36th Parliament, 1st Session

L089 - Mon 17 Jun 1996 / Lun 17 Jun 1996
















































The House met at 1333.




Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): It is with great pleasure that I direct your attention to the gallery to present to the House two members of the Royal Canadian Legion from eastern Ontario: Mr Jim Wynn from L.T.H. Russell Branch 372, and Mr Brian Markwick from Chesterville Branch 434.

These two individuals are in Toronto today to take part in the 36th Dominion Convention of the Royal Canadian Legion. Mr Wynn and Mr Markwick are also chairmen of the 50th anniversary celebration for their respective branches.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all members of the Russell and Chesterville branches for their involvement in their communities since 1946. Those two branches, like so many others across this province and this nation, have done so much over the past 50 years for the veterans, their families and their communities.

Mr Wynn and Mr Markwick, in the name of the people of Prescott and Russell and all Ontarians, it is with great respect that I congratulate you and all your members for 50 years of outstanding contribution to our communities.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): This Friday, June 21, will be the first celebration of the recently declared National Aboriginal Day. This day of celebration is for all Canadians, particularly young people, to learn more about the aboriginal cultural heritages of our nation.

June 21 was selected as the date of celebration because of its symbolic importance to many aboriginal groups as the summer solstice. The initiation of this special day is particularly appropriate, as it has come during the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. It is a day for Canadians to get together to learn about each other, to take time to reflect on and appreciate the contribution of aboriginal people to our country and to our province. There will be celebrations across the country, many here in Ontario, from Windsor to Ottawa, to recognize this new day on Canada's calendar.

During these times, as aboriginal people struggle to achieve self-determination and self-governance, it is important that all of us work hard to maintain the lines of communication. Our outstanding issues can be resolved to the benefit of all of us if we continue to work as partners. The declaration of June 21 as the day to celebrate the contributions of aboriginal people of Canada is one way to maintain that communication.

This initiative was supported by my colleague federal NDP MP Nelson Riis from the riding of Kamloops through the introduction of a private member's bill. I am happy that we in Ontario will be celebrating, along with the rest of the country, this very special day.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I wish to make mention of an important event that will be taking place on this day in 1997. Preparations are well under way for the 100th anniversary of the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario and Canada. This will be held in Hamilton, June 17 to 22, 1997.

Women's institutes link seven million members worldwide. Over 2,000 delegates from across Canada and around the world will be taking part. The theme for the convention is "Indebted to the Past, Committed to the Future."

During times when we are all looking for a community esprit de corps and to fan the flame of volunteerism, we need not look beyond the work done by women's institutes. My family has had a long association with the Marburg Women's Institute in my riding of Norfolk. To commemorate their 75th anniversary I conveyed our government's support last fall. The Marburg Women's Institute is just one of many in my riding and across Ontario.

Women's institutes are proud of the work they've done in the past 100 years to improve the lives of families, to manage homes in the best way possible and to provide leadership in their communities. If ever our society needed groups like the women's institutes and the junior women's institutes, it is now. I am confident that women's institutes will continue their efforts for another 100 years.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The forest fire season has arrived in Ontario with a vengeance. In northwestern Ontario alone, there are presently over 180 blazes being battled right now. This past weekend, our hardworking fire crews managed to extinguish 28 blazes, but weather forecasts of hot and dry conditions threaten many more outbreaks in the next few days.

I want to tip my hat to the extraordinary work being done by all those involved but at the same time draw the attention of the House to the fact that many of the fire crews have been brought in from Alberta and British Columbia, not to mention Minnesota and Wisconsin.


While we welcome whatever help is needed to fight these blazes, it is important to note that all the costs associated with these out-of-province crews -- salaries, benefits and transportation -- are paid for by Ontario taxpayers. Why is the Minister of Natural Resources not hiring more workers from northwestern Ontario, let alone from all across the province, who are qualified to do the job?

We know the minister reduced the fire protection budget from $35 million to $30 million this year. We know the minister eliminated 60 jobs earlier this year by cutting back on 20 three-person firefighting crews. We also know that the unemployment rate is over 10% in Thunder Bay, 12% in Geraldton-Longlac, and 15% in Atikokan. People are calling my office and the offices of my colleagues indicating their desire to work on these devastating fires.

Minister, I'm calling on you to continue to fight these fires in an aggressive manner, but to recognize that we have thousands of Ontario citizens who are ready, willing and able to be part of this huge job.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Yet again over the weekend I met many, many people in my constituency, as many other members of the assembly do when they go back to their ridings on the weekends, and the message is always the same. It astounds me: From community to community throughout the riding of Cochrane South, from coffee group to coffee group, community event to community event, to individual meetings with constituents, I'm getting more and more a large amount of concern from the constituents of Cochrane South as to what the Harris agenda means to them in the constituency of Cochrane South.

They worry; for example, the people I met in Iroquois Falls just recently who are not with day care at this point because the government cancelled a conversion program of the day care spots in the community of Iroquois Falls. I have in other communities such as Timmins situations where many people who are having to return to college this year don't have somewhere to bring their children because of the cancellation of much-needed day care spots within the city of Timmins.

They worry about what happened with the roads last winter in regard to the poor maintenance condition of our highways, with highways being shut down for days on end and the condition of those highways being dangerous to the point that we've never seen them before. They worry and they're concerned about what's happening with the repairs of our highways, where we should be seeing construction crews out on the highways across northern Ontario fixing up the frost heaves caused by the winter damage of the road from last year but they don't see that happening.

They worry about what's going to happen to our forests with the cancellation of fire crews and fire stations throughout northern Ontario, when the full effect of that comes to roost next spring where we're going to see an increased amount of fire damage within our forests.

So I say there's no common sense in this. This is about a government for big business.


Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I rise today to pay tribute to Robert Douglas Kennedy, who was born in Dixie on June 15, 1916, an area which I now represent known as Mississauga East.

Doug Kennedy was introduced to politics by his father, John Robert Kennedy, who was a councillor and clerk for the township of Toronto, and by his uncle, the Honourable Thomas Laird Kennedy, who was the Minister of Agriculture in this province for 34 years and served as interim Premier for nine months between 1948 and 1949.

Doug Kennedy was a school trustee from 1955 to 1963. He was Hydro commissioner from 1963 to 1967. When Peel was divided into two ridings in 1967, Doug Kennedy was elected as the provincial representative for Peel South, and was re-elected in 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1981. For 18 years he served in numerous ministries, including as parliamentary assistant to the then Minister of Education, the Honourable William Davis.

Doug Kennedy has dedicated more than half of his life to serving Ontario. Last Saturday I was privileged and honoured to participate in the celebration of his 80th birthday. Congratulations to Doug Kennedy.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): It is now one year into this government's mandate and this government's imprimatur is now more evident. The progeny of the Family Compact that sit smugly across the aisle, the revolutionary maniacs, sit there in the knowledge that they are leading in the current polls. But listen well, you Reformistas, because there is a price to be paid for everything, and in the end you will pay the price for overindulging in your zealotry.

What is clear is that many of our communities are doing with a lot less. The government's mantra of doing more for less is clearly bogus. What is true is that people are getting a whole lot less for less. Ontarians are not getting the same levels of service they used to.

As the Toronto Star pointed out in a weekend article, there are fewer police, fewer nurses, social workers, librarians, paramedics, transit drivers. And it is clear that crime is on the increase. It is a real problem in Metro Toronto and across this province.

York region's board of education, growing by 3,000 pupils a year, has slashed its per pupil spending from a high of $7,219 in 1993 to $6,993 this year, and they've cut junior kindergarten. As well, Peel region's police department has added one extra police officer in the past five years while its population has increased by 116,000 -- incredible.

This is not common sense. This is clearly a sign of a government that is downsizing in the stupidest of ways.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Today I would like to congratulate the town of Opasatika, Ontario, on its 20th anniversary as of April 1. As many of you are from communities considerably older and larger than Opasatika, this might not strike you as a momentous occasion, but it is.

This community of 388 in my riding of Cochrane North has survived a disaster, the closure by the Department of Defence of the Lowther air base in 1986, cutting the community's population in half. They were able to weather the storm and now they are prospering. Hyundai Canada established a cold-weather test facility there, the lumber company Excel has undergone an expansion, and this month they hope to start construction on a mushroom farm worth $1.3 million that will create 20 full-time jobs.

During the past two decades Opasatika has averaged nearly one large project per year and, unlike most of us, the municipality even has a reserve of $500,000. Would that the towns of Cochrane, Hearst and Kapuskasing, which recently lost a total of 42 jobs because of your government's cut to the Ministry of Natural Resources' budget, and other smaller communities suffering from your government's cutbacks do as well as Opasatika. They can't expect very much from this government.

I was pleased on Friday to attend a seniors' banquet in Opasatika, where the people are all smiles and know that they're going to prosper. There were people from all over the community. I was also in Mattice and Smooth Rock Falls for seniors' banquets. I want to congratulate all the seniors in this province during the month of June.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): "Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?" Kids cried as this song was played at Michael's funeral. Michael Amann-Ewaschuk, 18 years of age, was being laid to rest last Wednesday. Michael was stabbed at the Main Street subway station, another result of youth violence. Michael's family is with us today in the gallery.

For the overflowing crowd at Michael's funeral it was their first taste of death. Kids the age of my daughter wept. Death had probably never touched their lives before. It was final. They knew it now.

There were pictures of a handsome young man in his prime, of Michael in his soap box racer, in a team baseball picture and at a lake fishing with young friends -- the things we've all done, family things snuffed out in seconds by such a senseless act.

Michael's family does not want his death to be in vain. They've established the Michael Amann-Ewaschuk Youth Crime Prevention Fund. I applaud the family.

I do not want to see again the sadness, the finality of life with so much promise, the end of dreams for family and friends, the agony of senselessness. I suggest that every member of any Parliament attend the funeral of a youth struck violently like Michael. Perhaps then we'll legislate away some of this awful youth violence. We have to change things. Too many of our kids are in heaven already.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from Ethiopia. Please welcome these guests.

We also have Senator Terry Lister, with the Legislature of Bermuda. Welcome.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I thought the members should be aware that almost the entire York Mills PC executive is in the members' gallery today.




Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): Today I am tabling new landfill standards that will ensure the environment is protected and will make the approvals process less costly, less time-consuming and more predictable.

These standards are among the toughest in the world. They will help reduce the considerable stress on communities that are looking for landfill sites. We've heard from those who build and operate landfill sites and those affected by them. They have said, "Give us the standards and let us work it out." Now we're acting on that message while ensuring the environment is protected.

In the past, approvals for waste sites often took years, costing millions of dollars. In many cases, after considerable expense and time, proposed sites were rejected. The result was a no-win situation for everyone involved. Today, we are changing that. For the first time in Ontario's history we are introducing clear and comprehensive, state-of-the-art landfill standards.

We are inviting public comment on stringent landfill standards that are second to none in protecting the environment. These clearly defined standards, combined with the improvements we are making to the Environmental Assessment Act, will make the approvals process more certain, more flexible and less costly. They will also ensure that proponents don't waste unnecessary time trying to satisfy us.

I have just released landfill standards that set requirements for the following: siting considerations to protect environmentally sensitive areas; design specifications such as buffer zones, liners, leachate collection systems and covers; site operation, maintenance, security and environmental monitoring; standards to protect ground and surface waters and to control landfill gas; contingency planning, closure and post-closure care; financial assurance for private sector facilities.

We are releasing these standards for a 30-day comment period and inviting the public, especially interested groups and individuals who operate landfills or live near them, to make written submissions to my ministry's waste reduction branch by July 19. All comments will be considered by the ministry in finalizing these standards.

The standards I have just outlined, which are among the toughest in the world, will improve the landfill site approvals process by saving time and money while ensuring that the environment receives maximum protection.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I am pleased to respond on behalf of the official opposition to the Minister of Environment and Energy's statement. The minister's statement, from our perspective, is premised upon her assurances that the environment will be protected; to quote from the last sentence she read, "while ensuring that the environment receives maximum protection." I want to tell you why we have some grave reservations about the minister's intent with respect to ensuring that the environment is protected.

These assurances come from the minister who has told us acid rain is not a priority. These assurances come from the minister who tells us that she will not act to reduce smog. Furthermore, she did not act to assist the people of Toronto who want to put in place a bylaw which is going to restrict the length of time parked cars could idle. This from the minister who tells us as well that she is not fussy about riding public transit. This from the minister who's aware of only 79 former dump sites in Metro Toronto, whereas an independent source who's had access to public records tells us that are 800 former dump sites.

I want to take advantage of the opportunity now to list some of the minister's accomplishments to date. If we put them all together, she gives a very good impression of merely presiding over the gradual dismantling of her ministry. The budget to her ministry has been reduced by over $200 million and she's going to lose 752 staff from now until 1997-98.

She has allowed for the effective elimination of protection for environmentally significant areas, such as wetlands, woodlots and ravines, and prime agricultural land. She has allowed for the weakening of controls on activities on public lands and public forests, which may affect the province's waterways. She's allowed for the elimination of $142.5 million in funding for municipal sewer and water services over the next two years. She's allowed major reductions to take place in provincial funding to our conservation authorities and the facilitation of the dissolution of authorities and the sale of their lands.

