The House met at 1002.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
EMPLOYMENT EQUITY ACT, 1990
Mr Rae moved second reading of Bill 172, An Act to provide for Employment Equity for Women, People with Disabilities, Native People and Members of the Visible Minorities.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for York South has moved second reading of Bill 172. According to the standing orders the member has 10 minutes to make his presentation.
Mr B. Rae: This bill which stands in my name is the product of a great deal of work, after a lengthy period of consultation among many people in the communities that are affected by this legislation, by the labour movement. I want to begin by expressing my thanks to all of those who have participated in the drafting of this bill.
This legislation is the product of a sense of frustration, because back in the early 1980s, when I was sitting a little further down the row here and the Liberals were occupying this part of the world, it was the common view of our parties while we were in opposition that we needed to take a new approach to the question of equal pay and that we needed as well to take a new approach to the issue of employment equity, of affirmative action for people who have been systematically discriminated against in the labour market.
As a result of that view, when the 1985 election results were known, our party and the Liberal Party signed an accord, about five years ago, in which the government-that-was-to-be committed itself to moving ahead on the question of employment equity, committed itself to a new approach to human rights and committed itself to moving on equal pay.
We all know that the pay equity legislation is far from perfect, that it excludes a great many people and that it leaves out literally hundreds of thousands of women, as many perhaps as a million, who are not covered by the legislation.
The government has not really moved at all in the area of employment equity. Over the years we have seen a variety of press statements, various statements made about what they would like to do and how they would like to do it, but the reality is that there is as yet no law that deals with the need to change the way the labour market works as it relates to people and groups of people who have been discriminated against on a systematic basis. That is why some time ago I decided to try to force the government’s hand in the only way that private members in a minority parliament have, and that is by encouraging people to come to us to draft a bill and to hope that the government will begin to respond to the agenda which is being established by us and respond before the election of 1990 or 1991.
I will not go over the number of times the Liberal Party has said that it is going to move on employment equity. All I can say is, it has not moved.
It is interesting that as recently as 31 May, just three weeks ago, the Ontario Advisory Council for Disabled Persons released its report which is called Workable: Fulfilling the Potential of People with Disabilities, which resulted from a two-year, comprehensive study of employment issues. It is interesting to note that, after extensive consultation, that report concludes that mandatory employment equity legislation, both in the public and in the private sectors, with goals and with timetables, is required to achieve a fair workplace.
The consensus, I would say, has grown to the point where everyone understands that the approach which says we are going to let things just work out the way they have always worked out and try, in the end perhaps, to do a little bit around the edges on a voluntary basis has failed. It has failed women, people with disabilities, native people and members of visible minority communities. I think it has failed everyone, because everyone suffers when people with disabilities, women, native people and members of visible minority communities suffer discrimination.
The legislation, which is quite detailed and quite specific in terms of what we think needs to be done, describes how we expect employers and employees to get together and establish plans that are based on an assessment of the workplace as it really is, that are based on an assessment of where the barriers to employment equity exist and what can be done about them.
It sets out the establishment of a commission on employment equity which would have the responsibility, clearly and specifically, to educate, to work with employers and employees, and yes, if it feels that a plan is not in place or that the plan that is in place is not possibly going to achieve the objectives of the legislation, it can recommend another plan.
It provides for enforcement, for the establishment of a board which would be made up of members of the target group communities, employers and employees as appointed by the various employer groups, including the government, as well as by the trade union movement.
I have heard it said by some that employment equity sounds good, but really in fact there are a lot of people, even within the labour movement, for example, who do not think it is going to work. That is why we sat down with members of the labour movement for the last three years, and we have proved that it can work.
For example in section 12 with respect to the question of seniority, we have said very clearly that where seniority rights are set out in a collective agreement or where there are established practices in the place of employment in relationship to seniority, that seniority in and of itself cannot be considered to be a barrier to employment equity when dealing with the issues of layoff and recall. I think that is an important message to send out to people who are now working, to say to them that their basic right to employment, their basic right to a job, their security interest in a job, is not going to be affected by employment equity legislation.
That is not the purpose or thrust of employment equity legislation. The purpose of employment equity legislation is to say quite simply that the employers of this province have to become part of the solution and that the solution to the discrimination which exists in the labour market has to be found in the labour market itself; it has to be found in the workplace itself.
People who are blind or people who are deaf do not want welfare. They want a job. People who are members of a visible minority want to have the assurance that they are going to be given a fair shake, not only at the low-paying jobs but at the jobs with managerial and administrative responsibility.
I have visited native reserves in this province where the unemployment rate in the wintertime is as high as 85% and 90%. We know that the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Hydro, Bell Canada and other major employers in these communities do not have effective employment equity program in place which will really make a difference for people who are living on those reserves. We know the numbers, we know the statistics, but what is hard to describe is the sense of frustration, the sense of exclusion and, yes, the sense of being forced to live on the margin because we have not yet put enough justice into the way in which our labour market works.
I say to the employer community in this province and I say to those who are responsible for the management of the labour market of this province, and that includes the public sector and the private sector, they are now part of the problem. It is up to them to become part of the solution. The labour movement, the members of the visible minority community, the members of disabled groups, women and native people are ready to become part of the solution.
I believe that whatever imperfections it may have, Bill 172 represents a necessary next step in the achievement of justice for people who have been locked out and left out for too long.
Mrs Cunningham: It gives me pleasure to address Bill 172, An Act to provide for Employment Equity for Women, People with Disabilities, Native People and Members of Visible Minorities, as presented by the member for York South, the leader of the official opposition party.
This morning I think we are seeing the results of some hard work on behalf of the member for York South. We are also hearing him speak, to some degree, of frustration around the lack of response to a promise by the Liberal government that it would be coming forth with legislation to support employment equity in the workplaces in the province.
I will be very clear from the beginning. It has always been my hope that the workplaces, the employers of Ontario, would recognize the real need of individuals from all walks of life, groups such as women, the disabled, native people, members of visible minorities, to have a fair and equal opportunity to be gainfully employed in Ontario. We find with the figures and the facts and the numbers, as we have looked very carefully at them over the last decade, that this is not happening.
We do know that there have been wonderful attempts by private enterprise, small business, large business and certainly the public sector in some hospitals and school boards and certainly government itself across Canada and within individual provinces to provide these kinds of opportunities. The results have not been particularly fruitful, but there have been some gains. I think the time has come that we very seriously look at appropriate legislation where we can rely on programs as models to be part of that thoughtful discussion around which legislation can and cannot work, based on experience and practice within our own province and across Canada and North America.
I compliment the member with his first attempt at this legislation. I will say quite frankly that there are certainly many parts of this bill that I do not approve of, that I would expect some serious discussion on. There are many weaknesses in the legislation, but I will compliment the member because he has put forth a great deal of effort to give this Legislative Assembly an opportunity to begin. I do not feel that it was his responsibility, but he is as frustrated as others at the lack of opportunity to get a good start on this. So my interest this morning is to say that we be given ample opportunity, as the citizens of Ontario should be, in committee to discuss this legislation in full.
One of the concerns I have and one of the weaknesses in the legislation is that it gives employers only one year to develop and post employment equity plans. I would like to speak to one plan that relates to women. It would have been called an affirmative action plan in its time and I think it was begun by the North York Board of Education, perhaps in 1984. I am speaking from memory. I think that board at that particular time developed some targets for women in positions of responsibility, and it has been quite successful, but it was a 10-year time frame. It has made significant gains. It is a program that I feel this Legislative Assembly should be looking at for guidance, and there will be others across the province that we can look at.
They will say with regard to that particular board, groups of disabled people, visible minorities and native peoples that it has not been easy to have employment equity programs. They have looked at it, and they would have, I think, rather special advice for this Legislative Assembly as we look at any legislation and time frames to meet the needs of those particular groups.
The North York board, which we discussed this legislation with in detail, also had some concerns, and it would of course appreciate the opportunity to speak at the appropriate time, as this bill, hopefully, reaches the committee stage. I think all of us know it is important in society today that if we are going to meet the needs of our very special people, when it comes to their sincere desire to work, we will have to look at programs that have been successful and modelled by them.
All of us should be aware that one third of all job discrimination cases which come before the Ontario and Canadian human rights commissions are based on people with disabilities. We are not doing a good job. We have people in our society who are capable of working, who want to work. Yesterday we spoke, I think, with some degree of passion around our concerns for children who live in poverty. We should also be concerned that the people we are speaking about today, many of whom have children, live in poverty because they are not gainfully employed to the best of their ability and to the best of the ability of the workplace to respond to their talents, their desires and their energies. We have to do more than what we have done now.
I would say that one year is not enough. We have a lot of model programs out there and they would agree. I would also say, as we look at some of the weaknesses in the bill, that I have never been one to take a look at a quota system. It is unrealistic and I think we need a great deal of discussion around that part of the bill.
I think the bill sometimes, for want of a better word, is confrontational in its approach. We could be more thoughtful of including the employers in the discussion and treating them as an equal partner in the workplace. That is something we could speak to at great extent in the committee itself.
We should also know that as to the employers having to establish positive practices and reasonable accommodation under subsection 3(7) of the bill, the reasonable accommodation measures that they must establish are anything but reasonable for many employers across the province. I think we would want to hear from them on improving that part of the legislation. I will be specific in saying that flexible work hours are not appropriate for all places of employment, but they may be for some, and of course I am a supporter of that concept. I feel that working at home, interpreters, those kinds of things need to be discussed as part of guidelines to the legislation, and they have to be discussed so that at the same time the discussion around this legislation becomes very much a public discussion.
I compliment the member for York South on his initiative. I would also like to say that my belief has been that we should begin as far as possible in the public service of the province of Ontario, as we have with the pay equity legislation, to let the private sector know that we are successful and to provide a model within the public service itself. I would hope that these would be the steps that are intended by this legislation, and if they are not, that we could have very serious discussion around them before this bill becomes law.
It has been my thinking, as I have travelled around the province of Ontario, that there was a great deal of concern around the pay equity legislation in the province of Ontario. Certainly there are very few people who are not in favour of the principle of both employment equity and pay equity, but in order to get the workplaces on side I feel that it is not just the principle we have to believe in; it is some very clear examples of how we can make legislation work. We have a wonderful opportunity with this legislation not to make the same mistake that the government made in the drafting of the pay equity legislation. We have some models to look at there, and we know that time frames must be changed in that particular piece of legislation, that they are somewhat limited and that we have a long way to go.
It is my intent this morning to support this bill and to support its referral to the appropriate committee where it can be discussed publicly and where the member can get some good advice from the workplaces where they have employment equity programs that are working. It is an opportunity for us to recognize our responsibility and that of the workplace to meet the needs of women, the needs of people with disabilities, the needs of our native population and the needs of visible minorities.
I lend my support to the bill. I would hope that the Legislative Assembly would understand that I also recognize the many weaknesses. But I am the kind of person who speaks in favour of strengths and I am honoured to do so.
Mr Curling: Mr Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to participate in this debate on this private member’s bill, Bill 172, the Employment Equity Act, 1990. In the few minutes I have to speak, I should make it emphatically clear that we on this side of the House fully support employment equity. I will go further to say that all members in this House support employment equity.
I want to commend the honourable member for presenting this bill. I understand his frustration because there are inadequacies in the system. We would like to hurry the process in order to correct it, but we must do it correctly.
I have tried over a period of years to find out from various individuals, groups and organizations what employment equity means to them. The members would be amazed at the various definitions that were given. More interestingly, when they were asked, “How would you go about achieving this?” it is interesting that the answers we discovered were complex and also confusing.
Therefore, I have no problem at all in supporting in principle the honourable member’s private member’s bill. In plain, simple terms I regard employment equity, what it is all about, to be about access, access for people who are denied fair and equitable treatment in employment. Statistics and studies have shown over and over that women, people with disabilities, native people and members of visible minorities are paid poorly, experience a higher rate of unemployment and underemployment, and some are unable even to get into the building to make an application. We must break those barriers down. It makes sense economically, it makes sense socially, and most important it makes sense from a humane point of view.
People are the most important resource we have. I am not quite sure that we treat them in that respect. We must establish a level playing field, and to do so it is important to recognize a very proactive strategy and initiatives on employment equity. The government has recognized that.
The members have heard these very wise words over and over again, and it applies very much so, that charity begins at home. What we have to do, as members know, as the largest employer in Ontario is that we must put our house in order first. Too often I get complaints at my constituency office that people are unable to move up in the system, to get jobs in government agencies and ministries. They feel very strongly because they are disabled, because they are a visible minority. So we must first make sure that we clean up our act.
In conclusion -- I will try to give my other colleagues a chance -- my colleagues have worked very hard, both the member for Scarborough-Agincourt and the member for York Centre. The proposal here is complex and requires careful consideration. I feel that many of the specific issues need to be addressed with a great deal of care.
I want to commend the honourable member for putting forth this bill, but I would say it goes far beyond and a horrid -- in his term he said, “We have to force the government to do something.” That is what we will not do. We will not be forced into actions that are inadequate. We will consider it carefully and of course I will make sure that we use some of the very logical arguments that the honourable member put in his private member’s bill.
Mr Philip: I will be brief since I know a number of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus wish to express their strong support for this bill, as I do. I know how much work, how much research and how much consultation has gone into the bill. I am proud that I have been a part of that process in meeting with the various groups of people who are concerned about the issues.
I know how anxious some of the people have been to see this bill in print and debated, and I commend them for their patience and for their understanding that legislation like this requires a lot of research, a lot of consulting, and a number of revisions and fine tuning. That has been done and today we have before us a bill that I believe is the most progressive employment equity bill anywhere. It benefits from our studies of some of the other jurisdictions, from some of the shortcomings of some of the other mandatory equity programs in those other jurisdictions.
I ask members not to label it as to what has happened in other jurisdictions, but to understand that this is an improvement on legislation that has been passed everywhere and anywhere else.
This is a bill that is one of balances. It is a bill that can be called a decentralized bill. Unlike the traditional approach of the Liberal government, which tends to impose a centralized bureaucracy and tell people what to do, it is a bill that actually forces the employer and the employees to get together and to work out a plan that is acceptable to all sides.
The plan accommodates both the equity seekers and the existing union and worker rights in the workplace. Because decisions about promotion and hiring always rest with the employer, employers are responsible under the bill for fulfilling their employment equity program. It takes into consideration some of the difficulties that the very small business people would have and therefore deals with that problem.
I wear a lapel pin that says, “Proud to be Canadian: Diversity in Unity.” Members of the visible minority, women’s and disabled groups want to be a dynamic part of Canada. They do not want a free ride, what they want is an equal ride and that is what this bill provides for. My parliamentary assistant Angela put it so well one day when she said, “This government thinks that it can buy us with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and smiles, but at some time those of us in the visible minority groups want to say, ‘Where’s the meat?’”
If we pass this bill, the Liberals will have shown that there is meat and that they are concerned about the inequities in our society. If we look at the disabled, at present disabled persons have lower labour workforce participation rates than non-disabled people. Among those reporting a disability, only 43% of those who are of working age -- that is, between 15 and 64 -- are employed. Disabled Ontarians between the ages of 15 and 64 had gross incomes that were 46% lower than those of non-disabled Ontarians of the same age.
It is time we stood up for a Canada and for an Ontario that gives everyone an equal opportunity. The people in the disabled community, the people in the women’s groups, the people in visible minorities want an equal chance. They do not want a free ride. This bill provides for a decentralized, sensitive approach to bringing about a more equitable situation in the workplace. I would urge my colleagues in all parties to join and vote in favour of this bill.
Mr Sterling: I want to indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that I am going to support his bill today, because probably the greatest goal that a politician has in entering the Ontario Legislature is to ensure that each and every citizen of the province has an equal opportunity to make his or her way in life as far as it is possible for us as legislators to make it so.
For some people it does not matter what set of rules we put down. Employment equity will mean getting the job or getting the promotion. However, if we can set up, and it is possible, a regime whereby we can ensure that those decisions are made in a fairer way, I am, as one member of the Progressive Conservative Party, willing to look at that method.
Recently we have been talking about and experiencing the implementation of another bill, dealing with pay equity in this province. We have been talking about pay equity legislation that kicked into effect for many private corporations on 1 January. I mention pay equity because we have now experienced the first few months of that legislation in place.
Unfortunately the legislation is not working in the private sector. There are now plants closing across this province because of that piece of legislation. I expect that many jobs will be lost in various parts of the province because of the pay equity legislation. I think that was because we did not address all the problems when we brought that legislation before this House and it was made in an ad hoc way in front of a committee in a minority Parliament. Therefore, we are now suffering the consequences of a bad piece of legislation.
No one can argue with the principle of pay equity. Nobody can argue with the principle of employment equity. That is why I and many of my colleagues are going to support it. Some of my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative caucus will not be supporting this bill, because they believe that the bill put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is a bureaucratic nightmare and that there are many, many deficiencies in the proposals he puts forward. But I say to any of the other members who might have an interest in this area that it is an area where we can explore the methods and process put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in a positive way.
The nature of a private member’s bill is that very few of them actually reach the final level of passage by this Legislature. A private member can use this process, however, to put it on the public agenda. I believe that is what the Leader of the Opposition is now doing. I urge the members of the Liberal Party not to follow the process they have undertaken in this Legislature with private members’ bills in the past -- that is, they will vote in favour of a piece of legislation like this but block further discussion on it when the Leader of the Opposition, as he no doubt will, asks that this bill be referred to committee -- so that his ideas can be discussed.
I look forward to discussing those ideas outside this Legislature in a standing committee where we can call the public before that committee and can hear them. I would say to the public who are watching and listening today that if the Liberals vote against the process of allowing this bill to be discussed, then they are voting against employment equity.
Mrs Sullivan: I will be supporting this bill. I am concerned about some of the specifics of the bill, but I believe that the principles put forward here are useful in the process of public discussion and will assist us in moving forward in defining some the issues.
I think employment equity is both a strategy and an objective. Using the phrase “employment equity” is really looking at programs that are designed to eliminate barriers to fair competition in the workplace that impede women, native people, visible minorities or the disabled, including at all times in an employment equity approach all levels in the occupational fields in an organization. An appropriate program would also include many of the things that have been discussed in the bill that is put forward here.
One of the things I particularly liked about this bill was the emphasis on skills training. That education and training is going to be very much a part of a full and consistent program.
Additionally, one of the things that goes hand in hand with employment equity initiatives, it seems to me, is pay equity. We are certainly under way in our pay equity programs. We have seen companies and organizations, as they are approaching pay equity, set their timetables and work with their employees to ensure that the considerations of both the workforce and the employer are taken into account in those programs. We have to understand that it does require sophisticated human resource strategy for companies to approach, for the most part, employment equity programs. I also believe that internally set goals and timetables are very useful in terms of moving employment equity forward. I would like to refer to a couple of examples of companies that in fact have been recipients of the employment equity awards.
In 1987 General Motors of Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers union jointly developed an employment equity program. I was interested in reading that Bob White says that while the process is a slow one, progress is being made. Just to quote him: “Equality doesn’t happen by accident. You have to work like hell to achieve it. But when you open the doors you find a great depth of talent.” The employer’s director of human resources, Mr Curd, also speaking of their experience as they were implementing their program, said: “We’ve inevitably found that when you can remove barriers and have full equality it’s good from a business sense. I wouldn’t take away from the size of the job there is to change attitudes -- it’s a big one. But the other point is that it can be done when there’s a commitment to get it done.” I think that is what management and union are proving at GM.
Du Pont Canada has also implemented a series of equity initiatives. One of their conclusions, announced at the time of the employment equity awards, was their belief that there should be no single approach for every company. Each program should be adapted to an organization’s unique corporate culture and needs. Their vice-president of human resources, Gerry Fox, suggests that, “To remain competitive it will be necessary for all businesses to seek out the best people and to create an environment in which their talents can flourish. Employers who do not do this will be putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”
In 1988 a smaller company than either GM or Du Pont, a company called Edwards, in Owen Sound, a unit of General Signal, received the employment equity award. Their president, Brian Veale, said: “I think that there is a lot of lipservice given to the whole issue of employment equity. It really isn’t until you put resources to the test of providing equity that you can ever claim any success.”
I think that those examples are useful in showing how well in fact employment equity can be put into place. There are certainly reservations, about which criteria and standards would be put into place against which employers can be compared, and the flexibility and recruitment. I think this is a good step forward and I congratulate the member on putting forward the bill.
Ms Bryden: I strongly support Bill 172, the member for York South’s private member’s bill on employment equity. This is ground-breaking legislation. It is far in advance of any other legislation in Canada to ensure fairness in the employment market for those who have been dealt out of the marketplace: women, the disabled, native people, visible minorities. It applies to both the public and the private sectors.
Society has turned a blind eye to the inequities of the job market for these groups of people. They all face barriers to employment and to fair treatment. These barriers must be knocked down. This bill addresses how those barriers can be removed. Only when that is done can employment equity become a reality in Ontario.
Today in Ontario women earn 64 cents for every dollar earned by men. Among persons in Ontario reporting a disability, 41.5% of those of working age are employed compared to 67.4% for the rest of the population, and many of those employed earn substandard wages. Only 51% of registered Indians in Ontario were in the labour force compared to a 67% participation rate for the whole population in a study done recently.
Members of visible minorities did have a greater overall labour participation rate in 1986 than the rest of the population, 74% compared to 69%, but overall they are the working poor. They have families to support and many are not eligible for income support. Their average income in 1986 was only about 87% of the Ontario average income. The unemployment rate for visible minorities was 7.6% compared to 6.8% for the overall population.
In my 15 years in the Legislature I have participated in the battle led by the New Democrats to reach the goal of equal pay for work of equal value, but I must say the rate of progress resembles that of a glacier under the Progressive Conservative Party and the present Liberal government. I introduced my own pay equity bill eight years ago in the Legislature when I was the women’s critic. It did not pass.
I have worked with the Equal Pay Coalition which led the battle across the province. It was made up of trade unions, women’s groups and a wide cross-section of groups working for fairness for the groups which are shut out of the employment market. Without their concerted efforts we would never have forced the government to introduce Bill 154, requiring pay equity in both the public and private sectors, in November 1986.
