The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
COMMERCIAL RENT PROTECTION
Ms Bryden moved resolution 1:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that huge rent increases year after year are constituting a threat to the competitiveness and survival of retail business in commercial strips serving residential neighbourhoods, the government of Ontario should introduce legislation as soon as possible to regulate the rents for such business establishments in order to provide those businesses with protection from gouging landlords comparable to the protection given to tenants of residential rental premises under the Residential Rent Regulation Act, 1986.
The Deputy Speaker: According to standing order 94(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes to make her presentation.
Ms Bryden: Mr Speaker, I would like to reserve three minutes of my time for rebuttal.
The Deputy Speaker: The member would already have two minutes at the end. You can use all 10 minutes now, if you want, and automatically you will have two minutes at the end.
Ms Bryden: What I am proposing in my resolution is that the principle of tenant protection be extended to occupiers of commercial premises. Rent regulation for commercial tenancies is essential to protect tenants from landlords who consider only what the traffic will bear. We regulate many other aspects of commercial activity to overcome the excesses of the market economy. For example, we try to stop unfair competition, manipulated stock markets, pollution of the environment and lack of health and safety standards.
We have observed how vulnerable operators of small businesses and retail stores on commercial strips are. These businesses provide a variety of essential services to adjacent neighbourhoods. Many of the operators of these businesses have been a part of their community for many years. Others have been newcomers to Canada who have found that opening a variety or milk store gave them a chance to start on the ladder to economic independence. Such people are at the mercy of landlords who consider only what the traffic will bear and ignore the value of location and ongoing goodwill in the community to a retailer. Often the landlord is a remote numbered company or a huge real estate firm with no understanding of the tenants’ need for permanency and specialization to meet local needs.
I do not believe that all commercial landlords are unfair, but when circumstances permit abuses, I believe it is the job of legislators to introduce regulation to prevent that. I have in mind such matters as a maximum allowable annual increase, unless landlords can justify to an independent body that higher increases are needed to maintain the property in good repair.
Standard leases are another potential for legislation to eliminate unfair and unreasonable terms in leases. We also need a system of mediation by independent administrators with experience in the commercial rental field, both as landlords and tenants. We need an adequate appeal tribunal from the decisions of such administrators. We need, first, opening of the books by both parties so the mediation is conducted with all the information on both sides. This is done under residential rent review.
We need a prohibition of the pass-through of extra mortgage costs resulting from flips. We must stop tenants from being forced to pay for building owners speculating in buildings. We need a government which will enforce minimum standards of maintenance as part of a rent regulation law. We must also stop landlords from passing on municipal tax increases to tenants and writing this into their leases. It is unfair for commercial landlords to escape paying their share of municipal costs, since they benefit greatly from the services provided by local governments, police and fire protection, subsidized water and sewer services and things of that nature.
In my resolution I am concentrating first on legislation which would help the group most vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous landlords, those operating on commercial strips in cities. I know there is also serious exploitation of tenants of shopping plaza owners because of the nature of the shared-cost leases they sign, but that is a different kind of lease and it would likely require different legislation to protect those tenants.
Tenants on commercial strips are particularly in need of protection because they lack political instruments to lobby for protective laws. Their businessmen’s associations are often weak. Due to the pressure of operating a small retail establishment or service business for ever-lengthening hours, they have little time to organize or to negotiate jointly with big, distant landlords. Moreover, their needs vary with the type of business, so their efforts at self-regulation of hours and competitive practices are fragmented.
Lack of commercial rent regulation leaves them like tenant farmers in underdeveloped countries, who are little more than slaves of greedy landlords who keep increasing rents. The commercial tenants can only keep afloat by opening for longer and longer hours, sometimes 24 hours a day, and employing more and more members of their immediate family and friends, who often moonlight with other jobs.
Lack of provincial regulation of hours of opening and closing makes their lifestyle very stressful. Around-the-clock operation should be regulated to set minimum rules for protecting the safety of night-time workers. We should not add to our policing problems by allowing one person to mind the till alone in night-time hours.
One area in which tenants on commercial strips and other small businesses might find some help would be to explore co-op ownership of commercial premises on a strip. Then the tenants would be able to control their own rents and costs. They could develop common services for their operations, computerization of payroll, tax payments and inventory control. They could share contracts for cleaning and heating services and purchase of supplies.
The provincial government should be promoting this kind of co-op development and making seed grants available for startup of such co-ops. It could also encourage investors to build new commercial premises to lease to co-ops serving a particular area.
I have put my proposal in the form of a resolution today rather than a bill because I am pioneering in this field. The legislative library research service has checked rent regulation laws across Canada. It has found no province has yet ventured into the field of commercial rent regulation, but there is no reason why Ontario should not lead the way in establishing protection for its residents who are being exploited and have little power to fight back.
The library has found that the city of Berkeley in California had a commercial rent control ordinance on its books from 1982 to 1988. Unfortunately, the California State Legislature in 1988 put a ban on such local legislation. I would hope our government would not do the same if a municipality decided it needed rent regulation. After all, the people on the local scene know the situation and we can learn much from the experience of Berkeley, California.
I will urge the government to undertake a study of the whole question of the need for commercial rent regulation. I am also suggesting that the study report be referred to an all-party committee for public hearings and for the development of recommendations for legislative action in this field.
It is time that a caring society moved away from the law of the jungle to a fair system of rent regulation in both the commercial and the residential field. As my colleagues in the New Democratic Party demonstrated yesterday in the debate they initiated on the defects of the present Residential Rent Regulation Act, the government must go back to the drawing board and bring in genuine rent regulation for both residential tenants and commercial tenants.
Increases of over 100%, which are being allowed under the present Residential Rent Regulation Act, must be outlawed. At the same time we must start looking at the need for regulating commercial tenants. I urge all members of the Legislature to consider this exploratory resolution in which we will all learn from having public hearings on this proposal and then we will get the kind of legislation we need.
Mr Sterling: I think it is kind of ironic that today a member of the New Democratic Party, the member for Beaches-Woodbine -- for whom I have a great deal of respect, who has served this Legislature for a long period of time and who, I understand, is not going to seek re-election next time we are called to the polls -- would bring forward a resolution today to include retail stores in the rent review process, when only yesterday another member of the party with which she is associated, the New Democratic Party, had a resolution in this House condemning the government for the rent review legislation which is in place for residential tenancies, saying that the legislation is not working and that the government should scrap it, should go back to the books and start over again. I find that is a little bit contradictory in terms of what the member is trying to suggest today, that we go beyond residential units and into the business sector in trying to regulate leases between landlords and tenants in that case.
I also can say, in terms of representing our party, that we have a great ideological problem with going into the business community even further than the government is already into the business community. This present government, the Liberal government across the floor, has seen fit to try to introduce more and more regulations around businesses and has introduced more and more taxes for businesses. The employer health tax is the most recent example. They introduced a bill in this House over a year ago which I have been fighting, Bill 149, which wants to tell retailers that they no longer have control over who they allow or do not allow in their stores. They tried to amend the Trespass to Property Act for even the little retail stores which the member for Beaches-Woodbine is talking about today. So I think business at the present time has a bellyful of regulation, a bellyful of government and the last thing it wants, in my view, is another interference by the government into its world.
The other thing which the member is not addressing or not thinking of with regard to this resolution is the fact that commercial leases often have a greater number of other variables than residential leases might have. Normally a residential lease only entails the renting of a particular spot in a building and perhaps the addition of a parking spot. In commercial leases, and particularly strip plazas, it is not uncommon for the landlord to strike a deal relating to a share of profits. It is not uncommon for the landlord to charge for some of the maintenance of the common area; in other words, for instance, asking each tenant in the strip plaza to contribute towards the cost of removing snow in the winter and of taking care of the parking lot during the summer. To try to enter into general regulations to cover all these areas, I would suggest, would be a nightmare in terms of government regulation.
Rent control was brought in in 1975 in this province, during a provincial election, probably hastily conceived, but over the past 15 years when rent control has attempted to protect tenants, I remain to be convinced that it in fact has had that effect over those 15 years. I suggest it would not be the small retailer who would be able to take advantage of increased government regulation, but the larger owners of various shopping malls who could take advantage of any regulations surrounding their particular enterprise.
We have seen this with regard to the residential situation. When the landlord wants to increase the rent, tenants in residential premises get a note which often says, “The government of Ontario has authorized an increase of 6.6% in your rent this year,” or 4.2%, or whatever it is for that particular year. In other words, the landlord uses the government as a crutch to raise the rent.
Quite frankly, right now there is probably a far greater abundance of retail space in the city of Metropolitan Toronto than there are tenants. One need only walk up and down Yonge Street and see virtually every third or fourth store empty at this time. I suggest that if in fact government regulation were involved, those tenants who are occupying stores at the present time would face constant increases, even though at the present time I believe tenants are being offered new leases at lower rents than they enjoyed prior to the renewal.
We have learned, or we hope we have learned from the rest of the world. The rest of the world, and I talk about eastern Europe, is moving away from governments trying to control the economy. Eastern Europe has learned that if government tries to own, control and run business, it does not work. I suggest that the New Democratic Party, as represented perhaps by the member for Beaches-Woodbine -- I expect that it would support her resolution -- is moving in an opposite direction in trying to move more regulation into the business world.
I believe small business must be protected from unscrupulous practices, but I also believe the spirit of business and the whole essence of entrepreneurship requires business persons to make certain decisions and they must live by those decisions. I do not think the entering or the not entering into a lease, the moving of a person’s store, or whether the person decides to sign a five-year lease, a 10-year lease or a two-year lease, should be left up to the government.
I think we will find during the next decade that government will withdraw from as many areas of regulation as it can as the world becomes more complex and we have to deal with more important issues like our environmental issues. We just do not have the time to try to run each and every part of everybody’s lives. By the very essence of business and the people who are in business, they must live and die by some of the decisions they make.
We are satisfied that under the present supply and market system adequate retail space is being provided in Metro Toronto. In fact, probably there is an overabundance of retail space in the Toronto area. That is probably true right across Ontario. I do not think there is any necessity at the present time to interfere in that system, and we as a party would speak most strongly against this kind of move into the regulation of rents for the business sector.
Mr Carrothers: I am pleased to be joining in this debate. I want to indicate at the Outset that I will not be supporting this resolution. I think the member is proposing a solution to a problem that does not exist. To the extent that it may exist, it exists only in some very small portions of the city of Toronto.
My opposition is based, first, on that fact that there is no need for this type of interference in the marketplace; second, as my colleague the member for Carleton has already indicated, I am not sure we could construct a process to control rents in the commercial area; third, and speaking perhaps now in my role as the small business advocate for the province of Ontario, I see no support, even among those whom this resolution is purporting to protect, for this type of interference.
Let me deal with each of those separately. The resolution begins by indicating that the House recognizes that huge rent increases year after year are constituting a threat to retail establishments in commercial plazas in Ontario.
The facts are quite different. The vacancy rate in the Toronto area, if we could use just that as an example, in commercial spaces right now is 8.8%. That is a far cry from the less than 1% that existed in 1975 when rent review was brought in for residential premises. In fact, it is even more interesting that in the downtown Toronto area that vacancy rate may drop to around 3%, but out in the suburban areas of Toronto it then increases above 10%. So as my colleague the member for Carleton has already indicated, there is a great deal of commercial space available; no shortage in the Toronto area.
If we look at the rental increases, since the premise is that there have been huge rent increases, note that in the Toronto area the rent increases have averaged 10%, but if we break that down, again we note that the increases are steeper in downtown Toronto and as you move outwards they get down to 4% or less, less than the rate of inflation.
I can tell members that in my own community I see no shortage of space in our strip plazas for retail establishments. I certainly do not see any shortage as I travel about the province. I think many of the members, if they reflect on their own ridings, will recognize the fact that there does not appear to be any shortage even on that subjective or anecdotal test. I do not think it is appropriate to impose a solution on the entire province of Ontario for a problem that may only exist on certain streets within downtown Toronto.
In addition, I am not sure how you could construct a rent review process for commercial leases. As my colleague the member for Carleton has already indicated, a commercial lease is quite a different animal from a residential lease. A residential lease is a very simple contract: You live in the space and you pay money for being there. Sometimes the only debate is over who is going to mow the lawn, if it is a house, or perhaps who might pay the taxes. But in a commercial lease there is a great deal of variation. You can take a proportion of your profits as rent, as my colleague the member for Carleton has already indicated, you can be paying part of the common expenses of the commercial space or any number of things. I suspect that any creative lawyer or accountant could devise any number of new ways to extract revenue from a commercial tenant and get around any attempt to regulate rents in the manner that we do for residential tenancies.
Because the member seems to be implying that we should start with reviewing rents or controlling rents in commercial strip plazas, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how we would define that, how we would hive out of the commercial marketplace that type of premise on which to construct a review process. I think we all recognize that perhaps at the extremes it is easy to determine what a commercial strip plaza is. Obviously the Toronto-Dominion Bank building is not a strip plaza, and we recognize that the stores that exist on the streets of the member’s riding probably are, but what is a shopping centre? It has most of the facets of a strip plaza, the only difference being that the parking is separated from the stores. What about the shopping plazas that are opening up which have parking right in front of the stores? Are those strip plazas? Are we going to control those? I think it would be very difficult to come up with a definition of precisely what it was you were wanting to control that could not again be got around simply by changing the nature or the design or the structure of the premises.
I mentioned that I do not sense any support in the business community, particularly among the retailers, for this type of move. As I indicated, I am the small business advocate for the province and in that role am often speaking with many small business people around the province, particularly retailers. I have yet to have anyone mention to me the desire for rent controls.
In fact, if we look at the groups that speak for these groups, like for instance the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which purports to have 92,000 members in the small business community, it is on record as opposing any type of rent controls, which includes that in commercial spaces. The Retail Council of Canada and the Retail Merchants Association of Canada, both of which speak for retailers, have no particular position, so they obviously do not even feel there is a problem here. As I have said before, I have not found, except perhaps in the downtown Toronto area, any mention of rents as a problem within our small business community.
As the problem, if it does exist, does seem to be limited to some streets in downtown Toronto, and perhaps particularly it is impacting on stores within the member’s riding, which is a downtown Toronto riding, I would make the observation that commercial spaces and the construction of them are very sensitive to planning and permit-issuing practices of municipalities. Perhaps the difficulty here might be with the city of Toronto itself and the fact that it is not allowing these premises to be created at the rate they need to be. If there is any solution, or if there is a solution for the member’s constituents, it may well lie with some streamlining or some greater level of activity in the city of Toronto itself in order to permit more of these premises to exist in her riding. It seems to me from any indication I have, both looking at the figures across this province, as I have indicated, or speaking to business people across this province, if there is a problem in this area, it is limited to downtown Toronto.
In summary, as I indicated, I will not be supporting this resolution. I do not think there is any need for it. I do not think that, even if you wanted to move into this area, you could construct a review process that would adequately or properly protect commercial tenants. I think there would be too many ways to get around that by virtue of the fact that commercial leases are so varied one from the other.
Finally, I do not sense and have not heard, and if I look at the official positions of the spokespeople for the small business community, particularly the retail community, I do not see any support or demand for this type of move in the province of Ontario. For all of those reasons, I will not be supporting this resolution.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am pleased to stand in support of my colleague’s resolution before the Legislature today.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine has distinguished herself over the years in her fighting for the interests of those constituents in her riding and for those constituents across the province who are facing difficulties in facing up to the powerful interests of government and the private sector.
In this case, we are looking at the desire to do something about those small family-operated businesses that have been put at a tremendous disadvantage in competing in the marketplace in Ontario in recent years. It used to be that the family-operated corner store was a hallmark of small-town Ontario as well as a vital element of neighbourhoods in the bigger cities, including the city of Toronto. More and more, it has become difficult for the small business, the family-operated business, to survive in today’s marketplace.
Certainly the government has been of little assistance in supporting the small business sector, as the government continues to put its emphasis on the larger corporate enterprises. The relationship between this government, this Liberal government, and the development industry in particular has been well established and has been the subject of serious investigation. Unfortunately, this government has stifled those investigations and in fact brought them to a halt as a result of its mishandling of the Starr investigation, the inadequacies of the terms of reference for that investigation and the resulting Supreme Court decision.
It is incumbent upon this government to look at the treatment of the small business sector by the development industry, and this government’s involvement in supporting the major developers surely must be related to its opposition to this particular resolution.
We know that, more and more, the opportunity for small family businesses to be able to exist in Ontario is dependent upon their being able to contract with the kinds of commercial strip operations on streets and neighbourhoods of the larger communities that this resolution addresses. The type of monopoly situation that individual developers are able to obtain in a given neighbourhood by buying up the commercial space and then forcing tenants to be subject to negotiation in a David and Goliath type of relationship surely leaves those family businesses vulnerable.
The member has not presented here a detailed package of legislation, but instead has proposed, I think very wisely at this point, a resolution which would state the intent of this House that such legislation should come forward and this government should be embarking on a process to ensure that family-operated businesses have the opportunity to get fair and reasonable access to rental space and that the government of Ontario step in to regulate those operations so that the treatment of the family-operated business would be a fair one in the marketplace.
We do regulate as a province many aspects of commercial activity to overcome the excesses of the market economy. There are regulations even on larger businesses when one looks at the stock market. We have regulations on health and safety. We have regulations on unfair competition. The one group that lacks the power to negotiate fairly is the smaller retailers on small commercial strips. They are very often at the mercy of their landlords, who can charge exorbitant rates, and they are left vulnerable when new lease agreements come up.
When a family-operated business has established itself in an area and has developed a reputation and a clientele, surely it is not fair that the landlord should be able to arbitrarily increase those rents at the end of a lease to exorbitant levels and take away all opportunity for that family to be able to operate a business that would be profitable and enable them to support themselves in the business that they have developed over the years.
Unfortunately, when it comes to small business operations, this government has not provided the support that it should have. We still have effective tax rates which are much higher for the small business sector than for large corporations. We have had a government that has done nothing about the most serious problem facing small business, and that is the current high interest rate policy and the general mistreatment of the small business sector by our large banks here in Canada.
Surely this is an area where some government regulation should come forward that would be to the benefit of family-oriented businesses and would give them the opportunity to continue to operate in the interests of local communities, providing services that they have over the years, and give the opportunity for new immigrants particularly coming into various areas of the province who have had experience in operating their own family enterprises elsewhere to bring that experience and be able to enter into their own operations, start up their own businesses and provide new services in communities right across this province.
I would ask members of this Legislature to look very closely at what has been proposed here. Surely we can support some government regulation that will provide some protection for this vital small business community.
Mr Charlton: The government members here today seem to be much like the Treasurer and the Minister of Revenue and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology -- with their eyes closed.
We have reached a stage in Ontario where we have to decide what we want our future to be. Each of us who grew up in this province has watched the nature of small business in this province change dramatically over the course of the last 30 years. If what we want is to eventually see the virtual death and disappearance of truly independent small business, if what we want to see is the total, absolute domination of the small business sector by chains and franchises, then we can continue to keep our eyes closed. We can continue to keep our heads in the sand and ignore the problems that exist out there in the small business community.
This resolution by the member for Beaches-Woodbine is about independent small business. It is about, as has been suggested, strip stores, strip malls, commercial streets, if you like, like College Street here or like Concession Street in my own riding in Hamilton.
On streets like that, you see cycles of real estate activity, the same as we do throughout the rest of the real estate market. You see speculation occur. You see down cycles when the street is not very popular. You see upgrades occur. Some businesses survive those cycles; others do not.
Usually those that survive the down cycles are those small businesses that not only attract customers from outside the community but those small businesses that genuinely serve the community where that commercial street exists. They are the ones that survive the down cycles when that street is not a very popular commercial area. But those are the very same small businesses that get gobbled up as a result of real estate speculation and dramatic rent increases as a result of the rehabilitation of a commercial area.
We often hear comments when the government is announcing particular programs to assist small business about the high rate of business failure for small businesses. It is interesting, though, that we do not have any significant studies of the real causes of those business failures, and if you sit down and spend some time talking, as I have over the course of the last couple of years, to businesses that are closing, especially in strip situations like the ones dealt with in this resolution, you find that although it may not be the total cause, in many cases significant rent increases as the result of the redevelopment of an area, regardless of whether there has been a redevelopment of a particular property or not, often play a major part in the business closing.
As I suggested when I started my comments, we in this province can either keep our heads in the sand and ignore what is happening to truly independent small business in Ontario, or we can start to do some of the things that really support independent small business. If we really want to choose to have nothing left in the small business sector but chains and franchises, if we truly do not appreciate anything that is really independent, so be it, but let’s stand up and say so instead of saying we support the small, independent family business but ignoring the plight of those businesses and ensuring their eventual demise.
This resolution is just a small part of an attempt to start dealing with the questions that affect those who in the small business sector represent those comparable to the poor and the unfortunate we try to deal with in the housing sector when we talk about rent review or rent control and when we talk about affordable housing and non-profit housing. The truly family-operated small independent business is the small business at the low end of the economic ladder, and we have to either decide we have given up on any future for them, which I am not prepared yet to do, or start to sit down and look at the things that seriously impact on them, like uncontrolled rent increases, and attempt to deal with the questions that will help those businesses survive.
I hope that members will support this resolution. As my colleague from Sault Ste Marie said, it is a resolution that expresses the intent of this House to try to assist small independent business around the question of rent and we would like to see the passage of this resolution so that there can be some work done on this problem by the government, an area around which it has never done any serious work or analysis to determine the true and full extent of the impact that rents have on small business.
Mr Velshi: I was not scheduled to be speaking here today, but I thought, given the extra time that is available, I might as well put my two cents’ worth into the debate.
At the outset, I have to say that I am opposed to this resolution. The only thing I like about this resolution is that yesterday the opposition party spent half a day speaking against the rent review process that is in place in Ontario, how bad it was and how terrible it was.
Mr Dietsch: That was yesterday.
Mr Velshi: That was yesterday. But today the member for Beaches-Woodbine states in her resolution that we should provide small businesses with “protection from gouging landlords comparable to the protection given to tenants of residential rental premises under the Residential Rent Regulation Act, 1986.” Perhaps that is the only thing I can agree with here in this resolution, that the residential rent act is doing something good, and I think the NDP members have to accept that.
One problem is that the member for Beaches-Woodbines seems to feel that Toronto is the centre of the universe, that everything that is happening here happens everywhere else. Toronto is not even the centre of Ontario, if I may say so. If you look at the smaller towns and villages in Ontario, drive by and it is really depressing to see that in every block of shops there are three or four stores that are vacant with “To Rent” signs on them. When you look at the strip plazas in these little towns -- most of these strip plazas do not have large Eaton Centres in smaller towns and in cities across this province -- at the end of one strip plaza you probably have a large anchor store, the Dominion type of a store. If we give protection to these tenants, is the member for Beaches-Woodbine suggesting that we give protection to these large anchor stores, the very stores that they have been fighting against in terms of price increases of food stuffs?
I think it would be a mistake even to discuss this question of protecting the tenants of smaller stores, because the only places where we have larger stores in strip plazas are out of the main centres of Ontario, of Toronto. We would be protecting those very same people whom she is planning on not protecting for the rest of the time that she is here.
I say that even in Kingston, a fairly large city, you drive through the town and you find empty stores there. So whom are we trying to protect there? Even the landlords in the smaller places are not big, big landlords like we have in Metro Toronto. They are small, family people also.
