The House met at 1330.
Miss Martel: While the Workers’ Compensation Board tells us its new strategies and new technologies are providing better service to injured workers, the reality is that nothing has changed. In fact, my colleagues and I would argue that in the last year things have become even worse.
Take the case of Pierre Labbe of Kirkland Lake. In December 1989 his compensable condition worsened and his specialist ordered him off work. After repeated calls by the union, a decision to provide benefits was finally made on 30 April, some five months after his layoff. His cheques still do not arrive on time.
In January 1990 Mr Labbe had to travel from Kirkland Lake to Sudbury and back -- some 630 kilometres -- to be seen for a pension assessment. He paid the expenses out of his own pocket and has yet to be reimbursed. To add insult to injury, he has now been told he must travel from Kirkland Lake to North Bay and back -- some 500 kilometres -- to see his rehab counsellor. He cannot afford to do so at this time.
Because of the board’s delay in making a decision in providing benefits, Mr Labbe was forced to move his family out of their apartment and into a vacant home owned by his father. I wonder what they would have done without that support.
Things are not better at the Workers’ Compensation Board. The president cannot be believed when he says the changes are providing better services to clients. As I have done in the past, I again call on the Minister of Labour to fully investigate problems at the Workers’ Compensation Board.
WCB PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
Mrs Marland: I was recently supplied with information relating to a publicity campaign conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Board in late January and early February to explain Bill 162. The cost and purpose of this campaign is outrageous, to say the very least. In five short weeks, the Ministry of Labour spent $1,721,567 on media advertising utilizing all available daily newspapers in the province, all weeklies, all ethnic newspapers, all available television stations and all available radio stations.
The minister said that the purpose of the campaign was "to inform board stakeholders and the public that major changes have been made to the Workers’ Compensation Board Act which could affect them, and to convey key thrusts of the legislation." The minister should be awarded a golden shovel for all his efforts. Communication tools included a guide to the bill, two separate information brochures, supermarket infoCentres, a poster, a 35-millimetre slide presentation, a telephone hotline, a video and numerous articles for special interest publications.
Here is a government which initially refused to hold province-wide public hearings on Bill 162 now making every effort to explain the bill well after it became law. Well done, Minister, and keep shovelling.
EASTER SEALS CAMPAIGN
Mr Ballinger: The slogan on the T-shirt I am wearing says, "This One’s For Whipper." On behalf of myself and the honourable member for York North, I rise to pay tribute to Whipper Billy Watson, who was a resident of the village of Sharon in my riding.
As many members of this House know, Whipper passed away on 4 February of this year while he and his wife were vacationing in Florida. Whipper was, and remains, an important figure in York region. His successful efforts substantially funded the therapeutic pool and CAT scanner, both of which are located at York County Hospital.
Turning his focus province-wide, his efforts on behalf of the March of Dimes and Easter Seals are well known. Whipper was a recipient of this province’s highest award, the Order of Ontario. A champion in the wrestling ring, Whipper also became a champion in our hearts.
This year’s 14th annual Persechini run/walkathon is being staged in honour and memory of Whipper Watson. There is no greater honour York region residents could bestow upon Whipper than to get out and work hard to raise funds for one of his most cherished causes, Easter Seals.
We in this Legislature can do our part by encouraging the member for York North, the Minister of Community and Social Services, to do well as he travels the 10-kilometre course on Sunday 27 May.
We have in the gallery today the sponsor and driving force behind the runlwalkathon, Joe Persechini, in the members’ gallery. I hope all members will join the member for York North and myself in paying tribute to Mr Persechini and Whipper Watson.
Mr Morin-Strom: Recognizing that each region of the province should solve its own waste problems, I am tabling a resolution today asking the government of Ontario to adopt a policy that no municipal or other garbage from southern Ontario should be shipped to any location in northern Ontario for treatment or disposal.
Southern Ontario municipalities must not be allowed to take an out of sight, out of mind approach to their garbage by shipping it to the north for disposal. Transporting garbage long distances is not only a waste of non-renewable energy supplies, but it also perpetuates the idea that we solve the garbage crisis by simply finding more places to put our trash.
The real solution is to create less garbage in the first place, in order to remove Canada from the dubious distinction of being the largest producer of garbage per person in the world. If the Liberal government really took waste reduction seriously, no municipality would even have to entertain the desperate idea of shipping its garbage hundreds of kilometres. Garbage reduction is best achieved by reducing the amount of unnecessary packaging of consumer products and reusing products such as pop bottles.
If the government does not get tough now on waste reduction, there will be no end to the steady stream of proposals for northern and rural dumping of big city garbage. The only way we are ever going to solve the garbage crisis is to stop looking for more places to put it. We have to stop wasting resources by creating garbage and moving it around the province. Time is running out; there is no time to waste.
SHELTERS FOR WOMEN
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues and it concerns the recent announcement that her government will allocate $2.2 million in 1990-91 to build at least nine new emergency shelters in Ontario for battered women. I think at this point it should be noted that this is the first time since 1986 that her government has promised to spend extra money to create new shelter space for battered women.
At any rate, the Orillia Women’s Advocacy Group has been pleading for funds to create a shelter since 1988. The Orillia Women’s Advocacy Group officially opened the doors of Green Haven, its office in Orillia, on 27 April. This office is currently used to provide a 24-hour hotline and to provide counselling for victims of abuse.
At the present time there is no emergency shelter for battered or abused women in Orillia. Now, more than ever, the people of Ontario are aware of the immediate need for safe havens for women who are trapped in abusive relationships. At the present time, abused women can turn to the Orillia Women’s Advocacy Group for crisis counselling, support in locating free legal services and guidance throughout the court process, information about applying for general welfare and family benefits and information about self-help groups for victims of wife assault.
The time has now come to fund this centre. The minister should do it now, sooner than later.
POLICE USE OF FIREARMS
Mr Curling: I rise today to express my sincere concern over the recent shooting incident in Scarborough involving 16-year-old Marlon Neal. I am troubled by the incident and hope and pray for speedy justice. As a citizen, as a member of the provincial Parliament and as a parent, I think it is incumbent on all of us, as leaders and representatives, to demonstrate leadership in our various capacities.
We need understanding from all concerned. It comes at a time when the government, for the first time in over 40 years. has introduced amendments to the Police Act, Bill 107, recognizing that policing is indeed a service. I appeal to all members of this House to make this bill a priority and ensure its passage in this session. I fully recognize that legislation alone will not change things overnight, but let us remember that with this law we would accomplish a major step forward.
As I said at the very outset, this, combined with our sense of tolerance and understanding on all fronts, will realize our goals of ensuring racial harmony in our country where freedom and justice reign.
BIOMEDICAL WASTE DISPOSAL
Mrs Grier: Two weeks ago the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues admitted that she had mailed out a lot of empty envelopes. The Ministry of Energy has the opposite problem. Last week it mailed me a cheque for $50,000. Alas, it was not made out to me. It was for the chemical and industrial division of Kilborn engineering company in my riding. I have delivered the cheque and was grateful for the opportunity to have, as they say on the government side, a photo op.
What is really important is what the $50,000 was for. It was part of the Ministry of Energy’s contribution to a feasibility study for an energy-from-waste co-generation hospital laundry system for northern Ontario. The study demonstrates that it is feasible to use biomedical waste from several hospitals to generate energy which can be used to run a laundry system. The study has now been submitted to the Ministry of Health with a request for approval and funding.
This proposal has a great deal of merit. Energy from waste is not one of my favourite programs, but incineration of biomedical waste does make sense. Obtaining energy by cogeneration is something I heartily endorse. Reducing the cost of hospital laundry facilities is beneficial to the environment as it encourages use of non-disposable items, and promoting industry in northern Ontario is something my party has always promoted.
I appreciate the support from the Ministry of Energy. Now that the proposal has entered the labyrinth of the Ministry of Health, is there any chance it will ever be seen again? I hope so. And if anyone wants to send me his or her cheque, I will be glad to deliver it.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Jackson: As a direct result of the Liberal government’s failure to plan for growth, 200,000 children are studying in 7,500 portables this year. Even though a crisis in school accommodation exists today, this government has put a cap on school building funds which will not be spent until 1993-94.
Now we have two clear examples that old habits die hard. The government has recently announced the Seaton and Harbourfront development proposals without consultation, let alone providing for the educational needs of children.
The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs did not consult with the Durham Board of Education before his 29 March Seaton press conference. The board estimates that $50 million will be needed to build 23 elementary and secondary schools if Seaton grows to the forecast population of 90,000 in 25 years. If the board’s needs are not considered, we will once again have new subdivisions with no schools.
Education was also overlooked in the announcement at Harbourfront. Currently more than 300 children who live on the waterfront are being bused to seven different schools. Toronto school board officials sent a report to Duncan Allan asking for 3.5 acres of land for a school. In return, the province has offered 1.5 acres to be shared with a community centre on land that the federal government owns and wishes to protect.
Unless the Liberals learn to consult with the educational community about the capital requirements, our children can look forward to a future of portables and busing in Ontario.
Mr Daigeler: Last week the Ottawa Citizen reported that the expected increase at emergency food centres has not materialized.
Judy Arnold, the co-ordinator of the Emergency Food and Clothing Centre on Bank Street, had this to say: "The emergency service providers met last week and the message was that most of us are stable or down a little bit and we certainly are prepared to give government credit."
The Gloucester Emergency Food Board is reporting a 25% drop in demand in April compared with March; the Parkdale Food Centre is reporting a decline of 23%; the Dalhousie Food Action Group is reporting a 12% drop in demand in April compared with April 1989; and the Caldwell Family Centre is reporting a 20% decline in demand during February, March and April of this year compared with the same months last year. Even the head of the Ottawa Food Bank said the demand from food centres -- which rely on the bank for some of their food -- is down.
These results are very impressive and exactly what the government had hoped for with its $415-million social assistance reforms last year. As the previous chairman of the Liberal caucus committee on social development, I am very pleased to note the success of these reforms and to congratulate the Premier and his cabinet on their commitment to social justice.
The Speaker: Just before I call the next order, I would like to inform the members that we have a special visitor in the lower west gallery, a gentleman who may be familiar to some, but I am sure he is very familiar with this chamber. He served here from 1943 to 1953, I think, and in that time was Leader of the Opposition. I would like you to join me in welcoming Ted Jolliffe.
Mr B. Rae: In view of the absence of the Premier and the Attorney General, I will have to stand down one question, but I do have a question for the Solicitor General.
After the shooting of Marlon Neal some two days ago, the question is still very much alive as to why it is that the government has not moved in those areas where it could move without requiring a change in the Criminal Code and blaming the Tories in Ottawa for not doing that.
I want to ask the minister why there have been no changes in the regulations with respect to two particular recommendations made by the task force over a year ago; one with respect to the use of force, and he knows there is a very specific regulation which the commission recommended be changed. He also knows that it was a recommendation of the commission that there should be a new disciplinary offence of racially prejudiced behaviour.
These are two particular instances where the government could have moved and could still move today if it decided that is what it wanted to do. Why has the government not moved in these two areas?
Hon Mr Offer: I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition brings up a very important point and talks of two very important issues. But I think it just brings to the floor the understanding, of course, that there are many more issues that must be addressed. The government has addressed many of those issues in a comprehensive fashion.
We believe there is the necessity for a new Police Services Act in this province. As the honourable Leader of the Opposition will know, the last Police Act was passed in 1949. There is no one who will deny that the province of 1990 is much different from that of 1949 and that we require a new Police Services Act -- a comprehensive approach to policing in the province; in fact, what is a constitution of policing -- which has in fact been introduced, not only to be introduced but also to be passed so that many of these particular issues will be addressed.
Mr B. Rae: The minister knows full well that there is in place now a Police Act. He knows full well that there is a regulation -- regulation 790, section 9 and section 9(a) -- dated August 1989, issued under the regulations of the province of Ontario. He knows full well that these are the guidelines which are now in force for the police officers of this province. He also knows that over a year ago a commission established by his government said these regulations were not appropriate for the 1990s and needed to be changed and clarified so that the question of when a police officer should even draw his gun would be clearer to everyone, especially to the police.
The minister had that recommendation over a year ago. It deals with regulations which the minister could have introduced over a year ago without even coming to this House for approval. Why would he not have changed the regulation over a year ago, when he had the power and the authority and the ability to do so? Why not?
Hon Mr Offer: In dealing with the whole question of the use of force, I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition will recognize not only that there is that part of the regulation under the current Police Act but that there is a difficulty which falls under section 25, subsection 4, of the Canadian Criminal Code.
We recognize that difficulty. We have addressed that difficulty by having the Attorney General of this province petition the federal government for a change in the Criminal Code so that there can be a consistency and so that police officers will have an understanding in dealing with the whole question of use of force.
We are addressing not only the use of force issue through a change in the Criminal Code and the petitioning for a change under section 25, subsection 4, but also in the training and retraining of officers in the use of firearms. Those are two areas dealing with firearms which we have not only recognized but have in fact addressed.
Mr B. Rae: The Premier of the province gives platitudes. He has been talking platitudes for over two years, not providing the leadership that is required. The government writes a letter to Ottawa and says, "We would like you to move on the Criminal Code," and the government is not even prepared to amend its own regulations when it comes to the use of force. The minister’s government has no credibility on this issue; none at all.
Why would the minister think Ottawa would take him seriously with respect to changing the Criminal Code on the question of the use of force when he has not even changed his own regulations when it is in his power exclusively -- not ours, not the Tory party’s; his exclusively -- to deal with this question of the use of force? That is the minister’s responsibility, and he has yet to move in an area where he has the power to do so.
Hon Mr Offer: The Leader of the Opposition talks about platitudes and I talk about action. We had a task force report on race relations and policing, a task force which travelled the province, listening to people’s concerns about the relationship between the police officers and the communities. That particular report was prepared, and it uncovered very important areas. We have addressed those areas. We agree with the direction of the report. We have introduced a new Police Services Act which addresses many of those concerns.
We have also talked about the issue of training and retraining. We are currently developing new course content in the training and retraining of police officers as well as how those areas are to be delivered, and we are also continuing on with public forums across this province where police representatives and where members of the community discuss matters of concern, what they are and how they can be addressed.
These three areas, I respectfully suggest, are areas of action which we are continuing --
The Speaker: Order. Do you still wish to stand down the question? New question, the member for Parry Sound.
Mr Eves: I might ask that we stand down both our leader’s questions because neither the Premier nor the Attorney General, to whom they are to be directed, is here at this time.
The Speaker: Is there agreement to have the two stood down?
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware that on Monday a provincial court judge decided not to prosecute the Minister of Health and her officials on charges stemming from the fatal crash of an air ambulance in the Windsor area. The minister might remember that three people -- the pilot, an attendant and a passenger -- were killed on 24 June 1989 when the air ambulance crashed off Pelee Island into Lake Erie.
The attendant, Russ Ransom, had safety concerns but could not refuse unsafe work even if he wanted to. The Occupational Health and Safety Act does not allow care givers to refuse unsafe work if, in the language of the act, "circumstances are such that the life, health or safety of another person or the public may be in imminent jeopardy." The irony in last June’s air crash is that the safety of the worker and of members of the public was put at risk.
Given the judge’s decision -- the courts are no help to the workers -- is it not even more obvious to the minister that public sector workers need the right to refuse unsafe work?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think all of us recognize there is the need to balance the need for our employees, particularly those who are involved in public safety, to protect the public but at the same time not to unnecessarily put themselves at risk. During the debate on Bill 208. it was one of the issues that I think was perhaps most widely brought to the committee. It is an area that we continue to look at as to how we balance those two responsibilities.
I will tell the member that we are looking at opportunities for helping our employees to ensure that they are not unnecessarily put at risk at the same time as we ensure that the public safety is looked after in policing, health, corrections and fire matters. I want to assure the members that we are looking at opportunities for improving that element of ensuring that our workers are not put unnecessarily at risk and, as we move forward with the debate on Bill 208, I hope we will have some opportunity to debate that further.
Mr Mackenzie: The only refusal in this situation is that of the Liberal government. Even in its proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, public sector workers would still not have the right to refuse; they are exempted under the act. Can the minister assure this House and the people of Ontario that these public sector workers will have the right to protect themselves and the public by refusing what is obviously unsafe work when they can recognize the situation?
Hon Mr Phillips: Just to clarify one small point the member made, our public sector workers do have the right to refuse to do unsafe work, with several exceptions as opposed to all of them. Just to clarify that, the exceptions are correctional officers and individuals involved in fire protection and police protection.
Having said all that in terms of clarification, I want to assure the House that during the debate on Bill 208 it was one of those issues that was raised consistently at the committee. During the committee debates we made several amendments, as the member is aware, responding to the delegations that came to the committee.
This is one area we continue to look at, whether there are opportunities for us to improve for our public sector workers their own safety and their right to refuse to do unnecessarily dangerous work at the same time as we protect the public’s interest. I want to assure the House, as I said earlier, that we are looking at that opportunity. As we move forward on Bill 208, it is my hope that we will be able to find some way of balancing those two key needs.
The Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition may wish to ask his first question to the Premier.
Mr B. Rae: I understand that the Attorney General is coming. I just want to wait until he comes.
Mr Eves: I have a question for the Premier. He is quoted in the media today as saying that he needs the co-operation of the Conservative Party and New Democrats to help get the Police Services Act through. As he is undoubtedly aware -- I see he is talking to his House leader -- I have sent his House leader a letter today. Being more than co-operative, we are prepared to deal with second reading of Bill 107 in this Legislature this afternoon and to send the bill out for public hearings to the standing committee on administration of justice through the month of June, so that this important piece of legislation can be enacted before the House rises for the summer recess. Will the Premier acquiesce to that request we have made today?
Hon Mr Peterson: I thank the honourable member for his very constructive suggestion, and I think indeed therein are the seeds of some very constructive action.
The House leader had just shown me the member’s letter prior to the member standing on his feet to address the question to me. I responded to the House leader that I think we should sit down immediately with the House leaders and try to work the matter out.
As members know, there is a bill in the House at the present time. I think we can work around this. We can certainly sit tonight. I think that would be a very fine gesture on the part of the Conservative members and the opposition to deal with this matter. I think with any luck we may be able to get, say, second reading through by tomorrow. We are happy to work with members in that regard and get it into a committee next week.
Mr Eves: The Premier knows very well that there is no need for the Legislature to sit tonight or any other night, It is his government’s prerogative to call any piece of legislation it wants at any time it wants.
I would just like to take the Premier through a short chronology of events surrounding Bill 107. In April 1986 the Solicitor General, the member for Kingston and The Islands, said a new police act would be in the Legislature by June 1986.
In August 1988 Lester Donaldson died. I introduced a private member’s resolution in October 1988 asking the Premier to refer this matter to the standing committee on administration of justice then. Wade Lawson was shot in December 1988. The Premier finally got around to appointing a task force after Lawson’s death. The task force reported in April 1989.
The then Solicitor General, the member for London South, said the new act would be in the House by May 1989. The new act was introduced by the current Solicitor General on 20 December 1989, just before we rose for the winter break. Nothing has happened since then.
Marlon Neal was shot. Now the Premier wants to do it all of a sudden. Where has he been since 1986?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend would like to turn this into a partisan issue and he has every right to do that. My honourable friend stands in outrage in this House. He is aware of the filibuster that has gone on in this House for the past 28 days. I say to him that the police act is a significant piece of legislation, as my honourable friend would be aware; I think it makes the first major amendments in some 50 years.