But the bill does not go far enough. It is greatly flawed. It does not cover one million women, half of all the working women in Ontario. They are dealt out because it only applies where a comparison can be found with male workers in the same field. Among those million women are many who need pay equity the most, visible minority women and women in traditionally female jobs.
The member for York South’s bill goes far beyond the coverage of the Pay Equity Act for these women. It also covers the other excluded groups, like the disabled, native people and minorities, which are discriminated against because of colour or ethnic prejudice. His bill addresses the barriers to employment equity which all these groups face. His bill is concerned about the provision of affordable child care for workers. It is concerned about the provision of adequate training for workers and the unemployed. It is concerned about affirmative action and an educational program to combat discrimination. It is concerned about fairness in promotions.
The member for York South’s legislation also provides a model for achieving employment equity through the development and implementation of plans for each workplace, drawn up through collective bargaining or joint labour-management working groups. The Minister of Labour’s proposed amendments to the Pay Equity Act do not go beyond some tinkering with the coverage of the act as it affects women. It does not cover any extension to the groups covered by Bill 172.
The member for York South’s bill will provide all women and all groups in undervalued jobs in both the public and private sectors with mechanisms to gain pay equity adjustments. It will knock down the barriers to full equality of opportunity in this province. All members of the House who believe in fairness to all sectors of our multicultural society must support this bill.
Mr Velshi: I am pleased to participate in this debate today. I am also pleased to be stating that I am supporting the intent of Bill 172 and I will be voting in favour of it, the bill that was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition.
Employment equity can be described as a comprehensive process adopted to ensure equitable representation of designated groups throughout the workplace and to remedy and prevent the effects of intentional and systemic discrimination. Over the years the Liberal government of Ontario and governments before that have introduced legislation which I would term social conscience legislation, the sole purpose of which was to protect those groups that are disadvantaged or needy.
Some examples of these are the creation of the Ontario native affairs directorate, which is involved in the policy of native land claim settlements and now talking about internal government for them; the Ontario women’s directorate, which resulted in pay equity legislation; the Office for Disabled Persons and the Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs, both of which look after the specific needs of these two groups; the Ministry of Citizenship, which looks after the refugees and new immigrants and their settlement process in this province; and the Office of Francophone Affairs and the directorate, which resulted in Bill 8, the French Language Services Act.
While these secretariats have served an excellent purpose, they are rather narrow in scope. They have not been able to correct the very serious problem of employment equity. It is also obvious that voluntary employment equity will not be successful. It will have to be legislated and enforced. Some people will say this is discrimination in reverse. To those who refuse to recognize that it is not discrimination in reverse, that it is just an effort to correct an imbalance that has been created over the last 50 or 100 years, we have to recognize that a major problem exists and it has to be corrected, and corrected now. We have already seen a very large group of people who are losing hope because long before they graduate from school they have reached the end of the line, before even entering the workforce. We see the resulting frustration in the forms of despondency, youth crime, alcoholism, family violence and even suicide.
However, I feel that the introduction of employment equity requires thorough planning. This bill, with all due respect to the Leader of the Opposition, and I know that he is very sincere about this bill and what the intent of it is, is going a bit too fast. I am aware that the proper bill is in the legislative process right now and we ourselves are pushing for it and hope that it will be introduced as a bill in this House this year. The Leader of the Opposition himself said that the purpose of this bill would be to put pressure on the cabinet. I think he is perfectly correct in that, and we too are putting pressure. We expect this proper bill to be presented to us hopefully this year. I will be supporting it now and I will be supporting it then also.
I also support the idea of having proper hearings across the province. I think the input from all people -- industry, trade unions, everyone -- is essential to this process, because without that we will not have a bill that will be acceptable to the people of Ontario. I therefore suggest that while I support the intent of this bill and am going to vote for it, I do still feel that a little more research needs to be taken on this matter. I believe that the process is in place now and I believe that very shortly we will be seeing it. I will be supporting that too, and I expect that everyone in this House will be supporting it when it comes.
I must congratulate the Leader of the Opposition. This is part of the process that I call the social conscience of this House. While he is talking about equity, I come from a different angle. I talk about equity and the very survival of my group; and I regard all the groups -- the women, the francophones, the natives, the disabled and the visible minorities -- as all part of the same group. It is important that we do proceed with this.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Maybe it is time that somebody took the gloves off here. I cannot stand this phoney debate that is going on, as if everybody is in favour of the principle of this bill. What garbage! The principle of this bill is not only that there shall be employment equity; it is that there will be targets. We know that people on this side are opposed to targets and yet they are voting for the principle of the bill. The government members get up, two of whom I suppose have had their own frustration over the last number of years, both of whom are good advocates for employment equity but who know that their government has done nothing at all.
Talk about a bill coming out this year. I happen to know that the working committee to deal with this has not even been established, the legal counsel for this has not even been appointed yet, and you are telling me that you are far advanced? You have not moved on that basic agreement that you made with us in 1985, that we would have employment equity legislation. Here we are five years later and you have got the nerve to get up and say you are in favour of the principle of this bill. Garbage! All you are trying to do is make this bill go --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Address the Speaker, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am talking to the whole House, through you, Mr Speaker. I am not looking at any one of the culprits over there. You want this to go. You pretend this is going to be part of public discourse now. What you want it to do is to disappear because we are all in favour of employment equity.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Address the Speaker, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am addressing you, sir, through the corner of my eye. I have to say to you, Mr Speaker, that I am offended by what is going on here. At least somebody should have the guts to get up and say where you stand. To those of you who say that this bill moves too fast, how long should the disabled have to wait to get equity in this province? How long should visible minorities in this province have to wait? I tell you they have waited damned well long enough. To say that one year is too long is garbage, and you are just masking the fact that you oppose the very principles that are involved in this bill. Why none of you has had the courage to get up and say so, I do not know.
Mr Speaker, I am not speaking to any one member. I am not addressing my remarks to any one member and I can look where I wish in this House.
The Deputy Speaker: The standing orders say to address the Speaker. If you want to refer to the members, refer to them as “they,” not “you.”
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, this is garbage and you are trying to interfere with me at this point. I am not talking to any individual member; I am talking to the entire House and you can respect that as being through you.
The Deputy Speaker: Not through me; address the Speaker.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, I do not know why you are trying to interfere with my rights in this House, but I would respectfully ask you to stop this. I am angry and I am speaking to the general House.
Mr Pouliot: He’s right. That’s about five times, sir. You’ve done it to me, you’ve done it to the leader and everybody else.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Pouliot: Order or not, that’s the way it is.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, for the last number of years I have been the women’s critic, I have been the critic for the disabled in the past, I have been the critic for Skills Development and am still, I have dealt with poverty in this House over the last 11 years; and I am frankly outraged that anybody would get up and try to smother this bill, as is being done now, with nicety and acquiescence rather than by debating the important principles that are involved in this bill in terms of targeting, in terms of deadlines and in terms of involving the union movement in the decisions that should be here. If I cannot be angry about that and in some way speak to the general House without being interfered with by the Speaker, I would think that at this stage I should have that right to do so.
I am delighted by the process that my leader has gone through to bring this bill to this stage, and why the government with all its minions has not been able to do the same thing, I do not know. I think it should be an important symbol to all those who are watching and listening to this debate today that this is the leader of the New Democratic Party’s bill. That is the importance that we give to this. We did not give this to the critic for Citizenship to present. We did not give this to the critic for Labour. We said the leader will come forward with this because this principle is vital to equity in this province. We are not going to say that you are going to be able to submerge this principle and continue with another five years of inaction that we have seen from the Liberal government, or stated opposition to the very principles in this bill by leading members of the Conservative Party in this province and make this disappear. This is an important issue which we will be pursuing.
The member for Carleton made an excellent point. I have little doubt that the two-faced nature of the Liberal government in this business is going to be showing itself by a vote in favour of this and then moving it to committee of the whole House, and as we all know who have had bills moved to committee of the whole, that means to Never Never Land, never to go any further. It is no different than if you all stood up and opposed the darned thing right now and had the honesty to do so.
I would much rather see the members on the other side get up and defeat this bill now -- understanding where they stand on the process, understanding where they stand in terms of the principles involved in this bill, because they have shown over the last five years where they stand on this bill -- than to get up and pretend you are in favour of it, hoping it will not be an election issue, hoping it will not be the major equity issue that we need to deal with in the next little while. Well, let me tell you, you are not going to get away with it, because as we are showing by the fact that it is the leader who has brought forward this bill, this is an important bill to the NDP and we will be pushing this principle so hard you will not be able to hide behind your smiles of acquiescence any longer.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to wind up?
Mr B. Rae: First of all, I want to thank my colleagues for their support in this debate. I would like as well to say that I expect and would ask that the bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development and not simply be sent to committee of the whole, but that it be a bill which will be taken seriously by the government.
I can say that I have been -- not surprised by the debate because indeed when there are matters that are controversial -- let me say to the members of all sides that this is not an easy bill; implementation of employment equity is not an easy thing to do. It has taken us a considerable length of time to introduce this bill because of the number of interests that had to be reconciled. But what I find so typical of the Liberal Party in this instance is that the Liberal Party would fail to admit or recognize that it has in fact put this issue far on the back burner of its policies.
We know in terms of discussions we have had that this bill is nowhere in terms of cabinet priorities. We know that this bill is nowhere in terms of actual legislation about to be introduced. That is why we have had to go the route of introducing a private member’s bill. I would ask, in conclusion, that the government at least have the decency to refer this matter to the standing committee on resources development where it can be discussed and taken seriously, where it can be seen as a priority, rather than forced into the limbo land of the committee of the whole whence it shall never return.
I think we are entitled to that, the disabled community is entitled to that, the visible minority community is entitled to that and women are entitled to that. That is the very least the Liberal Party can do.
MENTAL HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Callahan moved second reading of Bill 173, An Act to amend the Mental Health Act.
The Deputy Speaker: According to the standing orders, the member has 10 minutes to make his presentation, but before the member starts, I want to take 30 seconds. The standing orders call for all members to respect them, including the one where they address the Speaker. I have interpreted that addressing the Speaker means if members want to refer to other members, they refer to them, they, he or she.
I think there is a strong reason for that and I do not want to cut the rights or interfere with any members addressing themselves, but this will apply to all members regardless of who they are and what party they belong to. That is the precedent that is elsewhere in Ottawa and other legislatures, and I will make that be respected here at the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Callahan: I rise in regard to Bill 173, which I think requires a bit of explanation as to what it in fact does. In 1978 the Mental Health Act underwent major revisions. Certain revisions were made but did not come into force until 1984, and they dealt specifically with the question of treatment of involuntary patients in hospitals. Subsequently, in an effort to bring the Mental Health Act into line with the Charter of Rights, Bill 7 made further amendments. Those amendments literally provided that an involuntary patient, competent or incompetent, could not be required to take treatment.
The minister of the day at that time considered that to be very dangerous and subsequently Bill 190 was enacted which provided for review boards to be applied to to make an order on certain specific evidence, as set out in the act, to allow medication to be ordered. These orders themselves could be appealed to a district court judge.
The bill that is before members does two things, and they are quite minimal. The first one is to require that the appeal be heard within 30 days after it was perfected. The reason for that was that unless the judge appealed to made an order that medication was to be continued -- and I understand this very infrequently happened -- the person affected by that order in fact remained in custody, as it were, in a hospital as an involuntary patient and received no treatment.
The purpose of getting it on quickly is that in the event that even if an interim order is made under the second part of my amendment and it fails, at least the person is not kept in custody for periods that were reported to be a minimum of three months and perhaps beyond that. The Globe and Mail had an article castigating the delays, particularly in urbanized areas where there is a large backlog of cases in the district court.
Having said that, that is basically what the bill does, but it is involved in a far larger issue. The question of schizophrenics and the fact that they are episodically sick, as opposed to being chronically ill, has created grave difficulties under the Mental Health Act. These people normally require emergency treatment, quick treatment, quick access to the hospital, quick access to medication, and because of the provisions of the Mental Health Act that presently exist, grave difficulty is created by this because there are certain tests that have to be reached. You have to establish that there is an imminent danger or a serious threat to themselves or to others.
Very often the only person who knows that the schizophrenic is falling from the period of normalcy he may have while taking his medication is the loved one. The loved one comes and tries to seek treatment and cannot convince the people who have the power to order an involuntary admission. They may come there with their loved one who is prepared to make a voluntary admission, and when they get there, the patient decides he does not want to do that.
It is the very nature of the illness of schizophrenia that people either deny they have a problem or there are side-effects from taking the very medication that helps them. Along with, I suppose, their paranoia -- they feel that they are being poisoned or badly done by -- the net result is that they may come as a voluntary patient and they may decide when they get there that they do not want to go into hospital or they may go into hospital and decide they want to leave without receiving any medication.
There has to be provision in the law that protects these people, to differentiate schizophrenics from people with other mental illnesses. It seems to be a tremendous tragedy that where there is some relief through medication, loved ones have to watch their children, or they may be adults at this time, reach a stage of committing suicide, of injuring other people, of winding up in the criminal courts, because there is not an effective way of ensuring that they take medication.
Surely a society that tries to protect the rights of individuals, which certainly is justified, should also look at the question of what we are doing to these people. What are we doing by denying them a law or a procedure whereby loved ones can ensure that they are going to be treated properly?
The other difficulty, I suppose, with schizophrenia is that a person might be considered to be incompetent and may suddenly no longer be incompetent because of the use of treatment, in which case it creates a disaster in terms of being able to be treated under the Mental Health Act.
The considerations that have been given in this regard were to protect people with mental illnesses that were chronic. We deinstitutionalized people because we considered that to be humane, and I think every member of this Legislature would agree that that continues to be the order of the day. But when we are dealing with schizophrenics who are episodic in their illness and can in fact be assisted and are able to lead in most cases a normal life, and we set up roadblocks or we create legislation in such a way that they are not able to get access to that help, then I suggest we really do them no favours.
Returning to my bill, if we are looking at the civil liberties -- and I think we have to look at the civil liberties of people, particularly people who are mentally ill -- if we pass the provision requiring a 30-day period after perfection of the appeal to be brought into place, if we pass the provision dealing with interim application to a judge in order to persuade a judge that medication be allowed, then in fact what we do is we save these people from a period of being really incarcerated with absolutely no treatment at all. We get out of the warehousing, which is what we originally intended by the social policy that was thought of when institutions were closed in the past.
I think as well that the major objective -- I am quite up front that although this bill deals with minor items, I would like to see this matter get before a committee to give the loved ones of those people who are suffering from the illness of schizophrenia an opportunity to tell us as legislators just how those people differ from those who are chronically ill with a mental illness.
I remember on the Bill 7 hearings back in 1986, there were people who had attended those hearings. I can remember talking to mothers who did not get an opportunity to speak and were really outraged and felt a sense of loss in that they were not able to say something about their particular situation.
I know in my practice over the years in the courts that I found people who were being brought before the courts on criminal charges who were really sick people, who were people who were sick but could have had their illness controlled and would not have found themselves in this predicament.
Unfortunately, while many judges said, “Why are you here? You should be in a hospital receiving treatment,” and I think that is true, I would be willing to bet that if you went through our correctional institutions and our penitentiaries, you would find people who are there not because they are criminally oriented but because they are people who are ill and require treatment. If the treatment is available, why not provide the mechanism whereby they can receive it?
I suggest as well that parents should not have to wait until their children jump off the Gardiner Expressway or commit suicide or harm the parents themselves. As a civilized society, we should make certain that our laws are clear enough that we are able to provide the mechanisms whereby emergency treatment can be provided to these people. Through that emergency treatment these people can continue to live as normal a life as possible and not be plagued by the factor of having to reach the stage of the final act of being a threat to themselves or someone else before they qualify for the benefits that are provided by the law.
I urge members to consider the amendments and to recognize that they are in fact minimal. They are an attempt to rectify what is happening now in terms of waiting for appeals, the warehousing of patients. But at the same time I think it is incumbent upon this Legislature to give to the parents of this province an opportunity to have their say and perhaps to give us ideas on how we can deal with schizophrenics.
In addition to that and finally, I would say that the money that is being spent on investigating a cure for schizophrenia is peanuts. I think this has to become a heightened element so that the public sector and the private sector will contribute the kind of money that they do to other illnesses, which are equally as devastating as this. But this really fractures a family. It takes people who are good people and puts them on the streets to roam the streets aimlessly.
Those are my comments in opening, and I will relinquish the floor to my colleagues.
Mr Reville: I have many things in life. Some of them are happy and some of them are sad. One of the things I have that is sad is a major mental illness. I acquired a diagnosis in 1965. It has been amended a number of times since and I have lived under the tender mercies of the Mental Health Act since 1965 in its different versions. Between 1965 and 1967 I was an involuntary patient in an Ontario provincial psychiatric hospital, during which time I was confined for 18 months. So you will understand, Mr Speaker, why my hair stands straight up on end when I hear the words Mental Health Amendment Act.
As the member for Brampton South has recited, this Legislature during the 33rd Parliament entertained the Mental Health Act on a number of occasions, partly in respect of Bill 7, later in respect of Bill 190, in between in some best unremembered bills that most reflected government confusion about the issues in this connection. My own Bill 50, the Community Mental Health Services Act, received second reading support in the Legislature on 17 December 1987 and has been mothballed by the government since that time.
My legal advisers have assured me that Bill 173 is benign, and I will not be opposing it. I am, however, aware of the views of the member for Brampton South. I know they are carefully held views and I do not dispute his right to hold the views. He takes a best-interests approach to this situation, and his views are at variance with mine. I take a rights approach, and that is why I was pleased with the amendments that flowed from the discussions in 1986 and 1987.
The real agenda here, as the member for Brampton South readily acknowledges, is to create a forum for a discussion about the tension between best interests on the one hand and rights on the other. It is a legitimate agenda. I want him to know, however, that just as he will marshal the forces that are interested in the best-interests position, so too will I marshal the forces of those who represent the rights position. He will know that because the rights forces are persuasive and committed, as are the best-interests forces, he is in for a major fight.
I believe the issues go to the heart of what we believe about civil rights, and clearly there will be charter challenges if the balances are shifted in any measurable way. It is not easy to discover what that proper balance is, because it is a balance between societal interest in the health and safety of its citizens on the one hand and the right of an individual to be the captain of his or her own fate on the other.
I do want to point out, though, that to rely on what we call treatment is to court both disappointment and disillusionment. Treatment in Ontario and indeed in most of the western world consists primarily of hospitalization and drugs. Neither the hospitalization nor the drugs do anything to alleviate the social, economic and political deficits that people in mental distress carry. In fact, the treatment often exacerbates those deficits; it makes them more profound.
The member speaks about schizophrenia as though that label alone explains all you need to know, and that is not the case. Even people on whose behalf the member for Brampton South is arguing, primarily the people who are the families and friends of those who are labelled schizophrenic, will acknowledge that their loved ones are so different one from the other that what is called schizophrenia must be many, many different things.
As difficult as it is for us as legislators to accept, because in fact we all come to our task trying to design and implement a better kind of society, we cannot always prevent every human tragedy. We could shrink-wrap everybody at risk. If we did that, we would be taking on an extraordinary financial liability, and we might accept that if we thought it was going to be efficacious.
What worries me is that there is a great human cost to shrink-wrapping people who are at risk. It is very hard for me to accept the prevention of one kind of tragedy by imposing another kind of tragedy, forcing people into a kind of nether world where they will be straitjacketed with chemicals and where they will experience the great despair of alienation.
It is my hope that this debate will go forward so that we can struggle with the issues. I know what side I am on. I know that if we can convince this government to proceed faithfully to implement the recommendations of the Graham report, which relate to a range of least-restrictive services that will be provided in the community, we will in fact alleviate the distress that many people currently experience. It is in that direction I feel most optimistic about reducing human tragedy, rather than the direction that the member for Brampton South believes is the appropriate way to go.
Mr Sterling: I would like to just speak very briefly on the bill. I have had an opportunity to look at the bill and quite frankly do not see that it changes to a very great degree the procedures that are in place. Perhaps it adds some comfort to the procedure.
The only question that I would have of the presenter of the bill is whether or not an imposition of a time frame on a court has precedent and what happens if in fact that time frame is not met. Does it then act in favour of the appellant or the respondent, and therefore can the procedure be used in order to avoid going to the hearing by either party?
I believe my colleague the member for London North is going to conclude our comments from our caucus at this time.
The Speaker: Is there agreement? There is agreement.
Mrs Cunningham: The real purpose here is efficiency so that we may in fact leave some time for some of the Liberal members to speak in support of their colleague’s legislation this morning.
I would like to compliment the member for his introduction of this amendment this morning. I know that the member for Brampton South has always been a person who has been most interested in the treatment, the cure and the quality of life for many special citizens in the province of Ontario, those who suffer with the disease of schizophrenia. Right now, no one does in fact have the answers with regard to the quality of life, with regard to support systems, with regard to medication, programs and treatment, but anything we can do to assist these people with an improved quality of life, with improved health, and just as important, to assist their families and friends, is certainly in the best interest of the public of Ontario and is certainly the responsibility of this Legislative Assembly.
Although with Bill 173 we are looking at a very small change in an amendment to the Mental Health Act, I should say that what it really means to me and to others who are following improvements is that if an in-hospital patient is deemed incompetent by the hospital review board but that person wants to end his or her treatment, it must go to the district court. That is the way things are right now.
Sometimes that takes a very long period of time. For the individual, if one is talking about human rights, about what is right for him, many of us from time to time are subjected to a very inefficient court system. Anything that we can do legislatively to make it better for the person involved, we must do that. This amendment would ensure that the appeal by the hospital review board takes only 30 days.
We have been told by solicitors, as we have inquired as to the practicality of this amendment, that in fact that will be a very difficult time period for them. Do you know what I say? I say, tough. People’s lives are at stake.
Sometimes we sit around because it has been the practice to sit around when it comes to moving things through our courts. Other times we sit around because the kinds of people we are representing or dealing with are not the kinds of people who can speak or lobby for themselves, and many families are simply worn out by the process.
