcement has been driven towards the responsibility of the driver, who, when speeding, for example, at certain times may pick up demerit points.
It would cause a complete reversal of our policy and as such, while it is one which, on the surface, looks attractive, it is one which we do not see in the final analysis looking attractive.
Mr Tatham: In view of the fact that we will have longer trucks on our highways, I have had suggestions made to me that they should be slowed down and legislated to stay in the right lane only except for passing. I would appreciate the minister’s comments.
Hon Mr Wrye: I just say to the honourable member, again, this is an issue which has been looked at and, as he knows, from time to time there have been differential speeds for cars and trucks in a number of jurisdictions. One of the problems with that is that differential speeds are not the safest way to move traffic along our busy throughways. A constant speed appropriately followed by all drivers leads to the safest possible situation, so we are not drawn towards a situation where a 90-kilometre-an-hour speed limit for trucks might be appropriate and where cars would be driving 100 kilometres an hour.
One of the things we need to do is ensure that those trucks or indeed those cars do not go far beyond the speed limit, that all people adhere to the speed limit. Then, and only then, will our highways and our roadways generally be as safe as they possibly can.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr Neumann: This being the national day of concern on the cutbacks to VIA Rail, I have 1,600 names here -- people from my riding and from surrounding tidings; Norfolk, Cambridge, Wentworth and so on -- objecting to the drastic cutbacks to Via Rail and urging the government of Ontario to pressure the federal government to reverse its decision.
ANIMALS FOR RESEARCH
Mr Wildman: I have a petition to the Legislature requesting that the Parliament of Ontario pass into law a bill prohibiting the use of animals in cosmetic and product testing; that is, Bill 190.
This petition is signed by approximately 1,000 residents of mostly southern Ontario communities and it now brings the total of signatures on this petition to approximately 73,000. I support it and I have affixed my signature to it.
PRINCE EDWARD HEIGHTS FACILITY
Mr MacDonald: I have a petition with 260 signatures addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas we are employees of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Prince Edward Heights, in and around the counties of Prince Edward, Hastings and Lennox; and
“Whereas Prince Edward Heights is currently the highest diversified schedule I facility within the ministry; and
“Whereas we as an organization will continue to diversify; and
“Whereas we are requesting a special-case exclusion from the divestment process of the ministry’s multi-year plan;
“We request that the House refrain from divesting or closing the Prince Edward Heights Facility.”
I affix my signature to this petition.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE / COMITÉ PERMANENT DE L’ADMINISTRATION DE LA JUSTICE
Mr Polsinelli from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
M. Polsinelli du Comité permanent de l’administration de la justice présente le rapport suivant et propose son adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 49, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy in Municipalities and Local Boards.
Projet de loi 49, Loi prévoyant l’accès a l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans les municipalités et les conseils locaux.
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 52, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Enactment of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adopteé.
The Speaker: Shall Bill 49 be ordered for third reading?
Mr Sterling: No.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
La projet de loi est déféré au comité plénier de la Chambre.
The Speaker: Shall Bill 52 be ordered for third reading?
Mr Sterling: No.
Hon Mr Elston: You’re being a jerk.
Mr Sterling: You are.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE OMBUDSMAN
Mr Velshi from the standing committee on the Ombudsman presented the committee’s 18th annual report and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
On motion by Mr Velshi, the debate was adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
MUNICIPAL STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Mr Sweeney moved first reading of Bill 90, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and certain other Acts related to Municipalities.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Sweeney: Very briefly, this bill gives municipalities greater flexibility to determine how they will collect sewer and water charges.
It also gives regional governments the authority to enter into agreements with other municipalities for the management of municipal services.
This legislation transfers dog licensing provisions from the Dog Licensing and Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act, administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, to the Municipal Act, administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
The bill also gives municipalities more flexibility in how they regulate parking.
Finally, it ensures that microfilm copies of municipal documents will be acceptable as evidence in court.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MINING AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr O’Neil moved third reading of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act.
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Mr Pouliot: Mr Speaker, with regard and with high respect to your competence, by convention and tradition most recently people have expressed a few words, or were given that opportunity, even at third reading.
The Speaker: There have been occasions when members have wished to speak to third reading. Is that the request that the member is making?
Mr Pouliot: Again by tradition, while not departing from our stand, because loyalty is one of the key words of our party, I just want to thank the minister. I said before that I would welcome the opportunity to speak on third reading, it is so seldom that we agree with the government.
The Mining Act has not been revised in any significant way since 1906. It was just this morning that I received some phone calls asking, “Is it true that it will finally be passed?” so I join with the ministry in saying this is a cause for mild celebration.
But let’s not wait when problems need to be addressed. Let’s be somewhat more expeditious so that the people in the marketplace will be able to benefit from some sort of guidance. Let’s not wait as long as we have in the past.
Motion agreed to.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Scott moved second reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Hon Mr Scott: It will seem odd to some members that we are moving today second reading of a bill designed to amend Bills 2 and 3, which have not yet been proclaimed and which, I think, were passed some 10 days ago. I should explain to honourable members that when Bills 2 and 3 were introduced in the House it was our expectation, or at least our hope, that the bills would be passed and proclaimed by the end of June so that the Attorney General of Canada would be able to act on them promptly.
Some members of the judiciary and the bar complained that this would not provide an adequate period for comment on what they regarded as a reasonably complex and important piece of legislation. As a result, we indicated to them that an amending bill would be introduced before the first bill, Bill 2, was proclaimed. In the reality, it became unnecessary to do that because Bills 2 and 3 were not debated at second or third reading until this autumn, but it was considered desirable and in the interests of amity to continue with our undertaking.
We have also, as members will see from Bill 81’s contents, had the advantage of further comments that have been made by members of the House, particularly our two distinguished critics, in the course of the debate on Bills 2 and 3 and have had the opportunity to incorporate same of those proposals in the bill before us.
The most significant change proposed in Bill 81 is the creation of the office of Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court (General Division). As members will know, Bill 2 did not create this office, nor did it create a parallel office for Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division).
However, the federal minister, who of course is responsible under the Constitution for appointments to the General Division, was firmly of the view and expressed his strong opinion that the office of Associate Chief Justice was needed for the General Division. He has requested us to put before the House this change.
Fully one third of the rest of the provisions of Bill 81 are consequential changes that are necessary by virtue of the establishment of the office of Associate Chief Justice of the General Division. The remainder of the provisions in the bill are largely technical in nature and, as I have said, most of them result from requests made by members of the various courts respecting changes affecting the particular courts.
I should advise members that we do have two small amendments to propose to this bill in committee of the whole House. I believe our critics have copies of those amendments. They deal with the provisions relating to the courts management advisory committees, which are established not only for the province but for each of the eight regions. These amendments are intended to deal with some concerns I have heard in this House and from some few lawyers and judges about the interpretation to be given to those enacting provisions.
I have always regarded, as has the staff of the ministry, that these sections were clear as they stood, but we do recognize that others have been concerned that there may be some potential impact in the provisions of those sections in respect of independence of the judiciary. There has never been any intention, and there is not now any intention, to entrench in the slightest on judicial independence, which all members of the House regard as an important constitutional principle.
What the bill is designed to do is create a formal consultation mechanism in which the stakeholders in the system will have an opportunity to consult with each other and to make recommendations to appropriate deciding bodies about how the administration of justice in the province can best be affected. I believe Bill 2 intended to achieve that result and I hope the amendments that we will be proposing today will make that clear.
I will be very grateful -- I hope it is not premature to say it -- for the co-operation of the members in assuring that the bill will achieve reasonably expeditious passage.
Mr Kormos: We are going to co-operate and ensure the speedy passage of this particular bill. One thing I will tell members, though, and I join with others who might make this comment, is that had the matter not been proceeded with so speedily and had there not been so much haste, it would not have been necessary to bring amendments like this to bills that were rammed through, notwithstanding the concerns raised by a number of groups and individuals to the effect that they had not had sufficient opportunity to raise their concerns about them.
I would also want to remind the Attorney General (Mr Scott) that if he -- and l am sure he is, as are all of us -- is concerned about the effective and efficient administration of justice in the province, he would pay attention to areas like the Niagara region, in particular Niagara South, and recognize that the greatest single impediment we have in Niagara South to an efficient and reasonably speedy administration of justice is the lack of courtroom facilities.
He has told this Legislature more than once that we are on the short list, and that is to say that Niagara South is on the short list. Niagara South deals with a courtroom facility for the district courts that is over 100 years old and, although majestic in its structure, is totally inadequate in terms of accommodating the courts that are designed to take place there. It has to deal with provincial courts that are scattered about in temporary and rented facilities which in no way, shape or form lend those courts the majesty which ought to be accorded them and which indeed generate a level of danger for the participants in the proceedings and for the judges because they are not designed with security in mind.
These facilities range from rented community halls to rented plaza facilities. They do not have adequate facilities for containing prisoners, they do not have adequate facilities for protecting the physical safety of judges, witnesses, officers of the court or other participants in the proceedings. As I say, they do little to add grace to the proceedings themselves; indeed the proceedings are trivialized by virtue of the environment that they take place in.
So I would urge the Attorney General to, if he would, reciprocate the co-operation. We are so pleased to vote in support of Bill 81. At the same time, we would be so very pleased to see the Attorney General expedite the development of a new courtroom facility in the city of Welland to serve Niagara South, a courtroom facility that would maintain the historical role of Welland as the county seat and at the same time recognize the increased needs and expanded needs of the provincial, the district and, of course, the Supreme Court benches there.
I can say we have in Niagara, and certainly in Niagara South, an outstanding bench and an excellent leading bar who are more than eager to get to work and make sure that cases proceed with the utmost speed and with only the most reasonable delay. They are stymied, they are hamstrung in those efforts by virtue of the facilities that are -- I should not say available -- not available to them.
The real way of making the administration of justice speedier and more efficient in Niagara is to improve the facilities made available to the courts in that area. I would urge the Attorney General to pay some speedy attention to that particular matter. I would be mare than pleased to co-operate with him. He can drive down with me or I will drive down with him, whichever way he prefers. We can go in either the convertible or the truck, but I am serious about the need for courtroom facilities. We are in dire need. It is a disgrace and it certainly does not lend the courts the respect that they ought to have and that they deserve.
Mr Sterling: I think it is a bit ironic that we are dealing with Bill 81 today, in that we had sort of a similar experience yesterday in the standing committee on administration of justice on another two bills that were reported to the Legislature today, Bills 49 and 52, dealing with the municipal freedom of information legislation.