I welcome the member’s invitation to deal with this expeditiously. I am sure, given the thoughtful, conciliatory person he is, that we can work out a way among the House leaders to deal with that bill expeditiously and accomplish a lot of our other work at the same time.
Mr Eves: We have made an offer. He can do his committee of the whole on Bill 68 tomorrow. He can get third reading the day the House comes back on 28 May. He can get his bill then. Is providing billions of dollars to insurance companies by this Friday more important to the Premier than dealing with this piece of legislation in this House this afternoon? Yes or no.
Hon Mr Peterson: Let me tell the honourable member how much I admire his new-found conscience, but I know, with his conciliatory nature, we can deal with this matter. We accept his offer to sit this afternoon and this evening, and we can accomplish both bills. We appreciate his help in the matter.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister is very much aware of the violence in our schools that we are all concerned about. We admit that we have an increased amount of tragedies and incidents in the last few years. Principals and teachers are being forced to spend their time consulting with these young people and trying to reach out to their families in the interest of prevention and sometimes treatment, for which they do not have the facilities or the support.
It is obvious at the same time that other young people are missing out on quality education because some of our trained professionals are spending their time with some of the more difficult young people to serve. Many of these children in fact cannot be managed in our behavioural classes and they are referred to children’s mental health centres, for which they are put on to waiting lists.
My question is this: With all the tragedy we are watching in society today, with the understanding we have about prevention and how it works, why are we allowing these long waiting lists to continue on with no direct action on behalf of the government at this point in time?
Hon Mr Beer: I am glad to have the opportunity to reassure the honourable member that indeed we are taking a number of specific steps which I think are going to have an impact on those waiting lists.
The honourable member would be interested to know that at the meeting I had with the Ontario executive of the children’s mental health centres, we agreed upon a number of initiatives that we were going to undertake jointly; some of those dealt with the wage problems within the sector. As the honourable member knows, we have increased the base funding to 5.5% and we have also set out $58 million, some of which will be going to salaries in that sector.
Particularly important in terms of the waiting list, I have taken on within my own ministry an individual who is working directly with centres, looking at the lists themselves and to what extent help is available within the community to help those young people through other centres. We are looking, in addition, at the professionals who are working in the children’s mental health centres, together with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, around the specific problem of maintaining key professionals within that sector.
All of this is going forward in the context of the report which I will be receiving next month on the whole children’s services sector. I have told the children’s mental health executive that once I receive that report, I will be meeting with it to see what other steps we can take to ensure that we have the care needed for our young people.
Mrs Cunningham: I am very much aware of the work that is being done by an individual travelling across Ontario. I think I also feel fairly confident, as do school boards, that the referrals they are making to the children’s mental health centres are of ultimate concern to them and of great priority. Many of these parents have to be talked into dealing with the referral itself, sometimes for six months and up to two years, before they will even seek the help.
When this list is made available, I am confident that many of these young people should be dealt with immediately. Will the minister be reporting back to this House what percentage of the list deals with young people in school systems that will be dealt with immediately and how he is going to do it by the end of June?
Hon Mr Beer: I would like to add as well that I am specifically aware of the problems that school boards are facing. I have talked with a number of members of the board, senior officials, about what they are seeing within the school system, and in a couple of areas we are working very co-operatively in terms of community and social services with those boards to try to ensure that the care is there when required.
I can give a commitment to the honourable member that as I have the information, I will be more than happy to make that available to her and to the House. I want to assure her that we take this whole area as one of a very prime concern and initiative where we really have to move to ensure that the young people who need care get it.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The minister knows of my keen interest in the future of our college system and whether our community colleges effectively prepare our young people for the business world of tomorrow.
In this regard, I am wondering about a proposal by the committee of parliamentary assistants for small business that individuals from business and industry be recruited to teach at the various levels of schooling. I understand that this idea is already being implemented by some colleges. Can the minister report on how widespread this practice is and whether it is achieving its purpose of bringing together the business and education sectors?
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my honourable friend for the question. He is right that it is a well-established practice within the college community that a number of teachers, particularly in the business and commerce area, are recruited directly from the world of business and commerce. As the college system looks to a substantial renewal of its professoriate over the next decade, I expect that this trend will in fact accelerate.
Mr Daigeler: Further to the point of involving business in training, I read with great dismay, I must say, in the 25 April edition of the Financial Post that 75% of Canadian employers provide no formal training at all for employees. There is a gaping discrepancy between heavy investment in equipment and machinery by industry and its failure to invest in education, training and skills. Can the minister bring us up to date on the government’s efforts to have business assume its responsibility for training?
Hon Mr Conway: As the member will know, the Premier’s Council on technology has been examining a number of proposals over the last number of months. We are looking forward, I say to my friend the member for Nepean, to a report from the council in the very near future that will provide a range of policy options.
I can tell my friend that as we look to the future, there is no question that the business community is going to have to increase its investment, and in some cases it is going to have to increase its investment substantially, particularly in terms of long-term training. The government is very anxious to work with business and with labour to ensure that the human resource needs of the Ontario economy are well and fully met over the next number of years.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Citizenship. I am sure the minister will be aware that the Alliance for Employment Equity, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Ontario Visible Minority Women’s Coalition and the Congress of Black Women of Canada, Ontario Region have all had not just one or two but several meetings with members of his cabinet, with his cabinet colleagues over several years. Indeed, they are still working on a five-year-old promise from the Liberal Party of Ontario that there will be legislation dealing with employment equity in the private sector and in the public sector.
These groups are increasingly frustrated because, while they are quite happy to attend meetings, they have been led to believe that these meetings will be followed by an actual piece of legislation from this government. I wonder whether the minister can tell us where this piece of legislation is. Are we going to see it before the end of this session?
The Speaker: Order. We are glad to have visitors. However, the standing orders say that visitors must not participate in any way or demonstrate in any way. Otherwise, they will have to leave.
Hon Mr Wong: I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for that very important question. The government is quite aware that there are many groups, many people who are visible minorities, people with disabilities, women or aboriginal people who have been disadvantaged over the years and are seeking access and equity in terms of hiring and promotion.
I wish to assure the honourable member and the members of the House that this is one of the priorities that we have been working on. I can assure the honourable member that in due course -- we are working as expeditiously as possible -- I hope to be able to announce employment equity initiatives that will cover the broader public sector and the private sector for Ontario.
Mr B. Rae: "In due course" is not good enough, and the minister surely knows that by now. He will know that, out of the population in Ontario, half the people who are disabled make less than $10,000 a year. He will know that the unemployment rate for some groups of disabled is as high as 60% and 70%. He knows that.
Now these groups, native people, disabled people, people of colour from all over the province, have been told. They have been told by the Attorney General, they have been told by the minister’s predecessor, they have been told by the Premier that something is coming. They were told in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989, and now the minister is telling them in 1990 that, in due course, something will come.
Why is the minister making these people wait, the most vulnerable citizens of this province? Why does the minister not have a program in place and legislation in place before the end of this session?
Hon Mr Wong: I wish to remind the honourable member that in order to come up with the most effective employment equity initiative for the broader public sector and the private sector of the province, the government, my predecessor and myself, engaged in consultation with 100 or more of the specific groups that were particularly interested in making sure that these initiatives would be done effectively.
I wish to assure the honourable member and the House that those consultations have been completed, that I have personally been taking the implementation proposals through the cabinet process with my various cabinet colleagues. So when I say "in due process," I am being very specific with the honourable member in letting him know that progress is being made.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The minister will be aware that there is a severe and chronic shortage of nurses in Ontario, especially intensive care nurses. He will also be familiar with a Toronto Star article recently which reported on staff vacancy rates in Toronto of 9.7%, some 1,274 positions that are left wanting for nursing positions.
Is the minister aware that the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute nursing program, its new entry program, has been cut from 80 placements down to 35 placements as a direct result of Liberal policies for funding? Why is it that a post-secondary institution in Ontario is reducing by over half the new entrance enrolments to a nursing program at a time of severe shortage for intensive care nurses in Ontario?
Hon Mr Conway: The honourable member will know that this government’s support of our post-secondary institutions, and particularly its support of a number of the health science programs, has been very good. Certainly it is the responsibility of individual universities, Ryerson or colleges to manage their own budgets in a way that their boards determine both appropriate and desirable.
I am not going to debate, on the floor of this assembly, the particulars of management decisions taken by any particular one of our post-secondary institutions. I certainly do not share the honourable member’s assessment of the overall picture and I repeat that, in respect of overall support and particularly in the area of health sciences education, in the main, the government’s support has been very good indeed.
Mr Jackson: I am not asking the minister to debate this issue. I am asking him to participate in some human resource planning that is critical to the health needs of the citizens of the province.
Just this week in this House the case was brought to the minister’s attention of an Ajax baby who could not be admitted to a fully equipped neonatal centre in Toronto because there were no additional trained intensive care nurses available. In this city, at the Hospital for Sick Children, 242 children have had their heart operations postponed because of a lack of intensive care nurses.
The minister himself, along with the Minister of Health, sits on the planning and priorities committee of cabinet specifically with the responsibility of planning human resources in this province. So I do not ask him to debate; I ask him to participate. Why is the minister not working directly with the Minister of Health to ensure that there are sufficient spaces in our educational institutions to educate enough intensive care nurses to meet the needs in this province?
Hon Mr Conway: I can tell my honourable friend that I am working very closely with my colleague the Minister of Health in these and other matters. Since taking office, the number of nursing students in both our community college and our university programs has increased very considerably. In fact, if the honourable member wants, I am more than willing to share with him the particular nature of those increases. But I repeat that over the last number of years the enrolments in both the college and the university nursing programs have increased, and increased significantly.
POLICE COMMISSION NOMINATION
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Attorney General. This is the first opportunity I have had to ask the Attorney General questions arising from the letter that he wrote to the Solicitor General with respect to the nomination of Mr DelZotto to the Ontario Police Commission.
In this House on 26 June -- the Attorney General will no doubt recall because he was, I believe, in the House -- the Premier, sitting just two seats down from him and referring to the nomination of Mr DelZotto, said, "The Attorney General...was not in favour of the situation and neither was I." On June 27 the Premier said, "nor was there any recommendation from the Attorney General on that matter....The only record we have of that is a letter from Mrs Starr to the Attorney General."
I want to ask the Attorney General very directly, at the time the Premier made those comments, was the Attorney General aware of the letter he had signed which said, "I trust that you will give this nomination every consideration when a position becomes vacant"?
Hon Mr Scott: I think the answer to the question is no. The honourable member will recall that, when the matter was raised in the House over a year ago, it was disclosed that I had received a request from the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada to support the recommendation of Mr DelZotto. It was disclosed in the House that I had received that letter. I did not recall that I had written the letter to the member for Kingston and The Islands.
I should explain to the honourable member that the word "recommendation" is not used in the letter at all. I receive, over the course of a year, hundreds of letters from organizations like the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and members of the NDP that persons be recommended for various positions. If they --
Hon Mr Scott: The member for Welland-Thorold should not forget his letters. If those letters come to me when they should more appropriately go to another minister who is responsible for the appointment, I send them on. The tone of that letter -- which I have now seen, and there are probably dozens of a similar type -- was that fair consideration should be given to the application.
I would make the same request of a fellow minister in respect of an appointment proposed by the National Action Committee for the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues or when a person who has been refused a workers’ compensation application asks me to write to the chairman of the board: that every consideration be given to the request. That is what I did in this case.
Mr B. Rae: There are letters and there are letters. The concern I have is that with respect to the appointment of Mr DelZotto, the Premier stated in the House last year when we questioned him over a number of days and when the Premier was questioned outside -- indeed when the Attorney General was questioned -- that he was never in favour of the application and that indeed, if I can quote again from what the Premier said, "The Attorney General...was not in favour of the situation and neither was I."
A commonsense approach to this would lead one to ask, if the Attorney General was not in favour of the nomination of Mr DelZotto to the Ontario Police Commission, why did he not reflect that view at that time when writing to his cabinet colleague the Solicitor General, who was responsible for the appointment? If he was not in favour of the appointment and he did not think it was a good idea or, to use the words he used last year, he did not "think it was appropriate in all the circumstances," why would he not have said that in his letter? In fact, why would he have said what could fairly be described as something quite different?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will recall that when I received the letter, which is a letter that should have been sent to the Solicitor General, who recommends that appointment in the primary case, I transmitted it on in the letter that is described. I want to tell the honourable member that what we said in the House is accurate, that in the following week I considered the matter, was briefed about it by my staff and I attended on the Premier on 13 May, I believe to be the date, and recommended that no consideration should be given to the appointment of Mr DelZotto to this particular position. The Premier heard me out. That represented his view, he accepted my recommendation and the appointment was not proceeded with.
Mr B. Rae: The fact that the appointment was not proceeded with is obviously a matter of record. We all know that. The issue is, it is not for a lack of an effort by Mrs Starr and it is not because of anything which is on paper. The only piece of paper that we have in addition to the letter from Mrs Starr, I say with great respect to the Attorney General and to the Premier -- different from what they told us last year and I accept the answer --
Hon Mr Scott: No, no, no.
Mr B. Rae: Either way, a letter is a letter. A letter is there. We were told there was one letter. There are two letters on file -- not just one; there are two. There is a second letter on file, the letter from the Attorney General; it has his signature on it. He could not remember that letter last year; this year he remembers the letter. I accept that explanation.
The question that I have for the Attorney General is quite simple. I would like to ask him again whether he is saying, when he said, "I trust that you will give this nomination every consideration when a position becomes vacant," that on second thought and after receiving other information or after discussing it with other people, he then decided to change his mind and ask that the nomination not be given every consideration when a position becomes vacant, which is the position he took on paper?
Hon Mr Scott: Making bricks out of straw is a very difficult job, but it is what opposition leaders have to do. I am prepared to justify to this House or anywhere else appointments that the government has made. But when I recommended in a meeting on 13 May against an appointment and the appointment was not made, I do not think we should be treated as if in fact it was made, which is what the opposition leader wants to do. But, as I say, making bricks out of straw is the member opposite’s job.
The Speaker: The member for Leeds-Grenville. Is this a leadoff question?
Mr Runciman: Yes, it is, Mr Speaker, to the Attorney General, and what he suggests is straw. I think it is important, in respect to the Attorney General’s response to the initial question from the Leader of the Opposition when he responded that he was not aware of this other letter, that he had signed this letter and sent this letter.
I find that rather curious with respect to the fact that he is telling us today he has specific dates of meeting with the Premier, discussing this issue with the Premier and making a recommendation against the appointment of Mr DelZotto. This was a significant issue in this Legislature, and I am wondering if the minister could expand upon the reason why he was at that point in time unaware of the letter that went out under his signature.
Hon Mr Scott: I have made inquiries, and the honourable member will be interested to know that I receive, on average, 150 letters a day. Many of them are letters from national or provincial organizations, often individuals requesting that so-and-so be nominated to a particular position in the government. They come from opposition leaders and from members of the opposition as well as our own caucus. In this case it came from the Toronto branch of a national organization.
We acknowledge the letter and if it does not relate to an appointment within the purview of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we pass it on to the appropriate minister and ask that it be fairly considered. That is what we did within two days. I do not recall seeing the letter and that, frankly, is not a matter of surprise because hundreds of them are sent every year as a result of the questions that come to us -- 150 a day.
However, when we received the letter, in the succeeding week we gave serious consideration to the proposal and I decided that it was my responsibility to recommend against the nomination that the National Council of Jewish Women had made. I arranged an appointment with the Premier and I did that. We recommended against the appointment -- "recommend," a word that is not in the letter -- and that recommendation was agreed to by the Premier and accepted.
Mr Runciman: I think it is passing strange we have the Premier saying clearly on the record in Hansard that the only record we have of that is a letter in respect to a recommendation; the only record we have is a letter from Mrs Starr to the Attorney General. We are talking about an issue where we have the Premier of the province getting up and indicating to the Legislature that we only have a letter from Mrs Starr and then when this is revealed to the public, we find a three-day turnaround. Is the Attorney General suggesting that every request he gets receives that same kind of attention? It has a three-day turnaround from receipt of the letter from Mrs Starr and a letter going to the member for Kingston and The Islands, the then Solicitor General, supporting that recommendation. Is that the normal course of events in the minister’s office?
Hon Mr Scott: I could not dare pretend in the presence of my friends and colleagues in all parties and in the presence of the honourable member for Orangeville that a three-day turnaround is my standard. But I want to say that a three-day turnaround is my standard when the recommendation comes to the wrong minister, because then I send it on to the appropriate minister, which was in fact what was done in this case.
I just want to add something to the honourable member’s question. If the government had made this appointment, it would be a legitimate question to say to me, "The Attorney General may be responsible that this appointment has been made." But this is an appointment that was never made, and the Premier and I have explained the circumstances in which it was never made. We will stand behind appointments that we have made. It is surely not fair to ask us to answer for appointments that we refused to make and recommended against. This is Alice in Wonderland.
The Speaker: Order. Would anyone want to view it from here?
Mr Runciman: The Attorney General talks about Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps he should stop telling this House fairy tales, because who is going to buy what he is telling us? We are not talking about the fact that Mr DelZotto did not get the appointment; we are all much aware of that. What we are talking about is the integrity of the Attorney General. We are talking about the Premier getting up in this House and saying that the only letter in respect of support of this was from Mrs Starr.
James Dubro spoke to the then Solicitor General in May in respect to this appointment and was told by him that he was getting pressure from the Attorney General’s office. We are talking about the credibility of the Attorney General in respect to this, or the credibility of the government. Certainly when the heat fell in respect to Patti Starr, they all backed away from it quickly.
We want to know why the Attorney General did not reveal to the House last June that he wrote this letter in support of that recommendation.
Hon Mr Scott: It is important to recognize that I revealed to the House that I had received a letter from the National Council of Jewish Women and that we had made a recommendation on 13 May to the Premier, which we did. I have told the Leader of the Opposition that I had forgotten that we had sent that letter. It is a transmittal letter that was sent in hundreds of cases. I am not backing away from it; I am simply saying it does not recommend anybody for anything. What it does is it asks that an applicant proposed by the National Council of Jewish Women be given every consideration.
As I said, if the Leeds and Grenville association of rural municipalities wrote in asking if we would consider Mr So-and-So for the tile drainage board -- I do not appoint members to the tile drainage board, yet -- I would immediately write a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Food and say, "I have received this request; would you give it every consideration?" just as when someone who is having trouble with the Workers’ Compensation Board writes in and says he has not been able to get a hearing and I write to the board and say, "I have received this letter; will you give it every consideration?" That is what I did in this case. We then reviewed the matter --
Mr Sterling: Why do you bother?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member says, "Why do we bother?" If I did not respond to his letters in that way, he would be offended.
Mr Sterling: Why do you bother if they don’t mean anything? They don’t mean anything.
The Speaker: Order. Just so the members are aware, we are back to the usual routine of rotation.
RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION
Mr Faubert: My question is of the Minister of Housing. Tenants of Brimell Court, which is a rental townhouse complex in my riding, are quite concerned about the action of their landlord. This is a continuing action of his because for as yet unstated reasons and, I think, reasons we can only guess at, when tenants vacate a unit, it is boarded up and left vacant. In essence, a very cohesive community is being slowly closed down, one unit at a time.
When the Rental Housing Protection Act was passed in 1986, it appeared to me, as well as to others in their interpretation, that the incentives for a landlord to leave a unit vacant in the hope of and to facilitate future rezoning for redevelopment was removed from that act. Can the minister explain how the Rental Housing Protection Act will effectively curtail the ability of the landlord to redevelop this site, even if all the units were to become vacant?