I think it is important to know that everything that happens in Metro Toronto is not what happens in the smaller areas of Ontario. Quite often I see members from the opposition parties standing up talking about northern Ontario and eastern Ontario not getting sufficient support from us. Here, the very thing that the member for Beaches-Woodbine is trying to do is going to negate the very statements they make in terms of supporting the north and eastern Ontario. For that reason, I think perhaps the member for Beaches-Woodbine should think twice before bringing in such a resolution, which is going to hurt the very people that she intends protecting.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Casting my eyes about and seeing no further participation in the debate, I would like to bring all members’ attention to the fact that the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine has approximately a minute left of her party’s allocation of time, her own two minutes for windup comments, plus a further -- I look to the table -- five minutes approximately left in terms of what has been accumulated between the third party and the governing party. That being the case, do I have unanimous consent to allow the honourable member to use up all the necessary time until the next order of business?
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine, then, until approximately 11 o’clock.
Ms Bryden: I thank the other members for giving unanimous consent to enable me to use the remaining time. Since each of the other parties was able to find only one speaker, I am surprised that they reject the guts of my resolution, which is that we should have a study of the question and find out whether there really is a problem out there and whether small business is suffering from abuses.
I have certainly heard of many cases where small businesses were forced out of their long-term locations, either by the increases in rent, the combination of increases in rent and passing on taxes or the failure to maintain adequate maintenance to keep the building operational. But we do not really know what the situation is, and that is all I am asking for, a study by an all-party committee with public hearings to find out where the problems are.
I know there are abuses. As I say, I have met retailers and small businesses, not only on the Danforth but in all parts of my riding, with problems of this sort, being forced out of locations that have been not only permanent, in the sense that they built up a community business, but have also suited the particular special needs of that community.
What is wrong with the members who have spoken finding out about this situation is that all of the three who spoke against this cited only hearsay, as to there was no problem. They were burying their heads in the sand, saying there is no problem. They have not looked. I think this is the reason why we should recommend to the government that it go ahead and find out what the abuses are and look at its obligation to see that those abuses are eliminated.
We all know that it is a David and Goliath situation in most rent negotiations between landlords and tenants, that there is no mediation service for commercial tenants and that they are simply at the mercy of the landlords. The landlords are often remote people. They are numbered companies, they are high-priced real estate agencies with multitudes of properties throughout the city and managers to try to get the greatest amount of money out of the tenants. They know the tenants are weak and they know that, even though there are vacant stores, they are not suitable for a business that has been there for many years carrying on its service to the community. It is really a question of protecting many small businesses and retailers who are located in cities mainly, trying to service neighbourhoods and trying to carry on the activities that those neighbourhoods really cherish.
I feel that the speakers from the other parties are showing their ignorance of the problem and are not willing to have public hearings and an all-party committee to get recommendations from the people who are affected so that we can decide whether this is a subject for a government to consider regulating commercial rent.
Some of the members have mentioned that yesterday’s debate in the House on the New Democratic Party opposition day motion was on the subject of residential rent review. We were criticizing that the present residential rent review has many, many defects in it. Actually, it is a product of both the Conservative and Liberal governments, arrived at after a long series of discussions and meetings between the landlords, tenants and other groups. But we have had three years’ experience with it now -- it came in in 1986 -- and we have found that it is absolutely not the answer to residential rent regulation in this province. That is why we made it the subject of an opposition day motion and debated it all afternoon yesterday.
I will say that our party voted against that 1986 act for residential rent regulation because we felt it was inadequate then, that it was too loaded in the sense of favouring the landlords over the tenants. History has proved, in the last three years, that it is loaded for landlords and against tenants. It still allows the pass-through of mortgage costs when a flip occurs over a very short period. Then when that period is up, there may be another flip, and again there will be a big change in mortgage and other costs and there will be additional costs loaded on to the existing tenants.
Then if the landlord decides he wants to renovate, as he is allowed to do under the present act with no restriction on how much renovation he can decide he should put in, and with no restriction on how much tenants should pay for those renovations or how quickly he should be able to charge them through, and no definition of really what a renovation is, we found that landlords are just driving trucks through the present act.
I am not advocating that the present Residential Rent Regulation Act be a model for commercial rent regulation. I am suggesting that we need a committee to find out what is the proper model and that we need action by the existing Liberal government to show that it is aware there are abuses in the residential field and that it is ready to clean up that act and bring in new legislation in the residential field as well.
They must amend the legislation that has been allowing increases to landlords of over 100 per cent, sometimes 200 per cent. This is simply no protection to tenants. They must stop requiring tenants to pay for renovations they do not want, and they must prevent tenants from paying over and over again for new renovations or being forced out by the increases in their rents resulting from the extra costs of unwanted renovations.
We found that there is a great need for definitions in the new residential act and that the appeal process is inadequate. Many tenants’ groups have organized, hired lawyers and tried to make their case as to why they should be allowed to have a cap put on any increases. There already is, we know, an allowable increase each year. It was 4.7% last year, I think, or maybe 4.6%, but that allowable increase should be our form of rent regulation. It has been arrived at by the ministry as a reasonable increase in costs, on the average, that the market seems to indicate, but it has been entirely ignored by the action of landlords in using those clauses in the act where they can pass through costs that should not be passed through, because those costs arise mainly from land speculation.
The tenants also should be protected from huge increases in rents because there is no other place for most of them to go. ‘That is due to the actions Of the landlords in flipping buildings, attempting to renovate buildings or attempting to get vacant possession of buildings, often by very unscrupulous and sometimes illegal activities. It used to be known as blockbusting and now it appears to be apartment-vacating tactics.
Certainly I am not condoning the present Residential Rent Regulation Act, even though it is mentioned in my resolution as the present situation. What I am saying is that we need to look at new legislation for both residential and commercial tenancies and that we also need to study the question. I am really shocked that the members of this House are not prepared to consider a study, that they say, “We don’t know if it’s a problem anywhere except Metropolitan Toronto.” We had speakers from our party, from Sault Ste Marie and from Hamilton, who know the same problems are existing there, the same exploitation of commercial tenants.
In my own riding l had a non-profit advocacy group for Italian-speaking residents -- there are a good number of them in my riding -- which had operated in the same premises, providing counsel on workers’ compensation, pensions, disabilities, taxes and all that sort of thing for Italian-speaking people. They were forced out of their Danforth Avenue location, where they had been for many years, by a two-month notice of a tripling of their rent. It took them six months to find another place to move to. They had to put their furniture into storage and suspend operations. They finally found a place with double the rent that they were paying before, or more than double, but there is no other place they can find if they wish to keep on operating. At the same time, their grants from the bodies that support them -- city, Metro, federal and provincial grants for a very valuable service to the Italian-speaking community -- have not been increased to allow for the three-time increase in their rent anywhere in the area that they serve.
We are hurting non-profit groups like that. We are hurting small businesses that have been in the area for years and have performed a very important function in those areas and provide variety for people who shop.
CONSTRUCTION SITE WASHROOM FACILITIES
Ms Oddie Munro moved resolution 43:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that the current practice of the construction industry regarding the provision of sanitary and toilet facilities for construction workers is outdated, the Ministry of Labour should make appropriate amendments to regulation 691 of RRO 1980 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to upgrade the minimum requirements for sanitary and toilet facilities on construction sites, and in particular should amend the regulations to require employers to provide flush toilets and hand-washing facilities (including soap and running water) at all construction sites and to provide separate facilities for each sex at sites where mate and female workers are present.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to advise the member that she has allocated to her an X amount of time, of which she might want to reserve some portion besides the two minutes available to her for winding up.
Ms Oddie Munro: To the viewing audience, and perhaps to some members of the Legislature, it may come as a shock to learn that in one of the largest revenue-generating and employment sectors in this province, the construction sector, workers are being denied the basic right accorded workers in other sectors: the right to provision of appropriate minimum requirement for washroom facilities, the right to running hot and cold water, the right to flush toilets, the right to soap, the right to separated and protected units based on accepted hygiene and operating practices and including the provision for separate facilities for men and women.
The needed legislative provision is within the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as an amendment to regulation 691 of RRO 1980 with section 89 recognized as being a minimal standard.
The struggle to obtain provisions has been on the agenda of the building trades for many years, most notably following the introduction of RRO 1980. The originator of formal recommendations from a local union to the provincial Ministry of Labour was in fact the Hamilton-Brantford Ontario Building and Construction Trades council. In a letter dated 10 March 1987 to the then Minister of Labour, Fred Wilson, business manager, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local 67, Hamilton, speaking on behalf of the Hamilton-Brantford building trades council, detailed concerns for the health of construction workers occasioned by the use of outdated sanitary facilities, including lack of washup facilities. In that letter he requested an investigative visit of a major construction site to view first hand existing and substandard facilities.
This visit, by a medical consultant of the ministry, took place in April 1987 at the request of construction health and safety branch. Advice on this report included comments confirming the possible spread of enteric pathogens and the need for appropriate hygiene, including soap and running water, and the observation that such minimal standards were not available. An observation that the site in question was not satisfactory in terms of cleanliness and sanitary conditions followed.
Similar informal actions were taken by the trades in the Brantford-Hamilton area during 1988. On 25 February 1989, the health and sanitation committee of the Hamilton-Brantford Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council, chaired by Mr Wilson, submitted to the Hamilton-Brantford construction trades annual meeting a resolution that the council approach the Hamilton-Wentworth labour-management health and safety committee to forward its concerns to the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee as they related to washroom facilities and that the labour-management committee lobby the provincial government to amend section 89 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act regulation for construction projects.
Detailed guidelines governing the number of units per workers, requirements for flush toilets, wash basins, urinals, separate facilities, access to work site, protection of the worker, lighting, toilet paper, disinfectant, toilet seat and covers, heat and ventilation were also included. In addition, where workplace hazardous materials information system class products were used washroom facilities meeting the requirements of the applicable material safety data sheets were to be provided.
This resolution was passed unanimously during the 1988 and 1989 annual meeting. Such resolutions were subsequently submitted and passed at the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario annual meetings.
The Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee, a joint committee, in consultation with the construction health and safety branch, Ministry of Labour, has been in receipt of the resolution and proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regs since that time and is currently working on a proposed amendment and guideline.
Labour, management and the Ministry of Labour all feel that it is timely, given the major reform in Bill 208, to include such amendments under that legislation. However, there has been some concern expressed by management, consisting of employer representatives and members of the construction associations of Ontario, that the amendment for universal minimum requirements may not be practicable given the wide range of construction sectors, differences in size of project, location, labour movement, specialization and diversification. I certainly urge the committee to work towards speedy resolution so that it in fact can be incorporated in legislation brought to the House.
With us today in the member’s east gallery is Tom Casey, business manager of the Hamilton-Brantford building trades council, and Fred Wilson, vice-president of council and business manager, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Hamilton. Their presence here today during a time of provincial labour negotiations in the construction building trades is testimony to the importance of this resolution, which I acknowledge as having been framed with their consultation and advice.
As an aside, I should also mention that the building trades have included in their collective agreement the amending legislation in process.
Over the years, individual worker complaints have not been treated seriously. They have been regarded as insignificant, as a joke. Equally, arguments against the provision of flush toilets relating to the lack of sanitary sewers to connect to or the competitive nature of the industry reflect a lack of priority and seriousness which can only be resolved through amendment to the legislation. Research and development is scarce, but it does exist.
In contrast, the occupational health and safety regulations for industrial work sites have clearly delineated guidelines. Construction sites, however, do not. Even more ludicrous, construction projects on industrial sites are not even accorded the same conditions and facilities.
Surely in today’s increasingly advanced technological society, with flush toilets being in existence for well over two centuries and with the construction sector responsible for the shape of our cities, roads and waterfront, we should have the know-how to connect already serviced sites to washroom units. Johnny-on-the-Spots on megabuck projects are an example of basic values and knowledge being ignored or denied.
The next time members drive by a construction site they should think about the workers, the seasonal conditions, the spread of disease, the transfer to family members and the possible deaths from accumulated and long-time exposure to unhealthy conditions. They should think about chemical toilets and what we can do about it. For once, let’s see an amendment without Workers’ Compensation Board evidence, without numbers of deaths or chronic illness and without the need for pulling workers off job sites in protest. In short, let’s hope the provincial labour-management amendment speaking to the need is passed in this Legislature.
I know I will run out of time, but I will refer to research evidence. Social mores -- and certainly construction workers are no different than others -- have often felt it not important enough or not macho enough to fight for, given the importance of job retention. The lack of sanitary facilities has become part of what one had to accept. Only recently have trades councils and local unions started to insist that change be made with no recrimination and no prejudice intended, just basic hygiene and health rights, prevention of disease for workers.
The body of evidence and study on the incidence of industrial disease on construction sites, epidemiological impact or acquisition by family members is largely non-existent due to the lack of benchmark cases submitted to and decisions rendered by occupational health and safety committees, industrial disease panels or WCB.
The reasons for this vary, but can be attributed to the heretofore cyclical or seasonal nature of construction, ie, the shorter length of time on a given project versus long-term employment on a single industrial site. In addition, the complex nature and specialization of work on construction sites has made it difficult to track work-relatedness within categories. There are in fact at least 10 clearly distinguishable categories of job sites: industrial, institutional, high-rise and low-rise, commercial, residential, public works, demolition, renovation, diving, tunnelling and work in compressed air environments.
Common sense combined with knowledge of occupational health and safety legislation, public health guidelines, etc, as applied to the food service, hospital, manufacturing, industrial and corporate sector suggest discrimination against construction workers in failing to provide flush toilets and running water, soap, disinfectant, disposable towels, washup facilities and separate facilities for male and female.
In contrast, hygiene in the school setting, in offices, restaurants and homes is stressed and accepted by those involved. Even Dear Abby stresses that washing one’s hands after using rest rooms and before eating is acceptable and done. Mothers constantly and consistently tell their children not to eat food unless they wash their hands and not to touch their mouths or faces or other parts of their bodies if they have an illness. Good old-fashioned soap has proven to be much more effective than chemical wipes.
So research methodology does exist for examining the incidence of disease, as I mentioned before, for the latency, the incubation period and the compound risk factors, such as individuals’ differences in health, immunology, etc, but there is, once again, lack of data. Regulations do not clearly apply and precedents for procedures in filling a claim out for compensation are not yet set. None the less, evidence is accumulated, and I will refer to that after I give other members a chance to speak.
I would urge members to take part in the discussion. I would like to officially recognize the resolution put forward by my colleague the member for Hamilton East and I am sure he will be speaking to the issue. I am looking forward to listening to the suggestions of the House. Again, I am confident and hopeful that the Ministry of Labour and the joint management committee listen to what is going on under this particular hour of business.
Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to rise and speak in support of the resolution that has been moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. I think there are a number of things that should be said.
First off, the labour movement, the construction trades have been pushing for more adequate washroom and toilet facilities for better than 10 years, and they have been pushing hard. It would appear that in the last four to five years they have further stepped up the campaign and have made a number of presentations arguing their case. I know also it has been discussed by the labour-management committee. Indeed, I believe they will be bringing down a number of specific recommendations shortly.
The only fault I have with the resolution of the member for Hamilton Centre is that it is general enough that it will only take minimum improvements in the present standards to comply, to use her words. “To upgrade the minimum requirements for sanitary and toilet facilities on construction sites, and in particular should amend the regulations to require employers to provide flush toilets and hand-washing facilities.”
The one positive improvement in the member’s resolution is the provision of separate facilities at sites where both male and female workers are present. At the moment, that does not include too many sites, according to my information, but I think it is a positive step.
The reason that I obviously liked my own resolution is that it more clearly spelled out the minimum standards that are necessary. It is based on a resolution that was passed at the convention of the building trades and forwarded to me by the provincial building trades council. My resolution, simply stated, says:
“That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that the current regulations covering hygiene on construction sites are outdated and in need of amendment; that requirements for the provision of toilet and washroom facilities should be fully reflected in the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (sections 89 and 90); and that the requirements should be both practical and workable, result in the improvement of job-site working conditions, and hence improve productivity on construction job sites in the province.
“1. The owner-constructor-project manager shall provide toilet and washing facilities on all construction sites in accordance with the following: (a) where there are 15 or more workers on a project for a minimum period of one month, the facilities shall include one flush (non-chemical) toilet and one urinal and one basin; and (b) for each additional 30 workers or part thereof, an additional flush toilet, urinal and washbasin shall be added to facilities.
“2. The costs borne by the owner-constructor-project manager in meeting the responsibilities of sections 89 and 90 cannot be transferred to other subcontractors-forces on the project.
“3. The owner-constructor-project manager shall have the option of providing the necessary facilities via access to facilities existing or adjacent to the work site; via temporary fixed facilities constructed on the site; or via mobile units, conditional on site services being available.”
Before I read the short balance of my particular resolution, I might say that the costs are not exorbitant, according to information I have. The technology has existed for some time. Trailer units with generators, water heaters and up-to-date and comfortable facilities are available and some contractors are already using them. I am told that they are used but I am not sure if it is all sites. Eastern Construction and Foundation are but two examples.
It should also be pointed out that the need for the facilities is only as long as or until they can move to the facilities that may be onsite in the particular construction project. Unfortunately, some major construction outfits are still getting away with the Johnny-on-the-Spots, and even more disgusting, the low-boys, which do not have much favour with workers on construction sites.
I think the balance of my resolution also clearly outlines a more positive direction:
“4. On high-rise projects, the necessary facilities should be made available on every fourth floor.
“5. The toilet facilities provided shall he equipped as follows: (a) within easy access of work sites: (h) built so that the occupant is shielded from view and protected from weather and falling objects; (c) provided with natural or artificial lighting: (d) provided with sufficient toilet paper and disinfectant; (e) kept in a clean and sanitary condition; (f) supplied with toilet seats and covers; (g) heated to a minimum of 18 degrees C; (h) suitably ventilated.
“6. Basins provided shall have as a minimum standard (a) hot and cold running water, (b) soap or hand cleaner, (c) hand towels.”
There is an additional section that I think is vital to this particular resolution:
“90(1). (a) Where WHMIS-class products are present on the job site, washing facilities meeting the requirements of the applicable material safety data sheets shall be provided. (b) If showers (with the exception of safety showers) are required, they shall have as a minimum standard (a) hot and cold running water, (b) soap or hand cleaner, (c) paper towels or individual hand towels.”
I might say that a resolution being passed which would spell out the standards required would be one that I, and I think most construction workers, would be much more comfortable with than a resolution that does little more than say that we want to improve the minimum standards that currently exist.
However, my colleagues and I, as I indicated earlier, will be supporting the resolution of the government member. We have learned, unfortunately, that this government moves very slowly and with tiny steps when it comes to improvements in labour legislation in Ontario.
The question that has to be asked is why they have taken so long on something that could be done so easily, so quickly and really so cheaply. Who has resisted the improvements? Not the workers; that is obvious. They have been better than 10 years pushing for these relatively simple-to-accomplish changes in the facilities that they have on a construction site.
Who then has been the holdup? I might point out that this government itself has also now been in power for five years and that ties in with the accelerated push that has been conducted by the construction industry to try and achieve the facilities that they need.
Finally, and I think this is a real concern of workers, when will the new regulations be in place and will they be enforced? The record of enforcement of this government, whether it is health and safety, employment standards or a number of provisions of the labour legislation in Ontario, is not a good one. Heaven forbid that I even raise it, but should this government be fortunate enough to get a majority in another election, will we even see the legislation and the enforcement? We had a number of other promises that have not been carried through.
Let’s hope that we do see these regulations and I hope that they are adequate and not just an improvement in minimal standards -- coming down, even if they come down as recommendations from the joint labour-management committee, and being put in place, and being put in place before we have an election call. That is the minimum that we hope for in this House, and it is because of that hope and desire that we will be supporting the resolution as it currently exists.
Mr Sterling: I have some difficulty in understanding why a resolution like this has to come to the Legislature for debate during private members’ hour. I would have thought that a decision like this, if economically sound, would have followed the normal course and a regulation would have been passed by the government to improve these kinds of facilities on construction sites.
As a civil engineer who worked on a number of construction sites before returning to school some time ago, I can attest to the problem that is raised by the member, and I suppose it is a serious problem for a number of workers in this province. We in this party have no difficulty in supporting the resolution. Unfortunately, we are not presented with any statistics as to the increased costs that would be incurred in construction in general across the province in providing these facilities.
I am not aware of the technical ability to provide this and the overall trouble with installing these kinds of facilities on construction sites, but I would have thought that kind of information and those facts would have been brought to a committee and that the Ministry of Labour would then take the appropriate action. I just find it hard, when we heading into an election, to understand that this kind of an issue would be at the top of the list for the member for Hamilton Centre. Perhaps it is of more interest in her constituency than it is in mine.
At any rate, I think it is really a matter to be decided not by legislators on this floor, but in fact that a government that is acting responsibly would have taken care of this without having it brought to the floor by one of its own government members.
Mrs O’Neill: I am pleased to rise this morning to participate in the debate on the resolution put forward by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre regarding the provision of sanitary and toilet facilities for construction workers in Ontario, facilities that will ensure that all persons working on construction sites have access to hygienic washroom facilities.
I first became interested in this issue as a result of a letter I received from a very dedicated woman in my riding, Lee Farnworth, who is the co-ordinator of technology and trade programs for women at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Therefore, I am most surprised that the member for Carleton does not find this item of interest in his riding.
I will quote briefly from Ms Farnworth’s letter:
“It is time for improvement to toilet facilities on construction sites. Flush toilets, urinals and washbasins are not unreasonable demands. Indeed, these should be available to all employees in all places of work. Proper locks and regular inspection of toilet facilities would ensure that all who use such facilities could look forward to decent conditions. These are improvements that are timely and will go a long way towards providing a less hostile environment to women entering the construction trades.”
That was the plea of Ms Farnworth. It is my belief and hope that flush toilets and hot water for hand-washing provisions to facilitate personal comfort and privacy should be mandatory on all work sites of Ontario’s workforce.
As well as providing these facilities for hand washing, there is the issue of minimum standards of maintenance and cleanliness. Provisions must be made for maintaining facilities in a sanitary and safe condition at all times.
Although changes of this nature are of benefit to all workers on construction sites, they are particularly relevant to women. Between 1975 and 1985, there was a 64% increase in the number of women in construction work across this province. Women now make up over 10% of those employed in the construction industry. The provision of these facilities on construction sites would require an amendment to section 89 of the regulations for construction projects.
I believe that present-day technology would make it not only possible but indeed uncomplicated to provide vastly improved sanitary facilities throughout Ontario’s construction industry. This practice is not unknown. As Pope John Paul II made his way across our country in 1984, adequate sanitary facilities were established at each site and in fact hospital emergency room environments were in each location, with all facilities for sterilization and intensive lighting, everything necessary for first-class first aid service. The technology is there. What we need now is the political will to use it for the workers of this province.
The will is there. The Ontario women’s directorate and the Ministry of Labour are both concerned about this issue and, as has been mentioned, the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee is at this present moment considering all of these issues. The dialogue between labour and management at this time will hopefully result in amendments to legislation that will provide facilities which address the needs of male and female workers in the construction industry.
At present. the main issue under discussion is the provision of flush toilets and washing facilities on the sites. Whether to have separate toilets for women is an issue that has not yet been addressed. I strongly believe this is an issue that must be addressed. The current practices in the construction industry with regard to provision of sanitary and toilet facilities are clearly outdated. The lack of separate facilities for women creates a less than comfortable and convenient environment, and this tends to prevent women from entering this area of employment.
I believe these issues need to be addressed and I thank the member for Hamilton Centre for bringing for ward her progressive resolution.
Mr Charlton: I too rise in support of the resolution of the member for Hamilton Centre. It concerns me somewhat, though, that the member for Hamilton Centre had to bring the resolution forward in the first place. It also concerns me somewhat that the member’s resolution focuses on raising minimum standards rather than setting out in specific terms the kinds of facilities that are required to provide people working in construction with some basic human hygienic dignity.
I was pleased to hear the member for Ottawa-Rideau in her comments refer to substantially upgrading washroom facilities. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily reflected in this resolution. However, it is time that we moved forward. This government, a government which has been in office for five years, a government which likes to applaud itself for some of the things it claims to have done, has found itself unable to move on something so simple, so basic and so straightforward as proper hygienic toilet facilities on construction sites.
