The House met at 1330.
Mr Kormos: The inadequacy of Welland’s and Thorold’s courtroom facilities has been the subject of more than a few exchanges both inside and outside of this Legislature. Now it is the chief of the Niagara Regional Police Force, John Shoveller, who calls the conditions in the holding cells at the Welland district courthouse “unsafe, unhealthy and totally inadequate,” so much so that Chief Shoveller will not let his officers work in those facilities. I tell you, Mr Speaker, the chief is 100 per cent right.
There is no good reason to expose the members of the Niagara Regional Police Force to the high risk of injury that these courthouse conditions create. Not only will Chief Shoveller not allow his officers to work in the holding cells areas, but also he vows to ignore the Liberals’ new legislation forcing courtroom security on to the municipality and its police force. Once again, to do so would expose good police officers to unnecessary risk of injury because of the inadequacy of those facilities.
Chief Shoveller’s observations are but another facet of the gross inadequacy of the Welland district courthouse and provincial courtrooms in Niagara South. The conditions are unsafe, unhealthy and totally inadequate not just for police officers whom we call upon to protect us in these conditions, but also for the public who are called upon to participate in the justice system.
The matter of Welland’s courtroom facilities really has now become a crisis. It is imperative -- oh, so imperative -- that the Attorney General (Mr Scott) respond quickly and appropriately.
Mr Sterling: In March 1988, the Ontario Law Reform Commission reported to the Attorney General (Mr Scott) its conclusions following an examination of the time-share industry in Ontario. That report was 197 pages long and examined virtually every aspect of the industry from the point of view of both consumers and the industry itself. It contained 92 specific recommendations regarding regulation and concluded that “time-sharing warrants substantial legislative intervention if its growth is to be fostered in this province.”
Recommendations suggested by the commission include: a 10-day cooling-off period between buyers and sellers; the licensing of time-share salespeople; full disclosure of hidden costs and liens; registration of all time-share projects, and financial protection for purchasers.
Metropolitan Toronto residents alone are currently receiving some 40,000 invitations a week offering impressive-sounding prizes by time-share companies if they will only attend a sales pitch. Tactics employed by some representatives of this industry are downright despicable and play on people’s weaknesses in order to make a sale.
The government has had the extensive recommendations of the Ontario Law Reform Commission for well over a year and a half, yet has done nothing. The government’s failure to act in this regard is unfair. It is unfair to the consumers who are being coerced and it is unfair to the legitimate participants in this industry who recognize that regulation would help them to keep their good name.
Mr Velshi: Over the last few weeks we have been hearing in this House praises about events taking place in eastern Europe. It seems that the dark period of human rights abuses is at last being addressed in that part of the world.
Last week we witnessed the expulsion of 51 refugees from Hong Kong to Vietnam by soldiers in the dead of the night on instruction from Great Britain. Many people and countries have condemned Great Britain’s new refugee policy on the occasion of Human Rights Week, and rightly so.
What is not known, however, is that Great Britain’s new refugee policy is not that new. In 1967, 22 years ago when I was living in Kenya, the newly independent nation of Kenya decided to expel all noncitizens of Kenya. At that time Great Britain allowed all British passport holders who were white to re-enter Britain; however, all British passport holders who were nonwhite were prevented from entering Britain, leaving all nonwhite Britons to remain in no man’s land at the Kenya airport, sleeping on the floors and being fed by local citizens until some other country accepted these British subjects. These included young and old alike.
It pains me to say that Great Britain has lost the moral right to call itself great. When we speak about human rights abuses in Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Palestine, Chile, etc, Britain must take its rightful place among these countries as not only an abuser of human rights, but as a party guilty of deliberately supporting other countries to continue human rights abuses.
If ever parents can learn from their children, then Britain can learn from Canada what it is to protect the weak and the needy.
Mr Wildman: I rise to bring to the attention of the House the serious drought condition that has been plaguing the area of Algoma for about a year. Households and farmers in the rural part of Algoma district are experiencing serious lack of water. This is a particular problem in the township of Thompson, where people are having to haul water because their wells have gone dry, but it is true throughout the southern part of Algoma, in the rural area, in the farming area.
There is even one case of an elderly woman who is looking after her aged mother, a Mrs Grasely, who is famous in our area for her great age and her good health, who is having to haul water through this winter. Yet the Ministry of the Environment, for some unknown reason, has a criterion for its private water systems program which requires that there be a minimum of 25 households in a community that need to improve their water systems, or 2.5 people per hectare as a minimum, before the municipality is eligible for assistance under the private systems assistance plan. This does not make any sense. It would make sense to have minimum numbers if we were talking about a communal system, but not when we are talking about rural households and farms in a rural area.
I call upon the government to change the criterion and help the people who need water.
Mr Cousens: On two separate occasions over the last two months, I have asked the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) to state his views on the proposal by Metropolitan Toronto for market value reassessment. The minister has refused to give a definitive answer. He has stated that the matter is under serious review. The commercial sector in Metro has been left in the dark, and with each passing day there is beginning to be a growing perception that Metro’s MVR proposal has been given an implicit go-ahead.
Metro’s proposal would reassess all properties on 1984 market values, starting in 1991, until 1996 when they will be reassessed on an as-yet-unknown base year. Any decrease due to the commercial sector will be severely limited to compensate for frozen residential increases,
Some very serious questions that have arisen as a result of this proposal have not been answered. How many home owners will be affected who have renovated or improved their properties since 1981? How will the commercial and industrial sectors be affected by these tax changes?
In order for these changes to be implemented, the province must give its approval by introducing enabling legislation and must also conduct an assessment study before 1991 that could cost approximately $11 million. I call on the Minister of Revenue to report to this House whether that study has been given the go-ahead. The taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto deserve some indication from this Minister of Revenue.
ST NICHOLAS DAY
Mr Fleet: How much does the House know about the father of our Christmas tradition of giving gifts? Tomorrow, 19 December, is celebrated as St Nicholas Day by people of Russian and Serbian heritage. It is an important day of celebration to honour St Nicholas.
St Nicholas is believed to have been born in Lycia, Asia Minor, in the latter part of the third century, the son of wealthy parents. A devout Christian, when his parents died, St Nicholas distributed his wealth to the poor, especially children. As the Bishop for Myra, he was renowned for his gift-giving, his kindness and his charitable deeds. The annual celebration of gift-giving to children is in remembrance of him.
St Nicholas is celebrated on 6 December by people of German and Dutch ancestry, and it is the Dutch name Sinterklaas which became our Santa Claus. Undoubtedly, St Nicholas would not mind which name is used or which date is celebrated. He would, however, want us all to remember and to emulate the spirit of kindness and charity towards others which marks the true spirit of the Christmas season.
Mr Charlton: We have an opportunity here in Ontario not only to move in a new direction in terms of electrical energy, a new direction which is a direction that points directly at significantly increased energy efficiency, but also to move to provide significant assistance to an industry that is seriously threatened in Ontario by the signing last year of the free trade agreement.
This opportunity was released this morning by myself and my colleagues in the form of a proposal for a joint venture between Ontario Hydro and the major household appliance industry in Ontario. The proposal for a joint venture, which would not only provide protection for the existing jobs in the appliance industry and allow that industry a recovery which could eventually build the appliance industry in Ontario into one of the best in the world, but would also provide Ontario, and specifically Ontario Hydro, with the ability to move into significant new areas of energy efficiency as has been set out in a number of studies over the course of the last year or year and a half.
I sincerely hope that the Premier (Mr Peterson), the Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod) and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) will take heed of the proposal. It is a proposal which received significant support from the industry itself and from those who are employed in the industry.
Mrs Cunningham: A news release was issued by the Management Board of Cabinet on 9 November concerning government efforts to institute employment equity in the Ontario public service. The press release stated, and I quote, “Mr Elston told the Legislature that the Ontario public service does well in hiring aboriginal peoples, francophones, racial minorities and women in proportions reflecting their numbers in society as a whole.”
Someone should advise the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston) about the recent workforce profile survey results published in a pull-out section of the last Topical publication. Compared to the 1986 “I Count” survey, the presence of the following designated groups has decreased in percentage terms: aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, racial minorities and women. Accompanying the survey results is an article which states, “There is a disappointment in comparison of the results,” and that is for certain. That could be the biggest understatement of 1989.
Perhaps the Chairman of Management Board could find the time to review the results of his latest survey. It might cause him to carefully review them in a meaningful and resourceful manner so that in this important issue there would he meaning to his important press release.
MAY COURT CLUB
Mr Dietsch: I would like to share with the members of this House the activities of an important organization within St Catharines-Brock. This organization, the May Court Club of St Catharines, indeed promotes the spirit of the holiday season 365 days of the year.
The May Court Club’s efforts have been traditionally divided between service projects and fund-raising projects allowing them to give financial assistance and support to a varied number of local organizations. Over the year, these projects include the organization of the annual antique show and sale, the publishing of an annual cookbook, a trash and treasures sale, a charity ball and many other things. Through their efforts they have donated $30,000 to the purchase of a paratransit vehicle last year.
During the holiday season, the club holds its annual raffle to help finance some of its work throughout the year. Numerous Christmas trees are decorated with their own individual theme and given away as prizes. Another equally as important an activity is working in conjunction with associated services in St Catharines. The club purchases, sorts and distributes toys to children of less fortunate families.
I would like to ask the members of this House to join with me in congratulating the May Court Club’s president, Bonnie Day, and the countless volunteers who make this very special work possible and make St Catharines-Brock a special place in which to live.
Mr Cousens: On a point of privilege. Mr Speaker: I draw to your attention an incident that took place at 11:57 pm on Wednesday 13 December. I hereby request that the Speaker look into the circumstances that led to my being denied one of my most basic rights as a member of the Legislature, that of being heard, and the right to speak in the House on matters that are legally and properly before the House. On that night, I maintain that! was denied that most basic of rights and I would ask you to look into this matter.
This issue becomes all the more important under the new rules of the House, which have given extended powers to the Chair. If you find that I have a prima facie case of privilege, I will then move that this matter be referred to the standing committee of the Legislative Assembly for further consideration.
The Speaker: Any other members wishing to make any -- no? I have listened carefully to the member. I noted that you have something written. I would be glad to receive a copy of what you have written.
As I recall, I believe we were in committee quite a bit of the time that evening, and that took place in committee. Therefore, I would have to take a look at written Hansard and electronic Hansard, which I will do. Instant replay.
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask for unanimous consent to pay respects to the late Stanley Randall, a member of the Legislature.
The Speaker: Unanimous consent?
Mr Sterling: I would like to pay tribute today to a former member of our Legislature, Stan Randall, who died on Wednesday and whose funeral is being held this afternoon.
Stanley Randall represented the riding of Don Mills from the time it was created in 1963 until he retired from politics in 1971. As the Minister of Trade and Development, he sent a message to the world that Ontario was the place to be and greatly increased exports of Ontario products. He developed the concept of Ontario Place, the Ontario Development Corp and the Ontario Housing Corp.
His life is a success story of talent, determination and hard work. He started as a clerk and worked his way up to be president of a company, getting his bachelor of arts degree at night school along the way. He believed in getting things done and lived a rich and fulfilling life until his death at 81 years.
I extend sympathy to his wife Peggy and his family on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I rise today on behalf of the government to pay tribute to Stanley John Randall. Stan Randall, as members are aware, was member of provincial Parliament for the riding of Don Mills from 1963 until he retired in 1971. Back in those days, the riding of Don Mills contained much of the present-day York Mills, and I remember as a youth that he was the man who represented my family and my community at Queen’s Park.
Stan Randall led an interesting and some might say diverse life. His career began by selling washing machines and eventually he became president of the company that he sold for. Ultimately, he became Ontario’s Minister of Trade and Development, selling and promoting the province of Ontario. Mr Randall felt very strongly about promoting Ontario, being responsible for the slogan, “Is there any place you’d rather be?” I am sure it is a slogan all Ontarians will remember.
He was a colourful politician. He made more speeches than any three cabinet ministers and spun out his dream of Ontario with a mixture of gut wisdom, one-liners, puns and raw energy. Favourite quips included, “Progress is like a wheelbarrow; you have to give it a push,” and, “A foot in the door is worth two on the desk.”
I think what impressed me most about Mr Randall was his vision of Ontario and his positive thinking. He once said, “People have got to maintain their confidence -- there’s no quicker way to start a depression than for people to lose confidence and stop spending,” something we might think about in these days.
Stan Randall was a good politician, party politics aside. At a time when Ontario’s economy was booming and growth was the byword of the day, Mr Randall was an eminent spokesman for Ontario both at home and abroad. He was an Ontario-first promoter, being responsible for the development of Ontario Place, the Ontario Development Corp and the Ontario Housing Corp. He represented his constituents well, he represented his ministry well and I believe I can say in all sincerity that he represented Ontario well.
On behalf of my caucus and our government, Mr Speaker, please convey our deepest sympathies to the Randall family.
Mr B. Rae: I am sure Stanley Randall would appreciate hearing from those he described in my presence as economic socialist weirdos. I must say that I certainly want to support what has been said about Stan Randall by my colleagues the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) and the member for York Mills (Mr J. B. Nixon).
Stanley Randall served long before I got here, but after I was elected I had an opportunity to meet him on a number of occasions. I knew him by reputation when he was the minister of industry and trade for Ontario. He was a man of enormous energy, of great common sense and of great good humour. He represented a very different point of view and perspective on life from my own, but he was someone for whom I know many members on all sides had a great deal of affection. I know he was very well regarded by his constituents, obviously, they having returned him to this place in three elections.
I hope the Randall family will share with me the thought that given his long life and contribution to this community and to his family, we might also think of today as a day when we celebrate his life as well as mourn his passing.
The Speaker: I thank the members for their comments. When Hansard is officially printed I will make certain your words of sympathy will be sent to the Randall family.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Mr Speaker, could I also request unanimous consent of the House to pay tribute to our former colleague, Arthur Evans.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I am honoured to have been selected by our caucus to pay tribute to an old friend, Art Evans. Arthur Evans, who died last Thursday, is survived by his wife Eileen and children John, Don, Robin and Cathy. To all of them may I just simply say that we have all lost a friend.
Art was elected as the town of Bradford’s first mayor in 1960, but stepped down later that year to win a provincial by-election. Arthur Evans served his constituents of Simcoe Centre and the province of Ontario extremely well for 17 years, until stepping down before the 1977 provincial election. As well, Art served as the director of the Georgian Bay Hydro System, vice-chairman of Ontario Hydro and later a director of Ontario Hydro.
Art was a very energetic, hard-working, dedicated individual who served his people to the best of his ability and also had the time to make friends.
Art was a very successful businessman and politician. He was a member of the Bradford municipal council for several years, reeve of Bradford and a member of Simcoe county council for six years, 1953 to 1959. During this period on county council, he served as warden of Simcoe county for 1958.
When I was first elected in 1975, one of the first members to welcome me to the new world of Queen’s Park was Arthur Evans. Art and I only served together for 18 months, from 1975 to 1977, but in that time he gave me a lifetime of advice, guidance and kindness.
I will always remember Art as a true and dedicated friend, and on behalf of my caucus colleagues, and I am sure all the members who knew Art Evans, I convey to his wife Eileen and his children our sincere sympathy on the loss of this good man.
Hon Mr Ward: On behalf of the government and the Liberal caucus I would like to extend sincere sympathies to the family of Arthur Evans. As members know, he was a loyal servant of this Legislature for some 17 years, having been elected four times between 1960 and 1977. Prior to that he served his community as reeve of Bradford from 1953 to 1959. During that period members will know that his community suffered severe devastation as a result of Hurricane Hazel. I understand Mr Evans was very active in the relief work that was undertaken at that time.
Over the course of his life Mr Evans was clearly a servant of his community and his province. We all join in extending our sincere sympathies to his wife Eileen and their four children.
Mr Wildman: On behalf of our caucus I would like to extend our sympathy to the Evans family on the passing of Art Evans. I was first elected in 1975. At that time Mr Evans was reaching the end of his career here at Queen’s Park. He served until the election in 1977. It was a long career of dedicated public service in Ontario, not only for the 17 years here in the Legislature but also as a municipal politician prior to that for a total of 31 years of public service, one that all members of this House and the members of his constituency certainly appreciate.
It is interesting to note that Mr Evans had a particular interest in public utilities, having served on the Bradford Public Utilities Commission for 14 years and Georgian Bay Hydro as a director, and after his election to this House he was appointed vice-chairman of Ontario Hydro in 1971, an interesting appointment considering some of the attitudes today about members serving on those kinds of boards. Obviously Mr Evans had a sincere and ongoing interest in the matters of electric utilities in this province and the need to serve the rural areas of Ontario.
All of us in this House can appreciate the hard work of the member, who served here 17 years after many years of public service in his own community, and we appreciate the fact that he could serve his constituents that well and for so long. Along with other members of the House we extend our sincere sympathy and condolences to Art Evans’s family.
The Speaker: When Hansard is printed. I will make certain your words of sympathy are sent to the Evans family.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
PROVINCIAL COURT JUDGES
Hon Mr Elston: I am pleased to be tabling for first reading a bill dealing with compensation for Ontario provincial judges.
This bill is the result of a consultative process starting with a review and report by the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee, more commonly referred to as the Henderson committee. The bill adopts the majority of recommendations arising from that report. It also takes into account the advice of the standing committee on administration of justice resulting from that committee’s review of the Henderson report.
In an agreement with the judges prior to the establishment of the committee, the government made a commitment that all recommendations of the provincial courts committee would be given the fullest consideration and very great weight. In developing and tabling this legislation, the government has honoured that commitment.
The government initially responded to the Henderson report last spring by implementing salary increases for provincial judges. This bill introduces automatic annual salary adjustments for provincial court judges based on the increased salary levels. The provision reinforces the independence of the judiciary by ensuring annual adjustment of salaries in line with an index of average industrial wages, to a cap of seven per cent. This salary indexing provision parallels a similar provision for the federal judges.
Further, the bill provides for provincial judges’ compensation to become statutory payments from the consolidated revenue fund. This provision satisfies a major recommendation in the Henderson report.
The bill also establishes the Provincial Court Commission as a body to review and make recommendations every three years regarding judges’ compensation. This triennial review will assess the adequacy of the annual salary adjustments resulting from the legislated formula.
The provincial courts committee made a number of pension, benefit and allowance recommendations in its report and we support the majority of them.
Improvements in benefits and allowances will for the most part be reflected in a consolidated regulation to be available for review before the bill receives legislative approval. Most notably, the survivor benefit will be increased and this increase will be extended retroactively. This will ensure that present and future survivors are treated equally.
I am pleased to be able to introduce the bill later this afternoon, which with its salary and benefit changes more fully recognizes the valuable work of our provincial judges throughout the province of Ontario.
PROVINCIAL COURT JUDGES
Mr Kormos: There is a strange and rather forced self-congratulatory tone to the minister’s announcement. It is similar to the pride a used car salesman would take in his ability to roll back odometers. The government tells us it engaged in a consultative process. That may well be, but the provincial judges are not aware of it, their counsel are not aware of it and their association is not aware of it. Indeed, if there was any consultation, people listened but they did not hear.
The fact is that with more than a little bit of sleight of hand, what the minister and the government do not tell the judges or the people of Ontario is that they did not give weight or effect to the most important part of the Henderson committee’s recommendation, and that was as to what provincial judges’ salaries ought to be.
Indeed, this government circumvented the Henderson report by imposing salaries that were in significant contrast with the recommendations made by Henderson. They went through the rather futile charade of sliding the Henderson report through the standing committee on administration of justice, where with their majority of members on the justice committee, there was no listening to reason and certainly no response to the logic inherent in the Henderson report.
Judges’ salaries are but one of the serious grievances of the provincial bench in this province, grievances that are so severe that they have begun -- the government knows this full well -- to impact on the effectiveness of judging in Ontario. The government is delinquent in its response to the Henderson committee and the Henderson report. It has left Mr Henderson, I am sure, with the attitude: “Why did I go through this exercise? What an exercise in futility. Quite frankly, I’ll be damned if I’ll go through it again for these particular actors.”
This government has managed to alienate the provincial court bench. Not only has it alienated the existing bench, but it has not even begun to address some of the very basic problems inherent in the provincial bench across the province. They have not responded to the genuine and legitimate criticism that our provincial bench, those persons who administer justice on the front lines, in the first instance in most cases, are sadly lacking in terms of being representative of the communities they judge.
It is not inappropriate to ask this government, where is there adequate representation of women on this government’s provincial bench? Where is there adequate representation of native people, aboriginal people, on this provincial bench? Where is there adequate representation of people who reflect the communities they are serving?
Those representations are not there. I appreciate there is some lipservice being paid to that, but nowhere near the level of sincerity that would leave even the subtlest impression on any of us, not only in this Legislature but in communities across Ontario.
This government at the same time is hammering away at judges through its having chosen to ignore the recommendations of Henderson. It carries on and continues to ignore the plea of provincial judges for safe working conditions, not only for themselves but for those people who participate in the criminal justice system.
This government persists in its inability to provide adequate, safe courtrooms. This government persists in its refusal to accept its responsibility for policing and security in courtrooms. Rather, it shifts that responsibility on to municipalities at the same time as it reduces its funding to municipalities, so that cities and regions across Ontario that can ill afford the increased burden are being told: “Here, it’s you and your police forces that have to cope with inadequate courtroom facilities and inadequate funding on the part of the province. You have to do your very best to safeguard not just the judges, not just the crown attorneys and defence counsel but the people from communities who in good faith appear in those courts on a daily basis to assist or participate in the administration of justice in this province.”
This announcement does little, indeed it does nothing, to enhance the credibility this government has lost over the last year or year and a half. It talks about consultation. That is a bald-faced inaccuracy. There was no consultation in this instance, just as there was no consultation when it came to Bill 162 and workers’ compensation, just as there was no consultation when it came to the Sunday shopping legislation that this government botched, just as there is not going to be meaningful consultation when it comes to Bill 68 and the horrid auto insurance scheme that this government is going to impose on drivers across Ontario. Consult, my foot.
Mr Sterling: I notice, by way of just a casual observation, that the minister’s statement took approximately two and a half minutes and the response took five. I am not going to be quite as long in my response this afternoon.
I will, however, say that the process by which we determine provincial court judges’ salary, benefits and working conditions was greatly shaken in this past year and a half.
Under legislation there is a committee, the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee, which is set up to look at the various matters and its report is referred to a committee of the Legislature. It was only after the urging of our party and the New Democratic Party that the justice committee got down to its work of reviewing that particular report.
Unfortunately, the government took precipitous action prior to the legislative committee even coming out with the report. Therefore, the provincial court judges, the bench, now feel there is very little credibility left with the existing process. I only hope that this legislation will restore some of that credibility because it is not good for the government, it is not good for the opposition and it is not good for Ontario if our provincial court judges do not trust the government. That was clearly the message we were getting when the last salary revisions took place.
I only hope that by accepting some of the recommendations of the Henderson report in this legislation, we will proceed to a quieter time with our judiciary. I cannot comment on the specifics with regard to the bill. I do note in the statement by the Chairman of Management Board (Mr Elston) that he has accepted some of the recommendations of the Henderson report. I only wonder which ones he has left out.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
RESPONSE TO LETTER
Hon Mr Scott: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: On 7 December, in the debate on the motion of the honourable member for Nipigon (Mr Pouliot), the honourable member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) read into the record a press release which asserted that I had not replied to a letter from the chief of the Mushkegowuk council. The letter to me was dated 26 January 1989 and I replied to him on 29 March 1989.
The Speaker: I will have to rule that it is not a point of privilege. I believe you have corrected someone else’s record, which is not the usual practice in the House.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, I would like to try a point of privilege, if I might. On Thursday past, I rose to ask your advice on how we could protect the integrity of this House when the government was knowingly sending out incorrect information about a bill that had not yet passed the House.
In spite of the protestations of concern of the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) that day, I have now learned that a property assessment notice about school tax changes will be sent out with all the assessment notices with incorrect information on it. It ignores the right of Catholics to send their assessment to the public school system and presumes that all Catholics in business will wish to send their taxes to the separate school system. The legislation passed third reading on Thursday and was amended to distinguish between Catholics and Catholics who support the separate school system before it did.
I have been informed that the Minister of Revenue is planning on sending out the attached form, even though it is incorrect. In my view, this raises serious questions about the right of the government to knowingly circulate information which contradicts its own legislation. It is doing this because of the deadlines for circulating this information which did not match the legislative timetable established by the government House leader.
All the members of the standing committee on social development have been offended by this action, even if they do not take it personally, because it does not respect the rights of a committee to amend legislation, which in fact it did. All members of this House should be offended by the presumption that their work is being incorrectly portrayed by the dissemination of information by this government. I would ask them to investigate this matter thoroughly.
Hon Mr Conway: I just want to speak very briefly to the honourable member’s point because he quite rightly raised in this House, I believe it was on Thursday, two particular concerns. One dealt with a concern that there had been a wide circulation of some material from the Ministry of Revenue that contained some incorrect information. I indicated at that time that I would pursue that. I did. I was able to inform my friend the member for Scarborough West that it was apparently the case that a sample of a brochure had been circulated to school boards and regional assessment offices at some point last week but that there had been no general circularization of the material prior to the passage of Bills 64 and 65.
There was a second point that really arose from the first, and that was, was it the intention of the Ministry of Revenue to circulate information that somehow did not accurately reflect what the committee had done in so far as amending Bills 64 and 65 was concerned? I will let my colleague the Minister of Revenue speak to that, but it certainly was my information, gathered later that day, Thursday -- I do not know that I had an opportunity to report this back to my friend the member for Scarborough West -- that it was not the intention of the Ministry of Revenue to circulate incorrect information. I see my friend the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) has joined us. He might like to speak to that point because it falls within his departmental purview.
Mr Brandt: I want to support the point of privilege raised by the member for Scarborough West. I too raised this particular issue last week -- I believe, as well, that it was on Thursday -- with respect to both the printing and the dissemination of information which was factually incorrect.
I made the point that the minister’s bureaucrats had in fact printed thousands of these particular notifications which contained some information which was subsequently altered by the committee and that this information did receive, as the Minister of Education had indicated, a limited circularization in terms of those who were in receipt of the information, but in fact thousands upon thousands of copies of this same information were printed and ready to go, I presume simply awaiting the approval of the Minister of Revenue.
It is wrong to circulate that information prior to its being approved in its final form after being reviewed and approved by this House. I take the position that either it is bad management on the part of the minister or some of his personnel or it is a flagrant disregard, in my view, for the responsibilities that this House has with respect to that kind of legislation which does in fact have tax implications.
Hon Mr Mancini: I have listened very carefully to the comments made by my friends opposite. We have informed a number of individuals who have been interested in this matter that the flyers that were prepared, which were to be sent out today in fact, are not going to be sent out. The costs of the flyers have been exaggerated. It is unfortunate that any cost has been incurred, but the $28,000 cost that has been incurred is something that the ministry is going to have to live with.
The flyers we spoke about last week will not be sent out. We try to be ready in advance for a number of reasons, one of them being that we knew that the legislation was not going to be passed until very late and the Ministry of Education, the school boards and all of these people needed this information in order to do the important work we require of them. That is where the matter of the flyers of last week lies.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Just to clarify --
The Speaker: I do not want to get into a debate. I want to give every member an opportunity to discuss it. You have something --
Mr R. F. Johnston: A short matter. It is just that I think we are talking about two different things. There was the flyer matter, which I raised last Thursday; it has been dealt with in the fashion that has already been stated by the government members.
What I am talking about is something that is about to be placed in with all the assessment forms that go out at the beginning of the year. My information as of this morning was that the government had decided not to pull out that information because many of those articles have already been stuffed; thousands and thousands -- perhaps as many as 75 per cent -- of all those forms going out across the province have already been stuffed, and it is now impossible to take that information back.
We are now sending out information that is basically misconstruing the constitutional rights of Catholics in this province to direct their funds to the public school system if they choose to, and it is making us all seem to have passed legislation which missed that fact as well, and I am offended by that as a member.
The Speaker: I have listened very carefully, and I appreciate the member for Scarborough West putting this in writing. We have had instances in the past on points of privilege where members have not taken the time to write out their points of privilege and we have run into difficulty in examining whether or not it is a prima facie case of privilege.
I have listened to all the members very carefully, and I certainly will take a close look at it. I realize that this matter was brought up a very few days ago, and we have now received a report from the minister -- I do not know whether you did before or not -- but I will certainly look at what the members have put on the record and come back with a response.
The Speaker: Just before I call for oral questions, I would like to inform the members of the assembly that we have a visitor in the Speaker’s gallery. I would like to introduce to all members the Premier of New South Wales, Australia, the Honourable Nick Greiner. Please join me in welcoming the Premier.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. The medical officer of health in the city of Toronto reported on Thursday to the board of health that one in three kids going to school in Toronto today, Monday, is going to school hungry. We also know that one of seven families in Toronto uses food banks. I want to ask the Premier why it is not possible for the province to state categorically that 1990 will be the very last year in which food banks will be operating in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: The Minister of Community and Social Services, I think, can tell the honourable member of the initiatives this government has undertaken.
Hon Mr Beer: Certainly I do not think any member in this House can take any satisfaction from seeing the existence of food banks and indeed of poverty. Clearly what we are trying to do as a government is to develop policies and programs that will ensure that these kinds of facilities are not required.
As the honourable member knows, last spring we introduced a broad range of reforms to the social assistance system and the focus of those reforms was to try to provide increased support to sole-support parents and to children. We recognize, as I am sure anyone must, that those reforms in and of themselves -- the addition of some $400 million, still do not resolve the whole issue, and I can certainly say to my colleague that as minister I see this issue of poverty and particularly of child poverty to be one that as a government we have to expand even more efforts to try and overcome.
Mr B. Rae: The evidence of the 1980s is that poverty has grown among children dramatically, that poverty among working families has grown dramatically and that were it not for the fact that more and more women were entering the job market in this last decade, family incomes would have declined in real and absolute terms throughout the economy.
I am asking for a specific target, and I am asking the minister a specific question. I want to know why he cannot set a target, why he cannot stand up in this House and say that, as far as the government of Ontario is concerned, there will be no food banks in operation after 1990, because the situation will have changed sufficiently that families will not have to go down and ask for cans of food for free because they do not have any other way of feeding their kids. Why cannot we do that?
Hon Mr Beer: I can certainly give the honourable member the commitment that I will do everything I can, and I believe this government will, to ensure that we lessen as quickly as possible the need for food banks. In the changes that we brought in, I think it is terribly important to focus on one of the critical elements of the Thomson report, on which so much of our program was based, which is to try to ensure that we can get money through changes in the amounts we provide for basic needs for basic shelter. As the honourable member knows, in January a substantial reform to shelter will be brought into place, as will a six per cent increase in terms of basic needs.
That is where I think we have to really focus our attention to get funding to those who are in need so that there will be more money in the pockets of parents for their children, for food, If we can look a year from now and see that we have made a significant impact in lessening the need for food banks, I do not think anyone in this House would be happier than myself --
The Speaker: Thank you. That seemed like a fairly full response.
Mr B. Rae: At the same time as we learn and discover the extent of the real poverty that is in our midst, the front page of the business section of the Toronto Star last week tells us, for example, that Canadian chief executives’ pay averages $429,000. At the same time, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) is taking $60 million out of the pockets of people who are making less than $10,000 a year. That is just how rotten this government is in terms of income distribution and in terms of what it is doing for fairness.
The minister has not been prepared to say there will be no food banks after 1990. I want him to tell me the answer to this simple question: How many people does he expect will be using food banks in December 1990? What is his target?
Hon Mr Beer: I think that the commitment the government made in terms of the changes last spring, and which we have been implementing, demonstrate the direction that we are moving. We have, I repeat, tried to put those funds in the hands of the people who need them, and we are going to keep addressing the agenda, if you like, that was set out in the Thomson report, the Transitions document. If we continue to do that, and I believe that we will, I am sure that it will have an impact on the need for food banks. That is the goal we have set for ourselves, and we are going to continue to work towards that.
The commitment of my predecessor to try to eradicate the causes of poverty, I think is clear, as is the change in terms of the dollars that we have been putting into this whole area, and we are going to continue to do that. Poverty is simply not something that any of us is willing to accept, and we are going to do our utmost to try to meet that goal and to end the reason for food banks.
Mr B. Rae: My next question is to one of the ministers who is responsible for creating this mess, and that is the Minister of Housing. Shelter costs, and the fact that shelter costs have exploded, are one of the major reasons why so many people are suffering today. Just around the corner from this place, at 44 Walmer Road, tenants have been faced with a double whammy, thanks to Liberal rent review. First of all, they have been told that their rents will be going up in perpetuity by at least five per cent because of the so-called financial loss section, their building having been sold for the umpteenth time, in 1988, for over $5.3 million.
I wonder if the minister can tell us when he will finally recognize that the financial loss provisions of his rent review law are driving a truck through any protection the tenants might have when it comes to their own rents. When is he going to realize that?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will be aware of the fact that in 1986 there was a change in the legislation, and part of the consultation process that preceded that change was to get a group of landlords and a group of tenants together to find ways in which they could agree as to what should be incorporated into the change. The five per cent financial loss was part of that advisory committee’s agreement to be built into the legislation.
Mr B. Rae: In addition to the one whammy, which is the financial loss provision, the second whammy is the fact that the tenants not only have been told by the Rent Review Hearings Board that they are going to have to pay for financial loss for the next five years, they have also just been served with notice of a 21 per cent increase for 1989 that is based on capital expenditures, including salmon-coloured marble imported from Italy for the lobby.
When is the minister going to give tenants the right to say to the landlord: “We don’t want your salmon-coloured marble. We’d rather have windows that close properly and rents we can afford than pink marble in the lobby”? When is he going to do that?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I concur with the honour-able member that the particular incident he referred to does not seem to be an appropriate one.
The member is aware of the fact that just in the last few weeks I have consulted with both the tenants’ association and the landlords’ association to come up with a process with respect to repairs and renovations. I would suggest that we are fairly close to coming to a decision on that. One of the distinctions we are quite prepared to make is that all repairs or renovations that have to do with the integrity of the building would go forward but others would be a matter of discussion between tenants and landlords.
Mr B. Rae: As of 30 November, 250,000 tenants have been awarded rent increases under rent review of nearly 11 per cent -- 1O.9 per cent. The reason for these increases, well over the rate of inflation and well over the so-called allowable amount, is financial loss and capital expenditure.
I want to ask the minister, is he prepared to introduce amendments to the law which will protect tenants when it comes to financial losses and when it comes to unnecessary changes to a building, which tenants are having to pay for and which they cannot afford?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I thought I had just indicated to the honourable member that we are working on a process right now to deal with the question of repairs which affect the integrity of the building and renovations which may not. One of the sections we are prepared to come forward with is individual unit reviews.
However, I would point out to my honourable friend that, for the last number of years, the average number of units that have gone to rent review has been between 10 and 11 per cent, which suggests that almost 90 per cent of all the units in the province have been able to settle their increases outside of the rent review process, and I think that is reasonably good.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Premier and it relates to Ontario Hydro.
The situation with respect to power shortages in the province is really quite intolerable, as the Premier is aware. There are some industries in Ontario which are required to close on a rotating basis because of shortages of power. Citizens of Ontario are being advised now that they should have their Christmas lights on for only a very short period of time.
It appears that this is either extremely poor management or the beginning of a public relations ploy on the part of Hydro to have the report that they are supposed to be releasing tomorrow with respect to energy demands accepted by the people of Ontario, irrespective of what the alternatives may be that are in that report. I wonder if the Premier could tell me whether he is satisfied with this whole question as it relates to power shortages in the province.
