The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
SIOUX LOOKOUT DISTRICT HEALTH CENTRE ACT, 1990
Ms Oddie Munro, on behalf of Mr Miclash, moved second reading of Bill Pr59, An Act respecting Sioux Lookout District Health Centre.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWNSHIP OF PLYMPTON ACT, 1990
Mr D. W. Smith moved second reading of Bill Pr65, An Act respecting the Township of Plympton.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWNSHIP OF FRONT OF LEEDS AND LANSDOWNE ACT, 1990
Mr Runciman moved second reading of Bill Pr68, An Act respecting the Township of Front of Leeds and Lansdowne.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HUMAN RESOURCES PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO ACT, 1990
Mr McGuigan, on behalf of Mrs Cunningham, moved second reading of Bill Pr70, An Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA ACT, 1990
Mr Runciman, on behalf of Mrs Marland, moved second reading of Bill Pr78, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
EMPIRE CLUB FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Mr Miller, on behalf of Mr Polsinelli, moved second reading of Bill Pr87, An Act to revive The Empire Club Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWN OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE ACT, 1990
Mr Dietsch moved second reading of Bill Pr88, An Act respecting the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ST GEORGE’S SOCIETY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Reville moved second reading of Bill Pr90, An Act respecting St George’s Society of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY ACT, 1990
Mrs E. J. Smith, on behalf of Mr Kozyra, moved second reading of Bill Pr92, An Act respecting the City of Thunder Bay.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
DINORWIC METIS CORPORATION ACT, 1990
Ms Oddie Munro, on behalf of Mr Miclash, moved second reading of Bill Pr93, An Act to revive Dinorwic Metis Corporation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF KINGSTON AND TOWNSHIPS OF KINGSTON, PITTSBURGH AND ERNESTOWN ACT, 1990
Mr Keyes moved second reading of Bill Pr97, An Act respecting the City of Kingston and the townships of Kingston, Pittsburgh and Ernestown.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOBACCO TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Daigeler, on behalf of Mr Mancini, moved second reading of Bill 160, An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act.
Mr Daigeler: This bill, entitled An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act, implements two major initiatives announced in the Treasurer’s budgets of April 1988 and April 1990.
The first is the tobacco marking program, which is designed to reduce and eliminate the sale of illicit, untaxed cigarettes in this province. The marking program places strict guidelines on those who import and export cigarettes and on retailers. Under this program, cigarette packages, cartons and cases available for sale in Ontario will now be required to display the Ontario tax identification mark. The only exceptions are cigarettes sold to status Indians on reserves, to diplomats or for export. All others must include a special indicator showing that the tax has been paid on the product.
This bill outlines the regulations and guidelines for the marking initiative. The program itself was put into practice on 1 March 1990, when manufacturers began marking cigarettes, and will reach full implementation at the retail level by 1 November 1990.
The tobacco marking program requires all Ontario manufacturers, importers, exporters and wholesalers to be registered in order to deal in tobacco products. Failure to register will result in strict penalties.
This bill will also simplify and streamline the reporting system for tobacco wholesalers and manufacturers.
In the April 1990 budget the Treasurer announced a second initiative, a rate increase on cigarettes and cut tobacco. The estimated revenue increase in 1990-91 due to the new tobacco tax rate is $158 million. The introduction of the cigarette marking program should also generate additional revenues.
I look forward to comments from my colleagues and passage of the bill.
Mr Laughren: The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and I do wish to express the opposition view on this, and I appreciate the parliamentary assistant’s comments and the fact that he is acting out his role as an extension of the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Revenue.
Hon Mr Sorbara: That’s not fair and untrue; you know that, Floyd.
Mr Laughren: I think we all know that there is a very effective bureaucracy in the Ministry of Revenue and their political role is played out in here by the minister and his parliamentary assistant. I think that is perfectly normal. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and I were just talking about that and how that seems to be the case in this government. However, I do not want to be petty and that has got nothing to do with the bill that is before us.
This bill, as the parliamentary assistant indicated, raises the tax on cigarettes and of course, subsequently, the price.
There is something unusual about this bill, because it is not simply an increase in the price of cigarettes. It does one other thing as well. It increases the price of cut tobacco more than it increases the price of the cigarettes that you buy, a much more substantial increase in the price of cut tobacco, which is the tobacco that comes in the package or the can and which people then roll their own cigarettes from. I found it interesting that people who want to save money on cigarettes and use the cut tobacco now save no money at all when they buy cut tobacco in terms of taxes because the taxes are the same on the two products.
I was comparing the rate of taxes in Ontario with other provinces. If you look at the tax on a package of cigarettes, Ontario is the second lowest in Canada for tax per cigarette. In Prince Edward Island, the provincial tax is 7 cents per cigarette; in Nova Scotia, 6.8 cents; in New Brunswick, 6.79 cents; in Saskatchewan, 6.68 cents; in the Northwest Territories, 6.6 cents; in Manitoba, 6.5 cents; in British Columbia, 6.2 cents; in Alberta, 5.6 cents; in Quebec, 5.52 cents; in Newfoundland, 5.28 cents; in Ontario, 4.83 cents, with this legislation; and in the Yukon, 3.2 cents. So Ontario is the second from the bottom in the taxation of cigarettes.
If you turn now to cut tobacco, you will see that Ontario, with this very substantial increase in the tax on cut tobacco, is the second highest. Why would the government see it as being fair to have a tax per cigarette being the second lowest in the land and on cut tobacco the second highest? It is as though they are out to punish those people who try to save some money to roll their cigarettes rather than buying the finished product, the finished cigarette.
I am not opposed to this bill. I support the principle of this bill, which is to increase the tax on cigarettes. I want to make that clear. But I do find it passing strange the way the government has decided to increase substantially the tax on cut tobacco and to move itself up to second place.
Just as an example -- I will not read all the numbers -- the highest tax per gram of cut tobacco in the land is in Nova Scotia at 5.25 cents, then comes Ontario at 4.83 cents, whereas the bottom of the scale, Yukon, has 1.14 cents. So there is a very substantial difference in the taxes that are applied to both cut tobacco and to finished cigarettes. I hope that when the parliamentary assistant responds at the conclusion of the debate, he will tell us what prompted that increase.
I know it equalizes the tax on the cigarettes. If you have a 4.83 cent tax on a cigarette, then 4.83 cent per gram is what it takes to make a cigarette when you roll your cigarette. That is how I understand the tax so that it is equal, that for the same number of cigarettes you pay the same amount of tax. But historically it has been the case that there was a nod towards those people who felt they could save some money if they rolled their own cigarettes. This is no longer the case and the government has decided that whether you roll your own or buy the finished product, you should pay an identical tax. I would be interested in knowing what the government’s thinking on that was.
I would be interested in hearing from the member for Norfolk as well, who I know has an abiding interest in the taxation of tobacco products: he is a member who has represented his constituency remarkably well over the years in making representation to government.
As I said earlier, we are going to support this bill because I think most people regard it as a legitimate source of taxation. The only other thing I would comment on, and it is not precisely in this bill, has to do with the assistance to tobacco farmers who want to get into some other business. Society is frowning on smoking because of health reasons, and if smoking does decline in the years ahead, and most of us hope it does, then I think we have to be more aware of the problems of the tobacco farmers.
It is not as easy as simply saying, “Switch to peanuts in your growing, or switch to some other crop.” It is much more complex than that. You cannot just turn one kind of soil over to another crop with the snap of your fingers. I think this government has not been fair in aiding tobacco farmers in switching to another product on their land. The last number I saw was in the 1987 budget. A commitment of $15 million to the tobacco assistance program was announced. That was back in 1987 and it became a joint program with the federal government. Then in the 1989 budget it talked about a $40-million joint extension of the tobacco exit assistance program. So there has been some growth in the assistance to tobacco farmers.
I do not think it is enough. I think this is one of those examples where if a government wanted to put a surtax on cigarettes and apply that surtax to the assistance of tobacco farmers, the public at large would accept that. But it has not done that. It has simply put another tax on cigarettes and thrown the revenues into the consolidated revenue fund and then it expects the tobacco farmers somehow to switch to another product with virtually no assistance from government.
Governments are part of a program out there to discourage people from smoking. I think they then have an obligation to encourage and assist tobacco farmers to switch to another product. I do not see the government doing that in a very serious way. I would be interested in knowing what the government’s plans are in that regard. I do not think it is fair to separate the taxation of the product and the publicity against smoking from the problems of tobacco farmers. I think the government has an obligation to do that.
The last numbers I saw in that program to help tobacco farmers switch were that 573 farmers had been paid some kind of assistance, 50 applications for assistance were pending and were somewhere in the process, and 550 were still on the waiting list. I would ask the parliamentary assistant how he justifies hanging those 550 people out to dry, as it were, if we have a program. Either the government wants people to switch to other products or it does not. I do not think it is appropriate where we have as many people on the waiting list as have been provided with assistance under the program for tobacco farmers. I think that is inappropriate.
I believe over 7,000 acres have been taken out of production. I do not know what proportion of the total amount of land dedicated to tobacco growing that represents but, if the parliamentary assistant has that information, I would be interested in that as well.
I will conclude my remarks by saying that we do indeed intend to support this bill, but I would appreciate some of those answers from the parliamentary assistant, who is a very able extension of his bureaucracy.
Mr Villeneuve: I will only participate for a few moments. I know time is of the essence today.
It is always interesting to see the government going after tobacco farmers and charging consumers more for the product they use. I realize that using tobacco is considered to be a sin, and of course the sin taxes get piled on, but I find it amazing that in one year this government goes after more than $180 million from one sector of agriculture and then makes a big to-do about the fact that it is supporting interest rates to the tune of $48 million over one year. We still do not know how this particular program is going to be put forth, but we do know there was a great deal of fanfare made of $48 million. The other side of the equation is that they are going to a small sector of the agricultural community and collecting $182 million over a full year through this particular bill, with the increase in cost of tobacco and tobacco products.
The particular area of concern was touched on by my colleague who spoke immediately before me in that we have to find alternative crops for our tobacco-producing sector of the economy in southwestern Ontario. Tobacco rights have been reduced very considerably over the past number of years. We can grow the crop; we just do not have the demand. We have to be exporting the product and I believe we are looking into that. However, it is always of great concern to me when $48 million is added with a great deal of fanfare, noise and announcements while on the other side they go after $182 million a year from one of the sectors in the agricultural spectrum that is having a great deal of difficulty surviving.
In conclusion, I say this government should be ashamed when on the one hand all it can provide is interest relief to the tune of $48 million and on the other hand it is going after $182 million from a small sector of the agricultural economy.
Mr Miller: I am pleased to rise this morning and participate in the debate on Bill 160, an act to increase the tobacco tax for the province of Ontario. As one who represents the riding of Norfolk, and perhaps 80% of the tobacco that is grown in Ontario and Canada, I feel very strongly that I should speak out on behalf of that part of our agricultural economy.
The member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry says it is a sin to smoke. Well, I smoke. I do not know if I am sinning or not, but I do not think it is a sin. It is a legal product and I think it is a matter of choice if we get satisfaction from utilizing tobacco. It has been utilized for thousands of years by the choice of each individual.
The thing that really concerns me, and has been expressed to me many times by the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council and the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board, is that we are competing with our friends to the south under the free trade agreement that has been brought forward. We either can produce what we utilize here ourselves or we can wipe our farmers out and import it from across the border.
The thing that really bothers them is the fact that our tax has put us in a position where cigarettes and tobacco are twice as expensive in Canada, and I am speaking of Canada now because I know the member for Nickel Belt indicated that we have the second-lowest tax in Canada. I am pleased to know that, but the thing is the difference between Canada and the United States.
Free trade is here, our border is long and the level of Canadian taxes on tobacco products versus those of the United States, our major competitor, lends itself to smuggling, which is costing the government substantial losses each year. A criminal element is being born which will eventually have to be dealt with by the governments involved. I think this bill is trying to deal with that element. That is the concern that has been expressed to me by the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board and by the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, and I want to make sure that all members of this Legislature are aware of that.
I see our friend the member for Carleton has just come into the House, and I know he wants to enter into the debate because he would like to tell me if I can or cannot smoke. The member for Carleton is not going to be able to do that, I am sorry. I think I am able to make that judgement myself, and I think that people around the province should be able to make that judgement. I am not promoting, but I feel strongly in that regard. We have too many people indicating that we should do this and do that. I think we have to make those choices.
Education plays an important role, and it is being done within the education system. I think that is good for health, and the Ministry of Health is carrying that out at the present time for a healthier lifestyle. I support that principle. But again, the tax itself, where we are doubling the price of our Canadian product versus that of our American friends to the south, lends itself to smuggling. Big money can be made from it very easily and I think we have to take those things into consideration.
Mr Sterling: I would be remiss if I did not make a few comments on something like this. I have been talking about the use of tobacco and particularly the addictive nature of tobacco, and therefore I disagree very strongly with the statement of the member for Nortolk with regard to my concern about telling other people whether they should smoke or not.
I have never suggested in this Legislature that anybody should not be permitted to take tobacco if they so desire. I do very much object to the right of other people to pollute the environment for non-smokers by the use of tobacco. I believe this is a principle which has now been embodied in some way in legislation and certainly has been accepted by society as not being fair to people who do not want to inhale second-hand smoke, which not only causes discomfort but also causes disease.
We are still losing about 35 people every day in this province because of smoking, both firsthand and secondhand smoke. In other words, 35 people are dying directly because of that, and they are dying prematurely by seven or eight years. That is the unfortunate part of tobacco. It is a proven scientific fact that this is resulting from that habit.
As I have travelled this road in dealing with this whole issue, I have asked the Treasurer for higher tobacco taxes because it is also a proven fact that with higher tobacco taxes you discourage young people from smoking; they have less disposable income. Therefore, it has been proven time and time again that as you increase the price of cigarettes, fewer young people take up the habit.
One of the fallacies, of course, and one of the things that we must teach our young people, is that while they may choose to smoke the first, second, third or maybe even the 25th time, it eventually becomes a very heavy addiction, an addiction which, according to the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, is even more addictive than the addiction to alcohol by people who are addicted to that particular habit.
I have also said, during the last five years in which I have talked on this particular subject, that this government has done precious little to protect those who have been involved in the production of tobacco and tobacco products. I believe that at this time they are providing something like $3 million in the buyout program, whereas our federal government, the government that this Liberal provincial government dumps on, is providing three, four, five times that amount of money to help buy out tobacco producers in southwestern Ontario. While the member for Norfolk is very sensitive to the issue of tobacco producers, his government has done nothing, effectively nothing, to help out the situation, even though this very tax is going to raise significant amounts of money.
I have said that we should impose a tax of 10 cents per package and give it all to the producers. Let’s buy them out once and for all, even if we have to pay them two times the market value of their farms, in order to buy off that particular concern.
I understand it is a way of life as well but, unfortunately, the product of that way of life provides disease and death as a result of the use of that particular matter.
This government has said before that it is not only the producers who must be protected but also the communities that have relied on the wealth that the tobacco industry has enjoyed in the past. We must give those communities some help from the substantial tobacco revenue which we collect in this province. We should also provide retraining, not only for tobacco farmers but also for people who work in the plants that produce tobacco products.
I have no qualms in supporting this particular tobacco tax. I do have qualms about how they are spending the revenues they are collecting. They are not helping out the people who are being affected by the drop in the use of tobacco in Canada. They are not helping out the tobacco farmers, which they should be, and they should be ashamed of their efforts in this regard. They have done precious little to address the real problem and the plight of the tobacco farmers in southwestern Ontario.
My party, if we were given the privilege of governing in this province again, would be certain to deal with that in a direct, forthright and fair manner, which this government has not done.
Mr Tatham: I would just like to say that some people enjoy a smoke and, unless you are going to make tobacco illegal, I would like to think the people who supply the tobacco should be growing it in Ontario.
I would like to point out that under the tobacco assistance program since 1987 up to 7 February 1990, 474 growers have exited tobacco production, representing 38 million pounds in quota. The federal and Ontario governments cost-shared a $30-million, three-year program beginning in the 1986-87 fiscal year and expiring 31 March 1989.
I have dealt with some of these people and assisted them where possible, and I understand there is no help for the tobacco industry, but certainly our government is endeavouring to look after the tobacco farmers.
Mr Laughren: Very briefly, the one addition I would make to the member for Carleton’s comments, and the member for Oxford touched on it, would be that it is not simply the farmers who can be badly hurt when there is dislocation in the industry but also the producers, the ones who actually manufacture the cigarettes, and there are lots of people in that industry. That is why I think there needs to be a substantial increase in the amount of assistance, not just to farmers but to people in the manufacturing end of the tobacco business as well if they go out of that business.
Mr Miller: I would like to make a couple of comments on the remarks of the member for Carleton. There is a program that has been put in place to assist the farmers, as the member for Oxford pointed out, plus the alternative crop team that was established to do exactly what the member was indicating.
There are other programs to re-educate and to retrain, and many of the people in the industry have taken advantage of it, both husbands and wives, and they have been able to start afresh, but it has not been easy. I will be the first one to acknowledge that. But our government has been responsive in trying to assist, along with our federal friends. I am not saying that there has not been co-operation. It takes both areas of government.
As the member pointed out, $30 million was put into a fund from 1986 to 1989. Another $10 million was put in this last year to give assistance if there are more farmers who should and want to exit the trade. I think the bottom line is that if the production gets down too low, then the buyers will not come to do the buying. You do not have enough choices and that has to be a concern.
Do we want to really have an industry long term? The strategy we have been utilizing in trying to assist is to maintain a long-term industry which has been so important, not only to the economy of my area but to Canada generally. It is one of the third or fourth crops that produces the most dollar return of any crop in Canada. So it is important.
Again, I do not think that we want to import, that this is the intention of the third party, to say we should knock it off and import everything. That is fine, but I am going to support my farmers in what we can grow here and in what we can make a dollar on.
Mr Villeneuve: Just a very short comment is that the present amount of money taken in by the total taxes on tobacco and tobacco products in Ontario is well above double the entire budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, that of operating the ministry, paying all the salaries and the support programs for agriculture. It is an absolute disgrace when the tax that is taken in on tobacco is literally double the entire budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. I want to put that on the record.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the member wish to respond?
Mr Sterling: Yes, I would like to respond very briefly. I noticed that two Liberal government backbenchers who talked on this subject studiously avoided telling this Legislative Assembly how much in actual dollars this government has given to the tobacco buyout program. Why? Because they would be embarrassed to compare their share of that program with the federal government’s share of this program.
Mr Furlong: Oh, come on.
Mr Sterling: It is true. The provincial government has been a penny-pincher in terms of helping out the tobacco industry in this province. It has done nothing to help them out in effect. It is the federal government that has helped out the tobacco farmers in this province.
We feel that if we are setting a goal to reduce the smokers in this province by one half -- that is what the Liberal Minister of Health has said -- if we are going to cut down the market for the tobacco farmers and for the people who are working in the tobacco industry in the plants, then we should be darned well willing to go out and help those people.
We are today voting for a bill where we are going to increase revenue substantially, I believe by some $180 million. I am just asking that the Treasurer give at least 10% of that back to the tobacco farmers so we can buy up the many farms. There are more farmers wanting to get out and, because the program has not been funded by this government, they cannot be bought out.
Mr Runciman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to point out that the member for High Park-Swansea was heckling from a seat other than his own.
The Deputy Speaker: Interjections are never in order no matter which seat they are from.
Do other members want to participate in the debate? If not, does the parliamentary assistant wish to wind up?
Mr Daigeler: Yes, thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for what I thought was a rather philosophical debate at times on a bill that is essentially a revenue bill.
I was a bit disappointed that no one made mention of the other aspect of this bill relating to the cigarette marketing program, which is a very important initiative. In fact, it implements a recommendation from one of our standing committees, the standing committee on public accounts, which very strongly urged us to make sure there is no smuggling and no unfair taking advantage of a tax benefit by certain people in the province.
However, with regard to the increase in the tax rate, the member for Nickel Belt to a certain extent answered his own question as to why the cut tobacco prices rose quite a bit more than the price on cigarettes. If he wants the philosophical reason, I think it is quite clear that it would be relatively easy, especially for young people, to switch from the packaged cigarettes to rolling their own cigarettes if the uncut tobacco were not at the same price as the packaged cigarettes. I think that is the main reason why the Treasurer felt, and I think rightly so, that the price of the uncut tobacco should be the same as that of the cut tobacco or packaged cigarettes.
With regard to the tobacco farmers, the member for Carleton was indicating that he is so proud of the contribution of the federal government. He was talking about three, four or five times the amount that is being put in by the Ontario government. The reality is that it is less than two times. I acknowledge that but, after all, it is the federal government; it has so much more money than we have in the province.
During 1988-89 the government of Ontario provided $3.5 million in assistance to tobacco growers and, as he indicated, a further $6.5 million was provided by the federal government. That is not anywhere near three, four or five times the amount that the member for Carleton was talking about.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Daigeler: The member for Carleton probably will advocate in future an even higher tax increase, but I should also indicate that, in comparison to the other provinces, we are still at the relatively lower end of taxation for tobacco products; so there is certainly room in that regard to move.
I am aware that there is assistance for tobacco farmers. We agree with the members who have spoken that we support an orderly transition for tobacco farmers into another product. In fact, in the last year, the tobacco farmers in the province were producing to the limit of their ability. We are working with the tobacco industry and with the tobacco farmers to initiate a smooth transition to other products by the farmers and we have been very successful in this regard.
Finally, I wish to thank the member for Nickel Belt for his good comments about the Ministry of Revenue. I think he appreciates the briefings we have provided to him and I am glad he used the information that we gave him.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE OMBUDSMAN
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the recommendations contained in the 16th report (1988) of the standing committee on the Ombudsman.
Mr Velshi: I am pleased to participate in this debate as chairman of the standing committee on the Ombudsman. This report was tabled by me for adoption some time ago, some weeks back in this House. After long and thorough discussions by two standing committees and three ombudsmen, the report was finally prepared and approved unanimously by my committee.
I would like to thank all committee members, the Ombudsman and her staff, the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the staff of my committee for all their co-operation and support in this very long and trying affair of Farm Q Ltd.
Mr Charlton: Just very briefly, as the Chairman has implied, the issue of Farm Q has been outstanding now for some six or seven years. The committee’s recommendation will allow a mechanism to kick in to finally resolve this issue one way or the other. I would urge all members to support this report so that the gentleman in question can finally get some resolution to this issue.
Mr Sterling: I have had personal contact with the owner of Farm Q, who I think has been diddled around by this government for the past five years. Before that time, there was indecision on the part of the former government in dealing with this issue. I make no excuses for the former government. I do not make any excuses, of course, for this government as I am not a member of it.
I hope they will deal with this person in a fair and equal manner, that he will not be charged excessive amounts of money to go through the process and that the report will provide him with a recourse for what I feel was a great injustice on the part of government officials some time ago. We are fully supportive of setting up this arbitration process.
Motion agreed to.
House in committee of the whole.
ONTARIO HOME OWNERSHIP SAVINGS PLAN AMENDMENT ACT, 1988
Consideration of Bill 105, An Act to amend the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan Act, 1988.
Mr Daigeler: Mr Chairman, I wonder whether I may be permitted to move further down to the floor.
The Chair: Please go ahead. Will you require some staff? Staff will come forward.
Mr Laughren: I have no objection to the parliamentary assistant moving to another seat and having some officials assist him. It provides further evidence that this parliamentary assistant is not just an extension of his bureaucracy but indeed is indistinguishable from it.
The Chair: To recap, I have a list of three proposed government amendments, to section 5, section 12 and the change to the long title of the bill. Are there any other proposed amendments from anybody else?
Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Daigeler: Again I am subject to your ruling, Mr Chairman, but the minister already read that amendment into the record.
The Chair: I think you might want to do it again. The member for Carleton has a comment.
Mr Sterling: Yes. I was involved in the debate on this section last time on this matter and I had a question of the minister. The amendment to section 5, I believe, was put there basically in response to a concern by the New Democratic Party with regard to the conversion of rental property contrary to the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1989, or the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1986.
This act gives certain rights or benefits to prospective purchasers of real estate property. My concern here was, whom are we penalizing by putting this kind of section in place? It is my understanding from discussions with some of the staff from the Ministry of Revenue that in fact what we would be doing is penalizing a young couple who may have entered into an agreement of purchase and sale in order to buy a unit on the basis that they were going to receive the benefits of the program. Then they would be excluded from that right because something had taken place two years prior to their taking on this agreement and they would be left out in the cold as far as the benefits are concerned.
It would be nothing to do with their participation in the act of illegally converting a rental unit to a co-op unit or whatever might be the case. I had asked the minister to reconsider putting forward this amendment. The minister is not here today, but perhaps the parliamentary assistant could respond to that concern, because I am certain he is aware of it.
The Chair: Does the parliamentary assistant wish to respond?
Mr Daigeler: Yes, in fact I do have some comments on the remarks that were made the last time, but I would just like to be clear. Am I supposed to read the amendment again?
The Chair: I have on the record that we have read it.
Mr Daigeler: I am pleased to respond to some of the concerns that were raised the last time the bill was debated in the House. I understand first of all that the member for Nickel Belt had a few comments and he raised some questions with regard to this amendment to section 5. I personally feel it is the very intent that the member is putting forward which is being addressed by the amendment to section 5, because it ensures that only the homes which comply with the provisions of the Rental Housing Protection Act will be recognized for Ontario home ownership savings plan purposes.
The member for Nickel Belt really is concerned, not so much I think with the amendment but with clause 1(1)(ga) of the bill before the introduction of this amendment, because it does recognize a partial ownership in a multiresidential unit as an eligible home. However, this particular amendment does make sure that only such units as qualify and respect the Rental Housing Protection Act are recognized as eligible for OHOSP.
The Rental Housing Protection Act, 1989, protects the supply of rental housing in the province by setting stringent controls on conversions. I am sure the member will agree with this particular provision. All legal conversions require the approval process provided for by the Rental Housing Protection Act. This process involves, of course, application to municipal council, notices to tenants, public hearings on the application and possible appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. Therefore, I think it is highly unlikely -- I think this is the member’s fear -- that individuals would seek out and make application to convert an existing rental property simply to take advantage of OHOSP.
The member did ask also why Bill 105 refers to these conversion units at all. We feel that not to refer to these units would be ignoring reality. This type of ownership does exist and in many instances this type of ownership is found in some of the least costly types of housing. Again, I do think the member representing the official opposition should be supportive of that, which of course would be very attractive to first-time home buyers who might otherwise be unable to afford a home.
In addition, if we were not recognizing these ownership co-operatives under the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan Act, it would mean that individuals who presently own these units would not be considered to own a home for OHOSP purposes. In other words, this would mean that they could go to their financial institution and open an OHOSP to save towards the purchase of a first home when in fact they already own one. We feel that this would create a very inequitable situation and that is why we have included the partial ownership in condominiums in this bill.
The member for Carleton was wondering whether the amendment would penalize the first-time buyer or the converter, and obviously he is rightly concerned to protect the interests of the first-time buyer. But being a lawyer himself, the member for Carleton would know that we do hire lawyers, often at a considerable price, to ensure that the interests of the individuals are protected and that they would advise against a purchase which would be in contravention of any legislation. Any lawyer dealing with a purchase of this type should therefore be asking for evidence from the vendor that the creation of the unit complies with rental housing protection legislation.
If a purchaser does unknowingly enter into a purchase of a possibly illegally converted unit, he or she has the option of voiding the transaction and obtaining the return of any amount paid under the transaction. In addition, the Minister of Revenue has the discretion to not recover tax credits where OHOSP funds were used for the purchase of an illegally converted unit in special cases of hardship.
In addition, the member for Carleton raised the question of how the Ministry of Revenue would become aware of illegal conversions. First of all, I would like to inform the member that the OHOSP application form will be amended to include a consent for the Ministry of Revenue to release information on the application to the Ministry of Housing. We will then be able to provide Housing, which administers the Rental Housing Protection Act, with the details of any purchase which seems to be in contravention of that act.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Housing has provided us with a list of legal conversions which we can use to determine whether an OHOSP purchase involves an illegal conversion or not. Any purchase which appears to contravene the Rental Housing Protection Act will again be referred back to the Ministry of Housing. Where it is determined that the property has been illegally converted, the plan holder will be subject to tax credit recovery, plus interest.
I trust that at least in part these comments will answer the questions that were raised by the member of the opposition.
Mr Sterling: As I listened to the response, I do not know how many of these applications there are each year, but I imagine the number would be substantial. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant can tell me what he is expecting -- 10,000, 20,000?
Mr Daigeler: There are 40,000 plans opened a year.
