The House met at 1330.
Miss Martel: Last week this government began to release its propaganda on Bill 68 to the Ontario public. The brochure on the Ontario motorist protection plan was stuffed into my mailbox. My first thought was to toss it where I thought it should be tossed but, after reading the pamphlet, I feel this government should be condemned for neglecting to tell the people of Ontario what this bill is all about.
No mention was made of the fact that the auto insurance industry does not have to pay the 3% premium tax this year. My premiums will not go down as a result, nor do I think the cost for other drivers will be reduced because of this exemption. This $95-million saving will be pocketed as profit by the industry.
No mention was made of the fact that the auto insurance industry has received a big break with the introduction of the employer health levy. My premium dollars, which might have gone to OHIP to reimburse medical costs associated with an injury, should now be returned to me. I would accept a rebate or lower insurance rates, but this $45-million saving will also be-come profit for the industry.
No mention was made that the auto insurance industry got more than it asked for when it came to establishing the threshold. Given the low, low number of people who will be able to claim compensation for pain and suffering, the industry stands to reap enormous profits. The coffers will increase by some $850 million in the first year alone.
The Ontario motorist protection plan is all about the Liberals looking after their corporate friends. That is what the drivers in this province deserve and need to know.
Mr Villeneuve: I found the Premier’s establishment of a cabinet committee on eastern Ontario to be nothing but horn-blowing lipservice that precedes an election, simply paper filled with hollow words.
Last week my colleague the member for Lanark-Renfrew revealed that the government plans to widen five bridges and two kilometres of roadway, erect one new interchange and improve one intersection in the entire eastern region of the province.
Yesterday I told members that the toll-free telephone line to the Attorney General’s support and custody orders enforcement branch in Ottawa, which serves the whole of eastern Ontario, is not working. This office, which is vital to single mothers waiting for support payments, has only slightly more than half the staff of the Toronto office, even though it has a larger case load. As well, this summer the St Lawrence Parks Commission has closed down five of its parks, which will deprive our people and visitors of clean, safe, affordable recreation. They are just the most recent examples of this government’s neglect.
Looking back at the last five years, I doubt that anyone, least of all the people of eastern Ontario, will believe the Premier when he says that he will be looking after them with a cabinet committee. He has had six budgets to show some recognition of eastern Ontario’s needs. Instead of action, we have a committee which will not even last past the next election. We need action in eastern Ontario, not the negative reaction that we have had from this government.
Mr Reycraft: In Middlesex one way to get relief from the dog days of summer is a trip to Fanshawe Lake, north of London, for swimming, boating, waterskiing and other aquatic sports, yet in recent years the growth of bacteria in the lake has meant the closure of Fanshawe’s swimming areas early in the summer.
I am pleased to inform members of the assembly about some diligent work being done by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and a task force set up to study the pollution of rural beaches like those in Fanshawe.
Over the past four years the Upper Thames authority has led the way in studying the contamination of rural beaches. The rural beaches strategy program has identified livestock access, milkhouse wash water and rural septic systems as the main sources of pollution to the reservoirs. Now the strategy is to implement the clean up rural beaches program. Finally, the murky waters are clearing.
The program’s annual report details the success of projects on various test farms. By working with farmers, the Upper Thames authority is developing effective ways to limit the spread of these pollutants in the reservoirs. While people working on the problems have not yet been able to completely stop the pollution, work done to date is very encouraging.
By continuing this approach of working with farmers and developers, the clean up rural beaches program will enjoy even greater success and the people of Middlesex will still be able to enjoy an escape from the dog days of summer at Fanshawe.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The select committee on education will present probably its final report to this House and one really wonders why we are bothering to bring in a report on early childhood education at all when it is likely to go the way of other reports. It is going to disappear into that black hole in the minister’s office from whence nothing ever comes forward.
I am having a finger shaken at me, but the member knows well that we put in a report on the financing of education and we have heard nothing back on that. There is a major report on religious education as a result of court decisions; there has been nothing on that. There has been a huge delay on the special education initiatives that have been promised by this government, and the Vision 2000 report has had no response at all either from this government, although it has had it for months.
I say to members that we had 34 major recommendations in our last report. One of them, the most crucial one, was about negotiations with the various partners in education around the ceilings for student financing in Ontario. We said that had to be completed by 30 August 1990 and this minister has not even responded to us.
A number of the other items had that same kind of time constraint, as did one which said, “The long-awaited amendments in special education should be introduced by June 30, 1990.” This minister has ignored that. He said he will not do it until next fall even though the public consultation on this ended in 1986, four years ago.
People who are concerned about special education and these other matters have a right to know what is happening to the reports that we have all been doing and asking for action from this government on.
Mr Sterling: My statement today is directed at the Minister of Health regarding the threat that the new health cards pose to individual privacy. On 17 April and 4 June I brought this concern to the minister’s attention. My leader has also spoken about this concern. At that time I stated that the word of the Minister of Health and the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act would not guarantee confidentiality.
While the privacy act states that medical information recorded by the provincial government can only be used for the purpose for which it was intended, this act does not apply to the private sector. As a result, it is possible that OHIP or hospital card numbers may be used in the future by banks, credit bureaus, insurance companies and stores. The minister has known about this danger for several months and she has done absolutely nothing to protect the individual privacy of our citizens from the use of these numbers.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has now made public these same concerns and has called upon the minister to make an immediate commitment to protect the privacy interests of Ontario citizens by introducing legislation. It is high time that this Minister of Health took privacy concerns seriously.
Mr D. R. Cooke: With the large number of incidents of sexual abuse of children by people in positions of trust coming to light and charges being laid, going back a number of years in some instances, it is time this Legislature honoured some of the great unsung heroes of our society, foster parents.
Foster parents have a great row to hoe. It is often they who form the front line in dealing with society’s problems: children who have been abused in their own homes, who sometimes approach life with an enhanced degree of cynicism, who do not understand or readily accept real love and who in many cases, because they feel they are a commodity themselves, may be prepared to create leverage by misunderstanding or even misstating the hand of friendship of a teacher or a foster parent.
Foster parents are particularly vulnerable if they accept these children into their homes. Sometimes it happens in the middle of the night at a point when the children are feeling scared and vulnerable and may wish to strike back.
It is important that we train foster parents to recognize and deal with troubled children as well as investigating problems swiftly and justly. Meanwhile, to those who spend countless hours sowing the seeds of good self-worth and setting good examples, hats off to foster parents.
Mr Allen: One of the most serious and far-reaching issues in education today in Ontario is the place of religious education in public schools, yet the Minister of Education has maintained an uncanny silence since February on both the Watson report and the court judgement ending all forms of denominational indoctrination that masqueraded as religious education in our schools.
As someone who led this House to unanimous support, two years ago, of the principle of multifaith religious education, I have waited patiently for months for this minister to give some lead, even some hint, of his direction on this issue. One can conclude from his silence that the Watson report recommended a form of multidenominational, not multifaith instruction by church representatives in the schools, a path totally blocked by the court judgement, and if I may say so, quite out of keeping with both the resolution passed by this House and the views of such education organizations as the Ontario Public School Trustees’ Association and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.
This is of course a delicate but inescapable issue. The last things needed are a ministerial grand plan or ministerial timidity.
A large coalition of major faith groups in Ontario has recommended a pilot project approach, involving selected communities, that would address the elements of religious experience and phenomena and their expression and impact on personal and social life. I am again sending the minister a model program widely used in Britain. He has known about this for some time. When is he going to act?
DEMOCRACY IN UKRAINE
Mr Jackson: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to acknowledge and warmly welcome my guests in the Legislature this afternoon, Ihor Hryniw and Orest Shott, newly elected members of the Parliament of Ukraine, who join us today to observe at first hand our democratic traditions and government institutions.
Ukraine experienced its first taste of democracy in over half a century with free elections that were held earlier this year. New Ukrainian political parties, most notably among them Rukh, or the Movement, arose to articulate the desire of the Ukrainian people for social, cultural and political change.
The parties of the Ukrainian democratic bloc succeeded in having many of their members elected to regional councils and to the national Parliament of Ukraine in Kiev, where they are actively participating in and promoting the unfolding process of economic and political restructuring in their nation.
As a member of the provincial Parliament and as a Canadian with deep cultural roots in the Ukrainian community, it is with heartfelt joy that I greet Ihor and Orest and wish them and the Ukrainian democratic bloc much continued success in their endeavours to realize the historic dream of all Ukrainians, a free and independent homeland.
[Remarks in Ukrainian]
Mr Neumann: In 1974 Brantford celebrated the centennial of the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. That summer many colourful events were planned as a tribute to the Bell centennial. Some have had a lasting effect upon our community.
The International Villages Festival, developed to celebrate Brantford’s cultural diversity, is now in its 16th year. This year 12 villages will participate in the festival, which runs from 7 July to 14 July. I invite members to join with me and enjoy the entertainment, food and fun which is all a part of the International Villages Festival.
Earlier this week the name and logo for Icomm was unveiled in our community. Scheduled to open in Brantford in 1991, Icomm, the Interactive Communications Complex, will demonstrate the impact of communications technology on our daily lives. Visitors to Icomm will use personal interactive cards to experience exhibits on medicine, transportation, telecommunications and much more.
The idea for this exciting project also came about in 1974 during the Bell centennial. Funded by all three levels of government and a number of leading firms involved in Canada’s proud telecommunications industry, Icomm will be a major Ontario tourist attraction and an international focal point for modern communications technology.
Sixteen years after it celebrated the Bell centennial, Brantford is still receiving dividends from the ideas generated to celebrate this special date in our history.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
DECENTRALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
Hon Mr Ward: I would like to elaborate today on a commitment given by my colleague the Treasurer in his April budget regarding the decentralization of government jobs and the relocation of government offices.
As members will know, Ontario has already undertaken with great success some of the largest and most complex redeployments of government operations in Canada’s history. Last month, for example, we announced that 740 general headquarters positions with the Ontario Provincial Police will be transferred from Toronto to Orillia. Currently, we are conducting the transfer of the head office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to the city of Guelph.
Over the last four years we have been implementing an extensive program of decentralization to northern centres with the northern Ontario relocation program. By the end of 1991 the northern Ontario moves alone will see 1,600 provincial government jobs transferred to five northern communities. Three new buildings are scheduled to open later this year and 500 positions have already relocated in advance moves.
Underlying the budget’s commitment to a continued program of decentralization is a commitment by our government to foster economic renewal and development in our province’s communities. We believe that a more equitable distribution of government jobs across our province can assist greatly in stabilizing, diversifying and strengthening local and regional economies.
In an ongoing process of evaluation, we assess government organizations to determine their appropriateness for relocation and analyse areas which stand to benefit from such moves. We look for areas where relocation could serve as a catalyst for redevelopment and renewal, a pattern which has emerged with dramatic success in northern relocation communities. We look for areas which have a relatively low proportion of government jobs to total population, and we consider the extent to which the local and regional economy may benefit by diversification.
I am pleased to announce today the first in a new series of decentralizations, as promised by our government. Three Ontario municipalities will be the first to take part in these relocations. The Ministry of Labour, comprising 425 government jobs, will move to the city of Windsor. The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, comprising 400 government jobs, will move to the city of Niagara Falls. In addition, the Ontario Heritage Foundation in the Ministry of Culture and Communications, comprising 60 jobs, will move to the town of Renfrew.
We expect to begin the construction of new Ontario government buildings in downtown Windsor and downtown Niagara Falls by 1993 and we will establish appropriate accommodations in the town of Renfrew by 1992. The nearly 900 positions involved in these decentralizations represent an approximate annual payroll of more than $32 million. We anticipate that the relocations I am announcing today will be completed within a five-year time line.
This afternoon, in the communities I have named, the ministers responsible for the relocating services are making local announcements.
It is my expectation that these relocations will prove to be an outstanding catalyst to economic development in the communities involved and in the surrounding regions. We estimate that each relocating job generates roughly two to three times its annual salary in regional economic activity. That represents a spinoff effect approaching nearly $100 million in Windsor, Niagara Falls and Renfrew. These communities can anticipate additional economic benefits through the construction of facilities to accommodate the relocating jobs and ongoing benefits as our relocated organizations buy goods and services locally.
Our government regards decentralization as an effective way to share the social and economic benefits of the administration of provincial programs. Relocating government offices and jobs throughout our province distributes employment more equitably and helps provide stability and diversification in today’s climate of rapidly changing economic conditions. It is our hope that as we demonstrate our commitment to these communities, as we have today in Windsor, Niagara Falls and Renfrew, we will make them that much more attractive to the private sector.
These relocations, along with last month’s announcement regarding the OPP, are the beginning of the fulfilment of a commitment made in the budget in April. They are also an essential part of our commitment to bring the government of Ontario closer, in a very tangible way, to more of the people it represents.
Hon Mr Kwinter: On behalf of the government of Ontario, I am pleased to report the results of our conference, Interregion ’90, which concluded yesterday.
With this conference, we have taken a major step forward and launched a new era of business, cultural and educational ties between Ontario and the regions of Europe. I am pleased to announce that with the Premier’s signing of the declaration of partnership at the final Interregion ’90 meeting, Ontario has now become the first region outside of Europe to formally establish relations with the Four Motors association.
When it comes to Europe 1992, Ontario has no choice: We cannot sit out a game worth $6 trillion. That is how big the single European market will be. I am sure we all know the other figures by now: a market of 324 million consumers; an increase in output of 5%; and, most important of all for a trading nation like Canada, a rise in imports by as much as 7%.
Yet, while the European Community is Ontario’s most important market after the United States, only 8% of our exports go there. The record also shows that the pace of investment by Canadian firms in Europe has been growing nowhere near as fast as investment by the Americans, the Japanese and others. We must also continue to alert Europeans to Ontario’s strategic location as a gateway to the United States for investment and trade.
It is our judgement that international economic relations have become much more complex than the mere shipment of finished goods from producers in one country to consumers of another country. Today, trade is intertwined with investment, research and technology development, communications and access to highly educated workforces.
It is for these reasons that over the past three years the government of Ontario has been forging new links with four key industrial European regions: Baden-Württemberg, centred in Stuttgart, West Germany; Rhône-Alpes, centred in Lyons, France; Lombardy, centred in Milan, Italy, and Catalonia, centred in Barcelona, Spain.
The declaration signed by the Premier is a working document that identifies the key areas in which each of the five jurisdictions can help businesses and other organizations form their own links and connections.
Much was accomplished in our three days of meetings, including the signing of the declaration. At the working level, worthwhile contacts were made between Ontario business, cultural, environmental and educational leaders and the almost 100 delegates who accompanied the four government leaders to Toronto.
Most important of all, real initiatives were undertaken. For example, discussions between Lombardy region and the Manufacturing Research Corp of Ontario resulted in an agreement to further pursue the development of a technological exchange in the electronics and automated manufacturing sector. A similar arrangement has already been made with Baden-Württemberg.
The regions will work together to establish a new international business program. A mutually recognized common program of studies, including courses in two or three languages, would be taught in specific universities and business schools in each region. Students would rotate between these institutions as they completed their studies.
The five regions also agreed to develop student exchange programs at the university level for full academic credit. Ontario’s rich multicultural roots mean that there is a sizeable potential pool of qualified students to participate in this project.
Ontario and its European partners also agreed to a wide variety of other activities aimed at strengthening academic and research ties between Ontario post-secondary institutions and their counterparts in Europe.
The Four Motors and Ontario will co-operate in the development of a telecommunications system known as Telepresence which will combine sight, sound and text editing in a single workstation so that long-distance conferences can be held between offices. Through two of our centres of excellence, Ontario will play a lead role in this project.
An interregional business centre will be established in Toronto next year to facilitate joint ventures and technology transfers between Ontario companies and European firms.
Ontario will host a conference involving the five regions next year. It will focus on the use of high technology and the creation and management of cultural products. Ontario firms have an excellent reputation in this area and the conference will include an exhibition to provide opportunities for trade and joint venturing activities.
The University of Waterloo will participate in a separate $440,000 joint project with Carlsruhe University in Baden-Württemberg to investigate high-speed local area networking.
As well as business, education and culture, the environment is another key area targeted for co-operation. As a result of Interregion ’90, Ontario will become a signatory to an environmental charter which will provide a framework for co-operation among the Four Motors and Ontario on environmental concerns and priorities. We will be attending regular meetings on environmental issues.
I look forward to keeping the members fully informed of our activities over the months to come.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES / SERVICES À L’ENFANCE ET À LA FAMILLE
Hon Mr Beer: Later today I will present for first reading in this House the Child and Family Services Act amending bill.
As members know, the Child and Family Services Act, which was proclaimed in 1985, drew together many separate acts concerning children’s services into a single piece of legislation. My ministry has continued to review the legislation as we work to develop a social service system in Ontario that is truly responsive to the needs of children and young people. In 1987 sections relating to adoption disclosure were amended and in 1988 provisions were added relating to runaway children, secure treatment and the handling of records.
Changes proposed in today’s amending bill will clarify the original intent of the act and close unintended gaps in the legislation. Some of the changes would make the act more consistent with the principles expressed in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Mon Ministère a continué son examen de la Loi sur les services à l’enfance et à la famille dans le cadre de nos travaux, visant à mettre au point un système de services sociaux qui répondent effectivement aux besoins des enfants et des jeunes gens de l’Ontario.
En 1987, nous avions modifié les articles relatifs à la divulgation des renseignements sur l’adoption, et en 1988 certaines dispositions avaient été ajoutées en ce qui à trait aux jeunes qui font des fugues, aux traitements en milieu fermé et aux procédures relatives aux archives.
Les modifications que nous proposons dans le projet modificateur d’aujourd’hui devraient éclaircir l’intention originale de la Loi, tout en comblant les lacunes qui affectaient encore le texte. Certaines de ces modifications visent à uniformiser la Loi pour qu’elle soit conforme aux principes énoncés dans la Loi de 1987 sur l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée.
The proposed changes are numerous and affect most parts of the act. I would like to mention a few of the areas where change is proposed.
First, at present the act provides for certain cultural considerations and preferred placement practices to be taken into account in respect of Indian and native people. The proposed change here will apply the same cultural considerations to other aboriginal groups, which will ensure the inclusion of Inuit and Metis people. The amendments would also clarify that services to Indian and other aboriginal children and families are to be provided in a manner that recognizes their culture, heritage, language and traditions and the concept of the extended family.
Second, with regard to adoption, the existing provisions of the act require that birth parents be given the opportunity to seek counselling in respect of matters relating to adoption. The amendments will ensure that such counselling is provided and that it is provided by a person approved by the minister. In private adoptions, counselling will be provided by a person independent of the licensee arranging the adoption.
It is proposed that the age for obtaining a child’s consent to adoption should be raised from seven years to 12 years as a more realistic age to give a meaningful consent. The courts are required to consider the wishes of children younger than 12.
Still regarding adoption, the Vital Statistics Act is amended to provide that birth registrations of adopted persons will acknowledge the adoption. Currently adoptions appear as new registrations that show the adoptive parents as birth parents.
Third, the act provides criteria and procedures with respect to the use of extraordinary measures. We propose to restructure the relevant sections so that a more rigorous approval and review process will apply to the use of secure isolation. Secure, or locked, isolation is currently provided for in the act and is used only in emergencies for children who may be in danger of harming others. Review teams will now be responsible for monitoring the use of secure isolation.
Fourth, in order to be consistent with the principles of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, we propose to amend part VIII of the CFSA, which relates to the confidentiality of records. These proposed amendments include new requirements for the collection and disclosure of information.
Finally, the act will be amended to clarify that persons who are temporarily responsible for the care of a child, for example, teachers and babysitters, may be charged with abuse under the CFSA and may be registered in the child abuse register. Similarly, it will be made clear that any person with professional or official duties may be charged if he or she fails to report suspected abuse.
The changes I have outlined have been the subject of much consultation over a long period of time involving the individuals and organizations they affect. In general, they have been widely supported.
I would urge all members to support these amendments to the Child and Family Services Act. We will continue to review the legislation and to bring forward whatever amendments may be necessary to protect the best interests of the child.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I wonder if at this point I could seek unanimous consent. We have two more statements. Could we have consent to complete those and move the opposition response time up to seven minutes each?
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Hon Mr Ramsay: Later today I will be introducing the Agricorp Act. The purpose of this legislation is to create a new crown agency to administer the government’s crop insurance and income stabilization programs. The Crop Insurance Act, Ontario, and the Farm Income Stabilization Act will be revised to accommodate the creation of Agricorp.
The development of Agricorp is part of this government’s continuing commitment to assist Ontario farmers in meeting today’s economic challenges. We are proposing that Agricorp would be an administratively independent agency with its own board of directors that would report directly to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. There would be a clear division of responsibility between the agency and the ministry. The agency’s board of directors would be responsible for operations and the minister would continue to be responsible for policy development.
Agricorp will have a board of directors selected to reflect producers’ concerns regarding the effective delivery of safety net programs to the agricultural sector. In Canadian agriculture, a safety net is an open and predictable system of providing risk protection to participating farmers with financial participation from all groups. Agricorp would be set up in such a way that federal contributions for crop insurance will be maximized. The administrative framework would provide for funding specific to each program and for detailed calculations of administrative costs. Such an administrative structure would also ensure future benefits. As the ministry works towards developing comprehensive long-term risk management strategies for producers, Agricorp will be capable of administering other safety net programs.
The ministry will shortly be establishing an advisory group of farmers to assist in the development of the operating procedures of the board of directors.
I would also like to assure members that the welfare of employees who administer the programs is an important consideration in the development of Agricorp.
CHARITABLE GAMING / JEUX DE BIENFAISANCE
Hon Mr Sorbara: Later today I will be introducing for first reading the Gaming Services Act, which will regulate suppliers of services and premises for charitable gaming activity in Ontario for the very first time.
This legislation represents a major element of the government’s new framework to administer the conduct of charitable gaming in the province. It follows an extensive review of the sector conducted over the past year in full consultation with all interested parties.
Outre ce projet de loi, nous préparons en ce moment un nouveau cadre réglementaire régissant la délivrance de permis, la gestion et les normes relatives aux jeux de bienfaisance. Ce projet se poursuit en consultations avec des groupements d’intérêt et des particuliers et devrait se conclure au cours de l’été.
The unprecedented growth of charitable gaming in recent years -- gross wagering for bingo, for example, in Ontario currently amounts to about $600 million annually and the province has more than 240 bingo halls -- has raised a number of concerns related to the adequacy and effectiveness of the existing regulatory framework.
The most serious evidence of this is that many charitable organizations have increasingly lost control over the conduct and management of gaming events which are designed to raise funds for them. This has resulted in declining revenues directed to worthwhile charities which are the intended beneficiaries. Through the legislation and other initiatives, it is the government’s intention to restore control of charitable gaming to the appropriate charitable groups; in short, to put them back in the driver’s seat.
The proposed Gaming Services Act will provide, for example, for the regulation of gaming halls, suppliers and employees, the appointment of a director and registrar of gaming services, record-keeping and reporting requirements that will facilitate our auditing and the setting of effective measures to ensure compliance with the law.
In an associated initiative, the contents of the three existing orders in council under which we have had licensed charitable gaming since 1970 will be consolidated and will more clearly outline the new rules for licensing charities and conducting gaming events.
At present we are consulting with charitable, municipal and commercial representatives, and following these discussions over the summer, new regulations will be introduced to address a wide range of implementation issues. These are expected to be ready by the fall.
Dans le cadre de nos consultations ainsi que de notre projet de loi et de réglementations, nous avons pris la démarche actuelle ; nous avons l’intention d’établir un conseil consultatif qui deviendrait source de conseils pour le gouvernement en ce qui concerne les jeux de bienfaisance. Les membres de cet organisme compteraient parmi eux les représentants de jeux de bienfaisance ainsi que les consommateurs et les représentants du secteur commercial.
The legislation which we will be introducing today will recognize and define for the first time the role commercial suppliers and operators play in helping raise charitable funds through gaming. The act will recognize and exempt occasional-use facilities -- and I think of my friend the member for Guelph when I say this -- such as senior citizens’ homes, from these licensing requirements.
Members may recall that last August the government placed a moratorium on the establishment of new commercial facilities. This was a temporary measure until appropriate legislation regulating the commercial sector is in place. The moratorium will remain in place pending the result of our proposed legislative action.
We believe that this legislation will serve as the cornerstone of the appropriate regulation of the charitable gaming suppliers, as well as modernizing the rules relating to charitable gaming. Once the act is passed and the new regulations have been implemented, we will have in Ontario a very solid foundation for the administration and control of charitable gaming. I urge that all members support this legislation when I introduce it later today.
DECENTRALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
Mr B. Rae: I am just on my feet to say that I know the member for Windsor-Riverside is far too self-effacing a person to say what needs to be said on his own behalf, but I want to say that no one has fought harder than the member for Windsor-Riverside on behalf of the citizens of Windsor to ensure that they got their fair share of jobs and finally shamed this government into taking some action.
Mr D, S. Cooke: My leader has convinced me that I should say a couple of things. First of all, I want to congratulate the government for finally coming along on more decentralization and moving towards some fairness for Windsor.
I should remind members that just up the road in London there are 3,863 provincial civil service jobs. Even with these new jobs in Windsor, we will only have 1,310. We are getting there, but we have got a long way to go. I am sure this will only be the first instalment. This is the Save Bill Wrye instalment. Tomorrow will be the Save Mike Ray instalment.
I hope there is no expectation by this government that this in fact is the adjustment program for the 3,000 jobs that have been lost so far this year in the manufacturing sector. The community of Windsor is going through an enormous economic adjustment. We are leading the way, unfortunately, in that economic adjustment, adjusting to the free trade agreement. While this will help our community adjust, we still need the package of other public sector involvement and investment in our community and we still need a joint program with the private sector to create more industrial jobs and manufacturing jobs if we are to avoid the catastrophe that we are heading to right now.
I want to remind members that it has now been about four years, since I started working on this, of gathering the statistics and bringing the matter to our city council and our mayor. I might also point out that each step of the way the member for Windsor-Sandwich continued to say, until three months ago, that it was impossible, it could not happen. The only people who were pushing for this were city council and myself. If I have accomplished nothing else in my 13 years as an MPP, this is a major accomplishment for my community. I am proud of it.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
Mr Allen: I do not know why it is when we come to amendments of the Child and Family Services Act that we take a couple of steps forward and a couple of steps back. That is the way it was with respect to the 1988 amendments, which we had some problems with in this party, and that is the way it is with the amendments being tabled today by the minister. We will be looking at them, of course, in more detail later.
Needless to say we are incredibly happy with the expansion of the definition of who has access as aboriginal peoples to social services. The broader definition provides for greater sensitivity than did the original application of the preferred placement principle. That is a very good advance as far as we are concerned.
As for rigorous approval and review of processes relating to secure isolation of young offenders and children at risk, yes, we want that now. We wanted it in the past and it is time we had it. With respect to the counselling provisions around adoption, yes, very good. We have very mixed feelings about the minister’s proposals with respect to the child abuse register, charging those who are teachers and baby-sitters and those in temporary custody, not so much in itself but because the whole process needs a complete review. That is what should be being undertaken at the moment.
When we come to the question of raising the age of consent for adoption and placement from seven years to 12, we believe that children who are at least able to testify in court under circumstances relating to such matters as child abuse should have the right at that age to say where they do not want to go when it comes to adoption. We will fight that particular provision very strongly.
We look forward to debating these issues, supporting the ones we can and certainly fighting hard against those we oppose.
Mr Wildman: I would like to respond to the announcement of the Agricorp Act. In making this announcement to set up this new crown agency, I hope we would have some assurance that the provincial government is actually going to move to do something about the inadequacies of the current crop insurance program; to deal with the proposals, for instance, for spot coverage of one farm as opposed to another farm if they have the same owner and dealing with the average crop yields and the questions of percentage coverage, so that we can do something to ensure that more and more of the agricultural producers actually participate in the plan and make it a sound plan. If this new crown agency is going to move to do that, it will be worth while. If in fact it is simply an attempt to have another bureaucratic setup where more and more people will get jobs, appointed to boards for part-time paybacks for political favours, then it will not be of much good, if anything.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
Mr R. F. Johnston: As I leave this place and see these amendments to the Child and Family Services Act, I tell members it scares the dickens out of me. There are some good things in here, but when I see the paternalistic claptrap we have got, such as to suggest that a child has to wait till the age of 12 to be able to say whether or not he will consent to being adopted by somebody for the rest of his life, to go and live with that family, I say something is wrong with this Liberal Party.
We worked hard and long from 1982 through 1984 to make sure that it was understood that a 10-year-old child knows his or her rights, knows who he or she feels comfortable with and that even a seven-year-old child, or sometimes even younger, knows his or her will very well. To suggest that the paternalistic court system can impose that on those children by the minister’s fiat, when even Frank Drea agreed with us in those days, is something the minister should think long and hard about. That is a horrible, horrible change he is suggesting and he should withdraw that. I just worry about what else he has hidden in there when this kind of tradeoff for some of the other positive things is part of his announcement today.
DECENTRALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES
Mr J. M. Johnson: In view of the absence of the Minister of Government Services, I would like to congratulate the Premier on his policy of decentralization of government agencies. I am sure 60 jobs in the town of Renfrew will be appreciated by some members. It is an excellent policy, which was initiated by the former Progressive Conservative government, and I am glad the Premier has carried it on. But much more needs to be done than simply relocating a few government ministries. With 90,000 civil servants, 900 is really a drop in the bucket.
I would like to address this to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, if he would pay attention for a minute. I have been very concerned that there is less industrial development in rural Ontario, and I feel it is the responsibility of his ministry to encourage industry to at least look at locating in some of the smaller communities that have financial viability problems. The minister should follow the example of Germany and France after the last war and encourage industry to locate in the smaller communities rather than being centralized in the major cities. Most of our growth is in the Toronto area and certainly in areas like Mississauga and not enough in the rural parts of the province. The minister should follow the example set by his Premier and encourage industry to follow the lead of the government relocation proposals.
Mr Villeneuve: I sincerely hope that Agricorp will work. Crop insurance and income stabilization have not worked well for many sectors of agriculture. I know the minister knows that. I hope the new Agricorp will bear in mind countervailing and GATT decisions. I think it is most important at the outset that we ensure the support we give agriculture -- and God knows it needs support -- will not be countervailable and will certainly not be against the rules of the GATT.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
Mrs Cunningham: In responding to the changes to the Child and Family Services Act, I would like to advise the minister that we certainly support the initiatives he has taken with regard to the first part, and that is the considerations for cultural change for the Indian native people. We think it is long overdue and commend him for that change.
I am very concerned with regard to the raising of the age of consent and will look forward to those kinds of discussions during public hearings of this proposed legislation. We are very much in support of the more rigorous approval and review process that will apply to the use of secure isolation, and I know that people who are working in the field will very much appreciate that clarification.
With regard to the confidentiality of records and the proposed amendments, of course we are very supportive of the concern around requirements for the collection and disposal of information, I would urge the minister to share that kind of guideline with the Minister of Health around the new health cards, where there is a great deal of concern by the public.
The child abuse register should be looked at not only in light of changes to this legislation but with regard to access to the child abuse register by people working in education and other children’s services so that they can in fact get those names. We have asked for that for some time. We have also asked that the minister take a look at how people get their names off the child abuse register at certain times, so there are certainly other issues.
I will just close by saying that there is no province-wide legislation or program that ensures access to children’s mental health treatment, either through the Child and Family Services Act or the Young Offenders Act, and I would urge the minister to take a look at whatever he can do for the co-ordination and integration of services.
Mr Sterling: I would like to respond to the statement by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology this morning. I find it passing strange that on page 2 he says, “We must also continue to alert Europeans to Ontario’s strategic location as a gateway to the US for investment and trade.”
Is this not the government that opposed free trade? Is this not the government that stood alone in this province and was going to sue the federal government and stop the deal with the United States? Now we find that they are trumpeting free trade, they are trumpeting the initiatives of our federal government.
It is about time. This government has been a government of reaction and reactive nature with regard to trade with our American counterparts. It is about time they took a proactive approach. A proactive approach is interesting. Deals and agreements with other industrial nations are important.
But I want to remind members that this government has increased corporate taxes, this government has increased personal income taxes, this government has implemented new employer payroll taxes, this government has implemented more regulation around business than any other government in Canada and this government is the highest-spending government in North America. This has led to the loss of 82,000 manufacturing jobs in this province in this year. We applaud any attempt to try to reverse this tragic decline in our economic forecast in the future.
Mr Jackson: I would like to comment on the announcement by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations of his introduction of the new Gaming Services Act. We have waited five years for this bill. We are pleased that it has finally come forward. I want to indicate that although groups have been cut off, many people feel arbitrarily, and some even between communities, there have been a lot of problems identified.
Having as few as 10 employees in this ministry supervising and interpreting a program of almost $1 billion in revenue, obviously the minister has had difficulties in convincing cabinet of the importance of this important sector. But I want him to accept the compliment for his staff for the work they have been doing for the last couple of years under these adverse circumstances. We would, of course, like this bill to go to committee
Hon Mr Elston: Mr Speaker --
Mr Breaugh: Are you resigning?
Hon Mr Elston: No, I am not doing anything in that sense.
Mr Speaker, I was just asked if I was going to do something special. I am. I am going to ask if we could have unanimous consent to pay tribute to the member for Waterloo North, who has announced that he will not be seeking re-election whenever the election is called.
The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?
MEMBER FOR WATERLOO NORTH
Hon Mr Elston: It is a pleasure to rise and pay tribute to Herb Epp, who has been in this House since 1977 and who has garnered over those years a large number of friends with his sense of duty and his commitment to the people of Waterloo North over the years.
I have had the pleasure of serving with him on a number of committees. In fact, when I first came into the Legislative Assembly in 1981, Herb and I shared an interest in municipal affairs and otherwise. He was the critic in those days for the Liberal Party, in what are described now as pre-government training days for those of us over here.
Herb has developed a sense of the political which has been very helpful to all of us as we have developed our acumen with respect to politics. He has been able to do a great number of things for the people of Waterloo and in fact performs at a very high level today because of his very good community commitment that he developed over his years prior to politics.
He was a teacher for some 16 years, I am told, and so has a large following in that, which parallels, in a sense, the senior member of our caucus, who also had a brush with teaching responsibilities in those early days. The parallel does not just stop there. In fact, the member for Waterloo North was an assistant in the campaign for leadership of one Robert Nixon in about 1964 and made himself available, I think, over the entire course of that drive towards leadership.
Herb has been a great supporter of the Liberal Party and in fact has assisted many of us as we have seen ourselves move from opposition days to government. It is because of his dedication in serving in years when it was not maybe just as easy to be a Liberal that we have prospered here in a political way in this Liberal Party. It is because of Herb Epp that we have been able to prosecute some of the progressive policies forward that we have been able to.
I would like to just say that we will miss Herb Epp. I will miss him because he is a friend of mine and has been a person with whom I could share a good time when we had a chance to sit back in the standing committee on administration of justice and talk about the day’s events, or whether it was just sitting around as we did in serving on the various Liberal opposition committees that toured the province preparing the way for transition to better days for the people of Ontario.
Herb Epp has played an important part in that transition. Herb Epp has played an important part and role in making things better for the folks of Waterloo North. One would never find a more dedicated constituency person, in my view.
We will miss Herb Epp in the caucus. It is my pleasure today to rise to give thanks to Herb, from our perspective, for his long days of service. We wish him every success in the future, which I know he will find.
Mr B. Rae: On behalf of the members of the official opposition, I am at the same time saddened and also very happy to be able to participate in this event. I am saddened because it is always a bit of a loss when someone who is liked and respected by all members of the House decides it is time to go on to a saner, more rational and more sensible life.
On behalf of the inmates who are left behind, I wish you well, though I think anyone who has been in this place for more than 15 seconds can certainly understand the reasons which led you to make your decision.