Before I start commenting with regard to the process, which I think is probably more important than this minor bill, it is nice to have the Attorney General here today with us in the Legislature dealing with same of his legislation. I would only comment that when the difficult bills are there, like Bills 2 and 3, the ones that have complexity, he sends out his parliamentary assistant to do the tough work, but when we are dealing with what I would call a relatively minor bill, Bill 81, which really is trying to clean up the mess that was created by the Attorney General earlier, in walks the Attorney General.
The Attorney General is here this afternoon to hear debate, but unfortunately most of the debate took place last June, last August and last month. As he has mentioned in his opening remarks, Bill 81 ironically is brought to the Legislature for second reading only 10 days after we passed Bills 2 and 3. I think it is important for the public to understand exactly what happened with the process, and really the arrogance of the government and how they deal with legislation.
I just want to relay to the Speaker, because you will be interested in this, Mr Speaker, that last Monday we had public hearings in the justice committee on Bills 49 and 52, fairly complicated legislation although somewhat familiar to many members of the committee because the freedom-of-information legislation that is being dealt with for municipalities is very similar to the provincial legislation. We had public hearings on Monday which ended at 5:15 pm.
I do not know how much the government really listens to public hearings, but I suspect it would at least want to give the impression that it was listening to what the public had to say, considering what the public had to say and perhaps amending the legislation that was in front of the committee. But no, as soon as the public hearings were over, the government members of the committee insisted on going ahead on the clause-by-clause analysis of Bills 49 and 52. They agreed, after some argument put forward by me, that we would at least postpone that until Tuesday.
As you know, Mr Speaker, yesterday we were dealing in this Legislature with Bill 68. At that time, I wanted to be in the Legislature, as did most people in the justice committee. The member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) wanted to be in the Legislature as well on Bill 68. He is very much interested in the no-fault insurance bill. In fact, I was amazed to see that the Attorney General was here neither for the debate nor for the vote.
Hon Mr Scott: It is not my bill.
Mr Sterling: I know, but I know that the Attorney General gives it his full support.
The point of all this is to say that yesterday I put forward a motion in the justice committee to say: “Let’s wait for a little while so we can at least take the public submissions, break them down section by section and consider what they have said to the justice committee in our deliberations on the clause-by-clause analysis of the bill. If they make a good suggestion on section 15 or whatever section, we will be able to consider that as an amendment before the committee and either accept it or reject it.” No way was the justice committee going to have anything to do with that.
I suggested that because two members of the justice committee in the opposition, all the opposition members, wanted to be in the Legislature to deal with the no-fault insurance bill, we suspend the committee for that purpose. No way was that going to happen. What happened yesterday was that another member of the public wanted to come in and make a submission to the committee. So in they came and made the submission to the justice committee.
In frustration, I threw up my hands and said: “I have prepared my amendments. Here they are in writing to the members of the justice committee. I am not trying to hide anything. This is what I think my amendments are, but perhaps I will have others after I see the analysis of what has happened with the others.”
I think the height of arrogance came not 15 or 20 minutes ago in this Legislature, Mr Speaker, because as you know, when a bill is reported to you from a committee, it is a right in the standing orders of this Legislative Assembly that any committee can request that a bill go into committee of the whole House so that we can deal with the sections. That is where I intended to put forward my amendments. The government knew that, the Chairman of Management Board (Mr Elston) knew that -- I told him yesterday that I wanted to put forward my amendments -- and the Chairman of Management Board utters across the floor that l am a jerk.
Hon Mr Scott: What?
Mr Sterling: That is what the Chairman of Management Board called me today, a jerk --
Hon Mr Scott: I would never say such a thing myself.
Mr Sterling: -- a jerk for doing what in fact the standing orders permit me to do as a member of the Legislature and what I have a duty to do as a member of the opposition, presenting amendments to legislation in a constructive fashion. That is the height of arrogance of this government. When you use the right to debate in this Legislature, they call you a jerk.
That is because there are few rules which protect the right of members of this Legislature to debate, and this government with 94 members does not want debate. They do not want to listen to members of the public, to have them come into the committees of this Legislature and present what they consider constructive suggestions in regard to legislation. The members of this government want it their way all the time.
Unfortunately, by not listening to the public, we have the result, as shown today, of Bill 81. Bills 2 and 3 were introduced in this Legislature on 1 May 1989, two pieces of legislation which were very detailed and complex pieces. On or about the third or fourth week of June, the justice committee started to have hearings with regard to these bills, and we heard in front of that justice committee that the people who wanted to make submissions needed more time to look at Bills 2 and 3 in order to analyse them and make suggestions to the committee.
The justice committee met again in early August of this year, 2 or 3 August I believe, and at that time again the public groups, particularly the bar of Ontario through the Canadian Bar Association and the Advocates’ Society, had not prepared their briefs to the committee so that we could consider what they said in a constructive way.
At that time the member for Welland-Thorold, myself and the member for Ottawa South (Mr McGuinty) supported a motion to not report the bill to the Legislature until the first or second week of October, when in fact the Legislature was going to reconvene, as happened on 10 October. There really were no negatives to leaving it open so that if in fact a group wanted to come in, the justice committee could reconvene, could hear what they said, make their determination and be done with it. No. The Liberal members on the justice committee, save and except the member for Ottawa South, said:
“We’re going to ram this through. We’re going to report it to the Legislature.”
What happens when it comes back in the Legislature? I said no when the Speaker said, “Shall this bill be called for third reading?” I forced it back into the committee of the whole House and I guess, according to the Chairman of the Management Board, I am a jerk again because I am asking for the --
Mr Breaugh: A guy has got to be right once in a while.
Mr Sterling: Unfortunately, I think there may be the odd --
Mr Ballinger: I would like you to notice I didn’t say a word.
Mr Sterling: Yes, I know. I forced it into committee of the whole House, and at that time we were able to go through amendments to the bill. Again, I felt we did not deal adequately with Bills 2 and 3 because by August the government itself, from 1 May to 1 August, had discovered 45 errors in Bills 2 and 3, and had presented 45 amendments. I presented 10 or 11 amendments during that hearing, and there were some minor amendments accepted by the government during the committee of the whole House.
Now Bill 81 again has I believe 24 sections to it, so 45 amendments plus 24 makes 69 amendments to this bill since 1 May. We were concerned because this bill deals with the structure and jurisdictions of various courts in our province. We were concerned that a case would come before the courts and that it would be decided on the basis of lack of jurisdiction by one court or the other or the inability of one judge to hear a certain matter, or that the mixup in the structure of the courts would in fact interfere with the case being decided on the merits of that particular case.
I do believe, however, through the parliamentary assistant, perhaps the Attorney General might be learning a little bit about the process as he is going through Bills 2 and 3 and Bill 81. It is my firm belief that members of this Legislature, when dealing particularly with legislation surrounding the Ministry of the Attorney General, save and except pieces of legislation like Bill 194, are not of a political nature and that the amendments are put forward, generally in good faith, to try to deal with the issues in the best manner possible. Of course, there is always a colour of politics in any amendment that is put forward because there are two sides to the argument, either in support or against a particular amendment that is put forward.
But I do want to say that I have tried, and the members of our caucus have tried, to be constructive in dealing with most of the legislation that has been brought forward by the Attorney General. In fact, the Attorney General knows that some of the legislation which he has passed in this Legislative Assembly over the past three years has not been because it has been high on his priority list, but because I have intervened at the House leaders’ meeting and asked the New Democratic Party, the other opposition party, if it has any objection to a smaller or minor bill so that we can get on with it and get it out of the way. That has in fact happened from time to time, as we have gone over the past three years.
I just want to say that I am extremely disappointed in how Bills 2 and 3 have been handled. I think it is an indication of the inability of the Liberal members on the justice committee to act independently, save and except I will give the member for Ottawa South. There was one indication of some degree of independence on his part when his senses came to him with regard to how the process should work.
But if we have a complicated piece of legislation that is introduced by the government, we want to give that legislation at least some time to gestate, so that the people who are involved will have the time to examine it, will have the time to come and give us their free advice, free advice to the legislators on how it can be improved, and worthwhile amendments can be put forward and considered by members of this assembly and we can deal with it in a really meaningful way.
I have read Bill 81. It deals with a whole scattering and smattering of matters, many of which were raised during the committee hearings on Bills 2 and 3. We have no great objection to any of those and will be supporting Bill 81 on second reading.
Hon Mr Scott: I will just make a short remark. First, I am grateful to the critics of the ministry for their assistance and I should say to my honourable friend who spoke last that I am aware that consultation is important and the role of members of this House in making proposals is important.
I think it is useful to remember that the genesis of this merger bill really goes back to 1974. The debate has been going on in this province about Bills 2 and 3 essentially for 15 years. The member and I and the honourable member for Welland-Thorold belong to a profession which is noble and distinguished, but which does not always move all the time everywhere at top speed. Thus it was that, when this bill was introduced after 15 years of discussion, the Canadian Lawyer magazine said that we were committed to a rush to judgement in respect of merger, notwithstanding that it had already taken place in eight other Canadian provinces.
We are moving, and the process of getting the bill into committee and through the House has been an important and useful one and I am grateful for the changes. I would not want the honourable member who spoke last to think that each amendment is an error. Each amendment is frequently an effort to accommodate a concern or an anxiety about the impact of the bill, or indeed a demand.
A third of the amendments in Bill 81 before the House arise as a result of the request of the Attorney General of Canada that there should be an Associate Chief Justice of the General Division court, even though the judges of that court did not make that request themselves. The amendments members see before them are not a result of error; they are a result really of the consultation process and the work, I credit, of the honourable members.
To the honourable member who spoke last, I have noted that in the four years I have been here, much of the legislation I have had the honour to introduce has been supported by him in one measure or another, and he regards this last four years in the nonpartisan world of judicial reform as a Garden of Eden of legislative change. All the things I know the honourable member for years had high on his list are now, with his help and support, being done and taking place, from freedom of information to Bill 2. I am delighted to have the honourable member not on our side in political terms but in the work of significant reform supporting, by and large, these amendments and commenting on how they can be improved.
I just draw the line at one matter. To assert that the parliamentary assistant who has worked long and hard on this messed-up Bill 2 and that I had to come to his rescue is entirely wrong. His efforts, as I know the honourable member accepts, were noble, and indeed I am sure the bill was passed with greater alacrity and enthusiasm on all sides than if I had been here myself.
To the member for Welland-Thorold, let me say that one of the first visits I made after I became Attorney General in 1985 was to Welland to see the facilities in the historic but ancient district courthouse and in the provincial and family division. I have had occasion, from time to time, to meet with the members of the bar in that district and with the judges to discuss their circumstances.