Hon Mr Peterson: Perhaps the Minister of Energy can tell the honourable member why he is wrong.
The Speaker: The question has been referred to the Minister of Energy.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I have had opportunities earlier in this House to respond to the concern about the short-term stresses on the electricity supply in Ontario. I would like to address specifically the honourable member’s suggestion that the current stresses may in some way be a ploy on the part of Ontario Hydro. I would like to assure him that I am absolutely satisfied that Ontario Hydro takes very seriously its mandate to provide reliable electricity to the consumers in Ontario. There are some short-term stresses on the system because of very high, record, peak demands and because of some unanticipated as well as some planned shortages, but in fact Ontario Hydro is doing its utmost to meet those short-term demands.
Mr Brandt: First, I do not think it should come as a surprise to the minister that in the month of December there are people who have traditionally, for a long period of time, since electricity was first invented, turned on Christmas lights. Second, the month of December in Ontario has historically been a relatively cold month. This all comes, it appears, as a surprise to Ontario Hydro. Interestingly enough, other jurisdictions have excess power which they are able to supply to Ontario during this time of shortage for our province.
Can the minister indicate why all of these things would come to a head so quickly, when for the last number of years her government has been aware of the demand line, which would suggest we are pretty well in the position we expected to be in in terms of demand for electricity at this point in time? How come it is such a surprise to the minister?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think if we were to look at the record of Ontario Hydro in meeting its commitment to reliable supply of electricity, that record would compare favourably with any jurisdiction which the member might want to draw a comparison with.
I am not sure that the current peaks come as a surprise, although certainly the rate of growth in our electricity consumption has grown at levels that were perhaps not totally predicted earlier. It is a concomitant of our economic growth, which has also been very strong and very significant in recent years. There are also, of course, some delays in a major source of electricity generation through the Darlington plants coming on stream. I think members of this House are well aware that those delays are directly related to the absolute assurance that is required for the safety considerations in bringing that plant into operation.
Certainly, Hydro is planning to meet the demands. Part of the short-term interruptions are in order to assure that there will not be unplanned outages and interruptions to consumers.
Mr Brandt: It appears that the government is simply lunging from crisis to crisis as it relates to power supply. We now have the completely intolerable decision made by Ontario Hydro that as a result of the threshold levels established by the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) on sulphur dioxide emissions in Ontario for Ontario Hydro, the government in fact is now going to be importing dirty electricity from the state of Ohio, with extremely high sulphur dioxide emissions. I want to suggest that as a former minister, I am well aware that those particular emissions are going to land on Ontario soil and are going to aggravate the acid rain problem. This is simply another method of purchasing power, when the government should be supplying its own power to this province.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Brandt: How can the minister accept the fact that she is now forced -- and that is the only word I can use -- into a corner where she has no other option but to buy dirty electricity from Ohio?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I am sure the honourable member, because of his earlier responsibilities, will be well aware that the interconnection agreement to purchase hydro power from Michigan was established many years ago and was only, in fact, renewed some two years ago in order to meet short-term shortages in electricity supply.
In terms of planning and crisis reaction, I would submit to the members of this House that perhaps there has never been a more focused effort at long-term planning to meet electricity demands. Members are well aware that Ontario Hydro will be submitting its long-term plans tomorrow and that this government is absolutely committed to ensuring that all our electricity planning is done in a context of review of environmental concerns, which is why we have set up the environmental assessment review process to review all future electricity plans for the province.
Mr Brandt: I directed my question previously at the issue of Ohio electricity, not Michigan electricity.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Brandt: My next question is to the Premier, hoping that the Premier may want to answer this question, although it does fall in another ministry and he can, of course, transfer the question over. We noticed on Sunday that page after page of advertisements have indicated that stores are going to be open on Sunday. They are advertising quite freely and rather flagrantly that they are breaking the law, To protect themselves, there are other stores which really have no other choice but to protect their market share by following the lead of other retail establishments and staying open as well.
An internal memo that was circulated by Bargain Harold’s, one of the retail establishments in Ontario, indicates that it has plans to open on Christmas eve, which is a Sunday I would remind the Premier, but it says, “All retailers are waiting to see if the government will take a stand.” They are not talking about the municipalities; they are talking about the government of Ontario. Is the Premier prepared to take a stand to clarify exactly what the government is prepared to do on illegal Sunday openings?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Attorney General can help out my honourable friend.
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, at Christmastime, particularly, there is considerable interest by some retailers in opening their stores on Sunday so that they can sell goods, and there is some interest by citizens in shopping on Sunday. Indeed, it was only a year ago that the honourable member himself was shopping on Sunday at Port Huron just before Christmas. The point is the matter is that --
Mr Brandt: There is no law against it in Port Huron. What kind of nonsense is that?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member is getting enormously defensive, and the fact that he shops on Sunday does not make him unique. It makes the question a little difficult to deal with, but it does not make him unique.
What I want to emphasize is that we have said from the beginning that where local municipal police forces lay charges, our crown attorneys will vigorously prosecute those charges. I will also tell the honourable member that 10 days ago we notified those regional municipalities that had commenced proceedings for an injunction that we would support their applications when they cared to bring them.
Mr Brandt: The minister is well aware that the current situation is a total mess. The municipalities are upset with it, the retailers are upset with it. The government is absolutely paralysed into inaction on this whole matter. It has done nothing to assist either the municipalities or the retailers to try to bring some semblance of sanity to the kind of confusion that is out there at the moment. Is the minister satisfied that in this province of Ontario in 1989, stores will be open on Christmas eve, which is a Sunday?
Hon Mr Scott: I understand that many are dissatisfied with the situation. I dare say that as the stores are closed in Port Huron, I believe, I am sure the honourable member is dissatisfied that he will have to shop on Sunday somewhere else. But the point I want to make is that the law is clear. There has been nothing to attack the clarity of the law. We have indicated that when municipal authorities, who alone have the responsibility, lay appropriate charges, we will prosecute those charges as vigorously as possible.
We have also indicated to those municipalities that have expressed a desire to seek an injunction that we will support them when they are prepared to proceed. For example, on 7 December I phoned the regional chairman of Metropolitan Toronto, whose case had run into Mr Justice Potts, and I said, “If you want our name and our help, you can have it.” He is giving the matter consideration, as are the people in Halton and Peel, and when they are ready to proceed, as they are entitled to do under section 8, we have pledged our support to them and they will get it.
Mr Brandt: I have to say, with respect, to the Attorney General that this is not clear. The determination to enforce the law, either on behalf of or in co-operation with the municipalities is also not clear. What he has is a real mess as a result of the kind of legislation that his government brought forward.
I want the Attorney General to be aware that both opposition parties, unlike the government, have very clearly gone on record indicating their opposition to Sunday openings. They have very clearly gone on record as asking the government -- in fact, demanding of the government -- that it bring in comprehensive legislation that will control store hours for Sunday openings. Is he prepared to stand in his place on behalf of the government and indicate very clearly to the people of Ontario that he and the government he represents are opposed to Sunday openings? Will he give that clear message, at the very least?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the position of the government was made plain when the framework law was passed by the House in the last session. It permits a local option, which has not yet taken place under the new law. We are satisfied that that law is a responsible, flexible, fair response to the competing interests and needs of Ontarians all the way from Fort Frances in the west to Hawkesbury in the east. I do not understand, and maybe the honourable member does, why the people who live in Sault Ste Marie, who are in desperate commercial competition with their friends and neighbours in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, should submit to the same rules as, for example, the people of Ottawa.
But I want to tell the honourable member, at this season of the year -- because he could not count last year, when he went shopping on Sunday at Port Huron -- that under our law there are only six more shopping days.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Attorney General. He will know that under section 8 of the law, he has the authority, where he finds there is a pattern across the province, or for whatever reason, to himself make application to bring an injunction against stores that are breaking the law.
The reports are that four grocery chains were able to open 52 stores in several regions across the province and that many others are now thinking of getting into the game for their own commercial reasons. I want to ask the Attorney General, does he not think that the law, in fact, gives him not only the power but the responsibility to take those four chains to court, from a provincial standpoint, and say, “This is not simply a regional issue in Halton or in Peel or in Niagara or in Metropolitan Toronto or anywhere; it is a problem across southern Ontario.” In this instance, why not bring a comprehensive injunction against those companies?
Hon Mr Scott: There appear to be four regions to which the honourable member has referred. In three of those four regions, injunction proceedings have already been taken by the municipal council, and I gather injunction proceedings are being considered in the fourth. We have indicated to the three that have already moved that we will support their application and be present when it is argued to lend our support. It would be idle and wasteful to duplicate those proceedings which have already been undertaken.
Mr B. Rae: Let me ask this simple question. When those companies trumpeted to the entire world, not yesterday, not last week, but several weeks ago, why did he not stop them in their tracks? Why did he not bring the application several weeks ago so that we would not now be in the situation where not just a few stores but hundreds of stores were open yesterday -- not all of them were charged -- and where the Attorney General’s failure to uphold and to enforce the law and to carry out injunctions has, in fact, brought the law into disrepute? Why was he not there several weeks ago?
Hon Mr Scott: This is revisionist history. As the honourable member will know, the regional municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto, Peel and Halton commenced applications for injunctions on their own, without notice, reference or inquiry of us. One of them, the regional municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, had a preliminary ruling from Mr Justice Potts. We indicated by telephone and by letter on 7 December that if that municipality wished to renew its application for an injunction, we would lend our name to it and support it by our presence and by argument.
The municipality has been giving consideration to that request and apparently has now decided to act on it. We have made a similar offer to the other municipalities which have brought applications for injunction.
Mr Jackson: Mr Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini), who, I believe, has just stepped out. Could you please invite him to the House?
The Speaker: It is difficult for me to invite anyone into the House. However, there might be someone with another question to another minister.
PEOPLE WITH BRAIN INJURIES
Mrs Cunningham: My question is for the Minister of Health. The Ontario head injury association sponsored public provincial hearings on the status of wellness opportunities for residents with traumatic brain injury in April of this year. This report was submitted to cabinet in the fall, and I am certain she has taken the time to review this report and the recommendations.
There are 33 recommendations in this particular report, and the key recommendation has to do with the consumer information support system. In fact, there is one now that is supported by the American government. The United States government supports the information system that we now have in Ontario.
I know that she is aware their funding is running out at the end of this month, and my question today is, when will the minister let the Ontario head injury association know of her commitment to this particular program, the only program, which will run out this month?
Hon Mrs Caplan: First, I would like to say to the member opposite that I am very well aware of her interest in this matter, from both a personal perspective as well as that of a member of this Legislature. I would say that I understand the difficulties that are faced by families in the situation of dealing particularly with family members and friends who have experienced head injuries.
The ministry recognized some time ago the need for additional services. In fact, we are working with our colleagues to improve services. I met recently with the association and representatives thereof and I see today Ray Rempel here in the gallery and want to welcome him here to the Legislature. I know as well that he is meeting with probably one of the strongest advocates in this government for the head-injured, and that is the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Ms Collins).
I want to say to the member opposite that we are making progress, that there is more that still needs to be done, but in fact we are working together to achieve our goal of appropriate care for those people with head injury in the province.
Mrs Cunningham: We are very pleased, of course, that she is aware of what is happening. She knows, as well as the rest of the members in this House, that there were extensive public hearings and there are some 33 recommendations, but the fact is that right now hardly any of these recommendations can be acted on. The basic building block is the information system that is in place. No one would have thought for a moment that the only system that is in place would be lost and right now that is funded by the American government. We need to know if the basic information system for families and friends and community members and the head-injured population will be in place on 1 January. The only way it can be in place is if this government supports it. Will the minister be supporting it on 1 January?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Today, I cannot be specific about any aspects of programs for the future. I can say how proud I am of the initiatives that we have taken to date. In December 1987, for example, we designated Hamilton Chedoke McMaster Hospital as a provincial resource -- and let me stress provincial resource -- for those with acquired brain damage, and some $3.9 million was provided for this purpose.
I acknowledge that there is much to do and that we are working in co-operation with all of those who have an interest, with my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer), as well as with the advocate within government, the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons, to ensure that we are sensitive to the needs of people and their families and their friends who require these services and that in due course, as appropriate, we will be as responsive as we can to ensuring appropriate and optimal care for the people in this province.
Ms Hošek: My question is to the Minister of Skills Development. Since the free trade agreement has come into effect, many Ontario companies have either closed or cut jobs:
Dofasco in northern Ontario and Nortel in Brampton; Arnold Manufacturing in Windsor and Duomatic/Olsen in Tilbury; John Deere in Welland and Lear Siegler in Kitchener; Libbey St Clair in Wallaceburg and Trailmobile in Brantford. There are many, many others; there is a much longer list than that.
I would like to ask the minister the following question: In the light of the devastating economic effects on the working lives of men and women in Ontario, what is our government doing to assist them in developing new skills? What are we doing to make training programs available for people who work in industries that face this major change?
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Oakwood raises a very good point in her excellent question. I can tell her that the government of Ontario has taken a number of steps over the last couple of years to deal with not just the free trade agreement but the very real changes in our global economy in the area of public policy in Ontario.
For example, my colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) has negotiated a program for older worker adjustment. We in the Ministry of Skills Development have specific programs, like Transitions, to assist the incumbent workforce that is facing this kind of pressure to meet the challenge of the future.
Hon Mr Conway: My friends opposite point out that more needs to be done, and of course more will be done. In the area of new technologies, for example, the Premier’s Council has, over the last few years, invested very substantial new resources to effect a better synergy between our universities and the private sector, to ensure that we are going to be competent in those new technologies, because we do know that in those areas there are going to be very considerable opportunities.
In elementary and secondary education, we are undertaking specific new initiatives to ensure that the young people who are going to be the workforce of tomorrow are going to have the skills that they are going to require to meet that challenge as well.
Ms Hošek: My specific concern is the whole question of what happens to the real people out there who lose their jobs. A good number of those people, of course, are women. I would like to know what our government is going to do to make sure not only that all the people who need to have their skills revised for the new world of work, but in particular women, get their needs met so that they are allowed to learn in the style that suits them.
Hon Mr Conway: Through a variety of initiatives, everything from improvements to our student assistance initiatives to the acceptance of the so-called Social Assistance Review Committee report through to increasing the opportunities for women in the nontraditional areas like trades and technology, through to elementary and secondary educational efforts in terms of awakening women, and particularly educators, to the opportunities for women in many of the nontraditional areas, we have tried, and we will continue to endeavour, to effect not just educational initiatives, but also social policy, because in the case of women we know very well that good social policy is going to be required to buttress the efforts of ministries like the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Skills Development, to name but two.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Allen: To the Minister of Community and Social Services: Poor children run at least double the risk for about every life risk that one can imagine. It shows in their psychological and their behavioural disorders, in their rate thereof relative to other parts of the population of children.
At the same time, after years of poor funding, children’s mental health centres that exist to serve these children are themselves the poor children of health care. They cannot compete for staff, high turnover rates disrupt treatment, waiting lists grow and quality is dropping. If the government will not tackle child poverty head on, it has to pay the consequences. When is it going to provide the full resources necessary to help children’s mental health centres help poor kids deal with the mental and emotional consequences of being poor?
Hon Mr Beer: I can say to my honourable friend that I, as I am sure he and other members have in the last few weeks, have been meeting with representatives of children’s mental health centres, both in my riding and elsewhere, around some of the very real issues and problems that they are facing. A number of meetings have taken place between members of my staff and representatives of the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres, and I will also be meeting with them early in the new year.
I think what we are doing is identifying clearly the major issues -- and they have asked that we do this -- that they are facing and then to work with them in trying to ensure that we can get on top of those particular problems. I think we recognize very clearly -- and that is reflected in our report Better Beginnings, Better Futures -- the impact that poverty has on children’s mental health. That has to be a priority area for this ministry.
Mr Allen: The issue is pretty clear and ought not to take a lot of consultation. It deals with the problem of community-based agencies and the funding levels they receive. That is the reason why these agencies are noncompetitive, the root of their staff turnover problems, the declining service, the long waiting list that kids have to suffer while they are waiting to be treated. The result is child/youth workers, for example, get 6.5 per cent to 47 per cent less than comparable staff in related agencies. Professional staff -- social workers, psychometrists and psychologists -- are 5.5 to seven per cent behind social service agencies, they are 12 to 17 per cent behind health-funded positions and they are 28 per cent behind their counterparts in boards of education. It is no wonder they cannot get staff, it is no wonder they cannot keep up the service.
The Premier’s council has laid on the minister the responsibility of eliminating these gaps. When is he going to do it, so disturbed poor kids can secure good treatment when they need it?
Hon Mr Beer: I think it is important to note that over the last three to four years we have increased our funding for children’s mental health centres, from some $105 million to $160 million. Even with that, we recognize that there are still issues related to a number of the points which the honourable member has raised. But the way to resolve those is going to be looking at the whole area of services to children and working in concert not only with children’s mental health centres, but with children’s aid societies and others that are providing specific help to young people. This we are committed to do.
We look at all of these services as being integrated and that the solution we will come to will be one that is going to involve a number of ministries. But clearly, I think if the member looks at the funding over the last couple of years, if you look at the direction that is in the report Better Beginnings, Better Futures and the work of our own Advisory Committee on Children’s Services, there is a framework there whereby we will work out a number of these issues and be able to work co-operatively with the children’s mental health centres and have a real impact on the kids they serve.
Mr Jackson: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. Last Thursday it was brought to the minister’s attention -- apparently, according to Hansard, for the very first time -- that erroneous and misleading assessment notices were being sent out through his ministry. The minister will be aware that this is a matter of substance since it deals with the recent change in legislation under Bill 64, which divides commercial-industrial assessment between separate and public school boards. The error that was brought to his attention would in effect, if gone unchecked, represent a further loss of revenue to public school boards in this province.
Given that the minister assured this House four days ago in Hansard that he would stand in his place and report to this House, I would invite him to do that. Given that he has now discovered a second erroneous notice, I would ask him to clarify now for this House how many notices were published, how many, if any, were sent and what he is prepared to do about it.
Hon Mr Mancini: The honourable member is incorrect. We have not prepared assessment notices which are incorrect. I tried to make that clear to him last week. What the honourable member is talking about, so that the members of the House can understand, is a flyer, which the officials in the ministry had prepared, that we were going to send to the 400,000 or so clients advising them that a very important assessment notice was coming and that they should be watching for this particular notice. I said earlier in the House today -- I was very clear about it -- that the flyers in fact had not gone out to the vast general public. As a courtesy they had gone out to the regional assessment offices and the school boards because they would be requested to, and indeed they would have to, answer questions. Those flyers have not gone out. I have held up their mailing and they will not be used, as I said earlier today.
Mr Jackson: I think it is the minister’s information which is quite incorrect. We have given him a copy of his notice. That was given to him on Thursday. What we brought into the House today to give him was an actual copy of the notice which is given to business and corporation assessment payers in this province. This form has room for a signature, to print its name, the designation of whether the company is a publicly traded company or not. That is what we have demonstrated with an actual copy of in this House. It is the minister’s lack of awareness of what is going on in his ministry which is at stake here.
Now, if the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) has wrongly advised him of what amendments were being made it could be understood, because the Minister of Revenue was not present for this committee’s deliberations on Bill 64. But that excuse aside, when will the minister resolve the central point as to whether or not all notices that contain this information will be withdrawn and that he will publicly state how many will be destroyed and how many will be --
The Speaker: Order. You are trying to get four supplementaries in there.
Hon Mr Mancini: As gently as I can, the honourable member is wrong again. The insert to the real assessment notices that the honourable member is pointing to basically allows for partnerships and businesses and corporations to make initial contact with the ministry. Then this initial contact is followed up -- by phone, by open houses and by a number of other ways -- to ensure that what the businesses want to do is what the Ministry of Revenue does as far as how they wish to direct their property taxes.
Mrs O’Neill: My question is to the Minister of Health. My question focuses on the provision of health services for women. She no doubt well remembers the 1988 report of the Advisory Committee on Reproductive Care. Can she update us on what initiatives her ministry has taken in this area?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to thank the member for the question. In fact, the contribution of the Advisory Committee on Reproductive Care has been significant, as has been our response. As the member knows, the goal of the reproductive care committee was to improve the health status of mothers and their babies. We declared maternal and newborn health as a priority for the ministry. We have announced innovative programming, some $1.5 million for a health promotion pilot program which offers social and emotional support to low-income and teenage mothers.
The reproductive care report also, she should know, was responsive to both low-risk as well as --
Mr Jackson: You won’t bring up about the lady whose baby died in an airplane when she left St Catharines for London. The baby died in midair. You know it. You won’t bring that up.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Burlington South, do you think you can really control yourself?
Mr Jackson: I am working on it.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would point out to the member and to all members of the House that 85 per cent of all of the births in Ontario are as a result of low-risk maternal care. The member knows that we are world leaders, and the recent perinatal statistics from that report indicate a decrease in mortality, as well as low birth-weight rates, for Ontario. The member should be aware as well that the report recommended that one high-risk centre was required in Ottawa, and we moved to implement that recommendation as well.
Mrs O’Neill: From time to time we hear of mothers who must travel for specialized care services. Will the minister please tell us what she is doing to ensure that women are getting the care they need as close to home as possible?
Mr Jackson: Bring up the St Catharines death.
Mrs O’Neill: I think this member to my right has suggested he is trying to get himself under control. I hope he is continuing.
Hon Mrs Caplan: One of the initiatives which I think is particularly significant is that we have offered alternative payment methods for physicians who work in paediatric subspecialities, because in fact they have been discriminated against by traditional Ontario Medical Association fee-scheduling practices. As well, we have established a computerized bed registry which links all of the high-risk centres across the province and we have appointed a maternal and child care co-ordinator, Nancy Shosenberg, with the mandate to organize an expert team of health professionals to assess the province’s perinatal system.
We have as well, I am quite proud to say, established a multidisciplinary team with the goal and the mandate to try to improve the health outcomes for women of child-bearing age at the same time as reducing the rate of caesarean section across the province to a more acceptable level. The goal is 15 per cent over two years, but the other side of that goal is improved health outcomes for the women of this province. Maternal and child health is a priority.
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Solicitor General. Could the Solicitor General explain why, despite the fact that the Race Relations and Policing Task Force recommended that a tripartite task force on native justice be created and be in operation by April 1990, and the Ontario Native Council on Justice in June 1989 voted in favour of the recommendation and expressed willingness to participate, native organizations, such as the Union of Ontario Indians, have yet to be contacted by anybody in the provincial government about participating?
Hon Mr Offer: The member will be aware that approximately four, five or six weeks ago, on behalf of the government, I made a response to the Lewis task force report, a very comprehensive report which dealt with a number of issues dealing with policing and race relations.
The member is quite right when he brings forward the whole question of first nations communities and the whole issue of policing. I think it is important for the member to realize that in March 1989 the previous Solicitor General, who is the member for London North (Mrs E. J. Smith), signed an agreement for first nations policing in Ontario. This document marked the beginning of a transition period during which first nations will be taking over aspects of policing.
As the member will be aware, there is a specific agreement at the Six Nations reserve, whereby policing is being taken over, in dealing with responsibility and obligation by the Six Nations people.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Offer: I believe that this particular agreement, together with the example that we are seeing through the Six Nations, is an example for many to follow and something which we are working to --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Wildman: He does not want to quit.
It is, I suppose, understandable that the Solicitor General would specifically single out policing, but he would know that the task force was not talking about just policing in the setting up of the tripartite group to look into native justice. It is looking into the whole court system, the way of dealing with offences and penalties.
In light of the statement by the Attorney General (Mr Scott) last week about the government’s willingness to negotiate Indian self-government, can the Solicitor General explain when this tripartite commission will be set up and operating and when the native organizations will be consulted about its membership, so that we can move to really establish Indian self-government in regard to the justice system?
Hon Mr Offer: I can comment by specifically talking about the whole issue of first nations and policing and indicating that on that particular issue we have recently completed and executed renewals of those agreements of March 1989, which I believe provide an important example for many to follow in dealing with the specific issue of policing and first nations.
Certainly part of my response to the Lewis task force report was to establish a greater community liaison between the police community and the general community. I believe there is a great deal of work to do. It was just recently that I visited Thunder Bay and had some very important and very fruitful discussions with representatives in that area about how best we can make certain that the police community is sensitive to the needs and responsive to the wants of the general community and how the general community can provide an input as to --
The Speaker: Thank you. I wonder if the Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod) could help unwind him.
Mr Cureatz: I have a question to the Minister of Correctional Services. As the minister is well aware, over the past little while we have been after the ministry, concerned about overcrowding, transportation, facilities. We had visited the Don Jail. We are very pleased about the minister’s announcement a couple of weeks ago to try to alleviate some of these problems.
More particularly, in my municipality, the region of Durham, and in the riding of Durham Centre, an inspection panel had investigated the Whitby Jail. The results of the inspection panel are as follows: that the jail should be condemned, that it is overcrowded, potentially dangerous and outlived its usefulness. A lot of people throughout the region of Durham who are associated with the facility or are working in the facility or are placed in the facility are concerned about the old facility.
Would the minister indicate to us in this Legislature and to the people in the region of Durham if he is going to be instituting any of the recommendations under the panel?
Hon Mr Patten: The member should know that our officials take these reports very seriously. In each instance where a panel visits an institution of ours and drafts a report, it is sent to our ministry. This one, as the member knows, is fairly recent. Our officials at the moment are studying the particular recommendations of the panel.
I might add for the member’s interest, because I believe it is in his riding, that this particular institution is part of a 15-year capital plan that we have in our ministry and it is high on the list. I cannot, at this particular point, identify a specific date for the expansion of the facility, except to tell him that we are aware of the importance of needing more space in that institution and we are doing our utmost to promote that cause.
Mr Cureatz: In conjunction with the overcrowding, it has also been learned that a number of inmates are being transferred in a school bus, being accompanied of course by the driver, a civilian driver, and one guard. In the minister’s review of the panel’s recommendations, would he be so kind as to indicate to this Legislature that the specific problems of transferring inmates, which have been brought to his attention before, will be examined?
Will the minister give us some assurance that at least that aspect can be alleviated slightly? Instead of looking at the whole jail problem immediately, will he at least alleviate the concerns people have about transferring inmates in school buses with only a civilian driver and one guard?
Hon Mr Patten: The member says there is a problem with transfers, but I do not know what the problem is. We transfer inmates from time to time for a variety of reasons. We transfer offenders who have different classifications in our institutions, meaning that some have more serious crimes than others. The member well knows that the offenders we have who are sentenced in our particular institutions are not the violent mass murderers or that kind of ilk. As a matter of fact, they go to the federal institutions.
When we talk about intermittent sentenced offenders, these are people who have perhaps not paid a fine; they are people who have perhaps driven a car under the influence for the third time after a warning; they are people who may be involved in shoplifting or offences of that nature. These are not people who are a violent threat of any kind. I think the member well knows that. They are transferred. It saves us money so that we can take some of that money and invest it in the staff that is needed because of some of the pressures of overcrowding.
NIAGARA RIVER WATER QUALITY
Mr Dietsch: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. The minister will be only too well aware of the ongoing concerns about the Niagara River by many individuals, especially those in the St Catharines-Brock riding. It has been three years since the signing of the four-party accord, which was designated to address the problem of industrial discharge into the Niagara River. I would like the minister to give this House an update on the activities Ontario is undertaking in this regard.
Hon Mr Bradley: The member has had an ongoing interest in this, both as a municipal representative and as a provincial representative. He will be pleased to know that in fact Ontario municipal industrial discharges have been reduced. According to a report that we put out earlier this month, the toxic discharges into the Niagara River have been reduced by 64 per cent in the last two years.
In addition to that, sampling conducted by the ministry in 1988-89 shows, if we take into consideration the loadings in the 1984 Niagara River report, that in fact the loadings have been reduced 85.5 per cent since that report was produced. An industry such as Atlas steels, the only Canadian source among the top 10 contributors to the river, has cut its discharges by 30 per cent since 1986-87, and the company has reduced its pollution by 87.6 per cent from the 1984 levels.
Other loadings that have been reduced are at Fleet manufacturing, Cyanamid of Canada in the Falls and Cyanamid in Welland. All substantial decreases in the Canadian --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Dietsch: I certainly appreciate hearing the positive steps that are being contributed by Ontario industries but, as the minister well knows, the Niagara River is an international waterway and this is a multiparty agreement and it involves the United States. I would appreciate hearing your views on the action taken thus far by the United States.
Hon Mr Bradley: I should point out that United States representatives were there as we turned the shovel for the upgrading of the Anger Avenue sewage treatment plant, and I am pleased to report that in fact a 91.4 per cent decrease has been recorded in the contaminants from Fort Erie’s Anger Avenue plant from 1986-87 to 1988-89, which is a substantial decrease.
On the American side, they have had some significant decreases in the point source part of their problem, but of course the main problem lies with the toxic waste dumps which are located near the Niagara River. We will continue to pursue, as we do either through the court or through various other activities, each of the remedial action plans that are taking place on the American side. We will continue the pressure, of course, as we have in the past.
Members of the House will remember that it was Ontario that held out for the tough, specific agreement on the Niagara River. We are now beginning to see the results, but there is a lot more that still has to be done.
The Speaker: I see three conversations going on over here. I am just afraid to ask any other member to ask questions.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Education with respect to Bill 66, the Teachers’ Pension Act.
The Speaker: Order. Perhaps I might ask the member for Mississauga South to take her seat. There is a question being asked to the Minister of Education.
Mrs Marland: I am sorry.
Mr Morin-Strom: The Minister of Education has proclaimed for a number of months now that he is willing in this bill to negotiate the possibility of either joint control or member control over the teachers’ pension plan. However, as we have come to the end of the committee consideration of this bill, the minister has made it quite clear that in fact joint control means the government has the final say on all decisions having to do with the teachers’ pension plan in the province of Ontario.
Has the minister reconsidered his position that obstinate refusal to have a dispute settlement mechanism will be the stumbling block that prevents the achievement of a joint control plan for the teachers’ pensions in the province?
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my good friend the member for Sault Ste Marie for both his interest and his question. I would like to take this brief moment to summarize the government’s position with respect to this very important matter of pension policy.
The government of Ontario has said that as far as this very good pension plan is concerned, the government is prepared to seriously consider one of three alternatives for the management of the plan. The teachers of Ontario have said throughout the piece that they are, like the government, most interested in a partnership model. But the government has indicated that we cannot accept, as part of any partnership, a mechanism for dispute resolution that involves compulsory, binding arbitration, because as the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has said, it would be unfair to the taxpayers, who have an enormous interest and obligation in this multibillion-dollar account, to surrender the kind of responsibilities that would be involved to an outside third party.
The teachers have said they are not ready for a member-run plan at this point; the government has said that we are very interested in partnership, but not a partnership that involves final or compulsory binding arbitration as dispute resolution. Therefore, we are left at this moment with a decision to make and, on the basis of what the teachers have said and what the government has indicated, it must be a government-sponsored plan for the moment.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Elston moved first reading of Bill 100, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: The minister gave an explanation earlier.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PUBLIC SERVICE PENSION ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I believe we have a deferred vote.
The Speaker: That is correct. There is a deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act. Therefore, I have no choice but to call in the members. I would remind the members that there is up to 30 minutes for this bell.
The House divided on Mr Elston’s motion for third reading of Bill 36, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ballinger, Beer, Bradley, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins. Conway, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Furlong, Grandmaître, Hošek, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mancini, McClelland, McGuigan, McGuinty, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin; Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Offer, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Patten, Phillips, G., Polsinelli, Poole, Ramsay, Reycraft, Riddell, Ruprecht, Scott, Smith, D. W., Sola, Sorbara, Stoner, Sullivan, Velshi, Ward, Wilson, Wong.
Allen, Brandt, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cunningham, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Hampton, Harris, Johnson, J. M., Johnston. R. F., Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, Morn-Strom, Philip. E., Pollock, Pouliot, Rae, B., Reville, Runciman, Sterling, Wildman.
Ayes 63; nays 28.
His Honour the Administrator of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon Mr Howland: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed a certain bill to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The following is the title of the bill to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Administrator doth asset to this bill.
His Honour the Administrator was pleased to retire from the chamber.
STATUTES REVISION ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR LA REFONTE DES LOIS
Mr Polsinelli moved, on behalf of Mr Scott, second reading of Bill 74, An Act to provide for the Consolidation and Revision of the Statutes of Ontario.
M. Polsinelli, au nom de M. Scott, propose Ia deuxi~me lecture du projet de loi 74, Loi prévoyant Ia codification et Ia refonte des lois de l’Ontario.
Mr Polsinelli: This bill authorizes the preparation of a consolidation and revision of the public general statutes of Ontario as they stand at the end of 1990. The only new feature of the 1990 consolidation is that it will be in a bilingual format with French and English in two columns on the same page. All existing statutes are being translated and all new statutes will be introduced in English and in French after 1991.
Mr Speaker: Any comments or questions?
Mr Philip: We are in support of the bill.
Mr Sterling: Each decade Ontario consolidates into a group of books all the statutes that have been passed over the previous 10 years and also includes all the statutes that have been passed over the history of the province, so that people who want to consult the law books to find out what the existing laws are have the opportunity to go to one source in order to find all those statutes. This will be the first time we will have the consolidated statutes in French as well as in English and we welcome that.
However, we do have one problem with Bill 74 and Bill 75. I mentioned it when the Attorney General (Mr Scott) announced this legislation. I want to demonstrate to the members that the revised statutes of 1980, which I have obtained from behind the Speaker’s chair, occupy quite a number of volumes of books, as one can see. As the members can see, there are a number of books for 1980, and with this government regulating us at an unprecedented level, many more statutes have been added in the last 10 years.
Notwithstanding that, we think it is necessary to print all the statutes in English and all the statutes in French, but the plan of this government is to require each person in the province to have a stack of books twice this high, because what this government is going to do is to print the English on one side of the page and the French on the other side.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up.
Mr Sterling: I am sorry, Mr Speaker. I did not think this was in response to the --
The Deputy Speaker: This was comments and questions, my friend.
Mr Sterling: No, I do not believe so.
The Deputy Speaker: I took over from the Speaker and this is what I have just been told, but you may continue your speech, in either of the two languages, of course.
Mr Sterling: Our party’s concern is only a matter of practicality. We believe that anybody in the province should be able to order a set of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, and another set of the regulations, which is equally as voluminous as this, in either English or in French, or in both languages if they should so choose. We believe it is wasteful to offer only the one option to the citizens of Ontario, and that is to have a bilingual edition. There will be some who would like that; that is fine and dandy, and we agree that should be offered. We do, however, believe that it is wrong to force a francophone lawyer, who would want only the French edition of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, to have the English edition sitting on his shelves as well. We think it is unnecessary for an anglophone lawyer in this province to have a French edition sitting on his shelves as well.
Some would argue that in law you might want to interpret a particular section, either in English or French, in order to give you the best possible interpretation of a particular section. I would argue that very few people in this province have the skill in both of the languages in order to do that. In the normal course of business, when you are talking about these books, which are in every municipal clerk’s office, most libraries, most lawyers’ offices and many business offices across the province, we are not only causing an unnecessary expense for many people in this province but we are also not being environmentally sensitive to producing waste in terms of the number of trees that will be utilized in printing these bilingual volumes, which we do not think is necessary.
I want to make it absolutely clear that we are in favour of printing the Revised Statutes of Ontario and the Revised Regulations of Ontario for 1990 in both languages. All we want to do is give the citizens of Ontario the option as to what they would like to purchase for their own offices.