I can just say personally that when I arrived here in 1982 the member for Waterloo North and I were both in opposition. He was always someone who was kind, thoughtful, always willing to share a quip, a joke, a thought in the members’ lounge behind here and somebody who has earned the respect of a great many people who were not members of his caucus. I know I speak on behalf of members of the Conservative Party too, who I know will be speaking as well, when I say this to the member.
Together with my colleague the member for Oshawa, the member for Waterloo North has probably done more than any other member to begin to draw some attention to the state of this building. While this is of parochial interest to us, I think he is to be congratulated for the energies and the efforts which he has made in trying to get on with the important work of renovating and restoring this magnificent part of Ontario’s heritage.
I hope very much that the member will keep in touch with that work and that project, and I am sure there will be ways for that to happen. Indeed, perhaps one day, even with a different government, the work might even be completed.
Herb Epp goes with our best wishes. We know he is at a time in his life when a new career is something that he can contemplate with interest and with excitement. With that sense of change, with the sense of opportunity for him, we on this side wish him all the very best.
Mr Brandt: I rise as well with a note of sadness and reluctance at the announcement of my colleague and friend the member for Waterloo North on his decision to leave this chamber.
My friendship and association with Herb Epp, if I may use his name one final time in the House, goes back a long number of years. Herb and I were involved with the mayors of southwestern Ontario back in the mid-1970s. I can recall, during our saner moments in politics at the municipal level when you really do get some things done for the people, that the mayor of Waterloo and I put together a number of programs in which we were attempting to bring some sense of balance to the programs of the provincial government, which was another particular governing party at that particular time.
Little did we know, the member for Waterloo North and I, that the situation was going to deteriorate as rapidly as it has relative to transfer grants and municipal responsibilities and problems, as has been the case during the course of the past -- I am not going to get partisan on this occasion, other than to say that I know the member for Waterloo North has sensed that some of the frustration he and I shared back some decade and a half ago has become even more serious today.
One of the strange things that happens when you have a friendship and an association with another politician from another part of the province is that, back in the latter part of the 1970s when I was serving as mayor of a community and the member for Waterloo North was in need of some assistance to raise some money, I can recall that I was involved, along with the Treasurer, in a fund-raising evening for the member for Waterloo North.
I know it is very difficult for some people who are perhaps listening to us today to understand that here I am in the Conservative Party helping a member of the Liberal Party raise money. But I did not know at that time that I would get elected in 1981. Heaven knows I tried in 1977, and although my memory is perhaps a little bit murky with respect to the details of that particular occasion, as I recall and as I look at the history of that particular moment in time, I lost that election. The member for Waterloo North was successful and went on to serve the province, and certainly his community, extremely well.
The member for Waterloo North, we all know, has had extensive experience as a teacher, an alderman, a mayor, arriving here in 1977 to serve in opposition. He was very effective in opposition. As a matter of fact, I liked him far better when he was in opposition. I could always look across at the member for Waterloo North and I knew that he was going to ask sensible questions of the government of the day and that he was going to research those questions well and prepare them in such a way that they would have a meaningful impact on the government.
As the member knows, the questions were answered, quite unlike the situation that we have today, an entirely different circumstance. How times have changed. We actually used to have a question and answer period, and the member for Waterloo North was a magnificent contributor to that particular hour that we spent here on each and every occasion.
I say in all seriousness that I think one of the things our party supported unanimously that was brought forward by the member for Waterloo North was the protection of private property rights. It is fundamental, we believe, to our system of government; it is fundamental to the philosophy of our party. I was pleased to see the member for Waterloo North bring that particular legislation forward, because I feel it is a legacy that he leaves to the people of Ontario which is extremely important, if not in fact critical in many respects. I applaud him for that move and of course we supported him in that particular endeavour.
In closing, let me just say that the member for Waterloo North has had a distinguished career. I think when he leaves this place he knows full well that he has made an impact on his own community and on the people of Ontario. He leaves with our best wishes, and on behalf of our party, we say to a friend and a colleague and a warrior of the first order politically, one we respect, Godspeed and the very best of luck.
Mr Epp: I just want to say very briefly how much I appreciate the good wishes that have been extended by my three colleagues, the member for Bruce, the member for York South and the member for Sarnia. I must say that all of them are very responsible people. They take their responsibilities very seriously but they do not take themselves very seriously. I think that is an important trait that all of us should have but all of us do not.
I am particularly interested in the comments that all of them made. I know the member for Bruce used certain comments and brought out some of the dry humour that I like him for and that he has used on all of us over the years. I want to thank the member for Sarnia for reflecting back on the late 1970s when he came to my fund-raiser. What he did not say was that he was quite ill. He had a high temperature and, despite that fact, he still came to my fund-raiser and helped raise money for me to proceed in politics. I must say that I kind of repaid him partly for that the other day when I went to his roast. I did not have a chance to speak, but I paid $59.95 to go to that roast and have a very nice dinner and help roast him and participate together with the other 799 people in that room.
I appreciate the fact that the leader of the official opposition has referred to restoration that I am involved in, co-chairing a committee together with the Speaker. I think we are making progress on that. I am very proud of the progress that we have made to date and that will be made in the future. Obviously I will not be able to be part of that in the same sense, but nevertheless I will keep very close tabs on it.
After 13 years, I have a lot of good memories of this place. I remember some of the great orators who were here. I think the greatest orator I have heard in this particular chamber was a former leader of the NDP, Stephen Lewis, who went on to the United Nations and is still speaking very effectively across the country. That is not taking anything away from all the other people who have spoken here, but I particularly remember the day when he made his last speech in here. Both the lower and the upper galleries were filled. It was a very important day, but it was one of the great speeches I think we have heard in this chamber.
I think one of the things we miss these days is -- I do not know whether it is the rules or what it is -- but I do not think we quite have the opportunity to have those speeches the way we did a few years ago. One of the other things I do not think we miss is some of the evening sessions and some of the debates that went on at that time.
I want to thank the people of Waterloo North who have elected and re-elected me on four occasions to this august chamber. The riding of Waterloo North, as all or many of the members know, is made up of the city of Waterloo and two townships, Woolwich and Wellesley. I think it is a very unique riding. As the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology indicated earlier, we have the University of Waterloo there, together with a number of high-tech industries.
The other part of that riding is a group of people who came there back in the late 18th century and the 19th century, referred to as the Mennonites. Some of them still run their farms and so forth without electricity; they ride on horse and buggies and live a very modest lifestyle. So we have the two extremes, but I think the two work very well together. I am very proud to have had the opportunity and still have the opportunity of representing the people of Waterloo North, who have been very supportive and helpful to me over the many years.
As I have indicated and as was indicated by other people, I have made a lot of friends in the chamber on both sides of the House. I thank members for those friendships. I appreciate the help they have given me over the years. I am now looking for other challenges. As indicated, I am going to do some teaching. One of the things I have always been interested in is property rights, as the former leader of the Conservatives has indicated. I think being in real estate will help me to endorse that. That is one of the things I want to do too.
I thank members again for their kind words, for their help and support over the years. I am sure I will miss this place. I will have a lot of fond memories and I do not think I will have any regrets in having served here for 13 years.
The Speaker: I would like to inform the House that I have just been informed that the Minister of the Environment’s father has passed away, and I will, on your behalf, send our condolences to the member for St Catharines.
Mr B. Rae: I would just say to you, Mr Speaker, that I know all members will join with you in expressing our condolences to the Minister of the Environment and to the members of his family.
Mr Harris: On behalf of my party, I too want to extend our condolences to the Minister of the Environment and to his family.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier on the economic record of his government. Obviously, as we come to the final few days of the session, it gives us an opportunity to deal with some of the fundamentals of life for the citizens of this province.
Since 1985, the retail sales tax collected by the Liberal government has gone up by 65% per family. Personal income tax collected per family has gone up by 85%. At the same time, the rate of inflation has only gone up by 25%. So we see an incredible galloping inflation in the way in which this government has been collecting taxes.
I would like to ask the Premier if he can tell us how he feels about having reached a situation where the retail sales tax per family has gone up by 65%, the personal income tax per family has gone up by 85% and inflation has only gone up by 25%.
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Treasurer will tell the honourable member about the outstanding record of this government.
The Speaker: Referred to the Treasurer.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member is aware that disposable income on average has gone up as well. When we took office five years ago, all was not in order in the fiscal position of Ontario. Our deficit was around $3 billion and many programs had not been dealt with effectively for the previous decade. We had a deficit not only in dollars but a deficit in programs, and over these five years we have corrected those.
Our programs have been expanded; they have been made more sensitive and responsive, more effective. At the same time, on the basis of our fiscal policy, we have raised the funds to pay for them. At this point our programs, however inadequate the honourable member may think they are, are much better and better funded than they were, our books are balanced, we have a surplus and we are paying down the provincial debt.
Mr B. Rae: There is no magic in that. If you tax everything that moves and you knock people over the head hard enough with taxes, your revenues are going to increase substantially. There is no magic in that at all.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The Sheriff of Nottingham would have done the same.
Mr B. Rae: As my colleague the member for Scarborough West has said, the Sheriff of Nottingham would have done exactly the same thing and in fact did do the same thing.
Just to show how much the Treasurer has been robbing from the poor at the same time as he has been easy on the rich, the numbers again tell a terrifying story. In 1987, which is the latest year for which we have any statistics, 300,000 citizens of this province earning less than $10,000 a year paid $60 million to the Treasury in income tax. At the same time, 1,160 Ontarians who earned over $50,000 did not contribute a single cent to the provincial Treasury in terms of personal income tax.
How can the Treasurer justify carrying on with a tax system in this province that continues to punish poor people and tax poor people at the same time as people who are in a position to pay are not paying anything?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member, if he were fair and equitable, would associate me more with Robin Hood, if I might put it that way.
He would be aware that since we took office, we have reduced or eliminated personal income tax for 625,000 tax filers who paid taxes under the Conservative regime and who still pay it under federal taxation. I think he would also be aware that our provincial tax reduction program announced in the most recent budget gives a special credit of $200 per child for people at the low end of the income scale.
Now we come directly to taking from the rich, which includes the honourable Leader of the Opposition, and we have brought in a surtax on incomes which we believe provides the fairness and equity which the honourable member is looking for but cannot see, even though it has obviously been established.
Mr B. Rae: If the Treasurer objects to the Sheriff of Nottingham and insists on presenting himself as Robin Hood, perhaps we can compromise on Friar Tuck.
I would like to ask the Treasurer a simple question. Given the fact that with the GST, which he now said he is going to be adding on to, which will be a windfall of about $2 billion to corporations -- he knows that perfectly well because of the change which is taking place. He also knows that there are as many as 40,000 corporations in Ontario with profits of nearly $13 billion which now pay no income tax to the province whatsoever.
I would like to ask the Treasurer if he could tell us why he would not implement a minimum corporation tax on income, a 1% drop in the retail sales tax to offset the impact of the GST on working families and tax elimination completely for the working poor. Why not adopt three very simple, straightforward tax measures that would end up with some tax justice for the people of the province?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member’s questions are so repetitious that I even had an answer prepared here which is so good that I will not bother with it at this time. I do take offence that he would compare me to Friar Tuck just because I have a similar haircut. It does not seem appropriate.
The honourable member also knows that while we do not have a minimum corporation tax of the type that he would have if he were in office, God forbid, we do have a capital tax which all corporations pay except the smaller ones where there is so much job generation that this capital tax means a revenue of about $300 million. I should really be checking that number and if we find that is wrong, I may correct it, but it is in that order.
We do not claim perfection as the New Democrats always have, but we feel that as Liberals we are striving for perfection. In this regard, the fairness and equity of our tax system has improved during our time. As a matter of fact, a percentage of the overall revenue paid by corporations is gradually increasing and the revenue we receive from individuals is gradually reducing. Obviously, we receive more from individuals than corporations and the honourable member would like that perhaps to be reversed.
I think he should also be aware of something that is obvious, that in order for corporations to expand and establish themselves effectively they have to have capital. The honourable Speaker is looking at me over his glasses, and that means that is enough of that for now.
Mr B. Rae: I just wish the rest of us could have the same effect on him that you do, Mr Speaker.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Premier. Again, looking at the review of the government’s record in an area in which it takes great pride in talking about how much it has done, the Premier will know that when it comes to the control of the pollution of our water, the whole thrust of the government’s program, the jewel in the crown of the government’s achievements, is the so-called municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, the MISA program.
The controls on sewage treatment plants to deal with some of the simple basics of life were supposed to have been in place by November 1989 and there is as of now no projected date by which any of these controls will be in place. Not a date, not a sign, nothing in place whatsoever.
Can the Premier tell us why it would be that the mainstay program which he has trumpeted so loudly since 1986 and which he promised the people would be in place by November 1989 is not only not in place now, but there is absolutely no date projected by which it will be in place?
Hon Mr Peterson: I disagree with my honourable friend’s analysis of the government’s environmental program. I would say that there are many sparkling jewels in the tiara of accomplishment of this great government with respect to the environment. I think that has been recognized by the leading environmentalists fêting my colleague the Minister of the Environment as very clearly the leading environmentalist in any government in North America today. I think any fairminded person across this province would acknowledge it.
The member talked about one program, but there are many other programs this government has been leading in, whether it is CFCs, acid rain or a variety of others. So I think my honourable friend is being very narrow, as usual, in his analysis of what has transpired and indeed the progress that is being made.
Mr B. Rae: The last thing I want to do is be narrow or unfair. What I want to do is be accurate. I asked the Premier a question with respect to a program dealing with the pollution of water. Controlling the pollution of water is supposed to be a major foundation of this government’s policy.
What we have here is a program which was announced with great fanfare back in 1986, four years ago this month. The controls on pollutants from eight sectors were supposed to start by June 1989, but they now are not projected to start until 1992. We are told that the controls on the petroleum sector were supposed to be in place again in June 1989; they will not be in place until 1991 at the very earliest.
Surely we are entitled to ask, if this is the centrepiece of the government’s water pollution program, why is it not in place at the dates on which it was said it would be in place?
Hon Mr Peterson: Again, I disagree with my honourable friend’s analysis of the overall environmental program. Let me just refresh my honourable colleague’s memory with respect to these programs.
As the member knows, the environmental budget is up something like 128% over the last five years. He can look at the new initiatives that have been made in this government with respect to sewer and water corporations to bring the infusion of funds necessary to rebuild the infrastructure, to rebuild pipelines through the LifeLines program and so many others, and to make sure that we have an infrastructure that is keeping pace with the growth in this country.
The member is quite right about the MISA program. I think it is a program that is the leading edge, again, in this country. The regulations are being worked through in consultation with the public and a variety of other people to make sure that we have leading-edge technology in programs to control water pollution.
I cannot give my honourable friend the specific dates on the specific sectors. I know they are all working apace and I think my honourable friend, in fairness, would say it is an excellent program.
Mr B. Rae: It is not an excellent program because it is not in place, and it is not proceeding apace because it was supposed to have been accomplished last year and most of the program, the vast majority of it, is not in place.
The government has not met the zero discharge of toxic substances into the Great Lakes, which is the purpose of the Great Lakes agreement. It has not developed a comprehensive database with respect to poisons and toxins in industrial discharges. It has not set the effective effluent limits. It has not done any of the things which it set out to do in 1986 saying that this was going to be the route which would finally control water pollution in the province, the major program that it said was at the very centre of everything. Every time we ask a question in this House on the environment, the answer comes back “the MISA program.” The MISA program is a bust and it is time the government recognized that.
Will the Premier finally admit that in fact the MISA program is a complete bust?
Hon Mr Peterson: No, absolutely not. The Leader of the Opposition is a complete bust. The MISA program is not a complete bust.
Mr Harris: My question is for the Premier regarding his meeting with the Premier of Quebec last night. I understand the Premier and Mr Bourassa discussed a number of economic and trade issues. I wonder if those issues included a discussion on interprovincial trade barriers that restrict Ontario companies from working in Quebec.
Hon Mr Peterson: Indeed, they did. As I know the member is aware, the ministers are meeting across the country, and the honourable minister can bring me up to date. There are meetings scheduled for, I think, the week after next, if my memory serves me correctly, on 13 July next, with any luck to make some progress with respect to the question of interprovincial trade barriers.
It is an issue that concerns me a great deal; I know it concerns my colleague opposite. We are a government that would like to remove all those interprovincial trade barriers. It has been a plaguing problem for a long period of time, but we think it is very much in the national interest to remove those.
Mr Harris: I am delighted that the Premier has been talking about those. It is the first we have heard of advancing a tremendous concern to Ontario’s industries with other provinces, an area of concern that exists between our two provinces and is doing a lot of harm to Ontario’s interests.
I wonder how the Premier would respond to Alfred Roger’s Tree Service in Gloucester. They would like to know why Quebec seasonal contractors can operate freely in this province, while they cannot tender on Quebec contracts unless they get a special licence plate -- $590 -- and move their head office to Quebec. What do we say to this Ontario company with regard to interprovincial trade barriers at the same time as its competition from Quebec is operating freely in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: This has been a problem for a long period of time, just like Quebeckers came to me and said, “Bombardier won a contract in the province of Ontario and your government cancelled that.” The member will recall that -- I think Mr Miller was the Minister of Industry and Trade then -- so we can see that this does build tensions back and forth.
I very much share the view of my colleague opposite. I think it would be very much in the national interest to get rid of interprovincial trade barriers. It is something that our minister has taken the lead on at endless meetings. It is not an easy one to accomplish. Certainly from our point of view it would be, but there are other problems besides Quebec.
I know my honourable friend would be mindful of the history and some of the involvement of his government in establishing Ontario barriers. We are trying to take those down, we are trying to take Quebec’s down, we are trying to take them down right across the country to make sure that we operate in a free and open market.
Mr Harris: I think most businesses, all the way through to northern Ontario --
Hon Mr Fontaine: It’s okay. Davis and your guys were the ones who wanted to change that.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I realize the Minister of Northern Development wants to enter into the fray.
Companies along the Manitoba border and along the Quebec border, all the way through northern Ontario and the Ottawa region, have been telling us that the situation is not getting better, that in each and every one of the last five years the situation has got worse. Many Ontario companies and workers now have easier access to foreign countries than they do to some of our own provinces, including Quebec.
I would like to ask the Premier how he responds to the Ottawa-Carleton region, which has given up on this government and is now proposing the establishment of a free trade zone with Quebec in order to work around some of the barriers, and I wonder how he would respond to Don Cardill of Donwel Heating in Carleton, who was told by the Quebec government that if he wanted to sell his product, ground-source heat pumps, to Quebec customers, he would have to open an office in Quebec and maintain two staff members there, one of whom must be technical staff. What do we say to these companies that are increasingly telling us the situation is getting worse each and every year?
Hon Mr Peterson: We tell them it is quite wrong. I think I agree with the honourable member opposite. We faced the same problem in Nova Scotia, for example, historically, where offsets are insisted on and establishing local headquarters and that kind of thing, and other provinces as well.
I fundamentally disagree with that approach. I guess that leads my honourable friend opposite to stand up and say where he stands. Is he just trying to create more tension in this country at a very sensitive time or is he saying we should retaliate? I am very interested in his views on this matter.
This has gone on for some long period of time. It did not start yesterday, as I know he knows. I know he knows that he was part of the interprovincial trade barrier and some of the problems that were created in the past. We are trying to solve this problem. I reject the idea completely. I think my honourable friend wants to examine his own soul to find out if he is being constructive in this debate.
Mr Harris: I have never heard the Premier be interested in anybody’s views other than his own. I am surprised to hear him say that.
The Speaker: And the question is to which minister?
Mr Harris: I have another question for the Premier. As we approach the end of this session, I thought it appropriate to review the government’s record in developing medium- and long-range plans. I have a non-confidence motion this afternoon which I hope the majority in the House will support. It talks about the lack of long-range planning for our health care system, transportation system and so on.
But this afternoon I would like to ask the Premier about a very specific plan which the Liberals did have access to and which Conrad Black, the Leader of the Opposition and my caucus support. That plan is the Social Assistance Review Committee report. Can the Premier tell me why his government refuses to follow the very specific SARC plan to reform our welfare system in the province?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am immediately suspect of anything the member for Nipissing, the Leader of the Opposition and Conrad Black support, whatever the issue at hand.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That is a strange bunch in the bed.
Hon Mr Peterson: It really is a very strange bunch. I do not know whether my honourable friend is wearing his Liberal hat, his socialist hat or his Conservative hat. He is always standing in this House: “Don’t spend any more. Don’t tax more.” It is very strange. My honourable friend has not sorted out his views on a lot of these subjects. But the former minister and the current minister have done more and are leading in welfare reform across this country.
Where the member could help us is, he could go to his friends in Ottawa, to Mr Mulroney, who tried to cut our Canada assistance plan payments, the general welfare assistance in this province, when we are leading in that regard. He could use the great influence he has with his very close friend Mr Mulroney and tell him to stop taking advantage of this, because we want to help with respect to the less advantaged in this country. We have been leading in all regards. We have been cut off by them and now the court says what they have done is contrary to the conventions of the past. But this government does not have to apologize to anyone for its record in terms of reform of the welfare system. We are cleaning up the messes that the member’s government created.
Mr Harris: The Premier and the Minister of Community and Social Services try to blame the federal government for the province’s inability to keep a promise, for the province’s inability to follow a long-term game plan. I do not accept that. Members will note from my non-confidence motion this afternoon that this government has raised taxes by 130%. It has increased its own spending from $25 billion to $44 billion, so the Premier should not try to tell me that it has not had the money right here in the richest, highest-taxing province of this country.
George Thomson told the Premier that implementing stage 1 of SARC without stages 2, 3 and 4 would not work. In fact, some argue it would make the long-term problem worse. Will the government complete the nuts and bolts of SARC, ie, stages 2, 3 and 4, which were the reform part of the social services system here in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: I could tell my honourable friend something that he is not aware of, but since he is trying to start a campaign of some sort or other, I would like to respond to him. Does he know that this government is spending less as a percentage of gross national product than the member’s government spent, but we are balancing the books? We have brought equity programs to people across this country. I am prepared to happily debate with him the questions of pay equity for women and for equality, his idea to tax food in this country and his idea to tax the sick in this country. I am looking forward to that debate and I am looking forward to defending the record of this government with respect to the progressive nature of social welfare. So to my friend, any time he is ready.
Mr Harris: I do not know how running Ontario’s debt from $30 billion to $40 billion in five years is responsible. But let me ask about this, because I am very interested in the one long-term game plan the Premier had that he refused to follow. The basic tenet of the SARC report, a principle which is supported by all members of this House, is transition. That is why it is called the Transitions report, a transition from being a tax burden to being a taxpayer. The only significant aspect of SARC that the government has implemented is part of phase 1, increase the benefit levels. That was the easy, throw more money into the pot part of it.
Does the Premier disagree with Chairman Susan Pigott of the Child Poverty Action Group and many others who believe that by not following through today on the reform phases of SARC, not only is the government failing to address the long-term goals for all of society but we are also losing the benefit of the extra money that was committed last year?
Hon Mr Peterson: I assume the member has read the SARC report and I assume he understands that those phases depended on the co-operation of the federal government. We have been cut off at the pass by the federal government -- his government, not ours. So when he bleeds out of one side of his mouth and wants to cut help on the other side of his mouth, it is not easy for him to stand up in this House credibly and put forward that point of view.
We have started on a systematic program of welfare reform. It was continued in the last budget, where 115,000 people were taken off the rolls; with our housing programs; with getting rid of OHIP premiums, which was part of the SARC report that the member disagreed with; as part of a multiplicity of programs; child tax credits for the poor and a variety of other programs to address the comprehensive problem of poverty. So I say to my honourable friend, we have a comprehensive plan. We are working on that in a very thoughtful way and we are making real progress.
Where the member could be useful, where he could be helpful in this debate, is he should go to his friends in Ottawa and tell the Minister of Finance, Mr Wilson, and Mr Mulroney to fulfil their obligations to the disadvantaged of this province and across this country. Together, we will be able to fund a program that is the model for the world and for Canada
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Premier. The Minister of Education is presently sitting on a series of reports which will have major implications for Ontario’s education system. The select committee on education reported in January on some major changes to financing education, which he has not had the courtesy to respond to as yet.
The Ministerial Inquiry into Religious Education in Public Elementary Schools under Mr Watson has reported. He has had that now again for many months and has not made any pronouncements. Special education, which we have been expecting for some time, has not come forward, and the Vision 2000 review of post-secondary education at the college level has also not had any response.
The select committee process which he established and to which he wanted to give credibility set up a process for review of financial ceilings for education that were to complete a major consultation by 30 August 1990. Why is it that the Premier’s government has not responded in this House before we rise about his intention to meet the requirements set forward by the majority Liberal committee?
Hon Mr Peterson: I know the minister has this in hand and I will pass on the member’s very thoughtful comments to him.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It is not just the Minister of Education, it is also the Premier, because he has had several ministers of education who have sat on his promised amendments to the special education act, Bill 82, which he will recall.
Public hearings were held for that in 1986. At various times over the last three years, we have heard that it is coming in a few months. We have heard that it is coming on Monday, and now the minister has said that it will not come until later this fall, presumably after an election.
Why is it that the government is leaving kids in need of real special education out on a limb, as we know it is, because of the failings in the present legislation?
Hon Mr Peterson: If the minister has pronounced on the subject, then the member knows his plans. These things are a matter of review. They are reviewed thoroughly. I know my honourable friend opposite thinks he has the instant answer to every problem. That has always been his history and I appreciate the benefit of his advice. But on the other hand, let me tell him we are going to miss him terribly.
Mrs Marland: My question is also to the Premier. Two weeks ago, the cabinet overturned a decision of the joint board regarding the proposed landfill site in Tiny township. The cabinet even had the nerve to substitute the board’s decision with its own decision, I would like to remind the Premier that in 1985, when he commented on a similar situation, he said, “It is a travesty of the system to have the hearing process, with expert testimony, overturned by politicians and cabinet who know very little about the issues.
Now that the cabinet has done what the Premier said was wrong in 1985, why has he changed his mind? Is it that reopening the hearings would delay a decision until after an election?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Attorney General can help out my honourable friend.
Hon Mr Scott: The decision in this case was not overruled on the merits, as the honourable member would know if she could take a moment to read either the decision or the note that accompanied the cabinet’s decision.
The board dealt with the matter as a question of process in the first place. It was clear that the process established had overlooked a significant fact. The matter was referred back to the board, not to conduct a new hearing but to conduct a portion of the hearing again so that all the material necessary under the statute and the policy would be before the same board when it considered its decision. We did not review the decision on the merits or reverse it on the merits.
Mrs Marland: I am disappointed the Premier would have referred this question, because it obviously indicates he is not concerned about the environmental results of this decision.
When the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay announced the cabinet decision, he made that announcement on a Friday, at four o’clock in the afternoon I might add, with no notice to either the press or the citizens’ groups that had been involved in the hearing. He said that the cabinet had also decided to “provide financial support for the required studies by the communities.” The government would also assist in “minimizing current waste disposal costs.”
When the Minister of the Environment sent other municipalities back for more research -- I might give the region of Peel as an example -- the government did not offer to finance these studies, nor did it offer to help pay for current waste disposal costs. Is this a new government policy, that the provincial government will pay for a municipality’s garbage disposal until it finds a new landfill site?
Hon Mr Scott: I think it is unfair of the honourable member, though I am certain not intended, to criticize the Premier for referring the question to me. I am the chairman of the legislation committee of the cabinet, and besides that the Premier firmly thinks I should get more experience in the rough and tumble of the House. The honourable member will simply have to tolerate me for a while longer as I get that kind of training at her hands.
The decision that the honourable member refers to, if she would take a moment to look at it carefully again, does not establish any new policy. It makes a reference back to the board that is not based on an assessment of the merits and attempts to make a determination in referring it back that will not do an injustice to any of the parties in the hearing process.
Mrs Marland: Why are they getting money?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Scott: Under the rules, as I understand it, the member must ask her House leader if she is going to ask another question. I know he will not let the member do that. So we will have to meet in the autumn to talk about it. No policy has been established by this decision. These decisions are looked at individually. Cabinet attempts to make a decision that it thinks, in all the circumstances, is the appropriate one, which is what we did here.
Ms Oddie Munro: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. Approximately one year ago there was a great announcement in Hamilton for the construction of a new training centre for correctional officers. Can the minister tell me the progress of that project?
Hon Mr Patten: I am happy to tell the member that the project is progressing extremely well. We have had some delays as a result of part of the province-wide strikes that have gone on. This particular centre will serve the full range of staff training for our people. As the member knows, we have 7,500 employees in our ministry and therefore we have a great deal of training to do.
It is the former Bell Cairn school building in Hamilton that is being renovated. Along with that is a residential section that will be added to this particular building, which will allow us to provide residential training for 72 people. This will go a long way to having all of our training for correctional officers in one spot rather than going outside to rent hotels and motels and places of this nature, and I think will be a source of pride for our correctional officers.
Ms Oddie Munro: I wonder if the minister could tell me what the rationale and focus of the training programs will be.
Hon Mr Patten: As I am sure the member and some of the other members from the Hamilton area will appreciate, correctional work is becoming more and more complex and more and more highly specialized. Perhaps a few examples might help. The nature of some of the basic training for correctional officers has to do with human rights training, inmate management, discipline, some of the policy issues related to communicable diseases and how those are managed, how we handle emergencies, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, etc.
Beyond that, as the member knows, it is a requirement for correctional officers to participate every five years in advanced training and update their particular skills to deal with emergencies, suicides, possible escapes, stress management and career development. As I said before, I believe this centre will go a long way to enhance the morale of our employees by way of the opportunities they will have for future training and development at this centre.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister will recall that he and the Treasurer have insistently throughout this spring session, and particularly at the time of the budget, said it was impossible to make new advances on a whole host of programs in the social sector because of the cap on the Canada assistance program.
In particular he will remember that in the wake of that, the government suspended the New Directions for Child Care policy. Dozens of capital projects across the province have been refused even though they have boards and supporters and everything ready to go and in spite of the fact that there is an 8,000 waiting list to get into those programs for subsidized spaces. There are hundreds of centres on the brink of bankruptcy. Now that the cap has been lifted in a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision on 15 June and $157 million has been released --
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr Allen: The Treasurer now has $157 million in effect at his disposal. Would the minister care to comment on the Treasurer’s rather perverse comment in the press the other day in response to this judgement that he would not be releasing further moneys for such child care programs or for social service expansion on programs already announced?
Hon Mr Beer: I would say to my honourable friend that the Treasurer’s comments were certainly not perverse, but really were simply recognizing the fact, which is that we do not have those dollars. The federal government has not accepted the ruling of the court and has indeed indicated that it is most likely going to appeal that. The point of fact is that the dollars we have committed this year and will be spending show an increase even in the child care area of some $47 million or $48 million.
If ultimately we find that the courts through the system uphold the decision of the BC court, then clearly we have a number of areas where we would want to apply those dollars, but I think the member would agree that until we have those dollars, what the Treasurer is simply saying is that we cannot spend what we do not have.
Mr Allen: I am told, and I think the minister understands, that once a federal decision like that has been rendered illegal, this province may go ahead and spend cost-shared dollars and expect compensation until such time as that judgement is declared legal. Quite apart from that, the government has recently had $600 million returned to it in transfer payments that go back as long as 1963.
When I think of all the times I have asked this minister about particular social programs, whether it had to do with food banks, the developmentally handicapped, the disabled, social assistance for singles, a whole host of social programs -- I care not to think of the number of times I have asked those questions -- he has consistently referred to this problem. Inasmuch as those funds are now in the government’s Treasury, would the minister not undertake –
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Allen: -- to give us that new schedule of expenditures on that series of programs I have been asking about in order that the people who are in desperate need can get --
The Speaker: Order. Minister.
Hon Mr Beer: I would like to make very clear to the honourable member that in terms of what this government has done as recently as the last budget, the budget of the Ministry of Community and Social Services actually has gone up some $800 million, all of that at a time when we were under the understanding there would be no further funding coming from the federal government.
As yet we have no reason to believe we are going to see one penny of the $160 million that we were expecting to receive. I can assure the honourable member that should that occur, we would most certainly be looking at the major priority areas and would try to ensure that more dollars would flow. But at this point we have no indication that is going to happen, and indeed in the judgement that the court made it was indicated that it was not that the federal government might not want to consider other ways of cutting back on funding, but rather that the way in which it did it, in the judgement of the court, was wrong.
It is our understanding that the federal government is looking for ways of cutting that particular program and that this is why it is going to be appealing that decision.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. Last week my colleague the member for Mississauga South and I asked this minister about the death of Miss Parenteau. At that time the minister was not aware of Coroner Cass’s report on TTC safety and its subsequent recommendations.
For the minister’s benefit, one of the recommendations is as follows: that a program be implemented immediately to install a clearly defined yellow safety strip in each station across the system. What action has the minister taken in conjunction with the Minister of Transportation to implement this recommendation, a recommendation that is so very critical to the members of our visually impaired community?
Hon Ms Collins: I can assure the members that I discussed this matter with the Minister of Transportation the other day. I brought their concerns to his attention. I continue to work with him on policies with regard to people with disabilities and transportation in this province. I can tell the member that the Ministry of Transportation funds municipalities in this province to provide safe transportation systems.
Mr Cousens: The minister should be aware that we have been in contact with members of Miss Parenteau’s family, as well as with organizations representing Metropolitan Toronto’s visually impaired. They have informed us that there have been numerous occasions on which accidents have taken place on the TTC involving the visually repaired, many of which go unreported.
They also informed us that the coroner was not able at this time to conduct an inquiry into Miss Parenteau’s death and that, incredibly, the Toronto Transit Commission has informed them that until the province of Ontario comes up with additional funding, it will not be able to put in the safety strips.
When will this minister start to represent those within the disabled community? Why must we continue to dog her with questions that respond to the needs of the visually impaired and she comes back with an answer, as she just did today, that says she is just talking to the minister and nothing is happening to help them in our transit system?
Hon Ms Collins: I can assure the member that we do care about the transportation system in this province when it concerns people with disabilities. The Ministry of Transportation --
Mr Cousens: You care but you’re doing nothing. You talk and talk and nothing happens.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Cousens: There isn’t much of an answer from you.
The Speaker: Are you finished now?
Mr Cousens: If I had another opportunity, Mr Speaker, I would be pleased to go further.
The Speaker: Thank you. You are not, so I will just wait until you are finished.
Hon Ms Collins: As I was saying, the Ministry of Transportation gives municipalities and transportation authorities the subsidies to provide safe transportation in all municipalities in this province, and we have been giving those subsidies to the TTC and to Metro Toronto. In addition to that, we have formulated a policy on transportation for people with disabilities that is leading in this country. In fact the minister just announced a couple of weeks ago the endorsement of a report done by the TTC and Metro on transportation for people with disabilities. He also announced increased subsidies for conventional transit systems in the province, which would increase from 75% to 90%, as well as the establishment of a permanent accessible taxi program for the province.
We are leading the way but we do expect, when we flow provincial dollars to municipalities and transit authorities, that they will provide safe transportation for all people in this province.
Mr Faubert: My question is to the Minister of Health. For a number of years Scarborough General Hospital has been attempting to obtain funding for a community-based palliative care program. The minister will be aware of continuing requests over that period in support of this proposal. The program is in keeping with the direction of our government to move from institutional care to community-based care. However, over the past two years, as has been the response to inquiries, the area of palliative care has been under review by the ministry.
Can the minister advise this House when the review on palliative care will be completed and when it is anticipated that requests for such proposals will be received?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to thank the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere for his question. I am very aware of his interest in this important matter. I have had the opportunity to have notice of the question. He is aware that in fact palliative care policy is under active review within the ministry. We are anticipating that as soon as the policy determination is complete, we will have a request-for-proposal process and that all requests for proposals would then be reviewed through the district health councils in the province.