The member for Ottawa-Rideau also focused on the question of separate facilities for men and women. We heard just the other day the Attorney General trying to applaud himself around the pay equity legislation, which resulted from an accord that the Liberal government signed with this party, not from any individual initiative by the Liberal government in Ontario; pay equity legislation, which is as sadly lacking as are the regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act around questions like washroom facilities on construction sites.
But as we move to address, and we are not there yet, the questions of real equality between men and women in the workforce, simple matters like separate washroom facilities become so important both in terms of basic human dignity and as symbols of a real understanding of what it is we are trying to accomplish in the workplaces across this province, whether they be construction sites or industrial plants or offices in office towers.
This resolution we have before us today is one that should be supported, but it is a resolution which reflects a matter that this government should be ashamed of not having addressed over the course of the last five years, a matter which is so simple and basic to human dignity that it is just absolutely unbelievable that we have to be dealing with a simple resolution here, a resolution which, although we likely will all support it today, mandates no one to do anything with regard to improving washroom facilities on construction sites.
It is imperative that the Liberal members who stood in this House to support this resolution and the Liberal members who stand to vote in favour of it today impress on the Minister of Labour and his colleagues in the cabinet that the passage of this resolution by itself means nothing if the cabinet and the government as a whole do not take what the member for the Ottawa-Rideau referred to as the political will that is required to change the regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and make the intent of this resolution a reality for the people who work in the construction industry in the province of Ontario.
The construction trades have been lobbying for changes in this respect for well over 10 years. They have put on major efforts over the course of the last four or five to see basic changes in the availability of and separation of washroom facilities on construction sites, and the government of the Premier has failed to respond.
The member for Hamilton Centre has had to come here with a resolution today because of that failure to listen and respond on the part of the Liberal government of this province. It is time the Liberal members spoke loudly and clearly to the members of the executive council so that we can see regulations in place that will provide decent washroom facilities and separate washroom facilities for men and women on construction sites before this House adjourns at the end of June.
The Deputy Speaker: I have been told that the members of the third party want to donate their time to whoever wants to continue.
Mr Dietsch: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak on the resolution brought forward by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre, a subject which I know she has pursued vigorously. This is also a topic that we heard about when we were travelling the province with the recent public hearings on Bill 208, a bill which seeks to overhaul the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
It is clear, as the resolution states, that there is a need to upgrade and improve the existing regulations. I support the process and approach that was adopted to deal with this matter: labour and management working together to arrive at a satisfactory agreement. This approach is in accord with the tenets of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the amendments to the act which are embodied in Bill 208. I believe it is important to highlight, and I would like to remind members of, those basic tenets of occupational health and safety that the bill is designed to strengthen and enhance.
First, and above all else, the bill provides opportunities for workplace partnership. Together employers and employees are the most effective team we have to improve health and safety on the shop floor, in the office and more particularly on the work site. Second, for this involvement to be meaningful, people must have proper training and education in health and safety practices so they can recognize workplace risks. Next, beyond recognizing risks, people must also be empowered with the rights and the responsibilities so that they can act when they see conditions that place them at risk. Finally, those rights and responsibilities must be exercised in an appropriate manner. The workplace parties must be obliged by the law to ensure responsible behaviour. The system must include elements of accountability. Those are the basic tenets of Bill 208 which apply to the workplace parties.
Bill 208 will establish many more joint health and safety committees in the workplace, and for the first time, joint health and safety committees will be established on construction sites. The establishment of a formal mechanism such as a committee, or in some instances a health and safety representative, will go a long way to ensuring that basic requirements, such as the regulation now before this House, can be acted upon. I am pleased that there has been labour-management co-operation in the matter brought forward by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre.
At a meeting I attended recently the Hamilton-Brantford trades council also raised the issue. In my investigation I have found that officials at the Ministry of Labour are aware of the concerns regarding toilets and washing facilities on construction projects. The ministry has been actively involved with the provincial labour-management health and safety committees and also in consultation with various associations, committees and other industry-related groups in formulating possible alternatives which could be used in the pending amendments to the present construction regulation. It is my hope that we can together bring this quickly to a satisfactory conclusion.
In fact, a draft proposal of an amendment to section 89 of the regulations was presented to the provincial labour-management committee yesterday, 2 May. It addresses two of the major concerns raised in the resolution by the member for Hamilton Centre, flush toilets and washing facilities. It is only through the continued process of labour and management working cooperatively together, as exemplified in the principles of Bill 208, that we will be able to continue to make improvements in the workplace, and that, I think, is a goal we can all work towards.
I know this issue has been on the table for a considerable period of time. I also know that the member for Hamilton Centre has vigorously pursued this avenue of settlement for this very important issue. I urge the members of this House to support her about this plight, to bring about healthier, safer workplaces and a better working relationship with those in the construction industry.
Mr Fleet: I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise in support of this resolution and to congratulate the member for Hamilton Centre on her efforts in bringing this forward. I know it is a matter where people who have not had experience or have not had a chance to have some kind of contact with people in the construction industry might well not appreciate fully the importance of this resolution.
I had the benefit of sitting on the standing committee on resources development when we had Bill 208 before us to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as my colleague the member for St Catharines-Brock has been relating. I was particularly moved by a number of the presentations that were made by workers about the conditions they had, and not only by the lack of sanitary facilities in places where there were some kind of facilities. I remember particularly in a mining situation that calling it a facility was being generous because it was really not usable in my view at all. In construction sites, there was the complete absence and the very practical daily difficulty this produces for workers. It is not only unfair. It is simply unnecessary.
In an ideal world, we would be able to provide and we should almost always be able to provide flush toilets and hot water for employees in the construction industry. I tried to imagine in what circumstances that might not be possible. Is there any? There may be some where it would be difficult, I thought. Perhaps in the case of constructing a road, it may be very difficult for an employer to provide a traditional flush toilet and running water, but even in that area, I understand that it is possible to rent commercially portable toilet units that have a washbasin with water in a holding tank so that you can still, in a very practical, economical way, provide for a hand-washing facility. It should simply be mandatory at all sites.
Certainly flush toilets and hot water should be mandatory in any places where they can at all reasonably be provided. Again I stress that in the vast majority of cases, it seems to me this would be the case in an economical way. It is a reasonable health standard, as well as a sense of a safety standard that we ought to be concerned about. Certainly the related aspect of sanitary conditions is important and the regulations must be kept up-to-date to ensure we are doing the utmost to make sure that people are operating in safe and healthy workplaces.
There is of course another very important aspect to this resolution that I think would be important to every member of this Legislature and to all the people who are watching or who may read of this debate; that is, the focus the member has placed, quite properly, on ensuring that facilities are available in a fair and equal way to both men and women. Of course, some years ago there were not many women who were working in the construction industry on job sites. That has changed. It is important that we note not only the fact that changes have been taking place, but that this kind of change is a desirable change, that there are not limits to what kinds of work women can do.
It is a non-traditional job category without question, but the members and the public might be surprised to know that there are now some 28,000 women employed in the construction industry in Ontario. It is up dramatically. As we have heard from another of my colleagues, the member for Ottawa-Rideau, the number of women in construction is up some 64% between 1975 and 1985.
Increasingly, if we are to make sure women have the ability to enjoy freedom of occupation in a sense, the ability to be employed wherever they have the interest and the ability to perform, which in essence is in all fields, then we have to make sure that we are going to amend the other kinds of regulations that impact on the way they carry out their work.
There was a settlement reached in 1988 involving a female worker for Stelco and it dealt with the question of providing a washroom facility in an industrial setting. It was a settlement that was worked out through the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I understand that in that case the woman had to walk a long way to a washroom in a trailer. Her male co-workers had facilities that were onsite. The length of time that it took her placed her in an impossible position because it put her in contravention with the provisions of the Operating Engineers Act, which she was obliged to comply with. The commission said, and ultimately in the settlement Stelco acknowledged that it simply was not an acceptable arrangement.
It is time now to acknowledge the steps that have been taken by my colleague and to say we want to expand into the construction site situation and to note as well that women are entitled to be free of harassment and to have equal facilities.
The Deputy Speaker: I note there are 11 minutes and some time left from the third party to be used up by members. What is the wish of the House? Do any members wish to speak?
Does the member for Hamilton Centre request that time? Is there agreement of the House? Agreed.
Ms Oddie Munro: I certainly have appreciated listening to the responses and concerns expressed by various speakers. I would like to take the time allotted to me to focus on details of the resolutions and recommendations put forward by the Hamilton-Brantford, Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council. I think that was one of the concerns. I referred to it obliquely in my original comments, but because of time could not fill them out. Secondly, I would like to reflect on some of the health data.
As I said earlier, there is a scarcity of evidence from a research and development point on industrial disease in the construction sector. I gave the reasons for some of the hesitation or for people simply not taking it seriously enough.
I would like to read to members comments from Maurice Shapiro as he talks about disease transmittal from failure to clean the hands after defecating or skin diseases relating from poor body cleansing, in which he means a worker not having access to facilities to wash his hands, and the best way in which to wash your hands and clean them is with good old soap and water.
He said: “There are health problems relating to personal hygiene practices that occur in industry exclusively. Such problems are related to ingestion of chemical toxins or disease-producing organisms, and to local skin, conjunctival and mucous membrane inflammation due to sensitivity or direct irritative action of industrial chemicals. Uncleanliness, ie, the lack of access to facilities, is probably the most important predisposing cause of occupational dermatitis. Lack of cleanliness in the working environment exposes the worker to large doses of external irritants. Personal uncleanliness not only does the same, but also permits external irritants to remain in prolonged contact with the skin. Workers wearing or carrying to their homes their dirty work clothes may even cause dermatitis in other members of the family who come in contact with soiled clothes, or even among unsuspecting workers who clean them. Safeguards such as protective creams help, but personal hygiene is a necessity.”
“Where the employee is in a situation to be exposed to toxic materials or corrosive materials, if he is a food handler or a materials handler and then eats, for example, the need for optimum, clean, well-lighted and well-ventilated washing and locker facilities becomes even more imperative.
“From the point of view of protecting the health of the individual employee and minimizing the possibility of his transmitting infection to others, toilet and washroom facilities should be easily cleanable, adequate in size and number, accessible, maintained and fit with the personal hygiene habits of employees in industry, or the industry itself will suffer.”
I would like to respond to the comment from the member for Carleton when he asked why I would bring to the attention of the House the concerns of construction workers for adequate washroom facilities. He may feel better when I tell him that there are 300,000 workers in the province of Ontario who currently are working in conditions that are less than satisfactory, and less than satisfactory when compared with other sectors.
I feel that with even one worker working in those conditions, it is worth while to any member bringing any issue before this House. I also take cognisance of the advice of members of the assembly to ask the Ministry of Labour and the joint management-labour committee to push the amendment forward, so that indeed the minimum requirements of section 89 can be maintained and even upgraded.
When we talk about minimum upgrading or minimum regulations, we mean simply that. What this means in the context of the ongoing discussion currently in place with the joint labour-management committee, hopefully to be put into the amendment, is that indeed other improvements greater than minimal will in fact take place.
I would like to refer to the details that have already been alluded to by the member for Hamilton East and which I referred to in my introductory statement. When we take a look at the 25 February 1989 resolution submitted by the health and sanitation committee to the Ontario building and construction trades, we see that in addition to the resolutions, of which there were two and I mentioned them, in fact the details are worked out, including provisions for every 15 or more workers.
The time period is specified. It also takes into account some of the concerns that separate facilities are provided for each gender, that toilet and washroom facilities be within easy access of working sites and built so that the occupant is shielded from view, with protection from weather and falling objects. They should be provided with natural or artificial lighting, kept in a clean and sanitary condition, supplied with toilet seats and covers, heated to a minimum of 18 degrees Centigrade and suitably ventilated.
Basins also have minimum standards. I suppose ongoing discussion between labour and management will mean those minimum standards will be strictly minimum, hot and cold running water, soap, paper towels or individual hand towels, and if it is felt necessary to have showers on site, they should have hot and cold running water, soap or hand cleaner and paper towels or individual hand towels. Again, there is the provision that where WHMIS-class products are used, washroom facilities meeting the requirements of the applicable materials safety data sheets shall be provided.
That initial document was then picked up and dealt with by the councils, such as the Ontario Pipe Trades Council, which again itemized and extended the individual requirements that would then presumably be taken by employer and employee on individual sites. In addition, the provincial labour-management subcommittee, which the amendments are currently before, has also described and filled out the recommendation. I think the concerns of the member should be assuaged somewhat by knowing that committee is looking at those particular suggestions.
I would just like again to ask members to visualize for one moment the typical construction site. It is summer now and it is hot. On a typical construction site -- I said there probably is not any one, but there are certainly 10 and members could envisage any one of those 10 -- there are probably corrosive materials on the site, building materials, dirt and possible seasonal pollutants. Workers handle equipment, building materials and perhaps hazardous materials with their hands in the majority of cases, since automated techniques are still not wholesalely practical in the building trades industry.
Many of the materials handled are capable of irritating the skin, combining with each other to produce all sorts of irritants. Skin rashes are part of the inherent risk of interacting on the work site. You have the seasonal effects of rain, snow if it is in the winter, and heat, and again you get a period of time where diseases can incubate and where indeed the risk factor has to be tracked.
We are not doing enough in research and development -- that is true -- but I think when you see changes effected in the amendment of the legislation, that allows for the kind of tracking and regulation that is needed. I have heard trade union movement people say over and over again that with the regulations they hold up from time to time when they pull workers off the job sites, on every page and every amendment going through these books of regulations there are dead people.
I would suggest to the members that in the construction industry we do not want to see Workers’ Compensation Board examples. We want to be able to prevent industrial diseases from spreading on construction sites. That is why the amendments before the joint labour committee have taken so long. In this government’s tenure, they have been before that committee for three years. I am informed that indeed progress has been made and has been made not only as a result of that amendment, but as a result of the current review of Bill 208, on the act and regulations by the Ministry of Labour and the industry.
I should bring to the attention of the House that no change is done in a vacuum and no change is done as a result of either my bringing a resolution here or as a result of any one body saying that things need to be changed and are not working. In fact, when the changes are proclaimed, and I am certain they will be, the changes will be the culmination of an extensive consultation process during which the Ministry of Labour sought the views of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee, specific trade labour-management committees, the Construction Safety Association of Ontario, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and other interested parties.
What one realizes when one puts regulations through that are minimal is that indeed an awful lot of other work has to take place at the same time in order that the differences in different construction sectors are realized and that the changes are appropriate and are applicable.
The regulations again being minimal requirements, I am confident that the changes will extend beyond that, but I am also saying that there will be seen to be, and there will be a great deal of work beyond the confines of that amendment in order that specific conditions at specific sites work out. This again requires full co-operation of all the workplace parties at all levels in the construction industry.
I certainly think it is timely that the amendments are placed in juxtaposition with Bill 208 and those amendments, and that it also take place in concert with the formation of safety committees on projects and the inclusion of construction in Bill 208. I believe that when implemented, all of the amendments will promote a joint forum for labour and management to review and rectify workplace health and safety concerns.
I am told that a draft proposal of an amendment to section 89 of the regulations for construction projects was presented yesterday, 2 May 1990, to the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee, addressing some of the major concerns we have talked about today. Again, it will take continued co-operation, but I am confident that with the direction and with the statements of all interested members of the House, the Ministry of Labour and the joint labour-management committee will ensure that amendment moves forward.
I would again like to thank Tom Casey and Mr Wilson for attending on behalf of the Hamilton-Brantford building and construction trades and to recognize that Fred Wilson was the originator of the original amendment that came forward that we are working with today and that the members will see in place tomorrow.
I would also like to thank all the members for their very constructive suggestions and to recognize the way that each one of them came at the particular resolution from a different point of view. There was no duplication, so it seems to me that the resolution is of importance to us. It is certainly of importance to 300,000 workers in Ontario. Each one of those workers has a family, and I can tell members that the greatest day in my life will be to be travelling around the highways and industrial sites and to see less and less Johnny-on-the-Spots and better hooked-up running water facilities. I may even go into the construction industry myself as a trade union person.
I would like to thank the House for what I think has been a very good discussion, and I would like to urge the Ministry of Labour to take account of and be cognizant of it. I thank them also for their co-operation in sponsoring the joint labour-management committee.
COMMERCIAL RENT PROTECTION
The Speaker: Ms Bryden has moved resolution 1.
All those in favour will say “aye.”
All those opposed will say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
We will stand down that vote. I will find out what happens to the next question and then I will call in the members.
CONSTRUCTION SITE WASHROOM FACILITIES
The Speaker: Ms Oddie Munro has moved resolution 43.
Motion agreed to.
COMMERCIAL RENT PROTECTION
The House divided on Ms Bryden’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes -- 12
Allen. Bryden. Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Farnan, Hampton, Laughren. Mackenzie. Martel, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Reville.
Nays -- 29
Carrothers, Cleary, Cooke, D. R., Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fleet, Furlong. Johnson, J. M., Keyes, LeBourdais, Leone, Lipsett, Mahoney, Mancini, Matrundola, McLean, Oddie Munro, Owen, Patten, Ray, M. C., Roberts, Smith, E. J., Sterling, Velshi, Villeneuve.
The House recessed at 1208.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mr Allen: There is talk of tax revolt in Hamilton. With an average potential tax hike of $203.98, after rigorous trimming of budgets by both local councils and the board of education, the city hike will be 4.9%, the region’s hike 7.9% and the board’s hike 18.1%.
The city is furious over the education increase and the city finance committee is recommending for the first time ever that the city not collect the education tax but force the board to do so. This malaise and infighting is more than a local matter.
A letter on my desk from the regional council refers to the “disintegration of the historical partnership between the province of Ontario and the regions and municipalities of this province” and urgently requests a meeting with the minister. The problem began under the Tories and continues under the Liberals.
The Liberals have frozen municipal unconditional grants while costs escalate. The Liberals have failed to pass through municipal expenses in social services for federal payback under the cost-shared arrangements. The Liberals fall far short of 50% responsibility for the Hamilton-Wentworth Conservation Authority. Schools have major asbestos removal costs uncompensated by the Liberals at Queen’s Park.
In 1985 the Liberals promised to pay 60% of education funding and now they pay 40% province-wide, less than the Tories did, and only 28% in Hamilton. If we have a tax revolt in Hamilton, let us revolt against the right government.
PATRICIA STARR INQUIRY
Mr Sterling: I trust the Premier and the Attorney General have been reading the reviews on their response to the Supreme Court ruling on the Starr inquiry. The Attorney General’s interpretation of the ruling has been called “wimpish and wrong, a shameful dive, convenient” and “highly restrictive.” To my knowledge, no one has described the Attorney General’s interpretation as accurate, fairminded or courageous.
There is general agreement that the government botched the inquiry, that “the province blew it in drafting the terms of reference,” that the Premier and the Attorney General “got it dreadfully wrong” and that “the Liberal government of Ontario bungled the inquiry.” There is also the concern that “the issue of government responsibility will never be adequately addressed” and that the government is trying to walk away from “its responsibility to investigate.” It is recognized and accepted by many outside this government that “an inquiry is still needed, and the Premier has a duty to make sure one is held.”
I would be happy to provide the Premier and the Attorney General with copies of these columns and editorials for their scrapbooks. They describe a shameful chapter in the history of this administration because the Starr inquiry was the check on the issue of accountability and credibility of this government. The Premier and the Attorney General have wimped out and the people of this province know it and will not forget it.
Mr Owen: Recently Barrie witnessed the official opening of a community health centre for seniors, To bring about this service required a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication. The main person who spearheaded that campaign was 84-year-old David Smith.
Mr Smith first arrived in the Barrie area in 1937 under a program initiated by the Liberal MPP for that riding at the time, Dr Simpson, who was also Minister of Education. Armed with a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto, David Smith commenced an experimental program as director of a community life training institute and also became the first secretary of the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture. The program was to be a model for adult education at the county level.
In 1946 David Smith journeyed to Saskatchewan, where he was employed in developing adult education programs. UNESCO took advantage of his talents in 1953. His work over a period of years took him into North Africa and Asia in evaluating and promoting various programs of self-help. In 1987 David Smith brought together various leaders in the community and showed that his talents for involving people in meeting their own problems are as sharp today as they were when he first came to Barrie a half a century earlier.
I would ask the Legislature today to acknowledge the bright, the alert, the 84 years young David Smith.
Mr Hampton: The Ministry of Health is making plans to locate three regional pilot diabetes education centres in the province. The education centres are to provide diabetes education to the public as one effective means in combating diabetes. Several urban centres across the province are clamouring to have one of the diabetes education centres located in their region. The centre would, of course, bring jobs, money and status for a city like Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie or Thunder Bay in northern Ontario.
I say that all of this is irrelevant. Cities like Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay already have diabetes programs in place, albeit smaller programs. The programs in these cities are operated by a major hospital or hospitals located within the urban area in connection with the public health and community health programs that are also found there.
When the Ministry of Health decides on the location of a northern Ontario diabetes education centre it should look at one very important fact: The highest incidence of diabetes in Ontario occurs among our native people. A recent Globe and Mail article pointed out that on some reserves one half of the residents older than 45 suffer from diabetes, which can lead to blindness, heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Specific reasons for the higher incidence among native people is not known, but certainly any diabetes centre should be located in an area where this could be looked at.
Mr McCague: It is not often that we are able to put a pricetag on stupidity, but the spending estimates reveal the nearly $20 million that the government will spend keeping an eye on its friends and supporters in the auto insurance industry.
My good friend the member for Leeds-Grenville warned more than two years ago that consumers and taxpayers were going to take it in the neck, that they would pay and pay again for the government’s incoherent policy on auto insurance. Of course, the government tells taxpayers -- who have footed the bill for studies and commissions the government has ignored, for the auto insurance board which the government has scrapped and for the millions of dollars in tax breaks the government has given to the industry -- and it tells consumers, who will not get those promised lower rates, not to worry; they should not worry about an $8.5-million increase in the cost of making a bad idea worse, because the money will be recovered from the industry.
Who will the industry recover the money from, I wonder? Maybe the government thinks insurers will eat the cost in much the same way it thought developers would absorb the cost of new lot levies.
The new automobile insurance commission will become like the rent control system: expensive, inefficient and complex. We can only speculate as to why the Liberals are so anxious to push the taxpayer into a swamp.
Mr Dietsch: Over the past few years traffic has increased dramatically, as has the number of cyclists, ranging from teens to adults, out on the streets with their vehicles, be it for transportation or recreation. With it, the number of injuries and deaths of those between the ages of 14 and 44 have also risen dramatically.
Recognizing that most bicycle safety training programs are geared to children at elementary school level, I, in conjunction with the Niagara Regional Police Force and the Ministry of Transportation, am currently sponsoring a Cycling Safety Week in St Catharines-Brock from 30 April to 6 May, to assist adults and students to drive safely. From 12 noon to 7 pm each day, students, adults and youth from the surrounding residential areas have been targeted to test their safety knowledge and to assist them in avoiding future injuries or tragedy.
At this point in time, I would like to extend my appreciation to Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, Merritton High School, Denis Morris secondary school, Kernahan Park Secondary School and Niagara District Secondary School, many local and Glenridge Plaza merchants, and the Lincoln county public and separate school boards for their tremendous support of this project.
I would also like to applaud the efforts of the Minister of Transportation for his recent amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, which help bicycle drivers become more aware of their responsibilities on the road and the legal implications of their actions. After all, going safely means getting there alive.
THOROLD AND WELLAND STUDENTS
Mr Kormos: A couple of visits that I have had the pleasure of having in classrooms down in Welland and Thorold over the last few weeks, and the most recent one this morning, cause me and force me, compel me, to speak to the members in this assembly about those classrooms.
