The House met at 1330.
Mr Kormos: There is only one computerized axial tomography scanner in all of the Niagara Peninsula. As members well know, the need for CAT scanning is expected to grow rather than diminish, because CAT scanning is becoming the diagnostic tool of choice as we enter the I990s.
Members should know that as a result of there only being one CAT scanner in Niagara, the average outpatient wait for a CAT scan for Niagara residents is almost five months, making it the longest wait for an elective CAT scan in the whole province. The waiting periods in Niagara exceeded the guidelines established by the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council as three days for inpatients and two weeks for outpatients as maximum waiting periods.
The need for new CAT scanner facilities in Niagara region has never been more evident and more urgent. It is recommended that there be the immediate establishment and operation of a second CAT scanner within Niagara, and the most appropriate location for that CAT scanner would be in Welland at the Welland County General Hospital.
The Niagara District Health Council was established in 1975 to advise the Minister of Health on the planning and co-ordination of health care services in Niagara region. It is its review, its examination of CAT scanning resources and requirements in the Niagara region. that gives us the information that I have given to members today. It is its recommendation that that second CAT scanner be installed in Niagara region. It is about time the Minister of Health started listening to her own advisory bodies.
ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERATION OF THE NETHERLANDS
Mr J. M. Johnson: Canada has a special place in the hearts of the people of Holland; 45 years ago, Canadian soldiers liberated the Netherlands after five years of occupation by the German army during the Second World War.
The 45th anniversary of liberation was 5 May, and many Canadian veterans of the Second World War had made the trip to Holland to take part in the special celebrations. They were greeted with parades. flowers, receptions and chants of “Thank you, Canada.” It was a joyful and emotional day for everyone. Canadian flags were flown in every town and city, and signs everywhere repeated the message, “Thank you. Canada.”
The Dutch people also remember that Canada provided sanctuary to their royal family during the occupation of their country. Queen Juliana’s daughter Margriet was born in Ottawa during those years and the hospital room declared to be Dutch territory for the occasion. Since war ended, the city of Ottawa has received hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs every year as a gesture of gratitude from the Dutch people.
Let us today remember the dedication of all of those who served in the Canadian forces in Europe. They performed bravely and well, enduring the horrors of war to secure the freedom that we all now enjoy. We also honour the memory of those who did not return, those who paid the ultimate price for freedom’s sake.
We join with the many Ontario citizens of Dutch origin on this happy anniversary and thank them for their contribution to the prosperity of this province.
ANNIVERSARY OF WINERY
Mr Dietsch: Last Thursday, Chateau Gai celebrated 100 years of wine making and officially unveiled its new name and logo. Cartier Wines and Beverages.
The roots of this wine-making company go back as far as 1888 and it has made immeasurable steps within the industry since that time. The winery now employs approximately 500 people and is the second largest supplier of wine to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
On 5 July 1989 Ridout Wines, a division of John Labatt Ltd. was acquired by means of a management buyout. Canada’s most successful manufacturer and distributor of quality wines and beverages became a privately owned company, creating the country’s only employee-owned commercial winery.
Their innovative approach to marketing has led to the success of such products as Canada Cooler, the first light wine, Capistro, as well as juice coolers and carbonated juices. Furthermore. many are beverages with reduced and zero alcohol levels.
At this time, I would like to commend the employees of Cartier for their dedication, as well as the managing partners, Don Triggs, Peter Grainger, Allan Jackson, Rick Thorpe. John Hall and Alan George. for their leadership and commitment to excellence.
Please join with me as I wish Cartier Wines and Beverages another 100 years of successful wine-making in Ontario.
Miss Martel: Last summer the Youth Action program in Sudbury was responsible for creating some 2,500 jobs for students in the city and region; 11 young people promoted the program and encouraged employers and seniors to hire their peers to gain valuable work experience. Everyone attending the closing celebrations agreed the program had been highly successful.
Rumour now has it that the Ministry of Skills Development will be cutting back on its funding to Youth Action. In 1989, the federal ministry of state for youth and Ontario’s Ministry of Skills Development each provided $21,500 to the program, but given the cutbacks in transfer payments announced at the federal level, it appears that share of funding will be reduced. In turn, the provincial government is expected to diminish its contribution to this worthwhile project.
That reduction will be difficult to understand or accept, especially in light of the commitment made by the corporate sector to the program. Last year. Mid-Canada Communications Corp provided free advertising worth $60,000 to promote Youth Action. The office equipment, including chairs, desks etc. was provided free by Muirhead Stationers. Given the major role the private sector has already played to support the program, it would be unreasonable for this government to reduce its funding.
The Youth Action program allows young people to develop administrative and managerial skills while providing a valuable service to employers, seniors and other young people. It is not a program which should be gutted by this government.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION FINANCING
Mr Jackson: It appears that the Minister of Colleges and Universities has misplaced $12.7 million. In the November transfer payment announcements, the minister committed $12.7 million for the construction of La Cité collégiale, the new French-language community college in Ottawa. However, the Treasurer’s budget failed to mention this $12.7-million allocation. Treasury officials, during the budget lockup, indicated that the ministry had decided to rent a building for the new French-language college and therefore the $12.7 million would be transferred into the operating funds allocated to Ontario’s 23 community colleges.
This seems like a reasonable explanation, but it does not correspond with the information that the Chairman of Management Board released on 2 May. The main series estimates for 1990-91 indicate that the $12.7 million is back as a capital allocation for the construction of a new college.
It is clear that the ministry and the Treasurer have different ideas about how this $12.7 million should be spent. If La Cité collégiale is not built in fiscal year 1990-91, the money should revert to operating revenues.
The minister has a responsibility to ensure that precious tax resources allocated to post-secondary education are not clawed back by the Treasurer into his consolidated revenue fund. I suggest that Sean Conway should find his $12.7 million and tell Ontario taxpayers just exactly how he is going to spend it.
Mr Ballinger: I am pleased to rise in the House today, as the member for the riding of Durham-York, and pay tribute to a constituent of mine from the town of Georgina.
Betty Smith was named a recipient of a 1989 community volunteer award, sponsored by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, on 25 April. Mrs Smith was honoured for her work as a volunteer with York Region Home Support Services, serving as a member of the board as well as a member of the local home support services board. She currently chairs the Meals on Wheels committee for York region, which sets standards for the program across the region. She is also instrumental in planning for expansion to unserviced areas.
It was 17 years ago when Mrs Smith founded the first Meals on Wheels unit for York region, serving just four clients. Today this necessary and worthwhile program has expanded to include 400 clients, who receive in excess of 50,000 meals a year. There is no question that without Mrs Smith’s dedication and unselfish contribution, many of those clients would not be able to stay in their own homes, which is why the Meals on Wheels program has been so successful under her guidance.
It has been pointed out many times that Betty Smith is one of the town of Georgina’s and York region’s greatest assets. She is a tremendously dedicated volunteer who certainly has her community’s best interests at heart.
I also want to congratulate the ministry for selecting Mrs Smith as one of the 10 winners from across Ontario. She certainly is worthy of the honour being bestowed upon her at this time.
Mr Hampton: Over the past few weeks, the people of northern Ontario have been treated to some interesting lessons as to how the Minister of Health misspends health care dollars.
Today on the front page of the Globe and Mail we have yet another example. OHIP is paying up to $800 a day for treatment of Ontario drug addicts to attend private clinics in the United States. Documents obtained by the Globe and Mail show, for example, that a Buffalo hospital billed OHIP $24,000 for two treatment visits of 56 days to its clinic. Patients are sent to clinics in New York, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Washington and Texas. The clinics then bill OHIP for 28 days of treatment.
Taxpayers may wonder why this expensive help has to be purchased at high cost in the United States. It is because the Minister of Health, despite all of her pronouncements about having a planned and rational health care system, has missed the boat again. As a result, the taxpayers of Ontario and the citizens of Ontario who urgently need access to health care have to pay the costs again.
People in northern Ontario, who frequently have to wait months on waiting lists to receive needed health care in southern Ontario and then receive only meagre travel assistance to get there, can be forgiven if they wonder who is looking after the books in the Ministry of Health in this government.
ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE DISABLED
Mr Jackson: The Liberal government has an extremely poor record with regard to fulfilling the needs of persons with disabilities. Access to public transportation is nothing short of inadequate in this province. The government made a number of promises during the 1987 election to improve access to public transportation but, unfortunately, has not implemented them. I would like to comment on the progress of some of these two-and-a-half-year-old election promises.
The government promised $2.5 million annually over five years to provide lower transit fees for seniors and the disabled. To date, the government has not spent one cent on the implementation of this program.
To encourage smaller communities to provide special needs transit services, $14.3 million was committed over five years. Almost three years after the promise was made, no money has been spent towards the implementation of this initiative. The program is apparently still in the developmental stages.
The annual supplement of $2.5 million designed to improve access to public transit has also not been spent. Last month the Minister of Transportation announced a $5-billion initiative for public transit in Toronto. It was again disappointing that there was no mention made as to whether or not these new transit systems would be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
It is disappointing that the election promises made by the David Peterson government in 1987 to improve conventional transit are still in the developmental stages. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the government to take immediate measures to ensure that public transportation is accessible to persons with disabilities in Ontario.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Yesterday, Sunday 6 May, was Environment Day in the community of York Mills. More than 350 people from the community came out to help clean up Deer Lake Creek, which is a tributary of the East Don River, to plant over 1,000 trees in association with the North York arborist and view exhibits by such groups as Greenpeace, Pollution Probe, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
It was a good day for all. We got out several tons of garbage from Deer Lake Creek and, as I say, 1,000 trees -- black locusts, maples, white pines and others -- were planted. The community, I think, is beginning to become aware that some action on the environment has to begin locally and an international spirit will only develop after local communities have seen the need for action within their community.
In addition, four public schools, Denlow Public School, Owen Public School, Dunlace Public School and Milneford Junior High School, participated through a poster campaign. Over 150 posters were submitted and some were selected as being most representative of the community’s aspiration for a cleaner environment. It was a wonderful day for all.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements. I might just say that I noted in a couple of members’ statements that members referred to members of the House, not by their riding but by their given name and surname, and that is a tradition we try to stay away from.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order in relation to section 104 and subsections 106(a) and 106(b) of the standing orders, Mr Speaker: I rise as the critic for the New Democratic Party for Education, Skills Development and Colleges and Universities and as a member of the social development committee of this House, because I have learned just today that the standing committee on resources development is planning on meeting this afternoon and has already decided to deal with the matter of workplace literacy under its mandate this afternoon and has an agenda proposed, which I would like to show you, which you will note was designed for a subcommittee meeting last week which was not held and is now the agenda for this week.
I rise because in section 104 of our standing orders, you will note that we established certain committees with certain titles, one of them being the standing committee on social development, another being the standing committee on resources development, and then we describe what those committees shall be allowed to do. Under 106(a) it says that committees “shall, in addition to any other powers granted to them, be authorized to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the ministries and offices which are assigned to them from time to time, as well as the agencies, boards and commissions reporting to such ministries and offices.” Standing order 106(b) allows the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to prescribe those ministries from time to time.
Mr Speaker, I would like to raise with you the fact that in the appendices to our standing orders, you will notice the requirements of the standing committee on social development and on resources development and you will see that the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Skills Development are all under the purview of the standing committee on social development. Workplace literacy falls under the Ministry of Skills Development, not under any ministry which is under the ambit of the committee on resources development. Some other aspects of literacy fall under other ministries, but they fall under Education and they fall under Colleges and Universities, both of which are under the committee on social development.
I did not know where to go with this concern. Here I am the critic for these matters, and a member of a committee responsible for these matters, and I discover that this afternoon another committee is going to be dealing with these matters, contrary to our standing orders as I read them. The social development committee does not sit today; so I cannot raise this problem with my Chair. Perhaps some communication can be made to the Chairman of the resources development committee and the members of that committee. No official correspondence has come from this committee to our committee since its decisions last month, I understand, to undertake this kind of matter, or to any of the critics involved in this matter.
I want to know what, if we allow this to continue, there is to prevent any committee from dealing with the same matter that any other committee might choose to deal with. Our standing orders are made precisely for the organization of the time of those committees and in a most appropriate manner. I would ask you, sir, to rule under section 106(a), and our appendices that are attached, that this decision of the standing committee on resources development is out of order and that it not be allowed to sit on this matter until you have ruled on it, if you are not willing to take that decision this afternoon.
The Speaker: First of all, I do not want to suggest that the member be cut down the middle so that he can be in two places at once. I find it difficult with the request made by the member because, as has been my custom and knowledge in the past in this Legislature, it has been pretty well left up to the committees to set their own agenda. I also am aware that many of the agendas are set by the House leaders. I am just in a little quandary to make a decision. If the House would allow me, I would like to discuss it further with the member. I hope it can be resolved that way.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On the matter of this committee meeting this afternoon on this matter, though, I would like to know whether or not you think it should meet on this matter when it is clearly outside of its jurisdiction by our standing orders.
Mr Jackson: I would like to support the point raised by the member. Our caucus is in the exact same position, with my time having to be divided between two committees as well. We certainly would support an interim ruling from you that the committee not meet today until you have had time to reflect further on that. We would support that application.
The Speaker: As I stated earlier, I do not really believe, to my knowledge, that it is up to the Speaker to rule on whether a committee does or does not meet. Probably the best solution to this difficulty would be for the member to go immediately to that committee and make the conflict known, and hopefully the committee could make a decision. But I will discuss it further with the member.
Mr Laughren: On that point of order, if I might --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Wildman: He is the Chairman of the committee.
The Speaker: I was not aware of that. Fine, I would not want to keep the Chair of the committee from making brief remarks on the matter.
Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, I do not wish to prolong the debate, but perhaps it would make your job a little easier as well if, as Chair of the committee, I did not proceed with the meeting this afternoon until we have heard your decision, hopefully in the next day or so.
The Speaker: That is a very helpful suggestion, but I still think it would be up to the committee to make that decision.
Mrs E. J. Smith: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: I just wanted to point out that this particular item, when it was sent forward by this committee, was sent forward as workplace illiteracy, and I think it was in the nature of workplace illiteracy that it was seen as not inappropriate.
The Speaker: With respect to the operation of the House, I did make my comments, but before I did, I did look around to see whether any other members wanted to speak, so I think there has probably been enough debate on that matter now.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mrs McLeod: Ontario residents are reaffirming, in unprecedented numbers, how much they value trees.
Few other natural resources contribute more to our wellbeing and comfort. Trees consume carbon dioxide and give back oxygen. They shelter and feed wildlife, prevent soil erosion and provide raw materials for a tremendous range of products, from book paper to baseball bats, toothpicks to turpentine.
A growing number of individuals and corporations in Ontario want to plant trees. My ministry has received a tide of requests in recent months. One example is a personal request from Avie Bennett, chairman and president of McClelland and Stewart publishing house. He and his wife, I understand, have been reducing, reusing and recycling around their home for 20 years, and in recent years his company has switched to printing its books on acid-free, recyclable paper.
He told me that he and his company want to do much more: They want to replace the trees that originally produced the 1,500 tonnes of paper McClelland and Stewart use every year. Avie Bennett is just one of the many corporate leaders who want to offer environmental leadership. These companies are sincerely concerned and are doing something about it.
But Mr Bennett and his counterparts are not foresters. To succeed, they will need additional help and expertise. Already groups such as Trees for Today and Tomorrow and Friends of the Earth have expressed an interest in providing this service. But the demand has been overwhelming; more effort is needed.
That is why I am pleased to announce the creation of Trees Ontario. It is a non-profit foundation to help corporations, groups and individuals that want to plant trees. Trees Ontario will also ensure that trees are planted properly and are tended so that they will survive.
This new foundation is a co-operative venture involving the Ontario Forestry Association and the Ministry of Natural Resources. The association will provide forestry expertise and administrative support; the ministry will support Trees Ontario until the foundation attracts corporate funding and can become independent. Guiding the foundation will be a board of trustees made up of people drawn from Ontario’s leading conservation agencies.
A number of organizations have been requested to submit names of potential board members. These include the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Forestry Association, the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Ontario Forest Industries Association, the Association of Conservation Authorities of Ontario, the Ontario Lumber Manufacturers Association and the Conservation Council of Ontario.
This is how it will work: Individuals, groups or corporations that want to plant trees will contact Trees Ontario. The foundation will help design a project that will succeed, arrange for a supply of seedlings and enough private, municipal or Crown land suitable for planting. Almost any size project can be accommodated. The foundation will then help to arrange for enough community volunteers to plant the trees and, afterward, arrange for regular inspections and tending.
This year. my ministry has set aside 500,000 trees for planting by Trees Ontario. Within a few years, we expect the foundation should be helping Ontarians plant more than five million trees annually. We expect thousands of people and scores of corporations are going to get involved. Sponsoring a tree is like giving the environment a gift that keeps giving back for 100 years or more.
The efforts of the foundation will be a welcome supplement to the existing reforestation efforts of the Ministry of Natural Resources which last year undertook the largest forest management program in the history of Ontario, a program which will continue this year.
At this time, I would like to introduce Thor Eaton, who has agreed to be honorary chairman of Trees Ontario, and Robert Staley, president of the Ontario Forestry Association.
I would also like to recognize in the gallery the following representatives from organizations or corporations supporting Trees Ontario: Aird Lewis from Trees for Today and Tomorrow; Avie Bennett. chairman and president of McClelland and Stewart publishing; Sara Feldman, director of public relations for Nabisco Brands Ltd; David Lindsay, president of Duracell; Councillor Tony O’Donohue representing the city of Toronto; Kai Millyard from Friends of the Earth, and Joy Neill, president of the Tree Seedlings Growers’ Association of Ontario.
Mr Wildman: I would like to respond briefly to the statement just made by the Minister of Natural Resources re Trees Ontario. This is a welcome development in relation to the need for environment protection, particularly as we are concerned about global warming. However, I am concerned about a couple of things.
I note that we have Mr Millyard from the Friends of the Earth as one of the proposed directors. I am wondering how this campaign will relate to the campaign already under way involving Friends of the Earth in Canada, an international campaign called Global Releaf, and whether or not this will mean that Trees Ontario might in some way be in competition for corporate sponsorship. It would be unfortunate if the two could not be integrated and related to one another.
I note also that the minister says the ministry will be making 500,000 trees available to Trees Ontario this year. I would hope that in the future the ministry will not in fact be making available seedlings that the ministry has produced itself, or purchased from contractors for its own reforestation program. but rather will be using some of the seedlings that have been dumped by contractors over the last few years because this ministry has not had enough funding to purchase all the seedlings that have been produced by the private nurseries that produce them on behalf of the ministry and the forest management agreement programs.