Mr Sterling: There are 40,000 plans opened a year. Let’s say there would be less than that, but it seems to me that it would be not unreasonable to think that there might be 10,000 a year coming in. Let’s say there were 10,000 a year. That means the ministry is going to check the location of each of these particular applications, the unit they are buying, as against another list to determine whether they are buying a legally or illegally converted unit.
I know the intent of these two sections. The intent is to not allow someone who has illegally converted a unit to go out and tout these illegally converted units and use the government program as part of an additional sales tool. I think that is a noble goal to try to achieve. My concern, however, is that innocent purchasers are going to be caught by this rule and that no person who has illegally converted a unit is going to be caught in terms of a penalty that this is intended to provide.
The fact of the matter is that most lawyers practising real estate probably will not be involved in this process. First of all, usually the real estate agreement is signed without consultation with a lawyer. Second, the lawyers themselves will not have a list of illegally converted units in their offices. In other words, they will have no idea whether or not they comply with this legislation, even if a purchaser went to their offices and posed that question. Often a lawyer does not have any idea as to how the financing is going to take place in terms of tax relief and that kind of thing until well into the transaction.
I just think that, while the intent is well placed, it causes a bit of an administrative nightmare and it also is going to penalize some young couples who are going to be buying what would be termed an illegally converted unit without any real avenue for them to go down. I think you are just creating more problems than you are really solving here, that is all.
Mr Laughren: My problem with the argument of the member for Carleton is that the alternative to this is to leave it, which would allow, indeed, people who were purchasing an illegal conversion to receive government assistance. I do not think we can have it both ways in this.
I was concerned about this as well and I went to an acknowledged expert in this matter, David Warner, the former MPP for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who has always put the interests of tenants and taxpayers first in any of the judgements he has made. He tells me that we are better off with this amendment than we would be without it. When David Warner speaks on a matter of housing, I listen to him very carefully. As a matter of fact, I thought he was going to be here this morning in the gallery, but I gather he is out canvassing and knocking on doors and could not be here. But I did want to express my appreciation to the parliamentary assistant for bringing in this amendment. We shall support it.
Mr Daigeler: I would respond very briefly to the member for Carleton just to say that most of the applications we receive under OHOSP do come through the legal process and that most of the people do employ the services of a lawyer, so there should at least be that professional assistance.
The Chair: Are we ready for the vote?
Mr Laughren: As long as it is agreed that this is from now on to be known as the Dave Warner amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 6 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Daigeler moves that subsection 12(2) of the bill be amended by adding after “5(1)” in the second line “(1a).”
Mr Daigeler: Very quickly, the purpose of this amendment is simply to make the amendment that we have just adopted effective as of 8 June 1988.
Mr Laughren: This does make sense and I have no hesitation in supporting the Warner II amendment.
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant how many people will be asked for money back as a result of this amendment, in that it is retroactive. You are obviously going to go back if this is a problem. There are maybe 100 young couples who now are going to be asked for a considerable amount of money that has been paid to them by the Minister of Revenue, and I would just like to know what this is going to do to affect those young people.
Mr Daigeler: As the member for Nickel Belt has said earlier in the debate on a different item, the Ministry of Revenue, despite what some people might feel, does have an open heart and is sympathetic towards all taxpayers. Certainly there is no attempt to penalize people, especially young people, who through no fault of their own may be in a situation where they might have to pay something back.
So I am sure that, in his usual discretion, the Minister of Revenue will look at cases of that nature that may come up in a sympathetic fashion and one that is responsive to the interests of the whole province.
Mr Laughren: Once again, I would just like to say that I thought about that too. What if a couple had inadvertently got into a mess and it was through no fault of their own. They had already spent the money that they got through the program. Because I was concerned about that, I went and I asked David Warner what he thought about that and he said he thought that perhaps the Ministry of Revenue would use discretion in this matter and not try and penalize people who through no fault of their own purchased an illegally converted unit.
Mr Sterling: If the Minister of Revenue is as kind as he is, why would he make it retroactive? I mean, what is the purpose of making it retroactive? The people have bought these units now on the basis of the old rules. The old rules were that if you bought a unit, you were entitled to the program. Now we are saying, if you bought a year ago, you are not entitled to the program under these two conditions that, somehow somebody prior to your buying the unit had converted, not illegally but contrary to these other particular matters.
If there is goodness and kindness in the heart of the Minister of Revenue, why on earth make it retroactive? Why would we not put this in place as to when the people might at least have some chance of knowing what the law was? I find it very, very retrogressive in terms of the whole idea of saying to somebody, “You are entitled to a benefit, but the Legislature has now decided that you are not entitled to the benefit and we are going to go back and collect it from you.” We cannot support that kind of amendment.
Mr Daigeler: There is not only goodness in the heart of the Minister of Revenue; there is also fairness in the heart of the Minister of Revenue. Quite frankly, if we were to disregard the ownership of people up to now, they could apply for another Ontario home ownership savings plan and therefore would defeat the purpose of the program, so that is why this amendment will be retroactive.
Mr Sterling: People who have made the decision prior to this Legislature’s making this decision have made it on the basis of what the law was, and the law was that they were entitled to the program. So why should we in this Legislature say we have this idea now that we are going to make the law and therefore the plans of these young couples who have bought are dashed by this Legislature? I find that repulsive and, as I have said, we will not support that.
The Chair: All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
Section 13 agreed to.
The Chair: Is there a motion for the long title?
Mr Daigeler: This may be known as the Laughren amendment rather than the Warner amendment.
The Chair: Mr Daigeler moves that the long title of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“An Act to amend Certain Acts in relation to Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plans.”
Mr Daigeler: Again, in the goodness of our hearts, we are responding to a concern that has been expressed, this time not by Mr Warner but by the member for Nickel Belt, and I trust that will address his concern.
Mr Laughren: I do have a problem with this amendment. It only refers to one other act and that is the Sucession Law Reform Act. I wonder if there was some reason why the ministry did not name that other act and call it An Act to amend the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan and the Succession Law Reform Act.” At that point, it would seem to me those who are interested in these matters -- that does not include most of my constituents, but lots of people are -- when they read the bill, they would know exactly what two acts this piece of legislation was amending, namely, the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan Act and the Succession Law Reform Act.
Having said that, I do appreciate the way in which the ministry responded after only very gentle prodding from the Chair.
Motion agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
LIQUOR LICENCE ACT, 1990 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 175, An Act to revise the Liquor Licence Act and to amend the law relating to Liquor.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, with the indulgence of members of the committee, I would like to invite officials to join me and ask your permission to join them down in the front row.
The Chair: Please. All gather together at the front.
Ms Bryden: While we are waiting for the officials to appear, I would like to make a request to make a few general comments on the debate and on the amendments we seek, to refresh members’ memories as to what Bill 175 is all about.
Members will recall that second reading debate on Bill 175 started on 12 June and was continued on 18 June, and committee of the whole was just started on 12 June --
The Chair: Order, please. We were specifically discussing subsection 7(1) at this point.
Ms Bryden: That is right. That is what I wanted to say.
The Chair: That we were on subsection 7(1)?
Ms Bryden: No, I wanted to make an overview of what we were doing when we got to start at subsection 7(1), the reason being that this occurred on a most important day of the Legislature, the visit of Nelson Mandela. As a result, the committee of the whole stage was interrupted before it really got started. I would like to do maybe a five-minute overview of where we are at in the committee of the whole and what we are trying to do.
Hon Mr Sorbara: On a point of order. Mr Chairman: I think we have heard from the member for Beaches-Woodbine on the general thrust of the bill, both in second reading debate and when we began consideration. I would just point out to you, Mr Chairman, that her views are recorded in Hansard. They are eloquent and to the point of the bill. As we are on this final day of this session, I am not sure it is appropriate or in order that we have a general overview of the bill again. I just point out to you that we are considering an amendment to section 7, and I think it is appropriate to carry on with that amendment.
The Chair: I agree.
Ms Bryden: On a point of order --
The Chair: No, please. Usually, when members want to make a general statement they do it on section 1. Considering where we are at, this has had a chance to be done. We have already started discussion on amendments to section 7. I rule that we leave it to discuss section 7 and continue with the specifics. I am sorry but, with the time frame and whatever, we have lots of things to cover in committee of the whole. You had a chance to do it when we called for comments and questions on section 1. We are now on section 7.
Ms Bryden: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: There have been developments since 12 June on the Liquor Licence Act, and one of them is a decision by the tribunal on the application for a licensed premises in a provincial park. We have not discussed that at all. The printed decision of the tribunal was not available at that time. I think that is a relevant thing to discuss among the amendments I would like to see before our party can decide whether to vote for third reading on this.
Therefore, I wanted to list just a few amendments that I would like to see come in committee of the whole before we can decide whether to support third reading. It would not be a really lengthy overview, but a listing of the amendments we would like to see which have not been discussed and on which time did not permit discussion in the previous proceedings.
The Chair: Do you have some proposed amendments that you want to bring forward?
Ms Bryden: I do, but I am hoping the government will bring forward some of the others or will indicate a commitment.
The Chair: You cannot work on anticipation like that. I have asked, and I am ready to ask again, if any members, government or opposition, want to bring forward proposed amendments. If there are none, then we deal with the list that I have right now. I do have a list. Since we have already started debate on section 7, we will deal with section 7. If you want to make some general comments, then all members are invited at third reading to make those general comments.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, on the point of order and the request from the member for Beaches-Woodbine: I understand her desire to put some further thoughts before this committee, and I think probably that is possible. She is suggesting about five minutes of comments. I have no problem with that. Probably, as an experienced parliamentarian, she can craft those remarks within the context of the amendment that is before the House.
I want to reiterate that I look forward to hearing from her. I hope, as this is our last day and there is a lot of work to cover, she will restrict herself to the section generally that we are considering, but I would not want to interfere with her ability to make a point or two while she is considering that section.
The Chair: If you are saying that restricting herself to the section we are discussing -- we are discussing amendments to section 7. I have asked the member before if it was to section 7; it was to be general. Now, this is not compatible with what we have decided.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am in your hands, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: Let’s discuss section 7 and continue the discussion we had started on section 7, the proposed amendments that you, Minister, had already moved. Any further discussion on section 7?
Ms Bryden: The amendment to section 7 put forward by the government is to elaborate the point about public notice of an application for a liquor licence. I think the minister or the government was recognizing that on second reading there were a considerable number of complaints that under the act as proposed, it was all to be done by prescription; that is, under the regulations section the government was to set forth all the requirements for public hearings and all the requirements for advertising, notifying the public, clarifying the legislation and telling the public what its rights to be consulted would be on applications for liquor licences.
This is certainly one of the very substantive sections of the bill and one of the amendments that we will use as a criterion whether to support this bill on third reading or not. In my opinion, the government’s proposal is a completely inadequate response to the comments we made about the need for involving the public in the future in being able to discuss and appear at public hearings for applications for liquor licences.
The reason it is completely inadequate is that it simply adds one little phrase that says that when an application is received, the board shall advertise the application “(a) in the prescribed manner in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality, and (b) in any other manner that is prescribed.” So virtually the whole thing is still left to prescription by regulation.
One of my main complaints about this act is that the regulations section is so sweeping and all-encompassing; that is, section 62, which is the regulations section, enumerates 35 areas which may be decided by regulations, and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, namely, the cabinet, is given almost unlimited power to rewrite the act, make exemptions and issue advertising guidelines.
With this kind of regulations section, this becomes government not by legislation but by a provincially appointed special purpose board, the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, which will be able to completely control the licensing of liquor outlets and the regulation, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in this province. The liquor licence board is not really accountable to anyone except through the minister to whom it reports in the Legislature. But I do not recall very many times when we had hearings on the activities of the liquor licence board.
This is one of the reasons I wanted to say that there are several amendments we are looking for in this process of committee of the whole, and one of them is to limit the regulatory power. But another one is to spell out more precisely what the terms are under which the public will be notified of public hearings, because under the act it simply says that when a hearing is requested, a member of the board, a single member of the board, may decide to issue a licence, or if he receives at least one objection. may decide to hold a hearing or may request a review.
There is nothing in the act that says what happens when he requests a review, nothing that says whom he has to notify, nothing that says anything about further advertisements, nothing that mentions, actually, that in a big city like Toronto there should be at least two newspapers used for an ad. There is nothing spelled out about what the member of the board who has this application before him will do when he conducts a review. This, it seems to me, is a complete destruction of the whole system of public hearings that we have had and leaves the public completely in the dark as to what will actually happen when a liquor application is received.
There is a further item that I think I mentioned in my second reading speech, but which is not dealt with at all in this act, and that is where we would also like a further amendment saying that applications for transfers of licences should be notified to the public, and public hearings held if requested. Where it is a substantial transfer of the licence, the public should know about it.
I know that they are supposed to be notified under the present act if there is a substantial increase in the number of seats requested, but this act is even silent on that subject and just simply ignores the whole question of transfers of licences. So that would be another amendment that would be part of our criteria for supporting or voting against this bill, that there should be a guarantee that transfers of licences will be subject to notice and public hearings.
As a criterion for deciding on whether to grant applications, the act does retain the statement that the board or the member of the board will decide whether the application is “in the public interest having regard to the needs and wishes of the residents of the municipality in which the premises are located.”
There is no definition in the act of that term. It is presumably left entirely up to the board member deciding on the application whether that has been met. There is not even a requirement that they should consult the municipality or the public as to what their wishes and needs are. I think that is really the crux of the whole abdication of public consultation and the concern of the public about the effects of liquor licences in their neighbourhood, in their area, on their lifestyle. So that is another area where I would like to see an amendment in committee of the whole as we proceed.
I would also like to get a commitment somewhere in the act that the advertising guidelines that have been issued already, in the spring, should be subject to public review by a standing or select committee to ensure that they do not condone sexist advertising or lifestyle advertising that puts liquor consumption as part of all activities -- recreational, leisure and sports activities.
Instead, we should have advertising of liquor which accepts the use of liquor by responsible adults, but which does not indicate that your lifestyle is incomplete if you do not include the consumption of liquor in all activities. That is a fourth amendment I would like to see included in the committee of the whole report. If I do not see any indication from the minister that he might be committed to having a review by a standing or select committee of those advertising guidelines before they are finally adopted under the new act, then we will be very reluctant to support this bill.
A fifth one is in regard to the regulations and the regulatory power, which is so great. It is that the government should adopt a notice and comment policy regarding regulations. This means that all regulations should be published in advance of adoption by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and there should be an opportunity for the public to comment on those regulations.
This procedure is carried out with a great many other regulations, particularly ones affecting the environment, where the public is invited to comment on the effects of liquor. At the moment there is nothing in this act that would suggest that the literally thousands of regulations that are authorized under this act will have any prepublication or notice and comment opportunities.
Those are the amendments that I am particularly looking for. There is one final one. There is nothing in the act that recognizes that abuse of alcohol and alcoholic beverages is the cause of many serious health, social and family problems. Alcoholism is often the cause of wife battering and child abuse. It is the cause of many auto accidents, as we all know, and it is the cause of boating accidents and some drownings.
There is no recognition in the act that the proliferation of outlets leads to increases in consumption of alcohol. There is no recognition that it leads to increases in all of the health, social and transportation problems we face. There is no recognition that the fallout from abuse of alcohol or alcoholism leads to tremendous extra costs in our OHIP system, hospitals, courts, policing and our welfare system.
I think it is irresponsible of this Legislature to adopt a new system for regulating the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages without recognizing those very serious costs that may arise from the proliferation of outlets and without including in its legislation some steps to study the effects of proliferation and to make an in-depth study of the extra costs arising from the proliferation of outlets. That is another area where we would have liked to have seen further legislation.
Mr Chairman, I thank you for giving me the time to make this comment on subsection 7(1). I would still like to ask the minister, where are the draft regulations that will go with this bill? That is part of my point, that we have not seen them yet. With regard to subsection 7(1), we will vote for it as a first and timid step in the direction of public notice, but we consider it completely inadequate and we have an amendment of our own that is much more comprehensive, which I think and hope the government will also adopt.
Motion agreed to.
The Acting Chair (Mr Polsinelli): The Chair has been given notice of another amendment to section 7 from the New Democratic Party.
Ms Bryden moves that subsections la and lb be added to section 7 as follows:
“la. The board shall distribute written notice to all residential and business premises within a 500-metre radius of the site of the premises seeking such a 1icence at least three weeks prior to consideration of the application.
“lb. Such notice shall specify the type of licence sought, the number of spaces applied for and the maximum hours of operation allowed under such licence. It shall also specify whether patio, boulevard café or adult entertainment licences are being applied for by the applicant. It shall also clearly indicate that if at least one written objection is received from a resident of the municipality, a public meeting shall be held. At least three weeks prior to the date of the meeting, the time and place shall be advertised in at least two newspapers in the municipality if it has more than one newspaper; and written notice shall be sent to all residential and business premises within a 500-metre radius of the site of the premises.”
Ms Bryden: Members will notice that this requires notice at least three weeks prior to consideration of the applicant. I think that should be an essential part of the bill so that the residents concerned and affected by any liquor licence application in their neighbourhood will have adequate time to become aware of the application, to learn about the details of the application and to possibly organize with their neighbours a lobby group or a group of people to demand a public hearing, to start with, and then to attend it, but you need at least three weeks prior to consideration of the application.
A similar notice should apply to a decision of the board to hold a review of the application, and the nature of the review should be advertised, as well as the time at which the public would have an opportunity to discuss the application and what is being requested.
Members will notice also that under clause 7(1)(b) the notices should specify the type of licence sought, the number of spaces applied for and the maximum hours of operation. These hours of operation are really crucial to the neighbourhood, because when you have licensed premises that close at the normal closing hour under the present law of 1 am, you do have great disruption of the neighbourhood at the time when the patrons come out between 1 and 2, often somewhat noisy, often starting cars up at that late hour and generally waking people up. In my opinion, the hours of operation of any licensed premises adjacent to a residential neighbourhood, particularly along commercial strips that abut right on residential neighbourhoods, should be limited to 11 pm so that the sleep of the residents is not disturbed.
Patio licences, boulevard cafés and adult entertainment licences should also be notified to the residents, because they can change the nature of the neighbourhood considerably. I certainly think that adult entertainment licences should be confined to commercial streets not abutting on residential neighbourhoods and should be limited in their number because of the problems that arise from them in the way of parking and noise from the actual entertainment, as well as noise from the patrons when they come out. Also, members have to remember that some of the patrons misbehave when they do come out, leave litter, use the neighbouring lawns for other purposes and generally can create a very substantial nuisance to the neighbourhood unless they are controlled.
In my own area, patio licences on the premises of the restaurant are outlawed in a certain area unless they are limited. They are completely outlawed in the area between Woodbine and Victoria Park. This was due to a city hall bylaw being passed to say that new patios were really completely incompatible with a residential neighbourhood and made too much noise and disturbance in the summer particularly.
The Liquor Licence Board of Ontario has in the past been licensing patios for applications in this area and then saying, “Let the city turn them down, because they are outlawed by this bylaw.” I think the liquor licence board should not license the patios in the first place, because it can easily ascertain that there is a bylaw forbidding such patios and therefore it is simply wasting the time of people inviting them to come to a public hearing about a patio when the patio is illegal from the start. They should wait until the city has changed that bylaw and allowed patios before they would even consider licensing a patio in the area.
Boulevard cafés can also cause nuisance and noise, and maybe the sidewalks are not big enough to accommodate them, but again I think you should leave it to the municipality to license such cafés. Then the applicant should have to come to the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario for licensing as well, but it should not license it in advance of the decision by the city.
If this amendment is adopted. we would have a more streamlined system of public consultation, but it would be one in which the public has an opportunity to make its concerns known to the liquor board and there would be adequate advertising.
In the past, the liquor board had adopted the practice of posting on the premises a notice that a liquor licence had been applied for. This actually stems from the days when Frank Drea was the chairman; a group of citizens in my area got from him an agreement that such posting would be required, but it was never written into the law. It is not a very good way of indicating to the local residents that a liquor application has been made. It does not usually give many details about the type of application, the number of seats and so on, but also it is not always noticeable. Even if it is posted, sometimes it is put behind a bush.
Under this amendment we would require that all residential and business premises within a 500-metre radius of the site of the premises seeking a licence should receive notice at least three weeks prior to consideration of the application.
This is a perfectly reasonable request. It is done by the municipalities in many cases for zoning bylaw changes and for other city initiatives that may affect the residents. I see no reason why it should not be done by the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, which is dealing with a matter which can affect their lifestyle greatly. The neighbours may have reasons why they think it is not in the public interest to have a liquor licence in an area that is close to a school or a child’s park or even in a city park, which was one of the issues in my riding recently.
Actually, that issue was debated before the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal. They did get a fair hearing from the tribunal, which they would not get under the amendments that are before us that are to eliminate appeal to the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal and rely only on the Divisional Court. It is certainly not fair, and also it puts the residents at a great disadvantage.
The Divisional Court route is much more expensive, has a much longer delay, and it can also only discuss matters of law or procedure and not whether it is in the public interest to have a liquor licence granted. So it is not an adequate trade-off to say the Divisional Court can deal with it. The Divisional Court can deal with almost any public agency or body which makes rules for the public. It is used very little by many of the residents’ associations because they cannot afford it.
This amendment would require at least adequate notice and a chance for the residents to go to or write to the liquor board and tell it why it is not in the public interest.
Mind you, we do object to the fact that the liquor board does not consider parking as part of its concern. In this day and age, to ignore parking or say that the municipalities can manage the parking problems associated with the proliferation of outlets is simply ridiculous. We have had to have a tow-away zone around the racetrack for two or three years, and around some of the liquor establishments in our area, simply because the increased traffic and the increased parking from the proliferation of restaurants and liquor outlets has made it impossible to operate on Queen Street without a tow-away zone.
The liquor board must consider things like parking, lifestyle, the effect on children from the proximity of so many liquor outlets and the general problem of whether proliferation of outlets does increase the use and the abuse of liquor.
I would urge the government to adopt my amendment as a further step simply to fulfil its obligation to give the public an opportunity to be heard and consulted and not to shut that door completely, as it has really done by its present section, even as amended by the amendment we just passed.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 8 to 61, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Sorbara moves that paragraph 24 of subsection 62(1) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(24) Authorizing the board to approve training courses for the service or delivery of liquor.”
Hon Mr Sorbara: In response to opposition suggestions, we have included that training courses be prescribed for those who apply successfully for a licence to deliver liquor in the province.
Ms Bryden: I appreciate the gesture in the amendment by the minister and the government to recognize that we do need training courses for the people who serve the customers and who will be expected to cut them off if they no longer should be served and who will understand that people who are being served should be urged to have either a designated driver with them or make other plans when they leave to go home by taxi or public transit and not to drive their cars. I hope that the training courses would improve the appreciation of the servers of their responsibility to see that they do not contribute either to auto accidents or to the increase in alcoholism by serving more drinks than are allowed at one time and things of that sort.
As far as extending this amendment also to the taxi firms which will be licensed to deliver alcohol, while we will support the amendment, we think it is entirely the wrong approach to be encouraging consumption of liquor after hours by delivery by taxi. It seems to me that is what that service will be used for mostly, after-hours service. The liquor stores are open a considerable number of hours, in the big metropolitan areas certainly, and in most big cities. People should be able to look after their needs even up to 10 or 11 say or whatever hours they keep. To encourage taxi drivers to get involved in this side business of delivery of liquor seems to me opening the way for putting the taxi drivers into the liquor sales business and could also lead to some risk for them if people think that they are on liquor deliveries or have liquor on board, and I think it is an entirely wrong move.
It does not mean that I object to the extension of delivery of liquor through agencies, particularly in remote areas where there are insufficient liquor stores or insufficient agency stores. I think special rules need to be made for the underserviced communities in the province. I think they should have the same right to purchase liquor as other people, and to purchase it under conditions where it will not be consumed off the premises of the purchaser, but I think that this regulation about allowing it to all taxis that are approved by the liquor licence board is much too wide. It would be nice if they were perhaps required to publish a list of which firms are approved and what sort of requirements they make for regulating the deliveries and the terms under which they are delivered and for ensuring the safety of the taxi drivers.
I think this amendment is a useful one, but it does not nearly answer my requests for many other amendments in the act, and I am disappointed that we have already got up to the second last section without some of the other areas that I have mentioned being considered by the minister. I think he has in effect told us that he is not interested in my amendments, particularly about the study of the effect of the proliferation of outlets on our health costs and on our policing costs and on our highway costs. I wish he would perhaps comment under this section as to why he has not considered any other amendments along the lines that I have mentioned.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I fully understand where my friend the member for Beaches-Woodbine is coming from on the amendments that she proposed, and while I am not proposing to put the kinds of amendments that she would like in the bill, I just want to tell her, on this last day that we are sitting together here, that the kinds of things she is talking about will be reflected not only in the regulations but in the general administration of this act. Some of the studies she is calling for indeed are done; they are not done always by the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, but they are done by other organizations within the province.
Ms Bryden: I can see that the minister is bent on getting this bill through as quickly as possible, before we have any studies of the effects of alcohol consumption and the proliferation of outlets on the health and lifestyle of the community. I can see no other reason for it being rammed through today, except the fact that since it gives the liquor industry the opportunity to increase the proliferation of outlets with much less need for consulting the public, the government is presumably hoping to get a grateful industry to reward it with political contributions for the coming election. That seems to be the only reason for it being rammed through without these studies.
The Offer commission made no studies of this sort, and it was entirely an in-house commission. It did have some public hearings, but that was three years ago. We badly need public hearings on this very serious subject of alcoholism and addiction.
We know that the government’s grants for the treatment and rehabilitation of alcohol victims are completely inadequate. People are having to be sent to hospitals in the United States. Others are having to wait months to get an appointment for an addiction treatment centre. If we had some public hearings on these subjects and learned about the cost to society of alcoholism, I think we would be much more ready and willing to set up in the fall a study of the effects of addiction and the need for treatment and programs that will discourage the use of alcoholic beverages as much as possible.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Since we are approaching the hour of adjournment, I would seek unanimous consent to continue to sit until the completion of this item or an additional 10 minutes, whichever comes first.
The Chair: Is there unanimous consent for this?
The Chair: Did the member for Beaches-Woodbine complete her statement?
Ms Bryden: I wanted to speak on paragraph 62(1)34.
The Chair: Do you have a comment on paragraph 62(1)34?
Ms Bryden: Yes. Paragraph 62(1)34 is in the regulations section --
The Chair: Order, please. We have not completed discussion of this proposed amendment here. We should dispose of this first before we go on to something else.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: The member for Beaches-Woodbine wants to make a specific comment on paragraph 34, right?
Ms Bryden: Yes.
The Chair: Please go ahead.
Ms Bryden: Paragraph 62(1)34 is in the regulations section and gives the Lieutenant Governor the power of “prohibiting or regulating and controlling the possession of liquor in provincial parks, in a park managed or controlled by the Niagara Parks Commission, the St Lawrence Parks Commission, the St Clair Parkway Commission or on lands owned or controlled by a conservation authority established or continued under the Conservation Authorities Act.”
Members will note that this section gives the liquor licence board the power to prohibit and control the possession of liquor in all kinds of parks except city of Toronto parks or parks in a municipality. We all know that most people do not like to see liquor either sold or consumed without regulation in all kinds of parks. We know that parks are mainly there for the recreation of families, children, sports people, canoeists, hikers, all kinds of outdoor activities and they should be, as far as possible, liquor-free. In provincial parks we do allow consumption of alcoholic beverages on a person’s own rented campsite. The same is possibly true on lands owned by conservation authorities. But we do not really want to encourage liquor in those parks and I think the present laws show that.
There is special legislation that does allow the government -- not the liquor licence board but the government -- to control consumption of liquor in stadiums, in the Dome and in specialized sports facilities of that sort. I am not objecting to that special legislation. I think it should be under control and should be adequately regulated so that the consumption does not disturb the other attendees at such stadiums and the Dome, but it is probably best to leave that to the provincial government to control.
However, the omission of any mention of city parks seems to me a serious omission. This spring the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario approved a licence for a restaurant in Woodbine Beach Park, which is a city of Toronto park. No other city of Toronto park has a licensed premise in it. Under LLBO regulations and legislation they are allowed in Metropolitan Toronto parks and stadiums, as I mentioned, but not in a city park. Other city parks throughout the province also are not at the moment allowed to have licensed premises in them.
The LLBO did approve a licence for this restaurant in the city of Toronto park. It was appealed by a number of residents to the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal. While the appeal board did give a fair hearing to both sides in the issue, the board finally found in favour of granting the licence on the ground that the city of Toronto had approved it. Now it seems to me this is abdicating the authority of the liquor licence board to consider whether the city council adequately considered the needs and wishes and the public interest of the residents of the municipality.