Mel Dove and the students at Thorold Secondary School -- and I can tell you, Mr Speaker, those students will be with us later this afternoon -- provided some of the most insightful questioning about the motives of this government, the conduct of this government, indeed, the rationale or lack of it, more importantly, that this government has for so many of its programs, so many of which are ineffective when it comes to hard-working people and people in communities like Welland and Thorold.
You are talking about a group of young people at Thorold Secondary School who are not content to merely sit back and be told that things are going to keep on being the way they are. Indeed, these young people at Thorold high school are the types of young people who are going to seize the bull by the horns and provide leadership in their community and indeed in this province.
It is a pleasure to see them here this afternoon, taking a look at the sometimes scandalous things that take place in this very assembly on the part of this Liberal government.
This morning I was with Mrs J. Heinze at Fitch Street school in Welland. Her grade 4 and 5 kids have a better understanding of the needs of this province when it comes to protection of the environment and the future of our air, our water and our land than any member of the Liberal government sitting opposite me. Those kids are to be commended.
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES FARM RADIO NETWORK
Mr Villeneuve: Once again, I would like to draw the attention of members and the public to the work done by the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. This Ontario-based organization provides radio scripts, audio cassettes and other materials to some 700 broadcasters and farming experts in some 100 countries. The material is translated and passed on to the world’s poorest farm families, helping them increase their food supplies and benefit their health in general.
Radio is used because roughly one family in three in the developing world owns a radio. But it should also be pointed out that the farm radio network’s material has been demonstrated in village squares, schools, tea rooms and various other gathering places. In my view, the network is one of the most cost-efficient means to raise living standards and to help the developing world.
This organization does rely on public support and is a registered charity. Ontarians interested in supporting this organization can contact my office for further information. This organization does excellent work in developing countries.
SOVIET THEATRE STUDENTS
Mr Carrothers: In recognizing the spirit of co-operation and openness between countries, I rise today to acknowledge the presence in our galleries of eight Soviet exchange students and their three teachers. They are from the Experimental Association Midnight Multilingual Theatre School in Leningrad.
While in Ontario they are being hosted by Appleby College -- located in my riding -- and escorted during their visit, which will end 12 May, by the international affairs club of the college.
The eight students are attending classes at Appleby College and will be visiting various historical and cultural sites across southern Ontario.
Through this exposure the students will be able to experience Canadian culture first hand. During this brief visit, students and teachers at Appleby College have been fortunate enough to learn something of the Russian language and culture and have acquired a deeper understanding of the Soviet way of life.
Appleby students will also have a chance to experience Soviet life first hand during a reciprocal visit scheduled for later this year.
I am sure all members will join me in welcoming these students to our Legislature during their tour of Ontario over the next few days.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr O’Neil: I am pleased to rise in the Legislature today to provide details of the initiatives relative to the mining and mineral exploration industries announced in last week’s provincial budget.
In the document tabled by my colleague the provincial Treasurer, we have reaffirmed this government’s commitment to the economic development of northern Ontario by announcing an additional $30 million in order to assist prospectors and basic mineral exploration.
We have also announced that the province of Ontario will pursue discussions with the federal government in order to renew the five-year Canada-Ontario mineral development agreement, known as COMDA, which expired on 31 March 1990.
Of this $30-million funding, a total of $25 million will be dedicated to enhance the Ontario prospectors assistance program, known as OPAP, and the Ontario mineral incentive program, known as OMIP.
OPAP, which provides grants to qualified individuals for prospecting, has proved to be a great success. OPAP will continue with its current criteria. However, this government will allocate an additional $1 million a year for the next three years in order to encourage prospecting. This will bring total OPAP funding to $4 million a year.
OMIP, which provides grants to companies and individuals that are carrying out exploration, will receive an additional $6 million in the first year and $8 million per year for the following two years. Grants are equal to 30% of eligible expenses. The maximum allowed for grants will now be doubled to $300,000. Activities such as diamond drilling and some underground exploration expenditures will now be eligible under this program.
Funding under OMIP will be expanded to include marketing studies, laboratory work and pilot plant studies for industrial mineral projects.
This additional funding for OMIP will also help flow-through funded exploration and development companies which have been recently hurt by federal cutbacks. These companies will now be eligible for funding under OMIP.
As well, my ministry is providing $1 million in the first year and $2 million in the following two years for OMIP in the vicinity of selected communities that are facing economic difficulties. Projects undertaken in these communities will receive an enriched OMIP grant. OMIP will refund 50% of eligible expenses, compared with the normal 30%, to a total of $300,000 per individual or company.
I am pleased to announce that Elliot Lake will be the first community designated as eligible for funding under this community-centred program. A map showing the boundaries of the exact area eligible under this program will be published very shortly.
At this point, I would like to thank the member for Algoma-Manitoulin for the great assistance he has been to me and in cabinet in getting this program through.
We have also made a commitment to pursue negotiations with the federal government to renew COMDA. Projects under this agreement have proved very beneficial to the Ontario mining industry.
The initiatives announced today will complement and enhance the many other measures this government has introduced in order to ensure the continued success of the Ontario mining industry into the 1990s and beyond.
The Ontario mining industry contributes nearly $8 billion a year to the Ontario economy and employs more than 80,000 people. The Ontario government is committed to maintaining the strength of that industry and to the economic development and diversification of northern Ontario.
Hon Mr Offer: The safety of the driving public across this province is a concern which we all share. I am pleased to announce today that my ministry has committed a further $1.2 million for the next two years to continue support of the reduce impaired driving everywhere program throughout Ontario. All municipal police forces in the province will be eligible to apply for this additional funding to support their local RIDE initiatives. This funding will keep the RIDE program operating province-wide on a year-round basis.
For the past two years, my ministry has provided municipal forces with funds which were used towards program delivery and to purchase and update existing equipment to operate RIDE. I am pleased to advise the House that in the past two years this funding has allowed 107 forces to participate in the RIDE program. During the first year of the program, over 2.4 million vehicles were screened by OPP and municipal police programs, resulting in over 15,000 12-hour suspensions and almost 10,000 criminal driving offences. This new funding means that street enforcement will be increased in many locations across the province during the next two years.
One of the great strengths of the RIDE program is that it has community roots. It symbolizes the proactive approach being taken in policing. RIDE originated in the city of Etobicoke some 13 years ago. The success of that program and the shared concern of all communities has resulted in the expansion of RIDE throughout the province.
My ministry is proud to support the RIDE program, an initiative that demonstrates a close working partnership between the community and the police who serve it.
The Speaker: Other statements? The Minister of the Environment.
Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is the Minister of the Environment making a statement?
The Speaker: A moment ago I recognized the minister to make a statement.
Mrs Marland: It is just that I do not have a copy.
The Speaker: Are copies available?
Hon Mr Bradley: Yes, they are.
An hon member: They’re on their way.
The Speaker: Would it be permissible for the minister to go ahead?
Mrs Marland: No. I would like the statement. I am not a speed reader.
The Speaker: Do you still want to open it?
Hon Mr Bradley: I want to wait until all the packages are opened.
The Speaker: Order. There is still one missing, I guess. Shall we wait until you open it? Minister.
Hon Mr Bradley: As members know, the stratospheric ozone layer filters out much of the sun’s ultraviolet light before it can reach the surface of the earth. Over the past 20 years, the ozone layer has shrunk by an estimated 3% due to human-made ozone-depleting substances.
Scientists warn that increases in ultraviolet radiation result in more skin cancers and cataracts, reduced crop yields and damage to aquatic life. They estimate that a 3% reduction in stratospheric ozone protection will produce 2,000 additional Canadian skin cancer victims each year.
On 16 February 1989, Ontario became the first province to act to protect the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer by introducing legislation empowering the government to control the use of ozone-destroying substances. The bill was passed and on 1 July 1989 the first provisions came into force banning the use of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in the production of rigid foam packaging as well as most CFC aerosol propellants. In total, these actions reduced Ontario CFC use by an estimated 12%.
Today I am pleased to announce the second wave of CFC reductions. New regulations will phase out by 1993 the use of CFCs in producing rigid foam insulation and flexible foam used in furniture. Schedules for six subcategories each contain interim reductions, resulting in all being banned by 31 December 1993. CFC use as a foam-blowing agent accounts for an estimated 34% of Ontario’s CFC consumption.
Appliances, water heaters, refrigerated vehicles and rail cars are exempt from the rigid foam regulation until substitutes are developed. Reductions beyond those to be achieved in 1992 are contingent upon commercial availability of adequate supplies of substitute materials, as determined by the ministry.
As of 1 July 1990, the use of CFCs will be banned in slurries, which are used in preparing aerosols, as well as home repair kits for domestic refrigerators and automobile air-conditioners. The exemption for CFCs as aerosol propellants for certain drugs and medicines and for insulation foam products will be removed as of 1 July 1990. Slurries, repair kits and aerosol products account for an estimated 7% of Ontario’s CFC consumption.
The capture and recycling of CFCs during maintenance and servicing of automobile and bus air-conditioners and truck and rail car refrigeration units will be required as of 1 July 1991. Steps are also being taken to encourage development of a recycling infrastructure for commercial and institutional air-conditioning and refrigeration systems to capture and recycle CFCs during the servicing of these units.
The government anticipates mandating such recycling in the future, as well as requiring manufacturers and importers of CFCs to use recycled CFCs. In addition, Environment Ontario intends to initiate in the near future a pilot study in the Toronto area to collect and recycle CFCs from discarded refrigerators and freezers. This study will help to identify the best methods for recycling household appliance CFCs.
Ontario is now on track to reduce its use of CFCs and other ozone-destroying substances by more than half in the next few years. I am confident that the pressure the public and the government are placing on industry to get out of the CFC business as soon as possible will result in prompt compliance with these regulations and others which will follow.
Ontario’s CFC phase-out program is designed to complement the international Montreal Protocol agreement, which reduced the production of CFCs by systematically reducing the use of CFCs in our province. The new regulations were formulated in consultation with affected industries and Friends of the Earth, the leading Canadian environmental advocacy group in the field of ozone layer protection. I look forward to the day, as I am sure all members do, when all ozone-depleting substances have been completely eliminated from use.
Mr Laughren: I wish to respond briefly to the Minister of Mines and his statement, which he thinks is going to bail out the Liberal Party all across northern Ontario.
If the minister thinks that $10 million a year in new money for the next three years is going to help his colleagues in northern Ontario, he is very sadly mistaken. How does that minister think northerners feel when one day they hear the Minister of Transportation and the Premier stand in their places and say there is going to be a $5-billion transportation program for Metropolitan Toronto, this area at least, while at the same time northern Ontario is going to receive $30 million, as it has for a number of years through the Ontario heritage fund, and $10 million a year in new funding for mineral exploration?
As far as the town of Elliot Lake is concerned, the minister says there is going to be an extra $1 million or so for all of Ontario for the enriched mineral exploration program and that Elliot Lake is going to get a piece of that action. Does the minister really think that is going to solve the problem in Elliot Lake? Where is his program for those communities that are going to see huge numbers of workers on the streets within the next year? Where is his program for that? That is what we are waiting to hear in northern Ontario.
Mr Kormos: It is just incredible that the Solicitor General would get up today and brag in the manner that he has when police forces across Ontario have been abandoned by this government in terms of this government’s financial responsibilities to those municipalities and those police forces. The transfer of courtroom security to municipal police forces by this government has created financial burdens literally in the millions and millions of dollars for communities large and small across Ontario, financial burdens which are not being compensated by this same government.
For this same government and for this Solicitor General to talk in the manner that he did about the RIDE program is, quite frankly, an embarrassment in view of the fact that this government, but mere weeks ago, liberalized, expanded the guidelines for liquor advertising in this province. This government has invited the liquor companies and the beer manufacturers to peddle their particular substance and their particular drug holusbolus, regardless of age, regardless of background, regardless of station.
This government has similarly persistently ignored the recommendations of people like John Bates from PRIDE, People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere. John Bates and PRIDE have been persistent with this government -- futilely, but persistent -- in trying to impose upon this government some common sense, which it is hardpressed to find for itself, about what it really means to conduct an attack or assault upon drinking driving here in Ontario.
As long as this province continues to ignore John Bates and PRIDE, as long as this government continues to be in the back pocket of the liquor industry, all the RIDE programs in the world are not going to serve to effectively reduce drinking and driving and the mayhem and the murder that is encompassed in that.
Mr Charlton: I would like to take a few moments to respond to the announcement by the Minister of the Environment on CFCs. It is useful that the minister is still slowly moving ahead with regulations, but it is also interesting to note that the only set guidelines in this regulation are the guidelines to which industry has already agreed. Unfortunately, the Minister of the Environment is taking the same approach as his colleague the Minister of Energy in the setting of efficiency standards for appliances in this province. She negotiates the standards with the industry and then imposes them.
This announcement today sends out exactly the wrong message to industry in Ontario. “Reductions beyond those to be achieved in 1992 are contingent upon commercial availability of adequate supplies of substitute materials.” What that says to industry is, “If you don’t spend the money on R and D and you don’t come up with the substitutes, we won’t implement the next step in this regulation.”
The minister also says in his statement they are going to set up a pilot program in Toronto to determine the best way to approach the question of recycling refrigerators in the province, when in fact they already know the most cost-effective way to approach that without having to dialogue with the private sector. They can do it cost-effectively on their own, and what do we get from the minister? A pilot project that is going to set us another 10 years behind in dealing with the problem.
Mr Sterling: I want to respond briefly to the Solicitor General’s announcement on the RIDE program. Of course we are supportive of the RIDE program, having been the government that introduced the RIDE program to this province and indeed crafted the legislation in such a fashion that it could not be attacked by some of the people.
I only say that it is somewhat inconsistent with what has happened in the very recent past. As members may be aware, after a person is caught under the RIDE program and charged with either blowing over 0.08 or impaired driving, it is very difficult to get a conviction in many of the courthouses across this province. That is because there are inadequate resources going to the courts and in convicting these people.
It is very demoralizing for our police forces to charge individuals with drunk driving and not be able to get them before the courts within a reasonable period of time. It is only through good luck that the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the right of the province to drag its feet in bringing these cases to the courts, and hopefully the people who have been caught will be convicted. It seems to us that there is a very deep inconsistency in putting forward money to catch people when there is not enough money to convict people.
Mrs Marland: In responding to the Minister of the Environment on his statement to regulate the reduction of chlorofluorocarbons, if there is one thing this minister is good at, it is recycling his old statements. This statement was made last year. There is nothing new in this statement.
In fact, this minister is not even telling us of any progress as a result of my amendment, which required the research and development for alternatives to commercial air-conditioning by the industry. There is nothing in here that pertains to that.
The only accurate thing in this statement, or anything that is of interest to the public of Ontario, is the reaffirmation about what we are in as a result of the depletion of the ozone layer. Everybody knows that. We know about the incidence of cancer. We know about what it is that we are at risk with.
What we do not know is what this Liberal provincial government is willing to do in a very large way to reduce that damage and therefore the risk to the people who live here.
Hon Mr Bradley: Leading the way.
Mrs Marland: We are talking about an 8% solution to a 100% problem.
I think the fact that we asked this minister to get industry to do research and development for alternatives for the commercial and institutional air-conditioning was very relevant. But a year later we hear, whoopee, they are going to ban CFCs in aerosols etc. but most of the manufacturers of aerosols have not been using CFCs for the last two years.
Mr Villeneuve: Also in the few moments left, in response to the Minister of the Environment, he is addressing the greenhouse effect, the ozone depletion. He has not really addressed one of the largest causes of it that the entire United States has recognized, that the worst offender was MMT as an octane enhancer in automotive fuels. Automotive fuels here in Canada contain MMT. It has to be imported from the United States. It is a cancer-causing agent and is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. It has not been addressed by this minister.
This is really a sad situation when the minister tries to tell us that he is a leader and indeed he is not even a follower of the United States, which has banned MMT many years ago; the city of Denver, for example, a city which has an altitude much higher than most and where the oxygen is much less available.
As an octane enhancer, methanol-ethanol, a home-produced renewable resource, can and -- it is proven -- will reduce the greenhouse effect and will reduce the cancer-causing agents caused by emissions from our automobiles.
The warm weather is coming. The minister will be making statements saying, “Yes, the air pollution in the city of Toronto is much higher,” and he will be telling drivers to leave their cars at home. Well, the minister should look at the real problem. Eliminate MMT. Use ethanol-methanol as the octane enhancer and he will start to be environmentally friendly. Take that advice. It is good.
The Speaker: I would ask all members for their attention for a moment, I would like to inform the members that we have a number of visitors in the Speaker’s gallery today from the Republic of Argentina. They are the governor of the province of Cordoba, His Excellency Dr Angeloz; the national senator for the province of Cordoba, Dr Grosso; the governor of the province of San Luis, His Excellency Dr Rodiquez Saa, and the national senator for the province of San Luis, Dr Britos. We are also pleased to have accompanying this delegation the ambassador of the Argentine Republic, His Excellency Mr Fernandez.
Mr Kormos: The Attorney General will know that back on 2 April of this year I called upon the government to initiate a public inquiry into the horrendous violence and sexual abuse imposed upon young boys at St Joseph’s Training School in Alfred. Since that time we have learned a great deal. We have learned that violence was not restricted to St Joseph’s but that indeed it appears that violence and abuse took place at St John’s Training School in Uxbridge.
As well since that time, we have received some judicial interpretation of the Starr or Houlden inquiry decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, and specifically the interpretation given to us here in Ontario by District Court Judge Colter, who is conducting the Niagara Regional Police Force inquiry. In view of the fact that Judge Colter’s interpretation of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Starr decision is far different from what the Premier and the Attorney General had been telling us up until that time, and indeed would appear to allow the type of inquiry contemplated --
The Speaker: Question.
Mr Kormos: -- in view of all those additional facts and what the Attorney General has now learned, will he now consider calling a public inquiry into the abuse at St John’s and St Joseph’s?
Hon Mr Scott: It is difficult to deal with the question because the premises on which it is based are so clearly erroneous. As the honourable member knows, the decision of Judge Colter was made essentially because the matter of a criminal investigation into the conduct of a police officer -- the chief of police in the region -- had already been completed and a decision had been made not to lay any criminal charges. As I understand Judge Colter’s reason, it was that in light of that there was now no impediment to an inquiry proceeding into the operation of the police department. The Houlden situation is of course entirely different, because in that case there was, at the same time as the inquiry was ongoing, a criminal investigation which, by the way, has now produced a criminal charge.
In the case to which the honourable member refers, I am advised that there is an intensive police investigation going on. Without a grant of immunity to the people who might be accused as a result of that investigation, it would not be possible to conduct a royal commission of inquiry at this time.
Mr Kormos: We know that the government announced its intention to have one Campbell embark upon what will undoubtedly be called the Campbell review. In view of the fact that one Mr Sinclair conducted an exhaustive review back in the 1960s, that the review chronicled and detailed the sexual violence imposed upon young boys at St Joseph’s, the physical violence and terrorism imposed upon inmates and young persons in custody at St Joseph’s, and the fact that the Sinclair report was ignored by ministers, deputy ministers and officials high in the government of the day, how can this Attorney General expect the public of Ontario to believe that Campbell is going to be any more successful at being heeded than was Sinclair, who was ignored thoroughly by high government officials in the 1960s?
Hon Mr Scott: As long ago as four years ago there was a rule that the supplementary had to arise either out of the answer or indeed out of the initial question. This is an entirely different question, which has to do with whether the inquiry which has been directed by the Minister of Community and Social Services to be undertaken by a public servant reporting to him into current safeguards with respect to the risks to children is going to be an appropriate inquiry.
I know the inquiry officer, Joanne Campbell, and she is well known, of course, to many people in the opposition. The honourable member for Riverdale nods his head affirmatively. I think all of us who know her --
Mr Breaugh: I didn’t say I knew her.
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member for Oshawa does not know her, but that is not to her discredit. I think all those who do know the chairman of the Social Assistance Review Board, including my friend’s former colleague Ross McClellan, who used to be vice-chairman of that board, will agree that there are few people in the province better equipped to conduct a thorough, intensive and thoughtful review into current protections for young people than is Joanne Campbell.
Mr Kormos: I have got news for the Attorney General, and that is that this violence and this sexual abuse of children were not restricted to St John’s and St Joseph’s, run by the Christian Brothers. Indeed, the Solicitor General was advised last month of a report of similar abuse, equally horrendous, arising at Beattie House, a boys’ training school in Cobourg, a provincially run institution.
Similarly, the Premier of Ontario is in receipt of a letter from Gerard O’Sullivan, a retired parole and probation officer, who indicates that he advised the present Deputy Premier during the mid-1970s of this type of violence and abuse taking place in our training schools here in Ontario.
There was clearly a coverup of this sexual violence against children in the 1960s. In view of what we know now, the reports back in the mid-1970s to who is now the Deputy Premier, the existence of this misconduct in public, provincially run training schools like the one at Beattie House at Cobourg, what is being covered up by the Liberals now in 1990?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will know, if he reads the papers, that there is an inquiry going on in Newfoundland in which the issue is, why were allegations of abuse of children not brought to the attention of the police and the Attorney General of the day for the purposes of prosecution? That is an important question because it emphasizes that prosecution in respect of criminal offences is what the law not only demands but requires.
I encourage the honourable member, if he has evidence or even suggestions of abusive acts that might amount to criminality, to bring them to my attention or to the Solicitor General’s attention, or indeed to any of my colleagues’ attention, and we will do what we have done in this case, which is to refer the matter to the police to conduct an investigation. A royal commission stands in the way of that process because it can only be conducted by granting immunity to those who might be charged. I am not prepared to grant immunity to people who commit criminal acts of this type. We are going to investigate them and prosecute them if there is evidence.
Mr Reville: My question is not for the Minister of Health; it is for the Minister of the Environment. Two groups, Save the Rouge Valley System and Pickering-Ajax Citizens Together, are concerned that the possible sites they have organized around and the communities they have organized to protect are about to be nominated by the Premier and the five regional chairs as interim landfills.
Mr Faubert: Not the Premier at all.
Mr Reville: Perhaps Gardner Church -- same thing.
Their concern, and my concern, is that the Minister of the Environment will wimp out and allow these to go ahead under a pretend environmental protection approval mechanism rather than an Environmental Assessment Act procedure. We know that in the north a full environmental assessment is required for a small local dump. Why would the minister have a different standard for a major dump in the Metropolitan Toronto area?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member will be aware, any proposal that would be made by the various representatives involved in the greater Toronto area would have to go through an Environmental Assessment Board hearing. At the hearing, the board would hear evidence from those who are in favour -- that is, the proponents -- and those who are opposed. The people who are opposed would have to be funded under the Intervenor Funding Project Act, which was brought in as formal legislation by the Attorney General. They will have the opportunity to make all of their arguments before the board, and the board will render the decision.
Mr Reville: The minister knows that the procedures under the Environmental Protection Act are much less onerous than those under the Environmental Assessment Act. Under the latter procedure, which can be long, onerous and tough, the proponent is obligated to look at alternatives, alternatives that we favour, the alternatives of reduction, reuse and recycling, not just whether or not the environmental circumstances surrounding the particular site can be dealt with.
Why would the minister not indicate now to the House that he is concerned enough about the protection of the environment in all parts of the province to require that before either of these sites is approved, in Whitevale or Rouge River-Beare Road, they be done under a full environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon Mr Bradley: I do not think the member may be as intricately knowledgeable about the Environmental Protection Act as perhaps those who have to deal with it on a daily basis, because if he were, he would recognize that it is an extremely onerous act in itself in that it looks at all of the scientific, technical and environment implications of any proposal that comes before it. If you talk to the lawyers and the experts who have to appear before the Environmental Assessment Board dealing with the Environmental Protection Act, they will tell you it is an extremely onerous act. As I think the member would recognize, the board is an independent board which is used to hearing applications of this kind and would surely not approve of any proposal which would not be environmentally safe.