Hon Mr Sweeney: There is nothing in our legislation that requires a landlord to rerent a unit. He or she can choose to leave it empty. But the legislation with respect to rental housing protection is very clear that no action may be taken to convert rental units, whether they are occupied or whether they are vacant, into anything else. No action may be taken to demolish a rental unit, whether it is occupied or not. That action can only be taken with the approval of the local municipal council, and it would be on the basis that there were structural faults or that certain maintenance would be required that could not be done while the unit is vacant.
Mr Faubert: I am sure that response will provide some assurances to the tenants. But there have been numerous property standard violations on this property over the years which have generally gone unheeded.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Faubert: They have been unheeded by the landlord in spite of numerous orders to comply issued by the city of Scarborough. Can the minister advise the House --
Hon Mr Sweeney: I cannot hear what he is saying.
The Speaker: Neither can I. I cannot hear a thing other than confusion. Let us start all over again and remember standing order 20(b).
Mr Faubert: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am glad to see that the opposition has no interest in the tenants of this province.
The Speaker: Order. I asked the member for a supplementary. Will he place it?
Mr Faubert: Could the minister advise how future rent increases could be stayed by the legislation or even forfeited if property standard violation orders are not complied with?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Clearly, when the local municipality orders that certain maintenance work be done and it is not done, we have the Residential Rental Standards Board within the legislation to deal with that. As a matter of fact, in this particular situation an order has been extended as of 1 May of this year requiring those maintenance orders to be complied with, and during the period of time from 1 May to 30 May. any rent increases would be suspended. If the work is not completed as of 31 May, then not only is the rent increase suspended but it is forfeited until the work is done. Finally, there is a provision to go directly to the court, which would result not only in suspension or forfeiture but actually in a decrease in the rent. So there are several legal mechanisms to deal with this situation and they are in play right at the present time.
Mr Farnan: I have a question for the Minister of Health. In the Speaker’s gallery today are Chris and Jim Remnant of Cambridge and their eight-year-old daughter Lindsay. Lindsay suffers from a condition called syringomyelia, a condition related to spina bifida.
The magnetic resonance imaging treatment that Lindsay requires has an outpatient waiting list of up to eight months, and Dr Hoffman, chief of neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children, is of the opinion that if Lindsay does not get the treatment she requires when she requires it, she will be permanently paralysed, meaning she would become a quadriplegic.
How can the government justify a system where patients are hospitalized at Sick Children’s hospital at a cost of $790 a bed per day for up to three weeks as they await MRI treatment, where access to treatment is achieved only by bumping another patient down the waiting list and where families like the Remnants are sometimes forced to travel to Buffalo for treatment for their daughter?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am not familiar with the specific case the member raises. I would be pleased to look into it and to see what alternatives might be available so that the family can have the choices and information made available to them.
Mr Farnan: Perhaps I can help the minister. The ministry has approved five new MRI units. However, a budget of $200,000 per hospital for the operation of these machines is inadequate. In effect, this amount will only cover the cost of running the machines one day a week.
It is critical in the treatment of this condition that the MRI be available without delay, otherwise children like Lindsay may lose the physical skills they still have available to them. Will the minister give a commitment to this House that she will fully fund the operation of the MRI unit proposed at the Hospital for Sick Children and reassess and re-evaluate the funding for MRI services in the other approved hospitals?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member is referring to the huge expansion of magnetic resonance imaging capability in this province. I want him to know that in fact Ontario is in the forefront in making sure that we review the effectiveness of new technologies. When it is proven effective, then we are looking at the dissemination of that technology in a rational way.
We have approved magnetic resonance imaging for all the health science centres in this province and the ministry is at the present time working with those health science centres which will be establishing new magnetic resonance imaging machines and services, including the one at Sick Children’s Hospital to make sure it is implemented in a way which is appropriate.
POLICE COMMISSION NOMINATION
Mr Runciman: I have a question for the Premier related to the matter we were just discussing with the Attorney General earlier this afternoon. He indicated to the media at some point earlier this week that he was not going to pursue this matter further in respect of following it up. I think that was the general intent of his comments, at least as they were reported in the media.
We contacted people at the Globe and Mail today to ask them for a copy of the letter and they indicated they were not going to make it available to us; they were not going to make it available to anyone. They indicated they had had a call from the Office of the Premier asking for a copy of that letter.
I am just wondering if the Premier would explain to the House why his office would be asking for a copy of that letter.
Hon Mr Peterson: It may have been that somebody called for it, because we have not seen the letter. My friend the Attorney General tells me he has not seen the letter, but we read about it in the newspapers. That is where we found out about it.
Mr Runciman: This gets curiouser and curiouser. We are talking about the Premier not having seen this letter and the Attorney General not having seen this letter. That makes one wonder, where are the files?
This is a very controversial issue. This has been a very controversial issue and we are being told that no one has a copy of this letter other than the Globe and Mail. I think we require in this assembly a much fuller explanation in respect to where this letter came from. Why is there no copy of it in the files? I think that is a very important ingredient of this. Will the Premier try to respond?
Hon Mr Peterson: Mr Speaker, my friend is really reaching here, and I understand. Believe me, I understand political desperation. I do. He has my utmost sympathy. I read about the letter in the newspaper. Obviously, it was not in my files. If it were in anybody’s files, it would be in the then Solicitor General’s files. I was not aware of it. The Attorney General has told the member his sense of the situation. If it exists, it exists. Now maybe the member should file a freedom-of-information on the Globe and Mail. That is what he should do, and find out if they are telling the whole story there.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Somebody down there is going to brown envelope that letter and we are all going to have a look at it.
Ms Poole: My question is for the Minister of Housing. I have had a number of calls from constituents this week who are deeply concerned that the new Conservative leader, the member for Nipissing, has called for the end of rent control protections.
Hon Mr Bradley: What’s that? Say that again.
The Speaker: Order.
Ms Poole: My constituents would like the reassurance of this government that we do not intend to end rent --
The Speaker: Order. I did not hear the question. Did the minister hear the question or not?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I believe, and the honourable member can corroborate if I am correct, she asked, "Does this government have any intention of eliminating the rent review process in Ontario?" Was that the question? I think it was.
As my colleagues have suggested, I think my answer might appeal to others in the opposition as well. Let me say that this government has no intention of reducing protection for tenants. As a matter of fact, I think the actions of this government clearly demonstrate that, because it was this government that expanded rent review protection to cover all buildings built after 1976. It was this government that brought in the Rental Housing Protection Act to avoid demolition of rental accommodations. It was this government that brought in the regulations with respect to unnecessary repairs. It was this government that extended rental review protection to roomers, and the list could go on and on.
I would suggest to my colleague that the actions of this government much more clearly answer the question that she has asked.
The Speaker: Supplementary.
Hon Mr Bradley: There has to be a supplementary.
An hon member: What did Mike do now?
Ms Poole: The minister has made it clear that this government intends to continue our strong protections for tenants. In view of that, I have no supplementary.
AIR QUALITY LEGISLATION
Mrs Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. My leader asked the Minister of the Environment about Countdown Acid Rain last week and I do not wish to hear from him about that. What I would like to hear from him is, what else is he going to do about air pollution and why, it being now two and a half years since he announced a revision of regulation 308 which controls air pollution across the province, has no action been taken to update a regulation which he said was outdated and badly in need of review?
Hon Mr Bradley: All kinds of good things are happening, if the member would only observe carefully. For instance, we were the only jurisdiction in Canada last year to mandate that low-smog gas must be used in the vehicles in Ontario. That resulted, for instance, in about a 10% reduction of the smog which normally would have been expected in this province. I am sure that other provinces will do the same thing.
The member will know, of course, that we banned apartment incinerators in this province, which were causing a great problem, particularly in the urban areas of this province. That has resulted in improvement. She will know that through the leadership of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, all of Canada will now be having the California standards for vehicle emissions for cars that are being operated in this country on the same schedule as California. She will know that our ministry officials visit a large number of industrial operations right across Ontario. There is an upgrading of all those. She will know that we require the best available technology for --
The Speaker: Thank you. If she knows that, there is no point in telling her.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
INSURANCE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
The Acting Chair (Mr Polsinelli): We are considering Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance. As of yesterday’s session, we stopped at subsection 1(5). I would remind all members that the vote on all the divisions and all the amendments will be taken today at 5:30, according to the agreement of this House during yesterday’s session. It was a friendly agreement. The motion called for 5:45, and the House agreed that the vote would be taken at 5:30 today.
The Acting Chair: Are there any further comments on subsection 1(5)?
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, the minister is not here again today. The reason why -- and you were here on Monday -- I am concerned is because the poor member for Guelph did his very best, but disarmed as he was, and that is to say, without armaments, without information, without data, without documentation, he was beside himself as to how he was going to respond to some of the pithy questions put to him by my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale and indeed the Tory critic and myself. If I may at the onset, in view of the fact that we are still at section 1 and there were a number of issues raised to which the poor member for Guelph had no response, among them was a whole lot of questioning about the budgeting for the commission, salaries to be paid --
The Acting Chair: Order. I would like to remind the members that we are dealing with subsection 1(5). As I read subsection 1(5), it deals with the definition of "superintendent." All the items up to that point have been debated, and I would request that members of the House confine their remarks to the section under discussion.
Mr Kormos: If I may, Mr Chairman, you are almost correct, but in fact we had closed off the last day by referring back to subsection 1(3) and various definitions, and consideration of things like commission surcharges, fees, etc.
The Acting Chair: Order. I was in the chair when I asked all the members of the House whether all the items up to subsection 1(5) had been discussed. No one in the House had any further comments up to subsection 5. We are dealing with subsection 1(5). I would remind members of the House, and I would ask them, please, to confine their remarks to the section under discussion.
Mr Kormos: With all due respect, I would remind the Chair that when he assumes the chair he should stop being partisan. But of course the Chair knows that.
The Acting Chair: Order.
Mr Kormos: I know that this is an embarrassing exercise.
The Acting Chair: Order. It is the Chair’s responsibility to maintain the debate and the decorum that is appropriate to this House. The Chair is simply reminding the members of the item under discussion, and it is the responsibility of the members to discuss the item under discussion. The member for Welland-Thorold, subsection 1(5).
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Chairman. And I cannot tell you how much the member for Guelph thanks you. He is as relieved as he ever could be about the Chair not permitting any more discussion about rates, commissions, surcharges. rebates and dividends.
Let’s talk about the superintendent of insurance. Let’s talk about the amount of moneys by which the superintendent of insurance’s budget will be reduced by virtue of the creation of the Ontario Insurance Commission. That is the first question to this parliamentary assistant.
Mr Ferraro: Thank you, Mr Chairman, for your unbiased observance of the rules.
I do have more explicit and detailed documentation vis-à-vis the fiscal operation of the entire proposed insurance commission. Dealing specifically with the request of the member for Welland-Thorold, there essentially is no reduction in the department of the superintendent of insurance, in that there is an amalgam, as the House knows, of the department of the superintendent of insurance and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. In that regard, there in fact are additional expenditures.
Mr Kormos: What will the role of the superintendent of insurance be once the establishment of an automobile insurance commission is effected by virtue of this bill being rammed through the Legislature?
Mr Ferraro: The role of the superintendent of insurance essentially is an administrative role as opposed to the role of the insurance commissioner, which essentially is the role of a chief executive officer. I can be more explicit if indeed he requires it.
Mr Kormos: I appreciate that.
Mr Ferraro: I will. I apologize because my staff is not here to nurse me along as yet. It is a matter of getting my paperwork in order. Mr Chairman, I am wondering if we could set that particular question down while I search and have the member ask another question. I will answer it shortly.
The Acting Chair: That question has been stood down. Any further remarks on subsection 1(5)?
Mr Kormos: The superintendent of insurance is a particularly ineffective institution now. Is there anything in this legislation that provides teeth for what is an impotent, powerless apologist for this government’s cosy relationship with the auto insurance industry?
Mr Ferraro: I disagree with the member for Welland-Thorold’s vision of what this commission will be doing vis-à-vis its relationship with insurance companies. I do say without question that indeed the insurance commission will have substantially more teeth than the present department of the superintendent of insurance as it exists in the ministry now. I have found the specific definition, if you will, and delineation of the superintendent’s office. With the indulgence of the Chair, I will subsequently read to the House, if acceptable, what the duties are.
As indicated, the superintendent is the chief administrative officer of the commission and has responsibility for such administrative matters as are assigned by the commissioner, the CEO. The superintendent was traditionally responsible for the day-to-day regulation of the insurance industry and, except for such duties that have been passed on to the commissioner by the bill, the superintendent retains these responsibilities.
The superintendent’s powers and duties include: determining the right of an insurer to be licensed; directing inquiries to insurers; examining books and other information of insurers, agents, adjusters or brokers; requiring that full information on contracts of insurance be forwarded by persons licensed under the act; examining an insurer’s annual statement and making inquiries regarding an insurer’s solvency in compliance with the act; investigating and examining the affairs of every person engaged in the business of insurance to see whether such person is engaged in an unfair or deceptive act or practice; making orders, including interim orders, that a person committing an unfair or deceptive act cease or refrain from doing such an act; monitoring reports from auditors and other professionals regarding breaches of the act, and making applications to the High Court for an order directing a person to comply with the act.
Mr Kormos: In view of the fact that the parliamentary assistant seems to be saying that the superintendent is going to maintain the responsibility that he appears to have had in the past for supervising the solvency of insurers, I wonder if the parliamentary assistant could indicate whether a scenario like Advocate General could recur if Bill 68 is passed.
Mr Ferraro: That would require some degree of speculation, but suffice it to say that it is the view of the government, and certainly of the ministry, that with these new powers, with the establishment of the insurance commission and with the substantive increase in the amount of provisions provided therein vis-à-vis its authority to investigate, to demand, if you would, information; and the requirement that insurance companies file on a regular basis; and the penalty provisions, which are substantive -- so much so that they can result in the insurance company not being allowed to practise -- and indeed, admittedly, with some increased funding in order to supervise the insurance companies, particularly in the adjustment period, we would like to think that such situations would not occur. Of course, I cannot stand here and stay that it will not occur, but we would like to think it will not occur.
Mr Kormos: Is the parliamentary assistant indicating that it was insufficient funding that led to the improper supervision by the superintendent of insurance of Advocate General?
Mr Ferraro: No, I am not. Bearing in mind the mandate and the regulatory authority that existed in the department of insurance and a number of factors inherent in the day-to-day business of insurance in this province, I am suggesting that indeed we have had essentially no reflection on the ability of the government to carry on investigation of insurance companies, but admittedly, and I do not hesitate to indicate, the office of the superintendent of insurance, as it exists now, will not be comparable, in my view, to the department of insurance that we are creating with this bill.
Mr Kormos: Just a minute. Advocate General went belly-up, leaving thousands of policyholders with no insurance protection and no refund of the premiums they had paid. Maybe the parliamentary assistant could tell us just how that happened, in view of the purported responsibility of the superintendent of insurance to supervise the solvency of insurers.
Mr Ferraro: Mr Chairman, you have no idea how relieved I am to see my staff here. Aside from the fact that they are providing moral support, they also provide me with many of these wonderful answers.
Advocate General, it should initially be pointed out, is a federally chartered insurance company. I should also point out that in these situations, as dreadful as they are vis-à-vis the consumers and drivers of Ontario, there is a compensation fund available to which application can be made. I am told by my excellent staff that it is to the aggregate amount of $200,000.
But to suggest that we will never have another bankruptcy in the insurance or any other business in Ontario, I am sure the member opposite would agree, is something that no one would want to suggest.
Mr Kormos: I am not sure, but I think that what the parliamentary assistant is trying to say is that the superintendent of insurance did not supervise Advocate General because Advocate General, albeit licensed by Ontario, was not incorporated in Ontario. Is that correct on my part?
Mr Ferraro: I reiterate that the office of the superintendent of insurance and indeed the regulatory parameters developing and allowing that office to function are not nearly as all-encompassing and strong as those proposed for the insurance commissioner’s department in Bill 68. It is our firm belief that under the new regulatory regime, under the new guidance of the insurance commissioner, things such as those that transpired in the past will certainly be diminished, if not, hopefully, cease to exist in the near future.
Mr Kormos: In view of the fact that there are more than a handful, indeed a score, of auto insurers licensed by Ontario selling insurance in Ontario, purportedly providing coverage to people in Ontario, and in view of the fact that this government has refused to supervise any of those numerous companies because they are either federally incorporated or incorporated in the laws of another province -- that is to say, not Ontario -- notwithstanding that they are licensed to sell insurance in Ontario, are we being told that the new superintendent of insurance, the new improved superintendent of insurance, the one who belongs up on the grocery store shelves besides the new improved Tide, really is nothing more than just a whole bunch of new packaging, new colours, new style, or is in fact this new superintendent of insurance really going to supervise all licensees here in Ontario?
Mr Ferraro: I guess it requires, to some degree, a general comment. As the member would know, there are 400 insurance companies operating in Ontario. Approximately 145 of those companies provide auto insurance. Again. I acknowledge that it is regrettable that situations such as the demise of Advocate General happen. Somebody once said to me: "If you want security, rob a bank. You’ll get 10 years." I am not sure that even exists, but these are realities of doing business. You allow licensing. You allow insurance companies that, by and large, do an admirable job in providing a service, bearing in mind economic conditions and corporate ideology and so forth. But these things happen.
We are confident, however, having said that, that the new environment in which insurance companies are compelled to operate, bearing in mind the concern that this government, and indeed the whole House, has for the consumers in acquiring insurance, will be much more stringent and much more conducive to providing the 6.2 million people who drive and need auto insurance in this province with a comfort level that they are not being ripped off or mistreated.
Mr Kormos: Is the new superintendent of insurance going to supervise all of those insurance companies licensed to sell insurance in Ontario with a view to determining their solvency?
Mr Ferraro: Yes.
Mr Kormos: Does that include insurers who are incorporated not under the laws of the province of Ontario but under the laws of another province or under the laws of the federal government?
Mr Ferraro: As the member knows, any insurance company that is licensed to sell insurance in Ontario must meet our standards irrespective of where they are incorporated. The short answer is yes.
Mr Kormos: Does that mean that the provincial government is no longer going to rely on the supervisory role of the federal government as it did in the case of Advocate General?
Mr Ferraro: Suffice to say that there is a significant degree of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments in dealing with industries -- in this case the insurance industry -- where indeed there are federal incorporations and provincial incorporations, and hopefully that degree of cooperation will be strengthened. As well, there are significant discussions, acknowledgements and agreements between provinces vis-à-vis essentially the same issue.
Having said all that wonderful stuff, there is no hesitancy on my part to indicate that the provincial government, under the new regime in the new insurance commission, will be taking a much more proactive approach in supervision.
Mr Kormos: The parliamentary assistant talks about a compensation fund available to persons burned, and he talks about robbing a bank. This Liberal government may not have robbed banks lately, but it is sure putting a gun to the heads of drivers and taxpayers and innocent injured victims here in the province of Ontario. What it is doing to the taxpayers of Ontario makes robbing a bank seem like a misdemeanour.
The parliamentary assistant is talking about a compensation fund. Does he mean to say that those people who were ripped off for their premiums, who subsequently, midway through a policy, had to go out and buy new insurance because his superintendent of insurance was not supervising an auto insurer, Advocate General? Does that mean that those people who got ripped off for their premiums are going to be able to go to that compensation fund?
The Acting Chair: The member for Guelph, if he chooses to answer that.
