The House met at 1333.
The Speaker: I would like to inform all members that we have a new group of legislative pages here to serve in the spring session of the 34th Parliament. They are:
Danielle Appleton, Perth; Jennifer Bell, Cambridge; Shannon Bourassa, Carleton East; Jamie Brown, York North; Neil Buie, Algoma-Manitoulin; Stephen Cho, Sault Ste Marie; Celine Cooper, Brantford; Deanna Cosgrove, Lake Nipigon; Rion Cureatz, Durham East; Brian Fleming, Etobicoke-Humber; Matthew Fox, High Park-Swansea; Jennifer Gray, Don Mills; Megan Harrison, Guelph; Jeffrey Heaton, Prince Edward-Lennox; David Macdonald, Windsor-Riverside; Becky NeaL Oxford; Jennifer Odle, Scarborough West; Bobbi-Jo Osmond, Mississauga East; Samuel Rogers, Ottawa-Rideau; Deanah Shelly, Prescott and Russell; Paul St Marseille, Sudbury; Tim Stone, Beaches-Woodbine; Nawaz Tahir, London North; Jodi Van Raay, Chatham-Kent.
Please join me in welcoming our new pages.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
The Speaker: On Tuesday 10 April 1990, the government House leader, on the calling of motions during routine proceedings, rose to move the following motion: “That this House do pass to the orders of the day.” Immediately following this, arguments were heard by the Deputy Speaker from the House leaders of the two opposition parties as to the procedural acceptability of this motion.
The Deputy Speaker, after hearing all arguments, undertook to review the matter and report back to the House. The following day, all three House leaders, arguing that this was a totally new procedure in the Ontario Legislature, gave further arguments for and against the appropriateness of this motion. The Deputy Speaker then again reserved his decision. I have had a chance to review all of the comments made and I thank the honourable members for bringing this to the attention of the House. I would also like to thank the Deputy Speaker, who waited until I had returned to the House in order that I could also contribute to this decision.
In considering the arguments before me, I have arrived at the conclusion that this matter must meet three criteria. The first one is whether or not there is an applicable standing order in this case. After studying the matter, I have determined that there is not. Therefore, standing order 1(b) can be applied. The second consideration is whether this is a legitimate procedural motion in parliamentary tradition. In trying to arrive at a conclusion on this point, I have studied the application of this rule in Ottawa at the House of Commons and at Westminster. The motion is in great use in Ottawa. Its standing order is as follows:
“Standing order 59. A motion for reading the orders of the day shall have preference to any motion before the House.
That rule has always been in Ottawa’s standing orders and it is routinely used for the purpose of stopping a proceeding and moving on to the orders of the day. The following quote from Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, second edition, 1927, at page 70, probably gives the best description of this rule:
“235. This motion cannot be debated nor amended. If it is resolved in the affirmative, the original motion is superseded and the House must proceed at once to the orders of the day.
“236. The motion for reading the orders of the day is more particularly one that is taken up on routine proceedings.”
At Westminster, the application of this motion has nearly disappeared because a general time limit has now been set on the whole of routine proceedings before orders of the day. In conclusion of this criterion and more precisely on the application of the rule as we know it in Ottawa, I am satisfied that I can conclude that this is a legitimate procedural motion in use today.
The third criterion is whether this legitimate procedural motion can be applied to our procedures at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Again, during my research on this ruling and also during the arguments by the honourable members, it has come to my attention that this standing order in effect did exist at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for over 100 years in exactly the same terms. For example, standing order 29 in 1970 read as follows:
“A motion for reading the orders of the day shall have preference of any motion before the House.”
This rule was removed from the standing orders in 1978. In researching why it had been abandoned, I have satisfied myself that it was mainly because it had never been used. I must conclude, therefore, that this legitimate procedural motion did and can fit into the context of the Legislative Assembly’s procedures. In conclusion, therefore, I must find that the motion put by the honourable House leader the other day was in order but, because it has never been used before in this place, I would like to set out for honourable members an exact description of what this motion is, who can move it and at what time.
The motion that this House proceed to the orders of the day is a tactical motion. It is a procedural motion. It is a dilatory motion. It is not a routine motion. It falls into the same category as motions to adjourn the House and to adjourn the debate. These dilatory motions have characteristics. They can be moved at any time by any member who legitimately has the floor. As an example of how this works, members will have noticed that the other day the member for Simcoe West moved the adjournment of the House after being recognized in the period reserved for the introduction of bills. That was perfectly in order. The same is true for the motion to proceed to orders of the day. Furthermore, because our standing orders already put a restriction on a dilatory motion, the one to adjourn the debate and the other to adjourn the House, in saying that they cannot be moved until after the end of question period, the same rule should apply to the motion “to proceed to the orders of the day.” This motion therefore is in order when moved after question period but before reaching orders of the day. The question is put immediately by the Speaker. The bells, if necessary, will ring for a maximum of 30 minutes, and a head count of members present will then take place. It should also be noted that the vote on this type of motion cannot be deferred.
In summary, therefore, the motion as moved by the honourable House leader is in order. It can be moved by any member of the House who legitimately has the floor. It is non-debatable and non-amendable, and the effect of it being carried results in the calling of the orders of the day at the end of the proceeding which was in process when it was moved. I wish to thank all honourable members who have contributed to this debate.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am certainly glad to see you back, Mr Speaker. It has been an interesting couple of weeks in your absence.
On another point of order: There is one other ruling that was made last week which, combined with the ruling that you have just made today -- the ruling that you have just read out I think goes partway to satisfying some of the concerns of the opposition party -- means there are still ramifications that I think we have to consider.
The other ruling was made last Thursday by the Deputy Speaker, and it was a concern that I think both the House leaders on the opposition side have expressed. The government moved a motion to change the hours of the Legislature. The impact of that is basically to say that any section of our standing orders can be altered by the majority in this place.
We have on this side, and I think I speak on behalf of the House leader for the third party as well, written you a letter today, which you will be receiving. We are simply asking that you, Mr Speaker, along with your Deputy Speaker, review the ruling that was made last Thursday. Under the new rules, as you know, we cannot challenge a decision of a Speaker, and we respect that rule. We are not challenging the decision, but we feel that it would be appropriate, since no one in this place is infallible, for you, along with the Deputy Speaker and the other officers of the House, to review that decision so that we are not operating under any precedent that we think very much restricts the protection of the minority.
The standing orders were developed to protect the government as well as the opposition, and you are the supreme court in this place; you interpret the standing orders, which are our constitution and our charter of rights. We cannot challenge your decision, but we ask that you review it to make sure that our rights are being protected as a minority and that we are not giving the power to the government to do whatever it wants to do simply by a majority motion, as seems to be the case in the interpretation of the Deputy Speaker last week.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, on the same point if I might for a moment: I have co-authored the letter, which you will be receiving shortly, with the House leader for the official opposition.
The point I would like to press in the ruling that the Deputy Speaker made last Thursday is that the first part of the motion would appear to be quite proper, but the last couple of lines in the motion say that the motion shall take precedence over and do away with all other standing orders.
I think the wording at the end of that motion has some very dangerous consequences indeed if in fact the government can by a routine motion at any time do away with the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly under the guise of hooking it into a routine motion to extend the hours of sittings.
I do not even know what we are doing here and I do not know why we spent four years all agreeing on the new standing orders that we agreed to last October. I think this has serious ramifications for the minority in this Legislature. If that ruling is to stand, that the government under guise of a routine motion to extend the sitting hours can simply do away with the standing orders, I do not even know what we are doing here.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I thank you for the timely ruling on the earlier issue. Relative to the motion that I introduced last Thursday, I would just point out that there is a fundamental difference involved in moving a motion of that sort under routine proceedings, a motion that is fully debatable -- and believe me, we all know that it is a fully debatable motion at this point.
I just want to stress to you the difference in utilizing routine motions for a motion of that nature and the utilization, for instance, of standing order 9(c), which is a non-debatable motion that can be blocked, or of the rules that relate to the last eight sessional days where there is a limit put on debate.
I maintain that the standing orders as they apply to the last eight sessional days specifically lay out a limit and are there to serve a specific purpose, as is 9(c), and that the majority, the will of this House, can be utilized as it is from time to time on other occasions, not always by unanimous consent; that a motion that is again relating only to the operation of this House, which is basically incidental to the business of this House, is appropriately put under routine motions and can appropriately be dealt with by the House.
The Speaker: I have listened carefully to the member for Windsor-Riverside on his point of order and also to the member for Parry Sound and the government House leader. I have received the letter referred to and I will certainly respond to the letter in due course.
FUNDING OF INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
Miss Martel: Last week, the Premier responded to questions regarding the bid of the city of Toronto for the 1996 Olympics. He confirmed that debts from the games would be underwritten by the province. He stated that of course controls would be put in place to ensure accountability and proper spending.
The commitment made to the city of Toronto is far different than that which was given to the city of Sudbury. In July 1988, Sudbury hosted the World Junior Track and Field Championships. At that time, the province was good enough to provide over $1 million, most of which went to reconstruction of the stadium.
When the championships ended, a debt of some $1.1 million remained. The city approached the province for help and was told none would be given as Ontario had already been the largest contributor from any level of government.
The city of Sudbury went on to absorb the debt, providing less than what was actually owed to the creditors involved. The creditors accepted the arrangements, as getting some money back was better than nothing at all.
This haphazard way of funding international events is not fair or acceptable. If the government is going to give money to international events, then a strict policy on levels of funding and accountability is necessary. Otherwise, communities like Sudbury are going to be justifiably angry that they receive the short end of the stick.
Mr Eves: I would like to read into the record a letter from a constituent, Shirley Brander of Mattawa, to the Minister of Health:
“On October 5, 1989, I entered St Joseph’s Hospital, North Bay, to have cancer surgery, a mastectomy of the left breast. Even though it was a radical mastectomy they didn’t remove all my cancer and I needed to have radiation treatments. I was sent to Princess Margaret Cancer Clinic at Civic Hospital for further assessment and was told I would need to go out of town for treatment and that Princess Margaret [in Toronto] would be out of the question for me because of the backlog of people needing treatment. It was suggested that perhaps I could go to London, Ontario, or Ottawa. I had family in Kitchener and Toronto, so London would have been all right, and if Ottawa, I could at least come home once in a while.
“However, when I was contacted, they told me I was being sent to Thunder Bay, some 1,200 kilometres from home.
“There are some things you need to know about those who have cancer. It is a frightening disease, and to those who have it, it is difficult to cope with. You suddenly face your own mortality. You need a support system as never before and being sent so many miles from home is very, very difficult.
“My question then goes to the Minister of Health, Elinor Caplan, and the Premier of our province, Mr Peterson. What is being done so that those who must undergo radiation treatment can be treated closer to home?
“There were many people who were very sick and all alone without any family support in Thunder Bay at a time when they were facing the unknown. It isn’t until you are in that position that you realize something must be done. I speak to our Ontario government on behalf of all cancer patients. Please, please do something about more treatment centres closer to home.”
BARRIE REGIONAL AIRPORT
Mr Owen: Over 20 years ago when I was a member of Barrie city council, an effort was made to locate a regional airport in Oro township, just north of Barrie. Finally that dream is becoming a reality. This week I will be presenting, on behalf of our Minister of Transportation, a cheque in the amount of $2.33 million towards this airport.
With a population now over 100,000 and growing rapidly, the Barrie area is by far the most populated in Ontario not served by a local public airport. Clearly, Barrie can make excellent use of such a facility to continue the healthy economic growth of the Lake Simcoe-Huronia region.
I am pleased that Oro township and the city of Orillia will also be partners in the development and operation of the airport. Their initiatives in that regard demonstrate a commitment to continued economic prosperity.
The plan is to facilitate a 5,000-foot primary runway. The present short-field, privately owned airport site at the northern outskirts of Barrie is under increasing land use pressures and cannot be expanded. In the past few years, three small airports between Barrie and Toronto have been closed, and this new airport should help answer the void left by those closures.
Many people have been involved in bringing about this municipal airport, but I must single out the chairman of the advisory committee, Rob Warman, for his perseverance over many years. To Rob and the other members of his committee and the municipalities involved, I offer my congratulations for a job well done.
SEATON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Mr D. S. Cooke: The announcement of the creation of a 90,000-person community in North Pickering to be known as Seaton gives us all cause for alarm. The Minister of Housing’s announcement refers to Seaton as “a community that will be a working model for the coming century.” This community envisioned by the Liberal government, however, is more like the false dreams of the 1950s rather than the vision of the 21st century.
The community will be using land owned by the province to create a community which will have about 90 per cent home ownership. New Democrats are not against home ownership, but to use an irreplaceable government resource on the outskirts of Metropolitan Toronto and allow only a minimal amount of permanently affordable housing to be built is an absolute shame.
The minister commented in the Toronto Star on 30 March that 10 per cent, or maybe a little less, of the Seaton lands will be used for non-profit or co-operative housing. Since there are no plans for private rental housing to be built upon this land, this leaves 90 per cent or more of the housing to be home ownership. The 90-10 balance contrasts with the current realities. The 1981 census data show that in Metropolitan Toronto, 43.5 per cent of the households are tenants, and in the entire province, 36.7 per cent of the population are tenants.
We are concerned that this provincial resource is not going to be used to provide affordable housing for the people of this province. The description of what is affordable would mean that on the Seaton lands a family would have to have an income of $55,800 to access affordable housing. That is a shame.
Mr Sterling: Today citizens of this province will begin receiving registration kits for the new individual health cards. We have long supported this new system and are pleased to see that it will soon be in place. I am, however, concerned that this new card will threaten some rights of individual privacy.
The minister has stated that the Ministry of Health has always accepted its responsibility to safeguard the confidentiality of personal health information. I do not feel that the word of the Minister of Health and the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act will guarantee confidentiality. While the privacy act states that medical information recorded by the provincial government or its agencies can be used only for the purpose for which it was intended, this act does not apply to the private sector. As a result, it is possible that these numbers may be used in the near future by banks, credit bureaus, insurance companies and stores.
There are currently no rules and regulations that say these new numbers can be used only for OHIP and nothing else. The federal social insurance number was introduced in 1964 for a very limited purpose but has been widely utilized.
I would like to advocate on behalf of my party that controls be placed on the use of this number. Legislation should be introduced that will protect the people of this province and ensure that individuals are not denied non-health-related services if they do not provide their health number.