I also want to ensure that, as the minister indicated, the Trees Ontario program will in fact be a supplement to the ministry’s ongoing reforestation program and the efforts of the ministry and the industry under the FMAs. It would be most unfortunate if the Treasurer, in his own inimitable way, decides that since there is additional corporate financing for reforestation of this sort in Ontario, the ministry’s request for increasing its reforestation budget next year and in years following would not be necessary to be met by the Treasury of this province.
We have seen in the past when the Ministry of Natural Resources, under the minister’s predecessor, made a commitment to have an upgraded and expanded fish habitat and fish restocking program in this province based on a user fee, the licence for fishing in this province, a promise that this would indeed be funded and be in addition to the ongoing program for fish restocking and improvements to fish habitats. In fact, we found subsequently, as some cynics predicted, that that money somehow found its way into the other aspects of the ministry’s fish and wildlife program, such as funding the hiring of conservation officers.
I understand that this is a foundation, so the Treasurer and the minister will not be able to get their hands on any of this funding. That is worth while and something that is a useful approach.
However, I want to emphasize again that while we welcome this effort that will add to the greening, I am sure, of many municipal lands across the province, the efforts on crown lands, while welcome, will not in any way replace but rather supplement the efforts of the ministry for reforestation on crown lands in this province.
Mrs Marland: In responding to the statement by the Minister of Natural Resources regarding Trees Ontario, I want to say at the outset that we actually applaud the government’s efforts to get corporations involved in environmental initiatives. However, our concern is, what is there to ensure that these corporations that will be involved are undertaking environmental initiatives within their own companies and to ensure the products being promoted are environmentally friendly, like McClelland and Stewart publishing?
We hope that this is not just a ticket for an easy ride for corporate polluters to jump on a green bandwagon. We have actually heard at first hand that apparently one of the first corporations that will be involved will be Duracell, the battery manufacturer. I know the minister mentioned that in her statement of the appointments. We are wondering about Duracell’s own battery program. If Duracell is going to give money to Trees Ontario based on the sale of its alkaline batteries, then we really have to question that aspect from the fact that a battery program like this links environmental consciousness with the purchase of a product that in fact creates more waste and could be hazardous if disposed of in a landfill.
Last week, the Minister of the Environment said he would allow the soft drink industry to reduce its use of refillable bottles and create more waste. This week, the government will promote the consumption of a hazardous household product when it should be promoting reduction of such products or safe alternatives and safe disposal methods. Obviously, in this announcement this week they are going to be using tree planting to justify their actions. We have been told that Duracell will only make the donation for the sale of alkaline batteries, not rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries contain hazardous materials, including mercury. The incineration or landfilling of waste containing batteries can pollute air and water. The Danish people have banned mercury oxide batteries to ensure they are not incinerated.
Rechargeable batteries can be recharged as often as 500 times, so we are really questioning that the government is willing to accept only the ordinary batteries. Although more expensive initially, rechargeables can work out to be cheaper in the long run. They can be recharged several times during the normal life of an equivalent alkaline battery. The government’s program should be promoting rechargeable batteries to increase consumer use of this safer alternative. In announcing this program, the government has again failed to recognize the reduction and reuse components of the 3Rs program.
The government should not be preying on the public’s concern for the environment to help sell products that could have hazardous effects on the environment. When the Minister of the Environment announced he would relax the soft drink container regulation to allow the industry to use more non-refillable containers, he said that the consumers showed a preference for soft drinks in tins. Does this mean the government is willing to relax all environmental regulations when consumers show a preference for something that is not environmentally compatible? Instead of promoting environmentally safe alternatives, as this government should be, and finding solutions to our waste problem, the government is encouraging the production of even more waste.
I think that to announce the availability of 500,000 trees for planting under the Trees Ontario program is great, but it would be really great if it were a total commitment to trees in Ontario without any strings attached. The fact is that this government has the power to promote environmental programs that we can all be proud of and not be tied to the corporate sector, especially that sector which in itself is selling something that is harmful and a great deal of concern to the environment; namely, the alkaline batteries.
Mr B. Rae: My question, in the absence of others, is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. He will today be in receipt of a devastating report on the problem of elevators that have been uninspected for several years because of the substantial drop in the number of inspections and in the number of inspectors, at the same time as the number of installations obviously has increased very substantially.
I want to ask the minister why his government would have sat on a report from Price Waterhouse which was published in 1987 and which states very clearly:
“The significant backlog in planned inspections (approximately 7,200) could result in safety problems. Moreover the ministry could be criticized for allowing this situation to develop. If a significant occurrence materializes, the government could be open to criticism if inspections have not been carried out when scheduled.”
That shows that back in 1987 the government was aware of the problem. Why did the government sit on the problem for so long when the government knew how serious it has been getting out there?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am certainly aware of the press conference that was held this morning and the remarks made by Mr Clancy, who, of course, is president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
The thing that disturbs me a little bit is not what Mr Chancy had to say at his press conference, but that the Leader of the Opposition would associate himself with the press conference and with the remarks that were made there. The fact is that rarely in my years in politics have I seen such a misleading document, so much hyperbole in any one document, and I really regret that the Leader of the Opposition has taken the tack that he has.
The fact is and the truth is that elevators in this province are safe. To suggest otherwise, either Mr Chancy suggesting otherwise or the Leader of the Opposition suggesting otherwise, is just clearly irresponsible.
Mr B. Rae: I asked the minister to comment on Price Waterhouse. Is he saying that the Price Waterhouse report is also incorrect in 1987 when it said that the significant backlog in planned inspections could result in safety problems? Is he denying that this is what it said in 1987, or is he simply saying that that is wrong?
Is the minister denying that whereas in 1976-77 there were 22,000 active installations, 10 years later there were some 28,000 installations? That means installations have gone up. Is he denying that total inspections have gone down since that time from 31,000 to 26,000? The minister has to come clean.
The fact of the matter is that the number of installations has gone up; the number of inspections has gone down. The minister does not even have as many inspectors as the ministry says there are supposed to be in his own ministry. Is he denying those facts to be the case?
Hon Mr Sorbara: Once again, I say to the Leader of the Opposition that if he wants to involve himself and participate in these sorts of silly scare tactics, that is entirely up to him. Let me tell him that the system we have in place in 1990 is far better than the system we had in place in 1985 and the system we had in place in 1987.
Very recently the ministry has been allocated some $5.1 million in funds to create a tracking system so that we have an accurate record of inspections on every single elevator in the province. It is a system, I just might point out, that will allow us, if we find a problem in inspecting one elevator, to know every other elevator in the province that might potentially develop that problem.
I want to reiterate to my friend the Leader of the Opposition, his fellow New Democratic Party members and anyone who is listening to this question period that they ought not to pay any heed to the silliness of Mr Clancy this morning.
Mr B. Rae: I mentioned Price Waterhouse. I had also mentioned the assistant deputy minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As he said in a letter dated 4 May 1990, writing to Terry Baxter: “We continue to have recruitment difficulties in the elevating devices branch. This has a direct effect on the workload of operational staff.” That is from the minister’s own assistant deputy minister. I assume that he is not silly.
The coroner’s jury which dealt with the tragic accident of Mr Shale in the Lord Elgin Hotel, which the minister will be familiar with, described this horrendous accident in which Mr Shale, who was a visitor to Canada, was partially decapitated and killed because an elevator was misoperating. They stated that evidence was heard that “the elevator had been giving problems since it was handed over to the hotel on May 16 following renovations... .No inspection had been carried out by the ministry.”
Those are not the words of whoever it is the minister wants to attack; those are the words of a coroner’s jury. The others are the words of his own assistant deputy minister. The minister has a shortage of inspectors and fewer inspections going on today than were going on before. He cannot deny those facts. What is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Sorbara: The first thing I would like to do is refer the Leader of the Opposition to the coroner’s report following the death at the Lord Elgin Hotel. If he took the time to read it, he would find in the report that the question of inspections and the lack of inspections in the course of the work that was done on that elevator did not contribute at all to the death in that case.
Let’s talk for a second about the number of inspections and what is contained in the report. For example, Mr Clancy says in his report that there are not enough inspections done at Commerce Court right here in the city of Toronto. What he fails to mention is that there are three full-time elevator contractors at that very facility who spend all of their working days making sure that every one of the elevators in that facility is safe and working at all times.
To suggest anything else, and I really regret the fact the Leader of the Opposition is doing this, I think is doing a terrible disservice to the people of this province.
Mr B. Rae: My new question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister will know that through the genius of the law it is possible for the owner of land, through a will, to bequeath several lots on the land. In other words, it is possible for a will, or a testamentary device as it is called, to be used to subvert the protection of agricultural land.
We now have very substantial evidence from the Niagara Peninsula that in fact this practice of using wills to get around the protection of agricultural land has become a very substantial problem, so substantial that the minister, as I am sure he will be aware, has received much correspondence from the regional council in Niagara and indeed suggestions that this particular loophole be closed.
I want to ask the minister what he is going to do to close the loophole under which valuable farm land is being host today in the Niagara Peninsula. Many more acres will be host unless the loophole is closed.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I want to thank the honourable member for raising this issue because I share his concern with it. As soon as it was brought to my attention I immediately asked my staff for a history of how we got to this particular point.
I was advised that back in 1983, when the Planning Act was being rewritten, the possibility of this type of event occurring was drawn to the attention of the government. They did a legal investigation and were advised there was obviously a clear conflict between the legislation dealing with the sanctity of wills and that dealing with the Planning Act of the province of Ontario. A decision was made not to change the act at that time.
Subsequent to that, and over the last four or five years, I guess it has been now, the staff at the ministry have been watching to see whether or not anyone has been taking advantage of this particular situation, and the evidence simply has not been there.
However, the honourable member has drawn attention to a specific set of concerns in the Niagara Peninsula. I have, as a matter of fact, just this morning been in touch with Mr Dick, the regional chairman. I indicated to him that we share his concern and that we are once again doing a legal analysis of what can be changed in the legislation to prevent the misuse of this particular operation.
Mr B. Rae: This is taking place right under the minister’s nose. He should understand. For example, we know in one case that has now been documented very particularly, a widow sells the land to a developer for $200,000, let’s say. The developer sells it back to the widow for $1. The lots are then devised in such a way that some of the lots are bequeathed to her family, but the vast majority of the lots are bequeathed to the developer and other individuals. This all takes place a week before the widow dies.
There is something very wrong with the law if we see the Planning Act and the whole principle of protecting agricultural land being subverted in this way. At this point, this is all entirely legal. The minister has had correspondence on this. He has had the evidence put in front of him as to what is going on. Is the minister going to chose this loophole, yes or no?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I am aware of the particular incident that the leader has described and, as I drew to his attention, our experience over the last number of years is in fact that where this procedure has been used, it has been used in a legitimate fashion.
I think we have had something like about 10 examples over the last few years, and in each case it has been a legitimate demise in the family, a legitimate will, and the number of lots being created was in the neighbourhood of five, six or seven, usually for children of the deceased person. As long as that was occurring, as the honourable member said, it is certainly legal. As long as it was occurring in that way, the decision of the government was not to make any changes.
However, the particular type of procedure he described has been brought to our attention, and that is why I told Mr Dick this morning that we, for the last number of weeks, have been looking at the legal ramifications of changing the law of wills in this province. However, I think the honourable member, with his own legal background, would know the difficulties in that area and how careful one must be not in any way to prohibit a person from making a legitimate will that would carry out his or her particular wishes.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Sweeney: That is where we are having the difficulty. We want to be sure that in solving the problem, we do not create another one.
The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the minister if he will look at the report which has been made available. I am sure he has seen it. The report, dated 25 April 1990, and adopted by the regional council of Niagara on 3 May 1990, refers to a number of examples: a parcel of land of 11.5 acres; a parcel of land of approximately 54 acres; another one of 25 acres; another one of 225 acres; several other potential lots in the city of Niagara Falls, the town of Pelham, the city of St Catharines, Fort Erie.
This problem is obviously widespread, and it is increasingly going to be a problem because of the crisis in agriculture which the minister is familiar with, and in particular because of the crisis in the tender fruit market and the grape market. The minister knows the pressures that are on farmers in this area, the tremendous pressures that are on development, and he knows the activities of developers in this area. What is he going to do, not after the horse has long bolted but before the problem becomes an epidemic? What is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable leader has asked basically the same question three times. For the third time, the honourable member should let me share once again the fact that a legal analysis, a legal review and a series of legal interpretations are being brought to my attention as the minister.
When I am assured that we can resolve this particular loophole without in any way detracting from the sanctity of people to make legitimate wills, then I am prepared to make a change. But I am not prepared to make the change to close this particular loophole, as concerned as I am with it -- and the leader’s question is certainly a legitimate question to raise -- if I am going to create another problem another way.
In other words, I am prepared to make the change, I am prepared to resolve the difficulty, but I want to do it in a legally appropriate way. I think the honourable leader would appreciate that.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Health. I was shocked to learn of the trail of human misery that is occurring between Ontario and the United States with respect to the number of drug addicts who must go to a foreign jurisdiction in order to receive treatment as a result of the limited number of facilities that are available in Ontario. These particular numbers, according to press reports, are reaching alarming proportions.
Is the minister aware of the problem with respect to the number of people who find it necessary to go to the United States for treatment for drug addiction? And what does the minister intend to do about it?
Hon Mrs Caplan: First, as a clarification on policy for the leader of the third party, Ontario health insurance coverage for out-of-country treatment for alcohol and drug addiction is provided to Ontario residents in the same manner as assistance is provided for any illness. I am pleased to tell the member opposite that funding during the last three years for alcohol and drug addiction programs has increased by some 126%, from $19.1 million to $43.3 million this past year.
Mr Brandt: That was a very interesting answer to a question that I did not ask. The question I asked is, what is the minister doing about the increased numbers of individuals with addiction problems who find it necessary to go to the United States?
The minister indicates that there has been an increase in funding. Let me indicate to the minister the increase in the severity of the problem. In 1984-85 there were 654 Ontario residents who received treatment paid for by OHIP in the United States. In 1987-88 that number had just about doubled. That was over the course of about three years.
Since it is not a cost-saving matter that we are talking about, having these patients treated in the United States, it could well be less expensive to have them treated here in Ontario if facilities were available. The minister is paying anyway. Why is she allowing this problem to continue, namely, Ontario residents going to the United States to receive treatment that is paid for by 0HIP when it should be provided here in Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I find it passing strange that the leader of the third party, whose party did virtually nothing in the way of providing appropriate programming when it had the opportunity, would really stand in this House and ask this question. I already told him the tremendous strides that we are making in improving not only treatment but also prevention opportunities. This government has taken an overall strategic approach by developing an anti-drug strategy.
As part of that strategy I want to tell the member as well that we have a treatment advisory committee made up of 12 members from across the province. This was announced by my colleague the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy, who is heading up this very important program. This treatment advisory committee will examine existing methods of treatment for drug abusers, look at treatment programs and recommend future treatment approaches.
I want to say to the member opposite that while there is always room for improvement in the programs here in Ontario, during the same period of time over the last three years alone, the number of programs have increased from 93 to 150 here in Ontario.
Mr Brandt: The minister should be aware that drug users entering the United States are doing so illegally, as a result of US law. She is well aware of that. She is also well aware of the fact that many who are close to the drug scene in a professional capacity, as counsellors and those working in treatment centres, have indicated that the drug problem in this province may well be reaching epidemic proportions as a result of the increased numbers.
The amount of money that the ministry is contributing towards this problem admittedly has increased. The amount of money, however, that she is spending in a foreign jurisdiction, namely, to the south of us, is going up by leaps and bounds as a result of people who are being forced as a result of lack of facilities in Ontario to go to the United States.
The minister is paying the bills anyway. Why does she not pay the bills for the residents of this province for treatment in this province rather than forcing them to go to another jurisdiction to get that treatment?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows full well, I think, people in Ontario choose for a variety of reasons to access services in alternative locations. I want to point out to him that as recently as last March, just a few weeks ago, my colleague announced a substantive and important enhancement of treatment resources here in Ontario. For example, through the Ministry of Health some $2 million in capital funding is being made available to the Donwood Institute. As well, $1.6 million specifically targeted for youth drug treatment programs was announced by my colleague. We are making progress in addressing a program need that was left unattended by the former government for quite some time. I am proud of the progress that we are making here in Ontario and I am sure he is too.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Last Monday the minister announced with great fanfare the provincial government’s proposal for the future of Harbourfront. He also stated in his announcement that Darcy McKeough has been appointed by the federal government to implement the provincial report. He talks in his press conference about representing the federal government in the implementation of the provincial government report.
Oddly enough, Mr McKeough’s mandate is to study all the reports that have been tabled. In the federal press release, it is not a foregone conclusion that the provincial ideas will automatically be adopted. I have the press release here in which Elmer MacKay, federal Minister of Public Works, says, “After an in-depth analysis of these very complex proposals, we still retain some elements of concern and we would like to meet with provincial representatives to see how these concerns can be addressed.”
Why would the minister lead us to believe that the Ontario government report would form the basis of an agreement on Harbourfront?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Primarily because we had agreed with the federal government when we started that there were three goals we were aiming for. The first one was to remove the condominium buildings off the waterfront. The federal government agrees with that. We indicated how it could be done. The second one was to protect the financial and land interests of the city of Toronto. They wanted that to happen. We showed them how it could be done. The third one was their agreement with the Crombie report -- the honourable member might remember back in August, I think, of last year -- which strongly recommended that Harbourfront itself should no longer be a development entity but only a programming entity.
All three of those goals were contained within the report we gave to the federal government. They had indicated to us in our meetings with them that they supported the achievement of those three goals. They said right from the very beginning -- as I said from the very beginning -- that the detailed application of reaching that may change. That is their option. They own the land; we do not. We were an honest broker between them and the other partners.
Mr Cousens: It is less than an implementation then of the minister’s report and proposals. There is still a great deal of negotiation and working out with different levels of government, because we have the federal government, the city of Toronto and the province all involved in this, and it is not in any way resolved as to how it will be finally settled.
There is a question that comes out in the report. On page 63, it outlines the terms on which the developers Huang and Danczkay, the Hawley group and Ramparts will relinquish their waterfront sites south of Queen’s Quay. Under each proposal, the developers receive various parcels of land under special terms and they will cease to pay leasing fees to Harbourfront in exchange for their original sites.