Mr Ferraro: I do, thank you. The compensation fund covers claims, not premiums. I should point out that the superintendent of insurance office has existed for well over 100 years in different regulatory or statutory environments. But indeed, in defence of Ontario -- notwithstanding the fact that there was this agreement between the federal and provincial governments vis-à-vis co-operation and so forth dealing with insurance companies -- Ontario has, and I think rightly so, for example prohibited insurance companies that are insolvent or are not acting in the best interests of our consumers, in advance of the federal government, knowing full well that they were originally chartered by the federal government. So we have been proactive to a greater degree, in our view, than the federal government.
The Acting Chair: The Chair finds it incumbent upon itself to remind members what we are discussing. We are discussing subsection 1(5). It being such a short section, I thought perhaps I would read it to remind members who do not have it in front of them:
"(5) Paragraph 62 of section 1 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
"62 ‘Superintendent’ means the superintendent of insurance appointed under section 4."
That is what we are discussing. Does the member for Welland-Thorold have any further comments with respect to that particular subsection?
Mr Kormos: Please. Of course we are talking about superintendent of insurance. Come on, Mr Chairman. We are told later on that the Ontario Insurance Commission consists of "the commissioner, the superintendent and the director." Perhaps the parliamentary assistant would distinguish for us the role of the commissioner as compared to the role of the superintendent and why one is one and the other is the other.
Mr Ferraro: I thought I had explained it, but perhaps not as well as my friend the member for Welland-Thorold wants. I delineated the role of the superintendent. If the member would like, I can also delineate essentially the role of the commissioner. But basically the commissioner, Mr Scott, is comparable to the chief executive officer. His duties, for example, would compel him to have more direct interaction, if you will, with government, with the ministry vis-à-vis the preparation of reports and so forth, and essentially he is the boss from the standpoint of that particular commission.
The superintendent is the administrative manager, if you will, of that operation, comprising, as the member knows, approximately 209 or 210 employees. So in that regard he is the chief administrator.
Mr Kormos: A Chair is a Chair is a Chair.
Mr Villeneuve: Not necessarily.
Mr Kormos: Not necessarily? That is right. Some Chairs are more knowledgeable than other Chairs. Some Chairs have a better recollection of the transcript of the previous day’s proceedings. Some Chairs will recall the quasi undertakings made by a parliamentary assistant who could not answer questions, who could not answer diddly-squat with respect to a whole chunk of them and who as much as said, "Please give me time," and now he has time and we are not going to hear anything any better.
We have heard some distinction made between the commissioner and the superintendent, because we are talking about "superintendent," let’s never forget that. If I may, why is it necessary to distinguish between "director" and "superintendent" in view of what we have already been told is the distinction between "commissioner" and "superintendent?"
Mr Ferraro: I do not want to give the member any more diddly in which to squat about. Perhaps it would be helpful if I read the actual duties of the commissioner, which would delineate and perhaps resolve some of the confusion in my friend’s mind.
The commissioner, as I said, is the chief executive officer of the commission and is required to carry out the duties and exercise the powers of the commissioner under the Insurance Act. Specific powers and duties include:
"Establishing and maintaining a roster of persons available to be arbitrators; assigning appropriate administrative responsibilities to the superintendent;appointing mediators to act under the dispute resolution mechanism created in the act; appointing a medical and rehabilitation advisory panel and designating a Chair for the panel;
"Filing an annual report with the minister on the affairs of the commission and reporting to the minister as required; making rules governing procedures for proceedings to be decided before the commissioner, including fixing cars; hearing appeals from decisions of the superintendent; examining and reporting on questions related to insurance that the Lieutenant Governor in Council believes require a public hearing;
"Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses in the same manner as the Supreme Court in the trial of civil action" -- this power is also conferred on the superintendent, the director and arbitrators pre-assigned under the Insurance Act, I might point out – "requiring insurers to prepare and file a return respecting the insurer’s business; approving the form of policy, endorsement or renewal in respect of automobile insurance; regulating underwriting practices of insurers in respect of auto insurance."
Two more, Mr Chairman: "Generally controlling the approval of classes and rates in respect of automobile insurance as set out in the bill; and designating a person who can require an insurer to produce books and records and who may examine an insurer at an office situate outside of Ontario."
Mr Kormos: I am wondering, for the benefit of the people who want to participate in this dialogue, whether there could be copies of that distributed?
Mr Ferraro: There can be copies of that distributed, certainly. I wish to apologize. My copy said that one of the jobs -- it is a rather mundane job, really. I am sorry -- of the insurance commissioner, who is paid $100,000, was to make rules governing procedures for proceedings to be decided before the commissioner "including fixing cars" -- it should have said "including fixing costs."
The Second Deputy Chair (Mr Cureatz): Does that make a difference so we can complete the section?
Mr Kormos: Wait a minute. Mr Chairman, you bring up completing the section. We would like to complete discussion on the bill, but the fact is that the Liberals had no intention of ever permitting complete discussion of this legislation; no intention whatsoever. Then, with their brown shirts and their jack-boots, they took the standing orders, chucked them out window and they used closure. The Liberals used closure and their arrogant majority to deny the members of this Legislature opportunity to discuss this even in the most modest of ways.
The member sat here for a whole afternoon, some two and three-quarter hours -- big deal -- when you heard valuable input from members of the opposition about portions of this legislation which are going to be and should be of great concern to people all over Ontario. So when you talk about finishing this, Mr Chairman, oh yes, we would like to finish it, but we would like to see it finished as a result of a complete and thorough discussion, not as a result of the Liberals having their way once again. Basically, you are steam-rollering the whole show.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have to interrupt. Does this mean no?
Mr Kormos: We are not finished with this section yet.
The Second Deputy Chair: I just wanted to be sure.
Mr Kormos: I am waiting for a copy of what the parliamentary assistant just read. By the way, I do accept the parliamentary assistant’s apologies. The member for Guelph has a whole lot to apologize about, not just to me but to the people of Ontario, for advocating such horribly bad legislation.
What I am interested in is, is it the superintendent of insurance who is going to be involved in rate-setting?
Mr Ferraro: Again, I apologize to the House. I did not hear the question.
Mr Kormos: Is the superintendent of insurance going to be responsible for rate-setting? I suppose the parliamentary assistant does not want to answer that.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I was wondering if we might take a short recess until we get a copy of this definition.
The Second Deputy Chair: No, we are not allowed to do that. Nice try.
Mr Kormos: Would the parliamentary assistant please answer my question?
The Second Deputy Chair: Actually, I am embarrassed to say I missed the question myself.
Mr Kormos: Is the superintendent of insurance responsible for rate-setting?
The Second Deputy Chair: Is the superintendent of insurance responsible for rate-setting?
Mr Ferraro: I am surprised, after listening to my friend for 17 hours when he exuded a tremendous amount of stamina, that his vocal cords just now are starting to fail him.
The superintendent is part of the insurance commission and the insurance commission -- I am sorry -- the commissioner is responsible for the rate-setting, not the superintendent.
Mr Kormos: Why did the parliamentary assistant tell us that the commission was responsible for rate-setting when in fact it is only one member: the commissioner? Why does he tell us things like that and then have to take them back mere moments later? Can he answer that?
Mr Ferraro: The only guy I know who was perfect got nailed to a cross. I am sorry if I led the member opposite astray. Suffice to say that the commission, to some degree, will have input to the commissioner as to whether rates are acceptable or not. As such, indirectly, the commission is responsible, but the commissioner, according to the legislation, is personally responsible for rates.
Mr Runciman: At this juncture, I want to make an appeal, I guess, in respect to some of the amendments that have been tabled by the opposition. I think it is important, especially when we start to deal with the threshold.
I know that in clause-by-clause in committee the government restricted the opportunities of the opposition to deal in a meaningful way with virtually the bulk of the bill, if you will, Mr Chairman. We are going to have a cutoff of debate at 6 o’clock. It is our last opportunity in committee of the whole, given the restrictions placed upon us by the Liberal government. I think it is important that we have an opportunity to deal with sections 47 and 57, where there are a significant number of amendments. I would like to see the support of the government that we move to section 47 so we can start dealing with these very important amendments.
The Second Deputy Chair: Far be it from me to --
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, if I might.
The Second Deputy Chair: All right, sure.
Mr Kormos: On Monday, the very first of the mere two half-days that the Liberals are going to permit us to talk about this, I stood up and proposed that this government permit us to accelerate through these various sections to get up to the threshold part of it, because that is the single most important part. What was the Liberal response, their typical, supercilious, snotty kind of response? It was, "Yes, only if you waive discussion on any of the intermediary sections." We do not waive discussion on them.
I tell you once again, just as we told you on Monday and just as we tell these Liberals sitting here pretending to speak for their constituents -- they are speaking for the insurance industry real good -- we are quite prepared, as a matter of fact we are eager, to see these sections discussed out of order so we can get down to threshold right now, because, boy, do I have some questions to ask the parliamentary assistant about threshold. He had better brush up on his threshold, I tell him that right now.
Mr Ferraro: Having been privileged with the carriage of this bill for a number of months and listening to my friends opposite, I can assure them that my threshold is as strong as anybody’s threshold. With that having been said, the government has no problem in proceeding. I look to you, however, Mr Chairman. Our only concern is an administrative one. We would have to then deem that all the sections leading up to that had passed, including our amendments.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Chairman, on that matter.
The Second Deputy Chair: I had not had a chance to --
Mr R. F. Johnston: I know. I just wanted to remind you --
The Second Deputy Chair: To help me.
Mr R. F. Johnston: As a past chairman of committees myself -- just to make it understandable to the member for Guelph, who has not been here for as many tedious years as I have been and gone through this so many times -- I just wanted to say that many times in committee we move ahead, leaving certain sections unpassed and unresolved, to deal with another matter and then to come back and start again. So it is not required for us to pass certain sections before we go ahead, especially when we are doing a stacking process and where all the motions will be deemed to be placed at the end of this process.
Therefore, if there is a substantive matter like the threshold question which the member for Leeds-Grenville wishes to raise, we could easily deal with that and still go back to other matters following. I am sure that is what the Chair would have told you.
Mr Ferraro: I appreciate my much more experienced friend indicating that to the House and to me. The point I was trying to make, being cognizant of that fact, was that the procedure, I guess, would be that we would have to essentially assume that those paragraphs, the clauses beforehand, have been deemed to have been moved and read. This is what my staff is telling me we have to do.
The Second Deputy Chair: I do not know. That is news to me. We have often just jumped from area to area. I do want to remind all people that, of course, 5:30 is the bewitching hour, because at that time we are going to be putting forward all sections and all amendments, both opposition and government. So if it is the will of the committee to then jump forward to section 47 without passage of previous sections, because we will be doing that at 5:30 anyway, that is just fine with me.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, do you mean that even if sections have not been discussed they are going to be deemed to have been discussed and deemed to have been passed without ever really doing it? Is that what is going to happen?
The Second Deputy Chair: That is the long and short of it. That is correct. That is the short of it, not the long of it.
Mr Kormos: The people of Ontario got the short end of the stick, I tell you that.
Mr Ferraro: Perhaps my friend the member for Scarborough West, his colleague, could indicate to the member opposite the procedures.
The Second Deputy Chair: The member for Welland-Thorold, would you like to talk about section 47, since we have unanimous agreement about moving forward to section 47?
Mr Kormos: Of course, Mr Chairman. It was my suggestion.
The Second Deputy Chair: Standing down all other previous sections and amendments, the member for Leeds-Grenville.
Mr Runciman: I take it we are on section 47, are we?
Mr Kerrio: Wherever you want to go.
Mr Runciman: Okay. That is what I am going to talk to, in any event. This should not take too long and I am sure the member for Welland-Thorold will want to talk briefly about it.
We have introduced two amendments which are essentially trying to deal with the notion of cherry-picking. The government will suggest to you, Mr Chair, that perhaps the legislation adequately covers that area. Certainly, what we are hearing, especially from insurance brokers across the province who have to deal with this legislation on a day-by-day basis, is that they are not happy with it and they feel that this legislation, if it passes as it is currently structured and worded, is going to put the insurance companies in the position of being able to shove aside individuals in this province who perhaps are less fortunate and do not have salary continuation plans, for example.
What is going to happen? We are going to have the insurance industry looking at Mr X who comes in and applies for auto insurance. They look at his background and the application that he makes. He does not have a salary continuation plan; he does not have those kinds of benefits. Indeed, he or she may be unemployed. He or she may be having all sorts of problems in society. What is going to happen to that individual who has had access to auto insurance in the past? He is going to be told now he presents a higher risk to the insurance industry -- a higher risk because he does not have those collateral benefits that are going to kick in before this no-fault insurance takes over.
So what happens to that individual? He is refused access to auto insurance through the normal course of application through a broker and the insurance industry says: "You go to Facility. You go to the high-priced Facility Association. That is the only option for you, mister. That is the only option for you." What does that mean to that driver? That means an increase perhaps in the neighbourhood of 200% to 300%. That is what is going to happen and we are going to see many, many people in society faced with that sort of a dilemma.
The prediction has been made -- it has been made to this government time and time again -- that we are going to see significant increases in Facility and people are going to be hurt: people who do not belong in Facility, people who do not, in the truest sense, present any kind of a high risk on the highways and streets of this province, but only present a risk to the insurance industry on the basis that their tail is not going to be covered because these people, for a variety of reasons, do not have collateral benefits available to them: because of their place of work, because they are unemployed, or for a host of other reasons. So what they do is present a higher risk in respect to the payouts the insurance industry might have to make, if indeed that individual is in the unfortunate position of being injured in an automobile accident.
When you take a look at the risk classification process and system, we are talking about people in categories, essentially, who have bad driving records, who fall historically into groupings that present higher risks. Perhaps most of us can live with that; some cannot. But in any event, most of us can live with that kind of a classification system.
We cannot live with the idea of people who are being shoved into Facility being looked upon as higher risk simply because they are not among the most fortunate and better off in society. That is a reality of this legislation. That is what is going to happen. It is going to kick the people who can least deal with it in society.
We want to see this Liberal government address this very real concern. To say it is not a concern, that we have handled it adequately in this legislation, is not the reality. We have the insurance brokers of Ontario appealing to us. They are the people who have to deal with this. They have looked at the legislation and they say: "We are not happy with this. We are not happy. We work with these insurance companies on a day-by-day basis. We know what they are like. We know what they are going to do to the little guy. They are going to shove him into Facility -- 200% or 300% rate increase." The brokers are saying this. It is a concern of theirs.
So, obviously, it should be a very real concern to this Liberal government, if it has any concerns about that kind of person, that kind of individual, in Ontario’s society today.
I would like to hear the parliamentary assistant’s reaction to that. I do not want to hear him say this is adequately covered, because that is totally an inadequate response to a very legitimate concern.
Mr Ferraro: I say to my friend the member for Leeds-Grenville, I am not sure he wants to hear anything from the government, though I would be willing to accept anything. Suffice it to say, and I say respectfully -- and I am sure the member acknowledges this -- that the amendment as put forth by the member opposite essentially saying, "We won’t allow cherry-picking," in itself is not conducive to passage, if you will, in that "cherry-picking" may have an agricultural reference.
But I say with respect to the member opposite, I understand what he is saying, and the government and indeed everyone in the House has a concern about those insurance companies that are mistreating, for lack of a better word perhaps, many people in the province.
We are concerned, as he is, about the increase in the Facility Association. There is no question in my mind that some people in the Facility Association should not be there.
I suggest, with respect, that part and parcel of the fact that there are people in Facility, in the context of the insurance business, is the rate situation, among other things, the regulatory situation that presently exists in Ontario.
With the passage of Bill 68, there should be and will be an onset of a new not only regulatory framework, but a business framework in Ontario. Indeed, many companies, as everyone in the House knows, are not taking on new subscribers, are pulling in their horns vis-à-vis underwriting auto insurance in the insurance business in Ontario.
The new flexibility and the new rules under which Bill 68 will allow insurance companies to function -- and it will subsequently permit new protective measures and reasonable rates for the consumers -- should allow a loosening of the way they do business and how much business they do. As a result, some people who could not get insurance in the past no doubt will get insurance, in our view.
I also wish to say that of the people in the Facility Association now, there are many who are quite simply -- and I think the member opposite would acknowledge this -- bad risks, bad drivers. Some of them have convictions for drunk driving. Some of them have poor driving records and, as such, quite frankly, they should pay substantively higher amounts for their premiums. The difficulty is to dissect those from those who should not be there, the bad ones from those who are not in the same category.
In conclusion, I will say that in our view, Bill 68 does address specifically some of the concerns expressed, and they are legitimate concerns, I do acknowledge that to the member opposite. There are a number of amendments and motions that the member has copies of that will specifically deal with cherry-picking and our desire to eliminate it as best we can, and if the member so desires, I would be happy to read them into the record.
Mr Kormos: First, let me make something perfectly clear. We of course support this amendment and without hesitation, and we completely reject the pathetic response of the parliamentary assistant.
He knows what we are talking about. Call it cherry-picking; that perhaps reflects the agricultural background of the member for Leeds-Grenville. When I worked in the mines, we used to call it high-grading. Call it whatever you wish, the fact is that insurance companies have for a long time, and now more than ever, been picking and choosing their insureds.
This parliamentary assistant knows that Mr Justice Osborne predicts, and rightly so, that as a result of Bill 68 there is going to be even more cherry-picking. Is that not right, I ask the parliamentary assistant? He knows that Mr Justice Osborne has predicted that, as a result of Bill 68, even more good drivers are going to be forced into Facility Association.
That is where the figure of almost one third of a million Ontario drivers comes from, that one third of a million who are going to face premium increases -- the parliamentary assistant should listen -- of up to 80 per cent. These are the good drivers who are going to be forced into Facility Association as a result of the government’s legislation, its Bill 68.
Not only does Mr Justice Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario say that, but Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, says that. The parliamentary assistant knows he said that in his third quarterly report of 1989. Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, the guy who runs it, said that as a result of Bill 68, insurers are going to be using avoidance techniques on certain classes of insureds.
I hope the parliamentary assistant can sleep with this: senior citizens are going to be among those classes of people who are going to be forced not just into $1,000 or $2,000 but megabucks -- thousands and thousands of dollars a year in premium increases. Seniors are the very sort of people that Mr Justice Osborne, yes, and Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association; seniors are the very sort of people that those two people are talking about as among those classes of people who are going to be forced into Facility because they are going to be arbitrarily denied insurance coverage. So you see, it is under this regime of Bill 68 that the Liberals are trying to impose on us that an amendment to prohibit cherry-picking becomes all that much more important and valid.
One of the basic errors that this government, the Liberals, has attempted to portray as accuracies is the actuarial presumptions that rest on there being an assumption that any given insurer has a proportionate number of various types of drivers, various classes of risks. The fact is that the profitability of insurance is probably going to be compounded, that is to say increased beyond what we have even speculated; we in the opposition talk about new profits of $1 billion in the first year alone by virtue of the insurance companies using avoidance techniques. Why? Because this government has not got the slightest interest in passing legislation that could even come close to being considered consumer protection legislation. This government, the Liberals here at Queen’s Park, has not got the slightest interest in offending its wealthy powerful buddies, its cosy paramours in the insurance industry.
The Second Deputy Chair: You know, I think I have been more than patient in letting him air some feelings and concerns about section 47, but there does come a point in time where a question should be asked so we could have some discussion.
Mr Kormos: We are talking about an amendment, Mr Chairman.
The Second Deputy Chair: All right then, ask something about the amendment.
Mr Kormos: I am indicating that it is important if we are going to talk about this in an intelligent way that I lay out the perspective that we in the New Democratic Party have on this issue in conjunction with the Conservative Party.