It creates a very bad precedent to allow a restaurant to be licensed within a city park. An upscale restaurant bistro is incompatible with the recreational activities carried on in parks generally. This restaurant in the Woodbine Beach does not allow users to park their bicycles or strollers or pets. It does not allow park users to bring their own lunches and supplement them with non-alcoholic beverages.
The premises use up valuable space in an already overloaded city park that serves thousands of families, children and singles from all parts of Toronto. It is also part of the Martin Goodman Trail. Its clients occupy parking spaces built for park users. It encourages drinking and driving since there is no close public transit or taxi stands. It opens the door to applications for licensed premises in every family park in the city of Toronto and probably in the province. All the applicant needs is approval by the council of the municipality in which the park is located.
I would have hoped that the minister, in bringing in this act, would have added city parks to the list in which the board may prohibit the possession and sale of liquor. It is really going to change completely the character of our parks. We simply do not have enough park space to allow it to be pre-empted or alienated to private, commercial uses. I think it is a very big issue that the LLBO has opened.
The Chair: Excuse me. Could I remind the member we have only two minutes left? Are you going to use up the time?
Ms Bryden: I would say this is an area the province should have looked at. The lawyer for the residents did point out that actually the Provincial Parks Act does mention city parks as well, but the appeal board ignored that fact.
Section 62, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 63 to 67, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: I had received a proposed amendment, an NDP motion, but I have to rule it out of order because it is against standing order 54, as it purports to collect taxes and whatever.
Ms Bryden: May I read it into the record and let you rule it out of order?
The Chair: If you want to read it into the record, fair enough. I will rule it out of order.
Ms Bryden: It is a very short amendment. I move that the following section be added:
“That the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario will allocate 1% of the net profits of the board for the purpose of alcohol rehabilitation programs.”
The Chair: I have to rule it out of order because of standing order 54.
Ms Bryden: I would just like to point out --
The Chair: No, it is out of order.
Ms Bryden: -- that the previous speaker mentioned it in second reading, the member for Cambridge.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Sorbara. the committee of the whole reported two bills with certain amendments.
The House recessed at 1210.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mr Kormos: Members will recall that back on 13 June I made a statement in this Legislature about the need for this government, these Liberals, if they are at all serious about the promise -- and we know what Liberal promises are all about -- that was made some time ago that they were going to fight free trade, if they were at all serious, they would have done something in response to that member’s statement I made back on 13 June 1990.
That statement of course, as members recall, was about the need to amend the free trade agreement to increase the North American content requirement from 50% to 60% for automotive products. I told members last time about that urgent need, about how these Liberals ought to get off their butts, off their tails and start working at fulfilling some of their promises instead of working at covering their tracks when it comes down to broken promises, etc.
That request was in response to a plea to me from W. A. Smith, the plant manager at Gencorp Automotive in Welland. They are a significant employer and a significant supplier to the auto parts and auto industry. Now I get a subsequent letter, this one from Reub McArthur, vice-president of sales and marketing at Atlas Specialty Steels. Once again, Atlas Specialty Steels is making the same plea, the same request to what it believes to be its government.
But this government turns a deaf ear to them, just like the Tories in Ottawa have turned a deaf ear to them. These Liberals are no more interested in reinforcing the auto parts industry and its suppliers in Ontario than the Tories in Ottawa are. They are no more interested in the employment that is going to create than the Tories in Ottawa are. Shame on them.
Mr Cousens: A quick comparison of the government phone books for the spring of 1985 and the spring of 1990 is all that is required to confirm the massive growth of the government bureaucracy that has been inflicted on the taxpayers by the Liberal government. Compared to its 1985 counterpart, the most recent government phone book, which is printed on longer paper, contains a total of 249 additional pages.
There are 175 additional pages of office listings, indicating that the Grits have been creating new bureaucratic positions and offices at such a clip that it requires, on average, 35 additional pages a year to keep track of them all. There are 38 additional pages of alphabetic staff listings in the Ontario government. Each page contains two columns, with each column listing 70 names, giving a total increase of 5,320, and that is just the increase in staff with their own phone numbers.
After five years of the Grits’ spendthrift ways, the government phone book is half an inch thicker. Some of us maintain, on the basis of what we have seen in this House, that the government, and particularly the cabinet, is a bit thick as well.
Also like the phone book, the government in 1990 may be a lot bigger but it is not any better. Here is what it was in 1985. Here is what it is now in 1990. If this government keeps on growing, we are going to have a government phone book this big in five years. Let’s stop killing the trees.
MORNING GLORY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Mr Ballinger: During the past three years I have been extremely honoured to be the elected representative for the riding of Durham-York. My riding is made up of five municipalities: Uxbridge, Brock, East Gwillimbury, Georgina and the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
During these past three years there have been many times I have been extremely proud of this Liberal government, and yesterday was exactly one of those. I was very pleased yesterday to participate in a press conference in my riding, in the town of Georgina, at the Morning Glory school, where the Minister of Transportation announced the construction of a turning lane for the safety of the children at the Morning Glory public school.
At this time, I also want to pay tribute to the parents’ group and especially to Ken Hackenbrook who for the past six years, along with his group, worked extremely hard alongside our government to try to bring this specific turning lane to fruition.
I would just like to say again, Mr Speaker, through the three years I have been here it is always amazing when we listen to the opposition, and more specifically, a few moments ago, to the member for Welland-Thorold, who is so easy in condemning this government. But I can assure you that in my constituency, my constituents are extremely proud and pleased with the performance of this government.
In speaking to some of the parents yesterday at this announcement of the turning lane for the school, they said we are the first government to at least respond to the needs of this community and the concern for the safety of its children.
Mrs Grier: Property taxes in the city of Etobicoke rose by 7.8% this year. Approximately 2.6% of the city’s portion of this increase was due to additional costs imposed by the provincial government. I have been a municipal councillor. I know how tightly city councils scrutinize their spending. I know how difficult it is to balance the competing and very critical demands for local services.
I know how easy it is for property tax payers to vent their wrath about increases in taxes on the municipal politicians and how easy it is for the provincial government to get off scot-free when it forces the municipalities to bear the cost of new services. The provincial government boasts about new programs and promises; the municipal taxpayers pay the piper.
In Etobicoke in 1990 direct provincial actions increased the municipal budget by nearly $2 million. Etobicoke, like other municipalities, was not consulted by the province when these programs were imposed upon it. When municipalities pointed out the effect the shifts in responsibility would have, they were ignored.
I suspect that this government will spend a lot of time in 1990 boasting about its achievements and programs. I hope that any such boasts will be followed by an acknowledgement of the additional burden these programs have placed on the level of government with the least progressive tax system, the municipalities.
For many years, New Democrats have been saying that the property tax was an unfair tax and one that should not be used to fund services to people. More and more property taxpayers are starting to agree with us.
GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY
Mr Runciman: Last fall, the International Joint Commission held its fifth biennial meeting under the Great Lakes water quality agreement. The commissioner’s report was released on the 18th anniversary of the signing of the first agreement.
Public concern for the Great Lakes ecosystem is now at an all-time high. It is clear the agreement has come of age. At the biennial meeting there were demands for government action to translate the principles, purposes and objectives of the agreement into enforceable laws. If we do not, the commission said, we will continue to mortgage the future of the Great Lakes by poisoning, suffocating and otherwise threatening them because of insufficient knowledge, other priorities and shortsightedness.
The commission made recommendations regarding toxic substances, implementation, remedial action plans, toxic spills and status reports from the parties involved. This last issue is very important as we move towards an election. The government of Ontario is a party to this agreement, yet we have seen no improvement in the quality of Great Lakes water for the last five years. If anything, it is worse.
I am particularly concerned about the St Lawrence River. I know many citizens and government officials are working together on the local remedial action plan to deal with the problems of heavy metals and organic compounds polluting the river from industry and inadequate sewage treatment systems. The St Lawrence RAP will soon be submitted to the commission. When it is, the government of Ontario should act immediately on its recommendations.
Mr Owen: VDO-Yazaki has a manufacturing plant in Barne that produces electrical components for the automotive original equipment market. Recently it was announced that this plant is going to be phased out of operation at the end of the year in favour of transferring operations to a facility in Winchester, Virginia.
In the years leading up to the 1988 federal election, many people warned of the impact the Mulroney free trade deal would have on the branch plant sector of our economy. Without the necessity of maintaining a manufacturing facility in this country in order to do business here, when the urge comes to a multinational company to rationalize its operations, there is no incentive to keep the jobs here.
The closing of VDO-Yazaki in Barrie is more proof of Tory mishandling of our economy. A bad free trade deal, high interest rates and relaxed rules for big business are driving away good jobs in our province and in our country.
This closing has cost 150 jobs along with the pride those workers had in a job well done. The Barrie plant had an excellent track record and had been recording a net profit in its operation. This has made no difference in the final decision to transfer the operation to the United States to a plant that was not doing as well.
It is sad that the real people affected here cannot be seen for the dollar figures in Ottawa’s eyes.
Mr Allen: In 1981 the Pastoral Counselling Centre in Hamilton was established to help individuals, couples and families seeking help with personal and relational problems. Since 1985 this centre has had a purchase-of-service agreement with the region to provide counselling services to people on social assistance.
The centre never refuses service to a client because of inability to pay and has regularly served social assistance clients well beyond the value of the contract with the region, last year to the tune of over $5,500. Sometimes the region has coughed up some additional dollars. Last year the shortfall was still over $2,000 in an operation that runs on a close to break-even basis.
The tight financial straits mean that now clients are waiting eight months for service. This year the centre has already run through its contract money with the region, in a year when the May welfare case load provincially is up almost 20% over May of last year and the FBA case load is up 10%.
As we have seen time and time again this session, Ontario social services more and more are a matter of long waiting lists, even for people in desperate need, overworked and underpaid workers and community agencies with their backs to the wall.
The rich can afford private counselling services, but the Pastoral Counselling Centre is an essential part of social services for the poor in Hamilton. When is the minister going to provide sufficient counselling dollars for the full counselling needs of the social assistance case load?
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Minister of Health and it concerns the uncertain situation of the Oak Ridge division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre.
It has been brought to my attention that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Correctional Services will be amalgamated within 18 months. I have been told that all contracts are on hold for the Ministry of Government Services. It has also been suggested that there are only 13 residents in some wards at Oak Ridge that normally hold 20 and that the former ratio of six supervisory staff to 300 residents is now 21 supervisory staff to 128 residents.
The minister had recently offered 13 unclassified workers part-time employment at Oak Ridge at a time when current part-timers had been informed that they would be laid off on 27 June. We really have to wonder why the minister would give serious consideration to cutting back staff when there was an equivalent of 509 hours of overtime pay between 28 May and 29 June due to a shortage of staff. We also have to wonder if the minister is giving serious consideration to placing the Oak Ridge division under the jurisdiction of the new superministry.
I think the minister should come clean and tell us exactly what is going on. It is time for him to end the uncertainty and speculation at Oak Ridge. There are several inconsistencies regarding Oak Ridge: less residents, more supervisory staff, more overtime and laying-off of part-time staff. Why would the minister lay off staff and pay overtime?
RESIGNATION OF MEMBERS
Why plant a tree? Why help a friend?
Why build consensus or relationships mend?
You know the answer.
Because you are you; you’re a builder, constructor.
There really are few.
The platform is lined with passengers all,
Waiting to leave to return in the fall.
But wait. Who can say with certainty now,
Who will return after the draw?
Yes, we do know that some minds are made up.
The uplands of Huron Jack Riddell will hold,
Friend George McCague the same I am told.
The Oshawa man with a fine Irish name,
Mike Breaugh, will he move to Ottawa fame?
Ray Haggerty smiles to the honeymoon home,
Herb Epp and John Eakins are saying so long.
Fine people, hard workers, word pitchers and catchers,
Eggheads and eggbeaters, that’s par for the course.
We’ll miss them I’m sure and we’ll all them endorse.
Now Johnsons are too with Marion gone,
We shall lose their fine talents when they have withdrawn.
We shall always remember the kindnesses shown,
The happiness, sadness of battles long gone.
But the qualities human they have in full measure,
And love for our province we join all together.
Mr J. M. Johnson: On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: I realize I am bending the rules slightly but I would like to acknowledge the presence of some very special visitors in the members’ gallery, my three grandchildren, Andrea, Rachel and Timothy Johnson, my son Cohn and his wife, Ellen. Mr Speaker, this is the children’s first visit to Queen’s Park and likely my last day so I did think you would allow me this slight honour.
The Speaker: I think by the applause you received unanimous consent.
RESIGNATION OF MEMBER FOR BEACHES-WOODBINE AND MEMBER FOR WELLINGTON
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if I might be permitted unanimous consent of the House to say a few words today, which may be the last day -- we do not know, we only know the speculation -- for a number of members. In particular I would like to pay tribute to the member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Mr B. Rae: First of all, let me say that the grandchildren who were just introduced to the House should be very proud of their grandfather. They waved very naturally to all of us here, and I do not think it will be too long before we find there are other candidates in the Johnson family who are going to be seeking election to this place.
Mr D. S. Cooke: As New Democrats no doubt.
Mr B. Rae: They will certainly be New Democrats until they are of voting age anyway.
Since this may be the last day for a number of members before we may have an election -- and none of us knows whether we will or we will not, but all of us have some certain instincts which we respond to from time to time -- I wanted to say a few words today, in addition, to sincerely congratulate the member for Wellington who is retiring, who is a dear friend to all of us in the House and has been certainly to me and to members of our caucus.
I hope members will permit me to say a few words about Marion Bryden, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, who is retiring at the end of this Parliament and whose contributions to the House and to our party and our movement have been simply phenomenal.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine, or Marion if I may be permitted to break the rules on this occasion, has been a member of the caucus since 1975. She has been, as members will know, a model of hard work, of perseverance, of dedication to her constituents, and I am proud to inform the members of the House that Marion is the longest-standing, longest-serving woman member of the Legislature in the history of the province of Ontario.
Members from other parties will have an opportunity to reflect on Marion’s contributions to this place, on her dedication to her constituents, the fact that we would not have had legislation on equal pay, for example, if we had not had the pioneer work that Marion did long before it was fashionable and long before it had the support of other parties.
If I can be partisan for just a moment, it is particularly as a member of our movement and our party that I want to pay tribute to Marion Bryden. It is hard to talk about Marion without also mentioning her husband, Ken, who was also a member of this Legislature before going on to return to academic life and to be a very distinguished professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Marion has given so much of herself to our party. Before she was elected to the Legislature, for 10 years she was the director -- and indeed, when I say “director,” she was the director of research, she was the member of the research department, she was the New Democratic Party research department for the better part of a decade.
It is hard to describe the kind of dedication which Marion Bryden brings to her work and has brought to her work, the kind of dedication which she has shown on behalf of her constituents, the consistent good humour and loyalty which she has shown in our caucus and as well, of course, the many, many efforts that she has made on behalf of working people in this province, which she has expressed with such dignity and such determination in the House.
I can just say personally that few colleagues have been as consistent and as persistently loyal and as determined in terms of serving the party and the movement as Marion Bryden. It has been a remarkable career. I do not happen to think that her career is in any sense over. I know that there are many retirees’ and seniors’ organizations that are going to have now even more efforts made on their behalf by Marion than she has made so far. She has been a remarkable spokesman for her constituents in the east end of Toronto, a part of the world that I came to know very well as an elected representative from that area, and also as a very distinguished spokesman on behalf of the working people of this province.
I am sorry that the member is leaving, but I fully understand her reasons for wanting a little bit more free time and spare time with her husband, Ken. I want Marion to know that she goes with all the love and affection of all the members of our party and, I know, from members from all three parties.
Mr Cousens: It is rather sad that we are having to say all these goodbyes, because I would like to see all these people here in the Legislature for another year rather than have to go through this whole process. There is every reason in the world why I would enjoy --
Hon Mr Ward: Actually, Don, we are going to be saying goodbye to you.
Mr Cousens: Never mind that.
An hon member: Goodbye, Don.
Mr Cousens: Yes, “Goodbye, Don.” I will make sure my riding -- or try my best.
But when you see the member for Wellington bringing his grandchildren in on this special day, and then another member from our caucus -- in case we are not back in September, the member for Simcoe West, there is a certain belief out there that he might not be back, and I want to put a word in as we --
Mr McCague: I know what I’m doing.
Mr Cousens: He is too special a person, and I just see these things going on, these politics that we are dealing with in Ontario.
I want to speak of the member for Beaches-Woodbine, but I have two members behind me who keep probing me to do certain things. But today, on behalf of our caucus --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Don’t worry, we’ll say nice things about you.
Mr Cousens: I am not going to leave yet. They will not say it until they are sure I am going.
I have had great pleasure over the last number of years in understanding the political process. Many people in our constituencies have no understanding of the depth of it. Because when you realize that the 130 people who are here representing their constituencies -- each one brings special talents and skills, but especially that desire to serve the community and serve the province.
In dealing with the member for Beaches-Woodbine, Marion Bryden, she has been faithful in ever having a desire to serve people conscientiously and well. I have seen that in the way she goes about her committee work, her House duties, her whole depth of understanding of issues. It is obvious that she is researched in her activity and she brings with it a compassion and love of issues and people. I know the people of Beaches-Woodbine have been well served by a lady who has conscientiously given her best and who has been among the best of any legislators in this place.
I have seen her, as have other members, on the Ontario Legislature Committee for Soviet Jewry, which is a non-partisan committee of this Legislature in which we have tried to fight for the needs of Soviet Jews. I know that all of us have again respected very, very much the leadership the member for Beaches-Woodbine has given. We are just sorry that we did not have a special event through the Soviet Jewry committee before we rose to give special recognition to her. I hope there will be a chance for that because I know, and speaking on behalf of the many people involved there, they respect so much what she has done and has tried to do.
The member for York South has said that he does not think she will just sit back and do nothing. I was talking to Marion the other day, and I can just see her being busier than ever. Now that she has two pensions, one from this place and the other one for being a senior, and there may be a few others we do not know about, she is just going to be able to go out there and do all those things for the people of her riding and the people of the Metropolitan Toronto area, and do them in the same way she has in the past, for love and for making it a better world.
Thank you, Marion, for all you have done.
Hon Mr Ward: On behalf of the government caucus, I am honoured to have this opportunity to pay tribute to two very well-respected and long-standing members of this Legislature.
Mr Speaker, as you know, I have not been here all that long, but I will say this to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, that she truly has served as a model for anyone coming into this assembly. The commitment she gives to her duties and responsibilities here as critic, as a committee person and as an advocate for the causes that she believes in, I think all of us could do well to emulate.
I was looking through the Canadian Parliamentary Guide just before coming in today. I know Marion has been here for some 15 years, but I also see that during her free time she is equally as committed as a volunteer to many other noble causes as well. I know that the people of Beaches-Woodbine are deeply grateful for the contribution she has made on their behalf. I want her to know that we all wish her well in her future endeavours.
I did not really come here prepared to acknowledge the contribution made by the member for Wellington, but some years ago I had the opportunity to visit his riding; I think it was to the Highland Games up in Fergus. I guess it was at that point that I first got to know the member for Wellington. I was very much struck by his non-partisan approach, his openness, his friendliness and his sincerity. Jack Johnson has indeed served his community with distinction. I do not think he has an enemy anywhere in this province.
Hon Mr Peterson: Except for Don Cousens.
Hon Mr Ward: Except for Don Cousens perhaps.
I want him to know that we will all miss him. I guess we should have expected that we would find out about his intentions in the manner in which we did. Such a low-key approach that he has as the member for Wellington, but he certainly does speak up on behalf of his community, and he has fulfilled his responsibilities admirably. We wish him well in his future endeavours.
All the best.
Ms Bryden: Since this may be the last sitting of the House which I will attend, unless the Premier is not going ahead with a premature election call, I welcome the opportunity to bid farewell to all members of the House and to make a few comments on my 15 years in this distinguished place.
First, I want to say that I have a very warm feeling about the Ontario Legislature, with its long traditions, its beautiful chamber and its present cast of characters. I use the term “characters” in the best sense of the word, because every one of the 130 members here brings to me an awareness of the diversity of our great province. Every member brings here his own unique personality and his geographic connections. Together, we have a contribution to make to the law-making process in this House.
I would have liked to have seen more women among the faces surrounding me. As has been mentioned, I hold the record for the longest term served by a woman member in the House. I would have liked to have seen a more multicultural House, more visible minorities and some members who could truly call themselves first Canadians. I hope our current struggle against racism, wherever it shows its ugly head, from South Africa to the Arctic Circle to Toronto, will bring us a more representative House of all our Canadian people.
We are all called honourable members, and I hope we consider it important to merit that title. Sometimes I think we are overimpressed by our own importance with all the pomp and circumstance and we separate ourselves from the people we represent. It is humbling to be a member when you think of our responsibility to pass good laws and uphold democratic institutions. But it is only when we listen to those who tell us about their needs for decent housing, for equal educational and employment opportunities and for saving our environment that we can exercise our decision-making power responsibly.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my years in the House. I started out as a member of the official opposition and as Treasury critic, up against Darcy McKeough. Since then I have had just about every portfolio, including Environment, women’s issues, Education, Intergovernmental Affairs and Revenue. Now, perhaps fittingly, I end up as seniors’ advocate. The Legislature and its committees are a great learning process, and that is one of the bonuses. It also teaches you much about human relations in the political arena and where the levers of power are to be found.
I belong to the class of 1975, which brought many new members to the House. Only five now in the House have more service than that class.
You may ask what I plan to do in the future. People like Rosemary Brown, a former MLA in British Columbia, and Pauline Jewett, a former MP, have shown that there is life after the Legislature. Rosemary is director of an organization helping women in the Third World to reach their potential. Pauline Jewett is serving as an adviser to Audrey McLaughlin, the first woman chosen as a party leader in the federal field. They can be models for all of us.
With all the demands for volunteers to work at saving the environment and the Toronto waterfront, or enhancing the rights of women, visible minorities and native people, or getting homes for the homeless and food for the hungry, I am sure that I will find more than enough to do to keep me busy.
I am disturbed by the erosion of democratic rights in the Legislature under majority government. I hope all members will make it a top priority to restore their role as champions for the poor, the oppressed and all the people of this province. Thank you.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I do not want to push my luck. After the tributes paid to the member for Oshawa on Monday, the House recessed. But I would like to just take a minute to thank all the members on both sides of the House for their kindness and friendship for the past 15 years, the clerks and assistants and all the people at Queen’s Park. I will miss this place. This House has become my home. My wife, Marnie, certainly thinks so and that is why I have decided not to return.
I would just like to thank my constituents in my old riding of Wellington-Dufferin-Peel and the new riding of Wellington for giving me the honour and the privilege to serve for the past 15 years. I will miss this place, I will miss the people in it and I wish them all the best.
Hon Mr Ward: Since we know that today is the last day of this session, I wonder if we could have unanimous consent to acknowledge three long-standing servants of this Legislature.
RETIREMENT OF EDITOR OF DEBATES
Mr Fulton: The name Hansard comes from Thomas Hansard, who was credited with the first recording of debates in the House of Commons in Westminster around 1811. Used throughout the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth countries and several other parliaments since then, Hansard replaced the Journals of the House here in Ontario in 1944.
Hansard supplies invaluable support and assistance to members and officials of the House as well as to many other interested parties and organizations.
Peter Brannan is chief of Hansard for this assembly and has for the past 30 years served this Legislature and the people of Ontario with distinction and dedication. Tomorrow he retires.
Peter came to this House as a result of an unexpected resignation of his predecessor. William Murdoch, the Speaker, called his daughter in desperation for a replacement. Peter, who happened to be a co-worker at Maclean Hunter just down the street, accepted the position immediately.
In those days, Hansard editors came from a variety of publishing houses and worked in shifts. The evening shift would walk up University Avenue and look at the red light at the top of the building, which would signify an evening session. Many years later, the red light was changed to a white light, not through a sense of moral decorum, but a white light was deemed to be non-partisan.
The Hansard crew moved from its fifth-floor garret shortly after it had transcribed the words of the former leader of the NDP, Donald MacDonald, who said that the fifth floor was a firetrap from which no one could escape.
Mr Brannan has served eight Speakers of this Legislature, from the Honourable William Murdoch to you, sir, and five premiers, from Leslie Frost to David Peterson. It was Leslie Frost who made the complaint that for the price of producing the official record, he could pave nine miles of highway. With that, he cancelled printing for three years. Perhaps my friends from the north might consider that.
Today, Peter oversees a budget of $3.5 million and 47 staff members. He has managed and directed Hansard into the modern electronic age. Hansard can now produce draft transcripts within the hour and a complete, formal printing within one day.
Mr Brannan is the founding president of the Hansard Association of Canada and a member of the Commonwealth Hansard Editors Association.
A veteran of the Royal Air Force, Peter was formerly the editor of the Canadian Aviation publication. Not so well known is his interest in provincial highways. About four years ago, he inquired of the former Minister of Transportation about opening the Don Valley Parkway directly into the 401 eastbound express lanes. That wonderful improvement, that I would like to have named the Brannan bypass, was done as a direct result of his interest.
Peter is also an avid sailor, sailing from Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club, where he also serves as editor of the club magazine. He is also a racer of little note. He has won few, if any, pennants but he is always at the start line and always finishes the race and always with his great sense of humour intact. He and his wife, Anne, will travel extensively the next few months throughout Great Britain, and winter at Madeira Beach Yacht Club.
It is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity, as Peter’s member, a fellow sailor from FBYC and as a long-time friend, on behalf of my party to wish Peter and Anne many years retirement as you sail off into the sunset.
Mr B. Rae: It is very hard for people who are not members of this place to understand the peculiar obligations all of us have to Peter Brannan and to the extraordinary staff that produce the Ontario Hansard. As bewildering and as outrageous as it may seem. Hansard reports almost every word that is spoken in this place.
They occasionally have to exercise some judicious judgement with respect to which comments will appear and which will not. I have noted that a couple of mine that I wished I had never said have appeared, and also a couple that I wished I had never said have not appeared. I am always grateful for whatever kindness Hansard can bestow on me.
I think it is fair to say that Ontario’s Hansard compares with any in the Commonwealth in its accuracy, in its fairness, in its completeness and in its integrity. The editor of Hansard can take no responsibility for the substance of Hansard; that alone is our responsibility. I know the Premier would like to take credit for virtually everything, but we are not going to allow him to do that on this occasion.
If I could just add a personal note, when I was first elected to Parliament I knew nothing about the intricacies of Hansard but I did learn from a master, and that was Stanley Knowles, who when I was first elected very much took me under his wing. He was determined that members should look carefully at what was said, should have a hard look at what turns up and what does not turn up, and should be helpful in terms of working with the Hansard reporters in making sure that the record, which is very much a personal record for members of what they have to say, is the record they want to stand by.
I can only say to Mr Brannan that his staff, to me and to members of my staff and members of our party, have been consistently courteous and thoroughly professional in a way that can only earn the respect and thanks of all of us. Of course, this is done with great good humour, with great tact and with great sensitivity and sensibility to those of us who, as I say, often wish we had not said the things we have said, only to find them reported back to us with terrifying objectivity. It is an experience all of us must go through and in fact is a useful lesson for all of us.
Peter Brannan goes with the thanks of all the members of this place. He has been a great and good servant of this House in the greatest tradition of Hansard. which we have taken from the British Parliament, and to him and to his dedicated staff we must continue to remember and to continue to reflect on our deep and abiding gratitude. Thank you, Peter.
Mr Sterling: It gives me great pleasure on behalf of our caucus to congratulate Peter on his retirement. I think the other two members of the Legislature have pointed out his background -- he has a very interesting background -- and also his most significant accomplishments over the past years as the chief of our Hansard reporting.
Although I have never heard a speech in this Legislature that was not an absolutely perfect example of correct English grammar, I know that Peter has assisted several members from time to time, on rare occasions, to interpret our verbal statements into print in a more improved form. On behalf of all those members, I want to thank you, Peter, for your patience and your interpretation. We really do appreciate it.
Peter, I know you have other interests in terms of sailing and travelling. You drive a very exciting sports car. We look with envy to your summer versus the kind of summer I might expect. I expect to be on my feet during the summer, walking from door to door, and would just love to join you in your pet MG. All the best in the future. Thanks very much for your help.
Mr Brandt: I recognize that this is a rather lengthy introduction to our normal day’s business, but with the unanimous consent of the House, I would appreciate the Speaker giving me the opportunity to pay tribute to another retiring member, the member for Simcoe West.