Is the minister in support of the deal that gives these developers public land for free and exempts them from paying leasing fees to Harbourfront, some $86 million that is used to sustain Harbourfront’s cultural activities? Is he in favour of that kind of relinquishing?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would remind my honourable friend that when I, as the minister, announced a zoning order placed on those lands for the purposes I described to him in my first answer, the response from all quarters -- the city, the federal government, Harbourfront and some in the public -- was that it cannot be done, that it was impossible, that the deal was set, that no changes could be made and that you just had to accept that fact.
The second response was that if you could make a change, it would cost $100 million of money from some level of government in order to accomplish that. The fact remains that it was done despite the fact that everybody said it could not be. The fact remains that there is not one additional extra cent from any level of government in order to complete it.
Mr Cousens: Maybe the minister then, to clarify some of the concerns I have, could table with the House and with myself copies of the agreements with each of those developers so that we could see what he traded off for. I would be very interested if that could be made available to us.
The minister in his announcement also said there was an endowment of $50 million that will yield some $5 million a year for the ongoing cultural activities at Harbourfront. Yet when you start seeing the kind of money it takes to provide excellent cultural activities, the moneys that he is going to make available to them now are even less than what the Art Gallery of Ontario gets. They would have an endowment of $160 million in order to provide what they need. The Ontario Science Centre would require an endowment of $246 million, Ontario Place of $94 million and the Royal Ontario Museum of $380 million; so the kinds of dollars the minister is talking about really do not begin to do that much.
How can the minister be satisfied with a provincial proposal that not only strips Harbourfront of its ability to generate revenue but threatens the cultural activities it was designed to provide?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Going back to my colleague’s editorial comment, if I can use it that way, he will see from the description in the report that the buildings that were on the water’s edge are simply moving back, north of Queen’s Quay, and occupying another site that had already been identified for a building, so it was just a site-for-site exchange.
With respect to the funding, at the present time Harbourfront is spending for its programming purposes -- let’s make it very clear that they have two very distinct functions and two budgets, their programming function and their development function. For their programming purposes they are spending somewhere in the neighbourhood of about $13 million. A $50-million endowment would produce at 12%, not 10% -- I mean, you can go out into the market and get 12% or more, given today’s rates -- somewhere between $6 million and $7 million a year.
The member should keep in mind also that part of Harbourfront’s current revenue is the fees it receives from the rental of its programming buildings -- not the development buildings, the programming buildings -- and ticket sales and things like that. That comes to in the neighbourhood of $5 million or $6 million a year. So we are talking of the combination of the fees and the endowment producing the same money they are getting now to carry out today’s programs. I would also remind him that --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr Kormos: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. This government tells us that it is going to spend almost $10 million in the first year of its automobile insurance commission’s new life. That is after this government has given the insurance industry everything it has asked for. Indeed, beyond that, it has given the insurance industry in Ontario more than it dared ask for. It is after this government refuses to incorporate one -- not one -- of the many recommendations made to it by critics of this bad legislation. Another $10 million: How can that be justified when all this is just window dressing for what is a $1-billion giveaway, to the industry, that is contained in Bill 68?
Hon Mr Elston: I am glad the honourable member has asked me a question. Finally I can get the floor to straighten him out and provide some factual material for the people of the province.
First of all, let me tell the honourable gentleman that because of the requirement for the new insurance commission to act on behalf of the consumers, there is a need to upgrade the people who are going to be dealing directly, on behalf of the consumers, with the insurance industry. There is also a need to increase the number of staff who will be dealing with the alternative dispute resolution portion of the bill, and as a result there will be people doing mediation and arbitration on behalf of the consumers when they have a dispute with the insurance industry.
This particular legislation is designed to give reasonable cost to the people who must have insurance -- that is everybody who drives in Ontario -- and good benefit levels to protect the people against being left high and dry, as it were, as often occurs under the current levels of no-fault and under the current tort law. This legislation is a balanced approach to cost-effective provision of services of insurance coverage for the people of the province, unlike the impression the honourable gentleman would try to heave for the people of the province.
Mr Kormos: I will tell members this: With this Bill 68 from the Liberals, this government is rolling over for the auto insurance industry here in Ontario. This auto insurance legislation and its companion commission are going to deny 95% of all innocent injured victims the right to be compensated. It is going to result in a net decrease in benefits. It is going to result in insurance premiums for drivers in this province going up by as much as 50% and, we know for a third of a million, by as much as 80%.
This government would not enforce the legislation that put so-called freezes or caps on premiums. This government would not control the industry when it engaged in premium flips and premium shuffles. This government would not control the industry when it arbitrarily denied people auto insurance coverage. This government refuses to debate the very bill that it says it is prepared to talk about. Why carry on the charade of doing anything other than simply giving the auto insurance industry what it wants, everything that it wants?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman says that we refuse to debate, after over a month of his yammering on and precluding any other member, preventing anybody in this House from standing and addressing the issues, which he has put in his own socialist fashion so that he can frustrate the introduction of a reasonable plan to provide benefits to the people who are driving in this province. He cannot stand and say that we will not debate the bill. He has prevented the democratic institution of this Legislature from going forward to examine the real provisions of this act, which are to provide a benefit that is balanced against price so that people can in fact afford to have insurance coverage in the province.
Mr Kormos: You won’t debate.
Hon Mr Elston: No-fault benefits have been increased hugely, so that we can provide the basic support that is required for people when they get into accidents. We have gone now so that people in the basic coverage will have $600 per week of tax-free coverage, if in fact they earn the gross salary that takes them to that level. If they require more, there is the option to purchase it.
Mr Kormos: You sold out the drivers. You sold out the taxpayers. You sold out --
Hon Mr Elston: But even now that member for Welland-Thorold is barracking away, after days and weeks and hours of continuous yammering, which precluded even the members of the third party, who I would compare as being almost reasonable when measured against his perpetual and continual blabbering, from taking part so that we could get on with this. I hope the debate can move forward and we can --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. I hope many of the members will allow the member for Simcoe East to ask a question.
ORILLIA SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Health and it concerns the redevelopment of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. Almost three years ago -- as a matter of fact, the day before the election was called -- the former minister committed $30 million to the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. Since that time the community has raised some $5.8 million to help that project, which was valued at about $45 million. Is that $30 million still there for the hospital and when can it start the project?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to tell the member in the House, as I have told every community across this province, that the total capital dollars committed to any region stand for the purpose of providing appropriate capital facilities within the overall capital framework that has been announced. I want him to know that the County of Simcoe District Health Council, along with all of the partners, the hospitals, will begin a review to look at how those capital resources can best be used to meet the needs of the people on a regional basis. I understand those discussions are beginning.
Mr McLean: I want to thank the minister for her commitment of that $30 million, and I am sure it will be forthcoming when the necessary plans are completed. Since the minister has committed that $30 million now, when will it be able to start with the new addition?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to be very, very clear to the member opposite and to all members of this House. We know review is under way to ensure that the service needs of Orillia are considered in the context of regional planning for Simcoe county. I want him to know that the district health council is very involved in this process, and as well I am aware that the ministry considers the development of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Bane as a priority for the region.
AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING SERVICE
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Several weeks ago the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food announced that the number of staff in the agricultural engineering service of the ministry was being reduced. Could the minister tell us how farmers can obtain information about building plans and other engineering projects?
Hon Mr Ramsay: In answer to my friend across the way, I would like to say that tomorrow we will be announcing the final establishment of the 12 new engineering specialist positions throughout the province. It is interesting to note that when we examined this service, we found that the majority of the requests to our engineers by farmers or other clients was for basically off-the-shelf plans, technical fact sheets and other technical information. From there, we found that our farm clients basically used that information themselves or hired contractors to carry out the work. We feel that service is in place and that really only 27% of the time of our ag engineers was used in direct contact with our farm clients.
Mr Tatham: Could the minister tell us where the specialists are located and what their duties will be?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I could look up a list here for the honourable member. It just so happens there is one in Woodstock, and I am sure the member is pleased with that. Others are located in Stratford, Alfred, Wayford, Vineland Station, Clinton, London, St Thomas, Waterloo, Fergus, Nepean, Brighton and Newmarket. As I said before to the member, I will be announcing who the specialists are and what their specialty is with regard to these locations. I feel that we have a service here that will serve Ontario farmers well.
Mr D. S. Cooke: In the absence of the Minister of the Environment, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier will be aware that there are a large number of environmental problems on the border between Detroit and Windsor. Last week, decisions were made by the Michigan authorities that while the Detroit incinerator, the world’s largest incinerator, did not meet proper standards and was emitting all sorts of chemicals that were not satisfactory, it was going to be given seven years to bring that brand-new incinerator up to standard.
Does the Premier agree with me that it is time the Ontario government, led by himself, had a summit with the Governor of Michigan on boundary environmental problems so that we can solve some of these major problems that are impinging on the Windsor area?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am obviously very happy to do anything we can do that is constructive in these discussions. As the member knows, we have worked together with Michigan on a number of problems we have had. I remember the great Dow blob of a couple of years ago and that kind of thing.
As the member knows, there has been a very serious difference of opinion over this incinerator. Ontario has been in court on this particular matter. The Ministry of the Environment has been extremely aggressive about it. Certainly I do not preclude doing anything that can be constructive in the circumstances, but my honourable friend knows that at the end of the day we do not have the power or the jurisdiction on this side of the border. That does not mean we will not pursue this as vigorously as we can in the courts.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think that at the political level the Premier could establish a direct meeting with the Governor of Michigan only on environmental issues. Perhaps the Governor of Michigan would want to talk about our problems down Sarnia way and some of the things the Ontario government could do to clean up its act as well.
Specifically, today a barge operation is beginning in Windsor that will be crossing from Windsor to Detroit carrying dangerous goods. The Minister of the Environment here in Ontario has been saying for several weeks that he is going to establish an environmental assessment if the federal government does not. The federal government made its decision last Friday that it was not going to carry out an environmental assessment. This government still has not decided. Is it or is it not going to approve an environmental assessment and stop this barge while that environmental assessment is carried out by the provincial government?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have not had an opportunity to speak with the Minister of the Environment today on that subject but, as the member knows, we have a very vigorous and active -Minister of the Environment and I am sure he will carry through on everything he says.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Education. On Friday, the minister announced capital allocations for new schools in Ontario. As I read through the literature, I find that the words “renovations and repairs” are noticeable by their absence. Could the minister please share with the House the percentage of moneys that will be allocated for repair and renovation of older or declining school buildings in Ontario for this year?
Hon Mr Conway: I am pleased to have the interest of my friend the member for Burlington South in the just-announced capital allocations for Ontario schools. I can tell him that we are very sensitive to all of the pressures in the school community, not just renovations and repairs but the pressures for replacement facilities, and of course the pressure for new schools in the growth areas.
The allocation announced on Friday brings to $1.5 billion the provincial grant in support of Ontario schools. The announcement on Friday will concern itself with some 100-plus schools: something in the neighbourhood of 49 new or replacement schools and some 57 additions.
We recognize that there is more to be done, but I can assure my honourable friend that this $300 million, which will cause some $544 million worth of school construction, will go a very considerable distance to meeting many of the pressures in the community.
Mr Jackson: My question was about renovation and repairs. The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association has referred to the declining state of school buildings in this province as a major crisis. The minister would be aware that 1,000 of the 4,600 elementary and secondary schools in our province are over 50 years of age. This is a serious problem that requires our attention.
Taxpayers this year will pay for over $200 million worth of projects that they get no provincial support for. School boards are having to put up every penny of this directly from taxpayers and the property tax base. So it has become an expensive crisis for taxpayers in Ontario and this government will not even give us the limited percentage of money that is being allocated. There is no more money in this year’s budget. We know from the Treasurer he extended the cap on capital allocations three years.
When will this government respond to the all-party select committee on education report which specifically recommends that this crisis be addressed by the minister’s government with a special fund for renovation and repair of these declining buildings? When will the minister respond?
Hon Mr Conway: This government under this Treasurer has, I repeat, announced the fifth year of a $1.5-billion program -- a $300-million annual provincial grant. I repeat, $300 million a year of provincial grant for five years; that is $1.5 billion. Let me repeat that in the most recent announcement there will be several projects for replacement of old schools – I know I have some in my own community -- and there are going to be a number of others that are additions to old schools, to say nothing of all the growth pressures.
I want to conclude by saying that in the announcements I made on Friday the Halton region, the honourable member’s home region, will get something like $40.7 million worth of allocation, and that $40.7 million is more than 50% of what the Tories were offering the whole province five years ago.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION FINANCING
Mr M. C. Ray: My question is for the Minister of Education. In view of that last response, let me say there is gratitude in the city of Windsor for a new Dougall Avenue public school and a renovation of $4.5 million to the new Catholic Central high school.
The minister will know that the Report of the Premier’s Council: Competing in the New Global Economy stated that there would be an in-depth review of the educational issues arising from the recommendations in that report and that there would be strategic policy approaches forthcoming.
I understand that the report has been written, that it has been presented to the government but that it has not yet been published. Could the Minister of Education advise why the report has not yet been published, when it will be released and whether the current budget anticipates the recommendations in the report?
The Speaker: Thank you. That sounds like three questions.
Hon Mr Conway: Let me just say at the outset, I very much appreciate the work done by my friend the member for Windsor-Walkerville and others from the government caucus in response to the capital requests of various school boards. I want simply to indicate that the Premier’s Council has been busily at work on the very important aspect of human resource development for the Ontario economy into the 1990s and beyond.
The honourable member is not quite right, though. The report is not completed; the members of the council are hard at work trying to conclude that very important report.
Mr B. Rae: Strangling each other.
Hon Mr Conway: I can assure my friend the Leader of the Opposition that all of the members of the council are very committed and very constructive in their efforts to conclude this work and to produce the report at the earliest opportunity.
Mr M. C. Ray: The fact that the report is not yet written or completed may explain why. in his capacity as guest editorial writer for the Windsor Star last week, the minister expressed views on educational reform required in our system to meet the challenges of the global economy, but I must say there was scant reference to university initiatives and university funding. The minister will know that on a comparative basis our universities have not been as well financed as our primary and secondary schools in recent years, nor on a comparative basis have they been as well financed as universities in other provinces have been financed.
Could the minister please advise whether universities are to be viewed as engines for economic growth and development, and when this government is going to make a true financial commitment to our universities?
Hon Mr Conway: I think my friend the member for Windsor-Walkerville and I would have a slightly different point of view on the performance of this government in response to the university question.
Mr Pelissero: That’s the no-down-payment party, the socialists.
Hon Mr Conway: I understand that the no-down-payment party would of course promise everything and deliver much less. I want to say to my friend the member for Windsor-Walkerville that over the course of the past five years since we took office, operating grants to Ontario universities have risen by over 50%. We have tripled the capital support for Ontario universities, some of which has found its way to the very fine University of Windsor. I spent some very productive hours a few weeks ago with the president of that illustrious institution, looking at the improvements that have been made and others that are contemplated.
In the budget read by my colleague the Treasurer a few days ago additional millions of dollars were specifically targeted at a number of areas that the universities have called for special assistance in, and that was offered. The university research incentive funding has been much applauded. The Ontario student assistance program has been very substantially enriched, and for that my colleagues the member for Fort William and the member for York Centre deserve the lion’s share of credit.
I think the record of this government, in so far as the universities are concerned, while not perfect is certainly quite good. I am quite prepared to stand by what we have done and compare it quite favourably with anything across the country.
Mr Kormos: I have a question of the Attorney General. The Welland county courthouse is an imposing and historically significant structure in downtown Welland. As a result of Bill 187 charging the local police with the responsibility for court security, this courthouse, along with the Niagara Falls satellite courthouse, has come under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Labour’s occupational health and safety division. The county courthouse in Welland is vital to the administration of justice in Niagara South.
Is the minister aware of the order that has been issued, and what will the minister do to assist the city of Welland in its efforts to comply with that order?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will know that the Welland courthouse, a truly historic building no doubt, is owned by the city of Welland; it is leased by the Ministry of Government Services to provide courtroom facilities. The Ministry of Labour has been in and has determined that the standards maintained there by the city of Welland are inappropriate. I gather a period of time has been given during which the city will have to undertake renovations to meet the standards the ministry has set. I am certain the Minister of Government Services and I will do everything we can to make sure that the city of Welland has that opportunity.
Mr Kormos: The city of Welland feels, rightly or wrongly, that there has been less than effective communication with the province around the matter of court facilities in the judicial district of Niagara South and the Welland county courthouse in particular. The city is anxious to provide safe courthouse facilities. Will the minister agree to meet with city representatives so that matters of mutual interest can be discussed?
Hon Mr Scott: I have no objection to meeting with anybody, of course, and have met with city of Welland officials on a number of occasions. They will want to understand that they have certain obligations under the lease; namely, to make certain that the space they are renting, for which they are being paid very substantial sums, complies with the standards the law requires. They have the obligation of any other landlord in that respect.
As I have said, the Minister of Government Services and I are very anxious to see the city of Welland comply with the terms of the lease so that the building can be safely and properly occupied by those who want to make use of it. But we expect the city of Welland to undertake its obligations in this respect.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MINISTRIES
Mr Cureatz: I have a question of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I noticed in the first part of April the honourable member for Durham West had made a joint press release with the minister concerning employment equity program funding for the town of Pickering; the member for Durham-York made a joint press release with the minister concerning grants to the townships of Uxbridge and Brock for housing studies; the member for Durham Centre made a joint announcement with the minister concerning a provincial grant for the town of Whitby.
Does the minister and his ministry make a point of contacting all members when he is proposing and when he is distributing these various kinds of news releases?
Hon Mr Sweeney: As my honourable friend would well be aware, the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs has quite a significant number of announcements to make. It is, quite frankly, not possible to make them all personally. Therefore, as a regular practice I do contact my colleagues and indicate to them whether or not they would be prepared to make the announcement in my place.
Mr Cureatz: That is very kind of the minister. I would like to point out to him that, interestingly enough, the member for Durham West was pleased to announce that the township of Scugog would be receiving funding pertaining to housing studies. The township of Scugog is in the riding of Durham East, of which I am the member. The minister himself had the opportunity of making a particular announcement concerning the town of Newcastle being allocated funds for a municipal housing statement. In other words, he and other various members of our chamber here have had the opportunity of making announcements concerning my riding of Durham East. Would he be so kind in the future, would he need some help with regards to making such future announcements?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend has in the past been a member of the government party. He is well aware of the fact that there is a long-standing tradition in the House, going back well over 40 years, that members of the government party help to make announcements on behalf of the government. I am not aware of the fact that members of the opposition normally make announcements on behalf of the government. Personally, I do not intend to change the tradition.