The sites that are proposed or the particular mechanisms that are proposed would have to meet all of the requirements of a review which takes into consideration all the ministries of the government that could be commenting, other commenting agencies and of course the arguments put forward. They would also have to take into consideration, of course, the fact that the government and the municipalities mentioned are promoting reduction, reuse and recycling.
Mr Reville: Mr Speaker, I am sure you will agree that the intricacy of my knowledge of the EPA is not the issue here. The issue is the commitment of the Minister of the Environment to protect the environment. Pickering-Ajax Citizens Together is convinced that the Whitevale site has adequate capacity to become a permanent dump site, not some kind of interim dump site in which Metropolitan Toronto can get rid of 4.6 million tonnes of garbage but many millions of tonnes more than that. I think that indicates that the much more difficult process of surviving an Environmental Assessment Act procedure is required. Why will the Minister of the Environment not now stop temporizing and bafflegabbing the House and commit himself to requiring that fuller, more detailed, more difficult hearing to protect citizens wherever they are?
Hon Mr Bradley: I think the member would be familiar with the greater Toronto area exercise -- an exercise, by the way, bringing the various regions together to deal with waste management in this way, which was proposed by Richard Gilbert, one of his former colleagues in municipal government. It was a proposal that was brought forward and accepted. The member should know that any long-term site for the GTA -- not the interim site that I think he is making reference to -- is subjected to the Environmental Assessment Act, as you are dealing with years and years beyond that.
I think he would recognize as well that a hearing before the Environmental Assessment Board, with intervenor funding for the opponents and with all of the environmental considerations before the board, is one which is going to render a decision which is environmentally acceptable. I think for the member to suggest that the Environmental Assessment Board would not want to hear all of the arguments put forward and not be in a position to make a decision on whether any site would be environmentally desirable or not would be misguided.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Minister of Housing. The minister knows that in this calendar year the expenditures for housing by his ministry are estimated to be in the range of some $585 million. The minister also knows that, irrespective of the amount of money spent by government on social housing, the only way the problem can be controlled in terms of expenditures and in terms of meeting the needs is for the private sector to be involved as well in that particular industry. Can the minister indicate when he anticipates the private sector will again become involved in constructing rental housing in the province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The actual budget for the Ministry of Housing for this fiscal year is approximately $666 million, which is an increase of about 25% from last year. The honourable member is correct that almost all of that increase -- not all, but almost all -- is going to additional subsidies for various forms of assisted housing. But the honourable member would be aware of the fact, because it has been mentioned in this House before, that there will be some 17,000 starts in assisted housing, and all of those are built by the private sector. As a matter of fact, I get a considerable number of letters and correspondence from the private sector urging me to support non-profit applications from their various municipalities, because they are the ones that are building this.
The second point I would make to the honourable member is that he is well aware of the fact that the private sector in fact is building a considerable amount of rental housing. Because of other potential consequences they are called condominiums, but most of that stuff, in this city at least, is ending up as rental housing. As a matter of fact, I am --
The Speaker: That seems like a fairly complete answer.
Mr Brandt: The minister’s parliamentary assistant indicated that within three years, in all likelihood, the budget for housing would exceed $1 billion. It is anticipated that the housing budget will continue to escalate as the private sector abandons the market here in Ontario. My question to the minister is, how much does he think the people of Ontario can afford, since by his own admission, his budget is escalating year to year by some 25% and yet the more he spends the worse the problem gets? When will the private sector become involved in the housing sector in Ontario to the extent that it can help to solve the problem?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I tried to clearly indicate to him that the private sector is very much involved. I indicated one way in which it is involved. The other way in which the private sector is involved, and again this has been brought to my colleague’s attention, is in the allocation of provincial lands for housing. I have indicated to him that we have six major allocations this year. We had a couple last year. One that I drew to the House’s attention, I believe it was in December, was in the Stoney Creek area, where the private sector is building all the housing; this particular developer-builder is going to establish the prices at the market level. Some 84 of those units are going to be affordable, and I believe the figure was something just under $60,000 per town house unit.
We have already announced that we are going to be beginning the Seaton project just at the north end of the municipality of Pickering. There is going to be housing there for 90,000 people. Most of it will be housing for sale. It will all be built by the private sector. We have a provincial land use policy for housing whereby all new developments must contain 25% affordable housing. It is all built by the private sector. I am not quite sure of the point that my honourable colleague is trying to make.
Mr Brandt: With respect to the point I am trying to make, back in 1984-85 the Housing budget at that time was $188 million. Subsequently, in 1990, the Housing budget is well in excess of $500 million. The estimates by the minister’s own parliamentary assistant indicate that that budget, within three years, will go to in excess of $1 billion, yet we have 40,000 people on waiting lists for subsidized housing in this province and we have 200,000 citizens of our province who are homeless. How is it that the more the government spends the worse the problem gets? Those are the realities, those are the facts.
Hon Mr Scott: I can hardly wait until Ottawa Centre hears this.
Mr Brandt: The government’s policies are failing -- and I wish the Attorney General would keep quiet while we are trying to have a dialogue on this subject.
Hon Mr Scott: That is because I can’t stand it.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Sweeney: Let me just draw to my colleague’s attention that in 1989 the rental starts in Ontario, all built by the private sector, were 14,400, and of those, 10,200 were totally private, over 10,000. If we take ownership starts we have a total of 78,900, for a total of 93,300. That is quite a few. Our best estimate for this year, and of course we will not know, is 84,000.
I can go through all those figures again. I have already mentioned in this House that in the non-profit area Ontario is building more units each year than all of the rest of the country put together. I would expect in the private area you would find figures which would be comparable. In other words --
Mr Brandt: You’ve got Prince Edward Island whipped. We’ll agree with that.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The point is that we are building slightly under 100,000 units --
The Speaker: Order. New question.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. I know that this minister, like myself, has a daughter. I want to raise with the minister the growing fear that women in this province are experiencing. It seems that every day we hear of yet another young woman who has gone missing, and it seems too often that these women are found murdered or abused. Certainly the incident at the Université de Montréal would have given her some warning about what risks we are facing in Ontario.
I know that the minister is aware of a recent poll that indicates over half the women who live in Toronto do not go out at night after dark because they are afraid in their own neighbourhoods. We also know now, with the tragic killing of Lynda Shaw, that women are afraid to drive on our highways at night.
I know that the minister speaks, as I do, for many women in the province and I want to know what she is doing, as the person responsible for women in this province, to alleviate the feeling of terror that is increasingly existing among women today in Ontario.
Hon Mrs Wilson: The honourable member opposite is quite right when she tells us that women do live in fear of assault and women accordingly adjust their daily lives. We are concerned in this government that women should not have to live in fear, that women should feel safe in their own homes, in their workplaces and on the streets of Ontario.
This government is committed to maintaining safe and secure communities for women in this province. In January, I announced new funding of some $28.8 million to address the issue of sexual assault of women, and I believe that those new initiatives will make a difference for women in this province.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I think you will agree that we have a great deal more to do to change the attitudes that lead to abuse and violence against women. With that in mind, I am sure that you will be as shocked as I am at hearing about a so-called self-help cassette tape that is currently being sold in a Toronto bookstore three minutes from here. The tape is designed to counsel through self-hypnosis women who have suffered sexual abuse.
In my opinion, this tape is hate literature. I was personally horrified to hear this so-called therapist advise sexual abuse victims that they are to blame for their abuse. He tells women they must come to terms with the fact that, in effect, they reaped what they sowed.
If people are to take advantage of these vulnerable people, as vulnerable as victims of sexual abuse are -- and it is totally intolerable, as far as we are concerned -- I want to know, now that the minister is aware of this tape in Ontario available everywhere in a bookstore, what she plans to do about it.
Hon Mrs Wilson: Part of our campaign against sexual assault is a prevention and education campaign. Some $1.7 million is going towards dispelling myths about sexual assault.
Often women think the perpetrator is the stranger who leaps from behind dark bushes wearing a balaclava when we know quite well that in most instances victims know the perpetrators of those sexual assaults. Our prevention and education campaign will work with communities across the province to educate the public to the myths and the facts about sexual assault.
I too am disturbed that such a cassette might exist. Although I am not familiar with this one, I am very pleased that the member has brought it to my attention. I will certainly take this matter up with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, where these issues fall. I will take the opportunity to bring that to his attention.
Certainly when we are dealing with sexual assault, we must deal with facts and educate the public that sexual assault is not a woman’s fault. We are dealing here with issues of power and control, the issue of violence against women by men, which has occurred over centuries because of attitudes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Mrs Marland: I sincerely wish that this minister had a little more passion and commitment to the women of this province. I have to tell her that the so-called therapist on this tape talks about a woman he counselled who had been raped by her husband. He says through his counselling he discovered that the woman had been raped in a previous life.
Mrs Marland: These Liberal members who are now interjecting think that all that women have to do is adjust their daily lives. What I am saying to the minister is that the women in this province want this Liberal government to do more than tell them to adjust their daily lives; they want help from the government of this province. All we get are platitudes and repeats of the same statements. We have not seen any changes.
The Speaker: Your question?
Mrs Marland: This tape is an example of horrifying psychology. The very least that this government could have committed to was to remove this kind of stuff from the stores that we know exists in other forms. It is blatant pornography, as a matter of fact.
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mrs Marland: My question is this: In this day and age, when shelters for battered women are having to turn victims away because they cannot meet the demand, when young women are afraid to drive alone at night, as I said previously, in fear of becoming another Lynda Shaw, when incidents of sexual abuse are rising every month, this kind of backward psychology is simply not acceptable. Is the minister prepared to change --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mrs Wilson: This government is firmly committed to addressing the important issue of sexual violence against women. Our new initiative of $28.8 million of new funding presents a five-year, long-term strategy for dealing with those issues. We are dealing with prevention and education, we are dealing with justice initiatives and we are dealing with services to victims. Most of those dollars are going to services to victims.
We are tripling the funding to rape crisis centres across this province, we are providing additional training time for police officers so that they can deal in a sensitive manner, we are providing additional time to crown prosecutors, to victim/witness assistance programs, to forensic kits in hospitals across the province, as well as increased funding to increased numbers of sexual assault care centres in hospitals.
I am confident that these new initiatives, which are addressed in a co-ordinated and comprehensive way, do have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the lives of women in this province.
Mrs Marland: I would be embarrassed to applaud, frankly, any of you.
The Speaker: I allowed the member for Mississauga South 100 seconds for her question.
Mr McLean: Not nearly enough.
The Speaker: Actually, 74. New question.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. This past Saturday morning, while workers were at the dedication of a memorial to injured and dead workers in Hamilton, Peter Casperson, 51 years of age, married, with five children and 24 years of service at Stelco in Hamilton, was killed on the job.
Mr Casperson was electrocuted while working alone. Mr Casperson’s union, United Steelworkers Local 1005, has tried to convince the Ministry of Labour on many previous occasions that this practice of workers working alone is wrong and dangerous. We now see the tragic results.
If this government had enforced the regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 46, regulation 692, Mr Casperson would not have been working alone, without adequate protection or without the power supply having been disconnected. How many more workers must die in this province before this government adequately enforces health and safety legislation’?
Hon Mr Phillips: It is tragic when a worker dies in the workplace, and our sympathies of course go out to the family. I assure the member that our staff is looking thoroughly into the situation, conducting a thorough investigation. As well, I gather the coroner will be investigating. If there were any deviations from our regulations, we will investigate that thoroughly, and if there is action required, we will take action, including prosecution.
As I say, I regret very much the all-too-frequent deaths that occur in our workplaces. Our ministry will investigate thoroughly, and if there have been any violations of our Occupational Health and Safety Act, we will take the appropriate measures.
Mr Mackenzie: Words are cheap; it is enforcement that we need. The last fatality at Stelco in Hamilton was Lucien Buello, who was killed while operating a crane on 5 June 1988. The inquest into his death has just been set for September 1990, 26 months after his death.
The Steelworkers union at Stelco and unionists across Ontario have long demanded mandatory inquests in all industrial deaths, as currently exist in mining fatalities. No inquest date has, of course, been set as yet in Mr Casperson’s case, but the question is, when will it be called? Will it take another 26 months, as it did in Mr Buello’s case? Is it not now time to require mandatory inquests within a set period of time in all industrial deaths in the province?
Hon Mr Phillips: The important matter is that each of these situations be thoroughly investigated, that all the facts come out and, if an inquest is necessary, that the coroner call that inquest. I think what is important for all of us is that the situation be thoroughly investigated and, if charges are necessary, that they be laid.
I will assure the members of the House once again that our ministry will investigate it thoroughly. As well, I am sure, if an inquest is necessary, the coroner will call that. If charges are necessary after our investigation, we would lay those charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
MUNICIPAL ELECTION INVESTIGATION
Mr McLean: My question is for the Solicitor General. It concerns his handling of the OPP investigation into alleged proxy voting violations during the 1988 municipal elections in the township of Tiny.
Yesterday I was surprised to hear that a judge’s wife may be involved in this matter, and it has been brought to my attention that a former Solicitor General’s sister may also be involved. Yesterday the Solicitor General suggested that if anyone has any information relating to this investigation, he or she should share it with the local police.
I would suggest they have already done that over the one and a half years it has taken to complete this investigation, and the results of that investigation have been in the Solicitor General’s hands since 28 March. It is time for him to come clean with us and provide us with the results of the OPP investigation. Will he do it now?
Hon Mr Offer: I think the question was, in many ways, posed to me yesterday, dealing with the ongoing investigation of the allegations around Tiny township and the whole question of proxy voting. I think at that point I said that the investigation is ongoing.
I think it is imperative that one clearly indicates that there is no report provided to me that investigations are conducted by police officers. When they have compiled all the information, they take their findings and consult with the crown attorneys. I am advised that this type of investigation by the police officers is complete. They are now discussing that with the crown attorneys with respect to whether there should or should not be charges laid in any particular matter.
Mr McLean: The procedure has not been directly the same as the situation in Wasaga Beach. That officer reported to the crown attorney in the city of Barrie. This situation here has never gone through that normal channel. This situation has been dealt with directly by the attorney’s office in Metropolitan Toronto.
I ask the Solicitor General, if the investigation has been the same, why have they bypassed the local crown attorney and why are they now dealing with it in Toronto? When is the minister going to have the answer for us with regard to this subject?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the member’s question, I think it must be stated time and time again, because the message just does not seem to be getting out, that the police investigate matters. They investigate matters in every allegation. They investigate matters thoroughly and exhaustively.
In the course of their investigations and when they have compiled all the information they feel they can compile, in the usual and normal course, they discuss the matter with crown attorneys. They discuss matters with a view to determining whether charges should be laid and, if so, what type of charges should be laid.
In fact, as a result of those types of discussions, in some cases, in the usual and normal course, it may be necessary to investigate the matter further. In that respect, investigations are continuing and always ongoing, until a final decision is made as to whether charges should or should not be laid.
For the member to stand in his place and suggest that there has been any difference in procedure in this matter is factually incorrect. It is incorrect because of the fact that in all cases that is the procedure that is followed.
NORTHERN POWER DEVELOPMENT
Mr Miclash: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. As I indicated in the House yesterday, I spent a day up at Sandy Lake with the Severn River Coalition, the Sandy Lake band and the students of Sandy Lake. At that time, the coalition made it clear to me that it was travelling around the area of the Severn River basin soliciting the views of the people who live along that river in regard to the establishment of power dams.
They made it very clear to me that they were not in favour of power dams being developed that would flood their traditional hunting grounds or homeland and the reserves. May I request the minister’s support, as Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Energy, in assuring the people of this Severn River area that this area will be designated as they wish it, as a dam-free zone?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I appreciate the honourable member’s question. He will be interested to know that at this time we have no formal applications for power dam development along the Severn River. But certainly I want to assure him and his constituents that if there should be a formal application for development forthcoming, we would share his concerns and the concerns of his constituents for any potential environmental impacts. We would want to carry out a very thorough study of any impact, whether it be on lands, waters, wildlife or fisheries.
In considering any application for development, I would also want to ensure that there would be an involvement of the native people living in the area so they could be assured that no development would go forward which would have a negative impact upon their homeland or their reserves. In fact, our concern would be that not only would there be no negative impact on native peoples in the area of any proposed development, but that there could in fact be benefits to any development.
Mr Miclash: I would just like the minister to assure both myself and the people I mentioned along the Severn River area, the people of the reserves who may be affected, that we will be advised if any further development at all is mentioned in terms of the Severn River.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would be quite happy to give the honourable member an assurance that no development would be pursued without the full involvement of all those who would be affected.
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE REVIEW
Mr Allen: Recommendation 272 of the Transitions report on social assistance reforms recommends that the government publish an annual report that describes the progress made in implementing the recommendations. This is not a unique idea.
In response to its special parliamentary committee on disabled and handicapped persons, the federal government issues an annual report on the progress of implementing its procedure, a report in which there are many recommendations. Along with this recommendation 272 there are many stage one recommendations of that very report that have not yet been implemented.
Why would this minister not tell the public of Ontario what he has done, what he has not done, what he is going to do and what he will not do by issuing such a report as recommended by Transitions to keep everybody straight in the implementation of a very complicated and very substantial report?
Hon Mr Beer: I would be delighted to report to him and to others on the status of the implementation of the Social Assistance Review Committee report and of the recommendations. I understand that I may have a fulsome opportunity during estimates and would want to do that.
It might be of interest to the honourable member to know that of the 274 recommendations, some 80 have been implemented and another 30 have been partially implemented. Some 38 deal with other ministries and other governments and some 22 fall within the ambit of the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee.
In terms of the specific legislative reform process that we are now into, there are some 100 recommendations, of which I am told about 50 would require legislative change. I think it would be worth while to explore those. Certainly we are going to be going over those in detail as we proceed with the legislative review.
Mr Allen: I am aware of those figures of implementation. They are very miscellaneous in some respects because they may and do miss some of the major recommendations that were made along the way, even for the first stage.
For example, among the oversights are such critically important questions as raising the asset ceilings, which are so important, to support recipients on their route from dependency to autonomy and independence, or for example, making special needs that are necessities mandatory as opposed to discretionary benefits. Very important and real people are suffering as a result of the lack of implementation of items like that. For example, we are learning that all over the province municipalities, in trying to shape their own budgets, are looking to cutting back on their allocations for special needs while the needy continue to require them, and the minister has not insisted that they follow through.
Is it the minister’s intention not to act on some of those early, stage one, very important and critical elements of the recommendations? If so, when will he do that kind of reporting regularly to the public so that the public, and not just those of us in estimates, can keep track of where it is at?
Hon Mr Beer: Not at all. We intend to deal with the issues the honourable member has mentioned. As he might know, the question of special needs has come up from a number of municipalities, and that is one of the specific issues addressed in the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee as well as in the social assistance report. We will be coming to a determination about that during the process that will finish early this fall.
In fact, the committee said that it required further elaboration, and some of those we feel we can address within the context of the legislative review. Some we are going to be able to move and deal with in the interim, and by no means do we believe that the legislative review means we cannot move in some of those specific areas. We are discussing with the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto around that specific issue.
I think that through a number of vehicles I will have an opportunity to report not only to the Legislature but to the public at large and to the specific interest groups on exactly how we are moving to implement the reforms that were set out in the Thomson report, but I think the record to date is impressive.
CANADIAN PARAPLEGIC ASSOCIATION
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Four regional offices of the Canadian Paraplegic Association closed on 1 May and I know the minister is aware of this. Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Kingston and Windsor offices closed because the government was not willing to agree to a funding partnership with the association. The minister said in this House on 26 April that he is “continuing discussions with the association.” The House should be aware that the fact is that the minister has not yet met with the association on this issue. You certainly would think this minister would show much more interest in this matter.
My question is, why has the minister not responded to this problem, given the fact that at least 300 paraplegics will be negatively affected by the closing of these offices?
The Speaker: That was brief.
Hon Mr Beer: I appreciate the opportunity to provide the honourable member with some of the facts in the present situation. The honourable member would want to know that we are actively involved with the association, and indeed fund its programs at a high level. The difficulty the association has found itself in is that it had received a three-year Trillium grant to develop services. That grant ended and they came to us to see whether we could cover all of the different centres they had set up under that grant.
In our discussions with them, we suggested that there were some different avenues we could look at to provide services. Indeed, I can assure the honourable member that those in those municipalities who were being served by the association are being provided with the services they require. We are continuing, through officials in my ministry working with the association, to get into a long-term planning process that will enable the association to continue to grow, but in a more organized manner.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the fact that you noticed my question was brief, when you told me that 100 seconds was the length of my question on women’s issues earlier.
The minister and the rest of the government should take note that northern, eastern and western areas of this province are adversely affected by the closure of these offices. The minister has suggested that services provided by these regional offices will be provided by other sources. It is interesting that the disabled community and many social service providers do not share this point of view. I have a letter from the Ontario March of Dimes that expresses concern that services to paraplegics in the north will not be available as a result of the closure of the Sudbury and Thunder Bay offices.
My question is this: Why is it that the minister is not committed to providing the same services to persons with disabilities in regional areas as he is in the large centres of this province?
Hon Mr Beer: Nothing would be farther from the truth. Indeed we are, and we are providing those services.
I should inform the honourable member that a number of different agencies are involved in providing services to the disabled, including the Canadian Paraplegic Association. I am committed to ensuring that continues and indeed have asked specifically that the services that are available in the north be as accessible and available as those in the south. If the honourable member has information to the contrary, I would want to look into it, but at this point in time it is our understanding that people in those centres are being properly serviced.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister will recall that on 27 March I raised in the Legislature, and at other times I have also spoken to the minister about, the matter of the drug Deprenyl, which is used by victims of Parkinson’s disease. At the time, I pointed out to the minister that the cost of the drug was very high -- I was told about $2.41 per pill -- and that this cost was causing a severe hardship to many who were looking to our government for assistance.
I wonder if the minister could advise us with an update as to if and when the Minister of Health will be able to extend financial assistance to victims of Parkinson’s who are in need of this drug.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to thank the member for Simcoe Centre for his continued interest and concern in this important matter to his constituents, and to himself, I know. I have accepted the recommendations of the Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee that coverage for this drug will be provided under the Ontario drug benefit program in the limited use category.
As members may be aware, residents who are eligible for benefits under this program must be over the age of 65 or be on some form of social assistance here in the province. I would say that the member opposite has been an advocate on behalf of his constituents in this important matter. He knows we are committed to ensuring that there is no financial barrier for those people for whom the drug would be a benefit. We are in fact committed to doing everything we can to constantly improve the Ontario drug benefit program and ensure that all the drugs listed in that program result in the very best therapeutic value for the people receiving those benefits.
Mr Owen: As the minister is aware, this drug was approved for marketing by the federal health protection branch in January this year. I would also point out that the drug has been in use in Europe for something like 20 years, but only now has it been approved by the federal government of this country.
I wonder if the minister could explain what steps, if any, can be taken to ensure that assistance is made available on Parkinson’s disease without approval, and whether there might be any comment on the overall procedure and length of time it takes to get approval at the federal level, let alone assistance from the provincial.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In response to the member’s very important question around process, the federal government has its responsibilities and in fact the federal body gave approval for the marketing of this new drug in Canada last January. The Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee here in Ontario has a very important role, and that is to deal more with the therapeutic value of any drugs that are for sale and available in Canada.
We felt it was extremely important that this panel of experts on the Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee advise us before we offered any assistance for any new drug here in Ontario, and this drug was no exception.