She's allowing for the elimination of programs related to energy efficiency, waste diversion, environmental science, research and education, community environmental action and sustainable forestry.

She's allowing for the weakening of mine closure and remediation provisions under the Mining Act. That came about through the now infamous Bill 26.

She's allowing for the virtual elimination of provincial oversight in the management of Ontario's public forests. She's allowing for the proposal of the closure, consolidation, co-location or partnering of 60 of Ontario's 251 provincial parks.

She's allowed for the implementation of major cuts to provincial support for public transit and the repeal of land use planning requirements intended to curb urban sprawl. We've all known for too long now of the downsides of urban sprawl not only in terms of their economic and social but their environmental cost.

She has permitted the Intervenor Funding Project Act to expire, exempting the Ministry of Finance and financial restructuring measures from the public notice requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights, and she's making it easier for provincial and municipal agencies to reject freedom of information requests.

She's allowing for the implementation of major cuts to the budgets of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Ontario Energy Board.

She's exempting banks from environmental liability under the Environmental Protection Act.

She's participated in the initiation, and we're all aware of this one, of a one-year review of all environmental regulations, with the intent of eliminating those which cannot be justified against criteria established by the Red Tape Review Commission.

I think it's perfectly clear that this minister has not assumed her own special responsibility, and that is to advance the cause of the environment at the cabinet table. It is apparent that nobody on that side of the House has assumed that responsibility, but there is only one person in particular who is charged with that responsibility, and that's the minister herself.

If the minister herself is not taking that on, then who is? Who speaks for the environment in this government? Who speaks for clean air? Who speaks for preservation of our natural wildlife? Who speaks for preservation of farm lands? Who's going to act against urban sprawl?

It's apparent that there's nobody over there taking any interest in preserving our natural environment, and we're going to pay for that for a long time to come.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I am going to speak directly to the regulations that have been introduced today. I'd like to start by saying that I'm sure the minister does not want to mislead the people of Ontario, so I want to correct something right away. These regulations are not the best regulations in the world, and they're by no means second to none. The United States is not the best jurisdiction to do comparisons, believe me. There are much stronger regulations in parts of Europe and in Japan.

It's interesting to note that under the introduction and purpose of the document put out today, the third paragraph talks about, "Although the Ministry of Environment and Energy continues to emphasize the three Rs..." Excuse me? This is after the government has cut funding through the blue box program, has brought back incineration, and is cutting about a third of your staff.

Then on page 3 under "Natural Heritage Features" it talks about how landfilling sites should be located in environmentally sensitive areas, and it goes to say, "The areas identified here are consistent with the recent provincial policy statement made under the Land Use Planning and Protection Act." I can tell you that this does not give me much confidence, because it's a big joke. This government has redrawn the map for defining significant wetlands. A lot of the areas originally under our government have been taken off that map, and it has been significantly reduced. So, believe me, that does not give us much comfort.

There's another thing I'd like to point out which I think is extremely important here, because if we will recall, there was a question to the Premier recently. The Premier was asked if landfills will be subject to a full environmental assessment. Remember that? And what did the Premier say? He said, yes, landfills will have to be subject to a full environmental assessment. Well, the minister said today, and I heard her myself, that in fact landfill will not necessarily be subject to a full environmental assessment. It depends on a lot of criteria.


What people have to do now is that a citizens' group and the municipality and the proponent, although who the citizens' group will be has not been defined, have to get together and agree upon the terms of reference, which means the minister hasn't even achieved her own purpose here in tightening the time frames, in speeding up the process.

It's incredibly naïve at best to think that you are going to get a bunch of citizens in a rural area, who do not want a landfill in their backyard, to sit down with the proponent, who stands to make millions of dollars, and agree upon terms of reference. The minister said that it cannot even come before her or the ministry until these terms of reference are agreed to. Give me a break. That's what's going to now hold up the process. So it's not going to make any difference. The process is going to be slowed down at the front end. That is when citizens are going to have their participation. That's when they're going to have their participation -- down the road. Once, if ever, they do reach an agreement on the terms of reference, their participation is finished. The government then takes over.

They will get no intervenor funding, because this government cancelled intervenor funding. That's gone. I guess they'll have to have a few bake sales again. There's no guarantee of a full environmental assessment, but even if there is, they have no money to participate in a very, very complicated technical process which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to get proper testing done.

This morning when the minister was asked about this, she said, "Well, the proponent could give the citizens' group money." There's nothing to guarantee that they'll get money. Therefore, the proponent, again, who stands to make millions of dollars, will be doing all the testing and saying: "Trust us. We'll hire the right scientist; not the scientist you'd like, but trust us, we'll make sure that the proper testing is done." That is what will be given in evidence before an environmental assessment; that is, if there is an environmental assessment.

If this at least actually achieved the purpose which the minister and this government said they wanted to achieve, and speed up the process, perhaps we'd have some support for this, but it doesn't even do that, and it shuts out public --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The time has expired.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. My question has to do with the government's coverup of the beatings that took place at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on February 29, and the coverup of the fact that your government clearly knew about this incident nearly three months before the police were called in to investigate.

I use the term "coverup" deliberately, Minister, because no one can believe the stories that you and the Solicitor General were spinning last week. The Solicitor General has said he wasn't part of any coverup; he was just out of the whole loop. He says that even though his acting deputy was told about the event on March 4, this official, the most senior official in his ministry, didn't bother to tell the minister what was going on. But he did say that you knew, Minister, what was going on, because your deputy minister was told.

Your story goes like this: "Hey, don't blame me. I was as much out of the loop as Bob Runciman was. Nobody told me there were any beatings either."

Nobody can follow this, let alone believe it. You have had the weekend now for your spin doctors to get together with the Solicitor General's spin doctors and come up with a better story. So I ask you, what is your story this week, Minister? How do you explain this week why young people were brutally beaten up while they were in provincial custody? How do you explain why it was three months before the police were called in to investigate, and how can you possibly expect anyone to believe that neither you nor the Solicitor General knew what was going on even though both your deputy ministers were fully informed?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): It's the same explanation I gave last week, essentially, and we'll deal with it sequentially so it is quite understood.

On March 4, I was advised that an incident had taken place at Bluewater on February 29. At the same time, I was advised that since the facility was not under the auspices of my ministry, nor were any of the young offenders involved under the authority or case management of my ministry, nor do I have jurisdiction over that particular facility, we had no involvement in this particular incident, and that's exactly the story I told last week.

Mrs McLeod: Just that the few remaining shreds of your credibility are wilting badly under the glare of the scrutiny of this story.

Let me understand it again: You want us to believe, even though your deputy was informed -- clearly an issue of concern to your ministry, so that your deputy was informed -- on March 4 that the child advocate was very concerned about the treatment of 40 youths, that you weren't told about the beatings. You want us to believe that even though your deputy minister made an urgent call to you on March 4 to tell you about this, somehow she failed to mention the fact that these young people had been beaten and somehow you just didn't ask; it was enough to be told there was an incident and you were simply relieved that somehow you didn't have to feel responsible for doing anything about it. You want us to believe that you knew nothing, that you heard nothing, that you passed on nothing? Even by the standards of ignorance that you have sometimes demonstrated in the past, Minister, I find that a rather hard story to swallow.

The word "coverup" is written all over this, so why don't you admit that your deputy minister, when she briefed you on this, would tell you what was going on? Why don't you tell us whom you passed this information on to, why you took part in the coverup and who else joined you in the coverup?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I guess I can repeat what I just said, but I can say this as well, that we had no authority over the matter. In fact, at Elgin-Middlesex we have absolutely no involvement with that facility at all. So clearly, once again, the facility was not one that was under the authority of community and social services, nor were any young offenders under our case management involved at all. Lastly of course we have no jurisdiction.

I might comment, though, that I think the child advocate, Judy Finlay, in a story in the Toronto Sun over the weekend, indicated that it would not have been appropriate for us to become involved; in fact, "the Ministry of Community and Social Services would not interfere," she said.

So clearly not only did we have no involvement in the matter, it would be highly inappropriate for us to become involved while it's under the authority of another ministry.

Mrs McLeod: I'm sorry, but this is simply an unbelievable story. On February 29, 40 youths were beaten, prodded, kicked and deliberately humiliated while in the custody of the province of Ontario. The child advocate told your deputy minister. The Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services told her about this a few days later. You want us to believe that your deputy, when she then briefed you, as she was required to do, didn't tell you that the beatings had taken place -- this is the person in your ministry whose key responsibility is to make you aware of major problems, major issues -- she did her job; she briefed you; she called you to brief you, and yet somehow, as part of that briefing, she failed to tell you that anyone was beaten, that she just said it was an incident and you didn't need to worry about it, and as someone who follows a don't-ask, don't-tell policy you didn't think to ask her? Minister, it is one heck of a story and it simply defies belief.

I will give you one more chance to come clean on this. Tell us what you knew. Tell us what your deputy told you when she called you to brief you. Tell us whom you told and tell us what they said once and for all in this sordid affair. Tell the truth of what happened.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Once again, and let me make it very patently clear that what I was advised of was of the incident at Bluewater, which was the facility from which the young offenders were being transferred. Obviously my ministry felt, and I feel too, that we had no authority over the incident.

Clearly, once again for the third time, the facility was not ours, nor were any of the young offenders under our authority. Clearly there was no involvement by our ministry and clearly the child advocate also indicated that it would be highly inappropriate for us to become involved. I don't know how I could better answer the question to the Leader of the Opposition.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question. To which minister?

Mrs McLeod: To the Solicitor General and the minister of corrections, to see if I can at least attempt to get his story straight and get around some of the contradictions between what he has been spinning and what your colleague, Minister, is spinning now, because you said last week that your colleague did know about those beatings, had to know about those beatings. because the deputy minister had been briefed on them, even though somehow you claim that you didn't know about them.


A mother of one of the teens who was allegedly beaten by your officials while handcuffed called your office more than a dozen times during the month of March out of concern for her child's safety, and yet you claim you didn't know about that. The child advocate reported concerns about these beatings to your acting deputy minister and to the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services as early as March 4, and yet you claim you didn't know about that. Then immediately after that briefing your colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services, according to you, learned about the incident at Elgin-Middlesex, and yet you claim that you still didn't know. How do you really expect anyone to believe it when you say you didn't know?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think most objective observers outside of this assembly will believe me with respect to this matter. I want to indicate that we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there was a major riot at the Bluewater Youth Centre that caused substantial damage to two of the five dormitories. The estimate of damage was a quarter of a million dollars. It included broken windows, smashed furniture, flooding, fires.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): So that justifies beatings?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): They informed you of that; they did not inform you of the other things?

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Oh, he's got all the details on this; he knows all of this.

Hon Mr Runciman: Clearly they don't want to hear this, Mr Speaker. I'll respond when they want to hear the answer.

The Speaker: Go ahead, Minister.

Hon Mr Runciman: If they're ready for the answer, I will respond.

The question here surrounds the fact with respect to how the ministry responded related to March 4 and the receipt of the child advocate's report. The reality is -- the child advocate has said this publicly to anyone who is willing to listen -- that during that interim period she and ministry officials made every effort to move young offenders out of the Elgin-Middlesex facility. No one was happy with young offenders being in an adult institution. Every effort was made to move them, but they were frustrated at every turn by the labour situation. As you recall, there was a strike at the time in the public sector. They tried to move young offenders back into the Bluewater facility, but the union immediately filed an occupational health and safety complaint, and they had to pull the youth back out of that facility.

The advocate has said time and time again that the ministry did everything possible -- everything possible -- in terms of her concerns about young offenders. To the Leader of the Opposition, who is talking about a coverup, let her explain what she's talking about in terms of a coverup.

Mrs McLeod: I asked the minister to put himself in the position of somebody who would be looking objectively at the facts of what has happened here. Of course the minister was aware of the original riot that took place. We all were; it was publicly reported. That is why your attempt to explain, attempt to suggest that you were not made aware of what occurred subsequent to that riot absolutely defies belief.

You have a serious public issue, you have a response taken to that serious issue, you have the child advocate who has told both your deputy minister and the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services that she has serious concerns about the treatment of those young people who have been transferred to Elgin-Middlesex, and yet you are saying that neither your acting deputy nor the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services saw fit to tell either you or, apparently, your colleague what was actually happening.

Do you really expect that anybody looking objectively at the facts of this would believe that two senior deputy ministers would actually fail to understand how serious this incident was and that they would therefore fail to inform you or you colleague of what had taken place?

Hon Mr Runciman: Any objective observer, as the leader makes reference to, would indeed, I think, support the position we put forward publicly. There's no indication -- we have to look at the report of the child advocate, and what she has said publicly is that she shared the concerns of ministry staff with respect to extended incarceration of young offenders in an adult institution. Every effort was made to move those young offenders; they were frustrated.

When the advocate approached the acting deputy and the deputy, she indicated that she had concerns she wished to investigate. She was encouraged at every step of the way with respect to that investigation. She has said that publicly. The opposition members obviously do not want to pay attention to that perspective from the child advocate. In terms of the communication, I have indicated publicly that I have a concern with respect to the fact that the protocol was not followed and we're pursuing that through the internal investigation.