NURSES’ PARTICIPATION IN HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT
Mr Neumann: This week is Nurses’ Week in Ontario. In keeping with the recognition of that week, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health.
On Friday I met with two representatives of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Sally Cameron and Roberta Sero. We discussed a number of issues related to nursing in the province.
The one question I would like to put to the minister is with respect to the implementation of regulation 518, which requires hospitals to pass bylaws to include nursing representatives on fiscal advisory and other committees.
I asked the minister this about a year ago. I wonder if she could give the House an update on how she is progressing in getting the hospitals to move in this direction.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to thank the member for Brantford for the question. I know of his support for my initiative to give nurses more say in hospital decision-making. I am pleased to tell him that many hospitals have submitted bylaws for approval by the ministry and that many others have begun to implement the spirit of the regulation. I can tell him that the ministry is currently reviewing the bylaws which have been submitted. I would encourage hospitals to begin to implement both the fiscal advisory committee and other committees to involve nurses as expeditiously as possible. I am hopeful that all hospitals will comply with the spirit of this new regulation by 30 June 1990.
Mr Neumann: My supplementary relates to the minister’s last comment. I am wondering if she has a strategy in place for dealing with hospitals which have not complied with this regulation by 30 June. I believe the nurses across Ontario appreciate the direction the minister has taken with respect to regulation 518. We are wondering how she would deal with hospitals that have not met the regulation by that date.
Hon Mrs Caplan: Thank you very much to the member for Brantford and to others who, I know, have an interest in this matter. The ministry provided to hospitals a model bylaw. Many of them are holding their annual meetings and I am hopeful that we will receive all of those suggested bylaw changes as soon as possible.
We have also informed the hospitals that only those hospitals which are complying with the regulation will be eligible for the nursing innovation fund. I am pleased to tell the member that as of 30 June 1990 only those hospitals that have submitted bylaws to the ministry and have begun implementation of the regulation will be eligible to apply for the hospital incentive fund which is part of the hospital transitional funding.
Mr Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the review of the conservation authorities program. It is four years since the Association of Conservation Authorities of Ontario submitted a brief stating that there was need for changes in the funding and mandate of conservation authorities in the province. We still have no substantive changes in funding for conservation authorities, with the result that many of the conservation authorities’ programs are in limbo because of the increased cost due to inflation and additional mandates passed on by the province.
Since the conservation authorities are having to cut costs, can the minister indicate when decisions will be made, and can she assure us that resource management programs dealt with previously by conservation authorities, if they are transferred to other responsible agencies, will be carried out in the context of overall watershed planning overseen by conservation authorities?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I know that the honourable member is well aware of the history of the review of the conservation authorities and the fact that when we sent the original report. which is known as the Berger report, out for consultation there were a number of concerns raised about the report. That was followed up with a further process of consultation through a committee that was headed up by the parliamentary assistant to the previous Minister of Natural Resources.
I subsequently had considerable communication with conservation authorities across the province. There is some measure of agreement about the core mandate for the authorities, as it would be defined, and I think that would provide the honourable member with the assurance that the essential aspects of the operation of the conservation authorities would be protected in any future definition of the role.
But I would indicate that there have also been some concerns raised by some of the conservation authorities about specific issues of amalgamation and there have also been some concerns raised about the funding proposals and how those would impact on the authorities. I would note that some of those concerns have, in particular, been raised by northern authorities. I felt it was necessary, in light of those concerns, to suspend implementation of the review until we had continued to have a very thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed changes on each authority in the province, and that is what we are carrying out now.
Mr Wildman: I recognize the concerns that have been mentioned by the minister, but I want to deal specifically with the core and non-core responsibilities as set out in the minister’s report.
Can the minister indicate what agencies, if not conservation authorities, will be responsible for controlling or dealing with concerns related to non-point pollution, water-taking permits, urban and rural drainage design and management of natural areas? If these are non-core activities, how will they be carried out and what relations will the agencies responsible for these non-core programs have to the conservation authority?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would certainly welcome an opportunity outside the House, if the honourable member wishes, to review each of the proposals in terms of the core responsibilities of the conservation authority and what would, in the recommendations that are in the report, be defined as non-core activities. But certainly the core activities in each of the areas in terms of watershed management, soil erosion, flood control and the management of natural areas, including regional parks, would continue to be within the core mandate of the conservation authorities.
There might be certain other areas in which municipalities would be involved as partners or contributors with the conservation authorities, but not in areas that would still be considered to be within that essential mandate of the authority or with programs which would be delivered on a regional basis.
The member mentioned other agencies, and certainly another agency would be in the whole area of educational programming which was not part of the original mandate of authorities and might be worked in conjunction with school boards.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr McLean: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The point of order that I would like to raise is under standing order 95(d). On 20 June 1989 I tabled Orders and Notices questions 208, 209 and 210. These three questions were for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. Question 208 asks the minister to provide a list of consultants’ reports commissioned by his ministry in the fiscal years 1987-88 and 1988-89. Question 209 asks the minister to state the current status of each of the consultants’ reports commissioned by his ministry in fiscal years 1987-88 and 1988-89. Question 210 again asks the minister to provide the names of each of the consultants commissioned by his ministry in fiscal years 1987-88 and 1988-89, the total expenditure of each report and the details of the tendering process for each report, or if applicable, the reason why the contract was not up for tender.
Standing order 95(d) states:
“The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be.”
An interim answer was given, that the approximate date when information would be available was 16 October 1989. Orders and Notices questions are supposed to be answered within 14 days, yet it has been almost a year since I tabled these questions and over six months since the date the information was supposed to be available.
The Legislative Assembly Act, paragraph 45(1)6, states that a breach of privilege occurs when there is a refusal “to produce papers before the assembly or a committee thereof.”
As a member of this assembly, I feel I have a right to access to information that is essential for me to do my job as a representative of the people of Ontario.
Mr Speaker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the standing orders of this House are complied with. The government has shown blatant disrespect for standing orders by not answering this question. I ask you to take the necessary steps to enforce the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
The Speaker: I listened very carefully to the honourable member, and I must congratulate him on his research and the length of time I am sure he took to prepare that point of order.
I know that Orders and Notices questions are put in Orders and Notices, and it certainly simplifies things, because usually they are there by number. Maybe it would be a little easier for the honourable member in the future to refer to the question number.
I believe the minister was listening very, very carefully to your submission. In case he was not, I will certainly, on your behalf, make certain that he is aware of your point of order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have another petition. It is very brief, so I will read it.
“To the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, hereby register our concern and protest over the exclusion of permanent mental disorders in the threshold definition of the new Ontario motorist protection plan.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
I have signed the petition, and it is signed by 127 people from Windsor.
Mr Dietsch: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario with respect to the deep concerns and outrage over the provisions of the Ontario motorist protection plan. I have affixed my name to it in accordance with the standing order.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is a rather lengthy preamble, so I am not going to read every single word.
It makes reference to the huge amounts in tonnage of disposable diapers that go into landfills in Canada every year. It talks about the plastic covering on that diaper taking literally centuries to decompose; it talks about how hospital maternity wards, by using disposable diapers on healthy babies, are actually condoning the use of these disposables, and it talks about how new parents who want to properly care for their babies will often follow the hospital’s example and therefore use these disposable diapers. It requests that the government of Ontario require Ontario hospitals to stop using disposable diapers on maternity wards within one year and to return to the use of cloth diapers. It is signed by six people from the Windsor area and, of course, by myself.
ASSISTANCE TO CHERNOBYL VICTIMS
Mr Jackson: Seldom do I get such a great privilege as to read into the record a petition that is so beautifully done by so many wonderful children in Ontario. They have put a lot of devoted effort and interest into this petition, and with your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I will read it into the record.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the tragic human and environmental aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster continues to affect the lives of thousands, especially children;
“Whereas the Soviet government has failed to take the necessary and sufficient steps to provide adequate medical and other forms of aid to the victims of Chernobyl; and
“Whereas Ontario has a distinguished international record as a leader in nuclear development, which also implies a responsibility in terms of support for victims of nuclear disasters when they occur;
“We, the undersigned, the children of Ukrainian Canadian ancestry in Metropolitan Toronto, beg leave to petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“That the government of Ontario come to the assistance of the victims of Chernobyl by collaborating with the federal government and the International Red Cross in providing training and advanced drugs useful in treating radiation-related illnesses to medical teams in Ukraine and by accepting for specialized treatment as many of the critically ill children living in the Chernobyl area as possible.”
I have affixed my signature and would specifically like you, Mr Speaker --
The Speaker: I think it would be better if the table looked at them to see if they are in order.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Mr McCague from the standing committee on estimates presented the following interim report:
Pursuant to the order of the House of Thursday 3 May 1990 and notwithstanding standing orders 57 and 58, your committee has selected in the first round the estimates of the following ministries and offices for consideration:
The Ministry of Natural Resources, 7.5 hours; the office responsible for native affairs, 7.5 hours; the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, 7.5 hours; the Ministry of Skills Development, 7.5 hours; the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, 7.5 hours, and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, 7.5 hours.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
HAREWOOD PARK ASSOCIATION ACT. 1990
Mr MacDonald moved first reading of Bill Pr67, An Act to revive the Harewood Park Association.
Motion agreed to.
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.
The Speaker: I believe the member for Leeds-Grenville adjourned the debate. He may wish to continue.
Mr Runciman: Thank you. I appreciate this opportunity once again to put the views of the Progressive Conservative Party on the record in respect to the time allocation motion that we are dealing with now, and as well, of course, tying it into the lack of opportunity for meaningful input on the part of the opposition parties in respect to the government’s no-fault legislation, Bill 68.
As members of this House will know, the government is, through this time allocation measure, attempting to muzzle the opposition, to limit the number of hours of debate in this Legislature, and perhaps more important, limit the number of intervenors in respect to members of the opposition who can participate in this debate and who can have the opportunity to put forward the views of many thousands of people across this province who have very serious and legitimate concerns about this legislation, about the no-fault initiative undertaken by this government. Most of the members of this opposition are not going to have an opportunity because of time allocation, because of this, in effect, closure effort by the Liberal government, this effort to throttle the opposition, to throttle the people of this province who want to be heard on this issue, people who have, as I said, some very legitimate concerns.
You may recall, Mr Speaker, last Thursday when I was discussing this issue I talked at some length about the abject failure of the Liberal members of this Legislature to speak up and speak out on behalf of their constituents -- many, many constituents who have serious concerns about this legislation.
More specifically, I talked about the Liberal members who served on the standing committee on general government and who were a serious disappointment to me and I think to thousands of others who were hoping that those individuals would have what it takes to stand up and openly criticize their own government in respect to the failings of this legislation -- very obvious failings, Mr Speaker, when you realize that the no-fault initiative, based on the government’s own actuarial studies, is going to reduce benefits to the people of this province by 47.7%. We are seeing a reduction in benefits of 47.7% and no reduction in rates. Many Ontarians are going to face significant rates. At the same time, we did not see one -- not one -- member of that Liberal Party on that particular committee standing up and taking issue with what this government was doing, this significant attack on rights of individuals and drivers across this province. Not one of them had what it takes to stand up and be heard.
I want to read into the record some testimony, and obviously I cannot read it all into the record, but it was certainly testimony that impacted on me, impacted on other members of the opposition, and it was by a young man who appeared before us, Jeremy Rempel. He appeared before us in a wheelchair. He had been the victim in a serious accident back in 1980. As I said, he presented perhaps some of the most moving testimony that I have heard in my years as a legislator.
After I read this brief excerpt into the record, I want to relate the reaction of the Liberal members who served on that committee and the kind of nonsensical, offensive sort of interventions we heard from those members, who did not seem to be moved, who did not seem to be terribly concerned about this individual and other individuals who appeared before us, such as Barbara Turnbull. I think most of us have heard of Barbara Turnbull, who appeared, thanks to the assistance of the member for Mississauga South, who has been a very good friend of Barbara Turnbull’s and accompanied her on the day she appeared before the committee. Testimony by people like Barbara Turnbull and Jeremy Rempel had no impact at all.
Mr Faubert: Read her testimony. Read it into the record.
Mr Runciman: Again, Mr Speaker, we are having interventions from the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who seems to have nothing better to do with his life than sit in this House day after day making inane interjections. When it comes to this legislation, we know that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is not a yes-man. He is not a yes-man. When the Premier says no, he will say no.
Mr Faubert: Exactly.
Mr Runciman: That is right, he is not a yes-man. He is a man of conviction.
Mr Faubert: What does this have to do with the debate?
Mr Runciman: He is a man of conviction. He is a man of conviction, that is, after he finds out what the Premier is thinking. Then he is a man of conviction.
I want to talk about Jeremy Rempel and his appearance before the committee. I will read this into the record, and I can provide this to Hansard, if indeed it requires it, but his appearance was on Tuesday 16 January 1990.
“Gentlemen, my name is Jeremy Rempel. I am 18 years old and was a victim of a bicycle/motor vehicle accident in 1980. I have had my terrible experience with the auto insurance industry and I have nothing to lose or gain personally by whatever form this legislation eventually takes. I am here, though, to speak for those 35 people each day in the province of Ontario who are involved in motor vehicle accidents in which they sustain brain injury. Why, you might ask, would I care about them?...
“Although you can see that I depend on a wheelchair to get around, those physical problems are very minimal....
“The impairment that keeps me from participating successfully in the academic world and the world of business and quick decision-making is the subtle damage that my brain experienced in the accident....
‘My IQ is the same as it ever was, be that high or low. I participate in my local high school and am successful in some classes. Because of this impairment, I cannot even attempt other classes....
“Thirty-five people every day in Ontario will experience to some degree what I experienced. With the new legislation” -- no-fault legislation. – “the ones most physically damaged will be the lucky ones. Those who have had the ability to make decisions taken away but cannot prove it through pictures will have to argue very sophisticated scientific principles on their own against the insurance companies’ doctors and lawyers, with all their resources....
“Very simply and realistically speaking, those people I have described will no longer have the opportunity to bring an action against somebody who, through carelessness, destroyed an important part of their life. That is not right. As I stated earlier, I have had my experience; but when you consider that 14,000 people each year will follow me in the same unfortunate experience, it may very well be one of your children or one of your neighbour’s children who will live in the condition that I live in and who will have no opportunity to attempt to recapture any decency to life by having the person who caused the accident take responsibility and have his or her insurance company assist him on his road back to a decent lifestyle.”
Those are very brief excerpts from a very moving appearance before the committee. I want to say that it was the most moving, honest, heartfelt, and unlike a good degree of the testimony before us, certainly not self-serving in any way shape or form.
We had a number of individuals like Jeremy Rempel appearing before us, as I said earlier, who did not have any vested interests, had nothing to gain or lose by passage of this legislation, unless of course they were accident victims in the future, but their concern, very genuine concern, was, as I said, for innocent accident victims in the future, the many, many people who are going to suffer as a result of this Liberal government legislation.
The 3% to 5% who can pass through the threshold under this legislation are going to have to suffer very serious accidents indeed. As the government’s own actuaries indicate, at least 95%, perhaps as high as 97% of innocent accident victims in this province in the future, when this legislation goes through, will not have the ability to take the wrongdoer to court, will not have the ability to take that at-fault driver to court, unless they are part of that very small, modest number of people who can break through the threshold.
That happens to be the reality. Some of the Liberal members can shake their heads, but they have not looked at this legislation, they have not looked at the actuarial reports, they really do not understand it. They have been swallowing the government guff, I guess. When you are whipped into line so often in respect to the position that you are supposed to put forward to your own constituents, I guess you get into the habit of simply saying -- despite the facts, despite the very expert testimony, despite the government’s own actuarial studies, they sit over there mumbling: “That’s not right, that’s not right, that’s not right.”
The facts are there for anyone who cares to take the time to review them. They will very clearly understand that the people of this province are the losers, very clear losers in respect to this no-fault legislation. We may be fortunate enough never to suffer as a result of this legislation. Let’s hope most of us in this assembly and in many others will not be in the kind of serious auto accidents that occur in this province, but we know that thousands of people will be and if it may not be us as individuals, at some point it may indeed affect our friends or families, people whom we genuinely care about. This kind of action will come home to roost. The government will really feel, when that occurs, just what it has done, what the impact is to people across this province, how seriously it has damaged and cut out rights that they have had in this province and in this country for years and years, which this government is now pulling away from them, pulling away from all of us as residents of this province.
It is the most onerous threshold in North America in any jurisdiction that has no-fault, and the toughest legislation in respect to people’s ability to sue. We have the member for Brampton South here and he is one who should have some familiarity with this. He is one of those people whom you would suspect, based on his record in the previous Legislature, I guess between 1985 and 1987, when he did stand up and on occasion take on some of his colleagues in the executive council, but we certainly have seen a much quieter member for Brampton South since the 1987 election.
An hon member: He’s older.
Mr Runciman: Older, wiser? Well, I guess it goes with the fact that, after a while, when you are sitting with such a huge majority and you are part of that as a backbencher, you wonder whether it is worth while banging your head against the wall, whether your own constituents are going to support you if indeed you take those kinds of stands. I have been down that road myself. I have spoken to this issue.
When I took issue with Mr Davis’s purchase of 25% of Suncor, I stood up for what I believed in and what I felt was right, and I think time has proven me correct in respect to that. But at the time, and in the years that followed, I wondered whether it was something I should have done in respect to the way you are treated by your government colleagues, the way it forecloses a lot of opportunities for personal growth in respect to moving up the ladder into the executive council if you wish to do that.
Also, perhaps even most important in respect to this, I talked about disillusionment among the electorate the other day, because we see the sheeplike kind of approach by the Liberal members. And we see it at the federal level; I am not going to stand here and say that it does not occur in the Conservative government at the federal level. As members know, I do not pull my punches in respect to that either. I want to say at the same time that I have some reservations in respect to how the electorate will treat people who do that. We look at Mr Kindy and Mr Kilgour at the federal level, who voted against the GST. It is going to be most interesting to see how their constituents treat them in the next election, if they are running as independents.
I have some concern about that, and I guess that has to be the concern of someone like the member for Brampton South, who I think probably has some strong concerns about this legislation, but for his own reasons, after having sat in the Liberal caucus for a number of years now, he knows that it is probably not going to do him any good to stand up and take a strong stand. If indeed that is the way he is feeling, it is regrettable and it speaks volumes about the weaknesses of the parliamentary system in Canada.