FLAME OF HOPE
Mr Reycraft: I was shocked recently to hear that the Flame of Hope at Sir Frederick Banting Square in London was damaged by vandals and, as a result, snuffed out.
For members not familiar with the Flame of Hope, it was lit by the Queen Mother last summer at the head office of the Canadian Diabetes Association at Banting Square in London. The intent was that the flame would not be put out until a cure for diabetes was found. Many people in my riding share a particular attachment to the fight to find that cure. Dr Banting did much of his research leading to the discovery of insulin in the London area. I am proud of that historical connection.
The reason I bring this matter to the attention of the assembly is simple. I feel we all need to be reminded why the flame was lit: to offer hope to the thousands of Canadian diabetics. At this time, I think it is appropriate to reiterate the message of the flame, that insulin is not a cure for diabetes. A cure must be found.
I am pleased to inform the assembly that the Queen Mother will again be lending her support to this cause. Jane Cunningham, the executive director of the association, has a message written by the Queen Mother to be read at the relighting ceremony. That event will take place in the next four to five weeks.
I am sure other members of the assembly join me in wishing the association well. I know we all look forward to the day when the flame will be extinguished for the right reason.
Mr Kormos: Elsa D’Innocenzo from Westwood Crescent in Welland is grateful that the surgery on her son, Donnie, at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children was successful earlier this year. While she was there, though, she had an opportunity to share experiences and empathize with other parents of other sick kids. She talked to the parents of young Andrew. These people told her that the second surgery was postponed five minutes after it had been scheduled. When the parents asked why, a very frustrated doctor said there was a child in intensive care who had not died and therefore there was no bed for Andrew.
She asked, in the city where a $500-million-plus stadium sits only a few blocks from that very same hospital, how can it be that a child in intensive care has to die before there is a bed available for another kid? She asked, why is it that in an affluent country like Canada, a woman travels to Toronto for surgery only to be told that it will have to be rescheduled because of lack of beds? She asked, why is it that in an affluent country like Canada, a 78-year-old man has to spend a day and night and day and night on a stretcher, on a gurney in an emergency department, because no bed is available?
She asked, why is it that in affluent country like Canada she and her son had to wait seven hours for him to be admitted -- sitting, waiting to be admitted -- because there was no bed available? She asked, does not anyone care about what is happening? She says, do not tell us that committees are looking into it. She tells us Andrew died. Her son, Donnie, lived, and she is grateful for that. Andrew died. How many needless deaths like his will occur while the committee studies the situation? Those questions had better be answered.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE SERVICE
Mr McCague: Members of this House are well aware it is the policy of this government that municipalities throughout the province shall be responsible for the greatest financial burden the province can get away with.
Members of this House are aware of the high cost of providing emergency services to residents of the province, where the municipality also pays. The cost to a municipality of providing a 911 service can reach millions of dollars. It provides instantaneous contact with police, fire and ambulance services. The moments saved by a 911 line can often be the difference between life and death.
Northumberland county has recently passed a resolution petitioning the Premier and the Solicitor General for financial assistance for 911 services. The resolution reads in part, “That whereas 911 emergency service is becoming universal in other parts of Canada and the USA, and this province has relied on municipalities to finance it, be it resolved that this council petition the Premier to set up a 911 emergency phone service throughout the province.”
This resolution is supported by a number of municipalities, including Simcoe county in my riding. I urge the government to address this very important issue.
Mr Adams: In Peterborough this past year, the Four Counties Drug Awareness Committee, FourCast Inc and the Addiction Research Foundation used Drug Awareness Week to bring together the growing coalition of organizations concerned about drug abuse in our society.
These included those working to help victims of drug abuse such as the Salvation Army, Alcoholics Anonymous, Curve Lake Community Centre, Cavan United Church, Ozanam House and the John Howard Society, and those working to prevent drug abuse such as the two school boards, Peterborough Against Impaired Driving, or PAID, Students Against Drunk Driving, or SADD, Trinity College, the Peterborough Sales and Ad Club, the lung association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, local media, the Lions, the Kiwanians, the Peterborough Chiropractic Group, the public library, the chamber of commerce, Trent University, Sir Sandford Fleming College and 1 Nautilus.
Of course, many of these groups, like the police and the Brock Street Mission, try to both prevent drug abuse and help those afflicted. Peterborough is weaving a support net for those with drug problems and a safety net to protect itself from problems of drug abuse. I congratulate all those who are already part of those nets and encourage others to join. Peterborough is a community united against drugs.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
COMMUNITY JUSTICE WEEK
Hon Mr Scott: I would like to inform the members of the Legislature that 16 April marks the beginning of Community Justice Week in Ontario, an annual event reaching out into local communities across the province. Sponsored by the Ontario ministries of the Attorney General, Correctional Services and the Solicitor General, and working with dozens of communities across Ontario, Community Justice Week helps to foster community understanding and involvement in the system.
We hope it will give people a more realistic appreciation of how the system actually works. The theme this year, “Justice: We all make it happen,” is intended to bring to the people of Ontario a sense of ownership and participation in the justice process.
Community Justice Week is being celebrated in various ways from Hawkesbury to Fort Frances. Crown attorneys, the police, correctional staff and others whose work contributes to the process will be meeting with groups across the province to provide information and encourage community co-operation and involvement in the administration of justice.
In addition, Community Justice Week provides legal professionals and the general public with an informal setting in which to exchange ideas about the process. For example, the Canadian Bar Association-Ontario has organized a number of activities that are being held today. This year the Ministry of the Attorney General is providing support for a number of those activities, such as the mock trial competitions in Ontario high schools and the association’s province-wide essay contest, which is open to high school students in grades 10 through 13.
Highlighting this year’s activities are a number of interactive theatre presentations taking place in Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa, Sudbury and Thunder Bay. Through joint sponsorship from the ministries of the Attorney General, Correctional Services and the Solicitor General, Trinity Theatre Toronto will be providing two-day bilingual workshops and presentations to students and members of the public in each of the five centres.
Mr Reville: Wait till you get to the colouring book.
Hon Mr Scott: My friend laughs at the colouring book, but it is serious.
By focusing on current justice-related issues such as drug abuse, drinking and driving, and family violence, we hope to strengthen contact and dialogue between the ministries and students who are not touched directly by justice issues.
Community Justice Week also provides communities with the opportunity to become more familiar with public legal information materials available from the various ministries.
To assist children with the criminal court process, particularly those children who are required to be in court either as victims or witnesses, my ministry has introduced a new publication suitable for children called What’s My Job in Court?
Hon Mr Scott: The publication is intended to familiarize children in an educational and appealing way with the concepts, people, vocabulary and events that are part of the court process. The honourable members may think it is silly, but that may be because they have never experienced the difficulties of dealing with young children in a setting that is often difficult for them to absorb.
In keeping with the spirit of Community Justice Week, I encourage the members to participate in events held in their own communities. We need everyone’s co-operation, even the co-operation of the honourable members opposite who laugh, to improve the justice system of Ontario.
CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
Hon Mrs Wilson: Five years ago today, section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect. The principle upheld by section 15 was clear: equality for everyone before and under the law.
Many groups were eager and ready to begin exploring the section’s effects on equality. Certainly women’s groups were among the most determined and prepared, having long researched and formed their plans for building a country where equality would be a living ideal.
In 1985 the province of Ontario made $1 million available to the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund to support its charter equality work. LEAF has made an extraordinary contribution to the development of women’s equality rights in Canada through its litigation efforts.
As Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues in Ontario, I want to acknowledge the commitment, determination and expertise of LEAF and other equality-seeking groups and to encourage them in their efforts.
Please join me in marking this fifth anniversary of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is a significant anniversary in the history of women’s equality.
COMMUNITY JUSTICE WEEK
Mr Kormos: The irony of the Attorney General’s suggesting that Community Justice Week in Ontario is going to give people a realistic appreciation of how the system actually works is sad, because the fact is that the system is not working.
The Attorney General cannot tell it to correctional officers who work in overcrowded facilities and unsafe work conditions and who have not been accorded any relief by this government. Indeed there are demands for safe, healthier working conditions -- safer for themselves as correctional officers and safer for those inmates who are there, including a whole bunch of psychiatric patients whom this government cannot accommodate in hospitals because the hospital facilities are not available, psychiatric patients detoured into correctional facilities where there is no treatment taking place and where sad situations are being aggravated.
The minister has a lot of nerve to talk about Community Justice Week when police forces across Ontario are underfunded, when municipal taxpayers -- the cupboard is bare; there is simply no more money in municipal coffers to finance police forces that want to do their job but are being restrained and prevented by this government from adequately enforcing the law, from adequately apprehending criminals and from adequately prosecuting them. Why? Because this government refuses to properly fund policing here in Ontario.
This government brags about its war on drugs, yet at the same time this government liberalizes and relaxes guidelines for alcohol advertising. Alcohol is still the number one abusive substance of choice, the number one killer, the number one destroyer of families and the number one destroyer of young lives. This government talks about a war on drugs, yet it will not fund police forces that want to target drug trafficking in their respective communities. There may well be a war on drugs in Ontario. The question is, what side is this government on?
This government has a lot of nerve to talk about Community Justice Week when there are hundreds and probably thousands of victims of training schools in this province right now in 1990 who are bearing the scars -- nay, the open wounds -- of the almost unspeakable violence imposed upon them by their caretakers throughout the 1950s, the 1960s and probably into the 1970s. This government refuses to accept its responsibility to those people, now adults, who were victims and victimized as young children, to the children of today and to others who are in custodial situations, be they young, be they old, be they seniors in unlicensed nursing homes or be they youngsters in similar training schools where there has been contracting out. This government refuses to accept its responsibility to conduct a public inquiry, as it is capable of, as it ought to, as it is obligated to, to address the issue of that violence against those young people.
They have a lot of nerve talking about Community Justice Week in this province. There is no justice in this Legislature. How can people outside this House in the province of Ontario expect any from this government either?
Mr Reville: Further to the Attorney General’s announcement of the gala Community Justice Week in Ontario, I show him yet again a document called You’ve Got A Friend, written by the late Father Sean O’Sullivan, which says that there are a million Ontario citizens who are in need of advocacy service, whether they are in institutions or in the community. He further says the lack of co-ordinated advocacy services accessible to all vulnerable adults requiring assistance is a profound injustice.
What has this Attorney General done with this report? Bubkes, nada, niente, nothing, not a thing. He should get on with it.
CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
Mr R. F. Johnston: The second meaningful statement by a minister today was to set the fifth anniversary of section 15 of the charter. I suppose we will do it for the sixth, the seventh and the eighth; any excuse to make a statement that makes it sound like this government is proactive around women’s issues instead of doing something.
Why do we not see some more action on battered women, child care, employment equity targets? Why not talk about the hundreds of thousands of women who are going to be left out of the pay equity programs? Why does the government not talk a little bit about why it has not brought in the employment standards changes yet for parental leave? Why not talk about all the things this government has not done to reinforce women s equality in the workplace, rather than another vacuous announcement of one page to be able to say to the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund that it is doing a good job? Yes, they are, in spite of this government.
COMMUNITY JUSTICE WEEK
Mr Sterling: I want to say to the Attorney General that we are very supportive of Community Justice Week. I believe bringing together the various disciplines involved in the justice system is extremely important, both in a formal and an informal sense.
I also want to say that when I introduced this concept in 1982, my remarks took up about half the time the Attorney General did in announcing it this week. As you remember, Mr Speaker, 1982 was not an election year, and therefore we could expect perhaps a longer embellishment of what Community Justice Week is all about.
I do want to say, though, that probably the most important part of Community Justice Week is that each community and each region that gets together to talk about its concerns gives professionals and various disciplines an opportunity to exchange information and probably does a great deal in ironing out the very difficult problems they face from year to year.
It also gives an opportunity for communities to congratulate the people, the men and women who devote their lives to a very difficult part of our system, and that is the justice system. So, on behalf of our party, I would like to thank the people at this time for their contribution, those people who are professionally involved and those people who volunteer many hours, as is the case in the correctional services area, to the justice system. We certainly appreciate their efforts.
Mr Brandt: I would like to compliment the member for Carleton on having introduced the concept of Community Justice Week some years ago, a concept which, in the words of the Attorney General, indicates very clearly that from little acorns big trees sometimes grow. The length of the address by the Attorney General shows how quickly some of these things can grow in terms of the length of the statement.
I would like to do something unusual with respect to my response, in that I am going to take the high road --
Interjection: Don’t do it, Andy. You’ll be sorry.
Mr Brandt: This is the middle of April; I thought I should do that.
On a serious note, I want to say to the Attorney General that certainly the concept is an important one because no society anywhere can operate without the support and the confidence that we all must have in the justice system. It is a fundamental right which does in fact, as we all know, protect the rights of each and every citizen of this province and of this country. It is important that our communities understand the workings of the justice system, that they understand some of those mysteries the Attorney General develops with respect to his response to how the justice system, matters like inquiries and all of those things should be operated, how they come to pass in our communities and how they are made to work in the best interests of the people of this province.
Let me say to the Attorney General that we will certainly give our support to the concept and encourage our communities to look at the inner workings of the system to make sure that we can improve upon it in the days and the weeks ahead.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr B. Rae: I have a question of the Premier. Last week the government introduced a motion which would have the effect of allowing the majority of the House, the Liberal Party on its own, without the agreement of the other two parties, to suspend the standing orders of this House, which is the way in which we have governed ourselves, the way in which a little bit of democracy is preserved in Ontario.
I want to ask the Premier why he would think his party, as a majority party, has the right to suspend the standing orders of this House and to simply do his will. Does he not appreciate the terrible precedent this kind of motion sets for this House when it comes to governing the relationship between a majority and a minority? Does he not understand how dangerous that kind of precedent is?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the House leader can explain the democratic aspects of this.
Hon Mr Ward: One, I would point out to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that the motion that was introduced was a motion that was incidental to the operation of the House and as such is a routine motion as prescribed by the standing orders. I would refer him to those standing orders and he can satisfy himself of that fact.