Mrs McLeod: The issue here is really what the minister responsible, the Solicitor General and Minister of Corrections, knew about this situation and why he is denying any knowledge of it, and the fact that apparently his colleague also was not told, denies any knowledge of what happened. This is not some protocol issue of an incident that was happening deep within the bowels of the ministry; this is something where the senior deputy ministers, the people responsible for briefing the ministers on issues, were informed of what was happening. You are expecting us to believe that two deputy ministers failed to do what is the most basic thing for deputy ministers to do, and that is to brief their ministers on something serious which is happening within their ministries. I say to you that is not believable by any objective standard at all.

You are further telling us that although you have a mother who is calling your office directly more than a dozen times in the course of one month, your own hand-picked staff failed to see this as serious and failed to tell you this was happening, and that too is not believable.

There is only one possible explanation for what has happened here, and that is that both the Solicitor General and the minister responsible for community and social services are covering up their knowledge, their responsibility for what has happened and their failure to take action. If you do not agree that is the explanation, will you agree to a public inquiry so that the facts as you see them can come forward?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'd like to know what's being covered up. The advocate expressed her concerns on March 4. She was encouraged to conduct a full investigation with respect to her concerns. Her report was delivered to the deputy at the end of May, and immediately upon receipt of her report the London city police were called in. She has indicated that in the interim period with respect to her expression of concerns and the filing of her report the ministry acted appropriately, that she was quite satisfied with respect to the steps taken by the ministry to ensure the safety of young offenders.

When the member raises these allegations of coverup, again I ask her to be specific. What is she talking about with respect to coverup? I don't think there's been any suggestion of coverup. The ministry acted appropriately with respect to her concerns, encouraged the investigation, called in the police immediately upon receipt of her report.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Dovercourt.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I want to pursue with the minister some other aspects of the scandal that's plaguing his government.

Minister, you've said today that on March 4 you were informed that an incident had taken place at Bluewater. We know this call to you came from your deputy minister. Could you tell us in a little bit more detail what other details your deputy minister told you? She couldn't have just said to you, "An incident took place." You must have asked or she must have told you about the riot, about some of the other details. Could you please enlighten us on the nature of that conversation and what you understood from that conversation that had taken place?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: What I was told and what I understood were the same things, and it's essentially what I just finished telling the Leader of the Opposition. I was advised by the deputy minister that an incident had occurred at Bluewater and that the young offenders had been transferred. However, once again, at the same time I was advised our ministry had no involvement in the matter. Clearly, we have enough on our plate at community and social services to do without interfering in another ministry.


Once again I'll refer to the child advocate. I hope that the member is not doubting the integrity of the child advocate, because the child advocate has clearly said that it would not have been appropriate for us to intervene and the fact that we should not interfere.

Mr Silipo: No, we are not questioning the integrity of the child advocate but I am questioning very much your integrity today, and there could be no doubt about that. You expect us to believe that you get a call from your deputy minister saying that there has been an incident involving young people whom you are responsible for and you stop at that.

Whether or not the magical line had been crossed around 15-year-olds or not, Minister, the fact is as Minister of Community and Social Services -- and I know because I've been there -- you are responsible for the welfare of young people above any other minister in the cabinet. You cannot expect us to believe that on a call from your deputy minister that there had been an incident, that you would not ask, as she would not tell you, about the nature of that incident, whether or not you were legally responsible for it or whether or not the Solicitor General was legally responsible for it. How can you expect us, Minister, to believe this garbage?

What did your deputy minister tell you had happened?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I can only hope to assume that when the honourable member was actually in charge of my portfolio that he did not go across and interfere in other ministries, clearly crossing bounds of jurisdiction. Clearly this is the case here, and in fact contradictory to what the member is saying, we were not responsible for these particular young offenders and clearly that's where we didn't have any involvement.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You're responsible for children.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The members over across the way are indicating a certain other responsibility, but certainly when the member was the Minister of Community and Social Services, had he felt so strongly about it, he could have done something about changing that authority.

Mr Silipo: Minister, you can just continue with your arrogance, with your petulance; you can continue with your attitude of, "I didn't know anything; it wasn't my responsibility," but that isn't going to get you anywhere, because the people of the province are understanding more and more, to put it mildly and to put it lightly, the uncaring attitude that's coming out of your ministry and out of you as the minister.

The other aspect that I want to ask you about, Minister, is, this was March 4 -- I think a Monday, according to the calendar, a Monday or a Tuesday -- how can you expect us to believe that you would not have talked, formally or informally, with your colleague the Solicitor General, given the seriousness of the incident that had taken place, at any time in the following days? You don't talk to him at cabinet? You don't talk to him as you meet him in other meetings? You don't raise at all this issue? Why did you not at any point in the days that followed March 4 ever raise these concerns with the Solicitor General and the Minister of Correctional Services?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: This is going to be a well-known passage by the time I finish. The member is asking why there are no discussions held, but once again, Judy Finlay, who is the child advocate, indicated that it would not have been appropriate. I don't know how much of that is difficult to understand -- would not have been appropriate nor should we interfere. That's clearly the whys.


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South is out of order. New question.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. Minister, you didn't know about the allegations at Elgin-Middlesex for three months, even though your acting deputy minister knew on March 4. You didn't know about the allegations that managers at Elgin-Middlesex and at Bluewater were, on the weekend of June 8, in the facility till all hours and that there were allegations that documents were shredded. First you said those managers were part of an internal investigation team and then you told us they weren't.

You said you called in the London police on May 31, immediately upon receiving the report, but in fact the London police only assigned officers to begin their investigations on June 10, after those allegations came to light regarding the possible shredding of documents and that records may have been tampered with. Then on Thursday in this House we raised concerns regarding the superintendent, George Simpson, who was informed in writing on numerous occasions from several of the staff at the institution of allegations of assault. He hadn't done anything to address those concerns. He hadn't called the police, as the policy requires, and he hadn't informed you.

As a result of our questioning on Thursday, we understand that George Simpson was reassigned outside the institution on Friday. Could you explain why the superintendent was reassigned not on March 4, when your acting deputy minister found out about these allegations, not even on June 5, when you found out about these allegations, but last Friday?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not at liberty to discuss the situation related to Mr Simpson.

Mrs Boyd: Perhaps then I should suggest to you a very good reason why this particular superintendent should have been reassigned a long time ago.

I have a copy of a memo that Superintendent George Simpson, the same individual who has now been reassigned, sent to all shift supervisors, that is management, at Elgin-Middlesex. That memo is dated June 7, 1996. Let me read to you from the memo:

"All shift supervisors are required to attend a staff meeting at 1300 hours on Tuesday, 11 June 1996....

"Commencing at 0800 hours on Monday, June 10, 1996, copies of the child advocate's report will be available from Doug Ogilvie for reading in the staff training room. These reports are not to be copied or removed from the staff training room and are to be returned to Mr Ogilvie upon completion."

That memo was signed by Mr Simpson as the superintendent. We find out now that those managers were allowed to read the child advocate's report and then were required to attend a staff meeting, where none of us can believe, of course, this whole issue wasn't discussed.

Minister, you refused to release the child advocate's report to the public because you said there were managers who might be subject to ongoing investigations and they were allowed to read that report. It's our understanding that managers at Elgin-Middlesex have read the report, that they did read the report. Could the minister explain why the child advocate's report was available to management staff who may be the subject of ongoing criminal investigations by the London police and by the internal ministry investigation?

Hon Mr Runciman: I haven't indicated that I'm not prepared to release the report at some point when it becomes appropriate to do so. I've indicated that initially I asked for a verbal opinion from the Ministry of the Attorney General with respect to the release of that report and expressed concerns. I then asked that I be given a written comment, report, recommendation from the ministry with respect to the implications of publicly releasing that report. The Ministry of the Attorney General advised my office and me personally that it would be inappropriate, given the criminal investigation that is under way at the moment, that we release the reports, that we may indeed jeopardize those investigations. I'm following that advice.

Mrs Boyd: The memo from George Simpson is dated June 7. Those reports were available for managers to read on Monday, June 10, the Monday after the weekend when the managers were in the facility till all hours, and all those managers were required to attend a staff meeting the following day.

You said last week that releasing the child advocate's report to the public might jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations, but I wonder how you can justify the fact that the very people who might be the subjects of those ongoing investigations had access to these reports and may have had an opportunity to discuss among themselves, at a meeting which they were all required to attend, what their strategy would be. Minister, how can it be appropriate for you to have allowed this to happen?

Hon Mr Runciman: This is related to a matter which I am not at liberty to discuss, not only because of the criminal proceedings but the internal investigation and all the ramifications and implications surrounding that.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. You are charged, as you well know, with the responsibility of knowing where all Ontario dumps are, whether those in actual use or those formerly in use. It's important to know where all the old dumps are because in many cases they contain dangerous materials and sometimes carcinogens.

Your records show that there are 79 old dumps in Metro Toronto. But Dr Richard Anderson, a York University geography professor, has finished some research which says that there are not 79 but 800 old dumps in Metro Toronto and that there are schools, houses and parks built on or near some of those sites. Can you assure us that you now know where these 800 sites are and tell us what steps you are taking based on this information?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I am aware of the report that a gentleman has recently released. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Environment and Energy has not yet had an opportunity to examine the information contained within that report.

With regard to old dump sites across the province, in 1985 the ministry undertook to do an inventory of sites across the province, and about 2,300 sites were determined. From that, the most difficult were then narrowed down. About 370 sites were considered to be worthy of investigation. An independent study then looked at those sites, and of those, 25 -- so we started with 2,300 and we ended up, across Ontario, looking at a number, 25, which were identified as the worst by an independent consultant hired by the ministry. No significant impacts were identified when those 25 from that original 2,300 were studied.

Mr McGuinty: There are 800 sites with which this minister is not familiar. Those are 800 sites which potentially house or contain dangerous materials. This minister has taken no steps, obviously, so far to find out where those sites are. She's going to have to assume some responsibility in this regard. Her records show that there are 79 sites.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I'm having a problem hearing the question. Would the House come to order, please.

Mr McGuinty: We have independent confirmation to the effect that there are 800 sites, some of which are located below schools, parks and newly constructed homes. The minister is going to have to assume some responsibility here, and she has failed to do so to date. Will you now accept responsibility for this matter and immediately obtain Dr Anderson's work from him, test the sites and then inform us of what dangers we're facing?

Hon Mrs Elliott: To listen to my critic across the floor, he sounds as though there was never an environment minister who had come before me. These sites have been out here for a very long time. We are concerned; we have been concerned about it. My ministry has been working on this for years. The gentleman opposite was a minister at the time. My colleague across the way, when he was the minister, was also concerned about this.

The report this gentleman refers to has not yet been released to the minister. We can only hope that the gentleman who did the work will choose to share it with the ministry. Then we can pursue it further.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. In your job you're responsible for ensuring that police investigations go forward in an appropriate way, and yet, if I may be so bold as to suggest, your incompetence and lack of control within your ministry has clearly jeopardized the ongoing investigations into the allegations of what happened to young offenders under your control at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

You finally reassigned the superintendent, who in my opinion, and I suspect the opinion of most others in this House, ought to have been moved out months ago. You knew that the superintendent was present at the institution during the strike. We told you, as did OPSEU, that the superintendent was informed in both April and May of the allegations that young people had been beaten. He did nothing, even though he's required to do it by the policy of your ministry.

On June 8, managers went into Elgin-Middlesex, and there are allegations that the shredding of documents took place, documents that may or may not be related to this particular investigation. The superintendent was there at the time. He should have been reassigned months ago. And what about the other managers at Elgin-Middlesex who may be the subject of ongoing investigations who are still present at the institution and may have access to relevant information?

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Put your question, please.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, do you not think it's appropriate for managers who may be the subject of internal and police investigations to be kept away from an institution while those investigations are under way and for the records in that institution to be secured? Do you think this could jeopardize the investigations, the fact that those records were not secure and were not kept safe from the very people who are under investigation?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): It's interesting to note that we've heard from both opposition parties today and the conclusion reached is "guilty as charged." I've said from the outset that these are allegations related to the complaints related to the managers and to the treatment of young offenders as they arrived at Elgin-Middlesex.

On this side of the House, we believe in due process. There is an internal investigation and there's a police investigation, and we think we've acted appropriately with respect to reassignment related to those allegations. When allegations have been raised related to the activities of correctional officers as well as managers, we have ensured reassignment so they are not in any way, shape or form involved with activities related to young offenders.

Mrs Boyd: We need to make it very clear that no one on this side of the House is making an assumption of guilt in these allegations at all. What we are saying to the minister is that you are making assumptions; you are not following the procedure that you yourself have said is appropriate when investigations are under way. We spoke last week about your very strong comments in the Piper case, where you said it was absolutely unacceptable for Mr Piper to be allowed to go to his office without the supervision of the police. This is exactly the same kind of situation, only it's much more serious because it involves allegations of personal injury to young people under the authority of this government, young people who deserve the protection of this government.

Minister, you are responsible and indeed you must be held accountable for what happens in your ministry.


The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke West, come to order.

Mrs Boyd: Frankly, there's been incompetence, there has been delay, there has been insubordination, and now there is a possibility that the very investigations that have been put in place may be useless because it may not be possible to have evidence untainted by what has gone on.

The Speaker: Would you put your question.

Mrs Boyd: We know those managers read the child advocate's report. That in and of itself smacks of a coverup. Why did they read it? Were they going to be talking together about how they were going to cover this up further?