I could speak on this at some other point, but I can go on at length about the weaknesses and how they can be corrected, and how we can identify in a throne speech issues of confidence upon which a government would fall. All other introductions of government legislation would not be matters of confidence and could be turned back at caucus, could be turned back in the House, without having a government fall. That is the sort of thing that I would like to see occur in Canada, but it may be wishful thinking because we certainly do not see any initiatives like that being considered at this point.
Also, when we talk about Bill 68 and time allocation, another measure that would perhaps encourage government backbenchers to play a more active role in the critical scrutiny of legislation brought forward by their own executive council might be the option of a referendum. Again, Mr Speaker, you may recall back, I think, to 1986 when I introduced referendum legislation which would have allowed referendums on issues like no-fault auto insurance and a number of other, perhaps more controversial, issues in respect to matters that raise passions in this province. But I think what we are talking about is perhaps the ultimate in democracy.
Mr Faubert: Nonsense.
Mr Runciman: I know that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has trouble with the whole idea of democracy when we are talking about the way this kind of legislation is being shoved through the House, this time allocation motion we are talking about here, when the government limits the opposition to two days in committee of the whole House to put forward a number of significant amendments.
Mr Faubert: Two days? You’ve wasted three weeks.
Mr Runciman: I can understand the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere’s concerns and points of view when I start talking about democracy and giving the people the opportunity to have a voice in issues like this when obviously they are not being represented by people like that member and many other members of the Liberal caucus.
I want to draw to the attention of the viewers, not so much the House, a number of people who have been involved in this exercise and perhaps encourage their constituents to give them a call in respect to this matter.
I spoke the other day about Sterling Campbell, the member for Sudbury. I hope the viewers can see that phone number. It is 963-38 l4 in Sudbury. I want to talk about the relevance
Mr D. W. Smith: That’s inappropriate.
Hon Mr Elston: That’s out of order.
Mr Runciman: This is obviously agitating a few members of the Liberal caucus. That is indeed regrettable, to see them agitated about putting a Liberal member’s name and phone number before the public of Ontario through the parliamentary broadcasting effort. Can you believe it, Mr Speaker, that some of these members are agitated by that? It is difficult to understand this.
The Speaker: I am really terribly sorry to interrupt the member’s comments. However, I have tried on a number of occasions to explain to members that props. and particularly large props, are not particularly appropriate here. There is certainly no standing order that says that. but, particularly when you are using other members’ names, I think I would reconsider it.
Mr Runciman: I am not prepared to reconsider it. If you are going to find me out of order. I will do that, but I think this is an extremely important piece of legislation. I want to emphasize to you, Mr Speaker, that the opposition -- and I am talking about the Progressive Conservative Party in this particular opportunity; I cannot speak for the official opposition. I have spoken on this a little over two hours. We are talking about an extremely important matter, which the government is not allowing us to debate in committee beyond the two-day limitation that this motion allocates.
One of the important elements of my comments and one of the important elements of my contribution here today is the fact that the government members who served on that committee, the government members who have made their views known in respect to this issue -- because we do not have the other opportunity, I have to make the public aware as best I can. I think that is my responsibility.
I am not going to take a significant amount of time. I have about six or seven cards here, but it certainly is my intention to proceed. I can understand and appreciate your difficulties with this, but certainly the member for Welland-Thorold was using the Premier’s number and other numbers. If you find me out of order, Mr Speaker, there is not much I can do; I simply will not proceed. But if indeed you think it is something that should be dealt with that is not covered under the standing orders, which you have indicated, perhaps it is something that should be taken up by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and considered as a restriction.
I want to see those kinds of things apply to all members of the House and not simply because I come here today with something that may be a little bit larger than someone else used, that I am going to be restricted from doing the same sort of thing, which I think is especially important, given the restrictions on time that this motion places upon us as members of the opposition.
That is my explanation, Mr Speaker. If you want to intervene further, obviously you have the power to do so.
The Speaker: Thank you. I would be very happy to make a further comment and submission to the honourable member. I believe the honourable member would agree with me that the main purpose that a person has for being in this place is to debate. The honourable member has, as other members have, used other members’ names and tried to put comments referring to other members in Hansard. I certainly do not hesitate about that, but I really hesitate when the honourable member stands up with a sign and a member’s name. I know the telephone number stuff has been used, but I would appreciate very much if the member would refrain from using names on signs.
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, I am going to reach what I call a compromise. You may not recognize it as a compromise. I am going to use one name and one phone number and then I will put it down. As you say, this does not violate the standing orders. I am doing this in respect to the views that you have offered here today.
I am going to just put the one up here. It is a gentleman by the name of Chris Ward. the government House leader, who has introduced this time allocation legislation which is restricting the opposition to two days of committee-of-the-whole debate on this most important legislation.
I want to say the government has a significant number of amendments to offer to this legislation; this opposition party, the Conservative Party, also has a significant number of amendments. We are not going to have an opportunity to meaningfully debate those because of only two days being allotted us. I can look across here at 19 members of the New Democratic Party and 17 members of the Conservative caucus representing thousands and thousands of people across this province who are not going to have an opportunity to be heard through their members because the Liberal members of this House are not going to speak up and offer that kind of criticism.
Call this gentleman and tell him you do not like it, it is wrong for the people of the province of Ontario. The Liberal government is acting incorrectly. They should be ashamed in respect to what they are doing to the opposition and what they are doing to the thousands of concerned Ontarians in this province. They are cutting off debate, they are choking it off and not allowing us to really have an opportunity to express those very legitimate, valid concerns of thousands and thousands of Ontarians.
An hon member: What number, Bob, what number?
Mr Runciman: It is 965-1101. Call the Liberal House leader. Let him know what you think about this.
Mr Speaker, I made some assurances to you and to your predecessor in the chair in respect to holding up cards with members’ names on it, so I am not going to hold up the card with members’ names on it. I am going to respect the views of the Speaker, but I will mention the names.
Another member of the committee, who sat through the hearings and was not prepared to intervene in a supportive way in respect to the overwhelming amount of testimony that criticized this legislation -- even the parliamentary assistant to the minister said we were, I think, to paraphrase, stomped, we were really kicked around the place by the people who appeared before us because, as I said, the overwhelming amount of testimony was against this. The evidence was against this. Even the government’s own actuarial studies indicated this is a bad deal for Ontarians.
Murad Velshi, who is sitting in the House today, the member for Don Mills --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Order, please. The honourable member and I had the opportunity of discussing this the other day. Now that the Speaker has also indicated some concern, I think we should be a little more specific in terms of the standing orders and refer only to members’ ridings and not their names.
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, I will say, “The member for Don Mills.” I do not think it is inappropriate in this House to say “Mr Velshi.” The member for Don Mills, Mr Velshi, whose phone number is 965-9790
Mr Velshi: Bob, tell about --
Mr Runciman: I want to say he is sitting in the back rows here today trying to drown me out because obviously he is embarrassed and ashamed of his own lack of action, his lack of intestinal fortitude, his unwillingness to stand up on behalf of the people he is supposed to be representing in this assembly. All he can do here today is yammer at me, sitting behind my shoulder. Because of this huge Liberal government, they have taken over part of this side of the House.
They are even trying to interfere with the limited opportunity that the opposition members have. We have been given two days, and this member has the gall -- he does not have the guts to stand up in committee or in this House and say, “I’m concerned about this legislation,” but he can come in here with the limited time we have available and try to interfere and try to object and try to obstruct my opportunity, limited opportunity as it is, to speak out on behalf of the thousands of people in this province who are concerned and to speak out on behalf of all the opposition members who are being cut off and cut out by this Liberal government’s initiative. That is a reality.
I want to say that I want to be responsible in respect to my contribution to this debate, but if I have to put up with asinine comments like that character’s, I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, I may not continue to be responsible in respect to my contribution. The members can shake their heads over there but I want to tell you I do not have much respect for any of the people on the Liberal government’s side of the House who sat in that committee and could not make one meaningful word of contribution, none at all. They should be ashamed to even be sitting in this House to carry on. They have the gall to come in here and intervene and criticize because I am pointing out to their own constituents their own failures in respect to intervening and making a stand on behalf of their own constituents, let alone the innocent accident victims across this province in the future if this no-fault legislation goes through. It is pretty distasteful, to say the least.
I want to mention someone whom I do have a great deal of respect for in respect to what I have heard him say and what he has done in this House and some of the challenges that have faced him as a member, and that is the member for Windsor-Walkerville, Michael Ray. I did have a letter that Mr Ray wrote, and I was unable to find it the other day. Hopefully I will be able to find it today and put some of it on the record.
Mr Ray, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, is writing to David Greenaway, who is a solicitor in Windsor, Ontario, making reference that:
“I can assure you, as an elected representative who endured an election where auto insurance was an important issue, that the public have found the existing system of insurance with its increasing premiums intolerable and unacceptable. Some moderation in premium increases can only be achieved by reducing benefits to some policyholders, which is what the government proposes to do.”
I want to repeat that: “Some moderation in premium increases can only be achieved by reducing benefits to some policyholders, which is what the government proposes to do, while requiring insurance companies provide optional coverage for those who wish to purchase coverages above the minimum standards of the government proposal.
“I share your concerns about the forgiveness of OHIP payments and the elimination of the 3% insurance premium tax. The government says forgiveness of subrogation payments is consistent with the recent elimination of all OHIP premiums for all residents of Ontario. The 3% insurance premium tax has been an income tax deduction for commercial auto insurance policyholders but not for individuals. To remove the inequity, the government proposes elimination of the premium tax.
“In my view, wage losses and all out-of-pocket expenses should be fully compensated by the plan” -- which it does not do – “and one should not be required to purchase optional coverage for this benefit. I have communicated this view to the minister.
“Similarly, I believe amendment to the definition of the threshold is necessary to clarify recovery for mental or psychological injury and for serious physical injuries which are not permanent.”
That is very strongly in opposition to and disagreement with the legislation. The member for Windsor-Walkerville is clearly on the record, in writing, saying, “I believe amendment to the definition of the threshold is necessary to clarify recovery for mental or psychological injury and for serious physical injuries -- which are not permanent.
That is interesting. I appreciate Mr Ray taking a stand like that. It certainly stands out when you compare the lack of effort and the lack of stands being taken by other backbench members of this Liberal government. I guess that if I have one disappointment about what has transpired in respect to the member for Windsor-Walkerville, it is the fact that he has not publicly reiterated the views he expressed in that letter, and for reasons known best to him.
Mr Philip: Albert Roy did.
Mr Runciman: Albert Roy did? Well, I would rather hear the member for Windsor-Walkerville expressing and reiterating them, in this House preferably, in some public forum, so that, again, the people of Ontario can appreciate that there are concerns within the Liberal caucus. Other than the member for Windsor-Walkerville, we certainly do not hear it coming from anyone else. So I encourage the member for Windsor-Walkerville to take a public stand. Once again, I want to say to any of his constituents in the Windsor-Walkerville riding who may be watching these proceedings to phone your member, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, at 965-9605 and encourage him to state his concerns publicly about this legislation, the harm it is going to do to innocent accident victims across this province, and especially his reference to the elimination of psychological injury from the threshold.
We have one of these gentlemen in the House. I have been known to go on a rant about his performance on occasion, that is, the member for York Mills. As I said, he seemed to be the government’s chief cook and bottle washer on the committee, calling the shots --
Mr Runciman: We know that he still has aspirations for cabinet. With the Supreme Court decision in respect to Patti Stan, who knows? It may indeed occur, because I gather we are never going to find out the real facts in respect to Mrs Starr and the various significant contributions made by charities to a variety of Liberal members, including the member for York Mills.
In any event, he certainly played a key role on the committee in respect to cracking the whip on the Liberal members, making sure they stayed in line. From the perspective of the government, I guess you can say he did a good job.
Mr Velshi: Bill 68 is a good bill. Bob. Nobody cracked the whip.
Mr Runciman: That is pretty funny. Again, the intervention is from the member for Don Mills who is trying to convince himself, I guess, because he is certainly not going to convince anyone else.
When you look at the testimony before that committee, we had about 95% of the witnesses appearing before us strongly opposed to this legislation. But that member continues to try, as best he can, to justify his own lack of action, his own intestinal fortitude, his own -- who can say why? I am not going to try to attribute motives to these individuals. I am not going to get involved in that again today anyway.
I want to say that the member for York Mills was one of the most vocal supporters of this legislation and one of the people who, in respect to my efforts to have a witness appear before us for 15 minutes to talk about some 39 actuarial studies dropped on our lap on the last public hearing day, tried to restrict the opportunity for an expert witness to spend 15 minutes giving us his observations of those 39 actuarial and other studies. That is the kind of approach the member for York Mills took.
I want to encourage again any constituents in the York Mills area, who are represented by the member for York Mills, to try to call his office, 965-0279, and encourage him to reconsider the position, to stand up on behalf of the people of his own riding, people who may be innocent accident victims in the province in the future, and to take a stronger stand, a strong stand -- let’s take any stand -- that may be constructively critical of what this government is trying to do through no-fault legislation.
This is another one that -- I can do a rant on this, but I am going to try to preserve my voice for a while. I have already spoken at length about the member for Etobicoke West whose most important contribution to this debate was a 20-minute intervention against me, trying to call me to order for making some comment she felt was not complimentary of a certain cabinet minister. She inferred that. There were no names mentioned. But that was in respect to her priorities, looking at this legislation. While having people like Barbara Turnbull appear before us, this member for Etobicoke West could only find her most important contribution to the committee was to chastise me.
Mr Philip: I resent that. She was uncomplimentary of me also.
Mr Runciman: Maybe the member will have an opportunity to talk about that.
The member for Etobicoke West spent about 20 minutes chastising me instead of offering constructive questions, questions that would assist all of us in respect to learning what the impact of this legislation was going to be in the future on those impacted by psychological injuries and their inability to pass the threshold and to sue at-fault drivers.
We could have talked about the frequency of accidents on our highways, which will increase under no-fault. We could have talked about a whole host of things. We could have talked about the significant costs to taxpayers by the establishment of the dispute resolution system that this government is proposing and the new bureaucracy that that will entail. We could have talked about the significant amounts of money, the millions of dollars being transferred to the insurance industry. But no, the member for Etobicoke West, chose perhaps for her lengthiest intervention a bit of a tirade against me for what she perceived to be some sort of an insult against a cabinet minister.
I think that speaks volumes about that member’s priorities and her role in that committee, and the role of all Liberal members in that committee. The committee was struck and assigned that responsibility reluctantly. We know the government did not want that bill to go out to public hearings. We knew that they wanted the bill to pass by December I. They had preliminary rate filings set through the Ontario Gazette for the end of December. Their whole planning process did not involve any meaningful public input. So we know what the role of those backbenchers was, and it was certainly confirmed by the actions or lack of actions or the lack of significant input by the members I have mentioned up to this point, and certainly by the member for Etobicoke West.
Anyone who is a resident in Etobicoke West may want to call the member and ask her why she did not speak up on behalf of innocent accident victims. They should get an explanation from her and ask her why she is supporting legislation that is going to see a 47.7% reduction in benefits. That is a government actuarial study. I want the member’s constituents to ask her, “Why are you supporting a plan that’s going to see an almost 50% reduction in our benefits and we are all going to see increases in our rates?”
In Etobicoke West they are going to see rate increases, even if we accept the government’s figure, of an average of 8%. They are going to see close to 50% of their benefits lost, increases of at least 8% on average, and the member supported that. She never offered one critical word; not one critical word. If you are in Etobicoke West and you are wondering what she was doing there, what she was being paid for, why she was receiving that extra -- what is it? -- $75 a day that members are paid, plus expenses -- $ 100 a day, tax-free. She was getting 100 bucks tax-free to sit there. What was she doing?
Hon Mr Elston: And so were you.
Mr Runciman: Listen, I am being told I was getting the same. You bet I was getting the same. One hundred bucks a day tax-free, and what was she doing? We are talking about an almost 50% reduction in benefits and significant increases to a hot of the residents in her riding.
Hon Mr Elston: What were you doing? You weren’t showing up for most of the time.
Mr Runciman: I was there criticizing it. I was trying to tear it apart. I was trying to get the government to change. I was trying to get those Liberal government members on that committee to listen to reason and to pay attention to the witnesses, but they would not do it.
What did the member for Etobicoke West do? She took up 20 minutes to criticize me. That was it. That was the most important contribution she could make during that committee process for her 100 bucks tax-free per day. Pretty sad, pretty sad indeed.
If anyone wants to take a look at contributions, wants to review Hansard, wants to review the contributions made by the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Leeds-Grenville and compare them to the contributions of members on the Liberal government side, I am open to that. If anyone wants to take a look, take a look. I am not embarrassed about my contribution on that committee, not one iota, not one bit.
Mr J. B. Nixon: On a point of order and a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The member for Leeds-Grenville, whom I will not call by name, has made a number of allegations about the behaviour of members of this committee, myself included. I would urge you to review the Hansard of the committee and you will find out that no deals were broken as he alleges. All deals were honoured, so what he tells you now is wrong.
Second, I think if you review Hansard, you will find that I personally moved well over 20 amendments to this legislation, and the member for Etobicoke West and the member for Don Mills and so on voted for those amendments improving the legislation and responding to the concerns expressed at the committee by interest groups. No amendments were moved by the opposition parties, none. They would not --
Mr Kormos: Do you believe that, Mr Speaker? Only a fool would believe that.
The Acting Speaker: Order. In my quick evaluation, it was not a legitimate --
The Acting Speaker: Gentlemen.
Mr Pouliot: One buys out, the other buys back in.
The Acting Speaker: Gilles, please, allow me to continue if I might.
The honourable member for York Mills rose on a point of order. After listening very closely, in my evaluation, it was more information for us. It is difficult for the Chair to evaluate in terms of what took place on the committee. Maybe tonight, having nothing better to do, I will pull out the Hansards on the committee and review them, but I am not promising because we are going to have trouble enough taking place on what is happening here today and probably in the next few days to come.
Mr Runciman: That was indicative of the kind of contribution the Liberal members made throughout the course of those hearings: nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation. In point of fact, what the member says is faulty. He says there was no deal reneged on. Who else was in that committee who recalls what occurred?
The member himself came out to me afterwards and he indicated he regretted what had occurred during the committee and what had occurred in respect to a deal that had been made earlier in respect to my giving up my questioning time. When the rotation came around, he challenged it and did not want to go ahead with the deal. The only reason it did not go ahead was that there were not enough Liberal members in the committee to carry it. That is the only reason.