We oppose the government in that regard. I wait anxiously for the response of the parliamentary assistant. Will he assure members of this Legislature that you can purchase one in English, one in French, or a bilingual edition, if you so choose?
I do not want to hear from the parliamentary assistant the response he has given to me informally, that all the government is going to do to meet this problem is make the pages bigger and the print smaller. I do not find that is a very satisfactory answer. As many of us who are practising at the bar have difficulty in reading, we think the print in the editions as they are now is sufficiently small. I know the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio) thinks it should be even bigger.
We think that an insensitive approach to the introduction of francophone services, as this bill illustrates, creates unnecessary bad feeling. Therefore, I would ask the parliamentary assistant to accept my suggestion and ensure in the bill and in practice in the administration that our citizens will be given an alternative choice to this creation of extra paper.
Mr Callahan: When it comes to the consolidated statutes each year -- I practise law -- it always struck me that all we do is continue to create volumes of statutes. It is always very difficult. Probably the most time-consuming item for a practising lawyer is attempting to take the statutes themselves, when they are done every 10 years, and interleave them with the amendments that take place every year.
Surely today, with the technology we have and the computer opportunities we have, there has to be a better way of doing it. If you go into any legal firm, you are going to find shelves and shelves of these things, dating as far back as the consolidated statutes go. I am wondering if there is some way through computer technology that these volumes of statutes could be kept current, either by making them loose-leaf as opposed to permanently bound or by having access to computer opportunities to be able to pull up on a screen the statute properly with all of its amendments.
Errors occur, perhaps in smaller firms, because of the research that may be done in trying to put all of these things together. I know there are things such as the Citator and other helpful hints that are put out by various legal publications. But I would hope that by the time we come to the consolidated statutes of the year 2000, or some time before that, we would have a more updated way of doing this.
This is not a criticism of how the government is doing it. I think it is to be applauded for having recognized the introduction of both official languages and having adopted that not only in fact but its spirit as well. I am in favour of that. I think that the technology of it and how it is dealt with is something that should be looked at and hopefully we can come up with a way of doing it that we can have them currently in force, so that if the average citizen particularly wants to look he can find it.
Mr Sterling: I would have hoped that the parliamentary assistant would have responded so that I would know whether or not it is going to be necessary to take further action in terms of this legislation, whether he sees fit that this bill can be amended in such a manner to ensure that the citizens of Ontario have an evenhanded choice as to what they are going to buy from the Queen’s printer when these very many volumes of books are produced, so that we can do our little bit in this Legislature in an environmental sense to not produce a lot of paper that is never going to be read by either francophone or anglophone in this province.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Carleton will know that the law requires us to translate all Ontario statutes into French, and that is the reason why this exercise is being undertaken. Given that as a factor and knowing that we have to produce the statutes in both English and French, which is the most economical and viable format for producing these texts? If you had followed the member for Carleton’s suggestion -- that is, producing two separate sets of volumes in the same format as the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1980 are presently printed -- we definitely would have had twice the volume and twice the amount of paper expended.
In fact, what the ministry has determined is that the most viable format for the production is as the member for Carleton has been advised; that is, the pages will be slightly larger and the print will be slightly smaller. In terms of volume, it is going to produce substantially less volume than if we had followed the member for Carleton’s suggestion. The House should know that the federal statutes of Canada are printed in this format, and the statutes of two other provinces, New Brunswick and Manitoba, are printed in this format.
There is more than just the reason of volume for producing the statutes in this format. There is also the factor that these volumes, when they are sold, are sold on a cost-recovery basis. If they had been produced in both English and French texts, then assuming that the sale of the English texts in Ontario had been much greater than the French text, the cost to the anglophone lawyers would have been substantially less than the cost to the francophone lawyers who wanted to purchase the French text. We feel that this is contrary to the French Language Services Act.
I could expound on a number of other reasons as to why we feel this is the best approach to consolidating these laws, but I think it suffices to say that if we take care of the member for Carleton’s concern in terms of the volume -- and I assure him, as I have been assured by the ministry, that the volume will not be twice as much but in fact will be just a little bit more than the present RSO 1980 -- and the fact that we want to be as fair as possible to the francophone lawyers in Ontario, I think he should be happy with that response.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Le projet de loi devra passer a l’étape de troisième lecture.
REGULATIONS REVISION ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR LA REFONTE DES REGLEMENTS
Mr Polsinelhi, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 75, An Act to provide for the Consolidation and Revision of the Regulations of Ontario.
M. Polsinelli, au nom de M. Scott, propose Ia deuxième lecture du projet de loi 75, Loi prëvoyant Ia codification et ha refonte des reglements de l’Ontario.
Mr Polsinelli: This bill is a companion to Bill 74 and provides for the consolidation and revisions of the regulations of Ontario as they stand at the end of 1990. The same comments apply to this bill as apply to Bill 74.
Mr Philip: I would disagree with the parliamentary assistant. I do not see it as simply a companion bill. I think that if we look at the regulatory system, we do not have the kinds of checks and balances that we do have in a legislative system, where bills are debated and passed in Parliament.
Therefore, when it comes to regulations, we have to look at what has happened in all parliamentary jurisdictions. We are faced with what I can only describe as a crisis, namely, that public servants without adequate supervision of Parliament, are making more and more regulations that are affecting the lives of each and every individual.
If you were a small businessman and went into a parliamentary or business library and said, “I am in business X; where can I find all of the regulations that affect my business?” you would not be able to find them. The powerful corporations can subscribe to services that will advise them on a regular basis of regulatory changes; they can be kept up to date with what changes are being made.
For the small businessman or for the ordinary citizen, what we see is a whole system where you can be in violation of regulations and you can be punished for that and your only argument then is that you are in ignorance of that regulation; but in fact there has been no system in this province to deal with the terrible bureaucracy and anarchy that has been created by the regulatory system. This bill does nothing to really remedy that. You have some consolidation, but essentially what this bill does is what this government has done to date so far, which is to leave it to the bureaucratic system rather than to the parliamentary system.
To the credit of Ottawa, we see at least a movement there towards parliamentary committees reviewing all regulatory statutes over a 10-year period of time and recommending sunsetting action to the government where that seems appropriate to a parliamentary committee -- we have a cabinet committee that will ensure that -- and reviewing all regulations over a seven-year period and recommending sunsetting action to the cabinet, and we have all regulatory programs being evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness once every seven years by the office of the controller general in consultation, again, with the regulatory affairs secretariat.
What we have, at least in Ottawa, is a recognition that Parliament must come to grips with the increasing bureaucracy created by a regulatory system and that many of the regulations are not even adequately reviewed by cabinet ministers or indeed by the cabinet.
I am not going to suggest that a sunsetting system is the answer to everyone’s problems. We know that in some jurisdictions, such as the United States, sunsetting provisions are dealt with by introducing a sunsetting bill at 10 minutes to midnight on a particular evening and simply reviving every regulation that has been passed for a period of years.
To their credit, the Australians are at least trying to come to grips with the problem of the increasing bureaucracy caused by the regulatory system. One must compliment at least the people in the government of New South Wales and in other jurisdictions at the state level in Australia for trying to come to grips with the very costly procedures that we have in the regulatory system.
The standing committee on regulations and private bills issued a report that was a consensus report. There was no dissenting report even though some of us may have had some concerns about feeling that we needed to move more towards a sunsetting thrust. In the interests of at least having a consensus report, we agreed with the majority of the recommendations, and therefore all members of that nonpartisan committee signed the report. We have not seen any movement by this government to date in implementing that.
This bill does not implement the recommendations of that all-party committee. Indeed, if we look at some of the issues raised by that all-party committee, it is not just a matter of economy and efficiency; it is also a matter of human rights. For one thing, with the passage of the Charter of Rights, I think we have to come to grips with the need for constant vigilance to ensure that regulations are meeting with the Charter of Rights passed by the Parliament of Canada. Of course, in this bill, the government has not given any indication of what it is going to do to give us that assurance.
There is a need for an ongoing indexing system, and in consolidating, this bill does not go as far as what has been requested by the committee. It should be possible for any business person or citizen to go in and in a computer age find out exactly what regulations affect him and his business or those things that are of concern to him in his life or his business. That is not possible, and this government has not moved to deal with that.
The government should develop a citizens’ code of regulatory fairness. If the Attorney General would turn to page 63 of the excellent report turned out by the select committee, he would see some suggestions in six points that are needed if we are going to have a regulatory system. Of course, we have to have a regulatory system in a modern world and no one suggests that we could sunset all the regulations.
I think at the very least we need an adequate system of notice and comment. It should be possible that those people who are going to be directly affected by regulations should have an opportunity to express their concerns; that members of the Legislature, be it a committee or a subcommittee, would at least have an opportunity to study, to hear and to deal with that. Ottawa has at least moved to repatriate regulations into Parliament and to democratize the system, if you want, to open it up so that people whose lives are being affected by the regulatory system can at least have some input and some comment on it. We do not see any movement by this government.
We will be supporting the bill, but we must express grave concern and disappointment that as society becomes more and more complex, as more and more people are complaining about the red tape they are facing through big government, necessitated by the complexity of society, this government has not seen fit at least to move in a direction that would be more reasonable for business people and others to deal with, that would be more efficient and that would protect the rights of those whom they are regulating.
Maybe the parliamentary assistant would like to comment on some of the concerns I have about this legislation which, as I said, we will be supporting but which is grossly inadequate. Hopefully it will be here for just a short period of time and we will have some really important legislation based on the select committee report or perhaps based on the experiences of other governments that have seen that this is an important issue to deal with.
Ms Bryden: I would just like to congratulate the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for his comments on the need for notice and comment on regulations when they come in and the need for more control over the regulations so that we do not just deal with problems after the regulations have been in effect and have no input prior to that stage, or very little input.
I sat on the standing committee on regulations and private bills for several years and I was certainly aware that there was a great need for more control and more regulation of the regulations process. I do think that the more the bills that are going through give regulation powers to the government, the more we are moving away from a democratic legislative process to a process of government fiat on many matters which the Legislature does not get an opportunity to deal with.
So I think the legislation should be more precise in what can and cannot be done by regulations, but I think the process which this bill addresses should also be better directed to providing for legislative input and people input on regulations.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I just could not resist making a comment on the member’s thoughtful speech. It is thoughtful indeed, but the problem I have, of course, is that it is nice to stand here during the course of dealing with bills and talk about the need for notice and comment on regulations and the proliferation of regulations and the need for citizenry involvement and discussion on regulations, but when it comes to question period, their leader and those members are standing up saying:
“Pass a law, pass a regulation. Deal with this matter quickly. You know what the answer is.” They demand immediate action.
They cannot have it both ways. If they want notice and comment and deliberative government, then that is the way it will be, and there is no need for a question period where an outraged leader of the official opposition demands immediate responses by way of regulation to any problem that arises, It is hypocritical in the extreme. We cannot govern that way, and certainly they cannot sit in the opposition and demand that government be carried on that way. It is entirely and utterly hypocritical to be appearing thoughtful on the one hand, thoughtful in their demand for consultation, and on the other hand to demand extreme, immediate action to solve all problems, by government action, by government regulation, proliferation of regulation, which is what that party really stands for when it talks about government.
Mr Kormos: Horse manure, that is what I say in response to that. I listened real careful to the comments made by my friend the member for Beaches-Woodbine, and a logical, intelligent person cannot help but agree with her. Every single person in every single community across Ontario understands what it means to be over-regulated.
Democracy, in this Legislature, with this kind of maturity and the government’s disdain for the role of an opposition? Let’s cut it out.
Who is not regulated? Who is getting a free ride? We know who they are. The A and Ps and the big supermarkets, they are getting a free ride. The big landlords, they are getting a free ride. The corporate interests of this particular government which the Liberals cater to time after time, the insurance industry in Ontario, they are getting a free ride. It all depends what side you are on.
There has been the occasional effort to criticize members of the New Democratic Party by saying, “You people accept money from trade unions and you consult with leadership from working people from trade unions.” I say, “Yes, and we are proud of that.”
The Liberals and their government take money from big corporations and the auto insurance industry and they take their marching orders from big corporations and from the auto insurance industry. The question to be asked is, are they proud of that? Of course not, because they try to conceal it. When it comes down to the crunch, when it comes down to big corporations giving them money, they will do it through the back door so as not to get caught doing it through the front door. That is what Patti Starr is all about, that is what fridges and paint jobs are all about. We are talking about as corrupt a government as we have ever seen.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kormos: This is the pot calling the kettle black. This is somebody who is sucking and blowing at the same time. That was a shameful comment on the part of the member for York Mills, Mr Nixon.
The Deputy Speaker: Time for one more comment, if any.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Point of order, Mr Speaker, I would ask you to bring the member for Welland-Thorold to order. He is supposed to use riding names, not personal names.
The Deputy Speaker: Let’s get going. The member for Windsor-Riverside has two minutes.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I will not take the entire two minutes. I found the comments of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale to be very thoughtful. I thought the response from the member for York Mills was very typical. I hope that the tenants in his riding were listening very carefully, because obviously what the member for York Mills was saying is that they cannot act quickly to protect tenants when it comes to changing the regulations to deal with unnecessary capital expenditures. And, of course, the member for York Mills would not want the government to act very quickly on that, because I am sure that if one examines such things as donations to his riding and to his elections, they would reflect very carefully the kinds of interests that he would be prepared to protect in this place.
We in this party think that there should be regulations changed very quickly to protect tenants because the landlords are using the Liberal legislation to blow them out of the water with huge rent increases. But I think it is very appropriate that the member for York Mills has put it on the record very clearly. He wants to protect landlords here today. We would like to see regulation changes to protect tenants so that rent control will be effective in the province of Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale wish to respond?
Mr Philip: Yes. I want to thank the members for their comments. I would like to address myself to the comments of the member for York Mills. I am sorry that he does not understand or does not appreciate that it is important to democratize the regulatory process. He says that New Democrats get up in the House and ask for quick action.
In many of the instances, as my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside has pointed out, in which we require some quick action, it is because the very regulatory system has been designed in such a way that there has not been proper input and proper examination of the regulations and so we end up with the terribly bureaucratic, inoperable rent review process that serves neither the tenants nor the landlords very well and in fact creates a huge bureaucracy that neither can understand very well and that does not work in anyone’s interest.
Miss Martel: The landlords understand that well.
Mr Philip: The large corporate landlords may be able to, but then they have lawyers and accountants to go through it.
The problems that we have been addressing are the very problems that could have been resolved had there been a proper regulatory system in this province, a regulatory system which indeed was signed by a committee chaired by a member of the member for York Mills’s own party. All that I was saying in my speech was, how can the government have an all-party committee, chaired by one of its own members, and then have one of its members, like the member for York Mills, get up then and say he does not really believe in the report of that all-party committee? He does not believe in democratizing the regulatory system. I say to the member for York Mills to go and tell the small businessmen in his riding who are being directly affected by this bureaucratic regulatory system that he does not believe in their having input when the government makes its next regulation then or when his bureaucrats make their next regulation. The member for York Mills clearly does not seem to understand the difference between legislation and regulation.
The Deputy Speaker: The member’s time is up. Thank you. Do other members wish to participate in the debate? The member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: We have had a brief discussion as to the difference between regulation and statutes. I think the public should understand that a regulation can be made without consultation with the Legislature and can be done by fiat or can be done unilaterally by the cabinet of Ontario. We are going to have a very good example of that debate put forward under Bill 62 later this afternoon when we are talking about various districts which should have French-language court services. One member will put forward a very strong argument that the government should not be able to do this without coming to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I think it is important that this argument as to notice and comment with regard to regulation -- in other words, when does the public have a chance to comment on a proposed regulation? -- does not exist today. We heard that argument put forward by the Liberals when they were in opposition. Yet today when they sit in government, they defend the right of cabinet to make those unilaterally and without notice.
To be fair, there are some regulations which do not require notice, particularly under our Industrial Standards Act, and there is a requirement to give notice. I think that practice should be expanded to a number of statutes where public input should be allowed.
A few moments ago, when we were dealing with Bill 74 dealing with the Revised Statutes of Ontario, I put on my desk a very high pile of statute books and made the argument that a citizen of Ontario should have the option of just buying a pile this high. Now the Liberals want to pile it deeper and higher and they want to make it this high, with both hands. Now, the only reason I did not bring forward the regulations that are only different in colour but are as voluminous and would go this high was that the member for Ottawa East (Mr Grandmaître) said that he could not see me during that debate. I decided that this time I would only demonstrate it with my hands.
The answers to my questions on Bill 74 certainly do not satisfy my inquiries. What I got back from the parliamentary assistant was that all of the anglophone lawyers are going to subsidize the francophone lawyers in this new production which is being put forward. Now, if in fact there is a subsidization to take place, then that is the duty of the Legislative Assembly or the government of the day to subsidize whatever they want to do with regard to those services.
All I can say is that Bill 74 and Bill 75 are yet but another step of an insensitive approach to a very difficult problem which is festering in the province of Ontario today. Each time the government does not give a choice to the people with regard to these kinds of documents, all it does is exacerbate a very touchy situation which exists.
We have made it quite clear that our party agrees with the production of both of these volumes in English and in French but that a choice should be given to the public so that in fact shelves and shelves of library space, shelves and shelves of lawyers’ offices, municipal offices, will not be filled with material which will never be read in either language. That is the truth and that is what is going to happen. This kind of approach and this kind of action has more significance than a lot of other actions which the government takes with regard to, as I say, a very, very touchy situation in the province of Ontario today, as I get call after call in my constituency office with regard to other steps which the government has taken in terms of producing material which is bilingual.
It is not necessary in this case. Why not offer an alternative, if in fact that is practical for the people of Ontario? I will go toe to toe with anybody in the ministry on the finances of producing what I have asked for.
Mr Polsinelli: Bills 74 and 75 are nonpolicy bills; that is, they do not change any government policy. They do not enact any new policy. As a matter of fact, what happens is, every 10 years the laws of this province are consolidated and we get a new set of books with the consolidated laws, and the regulations are consolidated so that we get a new set of books with the consolidated regulations. There are no changes to those laws. They are just sort of nicely packaged for the people in the province who need access to that information and to those laws.
It is interesting that for two bills that really do not change any law, do not change any policy and do not enact any new policy, we are having so much discussion. As I stated earlier on Bill 74, the only difference in these new bills is that Bill 74 provides for the French translation of the statutes, and they will be printed side by side. It seems that all parties of this House support the French translation of the bills and all parties in this House want to see that happen. So what we have done is we have spent the last 15 or 20 minutes talking about whether we should have a big page or a small page, whether we should have two sets of volumes, one set of volumes, which is the best way of approaching it. I think I made my comments with respect to that a little bit earlier when we were dealing with Bill 74.
I appreciate the comments of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale in talking about the regulatory process and whether or not the government and the Lieutenant Governor in this province have too much discretion in their regulatory powers. That is a policy question. That is something that can be raised in committee; that is something that can be raised in question period, and indeed, that is something that can be raised by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale directly with the Attorney General and with this government in terms of looking at that whole policy question.
I should advise the member that in terms of accessing regulations and the availability of accessing information I have been informed that within the next couple of years, given this new, marvellous computer technology that we have, regulations will be available on compact discs and members of the public will be able to search those discs and get any relevant provisions without even having an index. He should also note that that is going to be an administrative action and will require a regulation to do that.
In terms of the general process of issuing regulations, members of the House will know that the regulatory power is as a result of the legislation that passes through this House and the regulatory power that is given by that legislation to the Lieutenant Governor.
It is interesting that we have had the debate today from the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale and from the member for Carleton, but it strikes me as a little bit ironic, because in the times that I have been sitting through the standing committees when we have been doing particular pieces of legislation. I have rarely, if ever, heard any comments or criticism dealing with the particular regulatory powers that those particular pieces of legislation that I have had the privilege of sitting in on have given to the Lieutenant Governor. It is strange, but again it is one of those policy issues that can be raised by the members with the government in question period and in committees.
In terms of the regulatory process, once regulations are drafted, they do go to a committee of cabinet on regulations. After they are passed, they are referred to a standing committee of the House made up of all members for their examination. That is the standard process. That is the way it has been for years and that is the way it will continue until it is changed.
These bills do not purport to change that. They do not purport to add any new process, and I ask the House for the support of these bills so that the commissioners can start work in terms of the consolidation of the bills.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptëe.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Le projet de loi devra passer a l’étape de troisième lecture.
NOTARIES AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 63, An Act to amend the Notaries Act.
Mr Polsinelli: I am pleased today to move second reading of Bill 63, the Notaries Amendment Act, 1989. The purpose of this bill is to convert this position of the official under section 2 of the Notaries Act into a public service position. At present, the official is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and serves at pleasure. It is the responsibility of this official to examine or re-examine any person, other than a lawyer, who wishes to become a notary public.
This bill is part of a general initiative of the Ministry of the Attorney General to eliminate unnecessary order-in-council appointments. While in some cases order-in-council appointments are useful in ensuring independence from ministerial control, there are certain drawbacks associated with such a method of appointment; for example, the perception that the most qualified candidates are not always appointed, problems of delays in filling positions and revising salaries and lack of ministry or other administrative authority over an appointee’s position and performance.
Concerns over problems such as these led our % ministry to recommend that a number of positions be appointed under the Public Service Act rather than by order in council. The official under the Notaries Act is one such position.
Other such positions include the secretary to the Ontario Municipal Board, which was converted to civil service status pursuant to the Ontario Municipal Board Amendment Act, 1989, as well as sheriffs, court registrars and the accountant at the Supreme Court of Ontario, which were converted under the recently enacted court reform legislation, the Courts of Justice Amendment Act, 1989, and the Court Reform Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989. I urge the House to pass this bill as quickly as it can also.
Mr Philip: Do I take it from the parliamentary assistant, the member for Yorkview (Mr Polsinelli), that the appointment of the chairman of Ontario Place is not in any way affected by this, that the chairman will still be appointed by an order in council?
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask a series of questions. There are a few questions with regard to this. I read over the compendium to the act when introduced and it indicates that there are going to be several kinds of stipulations about who is appointed a notary and who is not appointed a notary. I wonder where those stipulations are going to be contained, because I know many members of this Legislature get phone calls from various individuals who want to be appointed as notaries public for the province.
The other thing I want to ask the parliamentary assistant is, why is it necessary to appoint notaries public at all at this present time? We have a particularly difficult problem in the Ottawa and eastern Ontario area. Notaries in the province of Quebec -- basically, I guess, their closest equivalent on the Ontario side would be a solicitor. Therefore, we have had misunderstandings from time to time, particularly by members of the francophone community in Ontario, as to who they are walking in to see when they walk in to see a notary public. Often there is the misunderstanding that they are walking in to see somebody who has been trained in the law and are therefore sometimes perhaps given bad advice by somebody who is not properly trained for that.
Mr Kerrio: Norman, that happens with lawyers.
Mr Sterling: That has happened with the odd lawyer as well. But I do know that a number of titles, particularly east of Ottawa in the Prescott. Russell area, are rather bad because of not having proper advice.
Mr Kormos: This appears to be a secularization of this process. Not that it is going to do away with patronage, at least not in 1989. I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant could elaborate on the mode of examination and the mode of inquiry and the type of inquiry that is made in determining which of those persons other than members of the bar become notaries public.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): I believe the time has pretty well expired. Does the parliamentary assistant wish to reply?
Mr Polsinelli: Again, I thought that this was a fairly uncontroversial bill, that both opposition parties would have jumped up and lauded the government in terms of its initiatives in reducing the number of order-in-council appointments and making this type of position a public service position.
Persons who are appointed notaries must demonstrate that their employment function requires the notarization of documents, and the notary public is needed for the public convenience in the place where the applicant resides. Generally the person who is examining notaries would operate under guidelines that are issued by the Attorney General (Mr Scott). I am not familiar with any particular statute which sets out any particular requirements to be appointed a notary public. Notaries are public officers who are entitled, for example, to attest and certify certain documents in order to ensure their authenticity in foreign jurisdictions, to administer oaths and complete and notarize forms as to the origins of imports and exports, to certify deeds and contracts and to exercise the power of a commissioner for taking affidavits for the province of Ontario. That is a bit of a mouthful.
That gives the powers of notaries, but generally they are appointed under the guidelines issued by the Attorney General. This legislation does not deal with the criteria or the qualifications that one needs to be a notary; rather, it deals with who is going to examine the notary and who is going to examine the individual who wants to become a notary. What we are saying is the person who examines the applicant should not be an order-in-council appointment; he should be a public servant who is trained in the criteria that are required to appoint the notaries.
Mr Kormos: I can tell the parliamentary assistant that we are going to support the legislation because it is a welcome secularization of a process. But it calls out for some comment about the process itself because it does not relieve the government of some of the contradictions that are inherent in the Notaries Act as it stands, notwithstanding the amendment.
The parliamentary assistant talked about an examination procedure. I can tell members that there is not an examination procedure. If there was one, it took place so long ago that it not only precedes me, but it precedes certainly the parliamentary assistant. It remains that there is not an examination procedure and that the status of notary public remains a somewhat exclusive role in any given community. All lawyers, as most of us know, are by virtue of their position in the bar notaries public.
There is a complete absence of any controls on, for instance, the types of fees that are charged by a notary public. The parliamentary assistant knows full well that not all lawyers, but some, less scrupulous than others, are inclined to exploit their status as notaries public, are inclined, for instance, to charge fees for what is a very modest and simple service well beyond and grossly disproportionate to what the service actually consists of.
It remains that the government of the day has imposed some pretty rigid restrictions on who can and who cannot become a notary public. The. secularization of the appointment does not resolve the difficulties that those restrictions create, especially in smaller communities and/or more remote communities. What happens almost inevitably is that to be a notary public you have to be identified with a service or with an office in a given community for which it can be demonstrated that a notary is required. That is above and beyond a commissioner for taking affidavits.
What is required, if the government is really serious about this direction that it is taking, is not just the change in the mode of appointment and the source of appointment, but a change in the whole approach to who is and who is not an notary public, to an approach that makes sure notaries public are available to any member of the community and, I would say, for no cost. Quite frankly, I would welcome amendments to the act that would preclude members of the bar from charging for providing their services as notaries public. That would seem to be very much overkill on the part of the legal profession and it is simply not justifiable.
It remains that so often poor people, people with perhaps limited English-language skills -- I am speaking of new Canadians, people who do not enjoy what some of us do in this province, and that is to say the luxury of fuller educations -- oftentimes find themselves victimized by members of the bar who are notaries public and other persons who have acquired the status. I say “acquired the status” because the mere secularization of the appointment process is not going to rid the government of the taint of patronage that accompanies notary public appointments along with, it seems, a million others, but perhaps it is only in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
This is a beginning, but it is by no stretch of the imagination the final step. This government has got a long way to go before it cleans up its act to make sure that simple services, like notaries, are available to the mainstream of our communities, not just here in Toronto but in places like Welland and Thorold and other parts of Ontario, including smaller and more remote communities.
Mr Sterling: We are going to vote in support of this bill. I must say, though, that I am a little concerned when the government transfers a responsibility where there is some discretion to a public official without having thought ahead as to exactly what the qualifications for a notary public are going to be under this act. What the government is doing is passing the discretion to somebody else, but it is not saying what in fact are going to be the outlines of what is going to happen.
Quite frankly, I expect that as a result of this there is going to be an explosion in the number of appointments of notaries public across this province, and that is really what is behind all of this legislation. I think that is going to be bad, because if the government has not thought out how it is going to make these people qualify to become notaries public, and it seems very loosey-goosey at this point in time, then there are going to be real problems with the abuse of the notary public seal and how those people might represent themselves to other communities. I mentioned the francophone community, which has a different understanding of what a notary public is than the anglophone community, and I suspect that is the case with many other ethnic and cultural groups now in our province.
While we really have no objection to this kind of move, we would have liked to have seen what would be the educational qualifications of an individual who is appointed and how in fact the discretion is going to be kept in check by the Legislature or by anybody else as to who is or who is not appointed. I think it is going to be very difficult to say no to anybody with this act passing.
Mr Polsinelli: I would like to thank both opposition parties for their support of this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 MODIFIANT LA LOI DE 1984 SUR LES TRIBUNAUX JUDICIAIRES
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Courts of justice Act, 1984.
M. Polsinelli, au nom de M. Scott, propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 62, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1984 sur les tribunaux judiciaires.
Mr Polsinelli: Bill 62, the Courts of Justice Amendment Act, 1989, is another step in extending the rights of Ontario francophones to use their own language in their dealings with the justice system. The intent of this bill is supported by the Association of French-Speaking Jurists of Ontario and also by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario section of the Canadian Bar Association.
As of January 1987 all francophones in Ontario have had the right to trials before bilingual judges. This is now confirmed by statute as applying to all of the province. It does so by removing the qualification that such trials are available only in designated courts.
The bill also continues the right to have a trial in French before a judge and jury in an area designated in schedule 1to the bill. The right to a jury who understands French has not yet been extended across the province because of the difficulty of empanelling such a jury in some parts of the province.
Legal proceedings usually include more activity than simply a trial. For example, motions are made to the court on points of procedure. pre-trial hearings are held and submissions may be made on the costs of the lawsuit. Bill 62 allows such proceedings to be conducted in French as well.
The final element in Bill 62 expands the right to file documents in French. At present, trial documents may be filed in court offices in French so long as they are accompanied by a translation. Bill 62 provides that pleadings and other documents written in French may be filed in -- designated court offices without submitting any translation. The designated areas include those most heavily populated by francophones, together with Metropolitan Toronto.
I will remind the House that this bill does not require any party to file documents in French, even when litigating against a francophone. It merely gives each party the right to have his or her own documents in his or her own choice of the two official languages.
This bill is further evidence of the commitment of the ministry and of the government to extend services to our francophone population and I urge the House to give it speedy passage.
Mr Sterling: I just have a question with regard to the problem where you have two litigants filing pleadings in the two languages, English and French. Is there any obligation on the province to translate those documents into one common language, either French or English? Has the parliamentary assistant any calculations on how this is going to increase the costs of litigation in the province?
Mr Wildman: Very briefly, I applaud the rhetoric and the intent, the stated principle, but I am very concerned about the fact that it may just be empty rhetoric if the personnel are not available, if the federal government cannot find the qualified bilingual people who are acceptable to be appointed, who can carry on proceedings in both languages.
In my area we have been designated for both languages. In terms of the provincial courts, the Attorney General has been looking for over two years for a qualified bilingual person who would be acceptable to the Ontario Judicial Council and has yet to appoint an individual. As a result, in those cases a number of accused persons have been set free because the delays that have been involved in bringing their cases to court are unacceptable and the cases would, because of the Charter of Rights, be thrown out.
It is fine for the parliamentary assistant to get up and move a piece of legislation that says we can have civil proceedings in both languages and participants can file in French as well as English without translations, but if we do not have the qualified people available to appoint to carry out these proceedings. then all it is is empty rhetoric. If the government cannot find someone to fulfil the position of a provincial judge for Algoma who is bilingual, and it is still searching after two years, what if anything does this bill mean in terms of services to francophones in Ontario?
Mr Cousens: When the honourable parliamentary assistant was commenting on the future of the bill and the extending of the rights, he said “not yet extended across the province.” What is his plan then to extend this into other jurisdictions, and when?
Mr Polsinelli: I would like to deal with the comments of the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) first. I am sure he heard in my opening statement that essentially what this legislation does is that it extends the right to francophone lawyers to file their documents in one of the two official languages of Canada, French. In terms of the right to trial by a francophone judge or a judge who understands French, that has been in existence since 1987. In terms of the right to have a trial before a judge and jury in French, that has only been allowed in designated areas because of the difficulty of empanelling such a jury in some parts of the province.
In terms of the comments of the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) on the obligations of the government in terms of translation should someone file documents in French, I would pose to him the reciprocal of that. If a francophone lawyer were to receive documents that had been filed in English, should there be an obligation on the government to translate them into French? We have proceeded on the principle of equality in this, that essentially each one has to take care of his own costs and the government will not be interfering in terms of translating documents from one language into the other.
Mr Kormos: I will be brief. First, when this bill was presented on first reading and some comments were made about it, we indicated that we support the legislation.
Second, one cannot help but heed the comments made by my friend the member for Algoma and the concerns, which are very legitimate concerns, about the availability of French-speaking members of the bench, appreciating -- and the member for Algoma certainly did in his comments -- that at the district court or county court level or at the Supreme Court level they are federal appointments.
The provincial experience, though, is no better. That is to say, at the provincial level, and I am speaking of the provincial court (criminal division), the province has but a handful of francophone criminal judges. I would be pleased to hear of francophone judges who are available who are sitting as small claims court or civil division provincial court judges to give effect to this legislation and, more important, the spirit of it.
Down in Welland-Thorold, we are blessed not only with an outstanding bench but a bench which includes at both the provincial court level and at the district court level francophone judges. The same experience, though, cannot be enjoyed by the rest of the province. Until that is given some very specific attention, the spirit of this legislation is going to be very specifically overlooked.
One of the other concerns that was raised at the time of first reading and when I spoke on behalf of the New Democrats with response to this bill, as I say, at the time of first reading -- and I am confident that there is not a single person in Ontario who opposes the spirit of this legislation. There is not a single thinking person in Ontario who would deny a French-speaking Ontarian the right to file court documents in his or her own language, the French language.
There is some legitimate concern on the part of some people -- and nobody expects to be involved in litigation, but it has been raised and to deny it would be naïve -- about the increased costs that would be borne by a litigant who is confronted with a French-language document.
It is clear not only in the bill but in the explanation given by the parliamentary assistant that the fact a trial, for instance, is commenced with a French-language document does not mean that the respondent, the other party, has to reply or respond with French-language documents.
In the first instance, that looks like it is a fine thing, but what it does and what it can create is an incredibly fascinating linguistic hybrid of documents. It would be incumbent upon any counsel acting for a party, any lawyer, to ensure that he or she had clear and accurate, and basically certifiably accurate translations of any documents that were filed in a language that was not the language of his or her client.
That means that there are going to be extra costs incurred, just as in the land registry system when, let’s say, an anglophone lawyer is searching title on a piece of property registered against which there is a French language document. For that lawyer to have discharged his or her duties properly means that that lawyer has to express an opinion as to the impact or effect of that document, and in many cases -- not all cases, and perhaps not even most, but in many cases -- that is going to mean the increased cost of a translation.
I would say but this in response to that -- and again, that is a real concern. That is not a concern necessarily raised by bigots, because it remains that the French-speaking person who is confronted by an English document in a course of civil proceeding is similarly put to the difficulty and expense of a translation before he or she and his or her counsel can make valid decisions or valid judgements about how to proceed next.
What I am suggesting is that it is incumbent upon the government, when the government embarks on this course, to help pave the way, to make sure that the costs are minimalized, to make sure that the increased expense that is anticipated legitimately is kept to a minimum.
It can do that in a variety of ways. It can do that first by ensuring that there are bilingual staff available in those communities where these rights are to be exercised.
The government might respond and say, “That is easily done.” It remains that in the Windsor land registry office they may have resolved the difficulty now, but a bilingual office was one which did not have a francophone in it to make comment on documents that were being tendered for registry against property. I know that some of those documents were conveyed by facsimile to Welland so that the bilingual personnel, the bilingual staff in Welland. could comment on these documents and send them back. The presence of bilingual staff is obviously necessary before this can be given effect to.