Mr Faubert: As the minister is aware, there is widespread support for Scarborough General Hospital’s community-based palliative care program, and that is, as we know, a proposal for in-home care of terminally ill patients, that they receive treatment by a palliative care specialist and have the dignity and comfort of nursing within their own homes. Can the minister give the people of Scarborough assurances that every consideration will be given to this request when these proposals are called?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to say to the member that due consideration will be given to all proposals that come forward, following policy determination and requests for proposals that would follow that. I would say to him that our whole focus has been on a comprehensive, co-ordinated approach to the delivery of services. I have always said that the dignity of the individual as well as quality of care and quality of caring are all part of our approach in the development of community-based and community-focused services. I am pleased to tell him that this policy matter is under active review at the present time.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Health. In our members’ gallery this afternoon are a number of people who used to work at the Casa Verde nursing home. They are registered nurses and others who were on staff at this nursing home, which is in the city of North York in Metropolitan Toronto. This home was bought by one Gerald Harquail in 1989, and on 3 May 1990 Mr Harquail dismissed all the registered nurses who were on staff and replaced them with nurses working for an agency. The day before these nurses were fired, the nursing home received accreditation.
I would like to ask the minister a very basic question. When the ministry approved the sale of the home to Mr Harquail, did he at any time inform the nursing homes branch inspectors that it was his intention to dismiss the entire registered nursing permanent staff and replace them with agency nurses?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I know it is sometimes a practice in this House for a member to give notice to a minister of a detailed and specific question. If the member had done that prior to question period, I could have had an answer for him today. I am not familiar with this issue and I will be pleased to look into it.
Mr B. Rae: Perhaps the minister should be familiar with the issue. Her ministry has now received two letters from the Ontario Nurses’ Association, dated 15 May and 18 June, which outline in considerable detail precisely what happened. I personally met with a number of members of the staff of the Casa Verde nursing home last week in my constituency office and I would have assumed that the minister would have had this material in front of her, knowing it is an issue that is very much alive.
I would like to ask the minister, if she is not capable of answering the question today, if she can tell us, while she is doing some research, why it would be, when she knows perfectly well that the regulations under the act are designed to protect the residents of the home, that the nursing homes branch would be condoning this kind of wholesale dismissal of permanent staff and their replacement by people who have no knowledge of the residents, who have no involvement with the residents, who have no connection with the residents and who are working for a nursing agency? Is this now going to be the practice in our nursing homes, that the entire nursing staff will be replaced by people who have no connection at all with the residents they are intended to serve?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As I said to the member opposite, I will look into the matter.
Mr Villeneuve: To the Minister of Agriculture and Food: Some two weeks ago the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission stated, “The broader issue of the whole milk supply management system and how milk is allocated in the province of Ontario must be reviewed.” The minister’s files will show that the Premier promised such a review to the St Albert Co-operative Cheese Manufacturers Association in April 1986, fully four years ago.
Supply management is working and must be protected. Sales of dairy products must be maximized. It is now four years. The Milk Marketing Board has asked for such a review. When will the minister and his ministry look into this request?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to not only thank the honourable member but also the member for Prescott and Russell, who handed me the complete file on this a couple of days ago and asked me to review it on behalf of the Fromagerie St-Albert.
To make a specific comment about this particular case and this particular case that was brought before the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission would be inappropriate, because obviously there are review procedures and the final review and arbiter of that would be myself, as Minister of Agriculture and Food, but I would be quite happy, if there is a supplementary, to maybe speak in more general terms to this particular problem.
The Speaker: Supplementary, if there is one?
Mr Villeneuve: I think I am a little disappointed with the fact that the minister really has still not addressed that problem, but their Common Ground paper makes some appropriate noises about ensuring effectiveness and responsiveness from regulated marketing systems.
The fact of the matter is that Ontario’s milk and poultry farmers are constrained from meeting plant and consumer demand. The fallout from the Meech will not make greater flexibility among provinces. We do have friction there now and the Meech Lake accord not coming to fruition will increase that. It is a growing problem in Ontario. What will the minister be doing to ensure that the demand for supply-managed commodities is met?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I thank the member for his supplementary, and I am quite prepared to sit down with the member, and the member for Prescott and Russell also, and the Milk Marketing Board, which I have had conversations with about this particular problem. I would be quite prepared to sit down and try to find maybe some new approaches in order to solve the problem that St Albert is suffering.
I just want to say that that cheese factory in St Albert makes a tremendous contribution to the economy of eastern Ontario, not only to the dairy industry and agriculture as a whole but also to tourism, as that product attracts people from Quebec and from the United States into that area to buy that product. It uses whole milk and that is always a challenge in our industry, to use the whole-milk product. So I am quite sensitive to that and I am sure together, with all our help, we can find a solution to this.
REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It concerns the current status of the real estate industry in this province.
A number of my constituents are concerned with what appears to be a serious downturn in the real estate market in Ontario. Many of these constituents are elderly people, trying to sell a home they have lived in for decades in the hopes of finding something more modest for their retirement. Others are first-time home buyers seeking a new home for a growing family. Some, however, are concerned that they are entering a marketplace without any protection whatsoever. These people are concerned that instead of realizing a dream they will end up with problems.
My question is, what protection exists for a person in this market? Is there any protection for the person who simply wants to sell his home, not to make a million dollars but just to change his lifestyle?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend the member for Oxford asks an important question, because, as he notes, there is a fairly significant downturn in the real estate industry and there have been a number of highly publicized closures of real estate brokerage firms.
I should point out to him that there are a number of protections that exist right now in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, including the requirement for each brokerage firm to be bonded so that there is a security for any deposits that are held by a brokerage firm that goes into receivership.
Mr Tatham: I am glad to hear that story, but I wonder. The concerns with the state of the real estate market as a whole are well founded. The minister has told the House what it is that his ministry does directly for consumers and I believe that those are effective measures, but I believe many of my constituents would also like to know what measures will be taken to relieve the pressure that obviously exists in the industry right now.
What specifically can be done to ensure that the marketplace is as strong as it possibly can be in the coming months and years to ensure that consumers and brokers alike are protected, both for now and in the future?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I guess the most important thing that could happen is that the governor of the Bank of Canada could come to his senses and bring about a lower rate of interest in this province and in this nation so that both businesses and consumers could get on with the business that they are very anxious to do.
For our own part, I want to tell my friend from Oxford that we are looking at a number of new provisions within the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to ensure that the kind of consumer protection we have is available and has the strength of protection that will protect consumers whatever the market is and whatever the policy of the federal government and its scandalous interest rates.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Jackson: It’s the lot levies; the extra $5,000 in lot levies. That’s another one you could pull back.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Philip: I have a question to the same minister. I have supplied the minister with copies of advertisements from different companies on package tours. Despite letters of protest to this minister by consumers who feel they have a grievance against these companies, it appears that certain tour companies are charging for non-existent taxes, taxes that are not charged by certain countries, and hotel services that are not charged in certain countries.
I ask the minister, does he feel it is in the best interests of the consumer, putting low prices in the large, bold type of advertising and having a lot of additional charges, non-existent charges, in fine print? Is that in the best interests of the consumer?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I appreciate that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has sent me over this ad. He alleges that these taxes that are referred to here -- I will simply read them out. One says, “Hotel services and taxes, $105.” He also has underlined a provision saying, “Canadian, $119, and Cuban departure tax and tourist card, $21, are extra and will be added to your account.”
My understanding is that there is a Canadian departure tax. I cannot confirm whether or not there is a Cuban departure tax.
What I can tell him is that the new regulations that my predecessor, now the Minister of Transportation, put into place dealing with the advertisements in our travel industry are the most stringent in all of Canada and I suggest perhaps all of North America, I want to tell him that if these ads -- and I will have my ministry check them out -- misrepresent what is actually being charged, then we will deal with the matter accordingly, but I resent somewhat the fact that he suggests or alleges that there is a misrepresentation. All I can tell him is that we will check out that matter and deal with the matter appropriately if these are misrepresentations of what is really charged in the form of taxes.
Mr Philip: The minister has received these ads before from consumers who have written to him, and I have copies of the consumers’ letters to his ministry.
The ministry says it is there to negotiate or arbitrate in disputes with a travel company. Under clause 27(g) of the Travel Industry Act the minister has the power to make regulations “governing the form and content of advertising.” One of the companies that the complaint is being made about has suggested that under this section the minister should prohibit the small-print advertising and require tour companies to include the total price in the price they are advertising.
Why will the minister not do that so that a consumer can see, when he is doing comparative shopping, the exact price he is going to pay for a tour and not have it in fine print and in many cases, in the case I have supplied him with, non-existent taxes, in this case by the Cuban government?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I see my friend the member for Nickel Belt has crossed the floor and is now sitting in the chair of the Attorney General. I am not sure if he is preparing himself for an upcoming election, but I suggest to him that if he really does want to cross the floor, he may well qualify for a position in the next executive council.
In answer to my friend’s question, we have made the regulations that he suggests and they are the most stringent regulations of any jurisdiction in Canada. He is telling me that there is small print here and I just want to tell him that the print he has circled is perhaps a fraction smaller than the other price.
He says that the ministry is trying to negotiate a settlement. That is not the case. If ads are misleading, charges will be laid. He says that individuals have written in, and if that is the case, officials in my ministry will be investigating. If there is a dispute between a consumer and an agent or a tour operator, that is the appropriate place to negotiate; but if there is a violation of the law or the regulation, that is not an appropriate place to negotiate and we would charge.
I cannot tell him now that these ads are misleading, but I tell him that I will look into it.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Mr Campbell from the select committee on education presented the committee’s fourth report and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr Campbell: In this fourth report, the committee has increasingly seen that education must be a lifelong and continuing process. This committee held 10 days of hearings in January and February of this year to investigate the start of this process, early childhood education.
There are three key themes in this report that outline generally the thrust of this report.
The first key theme is that our report emphasized the importance of early childhood education. We think the first years of education are the crucial foundation not only for children’s later educational development but also for their overall social and personal development.
The second theme was the potential of early childhood education. It can only be realized if it is comprehensive, well planned and well integrated into the education system. The committee report applauds government initiatives to expand kindergarten, but our hearings revealed considerable confusion from educators as to the pedagogical rationale of the initiatives, their implications for class size, teachers’ and boards’ capital and funding needs and the availability of resources for boards to mount high-quality programs.
The third central theme of our report was the need for continuity. We heard much of the importance of a seamless day for children. This means ensuring comprehensive and flexible provisions for child care, encouraging common principles and co-ordinated programs and enhancing co-ordination of programs and goals between the different settings and institutions in which children find themselves.
The committee identified key changes needed to ensure this type of co-ordination. Among the most critical areas is the connection between day care and schools.
The committee was pleased to see the expansion of school-based child care, and we recommend that the ministry develop a plan to ensure that every school has adequate facilities.
We agree with many witnesses who called for good co-ordination between the educational and child care systems, including the two ministries involved.
We also see great potential for the local integration of services and programs. We called on the Ministry of Education to fund pilot projects such as the model proposed by the Garderie scolaire d’Ottawa-Carleton School Day Nursery Inc to integrate kindergarten and child care in schools.
There must be good communication between the child care and school systems and mechanisms to pass on observations on special needs and learning difficulties.
Equally important is the need to articulate the very different training of professionals dealing with young children. We would ultimately like to see integrated professional development and common training for all teachers in the early years, and we recommended that a specialist program be established.
We recommended that teacher training and provision of child care, health and other social services be examined in order to better facilitate the early identification of special needs.
We also think that the concept of community or neighbourhood schools, in which the schools are a focal point from which a wide range of services for children are provided or co-ordinated, should be explored.
On motion by Mr Campbell, the debate was adjourned.
The Speaker: I should inform the House that I omitted to call petitions. I will, as soon as I finish this.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr59, An Act respecting Sioux Lookout District Health Centre;
Bill Pr87, An Act to revive the Empire Club Foundation;
Bill Pr90, An Act respecting St George’s Society of Toronto;
Bill Pr92, An Act respecting the City of Thunder Bay;
Bill Pr93, An Act to revive Dinorwic Metis Corporation;
Bill Pr97, An Act respecting the City of Kingston and the townships of Kingston, Pittsburgh and Ernestown.
Your committee further recommends that the fees and the actual cost of printing be remitted on Bill Pr90, An Act respecting St George’s Society of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr Chiarelli from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the committee’s report on Alternative Dispute Resolution 1990 and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr Chiarelli: I am pleased to report the justice committee’s study on alternative dispute resolution, or ADR as it is called.
Simply, alternative dispute resolution refers to the myriad of non-judicial processes for resolving conflicts, ranging from negotiation, mediation, arbitration, conciliation, private judging, mini-trial, moderated settlement conferences and others.
This is the first major report by a legislative committee at either the provincial or federal level to study the complex area of alternative dispute resolution. The committee found that at the present time no jurisdiction in Canada has any broad-based policy dealing with this issue.
In its report the committee considers and makes recommendations on the extent to which Ontario public policy should develop and encourage alternative means for the resolution of legal disputes both outside and within the established court systems. The report’s nine recommendations range from requiring the province to build in ADR procedures in new legislation to the use of ADR in the resolution of native claims.
Society is generally ahead of government on this issue. The inquiry has shown that the public wants new and better processes applied to settle situations of conflict, whether they be neighbourhood disputes or issues of national significance.
Most of the credit for the production of this excellent report and its concise and realistic recommendations should go to the clerk, Douglas Arnott, and to the researchers, Avrum Fenson and Susan Swift, all of whom excelled in professionalism and expertise and therefore in results.
On motion by Mr Chiarelli, the debate was adjourned.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Mr Sterling from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee’s report on the Ontario Human Rights Commission and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker: I am sure the member may wish to make a few comments.
Mr Sterling: I was amazed, actually, that the Chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice was not properly attuned to the procedure of adjourning the debate after he had made his initial comments.
Mr Callahan: That’s not true.
Mr Chiarelli: You’re so smart.
Mr Sterling: I say that in jest. Some would argue about some of the members across the way.
On 25 July of last year the government House leader authorized the standing committee on agencies, boards and commissions to review the operation of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In the fall of last year the committee sat for approximately five weeks to consider representations made by various groups on the Ontario Human Rights Commission. As a result of those hearings, and the able counsel of Bernie McGarva of Shibley, Righton McCutcheon law firm, the committee came to make several recommendations regarding the human rights commission, which are contained in this report.
I would also add that perhaps the main recommendation or the most outstanding recommendation of that report is that the committee suggests that the maximum penalty under the Human Rights Code be taken from a maximum of $25,000 to $1 million.
There was a dissenting report filed on behalf of the New Democratic Party.
I suggest that all members of the Legislature look at the recommendations of this report and hope that the report will lead to some meaningful reform of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
On motion by Mr Sterling, the debate was adjourned.
The Speaker: Petitions, and I appreciate the patience of the member for Kitchener after my error.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I have a petition signed by 460 people indicating their support for St John’s Kitchen in Kitchener and their concern about the recent provincial government decision to withdraw funding for emergency food services and their concern about the $41,130 decrease in funding for St John’s Kitchen this year.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I also have a petition signed by 76 members of the Coalition for Religious Freedom in Education, who are members of Kitchener Mennonite Brethren Church, which indicates to this assembly:
“Whereas the regulation pertaining to religious education in publicly funded schools was struck down by the Ontario Court of Appeal; and,
“Whereas section 50 of the Education Act gives parents the right to choose what kind of religious education their children shall receive; and,
“Whereas the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality rights to all Canadians; and,
“Whereas the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been endorsed by Canada, states that, ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their child...’
“We respectfully request that the government of Ontario provide publicly funded religious education programs and alternative schooling on an opt-in basis to all parents in Ontario, thus enabling them to choose the type of education which they believe to be most beneficial to their children.”
SALE OF CONSERVATION AUTHORITY LAND
Mr Adams: With the slight change of agenda, I was becoming concerned about petitions. This is a very important petition that I received on Monday. I drove down to the House on Monday specifically to deliver it. In fact we did not have petitions that afternoon.
This petition deals with the sale of land by the conservation authority in Peterborough, which has created great concern among 2,600 citizens of our community. These are citizens who are interested in these lands, which were sold by the conservation authority, returning to the crown. The petition signed by these 2,600 people, most of whom, it seemed to me, were at my office, reads as follows:
“Whereas the land known as the Buckhorn Wilderness Centre has become private property; and
“Whereas the citizens wanted these lands to be a conservation area;
“We, the undersigned, petition that the necessary steps be taken to have the above-mentioned lands taken over by the crown for the use and enjoyment of the general public.”
As required by the regulations, I have signed this petition.
CONTROL OF SMOKING
Mr Adams: While I am on my feet, I have another petition. This petition I received via the Kawartha Pine Ridge region of the Ontario Lung Association. It is signed by almost 100 people, and most of them are children. These are people who are concerned about the effect of tobacco smoke on the health of people in general but specifically on children. They are especially concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on young people and they are working towards a smoke-free world. This too I have signed.
FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD / CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE
M. Poirier : J’ai avec moi treize pétitions, toutes demandant un conseil scolaire de langue française dans les circonscriptions de Prescott et Russell. I have 13 petitions.
J’ai 96 signatures de l’association parents-élèves de l’école Sacré-Coeur à Bourget ; 95 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Joseph à Wendover ; 45 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Joachim à Chute-A-Blondeau ; 104 de l’APE de l’école Notre-Dame-de-Fatima à St-Eugène ; 25 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Isidore-de-Prescott à Saint-Isidore de Prescott ; 64 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Jean-Bosco de Hawkesbury ; 50 de l’APE de l’école secondaire de Casselman ; 39 de l’APE de l’école secondaire de Hawkesbury ; sept de l’APE de l’école secondaire de Plantagenet ; 21 du cercle de Bourget de l’Union culturelle des Franco-Ontariennes ; 255 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Paul de Plantagenet ; 88 de l’APE de l’école Du-Rosaire à Saint-Pascal-Baylon ; et finalement, 71 de l’APE de l’école Saint-Joseph à Lefaivre, pour un total de 960 noms.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Beer moved first reading of Bill 233, An Act to amend the Child and Family Services Act, 1984, and to amend certain other Acts relating to Adoption.
Motion agreed to.
AGRICORP ACT, 1990 / LOI DE 1990 SUR AGRICORP
Mr Ramsay moved first reading of Bill 234, An Act to establish a Corporation to provide for Agricultural Insurance.
M. Ramsay propose la première lecture du projet de loi 234, Loi portant création d’une personne morale offrant de l’assurance agricole.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
CROP INSURANCE ACT (ONTARIO), 1990 / LOI DE 1990 SUR L’ASSURANCE-RÉCOLTE (ONTARIO)
Mr Ramsay moved first reading of Bill 235, An Act to revise the Crop Insurance Act (Ontario).
M. Ramsay propose la première lecture du projet de loi 235, Loi portant révision de la Loi sur l’assurance-récolte (Ontario).
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
FARM INCOME STABILIZATION ACT, 1990 / LOI DE 1990 SUR LA STABILISATION DES REVENUS AGRICOLES
Mr Ramsay moved first reading of Bill 236, An Act to revise the Farm Income Stabilization Act.
M. Ramsay propose la première lecture du projet de loi 236, Loi portant révision de la Loi sur la stabilisation des revenus agricoles.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
GAMING SERVICES ACT
Mr Sorbara moved first reading of Bill 237, An Act to provide for the Regulation of Gaming Services.
Motion agreed to.
TOWN OF OAKVILLE ACT, 1990
Mr Carrothers moved first reading of Bill Pr98, An Act respecting the Town of Oakville.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MOTION OF NON-CONFIDENCE
Hon Mr Sorbara: Mr Speaker, on behalf of the government House leader, I want to seek unanimous consent to split the time during this debate and to have the vote at 5:45.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for that request?
Mrs Cunningham: Mr Speaker, in the absence of our leader, may I have consent to move the non-confidence motion and to read it into the record?
The Speaker: It should not be too hard to get now. Is there unanimous consent?
Mrs Cunningham, on behalf of Mr Harris, moved motion 4 under standing order 42(a):
That, in spite of 33 tax increases, increasing annual provincial tax revenues by over 130% in five years, and in spite of increasing total government spending over that same period from $25 billion to over $44 billion this government has failed to implement several of its significant election promises, specifically the creation of 4,000 new hospital beds, the creation of 102,000 affordable rental units, provide automobile drivers with lower insurance rates and establish an environmental superfund to clean up toxic waste sites, therefore this House has lost confidence in the government of Ontario, not only for its inability to maintain its promises, but for its inability to develop a plan to halt the deterioration of our health care system, transportation network, competitive tax position, and integrity of our government institutions.
The Speaker: As members know, there has been agreement that the time will be divided among the three parties until 5:45, at which time the Speaker will then call for a vote.
Mrs Cunningham: I think it was with significant enthusiasm that the Liberal government was elected with the number of seats that it maintained in the last election of 1987. Upon that, I think, that position that was made --
Mr Fleet: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am just wondering, for your guidance, is it appropriate when there is a notice of motion indicating a lack of confidence in the government for the party to be not present other than for the esteemed speaker, the member for London North? There is in fact no confidence in their own motion. They will not even show up to be present for the debate. I am just wondering if that is in order.
The Speaker: In response to the, I suppose, point of order of the member, I believe he has read the standing orders on a number of occasions. The only thing the standing orders say is that there must or should be a quorum in attendance. It does not say which members should be available. Therefore, I will recognize the member for London North.
Mrs Cunningham: Carrying on, I would say that the public of Ontario expected that the promises of this government would be fulfilled. They also expected that those of us who represent the public work very hard towards the programs that we believe in and that we do our homework, with regard to not only policies of the government, but policies that we wish the government would adopt -- and, of course, that is my role in opposition -- and also to the rules and procedures of this House.
I think when one takes a look at the non-confidence motion that was presented by our leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, what we are doing here today is truly speaking on behalf of members of the public who are significantly and sincerely disappointed that some of the things that they believed in and thought this government would work towards simply have not happened.
I would like to begin by talking about some promises that were made that significantly affect the portfolio I represent, and that is the Ministry of Community and Social Services. It is with some degree of pleasure that we saw the government move towards a new social assistance review reform system. Everyone knows there were many thousands of people who marched in the poverty marches across the province of Ontario who did expect a number of changes, not only in the delivery of the social system, but in support services for people who are living in poverty in Ontario.
Some five years later, it is with a great degree of concern that people who are working on behalf of the poor in this province see food banks gaining in size and see that the greatest challenge in this next decade will be to address the issue of poverty and children.
I would say that we did expect numbers of improvements to the social assistance review reform system, to which this government has made a very small change and certainly has not addressed anything beyond stage one and certainly is not promising to move quickly towards those changes in the delivery system. At the same time as we cried out for a child care act in 1985 -- and it was promised in 1987 -- we have not seen even the beginnings.
This is a piece of legislation. We are not asking for money here; we are asking for tools and a delivery system so that we can get the job done. People lose confidence when they have not got the tools and they do not have the regulations and the support. That is not money. That is a process. It is efficiency. It is having front-line workers do the work that is needed to be done out there. A change in the child care act would allow that to happen. It was promised in 1987, in the New Directions for Child Care, that we would have it. In the 1988-89 fiscal year we do not have it.
This is my portfolio. I am obliged to speak for the public here in this House this afternoon.
Rest homes: Just think about the problems that we have had in rest homes across the province. This is not money. This is efficiency. This is caring. This is setting standards. This is looking at regulations and legislation to make certain that our seniors and people who are disabled in rest homes across this province receive the kind of support through either government programs or legislation or standards. That was promised in 1986 as part of A New Agenda. This is not money.
This government is always saying we want money. I am not talking about money. I will talk about the money they promised to spend on programs and decided to spend elsewhere. I am now talking about glossy publications and more civil servants. But this is not money I am talking about. This is regulations for rest homes. Why not?
Seven thousand new civil servants: Surely somebody could have sat down and worked with the public through a public process and got it down.
Mrs Cunningham: Some people say 9,000. I do not know any more. It is very difficult to get the good information that we need. It does not matter. They have got too many and they should not be using other provinces -- we should be showing leadership in this province. Front-line workers are what we need, and it is what people do.
The Maloney report took a look at many services that affect the quality of programs for children. We talked about the big issue of the next decade, child poverty. In order to deal with the young child, we have to put the programs in place. It does not always mean more money. It means efficiency. This was scheduled to be released in June. Once again I stand here before this House, and we know that while over 10,000 young children are on waiting lists for mental health services, this government is still sitting writing more reports. As a matter of fact, I have asked on a number of occasions that a different kind of system be set up to take a look at the needs of children. The Maloney report that was promised in June is not here.
What am I supposed to say as I travel across the province in the next few weeks and months, maybe not as a candidate in an election but as an elected official representing the public of Ontario, speaking across this province? People care about the issues. They care about kids, they care about poverty and they want to be helpful, and I have to say, “We are still waiting.” It is very difficult to defend this government, and I do not plan to do so on the issues I am raising this afternoon.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Try harder.
Mrs Cunningham: Sometimes I do. I give credit where credit is due. We are not talking money here. We are talking about a sincere interest in making changes in the delivery system within the limited fiscal resources that this government tells us it has.
Integrated homemakers: Can you imagine, Mr Speaker, that right now across the province of Ontario we have literally thousands of people in hospital beds who simply should not be there? That is expensive. We are talking $500 a day and thousands of people in hospital beds. Twenty per cent of the people in hospital beds in this province today simply should not be there. They should be in their own homes or in other institutions supported by this government.
Mrs Cunningham: Wait a minute. The member for Middlesex starts asking questions. He and I may be very close on the campaign trail.
Integrated homemakers: What we need is support systems. In the last provincial election campaign, the Liberals promised the people of Ontario that, if elected, they would move to shift the health care focus of the province from an institutional approach to a community-based approach.
The government promised in the last election to expand the number of communities with integrated homemaker programs -- much less expensive and more efficient -- from 16 communities to 28. People voted for the Liberals because they believed in that. They knew that people wanted to remain in their own homes when they were not well, to get support from their families, and they wanted it. What did they do? Did they move from 16 to 28 in three years? No, they did not. They moved from 16 to 18. For shame, what an absolute waste; people in hospital beds when they could be staying in their own homes.
I could go on but I am going to take just a moment to talk a little bit about the universities. I am going to quote, if I may be allowed, from an address called The Challenge for Universities:
Will They Face It? from the president of the University of Western Ontario, George Pedersen, presented to the C. D. Howe Institute Public Policy Conference for Journalists, The Way We Will Be, held at Niagara-on-the-Lake, 23-24 April 1990.
Mr Neumann: Oh, that’s an august body. What an august body.
Mrs Cunningham: If the member does not like who he presented it to -- I see one of my colleagues is not too happy about that -- he should be careful. After all, he comes from a town that has a university, I believe.
Hon R. F. Nixon: No, it’s the biggest city in Ontario without a university. We’re spending all the money in London.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mrs Cunningham: The universities right across this country are concerned, absolutely concerned about the future for research and development and about the future of our training for young people and our competitiveness.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Thirty-eight hundred public servants in London alone.
The Deputy Speaker: Treasurer, please.
Mrs Cunningham: The president said that the government must renew its commitment to our university system, but in order for it to do so, the support of the general public must be gained.
Mr Neumann: We’d like a tiny, little slice of it in Brantford.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, the member for Brantford.
Mrs Cunningham: I really object, when I am talking about the future of training and development and about research and development, to being heckled in this House. These are questions that this Liberal government will have to respond to, and I am very sincere and serious when I say that we have big problems with child poverty and educating our young people, because we truly do.
Government support for universities will obviously be at the expense of other social programs, necessitating difficult choices. I think that government support should be at the expense of big bureaucracy and government waste and I think this government has only shown that it is incompetent when it comes to being efficient. I have given three or four examples today.
Failures to support our university teaching and research programs now will result in the reduced capacity of Canada to solve its economic and social problems in the future. Support for our universities and the longer-term return to such investment must be seen to be of greater importance that the programs that provide short-term political payoffs. That is what we have been living with during the tenure of this government in the last three years.
I would love to take the time to talk more about education programs and the promises, to talk about the provincial share of education costs, which in fact have not been met, to talk about small business tax credits which were promised but were not fulfilled, to talk about the reduced rate of auto insurance. I would like to see the minister talk about reduced rates this time out and then go to the next election. They will not get any seats after that track record is looked at. Just wait and see that one.
Sunday shopping: Imagine the promise that this government made. “We are not going to touch it. We believe in a common day of pause. Pass the responsibility to the municipalities. Think up programs here in this Legislative Assembly, but don’t give them the transfer payments to get their work done.”
Supply of affordable housing: Imagine a government that went out and promised some 102,000 rental units and cannot even produce 20,000 in three years. I am absolutely shocked to think that this government would even call an election, given its own agenda in the next few weeks and months. They have a lot of work to do, and if they really think the public are going to believe their promises this time, I think they are fooling themselves.
I commend my leader for presenting this motion and giving us the opportunity to let the public know that this is a government they will not be able to trust, a government of broken promises. I thank you for the opportunity to speak, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I would remind the members of the standing orders that call for one member at a time. The member for Middlesex.
Mr Reycraft: I welcome this opportunity to make some comments on the resolution from the member for Nipissing.
I read the resolution a few days ago, I read it again this morning and I read it again this afternoon as I listened to the member for London North make her remarks. Quite frankly, in reading the resolution, I interpreted it to be a rather wide-ranging and general attack on the record of the Peterson government, and it specified a number of different areas where the member for Nipissing obviously believes there are some deficiencies. Almost none of those were mentioned by the member for London North and almost none of the things that she mentioned are in the resolution. However, I assume that a certain amount of latitude is allowed in these kinds of discussions.
Mrs Cunningham: Health care, taxes -- come on. Why don’t you listen? Oh, this is weak. If you are going to take time to speak, speak about something important.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for London North, please.
Mr Reycraft: I welcome this opportunity to talk, not just about the resolution but about the record of this government, a government that took office just five years and one day ago. I believe that record is a record of reform, a record of achievement, a record of accomplishment. It is a record that I am willing to hold up and compare against the record of any government anywhere. This debate will give us a chance to talk about some of those achievements and accomplishments, and therefore I welcome it.
The member for London North is not going to leave before I have even got started on my remarks, is she?
Mrs Cunningham: Well, I was going to. Start saying something important. Stay with the resolution. Speak to taxes.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, the member for London North.
Mr Reycraft: I note that the resolution by the member for Nipissing criticizes us for increasing taxes.
I think most people realize that governments, like individuals, have bills and governments, like individuals, have to pay those bills. This government has introduced a number of new programs in virtually every policy area and modernized existing ones. I believe that those new programs and those modernized programs will improve the quality of life and the standard of living for all Ontarians. I believe that those programs and program changes are necessary so that we can make sure that the kind of economic growth and economic development that we have enjoyed in this province over the past eight years is fairly and appropriately shared by Ontarians.
I know that the member for Nipissing is not only the leader of the Conservative Party, but a true Conservative as well. I know that, like Liberals, Conservatives are dedicated to the pursuit of individual freedom, but unlike Liberals they tend to believe that freedom is the same as the absence of restraint or constraint by the state, by government.
The member for Nipissing believes that the best government is the least government. Life is a lot more complicated than that. If we accept that principle, then the absence of constraint is simply nothing more than a kind of every man for himself freedom. It is the freedom of the jungle; it is the freedom that allows the rich and powerful, the influential to thrive in a society, but it forces the weak and vulnerable to just get trampled under foot.
Freedom without social justice is not freedom for everybody; it is only freedom for some. It is because of that pursuit of social justice that we have introduced new and modernized programs to help the people of Ontario. I know that the member for Nipissing’s political philosophy differs from mine. I have noticed too in the past few months that it differs from some members of his own party as well. He had an opportunity to express his philosophy very clearly to the people of this province and to all of us during the recent leadership campaign for the third party, and we all had an opportunity to hear his views and to read of them.
We know he believes that the universally accessible health care system we have in this province should be abolished; that the sick should have to pay to go to doctors’ offices and hospitals. He believes that we should do away with the property tax grant that helps seniors in our province who need that help. He believes that we should eliminate rent controls, that we should substitute rent controls with shelter subsidies, which he does not tell us how he will pay for. He believes that we should abolish pay equity in the private sectors.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Do the members have a long enough memory to remember that the standing orders call for one member at a time?
Mr Reycraft: That is a political philosophy which I do not share. Those are views which I do not share. I believe that to provide for fair distribution of the benefits from the kind of society we have, we do require better programs and we require that those programs be paid for now. That means we have to increase taxes to be able to do so.
When we formed the government, just five years and one day ago, this province was not paying its bills. There was a deficit at that time of $2.6 billion. We have planned carefully to. reduce that deficit and it was completely wiped out in the last fiscal year. In 1989-1990, the deficit --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. All members will have a chance to make whatever comments they wish when it comes the proper time to do it, not during another member’s speech. Is that clear?
Mr Reycraft: For the first time in 20 years Ontario had a deficit-free budget. The Treasurer’s budget announced for this year again is deficit-free. Not only is it balanced, but it actually has a surplus that allows us to start to pay down the debt of Ontario, and that has not happened since 1947.
I know that other of my colleagues wish to participate in this debate, and they will be talking about the specific programs that the government has introduced. I believe that the record of this government is one to be proud of. I believe that the agenda that has been put forward is an appropriate agenda for the 1990s. While I tend to share with the leader of the third party his desire to enter into a consultation with the people of this province right away about that record, I cannot support his resolution.
Mr Laughren: I must say I was struck by the wording in this non-confidence motion which complains about tax increases in the province. The Conservative non-confidence motion states that there have been 33 tax increases, which have increased provincial tax revenues by over 130% in five years. I do not doubt that those figures are roughly accurate. I have not done the arithmetic myself but I have no reason to doubt them. I certainly understand why they are concerned about it.
They talk about the promise of 4,000 new hospital beds and 102,000 affordable rental units, the promise to provide automobile drivers with lower insurance rates and a superfund to clean up toxic wastes, and all of these things that the provincial government had promised. I do not think there is anybody in Ontario, certainly by the end of the summer or early in the fall, who will not remember the promise by the Premier about three years ago in which he said that he had a specific plan to lower automobile insurance rates.
That is certainly part of this non-confidence motion by the Tories and that is absolutely correct. The member for London North is quite correct when she reminds people of that. Certainly I do not think any of us can forget that ringing declaration that the Liberals had a specific plan to lower auto insurance rates. Since then auto insurance rates have gone in no other direction but up, absolutely up. There is no question about that.
I do not know how this government is going to go out there with a straight face in Ontario in the next election campaign and make any promises. Every promise that they make, some reporter is going to put up his or her hand at the press conference and say, “Excuse me, Mr Premier” or “Mr Treasurer,” if that is who happens to be making the announcement, “didn’t you promise to lower insurance rates as well?”
Last week I can recall that my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside was on his feet questioning the Premier or the Treasurer -- the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I guess it was; it was one of them anyway -- about a promise to not allow the free trade agreement to go through if the auto pact was gutted. Who would deny that the auto pact has been gutted by the free trade agreement? No serious person disagrees with that fact at this point.
Mr D. R. Cooke: The auto pact is still there.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, the member for Kitchener.
Mr Laughren: The Canadian content regulation has been totally gutted by the free trade agreement. We all understand that, at least all thoughtful persons in the province. Yet the Premier made a very specific promise that if that was to happen he would veto the free trade agreement. He would not allow the auto industry to be shafted that way by the free trade agreement.
For those reasons my colleague the member for Windsor Riverside, in a very uncharacteristic outburst, called the Premier a liar. He said, “The Premier is lying because he said that if the auto pact was gutted there would be no free trade agreement. He would veto it. He also said that there would be lower insurance rates.”
It would be even more uncharacteristic of me to call the Premier a liar, because I know it is unparliamentary as well, Mr Speaker, and you would very quickly bring me up short, so to speak.
An hon member: Shorter.
Mr Faubert: It is very hard to do that.
Mr Villeneuve: The member should not lose any more.
Mr Laughren: Do members in this chamber always have to rise to the bait? Can they not let these things go by from time to time?