The Second Deputy Chair: I know and I do not want to get into a debate with the member but, of course, that was for second reading, which you and I both know has now been over with, much to my or your thoughts otherwise.
Mr Charlton: There was not any second reading on this amendment. This is the second reading debate on the amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, if the honourable member would like to participate in the discussion he can allow his colleague to sit down and he could stand tap.
Mr Charlton: On a point of order, Mr Chair.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, fine. Stand up.
Mr Charlton: You are inappropriately harassing the member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos: That is true.
Mr Charlton: There has been an amendment moved by the member for Leeds-Grenville and the member for Welland-Thorold has the perfect opportunity here to stand up and speak in support of it. He does not have to stand up and question it. There is an amendment on the floor for debate and that is the purpose of moving the amendment in the first place and the member for Welland-Thorold has every right to stand up and debate that amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, I have nothing but the highest respect and esteem for the honourable member for Hamilton Mountain, but I only would like to point out to him that it is the Chair’s responsibility not to encourage debate as if this was second reading, but to encourage the questioning and facilitating of answering those questions from the parliamentary assistant. I have indicated to the member for Welland-Thorold that, in my humble evaluation, his full support and discussions had gone on at some length of time and I think it would be worth while for him now to pose a question or two to the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Kormos: If I must.
Mr Charlton: The Chair should look very carefully at the rules before he proceeds in that fashion.
Mr Kormos: When the Chair speaks of the high regard and respect he has for the member for Hamilton Mountain I would hope he has the same respect and regard for the basic rules.
Mr Charlton: The Chair has no right to limit debate on any amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: I just want to say to the member for Hamilton Mountain, you are lucky the member for Oshawa is not here, because I can assure you his rulings would be totally different.
Mr Runciman: I wanted to pose a specific question.
Looking at Bill 68, clause 208c(4)(d), the second amendment we have moved is in respect to cherry-picking. After the words "contrary to public policy" we have added, "such as the practice of cherry-picking."
The parliamentary assistant apparently objects to the use of that term. If that is his only discontent with this amendment we are certainly prepared to see some sort of change take place there if that is possible. He talks about the amendments the government is introducing and I have gone through them quickly. We are talking about what is required by the regulations. We do not know exactly what the regulations are going to say in respect to this. I guess I would feel much more comfortable as a member of this House -- and the concerns are very real out there about cherry-picking -- that it be quite specifically prohibited in this legislation.
We are talking about being contrary to public policy. Surely that sort of act on the part of an insurance company to selectively decline the less fortunate in society from having access to reasonably priced automobile insurance is contrary to public policy. I would think so and I would like to hear the parliamentary assistant’s views as to why he feels we should not be that specific in respect to this legislation in terms of applying a prohibition to that distasteful conduct on the part of certain insurers.
The Second Deputy Chair: Before the honourable member responds, I would like to say to the member for Leeds-Grenville, are you discussing section 47 of the bill, clause 208c(4)(d) of the act? You are? I do not believe you actually moved the proposed amendment.
Mr Runciman moves that clause 208c(4)(d) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 47 of the bill, be amended by inserting after the word "policy" the following:
"such as the practice of cherry-picking, whereby insurers are highly selective with offers of insurance coverage in the voluntary market, thus forcing consumers to seek very expensive coverage through the province’s insurer of last resort, the Facility Association."
Mr Ferraro: The government cannot accept the member’s amendment for the specific reason that we think the present amendments and indeed the regulations being proposed by the government should satisfy many, if not all, of the concerns of the member opposite.
Suffice it to say, if the member so requires, I will be happy to read some of the regulations that would offset perhaps some of his concerns. But to be more specific than that would perhaps be a waste of time. I know the member for Welland-Thorold would not want to waste the House’s time.
Mr Kormos: You know, Mr Chairman, what a stupid thing to say in response to this amendment. This parliamentary assistant knows that people across Ontario have been getting Dear John or Dear Jean letters from their insurance companies, not just for months now, but for years.
There is absolutely nothing about Bill 68 that is going to correct that problem. I wonder if the parliamentary assistant would comment on the observations made by Mr Justice Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Mr Ferraro: Mr Chairman, it is appropriate that we are dealing with the topic of cherry-picking because it appears that the members of the opposition, specifically the member for Welland-Thorold, cherry-picks quotes from Mr Justice Osborne and negates others. For example, his party is a proponent of public government auto insurance. Mr Justice Osborne specifically and at length indicated that the auto insurance business in Ontario should remain in private hands. However, the member opposite never alludes to that fact.
I think it is appropriate that some of the innuendo perhaps be dispelled. It is my view, quite frankly, that the vast majority of the people of Ontario will not fully understand the bill until it is passed and indeed until they deal with their insurance company or get some information, if you will, from the ministry or, God forbid, get into an accident. However, I should point out to the Chair and to the people that the commissioner has specific powers to deal with companies who will abuse and indeed will cherry-pick.
For example, it is in section 47 of the bill that: "The commissioner may order, at any time, a hearing with respect to any ground set out in the list filed with the commission if the commissioner is of the opinion that the ground or the manner in which it is applied, (a) is subjective; (b) is arbitrary; (c) bears little or no relationship to the risk to be borne by the insurer in respect of an insured; or (d) is contrary to public policy."
Indeed, there are regulations in section 47, for example, limitation on termination, to be specific: "(1) If so required by the regulations and unless the insurer has complied therewith, an insurer shall not decline to issue or terminate or refuse to renew a contract in respect of such coverages and endorsements as may be set out in the regulations or decline to issue, terminate or refuse to renew any contract or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement on any ground set out in the regulations."
There are a number of regulations -- and I will be happy to send a copy over to the members opposite -- that specifically give, in essence, the commissioner the power to deal with arbitrary usage, if you will, of their prerogative as underwriters to restrict insurance on the part of the people.
There is another one, for example: "(5) Following a hearing with respect to a ground, the commissioner, (a) may prohibit an insurer from declining to issue, terminating or refusing to renew any contract or from refusing to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement on that ground; or (b) may prohibit an insurer from applying that ground, in the manner specified by the commissioner, to decline to issue, terminate or refuse to renew any contract or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement."
Specifically, what all that means is that there are specific regulations and statutory controls whereby the commissioner can deem it to be, in the most general form, an action on the part of an insurance company to cherry-pick, to be arbitrary, and as such can stop it.
Mr Kormos: Is the parliamentary assistant saying that the Honourable Mr Justice Osborne was wrong?
Mr Ferraro: What I am saying is that Bill 68, and the insurance commission being established thereby, to the best of our knowledge, will prohibit cherry-picking in the future.
Mr J. M. Johnson: It was brought to my attention on the weekend by a broker that in many instances the insurance companies will instruct the broker to terminate his insurance with an individual. His concern is the availability of the insurance. The parliamentary assistant is just discussing it now, but he feels that many good clients will be forced to accept Facility Association insurance because the companies will not write them or will tie it in to having their home insurance with the same company. How does the parliamentary assistant propose to prevent this happening?
Mr Ferraro: That has been a concern of just about every member in the House and has been the case to some degree in the past. Specifically, what my friend the member for Wellington is referring to is what they call tied selling. He is absolutely correct that it has been a sore spot, to say the least, and -- in the government’s view and I am sure in the view of everyone view in the House -- an unfair action on the part of insurance companies. Specifically, tied selling, as delineated in the bill, is not allowed.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Does the government have any mechanism in place so that an individual will have recourse to appeal if he is caught in this situation?
Mr Ferraro: Essentially, there are two approaches. If the broker is being forced to tied sell, which of course will be prohibited under the bill, the broker has recourse to a system of arbitration that presently exists that may alleviate the situation vis-à-vis the brokers and the insurance companies specifically.
If the broker, who is also a taxpayer and an insured himself, assuming it is a male in this case, has a specific concern, he can also contact the insurance commissioner directly. In so doing, the insurance commissioner will investigate, and if indeed there is guilt, the insurance company will be dealt with accordingly.
Mr Runciman: I do not want to see us spend any more time on this. We certainly wanted to put our views on the record and let the member for Welland-Thorold have his views expressed, and the government’s, with respect to this particular concern. Prior to standing on my feet this afternoon, I appreciated that we were not going to get a positive response from the government and the parliamentary assistant. We have not received that kind of indication throughout this whole lengthy process.
The parliamentary assistant has suggested, and he has done so again here today, that the regulations, to some degree in any event, will remedy or alleviate the concerns out there with respect to the actions of the insurance industry in very selectively picking its clients and penalizing some of the less fortunate members of society with respect to their ability to obtain affordable automobile insurance in this province.
My response to that remains that we are not satisfied with doing this through regulation. As you know, Mr Chairman, and as all of us in this assembly know, the regulations are easily changeable through order in council. We feel this is an important enough issue that a ban on this sort of thing should be very clearly spelled out in the legislation.
The parliamentary assistant just jumped to his feet in response to my colleague’s concerns about tied selling. He said the legislation very clearly bans tied selling. If that is a major concern, and he has indicated in the House that cherry-picking is also a very legitimate, valid, real concern out there, why is he so reluctant to incorporate that particular element in this legislation? He can handle one that way, but he cannot handle the other one that way. He says: "Trust me. Trust the Liberal government. We are going to deal with this problem effectively through regulation."
We have a great deal of difficulty with that. We would much prefer, and we think it is in the best interests of consumers in this province, if that sort of restriction were incorporated in the bill itself. But obviously, from the responses we have heard today from the parliamentary assistant, that just is not going to happen. That is indeed regrettable, as is this legislation for the most part regrettable, and certainly not in the best long-term interests of consumers in this province.
I do not want to spend any more time on this, because we have all had an opportunity to put our views on the record. Given the limited time the Liberal government is affording us in committee of the whole, we only have another hour and a half to try to deal with a number of other meaningful amendments, especially the impact of the threshold, which is the most onerous part of this legislation. and how it is going to impact on and restrict the availability of the courts dealing with the head-injured, psychological trauma, etc.
I know the member for Welland-Thorold has agreed to this, and if the parliamentary assistant is in agreement, I would suggest that we move on to section 57 and start discussing our concerns about the threshold as worded.
The Second Deputy Chair: The honourable member has suggested that we stand down section 47, as we have all the previous sections, for the vote at 5:30 and move on to section 57.
Mr Ferraro: Mr Chairman, I would agree with that if you would allow me just a short response to the member opposite in this regard.
The member is quite right. The bill specifically deals with tied selling and says it is not allowed. It would be prohibited. I think, in our view, in the government’s view -- and I acknowledge that there are differences in views -- the cherry-picking aspect of it is a legitimate concern.
We believe strongly that in regulatory form and in the powers of the commissioner himself, much of the abuse that has transpired, as acknowledged by the member for Leeds-Grenville, in the context of those powers and in the context of the regulations, which are every bit as significant, if you will, as being directly in the bill per se, much of the cherry-picking, if not all of it, will be alleviated.
There is no question that any time you have new legislation -- and indeed this is a substantive change, as indicated on many occasions, in how the people of Ontario, the 6.2 million drivers, get their auto insurance -- there will be an adjustment process. There is no question that there will be examples, that all members will receive constituent concerns about being put into Facility when they should not be there.
By putting it in regulatory form, it may, in our view, be beneficial from the standpoint of an adjustment being required to deal with that particular aspect of cherry-picking in a more definitive way, although we are quite satisfied that it has enough teeth in it now, that we have the flexibility to change those regulations quickly.
The members in the House know that if we were to put that specific issue in the bill per se, it would require a change to the bill. We all know how difficult it is to change or indeed, certainly in the case of Bill 68, to get a bill passed. So the flexibility of having it in regulatory form, just as the no-fault benefits are in regulation, allows the government and the insurance commissioner to adjust accordingly, bearing in mind the circumstances.
The Second Deputy Chair: Speaking then to section 57, is the honourable member for Wellington going to move the section? Does the parliamentary assistant have a copy of the proposed Conservative amendment? You do? I was going to suggest -- it is quite lengthy, and possibly -- does the honourable member move and dispense with the reading?
Mr J. M. Johnson moves that subsection 231 a(1) of the Insurance Act, exclusive of the clauses, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(1) In respect of non-economic loss or non-economic damage arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation, after this section comes into force, of an automobile and despite any other act, no owner of an automobile, no occupant of an automobile and no person present at the incident is liable in an action in Ontario for non-economic loss or non-economic damage from bodily injury arising from such use or operation in Canada, the United States of America or any other jurisdiction designated in the no-fault benefits schedule involving the automobile unless, as a result of such use or operation, the person has died or has sustained."
Mr Ferraro: The government cannot accept this particular amendment because essentially the no-fault principle is the heart and soul, if you will, of the direction of Bill 68. It is our view, quite frankly, having examined the insurance business in other jurisdictions, including outside of the country of Canada, that this form of threshold no-fault is necessary in order to deal with the rising and anticipated costs of premiums, if indeed this bill does not pass, to the extent that on average it would be 30%.
Among all the other factors that the government looked at, this new approach to insurance in Ontario will provide a much more equitable and fair treatment of accident victims, whether they are guilty or not of having had the accident, quite frankly. Indeed it will allow people in Ontario to get quick and much-needed treatment for rehabilitation purposes and to get back in the position they were in before the accident occurred.
We are striving to come up with a balanced approach to dealing with the insurance crisis in Ontario. The threshold no-fault as evident in Bill 68 would provide the fairest and most comprehensive way for the 6.2 million who have to drive or wish to drive in Ontario to do so in an environment of reasonable rates with just and needed treatment on the part of insurance companies, and indeed in order to live in Ontario.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Why is it that there is no other jurisdiction in North America in which the system of threshold automobile insurance is in place with two of the thresholds tied together? Why will this be the first one?
Mr Ferraro: As I indicated, essentially the government has looked at different forms of insurance in different jurisdictions. We have looked at all the provinces and the schemes they have. We have looked at many states where they have threshold systems, in particular Michigan, New York and New Jersey. In so determining what is best for Ontario, we took some of the good things from some of these jurisdictions and applied them to the Ontario motorist protection plan, Bill 68. We have a made-in-Ontario plan.
The member is quite right. There are distinctions in the way different provinces deal with the insurance industry per se. The member will know, I am sure, that in Quebec, for example, no access to tort or a pure threshold system exists. Irrespective of whether it is a serious accident in Quebec or there is death or dismemberment, they have no access to the courts whatsoever. In other jurisdictions, of course, there is full access to the courts for whatever particular reason.
Ontario has taken a balanced approach and I am mindful of the fact, and everyone knows, that the government was inundated with opinions, for which we were very grateful. On the one hand, we had lawyers and people in the legal business suggesting that full access to the courts is needed. On the other hand, we had insurance companies that were saying, "No, we want to go to the Quebec system," whereby absolutely no access to the courts is allowed irrespective of severity of injury.
We think the approach of the government of Ontario is a balanced one in that regard. Aside from the many other things that we are doing to alleviate the pressure on insurance premiums, we have taken a balanced approach to dealing with the threshold aspect. We have said essentially that you are not going to be able to sue unless the injury is serious and permanent. This has upset a lot of people, and I understand that. But the tradeoff is, I point out to members in the House -- and they know this -- that if money was not an issue, I think it is acknowledged by just about everybody that if the government did nothing, everyone’s premiums would go up on average at least 30%.
Speaking as the member for Guelph, people have said to me, "Rick, there is no way I can afford that premium," and I say the affordability problem is what precipitated, to a significant degree, Bill 68. One can argue whether or not the opposition parties have addressed that particular aspect. I suggest that we have in Bill 68.
But the point I want to conclude with, at least at this point, is this. While we have taken the balanced approach to allow access to court in the case of serious and permanent injury, there must be something for those people who either through their fault or no fault of their own can be dealt with in a fair and equitable way.
As I am sure members know, we have significantly enhanced the no-fault benefits schedule. By that I mean, to be very brief, the present no-fault schedule in Ontario essentially gives an income replacement of $140. The new system will allow up to 80% of the individual’s income to be replaced, to a maximum of $600. The original amount was $450. As a result of the public hearings and concerns expressed by people that this was not high enough, the government has reacted and increased it to $600. That is equivalent to, I think it is, $39,000 a year, which would cover approximately 85% of those who earned a salary or a living in the province. I think that is phenomenal. I think it is an increase of 326%.
Mrs Marland: What percentage?
Mr Ferraro: Some 85% of the people earning a living in Ontario will be covered by that $600 threshold.
The other significant factor that was addressed for the first time is that retired people, unemployed and students will be eligible for income replacement. That did not occur before. Homemakers before were allowed $70 a week and now will get $185 a week.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes is the increase in the rehabilitative, long-term care aspect of the no-fault benefits. Before, if you needed a special prosthesis, counselling, a therapist, if you needed anything, you had a maximum of $25,000 essentially. Under the new program -- and again this is the tradeoff for the lack of the ability to sue for those less-than-serious injuries and permanent injuries -- you will now get up to $1 million in rehabilitative and long-term care, so just about every concern and need of those unfortunate people who are injured will be addressed and will be addressed quickly.
No longer will people, assuming they can prove their innocence, have to go to court, wait four or five years in many cases, and hope that they will be victorious in order to get the money they need to compensate themselves and indeed to rehabilitate themselves to get back into the mainstream of life in Ontario. Now, within 10 to 30 days, they will get the immediate money necessary. In the case of rehabilitation, they will have up to $500,000, if they need all this equipment or whatever. They will be dealt with expeditiously.
Mr Runciman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I want to express an objection. This perhaps is not a point of order that you will uphold, but I think that part of this process is we are attempting to get some answers in respect to this matter.
You have chastised members of the opposition in respect to posing questions, and what we are hearing here is this kind of diatribe on the part of the parliamentary assistant in trying to justify this terrible piece of legislation. I guess I would like to hear some specific responses to questions, following your advice, that we have attempted to pose to the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Ferraro: This is the first opportunity in weeks I have had to expel some of the frustration that I have experienced, having listened to the members opposite. I say that with great respect. It is unfortunate that they do not want to listen to the facts. But let me conclude this way, because I do not want to unnecessarily antagonize members opposite and I am sure they want to ask me a lot of important questions, in which case they will not like the answers, but they want to ask them anyway.
Suffice it to say, and the bottom line is, that time will prove out, we think, that Bill 68 is acceptable to the people of Ontario. I said this once before, having listened to members opposite week after week condemning this legislation, scaring seniors, scaring anybody who has to buy insurance in the province and who has to pay for that insurance with the bad news that they are promoting. If it is so bad, they should be happy that Bill 68 is going to pass, because that will upset all these people and the members opposite will be proven right. But I say to you, Mr Chairman, with great respect to the members opposite, that we are confident that the vast majority of people in Ontario will be happy with Bill 68, and that is the real reason they do not want this bill to pass.
Mr Philip: I have a series of questions based on the parliamentary assistant’s statements. First, he says that he has done a comparison with each of the provinces, and then he says that if this bill had not passed, there would have been an increase of at least 30% in premiums. We are told by the minister that for my constituents it will be between 5% and 50% with this legislation, so I do not know where the benefit is. But I ask him if he has done a comparison of the premiums for equal insurance from one province to another. Can he project what the premiums will be in this province compared to a city of equal size with equal coverage, like Vancouver, in other jurisdictions, including Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia? Can he give us those comparisons? Has he done those comparisons?
Mr Ferraro: As I indicated, we have studied insurance schemes, for lack of a better word, in other jurisdictions and, in our view, picked the best parts out of those jurisdictions where we thought it would be beneficial for the people of Ontario.