The availability of a translation, and I say this, the availability of a government-provided translation, at least on an interim basis, at least during a transition basis, one which can complement the staff available in district court or registrars’ offices, would go a long way to allaying the fears that are felt by some members of the community about the impact of this legislation, not on their cultural lives but on their pecuniary lives, on the costs that would be incurred.
I would ask the government to consider, not only in the incidence of court offices but in the incidence of land registry offices, to think about ways of making the transition and the implementation of this legislation and the spirit of this legislation easier for those people who are confronted by it.
Mr Sterling: I just want to indicate that our party does support this legislation. We do have some concerns about the powers given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, in other words, the cabinet, to make regulations unilaterally under this act.
As we have discussed in previous legislation. it is an extremely sensitive area. It is hard, as the member for Welland-Thorold put it, very difficult, to argue against the principles involved in this bill. There is some concern about the expense, knowing that when two people are suing each other they are not trying to be kind to each other, they are trying to make it as difficult as possible for the other side to carry on. This does put forward the prospect, the possibility of one or the other of the parties filing pleadings in another language in order just to make the pleadings and the proceedings more expensive for the other party. That is a concern of ours.
As I mentioned, we do support this legislation.
Mr Cousens: I would like to add some comments on Bill 62, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act. I think there are two parts to what I would like to say.
The first part has to do with the bilingual areas that are being established in this bill and speak in support of the establishment of those bilingual juries and the bilingual documents. What I see here is the extension of the services under Bill 8. Bill 8, the French Language Services Act of 1986, really allowed this province to entrench certain services in certain areas in which more than 10 per cent of the population was francophone. In order to reach those people and to provide the services that are their right, this again is a further extension of those services in those areas.
I believe in looking at the Statistics Canada data that the counties of Essex, Prescott and Russell, Renfrew, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, the judicial districts of Niagara South, Ottawa-Carleton, and York -- York is funny, because when you think of York you might think of York region; York is really the Metropolitan Toronto jurisdiction -- and then the territorial districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Nipissing, Sudbury, Timiskaming, all these areas are covered under this bill and would therefore be a natural extension, an evolution of the services that were accorded to these areas under Bill 8.
I want to go on record as supporting that I think there is a sense within the francophone community that at the present time these services are not available and therefore it does leave them short of the kind of service in language that is very important to them and fundamental to their needs, especially in a court proceeding.
The second part of the bill, though, is where I will have an amendment, and we will ask that we go to committee of the whole to review my amendment. The amendment has to do with the question that I asked the parliamentary assistant after he introduced the bill. When he was making his introduction to the bill he alluded to it and I would say that it is a concern that really has to be addressed by this House. It has to do with the power that is going to be given by cabinet to make future areas bilingual courts.
I just want to give the context in which I am making my concerns known. In section 9 of Bill 62, it says. -
“The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,
“(a) prescribing procedures for the purpose of this section;
“(b) adding counties or districts to schedules 1 or 2.”
My concern is that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may add counties or districts to schedules 1 and 2. All that point really means is that here in this Legislature, we today are able to declare certain areas as having bilingual juries, bilingual documents, bilingual courts, but the future decisions that could be made to make other courts bilingual in the province will not be made in this Legislature, they will be made instead by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
That is the concern that I have. It is a very subtle yet very important concern that registers my distrust of the Premier (Mr Peterson) and his cabinet to do in cabinet what I think they should do openly and publicly in the Legislature.
What could happen if this bill is passed as it is is that I could read in a Gazette some day that the Lieutenant Governor in Council has now approved certain other areas to be made bilingual in the courts. That has to do with the role of the Legislature; it has to do with the practical necessity that here in this House is where the decisions should be made that have to do with services that relate to the people in the province. For us here in this Legislature -- and I do wish the parliamentary assistant would be listening to what I have to say, because I am hoping that he will be able to support my amendment that would take away that power of the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make those decisions, but I have no control over that.
I will put my points on the record. I have the support of my caucus for the amendment that I am about to propose to the Legislature when we get to committee, and yet I think it touches upon one of those fundamental rights that we have here in the Legislature to make those decisions.
I asked the parliamentary assistant, after he had made his opening remarks, why it is he said, “These courts will not yet be extended across the province.” I asked him specifically: “When will they be? At what time will this government have on its agenda to make other courts officially bilingual?” He did not answer that question. Whether he chose not to answer it or he forgot to answer it, the fact is that he did not address that very important question. That is the question I will satisfy by this amendment, which will mean that the government of its own accord, in council, in secret, by itself, will not be able to go along and declare other areas as having those services.
I do not think there is any doubt where the Premier wants to take this province. I have quoted from the Premier on 5 July 1985 in answer to a question by the then member for Ottawa West, Mr Baetz, who asked the Premier with regard to this whole question about bilingualism. The Premier said, and I quote again from Hansard of 5 July 1985, “1 said publicly some years ago that at some time I would like to see this province officially bilingual.”
My concern is that if we give the right to the Premier to make this province officially bilingual, we are taking one giant step in that direction by giving the cabinet that power to do it through this section of the bill. If we are able to strike this section out of the bill, it removes the possibility that he will take a large step towards bilingualism by virtue of having removed the right of the Premier and his cabinet to make that decision.
I have to emphasize that there are a number of examples in this House where we in our caucus have fought very, very hard to try to keep the government from having more and more power. When you have that power in the form of regulations that the government can make rather, than in statutes which are passed by the Legislature, then it allows a certain form of decision-making to take place that is not publicly accountable. What happens, and I well know that when those decisions are made --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Order, please. I would like to bring to all members’ attention that there seem to be a lot of conversations and it is becoming distracting for the chair who is attempting to try to listen to the debate. We would like all honourable members to please allow the honourable member the opportunity to be heard. Thank you.
Mr Cousens: There were two particular instances recently in which our caucus tried to hold back powers from the government. To me, my request of the government to back off on having the power to make any future jurisdictions officially bilingual is in the same context as when our caucus made an effort to persuade the government to do otherwise.
One was the Mining Amendment Act, Bill 71. I am just looking for the date of the official Hansard. On 27 November our House leader, who was carrying this bill for us, was able to articulate at some length the concerns of our caucus. I want to quote what the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) said, “We have concerns about the amount that is now going to be removed from the legislation and put into regulation,” and he went on to explain that difference.
Many people who are watching the actions of this House do not fully understand the point I am trying to make, I am sure, but here is an example in a particular bill where power was being taken out of legislation and given to the minister and to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The moment you do that, it ceases to make this place meaningful. It ceases to make the Legislature the place of accountability for all politicians. It means that an order in cabinet is sufficient to handle things. It means that a regulation that is devised and approved by a minister is sufficient to handle things.
What I am concerned about is that a similar kind of ruling or decision by the government on an important issue such as this, which gives it the power to extend and expand French-language courts and bilingual courts across the province into all areas, is a further example of the government having more power than it should have in order in council.
Another example we have debated just within the last month, and our caucus strongly and vociferously tried to fight, is the Independent Health Facilities Act. That is an example where the minister’s powers are extreme. We in the Legislature have no appeal of her decision.
Anyone who wants to get a licence for certain operations has to go through another process that is under the auspices and power of the minister herself.
A doctor, under this new legislation, can no longer set up a clinic. It is now totally and exclusively up to the minister whether she calls for proposals and whose proposals she accepts. There is no understanding of the market demand on it. The district health councils have no authority. We in our caucus said then and I say again now that it is an abuse of authority. It is taking power away from the Legislative Assembly that should reside here in the hands of all elected members and not in the hands of a few who run the inner workings of the government.
Public accountability is absolutely essential on important legislative matters. We have a sense of responsibility to those who elect us to make sure that we are protecting all their rights. I am convinced, I am persuaded, that we have a responsibility to provide services for francophones across our province, but I am convinced there are problems that exist now under Bill 8.
Bill 8, the French Language Services Act, recently had a minority report that was submitted by a number of members from our own caucus who are increasingly concerned about the way this bill is being handled and enacted.
By the way, there is a clause at the end of this bill that is similar to the one that is in the one I am trying to fight right now, which would continue to give expanded powers to cabinet to make changes at its own discretion. Although I cannot find it while I am standing here now, it is there and it is that very kind of power that was the source of concern and complaint in this minority report that was tabled by our own members who were on the standing committee on government agencies. In their report on French-language services, they are concerned about the abuse and misuse of power by the government. An awful lot of people in the province may be very thrilled at the way language services are being expanded, but they are being expanded in secret, in camera and without public dialogue and debate by members of this Legislature.
I would like to put on the record some of the points they made when they made their minority report. The fact that it is a minority report indicates that here in this House there are 17 Progressive Conservatives. I would think that of the remaining 113 members of the House, they would be on the other side of the ledger on this.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I only see one Conservative over there.
Mr Cousens: That is right. My honourable friend the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr Sweeney) only sees one Conservative, and maybe that is also an issue. We need more of them and I hope in the next election we will see an awful lot more here. The fact of the matter is that this very issue might bring many more of them to this House than the member thinks.
Some of the points that were raised in the minority report had to do with the opportunities for unilingual anglophones that are being lost and the significant and growing cost of providing services that appear to many to meet no real need. I think the point they made as well:
“Progressive Conservative governments have been responsible for many of the services now available to francophones. These include the translation of Ontario statues, the creation of the Council of Franco-Ontarian Affairs as a government advisory body, the establishment of the office of the government co-ordinator of French language services, the use of French in the Legislature and the courts, the opening of bilingual civil service positions and the establishment of the right of every francophone child to have an education in French.”
That kind of leadership had been present before this government, but their concern goes on that there is an increasingly widespread perception that the implementation of the French Language Services Act is prejudicial. They said:
“Unless action is taken on the part of government to clear up the present misperceptions about the act, the usefulness of such legislation will be obscured by heightened tensions between franco- and anglo-Ontarians. It has been and continues to be the consistent policy of the PC Party that a select committee of the Legislature should be formed in order to review the implementation of the French Language Services Act to ensure that the designation of services to be provided in French, the criteria for designating bilingual positions and the policy towards bilingualism in government offices is consistent, realistic, effective and is not prejudicial to current or future employees.”
Underlying the concerns that were expressed in this minority report is a very deep and fundamental concern that the actions that have been taken by the government are not necessarily always consistent with the will and wishes of the Legislature. The government has the power under the existing legislation, and yet there is a growing feeling that this power does not necessarily reflect the interests and the desires of many, many people in the province.
In order to handle that, by establishing a select committee that could look at this subject on a continuing and ongoing basis, there would be a sense in which we could gather the consensus between opposing views, and all those views would be tabled and understood and there would be an ongoing dialogue between English and French and other cultural groups that make up our province.
I think what we have to do is to fully understand the desire on the part of Ontarians to show respect and understanding and compassion for all people who make up our province, but also to put it into the balance of the time as to when we should do it whether or not a certain action is in the interests of all.
I would like to go on record as saying it is only fair that the issue of French-language rights has been an integral part of our province’s social and political evolution. It has aroused deep emotions and divisions in the province, straining English and French relations at both the provincial and federal levels. Yet despite this constant potential for divisiveness, progress has been made in public attitudes, government policy and legislation. One might be tempted to say that the issue has come full circle, for it can be well imagined that the present government policy of support for French language rights has evolved in a natural and good way from previous policies of previous governments that --
Mr Daigeler: Not through you. Don.
Mr Cousens: If the honourable member wants to speak in the debate, I would ask him to stand up and speak, If the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler) has comments. I am not finding this the easiest speech I ever had to make. I see it as one of the most sensitive I have ever had to make as a politician. It is very easy to have interjections and comments. A member can be very eloquent sitting down when he does not stand up and speak to it. If he has got something to say, I would challenge the honourable member to stand up in his place at the appropriate time and make his comments then so that they can go on Hansard and everybody else can know where he stands. I happen to have the courage of my convictions to do that today. I believe in what I am doing from a very deep sense of compassion for all sides of the issue.
Mr Daigeler: If you would give other members a chance, I would.
Mr Cousens: I will give the honourable member for Nepean a chance and I will look forward to hearing whatever he has to say, knowing that it would be something I would pay close attention to.
I have to go on record as saying that when we look at our history and when we look at our country, I think we have to understand that Ontario always has been a multicultural province. As we look back in the history of this province, we have had people from many parts of the world, not unlike now, but in those days it was people coming from Europe, the United States and other different parts of the world, but now what we see is a tremendous cosmopolitan picture taking place.
The multicultural fabric and mosaic that makes up my riding is not atypical to what is happening across the province as a whole. I think of Milliken Mills High School in my community where at least 52 different languages are represented from the different nationalities that are present in that one school of about 1,200 students. I have an elementary school in Milliken where there are 48 different languages spoken, When you start looking at the blend and the mixture, everyone is benefiting from the cross-section that is beginning to take place.
What I point to is the fact that if the government is given the authority to expand French-language services right across the province, one of the areas where it might choose to do so could well be an area that is my own. York region presently does not have a great number of francophone Canadians or people who speak that language. We do happen to have in York region the minister responsible for francophone affairs, my good friend the member for York North (Mr Beer), who is responsible for that area. Yet if you look at York region and at the power this present bill would give the government, the government would have the authority under this section of the bill to add counties or districts to the schedule of those areas that could be officially bilingual and to provide those services.
I would take strong exception if the minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council were to decide to make York region courts officially bilingual. In fact, when I first read the bill, I must admit that I saw “York,” and I had to find out, through legal people, when you look at the judicial area of York, that it really pertains to Metropolitan Toronto, which under Bill 8 has been declared a French-language area; so that Metropolitan Toronto really has already been agreed to as one of those areas that can have French-language services.
Under this bill, the government would have the authority to come along and make the court in Newmarket bilingual; if that were to happen, what I would have to say is that we have more other languages present in York region than we have French. This is true of the census. When you look at the census -- and I am dealing with the data from the 1986 census -- they are talking about, in York region, over 12.800 Italians and 5,145 Chinese, both of which area larger number than the 1,245 francophones in York region. We have more Greeks in York region than we have francophones.
What we are really saying here is that it would not be right for the government to come along and make York region a bilingual court any more than it would be right to make other courts bilingual that are not already designated, because of the concentration of francophones in those areas in which we recognize, in supporting the intent of this bill, that they should have those rights and services.
Let us take the logical extension of two or three points. The Premier has said that he would like to make the province bilingual, and the fact is that he would now have the power to do that within the court system. That is more power than I would like to see existing in the Lieutenant Governor in Council. I think we have to have a tremendous amount of respect for what goes on in the courts and, as I look at what is happening in the courts, we see how French language rights have been expanded and supported under the Judicature Act of 1980 from the House of Commons, and we have seen how there are ways in which the French-language services are being provided for.
I have to come back and say that, for us to do that totally and completely across Ontario is not only premature, but it is not called for and I see it as something that the people of the province would seriously question. I think it could become an issue where, if you were to have a referendum in Ontario and ask whether or not we would want to have this power in the hands of the Premier and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the results from across the province would largely support the position I am taking.
The people would not want to see that happen. They would not want to see that extra power in the hands of the Premier and cabinet, and they would not want to see the cabinet use that power to expand French-language services across the entire province, to make all the courts bilingual. That is what is at stake in passing this bill without the amendment that I am going to propose when we go into committee.
I think there can never be enough sensitivity to meet and understand the needs of all the people in Ontario. I know there was a previous instance when I spoke in this Legislature with regard to the use of French by the Chair and many people misinterpreted my position then. I know that in talking on this bill, as I have today, I am also taking a tremendous chance that people might misinterpret what I am saying.
I have not before agonized as much as I have over this bill. I do it from a sense of conscience and a sense of belief. I do it from a sense in which I strongly support the expansion of French-language services in the courts as delineated in schedule 1 and schedule 2 of Bill 62, which we are debating.
To take it further and to give that power to a Premier who is on record as saying he wants to make the province officially bilingual at some point is far beyond the power that I want to give the Premier and the Liberal cabinet. I would be extremely satisfied and pleased if the parliamentary assistant, the member for Yorkview (Mr Polsinelli), in his response and before this goes for a vote could give me a number of concessions that have to do with what I am trying to say here.
There has to be acceptance of the intent that I want to have -- let’s not see the government take its 94 seats and use them for an expansion of power in language services which in effect, if used incorrectly -- in other words, if misused -- would be an abuse not only of this House but of the intent that really this bill should have. This bill has an opportunity to take services a natural step forward and a natural evolution from Bill 8 and the French Language Services Act, 1986. That we can support. But to take it even further and to give that power an extra push, so that it is at the whim or the discretion of the inner cabinet, they can come along and announce it.
I see this as a step towards making Ontario officially bilingual, and that is a concern that very seriously is one that I think should be publicly debated. I think it is something that should have the whole Legislature in the debate on it. I think it is something that should involve the people of the province, so that the public is fully cognizant of what it means to be officially bilingual.
The fact of the matter is, when you look at our desire to provide French-language services where numbers warrant in those areas, I see that as totally honourable and totally good. If it turns out that another area has an influx of francophones who want to get away from Bourassa’s government or from other jurisdictions, then I personally could support the expansion of certain services in those areas as well and designate them at that time in this House to provide the kind of language facilities that are important to them in their own protection of rights and freedoms.
One of the reasons I have great problems in this government’s coming clean and being honest and being capable of doing the right thing is that a number of occasions have passed and in the order paper questions, along with other members of our caucus, have submitted questions that asked the government how much it is spending on French-language services, only to get a feeling for it, only to get an understanding of the cost. We have never had answers to those questions. There are numerous other questions that I have asked which had to do with the expansion of these services to find out and determine in an open and public way just what it is costing.
I see a situation arising in which the province, because of its own agenda, could take this bill a step further than it is intended, so that those counties, judicial districts and territorial districts that are not presently determined to be providers of total bilingual accords could then happen.
I think we are talking about an issue that affects many people in the province. The last thing I want to do is be an alarmist and raise a subject that is not going to be a situation. If the government, in its own choice of times, decides it wants to add more jurisdictions. let it come back to the House to decide it. Let it not do it in camera, behind closed doors; let it do it here in the presence of all the people of the province.
There is an issue at stake. If I am dragging a red herring, so to speak, through the Legislature, I am only doing it because I believe in the power that we have as legislators to do what we are elected to do. I underline, I am not prepared to give this power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, because that gives the Premier and his cabinet the option to make that decision whenever they want to. I believe we are doing the right thing now by allowing these judicial districts to be made bilingual. But I cannot and I will not accept that this power should be in the hands of a few people in cabinet and not in the presence of the whole Legislature.
I see the province of Ontario as being tremendously -- how would you say it? -- empathetic to the needs of all people. I see us, I myself and members of our caucus, tremendously concerned that the needs of francophone Ontarians are protected and represented and in some way enshrined in legislation. I do not see the government having the power to take this bill a step further, that will take it out of the serving of the needs of the francophones but making the courts throughout the province bilingual in areas where there is not a need. There may be a need perceived by the government, but not in those areas.
I would also go further. The real needs have to be identified, and whatever those real needs are, they should be the ones we address. As we look to the future of our province, I hope we will always have a sense of compassion and concern for all people. I would hope that by giving some movement on the part of the government to back away on this particular amendment that I am proposing, the government will have a fresh sense of responsibility to the Legislature where it counts, to the whole population who has elected its members, and to all of us who have a responsibility to serve our constituents.
This is a matter that I do not take lightly, and I hope that in my remarks I have not said anything that could be taken as an offence by any person or minority group or francophone in Ontario. I genuinely hope that my concerns, as expressed, are seen as ones that put the power in the hands of the Legislature rather than in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. I am just sorry that the government has tried to slip this through in a very sneaky way by having one little line in a bill that will give that extended power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, where the cabinet can make that decision. If the decisions are made here then I have a sense in which there can be a public and full debated. If the decision is made now, when we have been given maybe half an hour to the presentations, three quarters of an hour, and then it passes in 15 minutes from now, the government uses its 94-seat majority, then let that be.
All I can say is that I have put on the record a very personal perspective, and yet one that I think represents a large number of the people of the province who do not want to see Ontario become officially bilingual, who do not want to see this government have that kind of power, who have a sense in which there can be a balance that takes place, where if there is a decision to expand these services we can debate it, discuss it here in the House, the public forum for debate. If the government wants to have some kind of public discussion, let a committee of the Legislature go out and discuss it and debate it in -- York region, as I talked about earlier, Brant-Haldimand, Durham, Leeds-Grenville or Cornwall, or it could go out to the whole province and say, “Do you want to have the chance of that happening?” When the government wants to do that, it will have used the power correctly.
In the meantime, I am on record. I have made my point. I have made it, hopefully, with the balance that should go into debates of this nature, where we have to really have an understanding of the sensitivity of different points of view. I know the member for Nepean was making a number of statements as I was speaking and he, I think, misjudges and misunderstands the context in which I am making this presentation. The last thing I want to do is to be painted as a biased person who has no sense of compassion for all people.
I do not trust the Liberals. I do not think they will use this power as they should. I sincerely and genuinely hope that the parliamentary assistant will come along and agree to the amendment I am going to table -- I know he has a copy of it -- and should that be the case this will show that we are taking advantage of the expansion of services that are agreed upon under Bill 8 but we are also limiting the power of government so that this power will not be misused in the wrong way.
I know some people in eastern Europe are looking to have an impact on democracy. They are now in a position where, through their public protests and their statements, government is opening up and they are having a public opportunity. I would say, let that opportunity continue to reside in this, the Legislative Assembly, and not in the hands of the cabinet of this province.
I trust that my point has been made. I am concerned. I hope that the government will have an openness of mind and spirit to what it is I am asking for.
Mr Grandmaître: I appreciate the member’s comments and I appreciate his concerns, but I want to remind him that this government in introducing Bill 8 --
Mr Ballinger: En francais.
Mr Grandmaître: Yes, I will, especially Bill 8. What this government did was simply use the same 22 designated areas as the former government did and we implemented these services, or we are implementing these services, and there is no way in Bill 8 or in any bill that we talk about official bilingualism in Ontario, no way that we mention or use the word “bilingualism” in Ontario. I am surprised and I am sorry that the member for Markham uses the word “bilingualism” and really confuses not only his constituents but constituents right across the province of Ontario.
Je veux simplement souligner que j’apprécie les commentaires et les soucis de mon collègue de Markham (M. Cousens). Par contre, je dois lui rafraîchir la mémoire en disant que le gouvernement de l’Ontario n’a jamais mentionné la possibilité d’un Ontario bilingue pour 1989.
Alors, j’espère que mon collègue de Markham va continuer à faire confiance au gouvernement, qu’il va respecter la Loi 8 et donner aux francophones les services qui sont mentionnés dans la Loi 8. C’est là le but premier et primordial du gouvernement. Dans 20 ans ou dans 30 ans, lorsqu’on aura quitté Queen’s Park, on se parlera du bilinguisme en Ontario.
Mr Cousens: I thank my friend the member for Ottawa East for his remarks. If he had been here for my full presentation -- I support the designated areas as they have decided here, and in looking at the history of them and how they were established, I accept the fact that those areas were already areas in which the previous government was trying to provide services where those numbers warranted. Those areas have the numbers and they do warrant it. So please understand, I am anxious to see these services advanced and supported.
I guess the problem you have, Mr Speaker, and the member for Ottawa East, is, how do you talk about this subject without bringing in the term of the two major languages which are part of the discussion? The bill itself brings in bilingual juries, bilingual documents. The bill itself brings in the whole idea of bilingual judges, bilingual officers. So the bill itself is the source of my information in talking about the bilingual nature of the bill, and to come along and call it by some other name -- a spade is a shovel or a spade is a spade. All I am trying to do is call a spade a shovel when I am describing this bill.
I see it as no part of mine in opposing those areas that have been designated. I am concerned and I ask the honourable member to just look at the power that would come to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, where they can add counties or districts that would have the French-language services as per the ones that are listed in schedules 1 and 2.
That is the source of my concern. I do not want to see that power in the hands of the government. I want to see it back here in the Legislature, where the member and I and the public at large can debate those issues at that time. In the meantime, let’s get on with it. We have enough to do here now. I do not like surprises; I never have. Maybe Santa will have the odd surprise for me, but I do not want the Premier to come along with a surprise and suddenly say, “We have decided that this area will now have this service.”
Mr Polsinelli: Most of what this bill does is it recognizes what has already been happening in the province of Ontario in terms of the administration of justice and is a statutory confirmation of that.
What it does new is that it extends the right to lawyers in Ontario in eight areas of this province to file their court documents in either of this country’s official languages. That is what it does new. It gives the government the power to extend those districts as services become available and as and when the government decides that it is appropriate to extend the districts. Quite frankly, I am surprised that the member for Markham can speak for 40 minutes on that very narrow point of a very narrow bill.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 95, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
The Chair: At this moment I would like to list all questions, comments and proposed amendments to different sections. I would just like to list the sections. So far, I have received an amendment to add a section following section 12, section 12a, from the third party, the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham). Do other members have any other sections that they would like to have looked at?
No? Is that it? Therefore, in that case, shall sections 1 to 12 carry?
The Chair: I am sorry, you are quite correct. I think the member for London North wanted to address section 12.
Mr Philip: I wanted to address section 4, and I do not suspect that the minister will agree with my comments, but at least I think that some mention should be made of it. Section 4 --
The Chair: Hold on, please, before you start.
That is why in the beginning I always like to ask, and I would have appreciated it if you had told me that, but since you want to talk on section 4, then before we start doing that, are there any more? I have somebody who has requested to speak on section 4, on section 12, add a new section 12a. Any other sections, before we start dealing with these?
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Philip: I do not have an amendment to this, but I would like, at least, to put some comments on the record concerning section 4, because section 4 requires that the operators of commercial vehicles be covered by liability insurance. No one can object to that. However, one would be remiss if one did not point out that it is the very inaction of this government in relation to how the auto insurance companies operate in this province that are forcing or encouraging a number of commercial carriers to in fact violate the law in this regard.
We have seen instances where, for example, one tow truck driver came to me. His insurance for equivalent insurance in Manitoba would have been $47,000. Here it was over $200,000. We have seen that the ineptitude of this government in coming to grips with the problem of escalating automobile and vehicle insurance is one of the main contributors to people faced with a problem of paying the bills and going without any kind of insurance at all. While we cannot condone such action, one can at least understand that this government is contributing to such action by its own inability to deal with the problem of the escalating cost of insurance.
Furthermore, we know that the government has introduced another bill on insurance which, in the context of this so-called safety legislation, in fact violates the thrust of safety. Indeed, if we look at the comments of John Bates, who for years was the editor of Bus and Truck magazine and who now, wearing another hat of many groups that are concerned about the carnage on our roads through a lack of safety and, indeed, through an excessive contribution that alcohol makes to that problem of safety, a man very knowledgeable in transportation -- we see his association saying that the government has introduced insurance legislation that is actually going to increase accidents.
So we have the irony then that here we have a government that is introducing legislation to make it tougher on commercial vehicles in terms of carrying insurance while at the same time not doing anything about the very major contributing causes to their not carrying insurance in the first place.
We also see the problem that the trucking companies are being faced with, thanks to the deregulation of trucking in the province. We have seen what deregulation means in the United States, both in the airline industry and, indeed, in the trucking industry. We see that deregulation means lack of safety. We see that some companies, thanks to deregulation, are not able to pay the bottom line and therefore are likely to cut back in terms of maintenance, as well as in terms of payment to their employees and, indeed, in terms of capital expenditures of buying adequate equipment because they simply cannot predict what will happen next year or the year after, thanks to the deregulatory process that was initiated, first, by the federal Liberal government. then made into a religion by the succeeding federal Conservative government as part of its total free trade policy and now thanks to this government, headed by a Premier who promised that he would stop free trade if he got his majority. He introduced deregulation trucking legislation, continentalist legislation, free trade legislation by any standards, that can only contribute to lack of safety, increased accidents on the road.
Now we have the same government saying, “Well, we will introduce safety legislation, because after all, if we are going to have companies that have to take risks in terms of safety of their vehicles, we at least want to make sure that they have adequate insurance so that somehow the people who suffer carnage as a result of this are going to be compensated.”
While section 4 makes sense in a total context, it can be seen as absolute hypocrisy in the light of this government’s action in terms of deregulation, in terms of raising the costs of insurance, in terms of not keeping its promise of the last election to lower insurance and indeed in terms of its pro-free trade policies that were seen in previous legislation introduced by this same ministry.
The Chair: Any more questions and comments on section 4? If not, shall section 4 carry? Carried.
Section 4 agreed to.
Mr Cousens: I just find it interesting that section 5, as I read it, is to correct the mistake where the government had introduced previous legislation. It was so incomprehensible, so complicated, so unworkable that now they have to correct it. We are pleased to support the government’s effort at correcting its own mistakes.
Section 5 agreed to.
The Chair: Before I try sections 6 to 11, will anybody announce to me right now that he will want to comment on sections 6 to 11? No.
Mr Philip: It is more spontaneous.
The Chair: That is why at the beginning we ask to list.
Sections 6 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to take this opportunity to speak to the inadequacies of section 12 in Bill 95. To be specific, I think we have a wonderful opportunity here to take a look at the safety on our streets, and unfortunately on our highways as well, not only when it comes to people riding motorcycles, which is section 88 of the legislation, but when it comes to citizens of Ontario, young people and older people, riding bicycles. I had hoped that at this point we would have had from this government some type of inclusion in Bill 95 to cover the problem of people meeting with tremendous accident rates and coming to some kind of conclusions around legislating that we insist that members of the public of Ontario wear helmets when they are riding bicycles.
I speak very strongly on this point. I think that because of the statistics, as we see them today and certainly in the past and even more so in the future as we see a trend towards more bicycle riding in the province of Ontario and across North America, we know now that between three million and seven million Canadians ride bicycles, to some degree, every day of the year in Canada. We also know that 14 per cent of all paediatric injury deaths in Ontario from 1985 to 1987 were attributed to bicycle accidents.
Virtually all these deaths resulted from head injuries. I really would urge this government to move very quickly to include as part of the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act the requirement that citizens of Ontario wear helmets.
We are told that 75 per cent of annual deaths from bicycle accidents are due to head injuries.
We know that a recent study in the United States found that riders who wore helmets had an 85 per cent reduction in their risk of head injury.
Why should I be so concerned? Not only as a parent and as a person who has been involved in school systems across this province as we try to advise our young people about accident risks, and hats off to the Ontario Head Injury Association, which has done its share of making the public aware of the tragedies that are associated with these kinds of accidents. It has come out with pamphlets, one entitled A Consumer’s Guide to Bicycle Helmets.
I would advise the members of the government that it is true we do not have a Canadian standard, but there are American standards that have been approved, and they are found in the stores across Ontario. There is a little pamphlet called How Do I Choose A Bike Helmet? For those parents who are interested in what we would consider responsible prevention of head injury and possible death -- certainly adults know about these things, but children have to be encouraged -- there is a pamphlet that tells you exactly what you should be looking for and the sticker that you would find inside the helmet. We know that the American national standards helmets are available across Ontario and I would urge the government to develop our own so that we feel much more comfortable with that.
Some more statistics and then I will close: I really think when we start seeing as a lead article in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 1989 -- and I think most of my colleagues in the House know of the importance of that particular publication -- that wearing a cycling helmet reduced a risk of head injury by 75 per cent, we should be looking very seriously at legislation. They concluded, and I will quote for my colleagues: “Bicycle helmets are highly effective in preventing head injury. Helmets are particularly important for children since they suffer the majority of serious head injuries from bicycling accidents.”
The journal found that the use of helmets is associated with a 75 per cent decrease in the risk of head injury and an 85 per cent decrease in the risk of brain injury in cyclists. As cycling becomes more popular, and we all hope it will, head injury from cycling accidents is expected to rise. We know from the research and from the literature, and from the hospitals that have provided us with the statistics, unfortunately from the emergency departments of hospitals, that helmets will drastically diminish the rate of head injuries due to cycling. We have seen fit to introduce this legislation or to pass legislation for people who in fact operate motorcycles, and I think it is time that we do the same for our citizens who are riding bicycles.
Mr Speaker, it would have been my pleasure to introduce a motion today, but I know that you would have ruled me out of order. I wanted to get my intent on the record, because I intend to pursue this, I hope, along with the minister. We have had some discussions and I am looking very much forward to introducing a bill in the next session of this Legislature so that we can deal with this issue. I know that the concern of the government right now is the lack of Canadian legislation around standards for helmets. We do have American-approved helmets. They are available for sale. This is the same argument that we faced when we were looking at protecting our young people with hockey helmets. I think we are revisiting the same kind of statistics. It is time now for us to get ahead of it and help our young people along in life as well as older people. No one ever thinks that will happen to them.
Mr Philip: I simply want to raise one issue with the minister, and it will take me 30 seconds to do so. That is with relation to helmets. It seems to me that in a pluralistic society we have to have a respect for the religious practices of a number of our minority groups. I see the former Minister of Education, who is the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward), nodding his head over there and I know that he has had to deal with the concerns of the Sikh community with regard to the wearing of the five Ks.
I would ask the Minister of Transportation if he has considered the sensitivity of this issue to members of the Sikh community, that exemptions should be considered from the requirement of wearing a helmet for those wearing turbans. This has been done in some other jurisdictions, not just under transportation legislation but under other legislation, employment legislation of various kinds. It seems to me that if we have not required the members of the Sikh community to wear helmets in war when people are shooting at them, and we are quite prepared to say how great they are in defending our liberty, then we might also consider having some concern for their liberty in the practice of their religion and their option, if they so choose, to at least exempt themselves from the helmets because it does cause some problems for them.
Hon Mr Wrye: I must say first of all that my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) raises an issue which the Legislature faces from time to time in terms of trying to ensure that the maximum level of safety be afforded to our citizens and the balancing of the human rights of those in the Sikh community and others versus the desire that we have in situations where safety is a very real question to ensure that all of our citizens are as safe as possible and do not ultimately burden themselves and others through an accident which might be prevented. I can say to the honourable member that we will continue to take a look at this issue and try to move as sensitively as possible.
I am particularly taken as well by the comments by my friend the member for London North. I know she feels personally very strongly on this matter. I look forward to working with her and all members of the Legislature as we see perhaps if Ontario in the years and months, maybe a couple of years. to come can be a leader in this field as we try to develop standards that will improve safety.
Hon Mr Ward: I think we are close to wrapping up this bill, so I would seek unanimous consent to continue.
The Chair: Is there unanimous consent to wrap this up?
Section 12 agreed to.
Mr Kormos: Very briefly, I appreciate the response that the minister had during second reading when I talked about the manner in which standards or maximums for excessive speeds are imposed, because what I raised was that there is a real distinction between going 30 kilometres over in a 50-kilometre zone and going 30 kilometres over in a 100-kilometre zone. Yet the fines themselves, and especially the guidelines for the out-of-court settlements which are applicable to most fines, do not reflect that distinction.
As I say. I appreciate the minister’s interest and response to what I perceive as a real problem, especially to those people who live in residential areas with modest speed limits, when they have characters going at double the speed limit up and down the street, yet they may only in fact, in terms of what they are exceeding the limit by, be exceeding the limit by what amounts to a more modest type of penalty or a more modest range of penalty. I appreciate that it is not going to be achieved in this assault on the issue.
I am wondering whether, rather than stated kilometres per hour in excess of a posted limit, any thought has been given to using percentiles; that is to say, if one exceeds the speed limit by 20 per cent of that speed limit or 30 per cent or 40 per cent, whether that was not a preferable or a more appropriate manner in which to assess fines. I would leave it at that for this particular round, I appreciate the need to make fines more realistic and basically make up for lost time in the erosion that has occurred by way of inflation, but I am hoping that perhaps somewhere soon down the road we can look at a fining system which more accurately reflects the degree of hazard that the offence creates.