While I am not about to call the Premier a liar, there is no question that he made promises in the last election that he has not kept. There is absolutely no question about that. Whether it is in the delivery of health care, in auto insurance, in hospital beds or in a superfund to clean up toxic wastes, there were very serious promises made, and those promises have not been kept. I would think it is going to cost the government dearly in the days to come. The non-confidence motion is primarily a motion of non-confidence because of taxes. That is how I read the non-confidence motion.
Mrs Cunningham: That’s right. You got it. You can read. Three times the member for Middlesex read it and he didn’t get the message.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, the member for London North.
Mr Laughren: The point is that the government has had massive tax increases but, despite that, does not seem to have delivered the goods. The Progressive Conservative Party has become the spend, spend, spend party in this chamber. Have members noticed that over the last while?
Mrs Cunningham: I didn’t do that.
Mr Laughren: No, not the member for London North; I am talking about her party. They are really against tax increases but at the same time always want more money to be spent.
So I can understand why the Conservative non-confidence motion is worded the way it is, because if we talk to people out there across the province, they will express very much what this non-confidence motion expresses; namely, that there have been huge tax increases in the province and yet we seem to be falling short of delivering programs that people believe they have a right to expect.
As a northern Ontario member and someone who drives back and forth from Sudbury to Toronto quite a bit, I can tell members that there has been no improvement in highways despite five years of this government and despite all its complaining about the condition of highways before it became the government. They have done virtually nothing to turn that around. There have been some very flashy press conferences and statements saying they are going to spend $5 billion in the greater Toronto area on highway improvements. Announcements -- that is what it amounts to.
Mr Faubert: Million.
Mr Laughren: Billion; they have announced they are going to spend $5 billion.
Mr Fleet: They say it over and over again.
Mr Villeneuve: That is exactly what you do, you keep repeating. They are learning.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and the member for High Park-Swansea and all other members, please obey the standing orders.
Mr Laughren: I must say that I very much appreciate the presence in the chamber this afternoon of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. I do wonder, though, if he knows what his opponent is doing as he sits there. The former member, David Warner, is out there knocking on doors as we speak and I can tell members there is going to be another change in the representation from Scarborough-Ellesmere after the next provincial election.
Back to the non-confidence motion -- because the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is not even mentioned in this non-confidence motion, although it would certainly be appropriate if he was -- we did some arithmetic on some of the tax increases that have happened since this government came to power. Between 1985 and 1990, the retail sales tax collected per family has increased by $746. That is a 65% increase in the last five years. The personal income taxes collected per family have increased by $2,119. That is an increase of 85%; a 65% increase on sales taxes and an 85% increase on personal income taxes. During this period of time, the consumer price index has increased by about 25%, so there is no question there has been a massive tax grab by this government, many times the rate of increase of inflation.
Mr Laughren: I assume those members who are interjecting will be on their feet in the next round, as we take turns in speaking on this, in order to express their views.
I will not repeat myself on the whole question of who is paying taxes in this province, but I think the Treasurer should feel guilty about what he has done to low-income people. It is still a fact that people at the minimum wage in Ontario pay substantial provincial income taxes.
Mr D. R. Cooke: Some 600,000 don’t pay any at all.
Mr Laughren: That is correct. Those are people who are truly at the very bottom of the income scale. People at the minimum wage, considerably lower than the poverty level, still pay provincial income taxes to this Treasurer and to this government. At the same time he was collecting money from our poorest citizens, he did not bother taxing any revenue from citizens in this province -- over 1,100 of them -- who earned over $50,000. Some 1,100 well-heeled Ontario citizens, in the latest year available, 1987, who earned over $50,000 a year paid no income taxes to this province because they were able to avoid them through loopholes. At the same time, do you think there are any loopholes for the lowest income earners? Absolutely none. But over 1,100 of our well-heeled citizens paid no income taxes whatsoever. Those are statistics from Statistics Canada; they are not my statistics.
Mr Polsinelli: Tell us what the loopholes are so we can use them.
Mr Laughren: The incomes of the members in this chamber are much too high to fit into that category.
There is no question that, as always, the people at the higher income have tax avoidance schemes that people at the low and middle income levels will never have unless there is a significant new push for real tax reform. This Treasurer has done nothing on tax reform, absolutely nothing. We do not have a different kind of scheme of taxes here now than we had when the Tories were in power.
There is one thing the Treasurer has done for which I will give him credit, and that is the removal of OHIP premiums. I give the Treasurer full credit for that move. That is something I commend the Treasurer for doing, but what he has not done is bother to reform the tax system so that those who still have the high incomes pay their share and those at the bottom level are removed from the burden of paying provincial taxes. We are talking about our poorest citizens, we are talking about people at the minimum wage, and yet we have seen no effort, really, to do anything about that.
It is not because we have not given the Treasurer options. We have laid before the Treasurer lots of options, ways in which the tax system could be changed without driving away investment from the province, without killing incentive; just a package of tax reform that would make the system fairer. And it would be in keeping with Liberal reform. It would be nothing that would be contradictory to the ideals of the Liberal Party, absolutely nothing. Contradictory to the Conservative Party, yes, but not a Liberal Party.
What really came home in spades to me was that last November I moved a resolution worded as follows, “That this House resolves that given the regressive nature of the federal goods and services tax, this Liberal government will under no circumstances participate in a joint federal-provincial sales tax on goods and services.” That was on Tuesday 1 November. As a matter of fact, the government voted against that resolution and said, “No, we can’t wait to piggyback our taxes on top of the federal goods and services tax.”
Mr Fleet: We didn’t say that.
Mr Laughren: That is exactly what they did.
So next 1 January, assuming the sickest joke in Canada, the Senate, allows the goods and services tax to go through, this government is going to be taxing on top of the federal goods and services tax. Just so people understand very well what this government is doing, if something costs $100 and there is a 7% goods and services tax which will come first, that raises the price to $107. This government will then apply the provincial sales tax of 8%, not on the $100 but on the $107. So this government will be living off the avails of the federal goods and services tax because it will be getting 8% of the 7% that the federal government is imposing.
This government is going to realize additional revenues of over $500 million by that fact. Do we wonder why the government is pretending to be opposed to the federal goods and services tax? This government is not opposed to the federal goods and services tax at all.
The members opposite are talking out of both sides of their mouths over there. The government is getting $500 million a year by applying the provincial sales tax on top of the federal goods and services tax, so the Treasurer is laughing all the way to the bank, while he pretends that it is revenue neutral, which is absolute nonsense. He is going to get about $500 million more than he would have got otherwise.
Members cannot deny that. The Treasurer will say that the manufacturers and the retailers are going to pass the savings on through to the consumer. If the Treasurer believes that, have I got a deal for him on some land down in Florida. It is a bit swampy, but I have a deal for him, because no serious-minded person believes that is going to be passed on to the consumer.
The Treasurer knows in his heart of hearts that he is going to get rich -- not personally of course, he does not need it -- on the avails of the federal goods and services tax. Otherwise, the Treasurer could have said, “We are not going to support the federal goods and services tax.” British Columbia is doing that, as I understand it. They are saying, “No, we are not going to be part of this regressive tax grab.” British Columbia said no. They do not believe in putting that tax on top of the other tax. That is a way of saying to the federal government, “We feel strongly in opposition to your goods and services tax.”
But this government is not opposed in principle to the federal goods and services tax. How could a government that raised its goods and services tax from 7% to 8% be opposed to a 7% level by the federal government? This government has a goods and services tax, only it calls it an Ontario retail sales tax. It is the same thing, a different variety of goods. It is just that the base is different.
Mr Fleet: It is not the same.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for High Park-Swansea, please.
Mr Laughren: It is a broader range of goods than the federal goods and services tax. I understand that, but it is the same principle. It is on the retail price of the goods and, in some cases, services. So there is no question what is happening.
Now the federal government is doing it, I understand why the federal government is doing it. That is a very Conservative philosophy. It is not a willy-nilly philosophy by the federal Conservative government. They had a very clear program, a very clear Conservative program. They had deregulation, they had privatization, they had tax reform and they had free trade -- four really, truly Conservative philosophies that the Mulroney government has implemented.
I understand that. I only wish that the Liberal government had a Liberal agenda. It does not have a Liberal agenda. It has done one thing, which I gave the Treasurer credit for a few minutes ago; namely, it has abolished OHIP premiums. I think that is part of a Liberal program, but the government stopped dead in its tracks at that point. Why did it not move on and continue with a package of Liberal reform?
I think most Ontario citizens realize that after the accord between the Liberals and the New Democratic Party ended in 1987, progressive reform ground to a dramatic halt when this government got its majority. There is no question about that. I do not think anybody would seriously argue about that, that there has been an enormous change since the 1987 election when this government got its majority.
I hope after the election that is going to come within the next year or so that will not be the case. I mean, I fantasize about a majority NDP government, but if that is not immediately achievable, then perhaps at least --
Hon R. F. Nixon: As you get older, your fantasies become more important.
Mr Brandt: And more vivid.
Mr Laughren: It sustained me, as a matter of fact. The fact is that at least at all costs we must avoid a majority government by this government in the next election. I hope that people in Ontario will understand that.
I do not want to go on any longer, other than to –
Mr Mackenzie: Keep it up.
Mr Laughren: I have been provoked into continuing a little longer.
I notice that there were some expressions of incredulity when I was talking about this government’s position on the goods and services tax. Perhaps members will recall some of the quotes by the Treasurer on the goods and services tax. His memory is not as good as it used to be either and I want to remind him of some things he said. I will do it in chronological order, so we will see how his mind flips back and forth.
On 8 January of this year, the Treasurer said, “Ontario still does not support the controversial goods and services tax but is willing to collect it from retailers for the federal government.” Willing to collect it. That was on 8 January.
The very next day, 9 January, the Treasurer said, “The Ontario government is willing to help collect some, but not all, of the federal goods and services tax.”
On 27 March, the same Treasurer said: “Ontario will not help the federal government collect its proposed goods and services tax.” He would not do it. That was 27 March.
Then on 4 April the Treasurer said, and this is from Canada’s national newspaper, “The province is willing to assist the federal government by collecting the portion of the GST that will be levied at the point of retail sale where the provincial tax is already imposed,” presumably because that is the only place that you can piggyback on the goods and services tax. That is what I mean by living off the avails of the GST.
So the Treasurer says, “I will only collect the GST where I can make some money off it.” That is what he is saying. “If the provincial tax applies, I’ll help collect the federal GST because I can make money off it then.”
Mr Laughren: That is exactly what the Treasurer is saying. That is exactly what he is saying.
Mr Speaker, how would you interpret this: “The province is willing to assist the federal government by collecting the portion of the GST that would be levied at the point of sale where the provincial tax is already imposed?” He is only willing to do it where he can make some money off it.
There is a man of fiscal conviction. He is only willing to collect a tax where he can make some money off it as well. When he can really stick it to the taxpayer, that is when he will be part of the program. That is what he is saying.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Laughren: I must say that I have almost nothing in common with the Progressive Conservative Party in this province. At the same time, I understand why they have brought forth this non-confidence motion. I do not want to be parochial this afternoon, but I can tell members to come to northern Ontario and tell people that their taxes have increased by this amount and they will say, “Where have they spent it?” Because if you look at the forests, you do not see the improvement in the way our forests are being managed. You do not see improvement in highways in northern Ontario. You do not see the kind of improvements that you think these kind of tax increases would deliver. It is just not there. So I can see why the Conservative Party would bring forth this non-confidence resolution and I have no hesitation, Mr Speaker, in indicating to you -- I know you will keep it in confidence -- that we intend to support this non-confidence motion.
Mr Brandt: I am glad the member for Nickel Belt is going to keep this quiet, because we too want it to be kept quiet that he is supporting our motion and we will not spread the news. If he in fact agrees to keep it under his belt, I will assure him of the same kind of confidence on our side of the House. We will do our best to make sure that confidentiality is maintained.
We have had this discussion in this House on many other occasions, and basically what it comes down to is the method by which the Treasurer of Ontario has decided to tax the people of this province. The rate of increase that we are experiencing with respect to taxation -- and we look, as members of an opposition party, on whether or not there is a concomitant increase in the level and the quality of services that are provided by the government. It is passing strange when we take a look at a budget which has increased by quantum leaps, on an annualized basis of over 10% annually, and this is not even an arguable point any more with the Treasurer of Ontario.
There is no province in this entire country raising taxes as rapidly as the Treasurer of this province. No other province is raising taxes that rapidly. That should give us some message. That should tell us that there is something going on here which either the Liberal government of the day thinks is something to be particularly proud of or, in the case of we as Conservatives, says this government is out of control financially.
When I take a look at the responses of the various ministers daily in question period, it appears that the only kind of credit they want to take is not for improving services, not for making this province a better place to live in, but in fact they stand up proudly time after time, day after day, with statement after statement, saying: “We spent more money. Aren’t you just so very, very delighted with that, Mr Taxpayer?”
Maybe I am talking to different taxpayers from those some of the members in the government are talking to, but many I have talked to are completely and totally fed up with the spending practices of this government. Let me give a couple of examples.
When the government took office in 1985 there was a debt accumulated by previous governments, of which I was a part, in total, through the history of this province, of $30 billion. Through the five years of the most rapid increases in revenues -- I separate that, for those who may be listening or watching today, from taxation; I am talking about built-in revenues, not tax increases -- this government increased the net deficit of the province of Ontario by fully 25%, an additional $10 billion.
At a time when it should have been bringing the net debt down, what it did was to increase the debt. The fact of the matter is that we have to look at realistic spending in terms of what is affordable on the part of the taxpayer.
Let me give an example of what I find particularly offensive. In 1986 they stood before the people of this province and indicated what they were going to do with health services. They said they were inadequate; the miserly former government had not provided adequate beds in this province and they were going to correct all those problems. I will tell them what they did. They promised 4,400 beds. With all these tax increases, how do they not find this totally unconscionable when they look at themselves in the mirror, when they wake up to shave in the morning? I have to tell them that they have reduced the number of hospital beds in Ontario by some 2,000.
Mr D. R. Cooke: We are caring for people at home.
Mr Brandt: You are not looking after people at home. The waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery, the waiting lists for children’s services, the waiting lists for heart surgery are the longest, Mr Speaker, as I address my remarks to you --
The Deputy Speaker: And ignore the interjections, which will not be forthcoming any more during any other member’s speech. The member for Sarnia may continue addressing the Speaker.
Mr Brandt: They are the longest waiting lists there have been in the history of this province.
In fact 4,400 beds was the commitment that was made by the government. They have not fulfilled that promise. Quite obviously, not only have they not fulfilled that commitment but they turned around and cut hospital beds and increased taxes.
I want to dissociate myself from the official opposition, Mr Speaker, as I address my remarks to you, when I indicate that our party remains and will continue to remain adamantly opposed to the employer health levy. The misleading statements with respect to what has happened to that particular tax I find offensive personally and as someone who serves in this Legislative Assembly.
Not only has this tax not been removed as the Treasurer suggests -- the OHIP fees -- but they have simply been transferred in an entirely different way, which gives the gentleman with the longest arms in this entire province the ability to reach into the taxpayer’s pocket for another $500 million to $600 million. He did not say he was going to do that. What he said was, “We’re going to shift the OHIP premiums away from individuals and we’re going to put it on the backs of those corporations which can afford whatever we place on their backs.”
Now, as he watches layoffs occur, he blames it sometimes on free trade and sometimes on the slowdown in the auto sales. He blames it on international competition. He blames it on everything except taking a look at his own books.
Hon R. F. Nixon: He blames it on the federal interest rates.
Mr Brandt: He blames it on the federal government -- a federal government, I have to say, that has had some very, very modest spending increases; approximately one third of the rate of increase that this Treasurer has increased his expenditures. Yet he gets away with it, this Treasurer who back in the mid-1970s indicated that an increase in sales tax was inflationary, that it was going to slow the economy down. An increase in the sales tax, he said, was just absolutely wrong. When he came along with an increase in sales taxes to raise another billion dollars, that was good for the economy.
How they can go through that kind of convoluted economic thinking absolutely defies rational reasoning. They take more and more out of the economy and they think it is a bottomless pit. I will tell them what they should start paying attention to, and that is something called good management, administration of resources, taking a look at ways of delivering programs and policies more efficiently and taking a look at making government provide these programs in an affordable fashion. That is what this government has to start looking at.
What they are doing now is trying for the usual Liberal solution to every problem -- more money. That kind of an approach is what got the federal government under Pierre Elliott Trudeau into the most difficult financial mess this country has ever seen. Whatever happens at the federal level, whatever happens after the next election, if there is not a GST there is going to be something else. There is going to be a freeze in provincial transfer payments. There will be a cutback in programs.
I do not care if one of the apostles led a federal party in the next election; he is going to have to come to grips with the most grinding financial problems this country has ever seen, because of the legacy of debt that was left by a former Prime Minister who paid no attention whatever to the economic realities of the day. We are the second most indebted nation in the world at the moment in terms of international debt. This Treasurer and this government are leading the way with irresponsible spending.
I am glad we have a fresh Speaker in the chair because I am just getting wound up. That fact of the matter is that there has to be some kind of control placed on the spending. I believe the Treasurer to be a reasonably honest man under most circumstances. I say to him by way of appeal that realistic tax increases are not something we would find particularly objectionable on this side of the House. What we find objectionable is when tax increases are running at double the rate of inflation.
That is wrong. That is what my leader’s motion speaks to and what he is bringing to the attention of this government, that it has done two things we find offensive: it has substantially increased taxes and at the same time has performed what is almost the impossible; it has started in a very direct way to reduce service. Increase taxes; reduce services. If that is the legacy this government wants to leave for the people of this province, I say, “Shame on you.”
Mr Adams: What an extraordinary motion from a party that had 42 years to do something with this province. Listening to the former interim leader of that party, it is my view that the people in the third party cannot recognize competent, caring government when they see it.
Mr Speaker, as I know you realize, a good government has to be both caring and competent.
Mr Polsinelli: The Speaker knows it.
Mr Adams: Mr Speaker, I know you do.
If a government is simply caring without being competent, in the long run those in need suffer. If a government is simply competent without being caring, it is a government which is of no interest to someone like myself who was elected to do something for the people of this province.
One of the things I care about tremendously -- as, I believe, does everyone on this side of the House -- is our environment. I care about the environment, but my interest as a member of the government is to do something competently about the concerns that I have.
This extraordinary motion from this party mentions the environment. Do members realize that this party that governed the province of Ontario for 42 years reduced the budget of the Ministry of the Environment in its last year in office? That was only five short years ago. Think of the vision. Think of the forecasting ability. Think of the sensitivity of a government that only five years ago could reduce the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. They missed the phenomenon of our generation. They missed the fact that everyone on the globe had come to realize there is an extraordinary environmental crisis. They missed the fact that the vast majority of people had come to realize that fact and wanted something done about it.
Five years ago the party that is presenting this motion today reduced the budget of the Ministry of the Environment, and today it can stand up with a motion that criticizes this government and mentions the environment in that criticism. They missed even the fact that there was anything wrong with the environment. They reduced the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. They had no desire at that time to do anything about the environment.
Now they attempt to criticize us, a government that in a few short years has shown not only provincial leadership but national leadership, continental leadership and I believe global leadership in the area of the environment. We are talking here not about 42 years in government, decades to do something about it, but a few short years in power.
Let’s take the area of waste management, one of the most important concerns around the province. Who would have thought -- certainly not people in that party -- a few years ago that two million households in the province of Ontario would be using the blue box for recycling a variety of products this year, that the blue box would be diverting 250,000 tons of usable waste from the waste stream into useful functions? Who would have thought five years ago when that government was in power that we would be at a stage where quite soon every school board in the province would have its own school-based recycling program?
In my own riding we began student action for recycling in the fall. We have already in the riding a special program for recycling special plastics, and our schools are moving into a recycling, recycling, recycling program for fine paper so that this paper can be used over and over again in our system.
For recycling alone, this government is doubling the budget. That government over there reduced the budget for the entire Ministry of the Environment in the last year it was in power.
Think, in that area, how the government through the Ministry of Government Services is moving to use its own procurement powers to effect recycling-reuse at the government of Ontario level. That is the area of waste management.
Think, Mr Speaker -- I know it is of great interest to you because your riding is very close to Lake Ontario -- of what this government has done in the area of water. As members earlier today heard, the leader of the official opposition described the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program as a jewel in the crown of the government of Ontario, and that is what it is. The MISA program is the program which will result in zero discharge of toxics into the waters of the province of Ontario. Already we have taken all nine main industrial sectors and we have monitored their discharges; now we begin to control and reduce those discharges of over 200 dangerous chemicals going into our waters.
This year we spent $200 million on cleaning up the Great Lakes alone. The federal government, where that party is in power -- we are spending $200 million; they are spending $11 million. We can see some results, because we can eat more and larger salmon and trout from Lake Ontario, as members know.
Quite briefly, in terms of air, we have banned apartment incinerators. We were one of the first major governments in the world to ban CFCs, which were affecting the ozone layer. We have introduced low-smog, ozone-free summer gasoline. Our Countdown Acid Rain program is reducing acid emissions by 60% within two years, which, by the way, we believe has influenced the United States in that area.
Members will notice that I have not mentioned the Rouge. I have not mentioned the class environmental assessment for forest management on crown lands in Ontario, I have not mentioned Trees Ontario and many other things.
This is an extraordinary motion from any point of view. From the point of view of the Ministry of the Environment and our environmental concerns, it is simply beyond belief.
Mr Charlton: Like my colleague the member for Nickel Belt, I rise to support this non-confidence motion this afternoon and pick up on a couple of comments that have been made by government speakers so far in the debate. I think they very aptly reflect how I feel about the government’s response to the things it promised to the people of Ontario and its failure to explain, even in those areas where it has not proceeded at all, precisely why it has not proceeded.
The member for Middlesex in his comments earlier got up and chastised the member for London North for the fact that in her comments many of the things she mentioned were not specifically set out in this non-confidence motion. The reality is that if either of the opposition parties on this side of the House listed all the things that should be listed in a non-confidence motion against this government, we would have seriously hampered the printing bills of this assembly by the amount of paper that would have been used.
That brings me to some of the points that the member for Peterborough just made in this debate. He made comments that focused almost entirely on the environment, and his comments are the very reason why this government has made a laughing stock of environmental protection and environmental cleanup in the province of Ontario. His comments not only are not correct, but he may have inadvertently misinformed the people of this province.
He suggested, for example, that this government was the first government to ban CFCs, and this government has not banned CFCs. Not only has it not banned CFCs, but it just made an announcement six weeks ago which substantially weakened the regulation that was already in place. They extended the phase 1 term by a year and a half in terms of the phase-down of CFC use and they totally failed to define phase 2 at all. Phase 2 for the elimination -- or the banning, as the member for Peterborough likes to refer to it -- is undefined, untimed and likely will never happen, because what the minister said in his statement was that phase 2 will not be defined until industry comes to the government and tells it it has the alternatives already in place.
An hon member: Don’t be so negative.
Mr Charlton: You have to be negative when you hear statements like that.
Let’s just talk about the environment for a few more minutes. I recall when the member who is presently the Minister of Financial Institutions was the opposition Environment critic and I recall when that gentleman stood in his place in this House, along with myself, and demanded that there be an environmental defence and cleanup fund in the province of Ontario, a fund which this party promised in 1985 and in 1987 in the election campaigns. That member, the Minister of Financial Institutions, demanded that that fund be set up and be allowed to be used by communities like Hamilton to clean up filthy, toxic, leaking landfill sites like the Upper Ottawa Street dump.
That member no longer raises issues like that in this House. This government has not proceeded with its promise to create an environmental defence and cleanup fund, and the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site, a site which received some 30 years of toxic industrial wastes, albeit slow, is leaking those toxics into the water table and those toxics slowly, gradually make their way to Lake Ontario.
The member for Peterborough talked about environmental standards that are cleaning up our waterways. Well, there may be some substances from industrial processes which are reduced, but this government has done nothing to deal with very serious contamination that when it was in opposition was a major issue.
I recall when the man who is now the Premier, the member for London Centre, stood in his place as Leader of the Opposition and promised that the Pauze landfill site would be closed and cleaned up in Tiny township. Once this party became the government, though, Tiny township and the Pauze landfill site continued, as they always had under the former administration, with no action for closing and no action for cleanup, and that landfill site continues to leak.
It does not matter what you want to talk about. It does not matter whether the specific item is listed in this motion of non-confidence, there are specific things that this government promised, things which it has not even made an attempt to implement, and yet it sits there and denies that it has broken a promise.
The people who are the electors in Ontario, the people who elected this government, expect that promises get kept or that the government stands up forthrightly and explains why it made a mistake and why it is unable to implement the promise it made. The people expect as well that everything that gets promised cannot happen the day after the election is over. But most certainly the people expect that you do the things you promise before you call the next election, especially when you have a massive majority like this government has.
This government has obviously no intention of proceeding in a number of areas.
Last weekend I watched the Liberal convention on television. The member for Peterborough in his comments was talking about paper recycling, again another perfect example of how this government has made a laughing stock out of environmental protection. Yes, recycling paper is good, useful and important, but not recycling more paper than what you need to use in the first place, not using paper for the sake of creating recycling programs. Let’s decide how much paper it is really necessary and useful to use and then recycle what we have used.
But I heard commentators out at the Liberal convention -- while I sat and watched the Treasurer’s Cheshire smiles, sitting behind the victorious candidate; in fact, that smile did not change for the entire weekend -- I heard commentators at that convention saying: “This convention is unbelievable. Have you seen the amount of junk on the floor that this convention is using that is unnecessary?” It is a reflection of overexpenditure on campaigns, all the little toys the candidates were playing with, all of which is now garbage and has to be recycled when it never in fact should have been created in the first place because it was an environmental waste.
That is a reflection of this government’s commitment to understanding the environment and understanding what we need to do in this province to clean up the environment and to protect it for the future. The tree that still stands is just as important as the paper we recycle, and the tree that still stands does not stand very long when you use two, three or four times as much paper as you need to use.
As I said at the outset of my comments, I support this motion of non-confidence and I think most of my colleagues will as well.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): If memory serves me correctly, we are on time allocation, so we still have a minute and 30 seconds left for the official opposition.
Hon Mr Nixon: No. That’s just NDP time you’re looking at.
The Acting Speaker: Then is there unanimous agreement that the minute and 30 seconds will be added to the leader of the third party?
The Acting Speaker: Continuing now with the motion of non-confidence under standing order 42(a), the leader of the third party, the member for Nipissing.
The Acting Speaker: I am sorry. The Clerk will sort it all out. You have a minute and a half given by the official opposition, and they will get up on the clock what the third party’s time is.
Mr Harris: Are you finished?
The Acting Speaker: Order. In theory, we should be going in rotation, that is all.
Mr Harris: I appreciate the theory, but since time allocation is my motion, I understood that I would be able to speak last, and I think that is agreed by everybody. I am prepared to go now if I am the last speaker.
Hon R. F. Nixon: And that’s agreed. That’s no problem.
Mr Harris: Yes, but they should have a new speaker.
The Acting Speaker: I am easy to get along with. The member for Halton North.
Mr Elliot: I am pleased to be able to speak today on this important motion. The motion allows us to read into the record the long list of accomplishments of this government.
As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Housing for the past year, I have been most impressed with the dedication and effectiveness of the ministry’s staff as we attempt to meet our objectives as a government.
In the area of affordable rental units mentioned in the motion, significant progress has been made. In my mind, the best way of factually establishing this progress is to comment on the specific allocations now in place. These figures are as of April 1990 and are updated every three months, so they will be updated again at the end of July: Federal-provincial sharing non-profit, 25,759 units; provincial non-profit, 4,004 units; Project 3000, 3,021 units; convert-to-rent units, 9,144; home sharing, 3,198; rent geared to income, 3,760; private sector provincial rental supplement, 4,398; rural and native rental units, federal-provincial sharing, 1,119. The total of these eight programs and others is 58,295. These are all new rental units.
In existing units, 20,056 low-rise units have been rehabilitated by small landlords. Another 12,000 units have been renewed under the Ontario home renewal program. Of particular significance, another 1,699 units have been renewed for occupancy by disabled persons. A relatively small but exciting renewal program has put 220 units in place through the Frontiers Foundation northern region repair program. This totals 33,975 units.
Combined with the new allocations, we have a grand total of 92,270 units. This total excluded the Homes Now project, which is an additional 30,000 units; 28,350 of these units have already been allocated.
If time would permit I would be pleased to read into the record completion figures where they apply. Significant progress is being made on this important aspect of housing, affordable rental units. This is being recognized more and more by citizens of Ontario as exemplified by the press and others. Just yesterday Michele Landsberg wrote a pertinent column regarding home sharing. In her second-last paragraph she said, “In the past year, the provincially funded home-sharing agencies have matched hundreds of people, mostly young singles and seniors who need company.”
As my minister has said on numerous occasions in this chamber, we must meet the challenges of housing in new ways. We must innovate. We are doing this and it is working. In this year’s budget the Housing ministry’s budget increased by 26%. In real dollars that is $136 million.
In conclusion, Ontario helped to build more non-profit housing than any other province in Canada. Ontario is the only province to build housing without assistance from the federal government. Ontario is facing a 15% cut in the federal contribution to those programs that are cost-shared. Ontario’s spending on social housing has increased from $200 million in 1986 to $350 million today, and it is projected to rise to $1 billion annually by 1994.
Over the next three years we will be adding another 100,000 people to the list of persons being helped by government-assisted housing. This will bring the total to 600,000 people being helped by the government of Ontario.
To put this in perspective, these 600,000 people represent a city the approximate size of the entire city of Toronto.
I will be voting against this motion because I think it does not accurately reflect what is happening out there today.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am glad to have a chance to respond to some of the comments made by the honourable members on this no-confidence motion, I was impressed that the leader of the third party, who presented this motion, had come in for a few moments. When I rose to speak he disappeared, so I knew he could not really take the arguments that I was going to present to him. Now that he has seen that I am speaking he has come back in with two very large books in which he thinks he will find the answers to all these arguments.
Actually I was quite impressed when the almost leader, the deputy leader, the honourable member for London North, led off the debate. But she, just like I, experienced the same thing. As soon as she got up to speak everybody left. During the first part of this no-confidence debate members may have noticed that she was all alone, the only Progressive Conservative in the whole House. I wondered what sort of division there was in that house, particularly since the PCs have considered this such an important debate.
I would tell members that during the bad old days when the PCs were the government here and I and my good friends and colleagues were in opposition, those were the days when we had effective no-confidence debates. That was when the arguments would hit home, because the old PC government was so vulnerable that there was no way it could defend itself. It resulted, as the honourable members would know, with the defeat of that government and its replacement by the Liberal administration that is doing so much good in the province at the present time.
A good many of these areas of criticism hit home, because as Treasurer I have recommended tax increases and I have been very glad to see that a large majority in the Legislature have supported those increases. It is sometimes politically difficult to raise taxes, but the honourable members would know that we have improved and increased our programs substantially and are paying our bills as we go along. Some members have heard me refer previously to the fact that last year our budget was balanced for the first time in more than 20 years. This year we have a further balanced budget before us and we are expecting a surplus in the range of $30 million this year. Many of the taxpayers are glad to know that in this budget this year, for the first time since 1948, we have actually reduced the overall debt of the province by $430 million.
The honourable member has pointed out, and it is correct, that the debt increased to $40 billion. When we took office just five short years ago, the deficit that year was $3 billion. We worked hard to reduce it and got it down to $2.6 billion. All those deficits, however, are added to the overall debt. So it took us four years of careful fostering of the economy, carefully adjusting our tax base so that we improved and in fact achieved fairness and equity and at the same time carefully controlling the expenditures of the administration. The people realized that this combination permitted us, and permitted me as Treasurer, to gradually reduce the deficit until now it is at zero and we have the surplus that I previously referred to.
I would be less than fair if I did not also bring to the members’ attention that during this period of time our economy has been growing by an average of about 4.9% a year, just under 5%. While I would be glad to take personal credit for that, I do not even have the nerve to try before my erudite colleagues in the Liberal Party, although I could probably get it past the critics in the two opposition parties. We have been fortunate, there is no doubt about that, in the strength of the economy and it is reflected in the fortunate position that we are presently enjoying.
During that time, we have also taken off the roll of personal income taxpayers 625,000 low-income citizens in the province. Personally, I feel that while this is a program that I support and am very proud of, I am much more proud of the fact that we have created over 400,000 new jobs in the province and that because of this economic development we have the lowest unemployment rates in the whole of Canada. That is surely far better than trying to give out some sort of assistance for those people, unfortunately, whose revenues are not sufficient to support them and their families in an appropriate style. But there has to be a balance, and we have achieved that balance in the way that I have described.
Mr Laughren: What about working people?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable members are aware that we also have programs that are assisting less fortunate people in the community. The budget critic of the NDP said, “What about old people?”
Mr Laughren: I didn’t say that.
Hon R. F. Nixon: If he is going to interject so that I do not understand him, perhaps he should speak up. The only lips I can read are George Bush’s and I do not like what he is saying.
These reductions in the taxes payable by virtue of the sales tax and property tax grants are really a program that costs the taxpayers in general $900 million of assistance. I say again that it is much preferable, from my point of view, to see that our economy is growing at a rate which will provide proper employment for all of our people, particularly our young people who come out of our education system and are looking for opportunities to see that they are able to pay their own way and that they are able to move into areas of family responsibility. In so doing, this budget established quite a substantial increase in our current cost allowance, which is designed to improve opportunities for investment here and to actually create jobs.
Mr Laughren: No evidence of that.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The poor old socialists in the official opposition are always so concerned when public resources are used to encourage world investment in our own community. They feel that somehow or other if the government is not operating all these things, there is something unfair or fraudulent about it. I think most of the people of the province realize that our livelihood and the revenues which we use to build roads and bridges, the tax dollars that are used for education and health care, the resources we use to improve the environment, all come from an economy that is based on the private enterprise concept. This is something the socialists find offensive. You would think they would learn. Would you not think they would stop beating that old straw man around and trying to say that the bogeymen of the community are running away with the tax dollars?
I do not believe that is so at all. We have a balanced tax base. As a matter of fact, the amount of taxes paid by corporations is growing in percentage share of the overall tax base faster than that payable by individuals. So I think it is necessary that rational and reasonable members, particularly those who are in possession of at least some of the facts, would stop saying that is not true and agree with me.
Since there are about four minutes left in the time allotted to me, I just want to say something about a debate like this. It gives us a good opportunity to respond to criticism and perhaps bring forward some other ideas, but it is a chance for me to say this as we approach the end of this session: I think non-confidence motions are worth while. I think the hour of unfettered questions every day is worth while. I believe our rules make every member of this House have a clear opportunity to express his or her views on the issues of the day. But the thing I do regret is that public business has been so hampered and distorted and hindered, particularly by the official opposition, during the last few months.
The members of the Legislature must understand that while the rules safeguard each of us as individuals and our proper right to put forward our views of the issues of the day, they must accept the fact that the government has the responsibility and an equal right to present its program, have it properly debated and disposed of by the members of the Legislature. I am just telling you, Mr Speaker, that the distortion of these rules, particularly by the official opposition, during the last few months has meant that the government program has not adequately been debated in this House, and I regret that very much indeed. There are many initiatives which should have come forward that have been left on the shelf as we listened to hour after hour of repetitious gobbledegook, prepared usually by some flacks hired by the official opposition at public expense. It just seems to be such a non-productive merry-go-round.
I know the official opposition will accept my advice when I suggest to them that they should mend their ways. There are many opportunities day by day to see that opposition views are properly put forward. The honourable member for Hamilton Mountain, in his usual erudite style, has expressed his opinion, and so we may have to go to the electorate to correct this particular anomaly that seems to have interfered with the proper working of the public business in this particular House.