So if we have a member who says it is going to take 30 days, I say, good for him and I hope that everybody in this House will be supporting this legislation. Sometimes in life there needs to be a time frame, and this one is probably even too long at that.
I would also say that we know that we already have a clause, and this is the argument from the other side, that states that the appeal must go through as quickly as possible, and for those of us who live with those words from day to day, we know it does not mean a darned thing.
I just hope that this is one small improvement, but I think the great reward of this kind of legislation coming forth and being referred to committee is that we will once again have a chance to revisit publicly the Mental Health Act and we will have an opportunity to hear from professionals as to improvements that they could recommend. Perhaps out of those kinds of discussions we may even have opportunities to take a look at improved programs for our very special citizens who are suffering from schizophrenia, and I would say that that is long overdue.
In programs that are supported by the government of the province of Ontario and by communities and by private groups, we would commend the individuals who I call our front-line workers as they deal with rather significant challenges in society. Anything we can do separate from legislation is not only our responsibility, but it is also our personal hope that we are able to make those kinds of contributions. So I am looking forward to the kinds of discussions that can take place in that committee.
As an elected member of this assembly, there is not a week that goes by that I do not have a member of a family or a person who is suffering from this terrible illness come to my constituency office or phone me. Over a period of a month I would easily discuss with four or five different families or friends challenges when it comes to treatment, challenges when it comes to changing legislation and challenges when it comes to providing a quality of life.
In the last few weeks in this Legislative Assembly we have talked, even this morning we talked about employment equity, which may not mean a lot when it comes to this piece of legislation, but these people are in their own ways disabled and there are many ways that we should be reaching out to assist them.
So I commend the member for Brampton South for his initiative. I understand that his colleagues wish to present their statements on the record of this Legislative Assembly, so our party will not take further opportunity to speak to this bill, but I do hope that we will have that opportunity once again at the appropriate committee level where all of us can revisit our responsibilities as legislators and our responsibilities as citizens around the quality of life for people who suffer from mental illness in the province of Ontario and do whatever we can to improve it by passing this amendment and by supporting programs in this Legislative Assembly.
Mr Dietsch: It is with pleasure that I rise today in order that I may voice my support for the amendments to the Mental Health Act contained in Bill 173, brought forward by my colleague the member for Brampton South.
First of all, I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate some of the statistics about schizophrenia to help shed some light upon the need for this bill in attempting to address in what I consider a right direction.
Experts estimate that about one in every 100 people is schizophrenic, making the disease by far the most common type of mental illness. Statistics also show that 20% of schizophrenics commit suicide. I know that many members of this House can reflect upon the horror stories that have taken presence in the press and brought to our attention these kinds of issues. But it also notes that about three quarters of them can respond to treatment.
At present we know that there is no known cure that cures ad infinitum, but we know that there is medication that can arrest some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Dr Brian Hoffman, chairman of the Ontario Medical Association special committee on mental health, was quoted as saying, “The nature of schizophrenia is that it is a slow, insidious thing, that many victims appear normal.”
I cannot help but reflect upon some of the things that are taking place this week. This week is National Access Awareness Week, and the theme is the reflection upon the invisible disabilities. I think it is appropriate that the member for Brampton South should bring his bill before this Legislature this morning and take some of the steps in what I consider to be the right direction on the Mental Health Act. We know that it is not going to be the end-all, be-all solution, but it is certainly a step which I consider to be a very forward-thinking step for all professionals concerned about deciding whether the patient should be treated against his will, while thousands of families caring for relatives with this disease worry and watch helplessly as the patients’ conditions deteriorate.
Of all the things that I, as a member of this Legislature, come to wrestle with, it is those very difficult times when individuals come before me in my constituency office talking about their families in a very caring, revealing way that puts me, as a member of the Ontario Legislature, in a very helpless light. Quite frankly, I find it very difficult to try to address those feelings of uncomfortable times that these individual constituents feel and yet reflect on what I consider a very meaningful contribution to the way they are feeling.
Often, as my colleague so correctly pointed out, schizophrenics are taken into care in facilities, they are given medication, they appear competent at the hearing and are thus released. Some will continue to take their medication and live what is near to being as normal a life as possible, considering their afflictions, but some will not take their medication and, once back out on the streets, they will once again begin to suffer with the hallucinations and the delusions that can prevent them from recognizing their own particular need for help. As June Conway Beeby, the executive director of Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics, remarks, without treatment, schizophrenics’ lives are filled with psychotic suffering and some are even killing themselves, urged on by their own voices.
I am aware that this requires a delicate balance. On one hand we have the rights of the patients, and on the other hand we have to keep individuals from harming themselves. Put simply, in my opinion, allowing a judge to order continued treatment for schizophrenics pending an appeal from the finding that he or she is not competent and in need of treatment is an encouraging step forward in the right direction. Furthermore, in the quest to protect the individual rights of these patients, the question of treatment is subject to a judge’s order and therefore the safeguards are over their rights.
The time limit under which a hearing should be held is designed to speed up a process. I feel that anything we can do that can speed up a process of government we should darn well be doing. More particularly, anything that we can do that can speed up a process where individuals can get help when they do not recognize particularly that they need help I think is a more important step in what I consider certainly the right direction.
Over the past few years, I have met with, as I have said, a number of my own constituents who are themselves concerned family members trying to assist their loved ones who suffer from schizophrenia. As one constituent so poignantly stated in her correspondence to me:
“Yes, patients have rights too, but too much emphasis is placed on the rights of the patients instead of the patient to live. And as these patients do not always have the mental capacity to make these decisions for themselves, it is up to society to take the responsibility and not leave them adrift.”
I ask members of this House to reflect upon these words, written by someone who has lived through this experience.
With that in mind, I encourage members of this House to support this bill. I would respectfully leave the balance of time for some of my other colleagues.
Ms Oddie Munro: I am very pleased to be able to join in what I consider to be a very constructive and empathic discussion on the bill put forward by my colleague the member for Brampton South, an amendment to the Mental Health Act, Bill 173.
The bill makes a special case for schizophrenics and schizophrenia in how we deal with judgements of mental competence, how we deal with the necessity for provision of medical and other treatments and how we assist citizens of this province in continuing to deal with their disease and work towards competency and independence and quality of life, so I think it is a very important amendment.
I would like to say that it also puts a good deal of faith in the judiciary and in the ability of the judiciary to make sympathetic orders for treatment which will take into account all of the environment and all of the medical advocacy evidence which surrounds that in making that. If there is any way too in which we are able to in a sense educate the courts, if I might say that, this seems to be one of those kinds of amendments, so I support it from that point of view. I would think that the families and indeed the patients themselves would look to the judiciary as the body that would be able to balance both patient rights and civil rights and protection of society.
I thought it was very instructive to listen to the member for Brampton South go through some of the bills which have in fact amended the Mental Health Act and in particular Bill 190, which was passed in June 1987, giving review boards the authority to authorize treatment, but only for involuntary patients deemed mentally incompetent to make treatment decisions whose substitute has refused consent. Within the safeguards for patient rights in that bill was one which is directly relevant to the amendment we have before us, and that was that treatment may not proceed while a board decision is under appeal by the patient unless a court rules otherwise.
The whole question of judging and dealing with competency, and of course the flipside, incompetency, is fraught with a lot of complicated decisions, research evidence and of course the ability of the community and hospitals to try to do what is best for them and for the patient and families. Any designation of mental competency of course is a judgement against an individual and has far-reaching implications for both involuntary and voluntary patients.
In fact, one of the problems with the amendment that was put forward and then taken out of the last set of amendments to the Mental Health Act was the concern by interest groups that the power to determine competence is absolutely critical and that standards must be developed to make a determination.
I think we are all aware that the Weisstub inquiry, which was announced in April 1988 with a mandate to recommend standards for determining competency under the Mental Health Act, has been meeting, and I believe that report is before the minister. One of the concerns with the various groups, including the Friends of Schizophrenics, is that the mandate of that committee has moved to an overall investigation and evaluation with recommendations on mental competence in a wide variety of situations and that it may be the case that schizophrenics as a special case are not paid the attention they deserve. I am sure, however, in looking through the brief that was submitted to the Weisstub inquiry by the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics. that this will be taken into account.
I would like to quote from some of the statements made by the members of the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics as they made their submission. I think it is worth while in this debate to just take a look at definitions of schizophrenia. We have already listened to some of the statistical evidence of the reality of schizophrenia, but it is a disorder of the brain and it is not simply a measure, and cannot be judged to be a measure, on an individual that he is mentally incompetent. In fact, schizophrenia is mainly an episodic disease and in many instances -- I would like to think in most instances -- schizophrenics can lead normal lives both with and without medication, and certainly with the support of caring individuals in the community and in the hospitals.
However, it is the case that sometimes schizophrenics, even with medication, will go into another one of their psychotic episodes, and it is at that point that we have to be able to make a judgement on the side of the safety and care of the patient. The brief by the Friends of Schizophrenics goes into details of hospitalization and mentions again the fact that the member for Brampton South has picked up; that is, the paradox that happens when schizophrenics who are responding to treatment in hospitals are released to the community and then become victims, often alienated from families and friends. Certainly some of those victims are people who we see sleeping in the neighbourhood of railway stations and other places where people are simply afraid to deal with their presenting behaviours.
When we take a look at community treatment of schizophrenics, I think it is absolutely important that we realize that certainly the law is part of how we define community and health treatment. In the case of this amendment, it makes a good deal of sense here for it to look to the judiciary to be able to give a treatment decision for an individual who is in need of that, so I would support the amendment from that point of view.
I know that some members of the Legislature talked about the question of the amendments to the Mental Health Act on the basis of individual rights, and I know that those arguments will go on. I am certainly very cognizant of them, but I would like to say that sometimes, as taken from the report from the Friends of Schizophrenics, they have said that it seems a paradox when we deny someone his physical liberty on the ground of mental illness and then delay treatment of the illness on libertarian grounds.
I hope that in many ways, after the judiciary is able to take a look at the precedence of its action on treatment notices on citizens, we will take this as being a more normal procedure and that in fact more fully fleshed-out and tougher amendments will come into the Mental Health Act. I understand that is what the minister is taking a look at.
Mr Wildman: I want to comment briefly on the amendment. I commend the member for bringing the matter forward before the House. This is a very difficult area.
I have had some constituents who are suffering from schizophrenic disorders, as I am sure most members of the House have had, and it is a very difficult area. Obviously for the family, it is difficult. They care for their family member but oftentimes we find that the individual, for whatever reasons, refuses to take the medication that is prescribed and as a result can suffer relapse or find himself or herself in a very difficult situation which may in fact be dangerous for him or her or for members of the family or neighbours.
The question is, how do you deal with this in a free society? How do we ensure that an individual is not forced into treatment that he does not wish to have, and how do we ensure that the individual is protected and that the members of the family are protected? It is a very difficult area.
I believe there should be some time limits on assessment. I believe, at the same time, we cannot have a situation where an individual is forced to take treatment when he or she believes it is not in his or her best interests, unless it can indeed be shown that the individual is dangerous to himself or herself or to others.
I commend the member for bringing the matter forward. It is a very difficult area. I hope that the debate in the House will help not only to suggest ways that we might deal with it but to highlight the problems faced by people suffering from mental disorders and the people who care for them.
The Speaker: Any other members wishing to participate? That completes the allotted time, other than the two minutes in response for the member for Brampton South.
Mr Callahan: I think I have five. I think my colleagues left me five, plus the two.
The Speaker: Order. I have had a shake of the head, no.
Mr Wildman: No what?
The Speaker: There are just your two minutes left. It says five but --
Mr Wildman: Well, Mr Speaker, there are five New Democratic minutes left, and I think if the member wants to use them, we would be happy to let him.
The Speaker: There are five minutes here and seven minutes there, but I am just upholding the standing orders that the members in general have put before the House and approved.
Mr Pouliot: We would be happy to acquiesce our five minutes in favour of the member for Brampton South.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr Callahan: I would like to thank my colleagues for speaking on this issue and I appreciate their support. I particularly was struck by the member for Riverdale and his sort of stark admission. I had not heard what he said before, but I commend him. He has great courage in doing that. I invite the people who he may wish to bring to a committee in terms of the rights of individuals, because I think that is the only way we will get a real answer to this issue.
That is probably why the bill that I brought did not try to address any broader issue, because we really cannot do it in private members’ hour. It really has to be done in committee. It would be my wish -- and I realize this is somewhat tenuous in light of the fact that we are a week away from adjourning for the summer break -- that this matter might be carried over and would eventually get to a committee, because I think it is very important that the parents of those people have their opportunity to raise some of the issues they have already raised in the report from the Friends of Schizophrenics.
They have talked about situations of a schizophrenic’s parent being able to relate an experience to the admitting psychiatrist or to the justice of the peace or to the police officer to demonstrate that his loved one had already tried to commit suicide and he was therefore at greater risk than would be the case if it was a first admission.
It is a very difficult issue, and it is one of balancing the rights of the individual against the rights of those people who love the person, but they have sleepless nights in wondering where he is, what is going to happen to him, and then having to read in the newspaper that he has jumped off a bridge, or he has killed somebody, or he has been put in jail for a very serious crime.
I think we as legislators and society as a whole have an obligation to see that this can be rectified in the best possible way, again without infringing people’s rights. We were able to come to that decision in terms of disallowing totally such procedures as psychosurgery or electric convulsive therapy. Those were considered by all members to be outrageous.
But here we have a very special group, and if we are to help that special group, then we need the advice, the information and the input of the people who are suffering from the mental illness, as well as those people who laterally suffer. I think anybody in this House who has gone through the personal experience with a friend or in the constituency office has seen the anguish these people go through, the fact that they are hanging by a thread, worrying about their loved one and have no way of dealing with it, or very few effective ways to deal with it.
In addition to that, I would like to see the whole issue heightened so that the question of investigation into a cure of this dreaded disease can be found. There have been tremendous breakthroughs in terms of chromosomal locations of this particular aberration, but because of the lack of funding and because it does not have the same sexiness, I guess, as diseases such as heart disease, cancer and so on, it does not get the high profile from either private donations or public donations.
I think it is sad to realize -- members should just think about it: If Dr Salk had had the same problem with polio vaccine and it was not a heightened issue and people did not want to have a cure for it, the dollars would not have been poured into it and we would have run around watching people become totally disabled as a result of getting polio. Surely to God this is as big a deformity of the minds of individuals who, if they could be cured by reason of increased research and also more sympathetic and perhaps more workable rules passed by this Legislature, then in fact we would have saved those individuals from being paralysed in terms of their minds.
I urge all members to really see that this issue is in fact put on a high profile, that it is something where the press will take it and run with it, because the press itself sometimes creates its own issues, and it supports, perhaps, the wrong ones. Here is an opportunity for it to help people, to help those 200,000 or 250,000 Canadians who do not have the full opportunity to live their lives in total serenity, the people who we see wandering the streets of Toronto, who appear to us to be the homeless by design. They are not the homeless by design; that is because of their illness, in many cases. The people in our prisons are there not because they are criminal people, but because they are sick. I hope this issue will become a high-profile one and perhaps will be carried over to the next session of the Legislature so that it can in fact be reviewed totally in committee.
The Speaker: Those were five minutes allowed you by the official opposition. There are still seven minutes remaining from the Conservative Party. I do not know whether you have any further comments. You still have the two minutes. There is no offer? Fine. I will recognize the member for Brampton South for his final two minutes.
Mr Callahan: I would like to make my final comments by thanking every member of this House who spoke and those who are going to support this bill. It is a difficult one. I remember when I was talking about preparing this bill and looking for a way to do it. I was told that by doing it, I would have all sorts of groups that would be concerned in one way or another, either as a result of feeling that their rights were being infringed -- I welcome them before the committee because I think in that way we are going to demonstrate, hopefully to them, that the best safeguard and the best way of securing freedom for these people who are actually trapped in a mental illness that does have some possibility of success, that does have some track record in terms of investigating a cure -- that in fact we can show them that these people can lead productive lives, that we can in fact marshal the public opinion that will call out for contributions from the private sector as well as the public sector to look into a cure for this dreaded disease.
I suppose it is also going to heighten the fact that you may be sitting next to someone in this House, you may be sitting next to someone on a streetcar or in church who may very well have a loved one who has schizophrenia, considering that one out of 100 suffer from this dreaded disease. Those are the silent sufferers, as well as their parents. We have to deal with that.
Again, I cannot say enough that I really want to thank my colleagues. They have approached it, they have expressed their views. I appreciate their views and I look forward to this getting to committee, where we can share the views of the citizens of Ontario and hopefully come up with a solution that will meet the test of the civil liberties people and, as well, address the cares and concerns of those mothers and fathers who lie awake at night wondering where their loved one is, whether he or she is destroying himself or herself or perhaps causing other people grief.
The Speaker: That completes the discussion and debate on ballot items 55 and 56. Our standing orders say that I shall put the questions at 12 of the clock. Do you wish to wait until 12? Yes? I cannot get unanimous consent. Okay, we will wait until 12.
EMPLOYMENT EQUITY ACT, 1990
The Speaker: Mr B. Rae has moved second reading of Bill 172.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: That bill will go to committee of the whole House.
Mr B. Rae: I would ask that the bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development.
The Speaker: The standing orders state that it shall go to committee of the whole House unless a majority wishes it to go to a certain standing committee. Usually I ask all those in favour to rise, but it sounds as if there is unanimous consent and agreement.
Bill ordered for the standing committee on resources development.
MENTAL HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
The Speaker: Mr Callahan has moved second reading of Bill 173.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: That bill will go to committee of the whole House.
Mr Callahan: I move that it go to the standing committee on social development.
The Speaker: The member has requested that it be sent out to the social development committee. Is there complete agreement?
Bill ordered for the standing committee on social development.
The House recessed at 1202.
The House resumed at 1330.
EDUCATION OF HEARING-IMPAIRED
Mr R. F. Johnston: It should come as no surprise that the deaf community and the hearing-impaired community across the province are extremely disappointed with the half steps or quarter measures that were taken yesterday by the government in response to the review of deaf education, so much so that a group of deaf parents in London have occupied the Premier’s constituency office to state their displeasure about the government’s not having gone further.
It is not just that a lot of the measures were not dealt with in the report; it is also the fact that the government did not even move on the heritage language recognition of American sign language, let alone the recognition in Bill 112 that I presented to this House for American sign language as the language of instruction. As well, the hearing-impaired wanted a few minor concessions to get extra services for children, and have been arguing for some time that the 70-decibel cutoff that is in regulations is unrealistic. Again, there is no mention of a move in that area, so none of the elements of the community involved is happy today.
The minister and the government should know that there is unanimity around two proposed small amendments to Bill 112 which would make the entire hearing-impaired/deaf continuum in the province happy with that bill and it would be prepared to see this go through in very short order. The government could recoup the bad message it has sent out to these people if in fact it would just accept those amendments and bring in the principles of Bill 112 as early as possible.
Mr Villeneuve: The Liberal government still has no clear, long-term plan to assist a faltering agricultural industry. For starters, agriculture’s share of the provincial budget has fallen for the third year in a row, to slightly more than 1% of the entire Ontario budget. Instead of planting a healthy future, as the Federation of Agriculture has envisioned, the Liberals have ensured that they will provide no help to agriculture.
The 1990 budget has only short-term initiatives for agriculture. For instance, $48 million of interest rate relief is a onetime allocation. The Minister of Agriculture and Food could not negotiate an equal amount from the federal government, so he is stalling on the release of both payments until an election is called. That is pretty typical.
With decreasing cash receipts, increasing operating costs and a prime interest rate at near-historic heights, finance and credit issues are of primary importance to farmers. The farm tax rebate program is still in limbo. The Liberal government unilaterally cut $27 million from this program last year without even consulting the farming community. By income-testing and property taxes, the Liberals turned the program into an income subsidy program instead of a tax equity program, which is what it was intended to be and should remain.
This government clearly is not helping Ontario’s agriculture.
Mr Owen: Last year, our Ministry of Skills Development provided seed funding of $100,000 to the Barrie and District Training Council and its partners for the development of the Skills Canada organization in Ontario. Since that time, the Skills Canada organization has been growing at an impressive pace.
The organization is a partnership of business, industry and education committed to encouraging and supporting students in secondary schools and colleges to achieve excellence in technical skills. By April of this year, there were 1,312 Skills Canada student members from 82 high schools and 116 students attending nine community colleges. Fifteen boards of education across the province as well as more than 35 businesses are participating to make Skills Canada a success in Ontario.
Key elements in Skills Canada include adopt-a-shop, apprenticeship programs, employment networking, professional development programs, leadership conferences, technical skills awareness events and skills competitions. Skills competitions provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate the excellence of their technical abilities, pitting their skills against their peers at all levels. Top Canadian achievers compete at the United States Skills Olympics, which are being held this year in Tulsa, Oklahoma 25 June to 1 July.
This is an extremely worthwhile program, one that all members of this House should encourage in their own constituencies.
Mr Allen: Today is Return to Sender Day at Queen’s Park. Services and agencies that deal with the poor in Ontario, and particularly in Toronto, are sending back the budget to the Ontario Treasurer who, as they view it, sold out the poor in his 1990 budget. In four critical areas -- housing, social assistance, child care and minimum wage -- the latest budget has done little or nothing for the more than one million people, including 330,000 children, across Ontario who are forced to live in poverty.
These organizations -- more than two dozen organizations and social agencies -- are today holding a day of protest against that budget from 8 am to 4 pm on the south lawn of the Ontario Legislature. Speakers, performers on the main stage, soup kitchens, food banks, legal services and other services for low-income people have transferred their operations to Queen’s Park for all of one day. The event is a user-friendly shutdown of poverty services by bringing the poor to the doorstep of the Legislature. Organizers are determined to end the silence on poverty and demand that the poor live in dignity.
The day will end with a march by the participants to the office of the Treasurer to present a budget pie and a postcard showing the true priorities of the people of Ontario. I appeal to the Treasurer, to the entire government, to listen and rework all the parts of the budget that touch the poor -- and that is most of it.