Hon Mr Wrye: I am always pleased to take under advisement the suggestions from my friend the member for Welland-Thorold and will do so in this case. I would remind him only that in some of those cases in urban centres where the speeding is quite excessive, given a very low speed limit, the other option of course accrues to the authorities, to lay charges other than speeding.
Section 13 agreed to.
Sections 14 to 24, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
The House recessed at 1805.
The House resumed at 2000.
House in committee of the whole.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendment.
Hon Mr Ward: I do not know whether it would be appropriate at this time to suggest that perhaps the members of the Legislature would like to deal with both the 22nd and 23rd orders at once. Is that possible? I seek members’ guidance on that.
Bill 94 provides for an increase in indemnities for members of the executive council at a rate of 5.5 per cent. Bill 91 increases the basic indemnities and expense allowances by 5.5 per cent as well as providing for additional indemnities for members of the Legislature who have additional duties.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): The government House leader has asked for unanimous consent to deal with two bills at the same time. Is there unanimous consent?
An hon member: No.
The Acting Speaker: No, there is not. Proceed.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ward moved second reading of Bill 94, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act.
Hon Mr Ward: I will be very brief. The legislation before the members today provides for an increase in indemnities for members of the executive council, that being the Premier (Mr Peterson), cabinet ministers and parliamentary assistants. The amount of the increase proposed for the current year is 5.5 per cent.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I will not speak at length on this particular bill because I think the majority of the debate should be taking place on the next bill. Suffice it to say that our caucus will not be supporting the amendment to the executive council bill.
Normally we deal with the amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act first, but I think that there are valid and extensive concerns that have been expressed over the years by our caucus on the process that is used to set wages for both the cabinet and members of the assembly, and I would like to have the opportunity to speak at more length on those reasons when we get to the Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr Harris: I also will be brief on this particular bill. I always try very hard to avoid individuals when we deal with these types of bills that are before the House, so let me just collectively say, and then move right on, that I doubt the whole lot of them are worth an increase. However, I do want to put those thoughts behind me. I wanted to make that one comment. It is in the Christmas spirit.
I want to say, though, that when one looks at the total compensation that would be paid to a member of the executive council, quite frankly it is not at all out of line. The sacrifices that one makes in putting oneself forward and serving in the capacity as a minister of the crown are --
Mr Laughren: You are just saying that because you have been there.
Mr Harris: I have been there, and it is an onerous responsibility, believe me. I will reserve most of my comments for the next bill, but the concern I have is the differential between that job and the job of a member of the Legislative Assembly. The right differential or the right amount of money is one that I am really not in a position to judge and --
Hon Mr Ward: That might be soon.
Mr Harris: That could possibly be, and no doubt whatever remarks I am making today may be thrown back at me at some date in the future. I am very cognizant of that and am confining my remarks, as I always do, to only that which I believe in. It does get back, though, to the point of whether the Premier ought to be the one making those decisions and whether the Premier and the government through the government House leader ought to be asking us to make these decisions.
As members of the government will probably point out quite correctly, I really do not have at this particular moment in time a vested interest in anything we are dealing with in this bill. I may have under Bill 91, when it is called, but the whole process is one that I was not comfortable with as it was handled by former administrations when I was in this chamber as a backbench member from 1981 to 1985. I did not agree with how that administration of the day handled it, and I am consistent in saying I do not agree with the way this administration is handling it. I think it is something that ought to be referred to a far more independent and less vested interest body than ourselves.
I might add one other point that I will repeat ‘ when we get to Bill 91 -- and I know the current House leader will agree with me -- that the timing of this legislation, although over the last few years has been historically at this particular time of the year, is totally inappropriate. It is not appropriate that increases for hardworking members of the executive council -- and those members who are there can judge who in fact they are and which of them are not -- not be dealt with in April.
This increase is retroactive to 1 April, as it ought to be. That is the effective date of this particular raise in pay, which I think is about the rate of inflation. There is no reason why, aside from the method, a responsible administration could not deal with these in a more appropriate fashion so that we are not dealing with retroactivity.
With those few comments, I would like to indicate that my party will also oppose passage of this legislation based on those principles that I have put forward,
Mr Kerrio: Mike, why don’t you refuse to take your increase?
Mr Laughren: I am going to make a couple of comments about the bill and why I and my caucus are opposing this bill. Despite the comments of the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio), this caucus is opposing this bill not because we think $31,749 is too much extra for a member of cabinet but, rather, the fact that the cabinet decides itself exactly what that amount will be, and no one else. This chamber does not decide what that amount will be. Every fairminded member of this assembly would admit that it is the cabinet, and in particular the Premier, who decides exactly how much this amount will be, as he will decide what amount ordinary members of this assembly will earn with the bill that is to follow.
I would not be opposed to this bill if there was an element of fairness in the process. In the same way, if I could make an analogy, later this evening, presumably if the order of business proceeds, we will be voting on Bill 60, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act; I would be supporting it if it was part of a package of fair tax reform. I would also be supporting this amendment to the Executive Council Act if it was part of a package of reform for remuneration for members of this assembly, but it is not. That is why I and my caucus are opposed to this.
There is absolutely no question whatsoever, and members of the third party will tell the members in the corridors of power, that when the decision comes down every year, it is the cabinet that decides, first of all, what ministers’ salary is going to be and, secondly, what the salary of the members of the rest of the assembly will be. This is not a consultative process at all, not even remotely so.
For those reasons, I could not possibly vote for a bill that distorts the democratic process the way this bill does.
Mr Harris: The member for Nickel Belt alluded to members of the third party who may have been there. I think the member was inferring from our recollection and experience that members of the cabinet made this decision. Other former cabinet members may wish to comment, but I do not recall, as a member of cabinet, ever being consulted. There is one member of the executive council who decides these things, and I am sure it is the same today as it was five years ago, or 10, 15 or 20. That man -- or woman, but it is a man today -- resides in the Premier’s office.
Mr Laughren: I agree totally, and I stand corrected in my remarks because I suspect what the member for Nipissing says is absolutely correct.
Mr J. M. Johnson: For many years I sat on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and on the standing committee on members’ services, and we always had a presentation from the chairman of the Commission on Election Finances, Donald MacDonald in the last few years.
The commission always made a recommendation that the members receive six, seven, eight per cent, or whatever, in the spring. It was always deferred until the fall; some time in late November the government introduced a bill saying the members would receive X number of dollars in increase in pay. We received press coverage in the spring for the increase, we received press coverage in November or December, when the bill was introduced, and then, towards the last few days of December, it was a Christmas gift for the MPPs.
It is insulting. It is retroactive to 1 April. Why can the government not introduce the legislation in the early part of the spring, in April, May or June, and it is over and done with the one time? Most people feel that we get a 5.5 per cent increase three times in the year, and it just does not make sense.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. There are many private conversations that make it very difficult to hear the member for Wellington.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I also take exception to the fact that we have something like 31 parliamentary assistants receiving $9,808 a year. The Premier refuses to give the members a decent increase, but he provides 31 of his members with extra remuneration. There are two parliamentary assistants for the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Ramsay); this indicates either that the Minister of Agriculture and Food is incompetent or that he wants to featherbed a couple of members. In either case, it is not acceptable.
The individual who is down in the corner office should not be calling the shots constantly as he has for the last 50 years. We went through 42 years of the same principal calling all the shots. It is not acceptable. Surely if the members have the responsibility of passing the legislation, they should have some say. I would prefer to see it sent out to a commission such the Commission on Election Finances, which we have charged with the responsibility of recommending the remuneration for members, and all the expenses that go with it, to this assembly. Yet we have never accepted that.
The commission has indicated that if the government is not willing to listen, then it should take that responsibility away from it. The government should make up its mind whether it wishes to do so or not.
In closing, I would simply say that the Premier should tell us by May what we are going to receive and make it a one-shot deal and forget about the three stages.
Mr McGuigan: I am provoked to reply to the member for Wellington in expressing the opinion that we are featherbedding.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr McGuigan: The Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and I have maintained this for many years, really is five ministries rolled into one because there are five major agricultural areas in the province. I can just give them all. There is the red meat industry, the dairy industry, the poultry industry, the crops or grains and oilseeds industry and then the specialty crops such as tobacco and processing crops.
There are really five separate industries, some of which are competing with each other. For instance, the interest of the livestock feeder is for cheap grain; the interest of the grain producer is for expensive grain. On top of those five groups we superimpose the geography of Ontario stretching from Windsor to the Quebec border and into northern Ontario; we really run from about 3,300 heat units in southwestern Ontario down to 1,700 or 1,800 heat units in the far north.
I very proudly occupy one of those parliamentary assistant seats, and I am very proud to have my colleague the member for Cornwall (Mr Cleary) responsible for eastern Ontario where the main interest is especially in the dairy industry. I totally reject the suggestion that the minister or the Premier are in a exercise of featherbedding. What we are in is an exercise of bringing competence and good service to the agricultural industry of Ontario.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Maybe I should not carry this to an extreme, but I do not think anyone on this side of the House has said that the parliamentary assistants are not performing a useful function. That is not the point. Members of the opposition perform a very useful function too. I think our concern, I say to the member for Essex-Kent, is that this bill and the accompanying bill have been designed to featherbed the Liberal caucus and to provide extra funding and extra salary to the Liberal caucus members. That is the concern we have.
We have an equally important role to play. Opposition parties and opposition critics are supposed to keep the parliamentary assistants honest and are supposed to hold them accountable. We have a role to play, too. We have to keep in touch with interest groups and talk to people across this province, talk in our constituencies both within our own riding and within our portfolios that we are critics for.
So the member does not have to stand up here and justify his salary to us. I think what he has to do is justify the process that is used, which is a process whereby the Premier decides what he is going to get paid and what we are going to get paid, and it has absolutely no relationship to the role that we play in this Legislature.
I think that is the concern we have, and if the member for Essex-Kent does not understand that, he forgets from the time when he used to be on the opposition benches.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a few comments as well to one of the parliamentary assistants to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The problem with what he brings forth is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has been cut back in the funds that were allocated or budgeted by $57 million, and he knows that he feels guilty about that.
He did not really touch on that, but he has to feel guilty about it because whenever you have a budget and all of a sudden you spend $57 million less than was budgeted for, it quite obviously sends a message to agriculture and the people involved in agriculture that you are not very important, that as a matter of fact you are of very minute importance in the scheme and in the overall picture in the province of Ontario. I know the parliamentary assistant has a problem with that because whenever agriculture is faced with an almost 40 per cent reduction in net income as was predicted at the outlook conference in Ottawa on --
Mr Kerrio: Oh, come on. Talk to the bill.
Mr Villeneuve: It was. It was predicted at the outlook conference, a reduction of almost 40 per cent in net income. No other sector of our economy has faced that kind of reduction. In Ontario we are faced with a 12 per cent reduction in what was budgeted to agriculture; that stayed with the consolidated revenue fund of the province and was spent in other ministries. I say that the parliamentary assistant has a legitimate question and problem, and he has to speak to his minister.
I spoke with his colleague the other parliamentary assistant this morning in Cornwall, and we do have a problem there as well. That kind of cutting in budget certainly sends a message to Ontario: Agriculture is not on the front burner.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Could members be a bit less creative and stick more to the bill, please?
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to state very clearly that the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry summed it up quite well. There is a problem, and he knows what the problem is. If he were the Minister of Agriculture and Food he could solve it in a very short time and he would not need two assistants to do it.
I would also like to say that the member for Essex-Kent is a good friend and he is very sincere. He would be an excellent Minister of Agriculture and Food, and I wish him well.
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated in my opening remarks the bill provides for an increase, a cost-of-living increase basically, for members of the executive council, as does the next bill, Bill 91, which applies to all members of this Legislature.
I noted with interest that many of the comments related to the process of increasing members’ salary. I know that not only here but even at other levels of government, whether it be at school boards or at the municipal level or at the federal level, there is probably nothing that creates more discomfort for elected people than the obligation they have to set their own rates of remuneration.
Time and time again I have heard members in this House and in other forums speak about the difficulty that creates, and I have heard all kinds of suggestions for other mechanisms. In fact, I suppose there does exist the possibility of a mechanism around here because, as members know, the Commission on Election Finances issues a report annually, I think, that makes suggestions about increases in salaries. The reality is that the kinds of recommendations we have seen over the course of the past several years are many times in excess of the rate of inflation, and I for one do not believe that is appropriate. I believe that the members of this assembly are acting responsibly and appropriately in setting the increases at this rate.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Ward has moved second reading of Bill 94, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ward moved second reading of Bill 91, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Hon Mr Ward: This bill, like the previous bill, provides for an inflationary increase for the salaries of members, indemnities and their allowances.
Mr D. S. Cooke: This is one of those bills, like the previous one but this one more so, that we always tend to leave until the end of December and we always tend to leave until the last few days. It is retroactive to 1 April. For anybody who is interested this will mean that our basic pay will now be $43,374 with a tax-free allowance of $14,548.
I guess our concerns are partly to do with process and partly to do with the end result of this particular bill. The House leader for the government said just a couple of minutes ago with respect to the previous bill that they have not acceded to the recommendations of the Commission on Election Finances in the past because they have exceeded the rate of inflation.
He would know, and certainly the majority of his caucus members would know, that those recommendations were not even designed to deal with the rate of inflation; they were designed to deal with the fact that our pay over the years has fallen out of any rational or any reasonable comparison with the private sector or with other members, whether it be the federal members of Parliament or the members of the Quebec National Assembly, which we have looked at over time.
They were not designed to recommend that we were simply to get a cost-of-living increase. They were designed to see that members of the Legislature were paid adequately so that people who were considering this office did not say to themselves that they cannot consider this office because of a huge, drastic decrease in pay it would take; so that we would not get into the same kinds of problems that they have in other jurisdictions where other forms of pay have to be received in order to survive; and so that we would not get into the position of whether members were full-time or not.
We have had the experience in many parliaments in this place where members come here for one or two days a week and do not provide full service to their constituencies because the pay has not been adequate. There may be names of the members of the Legislature now; there certainly was a very famous member, a member of the Liberal caucus from Ottawa, who used to come here one or two days a week.
I do not think the pay we receive in this place is anything that we need to apologize for to the public, to our supporters or to our constituencies. I think that in many respects the pay we receive is simply inadequate and that if the members of the Liberal caucus were voting honestly and had real input into the compensation that we receive, we would be receiving more than 5.5 per cent.
The fact of the matter is, the bill that is now before us today will result in virtually all of the members of the Liberal caucus receiving more than that $43,374 plus $14,548 in expenses. They get parliamentary assistants. They get a large number of committee chairpersons. They will now get vice-chairpersons and, of course, they get whips and House leaders and all of the other positions.
I believe in the Liberal caucus there will now be almost in the mid-80s out of their 94 members who will receive additional pay, whether it be cabinet, parliamentary assistants or the other positions. There is absolutely no motivation, no interest, and very few members of their caucus care about paying members adequately because they receive anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 in additional pay. I think that is one of the grievances that we have on the opposition side, that this kind of assistance or additional indemnity is not available to members of the opposition.
I think that, as a member of the assembly who is also on the Board of Internal Economy, I have to express some very real concerns about the way we deal with some of the agencies we fund that have received substantial increases in pay that we and our staff do not receive.
Let me point out that last week at the Board of Internal Economy we had the Office of the Provincial Auditor come before us for supplementary estimates, we had the Office of the Ombudsman come before us for supplementary estimates, and we had the Office of the Legislative Assembly come before us for supplementary estimates.
The auditor’s office said to us that it was coming before us for a six per cent adjustment to wages to reflect the cost-of-living adjustment. That seems reasonable; that is what our staff got; that is what the public service got. What I remembered, and so did other members of the Board of Internal Economy, was that when we dealt with the original estimates -- and I ask the Liberal members to listen to this because I think this is pretty significant; what we did for that office earlier in the year -- they got a five per cent increase in their wages earlier in the year. When asked what the five percent was all about, it was merit pay. So they get merit pay at the beginning of the year of five per cent, and they get six per cent cost of living, for a total of 11 per cent on their wages. That is in the Provincial Auditor’s office, and we cannot criticize the Provincial Auditor; it is his job to criticize us.
The Ombudsman’s office involved the exact same process, as did the Legislative Assembly office. I believe the adjustment to the Legislative Assembly office for last week’s supplementary estimates was $3 million.
I am not suggesting that the merit pay and the cost-of-living adjustments were not appropriate. They could very well have been justified. I have some real serious questions about the process that was used, but they could very well be justified.
All I am saying is that it seems to me that the only difference in principle that is used in this place is that we are subject to criticism in the media and in the press. Let’s not focus on anyone else other than the Premier because we know it is the million-dollar Premier who makes the decision. He makes a decision; he is worried about negative press and, as a result, there has not been the basic reform in salaries in this place. The only basic reform we got was in the last few years of the Davis government, and there was a recommendation from the expenses commission that there be a $10,000 adjustment to our pay. We got the first instalment of $5,000 and we never got the second instalment of the additional $5,000.
I think that it may be politically cute not to do that; it may be politically attractive for the Premier to make comments in the press, as he did last week or the week before, saying that 5.5 per cent may not be adequate but the opposition wants 20 per cent or 30 per cent.
I am highly offended when the Premier makes those kinds of statements. We have never suggested that there be a 20 per cent or 30 per cent adjustment to the members’ pay. We have simply suggested that if you are going to set up an independent process, as was done with the Commission on Election Finances, then we should accept the recommendations. If you do not want to accept the recommendations then put all the power in the hands in the Premier and let’s pass the legislation; let’s not go through the farce that we go through every year let him set the wages.
But for him to get out and try to score political points by saying that the opposition wants 20 per cent or 30 per cent is highly offensive. We were asking for the second instalment. He was quoted in the Toronto papers as saying that this is what the opposition really wants, 20 per cent or 30 per cent -- never on the table, never discussed.
In fact, I think the first year that I was House leader a couple of years ago we had a discussion with the previous House leader about the process. He said he would argue on our behalf, but we know that the previous House leader was not particularly interested in reform either. He is very well-off, and the money he receives from this place, just as the money that the Premier receives from this place, is spending money. For some of us it is not spending money. It is our income. It is what we pay our mortgage with. It is what other members of my caucus fund their family with, pay for their cars and so forth. So it is their income.
The Premier is a millionaire. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) is extremely well-off and the former government House leader is very well-off. Those are the kingpins who have made the decision on our wages for quite some time. They are just living in the wrong world because there are many people who would like to get involved in politics. My God, if I was still working at the children’s aid society in Windsor, with the pay I would get from children’s aid and the pay I would get from being on the school board now, I would make more than a member of this assembly. The Toronto city council makes more. Trustees for the board of education in Toronto make as much, or darned near as much, as we make as members of the assembly.
If we want to attract people to this place to run for positions in the assembly then we have to look realistically at the wages. If we want this job to be respected as a full-time position, as it should be, and not have lawyers or doctors or other people who are members of the assembly going back for Mondays and Thursdays and Fridays and earning additional money, then there has to be recognition that the pay has to be adequate to attract people from all angles and all aspects of life to this place.
It is an extremely frustrating process we go through. I remember that after we went through the hassle after the 1987 election our caucus took the appropriate position, I believe. We said there had to be a process put in place where an independent body not only recommended but had the right to implement fair wages for the members of the assembly and the members of the executive council. We believe still that this would be the appropriate way to go. At the time, the Premier responded and the government House leader responded by saying they were seriously looking at a new process and they would open up discussions.
That happened in December. In February of that year my colleague the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris), the Conservative House leader, and I flew down on a weeknight to have dinner with the government House leader to discuss the process. That was in February. He said: “Okay, I understand where your caucuses are coming from. I agree with you philosophically. Well look at alternatives, and we will come back to the assembly with a proposal.”
Then last year came around and the proposal was no substantial adjustment to your wages, but we will tie you to a middle bureaucrat for future increases. We said, of course: “That is unacceptable. We are not going to be tied at a wage that we see as being unacceptably low and then have it locked in for ever to cost-of-living increases to some middle bureaucrat.” That, to me, is totally unacceptable. Of course, at the same time, in the last year, the board and the government accepted major revisions to deputy ministers’ wages in this province. Major revisions that now have deputy ministers earning around $130,000 a year.
I think that what has happened in this place, and I tend to think that the majority of the Liberal members would agree, is that the role of a member of the assembly has been downplayed by this government. They understood the problem when they were in opposition, but they refuse to accept the need for basic reform in both the process and basic pay now that they are in government because they are worried about a few stories that might appear in the papers and in the media criticizing the government for substantial reform to members’ pay.
I think that is very unfortunate because it has consequences, not just for us, but it has consequences for the process and who is going to be attracted to these jobs and who will participate. I mean, it is not just a coincidence that people are not running in the same numbers that they used to run for members of the Legislative Assembly or for leaderships of political parties. It is because there is a basic problem here. We bring in conflict-of-interest legislation, and that was very appropriate that there be conflict-of-interest legislation brought in that restricts where we can get involved financially and brings in some accountability, which I think this caucus supported 100 per cent.
If you are going to do that type of thing then I think there also has to be some recognition that the pay rates for members of the assembly have to be adequate to recognize that this is a full-time job and this is the major income for the members that are elected.
It is a frustrating process because every year we get told by the Premier and by the government that they are prepared to look at some substantial reform, but it never happens. This year we took the position, and I think the Conservative Party took the position as well, that we were simply not prepared to negotiate with the government, that we knew that negotiations were meaningless and there was no use having discussions, and that it was its responsibility to bring in a bill and it could bring in the bill and we would react accordingly to whatever proposal.
This is not a consensus bill at all. The last bill was not a consensus bill either -- the amendments for cabinet. This is a Liberal bill that reflects the position of the Liberal Party and not the New Democratic Party or the Conservative Party and I want to make that very clear.
I want to finish by saying that this bill, besides the 5.5 per cent increase that the government House leader pointed out, brings in some reforms, some of which I would agree with if they were accompanied with basic reform to our basic wage. There should be some recognition for the job that the chairmen of caucuses hold. There should be some additional financial compensation for that position. The federal parliament did that a number of years ago.
There should be adequate compensation for the chairmen of our various standing committees and select committees and for the vice-chairmen of those committees. I have no problem with that aspect of the bill at all. What I do have a problem with is that there were a large number of people in the Liberal caucus who have been complaining for quite some time, as we have been, that the overall pay package for members of the assembly have been inadequate. Instead of the government coming to grips with that basic problem, it has decided to increase the number of Liberal caucus members who will receive additional pay from under 80 per cent or thereabouts to over 90 per cent of the Liberal caucus members.
The government will say that we get some vice-chairmen as well. As I understand it, there are 11 standing committees and one select committee. Out of those 12 committees my party chairs two of those committees. So that means that we will get two additional people who will receive additional compensation with the recognition of two vice-chairs.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Four vice-chairs.
Mr D. S. Cooke: No, we have two and two people were already being compensated as chairmen of committees, so we will have two additional. The Conservative Party will also get two, but the balance will result in the Liberal caucus members picking up seven additional compensations for their caucus members.
If members look at the overall package, this package was designed to assist the Liberal caucus and to deflect some of the criticism that was being received by members such as the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr M. C. Ray). I have talked to him many times, and to other members of the Liberal caucus, who have gone and tried to make the case to the leadership of the Liberal caucus that it is about time that we saw some substantial and fair reform of the process as well as the base pay. They did not want to do that so instead what we saw, and what we have received today, is a bill that will satisfy most of the Liberal caucus because most of them will be receiving additional money, but will not see a substantial reform of the pay package for the members.
I am sad at the process that has been followed at arriving at this bill and I am disappointed that the government, which used to speak and used to seem to understand the difficulties with pay -- and it is not popular to get up and talk about the need for reform because it is not popular with the voters; I understand that -- has refused to bring in some of the reforms that are necessary, that would be fairer and that we would be willing to join with the government in bringing about.
Last year when we looked at this, my leader said to the government House leader or to the Premier, “You move the bill; I’ll second the bill .” The leader of the third party agreed to also second the bill so that the responsibility would be shared among all three political parties. That proposal was rejected. I think it boils down to the problem that we have a Premier who makes a decision on his own. He is a millionaire and he does not understand the difficulty that other people have at running for and risking themselves in elective office.
I think that some members of the public who look at our wage and look at our pension package think that we are extremely well off. I think it still goes back to the fact that the average stay for a member in this place is less than seven years and when you leave this place there are large numbers of members who do not have alternative work to go to. We all know former members who have not made an easy transition to the private sector or to another career after this place. It is not easy.
I am not looking for sympathy among my voters. I enjoy very much the job that I do, but I do think that we take a risk coming to this place. We perform an absolutely essential function for all of the public in this province and I think it should be adequately compensated. I am disappointed that this government has not had the guts to take this issue on and that instead it has taken a position which I think is unfair and does not adequately recognize the needs of members of the Legislature and the needs of the democracy of the provincial Legislature in this province.
Mr Harris: I will not go on at great length. Those who are particularly interested in my views on the matter dealing with pay raises for members of the Legislative Assembly in this fashion can read my remarks from last year. If those are not exciting enough, they could read my remarks from the year before.
We will not vote for this bill, nor will we support the legislation, primarily because we are opposed, as I said in my comments on Bill 94, to the process. I know in the past when I have made comment on this, some members -- and I see the former House leader entering this very chamber and sitting at the Hansard table so he can hear every word that I say and I appreciate that. He will recall discussions he and I have had on this matter in the past. It has been pointed out that, by and large, with few exceptions, the method the government is following is the same method that the former government followed and I have no hesitation in saying on behalf of my caucus that I approve of neither.
I do not approve of this method of setting the remuneration for members of the Legislative Assembly for the upcoming year, and in fact it is not even all of the upcoming year, because I do not approve of bringing it in at this very late date. I do not think we should be dealing retroactively with these matters. It just reinforces that the Premier does not like to deal with them so he puts it off as long as he can, and when the calendar year or the fiscal year is almost run out, he says, “I guess we do have to do something,” and he finally makes a decision, and the pay bills come forward.
I was intrigued with the comments by my friend and colleague the House leader for the New Democratic Party. Between us we have spent considerable time over the past couple of years trying to convince the government House leader and, with our leaders, the Premier, that there ought to be a better way and we would support a better way of setting the remuneration, namely some form of independent commission. The Hay system is used in industry all the time. Many contract agreements between employees and employers rely on that system or others and agree to abide by those decisions as being final and indisputable.
It is ironic that at a time when we are having difficulty dealing with many crown employees we still in this day and age in this province have to deal with strikes and strikes as a method of trying to reinforce one point or another. Ultimately in the public sector those strikes are resolved by enforced binding arbitration, as was done in the case of the community college teachers recently, or by actual legislation forcing binding arbitration on the parties.
I see nothing wrong with this Legislature and all of us, by example, embarking upon an independent process of evaluating just what this job that we do is worth, from members of the Legislative Assembly right through to the executive council and the positions in between.
The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) indicated, I guess out of a sense of total frustration -- and I had not thought of it this way -- that instead of this charade every year, bringing forth the bills and somehow or other asking members of the Legislative Assembly to comment or to vote on our salaries, if we are not going to adopt a responsible attitude, why not just pass a piece of legislation that leaves this authority solely with the Premier. That would at least be honest, because that is, in fact, what has happened over the past number of years, certainly since 1981 when I was first elected. The Premier of the day in fact makes the decision.
As I listened to the House leader for the New Democratic Party make those comments, I thought that it was ironic, the number of bills that we have debated in the past couple of years -- and, in fact, one that we are going to be dealing with tonight, one that we dealt with last week, I guess the one that the member for Mississauga South is going to talk about tonight, the Mining Act -- that vest so much power in the executive council --
Mrs Marland: Bill 47.
Mr Harris: Bill 47, the member for Mississauga South tells me.
There has been so much of the current legislation that this administration has brought forward that has given too much power to be put into the regulations and too much power to be decided by the executive council, far more than we would wish, and it is ironic that here is a bill where, in practice, this is exactly what happens: the Premier decides. Why would the government not be honest with this piece of legislation and come forward and say, ‘Look, we have no intention of having meaningful input from the backbench members, regardless of party. We have no intention of receiving any input from outside of this Legislature. In fact, it is the Premier who is going to decide”? Why does the government not bring forth the bill that says the Premier will make the decision? In effect, that is what is happening.
Because of the method, the refusal on the part of the Premier -- and it is the Premier; I do not blame the House leader for this at all -- to look at a more modern and a more acceptable method with an opportunity to show by example how salaries in a meaningful way ought to be set, independent of those with a vested interest, my caucus will not support this legislation.
It is not a surprise to us. It is the same, year after year. The comments that we have put forward --
Mr Kerrio: When you were a cabinet minister, did you support your Premier?
Mr Harris: Listen, the former minister, who was a disaster for the resource industry and all of our natural resources in this province, seems to want to interject and he asks what I think of how it was done by my former Premier. I am on the record and I have said that I disagree. I disagree with the way it was handled in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and now in 1989. I indicated clearly on the record that I do not think that is an acceptable way.
Mr Dietsch: Did you stand up then and disagree?
Mr Kerrio: Not when you were a cabinet minister, you didn’t.
Mr Harris: If the former minister -- that is the one thing that I think the Premier has had good judgement in, since he is now a backbench member and not a minister -- wishes to comment on my remarks or enter into the debate in an official way and put his comments on the record instead of sniping away, then I want the member to feel free to do that.
I suggest to the members of the assembly -- and I do not have any difficulty in a very sensitive and difficult issue, as the member for Windsor-Riverside has said -- that it is not the type of debate that one single member of the party of the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio) has the courage to stand up and be counted on; not one. So it is not the kind of issue that one particularly is pleased about having to stand up and represent the views of one’s party on. It is the kind of issue where the public says, “Oh, yes, there are the members talking about a raise for themselves.” I understand that sensitivity. I understand that it is not easy and I understand why the members of the government do not come forward and put their open and honest views on the record. When other members of the assembly, from whatever party, take the opportunity to do so, I do not understand how the member for Niagara Falls would stoop to the kind of comments that he has made while I have been speaking tonight.
We will oppose this legislation for the principles that I have outlined. I guess I would say to the assembly that I hope that some day there will be a Premier with enough courage to stand up and do the right thing in the way the remuneration is paid to members of the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Kerrio: Certainly I have a couple of comments that I think are appropriate.
I feel that the member for Windsor-Riverside has every right to put his position and I feel that is appropriate for him to make the comments that he made because he feels as he does about this issue.
I am only standing because I have a challenge from a former cabinet minister who is suggesting that while he was a cabinet minister under the Davis government he was opposed to the position that he takes at this point in time.
I would accept nearly anyone in that caucus standing up and making the comments that he made, but I do not think they are acceptable coming from that member and making a suggestion that he did not support his leader when he was in that cabinet. I just do not believe that.
The Acting Speaker: I do wish the members of his own caucus would let the member for Nickel Belt speak.
Mr Laughren: I just wanted to reinforce some of the comments the member for Nipissing made, particularly in view of the comments of the member for Niagara Falls. The member for Niagara Falls is like a lot of his colleagues on that side: They do a lot of muttering in the corridors, but when the bill comes before the assembly nary a word is spoken.
I really think it is inappropriate for the member for Niagara Falls, given his personal position, given the fact that he was in cabinet for a number of years himself and does not have to give a twit about what goes on around this place in salaries, to then sit in his place and heckle members of the opposition who at least get up in their place and state their position on this bill and on the executive council bill.
The member for Niagara Falls might be better directed to talk to some of his own colleagues to get on their feet and say what they really believe.
Mr Mackenzie: This is an issue I feel strongly about. My remarks will not be long, but they certainly are to the point. What we have here, as I see it, is a bit of a shell game, an unfortunate shell game: now you see it, now you don’t. This government is using the back door to achieve a result that it is not willing to sell at the front door. Let me make it clear, very clear: I am one of the members of this House who feels that the members of this House are underpaid. I have never had any difficulty in accepting my pay. I feel I earn every cent of it.
In my case personally, I like what I am doing. I take pride in it. I try to give my best effort to it, and I would probably fulfil the job regardless of what the pay is, but it does not mean that I should accept a remuneration that does not match the importance of the position. I think there is some purpose in making that particular point because we may all have views -- others about me, myself about others -- as to the value or the work that members of this House do, but I think the position is worth something. Most of us who deal with government bureaucracy, in many cases senior members of the ministries of which are critics who are paid double what we receive, or in some cases more, realize that what we have here is not a very high rate of pay.
People with similar responsibility in the business community would not consider the hours, the frustration, and I think, the absolute commitment that are necessary for serious members of this House for the kind of money that we receive. They might feel that the power that it can bring in some certain circumstances is worth something, but there are not an awful lot of people who would take this job just in terms of the kind of salaries we get.
Comments have been made about the positions members have taken in this House. I have talked to members, over the years that I have been here, of all three parties. I have talked to ministers, including ministers who are sitting in this cabinet here today, and parliamentary assistants who have raised in bygone days the issue of salary. This particular government, once it took power, raised the fact that maybe we should be pushing, because for years it was members of this party who were pushing for decent pay for the members of this House and who have said to me and to others: ‘Why don’t you make this an issue again? Why don’t you push our people or push our ministers?” That is fact and that has come from ministers, members and parliamentary assistants, in both of the old parties incidentally.
Much of the public, of course, hears about the $80,000-plus received by federal members and thinks that is what we are getting. I do not begrudge them what they are getting, but we are not paid the same, and I think all of us understand that well. We are well under that rate. Almost 10 years ago -- as a matter of fact, I guess it must be 12 or 13 years ago -- a number of us were interviewed by a committee that was set up about the perceived and accepted inadequacies in the members’ salary. As a result of this study, the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses was -- I am not sure whether it was a formal request or not -- asked to make recommendations. In that first full report, following the review they did and the interviews they held with members in this House, they came out with a recommendation that said we were at least $10,000 underpaid at that time. They made as their first recommendation that we have an increase in that year. It was a little better, just over $5,000. That increase went through. The understanding clearly was that the other half of the recommendation, because they did not want to do it in one single year, was to go through the following year.
The following year we ran into the wage and price controls issue and the second shoe, in effect, never dropped. In subsequent years, the Commission on Election Finances has made a number of recommendations, and one or two of them would have achieved or maybe even improved the second half of that recommendation that the members of this House never saw. All of their recommendations have been turned down. The understanding at the time, although it probably was not a formal arrangement, was that the election finance commission would make recommendations. They made them for a number of years. Of course, they have now stopped making them because it became obvious that they were looking like fools as well, making recommendations year after year, none of which was accepted. Both this government and, I might say, the previous government rejected recommendations that were made by the election finance commission.
To have continued them, I agree with the commission, would have made it look silly. Its recommendations made sense and, as far as I am concerned, were more than justified. But this government has tried to find a means of keeping its members happy, and has clearly recognized the justice of those recommendations that were being made, by coming up with an alternative. This is what I call the backdoor deal, and I think it is a rather dishonest deal.
There are 94 Liberal members in this House. Our information -- I have not tried to verify it to the person -- is that at least 85 of them are getting additional pay for the positions they hold. To keep opposition members happy, because this is something that people are aware of now and it is beginning to get out in the public as well, this time around they have come up with some additional positions, and of course a few additional spots for the opposition as well, and that is supposed to keep people from talking about it. It is the old “pay off and divide” tactic that we are seeing.