I would say that the resolution put forward by the leader of the third party is doomed to failure. I see that his persuasive powers have not yet been used on the House as a whole, but it may be that even those will not be sufficient to win the day. However, the New Democrats, who are very easily persuaded, have indicated that they will support this non-confidence resolution. There is a feeling on our side that perhaps a few of us should vote for it so that we could perhaps go to the people earlier than some time in the next two years and settle some of these matters, because there are many issues, if we are going to continue conducting the public business, where a consultation with the taxpayers and the people of the province becomes more and more desirable.
I do not know what is in the mind of the head of the government, but members know that he has indicated clearly that while we have accomplished great things, and some of them have been acknowledged by the official opposition, such as the abolition of medicare premiums -- I appreciate that the member for Nickel Belt has this magnanimity of spirit that once every five years allows him to say something like that -- but we look forward to this.
I am delighted now to resume my seat and hear what the author of the resolution might like to say.
Mr Harris: I was astounded that the Treasurer talked about the rules of this House when it was his government, with all its seats, which blocked the 12 hours that the two opposition parties were entitled to have this session to investigate the problems we wanted to look at. They stifled them and blocked them.
There is no denying that public cynicism about politicians, politics and the political process is currently at a very high level. This cynicism is a fact which cannot be a great source of comfort or pride to any member of this assembly, even the member for York Mills, who cannot keep his yap shut.
No doubt there are any number of complex reasons why the public has become so disillusioned with politics and the political process. While I will leave the job of sorting them out to the sociologists and the political scientists, I submit that the motion before us today highlights one of the causes of public disenchantment at least here in Ontario.
The motion addresses the record of the provincial Liberal government in Ontario, and any citizen reviewing that record would be forced, I believe, to draw two conclusions: first, that the Peterson Liberal government is an institution that he can no longer trust; second, that the Peterson Liberal government is an institution that the he can no longer afford.
With regard to the issue of trust, I think it is fair to say we have reached the point where we will have to organize a search party to find this government’s credibility. It has vanished into that twilight zone which separates the rhetoric of Liberal promises from the reality of Liberal performance, which separates the glowing public relations of the quick headline from the dismal public policy record of incompetence and complacency.
Also lost are any number of promises and commitments which this government made, one hopes in good faith, to the people of Ontario. I am assuming that they were made in good faith and with intentions that transcended a simple desire to buy votes. I trust this was the case and I can therefore conclude that their failure to deliver on so many promises and commitments has been caused by ineptitude. I am willing to grant that they are simply incompetent and not duplicitous.
The motion itself mentions a number of these forgotten or discarded commitments and promises. There are a large number of others which have been discussed in the course of this debate and which have been raised at other times in this assembly. I do not want to review them in detail. I am sure the government members are familiar with a laundry list of lost Liberal pledges and I can assure them that they will be hearing more about them over the coming months.
I am sure they do appreciate, however, the corrosive effect that their failure to deliver on these commitments has on public confidence in government institutions. I know they realize that when the public and the workers who trust him in particular see the Premier take a dive on his promise to block the free trade deal, they are justified in thinking that the people opposite will say anything as long as it nets a vote.
People who believed the Premier when he said he had a very specific plan to lower insurance rates are justifiably disappointed when it turns out that after two tries he came up with a plan to increase rates. The only thing that was reduced was taxes and compensation payments by insurance companies and the level of benefits to innocent victims.
I know even Liberals cannot be so clued out as to think that when they say they will not complete a nuclear power plant or they have no intention of changing Sunday shopping laws and then turn around and do the exact opposite, that does not put some strain on their own credibility.
No one who has watched the parade of cabinet resignations for reason of conflict or bad judgement or who watched this government hide behind the robes of the Supreme Court rather than face up to questions about government responsibility in the Starr affair can be expected to accept the Premier’s prattle about open government, about the need to get all the facts, about competent administration as being anything other than self-serving eyewash.
No one held a gun to the Premier’s head and forced him to promise to block the free trade deal or to say that he had a specific plan to lower insurance rates, that they would build a high school of science and technology in northern Ontario, that they would increase the province’s share of the education cost to 60% or that they would build more affordable housing units.
No one was bullying the Premier into making these commitments on behalf of his party and his government, so the big question is, assuming they were made in good faith, why have they not been delivered? Why did the Premier write cheques with his mouth on the campaign trail that he has not cashed while in government? I will let the members opposite mount their own defence, but I would note that it was certainly not a lack of money.
As indicated in the motion, our friend the Treasurer is a man who has never met a tax he did not like or try to hike. In point of fact, I believe he has hiked them all by now and some of them more than once. I know that a lot of people in this province and this country are upset with the tax policies of the federal government, but I have to say that Mr Wilson is in the taxation minor leagues in comparison to our very own Bob “Tax the Ripper” Nixon.
For example, Mr Speaker, you will be excited to learn that in the current fiscal year the federal government will collect 69.5% more in tax revenues than it did in 1984-85, most of it to repay the debt. An impressive number, but mere chicken feed compared to the 132.4% increase in tax revenues engineered over that same period of time by the old “Tax the Dragon” from St George.
Further, Mr Speaker, you will be fascinated to be advised that since 1984-85 the per capita tax burden across Canada has increased by 63%. No wonder people are upset. I understand that. But in Ontario the per capita tax burden has increased by 112% at a time when our own personal income has increased by only 50%. Whatever the reason for the Liberal government’s failure to deliver on its commitments, it certainly has not been because of a shortage of cash.
Having watched this government for five years now, I am beginning to see that its tendency to make promises it does not keep, its practice of constantly increasing taxes, has a common foundation in its flawed concept of leadership. The Premier, I suggest, is willing to stand for anything he thinks people will fall for. To do this, he keeps his ear close to the ground, so close that he seldom takes the time to look up and see where the province is headed or to see where it will end up in the long term as a result of its policies.
Regardless of the substance of an issue, the government resorts to an ad hoc response that is designed to provide symptomatic relief. This might serve to reduce political irritation in the near term, but it leaves the underlying causes of the problem unaddressed and in the longer run can have unattended consequences which actually make the implementation of a lasting solution that much more difficult. This approach gives us a government fixated on the short term and dedicated to avoiding tough decisions.
By way of example, we have seen this government refuse to make the hard choices necessary to live within a responsible fiscal framework. Instead, it has constantly expanded its revenues, and rather than have to say no to any program, to any policy or to any group, it could continue to pretend that it is all things to all people.
Someone once defined leadership as the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. We have not seen that type of leadership from this government, which thinks more about its partisan interests in the next election than it does about the real interests of the next generation.
We have seen the direct opposite. We have a government which responds only when something becomes an emergency. For example, the government levied a tire tax to support recycling, but it did not make even a modest effort to ensure that the funds collected under that levy were dedicated to the appropriate programs until millions of tires went up in smoke in Hagersville.
Similarly, the government has been told time and time again in this House that there is a serious problem with hospital funding. They quite happily ignore it until we have a crisis situation with a major hospital a few blocks from the Legislature. We are still waiting for a long-term strategy to guarantee that the people of this province will have future access to quality, effective health care.
Even in the case where the government does appear to have some type of long-term plan, for example, a major capital program it announced and promised to expand the number of beds -- that was before the last election -- after the election it abandoned that plan and we had a net reduction in beds.
That is not the type of leadership which gives either this House or the people of this province any confidence in the ability of this government to meet the challenges of the 1990s. There is no reason to have confidence in a government which, in spite of billions of dollars of new taxes, has broken faith on so many fronts with the people who put it into office. There is no reason to have confidence in a government in which so many ministers have demonstrated judgement of such questionable quality that they have had to resign their portfolios. There is no reason to have confidence in a government which is overseeing the deterioration of Ontario’s health care system and which has turned its back on the government’s commitment to education.
Given its record, this government does not deserve that confidence of the people. It does not deserve that confidence of the members of this Legislature. I encourage all members to vote accordingly, not to the rhetoric, not to the headlines, not to the press releases, but to vote according to the record, the promises not kept, the tax increases imposed on this province out of sync with every other province, with virtually every other jurisdiction in the world, which are contributing to our lack of competitiveness and to our future deterioration throughout the 1990s. I encourage even those opposite to join us in this vote of non-confidence.
The House divided on Mr Harris’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes -- 22
Allen, Brandt, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cunningham, Grier, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pollock, Sterling, Villeneuve.
Nays -- 52
Ballinger, Beer, Black, Bossy, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Cleary, Collins, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fleet, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Haggerty, Hart, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kozyra, LeBourdais, Leone, Lupusella; Mahoney, Miller, Morin, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Polsinelli, Poole, Reycraft, Riddell, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, South, Stoner, Sweeney, Tatham.
Mr R. F. Nixon moved resolution 33:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing 1 July 1990, and ending 31 October 1990, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Mr Speaker, I am glad to move this routine vote. You may see that it is a resolution. You will see that it is for four months rather than three, for reasons that I cannot recall right now other than if we did it right at the end of September, we might be rushed. The amount that is dealt with here is approximately $13 billion.
The honourable members know that this continues the government’s payments on a wide variety of important programs. Naturally I would be delighted to hear their views on these matters.
Mr Laughren: I was not really intending to speak in this debate, but I think I will anyway. I must say that the Treasurer, when he commented that we were voting on supply for four months rather than three, did not indicate to the House that this was with the agreement of the other two parties as well. There is a tradition that we have supply for three months at a time, not four. We agreed to have a four-month supply motion.
The reason I mention that is that the Treasurer just accepts the fact that this is what the opposition should do; that is, go along with the request for four months. We have no objections to that. But I found it passing strange that when he wound up his debate on the non-confidence motion, he engaged in an uncharacteristically petulant display about the role of the opposition in protecting its rights in this chamber, particularly with a large majority government.
I do not know how the Treasurer thinks that the opposition is supposed to deal with a large majority if it is not utilizing the rules that are put in there, with the agreement by his party that it goes some way to protecting the rights of the minority parties in this Parliament. For the Treasurer to stand in his place and say that the opposition did not allow the government to proceed with its agenda is total and absolute nonsense.
Here in the last two weeks of this session, where the government has the right to sit every evening, we are sitting one evening only, and only then because of the arrogance and insensitivity of the Premier earlier this week when he walked out of a debate on Meech Lake. That is the reason, the only reason, we are sitting even one night. So for the Treasurer to get up and whine that the opposition stymied the agenda of the government is absolutely ridiculous. This government barely had an agenda, and for the Treasurer to engage in that rather petulant talk really is unbecoming and uncharacteristic of him, and I was somewhat taken aback by it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think it is quite characteristic.
Mr Laughren: There are others in this chamber who would say it is not uncharacteristic of him.
We will support this motion of supply because we understand that the bills need to be paid regardless of what goes on in the province, regardless of how foolish we think some of the programs of this government are.
If there is one thing that the people of Ontario are going to be reminded of a lot in the next few months, it is the number of promises this government made and the number of those promises that it subsequently broke. The leader of the Progressive Conservative Party spoke of that, I thought, quite eloquently in his windup on the non-confidence motion.
We know, for example, that this government promised employment equity. It ain’t there. There is no employment equity, despite a very clear and firm promise that the government would bring it in.
The government promised that there would be lower auto insurance rates. We all remember the Premier’s statement: “I have a specific plan to lower auto insurance rates.” Auto insurance rates have gone up since he made that promise, a distinctly broken promise.
We remember the promises of the government on education to reduce class sizes, to amend Bill 82 for special education, the promise that the province would pick up 60% of the cost of the funding of education at the local level. They have broken that promise as well.
We remember the Premier’s statement that he would not agree to the free trade agreement. He would veto the free trade agreement if it gutted the auto pact. We have seen what is happening now in southwestern Ontario, and Windsor in particular. The auto pact has been gutted by the free trade agreement because of the Canadian content requirements.
Mr Ballinger: That is from your Tory buddies.
Mr Laughren: It is the fault of the federal government that we have free trade, but it is the fault of this government that it made a promise that it could stop the free trade agreement if it gutted the auto pact. It gutted the auto pact, and they broke their promise again. There is no question about that.
This government is going to become famous for the way it says it is opposed to the federal government and then caves in when that government proceeds with its policies. This afternoon we went through the debate on taxation and how this government said it was opposed to the goods and services tax and then immediately proceeds to put its tax on top of the GST. Talk about sticking it to the long-suffering taxpayers; no one has done it better than this government. We hear them say they are opposed to the GST and, at the same time, they are imposing the provincial retail sales tax on top of the federal GST, which they say they are opposed to. Well, nobody believes them.
They had the chance to vote in support of a resolution from this caucus in this chamber last fall which stated that this government would not support or collect the federal goods and services tax. To a person, the Liberal caucus voted against that resolution because it wanted to have its cake and eat it too. They wanted to be able to say they were opposed to the goods and services tax and at the same time impose the retail sales tax on top of it, thereby living off the avails of something to which they said they were opposed. It is becoming an all too common refrain in the province of Ontario.
We know that when the Treasurer spoke this afternoon he said that because of the way the opposition had exercised its rights in this chamber in the last few months maybe it was time to go to the people. I cannot recall who it was, but someone from this side interjected that the real reason the government wanted to go to the polls two years before it had to -- it is a five-year mandate, I remind the members, and the government is all cranked up to go after only three years -- was that it must be afraid of the future. They must be afraid of what is going to happen in the next year or two or they would not be cranking up to go to the polls now.
They do not care about the cost to the electorate of an election this year that could be put off for another year. That does not seem to be of any concern at all to them. They have read the polls. They have decided that now is the time to go and they say, “If the opposition objects, we will just accuse them of being fearful of going to the polls.”
The opposition knows that we are going to go to the polls. We are quite prepared to take on this government. It is up to us to get the message out there to the electorate that this government has broken almost every single significant promise that it has made, that it has been just one broken promise after another. The members should not think the electorate will not be reminded of that, as though it needs to be, but it will be reminded time and time again of those broken promises.
I did not even talk about the promise for beer and wine in the grocery store and the shambles around the Sunday shopping legislation. It is still a shambles and yet this government would like to give the impression to the people of Ontario that it is capable of running a competent administration. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
For a government with a huge majority to blame the opposition for it not being able to get its legislative agenda through is a laugh. I really did not believe my ears and eyes when I saw the Treasurer stand in his place earlier this afternoon, just a half an hour ago, and whine that the opposition was preventing this government from carrying out its legislative agenda. What a ridiculous statement for the Treasurer to make. For heaven’s sake, the government has had three years and it is not the opposition that is stopping it; it is the lack of political will and commitment to those promises it made.
I can just imagine what the electorate will think in the next election as the Premier trips across the province wrapped in his Canadian flag making all sorts of promises. There will be jeering and laughter at every single promise he makes, because who is to believe him? Who is to believe he is going to keep those promises?
I do not remember a member of this assembly calling the Premier a liar before. I never remember that happening. Perhaps it has. But we had in this assembly last week a member of this caucus deliberately call the Premier a liar because he felt he had to.
Mr Philip: He called the Premier a liar because the Premier was lying.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, will you withdraw?
Mr Philip: Withdraw.
Mr Laughren: The one aspect of the government program that bothers me the most at this point in time, aside from all those broken promises, is the way it has failed to address the structural problems in the Ontario economy. We know there is a shift going on from manufacturing jobs to service jobs. We know how much less those service jobs pay. We know that will be a collective reduction in the standard of living as that trend continues. We know that. That is statistically evident and the proof is clearly there.
We know the average weekly pay in manufacturing is almost $560 a week and in service industries it is about $300 a week, so there is an enormous difference. I hope the Treasurer will go back and read the Premier’s Council report because the Premier’s Council report said that the route Ontario should go is not towards a low-wage policy, but towards a high-wage manufacturing policy. I give the Premier’s Council credit for realizing that if you simply sell yourself to the lowest bidder, through the service industry, then we are not going to go anywhere. We simply have to continue to have Ontario as a manufacturing, wealth-producing province. That is terribly important for the benefit, not just of Ontario but of the rest of the country as well.
I do not think it is a selfish position to take that Ontario should continue to be a high-wage, wealth-producing, manufacturing province. I think the entire country benefits when Ontario prospers and certainly the people of Ontario prosper. I think we have a right to expect that from the stewardship of whoever governs the province of Ontario. I worry very much about the trend that is going on and the failure of this government to put in place any adjustment policies to make sure we at least have an economic agenda, an industrial agenda for Ontario.
I would ask the Treasurer to compare -- the time is not here now to do it, but I would ask the Treasurer at some point to look at what the Quebec government has done with its pools of capital compared to the way Ontario has behaved. Quebec actually has a goal and a strategy for the huge pools of capital that are there. Ontario has none, absolutely none. I think it is a responsibility of government to correct that absence of policy.
We shall support the supply motion because we do want the wages of our civil servants and other bills to be paid in the province, but I can tell members we are supporting it, not be-cause we have much confidence in the policies of this government but simply that we know the bills must be paid.
Mr Cousens: There is no great pleasure in being a politician in Ontario these days. I certainly have a sense of great frustration at what is going on and the way the government is being run, the things that are being said by government members and just the whole process and the way it is deteriorating. I sense an increasing sense of frustration by my constituents with what is going on at all levels of government. It is difficult to defend the whole process as it is now happening.
There is the secrecy that goes on within the Premier’s office when he goes to Meech Lake meetings and the way in which he comes back and makes his report. There is an arrogance about the government, a spendthrift spirit. This government has in five years increased taxes some 33 times. We have seen the revenue of the province increase by 130% over five years. We have seen the spending go from $25 billion in that period of time to $44 billion.
We are looking at a government that is better at breaking promises than it is at keeping its promises. When it promises 4,000 beds for hospitals, for the sick, we do not get it. When it promises 102,000 rental units, we do not get it. When it promises lower insurance rates, we get this limited no-fault insurance.
It is time for the people of Ontario to revisit what this government is all about. Having seen it in operation for the last five years, I have to say that I am indeed tremendously disappointed.
A lot of little specific things come through. I think today was another example, when I asked the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons what has happened since we asked the question last week with regard to the visually impaired, and the impact it is having on people who are visually impaired using the Toronto Transit Commission, and how the Cass report on the TTC’s safety came through and said there should be a program implemented immediately to install a clearly defined yellow safety strip in each station across the system. The answer I received from that minister was totally unacceptable.
I apologize to you at this time, Mr Speaker, for my overreaction with the minister’s response, but I was offended at the failure of the minister to really deal with the issue, to get something to happen and in co-operation with the Minister of Transportation to make it happen.
The fact of the matter is we have an issue on which the Toronto Transit Commission has informed the government of Ontario that it is not able to go ahead and install the safety strips until they get some financial help from the province of Ontario. If they had an advocate from the minister responsible for disabled persons, we might begin to see some action on this.
The fact of the matter is we have had more than one accident. Certainly the death of this person is an indication of a failure of our whole system to respond quickly, immediately and responsively to a need that is serious. There is that kind of decision-making, wrapped up in a bureaucracy that has become ever larger, that has increased by close to 10,000 people in five years’ time, and yet they are not able to be more responsive to the needs of the people of Ontario.
The number of times I have written the Minister of Transportation, the number of names on petitions from people in Union Villa and Unionville asking for a stoplight in Unionville so that we have some safety for people crossing the road at that busy intersection -- no action taken. These kinds of things seem small and trivial compared to the billions of dollars we are going to be spending this year, but they deal with people, and they deal with people who are genuinely concerned about the safety of themselves and their community.
We are talking about a government whose arrogance has separated itself from the needs of those people. I have to feel a tremendous sense of disappointment and frustration that this government has not acted more responsibly in dealing with these issues. I end up getting doubletalk, and doubletalk seems to be a specialty of politicians. It is little wonder that people are increasing their sense of doubt about what politicians do in this province.
We are dealing with an economy that is suffering right now. There are many, many people losing their jobs. I hope the economy does not slide any more. I hope there are things we can do at the federal level to somehow reduce the interest rates, that there can be some leadership given at every level of government to show that we want the economy to be strong.
I have to say that at this level of government, they opposed free trade when it was implemented. Now that it has been implemented, we need to have some help from the government in some of those areas that are suffering from the transition to free trade. We are seeing nothing, not a thing from this government to help in that transition. There is a problem with free trade. I am worried about it because I am seeing companies that are pulling up stakes and moving out of my riding and out of and re-establishing elsewhere, and that is a concern. Government should be involved at this point to help with readjustment for those companies that are facing financial troubles. I believe every level of government should be held accountable for it.
We are dealing with the interest rates. We are dealing with the GST. We are dealing with worries about what the government is doing or going to do. Somehow there seems to be a disregard for what the common person is trying to do. I am seeing it happen with the stagnant housing sales. I am seeing it with the people who are coming to my office looking for a job. What does government do? We just keep plowing ahead as if nothing is happening out there. I think we should be genuinely concerned, and if we do not begin to react more in a concerned and responsible way, the kind of revolution that exists now in eastern Europe could well take place in Ontario and in Canada.
I think things have changed for ever since Meech was not approved, but let there be an open and public debate so that we can work things through. Let’s understand who we are in Ontario. Let’s protect our rights. Let’s develop a culture that represents the needs of the whole cross-section of our society.
When Nelson Mandela was in our town last week he had a message for all mankind. But what are we doing to follow through on that in showing respect to one another and showing that respect not only to the multicultural needs, but dealing deeply and truly with the financial needs of our community and dealing with the need to respect our law and order and our police? Our society is held together by loose bonds. Our country can be held together by those bonds if we believe in ourselves and believe in our future, and if we as leaders in government do something more than just blindly go on as if it does not matter.
I have a sense of worry that we have been getting only words from the Minister of the Environment, with the lack of decisions on land use planning, so that we can really understand how we are going to take advantage of land and protect agricultural land, how we can put together a policy that is truly environmentally friendly and know that we really have a sense for the future for mankind and womankind, and that we have that implicit in any kind of housing policy this government has. If only we could have some sense that this government was giving leadership on environmental issues, which it is not.
I am challenged by the failure of this government to come to terms with transportation issues, which I am seeing as the chairman of the Ontario Progressive Conservative task force on transportation. We have come forward with a number of recommendations and we have many more to bring.
We are dealing with a government that really does not want to listen. It does not seem to care. I had a presentation this morning from the Ontario Motor Coach Association which points out that the government is in competition with the private sector with the things it is doing with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, that the way municipal transit is being handled across the province and under this jurisdiction is not encouraging free enterprise.
I am dealing with the very simple things within a community when you are talking about cutbacks of spending on important social services. I had a letter today from the Markham Neighbourhood Support Centre. They are concerned about the cutbacks that are coming out of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, where approval for a proposal for two-parent and child care resource centres in the town of Markham is in severe jeopardy. A committee of Markham residents and parents who have been striving to open these centres since the fall of 1989 is now seeing that as another possible failure that it is going to face.
It is a government that should establish priorities that put people first and put the people in a position where they can begin to help themselves, so that we are not just getting the words and the promises that have all been broken, but so that we have a government that is committed to making this truly a better place to live.
I stand in my place today proudly representing the riding of Markham. I believe the people of our riding are anxious about the future and would like to have some sense of comfort that the people down here in the seat of the Premier and in his cabinet are really taking their concerns seriously. Their concerns have to do with interest rates, money, government spending, taxes, quality of life in their community and the whole range of things around the environment, which is beginning to be a major concern for the future.
When you realize the number of trees we cut down and do not replace, when you see the kind of pollution we continue to generate, when you start to realize there is a breakdown in our whole civil culture, we as legislators and leaders should break down the party lines and put first the needs of our whole community and the needs of Canada, so that we as legislators can somehow draw together the best of our province. I realize there are going to be party differences. I like some of them. I hate them when they come along and you end up having a big set of barriers, where you have the cabinet coming out with surprise decisions that have not really been part and parcel of what this government was supposed to do, what it promised to do and what it should do.
Sure, we will support the motion for government money, but let’s just hope they begin to wake up and understand that the people of Ontario are crying out there and cannot afford to continue to pay all the taxes this government is so good at levying.
Mr Philip: I want to use this time to speak briefly about a couple of issues. I have brought to the Treasurer’s attention what I consider to be a discriminatory tax against residents of the greater Metro Toronto area with his Metro Toronto area corporate concentration tax. I have pointed out the effect that is having on the property owner and indeed on businesses in Metropolitan Toronto.
On Monday I pointed out that the taxpayers of Metro Toronto are similarly being discriminated against by the Ministry of Education, and I asked you, Mr Speaker, if you could tell me what percentage of the operating costs of education in Etobicoke was funded by the provincial government in 1975.
The answer of course was 33.2%. I further asked you what percentage of the operating costs of education in Etobicoke was funded by the present Liberal government in 1990, and of course the answer is 0%.
I want to deal, though, with the property tax credit plan, because that is another area in which we can see the discrimination by this Treasurer, by this Liberal government against the residents of Metropolitan Toronto. The property tax credit plan was established in July 1980 with a maximum tax credit of $500, but in the budget of April 1987 the maximum was increased to $600.
The consumer price index of Metropolitan Toronto for 1987 was 139.5. The comparable index in April 1989 was 161.7, which represents an increase of 15.9%.
Another index which also reflects the reduced funding of education by the provincial government would be the mill rate. The Etobicoke education residential mill rate for 1990 is 204.73 mills. The comparable 1987 rate was 155.42, which represents an increase of 31.7%.
If we assume that the amount of the tax credit as of April 1987 -- in other words, the $600 -- is appropriate, then the amount of the tax credit should be increased, if we use the base of the CPI, $600 times 1.159, which would come out to $695, or if we base it on the mill rate, we would multiply $600 by 1.317 and come out to $790.
The tax credit is a flat amount regardless of the level of property taxation. According to the information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, we see that the average residential taxation per household in the municipal and education area in 1987 was $1,344. According to the Municipal Affairs data, the average residential taxes by region are as follows: Metropolitan Toronto, $1,582; the regions, $1,479; the county cities, $1,166; the district cities, $1,072; the counties, $915; and the districts, $761.
What we see is that the property tax credit represents a rebate of up to 78.9% in the case of the districts, but that compares to 37.9% in the case of Metropolitan Toronto.
This government fails to understand that while Toronto is a first-class city, it is being discriminated against by this government, by being a first-class tax city. The Treasurer sees this as a rich milk cow somehow, that he can milk the taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto for everything that is possible.
He fails to realize that in areas like mine there are senior citizens, there are ordinary working people who are being taxed to death by this government that is discriminating both in business taxes and in transfer taxes, and indeed indirectly, by raising property taxes, against those who happen to live in this great first-class city that he chooses to drive his car in, of course using a licence plate that costs considerably less than it does for the residents of this great first-class city that he visits daily.
I would like to deal with another area which the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, that great minister who did such a great job of policing the corporations when he was Minister of Labour, is in charge of.
What we have seen recently is a series of bankruptcies and problems in the real estate industry, and that is affecting both the home buyers and indeed the people who are operating as salespersons in that industry.
In 1981 the Ontario Real Estate Association established the recovery fund for the benefit of membership in the situations where a firm member becomes bankrupt or insolvent and is legally unable to meet commission obligations or if the broker absconds with the funds.
What we have seen is that this fund is grossly inadequate. I would like to go through the various articles in it, but basically, if you look at what it does, it provides for a maximum amount of compensation of $10,000 with respect to a single real estate transaction, and in the case of a broker member or sales person, 50% of the total amount payable to the firm member employing such person on any single real estate transaction, less any amounts owed by the broker member or salesperson.
What it fails to deal with is that brokerage firms are now operating in a completely different manner than what may have been contemplated at the time in 1981 in which the fund was set up. So we have situations in which salespersons and real estate brokers in fact do not simply accept a certain percentage of the sales commission. If that were the case, then perhaps the $10,000 rebate in the case of bankruptcy would be adequate. But many in fact operate on a business of obtaining 90% of the commission in exchange for paying a very high monthly fee for advertising, for rental space and so forth.
What we have is a situation in my own riding where a number of salespeople and brokers are losing thousands and thousands of dollars as the result of country-wide realty experts having financial problems. We find that even their advance commissions, that is, commissions on properties which are closing in the future, are not obtainable to them, but instead they have to accept the bare minimum amount.
It is not as though real estate agents are fat cats in this industry. Many of the people who sell real estate in my riding are people who may have been doctors or lawyers or teachers in other countries, they come to this country, many of them find that it takes a number of years until they can get certified in their profession, and so they work as real estate people, often working in other jobs to supplement their income at night for very small wages. It is not uncommon for many of these people, I am told, even in a good market, to make one sale per month, so they are hardly in a high-income bracket.
What we have is no protection under the Employment Standards Act for these people. When the real estate salespeople go and say, “Half of my year’s salary has disappeared on me,” the Employment Standards Act says that they have a maximum amount which may be awarded to an employee of $4,000 and that they should go and apply under the other act. They can go to court, but what does that do if the well is dry?
We also have the problem that there are no compensation funds in terms of the consumer, other than the Ontario home warranty program for the new home purchasers, for consumers, therefore, who have suffered financial loss as a result of the vendor’s bankruptcy. Under section 2 of regulation 891 of the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, a broker is required to post a $5,000 bond with his or her application for registration. In the event of bankruptcy, the registrar of real estate and business brokers may declare the bond to be forfeited. If the bond is forfeited, the purchaser may be entitled to make a claim with respect to the $5,000, but in many cases this sum of money would do little to offset the purchaser’s losses.
What I am saying is that with the increasing number of bankruptcies as interest rates rise, as the real estate business is suffering a downturn, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations should be looking at those people who have been involved in the selling of real estate, at the tremendous losses that some of them are personally taking, and look at ways in which they can be compensated like other employees for loss of wages for their employment. They should be looking at the consumer for the losses that the consumer can take as a result of purchasing a home through a real estate firm that has gone into receivership.
Mr Jackson: I am pleased to rise and offer a few comments to the Treasurer, who so graciously invited comment today on his interim supply bill.
At the outset I would like to comment on the uniqueness of this four-month time frame. I think it is appropriate, given all of the discussion about an election coming, that the Premier and his Treasurer need sufficient moneys that they can get themselves through an election. Regardless of what the polls tell them or regardless of what advice they are listening to in this House, we obviously know that there will be an orgy of promises at a number of barbecues all across Ontario in the coming months and weeks.
Mr Neumann: How do you know that?
Mr Jackson: We know that -- the member for Brantford asks -- because we have seen this Premier campaign several times. The honourable Treasurer did not resort to these kinds of tactics. I remember in the 1970s his campaigning style was straight up, forward, factual and to the point. He was quite a campaigner to admire -- not to vote for, but he was a great campaigner to admire. However, the fortunes of the Liberal Party changed with the fortunes of the campaign style, which has its penchant for hamburgers and promises.
The fact is that in the last election the Treasurer had given the green light, we imagine, to the Minister of Health then to engage in promises to hospitals all across this province, and certainly the great community of Burlington and the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital did not escape some of this election promising and the benefits of the barbecue circuit for the Premier, because, as we know, Joseph Brant hospital was promised 180 beds. But when the election passed and the last hamburger was eaten and the Premier emerged in this House with his huge, unprecedented 95-seat majority, we started to have the Treasurer and the Minister of Health re-examine those promises.
So it is very much a relative question the member for Brantford has raised, because that is in fact the style of this government and that is what we can look forward to in this next four-month period with the moneys that the Treasurer is asking us for tonight.
I want to bring in clearer detail to the Treasurer the concerns that have been expressed in the community of Burlington. It would be most unfair if I were simply to highlight those matters that are of need as I see them as a member of the opposition. The truth is that out of this interim supply will come moneys to assist the expansion of GO Transit. For that I say thank you to the government. It is appreciated; it is essential; it is overdue.
I am paying the Treasurer a compliment. He should wake up.
Hon Mr Nixon: What’s overdue?
Mr Neumann: The extension of GO Transit to Brantford.
Mr Jackson: No, Burlington, and onwards to Hamilton.
It would be fair for me to say, for example, that Halton has benefited from the building of a couple of additional schools, albeit not what their capital needs require, not what in the educators’ opinion they need, but it is fair to say that the government has allocated funding for additional schools.
But it is equally fair for those of us on all sides of the House to clearly present before the government those concerns and their importance within our communities.
Quite frankly, nowhere is there greater importance attached in the community of Burlington than on the issue of our health and our wellbeing. As a city, there is growing concern that we do not want another episode like the one we received three years ago, promising us 180 beds, which we clearly need and for which we have demonstrated the need, on bended knee, only to find them taken away, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a consultant’s report while the Minister of Health sends back proposal after proposal after proposal, frustrating the hospital but, more significantly, really compromising the health care needs of the community of Burlington.
So when the government receives this interim supply, armed with all its promises for the election which everybody anticipates is coming, we will not tolerate another cynical election promise at a barbecue that Burlington is going to get those beds unless we actually get the beds.
The reason that is important is because the citizens of Burlington have finally realized just how badly the health care services have been stretched in the community of Burlington, I have raised in this House several cases of constituents in Burlington who could not get into Joseph Brant hospital: the case of Joan Thole, who died in the United States because she could not get back into Canada into her hospital bed some 60 miles away; more recently, Phyllis Abbs, a similar situation. They were able to rush her across the American border. She had to go to Woodstock because we could not get her into Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. There is case after case after case, situations of three-, four-, five-hour waits in the emergency department of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.
Because of the transfer payments that the ministry is making to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, we have an unprecedented number of beds being closed again this summer. In 1986 it was 10 weeks that we shut down 30 beds at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital --
Mr Neumann: It is called local decision-making.
Mr Jackson: -- and now we are up to 11 weeks and 44 beds being closed.
The member for Brantford says that is a local decision and he knows that is not true. He knows that the hospital cannot operate beyond the revenues that the province allocates to it, that there is no reconciliation of the needs of that hospital, only the bottom line as established by the minister. The member for Brantford knows full well that this Liberal government threatened to remove hospital administrators, most notably in Cambridge, who said, “I’m going to put the health care needs of our community ahead of this government’s penchant for allowing its own deficits to run but not allowing hospitals to operate a deficit in genuine response to the needs of those communities.”
Mr Neumann: What deficits?
Mr Jackson: It is interesting that the members in the Liberal government who seem to be raising their voices the most are those who have in their own communities hospitals that are being stretched to the limit. They have case after case. I tell those members, as they get ready to do their barbecue circuit, that they should not have their press conferences at a barbecue, they should not go to a picnic with the Minister of Health, they should take her to their hospitals and bring her in. They should have her go and visit and see that beds are being shut down. They should have her walk over the same space where three years ago the then minister promised 4,000 beds in this province.
But she will not go in; she did not at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. She did not want to go up to an empty ward. She refused to be photographed in a wing of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital where we have been waiting for those beds for years. It is sitting there, but, oh no, she cannot be photographed where there are long corridors of empty rooms, when people downstairs cannot get in.
The Treasurer, in fairness, has the difficult job of setting priorities in this province. I expect him to advocate, with all his strength at the cabinet table --
Mr Neumann: He challenged the hospitals to end their deficits.
Mr Jackson: He has challenged hospitals to cut. That is all he has done. And he carries the big stick, as the member for Brantford would know. He carries a very huge stick, and that stick does not hit hospital administrators, it hits the nurses who suffer the staff cutbacks. It does not hit the hospital administrator, it hits the patients who have to fly to Thunder Bay on six-month waiting lists, like the case of a widow in my riding who buried her husband and three weeks later found out she has cancer. This widow is a senior citizen well into her 70s, and she is expected to fly to Thunder Bay all by herself. That is who gets hit with this big stick that the member for Brantford talks about, the average citizen whose health care needs are not being met.
I would like to have identified a lot of concerns. I have paid compliments to the Treasurer in some of the programs which he has brought in to the city of Burlington. We have a wonderful new interchange which is under construction, three years late, paid for with his greater Toronto area tax.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It is also holding up my trip home at night.
Mr Jackson: It is holding up his trip home and that is the only saving grace, that he drives that terrible piece of highway just as I do every night, but he has a driver. He gets to read all the newspapers. I do not have that luxury.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It makes me nervous.
Mr Jackson: It should make him nervous. It is not a safe piece of highway.