We want to make sure we are paying for drugs that are going to give us the very best therapeutic results and that we do not pay for drugs that are of questionable or undetermined medical value. That is the role of the Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee. The DQTC, as it is known, has done its review and I have accepted its recommendation. I am pleased to inform the member that Deprenyl is now available as a benefit and has --
The Speaker: Thank you. I appreciate the help of all the members. However, it would be better without.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions with respect to pension protection for retirees in our province today. As the minister knows, over a million Ontarians are living on pension plans and their incomes are deteriorating every year, every month because of lack of inflation protection. At the same time, over the last three years, because this government has not acted on pension reform, there are thousands more pensioners every day, retirees who are going on to pension plans that are not protected from inflation.
Will the minister tell us why it is that his pension reform package died with the election of a majority government three years ago, and where on earth are his proposals and specific legislation to provide inflation protection for retirees right across the province?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman would know and would want to tell the people of the province that in fact pension reform consideration has not died. The paper that was released last year has put forward several options. There has been a great deal of interest expressed right across the province with respect to the suggestions in the paper, which really said:
“Please respond to our proposals as options. Tell us where you think they are weak, where you think there are strengths and where we can go farther and assist people to establish even more pension plans in the province of Ontario.”
If the member had read our paper, he would have known that all those items have been canvassed very thoroughly in the context of that discussion paper and that as a result we have received a very large volume of interesting replies from people, not only as sponsors, not only as people who manage pension plans and not only as people who are members of existing plans, but from individuals who are interested in expanding pension plans in the province. He should be very clear that our consideration of the issue of pension reform has not died. In fact, there are proposals being considered about indexing now and I wish he would be very clear in his supplementary.
Mr Morin-Strom: Let’s be a little more specific then. The government’s proposal that he is referring to was dated March of last year. It provided for a 60-day consultation period. That was very specifically identified. Well, 60 days was May of last year. We are now May of this year, 12 months later, and we have heard nothing as a result of that consultation period.
Why does the minister give the rest of the province 60 days to consult and then he sits on it for 12 months and does nothing about it? When is he going to give us a date for specific legislation and a specific plan to provide protection for pensioners and retirees, with more people retiring every month in this province? They are retiring without any inflation protection. Is he going to provide some for retirees this month, next month or when?
Hon Mr Elston: I have become very much aware of the fact that when I bring legislation to this Legislature, the New Democratic Party does not particularly like it much. In fact, when I put proposals in front of the Legislature, its members talk at length and preclude this government from moving to provide protection for people who find auto insurance is too expensive. They like to delay it so that the implementation of a plan that will help people is prevented from being brought in. There is no desire by those people in the official opposition to see the Liberal Party bring forward assistance to people.
I take it that when we bring forward the type of reform that is needed to assist pensioners and others in this province, those people in the official opposition will again barrack until they try to prevent us from helping those people. That is the way they deal with our responsible and fiscally sound and very helpful pieces of legislation. For them to say that we are sitting on the resolve to help the people --
The Speaker: I see the member for Durham East waiting patiently.
The Speaker: Order. I thank the member for Durham East for being so patient. You may now ask your question.
Mr Cureatz: Mr Speaker, living on the edge again, I can see by the time -- I guess it is out of the question to ask for unanimous consent to make sure I get my supplementary on.
My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. It has been reported over the last week or two about an inmate who had been incarcerated in one or two of the minister’s institutions. His statement alleges the most access to and availability of alcohol and drugs in the institutions. Has the minister or his staff had the opportunity of pursuing with that particular individual his allegations as to whether they have been substantiated or not?
Hon Mr Patten: I appreciate this question because it is one that of course concerns us and is an ongoing problem that we have to face in our institutions. I should say to the member for Durham East that having read the allegations in the Toronto Star, any time there are allegations we have follow-up. We make a special investigation. It is ongoing at the moment. I have not received any information from the individual who alleged many of these particular events that were taking place in our institutions.
I am aware that from time to time we do discover illicit drugs or indeed even alcohol, especially in some of our minimum security institutions. We have a set of procedures at work. We have special training for our staff in order for them to try to identify it. But from time to time we discover after the fact that this happens.
In this instance, I have not heard from this individual. This is a question the member is asking. I have said I would like to hear from him. I need the help of somebody to identify either specific people or certain contexts in order to pursue our investigation.
Mr Cureatz: I thank the minister for his frankness. Of course, as he indicated, from time to time there are problems of alcohol and drug abuse within the institutions. I have asked him on previous occasions, if we had the opportunity of pursuing a new institution, to sell the old Whitby Jail so that a new institution would make accommodation to ensure that these kinds of abusive substances would not be readily available. I know that in the long run we would have better solutions to what is taking place with repeat offenders.
With his acknowledgement that drugs and alcohol are available from time to time in the institutions, has the minister made any different corrective measures over recent times to ensure that officers on duty are implementing different kinds of programs so that these kinds of substances are not readily available’?
Hon Mr Patten: My answer to the member is yes, we have. I believe he will appreciate this. I will have to be general because if I am too specific, this gives our hand away somewhat in dealing with some of the individuals who may want to contravene the law by dealing with illicit drugs or alcohol in an inappropriate place.
My answer is yes, indeed, and in fact I would be prepared to share some of that information with the member. I would prefer not to state publicly what some of those are, but I can tell him that in the area of staff training, for observational capacities and skills and for techniques of detection, special training is now taking place for our correctional officers and supervisors.
ASSISTANCE TO RELEASED INMATES
Mr Adams: My question is also for the Minister of Correctional Services. As the minister knows, the Millbrook Correctional Centre is in Peterborough riding. We are seeing a number of men newly released from Millbrook appearing in the city of Peterborough after they have been released, without money. If they have drug or alcohol problems, which they often have, usually they have spent the money they receive as an allowance in the institute before they get to town.
What assistance does the Ministry of Correctional Services provide to inmates who are to be released into the community’?
Hon Mr Patten: I want to thank the member for Peterborough. I know he has concerns in this area, which of course we share.
Many people are not aware of the kind of assistance that is given to inmates prior to their release from an institution, and in the member’s case, from Millbrook, which is within his riding. I know he has some concerns there, but prior to their release there is very specific counselling on plans of action for that particular inmate. Where is he or she going? In these instances, it would usually be a he. Do they need support services? Will they need some extra money’? Do they have transportation funds to go home?
In every one of those particular instances, we will certainly provide the funds from the bank that each inmate has, and we will provide non-refundable vouchers in a sense for in-kind contributions. That may be a place to stay for a while, or a letter to a welfare office for temporary assistance in order for people to be able to tide over their particular time until they can find a job.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Mr Ward moved that notwithstanding standing orders 57 and 58, the standing committee on estimates be authorized to present an interim report on the estimates selected in the first round for consideration and that a final report of the remaining estimates to be considered by the committee be presented to the House on or before 28 June 1990.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved that notwithstanding standing order 94(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 49 and 50, and that notwithstanding any previous order of the House, Mr McClelland and Mr Daigeler exchange places in the order of precedence for private members’ business.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to make a few comments about this motion, and in doing so I would like to use as my backup the McGrath report of 1985 from the federal House. I would also like to be referring during this debate to a book, The Responsible Government of Ontario, which outlines the history of this place.
Certainly, I would like to bring into this debate Beauchesne and its comments on private members, and a number of other reports, and books by Donald Macdonald. It has been very interesting reading this morning to go through some of these items in anticipation of this very important debate that is going to come up this afternoon.
I think any motion by the government to change the order of private members’ hour brings out discussion on how relevant private members’ hour is in the Ontario Legislature, in view of the way the Liberal Party has decided to treat private members’ hour in the last several weeks.
Mr Speaker, you will be aware of the upset of the opposition parties when my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore had her bill on water quality debated; I believe the member for Carleton had his bill debated last week, which was dealing with the Powers of Attorney Act. Those were bills that were very relevant bills and private members’ bills that clearly should have been referred to standing committees of the Legislature for proper debate and discussion within the province and within the community. But the Liberal Party again decided to use its majority in the Legislature and block the important role that private members should have in this place.
In reading through some of the books I have referred to, it was of interest and surprise to me to find out that when this place operated in the early 1900s, most of the business that was carried out in the Ontario Legislature was through private members’ legislation; it was not through government legislation.
In the year 1900, a year I remember well, 110 bills were introduced in the Ontario Legislature. Twelve were passed and 19 were embodied in other pieces of legislation, for a total of 31 private members’ bills becoming law in Ontario in 1900. In 1905, 63 private members’ bills were introduced. Ten were passed and two were embodied, for a total of 12. In 1910, it went up: 75 private members’ bills were introduced, 16 passed and 20 were embodied, for a total of 36. The list goes on.
It points out in this book that it was not until the 1950s that the government of the day decided that private members’ bills would not be treated as seriously as government bills. They would not be proceeded with and not dealt with, in my view, in an appropriate way.
Liberal Party members will remember when they were in opposition and the Conservative Party was in power, routinely the Conservatives would stand 20 members and block private legislation. The Liberals were outraged, as we were outraged. In fact, it brought about a response that the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party co-operated to block a number of Conservative private members’ bills in order to drive home the point that the government of the day was destroying private members’ initiatives.
It would seem to me that what the current government has done is exactly the same thing in a roundabout way. Instead of standing the 12 members that are now required under our standing orders, the government allows the legislation to pass for second reading and then kills it by refusing under our rules to allow the bill to be referred out to standing committee.
As you know, Mr Speaker, the provision in our standing orders requires that if a private member’s bill is to go out to standing committee, the request can be made by the sponsor of the bill. Then the Speaker puts the question. If a majority of the people present in the House agree, it goes out to committee.
Now the government has taken the position of routinely blocking any referral out to standing committees, thus maintaining complete control of how that bill will be dealt with -- not by a committee, not by private members, but by the government House leader.
That is the major difference in how the Liberal Party is dealing with private members’ bills. The effect is exactly the same -- they kill the bills -- but the way of doing it is not quite so obvious to the public and to the majority.
In fact, in Graham White’s book -- a former staff member of the Legislature, now a professor at the university -- he points out that initially in the first couple of years of the Liberal government it treated private members’ bills in quite a different way than the Conservatives did and in a very much more progressive way. But since then things have changed considerably and in the last several months the government is treating private members’ hour in exactly the same way as the Conservatives did in the past.
I will just quote from Graham White’s book: “In the first three years of the Liberal government, they refrained from blocking any private members’ business, perhaps because the Liberals remembered their outrage at the Tories’ blocking of their bills and resolutions.”
He goes on to talk about the ways that private members’ bills can be dealt with, and how many bills and resolutions the New Democratic Party and the other parties have introduced in this place.
But suffice it to say that private members’ initiatives are very important in the Ontario Legislature and I think the way that the Liberal government is dealing with private members now is completely destroying Thursday mornings, taking the meaning away from them by not allowing private members -- whether they be Liberals, New Democrats or Conservatives -- to put together initiatives which much work is done on, background is done on, work with community groups to develop the concept, so that second reading debate can take place here and then more public discussion and consultation can take place out in committee.
Mr Speaker, you will know better than I that in Ottawa there is a process for dealing with private members. The private members’ legislation goes out to committee and in some cases private members’ legislation is reported back. There is time provided for in the rules for debate on third reading and the private members’ initiatives can become law.
One of the better-known pieces of legislation by an opposition party in the private members’ initiative to become law was the one initiated by Lynn McDonald, the member for Broadview-Greenwood, on smoking in the workplace, a very important initiative, one that received wide public consultation and eventually became the law of the land.
I am not so much saying that private members’ legislation needs to be passed on third reading and become law, but I do object to the government’s blocking any ability for the legislation to go out to a standing committee to even have public debate. I do not think that was the intention when the rules were discussed. It certainly was not the intention when the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, and the standing committee on procedural affairs and the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions before it, studied this matter and made recommendations to the Legislature.
I think we must try to reinforce with the government the need to follow not only the letter of the standing orders that have been passed in the Legislature but the spirit of those standing orders. The spirit of the standing orders and the reforms that were brought about a few years ago clearly was to improve the importance of the individual private member in this Legislature, to make private members’ hour an important hour and to allow initiatives by private members to go forward to committee for consultation, for public hearings and for public debate so that either a government initiative comes forward or the bill that is before the committee is discussed, amended and improved and then brought back to the Legislature.
A few weeks ago the government House leader talked to the opposition House leaders about choosing one private member’s bill per year from each party to go forward. There is no way that opposition parties are going to agree to that kind of selection being made by three House leaders. That is not the way it is done in Ottawa, and that is not a democratic way of proceeding with private members’ bills whatsoever.
I certainly encourage the government, I encourage Liberal backbenchers and certainly I know the Conservatives as well as my party have great concerns on how the government has been handling private members’ hour, and I hope that they will see the light and proceed in the spirit of the recommendations and reports that have been done by the Legislative Assembly committee and the procedural affairs committee before it.
I think it was deplorable the way the legislation was handled just a week ago. The member for Carleton had a bill where if there was ever a bill that required public hearings, that was it. We need to have a public discussion on living wills and how medical procedures for people who are dying are imposed under our current system and how we should change legislation so that people’s wishes can be carried out. That is a public issue that is being debated all across the world, yet when a proposal is put forward by a private member, as it was, and a proposal made that the matter go out to a standing committee for debate so that the public across the province can be brought into the discussion, the response of the government is no; it blocks it with its majority. I think it was a shame. It was inappropriate, and it was not in line with the spirit of the rules that we are following in the Legislature and the approach that we are supposed to be taking to private members.
I have no particular objection to the motion that is put before us today, but I do have some concerns about how private members’ hour is being proceeded with by the government, and I wanted to get those concerns on the record.
Mr Sterling: Since this debate has been entered into, I think it is only responsible to speak up when, in fact, a week ago this Legislature considered a private member’s bill, Bill 131, which was an act amending the Powers of Attorney Act. What bothers me about the government’s attitude -- which was exhibited by its vote to block Bill 131 after it had passed second reading in this Legislature and prevent it from going out to a committee of the Legislature -- what bothers me most about the private members’ hour and private members’ bills is the fact that by introducing them and by debating them here in the Legislature, we give a false sense of hope to people out there in our communities that in fact a law can be passed which they agree with.
Last week when we were considering Bill 131, members from the group called Dying with Dignity, a group which represents a significant number of people across this province, were here in the gallery. There were approximately a dozen of these people. They had been watching the debate. They had been considering the remarks that were made and they thought that if the bill received second reading in this Legislature there was a real hope that it would become law.
Unfortunately, they were --
The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member. I did not have the opportunity to read the motion. I listened to the member for Windsor-Riverside. He finally came around and referred to this. I just wonder how the member is going to tie in the process regarding the exchange of names. I am listening carefully. I am just hoping that he could tie it in.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This motion was discussed by the House leaders. Obviously there is more time for consideration. At this point I would be pleased to withdraw the motion.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: I do not see where any discussion by the House headers would have any relevance at all, because what is promised to us at the House leaders’ meeting is withdrawn routinely. The government House leader has no hesitation in lying routinely to the opposition.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Carleton on the same point?
Mr Sterling: I am on the motion, Mr Speaker. It is not our intention to give unanimous consent to allow him to withdraw the motion.
The Speaker: There is not unanimous consent.
Mr Sterling: I would say, and I intend to try to draw this to the motion, that it has some relevance to the motion that was put forward by the House leader, in that there is so little attention now paid to private members’ hour and private members’ business that the order seems to be able to be shifted week by week almost on a regular basis, because members are no longer putting forward the effort in general. This is not specific to any particular cause or particular member’s motion, but it seems that the whole focus on private members’ hour is very minimal.
That was emphasized this morning, even, in terms of a division on one member’s motion, where I believe that a total of fewer than 40 or close to 40 members voted on a resolution by a member in this Legislature; 40 out of a total of 130 members here in the Legislature.
Getting back to the bill which I had introduced to this Legislature and that has passed second reading, we have a really difficult time going back to our ridings and repelling the cynicism that exists in our ridings with regard to the political process. I believe the method this government is exhibiting, blocking the attempt by a private member to have his bill go out to public hearings and very rarely calling a private member’s bill for third reading, really spawns cynicism in the public’s mind as to this whole process.
The people who were here last week, the group Dying with Dignity, really believed that there was an opportunity because the Attorney General applauded my first introduction of this bill. They really believed that the Attorney General would act in a generous manner, that this bill was dealing with allowing a person who wanted to appoint someone else to have the right to withdraw or make decisions with regard to medical consents if he was no longer capable of doing that himself. The people who sat in this gallery and the people who wrote to many members of this Legislature really believed that there was an opportunity for that legislation to come about.
Then we had the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General stand up in this Legislature and make some really specious arguments about why they could not accept Bill 131, and he said that there should be some amendments to it. So I took his word and I said, “Okay, I don’t believe that amendments are needed” -- it was really a one-section bill, and it is adequate legislation in Nova Scotia -- but I took his words and I said:
“Well, I’ll refer this out to a committee so that in fact the Attorney General or his parliamentary assistant can have the opportunity to listen to the public. They can have input and we can amend this bill.” I am quite open about amending the bill. All I am concerned about is the general intent of that piece of legislation.
When I asked the Speaker at that time to put the question to the House as to whether or not I could refer it out to the standing committee on administration of justice of this Legislature, more than 12 Liberals stood in their places and said, “No, you can’t refer that out, this is the end of this piece of legislation.”
By the very words that the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General put forward in this Legislature, he indicated to me that this government either thought the idea was too good to give to a member of the opposition or that it was concerned about opposition to the idea and was not willing to face the issue. But they did not even give me, a member of this Legislature, the courtesy to have a fairly non-controversial, non-political bill sent out to a committee of the Legislature so members of the public could in fact have their say.
I have come to the conclusion over this past period of time that this government is so paranoid about this upcoming election and that nothing of controversy be put in front of the public at this time that it is willing to cut off any good ideas that are put forward.
We might as well abandon private members’ hour at this time. I do not believe that there is any more use for it. When there is not an opportunity to change the law, to change things, then there is really no sense in raising a false expectation in the minds of our public that in fact the private member can bring a matter before the Legislature and change things in the province.
I only want to say that that is exemplified by the motion which is put forward by the government House leader today, in that members are not pining or not looking forward anxiously for their time to put forward a matter because we are having so many substitutions. In fact, it almost occurs on a weekly basis.
There are very few members ready with bills or resolutions that they want to put forward, and I can understand that. I can understand it because there really is no sense in having private members’ hour on Thursday morning any more. It just does not make sense, unless this government is big enough or strong enough to understand that its generosity would put it in good stead with the electors, whether or not the idea came from the New Democratic Party or the Conservative Party or the Liberal back benches. It does not really matter. When a piece of legislation is passed in this place, 99.9% per cent of the people give the government credit for it anyway, whether it comes from the opposition benches or not.
I am really disappointed in the attitude of the Liberal government now, and I can only attribute it, unfortunately, to the arrogance of 94 members and the fact that they know that they have in their hip pocket the right to squash any good idea and say. “Look, we’ll do the same thing as you did, Sterling” -- or any other member of this Legislature – “two or three weeks, two or three months from now, and we hope to get the credit and we’ll have the Attorney General stand up and say that this a great idea and all the rest.”
I think it is unfortunate, because the Attorney General of this province probably represents the largest community in this province which is afflicted with this dreaded disease known as AIDS. This piece of legislation which I introduced in this Legislature would give great comfort to the victims of that dreaded disease, and I think that it not only shows a lack of generosity but in my view it shows a hack of concern to that community by the Attorney General.
The Speaker: You are supporting the motion?
Mr Eves: Speaking to the motion.
The Speaker: Oh. The member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos moved adjournment of the House.
Mr Callahan: Oh, Peter. You’ve spent a million and a half of the taxpayers’ bucks.
Mr Kormos: Oh, relax. Go back to Brampton South and try to talk to some of your constituents.
The Speaker: Order. Mr Kormos has moved the adjournment of the House.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe the rotation has not been followed.
Mr D. S. Cooke: There was no Liberal who stood up.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Kormos: You blew it. You got caught with your pants down.
The Speaker: It is hard to believe.
Mr D. S. Cooke: You can’t blame me for trying.
The House divided on Mr Kormos’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 6; nays 49.
The Speaker: Any further debate on Mr Ward’s motion?
Mr Eves: I just wanted to speak very briefly -- and I do mean briefly -- to this motion. Yesterday, when the member for Bruce, acting in the place of the government House header, moved this motion, I rose on a point of order to object. I just want to clarify to all members of the Legislative Assembly that the reason I objected on that date, yesterday, is that when we started this sitting in March, we had agreed among the three House headers that we would not he so permissive as House headers had been in the past with respect to making sure that members, with respect to private ballot items, had their private ballot items filed on time, as the rules state.
I pointed out that two members, the member for Riverdale and the member for Cochrane South, had in fact missed their turn because of that policy. I stand to correct the record with respect to the member for Riverdale, because I have now been informed that he did not intend to proceed with respect to a member’s private ballot item in any event and so missed his time on purpose. I can say, however, that was not true of the member for Cochrane South, whom I had indicated must do his private ballot item on time or he would lose his spot.
I do understand now that there is not only this particular private ballot item that is before us in the name of the member for Nepean, but the member for Hamilton West has some problems with respect to time as well.
At the House leaders’ meeting this morning, at which, I might add, there were only two House headers, the government House leader and myself concurred that, although we would take a somewhat more permissive approach to this, we felt it necessary that in the future all three caucuses have it before them, in writing, the preceding Tuesday before the week in which the private ballot item would be discussed, available for caucus discussion. In other words, that would he nine days prior to that particular ballot item being discussed.
Now that we have reached some sort of consensus with respect to this matter, I will be supporting the motion of the government House header.
The Speaker: Further discussion? The member for London South.
Mrs E. J. Smith moved that the House proceed to orders of the day.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I reread, during the recent break, your ruling on this type of a motion. My understanding from your ruling is that the only way this motion can be moved is if the floor is obtained legitimately. We are on a motion; we are debating a motion. There is something already on the floor. I would argue that the member for London South did not get the floor legitimately. If she wants to debate the motion, that is fine, but there is something already on the floor under debate.
The Speaker: I recall very well making the ruling and I ruled that such a motion would be in order, similar to a motion to adjourn the debate or a motion to adjourn the House, I believe that is in the ruling. As the member will know, I recognized a member just now, to debate, and the member moved a motion to --
The Speaker: Therefore, I would say that the motion is in order.
The question before the House is, shall the House proceed to orders of the day?
The House divided on Mrs Smith’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 40; nays 12.
The Speaker: For the information of the members, the previous motion you passed has now been superseded by this motion. That means it is dead.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Before calling orders of the day, pursuant to standing order 53, the business for the week of 7 May is as follows:
On Monday 7 May, any previously stated unfinished business, which includes resuming the adjourned debate of government notice of motion 30, committee of the whole on Bill 68, and second reading debate of Bills 108, 106, 114, 96 and 107; Tuesday 8 May, continuation of any previously unfinished business; Wednesday 9 May, any previously unfinished business, and the House will not be meeting on Thursday 10 May.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
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 Runciman: I appreciate the opportunity to continue debate on this most important issue facing Ontarians. Just briefly, for perhaps the information of anyone viewing the proceedings, I want to bring them quickly up to date on what is occurring and what we are dealing with here.
What we are dealing with, Mr Speaker, as you are well aware, is a time allocation motion, an effort on the part of the Liberal government to close off meaningful debate on what is indeed an odious, cynical and fraudulent piece of legislation designed to mislead consumers in this province. I talked at some length on Tuesday with respect to the history of this government’s mismanagement of the insurance issue and I will continue along in that vein at some length this evening.
Before I do that, though, I want to mention that the other day I indicated at the outset that I was not going to approach this debate in quite the manner the member for Welland-Thorold did. One of the commitments I made at the outset was that I was not going to talk at length about my dog or any operations my dog may have had in the past. I did make some reference to my dog, the name, etc. and I want to say that in the past couple of days -- in fact, the Minister of Financial Institutions has been encouraging me to talk about not only my dog but other family pets. I may take him up on that as the evening proceeds.