Minister, quite frankly, as a result of our questioning over the past few weeks, you've shown yourself to be nothing but reactionary. You're not proactive on behalf of the youth in your care; you are simply reacting day after day, lurching from crisis to crisis. Do the honourable thing and resign.

Hon Mr Runciman: I've been waiting with bated breath for that one.

I've indicated from the outset that no one was happy with the movement of young offenders from an essentially destroyed facility into an adult facility. Every effort was made, and the child advocate has indicated from the outset -- if anyone in the opposition party is prepared to listen to the positions she's put forward with respect to efforts made to move young offenders out of an adult institution and into an appropriate setting. She has also indicated publicly again that she has been very much satisfied with the response of the ministry related to the treatment of young offenders during that interim period. She also received maximum encouragement and support during the efforts in terms of her investigation of her concerns, and once that report was tabled, the ministry acted immediately in terms of calling in the police. Once the concerns were raised related to the managers' activities on the weekend in question, I indicated my strong concern as well, and I have broadened the investigation to include that particular element and called in a senior counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General. I think we've acted quite appropriately.



Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Recently you participated in the announcement of the government's package of auto insurance reforms, spearheaded by the member for Mississauga West. Although there was great attention given to the reforms that will ensure rate stability for auto insurance for Ontario motorists, many people may not be aware of the reforms around uninsured drivers that your ministry is undertaking. Would you explain the role of the Ministry of Transportation in these reforms?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I thank the member for Etobicoke-Humber for the question. Yes, this government is committed to reducing the number of uninsured vehicles operated in Ontario. MTO is working with the insurance industry to help stabilize the cost of insurance, reduce fraud and help distribute the costs of insurance more fairly. Thanks to the excellent work of the Ministry of Finance and my friend the member for Mississauga West, all road users will benefit from the amendments in this legislation. The part of this legislation that directly involves MTO is the requirement that the insurance industry report insurance status on vehicles being driven on our roads.


Hon Mr Palladini: This is a very interesting subject and I would appreciate it if the honourable members would at least listen. I believe the people of Ontario would like to know what this government is doing for them.

We will help consumers in other ways. We will further introduce legislation that will prevent fraud relating to wrecks and stolen vehicles. This will help reduce the cost of insurance even further.

Finally, we are working with the industry on a number of other initiatives to further benefit the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been answered. Supplementary?

Mr Ford: Would the minister also explain to the House how the insurance verification process will work and what the punishment will be for those who would have others assume the risk for them being on the road?

Hon Mr Palladini: MTO will not register a vehicle not covered by compulsory automobile insurance. Police will be able to verify insurance status during routine enforcement checks and have the information to lay the appropriate charges for operating a vehicle without insurance or possessing a false insurance certificate. Penalties for operating a vehicle without insurance are going to be quite substantial. For a first offence, fines will range from $5,000 to $25,000. For a subsequent conviction, fines will range from $10,000 to $50,000. Those convicted of possessing and the use of a false insurance certificate will receive fines up to $50,000. MTO will work with the industry to enable electronic access of insurance information.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Energy and it concerns nuclear reactor safety. Minister, in recent days the federal regulator, the Atomic Energy Control Board, has weighed in yet again to publicly complain about the sloppiness of the Ontario Hydro management at the nuclear power stations. Pickering seems to be a particular concern.

We've had evidence in recent days that the board of Ontario Hydro is actually going to go to court to try to prevent the order of the freedom of information commissioner that internal peer evaluations of what's going on inside Ontario nuclear power reactors become public.

Given what the federal regulator has said, given the concern and the interest of people living in areas like Pickering, Oshawa and Whitby, will you commit today that the order of the freedom of information commissioner -- that those internal peer evaluations of the operating practices within Ontario's nuclear power reactors will be made public forthwith?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I have stated on many occasions in this House, when asked about the nuclear facilities in this province, that we are very concerned about the safe operation of each and every one of these facilities. That has not changed. We are very concerned about this.

The issue of the peer reviews is a difficult one. I have said on many occasions that this is an issue of concern for this reason: A peer review is advice given by peers in a full and frank way to Ontario Hydro as part of its tool to maintain its operation by critically examining the maintenance of the facility. We are concerned that if peer reviews are made public, this is a tool that will no longer be available to Ontario Hydro for critical review and hence improvement of its facility.

Mr Conway: Ontario's information commissioner, having looked carefully at the case involving these internal reviews, has said that there is a public interest in these internal safety reviews being made public. The federal regulator, in recent days, has said that the pattern of sloppiness and bad attitude at Ontario Hydro's nuclear power stations is not getting any better.

Minister, are you simply going to stand in your place and tell the people of Durham region and Bruce county that notwithstanding the stated concerns, stated repeatedly by the federal regulator, and notwithstanding the position of the Ontario freedom of information commissioner that these internal reports should be made public in the public interest, is it still your position today that, notwithstanding all of that independent adjudication, your position and the position of the Ontario government is going to be to allow Ontario Hydro to go to court and to try to keep these internal reviews from seeing the light of public scrutiny?

Hon Mrs Elliott: What I do not want to occur is for the public to be confused between the two things that are being mentioned here.

The Atomic Energy Control Board is the board to which I look for advice on the safe operation of all nuclear facilities and, believe me, if they give this government advice that one of the operations should be shut down or that major changes should be made, we will act and we will listen closely.

But there is another issue at hand here, and that is the integrity of the peer review. This is a tool given to Ontario Hydro by peers who critically examine issues at nuclear stations. They are given because they know the information will be kept in confidence; therefore, they are frank and they are meant as a working tool, and they are expected to remain confidential. Neither did this government release it nor did this government when they were in power release it, because they knew it was critical to the advice given to Ontario Hydro to maintain its operation in the safest possible way.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Premier. The Solicitor General and the minister responsible for corrections has handled the situation at Elgin-Middlesex Centre after the riot at the Bluewater correctional facility in a most unacceptable manner. The minister should have known in March about the serious allegations that had been raised, yet three months later he was only finding out about those allegations, even though his deputy minister was aware of the child advocate's report.

The minister has been flying by the seat of his pants. He has given the House incorrect information which he has changed subsequently. He has given answers in the House which he has then corrected subsequently here and outside. It's clear that the minister hasn't had control over his ministry and what's happening in the ministry. He's found out about very serious allegations because they've been raised here or in the press; he hasn't found out about them from within his ministry. He's dealing with this in a manner of one crisis after another. Every day there are new allegations and new comments the minister tries to deal with.


If the Solicitor General and minister responsible for corrections is unaware of what is really happening in the ministry, the public can't have the proper confidence they should have in the correctional system. If that's the case, in view of this ongoing scandal, would the Premier restore confidence in the correctional system and request the minister to submit his resignation?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I thank the member for the question. Yes, I'm feeling much better, thank you very much. I'm happy to be back.

Let me say that I have followed with some interest the question period over the last week, and as I have watched events unfold and watched media reports both from those of who knew what at Bluewater and Elgin-Middlesex and what has been revealed by the children's advocate, I want to tell you that I have been singularly impressed by the job the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services has done. It's been a challenge to restore integrity after 10 years of neglect, but this man has singlehandedly done it in one year.

Mr Wildman: It's interesting the Premier would give that kind of response when we're dealing with a situation that occurred in February of this year and which has been ongoing since. Surely the Premier agrees that the minister is ultimately responsible for the actions or inactions of his ministry staff, and he is responsible for knowing what is going on within his ministry and ensuring that actions are appropriate. If the Premier accepts that, how can he accept the fact that today and over the last week allegations have been made that the investigation of the events at Elgin-Middlesex has been compromised by the actions of ministry staff?

How is it that ministry staff could be in the facility to many late hours, going through materials, perhaps shredding them, and then subsequently the report of the child advocate would be made available to the managers who might be subject to investigation?

These are allegations. The minister was not ware of them. He should be aware of them. If the Premier accepts that the minister should be aware of what's going on within his ministry and in control of what's going on in his ministry, how can he now stand here and say that he is impressed? Surely the Premier understands that the minister is ultimately responsible and he should be demanding the minister's resignation.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to say very clearly that to date I have had not one single letter, and to the best of my knowledge phone call, from the public calling for what it is you ask for, so whatever it is seems to be either in the imagination or the political desire of the members of the opposition to raise these issues.

You had talked, by way of your question, about accepting responsibility. What has singularly impressed me is the dramatic change from the last 10 years of pointing the finger, of "Not me; oh, it was somebody else"; of doing this or of doing that; "Let's bring in" -- "Oh, we'll take a lie detector test," or, "We'll do all these things." For 10 years the public was faced with this, with ministerial accountability from the Liberals and then from the NDP. What I saw while I was at home not very well, perhaps having eaten strawberries at the wrong time --

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Shame on you. Kids were beaten.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Riverdale.

Hon Mr Harris: -- what I saw was the minister stand in his place and say: "I accept responsibility. I am not happy. The whole reporting procedures were not handled well." He didn't blame the fact that he inherited all his staff from the mess you people left us, but he said: "I am not happy. I accept responsibility. I as the minister accept it and I as the minister have instituted a thorough review."

As you know, there are investigations being undertaken of a criminal nature involving we don't know who. You can't talk about that while that's ongoing. Not only that, but the minister himself has said, "I personally am not happy with the reporting mechanisms. Maybe it was good enough for the former government, but it's not good enough for me," and he's put in place a procedure to change it. Good for him for a change.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. The board of education in Huron county spends $4,500 and $5,000 respectively to educate our children, yet in some jurisdictions up to $9,000 is being spent per student. This inequity endangers the future of students in Huron county and leads to a two-tier education system. My office and the office of Mr Johnson from Perth county have been inundated by cards and letters from both public and separate school supporters demanding education finance reform. What response will you give to those demanding fairness in education finance?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I think this --

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): How many portables in Peel?

Hon Mr Snobelen: One of the members opposite thinks this is not an important question, but I do. I think a lot of the people of Ontario would like to hear an answer to this question.

The member has indicated that 1,500 people have written in to her on this issue, and I'm not surprised. As we look for better value for taxpayers and parents and higher student achievement in our school system in Ontario, one of the astonishing facts that people are now waking up to is that there is a difference in per-student funding of over 30% between assessment-poor boards and assessment-rich boards. It leads people to question whether there is equity on a per-student basis for individual students in our current funding methodology.

As to the two-tiered suggestion, it's very interesting to note that while there is an enormous difference in the amount of spending per student, I can't find an appreciable difference in the only quality issue that really matters, and that's student achievement. It's very clear to me and very clear to this government that we need changes in the way education is funded in Ontario so that we can have an equal opportunity for every student in the province. We are committed to doing that and we are working with the groups, the people in Ontario we need to work with to get to that point that I think we could all agree on.

Mrs Johns: During the debate on Bill 34, the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation dismissed the suggested reforms of education finance as provincial pooling of local tax assessments through the back door. Given that education finance working groups also seem to be unable to reach a consensus on the future finance model, what hope do you see for fairness in funding for the children of less wealthy school boards across Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: There are a number of people in the province who are clearly committed to equal opportunity in our school system and funding that represents that equal opportunity. We have said and the Working Group on Education Finance Reform recently reported and suggested a template for our current status quo of spending on a per-student basis. It's important that we keep in mind that we're funding students and not systems, and to make sure that our funding efforts are at students and not at systems.

It's interesting to note, and I think the members opposite would be interested in this, that the education finance reform working group, after spending over a year and a half -- and these are people who represented the unions representing teachers across the province, the board associations and a variety of stakeholders in the education community -- at the end of the day, representing their particular interests, these people could not agree on a fair funding formula for education.

We as a government, are committed to that and we will do what's required to make sure that every student in the province of Ontario has the same opportunity.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question today is for the Minister of Health. Mr Minister, today is D-Day in Essex county. Obstetricians as of today are taking on no new patients. You've had a year in government to resolve this growing crisis. Instead, you've provoked a showdown with our obstetricians. So far, the minister has advocated sending mothers to the States to have their babies, sending them to the emergency ward. He's blamed the doctors. It's all their fault. Dr Keith MacLeod, the spokesman for all 12 obstetricians in Essex county, said very clearly, "We have not asked for a raise." They are still at 1992 levels. Instead, Dr Keith MacLeod says, "The minister is stealing what he owes us." I ask the minister today, will he stop this? Dr MacLeod is a very well-respected obstetrician and has seen parties come and go. He says he's never seen the likes of this before.

If you'll permit, Mr Speaker, my supplementary question: As of today, some 350 out of 500 obstetricians are stopping their practice in taking on new patients; 140 communities across Ontario are looking for obstetricians. Within two years 220 more obstetricians will be retiring. Every obstetrician in Essex county has been offered jobs outside and into the United States. Mr Minister, you're giving them the boot out the door. You are cutting health care. Windsor women will not find an obstetrician to take them on as new patients.

Mr Minister, if you cannot handle this very delicate situation, will you please find someone within your ministry who can?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm very much aware of the situation in the honourable member's area of the province and throughout the province. I'm working very hard on a solution to this problem. Much of what the honourable member has said in her two questions is just blatantly untrue and lacks any basis in fact whatsoever. Obstetricians, doctors who deliver babies were given a 30% increase on April 1 of this year, and for Dr MacLeod not to acknowledge that, he's simply wrong. We offered recently to pay back all of their insurance, so they would not only get their insurance back in the offer we made, but on April 1 they received an increase of 30%. So I just reiterate that for the honourable member and I say to the honourable member and to all members, as I said last Thursday, that a more comprehensive plan for doctors in the province is being developed and I hope to announce that very shortly.



Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I move that notwithstanding standing order 8(a), the House will meet on Thursday, June 20, for private members' public business only, after which the House will adjourn until 1:30 pm on Monday, June 24, 1996.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch Hospital;

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening conditions,

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I've affixed my signature.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have another petition from tenants of Woodgreen Community Housing on Queen Street. It reads, in both English and Chinese:

"We, the undersigned, tenants of Woodgreen Community Housing, 1070 Queen Street East, a community of seniors and disabled adults, are concerned that:

"(1) Our homes will be lost because of the government's cuts to non-profit housing projects which will undermine their financial viability; and

"(2) Low-income families and the most vulnerable in our communities will suffer devastating hardship because of cuts to the numbers of needy people receiving rent-geared-to-income -- RGI -- assistance, and the increased rents for those currently receiving such assistance.

"We call upon you to stop these government actions that seriously jeopardize our futures and the ongoing viability of our non-profit housing communities."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to present another petition, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:

"Whereas drinking and driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada;

"Whereas every 45 minutes in Ontario a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash;

"Whereas most alcohol-related accidents are caused by repeat offenders;

"Whereas lengthy licence suspensions for impaired driving have been shown to greatly reduce repeat offences;

"Whereas the victims of impaired drivers often pay with their lives, while only 22% of convicted impaired drivers go to jail, and even then only for an average of 21 days;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario."

This is from people in Kinburn and Carp, Ontario, and I affix my own signature thereto.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition from some people in my riding, and it reads:

"We, the undersigned, residents of public housing facilities in the provincial riding of Ottawa Centre, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure that our homes will not be privatized. We object to the government's stated intent to divest itself of public housing stock as it will imperil the wellbeing of those tenants of fixed income or of poor health.

"We respectfully seek the assurance of the Legislative Assembly and of the Honourable Al Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in this most important matter. We look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience."

I affix my signature to this petition as well.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a citizens' petition to Premier Michael Harris. It reads:

"Whereas the cuts imposed on Ontario by Mike Harris and his cabinet target the poorest members of our province and will cause enormous harm to both the working poor and recipients of social assistance; and

"Whereas the cuts in areas of housing, social services like counselling, community centres and drop-ins, health care, education and municipal funding do not save money in the long run and will lead to high social costs and wasted potential from citizens of Ontario; and

"Whereas abandoning the moral and social responsibility of government will serve to put enormous pressure on cash-strapped municipalities, increase local taxes and will destroy the social fabric in Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to pressure the Premier and his cabinet to restore funding that has been cut to the citizens of Ontario and protect the interests of all its citizens regardless of economic status."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I present a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the Port Hope driver testing centre is being closed and moved to Peterborough; and

"Whereas driving to Peterborough will impose hardships and inconvenience on seniors, especially in winter, and also on young drivers who must have a car and a licensed driver to accompany them.

"It will take more time. Depending on road conditions and traffic, especially in Peterborough, it will take half a day for many.

"The Port Hope Centre is always busy, serving Durham East. It takes several weeks to get an appointment in other locations. With added volume, Peterborough will be worse.

"A long-distance telephone call will cost more.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to maintain the Port Hope driver testing centre now."

I affix my name.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition from it looks like over 100 people in the St Catharines area to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is considering the privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the Liquor Control Board of Ontario remain a crown corporation because we fear that the privatization of that organization will lead to increases in crime, drunk driving, alcohol abuse and its health costs as well as loss of control over availability to minors and quality of product."

I affix my signature to this petition as I'm in full agreement with it.



Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Port Hope driver testing centre is being closed and moved to Peterborough; and

"Whereas driving to Peterborough will impose hardship and inconvenience on seniors, especially in winter, and also on young drivers who must have a car and a licensed driver to accompany them.

"It will take more time. Depending on road conditions and traffic, especially in Peterborough, it will take half a day for many.

"The Port Hope centre is always busy. It takes several weeks to get an appointment. With added volume, Peterborough will be worse.

"A long-distance telephone call will cost more.

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:

"Please keep the Port Hope driver testing centre open."

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a like petition in that it's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario government has a duty and responsibility to provide driver examination centres across the province;

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has decided to close the Leamington driver exam centre despite the fact that (1) the Leamington centre is the only exam office between Windsor and Chatham, thus forcing persons and local driver training schools to travel over 50 kilometres in order to obtain a driver exam; (2) the Leamington centre serves a population of over 35,000; (3) there already exists a six-month waiting list for driver exams in Leamington; and (4) the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario did not consult with the local community;

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, demand that the MTO explore every option of retaining driver examinations in the Leamington area, and that the MTO postpone the closing of the present driver examination centre site until a new solution is formulated."

This is signed by several hundred residents of Essex South and I support it with my signature.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise to present a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the recommendations of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to close inpatient paediatric beds, the special care nursery and the burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital, resulting in significantly reduced access to paediatric, newborn and burn care for a large geographic area of Scarborough; and

"Whereas the paediatric unit, special care nursery and burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital provide very cost-efficient, quality care;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to (1) continue paediatric services including inpatient paediatric beds; (2) continue special care nursery services; (3) continue and combine Metropolitan Toronto's burn care."

I'm pleased to present this petition on behalf of Dan Newman, the member for Scarborough Centre.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Transition House in Chatham has provided emergency shelter to troubled or abused youth as well as support, counselling and life skills training since 1990, and, operating on a five-year budget of $865,000, they have counselled over 400 youth and served over 20,000 meals;

"Whereas the city of Chatham and the county of Kent rely on Transition House to meet the needs of its troubled youth and there is no other facility to serve the needs of the community; and

"Whereas it has been shown that massive cuts to health services, school systems and social services have a definite impact on statistics of children and youth in crisis; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and placed the existence of Transition House in jeopardy;

"Be it therefore resolved that we, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to reverse its decision to cut the funding of Transition House in Chatham and in Kent."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"We, the undersigned, wish to advise the Ontario Legislature that we are injured workers and/or friends of injured workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, are concerned about the potential transfer of control of the office of the worker adviser from the Ministry of Labour to the Workers' Compensation Board and reduction of funding levels.

"Further, we, the undersigned, are concerned about the potential withdrawing of funds from the injured worker group funding program.

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call upon all those who sit in the Legislature to insist that the funding for the office of the worker adviser and the injured worker group funding program be of sufficient amount to meet the needs of the clients.

"Be it further resolved that we, the undersigned, call upon the government to not remove the office of the worker adviser from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, as surely its credibility will be negatively affected if such a move were to occur."

I sign my name.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a petition to present to the Legislature from signatories in Napanee, Marley Lake, Etobicoke, Markham, Maple, Windsor, Ottawa, Verner and Sault Ste Marie. These hundreds of individuals address the petition to the Ontario Legislature, to Premier Michael Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and the members of the Ontario provincial Legislature.

"We, the undersigned, protest this government's actions against tenants described below. The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress, and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any action that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario communities. This government also plans to get rid of public housing, has halted the creation of basement apartments and a new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for the United Tenants of Ontario, five municipal tenant organizations and other important tenant services at a time when they are attacking all tenants' rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants, and not just their landlords, will be able to bring their views to bear on government deliberations on tenants' rights and protection. A consultation process with tenants' organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for services to tenants."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This is yet another petition to the honourable Solicitor General and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has decided to scrap mandatory inquests as a result of fatalities in the mining and construction industry; and

"Whereas this unprecedented and callous decision sets workplace safety back 20 years;

"We, the undersigned, request that Solicitor General Bob Runciman, on behalf of all workers in the mining and construction industry, reverse his decision to remove mandatory inquests from the Coroners Act of Ontario."

Because this is so important to miners and construction workers, I affix my name to it, as I agree wholeheartedly with it.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition which reads as follows:

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery;

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation and will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for many years to come;

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes, to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income;

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider the announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

I affix my signature to this petition, as I'm in agreement with its contents.



Mr Gerretsen moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr59, An Act respecting the City of Kingston.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

We have a deferred vote on third reading of Bill 31 and third reading of Bill 38. It will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1521 to 1526.


Bill 31, An Act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers and to make related amendments to certain statutes / Projet de loi 31, Loi créant l'Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'Ontario et apportant des modifications connexes à certaines lois.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will members take their seats, please. We're dealing with third reading of Bill 31 standing in the name of Mr Snobelen. All those in favour will please rise one at a time.


Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Parker, John L.

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Pettit, Trevor

Beaubien, Marcel

Harnick, Charles

Preston, Peter

Boushy, Dave

Harris, Michael D.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boyd, Marion

Hastings, John

Runciman, Bob

Brown, Jim

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Carr, Gary

Jackson, Cameron

Shea, Derwyn

Carroll, Jack

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Cooke, David S.

Johnson, David

Smith, Bruce

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, Ron

Snobelen, John

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

DeFaria, Carl

Klees, Frank

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Laughren, Floyd

Stockwell, Chris

Ecker, Janet

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Marchese, Rosario

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Marland, Margaret

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wilson, Jim

Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.



Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles E.


Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Hoy, Pat

Phillips, Gerry


Castrilli, Annamarie

Kennedy, Gerard

Pouliot, Gilles

Colle, Mike

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Crozier, Bruce

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Curling, Alvin

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony


Gerretsen, John

McGuinty, Dalton


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 69; the nays are 25.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.


Bill 38, An Act to amend the Toronto Islands Residential Community Stewardship Act, 1993 / Projet de loi 38, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1993 sur l'administration de la zone résidentielle des îles de Toronto.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We are now dealing with Bill 38. Is it the consent of the House that we have a vote immediately? Unanimous consent that we have a vote immediately? Third reading of Bill 38 standing in the name of Mr Leach.



Baird, John R.

Hardeman, Ernie

Preston, Peter


Barrett, Toby

Harnick, Charles

Rollins, E.J. Douglas


Beaubien, Marcel

Harris, Michael D.

Runciman, Bob


Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Sampson, Rob

Brown, Jim

Hudak, Tim

Shea, Derwyn

Carr, Gary

Jackson, Cameron

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johns, Helen

Skarica, Toni

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Snobelen, John

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Ron

Spina, Joseph

DeFaria, Carl

Kells, Morley

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Klees, Frank

Stockwell, Chris

Ecker, Janet

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John

Wilson, Jim

Gilchrist, Steve

Palladini, Al

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Parker, John L.

Young, Terence H.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Pettit, Trevor


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise, one at a time, when your name is called.



Bartolucci, Rick

Gerretsen, John

Martin, Tony


Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

McGuinty, Dalton


Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Morin, Gilles E.


Brown, Michael A.

Hoy, Pat

Patten, Richard

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kennedy, Gerard

Phillips, Gerry

Colle, Mike

Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Cooke, David S.

Kwinter, Monte

Pupatello, Sandra

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ramsay, David

Curling, Alvin

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Duncan, Dwight

Marchese, Rosario


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 65; the nays are 29.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Flaherty, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 54, An Act to provide for the delegation of the administration of certain designated statutes to designated administrative authorities and to provide for certain limitation periods in those statutes / Projet de loi 54, Loi prévoyant la délégation de l'application de certaines lois désignées à des organismes d'application désignés et prévoyant certains délais de prescription dans ces lois.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): It is my pleasure to be here on behalf of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to put forward for second reading the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act, 1996. The minister regrets that he cannot himself be present for today's debate. He has asked me to inform the House that he is meeting with government officials in Richmond, Virginia, on the very topic of self-management, specifically that of their motor vehicle dealers sector.

As members of the House will recall, this bill was introduced for first reading on Thursday, May 16, of this year. As they will also no doubt recall, this is a bill that, once enacted, will cut red tape for business and provide more effective services to the public. The act will allow the government to delegate to the private sector certain functions currently carried out by our ministry. We believe this move will enhance consumer protection and bring about the highest public safety standards.

As E.S. Savas, a leading expert on public service, said --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): There are too many discussions taking place in the House. Order.

Mr Flaherty: As E.S. Savas, a leading expert on public service, said: "The word `government' is from a Greek word which means to steer. The job of government is to steer, not to row, the boat." Unfortunately, it seems governments have been focused primarily on rowing.

This legislation will allow us to delegate to organizations outside of government the job of rowing their own boats. Then we as government can concentrate our efforts on steering in the right direction. The government will safeguard the public interest by retaining full responsibility for safety standards through regulations and legislation. We are certain this approach will provide better protection for the public.

As the members are aware, for some time now the consumer ministry has been exploring the possibility of giving some regulated industries the tools and responsibilities to manage their own affairs. In fact, two previous consumer ministers from the other two parties strongly advocated this type of change when they were consumer ministers. I hope my colleagues have taken note of the fact that what I am talking about here, what we have proposed, is self-management, not self-regulation or deregulation.

The purpose of this bill is to enable the government to delegate powers and duties under acts that the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations currently administers to designated non-profit administrative authorities. These acts govern public safety and specific industry functions currently administered by the ministry.