The point is that the citizens of Burlington are paying higher prices through their licence fees. There is the commercial concentration levy, which is a severe penalty to residents of Burlington, who are not contributing to growth, which is the reason that this government rationalized why it brought in that tax; yet it has cut back transfer payments to the city of Burlington. To listen to Mayor Roly Bird of the city of Burlington, he has clearly indicated that the government’s commitment for our rural roads in Halton and some of our infrastructure improvements that are required is not forthcoming. But the Treasurer will, as was stated earlier, find a new tax; and if he does not find a new tax he likes, he will create a new one; and when he does, he will find time to hike it.
I am telling the Treasurer that the citizens of Burlington are a very tolerant group of people. They have listened to this government make promise after promise, but when it comes to the health care needs of the citizens of Burlington, we are not going to accept any more of his political promises. We expect those beds in a community that is growing at one of the fastest rates in Ontario, with one of the fastest-growing populations of seniors. For this government to have completely eliminated all chronic care beds for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, to stonewall Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital with its need for chronic care beds, to not even honour the commitment to provide the expansion of nursing home beds at Mount Nemo Lodge, to cut back the total number of beds at the Milton home for the aged -- these services are in decline when the population is growing and the citizens of Burlington fully expect that this government will begin to take seriously the crisis in health care as it relates not just to the province but specifically to the city of Burlington.
Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to rise and participate in the debate on interim supply and to indicate that I will be supporting the motion for interim supply. I can also say that I did not originally intend to speak on this supply bill today at all, but I was provoked, if that is the word for it, by the member for Brant-Haldimand, the Treasurer of Ontario, who earlier seemed to indicate that the member for Hamilton East was an anomaly -- I think that was his word; I have not looked at the Hansard -- that they would have to do something about in the next election. I want to thank him for that comment. If I am an anomaly, I am one of three out of four in the city ridings in Hamilton. That is exactly what we hold now and we hope to do better.
I am proud of being a bit of an anomaly, if that is what the Treasurer thinks I am for the positions I take in this House, and I want to tell him why, very simply and very directly. First off, we have a country now where about 90% of the wealth in this country is owned by 10% of the people. We are doing nothing about it. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in this province and this country of ours. That is the situation for the people generally.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Your pay is going up.
Mr Mackenzie: I admit what I am getting. We have a situation where in the province of Ontario we have this phoney attack on the federal goods and services taxes, and yet what is the record in Ontario? As was pointed out earlier today, retail sales tax revenue in 1985 and 1986 was $5,025,000,000. It is now $8.96 billion. It has gone up $3,935,000,000. Personal income tax has gone from $7,249,000,000 to $14,510,000,000; it is up $7,261,000,000. The number of families paying this has gone from 2.9 to 3.1 million, a very small increase. What it means is that the people of Ontario are being taxed more than we are going to see even with the new goods and services tax federally. On top of that, we are going to see a tax on tax, no matter how the Treasurer likes to argue about that in terms of the goods and services tax.
We are seeing a situation where almost 40,000 companies in this province are paying no taxes at all, not because they are doing anything illegally, but because of the loopholes that have been put there by the two old-line parties in this province of ours. We are not seeing fair and equitable taxes for people, and people are hurting. I sat in just a week or two ago with the other members from Hamilton, including some of the Treasurer’s colleagues, where the city in effect gave us a bill for what it considered a direct $5.5-million shortfall in terms of programs it had to finance as a result of what it considers -- the Treasurer denies it -- cutbacks in the funding, or the fact that the ongoing funding for some of the programs is not maintained.
Hon R. F. Nixon: They went up 11.3%. It’s pretty hard to cope with that small increase, isn’t it?
Mr Mackenzie: Municipalities right across this country are complaining about it and the Treasurer knows it. We do not have a fair tax system in this province, and it is not getting fairer. In fact, Ontario is doing more than the feds are going to do, even with the goods and services tax that is coming down.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Give us the “soak the rich” one.
Mr Mackenzie: The Treasurer can call it socialist rhetoric if he likes, I was interested in the professor from Guelph who clearly outlined the fact that a 1% wealth tax on that top 10% I talked about would raise almost $5 billion, or as much as we are going to see raised by the goods and services tax federally. Why are we not looking at where the money is in this province?
The other thing: How many calls have all of us had -- I am presuming the other members are getting them too -- with regard to the difficulty with people in emergency situations getting into acute care beds? That has not happened for a number of years, until the last year or two in my city. We had the twins in a breach-birth situation, the classic example, where they wanted to move them to Kingston or to Toronto. It was just a terrible situation. I well remember the visit of that family into my constituency office, their anger and their desire to be somehow or other transported into this House and get into a one-to-one confrontation with the Minister of Health over what had happened in their situation.
We are seeing some real concerns at the municipalities, as I said, about their ability to raise the money they need to maintain the programs. We are seeing some real problems in terms of the kind of health care, and I would say it is a deterioration in the health care in this province.
What about the betrayal of workers? My God, where else can you see a better example than in Bill 162, the Workers’ Compensation Board and what it is doing already to workers? Where can you see a better example than the promises that were made and then broken and the changes made in Bill 208, the health and safety bill? That was a direct betrayal of a promise made by this government.
Where else can we see a better or a more obvious betrayal of workers than we have seen in terms of the Premier’s own promises that if the auto parts industry was hurt as a result of the free trade pact, there would be no deal? My golly, what is happening right across this province?
Mr Neumann: What did Ed Broadbent do?
Mr Mackenzie: We have got something like 80,000 industrial workers who are now out this year.
Mr Neumann: Are you proud of Ed Broadbent’s role, saying nothing about free trade?
The Deputy Speaker: Order please, the member for Brantford.
Mr Mackenzie: We certainly have not seen this government live up to its promises to protect workers when it comes to the free trade situation or the plant closure situation.
Hon R. F. Nixon: What, what?
Mr Mackenzie: I remind the Treasurer -- he may not like it -- that it is one of the items that was in the accord that the government has never acted on. Plant closures: Earlier notice, public justification was one of the conditions there. The Premier signed it, we have done nothing about it and we are now reaping some of the results in the province of Ontario.
I want to say about Sunday shopping, regardless of what side of the issue you are on, there was a reversal by this government on that issue, a very clear reversal.
A more recent one is the longer trucks. He can argue all he wants. I have not seen any motorists yet who think adding another five or six feet to the trucks on the highway is going to be of any benefit to them as drivers, and I do not think it is going to be of any benefit to the workers who are involved in the industry. It just does not make any sense.
I guess even more recently are the current moves that are being made in terms of workers’ pensions. I cannot believe it -- another item in the accord, I might say. We were supposed to be looking at indexing of pensions. We were supposed to be looking at the issue of who owns the surplus funds in pension plans. This government and the minister responsible have obviously now made the decision, because in effect we are legalizing contribution holidays. That may not be pulling the money out of the plan, but I can tell members anybody involved in the pension issue, and certainly the unions that have been fighting this issue so long, and certainly workers who are worried about their pensions, knows that it makes not a darned bit of difference whether or not the company can reach its hands in and take the surplus of a fund or just take a holiday from its contributions. It is the same difference.
The changes in the solvency requirements mean that General Motors might not get hurt, where you cannot take into account money that is needed to be in there in a situation where there is plant closure or severance or other benefits for a worker, but a small company, a one-company issue that has a plan, they can definitely be hurt and are going to be hurt in the benefits they can obtain as a result of that change being made. The five- to 15-year funding arrangement is another one that means there will be plants that will be closed out as a result of the economic situation and the protection will not be there for the workers.
What I am saying to this Treasurer is that yes, we know we have to provide the money to pay our civil servants and to meet the ongoing bills of the province of Ontario, but I am also saying to him that I am proud to be an anomaly if it means that I do not think it is right that a government can say one thing, whether it is on longer trucks, Sunday shopping, workers’ pensions, health and safety, workers’ compensation issues, taxes, free trade, and has broken its promise or done the opposite on almost every one of those issues. As far as I am concerned, the government has bitterly betrayed workers in this province of Ontario, I think this government, in terms of its lack of internal fortitude in carrying out what it said it would do during an election campaign, has broken a trust to the people in this province and I am proud to go back to Hamilton East and to be an anomaly, if that means not being like this particular government.
Mr Neumann: I listened with interest to the member’s vigorous speech and I just wanted to make one brief comment in relation to the free trade issue. I am proud of the stand that our Premier took on the issue.
Mr Laughren: What stand?
Mr Jackson: What stand was that?
Mr Neumann: As the members in the opposition quite rightly know, the province of Ontario did not have the opportunity to veto the free trade agreement. It was crafted in such a way that it was exclusively at the federal level.
Mr Laughren: There was no stand whatsoever. There was no stand on the free trade agreement whatsoever. When are you going to understand that your Premier --
Mr Neumann: I hear them agonizing over there listening to the truth. The member who previously spoke knows very well that the chance to stop the agreement was in the federal election of 1988 when our federal leader, Mr Turner, certainly made his position clear, but we barely heard any comments whatsoever from Mr Broadbent, the leader of the NDP. I think that is what they are so upset about over there, that their party failed when the moment of truth came.
Mr Mackenzie: I think our position has been constant on the free trade issue. Whether or not we made enough of an issue of it in the federal election, there was nobody in the province of Ontario or in Canada who did not know where we stood. They certainly knew where this party stood in the province of Ontario. I think we also did not make the kinds of comments that were made by the Premier of Ontario, that there will be no deal if this is what happens. We certainly told the truth. Whether we stressed it enough or not is another matter, but we did not break a commitment to the people of Ontario, which this government did.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Here we are in an evening session. It makes me positively nostalgic getting up here in an evening session, before dinner, mind you, which will probably change the quality of my speech, but there you go.
I would like to make a few comments, spurred on a little bit by those of the Treasurer in his last presentation to this House, in which he started to go on and on about the abuse of the process by the minority on this side. I want to say a couple of things.
It changes a person a great deal, I presume -- and I have seen some changes in some of my friends on the other side as they become swaddled by the enormity of the majority, when they are surrounded by the critical approach of the family dog of the Liberal caucus, in terms of that bitterness to which they are held to account in the executive council of the province by their caucus colleagues. So I start to see a change in attitude.
A member who was known at one point even to ring bells for quite some period of time and to endorse that kind of thing, a member who on the other side could not even imagine what it was like during the period he was leader to have a government actually move closure in a pre-emptive fashion before the debate ever took place, or a government that these days moves closure on several bills at once. Then to turn around and say that the dangerous gang of 19 somehow usurped the rights and privileges and the balance between the rights of the executive council and the rights of the members -- give me a break. We have to use those things that we have in our hands within the rules, which we all agreed to use, and that is what we did.
We are voting on four months of supply here. Partially with all the goodbyes that some of us who are a little longer in the tooth politically -- and those who still will not understand how long in the teeth they are and should be moving on -- a number of us having been making our goodbye speeches, etc. and it seems to me that it is evident to all, you get the sense, this almost inevitability, of a provincial election this summer.
I know that there is some analysis on this side that the Liberals say, “Let’s go now while the going is good and not go at the end of our term.” Then there are some people who say that there are people who are suffering from what is known as the McKenna complex; that is to say, “Ninety-four ain’t enough because 19 and 16” -- or whatever; I keep forgetting the number of the third party -- ” can somehow get in our way and, you know, it’s hard to rule when you’ve only got 94 members. It’s really tough, so let’s go for 130.”
Maybe some people think that is the way it should be. It is the McKenna complex, as I say. I do not know what it is, whether it is being swaddled in a majority these last number of years, whether it is hearing only good polls, whether it is believing Jean Chrétien, I do not know what it is that is causing the problem over there, but clearly we are going into an election and I do not want to lose the opportunity to make a few comments about how outrageous it is to go --
Mr Kerrio: Then run.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I may be forced to run if things keep going like they did today. I mean, the kind of action that was taken around taking away children’s rights today, which was proposed by a minister I thought was progressive over there, is just the sort of thing that might make me want to run in the next election again and forget this notion of retiring.
The government has 94 seats. Not only do they have 94 seats, but also they have not even been here three years as a government and they are planning on roaring off to the people. I am just going to deal tonight with my areas of responsibility, primarily with education, and talk about a government of 94, a gaggle of 94 with less than three years put in that decides it has done what it should on education and it is worth risking all the wonderful things it has done to go to the people.
Let’s just look at it. Let’s start, for instance, with broken promises. Let’s start with a promise made on 11 August before the last election when the Premier promised that that year, that precise year, 1987, they would reduce the class sizes in grades 1 and 2 to 20 students per teacher and that he would spend for that one item alone almost $300 million that year. Obviously he had not talked to the member for Brant-Haldimand when he made that promise because even today, three years later, they are nowhere close to the $300 million. They have not even spent that cumulatively since that time, let alone in that first year.
You look at all the other promises that were in that package and you can say the same thing. Where is the meat? It has not been put forward yet.
Mr Laughren: That does not mean he lied, does it?
Mr R. F. Johnston: I do not think that means he lied, because it would be unparliamentary to suggest something like that.
Mr Laughren: Right on. That is the only reason it does not mean he lied.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It was close. It was very close, Mr Speaker.
Let’s look at some of the other matters that are out there in terms of what is going on. We have a Minister of Education -- a good friend of mine, I like to think -- born in Renfrew county like a number of other stalwart citizens of this place.
Mr Laughren: Not far from Shawville.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Not far from Shawville where Floyd Logarithm, as he was recently dubbed, came from. That member was in opposition for almost as many years as I was, and nowhere near as many years as the member for Brant-Haldimand was, but I cannot believe how inactive that member has become.
Hon R. E Nixon: Who?
Mr R. F. Johnston: The member for Renfrew North, the Minister of Education. I cannot believe that he is hiding now behind what I would call a sort of loquacious incapacity to move. I do not know if it is all that wonderful verbiage that he has given us -- I was going to say spread on us -- over the years in this House that has somehow -- he is just played out now. There is nothing left. When you are in opposition this long, you want to do something, right? But here we have a Minister of Education who has had a major report, called Vision 2000, on reforming the college system in his hands for the last two months. Has he shared that with this House? Has he told us what he thinks should be done? No, he is hiding. He is hiding someplace. He will not come in here and deal with that.
Hon R. F. Nixon: He is announcing government offices in Renfrew.
Mr R. F. Johnston: He is probably announcing 60 new places in Renfrew rather than dealing with these issues. I agree, that is what he has become, a provincial pot-hole fixer rather than somebody who is policy-driven as I always thought he was when he was on this side.
That is not the only report he is sitting on. This government led us to believe that a select committee on education was seen to be an important thing. There was an election promise: “We are going to look at this education matter seriously.” Well, our last report was given in January 1990 and it has direct implications for this Treasurer who wants more money from us now to run the business of the province.
The report had major suggestions for changing some of the problems that exist out there at the moment in education inequities, and that minister has not responded in this House to it, even though we are now a good 60 days over the 120-day deadline that he is supposed to meet under our standing orders. He knows that our major recommendation is that he should be meeting now with the major partners in education to work out realistic ceilings for the cost of education. He knows that. We said that that has to be completed by 30 August 1990, and he has not even come here to tell us what he is willing to do, let alone met with any of those individuals yet.
I find myself, as a member of the select committee which gave its last report today, saying: “Why on earth do we bother putting in reports? What is the point?” We pointed out a problem in here which is severe, which every member in this House should say needs addressing immediately, that is, the incredible inequity in amount of money spent per student in various areas of the province today.
Let me give some examples. If you live in the city of Windsor, you know your child will have about $1,000 more spent on that child per year than a resident of Essex county. You may both work in the Chrysler factory and you may both pay taxes through the Chrysler factory which allow that city of Windsor to provide that kind of support. God knows, the province is not paying for that support of education any more, but you and your child will be shortchanged $1,000 if you live just outside the boundary of the city of Windsor.
It is even worse if you compare a northern community with the city of Toronto. There the gap can be over $2,500 per student. Think of the effect of that in your classroom in terms of the quality of education, the principles of equality and education in the province. We pointed out that problem in our paper. We suggested there might be some changes made to improve the situation, but the minister will not report to this House, will not do his duty.
We pointed out what is self-evident to everybody, that property tax is paying too much of the burden. Do members not know that now the provincial share has dropped -- they can use government stats and say to below 40% or they can use other people’s stats and say that 37% of the cost of education now is being assumed by the province compared with the 60% high that there used to be?
An hon member: That is 60% of approved costs.
Mr R. F. Johnston: No, no, no. I am just talking about the real cost in comparison straight across from -- read our report. Read the report by the majority members of the government party who signed this report. This was a consensus report. There are places like the city of Toronto that do not get a cent of provincial dollars.
Mr D. W. Smith: Because they have a tremendous assessment base.
Mr R. F. Johnston: You are absolutely right. Exactly.
Mr D. W. Smith: Right.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Is the member listening to me? Mr Speaker, I know you are listening to me. The member is probably losing touch again. Coming from Lambton as he does, he does not realize perhaps what I was saying. Lambton is in exactly the same position, if not worse, than is the county of Essex in terms of its capacity to pay. Yet the provincial share going to Lambton is down from what it was when that member was first elected. We have a report which identified that and which said we need action, and the minister is sitting on it and nothing has happened.
All members of this Parliament in 1985 recognized the fact that something was wrong with the special education changes that we brought in. A whole range of things were wrong with it. A public process was brought in, and in 1986 that public process ended and we were told we were going to get amendments to Bill 82, as it was known, in special education.
I have the Hansard here. I will not bore members with it, but the member for Nepean, who has just entered, raised this with the then Minister of Education, the present House leader. He asked him where those amendments were, and the minister said, “I am working on them and they will be out very soon.” The first time the member asked that was a year and a half ago. He asked it again this spring and he was told it would be later this fall.
We have been told over that period of two years that it is coming in a month, it is coming in a week, it is coming Monday, yet we have never seen it. This Minister of Education has the gall, knowing what is happening to kids with special needs in this province, depending where you live and how your board interprets that piece of legislation -- he knows that by delaying that action further, he is taking away the right to an education, which was the principle of the bill that the member for Kitchener-Wilmot and others fought so hard for in the early 1980s.
Where is this minister? Why is he not acting on these things? He has other difficult issues -- these are not all easy issues, we know that -- such as religious education in schools. This government has had a Supreme Court ruling which has told it what the limitations on religion in the schools need to be in our public school system. There is a major report which this minister has been sitting on. I do not know where he hides these things. This afternoon I called it a black hole, because that is what it is like. You pitch a report at the minister and it just disappears for ever. Nothing happens.
How can a government with 94 seats, with less than three years done on its mandate, be sort of sidling up with Captain Canada to the notion that we should be going to an election this summer when it has done nothing on these things, when it has broken the promises I have talked about, when it is now asking students at the post-secondary level to pay 18% of the cost of education, higher than any Tory government? Imagine that as something to hang on to.
I have some of the statistics here. At the moment, universities in Ontario are funded at a level about $800 less per student than is the average for the other nine provinces in the country. Us the wealthiest province in the country, us the province that says university education is important.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It’s all going to SARC.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It’s all going to SARC? Give me a break.
The real increase that is happening this year, and the Treasurer knows it -- forget the things that were promised in past budgets -- is 5%. It is identical to the Canada assistance plan cap and he knows that. The other money that is involved there is money that was promised previous to this, and now that he has won the CAP battle -- the Prime Minister has been told he cannot do this unilaterally -- I still do not see any major loosening up of the purse-strings to really implement Social Assistance Review Committee the way he said he was going to.
I am not going to go on in terms of the range. I gather the Treasurer does not like it, and I can understand that. But he should think about it as he goes rushing off to the people with the Premier who saved Canada. I think that is the idea. I have to sort of slap myself around a little bit to get that one to go down properly. The Premier who saved Canada is going to go with his 94 members to the people with less than three years, having done what? Having broken all the promises the member for Hamilton East talked about, all the things the member for Nickel Belt has said.
I have only touched a few of the areas that the government has mucked up on in terms of education. Come on. If the Liberals want to be straight with the people of the province, they should finish their mandate, do something that will show they are really a reform government and do not force me to run again.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Actually, I should just accept the congratulations and support from the honourable members and let it go at that, but since under the rules nobody can follow me in this, I thought perhaps I would just refer to a couple of points that have been raised during the last couple of days and peripherally in this debate.
I want to be sure that, as this session draws to a close tomorrow, the honourable members go back to their own constituencies feeling positive about the economic growth that the province is experiencing. It is certainly not as rapid as it has been over the past five years, where the growth has been faster than any other jurisdiction in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Our economy, like all major industrial economies, is undergoing considerable change in the face of increasing global competition. Some firms are shrinking while others are expanding. But over the past three years, businesses have invested $86 billion in Ontario. A further $33 billion in business capital spending is planned for 1990. In the past few months alone, several major firms have announced substantial expansion plans in Ontario, I want to list just a few of these to ease the concerns that have been expressed by people who are not in possession of the facts.
Northern Ontario: In North Bay, Mirolin Industries will build a new $15-million bathroom fixtures plant employing 320 by 1992; in Temagami, Pyrok International will construct an $1.1-million cement-bonded waferboard plant employing 70; in Smooth Rock Falls, Malette lumber will undertake a $149-million expansion to its mill creating up to 75 woodland jobs; in Dryden, Canadian Pacific Forest Products is undergoing a $200-million expansion of its pulp mill.
Eastern Ontario: In Napanee, Goodyear Canada is building right now a $320-million tire plant expected to employ 800 by 1995; in Brockville, Shell Canada is building a $50-million lubricants blending plant employing 75; in Hawkesbury, PPG underwent a $25-million expansion of auto parts plant adding about 75 jobs.
Central Ontario: In Oakville, Ford Canada has announced plans for a $500-million investment in a new paint shop, and we are hoping there will be even more investment, even though the honourable member for Sudbury, where they do not build many cars, indicates that the auto pact has been gutted, whatever that means; in Barrie, General Tire is undergoing a $149-million expansion creating 260 new jobs; in Hamilton, Dofasco is constructing a $450-million cold rolling mill; in Peterborough, Quaker Oats is undergoing a $28-million expansion creating up to 100 new jobs; in Stratford, FAG Bearings is undertaking a $45-million expansion creating 200 new jobs.
Southwestern Ontario: In Windsor, besides the announcement today of the Ministry of Labour’s relocation to Windsor with 400 solid jobs, which was so well received and for which we appreciate the congratulations of the New Democratic Party by the way, Ford is planning to build a brand-new $59-million aluminum casting plant expected to create 138 jobs and Chrysler recently announced investments totalling $300 million at the mini-van assembly plant in Windsor and $100 million at the Pillette Road truck plant -- these expenditures are for engineering and product improvements; Ingersoll, the $500-million Cami plant, is creating up to 2,000 new jobs and adding new jobs there as the product is selling worldwide; St Thomas, Freightliner is building a new $32-million truck plant creating over 600 new jobs; Sarnia, Nova is undertaking a $272-million expansion of ethylene and styrene plants, and that is just the beginning of the list.
I think it is rather ridiculous when people who are critical of the economic development of the province say these are just jobs for hamburger flippers. Mind you, since hamburger flippers vote too, I do not think there is anybody here who wants to denigrate that fine vocation. But these jobs are excellent jobs paying well above the industrial average, and I think we should be aware that, although our rate of growth has slowed from the average of 5% that we have experienced under the main portion of what I choose to call the Nixon boom, it is now coming into an area where the level of growth is not quite as rapid as it has been but is still substantial.
Certain sectors of the economy are facing severe cost pressures and weak markets as a consequence of the federal policy of high interest rates and the resulting high dollar. This policy has been most damaging in interest-sensitive sectors such as durable goods, manufacturing and housing.
It is important, however, to look beyond temporary dislocation in certain sectors. What is of overriding importance is whether the economy as a whole is growing and prospering. Since 1985, real output in Ontario has expanded by 4.9% per year, faster than any of the major industrial nations. Over 700,000 new jobs have been created during this period.
Despite the impact of high interest rates, real growth in the Ontario and Canadian economies has continued in 1990. In the first quarter, the Canadian economy posted a 2.2% annual growth rate. Preliminary data indicate that the Ontario economy expanded as well.
Employment growth has also continued. Private sector forecasts of employment growth for Ontario in 1990 range from 30,000 jobs -- that is the low predicted by Scotiabank and Royal Bank -- to 64,000 new jobs by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Through the first five months of 1990, employment in Ontario was up 45,000 over the same period a year earlier. These are not low-paying, part-time jobs. Three quarters of these newly created jobs are full-time and most of them are above the average.
This is the part that I particularly like: “A simplistic view of taxes on business leads one to conclude that some corporations earn profits but pay no income tax.” Mr Speaker, could you imagine anyone coming to that conclusion? We must remember two things: First, the tax system has to account for job creation and capital-intensive activity as well as income; second, income taxes are not the only taxes the corporate sector pays.
On the first point, certain provisions in the Income Tax Act provide incentives to undertake activities that result in increased economic and social benefits to the province. Examples include investment in research and development, mineral exploration and investment in new manufacturing equipment which creates jobs.
The second consideration is the taxes other than income taxation that corporations pay. These include the capital tax, which is over $500 million. In question period today I indicated it was $300 million, but at least I had the presence of mind to say that I might be wrong for the first time.
The insurance premium tax is $300 million. The commercial concentration tax, the favourite of businesses in the Toronto area, raises $120 million, land transfer tax $140 million and the employer health tax, the tax that presents so much fairness and equity on the tax base of the province, $2.6 billion.
Corporations also pay retail sales tax on their business inputs. It is estimated that businesses will pay about $3 billion in retail sales tax in this fiscal year. This represents about one third of Ontario’s total RST revenues. Provincial tax revenues from the Ontario corporate sector therefore total over $11 billion in this year.
Members should also be aware that the share of total provincial revenues accounted for by corporation taxation has increased from 22.8% in 1987 to 25% in 1990. Tax reform changes should reinforce an appropriate sharing of revenues from people and business.
I believe the province has struck an important balance in corporate taxation. On one hand, businesses are paying their fair share of revenues to help fund important social and economic programs from which all society benefits. On the other hand, we are confident that our tax system is competitive with those of competing jurisdictions. As an exporting jurisdiction, we must be careful to maintain this competitive balance to ensure future job growth and prosperity.
I bring that to your attention, Mr Speaker, in a fairly orderly way, so that Hansard, which always gets these things correct and ignores the ill-informed interjections, will be available to many people, maybe about 130 people some time in the next few months, who will want a record of the economic and developmental accomplishments of this government. There may be occasions when those people who are less well informed would be critical of our initiatives, and we want to be sure that those people who understand and want to support the initiatives will have the appropriate information available.
I appreciate the support that has been extended from the New Democratic Party -- evidently no one has provided any supper for its members, so they are still sitting in here -- and the Progressive Conservative Party which, before it totally vacated the Legislature, said it supported the government’s initiative in this matter. Because of that, my remarks will be rather truncated and incomplete, but I simply close them by expressing my thanks to all members who have assisted in this matter.
The Deputy Speaker: The Treasurer has moved interim supply. Is it the pleasure of the House 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.
Motion agreed to.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 220, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Mrs Grier: When we adjourned the debate the other day, I had finished saying that we on this side welcomed this particular piece of legislation and intended to support it. I had pointed out in my remarks that we still did not feel that it was necessary for the minister to have amendments to the Environmental Protection Act in order for him to have prevented the Hagersville tire fire, but we certainly appreciated the fact that in attempting to plug what he alleged was a loophole, he has in fact provided some increased protection to the environment by way of these amendments and has in many ways enhanced the existing Environmental Protection Act.
Having said all of that several days ago, I would now like to turn to what we consider to be some glaring omissions from this legislation. The principal omission is that of any ability for the general public to be informed or to participate in the implementation of the orders that the Minister of the Environment may move. We have in this bill provision for the minister to move in and to do some work; we have provisions when a control order is issued that if it is not obeyed, the minister can take some very strict and very quick action to ensure that it is obeyed, but nowhere do we have any provision that the public be informed of the fact that a control order has been issued.
That is a glaring omission because it prevents the public from questioning the nature of the control order, whether in fact it is adequate to correct the situation, which has probably come to the ministry’s attention by way of complaints from the community. We know that the ministry infrequently picks up on issues of its own accord. It is usually as a result of a complaint that the ministry gets involved in the first place. They do their inspection, they agree that there is a need for action to be taken, they issue a warning. If that warning does not result in action, they then issue a control order, but nowhere do they feel it necessary to inform the person who probably first complained, the surrounding neighbours of the site under which a control order has been issued, or even the municipality involved.
We saw certainly in Hagersville where the neighbours had written to the Minister of the Environment some years before the tire fire saying, “You’ve got to do something about this problem.” No action was taken. I say it is a glaring omission that there are no provisions for any public involvement in the recommendations contained in this bill.
Big Daddy, the Ministry of the Environment, is going to do it all for us, and if we just trust the ministry, everything will be all right, appears to be their attitude, but we have no evidence that encourages us to place that degree of trust in the Ministry of the Environment. We saw, in fact, in the Hagersville situation that they could not be trusted to make sure that their control orders were followed and that serious environmental problems were not prevented.
We know from long and bitter experience that it is not enough merely to have good legislation and that legislation is not worth the paper it is written on if it is not properly enforced and if there is not vigilance in making sure the provisions of the legislation are lived up to. We have no guarantee that the enforcement and implementation will be any better under these amendments than they were under the existing act.
So the absence of any way for the public to have the right to monitor the actions of the ministry and to be involved in discussions about the nature of the control orders is something that indicates yet again this government’s refusal to give the members of the public the environmental rights which it promised when in opposition and which this government, in the last two elections, indicated it would support but has consistently failed to support when I have put an environmental bill of rights before this House in the past. Its actions in refusing to include those kinds of amendments in this bill indicates its lack of support for extending environmental rights.
I will be moving amendments that will try to redress that glaring omission and I hope I will have support from those members of the government who truly believe the public has a right, not only to be involved but to know about what its government agencies are doing, particularly when it comes to the protection of the environment.
I will be moving an amendment that requires the municipality to be notified and that requires notification in the press so that surrounding residents and interested parties may be informed of the action that the Ministry of the Environment may be taking.
As I say, I have had before this House an environmental bill of rights which would have filled the loophole that the ministry is still leaving in this legislation. I have also had before this House a safe drinking water act and I think it is interesting, when one looks at Bill 220, to see that the ministry is prepared to commit itself to providing alternate water supplies to communities which may find their water supplies endangered by environmental contamination.
But again, because we do not have safe drinking water legislation in this province, there are no standards against which to measure the need for safe drinking water. There is nothing in this act that gives the public the right to say, “We demand safe drinking water because we are not satisfied that the quality of our water is beneficial to our health.” It is again entirely up to the ministry to decide whether or not the provision of drinking water is required and for how long the provision of drinking water is required. The guidelines that presumably will be used in order to determine whether or not a supply of drinking water is required to be delivered to residents are merely guidelines, because we have no legislated standards for drinking water in this province. It is a promise that was made many times by the Liberal Party in opposition, and again, a promise unfulfilled. It is strictly up to the director to decide whether or not safe drinking water will be provided. There is no yardstick against which that decision can be measured.
The Hagersville tire fire prompted this legislation. It is worth while as far as it goes, but what causes me concern is, if it takes a disaster of the scale of the Hagersville tire fire to prompt a review of the Environmental Protection Act and if, in that review, so many deficiencies can be found that we are not just plugging the loopholes the minister said existed that prevented him from acting on Hagersville but a number of other provisions, worth while though they may be, do we get no further review of that legislation until there is another disaster? Is every improvement of environmental legislation to be crisis-driven?
Is that the kind of environmental protection this government, which came to power with a mandate to be as tough as it wanted against polluters, a mandate which it has not fulfilled -- is that how we are going to get improvements in environmental legislation? If that is the case, it is a sad day for this province. What we have before us today is a small step forward. I hope it will not take another disaster before we see a much bigger step forward on the part of this government.
Ms Bryden: I would like to underline what the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore said on this bill: that it is needed, but it is very late in coming in. There are still many potential tire fires around the province and the ministry is not moving quickly enough, I think, to isolate those areas, to put particular security measures on them to prevent any mischief fires and to protect us from another fire similar to the one that sparked this bill. If it has to take a fire of that disaster to get the ministry to act, it certainly shows that the Ministry of the Environment is asleep at the switch.
Mr Sterling: I find a great deal of pleasure in talking with regard to this bill, as I do with any other environmental concern. As many members may or may not know, I had a fair responsibility, when I was Provincial Secretary for Resources Development in the last government, to be responsible for the planning of the Niagara Escarpment. I believe that the international award that the escarpment received this year in some ways reflects, in a small way, the amount of effort and the commitment that I put forward towards our environment in that park.
I want to say that our party does support the efforts of the ministry to plug the loopholes which became evident in the Hagersville tire fire. It is unfortunate, I guess, that the present approach with regard to dealing with environmental problems continues on in a manner and in a fashion which have been the history of our problem; that is, that we rely basically on the government to enforce environmental standards.
It is my feeling that perhaps at this time we should start to explore different kinds of methods of enforcing environmental standards. I believe that, for instance, the residents and the people of the Hagersville area should have the right, as a group, to sue the owner of the site for the damage done to their environment, the dislocation that was involved, and perhaps they should have to the right also to sue the Ministry of the Environment for not carrying out its duty in ensuring that things were taken care of in that area.
Right now, we have a double standard. We have here today a law that is going to increase penalties for people who pollute the environment from $100,000 to $200,000 for the first offence, and from $200,000 to $400,000 for the second and subsequent offences. Yet, I read in the Ottawa Citizen today that the Ministry of the Environment itself is probably one of the greatest polluters that we know of in this province. I refer, of course, to the ministry-owned and -operated Carleton Place sewage treatment plant, which ranks as one of the worst polluters in this whole province. In spite of the evidence which has been in front of the Ministry of the Environment and inspectors, there have been no charges laid against the ministry for, in fact, what has been an abysmal situation, polluting the Mississippi River, which flows into the Ottawa River, to unprecedented levels.
It seems that even though we, as politicians in this Legislature, would have the greatest intentions in terms of what we might like to do, perhaps we need some outside influences and outside mechanisms which will enforce laws against polluters, even if it is the Ministry of the Environment itself which is responsible for running the sewage plant in Carleton Place.
It is interesting that the inspection of the plant in Carleton Place turned up 27 separate deficiencies in operation, ranging all over the place in terms of their seriousness, but no charges were laid. It is very difficult for an inspector of the Ministry of the Environment to lay a charge against his own minister. What I am saying is that the Ministry of the Environment and the government of Ontario have assumed the significant role in not only regulating what must happen in this province but also operating various agencies which are producers of pollution.
What I would like to see the Minister of the Environment embrace is something akin to what the member for Mississauga South brought forward yesterday in this Legislature, and that is a right of citizens to group together, to ban together to sue a polluter in common, be it an individual corporation, be it an individual person or be it the Ministry of the Environment, as is the case in Carleton Place, that is one of the worst polluters in all of Ontario. Quite frankly, it is closing beaches along the Mississippi and probably attributing to the closing of some of the beaches in the Ottawa River.
We have a very complicated and a very sad situation where we have the Minister of the Environment being one of the greatest polluters. I have witnessed and observed this Minister of the Environment over the last five years, and his answer to many of the problems that we face in the environment seems to be, “Let’s increase the penalties for the people whom we charge.” I think the public out there would say: “Yes. Let’s really get those people. Let’s really put it to them.” The problem is, that does not really solve the problem of the particular pollution that is being complained of. Quite frankly, the problem of penalties comes about in that those moneys that are collected for those penalties do not go back into the Ministry of the Environment. They go into the general refund fund and do not necessarily have anything to do with remedying the problem that first existed.