Mr J. B. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think I will ask you to review Hansard, because at the point that the member for Leeds-Grenville is referring to, you will see that the witness that the member for Leeds-Grenville wanted to appear before the committee did appear before the committee. What you will see is that all I said was, “I am concerned about the appropriateness.”
That is as far as I got when the member, in a fit of lunacy, of rage, exploded, and it was on the TV cameras for us to see. He nearly had a heart attack. I went and apologized to him for actually saying something. This man rises in fits of temper if you say you are concerned about the appropriateness of things. Now he calls it a broken deal.
The Acting Speaker: Order. Come on. No, I will not be reviewing Hansard. You can participate in the debate as your time comes around for rotation.
Mr Runciman: The member for York Mills is so big-headed he cannot get an Aspirin to fit him. That is the reality, and we all know that. I think if anyone wants to review Hansard --
Mr Kormos: I would be glad to mail it to him.
Mr Runciman: Certainly the member for Welland-Thorold was there and I believe the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale was present when that occurred.
Once again, to put my recollection on the record, we had an agreement that I would give up my questioning time and we went on the rotation. Then the member for York Mills intervened with an objection after he had made the agreement, and I indeed did lose my temper because we were talking about 15 modest minutes.
We had 39 very comprehensive studies piled in front of us on the last day of public hearings and I had asked for 15 minutes of expert testimony to critically analyse those reports tabled on the last day of public hearings. He reluctantly agreed to it. When the rotation came around, the Chairman called for the expert witness and the member for York Mills expressed his concerns.
Can you blame me, Mr Speaker, for losing my temper? Anyone under those circumstances would lose his temper. I want to say, the obstructionist efforts, particularly of the member for York Mills, were very upsetting to all of us, and we talk about the way the members of the opposition carried on in that committee.
That was the most frustrating experience I have ever had as a member of the opposition, when we have, as I said before, witness after witness after witness to some of the most moving testimony -- people who had no axe to grind, people who were genuinely, legitimately concerned about future innocent accident victims -- having their testimony totally ignored, inane questions and the kinds of comments that we heard from that member, the member for Etobicoke West and the member for Hamilton Centre.
Certainly anyone who followed those hearings throughout their course, throughout the process, could fully understand the real frustration of opposition members who were genuinely moved by that testimony, wanted to see something happen and wanted to hear some word of recognition from the Liberal members that they understood, that they empathized, that they sympathized and that they were willing to do something about what this no-fault legislation was going to do to innocent accident victims.
But there was absolutely nothing at all, and we see the member for Etobicoke West taking up 20 minutes, as the member for York Mills just took up the time of the House, on a tirade against me instead of intervening in a constructive way. Etobicoke West constituents, if you are concerned about your member supporting an almost 50% reduction in your benefits and a significant increase in your insurance rates, give her a call at 965-7600. Let her hear from you. Let her know that you are not happy with the job she has not been doing for you.
I cannot say an awful lot about this gentleman because he was not on the hearings process for too long. Again, he is someone I personally like and respect. I think he could have made a significant contribution but, once again, I gather for reasons of his own, and we can only speculate about what those reasons might have been, he did not make that kind of contribution. I am talking about the member for Brampton North, who participated in the committee as a substitute, I think. Again, for the most part, like many of the members, he was a lump on the log. There was not any careful scrutiny of most of the witnesses. There were a couple of occasions when he did intervene with some of the expert witnesses in respect to the insurance industry.
Mr Neumann: Sometimes silence is golden, but you will never understand that.
Mr Runciman: In opposition it certainly is not.
In any event, I hope the constituents of Brampton North will phone their member at 965-1013. He sat through a lot of the hearings. He has a good understanding of this legislation and its impact on innocent accident victims, what its impact is on all of us as drivers in this province, how it is going to impact on rates, how it is going to impact on benefits and how it is going to impact on the rights of Ontarians. He did not speak up. Now is your opportunity to get after him. Urge the member for Brampton North to do it, at 965-1013.
This is a lady whom I have spoken about -- again, I can do this at length and I do not want to do it, because I want to get into some of the substantive amendments that we are going to be proposing; if the government members want to encourage me, who knows, maybe I will -- the member for Hamilton Centre. She is in the House today. This may be the first time I have spoken about her performance since she has been in the House, I am not sure.
Mr Polsinelli: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I refer to standing order 23(b). As you know, Mr Speaker, the standing order indicates that the Speaker shall call a member to order if the member “directs his or her speech to matters other than the question under discussion.” The Speaker is also aware that the question under discussion is the adjourned debate on government notice of motion 30 on time allocation. The member for Leeds-Grenville, who has the floor, has indicated on a number of occasions that he is talking about Bill 68, and as a matter of fact just before I rose on my point of order the member indicated very numerous amendments he is going to be talking to, referring to Bill 68.
Mr Speaker, I urge you to maintain the standing orders of the House and call the member for Leeds-Grenville to order and ask him to confine his debate to the motion presently under discussion.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Yorkview has brought our standing orders to my attention, and actually I have been remiss and I thank the honourable member. He is correct.
I have to say to the honourable member for Leeds-Grenville that you have been, shall I say, straying afar from the motion at hand, and you of all people know only too well that there are ways and manners of doing what you are attempting to do. If you are going to abide by the standing orders, which I would ask you to do, I think you should take heed of what the honourable member for Yorkview has indicated.
Mr Pouliot: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: I have been listening meticulously to every word that has been said, and I would like to draw to your attention, sir, with high respect, that there is a certain interesting methodology. Not only do things need to be said, but there is a connection, and I am very sorry that a member on the government side has chosen to ignore this. Meticulously, the member who had the floor previously has provided us with consistent adherence not only to the rules of procedure, but to the motion being addressed on the floor.
I, for one, was hanging on every word until this untimely interruption. I do not wish to impute motive, but I see this kind of endeavour as not only regressive, but maybe as an attempt to stall, to buy time for the government. Yet to stop the flow of the honourable member is indeed incorrect and the member should be ashamed and corrected.
Mr Philip: On the point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: I have to say to the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale that having had the opportunity of listening in rotation in terms of this particular point of order, it would probably be more appropriate if I heard from the member for Leeds-Grenville. but only because I have utmost respect for the honourable member will I allow you a small point of order.
Mr Philip: I have been listening very attentively to the member for Leeds-Grenville. He has been debating whether or not there should be time allocation. I believe he has been arguing that the Liberal members on the committee did not choose, for whatever reason, to participate in the debate in that committee. He is arguing that the time allocation motion should not be passed because he wants to give them an opportunity to participate in a full and open debate, which they refused to participate in the committee. So, with respect, I believe that he is speaking to the --
The Acting Speaker: I beg to differ --
The Acting Speaker: No, that is it for the member for Welland-Thorold. I think I have heard from you enough. I will recognize the honourable member for Simcoe East. Come on. It is getting out of hand.
Mr McLean: Mr Speaker, I want to rise on the point of order from the member for Yorkview, who indicated that you should be enforcing the rules and the laws of this Legislature. I rose this afternoon on a point of order under section 95 of our rules to make sure that the Speaker did enforce the rules and the laws of this Legislature. I seem to be having a problem getting answers to Orders and Notices questions, so, Mr Speaker, when you want to talk about enforcing the rules, I think you will maybe have to have time to check the rules to be able to deliberate whether what he is doing is proper or not.
The Acting Speaker: As if we have nothing better to do all day. But going with the flow, the honourable member for Yorkview, would you like to further express your concerns about the standing order?
Mr Polsinelli: Perhaps I can say one thing. The events of the past few weeks have quite seriously caused an embarrassment for me as a member of this House. I think the actions that have been undertaken by the members of the opposition, the stalling actions with respect to this bill, have caused me to be embarrassed to be a member of this House.
The Acting Speaker: One more round, the member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos: The point of order, Mr Speaker, is that this government’s own boards, Mr Justice Osborne, have rejected threshold auto insurance and this government insists on trying to ram it through this Legislature, notwithstanding --
The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Hastings-Peterborough, for the final concluding remarks.
Mr Pollock: Mr Speaker, I do not believe there is a quorum present.
The Acting Speaker: Innovative announcement. Is there a quorum present?
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Leeds-Grenville.
Mr Runciman: I appreciate the intervention of the member for Yorkview. We rarely hear from him. He has sort of disappeared in the last two years. It reminds me that there is an old line, “He’s so dull, he looks forward to dental appointments,” that might apply to the member for Yorkview.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate your comments and I am not going to continue this line for much longer. I can relate to what you are saying and to what the member for Yorkview said, but I think, again, that this is an important element of the debate on time allocation.
We are talking about the fact that has been not enough meaningful debate on Bill 68, the no-fault legislation. What this no-fault bill is doing, Mr Speaker, as you fully understand, is restricting debate. It is not only restricting it in terms of committee of the whole and the opportunity for amendments and full debate on the amendments, but what it is doing is cutting off the members of the opposition, Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, who are not having an opportunity to be heard.
I think that has to be the overriding concern. When I talk about the lack of participation, the lack of meaningful debate by Liberal members in the House, of course, but also, and more important, in committee, I think it is an important ingredient of the argument I am trying to put forward to the House with respect to time allocation and the fact that so much time of the members was wasted by the Liberal members. There was no effort, no real interest in listening, in acting upon what they heard.
All of those people who appeared before us have a right to be upset that their concerns were not heeded by the Liberals, but they have an even greater right to be concerned about the fact that they are not going to have the opportunity to have those concerns voiced in this House by the members of the opposition because of this time allocation legislation, this closure, this effort to cut off the opposition from the opportunity to have meaningful input.
I want to say briefly that another member of that committee was the member for Hamilton Centre. I have said this to her; she knows this is no secret. When the committee started its hearings, I was optimistic about her participation because of her background in the field with respect to work with the head-injured. I felt there were some public comments out there as well so that she might be receptive to seeing some significant changes, that she had some legitimate concerns about this legislation.
I want to say, as I said during the committee hearings process and as I have said in this House, that she was perhaps one of the most significant disappointments to me with respect to Liberal members by the fact that she simply did not play an important or meaningful role in the committee, in my view. She may have another view of that, and perhaps some of her colleagues, Liberal members from whom we have heard interjections today, may have another point of view.
We have the member for Yorkview saying he is embarrassed by the actions of the opposition. My, oh my, that gentleman should look in the mirror. If he wants to be embarrassed, he should be embarrassed by the actions of this government in bringing in no-fault legislation that is going to cut benefits to drivers in this province by close to 50% and increase rates in most areas of the province by a significant margin. He says he is ashamed by the opposition’s efforts to be heard on this issue, to represent the interests of all of those thousands of people who have concerns, and he is ashamed of us, not of his own actions or lack of actions.
What has he said on this legislation? Does he care enough to stand up in this House and speak? Does he appreciate the fact that he is not going to have an opportunity either, even if he cared to, because of this government’s effort to cut off debate? Does he care about that? No, he has the gall to stand up and say he is embarrassed by the opposition’s efforts to be heard, by the opposition’s efforts to represent the views of concerned people who appeared before the committee, witness after witness who pointed out the failings of this legislation, and now, after being ignored in committee, are not even going to have an opportunity to have those concerns voiced by the opposition members through meaningful committee of the whole House, through opportunities for debate on amendments that we are hoping to put forward -- I think some 20. It leaves one shaking one’s head, the fact that the Liberal members can stand up and make comments like that.
Again, I do not want to get into detail about the member for Hamilton Centre. I indicated my great disappointment with her failure to speak out, especially on behalf of the head-injured in this province. She did not do it and I want to encourage all of her constituents in Hamilton Centre -- she is facing some difficulties with her own riding association, I understand, because of her failure to act on this legislation. Again, I am not going to attribute motives. I do not know why she took the stand or lack of stand that she took, why she did not stand up. She has been removed from cabinet. She is not an executive council member. There are very slim odds indeed that she will see a return to cabinet, so I think that if one person over there who could set aside ambition --
Mr Neumann: She has better odds than you do.
Mr Runciman: I have already been there, unlike the member, I might say.
One person who could set aside ambition would be the member for Hamilton Centre, but we did not see that occur. I urge her constituents, the members of her riding association, the members of the Liberal riding association out there, to contact the member’s office. Let her know how you feel about her not saying anything about your benefits being reduced almost 50% and your car insurance rates going up at least 8%. She did not say a thing in your defence. She did not speak out. She did not stand up for you, not one word in your defence, in defence of innocent accident victims in this province, in defence of the head-injured, the people who are going to suffer psychological injury, who will have no ability to sue an at-fault driver because of this legislation, the 95% of Ontarians who will no longer have the right to take an at-fault driver to court. They will lose that and the member for Hamilton Centre did not say one word in defence of all those thousands of people across this province, not one word.
If you care in her riding, if you care about her failure to act on your behalf, give her a call, give her office a call and let her know. It is not too late. This legislation has not passed the House. It is not too late.
We are dealing with a restriction on the time to debate this. If you can put pressure on your member, if she is there to represent your interests as she said she was going to when she ran for election in 1985, maybe you can get her to act. Maybe you can get her to stand up on behalf of you and the other people in your riding, the other people in your community, the other people in this province who are genuinely concerned about the impact of this legislation. about the way it is going to hurt people. and I mean hurt people. right across this province.
If you care, call the member for Hamilton Centre at 965-4820 in Toronto. Give her a call. Get that phone. Call her right now at 965-4820. It is important. This legislation has not gone through yet. If she wants to represent you. if she wants your vote in the next election, let her know: “Stand up for me. Stand up for the innocent accident victims across this province. Stand up for the head-injured. Stand up for all those people who are not going to have the opportunity to take at-fault drivers to court. It is all lost.” Get after the member for Hamilton Centre. Call her right now at 965-4820.
One more comment about a committee member and then I will move on to other matters: I probably will not get as agitated as I just did with respect to the previous committee member, the member for Hamilton Centre, because as I said earlier, I was extremely disappointed about her failure to perform and her failure to represent, especially, the head-injured. Perhaps she may have an opportunity at some point to explain her lack of action in that respect and l hope she does. I have not heard anything from her with respect to this up to this point. Perhaps the government will be generous if we get through this time allocation and will give her an opportunity to speak during committee of the whole.
I want to say that given the government’s restrictions on time, she is not going to have much time and I think she would need an awful lot of time indeed to explain her lack of action with respect to all of those thousands of people across this province who were counting on her, who were counting on a handful of Liberal members to be sensitive enough to this issue, to be concerned enough about innocent accident victims so that they were prepared to take a tough stand, prepared to say to the Premier, the guy who is responsible for this mess we are in with automobile insurance -- there is no doubt about it; the Premier of the province, the head of the Liberal Party of Ontario, is responsible for this.
We on the opposition side were all hoping, and many others across this province, that there would be one, two or three Liberal members on that committee who would say, especially after all that moving testimony: “We are not going to take this. We are going to stand up and speak out. We are going to be heard. It may mean a promotion. It may mean a cabinet job. But I am here to represent those people. I know what we are doing is wrong and I am going to say so.”
It did not happen, and as I said, I was most disappointed in the member for Hamilton Centre. I am not going to get as agitated about this next gentleman who did not make -- well, I am not sure if he spoke. He may have spoken briefly in the committee. He may have asked what the next meeting date was or some such thing. I am not sure. That is the member for Mississauga East, who I might say defeated an outstanding member of this Legislature. It is certainly regrettable that Bud Gregory is no longer with us, because I want tell the constituents, the people of Mississauga East, that if Bud Gregory were in this House he would not be sitting on his hands in that committee. He would not be sitting silent.
Bud Gregory would be speaking out. Bud Gregory had a record of speaking out. He had the intestinal fortitude to speak out. He would stand up and be heard. He would not let his own government, his own colleagues run roughshod over innocent accident victims in this province, unlike the current member for Mississauga East who sat on his hands and sat quietly through the proceedings. I am not sure if he said anything or not. I would have to consult Hansard, because if he did make a contribution it certainly escapes memory. There is no doubt about it: Bud Gregory would have been heard from. Bud Gregory stood up for the people he represented. Bud Gregory was there when he was needed. You could count on Bud. There is no question about it.
I hope the residents of Mississauga East will be looking at this situation, assessing the performance or lack of performance of their member, and also, again I want to reiterate, will themselves want to ask themselves their own member: “Where were you when Bill 68 passed? Where were you when no-fault auto insurance was brought in by the Liberal government? What position did you take? You served on that committee. What did you do when you heard witness after witness after witness expressing concern, pointing out the shortcomings, looking at the fact that psychological injury was not going to pass the threshold, looking at the fact that 95% of innocent accident victims would not have the right to sue, to take an at-fault driver to court, looking at all the costs that are going to be absorbed by the taxpayers of this province with the establishment of another huge bureaucracy, looking at the windfall profits to the insurance industry, looking at the tax breaks and the millions and millions of dollars to the insurance industry, looking at the wasted millions that have gone through this government’s insurance policies to the tune of $14 million or $15 million? Where was the member for Mississauga East when all this was occurring?”
I hope the voters and the residents of that riding are going to ask that gentleman that question. I hope they are going to ask him that question right now. I hope they are going to get on the phones to that member and say: “Look, this bill has not passed. They are still debating this bill. We want you to stand up and be counted. We elected you to represent us, not to simply echo Mr Peterson, the Premier of the province. We do not want you to be a sheeplike follower. We do not want you to be a rubberstamper. We want you to stand up for the interests of the residents of Mississauga East. That is why we voted for you. We did not vote for you to go in there and rubber-stamp everything Mr Peterson says. No, not at all.”
So call the member for Mississauga East at 965-9625. I am not lifting these cards up, because of my respect for the Speaker and the Speaker’s views on this subject. I am encouraged to hold these cards up but I am not going to do it, because the Speaker offered his advice earlier in the day. He said I was not violating the standing orders but I want to indicate, despite the chastisement I am receiving in this House, that I followed the advice of the Speaker. I did not have to and he will acknowledge that. I did not have to, but I am trying to recognize his views and his respect for this place. I share that respect. I want to say that when I say I share the respect, it is as it involves the role of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition. That respect apparently is not shared by the government, this Liberal government.
Mr Speaker, when you look at what they have done with this time allocation legislation, when you look at their efforts to cut off debate in a meaningful way on no-fault auto insurance, they cut it off. They can argue, they can shout, they can scream, they can banter, but the reality is they are saying to us in the opposition, all 30-some of us versus 94 Liberals -- there are 30-some opposition members -- ”Look, we are going to give you two days in committee of the whole,” two lousy days in committee of the whole with -- what? -- 30, 40, 50 amendments to discuss, and thousands of people who have concerns.