HUMAN RIGHTS CODE
Mrs Marland: Tomorrow marks two important anniversaries for Ontario. On 15 June 1962 the first Ontario Human Rights Code was enacted, and on the same date in 1982 an updated code was established.
When the code was introduced by the Progressive Conservative government of John Robarts, Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to enact a comprehensive human rights code. The original code guaranteed equality on the basis of race, colour, nationality, ancestry and place of origin.
In the 1970s, social pressures resulting from increased immigration made it apparent that amendments to the code were needed. As a result, the Bill Davis government broadened the code’s mandate. The revised Human Rights Code of 1982 guarantees equality on the basis of ancestry, sex, age, marital status, family status, handicap, receipt of public assistance and record of offences.
In Ontario we tend to take human rights for granted, but oppressive regimes still abuse human rights in many areas of the world. Just a few days ago we marked the anniversary of the tragic slaughter of student protesters in Tiananmen Square, and in South Africa, the majority of the population is still disfranchised by reason of skin colour.
On this date, we should reflect on our great fortune to live where human rights are generally respected. We must also consider the cases of human rights abuse which still exist here and do everything possible to ensure that the Human Rights Code governs all conduct in Ontario.
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA
Mr Mahoney: I would like to bring to the attention of the House the recent release of the city of Mississauga’s 1989 annual report.
Mississauga was incorporated as a city only 15 years ago and yet we rate today as one of the country’s largest cities.
In the April publication of Business and Finance in Ontario, the focus was on Mississauga, and it was entitled How to Build a Perfect City. John Fergus, the publisher and editor stated, “The city of Mississauga is a textbook example of the awards accrued when vision and careful planning are the signatures of both the private sector and municipal officials.”
In the annual report, it is estimated that by the year 2001, the city’s population will be 710,000 people. The benefits of the aforementioned vision and careful planning by the city will certainly be seen by residents and businesses alike.
Another progressive planning step is taking place now as the city develops its waterfront plan to ensure that environmental concerns are addressed, and yet provide accessibility for both residents and visitors.
The city has always been a leader in the area of recycling, but with the active participation of the city’s residents, the apartment and condominium recycling program reached 13,000 units recently.
Mississauga also received the 1988-89 Outstanding Municipality Award from the Recycling Council of Ontario, which was awarded for the city’s leadership in recycling and waste management.
I congratulate the city, the mayor and members of council on these initiatives.
Mr Laughren: In the last week or so, I have asked the Minister of Natural Resources two questions. One had to do with the regeneration of our forests and the other had to do with the herbicide spraying in our forests. It seems to me that both are terribly important issues of public policy in the province of Ontario.
On the matter of regeneration, I asked the minister how it would be that E. B. Eddy Forest Products would be short one million seedlings that it wanted to plant and which the ministry would not provide under the forest management agreement. The minister knew absolutely nothing about it. To her credit, she admitted she did not know anything about it, but instead replied with a lot of gobbledegook.
The second question I asked her had to do with herbicide spraying in our forests. I asked the minister, one, what she was doing to reduce the dependence on herbicides and, two, what proportion of the tending that is done in our forests is done by herbicides as opposed to manual tending.
The minister did not know the answer to that either. It seems to me that two of the most important issues in forestry all across Ontario are the degree to which we regenerate the forests we cut and to what extent we depend on spraying of either herbicides or pesticides in order to control the growth of competition for the trees that we want to see growing to maturity. In both cases the minister was found wanting. In both cases the minister did not know the answers and, to my knowledge, has made no attempt to find out the answers.
Mr Cousens: I speak today on behalf of the constituents of Markham and as a provincial legislator and one who has empathy and respect for the sincerity and courage shown by Premier Clyde Wells of Newfoundland.
During this critical time in our nationhood, we have seen various degrees of leadership by the participants of the Meech Lake process. Many residents of my community are saying that no one has displayed as much integrity and honesty as the Premier of Newfoundland. His ability to rise above partisan pressures and to articulate intelligently his concerns with not only the accord itself but also the process has earned him the respect of many Canadians.
As a provincial legislator and a proud Canadian, I commend Mr Wells for his dedication to the citizens of Newfoundland and for his love of Canada. I fully support the premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada in their attempt to ratify the constitutional accord.
The people of Ontario also want a voice in national affairs. There is an important lesson to be learned from the Meech Lake process. Why does the Ontario government not open up the Queen’s Park phone lines across the province after 4 pm on Friday and over the weekend to give our citizens the opportunity to react to what the Premier has done, and seek the public’s counsel on what Ontario should do with the amending resolution? The Ontario public cares deeply about our role in Canada’s future; no one should be excluded from this process.
NATURAL GAS SUPPLY
Mr Tatham: Canada is self-sufficient in uranium, gas and electricity, although smaller quantities of the latter two are imported essentially for convenience. About a third of the country’s crude oil requirements is imported, mostly in Quebec and further east. About a fifth of the country’s coal demand is imported.
Natural gas was first discovered in Canada near Niagara Falls in 1794. We have come a long way. Until today, according to Statistics Canada, Canada’s proven and probable natural gas reserves total more than 95 trillion cubic feet.
As well as being a reasonably priced fuel, natural gas is a clean fuel. When natural gas burns, it emits only water vapour and carbon dioxide. Natural gas heating in our homes helps reduce acid rain and air pollution.
Natural gas, as an abundant, clean-burning fuel, should have a promising future. To encourage future natural gas sales, we need pipeline access. I believe we should make sure that Ontario citizens have access to a continuing supply of natural gas. We should also establish a policy to pursue an active campaign to have all municipalities, where possible, connected into a network of natural gas pipelines.
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of anyone else, I will have to ask my question of the Minister of Community and Social Services.
On the basis of either a family of three working at or around the minimum wage or a family of three receiving social assistance, I wonder whether the minister can explain, when we take housing costs into account, how a family is supposed to be able to eat when the Department of Agriculture has just come up with a very interesting study showing that a family of three living in Toronto needs at least $350 per month for food alone.
I remind the minister that the average rental costs in the city are upwards of $1,400, that a cheap rent would be $1,200 or $1,000, according to the most recent statistics, and that nowhere near minimum wage or social assistance would allow you to provide even for housing.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: Does the minister not understand that people are having to choose between clothing and food and housing in order to get by every month?
Hon Mr Beer: Certainly I think everyone recognizes that food costs, shelter costs, particularly for single parents, those who are at minimum wage or those who are on social assistance, are very difficult. That is why we took the various steps that we did last year to begin to address those issues, to increase the rates for shelter and basic food and clothing and to make other changes with respect to children’s benefits as well.
When we look at the amounts that individuals receive, it is going to vary as well from community to community, but we have had examples, through the social planning council study on the impact of our shelter costs and the impact of the basic rates change, of some positive signs of helping directly families on social assistance.
There is still much that needs to be done, but I think the direction that we are going is the correct one and that we are seeing beneficial changes for those individuals and those families.
Mr B. Rae: Let’s follow this arithmetic, the basic arithmetic of daily life for hundreds of thousands of people in the province. Back in 1975, a person who worked at the minimum wage would have had to work for 50 hours a week in order to be living at the poverty line. At the poverty level in Ontario then, 50 hours a week on the minimum wage could get you up to the poverty line.
Today, a working person would have to work 87 hours a week on the minimum wage in order to get up to the poverty line. That is how bad the gap has become. That is how wide the gap has grown between those who are working, for example, in contracts for collective agreements and those who are having to rely on the minimum wage as the only union they really have.
The Speaker: Your question?
Mr B. Rae: Can the minister tell us why it is the government of Ontario has, as a matter of deliberate policy, allowed the minimum wage to fall so far behind that somebody would have to work nearly 90 hours a week in order to get to the poverty line?
Hon Mr Beer: In answer to the honourable member, it is important to note that there are, in my view, three basic ways that we try to assist those who are on social assistance or at the lower end of the wage scale. Clearly minimum wage is one, the second is to improve social assistance benefits and the third one is in relation to the whole question of taxes for those at the lower end of the income scale.
On the social assistance side, we have made some great progress in the last year. The Treasurer announced further cuts on the income tax side, and at that point he indicated that we would be discussing the issue of minimum wage and that there would be a statement later in the session.
When we look at the minimum wage, clearly that is an area where we recognize there is importance, and we will be taking steps with respect to that in due course.
Mr B. Rae: The people who are outside have asked me to present to the Premier a copy of the budget, and it has “Return to Sender” on it. Since the Premier is not here, I would ask that the minister receive the budget because it does so much for people who are well off, so much for corporations, a $140 million tax write-off for corporations in addition to the billions in taxes they now refuse to pay or do not have to pay because of the way the system operates.
I would like to ask the minister again this simple question on the question of the minimum wage: Can he tell us why in the budget, for example, corporations got a tax write-off of $141 million? That was upfront money. They did not have to wait around for that. But in fact working people are now being told, “You are going to have to wait at the back of the line,” when we know they are going to have to work 90 hours a week in order to get up to the poverty line in the province.
Hon Mr Beer: I think what I would like to remind the honourable member is that we started the most innovative reform of social assistance in this province last year, with changes in the basic rates, with changes such as the support to employment program that has seen a clear increase in the number of people on social assistance with greater earnings than ever before. We can do that month over month over the last year.
I also indicated clearly to the honourable member, as was indicated at the time of the budget, that the government would be addressing the issue of the minimum wage. The Minister of Labour has been carrying on discussions about that and we will be making a move on that. We quite recognize the importance of the minimum wage as part of the overall package of initiatives that the government can take to help both those on social assistance and those who are at the lower end of the income scale.
I think that when you look at what we have been able to do over the last number of years and compare it with any other jurisdiction in North America, what we have done is progressive and moving definitely in the right direction to help those at the lower end of the income scale.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Citizenship. The minister will no doubt be aware that in his absence today, and indeed in the absence of the entire Liberal cabinet at private members’ hour this morning, the House adopted for second reading a private member’s bill standing in my name, Bill 172, An Act to provide for Employment Equity for Women, People with Disabilities, Native People and Members of Visible Minorities.
The minister will understand that employment equity has been endorsed most recently by the advisory committee to the government on the disabled. It has also been endorsed by the committee that studied poverty across the province, saying that unless you had employment equity opportunities and jobs for people instead of welfare, and a chance to work for people instead of welfare, we will never deal with the poverty crunch and the poverty crisis in the province.
I want to ask the minister this question: We showed him where we want to go. We showed him what we think needs to be done and we have offered it for debate and discussion in this House to become a law. We are not even the government. When is the minister going to produce his?
Hon Mr Wong: I welcome the initiatives that were taken by the honourable member in his private member’s bill today. It is a very complex subject and we welcome any suggestions that might come up.
Let me remind the honourable member once again that the government has moved in terms of the 88,000 employees of the Ontario Public Service, has taken initiatives that are currently being introduced to Bill 107, the Police Services Act, which focus on mandatory employment equity initiatives. The Ontario women’s directorate has a fund that helps employment equity for women, particularly in the broader public sector, not to mention initiatives that my colleague the Minister of Education has taken.
As I have mentioned to the honourable member before, I am working diligently through the cabinet process with my colleagues on broader employment equity initiatives to cover the broader public sector and the private sector of Ontario.
Mr B. Rae: The government’s definition of employment equity is to serve canapés and cocktails over in the Liberal caucus room. I can hardly get to my office for all the people who are being invited to parties over there. That is all they are doing, receptions, parties and plaques from the member for Parkdale. That is what it amounts to, receptions, parties and plaques. I am asking the minister for laws. I want to ask the minister, when are we finally going to see some legislation that is going to deal with this issue? When are we going to see it?
Hon Mr Wong: Let me say once again that the process of talking to approximately 100 different groups within the province of Ontario, to determine exactly what shape the employment equity initiative should take, was completed. The government is currently going through the cabinet committee process. I would say that as soon as possible we would love to introduce our employment equity initiatives.
Mr B. Rae: I would be the last one to stop the minister from doing what he would love to do. What I would like to ask the minister, though, is the following. He promised us this legislation in 1985. His party promised it in 1983 when it was in opposition. They promised it in 1984, they promised it in 1985 when they became the government, they promised it in 1986, they promised it in 1987, they promised it in 1988, they promised it in 1989, and now he is promising that there is nothing he would rather love to do than to bring in this legislation. I would like to ask the minister, what is the force that is stopping him from doing what his party has said it wants to do for the last seven years? What is stopping him?
Hon Mr Wong: Again let me repeat that the government has shown its performance in these other sectors of the government. It will just be a matter of time before we are in a position to take it through the cabinet committee process to the cabinet in order to be able to present the employment equity initiatives.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. I presume that the Minister of Health is aware that last evening the medical advisory committee for the Hospital for Sick Children advised the board of directors of that hospital that the ICU should be closed permanently for all cases of elective surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. This includes cardiovascular surgery, cranial surgery, major back surgery, neurosurgery and includes elective surgery cases surrounding trauma incidents.
This week alone 11 elective cases of cardiovascular surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children have been cancelled, 11 out of 11. One patient has been transferred to Montreal today. Another patient is being transferred to Detroit tomorrow. Is this the way the minister thinks the health care system in the province of Ontario should be run?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I can tell the member opposite that I am not familiar with the advice that the medical advisory committee gave to the board of the Sick Children’s Hospital. The Sick Children’s Hospital board has accountability and responsibility for the running of that hospital. I can assure the member that I will look into this matter and speak to the board chairman to determine what would be the basis for their advice.
Mr Eves: We already know the basis for their advice: a lack of ICU nurses at that hospital. That matter was brought to the minister’s attention by myself in this House on 12 April, on 16 April, and on 23 April of this year. This question has been asked of the minister many times. She is well acquainted with Dr Salerno’s internal review of the Hospital for Sick Children, which was an independent review. His conclusion was that there was a shortage of ICU nurses at the Hospital for Sick Children, and now the medical advisory committee sees that it has no alternative but to close that unit permanently to all cases of elective surgery for children at the Hospital for Sick Children in this province.
The hospital made a request of the Ministry of Health on 7 April for extra funding for ICU nurses. They expected a reply within three weeks. It is now June and it looks as if they are going to be faced with closing that unit permanently. Is the minister going to give them the extra money they need for ICU nurses at the hospital?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I met with the board chairman of the Hospital for Sick Children and some of its members, including its chief executive officer. I am confident that in fact we are working with them to ensure that we assist them in areas that are appropriate for the ministry.
I can tell him that he knows the Hospital for Sick Children is a transfer payment agency of the ministry. They have some very special and unique services that they offer, but they are one of a number of children’s hospitals across the province. Many referrals come to the Sick Children’s Hospital that can be appropriately provided in other children’s hospitals. That is the reason we established a paediatric cardiovascular network so the children will be able to receive the services that they need when they need them.
I can assure the member that in the area of expertise, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto will continue to provide the kinds of appropriate services and that it is working closely with other children’s hospitals across this province.
Mr Eves: The minister has not listened to a thing I have just said. The medical advisory committee of the hospital is telling the minister that it cannot provide those services because she will not give it the money.
Is the minister aware of the fact that the trauma program for elective surgery at the hospital has been closed 48% of the time since 1 January this year because of a shortage of ICU nurses at that hospital? Is the minister aware of that fact? If she was not, I hope she is now. What is she going to do to provide the money, as she said she provides, to the Hospital for Sick Children so it can hire more nurses so that children can get their surgery here instead of going to Montreal, Detroit and all other places across the globe?
The Speaker: Thank you. You have asked the question. You do not have to explain why.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite is not fairly portraying the situation at all. The Hospital for Sick Children in fact is a trauma centre. They have had an usually high number of trauma cases and they expect to be back to normal very shortly. I want him to know that they are working with other children’s hospitals to make sure that children who require surgery on an elective basis can receive that surgery in the most appropriate location. In the meantime, I want him to know that we are working with the hospital to make sure that services are available to the children in this province when they need them.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Housing. As the minister is aware, the government of Ontario has announced that it will in fact be spending some $3 billion over the next three years to construct some 30,000 affordable housing units, non-profit housing units in the province of Ontario. After some 35 years the mortgages on these particular properties will have been paid off. I wonder if the minister could share with the House who the owners of those properties are going to be after those rather heavily subsidized units have been paid for by the government.
Hon Mr Sweeney: As the honourable member would be aware, that actual situation is a number of years down the line. We, I think, share the same concern that he is raising and we are prepared to make some changes to the Corporations Act whereby that non-profit co-op corporation would not be able to change its status from non-profit to profit. It would have to remain as a non-profit co-op corporation in perpetuity. We must make a change, as I understand from my staff, to the existing Corporations Act in order to ensure that, but we have quite a bit of time to do it.
Mr Brandt: I am pleased that the minister is looking at some options because our party does not believe in public housing for the rich. There are people who are earning, in family income, over $100,000 who are getting subsidized in co-op housing units. After 35 years those people will be able to flip those properties and make a private profit on the backs of tired taxpayers, who have been subsidizing those units over a long number of years.
The minister’s subsidy program alone, it is estimated -- just to pay for some of the shortfall in what he is gaining by way of income from revenues from these properties and what he is paying out -- in addition to the $3 billion will be some $300 million. I might add that is a very conservative figure on an annualized basis. It just does not make sense to us that a $35,000- or $40,000-a-year income earner should be subsidizing housing for a $100,000 plus per year income earner. Is the minister prepared to stop that kind of nonsense, and quickly?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I believe I know the particular tenant the honourable member is referring to. I would draw to his attention that the co-op association in this metropolitan area, when informed of that, themselves said that this is truly an exceptional situation. You have to go back to when the people involved first moved in to understand the changes that have taken place.
There is no doubt about it that this is not an appropriate situation, but let me remind my friend that the purpose of nonprofit housing is to get a mix of incomes. As the member knows, the Ontario Housing Corporation deals only with the very lowest of incomes. The sense from the tenants of Ontario Housing was that it is far better if we have a mix.
My friend will be aware that at least 70% of the tenants in non-profit housing, whether it is co-op or not, are those in what we call rent geared to income where they pay 25%. The other 30% are on average people who are paying market rents. In other words, they are paying the same rent for that unit that the unit would command in the general open market. It is true that we are paying a subsidy for everybody, but the particular situation the member has described is most exceptional and is not appropriate.
Mr Brandt: The minister cannot with any certainty make that last statement. He knows full well that the list with respect to the financial status of some of those residents is not available to him, is not available for public consumption to anyone. So the fact of the matter is there are all kinds of people -- I am prepared to go on record as making this accusation today in this House -- that there are many people who are earning very large incomes who are working the system to take advantage of the taxpayers who are subsidizing their housing. It is wrong for people of low and moderate income to have to pay more taxes in an already overburdened tax system in order to subsidize the rich. Is the minister prepared to look into it and stop it, because it is wrong?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would remind my friend once more that the people of upper income pay full market rent and it is possible in some situations --
Mr Brandt: So $1,100 is full market rent?
Hon Mr Sweeney: If that is the comparable market rent, yes, that is what they pay.
It is possible in some situations that the market in a particular community would be lower than the economic rent for that building, that is true, in which case there would be a subsidy involved. I accept the pronouncements of the co-op community that in fact the situation the member described is most unusual.
He is right: I do not have the list. I would be quite prepared to request from the co-op community some indication of the range of incomes that people are paying. I do not have it at the present time. They do have it. They have indicated it is an exceptional situation. Until I have information otherwise, I am prepared to accept their word.
The Speaker: Just before I recognize the next questioner, I wonder if the House would give me permission to name a former member, Edward Sargent.
Mr Allen: To the Minister of Community and Social Services: The minister knows that the couple of dozen agencies that are out front today bringing the budget back to the government work very closely with the largest single group of poor, either on social assistance or among the poor generally, namely, single parents and their children. The minister a year ago identified, as one of the critical elements necessary for them to move off social assistance into self-support and independence, the necessity of an active and aggressive program to supply day care spaces and day care facilities.
I want to ask the minister, therefore, why it is that this year’s announcement with respect to child care cuts the pace of development in this province by half, currently leaves 61,000 families in Metro alone on the waiting lists and provides almost no money for startup spaces for new child care facilities in this province.
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member is aware, this year we have put some $20 million into the system: $10 million that is to be used to assist those municipalities that were having real problems in stabilizing the existing situation and then a further $10 million that would add some 3,200 spaces to that system. We quite recognize, as I said at the time when I was speaking to the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, that we would have liked, and it was our intent, to have done much more than that in our next phase.
Unfortunately, what we were faced with was a $160-million cut under the Canada assistance plan which affected virtually everything we did. We believe that we have been able to keep the process moving, that we are going to be able to meet a number of needs, but we quite recognize that there still is a need out there and that we have to put our money to help those who are most in need.
Mr Allen: It is very interesting that this government, although it continually refers to the cuts in the CAP program from the federal government being a major problem, has never joined the other provinces in taking the federal government to court on it. They announced a $600-million surplus last year, and yet they have already turned down $10 million in capital requests for startup funding in Metropolitan Toronto alone. Just this morning, I learned of 21 further proposals that have been rejected in terms of day care development programs, one of them at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, for example. Although they had spent several thousands of dollars in developing a project to provide workplace day care for their children, spent many, many hours in developing the idea and almost had the shovel in the ground, they got turned down.
Everyone knows that the provision of early childhood education and child care spaces has incredible repercussions all down the whole poverty front and the accessing and necessity of social services of all kinds from education to corrections in subsequent years. Why is this minister not actively increasing the provision of child care spaces rather than cutting back the pace of development in this province?
Hon Mr Beer: First of all, I would say that we are very much involved in the court case in British Columbia, and indeed Ontario was the first to announce after British Columbia moved, after the province referred the question, to state that we would be there. We have been participating.
I would also say to the honourable member that when you look at the record of the government over the last three or four years, what you see is an increase in funding from some $89 million to just under $400 million. Indeed, the amount of money in child care that is going into Metropolitan Toronto is greater than the amount that the whole province was receiving just four or five years ago. We recognize that there is a tremendous demand.
I am not aware of the particular case the member has referred to. I will look into that.