The administrative authorities will be not-for-profit corporations that are separate and distinct from government or any government agency. These corporations would each have a board of directors and a chief executive officer. The boards will include representation from such groups as industry, government, consumer groups and the general public to ensure a healthy balance of views prevails.

This bill also gives the government the power to appoint one or more board members up to a minority number. All board members, under corporate law, will have an obligation to fulfil the organization's public interest mandate.

The act will allow corporations such as I've described to be set up to assume responsibilities over the following groups: real estate brokers and salespeople; travel retailers and wholesalers; motor vehicle dealers and salespeople; and cemetery operators.

Once we have reached self-management agreements with these sectors, they will assume responsibility for such functions as registration and accreditation of industry members, investigations of consumer and business complaints, suspension or revocation of registrations, and prosecutions of violations. These functions are currently carried out by the business division of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.


While we would be moving away from direct provision of those functions, government would continue as the watchdog, maintaining its presence in the areas of setting of standards, defining policy and monitoring industry performance and conduct.

The second major provision in the act would allow for the creation of a safety organization to administer the regulation of technical standards. The program areas affected are boilers and pressure vessels, elevating and amusement devices, hydrocarbon fuels and equipment, and last but not least, upholstered and stuffed articles.

Service delivery functions currently carried out by the ministry's technical standards division will be delegated to the new organization. These include participation in national and international technical standards development; licensing, registration and certification of facilities, contractors and tradespeople; reviewing engineering designs; inspections; enforcement; and training programs.

As with the other self-managed industries I've described, the consumer ministry would continue to be responsible for overall public safety standards and policy, and for monitoring the performance of the new safety organization. I can assure you that the government's safety proposals will result in inspections by a credible and independent body which will be held accountable for enforcing government safety standards.

Let me make it clear that a number of accountability mechanisms have been built into the proposed legislation and the agreements. These mechanisms will ensure that the consumer ministry retains the means to address any concerns regarding an organization's performance or accountability. For instance, the organizations would be required to submit business plans and annual reports and undergo independent financial audits. The government will have the authority to revoke delegated functions should marketplace or public safety standards ever fall below an acceptable level. In other words, the safety and self-management organizations will be held accountable by the government for the performance of their delegated functions.

I'd like to close today with one final point: In addition to the safety organization and the industry self-management corporations being self-funded and not-for-profit, they will also be fully financed by fees collected from industry. That means they will receive no financial assistance from the Ontario government, which falls in line with this government's goal of reducing its spending while at the same time providing better, more efficient service to consumers. Because these organizations are non-profit, any surplus revenues must be reinvested into updating technologies, public education campaigns and other value added programs.

All of this means that we in government will be better able to focus on results rather than technical procedures and delivery mechanisms. This fits right into our mandate and our commitment to Ontarians to do better for less.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to congratulate the member for Durham Centre for giving an excellent summary of what this bill puts forward. This is another bill that honours our commitment to reduce red tape and to provide more effective services to the government.

There is no question that we believe that many of these industries -- in fact all of these industries -- can do the work better than government can. They can do it more economically; they can do it better. Real estate brokers have been asking for this, and I believe they will be tougher on themselves than the government bureaucracy has been in the past.

I'm sure all members of the House will be supporting this type of legislation. The emphasis of what the member said is that we're simply transferring responsibility for administering regulations from government to industry, but we will continue to be a watchdog of what is going on with these self-regulated industries and will be ensuring that the delegated responsibilities of the various industries will be fulfilled rather than delivering them to them directly.

The public has been asking for a reduction of government, of government interference. At the same time, the public is concerned that they be protected with respect to these various industries. This legislation will do all of that. I think the more important thing is that it's going to be done at less cost to the taxpayer, that the fees charged to the various industries will pay for these industries and won't simply be put out to the general cost of the taxpayer.

I urge all members to support this legislation. It's an excellent step to not only reduce the bureaucracy but provide a more efficient and better service to the people of Ontario.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This bill is another step towards the total emasculation of government in this province.

The government has had the role of playing watchdog on many of the situations that exist in our society, and what you're seeing now you're going to see a continuation of, that is, a decline in the number of inspections. You have people who are not going to be neutral doing the inspections in some of these cases. I know it extends on.

I was reading the other day how the Minister of Agriculture -- again in the field of protecting the consumer -- is now not going to do food inspections in terms of the pesticide content of the food. I'm sure a lot of farmers in the province are going to be beside themselves over this. When it is coming in from California, for instance now with the situation with the strawberries, I'm sure a lot of farmers out there will be saying, "Aren't we lucky we have inspections here," so the public feels assured, as they should be, that the food produced in Ontario is safe to consume. As soon as you start taking that away, as soon as you start deregulating all the way down the line, you'll find out that public safety and people's health are jeopardized.

The next thing you're going to hear is that restaurants will have fewer inspections taking place. Look what Great Britain went through with the meat inspections when it started to cut back on meat inspections and started to look the other way instead of being very detailed in the inspections taking place in terms of health. That's what this is all about. As soon as you start privatizing, as soon as you start diminishing the number of inspections, the watchdog role government plays, you're going to find out that public safety and public health are jeopardized.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? If not, the member for Durham Centre, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Flaherty: I listened with interest to the comments from the member for St Catharines, who clearly does not understand the difference between deregulation and self-management. This is self-management legislation in Bill 54. I can assure the member that the government's safety proposal will result in exactly that: inspections by a credible and independent body which will be held accountable for enforcing government safety standards.

What self-management is all about is the delegation of administration and delivery mechanisms, not the delegation of rule-making, not the delegation of safety standards. Those remain. The legislative power and the regulatory power remain with the government. The delivery mechanism is moved to the industry organizations. That's a fundamental difference between self-management and deregulation that I'm sure my friends opposite can concentrate on so that they will understand it.

Self-management is an alternative delivery system preserving public accountability. In self-management, I repeat for the edification of my friends, complete regulatory and legislative authority remains in the hands of the government. The government maintains control of public safety standards. This is fundamental to an understanding of this type of system. Indeed it is the type of system that the Liberal minister Mr Sorbara advocated when he was the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and that NDP ministers of consumer and commercial relations Ms Churley and Mr Kormos also advocated.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Mr Speaker, in the essence of time, I believe we have agreement that the member for York South and myself can split this time.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? Agreed.

Mr Crozier: I'm pleased to participate in this debate today. When the minister made his statement originally in the House about this bill, I said at that time that I see this as a move where the government is totally abdicating its responsibility in a number of areas. But not only have I said that, I think it's helpful from time to time to quote others. I see a June 8 editorial in the Ottawa Citizen, and I'll quote parts of that.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): There's a good paper.

Mr Crozier: The members across apparently indicate they don't like the Ottawa Citizen. I suggest that like the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail and the Windsor Star and the Leamington Post and News, they oft-times have reasonable comments to make. To suggest they're unreasonable would mean you don't like to hear both sides of the issue.

In any event, I quote several parts of that: "Take the roller-coaster ride, but not before you weigh the risks. Because like it or not, every ride on a roller-coaster or elevator in this province involves some risk. No amount of government intervention can change that."

They go on to say: "While consumer protection could have been strengthened by deliberate change, allowing the government to put more resources into selected areas while getting out of others, the Harris government's ideologically based broad-brush approach should put consumers on alert. Consumers are best served by a system that combines government protection, industry self-regulation and an ever-watchful public."

That last paragraph is difficult for the government to disagree with, because that's essentially what they say they are trying to do. But you know, when they say that, it reminds me of an oft-quoted United States public official -- this government seems to like to quote them often, so I'll do that today -- that is, a former President of the United States, who said, "Trust me." I think this is a case where the government is saying, "Trust me."

The people of the province did that last June, I will admit. They trusted the government because the government said, "We won't touch one penny of health care." Then we had the health minister come along and agree with $1.5 billion in cuts. The government last year said, "Trust me, we won't cut classroom education," and then they came along and, on an annualized basis, said, "We're going to take $1 billion out of education." They said, "Trust me, we're going to be tough on crime," and we can see what they've done to the police forces and the effect it will have on crime in the province of Ontario.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): You and Sheila Copps.

Mr Crozier: Obviously, I've touched a nerve over there.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Crozier: In this case they're saying to the consumers of the province when it comes to public safety and consumer protection, "Trust me." I agree with the editorial, that the consumers in the province of Ontario should be on alert.

There are several parts of this safety and consumer act that I would like to point out that are of concern to me, but first let me go the other way and at least give you credit for moving in a direction where I think it will be of some benefit.

The Cemeteries Act: I think that's an industry that can be self-regulatory, although even that has changed over the years. It used to be that cemeteries were locally owned, either by municipalities or people who lived in your community. Anyone who has been around lately would know that cemeteries are now being held by or owned by large international corporations. I suggest that some of the people who are going to answer to this act are probably again in that favourite place of this government -- the United States of America. I suggest that you're going to have to keep an eye very closely even on cemeteries, gentlemen and ladies, because that industry has changed considerably. We're not dealing with the local cemetery owner and operator like we do in Leamington, where you can go down the street -- if you have a problem with the person from whom you bought that cemetery plot, you probably know them on a first-name basis. So I suspect in fact that you probably won't have a problem. But watch out for the large international conglomerates that own cemeteries.

The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act: That industry is going to become more self-regulatory. I think we will all agree that by far the majority of automotive dealers in this province are honourable, forthright people who can be dealt with and you can be sure that you'll be dealt with fairly. So I think, provided that the rules and regulations are sufficient to allow them to also discipline those in their industry who are bad apples, that may be one that will work well.

The Real Estate and Business Brokers Act: Again I think, by and large, the real estate industry could be self-regulatory. For the most part -- at least I think most of us do when we deal in real estate -- we have a lawyer involved to act on our behalf. Notwithstanding the fact that the industry is now going to be more self-regulatory, I'd still suggest that individuals dealing in real estate have lawyers acting on their behalf.

The Upholstered and Stuffed Articles Act is going to become self-regulatory. I don't know whether that will still mean that I'm afraid to take the tag off the cushion, that little white tag they put on the cushion that says, "Do not remove." Until I got older and bolder, I had more pillows, I had more stuffed articles around the house that had this little white tag on them that said, "Do not remove." I hope that when they become self-regulated, they say, "You can remove the little tag after you've purchased it." Wouldn't that be better? I suggest that to them. How do you tell your children when they're growing up and you're trying to educate them properly that they can tear the tag off their teddy bear? That's difficult.

Mr Sampson: That's how you guys pick a leader. The first one to tear the tag off is the leader.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Mississauga West, order, please.

Mr Crozier: Now we get to the one I'm more concerned about, that being the Amusement Devices Act. As I quoted, anyone who rides an amusement ride from now on had better be more alert. This editorial states, "It is difficult to imagine how the safety of amusement rides, an area where serious accidents have occurred, could best be regulated by an industry-controlled organization." It says the government actually should keep that job and should hire more inspectors. That is the area, or one of them, that I'd like to dwell on a little bit today, the Amusement Devices Act.

I can't imagine getting on a ride at a local fair -- and by the way, it will be of some interest to the people in my own area when the Harrow fair is on this summer and there are amusement rides at it -- I think the public is going to have to become more concerned. As a matter of fact, I'm going to officiate at the opening of the Leamington fair this Friday, and it runs from 6 o'clock on Friday night through Sunday afternoon. I welcome anybody to come to the Leamington fair and I welcome them to attend the Comber fair when it's on, and as well the Harrow fair. But I hope that prior to those fairs this summer this act has not yet gone into effect, because I would be concerned about people riding on those rides.


The Boilers and Pressure Vessels Act: I'd like to share a little information with you. The ministry's technical standards division carried out the following number of inspections on pressure vessels in 1995-96: 109,000. Will the industry still feel that so many inspections should be carried out? Will we still be assured by that industry in its own regulation and through the privatization of inspectors that those vessels are safe? They're in schools; they're in office buildings; they're in hospitals. We have to be concerned about public safety in those areas, and I think there is a move to abdicate that responsibility.

This legislation will also affect the Gasoline Handling Act. I have an example in my own riding where an independent gasoline station owner, through no fault of his, bought a gas station, was involved in that partnership with a major oil company. The oil company can see the problems coming. The oil company has just decided to disfranchise itself from that business. It will still sell gasoline to the individual, but it won't be in partnership with him, because I think the oil industry in the province of Ontario can see tremendous problems coming with the way gasoline has been handled in the past. If it's been handled poorly in the past under government supervision, under direct government inspectors, what can we expect with the privatization of this in the future? I think that will be of great concern.

The Travel Industry Act: You can read in the paper practically every day where travellers are stranded in all parts of the world. Will this industry be better regulated on its own? I have grave concerns about that. Will we have travellers stranded here and there all around the world? I still have concerns about that. I can't see where there would be any great improvement when the industry itself is doing the regulation. I sincerely hope the final draft of the bill, or the final regulations that are introduced with this bill, will protect the public in that respect.

I will conclude my remarks. As I said, I wanted to draw to your attention and those in the Legislature the concerns that I have, the fact that I think this government, in the mad rush to cut red tape for business, is moving away from protecting the consumers in the province of Ontario not only in their day-to-day purchases as far as retail items are concerned, but in safety. This government talks about these new ways of doing business as being accountable, but I don't think there is anyone in the area of public safety who could be held more accountable than the elected government of the day. I am saddened that they're going to move away from that responsibility.