Two, it is not uncommon for motions to be put regarding the business of this House and the rearrangement of the time. They have been put in the past, not always by unanimous consent. I would say to you, Mr Speaker, that the intent of the motion was just to provide additional time for a member of his party, the member for Welland-Thorold, to make his point. If the Leader of the Opposition prefers, I can assure him here and now that we will concede unanimous consent to extend the time so that the member for Welland-Thorold can be heard just a little longer.
Mr B. Rae: I am sorry the Premier chose not to answer, because the Premier, along with a number of his colleagues, spent some time in opposition, a position which the government House leader has not been in.
I want to say to the government House leader that in my experience a governing party which thinks it can suspend the rules of this place with a majority against the will of the two opposition parties is a government that is so enmeshed in its own arrogance that it knows nothing of the basic rules of democracy. That is the kind of government we have today.
What kind of marching orders is the government House leader getting from the insurance companies or from anywhere else that make him think he can simply ride roughshod over the rules of this House, over the standing orders and over the basic principle that minorities have some rights around here as well?
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated when I introduced government notice of motion 30, this House has had ample opportunity to debate a very important piece of legislation that is in front of it. Some 26 members have spoken to this issue, consuming some 107 hours of House time. Over the course of the past three weeks no other member of this Legislature has been able to participate in the debate, and I would say, sir, that if there are any lessons in arrogance to be taught around here, they can be taught --
The Speaker: Order, order.
Mr B. Rae: The fact remains that this government has decided to bring in a motion which suspends the rules. It says specifically that, “this motion applies notwithstanding any standing order.” This House spent four years in minority and in majority parliaments working out a way of living and a way of operating this place. Those are the standing orders that are supposed to apply.
My simple question to the minister is, where does he think he has the authority under the standing orders to put forward a resolution which calls for the suspension or the end of those standing orders? Does the minister not realize the terrible precedent he is setting, which means the majority can decide at any time that one clause or another clause or one part of the rules of this place can simply be suspended because it is not convenient to the government of the day? Does he not know how terrible a precedent that is?
Hon Mr Ward: I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that I did consult with my colleagues who spent some time in opposition over the use of filibuster. They all assured me they only used it responsibly and I take those assurances strictly to heart.
Having said that, I want to speak specifically to the routine motion that was introduced. Frankly, it suspends standing order 9(a), which sets out the regular hours, and it suspends standing order 33. That is not uncommon. Today, under routine proceedings, we will suspend standing orders 8(a) and 94(b) to accommodate private members’ business. It happens from day to day over issues that are incidental to the operation of this House. Frankly, we have an obligation as elected members of this assembly, here to do a job, here to see that the issues of the day are dealt with in an expeditious, reasonable fashion and we intend to do that.
The Speaker: Perhaps this would be a good time to remind all members of standing order 20(b).
The Speaker: Order.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr B. Rae: My second question is to the Premier as well.
The Premier is now on record as saying, with respect to Temagami, that the idea of any environmental assessment would be, and I am quoting him, “redundant, overlapping, a conflict of jurisdiction and a waste of time.”
I wonder why the Premier would be making that kind of statement when he must know there are many independent foresters -- I would refer him, for example, to Professor Benson and his critique of the Temagami and Latchford interim plans -- who talk about the fact that the allowable cut calculation is too high. Dr. Benson talks about problems with regeneration, problems with the sustainable levels, problems with clear-cuts, problems with the old growth, problems with the skyline reserve. He drives a truck through the plan which the Premier has put forward, saying how inadequate it is for the protection of the environment.
Why would the Premier have gone on record as saying there will be no environmental assessment and that in fact it is simply a waste of time? Why would he make such a bizarre comment when there has been so much justified criticism of his plan?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister can help out my friend about what is going on in Temagami.
Hon Mrs McLeod: The honourable member raises, in particular, a number of concerns that Dr Benson has addressed in one of his reports on the Temagami area. I would certainly recognize that those are broad concerns about the way in which forest management and timber management are carried out in Ontario and that those concerns are exactly the kinds of concerns which are being examined in a very thorough way in a class environmental assessment currently ongoing.
It is, as I think all members of this House know, the first environmental assessment of its kind to be undertaken in the country. We believe it is appropriate, since as a ministry we have voluntarily entered into this class environmental assessment, that we do answer those kinds of questions and respond in our timber management plans to those kinds of concerns. That is an issue which we have also looked at in the interim in looking at the Temagami management plans, which I would remind the House are interim plans being brought forward to cabinet and which do in fact address in some detail the concerns that Dr Benson has raised in a more general way.
Mr B. Rae: What is the minister going to do, have interim logging and if the environmental assessment that takes place in Thunder Bay says she cannot do it she is going to put the trees back up? The minister does not make any sense.
The minister’s own ministry has produced a leaflet called Timber Management Planning -- Getting Involved Can Make a Difference. On page 7 there is a statement on environmental assessment. I want to read what the minister’s own public relations department says: “If significant issues still exist, Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act provides for further review. The plan or parts of it may be referred to the Ministry of the Environment for an individual environmental assessment.”
There is no other area in the province where environmental concerns have been more clearly raised than in Temagami. I want to ask the minister this question: If these words in her public relations campaign mean anything at all, why would they not apply to Temagami?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I trust the honourable member is not suggesting that concerns about responsible forest management can be considered only in the context of Temagami. I would certainly not feel as though I was taking my responsibility seriously if I were not concerned about these same issues of responsible management across the province. I certainly recognize that there have to be interim timber management plans across the province while the class environmental assessment is carried out.
There are tremendous numbers of jobs and people employed as a result of our forest products industries. We cannot bring all of those to a halt while we carry out what is a very important environmental assessment on forest management in Ontario. But certainly we have a responsibility in the interim period to be addressing the same kinds of concerns that are being raised in that class environmental assessment and to ensure that we are carrying out the most careful kind of timber management in that interim period. In the Temagami area specifically, which has been a focus of public concern, we have taken extraordinary steps, both in our management and in review by the Temagami Advisory Council.
Mr B. Rae: The minister’s statements are simply self-serving, as one would expect from the minister. She is expressing the view of the ministry in terms of the position that it has taken for a very long time.
The purpose of an environmental assessment is to get an independent assessment. When you look, for example, at what Dr Benson has said, it is not a general review of the ministry’s practices. It is a very specific review of what is going on in that particular forest saying that there are particular interests that have to be protected, and they are not protected in this plan.
I want to ask the minister again, if the environmental assessment laws mean anything at all, how can she allow the Premier to make the kind of statement where he says that hearings on Temagami would be -- and I am quoting his words -- “redundant, overlapping, a conflict of jurisdiction and a waste of time”? If the environmental assessment laws do not apply to a case like Temagami, exactly where do they apply on an individual plan to cut?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Before responding specifically to the questions, I really must take some exception to the suggestion that the responses of a minister are self-serving. I am in politics to serve the interests of the people of Ontario. I can assure the member that my sole interest in this particular issue, as in any others, is to find the kind of balance that best serves those interests of the people of Ontario, considering all of the different people who have a concern with the Temagami forest, as with other forest management issues across the province.
Specifically in the Temagami area, I would stress again that what are being brought forward to cabinet for its consideration are interim two-year plans, very carefully addressing the kinds of concerns which have been raised by many different people concerned about the Temagami forest area. These have been reviewed -- and this is an exceptional process -- by the Temagami Advisory Council not once, but twice.
The Temagami Advisory Council in carrying out a second review following a full public consultation process at my request, seeking to be a truly independent body, chose to employ two independent foresters to assist it in carrying out the review of those plans. I think that a careful analysis of the plans would indicate that there has been careful management.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Premier. The Premier will be aware that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario very clearly put forth its position that it is extremely unhappy with the government, which has in fact realized revenue increases of some 11 per cent over the course of the past few years, while transferring only some four per cent to municipalities. At the selfsame time, the Premier has been passing on new and additional programs and costs to municipalities as a result of the policies of his government.
I know that the Premier wants to shift this question to a minister, but I really think that as a policy of the government, dealing with one of the major partners of the provincial government, it is important that we hear from the Premier on this question. Does the Premier think it is fair that he is transferring only four per cent increases while he is realizing 11 per cent increases himself and at the same time passing more and more programs on to the municipalities? Does the Premier think that is fair?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Treasurer could tell the honourable member why he is wrong, and he would be very happy to do so.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would be glad to do so because the honourable member is indicating the transfers to the municipalities are inadequate, and probably all of our friends at the municipal level would agree because it is only 8.2 per cent this year, just under $5 billion.
While the absolute amount is stunningly large, we know that the responsibilities at the municipal level are also very onerous. We believe that the 8.2 per cent that I have referred to this year -- which is the overall transfer, at least until the budget announcements that may in fact have some effect on those in the future -- is the appropriate level of transference. The municipalities, as the honourable member knows, have an independent source of revenue in the property tax. They feel that this is unduly exposed to taxation, but that is their judgement only.
The honourable member has criticized me, as Treasurer, for raising taxes here. He has indicated that he feels more money should go into our new programs. I do not know how I can satisfy him on both of those particulars. We feel that we are dealing fairly and equitably with the municipalities, in spite of their complaint.
Mr Brandt: It is not only the transfers that are upsetting the municipalities. It involves a long list of programs which the Treasurer has passed on to the municipalities, like the employer health levy, pay equity, courtroom security -- which the Attorney General has indicated does not cost anyone at the municipal level any additional money, and he stands alone in that particular position because right across the province everyone, I might add, disagrees with the Attorney General on that point -- social assistance reforms and the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program. All these provincial programs, as a result of these transfers, have resulted in tremendous tax increases at the local level.
Does the Treasurer think it is fair that taxes should go up in Kingston 10 per cent, in Sudbury some 11.5 per cent, in York region 9.3 per cent and in Essex county 25 per cent because of the inadequate transfers that he is passing on, plus the additional programs he is adding to municipalities?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The member can go through a litany of municipalities that have 25 per cent increases. I did not know that county was raising its taxes by that particular amount. If he wants to go to Brant county, he will find that Brantford township is raising its taxes zero per cent. Whether or not they are better managers than the people the member is talking about is up to the judgement of the local electorate.
We believe that 8.2 per cent is a rational increase and that the payment of the employer health tax is considered to be neutral in that the employers were paying OHIP for their employees previously. If they were not, it is our judgement that employers should pay that share, which amounts to only 16 per cent of the cost of medicare. We feel in many respects that this is a bargain for all employers and that municipalities have the responsibility to pay this on behalf of their employees.
The honourable member may not agree with all of these particulars, but we do believe that we are serving not only the general population of the province well but also the municipal leaders, who have once again come forward with their cries of inadequacy.
Mr Brandt: The reason they are crying that the transfer grants are inadequate is that in the Premier’s own home riding in the great city of London, which I consider to be a well-managed community -- we both know the mayor well -- fully half of the entire tax increase at the municipal level is directly attributable to this province and to his policies. Does the Treasurer think it is adequate that the Liberals can just dream up programs on their side of the House and pass them on to the municipalities without having any of the resources passed on with those additional responsibilities?
I will tell the Treasurer this: If the federal government did to him what he is doing to the municipalities, he would be screaming, because the amount of money that he has taken --
The Speaker: Order. I believe you came to the question mark a little earlier, did you not?
Mr Brandt: I did not ask the question, though.
The Speaker: Well, please ask it then.
Mr Brandt: Does the Treasurer think it is fair and equitable that half of the tax increase in a community like London should be directly attributable to programs that he passes on to municipalities?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member, being sensitive about what the Progressive Conservative government in Ottawa is doing, wanted to head off my usual answer to his second supplementary, and that is to point out the inadequacies of funding from the federal level to the provinces.
I think, however, that the taxpayers are getting sick of this handoff situation. They realize that people at all levels pay the taxes at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. The member would be aware, coming from Sarnia, about growth pressures, the changes in municipal government, the need for improving services at all levels. Surely he would not think that the municipalities should be exempt from paying the employer health tax. Surely he would not believe that pay equity is something that should not apply at the municipal level. He also understands, having been mayor of Sarnia, that local officials have the responsibility to tax their local people in a fair and equitable way just the way we have, just the way the government of Canada does.
We make our judgements in this regard. The honourable member is critical of them. He is paid to do that; some people in his party think he does a very good job of it. As far as we are concerned, we believe that the transfers to the municipalities are fair, and we understand that there is stress on them, just as there is stress on every cabinet minister here in fulfilling the responsibilities given to him under our statutes. The same is true at the federal level. We are doing the best we can, and we think it is a very good job indeed.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask the government House leader a question regarding these motions that were put forward by him last week. One motion was to extend the sitting hours and to take that motion as precedence over all of the standing orders at his beck and call. The second motion dealt with an order to jump over certain parts of our routine procedures each day.
When these rules were being negotiated over the past three years, there was a balance that the three members of that committee were trying to reach; that is, the balance between the right of the government to govern and right of the opposition to delay, because delay in our British parliamentary system is the only tack that the opposition has to bring the government to heel.
We gave up the right to ring the bells. We gave up rights to challenge the Speaker. We gave up the estimates process. Does the government House leader believe, by bringing these motions forward, that he has reneged on the understanding that was reached between the three parties at that time?
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated in an earlier response, it is not uncommon under government motions or under motions through routine proceedings to set aside standing orders in matters that are incidental to the business of the House. Today, under routine motions, we will be setting aside standing orders 8(a) and 94(b) so that members can exchange places for private members’ business.
Mr Sterling: On agreement, as it has always been done.
Hon Mr Ward: It happens routinely; it does not happen by unanimous consent. As a matter of fact, I can recall that the recommittal of Bill 147 was not by unanimous consent. It was subject to some debate, and indeed it was passed.
A motion such as this, which I believe is not a dilatory motion but indeed a motion that is fully debatable -- and indeed it was debated last Thursday -- is appropriate. If the members of this Legislature want to rearrange the business of this House, they can do so. I also want to stress, though, that the intent of the motion was to give more opportunity for members in this House to participate in the debate on government notice of motion 30. Obviously the member for Welland-Thorold is not finished, and we were providing him with that opportunity.
Mr Eves: With respect to the motion that the government House leader moved to extend the sitting hours, which he referred to as a routine motion, and it is going to take precedence over all the other standing orders of the Legislative Assembly, does he still regard this motion this week as being routine, and is it his intention to call it this afternoon? Seeing that it was so important, is he going to call it today?
