The House met at 1330.
Mr Farnan: Recently, I received a letter from a group of students at Wilfrid Laurier University. They are urging changes to the Liquor Licence Act of Ontario. Members may be aware that on 29 January 1989 a young man died choking on his own vomit after a night of heavy drinking at his university residence and campus bar.
In the letter, signed by Carolyn Fleck, Kimberley Gardhouse, Lisa Gaudet, Dwayne Gomes and Doug Isbister, the students suggested regulation 581, section 35 be amended to provide for the inclusion of breathalyser machines within the canteen as a requirement for obtaining a liquor licence.
The students believe that the introduction of breathalyser machines in campus bars would offer an option which could be used in controlling the alcohol consumption of patrons. If the bar employee believes someone who is driving is over the legal limit, he could ask the customer to voluntarily use the breathalyser machine. Depending on the results, he would decide whether to refuse service. If the patron refused to take the test, the bar could utilize its right to refuse service.
The students included with their correspondence an 88-name petition in support of their recommended amendment. I will table this petition later this afternoon.
I would urge the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara) to take seriously the suggestion from these concerned students.
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr Conway). The recent auditor’s report makes reference to a former president of the University of Guelph who was employed by the university from 1948 to 1970.
He returned as president for a contract term of four and a half years from January 1984 to June 1988. The contracted salary in 1987-88 was $148,500. He also received $24,750 annually in lieu of administrative leave. His employment contract stipulated that he would not participate in the university’s pension plan.
When his contract expired at the end of June 1988, he received an early retirement option payment of over $100,000. Also on retirement, the president received in excess of $30,000 for 48 vacation days.
I just cannot understand how the minister can justify this when we recently saw more than 8,000 teachers, librarians and counsellors at Ontario’s 22 community colleges manning the picket lines for about 30 days as they sought a reasonable wage increase.
More than 100,000 college students were adversely affected by this prolonged strike, and it looks to me like another example of the government’s policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I honestly do not think the government can justify this questionable disparity between what happens at the University of Guelph and Ontario’s 22 community colleges.
EARTHQUAKE IN ARMENIA
Ms Oddie Munro: A year has passed since December 1988 when the people of the world united in an effort to help those who were struck by the devastation of the earthquake in Armenia. On Sunday last, 10 December, the Armenian community of Hamilton held a requiem service and ceremony at the Armenian Community Centre on Princess Street. The service was in memory of an estimated 55,000 missing persons, only 25,000 of whom have been officially accounted for. Tens of thousands more have suffered and are suffering the aftermath, including grieving families and friends in Canada.
Reconstruction is proceeding slowly, with evidence of a blockade of equipment and supplies, isolation of communities through road reconstruction, families still inadequately housed, clothed and fed. In addition, the strife in Armenia which has pitted ethnic communities against each other shows the grim paradox of aiding people, only to see them victims of prolonged civil strife.
During this week of international human rights reflection, and during this time of phenomenal changes in the Soviet Union and eastern European countries, it is appropriate to increase the pressure on Mikhail Gorbachev to extend political reform to Armenia. Mr Gorbachev made history by allowing rescue workers into Armenia during the earthquake. It will be a sad day in history if the Armenian people continue to be deprived of their rights in the Soviet Union, of their desire to be part of the political reform and to be acknowledged as the rightful occupants of their own land.
LAND USE PERMITS
Miss Martel: New Democratic Party Housing critics both past and present have repeatedly raised cases involving rental adjustments which are unreasonable and unfair. Tenants have faced rate increases which have been far beyond even what the landlords ask for in the first place, but the most obscene rental adjustment I have seen today comes not from the Ministry of Housing but from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Once of my constituents recently received a notice from the ministry regarding his land use permit. He was advised that MNR is moving to sell or rent all crown lands at market value. Therefore, a market value evaluation was conducted on his land use permit area to reflect the current value of his site. Under this evaluation, his rental fee jumped from $20 a year to $295 a year. This represents a 1500 per cent rental increase.
It is obvious that the Ministry of Natural Resources could teach the Ministry of Housing a thing or two about taking tenants to the cleaners. In this case, the evaluation took into account things like lake size, water quality, big and small game habitat, accessibility, etc. My constituent does not have a road, nor water or train access to the camp. Further, any improvements made to the camp itself were not part of the evaluation. Can members imagine what his assessment would have been had this been taken into account?
This case must be reviewed and a reasonable fee applied to the land use permit, and all other land use permits should also be reviewed to ensure this ridiculous situation is corrected.
ABANDONED RAIL LINE
Mr Eves: I would like to express my support for the Ontario Trail Riders Association and the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce in their bid to secure public ownership of the right of way of the Ottawa through Parry Sound abandoned railway, specifically that part in Renfrew county.
Negotiations concerning this issue began in 1983 when the Ontario Trail Riders Association approached the Ontario government in order to ensure that this land would remain in public ownership. In 1985, the CN Renfrew was identified by Norm Richards, then director of the parks and recreations area branch, as one of three priority corridors that have the greatest benefit from a recreational and tourist standpoint.
A recent report commissioned by the Parry Sound Snow Sport Association proves that developing these railway lines into trails would increase year-round tourism in the area and provide opportunities for new business development. It has also been proposed that the trails could be used as a future utility corridor which will be economically advantageous.
The Ontario Trail Riders Association with the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce have complied with the request of the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio) in 1989 as Minister of Natural Resources to produce a management plan for the trail. This preliminary impact study of the trail, along with a 40-mile stretch of the trial, found that $1.4 million is generated for the winter season alone.
It would be unfortunate if the province were to lose this very valuable resource. The asset as a public right of way connecting the Great Lakes with the nation’s capital through mid-Ontario should be retained in public ownership, where it has been for decades.
TROPICANA COMMUNITY SERVICES
Mr Faubert: Next Monday, 18 December, 1989, Tropicana Community Services will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Tropicana Community Services is a Scarborough-based agency offering advocacy, day care, counselling information and referral services, as well as a youth club and after-school program. Its clients include young people and their families who may be economically, educationally or socially disadvantaged. Many of their programs are directed within Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority developments, and one of their best-known athletic programs is the annual MTHA basketball tournament.
Tropicana Community Services also played an important role in the Jamaican hurricane relief effort by assisting in the co-ordination, collection and shipment of clothing and supplies to Jamaica at that time.
Another important program in which they play a part is the WOW, or work orientation workshop. This is a federal program designed for youth 14 to 16 years of age. It introduces them to work experiences which they would not otherwise have and helps provide them with confidence to realize their career potential.
I would commend everyone who has been involved with Tropicana Community Services over the past decade. In particular, I would single out Barry Thomas, former executive director; Yvonne Blackwood, president, and Noreen Alleyne, the current executive director.
It is organizations such as Tropicana that reach out into our community to break down some of the barriers in our society to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to live up to his potential. For this reason Tropicana should receive every support and encouragement from all levels of government.
Mr Mackenzie: The Libby-Owens-Ford plant in Lindsay, Ontario has become a classic example of one of our worst corporate citizens in the province. Not only has it gone out of the way to break and disobey the safety and health legislation and employment standards legislation, but it is now trying to do exactly the same thing with our pay equity legislation in Ontario.
At a meeting last week, the company called in the plant chairperson to insist that she sign a document clearly stating that the company did not need to meet the provisions of the act, did not need to set up a committee and did not need to hold discussions on pay equity within that particular plant. That obviously violates subsections 9(2) and 14(1) and (2) of the new pay equity legislation.
Not only is it an example that they are prepared to flout the pay equity legislation, but it is interesting to note that at the same time, they decided that union members with a grievance would be allowed only 15 minutes at any time to deal with grievances, and they have not responded to grievances filed in some period of time.
If, in this province, we are looking indeed for better labour-management relations, obviously we have to do something about a firm that deliberately goes out of its way, time and again, month after month, to disobey the labour laws of the province of Ontario. It is time we did look into these cases and decide what we are going to do to see that the pay equity legislation is not yet one more act that this company has decided it does not need to obey.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Jackson: Last week I asked the Minister of Education to discuss the capital costs associated with his new kindergarten initiative. Instead of guaranteeing that local taxpayers would not have to pay for yet another provincially mandated program, he sidestepped the issue.
His own ministry allocated $400,000 to the Durham Board of Education for the construction of just two kindergarten classrooms. At that rate, it would cost over $500 million to build classrooms for the 53,000 four-year-olds who are currently not attending junior kindergarten in Ontario.
I am not questioning the value of junior kindergarten, but I am concerned by the minister’s refusal to give a straight answer to school boards and taxpayers about the real cost. The minister’s refusal to discuss the matter is a clear indication that the province is unwilling to cover the program’s full cost.
Education property taxes increased by $1 billion last year because of a relative decline in the provincial share of education funding. School boards are already projecting double-digit mill rate increases again this year, which indicates another $1-billion surge in property taxes. Angry ratepayer organizations are reacting to this latest increase. They are tired of footing the bill for trendy provincial programs at the expense of basic education.
Before the minister refuses to offer assurances to taxpayers, he should remember that property tax, unlike income tax, is not based on ability to pay. Property taxpayers should not be punished just because the minister wants to add a new twist to education in this province, and trustees should not be blamed.
MISSISSAUGA HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Mr Mahoney: I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues in the House the Mississauga Heritage Foundation. The motto inscribed in the city of Mississauga’s coat of arms is “Pride in our past -- faith in our future.” The Mississauga Heritage Foundation provides a vital link in the preservation of our past for all residents.
The foundation was launched on 6 December 1960 in order to save the historic Lewis Bradley house from demolition. Since that time, the foundation has expanded to include the acquisition, restoration and management of historical buildings and sites. One of its current projects, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, is the restoration of the Anchorage.
The Anchorage is a heritage home that was moved from its original location to the Bradley Museum site in June 1978. It is one of only three regency-style cottages to be found in the province. It was originally named the Anchorage by a retired captain from the Royal Navy, John Skynner.
Through private fund-raising activities and the support of this government, the Mississauga Heritage Foundation is embarking on an ambitious program of public use on a year-round basis for the Anchorage. The Anchorage will be used as a tea room and a meeting place, host gallery displays and exhibits, as well as provide accommodation for collection storage.
By preserving our past we are able to build on our future, and I congratulate the staff, members and volunteers of the Mississauga Heritage Foundation for their hard work, their dedication and their pride in our past.
The Speaker: Just before I call the next item of business, I know the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke), and all members, would want to join me in welcoming the former member for Windsor-Riverside, Fred Burr, back to the chamber today.
Mr B. Rae: I was hoping to ask this question of the Premier (Mr Peterson) and was told that he was here, but since I understand he is not, I will go with the next best thing, the Minister of Health.
Hon Mrs Caplan: What’s this?
Mr B. Rae: I am asking the minister a question.
I know that the minister has already issued a press release and answered a question in the House with respect to the inquest into the death of StelIa Lacroix, but I have some questions for the minister about her answers to the statements that are found in the inquest.
The inquest states categorically that Dr Nesdoly and the nursing supervisor are to be commended for their dedicated and sincere efforts on behalf of their patient Stella Lacroix, and that recognition should also be given to Mr Sharkey of the integrated trauma program for offering his assistance when he was by no means required to do so.
I want to give the minister one more chance to explain to this House why she and the Premier are not willing to at least apologize for having left the clear impression with the entire public that a system was in place which these dedicated professionals failed to use.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: That was the impression left by the Premier and by the minister. I want to ask her, will she at least do the decent thing now and apologize in the face of the findings of the jury in the coroner’s inquest?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that I have at all times spoken of the dedication of all of the health providers of this province. I commend all of the care givers who attempted to assist Mrs Lacroix and I commend the jury, as well, which sought out all of the facts in this case.
But I would say to the Leader of the Opposition, that just because he says something does not mean that it is factual, which unfortunately often becomes the case in this House. Just because he leaves an impression does not mean that is correct. I would say to him that I never blamed anyone. I never, at any time, suggested that there was a province-wide hotline in service. I was referring at all times to the system at the Toronto General Hospital and to a letter which its officials gave to me and which, at the inquest, they say they stand by.
Mr B. Rae: I cannot believe that the Minister of Health fails to understand the implications of what she said and did in those short days after the death of Stella Lacroix. All members I think in their hearts know exactly what took place in this House. The Premier and the minister left Dr Nesdoly out to dry. That is precisely the effect of what they said in the House and what they said outside. Thank goodness the coroner’s jury has come to his defence.
I would like to ask the minister one particular question relating to the inquest. On page 3 of the inquest report, there is a very specific recommendation, made by the jury, that nurses be compensated for specialized training, and second, that the Minister of Health, together with the Ontario Nurses’ Association and hospital administrations, address the shortage of nursing staff in the Metropolitan Toronto area. The situation has reached a critical stage and seems to be a hindrance to the availability of continued quality health care in southern Ontario.
The health manpower study of the ministry shows how serious the shortage of nurses is in the latest ministry survey. I wonder if the minister can tell us whether she is prepared to provide the hospital administrations with the funds necessary to compensate nurses for specialized training.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to make clear to the Leader of the Opposition that there are more nurses working in Ontario’s health care system than ever before. Nursing staff concerns often relate to the difficulties in specialized units or in certain geographic areas, and that is because we have in fact enhanced the system significantly.
As the member knows, over the course of the last number of years, hospital-based budgets and hospital funding generally has increased very, very significantly. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) just announced for this year an 8.7 per cent increase for hospital budgets across this province. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will say that is inadequate. We know that he criticizes everything that we do -- that is his job -- but I want him to know that all issues relating to pay, salary and income are issues of the collective bargaining process between the nurses and their union, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, and the employers, the hospitals, through the Ontario Hospital Association. He knows that.
Mr B. Rae: I cannot believe the minister is rejecting the most basic finding of the jury’s statement. The jury said that there is a particular problem in Metropolitan Toronto. The jury suggested that the way to deal with that problem is for nurses who are involved in the most critical areas, where there are the most critical shortages, to be paid enough to keep them in those jobs. That is basically what is being suggested.
Her own survey shows that we are 1,900 nurses short across Ontario, that we have a vacancy rate in Metropolitan Toronto of nine per cent, that in some hospitals it is way above that and that in critical care it is way above that. If the minister does not appreciate that there is a nursing crisis in some hospitals and in some areas, then she is completely missing the point of everything that has happened in Ontario in health care in the last two years.
Is the minister prepared to fund the hospitals to the degree necessary to end this kind of a shortage?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Since 1985 there has been a growth in both the absolute numbers of registered nurses in Ontario and the number of nurses entering the workforce. There has been an increase of some 6,300 RNs registered in the province since 1985. I would say to the member that our recent nursing initiatives, which I announced, a five-year, $15-million program to improve both nursing recruitment and nursing retention, involved six very specific areas.
There is a five-year, $5-million nursing innovation fund, as well as annual nursing bursaries. The member knows that I fully understand these issues are very, very complicated, but I would say to him that I will be referring the recommendation of the jury and be sure that it is brought to the attention of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, which bargains in the collective bargaining process with the Ontario Hospital Association.
I want the member to know that last year as well Ontario hospitals received $6 billion, 223 hospitals in this province received some $6 billion, but that the nursing wages are established as part of the collective bargaining process. Surely he is not suggesting that we intervene in that process.
Mr Reville: To the same minister, since we are doing so badly. We get from the Minister of Health a version of the “have a nice day” wish chant that people are familiar with, and that is the “quality care as close to home as possible” wish chant.
I was speaking this morning to a man in Brantford, Ontario, who is in great anxiety because his father is in Ottawa, Ontario: same province at least, but about 300 miles away. His father is there because the cancer referral centre referred him there. The problem, among many problems, is that he was referred there on 22 November, and the Ottawa facility has said, “Maybe we can start your radiation treatment in January.”
Quality care close to home does not work. What about the care that they need when they need it?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The critic in the opposition knows full well that my priority is to see that people get care when they need it. That is the reason that we are working with our partners to see how we can improve the system, to see that people are referred to a location as close to home as possible. He knows as well that I am always prepared to review individual cases to see if appropriate action has been taken. We rely on doctors to use their very best judgement, but my priority always is to see that people have access to the services that they need, effective quality services, when they need them.
Mr Reville: The other option was Thunder Bay, which, the last time anybody I know drove there, was 17 hours from Brantford, Ontario, as opposed to five hours from Brantford to Ottawa. My caller and correspondent says this, “It is extremely difficult to accept the diagnosis of cancer to begin with, and at a time when having the support and love of family and friends is so important, the only hope of survival and, apparently, immediate treatment lies 300 miles away.”
Has the minister anything better to share with this House than her understanding of that kind of anxiety?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think that there is not a person in this House or across the province who has not experienced the tragedy or the stress of having to deal with serious illness. We know that the support of family and communities is very, very important. These are very stressful and difficult moments, and at those times we expect an awful lot from our health care system and we want it to be perfect. It is not perfect, and we are always trying to improve it and to work together to improve it.
I want to say to the member that what we want to know, first and foremost, is that the very best possible care has been made available and I want him to know that we are working at the establishment of the kind of standards and quality assurance programs so that people can be assured that wherever they access care across this province they will be receiving appropriate and optimal care.
Mr Revile: There are a number of understatements in the minister’s response. It clearly is not perfect. The cancer was spotted in June 1989. My constituent, and I say that in the generic sense, was sent to Ottawa on 20 November.
Hon Mr Scott: What other possible sense is there?
Mr Revile: I wish the Attorney General would try to calm himself. I know it must be really irritating to be an Attorney General for that kind of government.
Somehow five months elapsed before the referral centre could even find a place to send the person suffering from cancer, and once he got there, he was then told he was going to have to wait two more months. There is a huge irony in this. The minister will probably know if she has read the history that Dr James Hillier comes from Brantford, Ontario. The member for St Andrew-St Patrick (Mr Kanter) knows that because he comes from Brantford, Ontario. It is not just the home of the telephone; it is the home of radiation treatment.
The Speaker: Order. Do you have a question? I do not know if there was a question there or not.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think it is important for all members of this House to realize that if something has gone seriously wrong, there are highly effective procedures, processes and organizations, like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which will thoroughly investigate any particular case. I do not question physician judgement.
I have to say to the member opposite that if the College of Physicians and Surgeons receives a complaint about the care that any individual has received from any doctor in this province, it will investigate and best advise the patient as to what to do. I would say to him that in fact we are always trying to improve. I understand the frustration, and if he has any advice, he knows that I am always open to his suggestions on how we can make the system a little bit better tomorrow than it was yesterday.
Mr Brandt: My question as well is for the Minister of Health. I have to say to the minister, and I say this with respect, that it is almost painful the way we have to extract answers to questions to clarify policies on the part of the Ministry of Health. I want to attempt it once again today, because of some confusing signals that the minister sent out yesterday in response to questions in answers that she gave both inside and outside of this House.
Inside the House, in response to my question, the minister indicated that in order to be assured of health coverage after 1 January, those individuals who had received bills during the latter part of 1989 for their OHIP premiums would in fact have to pay those premiums to have health coverage for January, February and March of the new year.
Outside of the House, the minister indicated even if those premiums were not paid, those individuals would have access to the system and would not in fact be charged for any health-related expenses, should they become ill some time in the first three months of the new year. Could the minister once and for all clarify the position of her ministry and the government in connection with this whole premium policy?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the leader of the third party that if there is any confusion in this province, he bears responsibility for it. I will state very, very clearly, as I have before, that all residents will continue to have access to health care services in this province. During this time of transition it is extremely important that we not confuse this issue. My concern is that people have access to those services. If the member wants to play games with doublespeak and innuendo, then he should bear the responsibility of the confusion that he has created.
Mr Brandt: The word “access” crept into the minister’s vocabulary still another day, in spite of my attempt to assist the minister yesterday in how confusing that particular word was relative to the question I am asking. Is the minister saying, and I will give her a specific case, if someone does not pay his OHIP premiums for January, February and March, which he must pay some time before the end of 1989, and if that individual slips on the ice and breaks his leg and is hospitalized but has not paid his premiums for the first three months of 1990, that those health-related costs are going to be covered? It is a simple question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say again to the leader of the third party that I would encourage him during this time of transition from premiums to a tax-funding system for the health services of this province not to confuse the issue in the minds of people. I want the people of this province not to worry as we change the system. As of 1 January, all residents of Ontario will be covered and all residents will have access to the services that they need and they need not worry.
Mr Brandt: We have already established that in addition to a transition period in which the minister is changing the method by which she is going to be collecting money from the Ontario public, that she will be at the very least collecting an additional $300 million from the system. She will be replacing $1.8 billion in OHIP premiums with $2.1 billion in the new employer health levy, which her government has determined is the better way to go.
If in fact it is the better way to go, let’s just assure the Ontario public that they are going to be hit with an additional $300 million. Why does the minister not do the right thing, perhaps to simplify how this whole matter could be clarified in the minds of the Ontario public, by bringing in that change of premium and in fact the coverage on 1 April 1990 and telling the Ontario public that with or without premiums they are going to be covered for January, February and March?
Now, in so doing, I recognize the government will lose the bonusing that the Treasurer has built into this new scheme, but the minister will effectively balance the books. Why does she not do that and come clean and tell the Ontario public that she is not going to collect that extra money and cover them?
The Speaker: That is a very good speech.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I know that the leader of the third party could understand this if he put his mind to it. The employer health tax will be used to raise revenues to provide the services that the people of this province need and require through the Ministry of Health. He knows as well that this change from a premium to a tax represents a $1-billion tax cut for the people of this province. That has been explained to him by the Treasurer. I would suggest that maybe he does not want to understand, but I think he could if he put his mind to this.
The member knows how important it is to ensure that health services are appropriately funded. My commitment is to see that people have access to the health services they need. I want to reassure them that as we change from one system to another, they will not be denied access to the services they need. I ask the member, during this time of transition, to try to lessen the confusion by giving the people the facts.
Mr Pope: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. In the absence of the ability of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) to answer simple questions put with respect to Bill 47, the Employer Health Tax Act, 1989 -- the doctors cannot extra-bill but the Liberal government can. I guess that is the message the Minister of Health has given.
Could the Minister of Revenue do something that the government refused to do for an hour and a half yesterday in the Legislature, and that is confirm what the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft), the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer, said to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs last Thursday 7 December when he indicated that $500 million would be collected for January, February and March 1990 under the employer health tax levy system, while the government would be collecting $435 million in OHIP premiums for January, February and March 1990? Will the minister confirm this double collection and that what the member for Middlesex said was true?
Hon Mr Mancini: Let me quote from Hansard of 19 October 1989. Let me quote what the Treasurer said to a similar charge that was made by the opposition at that time.
“Because we count the dollars, and they are not doubled, I can assure the honourable member that the cash flow coming originally from the insurance premiums that end at the end of December and the tax that begins on 1 January will be identical except for the three per cent increase that is associated with moving the support from 13 per cent, which is where we are now, to approximately 16 per cent, where we will be next year.”
That is more or less the identical answer that I gave to the honourable member yesterday in committee.
Mr Pope: Last Thursday the standing committee on finance and economic affairs examined Bill 47. We as an opposition demanded answers from the spokesman for the government with respect to the collection of OHIP premiums up until the end of December for the period January, February and March of 1990. At the same time, the government is taking the employer health tax, payroll tax, for the same period of January, February and March.
Mr Orsini, an official of this government, indicated that for January, February and March, it was collecting $435 million in OHIP premiums. Two minutes before then, the member for Middlesex, who had called on Mr Orsini, indicated that the payroll tax would give to the coffers of the province of Ontario $500 million for that same period.
Will the minister confirm that the government is double-taxing the people of the province of Ontario and confirm what the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer and what his own government official told the members of that committee last Thursday?
Hon Mr Mancini: That question has been asked a number of times. It has been answered a number of times. It is very clear that one system ends on 31 December and that another system begins on 1 January. There are no double dollars that go to the Treasury, as the Treasurer stated to the Legislature on 19 October, but the facts are that well over 270,000 individuals and well over 300,000 families will not have to make OHIP premium payments in the future. They will have their OHIP covered under the new employer health tax which requires all employers to make a fair contribution, with a special half-rate for small business.
Mr Pope: The minister, like the Minister of Health, over many days of discussion has refused to confirm information given to members of a committee of this Legislature by the ministries’ own representatives. He refused to confirm this double taxation.
The minister has inadvertently made an incorrect statement to this House just now. He said the OHIP premium system ends on 31 December 1989. In fact, Mr Orsini, who was called upon by the member for Middlesex to give information to members of the committee last Thursday said, “There are no premiums collected in the January-February-March period, but the payments made for January, February and March” -- OHIP premiums -- ‘would amount to over $400,000 million, approximately $435,000 million.”
How can the minister stand here and deny that people are not paying OHIP premiums for January, February and March 1990 when his own officials told a House committee last Thursday that this was a fact? How can the minister deny the truth of double taxation when it is there for everyone to see?
Hon Mr Bradley: But please spend more on health care while you’re at it.
Hon Mr Mancini: That is exactly right and that is what some of the members opposite wanted us to do last night. They wanted us to increase our expenditures in health care and they wanted us to take in less revenue. They know the facts. They have tried to distort the facts.
If OHIP premiums had not been frozen in 1984-85 by this government and if they had been indexed to the consumer price index, OHIP premiums today would bring in to the government $2.6 billion, not the $2.1 billion that is going to be brought in by the employer health tax.
Mr Mackenzie: In view of the absence of the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Conway), I would like to go to the Premier. The government of Ontario has established provincial statutes dealing with apprentices and journeymen in the construction industry through the Apprenticeship and Tradesmen’s Qualifications Act. These statutes have, unfortunately, been given to the Minister of Skills Development to implement, govern and enforce and that simply has not been happening as the hundreds of tradespeople who were outside this building this morning can attest to.
In light of recent evidence that problems are developing with respect to both apprenticeship training and health and safety programs, can the Premier tell the House if it is true that we have only five enforcement officers working for the ministry trying to deal with and regulate over 30 regulated trades covering thousands of workers in the province of Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am sorry I cannot answer that question specifically about how many enforcement officers there are. I will inquire of the minister and he can report to the member specifically on that question.
Mr Mackenzie: At the same time, while inquiring of the minister, if the number of enforcement officers is there because the ministry feels they are competent to deal with the act, can we also find out why, with some dozen applications made for prosecution under the act, none have been proceeded with and there appears to have been no prosecution since 1966? How can the government so flagrantly ignore the very real issues that are facing skilled tradespeople in the province of Ontario and what is this government prepared to do about it?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am sorry I cannot answer the specific question the honourable member raises. I do know there was a demonstration here today about, I gather, the ratios with number of apprentices to tradespeople today. As the member knows, that entire matter is under review by a number of committees, sectoral committees looking at the various trades.
It is our view, as well, that on one hand, as my honourable friend knows, there is a shortage of skilled labour and that will continue in the future unless it is addressed, and we believe that the labour movement has to be part of the solution. As the member knows, as well, a number of programs are being developed through the Premier’s Council in conjunction with labour that we hope will share the ownership and the solutions to some of these problems. They are all complicated and interrelated.
I am sorry I cannot answer his specific question, but I can tell my honourable friend that the broad question is under review at the present time.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Premier. I am sure he will now be aware of the coroner’s inquest and the coroner’s jury’s recommendations with respect to the death of Stella Lacroix: the first recommendation being that the medical staff of Huronia District Hospital, with particular emphasis on Dr Derek Nesdoly, Nurse Sharon Noon and Administrative Nursing Co-ordinator Dennis Lahaie, be commended for their dedicated and sincere efforts on behalf of their patient Stella Lacroix.
Both the Premier and the Minister of Health on 12 October of this year made remarks in the Legislature that there was a system in place, that all Dr Nesdoly had to do was avail himself of that system and his problems would have been solved, and that for the life of them, they did not know why he did not use that system.
I think that is a disparaging remark with respect to Dr Nesdoly, especially in light of the coroner’s jury’s recommendations. The Minister of Health refused to apologize to Dr Nesdoly yesterday. Would the Premier do that today for us?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister can answer the member’s question and I have every confidence in her.
The Speaker: Order. It has been referred to the Minister of Health.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to remind the member opposite that last June when we announced that we were establishing regional trauma and critical care hotlines across the province that member said they were not necessary and all doctors knew exactly who to call. He knows, as well, that simply because he says something does not mean that he is informed, correct, or has the facts.
He knows full well that all information was shared with this House in good faith and that no one on this side of the House blamed anybody for anything. We said we wanted all the facts to come out. I commend the coroner’s jury and everyone who was involved in helping to get all the facts out, and I would say to him that he does no one a service by trying further to inflame that which was never inflamed in the first place.
Mr Eves: I do not know what that was, but that certainly was not an answer to the question that was asked. The question that was asked was a question of the Premier of the province of Ontario about a disparaging remark he made publicly and in this chamber about a doctor in the medical profession whom a coroner’s jury has subsequently found to deserve a commendation, not criticism by the Minister of Health or the Premier of the province.
I asked for an apology. Numerous members have asked for it several times. I have no supplementary. They have no class over there.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. As the minister is aware, there have been considerable concerns expressed in our area regarding possible health problems and even deaths as a result of alleged and possible working conditions at the former Robson-Lang tannery in Barrie.
I am pleased that the minister has had an inquiry and an investigation, but there are media reports which are quoting certain sources as saying that there are substantial deaths and health problems and there are other reports saying that there are not any concrete or specific results coming out of the study. Can the minister give us some guidance or tell us what the status is of the investigation and what information is evolving from his investigation?
Hon Mr Phillips: I very much appreciate the ongoing interest by the member for Simcoe Centre from the outset of the matter. The single most important thing perhaps is that all the individuals involved feel comfortable and confident in the process that is going on.
What we have done is establish a study. The Ministry of Labour will co-ordinate it, but it will involve also the injured workers, the union that has been involved in that particular tannery and the tannery association to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation. I think that is the most important thing; that all of the parties involved feel a part of that study, be involved in that study and be a part of the design of that study.
Frankly, what we are looking for now are names and addresses of individuals who worked in that institution over the longest period of time we can possibly find, so we can conduct the most thorough possible study.
Mr Owen: I am sure the minister appreciates that because of all of the publicity and concern there are many people who are going through a great deal of anxiety with regard to what has happened to them and what has happened to members of their family.
Does the minister have any idea as to the time that might be involved before some results or information might be available to either tell them there is reason for concern or there might not be reason for concern? When might they get some information that could satisfy them as to what the risks have been?
Hon Mr Phillips: This study will not be one that can be done really quickly. What we have also done is we have asked the tannery association for names of individuals involved in other tanneries. We have asked the former head office of this organization for names, and I think we got 800 names from it, because in order to do the kind of comprehensive study that we are going to have to do, we are going to require a fairly large number of individuals and a fairly sophisticated study. So, in terms of being able to comfort people that this can be done quickly, I do not think we can do that. It is going to require a number of months.
In the meantime, I believe there have been 80 individuals who have submitted claims to workers’ compensation. I would encourage that process to go on as well. I guess the reassurance I can give the member is that the study has the involvement of the affected parties, that the results will be known and will be a matter of public record, and I hope that we have enough involvement in the development of the study that individuals feel confident that they have a say in that study.
Mr Pouliot: My question is to minister responsible for native affairs. The Human Rights Code of Ontario says the following -- it is very simple, and please, with respect, listen very intently -- “Every person has the right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex,” etc.
How does the minister explain, in this year of Our Lord 1989, on the eve of Christmas, that aboriginal people in northern Ontario have little or no running water, sewage treatment, garbage disposal, adequate housing, ambulance service, care for elders, midwifery service, education and preventive programs, programs to deal with substance abuse, spousal abuse, etc? How does he explain that position -- that discrepancy between what the code says and what is the sad reality of today?
Hon Mr Scott: I take the honourable member’s point and I think it is a sound one, but he will recognize that resources are not provided, unhappily, equitably all across the country or across the province, for that matter. People who live in rural communities do not get access to some services that are available to people who live in urban communities. Our native people have been the victims of that kind of difficulty in remote communities and in urban communities for many generations.
It is a serious, difficult, human problem that we are trying to address, and as I did try to address the other day when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) was jeering at me. I understand the nature of the problem and we are trying to respond effectively.
Mr Wlldman: I will not jeer at the minister. I would like to draw his attention to a report recently published by the Thunder Bay district health unit on prenatal mortality in northwestern Ontario, which relates to the kinds of conditions my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon delineated.
On the first page it says: “Using a nine-year average for the district of Thunder Bay and Ontario, Thunder Bay averaged 16 per cent higher perinatal mortality rate than Ontario. The other two districts in northwestern Ontario, Kenora and Rainy River, inflated the northwestern Ontario rate by an additional 11 percent. The perinatal mortality rate for natives is estimated to increase the district rate by 12 per cent.”
The study goes on to relate this to the high incidence of teenage pregnancies, lack of access to medical care and preventive health programs, alcohol and substance abuse and the smoking of tobacco. What is this government doing to respond to this terrible situation where infants are dying at a much higher rate because of the poor living conditions and social conditions that the aboriginal people of northwestern Ontario experience?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the Minister of Health has been active to provide a series of resources and a series of programs to assist native people in northern Ontario and in other parts of the province for whom we are obliged to provide services. One of the difficulties, as the honourable member knows, is that almost all medical services for on-reserve native people are provided by the federal government.