This Treasurer has taken a role in saying: “I want all of the money from all of the revenue sources put into my one bank account which is going to be over there. I am not going to allow the taxpayers the right to pay into one specific tax fund or one lottery fund or one penalty fund to assure them that the money is going to be paid out for environmental concerns.” I think we see the total farce of the tire tax exhibited in the Hagersville tire fire. I am sure it has been told here before that prior to that fire, the Treasurer had in his hand, in that general bank account, somewhere around $45 million, and he had spent $1 million to deal with the issue.
This legislation should have been in front of this Legislature two years ago, or when the tire tax was introduced. It should have given the right to the minister to go in and remedy a situation and deal with the problems after that in terms of compensation, in terms of what had been done with regard to private property owners’ rights. Quite frankly, I have no problem, and I would disagree with some members of this Legislature. When an environmental concern is identified, the government should act. It should act swiftly and it should act, in terms of dealing with it, in a generous way, from the Treasury, solving that environmental problem.
We in this party have identified, as I am sure other political parties have, that the environment is of paramount concern to the people of Ontario. We believe that while this government is parodying that, it is spending something like 112% more in its Ministry of the Environment budget than it did in 1985. I only need remind members of the Liberal government that it is collecting 130% more tax revenues at this time. In effect, in its expenditures, even on an issue that has been identified by the public as being paramount in terms of its concern, this government is spending less on the environment than it is in terms of the general bank account, the taxes it has collected from the people of Ontario over the last five years.
I have no problem with the Minister of the Environment asking for two or three times that budget, if that is what he needs to address the problem. I have problems with this Ministry of the Environment, this Liberal government, that the answer to every problem is to increase the penalties or the fines against the polluters. I know it may not be politically popular to say they should not be increased. Who is going to argue against the fact that you should chastise, that you should penalize those people who have no regard for our environment? I have no argument against that, but that does not address the problem of fixing up the environmental problems we have in this province.
I requested some time ago from the Minister of the Environment -- I asked him who was responsible for the water quality in the rivers of our province. Do members know what? Nobody is responsible for the water quality in our province. The Ministry of the Environment identifies point sources of environmental concerns, but nobody in this province is responsible, for instance, for taking samples out of the Mississippi River, out of the Rideau River, out of any of the other internal watersheds of our province and saying: “At the mouth of these rivers we identify that the water quality is of a very negative nature. We must find out all of the sources of pollution in order to clean up this water.” The Ministry of the Environment has not taken on that role.
I asked the conservation authorities, who I believe should be responsible for the water quality of our river courses, in southern Ontario in particular, because many of them have a much greater knowledge of the water courses in southern Ontario than our Minister of Natural Resources. For instance, the Minister of Natural Resources gave to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, which is responsible for the Mississippi River, which is where the pollution from Carleton Place is going in, $500 last year to deal with monitoring and water quality in that river basin.
If we want to deal with pollution and environmental problems in a reasonable fashion, we must have a structure. We must have hard decisions, hard political decisions made that outline our goals and the fact that we are going to have to step on the toes of various interest groups in order to achieve those interests.
I am concerned about this bill in terms of its being a patchwork, trying to close up some holes that were there. We do not see legislation from the minister or other ministers dealing with real problems.
The members from Ottawa-Carleton will know that we have had disputes and concerns over wetlands in Ottawa-Carleton. We have had a paper that has been on the table for two years, by the Minister of Natural Resources, dealing with wetlands in Ontario. They have identified class 1 wetlands, yet the Minister of Natural Resources fails to convince the Minister of Housing to declare a wetlands guidance policy for the province of Ontario under section 3 of the Planning Act.
Consequently, townships like West Carleton and cities like Gloucester are having difficulty in allowing development to go ahead, knowing that in fact there is this government document that is floating around, but has no legal effect on their zoning or their planning for the future.
What we have, I feel, in this bill is an admission. It is an admission of a lack of foresight on the part of not only the Minister of the Environment, but the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Housing to form comprehensive strategies to deal with future problems. It is not difficult to go back, look over your shoulder and say: “We had a disaster. Let’s plug those loopholes.” It takes a little bit of work to do it and we are supportive of plugging those loopholes.
We think this is basically good legislation and find little to complain about it, but we do wish that the Minister of the Environment would not be looking over his shoulder, but would be looking to the future as well.
Mr Adams: I listened with great interest to the member for Carleton. I must say, and I am sure it is my fault, that it is the first time I have heard him speak at length about the environment. I listened with considerable interest to what he had to say. I am glad, as he said at the beginning and the end, that very carefully he is generally supportive of what we are doing. We all know that hindsight is, of course, 20-20. I think from what I have heard we all agree here that we should learn lessons and should build on them. That is what we are trying to do in this legislation.
I noticed the member for Carleton focused on the sections of the bill that deal with penalties. He went on at some length and I lost him somewhere in his discussion about those things. I tend to agree that where there are penalties they should be clear. The people who pay those penalties should know perhaps that the fines they are paying go to the cause concerned.
I would point out to him that previous amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, and I think to the other two pieces of legislation with which the Minister of the Environment is involved, have allowed convicting judges to require the accused to remedy polluting problems and orders of that type have actually been made.
To be honest, I am very interested in this matter of penalties because I believe the government is a very interesting mixture of carrots and sticks. I think that a lot of the success of government is in the choice, the balance between the use of sticks, such as the penalties in this legislation, and inducements, carrots of various sorts, to persuade citizens to move in certain directions.
I think that in the Ministry of the Environment we have tried to balance those things. Our blue box program, for example, has deliberately been voluntary and we have tried to encourage people to participate rather than forcing them. This is a judgement call, I understand, and I appreciate the member’s remarks about that.
I noticed he mentioned group actions in the early part of his remarks. I think he knows that the Attorney General’s bill, the Class Proceedings Act, will provide for group actions, I think of the type he was discussing. That bill is now at the first reading stage. It will be interesting to see where it goes.
I was also very interested in the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s remarks both this evening and the other day. I have almost forgotten when we began dealing with this important bill. As parliamentary assistant and before that as a member, I have watched the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, both in, for example, estimates in committee and in her question and answer bouts. I might say, with my minister. I have followed her personal involvement with various bills, some of those which she mentioned, with great interest.
I was particularly glad, I might say, the last day, but a little less today, that she too is basically supportive of this legislation. I am glad and I can see that she identifies with it a bit because she sees something of herself and her own work in it. I would be the last to say that there is not some part of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s work in this important legislation.
I was surprised, though, that she was surprised, for example, at the strength of the access provisions, because I think if she had been watching this side of the House as closely as we have been watching that side of the House she would have realized that we have great interest in these things too. The strength of the access provisions here is something which, I think, she should have expected rather than being surprised at.
The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore said this is a small step. I consider that a compliment from the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. It is a very important small step, I would say. I look forward to addressing some of the amendments she mentioned as we proceed with this legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Consideration of Bill 220, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Mr Adams: Mr Chairman, may I come to the front of the House and may I have staff accompany me there?
The Second Deputy Chair: As the parliamentary assistant is taking his place, I want to remind members that the committee, on beginning Bill 220, has the opportunity of allowing the representative for the minister or the critics to have opening statements. Considering we have just dealt with it on second reading, that might not be necessary. I would expect we can move right to section 1. I know the honourable member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore had indicated that she had some amendments. Reviewing what is before me in terms of amendments, I see that the government has proposed an amendment to section 12.
Sections 1 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Adams: On section 12, section 124h of the Environmental Protection Act, we have an amendment that simply deals with the situation in which we find ourselves with regard to court reform and the change in terminology of the courts.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that section 124h of the Environmental Protection Act, as set out in section 12 of the bill, be amended by striking out “Ontario Court (General Division)” wherever it appears and substituting “District Court.”
Mr Sterling: I would just like to say that I myself and my benchmate are in favour of this amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Adams: I have another amendment to section 12 and it deals with subsections 124i(3) and (4) of the Environmental Protection Act. This deals with the provision under the bill for claiming, through the property tax, expenses deriving from a problem such as the one we had at Hagersville.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that subsections 124i(3) and (4) of the Environmental Protection Act as set out in section 12 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“(3) A lien created under subsection (2) in favour of a municipality is not an estate or interest of the crown within the meaning of clause 9(5)(b) of the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.
“(4) Subject to subsection (4b), money collected in accordance with subsection (2), less the costs reasonably attributable to the collection, shall be paid by the municipality to the Treasurer of Ontario.
“(4a) In subsections (4b) and (4c), ‘cancellation price’ has the same meaning as in the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.
“(4b) Where there is a sale of land under the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984, and amounts are payable out of the proceeds to the Treasurer of Ontario under this act, the Fire Marshals Act or the Ontario Water Resources Act, those amounts shall not be paid until after payment of all other amounts payable out of the proceeds in respect of the cancellation price of the land.
“(4c) Despite any provision of the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984, the treasurer of a municipality may sell land under that act for less than the cancellation price, so long as the land is not sold for less than what the cancellation price would have been but for this act, the Fire Marshals Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act, and the purchaser may be declared to be the successful purchaser under the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.”
Mrs Grier: Can the parliamentary assistant explain the difference of these amendments to what would have existed under the amendments as drafted in the bill.
Mr Adams: I will attempt to do so. I appreciate the question. As I understand it, it is a question of the priority of the claimants of funds under the property tax. This, as I understand it, allows the municipality to make its fair claims against the land, the property tax, and then the government of Ontario, under this act, to make its fair claims. A note is going to be passed to me. I see that the note here explains slightly more clearly than I did that the crown comes in front of a previous owner.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is everyone happy with that explanation?
Motion agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 13 and 14 agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: It has become evident that we have an amendment to section 15. I might remind the parliamentary assistant that it is in order to first read the section and then explain the meaning.
Mr Adams: Thank you for that kind advice, Mr Chair.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that section 48h of the Ontario Water Resources Act, as set out in section 15 of the bill, be amended by striking out “Ontario Court (General Division)” wherever it appears and substituting “District Court.”
Mr Adams: This is exactly the same amendment that we made previously to the Environmental Protection Act. We are now making it to the Ontario Water Resources Act and it deals with the matter of the terminology of the courts that I mentioned.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that subsections 48i(3) and (4) of the Ontario Water Resources Act, as set out in section 15 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(3) A lien created under subsection (2) in favour of a municipality is not an estate or interest of the crown within the meaning of clause 9(5)(b) of the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.
“(4) Subject to subsection (4b), money collected in accordance with subsection (2), less the costs reasonably attributable to the collection, shall be paid by the municipality to the Treasurer of Ontario.
“(4a) In subsections (4b) and (4c), ‘cancellation price’ has the same meaning as in the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.
“(4b) Where there is a sale of land under the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984, and amounts are payable out of the proceeds to the Treasurer of Ontario under this act, the Environmental Protection Act or the Fire Marshals Act, those amounts shall not be paid until after payment of all other amounts payable out of the proceeds in respect of the cancellation price of the land.
“(4c) Despite any provision of the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984, the treasurer of a municipality may sell land under that act for less than the cancellation price, so long as the land is not sold for less than what the cancellation price would have been but for this act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Fire Marshals Act, and the purchaser may be declared to be the successful purchaser under the Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 15, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 16 to 23, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mrs Grier moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“23a. The act is further amended by adding the following section:
“120a(1) When the director makes an order or decision under this act of a class prescribed by the regulations, the director shall,
“(a) serve notice of the order or decision, together with written reasons therefor, on the clerk of any local municipality in which there is land on which the order or decision requires something to be done, permits something to be done or prohibits something from being done; and
“(b) cause a copy of the notice and reasons to be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in each locality that may be affected by the order.
“(2) A person may, by written notice served on the director and the board within 15 days after the second notice is published under clause (1)(b), require the board to hold a hearing in respect of the order or decision.
“(3) A hearing required under subsection (2) in respect of an order or decision shall be consolidated with any hearing required under section 121 or 122 in respect of the same order or decision if, in the opinion of the board, it is practical to do so.”
Mrs Grier: This is the amendment which will put in place what I indicated on second reading I felt was lacking from the bill; namely, any requirement that the public or even the municipality in which a piece of land about which a control order is being directed -- there is no provision for the public to be notified of the fact that this action is occurring. The effect of my amendment would require notice to be given to the clerk of the municipality, I think a very reasonable request, and second, cause a copy of the notice to be published in the local newspaper.
The consequence of that notification therefore is to enable the public to be aware of the fact that a control order has been issued, and then subsections 2 and 3 follow from that; namely, that having been made aware of what is occurring, the public has a right to require a hearing, at which time it may make representations to both the minister and to the offender as to the nature of the control order, and subsequently, of course, if a hearing is granted, that citizen may be a party to that hearing.
These are exactly the kinds of environmental rights that I have called for in this House every time this government has presented environmental legislation and I regret that in the past it has not been totally accepted by the government. I am sure that in the new mood of preparing for whatever the summer may bring, there will be complete concurrence with this amendment and I look forward to its support.
Mr Sterling: I just have one practical matter to raise. I do not disagree with the amendment and I am supportive of it because it gives knowledge, but with respect to the part where one causes “a copy of the notice and reasons” -- and I underline “and reasons” – “to be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in each locality that may be affected,” I have no idea, and perhaps the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of the Environment can in some ways tell me, what the length and verbiage might be in terms of the reasons.
I would not like to put the onus on a relatively small municipality, for instance, to take up five pages of a newspaper and incur unnecessary costs if that is likely to happen. That would be my concern, I would like the public to have the right to go to the municipal council office and get the reasons and that there be notice that that had happened. I think the director should be responsible for providing reasons to the municipal clerk, but I am just a little concerned about the practicality of that part of it.
Mr Adams: We too are concerned about some parts of this amendment, although there are some parts that we agree with. The member for Carleton’s point about a very complex and very long ad is one that, to be honest, I had not thought of, but in terms of the expense and delay of newspaper advertising, I think we have to imagine, if you like, a Hagersville situation and how the government should be able to move. What is the object of this evening’s exercise? The expense and delay, the delay in particular, we are concerned about.
Also there is the matter of third-party appeal. We have some concern about that. We are, as members know, allowing for third-party involvement in the proceedings, but third-party appeal again to us implies a delay and we are concerned about that part of the amendment.
I am not sure when it is appropriate to do so, but we do in fact have an amendment to the amendment, which perhaps at some point you would care to consider, Mr Chairman.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is that full discussion on the proposed amendment by the honourable member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore?
Mrs Grier: Could I respond to the points made by the member for Carleton, merely to point out that it is my intent that the notice would be published by the Ministry of the Environment. The onus would not be on the clerk of the municipality to publish the notice in the press. The onus would be to be on the ministry to provide the clerk with information and also to publish the information in the press.
With respect to the complexity of it, in my discussions and prior to drafting this amendment with the ministry, they pointed out to me that a control order could be for a very minor matter, which is why the amendment says that this requirement exists only in the case of control orders of a class prescribed by the regulations, the intent being that we would weed out the routine and very minor matters by not prescribing in the regulations that notice would have to be given of them.
The parliamentary assistant’s argument of this causing unnecessary delay I find very difficult to accept in light of the fact that the control orders on the Hagersville fire were stayed for two, nay, two and a half to three years, by virtue of the fact that the proponent was able to appeal them. We have now eliminated that by virtue of this legislation and the reverse onus that it implies, but I think for the kinds of situations that would be envisaged by the regulations, in weighing the desirability of public information and knowledge against the delay for a further 15 days of something that I suspect has been in existence for quite some time before the ministry gets to the point of issuing a control order, it is not an argument I am prepared to accept.
Mr Sterling: My concern becomes a little less when I find that the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the advertising, but it is none the less a concern in terms of total tax dollars. I am no more anxious for the Ministry of the Environment to be spending money on things than anyone else. I just wonder whether or not a long reproduction of reasons going on for pages and pages is really necessary in order to give the public notice of what is going on. I think the notice is the most important part. Notwithstanding that, I support the other parts of the amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: The parliamentary assistant, speaking to? Although I would advise him, sometimes it is worth while not to bother.
Mr Adams: I do have an amendment to the amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Okay. Here is what I would suggest: Reviewing what the honourable member has put forward and the proposed government amendment, which amends the honourable member’s amendment, I was wondering if it might be in order if we first put to the committee your first amendment, which would probably lose. That way, the government would not put forward its amendment to your amendment, but your second amendment, I believe, is in accordance with the government’s proposed amendment to your amendment.
Mrs Grier: I have no objection to either method of procedure. I am happy to do it the simplest way possible.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s see if we can get it done.
Mr Adams: We would prefer to proceed with the amendment to the amendment and then deal with the amended amendment.
Mrs Grier: Do I take it in that case the government can say it was their amendment, not my amendment, Mr Chair?
The Second Deputy Chair: I guess so. We tried.
Mrs Grier: The principle is more important than the ownership; I agree.
The Second Deputy Chair: What is the amendment to the amendment?
Mr Adams: I appreciate the remarks, as amended.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that section 120a of the Environmental Protection Act, as set out in Mrs Grier’s motion adding section 23a to the bill, be amended by striking out “and” at the end of clause (1)(a), by striking out clause (1)(b) and by striking out subsections (2) and (3).
Mrs Grier: I regret that the moving of the amendment indicates the government is not prepared to accept the wider notice that is envisaged in my amendment, but I am prepared, of course, to support the subamendment and regret the process that I thought we had discussed before coming into this place that would have allowed my amendment to be the one, but as I say, the principle of establishing the fact that at least a municipality is informed of the actions is I think a very important one and I am very glad the government is prepared to accept that.
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant, what is the objection to the publishing of some kind of notice of what has gone on? Are they of such a minor nature that they would not be of general interest to the public or --
Mr Adams: I am advised that many are in fact of minor nature, because there have been public hearings ahead of time, so the things are in fact quite widely known.
The Second Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment to the amendment carry? Carried. Shall Mrs Grier’s amendment, as amended, carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: So you got one anyway, Mrs Grier.
Mrs Grier: We take the crumbs where we can.
The Second Deputy Chair: Now we have 24a.
Mrs Grier: In view of the fact that my amendment to 23a did not carry, 24a is no longer relevant, because that was to enable the party who had been advised to be a party to the hearing.
The Second Deputy Chair: It would appear we have no further amendments from section 24 up to section 33 and then you have another amendment, so, being very careful, parliamentary assistant, do you follow me?
Sections 24 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mrs Grier moves that section 34 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsections to section 61 of the Ontario Water Resources Act.
“(2d) When the director makes a notice, direction, report, order or other decision under this act of a class prescribed by the regulations, the director shall
“(a) serve notice of the notice, direction, report, order or other decision, together with written reasons therefor, on the clerk of any local municipality in which there is land on which the notice, direction, report, order or other decision requires something to be done, permits something to be done or prohibits something from being done; and
“(b) cause a copy of the notice and reasons to be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in each locality that may be affected by the order.
“(2e) A person may, by written notice served on the director and the Environmental Appeal Board within 15 days after the second notice is published under clause (2d)(b), require the Environmental Appeal Board to hold a hearing in respect of the notice, direction, report, order or other decision.
“(2f) A hearing required under subsection (2e) shall be consolidated with any hearing required under subsection (2a) in respect of the same notice, direction, report, order or other decision if, in the opinion of the Environmental Appeal Board, it is practical to do so.
“(5) A person entitled to require a hearing under subsection (2a) in respect of a notice, direction, report, order or other decision is a party to any hearing required under subsection (2e) in respect of the same notice, direction, report, order or other decision.”
Mrs Grier: This merely amends the Ontario Water Resources Act in the same way as I had attempted to amend the Environmental Protection Act, to provide for notice to be served on the municipality and published in a local newspaper so that the public at large may be aware of control orders issued by the director.
Mr Sterling: I believe I have heard this song once before. I was wondering if I am going to hear the same song from the other side again.
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, let’s hear.
Mr Adams: Mr Chairman, as you know, this bill deals with the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. We have been dealing with two sections. This is, as the member for Carleton so astutely observed, exactly the equivalent of the discussion we had with respect to the Environmental Protection Act. I have the same amendment to the amendment.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mr Adams moves that subsection 61(2d) of the Ontario Water Resources Act as set out in Mrs Grier’s motion to amend section 34 of the bill be amended by striking out “and” at the end of clause (a) and by striking out clause (b).
Mr Adams further moves that subsection 61(2e), (2f) and (5) as set out in the same motion of Mrs Grier be struck out.
Mr Adams: My remarks would be the same as my remarks to the previous amendment to the amendment.
Mr Sterling: Ditto for me.
The Second Deputy Chair: Shall the amendment to the amendment carry?
Motion agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
The Second Deputy Chair: That would appear to be the termination of the bill without further amendments.
Sections 35 to 39, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Adams, the committee of the whole reported one bill with certain amendments.
LAW SOCIETY AMENDMENT ACT (INSURANCE), 1990
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 164, An Act to amend the Law Society Act with respect to Insurance.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the parliamentary assistant have an opening statement?
Mr Polsinelli: Mr Speaker, it will please you to know that I do have an opening statement. I am pleased today to move second reading of the Law Society Amendment Act (Insurance), 1990
The purpose of this legislation is to enable the Law Society of Upper Canada to own shares in an insurance company or to hold a membership interest in a mutual insurance company that offers professional liability insurance to lawyers.
We believe that the law society has a duty to its members and to the public to ensure that a stable and comprehensive professional liability insurance system is maintained. However, since the law society assumed responsibility for arranging professional liability insurance for practising lawyers in 1971, difficulties have been encountered with its placement. This instability has caused concern about the long-term availability and affordability of lawyers’ errors and omissions insurance.
Recently, as a result of the high renewal rate requested by its former insurer, the law society turned to the London market and placed its risk with Lloyd’s of London. As Lloyd’s is in the business of reinsurance, it agreed to insure the law society only if it would incorporate its own insurance company prior to the 1 July 1990 renewal date. The right of the law society to do so would be clarified in this legislation.
In addition to enabling the law society to place its risk with Lloyd’s at a favourable rate, the incorporation of its own insurance company would enable the law society to gain access into the reinsurance market, which would provide the society with better control over rates and coverage in the future.
While at present there are very few primary insurers that are prepared to assume the law society’s risk, there are numerous reinsurers that would be prepared to provide insurance at more competitive rates. The incorporation of its own insurance company would also provide the law society with greater flexibility in structuring and administering its professional liability insurance program. Further, it would enable the law society to control policy wording, terms and conditions in order to better reflect the profession’s and the public’s interests.
It is interesting to note that a number of other provinces in Canada, as well as England and Wales, have recently authorized their law societies to incorporate their own insurance companies. It is our view that a similar course of action should be followed in Ontario in order to better ensure that a stable and comprehensive professional liability insurance program is in place for the protection of the public in Ontario.
Mr Reville: On behalf of the New Democratic Party, let me begin by saying that we have had ample cause of late to be very dissatisfied with the Liberal government’s approach to the question of insurance. However, in this connection we agree that legal errors and omissions can pose serious risks and we support this legislation because it will protect the public against loss.
Mr Sterling: We are fully supportive of this bill. I think it is important that the Law Society of Upper Canada is dealing not only with its own members, I understand that the bars of smaller jurisdictions like the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland are also going to be involved in some way along with the same mutual insurance company, or that is a prospect in the future. I congratulate the Law Society of Upper Canada in terms of not only putting this thing together, of not only looking at it for the public of Ontario; in effect, it is protecting the public of Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories where those organizations are not large enough to undertake this kind of venture. Therefore, we are fully supportive of this legislation, and would like to see it in place before 1 July, which I understand is a very important day as the previous insurance lapses at that time.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
CONSTRUCTION LIEN AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Polsinelli moved, on behalf of Mr Scott, second reading of Bill 215, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the parliamentary assistant have an opening statement?
Mr Polsinelli: Mr Speaker, again I am going to please you by having an opening statement.
The purpose of this bill is to reverse the recent Court of Appeal decision known as Jerry’s Asphalt Paving Ltd and J-AAR Excavating Ltd v Core Developments Ltd. The case dealt with the entitlement to the owner’s holdback. As we all know, a holdback is the 10% of the price that each payer on a construction contract or subcontract is required by the act to retain temporarily. For example, home owners having renovations done are required to withhold 10% from the contractor for 45 days after the last work is done to provide limited security for subcontractors and material suppliers to the contractor and also to protect themselves from the lien claims of those subcontractors and material suppliers.
In Jerry’s Asphalt, the court altered what was commonly considered to be a limitation on a lien claimant’s potential claim against the holdback. The court held that any lien claimant could seek compensation from the entire pool of the holdback retained by the owner. That interpretation does no harm when there are no subcontractors. However, when there are subcontractors -- that is, suppliers of services or materials to subcontractors of the contractor -- real problems are created. Under the court decision, an unpaid subcontractor doing one part of the work can claim against all of the holdback retained by the owner for the contractor, the subcontractor and all the subcontractors on all parts of the project. If this happens, the contractor, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors who have performed their obligations under their contracts, complied with the act and are innocent of any wrongdoing could be deprived of any money they have earned.
The purpose of this amendment is to restore the intended operation of the act to what almost everyone believed it to be. This amendment would limit a lien claimant’s claim against a holdback to the amount held back from the person who failed to pay the lien claimant. The bill ensures that there will be a security fund available for all who have not been paid instead of just to the person who acts first.
Unless the law is amended, owners, contractors and subcontractors will seek other legitimate contractual methods to prevent being liable without fault. These measures could cause substantial delays and increased costs in construction projects, disincentives to begin new projects and firms -- especially small construction firms -- to leave the business. Ultimately these effects would be felt by consumers.
This amendment restores the intended operation of the holdback provisions, thus ensuring that serious problems do not develop in the construction industry as a result of the decision in Jerry’s Asphalt. The bill makes the amendment apply retroactively to existing construction contracts to prevent multiple defaults on current projects and to ensure fair treatment of the industry that governed its affairs according to the apparent state of the law prior to the decision in Jerry’s Asphalt.
The bill appears to have the unanimous support of the industry.
Mr Reville: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant would give some examples of the alternative legal remedies that contractors and subcontractors might seek.
Mr Polsinelli: I would love to give some concrete examples. As the member for Riverdale knows, they are very abundant in the building industry and the construction industry.
Mr Reville: Mr Speaker, you may forgive me if I tell you I was not always as you see me now, I was at one time a contractor, and indeed a subcontractor, although not in the concrete industry, so I will not give you any concrete examples. My trade was the plumbing trade, and I found myself frequently in the position where I was making a claim on the holdback that was required under this legislation and the antecedent -- it is amazing what plumbers can pick up -- legislation.
I think this legislation does return us to a situation that pertained prior to the decision in Jerry’s Asphalt Paving Ltd. I am pleased that Jerry had his day in court. I am sorry that in fact we have to wipe out that day with this legislation, but it does create a much more palatable equity if all subcontractors have a draw on the holdback. So we will be supporting this legislation and looking forward to the concrete examples perhaps to follow later.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement?
Mr Sterling: The member for Riverdale seems to be quite knowledgeable about this. Perhaps he could provide us with some of the concrete examples that he is asking for.
The Deputy Speaker: Any other concrete questions or comments?
Mr Reville: I am ready with the examples, Mr Speaker, if you need them.
The Deputy Speaker: Then you can present your concrete response.
Mr Reville: Yes. Sometimes we go and take the concrete out.
The Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to build upon the argument?
Mr Sterling: Having had some time to practise law, and perhaps because of my background in terms of being a civil engineer, these laws have some real meaning to me. This amendment is necessary in order to protect innocent subcontractors from liability which will be incurred if people who are under the subcontractors in the pyramid that is created in a building construction project are not followed directly to the top but are jumped from the bottom to the top, as happened in the case of Jerry’s Asphalt Paving Ltd and J-AAR Excavating Ltd v Core Developments Ltd.
The amendment of course is supported very strongly by COCA, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations, and we of course very strongly support this bill. In the Jerry’s Asphalt case perhaps the situation arose that the particular judge saw that he could interpret the law in such a fashion as to provide some relief for a fairly small business when in fact there were other subcontractors who were more able to absorb a cost like this. But that does not take away from the general principle of a pyramid that is necessary in the construction trade, where you start with the owner, go to the contractor, go to the subcontractors, then go to the sub-subcontractors, and it is necessary to have all the holdback provisions in descending order and the access to those holdbacks has to start from the base of the pyramid and go up.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Riverdale and the member for Carleton will be happy to know that I have found some concrete examples. Perhaps I can give them some examples of some of the ramifications of not passing this legislation. I must say at the outset that I do appreciate their support and I do know that they understand the consequences of not passing this legislation.
One of the examples may be that owners, contractors or subcontractors may deduct a holdback greater than the statutory minimum. This would slow payment streams and construction projects which, in turn, may slow the pace of construction because of a lack of financing for contractors or subcontractors.
Another one may be that these same people may demand payment bonds from parties immediately below them. Obtaining such bonds would be expensive for contractors and subcontractors and thus would add cost to the project as a whole. Obviously those costs would be passed down to eventual purchasers. Contractors or subcontractors may increase the price quoted on projects to cover the increase in potential liability. Again, that would artificially inflate the cost for the construction and those costs would eventually be passed down to the eventual purchaser. Subcontractors and other suppliers may also try to protect themselves by automatically registering liens against all projects whether or not there is any sign of trouble. If that happened, members would know that the construction of those projects would eventually come to a complete standstill.
I am very happy that the staff has provided me with these very adequate notes that explain, at least in a constructive sense, what these concrete examples are.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
LEGAL PROFESSION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act.
Mr Polsinelli: I am pleased today to move second reading of the Legal Profession Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989, which amends the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act. Part I of the act amends the Law Society Act in a number of ways requested by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Pursuant to this part, lawyers in Ontario, like lawyers in Alberta and British Columbia and other professionals in Ontario such as architects and engineers, will be allowed to incorporate their practices.
It is important to note, however, that incorporation will not affect the professional responsibility of lawyers to their clients, including the financial liability of a lawyer to his or her clients. Neither will it affect the solicitor-client privilege or the right of the law society to regulate and discipline its members.
With these important safeguards in place, we believe there is no reason why lawyers in Ontario should be treated differently from other business persons in the province. By allowing lawyers to incorporate, the legislation will enable them to take advantage of the same federal and provincial tax benefits currently available to small businesses. Further, incorporation provides some benefits with respect to insurance, registered retirement savings plans and other aspects of financial planning. It also formalizes and structures decision-making within law practices and protects the continuity of the practice when the composition of the firm changes.
Part I of the proposed legislation also includes a number of small miscellaneous amendments to the Law Society Act that were requested by the law society. These amendments concern such matters as changing the voting rights of life benchers and former Attorneys General, changing the quorum for discipline matters before convocation from 15 to 10, permitting the imposition of terms and conditions on the readmission of persons who have resigned and increasing the fine and limitation period for unauthorized practice.
Part II of the Legal Profession Statute Law Amendment Act, 1989 amends the Solicitors Act in one respect. It removes an inequity with respect to the awarding of costs of corporations involved in civil litigation. Currently the act prevents corporations which are represented by salaried counsel from receiving counsel fees as part of an award of costs in most cases. This situation has been remedied, however, with respect to municipal, provincial and federal governments, which are commonly represented in litigation by salaried counsel. The proposed legislation would ensure that all corporations are put in the same position and treated like other litigants in terms of costs awards.
Mr Reville: I listened carefully to the parliamentary assistant’s statement and perhaps I was not listening carefully enough, but I still cannot quite grasp the social, economic or political benefits to society as a whole of these amendments.
Mr Polsinelli: What this piece of legislation is doing is fulfilling a request from the Law Society of Upper Canada to allow firms to incorporate. The benefits to society would be the benefits of any small business progressing and flourishing. This would, as my statement indicated, provide lawyers with a certain number of advantages that are presently available to other members of the business industry. In particular, it would provide to the public the continuity that would be sometimes lacking in the continuation of a law firm when one of the partners leaves.
As the member may or may not know, partnership law in Ontario is such that when one of the partners leaves, the partnership is dissolved and a new partnership would have to be formed. If law firms are allowed to incorporate, then rather than having a partnership the legal structure would allow the practice to continue without interruption by a simple transfer of one of the shares. But I am sure that the member for Riverdale and the member for Carleton will expound on what they feel the benefits to society would be from this legislation.
Mr Reville: This party does not have any objection to part II, the changes to the Solicitors Act, but we have not been convinced by the parliamentary assistant’s argument that there is a benefit to society in amending the Law Society Act. We cannot see how these amendments, given that they do not affect the duty of a solicitor to his or her client, are of any advantage except perhaps a possible tax advantage. We will oppose this legislation.
Mr Sterling: I have no hesitation in supporting Bill 45, because I do not understand why lawyers should be separated from any other kind of business in terms of their ability to use an incorporation not only for purposes of setting up the structure of their firms -- and as the parliamentary assistant has so cogently pointed out, it is an important tool for the continuum of law firms when one of the principals leaves that law firm -- but also because there are some taxation benefits, particularly for small law firms, which come out of the ability to incorporate.
I think the public should understand that incorporation in general means that there is a limited liability on the people who invest in the corporation. These corporations are different than the normal incorporation that you would see with regard to any other kind of business, be it a retail store, a construction trade or whatever. In those kinds of incorporations, you can only attack the corporation for the assets that are within the corporation and you cannot attack the individual shareholders.
I think the parliamentary assistant should know that I am aware of a case in which his ministry is involved, involving Dr Bruce Lister, Dr Ian Milne and Dr Denis Dudley, all from the Ottawa-Carleton area, against the Attorney General. They are a group of doctors and dentists who have asked for the same right we are giving lawyers today to incorporate under basically the same terms and conditions.
It is interesting to read the factums they have provided in those cases. They refer to the fact that Bill 45 is before the Legislature, and this factum was filed after June of last year when Bill 45, of course, was tabled in this Legislature. They refer to the argument of subsection 15(1) of the charter which says that every individual is equal before and under the law and has a right to the equal protection and equal benefit of law without discrimination.
In the response to the factum by the appellants, who are the doctors I mentioned, the Attorney General responded to them by saying that they did not refute the argument with regard to the fact that Bill 45 would change the situation with regard to dentists and doctors as well; they tried to repel that argument on the basis that this Bill 45 had not been passed by the Legislature.
I would ask the parliamentary assistant then why he is only favouring one profession in terms of giving its members the ability to deal with their practices and to deal with the tax laws in an alternative forum and why he is not giving those same rights to the doctors and dentists who are, I believe, in a very similar situation in terms of the structure of those practices. It seems to me that it only makes sense that we should treat people equally in this Legislature if in fact we are going to provide these opportunities.
I will read paragraph 30 of the factum of the Attorney General:
“The applicants allege that they are denied equal benefit of the law as compared to lawyers in Ontario. Lawyers, however, are not permitted to incorporate under the current law. The courts may not take cognizance of bills when determining equality rights under section 15, since the introduction of a bill in the Legislature is not a guarantee of its passage. In fact, of the 309 bills introduced in the first session of the 34th Legislature, from 1987 to 1989, only 111 received royal assent without amendment.”
What is happening here then today is the parliamentary assistant is giving a very strong argument to the dentists and doctors to have equal rights with the lawyers, and I only think it would be wise for him to move in that direction. If in fact he is going to benefit one profession, he should treat the other professions in an equal manner.
Mr Polsinelli: I appreciate the comments from the member for Riverdale and the member for Carleton. I am not sure if I understood correctly the member for Carleton’s comments as to whether there was a concern there on the part of clients being able to --
Mr Jackson: Claudio, if you were a dentist, you wouldn’t think that way. Don’t you listen to your dentist? The guy who works on your teeth, Claudio. Remember the guy who works on your teeth?
Mr Polsinelli: We have a member who is trying to ask a question. I am really having difficulty understanding what the question is. Perhaps I should allow him to ask the question. I ask for your indulgence.
The Deputy Speaker: He is out of order. You may proceed with your windup statement.
Mr Polsinelli: That is fine. I just wanted to know. Since we are in this sort of very co-operative mood, I would have tried to address his particular interests if you so desired, Mr Speaker.