Hon Mr Ward: The motion that I put forward on Thursday basically was to suspend standing orders 9 and 33. Indeed, if the honourable member refers to standing order 33(f), there is some anticipation that from time to time the House will sit beyond six o’clock. That is still indicated as part of the standing orders. It does not relate to the last eight sessional days, because they are covered by standing order 6. So I would say to my friend that on the standing orders for today, we have government notice of motion 30, and when we get to the orders of the day, that will be the order that is called.
Mr Eves: On the government House leader’s other motion, his motion to move from motions directly into orders of the day, doing away with introduction of bills, does he not realize the dangerous precedent this motion sets now that the Speaker has ruled on it? The precedent it sets is that during a minority government situation, combined opposition parties could prevent the government from ever introducing a single piece of legislation in this House. Does he think that is appropriate? Does he not realize what he is doing?
Hon Mr Ward: As I see it, if one looks at the examples that took place in this House on a couple of occasions, where routine proceedings, specifically the introduction of bills, could be utilized for the balance of the sessional day until 6 pm, that would render totally ineffective any previous motion that reflects the will of this House.
Mr Eves: It has not been used “until 6 o’clock.” The government adjourned the House at 5 the only day it was used.
Hon Mr Ward: I would remind my friend that we did not adjourn the House; the member for Simcoe West adjourned the house. It was on their motion.
I would say to my friend that it indeed is a very dangerous precedent. What it means basically is that no business could possibly pass through this House through the utilization of the introduction of bills. Frankly, I think that is neither responsible nor appropriate. Frankly, I think the motion that was brought in last week to deal with that is an appropriate way to ensure that the orders of the day can be called when the situation arises that they should be called.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer concerning the imposition of the goods and services tax at the federal level. The Treasurer will know, I hope, that this is going to transfer about $4.7 billion from the corporate sector to individual taxpayers all across Canada. Professor Neil Brooks, in writing for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, has recommended that there be a $2-billion shift to the corporate sector in new taxes to compensate for that windfall.
Since about 40 per cent of that, or $800 million, could come from Ontario could the Treasurer assure us that he is looking at that possibility and that something will be done in his budget a week from today to redress the inequity of that shift from the corporate sector to individual Canadians?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The question is an extremely interesting one and an important one. I think the basic fact is correct, although I am thinking of it in terms of Ontario, which is the way he was referring to it.
For example, our retail sales tax applies to corporations and their purchases, except for machinery and production equipment, as it does to any individual. If we were to accept the value added process in our sales tax, it would mean that we would forgo about $3 billion of the almost $9-billion revenue, and that, of course, would have to be picked up by individuals. That is the kind of transference that is referred to as the elimination of the silent killer of jobs, if I am not mixing up too many of the stories here.
So I find that interesting. I consider the imposition of that tax a federal responsibility and the redress of inequity in that regard a federal responsibility, but I am aware of the situation and am thinking about it.
In answer specifically to his question, I am not saying.
Mr Laughren: Perhaps we can help stiffen the Treasurer’s backbone a bit in anticipation of the budget next week. I realize that the budget next week is just one spasm in a whole array of programs that the Treasurer will be introducing, but I do want to ask him specifically, since there are opportunities here, without being draconian to the private sector, of returning some equity to the whole tax structure in the province -- there is the minimum corporate tax, which I raised with the Treasurer last week and which would not unduly penalize the private sector. There are loopholes that can be closed. Why will the Treasurer not make a commitment that he will either bring in a minimum corporate tax, close off some loopholes or raise the corporate sector taxes to make up for that windfall they are getting from the imposition of the GST?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member has to be aware that our corporations, manufacturing and otherwise, are working in a very competitive world market. Not all of them do business here.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Well, he has to bear that in mind, because the honourable member is in a position to know as well as I, and perhaps even better, that unless corporations are in a position to maintain themselves and expand and unless Ontario is in a position to be attractive as far as world capital is concerned for expansion, we are going to have the kinds of problems that none of us want, and that is the problem of not having sufficient high-quality jobs for ourselves and the young people who will be following us.
The honourable member has to think of the balance required in order to see that the economy of the province not only maintains its health and strength and progressivity but also builds on that. Mr Speaker, you are aware that the rate of real growth has been positive over the last eight years. For most of the years of my Treasurership, it has been in the four or five per cent range. But somehow or other it is moving down to the point where it is below two per cent now, and we have to be thinking not necessarily of transferring the tax load on to industries and rich people, because the member usually refers to them in these questions, but we have to see that our taxes are applied in such a way that the growth of the economy in the province is going to be strengthened and increased.
Mr McLean: For over a week I have been waiting to ask the Minister of Tourism and Recreation a question. The minister was not here all last week; he is not here today. I wonder if the Premier would know if he still has a minister or if he is away holidaying.
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr McLean: However, I will direct my question to the Premier. Tourist operators are Ontario’s largest employer. Last year, tourism in Ontario dropped by over three million, costing thousands of jobs. Gas taxes, hotel taxes, liquor taxes and the health levy have endangered over 300,000 jobs. How does the Premier propose to address these problems and how does he respond to the industry’s claim that he has failed to adequately market Ontario as a tourist centre? Five years ago, on 3 April, he promised to take off the five per cent tax. Why has he not and what is he going to do?
Hon Mr Peterson: The Treasurer has been dealing with this matter.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member takes note of the fact that the Minister of Tourism and Recreation is not available and has not been for a few days. He and the other taxpayers would want to know, I am sure, that the minister is currently in Japan, promoting Expo 2000. After all, it is tough, but somebody has got to do it. This is just part of the responsibility. As a matter of fact, I see the Leader of the Opposition waving his hand and snapping his finger. Actually, I can recall an occasion when the Premier and I were building up trade and goodwill with the Pacific Rim. We added a lot of firepower to our attractiveness by asking the Leader of the Opposition to go along, and he was able, under those circumstances, to attend as well. So there has been a lot of sacrifice in this regard that we should know about.
I have read the comments about the tourism brief very carefully. I do not think it is unfair to say that I had written them and asked them to submit a brief and had not received one until I read about it in the newspapers today. It is a very important industry indeed, and the honourable member would know that the government has substantially funded increases and strengthening of our tourism programs. This year alone the increase in the allocations is 8.5 per cent --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon R. F. Nixon: -- and I will be right back to the member.
Mr Villeneuve: What is happening in the Pacific Rim is most important, but what is happening in eastern Ontario is even more important. The St Lawrence Parks Commission has shut down five of 15 parks, fully one third, turning away tourists from an area that needs economic growth and economic stimulus. The Treasurer can probably bring a committee of cabinet, a deputy minister for eastern Ontario, even a ministry for eastern Ontario, but this cannot do away with the harm that is already done. We are going to let prime waterfront grow brush and weeds this coming year. The private sector is now trying to negotiate with the government and with this ministry. Will the Treasurer see to it that these parks do not close down in 1990? It is most important to us.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am very concerned by the honourable member because I know what he says is true. Frankly, some of the information is new to me. That does concern me, because the St Lawrence park system is one of the very best anywhere in North America and has always attracted many people to one of the finest displays anywhere. I believe that the basic aspect of that park system will be very much in operation and people will be glad to be there.
The honourable member, as a taxpayer, along with the nine million other people who are watching even at this moment, should know that $192 million from the provincial Treasury is being applied to advertising and direct assistance to the tourist operators. We would like to do more, but there is a growth this year, as I have already pointed out, of 8.5 per cent. Whether it is inadequate or not, it is the best we can do under these circumstances.
Mr Elliot: I have a question of the Premier. As we are aware, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has designated the Niagara Escarpment as a world biosphere reserve. Given that activities which degrade the natural environment of the area would be incompatible with this designation, would this government be prepared to support an amendment to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act which would remove landfilling as an acceptable activity in the escarpment area?
Hon Mr Peterson: Let me say that is the first thoughtful question I have received today. I am very, very happy to respond to the honourable member for Halton North.
I attended with him the ceremony a week or so ago when UNESCO awarded the escarpment with a special designation as a biosphere reserve. I think it was a great compliment, I do not pretend for this government but for all members of this Legislature and indeed going back to John Robarts and others who really dreamt of the escarpment as one of the longest continuous parks in North America and dedicating that preserve in perpetuity to our children.
I know the honourable member for Halton North has very strong views on this subject, and he has made a representation to the cabinet, to myself and to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. It is our hope that we will have the results of the deliberations of the Niagara Escarpment Commission in the not-too-distant future. As my honourable friend knows, they are dealing with that particular issue at this very time and I urge him to keep on with his representations. We will want to see their advice, and then that plan, which is now under a five-year review, will come back to this House for final determination. But I can tell my honourable friend I think the appropriate place for that discussion is with the commission, where it is going on at the present time.
Mr Elliot: Given the large number of quarrying operations and proposed dump sites situated along the escarpment, is the Premier prepared to entertain the idea of transferring responsibility for the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and the escarpment commission to the Ministry of the Environment so that the government ministry which is responsible for the maintenance of the environment is directly responsible for Ontario’s most important piece of environmental land planning legislation?
Hon Mr Peterson: I know again of my honourable friend’s strong views on this subject and the work he has done in this regard. We are always looking at the question of government organization, or reorganization, to make it as efficient as possible. My honourable friend knows that the escarpment commission is currently in the hands of the Minister of Municipal Affairs because it has essentially been a planning function.
That being said, there are people like himself and others who believe that should be transferred to the Ministry of the Environment to give it, shall we say, a different cachet or a different emphasis inside the government. I say to my honourable friend, I will take that matter under advisement with my colleagues with respect to the organization and the ultimate authority in that regard. I appreciate his advice in that matter.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. I am raising the case of about 1,300 tenants who have been given notice that their rents will be going up by 25 to 29 per cent. The buildings are owned by W J Holdings Ltd, which has units on Gamble Avenue, Cosburn Avenue, St Dennis Drive, Grenoble Drive, 200 Gateway Boulevard and Cedarcroft Boulevard. As I said, the rents are going to go up by 25 to 29 per cent. Can the minister tell us whether under his proposal tenants will have any input in the right to veto the capital expenditures that are the major reason for the rent increases in this case?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend will be well aware of the fact that much of the rental housing stock in this community and in other communities across the province is now 30 to 35 years old and is certainly going to have to have some significant renovations and repairs done. He will also be aware of the fact that in a number of cases those landlords have been ordered by the municipal government to do some of these major repairs. I cannot speak to the particular ones that he is mentioning, but I just want to put it in that context.
With respect to the second part of his question, there definitely will be a requirement for the landlord to disclose well in advance to the tenant what work is contemplated, what time it will take and what the cost will be. The tenant will then, either individually or collectively with others in the building, have an opportunity to discuss with the landlord alternatives to the landlord’s proposal, but there will not be a veto.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I knew that was the answer, but I think the way the minister and some of his members have been trying to attempt to sell this proposal has been, on the contrary, to make it look as if tenants are going to have real input. The fact of the matter is that his proposal will do nothing to change the status quo and landlords will continue to use rent review to introduce massive increases in rents.
I do, however, want to ask a supplementary based on the minister’s answer. He indicated that in many cases the buildings across this province are 30 to 35 years old. These buildings are about 20 to 25 years old. Why is it that tenants, under the minister’s rent review legislation, have to pay huge rent increases all at once in order to compensate landlords who have deliberately neglected buildings for years and years, and as a result the buildings are no longer affordable and these people have absolutely no place to live because there is no affordable co-op and non-profit housing available in this community?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would remind my honourable friend that in this community alone, in the Toronto area, during the next three years over 40,000 units of non-profit and co-op will have been built. I doubt very much if he can find any other place in Canada that can match that kind of record.
The second point I would make is that the honourable member suggests that all repairs being done by landlords are a result of neglect. That is obviously not true. As a matter of fact, as a home owner himself he will well be aware of the fact that after 20 years he has to replace his roof. That is not necessarily on the basis of neglect. The same thing can happen to an apartment landlord.
The third point is that, as the honourable member is well aware, there is a provision within the legislation right now that where neglect is obvious and can be demonstrated, then there is a penalty to the landlord with respect to that application.
Mr Sterling: I have a question to the Minister of the Environment. Can the minister tell me why we require beer cans and beer bottles to be recycled if they are manufactured here in Canada but when we bring in imported beer we do not require recycling of those cans or bottles? Why is that?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member would know first of all that there are taxes, put on by the provincial Treasurer, which deal with these matters designed to support recycling efforts in Ontario. These are matters which are to be discussed by officials of both the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I will continue to pursue this matter with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
As the member has mentioned, there is a difference in the treatment of the two. For our purposes, we will certainly be continuing to pursue that with that ministry. We know that in Ontario we see some tremendous recycling rates that have been, I would suggest to the member, the envy of people right across Ontario. The member will see that the blue boxes, or the recycling depots in areas where there are not blue boxes, are full of these containers which are then recycled, which are of --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: -- benefit to our society in a different use.
Mr Sterling: I assume from that answer that the minister is embarrassed to admit that there is a problem.
I would like to ask the minister a second question relating to the same issue. When Brewers’ Retail, which is a privately run organization, takes the cans and bottles back for the recycling process, when the private sector can recycle, why can our own government-run stores, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores, not do at least that: take back the bottles, take back the cans and recycle them? It does not make sense to me.
Hon Mr Bradley: First of all, the member will know that the recycling of those particular containers is dealt with through the recycling programs in the province of Ontario. The Treasurer put a five-cent tax on each of those containers to ensure that there would be money for those purposes. I can tell the member that indeed this year almost $55 million in total is allocated to recycling in this province. Any of these cans to which the member makes reference of course can be put into the blue box; the bottles can be put into the blue box.
The member will also recognize that in terms of Brewers Retail, for instance, there are pretty consistent sizes of bottles, which can be utilized again, whereas in the situation with the bottles that contain liquor -- I am not as familiar with those as perhaps the member is -- I can tell the member there are so many coming from so many different sources that to send them back to Portugal, for instance, or --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: -- Italy, France or many of the other places where some of these products are made would not be very practical. That is why the recycling effort has been enhanced in the province.
Miss Roberts: My question today is to the Minister of the Environment. As the minister is aware, a number of people in our province are very concerned about being informed as quickly and as thoroughly as possible when a spill occurs which may affect people’s health or the environment. As a result of an oil spill in Kettle Creek in my riding, citizens have questioned me about what the government of Ontario can do to keep the general public informed when a spill or other suspected incident is reported to the Ministry of the Environment and what would be the method used by ministry officials to follow up with concerned citizens in order that they can continue to be kept informed.