I will be glad to take up any individual case that the honourable member has where the responsibility is provincial, as I said to the honourable member the other day. I know he did not accept it and I understand why. Native people are concerned about assuring themselves that the federal government, which has a constitutional obligation towards them, does not recede from those obligations.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. It has to do with his rent registry, which is part of his government’s new Residential Rent Regulation Act. As the minister will know, the registry is responsible for recording the maximum legal rents that are allowed to be charged in this province. His ministry has been promising all Ontarians since May 1987, and I quote from his annual report, “that tenants will be able to call their local rent review office to find out any available information recorded on their computer systems.”
Millions of dollars have been spent on computers, millions of dollars on software programmers and on new staff. Could the minister please advise this House today, after three years of operating the rent registry, just how many rental units are accurately recorded and available on computer to Ontario residents when they phone his offices?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I am sorry, I do not know that number, but I will get it for the honourable member. But I want to tell him that when I became minister I instructed my staff to redirect all staff resources, including taking some away from the rent registry. That was a decision that I made towards reducing the waiting list for rent review hearings. I take full responsibility for that and it was simply a choice that I had to make.
We now have the number down from roughly 27,000, I think, to about 9,000. I want to get it down even further. As soon as I have made that kind of impact, I will reassign the staff back to the registry.
Mr Jackson: The minister need not apologize for that decision. That is the very reason why he was appointed to that ministry that so desperately needed the leadership and management skills, because of the mess the rent registry is in this province.
However, there is a fundamental point of conflict between what the legislation promises a tenant in this province -- section 60 of the act gives tenants certain rights so that they are notified by his government through the use of the 9R form. His government has decided not to issue these 9R forms; not thousands but hundreds of thousands of forms.
I now have come to be advised that there is a report on his desk that the whole program be scrapped because of the rent registry program, because, in fact, we are looking at millions and millions more dollars in order to make it work. Would the minister please confirm to this House, as he has graciously confirmed the other tough decisions he has had to make, that he will be making this decision, and very soon, and that he will advise this House?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I want to assure the honourable member that within all ministries of government we are being asked to make some decisions like that and it is a case of, where are we going to put the resources that are available to us?
That decision has not been made. I cannot tell him whether or not it will be made, but obviously it is part of the legislation and I cannot just dismiss it. But I can tell him that there are a couple of other parts of the regulation that I have not proclaimed yet, simply because I do not have -- it is not that I do not have the resources, but I have chosen to put them somewhere else, at least temporarily. Until I have a better fix as to how long I am going to need them someplace else, I cannot make the decision he is asking me to make.
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. It is estimated that this province produces about 400,000 tonnes of newsprint per year, and if all that were recycled, we could save about 6.8 million trees a year. We are currently collecting about half that in our tremendously successful blue box program, but I am only aware of a handful of newspapers that are actually using recycled paper -- the Financial Post, the Toronto Sun, the Brantford Expositor, the St Catharines Standard and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.
Many Ontario newspapers are still using unrecycled print. I am wondering if there is anything that we can do to encourage our newspapers to use recycled newsprint.
Hon Mr Bradley: The member certainly raises --
Mr Brandt: Yes or no.
Hon Mr Bradley: The leader of the third party wants a yes or no answer and he knows it will require some elaboration. Naturally, it would be desirable if the newspapers across this province -- and I understand that in fact a good number of them intend to do so -- would adopt as a policy recycled content in their paper. Some have had their contracts already come up and have been able to do a new contract.
There is one company in the province of Ontario, the Quebec and Ontario Paper Co in Thorold, which has a de-inking plant that is now able to produce paper which is both virgin fibre and which has in it a component that is recycled newsprint.
I expect that the major newspapers in the province, as their contracts come up, will be stipulating that there will be recycled content in that newsprint. That will be very desirable. Certainly a lot of municipalities would be favourable to that. In our ministry’s meetings with the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association we have in fact ensured that it knows of that message, and we have had an undertaking that it would be proceeding in that direction at the earliest point in time.
Mr D. R. Cooke: One prominent newspaper had the nerve on Sunday to feature a story about the marketing problems of recycling goods, particularly newsprint, but it neglected to point out in this paper that it is actually printed itself on unrecycled paper. I am wondering if the minister is prepared to legislate the mandatory use of recycled fibre newsprint so that newspapers that are not co-operating with his suggestions will be forced to do so.
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member may be aware, the option that is always available to us when people do not enthusiastically embrace recycling and reduction and reuse in the province of Ontario is the opportunity to regulate.
Mr Brandt: Recycle.
Hon Mr Bradley: Sorry, recycle -- no, regulate. I have the former Environment minister on the other side trying to confuse me. Anyway, I will continue to say that the option of regulation is always there. We have had such enthusiastic support for recycling in the province of Ontario, and certainly we have had an undertaking from the newspaper publishers’ association that it is actively pursuing this. I personally have been at a meeting where the representatives of the three major dailies in Metropolitan Toronto were present to discuss this matter, and certainly there seemed to be enthusiasm among those people to proceed in this direction as their contracts come up. Naturally, they are not in a position at this time to break a contract.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Premier. He may or may not know, but according to the Daily Bread Food Bank, there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people per month using the food bank in this world-class city of his called Metropolitan Toronto. I wonder if the Premier could tell us what plans his government has to make food banks nothing but an embarrassing memory for this province.
Hon Mr Peterson: We have very extensive plans, but I think the Minister of Community and Social Services could bring the members up to date on them.
Hon Mr Beer: I think that none of us are at all content to see that food banks are there, and indeed that is why we have been trying to focus specifically on the issues of poverty and how to provide more assistance specifically to single parents, to children, so that those kinds of services are not required. If the members look at the major reforms which this government brought in in the spring which are now being implemented through the fall and with further increases in January, we believe that that is going to be putting money directly into the pockets of those who most need it. Much more still remains to be done, but in our view that is the most effective way to deal with this issue, which is to get assistance to those at the lower end of the economic scale so that they have more money for food and they have more money for shelter.
Mr Laughren: I am not convinced that what the minister is going to do will be nearly enough to get rid of food banks in Metropolitan Toronto. I could remind the minister as well that out of that 80,000 to 90,000 people who use the food bank, approximately 14,000 are the working poor in Metropolitan Toronto. Could I ask the minister if he has done his job of lobbying the Treasurer to make sure that people who are working and still receiving income below the poverty level will no longer pay provincial income tax in the province of Ontario. Has he done his job in that regard?
Hon Mr Beer: I think that we have been looking at a number of ways in which we want to help those who are not able to help themselves or who are at that edge where it is difficult to make ends meet -- the reforms that we announced, the supports to employment program by which we are putting people back into jobs and phasing in the way in which they receive assistance before they move on to self-sufficiency, the kinds of programs that we are bringing forward in terms of developing better jobs and providing assistance for better training so workers can have improved jobs. There is a whole series of things that obviously have to be done, and we not only have to keep talking as members of cabinet to the Treasurer or to other colleagues but we also have to carry that message out to the broader public in terms of the recognition of how important it is that we ensure that we make changes so that people are receiving more adequate compensation.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Villeneuve: This is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister, l am sure, is aware of statements made by one of his parliamentary assistants, my neighbour and colleague the member for Cornwall (Mr Cleary) to the effect that the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program would likely be restored next year. Can the minister tell us now what sort of a program it will be, and get farmers ready to be able to utilize to their best advantage this anticipated program?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I think we can accept the remarks of my parliamentary assistant who, by the way, I would like to say, is doing one heck of a job representing eastern Ontario and agriculture, and for me, and I would like to applaud him for doing that. I accept those remarks in good faith as encouragement to me to review, as I am, all the financial programs we have within the ministry, and I am looking at the farm financial programs of past and present to come up with a very good package of farm programs later on this year.
Mr Villeneuve: Surely the minister will be aware that farmers need a little bit of lead time to get prepared for this. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has lobbied long and hard -- so has this party -- for a replacement of the OFFIRR program. We have higher interest rates now than we had when the program was initiated. Will the minister now tell Ontario’s agricultural community when this program will come about so that we can get ready for it?
Hon Mr Ramsay: My friend in the third party obviously is aware of the budget cycles and that it is impossible for ministries to announce programs at the end of the budget cycle. We prepare our planning now for the next budget cycle that begins 1 April and it is impossible to say now what we are going to be doing. But I am obviously consulting with all those groups that are talking to us and giving us their views. We are listening, and I think the member is going to be pleased, come this spring, with all the announcements that this government will be bringing to help all the people of this province.
Mrs Stoner: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. I would like to ask the minister if she is aware of the situation at the Pickering nuclear generating plant involving radioactive water, specifically drums of radioactive water and other materials that are crammed in the corridors of that plant? The Atomic Energy Control Board recently criticized Ontario Hydro for poor housekeeping at the Pickering plant and said that poor maintenance at the plant could lead to doses of radiation that are not absolutely necessary. Could the minister comment?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I was, indeed, aware of the concerns that have been expressed by the Atomic Energy Control Board, which, as the honourable member knows, is the monitoring and regulatory agency for the Pickering plant, as for other nuclear generating plants in Ontario. I certainly did not have to bring that concern to the attention of Ontario Hydro. They have been made well aware of it through the report of the AECB.
They have responded to the concerns that were identified by increasing their staff at Pickering and at Bruce to deal with the backlog of maintenance work specifically related to some of the housekeeping issues identified, and they are also taking a new approach to the storage of tritiated heavy water. I would also recognize, of course, that once the tritium-removal facility is fully functional, the actual storage of tritiated heavy water at Pickering would be reduced to a minimum.
Mrs Stoner: My supplementary is that because safety factors are so crucial at a nuclear generating plant, can the minister give us some idea of what action will be taken in the future to ensure safety at those facilities?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would recognize, of course, that the operation of the facility is very much within the jurisdiction of Ontario Hydro and, again, that the monitoring and regulating and the concern for inspecting the safety of that operation lies with the Atomic Energy Control Board. I think it is very important that we continue to stress the role that independent body has in ensuring that the safe operation is being supervised.
Specifically in relationship again to the storing of tritiated heavy water, Ontario Hydro is going to be receiving new bulk containers early in the new year and those are going to be stored in a special storage area. I think that this will relieve the concerns about the safety of storage of those minimal amounts of tritiated heavy water that would continue to be stored at Pickering.
Mr Kormos: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Larry Stanley is a young family head in Welland, 31 years old, two children and a wife whom he supports with his job at a local industry. Now, for some good chunk of time he has had his auto insurance provided by Wellington Insurance Co. His wife, the members should know, is an epileptic, and her epilepsy was under control by virtue of the medication that she took.
Last year, when she was pregnant with the Stanley’s second child, she was sick. She vomited on a daily basis and was unable to keep that medication down. As a result of that, she had a seizure, the first one she had had in a considerable period of time, not while she was driving a car, but a seizure none the less. Her doctor appropriately reported that to the ministry. Her license was suspended. Her driving privileges are suspended; she cannot drive a car.
Notwithstanding that, Mr Stanley gets a letter from his broker telling him that because his wife is an epileptic, Wellington is no longer going to insure him. They are denying him insurance coverage and he is being forced into facility. That is a gross injustice.
I ask the minister if he in any way finds that acceptable, and quite frankly, what he is prepared to do for Mr Stanley?
Hon Mr Elston: Actually, the honourable gentleman sort of clandestinely sent me a copy of the letter from the broker; it was addressed to Murray Elston. without an indication of where it was coming from, to surprise me, I suspect. But I do appreciate his bringing the letter to my attention.
I do not find it acceptable in my view that they would use this particular serious medical problem as a reason to disentitle Mr Stanley. I will follow up on the letter which my friend has just provided to me, dated 25 November. and I will proceed to ask the people at Wellington to provide me with a full explanation of the legitimate reason which they have in their minds for excluding the husband driver of the car. I do not find it very good at all.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr Chiarelli: On behalf of my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr Patten), I beg leave to present a petition from Steven Willcock and 346 citizens from the Ottawa area to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:
“It is with the utmost distress that we, the undersigned, have learned of the resumption of logging in the Temagami forests. We urge you to do everything in your power to preserve the Temagami forests for all Canadians for ever.”
In accordance with the standing orders, I have attached my signature thereto.
Mr Owen: I have two petitions, one with 81 signatures and the other one with 68 signatures. requesting the repeal of Bill 8, the French Language Services Act, 1986. I have another petition with 120 names, expressing deep concern over the provisions of the new Ontario motorist protection plans.
GREATER TORONTO AREA
Mr Philip: I have a petition signed by about 200 people, most of whom live at West Acres senior citizen’s building in the riding of Etobicoke-Rexdale. Since the petition is fairly long, I will summarize it.
These people are upset about the fact that they are paying higher rates for drivers’ plates in greater Metropolitan Toronto than in other pasts of Ontario and they challenge the Peterson government to stop this discrimination against people by the location in which they live.
I have signed the petition.
Mr Runciman: I have several petitions dealing with the same subject, one from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and one from the public school system, expressing concerns related to Bill 66.
I guess I will sign these. I do not know. Do they take them like this?
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Fort Erie Lions Senior Citizens Complex lnc;
Bill Pr45, An Act respecting Ontario Midwestern Railway Company Limited;
Bill Pr46, An Act to revive Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association;
Bill Pr52, An Act to revive Homes Unlimited (London) lnc;
Bill Pr56, An Act to revive Times Change Women’s Employment Service Inc.
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill Pr54, An Act respecting the Brantford and Southern Railway Company Inc;
Your committee further recommends that the fees, and the actual cost of printing at all stages and in the annual statutes, be remitted on the following bills:
Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Fort Erie Lions Senior Citizens Complex Inc;
Bill Pr38, An Act to dissolve the Board of Trustees of the Ottawa Charitable Foundation; and
Bill PrS6, An Act to revive Times Change Women’s Employment Service Inc.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Wrye moved first reading of Bill 96, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Wrye: Very briefly, these amendments will bring Ontario into conformity with existing truck lengths in the majority of other provinces and American states.
The maximum length for a semi-trailer will be increased by 1.6 metres to 16.2 metres, an increase of five feet. The maximum permissible length for double trailer combinations will be increased by 2 metres to 25 metres, which is an increase of slightly more than six feet.
The amendments also specify particular requirements for tractor wheelbases, restrictions to the box length of combination vehicles and limits to the number of axles and their maximum loads.
We believe that these changes will improve Ontario’s economic competitiveness but at the same time will actually enhance public safety.
LAW SOCIETY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 97, An Act to amend the Law Society Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Scott: The purpose of this bill is to permit exchange programs for crown attorneys so that we can exchange within the Commonwealth by sending our crown attorneys out to other jurisdictions and receiving theirs back. This bill will permit the law society to admit those persons who come to Ontario for this purpose as members of the bar for a limited period of time.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
UNCLAIMED INTANGIBLE PROPERTY ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR LES BILLETS IMMATERIELS NONRECLAMES
Mr Reycraft, on behalf of Mr R. F. Nixon, moved second reading of Bill 86, An Act respecting the Custody of Unclaimed Intangible Property.
Mr Reycraft: I am pleased to introduce Bill 86 for second reading. The bill was introduced for first reading by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) on 5 December and is an initiative announced in the 1989 budget, which was presented by the Treasurer on 17 May.
Bill 86 establishes for the first time in Canada a comprehensive unclaimed intangible property program. The Unclaimed Intangible Property Act will create an important means of returning unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Such property includes cheques, deposits, refunds, money orders, corporate shares and dividends, unpaid wages and insurance proceeds. The bill does not affect land or tangible personal property such as cars, boats or safety deposit boxes.
Under this bill, property becomes unclaimed after between one and 20 years, depending on the type of property. Most types of property will become unclaimed when there has been no communication between the holder and the owner for five years. Shorter time periods apply to properties such as unpaid wages where owners are likely to demand immediate payment. Longer time periods apply to property such as travellers’ cheques.
The public trustee will administer the program on behalf of the province. Once a year, the holders of unclaimed property will be required to file an initial report which the public trustee will use to advertise for missing owners in daily newspapers across the province. It is expected that a significant proportion of owners will come forward as a result of these advertisements, particularly as people become more aware of this program. Owners who come forward will be referred to the holders to claim their property.
Property that remains unclaimed six months after the initial report must be transferred to the public trustee. The public trustee will convert the property into cash. At the close of each fiscal year, the value of the property held by the public trustee, less a reserve from which to pay claims, will be placed in the consolidated revenue fund to benefit the people of Ontario. The rightful owners of property will have the perpetual right to claim the money equivalent of their property less an administrative fee. Where the property was interest-bearing before the transfer, interest will be paid on claims.
I want to emphasize that the intent of this legislation is to return unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Once the property is fully operational, we anticipate the public trustee will receive approximately $15 million each yeas from holdings.
Mr Laughren: I am pleased to see the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer shepherding this bill through the chamber. I like people who do shepherding of any kind.
I must say that my first impression of this bill is that it is worthy of support because, if I understand the legislation properly, it is simply that at the present time unclaimed property can stay with the financial institution and the financial institution can reap any rewards when that intangible property is converted into cash, and I presume it could even be interest-bearing intangible property. Surely to goodness, that should be rectified. There is no reason why the financial institutions should be able to have that windfall when they did nothing to earn it.
I suppose there are some rather strange events that lead to property being unclaimed. The imagination can do wonders with that, but I would assume that a lot of it is on death and people not knowing the property was even there. I can recall reading one time how many bank accounts W. C. Fields had all across the United States when he died; presumably somebody got the benefit of that and presumably it was the financial institutions where the bank accounts were opened and where the money was held.
I believe as well that under this bill, if I read it correctly again, the banks have to inform as best they can the owners of the intangible property. If they have no idea who the rightful owners are, and it is simply sitting there in financial institutions, I can see where those financial institutions would be in a quandary as to what to do next. That is why I think it is appropriate that they would then have to contact the public trustee and say, “Look, we’ve got some intangible property here, and we don’t know what to do with it, so it’s up to you.”
I assume as well, and I hope the parliamentary assistant will respond to this, if this bill does not go into committee of the whole that he will deal with the question of retroactivity. When the bill does become law, at what point when property was left unclaimed will this bill apply?
I know section 48 says, “This act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor,” which presumably means that is when the bill will become law; but that does not answer my problem as to what happens if there is property that has been there for the last six months or even the last year. Does that property then become subject to this bill? Even though the bill was not in effect for the last number of years, when it is proclaimed, there will still be a lot of property already in place in those financial institutions.
I hope the parliamentary assistant will be able to respond to my concern there, because surely to goodness, just because a bill becomes law, for example, on 1 February, that does not mean only property that is unclaimed after 1 February should be sent back to the rightful owner or to somebody who has a right to claim that intangible property. I would hope that the bill would apply to existing unclaimed intangibles in the financial institutions, because if members just read it the way it is, it would seem that way to me.
The trustee, as I understand it, is going to advertise when a financial institution notifies the trustee that it has unclaimed property. The trustee will then put ads in the appropriate papers. I do not know how the trustee is going to figure out which are the appropriate papers, how many ads to put in or how much money it will be encouraged to spend in that regard. Surely to goodness, the purpose of the bill is not to make money for the province but to get property back to its rightful owner.
Already we have seen this Treasurer at work. It is not without cause that he is known as Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon. That is what he is known as increasingly around the province, despite my attempts to stop people from using that phrase, Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon. People are using it. More and more out there are calling him Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon. I do not think people should be calling the Treasurer, Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon, and I am doing what I can to dissuade them from using that expression, but they keep using it over and over again; it is Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon.
Some members may recall that the judge who sentenced Jimmy Bakker to 45 years in jail was known as Maximum Bob because he always gave the maximum sentence, it seemed. The Treasurer is increasingly being known by many of his critics -- not me, but many of his critics -- as Maximum Bob because he taxes the maximum. That is why he is apparently known as Maximum Bob, Tax-to-the-Max Nixon. For those members who did not understand how that phrase began, it began with Jimmy Bakker, of all people.
I trust the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer will reassure us that this is not a tax grab; that it is not its purpose. It is to return property to its rightful owner or their heirs or whoever. It is certainly to have it either stay in the financial institution or be a windfall to the Treasurer. We are not talking chicken feed here. During the first yeas, I think, $25 million is what the Treasury officials expect they will get in because there will be more the first year. The second yeas it will be around $20 million to the province, and $15 million every year after that. I am sure they have to be fairly rough estimates because they do not know what all is out there.
I would just like the assurances of the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer that this is not meant to be a tax grab by Tax-to-the-Max Nixon, Maximum Bob, as some people will call him.
There is one other area of concern that I hope the parliamentary assistant will deal with, and that is if no one claims the intangible property and it is liquidated, what assurances will there be that it will be liquidated at market value? What process is going to be put in place to ensure that there is the appropriate amount of money as a result of that liquidation and that there is not some kind of arbitrariness in that process? I would be interested in knowing what the Treasury people have in mind concerning the liquidation of the property.
I know the financial institutions have some concerns about this bill. My colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) will be dealing more extensively with the concerns of the financial institutions because if there are some serious problems about administering this bill, then we should air them, get the bill out there and let everybody have a go at it because, having had no such legislation since time began presumably, there is no reason that this needs to be rushed through in the next couple of days without full hearings.
If the concerns of the financial institutions are legitimate, then surely to goodness we should be listening to them. Quite frankly, I do not know if they are legitimate, but I do know that the member for Cochrane South is going to deal with that more fully.
I think the bill is worthy of support because I believe it does rectify a wrong, namely, that financial institutions, just by luck, would get a windfall when unclaimed property reverted to them and presumably increased their asset base.
With those remarks, I would simply say that we will be supporting this bill.
Le Vice-Président : Questions et commentaires au sujet de la présentation du député de Nickel Belt ? Sinon, d’autres commentaires ? Le député de Cochrane-Sud.
M. Pope: J’aimerais indiquer que notre parti, le Parti progressiste-conservateur, appuie ce projet de loi. Nous sommes d’accord avec les principes du projet de loi, mais nous avons appris, des institutions financières de l’Ontario, qu’il y avait quelques problèmes techniques avec certains détails et certaines phrases contenus dans ce projet de loi.
Alors, je pense qu’il faut résoudre ces problèmes dans le cadre d’un comité de la Législature. On pourrait faire cela rapidement et voir des progrès rapidement aussi, mais nous sommes d’accord avec le principe que le distingué député a présenté aujourd’hui dans le projet de loi.
I wanted to indicate very briefly that we support the principles of the bill, following my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren). We are anxious to indicate that publicly for the record. We agree that unclaimed intangible property should be treated this way and that the public trustee has a role to play in these matters. We have been informed by a number of individuals about some concerns over this legislation, and I have sent to the parliamentary assistant one of the messages I received by fax just an hour ago; I know he has handed it to his officials to analyse.
I believe there is a call by the Canadian Bankers’ Association through David Phillips, its director of legal affairs, that this bill be sent to committee. I talked to him on the phone just a few minutes ago. He has indicated that there had been some discussions with the financial community in the month of June or July with respect to potential legislation, that they were aware this had been introduced on 5 December but they felt they had not had adequate time to analyse the detailed provisions of the legislation. They also feel there may be a conflict between the operation of some of the technical provisions of this act and some of the other regulatory requirements of financial institutions. They have some technical concerns with respect to some of the wording, and they would like an opportunity to make presentations to the minister, to the parliamentary assistant and perhaps to a committee of the Legislature in order to resolve them.
I have indicated to them and I indicate again to this House that we support the concepts contained in this bill. We think it is long overdue and we will be supporting this bill on second reading. We urge the parliamentary assistant to the minister to allow these technical concerns to be worked out, and I know he will take that under advisement.
Mr Reycraft: I want to thank my colleagues the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Cochrane South for their comments and their support in principle of Bill 86.
I will respond to some of the questions that were presented in their remarks. To my friend the member for Nickel Belt, let me say that he is right, that there currently exists no mechanism within this province that would assist owners of unclaimed property to recover their property. In fact, there is no legislation anywhere in Canada that provides the kind of mechanism that is being made available to the people of Ontario through Bill 86.
The member asked for some clarification about what property would be included within the scope of the bill and in particular seemed to be interested in its degree of retroactivity. Generally speaking, once Bill 86 is proclaimed, it will apply to all unclaimed property in the province. To that extent indeed, it is retroactive. The only exception to that that I should advise him of at this point would be property where the ownership rights or the rights of the owner have been lawfully terminated under some other piece of legislation, perhaps the statute of limitations or some other provincial law. With that caveat, I can say that the bill is retroactive and it will apply to all unclaimed property.
The member also asked me for some assurance that the property would be liquidated at market values. Under the legislation, the responsibility for liquidating the property is vested in the public trustee and it is deemed appropriate to allow the trustee to make the judgement on the most appropriate time to enact that liquidation. When common shares of stock are involved, for example, it might be that the trustee would prefer to liquidate the property in stages, rather than all at once, because of possible consequences.
To the member for Cochrane South, who expressed concerns that he had received on behalf of the Canadian Bankers’ Association, I want to say that there has been a lengthy consultation between various groups and organizations that are interested in the bill and officials in the Treasury and the Ministry of Economics. Specifically, I can cite two formal consultations that occurred between officials of the Canadian Bankers’ Association and Treasury officials. The first of those was on 21 July of this year and the second on 20 September. Indeed, it is as a result of concerns that have been presented in that consultation that many, many changes were made in the draft legislation.
Holders of unclaimed property are protected in a number of different ways in the legislation. Subsection 28(l) of the bill provides for relief from liability on behalf of all holders. It states, and I would like to read it into the record at this point: “A holder who transfers property to the public trustee for the purposes of this act in good faith is relieved of all liability to the extent of the value of the property paid or transferred for any claim in respect of the property.” So that provides protection from liability.
Subsection 28(2) also provides for indemnification by the public trustee for holders who might get themselves into some kind of difficulty as a result of transferring unclaimed property to the public trustee. That section states:
“Subject to subsection (3), if a holder transfers property to the public trustee in good faith and thereafter another person claims the property from the person who was the holder or another jurisdiction claims the property under its laws relating to escheat or unclaimed property, the public trustee, upon proof of the claim, will indemnify the person who was the holder as to the claim and legal costs.”
I believe that section indicates very clearly the protection that is provided for the holders of unclaimed property. I should also indicate that since the bill will come into force only upon its proclamation, we will have further time between now and that date to consider other concerns that may be raised by members of the public.
I want to indicate that we are interested in hearing those concerns and we will go to the greatest extent possible to attempt to address them between now and the date of proclamation. I hope I have adequately addressed the concerns that have been expressed by both members. I thank them again for their participation in the debate and ask for their support of this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
BUSINESS INFORMATION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Haggerty moved, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, second reading of Bill 79. An Act to amend Various Statutes in connection with information to be filed and records to be kept by Corporations and Limited Partnerships.
Mr Haggerty: I would like to present for second reading the Business Information Statute Law Amendment Act. 1989.
This act amends the Business Corporations Act, 1982, the Corporations Act, the Corporations Information Act, the Corporations Tax Act and the Limited Partnerships Act. These acts are statutory foundations upon which businesses operate and are identified in Ontario. At present, there are 451,000 active corporations in Ontario, 395 corporate searches are made each year and two thirds of the corporations are not meeting requirements under the present legislation.
Members will recall when the minister introduced the act for first reading in November that the amendments have two purposes: to enhance the accuracy of the information about Ontario businesses maintained for the public record and to improve public access to this information by converting the current paper-based records to a computerized system.
My ministry’s companies branch maintains these records, which are the key link between businesses operating in this province and those who wish to identify them, both consumers and businesses. Businesses will be given the opportunity to confirm or update their information currently held in the public record. The most recent business address on file at the corporations tax branch will be used for this purpose.
As evidence of this government’s commitment to facilitate investment in Ontario, the administrative burden now placed on limited partnerships to continually update the public record on changes of limited partners has been eased. It will now be the general partners who must maintain this information.
I am sure that my honourable colleagues will agree that both consumers and businesses will greatly benefit from a public record of business identification that is more up to date and more accessible.
Mr Farnan: Basically, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, I want to make it clear that in addressing this particular piece of legislation, we are going to disassociate the concerns that we have concerning disclosures. We, as a party. have several concerns in this area with regard to disclosure. Be that as it may, we are going to look at this particular piece of legislation separately, but we do want it on the record because we will come back to the area of disclosure at another time.
Having said that, it would appear that the legislation before us does bring some commonsense approach to this whole area. It brings some uniformity among the various acts and some fine-tuning that calls for increased accountability from the corporate sector. This is a good thing, which is to be commended and to be supported.
Of course, whenever we find that reasonable legislation is brought forward, the government can always be assured of the support of the New Democratic Party.
I note that section 1 amends the Business Corporations Act, 1982 by imposing certain restrictions on the ability of a corporation where the corporation is not complying with the filing requirements under the Corporations Information Act. This is a good thing.
In responding to my statement, I would ask the member for Niagara South (Mr Haggerty) to simply explain for the House -- I am sure he might want an opportunity to comment -- section 2, which amends the Corporations Act. In this area the time during which a dissolved corporation under the Corporations Act can make application for revival has been increased from two years to five years. The member might wish to comment on that particular aspect of the legislation.
We are certainly in support of the whole area of improving the database, computerizing the database, but what we would hope, of course, is that not only do we modernize the information but that we have systems that will make it available, and readily available, and hopefully that the system will cross-reference the information so that we can track the intricate ownership between a whole variety of different companies and the players involved.
I think that basically sums up my remarks. There are other areas we could comment on, but I think in general the New Democratic Party looks upon this as a fairly broad-sweeping housekeeping providing some uniformity and some fine-tuning, and I have to commend the government on this occasion for a certain degree of common sense.
Mr Runciman: The Progressive Conservative Party is also supportive of the legislation. We have a few modest concerns which we will put on the record and hopefully the parliamentary assistant will respond to them, but I would again describe them as relatively modest, mild concerns, if you will, with respect to section 14.
That section deals with the ability of a corporation to sue. The particular clause is 14(2)(b), and I will quote it: “there is no evidence that the public has been deceived or misled.” We believe this should be changed to read, “there is no evidence that the public has been adversely affected or harmed,” rather than “deceived or misled.”
It is our view that the public may be easily misled, but it is of no consequence unless they have been adversely affected or harmed. Now it is possible that a defence attorney might use the premise that the public has been deceived or misled in order to end a trial. We see that as a potential abuse of the legislation and we wanted to make that concern known to the parliamentary assistant and his colleagues.
Also, subsection 14(2)(c) -- again, I will read that section into the record: “at the time of the application to the court, the corporation has filed all notices required by this act and has no unpaid fees or penalties.”
We are concerned that this provision might be employed to prevent a company from engaging in legal action or cause it to end an action which has been initiated. We would certainly appreciate an amendment to the effect that a corporation would have the opportunity to file any outstanding notices and pay any unpaid fees or penalties in order to continue court action. We believe that would be appropriate.
We have another modest concern with respect to the special filing requirements under section 4, simply to put on the record that we hope that those are not also going to be a source of abuse. I think the potential is there and hope that the ministry staff recognize that and do what they can do to ensure that sort of thing does not occur.
Essentially, there is one other thing, and perhaps the parliamentary assistant can address this in respect to any ability of private firms to charge a fee for information that was previously supplied by the ministry. I assume that the government charged some sort of a fee to cover its cost and I wonder if there was any kind of comparable provision in the legislation. I do not see it and I wonder if indeed it would not be appropriate to have that sort of thing incorporated in the act.
Mr Haggerty: The question raised by my colleague the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan) in the matter of subsection 2(3) of the bill, dealing with the revival period in the Corporations Act, corresponds to the same in the Business Corporations Act, 1982. This amendment makes the period five years in both cases, so we have some consistency in the five-year period.
This will also cut down on the number of private bills for revival. I am sure that the member has sat in the standing committee on regulations and private bills. We have seen a number of bills come forward for revival there and the period in question is within the law. This should clear that, I am sure.
The matter that the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) brought up was clause 14(2)(b), which deals with the matter of unpaid fees for penalties. I think it pretty well puts it out in detail there and defines it: ‘There is no evidence that the public has been deceived or misled.”
Mr Runciman: That is the wording we were concerned about.
Mr Haggerty: Is that what your problem is? Clause (c) says, “at the time of the application to the court, the corporation has filed all notices required by this act and has no unpaid fees or penalties.” Does that not make it understandable to the member?
Mr Runciman: It is not a question of understanding.
The Deputy Speaker: We are not exactly in committee of the whole here, gentlemen.
Mr Haggerty: I have some words of wisdom from legal counsel. “With respect to the ability to sue, the court must be satisfied as to a disruption.”
The Deputy Speaker: The Deputy Speaker has also got some words of wisdom for you, that you address your remarks through the Deputy Speaker.
Mr Haggerty: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is pretty hard to see you from my left here, you know.
The member raised the matter about the private fees, that a person would seek the information from the ministry. I understand there are a number of -- I guess you do not call them private persons in this area -- consultants, I guess it is, and they usually charge a fee. Apparently they have access to many government agencies and ministries in this particular area. There is a service fee or charge for that service, whether they get it from the ministry or not.