I want to clarify what the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale said. What the minister has said, what this government is saying, is that with the passage of Bill 68 there will be an average increase in the greater Metropolitan Toronto-Hamilton area of 8% and that in other areas, non-urban areas essentially, there will be 0% increase. We stand by that, and it goes without saying that some people who have expensive cars and who live in urban areas will be paying more for their insurance. It also goes without saying that everyone knows when you are dealing with averaging, a substantial number of drivers in Ontario will get reductions. That is a reality.
But one thing that is acknowledged by most rational people who are concerned about insurance in the province of Ontario is that if Bill 68 was not passed or, let me be quite candid, if we did nothing, there is a range from all actuarial studies of 29% to 44% increases for everyone. I am not talking about average; I am talking about for everyone. We have taken 30%. If the member opposite wants to dispute that, then that certainly is his right.
The only thing I can tell him specifically with regard to his question is, to compare a particular jurisdiction requires a significant degree of adjustment. The member would say, for example, we should take Vancouver and compare it to Toronto. Then you would subsequently have to adjust it and, depending on the actuary, I am sure you would have a distinction in conclusions. The member would know full well that even in Ontario, there is a significant distinction between rates, not only between urban areas but in parts of Ontario, northern Ontario as opposed to southern Ontario and so forth.
The short answer is, I am not sure it would do a heck of a lot of good to take a particular city and then apply all these variables and adjustments to it. Suffice to say that, on average, when Bill 68 comes in, we think the province of Ontario will be quite competitive with other jurisdictions.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman --
Mr J. M. Johnson: I thought it was in rotation.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, that is true.
Mr Philip: I thought I am allowed at least a supplementary. That is the normal procedure. What the parliamentary assistant has said is that he has been afraid, and that is the history of this government. It has been afraid to do a comparison with those provinces that have owner-operated insurance. If the Liberals wanted to be truthful in this House, they know from their own constituents -- any of them who have come from other jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Manitoba or Saskatchewan -- that their insurance premiums skyrocketed when they came to Ontario and that they will skyrocket under this legislation.
What are the Liberals so afraid of that they cannot compare with other jurisdictions? The Globe and Mail can compare with other jurisdictions, but this ministry, with its whole bureaucracy and the extra bureaucracy it has built up at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer, cannot do a comparison. The only reason it does not want to do a comparison is that it has the answer that its ventriloquists, the insurance companies, do not like. That is why it does not want to do a comparison. The Globe and Mail does not have to worry about the insurance companies. It does not answer to the insurance companies, so it can do a comparison, and its comparison shows that it is cheaper in those three provinces.
I ask the parliamentary assistant why he cannot take cities of equal size, look at the accident rate in each of those cities and then compare rates. That seems like a simple thing to do. The only reason he cannot do it is that he is afraid to do it. He will not get the answers that the insurance companies like. That is why he does not want to do it.
Mr Ferraro: I guess in part my response should be that the member is wrong, just wrong. First of all, the only city in Canada in which there can be a legitimate, if you will, comparison that would not require significant adjustment, so much so that it would make any findings totally irrelevant and illogical, would be Montreal. So if you are going to do a comparison between Toronto, as the member asked, and any other city in Canada, it would have to be Montreal, and only Montreal, to have any bearing.
The member would also know that Quebec -- and the city of Montreal -- has a pure no-fault system. The system that we are going to hopefully pass this week is a threshold no-fault system. Therefore, you cannot really compare the two.
I will finish with this, and I know they are just dying to hear this. The member is asking for more government study and more actuarial reports, and the member opposite, indeed members of the opposition, went on at great length during the public hearings to criticise the government because we spent $250,000 on the 39 reports, to some degree, that we received.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is this a final supplementary?
Mr Philip: Did they do the proper studies in the beginning, not these phoney studies that they have done, not the studies that are going to prove what they want them to prove? Even using their own studies, the ones that they did not want to give to the public, that we had to force out of them, we have shown that the public does not want this bill, because when it gets in to examine their research, it knows just how terrible this legislation is.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Could the parliamentary assistant give me some answers pertaining to my riding, a rural riding, as he well knows. Farmers on permanent disability get $600 a week for a maximum. Is that correct? Not a farmer -- anyone.
Mr Ferraro: They will get 80% of their earnings, I say to the member opposite. I acknowledge that it is sometimes a little more difficult to deal with farm income, per se. If he wants me to be more explicit, I can refer to the bill’s particular section whereby it is delineated how farm income will be determined.
Suffice to say, and I apologize for being somewhat lengthy, that in dealing with farm income, farmers and self-employed people in particular, it does pose a significant problem because of the infrequency, if you will, of a regular paycheque. So other considerations have to be made, and the ministry is endeavouring in the regulations to expand on the present regulatory framework therein in order to accommodate a greater degree of fairness.
Mr J. M. Johnson: The farmers in the past few years have been faced with very low commodity prices, high interest and many factors contributing to very low income. If this bill is designed in such a way that the income for the last few years is taken into consideration, it is going to be extremely difficult. I would hope that the government would give consideration to the cost to the farmer to have to replace his labour, his management skills on the farm, and not based just on income that he has had in the past few years, because through no fault of his own, he could have had very low income. It certainly would be unfair to only use that for the criteria. I hope the government will give consideration to a very broad interpretation of income replacement.
Mr Ferraro: I am sensitive to the real concerns being expressed by the member for Wellington. I know that he is certainly sincere about his concerns in dealing with those in the agricultural community, as we all share many of those concerns.
I would say to the member opposite that there is, at least -- and I know this is not much to add on, quite frankly. There is a minimum amount now of $235. There is also, and I guess he is going to have to trust me with this, a sincere attempt being made to look at the aspect, as I indicated, of how one justifies, from the standpoint of getting the no-fault benefit, the amount of income that a farmer, in this particular case, receives.
I should point out that, unlike situations under the present circumstances where self-employed people or farmers who do not have extra or optional insurance and indeed may be at fault through a momentary lapse or whatever, they would be in a much more precarious position than in this particular case. Although not high enough perhaps in the case of a farmer or a self-employed individual, the income will also be distributed within 10 days, which should alleviate to some degree the concerns as well as the necessary $1 million in rehabilitation care that they may need in order to get back into a position where they can work again.
Mr Kormos: Let me make something clear. We in the New Democratic Party have always been advocates of a strong no-fault component. Indeed, it was the insistence of New Democrats that created the no-fault system in this province well over 10 years ago. The government of the day did not see fit to index those no-fault benefits, especially the income replacement component of those no-faults, which are in every insurance policy covering every automobile in Ontario right now.
There is nothing new about no-fault insurance, and for the Liberals to dare suggest that somehow they have come across something new is not only bizarre but dishonest.
New Democrats in Ontario fought for no-fault components as a part of the standard auto insurance policy here in Ontario, just like New Democrats created strong no-fault components in British Columbia, in the driver-owned non-profit insurance system there; in Saskatchewan where driver-owned non-profit system has been in existence since 1946, when Tommy Douglas created the first driver-owned non-profit auto insurance system. Saskatchewan, just like British Columbia, just like Manitoba, has been able to consistently, over the years, provide auto insurance coverage for its residents at a rate cheaper, far less expensive than we have ever seen here Ontario.
Those jurisdictions have been the victims of rising costs, just like everywhere else. The premiums have gone up in British Columbia, in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba. But notwithstanding that they have increased from year to year to reflect increased cost, they are still the least expensive automobile insurance premiums in the whole country and in the history of any province, and certainly significantly cheaper, significantly less expensive than right here in Ontario. That is at the same time that provinces like British Columbia have provided no-fault components in their coverage far in excess of anything that Ontario has ever enjoyed.
So we as New Democrats believe in no-fault coverage. All that means is that regardless of who caused the accident, an injured person is entitled to wage replacement and is entitled to speedy provision of medical and rehabilitative expenses. That is all no-faults are: that every injured person, be he at fault or not at fault, be entitled to that. It is as simple as that. That is what happens in British Columbia.
Indeed, if the Minister of Financial Institutions had bothered to come to those hearings, he would have heard from people involved in the system that here in Ontario there have always been troubles, expense and hurdles to overcome before victims can squeeze any no-faults out of their insurers. One witness who had done a whole lot of that type of work was asked, "Where is it any better?" The witness said, "In British Columbia," where no-fault benefits are provided speedily, without the hassle, without the red tape, without the litigation, without the legal expenses.
It is one of the characteristics of a public, driver-owned, non-profit system where there is accountability in a Legislative Assembly. You do not have to fight for your no-faults in British Columbia, in Manitoba or in Saskatchewan, because the drivers own those systems. Here in Ontario people have had to fight for their no-faults for as long as no-faults have been in existence -- over a decade now -- and they are going to have to fight even harder if the Liberals pass Bill 68.
But at the same time as we in the New Democratic Party believe strongly that there must be a no-fault component in any auto insurance system, we similarly believe that to arbitrarily deny innocent injured victims compensation for their pain and suffering or for their loss of enjoyment of life is unfair. It is cruel. It is quite frankly obscene in view of the fact that the denial in Bill 68 of compensation for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life by innocent injured victims is designed only to create hardship for those victims and incredible new profits for the auto insurance industry, profits in the first year alone in excess of $1 billion, every penny of that $1 billion seized from innocent injured victims. That is what the threshold is all about.
It is so thoroughly, despicably dishonest to call this no-fault insurance when in fact what we are dealing with is threshold insurance. We have had no-faults in Ontario at the insistence of the NDP, and in the three western public schemes because of their very nature, for in excess of a decade. There is simply no doubt about it. What is new about Bill 68, and what creates the incredible new profits for the corporate insurance industry, big chunks of them not even Ontario residents -- we are talking about an insurance industry big chunks of which are controlled by American megacorporations -- is we are talking about a threshold system that is designed to prohibit, prevent or deny innocent injured victims the right to be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
That means that not only, oh yes, the modest injury -- and we have talked about this before -- the sprained wrist, the sprained ankle, the minor cuts or bruises that heal promptly, will be denied any compensation, but so will the broken back, the broken arm, the broken legs, the fractured skull, the fractured ribs. They are going to be denied compensation because of this threshold. That is what this system is all about.
We categorically reject a threshold as a component of an insurance system that ought to be fair, that ought to be just, that ought to be reasonable. At the same time, we are so fearful of the drastic consequences that are going to flow from Bill 68 that it means we reluctantly support the amendments proposed with respect to loosening up or broadening or, if you will, liberalizing the threshold. The threshold that was created and drafted by the insurance industry in this province and by its Liberal lackeys is the most draconian, onerous, stringent threshold of any auto insurance system anywhere. It is more stringent, more demanding, more unjust than the threshold even of a jurisdiction like Michigan, upon which large parts of this bill were modelled.
The threshold that is drafted by the Liberals and that they want to ram through is going to create such hardship for so many people that, notwithstanding that we are fundamentally opposed to any threshold for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life -- that is to say, fundamentally opposed to the denial of compensation to any innocent injured victim -- we are prepared to support and vote on behalf of some amendments proposed here which will ease some of the pain being imposed upon victims by the Liberals, which will soothe some of the gross discomfort being generated by the insurance industry and its hacks here at Queen’s Park, which will not resolve that overriding injustice of there being any threshold but will indeed permit perhaps a few more people to be compensated than would be compensated otherwise.
The Liberals could have had all sorts of help but they scorned people, like Mr Justice Barr, who came before them with proposals. As Mr Justice Barr pointed out -- and I am paraphrasing – "You’re damn fools, you’re idiots, for wanting to utilize a threshold, but if you’ve got to be that foolish, that stupid, that idiotic, that uncaring, at least loosen it up a little bit, at least soften the blow of the threshold." Mr Justice Barr drafted a threshold similar to the amendments that are before this committee of the whole now. I am inclined to use somewhat visceral language sometimes in getting to the heart of the issue. Mr Justice Barr was far more eloquent than I could ever be. Mr Justice Barr was far more precise than I could ever be. As a learned jurist, his criticism of this legislation was far more --
Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I notice that the member for Welland-Thorold has been speaking for 15 minutes now. With respect, as the spokesperson for the Progressive Conservative caucus, I would in fairness ask consideration that we get an opportunity to place on the record our amendments. I recognize that the member for Welland-Thorold has had a number of hours on his feet in this House and I recognize the sincerity of his concern, but I too, on behalf of the disabled community particularly, would like to be able to place some amendments.
The Acting Chair: That is not really a point of order, but it is an interesting point of view. I have been listening carefully to the comments of the member for Welland-Thorold and they have been on the amendment under consideration, which is the no-fault principle. I would ask simply that the member for Welland-Thorold take your point of view under consideration in his remarks.
Mr Kormos: I appreciate the interjection by my good friend the member for Mississauga South, for whom I have great respect and admiration, and I appreciate her concern that she will not have an opportunity to speak to these matters. As it is, I was just wrapping up my comments on threshold and no-faults. I wanted to make our position perfectly clear. I know that the member for Mississauga South is pleased that we will be supporting her amendments. I know she is virtually ecstatic about that.
With respect to this amendment, my remarks are as they are. It illustrates how inadequate this short period of time is for discussion of the legislation. I have to ask people, please, we are just not in a position to accept phone calls and fax messages this afternoon. It appears that some phone calls and fax messages have started coming in. We are only going to be doing this for another 45 minutes because that is all that the Liberals will let us. So I am not going to announce the phone numbers -- obviously people recall them -- but I should say they are of course welcome to call. I am pleased to hear from them. I am just surprised and amazed, and so thankful, that people once again are faxing in messages and telephoning us.
Mr Ferraro: I will try to be brief, bearing in mind the concerns of the member for Mississauga South.
I am absolutely delighted that the interjection will prohibit the Peter Kormos telethon from taking off again. I should tell the member opposite that the period in which he was filibustering the bill and had his telethon, people were suggesting that Tammy Faye had found a new partner. It got so bad that my father, who religiously watched the hearings of the House, has now become addicted to The Young and the Restless. In fact, a lot of people in Ontario think the member for Welland-Thorold had a serial on. Some people suggested that instead of calling it The Young and the Restless, they should call it the Young and the Shameless. Some people suggested there should be a theme song entitled These Boots Are Made For Talking.
But let me try to address more specifically some of the concerns alluded to. He is wrong. Purely and simply, he is wrong. I acknowledge the distinction in ideology between the socialist New Democratic Party and the free-enterprise-promoting Liberal Party of Ontario. We believe in the private sector, the free enterprise system, and actively support it. I do not want to get into a debate, because it would take days and days, about the negative aspects of socialist insurance in other provinces and how millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is used annually to subsidize. Indeed if there are innocent accident victims, the victims are the premium payers, quite frankly, because the majority if not all of the insureds pay, in some degree, for the bad driving records of others.
It is interesting that he talks, by innuendo, about members of my party being hacks of the insurance companies. That is regrettable and, I say with great respect to my friends opposite, it is totally unsubstantiated and regrettable that, in order to get a point across, or perhaps get a headline, they would so demean fellow members in this House and as such, I suggest with great respect, demean the position that the member opposite himself holds.
From a personal standpoint, I am a hack for no one. In the last election, I got $700 from insurance companies and I got $2,600 from lawyers. We all know what happens and how lawyers feel about this legislation. Having said all that, I think it should be proof positive that we are not in the pockets of anyone.
It is interesting that the member referred to American insurance megacorporations.
Mr Kormos: Over four million bucks in over two years.
The Acting Chair: Order. I would remind the member for Welland-Thorold of standing order 23. Perhaps, rather than disrupting the proceedings, he would care to read it.
Mr Mackenzie: He’s being provoked, Mr Chairman. He’s got to respond if someone’s being provocative.
Mr Ferraro: If I am being provocative, Mr Chairman, I am not sure what the member opposite has been for the last few months. It is interesting that members opposite will quote on occasion the fact that the American, the respected man, Ralph Nader, has been here on occasion and has criticized our proposed bill. It is interesting to note, and I say factually, that Mr Nader, it is well-known fact, is employed by, to some degree is on contract with, the American Trial Lawyers Association. Now, would that imply that there is a conflict of interest? I suggest that is something for the people of Ontario as individuals to make their own subjective decisions on.
I want to say this, though: It is interesting -- and this is factual -- that when Mr Nader first came up here he did not even know that we had a system of OHIP in the province of Ontario. Yet members of the opposition will stand up on occasion and pronounce how he is dead set against this, that indeed it obviously must be bad if Ralph Nader is against it, notwithstanding the fact that he may be perceived by some as having a bias in the situation. But I say, on a very personal note, that it is somewhat troublesome to me that we have to listen to the members of the opposition expound the words of an American as to how we should run our country. To me it is just something regrettable. That is just what we need, more Americans to talk about how we should run our country.
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: The parliamentary assistant is in fact spreading misinformation about somebody who is fairly well respected in the world; namely, Ralph Nader. If Mr Nader did not know that there was an OHIP system in Ontario, how could he say that this was the worst system because --
The Acting Chair: Order. Will the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale please take his chair. That is not a point of order, and you have had ample time to express your point of view.
Mr Ferraro: I say with great candour to the member opposite that I have not spread any misinformation whatsoever. Indeed, I would be happy to substantiate what I have said about Mr Nader’s comments thereon.
I have heard on occasion all too often the fact that there is a $1-billion giveaway to insurance companies. It is absolutely false and wrong to even suggest such a thing. I am not sure, but I think even socialists understand the way business acumen works in a free enterprise province such as Ontario. If there is a cost associated with the operation of a business -- I will even use their figures, and even then they are wrong -- if there is $1 billion in costs, the business owner passes that cost on to the consumer. So if there is cost they should pass it on, because quite frankly they are not in the business to go broke. Obviously the socialists cannot comprehend that form of free enterprise system, because they keep saying, "If there is not a cost, then automatically it never got passed on to the consumer." Of course we all know, and anyone of reasonable business acumen would understand, that if there are cost savings they will be passed on, to some degree, to the consumers.
Finally, I would say that Bill 68, in our view, is not only a balanced approach to dealing with the problem, the made-in-Ontario solution to dealing with the insurance issue, but indeed when it is passed, notwithstanding all the negatives and, to some degree, mistruths being portrayed and presented by members opposite, we will fully acknowledge and accept the challenge that the people of Ontario will for the most part be quite happy and relieved with Bill 68.
Mrs Marland: This debate today is almost embarrassing.
We are in a situation where the government has decided that the matter of automobile insurance in this province rates only two days of public debate by the members of this House. While we are in that process, I notice that we somehow have a system where the government gets to respond to each of the opposition members, so that means that a lot of time is being used, and can be used, by the government in response to each one of the opposition parties.
I am going to try to get to the important amendments that our Progressive Conservative caucus wants placed on the record as quickly as possible. I would like to tell the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, that this is a far more serious matter before this House this afternoon than what his father watches on television. Frankly, I think it is a little insulting to the people of Ontario that he takes up the time of this House to tell us that his father is now watching The Young and the Restless. I say, with respect, that this debate, which is already confined and limited to two days only on this most serious matter, does not need to involve listening to the television viewing schedule of the father of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
I would also like to place on the record that I do not know the answer to his response about whether or not he is a hack of the insurance industry. I only know that I held a public forum on automobile insurance. I know that at that public forum on automobile insurance in my riding the president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario announced the increase in the weekly compensation from $450, as written in the bill, up to the $600 a week. Spurge Near made that announcement at my public forum before the Minister of Financial Institutions made the announcement publicly. The day the news release --
The Acting Chair: Order. The member for Mississauga South has waited patiently to get the floor. I am sure the members would like to extend to her the same courtesy as has been extended to other members while they were trying to debate this issue.