I would say that we are at the present time dealing with specific areas in Metropolitan Toronto to see how we can in fact continue to ensure that the existing programs go forward, that nothing will be cut and to what extent we can increase. But I would have to say that until the federal government returns to the table, it is very difficult for us to make long-term plans and to continue to grow at the rate we have been growing over the last number of years.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is also to the Minister of Community and Social Services and is on the same topic as the question of my colleague the member for Hamilton West. The subject is child care.
The minister is very much aware, of course, of his own child care paper and his promises of 1985 and again of 1987, this very popular document out there with parents and day care providers, New Directions for Child Care. I asked this question about 18 months ago to his predecessor, and it has to do with private home day care.
The Day Nurseries Act is restrictive with respect to the number of children who can be cared for in a private home day care. Specifically, Ontario regulation 760/83, section 56, stipulates that the number of children who can be cared for in a private home cannot exceed five. We are looking for ways of providing child care that are efficient, accessible and quality. This is the way to do it. My colleague would agree that there are lots of opportunities out there.
School-aged children --
The Speaker: And the question.
Mrs Cunningham: -- require a different kind of care, and this is an opportunity in private homes. The minister’s predecessor stated that he would review --
The Speaker: Order. Really, it is not statement time.
Would you place your question?
Mrs Cunningham: My question to the minister is, can he tell the House what kind of progress he has made, considering it has been 18 months since I asked this same question?
Hon Mr Beer: There are two issues I would want to remind the honourable member about. One of them deals with the fundamental issue around safety, which she herself has also raised on a number of occasions and where we have been very concerned to ensure the safety of children in day care, whether in a school setting, in a municipal centre or in a private home. One of the issues has been around how many people can be in the private home day care setting and what kind of inspection procedures and so on we should have in place so that the public can be confident that children in those homes will be safe. That has been at the basis of our concern.
In terms of new legislation, we are addressing a number of issues, including how we can expand the range of options and choices, because we know that 80% of those using day care are in fact using day care in private homes or in neighbourhoods. We are also looking at the after-school component of that. I would also have to say that in any expansion of the program we believe that to do what needs to be done and to really get the choice there, we are going to need the federal government to come back to the table so that we can go together and go forward in a partnership.
Mrs Cunningham: I was listening carefully to the minister, and I would suggest that the regulations in Ontario are somewhat restrictive on their own. That was admitted by the minister’s predecessor. I think he should also know that his best advisers out there in the government are saying there should be changes in this regulation. He did in fact promise a new child care act. In the last two campaigns that has been the government’s promise. I think he also stated that this new act would be developed through a public consultative process. He cannot begin to change the act without the process. We have not heard about this process. The discussion paper was to be released in 1988-89. When can we expect this public consultative process around a paper that was to be released in 1988-89 and that we are all waiting for?
Hon Mr Beer: We have indeed been working on that paper and there will be a full consultative process around the new act. Again, I would have to remind the honourable member that we were proceeding from 1987 with a certain series of assumptions, one of which was that there would be a federal child care act, that there would be federal child care policies with which we were going to be working in order to expand and develop the whole process. We have had to change that because that clearly has not happened or may not happen. That has changed the nature of the document, but we are proceeding with it. We are proceeding with developing new legislation and all of that will be out for public consultation.
Mr Mahoney: My question is to the Minister of Energy. Over the past month I have received many calls, both from constituents in my riding as well as from Mississauga Hydro, regarding the addition of a debt guarantee fee to local hydro operations in their cost of purchasing hydro from Ontario Hydro. As I am sure the minister is aware, this increased cost to the local operations is in turn reflected back on to the consumers’ hydro bill. In Mississauga the debt guarantee fee adds $5.5 million to the local bill and adds 2.2% to the cost of hydro alone. Can the minister clarify to this Legislature the basis for this debt guarantee fee?
Hon Mrs McLeod: The debt guarantee fee was introduced by the government in May 1989. It is a fee which is essentially a charge to Hydro reflecting the debt guarantee and also reflecting services that are provided to Ontario Hydro by the government, such as borrowing on Hydro’s behalf. The fee is something which was recommended by the Ontario Energy Board in each of the two previous years before the fee was introduced. The debt guarantee fee and the way in which it has been implemented are consistent with the Ontario Energy Board’s recommendations to us.
Mr Mahoney: Given Hydro’s mandate to deliver hydro services to the residents of Ontario as inexpensively as possible and on a cost pass-through basis, can the minister assure members in this Legislature that a regular review will be conducted on both the rate of hydro increases and the amount that Hydro proposes to recover the debt guarantee fee costs?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I can assure the honourable member that there is a regular review that is carried out, on an annual basis in fact, of the proposals that Hydro has for rate increases. It is of course a decision of the Ontario Hydro board of directors as to how the debt guarantee fee will be incorporated in the annual rates. But those rate proposals are then reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board each year.
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of Health. The minister, I am sure, is aware that I have on a number of occasions raised the concerns of citizens of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island about the harm that may be done to their health because their drinking water comes from the St Clair River. Last November, the birth of several babies with birth defects increased that concern. Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, citizens asked the Ministry of Health to release a report that had been done on the relationship between birth defects and drinking water. An official in the minister’s department replied to the group by saying:
“The Ministry of Health has concerns about the information contained in this report. Specifically, the ministry has reservations about the methodology and conclusions of the report. Until such time as a review is complete, the ministry will not take responsibility for the information contained in this report.”
Can the minister tell the House whether her position on this epidemiological report has changed and, if so, will she now release the report?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am very familiar with this issue, and the member opposite knows my commitment, as Minister of Health, to ensuring that the people of this province have the information they need as well as ensuring the quality of our water. Even though that is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Health is there to support the efforts of the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that the people of this province can have confidence, as they do.
In response to her specific question, I can tell the member that the ministry expects to complete its review of this report shortly. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment followed this study following, as she knows, the Sarnia blob incident in 1984, and the report will be released once the entire study has been reviewed by both ministries. She should know that the report suggests that in fact the birth defects in Wallaceburg and Tilbury, two of the communities that we studied, are lower than in the rest of southwestern Ontario although the difference is not regarded as statistically significant. The information that is in that report is under review right now. We want to make sure that we get the very best of expert advice.
Mrs Grier: The point of my question is to point out to the minister the inconsistency between saying on the one hand, as her official did in May, that the ministry has reservations about the methodology and conclusions of the report, and on the other hand saying, as the Minister of the Environment did last January, that the study concluded there was no connection between the quality of the drinking water and the birth defects. I want to say to the minister, they cannot have it both ways.
It is now four years since the Minister of the Environment promised there would be a pipeline to bring water from Lake Huron to the citizens of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island. The report from which the statistics came was concluded in 1985. Will the minister undertake to review with her colleague the Minister of the Environment the need for that pipeline? She cannot say on the one hand the report is flawed and on the other hand, we do not need a pipeline because the report does not show the need. Will she come clean and guarantee clean water for the citizens of Wallaceburg?
The Speaker: That is a couple of supplementaries.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to member that in fact Dr W. F. Everett, medical officer of health of the Kent-Chatham health unit, completed the review of the potential link between the 1989 spill and the birth of two children in that area. He confirmed diagnosis using local physician notices of live births and provincial birth defects surveillance data to the end of October 1989. Dr Everett found that birth abnormalities were within normal limits for Wallaceburg and revealed these findings in a press release issued 17 November 1989.
I want the member to know that the study she refers to is under review by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment. We expect to have that review completed shortly, and I know that she shares with me the importance of making sure that the people of that area have the information, that it is accurate and that it is available to them in as timely a manner as possible, ensuring that in fact it has been reviewed by the experts.
AIR TRAVEL INDUSTRY
Mr Runciman: My question is for the $1,000-a-night Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; one of the few cabinet ministers in the House today, I might add.
Mr Runciman: A very sensitive bunch, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Order. The member knows standing order 20(b) as well as anyone.
The Speaker: Order. We will just rest a while. If you want to waste the time, go ahead.
Mr Runciman: An article appeared in yesterday’s Globe and Mail concerning a $6-million line of credit recently extended by the minister to Worldways Canada Ltd, a charter air carrier. The airline’s vice-president said in the article that the ministry called him out of the blue, looking to extend financial aid. That is rather odd since the airline is enjoying its best summer to date. However, the vice-president said, “When somebody holds up a chequebook, we’d say sure ... here’s what we need.” Why is the minister bending over backwards to help Worldways when just two months ago stranded Thomson Vacations and Odyssey travellers were denied full reimbursement of their travel costs?
Hon Mr Kwinter: This is a difficult situation for me, considering the Globe and Mail has just gone through its complete resurrection; it has got this great new format, but that does not mean that it is accurate. I want to say that just because the article said that is no indication that it was true. I want the member to know that I received a letter from Worldways saying that in fact the article in the Globe and Mail was inaccurate and that the initiative for getting help did come from Worldways.
I should tell the member that Worldways is operating but it was experiencing some very severe potential cash-flow problems. As a result of that, they made representations to our ministry, through the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and felt that given the fact that they are trying to dispose of some aircraft and dispose of some of the other problems they had, unless this help was forthcoming we would have had a duplication of exactly the problem that the member identified.
Mr Runciman: If the minister is so confident of his re-election possibilities that he can engage in media bashing, I am not going to endorse that; I simply want to offer a better explanation. In the past six months, six of 11 charter airlines have folded in Canada. Obviously the minister is very concerned about possible collapses and blemishes on his record in this pre-election period. He is worried to the point that he is throwing around taxpayers’ dollars.
In the past two days we have seen our Monte Kwinter, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology transformed into Worldways’s Monty Hall. Taxpayers who foot the bill for the minister’s $1,000-a-night hotel rooms, $800,000 videos and ministry blank cheques will be the ultimate deal-makers in the next election, and it will be too late then for the minister to say, “Let’s make a deal.”
Will the minister tell us how many other companies have been approached by his government in this manner, how many others have been offered a blank cheque?
Hon Mr Kwinter: If I could just spend a minute, I would like to quote a letter from the president of Worldways. It says:
“Regrettably, the Globe and Mail article of this morning Report on Business contains several inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and was written in an embellished style by the reporter, which sheds an improper light on this matter.
“... we want to confirm that officials of the business regulations branch did contact Worldways and inquired about our current financial status as there is no public information available concerning our company. We confirmed that all air carriers were encountering financial hardships at this time and Worldways indeed needed some short-term financial assistance. These officials put our company in touch with the Ontario Development Corp, with whom we are working out this short-term financial assistance package which will help us through this brief, difficult period.”
Signed, Michael Abate, executive vice-president and J. Robert McGee, vice-president, commercial and corp affairs, Worldways Canada Ltd.
Mr Callahan: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Recently in my riding we received a grant of $86,208 for two in-school child care programs. In fact, they were Our Lady of Good Voyage Junior Y and the family day care services for Cherrytree Child Care Centre. What does that money, that grant, cover in terms of the costs of the day care centres or the day spaces that are set up?
Hon Mr Beer: The honourable member makes reference to an excellent initiative that this government took several years ago. In co-operation with the Ministry of Education, we are in the process of both building and then funding the operating cost of some 200 child care centres across the province.
To date, some 56 are in operation, which means that between now and 1993 the other 144 will be brought on line. This is having, I believe, a very important impact, particularly in the fast-growth areas such as Peel region, York region, Durham, Carleton and other areas where new schools are going in. That was precisely where we were targeting the capital dollars and the operating dollars.
The specific dollars for the two child care centres that the member mentioned cover a variety of things: helping with startup costs, with staffing and with the purchase of various supplies and so on that are needed to get a new child care centre going. It is an excellent initiative and one which we are very proud of as a government.
Mr Callahan: I have had inquiries from constituents in my riding, recognizing the fact that we are receiving rather generous capital funds for building new schools and there will be day care centres established in these schools pursuant to the policy. Can the minister indicate for the benefit of my constituents, if people are interested in participating or opening up these child care centres, what are the criteria and do they apply through his ministry or the Ministry of Education?
Hon Mr Beer: As I mentioned, with these centres the Ministry of Education, through working with local school boards, looks after the capital needs. Then we work with community groups in determining the funding and making arrangements for the operation to proceed.
If there is a community group in the honourable member’s area that is interested in opening a non-profit child care centre, it should make contact with a representative of our ministry. We would be happy to sit down with them and look at what the needs are in the community and whether in that particular area there is a new school going in where in fact there would be a child care facility.
CENTRAL STAMPINGS LTD
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. He will be aware that over the last few weeks I have raised several questions in the House about layoffs and loss of jobs in the Windsor area.
Today I would like to ask him a question about a company named Central Stampings, where approximately 40 jobs could be lost, not as a result of the loss of the market but as a result of a company named Karmex, which has come in and bid for some of those jobs. He will be aware that Karmex is owned by Magna International Inc and this particular company received $20.4 million in government aid, $10.2 million from the minister’s government just back in 1986.
How would it be possible that a company receiving substantial grants from this level of government, once established, would not be creating new jobs but would in fact be competing with existing auto parts companies and taking away jobs from Canadian workers?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I have a little difficulty understanding the point of the question. Magna is a Canadian company. Magna is one of the largest, if not the largest, auto parts manufacturing company, certainly in Canada, probably in North America, and one of the largest in the world. It has a huge number of employees, who benefit Ontarians right across this province.
When we provide money to it, we do not say, “We’ll give you this money, but we restrict where you can do business.” There is a marketplace out there and if a company competes, there is no role for government to intercede and say, “You cannot compete with that particular company.” I do not think the member would expect us to get into that position where we determine who should get the business and who should not get the business in the private sector.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I thought the purpose of intervention from the government would have been to create brand-new jobs and to perhaps get some of the work of the auto parts that are being produced in Japan or the United States, get that production in Canada. But instead what he is doing is taking the production out of Windsor, and he is doing that with government money.
Why would the workers and the owners of Central Stampings not believe that it is pretty unfair competition when they are competing with their existing corporation and facilities and Magna is competing with $20 million worth of government money. Where is the fairness and where is the free enterprise?
Hon Mr Kwinter: The moneys that are provided by the government of Ontario are not provided to companies that are doing business just to help them compete with other companies in Ontario. The moneys that go to companies like that are creating new facilities in communities where we think that economic stimulation is required.
Mr D. S. Cooke: This is in the greater Toronto area. That is in Milton. We have 13% unemployment.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I am suggesting to the member that if the NDP had come to power --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Milton needs to be subsidized. Give me a break.
The Speaker: Order. Would the minister take his seat?
Mr D. S. Cooke: Give me a break. The greater Toronto area is getting this and we have got 13% unemployment. What a pile of crap.
The Speaker: Order. Would the member for Windsor-Riverside show a little respect.
Mr D. S. Cooke: No, not when I get that kind of a response from the minister.
The Speaker: Order. Will you show some respect for the institution?
New question, the member for Mississauga South.
BIOMEDICAL WASTE DISPOSAL
Mrs Marland: In asking a question to the Minister of Health, I think it should be noted that over half the cabinet is away today. We have less than 13 cabinet ministers here, and I think maybe we should schedule question period around their personal schedules.
The minister cannot abdicate responsibilities. In April 1986 --
The Speaker: Order. Can we make that clock tick a little faster? No? The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: In April 1986 the Legislature received the report of the interministry task force on biomedical waste, A Strategy for the Management of Biomedical Waste. The report said:
“The reliance by hospitals and most medical laboratories for disposal of biomedical waste outside Ontario, combined with the many hospital incinerators requiring upgrading or replacement, leads to the conclusion that a major enhancement of the biomedical waste treatment capacity is essential in Ontario.”
It has now been four years since that report was completed. Can the minister advise us which recommendations of this report have been implemented?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I can respond very positively to the member opposite and assure her that as part of our capital planning framework the incineration needs, the biomedical waste capacity in the province is considered a priority under that framework and the Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that that is addressed on a priority basis.
Mrs Marland: It is obvious that the minister cannot find it in her briefing book, because I would tell her that we are still having to ship this dangerous waste to Gatineau, Quebec and Hampton, South Carolina. It is obvious we still have a problem that could reach crisis proportions. I would also remind the minister that it has been almost four years since four Toronto area hospitals were in fact taken to court for dumping dangerous biomedical waste into landfill sites.
The 1986 report that I mentioned has identified 85 hospital incinerators that needed replacement or upgrading. That was 62% of all hospital incinerators. Can the minister tell us what remedial action has been taken to ensure that hospital incinerators in Ontario do not pose a threat to human health and safety?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the member opposite that in fact technology in this area is changing very rapidly, that the Ministry of Health is encouraging the kind of innovation that will lead to the resolution of what I acknowledge is an important challenge.
We have a project under way in Metropolitan Toronto which is quite innovative as an approach to dealing with biomedical waste and, as I have said to the member, as part of our capital planning framework we have identified the needed resources to be able to respond appropriately.
A plan is under way and we are actively working with the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that it is done in a way which responds to the latest technology, the latest innovation and improvement and responds appropriately to the needs of the province of Ontario.
ONTARIO HYDRO ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. The minister will know that Ontario Hydro announced some weeks ago that it intended to proceed with individual site-specific environmental assessments on several of the proposals in the global demand-supply plan. I have received documents which would indicate that Ontario Hydro intends to violate the Environmental Assessment Act in the process of preparing for those hearings and preparing for building those plants.
Is the minister aware that Ontario Hydro is planning to spend far beyond what the act allows, and will she tell this House this afternoon that she is prepared to do something to see that Hydro is subjected to the full weight of the Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I know the honourable member is well aware of the environmental assessment hearing that Ontario Hydro’s demand-supply plans will be reviewed through. I certainly would assure the honourable member that I would not see Ontario Hydro violating the Environmental Assessment Act, nor would it be Hydro’s intention to violate that act.
I believe it is Hydro’s understanding that it is possible under the Environmental Assessment Act for a proponent to undertake feasibility studies, including research and other activities that are necessary to actually comply with the act, before approval is given to proceed with an undertaking.
The question of the cost which is allowable under the act is one which I do not have information on, and I will undertake to ensure that any financial commitments are consistent with the act.
Mr Charlton: In that respect, perhaps the minister should look specifically at the past and compare it to the present. In 1976, when Ontario Hydro was exempted from the Environmental Assessment Act around the construction of Darlington, the government and Hydro both said, and said clearly on the record, that they had done all that was required by the Environmental Assessment Act in spite of the exemption that was put in place. That only included 20% of the engineering and planning for that project.
Hydro is now proposing to proceed with 65% of the engineering and planning costs around three additional nuclear sites. I would suggest to the minister that there is clear indication that Hydro intends to violate the act. Will she ensure that there is no violation of the Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon Mrs McLeod: It is absolutely clear from everything that I have said in the House, from everything that we have indicated in terms of Hydro’s DSP proposals, that we have indicated from the outset that those would be placed before an environmental assessment panel with full review and full public consultation on all aspects of the plan, including the determination of need, including the cost of options and including the particular mix of options that Ontario Hydro has proposed. That, as the honourable member will know, is phase 1 of the plan.
Phase 2 of the review will be to look at site-specific approvals of whatever mix of options receives approval under phase 1. What is being proceeded with right now, and I must make that absolutely clear to the House, is the pre-assessment research and technical development that is done in order to expedite site-specific hearings which would take place under phase 2 but which can only take place after approvals are given in phase 1. It includes not just the nuclear stations but also combustion, turbine units and hydro projects.
Mr Cousens: My question is for the Minister of Education. It stems from the deficits that are now accumulating in Roman Catholic separate school systems across the province and the fact that some 24 boards, in my understanding, have a deficit and that deficit is increasing.
How can we in Ontario say that we have equal systems for both public and separate school boards of education when we have one system, the separate system, accumulating great deficits and having to cut back programs and the other, the public system, as claimed by some, having at least some surplus? How can the Minister of Education then say that they have equality of opportunity, equality of education? To me there is something seriously wrong when there is the financial imbalance that we now see here in Ontario.
Hon Mr Conway: I appreciate the ongoing interest of my honourable friend the member for Markham in this subject, which we first broached in the House last week. I can tell my honourable friend that with respect to the deficit question, it is to be observed that the Education Act is very clear. No school board is allowed by law to plan for a deficit; that is simply not permitted. In the event that a deficit might arise, there is a requirement that a school board plan for a retirement of that deficit over a relatively short period of time.
It is also true that as we look at the estimates that are arriving now from a number of school boards, for a wide range of reasons, many of them in the separate community appear to be having some difficulty meeting the requirement of the Education Act, which will be enforced.
I want to say to the House that the Ministry of Education, through its regional offices, will be working with and assisting those school boards which appear to be having some difficulty in addressing that concern within the context of and within conformity of the requirement of the Education Act.
Mr Pouliot: I am still shaking my head, with respect, at the response from the Minister of Education. What a talented person indeed.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr Pouliot: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario in so far as we feel the proposed goods and services tax when applied to the cost of hydro, will have an adverse effect on the lives of the residents of northern Ontario.”
It is duly signed by 24 worthy residents of the township of Manitouwadge, the great area of northwestern Ontario, and I have affixed my signature to it.
Mr Grandmaître: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by three people requesting the Legislative Assembly to repeal French-language services. I have not applied my signature to that petition.
CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE
M. Poirier : J’ai quatre pétitions des associations des parents et enseignants des écoles Saint-Paul et Sainte-Euphémie à Casselman ; de l’école Saint-Viateur à Limoges ; de l’école Saint-Jean d’Embrun et de l’école Paul VI de Hawkesbury demandant un conseil de langue française pour la circonscription de Prescott et Russell. J’y ai apposé ma signature.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EDUCATION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 221, An Act to amend the Education Act and the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Conway: I just have a very brief statement. The purpose of the Education Statute Law Amendment Act, 1990 is to update the Education Act to conform to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and to give legislative support for new and ongoing ministry initiatives.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD AMENDMENT ACT, 1990 / LOI DE1990 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE D’OTTAWA-CARLETON
Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 222, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act.
M. Conway propose la première lecture du projet de loi 222, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Mr Conway: This act, the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Amendment Act, is to facilitate financial reporting for the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board.
LIVESTOCK, POULTRY AND BEES DAMAGE COMPENSATION ACT, 1990 / LOI DE 1990 SUR L’INDEMNISATION EN CAS DE DOMMAGES CAUSÉS À DU BETAIL, À DES VOLAILLES ET À DES ABEILLES
Mr Ward moved, on behalf of Mr Ramsay, first reading of Bill 223, An Act to provide Compensation for Damage to Livestock, Poultry and Bees.