I do not have the answer clearly on that but it is there. The consultants are acting, and I understand, too, that normally the case is that the number of members may retire from politics -- and I may be one of them -- and may go into the field as consultants. I could give the member a definition of “consultant” but Eddie Sargent is not here. Without his approval, I cannot give it to members.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Wrye moved second reading of Bill 95, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr Wrye: I am pleased to bring forward this important piece of legislation. It is not an entirely happy piece of legislation, particularly for those who will be hit by its contents, which are fairly significant.
These amendments are fairly wide-ranging but really the most central part of the amendment bill will see increases in fines for speeding, increases which are in support of the primary objective of my ministry and that is making the streets, roads and highways safer for everyone.
The intent of these changes is to decrease the frequency of reckless driving by restoring the deterrent value of speeding fines and there is a reason for that.
The present speeding fines which are now in place and which those who are convicted now pay, date all the way back two decades, to 1969 specifically. The only updating that went on was about 12 years ago when it was really an updating which moved the fines from a miles-per-hour basis to kilometres per hour. So, today, we are faced with a situation where the fines really reflect a time some 20 years ago.
I believe, and I think all members in the House would agree with me, that every driver has the right to the safe use and enjoyment of our roads and highways and that the vast majority of motorists operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. The amendments before the House today are aimed at those who are the exception to that rule.
It is a fact that speeding is the most common factor in traffic fatalities. In spite of that, the incidence of driving beyond the posted limit continues to rise. Our latest statistics, going back just one year to 1988, indicate that there were more than 900,000 offences in our province and speeding was a factor in more than 27,000 accidents.
While we are also convincing people who disregard the law or who tend to disregard the law, while we try to use public education to increase their knowledge and their concern for fellow drivers and fellow users of the road so that they will obey the speed limit, there are some who will wilfully disregard the law and we on this side believe that it is important that we indicate to them that if they do wilfully disregard the law and endanger other lives, they will pay very, very handsomely for their irresponsibility behind the wheel.
Bearing in mind the human and economic costs of reckless driving, it is inappropriate that the penalties remain at the levels of 1969.
The fine structure contained in these amendments indicates that the province intends to take decisive action to keep the roads of this province safe. Those who exceed the posted limit by 50 kilometres per hour or more will face a fine three times as heavy as at present. It will cost them in the vicinity of $500 to behave recklessly. Fines at lower levels of excess will more than double.
To further protect the public, there are a number of other amendments to the act which I would term very clearly as housekeeping amendments. They deal with matters such as changes of lighting on emergency vehicles used by police, fire and ambulance services.
The consideration and passage of these amendments will contribute to a safer operating environment for all motorists in Ontario.
Le Vice-Président : Questions et commentaires au sujet de la présentation du Ministere ? Questions and comments?
Mr Kormos: I understood you, Mr Speaker.
Le Vice-Président: Bravo. I was just making sure. Le député de Welland-Thorold, dans ce cas-là.
M. Kormos: Merci. With interest, I read the bill and listened to the comments of the minister.
One cannot help but presume that this is all part and parcel because, after all, this minister was in that chorus line that put the floor show on up in North York in September of this year, along with four of his co-ministers, when the new Ontario motorist protection plan was announced.
One cannot help but presume, realizing that presumptions are never the safest route, that this is part and parcel of that Ontario motorist protection plan. Otherwise, there would not have been any good reason for this minister to have been in that chorus line except for maybe his sense of affinity and affection for his colleagues and his simply wanting to be there on such a historic occasion. One has to presume that this is part and parcel of that scheme.
It is some of the smoke and some of the mirrors behind which the government has been hiding when it talks about -- or rather, fails to talk about -- its new insurance system, the one the insurance companies wrote, the one that is going to generate a windfall for automobile insurers in Ontario of at least $630 million in the first year alone.
Let’s not mince words. Nobody in his right mind is going to suggest that it is not important to create deterrents for persons who break the law, including Highway Traffic Act offences, including speeding. Some comment is warranted and I would make this observation: One, there is not one of us who would not acknowledge that to speed by 20 kilometres over the posted limit when the posted limit is 100 kilometres an hour, as it is on the bulk of the major highways, is legitimately not as serious an offence and one which should not attract the same opprobrium as to exceed a municipal or urban --
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up. Do other members wish to participate?
Mr Revllle: In general terms, my party is in support of the initiatives undertaken by the Minister of Transportation.
Mr Revile: This is a comment. Is it all right to make a comment?
The Deputy Speaker: Of course, it is.
Mr Reville: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am getting confusing advice from my beloved colleagues whom I love dearly. I love them all. It is the season.
The bill is, however, a complex bill. It has 22 sections and it makes changes to a number of other pieces of legislation, some of which bear some scrutiny. I would like to indicate that my party will support this bill on second reading and we would like the matter to go to the committee of the whole House in case a technical amendment or two might be necessary.
Mr Wiseman: I would like to put some comments on the record. Our party, to start off with, will be supporting this bill, but we have some real concerns and I hope when we get a chance to get into the bill we will be able to discuss those fully.
In the bill, in the case of a person driving without a licence, it is mentioned, once, he loses his licence for a year, and twice, he loses it for two years, and this sort of thing. Because this is such a serious offence, why would the minister not have put in an automatic jail term, if not on the first offence, definitely on the second?
I wonder if the minister would have time now to ask his officials how much more money will be raised by the tripling of fines, based on last year’s experience. Perhaps he would answer those later or get some words of wisdom from his staff. But I wonder, too, when this deals with safety, why he did not take things like airbags into consideration, especially in the front seats of cars. We all know those would save a lot of lives. Why did he not improve the impact of the bumper up to about 10 miles an hour on impact from the anywhere from two to five that I understand it is now? Many of these things we will get into as the bill is discussed further, but perhaps if the minister knows some of the questions we are going to ask, he can have some answers for us.
Hon Mr Wrye: To speak on the matter generally, very briefly, a number of the issues that my friend from the third party has raised are really matters that are not contained in the bill. On the latter two, I made quick notes. I believe airbags and bumpers are federal matters; they are national standards.
In sortie cases the dollars raised, we estimate, as I indicated publicly last week, will be somewhere in the range of $25 million to $30 million. If the world were to continue exactly with the new fines as it was with the old ones, it will be substantially more than that. We believe, and clearly I said this in my opening remarks and I am sure my friend the member for Lanark-Renfrew (Mr Wiseman) would agree with me, it is desirable that it have a deterrent effect and thus that speeding be reduced, the incidence of speeding on our roads be actually reduced, and so the fines would go down.
Quite frankly, we would be absolutely delighted in the government, and I am sure all members of the House would be, if there were no increase at all and in fact if the amount of money accruing to the consolidated revenue fund came down, because that would mean the incidence of speeding on our roadways would go down. It is meant for a deterrent effect. It is certainly not an effort to raise money and, quite frankly, if we do not make any more money that will be just fine. We are attempting to get the deterrent effect.
In terms of the jail term, it is not in the bill. It sounds like a very heavy and onerous burden and in terms of our level of institutionalisation I am not sure we would want to add more to it.
Mr Kormos: Carrying on, members will recall that what I was talking about initially was the deterrent that is required for speeding. The obvious conclusion that speeding -- let’s say 20 kilometres over the limit on a highway where the speed limit is 100 kilometres an hour -- is a less opprobrious offence than speeding 20 kilometres over the limit in an urban area where the posted speed is perhaps 50 kilomctres an hour.
I have some great concerns about the fact that this distinction is not reflected in the guidelines for penalties provided in the statute. As often as not, police officers, and rightly so, except in those instances where the excess speed is extraordinary, provide for out-of-court payments or out-of-court settlements by way of fines which are contained on the provincial offences notice.
In the absence of guidelines in the statute, what that means is that the out-of-court settlement for 20 kilometres over on a highway such as the Queen Elizabeth Way is the very same as an out-of-court settlement for 20 kilometres on a city street.
That, in my view and in the view of a great number of people who live on those city streets and the people who send their kids to school across those city streets, is not an acceptable proposition. With respect, the statute and these amendments are deficient in that regard in that they do not recognize the increased severity and the need for increased penalty in the instance, as I say, of speeding in the lower speed limit ranges where its consequences in fact are far more perilous.
There is simply no way that anybody could suggest that city streets are designed for high-speed traffic in the same manner that Highway 401, the Queen Elizabeth Way or any of our other modern and quite frankly, in sad reality, some of our not-so-modern highways across the province are.
The statute does not address the very fundamental problem of who is permitted to drive, It is that regard, I submit, that there has to be a great deal of focus of attention on the part of the ministry, on the part of the government, on the part of this whole Legislative Assembly. I am not talking about systems of probation for young drivers and I am not talking about the proposal that we have heard already about the prospect of driving during daylight hours being restricted to certain types of highways for young drivers, for tiro drivers.
I am talking about the type of training and the level of training that is required before any person, be it he or she, young or old, whatever, is permitted to get into a vehicle and on to our highways. I contrast the excellent level of training that is required, for instance, of light aircraft pilots. We have a large number of them in the province and across the country. I appreciate that is not a provincial matter, but I contrast the type of training that is required of a person who is going to operate a light aircraft.
Quite frankly, in view of the technology of automobile production, many of those light aircraft -- little Cessnas, Pipers and so on -- do not travel at the speed that many motor vehicles one buys do and that are driven on the highway; aircraft that have, at the most, a capacity for one to maybe three passengers and where the most obvious danger is to the occupants of the aircraft, not to other persons using the skyways, if one will.
When one contrasts the high and, quite frankly, laudable level of training required of a person operating an aircraft with the complete absence of any requirements for professional training on the part of drivers -- usually young but, as I say, young or old -- then we can start to understand where some of our problems in terms of highways and motor vehicle accidents come from.
The minister knows full well that there is a lobby among hundreds, thousands of others, from professional driving school people in the province who have been pressuring not only the minister but every other member of this Legislature to support and endorse legislation that would require new drivers to have undergone driving training by a licensed or regulated driver-training industry.
Never mind the fact that, sure, no two ways about it, those professional driver trainers have an interest. They are trying to sustain and bolster their industry in looking for this legislation. The fact remains that their argument is sound; that they are seeking a uniform, standardized, regulated approach to driver training. That is an approach that is going to result in fewer accidents. That is an approach that is going to result in more competent drivers -- drivers who not only have the skills required of a person operating a vehicle but also drivers who are trained in the recognition of the standards and guidelines that are inherent in the Highway Traffic Act and those other provincial statutes that govern the operation of motor vehicles.
One other interesting omission from this particular set of amendments -- and I was sure when the chorus line appeared in North York on the occasion of the announcement of the Ontario motorist protection plan that this was going to be among them -- is enhanced powers of licence suspension by the province, particularly in response to things like convictions for Criminal Code driving offences: impaired driving, over 80, negligent driving, those other Criminal Code offences.
The province clearly has it within its power to control or regulate the right of individuals to drive. There is a demand out there in the community that persons who have demonstrated themselves to be inadequate drivers, not so much through lack of training but more so through lack of interest on their part in abiding by even the most basic and the most fundamental rules -- not just rules of the road, but social rules; I am talking about drunk drivers.
The community in Ontario is outraged that drunk drivers have not been convicted, indeed have not been convicted not just once, but twice, thrice and more, and are indeed returned to the highway. I am not speaking just of the notice given us by the Provincial Auditor when he indicated how simple, how easy it was for persons convicted of drunk driving to avoid the rules and get back on to the highway through a little bit of legal legerdemain; I am talking about the fact that the impression in the community is that for convicted drunk drivers the periods of suspension are grossly inadequate.
The absence of any amendments to those sections of the Highway Traffic Act, section 30 and so on, permitting and providing for suspension, are a great surprise to all of us. When we hear the foofaraw surrounding the introduction of the Ontario motorist protection plan, we find it remarkable that the government once again made commitments, made some promises and appears ill prepared, unprepared, reluctant, indeed has not even come close to meeting those commitments, meeting those obligations.
So those are three areas. When the minister presents this legislation -- and, as I say, undoubtedly a part of that Ontario motorist protection plan -- he tells us that it is all under the guise of making our roadways safer, making it safer for drivers and other persons using the highways. I say in response, “Close or sort of close, but no prize.”
We have all heard the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) talk about his promise of 100 new OPP officers. We have not seen the OPP officers yet. Those are the ones who are supposed to be stationed north of Toronto to patrol highways like 400, 401, 403 and so on. I fear that if there are 100 OPP officers positioned on those highways, it is going to be at the expense of the northern communities from which they are being taken and transferred down here.
It is not just OPP officers that patrol highways and enforce the Highway Traffic Act. We all know that it is municipal police officers as well. Unless and until this government makes a stronger commitment to aiding municipalities and regions, places like the regional municipality of Niagara, in what are incredibly rapidly increasing policing costs, until this government makes a serious commitment to aiding those municipalities and giving effect to meaningful policing, all the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act in the world are going to be for naught, because there simply are not going to be police officers available to effect meaningful enforcement of them.
Indeed, all of us know that all the laws in the world are of no effect if there is not some perception on the part of the community of at least a likelihood or a probability of detection, of apprehension. People are going to continue to speed, people are going to continue to drive illegally, people are going to continue to drive without licences as long as they can conduct themselves in the belief that they can get away with it and as long as communities like the regional municipality of Niagara are hamstrung when it comes to financing of police forces. People know that the law is there, but there simply are not police available to enforce it.
Mr Wiseman: I know the new minister was not in his present portfolio back in February when the then Minister of Transportation, the member for Scarborough East (Mr Fulton), brought forth a lot of safety measures in Bill 219 on 27 February. It would seem to me that a lot of these things should have been incorporated in that bill at that time and perhaps we would not be pushing it through just prior to Christmas like this.
I would like to touch on what the honourable member just previous to me had stated about the Provincial Auditor’s report when he said that hundreds of people were able to go and change and get another licence by just a name change. I am surprised that when the minister was bringing forward this legislation, bearing in mind this is twice in one session that we have had a safety bill before us, he did not take a little more time and incorporate how he was going to change that loophole and plug it so that people who have a bad driving record cannot simply change their name and get another licence and perhaps go out and commit all the infractions that they did with the first licence.
I cannot comprehend that in this day and age, in 1989. somebody could get away with a thing like that. With the computer network and the photographs and everything we have on our driver’s licence, I would never have thought it possible. Perhaps that should have been incorporated in this bill as well.
In regard to the air brakes that are mentioned in this bill, it has always been my understanding, and I only have a little bit of equipment at home, that in order to drive a vehicle with air brakes, even for farm purposes, you had to have a special licence. Now I understand that the only ones who really needed that were people with real heavy equipment such as tractor-trailers. When I went to purchase one, even the garage told me, “Doug, if you buy that one, you have to have a special licence because there are air brakes on the vehicle and your licence doesn’t cover you to drive that.” Perhaps he was wrong, but I took him at his word.
I wondered where the minister said that he may enter into a reciprocal agreement with some of the states in the United States. I believe for certain fines in the past -- we have certain states, and I believe New York state was one of them -- but perhaps for the benefit of all of us, the minister could indicate when he answers which states we presently have that agreement with, so that any of us on the way to Florida will know that the fines will register back in Ontario and if we will have to pay the Ontario rate or the rate in New York or whatever it might be.
The other part that I just could not understand, in 1989 again, is that persons must report serious damage or bullet-marked cars. Gosh, I thought that it was always over a certain damage done to your car, percentage or cost damage, you had to bring in the police and it had to be registered, the whole thing. Then I thought if you missed out there, if someone rear-ended you and went to the auto body shop, I always was under the impression, and I could not believe in 1989 that it was not the case, that the auto body shop was expected to report that to the local police if it looked the least bit suspicious of a hit-and-run or whatever it might be. I understand from talking to some of my police friends that some of the first places they go to look are auto body shops to see if a car has been repaired and it looks a bit suspicious and what colour of paint it has on it and the whole bit. I just thought that that would have been a must long before now.
I wonder when the minister said that the money that will be raised from tripling the fines will be in the neighbourhood of $25 million to $30 million, if that was a conservative figure based on a deterrent level, because some of the people who did a workup for me said that based on last year’s fines, with no deterrent built in, it would be somewhere just under $100 million of additional revenue.
I also wonder when we hear from day to day here about the backlog in the courts, if a person is going to be fined triple the rate and gets into our court system that we know now is backed up for two or three years -- and that is only because we have so many lawyers in here and not out in the field practising, or they have not made the member for Brampton South a judge yet and I hope they do -- how they are going to administer these.
They need to put in a few more judges, and perhaps some of our legal friends who are in the Legislature might consider a judgeship if the Premier (Mr Peterson) were to offer it to them. I know one or two of my colleagues on the other side who would jump at it. Perhaps the minister could mention something about that as well.
When the minister said, “We would be happy if we did not collect a bit or if the Treasurer never received any money through the tripling of the fines, if it became such a deterrent that there were not any,” I would like to believe him, but when you look at the track record of the government, this same government, this same ministry that raised the licences on cars this year, raised the licences for drivers themselves, and it seems that in every nook and cranny or at every turn they are finding another loophole to raise tax. That is not to say that the minister does not believe what he says, but if he just examines what their track record is, I think he will retract that statement and say it is a bit of a money grab again, as well as hopefully a deterrent.
Before the minister answers and says that it is a federal responsibility, the former minister, I believe it was in the estimates, mentioned that the ministry had highlighted about 50 railroad crossings in this province that are dangerous. We all know that railroad crossings are jointly federal and provincial, and the railroads. I do not know why we have not tried to correct some of those situations, as I understand that just in the summer alone of this year, there were 14 deaths because the railroad crossings did not have the arm that comes down on the approach to them.
There are many areas in which I hope, if the minister receives this added revenue, he can put it to better use than maybe going into the Treasurer’s fund, to improve safety on the highways. There are many places that are highlighted. I had an Indian reserve get in touch with me the other day that has had many accidents at a particular intersection in northern Ontario off Highway 17. They would be pleased with that. We have them in all of our ridings. Whether there is $100 million collected in these additional fines or whether it is the conservative amount of $25 million or $35 million, I would like to see that turned into safety on the roads.
The minister mentioned that improving the impact of bumpers was a federal responsibility. Ralph Nader, whom we all know, and others have mentioned that it should be up to an impact of 10 miles an hour, and I am sure that the member sitting to the minister’s front, the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston), would be happy at any reduction in the amount of money going out for serious accidents or any accidents.
The air bags in the front seats have saved a lot of lives. Most of the more expensive cars have them, but I think all manufacturers should be encouraged and by a certain date be made to put them in. They are also talking about the side impact and rollover protection for cars. That is another must from Ralph Nader’s safety advocacy group, and an improved steering assembly. I do not know whether any of the members have had cars that -- I have had quite a few new ones in the last while and even the new ones have some steering problems in them, and they are not cheap cars either.
Then there is improved highway design. They tell me that an awful lot of accidents are because of the way the highway is designed, that it is not curved on the turn to allow motorists to get around at the speed limit, and many of them slide off and are seriously hurt.
These are some of the problems I see with the bill. I would like to hear what the minister has to say and perhaps to have some comments after his remarks.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there any comments or questions? There being none, any further debate? Would the minister care to wind up?
Hon Mr Wrye: I understand that this legislation will go to committee of the whole House tomorrow or Monday, and if my friends have any comments on any of the very technical details, they may want to offer them at that time. I appreciate their help and support and that of the third party for getting this bill through second reading today.
I just have a couple of things. I note with some interest the remarks of my friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) on the issue of 20 kilometres an hour over the limit in the city being different from 20 kilometres an hour over the limit on Highway 401. I have some sensitivity to what he is saying.
We establish maximum speeding fines only and the courts impose actual penalties. One of the things I can say to my friend is that because it is fairly complex, it would add almost impossible complexities to our establishment of fines, because one does not go from city streets to superhighways. One has secondary highways, two-lane highways, three-lane highways; one has even within a community major arterial roads and so on.
But my friend has interested me in the matter enough that I would tell him in the House that I think the suggestion is worth while enough that we might pass it on Chief Judge Hayes, and that within that system the judiciary who set these fines in many cases might consider varying out-of-court settlements with speed limits on a given highway.
I also note my friend’s views on training. It is an issue which we are very concerned with. I am not sure that the views expressed by those who are lobbying for a set group of learning practices leading to a driver’s licence are necessarily appropriate. I think much more appropriate, and my friend alluded to it but passed on beyond fairly quickly, is the issue of the graduated driver’s licence. It has been tried in a couple of states, and in Maryland and California it is having a very positive effect.
The suggestion that first began when we were discussing the issues of auto insurance and auto safety reform in September of this year has been very very well received by the public in Ontario.
I sometimes think, to the extent one can do it, as a government, as a Legislature, that is very encouraging in that the public seems ready to accept the concept of the graduated driver’s licence.
I have asked my officials to work very quickly, as quickly as possible, in bringing forward to me firm proposals and options to take to cabinet and then on here to the Legislature, because I really believe that with the general public acceptance we have received, it is something we can move on with fairly quickly.
The issue of licence suspensions, which I believe my friend the member for Welland-Thorold raised, or perhaps it was the member for Lanark-Renfrew, along with a number of other issues which are not contained in the bill, is an issue that we will take a look at. Legislation, amendments to the Highway Traffic Act come forward to this House from time to time, and certainly the thoughts and comments of my colleagues in both of the opposition parties are very worth while and will be carefully considered.
Turning to the comments of my friend the member for Lanark-Renfrew, I would note his comments in terms of the Provincial Auditor’s report. We are currently looking at some of the issues that the auditor has raised and we have been looking at them for some time.
It seems that in our modern society some people will go to any limits to try to beat a law that is in place, and it probably would do us well to just reflect on that and consider that; that is, that people are going to extraordinary lengths to try to defeat the legislation which this Legislature has put in place. We are moving as quickly as we can, as resolutely as we can to make sure that our legislation and our legislative intent, which is to protect the drivers of the province, is protected.
In the specific instance raised by the member for Lanark-Renfrew, we are working with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, with the registration division, to see what opportunities there are for exchanges of appropriate information which will protect the public from those who will attempt to go to the radical extreme of changing their name in an effort to get a new driver’s licence while suspended. I think all members of the House would agree that is an extreme length, but it appears some people will go to those lengths, and we are trying to respond to that.
My friend also talked about the United States reciprocal agreements, and I should advise him there are no existing agreements with US states for enforcement of their laws. Under the proposed agreements, we are going to sanction our drivers with demerit points or suspensions in accordance with Ontario’s laws. We will not be collecting fines with US states, but certainly the general enabling powers in here will allow us, as we go forward, to work more co-operatively with sister provinces and sister states, as we are in a number of areas in the future. But I can tell the member that if he is headed for Florida this Christmas, he is safe.
The member again raised the issue of the amount of money to be raised, and I agree. I indicated in my earlier comments that the maximum, without these matters having any deterrent effect, could be somewhere in the range of $80 million, $90 million, $95 million. We expect it will have a deterrent effect; one does not know how much.
Certainly. I want to disabuse my friends of any thought that the issue is one in an effort to get a tax grab. We are looking for a deterrent effect. It is very different from the licensing changes which were brought in in the budget of this year by my good friend the Treasurer. We made it very clear at that time that money would be used, as some other tax changes are being used, to do an unprecedented amount of roadbuilding, for the purchase of new capital equipment for our public transportation system, to make this province the finest province in all of North America in terms of the ability of its people to move safely and in a degree of comfort from one place to another, and the ability not only of people but goods and services to do so.
Finally, my friend raised the issue of grade separations. I will not go into a lot of detail. I may want to talk to him about this. I have raised the matter with the federal Minister of Transport. I believe that the initiative taken by my predecessor, the member for Scarborough East, was an excellent one, really quite an outstanding one.
He showed great leadership on a national basis in terms of trying to address this issue and it is one that I am trying to carry on quietly and to convince my colleague the Minister of Transport at the federal level that there is good safety merit in moving forward on these issues.
With that, Mr Speaker, I will move second reading.
Motion agreed to,
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
ONTARIO LOTTERY CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
The Second Deputy Chair: We are dealing with Bill 119, the Ontario Lottery Corporation Amendment Act. My understanding is, in continuation of the bill, the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) had not had the opportunity of placing --
Mr Kerrio: She is not here.
The Second Deputy Chair: Wait a minute.
The member for Mississauga South had not had the opportunity of placing any amendments, but now that we are back in the committee of the whole House, we are looking forward to a discussion of section 1.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is there any discussion or any amendments pertaining to this section?
Ms Bryan: I think the member for Mississauga South -- she is now here anyway -- was speaking on the opportunity which the previous chairman had given the members to make general remarks under section 1 on the bill as a whole and possibly to discuss any amendments to sort of forecast what they were considering in amendments before we get into the actual debate on section 1. I do not think she had as much time as I had to make opening comments under section 1, and she did adjourn the debate. I think we should continue with that. Then I understand the amendments have all been tabled with the chair. We can then get into each section and look at the amendments for that section.
The Second Deputy Chair: I thank the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine for her up-to-date comments. It is my understanding that in committee of the whole House, of course, we do not adjourn the debate. We just continue on with the debate in committee. I would like to also point out that we have traditionally in the House not spoken generally to a bill in committee of the whole House. That is done during second reading, but of course, if a member wants to speak in general terms to section 1 of the bill, that is proper procedure. With the help of the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine, I will then turn to the honourable member for Mississauga South. Would she like to continue on with general comments to section 1 before the placing of any amendments?
Mrs Marland: I do appreciate the opposition’s courtesy and also of the chair to --
Hon Mr Elston: You are the opposition. Mrs Marland: No, I am the third party, I say to the member for Bruce. We will become the government, however.
Mr Campbell: Yes, the next ice age.
Mrs Marland: In speaking to section 1, I say to the member for Sudbury that this is the season of goodwill, and before I make any comments at all I thought it would be nice for the member to make something positive in his comments with respect to both parties on this side of the House.
What I had started to say originally in addressing Bill 119, An Act to amend the Lottery Corporation Act, was the fact that the former government -- and I say “former government,” being the government prior to September 1987, which was a Liberal government put in office by the accord with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party -- had a Treasurer by the name of Robert Nixon who introduced into this Legislature Bill 38, which was also a bill to amend the Lottery Corporation Act.
Bill 38 met with the greatest opposition that had ever been mounted in the history of this province between two allied groups. The two allied groups were, for the first time, the alliance between culture and sport, or another way of describing it would have been the arts and recreation, since recreation encompasses sport also.
How unique that the culture and arts groups, which were very concerned about the risk of the loss of lottery funds through Wintario grants and others to their programs, would recognize that they had to get together with the recreation and sports groups around this province in order to demonstrate in a very real way to the government of the day that Bill 38 simply was not acceptable to the people of this province.
Bill 38, for the sake of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr Faubert), who is chatting away in the back, is not exactly the same as this Bill 119, but it has the same intent. When I say it is not the same, Bill 38 took away the designation for lottery profits to be spent on recreation, physical fitness, culture and sport. It took away the designation altogether. It gave the government the power to have all the lottery profits go into the consolidated revenue fund and from there, goodness knows where.
This bill actually says that the money will go again into the general revenue fund and this time it will be spent for the operation of hospitals plus recreational and cultural activities, physical fitness and sports. I am not actually wording them in quite the same order. But the fact of the matter is that if we go back to Bill 38, which the Treasurer of the day, the same Treasurer that we have today, by the way, in his wisdom did not call -- the Treasurer of the day --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I am just going to intervene for a moment here to remind members that we are in committee, and traditionally opposition critics and the minister have been afforded an opportunity to make some brief remarks about the bill that is before us. I am quite happy to hear that, so that all that is left for me to decide is what do we mean by “brief.” I think I can do that.
I am not prepared to entertain a broad discussion of government policy under committee of the whole House, where we are dealing supposedly with the bill clause by clause. I do not think we want to establish a lot of rules on how we proceed from here. This House has traditionally afforded an occasion when members could make some introductory remarks. I think we would very much like to be able to do that with as much latitude as possible, but I do not intend to sit through a long policy debate on something that is not before us at the moment.
So I would ask members, when you make your brief introductory remarks, that they be just that, brief introductory remarks about the bill that is currently before us. If you think this person is going to sit and listen to your throne speech again, you are wrong. So would the member for Mississauga South please continue briefly.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I would pray that you would be as courteous as your caucus colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden), who in fact recognized that we in this party should at least have the same time as the official opposition party had in the committee of the whole.
The First Deputy Chair: Prayer works wonders. Try it.
Mrs Marland: I would certainly hope that you would extend that courtesy to me. The fact that the government members applauded your ruling makes me a little bit concerned about whether you are sitting in the middle of the floor on your way to walk over to the other side, but I certainly have more respect for your judgement and I know that is not the case, however.
I will use my time. I am making note of the time I started and asking for equal time as with the official opposition. What I use it for will be directly pertaining to Bill 119. I want to explain why Bill 119 is before the House.
Mr Faubert: We know why.
Mrs Marland: I will tell the member why. It is because this government won a 94-seat majority in September 1987. Prior to that, this government, under the Treasurer, had the wisdom not to call Bill 38 because he, at that point. listened to the alliance of the recreation and arts groups around this province.
When he listened to them, it was when there was a minority government. The sad thing, and the real commentary about what has taken place, is that now we have this huge, arrogant, 94-seat Liberal government and in its arrogance, it does not now have to listen to anybody, and it does not listen to anybody. I can tell the members that it held public hearings, as the members well know, on Bill 119 and it had representations from many, many groups.
I think the number, as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine said, was something in excess of 125 groups. Among those groups were the real heavyweights who have to deal with the lack of funding that they do not receive from this Liberal government, namely, the municipalities. The municipalities, through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, made a very heavy, sincere presentation to the committee that heard the deputations on Bill 119 and said, “We cannot afford to be in the business of recreation on behalf of our taxpayers and our residents in our municipalities around this province without the guaranteed availability of money from lottery profits.”
Not only did those municipalities come before the committee, but many, many other groups, on behalf of the citizens of this province -- many, many other groups representing physical fitness, recreation, culture and sports, the performing arts, the visual arts. We are talking about public sector services here.
I think the one main thing that the government has missed with Bill 119 is the fact that there is no wording in this bill whatsoever -- I can show the House that Bill 119, in fact, is one and one eighth of a page and there is no wording in this bill that guarantees any money anywhere, except one place. It guarantees that all the lottery profit money goes into the consolidated revenue fund. But from there, where it goes is within the purview only of the Liberal government.
What those municipalities that came before this government and the all-party legislative committee have been trying to say, including my own municipality of Mississauga under the presentation of Mayor Hazel McCallion and the commissioner of recreation for the city of Mississauga, Ian Scott. What they said, along with all the other municipalities, was, “We don’t have the ability to fund these facilities without grants through Wintario and other similar programs from the province.”
When the Progressive Conservatives were the government they did have a grant program that helped to build recreation and community centres. That fund is nonexistent under this Liberal government. The transfer payments to municipalities have been reduced every single year of four years under this Liberal government. So those municipalities have no choice but to put the burden of financing these programs on to the backs of the property taxpayers.
What is really significant is the fact that the Ontario Liberals are selling Bill 119 under the guise that they are going to put lottery money into hospitals. There is nowhere in this bill that it makes a sincere commitment to the capital cost of hospitals. There is nowhere in this bill that as little as $1 is allocated. There is nowhere in this bill that we can be assured that lottery profits, if taken away from these other uses, will provide more training for our hospital staff, more medical staff, more health care providers or a single hospital bed more.
That is why we are opposed to this bill, and that is why we are going to move the amendments that we are going to move. Even though the Liberal government fails to recognize this, we recognize very clearly that physical fitness, recreation and culture, whether through the performing or visual arts, are preventive medicine. We listen to the professionals who are involved with those programs around this province; they tell us that if people are physically fit and psychologically healthy because they have the opportunities for recreation through facilities in their municipalities or they have the opportunities to escape into an art class, a pottery class or a weaving class, to attend an art gallery, whatever the area is that is funded under culture, those people keep healthy because in this stressful world today physical fitness is of primary importance and so is our psychological or mental health.
Our mental health very often is what keeps us out of hospitals. If we can be healthy mentally because we have recreational and cultural programs accessible to us, then why would the government not want to guarantee a certain amount of the lottery profits to those programs and keep people out of hospitals, the very hospitals they now say -- although there is no guarantee -- they will use lottery profits to fund.
Frankly, we think hospitals’ operations, which this bill addresses, should not be funded at the whim of a lottery. We think hospital operations are so critical on a day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year budget basis that those hospital boards have to know the money is coming. They cannot wait to find out that they are going to get X amount of money from a lottery. The lottery profits fluctuate. Fortunately, the lottery profits usually have been building in terms of volume of profit every year, but to fund hospital operations with lottery funds just does not make any sense.
This Liberal government chooses not to guarantee any dollar amounts or even any percentage. We have asked for a percentage of the lottery funds to be assigned to hospitals, including capital costs -- not just operations, but primarily capital costs -- and to take the capital costs of hospitals away from the property taxes, which is now what is happening around this province. We are simply saying that if the government is really sincere about Bill 119, then it should guarantee a percentage to recreation and cultural programs, to keep people healthy mentally and physically and keep them out of the hospitals, and it should guarantee a percentage to hospitals.