Mr Speaker, I have respect for this place, you have respect for this place; the Liberal government does not have any respect for this place or it would not bring in this kind of legislation.
Mr Cousens: Well said; well said. I do not think they are listening that well, though.
Mr Runciman: They do not know how to listen and that has been indicated clearly. They listen to what comes from the second-floor office. I do not want to attribute motives, but one has to wonder, in the face of the facts in respect to this legislation, about the fact that there are so many people hurt by this legislation and we have this sort of rubber-stamp mentality.
The failure of these people to speak up, to speak out, to express a concern bothers me deeply. It has bothered me deeply for some time. I have said this has perhaps affected me in an emotional way more so that any other issue I have dealt with in my nine-plus years in this Legislature. it really affects me that we hear these people in this House today chastising me, joking, criticizing me, making points of order to try to delay the process, trying to limit even further the amount of time we have to talk about this issue.
It is simply baffling to all of us on this side of the House why they will not be prepared to stand up. I have to even wonder if they spoke out in caucus. I do not want to attribute motives, but I have been on the government side for a period of time and I know there is that intimidation factor. I guess most of us are ambitious types or we would not be here, and we do not want to see those avenues of progress shut off because we simply spoke out on behalf of our constituents.
I think that is an attitude that has to go. That is an attitude that most Canadians are offended by. It is time we took stands. It is time we stood up on behalf of the people we represent and especially on an issue like this, when the government is doing something which is so patently wrong, so patently bad, so patently harmful to so many people in this province. If there is one issue the government should take a stand on, this is it. But it is not prepared to do it.
An hon member: Listen to the member for Lambton over there.
Mr Runciman: Yes, the member for Lambton is making interjections. I wonder whether he has any familiarity with this legislation or any understanding of it. Does he realize -- and I want to reiterate this -- that benefits are going to be slashed? Do the people in Lambton care, I wonder, that benefits are going to be slashed by 47.7%? That is what the government’s actuary said. Benefits under this Liberal no-fault plan are going to be slashed by 47.7%.
Do the people in Lambton know that? I will bet they do not know that. I bet the member is not telling them that. He is just feeding them the government line, he and his sheeplike gang over there rubber-stamping this all the way through, despite the thousands of innocent accident victims it is going to hurt. Not one look sideways, not one look backwards; simply put the blinkers on and what the Premier says, that is it; forge ahead and hope that nobody notices; hope that nobody cares; hope that this slips right by the electorate.
I am telling you, Mr Speaker, it is very disturbing indeed. I have spent a significant amount of time talking about the Liberal lack of performance, the Liberal lack of concern, the Liberal lack of empathy and feeling for innocent accident victims and the thousands of people who are going to be hurt by this legislation. I am going move on to a few other subjects, because --
Mr D. W. Smith: It’s about time.
Mr Runciman: Yes, it is about time, the member is right, but I guess the Liberal member is rather sensitive about me talking about the failure of the Liberal members to perform. I feel I have to do that in respect of the fact that we are being cut off, the way we are being restricted in our opportunities, and the fact that we have these arguments coming from the Minister of Financial Institutions that we have had all kinds of opportunity; it went through committee; we had meaningful hearings. Well, that is balderdash. We did not have meaningful hearings, we had restricted hearings, very restricted hearings; hearings that the government was reluctant to participate in the first place. It had to be forced into them by the opposition. We were restricted to four cities. We wanted to travel right around the province. We could not get the approval.
Then what did we have when we got to those committee hearings? An effort by the Liberal members of the committee simply to put the earplugs in, ask inane questions and get this thing through. “Get the old rubber stamp out, boys, and let’s give it our blessing. We do not care what it is going to do to the people of this province. We do not care that it is patently bad. We do not care that it is harmful, that it is going to cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. We do not care. The Premier says this is what we have got to do. We like our jobs, so we are going to do what the leader of the Liberal Party tells us to do. We do not even care if our Liberal riding associations are upset; we do not care. In fact, we may even dump on them like the member for Sudbury did.” He said, “Who the devil do they think they are, telling me what to do?” That is what the Liberal member for Sudbury said; not even listening to his own riding association.
We know the government House leader is facing some difficulties as well. The government House leader, the member for Hamilton Centre -- they are all facing some difficulties with their own riding associations because of the stand, or lack of stand or failure to take a stand on no-fault auto insurance. The fact is that they are simply mouthing the government line; despite all the apparent flaws in the government line, that is all they know how to do. They are puppets on a string. The Premier and his friends in whatever industry -- I will not get into who is going to benefit from this legislation, but we know who appeared before us and was strongly supportive of this legislation: the insurance industry, insurance brokers. That is it.
So we talk about puppets. we talk about the government House leader, we talk about all of the folks over there who are now starting to experience some problems with their own riding associations, their own Liberal rank and file, the grass roots of their own party, who are starting to be aware of what the impact of this legislation is. They are going to pay the price. Many, many members over there, perhaps, are going to pay the price.
I think there is a lot of wishful thinking over there, as I said: “We are going to get this through and nobody is going to know what this is all about. We could say, ‘Look, the no-fault benefits are going up from $149 to $600 a week. Is that not great?’ We will not say there is going to be a net reduction in benefits of 47.7%. We will not talk about that. We will talk about the small, little benefits that have been built into this. That is all we will talk about. Boys, that is what we concentrate on. Forget about all these cuts. Forget about this loss of benefits. Forget about the fact you are losing 50% of benefits. Forget about the fact that 95% of people will lose the right to take an at-fault driver to court. No, let’s just talk about increasing the no-fault from $140 to $600 and increasing a number of other modest things.”
Let’s not talk about the windfall to the insurance industry of close to $1 billion. Let’s not talk about the tax breaks to the insurance industry totalling $143 million. Let’s not talk about the millions wasted up to this point by the Liberal government in its ad hoc, seat-of-the-pants crisis management of this insurance issue. Let’s not talk about the millions wasted by the automobile insurance board. And let’s not talk about the millions this is going to cost taxpayers by the establishment of a huge bureaucracy to administer this plan and the dispute resolution mechanism which could be, as I have said before, the son of rent review.
No one knows what it is going to cost. No one knows the bodies that are going to be involved in this. Rent review is costing us in the neighbourhood of $40 million to $50 million a year in this province, with a backlog of up to two years. The Minister of Housing is here. I believe my figures are reasonably correct: $40 million to $50 million. We are talking about drivers with a comparable system: dispute resolution. There are over six million drivers in this province and what is going to happen with dispute resolution’? They do not have any idea how many accidents are going to go to dispute resolution. They do not know what it is going to cost us; not one clue.
I asked the Deputy Minister of Financial Institutions in December: “What is the bureaucracy going to look like? What are the costs going to be?” They did not know. They were counting on this legislation being passed by 1 December, being in effect by 1 December, and here we were in the first week in December and the Deputy Minister of Financial Institutions did not know what this was going to cost, did not know how it was going to work, did not know how big the bureaucracy was going to be and what the implications were going to be on the civil service, let alone the taxpayers of this province. Pretty scary stuff.
But that is the way this government has handled auto insurance. They do not know where they are going. They have had no clear agenda. They have hopped from crisis to crisis. They have cost the taxpayers millions. They have cost the insurance industry millions and millions of dollars. They have done it all because they have failed to listen and act upon the advice, the expert witness testimony that they have heard going back to Bill 2 and the hearings of the standing committee on administration of justice which established the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and, when you go on to this bill, establishing no-fault auto insurance. They have failed to listen. They have totally ignored the advice that has been offered to them.
Mr Speaker, I know you do not like me holding up signs, but I did have one other sign, which does not have a name on it, and I wanted to talk briefly about this. I hope you have no objections to this one, Mr Speaker. This is “Wasted taxpayers’ dollars” -- and this is just a modest amount. It says, “Wasted taxpayers’ dollars, $l2-$l5 million.” Twelve to fifteen million dollars of wasted taxpayers’ money.
While I am talking about this, I want to talk about the priorities of this government. I want to talk about their failure to listen to people and their failure to act upon what they have heard. Twelve to fifteen million dollars, and that is just the beginning. That represents the money wasted, wasted by the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board.
That board was established in 1987. They established a significant bureaucracy up in North York with very plush quarters. You know this Liberal government; it does not worry about spending big bucks on lavish furniture. “Our people, our bureaucrats, are going to have only the best.” They established these lavish quarters up in North York, appointed a long-time Liberal hack -- is that the right word, Mr Speaker? Is that parliamentary? -- a fellow by the name of Kruger who has held virtually every position in this Liberal government in five years, at a significant salary. I assume at least a top-scale deputy minister’s salary. What is that -- $ 145,000 or something like that? With all the benefits, the perks, that go with it. probably a driver and a car; I am sure he gets a driver and a car. They established that and put them up in North York.
Mr Kerrio: You had a car and driver. What happened to your car and driver?
Mr Runciman: What happened to the car and driver for the member for Niagara Falls? That may be a more relevant question here today. I think ours is clearly understood. His we are still wondering about. We have never had a full explanation.
Mr Eakins: Yes or no -- did you drive yourself?
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, they are diverting me from my message. I want to talk about wasted taxpayers’ dollars. This is a very significant issue. I am talking about only one element of this, and that is the money wasted by the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. This is an important ingredient of this as well. That board was established to set rates. It was the most massive intervention in the private sector in the history of this province. They got into the industry and they were going to set rates. They were also going to look at changing rate classifications. I want to say that points out how significantly they failed to heed advice. They were told by witness after witness after witness not to go ahead with rate reclassification because it would not work. It was going to see seniors, women drivers, the safest drivers in society, penalized with rate increases of 50% to 80%. But they did not heed that advice. They went ahead.
So in the spring of 1988 the insurance board was finished its work. It presented the new rates to the minister, and the new rate classification on which the rates were based, and there it was -- 80% to 90% increases for senior citizens and women drivers over 30; exactly what had been predicted at the hearings of the standing committee on administration of justice in the fall of 1987.
The minister would not pay heed to it; the Liberal government ignored it, and there the minister had the report from the automobile insurance board saying, “What they told you last fall was right; here is what it is going to cost consumers.” The minister looked at it, took it to cabinet -- the member for Niagara Falls may have been there at the time and he was chastised I might add because he at least said cabinet could overturn anything the automobile insurance board said. The Premier chastised him and said that was not the way it was going to be.
The minister took this document showing these significant increases to cabinet, cabinet panicked and said, “We cannot do this; it is political suicide.” They threw it out the window. Months of work and millions of dollars down the toilet. I guess we can accept a mistake being made, but the problem with this one is the fact that they were told in the fall of 1987 by witness after witness after witness what was going to happen, and they totally ignored it. Millions of dollars out the window. Mr Kruger was humiliated --
Mr McLean: He pretty near quit.
Mr Runciman: He should have quit; he should have resigned, but I guess the gentleman knows no other life than the civil service; I am not sure. He stayed on. He said: “Kick me again. I am down; kick me again.”
Mr Wiseman: He must be quite a Liberal.
Mr Runciman: I do not know; quite a Liberal. That says a lot about Liberals, I guess. So that is phase 1.
Phase 2: the minister then, in a panic situation, did not know what to do. He applied another rate freeze and he threw product reform back at the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. He said: “Okay, I have thrown out what you have done the first few months; I have thrown the millions of dollars you have spent down the toilet. We will give you something else to do: product reform. Take a look at two no-fault plans and take a look at something that is a choice plan between tort and no-fault.”
So the board and all of the Liberal appointees on that board making their big per diems, and all of the staff making their thousands of bucks per day and per month and what have you, all went to work with their second assignment. But unbeknownst to the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, the Minister of Financial Institutions and a few of his cronies in the bureaucracy and in the insurance industry were quietly working behind closed doors on another plan.
So what happens is that Mr Kruger and his Liberal friends worked on this hearing process, took a look at three plans and they came back again with a report to the minister which says what? What did it say? “We do not think no-fault is a good idea. We do not think that is the way to go. If no-fault is brought in, it is going to be brought in on the backs of innocent accident victims. The only way you can effect stabilized or reduced rates is through the reduction in benefits.” That is what the insurance board said in its second report to the minister.
What did the minister do with that report that cost millions of dollars? I want to ask my colleagues what they think the minister did with that report.
Mr Cousens: He filed it.
Mr Runciman: You bet. He filed it again, and when he files those he at the same time pushes the crank on the toilet and down go millions and millions and millions of dollars again.
We are talking about just one element of this exercise involving the automobile insurance board, the establishment of that board, the plush offices, the fantastic salaries. They produced one report, against advice, and it was rejected. They looked at a second report, while the minister was doing his own little, quiet work behind closed doors; again, a total, flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money. When I talk about $12 million to $15 million, that is what I am talking about.
Mr Wiseman: How much money is that again?
Mr Runciman: It is $12 million to $15 million of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Wiseman: Shame.
Mr Runciman: It is quite shameful.
Mr Cousens: That didn’t include all the expenses and everything else, either.
Mr Runciman: No, it did not include all the expenses. I will have an opportunity as we proceed. It did not include the windfall for the insurance industry, but what was perhaps more important, the tax breaks for the insurance industry, the 3% sales tax on premiums which is being forgiven and the OHIP subrogation agreement which is being wiped out, which total in the neighbourhood of $143 million, again coming from taxpayers’ pockets.
Again, as I said earlier, it does not talk about what this bill itself is going to cost taxpayers on an ongoing basis. It does not talk about a host of things. It does not talk about the unbelievable waste of scarce resources at a time when we have people lining up at food banks in this most prosperous province in the country and this government is flushing millions of dollars down the toilet because it failed to listen to witnesses, it failed to listen to the people of this province and it failed to listen to experts who knew and predicted what was going to happen. Up to this point it has cost us at least that $15 million, not counting the agreement with the insurance industry and a host of other things.
How I am tying this into what we are talking about here today is, again, the government has refused to listen to witnesses. I want to talk about the cost element. We can talk about the rights and the benefits, but I want to talk about the element of cost and what some of the implications are here for taxpayers in the province in the future.
I have spoken briefly about dispute resolution and the fact that that could be another hornet’s nest, a quagmire that we get ourselves into like we got into with rent control, where it is going to cost us unknown millions of dollars with no real handle on it and no way of putting a cap on it. It is a Pandora’s box, and once we open it, there are some pretty scary prospects indeed in there for us as taxpayers.
I want to talk about one other element of this, and that is the fact
The Speaker: The member for Simcoe West.
Mr McCague: Mr Speaker, there are not many members in the House to hear this very important contribution by the member for Leeds-Grenville. Therefore, I would like to move that we adjourn.
The Speaker: Order. I really have to say, with respect, to the member, he does not have the floor. Therefore, I will recognize the member for Leeds-Grenville to continue.
Mr Runciman: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that.
I was talking about the taxpayers’ costs and I talked about what they have wasted up to this point and the fact that we have an unknown in respect to taxes with dispute resolution, but there is another one that is hanging over our heads. Again it could mean millions and millions of dollars, and again the liability is going to fall upon the taxpayers of this province. That is the constitutionality of this legislation.
There are legal opinions out there that this legislation will not stand up to a constitutional challenge, that it is discriminatory and violates the Charter of Rights. We have Gordon Henderson, QC, a former law partner of the Attorney General of the province, who has offered the advice that he feels this legislation may indeed be unconstitutional. We have a host of others who have expressed concern. We even have the insurance industry on the record expressing concern, asking for a referral to the Court of Appeal for a quick judgement in respect of the constitutionality of this legislation.
The government could do that and could deal with that rather quickly, but it has refused to do so. In fact, when I and others have questioned the Minister of Financial Institutions about this, he has talked about the fact that, “We have legal opinions” -- the Liberal government has legal opinions -- ”and we feel comfortable.”
The fact is that they have been unprepared to make those legal opinions public. That has to make one wonder, if indeed they are so certain that this legislation is constitutional, why they are not prepared to make those legal opinions public.
I want to say that the implications are serious indeed, very serious indeed. If we go down the road with this legislation, a year or two years from now we know we are going to have a challenge. We have had a number of groups indicate they are going to challenge the legislation.
If it is found to be unconstitutional, what is going to happen? We are going to find that in that one- or two-year period all those people, all those innocent accident victims who had the right to sue taken away from them by the Liberal government, are now going to have the right to return to the courts. The implications could be in the millions and millions, the hundreds of millions of dollars. Whom is that liability going to fall upon? It is going to fall upon the shoulders of the taxpayers of this province. That is the reality, simply because this government, for reasons known best to it, is refusing to refer this to the Court of Appeal for a judgement.
There are some sceptics who would suggest that the government’s legal opinion indicates that indeed this legislation is fallible, that indeed it may not stand up to a challenge. All the government is prepared to do right now is get through an election, get the heat off, and if it is found unconstitutional after the election, well, so be it.
Then they will move to nationalize the industry. They do not care about the private sector; they will nationalize the industry. Instead of operating these thousands of brokerages across the province, with a little insurance broker in each small community, they will close them down and will sell auto insurance out of Ministry of Transportation offices. They do not care; they do not really care. All they care about is getting over this hump, the next provincial election.
I have said and many others have said that the implications of this are very significant to all of us as taxpayers. We could say this is going to come back to haunt them, but I do not want to see that happen. I do not want to be standing up in this Legislature, perhaps as a member of the opposition, and say, “See, we told you so,” because that does not give me any solace, it does not give the taxpayers of this province any solace, because that money has been lost. It is like the $12 million to $15 million. We told them, witness after witness told them that it was wrong, that what they were doing was wrong, but they ignored them, they went ahead and they wasted that money -- $12 million to $15 million.
That is a pretty paltry sum when you look at what the implications are if this legislation is found unconstitutional. As I said, we are talking about potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, so I do not want to be standing in this House and saying, “I told you so.” I want to see the government act now; I want to see it refer it to the Court of Appeal and get a judgement. Let’s play it safe. If this legislation is flawed, let’s find out.
Why does the government not want to find out now? Why does it want to wait two years when it could cost us all hundreds of millions of dollars? Will anyone answer that question? Will any Liberal stand up in this House and say why the government will not do that? Why will it not refer this to the Court of Appeal and get a judgement so that we know that there are not going be any negative implications for this province? No one up to this point has been prepared to do that.
Again, it is one of those things -- you know, you tend to be cynical, but I am becoming increasingly cynical about this Liberal government, increasingly cynical about the motives and what it is attempting to do. This is so clear, when they just have to look at their own track record in respect to ignoring advice, in respect to ignoring testimony, in respect to wasting taxpayers’ dollars, and they are still ready to forge ahead, still ready to ignore advice like that from Gordon Henderson, QC, and many, many other noted jurists.