Indeed, it was really the circumstances in Welland that led the government to accept my suggestion that a province-wide priority list should be prepared. We were not happy to continue any longer with a situation in which attorneys general or officers of the government moved out to a district and said, “We will put a courthouse here or there.” We wanted the people of the province to understand that there was an open process and they would see through that process and their own submissions as part of it a public list of the order in which the government proposed to do things.
We established that process three years ago by sending demographic studies of each district, except Ottawa and St Catharines where there were new courthouses, to the 47 other districts in the province and getting local input. As a result of that process, Welland, l am happy to say to the honourable member, took its place on the first priority list which was projects that the government hoped it would be able to undertake in the first five years of our mandate. I think Welland is either number 7 or number 9 on the first five-year priority list.
We are moving through that list, never with the speed that we would like but at a reasonable pace so that the five-year plan, if I can use a planning phrase more familiar to members of the opposition than to me, can be accomplished. I understand I think, as fully as any outsider could, the needs of Welland. I am responsive to them and I am glad that they have found their place on the priority list. Hopefully work will start before the five-year plan is completed.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
The First Deputy Chair: I have an indication to date of two amendments from the government. Are there any other amendments?
Mr Sterling: I believe the standing orders do not permit us to consider second reading and committee of the whole House on the same day. I am not denying unanimous consent. I am quite willing to give that, but should that not be called for or should a member raise an objection? I would just like to make certain it is done properly.
The First Deputy Chair: Without quoting the actual standing order, I believe that the standing orders now say that you can move to a second stage of a bill unless 12 members object. I did not see any members objecting. It would be standing order 77, “No bill shall pass unless it receives three readings and the date of each reading shall be certified on the bill by the Clerk of the House,” and, “A bill shall not pass more than one stage on one day if opposed by 12 members standing in their places.”
Are there any other amendments anyone would like us to consider? The two that I have are an amendment to subsection 18(2) of the bill and an amendment to subsection 20(2) of the bill. Are there any other amendments from any members?
Sections 1 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Scott moved that section 18 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(2) Subsection 92(3) of the said act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1989, chapter 55, section 3, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(3) The function of the committee is to consider and recommend to the relevant bodies or authorities policies and procedures to promote the better administration of justice and the effective use of human and other resources in the public interest.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
Section 19 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Scott moved that section 20 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(2) Subsection 92b(3) of the said Act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1989, chapter 55, section 3, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(3) The function of the committee is to consider and recommend to the relevant bodies or authorities policies and procedures for the region to promote the better administration of justice and the effective use of human and other resources in the public interest.”
Mr Sterling: This is the last amendment to Bill 81. I expect that probably I will get another chance before Christmas to comment on Bills 2 and 3, because I guess we still have another 24 hours to introduce bills that could amend this bill.
I only want to point out that we are in committee of the whole House. We have gone through introduction of the bill, which was amended in August, which was amended in November, which was amended on 23 November on the introduction of this bill and which is now being amended again.
That is five sets of amendments to the original. I just hope they have it right this time. If they had taken a little more care and precaution, they might have not only picked up the 71 amendments now to the bill as proposed on 1 May 1989, but there may have been other problems that could have been ferreted out and dealt with before we had finally passed Bills 2 and 3 in their original form.
Motion agreed to.
Section 20, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 21 to 27, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
LAND TRANSFER TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Mancini moved second reading of Bill 48, An Act to amend the Land Transfer Tax Act.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon Mr Mancini: A very brief statement; I know we are pressed for time.
Members of the Legislature are already somewhat familiar with the Land Transfer Tax Amendment Act, 1989. The act was presented for first reading on 18 July of this year. I would like to remind the House that certain amendments to Bill 48 will be put forward following second reading. The nature of these amendments was outlined in a statement I gave to the House on 7 November.
In the statement I made the following points. These changes primarily address administrative refinements, including tax relief for certain unregistered transfers of a beneficial interest in land within the same corporate group and exempting sales of units in mutual funds and certain changes in partnership profit structures. Tax relief will also be provided in some cases where shareholders of a corporation divide its assets. Further, the changes will ensure that tax deferrals, exemptions and refunds are extended to unregistered transfers.
I also noted at that time that agreements that were in writing and under way on or before 18 July 1989 would be exempted. The main purpose of Bill 48 is to prevent the erosion of the traditionally broad base of land transfer tax. This legislation will reinforce the evenhanded treatment of taxpayers and block abusive transactions that may otherwise escape tax.
That is the purpose of the bill.
Ms Bryden: I would like to ask if the minister would consider tabling the amendments which apparently have already been drafted. He may assume we do not need them until we get to the clause-by-clause stage, but I think we cannot make intelligent speeches on second reading without seeing those amendments. He has not told us how many there are and I would like to remind him that he only gave us notice about the proposed amendments -- that is, his statement on the proposed amendments -- on 7 November, which is just one month before this.
The bill had been introduced by the previous Minister of Revenue on 18 July, just five days after the Land Transfer Tax Act that was in the budget had been passed. All of a sudden we had amendments heralded on 18 July, but only heard further about them on 7 November and we still do not have any copies of those amendments.
That is my first question. Will the minister tell us when we will get exact copies of the proposed amendments, and possibly, can we get them today?
The Deputy Speaker: Any other questions and comments on the minister’s statement? If not, would the minister wish to respond?
Ms Bryden: I have one.
The Deputy Speaker: You can only speak once. You have 22 seconds left if you want to ask your second question.
Hon Mr Mancini: I find myself somewhat concerned by what the honourable member says. This is not the first time we have made materials available to the member’s party and for some reason or another it does not reach her. There was a briefing given by my ministry officials that I believe their Treasury critic, the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren), attended. It is my understanding that he received all the information at the time. It is further my understanding that the Clerk has received the amendments we plan to make.
I say to the honourable member that we want to extend to her and her party every courtesy possible, but this is not the first time she has been unfairly critical of my staff, both my own personal staff and also the ministry staff. As far as we are concerned we are at her service and we want to make things available to her, but I do not think I can allow any further unfair criticism of staff when we have done everything that has been asked of us.
Ms Bryden: May I have my 22 seconds that I did not use?
The Deputy Speaker: I am asking for members to debate. If you want to make your points as part of your debate, you are quite welcome to. We are trying to find out from the clerk assistant at the table if the amendments have been received.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: No.
The Deputy Speaker: I have been told by the clerk assistant at the table that the minister’s amendments have not been received. This is being checked right now. Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Laughren: I apologize for my late entry into the debate. The standing committee on resources development is sitting this afternoon. I was somewhat surprised when the minister indicated a couple of weeks ago that he was proceeding with Bill 48, not because it is a bill of earth-shaking importance, but rather that there is so much to be done in the whole field of land transfer and the sale of property in general.
When I look at Bill 48 I wonder why the minister is doing so little when there is so much to be done. That is what puzzles me when the minister goes through the process of getting his bill drafted, getting it through cabinet -- I understand it is not easy to get a bill priority in cabinet -- and getting it debated. However, I am not surprised this bill went zipping through cabinet in a hurry because there is not enough in it to have engendered any debate within cabinet.
Perhaps the minister felt that if he were to do anything with the bill that was worth while, he would not get it through cabinet. Perhaps the minister will tell us a little bit about that later because the minister’s statement, when he made his opening statement on the bill, mainly stated what I understand the bill to be, to prevent properties that are held in trust from avoiding the land transfer tax when that property changes hands, and when it is held in trust no tax is paid when the transfer occurs.
I just wonder if the minister could find a better way in the explanatory notes of the bill. I will read it to him just to make sure he recalls the wording he must have approved: ‘The purpose of the bill is to extend the ambit of the Land Transfer Tax Act to certain dispositions of beneficial interests in land I think that means the sale of land.
I wonder why the minister, who is not a lawyer, gets sucked into this kind of wording and why he does not demand that an explanatory note, which is not an official part of the bill, should not obfuscate a bill in the way this wording does. ‘The purpose of the bill is to extend the ambit of the Land Transfer Tax Act to certain dispositions of beneficial interests in land, where the person receiving the beneficial interest has not registered a conveyance....”
If someone is looking for an easy explanation of this bill, they will not get it in the formal wording and now they are not going to get it in the explanatory notes, which are supposed to make a bill understandable for lay people out there across the province. “...where the person receiving the beneficial interest has not registered a conveyance evidencing the disposition and has not paid tax under section 2 of the act, in order to eliminate tax avoidance under the act through the use of a trust.”
I find it hard to believe that this minister who is one of the little people out there across the land, as am I, would want to approve that kind of language explaining the technical parts of a bill. Why in the world the minister would not say to his officials or to -- who are the people who draft the bills? -- legislative counsel, who I am very fond of and they do very fine work --
Mr Pope: Lawyers.
Mr Laughren: “Lawyers” is the word I was looking for. Those people who are so fond of fault insurance -- it is the same group, right? Yes, I thought it was the same group. Why this minister would allow that to be done to his bill, I do not know.
Section 1 does not get any --
Mr Laughren: Yes, my friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) is here. I am very happy.
Section 1 of the notes says, “The proposed section 2a of the act would impose a tax on certain dispositions of beneficial interests in land, payable 30 days after the disposition, equal to the amount of tax which would have been payable under section 2 if the disposition had been evidenced by a registered conveyance.”
Mr Haggerty: Would you mind repeating that?
Mr Laughren: Yes, I would mind repeating it. It goes on. I could read all of the explanatory notes but perhaps this is the kind of bill that will serve as notice to the minister that there has to be a better way to word the explanatory notes.
If the lawyers in his ministry have convinced him that he must use that kind of language in the actual bill itself in order to make it precise and to avoid any kinds of loopholes existing, fine, and I suppose he will have to go along with it, but I do not for a minute think he has to accept that kind of language in the explanatory notes of this or any other bill.
Enough about layman’s language. I just hope the minister will have some influence on his people. We have not even got to the Income Tax Act yet.
I said at the beginning there was much to be done in the whole area of taxing the transfer of land. For some time now, we in this party have been trying to convince this government that rather than simply a land transfer tax, we need a land speculation tax. What do the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the Minister of Revenue do? They increased the land transfer tax a year ago instead of having a speculation tax. A land transfer tax increased the tax on the transfer of land for everybody whether you were speculating in it or not.
What kind of answer was that? This is what the Treasurer said one time, “Rather than a speculation tax, I think we will increase the land transfer tax.” That penalizes everybody. What we wanted was a tax that would discourage speculation in land. Instead of that, we get this bill, Bill 48. I do not know why the minister bothered. I know it is going to eliminate some of the avoidance of transfer tax.