RESIGNATION OF MEMBER FOR SIMCOE WEST
Mr Brandt: The member for Simcoe West is someone who is known, I know, to every member of this House on a very personal basis. He was here in this House when I arrived back in 1981 and he quickly became known to me and to other members of our somewhat larger caucus during those days as Silent George.
The reason he acquired that particular name is that during those sometimes heated moments when there are perhaps differences of opinion, which occur in the various caucuses that are represented in this House -- I am sure never in the government caucus because there is always sheeplike unanimity over there, but in our caucus occasionally we have legitimate differences of opinion with respect to some issues. I always look forward to the member for Simcoe West sitting back as he does, quietly, absorbing all of the various nuances and shadings of a particular question that may be before the caucus at that time and then offering, in so many cases that I can recall, a very sage and a very direct and a very appropriate opinion as to what the consensus should really be.
Silent George is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect. He knows that. I have indicated to him on more than one occasion that he is the personification, quite frankly, of the responsible politician, in my view. I say that because he is one of those individuals who, during the time I spent as leader of our party, never, ever turned down a request I made of him when I asked for his assistance.
He took over a rather onerous task that did not provide any particular limelight, as we all know, when I asked him if he would become the chairman of the question period committee. He did that and he performed exceedingly well, as he does with every responsibility that he has carried in this House through the many years he has served the people of Ontario.
The long list of cabinet portfolios covers virtually every facet of government. He has served responsibly and he has served well in each and every one of those. But the one that comes most quickly to mind, as I look back over the career of George McCague, is the chairmanship of Management Board, which is really the focal point of the spending habits of a government. I do not know of anyone who was tighter with a buck than George McCague was during the years I served in cabinet and tried to get some programs through that very, very capable individual.
But I can say he always chaired with an even hand, always chaired in a fair way and his decisions, again, were ones that when you reflected on them, were made in the best interests of all people.
This is a man who has not in any way, shape or form attempted to push himself forward as some politicians are perhaps inclined to do in an attempt to get a lot of publicity or a lot of recognition. He has worked quietly, but forcefully and effectively, behind the scenes.
As he retires and leaves this House, not only does he carry with him my affection and I know that of all of my caucus, but equally as important he carries with him our deepest respect as a member who has served to the best of his ability on behalf of his people and on behalf of this province. I salute him on this, perhaps his last day in the House, and I wish him nothing but the best in whatever the future may hold for him.
Mr Laughren: I would like to say a few words about my friend George McCague. I would not call him Silent George; I would be more apt to categorize him as Curious George. the way he approaches his job.
An hon member: How about Grumpy George?
Mr Laughren: No, he is not grumpy.
George might not even remember this, but when I was about 12 years old, I guess, my father was a farm labourer and I was sent off for a month or so -- I do not know why they would want to have sent me off, but anyway -- to visit another family that worked for a farmer, another farm labourer. I did not know where this place was or who the family was, but lo and behold, it was the J. J. E. McCague farm where I went and lived for a month or so. I only saw George from the distance as he helped his father oversee this incredible empire, the McCague empire.
I was elected here in 1971 and then George McCague arrived in 1975. I was not at all surprised to see him a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus. But I can tell members that I can remember also that when George McCague was in the cabinet, it was very difficult to ask George McCague a question. You would ask George a question loaded with scorn, invective and ridicule, and he would stand up and say, “Yes, I agree with you.” It is very difficult to come back with an appropriate supplementary after that.
I say that because George always did seem to have very little political gamesmanship in the way he conducted his business around here, either when he was in the cabinet or now, in opposition. He is a straight-out kind of person and we respected that very much. I think that is one of the reasons why members here today will universally be sad to see George leave, although that will not stop all of us from doing the best we can to make sure that riding is represented by someone who is not at all like George.
George, on behalf of our caucus, I wish to express my appreciation for just having you around since 1975 and being a friend.
Hon Mr Black: I am pleased to join with my colleagues in the other two parties to speak a few words as George McCague leaves this House. I have not had the opportunity to know George as long as most members have, but I can tell members that as a person who has a constituency close by his, we have had many opportunities over the past three years to attend functions together and to chat to each other as we worked together in this House.
I think I can say without fear of contradiction from any side of the House that George McCague leaves with the respect of all members of the House from all parties. He is a man who has done his job and done it well. He is a man who has earned our respect.
My colleague who sits in front of me turned to me just a minute ago and said the word “decent” probably describes George as well as any other word one could use, and I would echo that. George, on behalf of our party, we wish you well. We know that you have many long, fruitful days ahead of you. We know that you will enjoy them. I would simply say, finally, that probably the greatest measure of the respect with which people hold George McCague is that he was able to withstand the Liberal onslaught of 1987 and survive and we look forward now, with your departure, to a new face in Simcoe West.
Mr McCague: I thank all those who have spoken. I tried very hard and thought I was being successful in avoiding this. I thought I could slip quietly from this place and go on to whatever I was going to do next, but the member for Samia, given his penchant for talking, had to get up and say something.
The remarks from the member for Nickel Belt were very kind. I do not recall a whole lot about his days at our farm, but I have heard from others that he really works an awful lot harder here than he did in those days. He certainly did not get any of his training for this place at Glen Afton farm.
I agree with the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay that there will be a new member for Simcoe West following the next election, but it will not be the one he wants. I did not particularly want this opportunity because it gives all parties a chance to stand up and tell a few lies, and not to reveal all the truth.
I think the most difficult time I had when I came here -- advice I would like to pass on to others -- was to gain a full appreciation of the job that everybody here has. There is an inclination if you are on the government side, where I started, to think that is a much more important position than the member for Beaches-Woodbine held in the second or third party -- I just forget which at that time. But if everybody came in here with the idea that you have a real job to do, not only for your constituents but in governing the province of Ontario, you would be starting off on the right foot and it would make your job much, much easier.
It has been a great pleasure to have known all those who are here and the many who are not here now who were here during the past 15 years. Mr Speaker, I think you have even done reasonably well during all those years, and for that I congratulate you. We are not saying any words for you, Mr Speaker.
However, it has been a great experience with the people here, the members, the staff and the various caucuses and I do appreciate it. I was very appreciative this morning. The member for Sarnia mentioned about question period. This is a shirt I got this morning that says, “Question Period Chairman,” and of course the good message is on the other side, “Unquestionably the Best.” I cannot argue with that.
I must say to members that I am one of the people here who knows exactly what he will be doing following the next election.
The Speaker: Just before we continue with our next item of business. I would like to inform the House that we have a visitor in the lower west gallery, a member of the Czechoslovakian and Slovac Federal Republic, Jan Vidim.
Mr Poirier: As the government House leader is also receiving unanimous consent to honour three fine employees who are leaving us. I would like to take a few minutes to speak about Trudy Niezen, the person who has been responsible for over six years for the pages program.
I have gotten to know Trudy very well, because I have had the honourable pleasure to get involved and know the pages quite well in my function as Deputy Speaker. It is with sadness that we see Trudy leaving after over six years of being responsible for that program.
She started back in January 1979 as a tour guide with the parliamentary public relations. Then from October 1981 to February 1982 she was the acting supervisor of the public relations office. In August 1982 she was promoted to be senior tour and information guide, and then from February 1984 she has been the supervisor of the pages program. If we had to bring into the House all the pages who benefited from Trudy’s supervision since February 1984, as members know, for those who have been here at least for the 34th Parliament, that means a lot of boys and girls from across Ontario.
I have had a number of opportunities to sit down and discuss with her the pages program, and I have been able to see her profound involvement and deep interest in the pages program and her deep caring for the welfare of the pages who would come here for five weeks at a time when the House was sitting. Her devotion and her interest in the welfare of the pages has always been very superb to watch in action, always very capable, always very concerned and always very attentive.
I think all of us, or at least most of us who have had a page or two or three here in the House over the years, will appreciate all the work that Trudy did to make sure that our pages and all pages across Ontario were well taken care of, because to be the den mother of 24 kids at a time like this, especially when they are pages, is a most interesting challenge. Of course, we all know that, but we would be remiss not to say a huge thank you to Trudy for the excellence of her work. We wish her well in her new ventures and I am sure all members agree with me, with that tribute.
Mr D. S. Cooke: People watching this on TV today are going to get the impression that we are closing up shop for a while here, with all the people leaving.
On behalf of my party, I want to join with the Deputy Speaker and others in wishing Trudy well. I think the pages program in Ontario is an excellent program. Many students across the province have benefited from it. It is one of the things where the Legislature is not Toronto-focused. The entire province gets to enjoy the benefits of this particular program, and therefore those of us who are out of Toronto are particularly indebted to this program.
This Legislature may not always appear to run smoothly, but I think it is because of people like Trudy and others who work in your operation, Mr Speaker, that the Legislature does continue to operate in a smooth way. I think there are many members of the Legislature in particular who are indebted to Trudy, because many members have had their own youngsters come here as pages, and if she can manage them, she can manage any of the children in the pages program. So we are indebted to you and we wish you the best of luck in the future.
Mr Brandt: I too want to join with the other parties in paying tribute to Trudy for her service to the Legislative Assembly. She has had a very long and distinguished service in numbers of years here at Queen’s Park, and I am sure she will leave behind many fond memories, at least hopefully many fond memories of this place and what has gone on here over the past number of years. She started out in January 1979 as a tour guide, then was promoted to the position of senior tour guide and ultimately to supervisor of pages, which position she has held for some seven years now.
I think perhaps the real test of the success of Trudy’s approach to her job is the kind of response that you get from pages when they are serving on their last day in this House and you ask them how they feel about going back home and how they enjoyed their term while they were here at Queen’s Park. Invariably the response is one that has grown, at least from the responses that I have been getting, quite predictable. They say that they enjoyed their time at Queen’s Park and that they felt they had learned a great deal and that the kind of supervision and direction that they received from their boss, Trudy, was one for which they will have very fond memories.
There is no question whatever that Trudy is well loved by the pages, but there is also no question that she rules on occasion with an iron hand and knows how to make this place work rather efficiently and effectively in terms of the responsibility of the pages.
Hon Mr Peterson: Why don’t you make her caucus chairman over there?
Mr Brandt: The Premier suggests that I make Trudy caucus chairman, and I have to say that if it does not work out in terms of the future in the teaching profession, which is what I understand Trudy is going to be engaged in in the not-too-distant future, I would welcome Trudy into our caucus, as we welcome all talented people into our caucus, to join those talented people who are already here. We would wish her well in that endeavour, but I think her first alternative will probably be teaching. I know that is a love that Trudy has had for some time and it is a very similar kind of occupation and profession to what she has been able to provide here at Queen’s Park. On behalf of the members of the Conservative caucus, we want to wish her every future success.
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated when we sought this unanimous consent, we are honouring three long-standing members of this Legislature, and one will be a familiar face to all of us, that being the Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals, Alex McFedries, who now celebrates 25 years of service with the Ontario government.
Alex has been with the Ontario government since 15 March 1965. He has served as an honorary member of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries and secretary-treasurer, vice-president and president of the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada, which proves there is an association for almost anything.
Outside of the Legislature, I understand he is an outstanding athlete. He plays oldtimers’ soccer and hockey. He has been a friend to many of us and we wish him all the best on this, the occasion of his 25 years here.
Mr D. S. Cooke: As I look at some of the memberships that Alex holds, the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada -- I do not know, Alex knows how to have a good time; there is no doubt about that. There are a number of other ones that I will not go into.
On behalf of our caucus, I want to express our appreciation to Alex. When his advice has been sought, sometimes when it has not been, it has always been offered and it has been done in a professional way. But more important than Alex’s professional responsibilities has been the friendship that he has had with members of our caucus and members of our staff. It is much appreciated and I know there will be much more time, or I hope many more years of the opportunity to work with Alex. We appreciate you very much.
Mr Sterling: I too would like to congratulate Alex on 25 years of being here. Alex continues to learn. I understand Alex speaks French in a way that every Canadian can understand him. Alex is always ready, willing and able to help any member of the House. He also understands other endeavours. I understand he is a seven or eight handicapper in golf. I do not know where he gets the time to do that, but perhaps clerks do get a little bit more time than MPPs to undertake those kinds of activities. At any rate, I would like to thank him on behalf of our caucus, and on a personal note, I always enjoy having a clerk in the House that I can look down to.
Hon Mr Ward: One final unanimous consent, Mr Speaker, with regard to Canada Day.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Hon Mr Peterson: The mood in this House is so docile and kind and gentle and benign today, I am tempted to resign myself.
Hon Mr Peterson: You see, Mr Speaker. I know how to get life out of the opposition.
I join my colleagues -- and I will not go into details -- in paying tribute to those who have decided to leave. Why they have decided to leave at this time is absolutely beyond my comprehension, but I do wish them all well, and if there is anybody else who wants to leave, take the opportunity right now. We may be able to summon up a little charity in our hearts.
Mr D. S. Cooke: There are a lot of hands in the air.
Mr Brandt: Name names.
Hon Mr Peterson: Well, I could look around the chamber and try to be as constructive as I can.
CANADA DAY / FÊTE DU CANADA
Hon Mr Peterson: It is a fact that almost every day in this House we celebrate someone’s national day. It is also a fact that our national day falls on a holiday and we are not here to celebrate that and talk about our own country on the particular day in question, that being next Sunday. I thought it was relevant today that perhaps we should take a moment, at this particularly sensitive time in our history, together, because I think all of us share the common views of our country, to make sure that we did not let our national day go by unnoticed in this Legislature, speaking as we do for all Ontarians in this House.
This has not been an easy time in the history of our country. It will probably not be easy in the next few years as well. But I do know that, at the same time that all members care passionately about this country, that commitment is going to be tested by many as we engage in a new kind of discussion in this country as we think through not only our relationships between our so-called two founding nations but our relationships with our first Canadians. We are being forced by dint of circumstances to go through, I think, a very thoughtful discussion. It will not culminate tomorrow; it will not be decided tomorrow. But at the root of that discussion for me will always be a deep and abiding faith in my country. It will be a great love for this country and a great and very strong desire not to pass on to our children, or my children, anything diminished from what we have today.
Many other countries around the world are going through similar kinds of discussions. It was particularly interesting to me to talk to some of my colleagues from Europe in the last week or so who have been wrestling with these problems over a long period of history. Spain, for example, has four different languages. Germany has worked with these problems with Bavaria and others in a similar kind of federal system.
So there are other answers to the problems that we face, but we have to make sure together that we think out those solutions in careful and thoughtful and hopefully kind and loving ways. There is a tremendous tendency to overreact, to blame someone else for the problems we are facing. That discussion, as far as I am concerned, is over. Now we have got to talk about the future, and we have got to do that as thoughtfully as we possibly can.
This particular Canada Day, on Sunday next, I know most of my colleagues in the House will be participating in Canada Day celebrations in their own communities. I wish them well. There is also, as the members know, a provincial ceremony here at Queen’s Park where we still have nickel hot dogs, and I expect thousands will gather here, as they will across the province.
I guess if you could ask me about my hopes for this Canada Day, I would hope that Ontarians would come out with a spontaneous display of affection, shall we say, for their great country. It is a fact of life that the things we do as individuals -- and we have seen examples of that -- can be very, very hurtful as the repercussions of those are read and interpreted across the country, just as acts of kindness, acts of generosity and acts of love for country, not just in individual cases but multiplied as well, can have positive and beneficial effects as well.
I am looking forward to celebrating Canada Day here at noon on Sunday next at Queen’s Park. I look forward to sharing my great faith in this country with the people of Ontario who will be gathered on that particular occasion. I am very proud to be a Canadian, not just an Ontarian. We have to use the strength and the extra blessings, shall I say, that we have in this province to play a constructive role in the debate that will ensue, and I know that all of my colleagues would share most of the things that I have said now. I am very proud to commend this to my colleagues and invite their participation in the debate. It is time we said Happy Canada Day to ourselves and on behalf of all Canadians and Ontarians.
Mr B. Rae: There has never been a tradition in our country of sort of official patriotism. There has always been, I think, a sense among Canadians that there is no one way in which we must express our love for our country. The great thing about Canada is that it belongs to everybody. It belongs to those of us whose ancestors came across the Aleutian Islands, we are now told, some thousands and thousands of years ago. It belongs to those who came bravely and with great courage 300 or 400 years ago in the most difficult of circumstances. It belongs to those who came by plane, train and boat, who came in every way possible to this country, in so many different times and in so many different circumstances.
Looking around at my fellow members of this House, all of us come from very different backgrounds. We share many different experiences. Our parents and our grandparents have told us different stories of their first days in this country. They have told us stories from our earliest time as children of why they chose to come to Canada and of the kind of opportunity and the kind of marvellous chance that Canada and coming to this country gave to them.
Nous sommes arrivés, comme Canadiens, ayant choisi ce grand pays, tout le Canada en tant que notre foyer. Naturellement, nous pensons tous aux événements récents, aux réalités constitutionnelles, aux changements politiques survenus au pays, mais en même temps nous exprimons les choses que nous avons en commun, c’est-à-dire, que le Canada représente toujours et représentera à tout jamais à la fois un sens d’opportunité et de communauté.
As I say, I do not feel that it is my job particularly to convey one sense of what Canada means rather than another. I can remember as a kid I spent much of my time outside the country. My father was in the foreign service. When I was in the United States, we lived there for six years and everybody else was pledging allegiance to the flag, which you had to do in school every morning. I did not pledge allegiance. I was given an exemption because they realized I was not a citizen of the United States.
We do not have an official way in which we express our love for our country. On the whole, I think that in a sense is a good thing, because it means in many different ways, simply by living in our communities and by fighting for the values which we have, that perhaps is the best way for us to express our love for our country, not by some sort of oppressive single vision of what the country is, but rather by allowing many different routes to the expressions of love of country, love of the land, love of tradition, love of values, love of family, love of friends, love of community, love of the world and the air around us and the people around us, which is really what the country is, what we as Canadians have made of the country.
I want to say to all my fellow Canadians, and not just to citizens of Ontario, because I think, above all, this is a time when we should not be thinking of ourselves as residents of one province or another, that we should be thinking of ourselves as Canadians and we should be expressing our sense as citizens of the world who see a country with a great opportunity, who see a country with a chance to learn so much from the traditions that we draw from and also to teach the world something of the importance of living together, something of the importance of sharing together and something of the importance of learning what it is we owe each other.
On Canada Day, I suspect many Canadians will be enjoying and participating in many festivities. Some Canadians will be working. Firefighters and nurses and others who are providing vital services will be working. I suspect many Canadians will be celebrating, as Canadians celebrate many events, privately and quietly reflecting on what this country has meant to them and to their families. This country is a great and good place. It is a great and good place that we share and are lucky to share, and all of us must do everything we can to see that this great land of ours continues to thrive and to grow and to share what it has with the rest of the world.
Mrs Cunningham: It gives me a great deal of privilege to be able to speak on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus and constituents across the province of Ontario on the subject that is dear to our hearts and the celebration that is most important to citizens right across this country, especially this year, and that is Canada Day.
The celebrations of Canada Day allow all of us to take a moment to reflect on and to appreciate how fortunate we are to be the citizens of a nation whose very existence is predicated on a respect for diversity and a tolerance for dissent. It has been frequently said that our country represents the triumph of politics over geography, economics and, yes, sometimes common sense.
I fervently believe that as long as our politics are informed and guided by tolerance, then we will have the commitment, the energy, the imagination and the courage necessary to build a future for this country and for our children that will advance the common interests of all Canadians in securing for the next generation the peace, the prosperity and above all the unity we ourselves have enjoyed.
Canada Day this year will allow us to express our loyalty to the values which have enabled this unique federation to survive for more than 100 years and to dedicate ourselves to working to ensure that it survives 100 more. I know that right across this province communities will cry out and celebrate for this nation. All of us in this House will be among our citizens, among the people we represent. We will set a good example, we will encourage their loyalty and we will all work hard as elected officials in whatever way we can to make certain that Canada remains strong, great and unified.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
CHILD CARE / GARDE D’ENFANTS
Hon Mr Beer: I would like to inform members today about further steps my ministry is taking to ensure that quality care is maintained in licensed child care centres throughout the province.
Licensing involves an annual inspection of each child care centre by program advisers from my ministry. They are responsible for ensuring that the centres are operated in compliance with the Day Nurseries Act.
The Day Nurseries Act Enforcement Practices Review, which was initiated by my ministry last year, has now been finalized. Today I would like to share with members the measures we are taking to support a stable and high-quality child care system.
J’aimerais aujourd’hui informer les députés des mesures que mon Ministère prend actuellement pour assurer que les garderies agréées de toute la province continuent d’offrir des services de qualité.
Pour chaque garderie agréée, détenir un permis signifie qu’elle doit se soumettre à une inspection annuelle de la part d’un des conseillers de mon Ministère, dont la mandat est de veiller à ce que les garderies soient exploitées conformément aux termes de la Loi sur les garderies.
L’examen des pratiques d’application de la Loi, que mon Ministère avait lancé l’an dernier, est maintenant terminé. Aujourd’hui, j’aimerais faire part aux députés des mesures que nous sommes en train de prendre pour assurer la stabilité et la qualité de nos services de garde d’enfants.
Over the past five years our child care system has grown rapidly to meet the needs of Ontario residents. Funding for child care in Ontario has increased from $88 million in 1985 to $396 million this year. In terms of licensed spaces, there has been a growth of approximately 55%, from 74,000 licensed spaces in March 1985 to about 115,000 spaces as of March this year.
Because of this tremendous growth, and because we are keenly aware that our children must receive safe, high-quality care, my ministry has made licensing enforcement a priority. Last November, I outlined in the Legislature the interim measures that were taken to ensure that all licensed child care operators comply with Ontario’s child care regulations. These measures are now in place.
The final report of the review makes a number of short-term and long-term recommendations to further improve our licensing procedures. We anticipate that they will also improve the quality of licensed child care. The recommendations cover standardized training of ministry licensing staff, improved child care management and further development of policy and procedures for licensing.
We have set the stage for implementation of the recommendations. As a first step, we will be releasing the report today, making it available to ministry staff and to major child care organizations to study. In the fall, we will begin holding advisory sessions with them so that they can help us design changes based on the report’s recommendations.
We will start to make some changes immediately. The first priority will be given to those recommendations which improve compliance with the regulations. Other recommendations’ will require further work and development.
One thing that is very clear is that all staff need to receive specialized, ongoing training in a number of areas concerning licensing and enforcement. This training will enable them to communicate more effectively with centre operators, who will then have a clearer idea as to what is expected of them.
Additional recommendations will need to be integrated into new child care legislation. We will be reviewing the development of licensing expectations for specific programs. For example, different age groups have different needs. Therefore, we will be looking at provisions in the legislation that further the development of programs appropriate for various ages.
Maintaining quality in child care while keeping pace with the fast growth in the system is indeed a challenge, as I have said on numerous occasions in the past, but my ministry will be rising to that challenge by concentrating on our enforcement practices. We remain committed to those children and to those families who have placed their trust in licensed child care centres.
Mr Allen: I am happy to respond to the minister’s statement with regard to his tabling of the Day Nurseries Act Enforcement Practices Review report.
Two years ago, when there was a series of articles in the Globe and Mail outlining some of the major problems with regard to the quality of child care delivery in this province, there was a sense of alarm across the province in terms of the failure of the government at that time in enforcing quality measures or to provide other supports that made quality possible.
Just last year the Provincial Auditor again called our attention to some significant cases where, for example, long-standing provisional licences had gone on and on for years literally without any enforcement measures taken to regularize that situation.
While one is certainly happy to see the improvement of licensing mechanisms, the tightening up of regulations, the improvement of training for inspectors and a whole series of proposals with regard to bureaucratic changes in an in-office sense in order to tighten up supervision, one surely has to come back to the fundamental question, that the issue of quality in the child care system depends upon the overall financial support it gets and the consistency of policy development around that.
I can tell the minister, and he may even know, that within a five-minute walk of this place there is a child care centre with 115 children, at Jesse Ketchum school, which is going to be closing down in September because it has not got the funds available from the ministry to meet the Ontario Building Code requirements to keep the roof from leaking and some other building necessities. So what does one do about quality in that particular case?
One knows that two years ago the ministry changed its policy with regard to the allocation of child care spaces. Suddenly a whole range of development was taking place in Toronto, and people who were expecting to get support for their child care developments found themselves pinching pennies, pushed to the wall budgetarily speaking, with odd mixes of space available and not available, subsidized and otherwise, that did not match up with need. The whole system was thrown into a quality problem as well as a supply problem.
Again, one knows that across the province at the moment there are hundreds of child care centres, just from the point of view of monetary support, on the edge of bankruptcy. One knows also that quality depends upon adequate staff and the support that is given to them with adequate income. Yet we know very well that across this province there are literally thousands of graduates of early childhood education programs who have not been able to stay in their chosen profession because they have not been able to secure competitive incomes to enable them either to stay there with satisfaction or to meet satisfactorily the physical needs of their families. We know that at this point in time the wages in that sector are only 57% of the average industrial wage of this province, and yet these are people whom we asked to be trained and well trained and who deal with some of the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society.
We also know that this government has been unwilling to respond to the pay equity demands and needs of what is almost universally a female profession, unfortunately. It should not be only a female profession, but it is and there are no comparators. The government has been unwilling to find the comparator base which could exist in a community-wide base or in a social-service-wide base. Comparators could be found in similar professions where one could secure a pay equity comparator and yet the ministry has not done that.
There are a whole series of elements that play into the question of quality and quality enforcement, and they are not all simply in terms of bureaucratic enforcement. It is time that this government, after all this time, put that system on an adequate funding base and expanded it beyond the 12% of the eligible child base it now serves and their parents, who often want child care so they can get out and be productive in the workforce.
The quality question is a large and complex question and this government is only tackling a very small corner of it. We hope it tackles that corner well, but there is an awful lot left to be done to deal with the quality question in child care satisfactorily in this province.
Mrs Cunningham: We are always looking for improvements when it comes to the quality of child care across the province for families and children. So as I talk about the response to this enforcement practices review report, I will first remind the minister that we were looking for a discussion paper during the 1988-89 fiscal year, which was the promise of the government in New Directions.
This report, which of course I just received a few moments ago, is long overdue. Certainly the field workers, the front-line workers whom I frequently refer to, whom we rely on to provide the quality of care, have been looking for this for a long time.
I was especially pleased to see that there is a specific section on the importance of training as we take a look at enforcement practices. It is something that has been overlooked in the past and something the government has recognized as being very important, after the input, of course, not only of parents but of professionals and care givers out in the field.
With regard to the short-term recommendations, there are standard requirements for licensing inspections, for example. I believe, as I read this very briefly, the idea that the checklist should be revisited, so that the requirements would be there for some long period of time and standardized across the province, is an extremely important recommendation. We have asked for the clarified roles and responsibility of program advisers in their day-to-day work.
We welcome those short-term recommendations, but I would underline to the minister that we are just wondering what short-term recommendations really mean. I would encourage the minister to be more explicit as to the implementation of this report and would ask that the guidelines around the implementation be made available to all of us as quickly as possible.
If there is to be some discussion on this report, we would appreciate having the opportunity, certainly in our party, to speak to the minister with regard to some of the few controversial statements that I have seen so far. We in the Conservative Party will continue to monitor the progress of this government, and I think it is of paramount importance right across the province that we take a look at the real challenges in child care; that is, the need for more spaces, the need for direct operating grants, the need for programs such as the program at Jesse Ketchum school, that they be continued. There is a real need for us to take a look at the integration of services right across the ministries with regard not only to child care but programs for children as we take a look at the real challenge in the next decade; that is, poverty for young people in Ontario.
We commend the minister. We will have more to say when we have had an opportunity to look at this report in detail.
Mr B. Rae: If I could have one of the pages for a moment, please -- maybe it will take two -- I want to present a petition. I am going to keep one of the cards so I can read it. If the pages could give that to the Premier --
The Speaker: I have not called for petitions.
Mr B. Rae: I just wanted to give it to the Premier, Mr Speaker; I asked that it be delivered to the Premier.
This petition has been drawn up on cards that have been sent in to the Premier from the Toronto association of student councils. It deals with, I think, a growing concern among young people everywhere. They find it difficult to understand why it would be that there are still so many people in the province who are going hungry and why hunger still represents such a painful reality for thousands of kids in Ontario today.
I would like to ask the Premier very directly how he feels about the fact that young students in the province feel that they have to petition his government in order to do something as basic as address the problem of hunger in the province today.
Hon Mr Peterson: The minister can inform my honourable friend of a great number of programs we are engaged in at the moment.