But this bill guarantees one thing, and that is that the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund.
One final thing I want to say is that the greatest value of the lottery programs that have funded projects around this province for 14 years now is the fact that it brings communities together. I am sure all members of this Legislature have experienced that in their own riding. If they are former municipal politicians, as are some of them who I see here today, they know the local ball team, the local pottery club, the local hockey team -- if we are talking about sports -- any of the sports groups or any of the arts groups that band together to raise funds for matching money to matching government grants, they know the tremendous advantage of that. There is an advantage because they come together as a community and they are goal-oriented to raising money for the benefit of the community as a whole, whether it is to build a facility, enlarge a facility, or repair or renovate a facility.
Whatever the program is that makes them eligible for a provincial grant from the lottery profits, it has a double-barrelled benefit; first of all, the facility or the addition or the renovation gets done, and secondly, these groups come together as a scam in the fund-raising process. There is no price that can be put on that. It is an invaluable experience within a community, and we as the Progressive Conservative Party support that direction for people in this province.
When we move the amendments this afternoon, it is because we are very concerned about the fact that the government has chosen to ignore those groups who have come before them and said, “Please guarantee us at least a percentage of the lottery profits.”
The First Deputy Chair: Just for future reference, the member for Mississauga South was quite correct, that it certainly would be unfair to offer to one party an unlimited amount of debate in opening remarks and then attempt to restrict someone else who just happened to speak after them to a much shorter time. That would have been unfair. But I want to point out that if you see me sitting in this chair, my definition of brief is not 30 minutes. In future, you might keep that in mind.
We have been given notice of amendments to section 1. I believe we have dealt with one of them. The next one that would come up to section 1 would be from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Mr Reycraft: Mr Chairman, was it your intention to allow the government party to make a few introductory remarks as well?
The First Deputy Chair: The government party always has the opportunity at the beginning of the process to make whatever introductory remarks it sees fit. If no one chooses to stand up, I cannot do much about that, and then we will go on rotation. Perhaps the member might do that. Since we have heard from the two opposition parties at some length, I am sure they would concur that we would allow the parliamentary assistant to make some introductory remarks if he cares to delay the process further.
Mr Reycraft: Having heard the definition of “brief,” and with that kind of encouragement, I would like to make just a few comments in response to the comments of the member for Beaches-Woodbine yesterday and the member for Mississauga South yesterday and today -- of course, 30 minutes total; not to suggest she talked for two full days.
I want to go back to Bill 119 because I think we got quite a distance away from that a little while ago this afternoon. Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, requires the Ontario Lottery Corp to deposit all of the profits each year into the consolidated revenue fund. It requires the government to make those funds available for culture and recreation and for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and if there are residual funds that have not been allocated for those two purposes. then they are to be allocated and used for the operation of hospitals. What Bill 119 does is restrict the allocation of lottery profits to any other purposes, and that has not been done up to this time.
The standing committee on general government, I believe, had three full weeks of hearings on this bill. The committee heard from a large number of groups. It was a valuable experience. It provided an opportunity for all members on the committee to be reminded of the very valuable contribution that many cultural and recreational organizations across this province make to the quality of life of the people of Ontario.
It gave us an opportunity to hear their concerns and to attempt to understand them. The main concern that came through as we listened to the many groups was related to the future level of funding that was going to be available for culture and recreation in this province. Many of those groups were concerned that somehow Bill 119 might result in an erosion of financial support for their organizations by the Ministry of Culture and Communications, the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation or the Ministry of Citizenship.
The hearings gave us an opportunity to talk about the government’s record on funding culture and recreation in this province. It gave us a chance to talk about how that funding has increased from $282 million in 1984 to $418 million in 1989, from $282 million to $418 million in five years. That is an increase of some $136 million, an average increase of $27 million per year, an average increase of 9.6 per cent. I think those increases are clear and ample evidence of the commitment that this government has made to culture and recreation in the province.
I am not surprised that groups and others in the province are concerned about reduction in funding for culture and recreation, because members of the opposition parties have done everything they possibly can to encourage that kind of concern. I received just yesterday a copy of a letter that was sent on 18 October by the member for Sarnia (Mr Brandt) to, as I understand it, all municipalities in this province talking about Bill 119. In his letter, the member described the bill as “legislative carte blanche to alter the flow of provincial lottery revenues from recreational and cultural activities to Ontario’s hospitals.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing in Bill 119 that suggests there should be any shift in funding away from cultural and recreational activities in this province. Nothing has been said by any member of the government or any member of the committee, save and except perhaps the opposition members, that would indicate there would be any reduction in funding for culture and recreational activities in the province. Indeed, the increase in funding for those activities that I have outlined clearly indicates that the opposite is true.
The groups that appeared before the committee indicated they wanted to get from the government some kind of guarantee that funding for culture and recreation would not be reduced. They wanted a guarantee that the use of lottery funds for culture and recreation would not be reduced. So at the end of the hearings process I was pleased to hear the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), when he appeared before the committee, give those groups the kind of guarantee they were looking for.
The Treasurer when he appeared before the committee indicated to the groups that he would commit no less than $120 million in lottery funds for each of the next three years to culture and recreation, a total commitment of $360 million over the next three years for cultural and recreational activities. That $360 million represents a very significant increase over this year and the previous two. If we look at the previous three years, the total commitment in those three years for culture and recreation from lottery funds is some $310 million. The increase over the next three years, then, is $50 million more than what was used from lottery funding for culture and recreation over the past three years. So the groups that appeared before the committee got the guarantee they were looking for.
The member’s letter, which I referred to a minute or two ago, also said that of the 190 groups that appeared before the legislative committee, not one supported the government’s proposal. Well, there are a number of groups that appeared before the committee who indicated that they had no objection in principle to what Bill 119 provided.
I would like to refer to a very few of those, although I know the chair would like to proceed with clause-by-clause discussion of the bill.
On 21 September the Ontario Council of YMCAs appeared before the committee and indicated this to the committee: “This bill allows the government of Ontario to correct its past use of designated funds and to broaden its future use. We have no objection to that.” That indicates they did not object in principle to Bill 119.
On 2 October a representative from the municipality of Nepean appeared before the committee. I asked, “If you could be assured that this kind of support through lottery programs would continue to be available and that the province’s overall commitment to culture and recreation would be maintained at a minimum, but even more hopefully that it would be enhanced, would there be concern about Bill 119?” The answer from Nepean’s representative was a very clear no, they would not be concerned about it.
The city of Ottawa made representation to the committee. The alderman who represented the city indicated: “We do not, as a council, object to involving the health field and hospitals in sharing the future funds from these lotteries.”
We also heard on 13 September from the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association, to whom I had put this question: “I want to ask if your concern about Bill 119 would be the same if you could be guaranteed that the level of provincial support in real dollars would be continued.” Its representative’s response was, “It would be my belief that our association would probably be very satisfied if we knew that there would be a guaranteed commitment somehow, some way.” I am sure that person is pleased with the response that the Treasurer gave to the committee when he appeared before it.
One other quote I want to make from Hansard is from Monday 18 September. This is a quote by the member for Mississauga South, who said in speaking about Bill 119, “We agree with using lottery funds to fund hospitals.” What Bill 119 does is restrict the use of lottery funds to culture and recreation, to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and to the operation of hospitals. I would think that the member for Mississauga South would be pleased with what the bill provides, combined with the guarantee that the Treasurer has made for culture and recreation in this province.
The First Deputy Chair: We are getting closer to brief introductory remarks, but not by much.
On section 1, I believe we have an amendment from the Progressive Conservatives, and taking a wild guess, I would think the member for Mississauga South would be moving this.
Mrs Marland: I think when the member for Middlesex says that the opposition parties have been doing one fantastic job -- he did not use the word “brainwashing,” but the suggestion is that the opposition parties have done a fantastic job in informing the groups incorrectly about what Bill 119 is about.
I think the member gives all of us far too much credit. He gives us credit for having time to spend on an issue that we would not choose to spend it on, except that this government has this initiative. I think, in fairness, because the member has referred to a letter from John Gates, I want to tell him that I have a copy of the magazine Municipal Recreation News.
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I am very interested in everybody’s correspondence, but today we are supposedly dealing with an amendment to a bill. Could we have the amendment or do you not want to put that amendment?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I have the amendment. I just felt that it was important to say that it is rather insulting to the groups that came before the committee to suggest that we brainwashed them or that they do not understand Bill 119. Every single group that came before the committee understood Bill 119 on its own.
I understand the first PC amendment motion was placed two or three days ago. Is that correct?
The First Deputy Chair: It was not.
Mrs Marland: I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by deleting everything after “therefor” in line 3 and substituting the following:
“9(1) The net profits of the corporation after provision for prizes and the payment of expenses of operation shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct.
“(2) A minimum of 35 per cent of the net profits of the corporation paid into the consolidated revenue fund in a fiscal year of Ontario shall be available for appropriation by the Legislature for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor.
“(3) Net profits not so appropriated in a fiscal year shall be available for the appropriation by the Legislature for the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and for the financing of a health care manpower and capital development fund to be administered by the Ministry of Health with the advice and direction of the Premier’s health council and will be so accounted for in the public accounts of Ontario.”
The First Deputy Chair: The chair will rule, under standing order 54, that this motion is out of order.
Mrs Marland: I have another amendment to section 1.
I move that section 1 of the bill be amended by deleting everything after “therefor” in line 3 and substituting the following:
“9(1) A minimum of 35 per cent of the net profits of the corporation after provision for prizes and the payment of expenses of operation shall be paid at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct to an independent nonprofit foundation to be established with the object of promoting and developing physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor.
“(2) In any fiscal year. after provision is made for the payment of profits pursuant to section 9(1), net profits not so expended shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct and shall be available for appropriation by the Legislature for the financing of a health care manpower and capital development fund to be administered by the Ministry of Health with the advice and direction of the Premier’s health council and will be so accounted for in the Public Accounts of Ontario.”
The First Deputy Chair: The chair will rule that this amendment is also out of order under standing order 54.
Section 1 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: On section 2 of the bill, I have an indication of an amendment from the New Democrats and one from the Progressive Conservatives. I take it that it will be the member for Beaches-Woodbine who will move that.
Ms Bryden: Mr Chairman, as you know, my amendment to section 1 was ruled out of order last week, under standing order 54, although it dealt not with the spending of public money but with the allocation of public funds. But that appears to be covered by section 54 as well. I would just like to say before I move my amendment that there is absolutely nothing to prevent the members opposite deciding that they would like to introduce an amendment along the lines of my amendment, which was to send at least one third of the proceeds into the consolidated revenue fund with specific allocation instructions. Since we have heard so many recommendations of how the fund should be established, by all these 190 groups, it seems to me that I should be allowed to make a plea to the members opposite to adopt or to introduce their own amendment to section 2 and their own amendment to section 1.
Mr Elliot: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I believe that the member from the official opposition is speaking to a motion which is not on the floor as yet. I would appreciate knowing what she is talking about before she speaks to the motion.
The First Deputy Chair: I believe there is some validity in what you have said, but the chair is mindful that we are in committee and members should have a right to make some remarks before they place an amendment. If members were to carry on for an undue length of time without putting the amendment in front of the House, I would be just as mindful of that and would caution members not to give us a long speech, but I certainly believe that it is appropriate in committee for members to make some remarks to explain their amendment prior to putting it. Please proceed.
Ms Bryden: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I appreciate your ruling. I think it is fair that I should be allowed to state my amendment. As I was saying, there is nothing to prevent the members opposite from adopting both my amendment to section 1 and my proposed amendment to section 2. If they did so, they would be recognizing the tremendous number of requests from the various fitness, cultural, recreation and arts groups that were made in the 10 days of public hearings that were held. The member who spoke for the government admitted in his opening remarks that the vast majority did want some change in the allocation. We hoped that some of the points that this vast majority made would have been listened to.
If they are not listened to, there will be great fear that there is absolutely no guarantee in this act that any of the funds will go to the designated purposes in the original act. That is really what this whole bill and the public hearings were about: to see that we maintain the designated purposes in the act of fitness, sport, recreation and culture, that we give guidelines for the allocation of whatever money does come in and particularly that we give guidelines which deal with any funds that come in in a year and are not spent in that year. This is what the section 2 amendment dealt with.
I think members should be aware, and I think it was admitted in the committee hearings, that section 2 is in there to legitimize the allocation of lottery funds which had not been debated in the Legislature, allocation of the new interprovincial lotteries that came into effect. If we are going to legitimize in order that the government may then continue to get that money out of the consolidated revenue fund, we should be looking at guidelines on disposing of that unallocated money in the revenue fund.
This is the main complaint about this bill. It is giving the Treasurer an absolutely blank cheque, in effect, when voted by the Legislature, to spend the entire lottery funds as he sees fit, to spend the unallocated lottery funds as he sees fit and to spend the accumulated unallocated lottery funds, which could amount to as much as $500,000, as he sees fit.
There is no guarantee and there is no recognition that those funds really belong to the people who did not get their share of the funds in the years when they were unallocated. They were, in effect, misappropriated. There was no legislation governing their guidelines that said they could be spent on anything but the designated items in the original bill.
The government should recognize that it made a mistake by not legitimizing the allocation of the new lotteries and that it should correct that mistake by giving the money back to the groups that were in operation and were entitled to it and then bringing in guidelines that would allow for them to go along further.
Mrs Sullivan: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I have been following the arguments of the member carefully and I understood that her amendment was to be put to section 2. It seems to me that she is speaking a lot about section 1. I wonder if we could hear the amendment so that we could understand the drift of her argument.
The First Deputy Chair: As a matter of fact, I think one of the indications that I get as a chairman is that when the House begins to get antsy, to use the parliamentary term, it is probably time to put your amendment. I think we are all quite happy to provide members with an opportunity to make some introductory remarks, but I think it is time that you put your amendment.
Ms Bryden: My amendment is, in my opinion, in order because it does not affect the allocation of public moneys except by setting up a new fund within the consolidated revenue fund and setting guidelines for the dispensation of that money. It is not really disposing of or allocating lottery profits; it is setting up a new organization to allocate them, which could have been a separate bill.
That is the reason why I think it is in order and that it should be considered, because it is an alternative route in order for the government to make good on what it should have been doing in the allocation of unexpended funds in the past. It should not have been refusing to use the full funds that were coming in for the people for whom they were intended.
I move that section 2 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“Section 9 of the said Act, as set out in section 1, is amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(2) The net profits of the corporation that were paid into the consolidated revenue fund before 1 April 1988 pursuant to section 9, as it was before the coming into force of this subsection, and that were not expended before 1 April 1988 shall be accounted for in the public accounts of Ontario as the Ontario lottery trust fund and the annual interest credited to the Fund shall be applied.
“(a) for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor; and
“(b) for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.”
The First Deputy Chair: That too, under standing order 54. is out of order.
I have one more amendment. I believe the member for Mississauga South wants to put an amendment as well to section 2.
Mrs Marland: Since my two previous amendments and the last amendment placed by the member for the New Democratic caucus were not allowable under standing order 54 and I do not have the standing orders in front of me, could you tell me what standing order 54 is?
The First Deputy Chair: To assist you somewhat, you will find in your desk a grey book. The grey book is what is called the standing orders. Standing order 54 indicates clearly who can move an amendment of a financial nature. In general terms, any amendment that is proposed which has financial ramifications -- that is, the spending of money in any way -- is in order if it is proposed by a member of the government and out of order if it is proposed by a member from the opposition side.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I thank you for the explanation. I wanted the explanation on the record. I was familiar with the intent of standing order 54, but not the exact wording. I think the exact wording is very significant because, as you have just said in the precise wording, the government members in this House today, since we are in committee of the whole, do have a very real opportunity to move amendments to this bill if they are of a financial impact. Therefore, I feel it is very important that the government members are given that opportunity to make Bill 119 realistic and make it representative of the wishes of the people of this province through their elected officials in municipalities who have already made representations to this government about how they feel about Bill 119.
I think it is important that Bill 119 be amended in section 2 to address the concerns of the recreation and cultural groups around this province, and also the municipalities and the hospital boards around this province which do have a tremendous need for additional funding, not only in the operation of hospitals, which is what this bill addresses, but in the capital cost of new beds, new equipment and indeed new buildings.
When the member for Middlesex said that I was in favour of lottery funds for hospitals, he was absolutely right, but I do not want funding for hospitals to be only at the whim of lotteries. I want hospital funding to be honourably granted by this Liberal government where the need is identified.
Therefore, in moving these amendments this afternoon, I have tried to have the government, if those two previous amendments were not acceptable because I am an opposition member, move on behalf of the people of this province the amendments that are needed to make this bill do what it is they are trying to say it will.
The member for Middlesex said there is a guarantee of $316 million for three years for recreation and cultural groups, a guarantee made by the Treasurer. I would point out that a letter from the Premier indicated that the revenue of undedicated provincial lotteries was expected in 1988-89 to reach $445 million. If it is going to be $500 million in 1989-90, as the member for Middlesex has just told me, then I would say that $316 million over three years, which is $105 million a year, is a paltry amount for recreation and cultural interests. If the profit is $500 million and the recreation and cultural groups are going to get $100 million a year, it is a paltry one fifth of the lottery profits.
In fairness, I would hope that at some point there will be an amendment by the government to identify the fact that preventive medicine is not being supported here. We do not want a province of sick people, we want a province of healthy people. We want to keep people out of hospitals. We want them to be able to have recreational and cultural activities to keep them healthy, as I said earlier, physically and mentally.
For any government member who believes in what the people of Ontario want and who understands what the people of Ontario want, my motion provides an opportunity for lottery profits to continue to play an important role in the life of Ontarians as they have for the past 14 years.
The First Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that the bill be amended by deleting section 2 and substituting the following therefor:
“The net profits of the corporation generated by intraprovincial lottery games that, pursuant to section 9 of the said act, have been paid into the consolidated revenue fund before 1 April 1988 and that have not been expended before that date shall be deemed to establish a trust, the annual interest on which shall be available for appropriation by the Legislature for the development and promotion of sport, fitness, recreational and cultural programs and other programs designed to reduce demands on the health care system, and shall be so accounted for in the Public Accounts of Ontario.”
The Chair will also rule that this amendment, as well, is out of order as it violates standing order 54.
There being no further amendments that I am aware of, shall section 2 carry?
Ms Bryden: May I speak to the section, Mr Chairman? Surely I have an opportunity to speak to the section. even though amendments have been ruled out of order.
The First Deputy Chair: You test me somewhat, in that I thought we went to some great lengths to protect your right to make some comments before you moved an amendment. It seemed to me that it would have been in order at that time to speak to it. I do not want to rule that it is out of order to speak to a section. I would seek a little co-operation here. I am trying to accommodate members on all sides. I do not want to limit the debate, but I do not want us to be repetitious either.
If you have something to say that you have not said previously in the debate, I certainly want to provide you with that opportunity. I seek your guidance.
Ms Bryden: I would like to point out that the figures which the member for Middlesex mentioned, which the Treasurer had guaranteed, he said in an appearance before the committee, would be paid to the cultural, recreational and sports organizations in the next three years is not a guarantee that is in the act. The Treasurer may not be here when the next year’s lottery money is being distributed.
We would like, in this act and in section 2, an actual guarantee of the amounts that the Treasurer has proposed to give. I must agree with the member for Mississauga South that it is a paltry proposal, it is peanuts, it is less than a fifth of the total lottery profits. But no matter how much it is, if it is a pledge, if it a guarantee, as the member for Middlesex says, we want to see it in the legislation.
The only thing we have seen in the way of a change in this section is the government amendment done earlier to take into account the 1989 receipts in to this fund made up from unallocated lottery proceeds. So the Treasurer is getting a bigger grab of lottery money as a result of government amendment, but it is giving only one fifth of total lottery revenues back to the organizations on a promise that may not ever be kept because it is not in the legislation.
That is my main point, that we should not pass section 2 until we get that written in, in a new government amendment. We should not report the bill out until that is done. That is the only way to keep faith with all of those hundreds of organizations that appealed to us to give them a guarantee. All they asked for was one third of total lottery profits and of the unallocated amount, but they did not even get that. Our party tried to move that they should get at least one third. They have not got that at all. It is not written into the legislation that anything has to go to lotteries or to hospitals for that matter or to the Trillium fund.
It is all in the hands of the Treasurer. It is simply a disgrace in a democratic society to give the Treasurer that kind of power, and I am shocked that he, as a long-time member of this House, is going along with this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
On motion by Hon Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendment.
PROVINCIAL PENALTIES ADJUSTMENT ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR LE RAJUSTEMENT DE PEINES PROVINCIALES
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 92, An Act to amend Fines and Terms of Imprisonment contained in certain Acts.
M. Polsinelli, au nom de l’honorable M. Scott, propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 92, Loi portant modification des amendes et des périodes d’emprisonnement prévues par certaines lois.
Mr Polsinelli: Today I am presenting to the House for second reading the Provincial Penalties Amendment Act, 1989. This act raises maximum fines and in some cases minimum fines for a large number of offences under provincial statutes. As noted on first reading, the act does hope to reflect the changing value of money since the fines for these offences were established or most recently changed.
The effect of the act will be to restore the fines to the level of seriousness they had originally. This will help to ensure that a fine’s effect as a deterrent or as a punishment will not be lost. The measure should also increase the provincial fines revenues in real dollars to levels anticipated when the fines were first calculated. A few fines are raised more than just to compensate for inflation. The government has taken advantage of the opportunity presented by this act to make some other adjustments that are obviously needed.
This act is not intended to substitute for a general review of the affected statutes. The House should note that we are dealing here with maximum fines. They are imposed only in the very gravest of cases. The actual fine imposed in a particular case will depend on the circumstances of the case as weighed by the judge who hears it.
Mr Revllle: Can the minister indicate to the House whether any government amendments are anticipated?
Mr Polsinelli: The opposition critics have both been advised that there will be a number of amendments proposed. These amendments are strictly of a technical nature and are necessary to make the bill workable; they have been discovered since first reading of the bill. They have been shared with both opposition critics and they are well aware of what we are going to be doing.
Mr Kormos: I am looking forward, along with other opposition members, to this being in committee of the whole. We will be proposing at least one amendment, and that is in an effort to correct what we see, I think quite legitimately, what amounts to a very hurried and scattered and ill-planned effort on the part of the government demonstrated or reflected in this particular piece of legislation.
A couple of examples that come to mind are the amendments to the Minors’ Protection Act contained in Bill 92, and that is the whole business of the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 -- there has been a hue and cry for a long time for meaningful penalties and, indeed, this bill appears at first blush to be a response to that hue and cry -- and the more recent calls upon the government to amend the Ticket Speculation Act to increase the penalties there. We are talking about people who are making big bucks, big money -- one wonders how much of it is taxed because of the very nature of that business -- scalping tickets outside places like Maple Leaf Gardens for hockey games, entertainment events, etc.
Basically, what they are doing is depriving hardworking people from attending these events, depriving people who work hard for a living from taking their kids to entertainment events or sporting events at the gardens or at other places and, instead, if you are going to participate as a member of the audience, you fall prey to these vultures who, as I say, in the colloquial are called scalpers.
By the way, we know how they do it. They scoop up all the most desirable seats, and one is perhaps suspicious of the degree of collusion between the promoters and the scalpers, because the scalpers seem to have an uncanny ability to grab the very best seats notwithstanding that transparent effort on the part of the promoters to leave all of us with the impression that there is some sort of fair approach, almost a first-come, first-served basis, to selling tickets to these events to members of the public.
So the amendments relate to the Minors’ Protection Act, with increased penalties regarding the sale of cigarettes to kids, and to the Ticket Speculation Act, with increased penalties for vultures who would prey on hardworking people and charge them unconscionable prices for admission tickets
We welcome those aspects of it. We welcome the response to that hue and cry, that legitimate demand from the community, and, indeed, if anything, most of the legislation that this bill seeks to amend has not been dealt with in a long, long time, so at the very least inflation has taken its toll on the fines and penalties that were imposed and contained in the existing legislation.
But what is clear upon something more than the most casual reading of Bill 92 is that it was something that was slapped together, thrown together I dare say, at the last minute, thrown together without a great deal of thought. The bill bears all the hallmarks of haste, extreme haste, and, indeed, in some instances, carelessness.
There is no consistency in penalty, no effort on the part of the drafters of this legislation, clearly, to generate consistency of penalties from one type of offence to another. Some acts and some offences have minimum penalties, others do not. There is no clear rationale apparent from reading those acts and reading the penalty sections why some should warrant the minimum penalties and others should not.
Indeed, when you take a look at Bill 92 and the plethora of provincial statutes that it seeks to amend, it appears that some of the more modest offences, indeed, continue to carry some of the more onerous penalties, whereas some of the more onerous offences carry more modest or more moderate penalties. Some offences are ones which can be dealt with by way of fine and/or imprisonment, others merely by way of fine.
One would have hoped that the government, when reviewing and taking stock of its provincial legislation and in an effort to update the penalty sections of what amounts to not just a score but hundreds of statutes with penalty provisions, would have made an effort to generate some consistency, some standards by which certain offences would have attached to them minimum penalties and some standards by which other offences would have attached to them the risk or the prospect of imprisonment as a penalty. Indeed, that is not what happened here.
It is a hodgepodge; it reflects the haste with which it was thrown together. We support in principle the need to update the penalty sections of most, if not all, of the provincial statutes in the Revised Statutes of Ontario, but when that exercise is being performed, one would think there would be a simultaneous effort to rationalize the penalties and to make them consistent with each other.
We are not going to do the government’s job for it. If it wants to present bills like this, which are hastily prepared, prepared without a great deal of thought, in a sort of a last-minute effort to throw something together -- well, there it is: it looks like a bill, and when you first read it, it reads like a bill; but when you reflect on it, it is not much of a bill, not much of a bit of legislation. But, so be it.
Because of the fact that this matter has been left without attention for so long, we see absurd penalties provided under the Minors’ Protection Act for the sale of cigarettes, the sale of tobacco to kids. The penalties are so modest that it has been a disincentive to law enforcement people to enforce the statute. The penalties under the Ticket Speculation Act, as they have existed for so long, have also been so modest as to create a disincentive for law enforcement people to enforce the law in that regard.
Mr Reville: A $2 fine.
Mr Kormos: Two dollars for selling tobacco to a kid.
Indeed, we can talk, as we should, about all the ills that plague our society. If we overlooked the serious impact of tobacco on young people’s lives, we would be negligent in the highest degree.
So, it is important that these be updated. It is for that reason that we are going to support it. But, at the same time, we sadly recognize that this is one of those things that is so clearly a last-minute effort. It does not have in it the clarity that even the briefest of thought would have generated; it does not have in it the logic and rationale that even the briefest of thought would have generated.
It is unfortunate, quite frankly, that this is what most of us have come to expect from this government -- last-minute, last-ditch efforts to try to cover the holes or to try to plug the holes in a leaky ship, and this bill, Bill 92, is as demonstrative of that as any other legislation that the government has proposed.
But there it is. The government is going to have to live with the ill consequences of it; the government is going to have to live with not having taken the bull by at least one horn. What it is doing now is simply buying a little bit of time. It is unfortunate that it proposes to deal with things that way, but when a government has no agenda, when a government has no policy, when a government has no direction, as this Peterson government clearly does not, when it has been, as it is, dancing in fog without an agenda, without direction, without policy, we come to expect this; it becomes the norm; it becomes the status quo -- Bill 192, here we go one more time.
Mr Sterling: I am going to be very, very brief on this bill.
One of the problems associated with dealing with what you would call an omnibus bill that has many, many different sections to it is that I am not certain that because this was introduced, I believe, on 7 December 1989. What was that, a week ago?
Mr Haggerty: See how things are moving through the House?
Mr Sterling: One of the members says, “You see how things are moving?” That is what frightens me a little bit with regard to this act, that we are dealing with the amendment of very many acts, probably in the neighbourhood of 50 or 60 acts. Quite frankly, it is very difficult to understand what each increase in each fine actually means with regard to being a deterrent.
We should note that only in a very few cases is there a minimum fine in place. During the committee of the whole House proceedings, I will be dealing specifically with the Minors’ Protection Act, which has to do with the selling of tobacco to minors.
This amendment, for instance, increases the maximum fine for selling tobacco to minors from $50 to $500 for an individual and from $50 to $25,000 for a corporation. But it does not even include a $1 minimum for a fine for selling cigarettes to a minor. I will be talking a little bit about the history of that particular fine, as I have some scant knowledge about it.
In general, we would support this kind of legislation. We would only say that it would probably have been the kind of legislation which the government would want to have sit on Orders and Notices for a period of time before it really passed it, but that is really up to the government’s conscience and the government’s call as to whether it wants to pass this speedily. I think it would probably have been to our advantage in the Legislature to have a little bit more time with it.
Mr Polsinelli: I look forward, first, to the discussion in the committee of the whole in terms of the amendments that may be proposed to this bill, but I would like to respond at this point to one comment that was made by the critic from the official opposition, that this bill was put together hastily and that, in fact, there is no consistency in penalty from one offence to another.
Quite simply, the response to that is that the intent of this bill is to remedy for the effects of inflation, and only in a small number of cases, where the deterrent impact of the penalty is no longer considered by the minister involved to be a deterrent, has the penalty been increased more than inflation.
This legislation is intended, as I say again, to remedy for inflation. It is not intended to be a general review of all the statutes involved. That may or may not be done by the ministries at some time in the future.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
PROVINCIAL PENALTIES ADJUSTMENT ACT, 1989 / LOL DE1989 SUR LE RAJUSTEMENT DE PEINES PROVINCIALES
Consideration of Bill 92, An Act to amend Fines and Terms of Imprisonment contained in certain Acts.
Étude du projet de loi 92, Loi portant modification des amendes et des périodes d’emprisonnement prévues par certaines lois.
The Chair: At this point, I would like to list all sections. We have sections 5, 20, 34, 38, 79, 87 and 95 as government motions, and section 1? from the official opposition. Do you have any other copies? Would the third party have some proposed amendments?
Mr Sterling: Could you help me? I have an amendment to section 13 of the act. Given about a minute or so, I could supply you with a copy of the amendment. Do you have any other amendments to sections prior to section 13?
The Chair: Yes, I have one, to section 5.
Mr Sterling: Okay.
The Chair: So while we do section 5, maybe you can send a page for copies -- we will need at least seven copies for the table here.
Mr Sterling: Seven. Is this the government --
The Chair: Of course. No, no, just the table, including legislative counsel, the Hansard people and the fine people in the interpreters’ booth, who we never forget, of course. Thank you for arranging photocopies.
Do other people have other proposed amendments or would like at this point to list other sections? I will repeat what I have: government proposed amendments to 5, 20, 34, 38, 79, 87, 95; official opposition, section 17, and third party, section 13. Correct? Therefore, not hearing any other proposals, shall I say that sections 1 to 4 will carry? Carried.
Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: There is a government motion from the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Polsinelli moved that section 5 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following:
Le paragraphe 23(1) de la Loi de 1988 sur la destruction des mauvaises herbes, qui constitue le chapitre 51, est abrogé et remplacé par ce qui suit :
« (1) Quiconque contrevient à la présente Loi ou aux règlements, ou à un ordre donné aux termes de la présente Loi, est coupable d’une infraction et passible, sur déclaration de culpabilité, d’une amende d’au moins 500 $ et d’au plus 2000 $ à l’égard d’une première infraction, et d’une amende d’au moins 1000 $ et d’au plus 5000 $ à l’égard de chaque infraction subséquente. »
I presume the parliamentary assistant is afraid to hear my French. Fair enough, we shall assume that. Would you have an opening statement, Monsieur l’adjoint parlementaire ?
Une voix : En français.
Le Vice-Président : Mais oui, en français, bien sûr.
Mr Polsineili: This amendment corrects an omission in the bill. The bill as initially submitted to this House was submitted in both the English and French languages, and what this amendment does is amend the French language text of the French bill.
The Chair: Any other comments from the other critics or other members? Does that mean we are ready to vote? Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
Section 5. as amended, agreed to.
Section 6 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Sterling moves that section 13(1) be amended by deleting everything after “is liable to a fine” in the fifth line and substituting therefor “of not less than $50 and not more than $500”.
Mr Sterling: This act deals with the fines that are levied against people who sell tobacco to minors. It is interesting that in around 1890 there was a minimum fine for selling tobacco to minors of some $10 and a maximum fine of $50. Over the years since 1892, I believe it was, the minimum fine for selling tobacco to minors fell from $10 to $2.
Today, in the bill that is placed before us, Bill 92, the government is increasing the maximum fine for an individual from $50 to $500, but is not putting in a minimum fine at all. In other words, the minimum fine is $1 if one wants to put the smallest amount of money that one can imagine on it. This amendment, in fact, puts a minimum of $50 on an offence of selling tobacco to minors and a maximum of $500, as is contained in the bill when we are dealing with an individual rather than a corporation.
Mr Kormos: Very briefly, we support the amendment and we endorse the spirit which prompted its being moved. This is terribly important legislation; that is to say, the law itself is. It has been overlooked for a long, long time and the reason why is clearly because the fines are so modest that the low level of fine is in itself a disincentive for police officers and other law enforcement personnel to engage in investigation, apprehension and the charging process.