I could be a beneficiary, as I understand, of one of these additional emoluments, but that does not make me think that it justifies the kind of backdoor approach that this government is using. I do not think this government should be allowed to con the public by saying:
“We will not approve an adequate pay level up front where the public can see it but are perfectly willing to play this little game, this little boondoggle, of extras for positions that cover literally almost all the members of the House and, in a different way but not an upfront way, really accomplish the same thing.”
It also means that we do not deal seriously with a number of other serious problems which have been the subject of recommendations from the election finance committee as well. I do not get too many complaints about our salary. There is a brief flurry every time there is an increase, and I agree with other members who say that say we go through the hopper or the mill probably three times -- once when the election finance commission makes a recommendation, which of course it is not doing any more, again when the bill is moved in this House and again when it is passed -- all for the same increase, whatever that increase is.
But we are not dealing with some of the other recommendations which were good recommendations. I do not get complaints about the salary level anywhere near as much as I get complaints about our tax-free allowance. Frankly, I think that also is very difficult to justify. I think one of the recommendations that was made at one time by the election finances commission, as I understand it, also was to roll that expense account into salary and that we should be paying taxes on it. Let me tell members, I hear more complaints from people about the tax-free allowances we get than I do about the level of salary that we are being paid in this House.
As long as we are following the procedures we are following now and using the back door to try to accomplish the increase in salaries, but on the basis of some kind of a position one holds, whether it is important or not important, we are not dealing with the adequacy of the pay level of the members of this House. I simply do not think that is proper. We should be eliminating the privilege of the tax-free expenses, we should be looking at whether or not there should be extra remuneration for things such as our committees, and it might mean a considerably higher level of pay for the members of this House.
The biggest argument I hear against it is that it would involve an additional burden in terms of the pension plan. Yes, that it is one very good plan we as members of this House have. All of those things are acceptable to me: to have our wages on an upfront basis, an adequate income in this House, not going through the back door to try to achieve something that the government knows it should be doing and to look at the other changes that are necessary as well.
It is for these reasons, and not because I oppose the extra money -- as I say, I think the members are worth it and worth more -- that I oppose this particular bill. I think it is a sham, I think it is a bit of a shell game and I wish like blazes the members of this House would for once deal with the salary issue up front.
Mr McGuigan: I would like to comment on the remarks. Since we are debating this in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, I really do not know how we can be validly charged with doing anything through the back door. Surely with the news media and Hansard and all the ways of reporting what is going on here, this is dealing perfectly up front. There is information that members of the public can look at and can criticize, as they choose to do.
I want to tell members a little anecdote. I guess three years ago, as part of the free trade debate, I did a tour of the United States. One of the visits was to the state House of Texas. The state assemblymen were very proud of pointing out to us that they got a salary of only about $6,000 a year, and their point was that you were not fit to be an assemblyman in Texas until you were a very wealthy, self-made person. I asked this particular assemblyman if the poor people of Texas had any reason to complain about that situation. He allowed that perhaps they did have a reason to complain about that fact.
I tell that story to point out that I think most of us here, to borrow a phrase, are representatives of the public and, in some sense, ordinary Canadians. Being ordinary Canadians and ordinary Ontarians, we can relate to the people whom we deal with, the people whom we represent. I do not have any difficulty in defending the salaries that we receive as being pretty reasonable under the circumstances.
Mr Wildman: I rise to congratulate my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie) on his presentation on this very delicate subject, and I recognize it is a delicate matter for members to be debating an increase in their own pay levels. However, I must say in response to my friend the member for Essex-Kent (Mr McGuigan), for whom I have a great deal of respect, that I really think his comments were somewhat naïve and not really very realistic and that the time of the dollar-a-year man is past.
I am not going to speak here, in responding to my colleague the member for Hamilton East, about our levels of pay because that frankly is not what bothers me the most personally. What bothers me about this is the process, the fact that the previous government and the assembly set up a process which was supposed to deal with this whole matter fairly and get us out of this invidious situation we tend to find ourselves in every December.
That system was set up where you had an independent body that was representative of all three political parties and people with experience in the political realm who would analyse and determine whether or not members should have an increase and, if they should, what it should be. Consistently since that system was established it has been ignored. Because it has been ignored, members’ salaries perhaps have fallen behind. As a result, governments have continued to establish more and more positions which will get extra pay. It may not be under the table, but frankly most of the public and the media do not report those extra emoluments, and that is the problem. It is basically not honest. We should be increasing the base rate and ensuring that all of us have a basic salary which is adequate and fair.
Miss Martel: Normally if I were going to participate in this House, I would be more than happy to do so. I enjoy the debates in here and I enjoy the issues we deal with, but I have to say, although I am not going to speak for very long this evening, that I am not pleased to participate in this debate about pay, to go through this rigmarole again this December as we did last December and every other December that other members in this House were here, to try to determine what pay honourable members of this assembly are going to have.
Let me just clear the decks at the outset and say two things so that I do not get trapped, or other members do not mutter away and say this and that and the other about the member for Sudbury East.
First of all, I do very well here. I am a single person. I do not have dependants. I have a whopping mortgage but my car is paid for and, for someone at the age of 26, yes, I do very well here, certainly a heck of a lot better than I did at the Workers’ Compensation Board before I came here. But I am not getting up to talk about what the actual monetary value of this package is because that is not why I am opposing this package. I am opposing it because I disagree fundamentally with the manner in which pay is given to members around here and the process in which pay for members evolves.
The second thing I want to say is that it is true I will not be one of those people who will benefit from an increased remuneration as a result of the passage of this particular bill. I suppose I would be criticized either way.
I could be criticized for saying that the reason I am opposing it is because I am not going to receive it, which in fact is not true. Over a year ago, when we went through this same thing last December, I spoke to our local media and said that I resented this process, that this whole process whereby members and the Premier determine salaries on behalf of other members should be done away with and we should be looking to an independent body to set pay in a manner that was fair and equitable. So I am on record, at least at home in my own riding, as not supporting the way this is done.
Second, some people might say that I am criticizing the process because if I were one of those people who was going to get the benefits, I probably would not give it back anyway, so I am being a little bit hypocritical here or two-faced. But I say to members again that my opposition stems not from the last number of weeks since I have seen this bill, and not because I am not going to benefit from it in terms of getting increased pay for a particular position, but because I disagree fundamentally with the way this is done.
I have three specific concerns that I would like to put on record today. The first is that I am angry about the unfairness of the present process which determines our pay. Let’s not kid anyone, members of this House know full well that the Premier and two or three other people, probably the former government House leader, now the Minister of Education (Mr Conway), and probably the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and probably -- I will add a third -- the Attorney General (Mr Scott) --
Mr Laughren: The government House leader.
Miss Martel: -- and perhaps the House leader sit down and determine what the pay for other members in this place is going to be.
Quite frankly, if we look at the four on the front bench, their various take-home pays for their various endeavours do not reflect anywhere near what the rest of us are doing in here. This is my pay, this is my one and only salary. I do not have a business that I sold and collect profits from. I do not have stocks and bonds and all other kinds of things that I can get increased pay from. This is the one and only thing I do. It is the one and only thing I want to do at this present time.
But I do not think it is very fair or very realistic that people who are nowhere near the income bracket I am, that is for sure, are making decisions about my pay or pay for other honourable members in this place. Frankly, I do not think that they have any sense of what the rest of us are doing, what my colleagues who are trying to put their kids through university are going through when they are trying to pay mortgages on cars, houses, etc. I do not think it is fair that the Premier and a couple of henchmen who do not make the kind of money that the rest of us do are making those kinds of important decisions on our behalf without any input from other members of this House.
Second, I have a very valid concern about the injustice of the present proposal. It is something out of the Middle Ages -- divide and conquer. “We’ll look after a great deal of our own” -- and in this case some 85 members of the Liberal caucus right now are going to receive extra pay in some form or another -- ”and while we’re doing that we’ll throw a few crumbs to the opposition parties and two, three, maybe four of their own members will get a little bit more.”
But if you look at it proportionately, the Liberal members in this House are doing very well, not only in terms of pay but in terms of the extra staff who come about by being a cabinet minister, by being a parliamentary assistant. I think all of us in here come here and are committed to do a good job and are committed to working hard, but I resent that kind of division among us because I think I work as hard as anyone else in here and I resent that we do not get any of those perks and that this government has not taken the time to look seriously at upping the rate of all of us to recognize the contribution we make as MPPs in this province and dealing with all of us in a bit fairer manner.
The present proposal is not fair, it is not equitable. I go back and say that it is something right out of the Middle Ages, “We’re going to divide, we’re going to conquer and hope that the crumbs we throw to the opposition parties will make them happy, and let’s get on with the business of looking after the rest of our own,” in this case, some 85 or 86 Liberal members.
Third, I have a very specific concern around the resolve in this place, which seems to have dissolved, since we came here. In 1987, when I was first elected, and into 1988, there was some serious discussion going on in this place around how we could bring real reform to members’ salaries and how, we thought, if we could take the former government House leader at his word, the government was in fact intent on putting together a package of reforms that allowed for input of members of all sides and that was going to make the system more fair and one acceptable by all.
I remember there was a great deal of discussion from Liberal backbenchers who came here, who because they were not cabinet members all of a sudden, or not parliamentary assistants, had suffered a fairly significant drop in their salaries. There was a lot of muttering and mumbling among those members as to how the system should be changed, how in fact the process was not fair, how it was not fair that the Premier (Mr Peterson) made those kinds of important decisions on his own for the rest of us and how in fact, yes, there should be some significant and long-lasting reform to pay in this place.
What has happened, and sadly so, is that as more and more of the Liberals got shifted around, got the cabinet posts or the parliamentary assistant jobs or deputy speaker, etc, then those mutterings and mumblings kind of faded out because everyone started to be looked after in one way or the other, and suddenly the concern for reform was no more.
I think it is really unfortunate to those members who talked to me privately, and there were a number of members who talked to my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie), as he already said, etc. that in fact suddenly all that resolve has disappeared. It is too bad, but I think some members got bought off. That is really unfortunate, because they came here with some good intentions about making significant and fair changes, and suddenly that has all disappeared.
There is a better way of doing all of this. My colleagues have talked about the need to take the process right out of the hands of MPPs or, in fact, out of the hands of the Premier and a couple of his henchmen and make it a much fairer process, make it independent, put it into the hands of the Commission on Election Finances and let it deal with it in a fair and public and open manner, allow it to look at other jurisdictions, allow it to make comparisons with other MLAs, MPPs, MPs, you name it, and have it come up with the recommendations that it should be allowed to implement for members of this House.
They have made recommendations in the past, and the government House leader has said they are unrealistic. I am not going to come here and apologize for my salary. I do not think any of us should. I think we work hard. We do very important work on behalf of the province. We have no need to apologize for what we make or what we should make as a consequence.
But I think it would be far more acceptable to the public and certainly acceptable to members in this House if we made that process independent, if we took it out of here and allowed an independent commission to do its work, set rates, implement those rates in a manner that is fair and equitable.
The present pay bill and the present process are not democratic. It is not fair. There is no consultation with other honourable members in this House who deserve consultation and input into this very important process.
Because it is not fair, I find it totally unacceptable and will not support it, nor will I support any pay bills that continue in this same manner without consultation and input in an independent manner of determining our pay.
Mrs Marland: I do want to comment on the previous speaker’s presentation on this subject. Suffice to say that I agree totally with the member for Sudbury East. Also, I agree totally with the member for Hamilton East.
I think that no matter how we look at this issue of money, it is distasteful that we have to stand here and debate it. I think it is just as distasteful when the federal members do it, municipal members, anyone who is elected, who has to stand up, discuss and then vote on his or her own salary. It is totally inappropriate.
It is an archaic system and it does not matter which way we look at it, it is wrong. Frankly, I think the fact that the former government did not do any better job at this than the current government means that this is not a partisan comment on my part. I am simply recognizing that if people work 80 or 90 hours a week, as most of us do -- I do not know what percentage of individuals in this current House have other financial income. I do not read their conflict-of-interest filings, so I do not know what anybody else earns and I am not concerned about what anybody else earns outside of this House.
That is their business and it was their business before they came to this House, so just as I do not agree with some of the conflict-of-interest questions on the filing statement, I do not think that it is of any interest to the public either what people earn or did earn or what private holdings they have in other sources of income.
What I do think is of importance to the public is that an independent commission set these salaries and that they are fair and equitable for the work and the hours of commitment, and that if we are good, conscientious, elected members serving the public, then there should be compensation that is appropriate for that.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Whether you agree with the level of benefits and payment we receive or you disagree with the level, is something that is being debated in the House today. I think it is entirely appropriate that it be debated in the House. It may not be a subject that we all want to talk about, but we were all elected, as I see it, to be responsible to the taxpayers for the stewardship of their moneys, and accountable.
There is no sense whatsoever, in my view, in passing this, the responsibility, off to a third party to arbitrate on a money matter which is central to all of us as we sit here in the Legislature, elected to be stewards of the taxpayers’ moneys. Giving it over to a third party makes it far easier to pass off and accept as some sort of objective reality, but it puts us in the invidious position of saying, “Don’t blame us for our salary increases, the independent commission did it.”
We have to discuss it. We have to vote on it. It is the only way, in a democracy, that pay increases can be dealt with.
Mr B. S. Cooke: I would just like to compliment the member for Sudbury East and point out to the member for York Mills that whether he is right or wrong, I just do not understand why the Premier did not take the same position when he was in opposition, when he supported a third party setting the wages of the Legislature.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Further comments or questions? Seeing none, does the member for Sudbury East care to reply?
Miss Martel: I would only say that I would accept the recommendations of the commission. I would have no problem doing that, because I would certainly find that process a hell of a lot fairer than the Premier of this province determining my pay without any input at all from honourable members in this House.
It is interesting to note that some of those people who are probably most responsible for setting the pay of members in this House are not here tonight to participate in the debate and explain to us why the rate is set in the manner that it is. That is unfortunate, because I, for one, certainly would have liked to hear the Premier explain to me why the pay was being set in this manner.
The Acting Speaker: Before we do proceed, I wonder could I just remind members there are a fairly large number of members in the chamber and there seems to be a lot of private conversations going on. The net result of 80 private conversations is rather distracting, so would you please be mindful that while we are not attempting to forbid private conversation in the chamber, if you could just keep it down a bit so that we could hear the proceedings. I am supposed to listen attentively to each word that is spoken. It is sometimes difficult to do that.
Mr Kormos: This is a diverse enough group of people that there are people here who, I am sure, have been elected and who have suffered cuts in income. There have been more than a few people elected here who thought they died and went to heaven because no way were they going to make the kind of money they are making here in the jobs or careers they had. There are a few people, at the very least, who are so independently wealthy that they are aloof of a whole lot of what goes on in the real world for a whole lot of working people across Ontario. The Premier, I am told, is among them.
But the real issue here is not the 5.5 per cent increase, because that in itself as contained in this bit of legislation, I suppose, is not particularly offensive to anybody; 5.5 per cent, give or take a point, is probably a fairly reasonable reflection of the inflationary effect over the last year or the erosion of the pay dollar by virtue of increases in the cost of living.
What is really at issue here -- and there is a quality of porcinity to this legislation, which is inherent not in the 5.5 per cent increase but in the fact that even more people are being added to that roster who receive the perks. I follow the member for Hamilton East, for instance, with a most eloquent and articulate and pointed comment on the whole issue. These are, to the bulk of members of the community, hidden perks. I mean, I thought I had fairly carefully gone through the list of 94 Liberal members here and thought I had done well by coming up with some 70, 75. I was aghast at there being 70 to 75 of these Liberals who were getting above and beyond their basic MPP salaries by virtue of the perks. Now I find out this afternoon that I had low-balled it. Indeed, I am told that there are over 80, other than for a handful of Liberals. Now, those Liberals should be pretty resentful about the fact that they are being left out. Perhaps the easiest thing to do would be for those few Liberals who are not getting extra grease to merely stand up so they can be identified and the sense of compassion can flow.
Is that really to be less than expected from these people? I am sure not. Once again, it is not the 5.5 per cent increase; it is the fact that they want to add to that roster of people who are going to get extra grease, more perks. Deputy chairs, committee chairs, those sorts of things are going to add to the number of people who are getting that extra little bit of gravy now. No two ways about it, there are going to be members of the New Democratic Party; a few too are going to be thrown into the pot. A couple of Tories, a couple of members of the Progressive Conservative Party, are going to be thrown into the pot.
Let’s make no mistake about it, the purpose of the legislation is not to accommodate the New Democrats or the Progressive Conservatives; it is primarily to accommodate those few forlorn and forgotten and woeful Liberals who have not yet got their piece of the pie. If you have to encompass a couple of New Democrats and a couple of Progressive Conservatives at the same time, well, then, so be it.
Close to 100 per cent of that whole Liberal caucus, all 94 of them, getting perks above and beyond their basic MPP salaries. Do we expect it from these people? Of course we do. This is the Liberal Party that just went on the junket to Italy; not one, two or three people. but the Premier and a whole gaggle of Liberals. That was not enough, because they had to bring along their retinue of sycophants with them. I mean, Johnny Arena -- why? To cook up hamburgers late at night in case they got hungry? Come on.
A whole gang of them touring through Europe, traipsing through the Alps and wherever else they could manage to find the finest, and the finest they did find. So can we expect this type of legislation and that sort of attitude from these people? You bet your boots we can, Mr Speaker.
We want to talk about grease? We want to talk about intellectual dishonesty? I mean, the only time Patti Starr and her hundreds of thousands of dollars of charitable funds became an embarrassment was when they got caught. Until then, it was just fine. It was more than acceptable. The money was not just banked, but quite frankly, it was spent and spent well.
We are not talking about pickpockets here. We are not talking about purse snatchers. We are talking about people here who will grab taxpayers, turn them upside down by the ankles and shake every last penny out of them. If their fiscal policy, their tax policy does not illustrate that, well, then, nothing does.
I have no use for this kind of legislation, no use at all. It is intellectually dishonest. It betrays an inherent corruption. Do members know what confirms that? It is the complete absence of any Liberal participants in this debate. There does not appear to be a single member of that Liberal government who wants to either defend or be associated with Bill 91, this pay bill greasing but more Liberals, as if they were not greased enough already.
It is a shame. It is a shame because this bill betrays a hypocrisy. This bill betrays not just the porcinity that I spoke of earlier, but a hypocrisy. Do members want to see where the hypocrisy rears its head? It is in the contrast between what the Minister of Financial Institutions, the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston) said earlier today. He puffed his chest out and he took some great pride in telling this Legislature and in telling the province that he was going to do something that he was very proud of. What he was going to do was to provide for annual adjustments of judges’ salaries in line with an index of average industrial wages to a cap of seven per cent, and furthermore, he and these Liberals over here were going to establish a Provincial Court Commission as a body to review and make recommendations every three years regarding judges’ compensation.
It is incredible that sauce for the goose ain’t sauce for the gander. Why? Because they are the gander -- perhaps the turkey; I am not sure. But it remains that what they see as appropriate for provincial judges in terms of the acceptability of an independent, external body deciding on remuneration, they do not see as acceptable for members of this Legislature. The reason is that element of independence they find offensive, because the pot ain’t there for them to get their hand into it. The cookie jar ain’t there for them to get their paws into it.
I am reminded of a nursery rhyme. “This little pig went to market. This little pig stayed home.” These little pigs came to Queen’s Park and they are just oinking away and stuffing as much into their pockets as they can and they will run with it as far as they can.
I tell members this: The taxpayers of Ontario are not proud of what the Liberals are doing this afternoon or this evening. I am not proud of what the Liberals are doing this afternoon and this evening. I will have no part of that corruption and I will vote against this piece of legislation. Why? Because it is bad legislation. It is corrupt legislation. It is dishonest legislation and it is legislation that is being promoted and that is going to be voted for by a party that has similar qualities.
Hon Mr Ward: I have listened very carefully to many of the points that have been made over the course of the debate and I have found them quite interesting, to say the least. Having participated in these kinds of discussions, not only here but also at the municipal level, I know there is nothing that members find more discomforting than the fact that they have to be held accountable for the salaries they set for themselves.
Now, some people do not like that. I have heard it suggested that we should put this out and accept without question the recommendations of a group that is appointed by each of the political parties. I quite frankly think that most people in this province would find that even more distasteful than an open debate among members of the Legislature because, after all, each of us is answerable for the decisions that he makes.
Another point I would like to make is that there has been, I think, a more than adequate opportunity for consultation on these issues. I think all members of this Legislature have felt quite free over the course of certainly my time here to make their views known on this issue. This issue is being debated in the appropriate forum for all to see and for all to hear.
A number of members have taken issue with the fact that we are creating new, additional indemnities that I think recognize additional responsibilities that some people around here have. It is true that this bill creates 17 new additional indemnities, seven for members of the government and 10 for members of the opposition, which frankly I think, when one considers the proportion of representation around here, is not too bad.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Ward: It well may be that they may not feel those they have appointed or elected to those positions in their caucuses are worth it, but I leave that for each of the caucuses to settle as they discuss this.
The last point I would like to make is that I have sat in this Legislature when the bill has been, I believe, introduced within the last eight days, and I have seen these bills increasing salaries have the rules waived so that they could get a second and third reading within a given day.
This bill was introduced prior to the cutoff for all legislation established by the standing orders. It does create additional indemnities that I think reflect the changes in the new standing orders, and I would refer my friend the member for Hamilton East and my friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) to the provisions of the new standing orders, particularly as they relate to the responsibilities of the committees and to the responsibilities the vice-chairmen will have under the new rules, where they will in fact sit at times when the committee itself does not.
There has also been talk about additional indemnities and additional forms of compensation, and I can tell my friend that I have sat in this House as a backbencher, as a parliamentary assistant and as a member of cabinet and I know full well, as a matter of fact, that the tax-free allowance given to committee members does form a very substantial part of compensation. I notice that much of that was ignored during most of the discussion.
I want to assure my colleagues that we have had, I think, a good discussion over the course of the past several months in an appropriate forum. We have considered a number of options that were made available to us. We are in fact held accountable for the decisions we make and I think to the people of this province an increase of 5.5 per cent, given the current fiscal environment, is both responsible and appropriate.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Ward has moved second reading of Bill 91.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 91, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Hon Mr Ward: All members have a copy of Bill 91 that indicates that it is reprinted to show amendments proposed by the government House leader. I wish to advise the members, as I know all House leaders are aware, that at the time of introduction of the bill, although the compendia that were distributed and the information that was provided to members was accurate, unfortunately I believe legislative counsel, in formally tabling a copy of the bill within the House, used the first draft of many that were discussed over a period of several weeks. I believe legislative counsel has advised all parties that was done in error and it is suggested that to correct that error we use the reprinted bill and amend it appropriately by calling the sections of the reprinted bill, providing we have unanimous consent to do so.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable minister has indicated that he would like to proceed with the reprinted bill and has sought unanimous consent.
The Second Deputy Chair: Then dealing with section 1 or any sections thereafter, are there any comments or questions on any section?
Mr Harris: I understand we are now dealing with the bill as amended --
The Second Deputy Chair: Yes.
Mr Harris: -- and that does not need to be read into the record?
The Second Deputy Chair: No.
It appears that there are no questions or comments.
Mr Harris: I just want to understand. I just finished debating a bill that was quite different from the one now, but as long as that is acceptable, I am comfortable with that. I am not asking that it be read into the record, I just want to understand that we are now dealing with the preprinted version of the bill. It is the one that says, ‘Printed by Dennis P. Caplice, Queen’s Printer for Ontario.” It is the first time I have ever seen that. It is not on most of the bills, so if members have Caplice, who is a very fine civil servant, by the way --
The Second Deputy Chair: That is my understanding and I think there was full agreement that is the bill we are dealing with.
I take it there is unanimous consent; no objections.
Sections 1 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as reprinted, ordered to be reported.
UNCLAIMED INTANGIBLE PROPERTY ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 86, An Act respecting the Custody of Unclaimed Intangible Property.
Mr Wildman: I was just wondering if the intangible property referred to in this bill is the cut in the caucus chairmen’s salaries from the previous bill.
The Second Deputy Chair: Are there any comments by the parliamentary assistant representing the Treasurer?
Mr Laughren: I am not representing the Treasurer.
The Second Deputy Chair: I know you are not. I thought it might be worth while to have a government spokesperson, but that not being the case, the member for Nickel Belt.
Mr D. S. Cooke: If there is no one there who is carrying the bill?
The Second Deputy Chair: I was just trying to canvass that.
Mr Wildman: It is obvious that the government does not want to proceed with this bill, so let’s move on to something else.
Mr Polsinelli: I am advised that the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer is presently serving in committee. He should be up in about 30 seconds. My understanding is that the government has no amendments with respect to this and perhaps the opposition parties would like to comment on it first.
The Second Deputy Chair: The member for Middlesex now being in attendance, we are dealing with Bill 86 and we were canvassing whether the government has any comments about Bill 86.
Mr Reycraft: Since the bill was referred to committee of the whole last week, there have been communications between various organizations that represent holders of unclaimed property under the legislation. We believe that the concerns that have been expressed so far are either addressed in the bill or can be addressed through regulations. Therefore, we have no amendments to the bill to present this evening.
Mr Laughren: The government has no amendments, the official opposition has no amendments and I believe the third party has no amendments. Therefore, I think one can assume that this bill was sent to committee of the whole to have a more specific discussion of it.
The reason that I support the presence of this bill in committee of the whole, since we did deal with it quite fully on second reading, is that there is a sense out there in the financial community that they have been snookered by the government on this bill.
You could pick any section of the bill that you like and I would make these comments appropriate to that section; namely, that -- I notice the chairman is frowning. What I meant is that the financial community feels that when it comes to a specific discussion of this bill with the government, it has not had it.
What happened was that earlier this year the banking community was approached by the Treasury officials looking for suggestions for an unclaimed intangible property bill. The financial community indicated support for such a bill; namely, one that would deal with unclaimed property in financial institutions so that it would be turned over, if it was unclaimed, to the public trustee and the public trustee then would be responsible for finding the rightful owner or the owner’s heirs.
That was the last the financial community heard of it. If we are to believe what members of the financial community says, and I have no reason not to believe them in this case, the Treasury officials said, “All right, these are our proposals, generally speaking.” The impression I get is that Treasury officials said, “Before anything definitive happens, you’ll be consulted.”
Then last Thursday 14 December 1989, in the year of our Lord, the financial institutions were then approached by the Treasury officials, asking them about the bill. In fact, the financial institutions really had not had an opportunity to deal with the bill and at that point to have a meeting, the financial institutions, the Canadian Bankers’ Association, to be particular, felt that it was not fair to have this laid on them at the last minute.
I believe what the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer must tell us this evening is what went wrong. Why were the financial institutions, and I am not just talking about the Canadian Bankers’ Association, I am talking about the trust companies, the caisses populaires and the credit union movement, not further consulted about this bill? Why was the financial community led to believe last summer, in August, I believe, that there would be further consultation on this bill and then were told nothing more about it until it is called for second reading basically? I may be out a day or so, but that is their complaint.
What the financial industry now wants is that this bill go out to a committee for hearings so that it can present its concerns about the specifics of this bill. I do not think there are many of us in this chamber who pretend to be experts on all aspects of the financial industry, so I do not think it is appropriate to say that is what we are here in committee of the whole for. If the financial community has not had an opportunity to present its case adequately to the opposition and to the Treasury people, surely it is not appropriate.
I support this bill in principle, and that is what is so strange about this whole thing. The financial community supports the bill as well. They are not opposed to the principle of unclaimed property being turned over to the public trustee and then back to the rightful owners. That is not the point.
The point is why this government has failed to appropriately consult with the financial community. I do not understand that.
This bill was not presented to the chamber most recently. I do not have the actual date in my head, but it was not very long ago that this bill was presented to the chamber, so I am not surprised that the financial community is angry about what this government has done. I would very much like an explanation from the parliamentary assistant as to why the banking industry and the credit unions and the trust companies feel that they have been so snookered by the government.
What I find so puzzling is that surely there was not a lot at stake here. There was nothing to gain by trying to stickhandle around the financial community on this bill, particularly since it is in favour of it in principle. They state that in writing, that they are not opposed to this bill in principle but they have some very grave concerns about the content of it and they are quite specific about that as well.
I think that the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer, particularly since we passed the bill earlier which gave him a raise, owes the assembly and the financial community an explanation as to why the government has engaged in this process, why it has not dealt more directly with the financial community on this bill. I am really puzzled as to why the government has dealt so abruptly with those people who are traditionally viewed as being its friends.
Mr Harris: I do have a few opening comments in response to the opening comments of the parliamentary assistant, particularly to the fact that he indicated in his opening comments that he does not have any amendments. I would limit my remarks to a very brief discussion on that point, but as has been pointed out by the finance critic for the New Democratic Party, we are a little surprised that there were not some amendments, or in fact that the parliamentary assistant did not come forward and say: “I think we’re a little hasty here with this bill, you know. It was only introduced December 5, and the banking association, the trust company association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the credit union association really haven’t had an opportunity to look at the bill.”
It is a very technical piece of legislation, with some very technical drafting, and of course our experience with this government’s ability to do the difficult drafting with any sense of accuracy has not been very good, as indicated by the number of amendments that have come forward on government pieces of legislation.
If I might, I want to put a couple of things on the record and indicate that all of those who will be affected by this legislation are not happy with the timing, they are not happy with the lack of consultation, they are not happy with the government trying to whistle this through and I suspect that they are right, that the government, six months from now, when it tries to draft regulations and then starts to consult with the industry, will say, “You know, we were a little hasty in whipping this thing through before Christmas, we may just have to look at it and make amendments and do the thing properly.” as we would suggest it should be done in the first place.
My recommendation is for the parliamentary assistant today to stand in his place after my comments and say: “I agree with the two critics, I agree with the Canadian Bankers’ Association, I agree with the Trust Companies Association of Canada, I agree with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business” -- which, by the way, says they first saw a draft of Bill 86 last Friday. Today is Monday. They are not very happy about that, and they agree with those who will be affected by the legislation, who all say they support the principle. All three parties have supported the principle, but I would think the parliamentary assistant could show a great deal of independence, could show a great deal of courage, could actually do what I think would be the right thing and just stand up and say: “Mr Chairman, I don’t want to proceed with this bill at this time under these circumstances. I suggest that we let it drop now in committee and that we take the time to consult.”
I do not think it is necessary to go out to public hearings on this particular piece of legislation, because this is not the type of legislation that most of the public will understand.
As responsible critics, all we have asked the interested parties to do is to say: “Have you had a chance to look at it? Do you have comments? Has the government given you the time and satisfied you that your views have been heard and that those concerns have been addressed?”
All that is required is to take the time to do that. If the government will not, the minister will not and the parliamentary assistant will not, we could insist on public hearings, which is not the appropriate vehicle for all pieces of legislation and, in my view, is not the appropriate vehicle for this particular piece of legislation. It is technical; it is difficult for the public to understand; it is not particularly far-reaching to large numbers of the public. It affects the actual institutions that are handling their funds, and what we are dealing with are defunct accounts and whether they will remain with the trust companies, the banks or the lending institutions, or whether they will revert to the crown.
I support the principle of individuals having a lifetime opportunity to make their case and lay claim to those assets that may be there,
I point out that the Trust Companies Association of Canada wrote first on 14 December to the Treasurer expressing concerns about the short notice on this bill, about the lack of notice that the government intended to proceed before Christmas, and asked for some time. The Treasurer said: “Sure, you’ve got time. Come in today. Come in today and meet with us.” The association indicated by way of letter:
“Not only is it impossible for us to attend a meeting on such short notice, but more importantly it is, as I explained in my earlier letter, impossible to provide constructive comments on the bill when there has been insufficient time to study its provisions and their impact on trust companies and other companies.”
On 15 December -- I mean, this is one day apart, you know, just before Christmas, when these associations have better things to do; most of them, I think, are attending Christmas parties all across the province. I think that is primarily what they do at this time of year -- John Evans, president and chief executive officer, on 15 December, one day later, says in another letter:
“Dear Mr Nixon:
“As promised in my letter to you of yesterday’s date, I am forwarding some preliminary comments on Bill 86, An Act respecting the Custody of Unclaimed Intangible Property. I have had no response from you concerning my letter. However, I remain hopeful you will understand the importance of referring the bill to a standing committee so that there will be sufficient time for interested parties to study the bill in depth and make their views known to the members of the Legislative Assembly.”
I can understand why he would want to proceed that way. I would suggest that if the government held this bill and allowed the input to be received directly by the Treasurer, the parliamentary assistant and the Treasury officials, copy to the critics, that would be more efficient use of legislative time and this could be dealt with early in March when this Legislature resumes.
Again, they make the case that proper consultation on the provisions of the bill has not been made. They make some preliminary comments, which the Treasurer and the parliamentary assistant have and I will not go into detail on those.
The Canadian Bankers’ Association, 18 December, today, marked “Urgent,” sent this letter to my colleague the Finance critic, who is currently, as I speak, analysing a number of very complex financial situations dealing with this government and preparing extensive and lengthy remarks that he will be making in this House tomorrow in response to the number of Treasury bills that will be debated. Because of the pressures of dealing with all these bills towards the end of the session, including a number of Treasury bills to be dealt with tomorrow, I know my colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) is preparing his remarks for those and cannot be here this evening.
However, he received this letter:
“Urgent. Dear Mr Pope:
“Re Bill 86”
“I understand Bill 86 may be called for consideration by the committee of the whole this afternoon. For this reason, I am writing to inform you of the position of the Canadian Bankers’ Association.”
He goes through the same concerns. On the 14th and 15th, last week, when it became apparent that the government planned to proceed with this bill, they raised their concerns. They are requesting that the government bears in mind that the banking. association has concerns about this legislation; not the principle, which it supports, but the way the legislation is worded, the drafting of the legislation and concern about how it will actually be implemented.
Some of the concerns, by the way, deal with the cost to administer this particular piece of legislation. I know that is not something that is of particular concern to this Liberal administration when it has dealt with any of the other pieces of legislation, witness rent control and a number of bills the Attorney General (Mr Scott) has brought forward. Cost does not seem to be any concern in how legislation is administered or whether it is technically feasible to administer it.
From the responses I have had from Treasury officials, many of whom I or that the member for Cochrane South or our research people have had the opportunity to talk to, I am aware they feel that the banking institutions and the trust companies simply want to delay the bill because there may be some financial penalty to these institutions as to how long they may have deposits and whether these will accrue to the banking institutions themselves.
I respect the fact that this is one of the impacts of this bill. However, they assure me that they do see the necessity for the bill and they are eager to see it proceed. They simply want to make sure that once the funds accrue to the crown, that liability for how that is handled from the banking point of view is cleared up. They want to also look at the costs they are going to have to bear to comply with the legislation. In fact, if they have suggestions as to how the government can more efficiently administer this bill and how they can more efficiently administer this bill, that will surely mean less cost for the taxpayers and less cost for those clients of those various institutions.
Because those experts who understand this legislation have not been given time to actually propose amendments, unlike the government, they do not want to propose something hastily that may require redrafting. That is not something that has stopped this government from proceeding before, nor it appears even today, but I think it is a responsible position on their part.
For that reason, while I do not have amendments to put forward, I would respectfully suggest that the parliamentary assistant show some initiative and some respect for those who will be affected by this legislation and suggest to the chairman of the committee that we not proceed with this particular bill but that in fact we do the responsible thing and allow the input that ought to be there and deal with this legislation when the Legislature resumes in March.
The Second Deputy Chair: It is my understanding that there appear to be no amendments.
Mr Reycraft: I want to respond to some of the questions and suggestions that were put forward by representatives of the other parties.