In reply to the member for Carleton, I am not sure whether he indicated if he had a concern with respect to the clients of legal corporations being able to pierce a corporation shield in terms of financial responsibility on the part of a legal corporation. The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. There is no protection in terms of not only the solicitor-client privilege but also the legal and financial obligation that the legal corporation would have to the client. It is as if that corporation did not exist in that respect.
In dealing with the member for Riverdale’s concerns, he should be aware that in fact what this incorporation legislation does is assist the small firms. It assists what we would term the small business legal corporations. It is predominantly the sole proprietorship, the sole practitioner that we think this legislation is going to help. Effectively what they would be entitled to do would be to defer certain income in the corporation rather than taking that income right away.
We have an experience from the province of Alberta, which has allowed this type of incorporation. It should be noted that out of 4,620 active members of the Law Society of Alberta, 1,070 have obtained valid permits for professional corporations, and out of that 1,070 that have incorporated in Alberta, fewer than six of these are corporations with more than one shareholder.
I would point out to the member for Riverdale that what this bill is doing is helping the small practitioner, the sole lawyer who is out there practising, to take advantage of some of the opportunities that other small businessmen have.
The Deputy Speaker: In the absence of Mr Scott, Mr Polsinelli has moved second reading of Bill 45.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole.
House in committee of the whole.
LEGAL PROFESSION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act.
The Chair: I have 15 sections in the bill and I have three government amendments to sections 4, 12 and 13. At this moment, I would just like to list if there are any other proposed amendments. Do any other members wish to list sections to which they want to make comments or amendments? No? These are the only three.
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Laughren: I just wondered if the parliamentary assistant could tell us why this was not incorporated into the original bill.
Mr Polsinelli: It is obvious that this should have been incorporated in the original bill because we are moving the amendment now.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that subsections 31(1), (2) and (3) of the Law Society Act, as set out in section 4 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(1) The membership of a person is in abeyance while the person holds office,
“(a) as a full-time judge of any federal, provincial or territorial court or as a full-time master of the Supreme Court of Ontario; or
“(b) as a full-time member of the Ontario Municipal Board or as a full-time member of a tribunal that has a judicial or quasi-judicial function and that is named in the regulations for the purpose of this section.
“(2) Upon ceasing to hold an office described in subsection (1), a person whose membership is in abeyance may apply to the secretary to have the membership restored and, subject to subsection (3), the secretary shall restore it.
“(3) Convocation may by order refuse to restore the membership of a person whose membership is in abeyance if, after due investigation by a committee of convocation, it is found that the person was removed or resigned from an office described in subsection (1) because of,
“(a) conduct that was incompatible with the execution of the office;
“(b) a failure to perform the duties of the office;
“(c) conduct that, if done by a member, would be professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a barrister and solicitor.”
Does the parliamentary assistant have a statement?
Mr Polsinelli: I will have a statement if members want it. Otherwise, I will just let it go.
Motion agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 5 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that section 12 of the bill be amended by adding the following as a paragraph to section 63 of the Law Society Act:
“2a. naming for the purposes of section 31 tribunals that have a judicial or quasi-judicial function.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that section 37 of the Solicitors Act, as set out in section 13 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:
“37. Costs awarded to a party in a proceeding shall not be disallowed or reduced on assessment merely because they relate to a solicitor or counsel who is a salaried employee of the party.”
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would like to know what it means.
Mr Polsinelli: I was afraid that someone would ask that and I have a 15-page explanation.
The Chair: Any other questions and comments?
Motion agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 14 and 15 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to call the 62nd order, which is Bill 225.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think it is important that the government House leader and the House understand why unanimous consent was necessary in order to put this bill on the docket.
We changed our standing orders, as members know, last October, and part of the standing orders, section 66, says that no minister of the crown can introduce a bill within the last eight sessional days, which is the last two weeks of a legislative session, and then expect that the bill will be called for second reading.
I raised that point at that time. It concerns me that as a result of my raising that concern, a certain rumour seemed to emanate out into the Ontario public that I was stopping this piece of legislation. There was a very important principle involved in formulating that rule, and that principle was that if the government introduced a bill within the last two weeks, there was not sufficient time for the public to react to that piece of legislation.
I am agreeing and the other members of the caucus are agreeing to it because of the apparent urgent nature of this and because, quite frankly, there are a lot of false stories out there in the Ontario public which have been generated, I am not certain by which side of the House but I can only imagine. I do not know where the Attorney General is tonight, but perhaps he is on his telephone calling people about this particular piece of legislation.
There is a concern with regard to this bill, because I received a letter this morning from a concerned member of the public of Ontario. and there appear to be problems with this piece of legislation. I will listen very carefully to what the Attorney General wants to do with those particular concerns. I am very much interested to see if he has had any response to this legislation, which has been on the table for only a week and a half at this time.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I just want to add a few comments to this, Mr Speaker. I would like you to know that in my own office I have had over 100 calls in the last few days about this bill wondering why it is that the opposition is trying to stop this bill from proceeding. I do not know where this idea is being developed and why the understanding of exceptional agreement by members on this side to allow the Fluffy bill to go through is not being recognized, but I want you to know that those kinds of calls are presently being generated.
Mr Reville: I would like to add some comments. I want very much to associate my remarks with those of the member for Carleton. The matter of the Fluffy bill was indeed brought up at the House leaders’ meeting last week. There is indeed a rule of the standing orders which is intended to protect the opposition from the government’s producing all sorts of legislation in the last two weeks, when in fact it has the ability to require extended sitting hours. We feel somewhat cross that how this all shakes down depends somewhat on whose rumour mills can grind the fattest and the quickest about who is actually trying to stop legislation that I think we all in this House tend to want to support.
I think we have been moved by hearing the stories of people who are losing their homes because of no-pet clauses, and we would have been quite happy to deal with such matters. In fact, several members of this House brought forward private legislation to do just that.
For instance, here is an Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act standing in the name of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale which was tabled on 25 July 1989. It was not called for reasons unknown to me. I suspect it was not called because the public pressure had not built to the extent where the government thought it was necessary to call it. In fact, we are going to actually give unanimous consent. We are going to give unanimous consent, I say to my colleague and to the member for Carleton and to the member for Wentworth North, but we do so with extreme caution because we do not want the government to feel it can decide in the last eight days of the session to garner political points by introducing bills on first reading and then putting a gun to the head of the opposition parties to waive the rules.
An hon member: Let’s get on with it.
Mr Reville: I seem to have caused some hysteria over there in the rump, but I will conclude my remarks and let us get on with this important legislation.
Hon Mr Ward: On the point of order, I have listened very carefully to what representatives of both opposition parties have said and I must say that I have heard the rumours over the course of the past two or three days. They distressed me greatly. I am shocked, because I can assure the members that in all of our conversations with the House leaders there was widespread support for this legislation and the plight of tenants with pets. I just want the members from Riverdale and Carleton to know that I am shocked that somehow those rumours managed to get out there. It certainly does not reflect well on the rumour mill that obviously operates in the halls of this Legislature.
The Deputy Speaker: I have listened carefully.
Mr Reville: How do you feel?
The Deputy Speaker: I feel great. I just wanted to remind members that before the point of order was brought up, I had asked the House if there was unanimous consent and I did not hear anything against it.
The Deputy Speaker: That is why it is always important when the Speaker asks members to respect the standing orders, so that when the Speaker addresses the House and asks a question such as, “Is there unanimous consent to bring this forward?” -- I had heard “Agreed.” I had not heard a dissenting voice, so therefore, having --
Mr R. F. Johnston: I saw a point of order at that point. That is what confused me.
The Deputy Speaker: No, there was not a point of order at that point. There was a point of order brought afterwards. I have noted your remarks and we shall proceed. Will the parliamentary assistant move second reading.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT (ANIMALS) ACT, 1990
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 225, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act with respect to Animals.
Mr Polsinelli: Again, Mr Speaker, I am going to have an opening statement. First of all, I would like to thank the members from both opposition parties for granting unanimous consent to let this bill go forward. This bill was introduced for first reading on 18 June of this year, just a mere seven or eight days ago. Under the standing orders, unanimous consent would be required by all parties to proceed with second and third reading prior to the closing of this session.
I must also say that I have not heard it said by any member of any party in this House that he or she has any particular objections to this type of legislation proceeding. There is a tremendous concern by all members in this House with respect to the issue of pets in apartment buildings and we all want to try to resolve that particular problem.
With respect to the particular legislation that we have at hand, the amendments in this bill will ensure a careful balancing of the rights of landlords and tenants. Landlords will be able to go to court to evict tenants with troublesome pets. Landlords will also be able to go to court to evict tenants with pets which are of an inherently dangerous species or breed. But tenants will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the court that their pets are well behaved and do not cause harm. If they prove this, they cannot be evicted unless the pet is of an inherently dangerous species or breed.
As you can see, Mr Speaker, court proceeding will still be necessary to determine whether the tenant or the pet should be evicted, but the fact that the tenant in question or other tenants in the building signed no-pet agreements will not be sufficient to evict him or her. In fact, the amendments provide that the court cannot consider the fact there is a no-pets agreement when determining whether grounds for eviction exist.
I say that the amendments balance the rights of landlords and tenants because they recognize that in a building where animals have caused problems, it may be difficult for the landlord to identify specifically which pet or pets are responsible. The amendments require the landlord to prove only that animals of the same kind as the tenant’s have caused problems.
But the case does not end there. The ball is then in the tenant’s court. If the landlord proves that the pet’s behaviour caused substantial interference or there was a serious allergic reaction, then the tenant will be able to avoid eviction by showing that the tenant’s own pet has not contributed to or caused the problem.
Applications for injunctions ordering tenants to get rid of pets based on no-pet leases will also be governed by these same criteria.
All of these amendments will apply to any court hearing that is completed after the act receives royal assent. If an eviction order is made before the act receives royal assent, the tenant will still obtain the benefit of the amendment if an appeal is taken and the appeal is heard after the act receives royal assent. But if a tenant does not contest the eviction notice or does not appeal from an eviction order, then the amendment will not protect him. This is because there must be a hearing to determine whether the grounds for eviction or for an injunction exist.
I believe that these amendments strike a fair balance that will permit action to be taken against irresponsible pet owners but will protect tenants whose pets are well behaved, do not cause harm and are not dangerous.
Mr Philip: This bill has nothing to do with protecting tenants. This has something to do with protecting Liberals from an election; that is all that it has to do with. The Attorney General, when confronted by tenants’ associations, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, the Toronto Humane Society, humane societies across the province, did not answer the mail. For two years he did not answer his mail. In this House, the Attorney General said, “Well, people can choose between their leases and their pets.” Of course, we have had massive evictions across this province. Indeed, there have been tens of thousands of animals euthanized as a result of this government’s failing to act on this.
Now it introduces this flim-flam legislation that is supposed to be something to everybody. There are a number of principles that are found in this that are actually quite disturbing. For one thing, there is guilt by association in this bill. I have never seen this government, any government, introduce legislation that says you are guilty because you happen to be part of the same class that may have committed an offence. This bill says then that if there happens to be an animal of the same species that has caused substantial interference, then you have to prove that your animal has not or will not do the same thing. What is a species? Does that mean that if somebody had a Dobermann and the Dobermann managed to nip the rear end of the landlord, and you have a Chihuahua, that somehow because a chihuahua is a dog and the Dobermann is a dog, then you have an animal of the same species and therefore you have to prove that your little Chihuahua cannot jump high enough to nip the bum of the landlord in the same way that some fellow with a Dobermann managed to accomplish that? That is how foolish this bill is. That is how ridiculous this bill is.
It says “the presence of an animal of that species has caused the landlord or another tenant to suffer from a serious allergic reaction.” What does that mean? Does it mean that five years ago, if some child had an allergy towards cat hair, if I am going to have a cat in that same building, I have to prove that the child, five years older, who may have grown out of that allergy and may not even be living in that building, would no longer suffer from my cat and may be a completely different cat living on the same floor? That is how silly this legislation is. It puts the whole onus on the innocent person to prove that he is innocent rather than to charge the guilty person with some kind of offence, as has been the case prior to the Ryll or Fluffy the cat case.
This bill also does not deal with the basic problem that tenants have been talking to the Attorney General about; namely, that as a result of the Fluffy the cat or the Ryll case, tenants are being evicted for violations of really unreasonable clauses being put in leases. That is why the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations asked for legislation that would deal with the essential problem that we are faced with; namely, that if a landlord is going to put a clause in a lease that says you may or may not do something, the landlord, if he is going to use that clause to evict the tenant, must show that the tenant’s action in breaking the rule that he has put into the lease in some way violates the peaceful enjoyment of the property by other tenants or by himself or in some way damages the property.
What we have is the absurd situation now that this bill protects you in some way, gives you some protection if you happen to have a goldfish, but it does not protect you if the landlord likes to put in a clause -- somebody actually did this and, as I understand, tried to evict a tenant -- that you cannot have a microwave oven. It tries to give you protection against being evicted for having a goldfish but no protection if you happen to bring a baby carriage on to an elevator contrary to some rule which a landlord has put into his rules.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Philip: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere does not care about the tenant in Scarborough that the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations talked about, who was being evicted because she happened to have the --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr Laughren: Dave Warner’s nickname is Fluffy.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt. Could we have a reign of peace and quiet, please? Standing orders.
Mr Philip: As Dave Warner pointed out to me and as the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations pointed out to me, that tenant in Scarborough-Ellesmere for whom the landlord decided to put a clause in the lease saying, “You may not carry a baby carriage. You may not take a baby carriage on to” --
Mr Philip: If the member would read the bill, if he would read the issue. If he had listened to the tenants, he would know what the issue is.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr Philip: How can anybody represent tenants in this House and be so stupid on an issue like this as the sitting member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Would the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere please contain himself?
Mr Laughren: Throw the bum out.
Mr Faubert: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Would the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale confine himself to the bill.
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order. Would the member for Nickel Belt also make sure that his language is parliamentary.
Mr Faubert: No, but it’s a good point of interest.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. If members want to make comments, they can avail themselves of the two-minute comment period.
Mr Philip: I know the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere should understand this bill because I understand that he did an IQ test and scored almost as high as the member for Dovercourt. Therefore he should be able to understand that the issue is not just pets.
The issue in this bill, as the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations has pointed out to the Attorney General time and time again, is whether or not these corporate landlords can put unreasonable clauses in their leases and then because of the mere violation of that clause -- even though in violating that clause or house rule or whatever they want to call it in no way damages the property or interrupts the peaceful enjoyment of the property by other tenants -- tenants can be evicted. That is the major issue we are facing.
The Attorney General, in concentrating exclusively on the pet issue, has missed the major issue that the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations has pointed out to him. I introduced originally a bill that dealt with the pet issue, as a result of the Ryll case. At that time, I met with the Metro tenants’ federation, with the various tenant legal services and with the humane societies, and they convinced me that primarily as a result, interestingly enough, of examples from Scarborough -- not from my own riding but of the corporate landlords in Scarborough who are using other clauses -- it became a broader issue than merely pets.
Mr Faubert: You haven’t won one yet.
Mr Philip: I am surprised that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has not listened to his own tenants and to the federation, which has been speaking on behalf of those people. I know he probably listens to the landlords. Those are the people who pay his campaign funds, just as the Premier listens primarily to the insurance companies. But let me read you a legal opinion, Mr Speaker --
Mr Faubert: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is imputing motive. He has done it at least twice, now and in his last statement. I wish you would ask him to withdraw it. He is imputing motive. I have received no contributions from any landlord in my riding.
Mr Laughren: Oh, sit down and be quiet.
Mr Faubert: It is absolutely true.
The Speaker: All right. Order. On the request from the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, will the member withdraw that motive?
Mr Philip: If the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere will keep quiet --
The Speaker: Order. Will you withdraw?
Mr Philip: I did not say anything that was inappropriate. If you will point out to me what I said, I will withdraw it.
The Speaker: Well, really. There is a standing order that says a member cannot impute motives.
Mr Philip: I have no intention of withdrawing the remark unless you tell me which remark to withdraw.
The Speaker: Would the member --
Mr Faubert: Yes, exactly. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale imputed motive, saying that I had received contributions from landlords in my riding. That is absolutely not true and that is imputing a motive.
The Speaker: Order. Will the member withdraw?
Mr Philip: Did you hear me say that, Mr Speaker?
The Speaker: I am not here to answer questions.
The Speaker: Order. With respect, will you withdraw?
Mr Philip: I will withdraw the remark, Mr Speaker, but in future I would like a ruling based on what you hear and not what somebody else says he heard.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Faubert: There will be a celebration in Scarborough-Ellesmere --
The Speaker: Order, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere; that is enough. Continue the debate.
Mr Philip: What I was trying to point out was that the Liberals have ignored the tenants for more than two years. This bill ignores the principal request that the tenants’ groups have asked for.
I have here a legal opinion from Neighbourhood Legal Services, which was sent to the Attorney General on 26 June and deals with this bill:
“The Tenant Advocacy Group” -- which is the advocacy group of various legal clinics, plus they are associated in this matter, I understand, with the humane societies and various other groups – “would like to express its support for your actions that you are taking to protect owners of well-behaved companion animals from evictions. However, we have some concerns about whether the proposed amendment will be entirely successful in achieving this result.
“Specifically, we find the newly created subsections 109(5a) and 109(5b) to be quite problematic for a number of reasons. These sections introduce into the Landlord and Tenant Act a new concept of guilt by association. Tenants can have their security of tenure threatened because of the past actions of similarly situated tenants; that is, other tenants with similar pets. Elsewhere in the act, a landlord must prove that the particular tenant has been responsible for a particular act in order to obtain an eviction.
“TAG can see no reason why landlords should not still have the onus of demonstrating that a particular tenant or his or her pet is responsible for the imputed action. The fact that a tenant can then save his or her tenancy by proving his or her innocence does not allay our concerns with this concept of guilt by association.
“In many situations, it will be relatively easy for a landlord to demonstrate that in the past an animal caused some problems, and relatively difficult for an individual tenant to prove that the problem was not caused by his or her animal.
“Moreover the wording of subsections 5a and 5b are unhappily ambiguous. TAG questions whether the amendment makes it clear that the mere presence of a pet can no longer constitute substantial interference. Can a property manager’s testimony regarding the existence of dogs in a building, resulting in higher maintenance costs, still constitute interference with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by the landlord? Exactly what does ‘behaviour of an animal’ mean? Is it not possible that the district court could interpret this to mean the mere presence of such a species? If so, how does a tenant then use subsection 5b to save him or herself?
“If the amendment is intended to focus on specific actions of a pet, why not limit the interference of actions which affect the tenants and resident landlord? What is the definition of ‘species’ or of ‘breed’ that will be used? Does the dangerous nature of a pit bull terrier dog mean that all dogs are to be outlawed because they are of the same species? Are all dogs not the same species?
“In sum, TAG is concerned about subsections 109(5a) and 109(5b). It could be just as open to judicial misinterpretation as what presently exists. Our group is pleased with the concept of eliminating evictions based on no-pet clauses and leases and with the idea of extending these protections to other legal proceedings, but we would ask that the government consider reviewing the draft legislation to ensure that it truly does accomplish the stated objective of protecting owners of well-behaved dogs from eviction.”
What we have is a government that has ignored the tenants, ignored the seniors’ groups and ignored the disabled that have asked for major changes to this act for two years. Then, on the eve of an election, they bring in a bill which has major flaws in it, which does not do what the tenants’ associations have asked for and which does not do what the humane societies have asked for. They bring it in at the last minute, they ask for unanimous consent to get it through because it is an emergency somehow, and the only emergency is the election.
If they had brought in this bill a year and a half ago or two years ago when I first raised this issue in the Legislature, we could have had a bill that would have gone to committee. The tenants’ associations, the landlords and the legal clinics could have passed some comments on it and this bill could have been amended or any other bill could have been amended.
No, instead we have the frivolous comments and snicker-sneer of the Attorney General, who thought that it was funny then, Fluffy the cat, as he would love .to laugh and smile. It is not funny, I tell the members, to the seniors of my riding who have to choose between their housing and euthanasia or killing their pets in order to save the roof over their home. They did not find the Attorney General’s snickers and sneers and laughs very funny, and I do not think that they will find very funny the fact that they are still going to have to go to court under this bill.
We will vote for it simply because it is better than nothing, but I say to members that this bill has nothing to do with tenant protection, has nothing to do with any sensitivity to animals or to the humane society and has nothing to do with what any of the groups that made representation to the Attorney General have asked for. It has everything to do with saving the neck of the Attorney General and the other Liberal backbenchers, particularly those who represent a large number of tenants, because they have been called and have been told by those tenants, “We are not going to vote for you unless you do something,” so they have introduced this bill to pretend to do something for them.
We are going to find that just as with other legislation which the Attorney General has introduced, there are going to be major court battles. We are going to find that in a year or two the Attorney General will be coming back here saying, “I am going to change the legislation,” or, “I am going to appeal it,” in the same way we said he would have to do with the Sunday shopping legislation.
What we have is a charade. It is a charade that is playing on the sentiments of people. It is a charade that is playing on the fact that people are upset about the fact that they are having to have their animals killed, their pets that they have held for so many years. This is giving false hope to a lot of those people. I say to members that this shows not only the lack of any kind of conscience on the part of this Liberal government, but it also shows that they are completely corrupt morally when it comes to doing anything other than trying to get themselves re-elected.
Ms Bryden: I am glad that we are dealing tonight, by unanimous consent, with Bill 225 amending the Landlord and Tenant Act relating to the eviction of responsible pet owners. The Attorney General brought in this amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act because apparently he thought it could wait until the fall. He introduced it on 14 June after it was too late for consideration this spring, and unanimous consent was needed to bring it forward.
The Attorney General brings in legislation at the 11th hour. It might not have been passed by the Legislature before the appeals of three senior apartment dwellers against eviction notices based on pet ownership were heard in July. If the appeals failed because the amendments were not in place, the pet owners would have to get rid of their pets or move. Therefore, that is why I am glad we are going to see that this legislation will be in place before July.
The Attorney General is insensitive to the needs of seniors, disabled persons and other apartment dwellers for the companionship of pets. Studies indicate that pet ownership greatly contributes to the health and wellbeing of their lives. He is also insensitive to the fears of responsible pet owners that they will be forced to get rid of their pets or move if the amendments are not passed. He and his party only consented to bring this legislation forward tonight after all the MPPs were deluged with phone calls from worried seniors, disabled persons and other apartment dwellers who need the companionship of pets.
I am glad we are going ahead with this legislation. I would have liked to have seen time for the Attorney General to bring in an amendment to remove the serious flaw in his amendments that puts the onus on pet owners to prove that their pets are not a nuisance or a cause of problems to other tenants. The onus should be put on the landlords, and that is the weakness in this bill. But at least, if this bill goes through tonight and gets royal assent this week, it will be in place for those who face eviction notices this summer and until the Legislature can meet again. So I strongly support this bill.
Mr Jackson: Just very briefly I would like to comment on Bill 225. As previous speakers have indicated, this is an unusual bill because of the manner in which it has been dealt with by the government. It has been dealt with in an unusual fashion, in so far as the proposer of the bill, the Attorney General, has not seen fit to follow the good advice and counsel of individual members of this House in all three political parties in terms of responding to this. He only did it after serious efforts were made to bring to his attention how this really affects people who reside in apartments, who certainly do not live in the same sort of lifestyle that, say, he or many other members of this House might.
I guess I am somewhat distressed that we as politicians are making such a fuss over this bill at this late date. The government has indicated it is a critical priority for the government of David Peterson, yet when we look at the agenda, the unfinished business of this government, the Orders and Notices are filled with four or five pages of substantive bills, important bills, bills that affect people’s livelihood in this province, yet there is no value or priority put on those. There are some bills in here that groups have been waiting five years for, listening to five years of promises from this government that in fact it was listening, that it would respond and that it would put in place the reforms that affect their lives.
There is a whole series of bills in here -- Mr Speaker, you would be aware of them -- that deal with the health professions review legislation, from Bill 178 all the way up to Bill 212. All of these bills affect people’s livelihood in the health professions. They affect their patients and the clients whom they serve, yet we are spending more time debating this, albeit an important amendment. We have had a year and a half to deal with it.
An hon member: Two years.
Mr Jackson: Two years; I am corrected and I appreciate that.
There are other bills in here. There is one to deal with class action suits, a very fine piece of legislation. We know we are 20 years behind most jurisdictions in North America. Is that a priority for this government or for this Parliament? No.
As for my own victims’ rights bill, we know of the fact that Ontario is the last province in Canada to enact victims’ rights legislation, yet here we are on the basis of our pets. We are affording them the protections. I know it is not just for the pets; it is for the companionship and what they represent to the tenants whose care they share.
I guess there are moments in this House when we really have to ask ourselves to what extent we as individual politicians set the proper priorities, although the government is bending the rules in an unprecedented fashion since it created the very rule it is about to break. I look at all these pieces of legislation that good-meaning Ontario citizens have waited many years to have implemented. Many do not know that their bills will be put off because of election planning or because we are not going to be sitting again until after a provincial election. We may not come back in this House until late October or November.
Like, I guess, all members, we will support this bill. We have made our point. We are very distressed that low-brow rumour tactics have been used. We do not know who started them, but we do have evidence that they have occurred in terms of creating a pressure environment. Over what? Over a bill that deals with pets in apartments, when we have had two years to debate it. The fact is that we should take notice of this bill for what it represents and what it shows we are not doing in this House.
Having said that, I certainly will be supporting the bill. I wish to commend all the members of the House who have been raising these concerns for their efforts, and not the Attorney General for the late date and manner in which he is proceeding with this bill.
The Speaker: Are there any comments or questions? Any further debate?
Mr Sterling: I just want to point out that --
Mr Kerrio: We really need this, Norman.
Mr Sterling: Did the member for Niagara Falls want to enter this debate?
The Speaker: Order. I asked a short time ago whether any other members wished to participate and then finally the member said that he wished to participate. It is not question period, so would you just continue?
Mr Sterling: If I had a question, I would not direct it to that member.
At any rate, we are in agreement with this legislation, as I mentioned earlier this evening when I raised a point of order. I am always concerned when we start dealing with the rights of various groups. We are dealing with tenants versus tenants, landlords versus tenants, over a very short period of time. We have only had this legislation in front of us for a week and a half. Last year we considered Bills 2 and 3, which were a major restructuring of our court system. The Attorney General insisted on passing Bills 2 and 3 over a very short period of time for the complexity of those pieces of legislation. As a result, the Attorney General had to bring in two amending bills before the year ended. He also had to bring in over 60 amendments to the original legislation.
I have asked the parliamentary assistant to explain to me why there is a difference between the situation where a tenant is renting from a landlord who owns all of the units and a tenant who is renting from a condominium owner of one unit. As I read this bill, there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to what the rights of the tenant are with regard to the one unit in a condominium.
Under section 49 of the Condominium Act the condominium corporation can go in front of the court and terminate the lease of a tenant who does not comply with the declaration of the condominium. Many of the declarations of the condominiums in this province forbid pets to be in those buildings.
So we have on the one hand a law which says that you can evict a tenant on the basis of it being contrary to the declaration of a condominium, and now we are creating another law which purports to give the tenant the right to have a pet under certain circumstances.
The nature in which this legislation has been brought forward, the undue haste from first reading to second reading and expecting to get third reading tomorrow, is unwarranted.
I understand what the Attorney General is trying to do in relation to bringing this on at this time, because there is rumour of an election. He wants to say he is a friend of all of these fuzzy little animals that are around this province, and the owners of those animals, but this kind of issue is very important to many people across Ontario, I would have only wished that the Attorney General would have had more sensitivity, not only to raise this particular issue at this time, very late in this legislative session, but also to actively encourage stories about the opposition stalling this legislation when in fact it was not the opposition who stalled it but the rules of our House which said that this legislation cannot go ahead.
Mr Jackson: The Attorney General stalled for two years.
Mr Sterling: As my colleague points out, this is not a new idea that just surfaced in the last two or three weeks. This is an idea that has been there for not a year but two years, that has been before the members of this Legislature over that period of time, as one of the members did speak.
I think we have a law -- which we are going to pass because of the large majority of Liberals in this House, 94 of 130 seats -- which is imperfect. It has not dealt with all the real problems. Probably this kind of bill should be dealt with in front of a legislative committee. There should be amendments to deal with this, perhaps amendments to the Condominium Act, if so desired. But the government cannot deal with this issue in just talking about the Landlord and Tenant Act. It affects other kinds of property holdings, as I have mentioned, which were drawn to my attention only today. I do not know, quite frankly, if next week I will get a letter from another constituent of Ontario who will have another concern over this piece of legislation.
Mr Polsinelli: I should point out at the outset that people have been talking about the sensitivity of the Attorney General on this issue. It is important to note that the Attorney General has been very sensitive and very concerned when it comes to this issue. For anyone who understands the law, anyone who understands how the processes work, they would know that the Attorney General has been most responsive and most sensitive to this issue.
They referred to the Fluffy case last year. Anyone who has any training in the law would know that the Fluffy case was an aberration, that in fact it did not represent the facts of the previous case law. It had never, ever, prior to the Fluffy case, been established that merely a breach of the no-pet provisions in the lease was substantial evidence to evict the tenants. We had to wait until further evidence was established that in fact future decisions by the judges would establish that case law.
That evidence came on 31 May of this year when a judge evicted three ladies, who had well-behaved pets, for no reason whatsoever other than they breached the no-pet provisions in their leases. That was clear evidence that judicial thinking was changing and quick action was needed. That was 31 May 1990, a few weeks ago.
The members of the House will know that the Attorney General has had a number of issues in the past few weeks. He has dealt with the Meech Lake situation. He spent a week in Ottawa trying to overcome the very difficult issues that we have been handling in this country. But one of the top priorities in his ministry, one of the most important things that we had to do, was deal with the issue of pets in apartments and the comfort and the association that pets provide to seniors.
It seems to me that when we are dealing with issues such as the law society amendment act or when we are dealing with the Construction Lien Amendment Act, we are dealing with complex pieces of legislation that go through this House like a snap of the fingers. The opposition parties have few, if any, comments and in a question of seconds bills get through.
Mr Sterling: I talked longer than you.
Mr Polsinelli: The notable exception is perhaps the member for Carleton, who usually has some fairly constructive comments.
But when we are dealing with an issue such as pets in apartments, that is something everybody can grasp, everybody can understand, and it seems that in the past 45 minutes that is what has been preoccupying the business of this House.
The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale talked about the behaviour of tenants. Behaviour of tenants is not the issue; it is the behaviour of pets. What this legislation does is, it allows the eviction of tenants who have pets who do not behave. Any tenant who has a well-behaved pet will be able to keep him. This will protect them.
The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale talked about guilty by association, guilty if it happens to be a member of the same species. I can tell the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, who may or may not have pets, that there are many pets that are the same species that look identical. I happen to have a cute little white American Eskimo dog, and I cannot tell him apart from any other one of the same species.
What this legislation does is provide a clear balance between the rights of the tenants to keep well-behaved pets and the rights of the tenants who do not have pets and those pets substantially interfere with their enjoyment of the property. It provides that kind of a balance.
It seems that whenever you are dealing with a particular issue, everything else becomes of primary importance. This act happens to deal with one specific issue. It is the issue of tenants having well-behaved pets and the protection this legislation affords those tenants. It seems that everybody else now wants to deal with the Landlord and Tenant Act and the unreasonable clauses in leases and a whole host of other issues. Those are important issues; there is no question about that. That is not what this legislation is dealing with. This legislation is dealing with well-behaved pets and is providing protection to tenants who have well-behaved pets.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Well-behaved pets, although indistinguishable from other pets.
Mr Polsinelli: Sometimes I wonder whether this legislation should apply to members of the opposition.
Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I did not hear the parliamentary assistant answer questions regarding the Condominium Act and I did not know whether he wanted to make a comment now or in committee of the whole House on that.
The Speaker: Do you have any final comment?
Mr Polsinelli: If it will avoid --
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: On the same point of order?
Mr Philip: Yes. The parliamentary assistant to the minister did not answer any of the questions raised by Neighbourhood Legal Services, who are a number of lawyers who I think have a better success record than he has or indeed than the Attorney General seems to have lately. I am wondering whether he is going to answer them.
The Speaker: Thank you. We must not get carried away with extra debate. If the parliamentary assistant wishes to respond briefly, that is all right, but then I will put the question.
Mr Polsinelli: It was an oversight on my part in dealing with the points raised by the member for Carleton. The point the member raises is a very important one that I must say I sympathize with. The issue of the protection afforded to tenants of condominium units is, quite frankly, the same as any other tenant. The only problem is that if there is a condominium declaration that has no-pet provisions, this legislation does not amend the Condominium Act, it is only amending the Landlord and Tenant Act.
I would advise the member for Carleton, however, that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is presently reviewing the Condominium Act. I assure him that I will be making representations to the minister with respect to the no-pets provisions in the Condominium Act and I would ask him to do the same thing, because, as I say, I sympathize with his remarks and I must concur with his point of view in dealing with those protections.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed?
Mr Philip: Committee of the whole, isn’t it?
Mr Kerrio: No, third reading.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I thought that the questions that I raised, which were raised by lawyers on behalf of the tenants, would be answered. If we are going to waive committee of the whole, then we have at least to have the respect of the parliamentary --
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: Order. I put the question, “Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?” No one stood up. It will go to third reading.
VITAL STATISTICS AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 150, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act.
Mr Haggerty: I did not think I was going to get the floor tonight, but it perhaps may be my last time to address the assembly, so I move second reading of Bill 150, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act.
Mr Philip: No, I like to have a few answers.
Mr Kerrio: Take your little bat and go home.
The Speaker: We will just wait a minute so nothing blows up here.
Mr Haggerty has moved -- oh, it was already moved by the minister. I am sorry. Okay, any debate?
Ms Bryden: This bill was presented to us by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations as mainly a housekeeping and streamlining bill. However, he actually has a unique reason for introducing and giving top priority to this bill at this busy time in the Legislature. The reason is that the recent decision to move the whole operation of the registrar general from Toronto to Thunder Bay will mean that we will be without a suitable record system for people who cannot afford the plane fare to Thunder Bay unless we actually pass this bill as soon as possible. So it does have a compelling reason.
But at the same time it is bringing us some good things. By the amendment we will switch the operation from a paper-based record system to an automated, electronic database. This sounds --
The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the member. Previously there was a motion and the House agreed to sit until 10 pm. I am just wondering, what is the wish of the House?
Ms Bryden: It would only be one or two minutes.
Hon Mr Ward: I seek unanimous consent to complete the discussion on this order.
The Speaker: I appreciate that. However, I wonder, could we put a set time?
Hon Mr Ward: I seek unanimous consent to sit until 10:30.
Mr Sterling: Perhaps I could help, I would seek unanimous consent to finish considering second reading of this bill or 10:30 of the clock, whichever comes first.
The Speaker: That is a very good, similar suggestion, so it is agreed that we will continue with discussion on this up until 10:30.
Ms Bryden: This bill, as I say, brings us the extra bonus of a system which will help people interested in tracing genealogies and family trees. I am glad to know that there will still be a walk-in vital statistics centre in Toronto for the millions of people in southern Ontario who will find it difficult to communicate only through Thunder Bay, but I welcome the move of the registrar general to Thunder Bay as part of the diversification and geographic decentralization in this province.
The inclusion in the legislation of authority for the registrar general to transfer historic documents to the provincial archives and to provide services there for historians and genealogists is also a very valuable addition to the legislation.
So our party will be supporting this bill and hopes that it will be passed and get royal assent before the registrar general departs from here.
Mr Sterling: I would like to indicate the support of our party for this piece of legislation.
Mr Haggerty: This is perhaps one of the shortest debates we have seen on a particular bill, and I want to thank the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the member for Carleton for such short comments.
Again, the government is moving in the right direction, and we do see some genealogical benefits that will be derived from the new technology that will be put in place, both at Thunder Bay and here in Toronto. It will benefit those who want to trace their family roots, so I want to thank the members for their comments and appreciate their support for the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
The House adjourned at 2204.