I can only say I have had a significant number of phone calls just in the last little while expressing significant concern about Bill 68, and obviously, as well as being opposed to this odious piece of legislation, there are a number of dog lovers who watch the proceedings. There are a few comments incorporated in here about my dog, Gabriel, and they are very appreciative of the fact that at least one member of this Legislature truly cares about dogs and the canine species.
I am pleased to see that kind of response, as well as the words of encouragement from people right across this province in respect of encouraging us and all members of the opposition, in both opposition parties, to stick to our guns with respect to opposition to this legislation in an effort to try and get the government to rethink the very dangerous course upon which it has embarked.
A couple of these quickly: From a Rose Eddy in West Hill, “Stop Bill 68.” Others indicate they strongly support the opposition. This is from a George Smith in Hamilton. A Mrs Watson in Oshawa -- the member for Oshawa is here to hear this. Mrs. Watson wants us to do whatever we can to stop Bill 68. Another one here from a --
An hon member: Al Furlong’s mother-in-law?
Mr Runciman: I am not sure; it could be Al Furlong’s mother-in-law. Who knows? We will just put that on the record. We know that the member for Oshawa whatever it is, or is it one of the --
Mr Breaugh: It is only temporary.
Mr Runciman: Yes, I have trouble with this in any event. Durham Centre: We know the member for Durham Centre has perhaps some reservations about this legislation. I was certainly led to believe that he had. But if he has, he has not up, to this point anyway, stood in the House and voiced them. At some point he will have that opportunity and we will look forward to his taking advantage of it and expressing his concerns on the record, so that his constituents can be fully cognizant of the fact that he is standing up in this Legislature on their behalf, We will look forward to it.
A Maria McDonald from Toronto -- it is too bad I do not know all the ridings these people come from; it might help to encourage the members opposite on the government side, the Liberal side, to take a look at the positions they have taken with respect to this legislation -- wanting to encourage us to filibuster. Wanting to encourage us to filibuster, Mr Speaker; I am sure you will appreciate hearing that.
There is one rather lengthy one. I do not think I will mention the lady’s last name, a Darlene Rose. She is from the Welland-Thorold area and is expressing a great concern about Bill 68. I take it from this that she is not someone who would traditionally support either the Liberal Party or the Progressive Conservative Party. She favours a government-run auto insurance program. She may get her wish with respect to the way this Liberal government is proceeding. I am inferring this from what I have read in this note.
She is also talking about her daughter being a very strong feminist. Apparently she burned her bra at the age of 15 at a women’s rights rally. You can see, Mr Speaker, why I do not wish to repeat the last name of this particular individual. She has also expressed concern about the fact that her daughter is working now in Toronto and apparently associating with some disreputable types. Apparently, they are either politicians or members of the insurance industry; I am not sure.
There is also a note here that Darlene Rose is having a birthday this weekend, and I am sure all members of the House would want to wish her a very happy birthday.
I just wanted to reinforce that there are some very real concerns out there. I think that has been indicated over and over again, time and time again, to the Liberal government. Certainly we are seeing it in the calls that are being made to my office, to the offices of members of our party and to the members of the New Democratic Party. There is a significant degree of concern which is not being heeded.
I think that was reflected in a poll carried out a few weeks ago by Angus Reid Associates, a firm which I gather does polling for the Liberal Party. I understand that is one of the reasons it was retained, so there would be no question whatsoever about its objectivity. It indicated that two thirds of the respondents were very much opposed to what the Liberal government is trying to do in imposing this threshold no-fault program upon the citizens of the province of Ontario.
On Tuesday I talked about the history of this, and I am not going to get into that in any great detail now, but I talked about the Slater report and the fact that it did not take a close look at the auto insurance industry. With a very cursory look indeed, it indicated that it found some appeal in threshold no-fault.
Following the tabling and issuance of that report, the Liberal government then appointed Justice Coulter Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario to carry out a very thorough investigation of auto insurance. As I said earlier, I think it was without doubt the most comprehensive study of the issue in the history of North America.
During the course of that study being carried out by Justice Osborne, the header of the Liberal Party, the Premier, made what was indeed a very rash, irresponsible promise in September 1987, simply for short-term political gain, when he indicated that he had a very specific plan to lower automobile insurance rates in this province. It has been very clearly indicated over the course of the past number of years that he had no such plan and that he in fact misled the electorate of the province of Ontario.
Up to this point, he has not had to suffer any significant degree of regret over that misleading of the electorate, because the polls show that the Liberal Party still remains high in public opinion. That mystifies me; but it is there, it is a fact of life, and we have to live with it. We hope that at some point the good folks in the province of Ontario are going to very critically analyse the record of this government and specifically the record of the Premier when he made a promise which he knew he could not keep. He had no facts upon which to make that commitment and has led us into severe difficulties with the auto insurance business in this province over the past couple of years because of that very irresponsible, misleading promise that he made in September 1987. It has cost us millions and millions of dollars.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Misleading? Come on.
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, you are expressing concern about my using the word “misleading.” I will withdraw it. I want to put it on the record following your guidance. I am prepared to withdraw it. But I want to say that on public platforms I have used stronger language. Out of respect for this institution, I am not going to use it in this place, but I want to say that it is very clear in respect to what the Premier said in September 1987 and what has transpired in the interim. Obviously he made a promise which has not been kept, to say the very least.
He made that promise during the course of this very expensive and thorough investigation by Justice Osborne, an investigation that cost us $1.4 million as taxpayers. During the course of that, the Minister of Financial Institutions introduced a bill in this Legislature, Bill 2. An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, perhaps the most massive intervention the private sector in the history of this province, brought about by the four key players, I think, in the front benches of the Liberal Party, most of whom have no difficulty whatsoever with the idea of significant government intervention in the private sector. It does not bother them a whit; not one whit. They have done it before; they will do it again.
I want to say to the folks in the insurance industry who are tripping over themselves to support this legislation, they had better be very cautious in respect to this Liberal government, because it will have no reservations whatsoever to sell them down the river; no reservations whatsoever. To small insurance brokers right across this province, let me tell you, if this Liberal gang thinks it is in its best short-term political interest to cut the rug out from under you, kneecap you, do whatever it has to do, if it means being government-run, selling insurance out of motor vehicle licence bureaus, they will do it overnight.
The Liberals do not care about you. They do not have a principle in respect to a concern about the private sector. The record shows it. John Bulloch says they are the most antibusiness government in Canada. Let’s put that on the record: the most antibusiness government in Canada. I want to say to the industry -- the private, small business people in every community in this province -- insurance brokers, for whom I have a great deal of respect, that they had better be very cautious, very concerned. If we come back into this Legislature with another Liberal government following the provincial election -- God forbid -- those people are going to be in severe difficulties. They are not going to have a party committed to the free enterprise system, not at all. They are going to have a party committed to political expediency and that is it. That is the bottom line; nothing more, nothing more.
Mr Villeneuve: They have proved that time and again.
Mr Runciman: Time and time and time again.
I was talking about the establishment of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board through Bill 2. During the course of Justice Osborne’s hearings, hearings which were costing all of us as taxpayers a significant amount of money, not to mention the establishment of this board, the significant bureaucracy that went along with it, the plush office quarters that they established in New -- North York, plush quarters. North York.
Hon Mr Elston: New York? You’re a little bit out.
Mr Runciman: Well, we do not travel around the world like members of the executive council at the public trough. If the minister wants to raise that question, let’s take a look at his travel expenditures. Let’s look at Japan, China, etc., Italy. Let’s talk about the trip to Italy last year. How many Liberal members went on that trip to Italy -- 10 or 12 Liberal members?
Mr Speaker, I appreciate your interventions, I want to say, though, I hope you respect at the same time the interventions and interjections that are coming across the floor. When they start talking about these sorts of things, I think it behooves me to respond, to set the record straight, to make sure that the public of Ontario understands just where this Liberal government is coming from.
Reluctantly I deviate from the bill, and I will try to minimize that during the course of the next period of time. But I can only do that with the assistance of the Liberal members, so I will encourage them to help me out in that way.
Talking about Justice Osborne’s study, which ultimately ended up costing us somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1.4 million, Bill 2 was introduced in this House, establishing the board. That bureaucracy was established, the cost associated with it, the moneys were spent. Justice Osborne subsequently reported in February 1988, some six months, I think, after this government had committed itself to a totally different course of action.
So I talked about the history of Bill 2, the establishment of the insurance board, the way the government treated the public with respect to that issue and the fact that it ignored the facts of Massachusetts, on which it had information it was privy to. They ignored the information of Massachusetts, the only jurisdiction with a comparable system in place, which had failed. They also ignored the advice of expert witnesses with respect to the classification changes that were being proposed, and they ignored them at a cost of millions and millions of dollars to the insurance industry.
Again, I think I have to relate this to what has been happening in the past number of months with this bill that we are now dealing with and the similarities in the way they handled Bill 2 and Bill 68, both dealing with the auto insurance issue, where we had important reports withheld from the committee, we had important reports like the Massachusetts report tabled on the last day of public hearings, witness after witness ignored. It was really a window-dressing exercise to say to the public, “Look, we are having public hearings; we are indeed listening to the public.” But the reality was that there was no effort whatsoever to listen. I will get back to that and draw that into Bill 68 and what we are talking about here today in the near future.
Following that, as I said, the rate classification changes which this government proposed cost the industry millions of dollars. The insurance board spent millions of dollars gearing up for it, bringing in rate recommendations based on the rate classification changes, handed them to the minister in the spring of 1988 and the minister, again, with the crisis management style of this government, flying by the seat of its pants, panicked. He had that information before him eight or nine months prior, but he waited until the board had spent millions and millions of taxpayers’ dollars and presented the report in front of him before he accepted the fact that historically safe drivers in this province, senior citizens, lady drivers 30 and over, were going to be hit with significant increases, some with up to 80% or 90% increases in their insurance rates. Then he panicked for political reasons and flushed away all of the money that had been spent up to that point: the Osborne report, $1.4 million; approximately $8 or $9 million at that point by the insurance board, all flushed down the toilet; all taxpayers’ money totally wasted.
When we hook at what is happening around this province with food banks still being operated during a period of booming economy over the last five or six years, when we have seen this government spending at a clip significantly above any other government in Canada, increasing spending at the rate of over 10% per year, when we see tax increases in 1988 and 1989 of $1 billion plus, when we see the civil service mushrooming while this Liberal government is in office -- 8,000 new civil servants -- and we see them flushing $11 million of taxpayers’ money down the toilet in this useless exercise with the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and we are having people line up at food banks, it is shameful. But we do not see any embarrassment over there; we do not hear any voices of regret, none at all.
I talked about the process. I am now up to Bill 68. The first effort at deception is to call this the Ontario motor vehicle driver protection act. This is in no way, shape or form protecting the drivers of this province; quite the opposite, and the government’s own actuarial studies clearly indicate that. The actuarial studies that were tabled on the last day of public hearings, I think some 39 of them, the government’s own studies, indicated there was going to be a net loss in benefits to the consumers of this province of 47.7%; a net loss in benefits -- are members listening over there? -- of close to 50%; a net loss in benefits to the drivers of this province because of this government’s no-fault initiative of close to 50%.
What are they getting for that? They are losing almost half their benefits. They are not getting any reduction in rates, no reduction in rates whatsoever. They are reducing their benefits, cutting their benefits almost in half, not reducing the rates. In some areas they are saying they are levelling off. In other areas we are going to average 8%. The minister makes public statements that some drivers who are driving bigger cars are going to be looking at 20% or 25% rate increases. That is what they are talking about, rate increases of up to 25%, with almost a 50% cut in benefits.
Mr Furlong: How do you figure 50%? Explain that.
Mr Runciman: I do not have to explain that. The government members simply have to look at their own actuarial studies. It is in black and white.
The member for Durham Centre is getting agitated over there. He sat in on the committee. He sat in on the committee briefly. I do not remember him taking the charge in respect to this legislation, not at all. He very quietly expressed his concerns and then got out of there as quickly as he could. He beat a hasty retreat back to Oshawa. He had an opportunity there to sit through those hearings. He had an opportunity to become extremely familiar with that legislation. He had an opportunity to go through those actuarial studies. He had an opportunity to understand this legislation, and he did not, he beat it at the first opportunity. But now he is sitting here in the House and the member for Durham Centre has the gall --
Mr Runciman: He would like to be a senator, yes. He has the gall to sit here today and ask me to explain this, when he had the opportunity. He sat on that committee. He was an appointee to that committee and he beat a hasty retreat. He decided that it was not in his best long-term political interests, I guess, to be sitting through that exercise. It is difficult to lend any credibility to his interjections here today when he had the opportunity to play a very active role in this hearing process and he declined to do so.
I have just been passed a message here. I do not want to get into a debate with the member for Durham Centre, but I will let him reflect upon this anyway, and if he wants to send me a message -- because I do not want to get into a debate with him. “Ask the member what the lawyers in his riding think about this.” I do not know. I am not sure where that came from, but in any event, it would be nice to know if he wants to at some point --
Mr Furlong: It came from Allan McLean.
Mr Runciman: No. Maybe under members’ statements he may want to get up and review the opinions of his brethren. He may want to get up and comment on that at some point in the future, but I am not going to hold my breath, because he has had all kinds of opportunities and we have not had the opportunity to hear from him. He wants to sit in the House -- I guess he does not have much else to do today, apparently.
There must be some constituent business to look after. I want to make an appeal to the constituents in Durham Centre, if there is anyone watching out there from Durham Centre. Their member is sitting in the House here today heckling someone who is representing thousands and thousands of people who are concerned about what this Liberal government is doing. That is what the member is using this available time for. He is not here apparently making any interventions on behalf of, I assume, many people in his own riding who have concerns about this legislation. No, he is trying to give me a rough time.
I am just here doing my job, and it is rough when you hook at what this government is doing to us, and -- right back on to this bill, Mr Speaker -- we are talking about restriction of opportunities for the opposition. We have very few, 19 in the NDP, 17 in the Conservative caucus, and we have 94 Liberals over there, the largest majority government in the history of Ontario, and we have this kind of odious legislation introduced, restricting us to two days of discussion in committee of the whole House of this legislation -- two days.
Our party has a significant number of amendments we want to introduce. All the members of our caucus would like to speak on this bill. I am sure all the members of the NDP would like to speak on this bill. We are only talking about 30-some opposition members who are being refused the opportunity to express the concerns of thousands and thousands of Ontarians in this Legislature. Those interests are not being expressed by those 94 Liberal members; they are toeing the line. The Liberal leader has said, “This is the way it’s going to be, boys and girls,” and you do not hear them saying boo. We thought there were a few of them there who had a little intestinal fortitude, but that has not proven to be the case.
I talked about the committee proceedings and I talked about the role of the Liberal members on that committee. I think this is an opportunity, because I am indeed addressing the bill and the restrictions on opportunities for full debate of this legislation and the fact that really, in essence, there are only two people who are going to have any opportunity for significant involvement in this, and that is the member for Welland-Thorold, the insurance critic for the NDP, and myself, as the insurance critic for the Progressive Conservative Party. Everyone else is cut out of this debate, essentially, in any meaningful way.
All of those people who appeared before us who were ignored -- over 90% of the witnesses appearing before us who were opposed to this legislation -- in essence, their testimony was ignored and they are being ignored through this legislation in the Legislature, introduced by the Liberal government, which will not permit all the members to get those concerns on the record.
We are talking about the head-injured, for example, those concerned about the exclusion of psychological injury from the threshold of this no-fault legislation. There is a host of concerns when you look at the only perhaps 3% to 4% to 5%, once this legislation passes, who will have the ability to sue, who will have the ability to take an at-fault driver to court. We are only talking about 4% or 5% of innocent accident victims who are going to have the right to take an at-fault driver to court if this no-fault legislation the Liberal government has introduced goes through. That is the reality.
On top of that, as I said, the actuarial studies are talking about a net loss in benefits of 47.7%. I will take the opportunity tomorrow to send the figures, to send the report to the member, just so that he is brought up to date.
Mr Furlong: You said 50 before. Now you’re being more accurate.
Mr Runciman: I said close to 50.
I chastised a couple of Liberal members of the committee in respect to what transpired. I am not going to get heated up about that, I hope. I have been heated up about that in the past, and I think that people understand, hopefully, my views in respect to this, that I was indeed agitated, to say the least, in respect to what happened during those committee hearings and the fact that we had some very moving testimony before us which was not heeded, which was not listened to.
I think those of us in the opposition could have lived with what happened in the end result in respect to the government having its way, and I think if the members of the committee had participated in a meaningful way and in a way that indicated their genuine concern, genuine sincerity, about many of the witnesses appearing before us, I think we could have lived with that. But we had people who were simply -- I do not know where they came upon the questions that they asked, but they were the most inane, no real legitimate concern being expressed, no intent whatsoever to address all of these various witnesses, people who in many instances had no vested interest, had nothing whatsoever to gain by either the passage of this legislation or the failure of this legislation. They were there before us, many of them innocent accident victims who had suffered their injuries in the past, because they were concerned about future innocent accident victims in this province if this no-fault legislation goes through. They were there because they had a genuine concern, a real feeling for people.
To see the way those witnesses were treated by the Liberal members of that committee was scandalous, was nothing less than scandalous, and it bothered me deeply, Mr Speaker. I am being quite sincere about this, and you know I am. It bothered me in the committee. I lost my temper in the committee during an effort to try to not allow a witness to have 15 minutes to comment on 39 stacks of studies that the government had in its hands and did not give us access to until the last day of public hearings, and then tried to cut off an expert witness from 15 minutes of testimony. After I had given up my questioning time to allow him to do that, we had the Liberal member for York Mills try to cut it off -- 39 studies, some very significant, important studies, and I indicated one of their findings, perhaps the most important finding, in terms of the net loss of benefits, and we could not have a critical witness in respect to what those studies meant to us as Ontarians, We had an effort by the member for York Mills to cut that off. The only way he did not succeed is that he was the only Liberal member of the committee who was present at that time, so they could not carry the vote.
I lost my temper. I used language which I have since apologized for, but I want to make sure, certainly, that the people of the province who may have witnessed that, because it received some publicity, understand the reasons behind my words that day and the strong feelings that I have in respect to the way very concerned people who appeared before us were treated by the Liberal members of that committee.
Mr Dietsch: How did you feel about the way Mr Kormos handled the insurance company guy, Bob? Do you want to talk about that one?
Mr Runciman: I am not going to get into that sort of thing. I was not present for most of that particular day the member is talking about. I approach things in my way, other members approach them in their way. That is all there is to it. I am not going to get into any critical analysis of any other member of the opposition.
Hon Mr Elston: I thought that was what you were doing now.
Mr Runciman: Well, about members of the government I have no reservations. We are talking about a government bill before this House. We are talking about a government bill before this House to restrict the time of debate on what I consider to be one of the most important issues facing the people of Ontario right now, and obviously the government shares that belief or it would not have this dominating the agenda in terms of the House. So for members to suggest that I should start discussing the actions of another opposition member -- I would be out of order, so I am not going to do it. I do not want to be out of order. I never want to be out of order.
I want to talk about the government members. I want to make sure that the people who are being served, supposedly, by these individuals understand the kinds of positions they took during this hearing.
I must say, the member for York Mills seemed to be the chief whip and chief cook and bottle washer on the committee for the Liberal Party.
Again, some of the questions that were posed to people hike Jeremy Rempeh, who appeared in a wheelchair, a young man who suffered a most serious accident, and again, as I want to reiterate, someone who is genuinely concerned about innocent accident victims. He and his father appeared. We had witness after witness after witness like that who was treated with utter disdain by the Liberal members of that committee; as I said, the inane comments they would make, the totally irrelevant comments, and no expression of concern about amending this legislation to address their very real and legitimate and heartfelt concerns.
I mentioned the member for Etobicoke West and her concerns about a remark I made which she construed to be a reference to a particular Liberal cabinet minister.
Hon Mr Elston: I thought you weren’t going to talk about members.
Mr Runciman: I am talking about members of the committee and I want their constituents, I want the people of Ontario, to understand the approach that these people took when they had an opportunity to deal in a meaningful way with this very important piece of legislation. I want the people of Ontario to understand where the Liberal members’ priorities lie. I want them to understand.
They did not want to have meaningful debate, they did not want to have witnesses appear who could in an expert fashion scrutinize the massive piles of documents placed before us, and the member for Etobicoke West, her longest intervention during the committee process was a 15- or 20-minute diatribe against me in an effort to, I do not know, ingratiate herself with members of the executive council. I do not know; I mean, it was difficult to fathom.
When you have witnesses appearing before you with such moving testimony that I think on many occasions members were at the point of tears -- some members were in tears because of these moving stories being told to us about accidents and the suffering of innocent accident victims in this province -- and then we have this member for Etobicoke West devote 20 minutes to a verbal assault on me because she inferred that I said something negative about a member of the Liberal cabinet.
That was her priority. That was the most important issue for her, that she send out a message to that Liberal cabinet minister:
“Look, I was trying to defend you in the committee. I hope you appreciate that and whenever the decisions come to elevate someone to a parliamentary assistant, or into the cabinet level, I’m sure that I will be well thought of when that time arises.”
I do not know if that is the rationale behind what she did. In any event, I do know that was her contribution to the debate, and it makes one pause, to say the very least, in respect to what those people were doing there and how they feel about their actions in respect to that process, because they were simply nothing more than rubber stamps, sheep following the direction of a leader who had made a promise in 1987 which he has never ever come close to fulfilling.
My memory may be faulty, so I stand to be corrected on this, but the member for Mississauga East was another member of that committee who, again, was there solely to follow the direction of the Treasurer and act as a rubber stamp.
I believe the member for Don Mills served as a member of that committee,
Mr Velshi: Talk about Jeremy, Bob. He would have been better under Bill 68 and you know that, Bob.
Mr Runciman: He is agitated that I am mentioning his riding. I am not making any reference to his personal characteristics whatsoever. He may indeed be a fine gentleman, but I am saying that he and other colleagues who served as representatives of the governing Liberal Party on that committee have an awful lot to answer to, not only to their constituents, but the broader constituency, the people of Ontario, because they failed them, they very miserably failed them.
When we take a look at this legislation -- and the reality is it is probably going to go through unless we have an election in the interim -- the people of Ontario are eventually going to realize, hopefully, how badly treated they were by the Liberal members of that committee and by the Liberal government as a whole, but more specifically by the Liberal backbenchers who have been very, very reluctant. Despite immense pressure placed upon them by their constituents, by Liberal riding associations and by a host of people in their own professional associations, they have decided that it is not in their best political interests to take a public stand on this issue.
That is sad, it is regrettable and it is one of the reasons why I think so many people across this country are becoming disillusioned with politics. We see this sort of party discipline, this iron hand of government, being applied to people like this who were elected to represent their constituents, but when it comes to something like this they will not do it for fear of retribution from the top, that the Premier is going to hit them hard over the head or, for that matter, that Mr Mulroney in Ottawa is going to hit them over the head. We have seen that happen, and I think that is one of the reasons the people of this country are becoming so disillusioned with politics and with government.
The fact that people like this are not prepared, because of the strength of party discipline in this province and in this country, to stand up, take an independent stand and speak up on behalf of the people they are supposed to be representing is very regrettable indeed. As I said, at the outset of these committee hearings I was optimistic that we were going to see a few Liberal members take a strong stand, but it did not happen, it just did not happen. It is very regrettable and it is very sad.
Again, as I have said, there does not appear to be any embarrassment on that side of the House, but there should be. And at some point, when they reflect back upon their careers as legislators -- and for many of them they may be very brief careers if their constituents become aware of what they are doing or not doing in this Legislature -- they are going to be very sad about their failure to act on this particular piece of legislation, because it is going to come back to haunt all of us in this province.