M. Ward, au nom de M. Ramsay, propose la première lecture du projet de loi 223, Loi prévoyant l’indemnisation en cas de dommages causés à du bétail, à des volailles et à des abeilles.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Mr Ward: The amendments have three main purposes: to update provisions concerning compensation to farmers for predator damage to livestock and poultry; to expand the classes of predators for which compensation can be paid; and to introduce housekeeping amendments which will clarify interpretations, update some provisions and remove duplication in the act.
JOHN GRAVES SIMCOE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION REPEAL ACT, 1990
Mr Wong moved, on behalf of Mr O’Neil, first reading of Bill 224, An Act to repeal the John Graves Simcoe Memorial Foundation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Wong: Briefly, the Ontario Heritage Foundation assumed responsibility for preserving the burial place of John Graves Simcoe and his wife in 1982 when title to their burial place, Wolford Chapel in Devon, England, was transferred to the foundation. The John Graves Simcoe Memorial Foundation Act is now unnecessary legislation and the repeal of the act is a housekeeping matter.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, I would like to indicate the business for the upcoming week.
On Monday 18 June, provided that committee of the whole on Bill 208 has been completed on Thursday 14 June, there will be a stacked vote to take place immediately following routine proceedings. For orders of the day we will do third readings of Bills 104, 108 and 106 and second reading of Bills 175, 148 and 150 and, time permitting, interim supply.
On Tuesday 19 June we will do third reading of Bill 208, second reading of Bill 177, second reading of Bill 220 and, time permitting, interim supply.
On Wednesday 20 June we will deal with the ratification of the 1990 constitutional agreement.
On Thursday 21 June, the House will not sit, pursuant to a previous order of the House.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Frankly, I do not know whether this is in order, but I would like to know if the House leader could clarify whether the House will be dealing with the ratification on Wednesday even if the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs has not yet reported
Hon Mr Ward: The referral to the committee of the House, which was done by way of order of the House, indicates that the matter is to be reported on 20 June -- number 1. Number 2 I would point out that the ratification would be done by way of a government notice of motion called under orders of the day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Hon Mr Ward: I would just like to point out that earlier today in the House leaders’ meeting it was agreed that all the votes that were being stacked on this bill would take place immediately following routine proceedings next Monday. I would just like to indicate that and confirm the unanimous consent of the House.
The Chair: Is that agreed?
Mr Mackenzie: I have no difficulty in agreeing with that. I just want to be sure that we will follow the same proceedings as we did on Thursday of last week in the interests of getting it through today, and that is that we can notify of the divisions but without having to stand at each division.
The Chair: You have an amendment. Is that correct?
Mr Mackenzie: We have filed our amendments with the Chair.
The Chair: I think what we should do right now is complete the discussion on Mr Mackenzie’s motion and take the vote on it. Then we will go back to the minister’s section 24. Then we will look at that new additional motion on section 24. Is that correct?
Mr Mackenzie: That is correct.
The Chair: Would you like to complete any discussion you may have?
Mr Mackenzie: I think we had pretty well completed the discussion, but we never got to the vote on subsection 24(3a).
The Chair: Fair enough. Any other discussion on subsection 24(3a)?
All those in favour of Mr Mackenzie’s motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that subsections 24(1), (2), and (3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“24(1) Subsection 23(3) of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following clause:
“(ba) The work activity the worker is required to perform is likely to endanger the worker or another worker.”
“(2)Subsection 23(6) of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following clause,
“(ba)The work activity the worker is required to perform is likely to endanger the worker or another worker.”
“(3)Subsection 23(8) of the said act is amended by inserting after ‘thing’ in the third line, ‘work activity.’”
Mr Mackenzie: This is a pretty fundamental piece of the legislation. It is the area of one of the biggest disagreements in committee and in the hearings across the province.
The government’s move in effect was to go back to the original wording in terms of the work activity legislation. What this resolution does is go back to the original wording of Bill 208 before the amendments to Bill 208. We think that is a much more effective approach to the work activity issue and certainly one that the workers in the province of Ontario would be much happier with and would think they had a measure of opportunity and justice in.
The Chair: Would the member for Hamilton East please help me? It was brought to my attention, if I look at 24(3) that is already in the bill, it seems that the wording is the same as what you are proposing. What has been amended by the committee seems to be the same as what you are proposing to amend.
Mr Mackenzie: Am I reading the right thing? We have to go back to the act, I think, just for a minute.
Mr Wildman: We understand the minister intends to go back to the original wording in the act. If that were to happen, then this subsection 3 would not be included in the government’s proposed change to the bill. So we want that part of that subsection to remain, while we want to change the other two subsections. The government is proposing to move away from what is in the bill now to what was originally in the act, so we want this subsection to remain.
The Chair: Remain as it is? Okay, fair enough, as long as we understand each other. Minister, do you have a reaction?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think we understand each other. I realize it is procedurally rather complicated.
The member is correct in saying that we have attempted to define work activity in a way that would expand the rights for workers and still be workable in the workplace. As you know from our proposed amendments that I believe we will be dealing with next, Mr Chairman, we have been unable to properly define work activity, so after much debate we felt that perhaps the best thing to do is to revert to the original language in the act. The member’s intention is to revert to the original language in the bill, so we will be voting against the member’s amendment and then we will deal with our proposed amendment following that, which will revert to the original language in the act.
Mr Wildman: We are in a very strange position in proposing this amendment. In fact, we are defending the minister’s intention against the minister. We are in fact put in the position of having to defend and to fight for what the minister intended to do when the bill was drafted. The minister was unable to achieve the right language and so the ministry, after some soul-searching and consultation, threw up its hands and said, “We’ll have to go back to the original act.” We do not think the ministry and the government should be going back to the original act. There must be improvements with regard to work activity, so we are trying to defend the original bill. It is ironic, to say the least, that here we are in the position of the opposition defending the government’s intentions against the government, but that is in fact what we were doing.
Mr Mackenzie: I do not intend to prolong it, but there are few sections in the bill that cause more concern among workers in the province of Ontario and few sections in the bill that were as widely accepted and hailed as the original wording in Bill 208 in terms of work activities. I must say, the wording that was presented by the previous minister, the member for York Centre, and to the best of my knowledge defended not only among some of his own colleagues but certainly with the trade union movement, was the original wording in terms of work activities in this legislation.
In my opinion, few things will cause more trouble down the road than this change that the government is making. Once again, I do not expect any chance of it passing, but I would suggest to the members of this House that we would have a piece of legislation that would delete a lot of the fears that exist among working people in this province if we went back to what the government itself was prepared to give us in the original draft of Bill 208.
The Chair: All those in favour of Mr Mackenzie’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
The Chair: At this point we shall resume, Minister, with your amendment, which will surely enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Hon Mr Phillips: Do you want me to read 24 --
The Chair: No. Since you have already moved it, I think we will dispense with that and we will just continue debate where we left off on it. At one point we had started to work on your motion and we had unanimous agreement to deal with amendments, so therefore we shall complete this discussion on your long amendment and we will come back to the member for Mississauga South afterwards.
Hon Mr Phillips: If I might, I would seek the indulgence of the committee for just a moment, not on this but just to alert the House that we will today require unanimous consent to deal with two items and I would just like to get the members opposite familiar with that.
One is that I think it is in subsection 3la(3) where we are substituting the words “the adjudicator” for the words “a director.” This was an amendment that was before the standing committee on resources development. The intent is to establish the independent adjudicator, but it is my understanding that because it goes beyond the original intent of our bill, it will require unanimous consent. I think it is an item that the legislative committee had general agreement that it was a good idea to establish.
The second one is that we have tabled an amendment today, subsection 38(1), that also, I am informed, will require unanimous consent. The reason I am raising it now is that I think if either of the critics or others would like further explanation, we can certainly deal with it when it comes up, but they may want also to avail themselves now. That one is designed to protect the pension plans of individuals who currently are on safety associations which fall under the Workers’ Compensation Board and then during the transition period will come under the agency. I want to alert the member to that.
If I might now go back to section 24 --
The Chair: I assume you have arranged for distribution of copies to the interpreters, Hansard, critics and everybody?
Hon Mr Phillips: I believe that is the case.
The Chair: Thank you. Now let’s go back to section 24.
Hon Mr Phillips: There really are three major sections on 24, as the members are aware. One is the item that we have just been debating with the members, the proposal to delete “the work activity” from this section. The second section of the amendment provides the right to refuse for public sector workers who previously had no right to refuse or a very restricted right to refuse. The third major section of this is again something that came up in the legislative committee around ensuring that, where a worker is exercising the right to refuse, if another worker is asked to do that work, there is a procedure in place to ensure that the worker who has been asked to do that will be informed in the presence of another worker adviser of the rationale and the reasons for that refusal. Those are the three major sections.
I believe that when we last debated it the official opposition asked that we deal with this in three sections. I have no difficulty if, procedurally, that is possible to do.
The Chair: Any other comments or questions?
Mr Mackenzie: Just to the first item that the minister raised, the unanimous consent. We did not deal with that in the House, did we?
The Chair: We will deal with that at the time we get to that particular point, but now we are on section 24. Does anybody have any comments on this government amendment?
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
The Chair: I heard that there was unanimous consent among the parties to revert back to section 18, I presume, where the member for Mississauga South had a proposed amendment. Is that correct?
Mrs Marland: I did request unanimous consent to revert back to section 18. I notice that section 18 had already been carried, so I am requesting that we reopen it.
The Chair: There is still unanimous agreement to that. Yes?
The Chair: Mrs Marland moves that section 18 of the bill, which seeks to amend section 19 of the act, be struck out.
Would the member for Mississauga South want to give an explanation or something?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I would like to. The section of the bill that I am asking to be struck out says the following:
“An architect as defined in the Architects Act, 1984 and a professional engineer as defined in the Professional Engineers Act, 1984 contravenes this act if, as a result of his or her advice that is given or his or her certification required under this act that is made negligently or incompetently, a worker is endangered.”
The two acts that are referred to in this actual section, the Architects Act, 1984 and the Professional Engineers Act, 1984, in themselves provide the same protection that this addition in section 18 provides. So, in fact, it is redundant. It is not necessary to have section 18 in here, because under their existing acts which allow them to practise, they are fully liable if there is an injury sustained not only by a worker but a member of the public or anyone else as a result of their work, their design or their certification.
Quite frankly, the architects and the engineers in Ontario are upset that they, as two professions, are singled out. There are other professions. If the minister thought it was necessary to add them in Bill 208, he could also have had clauses to address their areas of responsibility.
I will wait to hear the comments of the minister, but the reason that section should be struck out, frankly, is that it is redundant and it focuses on only two professions, unnecessarily.
The Chair: Minister, if you want to react, that is fair enough, but I just want to tell the member for Mississauga South that it is out of order to make this -- I will tell her why afterwards, unless you want to react now. I think maybe if you want to react, you should, since I allowed the member for Mississauga South to present that so far. Did you want to react, Minister?
Hon Mr Phillips: I will react to the content of it -- I am not sure how we deal with it if it is out of order -- just to make two points. I am told we have consulted with the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, and during the discussions with the ministry, we also consulted with the Ontario Association of Architects. All three bodies have now accepted the revised wording and are satisfied with the consultative process. There has been a good deal of consultation with them.
I think the reason we put it in was in recognition that these two bodies do play an awfully large role in the health and safety of workers. We put a large obligation on our employers, but we felt that these two bodies also have a major obligation to health and safety. Those are the two points I would make. One is the important role these two groups play and, second, I believe the wording is wording that they have been consulted on and find they can live with.
Mrs Marland: There is no question who plays a larger role than the architects and the engineers; that is not the issue. There is no question about the role they play in designing the workplaces for the workers, who may or may not be at risk in the province. There is no question; that is not the issue.
The issue is they are not the only professions involved. Also, their liability and their risk for negligence or incompetence is already identified in their acts. If the minister says that his staff has consulted with the architects’ and the engineers’ associations and they are quite happy with this wording. I wonder how long ago that consultation took place and if it is possible to have a name of who was spoken to at the OAA or the APEO. The reason that I am making the amendment is obviously because I have been asked to do so by those associations. It is something that I am doing to represent their interests, at their request.
The Chair: I just want to tell the member that, regrettably, we have to rule that her proposed amendment is out of order because parliamentary practice, tradition, does not permit deleting entire sections. Only parts of sections can be deleted, if they do not affect the purpose of the entire section. I suggest that when I ask if section 18 shall stand as part of the bill, if members do not want a particular section to be brought in, then at that point they can vote against it. I just thought I would explain that to you and to any others in the future who may want to bring similar motions.
Mrs Marland: I respect your ruling and will obviously adhere to it. May I suggest that if we do not finish this bill today -- I am hopeful that we will, but if we do not, may I request the indulgence of the government and the official opposition to try to bring back an amendment that would be acceptable in terms of procedure where I would not be striking out the whole section but in fact still dealing with the same intent and concern of the architects and the engineers.
The Chair: Provided that your proposed amendment does not affect the purpose of the entire section. Do you understand?
Mrs Marland: I understand.
The Chair: Fair enough.
Mr Wildman: Is it in order to move the deletion of the Chairman?
The Chair: It is not in order to move deletion of the Chairman. No, it is not.
Shall section 18 stand as part of the bill? Agreed? Since we opened discussion on a proposed amendment to section 18, and since I ruled it out of order, I have to ask --
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: To be fair, I think the member for Mississauga South has essentially asked that it be stood down.
Mrs Marland: Yes.
The Chair: Well, I ruled it out of order.
Mr Wildman: No, but she has asked that the section be stood down because she wants to bring in an amendment tomorrow or the next day when we are dealing with this.
The Chair: Fair enough. At any time during the committee of the whole that anybody wants to bring something forward, if there is unanimous consent, and you seem to have it, you can bring it forward and we will reopen the books on section 18 or anything else that you want to do. If there is unanimous consent, I am quite agreeable. You have asked for it and you have mentioned that you will want to do that. At that particular point when you do bring it forward, I will have to ask for unanimous consent, and if we have it, we will play with that at that point.
I should still ask to carry section 18, and whenever the member for Mississauga South or any other member wants to ask for unanimous consent at any time to reopen the dossier, then we will do it. I want to close this particular chapter for now, and it can be reopened at any time, as long as we have unanimous consent.
Mr Wildman: As long as Elijah Harper is not a member.
The Chair: That is right. Shall section 18 stand as part of the bill?
Section 18 agreed to.
The Chair: We have a series of proposed amendments to section 25 here, official opposition motions.
Mr Dietsch: Did we have section 24 passed?
The Chair: We cannot do that with section 24, because we have a whole series of divisions on section 24. It is only after I have finished that we will vote on section 24, and then I will ask, “Shall section 24 pass, as amended?” or whatever; only after division.
Hon Mr Phillips: I thought you were saying we were moving on to section 25, and the only problem is -- my memory is failing me -- did we deal with the New Democratic Party motion on clause 24(3a)?
The Chair: Yes, we did.
Hon Mr Phillips: We did deal with it. I am sorry. Fine.
The Chair: Yes, and it is stacked for division. As far as I am concerned, we have completed everything that was brought forward for section 24. We cannot call for it because we still have a whole series of divisions on section 24. Now we are attacking section 25.
The Chair: If I am not mistaken, I have six proposed amendments to section 25. Is that correct?
Mr Mackenzie: Yes, we have some of them.
The Chair: Some? I have six. Do you have six?
Mr Mackenzie: Yes. Do you want to start with the first one?
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that subsection 23a(l) of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
23a(1) “A certified member who has reasonable grounds to believe,
“(a) that a provision of this act or the regulations is being contravened, that the contravention poses a danger or a hazard to a worker and any delay in controlling it will cause serious risk to the worker; or
“(b) that a danger or hazard to a worker is present and any delay in controlling it will cause serious risk to the worker,
“may direct an employer to stop work specifying the work or the use of any part of a workplace or any equipment, machine, device, article or thing that is to be discontinued.”
Mr Mackenzie: This is the argument that reasonable grounds to believe that there may be a danger is adequate to give the right to shut down, because it is impossible in many workplace situations to state with an absolute certainty, even though the workers who are working on the job and used to it may very well know that it is an unsafe situation. We feel fairly strongly that this amendment should be carried.
Hon Mr Phillips: The differences between this and our proposal are two: one is the “reasonable grounds”; the other is that we have clauses (a), (b) and (c) in ours. The point I would make is that it is necessary that a provision of the act or the regulations be contravened to take the other action.
Now, the act is quite broad and there is a broad duty within the act, so that it covers all of these circumstances. But our act is designed in such a way that it must be a contravention of the act. As I say, the act is so broad that it would encompass the circumstances that would be spelled out here in clause (b).
For those two reasons we will be voting against this amendment and in favour of our original amendment in section 25.
Mr Mackenzie: I will just go back to what I said earlier. “A provision of this act or the regulations is being contravened.” That is what the ministry and the government say. I do not think that takes away from the argument I made earlier, “as long as the worker has reasonable grounds,” which I think is the essential point. I do not see that kind of firm protection being given in the minister’s amendment.
The Chair: Are you ready for the vote? Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Deferred? Division? The member for Hamilton East.
Mr Mackenzie: I am a little bit at a loss here. I think I will move the motion anyhow. I am not sure that it still really stands.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that subsection 23a(2) of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(2) If a certified member receives a complaint that the circumstances described in subsection (1) exist, the certified member shall investigate the complaint immediately.”
Mr Mackenzie: I had put it down originally in my notes as housekeeping in trying to be sure I understood what I was doing myself. I think it really applies if the previous amendment we moved is agreed to, but maybe we can have a vote on it, in any event.
Hon Mr Phillips: I believe that the wording we are proposing is “may,” if I am not mistaken. The reason we have the word in is that the certified representative is well-trained and knowledgeable in health and safety and that there may be circumstances where, in spite of the fact that there is an issue raised by someone in the workplace, it provides the discretion that he does not have to investigate it. So it provides some discretion to the certified worker representatives that they have that discretion available to them. Based on our consultations anyway, there is the possibility that periodically that may in fact occur, where a certified worker says, “I do not think that warrants an investigation.” I think that was the intent and we will be against this amendment and sticking with our original “may.”
Mr Mackenzie: The wording says “may investigate” and I think “shall investigate” would be a little more effective.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that subsection 23a(6) of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(6) The direction to stop work may be cancelled by an inspector, or if there is not disagreement between a certified member representing the constructor or employer and a certified member representing workers, by a certified member.”
Mr Mackenzie: The inspector can move only if there is not a disagreement between the certified members.
Hon Mr Phillips: As I remember, the original intent of this was to correct what was not intended in the original bill, but which created the impression that one certified member could counteract the stop-work provision. That was what I remember, at an earlier stage, the intent of this amendment was designed to accomplish. I think we have corrected that concern in our amendment on section 25, subsections 23b(7) and (8), if everyone is there now, where we say:
“(7) After taking steps to remedy the dangerous circumstances, the constructor or employer may request the certified members or an inspector to cancel the direction.
“(8) The certified members who issued a direction may jointly cancel it or an inspector may cancel it.”
We corrected what was an original concern by some members and by people who came before our committee. As it looked in the original drafting, one certified member might cancel it and we corrected that to say it must be joint. I had thought we had accommodated the original intent of this amendment, but I am not sure whether we have fully or not.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that subsection 23(a)(7) of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out.
Mr Mackenzie: Removing the restrictions on stop-work orders in the public sector is essentially the argument.
Hon Mr Phillips: As I think all members know, we have made a substantial change in the right to refuse for public sector workers: the police, firemen, correctional officers and health care workers. As I say, that is quite a substantive move.
We are not in favour of going the extra step, which this would accomplish, of also broadening it to include the provision of the right to stop work. I understand what the member is attempting to do here, but as I say, we think we have already made a major improvement in providing protection for our public sector workers. To go this additional step at this stage would be going beyond what we would want to support. Certainly in terms of balancing, as I have said before, the public interest with the legitimate health and safety concerns of our workers, we think we have that balance now in the previous section we dealt with, section 24.
Mr Mackenzie: The minister is right. This really is especially important. Since the new move is to require a joint shutdown, why not give it to the public sector?
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that the act, as amended by section 20 of the bill, be further amended by adding the following section:
“23aa. (1) A certified member who has reason to believe,
“(a) that a provision of this act or the regulations is being contravened, that the contravention poses a danger or hazard to a worker and any delay in controlling it will cause serious risk to the worker; or
“(b) that a danger or hazard to a worker is present and any delay in controlling it will cause serious risk to the worker,
“may issue a provisional improvement order specifying that the work or the use of any part of the workplace or of any equipment, machine, device, article or thing shall be corrected.
“(2) If a certified member receives a complaint that the circumstances described in clause (1 )(a) or (b) exist, the certified member shall investigate the complaint immediately.
“(3) The employer who receives a provisional improvement order shall investigate the circumstances in the presence of the certified member.
“(4) If, after an investigation under subsection (3), the employer and the certified member disagree whether a circumstance described in clause (1 )(a) or (b) exists, either of them may notify an inspector who shall investigate and give them a decision in writing on the matter.”
Mr Mackenzie: Provisional orders: Only the ministry can now issue an order. We say that the certified member should have the same authority.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think we have provided in the bill for substantial opportunity for workplace concerns to be handled and accommodated. The previous part of this section we have been dealing with does provide certified workers with an opportunity to stop the work activity when they jointly agree on it and under certain circumstances to unilaterally stop the work.
We require joint health and safety committee reports now to be responded to by the employer in writing, for the employer to have to deal with issues that the joint health and safety committees raise. To take the extra step where the certified member may also issue his own, if you will, orders -- I think we have provided the necessary moves to ensure action take place, but there may be a variety of remedies available. We would prefer to leave the stop-work provisions as they are and to rely on the workplace parties to resolve it, and where they cannot, to have our inspectors issue the solution orders.