Hon Mr Bradley: That is an excellent question; the member for Elgin always asks excellent questions. By the way, she also corresponds with me on many occasions and, on a personal basis, makes representations on behalf of her riding.
I want to tell the member that we have set up in Ontario what is called a spills action centre which is in operation seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so that spills can be reported and responded to appropriately by officials of the ministry or indeed by any other departments that are involved in a spill, such as fire departments and police departments.
In terms of the ongoing situation, when a spill is reported the investigations and enforcement branch may be notified and will conduct a thorough investigation, the purpose of which is to determine first of all whether there has been a violation of any law in the province of Ontario and, if there has, to ensure that those people are prosecuted. In terms of the other staff, such as the abatement staff, it would be a matter of continuing to monitor to see what damage --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Miss Roberts: If an origin for the oil spill cannot be found, then who is responsible for ensuring that an incident such as the one in Kettle Creek is cleaned up?
Hon Mr Bradley: The owner and the handler of the material that is spilled are automatically responsible for the cleanup and restoration under the spills bill of the province of Ontario, which was proclaimed by this government after it sat on the desk of somebody for some five years or something like that.
In the case of Kettle Creek, which the member makes reference to, where it is not known who is responsible for the spill, the province can clean up and charge back to the spiller under the spills bill once it has been found. In this case a $22,000 cleanup took place, and the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Environment combined in that.
The investigations and enforcement branch is currently investigating any potential violation, and the member can be assured that the branch will continue to audit and look at any of the potential spilling industries in the area or other sources to cut those off.
Mr Hampton: My question is for the Minister of Labour. Early in 1988, two women employed as health care aides at Hogarth Westmount Hospital in Thunder Bay applied for an equal pay survey under section 33 of the Employment Standards Act. After some time of studies and surveys, the Ministry of Labour formally got back to the women involved and indicated to them that they were indeed correct in making their claim for equal pay, that the two women and 49 other women involved were indeed doing the same work as a number of men but were being paid about $1 an hour less. The Ministry of Labour ordered Hogarth Westmount Hospital to pay.
The formal order to pay came down on 5 December 1989. Some three weeks later, Hogarth Westmount Hospital indicated to the 51 female health care aides that their jobs were going to be phased out. Does it not strike the minister as passing strange? A little while after the formal order to pay comes down, equal pay for equal work, and after discussions have been going on for over six months, the hospital suddenly decides, “If we have to pay more for these women, we don’t need them any more.” Does that not strike the minister as a little strange?
Hon Mr Phillips: I tend to have a habit of looking into a matter before I reach a conclusion on it. I would be happy to look into the matter. I think the member will find that, if this is a hospital like all other hospitals in the province, it has a duly elected board that serves to administer the hospital. Rather than comment specifically on the case, I would be happy to look into the matter that the member has raised and inquire as to why the hospital would have reached that decision, to satisfy ourselves that it was a fair decision. But as I say, I would rather not jump to a conclusion in advance of knowing the facts.
Mr Hampton: I appreciate the Minister of Labour’s willingness to look into the situation. I might tell the minister that, from the sources I have, the union was told by the hospital administration that it simply did not have the money in its budget to pay these women what the Ministry of Labour had adjudged them as being worth; therefore, things had to change.
I would also like to ask the minister to check this while he is at it: The Ministry of Labour decided that each woman was due about $3,500 to $4,000 in retroactive pay for two years. The hospital said to the women: “If you accept immediately, you can have $2,000 in two weeks. If you want more than that, it is going to take some considerable amount of time to discuss the settlement.” I would like to ask the minister to look into that and I would ask him whether he thinks that is a fair way to go about dealing with an important part of the Employment Standards Act.
Hon Mr Phillips: I would somewhat repeat what I said earlier; that is, I tend to like to know the facts before I comment on them. I appreciate that the member has received some information. I tend to look into it thoroughly, which I will do.
I might add that our employment standards branch receives about one million calls a year. It is a branch that receives a lot of comment from the public. We look into each of the matters thoroughly, we investigate them thoroughly and we attempt to reach a fair resolution in the best manner possible.
I will look into the particular matter that the member has raised, raise it with the appropriate authorities and get back to the member. I will be pleased to do that.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Attorney General and he is not here. It has to do with Sunday shopping. I will direct the question to the Solicitor General. Since he has been the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General and a close colleague, I trust that he will be apprised of something of the issue.
The Sunday shopping laws that this government has introduced are not working, at least in York region. Some 400 to 500 cases are awaiting trial in the Newmarket court to deal with illegal store openings on Sundays. These cases are piling up. None of the cases are being heard, and in fact the crown attorney’s office in York region has adjourned all proceedings on illegal store openings until the Peel decision is made.
I would like to ask the Solicitor General whether he would support the position being taken by the York region crown attorney not to proceed with any of these cases.
Hon Mr Offer: I think it is important to acknowledge that any decision made by a local crown attorney in any one particular matter is within the discretion of that particular crown attorney. I think it is important to note that it is that responsibility which they have to exercise in myriad cases.
Dealing specifically with the Sunday shopping legislation, the member will be aware that it is a matter of responsibility of the local municipality, and certainly it is a matter of enforcement for the local police department. They are charged with that responsibility in laying charges where circumstances warrant. That is my understanding of what they are in fact doing, and I expect that that will continue.
Mr Cousens: It will not be any surprise to the Solicitor General, nor is it any surprise to the people in York region, that the law is now being broken every Sunday and fines are not acting as a deterrent to get people to obey what the government has made as the law. Cases are not even being heard in the Newmarket court. With the court backlog, if it is anything like some of the liquor licence laws that were broken, they just got dismissed because they were held for too long.
York regional council has now written a letter to the Attorney General requesting the Attorney General to take whatever action may be required to expedite the trial of charges laid under the Retail Business Holidays Act in the Newmarket provincial court. Would the Solicitor General get the Attorney General -- or is there any influence he can bring -- to respond to York regional council’s request and direct the crown attorney in Newmarket to proceed immediately with these cases?
Hon Mr Offer: The member has alluded to a letter being directed to the Attorney General. I know all members of the House know of the responsibility of the Attorney General, and certainly his reaction to the receipt and the response is one which is within his responsibility and jurisdiction.
However, let me be very clear that in the laying of charges dealing with the policing not only of Sunday shopping legislation but of all forms of legislation and all laws, it is a matter of responsibility for the local police force, whether it be a municipal police force, a regional police force or, as the member well knows, the Ontario Provincial Police. That is what they are charged to do. They are charged to enforce the law, to lay charges where it is appropriate. I have every confidence that in this case, as well as other cases, our police forces across this province are doing just that.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved that, notwithstanding any previous order of the House, Mr B. Rae and Ms Bryden exchange places in the order of precedence for private members’ business; that the order of precedence for private members’ business be further amended by deleting ballot item number 44 in the name of Mr Reville; and that, notwithstanding standing orders 8(a) and 94(b), the House shall meet at 11 am on Thursday 19 April 1990 to consider one item of private members’ business.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Sterling moved adjournment of the House.
The House divided on Mr Sterling’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 20; nays 61.
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD
Mr Villeneuve: I have a petition signed by 570 very concerned citizens of eastern Ontario. I have also signed this petition, and it is addressed properly to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislature of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, understand that the Ontario government is implementing cost-cutting measures across the province in an effort to control the deficit.
“However, we, the undersigned, vehemently protest the termination of the engineering services of our agricultural engineer, Glen Slater, at the Alexandria office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. While servicing eastern Ontario for more than 23 years, Mr Slater has advised and directed land owners, contractors, drainage superintendents and municipal officials on a wide range of agricultural practices such as buildings, land use, manure storage, drainage and erosion control, to mention but a few. With the mixed farming practices of eastern Ontario, there is a definite need for an engineer with experience in a wide range of activities. Over the years, Glen has displayed his expertise and gained the confidence of the local people through his handling” --
The Speaker: Order. I know the member has read the standing orders on petitions. He may put forth the content of the petition very briefly in his own words.
Mr Villeneuve: The content of the petition is to bring to this government the fact that cutting back 14 agricultural engineers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is not the way to operate and bring progress to Ontario agriculture, and I fully endorse this petition.
Mr Kozyra: I have two petitions at the request of the Minister of Northern Development for his constituents in Cochrane North. One is presented by 36 constituents in regard to the French Language Services Act and the other, presented and signed by 1,306 constituents, is in regard to environmental waste reduction methods in northern Ontario.
Mr Mackenzie moved the adjournment of the House.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Under standing order 44(b), and I will read it, “When a motion for the immediate adjournment of the House has been defeated, no other such motion shall be made unless some intermediate proceeding has taken place.” I would ask you to determine for the House the definition of an intermediate proceeding.
The Speaker: Order. We have a motion on the floor. The government House leader raised a point of order. I have read the standing order which says that there must be some other business take place. As I understand, I did call for petitions. There were petitions called. Other business has taken place. Therefore, I will have to rule the motion in order.
The House divided on Mr Mackenzie’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 21; nays 52.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
VICTORIA COUNTY RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED ACT, 1990
Mr Kerrio moved, on behalf of Mr Eakins, first reading of Bill Pr63, An Act respecting the Victoria County Railway Company Limited.
The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
NATIONAL CAPITAL CHILDREN’S ONCOLOGY CARE INC ACT, 1990
Mr Sterling moved second reading of Bill Pr8, An Act respecting National Capital Children’s Oncology Care Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
THE P & P MURRAY FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Ms Poole moved second reading of Bill Pr36, An Act to revive The P & P Murray Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
IMMANUEL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SOCIETY OF EAST TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Curling moved second reading of Bill Pr40, An Act to revive The Immanuel Christian School Society of East Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION ACT, 1990
Mrs Sullivan moved second reading of Bill Pr44, An Act respecting The Royal Canadian Legion.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
LAKE OF THE WOODS DISTRICT HOSPITAL ACT, 1989
Mr Miclash moved second reading of Bill Pr47, An Act respecting Lake of the Woods District Hospital.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
393598 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mrs O’Neill moved second reading of Bill Pr49, An Act to revive 393598 Ontario Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ASSOCIATION OF STONEY LAKE COTTAGERS INC ACT, 1990
Mr Adams moved second reading of Bill Pr55, An Act to revive Association of Stoney Lake Cottagers Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF NORTH BAY ACT, 1990
Mr Eves moved, on behalf of Mr Harris, second reading of Bill Pr57, An Act respecting the City of North Bay.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
GURSIKH SABHA CANADA ACT, 1990
Mr Curling moved second reading of Bill Pr58, An Act to revive Gursikh Sabha Canada.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF CHATHAM FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Mr McGuigan moved, on behalf of Mr Bossy, second reading of Bill Pr61, An Act to incorporate the City of Chatham Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Kanter moved second reading of Bill Pr62, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TIME ALLOCATION (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on government notice of motion 30 on time allocation in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
Mr Kormos: It has been useful to me and to other members, as we sit and listen to this discussion, to remind ourselves from time to time that we are not discussing Bill 68 here. That is the whole problem. We in the opposition dearly want to talk about Bill 68. We want to talk about the auto insurance legislation that the Liberals want to ram through this Legislature without any concern for tradition or procedure, and without any concern for democratic function.
The Liberals here at Queen’s Park, this government, have demonstrated time and time and time again that they care not a tinker’s damn for the role of the opposition. They have demonstrated time and time and time again their disdain. The Liberals demonstrate their disdain for the electorate here in Ontario. They demonstrate that they are prepared to abrogate the rights of the opposition. They are prepared to abrogate the rights of drivers, taxpayers and indeed the rights of innocent injured victims to do the insurance companies’ bidding.
As I say, if we were able to discuss Bill 68 -- one would think that is such a modest proposal -- is it not, Mr Speaker? -- to be able to debate a very unpopular piece of legislation, to be able to debate a piece of legislation that has garnered opposition across the province from workers, from professionals, from communities and from political organizations. The Liberal Party itself, in a number of ridings, has condemned this legislation. To be able to debate such a contentious piece of legislation seems so fundamental. It seems so simple.
Indeed, one sees that the Liberals have become rather simple in their approach to this House. They have become simple. Members will note that there were two motions for adjournment this afternoon. I feel a little bit badly about that, because what it means is that it is going to take yet a few more days longer now than I would have otherwise had to spend talking about my concerns about this time allocation motion. Yet the frustration of the opposition, when we have a government with its jackboots on, when we have the Liberals here with their jackboots just stomping all over democracy and tradition, is not difficult to understand.
Obviously the attitude is one of, if things are going to be that way, if there is not going to be debate, if there is not going to be discussion, if the opposition is going to be muzzled or guillotined at the whim of an arrogant and supercilious Liberal majority, then let’s lock the doors; let’s go home.
You can take the standing orders, Mr Speaker, if I may, if I could have the standing orders. These are the standing orders. These are the rules, rules that the Liberals set, and the Liberals say, “No, forget it.” Standing order 12? No, Liberals do not give a tinker’s damn for standing order 12. Standing order 11? Liberals say, “No, toss it out; forget the standing orders.” That is what the Liberals say. The rules? Oh, this one. Here is a rule that is designed to protect the rights of the opposition. Well, the Liberals have torn that up and thrown it away. Standing orders mean nothing. The standing orders mean nothing to the Liberals in this Legislature. They have taken the rules and they have ground them into the ground with their jackboots. No respect for procedure. No respect for --
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With great, high respect indeed for the member for Welland-Thorold, my colleague and distinguished friend, I would like to respectfully request that I get another book on standing orders, for this was my book and it has been tampered with. I am talking about the former standing orders.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Of course, it was not a point of order, but I know the member for Parkdale has a true point of order.
Mr Ruprecht: I think so. On a point of order, Mr Speaker:
I am asking you to check whether this member is destroying government property and therefore should reimburse this government for destroying its property.