Mrs Marland: The news release that was issued by the Minister of Financial Institutions on 28 February, where he announced the increase in the weekly compensation and the other benefits, and where he said the replacement benefit would be increased from $450 to $600, it was just a little curious that that announcement was made by the minister one or two days after the president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario had made that announcement at my public forum on insurance.
People can draw their own conclusions about who knows what is going on. I am down here in Queen’s Park every day. I certainly had not heard that was a possibility, and I would suggest that quite a number of the Liberal government backbenchers did not know it either. But the people in the inner circle of this Liberal provincial government, who are in the inner circle with the insurance brokers of Ontario, obviously have talked to each other. Frankly, I am somewhat insulted for the people who reside in Mississauga South, my riding, and the other people throughout this province who expect to hear announcements from the provincial government at least at the same time as those parties which are affected and involved by those announcements. I would suggest that yes, the insurance brokers of Ontario are involved and affected by those announcements, but are not the people of this province also affected and also entitled to know what is going on within the inner workings of this provincial Liberal government?
But no, in this case the insurance brokers of Ontario had prior knowledge and the inside track on a change in the legislation. I might add that when this bill was in committee the minister said there would be no major changes or amendments to this bill. Yet here was a major amendment that was not announced in committee but after all the public hearings were over. Yet we, the general public, had to hear about it from the insurance brokers of Ontario.
Because of the shortage of time, Mr Chairman, I would like for us to move to another Progressive Conservative amendment. Now I recognize that, for the amendment that is on the floor, the vote is being stacked for an hour from now. We have a number of very critical, serious amendments to Bill 68. but unfortunately we are not going to be able to place them all and get them recorded or even debated. So I would take your guidance as to how I can move to the next priority amendment for our Progressive Conservative caucus. I would perhaps suggest that we defer the amendment we are currently on, the amendment to subsection 231a(1) and that we defer dealing with the next amendments, to clause 231a(1)(a), and move to the following amendment, which is to clause 231a(1)(b). I would request that we now deal with that amendment.
The Acting Chair: The member for Mississauga South has requested that we defer discussion on the amendment dealing with clause 231a(1)(a) and that we move to the amendment dealing with clause 231a(1)(b). Is it the wish of the House that we so do?
Mr Philip: I think it would probably be a good suggestion, but I did have a couple of questions on this one section. Then perhaps we can move on after that. It will take only two or three minutes. I am concerned about the exclusion for psychological damage. Therefore, I would be quite prepared to move along after that, if that would be agreed to.
The Acting Chair: Do we have agreement of the House that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will be able to place one or two questions and then we move on to clause 231a(1)(b)?
Mr Philip: I appreciate the co-operation on this from the member for Mississauga South.
The parliamentary assistant to the minister was boasting earlier about how a university student standing on the street corner who gets knocked over and loses a year of university will now get paid. Will he tell us exactly how much -- just in case someone is viewing and does not know exactly the amount -- that university student will get if he loses a year of schooling? How much per week?
Mr Ferraro: The minimum is $185 per week.
Mr Philip: Can the parliamentary assistant tell us what the minimum wage is in Ontario at the present time?
Mr Ferraro: In response to that, I wish to point out that under the present legislation that university student would get nothing. Indeed, the $185 is exclusive of any deductions; comparable in essence. I am told, to the minimum wage in Ontario, which I think would be the equivalent of about $235 gross.
Mr Philip: Under the present system the student could sue for the loss of his year. He would get, at the very least, some compensation for pain and suffering. Part of the consideration would be the fact that he would lose one year of salary, either at the beginning or at the end of his career, as a result of this accident. He would get a heck of a lot more than the minimum wage, which is what this is giving.
Mr D. W. Smith: How do you know, Ed?
Mr Philip: I ask him, does he feel that the students in Ontario are worth less than the minimum wage? Because this is what he is doing and what he has the audacity to boast about.
Mr Ferraro: Notwithstanding that the member opposite is getting somewhat exercised over less-than-factual information, in my view, let me try to relieve some of the concerns that might be derived by the public which might be watching at this point in time.
Under the present system, if a student gets into an accident, he essentially gets nothing. If indeed he can go to court, wait the four or five years and prove that he is not at fault, which in itself may be a problem -- or if he cannot prove it at all, then he does not have that access to court and he gets absolutely nothing. And what happens if a student is at fault in an accident? He gets zero, quite frankly.
Under the proposed system, students get a minimum of $185. Perhaps more important, they would get quick, substantive action and access to $1 million in rehabilitative care. Such notable orthopaedic surgeons as Hamilton Hall say it is important if not imperative that quick rehabilitative care be applied in order to restore that individual to the situation that individual was in before the accident.
For the member opposite to suggest that the present system is better than what is being proposed, I suggest, is wrong. Indeed, there is no doubt in my mind and in the mind of our government that the individuals involved in accidents will be treated much more equitably and fairly under the proposed system.
Mr Philip: It is interesting that he has not referred to what they get in other, real, no-fault systems rather than in this phoney, so-called no-fault system that he has. What he is telling the students in Ontario is that if, through no fault of their own as they are on their way to York University or the University of Toronto, they get knocked over by a drunk driver or somebody who is completely negligent, they have lost their right to sue, and for their compensation for all their pain and suffering and everything they are going through, plus losing a year’s salary, they are going to get less than the minimum wage. That is what this bill does, and he has the audacity to boast about that. I say that is shameful. No wonder the students, the consumers and every group other than his bosses, the insurance companies, are against this legislation.
Mr Ferraro: Whatever it was the member said, suffice it to say that he is wrong. There is no compensation whatsoever right now for students. In the event that they are not at fault and they want access to tort, and indeed they can wait four or five years to get, conceivably, a favourable ruling from the judge, which in itself is hypothetical, and assuming they can afford from a mental, physical and financial standpoint to wait that period of time, yes, they might get some remuneration.
I suggest that for every example the member opposite can show of what he described as an injustice I can give him an example of an elderly couple who waited four years for a settlement, and when they got their settlement of $85,000 four years later, after having gone through the trauma, the expense and the anguish of waiting that long, the legal expense was $87,000 -- in excess of what the courts actually granted. Is that fair and equitable? Is that justice? I suggest that the member opposite is absolutely wrong.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, please. My understanding was that the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale would be allowed one or two questions. I know the honourable member for Mississauga South will allow the honourable member for Lake Nipigon one brief question and then we will continue with her proposed amendment.
Mr Pouliot: I thank the member for being most gracious.
On the same proposed amendment, perhaps the parliamentary assistant will remember somewhat vividly that we had a conversation regarding the minimum wage, which is currently $5 an hour, vis-à-vis the compensation that was originally proposed by the government in the context of Bill 68. I remember specifically that he did readily acquiesce. He said, "Yes, something has to be done," the rationale, the substance being that if he were outside these walls, it would be against the law to compensate, because we were talking about lost opportunity, lost ability to earn wages. Ironically, if he were outside these walls, he could not, because the law would say that he must compensate for labour a minimum of $5 an hour.
It is not his fault, but in lieu of this the government has minimum recognition that there is any such terminology. The parliamentary assistant said, "What is being proposed is just not enough, and we will upgrade it to make it at least more than minimum wage." He did so with the case of Maria. Does he remember Maria? We did it together. She is the Portuguese lady who was cleaning the rooms of the Royal York and got run over and was deprived of her right to make a living.
He said: "Well, there is a human dimension. We are talking about real people." Yet when we crossed the street right this afternoon -- Maria’s son, in this case hypothetically, goes to university, and we know what the cost of going to university is. Unless it is catastrophic and permanent, we say that in most cases it has been determined that you will not have recourse, you will not have access to the court or the right to sue.
In this day and age, the parliamentary assistant knows how much it costs to live. He has children himself. I am trying to be fair here. But $185 a week is not 40 hours at a designated workplace constituting a week’s work. That would give you $200 a week under the very minimum minimum wage.
It is not a matter of playing tough here. The government has invoked closure. They have allowed for only two days. I can accept that there were other circumstances associated with this measure, but what I cannot understand is that they lack consistency in their approach. Is the member listening? I will pay him the compliment of listening to his answer, and I hope it has the same sincerity attached to it.
In concluding, $185 a week does not even mean the minimum wage. It is not consistent. The government is skate-boarding and forgetting one very important segment. Their rationale is, since these people do not make a wage, since they do not work -- for if they were to work, they would at least get the minimum wage -- since they are not considered "the workforce," they will compensate them at less than minimum wage, although they are university students, although the minimum wage would only guarantee them $10,000 a year.
I am interested in the parliamentary assistant’s response.
Mr Ferraro: I say to my friend opposite, I know he is sincere. We have discussed this at length, and I was listening. I really was. Let me respond in this way and I will try to clarify, I think, some of the apprehension that he sincerely believes.
First of all, I say to my friend opposite, a student now gets zero, absolutely zero from a no-fault benefits standpoint. I acknowledge that, indeed, if they are so inclined under the present system, and mentally and physically and financially want to have the access to the court system, it exists now.
I suggest to you, Mr Chairman, it is in those less serious cases more important that we provide an income replacement and rehabilitative care and access to the necessary medical treatment required by that student to get that student back into the position he was in before the accident than to allow him the access to the courts in that regard.
The member is wrong in that he says it is not minimum wage. The $185 -- and maybe he is not listening now -- is net of deductions. The aggregate amount is $235. The minimum wage, using his own figures, would be $200. So I say with respect to my friend opposite that indeed it is comparable, if not slightly above minimum wage and, I acknowledge, not high enough perhaps. But it goes without saying that his concern in that regard may be somewhat alleviated.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that clause 231 a(1)(b) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(b) permanent or serious impairment caused by physical, psychological or mental injury."
Mrs Marland: I think what has to be really significant is that we had a number of very important amendments to this bill in the Progressive Conservative Party.
The way the time is fleeting in this minimal short-change of two days of debate -- we should be very clear, for the sake of the public and for the sake of the record, that two days of debate does not mean two days; it means two sessions of approximately two and a half hours each. So we are looking at having a total of five hours spent on this legislation whereby we have an opportunity to amend this seriously flawed bill.
I know my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville, who is the spokesperson for the Ministry of Financial Institutions, is sharing the same level of frustration that I am that here we are, trying to represent the interests of the people of this province, when the current provincial Liberal government does not, and it brings forward a bill that is as seriously flawed as Bill 68 is. Here we are with our significant number of amendments and we are having to select. We are trying to prioritize.
In dealing with this particular amendment, I think it is important to explain that the threshold definition currently in this bill specifically excludes emotional and mental injury. When emotional and mental injuries are compensated under our Ontario health insurance plan and recognized by anyone in the health care field -- all the specialists, all the physicians and certainly all the people, obviously, in the Ministry of Health, because emotional and mental injuries are eligible under OHIP -- how is it that this Liberal government drafts a piece of legislation where suddenly they do not exist, they do not matter any more and they are not rated?
People who sustain that kind of injury now are nobody. How ludicrous, how shameful, how irresponsible can this Liberal government be? It is totally disgusting that the people of Ontario who have emotional and mental injuries as a result of automobile accidents are suddenly disfranchised. These people are betrayed.
In fact, I would like to quote from the Canadian Paraplegic Association, which did appear before the legislative committee. They have put their concerns on record, but again this Liberal government chose to ignore them. The major concerns of the Canadian Paraplegic Association are with the inadequacies in the definition of the threshold above which a person injured in an accident would receive compensation for loss or damage.
Section 231a of the bill establishes the threshold to be:
"(a) permanent serious disfigurement; or
"(b) permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature."
"Physical in nature." Since when does the other kind of injury not matter? William Hoch, the executive director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, said in the hearings on 10 January 1990 -- we are talking about four months ago -- that "permanent serious" should read "permanent or serious," "continuing" should be omitted, and either "physical in nature" should be omitted or "mental, emotional or psychological" should be added to "physical" in that phrase.
I also want to refer to Barbara Turnbull, who is a constituent of mine. Barbara is a quadriplegic. Most people know the tragic story about Barbara and the injuries she sustained being shot at while she worked at a Mac’s milk store. The injuries she sustained rendered her a quadriplegic six years ago. This is a very courageous, wonderful young woman who is an inspiration to all of us.
Barbara Turnbull appeared before this legislative committee and reiterated the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s concerns with the threshold during her presentation to the legislative committee. She even went further and met with the Minister of Financial Institutions herself. She stressed that the benefits paid under the plan must be indexed to the inflation rate and should be available as a lump sum rather than in periodic payments.
This Liberal government minister ignored someone who had been there. She lives every day with that injury that she sustained in a very brutal manner, albeit not as a result of an automobile accident, but the same kind of debilitating injury that people who are in automobile accidents do sustain.
This is where the irony is. We have a situation with this bill where an at-fault driver can cause an injury to me or my passengers, yet the injury may not pass the threshold of this bill and therefore we cannot sue for compensation. But I can pull up at the service station with those passengers in my car and they can step out of the vehicle and sustain an injury on the property of that service station, or on other public or private property -- they may run into a department store; they may be on some municipal sidewalk -- they can sustain an injury for which they can in turn sue for justifiable compensation, but not if they are injured in the car. What a fallacy. Did anybody ever think that any government would come up with anything that was so unreasonable and so ridiculous and so terribly unjust?
I want to continue, just to put on the record something else that the Canadian Paraplegic Association said, because I think we have to remember that when we are talking about automobile insurance and accidents resulting from being in an automobile accident, when we buy insurance we are not buying insurance for the fender benders. If we were, we would be smarter to put our $1,000, $1,200, $1,400 or $1,500 that we spend on insurance in the bank and let it gain some interest for us. We are buying insurance to protect us against the worst possible cases.
I would suggest that when William Hoch speaks for the Canadian Paraplegic Association those people know at first hand what the worst possible circumstances are. He said:
"Without these changes, many victims who suffer serious economic losses as a result of automobile accidents will receive insufficient compensation or possibly no compensation at all. Why should a victim who suffers a very serious but not permanent injury be denied assistance? As well, why should there be a distinction between physical and mental, psychological and emotional disability? Any disability sustained as a result of an accident may cause severe loss or damage. It is also important that victims receive a lump-sum payment to cover the enormous costs of home and vehicle modifications, attendant care and the education required so that they may secure employment."
When I was speaking on this subject, I also added to Mr Hoch’s comments that large expenditures in these areas are essential for those suffering injuries to enjoy some quality of life. According to the Canadian Paraplegic Association, a $1.2-million to $1.5-million lump-sum payment provides a subsistent but reasonable level of existence to its clients.
Also, nowhere do we see a willingness of this government to have indexation for inflation. So in regard to the great announcements about what kind of compensation these people who cannot sue are going to have to depend on, that amount of money is limited.
The Second Deputy Chair: One minute.
Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I was not aware that we were limiting our comments to the amendments. The member for Welland-Thorold earlier this afternoon spoke for 23 minutes without being timed, and at this point I have been speaking since --
The Second Deputy Chair: Not quite 10 minutes, actually.
Mrs Marland: Pardon?
The Second Deputy Chair: You have not been speaking for 10 minutes yet.
Mrs Marland: No.
The Second Deputy Chair: But I have been watching the time. I did not realize the member for Welland-Thorold had spoken for 23 minutes. When I was in the chair I let him speak for 10 minutes, because in terms of the committee of the whole House, our procedure is questions and comments.
Mrs Marland: I know.
The Second Deputy Chair: I let him comment for 10 minutes; now I am letting you comment for 1O minutes. If the previous Chair let him go on, I apologize for that, but I think in terms of what we are trying to accomplish by 5:30, I will give you two more minutes, allow a response, allow a rotation and then you might, if we can work this out, have the opportunity of concluding.
Mrs Marland: Okay. I recognize it is a problem when we are changing Chairs and you are not aware of what had gone on before you. But I think, in fairness, this party has not had any opportunity to place anything on the record.
I want to also add, in speaking to the amendment that I have now placed, that the requirement that the injury be physical in nature is discriminatory. Psychological injuries including depression, anxiety and pain disorders are real and legitimately disabling. I also want to quote from subsection 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states, and this is terribly important to this debate, even if the Liberal government does not want to listen, "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."
If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms can recognize mental disability, how is it that this Liberal government drafts a bill that excludes those people from their rights?
Mr Faubert: Nonsense.
Mrs Marland: I would be embarrassed to be the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who says "Nonsense." I hope his constituents remember those constituents who are emotionally and psychologically injured and debilitated who cannot have access because they cannot pass the threshold.
There is a good chance that Bill 68 is inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is the opinion expressed by Gordon Henderson, a noted constitutional expert and former colleague of the Attorney General. I know that my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville has asked that this bill be referred for a constitutional opinion. The very fact that in the Constitution it says there shall be no discrimination against people with mental disability -- how is it that this Liberal government can say that those kinds of injuries are not eligible under this legislation?
I think that this whole process of this Bill 68 is a shameful representation of a government not listening to its people. If the basic reason for Bill 68 is that we deal with the inflating cost of automobile insurance in this province, then let’s deal with it. But this does not stop the inflation of the insurance rates. In fact, they have already told us that this year the insurance rates will increase 8% to 9% in the greater Toronto area. What do we get for it? We get less protection, we get less opportunity for compensation of injuries that we or others sustain through being involved with automobile accidents.
I recognize that the time is so limited that I have to relinquish the floor, but if there is no other amendment in this entire bill that this Liberal government will accept, I plead that it recognizes that psychological and mental injury, which it recognizes through OHIP and any other claim under the health system, I plead with it on behalf of each one of us and all the 9.5 million people whom we represent in this province to support at least this amendment, because if it does not, there but for the grace of God go any one of us or our families, friends, constituents in this province who sustain that kind of injury and yet are not eligible to pass the threshold of Bill 68.
Mr Ferraro: Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I will do it somewhat briefly.
The member opposite, whom I respect very much, I am sure is sincere in what she says. I acknowledge that. But let me say without hesitation, in my view she does not fully understand what Bill 68 is all about.
If I might digress for a minute, because she has alluded to it on a number of occasions, she has seriously questioned the fact that we have only had two days for debate. That is regrettable and I know the members on the government side feel every bit as bad about it. But the reality of the situation is this: The record shows there was a filibuster on in this House that went on for 40 hours. The co-operation was not there that would allow normal, logical and much-needed debate from all parties in this House. That is factual. Having said all that, the government must proceed in the best interests of the people of Ontario. Unfortunately, we were limited subsequently to only two days’ debate.
The member for Mississauga South made a point, as have others, about talking about people whom we all admire and respect, such as Barbara Turnbull -- quadriplegics, paraplegics, people with debilitating and serious injuries and handicapped people. Indeed, as members from all parties will acknowledge, during the public hearings many, many people came in and made presentations. I say without question that most if not all of those people would still qualify for access to tort under this system. That is factual; without question that is factual. Nothing has changed, save and except they will be treated in a more humane and expeditious fashion. They not only still retain access to sue, access to court, but they will get access to income replacement and the no-fault benefits not only significantly or tremendously enhanced but indeed in a much quicker time frame. Those people whom the member opposite should be talking about at greater length are those people who have less serious injuries or who have emotional or psychological injury, and that has so often been discussed.
Let me say without equivocation that it does not preclude those people from access to the courts when there is a physical nexus attached to that mental or psychological injury. They can still sue, and that is factual. But those people, an admittedly substantively larger portion of those people who have psychological or physical injuries that are less serious, will have access not only to enhanced income replacement but to significantly enhanced rehabilitative and long-term care necessities.