Hon Mr Beer: I think I would say to my honourable friend that no one in this Legislature or in this country can easily comprehend or understand or accept the existence of poverty in a land which, as we have been describing earlier today, is a great land and one in which we have so many resources and where we believe we should be able to ensure that poverty is not here. Yet it is.
I think it is fair to say that in the actions this government has taken over the last number of years, and particularly in the last two years, we have been attempting to focus in a very concentrated way on dealing with some of the root causes of poverty. We have been doing that through looking at the particular situations facing single parents, facing children, facing those who are on social assistance. I think I made a commitment last fall, to a number of the groups and organizations that came to see me after I was named minister, that in the work I and this government did we would try increasingly to focus our attention in Canada on this issue of poverty.
I would like to tell the Leader of the Opposition that last week, at the meeting of social services ministers, we agreed that we are going to meet in the fall specifically on the issue of poverty. We have designated child poverty as a particular issue and used that as a prelude to meeting with the federal government --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I do not think a member of the cabinet of R. B. Bennett would have said anything different from what the Minister of Community and Social Services has just said. R. B. Bennett’s answer to the problem of poverty in the Depression of the 1930s was to say that we will have another meeting. The minister’s answer to this problem is to say we will have another meeting.
Even Gerard Kennedy from the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, who on occasion has had some positive things to say about the Liberal government, is now having to admit, and has said in the newspapers today, that the food bank is having to turn people away, that it is having to ration food which it is giving out to hungry people, that the demand for food is way, way ahead of what it can do and that in fact many food banks are completely incapable of responding to the level of demand.
While the minister talks about having another meeting, his government has cut off the emergency program for food for a great many of these centres. How does the minister square his commitment to dealing with this problem with his government cutting off that kind of necessary funding to these programs?
Hon Mr Beer: I think the honourable member needs to know that in dealing with this particular problem, there are many ways we have gone about attacking it. In the first instance, the kinds of changes that were brought in by my predecessor last year in terms of changes to the basic rates for those on social assistance, for increasing funding for children and for improving the work programs for those on social assistance who would like to get off and increase their weekly earnings, all of those things have started in terms of our response to the social assistance review. The honourable member knows we are continuing with that and we have seen some very positive impacts.
That being said, we recognize and we have said very clearly that there is much more that needs to be done. Part of that is that we have to see this problem as not being one that is solely within Ontario. We need a national approach. As the provincial ministers met, we recognized that indeed there were throughout this country aspects of the overall economic situation where we all collectively had to do a better job and we would be able to do that better if we worked together and if we included the federal government.
I do not for one moment suggest there are not things that we cannot do or that we have not done. We are doing those, but we are moving on to the next phase, which is to do it and take it on as a --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order. Final supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: The minister plays Waiting for Brian and there are people in this province who are going hungry; it is especially notable and offensive among young people.
I would like to ask the minister why he has not worked with the schools, with the entire school system in this province, to identify those kids who are hungry at school, whose whole performance at school is being devastated because they are not getting the food, nutrition and basic standard of living that they need.
Why has the minister not said to the people of the province, “We will mobilize all of our efforts, we will mobilize with the schools and we will build a partnership of which Ontario can be proud”? He should not wait for Brian. People who have been waiting for Brian have suffered long enough. Why does the minister not do something and work with the school boards to make sure that at the very least we do not have hungry kids in our schools?
Hon Mr Beer: If the honourable member would care to talk with a number of the boards he would learn in point of fact that we have been increasingly working much more closely not only with school boards and the Ministry of Education but also with the Ministry of Health. As the member knows, the whole Better Beginnings, Better Futures program has come out particularly from that working together, where we are identifying precisely those young people, those children who are at risk, and moving the resources in to help them.
I think we all recognize when we are discussing poverty that the issue of child poverty is the one that is of most direct and immediate concern, and I would say to the honourable member on the last day of this session that this government is approaching that as a priority and we are going to be working with all of those who are involved.
I simply make the point that when we are dealing with a national problem, we have to demand and expect that the federal government will also be at that table. If Brian will not do it, then perhaps we have to have Jean there to do it. But we are going to work together to make sure that we attack this problem.
Mr B. Rae: Who is the minister going to blame if he gets him?
Mr B. Rae: I have a new question for the Premier. Among the realities of life now in the province, which the government has not been prepared to admit, is the fact that our manufacturing sector is in a recession. If we look at the job loss in the last five months, in absolute terms we have lost over 20,000 jobs in manufacturing. As a province, we are on the edge of a general recession, but when it comes to manufacturing jobs, which are well-paying jobs, we are already in that recession.
Where are all the programs that the Premier and his government have been talking about for the last several years that would allow workers to begin to cope with the size and the extent of this change?
Hon Mr Peterson: There are a number of programs going on in the government that I am sure my honourable colleague is aware of. If he is not, he should be aware of them, from a number of different points of view.
As the members know, there are dramatic changes going on in the industrial base in this country and in other industrial bases across the world. It is not static, the way one would perhaps like. There is a lot of rationalization going on at the present time; there always has been. There is no question it has been accelerated by the free trade agreement, and I am one of those who regret that very much.
But I can tell my honourable friend that a number of programs have been put in place to assist businesses in retooling, building and reinvesting in capital to modernize in this new globalized and competitive world. We have been working very hard to extend our trading relationships to a variety of places around the world.
There have been major new investments in research and technology as well as in the questions of manpower and working with the workforce. What we need is a flexible and trained workforce, as my colleague knows, and we have been working in all of those areas.
Mr B. Rae: First of all. I did not hear any programs. I heard a lot of talk about what the government is doing for companies and how much money it is giving to them. We can document how much money it has given to companies. In fact, sometimes it has robbed jobs out of Windsor and put them into Milton, or it has given $20 million to Magna International Inc.
It has now created a corporate climate where companies are not prepared to invest in the province unless the government is prepared to kick in $5 million. $10 million, $15 million or $20 million. There has not been a major investment of any kind that has taken place in the province unless the government has been prepared to put up taxpayers’ dollars.
Workers are asking very directly what is happening to them. My colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside has pointed out that 3,000 industrial jobs have been lost in Windsor over the past year -- 3,000 jobs. Those are well-paying jobs and that is what workers are looking for.
The Premier talks about flexibility. If his definition of flexibility is forcing workers to go from making $12 an hour to $7 or $7.50 an hour with no pension, no benefits, then that is not flexibility; that is oppression for those workers.
I want to ask the Premier again, where are the programs for people? We know where the programs for business are. They are right in his government. Where are the programs for people?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend is seized in this class warfare mentality typical of socialists, and that is one of the reasons why I say he is not going anywhere; he does not understand the relationships between the two. We have been working co-operatively with labour and business. My honourable friend is aware of the Transitions program, POWA, the program for older worker adjustment, the help centres and a variety of other things.
My honourable friend likes to stand in this House and say we are on the brink of a recession or a depression. It sort of appeals to him in some way, it seems to me. But let me say to my honourable friend he is quite wrong about that. Job creation is still positive. There is obviously not the same growth rate there was a year or two or three ago, but it is still positive growth and still positive employment growth.
Mr B. Rae: A government which has done as much for the insurance industry, for Tridel Corp and the development industry, and for big business in this province does not need any lessons from the New Democratic Party in class politics. The Premier knows what class politics are. He has been practising and playing them ever since he got into power in 1987. That is what he has been doing.
What is not in place is a program that brings the classes and the people of this province together. You have people lining up for food banks at the same time as you have large corporations which are not paying a nickel in taxation. That is the reality of the province that the Premier is presiding over.
I want to repeat and ask the Premier again: Where are the programs for people, the changes, the amendments to the laws in terms of apprenticeship, the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act, the laws which we are willing to deal with in this House that will finally give the working people of this province some ability to control the changes that are happening to them right now?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am tempted to say, if the member accuses me of practising class politics, that the opposite would be true in his case. He practises no-class politics. But I will not say that because it is too obvious; it is far too obvious in the circumstances.
My honourable friend does not understand some of the discussions that have been going on in this province, working, co-operating with labour with respect to job training. Now that may not be with the NDP, but with some of the enlightened leadership in the labour communities along with business leaders. I have told my honourable friend about some of those programs that are being developed. I gave him a list in response to his second supplementary about some of the programs that are ongoing in this province.
We believe that the best job security is a trained and flexible workforce, and that is the approach we are coming with. We are approaching from the point of view that the labour leadership as well as the corporations have a great responsibility in this regard and we are working very closely with them to achieve those objectives.
Mr Brandt: I would like to ask the Minister of Financial Institutions if the no-fault insurance package that he brought forward is as adequate and comprehensive as he has indicated in this House that it is. Why is it that a number of brokers are now writing to their clients indicating that it is virtually necessary for them to have additional, supplementary coverage at substantial additional cost in order for them to have an adequate insurance program? Why would that be the case after the minister has shared numbers with us relative to increases and a whole host of studies and projections, all of which are now out of whack based on what the reality is in the real world in the marketplace?
Hon Mr Elston: I think the reason people are writing to bring to the attention of individuals that they should assess their individual needs under the no-fault plan is that it is a new plan. Each person should take a look at his or her particular circumstances to see whether the combination of auto insurance, disability coverage and whatever is adequate protection in the case of an accident. That is a good question to ask. Everybody must take a good look at his own personal circumstances to be assured that he has the coverage he needs. I think it is a reasonable question, and people can decide that in fact it does cover their reasonable needs, but it does not mean the question ought not to be asked.
Mr Brandt: I am glad that the minister approves of the question, because I have a supplementary. I hope he approves as well of the supplementary that I am going to ask. I might get an answer on this supplementary, hopefully.
One broker in particular has indicated that the clients should check off whether they require $750, $900 or $1,050 a week, whether death benefits should be increased from $25,000 to $50,000 and funeral benefits from $3,000 to $7,500. But here is the part that I think the minister will find of particular interest; I quote directly from the letter: “If you have not returned the form by 12 July 1990, we will assume that you require the maximum coverage and shall bill you the additional premiums.” If they do not hear from the client, they are going to assume that the minister’s program is totally inadequate. Does the minister think that is right? In fact, is that ethical business practice?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman is right to raise the question with me, but he knows that an individual business person will write the type of letter that he thinks will bring to the attention of his clients the necessity of replying to the questions. It may be that the person does not require any optional coverages whatsoever, but the person must assess on his own circumstances the fact of the optional coverages that are available and whether he needs them.
Now this particular person is obviously going to get a response very quickly. Obviously, someone has brought this letter to the member’s attention, which means that everybody’s interest was in fact heightened, I guess would be the way to put it. But in the circumstances, the optional benefits are available for people who need them. They do not have to take them. A simple reply to that individual broker by the client who received that letter is, if he does not need them, “I don’t want them. Don’t bill me.”
Mr Brandt: This is the minister who stood in this House and indicated that 8% increases in urban areas would probably be the benchmark, zero average in rural areas. There would be an adequate insurance package that would be brought forward. Now we have the people in the industry who are saying directly to the minister, through a letter that I will share with him, that his package is totally inadequate. The only way --
Hon Mr Elston: That is not right.
Mr Brandt: That is in fact exactly what they are saying. They are indicating to their clients that if they do not write back and say, “No, we don’t want this whole list of additional coverage,” then they are going to assume automatically that it should be added to their policy and their premium will go up accordingly.
The fact of the matter is that the minister has no idea what his package is going to cost. If you will allow me, Mr Speaker --
The Speaker: To ask your question, sure.
Mr Brandt: My question is, after I finish my preamble, has the minister any reason whatever to believe that the industry he has defended virtually daily in this House is going to be able to bring in anything close to an adequate package of coverage with an 8% increase when, by the way, this government promised that the premiums would go down, not be increased not only are they being increased, but they are being increased --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr Brandt: The minister ought to be embarrassed.
The Speaker: Are you embarrassed, Minister?
Hon Mr Elston: I am not embarrassed. I have undertaken extensive discussions with the gentleman who just spoke to me from time to time on various matters of public policy and I have always admired his business acumen. But in this particular display he has indicated that he has forgotten his roots. He has indicated for a number of years -- in fact, when we knew him better as Interim Andy, he chose to talk to the people in the province as though he were the business personification in Ontario.
Now he brings forth a letter which was designed to bring to the attention of an individual client or a series of clients, through a business broker’s organization, to highlight the need to make a decision, a judgement on whether or not optional coverages are necessary. Those people in fact will reply, I am sure, because they have brought the letter to the attention of the honourable member for Sarnia, that they do not need them.
Let me tell the House this: This particular gentleman is doing nothing more than highlighting one of the benefits of the package which is a mandated optional package of coverages, but those coverages do not have to be picked up. Since this gentleman has highlighted it for the benefit of the folks in the province, they will be quite aware that they should get back right away to the brokers. In fact, if some people feel they are not being dealt with fairly, they can go further; they can go to the insurance commissioner and he will look into the circumstances of that type of activity.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Premier. Last Friday in London I met with a number of groups, Family and Children’s Services of London and Middlesex County, Madame Vanier Children’s Services and Merrymount Children’s Centre, and they expressed to me their great concern about the need for co-ordination of children’s programs, especially for the number of children who have been referred to their agencies and are on waiting lists for treatment.
The summer is coming, the Premier’s government has not responded and this has been an issue for nine months. My question is, what can I take back to the citizens in London and to the families in London and specifically to those agencies in response to this crisis situation for treatment?
Hon Mr Peterson: I refer the question to the minister.
Hon Mr Beer: I think the honourable member can take a good deal back, in that the various organizations representing those she met with in London, the provincial organizations, have been meeting with me and with staff in the ministry to look specifically at a number of issues around funding, co-ordination and the better management of that whole system, and we are attacking, I think, a number of the critical issues including, as the honourable member knows, the issue of the waiting list.
The particular individual who has been working from my office over the last several months very shortly will be bringing in recommendations around the issue of waiting lists, and I think we are going to be able to help specifically in that area. But we have been improving in terms of the base budgets of these agencies and attacking the problem of front-line staff salaries. There is a great deal that is going on, and I think as this year progresses we are going to see some very positive changes in that area.
Mrs Cunningham: We were waiting for the Maloney report to be released this month. It is the last day and it is not here.
“Depressed, suicidal, sexually aggressive. Adult words usually, but also labels used to describe London and area children with emotional and behavioural problems who need professional help now, but are being detoured instead to growing waiting lists.”
That appeared in the London Free Press. It is real.
What am I going to tell the parents of these children about programs that will be made available to them now, especially for those who are in the most urgent of need?
Hon Mr Beer: I have said, again with respect to specific cases, that we do have through my area offices special working groups, committees, that are set up to deal with those individuals who are most at risk. What I would tell my honourable friend to say to families who have come to her is to direct them to the area office. We will ensure that those young people receive the kind of assistance that they require.
Clearly one of the issues here is determining exactly who requires the kind of help and from what agency, but we have made a commitment to try to deal with those who are most at risk. I would ask that the member do that.
Mrs Cunningham: We are very much aware that the minister has appointed someone to review the waiting lists. We have been very patient and were promised to get the Maloney report this June, which may have stated, as the minister said, that there would be some response to what we are going to do about it.
The person who is doing the waiting lists is looking at the ministry’s internal mechanisms -- boy, do we get sick of that phrase “internal mechanisms” -- rather than dealing with the children. The summer is coming. No one is. going to pay any attention to us who represent the public in London, including the Premier, who says, “We’re waiting for the recommendations of ... we’re waiting for the meetings of.... What shall we tell the public this summer about specific programs that will be put up to deal with these emergency cases?
Hon Mr Beer: Let me repeat again, we have been doing specific things. We are not waiting for reports. We are expecting from several reports more assistance in ensuring that we can provide the services that are required, but we have already moved to increase front-line salaries, we have already moved to increase the base budgets of agencies and we have already said that committees are in place. If there are young people who are at risk, then I want to know about it through the committees we have set up through the area offices so we can ensure they get the kind of service that they require.
That is in place; that will go forward. I cannot say to the honourable member that every single child in this province will receive immediate care at the time the child arrives at the door. I wish I could, but that is not the kind of promise I could make at this point and keep. But I can tell the honourable member that what we are focusing on are those most at risk and trying to ensure that they will get the care, the service, the treatment that they require. That is what I would suggest to the honourable member that she say to the families with whom she has been working, to make contact with our area office and we will do our utmost to see that they get the service they require.
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Premier, who I am sure is well aware of the fact that we have a garbage crisis in Metropolitan Toronto as our landfill sites fill up and as communities across the province say they do not want Metro’s garbage.
Knowing the extent of that crisis, I was very surprised to learn today that since January, the Keele Valley landfill site has landfilled over 1,000 tons of scrap tires. We have in this province a tire tax which is generating $45 million a year for the government and which was supposed to tell us how to recycle and environmentally dispose of used tires. Can the Premier explain how he can possibly be using the last remaining landfill capacity in Metropolitan Toronto for used tires, while at the same time his government is amassing millions of dollars from a used tire tax?
Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot speak with any authority on what goes into the landfills, whether it is there or not. I have to take my honourable colleague’s word at face value that this is happening. Obviously, as my honourable friend knows, there are a number of programs under way with respect to the recycling and reuse of tires. My honourable friend is aware of that program; it was announced in the House. If someone is not taking advantage of that, she may have some information that I am not aware of.
Mrs Grier: We do not expect the Premier to take responsibility for everything that is landfilled. I do, however, expect him to take responsibility for the abysmal failure of the programs of his government.
I want to tell the Premier that, since January, the number of tires received at the Keele Valley landfill site has increased; the number of tires being landfilled has increased and the number of tires being recycled has decreased. Does the minister agree with me that this represents an abject failure on the part of his government to deal with the problem that it acknowledged was a problem, that it raised a special tax to deal with the problem over a year ago and that it has absolutely failed to solve?
Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot speak to the numbers with any authority. As my honourable friend knows, there are a number of very creative programs under way at the present time to recycle and reuse tires, and other programs. I am sure my honourable friend is aware of that. We never promised instant results, but I think my friend can continue to have great confidence in the environmental policies of this government, which will advance the knowledge in this area and lead to real solutions.
Mr Jackson: I guess speaking without authority is becoming a theme for the Premier.
Mr Jackson: I have a question of the Premier. This summer the Premier will be undertaking, at least in his mind, I would imagine, what he refers to as meaningful political campaigning as he attends a series of premature pre-election Liberal barbecues. One member of the press gallery referred to it sort of tongue in cheek as David’s “Be Happy Don’t Worry” Summer Tour ’90. In so doing, it is presumable that the Premier will be talking to many of Ontario’s citizens and that he will be listening to them, as he predictably does on the eve of an election. Has the Premier personally requested that his busy barbecue circuit schedule be adjusted so he can attend at least one meeting of at least one of Ontario’s 110 food banks this summer?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have met with a number. I met with Mr Kennedy not too long ago and I have chatted about some of the problems. I am very happy responding to invitations that I am invited to if I can work them into my schedule.
Mr Jackson: As the Premier is undoubtedly aware, over 80,000 people each month here in Toronto are relying on food banks, and yesterday the Liberal member for Kitchener rose in the House to table a petition that was condemning the government for its cutbacks to food banks at this critical time when rental costs are out of control and when people in this province are denying food to their mouths in order to ensure a roof over their heads. The Toronto Star this morning carries a headline, “Food Banks Forced to Ration, ‘People with Dignity’ Going Hungry as Donations Fall Short.”
As the Premier attends his barbecues this summer to announce how well-off Ontario residents are, will he be willing to meet face to face with residents of this province, numbering now over 200,000, who are going without food, who are hungry and who are losing that sense of dignity? Is he prepared to meet with these people this summer?
Hon Mr Peterson: I meet regularly with people from all walks of life in this province. I have done it for the last 15 years and I will continue to do that. One tries to develop programs on the basis of those very human experiences that we all have. We have never argued perfection in this government, but I will tell the member what we have said. It is such a profound change from the hypocrisy of the former government, and I think people understand that. We do not claim perfection, but they can tell the genuine article from someone who comes along laterally, and I am very happy to share our successes and our failures with the people of the province.
GREATER TORONTO AREA
Mr Faubert: My question is of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. On Monday the minister announced a strategy to move ahead with managing the matter of promoting and encouraging co-ordinated planning between and among all regional and local municipal governments in the greater Toronto area. Such issues as directing growth, transportation, social services and infrastructure planning and how they are dealt with will be extremely important across the next decade. As a former member of the Scarborough and Metropolitan Toronto councils, I applaud this recognition of the need for such collaborative planning in the whole of the greater Toronto area. Can the minister outline the objectives and expectations of this recent initiative?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member is representative of about 400 people who met on Monday, comprising councillors from 35 municipal governments across the greater Toronto area. They were coming to a point in the greater Toronto co-ordinating discussion whereby we had some proposals to lay before them for options and alternatives as to the direction in which we wanted this area to grow. We clearly had reached a consensus already that we could expect a population growth in the greater Toronto area of somewhere in the neighbourhood of about two million people, going from four million to six million over the next 25 years, approximately.
The main questions were, where were they going to live? Where were they going to work? How would they get from one place to the other? We realize that the location of roads, the location of water pipelines would be determining factors in those kinds of questions; therefore, the purpose of the greater Toronto co-ordinating committee, which was set up by the Premier back in 1987, was to bring together those 35 municipal councils and the people living in those 35 municipalities to reach a sense of consensus as to what was the best direction for the next 10, 15, 20 years and what kind of land use we want to entertain over that period of time.
Mr Faubert: I am certainly pleased that the province is playing this leadership role in co-ordinating and facilitating better planning among regional and local municipal councils in the GTA. However, since planning has always been a local responsibility, some municipal leaders have expressed concern that the greater Toronto co-ordinating committee’s activities may be foreshadowing the creation of some kind of GTA political structure. Can the minister assure this House that such plans are not under consideration?
Hon Mr Sweeney: When speaking to the 400 councillors last Monday, I made it very clear on behalf of this government that the GTA is not and will not become another level of government. It is precisely as it speaks: It is a co-ordinating committee. It is a co-operative and a joint planning committee. It is a visionary committee. It is an attempt for all of us to get together and to work together, realizing that none of those 35 municipalities and none of those five regions can any longer do things that do not impact on the others.
The location of a new subdivision affects the transit congestion. The location of a road, the location of a pipeline impacts on the future of all the people in the region. I was very impressed and very pleased that all of those municipal councillors were willing to see that in a visionary way, to see the necessity for them to work together, but they clearly appreciate that their individual municipalities will retain their jurisdiction and that the GTA will not be another level of government.
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Premier, who will no doubt be aware that last October the Atomic Energy Control Board made a submission to the Treasury Board of Canada. The submission was designed to document for the Treasury Board why the AECB needed additional funds in order to adequately perform its role as regulator of the nuclear industry in Canada. That submission said AECB’s review of safety has also been too simplistic. As a result, there is a legacy of unresolved safety issues that should be addressed further. This issue is particularly important as 12 of Canada’s largest reactors are close to Toronto. That refers to the eight reactors at Pickering and the four at Darlington.
Have the Premier and his government been in touch with the AECB to identify what that legacy of unresolved safety issues specifically refers to, and will the Premier assure this House that the Environmental Assessment Board panel hearing Hydro’s plan review will be apprised of the facts of outstanding safety issues with existing reactors?
Hon Mr Peterson: First of all, I do not follow crown agency submissions to the Treasury Board in Ottawa, and I am sure my honourable friend does not really expect that I would. Second, the member can be absolutely confident that the board will listen to virtually everybody, and if he has any ideas of information that he thinks should be presented at that hearing, he should please take them to it.
Mr Charlton: The document I am talking about was very difficult to receive because the Atomic Energy Control Board has not released it publicly and the Premier, through Ontario Hydro, has access to all documentation that the AECB has in reference to Ontario Hydro. So the government certainly has access to this documentation which, I might add, says:
“Years of successful accident-free operation, which are the hallmark of the Canadian nuclear program, are not by themselves proof of adequate safety. Canada has amassed about 170 years of operation of large reactors, compared with 480 years in the United States and 270 years in the USSR at the time of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, respectively. The likelihood of serious accidents cannot be judged from statistics such as these, and Candu plants cannot be said to be either more or less safe than other types.”
This information calls into serious question everything that Ontario Hydro has told us about the Candu reactors that it operates and, as well, the nuclear safety review which this government did two years ago. Will the Premier assure this House that this whole matter will be looked into in relation to the Minister of Energy’s responsibility for Ontario Hydro?
Hon Mr Peterson: Yes.
Mr Jackson: I have another question for the Premier. In September 1988 this government invited the Ontario Teachers’ Federation to negotiate a new pension deal that would allow teachers and the government equal and full partnership. Despite these promises, negotiations broke down on the issue of unilateral binding arbitration by this government. Teachers felt this was a necessary feature of joint plan management, but the Liberals refused to accept this mechanism for equitable dispute resolution.
Last December the government slammed the door on teachers; yet six months later this is the first province to throw the door open and give binding arbitration to crown attorneys and other government lawyers. What has changed the mind of this government in six months?
Hon Mr Peterson: They are not related at all.
Mr Jackson: Did you hear what he said, Mr Speaker? I did not even hear what he said.
Hon Mr Sweeney: Listen.
Mr Jackson: I was trying to listen. No one has changed his mind? Was that the answer? Very good.
Ontario is the only government in Canada that is giving binding arbitration to government lawyers, and yet Ontario has not taken a similar lead when it comes to teachers. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have developed and offered binding arbitration models for their professional teachers. Why is it that this Liberal government’s policy on binding arbitration is so selective, contradictory and discriminatory?
Hon Mr Peterson: It is not, and they are not related, as I said.
RAPE CRISIS CENTRES
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Solicitor General. Recently I received a copy of a letter sent to the Solicitor General by the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa. In it, they question why the K-W Sexual Assault Counselling Centre seems to have been shut out of the $28.8-million initiative to support sexual assault and rape crisis centres.
The Kitchener-Waterloo sexual assault support centre opened its doors in October 1989 and in just a few short months, without the benefit of any formal advertising program, it has had 400 requests for its services, so this is obviously a much-needed service.
I understand that they are relying virtually entirely on private donations, but I also understand that this week they faxed to the Solicitor General an inquiry about the possibility of funding for support for their valuable work. I would like to add my endorsement to that.
The question is, can the minister indicate if he has received the application for funding and, if so, what is the status of it?
Hon Mr Offer: Let me first indicate that the information the honourable member has indicated is information which certainly we have received at the ministry. We have responded back to the centre, indicating that what is required is a formal application. It is important to note that the province of Ontario currently funds 20 rape crisis centres. That particular centre is not one that currently is in receipt of the so-called core funding. However, we have indicated to that centre that we would be pleased to receive an application. Upon receipt of that application, we would forward it on to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues for assessment and potential acceptance.
Mr D. R. Cooke: That is an encouraging answer. These matters are obviously of great concern to a great number of people. I wonder if the Solicitor General can indicate what initiatives are available in his ministry to assist organizations such as the Kitchener-Waterloo sexual assault centre?
Hon Mr Offer: I think it is important to recognize, as I earlier indicated, that there are currently 20 rape crisis centres that are funded by the province at this point in time. It is important to note that the total funding for those centres a year ago was $600,000. On the basis of demonstrated need, identifying issues that have to be addressed, this government recently increased the funding for those centres from $600,000 to $1.8 million, which is a threefold increase.
In addition to that, we are involved in a series of ongoing consultations across the province dealing with matters of mutual concern, where we enlist the help of those members who run rape crisis centres so that we can better, more effectively and more comprehensively meet the needs of those who so badly need those needs to be met. We are working in co-ordination and in consultation through an interministerial committee, which as I indicated earlier is headed by the minister for women’s issues, and we are going to continue to do that.
These are issues which are ongoing, which evolve. This government has addressed this recently through a threefold increase in funding. We intend to continue not only to identify those issues which are to be addressed but to act on them.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware of the strike by employees of Jaeger Canada Equipment in St Thomas who are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 2729. These employees have been giving concessions since 1982 because of the financial situation of the company, concessions which have included the loss of their dental plan, the loss of their COLA or cost of living allowance clause, the loss of two yearly holidays and settlements of far less than the cost of living for an average of 3%. They have been without a contract now for six months.
This good-faith bargaining has now brought them strikebreaking scabs after their jobs, months without a contract, violence against the strikers and company efforts to break the strike by attempting to obtain an injunction. Can the Minister of Labour tell us if this is the kind of union-management relations we are heading for in Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: I would repeat what I think I said in the House before, that I think in the province we actually have been blessed with good labour relations. One of the criteria I use is resolution of collective bargaining that has been reached without any kind of dispute; I think the number of person-years lost through industrial disputes is at about half the level it was in the first half of this decade.