It is our hope, as I am sure it is the hope of the mover, that, first, the amendment will be passed and, second, in view of the new range of penalties, that the enforcement of this particular statute will be engaged in vigorously across the province, not just by way of a blitz but on an ongoing basis. There is just simply no argument and there is nothing that the tobacco lobby or anybody else could say that could justify the sale of tobacco to kids, because the sale of tobacco to kids is so that they are going to consume it.
The purveyors, the peddlers of tobacco to kids are in no different category from the junkies and speed dealers who would hang around schoolyards selling heroin, speed and other types of drugs and narcotics to those same kids, hoping that they get addicted so that they will become ongoing, full-time customers. Tobacco is as insidious a drug as any other that is being used by people, both young and old, in North America today. We support this amendment wholeheartedly and enthusiastically and we look forward to its application.
Mr Polsinelli: One of the dangers of having minimum fines is that they can act as a deterrent to the laying of charges. That happens in the case where the minimum fine is too high. In this particular situation, we understand the great ardour and the great enthusiasm that the member for Carleton has in attempting to stamp out smoking in this province and that he would go to all lengths if that were possible for him to do. We have agreed to support this amendment.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Sterling moves that subsection 13(2) of the bill be amended by deleting everything after “subsection (1)” in the fourth line and substituting therefor “the minimum fine shall be $200 and the maximum fine $25,000.”
Mr Sterling: This amendment to Bill 92 provides for a maximum fine against a corporation of $25,000. This simply does what the amendment to subsection 13(1) did for an individual save and except there is a different amount, and that is that the minimum fine for a charge against a corporation would be $200.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Carleton is establishing a different criterion for individuals than he is for corporations, that the minimum fine for individuals selling tobacco to minors is going to be $50 and the minimum fine for a corporation for selling cigarettes to a minor is going to be $200. However, in the spirit of friendship and co-operation that we generally demonstrate around this time of year, we will support this amendment also.
Motion agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 14 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Kormos moves that section 17 of the bill be amended by deleting the phrase “is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000,” and inserting in lieu thereof, “is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000.”
Mr Kormos: Section 17 of Bill 92 deals with amendments to the Ticket Speculation Act. Section 17 of the bill would purport to increase the penalty from what it is currently in the Ticket Speculation Act. The current penalty is a fine of not less than $5 and not more than $50.
As a result of some investigative reportage on the part of the Toronto Star, the extent of ticket scalping was drawn most dramatically to the attention of all of us some short time ago, certainly here in the city of Toronto, and in all likelihood in other parts of the province, the flagrant and blatant violation of the law that was taking place, earning certain actors small fortunes, indeed big fortunes.
It was being done by virtue of these vultures, these parasites buying up not just one or two tickets, but big blocks of tickets to entertainment and sporting events and then peddling them to those of us who do not have the connections. They have the inside track with promoters to get access to the proverbial good seats and sell them to us at grossly inflated prices, that being profit. That is against the law. It has been against the law for a long, long time and rightly so. Among other things, taxpayers, hard-working people across Ontario as often as not subsidize in one way or another the location, the venue of these events and sometimes in fact the events themselves. The practice of ticket speculation is one that deprives these same hard-working people of an opportunity to participate in these entertainment or sporting events.
In response to that, the members will remember that the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan) tabled in the House a bill amending the Ticket Speculation Act, providing for penalties that would constitute real deterrents to those who would dare violate it. That bill is alive and well as Bill 72, but hopefully, if this amendment is acceptable, that bill will be purely academic because it will not need to go anywhere. The basic intent of the bill will be incorporated into Bill 92 on the part of the government.
This amendment echoes the sentiments and the intent of the member for Cambridge’s bill. It has been expressed, and it was expressed recently in that same series of newspaper articles, by the Metropolitan Toronto Police that they feel particularly frustrated. They would very much like to enforce the law, but they feel frustrated. They are dealing with scummy little people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably very little of it is taxable. These people are driving around in cars that you and I can only dream about and living in homes that most hard-working people will never see.
Hon Mr Mancini: We dream about yours.
Mr Kormos: My Chevy S-10, the pickup truck, is parked out in the parking lot. The Minister of Revenue dreams about pickup trucks. I find that fascinating. That warrants a little dream therapy.
Hon Mr Mancini: Tell us about the Corvette. What colour is the Corvette?
Mr Kormos: The new one is going to be green, which is a good NDP colour, and American made.
In any event, these people prey on hardworking people who have but modest amounts of time and modest amounts of money to spend on hard-earned entertainment time.
Hopefully, this is going to give the police some of the tools that they need. Hopefully, members of the bench, be it justices of the peace or provincial judges, whoever happens to be hearing these prosecutions, will appreciate that the reason for the maximum fine of $5,000 is so that the fines can be in the thousands of dollars, not just in the hundreds of dollars.
I am pleased to move this. As I say, it was prompted by the bill presented by the member for Cambridge. I am sure it was merely an oversight on the part of the government to amend it to read but $1,000. That is simply not enough. The type of sleaze who is doing ticket speculation now is such that a maximum $1,000 fine is going to be but a licence to carry on in business. What we need are real penalties for the real bad actors who are out there engaging in ticket speculation, so they can be rapped good.
Mr Polsineili: We are proposing to increase the fine 20 times, from $50 to $1,000. The member for Welland-Thorold wants us to increase it 100 times, to $5,000. If we give one to the member for Carleton, we have to give one to the member for Welland-Thorold, so we are supporting his amendment.
Mr Sterling: I would of course like to express my wholehearted support for this being a unreasonable amount. I would have preferred it if he had included a minimum as well, but it is certainly an improvement over the $1,000. Some of these individuals, I understand, are making a very tremendous profit on a yearly basis in doing this, and I think it should be discouraged. I think this amendment will assist in doing that.
Motion agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 18 and 19 agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that subsection 20(1) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(1) Subsection 21(2) of the Day Nurseries Act, being chapter III of the Revised Statutes of
Ontario, 1980, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) Every person who contravenes the provisions of section 16 and every director, officer or employee of a corporation who knowingly concurs in such contravention by the corporation is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years. or to both.”
Mr Polsinelli: This corrects a clerical error.
Motion agreed to.
Section 20, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 21 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that section 14 of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, as set out in section 34 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(1a) If an insurer is convicted of an offence under subsection (1), the fine shall not be less than $5,000.”
Mr Polsinelli: This puts in a minimum fine.
Motion agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 35 to 37, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that section 38 of the bill be amended by striking out “$10,000 for a first or subsequent offence” in the last two lines and inserting in lieu thereof “not more than $10,000.”
Mr Polsinelli: This changes a mistaken fixed fine in the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Section 38, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 39 to 78, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Shall section 79 stand as part of the bill?
Some hon members: No.
Section 79 withdrawn.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Chairman, I would like to seek unanimous consent to complete committee of the whole on this bill. I think it will only take a few more minutes.
The Chair: Is there unanimous agreement?
Sections 80 to 86, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that the schedule to section 87 of the bill be amended by striking out the reference to the Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Section 87, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 88 to 94, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that column 2 of the item in the schedule to section 95 of the bill related to subsection 30(3e) of the Highway Traffic Act be amended by striking out “500” and inserting in lieu thereof “5,000”.
Mr Polsinelli: This is correcting another misprint.
Motion agreed to.
Section 95, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 96 and 97 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Polsinelli, the committee of the whole reported one bill with certain amendments.
The House recessed at 1803.
The House resumed at 2000.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Elston moved second reading of Bill 84, An Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and certain other Acts in respect of Confidentiality Provisions.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the minister have an opening statement?
Hon Mr Elston: Just very briefly, Mr Speaker. The bill that is before us now actually is a result of the initial passage of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and there was provision under section 67 that actually required the committee to report back to the House and make recommendations to deal with the confidentiality provisions, which were either unnecessary or inconsistent with the bill or at least the act that was passed for the purposes of freedom of information and protection of privacy.
This bill is a result of that. Initially, it has been developed jointly, actually, through a report to the committee by Management Board and then a series of hearings by the committee that recommended that certain things be done. In most situations, I think it is fair to say that there has been full agreement.
There are two areas of discussion still left with respect to the bill and whether or not it fully complies with the report of the legislative committee. In fact, the one area of dispute, which I think will be discussed by my colleague by the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh), focuses around whether or not there should be certain provisions added that might be construed to be more tightly defining the areas of confidentiality with respect to certain mediation and arbitration reports.
The other area actually is a direct conflict with respect to recommendations that have been put forward by the committee to us, basically with respect to Ministry of Health provisions under three statutes. In fact, we will respond, actually, I think, to the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) who is raising those as amendments.
We have received correspondence from the Ministry of Health indicating that it not only would be prepared to accept the statute, but also that it would prefer having it in its current form to having amendments, but perhaps we could deal with that item when the bill goes to committee of the whole House.
I just want to say finally, before we hear the remarks of our colleagues, that this effort has been very much expedited by the sense of co-operation among all participants in the committee and also the people at Management Board who helped by moving through a whole series of statutory provisions, some 130 provisions in 90 statutes. I think a lot of the work was accomplished in a manner which not only was quite efficient, but certainly very effective, and I look forward now to moving forward to putting the bill in place to comply with the legislation provisions from the original act.
I look forward to the interventions of the two critics and look forward to dealing with the issues at hand.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Questions et commentaires au sujet de la presentation du Ministre? If not, do other members wish to participate?
Mr Breaugh: We support the bill. I want to spend a little time on the process part of it because I think there is a good process at work here.
Essentially, the bill that we have in front of us this evening is one that was put together in a way that was laid out in the original statute, with the reference to a legislative committee, the opportunity for that committee to do something that was actually somewhat daunting when one looks at the number of acts that are affected by the original Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and at the idea that a legislative committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing each statute. That was almost an impossible task.
It became a possible task when the committee got sensible and said, “It would not be a sane thing to try to hold a long series of public hearings at this stage and ask people to make contributions on a bill that, in effect, for many of those statutes did not apply yet.”
Our knowledge of how the original act is working is somewhat limited. I would dare say that most members here have had an initial skirmish or two with some of the ministries over how the bill was interpreted and how direction was given to local staff, as to how it would apply the bill and release information or not release it.
I want to say that in general, I think we have pushed this thing in the correct direction. The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly said, “Perhaps in the first round the sensible thing to do is to try to look at this from a drafting point of view, to see how it would have an impact on each of the ministries and to allow the ministries to tell us what their problems might be, and then let the committee make the judgement call as to what should actually happen.” That in essence was the process.
All of the ministry staff was quite cooperative. We picked, I think it wound up being, about seven or eight of the ministries that looked after statutes that caused some problems for the committee. We asked them to come in front of us and provide us with reasons why something should be done or could not be done. They did, and they were unusually succinct in their presentations, for which we are immensely grateful.
The minister’s staff was particularly helpful in trying to answer the million and one questions that people came up with. I think what we have before us this evening is the first round, and we should recognize it as that. This is a relatively new concept in Ontario. We are beginning to implement it across the ministries. It has encountered some initial difficulties, but in January of next year that will be the first real full-scale test of the act. What this round is trying to do is prepare us for that.
I think it is worth noting that in Ontario law now, we try to put into one act, one statute, the balancing process that is part of this. It would not be a sane thing to release information holusbolus, which could damage someone’s career or damage his aspirations to do certain things, which would be unfair. So in the Ontario proposal, the balancing process is internal to the act.
I think the Information and Privacy Commissioner, who happens to be someone whom most of us have worked with in several capacities over the years, is someone of whom most members of the Legislature would say, “We have a good deal of faith that there is some common sense there.” Many of the staff members of the commissioner’s office are people whom the members here have known in some other capacity. They have worked for a legislative committee. We have known them as people who worked in various ministries. So we have some hope, and I think a legitimate hope, that the staff members in the commissioner’s office, who by and large will be charged with the responsibility of carrying out the bill itself once people in all the other ministries have had their instructions, have a good sense of what the Legislature itself wants done with this bill. That, I think, is the important aspect in all of this.
I do not suggest that this bill is the be-all and end-all, but I do think it is probably the second or third step in a long, important process of letting this evolve, so that people will know they do have the right to get information about the government and how it works. They should also know at the same time that we have some obligations to protect some interests. For example, it would be silly to endanger a trade union local that is just starting up, by saying, “You can give out all the information as to who signed a card saying he wanted to belong to that bargaining unit.” That would destroy the process and we know that.
We will get into some arguments later on where we face what perhaps are the classic conflicts of health information, for example. Sometimes there will be that conflict; one would like to protect all the information that is there, but the greater public good has to be served. And so we will have to find ways and means of doing both things at the same time, protecting the privacy of the individual and providing the public with information that it has a right to know.
We will have a debate later on, I think, on the amendment in the committee of the whole House put by the member for Carleton that kind of focuses that debate. We have had it several times and have had it again in committee.
I am concerned a little bit that there is one section of the act that ought to have an amendment put to it, so in committee of the whole, I will bring forward an amendment that has to do with reports and notes that are gathered by people who work in the field of conciliation and mediation, where it is my view that the act does provide pretty good confidentiality. But I would not want someone later on to say, “If that is what they really meant, why didn’t they spell it out exact]y?” So I am going to attempt to do that.
I think the bill in its present form is a good model for a number of things; not for everything, certainly, but for a number of things where there is not quite the partisan nature to the task. A committee of this Legislature, consisting of representatives of all three parties, has worked for a fairly lengthy period of time now to try to get this bill ready.
We had some interesting discussions at the committee stage as to how we might proceed from there, and I still want to put in a little pitch that, on occasions when the Legislature finds something like this that is not partisan in nature, where we want a bill to go to a legislative committee before it comes here and have the committee put something together in draft form, it would be a good, logical step to not have a minister of the crown bring the bill forward, but to let the chairman of the committee present it almost as a three-party bill. We discussed that and there are some procedural problems with it. but some day perhaps we can get it to the state around here where I think it is fair to say that all three parties on the committee at least wanted to do that; but it did not seem to be the most reasonable and rational way to proceed, because several rules would have had to be bent.
But the bill is a good one; the concept is a good one; it is one that I support. We have made some of the stupid mistakes that I have seen other jurisdictions make, and I know we all vowed that that would not happen here, but it did. At this stage I do not think it does any of us much good to weep and moan about all of that. We are human beings; we make mistakes. The best of intentions here do not always get translated into sensible things on the ground, out in a ministry office somewhere else. So we support the bill. We will look forward to a little bit more debate in committee of the whole and I commend the bill to all members of the assembly.
Mr Sterling: Bill 84 emanates out of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that we passed in this Legislature some three or four years ago. It really results from one of the sections of that bill; section 67 of that act says, “This act prevails over a confidentiality provision in any other act unless the other act specifically provides otherwise.” As this comes into effect on 1 January 1990 and therefore it is important that we deal with this legislation before we get on to next year.
The problem is that when we talk about confidentiality as protected by some 90 different statutes and some 130 different provisions in this province, on 1 January 1990 all of those provisions in effect are wiped out for written records. Those confidentiality provisions will remain in effect to bind civil servants, keepers of confidentiality information, with regard to verbal communication over the telephone and they are therefore limited in some ways, and many of the sections, all save three, will live on past 1 January 1990 for verbal communications.
But as for the written record itself, those sections will become no longer functional and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act of 1987 will take over and replace it. One of the problems that I will be raising in committee of the whole House is how well the freedom of information act protects the privacy of individuals in this province. I will put forward arguments that, because of certain sections in that act, I do not believe that the freedom of information act protects the confidentiality of some of our records as well as the specific provisions in specific legislation that is in place at this time.
When we were considering this act, we put forward an amendment to section 23. Section 23 of this act gives really a tremendous amount of power to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for this province. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of the province of Ontario is more powerful as a privacy commissioner than any other individual appointed under any other act in any other jurisdiction that I know of. The freedom of information commissioner can, in effect, override all of the rules that are put forward in the act if in fact he determines, based on the fact that the exemptions do not apply, where there is compelling public interest in the disclosure of the record that clearly outweighs the purpose of the exemption.
So therefore, if I put forward an argument that health care legislation is now protecting very sensitive information, such as information as to who or who does not have AIDS, or who or who does not have venereal diseases in this province, that information is now protected by a number of health care statutes.
This evening, if the bill is passed in its present form, those protections will no longer be there on 1 January 1990. The people who in the past have been supplying that information or if that information has been gathered about them, if they have had the protection of a number of health care statutes, no longer will have that protection. They will have only the protection of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to rely on.
Now you, Mr Speaker, and other members of this Legislature may argue about whether or not this statute provides them with adequate protection. We tried to make the argument, when we were passing this act, that the freedom of information officer should not be able to argue that it is in the public interest to disclose personal information. Unfortunately, the government of the day, supported by the then third party, the New Democratic Party, decided that the freedom of information officer, under section 23, should have the unfettered discretion to release personal information if in fact he found -- and the present commissioner is Mr Linden -- that there was compelling public interest in the disclosure of a record and that it clearly outweighed the purpose of the personal interest exemption.
Therefore, during the committee of the whole House, I will be putting forward an amendment that will try to maintain the three most sensitive health care acts that, under our present laws, provide confidentiality protection until 31 December 1989. During the hearings of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, we heard the arguments put forward by the Ministry of Health that it believed the protections in this act were adequate.
I want to say that, in spite of the arguments put forward during those committee hearings, the recommendations of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly of this Legislature were to keep in these three acts and allow them paramountcy over this particular act.
When Bill 84 was introduced, those three acts were not included. I might also point out that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, of course, is made up of six government members, two New Democratic members and two Progressive Conservative members. I believe that every member of that committee felt at that time that these three acts should remain in place and have paramountcy over the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. So when Bill 84 was introduced in this Legislature some very short time ago, I believe last week or the week before, I was somewhat distressed to find that these three sections were not included, as was recommended by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
I guess I was further concerned that we in the Legislative Assembly committee accepted all of the recommendations of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr Elston) to include eight other override sections. The Legislative Assembly committee said, “Yes, we will accept those eight. We want these three more health statutes to also have the override so there would be a total of 11.” But when you read Bill 84 there are 11 there, but there are three brand-new ones which were inserted at the discretion of the government and they include matters relating to labour disputes.
Quite frankly, when we were dealing with these matters, we went through all of the different statutes and the Legislative Assembly committee did not feel it was necessary to include those three labour statutes. Now I am not going to take issue with adding those three labour statutes. I believe in erring on the side of caution in terms of allowing the freedom of information act to override the specific sections of various different acts in this province.
But I do find it odd that while I am very aware of the sensitivities that go on with regard to labour organizations and unions in this province, I believe that the sensitivity with regard to health information does not seem to have reached the same priority with the government as this other matter. Quite frankly, I do not buy it in terms of the priorities which I place on the various information that would be there.
I believe the government would argue, perhaps, that the freedom of information act provides better protection for the individual than the three health care acts. But I can only say to the government in response that at this time we do not seem to have had a problem with the confidentiality of health care records, save and except when the administration of those records was fouled up and we found some in the halls of Queen’s Park and we found some in the garbage somewhere, etc. I believe all of those cases were cases of the people caring for those records not fulfilling their duties in a proper manner and there was no malice intended with regard to the release of that information.
The other part that I guess would weigh in favour of keeping these health care records with a paramountcy over this particular act would be the argument that is being put forward by the government at the present time that it is going to bring forward another act dealing with health care information. We have heard that for some period of time but that has not happened yet. I would like, quite frankly, for the people who are charged with these records at this time to go on under the same administrative structure as they have at this present time in dealing with those records, until the government does make up its mind as to the changes that it wants to undertake with regard to the sensitivity of health care information.
If the government had accepted, back in 1987, our wishes to exclude personal information from the possibility of the freedom of information and privacy commissioner having to say, or who has the right to say now, in spite of the fact that there are exemptions for privacy of personal information, I believe that there is a public interest in letting personal information out about certain individuals in this province, and that is the way I see it as an individual, then that can happen under our laws of Ontario. The order of the freedom of information and privacy commissioner is indeed a very strong order. In fact, the Attorney General (Mr Scott), when talking in the standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions on 25 March 1986, said:
“Some have suggested the bill should go further and provide a right of appeal to the courts on questions of fact and law whereby the court would be able to rehear the matter entirely and issue its own order as if it were the commissioner. To me, such an elaborate and costly right of appeal would do much to undermine the principles of accessibility and informality which are the hallmarks of the bill. The power of the government to appeal to the courts -- and in the nature of the process, it would be the government that is appealing in most instances -- could be very discouraging and mark an important economic disincentive to the citizens who desire to exercise their rights in the bill. I have confidence that the decisions of the commissioner will be fair and impartial and that there will be little need to resort to the expensive mechanism of a full appeal on the merits of the case.”
Therefore, if the freedom of information and privacy commissioner makes a ruling which is completely illogical but is based on the facts of the case, then there is no appeal. Therefore, if he decides to release very damaging information about an individual, he alone has that right. That is what I was talking about in my opening remarks with regard to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the power of the commissioner. The power of the commissioner in this province is greater than the power of the freedom of information and privacy commissioner in any other jurisdiction in the world.
I have no doubts about the ability of the present commissioner on the basis of his record over the past two years, in which we have just witnessed, I believe, his tremendous grasp of this legislation. However, we are never guaranteed that we will have the same kind of sanity and logic prevail for ever, especially when we leave the final decision up to one person.
Therefore, we will be supporting this bill, but we will also be supporting the recommendations of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, which sat in September and made recommendations to the Chairman of Management Board. We will be presenting amendments to the committee of the whole House to include what in fact that legislative committee wanted the minister to include in Bill 84, and that is an assurance to the people of Ontario that confidentiality with regard to the very sensitive health matters will be retained within the statutes as it is today, because our experience has been that it has been adequate and it has protected the health care information of people in the province of Ontario.
Hon Mr Elston: I think that we have had a fairly good discussion to this point of all the issues which are at hand here. I know that the decision to address this particular piece of legislation, that is -- I should not say this particular piece -- the original act in a manner which was, as quoted by the member for Carleton, less formal and in a way which would allow people the greatest access to information is a hallmark that we wish to maintain.
The particular piece of legislation we have here, which addresses the issues of confidentiality, is going to cause, from time to time I think, differences of opinion and those things have been expressed in initial ways with respect to the three health acts, the Health Insurance Act, the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act, by the member for Carleton. It actually comes down to a decision made with respect to some committee deliberations in which actually the Ministry of Health was not examined, although there were six other ministries in front of the committee, and the difference of opinion as expressed through correspondence to my office from the ministry representatives indicating that they would prefer to go with the provisions in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act rather than retaining the amendments which the member for Carleton has spoken about to us this evening.
I think the reflection on the amendment which the member for Oshawa will speak to will indicate the areas of difference of opinion as well, but those differences, I think, are matters of degree in the sense that I think we all have a sense that the bill as it is placed probably does cover the concerns in the greatest way possible. We will, though, be pleased to move into committee of the whole House so that we can discuss the issues more fully and I look forward to doing that right now.
The Chair: Mr Elston moved second reading of Bill 84, An Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and certain other Acts in respect of Confidentiality Provisions.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 84, An Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and certain other Acts in respect of Confidentiality Provisions.
The Second Deputy Chair: Thank you for the table for Bill 84. Of course, we have been dealing with it in the House in second reading. We do have some amendments.
Hon Mr Elston: If it please the committee, may I move to the desk where the table is located and ask for staff to be on the floor?
The Second Deputy Chair: Yes, please.
Section 1 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: I notice from the official opposition that there is an amendment to subsection 2(2). Should we be particular and ask if there are any concerns about subsection 2(1)? Carried? Subsection 2(2)?
Mr Breaugh: The amendment that I am proposing is perhaps covered by the bill and perhaps not. I am putting an amendment tonight because some people who will be directly concerned by this are not as confident as some that the confidentiality provisions which they consider to be extremely important are not specifically laid out in the bill. So the argument basically is that the current act and the amendments that we are dealing with tonight will cover all cases that have to do with labour disputes and matters before the labour relations board.
The two areas where some concerns still remain are in the matter of information that might be held by people who would be functioning as mediators or conciliators, that reports, notes, information which they may have which I think it is generally agreed should be kept confidential, need to be specifically provided for in this act.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Breaugh moves that paragraph 7 of subsection 67(3) of the act, as set out in subsection 2(2) of the bill, be amended by striking out “111(1)” and inserting in lieu thereof “111(1) and (2)
Hon Mr Elston: We have discussed this a little bit prior to -- in fact we have had a relatively good discussion privately, but under subsection 1(1) of the act that we dealt with a little bit earlier, the relevant clause (d) is as follows, “reveal information supplied to or the report of a conciliation officer, mediator, labour relations officer or other person appointed to resolve a labour relations dispute.”
The sense is, and the feeling is, that this in fact applies in the broadest sense to the labour relations, mediation and conciliation efforts performed by labour relations officers in the broadest sense, and in fact would cover the particular provision under subsection 111(2) as the amendment reads. We think that, in fact, because it is much broader in application, to move the amendment to affect only one particular section might end up causing concern that the section itself did not have that broad application and we might then have to seek after all of the mediation, conciliation reports that are in all of the statutes of the province of Ontario. This general provision, being in the act and being very explicit about mediators and conciliation officers’ reports, we believe covers much more thoroughly the needs of the confidentiality of this particular provision than actually moving the amendment as brought forward by the member for Oshawa.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Sterling moves that subsection 2(2) of the bill be amended by adding thereto:
“12. Subsection 44(1) of the Health Insurance Act
“13. Subsection 38(1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (1983)
“14. Subsection 13(1) of the Ontario Drug Benefit Act (1986).”
Mr Sterling: On second reading only a few moments ago I explained to the Legislature my concern with regard to these three acts. Under these three acts there is the possibility of the collection of a significant amount of information about the individual health records of many citizens in the province of Ontario. It includes such sensitive information that one might be able to discover who in fact has had various different kinds of communicable diseases, and I mentioned also those who might have been struck with AIDS. The Legislative Assembly committee, after hearing the arguments put forward by health care officials, said that it was satisfied that those three sections of the present legislation were better protection for the confidentiality of that information than the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act itself.
We know there are arguments on the other side of the issue, but notwithstanding that, the arguments that these three additional statutes should be added and given paramountcy over the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to protect the health care records of the citizens of Ontario were bought by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly on the basis of that evidence. Therefore, I would urge the government to accept this amendment in the light that it was unanimously accepted by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Breaugh: This is again perhaps one of the classic arguments that you get into with a freedom of information and protection of privacy bill. There are some who would argue that the nature of the information makes it absolutely private and that in no form should that information change hands. In dealing with matters of public health, I guess the classic example is struck. Would we, as members of the assembly here, support the notion that, even if some agency of the government of Ontario had the information as to who attended some event at a hotel in downtown Toronto, even if it had the information of everybody who was there and somebody discovered that there was in fact a communicable disease present at that convention, or whatever it was, do we want to stand around and have an argument among several different government agencies as to whether you can release that information about the disease? Do you want to begin tracing those individuals as quickly as you can, or do you want to have an argument about it?
It is a judgement call, because there certainly are two clear sides to be taken here. I would say that reasonable people would fall on both sides of the argument: that there is a good case to be made that there should be absolute privacy, or, if there is not absolute privacy, that it should be a medical doctor or medical officer of health, or the head of a hospital, or the Minister of Health who would do the releasing of the information.
I think I could argue with just about as much conviction that I would like some consistency in this. I would like to see that the person who does release the information does so in a forum and a format and to a degree that has uniform application around Ontario, that is at least within the concept of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act itself.
I guess, in my judgement on this, we would probably accept the arguments on both sides as being valid. But as a practical measure, I think I would like to see the consistency there. I would like to see, because it would normally be a health matter, that the person who was co-ordinating the release of the information, the one individual who said yes or no, had some sense of what this Legislature would want done in that particular instance and some sense of the delicate nature of the information that is there, for example, and may not really release the information to the public at large. The purpose of a newspaper story may be valid, but it may not be. So the person would have to address, at that time, not whether this is sacred information or not, but whether there is a good argument that can be made that says. “Yes. it can be released, but in this form and in this way to these sources.
I think we have had this argument several times in committee and we are going to have it here again tonight. I disagree with my friend the member for Carleton somewhat, but I do not pose it as a stark argument with black and white. This is certainly one of those grey areas. I think perhaps if the previous amendment had carried, then to be consistent we probably would have supported this.
I want to put something on the record, because it is critical for this particular kind of amendment. It is not a matter of having faith in the current commissioner, because I have to remind myself that that individual, who is someone I know and trust, will not always be the commissioner in charge of these matters for ever and a day. That is not true.
But I do believe we have established the groundwork, the process, the way in which the information will be developed and released to the public at large. We are setting the precedents here, so it is my hope that 10 years from now, when we will still be arguing this particular matter, what we will have in place is a good consensus of how it ought to be done and a goodly number of precedents as to how you would go about it, and, where it is critical health information, have an appreciation on the part of the commissioner as to how you would do this: what would be the nature of the information, the amount of the information and how you would release it. That, I think, is the critical point.
I appreciate that the member for Carleton puts forth the argument well for his side of the argument. I understand that and I am sympathetic to it, but I do not find that we can support the amendment. I know that I would have preferred, frankly, if we had been true to the original process, that we simply put this to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and that that committee not only draft the bill for consideration but present the bill to the assembly here. Then I think we would have the kind of process that would be the best that I could think of and then I think you might have what the member for Carleton wanted. But in its current way. I find that the amendment does not quite fit into what is being proposed here this evening and so we shall not support it.
Hon Mr Elston: Actually, I think the points that have been raised by both the member for Carleton and the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) have really put quite well the arguments both for and against the amendment as proposed. I think what I should do, just for a moment, is reflect on a memo that came from David Corder, assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Health, to Frank White, who is the director of the freedom of information and privacy branch at Management Board of Cabinet, wherein Mr Corder advises us that in light of the Hansard reports of the discussions in the committee he had gone back again and reviewed the confidentiality provisions in relation to these three particular statutes.
He had indicated in the correspondence that I have shared with my friend the member for Carleton that this has been a continuing and abiding issue at the Ministry of Health. They have reviewed it several times and actually came to discuss the issue with us at Management Board when we were initially making a report. They have, as a result of the committee report, revisited the issues and found that there are certain things that provide a degree of consistency on the release of information and, Mr Corder has concluded, indicate the superior nature, in their view, of the freedom of information regime.
He has indicated, for instance, that there are at least a couple of items -- “criteria to be used by the head of an institution in deciding when information that is otherwise considered confidential may be released” -- that are provided in this bill whereas they are not provided in the existing statutes. The right of the individual to challenge a decision of the head is also available because of the operation of the freedom of information act. Under the current regime there are certain legal avenues open if somebody disputes whether or not the information is available, but not the informal avenue which our act has contemplated. that is, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
He goes on to indicate that “existing confidentiality provisions do not provide guidelines or criteria to be used by a manager, or other person of authority, when exercising his or her decision to release information.... In addition, there is no mechanism for independent review of decisions.... Another consideration in the existing statutory provision is the rigid definition of what information may be released; there is no provision for flexibility in releasing other necessary information, eg, release to the individual of personal clinical information.”
I have edited slightly some of the remarks. I will make these notes available for Hansard so that they can follow them, but basically, in summary, he goes on to indicate that they would prefer that these statutes be subject to freedom of information, because there is a regime established. There is a mechanism for review by an outside person. There are criteria available to which people will have to resort for a review or an analysis of how their decision is to be taken. With that material in front of us, I think I therefore have to conclude it would be prudent in these circumstances to vote against the amendment.
Mr Sterling: I would just like to say, in response to the member for Oshawa, that notwithstanding his analysis of the situation, I do not find that his example is relevant to these three statutes in terms of the information that we are talking about.
In terms of consistency, I believe we have been consistent in our party in saying that unless the government is absolutely certain it is going to improve the situation by allowing the freedom of information act to override the specific privacy sections which it has set up in the individual statutes, it does not do it.
I know the member for Oshawa was very supportive of the three additional exemptions or overrides that the minister added to this bill, and they included the three statutes, subsection 77(6) of the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, subsection 51(1) of the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, and subsection 111(1) of the Labour Relations Act.
It seems strange to me that the arguments that are put forward by him with regard to the three additional health care statutes and put forward by the minister could very well and as easily be put forward with regard to any one of those acts. I just think that when you deal with specific terms in a piece of legislation, your mind is turning to what kind of information you are dealing with within that specific section. Therefore, a general regime in trying to set out under what circumstances information should be disclosed or not disclosed cannot meet the same kind of regime that you set up in a very specific sense, as is the case in these three health care statutes.
When I was speaking in my opening remarks, I noticed the Chairman of Management Board nodding in agreement as a former Minister of Health that in this province we have not had problems with regard to the wholesale release of health information and that is under the old regime. I guess there is a little bit of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” in what I am saying with regard to those three sections, particularly with regard to the fact that they are looking at revamping this whole area of law in the not-too-far-distant future.
I am very, very fearful of placing this kind of information under a new regime where there are general rules, where they are going to be dealing under the same kind of rules when you are talking about information about your driving record or your birth record or whatever it is with sensitive health care information. I think it is a mistake on the part of the government not to accept the recommendations of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly that we put forward in our report to this assembly.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of the amendment will please say “aye.”