When I was briefed by the minister’s officials, I appreciated that briefing. They were very generous with their time and their comments. As a matter of fact, the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler) was at that briefing. I asked them about the revenues that were going to be generated from this tax and they did not know. So I am not sure how excited the minister is about this bill. Maybe he is not excited at all. No, I can see he is. My point is why the minister bothered with this bill when there was so much to do with the taxation of property that was being sold for speculative purposes. Now, it is fine, I know the minister or the Treasurer could say that the housing market has cooled off in Ontario and in Toronto in particular, but we have heard that for almost 10 years now, that housing prices have peaked. They do, they peak, they level off for a while, and then they start shooting up again. We think a year from now there is going to be another increase in the price of homes in anticipation of the federal goods and services tax, on which this government is hell bent to join forces with the federal government to impose it.
Hon Mr Mancini: That’s not true.
Mr Laughren: The Minister of Revenue says that is not true. Perhaps he was not here a week or two ago when we debated that very matter.
Hon Mr Mancini: You’re twisting the facts.
Mr Laughren: No, I am not twisting facts. The government would not support a resolution from us that this government would not co-operate with the federal government on a goods and services tax. You people are salivating. The Treasurer is salivating at the thought of the goods and services tax and of joining in with the federal government. I can tell members that is exactly what is happening.
A year from now, in anticipation of that increased tax on homes, there is going to be another increase in home prices and land prices and the government will again have done nothing about it. Now is the time to bring it in.
I do not think the minister really understands the history of this matter. Since this government was formed in 1985, I believe the average price of resale homes in Toronto -- I stand to be corrected by a point or two -- has gone up from something like $146,000 to almost $300,000. The price of homes has gone up dramatically, and this government has done --
Mr Hampton: Diddly-squat.
Mr Laughren: To quote my colleague the member for Rainy River, this government has done diddly-squat about containing the speculation in homes. I hope the minister understands that. I am surprised he bothered bringing in this bill.
When we move into committee of the whole House, I believe the minister wants to move some amendments and I shall be moving an amendment on this bill which will make it a bill worthy of passage in this chamber.
Hon Mr Mancini: Where is it?
Mr Laughren: It is on its way.
Hon Mr Mancini: It’s not much notice.
Mr Laughren: How many civil servants are in the Ministry of Revenue?
Mr Daigeler: They’re all busy collecting taxes.
Mr Laughren: That is right.
We are not the only people who think it is time that the government, rather than simply making minor amendments to the Land Transfer Tax Act, should make a major amendment to it in the form of a speculation tax. The minutes of the Metropolitan Toronto council indicate that it too would support such a bill. Let me tell you what they think, Mr Speaker.
“‘That the province of Ontario implement a land speculation tax which would be applied to all nonowner-occupied residential sales, including apartment buildings, at a rate of 65 per cent of the capital gain less the annual rate of inflation per year of ownership; that all revenue so derived be used to build and/or renovate affordable nonprofit housing within Metropolitan Toronto; to be known as the housing action fund;
“That this housing action fund be over and above existing and planned programs funded through general revenues; that should the province of Ontario not be prepared to administer this program, that it be requested to grant the necessary powers to implement these goals at the metropolitan level and that the province of Ontario be requested to increase the ceiling of the land transfer tax to $400,000.”
That was what Metropolitan Toronto’s community services and housing committee recommended. We had proposed an amendment that would be not quite as complex as that. We simply said we thought we would move this when we go into committee of the whole: that for land other than land used as a principal residence, if it is conveyed within one year of its last being conveyed, the tax payable is 100 per cent of the net profit of the disposition of the land, and if the land is conveyed within two years but more than one year after the last conveyance, the tax payable is 75 per cent of the net profit on the disposition of the land.
What we were trying to do was simply cool down the speculation in the housing market, but those great free-enterprisers across the way said, “No, we are going to let the market have its way with the housing industry.” That is exactly --
Hon Mr Mancini: You just want to tax all the home owners.
Mr Laughren: No. As a matter of fact, if we had had our way, no tax would have been paid. There would not have been any speculation on properties because if there is nothing to be gained by it, why engage in it? It was simply an attempt to discourage and end speculation in land and housing, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto. So it was not a tax grab at all. It was simply a way to prevent speculation in land and housing.
Mr Hampton: It was a signal to the market.
Mr Laughren: It was a signal to the market. That is correct. We think the invisible hand of the marketplace was becoming all too visible in the housing market. Think of all the problems out there in the housing market. This morning I went on a tour of the Regent Park area with my House leader and a couple of other very interesting people. We visited housing shelters and visited dropin centres for the homeless and some hostels.
When I think back to this morning, of all the problems in the housing market and the problems affecting the homeless, and then I come in here this afternoon and have to deal with the land transfer tax bill, I want to tell the members it brings it into sharp relief just how little this government is doing for the homeless in the province of Ontario.
We are not dealing with the affordability problem at all. My House leader pointed out this afternoon that when the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney) went on the same tour of the area, he was asking the homeless if they would like to own a home. Rather than doing something about it, it does point out just how far removed this government is from what is really going on in downtown Toronto.
This bill does not deal with the affordability question. It does not deal with the speculation question. It does not deal at all with the problems of the homeless in this city of Toronto.
The only good thing that I can see about the bill is that it does eliminate some of the tax avoidance that is going on now when properties are held in trust and sold and no transfer tax is paid. That is all I can see that will come out of this bill, and surely that is insignificant compared to the problems in the housing market.
I do not know how the minister can sit in his place and justify this piece of inconsequential legislation, given all the problems in the housing market. I really do not know how he can do it. I hope he will go back to his officials and say, “Don’t put me through this exercise again of not only bringing in an inconsequential bill, but including in it incomprehensible explanatory notes.
Mr Pope: I want to rise on behalf of our party to indicate that, while we understand the narrow intent of the bill and it is the role of the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) to introduce legislation within a narrow framework to deal with narrow intentions with respect to tax and revenue policies of the government and, hopefully, to plug loopholes or clear up questions with respect to legislation, by the very nature of the relationship of the Minister of Revenue to the Treasurer and monetary and economic policies of the province of Ontario, all too often the Minister of Revenue’s pieces of legislation, his initiatives, are targeted by opposition members for critiques of the general economic policies of the government, and this is no exception.
We understand the desire of the Minister of Revenue and those who are working with him on the administration of tax legislation in this province to plug loopholes and make sure that people are all treated fairly. However, we put this legislation in the context of overall tax policies in the province of Ontario from this current Liberal administration, an administration whose policies have moved tax freedom day to 7 July and next year it will be even further along the line, so the people of this province are working over six months a year just to pay their taxes.
We see the Minister of Revenue as administering, and he is only administering, but administering tax programs through law which have this effect. We have seen in the Treasurer’s last budget of this past spring an increase in the land transfer tax rate. That, along with the failure of the housing policies of this Liberal administration, has led to a decrease in House purchases in the province of Ontario last year almost uniquely in Canada, almost uniquely in Canada, an absolute decline in house sales. It has led to a drying up of home construction. It has led to a drying up of rental unit construction in this great city and throughout the province of Ontario.
Tax policies are partly to blame. The failure of rental housing programs are partly to blame, and part of that blame relates to the land transfer tax rate that the Treasurer introduced in last spring’s budget. We see the failure of this government in providing affordable housing to the residents of this great community of Metropolitan Toronto and across this province as being one of the critical failures of the government, and we see no programs in place using tax policies to address that failure and redress that failure to provide for affordable housing for tenants and for home owners alike.
Yes, they will use grants. Yes, they will use taxpayers’ hard-earned tax dollars to fund money out to different interests and organizations who, in turn, must give 15 per cent to consultants, generally selected by someone at the Ministry of Housing, who must give an additional 10 per cent for legal fees and other costs. By the time we are through, very little of the money, in fact, has been flowing to the actual construction of rental accommodation in this province.
We see increases in taxes removing the dream of affordable housing further and further from the view of young people in this great community and across the province, and we see the tax policy of this government removing affordable housing and the maintenance of their own homes further and further from the view of our senior citizens across this province. We saw a land transfer tax increase last spring that drove a spike even further into the hearts of those people who want affordable housing in the province.
Rather than using tax policies as a tool to prevent the acquisition of affordable housing in this province, we see tax policies as being needed to encourage the acquisition of affordable housing in this province. We think this government, this Liberal administration, is going precisely the wrong way in its use of tax policies as an instrument for housing policies in Ontario.
We would have preferred legislation that expanded the loopholes to everybody so that no one had to pay land transfer tax, so that this additional cost of acquiring housing in Ontario would be eliminated entirely.
The fact of the matter is, with the increase in the land transfer tax, with other tax policies, more and more young people were seeking legal advice on ways to avoid paying the land transfer tax. More and more people were looking at the option of incorporating holding companies and providing in future for the transfer of lands through a transfer of shares in those holding companies to avoid the heavy tax consequences of registered land dispositions in this province.
We believe the Minister of Revenue and this government saw that the tax policies were driving people to tax avoidance schemes, to the use of holding corporations and share transfers because of the tax burden that was being placed on home buyers in this province. That burden was affecting home purchases, particularly when it is coupled with the escalating cost of housing in the city of Toronto and many other major centres of this province.
We believe that, in reality, it was not to plug the loopholes, it was an acknowledgement that the tax policies of this government were driving everyone to look for ways of getting around this tax because it was so costly and so devastating on people’s own hopes for the acquisition of affordable housing in the province of Ontario, the Ontario of 1989.
There are many, many questions we have to pose to the staff of the ministry on this bill. They relate to partnership interests, limited partnership interests, the change of partnership interests by virtue of death, changes in limit of partnership interests or shareholders’ interests by virtue of the operation of shareholders’ agreements or limited partnership agreements or partnership agreements, the actual impact with respect to dispositions related to joint survivorships, the actual impact of dispositions of land with respect to creditors’ arrangements, and we saw the explanatory notes and we have more questions on these issues.
We do not think any legislation introduced will ever stop the constant search for a way to avoid paying taxes that are too heavy. This search will go on for every home buyer in Ontario. They will continue to search for ways to avoid paying taxes that they cannot afford to pay. Until the Minister of Revenue and until the Treasurer and the government of Ontario understand that, we are going to make no progress on affordable home ownership in this province, no progress whatsoever.
I say to the Minister of Revenue, when we pose our questions, we want him to keep in mind that we disagree fundamentally with the direction that his government is heading in as it affects home ownership.