I think our union leadership and our corporate leadership have shown a strong commitment to bargaining in good faith. I think to take one case and generalize would be wrong. If we look at the facts, we have been fortunate in this province, because of responsible leadership on both sides, to have a climate of good industrial relations. When we run into a situation where we have one that may be, I hope, an anomaly, we do have measures so that both parties can seek redress -- the Ontario Labour Relations Board. If it is bargaining in bad faith, I would suggest they make an application to that board.
Mr Mackenzie: I hope the minister is right and that we are not on the edge of some serious problems in bargaining, as I think he knows is a fear of a lot of people.
At least 23 scabs are currently doing the jobs of the workers in this plant who are involved in a legal strike situation. Two pickets have been injured and charges laid against management. The company is seeking an injunction currently. The company sneaked off to the Ramada Inn in London to hire these strikebreakers.
Can the minister tell us if he as Minister of Labour supports this kind of corporate labour relations? If what he is telling us is that he does not, is he prepared to bring in legislation that prevents such blatant strikebreaking activities in legal strike situations such as Quebec now has?
Hon Mr Phillips: I believe we will continue to have a climate of good industrial relations in the province. That does not mean, particularly as we seem to be having somewhat more difficult economic times right now, that there will not be some difficult negotiations. I do not mean to suggest they will not occur, but in terms of a climate of professional industrial relations, I think that will continue.
I repeat what I said earlier. There are measures available to either side. If either side is not bargaining in good faith there is our labour relations board, and if for any reason either side is not acting within the law, our police organizations also can be called in. I would hope both parties would recognize that they have legal redress for legitimate grievances they choose to bring.
I repeat that it is my hope that because of the responsible leadership on both sides, we will continue to have that climate of good industrial relations. We are, frankly, a bit of a model in North America, on both sides. I do not suggest for a minute that we may not have difficult times over the next few months, because we are looking at some significant collective bargaining that will be going on, but I have confidence in the leadership of both sides that they will work their way through it.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Housing. I want to bring to his attention that on Monday, Toronto city council voted to ask both the provincial and federal governments to look into the methods being used at the present time to select tenants for co-op housing units.
Toronto city council has asked specifically that both levels of government responsible for funding this program look at upper-income levels or caps, as we have discussed in this House. They have also asked that such questions as the issue of single individuals living in two-bedroom apartments be reviewed. On 15 June the federal minister of housing indicated he is prepared to take a look at these programs and perhaps make some observations with respect to changes that may seem appropriate.
I have discussed this with the minister in this House on many occasions. He knows my feelings, which are very strong, about some who are taking advantage of government programs that are subsidized at the expense of other citizens who are not able to be admitted into affordable housing.
I ask the minister if he is prepared to join with the federal government, and the minister of housing specifically, in order to review these programs and the areas of concern I have raised with him.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member is probably aware of the fact that until 1986 co-operative housing in Ontario, as across the rest of the country, was the jurisdiction of the federal government. At that time they had a requirement that a minimum of 25% of their co-operative housing would be in the rent-geared-to-income area and up to 75% would be in market housing. In 1986 the province took over the responsibility for this program. Our requirement is that approximately 70% of co-operative housing would be rent-geared-to-income and only 30% would be market housing, so there has been a considerable shift since 1986. The record seems to indicate that the particular buildings and persons who have been described recently are part of that pre-1986 program, not the post-1986 program.
The second thing I would share with my honourable friend, as I promised him in a previous question, is that I have contacted the co-op management teams of the various projects for which we are responsible and asked if they would indicate to us exactly how they are operating. A number of them have written back to me already and said they have built income ceilings into their program, and I am waiting for a report from the other ones. The general sense I am getting back is that they feel they have this generally under control, at least the post-1986 buildings.
Mr Brandt: I applaud any of the co-op associations for bringing in caps with respect to upper limits on income. I believe, however, that is a provincial responsibility and some guidance should be given by the minister in connection with that whole issue. I have gone on record, and our party has gone on record, as being in favour, as we have been for some long time, of mixed incomes in those particular units. But I think it is absolutely an absurdity when some individuals with very high incomes are allowed to remain in those kinds of government subsidized units.
There are two things I want to ask specifically of the minister on this very interesting day that we have had here in the House. First, will the minister give an undertaking that he will look at an upper limitation or cap on incomes with respect to co-op housing programs? Second, will he give an assurance that he will bring forward the necessary amended legislation that will disallow any possibility of the sale of a co-op unit resulting in a profit to the individual residing in such a unit? Will he look at those two issues?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The short answer to both questions is yes. As a matter of fact, though, putting a little bit of detail around it, one of the things we want to be careful of is that when we moved from the province being totally responsible for Ontario Housing Corp stock to community agencies and community groups that would be responsible for non-profit housing and co-op housing, we had a contractual relationship with them that they would be responsible for managing it, and there is a distinct limit on the number of rules we have with them.
I would much prefer if we can accomplish the same goal in getting them to agree to do this on their own, rather than my having to enforce something. My sense, from talking to both the non-profits and the co-ops, which operate fairly similarly, is that they are prepared to do that in a voluntary fashion and that is what we are waiting for right now.
With respect to the ownership down the road, roughly about 35 years down the road, I think I have already indicated in the House that I totally agree with the honourable member’s observation and we are looking at two or three legislative mechanisms right now to enforce that. The current one is a change to the Corporations Act and whatever else is necessary for those buildings for which we are responsible.
Mr Callahan: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Much has been said in the House today about food banks and how they do not serve the real needs of the poor of this province, and this city particularly.
I have to indicate that when I was a councillor of the city of Brampton, I visited a co-operative in the city of San Francisco that was run on the basis of an incorporated body. Its members were only people who qualified for assistance. They were given a specific card to identify them as being people who were receiving that type of assistance. They were allowed to participate in this co-op and to pay prices that were lower than the going rate. It created a good deal of dignity for these people. It took over from the food stamp process they had in the United States.
I wonder if his ministry has looked at or would consider looking at that, either directly or through some sort of a task force, to determine whether that would be feasible in this province.
Hon Mr Beer: I think I would want to say to my honourable friend that in terms of this question, my ministry would be prepared to look at any number of innovative proposals.
I think it is important to underline again, however, that in approaching the question of hunger and poverty we recognize that in dealing simply with the question of food banks we are not dealing with the root causes. Stemming from the Social Assistance Review Committee report, what we wanted to try to do was to attack some of the systemic bases of this whole issue. That was why we looked at things such as the basic rates that were paid for food and clothing and for shelter and made significant increases to them, why we are so concerned about the question of child poverty and made changes in terms of the amounts of funding going for children, why we were looking at the question of the minimum wage and the Minister of Labour made a change to that, why as well, looking at the tax system, we have been able to take more people off the rolls.
We will look at all of these various approaches, but I want to stress again to the honourable member that the issue of poverty is --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Ward moved that the following substitutions be made to the membership of committees: on the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs, Mrs Cunningham for Mr Harris; on the standing committee on government agencies, Mr Runciman for Mr Pope; on the standing committee on public accounts, Mr McCague for Mr Harris.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Reville: I have a petition here from some 10,000 southeast Asians who live in Ontario, who are Canadians, who are concerned about the shortage of nursing home beds. I have signed my name to the petition.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Sterling: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor.
“We request that the Ministry of the Attorney General withdraw Bill 149, An Act to amend the Trespass to Property Act, which we believe is unnecessary and without mandate.
“While we respect the rights of minorities and youth, whom Bill 149 alleges to protect, we oppose the way in which the proposed legislation will erode the ability of owners and occupiers to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their patrons or customers. We are further concerned about the legislation’s potential for increasing confrontation in the already difficult process of removing individuals who create disturbances on publicly used premises.”
I have signed that petition of 581 names. It brings the total to 5,239 people who have signed petitions of the like. In response to their --
The Speaker: Order.
CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE
M. Daigeler: J’ai une pétition signée par 30 residents de la province de l’Ontario et la pétition se lit comme suit:
« Nous désirons par la présente que le ministre de l’Éducation, M. Sean Conway, entreprenne dès maintenant les démarches nécessaires pour la création d’un conseil scolaire de langue française dans Prescott et Russell avant les élections de novembre 1991. »
NORTHERN HEALTH TRAVEL GRANTS
Mr Hampton: I have a petition that is signed by over 150 people from the township of Atikokan. The petition states:
“Whereas the Atikokan Hospital and Atikokan Medical Clinic are able to provide only a limited array of health care services for the residents of Atikokan; and
“Whereas many residents of Atikokan must travel to Thunder Bay, a return distance of 384 kilometres, to access health care services prescribed for them by their family physician in Atikokan;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To amend the northern health travel grant program so that Atikokan residents who must travel to Thunder Bay to access prescribed health care services are eligible for northern health travel grant assistance for their medically necessary travel from Atikokan to Thunder Bay.”
I have affixed my signature to this petition, and I most heartily agree with it.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES
Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d). You will be aware that this is not the first time we have raised this matter.
Since the election of this government, it has become increasingly difficult to get information on a wide variety of matters. However, it has reached the point of utter ludicrousness. Every question standing in Orders and Notices but one is in violation of standing order 95(d), which states, “The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days.” Of the 71 unanswered questions in Orders and Notices, 43 of them are from 1989, 33 alone from June 1989, one year ago.
This failure to answer questions in Orders and Notices is not only a breach of our standing orders, it is also a breach of the privilege under the Legislative Assembly Act, paragraph 45(1)6, which states that a breach of privilege occurs when there is a refusal to produce papers before the assembly or a committee thereof.
As a member of this assembly, I feel that I have a right to the access of information that is essential for me to do my job as a representative of the people of Ontario.
Mr Speaker, in the past you have stated that you were unable to act upon the infringement of this standing order. However, I would ask you at this time to take into account the deliberate and continual disregard of the standing orders of this Legislative Assembly and the rights of the opposition by this government.
This government is clearly uninterested in responding to very responsible and legitimate questions about its activities. The government’s blatant disregard of our legitimate requests under standing order 95(d) indicates to me that this government is not interested in being accountable or is deliberately avoiding accountability.
Mr Speaker, I know you cannot enforce ministers to give quality responses to questions in Order and Notices, you cannot force them to table reports, and you cannot force them to answer freedom-of-information requests, but you do have some power in enforcing the standing orders. Therefore, I would ask that you take the necessary steps to ensure that standing order 95(d) is complied with and not shown total disregard, as it has been by this government.
The Speaker: I thank the member for his point of order and point of view. In case the government House leader has not heard that, I will certainly bring it to his attention as strongly as I possibly can.
SUPPORT AND CUSTODY ORDERS ENFORCEMENT
Mr Hampton: I have a further petition. Is it too late?
The Speaker: Would the members allow the member for Rainy River to present his -- one petition?
Mr Hampton: This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the children in over 50,000 families across the province of Ontario are suffering needlessly because they are not receiving court-ordered child support payments; and
“Whereas legislation was adopted in 1985, the Support and Custody Orders Enforcement Act, to address this situation; and
“Because this legislation is not being adequately enforced by the Attorney General of Ontario, the children continue to suffer.
“We, the undersigned, petition the Attorney General of Ontario as follows:
“To have the Ministry of the Attorney General devote sufficient staff, resources and authority to the support and custody orders enforcement program so that it may be properly enforced and the backlog of unenforced support orders may be reduced and, preferably, eliminated.”
I have signed this petition.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
POLICE SERVICES ACT, 1990
Consideration of Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services.
Hon Mr Offer: As a preliminary matter, I would request leave to take a front seat, with assistants.
Hon Mr Offer: While the table is being prepared, I have earlier spoken to the critics dealing with this bill. We have reprinted the bill for consideration before the committee today and I would ask for unanimous consent for its usage.
Mr Sterling: Just prior to giving our consent on such a matter, I want to tell you, Mr Chairman, that this matter of giving consent with regard to the reprinting of the bill and without having to introduce some 102 amendments to the Police Act, Bill 107, causes me great, great concern, in that there has been no discussion in committee on a clause-by-clause basis of 102 amendments because there was not time, there were so many groups from the public who wanted to have their say, and I will be having comments in that regard at a later part of our proceedings.
The Acting Chair (Mr Reycraft): But we do have your consent to deal with the reprinted bill?
Mr Sterling: Yes.
The Acting Chair: The first order of business will be to find out which other sections in the reprinted bill are going to be put forward for amendment or for which there will be amendments proposed.
Mr Philip: I have quite a few amendments, as does my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold, but a number of these amendments are dependent on the passage of an amendment to section 98. Because of the time frame, it seems unnecessary -- in the event 98 were not passed, then all of the previous amendments that I would be proposing would be irrelevant to the bill.
I have spoken to the minister and to the Conservative critic and I have suggested that as a way of facilitating our way of dealing with this we could stand down the earlier sections and deal with 98, which deals with the crucial issue of the independence of the police investigation. If my amendment is acceptable, then we can proceed in order through the bill. If my amendment is not acceptable to the House, then I would withdraw a great number of the amendments that I have. I think that would save the House a considerable amount of time.
The Acting Chair: Could we get it clarified as to whether or not you are talking about section 98 in the reprinted bill or section 98 in the original bill?
Mr Philip: I believe they are the same.
The Acting Chair: So your request is that we stand down sections 1 to 97 and deal with section 98 first?
Mr Philip: Yes, deal with section 98 first and then we can go back to the other sections in an orderly fashion. If that were done, and if by any chance the government does not see the wisdom of my amendment, then I would withdraw a number of my other amendments and it would remove the necessity of my reading a great number of amendments into the record.
Mr Kormos: If I may expand on that, Mr Chair, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, as you have just been told and as you well know because he tabled them with the Clerk some time ago, has a number of amendments to the bill in areas that have attracted some special concern, not only on his part but on all of our parts. I too have tabled with the clerk earlier today some five amendments dealing with section 27 and with section 31 of Bill 107.
We have less than two hours to deal with the bill, to deal with amendments in committee of the whole House, and the member for Carleton is dead on. He is 100% correct. The standing committee on administration of justice did not concern itself, it was not permitted to address itself, to the matter of clause-by-clause consideration or to the matter of amendments, be they opposition members’ amendments or otherwise. So we have only an hour and 20 minutes, and we still have to do Bill 145, the member for Cambridge’s gun replica bill. If that bill is not passed this afternoon, more police officers’ lives are going to be jeopardized this summer.
Just as we can go to section 98 first to deal with the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale’s amendment. I am hoping similarly we can go to sections 27 and 31, respectively, to deal with those amendments.
The Acting Chair: I wonder if we could deal with the request from the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale now, and if you have a subsequent request to make to the committee later, we can deal with it then.
Mr Kormos: But I am hoping we could map this out now so we can do things in as orderly a way as possible, seeing as how the opposition has been so co-operative in terms of the types of consensus given to the government in this regard.
Hon Mr Offer: My understanding of the matter is that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has an amendment numbered section 98. He has indicated that if we can deal with that particular amendment first, it would make a number of other amendments which he has also proposed prior to section 98 not necessary to be moved.
Mr Philip: If it’s defeated.
Hon Mr Offer: If it is defeated, yes. I have no objection to dealing with the proposal the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has outlined, on the understanding that when we deal with section 98 we would then revert back to the beginning of the bill and then proceed in order through it, thereby dealing with some of the amendments the member for Welland-Thorold wishes us to deal with.
The Acting Chair: Mr Sterling, are you agreeable to Mr Philip’s request to stand down sections 1 to 97 and proceed to 98?
Mr Sterling: Yes.
The Acting Chair: Does the committee agree to the request?
Mr Philip moves that section 98 of the bill be struck out and that the following be substituted:
“98(1) A police complaints commissioner shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the address of the assembly.
“(2) The commissioner is an officer of the Legislature and reports to the assembly.
“(3) The commissioner shall hold office for a term not exceeding five years, may be reappointed by a further term or terms not exceeding five years in each case, and may be removed at any time for cause by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the address of the assembly.
“(4) The commissioner has the following powers and duties:
“1. Receiving, investigating and dealing with complaints in accordance with this part.
“2. Conducting investigations and audits of activities of police forces to identify patterns and systemic problems in the provision of police services.
“(5) The commissioner shall maintain copies of all records, reports and other materials received in connection with complaints, investigations and audits.
“(6) The commissioner may establish local offices.
“(7) Anything that is given to or served upon the commissioner under this part may be given or served at one of the local offices.
“(8) The commissioner’s accounts shall be audited annually by the Provincial Auditor.”
Mr Philip: I have tabled that amendment with the Clerk and provided copies to the Conservative Party and to the minister.
We heard from numerous deputations in the committee. The hearings very much resembled the hearings that we had in 1981 when I chaired the standing committee on administration of justice and we had hearings on the original police complaints bill introduced by the Honourable Roy McMurtry.
There are a number of problems with this bill. Some of the problems we will deal with later, such as my concern about the right that I think police should have to political action, the same as any other citizen, and that is not covered in this amendment. But some of the other concerns are concerns that are similar to the concerns that were expressed in 1981.
First, the right of the commissioner, or the ombudsman, if you like -- I prefer to use that term because it is one that I am used to using in the literature -- should have the right to conduct his own systemic studies into patterns of problems that may be going on. We see that if we look at ombudsmen throughout the world and if we look at our own Ombudsman, and indeed our human rights commissioner, that particular Ombudsman has that power.
Second, there should be a provision for an independent audit. That was the recommendation of various groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Last, I think it comes down to a matter that we have dealt with both in 1981 and in these hearings; namely, the credibility of a police complaints inquiry. We have had various members, from civil liberties groups to municipal people to members of the visible minority groups, argue that if an investigation is not entirely independent, then whatever the results of that investigation, there will still be a cloud over it.
We have also had people, particularly from my own riding, who may not be members of the visible minority community but who come from countries where the police have been part of a totalitarian system. In my own riding of Etobicoke-Rexdale I have a number of people who have suffered under police brutality behind the Iron Curtain. I have a number who have come from Chile. I have a number who have come from some of the less democratic nations on the continent of Africa. Indeed, I have a great number who have suffered under the junta that luckily has disappeared in Argentina. Those people, even though they may not be members of visible minorities, none the less have within them a real fear of going to the police or of having the police investigate any kind of complaint which they may lodge.
So whether or not the results of the investigation would be different, and they may well not be different, there is the problem of perception and there is the problem of usage; namely, that people who are afraid of an investigative system will not use it.
In 1981 the leader of the Liberal Party, Stuart Smith, said, and I refer members to Hansard, page 2069:
“I would recommend that when we bring back this police bill we allow for the civilian commissioner to do the review right off the top and not have to wait for the police to investigate themselves.”
At some length, the member for Bruce, who is a member of this assembly, argued, in responding to the amendment which I put in committee:
“From the number of people who testified before us, I think it is quite clear there is some concern. I think it can be noted without making too contentious a statement that there is at least some concern in the community, at least to the people who appeared before us to represent visible minority groups and various minority groups, that perhaps the investigative procedure is a vital instrument in dealing with the complaints being lodged against the police.”
He went on to say, “Mr Borovoy” -- and Mr Borovoy made the same arguments in 1981 as he made before our committee just recently -- “I must also suggest that Mr Borovoy’s position from the outset was that he preferred to have independent investigative proceedings.” The member for Bruce -- and I do not want to prolong the debate on this -- went on to give his arguments as to why he supported Mr Borovoy’s position and my position.
Later, when the bill came into the House, the Liberal members, being the official opposition at that time, were indeed so concerned about this issue -- the very amendment, in a different form, that I have just moved -- that they jumped up quickly, as was their right as the official opposition, and moved my amendment before I could have an opportunity to move that same amendment which I had moved in committee. They must have felt very strongly about this issue or they would not have tried to suddenly to take an amendment which I had introduced in committee and introduce it in the House as their own particular amendment.
Indeed, if you read the statements by the various members, be it the member for Brant-Haldimand, the member for Lambton or the member for Bruce, you will see that they all say that is the crucial issue in the bill. Indeed, the member for Bruce, who was leading his party in this issue, said, “I wish to rise at this time to indicate that we will not be supporting the bill in principle because of some of the situations that have been pointed out previously to the Solicitor General.” The primary situation he was referring to in that debate and in that bill was the problem that the investigation should from the very start be done independently and be under the direction of the police complaints commissioner.
So in a sense what I am moving is an amendment which reflects perfectly the amendment that the Liberals posed in this House in 1981, when they felt that the Conservative legislation at that time did not go far enough. At the time, Mr McMurtry argued very well. He said: “Look, we are into a new situation. This is a pilot project. We have to give it time. I recognize that it may not go as far or do as much as you, or indeed as I, would like, but give it time and we can look at it in three years.”
It has been more than three years. The opposition parties -- the New Democrats, who were the third party at that time, and the Liberals -- felt that they could not support it primarily because of this one issue. Now what we have is the Liberal government introducing legislation that has the same error, if you want, that the Liberals felt so strongly about that they had to vote against the bill in 1981.
I am not going to do a lot of rhetoric about flip-flops and inconsistencies and so forth. All I am asking is that the Liberals now strongly consider that they had an opportunity in 1981 to set up a truly independent police inquiry system. They chastised the Conservatives for not doing so. They felt so strongly about it that they, along with the New Democrats, moved amendments to make it so; and now they are extending to the rest of the province what is an expansion of the original police complaints system that Mr McMurtry set up.
I say this amendment is consistent with what the Liberals were asking for in 1981 and I would urge the government to do in government what it has preached in opposition. If this amendment and certain other amendments, such as the right of police to free political expression, do not pass, it is safe to say I cannot recommend that we vote for this bill.
Hon Mr Offer: I have listened carefully to the submissions made by the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Before discussing that, I want to take a moment to thank him for his contribution to the committee process, not only on this bill but dealing with an earlier bill, Bill 4. I know very much of the work he has done in the area.
I must say we cannot accept this particular amendment. I think we have to recognize that what we are doing in this particular piece of legislation dealing with the public complaints system is expanding and building upon the success of a system which currently exists in Metro Toronto. We are expanding upon that by expanding the system to all parts of the province so that it is applicable to all municipal police forces, regional police forces or indeed the OPP. Currently, as we know, this particular system only exists in Metro Toronto. The particular piece of legislation before the House expands it so that all citizens of this province, if they have cause to initiate a complaint, will have a mechanism to do so, which complaint may in the final analysis be determined by a civilian board of inquiry.
We are expanding the system and we are building upon the success of the existing system in Toronto.
Dealing with the submissions made by the honourable member dealing with audit function, I think it is important to note that currently, dealing with the Police Services Act before this Legislature, there is given to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services -- a commission which was previously known as the Ontario Police Commission -- a role that is very much akin to an audit function. Under clause 25(l)(c) there is the right of the commission, which may, at the Solicitor General’s request or at a municipal council’s request or indeed of its own motion, investigate, inquire into and report on “the manner in which police services are provided for a municipality.” I believe that in many ways provides the door, the framework the member has previously alluded to.
A final point I would like to make talks to the initiation of complaints. It is true that complaints, save as to exceptional circumstances, cannot be initiated by anyone other than a complainant. That is true in the current system existing in Metro Toronto and it will be true in this expanded system for all citizens of Ontario.
But we have listened closely to the representations not only of the member but of individuals who came before the committee. That is why in the reprinted version of the bill there is a section which states that the public complaints commissioner, if in his or her opinion it is in the public interest to do so, may of that person’s own volition review a decision of the chief of police. I believe that meets very much head on the concerns raised not only by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale but also by individuals who came before the committee. I believe it is necessary. We have moved that amendment and we want that amendment to be passed into law.
Mr Kormos: I do not understand how the Solicitor General could stand up and talk about everything but what the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale addresses with his amendment to the bill. The issue has been around for a long time. Indeed, the member for a long time participated in the hearings around Bill 4; he chaired the committee that addressed the matter of Bill 4. The government cannot have it both ways. I know it tries to have it both ways time and time again. These Liberals have become so adept at sucking and blowing simultaneously that they have become the eighth wonder of the world. They want to try to create the impression that somehow they are creating an independent complaints procedure, yet when an amendment is put forward, as is this amendment, which will truly make the procedure independent, the government backs away. The government responds, as I say, talking about everything but the point at issue.
For the life of me I cannot understand why the Solicitor General, if indeed he had listened to the representations made to the standing committee on administration of justice -- I appreciate it was such a brief period of time. That committee was hamstrung by the Liberals’ urgency in this province to try to attain some political credibility in the face of just gross mismanagement, in particular of this ministry, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the litany and this ministry’s history of not just unfulfilled promises but broken promises. And members know what people out in the community call them; they do not call them broken promises. I do, because if I were to call them what people out in the community call them, I would be thrown out of the House. We have only got an hour and a half left to deal with this bill.
There was a whole lot of evidence at the committee about the matter of the need to keep a finger on data, on patterns, so that there can be an ability, so that there is a capacity in the system to note systemic problems, to look for the patterns and the trends and the evidence that would give rise to a conclusion that there is a systemic problem because that means it has to be addressed in an entirely different way.
Here the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, in what is a good amendment, what is a healthy amendment, what is designed to help the Solicitor General make this bill a better bill than what it is now, is being rebuffed by the government. Why? Because he wants to make this a better bill than it is in its present form. Indeed, he and we in the opposition want to give some effect to the contributions made to the committee process by the participants in that process by the persons giving evidence, making representations to that committee.
The Solicitor General has not answered the point raised by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. He avoids the issue and, quite frankly, this says it all. What we have got here is a feeble, pathetic and cynical effort on the part of the Solicitor General to try to create the illusion of a new police act, a new approach to policing, a new approach to the relationship between civilians and communities and their police force when in fact it is nothing more than the same old, tired thing and the same old government refusing to acknowledge where it has taken the wrong path. I find it amazing that the Solicitor General would take that approach to this amendment. I am confident that the responsible members of this House, the persons in this Legislature who have listened to the delegates before the committee, the people who know what some of the problems are in communities across Ontario, those people in this Legislature will be supporting this amendment even if the Solicitor General will not.
Mr Philip: All that I am asking the Liberals to do is to be consistent, to do what in government they have said in opposition. All I am asking them to do is to be consistent. I am asking them to bide by the principles that they said were so sacred that they could not vote for Mr McMurtry’s bill because of them. All I am asking them to do is to show some consistency with the leader whom I had the greatest of respect for, Stuart Smith, and who led his party when it was a Liberal Party and not just a Conservative Party under a different colour of suits.
All that I am asking in this amendment is that the government pass on the powers of this ombudsman, the same powers that are passed on and that are contained in legislation after legislation for every Ombudsman in this country. Prince Edward Island is the only province, I believe, that does not have an Ombudsman, but if you look at the legislation in every jurisdiction, you will find that the Ombudsman and the human rights commission have the very powers that I am moving here. Indeed, in our own province the Ombudsman and the human rights commissioner have the powers that I am asking this ombudsman to have.
It strikes me as blatantly absurd that somehow in something as sensitive as the kind of matters that this ombudsman will be dealing with, he should have fewer powers than in something that may be a somewhat lesser kind of complaint against the actions of a particular public servant in the Ministry of Transportation or the Ministry of Government Services.
It seems to me blatantly absurd that we are creating two systems of ombudsman, one with certain powers -- and I recognize that in Ontario, thanks to the Attorney General of course, we will be seeing legislation later, if they are re-elected, that will reduce the Ombudsman of Ontario to having fewer powers than any Ombudsman in Canada. None the less, at least even under that restrictive legislation the Ombudsman of Ontario would still have more powers than this ombudsman under this bill to investigate what are likely to be fairly sensitive matters.
I have talked to friends of mine who are police officers. Indeed, there are some police officers who are members of my riding association. They have said, “Look, if there is a complaint laid against us, and if it is a frivolous complaint, if it is an unfounded complaint, we would like people to know that there is no question if we are exonerated, that we are completely exonerated by an independent system and not that some buddy or colleague of ours did not do what was necessary to have a thorough and proper investigation.”
This does not call for social workers or do-gooders or whatever other names the Conservatives might like to place on whomever to go out and investigate police complaints. All it envisages is that trained investigators, perhaps ex-police officers, perhaps people who are retired from Scotland Yard or the RCMP or the OPP or from some other municipal police force, would do the investigation and that they would answer to a force other than the local police force.
It seems to me, in fairness both to the officer who may be accused of something and to the complainant, and knowing the multicultural nature of this province and the kinds of totalitarian systems that people have come from and their fears in laying complaints and coming forward, this makes eminent sense. Why set up a system people are not going to use?