In conclusion, I'd just like to give you some reaction to this bill. In response to Bill 54, Marnie McCall of the Consumers' Association of Canada said, "If companies are supervising themselves without some government role" -- I take that to mean an active role -- "that goes too far." Bob Kerton, the association's spokesman on regulatory issues, said that the legislation "seems to have been designed behind consumers' backs." He also said: "There's a long history of industries trying to gain self-regulation, to get control over their own markets. It's called economic capture. It lets you keep out the foreigners, raise prices and lower standards." He is concerned that inspectors who are in part answerable to the industry they are inspecting might be less aggressive about insisting on repairs of minor defects or reporting minor incidents.

So, as I said partway through this -- read my lips -- I think that this is a move towards abdicating the government's responsibility in consumer protection and consumer safety.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to address the bill put before us today. The bill, it is important for members to appreciate, has a name: An Act to provide for the delegation of the administration of certain designated statutes to designated administrative authorities and to provide for certain limitation periods in those statutes.

That title reflects very accurately the bid on the part of this government to camouflage what it's actually doing with this bill today, that instead of it being a bill about administrative arrangement, this is a bill about a government that is redefining government to mean "an entity elected by people that then proceeds to avoid responsibility." This is a government that wants to dodge even the most essential requirements of what a government should be doing on behalf of the interests of the people. One of the questions I am sure that will be there four years from now about this government is, "What the heck happened to the public interest?" The public interest will be very hard to find, as it's been rented out to various interests across the province.

The image I think that people should have on this bill is not the convoluted title but rather their own experiences: when they go this summer to the Exhibition and go on to a riding device that should be governed by the government, and instead has been given away to some other entity; when they look at the buildings in which they live and work and think about the things that they don't normally, the boiler that's down in the basement, and wonder whether it's safe; when they make burial arrangements in instances of bereavement, whether those companies they deal with will be properly supervised. When they ride an elevator every day, they will see the material difference that this act brings. When they pump gasoline, when they buy a car or a house or take a trip, this bill will make a difference. It's to the discredit of this government that it couldn't find the time to talk to people in the public when it's affecting them in so many parts of their lives.

The minister said when he put this bill forward that this was about improvement, that this was about reducing red tape. I think it's very, very important that even in the simple manner in which this government is prepared to be accountable as it introduces this bill, people understand instead what it means. When they talk about red tape being taken away, at the moment the regulations are still there, the same regulations, so instead, this is about something different. This is about giving away the responsibility for protection of consumers to the very people whom consumers need to be protected from. What it really means is a government that has obviously submitted, because of its own lack of ideas, to the pressures from industry associations to give them what they want.

When it talks about cost control, whose cost is it controlling? Where is the information tabled by this government about how much is collected now in fees and how much is actually the cost in terms of the regulation enforcement currently being undertaken by the engineering and standards divisions and the business affairs division that are essentially being ripped away from government for no good purpose in the public interest? There has been no compelling reason stated by this government at any time for this bill to be put forward, not one single reason why we should do this, and the dollars involved, if there are any savings, and this government has studiously avoided stating what the savings are, then those will ultimately be passed on to the consumer in a way that won't be able to track back to government, and it's very important that we see that for what it is. That is simply a government taxing by another name and giving, in this case, industry the ability to tax and giving it the powers that really should belong to government. This government will learn that taxation without representation is a dangerous thing.

These entities that are being set up, these different groups that are being touted as non-profit organizations, that will have boards of directors and that will make sure that the public interest is looked after, are anything but. They're called "independent." There is no independence to this because the majority of their boards will be the people from the industries that are regulated. This is what the government has said.


The government completely abdicates, as my honourable colleague has said, its interests and the public interests in seeing that the safety and consumer protection of this province are looked after. It's extremely important that the majority goes to the industry. It's only a minority, a token number of members that can be put by this government, so the government is giving up on any semblance of government responsibility. The people who elected you didn't elect you for this kind of abdication.

People need to understand that what is happening in this legislation is another omnibus bill, but it's omnibus anti-consumer legislation. That kind of loss of public interest is happening only because this government has no idea, no conception at all about how to fix government. I think people are starting to catch on out there that this is the theme of this government. It doesn't know how to fix government, it doesn't know what government is for, and people are starting to realize after 12 months, maybe there was only a comic-book revolution. Maybe there were no plans at all for this government to deal with the issues of the day.

When it starts giving away the responsibility for elevating devices, for real estate, when it starts giving government interest and the public interest away to used car salesmen, if that's what it really wants to seen as government, it's going to be shown for that.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What's wrong with used-car salesmen?

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke West, there is a time allotted for questions and comments.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It's been a while, Mr Speaker. Out he goes.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, order.

Mr Kennedy: It's my pleasure to see that there's some reaction from the opposite side, because so far there has been no reaction from the government to the interests of general people out there and there needs to be. This government thinks it's been elected to be impervious to any kind of input, but there's a clear danger involved. The danger, even in the small bits of information this government has put out, has been identified, because this government talks about only maintaining consumer protection.

The average person out there knows what's happening with business: more and more concentration. As my honourable colleague mentioned in the interests of cemetery companies, there is more and more concentration taking place -- the exact reason why there should be a role in the interest of fairness, in the interest of the ability of individuals to still count in this society on the part of government. That role, rather than giving up, because that's what this government is doing today -- it is announcing that it is giving up --


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, you're disturbing the House. You really are. Order.

Mr Kennedy: I know it is difficult for the members on the opposite side to appreciate and understand when we say things about this legislation, because this legislation is obviously not the product of a lot of consideration by the other side. It is simply a knee-jerk reaction to pressure they've received from different types of industries that different governments, including their own in the past, have resisted for some time because it was not in the public interest.

If we look at the list of things that might be accomplished by any effort to reform consumer legislation, we notice a couple of conspicuous absences. We look at a goal to maximize public input and control regulated activity, we look at increasing the level of competence of suppliers -- these are things that would be taken away in this bill, that will be subtracted -- and we look at where those goals came from. Those goals were from previous Conservative administrations that said this is what they wanted to do with deregulation, what they would ensure, and to the shame of this government it's nowhere in what's being brought forward today. Consumers have been sold out for some very narrow interests in society.

I think when this government continually defines the public interests of taxpayers, they'll start to find out that while there are many taxpayers they need to listen to out there, there are more consumers, and that everybody, when they're out there in the marketplace, expects it to be maintained in a fair and effective fashion. Instead, we have this government giving up on objectives that its previous incarnations had. I think it's important that the distinction be drawn because the public out there needs to understand and appreciate that this is a different government, that this is a government that has no real frame of reference for looking after the interests of consumers.

When Mr Grossman said in 1978 that he was looking for quality and not quantity, meaningful deregulation and not cheap tricks, he probably would have had the same thing to say, calling this a cheap trick today, because that is what it is on the part of consumers. They are not in a position to be protected with the legislation that's being brought forward.

Instead of making a complaint to government, being able to make a complaint to an uninterested third party, to one that can look after and adjudicate both for the interests of consumers and for business, we have new entities created that are majority controlled by the business. It's a clear skewing of the public interest over to the side of the narrow interest. This government, which would like to believe it has some sense of what the public wants in mind, is going to realize that kind of balance won't be appreciated in the weeks and months ahead.

If we look at what will happen in terms of limited consumer protection, the theoretical power that exists now will simply not be fulfilled. This is a compromise in every instance where consumers will go to utilize the things that used to be covered under this act. It's particularly bothersome to think that those people who are out there in the real estate market, those people who need to be able to buy a car or a house or take a trip are now really going to be subject to what's happening in the industry.

If the industry is ailing, then there's going to be an increasing amount of pressure to reduce fees, to reduce the onus of whatever regulation exists. In the future, that's exactly what we will see taking place in the interests of consumers. There is no way for the consumers' interests to be enforced. They will have only token representation on the boards which make up these administrative entities and instead will find that their concerns have been completely removed.

When we look at the much more serious instance in the sense of short-term effect on public safety, there's even greater cause for concern, because Safety Ontario or the organization that might be created from this is going to be harmonized with international regulations. We don't know, and the releases from the ministry are very careful not to say, whether that harmonization means lowering regulations. Is that what it means? This government should tell us if it's planning to lower regulations through these devices, because there is a basic concept here of accountability, of responsibility taking, that will go missing.

When we look at boilers, when we look at elevators, when we look at the types of things that are covered by this safety organization, and gasoline, operating engineers, which are a functioning part of all kinds of activities in society, then we recognize that there is no way the public's safety interests can be maintained when the government has given away all its staff, when it has given away all its ability to function there.

We hear the assurances from the government that it will still be a watchdog. It will be a very toothless watchdog tied up somewhere in the back of the pound that will be left over when this kind of stripping of ministry takes place, because there is no assurance from the government on how this will operate. The types of means for accountability that have been mentioned, such as they are, are things like annual reports, business plans; in other words, paperwork is the only means by which this government will exercise the very important safety and consumer interests of society.

This government, which pretends to be a friend of the marketplace, is instead going to start, with this bill, to create such a well-spring of distrust among consumers that it's going to find itself harming the marketplace, because there is no theory on the marketplace that doesn't talk about the free exchange of information around the goods that are in that marketplace. Instead, what we're going to have are these arm's-length mechanisms that will act as a buffer between the government and the interests of consumers and society.

Those businesses that are today being enticed in, in their short-term interest, to look after some of these problematic parts of social interaction are going to find they've been deluded by this government, because consumer protection now has been handed over to them, and that expectation, while it would be compromised in the short term, can't be given away to industry. They will find it a very hot potato indeed after time.

The concern from this side has to do with how much damage will be done in the meantime; that we will see, indeed, consumer protection compromised in very serious ways. If you talk to the Automobile Protection Association, if you talk to the Consumers' Association of Canada, none of whom were talked to by this government -- I think that the public out there has every right to believe that there will be some effort made on the part of this government, especially after its recent experiences with things like the omnibus bill, that it might have learned its lesson of arrogance, but it hasn't. It refuses to talk to the people who might help it do a better job of running the government. These organizations have not been consulted with.

There hasn't been any basis by which the public interest can trickle through. We understand that the concept of trickling through and trickling down is very important to the opposite side, but in this case it's been a lockout of the public interest. I think it's very, very important that the public will come to understand that; that their interests have been given away.

When we look at what happens in the marketplace, rather than improving the marketplace, we've set up an inevitable kind of structure that will go towards softer competition. We will see less ability and less function on the part of the marketplace because the larger players will have a larger say, and there will be more and more tilting of that marketplace towards one which will not only not benefit the consumer but will be prohibitive in its points of entry to smaller and more entrepreneurial businesses. We'll find that happening. It's a prediction we're able to make today because it's happened in other areas of deregulation.


This government, as has been its wont, calls this something else, calls it self-management when it's actually deregulation. Over time, the regulations will change. They will change because the only entities that will be in a position to offer advice to the government will be these administrative bodies set up by the government, these industry places, these points of contact that the government will no longer have. Just as this side opposite is in its day-to-day activity, it is much more interested in talking to those vested interests in society than the average person on the street.

Today, at least, the average person can pick up the phone and connect with a government that's willing to take some responsibility. You're going to take that away. The only people your ministry will be listening to in future are these very entities that have been set up. There will be a skewing of advice, a funnelling of advice through these organizations, and bit by bit they will, by the nature of what they are -- there is no pretence on this side of the House that the entities involved here are evil or need any kind of extra control by the government, but some basic control needs to be there for the security of the marketplace. Instead, what is being set up is an imbalanced and ill-thought-out set of deregulation. That will have an effect on the marketplace as much as it will on consumers. It will take away a tremendous amount of confidence on the part of consumers and will create animosity in the marketplace that doesn't need to exist.

When we look at the kind of standards this government is prepared to give away, when we think of the amusement devices that have had accidents in the past, where a coroner's jury has actually recommended that we need more inspection of amusement devices, where there have been problems in the past -- we would perhaps show something this government may wish to know, a headline of 1974 when it brought in regulations. The most important point, which this government is prone to forget, is that all these regulations exist for the reason that self-regulation or self-management or no regulation had failed in the past. Piece by piece, in the travel industry, in real estate, these were brought about for a particular reason of the public interest.

Unfortunately, when this government side was elected -- it couldn't find the public interest if it tripped over it. It has no interest in making sure the public is protected. Instead of looking at, "How can we improve on the way the government functions in a way to be more cost-effective; how can we make sure the consumer is protected?" -- when you look at a ministry called "consumer and commercial relations," which I'm sure will instead be called, shortly after this bill is enacted, "corporate relations," you really have to appreciate what direction this government is headed in.

When it had options, when it had choices about what it should do -- there is a tremendous body of evidence out there that in this information age, we could be doing a better job for consumers. We don't need to be flying away from it, as government or as people charged with the public interest. Each of us elected is responsible to the people in our constituency to make sure that in responsible and reasonable ways the government is able to look after their interests. This government has sublet that, has rented it out, in effect is giving it away, because the government will have no effective means, at least not one it's prepared to explain today as it puts forward this legislation, of ensuring that the public interest can be looked after; that annual reports and business plans and means and devices that have not been stipulated here today will be satisfactory.