I do not want to go on at length. There is much more I could say about the economic policies of this government. It is clear that we must do something together in this Legislature to address the issue of affordable housing and, certainly, introducing more tax legislation is not the way to do it.
Ms Bryden: I would like to comment on this bill, particularly in view of its rather peculiar history. As I was mentioning at my opening statement, it was part of the budget bills that the Treasurer brought in and which were introduced on 17 May, and that came in as Bill 23. This provided for some increases in land transfer tax and established a two step rate of 1.5 per cent for all property and two per cent for residential property above $400,000 and for dwellings that were occupied by one or two families, so it did provide for an increase in the land transfer tax.
It was part of the $1.3 billion extra taxes that the provincial Treasurer has loaded on the taxpayers of this province this year, on top of $1 billion a year in the previous two years so that it is part of the tax grab. While I think there should be a land transfer tax, it should not be a tax that is inhibiting housing development. It should not be a tax that is considered a substitute for a land speculation tax. It should be a tax which helps to bring fairness in taxation and in our tax system to this province.
At the moment, as we have been pointing out, this new Liberal government is becoming much less liberal in its tax policy. It is moving from progressive taxes to regressive taxes. A land transfer tax may be progressive if it is taking a share of the proceeds of real estate transactions, but it also has its effect on the construction of housing and the relief of the housing shortage.
Bill 23 also gave recognition in the land transfer tax to the fact that people who were buying homes under the Ontario home ownership savings plan should be entitled to rebates. They were the ones for whom the OHOSP bill was passed, to give incentives to people to save for home buying. Without the Bill 23 reference to that particular program, the people under that program would have had a large land tax to pay when they came to cash in their OHOSP and to buy a house. But the refund was provided in Bill 23 and it was applicable only to home purchases under $150,000, a full refund, and then there was a partial rebate for home owners who purchased a home for between $150,000 and $200,000 with their OHOSP savings.
As we pointed out at the time, that bill went through, setting up the OHOSP. It was completely inapplicable to any home sales in the city or in Metropolitan Toronto and in a great many other urban centres because homes priced at those ranges, from $150,000 to $200,000, have just disappeared off the market. So giving them the exemption under Bill 23, or giving a rebate, was not of any benefit to a large proportion of the people who had been induced to start OHOSPs in the hope of acquiring a home.
Bill 48, of course, still continues that section of Bill 23, but it seems surprising to me that when Bill 23 was introduced on 17 May, budget day, and was passed three months later, the ministry had not found out in those three months when the bill was before the House that there was this loophole regarding the use of trust transfer schemes to avoid the land transfer tax. Suddenly, five days after the budget land transfer tax was passed, the then Minister of Revenue, the member for Ottawa East (Mr Grandmaître), introduced Bill 48, which was an amendment to Bill 23.
It seems to me that is an illustration of the way this ministry is not studying the implications of its tax bills and is not aware, apparently, of the loopholes that can be worked under them. On 7 November the new minister introduced a press release as to why Bill 48 was going to be proceeded with, but he has not yet shown us the amendments. I think until we get those, we will not really know the nature of Bill 48.
I think this Legislature, in a democratic society, is entitled to see those amendments -- not just a summary of them but the actual amendments -- when it is debating the principle of the bill. Therefore, I think my point earlier on commenting on the minister’s statement was correct, that we should have the exact text of those amendments, not just briefings or press releases on what they will cover.
I am certainly not opposed to closing loopholes and eliminating tax-avoidance schemes -- and I think that is the real challenge that any Minister of Revenue faces but when we do not have sufficient information on this legislation, we are not very sure whether it is just a simple closing of a loophole or whether it also giving the minister much greater powers than he had under the land transfer tax, Bill 23. That is, I think, the function of a democratic legislature, to look at bills and to see whether additional powers are being granted to the government, and if so, whether there is a reason for granting those powers.
It also has a duty to look for further loopholes, and that relies on definitions and administration. We should put as much as possible into the legislation and have as little as possible left to regulations and the discretion of the minister. I see in this bill a considerable increase in the discretion granted to the minister. That is why I think it is being rushed through very quickly without giving the Legislature that opportunity to see whether there are additional loopholes or whether this is producing a fair tax system with regard to land transactions.
I would like to read just the first two paragraphs of the previous minister’s statement when he introduced Bill 48 on 25 July. No, he actually introduced it on 18 July, but he issued his press release on 25 July. He said: “The increasing use of trust transfer schemes in recent years was threatening to erode the traditional broad base of land transfer tax.... The bill should nullify any tax advantage which occurs when a change in beneficial ownership of land is not accompanied by a corresponding change in registered title. This will enhance equitable tax treatment.”
He goes on to say that the proposed amendments impose a tax on certain dispositions of beneficial interests in land where the person receiving the interest has not registered a conveyance. That is more of what my colleague the member for Nickel Belt described as gobbledegook for the layman trying to understand what the tax is about.
In the new minister’s press release on 7 November 1989 regarding Bill 48 and proposed amendments to it, he said: “The first category of changes relates to unregistered dispositions of land which occur in the course of corporate reorganizations. Several other taxing statutes, for example, the Retail Sales Tax Act, the Corporations Tax Act and the Income Tax Act, provide specific deferrals or exemptions where assets are transferred between corporations and the underlying control of the corporations is in the same hands.”
It seems to me that this indicates that the loopholes that are already in the Corporation Tax Act, the Income Tax Act and the Retail Sales Tax Act will be extended to transactions covered by this act. Our party has for a long time said that those particular acts need radical reform to eliminate loopholes and special deferrals of tax and special exemptions.
We also feel that those particular acts provide a sort of umbrella under which corporate takeovers, corporate flips of buildings and rollovers and exchanges of shares can occur when, in actual fact, the underlying control of the corporation is unchanged but specific deferrals and exemptions are used to enable those rollovers and tax deferrals to carry on. That is why I think there should not be as much discretion for the minister in this act, because in order to obtain tax relief under this act, for deferral or for an exemption, they must make an application to the minister, and presumably he has the final say as to whether a person’s application is accepted or not.
For instance, the minister’s summary says “relief will be provided from taxation of certain unregistered transfers between corporations within the same corporate group.” Well, anybody who has been looking behind the corporate veil knows that there are all sorts of transactions going on within the same corporate group, and whether they should be taxed or not will be left up to the minister to decide whether they are eligible for relief or not.
It seems to me that this bill is another step showing that the Liberal government is the friend of corporations and large business partnership arrangements which are designed mainly to enhance the powers and the share of the market by our corporate sector. It is not seeing that we are getting the maximum revenue we can get from these companies.
We all know that the incidence of the corporation tax has been going down steadily as compared to the personal income tax so that the corporations are bearing a very low percentage of the total and the income tax payers of this province are beating an unduly large percentage of the total of revenue provided from these sectors. This is just another effort to give corporations deferrals or exemptions from the act or to see that their changes in disposition of property are at least supervised under this act.
I think they should be brought under so that the tax will apply, but we are not sure whether it is actually going to control the corporate rollover and concentration of power.
I still do not see why we cannot get a land speculation tax in this province. It did work in 1982 when there was a tremendous boom in the flipping over of buildings. It stopped the process, but we are back at it again and the government has shown no sign of getting a portion of those large capital gains for the provincial Treasury. That is money that could be well used to provide more affordable housing, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto, where there is a zero vacancy rate. It seems to me that the Treasurer should be working towards revenue sources that will enhance his revenue for programs of home ownership and not necessarily enhance the corporate rollovers and takeovers and layoffs that are going on.
I would like to see the minister assure us that he is going to look very carefully at whatever transactions are brought to his attention for approval under this act; that he will look at them in a mandatory sense that it is his duty to see that the province obtains the maximum revenue from closing loopholes and that new loopholes are not opened. We will be expecting from him an annual report which will show the exact nature of the transactions that are going to be considered eligible under this tax and which, while not giving necessarily the names of the companies, will give us a picture of how much this relief process is being used to let taxpayers more or less off the hook.
If it is in the interests of fairness as between different sectors of the economy, that is fine, but if it is favouring sectors of the economy that have a louder voice or that have more of a voice with some of the members of the government opposite, then I think people will be looking at it very carefully to see whether this power given to the Minister of Revenue is indeed justified and is not part of the giveaway of our economy to the big sectors.
There is no doubt that the rich are getting richer in this Metro district and in the province, really, and the poor are getting poorer, and that is partly because of our tax policies and our housing policies. So I hope we are not adding to the housing shortage by this and I hope we are going to be looking, still, at a speculation tax within the next session, if not before.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the minister wish to respond?
Hon Mr Mancini: Just briefly. As I said earlier, we are pressed for time. I am pleased to take note of what the members have had to say. I just want to repeat that this bill is to close a loophole and it does not deal with some of the matters that the opposition members have talked about. They have talked about economic policy in general, they have talked about housing matters in general.
The Ministry of Revenue does not have the purview of setting wide-ranging economic policy. That is done by the Treasury and has been the case in Ontario for many years. We do not formulate housing policy. That is done by the Ministry of Housing. That is their responsibility. We are bringing forward this bill to close a tax loophole and I think that should be supported.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Mancini has moved second reading of Bill 48, An Act to amend the Land Transfer Tax Act.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
LAND TRANSFER TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 48, An Act to amend the Land Transfer Tax Act.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, I would like to ask permission for my staff to be able to join us.
The First Deputy Chair: Agreed.
Do members have amendments? I have several amendments from the minister, four of them in fact, to section I.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, could I clarify a matter before we get started? We might as well do it now. I believe we are going to need unanimous consent of the committee to move my amendments 6a and 6b to the bill, because both are changing sections of the act that are not amended by the bill. I have had discussions with the opposition. They appear to be amenable to this request, and I thought if we could clarify the matter now, we could proceed quickly through all the amendments without interruption.
The First Deputy Chair: Just so the members will be aware, the government has been made aware that two amendments, 6a and 6b, will require unanimous consent. That will be the first question we will put, to allow the government to introduce them, and then we can proceed to deal with them should that carry.
Ms Bryden: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: May those of us who are here at least receive copies of the amendments? I presume the critic has one copy.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there any other members who have amendments to this bill?
Mr Laughren: Yes. I thought the table had a copy. Perhaps not.
The First Deputy Chair: This would be a good time to do my routine about if you want to move amendments in here, we have to know what they are. If you provide us with copies of those, we would be pleased to make sure that everybody who needs one has one. If you really want to get serious about it, you better make sure we have got them. If we do not have them, we cannot put them.