This was the testimony we had from group after group. I do not blame people for being cynical about politicians. The leaders of the various community groups come here week after week. We see them on the second floor being entertained with cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres and all that kind of thing. They say, “Oh, my, isn’t it wonderful that the Premier had a cocktail with me as leader of this club. He knew me by my first name,” and so forth. But eventually somebody says: “Where’s the meat? Where are the kinds of things you said when you were in opposition that you were in favour of and why are you not delivering in government?”
Here is an opportunity for this government to deliver what it said in opposition and not just give the various groups trying to buy them off as though they can be bought off with cocktails, smiles and a drink with the Premier. That is all this government seems to be giving people who have some real concerns. They are not antipolice. They are not anti law and order. They are in favour, though, of certain civil liberties being enacted in this province where we have an opportunity to build the most exciting democratic society anywhere in the world because we have people from the most interesting places in the world, and they are trying to work together to build a society with the police and with the community groups and so forth.
Community groups are asking for this. The civil rights groups are asking for this. Some municipalities have certainly expressed interest in this. I know some of my friends who are police officers -- and it may not be the position of their association, which did not comment on this -- individually feel that it is a good idea. I am simply asking the Liberals to stand up to the principle of liberalism. For heaven’s sake, they were a Liberal Party when Stuart Smith was in charge; why be another Conservative Party under David Peterson?
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour of Mr Philip’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, for the sake of the table officers and for the members, at least the Liberal members and the NDP members who are here, I would point out that of the motions I have tabled, and my colleague has tabled some others, all of the amendments be withdrawn with the exception of 133b, 48a and 77(1). All the others I withdraw. The last one that I will be moving is 133b. All the other amendments, since they were dependent on this amendment passing, can now be withdrawn. There is no sense in our wasting our time with my moving them.
The Second Deputy Chair: I thank the honourable member for doing that. As a result, we will go back to the beginning of the bill. Mr Kormos has amendments to section 27, so how about sections 1 to 26?
Mr Sterling: I want to speak to section 4.
The Second Deputy Chair: Do you want to speak to a section before 4, Mr Kormos?
Mr Kormos: Yes, section 1.
Mr Kormos: The reason I rise briefly to speak to section 1 is that I look at paragraph 6 of section 1. I am going to be making reference to this when we talk about section 27, and indeed the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale in an indirect way made reference to it already.
Paragraph 6 in section 1 is one of the principles which shall govern or in fact determine the nature of police services here in Ontario. It is a fine principle. My goodness, the enunciation of principles in the very beginning of this bill is what made some of us so enthusiastic about the potential this had when it was first read. We thought, here is a chance to give effect to a major overhaul of policing, to recognize that policing has become far more complex, far more difficult, so demanding, indeed has become in many instances dangerous for the police officers, for the men and women in Ontario who police our communities, but recognizing at the same time, as the Solicitor General says so often, “This Police Act is 40 years old and requires updating.” Of course it does and we were enthusiastic about the prospect of participating in consultation with people across Ontario, people from the communities who are going to be affected by this legislation.
That is what paragraph 6 is all about, that overriding principle, “The need to ensure that police forces are representative of the communities they serve.” It is that paragraph in section 1 that, as I say, made us, as the opposition, eager to engage in a thorough consultative process. It is that paragraph, along with some other things in the bill, that permitted us, on first reading and shortly thereafter, to say yes, we welcome this bill. We welcome the opportunity to put it before the people of Ontario, the men and women of the communities who are being policed and the men and women who are the police officers in those communities. Yet the standing committee on administration of justice, upon which fell the responsibility for reviewing the bill and engaging in hearings, was permitted but the shortest of time.
It did not leave the city of Toronto, as if the province of Ontario begins and ends at Lakeshore and Finch. It did not begin to consider the needs of communities in the rest of Ontario, the need to look at communities like regional Niagara, the fact that millions and millions and millions of dollars are being spent on an inquiry into policing in regional Niagara by Judge Colter, the results of which should be sought out before the final debate on Bill 107.
The taxpayer is being drained to the tune of literally millions of dollars for a major inquiry into policing right here in Ontario in the Niagara region, the Colter commission. Yet this government appears to be not at all interested in what Judge Colter is going to recommend or the conclusions he is going to reach as a result of that lengthy inquiry, because this government has made it quite clear that it is not interested in waiting until the results of that inquiry are made available.
Once again, the committee did not even leave the city of Toronto. It did not even leave Queen’s Park. Did it go to communities in the north? Did it go to the small communities? Mention was made of them by members of that committee who cried out, saying: “What about the communities that are policed by two- or three-person police forces? Where are their concerns and where are their interests and their problems being addressed in the course of this government’s so-called discussion of Bill 107?” It was pointed out to the committee by an opposition member, the member for Lake Nipigon, that the whole issue of native communities and the problems found in those communities with respect to policing has not been addressed at all.
There is the matter of cost, the matter of funding and the fact that more and more responsibilities have been placed on municipal police forces by this government, most recently and most specifically the responsibility for courtroom security, yet this government has failed and has been thoroughly delinquent in funding those new roles that it has imposed on municipal police forces.
I can tell members what has happened in the Niagara region. That is to say, criminal investigation bureau officers, plainclothes persons if you will, are being called upon to do courtroom security. That means there are backlogs in CIB investigations of not just a month but two months and three months. You talk to any police officer and he will tell you that the likelihood of solving a break-and-enter or any other number of crimes when the investigation is commenced by the criminal investigation branch after only a month or two months or three months rather than immediately as it should be, the chances of ever solving that crime and identifying the offender, never mind successfully prosecuting the offender, are virtually zero.
So this government has become responsible for, yes, handcuffing the police, because municipalities like the Niagara region are forced to call on their CIB units. They cannot call on their uniformed units because the uniform staffing has been pared down. It has been cut to the bone and they recognize that at the very least -- and financially they are struggling to do it -- places like Niagara region realize they have to keep uniformed officers on the street.
They are calling upon CIB officers to do courtroom security because the government has forced them to do that without providing any funding for it, so that appropriate person power could be acquired to perform it. The net effect, the real effect, the immediate effect is that the police are being handcuffed by this government, the police are being prevented from doing their job by the Liberals right here at Queen’s Park.
Drug investigations: Communities that are prepared to identify problems with traffickers and pedlars of dope are similarly having the door slammed in their face when they want to undertake complete investigations of that, with a view to detecting the offenders and to successfully prosecuting them. Once again, this government says it has a war on drugs. Well, some war. You would wonder what side the Liberals are on, because they are prepared to produce the occasional videotape and the occasional glossy pamphlet, but will they get right down to the issue and fund local and regional police forces that want to develop drug units so that they can do some meaningful and effective drug work?
No, this government’s war against drugs fails to give police forces any ammunition to fight that war, but rather gives them glossy pamphlets and videotapes. Does this government, in the course of its consideration of Bill 107. have a real intention of developing a new police structure in the province that indeed is going to be representative of the communities that are served by those police? No.
They did not visit the communities, they did not talk to the police officers, they did not talk to the ratepayers. They did not. The Liberals refused to talk to those people. They did not go to those communities. They did not even leave the confines of the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park. What was the Liberals’ motivation? Well, this government knew that it was in serious trouble because of its lack of action in a whole number of areas of policing.
A whole number of issues had been brought to its attention by the opposition day after day after day, with the most feeble sort of responses, because this government is far less interested in engaging in any real action on any real issues than it is in hiding away and mumbling incoherent answers, quite frankly, to some of the most pressing questions. What are we stuck with? Mumbled and incoherent answers.
There was but the briefest, shortest period of time made available and it was basically available only to those who were either in Toronto or were prepared to travel to Toronto. Meanwhile, for the vast part of this community, for the vast part of this province, that is extremely difficult and financially impossible for great numbers of people.
So you are left here with a Police Act that does not help police officers do their job in the way that those good police officers want to do it. You are left here with a Police Act which does not fulfil even the preamble. It does not even fulfil the requirements of the preamble, the principles expressed there, among other things, that police forces are representative of the communities they serve.
Look at what paragraph 5 says: “The need for sensitivity to the pluralistic, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario.” Paragraph 4: “The importance of respect for victims of crime and understanding of their needs.” Paragraph 3: “The need for co-operation between the providers of police services and the communities they serve.” This government expects communities and ratepayers and municipal taxpayers and property owners to pay for the policing of their communities. But this government is not prepared to help them with that. This government is not prepared to let those same communities have a say in what policing will mean in that community. I am going to speak about that more when I talk about my amendments to section 27.
The Liberals want to rush this through without consultation, without talking to police officers, without talking to members of communities, not only in Toronto but elsewhere in Ontario. Let them go ahead. They have a majority and they can use that arrogant, supercilious majority basically to achieve whatever end they wish. They are going to ram this police act through because this government was impotent in the face of another black youth’s shooting. That is what happened. The Neal kid got shot here in the city of Toronto, a 16-year-old black kid, and the Solicitor General jumps up and says: “We’re going to solve the problem. We’re going to ram a police act through.”
If this Solicitor General were sincere, if he were anything other than the most thoroughly cynical and politically motivated beast, then he would use the summer as an opportunity to conduct hearings across the province.
Mr Polsinelli: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Would the Chair advise as to whether the word “beast” is parliamentary?
The Second Deputy Chair: I do not know. I would have to look it up in Erskine May. There are about five pages in terms of what is and what is not parliamentary.
Let me turn to the member for Welland-Thorold. What do you think?
Mr Kormos: It is a thoroughly parliamentary term. I would not have used it if it were not. Only a twit would object to it. Now that may be unparliamentary.
The Second Deputy Chair: You are not helping matters.
The trouble is, I say to the member for Yorkview, in the course of events, “beast,” where it would cause unruly disruption in the House, is probably not parliamentary. On the other hand, under the situation, the minister is trying to get the bill through, I am waiting here patiently listening to the member for Welland-Thorold carry on and you interjected, and it all does not help matters much.
Mr Polsinelli: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Perhaps the twit from Welland-Thorold should take the advice of the Toronto Star and stay home.
The Second Deputy Chair: Okay, now I can make a ruling. We will call it tit for tat. The honourable member now can continue.
Mr Reycraft: Or twit for twit.
The Second Deputy Chair: Better yet, twit for twit.
Mr Kormos: Does the member for Yorkview have to practise to be stupid or does it come naturally? That editorial was in the Sun, not the Star.
The Second Deputy Chair: You are not helping matters. Listen, I have been more than gracious. I have waited patiently for almost half an hour. The former colleague of mine the member for Oshawa, who has now departed from this place, in terms of setting a precedent indicated that he would not allow extensive rambling in committee of the whole House on the first section because that was allocated to second reading.
What am I to do? I think the precedent is there. In view of not wanting to force the committee and the honourable member to conclude his remarks, I will be more than patient, but I think it is only fair that he tries to restrict his remarks to the section. I will wait and watch the clock.
Mr Kormos: I tell you, Mr Chairman, that patience is a virtue and we are so pleased that you are possessed of it.
So here we are, and no, we are not going to block the passage of Bill 107. We would love to, because it is a crummy, crappy piece of legislation. It does not achieve any of the goals that it purports to achieve. It is motivated, as I say, solely by the cynicism of the government and of the Solicitor General. It is not motivated by any real desire to improve policing and to improve the lot of police officers and to improve the quality of life and the establishment of law and order in communities.
So we are not going to filibuster it. We are not going to prolong the debate on it. We are not going to introduce a plethora of amendments to it, because we know what would happen. The same thing would happen to the numerous amendments we considered proposing as what happened to the amendment to section 98 by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. It was a meaningful, serious amendment in an attempt to make the bill better than it was. We know the Liberals have their marching orders: “Get this bill passed before we recess for summer.” That gets me back to what I was talking about before.
If the Solicitor General were serious about making this legislation the law, the structure and the program that it could be for policing in Ontario, he would have the standing committee on administration of justice spend the summer listening to delegations. The Solicitor General would consider travelling to communities beyond Toronto. The Solicitor General would want to talk to police officers, not just the chiefs of police forces but the people on the beat. I have no doubt that some Liberal members talk to police officers -- in the course of the election finances investigations it was almost impossible not to -- but I mean talking to police officers about Bill 107. I mean talking to police officers about the legislation and what it means, not police officers conducting criminal investigations.
I tell you, Mr Chairman, we are not going to do those things. We are going to vote against Bill 107. While I have no doubt that there are some Liberal members here who sure wish I would stay in Welland-Thorold, we have Liberal members here who I am sure wish that I would never go further east than Roncesvalles.
On the contrary, I am here, and I am here on behalf of the people in Welland-Thorold who had expected more of this government than what this government ever came close to delivering. I am here on behalf of good, hardworking people in Welland-Thorold who are tired of the broken promises of these Liberals, who are tired of their dishonesty, who are tired of the corruption that has permeated this government, this cabinet and the Liberal Party of Ontario, and they are tired of a government that refuses to even clean its own house but which is prepared to live with the stench of corruption that rises from it, and increasingly so on a daily basis.
We vote against Bill 107 because the reason the Solicitor General will not go to the communities in Ontario with Bill 107, the reason the Solicitor General will not have real consultation is that there is going to be an election in the fall. He is prepared to trade off the next decade or two or three of policing in Ontario in a cheap effort to maintain his own political stability.
Well, it may or may not work for the Solicitor General. The fact is that the last thing we will be able to say is that the Liberals did not pass a police act. Oh, they sure will have passed a police act, but it is the crummiest, shoddiest, shabbiest, least sincere bit of legislation that one could ever see. We are going to be voting against it. We are not going have any part in it. Having spoken now to section 1, I am prepared to vote on those sections until we get, of course, to section 27, wherein I have some amendments to move, Mr Chairman.
The Second Deputy Chair: Shall section 1 carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Section 1 agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
Mr Sterling: I just want to thank the Liberal whip for his hospitality.
Hon Mr Offer: Did you get a sore throat? With all this, it did not help.
Mr Philip: If you hadn’t smoked so much, you wouldn’t have a sore throat.
Mr Sterling: Actually, the member for Norfolk was in the whip’s office just a few minutes ago. He will probably come running in here. He did offer me a smoke, but I refused, as usual.
Mr Faubert: That was the member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Sterling: The member for Norfolk is the champion of the tobacco people.
I want to associate myself with many of the comments which were made by the member for Welland-Thorold, particularly the comments with regard to the haste, the process with which we are considering Bill 107. I believe we are making a mistake today, this being the last day of the Legislature’s sitting, to consider a bill of such importance in such a short period of time.
We are dealing with a bill which has, I believe, 148 sections, and this government has introduced, since it was first introduced in -- sorry, I do not have it on the front page of the bill --
Hon Mr Offer: December.
Mr Sterling: Since December, they have introduced 102 amendments to this piece of legislation.
We have had 102 amendments that have been put forward. We had a number of people making submissions to the justice committee over the last four or five weeks. Quite frankly, I could not be there for all of those submissions, and sometimes my caucus had difficulty in having a member there because they were sitting on afternoons when we were discussing other matters in this Legislature dealing with justice issues, and with other issues, which is not normally the case and which is not normally the accepted practice in this Legislature.
They were sitting on nights when we had caucus meetings, and in fact the next morning the CBC radio announcer Gerry McAuliffe took us on for not having somebody there at those particular sittings that evening. In fact, we were having a caucus meeting that night.
Therefore, we have had a situation where we have had groups come into a contracted committee schedule and we have not had the opportunity of putting our schedules in place so that we could hear all those public hearings. Not only that, this bill purports to remedy some of the situation which has arisen here in Metropolitan Toronto, that situation relating to visible minority groups and, in particular, the shooting of one of the people of this minority group.
In fact, this bill does not deal with that situation at all, or in a very minor way. What we are doing is forcing upon the rest of Ontario something which has been in place here in Toronto for some eight or nine years. So what have we done in this legislative process? We have held hearings here in Toronto to hear about a bill which is going to affect the rest of Ontario more than the city of Toronto. I ask members for the logic and the reasoning behind what is happening here this afternoon.
My party agreed. In fact, the House leader of my party, the member for Parry Sound, wrote to the Premier and said: “Look, we will consider this bill tomorrow. We will put it on our agenda. We will try to extend our members to have this bill heard by the justice committee and bring it on in the Legislature.”
But I and my House leader did not realize at the time the number of people from across this province who wanted to put their submissions forward. In fact, since the hearings have shut down, I have received on several occasions from the clerk of the committee, Mr Arnott, additional submissions from various groups from across this province who wanted to have input into this bill. The people of eastern Ontario, of northern Ontario, of western Ontario have all been denied the right to make submissions on this bill because of the government’s panic in passing this piece of legislation.
I want to say that my caucus feels very concerned about the passage of this bill and the method in which it is being done. We do not believe that the amendments are going to be considered properly, we do not believe that there is going to be proper consideration of this bill. The members may remember last year; we went through this very same procedure with the Attorney General on Bill 2 and Bill 3, which were substantial amendments to our court system.
Bill 107 is exactly the same kind of bill dealing with substantial amendments to our Police Act. In the case of Bill 2 and Bill 3, the Attorney General insisted that we cut off public hearings at the end of June of last year. We tried to keep those public hearings open until October. We were denied that by the majority in the justice committee, controlled by the arrogant Liberal government. They insisted on saying, “No, we will not hear any more from people who are concerned about the changing of our court system.”
Now we have the Solicitor General bringing forward Bill 107 on the last afternoon when, quite frankly, the number of members in this chamber has dropped to six or seven. We have many of them talking while I am talking, showing no respect for the Chair or for what is happening in this Legislature.
An hon member: At least your own caucus is listening.
Mr Sterling: I will wait until they are finished.
The Second Deputy Chair: Thank you.
Mr Sterling: This is a very serious bill, of significant magnitude, and the arrogance of the Liberal members is a little overwhelming for me to take on too long a basis.
Mr Curling: Do you know the number?
Mr Sterling: I might say to the member for Scarborough, who just asked if I knew the number, I know the number, and I want him to know that he is going to require my consent for this bill to become law before we go from here this afternoon.
Mr Curling: Listen, we are not here begging. This is a good bill.
Mr Sterling: If the member does not consider this a serious matter, I do.
I will predict that we will say “I told you so” next September or October, whenever we meet again, and that this government will bring in an amending bill to this bill. It is almost guaranteed, absolutely guaranteed. In fact, I have heard from various other sources that this is already in the planning.
We have asked for the regulations which are to be made under this bill. The regulations under this bill have not been drafted. The regulations under this bill are almost as important as the legislation itself -- some of them are more important. For instance, under the regulations we are going to deal with the whole issue of reports or no reports when a gun is unholstered. We are going to deal with all kinds of other issues within the regulations.
Now, the Solicitor General has been asked, “What are those regulations going to be?” As members know, the Legislature, in the form of legislation, gives a great deal of trust when it says to the government, “You can make regulations in certain areas.” When this bill is passed, we give the right to cabinet to make regulations without further consultation, without any further debate in this Legislature over what is being decided unilaterally, and often, in many cases, within the bowels of the Solicitor General’s ministry and usually not subject to even very much debate among the government members themselves or by politicians. We have only asked that these regulations be published or be proposed by the Solicitor General before we in fact give this final sanction in the Legislature. We have been denied that material.
I want to refer particularly to section 4. Section 4 causes a great many of the people of this province a considerable amount of concern. It relates to the right of the Solicitor General, without any kind of consultation, to force many municipalities to take up the responsibility of providing their own police forces.
Subsection 4(7) says that the Lieutenant Governor in Council can say to the township of Rideau, “You are responsible for policing tomorrow.” It can say to any one of, I believe, 800 townships in this province, “You are responsible for policing tomorrow.” That means to the property taxpayer an increase of somewhere around $200 to $250 per household. In this bill we are giving the right to the Solicitor General and the government to pass on a cost which they are presently paying in providing OPP service to many of the townships across this province. Now, there are some townships which are paying for their police servicing at this time, and I refer to the township of Kingston, which is paying for its police servicing at this time.
We know the record of this government in terms of passing down costs to municipalities. They did it with court security. They have done it in terms of the school boards by reducing their capital contribution in building schools. For instance, they have reduced in my area their contribution to the maintenance of the public school system by reducing their share of contributing to the expenses from 53% to approximately 40% of the cost. We have seen them pass down costs by asking school boards to implement more programs -- half-day junior kindergarten, full-day junior kindergarten, pupil-to-teacher ratios of 20 to 1 in grades 1 and 2 -- but they are only paying, in the Carleton board, 40% of those costs.
I want to tell members that they are passing on costs by asking municipalities and school boards to levy against new development the costs of building those schools, hospitals and everything else, another pass-down of costs. I heard that in the city of Nepean the levy is going to be $23,000 a lot, and that is before the school boards get involved.
I want to ask the Solicitor General and get a commitment here today that he will either take subsection 7 out or will commit his party and his government that he will not invoke subsection 7 and will not have the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the cabinet require any township to provide its own policing within the next five years.
Hon Mr Offer: Perhaps I might make a few brief remarks on the remarks by the member for Carleton. First, on the question of process, which has been alluded to not only by the member for Carleton but also by the member for WellandThorold, I think it is important to recognize that this particular piece of legislation is the product of a great deal of consultation. It is a product of consultation, more than two years in the making. It is the product of public consultation, not only through our committee hearings but also through the Lewis task force commission, which issued a report on race relations and policing and travelled all of the province listening to many people on the whole question of policing.
This is a bill, as I indicated earlier, that is the product of consultation with members of the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Municipal Police Association as well as many others.
Also, I think it is important to recognize that the bill before the Legislature containing the amendments, quite properly referred to as being close to 100 in nature, is also the product of those committee hearings, where we heard submissions from individuals who said the special investigations unit should be changed in a certain way, and we responded. We heard concerns about the public complaints system and dealing with the role of the commissioner, and we responded by amendment. We heard concerns raised by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police dealing with the management of the day-to-day activities, and we responded by amendment. We heard concerns about aspects of the bill by the Police Association of Ontario, and we responded through amendment.
This bill is the product not only of consultation, but also is an example of this government listening to representations and acting upon them. I think that particular aspect cannot be stated often enough or loudly enough.
The member alludes to the question of financing under the Police Services Act. I think the first point that must be made is that the sections under this Police Services Act are virtually identical with the existing Police Act. The member. I believe, is making the point that there may be variances in financing of police services within the province. The general rule is -- I will oversimplify -- that areas with a population of over 5,000 pay for their own policing, and areas with a population under 5,000 do not. There are variances within that. There are in this province certain jurisdictions where there is a population under 5,000 that pay for their own policing, and there are examples of jurisdictions with populations over 5,000 that do not. We recognize that. We identified those variances.
I would like to indicate to the member for Carleton that there are investigations currently. We are looking into how to address those variances, and there is also that type of inquiry now being undertaken by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I believe that we in the ministry, working with AMO, will be able to not only identify but address those particular issues. I believe that is a matter that deserves and will receive a great deal of consultation and a great deal of input, so that if and when that particular aspect of the bill, which is unchanged. is to be changed, it will be done as a result of a great deal of input from the municipalities, to which I believe it is our responsibility to listen and react.
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, you would be interested in this question. The township of Cumberland has 30,000 people in it. Is the Solicitor General going to require them to pay for their police service?
Hon Mr Offer: The question the member brings forward is exactly the issue I have already addressed. I have stated carefully and clearly that there are variances within the whole question of policing, which we are looking at. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is also looking at this aspect. Is there a final decision made? No. Is there an acknowledgement that there are variances? Yes. We believe that working closely with AMO, working closely with all the municipalities, we can in the end result devise a policy that is fair and equitable for everyone in this province.
Mr Sterling: The bill reads, under subsection 4(7), “Subsection (1) applies to a village or township only if it has been so designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the Solicitor General’s recommendation; the designation may relate to all or part of the village or township.”
Therefore, what we are doing here today is giving the Solicitor General the right to designate any township by fiat, or whatever you want to call it, and change dramatically the profit and tax structure in any township. If there is no intention on the part of the Solicitor General to designate any additional townships for a period of time, then I do not understand why he would need such a power. Therefore, I would ask him if he would consider an amendment that would restrict his right to designate additional townships. He would then require an amendment of this Legislative Assembly in order to undertake such a designation.
Hon Mr Offer: Pending a full review of this particular aspect, the answer is no.
Mr Sterling: So then the Solicitor General is saying to us:
“Trust me. Give me the power and right after the election we’ll do what we want to do.” All the Solicitor General has to do is take out the power, and then I can say to my people back home or the people who represent townships in this Legislature that they are not going to be charged for policing and that their property taxes are not going to go up by $250 per household, which is approximately the cost if you look at the figures that were supplied to the standing committee on administration of justice in the hearings. Why would he not agree to do that? Why does he require the power if he is not going to use it?
Hon Mr Offer: I have already indicated that it is not my intent to make a change to this section. I have already indicated that we do acknowledge there are variances, and I have already acknowledged that we are currently looking at the whole question of those areas found within sections 4, 5 and 6, and we are doing so in communication with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Mr Sterling: I want to tell the Solicitor General that this does not affect just one or two townships in this province. It affects the township of Ameliasburg, which has over 5,000 people, if he makes that a benchmark. The benchmark seems to be 5,000 in the legislation. It affects Augusta township, which I used to represent prior to redistribution. It affects Blenheim township, which has over 6,000 people. It affects Bracebridge township, Burford township, Cambridge township, Chatham township, Charlottenburgh township, Clarence township, Cornwall township, Cumberland township, Emily township, Erin township, Ernestown township.
I have only got to E so far. In other words, it is probably going to affect 60 or 70 different townships in this province if this Solicitor General decides, with a stroke of the pen, that he wants to pass off some more costs to the municipalities.
That is the real decision we are making here today. That is why I believe we should not vote in favour of subsection 4(7) of this act. I believe that subsection should read differently and I want to propose an amendment to that section, Mr Chairman, if you will give me an opportunity to draft the same.
The Chair: Fair enough. Maybe we can go to another section and with everybody’s agreement come back whenever you are ready. How much time would you need to write it?
Mr Sterling: Probably one or two minutes.
The Chair: Go ahead.
Hon Mr Offer: With the consent of the opposition members, maybe we can stand down that section, giving the honourable member time to draft it and then move on to other sections.
The Chair: Shall sections 5 to 26 carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Sections 5 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Kormos: I have four amendments to section 27. I filed them with the clerk earlier. I will deal first with subsection 27(4).
The Chair: Mr Kormos moves that subsection 27(4) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“(4) The board of a municipality whose population according to the last enumeration taken under section 14 of the Assessment Act does not exceed 25,000 shall consist of,
“(a) the head of the municipal council, or another council member appointed by resolution of the council, and two other council members appointed by resolution of the municipal council.”
Mr Kormos: I am going to indicate now that what I say now basically will apply to the next three amendments as well, and I will not be addressing those at length.
We have this incredible anomaly maintained by this equally unbelievable -- it is certainly an unbelievable government, but it did that to itself. We have this incredible maintenance of an injustice, of an inequity by virtue of the fact that this government wants to maintain a majority of provincial appointees on local police commissions.
It is entirely absurd that a municipality has to be fiscally responsible for its policing -- this province has squeezed property taxpayers dry. They continue to do so. They are compelling property taxpayers to pay higher and higher police costs, yet they will not permit municipalities to control their police commissions.
A little bit later -- very soon -- I am going to be talking about an amendment to section 31 but these amendments, subsections 27(4), 27(5), 27(8) and 27(9), effectively remove the province’s power to appoint people to local police commissions.
There is absolutely no rationale for it. Indeed, the presence of provincial appointees on the police commissions has been the subject matter of a whole lot of criticism by a whole lot of people for a long time. In effect these provincial appointees are political hacks; nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing about their backgrounds that makes them qualified to serve on police commissions. They do not require any special expertise and indeed do not undergo any real screening process. In fact it is a matter not of what you know, but of which cabinet minister you know. The danger in that: Just take a look at this government’s own history and realize how close it came, until members of the fourth estate raised the red flag, to appointing a guy like DelZotto to the Ontario Police Commission, a guy who is up to his neck in unique and special associations with the most unsavoury of characters.
Mr Curling: He wasn’t appointed.
Mr Philip: He said how close they came. You ought to learn. You didn’t listen.
Mr Kormos: That is right. We are talking about provincial appointments to police commissions. We are talking about a character like DelZotto, where the prospect of a guy like DelZotto being appointed to the Ontario Police Commission had filtered down to New York City. It had already filtered down to police officers working with organized crime in New York City. DelZotto was that close to one of these political appointments. It is only because a hue and cry was raised by a press person, by a newspaper reporter, that this government backed off and the DelZotto appointment was nipped in the bud.