Let me be more specific, if I may, because the opposition would suggest that these people have absolutely no access to compensation or access to courts, when I have said that they still have in certain cases access to courts. Supplementary medical? They get medical, psychological, surgical, dental, hospital, chiropractic, any necessary prosthesis, home renovations, transportation, as well as long-term care. If they need somebody to stay in their home, they get up to $3,000 a month so that a care giver will be there to look after those people who are somewhat debilitated until they are back on their feet.
We cannot accept this amendment. This amendment is more along the lines of the Michigan threshold system. This is a made-in-Ontario system. We acknowledge that this system would have, without question, a significant increase in premiums and that is something that the members opposite do not want to acknowledge, the cost factor involved in this. That is a reality. We would not even be talking about insurance if there was not an affordability and availability crisis in this province. We have addressed it.
The retention of access to tort still exists. The enhanced rehabilitation long-term care and no-fault benefits are substantively increased. Those people will get access to those no-fault benefits within 10 to 30 days. We stand on Bill 68 on the fact that the vast majority of people in Ontario and indeed the vast majority if not all of the drivers of Ontario will be treated in a much fairer, more equitable and certainly without question and, perhaps more important, more humane manner.
Mr Kormos: I am going to end up this committee of the whole with the briefest of comments, and it is in an effort to reveal the Tom Pepperism that has been coming from the government members, where there is a veritable Ananias over there speaking on behalf of the government, the member for Guelph. We have seen prevarication after prevarication.
I also want to thank those people who once again telephoned in to the lobby here -- the security staff spent a little bit of time answering the phones -- and who called into my office. It is incredible, but the fact remains that people are still listening anxiously to this debate notwithstanding that it is being strangled and that the breath is being choked out of it by the Liberal majority.
One of the faxes I got this afternoon indicates that a confidential source from the insurance industry called to let us know about the new rates under this Liberal scheme. The rates given are from Commercial Union for a class 026 primary driver, which apparently is a good driver with a good record. This is for territory 16, which is London, Ontario. The old rate is $431. The new rate that Commercial Union proposes to charge that same driver after Bill 68 is $592, a 37% increase. So much for the government’s claims about reductions or stability: a 37% premium increase in London, Ontario. That happens to be the truth, rather than the lies that have been coming from this government.
Mr Runciman: I certainly appreciate the opportunity of a few brief comments in respect to this element of the legislation which we think is perhaps the most onerous and the most harmful to innocent accident victims in this province.
I have only a minute or two, but I want to recall, for the members of the committee who sat on this and the members of the House who did not, the testimony of 18-year-old Jeremy Rempel, who appeared before the committee, an innocent accident victim who had suffered severe head injuries and was concerned about this element, which restricts compensation to those who have suffered physical injuries only and does not recognize those individuals who are going to suffer head injuries, psychological trauma etc. as a result of an automobile accident in this province.
Jeremy Rempel is someone who had no vested interest but was very much concerned about innocent accident victims in this province in the future. This government has decided, in an effort to keep costs down, to stabilize costs and to benefit the insurance industry in this province, to restrict those people from having an opportunity for access to the courts. That is the reality. Who benefits from this legislation? The reality is, if you look at the people who appeared before this committee, the only witnesses supportive of this legislation were either representatives of the insurance industry or those affiliated with the industry.
This legislation hurts people. Jeremy Rempel, an accident victim, recognized that. He appealed to us; he appealed to the Liberal members, the NDP members, the Conservative members. The Liberal members of that committee, the Liberal members of this Legislature, ignored Jeremy Rempel, ignored the many thousands of innocent accident victims who will suffer in the future under this legislation.
The Second Deputy Chair: By agreement on Monday, it was decided that we would pursue the clause-by-clause passage of Bill 68 contrary to the order of the House, which was 5:45 pm, but in the interest of the number of amendments we have and the length of the bill. So with that mind and also with further discussion, it was suggested -- if the parliamentary assistant would just listen for a moment -- that we could possibly have some block voting, which would dispense with a lot of sections quickly. What I would suggest is that for sections 1 and 2, we will call the two sections, call members in and then once we have the members in on the bell we could continue with our voting.
Sections I and 2:
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that sections 1 and 2 of Bill 68 carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Call in the members.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order. To remind members of the procedure that is taking place, this is committee of the whole House on Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, as according to designation of the order of the House, time allocation, but through agreement of all parties we are going to attempt to vote various sections in blocks.
I would like to remind all members that we have a number of proposed amendments and they will have to be patient with the table, so that we work our way through the bill and the amendments. [See appendix, page 1273, for amendments deemed to have been moved.]
We have called you in, first, for a vote on sections 1 and 2 of Bill 68.
The committee divided on whether sections 1 and 2 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 75; nays 24.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: We have a proposed government amendment to section 6h of the act. Of course, under the orders of the House, it is deemed to have been read.
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to section 6h of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to add section 6na to the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 3, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 4 to 36, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 4 to 36, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendments to clauses 98(l)(bg), (bh), (bl), (bm), (bn), (bo) and (bp) of the act, which were agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 37, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 37, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 38 to 44, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 38 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsections 45(10) and 45(11). which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 45, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 45, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether section 46 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 46 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to add subsection 2O8a(6) to the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendments to subsections 208b(1), 208c(1) and 208c(3) of the act, which were agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to clause 208c(4)(d) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to subsection 208c(5) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 208c(5) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 47, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 47, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether section 48 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 48 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to section 209a of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 49 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 49 agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 50 to 54, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 50 to 54, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to add subsection 230a(9) to the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 55, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 55, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether section 56 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 56 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr R. F. Johnson’s amendment to subsection 231a(1) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to subsection 231a(1)(a) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mrs Marland’s amendment to clause 231a(1)(b) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to subsection 231a(4) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to add subsection 231a(7) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to clause 231b(1)(c) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to clause 231b(l)(d) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to subsection 231b(6) of the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Runciman’s amendment to add subsections 232(1a), (1b) and (1c) to the act, which was negatived on the same vote reversed.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 232(2) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mt Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 232(5) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 57, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 57, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 58 to 62, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to section 239a of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 239b(1) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to add subsections 239b(4) and 239b(5) to the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 63, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 63, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether section 64 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 64 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsections 242a(2) and 242a(3) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 242a(5) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 242b(8) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 242c(1a) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsections 242e(2) and (3) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to sections 242f, 242g and 242h of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to section 242k of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 65, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 65, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, please. The House leader for the opposition is correct. We are in theory trying to have a vote and we are trying to be quick and facilitate this as quickly as possible.
The Second Deputy Chair: I say to the honourable members of the official opposition, you are not helping matters much.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Let’s have the minister take his seat.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s carry on now.
The Second Deputy Chair: Now I have totally forgotten where I am. We can now vote in a block on sections 66 to 73.
The committee divided on whether sections 66 to 73, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 66 to 73, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 369(5a) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to clause 372(1)(a) of the act, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 74, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 74, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 75 to 81, inclusive. should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 75 to 81, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 82(4), which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 82, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 82, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 83 to 85, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 83 to 85, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to subsection 86(2) of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 86, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 86, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 87 to 90, inclusive, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 87 to 90, inclusive. agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr Ferraro’s amendment to section 91, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The committee divided on whether section 91, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Section 91, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on whether sections 92 and 93 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the same vote.
Sections 92 and 93 agreed to.
The committee divided on whether the bill, as amended, should be reported, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The Speaker: Order.
The committee of the whole House begs to report one bill with certain amendments and asks for leave to sit again. Shall the report be received and adopted?
All those in favour will say "aye."
All those opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would request unanimous consent to revert to motions.
The Speaker: Mr Ward moves that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to meet in the morning of Thursday 17 May 1990 for the purpose of organization.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: I wish to advise the House of a change in the order of business. Tomorrow, in the afternoon session, we will be dealing with second reading of Bill 107.
The Speaker: It now being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned -- listen carefully -- until 11 o’clock tomorrow morning.
The House adjourned at 1802.
INSURANCE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
As part of an order of the House in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, the following amendments were deemed to have been moved:
That section 6h of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(3) The regulations made in respect of an assessment made under subsection (1) in respect of expenses and expenditures for dispute resolution under sections 242b to 242f may provide that the assessment may be based on such degree of usage of the dispute resolution system as may be provided in the regulations.
That section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto, as a section of the Insurance Act:
6na. Subject to the procedures and time limits for the conduct of arbitrations set out in the regulations, the director may make rules for the practice and procedure to be observed for a proceeding before him or her or before an arbitrator.
That clauses 98(1)(bg) and (bh) of the Insurance Act, as set out in subsection 37(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(bg) establishing requirements that must be met before an insurer declines to issue, terminates or refuses to renew a contract of automobile insurance or refuses to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement in respect thereof;
(bh) prescribing grounds for which an insurer cannot decline to issue, terminate or refuse to renew a contract of automobile insurance or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement in respect thereof;
(bha) prescribing coverages and endorsements for the purposes of section 208b.
That clauses 98(1)(bl), (bm), (bn), (bo) and (bp) of the Insurance Act, as set out in subsection 37(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(bl) providing for and governing indemnification and subrogation where section 230a applies;
(bm) prescribing any activity or failure to act that constitutes an unfair or deceptive act or practice under subclause 393(b)(xii) and prescribing requirements that, if not complied with, constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice;
(bn) prescribing classes of persons, classes of automobiles and terms, conditions, provisions, exclusions and limits for the purposes of subsection 239b(1);
(bo) prescribing rules of procedure and setting time limits in respect of mediation, arbitration, appeal and variation proceedings under sections 242b to 242f.
That subsections 45(10) and (11) of the bill be struck out.
That section 208a of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 47 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(6) This section comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
That subsection 208b(1) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 47 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(1) If so required by the regulations and unless the insurer has complied therewith, an insurer shall not decline to issue or terminate or refuse to renew a contract in respect of such coverages and endorsements as may be set out in the regulations or decline to issue, terminate or refuse to renew any contract or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement on any ground set out in the regulations.
That subsection 2O8c( 1) of the Insurance Act, as set out an section 47 of the bill, be amended by adding at the end "or for which the insurer refuses to provide or continue a coverage or endorsement."
That subsection 208c(3) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 47 of the bill, be amended by inserting after "contract" in the second line "or refuse to provide or continue a coverage or endorsement."
That subsection 2O8c(4d) of the Insurance Act, as set out an section 47 of the bill, be amended by inserting after the word "policy" the following: "such as the practice of ‘cherry-picking,’ whereby insurers are highly selective with offers of insurance coverage in the voluntary market, thus forcing consumers to seek very expensive coverage through the province’s insurer of last resort, the Facility Association."
That subsection 208c(5) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 47 of the bill, be amended by adding the following:
(c) may order an insurer to reimburse all funds owed to insureds, resulting from improper underwriting practices as set out in subsection (4).
That subsection 208c(s) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
(5) Following a hearing with respect to a ground, the commissioner, (a) may prohibit an insurer from declining to issue, terminating or refusing to renew any contract or from refusing to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement on that ground; or (b) may prohibit an insurer from applying that ground, in the manner specified by the commissioner, to decline to issue, terminate or refuse to renew any contract or refuse to provide or continue any coverage or endorsement.
That section 2O9a of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 49 of the bill, be amended by striking out "operating" in the fifth line and substituting in lieu thereof "driving."
That section 230a of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 55 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsections:
(9) This section does not apply if both automobiles are owned by the same person.
(10) This section does not apply to damage to an automobile owned by the insured or its contents if the damage is caused by the insured while driving another automobile.
That subsection 231a(1) of the Insurance Act, exclusive of the clauses, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(1) In respect of non-economic loss or non-economic damage arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation, after this section comes into force, of an automobile and despite any other act, no owner of an automobile, no occupant of an automobile and no person present at the incident is liable in an action in Ontario for non-economic loss or non-economic damage from bodily injury arising from such use or operation in Canada, the United States of America, or any other jurisdiction designated in the no-fault benefits schedule involving the automobile unless, as a result of such use or operation, the person has died or has sustained,
That clause 231a(1)(a) of the Insurance Act, as set out an section 57 of the bill, be amended by inserting the word "or" between the words "permanent" and "serious."
That clause 231a(1)(b) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(b) permanent or serious impairment caused by physical, psychological or mental injury.
That subsection 231a(4) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out.
That section 231a of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(7) For the purposes of this section, "owner" includes an operator as defined in subsection 15a(1) of the Highway Traffic Act.
That clause 231b(1)(c) of the Insurance Act, as set out an section 57 of the bill, be struck out.
That clause 231 b(1)(d) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out.
That subsection 231b(6) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be struck out.
That section 232 of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsections:
(1a) On the first day of January in each year, beginning in 1990, an indexing factor shall be determined, based on the percentage change in the consumer price index for Canada for all items, for the 12-month period ending the 31st day of October of the previous year, as published by Statistics Canada.
(1b) On the first day of January in each year, beginning in 1990, the commission shall adjust the dollar amounts for benefits set out in the no-fault benefits schedule by applying the indexing factor to the amount set out in the no-fault benefits schedule (in the case of the 1990 adjustment) or as adjusted under this section on the preceding first day of January (in the case of subsequent adjustments).
(1c) A person entitled to no-fault benefits is entitled to receive the benefits in accordance with the adjustments determined under this section.
That subsection 232(2) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be amended as follows:
1. By inserting "i or" after "subparagraph" in the first line of subparagraph iii of paragraph 1.
2. By inserting "i, ii or" after "subparagraph" in the first line of subparagraph iv of paragraph 1.
3. By striking out "subparagraph ii, or if there is doubt as to which automobile struck the non-occupant" in the second and third lines of subparagraph iii of paragraph 2 and substituting "subparagraph i or ii."
4. By inserting "i, ii or" after "subparagraph" in the first line of subparagraph iv of paragraph 2.
That section 232(5) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 57 of the bill, be amended by inserting after "dependant" in the third line "as defined in the no-fault benefits schedule."
That section 239a of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 63 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
239a. Payments made or available to a person under the no-fault benefits schedule constitute, to the extent of such payments, a release by the person, the person’s personal representative, the person’s insurer or any one claiming through or under the person or by virtue of part V of the Family Law Act, 1986 of any claim under subsection 231(1) or 232(1).
That subsection 239b(1) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 63 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(1) The insurer responsible under subsection 232(2) for the payment of no-fault benefits to such classes of persons as may be named in the regulations is entitled, subject to such terms, conditions, provisions, exclusions and limits as may be prescribed, to indemnification in relation to such benefits paid by it from the insurers of such class or classes of automobiles as may be named in the regulations involved in the incident from which the responsibility to pay the no-fault benefits arose.
That section 239b of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 63 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(4) If the insurers are unable to agree with respect to indemnification under this section, the dispute shall be resolved through arbitration under the Arbitrations Act.
(5) No arbitration hearing shall be held with respect to indemnification under this section if there is an unsettled claim against any of the insurers by an insured in respect of the incident for which indemnification is sought.
That subsections 242a(2) and (3) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(2) Any restriction on a party’s right to mediate, litigate, arbitrate, appeal or apply to vary an order as provided in sections 242b to 242f is void except where the restriction forms part of a settlement.
(3) For the purposes of this section and sections 242b to 242f, "insured person" includes a person who is claiming funeral expenses or a death benefit under the no-fault benefits schedule.
That subsection 242a(5) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(5) If an insurer or an insured is represented in any mediation, arbitration, appeal or variation proceeding under sections 242b to 242f, the mediator, arbitrator or director, as the case may be, may adjourn the proceeding, with or without conditions, if the representative is not authorized to bind the party he or she represents.
That subsection 242b(8) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(8) If mediation fails, the mediator, in addition to any notice required to be given, shall prepare and give to the parties a report setting out the insurer’s last offer and the mediator’s description of the issues that remain in dispute.
That section 242c of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(1a) No person may bring a proceeding in any court or refer a matter to arbitration unless mediation has first been sought and has failed.
That subsections 242e(2) and (3) of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(2) A notice of appeal shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the commission within 30 days after the date of the arbitrator’s order and the appellant shall serve the notice on the respondent.
(3) The director may extend the time for requesting an appeal, either before or after the 30 days, if the director is satisfied that there are apparent grounds for granting relief to the person and that there are reasonable grounds for applying for the extension, and the director may give such directions as he or she considers proper consequent upon the extension.
That sections 242f, 242g and 242h of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 65 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
242f. -- (1) Either the insured person or the insurer may apply to the director to vary or revoke an order made by an arbitrator or the director.
(2) If an application is made to vary or revoke an arbitrator’s order, the director may decide the matter or he or she may appoint the same arbitrator or some other arbitrator to determine it.
(3) If the arbitrator or director is satisfied that there has been a material change in the circumstances of the insured or that evidence not available on the arbitration or appeal has become available or that there is an error in the order, the arbitrator or director may vary or revoke the order and may make a new order if he or she considers it advisable to do so.
(4) An order made, varied or revoked under subsection (3) may be prospective or retroactive.
242g. -- (1) The director may state a case in writing for the opinion of the Divisional Court upon any question that, in his or her opinion, is a question of law.
(2) The Divisional Court shall hear and determine the stated case.
242h. An arbitrator cannot vary or revoke an order made by him or her and cannot make a new order to replace an order made by him or her if the order is under appeal.
242i. An insurer shall not, after an order of the director or of an arbitrator, reduce benefits to an insured person on the basis of an alleged change of circumstances, alleged new evidence or an alleged error, unless the insured person agrees or unless the director or an arbitrator so orders in a variation or appeal proceeding under sections 242e or 242f.
242j. The director shall review arbitration orders and may recommend to the superintendent that the superintendent investigate the business practices of an insurer if the director is of the opinion that any arbitration or appeal from an arbitration reveals unfair or deceptive business practices.
That section 65 of the bill be amended by adding the following section:
242k. At least once every two years, the minister shall table a report before the assembly in respect of the adequacy of no-fault benefits and setting out changes made to the no-fault benefits schedule since the last report and changes that are proposed to the no-fault benefits schedule at the time of the report.
That section 369 of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 74 of the bill, be amended by adding the following subsection:
(5a) The commissioner may approve the application before the expiry of the 60-day period.
That clause 372(1)(a) of the Insurance Act, as set out an section 74 of the bill, be amended by striking out "rules, procedures, factors" in the first and second lines.
That subsection 52(4) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
(4) Section 1 of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
(2) An electric streetcar that runs on rails principally on a highway shall be deemed to be a motor vehicle for the purposes of this act.
(3) Notwithstanding that a motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance, it shall be deemed to be an uninsured motor vehicle for the purposes of this act while it is being operated by an excluded driver as defined in the Insurance Act with respect to that contract unless the excluded driver is a named insured under another contract of automobile insurance.
That subsection 4b(2) of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, as set out in subsection 86(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
(2) If a person has recourse against the fund under section 232 of the Insurance Act, (a) a reference to aim insurer in the no-fault benefits schedule shall be deemed to be a reference to the fund and a reference to an insured person shall be deemed to be a reference to the person who has recourse against the fund; and (b) sections 238, 239a and 242a to 242i of the Insurance Act apply with necessary modifications.
(3) The minister shall make payment out of the fund of the amounts owing to a person described in subsection (2).
(4) Subsection 21(9) does not apply to payments under this section.
That section 91 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
91. -- (1) The filings made by an insurer with the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board under Ontario regulations 697/89, 110/90 and 111/90 shall together be deemed to constitute the insurer’s first application under section 369 of the Insurance Act, as re-enacted by this act.
(2) An application referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to have been made on the date that section 74 comes into force.