All those against will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Sterling: I just want to say before we leave Bill 84, which is an Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, that there are significant concerns about this act and how it is working in Ontario. I have talked to a number of people in the press and they are convinced now that they are receiving less information from this government than they were before this act was in place. The government is using the maximum time frames within this legislation to respond. They are extending on a regular basis every request that is made under the freedom of information act and acting in concert on a number of occasions to avoid giving information to not only members of this Legislature but also members of the press.
While we are expressing support for Bill 84 in its present form, we are only doing that in that it is a bill which is very limited in scope and dealing with an immediate problem that comes into effect on 1 January 1990. We are giving Bill 84 our support. We are not giving the present Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act our support in its present form and we think it is badly in need of amendment at this time.
Section 7 agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
MUNICIPAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR L’ACCES A L’INFORMATION MUNICIPALE ET LA PROTECTION DE LA VIE PRIVEE
Consideration of 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 prëvoyant l’accês a l’information et Ia protection de Ia vie privée dans les municipalités et les conseils beaux.
Section 1 agreed to.
L’article 1 est adopté.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Sterling moves that subsection 2(1) of the bill be amended by adding thereto under the definition “institution” the following clause: “a police force.”
The table has suggested an extra two copies. Do you have any further copies of your other further amendments? You do not. It has been discussed at the table before, and I would like to bring it to the attention of all members, that when putting amendments, we sure need copies. It disrupts the process of the House. Seven is preferable, if I remember the magic number. I know it is inconvenient, but if we could try to get in the habit of providing copies, it would make life a lot easier for all concerned in the running of the committee.
Mr Sterling: I apologize to the chair for not having those copies.
When we were having public hearings in front of the standing committee on administration of justice on this bill, we had several police forces and police commissions come in front of the committee. The problem relates to who is head of the police force and who is head of the commission. Really the desire there was that the police chief should be the head of the police force for purposes of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the chairman of the police commission should be the head of the police commission and there should be two separate parties dealing with the information.
The argument that is put forward, and I believe is correct, is that under the present legislation it says, “‘institution’ means.. .any agency, board, commission, corporation or other body designated as an institution in the regulations.” What the police wanted was clearly two different bodies that were spelled out in the bill. My next amendment will deal with two separate heads, with regard to the police force and the police commission. At the present time, the police commission does not have access to files about individuals who are involved in police work. Therefore, to ask the chairman of the police commission to be involved in looking through files of people who are under investigation does not make sense. As I understand it, they now keep the records of the two bodies separate and apart. This amendment is put forward to clarify the distinction between the two so that people will not be going to the chairman of the police commission to find out whether or not the police are doing an investigation on them, their friends or whatever.
The Second Deputy Chair: Copies are being made of the other amendments. It might be worthwhile if we had some discussion on this amendment. The honourable member for Oshawa.
Mr Breaugh: I am always glad to assist the chair, as all members are.
I might be a little more amenable to this amendment and whatever else might come if somebody had given me notice of what was going to be proposed this evening. I do not mean to be punitive because somebody forgot to tell me what words he would put in front of us tonight, but I am reluctant to take on something on the spur of the moment that I am aware is sensitive and could cause a problem.
It would be my view and that of my party that we have no argument with police forces and police officers saying: “There are some things that cannot be a matter of public information. There are some matters where it is simply not suitable.” It is true you can make them subject to a freedom of information act, but what will happen in a practical sense, for example, is that a police officer in the course of an investigation may choose to keep his or her own records -- that is the way it is now; nobody can ever see those except perhaps a superior officer and they may at some point be used in either a criminal investigation or the laying of charges or a court case -- but by and large, they are considered to be private notes.
I am intrigued by the notion -- I was not able to sit through the committee process on this, but did try to keep up on it -- that once again the head of the police force, which is the other amendment that will come forward later, will be the one who makes the decision, at least the initial one, on whether something will be released. To tell the truth, I am not attracted to that notion. I know a number of police chiefs who are struggling with the notion that this act should apply to them in any sense at all. I disagree with that. I believe that it has to. It is not reasonable to say that police forces can conduct everything they do in private. This is a public police force, not a secret police force. I do not know of a police officer in the nation who wants it to be a secret police.
What I am a little concerned about is the practical problem, which I have seen operational in a number of other areas. If you make laws which say that everything you write down about somebody could become a public document -- I have seen what happens to that -- it really means, that the written document never gets made. It gets said. It gets transferred from one agency to another. It gets talked about a lot. But all they have to do is not be dumb enough to write it down some place. Of all the things I know about police officers in this province, it is that they are not dumb. If we write a law which says, “Whatever you write down, whatever you put in a notebook or in a file, will be subject to freedom of information,” I know what will happen to all that information. It will never appear in writing. It will get transferred verbally. People will talk to one another on the telephone.
Some will make the argument which I would not care to make, that information known to a police officer has to be brought forward. I do not think it takes a great deal of intelligence to suggest that that is going to be very, very difficult for people to bring forward. I do not think it will happen in fact. I am not anxious to put on to police officers and police forces and the chief of police things which are not practical. Of all the things that a freedom of information act could do that would be nuts, it would be to say that a police officer cannot gather information, that police forces cannot exchange information and that the public has the right to every single scrap of information. I do not believe that for a minute. I do not believe the member for Carleton intends that to happen.
I am aware what is happening in some other jurisdictions where, to tell the truth, it makes no sense to me and I am not quite sure how it ever got to the state where an act of law which seemed eminently sensible to the legislators at the moment was subsequently turned against somebody else that we thought probably did not need protection. We never contemplated that the information a police officer gathers during the course of an investigation in its rawest form is meant to be publicly documented. We operate, at least in the jurisdictions that I am aware of, with several sorting processes on the way through.
If officers are gathering street gossip, which is for many police officers a mainstay, they know they cannot go to court with gossip off the street; they have to gather information which is a little more solid than that. They have to gather things which eventually become evidence in a court, but without question it is the talk on the street that pointed them in the right direction and eventually got them the evidence they needed to get to court.
A lot of that information is never used because people do not swear to testimony when they are talking to somebody in a poolroom that this is the honest truth, and that is the reason why a police officer does not like to go into a courtroom with something that says, “I overheard a conversation in a pool hall which said this and we just believed that to be true and we went out and arrested somebody.” An officer who would do that would be rather dumb indeed. They know that may be the initial source of their information, but they have to do a lot of evidence-gathering before they get to a courtroom with it.
Perhaps I have not put the case for the member for Carleton’s amendments very well tonight. If I had had more notice that the amendment was going to be proposed, I would have been a little kinder to him. But I do not agree with that concept. I would not agree that we ought to separate.
To be fair to him, I want to put the other side of the argument, because I think it does need to be put. If it turns out that the separation of information from a police commission from information that might be gathered by a police force -- if that turns out to be the total way that it is done, in that simplistic form, I am going to be most unhappy. Frankly, I would see that to be a police commission operating in total contravention to the spirit of what is proposed in this act.
I accept the notion that a police chief is probably not the one that I would want to go to if I wanted to get written information from an officer on his force. I would like to have that separated a little bit. So I am attracted to the notion that it would be the police commission which would hear my appeal for information and that someone other than the officer who gathered the information, or his or her chief, would be the person who decided that appeal. What is being proposed in this particular amendment, to be as polite as I can, is not the most appropriate way to go. I do not think we can support it.
Hon Mr Elston: Again, as the member for Carleton and others who were in the committee know, we did have a very good presentation by the chiefs of police. There was a position put forward wherein they wished to have the separation from the police commission, but it does speak to the issue of how far one determines the police commission should be removed from operations of the force. I know that, in terms of policy and otherwise, there is a fine line from which the commissioners do not want to depart on a day-to-day basis, in telling people how to ticket automobiles, or how they go about interviewing witnesses on the street or otherwise. In many ways the commission is in place because they are the public representatives in viewing what actually goes on in the community in policing. It provides the police force with general, overall direction.
In the case of this particular provision, a separation which is provided for the purposes of release of information would be seen, by time at least, to be an indication in some way that the commission was to relinquish at least some of its overall public mandate. The argument was put quite well. The member for Carleton was in the committee and heard the presentation, as I did. It was put in a manner which showed some of the balance that goes into the discussions that police officers have to undertake in the public interest to collect information. They want to be absolutely sure that their investigations are not going to be frustrated, just as the member for Carleton had indicated in his remarks, by somebody inappropriately releasing information about who was being interviewed.
One might well understand the concern of the force when there is a new regime coming into place that talks about the public’s right to know certain information about the way an institution in a municipality carries on its operations.
I believe in the commission and the commission’s ability to make sound judgements. One has to make a decision at some point along the line of how much you want to limit the jurisdiction of a commission. One has to know how far you can go in making sure that they have the responsibility to carry out the mandate in the fullest sense. By moving into an area, the amendment moves us into an area where, in one way or another, you are saying indirectly that you do not believe the commission manages the public interest in the best fashion possible. That is a judgement which we have to make. I know it is a very fine line.
It is the same type of discussion that we had during the discussions in committee of the whole on Bill 84. There is a balance. There is a line and at one point or another, we have to make judgements. With the support of people with whom we consulted at the Ministry of the Solicitor General, we have concluded that this separation, under this particular act, is not required.
If it is seen, however, that there is a need for genuine assistance or somehow a delegation of authority by the head to the police chief, it can occur. It is permissive, under our statute. This statute, which is a Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, is certainly parallel to the provincial act which governs the operation of release of information in the provincial context. I say it is parallel because, as members well know, we have had to change some of the terms so that the act applies to municipalities, to the boards and commissions and otherwise. Because their structures are not identical to the provincial one, we have gone to this separate statute.
This, I think, is an important issue which should be discussed, but overall I agree with my colleague the member for Oshawa and with the advice we have received from the Ministry of the Solicitor General. We will be voting against the amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Speaking to the amendment, the honourable member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: I say to the member for Oshawa that I shared these amendments with his colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold, who sat on the committee some weeks ago. I had assumed that he might have passed them along to him.
The amendment I put forward after hearing police forces and police commissioners talk about it was an amendment that is there not only for reasons of confidentiality of investigations, but it is a matter of practicality. Many of the chairmen of our police commissions and police boards across the province of Ontario are not full-time commissioners. It depends on the size of the force. I would imagine, in the city of Toronto where you have a police force which is in excess in size of the Ontario Provincial Police and is the largest police force in the province of Ontario, that you do have a full-time commissioner.
I felt a genuine reluctance on the part of the police commission to want to dig into the investigation files of people who are being charged, of people who are involved in the criminal element of our society. An experience in some jurisdictions shows that one of the largest users of the freedom of information and privacy provision are those people who are involved in crime in those jurisdictions. In the United States, business is the largest user of freedom of information and privacy, and the second is the criminal element. So we can expect, when we extend this to some 40 or 50 municipal police forces, that there is going to be a significant number of requests by individuals for information about themselves. I think that will happen.
Under this bill, depending on whether or not a subsequent amendment which I am placing in front of this committee is accepted, there is not only a requirement that the police produce or not produce a document, but that they sever from that document information which may not be damaging in the eyes of the individuals involved. So who makes that decision? Do you have a commissioner or some bureaucrat sitting in a police commission’s office, trying to make decisions about investigative reports as to whether they should be released or not released?
I find the attitude of this Solicitor General and his trust in our police force almost contemptible. It is exhibited in his lack of confidence in leaving this information within our police forces, but wanting to give it to another level of bureaucracy which does not want the information -- this attack again tonight on our police forces across this province, by indicating their lack of trust in the chiefs to do this job; notwithstanding that, the police chief does not make the final decision.
If I am not satisfied that the police chief has made the proper decision in releasing information, the freedom of information commissioner can go in and look at those files. That is what this act is all about, the idea that you can check or question what the police are giving or not giving to you, so their information practices will become, as they become better acquainted with Bill 49, more regularized and that will happen.
I find it appalling that, when the police come forward -- and some of the police commissions come forward with reasonable requests for practicality of dealing with this -- that the government cannot even give them one little indication of trust in terms of dealing with criminal investigation reports. I think the public of Ontario have a hell of a lot more trust in the police than this government does.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member for Carleton has certainly made his point. Is there any further discussion on the proposed amendment? Seeing none, the honourable member has proposed an amendment to Bill 49.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
Les articles 1 et 2 sont adoptés.
The Second Deputy Chair: We have supplied the appropriate number of copies of amendments to those people who require them in chambers. Continuing then with the bill, it would appear there are no further amendments or discussions on any section up to clause 3(3)(b).
Casting my eyes about the chamber, giving full opportunity for discussion, seeing none, we have a proposed amendment to section 3, an addition of clause 3(3)(c).
Mr Sterling: That amendment was subsequent to the other amendment basically and therefore has no relevance. I wanted the police chief to be the head dealing with their information for a police force, but that has been rejected by the government and the Solicitor General.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member has withdrawn the proposed amendment.
Section 3 agreed to.
L’article 3 est adopté.
The Second Deputy Chair: Shall subsection 4(1) carry’? Carried.
Mr Sterling moves that subsection 4(2) of the bill be amended by striking out “one of the exemptions” in the last line, and adding thereto the following:
“Any one of the exemptions save and except subsection 8(1), clauses (d), (e), (f) and (g), and section 13.”
Just before we get into a discussion, might I personally thank Hansard for being so responsive to myself in the chair and acknowledging those members through the chair when I do so.
Mr Sterling: This act is going to be enforced by a number of municipal police forces across the province. The section that I am referring to here deals with severing records. Subsection 4(2) now reads, “Where an institution receives a request for access to a record...that contains information that falls within one of the exemptions under sections 6 to 15, the head shall disclose as much of the record as can reasonably be severed without disclosing the information that falls under one of the exemptions.”
There were representations made to the committee by municipal police forces. They indicated that they thought there was a significant problem in severing certain kinds of documents. They wanted to be exempt from having to sever documents which they considered most sensitive. They would include documents, for instance, that would disclose the identity of a confidential source of information in respect of a law enforcement matter or disclosure information furnished only by the confidential source. They wanted to exclude the obligation of severing a document which could be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of a law enforcement officer or any other person. They wanted the right to exclude the obligation to sever a document which could deprive a person of the right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication. They wanted the same right with regard to a document which might interfere with the gathering of or reveal law enforcement intelligence information respecting organizations or persons. They also did not want to have to sever a document under section 13 where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to seriously threaten the safety or health of an individual.
I forget how many municipal police forces we have in the province, but the problem that they saw with the widening of the freedom of information act to many police forces was that, in effect, the criminal element could make the same request to various municipal police forces across the province, and the OPP as well, and that there is no guarantee that one police force would know what the other was doing with regard to what is often commonly shared information. You could have, in the case of municipal police force A, a severing process which may not be identical to the severing processes of B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. It has been shown, in hearings in the United States, that informers have actually been discovered as a result of documents which have been revealed and which were thought to have been laundered, cleaned up, severed or whatever, and those people have been killed. That was given to a senatorial congressional committee, I believe, at one time.
The concern that the police have, of course, is always with their sources of information. If those sources of information are not protected properly, and if in fact the name of an informer who has supplied information gets out, then not only has that source dried up but other sources are dried up as well. This argument has been put forward before with regard to the generic legislation. It dealt with the OPP and this Legislature saw fit to include these sections when dealing with the OPP. I buy that, but I also say that there is a difference in that the OPP are a more sophisticated police force, they have more resources to sever these records. Therefore, I am putting forward this amendment on behalf of the police forces and would suggest that it is a reasonable suggestion to the government.
Mr Breaugh: I think this particular discussion does point out one of the problems. Dealing with the matter in committee is perhaps more suited to this discussion than dealing with it here in committee of the whole House. I doubt that very many of the members in the chamber understood what the member for Carleton was talking about, let alone anybody who might be following the proceedings at home, because it is tough, very difficult to pick these items out of context and have a sensible discussion about them. I recognize that the member is certainly doing what is provided for in the standing orders when the government moves it back into committee of the whole House. We can in fact find ourselves doing all over again what has just been done in committee.
The argument is a difficult one, and I think it cuts two ways. I am not prepared to support the amendment for the simple reason that if there is a growing practice for police forces across Ontario to deal with matters of inquiries in different ways, we are all in deep trouble. That indeed has been the argument put forward by the member for Carleton, that the practical experience elsewhere has been that if you cannot get the information from one police force, ask some other force and then another one until you find one that is stupid enough to release that information. Then it does not matter where you got the information, you can use it.
I do not accept that argument. I have a little more faith perhaps in the police forces around Ontario than he is demonstrating. I think they will very quickly have a common technique for divulging information. I think they know how to pick up the telephone and talk to one another. I think they can appreciate what is sensitive information and what is not, what can be revealed and what cannot, and I believe that it will not take very long until there is a common set of practices throughout Ontario. As a matter of fact, I would predict that the practical experience in Ontario will cut directly in the opposite direction. I think getting information out of police forces in Ontario is going to be very difficult. I would bet that in the next round of discussions about how this concept should apply to municipal government the more common practice in the discussion in the chamber will be to say that there is no information coming from police forces at all.
I appreciate that the argument and the nuance the member for Carleton is trying to put on this amendment are not to be sloughed off. There is validity in his argument, but it is certainly an uphill fight in this chamber this evening, with the private conversations that are going around. It would have been dealt with more appropriately, in my view, in a committee room where people had had the opportunity to hear all of the testimony and participate in that whole discussion on a day-to-day basis. I am not prepared to support the amendment.
Hon Mr Elston: To the greatest extent possible, when we drafted this bill -- because the original mandate to extend the freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation to the municipalities really fell to the original act that was passed -- we tried to stay, as closely as possible, consistent with that original act.
This particular amendment which the member for Carleton views to be necessary would actually make it inconsistent with the requirements now placed on the Ontario Provincial Police. The amendment, as put, was actually considered in the provincial Legislature when we were considering the original act, as the member has rightly identified, and at that time it was decided to reject that particular provision.
We should note for the record as well that in the Quebec forum the Quebec Provincial Police are also required to sever, as are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the federal scheme of things. Each of those jurisdictions has wrestled with, as we are wrestling now, the same issue that we dealt with in 1987 and which we are again looking at this evening. We decided that we should require the best possible disclosure of information and give the people the right to sever the information which would cause harm.
There is no question that the people who appeared in front of us, basically the chiefs of police -- there were no commissioners represented in our hearings, but the chiefs of police were represented -- indicated, with some material which actually came out of congressional hearings, I think, in the late 1970s, that there had been some problems in their jurisdictions where the discovery of an informant resulted in death.
The relevance of that material to our discussions, to the extent that their legislation looks anything like ours, and I am not sure that it does, merely brought us to weigh the two sides of the issue and find out whether or not the severance under the exemptions provided, sections 6 through 15, was sufficient to cover off any of the public interest and the public interest of not having informants discovered.
For my purposes, on balance, I am content to leave this act consistent with the requirements on the Ontario Provincial Police. Any of the other 119 forces, as I understand, in the province should also have a duty to make available as much as possible the information without sacrificing all the important functions they are involved in, such as law enforcement, investigation of complaints and otherwise. I think that our current act should be left unamended in this particular situation.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of the proposed amendment please say
All those against please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 4 agreed to.
L’article 4 est adopté.
Sections 5 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
Les articles 5 a 44, inclusivement, sont adoptés.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Sterling moves that clause 45(1)(a) of the bill be amended by striking out “in excess of two hours” in the last line.
Mr Sterling: Under this act, there are sections, such as section 45, dealing with charges or fees that a municipality may charge someone who wants access to a record. I received a copy of a letter which I presume the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler) received, but he has chosen not to introduce an amendment on the part of the city of Nepean. So I have taken on that task on behalf of the city, because he has refused to come to the Legislature and put forward their concerns. The city of Nepean writes as follows:
“The city of Nepean equally shares the province’s concern for access to information and protection of individual privacy. The city supports the province’s initiative in establishing legislation which will ensure the public’s right of access to information as well as the protection of personal information. Furthermore, the city supports the process for an independent review of decisions regarding access to the records. The city has always been forthcoming with information which affects the municipality’s citizens. The access to information has been legislated as a right of the ratepayers via the Municipal Act for over 100 years.
“Having stated the city’s support for the proposed legislation, it is critical that in a time of fiscal restraint, reduction in provincial transfer payments, limited areas available to municipalities for raising funds, it follows that municipalities should be given the latitude to establish associated fees.
“It has been mentioned by numerous provincial officials at various seminars on FOI that municipal regulations will be similar to regulations which govern the province’s FOI legislation. The city of Nepean for some time has adopted a user-pay philosophy which is in conflict with the present provincial FOI regulations. Two examples of this conflict are cited: for manually searching for a record, after two hours have been spent normally searching, $6 for each 15 minutes spent by any person; for preparing a record for disclosure including severing a part of the record under subsection 10(2) of the act, $6 for each 15 minutes spent by any person.
“In a spirit of co-operation, the city of Nepean looks forward to the enactment of the proposed legislation. However, the province must allow municipalities to recover reasonable costs in order not to overburden an already critical financial situation.”
What I am saying is that notwithstanding that in our bill, Bill 34, the freedom of information act for Ontario, we have a clause very similar to this -- that is, we say that a citizen will only be charged for a search after two hours have elapsed to locate that record -- I feel that if we are going to foist this new law upon our municipalities, it should be their political decision as to whether they are going to charge and how much they are going to charge. They should make those decisions if in fact they are going to have to provide that service.
I would expect that most of them would give out information in a manner which would not cost the citizens of their municipalities excessive amounts of money, but I do think that when the government is foisting a law upon the municipalities, it should give them the opportunity to put into place their own schedule of charges and we should not foist upon them that they have to give out additional free services without giving them money in order to put this system in place. I have not heard that this provincial government is giving our municipalities, boards, commissions, school boards, etc. money to put this in place. That is the import of this particular amendment.
Mr Breaugh: No, we will not support the amendment. I believe the honourable member is washing the hog tonight with a very stiff brush.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have yet to hear that terminology in the chair, but I am sure it will be forthcoming.
Hon Mr Elston: I will not be supporting the provision. Basically, the two-hour exemption time is designed to allow people to have a reasonable access to the records without having somebody using this as a revenue generating issue. I know that was not really what was meant by the letter, although it read that way to a certain extent.
What we are trying to do here is ensure that there is consistency throughout the province and that we have one particular amount of time available for a person, particularly a person looking for just a small amount of information, to go in and know that he is not going to be charged right from the word go and in some ways deterred from picking up the information he is looking for by this charge being generated.
We discussed this around the province with the people, and to a large extent I think it was seen to be meritorious to actually implement the provisions that were in place for the province, the two-hour exemption for the first search efforts and then implement a charge fee after that, photocopying costs and other things similar in cost to the provincial circumstances. That being the case, we will not be supporting the amendment.
Mr Sterling: I would just like to ask the minister whether he will be giving any money to either the boards of education or the municipalities for the very substantial costs that some municipalities are going to incur in implementing this legislation. Is he going to be transferring any money specifically for this purpose?
Hon Mr Elston: It is a matter of public record about the generosity of the Treasurer with respect to the most recent transfer payments made to the municipalities.
When we were talking about this initiative, and actually received a number of pieces of correspondence from individual municipalities and others, it was interesting to note that most were saying, “We, as a municipality,” -- just as Nepean did -- “did this anyway and we provided the information free before and we will continue to do so.” The fact that we have made more formal what is happening and that progressive towns and cities like Nepean and other places who wrote to our attention, I think, would not seem to indicate that if they are already doing it, there would be any reason for a special allocation. But perhaps the member for Carleton would like at some stage to bring to the attention of our most generous Treasurer and the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney) other concerns.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of the proposed amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 45 agreed to.
L’article 45 est adopté.
Sections 46 to 57, inclusive, agreed to.
Les articles 46 a 57, inclusivement, sont adoptés.
Bill ordered to be reported.
Le projet de loi devra faire l’objet d’un rapport.
MUNICIPAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 52, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Enactment of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection and Privacy Act, 1989.
The Chair: At this point, I would like to list all proposed amendments. I have been told that we have not received any amendments. Just discussion, I presume. Correct? General discussion on the bill. The member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: I put this bill in committee of the whole House with Bill 49 because they are twinned together, but I do not believe there are any amendments being put forward by any parties.
The Chair: Then you just want the bill to be reported. Agreed.
Bill ordered to be reported.
The Chair: It is obviously the spirit of Christmas.
COMMERCIAL CONCENTRATION TAX ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 46, An Act to establish a Commercial Concentration Tax.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, with your permission I would like to move to the front and ask my officials to join me.
The Chair: Please go ahead. As we are settling in. are there any questions, comments. proposed amendments to any section, and if so, to which ones? I just want a list right now.
Ms Bryden: I would like to make the point that we fully dealt with all the amendments that have been tabled by all parties when this bill was in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. It seems to me that it was a mistake to refer this bill back to the committee of the whole House when it was completed in that committee, and I think the opportunity should not be given to any party to bring more amendments after that stage had been reached.
It was the Liberal majority that moved this bill back into committee of the whole. I do not know whether they had more amendments up their sleeve that they wanted to bring, but they had already adopted 18 of their amendments and had defeated about four of the Progressive Conservative amendments. Our party had not put up any amendments because we felt this bill was so badly flawed that it should be just fully rejected as one of the worst taxes that has ever been imposed on the residents of Toronto and shows that the government does not believe in a fair tax system. It just believes in tax grabs, which are completely unthought through, which have not been looked at adequately as to the implications on the economy or on many important things like the business improvement districts and municipal parking lots, where the rates will just go up to tremendous levels.
The implications of the bill are such that it certainly should be sent right back, and they should look for other sources of revenue if they want to have revenue for building up the infrastructure and the transportation system. There is no guarantee that this bill will put one more penny into either the infrastructure or the transportation system, because it is not an earmarked tax. It is simply giving the Treasurer $135 million, minimum, with an increasing amount every year, which he can put through the budget and get appropriations that will use it for whatever he wants.
Therefore, I think it is a bill that we should decide that we completed it in committee. The government insisted on putting it through as it wished in the committee. Let’s get on with other business which we have not completed rather than starting from scratch again on this bill through the mistake of sending this back to committee of the whole.
Mrs Marland: Actually, it is my understanding that we do have some amendments. I apologize for the fact that you do not have them at the table. I have sent for those amendments. They may not arrive in time.
The Chair: Do you have them with you?
Mrs Marland: No, I do not have them. I was not --
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, I have no objection if the members of the opposition, particularly my critic from across the floor, want to move amendments. But she will have to consult with her colleague to her right to see if she will agree.
Mrs Marland: I guess I am complimented by the Minister of Revenue that I am now his critic. I think he just feels that way. I am actually not the critic for Revenue. However, I am concerned enough about Bill 46 that I will just in the interim make some comments on it and hope that by the time I have made them, the amendments will arrive.
The Chair: Your comments are welcome, but please, in the meantime, I presume somebody has gone to find those proposed amendments.
Mrs Marland: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you. The member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms Bryden: I do not think that we will consent. I know we will not consent to proceeding back to section 1 with this bill in considering amendments that were not before us when the bill was in committee, because the bill was completed in committee and it was to be reported out. The fact that it came back to the committee of the whole, as I say, should not have been done, and I do not think we should waste the time of the members of the House starting afresh on this bill. I am sure the member for Mississauga South knows that the amendments will not be passed, because in the past we have seen absolutely no changes in the bill from the government side. I think this is a waste of the House’s time.
The Chair: May I give my response to that? Any member has a right to send this back to committee of the whole, for one thing. It was decreed, I presume in committee, that it be sent to committee of the whole. That seems to be correct. Hence, it is here.
Now, we have a procedure in committee of the whole. We start with section 1 and we work our way down, and if members want to oppose or vote against it, I am sorry, but I have a procedure to follow based on the standing orders. I do not have much of a choice with this.
Mr Philip: I wonder if I could ask your counsel on this while we are waiting for the amendments from the Conservatives. Would it be possible then for us to move an amendment to the title of the bill and simply call it “the dump on the greater Metropolitan Toronto taxpayer” bill instead of the present title of the bill?
Hon Mr Mancini: As usual, the member has been very intelligent with his comments.
The Chair: You may want to propose that at section 23.
Mr Philip: I will anxiously await section 23 then. I think I have made my point.
The Chair: After we do sections 1 to 22, of course.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I appreciate the ruling that you just made. I think that if our procedures were such that the member for Beaches-Woodbine just suggested, then the placement of any amendments in committee of the whole House would be an exercise in futility, because certainly we in the opposition know very well where any of these amendments are going, including the ones that the member for Beaches-Woodbine placed herself this afternoon on another bill, Bill 119.
We have no question in our minds where the amendments will go with a 94-seat, arrogant, Liberal government, but nevertheless we have a duty on behalf of the people we represent to try to get this legislation amended to be realistic and represent the wishes of the people in Ontario. I appreciate very much your adhering to the rules of the House. Thank you.
Mr Sterling: I think one of the reasons we have rules of the House which allow bills after they are in committees to come back to the Legislature is to give other members of the Legislature an opportunity to question the minister with regard to what he is trying to do with a piece of legislation and to put forward amendments, because there are many committees that sit at various times in this Legislature and we do not have an opportunity to sit in all of them.
I have a question of the minister with regard to this. I did have an opportunity to sit in committee one day with regard to Bill 46, the Commercial Concentration Tax Act. The thing that struck me was that I was told, either in the committee or -- I believe I heard Mr Lettner or one of the individuals from the Ministry of Revenue indicate that there were going to be 870 -- no, it was the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler). He is here today now. I am glad to see he is here when we are dealing with the greater Toronto area, but when we were dealing with the city of Nepean, he was absent. Notwithstanding that, I want to ask the minister how this tax is to hit 870 various properties in the greater Toronto area. I think that was the approximate number. Is that correct?
Hon Mr Mancini: First of all, I do not think it is appropriate for members to question why members of one party or another were present or not present. I can say to all members of this House that my parliamentary assistant serves the Ministry of Revenue and his constituents in a very fine manner, and he is always available when he is needed. I do not think the comments from the member across the floor were adequate or were, in fact -- actually, I am surprised that a gentleman like himself would make such comments.
We have approximately anywhere from 800 to 1,000 properties that are going to be assessed, I believe, under the commercial concentration tax.
Mr Sterling: I am interested in this in that one of the submissions that I heard in front of the committee when I was there was by a number of developers. They were very interested in finding out how the definitions of the statute were going to be put in place, because they made it quite clear to the committee that developers were going to make their plans with regard to future developments on the basis of trying to get around this law. In other words, as I understand the law now, if I own a property that has 199,999 square feet, I believe it is, I am not taxed under this tax, but if I have a property which has one square foot more, then I am taxed that way. I heard the developers talking about how they were going to avoid this by either splitting their property -- by various legal techniques. Does the minister really believe that he can make this tax stick?
Hon Mr Mancini: The honourable member opposite is correct, anything under 200,000 square feet is, in fact, not taxed. If you are at 199,999, you pay zero; if you are at 200,001, you pay $1. I highly doubt that people in business would go to the extent that the honourable member has suggested to avoid $1 in tax.
Mr Sterling: Avoiding $200,000 in tax. I guess the other thing I would ask the minister is that no doubt he has had some legal opinion as to the constitutionality of this particular section. I would like to hear his remarks on that, because our Constitution now provides that you have to be fair to various people who are dealing with laws of Ontario.
Hon Mrs Caplan: It is very fair.
Mr Sterling: The Minister of Health says it is very fair. I would like to ask the Minister of Revenue, and maybe the Minister of Health does not agree, but I do not see that it is eminently fair that if I am part of a property which has 200,000 square feet and I am in a shopping plaza or whatever and I have a store with 10,000 square feet and the fellow who is in the same business across the road happens to be in an overall conglomerate which has only 100,000 square feet in that shopping centre, I am obviously being put at a disadvantage in that I am having to pay out $10,000 a year more in tax.
Under our Constitution it says that we have to treat people equally and fairly in what we do and when we make laws. I would like to know whether or not the minister has a legal opinion as to the constitutionality of Bill 46 and how he justifies the fact that he is taxing one business one way and across the street he could be taxing the same kind of business in very similar circumstances in another way.
Hon Mr Mancini: I do not believe there are any problems with the constitutionality of this particular piece of legislation, but I am sure that the honourable member could probably find one lawyer in the province who would think so. Be that as it may, that does not necessarily make the legislation unconstitutional.
I want to address a specific point that the honourable member made. He said that if different stores were in a certain particular mall, smaller stores in the mall would be exempt -- I believe that is how he put it -- from the tax, and the bigger stores would not be. It is the mall owner that is taxed. If the mall itself is over 200,000 square feet -- I believe that is correct -- then the mall owner is the one who is sent the bill and not the individual store operators who happen to be in the mall.
The question of constitutionality, just to get back to that for a second, is a question that is, I guess, raised on every point of law today. Whether or not it is valid, I have received legal advice and we believe that the matter is in fact in order and we are going to proceed.