The Acting Speaker: Well, of course, it is not the Speaker’s role to determine whether he was destroying public property. I shall have to rule that it was not a valid point of order, and as a result continue on with the debate from the member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos: I may crumple a piece of paper to illustrate a point. The Liberals have destroyed 100 years of tradition. The Liberals have destroyed the rights of the opposition. The Liberals stomp on the obligations of the opposition. The Liberals sit here as spokespeople for the insurance industry. There is no doubt about that in anybody’s mind. But do they speak for their constituents? Do they speak for the drivers in their ridings? No. Do they speak for the drivers who are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent? No.
Do they speak for the innocent injured victims? We know that if this legislation passes -- and the Liberals want it passed so badly they can taste it -- 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims will receive not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life.
So the Liberals speak for the insurance industry. Again, there is no doubt about that, but they do not speak for those innocent injured victims. Do they speak for the taxpayers? Of course not. They speak for the insurance industry that is going to be subsidized to the tune of $141 million minimum, plucked from the taxpayers’ pockets by this government to piece off an already prosperous insurance industry.
It is not hard for me to stand here and tell members why we need time to debate Bill 68. And it is similarly not hard for you, Mr Speaker, and these Liberals to understand why their House leader and their Minister of Financial Institutions do not want to debate Bill 68. It is not hard to understand why the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, does not want to discuss Bill 68. He fled from it during the course of committee hearings. The minister was not there and when the parliamentary assistant showed up, he quaked in response to the opposition that was expressed.
Remember, it was the parliamentary assistant, the Liberal member for Guelph, who was sent out to the front line by his minister who hid in the bunker all the while. It is that same member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant, who told the press that the Liberals got hammered by the opposition to this bill. He told that to the press and the press reported it. The member for Guelph remembers that. The press clipping service for the member for Guelph was really busy that day because here were all these headlines: The member for Guelph, Liberal parliamentary assistant, says, “We got hammered by the opposition to Bill 68.” That is why he does not want to talk about it.
Let me tell members why I do. Let me tell members why the members of the New Democratic Party want to discuss Bill 68: because we know it is bad legislation. We know it is going to hurt drivers; we know it is going to hurt innocent injured victims; we know it is going to hurt taxpayers. That is why we want to debate Bill 68 as thoroughly as need be for the members of this House to make an intelligent decision when it comes time to support or oppose it.
The member for Sudbury has had the benefit of guidance from his riding association. The Liberal riding association up in Sudbury said to its member, “Please, member, don’t support Bill 68; don’t vote for Bill 68.” The Liberals themselves in Guelph have been planning it and the message has not been delivered yet, but up in Sudbury they actually did it. They passed a resolution.
Mr Allen: The same thing in Hamilton Centre.
Mr Kormos: And in Hamilton Centre. Let me tell members why. Let me tell members about Mr Kassam in Mississauga. Before I tell members about Mr Kassam and why he is relevant to this conversation, I again want to tell them about the people who are paying rapt attention to this debate. People across Ontario know how important it is that Bill 68 be debated, people like Angela Johnson in Waterloo who phones up and says, “Keep it up.” She supports what we are doing and she calls herself a soon-to-be-ex-Liberal.
Steve Doan from Wallaceburg phones and says: “Thank you for the effort you are putting on the time allocation motion. There are a lot of people who are behind you and support what you’re doing.” Steve Doan from Wallaceburg is paying attention to what is happening. I tell members, I am thankful to Mr Doan for taking the time to call in. He is obviously concerned about what the Liberals are doing to democracy in this province and about what they are doing to drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims by virtue of Bill 68.
Dennis Gibson in Thunder Bay phones and leaves a short message: “Been watching you on television. Keep up the good work.” Again, Mr Gibson is paying attention to what is happening here and he is concerned about what the Liberals are doing to drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims in this province.
Vince Azzarello from Mississauga phones in. He says he is ashamed to be a Liberal and will not be voting Liberal next time. “The whole bunch of us are voting NDP next time.” I appreciate that it is difficult in 1990 in this province to admit that one is a Liberal. It is something that one does only with some hesitation and with some concern about one’s reputation in one’s community. Mr Azzarello phones up and acknowledges that he is a Liberal, but he says at the same time that he is ashamed because of what these Liberals are doing to the people of Ontario in Bill 68.
Mr Azzarello is not alone in his own party. The Liberals in the riding of Sudbury prevail upon their member to vote against this legislation. The Liberals in the riding of Hamilton Centre passed a resolution prevailing upon their member to vote against this legislation. The Liberal riding association up in Sudbury East -- Lord knows they cannot get a Liberal elected up there -- felt sufficiently responsible to prevail upon the sitting Liberals, as they are now -- just wait until the next election; they will not be here. This next election is going to mean retirement for a whole bunch of Liberals sitting here in Ontario, especially if they persist in voting for the insurance companies and selling out the little people of Ontario in exchange for the big profits of the insurance companies.
Stan Miszuk from Mississauga said that if Bill 68 goes through he is going to have to sell his car. He says, “Keep up the good work anyway.” He knows his insurance premiums are going to go up by as much as 50 per cent. That is why he has to peddle his car.
The Liberals in Ontario are forcing people like Mr Miszuk off the road. Do members know who is going to be among the biggest bunch of people forced out of their cars? Senior citizens. They are going to be among the people who effectively face the highest premium increases --
Mr Callahan: That is baloney.
Mr Kormos: The Honourable Mr Justice Osborne said so, Mr Justice Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario, trial division. Don McKay, the general manager of the Facility Association, said so. That is going to be the net effect of the Liberals ramming Bill 68 through.
Let me get back to Mr Kassam from Mississauga. This is exactly why the Minister of Financial Institutions and his former best friend, his parliamentary assistant, do not want to debate Bill 68. Would you still be friends with the Minister of Financial Institutions if he sent you out into the front lines while he stayed behind protected in the bunker? That is not much of a friend, I will tell you that.
That is exactly why these guys do not want to debate Bill 68. They will do anything they have to do to avoid debating Bill 68.They will avoid debating Bill 68 because they will not be able to address the type of difficulty that Mr Kassam finds himself in. Let me tell the members about Mr Kassam. This is exactly why the Liberals want this time allocation motion: because of Mr Kassam and thousands and thousands of others like him for whom Bill 68 offers no assistance, no help, but it just grinds the screw even tighter. Good people; good, hardworking people who pay their bills, who work hard and who expect their government to represent their interests --
Mr Pouliot: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Since it is not possible under the resolution that was put forth last week with respect to going to the crux of the matter, which is Bill 68, I must point out that perhaps the House is not duly constituted and I ask you respectfully to check for a quorum.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Lake Nipigon has requested a quorum count.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is present.
The Acting Speaker: The clerk has pointed out to me that a quorum is present.
Mr Kormos: It is about time there were enough Liberals in here to constitute a quorum, let me tell you that, Mr Speaker.
Let me tell you about Mr Kassam, Mr Speaker, and let me tell you why Mr Kassam is important to this debate. Let me tell you what the insurance industry, which has these Liberals in its back pockets, is doing to Mr Kassam. Mr Kassam had an auto insurance policy with Laurentian Casualty through the brokerage of I. F. T. Fraser and Associates Insurance Brokers Ltd. This is not a pleasant story and I am not about to laugh either to Mr Kassam’s face or behind his back, quite frankly. I am interested in the people who find a tragic scenario like Mr Kassam’s, what perversion would permit those people to find it humorous.
What happened was that Laurentian Casualty maintained that it had a problem with Fraser and Associates, the brokers, so it cut off the brokers. They told Fraser and Associates, “You can’t handle our insurance any more.” At the same time, they sent Mr Kassam a letter saying: “Your insurance simply ain’t going to be renewed, because you deal with Fraser and Associates, brokers. We no longer are handled by Fraser and Associates, which means you are not going to be renewed by Laurentian Casualty.”
Mr Kassam had a six-star rating with Laurentian Casualty, which he obtained through Fraser and Associates. Notwithstanding what Laurentian told Mr Kassam, Fraser and Associates said: “We do not understand. We have never had a problem with Laurentian Casualty. We can’t understand why they are dumping us, unloading us, as one of their brokers.”
Fraser and Associates speculated, in response to, quite frankly, the almost panicky inquiries of Mr Kassam -- because he was being told, “No, you can’t be renewed” -- that since they had no problems with Laurentian and never had, they could not recall or could not think of anything that would cause them to be dumped. This is an insurance brokerage firm which Mr Kassam tells me told him, “Maybe Laurentian is only taking this action in order to terminate their old policies in order to get new clients who will have to pay substantially more for insurance.”
Members should not forget the so-called caps on increases are not transferable, are they? There is no effective rating system. So Fraser and Associates explained to Mr Kassam that they were getting shafted by Laurentian Casualty so that Laurentian Casualty could drop its current customers and get new ones. This is the premium shuffle. Remember when we talked about that months and months ago, Mr Speaker? The member for Nickel Belt talked about it too, when he talked about his constituents being exposed to the same sort of insurance flip.
Mr Philip: Any competent lawyer would understand that.
Mr Kormos: I know the Speaker does, because I know with his background in law his mind is trained. It is a finely honed, finely developed mechanism. He is trained to zero in on the issue and not be distracted by peripheral things, by secondary things. The Speaker, as a skilled member of the bar -- by that I mean a lawyer; you know that, Mr Speaker --
Mr Philip: An even more skilled Speaker.
Mr Kormos: It contributes to his expertise as Speaker, which has been noted not just here in this House but beyond this House as well. I have been to communities all over Ontario and heard a variety of comments about the Liberals. I will not repeat them because I know that would violate the standing orders. Are those standing orders still in effect or have the Liberals abandoned those as well? I tell you, Mr Speaker, I hear nothing but compliments about you. You have left your mark on this assembly, I tell you that, and you have made an impression on people all over Ontario.
Let’s talk about Mr Kassam, a six-star rating, dumped by Laurentian Casualty, and the only reason that J. F. T. Fraser and Associates Insurance Brokers can speculate on is that they are dumping a whole bunch of people so they can do the old premium shuffle, the old premium flip.
Mr Kassam called Laurentian and he said: “Look, forget about Fraser and Associates; I know you do not let them handle your insurance any more. Please renew me. Let me buy my insurance directly from you.” Laurentian told him that they cannot do that because then Fraser and Associates would sue them for taking one of their customers. Mr Kassam says: “No, you do not understand. Listen, Laurentian Casualty, please. I tell you what I am going to do. Fraser and Associates will sign a letter indemnifying you, promising not to sue you.” That is why Laurentian said they could not renew him, right? They said, “We do not have Fraser handle our business any more, and we cannot take you on directly because we are afraid that Fraser would sue us for taking one of their customers.” Laurentian backed out of that one, too. They refused to accept his letter of indemnification from Fraser and Associates.
The catch is that Mr Kassam was paying $1,400 a year for insurance, with a six-star rating. That is a whole lot of money to begin with. Laurentian has unloaded him, and the best policy that Mr Kassam can find to date is one for a $2,200-a-year premium. Do members want to know something? He is going to have to take that, if these Liberals get Bill 68 rammed through this Legislature as they intend to do, as they are going to try really hard to do unless we stop them. It is up to us, as an opposition, to stop them, to stop the Liberals from ramming this legislation through, because the legislation is all about making big, new profits for the insurance industry. In doing that, it sells out the working people, the senior citizens, the young men and women, students and newly employed people, farmers, the small business people, because these are the people who are going to face incredible premium increases and have incredibly less coverage and fewer benefits.
Indeed, members know, and more and more people in this House and in this province know, that if this legislation passes, 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims will not get a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. That is what this legislation is all about, and this legislation does not do a thing for Mr Kassam. It does not do a thing to control the insatiable greed of the auto insurance industry in this province. It does not do a thing to control the shabby, unacceptable conduct that Mr Kassam has been subjected to.
That is what this time allocation motion is all about. The Minister of Financial Institutions does not want to have to deal with the Mr Kassams and the Laurentian Casualties of Ontario, because the Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of Ontario and the Liberals sitting in this House are prepared to sell out Mr Kassam. They are prepared to throw him to the dogs. They will forsake Mr Kassam and thousands and tens of thousands like him, because the Liberals are in the back pocket of the auto insurance industry in Ontario.
Never before have these Liberals seen such a contentious bit of legislation. Where have members ever seen or heard, in the history of this Premier’s government, of legislation that is so thoroughly opposed by people across the province? Yet this government persists in ramming it through.
Mr Philip: Sunday shopping, maybe.
Mr Kormos: Sunday shopping, close. Whether it tops it or not, we are talking close. The member knows that. But Bill 68, the auto insurance legislation, is importantly supported, by and large, by one single group in this province. That is the private, corporate automobile insurance industry, which has not got much of a reputation that it can be very proud of when it comes to how it has treated its customers and injured people in the past, has it?
Let me tell members what Angelo Bucciarelli from Mississauga says. Mr Bucciarelli of Mississauga writes to me and says, “I am writing you this letter in order to inform you that I am behind you 100 per cent in regards to the Liberals’ auto insurance (biggest fraud ever conceived by an arrogant government) scheme. Can you please ask the Premier of this government how this so-called no-fault auto insurance, written for the government by the auto insurance companies, is supposed to benefit” people like Mr Bucciarelli, who has four kids, aged 10, 5, 4 and two and a half. How is it going to help them in any way, shape or form? It is going to eliminate compensation for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life for at least 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims. It is going to eliminate that.
Those innocent injured victims will not have a right to that compensation. It is not a matter even of not having the right; it simply will not be made available to them. And do members know that those same victims will not be able to use the courts in an effort to obtain recourse against the big, powerful, wealthy auto insurance companies? Bill 68 also does that. It denies them the right to access to the courts.
Mr D. W. Smith: How do you know?
Mr Kormos: Anybody who would say how do I know is either a complete dummy, or a complete mouthpiece for the auto insurance industry, or simply so naïve -- anybody who would deny that is simply so naïve as to not understand what this legislation is all about. They simply do not understand. Mr Bucciarelli writes, “No-fault? No thanks. Please do not pass this ridiculous, insulting bill upon the people of Ontario.
“Come next election,” Mr Bucciarelli suggests that “the Liberals might apply for jobs in the many insurance head offices in London and stay there.” So we see the opposition to Bill 68 is widespread.
Clearly, the Liberals at Queen’s Park have not been listening to the people in their ridings, have not been listening to the people who appeared in front of the government committee with its brief, brief hearings. They have not been listening to the Mr Kassams, to the Mr Bucciarellis and that is, similarly, why they do not want to debate this legislation here in the House. That is why this time allocation is before us.