That is precisely the point we are getting at with these kinds of amendments. This government wants to perpetrate a system where ne’er-do-wells, gangsters, hoods could be appointed by virtue of the political appointment process, where gangsters and hoods could be appointed to local police commissions. Local police commissions have no control over it. It is the familiarity of that particular character with a cabinet minister that would determine whether or not he or she was appointed to a police commission.
Dr Philip Stenning, a criminologist of some significant note at the University of Toronto, back in September 1988 released a study. That study clearly showed that these provincial appointments to police commissions are really political appointments, rather than based on any serious discussion or merit.
If you are interested in a seat on Niagara’s police commission, it helps to know a provincial cabinet minister. There is almost no formal investigation done into a potential appointee’s background, other than a criminal record check. No systematic monitoring of appointees is undertaken by provincial authorities following their appointment.
It was argued in front of the standing committee on administration of justice that this provincial appointment power permits the province to place people on local police commissions to give those police commissions balance. Poppycock. The fact is that electors, voters in a given municipality, when they elect their municipal officials are perfectly capable, and rightly so, of electing officials, municipal representatives or regional representatives who reflect the makeup, the character and the quality of that community.
The maintenance of provincial appointees on police commissions is simply unacceptable to democratically minded people in the province. It is an archaic, anachronistic process that should be abolished. This amendment makes police commissions the democratic bodies, the representative bodies that they should be.
Hon Mr Offer: I have just a short comment on those amendments. In response I really am speaking to not only the one amendment the honourable member has brought forward, but I believe, in fairness, there are four amendments, all in section 27. Certainly we are against these amendments. I think we have to recognize the role that the local boards of commissioners of police will provide for policing in the community. In this province we now have basically the same makeup of the boards as already exists, and what we want to do is not only extend that but build upon the success that the local boards of commissioners of police have had in dealing with policing in their area.
As such, I see this as going in absolutely the other direction. I want to build upon the good work done by so many members of the local police board, municipal appointees and provincial appointees alike, and I would be voting against all four of those amendments that the member has brought forward.
The Chair: Mr Kormos moves that subsection 27(5) of the bill, as reprinted, be struck out and the following substituted:
“(5) The board of a municipality, other than a regional or metropolitan municipality, whose population according to the last enumeration taken under section 14 of the Assessment Act exceeds 25,000 shall consist of,
“(a) the head of the municipal council, or another council member appointed by resolution of the council; and four other council members appointed by resolution of the council.”
Mr Kormos: I would make the comments I made with respect to my first amendment, and that is to say, this gets rid of the political hacks who do nothing and know even less from local police commissions.
Mr Sterling: I do not know if it would make it any more palatable for the Solicitor General, but I understand the dilemma always in terms of the control of these police boards, because you are caught between a situation of financial control and you want to maintain a certain distance from the municipal council in terms of police matters.
I do wonder, however, in the case of municipalities where there are more than 25,000, if there is any room that you might be able to give actual control of a majority to the large municipalities.
I still believe, contrary to the member who has introduced this amendment, that there is a need to have an outside influence on the board in terms of the appointment process. Therefore, my preference, quite frankly, would have been to have three members of council and two members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. That would assure perhaps that the chairman of the police commission was to be controlled by the municipal council rather than by the Ontario government.
Before I vote on this amendment, I would like to hear the response of the Solicitor General in this regard. You will note, Mr Chairman, I did not make the same comment with regard to the previous situation, because I think there is a difference in terms of the size and the sophistication of the police force and I believe that in smaller police forces in smaller communities there probably still is a good argument to leave two members to be nominated by the Lieutenant Governor.
The Chair: Solicitor General, any comments?
Hon Mr Offer: I would be in favour of such a motion.
The Chair: Are we ready to vote on this?
The Chair: Mr Kormos moves that subsection 27(8) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“(8) The board of a regional or metropolitan municipality shall consist of five council members appointed by resolution of the council.”
Mr Kormos: The arguments that I made with respect to the first amendment with respect to police commissions is applicable to this one. The fair-minded and democratically minded people of the chamber will support the amendment.
The Chair: Mr Kormos moved that subsection 27(9) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:
“(9) The council of a regional or metropolitan municipality whose population according to the last enumeration taken under section 14 of the Assessment Act exceeds 300,000 may apply to the Lieutenant Governor in Council for an increase in the size of its board; if the Lieutenant Governor in Council approves the application, the board shall consist of,
“(a) the head of the council, or another council member appointed by resolution of the council; and
“(b) six other council members appointed by resolution of the council.”
Mr Kormos: My arguments are the same. This gets rid of the political hacks on police commissions.
Section 27 agreed to.
Sections 28 to 30, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: We will go back to the member for Carleton’s proposed amendment to section 4.
Mr Sterling moves that subsection 4(7) be amended by adding the words “as at 1 June 1990” after the word “recommendation” in the third line of the subsection.
Mr Sterling: This relates to my concern which I talked about before, in that the present act, subsection 4(7), permits the Solicitor General to impose a tremendous property tax burden on many, many homes across this province. If he does that unilaterally, without ever coming back to this Legislature to ask what our opinion about that might be, I mentioned in my remarks a few moments ago that there are a number of townships across this province that come over the threshold of 5,000 in population but are being supplied with police protection by the Ontario Provincial Police. Those taxpayers are not paying directly through their property taxes for those services. They are paying, as the rest of the residents of Ontario do, through their income taxes, through their sales tax and through all other kinds of taxes.
All I am asking the Solicitor General to do is to freeze the situation as of today as to what is going to happen with regard to this whole matter. I do not want him to be able to say to the township of Cumberland or the township of Goulbourn or the township of Rideau or the township of Osgoode or the township of West Carleton: “You’re going to be responsible for policing tomorrow, property taxpayers. It’s going to cost you $200 or $250 tomorrow.”
Saturday morning, I am going to be meeting with a number of residents from the township of West Carleton who are going to be asking the Solicitor General for more police protection in that area. The Ontario Provincial Police have been providing as much police protection as they can in the past with the budget that they have been allocated, but there has been a tremendous amount of growth in that area. On Saturday morning I am going to be meeting with Betty Ann Smith from the township of West Carleton and she is going to give me a petition with 839 names to ask the Solicitor General for more police protection in that area.
If we pass this act today, what we are saying is that if Betty Ann Smith and those other 838 residents of West Carleton ask for more police protection, we are going to have the Solicitor General come back and say, “Okay, you can have more police protection, but you’re going to have to pay for it all,” and that is what this section is all about.
Therefore, I would ask the members to be fair to the townships which are now being provided with OPP protection. If this Solicitor General or this government wants to put yet another tax burden on the municipal property taxpayer, they should fess up, come back here and ask the Legislative Assembly for its approval in order to do this. That is what my amendment is all about.
The Chair: Would there be unanimous consent, now that it is 6 o’clock, to just dispose of this one amendment here before we rise and report?
Mr Philip: We have some more amendments and I believe the minister is going to ask for some extended time.
The Chair: Yes. Right now, I am just trying to finish this proposed amendment that we have started to debate, just this one alone, because afterwards we have to rise and report and ask for unanimous consent for the House to continue.
Mr Kormos: I have an amendment to section 31.
The Chair: We will have to deal with that once the committee rises. Is there unanimous consent to dispose of this one section here?
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
Section 4 agreed to.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
Hon Mr Ward: I seek unanimous consent that the House continue to sit past 6 o’clock.
Mr Sterling: I would like a time limitation put on it. We will probably agree to time allocation at a later time, but it is always better to have a time when we are going to have to face this issue once again.
The Deputy Speaker: The government House leader has mentioned 6:30. Is there unanimous consent for 6:30?
LEGAL PROFESSION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT. 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved third reading of Bill 45, an Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Some hon members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: 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.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 164, An Act to amend the Law Society Act with respect to Insurance;
Bill 150, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act;
Bill 215, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act;
Bill 220, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act;
Bill 225, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act with respect to Animals.
Hon Mr Ward: I would seek unanimous consent to call third reading on Bills 105, 160 and 175.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr Sterling: Just a minute.
The Deputy Speaker: I do not hear unanimous consent.
Mr Sterling: Just give me an opportunity to see what they are.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, earlier in the afternoon we dealt in committee of the whole House and ordered for third reading An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plans, An Act to revise the Liquor Licence Act and to amend the law relating to Liquor, and An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there agreement?
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 105, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plans;
Bill 160, An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act;
Bill 175, An Act to revise the Liquor Licence Act and to amend the law relating to Liquor.
House in committee of the whole.
POLICE SERVICES ACT, 1990 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services,
The Chair: We are now ready to discuss proposed amendments to section 31.
Mr Kormos moves that section 31 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
“(3b) Notwithstanding subsection 3a, the board shall:
“(i) Direct the chief of police to alter or implement any practice or procedure;
“(ii) Direct the chief of police to conduct an investigation into any matter relating to police practices or procedures of the police force or of any member or members thereof;
“(iii) Establish guidelines for the allocation of police personnel and equipment in specific situations;
“(iv) Establish guidelines for the use of specific law enforcement techniques pertaining to investigation of offences, arrest and detention of suspects, seizure and detention of property, use of force or any other aspect of law enforcement;
“(v) Ensure that the guidelines referred to in paragraphs (iii) and (iv) above, are complied with in specific situations, and direct the chief of police to rectify any specific breach of these guidelines;
“(vi) Give any lawful directions or establish any lawful guidelines which it reasonably considers necessary or proper for the execution of its duties under subsection 1;
“(vii) Monitor the performance of any police officer or officers, police division or special squad;
“(viii) Direct the chief of police to require that any police officer or officers provide such information to the board as the board may require, in such manner as the board deems appropriate.”
Mr Kormos: This a considerable amendment to the bill. It does what the government refuses to do. The government, in its Bill 107, places great responsibility on municipalities to fund the policing of their communities. But by virtue of amendments that it made to its own bill, and, as the Solicitor General knows, I am not talking about Bill 145; I am talking about Bill 107, I am talking about section 31 of Bill 107 and subsection 3a of section 31. This basically cuts the legs and the arms off a local police commission; it plucks its eyes out and rips out its tongue. It does.
Section 3a, which is an amendment to the bill presented by the government, says that, “The board shall not direct the chief of police with respect to specific operational decisions or with respect to the day-to-day operation of the police force.” It says the board “shall not.” It prohibits the police commission from giving direction to the chief of police with respect to the day-to-day operation of the police force.
This government, these Liberals do not want to see police commissions consisting of democratically elected members of municipal councils or regional councils. They do not want to see that. They want to see police commissions dominated by political hacks who have no expertise, no standards for their appointment and no accountability. I suppose it is a matter of wishing: this government wishes that it had no accountability.
We do not agree with that. We think boards that spend taxpayers’ money, governments that spend taxpayers’ money, councils that spend taxpayers’ money should be elected and should be accountable. Again, this government, these Liberals can wish all they want to eliminate accountability, but they are going to be accountable. These Liberals, the Premier and his gang, are going to be accountable come their election call in September, let me tell members. Broken promise after broken promise and now the stench of corruption permeating their party and their government.
They require police commissions and then they tell the police commission that it cannot be involved in the day-to-day operation of the police. It is not that the police commissions should or want to be involved personally in the day-to-day operation. We are not talking about police commissioners going out there so they can make it on the 6 o’clock news busting up a crack den, but we are talking about police commissioners surely having the authority to give direction to the chief of police with respect to the day-to-day operation of the force.
The government would then come back and argue that subsection 31(1) is what gives the board extensive powers. Subsection 31(1) does not quite do that. It says, “A board is responsible for the provision of police services and for law enforcement and crime prevention in the municipality.” How can it be responsible for police services and for law enforcement and crime prevention if it cannot provide direction to the chief of police? It is ridiculous. It says the board shall:
“(a) appoint the members of the municipal police force;
“(b) generally determine, after consultation with the chief of police” -- we are not concerned about that; the chief of police should be consulted with in this respect -- ”objectives and priorities with respect to police services in the municipality;
“(c) establish policies for the effective management of the police force;
“(d) recruit and appoint the chief of police and any deputy chief of police, and annually determine their remuneration...;
“(e) direct the chief of police and monitor his or her performance.”
As I say, the government would tend to hide behind that and argue that it does something very specific, that it gives the commission powers when in fact it does not, because the government at the same time has said that the board shall not direct the police with respect to day-to-day operations.
That is just unacceptable. It is unacceptable to ratepayers in communities across Ontario who have to pay for policing services and insist that their commissions have the ability to oversee what their police force is doing on a day-to-day basis. I mean, these ratepayers insist on that. I tell members that what this amendment does is it permits the board to do its duties, and again not in an uncontrolled and in just an overall sense without any conditions, without any restrictions, without any guidelines whatsoever.
What this amendment does is very much complements subsection 1. It gives some real meaning to subsection 1 in the way that the government’s amendment in subsection 3a takes away meaning. It says, one, that the commission can “Direct the chief of police to alter or implement any practice or procedure.” That is not offensive. Indeed, that should be mandatory to any fair-minded person.
Two, “Direct the chief of police to conduct an investigation into any matter relating to police practices or procedures of the police force.” How is that in any way offensive? Surely that is within the ambit, within the scope, within the general control and ought to be within the general control of a local police commission.
Three, “Establish guidelines for the allocation of police personnel and equipment in specific situations.” Let’s give an example. Let’s illustrate how that could well have an effect. If a community has problems, let’s say, as communities in this province do, because this government has sat on its hands and has kept on putting its feet in its mouth with respect to the war against drugs. If a government is engaged in a real war on drugs, then the government, one would think, would give powers to a local police commission to make sure that that police commission had the power to direct its personnel, its forces, to the detection of drug traffickers, drug pedlars and the ilk. Or is this government really not interested in police forces being locally responsible and police forces being able to tailor their areas of work and enforcement and their specific areas of attention to the needs of that community?
This amendment permits the board to establish guidelines for the allocation of personnel as well as establishing guidelines for the use of specific techniques. Surely it is a local board that is best capable of knowing whether certain techniques, whether certain types of surveillance should be used, whether that community wants to utilize certain techniques of law enforcement for the investigation or indeed arrest or detention of suspects, for the seizure and detention of property or for the use of force. Of course, that is something that this Solicitor General ought to have heard a great deal about during the course of the briefest of submissions to him during the committee hearings.
These guidelines are ones that give some meat back into the bill when it comes to police commissions, guidelines that give some substance to local accountability for a police force, notwithstanding that this government is not prepared to make police commissions accountable. They give effect to the preamble of this bill, to section 1, and we talked about that already.
Unless this government is simply being thoroughly deceitful and dishonest in its approach to the police bill, it would recognize that this amendment flows from recommendations made to its justice committee. How the Solicitor General can sit and then stand here talking about how responsive he is to proposals and propositions made to the committee is beyond me, because this amendment to section 31 is specifically what was urged upon him by a number of participants in his committee hearing process.
It is time for the Solicitor General to display some candour and indeed either start to generate in this speeded-up and rapid process some honesty in this bill, or tell us now that all this is a ruse to avoid being hammered as he was month after month with criticism for his lack of action in policing in this province.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Chairman, I wonder if the member for Welland-Thorold would yield the floor so that we could rise and report for the purpose of calling a 15-minute recess.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent that the House continue to meet until 7 o’clock and that it now recess for 15 minutes.
The House recessed at 1825.
House in committee of the whole.
POLICE SERVICES ACT, 1990 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services.
The Chair: We were discussing section 31. The principal person concerned, I have been told, will be here any second now.
Mr Kormos: I am so pleased to have been able to make this amendment, to have been able to put it before this assembly. I know that government members who are aware of the significance of Bill 107, who are aware of the impact it will have on communities across Ontario, their police officers and citizens, I know that fairminded, clear-thinking members of this assembly will support this amendment.
The Chair: Thank you. Is there any more discussion on the proposed amendment to section 31? Are we ready for the vote? Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 31 agreed to.
Sections 32 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, on section 45a, our party has argued that this government has deprived the civil servants, the public servants of this province, of their rightful democratic right to participate freely in a political way in our society.
The Liberal government, or the Liberal Party in opposition, argued for that same right, and now the union representing those public servants has had to take its own government to court, at considerable expense to the taxpayers, to show that it has the right to participate in a way that any other citizen has.
It would be very inconsistent for me, having supported other public servants, not to support the right of the police officer to engage freely in political activities. Therefore, I will oppose 45a which says, “No municipal police officer shall engage in political activity, except as the regulations permit.” I could support that amendment if the minister were specific as to what those particular regulations were. But I cannot support a blind amendment that will restrict the political activities of anyone in this province, and certainly not of a police officer, a public servant or any other person. So I will be voting against this section.
Mr Kormos: This issue was raised during the course of some of the submissions to the justice committee. It was raised with the delegation, the Ontario Federation of Labour. It seemed to have a heck of time understanding why a government would want to forbid police personnel, on their own time, engaging in political activity. That would seem to be a right.
At the same time, this Solicitor General sits on his hands and does nothing about the button-wearers of Peel who, not on their own time, not in their private lives, but while they are uniformed police officers, would appear to be making some very strong political statements by virtue of the buttons indicating their support for two criminally charged officers. It is incredible that once again the Solicitor General would want to suck and blow at the same time. I am wondering if he could explain the rationale behind section 45a.
Hon Mr Offer: I am pleased to do so. Currently under the Police Act, there is a section that talks to political activity. I think that particular section of the Police Act is founded in section 62. Basically, that particular section states that no member of the force shall take any part in politics or occupy an official position in a party organization, and it goes on.
I think it is important to recognize that this particular section only applies to the OPP. Let me say, just before I go on to the existing legislation, that there is an ad hoc arrangement around the province dealing with the political activity which is allowed and which is not allowed for municipal or regional police forces. We believe that what we want to do is seek to move towards uniformity for municipal, regional and OPP officers alike. That is what section 45a is designed to accomplish. It is designed to say that no municipal police officer shall engage in political activity except as regulations permit.
This, I must stress, is the result of a great deal of consultation. There is not at this point in time a regulation drafted. I can share with you the intent as to what those regulations will state. There is an acknowledgement that there is a need to limit certain types of political activity, such as soliciting funds while in uniform. There is an obvious need to limit some of the political activity which officers can do. That is what this section is designed to do. It is designed not only to accomplish that but to accomplish it in a sense of uniformity and consistency across the province for all officers, regional, municipal and OPP alike.
Mr Philip: I do not want to prolong this, and we can take the vote, but if the government had really had those kinds of good intentions, it would have shown that vis-à-vis the public servants of this province and not require them to take the government to court. Therefore, I say to you, Mr Chairman, that the government does not have a good track record on this. It has broken election promises to its own public servants. Until I see the regulations, I cannot vote for it. I will be voting against it.
The Chair: Shall section 45a carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Section 45a agreed to.
The Chair: I should also go back to 45. Shall section 45 carry?
All those in favour will please “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Section 45 agreed to.
The Chair: I guess 46 has been dropped.
Hon Mr Offer: That is the renumbering.
Sections 47 and 48 agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Philip moves that the bill be amended by renumbering section 48a as 48b, and by adding the following section:
“48a (1) A member of the police force whose religious beliefs require him or her to wear religious symbols is entitled to wear them while on duty.
“(2) In this section, ‘wearing religious symbols’ includes the wearing of a particular form of dress or personal ornament and dressing one’s hair or beard in a particular way.”
Mr Philip: This amendment stems directly from representations that we had before the committee, from representations that I have made in the Legislature over a number of years and indeed from the Lewis task force. On page 84, recommendation 10 calls for it.
I recognize that a number of police forces, including my own police force in Metropolitan Toronto, have already adopted policies that allow for this. I just think that when we are passing a provincial police bill we should ensure the right of various people who have come to Canada and who have a tradition, for religious reasons, of wearing certain dress -- that they should be permitted to do so, as the federal government has allowed with its police force, as indeed the armed services have allowed in a number of democratic countries and as Mr Lewis, in his task force, has recommended.
Hon Mr Offer: I have a short comment on this. I recognize how important this particular section is. I would like to indicate that certainly we are in favour of the direction of this particular amendment. We will not be voting for it. We say that this type of intent, which is founded within 48a, is one which is going to be with regulation. We believe that by regulation we can address these issues and other issues in a more comprehensive and ongoing manner.
Mr Philip: As usual, this government likes to hide behind its regulatory system. This is clearly what its own expensive task force has recommended. This is clearly what we have had representations on, and indeed as with the previous section which I just discussed, section 45, there may well be court challenges on this matter.
I say that in a pluralistic society we have an obligation, particularly since under this legislation we are advocating employment equity programs in order to recruit people from the various communities to participate as police officers. This will give some assurance to certain communities so that they can feel comfortable as members of our police forces and that we can be proud to have them as members of our police forces. All it is doing is saying to the rest of the province: “Look, certain municipalities -- Mississauga or Peel, Metro Toronto -- have adopted these policies, as has our federal police force. Let’s do it clean across the province. Let’s make these people feel comfortable in police forces wherever they are, in whatever municipality of Ontario.” I urge the minister to reconsider.
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that Mr Philip’s amendment carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 48a agreed to.
Sections 50 to 71, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Philip: I simply want to vote against it. It is consistent with what I said in my main amendment which was defeated.
Section 72 agreed to.
Sections 73 to 132, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Philip moves that part IX of the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“133b (1) During the 12-month period following the second anniversary of the coming into force of this act, the standing committee on administration of justice shall conduct a comprehensive review of this act and its operation.
“(2) On or before the third anniversary of the coming into force of this act, the standing committee on administration of justice shall present to the Legislative Assembly its report on the review together with its recommendations for amendments to the act.”
Mr Philip: The reasons for this are many. In the first place, it has been pointed out, not just by deputations but also by members of this House, that some of the major decisions are contained in section 133 of the bill; namely, that the regulatory section of the bill will be coming forward with the major decisions that are affecting people in the operation of their police forces.
We have had a bill that was introduced on 20 December 1989 that did not go to committee or was not called by this government until only a few weeks ago. We had hearings but no discussion of the bill in committee. We have had over 100 amendments to deal with in two hours today, and the committee did not have hearings out there in the communities where the people are going to be directly affected by this.
If this bill is such a great bill, as the minister says and as the government is promoting, then he would have no hesitation in supporting my amendment, for no doubt in three years’ time, when there is a review of this bill, the government will come out smelling of roses then because it will be working well and he will get plenty of applause in the communities.
If, on the other hand, as would normally be expected in a bill that is as complicated and as complex as this, there are some concrete suggestions on how to improve the bill as a result of the experience in the community, the standing committee on the administration of justice would have an opportunity to make recommendations on that.
This is not a sunset clause, which I originally was going to introduce; namely, that the bill would self-destruct in three years if it was not reintroduced and therefore have a new debate on it. It is merely a much more conservative request for a review of the bill after three years.
The members will recall that when the first bill was introduced by Mr McMurtry it was anticipated there would be a complete review after three years. That review did not happen. We now have this bill, which basically is going to apply the Metropolitan Toronto model to the rest of the province and it seems apropos that after at least three years we have some guarantee that there will be a review of how this act is working. I ask the members to support this.
Hon Mr Offer: Just a short comment: I think we have to recognize that this Police Services Act, and I have said it before, is the product of many years of consultation. It has brought into play many of the representatives of the policing community -- the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the municipal police authority. It has, through a number of ways, brought in the general public to comment on what their vision is of policing in the 1990s and into the 21st century.
I believe that this piece of legislation will continue to be the recipient of a great deal of consultation. That has been our commitment to many of the individuals who are so involved and so impacted upon with policing in this province. I am going to vote against this section, but I want to indicate that it is our intention that there shall always be ongoing consultation on this police bill, on the sections under this police bill as it impacts on the people of this province.
Mr Sterling: I was not going to speak until the Solicitor General tempted me to do so. I heard those exact same arguments at about this time last year by the Attorney General when we were dealing with Bill 2 and Bill 3, where he said he went through consultation for a year and a half on the Zuber report before going ahead with court reform.
I want to tell the members that in the fall of last year, we had to deal with two more bills to amend the court reform bills. I do not understand why the Solicitor General is concerned about this, because as sure as I am standing here and will be standing here in the fall, we will be dealing with this matter once again. If he had an objection to what the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale put forward, then he could deal with it at that time.
I do not see any problem. The fact of the matter is that police reform has been a long time coming and I think a regular review would not be a bad section to include.
The Chair: I know we have gone beyond the time. Is there unanimous consent to take about one more minute to finish this?
The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chair: Shall sections 133 and 133a carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Sections 133 and 133a agreed to.
Sections 134 to 148, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
Hon Mr Ward: I would like to seek unanimous consent to continue to sit for another 10 minutes or so and also unanimous consent to call the order for third reading of Bill 107.
Hon Mr Ward: The motions to be presented relate to committee activity during the recess.
Mr Ward moved resolution 36:
That the order of the House of 20 December 1989 appointing the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs, as amended by an order of the House of 20 March 1990, be further amended by striking out all the words following “appointed” in the second line up to and including the word “reform” in the third line and inserting “to consider and report on alternatives that would provide for more effective processes for future constitutional discussions” and by striking out all the words following “Canada” in the sixth line up to and including the words “October 15, 1990” in the tenth line.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 37:
That the following committees be authorized to meet during the summer adjournment in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the assembly to examine and inquire into the following matters:
Select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs to consider matters relating to its terms of reference;
Select committee on education;
Select committee on energy to adjourn to Washington, DC, and New York City, New York, to consider bilateral and international approaches to implementation of public policy regarding climate change;
Special committee on the parliamentary precinct to meet from time to time at the call of the co-Chairs of the committee to consider matters related to the restoration of the Parliament Building;
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs be authorized to adjourn from place to place in North America to investigate comparative investment opportunities in Ontario and bordering American states;
Standing committee on government agencies to adjourn to Washington, DC to meet with officials of the Administrative Conference of the United States;
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to adjourn to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators and to consider matters relating to freedom of information and protection of individual privacy;
Standing committee on regulations and private bills to consider matters relating to the regulations process;
Standing committee on resources development to consider Bill 96, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Hon Mr Ward: I have an amendment to government notice of motion 37.
Mr Ward moved that resolution 37 be amended by deleting the words “and tabled with the Clerk of the assembly” in the third and fourth lines, and adding the following paragraph “Standing committee on public accounts to consider the annual reports of the Provincial Auditor” at the end.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 38:
That with the agreement of the House leader and chief whip of each of the recognized parties, committees may meet during the summer adjournment at times other than those specified in the schedule tabled today with the Clerk of the assembly to consider matters referred to them by the House or to consider matters designated pursuant to standing order 123.
Mr Ward moved that resolution 38 be amended by deleting the following words in the third and fourth lines, “at times other than those specified in the schedule tabled today with the Clerk of the assembly.”
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 39:
That committees be authorized to release their reports during the summer adjournment by depositing a copy of any report with the Clerk of the assembly, and upon the resumption of the meetings of the House, the Chairs of such committees shall bring any such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services.
Hon Mr Ward: I believe that His Honour awaits for royal assent.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 45, An Act to amend the Law Society and the Solicitors Act;
Bill 105, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plans.
Bill 107, An Act to revise the Police Act and amend the law relating to Police Services;
Bill 144, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act;
Bill 150, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act;
Bill 160, An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act;
Bill 164, An Act to amend the Law Society Act with respect to Insurance;
Bill 175, An Act to revise the Liquor Licence Act and to amend the law relating to Liquor,
Bill 177, An Act respecting the Amalgamation of certain Municipalities in the County of Simcoe;
Bill 215, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983;
Bill 220, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act;
Bill 225, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act with respect to Animals;
Bill Pr59, An Act respecting Sioux Lookout District Health Centre;
Bill Pr65, An Act respecting the Township of Plympton;
Bill Pr68, An Act respecting the Township of Front of Leeds and Lansdowne;
Bill Pr70, An Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario;
Bill Pr78, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga;
Bill Pr87, An Act to revive The Empire Club Foundation;
Bill Pr88, An Act respecting the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake;
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.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
LEGISLATIVE BUILDING STAFF
Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like, on behalf of my party, to thank the staff, the clerks, the pages, the security staff and everyone else who has extended their hospitality to us by staying late this evening. It was unfortunately necessary as we thought it was necessary to debate the bills with some earnestness. We also thank you for your patience in extending the hours and dealing with these things. I think the support staff have been very good in helping us out this evening.
Hon Mr Ward: On that point, I would also like to add a special acknowledgement to those distinguished Ontario citizens who were waiting to receive their Ontario citizenship medals tonight, and of course the security people and all the people around here who make this place work under difficult circumstances sometimes.
The Speaker: According to our standing orders, this is the end of our spring calendar. I would like to wish every member a healthy, happy, restful summer, and of course, according to the standing orders this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on 24 September.
The House adjourned at 1916.