I just have to say when people have a member of their family or someone close to them, someone they know, who is in a very serious auto accident and then has to reap the rewards of this no-fault legislation they have brought in, when only 3% to 5% of them will have the ability to take an at-fault driver to court, then it is going to come back at those members of the Liberal Party who failed to stand up and be heard on behalf of the people they are supposed to be representing.
I want to talk briefly about Liberals and the Liberal Party and some of the things that have been occurring within the party which I think are relevant and again indicate how arrogant this government has become in a very short period of time. I am talking about four and a half years in power. It is unbelievable when we look at the auto insurance issue. It is just one example where we had the government make a decision in respect to this threshold no-fault behind closed doors with a handful of people: insurance industry advisers, we have to assume a handful of bureaucrats and hopefully one or two elected officials, but we cannot be sure of that.
At the same time we had parallel public hearings going on which were nothing more than smoke and mirrors to deceive the public that there was really a public effort here, an opportunity for the public to be heard on what the government was going to do in respect to product reform. At the same time those public hearings were going on, at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers, the Liberal government and a few of its cronies were behind back doors cooking up this kind of deal, cooking up what is the toughest piece of insurance legislation in North America, the most restrictive threshold of any no-fault insurance legislation in North America.
I want to point to, as I said, what has happened to this government. When it came into office in 1985 -- and we all remember 26 June 1985 -- it came in with the promises of an open government, a caring government, a government that was going to listen to the people. They are not listening to the people now; they are not listening to the people at all. As a matter of fact, they are not even listening to the Liberal Party members, the grass roots of their own party, they are not listening to even the grass roots. We have a handful of elite or so-called elite, elite in their own minds in any event, who are making the decisions on behalf of this government, on behalf of these 90-some rubber-stampers who sit behind them, making all of the decisions.
Hon Mr O’Neil: You’ll never get anywhere being personal.
Mr Runciman: I am stating the facts. I am not being personal; I am stating the facts. That is the reality.
Mr Dietsch: I spoke so highly of you, Bob, but this is changing rapidly, I want you to know.
Mr Runciman: I think it is important to put on the record that we have Liberal members yelling across the floor that what I am saying is not accurate, that the grass roots --
Hon Mr O’Neil: We are saying you are being personal.
Mr Runciman: No -- that the grass roots of the party are not upset about this legislation, that they are not hearing from rank-and-file members of their own party that they do not like what they are doing with this no-fault legislation.
Mr Faubert: Who said that? Name names.
Mr Runciman: I have been asked who said that. Just a few. The Nipissing Liberal riding executive --
Mr Faubert: Nipissing?
Mr Runciman: Nipissing. Does the member know that riding?
Mr Faubert: Yes.
Mr Runciman: It is one of the few that is not held by the Liberal Party of Ontario. They have conveyed their concerns to the Premier’s office about no-fault legislation being brought in by their Liberal friends at Queen’s Park. The Sudbury Liberal Riding Association -- its member is Mr Campbell.
Hon Mr Elston: The member for Sudbury.
Mr Runciman: Sudbury what? I want to find out.
Hon Mr Elston: Just Sudbury.
Mr Runciman: Just Sudbury?
Hon Mr Elston: Sudbury. Not “Just Sudbury,” but Sudbury.
Miss Martel: The Sudbury East Liberal Riding Association voted against it.
Mr Runciman: I am going to mention that the Sudbury East Liberal Riding Association passed a resolution, as did, as I said, the Liberal riding association in Sudbury, which Mr Campbell is the member for. Before I go beyond the Sudbury riding association, I want to talk about the member for Sudbury and what his response to his own riding association was. He scoffed at it. He said:
“That doesn’t mean anything to me. Who are these guys? They’re only my association. Who do they think they are, telling me and telling my colleagues at Queen’s Park that they don’t like this piece of legislation? Talk about gall -- my executives telling me they don’t hike a particular piece of legislation.”
He just scoffed at them. The arrogance is infectious. It is rapidly spreading into the back benches when we have a Liberal member telling his own association:
“I don’t care what you tell me. Go on, you bunch of jokers. I don’t want to listen to you. I’ll do what I am going to do. I’ll do what Mr Peterson tells me to do. That’s what I am going to do. That is all I am going to do. If Mr Peterson says, ’Jump,’ I’ll jump. If Mr Peterson says something else, I’ll do something else. That’s it. I want to be in cabinet, I want to be a parliamentary assistant, I want to be chairman of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario or something.”
Mr Dietsch: So do I.
Mr Runciman: There are a lot of volunteers for that one.
It is pretty sad when we see the members treating their own executives in that manner. But as I said, it personifies the arrogance of this government and the fact that it has gotten away from its early promises of being open and consultative. They have not done it. They have done this deal behind closed doors with their insurance industry buddies who, I might say, are not going to be buddies for much longer. If this government deems it not in its best interest, it will kick them out the door in a flash.
If this Liberal government does not think it is in its best interest to any longer be buddy-buddy with the insurance industry, it will be: “Open the door. Give them the boot. Nationalize the industry.”
Hon Mr Elston: Let’s see those boots again.
Mr Runciman: No cowboy boots here.
Mr Furlong: Are those your Guccis?
Mr Runciman: I have got my slippers just in case, though.
I mentioned the Sudbury East Liberal Riding Association. Now I want to mention the letter from the member for Windsor-Walkerville, Mr Ray. Some of you may recall that there was quite a significant discussion about that at the time the committee went to Windsor.
Hon Mr Elston: Bob, I like your Mulroney glasses better.
Mr Runciman: You like my Mulroney glasses? I am sorry, I left them in the office. We will see if a page might go down, I want to keep the Minister of Financial Institutions happy, no doubt about it.
In any event, I thought I had that letter from Mr Ray, but I do not see it close at hand.
An hon member: Is that Bob Rae?
Mr Runciman: No, Michael Ray, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, who was expressing significant concerns about Bill 68 and no-fault auto insurance. Then the committee went into Windsor, and we thought, we hoped, we assumed that the member for Windsor-Walkerville would be there. Here we were in Windsor dealing with an issue which he had publicly expressed concern about, but he was not there; he did not show up -- ”otherwise occupied.”
Again, the heavy hand of the Premier’s office had intervened, regrettably. I like the gentleman; he seems to be a very fine individual. But I understand the pressures of party discipline were apparently too much for him to make an appearance in his own city.
Mr Furlong: Do you know that for a fact?
Mr Faubert: Prove it.
Mr Ferraro: That’s not true, Bob.
Mr Faubert: Not true.
Mr Runciman: Those charges, if you want to describe them as such, were made in Windsor during the hearings, expressions of concern:
“Where is the member? We’ll delay the hearings, we’ll prolong the hearings so that he can be here. Let’s find out. Let’s get on the phone. Let’s get him here.”
But it did not occur. I know the minister would never do that, certainly never during his days in opposition.
Hon Mr Elston: Listen, did you appear in front of the committee on Bill 179 when the representatives of your OPSEU local came to speak to it?
Mr Runciman: Is this relevant, Mr Speaker?
Hon Mr Elston: It sure is. I just thought I’d ask the question.
Mr Runciman: I do not think I was made aware of that appearance. The member for Windsor-Walkerville he, for whatever reasons, did not appear, and it is regrettable, regrettable indeed.
I want to talk about the member for Hamilton Centre. This member was on the committee for the duration of the hearings. I indicated on Tuesday that she was one Liberal member for whom I had some hope in respect to her approach to the witnesses, because she had a background in dealing with the head-injured. She had expressed concern publicly about issues that were relevant to this legislation.
But when the time came to really put the rhetoric into action, perhaps she was the most disappointing for me personally, because I held out such high hope for her. She is someone who had been turfed from cabinet, so one can ask why she was toeing the party line and not expressing in committee the concerns that she had publicly expressed about the head-injured, the individuals excluded from threshold for psychological injury. Why was she not dealing with that in committee? One had to ask that question.
I expected, because of her exclusion from cabinet and the very strong likelihood that she will never ever have another opportunity to get back into cabinet, that she would take that opportunity to take a strong stand and stand up for what she believed in, stand up for those head-injured individuals who appeared before us, who expressed very serious concern about future innocent accident victims.
She failed to do so; she failed miserably. Her questions were offensive to witnesses and offensive to those of us on the opposition benches who were so moved by the testimony. I guess the performance of the member for Hamilton Centre most affected me in terms of disappointment, and I say that quite sincerely. I am not saying that for political reasons. I am saying it because those were my quite sincere feelings during the course of that proceeding, because of what she said earlier, what she had publicly said, and looking at her background.
If there was one member of that committee we hoped would be more sympathetic to the testimony we were hearing, it was the member for Hamilton Centre, but it did not happen. Now she is reaping the whirlwind from her lack of effort. She is facing what the Globe and Mail has called a revolt within her own riding association.
I want to mention also the member for Wentworth North. The member apparently is also facing significant unrest within his own association, a possible challenge to his nomination as a result of this bill and as a result of the government’s failure to listen to the people of the province and to even listen to their own members, the members of the Liberal riding associations across this province.
We have members like the member for Sudbury treating his own executive with complete disdain. We have these other members simply refusing to pay any attention whatsoever to their constituents, not even to their own Liberal riding association members. As a result, there is considerable unrest within the Liberal Party.
The member for Wentworth North could be challenged for nomination. We are talking about a lot of nominations coming up in the next little while. Perhaps some of the members across may reflect upon that and the strong feelings out there about this bill. They may indeed be facing some difficulties within their own associations as a result.
Hon Mr Elston: What about you, Bob, this time?
Mr Runciman: No problems whatsoever.
Hon Mr Elston: What’s Stephen doing this time?
Mr Runciman: He might be my campaign manager. We will just have to wait and see.
Hon Mr Elston: He just might. He may be managing a campaign.
Mr Runciman: I talked about a group called PAIN, People Against the Insurance Nightmare. They appeared to be at the Liberal meeting in Hamilton -- no, it was in Windsor I believe, a few weeks ago. They sent out a letter. They had a handout for all the Liberals and this letter is about Liberals in PAIN. They wanted to get on to the convention floor with the issue but apparently, for whatever reasons, they were unable to do so.
I am not going to read all of this letter into the record but I want to say that it is written by a gentleman by the name of Norman White. He is enclosing a Globe and Mail article which has to do with the problems faced by the member for Hamilton Centre. He says:
“You should know that even the people who were asked to attend the meeting by Dr Munro spoke against the bill. Apart from Liberals who are cabinet members or spokespersons for cabinet members, I have not met one Liberal to date who believes this legislation is fair or sound.”
This is written on behalf of Liberals in the Hamilton area and signed by a Norman White, who apparently has some very strong credentials in the Liberal Party. He is a committed Liberal worker, a doctor who has worked for many years with the head-injured.
Making brief reference to the Globe and Mail article dealing with the problems the member for Hamilton Centre is facing in her own constituency, he says:
“The Hamilton Centre revolt against Bill 68 emerged at a constituency association meeting Thursday night. Association president David Helson said, ‘No one, no one spoke in favour of Bill 68,’ even though 70 association members turned out for the meeting and ‘attendance,’ he said, ‘was surprisingly large.’ Mr Helson said that although he has been involved in politics for a number of years, he has never seen an issue as contentious as auto insurance.”
That is the president of the Hamilton Centre Liberal Riding Association.
I also want to put on record what I think are some important pieces of communication, and they tie into what I have been talking about. I gather the member for Welland-Thorold made a reference to a Mr Turkstra. I do not know if he is paying attention, but he made reference --
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: What is out of order?
Mr Kormos: The Liberal government is out of order here in the province of Ontario. I am paying attention to what the member is saying. Why are the Liberals not paying attention? They might learn something.
Mr Runciman: I thought that was an excellent point of order. I inquired because I wanted confirmation that it was indeed Mr Turkstra, a very prominent Liberal.
“As you know, I have been a member of the Wentworth North Liberal Riding association for a number of years, a strong supporter of Chris Ward, a committed worker for the party since 1957.” Herman Turkstra. “What this issue shows is that it is long overdue for us to look at the role of Liberal members of the Legislature, to look at the immense pressure now being placed on the members of caucus to toe the party line.”
I understand rumour has it that Herman Turkstra is now suffering and is going to suffer as a result of going public on this, that there has been a clear indication that very strong pressure is going to be brought to bear on Mr Turkstra. Indeed if there were any rewards in the future that might have been forthcoming, Mr Turkstra can now forget about those possible rewards because he had the unmitigated gall to speak out publicly against this terrible piece of legislation.
Mr Kormos: He’s got guts. Call it the way it is.
Mr Runciman: He had some guts, unlike the 90-some sheeplike backbenchers in the Liberal government. Here is a Liberal Party supporter since 1957 who has worked extremely hard, who has worked his fingers to the bone for the Liberal Party of Ontario, and he has the guts to get up and say: “Look, I don’t like this legislation. It’s going to hurt innocent accident victims in the province of Ontario.” And what happens? The heavy hand of the Liberal Party falls upon him.
I want to talk about a fellow by the name of William Morris, QC. He is a member of the firm Morris, Waxman, Carpenter-Gunn, out of Hamilton, Ontario. He was indicating how strong a supporter he has been. Again, the government House leader is his sitting member.
“I voted for him in every provincial election. His campaign sign occupied a prominent place on my property, and I have encouraged friends and acquaintances to support him in the provincial Liberal Party. I have also provided other Liberal members with financial support. It therefore came as a complete shock to me when the Honourable Murray Elston introduced this draconian legislation last September.”
I am not going to read all of this, just a few highlights. This is very relevant to the performance of the Liberal backbenchers on the committee. Again, I quote:
“I quickly learned that the committee hearings were a joke. There were 11 members of the committee, being composed of two members of the Progressive Conservative Party and two members of the New Democratic Party. There could never be meaningful recommendations made from this committee because the seven Liberal members of the committee -- and it became apparent from their questions and comments -- were only interested in promoting the government’s position and not entering into legitimate analysis of the bill.”
This is very interesting. It reminded this gentleman of the words of the late brilliant lyricist, W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, from the operetta HMS Pinafore: “I always voted at my party’s call. I never thought of thinking for myself at all.” How accurate and how fitting for the performance of the Liberal backbenchers on that committee. No apparent willingness to think for themselves or to speak up and act on behalf of their constituents, let alone the people of Ontario and, most important, the innocent accident victims who are going to suffer in a dramatic fashion because of this Liberal government’s arrogant introduction of this dangerous piece of legislation.
There is another paragraph I want to put on the record from this gentleman, Mr Morris, QC, of Hamilton. Again, he might as well forgo any aspirations he might have had for appointments or favours from this Liberal government. We know how they treat anyone who has the intestinal fortitude to criticize them publicly: “Cut them off. Pull the rug out from under them. That’s it. We won’t look their way again in the future.”
I want to quote Mr Morris again: “Today I consider myself to be a disillusioned, dismayed and disgusted Liberal. The actions of this Liberal government with respect to Bill 68 have been reprehensible. They have lost contact with reality. Bill 68 prejudices the weak and the disadvantaged.” He is urging us, the Progressive Conservative, and the NDP to continue our strong opposition to Bill 68.
Unlike most Liberals, certainly key Liberals in this government, this gentleman is a believer in the free enterprise system.
He certainly has been supporting the wrong party in the past. He simply has to look at the significant intervention of this government in the private sector with respect to Bill 2 and the establishment of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board.
Again, he is encouraging a free vote in the Legislature. That is a laugher. We would love to see a free vote. In essence, he is encouraging us to continue the battle against Bill 68, another brave Liberal who has the guts to stand up and publicly criticize this government, unlike the 90-some members who are unwilling to take that kind of stand.
Mr Runciman: I heard some language from across the floor which, I would suggest, was totally unparliamentary.
Mr Faubert: Name it.
Mr Kormos: Yes, but it was coming from a horse’s ass.
Mr Faubert: You’re the biggest one.
Mr Runciman: I do not know if the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is sitting in his seat.
Mr Faubert: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: I certainly did not hear it. If there was something unparliamentary, will the member withdraw it?
Mr Faubert: If “bullchips” is unparliamentary, I shall withdraw it. How about that one?
The Speaker: Order. Thanks for your help. I do not need It.
I heard another unparliamentary word. Will the member for Welland-Thorold withdraw it?
Mr Kormos: Is that the “horse’s ass” one, Mr Speaker? If that is the one. I withdraw it, sir.
Mr Runciman: I want to put on the record that the member for Welland-Thorold was not referring to me; not during this debate anyway.
In the brief period of time I have left, I want to talk again about the process. I have been talking about the Liberal members of the committee, about the way they failed to perform on this committee in a fashion that was in the best interests of their constituents and the people of Ontario, and as I said, the innocent accident victims of the future in this province. They failed miserably.
I also want to talk again about some of the things that happened, sort of what I consider to be a policy of deception, a policy of deceit, a policy of coverup on behalf of this Liberal government with respect to the way it dealt with this committee. I talked about the studies that were filed, that were tabled with the committee on the last day of public hearings. I think the number was 39 actuarial studies, many of which the government had in its hands months before the hearings even began, and they were not made available to that committee until the final day of public hearings, when there were none of the expert witnesses, the economists, etc, who had appeared before us, people who were very knowledgeable. Actuaries, economists, who could have critically analysed those and made an important contribution to the debate were just simply shut out, as were members of the committee.
Another element of interest, I think, certainly to the public if not to the Liberal backbenchers, is the fact that the government requested preliminary rate filings based on Bill 68 by December 1989, and complete rate filings by the end of January 1990. The government, while the committee was meeting, had in its hands the filings from the insurance industry telling it what this bill was going to cost consumers in the province.
They did not make it available to the public. They did not make it available to the committee. I had to file under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for both the actuarial studies and again for this information. We still have not received all the filings. We finally got an analysis, after the committee hearings were done before we could even look at what the real cost impact was going to be to Ontario consumers. They hid it from us. They had preliminary filings in December and complete filings in January. The committee was meeting in February, and they hid it. They simply did not make it available.
You talk about the actuarial studies. you talk about those rate filings and then you talk about the amendments they brought in, after the committee was done deliberating. We talk about the increase in weekly benefits, for example. When was the decision made to do that, Mr Speaker? I ask you, when was the decision made? All the evidence clearly indicates that decision was made before the committee even started hearings.
We had the president of the brokers’ association present a letter dated October 1989, congratulating the government on increasing the weekly benefits and the other changes it announced with great fanfare in March. Then they quickly said:
“Oh, this is a typographical error. Somebody made a mistake.” I want to say that there was that kind of backroom collusion going on, that kind of effort to keep the public away from the real facts on this issue.
That was the strategy of the government from day one and it continues to be the strategy, to minimize the political damage, the political fallout. It has continued on into this effort to stop the opposition from having a full airing of the concerns that the public has over this piece of legislation. They have essentially restricted the debate to the insurance critic for the New Democratic Party and to myself as the insurance critic for the Conservative Party.
They are not allowing the other members of the opposition -- as I said earlier, there are only 30-some of us. We have 94 Liberal members and only 30-some opposition members, and they are not going to give us the opportunity even to present our amendments in a meaningful way.
We have over 20 amendments representing a multitude of concerns out there in the province, from people dealing with concerns about the psychological injuries and the failure of this government to recognize psychological injuries with respect to the threshold, from the head-injured, from all sorts of groups concerned about future innocent accident victims and the fact that this legislation is going to preclude over 95% of innocent accident victims from taking an at-fault driver to court. That is what this legislation is going to do. They are not going to be able to get compensation. If you are hit in an accident and there is an at-fault driver, you are probably going to be part of that 95% of the Ontario population that is not going to be able to take that at-fault driver to court. The Liberal government does not want you to do it.
Christ, we have to ask --
Mr Breaugh: Whoops.
Mr Runciman: Whoops. We have to ask, why are they doing this? We have to ask, why did they make this decision? Why? Why? Why? The answer is, short-term political gain. At the same time, we have to look at the significant windfall that is accruing to the insurance industry, in the neighbourhood of $1 billion, a windfall to the insurance industry in one year alone of $1 billion.
Talking about the elaborate bureaucracy that is going to be established because of this legislation, we are talking about the dispute resolution system that could be the son of rent control. We are talking about six million drivers. We look at the bureaucratic mess. We look at what rent control is costing is now -- what is it? -- $40 million or $50 million a year, a backlog going back two years, and now we are getting into dispute resolution and the millions of taxpayers’ dollars that is going to cost us, plus the $1-billion windfall to the insurance industry, and the fact that when this legislation goes through, if indeed it goes through, 95% of innocent accident victims in this province are not going to have the opportunity, the right, to take the at-fault driver to court. They are not going to have that right. That right is being removed.
I want to say that the government’s own actuarial studies show a 47.7% net loss of benefits to Ontarians with this legislation going through, close to a 50% loss in benefits. A 50% loss in benefits; a $1 billion windfall to the insurance industry: you lose your right to go to court. The people of Ontario should be damn mad about what this Liberal government is doing to all of us.
We, with our limited numbers in opposition, have an obligation to make sure that we do the best job we possibly can to get the message out, so that more and more people begin to understand what the implications of this legislation are. The reality is that most of us believe we are never going to be in a car accident, but when it does occur, when it happens to you or a member of your family or a close friend, then you are going to reap the whirlwind of this Liberal government’s actions in bringing in this kind of no-fault legislation which is going to eliminate close to 50% of your benefits. You are not going to see any reduction in your premiums, but you are going to lose close to half your benefits, you are going to lose your right to sue in most instances and you are going to give the insurance industry one billion bucks in just one year.
If the people of Ontario start to understand that, those three few basic facts, then perhaps these folks are going to start to feel the heat. The Liberal backbenchers who are not prepared to stand up and speak out maybe are going to start to feel the heat. Maybe the people in their ridings, not just their own Liberal riding associations, are going to demand that they do something about this legislation.
If they stand up in the House, and not be sheephike, not be simple rubber-stampers, but have the intestinal fortitude to stand up, they can be proud of their legislative careers, proud that they took a stand on behalf of their constituents, that they were not here simply in their own interests, looking forward to political gain, political promotion, looking forward to the executive council and the extra bucks, the chauffeur-driven limousine that goes along with it, the access to all the perks, the expense account at taxpayers’ expense.
Those are the overriding concerns of those Liberal members, apparently. They are more concerned about political gain and their own futures than they are about standing up and representing their constituents, and as I said, most importantly, the innocent accident victims in this province in the future, if indeed this legislation goes through.
It is shameful indeed. I have remarked on occasion that it is difficult to comprehend, when you look across the aisle and you do not see these Liberal members being ashamed, you do not see them expressing regret.
What we get are catcalls in here, efforts to impede the debate. What we get is no meaningful input, not one of them prepared to stand up and talk about this legislation. What we get is an attempt to cut off the opposition, to restrict it to two members of the opposition to have meaningful input into this debate. The 30-some members of the opposition who represent thousands of people in Ontario are not going to have an opportunity. All those interested citizens who want their amendments put on the floor and fully debated are not going to have that opportunity afforded to them because the government, the Liberal government says,”We’re only going to give you two days in committee of the whole,” to talk about what is perhaps the most important legislation to face this assembly in a number of years.
Mr Brandt: Unconscionable.
Mr Runciman: It is indeed unconscionable, but there is no sense of embarrassment across there, no regret. I think the people of Ontario better understand what kind of group they are dealing with, with respect to this very, very arrogant Liberal government.
The arrogance has rippled back into the back benches and we have the member for Sudbury telling his own executive to mind its own business: “I am the member. You have nothing to say to me.”
The Speaker: Order. Perhaps the member may look at the clock before anything bursts and he may want to move the adjournment.
On motion by Mr Runciman. the debate was adjourned. The House adjourned at 1802