Let me tell you about another little scam going on around here, Mr Speaker. It is the myth that Bill 68 puts an end to tied selling for insurance companies. You know what tied selling is, right? It is where the insurance company will not sell you auto insurance unless you get house insurance from it as well.
Now, the Minister of Financial Institutions is loath to acknowledge that it takes place. After all, he would paint a picture of auto insurance companies such that Mother Teresa would pale in comparison. The Minister of Financial Institutions would create an image of auto insurance companies that would portray them as benign and generous and charitable institutions. Come on. There is not a person out there who has ever had to deal with an auto insurance company who could not say, “Bullfeathers.”
Are you not pleased with me, Mr Speaker? There is a lot of self-control and a lot of discipline standing here right now, because I would really like to tell you what I really think about Bill 68. Are you sure that standing order is still in effect, or did the Liberals wipe that one out too?
Let me tell members about tied selling, because if any of them do not think it is happening right now in Ontario, they had better wake up and pull out their chequebooks. Let me tell members about David Hanuschuk, 233 Rosemount Avenue, Port Colborne, Ontario. Port Colborne is not in the riding of Welland-Thorold, Port Colborne is in Niagara South. Mr Hanuschuk gives me this little memo from Niagara Insurance Brokers. It is dated 27 March 1990. It is so personal as to say not “Mr Hanuschuk” but “David.” Members get those letters in the mail, ones that are addressed to them by their first names. That is when they put their hands on their wallets because they know the next paragraph has to do with making their wallets a little bit lighter. But it says, “David.”
Mr Philip: I wonder why he did not write to his own MPP.
Mr Kormos: I cannot for the life of me understand why he would not go to his own MPP, except that his own MPP is a Liberal. I suppose it is very difficult for a constituent whose MPP is supporting the insurance companies to expect that MPP to in any way challenge those same insurance companies when they get heavy-handed, as they are more often than not. Would members not think that is a fair inference to draw? It would seem to me a reasonably fair inference to draw.
“David: Re auto renewal for April 26, 1990” -- David’s time is running out.
“1. Due to company policy, our office will be unable to renew your auto policy unless the homeowner’s or tenant’s package is placed with the same insurance company. Our office is prepared to quote a package price for both policies.” Oh, I bet they are. Look at what they are saying: that he will not be given insurance for his car unless he also buys a homeowner’s or tenant’s package.
“Please compare our competitive prices so that you may make a choice in your best interests. If we do not hear from you by the above expiry date, your auto policy will lapse with our office.”
It is signed by Art Bull. What an appropriate surname -- no disrespect to Mr Bull. Considering the type of message he has to deliver on behalf of his insurance company to people like David Hanuschuk, how appropriate.
That is tied selling. The irony here is that David Hanuschuk knows how uncharitable the auto insurance industry can be. David Hanuschuk would dearly love to buy a homeowner’s or tenant’s package with the same company so that he can keep his auto insurance, because he knows he is liable to be forced into the Facility Association, not because he is a bad driver. We know that already. We know that the ranks of the Facility Association have more than doubled in the last year, not with bad drivers but with perfectly good drivers who are being denied insurance coverage by regular auto insurance companies. Mr Hanuschuk would dearly love to avoid that.
The member for Guelph should not go away.
Mr Ferraro: I want to get closer.
Mr Kormos: Because we have more to talk about. The minister is not prepared to listen; perhaps his parliamentary assistant is going to pay some attention. Perhaps before 26 April he will be able to resolve the difficulty for Mr Hanuschuk. Or are the Liberals, including the parliamentary assistant, so deep in the back pocket of the insurance companies in this province that they will not take on the challenge of confronting a greedy, heavy-handed auto insurance industry that is going to persist in tied selling?
That is what Mr Hanuschuk is faced with. As I said, he would dearly love to keep his auto insurance. He would love to be able to buy household or tenant’s insurance. Unfortunately, he does not own a house and he is not a tenant. He cannot. The option simply is not available to him. So Mr Hanuschuk says:
“No, I do not trust the auto insurance industry in this province. I do not trust them as far as I can throw them. I do not trust the Liberals in Ontario to protect me against that same auto insurance industry.”
Why? Because he knows what the Liberals’ track record is. He has seen the Liberal track record. He has seen their track record when it comes to the auto insurance industry. Mr Hanuschuk knows, as I do, that the auto insurance industry in this province greased, paid off, Liberal candidates. I am sorry; there were donations. Where I come from, I am prone to call them grease, okay? Payoffs. Do members know? “You stroke my back and I will stroke yours,” that type of approach. How else can you justify this blind support for bad legislation that is before this Legislature now? How else can you justify the Liberals’ frantic desire to avoid any debate about Bill 68?
Yes, those very same Liberals sitting to your right, Mr Speaker. They received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the auto insurance industry during the general election of 1987. That is what is recorded. I can only speak about the donations to the extent that they were documented. Over $100,000 went into the campaign pockets of Liberal candidates in the last general election, tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars that the auto insurance industry spent on third-party advertising during that same election.
Drivers in Ontario have been hit with increase after increase, and now they know where some of that money is going:
It is going into the pockets of Liberal candidates. So Mr Hanuschuk knows that. He knows that he cannot count on Liberals at Queen’s Park to protect him against auto insurance companies, because those Liberals are in the back pocket of those same auto insurance companies. They are so deep in the back pocket of the same auto insurance companies that these Liberals are spitting out lint. We have seen it.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, about an interesting publication that came across my desk. I have made reference to the Canadian Underwriter magazine. Remember, a couple of days ago I referred to the March 1990 issue?
I came across, or rather it came across me, another little publication, and again, this is what we are talking about when we talk about this time allocation motion, this closure motion, by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park. It is a little publication called Thompson’s World Insurance News. I just kind of like the look of it and the feel of it. It is not a glossy, expensively manufactured publication like Canadian Underwriter.
The editor is Tony Thompson, the deputy editor Ann Nicholson. This is volume 2, number 11, so that would suggest to me that it is a fairly new publication. It is available at 415 Leslie Street, Toronto. I suppose that if people were to write to Thompson’s World Insurance News at 415 Leslie Street, Toronto, or phone them at 461-8800 -- that number once again is 461-8800 for Thompson’s World Insurance News, 415 Leslie Street, Toronto, M4M 3E3. M4M, M as in money ; 3E3, E as in “everyone.” That is what this insurance legislation is all about; it is going to cost everyone more money so that the insurance companies can enjoy a windfall profit of some $1 billion in the first year alone.
But, as I say, I kind of like this publication. I only saw it for the first time today. It mentioned my name a couple of times, and I do not want the members to suspect for a moment that is why I am more partial to Thompson’s World Insurance News than I am to Canadian Underwriter, but it is a fact.
One interesting little note in here, there is a little news item called “Don’t Count Your Chickens.” “Word out of Queen’s Park has it that, despite what the courts might decide about the threshold in Bill 68, once the Liberals lose power, the provisions are a dead duck.” Even within the insurance industry there is an awareness that this is a kamikaze bill for the Liberals at Queen’s Park. “Don’t Count Your Chickens.” That is a message to the insurance companies in Ontario.
“Word out of Queen’s Park has it that, despite what the courts might decide about the threshold in Bill 68, once the Liberals lose power” -- they do not say “if,” they say “once the Liberals lose power” -- “the provisions are a dead duck.” That is a not-so-subtle message to that same industry that this bill is very valuable to the industry. The Liberals are laying the eggs for the auto insurance industry so that the industry can harvest the chickens.
The other reference in this little publication, Thompson’s World Insurance News, is the criticism that I made of the Insurance Bureau of Canada a few days ago. I cannot remember when, just about the time we started this discussion. I guess that was more than a few days ago.
Members will recall that I said that the Insurance Bureau of Canada figures regarding the claims payouts and the reserves were akin to fraudulent because they did not break down reserves as contrasted with actual payouts. We know that is how insurance companies, auto insurance companies especially, create artificial losses so that they can report a loss when in fact they have made profits.
They are stuffing their pockets with money from drivers’ premiums. It is the old case of their crying all the way to the bank. We know they are making profits. The auto insurance industry in this province has been talking about losing money for decades and decades, year after year. At the same time, they fight tooth and nail to retain control over what, according to them, is an unprofitable business. Poppycock. It just cannot be. The world is not like that.
The little article in Thompson’s World Insurance News, 415 Leslie Street, Toronto, refers to my criticism of the IBC for failing to break down reserves as contrasted with actual claims paid out. But then they go on, because obviously they consulted the LBC. They went to the Insurance Bureau of Canada with my concerns about the IBC’s own figures, and the LBC said that it had no breakdown to show what percentage had actually been paid and what was put by for reserves against claims. Once again, horsefeathers.
Don’t tell me they do not have a breakdown. Baloney. They are not prepared to reveal those figures, because if they revealed those figures it would confirm, in fact, what I have suspected and believed firmly about that same industry and what people like Irene Bass, the actuary retained during the course of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board hearings, had to say about them, that they inflate the reserves so as to create an artificial image of losing money, when in fact they are very profitable.
It is interesting when one looks at that and understands once again how important it is to these Liberals to not have full debate about Bill 68. Thompson’s World Insurance News -- and, again, this is sort of a little insider newsletter for the insurance industry -- talks about the potential constitutional challenge to Bill 68, specifically to the threshold, because that is what Bill 68 is all about. It is about this threshold, the standard that you have to meet before you can even think about being compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. Before we can even begin to think about it, we have to pass that threshold. That threshold is the most onerous threshold in all of the whole insured world. What it says is basically this: “You have to be dead or damned close to it before you can even think about being compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.”
There have been some opinions expressed that that is unconstitutional. Among other things, psychological injuries are excluded by virtue of the threshold. Catch this one, Mr Speaker:
This is news, because not only have independent counsel here in the province of Ontario, competent responsible counsel, suggested clearly that the threshold contained in this government’s legislation is unconstitutional, but the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s own legal staff -- the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, should listen carefully -- said this, “There is a possibility that the threshold excluding psychological injury might be deemed a restriction under the Constitution.” Even the insurance industry and its own counsel --
Mr Ferraro: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to say to my friend --
The Deputy Speaker: Under which standing order is that?
Mr Ferraro: Standing order 32(c). Mr Speaker, I just want to point out to my friend opposite that indeed the quote was misquoted in conversation with Mr Thompson --
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Ferraro: -- and his view is that it is constitutional. So I would just say to my friend that I would not --
The Deputy Speaker: Nice attempt, but it is not a point of order, of course.
Mr Kormos: That reminds me. I think I mentioned to this Legislature a long time ago now a quote by the great analytical philosopher Wittgenstein, and what Wittgenstein said at the turn of the century was, “Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.” I tell that to the member for Guelph because -- I was going to read him the whole quote. I did not want to embarrass him with the whole quote and I wanted to be relatively kind. I feel sorry for the member for Guelph because of the way the Minister of Financial Institutions has mistreated him.
The Deputy Speaker: And it is still related to time allocation?
Mr Kormos: Of course, Mr Speaker; this is exactly what the issue is. This is exactly why the Liberals do not want to debate Bill 68. Is that not perfectly clear now? When one looks at the material that is available, one begins to understand how important it is to the Liberals to pass this time allocation motion, how important it is to the Liberals to impose closure on this legislation. When you look at the facts that would be disclosed during the course of a debate, a debate that the Liberals do not want, then you see why they are prepared to fight so hard and condemn so much to avoid that debate. They are prepared to take the standing rules and chuck them out. They are prepared to take over a century of tradition and stomp it lifeless with their jackboots.
Let’s talk about what legal counsel for the IBC has to say about Bill 68. Counsel concedes that it is not likely that the whole bill will be declared invalid, but there was a possibility that the threshold wording excluding psychological injury might be deemed a restriction under the Constitution. Counsel for the IBC is contrasting the constitutionality of the balance of the legislation with the constitutionality of the threshold itself. Nobody has ever argued that the whole bill is going to be deemed unconstitutional, but responsible people have pleaded with this government to please do a reference, so that the constitutionality of the threshold can be tested before it begins to hurt innocent injured victims.
Mr Speaker, I told you some time ago that my passion in opposing this legislation was because every day that this legislation is delayed, there are perhaps 10, maybe 20, maybe 30 more innocent injured victims who will be compensated for their pain and suffering, as they rightly should be. What this bill will do once it is passed is deny those same innocent injured victims the right to compensation.
How old are some of these pages, the new pages today? Are they 12, 13, 14 years old? Little kids, smart kids like these pages, with good futures ahead of them, with potential far greater than any of the Liberals sitting here, any one of these pages, these young people, will be condemned by Bill 68 to being denied, if he falls within that vast majority of at least 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims, the right to be compensated for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. I am not going to spend a lot of time right now on a lengthy illustration of that; I think I will do that tomorrow.
Again, it is a debate over the threshold that the Liberals want to avoid with this time allocation motion, this guillotine motion, this closure motion, the one they learned from their federal cousins, the Tories on Parliament Hill. Closure is no more acceptable to this opposition here at Queen’s Park than it is to the New Democratic Party in Ottawa when it is imposed by the Tories there. It has reached a point where -- Liberal or Tory -- one is hard pressed to make a distinction from one to the other.
Not only does the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s own lawyer have some concerns about the constitutionality of the threshold in Bill 68, but independent counsel have as well, indeed to the point where Mr Star from Kingsway General Insurance wrote to the government expressing great concern about the constitutionality of the threshold in Bill 68. Mr Star prevailed upon the government to please address this important issue. Mr Star’s perspective was from the point of view of saving money for the insurance industry. Members remember that, do they not?
Similarly, Mr Star imposed a deadline for a reply to that correspondence to the government, failing which he suggested that he was going to make that correspondence public. That is when the Minister of Financial Institutions set his little go-fers in action trying to lean on Mr Star so that he would not make that correspondence public. Do members remember that scenario? The minister sure remembers it. That is when the mandarins from the Ministry of Financial Institutions were sent out.