The member for Nipissing has suggested we should postpone the implementation of the bill and decide it should not go forward with speed. I want to remind him of the purpose of this legislation. Its purpose, very clearly, is to get unclaimed property back to its owners. All over Ontario there are millions of dollars sitting in banks and resting with insurance companies and other financial institutions -- money that has been forgotten by its owners.
We want to put in place something that exists nowhere else in Canada; that is, a system that will allow us to let the owners of that property know about it and get it back into their hands, and we would like to proceed with that as quickly as possible.
I agree with the member that this legislation is technical and that to a layman it can be difficult to understand. That is exactly the reason why this legislation was several months in coming to the Legislature after it was first announced in the budget. The officials with Treasury have conducted an extensive consultation with interested groups and within the government as well. There was no model in Canada that we could turn to to build an Ontario program on. We had to look elsewhere.
Certainly, as Treasury officials proceeded with the consultation and as they drafted the legislation, they made it very clear to interested organizations that they would be basing it on legislation that existed in the United States, so I do not think the kind of legislation that has been placed before the assembly should be a great surprise to any of the affected organizations.
Mr Revllle: In overtime, one goal does it.
Mr Reycraft: Well it depends, I say to the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville), whether it is sudden-victory overtime or not.
I want to say that last Wednesday, when we had the second-reading debate on the bill, the member for Cochrane South indicated to me and to the Legislature that he had been contacted by the Canadian Bankers’ Association and perhaps others, and had heard concerns expressed about the bill. It was in response to those concerns that I spoke with him after the second-reading debate and he indicated to me that he had advised the association and others that they should contact Treasury officials and make their concerns known to us.
Our officials followed up on information that had been provided to us, contacted the organization and asked if it would advise us of those concerns. They indicated to us, I say with regret, that they felt much more time was needed if there was going to be a meaningful consultation and that they could not advise us of their concerns in just a few short days. That was despite the fact that they were consulted on a number of occasions before the legislation was finally drafted.
The member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) talked about the fact that the bill was not made available to the interested institutions before it was presented in the Legislature. I am sure he would have been the first to object had it been shown to them first. This really is a budget bill and the tradition is that it is not made available to other organizations before it is introduced in the Legislature.
Our officials in Treasury started very quickly after last spring’s budget to conduct that consultation of which I have talked. They consulted with a number of different organizations. They consulted officials with other ministries to try to make sure that legislation that was put before the House was legislation that would work. We have reviewed the concerns that have been forwarded to us to this point and we believe this is legislation that will work.
The Second Deputy Chair: It is with a great deal of pleasure that I recognize the member for Nickel Belt.
Mr Laughren: Mr Chairman, just being recognized by you is equally pleasurable.
The parliamentary assistant did not answer a couple of questions. First of all, I should not have to straighten him out. This is not a budget bill. This was not introduced until December so it is not a bill attached to the budgetary process that occurs in the spring every year.
Secondly, let me read to the parliamentary assistant exactly what the Canadian Bankers’ Association said in its letter of 18 December.
“On the morning of Thursday 14 December an official in the Treasury ministry contacted the Canadian Bankers’ Association to request a meeting later the same morning to obtain banking industry comments on Bill 86. The Canadian Bankers’ Association declined to arrange a meeting on such short notice and indicated that it did not feel that a meeting with officials would be productive at that time.”
I am sure the Canadian Bankers’ Association felt it had a legislative gun to its head since second reading of the bill had already been completed on that date, and what was the purpose at that point, unless the bill was going to be referred out to a committee for some kind of debate. So the arguments the parliamentary assistant uses are specious at best.
What is the rush in this case? Is there something magical about the end of the calendar year 1989 regarding unclaimed property? I find it hard to believe that is the case. Since there has never been legislation dealing with unclaimed property, why the unseemly haste at this point, since the legislation is in effect retroactive anyway? It deals with all property that has not been claimed up to the point that the bill is proclaimed, It is not a question that if we do not get it through now, people will not be able to get their property. That is not the point at all.
Why is the parliamentary assistant not prepared to sit down and consult in an appropriate manner, with time for interested parties to prepare their case, and, since he said he did not want to show them the bill ahead of time, with time for them to look at the bill in some kind of detail and talk it over with members of the Treasury and Ministry of Economics to see just what their concerns are?
It is quite possible, since both opposition parties support the bill in principle, that little or nothing will have to be changed in the bill. But the point is that the government has to engage in meaningful consultation on legislation such as this.
Mr Harris: Very briefly, I just indicate that obviously none of our protestations on behalf of all those who will be affected by this legislation are going to have much effect on the parliamentary assistant. I expressed my concern over that. I think the quickest route to the cabinet table is to show that independence and make a quick-on-one’s-feet decision that is in fact in the very best interests.
I suggest one final, last plea to the parliamentary assistant. He has responded that if there are still concerns, we will hold up the proclamation for a period of time or we will hold up sections of the proclamation.
Mr Reycraft: I didn’t say that.
Mr Harris: All right. That is what he suggested to me earlier.
If the government is going to hold up proclamation waiting for the input, why not wait and see if in fact the bill needs any changes in the drafting, because we are talking about the same period of time. I do not want to say, “I told you so,” when you come back here in March and say:
“I just need a couple of little changes to this bill. You are all in favour of it anyway. We will do it,”
I fear the parliamentary assistant, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the officials in the ministry will be so embarrassed that they will muddle through with a flawed piece of legislation and try to correct it by regulation rather than coming back and fixing up the legislation, which is what probably will have to be done.
So why would the parliamentary assistant say, “Oh, we will hold up proclamation until we have had a chance for the input”? Really, that is holding a gun to the head and saying: “It has already passed third reading. We can proclaim it whenever we want.” I do not think that is a fair way to deal.
Secondly, we probably are talking about the same amount of time. Why not have the consultation in the proper order and in a consultative way?
This is my last and final plea to the parliamentary assistant, that they do take a little time on this and make sure that in fact we will be dealing with a piece of legislation that is drafted properly.
Ms Bryden: I really feel that I must stand up and say that this is another example of the provincial Treasurer’s attempt to turn this Legislature into a rubber stamp and not consult people who are affected by legislation. It is absolutely shocking that a so-called Liberal government is dragging through bills without even letting people know about them and trying to put them through in the dying days of a session. I think it will go down on the record as part of this Liberal government’s departure from true democracy.
Mr Reycraft: I want to say, first of all, to the member for Nipissing, that we have proceeded very cautiously and very deliberately in drafting this piece of legislation. We believe that this piece of legislation is workable.
I want to say to them that there are some safeguards in the bill and in the process that will address any situation we may not have contemplated.
First of all, there is of course the matter of the option of delaying proclamation, which he has indicated. Section 48 of the bill indicates that it comes into effect “on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.” Subsection 9(2) of the bill represents another safety valve. There is provision there for the public trustee to provide additional time, if he is convinced that it is required, for a holder to transfer unclaimed property to him.
As well, as we proceed with the drafting of the regulations, we assume that we will be able to deal with any other minor concerns of which we have been made aware at this point.
With respect to last Thursday’s date and what has been said about it, I want to say that it was during the second reading debate on Wednesday that the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) indicated to me and to the Legislature that he had received some concerns. He indicated to me after that debate that he had talked to the organization, had advised it to contact the Treasury to make its concerns available to us and, further, that he fully expected that this legislation would become law before Christmas.
By Thursday morning no such contact had been made by the organization with any of the Treasury officials and I asked the officials to contact the organization themselves to invite it to put its concerns forward. They indicated at that time that they preferred not to do so on such short notice, and I think that is regrettable. I would like to have had the opportunity to look at their concerns, but unfortunately they chose not to put them before us.
Again, I want to say that it is our desire to proceed with this legislation quickly so that we can put in place the process that is going to be needed to start returning unclaimed property that exists in many different locations and in many different amounts around the province, to get that property back to its real owner.
The Second Deputy Chair: Still dealing with Bill 86, An Act respecting the Custody of Unclaimed Intangible Property. There was an indication that there were no amendments. All participants who wanted to partake in the debate appear to have had their say.
Sections 1 to 49, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
The Chair: I want to list the sections to which members would like to address comments, questions and proposed amendments. I have received a list of five government amendments to section 1, one third-party amendment to section I and none from the official opposition. Do other members wish to add something?
Mr Cousens: I want to speak to a number of sections of this bill: under subsection 136(2) of the act, paragraphs 2, 3 and 6; and on subsection 136(5). There are numerous sections in this bill that I would like to comment on as we go through and solicit comments back.
Mr Chairman, just while you are getting ready, I recently saw the Attorney General in the House, was pleased to see him here at this late hour and hoped he might be carrying the bill, inasmuch as it is such an important bill. I see now that the parliamentary assistant, a very qualified and capable man, I am sure, has moved into the chair but, inasmuch as it is the Attorney General who makes all the decisions, I would have liked very much to have him participate in this debate. Is there any chance that he will be here and participating?
The Chair: I just chair the committee of the whole House; I certainly do not send out invitations for members to participate.
Mr Polsinelli: The Attorney General came in to greet the House as it endeavoured to work through a number of bills at this very late hour. Unfortunately, he has certain other commitments. Since this is a fairly technical, minor bill, he felt that we could deal with it ourselves.
The Chair: I have a government proposal. Would you confirm the official opposition has got no proposed amendments to Bill 62? No?
Mr Cousens: Have the government amendments been circulated? I certainly have no other copies of any amendments.
Mr Polsinelli: The government amendments have been circulated to both of the opposition critics. The member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), who is the Justice critic for the third party, has received a copy; and the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos), who is the Justice critic for the official opposition, has received a copy.
The Chair: Have the tables received copies? Yes?
Mr Polsinelli: Perhaps as an introductory remark I can indicate that these are technical amendments that are a direct result of Bill 2 and Bill 3 being passed by this House. Bill 2 and Bill 3, the House will remember, are the court reform bills. At the time this bill was introduced, Bill 2 and Bill 3 had not been passed yet and therefore these amendments are required to change the names of certain counties, districts and certain other things as a consequence of Bill 2 and Bill 3. They are strictly technical amendments and are not substantive in any way.
The Chair: Are we ready to start and proceed? I have a government amendment to subsection 136(2).
Mr Cousens: Before we get into that, if I may, I would like just to get an answer back from the parliamentary assistant on those areas that previously were “designated courts.” Could he just give me some background? When they were “designated courts,” what cost was brought in once they were designated? Is there any idea of what the cost was on that? I know it is a continuation of that, but I would be interested in knowing just what the cost was. Is that relevant? Can he give me that? I would be interested in that data.
Mr Polsinelli: Perhaps the member for Markham (Mr Cousens) can be a little more explicit in his request.
Mr Cousens: When we read the explanatory note at the very beginning of the bill, we note that it says, “The concept of the ‘designated court’ is no longer necessary because trials before bilingual judges have been available in all courts throughout Ontario since January 1987.” That is a given and it is accepted. I just wondered, was there any cost to that once it was put together? The reason I am asking this is that on many other occasions I have asked the government for the cost of certain services. I support that service. I just wanted to know how much the cost was around it when it was implemented, if he could possibly share that with us.
Mr Polsinelli: I still am having some difficulty understanding the question; however, the member would know that just about in anything the government does there are costs associated with it. I am not sure of the extent of his question or the specific request he is making. However, I would indicate that the concept of “designated court,” as is explained in item I in the explanatory notes, is no longer necessary since judges have been available in all courts throughout Ontario since January 1987, and since 1987 they have been providing those services.
Mr Cousens: I will pass it by. I wanted to know whether he had those costs handy and if he did, I would be glad to have them; so, no further questions on that part.
The Chair: May I take this opportunity to remind members, even though this is the committee of the whole House, to wait until they are recognized by the Chair before starting to address their remarks. I know that everybody is eager to talk, but let us do this right. Any more comments before we start proceeding with proposed amendments?
Mr Cousens: The only point I make is that for anything we are doing, I think it is important that the government really understand the cost of those things, and that is why I was asking the question. I am satisfied that the honourable parliamentary assistant does not have that number; and therefore the question stands but the answer is not available.
The Chair: Are we ready to proceed with the proposed amendments? The first one that I have is a proposed amendment to subsection 136(2) of the act and section I of the bill.
Mr Polsinelli moves that subsection 136(2) of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be amended by striking out “a county or district” in the second line of paragraph 2, in the second line of paragraph 3 and in the first line of paragraph 6 and inserting in lieu thereof in each case “an area.”
The Chair: Order, please. There are a lot of private discussions, please. Thank you.
Mr Polsinelli: As I indicated earlier in my opening remarks, all of these amendments are technical amendments resulting from Bill 2 and Bill 3. The names of these districts and counties have been changed by Bill 2 and Bill 3 and these amendments would use the same terminology in this bill as was used in Bill 2 and Bill 3.
Mr Cousens: I want to speak to the major part of subsection 136(2) of the act. I have no concerns with the way this amendment has been drafted. So before you, Mr Chair, go ahead and quickly pass subsection 136(2) of the act, I would like to speak to it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Cousens: I wanted to ask the parliamentary assistant a question, and again, it is a question that I have had other people ask me, I do not really have the answer and I understand that with his experience in this office, he probably has the answer. Actually, I have two questions. First of all, what is the test of fluency when you talk about a person who speaks English and French? Is there any way in which the courts have a method of saying a person is able to speak French or English? Is it the person’s own statement on it, or is there some methodology that helps the court determine who it is they are really talking to, whether the person is francophone or anglophone? I ask that out of a sense of really wanting to know.
Mr Polsinelli: I must say that that is a good question. I do not have an appropriate answer to it, but I would assume that within the judicial system there is some mechanism in terms of determining whether or not an individual is fluent in the French language. I know that the Civil Service Commission has its own teachers, appraisers or the like who go out and actually do assessments to determine the fluency of individuals and do so rate them, within the commission.
I would assume either that that is extended to the judicial system or that they have some other system that is established that would determine a sufficient level of fluency in the French language.
Mr Cousens: I would be most grateful if the parliamentary assistant, in inquiring about this further with staff, finds that he could share with me at a future time what methods are used to test fluency in either English or French. I would be most interested in whether there is a methodology used within the courts.
The second question on that one has to do with the costs associated with subsection 136(2) and it really applies to the bill as a whole. Is there any cost to implementing subsection 136(2) or this bill as a whole, and if so, how much has the ‘government determined that to be and what is budgeted for it?
Mr Polsinelli: About a budget requirement for this, I can only answer that quite generally in the sense that I would assume that the costs for implementing this bill are presently within the estimates of the Attorney General. However, I would ask the member for Markham what the costs of justice, equity and fairness are. I think it is fairly difficult to put a price tag on those.
Mrs Marland: With respect, I think my colleague the member for Markham is asking the parliamentary assistant a very serious question. He is simply asking what the cost is of this legislation that is in the House this evening and that we are going to be asked to vote on.
I think it is a very responsible question. I think that if this government is drafting legislation, it should know what the cost and the impact are to the people of this province. I do not think that it is good enough that the parliamentary assistant stands up and sort of flippantly says, “Well, what’s the cost of fairness and justice?” That was not the question.
The question was, what is the cost of implementing a particular section of this particular bill? If this Liberal government does not know the cost of it, and yet on so many other areas says it cannot afford the services that the people of this province need -- and we could start very easily with the service of health care -- then this government just continues to railroad its legislation that it is bound and determined to pass and does not care what it costs.
I would suggest that the reason it does not know is that it really does not care and tragically, that has been demonstrated by this Liberal government over and over again. The reason the question is being asked by my colleague the member for Markham is that he cares. Every one of us in the Progressive Conservative caucus cares. We worry about new legislation and the kind of budget that is required to meet it.
It is fine to say it is in the Attorney General’s budget, but I am concerned about what is not in somebody else’s budget. If this is in the Attorney General’s budget and this is a priority for this government, why does it not say that? But if it means that at the cabinet sweepstakes another important budget -- and it may well be health -- is not in the budget of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) because it is in the budget of the Attorney General, then that is the whole point of this question. We will very shortly tonight be discussing Bill 47, and Bill 47 is a total copout on the provision of health care in this province. It is where suddenly the provision of health care is going to fall on the employers and ultimately the employees, where everybody will be taxed for health care. I suggest that if this government does not know the cost of this legislation and the impact of it on the provincial taxpayers through the overall Treasury of this Liberal government, then I do not think it is satisfactory to have no answers to very serious questions in terms of budget.
Mr Polsinelli: Perhaps I misunderstood the question. If the members of the third party understood what this bill was doing, and I take it they do understand what it is doing, the only new thing it is doing is allowing lawyers to file documents in the courts in those designated areas in either of the two official languages. That is not an additional cost to the government. That is not an incremental cost.
Those other items that it is putting into statutory form that have been done since 1987 have been in the Ministry of the Attorney General’s budget since 1987. If the member for Markham and the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) wanted to know what those costs are, they have had notice of them for the past three years in the Ministry of the Attorney General’s budget. If they had wanted a specific answer tonight as to what those costs have been, the normal procedure would have been to have given notice of those questions and that information would have been available.
But if it is a question of the incremental costs, there are no incremental costs. If it were the costs, as I understood them to be, of running those other services since 1987, I would have appreciated notice and I would have provided that information.
Hon Mr Bradley: They want to be against it without being seen to be against it.
Mr Cousens: I had a chance to speak on this on second reading this afternoon. I would like to go on record, once again, that our caucus supports the expansion of the services under schedule 1 and schedule 2 of this bill. Certainly, in that order, it is important for us to go on record again inasmuch as there is an innuendo floating about in this House that we do not support that.
Hon Mr Bradley: Well, it is true,
Mr Cousens: If other honourable members who are making insulting statements are not in their seats, Mr Chairman, I hope you would cause them to either sit somewhere else or cause them to leave the chamber. There are two or three of them all over the place.
The point has been made and I make it again. The honourable parliamentary assistant does not have the answer. That is fine. We are used to that. We will proceed to the next item.
The Chair: Are we ready to look at the second proposed amendment? I think the parliamentary assistant has a motion for subsection 136(4).
Mr Polsinelli moves that subsection 136(4) of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be amended by striking out “in the provincial court (family division) or the provincial court (civil division)” in the second and third lines and inserting in lieu thereof “in the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) or in the Small Claims Court.”
The Chair: Do you have an opening statement? No?
Mr Cousens: I would like to hear the opening statement. I do not fully understand what he is doing.
Mr Polsinelli: I can repeat the opening statement six times, if the member for Markham would like, but as I indicated earlier, these amendments are placed as a consequence to Bills 2 and 3, which changed the terminology. At the time that Bill 62 was introduced, Bills 2 and 3 had not received second and third reading yet, the terminology had not been implemented into law. As a result of that, the terminology of this bill has to be changed in order to comply with Bills 2 and 3. That is, more or less, the same explanation I will be offering in most of the other amendments, with the exception of perhaps the last one, dealing with the schedules.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: The next proposed amendment is to subsection 136(5). Does the member for Markham have a comment or question?
Mr Cousens: I did under subsection 6 and whether it is changed from the previous amendments that the honourable parliamentary assistant is tabling. I noticed that in subsection 6, at the top of page 2 of the bill, when it talks about counties or districts named in schedule 2, “a party may file pleadings and other documents written in French.” Schedule 2 does not include certain areas that are in schedule 1. Renfrew and also Algoma, Nipissing and Timiskaming are missing in schedule 2. Could the parliamentary assistant explain the rationale for that? I did not understand it.
Mr Polsinelli: I would be pleased to do that, but perhaps before we do that we can do subsection 5? I have an amendment to subsection 136(5).
The Chair: And you have gone back to paragraph 136(2)6, correct?
Mr Cousens: Okay, go ahead and do subsection 5.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that subsection 136(5) of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be amended by striking out “in the provincial offences court” in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof “in the Ontario Court (Provincial Division).”
Motion agreed to.
Mr Cousens: Maybe at this point the honour-able parliamentary assistant could answer the question I asked previously.
The Chair: It refers to paragraph 136(2)6, at the top of page 2, correct?
Mr Polsinelli: The question was, why are schedule 1 and schedule 2 different and cover different areas? Schedule 1 deals with bilingual juries. Schedule 2 deals with bilingual documents. The filing of bilingual documents is going to be allowed in eight designated districts, and that is because there are the court officials there who are capably bilingual and can receive those documents. On the question of the bilingual juries in schedule 1, as the member for Markham will recall, my opening statement earlier this afternoon indicated that bilingual juries cannot be offered in all the districts because of the difficulties in empanelling the juries. When those obstacles of law are overcome, then the areas in schedule 1 will be increased.
The Chair: Any comments? No? That is it? Fair enough.
I looked at the third-party motion and the language is not very clear. Maybe the member for Markham can help me guide it through. Is it to amend subsection 136(9) at the very bottom of page 2?
Mr Cousens: Yes, it is.
The Chair: Okay. The way it is written down it sure does not sound like it, but I assumed that is what it meant.
Mr Cousens: I am open to your guidance, as long as we can identify it is at the bottom of page 2, subsection 9, which reads now, “The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,” and proceeds through to schedule 1 or 2. On my amendment, I should really be saying “subsection 136(9),” I think.
The Chair: Move to amend subsection 136(9)?
Mr Cousens: Yes, we will read it that way. Thank you for your assistance on that.
The Chair: And you want to remove everything that is there and substitute for what is there what you have written in your motion?
Mr Cousens: Subject to your guidance, as usual, what I thought would be best is, rather than voting against something, I would rather remove that whole section and instead place in it wording that would say that this is what I want to have, and then I will speak to that motion if I can place it. Shall I place that motion, Mr Chairman?
The Chair: Please try.
Mr Cousens: I move that subsection 136(9) of the bill be amended by substituting the following:
“The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations prescribing procedures for the purpose of this section.”
If you agree to that, I will speak to it.
The Chair: Very good. So you are amending subsection 136(9) by removing clause (b)?
Mr Cousens: Yes.
The Chair: Okay. If we all understand, would you have an opening statement?
Mr Cousens: This is really the major concern that I would like to address in bringing ourselves to committee of the whole, and I did try to address this whole matter this afternoon when we were doing second reading. Our caucus is supporting the major thrust of the Courts of Justice Amendment Act, which will allow schedule 1 and schedule 2 to be carried forward and provide the services of bilingual juries, bilingual documents and the whole effort to provide services where numbers warrant in Ontario.
I think it is very important for us in this Legislature to understand that there has been a previous commitment to some of these services, and it was under Bill 8. Now as we proceed to another dimension of it, I see this as a natural evolution so that those areas are served in this way. It is very important, in spite of some of the remarks that others were making in this House earlier, which I took as not the right intent that our caucus has on this. To me it is very important that this House knows that yes, there are certain things that are happening and it is important that these services be made available.
What I am concerned about is that there is one section to this bill -- it is consistent with an approach that has been made previously by this government -- to have more and more power reside in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. We have reviewed this in the mining legislation, the health legislation -- there are a number of instances that I talked about this afternoon -- and I oppose giving more power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. I know that the Lieutenant Governor in Council has considerable power already under the French Language Services Act of 1986. I realize that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations by one of the key things that has been given to it previously, amending the schedule by adding areas to it.
I am aware that in the past there has been an allowance that has given this government the power to do certain things without bringing it to the floor of the Legislature. I want to go on record in a strong, clear, unequivocal way that hopefully does not portray any kind of ill will and bad feelings to those who might in the future be served by having French-language services. I would hope that when the government wants to provide those services it will come back to the floor of the Legislature and allow all members to participate in such a discussion.
The Premier is already on record as saying, on 5 July 1985, that, ‘I would like to see this province officially bilingual.” I happen to believe that giving this power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council really gives him the option to do that at his own discretion.
I would also like to go on record with an additional statement that came out of the committee, the report on the Ontario French Language Services Commission, It was a minority opinion presented by two of the members of our caucus, the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) and the member for Mississauga South. They said: “As part of the proceedings of a select committee,” that would look into French-language services, “all interested citizen groups should be allowed to appear and comment on the implementation of the French Language Services Act. After such hearings, the committee could then determine areas in which the implementation of the act may be improved.”
I see a tremendous value in having continued dialogue on French-language services in committee, in the House and not in the hands of the few who are in the select group of cabinet, so that all of us who are in a position to speak on behalf of our constituents will have that opportunity in this the public forum in which there is no excuse for not standing up and speaking your mind,
The feeling is very strong -- certainly in our minority opinion report -- that the Liberal government’s failure to provide such a public forum to explain fully the implications of Bill 8 and to allow public input on this significant issue is jeopardizing the groundwork laid by previous Progressive Conservative governments in developing a harmonious relationship between francophone and anglophone Ontario. I think it is imperative that we continue to try to build those relationships, and we will do so by talking about it, not by doing it by fiat or in secret, behind closed doors of cabinet.
When we look at some of the areas that already have a certain number of francophones, I am led to believe that the government may, by its own decision of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, make an expansion of those services, again without coming to this floor. I am saying anything that is of a significant nature should not be done in that way. All I am asking for is to use this as the forum for debate and discussion on all these issues. If the Legislature, in its wisdom, sees the value of having a committee that can deal with that, I see that as well as having great value for all of us.
I would say that honourable members of this House will have to stand up and be counted. We have the minister responsible for francophone affairs in York region, we have the former minister responsible for francophone affairs from York region; that is, the member for York North (Mr Beer) and the member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara). We also have the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger). I do not know how he stands on it, but I know that those other two members of the Legislative Assembly from York region might well be supportive of having York region included as an area that would be so designated under schedules 1 and 2 of this bill. I would be concerned if that were to happen.
As I looked at some of the other areas that could be considered by this bill, I wondered to what degree we in the Legislature will have any say in the matter. All I am hoping for is that before any decision is made we in this House are in a position to stand up and be counted. As I looked at some of the other areas, I realized that we are really talking about having members of the Legislature accountable to the people who elect them on all that is done, not to cop out and say, “I have let the cabinet decide.”
Therefore, if you look at Durham region’s census figures, you would then have the member for Durham Centre (Mr Furlong), the member for Durham West (Mrs Stoner) and the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz) standing up and speaking out on whether or not they are in favour of having this bill implemented for Durham. I have the statistics that show the number of people, by language, who exist in these areas. I will tell members there are not an awful lot, so why then create the doubt in the minds of the electorate that the government might in fact, at some point in the future, declare those areas to have the need for these services?
I have a number of different municipalities in which I have made that examination, and I have the figures at hand. I think, in light of the time restraints we are under here in the House at this late hour, I will refrain from reading them, but I just have to tell the honourable chairman I have them for Peel, I have them for Sarnia, I have them for something like eight or nine different areas. All of them raise the question as to whether one day or another cabinet will decide on whether or not that area will have these services. I am also led to believe that certain areas begin now to fall into the guidelines that were originally set by the government for French-language services that were part of Bill 8.
Whether London, Oshawa, Kitchener and St Catharines will be added to the list is a matter about which I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant, whether he knows of any other areas that the government is considering adding and just what areas those are and when it may intend to add other areas, not only under Bill 8, which this bill ties into, but also under Bill 62. If the minister’s parliamentary assistant could give some comment on that, it would begin to satisfy some of the concerns I am raising about this bill. will be very pleased if the parliamentary assistant is able to support this amendment. It would show a genuine effort on the part of him and the government to consider the kind of balance that I am asking for.
I would also be interested in knowing if the parliamentary assistant did have a chance to discuss this amendment, since he saw it this afternoon, with the Premier or with the Attorney General in order to get his marching orders. That is one of the reasons why I was asking whether or not the Attorney General was going to be here, because I would have very much enjoyed having him comment on, debate and discuss these issues in committee, as would have been the case. So if the parliamentary assistant can answer these questions -- if he forgets them, I will ask them all again so that we can get on with it -- that would be helpful.
Mr Polsinelli: This is a very narrow bill with a very narrow extension of rights. The new right that it grants is the allowing of filing of documents in one of the two official languages in eight designated districts in the province of Ontario.
The member for Markham tells me that he supports this bill. He tells me that his party supports this bill, and I have no cause not to believe him because his party supported Bill 8. It was unanimous agreement of this House that supported the French Language Services Act.
Yet he also tells me that he has an amendment placed before this committee that would freeze the impact of this very narrow bill to eight particular districts and that any addition to those districts would require that a bill be prepared, brought before this House, debated before this House, go through the whole legislative process and eventually, hopefully, get passage. I must say that the government cannot support that. It is clearly the government’s intention to do this. I will quote from the Attorney General’s statement when he introduced the bill for first reading, “It is my intention to extend this list to other areas of the province as the bilingual capacity of our court offices grows.” That is clearly contrary to the member’s motion, and we will not be supporting it.
Mr Cousens: I want to go on record that if and when, and if the member is still the parliamentary assistant at that time -- I certainly from within my caucus, and I think I can speak for our whole caucus -- that if and when areas have increased numbers and there is a rationale for it, I would strongly support that kind of legislation coming before the House. I would not hinder it, I would not hold it back. I am certainly not doing much more today than putting on the record certain concerns.
May I ask the parliamentary assistant, why does he not use this as the forum for major decisions that affect services across the province? What is the matter with bringing things to the Ontario Legislature so that all members are fully aware of them? The debate then is full, the government has an opportunity, so the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler), who was carping this afternoon and has not stood to speak at all, and any other member who wants to speak has that opportunity. I would like to take away the government’s reason for not supporting our amendment.
Then, should it have amendments to bring to this bill at a future time, and should I still be here, I would be pleased to support certain of those amendments when the rationale for them was valid. I did ask the parliamentary assistant if he did discuss this at all with the Attorney General or with the Premier. Did you do so and have you got your marching orders on it, or are you just going from previous readings?
The Chair: Before you answer, can I still remind members that you use a third person singular through the Speaker, never directly addressing another member. There was a question addressed to the parliamentary assistant, but I see that the member for Nepean also wants to talk.
Mr Daigeler: I do want to take just a few minutes for the member for Markham. If the member for Markham would not have kept repeating the same points this afternoon again and again for some 40 to 50 minutes, I would have had an opportunity to put my views on the record. I would appreciate if the member, the next time he stands up, would be more succinct in his comments so that other members in this House can speak as well.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Markham asks me if I had an opportunity to consult with the Premier and the Attorney General. I chose not to do so. I believe I know what the government policy is, and in terms of this particular bill it is quite clear in the Attorney General’s opening statement as to what the government’s intention is.
When the member for Markham talks about bringing matters for discussion before this House, I believe he is right. I think major policy questions should be brought before the Legislature and we should have a full and frank debate on it. We are not talking about major policy here; we are talking about the filing of court documents. That is not dependent on numbers; it is dependent on right. It is not a major policy; it is a minor thing. It is a narrow extension of rights. I do not know how differently I could put it. It is not a major policy, and yet the member for Markham goes on and on about freezing the districts in the province where bilingual lawyers will have the opportunity to file in one of the two official languages of this country.
He talks about, if we have to add another designated area, having to bring that before this Legislature and debate it before this Legislature. I do not understand that. It is not a major policy. It is a very simple thing, a very narrow extension of rights. We have the support of the Canadian Bar Association. We have the support of the Law Society of Upper Canada. We have the support of the Association of French-Speaking Jurists of Ontario.
The member for Markham should know that in the Supreme Court of Canada documents can be filed in both official languages. In the Federal Court of Canada documents can be filed in both official languages. In Quebec, documents can be filed in both official languages. In Manitoba, documents can be filed in both official languages. In New Brunswick, court documents can be filed in both official languages. In Saskatchewan, court documents can be filed in both official languages.
In eight districts, in eight designated areas out of 49 in Ontario, documents after this bill has been passed will be able to be filed in both official languages, and as our bilingual services and our courts expand, those areas will be increased. That is clear government policy.
I am not going nor is this government going to support, an amendment that would require a separate bill to be introduced to this House every time another designated area is going to be placed on this list.
Mr Cousens: The member has put it on the record and I have put it on the record that the fact that government is getting more and more power is the source of concern to me. I just believe in the accountability of all of us to the people of the province. I have put this on the record as one of concern. I realize that it is narrow. It may be small by his standards. I think that several mistakes have been made in the past.
We are now seeing that this government does not have the confidence, certainly of this caucus, in the way it is implementing Bill 8. If that confidence had been maintained, I would not have had to read into the record our lack of confidence, the fact that a minority report has had to be made by our caucus on the way the government is dealing with this important issue.
If the government had in fact carried things through in a sense in which there could be a continuing confidence in the spirit of what was the Bill 8 debate, then I would feel better. We have lost that confidence, and the reason that this amendment is here is small, but it stands for a principle. It stands for at least a guideline that makes this, the chamber, the ruling body and we as members the ones who make the decisions.
So in that spirit, I have presented it. I feel right about what I have done. If members opposite feel right about what they have done as a government, then that is the decision of the public when it decides what they are doing and how they are doing it when we come before it again. Today I have at least tried to do that. I do not think there is any ill will being shown by ourselves to our francophone community or to any other community. We are trying to be responsible to all the people of the province and are trying to make the government responsible, and that is a mighty difficult thing to do.
Mrs Marland: The parliamentary assistant just said in answer to a question of my colleague a moment ago that this bill permits the designation of additional areas when necessary, which I understand, having read the bill, is so. I just wondered whether the parliamentary assistant could tell us when that is necessary. What is the criteria that they have for adding additional areas, since once this bill is passed, we, as members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, will have no further input into the designation of the areas?
I sat on a committee that reviewed another bill that was not very clear about how that would be done either, and since it is a very important pivotal point for this bill, I wonder if he could just clarify that for us.
Mr Polsinelli: I will clarify that and I go back to the statement of the Attorney General on first reading. The indication is that the designated areas will be increased as the bilingual capacity of our court offices grows; that is, as we get fluent personnel in the court offices who are competent to handle these filings, then other areas will be designated.
But I say again, this is a very narrow bill. It allows the filing of French-language and English-language documents in only eight designated areas. I am quite surprised that the member for Markham is making such a big deal about it. I would ask the member for Markham whether or not this is his amendment or whether it reflects his party’s opinion.
Mrs Marland: The parliamentary assistant just said the designated areas will be increased when the bilingual capacity of the courts is increased. He is saying that is the criteria. I do not think it is the same criteria as Bill 8, which said “where services demand” or “where need is identified.” What he is saying is that it is the capacity of the courts to be bilingual. The area will then be designated.
My understanding of Bill 8 is that the designated areas are those areas where the need is identified by the people within that area, so I see a very different thing happening now with this bill than with Bill 8.
Mr Polsinelli: We are dealing with quite different matters here. We are dealing with the justice system. We are dealing with the right to trial in one of the two official languages and I am not quite sure that is dependent on how many people live in a particular area as to whether or not this matter should be available as a right or not.
Again, I point out this is a third-party amendment that we are debating, and as they are allowed to ask me questions on my amendments, perhaps the member for Markham would respond to my question as to whether or not this is his amendment or in fact reflects his party’s position.
Mr Cousens: The question has been answered because, assuming that I have the floor -- and I have asked many questions of this parliamentary assistant and did not receive answers. This is a caucus amendment. It is not just an amendment by myself. It is tabled in the way in which it should be tabled. I just question whether or not the parliamentary assistant has caucused what he is doing and has had a chance to consider all that is happening.
I would say that we are talking about a lack of ‘ confidence in this government to do what is right and, really, what is in the best interests of all. If it is the right thing, why not do it here on the floor of the Legislature? That is the meaning behind this amendment. We are in support of the services previously mentioned. If someone wants to read something else into it, he can.