Mr Mackenzie: In a sense we have taken away the right to shut down, in effect, in the public sector. It seems to me that one of the ways you show confidence in the certified worker and get the employer’s attention in one heck of a hurry is to give the certified member the authority to issue orders. I really have some difficulty understanding why the ministry is so sceptical of the responsibility of certified members.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that section 23c of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out.
Mr Mackenzie: We want to be sure that the employer cannot take disciplinary action or reprisals against the workers. That is what is at stake here.
Hon Mr Phillips: I am told that we have accommodated this in our amendments. I want to be absolutely sure that is the case before I confirm it. Yes, I believe we have accommodated the concern by the complaint going to the adjudicator rather than the agency. I think the concern that some representations had before our committee was they did not want the agency involved in discipline action. I believe we have accommodated the member’s concern. I would want to be certain that he feels comfortable that we have.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: As far as I am concerned, my next proposed amendment would be to section 31, so in that case -- I have just discovered the wonderful treasure of more amendments at the back.
Mr Phillips moves that sections 23a, 23b and 23c of the act, as set out in section 25 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“23a(l) In sections 23b to 23e, ‘dangerous circumstances’ means a situation in which,
“(a) a provision of this act or the regulation is being contravened;
“(b) the contravention poses a danger or a hazard to a worker; and
“(c) the danger or hazard is such that any delay in controlling it may seriously endanger a worker.
“(2) Sections 23b to 23f do not apply with respect to,
“(a) a workplace at which workers described in clause 23(2)(a), (b) or (c) are employed; or
“(b) a workplace at which workers described in clause 23(2)(d) are employed if a work stoppage would directly endanger the life, health or safety of another person.
“23b(l) A certified member who has reason to believe that dangerous circumstances exist at a workplace may request that a supervisor investigate the matter and the supervisor shall promptly do so in the presence of the certified member.
“(2) The certified member may request that a second certified member representing the other workplace party investigate the matter if the first certified member has reason to believe that dangerous circumstances continue after the supervisor’s investigation and remedial actions, if any.
“(3) The second certified member shall promptly investigate the matter in the presence of the first certified member.
“(4) If both certified members find that the dangerous circumstances exist, the certified members may direct the constructor or employer to stop the work or to stop the use of any part of a workplace or of any equipment, machine, device, article or thing.
“(5) The constructor or employer shall immediately comply with the direction and shall ensure that compliance is effected in a way that does not endanger a person.
“(6) If the certified members do not agree whether dangerous circumstances exist, either certified member may request that an inspector investigate the matter and the inspector shall do so and provide the certified members with a written decision.
“(7) After taking steps to remedy the dangerous circumstances, the constructor or employer may request the certified members or an inspector to cancel the direction.
“(8) The certified members who issued a direction may jointly cancel it or an inspector may cancel it.
“(9) In such circumstances as may be prescribed, a certified member who represents the constructor or employer shall designate a person to act under this section in his or her stead when the certified member is not available at the workplace.
“23c(1) A certified member at a workplace or an inspector who has reason to believe that the procedure for stopping work set out in section 23b will not be sufficient to protect a constructor’s or employer’s workers at the workplace from serious risk to their health or safety may apply to the adjudicator for a declaration or recommendation described in subsection (5), or both.
“(2) An applicant shall give written notice of an application to the constructor or employer and to a director.
“(3) The minister is entitled to be a party to a proceeding before the adjudicator.
“(4) The minister may appoint an inspector to attempt to mediate a settlement of the issues between the applicant and the constructor or employer at any time after an application is made.
“(5) If the adjudicator finds that the procedure for stopping work set out in section 23b will not be sufficient to protect the constructor’s or employer’s workers at the workplace from serious risk to their health or safety, the adjudicator,
“(a) may issue a declaration that the constructor or employer is subject to the procedure for stopping work set out in section 23d for the period specified; and
“(b) may recommend to the minister that an inspector be assigned to oversee the health and safety practices of the constructor or employer at the workplace on a full-time or part-time basis for a specified period.
“(6) In making a finding under subsection (5), the adjudicator shall determine, using the prescribed criteria, whether the constructor or employer has demonstrated a failure to protect the health and safety of workers and shall consider such other matters as may be prescribed.
“(7) The decision of the adjudicator on an application is final.
“(8) The employer shall reimburse the Treasurer of Ontario for the wages, benefits and expenses of an inspector assigned to the employer as recommended by the adjudicator.
“23d(1) This section applies, and section 23b does not apply, with respect to a constructor or an employer,
“(a) against whom the adjudicator has issued a declaration under section 23c; or
“(b) who advises the committee at a workplace in writing that the constructor or employer adopts the procedures set out in this section respecting work stoppages.
“(2) A certified member may direct the constructor or employer to stop specified work or to stop the use of any part of a workplace or of any equipment, machine, device, article or thing if the certified member finds that dangerous circumstances exist.
“(3) The constructor or employer shall immediately comply with the direction and shall ensure that compliance is effected in a way that does not endanger a person.
“(4) After complying with the direction, the constructor or employer shall promptly investigate the matter in the presence of the certified member.
“(5) If the certified member and the constructor or employer do not agree whether dangerous circumstances exist, the constructor or employer or the certified member may request that an inspector investigate the matter and the inspector shall do so and provide them with a written decision.
“(6) After taking steps to remedy the dangerous circumstances, the constructor or employer may request the certified member or an inspector to cancel the direction.
“(7) The certified member who made the direction or an inspector may cancel it.
“23e(l) A certified member who receives a complaint that dangerous circumstances exist is entitled to investigate the complaint.
“(2) The time spent by a certified member in exercising powers and carrying out duties under this section and sections 23b and 23d shall be deemed to be work time for which the member’s employer shall pay the member at the regular or premium rate as may be proper.
“23f(l) A constructor, an employer, a worker at the workplace or a representative of a trade union that represents workers at the workplace may file a complaint with the adjudicator if he, she or it has reasonable grounds to believe that a certified member at the workplace recklessly or in bad faith exercised or failed to exercise a power under section 23b or 23d.
“(2) A complaint must be filed no later than 14 days after the event to which the complaint relates.
“(3) The minister is entitled to be a party to a proceeding before the adjudicator.
“(4) The adjudicator shall make a decision respecting the complaint and may make such order as he or she considers appropriate in the circumstances including an order decertifying a certified member.
“(5) The decision of the adjudicator is final.”
Any opening statement on that, Minister?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think we have been over this for some time. It is designed to set out the procedures by which the joint stop-work takes place or the unilateral stop-work takes place.
The Chair: Are we ready for the vote? Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
The Chair: The next government motion that I have is for subsection 28(1). Is that correct?
Hon Mr Phillips: I would move that subsection 28(1) of the bill be struck out.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: In my view, and I am sure you would agree, that motion is out of order. The section should just be voted down.
The Chair: You can amend a subsection, but not a section. Thank you.
Before we move to yours, Minister, I realize that there were no proposed amendments to sections 26 and 27. Shall sections 26 and 27 carry?
Sections 26 and 27 agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Phillips moves that subsection 28(1) of the bill be struck out.
Hon Mr Phillips: That subsection dealt with work activity in earlier amendments which we have taken out, so that it is not needed, since the specific reference to work activities as grounds for refusing work has been removed.
Mr Wildman: I would just like to observe that this is an admission of failure on the part of the government, the inability for it to work out the whole issue of work activity. It is unfortunate that the government was not able to live by the original wording of the bill, as was introduced by the previous minister, and has now decided to give up.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Phillips moves that section 28 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
“(3) Clause 28(l)(j)(iii) of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(iii) that a floor, roof or temporary work, or part of a building, structure or temporary work is capable of supporting or withstanding all loads to which it may be subjected without causing the materials therein to be stressed beyond the allowable unit stresses established under the Building Code Act or established by regulation.”
Hon Mr Phillips: I gather that the amendments required reflect changes in and be consistent with the building code. It is, as it says here, a technical amendment which does not make any substantive change, I am informed.
Motion agreed to.
Section 28, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Phillips moves that section 28b of the act, as set out in section 29 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“28b(1) While acting under the authority of this act, an inspector may, without a warrant or court order, seize any thing that is produced to him or her or that is in plain view if the inspector reasonably believes that this act or a regulation has been contravened and that the thing will afford evidence of the contravention.
“(2) The inspector may remove the thing seized or may detain it in the place in which it is seized.
“(3) The inspector shall inform the person from whom the thing is seized as to the reason for the seizure and shall give the person a receipt for it.
“(4) The inspector shall bring a thing seized under the authority of this section before a provincial judge or justice of the peace or, if that is not reasonably possible, shall report the seizure to a provincial judge or justice of the peace.
“(5) Sections 143 and 144 of the Provincial Offences Act apply with necessary modifications in respect of a thing seized under the authority of this section.”
Hon Mr Phillips: The intent of this is to bring the language into line, I gather, with the charter. Section 143 sets out the power of a judge or justice to order further detention of the thing seized. If a detention order is given, it cannot be for more than three months unless court proceedings have been initiated. Section 144 deals with the procedure to be followed if the thing to be seized is subject to solicitor-client privilege. Requiring an appearance before a justice of the peace or a provincial judge will make this section consistent with the Charter of Rights and with judicial processes and requirements.
Mr Wildman: I would like some further explanation as to the change in the wording from the bill as drafted. If you look at the bill as drafted, subsection 28b(1) says, “An inspector may, in the course of inspecting a workplace, seize and carry away any document or thing that the inspector considers affords evidence as to the commission of an offence under this act.”
Now the minister has added in the amendment the phrase “without a warrant or court order, seize any thing that is produced to him or her or that is in plain view if the inspector reasonably believes ...” It sounds to me as if the import of this is that an inspector could only take what is obvious, in plain view, or something that is given to him by, I suppose, the employer or someone in management at the site he is inspecting, unless the inspector obtained a warrant, and that the inspector would require a warrant or court order to seize anything that is not given to him freely by the employer or that is not sitting out on a desk or something, etc. when he arrived at the workplace.
Is that what the ministry is attempting to do here, and if so, could the minister explain why this is happening? Is it as a result of the charter or is it because the ministry is attempting in a way to curtail the leeway that the inspector has in seizing documents and things?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think the answer is coming. I am told that this wording is consistent with other similar officers -- environment officers and what not -- so I guess the intent is to ensure that we have both the authority and the right to seize the material, but that we also have a defensible right. That is why, I gather, these are the circumstances under which we exercise it without a warrant. Where we require a warrant, we get such a thing.
Motion agreed to.
Section 29, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Phillips moves that section 30 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“30(1) Subsection 29(1) of the said act is amended by inserting after ‘constructor’ in the third line ‘licensee.’
“(2) Section 29 of the said act, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1987, chapter 29, section 5, is further amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
“(3a) An order made under subsection (1) may require a constructor, a licensee or an employer to submit to the ministry a compliance plan prepared in the manner and including such items as required by the order.
“(3b) The compliance plan shall specify what the constructor, licensee or employer plans to do to comply with the order and when the constructor, licensee or employer intends to achieve compliance.
“(3) Clause 29(4)(b) of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(b) order that the work at the workplace as indicated in the order shall stop until the order to stop work is withdrawn or cancelled by an inspector after an inspection.
“(4) The said section 29 is further amended by renumbering subsection (4a) as (4b) and by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(4a) Notwithstanding clause (4)(b), a constructor, a licensee or an employer who gives notice to an inspector of compliance with an order made under subsection (4) may resume work pending an inspection and decision by an inspector respecting compliance with the order if, before the resumption of work, a committee member representing workers or a health and safety representative, as the case may be, advises an inspector that in his or her opinion the order has been complied with.
“(5) Subsection 29(6) of the said act is amended by inserting after ‘constructor’ in the second line and after ‘constructor’ in the fourth line ‘licensee.’
“(6) Subsection 29(7) of the said act is amended by inserting after ‘constructor’ in the second line ‘licensee.’”
Hon Mr Phillips: I think one of the major things is to ensure that we have added the licensee to this provision. As you may recall, Mr Chairman, we earlier on, in dealing with the logging industry, used the term “licensee,” and we have to make certain that throughout the act we refer to that. The rest is to ensure that a compliance plan is prepared where we issue an order that requires that and that it includes items that are required by the order.
Mr Mackenzie: I would like to ask the minister, then, why “Compliance plan,” (3a) in this section, says, “An order made under subsection (1) may require”? Should it not read “shall require” a comprehensive plan?
Hon Mr Phillips: There are circumstances where it does not require a plan; it simply requires compliance. In those circumstances, rather than preparing the plan, we just insist on compliance. But where the order requires a more substantive action by the employer, then this gives us the authority to require the compliance plans. As I say, there are circumstances where what is required is quite straightforward and does not require that plan.
Motion agreed to.
Section 30, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“31. The said act is further amended by adding thereto the following section:
“31a. Where there is no work for a worker because of a refusal to work under section 23, a work stoppage under section 23a, or an order under subsection 29(4), the employer shall pay to the worker an amount not less than 100% of the worker’s regular or premium rate for the period of time for which there is no work.”
Mr Mackenzie: This is obviously designed to guarantee payment for the workers involved. Without this provision, I think anybody in this House will recognize the kind of peer pressure that can be exerted on workers to stop them from taking the steps.
Hon Mr Phillips: It is our belief that the existing decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board do clarify a worker’s right to be paid during stage 1 of a refusal to work, and during stage 2, the worker is paid if he or she is assigned alternative work. If no suitable work is available, the provisions of the collective agreement or the employment contract prevail. Therefore, we do not see the necessity for this amendment.
Mr Wildman: In response to the minister’s statement, the rulings of the board have indeed indicated that workers who exercise their right to refuse will be protected and will receive payment. However, it is very unclear, and I do not think the minister meant to say it, whether the other workers who might be affected by a work refusal, if their work is also curtailed or stopped as a result, will also be protected and will have their pay during the period of the work stoppage.
Perhaps if, what I am saying is not correct, the minister can give me an example where the board has made a ruling that other workers not directly involved in the work refusal but affected by a work stoppage as a result would have their pay protected. Unless we have that kind of protection set out very clearly, despite the fact that the individual worker who exercises his right to refuse is protected, that individual might have peer pressure exerted against him because the other workers would fear that they might lose pay. That is what we are trying to protect here.
We will accept the minister’s explanation that a worker should know that the board has ruled that if he or she exercises his or her own right to refuse, the pay for him or her will be protected. However, what about the co-workers who might be affected and whose work might be curtailed or stopped?
Hon Mr Phillips: I gather from previous debates that the decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board had clarified the worker’s right to be paid. However, I gather the board did not deal with the section directly. If other workers are at work, they do get paid, I am told. Otherwise, the collective provisions deal with it.
Mr Wildman: Sorry, what did that last phrase mean?
Hon Mr Phillips: I gather that in most collective agreements, there are provisions for how they deal with work stoppages such as this.
Mr Wildman: Okay, I thought that was what the minister meant and that is why I wanted to get the clarification. What about workers who are not organized and do not have a collective agreement, or who are organized and have a collective agreement but do not have that kind of provision within their agreement?
Hon Mr Phillips: I will ask Mr Millard to make sure I do not say anything that is not the case. I gather our inspectors tend to use the Ontario Labour Relations Board decisions as their guidelines -- is that a fair statement, Mr Millard? -- in determining as they are dealing with work stoppages around the right to refuse and in terms of how the workers are paid. So in circumstances where we are not dealing with a collective agreement, it is my understanding that we use the precedents that have been established by the OLRB decisions.
Mr Mackenzie: Assuming that is the case, for the life of me then, can the minister tell me what is wrong with including this amendment in the bill to make it dead certain that there is no question that the workers are paid and that there is not the kind of peer pressure that can result if that is not in the legislation?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think that the decisions by the labour relations board dealt with stage 1 refusals. I believe these amendments deal also with some of the stage 2 circumstances. That does go beyond the decisions by the labour relations board.
Mr Wildman: Which in our view would indicate why this amendment is required.
The Chair: Any other points or discussion?
All those in favour of Mr Mackenzie’s motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Chair: Before we go any further, as this is an addition to the bill, I would have to ask, as this has been section 3la actually, if section 31 is carried.
Section 31 agreed to.
The Chair: Now we have the proposed government addition, a new section 3la also. That is the one, Minister, because you were proposing to amend something that was not in the bill, for which you would seek unanimous consent to bring this forward. Is there unanimous consent to bring that government motion forward?
The Chair: Mr Phillips moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“31a(l) Subsection 32(1) of the said act is amended by inserting after ‘constructor’ in the first line ‘licensee.
“(2) Subsection 32(8) of the said act is repealed.
“(3) Section 32 of the said act is amended by striking out ‘a director’ wherever it occurs and inserting in lieu thereof in each instance ‘the adjudicator.’”
Hon Mr Phillips: This is a fairly important section of the bill in that one of the concerns by many groups before us was the need to establish a more independent appeal mechanism. It was felt that the appeal director within the ministry was not serving that function as well as some would like it.
So we have moved to establish the adjudicator, which we believe provides the independence that many sought as well as to provide some of the roles in terms of dealing with both decertification and the establishment of employers where the right for unilateral stop-work provisions would be provided. That is the major intent of this amendment.
Mr Mackenzie: I think it is worth raising at this time the question of the adjudicator, a concern we are going to raise a little further on. How do we know that the adjudicator is going to be truly independent? Are we going to run it by the board? How do we know the director of appeals is not going to end up the adjudicator? What kind of guarantees do we have that we have an independent voice here?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think that throughout this process I have said that it is going to require the confidence of the parties both in the agency and in the adjudicator. The individuals selected to the agency are likewise going to have to have the kind of confidence and the credibility in the community to sustain the necessary support for the agency.
Similarly, I think we appreciate that the adjudicator will be an individual who will require the confidence of the communities that he or she will be serving. I can assure the members of the House that we will consult broadly on the selection to ensure that the individual does have the confidence of the constituents that he or she would serve, recognizing that the parties are going to be putting a fair bit of faith in this particular position. It therefore requires an individual with that confidence.
I can first provide the assurance to the member of the perception that we think is necessary for that position, and then of the broad consultation on the individual.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that subsection 34(1a) of the act as set out in section 32 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“(1a) No employer shall seek to gain access, except by an order of the court or other tribunal or in order to comply with another statute to a health record concerning the worker without the worker’s written consent.”
Hon Mr Phillips: The intent is that employers not seek access to a worker’s health records unless it is allowed by a court order, it is required in order to comply with another statute or the worker gives his or her consent. This amendment adds compliance with another statute, such as the Workers’ Compensation Act, as a ground for an employer to gain access to a worker’s medical records. In other than those limited circumstances, the confidentiality of a worker’s medical record is protected.
Motion agreed to.
Section 32, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that clause 33(1)(f) of the government motion be struck out and the following substituted:
“(f) An employee of a medical clinic referred to in subclause 10c(l)(n)(i), an association referred to in subclause 10c(l)(n)(ii), a training centre referred to in subclause 10c(1)(n)(iii) or subsection 10e(1).”
Just speaking to the member for Hamilton East, and for those of you who have had more procedural years of experience than I have, I see the government has made a proposed amendment to section 33. Would it not be in order to have the government move its amendment first and then your amendment as the amendment to the amendment? Would that be all right?
Mr Mackenzie: We have been dealing with our amendments first all the way through, and I believe this is probably an oversight on the part of the government. I think the intent was that the actions for damages in effect should not be allowed against the above. As it stands now, safety associations got the immunity but not the people in the medical clinics or training centres. I believe they had agreed they were going to support that change.
The Second Deputy Chair: We still have a difficulty because -- you are right that we have been recognizing your amendments first, except we have a problem. You are trying to amend something which is not even --
Mr Dietsch: I think our motion needs to be put first forward, Mr Chairman, before the amendment can be accepted.
The Second Deputy Chair: I am feeling a little uncomfortable about this. I think their motion has to be put forward first.
Hon Mr Phillips: I guess it is not always in order, but just to make the member feel more comfortable, we do not have a problem with his amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that section 33 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“33. Subsection 36(1) of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(1) No action or other proceeding for damages, prohibition or mandamus shall be instituted respecting any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a person’s duties under this act or in the exercise or intended exercise of a person’s powers under this act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution or performance in good faith of the person’s duties or powers if the person is,
“(a) an employee of the ministry or a person who acts as an adviser for the ministry;
“(b) a director or employee of the agency or a person who acts as an adviser for the agency;
“(c) the adjudicator or a person to whom the adjudicator has delegated powers or duties;
“(d) a health and safety representative or a committee member;
“(e) a worker selected by a trade union or trade unions or by workers to represent them; or
“(f) an employee of an association referred to in subclause 10c(l)(n)(ii) or in subsection 10e(l).”
The member for Hamilton East had moved a proposed amendment to the amendment, so speaking to either the amendment or the proposed amendment.
Mr Mackenzie: I think the arguments have been given for the amendment. I am sure it was an oversight on the part of the ministry, and provided that the amendment is accepted, we have no difficulty with the section.
Hon Mr Phillips: Mr Chairman, it was indeed an oversight and we have no difficulty with the member’s amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s deal with the amendment to the amendment first.
Mr Mackenzie has proposed an amendment to the government amendment to section 33. Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Dealing with the government’s amendment to section 33, is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: It has been brought to my
attention that we carried the two amendments to section 33, but not the section. Shall section 33 carry?
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that section 34 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
“(1) Clause 37(l)(a) of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(a) a provision of this act or the regulations, including subsection 24(1) reprisals by employers.”
Mr Mackenzie: Where employers had been taking reprisals against the workers, they have had to go to the labour relations board to win the case. We think it should be a violation of the act, and this is the purpose of this amendment.
Hon Mr Phillips: I gather that the prohibition against it already is in the act. I am told that it is unnecessary because there is a prohibition against reprisals by employers. As I say, it already is prohibited by the act, and I gather the concern is that by adopting this it may restrict; it may have the opposite effect, and that is of implying restrictions elsewhere when the prohibition already exists, as I am told, in the act against reprisals.