“If you can’t lean on Star himself, then phone up major shareholders,” which they did; they phoned up a major American shareholder and leaned on him. “Apply a little pressure, just apply a little pressure. Talk about how you’re not making any threats, but it would sort of be better for them if they did what you said. Maybe inquire as to where his kids go to school in the process,” a little bit of pressure so that Star will not release that letter because here is a criticism of the government. The criticism is basically this, “Test the constitutionality of the threshold before you impose it on the people of Ontario,” before they impose it on the innocent injured victims of Ontario. That is all that is asked of the government. Yet their arrogance extends not just to the limits of this Legislature, but appears to extend beyond the powers that would be exercised by a court in the process of doing that very thing -- testing the constitutionality.
I was reading a copy of the University of Western Ontario newspaper today and I saw an ad for a book in there. It said, “Now in stock at your university bookstore.” The title of the book is Asleep in the Fast Lane. I thought, “My goodness, another story about the Liberals at Queen’s Park?” I was mistaken. Indeed, it would appear that the impact of the Liberals has diminished to such a point where people would not think of writing books about them any more. Indeed, I suspect that the next book to be written is going to be an analysis of the members defeated in the next general election. Why, specifically? Because they supported Bill 68, because they sold out innocent injured victims and drivers and taxpayers in favour of the insurance industry. Why? Because they refused to permit debate on a most important issue before the Legislature.
I have never seen such obstructionist tactics as we have seen coming from this government over Bill 68. Look what happened. We had only just gotten finished our introductory comments during committee-of-the-whole consideration of Bill 68, we had only just begun to deal with Bill 68 in clause-by-clause, and these Liberals imposed this time allocation motion, this closure motion, this censure motion, this guillotine. We only just barely get into our discussion of that very same motion that we are talking about today, the time allocation motion, and then the Liberal House leader moves another motion. We are not even finished talking about time allocation and he clutters the floor with yet another motion. So we spend a little bit of time last Thursday talking about his time extension motion, which interferes with the discussion of the time allocation motion, which is effectively interfering with debate of Bill 68, which is all we ever wanted to do in the first place, and he leaves his time extension motion sitting in limbo and then we come back to the time allocation motion.
No wonder the Liberals are confused. No wonder they are concerned about what is happening. No wonder there is a distinct impression that these Liberals are asleep in the fast lane. Here they are with the majority. Here they are with the potential to generate some real change in this province. Here they are with the potential to take on the insurance industry and not be its servant any more. Do they use that majority in such a way as to benefit the people of Ontario, the drivers of Ontario, the taxpayers of Ontario, the innocent injured victims? No. Those people are being sold out by these same Liberals, and the price was so modest. That is where the Liberals are in Ontario.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, I am going to start talking about Mr Justice Barr’s comments regarding Bill 68. Now you will recall that I spent some time talking about Mr Justice Haines’s comments regarding Bill 68. The reason I spent time on Mr Justice Haines ‘s comments was because I wanted to illustrate to you and to the members of this Legislature that the issue is so significant and so worthy of debate that this time allocation motion is nothing more than a dismissal of democracy. Indeed, I can tell you that I received some distinct messages from Liberal backbenchers that left me with the impression that they were beginning to have concerns about the direction that their House leader, their Minister of Financial Institutions and their parliamentary assistant was leading them in.
As I told you, Mr Speaker, I had two goals in mind with respect to this time allocation motion. The first goal is to persuade the House leader to withdraw it. That is the honourable thing to do. It is the smart thing to do. The Liberal House leader need only send over a note. We have got pages ready to come to his side; any one of these young people is ready to run to his side so that they can pick up the note from him saying that he would be pleased to stand up and withdraw this motion. I would be pleased to get that message from him.
Because look what has happened: The Liberals have been so frantically fleeing from debate that they have wasted over two weeks now on a discussion of their silly motions, first their time allocation motion and then their time extension motion, which interrupted their time allocation motion. As I have said, that time extension motion is suspended and we are back to time allocation until I get that note from the House leader saying that he is prepared to stand up and withdraw the time allocation motion that he put forward; that would end this stage of the discussion. Then we could start talking about Bill 68. That is what the people in Ontario want us to talk about. They want us to talk about Bill 68. That is what Mr Justice Barr would, I submit, want us to talk about, so that his concerns and his criticism of Bill 68 can be voiced and can be directed to this arrogant majority sitting here. I am going to talk about Mr Justice Barr.
I have some great concerns about this time allocation motion in view of the propaganda that Liberals are distributing. I refer to the Queen’s Park Report, spring 1990, by the Liberal member for Mississauga West. Here it is. The layout, the typesetting is impressive. The problem is he has what is called a special pull-out section that says, “Have your say.” The impression that he would create with his constituents is reflected in the final page of that. It says: “Have your say. If you have concerns or questions that you wish to bring to my attention in regard to the Ontario motorist protection plan” -- that is, Bill 68 -- “please use this space to outline them.”
He conveniently has provided the smallest of spaces. That is okay. But my concern is that this publication by the member for Mississauga West would appear to create the impression that he was interested in eliciting commentary about Bill 68, criticism of Bill 68, critique of Bill 68. Yet his House leader does not want to permit debate over Bill 68.
The concern goes further, because not only is there a less-than-straightforward illusion being generated by this type of stuff -- and I suspect that the member for Mississauga West is not alone among the Liberal ranks -- but there is some commentary about what Bill 68 is about contained in that same householder -- they are called householders; they are distributed to households in his riding, in the riding of Mississauga West -- that cause me even greater concern. I wonder who wrote this stuff.
I am concerned myself with statements like, “Bill 68 will hold down insurance rates.” How can that be? How can the member for Mississauga West tell his constituents that Bill 68 is going to hold down insurance rates when the Minister of Financial Institutions -- the members heard the minister -- said they are going to go up by as much as 50 per cent? There is a contradiction here. The member for Mississauga West says, “Bill 68 will hold down your premiums,” yet the Minister of Financial Institutions says, “Your premiums are going to go up by as much as 50 per cent.” What do you call that, Mr Speaker? I am not sure what to call it, but it sure generates some raised eyebrows, does it not, Mr Speaker?
That is just the beginning. How can the member for Mississauga West say that to his constituents? How can he do that when his own minister contradicts him? How can the member for Mississauga West, minister of something in his own mind, dare tell his constituents that Bill 68 is going to keep their premium rates down when the Minister of Financial Institutions promises -- that is one promise that is going to be kept; you can bank on that, Mr Speaker -- that premium rates are going to go up by as much as 50 per cent?
We know that thousands of people are going to be forced into Facility. Senior citizens, mature, hard-working retired people are going to be forced into Facility with premium rates of thousands of dollars a year. So Bill 68 is not going to hold down premium rates. Bill 68 is going to force them up by as much as 50 per cent. We know that to be true.
Let me run this one past you, Mr Speaker. The member for Mississauga West talks about the right to compensation. The member for Mississauga West says, “In cases of serious injury, when additional compensation may be required, access to the courts will be retained.” The member for Mississauga West says that when you have a serious injury, access to the courts will be retained.
Would the page come up here, please? This page, Brian, if he were the victim of a motor vehicle accident, would receive not a penny in either no-fault or in compensation for pain and suffering, notwithstanding that he might suffer a broken arm, notwithstanding that he might suffer a broken leg or two broken legs or a broken back or a fractured skull or fractured ribs, because under this threshold those are not considered serious injuries.
Brian knows that a broken leg is a pretty serious injury.
Brian knows that a broken back is a pretty serious injury. Brian knows that a fractured skull, fractured ribs or broken arms are pretty serious injuries. Yet Bill 68 says that you cannot be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life if you suffer a broken back or broken legs or broken arms or a fractured skull or if you suffer psychological injuries that render you disabled for the rest of your life. Those do not pass the threshold.
So how is it that the member for Mississauga West can write in this brochure that he distributes to households, to the constituents in his riding, “In cases of serious injury, access to the courts will be retained”? How much more serious do you want than a broken back or broken legs or fractured ribs or a fractured skull? You have to be dead or damn close to it, do you not?
The people of Ontario expect and indeed believe in the right of innocent injured victims to be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. I know that people in the north, people in ridings represented by New Democrats, places like Algoma and Nickel Belt, sincerely believe that innocent injured victims should be compensated for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life. People in Welland-Thorold sincerely believe that. People in Beaches-Woodbine sincerely believe that. Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? People in Mississauga West sincerely believe that too.
How is it that the member for Mississauga West can write to his constituents and say, “In cases of serious injury, when additional compensation may be required, access to the courts will be retained”? Surely to any thinking person a broken leg or a broken arm or fractured ribs or a broken back constitute a serious injury, do they not? Of course they do.
Yet we know that the threshold says, no, those people suffering those types of injuries cannot be compensated for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life. They are forbidden to be compensated even as innocent victims. Innocent injured victims cannot be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life unless they meet that threshold, and that threshold does not admit all the serious injuries, not by a long shot. You have to be dead or damned close to it.
The member for Mississauga West says that those found to be criminally responsible for accidents will not receive income replacement benefits. I had to read that twice. The member for Mississauga West is a Liberal. He is far closer to the Minister of Financial Institutions than any of us in the opposition ranks are, and good for him.
But how could the member for Mississauga West publish that statement that those found to be criminally responsible for accidents will not receive income replacement benefits when that same member knows, or ought to know, that there are more than a few scenarios wherein drunk drivers will receive more compensation than their innocent injured victims?
Drunk drivers will be getting compensation in Bill 68 in instances where the victim will receive not a penny. That is true. A car thief, under Bill 68, could be treated better than his innocent injured victim. That is true too.
How can the member for Mississauga West write that those found to be criminally responsible for accidents will not receive income replacement benefits? How can he publish that and distribute that to the people of Mississauga West?
Mr Pelissero: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I listened carefully to the member for Welland-Thorold. The rules of debate, 23(h), (i) and (j), state: “Makes allegations against another member.” “Imputes false or unavowed motives to another member.” “Charges another member with uttering a deliberate falsehood.” I would ask you to review the statements made by the member with respect to the member for Mississauga West. Thank you.
The Deputy Speaker: The member will be very careful.
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, once again, I appreciate your guidance and the guidance of the member for -- where was that member from? Lincoln. As I said before, some members make a bigger impression on you than others do. The member for Lincoln speaks up so rarely that I had to refer to you to find out who the heck that guy was.
In any event, he is a Liberal. I would have felt far better if the member for Lincoln had stood up and said, “I want to represent my constituents more than I want to represent the insurance industry”; if the member for Lincoln had stood up and said, “Because of that I am opposed to this time allocation motion, and I want to let you know right now that I am going to vote against it”; if the member for Lincoln had stood up and said: “I am not prepared to sell out little people, working people, seniors, young people, farmworkers. I am not prepared to sell them out for the sake of big profits for big, wealthy, powerful insurance companies.” If he had stood up and said, “Because of that, notwithstanding that my House leader moves time allocation motions, I am going to oppose Bill 68,” I would have felt a whole lot better.
His constituents would have felt even better about it than I would, because they are the people who are going to suffer as a result of, one, the Liberal support of this time allocation motion, and two, this Liberal support for Bill 68. Members heard what Mr Justice Haines called it, did they not, when I read a comment from Mr Justice Haines’s letter to the government?
Mr Justice Haines said that the impression the passage of this legislation is going to create is that the government has sold out the little people, has forsaken the people of Ontario in exchange for big profits for the auto insurance industry, an auto insurance industry that, as we said before, was doing quite fine, thank you.
Mr Philip: Sounds like something Albert Roy said.
Mr Kormos: It was interesting. Again, that is one of the reasons why this time allocation motion is so grossly unacceptable. This time allocation motion must have been conjured up in the most oppressive of minds. One could not even begin to think of the attitude that had to pre-exist the creation of this time allocation motion; the mindset, the perspective, the disregard for fellow humankind that would have generated the preparation of this kind of time allocation motion.
We spent one day, merely one day, in Ottawa hearing opposition. No wonder the Liberals did not want to spend more than one day because it was opposition, opponent, opposition, opponent, opponent, opponent of Bill 68, one after the other after the other after the other. The Liberals were hard pressed to come up with people supporting this legislation, and Lord knows they tried. The Liberals lifted every rock they came across looking for somebody to support Bill 68. They did their very best.
One actor showed up in four different cities under four different guises-the parliamentary assistant, the Liberal member for Guelph, was there-one person showing up under four different guises, four different cities, four different times, because the Liberals were scrambling to find people to support this legislation.
We spent that one brief day in Ottawa, and that is all the Liberals would allow us. The Liberals did not want to spend any more time there because they knew that if they spent more time, there would simply be more opposition articulated to the bill. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale from the New Democratic Party who was with me was able to greet his old friend, Mr Roy, who used to be a Liberal member sitting right here in this Legislature. Now Mr Roy -- I addressed him as Mr Roy because I did not know him well enough to refer to him by his first name, but the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale referred to him by his first name and said, “Good to see you,” and I said, “Good to see you, Mr Roy.” Mr Roy said he is still a Liberal, but he came to tell the Liberals on that general government committee how bad Bill 68 was.
Enough of the lawyers. Look, do not worry about the lawyers. The lawyers are going to make money one way or another. It is a trait they have that cannot be suppressed. But please, worry about taxpayers. Worry about taxpayers who are going to have their pockets picked to the tune of $141 million, perhaps as much as $143 million in the first year alone; tax moneys are going to subsidize an already profitable auto insurance industry. Think about them for a few moments.
Think about the drivers in Ontario who are paying auto insurance premiums that are higher than they have ever been in the history of this province and who are being promised premium increases by as much as 50 per cent. Think about
them. Think about the innocent injured victims who will receive not a penny, in the case of 95 per cent of them, not a penny of compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
I am shocked, Mr Speaker, as I know you are and other members of this Legislature are, by the types of comments contained in the householder distributed by the member for Mississauga West. It is very specifically because of that that it is so important to have a full debate here in the Legislature about Bill 68. One is concerned about how accurate some of the information that has been spread around is.
Surely the opposition is obligated to confront half-truths and possible mistruths. Surely the opposition is obligated to set the record straight when the record has been so seriously distorted. Surely the opposition is obligated to ask the Minister of Financial Institutions or the Liberal member for Guelph, his parliamentary assistant, “How could you let the member for Mississauga West make these kinds of statements in a householder that he has distributed across Mississauga?”
Mr Speaker, in view of the time and notwithstanding that I am mid-thought -- I know I will be able to finish it tomorrow -- I would move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr Kormos, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.