It is very important that this is another indication of this government’s taking and expanding the powers of cabinet, putting more into them. I see that as a flaw of the system in Ontario. Unlike the people in East Germany who can shout and fly to get changes, we can shout and scream in this House and we are not successful in getting changes at all. I feel a little bit more frustrated. I think I am probably in Bulgaria, where we have a different kind of system. Notwithstanding that, the motion stands and we will just see how it is dealt with.
Mr Harris: I am provoked to say a few comments. This caucus has expressed on numerous occasions our concern with the increasing power of this government. In spite of the fact it has a majority and can pass amendments any time it wants to in the House -- in spite of that fact that it has a 94-seat majority -- bill after bill and legislation after legislation has been brought in to this House giving massive, new, extensive powers to the Executive Council.
When we give that kind of power to the Executive Council, as we saw in the pay bills earlier tonight, that means the Premier, and he alone, because not one member of the cabinet of this administration has the guts to stand up to the Premier if he wants to do something. Not one member of this Liberal caucus that I see in the House has the guts. There have been one or two over the four years; the member for Etobicoke-Humber (Mr Henderson) is not here.
Mr Henderson: I beg your pardon.
Mr Harris: He is here, I am sorry. I see him now.
But not one member has had the guts to stand up and speak out when the Premier has ordered them to do something. The member for Markham has expressed a concern on this legislation in support of the principle, in support of the legislation, in support of what this bill attempts to do in extending French-language services. He has expressed --
Mr Kerrio: Did you?
The Chair: Order.
Mr Harris: He has expressed a concern on this legislation, as we have expressed on earlier legislation, as we have expressed on the Mining Act, as we have expressed on a number of others, about the amount of power that this administration wants to put in the hands of the executive council.
Mr Fleet: This is not go leadership.
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Harris: We have taken the opportunity consistently, on bill after bill after bill, to say that we think that those people who are elected, those MPPs who come here, ought to have more say, ought to have more power. We have said it in committees. I have mentioned the member for Etobicoke-Humber because he has been unwaivering in his support to give more power to the elected MPPs.
So when we raise a concern on this bill, as we have raised on 50 other bills in this House --
Mr Chiarelli: Talk about this bill.
The Chair: Order, please. The member for Nipissing is the only one who has the floor.
Mr Harris: -- about being accountable to the public, about doing things out in open, about doing things where they can be debated -- we have asked you and pleaded you, since you have given yourselves all this power, to put the regulations that impact so significantly on bills before committees. We have asked you to allow us to have a look at that those regulations that come a month, two months, a year, sometimes two years after, that we have no say over, that are not debatable, to allow the public to have a look at them, and you have refused.
The Chair: Your remarks through the Speaker, please.
Mr Harris: Mr Chairman, through you, you ought not to be surprised, as we will express on each and every bill that you bring forward that extends that power, that authoritarian power to one man in a cabinet that bows to that one man, regardless of party. I have lived through that system in opposition. I do not support it and I do not think you should support it, and I do not think that you should sit there and arrogantly yippityyap when the member for Markham raises that concern on behalf of the people of Ontario.
The Chair: Order, please. There again, can I ask, third person singular, never addressing members directly.
Mr Polsinelli: I have to make one further comment on this section. The member for Nipissing, the member for Markham and the member for Mississauga South already know that trials by judge are already available in both official languages throughout the province of Ontario. This bill sets up two schedules. One is a schedule that would allow trial by a bilingual jury. Another one sets up another schedule that would allow eight areas of the province that would permit the filing of bilingual documents; that is, documents in either of the official languages.
The regulatory power that we are discussing, that we are debating tonight, as determined by the motion of the member for Markham, would require, rather than the government by order in council extending those areas, that a separate bill be prepared and brought before this House.
I would ask the member for Markham, what is the necessity of that? Is there any particular area in the province of Ontario where, if the government wanted to extend the availability of filing French-language documents in those areas or whether in those particular areas the government wanted to allow a francophone member of our community to have a trial by a jury in the French language, the member for Markham would say, “No, not in that particular area”? If not, why the necessity to have the bill before the House; that is, why have a bill to include other areas? Why not leave the regulatory power there?
The Chair: Can I propose to the member for Markham, according to what he proposed to me, if I may read and if he likes it, this is what we will move?
Mr Cousens moves that subsection 136(9) of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be amended by striking out “(b) adding counties or districts to schedule 1 or 2.”
Are you comfortable with that? Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Order, please. We have business to do.
Mr Polsinelli moves that clause 136(9)(b) of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be amended by striking out “counties or districts” and inserting in lieu thereof “areas.”
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that schedules 1 and 2 to section 136 of the act, as set out in section I of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“Schedule 1, bilingual juries, paragraphs 2 and 3 of subsection 136(2): The following counties: Essex, Prescott and Russell, Renfrew and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The following territorial districts: Algoma, Cochrane, Nipissing, Sudbury, Timiskaming. The area of the county of Welland as it existed on 31 December 1969. The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. The municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.
“Schedule 2, bilingual documents, paragraph 6 of subsection 136(2): The following counties: Essex, Prescott and Russell and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The area of the county of Welland as it existed on the 31 December 1969. The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. The municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.”
Mr Polsinelli: The judicial district of Niagara South, as shown in the previous schedules that were filed with the bill, does not correspond with any of the existing government boundaries and that is the reason for the reference in the amendment to the county of Welland as it existed in 1969.
Mr Cousens: The amendment is an acceptable one and understandable on the basis of the way it has been introduced by the parliamentary assistant. I guess, to me, it would be the same kind of support for future changes to services that are being provided for francophones in the province of Ontario. It would receive speedy reading and a full understanding by our caucus.
I think part of the problem we have is that this government is not willing to allow significant legislation that pertains to language services to be openly and publicly debated and discussed on a regular basis and that the power will reside in cabinet and will not be debated and discussed in this House. That is the substance of the issue. The power was given to the government under Bill 8. I realize it is extensive power and the way the government is using that now is not to our satisfaction. We have since had to release our own minority report on what the government is doing with it.
We will support the amendment as it is being presented, but we also have concerns on just what else is part of this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
EMPLOYER HEALTH TAX ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Resuming consideration of Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of ‘providing for Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act.
Hon Mr Mancini: With your approval, I would like to move down and invite my officials to join me.
The Second Deputy Chair: Now that the minister has taken his place with his advisers, it is my understanding that dealing with Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing for Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act, an amendments was brought forward by the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler) to section 3. I would ask for direction. Had discussion begun?
Hon Mr Mancini: My understanding is that my parliamentary assistant had moved subsections 3(5), (6) and (7) and there was debate going on at the time. We are prepared to move forward with debate and hopefully approve the bill this evening.
Mrs Marland: In speaking to subsections 3(5), (6) and (7), this is simply, in layman’s terms, a provision for the payment of this outrageous employer health tax to be made quarterly in some cases and monthly in others.
The fact of the matter is that we in the Progressive Conservative Party are totally opposed to any payment schedule because we are opposed to the bill. We think it is unjust in its present form. I find the strange financial planning of the Liberal government particularly significant. Their thinking is so obscure that they think because payments are made quarterly it actually costs the small business less. The fact of the matter is that cash flow for small business sometimes is better off quarterly and sometimes it is better off monthly. The amount of money is the same.
The fact that they have made provision for these payment instalments, as far as we are concerned, does not add any grace to the bill, certainly not for the sake of small business in this province today.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of Mr Daigeler’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 4 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that section 7 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(5) For the purposes of this act, unless a regulation has been made and filed under clause 37(l)(c), the prescribed rate of interest payable per year shall be determined using the following rules:
“1. The rate of interest shall be reviewed semiannually and adjusted effective 1 April and 1 October in each year and shall remain in force until the next adjustment date.
“2. If the interest adjustment date is 1 April, the rate of interest shall be the mean rate rounded to the nearest whole percentage point of the lowest interest rates charged to their most creditworthy borrowers for prime business loans by the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Bank of Montreal and the Toronto-Dominion Bank on the immediately preceding 15 January.
“3. If the interest adjustment date is 1 October, the rate of interest shall be the mean rate rounded to the nearest whole percentage point of the lowest interest rates charged to their most creditworthy borrowers for prime business loans by the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Bank of Montreal and the Toronto-Dominion Bank on the immediately preceding IS July.
“4. For the period from 1 January 1990 to 31 March 1990, the rate of interest under this act shall be 14 per cent per year.”
Mrs Marland: It is very exciting, because this Liberal government is moving an amendment to this bill that is really purely housekeeping. The reason I have to rise to make that point is that it is further emphasis and further fuel to the fact that this is one lousy bill.
It is badly drafted and we have known from the beginning it was badly drafted. Here we are with a brand-new piece of legislation and the government feels it necessary to stand up and amend something that is basic to a bill where the government is collecting money. I cannot understand why it would not have established when the rate of interest would be reviewed as part of the original drafting of the bill.
Also, I think it is significant to point out that one of my amendments on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party that was defeated was one that also asked for something to be reviewed, albeit it was the rate of tax. I recognize this amendment is to the rate of interest but the fact is that the rate of interest will be reviewed semiannually and yet the rate of tax did not warrant a review semiannually or even within three years.
My motion asked that the rate of tax, the imposition of this tax on the people of this province, be frozen for three years. The fact is that this government was not willing to do that and yet now it is looking at another little wee piece whereby it may be able to get some extra money out of the poor taxpayers of this province. Well, so be it; it will be able to do it for another year or two, perhaps, and then the taxpayers of this province will be able to tell the Liberal government what they think of paying through the nose, through this health tax on employers and employees.
Hon Mr Mancini: Just so we have a better understanding of this amendment, members opposite almost constantly suggest that we should have less regulation and more things in the bill. Listening to some of the members, I thought maybe this would be one area where we could in fact accommodate their wishes, and as soon as we do that we get criticized by the members opposite.
Mrs Marland: I think also what needs to be pointed out in this particular amendment is paragraph 4, where it says, “For the period from 1 January 1990 to 31 March 1990, the rate of interest under this act shall be 14 per cent per year.
Is that not absolutely wonderful? That is the same period during which this government is already double billing the people of this province who have paid, through different methods, their 01-UP premiums for those first three months. Now we are saying to them, for the same three months that they are being double billed. “If you don’t pay you are going to charged 14 per cent interest.” It is like killing a fly with an elephant gun.
Motion agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 8 to 19, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“20a(I) In this section, ‘out-of-province employer’ means an employer who does not ordinarily maintain a permanent establishment in Ontario but will establish a permanent establishment in Ontario for a period not exceeding 24 months.
“(2) Before establishing a permanent establishment in Ontario, an out-of-province employer shall provide security to the minister for the tax which may become payable by him or her under this act and shall obtain a certificate in duplicate from the minister that the requirements of this section have been met.
“(3) The security referred to in subsection (2), and any security in replacement thereof, shall be in a form and of a kind acceptable to the minister, and the minister may demand additional or replacement security from time to time if the minister considers that the original security is insufficient in relation to the out-of-province employer’s liabilities which will arise under this act.
‘(4) In the certificate issued under subsection (2), or in any replacement thereof issued after a request by the out-of-province employer, the minister may waive the requirement that the out-of-province employer provide security if the minister is satisfied at the time the certificate or replacement certificate is issued that, (a) the out-of-province employer will be maintaining a permanent establishment in Ontario for more than 24 consecutive months after the issuance of the certificate; or (b) the total Ontario remuneration in respect of the out-of-province employer for the year in which the certificate or replacement certificate is issued and for all subsequent years in which the out-of-province employer will be maintaining a permanent establishment in Ontario will be nil.
“(5) Any person making payment to an out-of-province employer without first obtaining the duplicate copy of the certificate to be issued under this section shall, (a) deduct 1.95 per cent of all accounts payable to the out-of-province employer and pay such amount to the Treasurer on behalf of or as an agent for the out-of-province employer on account of tax payable by the out-of-province employer under this act; or, (b) provide security in a form and of a kind acceptable to the minister for 1.95 per cent of the total amount payable to the out-of-province employer to secure payment of the tax payable by the out-of-province employer under this act.
“(6) If a person dealing with an out-of-province employer fails to comply with subsection (5), the person is personally liable for payment of that portion of the tax imposed by this act each year on the out-of-province employer that is determined in accordance with the following formula:
L = T X (A./R) where L is the amount of the liability of the person for the year under this subsection expressed in dollars; T is the total amount of tax payable by the out-of-province employer for the year; A is the portion of the total Ontario remuneration for the year paid by the out-of-province employer in connection with carrying out the terms of all contracts between the person and the out-of-province employer; and R is the total Ontario remuneration for the year -- paid by the out-of-province employer.
“(7) For the purposes of computing interest payable to any person under section 7, any cash deposit paid to the minister to be held as security under this section shall be considered to be a payment to be made under this act, but nothing in this section relieves an out-of-province employer from the requirement to pay instalments under section 3 or any other amount required by this act to be paid.”
Ms Bryden: I see that the minister is intent on making sure that out-of-province employers do not skip out from paying the tax, and I think that as a Minister of Revenue that is his duty. He appears to have covered a great many eventualities that might occur which would enable an out-of-province employer to evade or avoid the tax in some way.
However, what I do question in this amendment is the number of powers that are given to the minister alone under this section, with no right of appeal, no right of reporting to the Legislature how many times he exercises the power that is given to him and no accounting to the Legislature for the amounts that are received under this section.
I think again the Legislature is lacking any ability to control or at least to review the minister’s actions under this amendment. For instance, I notice that he is given the power to determine that this security “shall be in a form and of a kind acceptable to the minister.”
Also, every out-of-province employer must obtain a certificate in duplicate from the minister stating that the requirements of this section have been met. The minister can stand there at the gate and say, “No, you will not get a certificate until you do exactly as I say.” But what is more important is the forms acceptable to the minister:
Will they be made public to the members of the Legislature so that we know what he is requesting before a certificate can be issued?
The minister may also waive the requirement that an out-of-province employer provide security if the minister is satisfied, at the time the certificate is issued, that the out-of-province employer will be maintaining a permanent establishment.
But the point is, what we want to know is how many times he uses his power to waive the requirement that an out-of-province employer provide security and under what circumstances. They give two circumstances here, such as that he will be moving in and maintaining a permanent establishment for more than 24 consecutive months or that the total remuneration will be nil, but there may be others that could be allowed under this. The minister may waive the requirement that the out-of-province employer provide security.
We need to have some sort of assurance from the minister that he will report annually on the extent to which he uses these powers, on the number of certificates that are applied for, the number that are granted and the terms that he requires of the person in order to get a certificate.
In addition, once this information is published annually, there should be some right of appeal. I am not very keen on advocating appeal to the ministry’s appeal board because it is virtually a house body that deals with taxpayers and hears appeals from them, and the final recourse is to the Divisional Court. Of course, if the in-house appeal board appears not to have given justice, then perhaps we should even contemplate, for this particular section of out-of-province employers, there being a sort of reviewing administration within the ministry and an appeal outside that ministry to a justice of the High Court or something of that sort.
We have to allow people to see that justice is done and not that it is hidden from us. We should be very careful about passing this kind of recommendation and just giving the minister the chief power. In a lot of these regulatory powers that we have been giving, it has generally been given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. What the minister can do is much more limited in most acts, but in this act it appears that the minister really has a blank cheque to decide who pays what, in what form and when.
I think this is not something that should be here, and I will certainly vote against this amendment because it should be tightened up in a great many ways.
The Second Deputy Chair: The member for Beaches-Woodbine has spoken to the amendment. I would like the minister to respond while it is fresh in our minds; it is a complicated section.
Hon Mr Mancini: There are full rights of appeal in sections 9 and 10, I want to remind the honourable member.
The Second Deputy Chair: The member for Mississauga South, I know, is anxious to participate in the proposed amendment.
Mrs Marland: I am only anxious to the point, as you have said very correctly, Mr Chairman, that this is a very complicated section. I think, though, that on behalf of our caucus I should say that the best part about this section is in fact the formula, because if the truth be known and I were a crass politician, rather than try to protect the interests of the people of this province by speaking against this bill and by trying to amend this bill to make it even slightly palatable, I would just sit back and let the whole thing go through.
As it is, because the fact of the matter is that the true formula of Bill 47, the employer health tax, is that it is going to be a formula to defeat the Liberal government.
Hon Mr Mancini: That was very crass,
Ms Bryden: The minister says there is a full appeal process in sections 9 and 10. There is an appeal process there against assessments of tax. But what we are objecting to here is not assessments of tax by the minister but his deciding what sort of certificates and security should be provided for out-of-province employers; that is not an assessment, and I think he is quite wrong in saying there is any sort of appeal against his decisions regarding security and the information that must be provided for out-of-province employers.
Hon Mr Mancini: I like the honourable member opposite a great deal, but she is completely incorrect on this particular point.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of the minister’s proposed amendment to section 20 will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: It has been brought to my attention by my very able assistants that this is a new section and that we should actually carry section 20.
Section 20 agreed to.
Sections 21 to 31, inclusive, agreed to.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, may I compliment you on your work this evening.
An hon member: And his nice new suit.
Hon Mr Mancini: You are very distinguished looking this evening.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that subsection 32(2) of the bill be amended by striking out “subsection 11(3)” in the second line and substituting therefor “subsection 12(3).”
Hon Mr Mancini: The purpose of this amendment, just in case anyone is interested, is to correct an incorrect cross-reference.
Ms Bryden: This amendment is simply an example of the sloppiness of the drafting of this bill, and it gives me an opportunity to say to the minister that this bill is unamendable because it is so badly flawed. It creates a brand-new tax for which the government has no experience. It is rushing this through with an act that required many housekeeping amendments of this sort as well as some rather long amendments that we have just adopted.
The fact is that we had to adopt long amendments about out-of-province employers --
The Second Deputy Chair: Order. There is only five minutes left.
Ms Bryden: -- about the interest rates to be charged and how they will be determined and many other items of that sort. If the members think that in five minutes we are going to dispose of this bill, they should not take that opinion because there are still some very important amendments coming up, including my amendments later on which will attempt to end the extra billing, or the double taxation, of the people who pay premiums before the end of December, which will be applicable for their health care for the first three months of 1990.
I intend to demonstrate that these amendments will correct what is a real attempt to grab $425 million from people who were covered by OHIP up to the end of December, but who are now being expected to pay for OHIP for the first three months of the fiscal year. I think this must be amended to end what is really a grab by the province of an extra $425 million of revenue that is not part of this particular bill.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order. The member should be speaking to the proposed amendment. I have been following very closely and it says it is to correct an incorrect cross-reference. I think you are straying slightly from the proposed amendment.
Ms Bryden: I have just told you my reasons why we should consider corrections.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, I have been tolerant. The member for Mississauga South, I can see, is anxious to get involved.
Mrs Marland: Just to place on the record that what I said 15 minutes ago about this being a poorly drafted bill is confirmed by this amendment, which is again purely a housekeeping amendment because of the way the bill was drafted. I mean, surely you can write a bill without having to correct an incorrect cross-reference.
Motion agreed to.
Section 32, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 33 to 35, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mancini moves that section 36 of the bill be amended by striking out “eight” in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof “six.”
Ms Bryden: This amendment is somewhat more substantive than the previous one that I spoke on; that is, it is to cut the period during which proceedings for an offence under the act can be commenced. The previous bill says it shall not be commenced after eight years. It puts a ceiling on the time in which proceedings for an offence can be pursued. By cutting it to six years the ministry is cutting down the time which somebody who is accused of an offence will have to prepare his or her case.
In something as complicated as taxation, we should not be cutting down what was the first thought of the minister; there should be an eight-year allowance for the proceedings to open. With a brand-new bill there may be a good deal of evidence that will come out late, after this act is adopted, if it is. So the person may be accused of an offence and will need to go back a considerable period to prove that he has not violated the act.
I think it is too complicated an act to reduce the period from eight to six in the interests of the taxpayer.
The Second Deputy Chair: The member for Beaches-Woodbine has expressed her concerns about the proposed amendment. At this time I would like to recognize the honourable House leader. I am seeking some direction.
Hon Mr Ward: I was going to seek unanimous consent to waive standing order 6(b)(ii), but I understand in order to do so we would have to rise and report.
The Second Deputy Chair: We have the Deputy Speaker, and we could do that.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported two bills with amendments, one bill without amendment and progress on one bill.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to waive standing order 6(b)(ii) so that we may continue to complete this bill in committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
EMPLOYER HEALTH TAX ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Resuming consideration of Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing for Health Care and -to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act.
The Second Deputy Chair: Everyone is in such a co-operative Christmas mood. The minister has proposed an amendment which was under full discussion by the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden). Is there any further discussion?
Shall the amendment carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 36, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 37 to 39, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: We have a proposed amendment to section 40.
Ms Bryden: I would like to ask that we consider section 41 ahead of section 40, because section 40 depends on section 41. If we can have unanimous consent to that, I will then be able to state my case as to why these two amendments should be dealt with differently. Section 40 really depends on the amendment to section 41.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member has asked if we could have unanimous consent to discuss a proposed amendment that she has to section 41 and we will dispense with the passage of section 40 until we hear her amendment to section 41.
Ms Bryden: With regard to section 41, I will just speak in advance to the two amendments so that we do not have a decision on whether they are out of order until I have spoken to both of them, if I may.
In section 41, I would simply delete the word “April” in the second line of subsection 41(5) and insert “January.”
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, we would like to hear the proposed amendment from the honourable member.
Miss Martel: Yes, we agreed to it, so let’s be quiet.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member, although she is not in her seat, has a good point.
Miss Martel: Neither is he.
The Second Deputy Chair: I agree, that is why we are trying to call the members to order a little bit. We have had unanimous consent to the sitting of the committee past midnight. Allow the member to continue and then we can possibly finish the bill.
Ms Bryden: As I say, subsection 4 1(5) of the bill -- I am not reading the amendment -- will strike out the word “April” in the second line and change it to “January.” The effect of that will be that the entire bill will be operative from 1 January 1990 and not from 31 March 1990 for some people and from 1 January 1990 for other people, particularly in view of the fact that the government itself passed an amendment making 1 January 1990 the operative date of the whole act.
Originally, the government had intended the operative date of the act to be 1 December 1989 for the people with the larger payrolls, so that if it could do it for one part of the act and for one section of the community, which felt it was being unfairly treated by starting the act on 1 December 1989, it should be able to do it also for the literally millions of people who will be affected if we do not amend section 41 by making that simple change in date.
Subsection 4 1(5) of the bill cites a number of sections of the Health Insurance Act, which is chapter 197 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario and which is referred to in section 40 but, also, the sections that are under subsection 41(5) include various amendments to the Health Insurance Act which would, in effect, make it legal presumably to collect premiums in the first three months of 1990.
If that amendment is changed by my amendment, changing April to January, it would not be legal to collect premiums from the people who make payments in December but for whom it is assumed, according to the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), that they have always paid in advance in the past and therefore they should be expected to pay in advance in the future.
This seems to me a completely new addition to the act that most people were not aware of. It has come out only in the last month that, the way the act is now worded, without that change people who pay premiums concluding in December this year are expected to pay for the first three months of 1990.
The minister has admitted this in her letters to subscribers. She minister has admitted it to the newspapers and she has admitted in the House that she expects people to pay three months’ premiums in 1990. If that continues, it will yield another $425 million from a lot of very poor people who are the pay-direct people, from a lot of employers who do pay their employees’ premiums and who will be out this amount of money for the first three months and yet will be paying the employer health levy.
It really is a very serious attack on people who are being asked to pay a tax that they did not anticipate at all, being asked to pay a hidden premium which will be paid in December but be applicable for the first three months. I think it is simply immoral for the government not to amend the bill as I am suggesting in my amendment to section 41 that would confirm that it is illegal to do that. The change that I propose would make it very clear that what the government is doing is an illegal act and an act that was not contemplated, at least it was not evident to people when they first saw the employer health levy.
As far as my second amendment is concerned, which comes first --
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s not get into the second one.
Ms Bryden: I just want to say if we pass the amendment to section 41, section 40 would not be needed because it would be illegal to collect premiums from people in December and if there has been an overpayment because of the many messages that came out from the ministry and the officials that indicated they had to pay, there are automatic provisions for refunding overpayment of taxes to people.
My second one may be ruled out of order on the grounds that under the standing orders -- I have forgotten now the number of the standing order that rules out bills that --
The Second Deputy Chair: Section 54.
Ms Bryden: It would not be necessary to rule ‘ out my second one because there would be automatic refund of overpaid taxes, which is provided for in all revenue bills. Therefore, I would be quite glad to withdraw my section 40 amendment if the section 41 one passes.
I do not think you can really call it a motion allocating government funds or affecting government spending, because in effect it is simply saying that Bill 47 is operative from 1 January 1990 for everybody and that by my amendment it would be illegal to continue to collect premiums. Therefore, I do not think it can be ruled out of order either. It is simply suggesting a change in date to clarify that the bill is a bill for replacing premiums and setting up an employer health levy as of 1 January 1990.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, please. I know we are all anxious to have a cup of tea, but if we could just persevere for a couple more minutes and be a little quieter.
Hon Mr Mancini: We cannot support the honourable member’s motion for many of the reasons I have been enunciating over the last number of months and weeks. We have been saying that OHIP premiums are in fact a very regressive way to raise funding.
Now, all of a sudden -- and the honourable member would not buy my argument previously -- but now, all of a sudden, when she wants to change the bill in a certain section, she says some people who cannot afford to pay premiums might be paying premiums. It is the same argument that we have been using for months as to why we must abolish premiums.
The other thing the honourable member must understand is that one system of payment ends 31 December and a new system of payment begins 1 January. To further complicate that the way the honourable member wishes to do, would make it very, very difficult to administer this bill and we cannot accept her amendment.
Mr Laughren: On a point of privilege or a point of order, Mr Chairman: I think when there was unanimous agreement that the House would sit beyond 12 o’clock, many of us felt that meant a minute or two or three or five. It is obvious that is not going to be the case and I think that sitting until 12 midnight on important legislation is bad enough as it is; but to be sitting now at a 12:15, heading for 12:30 and perhaps beyond, is absolutely ludicrous and we should pack it in for the evening.
The Second Deputy Chair: I acknowledge the member’s point of order. Embarrassingly enough, unanimous consent was sought by the Speaker --
Mr Laughren: But not to sit for ever.
The Second Deputy Chair: No, it was not; there was no time limit. I cannot make a ruling on what the Speaker’s decision was, but there was no time limit on it.
It would appear to me that I have to progress with the legislation unless you could give me some reasonable explanation why there should be a time limit. I am always open to suggestions.
Let’s just progress. The minister has responded. Is there any further discussion to the proposed amendment?
Ms Bryden: I have not read them yet. I wish to read them now.
The Second Deputy Chair: No, you read the amendment to section 41.
Ms Bryden: No, I have never read it. I just said I was going to change “April” to “January.” I have not read either of the amendments.
The Second Deputy Chair: You are absolutely right. You have not read it.
Ms Bryden: So I will now read them, I presume.
The Second Deputy Chair: Yes, I would like the honourable member to read her proposed amendment.
Ms Bryden: Do I have to read them in order?
The Second Deputy Chair: No, you see, that is the problem I have. We had agreed to section 41. If you go to section 40, then we have difficulties.
Ms Bryden: Okay. I will do section 41 first.
The Second Deputy Chair: Ms Bryden moves that subsection 4 1(5) of the bill be amended by striking out “April” in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof “January.”
The Second Deputy Chair: That amendment is lost; however, we still are dealing with section 41 and I now have a government amendment.
Mr Mancini moves that subsection 41(1) of the bill be amended by striking out “December 1989” and inserting in lieu thereof “January 1990.”
Ms Bryden: Again, the government’s amendment is an attempt to legalize its collection of premiums for the first three months of 1990. We could see this coming, because there was some question as to whether they were collecting this legally or not. The collection of premiums -- whether paid in December or not -- for the first three months will be legalized if the government’s amendment goes through.
Mrs Marland: Could you just advise me, since my amendment is also to subsection 41(1), do we deal with the government amendment first?
The Second Deputy Chair: No. I wanted clarification on that and it is really on the timeliness of the amendment. The next amendment was the government amendment, so yours was the third in progression on how the table has received the amendments. It was not on a priority-of-party basis. It was just a matter of timing of receipt.
Mrs Marland: I will wait to make comments
The Second Deputy Chair: Fine. The minister has moved an amendment to section 41.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that subsection 41(1) of the bill be amended by striking out “December 1989” in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof “April 1990.”
Mrs Marland: The member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney) reminds me it is the Liberal government that we are dealing with, unfortunately, but the fact is that the government, this Liberal government, has recognized its error and how unjust it is to have the bill effective on 1 December so it is already recognizing one month is wrong. What our amendment is doing is just helping the government a little by suggesting now that it has recognized that it should not be double billing for December, nor should it be double billing for January, February and March.
I just want to say that the employers’ objections to this double hit were most forcefully put to the committee by a Don Eastman, who is chairman of the economic policy committee of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. In his submission on 23 November 1989 -- and this comment has not been placed in this chamber -- Don Eastman said: .we feel we have been whacked across the forehead with a two-by-four and then jabbed with a needle just to make sure we got the point. The jab with the needle is particularly obnoxious.... Overlapping the OHIP premium and the payroll tax really does add insult to injury for the business community. We have been entertained by the mental gymnastics used by the government to explain, defend, rationalize the overlap, but the bottom line is that we are being asked to pay twice for the same bag of groceries. We believe that is wrong and are truly frustrated by the government’s insensitivity to date on this. issue.”
It is very obvious that the amendment I am placing deals with that one particular aspect, and I think too that I want to ask the minister one final question on this whole issue of what is going to happen to the people in Ontario between 1 January and 31 March.
According to something I read in the Globe and Mail, officials of the Ministry of Health have been saying that those who pay their own premiums, ranging from $89 to $178 for a three-month period, could lose their coverage if their final premiums are not paid. Then again, apparently, a couple of days later, ministry officials were moderating this warning. First they were saying that individuals who had not paid their premiums would not have coverage; then they were adding that the ministry would ask them to pay premium arrears only if they sought health care services.
Could we once and for all have an answer to this question: If the people of Ontario do not pay their premiums, is this Liberal government really saying they have to pay them only if they go to see the doctor or if they need to seek health care in this province? I would really like to be able to tell the people of Ontario what the answer is.
Hon Mr Mancini: That question has been answered numerous times by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and on numerous occasions by the Treasurer. One system of payment ends at the end of December, and another system of payment begins in January. We wish to eliminate OHIP premiums for all citizens in Ontario. We wish to ask all businesses to make a fair contribution to the cost of health care, noting that small business has special concerns and that is why they are being charged the half rate.
Mrs Marland: That is just great. What the Minister of Revenue has just said is that they want to eliminate premiums as of 1 January and they are replacing them with a tax that the employers will pay. We understand that perfectly. The question is, for those people who do not pay their OHIP premium for 1 January through to 31 March, will they be covered? If they do not pay it, will they be billed if they get sick?
It is not good enough for this Minister of Revenue, whose bill it is. to say the Minister of Health has answered this question. Even if she had, which the Minister of Health has not, may I ask him, as the minister who is imposing this legislation on everybody in Ontario, if I do not pay my OHIP premium for January, February and March, since the government is doing away with OHIP premiums, will my health insurance be covered? Will I be protected? It is a simple question.
Hon Mr Mancini: That question has been answered very clearly on numerous occasions.
Mrs Marland: I am sorry, Mr Chairman, but I think it is disgusting for the Minister of Revenue, whose very hill is before this committee now, to say that question has been answered, because the truth of the matter is that there is nowhere this minister can point to that shows where that question has been answered. It has not been answered. The people of Ontario have a right to know. It is this minister’s legislation that is duplicating the billing for those first three months.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member has moved an amendment. I think she has spoken to it. She is not speaking to it now. The amendment has been moved.
All those in favour of Mrs Marland’s amendment will please say aye.
All those opposed will please say nay.
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 41, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Ms Bryden moves that section 40 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(4a) The said act is amended by adding thereto the following section:
“(13) Every person who has paid a premium in respect of a period after the 31st day of December, 1989 is entitled to repayment of the premium.”
Ms Bryden: This is necessary because of the fact we did not amend section 41 in the way I suggested. Therefore, some sort of government action is required to compensate people who paid for December.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have to bring to the attention of the honourable member, as she indicated through our discussion of section 41, that the proposed amendment is out of order according to standing order 54. We cannot accept the proposed amendment.
Section 40 agreed to.
Mrs Cunningham: It is been a long evening and I have been waiting for a long time. I would like to make some general comments on the bill in summary, Mr Chairman, and I am looking for your direction as to what the appropriate time would be; there have been a couple of times, as we have gone through. I intend to make the comments anyway. I think this would be the appropriate time, if I may.
The Second Deputy Chair: We appreciate your advising the chair as to what you think should or should not be said. Unfortunately, this is not the appropriate time for general comments because the section says the short title of this act is the Employer Health Tax Act.
Mrs Cunningham: Perhaps you could advise me when it would be.
The Second Deputy Chair: Try.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to speak in general, and if I have to speak to the title, I will speak to the title and that is what I amgoing to do. We are convinced that this payroll tax is one that the public of Ontario is not in favour of. I say that with due respect --
The Second Deputy Chair: I have to call you to order. If you are speaking to the title, what is wrong with the title? I do not think your general concern about the general public payroll tax has to do with section 44.
Mrs Cunningham: They do not like the title.
That is what I am speaking to. They told us too, they do not like the tax, they do not like the title and they do not like the bill. So I am speaking in general to the title.
The Second Deputy Chair: I am afraid that you are putting the Chair in a very untenable position at this time.
Mrs Cunningham: Would you like to hear what the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says about the title of the bill?
The Second Deputy Chair: Order. This is section 42, and I want to assure the honourable member that I have had the opportunity of participating from time to time in what she is attempting to do in my past incarnation, and she is going to have some difficulty with me if she is going to try to ramble on in terms of section 42 and the title of the act.
Mrs Cunningham: Would you like to hear what the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says? They are talking about the payroll tax being a bad tax. It means higher costs, reduced competitiveness and reduced employment opportunities in Ontario. It will hamper and potentially harm the economy and have an adverse impact on the taxation equity. They do not like the title of the bill, they do not like the bill and they do not like the tax.
They went on to say that there is disagreement with the decision to eliminate OHIP premiums, and of course that is why we are all talking about this issue right now, but to take the approach in this bill at a time in Ontario when we should be looking at responsibility to the individuals, all of us in this House as well as individuals across this province, when it comes to understanding and making a commitment to our responsibility for the services that we received, is totally unnecessary and unwanted.
The real issue here is increased dollars for health care, an another issue is the delivery and the cost of delivery of the health care system in Ontario. At this point in time I think what we have is a new tax that is largely hidden from the general public and it will reduce the --
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, please.
The honourable member is not speaking to the section now. I have been listening very attentively’ and I think I have been very tolerant.
Mrs Cunningham: Thank you very much for the opportunity. I said almost everything I wanted to say. I can see I amnot going to win this one, but l just wanted to put on the record how the public feels about this unnecessary piece of legislation.
Section 42 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Shall the bill be reported as amended? Agreed? Agreed.
The Second Deputy Chair: You had the opportunity. You are putting the Chair in an embarrassing position. I asked whether the section should carry. It carried. I asked, “Shall the bill be reported?” I heard, “Agreed.”
The Second Deputy Chair: I apologize. If the Chair did not speak loudly enough then it was my error, and I would hope that all honourable members would respect me to ask again if the bill should be reported. All those in favour of the bill reporting please say “aye.”
All those against please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole reported one bill with certain amendments.
The House adjourned at 0034.