I have a notice from Mr Laughren of an amendment to section 1a. Any other amendments that anyone cares to put? Okay. I believe we may just as well start in with the government amendments to section 1.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that clause 2a(1)(c) of the act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be amended by striking out “2(2c)” at the end thereof and inserting in lieu thereof “2(2b)”.
Hon Mr Mancini: This amendment corrects a drafting error.
Motion agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that clause 2a(5) of the act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(5) No tax is payable by virtue of this section if,
“(a) an instrument evidencing the disposition of the beneficial interest in land is registered within 30 days after the date of the disposition and the tax payable under section 2 on the registration of the instrument has been paid; or
“(b) the disposition of the beneficial interest in land is prescribed as being exempt.”
Mr Laughren: I assume that since this is going to be part of Bill 48 when it is passed, there will be attached to it an explanatory note. I wonder if the minister could read the explanatory note to us now?
Hon Mr Mancini: I really enjoyed the honourable member’s opening remarks and my staff can attest to the fact that I have on many, many occasions asked that these legalistic concerns be expressed in layman’s language that he and I can both understand. Former ministers of Revenue, being very well schooled in the economy and on all legal matters, did not need this kind of help, but my friend and I do need this kind of help. So basically I want to tell the honourable member that this amendment provides that no tax is payable if the transaction is exempted by regulation.
Mr Laughren: I would be interested in knowing what kind of exemptions the ministry anticipates by regulation, because surely there is an allowance there for all sorts of exemptions by regulation and over which we have absolutely no control, and why that could not be put in the bill. Are the exemptions too extensive to include in the bill? Are they too exotic? Are they too legalistic to place in the bill and therefore must be put in regulations? I would very much like to know, if we are going to give the minister carte blanche to make exemptions, what kind of exemptions he is anticipating.
Hon Mr Mancini: We are talking about changes to a partnership that would be considered nominal, five per cent or less.
Ms Bryden: I know that regulations are ultimately gazetted and passed by order in council. I still think that it would be desirable, particularly in the first year of operation of this bill, to have a report from the ministry of the number and type of exemptions that are authorized by regulation, without necessarily revealing tax information that is confidential, but the companies affected, perhaps the names, the exemption requested and the numbers that are accepted by the minister, so that we know how greatly this clause is being used. I would ask the minister to comment on whether it would be possible to get such a report at the end of the first year.
Hon Mr Mancini: We will take the honourable member’s suggestion under advisement.
Motion agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: I believe the minister has another amendment to section 1.
Hon Mr Mancini: I would just advise everyone to sit back and relax and have a sip of water. This is going to take a while.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that section 2a of the act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
“(9) If the disposition of a beneficial interest in land is from one corporation to another corporation, each of which is an affiliate of the other immediately before and at the time of the disposition, the minister may defer the payment of the tax payable by virtue of this section by the corporation acquiring the beneficial interest if,
“(a) before the 30th day after the date of disposition of the beneficial interest in the land, the corporation applies to the minister for the deferral and submits a written undertaking satisfactory to the minister, undertaking that for a period of at least 36 consecutive months immediately following the date of the disposition,
“(i) the corporation making the disposition and the corporation acquiring the beneficial interest on the disposition will continue to be affiliates of each other, and
“(ii) the beneficial interest in the land will continue to be owned by the corporation acquiring the beneficial interest on the disposition or by a corporation that is an affiliate of that corporation and with the corporation which made the disposition of the beneficial interest in the land;
“(b) security for the tax in a form and of a kind acceptable to the minister is furnished to the minister; and
“(c) no conveyance or instrument evidencing the disposition has been registered.
“(10) The minister may extend the time for applying for the deferral and submitting the undertaking referred to in subsection (9) if the minister is satisfied that any delay by the corporation in applying for the deferral or submitting the undertaking was not for the purpose of attempting to delay, avoid or evade the payment of the tax.
“(11) The minister shall return the security furnished in respect of the deferral granted under subsection 1(9) and the amount of tax deferred is no longer owing by reason of this section if,
“(a) the minister is of the opinion that the undertaking given under subsection (9) has been satisfied and no conveyance or instrument evidencing the disposition of the beneficial interest in land has been registered.
“(b) a conveyance or instrument evidencing the disposition of the beneficial interest in land to the corporation has been registered and the tax payable under section 2 on the registration has been paid; or
“(c) there has been a disposition of the beneficial interest in the land, or a conveyance of the land, by the corporation, or by an affiliate of the corporation, to a person who is not an affiliate of the corporation and tax has been paid under this act in respect of that disposition or on registration of the conveyance, as applicable.
“(12) For the purposes of subsection (11), if a corporation was an affiliate of another corporation immediately before winding-up or dissolving, the corporation shall be considered to continue to exist and to be an affiliate of that other corporation for the purpose of determining whether any undertakings given under subsection (9) have been fulfilled with respect to any disposition of a beneficial interest in land made before the winding-up or dissolution of the corporation or in the course of any distribution of property of the corporation on the winding-up or dissolution.
“(13) Nothing in subsection (9) or (11) relieves any person from the payment of tax under this act upon the registration of conveyance which evidences the disposition of a beneficial interest in land.
“(14) In this section ‘affiliate’ means an affiliate as described in subsection 1(2) of the Securities Act.”
Any discussion on the amendments?
Mr Laughren: Yes, through you, Mr Chairman, to the minister: Why?
Hon Mr Mancini: I can answer that very easily.
First, the series of amendments, subsections 2a(9) to (14), provides relief from tax for unregistered transfers of land between corporations which have the same underlying control.
Second, if the transfer is registered, tax will still apply.
Lastly, to my colleague across the floor, these provisions bring the land transfer tax more in line with similar provisions in the Retail Sales Tax Act, the Corporations Tax Act and the Income Tax Act of Canada.
That is why.
Mr Laughren: This then, in a way, is a further sign of the government’s co-operation with the federal government on tax matters. Is that correct, that this is just another one of those examples of where they are trying to be as co-operative as possible with the federal government, whether it is land transfer tax, a corporate tax, an income tax or a goods and services tax?
Hon Mr Mancini: If that is the honourable member’s opinion, I guess he can have that opinion but, as I said earlier, the bill is to straighten out the loopholes and the problems we have been having with this particular tax. That is the underlying purpose of the bill.
Mr Laughren: I heard a lot of reference to the federal government there.
Hon Mr Mancini: Yes, the federal government was referred to because the honourable member asked why. But that was only one of three points that I mentioned.
Mr Pope: Did the minister not make an error in his reading of 10(b)?
Hon Mr Mancini: It is possible, but we would have to review Hansard and the tapes of the proceedings before I could answer yes or no.
The First Deputy Chair: It was not very entertaining but I have him getting all the words in.
Mr Pope: I have other questions. Could the minister explain how this is possibly going to work, including why we should have deferrals, how anyone is going to be able to verify status under the Land Transfer Tax Act? Is the government going to have clearance certificates? If so, how will they ever be able to issue them? Who will be issuing them? What will the application for the certificate be comprised of? Will regional offices have the capacity to issue the clearance certificates the way they do now out of North Bay for retail sales tax? Why they should have overholding obligations after dissolution that will perhaps impede the ability of corporations to dissolve and relieve directors and officers of liabilities post-dissolution?
All these issues have a dramatic impact on the ability of corporations to function in the province as regular legal entities, and I think we have an obligation in this Legislature to ask the minister how this is possibly going to work. The paperwork is going to be astronomical. The mechanism within the ministry to administer this is going to be incredibly complex. The regional offices, I presume, will not be able to handle this at all. The costs are something that the minister should be disclosing to us.
Most directly and dramatically of all, the overholding impact will affect the ability of people to deal with corporations in this province when it comes to not only land issues but also any corporate dealings, any dealings with a corporation, because we presume that any claim under this act will have priority over other claims arising from contracts. If there is a statutory priority for these claims, people will have no basis upon which to verify the status of these companies except at tremendous public cost.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there any comments from the minister?
Hon Mr Mancini: Not very many. Just to tell the honourable member that no, the ministry will not review every transaction. The questions that the honourable member brought up just a moment or two ago were discussed by myself and officials as we were going through the process of getting the bill ready here for the Legislature. I am told that the bill can be made to work.
If I was concerned that the bill could not work or if my officials were concerned that the bill could not work, those matters would have been raised and we would have taken whatever appropriate action necessary, even if it included delaying the bill for a while. But we believe that it can work and we intend to make it work, and my officials tell me that in fact this is possible and we are going to move forward.
Mr Pope: I have no doubt that the minister genuinely intends the bill to work. I have known the minister for many years and I know he has a genuine intent to make this work, but I think we are entitled to have answers. I am not talking about the company’s dealings with the ministry. I am talking about any third person’s dealings with the company and what steps he can take in order to verify the status of this company under the Land Transfer Tax Act, the same way that you get clearance certificates under the Retail Sales Tax Act when you are acquiring assets from a corporate entity. I presume now that you are going to have to get an additional clearance certificate under the Land Transfer Tax Act.
In Timmins, we apply for retail sales tax clearances at the North Bay regional office and the folks down there are very good at giving them to us. As well, we apply for other Ministry of Revenue information at the North Bay office. Are we going to have a regional setup? I presume we cannot because of the nature and intent of this, even though now we are paying land transfer tax not at the land registry office any more but at the regional office of the Ministry of Revenue.
I think we are entitled to know how precisely this is going to work, because one of the key areas is not the minister’s good intentions or the staff’s good intentions; it is how people outside of government are going to be able to handle this situation that this legislation is bringing about, particularly if you are, for instance, a director or officer of a company.
You could have overholding liabilities under the Land Transfer Tax Act and this amendment that survive your no longer being an officer or a director. Even though you are given a release by the corporation and you are removed from the board, you still could have overholding responsibilities that you could be sued on, or you could be subject to a crown lien with respect to potential payments under the Land Transfer Tax Act. If that is the case, how do you protect yourself?
If you are going to be dealing with a corporation that may at one time have had an interest in land but no longer has an interest in land, you presumably are going to have to satisfy yourself in dealing with the corporation and making the payment of moneys to it that the crown is not claiming a lien under the Land Transfer Tax Act. If that is the case, what office do you apply to? What paper work do you have to go through? What is the cost of this going to be in the private sector and on the government to administer?
That is just one issue, by the way. I have a whole string of them on this section.
Hon Mr Mancini: We are discussing here some of the honourable members’ concerns and we want to tell them that on this tax measure, as on all other tax measures, we count on voluntary compliance. If people do not comply and if the matter comes to the attention of the ministry, then appropriate action is taken and fines are levied or whatever action is necessary is in fact taken. I do not know what more I can tell the honourable member. The honourable member wants to get into the everyday details and workings of the ministry. The ministry works very well. There are offices in place. If people have questions, they can call, they can seek out information and we will provide that information. But the system will work.