Mr Wildman: It is true that there is another section against reprisals, but the problem is that it has been suggested the workers have the right to use the other section for protection when in fact we believe that workers should be protected by the ministry and the government and it is the government’s job to ensure that the act is enforced. In our view, the government should prosecute employers who harass workers. This is to make it clear that we want prosecutions. It should not be incumbent on the worker to get the protection he requires. It is incumbent on the government to enforce its own act. When there are violations to the act, the government should be prosecuting against the violators.
Hon Mr Phillips: The problem we run into is that there is a prohibition already in the act against reprisals. It is there. The problem we have is that if we were to accept this amendment, there may be -- and there indeed are -- lots of other areas where I think all of us would want to prosecute the employer. If we spell out just one aspect of things that we would want to be prosecuting the employer for, it implies that we should not be as diligent in other areas. So my concern is, as I say, by spelling out this one specific reprisal area --
Mr Laughren: That is a Liberal interpretation.
Hon Mr Phillips: Well, I think that people tend to look at these things and say, “Well, obviously that area was more important in terms of prosecuting employers than that area,” whereas I think there are many aspects of the act where all of us would want to ensure that we prosecuted the employer to the fullest. So, as I say, my concern is this is already in the act, it is already spelled out in the act, and to isolate this one aspect and highlight it I think implies that we would not want to do it as diligently in other areas.
Mr Wildman: I find that an intriguing explanation. It sounds to me like the minister is himself -- and I had never understood this about him before -- a veritable Robespierre in that he wants to prosecute wherever possible, whenever possible, to the fullest extent of the law.
An hon member: Whoever possible.
Mr Wildman: And whoever he can prosecute. I never quite understood that to be his attitude towards employers in the province, or the attitude of the Ministry of Labour. He is concerned that if we were to set out one particular section and highlight it that this might in some way prohibit him from carrying out all of these other varied prosecutions that he would like to carry out under the act.
My only suggestion is that I do not think that we have any kind of a record on the part of the ministry of such widespread prosecutions. I just do not see any evidence of that. If there were, perhaps I could understand the minister’s argument, but I do not see him out laying on prosecutions wherever possible.
Hon Mr Phillips: I guess I will go back over the same arguments I used, and that is that it already is spelled out in the act that this is prohibited, that we have that duty already spelled out in the act, and to isolate this one aspect of it, I think we run the risk of diminishing the importance of other aspects within the act.
I guess the other thing I would say, though, just for information, is that indeed the numbers of prosecutions have been up fairly substantially. I do not think any of us are out to prosecute for the sake of prosecuting, but we are out to enforce the act.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Sections 35 and 36 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Mackenzie moves that paragraphs 8b, 8c, 8d, 8f and 21d of subsection 41(2) of the act, as set out in section 37 of the bill, be struck out.
Mr Mackenzie: This section would enable the government, without the amendments, to restrict who can sit on committees, the union executive members, where committees would be required or exempted and exempt workplaces from the right to shut down. We think that is simply not acceptable.
Hon Mr Phillips: I know this was the subject of considerable debate at the legislative committee hearings. On the one hand, it is seldom used. It does provide the minister with the opportunity, where there is an organization that already has in place health and safety procedures that perhaps have shown they are working well and may not be the exact model in Bill 208, to continue those. I appreciate the members opposite are not convinced that the minister having the discretion to do that is something they would like to see continue. As I say, the minister has had that discretion in the past as part of the existing Occupational Health and Safety Act, and as I say, it is seldom used but I think has not proven to be ineffective. So we would be continuing to support our original intent and voting against this amendment.
Mr Mackenzie: It is a basic argument that the regulation should not be empowered to cover or exempt workers and give this kind of authority to the minister to decide on the qualifications, as I say, or who sits on committees or you name it. We just think it is a dangerous move.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those against please say ‘‘nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that paragraph 21d of subsection 41(2) of the act, as set out in section 37 of the bill, be struck out.
Hon Mr Phillips: I suppose it is a rather technical motion. Paragraph 21d provided for exempting classes of workplaces from the stop-work provision. This power is now to be included in paragraphs 33 and 37.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that subsection 41(2) of the act, as amended by section 37 of the bill, be further amended by adding the following paragraphs:
“31. prescribing first aid requirements to be met and first aid services to be provided by employers and constructors;
“32. prescribing, for the purpose of clause 15(1)(gb), medical examinations and tests that a worker is required to undergo to ensure that the worker’s health will not affect his or her ability to perform his or her job in a manner that might endanger others;
“33. prescribing classes of workplace with respect to which section 23b does not apply;
“34. prescribing the qualifications of persons whom a certified member may designate under subsection 23b(9);
“35. prescribing, for the purpose of subsection 23c(6), criteria for determining whether a constructor or employer has demonstrated a failure to protect the health and safety of workers;
“36. prescribing matters to be considered by the adjudicator in deciding upon an application under section 23c;
“37. prescribing classes of workplace with respect to which section 23d does not apply.”
Hon Mr Phillips: This is designed to provide the regulation-making power. A number of new regulation-making powers are added to subsection 41(2) of the act around things such as first aid and enabling regulations prescribing safety-related medical examinations and tests for workers where the public or other workers are to be protected.
Paragraph 33 enables regulations exempting any class of workplaces from the bilateral procedure for stopping dangerous work. Paragraph 34 enables regulations that ensure that, where prescribed, there will be a qualified representative of management present when the management-certified member is absent to ensure that a joint stop-work directive can be issued.
Paragraph 35 enables regulations establishing the criteria to be used to determine if employers have failed to protect the health and safety of their workers, paragraph 36 enables regulations prescribing matters to be considered in decisions by the adjudicator, and paragraph 37 enables regulations that exempt classes of workplaces from the unilateral procedures.
Mr Mackenzie: It is the argument that I just finished making. I think that it would be better to see these provisions all in the act and not left for the regulations, which is one of the complaints we have with a lot of legislation in this province.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour please say ‘‘aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Wildman: Since we allowed the government amendment to carry without a division, we would be happy if they would please do the same for us.
The Second Deputy Chair: I do not think so.
Mr Laughren: I hear the minister nodding his head.
The Second Deputy Chair: Do not get involved.
The Second Deputy Chair: Minister, do you have a little problem with the proposed amendment?
Hon Mr Phillips: Yes. I gather we require unanimous consent to deal with this particular matter, as I indicated earlier in my remarks. This is subsection 38(1). Should I read the amendment first?
The Second Deputy Chair: You had better have unanimous consent first.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that section 38 of the bill be amended by renumbering subsection (1) as subsection (1b) and by adding the following subsections:
“(1) Subsection 74(3) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, being chapter 539 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980, is repealed, and the following substituted therefor:
“(3) For the purposes of this section, the following individuals shall be deemed to be employees of the board:
“1. The employees of designated associations formed under subsection 123(1);
“2. The employees of designated corporations for accident prevention, the members of which are employees within the meaning of section 123.
“3. The employees of safety and accident prevention associations described in subclause 10c(1)(n)(ii) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“(1a) Section 74 of the said act, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1982, chapter 61, section 12, and the Statutes of Ontario, 1984, chapter 58, section 26, is further amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(4a) For the purposes of this section, every employee who, on 10 April 1952, was in the service of an association or corporation described in subsection (3) shall be deemed to have become an employee of the board on the date on which he or she last entered the service of the association or corporation.
“(4b) On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, the employees of safety and accident prevention associations described in subclause 10c(l)(n)(ii) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act cease to be deemed to be employees of the board.
“(4c) Paragraph 3 of subsection (3) is repealed on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.”
Hon Mr Phillips: The intent of this is to provide for the transitional period for the employees of safety associations, which currently come under the Workers’ Compensation Board, and I gather they are participants in the pension plan at WCB. As we move to the establishment of our agency, the safety associations will come under the agency, but we want to ensure that during that transition period as the agency is established and it establishes its own pension plan, the employees of our safety associations continue to be in the pension plan of the WCB until we establish the pension plan for the agency.
That is, I am told, the intent of this, and the amendment is necessary to provide for an orderly transition of the employees of the agency from the WCB pension plan to a new plan, which of course has yet to be established but will be established.
Motion agreed to.
Section 38, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Phillips moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“38a. The minister shall undertake a review three years after this section comes into force of,
“(a) the mandate of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency and the administration of its programs; and
“(b) the operation and effectiveness of sections 23b to 23d of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”
Hon Mr Phillips: I think this may be one of the reasons why we may find that some people believe we can get on with Bill 208, that two of the more complex areas of the bill will be reviewed in three years. There has been some concern about whether the agency, for example, needs a chair or not. There has been a lot of debate here around the bilateral and unilateral right to stop work. There are strong opinions on many sides of those two issues. I think all of us believe -- I should not say “all of us.” I believe that the bill will work very well. Some have some concerns about certain aspects, and we have taken the two most significant aspects of the bill and committed ourselves to a review of those after three years. That is what this motion is intended to do.
Mr Mackenzie: One is generally of support. The bill probably would not have been saleable without the idea of a review in three years. Normally, when we end up with a major change in health and safety legislation, as in much legislation in this province, we are locked into it for the next 10 years before we see any meaningful changes. This does give a review. I am wondering, though, whether specifically it gives a review also of the most contentious issue, the right-to-refuse section. I would like to know whether or not the minister will give me an answer on that.
Hon Mr Phillips: It is designed to deal with the bilateral and unilateral stop-work provisions. The intent of section 23b to 23d of the Occupational Health and Safety Act deals with those two areas, so tangentially it deals with it because the right to stop work is very closely linked to the right to refuse work. I think one of our major debates here has been around the unilateral versus the bilateral right to stop work.
That is what we had intended the review to contain. I suppose inevitably part of the review is, that ends up being linked to it, because I think the right to stop work bilaterally and unilaterally is very closely linked to the right to refuse.
Mr Wildman: Tangentially, am I to understand that the minister’s position throughout this piece is that he is opposed to the unilateral right to stop work?
Hon Mr Phillips: No. In fact, in the bill, as the member knows, we have established that unilateral right to stop work for organizations that meet certain criteria.
Mr Mackenzie: Just as we draw to the close of the clause-by-clause part of this debate -- I gather we are going to have the votes on the deferred sections on Monday -- I simply want to say that this section may take on a lot more importance than many of us in this House realize. There are still grave reservations about many parts of this bill.
This bill is not as good as the bill we originally had submitted to this House by the previous Minister of Labour. I think all of us know that. I think the workers are concerned over that fact. If they are wrong and if we are wrong, the next three years will show it. If they are not wrong, then I would hope that this section is a commitment of this government to recognize the mistake that may very well have been made with the bill here today.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: It has been brought to my attention that the member for Mississauga South had obtained unanimous consent for further discussion of section 18 with a proposed amendment.
Mrs Marland moves that subsection 19(2) of the act as set out in section 18 of the bill be amended by striking out “an architect as defined in the Architects Act, 1984 and a professional engineer as defined in the Professional Engineers Act, 1984” in the first three lines and inserting in lieu thereof “a person.”
Mrs Marland: When I moved a similar motion earlier this afternoon, because of the wording, the motion was out of order. At that time, by the graciousness of the Chair, I was allowed to speak, even though it was out of order. At that time the minister responded to my concern, which is that in section 18 of the bill as it is presented to the House, it identifies two professions, namely the architects and professional engineers. That whole section, in fact, is redundant. The kind of protection that is laid out in that section in terms of liability on the part of an architect or an engineer is already part of the acts that govern those two professions, so it is not necessary to have them identified in the bill in the way they are.
At that time, the minister was advised by his staff that the ministry staff had indeed discussed this with the Ontario Association of Architects and the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, and possibly the Consulting Engineers of Ontario. I am not sure about the last association. The minister can speak for himself on that.
In any case, I would like to be very clear about who it is that the minister’s staff have spoken to, because if in fact they have spoken only to the professional engineers’ association, they are speaking only to the licensing body of professional engineers. They have not spoken to the membership of the professional association for those engineers. My office has been speaking to a board member by the name of Murray McInroy on the Canadian Society for Professional Engineers.
Frankly, if professions are going to be addressed in a bill in as significant a way as this will be if it is left in its present wording, the expectation would have to be that the ministry would have called those associations and cleared that wording with them, I think, out of respect to both associations, both the architects and the engineers.
To support my amendment, I do not think, is going to upset the rest of the bill or have any direct impact on the rest of the bill, and I await the comments of the minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: As I said earlier, these groups are obviously crucial to health and safety in the workplace, and this is wording that has been around for some considerable period of time, including at the committees.
I am told that as recently as this afternoon we had confirmation that the three groups found this wording acceptable, the three groups being the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, the Consulting Engineers of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Architects.
The overriding thing is, how do we do the best we can to ensure health and safety in the workplace? How do we ensure that in these important areas we have it and yet recognize that we are dealing with professional bodies here and respecting their professional role? As I say, I think we have married the two here, and the wording, I am told, is acceptable to those bodies.
Mrs Marland: What is of concern to me is that, first of all, the ministry did not approach these bodies, as I understand it. These professional associations responded to the bill.
I recognize that we are dealing with it at the 11th hour and that is because it has only just been brought to my attention.
The point I am trying to make with the minister is that, as of 2 o’clock this afternoon, the two or three organizations that his staff spoke to -- first of all, they have not spoken to the Ontario Association of Architects. It is my understanding that they have spoken to the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, which in turn have said, “We have been talking to the Ontario Association of Architects.” I do not think it is up to those associations, which are both named in here, to be speaking for each other. If the minister is doing a clean, responsible job, he should be addressing those professional associations directly himself.
The more important point is that those organizations that he has mentioned are the licensing bodies. It is like going to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario and asking their opinion and not asking the Ontario Dental Association, or going to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and not asking the Ontario Medical Association. They are different bodies. One is a licensing body and one is a professional association.
The minister’s staff should be able to tell him that this section is redundant anyway, because the liability that the minister is trying to enshrine in here is in the very statute under which they are allowed to be engineers and architects in Ontario.
And why just those two professions? The minister is talking about occupational health and safety. What about the doctors? He does not name the doctors in this bill. He does not name the doctors, probably for the reason that I am giving him, that in order to practise architecture, in order to be an engineer or in order to practise medicine in this province, it does not matter whether they are practising under this statute in this area of the workplace. They practise under the overall statute that governs the practice of medicine, engineering and architecture. Surely the minister’s staff should be able to clear that up for him.
Hon Mr Phillips: As I recall it, at the committee hearings and at the legislative committee when we dealt with this in clause-by-clause, it was discussed at some length there. This is not something that is newly sprung on anyone. My recollection is, and the Chairman can refresh our memories, that we had considerable debate on it. I think the bodies have had an awful lot of time for input into this, in fact probably six months or so, and I think it was the direction of the legislative committee that confirmed this.
It would be our intent to oppose the proposed amendment and to stick with this original wording. As I say, I am not at all concerned that we have not broadly debated it. Both the bodies came before the legislative committee, I understand. The legislative committee heard them. We considered their comments. We have wording here that I think they can accept, and perhaps equally important or more important, we think strengthens our Occupational Health and Safety Act. I would not want anyone to be under the misapprehension that this has not been widely debated. The committee has had strong input into it and I think we will continue to support the wording as proposed originally.
Mrs Marland: I am not standing here this afternoon and saying to the minister: “This bill has been around for six months. Why are you now bringing amendments today?” I am not playing that game. I am not saying to the minister, “How come, if it has been around for six months, you bring in an amendment today?” I was very co-operative. He brought in an amendment today which frankly made sense, but I agreed to deal with an amendment that he brought into the House this afternoon. I did not turn around and say to him: “It has been around for six months. How come you are just bringing it now?” In fairness, he should not criticize me or this professional body for bringing in an amendment today. This is what the committee of the whole House is all about.
When the minister says that he is aware that this has been very thoroughly discussed at the committee level, I was at all the committee meetings and what I am telling him is that these concerns may have been addressed with him at the committee or with his staff, but it is one organization that has been dealing with it.
I am saying to the minister that the Canadian Society for Professional Engineers is not happy with it. I am saying to him that he is dealing with the licensing body, and he is saying to me: “Well, it had six months to bring this to us. There has been a lot of debate on it.” I am saying that there has not been a lot of debate on it, and what I do not understand is why the minister’s staff cannot explain to him why it is that it is redundant.
Can the minister tell me, if he is going to identify the architects and the engineers, why he is not identifying physicians and surgeons if we are dealing with occupational health and safety? I think it is very unfair that he is throwing back the argument about how long it has been around and who has dealt with it. What I am here telling him is that the Canadian Society for Professional Engineers had not dealt with it.
They may have made a presentation assuming that their concerns were going to be addressed, but if the minister’s staff has not even spoken to them and there has been no follow-through and yet he identifies two professions in his bill, I think it is pretty shoddy. I really think in fairness that if his government is interested in good working relationships with professional organizations in this province, and I certainly hope it is -- we certainly know what the Liberal government has done in terms of disfranchising the medical profession in Ontario -- if it wants to go ahead it can alienate two other professions if it does not wish to deal fairly with them.
The ludicrous part about this debate for the last 10 minutes is that it is not even needed. The minister’s staff must know under what provincial statutes people are allowed to be architects and practise architecture, or people are allowed to be engineers and practise engineering. The minister must know that those statutes supersede anything that comes under this bill, Bill 208 that is before the committee of the whole at this moment.
I am simply asking the minister, if he is so hung up about identifying those two professions, why on earth can he not support my wording, because my wording simply says “a person.” If he wants to interpret “a person” as a doctor, an architect, an engineer, a plumber or whatever, he can. So what is so wrong with supporting my amendment which simply says “a person”? The minister can then interpret it into those professions if he wishes.
Hon Mr Phillips: I did not want to upset the member. What I was attempting to suggest was that groups sometimes, when amendments come in at the final -- I am not suggesting the member’s amendment; I am suggesting our wording in section 18. What I am suggesting is that wording has been out there during the standing committee hearings and since the legislative committee hearings. I was just trying to suggest to all members that it is not something that suddenly has been put on the table at the last minute. It has been out there for some considerable period of time.
Under section 19 of our act what we attempt to do is to hold people who have a responsibility for supplying things, devices, machinery and tools also accountable. It is not just the employer; we try to hold suppliers who may contribute to a health and safety problem in the workplace. Frankly, I guess we feel that there are suppliers of machinery, but there are suppliers of the environment that workers are in, and therefore architects and engineers are involved in that. As I say, that is why we propose this. That is why the committee debated it at some length and we think it would be a mistake now to back off of it.
Mrs Marland: I did not think this was going to be such a big deal. What is happening here is ludicrous, especially now that we are dealing with section 19 in the reference that the minister has just made, because I am quite sure that all of those architects and engineers who have spent years of investment in time and money receiving their education in order to practise in those professions in this province will be very pleased to hear that the reference to them comes into this category:
“Every person who supplies any machine, device, tool or equipment under any rental, leasing or similar arrangement for use in or about a workplace shall ensure,
“(a) that the machine, device, tool or equipment is in good condition;
“(b) that the machine, device, tool or equipment complies with this act and the regulations; and
“(c) if it is his responsibility under the rental, leasing or similar arrangement to do so, that the machine, device, tool or equipment is maintained in good condition.”
Now what on earth that has to do with engineers and architects I would like to know. We are dealing with professional advice. We are not standing up here saying every hospital bed and every aspirating machine, every piece of equipment in a hospital. I do not understand what the minister is making the relation to. Can he please tell me what is wrong with changing the wording to “a person”? He can still apply it to engineers and architects if he wishes. My amendment is simply asking him to support the changing of the wording to “a person.” If he wants to look at it in the true context of the words, which is all we are dealing with, it in fact gives him a broader scope.
I am not disputing the fact of how long this has been around. That is not the issue and that is not what committee of the whole is all about anyway. So why can he not support changing the wording to “a person” and then apply it wherever he wants in terms of architects or engineers or anyone else? Why can he not?
The Second Deputy Chair: No further discussion? I am going to have to put this to --
Mrs Marland: Well, Mr Chairman --
The Second Deputy Chair: The minister does not want to respond. What can I do?
Mrs Marland: I know you cannot make the minister speak, but I expect the minister to reply to a fair question. He has not answered why he cannot support the wording of “a person.” Is a professional engineer or a professional architect in this province not a person?
Hon Mr Phillips: At the risk of prolonging it unnecessarily and at the risk of repeating myself, as I said before, as we drafted the bill and as the committee debated it we found that these two professions are extremely important in health and safety and that is why we have specifically designated them and specifically spelled them out in the act. I cannot be any more specific than that.
Mrs Marland: Can I ask, then, if there are any other professions that are important to this act in the opinion of the minister?
Hon Mr Phillips: These are two that we identified. As I say, we debated it at length in city after city across the province for I guess six to eight weeks, and then we had clause-by-clause debate here with our standing committee on resources development, led by the member opposite. It was after all of that debate and at the recommendation of the legislative committee that this is in here, certainly with our support.
Mrs Marland: The Hansard will show that we did not debate this aspect and this section in city after city across this province. I sat on this committee that travelled to city after city across this province and this particular section was not one of the sections that was highlighted across the province. Even if it was, are we not dealing with committee of the whole for the purpose of amendments? The fact that the government brought in -- how many amendments did the government bring in on this poorly written piece of legislation anyway in the end? A large number of amendments.
The fact is that the minister has not explained to the professional engineers and the architects of this province why they have been singled out and why they are being identified, nor has he explained why they are not persons, why he cannot accept the word “persons.” But more important, would he please tell me under what acts in this province pertaining to the practice of architecture and the practice of engineering is the public not protected? Does he know under which statutes engineers and architects work and practise their profession in this province?
If he does, he must know that what he is trying to cover off in this section is already covered. If it is not, then would he please tell me why it is not? It is a fair question. He is not telling me, he is telling all the architects and engineers in Ontario why they are being singled out in his bill. If the answer is because their own statutes for practice do not protect the public, then that is a fair answer, but he should give us the answer.
The Second Deputy Chair: The minister has indicated that he has already responded. The member has moved an amendment to section 18. Shall the proposed amendment by Mrs Marland carry?
All those in favour will please say ‘‘aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 18 agreed to.
Section 39 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have been advised that we should wait for section 40 until after the division, on Monday I believe.
On motion by Mr Phillips, the committee of the whole
House reported progress.
The House adjourned at 1721.