We have in fact tried to inform the general community of what we are doing. I understand that in the near future we will be having some open houses and we will be meeting with the people who are being assessed in groups or individually, if that need be the case, and we want to render all service possible to the owners of these properties so that they will in fact know how to handle this piece of legislation and know how to respond when they receive their assessments.
There will also be a provision for appeals. The honourable member, I think, will be happy with that. People will be able to appeal. We have taken into consideration research and development and individual firms and corporations that in fact engage in legitimate research and development. That particular portion of the building being used for research and development will be exempt. We have added a number of other important clarifications to the bill. We did that through the committee stage, which I found to be quite helpful. So I think we have before us at this time a pretty fair piece of legislation. It is, in fact, going to serve the people of the greater Toronto area very well.
Mr Chairman, with your permission, I am not sure that my colleague has her amendments ready, but if she does, I can always give this information to the House later. If she does not, I can give this information to the House now. I am at your disposal.
The Chair: The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: I think I will just wait.
Mr Sterling: I would like to get back to the minister and get some answers, because he is not answering my questions. He is trying to confuse the situation, of course, as we exhibited yesterday in this Legislature when he was asked about Bill 47. Has he got a constitutional opinion on this bill?
Hon Mr Mancini: I believe I answered that question two or three times. The answer was yes. In our view, the bill is constitutional.
Mr Sterling: Would he share that opinion with us so that I can have an opportunity to look at it, because I understand that at this very present time there are certain forces within this city that are already moving to the courts to challenge this legislation, or are planning to.
Mr Laughren: Name names.
Hon Mr Mancini: I have forgotten the member’s question. My friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) wants me to name names. Whose name do you want me to name?
Mr Laughren: I want him to name names.
Hon Mr Mancini: Okay. I think you should name some names then. The bill is constitutional.
The Chair: May I suggest to members to address all their remarks through the Speaker, third person, singular.
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, through you, I would like to ask the minister, will he give me the legal opinion that he has that this meets the challenges that may be placed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the country? I do not think we should pass laws here where there seems to be an obvious unfairness when dealing with one property owner versus another property owner. If you are going to implement a tax, then you should make the choice that you are going to collect a certain amount of money and then you should tax all those people within that class of property in a fair and equal manner. That is not what this law does. Therefore, I would like to see what the minister’s constitutional opinion says.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, I will address you, even though I prefer to look at my friend. I would say to him that we discuss all these bills within the ministry before we bring them to the House and we discuss whether or not they are constitutional. I put that question to the director of my legal services branch, and the answer was, “Yes, in our view the bill is constitutional.” I am sure there must have been some discussion within the Ministry of the Attorney General along the same lines. We are very confident that the bill is constitutional.
My friend the member for Nickel Belt is sending me some threatening notes, and all I have done this evening is try to answer each and every one of his questions. We are very confident that we can proceed and move forward with this bill. We would like to deal with the amendments of the honourable member, if she has them, and proceed.
Mr Sterling: Will the minister table the legal opinion that says that this bill meets a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our Constitution? That is my question to the minister.
Hon Mr Mancini: Just in case I did not make myself clear, all legal aspects of our bills within the Ministry of Revenue are checked as a matter of routine business by ministry counsel, plus there is a doublecheck by the staff of the Attorney General’s office, plus legislative counsel and court actions will be defended if any are taken.
That is the best advice I can give the honourable member at this time.
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I think that if you check Hansard, you will see that I asked whether or not there was a legal opinion, and the answer that I thought I heard the minister say was that there was a legal opinion. I am asking him whether or not he will table that in the Legislature.
Mr Daigeler: He just gave it to you.
Mr Sterling: I think that deserves a yes or no answer.
Hon Mrs Caplan: He read it into the record. I heard him.
Mr Sterling: I am sorry, I did not hear him.
The Chair: Fair enough. Any member may choose not to respond if he does not want to respond. I have no power to force him to respond.
Mr Sterling: What kind of arrogance do we have in this government? I ask a simple question. Yes or no?
Hon Mr Mancini: In order to prevent my friend across the floor from getting too carried away, if he will check Hansard, he will see that I have answered his question on three separate occasions. You sitting in your chair, Mr Chairman, heard those answers, I am sure, and all the other members in the House heard the answers. So if the honourable member wants to give his colleague more time to get her amendments ready, I am willing to discuss other parts of the bill that concern him or his particular party. Frankly, asking the same question, when he has had an answer to it, does not look well on my friend.
Mr Sterling: I am sorry, I did not hear him. My hearing is bad. I did not hear him, but the question is, will he table the legal opinion as to the constitutionality of Bill 46? I am sorry I did not hear him. My hearing is bad. I would like to hear it again.
Hon Mr Mancini: All legal aspects of all of our bills are checked as a matter of routine business by our ministry counsel, plus double-checked by staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General, plus legislative counsel, and court actions will be defended in the usual way if any are taken. That is the specific answer to the member’s question. As a lawyer, he should have had that figured out by now.
Mr Sterling: I find it amusingly silly that the Minister of Revenue will not answer a simple, direct question. Will he table the legal opinion as to the constitutionality of this bill?
Mr Laughren: Sounds reasonable.
Mr Sterling: It sounds reasonable, not only to members of my caucus but to the member for Nickel Belt. If it sounds reasonable to him, it has to be reasonable.
Do members know how silly this is? It is that he has a very good reason for saying no to me because he has every right, as a minister of the crown, to say no. “That is a solicitor-client privilege that I have and therefore you are not entitled to that.” That is what he should have said about 15 minutes ago.
Hon Mr Mancini: I have never hired the member opposite to be my legal counsel. I have much better legal counsel who serve me every day.
The Chair: Who would want to be the next person to speak? The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: Thank you. Was the minister trying to raise a point of order?
Mr Laughren: These night sittings are a great idea.
Mrs Marland: I think the problem with night sittings is that everybody gets a little silly and they do not take the matters before us seriously. The questions that my colleague the member for Carleton was asking were serious questions and they deserved a serious answer from the Minister of Revenue.
The Progressive Conservative amendments, in fact, number two and we are having copies of those made now. My friend and colleague the member for Markham (Mr Cousens), who dealt with these motions in committee, will be helping us to place them and to speak to them as we go through the bill.
However, before we start to go through the bill, I want to read into the record something I was not able to read into the record at second reading. At second reading I spoke at length against this Bill 46, which establishes the commercial concentration tax. In layman’s language it means that those people who live and try to do work and business in the greater Toronto area are being penalized once more. If they are tenants or owners of commercial space in excess of 200,000 square feet, this bill will penalize them.
In the initial year of the bill, it penalizes them $1 per square foot. We have no idea how much that penalty will be in subsequent years. We do know, however, that the 200,000 square feet is an arbitrary figure. We do not know why it was established at 200,000 square feet. We do not know why this Liberal government is opposed to helping the economic growth in the greater Toronto area thrive, how the Liberal government can have the blinkers that it has on to the degree that it does not recognize that the economic growth in this province is driven by the thrust of the success of business and commerce in the greater Toronto area, and this government continues to penalize people who do live and work and do business in the greater Toronto area.
Another example would be the legislation that increased the fee for personal driving licenses and motor vehicle driving permits. It is ironic that this government, which continues to tax, tax, tax, cannot see that ultimately what it is doing is strangling business and commerce in the greater Toronto area.
This is a letter from Mayor Hazel McCallion, dated 11 October 1989. She copied all the members of the provincial Parliament in the city of Mississauga, and I want to read this letter into the record.
“I am writing further to the announcement in the 1989 provincial budget of a levy to be instituted upon high-density commercial development within the greater Toronto area; the levy being designed to reflect the strategy that ‘those who benefit significantly and directly from the provision of new public infrastructure will be required to make a greater contribution to the costs of that infrastructure.’
“There is a critical need for infrastructure development and improvement within the greater Toronto area and we wish to ensure that additional funding raised through this levy is utilized for that purpose. The benefits of the additional revenue to be raised by this levy are recognized, despite the levy representing an incursion into the traditional municipal revenue field of property taxation. The original announcement of the levy within the provincial budget indicated that exemptions to the levy were to be granted to ‘parallel exemptions defined in the Assessment Act and associated private acts.’
“With the introduction of Bill 46” --
The Chair: Point of order?
Mrs Sullivan: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I have been listening with great interest to the remarks from the member for Mississauga South, and under the standing orders, I understand that we are being indulgent in waiting for amendments, although in my own view, too indulgent. But we are being indulgent. But I wonder if we could clarify whether the member is speaking to amendments, whether she is speaking to section 1 of the bill -- in fact, what indeed is she doing?
The Chair: That is not a point of order. I do have the amendments now, but if you want to continue your comments, go ahead.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am sorry the member for Halton Centre does not understand the rules of order, which permit me to make opening comments on this bill. That is purely what I am doing.
“With the introduction of Bill 46,” as I continue to read the letter from Mayor Hazel McCallion, “in the Ontario Legislature, which would require the payment of the commercial concentration tax on commercial parking lots operated by a municipality or local board, and as this represents a departure from the long-established principle that property owned by a municipality and used for its purposes is exempt from taxation at the provincial level, and results in an unfair tax burden on municipalities, our council has passed resolution 473-89 at its meeting of Tuesday 10 October 1989.
“Resolution 473-89 cites that the council of the corporation of Mississauga opposes the enactment of section 43 of Bill 46, An Act to establish a Commercial Concentration Tax, which imposes the tax on commercial parking lots operated by a municipality or local board, and requests that funds raised through the commercial concentration tax be set aside in a special fund for use in financing additional transportation infrastructure improvements in the greater Toronto area.
“I have also written to the attention of the Honourable Robert F. Nixon, Deputy Premier, Treasurer of Ontario and Minister of Economics, and the Honourable Remo Mancini, Minister of Revenue, in this regard, as well as the other members of Parliament representing the city of Mississauga.”
It is signed “Mayor Hazel McCallion.”
It is significant to know that this letter explains in black and white how this government has again betrayed the people of Ontario. This letter is dealing with the matter of Bill 46 and the commercial concentration tax only in Mississauga, but it is the same in all the municipalities within the greater Toronto area. It is the same penalty on those municipalities as it is on Mississauga; therefore, it is the same penalty on the property taxpayers in those municipalities.
And, as Mayor Haze McCallion says, it is the first time that the provincial government has reached right over into the pockets of the property taxpayers for more money. They are not satisfied in this Liberal government to take taxation in the normal route through normal provincial channels. They are now getting into property taxation opportunities through the municipalities.
The fact that in the provincial budget speech it was promised that there would be exemptions to this levy, I have to ask the Minister of Revenue the question, since in the budget speech it said that exemptions to the levy were to be granted to parallel the existing exemptions defined in the Assessment Act and the associated private acts, why is that exemption not being granted to municipalities and, therefore, to the property taxpayers in the greater Toronto area?
Hon Mr Mancini: I would like to take a moment or two to explain to the House and to the people who are watching this evening exactly what the commercial concentration tax will be used for. It will be used for the rebuilding and expanding of the infrastructure in the greater Toronto region so that this region can continue to grow and expand and not be choked by growth.
I want to take this opportunity to say that we are in fact doing exactly what Mayor McCallion has asked us to do and, as a matter of fact, a lot more. For example, over the next five years the government of Ontario will be spending $1.240 billion in the greater Toronto area.
On the provincial highway system we will be spending $625 million. Examples of our work in this area will be Highway 407 from Airport Road to Warden Avenue, $292 million; Highway 401, Mauves Road west and Brooke Road east, $147 million; Highway 403 from the Queen Elizabeth Way to Trafalgar Road, $117 million; the provincial transit system will get a $400-million boost; rolling stock of 60 bilevel cars and 14 locomotives, $129 million; Union Station improvements, $58 million; service improvements at Milton, Stouffville, Richmond Hill and Georgetown, $65 million; the local municipal roads, a full $65 million will be allocated to that area; examples are Oakville, Upper Middle Road, $12.5 million; in the Metro-Durham area, Steeles Avenue and Taunton Road, $19.2 million; in Peel some work on Highway 410 to Airport Road, $9.5 million; the municipal transit system will be improved by $150 million; examples are the Yonge-University and Spadina subway capacity improvements, $38.5 million; 25 streetcars for $41.6 million; the Sheppard station, Yonge subway upgrading, etc, another $29 million.
So you see, while we will be collecting in the neighbourhood of $120 million a year for five years, we will in fact be adding more than double that to the infrastructure of the greater Toronto area so that we can continue to grow; so that economic prosperity can continue; so that this great region in North America will in fact not be choked by growth, but will be able to expand and be able to deliver to its citizens a system and an infrastructure which all of us can use in a reasonable way.
The Chair: May I remind the member for Mississauga South that I have now received the two proposed amendments to the two sections and I would like to proceed with them at the earliest convenience. May I remind her of that?
Mrs Marland: Yes, and I respect that, Mr Chairman, but I just want to get one thing clear with this Minister of Revenue. I have asked you a question on behalf --
The Chair: Order, please. Please address all of your remarks through the chair.
Mrs Marland: I am sorry, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: Third person. Thank you.
Mrs Marland: I have asked this Minister of Revenue a question. I have asked it on behalf of the ninth largest city in Canada, which happens to be in the greater Toronto area. I asked him why his government has betrayed the people of this province by backing down on a promise that it made when the establishment of a commercial concentration tax was announced in the provincial budget.
I say with respect that I know that the minister can hear. So would he please tell the people of Mississauga and the other municipalities in the greater Toronto area why something which was announced in the provincial budget, that exemptions to the levy would be granted, now those exemptions are not being granted. This means that municipalities are going to be paying this commercial concentration tax on their parking lots. School boards are going to be paying it on their parking lots. These are two institutions, the municipalities and the school boards, who depend on the provincial government for transfer payments. It is backwards financing, on the one hand, to tax them and then, on the other hand, when they come to the province for money in the form of transfer payments you may or may not be compensating them for that amount.
I ask you again Mr Minister not to stand up and tell me a list of the projects that you are funding because that was not the question and I certainly would hope with all the money that you have that you are funding some projects --
The Chair: Order, please.
Mrs Marland: Would you please answer the question Mr Minister as to why you are not granting the exemptions as announced in the provincial budget?
The Chair: Before you answer; third person singular, through the chair, all the time; never second person singular.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman.
The Chair: Yes, madam.
Mrs Marland: Is it possible that the Minister of Revenue, for once in the last two days, could answer a question that he is asked? The public in this province has a right to know. This taxation is going to affect thousands and thousands of people. They have a right to know why this government has backed down on a promise made in its budget announcement so few months ago.
Hon Mr Mancini: Anyone who has been watching the proceedings for the last two days would know that I have answered each and every question thoroughly. I have put the facts on the record. They can be read and reread by picking up Hansard and they can be watched on television.
If anyone has watched this evening, they will see that my honourable colleague came to the House this evening without her amendments. We showed quite a bit of tolerance. Mr Chairman, you allowed quite a bit of leeway. We discussed a number of things. We waited for her amendments. Her amendments have finally come. She asked me about infrastructure. She read a letter from Mayor McCallion. She said the mayor of Mississauga wanted us to spend this money on infrastructure. I read into the public record that infrastructure is exactly where this money would be spent. As a matter of fact, I indicated to the House that far more would be spent on improving the infrastructure than this particular tax would raise.
I have a concern that maybe the honourable member has not read the legislation as carefully as she could have. She was also, I believe, involved in some of the committee hearings that took place before this evening. She should know --
Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.
Mr Ballinger: You had your turn, Margaret.
The Chair: The member for Mississauga South has a point of order?
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I have the same right to raise a point of order as the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan) did previously.
This is two days in a row now that this minister has stood in this House and said things that were factually incorrect about what I have done or what I have said. I did not attend committee meetings dealing with Bill 46 and I think the record should be corrected. Yesterday he said I was in favour of OHIP premiums and a number of other things. He said I spoke in favour --
The Chair: That is not a point of order.
Mrs Marland: -- of the goods and services tax, which I did not. I think it is time, if this minister is speaking, that he did a little more correct research.
The Chair: That is a point of information.
Hon Mr Mancini: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Last time I checked, the Conservatives were in favour of the goods and services tax. That is what I am led to believe.
Mr Cousens: We do not want to get into this. We have to deal with your bills. Let’s get on with them.
The Chair: Good point.
Hon Mr Mancini: We have been waiting to deal with this bill; we have been waiting for amendments to come.
Mr Chairman, I want to say to you that Conservative Party members have been briefed by staff from the Ministry of Revenue at their convenience. We have held committee meetings and I know that the honourable member opposite has been substituting on some days and some days maybe not. But certainly her party should be well aware of the contents of this particular piece of legislation and she should know by now that unless the municipalities and/or the school boards are using their parking lots and making them available to the general public and charging fees, unless they are doing those things then their parking lots are exempt from the commercial concentration tax.
That was made plain many, many weeks ago. It was made plain in my boardroom at the Ministry of Revenue offices. It was made plain in the committee and it was made plain to anyone who took time to read the legislation. If you turn to page 4, subsection 4(3) is very clear. If you read the legislation, it is very clear. It says: “Land that is exempt from taxes for municipal and school purposes by any other act is exempt from tax under this act, other than a commercial parking lot operated by a municipality or local board as defined in the Municipal Affairs Act.”
The honourable members must read the act and must review what has been said and not get up on a continual basis and say that their questions have not been answered, because the exact opposite is true. We are spending the money on infrastructure far greater than we are taking in. We have exempted the school boards and the municipalities whose parking lots are not being used for commercial purposes. These are all facts. These facts have been known for a long, long time.
Mr Cousens: I would like to move an amendment. If we could go to the bill itself, I have no amendments --
The Chair: Will you be moving these sections?
Mr Cousens: Yes, I will. I would like to do them verbatim, the first one on section 4, if I may.
The Chair: Before you take --
Mr Cousens: Okay, let’s just get into it because I just want to deal with it. That is what the minister has been trying to talk about.
The Chair: Fair enough. Since the only two proposed amendments that I received are to section 4 and the new section 22a, in that case, do sections 1 and 3 carry?
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Cousens moves that section 4 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“4(5) Land that is owned or operated as a parking lot by a transit authority, a municipality, or a municipal parking authority is exempt from tax under this act.”
Mr Cousens: When the committee was reviewing this I had the pleasure of hearing at least a couple of presentations and would like to tie in my rationale and the rationale of our party for this motion.
First of all, I would like to compliment the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland). Seven years of experience on municipal council has given her the breadth of experience that assists her in understanding the needs of a local municipality on the tax structure and impact that this bill is going to have on a local municipality. It is with that intent that we have drafted this amendment that would exempt municipalities from this tax, especially if they are acting as a parking lot and they have some costs associated with it.
One of the presentations made to our standing committee on finance and economic affairs back on 23 November was by the Parking Authority of Toronto. It is quite unusual that an authority that reports to a regional municipality would come and make the presentation they made, but they indicated the impact that this tax is going to have on parking in the greater Toronto area. I would like to read into the record just a couple of paragraphs from a very long report. I will not read the whole report, but I would like to have it as part of the record.
“At the proposed rate of $1 a square foot, the tax on our municipal parking spaces will be in the order of $5 million for the Parking Authority of Toronto. In order to pay that tax and maintain our present level of service, our overall revenues will have to increase by 17 per cent, but the majority of parking lots cannot sustain an increase in rates without actually increasing losses because we will drive parkers away. The reality is that just 22 of our lots, essentially in the centre of Toronto, will have to bear the burden of the levy. Hence, we shall have to increase rates by 35 to 40 per cent in the downtown core. If we have to add the planned nine per cent federal goods and services tax in the future and also adjust for inflation, we shall be compelled to increase our parking fees by two thirds in the central area in a little over two years.
It has already started to happen. People who were paying, until recently, under $10 for parking fees in the greater Toronto area in downtown Toronto have now found it is over $20 when going to municipal parking lots.
An hon member: That is for 24 hours.
Mr Cousens: No, it is not. That is just within an eight-hour day. What has happened is that the rates have almost doubled and that is because the city is now getting ready for the collection of this tax.
I would like to also say, because the minister is on the record in this House this evening saying something in which he is totally incorrect, that I think he was ill advised, or at least I would appreciate his withdrawing it when he does respond at the appropriate time to this bill. Our party is a provincial party and we are not in favour of the federal goods and services tax as it is being proposed. We have made a number of suggestions to the federal Finance minister. It has nothing to do with this bill and yet the minister has brought it in. I would like to just tie it in here. We are not in favour of that GST, as it is known, and would like him at least to be clear and honest in his comments on it. I take it as an offence that a minister of the crown would come along and make statements that he knows to be incorrect.
Let me go on and read further from the presentation that was made by The Parking Authority of Toronto. “The parking authority establishes parking facilities for the long term and these are meant to complement the city’s transportation objectives.”
If there is anything that is beginning to be a major issue in the downtown core of Toronto it is the shortage of parking spots. I know a few of the favourite places I like to visit, those old parking lots that I used to like to use and go to are there no longer; they have been replaced by buildings. They are not building additional parking spaces in order to accommodate the number of people coming into the downtown core.
He goes on to give us an illustration of the negative impact that is going to be felt by The Parking Authority of Toronto because of the tax they are going to have to pay. Here is one level of government taxing another level. He goes on to give us an illustration which I would like to repeat for the benefit of this House and for the record. The presentation went on to say:
“1 must tell you, in that connection, we are currently considering the redevelopment of one of our surface lots to a garage in a vibrant retail strip in the northwest corner of the city. Notwithstanding that this project has a negative net present value of $840,000, the commercial concentration tax would increase this loss by over $400,000 for a total net present value of negative $1,250,000. I very much doubt that this facility will now be built. This is but one example of how the commercial concentration tax will inhibit and indeed preclude us from providing a service to meet the shortfall in parking-deficient areas, which historically the Parking Authority of Toronto was created to do.”
It is on the record that here is the Parking Authority of Toronto living within its means, not being profitable, providing a service for the transportation systems in the greater Toronto area, knowing how urgent it is that we have parking spaces where people can leave their cars and then use public transit and go shopping. What we are going to do is discourage enterprise and commerce in the greater Toronto area by not making it interesting and attractive for people to want to park their vehicles.
The presentation that was made by the Parking Authority of Toronto said in conclusion, “The Parking Authority of Toronto respectfully requests your committee to exempt municipal parking facilities from Bill 46, the commercial concentration tax.” My amendment, and the amendment of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, would accommodate that need. It would also address the concerns that were raised by the parking authority and it would in fact have a long-term benefit.
I would also like to refer to another presentation that was made the same day by the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto, Alan Tonks. I have never seen the man as angry as he was this day, because he came armed with a very excellent report that gave the reasons why Metropolitan Toronto is opposed to this commercial concentration levy. I dare not go into it in the detail that I would like to, because my next amendment will touch on some of the points that I raised on this point and I do not want to duplicate that. If I may, I would like to just touch on his closing paragraph on public transit as it pertains to this amendment that we are now considering:
“Of particular concern is the province’s inclusion of the parking lots operated on behalf of the Toronto Transit Commission by the various area municipal parking authorities and departments. It is Metropolitan Toronto’s contention that the imposition of the tax on the TTC parking lots will act as a significant deterrent to transit users if the tax is passed on to them at the lots. At a time when every effort is being made to increase ridership and to prove to the public that transit is the most efficient form of urban transportation, we are also transmitting the message that if you are one of the users that must transfer from a car as one mode of transportation to the subway or bus to get across town or downtown, you will incur a significant increase in the fee that you pay to park your car to do so. This mixed message will only serve to confuse the public as to whether the goal is to encourage or to deter them from using public transportation. The public’s confusion can truly be appreciated in light of the fact that Metropolitan Toronto is also confused about this seemingly illogical move.
I do not think I could say it any better than the chairman of Metro council has said it in his presentation. We want to do everything we can to encourage people to use public transit, and one of the reasons why the SkyDome, when it opened, turned out to not have the chaos and traffic around it that it could have had, one of the reasons we did not have more occasions of gridlock in the downtown core of the greater Toronto area, was that people were encouraged to use public transit. I know that incentives were used for them: they were encouraged to do so because their tickets to the ball game became tickets to the transit system. Now what the government is going to do is say, “When you leave your car parked wherever you do within the greater Toronto area, you’re going to be heavily penalized by virtue of having left it there.” Many people, and I do not know how many, will go and now drive all the way downtown and we will be faced with the greater problem of a heavy, increased concentration of cars and vehicles in the downtown core when we should be doing everything we possibly can to prevent that.
What members are seeing happen here is one level of government tax another level. That other level has to recover its funds. It does not have an unlimited set of resources. So why can there not be a modicum of common sense on the part of this new Minister of Revenue to at least reconsider the bill from its original intent and accept the kind of pleas that have come universally, not just from Metropolitan Toronto, not just from Mississauga, but from the regions adjoining the greater Toronto area, pleading on behalf of their people that this government will do something to cut away that tax? By presenting this amendment we are giving the government an opportunity to say, “Land that is owned and operated for a municipal parking lot or for the TIC will be exempted from this.” I think there will be a continuing increase in costs for parking lots on an ongoing basis and on into the future, but what the minister is doing is causing another set of rate increases that will hurt the whole traffic flow into the Toronto area.
Our party is in the process at the present time of carrying out a task force across the province, especially in the greater Toronto area, dealing with transportation issues. Parking is certainly a major element of providing that service and providing encouragement for people, if they are coming down with their cars, to leave them somewhere; to leave the cars close to the subway; to find ways of using other forms of transit. We need to have a mix and a blend of all these things. What the minister is going to do now is not only impact the people who live in the greater Toronto area, because they will be paying far more for their parking rates -- they are already starting to have to pay it in the Parking Authority of Toronto -- you are also going to affect the tourism. When people come into this Toronto we want to make it an attractive place for them to be. Let them park their cars and let them learn to use the transit systems. I think what you are doing by this is another further deterrent to tourism in our province.
I could go on at length. I have considerable other representations that were made by people who were asking the government to reconsider this point. It is so important. I have tabled this motion in the presence of this House, in the presence of the minister, and in the presence of all his helpers so that he may now, with the consultation of his parliamentary assistant and all the others who are making up his advisers, come forward and in the spirit of this motion do something with it and approve it. I would be most grateful if he would.
Ms Bryden: I would like to speak to this amendment. I will support it because I think it does address a very serious flaw in the bill and it is one of the many flaws in the bill that I have mentioned. It shows how little attention was paid to those public hearings, which went on for several days, mainly at the request of the opposition parties. Many of the people connected with parking lots in the municipalities came before us and told us that it would put them out of business and that they were serving a very important municipal need to provide parking for the people using the downtown, for the downtown merchants, and to maintain the downtown cores in various-sized cities.
We heard, of course, from the Parking Authority of Toronto, which the member has mentioned, and we heard from the Oshawa, Brampton and Burlington parking authorities, all telling us that the downtown cores of those cities would be destroyed if this tax were applied to their parking lots.
When you also have a tax that is going to add to the gridlock in Metropolitan Toronto, add to the failure to get people out of their cars and into public transit, and going to attack the commuter parking lots of the TIC and other places, it is obviously a bill and a tax that is going to be destructive to the development of a healthy transportation system in the cities of this province.
I do not think the ministry has studied the economic effects of its applying this tax to the municipal parking lots and to the TIC parking lots and to the commuter parking lots. It is a strong reason why the government should admit that this tax is going to be very inequitable. It is going to not meet the transportation needs of the area. It is going to go counter to them and it should be referred back and not passed this time, so that we can see how those needs can be met.
In my opinion, the whole tax itself is a wrong-way approach to solving the transportation needs and to providing the infrastructure, because there is no guarantee that any of it will go to those things. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) keeps telling us that there is $1.2 billion for the city of Toronto in transportation expenditures and there is $2 billion for the whole province. These are promises that were made two or three years ago and we still have not got the transportation and we have not got the Sheppard Avenue subway.
It is simply a tax grab on a new source of revenue and it is a very badly planned tax grab. It does not pay any attention to the very serious problems that were brought before the committee hearings. I sat through practically all of them. These very serious problems require attention before we do get into a terrible traffic mess and a terrible, discriminatory situation in the effect of this tax on people. I think it is just indicative of the Liberal government’s failure to study new revenue sources adequately and instead to hit all kinds of operations that will be badly hurt by this tax.
The amendment of the member is useful in attacking one flaw in the tax, but there are many, many more that should all have been attacked. The government, in its own amendments, failed to meet any of the points that were raised in the committee hearings.
The First Deputy Chair: All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 4 agreed to.
Sections 5 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Cousens: I had a question on section 7.
The First Deputy Chair: Unfortunately, we have just carried section 7. There will be an opportunity later on to do a question, if you would care to. Perhaps now we could move to --
Mr Cousens: No, I would ask the permission of the chair and the House to go to section 7. I did not realize you had done that.
The First Deputy Chair: No, I am sorry. There was ample opportunity for you to ask any question you wanted.
Mr Cousens: Is there not unanimous agreement from -- there can be -- if there is, then I can --
The First Deputy Chair: I did not hear you ask for it. I did not hear them give it.
Mr Cousens: I have just asked for it now.
The First Deputy Chair: Are you asking for unanimous consent to revert to section 7?
Mr Cousens: Yes, I am.
The First Deputy Chair: Is there unanimous consent’?
Mr Cousens: Can I ask the minister about the process by which he is going to maintain a register for all land that is assessed? Does he have the register ready now, and what is the status of that?
Hon Mr Mancini: I believe that for members who were in the committee -- and there are so many substitutions I am afraid to guess who was there on certain days and who was not there -- it was clearly pointed out that there were a certain number of properties that would in fact make up the registry. We even had the breakdown of the properties as per municipality in the greater Toronto region. My officials tell me that the registry will be ready when the bill is passed.
The First Deputy Chair: Now we will move to your amendment on section 22a. Would you put it, please?
Mr Cousens: Just in comment to that, thanks for nothing.
Mr Cousens moved that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“22a(1) Within one year of the day on which this act received royal assent the tax established by this act shall be referred to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly.
“(2) The standing committee shall review the impacts of the tax established by this act on the commercial property owners, businesses and municipalities in the greater Toronto area.
”(3) The standing committee shall report its findings to the Legislative Assembly and shall make a recommendation as to whether this act should be continued unchanged, be amended or be repealed.
“(4) In the event that the review of this act by a standing committee is not conducted or the standing committee does not report, this act is repealed on December 31, 1990.”
Mr Cousens: I put forward this amendment. It is a very significant amendment in that it would make the bill absolutely meaningless for a year, but it would cause the Legislative Assembly to have a standing committee review the impact that it is going to have. Unfortunately, the total impact that this bill, which has been tabled in the House and has had very short discussion in committee, is going to have on the greater Toronto area is still not yet known. The rationale behind this is to give at least a cushion of time during which there could be that kind of analysis.
Bill 46 says an awful lot about the way this government runs the province and nothing that it has to say about it is good. It says a lot about this government’s appetite for tax dollars. This bill says a lot about this government’s attitude toward municipalities.
The First Deputy Chair: I would simply remind the member that we are speaking to an amendment and not to the bill.
Mr Cousens: This is part of my amendment, Mr Chairman.
The First Deputy Chair: Excuse me, in the course of your debate -- I do not mean to infringe on your debate, but you have placed the amendment. Surely, of all the members here, you will be the one who will want to speak to your amendment, not to something else. Please do.
Mr Cousens: That is what I am doing, if you will allow me to, because this amendment, as you can see, has quite a lot of impact to it as it affects property owners, businesses and municipalities. I would like to give a context for the amendment and I am in the process of doing that. This bill implements --
The First Deputy Chair: I am sorry. Please, I have asked you to speak to your own amendment. Please do so.
Mr Cousens: I am. If you keep interrupting me, I am going to have trouble doing it.
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I am reminding you for the final time. I have asked you to speak to your amendment, not to the bill. Please do so.
Mr Cousens: I am speaking to the amendment in which I have said that this amendment will have a way of removing from the Metropolitan Toronto area a tax increase that is going to be imposed upon this government, again, in addition to the many other tax increases that have been tabled since it came to power. It amazes me that this government continues to have such a greed for money. This again is another example of that kind of greed. Through this amendment, we are going to have an opportunity of allowing the government to have a pause time before it comes along and imposes an entirely new, an entirely novel, type of provincial tax in Ontario.
We want to have a chance to consider the total impact of this. It represents a clear intrusion into municipal tax territory in that it involves the province in the taxation of a specific type of property. In addition, this tax is unique in that it represents the first time, to the best of my knowledge. that the provincial government has directly levied a tax on the property of junior and lower-tier governments. Our amendment will have a way of giving those lower-tier levels of government an opportunity to know what that impact is going to be.
This amendment, as well, will help protect the whole regional structure around our area, which is now in this bill called the greater Toronto area. For reasons that I will touch on later that are implicit to this amendment, I think what the GTA really stands for is the greatest taxation area, but I will leave that matter aside for the moment.
As I will say, this amendment, if it passes, will protect the people of the greater Toronto area from this new tax. In my experience, this is a unique and novel approach to raising money for the province of Ontario, the first time ever this Legislature is imposing a punitive tax targeted on only one region of the province.
We have one of the New Democratic Party members standing up to help protect the greater Toronto area, but there is not one of the Liberal members in this Legislature who has stood up to protect the people of the greater Toronto area. I would be pleased to give them an opportunity to speak now, because I think there is an awful lot of worth in seeing them defend their position rather than leaving it to the minister only.