Mr Pope: I have no doubt that there is voluntary compliance with this section. I am talking about someone who is not the corporation, not an officer or director of the corporation. I understand what you are saying about the questions I had as existing officers and directors, but someone dealing with that corporation when he is purchasing business assets, an asset-purchase arrangement.
The ministry has facilitated the obtaining of clearance certificates under the Retail Sales Tax Act. They give a breakdown of the asset of the purchase price between exempt equipment, taxable equipment, inventory and goodwill. That information is sent to the regional office of the Ministry of Revenue and you ask the people there for a retail sales tax clearance certificate. The folks down there are very good at giving verbal approvals, if they can, and following up with clearance certificates under the Retail Sales Tax Act.
What I am asking is with respect to someone who is dealing with these corporations who seeks to ensure for himself and for his own interests that this corporation has complied with the act. Presumably if a corporation has not complied with the act and the directors and officers have not voluntarily complied at some point in time, the ministry may catch them and they may be subject to the tax.
I am worried about how people dealing with the corporation, who are not part of it, can protect themselves from any subsequent claim to a lien or priority of payment under the Land Transfer Tax Act to the government of Ontario. Is there going to be a clearance certificate issued? If so, will it be through the regional offices, and are we entitled to rely on the issuance of that certificate as opposed to any future claim because that corporation, unbeknownst to a subsequent purchaser of assets, was not aware of it? Will we be entitled to rely on that clearance certificate at a later date if subsequently the government of Ontario and the Ministry of Revenue find that in fact there was not a payment made for a disposition under the new provisions of the Land Transfer Tax Act and there is a claim?
Hon Mr Mancini: My officials tell me that the tax liability -- I hope this answers the member’s question; this is the third time we have tried -- will not pass on to subsequent purchasers and that no automatic tax lien will be placed on the property.
Mr Pope: Will there be clearance certificates?
Hon Mr Mancini: Will we have clearance certificates?
Mr Pope: Some of the questions have been answered, but what I want to know is how someone dealing with property or someone dealing with the corporation, even a purchaser of shares for a corporation, can satisfy himself that the government now or at a later date will not be claiming a lien. Will there be a clearance certificate process like we have for the Retail Sales Tax Act or will there be some certification or assurance from the government by letter form that we can rely upon?
Let’s say you are acquiring a shareholding interest in a company and you are trying to ensure that in making your investment in the company, you do not lose your investment or the value of your investment because of a claim at some later date under the Land Transfer Tax Act by the Ministry of Revenue. I know it is complicated and I apologize to my friend. I am just trying to deal with how we protect an investor in a company or a purchaser of corporate assets from any subsequent claim. If the minister is saying there will be no claim, that may be some comfort, unless you are buying shares of the company.
The First Deputy Chair: Are we ready for the question?
Mr Pope: I just want to get an answer.
Hon Mr Mancini: The member has experience working in this area. Does he not think the liability will appear on the corporation’s records?
Mr Pope: Not necessarily. If there has been no disclosure of a land disposition to a purchaser of shares, his only rights will be as against previous shareholders who may no longer even be present in the country or in the jurisdiction. I think there should be some mechanism when someone is acquiring shares in a corporation. I have been able to check this out with the Minister of Revenue, asking, “Are you aware of any disposition under the terms of this legislation that this corporation has been involved in, and are you claiming any lien or priority against me as a subsequent purchaser of the shares of this corporation under the act?”
If the answer is no, there is no lien clearance certificate, or that they are claiming no priority for a purchaser of shares for value without notice, then any corporate shareholder, officers or directors who wish to avoid their obligations under this legislation simply refuse to disclose the existence of a disposition under the act and they are away to the races. The subsequent purchaser of those shares has no obligation and in fact the minister has not avoided anything.
Hon Mr Mancini: I do not believe this will answer the honourable member’s concerns. We are going to have to look at it as we go along because we expect voluntary compliance. I just do not think we can give the member more technical information right now.
Mr Pope: I want to ask about amalgamations. I want to ask about mergers. I want to ask about the acquisition of shares of publicly traded companies. If someone could pass to the minister the definition of “affiliates” under the Securities Act, I would appreciate it. I want to ask about the death benefits, beneficial interest transferring on death and whether that is just transfers to estates or whether that is transfers out of estates to beneficiaries under the will.
Second and most important, many shareholdings in companies, many interests in limited partnerships and in partnerships are subject to shareholders’ agreements, limited partnership agreements and partnership agreements. It is by operation of those agreements that on death, interest will pass. Interest will pass by operation of the agreement, not by a will, and the interest will be converted into money.
Many people, for instance, are investing in limited partnerships for apartment buildings. They have rights to convert their limited partnership interests into the purchase of condominium units, or to convert their limited partnership interests into actual ownership of condominium units.
There are all these interests that will be transferred by operation of agreement on death that give benefit to the widow and the estate of the deceased by converting that interest into cash as opposed to tying it up, and by allowing for the funding of the purchases of these interests by term insurance policies that are payable to the partnership and the corporation per se to acquire these interests. The benefits to the deceased family have been well known in commercial and legal circles for many decades.
What we need to know is whether these structured arrangements, which are done for the benefit of widows and the children of the deceased, and which are done to bring some order out of partnership interests, are going to be affected. It appears from the legislation that the minister is saying they are.
I have a great deal of difficulty with the administration of this system if they are, because the agreement operates by reason of death, not by virtue of the presence of the agreement alone. Death triggers the disposition even though the disposition is pursuant to the terms of an agreement which sets the value and the payment terms. The former Minister of Revenue is very interested in this. It is very important to set this up.
Hon Mr Mancini: Maybe I will ask the former minister to answer this question.
Mr Pope: It is a very important question really; I sincerely mean this. It is very important and is going to have a dramatic impact on estates. I want to know more about the operation of shareholders’ agreements.
There is one other point while we are going through the list. Many shareholders’ agreements and limited partnership agreements and partnership agreements provide for a disposition of that interest, whether it be shares or partnership interest, in the event of a court order under the Family Law Act. The Family Law Act that the Attorney General (Mr Scott) introduced in 1985 or 1986 provides for the right of a deserted spouse or a spouse in the breakup of a marriage, in the event payment is not forthcoming under the division of the property provisions of the Family Law Act, to go to court and get an order seizing shares to satisfy an order under the Family Law Act for the disposition of assets.
Many agreements provide that in the event of such an order the shares and interests are automatically converted into cash at a set value and that is paid into court. We need to know whether or not those kind of provisions are going to be affected by the provision of the Land Transfer Tax Act, because technically there may be a disposition of land.
Hon Mr Mancini: The fact that the honourable gentleman opposite is a lawyer of long standing and the fact that he still practises a couple of days a week is showing. For the individual cases that are as complicated as the honourable member talks about them, the honourable member and others can call the ministry and get advanced rulings.
The First Deputy Chair: Are we ready for the question?
All those in favour of Mr Mancini’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Laughren: I move that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“1a The said act is further amended by adding thereto the following section:
“2b Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, if land, other than land used as a principal residence, is conveyed within one year of it last being conveyed the tax payable is 100 per cent of the net profit on the disposition of the land and if the land is conveyed within two years but more than one year after the last conveyance the tax payable is 75 per cent of the net profit on the disposition of the land.”
The First Deputy Chair: I am afraid that as much as I yearn for the day when you can move such an amendment, this afternoon you cannot. The standing orders are fairly clear that if you were seated just to my right, that is, if you were a minister of the crown, you could indeed move an amendment such as this, but due to several errors in history you cannot.
Mr Laughren: Of course I would not dream of challenging your ruling, Mr Chairman. I just want to know if you could give us any kind of hint when that day might be.
The First Deputy Chair: It is on its way, l am sure.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that section 2 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(1a) Section 4 of the said act is further amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(8c) If a legal interest land is held in trust for another person by more than one trustee, the return required to be delivered under subsection (8b) may be made by one or more of the trustees on behalf of all of the trustees.”
Mr Laughren: In my view this amendment is going to do absolutely nothing to stop the speculation in land and housing.
Hon Mr Mancini: We went over the principle of the bill on first reading with the former minister, when the former minister explained the principle of the bill. During second reading I re-explained the principle of the bill. We have gone over this again this afternoon. The honourable member has concerns about a number of economic matters. Those concerns may or may not be valid and we may or may not agree with them, but this bill is in fact to do other things and the honourable member knows it.
Mr Laughren: I have asked a very simple question of the minister. I asked him, am I correct that this amendment will do absolutely nothing about curtailing the speculation in land and housing?
Hon Mr Mancini: We know the economic policies of the New Democratic Party, the socialist party, and what they would do to this great province. I once heard somebody say a few years ago, “The NDP would turn Ontario into an industrial wasteland,” and those words keep echoing in my mind, so yes, we reject their economic policy.
Mr Laughren: I do not like to be repetitive, but I really did put a very straightforward question to the minister and I do not understand why he refuses to answer it. Am I correct that this amendment will do absolutely nothing to stop the speculation in land and housing, to stop the flips that are going on by speculators all across Ontario but primarily in Metropolitan Toronto? Am I correct that this amendment will do absolutely nothing to stop that?
Hon Mr Mancini: I have answered the honourable member’s question three times already.
Ms Bryden: I would also like the minister to let us know if he is studying a land speculation tax, because it is time he was. As I mentioned in my speech on second reading, land speculation is getting worse rather than better and it is depriving many people of middle and low income the opportunity to continue to live in Metro Toronto, making it a city for the rich and not for those on middle and lower incomes.
I also would like to correct the minister’s reference to the New Democratic Party as a socialist party; it is a social democratic party. If he watched the television last weekend, he would know that and he would be acquainted with the correct names for political parties in Canada.
Mr Laughren: As a democratic socialist, I would just like to reinforce what my colleague has said about a speculation task and ask the minister, in view of the fact that this amendment, indeed this bill, is not going to do anything to curtail speculation in land and housing, whether he has any intention of bringing in one that will.
Hon Mr Mancini: Honourable members opposite have discussed that matter with the Treasurer and they have received more than adequate responses from the Treasurer on the subject. This bill we are dealing with this afternoon is going to do a number of things, close tax loopholes for example, and that is what I have been telling honourable members all afternoon. That is the answer.
Mr Pope: Could the minister explain, “when a person holds a legal interest in land in trust for another person”? What does that mean?