We have former Chief Justice Edson Haines -- whose comments I want to put on the record later, because I am going to talk about this again -- Justice Edson Haines, justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario, expressing very serious concerns about the constitutionality of this, and again it is not being heeded.
The thing that bothers me so much about this is that I have been involved in this as the insurance critic for four and a half years. I have gone through this with the government, the Liberal government, listening to what experts have told it, listening to the submissions, the documentation, and seeing it ignore it and then seeing it cost us.
Again, we are carrying on that same path, we are going down that same road, and there apparently is no desire on the part of the Liberal government to do anything about it, to pull back, to say: “Look, maybe we’re not embarking on what is right for this province. Maybe there are some problems here in respect to the ability of this legislation to stand up to a constitutional challenge. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s do the responsible thing. Let’s refer it to the court. We can have a judgement in a matter of weeks, before we give this legislation royal assent and bring it into law, and if there are problems, we have to go back to square one.
We can deal with the insurance companies through some other method over the interim, perhaps some sort of an interim rate increase to keep them solvent and keep operating in this province if indeed they are having financial problems this year. If that is the case, then it can be borne out by the statistical evidence presented to the government, providing them with some mechanism to carry on until it brings back amended legislation that can stand up to a challenge, that is going to recognize the very real concerns that are out there. But we do not see any desire, any willingness on the part of the government to take that kind of action.
I am going to move on to another gentleman who is very important in this day of debate.
Seeing that there does not appear to be any interest in the debate at this point, I move the adjournment of the House.
Mr Runciman moved the adjournment of the House.
The House divided on Mr Runciman’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 16; nays 50.
Mr Runciman: I want to explain the motion in respect to the fact that we only had a handful of Liberals in the House to listen to one of the most important debates facing this province, and they do not care. That has been their record on auto insurance in this province, and that has been their record in respect to this bill; they do not care, they do not want to listen. They do not even want to listen to contributions of the members of the opposition although they are seriously limiting our opportunities to have input.
And even in that seriously limited opportunity that they are affording us, they do not want to even listen. They do not want to even be here and pay any attention. They are going to shove it to the innocent accident victims of this province and they do not want to even hear what we have to say. They do not want to hear those concerns. They do not want to hear the fact that the benefits to drivers across this province are going to be reduced. There is going to be a net reduction in benefits of 47.7%. I want to keep hammering that.
I had a couple of calls during the break from people who were not aware that the Liberal government, under its no-fault legislation, was going to reduce their benefits close to 50% and at the same time increase their rates. Figure that one out, folks. The Liberal members should explain that to their constituents, to the voters. They are going to reduce their benefits by close to 50% but they are not going to reduce their rates. What a deal.
That is one of the reasons the government wants to restrict debate. They do not want the people to understand. I want to say they are starting to understand. We are getting messages from Cochrane North, for example: “My member never told me about this. My member never said a word about such a significant reduction in benefits. He never said we’re going to lose 47.7% of our benefits.”
Who is the member for Cochrane North? The member for Cochrane North, Mr Speaker, believe it or not, is a Liberal and he is not telling the people in his riding that they are going to lose benefits to the total of 47.7%. The government actuaries say that. It cannot be disputed. It is a fact.
Also, a fact confirmed by the government actuaries is that 95% of the innocent accident victims in this province are going to lose the right to take an at-fault driver to court, 95% are going to lose that very basic right that we have all grown accustomed to and are entitled to. We are going to lose it because of the actions of this Liberal government.
I talked about the Liberal backbenchers not having any spine, not being prepared to stand up and be counted on, not being prepared to be heard on this legislation, not being prepared to talk for innocent accident victims, for the head-injured and for those suffering psychological injury who will have no access to the courts, no ability whatsoever to pierce the threshold, no right to sue if they have a psychological injury as a result of a car accident. They are going to lose that.
This lady from Cochrane North has a daughter who goes to Queen’s University in Kingston, driving back and forth all the time. She is very concerned. She just watched this program today and for the first time she is starting to learn about some of the negative implications of this legislation. She is not hearing them from her Liberal member. He is another one who has failed to do his job, who is simply not standing up on behalf of the people of this province.
I want to take a few minutes to talk about the man who is responsible for this, the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, Mr Peterson. What riding does he represent?
Mrs Marland: London Centre.
Mr Runciman: London Centre.
Mr Ballinger: The best Premier this province has ever had.
Mr Cousens: Three of them clapping and the rest of them --
Mr Runciman: I guess the rest have their hands tied behind their backs. We had three Liberals applauding when someone said, “The best Premier.” I want to say it is a pretty sad day when we have those Liberal members prepared to stand here and shout on behalf of a man who is responsible for such negative, harmful legislation as this no-fault legislation, who is responsible for the actions of his government House leader. who is attempting to cut off debate by this opposition.
Her Majesty’s loyal opposition is restricted to two days in committee of the whole. Most of the members of this opposition -- both parties, New Democratic and Progressive Conservative -- will not have the opportunity to speak out on behalf of the thousands of people across this province who are concerned because of the actions of this government. And who is ultimately responsible’? Mr Peterson. the member for London Centre, the man they had the gall to applaud. Can you understand it. Mr Speaker?
The only reason they are doing it. the only reason they are standing up here in support of their leader, the only reason they are keeping their mouths shut in respect to this legislation is indeed that they are trained seals. They are trained yes-men and yes-women. They are sheeplike followers. They cannot stand up on their own. They cannot stand up on behalf of their constituents. They cannot stand up on behalf of innocent accident victims across this province. As I have said often before, they have a great deal to be ashamed of.
Mr Mahoney: Cheap shots.
Mr Runciman: Who said that?
Mr Mahoney: I said it.
Mrs Marland: The member for Mississauga West.
Mr Runciman: There is a member who has only ambition on his mind. He has as much chance to get anywhere as a man with a wooden leg in a forest fire. That is the reality. But he still aspires to higher office. That is what this is all about -- ambition, short-term political gain. No concern for the innocent accident victims across this province, none whatsoever. If he cared he would be standing up. He would be taking a look at the facts.
Mr Speaker, I have told you the basic facts are very clear. If you want a reiteration of them. I do not think we have to spell out more than two or three of them, and perhaps the most important one is the fact that there is going to be a net loss in benefits of 47.7%.
We will take this member who is standing here -- I hate to use first names -- the member for Oakville South. He has been paying close attention --
Mr Carrothers: I fell asleep. I’m sorry.
Mr Runciman: -- or at least I thought he was. He has been in the House most of the day. He stands up here and says, “What are those losses?” I keep saying it. I keep saying it. I keep saying it. but I do not know what is required to get the message through to that member and to other members on the Liberal side of the House that this is bad legislation, it is harmful legislation, it hurts people. It hurts innocent accident victims, despite the mumblings and the rhetoric and the party line of the Minister for Financial Institutions. The reality is that this legislation hurts people. It especially hurts the people who can least afford it in society: the poor. the unemployed. Those are the people who are really getting it in the neck by this Liberal government.
You want to take a look at people who cannot afford collateral benefits, who cannot afford salary continuation plans. Mr Speaker. What is going to happen to them. the poorer people in society? They are going to he refused by these insurance companies because they present a higher risk to them, and they are shoved into Facility Association where they are going to pay two to three times the rate that they currently pay. That is the reality. We are seeing it happen now. We see Facility increased by close to 300% since this government has made such a mess of the insurance industry in the past two and a half years. The facts are out there. They are very clear if they want to look at them, but they do not want to look at them. They do not want to pay any attention to the facts.
They have an agenda, and it is a political one and it is a short-term political one, to get them over the next election and that is all they care about. They do not care about those people who are not going to have the right to sue, who are not going to have the right to take an at-fault driver to court. They do not care, they simply do not care. Up to 97% of innocent accident victims will not have the right to take an at-fault driver to court when this no-fault legislation goes through. Remember that. ladies and gentlemen. Those are the facts. They are clearly presented in the government’s own actuarial studies. We are seeing a significant reduction in benefits, along with that loss of right.
What is going to happen in Oakville South, whose member was here? What is going to happen? His constituents can look forward to an average 8% increase if they are lucky. They are going to get a close to 50% reduction in benefits, probably a complete loss of access to courts in taking an at-fault driver to court, and they are going to pay more for it. Them’s the facts. If the Liberals want facts, them’s the facts. They just do not want to acknowledge it. Whenever the minister gets his opportunity we are going to have this baloney about improved benefits on the no-fault side and all of those little sorts of things. They are not going to deal with a reduction in benefits. They are not going to say, “Okay, the actuary says we’re losing 47.3% of benefits and we’re going to talk about that.” They are not going to talk about that. They are going to ignore that. That is the strategy. “We modestly increase benefits on the no-fault side and a few other elements and then we are going to talk about that.” The big he, nothing less. That is all it is. “We get this party line and we push it. We do not talk about the negatives at all. We ignore them completely. They do not exist.”
If you are a Liberal. Mr Speaker. close your eyes, plug your ears. You do not want to listen to the facts. You do not want to listen to the downside. You do not want to know how many people are going to be hurt. You just do not want to know. You do not want to hear. You do not want to listen. You do not want to react to those concerns. Just ignore them. “Move ahead with our short-term political agenda. Let’s get elected. Let’s have another majority government and then we will face the fallout. We will have four to five years to deal with it.” Who is going to suffer as a result of that? I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, the people of this province are going to suffer, especially innocent accident victims.
Mr Speaker, as you can understand. appreciate and recognize, I get a little agitated about this issue. I do not want to pass out on the floor of the assembly. I have said often that this is an extremely serious issue and one that I feel quite strongly about. I quite sincerely hold feelings about what the government us doing and have genuine concerns about its long-term impact. let alone its short-term impact on the people of this province.
The government members think this is a joke. Most of them are laughing at this. They do not care. We have backbenchers in here. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. I guess it is, in here parroting the government line. I think, like some others in this House. that is the only thing he knows how to do. They have to he followers. I suspect the only thing he has ever achieved on his own is dandruff. He is one of those sheeplike followers. They are not prepared to take a stand.
I know it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to stand up to the leader of your party, but when that man is wrong, when that man is going to hurt innocent people in this province. innocent accident victims, is that not the time to put aside your own aspirations, your own ambitions? Is that not the time to put that aside and say, “Look, I care about those people. I care what this legislation is going to do. I care about how it is going to hurt people, how it is going to damage people, how it is going to cost us, as taxpayers, millions and millions or dollars,” and take a strong stand?
But again, it is not happening and we have Liberal members like the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who spends hour upon hour in this House not making much of a contribution other than sitting over in a corner joking with a bunch of his cohorts about this legislation and its impact on witnesses.
This is an insult to people like Barbara Turnbull who appeared before the committee. She was shot in a convenience store holdup and came to our committee concerned about the future of innocent accident victims. You get this kind of contempt for testimony. That is what it is, contempt for people like Barbara Turnbull who cared enough and had no vested interest but who were very much concerned about future accident victims.
Jeremy Rempel, a young 18-year-old, who appeared before us in a wheelchair, was concerned about future accident victims and he wanted to be heard. He had no vested interest. He had nothing to gain, but he was concerned about what this no-fault legislation meant to innocent accident victims in the future. What is he getting?
We are getting a cutoff of debate, a stifling of debate in this House and, in the limited opportunity we have, we have contempt being shown by Liberal backbenchers for the debate. The opportunity for input is limited, and what do we get during that limited input opportunity? Contempt. Contempt from Liberal members of this Legislature. They ought to be ashamed.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Runciman: I started to talk about the Premier of the province, the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is what got you riled up.
Mr Runciman: That does get me riled up frequently. We talk about this bill hurting the little people in society, hurting the innocent accident victims, hurting a multitude of people in this province. I have talked about the lack of compassion and the lack of empathy for those kinds of people in society by the leader of the Liberal Party. I really believe that.
I knew the gentleman in opposition. I liked him. But when we see the actions of this government with respect to how it deals with the little people in society, especially through this kind of legislation, it has to make you step back and wonder why. Why does that particular leader not understand how this is going to hurt people? Why does he not appreciate how this is going to hurt people?
You have to say, well, perhaps it is because of a rather sheltered upbringing that gentleman has had. He has not really had to get out and put blisters on his hands. He has not had to worry. He has not had to worry about the next paycheque. He has not had to worry about making a mortgage payment. He was born into great wealth. I am not saying anything negative. These are facts.
This is a man who spent the early part of his adult life going to various schools. He went to a number of universities. He went to France and got an education. How many in this assembly, let alone across this province, had those kinds of privileges, never having to worry about where the next cheque was coming from, whether you could put food on the table to feed your children, whether you could meet a mortgage payment or a rental payment? That particular gentleman never had those worries. He had a cushioned existence and I think we are seeing that in the way this gentleman, the member for London Centre, treats people in this province through the introduction of legislation like this no-fault legislation.
There is simply no empathy, no caring, no concern for the way it is going to hurt people, the way it is really going to hurt innocent accident victims in this province, the way it is really going to impact on the less fortunate in society -- the unemployed, those people earning minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage, especially people in areas like Metropolitan Toronto where the cost of living is so high that even what in other areas of the province may be considered a reasonable income, is not such in Metropolitan Toronto. Those are the kinds of people who are going to be impacted and hurt so badly by this legislation.
The responsibility for this lies at the doorstep of the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario. There is no doubt about it. He made a promise in 1987 during the heat of an election battle that got us in this mess. We are here today thanks to the Premier and a promise he made in September 1987. He said he had a very specific plan to lower automobile insurance rates. We know that never happened. We know that we have been in a chaotic situation ever since with respect to automobile insurance. We have had the government staggering from crisis to crisis without any clear idea of where it wanted to go, really in reaction to a very irresponsible promise made by the leader of the Liberal Party in 1987.
I have classified it as something other than an irresponsible promise. I have suggested words, Mr Speaker, that you and your colleagues have found not to be appropriate for Parliament, but I want to say that the message is out there for anyone who wants to look at it.
A promise was made in 1987. We know that insurance rates have risen over 20% over the interim since that election promise was made. We know now that what we are going to see through no-fault legislation is significant increases in all of the urban areas of this province and a stabilization, perhaps, of rates in some less populated areas. At what cost, though? At the cost of significant benefits, close to 50% loss of benefits.
I do not want to go on at much length about the Premier, but I want to say again that hopefully we in the opposition and others in the province who know what has occurred will ensure that during this next election, whenever it might be, it comes back to haunt him.
I know those of us who are trying to raise this issue in the House are hoping that perhaps the message will get through to him. Perhaps as he is jogging around his Rosedale mansion, he may reflect on the unfortunate way in which this is going to impact on the less fortunate in society.
I know when he is up in Rosedale, when he is out checking the blue boxes to see what his neighbours are drinking -- I saw that comment in a recent article; that is one of the Premier’s major concerns. When he is jogging around his Rosedale mansion, he is checking his neighbours’ blue boxes to see what kind of wine they are drinking. He is concerned about what kind of wine he is drinking. But is he concerned about innocent accident victims in this province? Is he concerned about the less fortunate in society? Mr Speaker, I ask you.
No, what he is concerned about is: “I wonder what kind of wine my neighbour is drinking. I wonder what kind of French wine he has.” That is the sort of mindset, that is the sort of Premier that the people of this province are faced with. He is the kind of man who would introduce this kind of legislation that is going to hurt people right across this province.
I want to say that we can make our best efforts. There are 19 New Democrats and 17 Progressive Conservatives in this Legislature. We are faced with the largest majority in the history of the province of Ontario: 94 Liberals. Not one of the Liberal backbenchers is prepared to stand up and be counted.
Those of us who sat on that committee knew that the overwhelming majority of people appearing before us were very concerned about this legislation. opposed to this legislation, did not want to see it go through, wanted it changed, wanted it withdrawn. But nothing happened.
The committee members did not do anything. The members in this House are not prepared to do anything but cajole and heckle and insult witnesses who appeared before us. That is their agenda. That is what they are here for. That is all they are here for.
When the vote comes, we know they will be standing up, all 94 of them, hoping the Premier is personally looking at them as they stand up and say: “I am here with you, Mr Peterson. Look, I am voting with you, Mr Peterson.” That is the way it is going to be.
The Speaker: Order. Once again, we refer to members by their riding.
Mr Runciman: I was referring to the member for London Centre, the Premier of the province, with 93 members of this House, and perhaps, most important, the members who are backbenchers because they are not tied by cabinet solidarity. We are talking about whatever number it is of backbenchers who are going to stand up as sheeplike followers, despite the knowledge that this legislation is harmful, despite the knowledge that this legislation hurts people. despite the fact that this legislation is going to cost the taxpayers of this province untold millions.
Despite that, they are going to stand up and hope that the member for London Centre. the Premier of this province, is going to say: Yes. I recognize the member for Scarborough West. He did a good job. He stood up and voted. He followed my lead.”
Mr Faubert: Ellesmere. Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr Runciman: The fact is, he did not do a good job, and those who follow the leader in standing up and voting for this legislation are not doing a good job. They are doing a disservice not only to their own constituents, not only to all the people they supposedly represent, but perhaps most important, they are doing a disservice, in my view, to what is most important, to the innocent accident victims of the future in this province, the people who are really going to suffer under this legislation.
We can talk about an awful lot of other people who are going to be hurt, and I have talked about the low-income people, the less fortunate. But the people who are really going to suffer, the people who are really going to hurt -- as I said, this may come home to roost in members’ own homes in the future -- are innocent accident victims. They are the people the members should be concerned about.
They should not be concerned about standing up when the Premier stands up. They should not be concerned about future aspirations, about getting into cabinet or becoming a parliamentary assistant or getting a chauffeur-driven limousine or getting an open-ended expense account.
The government members should not be concerned about that sort of thing. They should be concerned about innocent accident victims. That is what they should be concerned about, but they are not. It is quite clear. We have not heard a word of concern, not one word from the Liberal ranks, nothing, nothing at all.
Mr Runciman: Now again we get these kinds of inane interjections, trying to be critical of me because I am trying, with the limited numbers we have in opposition, to voice the concerns of those thousands of people across Ontario who want to be heard, who simply want an opportunity to be heard. The government, through this time allocation motion, is not affording them that opportunity. They are pulling the rug out from under them. They are cutting them off at the knees. That is what they are doing. We have never had anything like this in the history of the Legislature.
The Speaker: Perhaps the member might glance at the clock.
On motion by Mr Runciman, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1800