Tax breaks in the past have been given to sectoral districts in different areas designed to foster growth, development and employment in different regions and parts of the country, but in all my years here in the Legislature I cannot recall the House ever being asked to support a regionally targeted increase in the tax burden, which could potentially hamper growth, hamper development and hamper employment. That is exactly what this bill is asking us to do, to impose a discriminatory and punitive tax on a region of the province which never existed until the Treasurer, in his wisdom, decided he needed another cash cow to milk.
This amendment will protect the people of the greater Toronto area from that punishment. With this bill, we are being asked not only to support this new tax but also to legitimize this convenient administrative fiction called the GTA. We are being asked not only to create a new tax but a whole new category of taxpayers. As I mentioned earlier, this tax will be imposed only in the greater Toronto area, which this government seems bent on turning into the greatest taxation area in Ontario.
When one starts identifying what is the greater Toronto area, why is it that it ends just at the boundary marks of York, Durham, Peel and Halton’? Because, indeed, as we see the growth expanding through this province, the heartland of so much that is provided to drive the economy and not taking away for a minute the value that exists in the north, the east and the west, but the greater Toronto area --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I have listened for a fair amount of time now to the member speak briefly to his amendment and it seems to me you have moved quite a distance from your amendment. I am just going to remind you again it is your amendment. I am encouraging you to speak to your amendment and not to something else. Please do so.
Mr Cousens: Thank you, Mr Chairman. What I really believe is happening here is that this government, by isolating and separating out the greater Toronto area, wants to encourage development in other areas of the province aside from the greater Toronto area, but doing that by making the greater Toronto area unaffordable seems to be a very destructive and shortsighted way of achieving that goal. It is to that end that we have placed before this House this amendment that will allow the House to have a year to consider the total ramifications this bill is going to have on the greater Toronto area.
I happen to like a quote from the Globe and Mail. Am I allowed to quote from the Globe and Mail, Mr Chairman?
The First Deputy Chair: I cannot rule it out of order until you have done it.
Mr Cousens: That is just fine.
The First Deputy Chair: Then I probably will.
Mr Cousens: It is not the paper you read, I do not think. On 19 May it stated:
“There seems little economic logic or social justice in the new Toronto taxes imposed by the Ontario government. Both the timing and thinking are flawed. With the economy expected to grow this year at only half the rate of 1988, Mr Nixon may live to regret slapping an extra tax burden on the region that has been the driving force behind the longest and strongest expansion of the province’s economy since the 1960s.”
The First Deputy Chair: You are right; that quotation has absolutely nothing to do with your amendment.
Mr Cousens: It has, Mr Chairman, to the extent that we are concerned about the impact that the commercial concentration levy will have on the people who are using the greater Toronto area, the people who come into the Toronto area, who work here, who drive here, who live here. What we want to do is make this a place that is attractive to do business, not to detract them from coming into it.
What I am convinced will happen should this bill pass -- and I am afraid it will. Because of the large majority that the Premier (Mr Peterson) has and the support that is blindly given to the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini), it is therefore going to carry. Notwithstanding that, it does not take away the justice that I am calling for in this amendment; simple justice that will allow this House to have a moratorium on this subject for at least a year.
The fact of the matter is, when we start looking at the impact it can have on the economy, I believe it gives us good reason to say it is a misguided and wrongheaded bill, and by having this amendment we will have at least a year to rethink it, reconsider it and review it. This bill, I believe, should be totally opposed and I will be voting against the bill because it perpetuates this government’s back-of-the-hand approach to dealing with municipalities. That is part of what would happen in the year that we would have to review the bill.
When Mr Tonks, the chairman of the region. came to our committee and made his presentation, he commented at some length at the surprise he felt when this was announced in the budget speech. There had been no prior consultation between the province and the regional municipality or the regional municipalities; no prior consultation at all with Metropolitan council or with the regional municipalities. That in itself is an example of how the government is treating the regions around it without having that kind of dialogue and discussion beforehand.
This amendment will give us the opportunity for that kind of discussion and dialogue to take place during the forthcoming year. I am convinced that every municipal government in Ontario would then have a chance to oppose publicly and openly what this bill is all about. It would give those who have not yet commented on it that chance to do so. This bill represents the thin edge of the wedge that the province will use to drive into the municipal tax capacity.
We see this bill as a levy which is going to hurt our whole community in the greater Toronto area. If the greater Toronto area is impacted negatively, that can have a ripple effect that touches upon the rest of the whole province.
We are being asked to increase the provincial tax burden on municipalities at the same time as the government has chosen to flat-line its unconditional grants and municipal road grants, at the same time as the government continues to offload its responsibilities on to municipal councils. By having this year to consider this amendment --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I do not mean to intervene in the debate, but when you move an amendment, I expect to hear the debate centring on the amendment. There is no restriction on your right to speak or on how long you speak, but you are going to have to talk to the amendment that you put.
Mr Cousens: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am trying to do that because, to me, there are a number of factors that surround the amendment and surround the bill and this amendment really touches upon the whole meaning of Bill 46 and the commercial concentration levy.
I have to say to you, Mr Chairman, the bill is so offensive and it is offensive to the politicians who ave been elected to serve their municipal governments in the greater Toronto area. They have come and they have laid their concerns on the table before us and, in this amendment that I have presented to the House tonight, I am, hopefully, trying to accommodate some of the concerns they have expressed and to give us, as a Legislature, that kind of time frame in which we consider what those effects would be.
This is a time type of amendment. It would give us that 12-month time period in which we would have a chance to look at it.
I have great concerns, as well, about the impact. We can talk about the effect it is going to have on the municipal governments, and they have expressed their points well. In fact, the member for Mississauga South, from her experience on Mississauga council, earlier gave an excellent presentation on the impact it will have.
One of the presentations that we received in committee that was asking for a reconsideration of this bill, which this amendment would provide for, was made and presented by the hotel industry in Metropolitan Toronto. Pannell Kerr Forster prepared a brief that was presented to our committee and indicated a number of the areas in which the hotel industry is dreadfully concerned about the impact it will have on the industry.
By passing this amendment --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I have listened with great care to the member speak to this amendment and have given about as much latitude as I can. I would really like to hear some further debate on your amendment and I am sure there are other members who are anxious to speak to it. You can assist me a great deal if you could kind of finalize your remarks now on this amendment and perhaps other members could participate.
Mr Cousens: I guess I can understand the reason for haste, not necessarily on your part but certainly on the government’s. Your job is to have the business on the House proceed with dispatch. My job is to make sure that the points are tabled for full and proper consideration and to make sure that there is an honest form of opposition that allows another view to be presented. If it is presented honestly and relevantly -- I suppose it is hard to do it tactfully especially when you are restricted by a heavy Chair -- it is an important opportunity for us to do this.
I know the government would like to have it over with as fast as possible and it will be over and it will be implemented as quickly as possible. My amendment would help protect a whole, large group of people who have come with a case.
Could I have your indulgence for a moment, Mr Chairman, to just touch on two or three of the points of why the hotel industry, for one, would be interested in seeing this bill totally withdrawn? I am not saying withdraw it by this amendment --
The First Deputy Chair: Please, you asked the Chair a question and you deserve an answer. Yes, you can, certainly. All you have to do is tie those comments somehow, vaguely, into the amendment that you have proposed and I am happy to hear anything you have to say about it.
Mr Cousens: This will tie in very easily when I say in the second part of the amendment, and speaking to that specifically, that the standing committee shall review the impact of the tax established by this act on the commercial property owners, businesses and municipalities in the greater Toronto area.
I am talking about businesses at this point. Up until now, I have been trying to make the point as it affected municipal governments. This is a business, the hotels are a major business to attract tourism in the greater Toronto area and they have come back and brought data in a very thick report indicating just how seriously this will impact the industry.
What they have done is indicate that their business is not as secure and stable as some people would like to think. The government possibly assumes that the occupancy rate is much higher than it is and it is not as high as the government would lead us to believe. They are indicating that as much as 40 per cent of a hotel cannot be rented because it is integral to the hotel operation and, therefore, the commercial buildings have a constant capacity to use nearly all available space; hotels cannot and do not.
Could there then, during this year of special consideration, be a time in which there would be some thought as to the impact it is going to have on hoteliers?
The point they are making, and they move to their bottom line, is that the Metro Toronto hotel industry must compete in the North American market to fill rooms and convention space, whereas the office developers’ market is more localized and, in recent years, development of office buildings has had difficulty meeting the current demand for commercial space.
We are talking about a phenomenon that affects not just the greater Toronto area, it affects all of North America. They were able to prepare statistics and data that showed the impact this has on the hotel industry.
Very often, we think Toronto has a good rate for hotels. The fact of the matter is, on the average daily rate for convention cities, as listed now, we will be going up to one of the highest and by having the commercial concentration levy which would be implemented with the passage of this bill, Toronto will be moved into a position where it is no longer competitive with some of the other key cities across North America.
That is the reason, Mr Chairman, with your good indulgence, why I would like to have a year’s moratorium on this bill through this amendment that would allow the government and hoteliers, as one group only, to consider what it means to them.
We are in a position to do something good for business right now. We have had one amendment that was lost, an amendment that would have protected municipal governments and the Toronto Transit Commission from the impact. I am asking for the same kind of thing now for those other businesses that are going to be hurt by it.
We are talking about money and the money that is being spent to keep this economy of ours strong. Let us not take it for granted. Let us not kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.
The amendment that I have tabled purely says that within one year of the day that this act receives royal assent it will be referred to a standing committee. That standing committee shall review the impact of it, it will look at the impact it has on municipal government, commercial areas and businesses and then it will report back at the end of that time.
What it is really saying is that this government has had to make 17 amendments already. This is obviously flawed, quickly prepared legislation that was not fully researched before it was delivered to the House. It has already had 17 amendments. This will give us a chance to see if there are any other significant amendments that can be made in this legislation before it is passed.
I would seek the indulgence of the House. Mr Chairman, I know that you cannot vote on things like this but I would hope that I have convinced a few others in this House, at this very late hour of almost 11:20 if you are watching it live, to vote on this tonight and in such a way that we are able to put this aside for a short period of time.
Ms Bryden: I feel that we have already had a very thorough examination of the very bad effects of this proposed tax on the whole greater Toronto area and on the industries, on the small business, on the hotel industry.
If the member had listened to those briefs, he would know that the tax is very flawed, that it does not serve the needs of the people of the greater Toronto area, that it intrudes into the municipal taxing powers in the greater Toronto area, that it does not have accountability in the distribution of the proceeds to any of the municipalities in the greater Toronto area, that it is so badly flawed that it leaves people in shopping malls who are what they call the junior tenants at the mercy of the large owners and large participants in the malls.
It leaves the business improvement areas completely helpless if they cannot have their own parking facilities to help develop the downtown areas of most of our cities, and there are a number of these operating in this area. It will hit small business people the hardest and those are the very people who cannot pass it on as easily to others. It will hurt the operators of commercial parking lots as well as the operators of municipal parking lots.
I cannot understand how the member, having heard some of those submissions, could consider tolerating for another year or three years. four years such a terrible mistake by this government in bringing in a tax that will be highly regressive, that will be highly discriminatory.
It is a geographically oriented tax which hits the taxpayers of the whole greater Toronto area in a way that they are not hit by any other tax. The business of geographic taxation could lead to special taxes for the north, special taxes for the south, special taxes for the east, and the municipalities are being left with the results of this tax. So there is nothing more that the municipalities can find out from this study. They know that it is bad. They know that it is hurting a lot of people. There is nothing more that the committee to which it will be referred under this amendment can indicate how this tax will possibly work to solve any of the problems that it is supposed to solve, such as providing funds for infrastructure and for transportation. It does not do that and that is another reason why it should not be considered at all. It should be voted down as a tax and the government should go back to the drawing board and consider alternative sources of revenue for the objectives for which it says this tax was set up.
So I would not support this amendment at all. I think it is just shocking that any member would consider even contemplating considering this tax.
Mrs Marland: It is disappointing that the New Democratic Party, which is opposed to this legislation, is now speaking in opposition to this amendment, because my colleague the member for Markham has spent a substantial amount of time explaining why his amendment is so important and so relevant. The fact of the matter is we are now at the last page and the last section, bar one, of Bill 46.
If we are already this far gone in what we agree with the member for Beaches-Woodbine is a very poor piece of legislation in the interests of the people who live and do business in the greater Toronto area, which now obviously has become the greater taxation area, I am sure if the member for Beaches-Woodbine realizes that we are almost through the passage of this bill in committee of the whole, surely the last hook of some redemption for this Liberal government might be to support the amendment of my colleague and the fact that this amendment is simply saying that “within one year of the day on which this act receives royal assent the tax established by this act shall be referred to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly....
“The standing committee shall review the impacts of the tax established by this act on the commercial property owners, businesses and municipalities in the greater Toronto area... The standing committee shall report its findings to the Legislative Assembly and shall make recommendations as to whether this act should be continued unchanged, be amended or be repealed... In the event that the review of this act by a standing committee is not conducted or the standing committee does not report, this act is repealed on 31 December 1990.”
If this Liberal government believes that Bill 46 is such a wonderful piece of legislation, then what would they have to fear in supporting this amendment? If it is so good and it is so good for the greater taxation area or the greater Toronto area, if it is so good for everybody, then they should be very proud of it and so secure in this legislation and the drafting of it that they would be perfectly happy in a year’s time to have the whole matter referred to an all-party standing committee of this Legislature.
Surely, after a year’s time, there will be able to be some assessment made of it. Surely, if it is as good as they would have us believe, they would be happy to have it assessed. And surely, if they are being completely honest with the people of this province, they would be more than happy to learn after a year that if there were little areas that were not perfect -- they might be willing to bring in their own amendments to make it perfection.
In order that the intent of this act be supported in this amendment by the government members, since obviously, we do not now have the support of the official opposition and now this is solely an amendment by the third party, I want to read into the record a letter which deals --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. I understand that members are anxious to put this stuff on the record, and there are ample opportunities for them to do so, but the member for Markham has proposed an amendment and I am going to direct everyone’s attention as best I can to the amendment that is currently before us. Would the members please do so.
Mrs Marland: I think that is absolutely fair. The amendment deals with the impact of this act. This letter deals with the impact of the act as well. I think, in fairness, for me to read this letter in support of this amendment is quite in order.
The First Deputy Chair: Okay. I will just caution with this: when the member has finished reading the letter, the letter had better in some way mention this amendment. Otherwise, of course, it would be irrelevant.
Mrs Marland: I will read the letter. The letter is over the signature of David Plant, who is a constituent of mine in Mississauga South. The letter reads as follows:
“Dear Mrs Marland:
“I am writing to you in desperation to express my urgent need for your advice and assistance with respect to the incredible tax burden I will be forced to bear due to the application of the commercial concentration tax on 1 January 1990 and the Parking Authority of Toronto’s fee structure increase announced on Tuesday of this week.
“I commute to my office at Bay and Queen in Toronto by car, not for convenience but out of necessity. My wife and I were forced due to the lack of affordable housing in Toronto to move to Mississauga in 1987. We located a suitable home for ourselves and our two children, now age four and seven, at 2604 Truscott Drive.
“Our jobs keep us in the office until 5:30 pm. By the time we fight rush-hour traffic, we are lucky to be home much before 7:15 pm. No licensed after-school program or day care arrangement that I am aware of in our area lasts past 6 pm. In the morning, no program is available before 8 am. In order to be at my desk by 9:30 am., I have to be out of the door between 7:15 and 7:30 in the morning. Last Tuesday, with the bad weather, it took me a full three hours to get to work. (In the evening or on weekends, I could drive it in 25 to 35 minutes.)
“As a result, we have to take our children with us into Toronto, just so we can get to them by 6 pm. After 6 pm, penalty charges from the day care are $1 per minute for late pickup. After 6:30 pm, the Children’s Aid Society is notified.
“The cost of nonresident school fees in Toronto for my son are nearly double my total property tax assessment in Mississauga, including school taxes. To my chagrin, I was greeted with an increase in fees from $1,800 to $2,100 in September, with no prior warning, due to the changes in the regional allotment under the provincial Education Act. The Toronto board was unable to forecast what next year’s fees will be, when I’ll have both children in the school system. Suffice it to say, I am already over a barrel when it comes to providing a responsible situation for my children.
“Given the cost of commuting four individuals into Toronto by GO Transit and TIC, being the slave of an incredibly tight schedule, plus the vagaries of transit work-to-rule and system breakdowns, we drive, despite the everworsening transit. Using public transit would mean my poor kids wouldn’t get home before 7:30 at night -- later if we missed the train. At least we have three or four hours a day together in the car.
“It costs me $10 a day to park at my office, $9 if I can get into the lot across the street before it fills up.
“The Parking Authority has announced that due to the imposition of the commercial concentration tax on 1 January 1990, the parking rates will increase from 80 cents per half hour to $1 . 10 per half hour, with no daily maximum. This means an increase from $10 per day to $24.20 per day -- a 142 per cent increase. I estimate that it will cost me an additional $3,308 per year just to park. How can I bear it? Mr Nixon has also talked of imposing a surcharge to gasoline in the Toronto region or imposing a user fee to commuters to improve our already overburdened road system.
“I am a unionized worker subject to negotiated increases of six per cent, on average, with no car allowance or access to perks like a downtown parking space.
“What can I do? I am concerned about our national and provincial debt load and want to be a responsible citizen and pay my share of the taxes, but is this proposed situation reasonable?
“How many other young, middle-class families in our riding are despairing of how to meet their enormous cost-of-living expenses? It is a pretty grim way to face Christmas and New Year.
“I hope to hear from you.
“Yours truly, David Plant, 2604 Truscott Drive, Mississauga.”
This letter addresses the amendment because it deals with the impact of the commercial concentration tax that this bill is introducing, which penalizes everybody who has no choice but to commute into the greater Toronto area and park his car while he goes to work. This young family is just an example of thousands. I think that if this government were trying to be at all responsible, it would be willing to support this amendment and say: “This bill is a good piece of legislation. It is going to work, and we will be more than happy to look at it 12 months from now.” But I suppose, as with the other amendments, the attitude of this Liberal government will be to defeat this amendment, because once it has passed something, and it has all the power it needs with its 94-seat majority, once it has approved a piece of legislation, it never needs to open that cupboard again. They never need to be answerable to the public about that piece of legislation.
However, I am sure my colleague the member for Markham will agree with me there will be a time when the Liberal government has to answer to the public for not supporting this amendment. There will be a time when this Liberal government is going to be accountable to the people who happen to live in the greater Toronto area, because that is where their jobs are, that is where their children go to school and that is where they have invested in their houses. But the sad part is that they will not for long be able to afford to do any of those things. As this Liberal government drives commerce, industry and business out of the greater Toronto area, and the people who work in those employment locations, so it will drive down the economy of this province, because we know where the centre of commerce and business is. I am quite sure that with the input from all the minister’s staff, he too must realize where the centre of commerce and business is, and why he thinks he has to penalize the people who live in the greater Toronto area with this bill, and then not even be willing to look at it in a year’s time, is beyond me.
I think in fairness to the people in the greater Toronto area, the minister should at least be willing to support this amendment and agree that he will look at it a year from now, and that he will at least say to the people who are affected by it, “If we were wrong, we will amend it, but at least we will be willing to look at it.” That is all this amendment is about.
It simply says the minister must not penalize the people who drive the economy to the successful boom rate that we have enjoyed the last four years, although, goodness knows, we would not know it, because each year he has doubled taxation in this province, even though he has been in good economic times. Certainly the fact that the minister has decided he needs more than the normal economic growth in the increase in revenues in the Treasury is a factor that we in the Progressive Conservative caucus have found impossible to understand.
The fact that he is continually reaching for more and more money from the Ontario taxpayers and that he can sit there and say he does not need to support this amendment because with the money he is going to build this road, that road, and the list that he gave us earlier -- I would hope with the kind of income that he has, even without this legislation, he would do far more in terms of building the much needed infrastructure in the greater Toronto area and beyond.
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, if I may --
The First Deputy Chair: Excuse me, there may well be other members who would like to participate in the debate and it is my unfortunate job to see if there are. Are there any other members who wish to participate in the discussion on the amendment that has been proposed? If not, perhaps the member for Markham would like to give us some closing remarks.
Mr Cousens: I wonder why you said it was your unfortunate job. I thought it would be an honourable job to be deputy chairman of the committee of the whole House and that you would enjoy sitting in the chair and having the chance of being in charge of something.
The First Deputy Chair: I normally do, to tell you the truth, but it seems that some members have not read standing order 23. I am bound by that standing order, which insists that I try to keep the members on track, discussing the motion that is under discussion. It appears that not all members have read it quite in the same way that I have.
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, thank you for this opportunity. I want just a couple of remarks further. First of all, I would like to endorse very strongly the statement that has been made by the member for Mississauga South. In section 2 of this amendment, we asked that the committee would review the impact on commercial property owners.
I would like to tie something else in that was not covered earlier in my preamble, and that is, within the next year the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto is considering a proposal to implement market value assessment, and that will considerably increase the tax burden of commercial real estate. By having a year’s moratorium on that, it will give an opportunity for the standing committee to consider the impact.
If, in fact, we were to proceed with this extra tax now, coincident with the new market value reassessment, I am led to believe -- and this would be the kind of data that the committee would want to look at -- that in the presentation of the Canadian Institute of Public Real Estate Companies to the standing committee, it indicated that in one project, for example, the 1989 taxes could increase -- I want to be specific -- from 25 per cent to 90 per cent. Their taxes on the real estate could increase from 25 per cent to 90 per cent over their previous annual municipal tax bill. That is a terribly large increase.
I would like to tie that into another implication that is passed on by one of my constituents who wrote on this to the Treasurer. Mark Cullen of Weall and Cullen Nurseries made this point -- and this is why a year’s chance to look at it would be very worth while -- “You should have no illusions that this is a tax that will be passed on to the general public through retail prices, as a great number of retailers exist in locations of less than 200,000 square feet.” Then he goes on to explain how it would happen. It is just another contributor to inflation.
Combine that with another business concept and with the thinking that has been presented by others; it is an opportunity for the new Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) to reopen the subject and accept the fact that there is universal dismay on the part of commercial users, on the part of business and on the part of the municipalities. By having this time to reconsider it and to understand its full implications, we would then be in a better position to proceed.
Let’s not forget. I have asked questions in the House that would have tied into this. I have asked the minister, who is on the other side of the House talking to some of his friends, about his position on reassessment. It is almost a fait accompli. Combine market value reassessment and the commercial concentration levy, and we are going to have a very negative impact. I plead with the minister to rethink it and reconsider it, and hopefully this amendment will carry.
The First Deputy Chair: All those in favour of Mr Cousens’s motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Ms Bryden: Mr Chair, did we pass 21?
The First Deputy Chair: Yes. That is how we got to 22.
I will put the question again. The members seem a little confused about it all. Is it the pleasure of the House that section 23 carry?
Section 23 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that the bill be reported?
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, on a point of order, please --
The First Deputy Chair: No. There is no point of order.
Mr Cousens: The honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine has been trying to get your attention. I would like to defend her interests in this Legislature to have that opportunity.
The First Deputy Chair: While you were defending her interests, the Chair acknowledged the member for Beaches-Woodbine. She asked me a question and I answered her question.
Mr Cousens: I don’t think she is happy.
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. The question has been put to the House. If people do not want to, or if people want to discuss something further, now is the opportunity to do that and to indicate that they want to.
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, you did not give an opportunity to other members who wanted to speak. I would say that you are rushing through on this, and I know that there is at least one other member --
The First Deputy Chair: Order, please. Take your seat. Take your seat.
Mr Cousens: I have asked --
The First Deputy Chair: Sit. Sit.
An hon member: Throw him out.
The First Deputy Chair: I have asked other members if they want an opportunity to speak. The only thing I can see that is preventing them from speaking is the member for Markham standing on points of order that are not points of order.
Are there any other members who wish to make comments on any of the sections?
Ms Bryden: On the motion to adopt the bill which we are on now, I understand, I had wished to speak to subsection 21(1), which was amended in the committee and which I spoke against in the committee when it was being amended there, but I guess we were spending so much time on the previous amendment that I was not aware when we came to it. Even though there was no amendment to subsection 2 1(1), I should have taken the opportunity to speak against it and to express some of the comments I made in the House on this particular bill.
In the whole bill, I think subsection 21(1) is the most dangerous section to democracy in this province. It simply gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council the power to rewrite the bill in any way it likes, to make any decisions it likes and even to make them retroactive if it likes. This is the reverse of democracy. When you do not spell things out and put them all in the regulatory power, you might as well have a dictatorship because the government can change the bill in any way it wants through the regulatory power, and there simply has to be an agreement of the cabinet to get it.
Particularly, I wanted to protest the addition in the committee of two new clauses to subsection 21(1). I believe there was no representative of the third party there when this amendment was brought up, so I was the only one who spoke against it. I would like to read the two clauses that were added in the House so that the members are aware of how very serious an undermining of the whole legislation is in these sections and of this power that is given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
The amendment adopted by the committee was to subsection 21(1) of the bill, which is the regulations section and covers a great number of sections, and it was to add thereto two clauses. The first is “(f)” -- so there had been (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) up until then -- “prescribing additional classes of land to be included in the definition of ‘commercial property.’” That simply means the government can bring any class of land under this tax or define what classes are to be covered that are not spelled out in the act.
Also added under subsection 21(1) by this amendment is “(g) exempting commercial properties and commercial parking lots from the tax imposed by this act.” That simply means the government can exempt any operation that appears to be subject to it. There could be considerable pressure exerted on the government. There could even be favouritism in exempting some commercial properties that wished to be exempted and not others, or in exempting some parking lots and not others.
A badly flawed tax that is very discriminatory at present between different classes of business and different types of operation could become far more discriminatory in the whole greater Toronto area than it already appears to be under the law as it is now passed. This simply shows that the government has absolutely no idea of what it wants to tax, but it wants the power to tax everything that moves; it does not even have to come back to the Legislature for any extensions or additional classes of land to be added.
This is going far too far in using the regulatory process. It shows that the bill should be withdrawn and not proceeded with until the government is ready to write into the legislation exactly what it thinks should be subject to the tax, if it wishes to go ahead with it. After they study it and look at all those briefs that were presented to them, they should back off and look for some other source of revenue to cover their needs in the area and let us have a progressive tax system based on progressive taxes, not this kind of very regressive and very faulty tax as a new tax.
The Liberal government should be ashamed that it even thought of bringing in such a tax that is so highly regressive and so unfair in its implications and its economic effects.
The First Deputy Chair: Shall the bill be reported?
Mr Cousens: No.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman --
The First Deputy Chair: Let me explain. Perhaps I should. I owe you this much. I had a member who had indicated that she had missed a section where she wanted to make some comments. We are in committee and we do have a fair amount of latitude. We had dealt with the bill in essence, and we were dealing with a motion to report the bill. It seemed that the House indicated that it wanted to allow the member to make her comments.
We were in the middle of taking a question. In committee I would feel quite comfortable, if someone indicated that he wanted to get a few comments in, to provide that. That is what has happened here. It is rather unusual, I know, but the member indicated that she had inadvertently missed the section she wanted to talk about, and it seemed quite reasonable to allow her that. Now, are we ready for the question?
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: if we are in the process of taking a motion on whether to report the bill, am I not permitted to speak on any motion’?
The First Deputy Chair: Yes, you normally would. I do not want to pretend to you that this a normal situation. We have dealt with the bill in essence and the question now is, “Shall the bill be reported?” I am mindful of the hour. I am mindful that members have had a long debate on this matter tonight. If somebody has a few short comments to make, I would like to have the latitude of the House to allow that. Are there any members who wish to do that?
Mrs Marland: Yes.
Mr Dietsch: Mr Chairman, on the same point of order: Perhaps we could seek unanimous consent to extend the hour, based on the certain interests of the member wanting to develop and put forward her point of view. I would certainly be willing to sit here until three o’clock and listen to her.
The First Deputy Chair: I appreciate your determination and your inability to read a clock, but we do not need any unanimous consent yet. The member wants to make a few short comments. I think we can accommodate that.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman. In speaking to the motion to now report this bill, I think it is important for the people who are about to vote on that motion to understand the impact of Bill 46. Some of the comments that I have made earlier this evening, and some of the comments that have been made in a very excellent and competent way by my colleague the member for Markham (Mr Cousens), as well as the last comments of the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden). have put on the record why it is that we are concerned about this bill.
I think it is important to understand that we are not concerned about this bill just because we are in opposition. I am not voting against Bill 46 on my own account. I am not here to speak against Bill 46 on my own account. I am here speaking on behalf of the millions of people who live in the greater Toronto area who are going to be impacted by this bill. I am here trying to speak on behalf of those deputations which were invited to come to a committee to place on the record their concerns and their questions to this government.
Earlier tonight the Minister of Revenue made the comment that there were any number of substitutions on that committee by the opposition parties. There is no question that there were a great number of substitutions. But before he makes those kinds of comments, which suggest that none of us can stay there long enough and we are always being substituted for, the Minister of Revenue should take into consideration that we have 17 people in our caucus, the official opposition has 18 in its and the government has 94 members.
It stands to reason that the two opposition caucuses try to represent the concerns of people on government legislation, which is what they tried to do in committee and what we have tried to do again here tonight. I am not arguing against the fact that we are six minutes away from midnight, but certainly the member for Markham and myself have not sat here for four hours tonight for fun. We certainly have not sat here because we are at a loss for something else to do. We have sat here and voted in favour of the amendments that tried at least to make Bill 46 palatable.
I am now speaking against reporting this bill, because unless this Liberal government is prepared to make provisions for those people who are going to have to leave the greater Toronto area since they can no longer afford to do business there or who can no longer afford to commute to work downtown because they cannot afford to leave their car anywhere since they cannot afford the parking, unless this Liberal government is prepared to develop satellite cities and provide housing and jobs in locations outside the greater Toronto area, we are going to have a crisis on our hands.
To those government members who are here tonight thinking that this bill is humorous and that the whole exercise of the opposition parties being here and trying to speak on behalf of the people of the greater Toronto area who are going to be affected, I say that these people who are going to be affected need a voice; but it does not seem to matter how many times they speak up or we speak on their behalf, this Liberal government does not listen.
In supporting the motion to report this bill, I give the government fair warning that it had better be ready with its social services and Ministry of Community and Social Services budget increases, because there are going to be small businesses put out of business because they cannot afford the increase in their rents, which their landlords have to charge because the landlords are paying the commercial concentration tax to this government. Those small businesses, and some large businesses, that are going to be out of business mean that people are going to be out of jobs, and people are going to be out of their homes because they cannot afford to pay rent or mortgages. We will have a crisis in the greater Toronto area, rather than what the government feels it is going to accomplish with Bill 46.
Bill 46, in the government’s own words, is a means of funding infrastructure. Well, with the kind of money this government has, it does not need to get beyond the provincial taxation system and get into what is basically and essentially property taxation in order to pay for its programs. I think if it managed its financial responsibility the way it should be managed, it would not have to add more and more taxes to the people in the greater Toronto area; and it should be prepared, because when it drives them out of that area, they are going to have to have alternatives in order to survive in this province.
This bill in its present form is disgraceful legislation, and it shows a total lack of responsibility by this Liberal government to those millions of people who are already penalized living in the greater Toronto area by having to pay more for other privileges of doing business and working here.
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman --
The First Deputy Chair: Thank you. Shall the bill be reported?
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, I would like to speak to that motion.
The First Deputy Chair: Shall the bill be reported? Agreed?
An hon member: Agreed.
The First Deputy Chair: Agreed.
Mr Cousens: Mr Chairman, I would like to speak to that motion. Have I been recognized by the Chair?
An hon member: No.
The First Deputy Chair: Can we have a motion to rise and report?
Mr Cousens: I challenge the Chair.
The First Deputy Chair: The government House leader? Thank you. We have a motion to rise and report. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Mr Cousens: There is no way I will not be recognized in this House.
The First Deputy Chair: Carried.
Mr Cousens: I ask this House --
Mr Cousens: I asked to be recognized by Chair, and the Chair did not recognize me.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report four bills without amendment and asks for leave to sit again.
Mr Cousens: I cannot believe what has just happened to democracy.
Hon Mr Mancini: We’ve run out of time.
Mr Cousens: No. I was standing --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The committee of the whole House begs to report four bills without amendment and asks for leave to sit again. Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.
Mr Cousens: No, Mr Speaker. There are two minutes left on the clock and I would like to bring a point of order to your attention. The First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House had received the presentation by the member for Mississauga South. I wanted to speak to the same motion that was before the House at that time, and the First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House did not recognize me. I was standing in my place; I tried to get the attention of the Chair. Other members of this House will know that I was standing at that time.
I would therefore like to ask you, sir, if you would look into the behaviour of the First Deputy Chair to see if his action is according to the standing orders of this House.
The Deputy Speaker: I will look into it.
Mr Cousens: Mr Speaker, can I ask that you report back to the House at the appropriate time?
The Deputy Speaker: I will.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported four bills without amendment.
The House adjourned at 2400.