Hon Mr Mancini: It is when you have the registered title to the land, but you do not own the real rights to the land. That is the definition officials are using.
Mr Pope: Is it deemed to be a trust relationship? How do you define it if it is defined in the Land Transfer Tax Act-maybe the minister can give me the definition of that act -- or do you have to have a fixed trustee designation on the register of the property in order to qualify as a trustee? Who is going to determine, when you axe dealing with someone, whether or not he owns the interest in land in trust for somebody else? Technically, a corporation holds the land in trust for its shareholders.
Hon Mr Mancini: The officials have informed me that the courts rely on common law to decide these matters and that is how we will come to these conclusions.
Mr Laughren: Are these the same officials who write the explanatory notes?
Hon Mr Mancini: The explanatory notes are in fact quite good, I may tell the honourable member, and friends like the member opposite to my right, he likes those types of explanatory notes, as we have been able to note this afternoon. The member and I, well, we have a different opinion, but he likes them.
The First Deputy Chair: Are we ready for the question?
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.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: I want to draw to your attention that the two amendments that we discussed previously are 6a and 6b. It will facilitate matters if we simply put the motion at this time, and I ask the minister to ask for unanimous consent to introduce motions identified as 6a and 6b, and if that carries, we will then put them individually. Is that an agreeable way to proceed?
Hon Mr Mancini: You want me to ask for unanimous consent for both or for one at a time?
The First Deputy Chair: As I look around the hall, I think if you ask once politely, you might get the answer you want.
Hon Mr Mancini: I would like to ask the committee of the whole House for unanimous consent to be able to move amendments to sections 6a and 6b.
The First Deputy Chair: Do we have unanimous consent?
Hon Mr Mancini: I want to thank the committee, especially my two critics.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“6a. Section 16 of the said act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1983, chapter 20, section 10, and amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1985, chapter 21, section 9, is further amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(11) Where tax is payable by virtue of section 2a, the disposition of the beneficial interest in the land shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered to be a conveyance of land deemed to be tendered for registration or registered on the 30th day after the date of the disposition.”
Motion agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“6b. Subsection 18(2) of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following clauses:
“(aa) exempting from tax arising under section 2a prescribed dispositions or prescribed beneficial interests in land to which it is determined that section 2a was not intended to apply, or exempting from such tax prescribed dispositions of beneficial interest in land to persons prescribed for the purposes of this clause;
“(i) prescribing anything that is required or permitted by this act to be prescribed, determined or defined by regulation.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 7 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that subsection 8(2) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“Sections 1 to 4 and sections 6 to 6b shall be deemed to have come into force on the 18th day of July 1989 and apply with respect to dispositions of beneficial interest in land after that date, other than,
“(a) beneficial interests in land acquired pursuant to an agreement in writing to acquire the beneficial interest entered into before the 19th day of July 1989 or as part of a lawful distribution to the public in accordance with a prospectus, preliminary prospectus or registration statement filed before the 19th day of July 1989 with a public authority in Canada in accordance with the applicable securities legislation of Canada or of any province and, where required by law, accepted for filing by that public authority; and
“(b) beneficial interests in land acquired before the 1st day of January 1990 where arrangements in writing for the disposition were substantially advanced before the 19th day of July 1989.”
Mr Pope: If the Speaker were here, he would help me out on this, but he is not, so I will ask the minister, Mr Chairman, through you.
I have some grave concerns about retroactive application of this, mainly because my earlier questions could not be answered and I am worried about the length of time it is going to take to draft regulation and policy on this, the effect of which could stretch the retroactive impact of this legislation for well over a year and create an almost impossible situation for people who are trying to find out the status of dispositions prior to the promulgation of regulations, promulgation of this legislation and the putting in place of the policies and procedures necessary to implement it.
I am worried about the tremendous backlog. I know there will be many, many questions and many, many dispositions, the details of which will be placed before the Ministry of Revenue and to create this kind of, what I believe will be at least a one-year waiting period and to have to go back over a whole year and to try to obtain information and rulings is just going to be a nightmare for the staff of the Ministry of Revenue, and it is going to be a nightmare for anyone who was involved in something that could be deemed to be a disposition under this legislation from July 1989 on. It is just an impossible bureaucratic nightmare for the government, for the Ministry of Revenue and for the people dealing with this.
Hon Mr Mancini: I think the honourable member’s concern is addressed, because anything that was completed before 18 July is exempt from the bill. Noting that and noting the objections the honourable member had earlier, I think this in fact looks after his concerns.
Mr Pope: I am talking about something that happened after July and the length of time it is going to take and the fact that people are going to have to go back and retroactively seek rulings or seek exemptions or deal with the Ministry of Revenue. The backlog is growing every day. How are we going to deal with that backlog?
It is going to take a tremendous amount of work, overtime work in the Ministry of Revenue, and a tremendous number of new staff and we do not even have a fix, from the answer from the minister today, on the regulations or the policies or the guidelines or the process. That is going to be some months away unless all of that exists now, but I have not been told about it in answers from the minister.
We are looking at a significant problem for people who want to verify dispositions of land under status.
Hon Mr Mancini: We tried to address the honourable member’s concerns and the bill has been introduced for some time. People in the business know that the bill has been introduced. My staff has shown me a bulletin that went out to the legal profession dated July 1989 which explained, very clearly, that the Land Transfer Tax Act was in fact introduced and that there was a general purpose explanation here in the bulletin, the effective date of the tax, the rate and the administration and other pages of information stapled to this bulletin. So the legal community has known for a considerable period of time.
It is true that they were probably not aware of the amendments because they have been recently produced for the public, but the general bill and the general principles of the bill have been in the hands of the legal community and others who are interested for a considerable period of time; as my parliamentary assistant has just said again, since July.
Mr Laughren: Here we have yet another amendment from the minister that does absolutely nothing to curtail the speculation on land or on housing. I do not know how many amendments the minister has brought in now to this bill and not one of them, including this one, has addressed the problem of land speculation and speculation in the housing market, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto.
He has had every opportunity to amend this bill to make it a meaningful bill and he has done absolutely nothing. The minister seems to have no shame at all. He walks in here in a cavalier fashion, flops down a bill with housekeeping amendments to it and does not do anything at all about the main problem facing people in Ontario in the housing field. That is affordability and does absolutely nothing about that.
I hope this is the last of the amendments we will see that do not address that problem.
Hon Mr Mancini: Jurisdictions with socialist governments have a great deal of difficulty providing housing, far more difficulty than we have had in this country and this province.
Mr Laughren: The minister has provoked me.
I wish we had time this afternoon to get on with Bill 60, the bill to amend the Income Tax Act, because I can tell the minister that social democratic governments around the world have a much, much more equitable tax system than the province of Ontario. No social democratic government I know of would tolerate 10,000 homeless people in its capital city the way this government tolerates 10,000 homeless people in the city of Toronto, my friend.
Hon Mr Mancini: The Minister of Housing outlined today, during question period, that the province of Ontario is building more cooperative and subsidized housing than the rest of the country put together.
Mr Pope: The issue I was addressing was not whether there was a bulletin sent out to the legal fraternity last July; it was the retroactive effect of the legislation and the workload that is going to give to the ministry and the workload that is going to give to people who are seeking to get some ruling from the ministry on whether they are exempt and it is the backlog and the inconvenience it is going to put everyone to.
While there may have been bulletins issued, the minister and his staff today could not answer some of the detailed technical questions about how this legislation will impact on dispositions and certain legal transactions in this province. If they do not know now, we can be darned sure the people who are affected by it do not know until the minister gets his regulations and processes sorted out.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Speaker, with all respect, the honourable member comes in and he comes up with some kind of legal argument that may or may not be factual fiction. He weaves a story around a particular legal argument and he expects myself and the officials to have on-the-spot answers to some kind of legal story that he has kind of woven around some idea that he has. Frankly, we cannot give out advice on 30 seconds’ notice when he comes up with the legal arguments and the concerns that may or may not be true. It is just not done. Frankly, I do not want to put my officials on the spot in that kind of way.
If he has and if his clients or his constituents have real problems, we will deal with them the way we handle all the other matters that come before the Ministry of Revenue, in a very thoughtful way, in a very concerned way, and in a way that will give a responsive answer and that will not set precedents that we cannot handle for the future.
Mr Pope: Which is all by way of saying that the minister is not going to tell us what the impact of his legislation is. He is not going to give explanations because he thinks it is a legal fiction or I am advancing legal fictions. It so happens there are a few hundred thousand corporations in this province. We might want to know what the impact of this is going to be on their dealings.
It so happens that there are tens of thousands of limited partnerships in this province, investment vehicles that hundreds of thousands of people invest in. Maybe they have a right to know what the impact of the minister’s tax legislation is going to be on them and their families in the event that they die. We have tens of thousands of shareholders agreements, partnership agreements in this province that people have made investments through. Maybe we are entitled to know what the impact of this government’s policies are.
The minister can call them legal fictions, legal imaginations or wanderings of mine as someone from the legal fraternity in Timmins if he wants, but he is affecting hundreds of thousands of people. If he cannot explain in this Legislature what his own legislation means, how the heck can anyone outside of this Legislature get any satisfaction and have any certainty in dealing with the Ministry of Revenue or this administration? If the minister cannot explain it now, when we are passing the law, goodness gracious, what are the rest of the people going to do?
Hon Mr Mancini: We can explain the law. We have explained the law. We have sent out information to the legal communities since July. I am assuming that calls have been made from the legal community to our offices either in Oshawa or here in Toronto and that questions have in fact been answered. I am assuming, and it is true, that individuals and corporations and people in business have called our offices in Oshawa and in Toronto and they have asked questions and we have given them answers.
Now, it is unfortunate that the honourable member can get up -- no, it is not unfortunate that he can get up and kind of weave a legal, intricate story that he wants an immediate answer to. That is his right to be able to stand up and do that and to demand answers just like that. But it is not always possible. Tax matters are complicated, very complicated, and he knows that.
So it is not that we do not want to answer his questions and it is not that we do not know what the legislation is intended to do. We will, in fact, deal with the concerns that the honourable member has brought forward. We will do so the same way that the Ministry of Revenue has done for so many years, in a very thoughtful way, a very careful way. We will discuss the matter with our client groups and we will make rulings that we can live with, not only for the present but also for the future.
The First Deputy Chair: Further comments? Are you ready for the question?
Motion agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
Hon Mr Ward: I am advised that His Honour awaits to give royal assent to certain bills.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 39, An Act to revise the Veterinarians Act;
Bill 40, An Act to repeal the Brucellosis Act;
Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The House adjourned at 1801.