This idea that somehow because it's done by government it has to be wrong is something this government -- and I see a number of members opposite nodding their heads. People, when they sit down to ride those amusement devices at the Ex and are given this extra concern about what's happening, will remember that that was the reaction of the people opposite, that they will be worried about what's happening simply because the members of the opposite side could not take the time to look after the consumer interest.

When we look at the kind of things being set up, these non-profit corporations which will somehow look after and somehow maintain the interests of government, we recognize that it will be an abject failure. While there are a few successful entities, you look all across Canada and only in Alberta and only in the interests of pressure devices do you see another government that's doing this.

This government, rather than take an appropriate and responsible form of action, has decided to do this in an omnibus way, which we have to suggest from this side occurs for one reason only: Just as there's a convoluted title to this piece of legislation, so is there a convoluted piece of reasoning, and the piece of reasoning is simply to throw as much stuff at the public as possible, as quickly as possible, before it realizes what is happening. Of course, the opposite side has been responsible for so much of the alienation of government, has made that their election platform, has gone after all the flaws in society, all the exploitation it can do of the kinds of things that have people worried and concerned today, and this is a very consistent fit with that.

We see this government unable and unwilling to be accountable. It comes down to a fundamental definition of what the government should exist for. This accountability is not being strengthened at a time when it could be, because this is a time in society when there has been a concentration in business, when there have been changes taking place. We're subjecting ourselves to international forces. That's the exact time this government will learn, the exact time the consumers want to see some additional protection.

They would like to know, honourable members, that you on the opposite side have their interests at heart. They would like to know that you appreciate where they're coming from as individuals who have to be out there in the marketplace on their own. You will understand perhaps, after time and after the kind of complaints that will come forward, the kind of unfortunate accidents that may come forward if this legislation is not changed, and we certainly stand here today to encourage the government to forestall those kinds of occurrences. There will be a time when the public will understand that you do not have their interests at heart and, more important than that, that you have not tried as a government, with all of the resources at your disposal, to do that: that you have not consulted with consumer groups, that you have not given the individuals a chance in each of these areas. Rather, you have strung it together as an omnibus bill in order to hide some of the impact it's going to have on consumers in each of those ways. I think you should have learned with Bill 26 that that's not something the public appreciates. The sting of that kind of arrogance will sit around for a long time.

The measures by this government have fit a consistent and predictable pattern. Every time, in the short time I've sat in this House, that anything, whether it has to do with the Solicitor General or workfare or any other measure, is brought up in this House, the reference is made only to previous governments. This government is unwilling to stand on the merits of its own legislation. It doesn't have an ability to connect with the basic wellbeing of people out there. Twelve months have passed, and I appreciate that while many of you were on the streets of York South, you may not have had such a recent opportunity to see what some of your putative constituents would have to say about measures like this.

People want more effective government. More effective government does not mean destroying government or taking it away piece by piece.

In taking away the engineering and standards division, you're leaving it up to industry to decide how many engineers there should be, how many people there should be who have technical skills. What will industry do as a natural course of its ability to maximize its own ability to function? It will find itself in conflict. You put the industry in a conflict-of-interest position as it tries to look at those kinds of technical matters objectively when at the very same time you've put the onus on it to pay for the implementation of those measures. As it tries to pay for those measures, looking at the kind of business prospects that exist for its members, and then respond to what the technical requirements are, it will find itself in an invidious position.

For those of you who think somehow there's some magic behind the non-profit organization, as someone who ran a non-profit organization at the food bank, I understand full well that it's quite possible for a non-profit organization, despite its best interest, to still fall short of its mandate, and seriously short. For those of you on the opposite side who don't know what I'm talking about, it's the 54% increase in people using food banks over the last year and the almost doubling in the numbers of adults and doubling in the numbers of children who still go without food despite the existence of food banks. That's the kind of situation we're talking about today, which is no ability at all on the part of the people on the side of the government to see how to make these things work. There is no magic on the part of non-profit organizations. They cannot look after the public interest for you.

So just as you remain responsible, but not taking responsibility, for hungry children in this province, you will remain responsible for these measures that you're proposing to give away to industry today. But just as you refuse to take responsibility for hungry children, you will not take responsibility for these measures in the future. I think that's something for the public to keep very much in mind, that there are no provisions built into this act, none that you're prepared to talk about today, that would make sure the government has an ability to look after these entities in a way that would make sure they do meet some standards. The regulations that exist will become paper tigers. This will be the kind of future that we would foresee for many of these groups.

We know that there are very many honourable industry associations out there. There are many honourable members in the association that would like to have input. But I am sure that very shortly after these are implemented, people involved in the industry associations, those operating businesses in these different places that are going to be deregulated, will appreciate themselves what kind of ugly fit this will be. This will be a responsibility that should be borne by elected officials, being put on to them. That point of conflict that you're setting up for them is a point of conflict where the public interest cannot be served.

This government, I think, if it does not appreciate that, should withdraw this bill. If this government does appreciate that, then I think we have instead a very strong message for the public out there, given the different choices it's had over the past 12 months, the conflicting kind of demands on government, whether to try and make government work better, to try and find ways to make it be more cost-effective, to try and find ways to meet the general interests of society.


Instead, this is a government prone to anybody else's ideas, and in this case, some of the industry associations that would like to have some more of the powers, but not the concrete ideas served by previous governments, including a Conservative administration I cited before, that there has to be a public interest that is maintained by this government. That is something I think that the public out there will want to know when they look at this omnibus anti-consumer legislation and appreciate that their lives are going to change and are going to be diminished in an appreciable way as these powers are given away to industry and put into a very unhealthy situation.

These non-profit organizations will not have the resources to do the job, and if you look at the specific provisions of the legislation, they're taking out the provision that says that the government will fund the regulation of some of these industries. So if these industry associations fail, if they're unable to do their job, it will take a significant period of time before any government reintervention occurs. The interests of consumers will have a time lag of months and years before any future government can provide for their wellbeing.

I think it's very telling that the time for prosecutions has been lengthened, because out of the very few indications this government is prepared about as it introduces and gives the legislative substance to this bill on how it really sees it working, I think we have to go on those indications, that we'll be harmonized with international regulations. We're not told whether those regulations will be superior or inferior to the ones that we have at work in Ontario today. I'd invite the opposite side to clarify that. We're not being told whether or not the entities that are created will be able to increase fees unreservedly and whether those fees will be passed on to the consumer, because essentially that's the situation that's being set up today.

In each of these instances, they go completely against the kind of objectives the government has been willing to talk about when it talks about reducing red tape, when it talks about cost control. The only cost control that can conceivably take place is to some limited degree on the government side. On the public side, in the public interest, there could be, and you've left yourself wide open for, a tremendous increase in costs. The hidden taxes that this reflects are added on to the hundreds of individual hidden taxes that you've already submitted the people of Ontario to. It will not be independent. It simply will not have an independent basis which we can -- those of us on this side or those of the public out there as consumers -- put our trust into.

They will see that where there used to be a government, albeit a government that has yet to show its capacity to listen or even its capacity to govern for all of the province, instead it's a group that is governed by a majority established by the very industries, the real estate industry, the motor vehicle industry, in each case run by themselves. This is something that people out there I think don't appreciate because the government has, as is its wont, not made it clear that this is a wholesale change in what people can expect as they interact in the marketplace.

There are people out there on the opposite side who talk about their concern for people, and when they talk about their concern for people, there's only one message that we can put back: that instead there needs to be a concern expressed in your actions. You can either talk about, whether it be hungry children -- you can't substitute a $1-million breakfast program when you've taken $400 million away from the ability of their parents to feed them. And you can't talk about concern for --


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Kennedy: Thank you, Mr Speaker. As we have regard in this bill, we want to be as much value as we can to the opposite side. We want to make sure that the opposite side, in the limited consideration it's obviously had time to give, will find in some of the remarks that we made something helpful. So we would encourage them in their deliberation to ensure that they do consult with consumer groups, that they do look at a definition of the public interest that has for it the greatest good of the greatest number. There needs to be a concern not only for the impact that it will have in terms of the individuals, because that's been a hard message for this government to accept, but rather that they understand that they will damage the marketplace, they will create some dysfunction in society, and you on the government side have a chance to change that.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? The member for Etobicoke West, you now have the floor.

Mr Stockwell: It's not often you can get up and hear a Liberal saying what the member just said, but the basic thrust of his argument is, "You fundamentally don't care about consumers; you don't care about a huge majority of Ontarians," whom he claims to represent, and that we, the government, have it in our minds to simply punish them for being Ontarians and punish them because they don't happen to be, I suppose, as fortunate as others.

Let's be clear about this. On the few items he cited when he spoke about this, he didn't know what he was talking about. The amusement park act with respect to the CNE: Do you know, the member for York South, who inspects those amusement devices at the CNE? Do you have any idea who inspects them? The city of Toronto's inspectors inspect those amusement devices. They will continue to inspect them for their safety. So leaving the impression for the general public out there that somehow you step on a ride at the CNE this summer and you don't know if this baby's going to fly off into the ozone layer is certainly irresponsible.

Secondly, with respect to your particular talk about elevating devices, that now you don't know if the elevator cable is going to snap while you're in the middle of heading downwards, well, how many elevators did they inspect under the previous administration or this one? They don't get to nearly enough. They don't get to anywhere near a significant percentage of them. Ask the ex-minister, Mr Kormos, who spent the 10 months he was in cabinet --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Ten months. You are so generous.

Mr Stockwell: Six months? He spent six months; all he did was sign elevating licences. That was it; six months signing those babies. He didn't inspect any elevating devices.

Let's be clear. The public, when we ran, said government was too intrusive; it was continually in your face. You've got to allow some discretion in the private sector. A lot of these pieces of legislation have been built up year over year. Responsible governments have to take a long, hard look at these onerous, red-tape-oriented tasks. If you're going to talk about them, I suggest, member for York South, at least get it straight.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I'm pleased to comment on the opening remarks given by the members for Essex South and York South. The government is in a great mood to cut and reduce red tape, and certainly the business community would side with that. Of course, this bill talks about self-regulation and we have to look at the confidence of the consumer in that situation. The safety of people is paramount and the perception that safety exists is also one that consumers are interested in. When one is developing its own regulations and paying for its own development and production of those regulations, it does make one wonder whether it's going to be fair, if it's truly honest.

These regulations are required not for the business people who are running an operation that everyone enjoys, that everyone wishes to take part in. Amusement park rides are one example. Those credible and hardworking people who want to make sure their businesses are used by the consuming public will always be on the right side of the regulatory question. However, there are from time to time those who are cutting corners, who may choose to do that, who may choose not to look once a day at the lines to make sure everything is running properly, and that's where these regulations were brought in in the first place. It was not to deal with the very many credible businesses and operators who are brought in under this bill, but those who try to cut corners and are maybe not the most honest in society.

I commend the members for Essex South and York South for bringing up these points.

Mr Kormos: I'm pleased to respond to the member for York South. Of course, I'm going to speak to this shortly and there's a whole lot I'm going to say about the Liberal history, record, of consumer protection, or rather the lack of it, but one can't help but respond to the member for York South by recognizing the comments of Mr Stockwell, the member for Etobicoke West, he having credited me with 10 months in the ministry. I beg to differ. It was some six months. But let me tell you, had it been 10 months, damn it, we'd have public auto insurance in this province right now and we wouldn't have had to deal with the abomination this government is imposing on us by way of another abortive attempt at trying to reform auto insurance.


To suggest that somehow, as the member for York South in his commentary suggested, this government has little concern or compassion for the welfare of people in Ontario is entirely correct. I think that's very much what the member for York South was saying; I have no hesitation in interpreting his comments in that regard. That's very much the impression that folks down where I come from have, that this government has little concern about the welfare and the wellbeing of the little people -- the retirees, the working people, their children, their retired parents, pensioners. This government could give a tinker's dam about the welfare of consumers. Its abdication of its responsibility in terms of consumer protection and in some very specific ways the regulation of these very specific industries confirms very much that this government could care less. This government's interested in the big guys, the rich getting richer, and it's prepared to let the poor get poorer in the process.

Mr Tilson: A few comments with respect to the remarks made by the member for Essex South and the member for York South: I listened to the members speak on their various concerns with this bill, and the way they speak it's as if this has never happened, this is something brand-new. There's no question it's been going on. Almost all of the health professions in the province of Ontario self-regulate. The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates the legal profession in this province.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Yes, we know that. That's why we are worried. Get out the hook. Bad argument to use.

Mr Tilson: Well, it's been working quite satisfactorily for a number of years. Real estate agents are self-managed in five other provinces. Travel agents and wholesalers have been self-governing in British Columbia. This proposed legislation is based upon a similar organization in Alberta. The members should be aware this isn't something new. This has worked successfully in other provinces and we believe it's going to work successfully here.

The problem with the members is that they don't seem to get it. What they and the predecessor NDP government were saying is that they want to be all things to all people -- that old expression. It certainly applies to the Liberal regime and the NDP regime. That's the problem. The people of the province spoke. They don't want all the government you're offering, particularly the member from York South. He listed all the things the government should be doing. Well, the people of this province don't want to do all these things, and the fact of the matter is that the system we're proposing is working in other provinces and other jurisdictions and is certainly going to work in this area.

One of the reasons I'm responding to this is, number one, it can be done more efficiently. Remember what your governments have done. Because of all of these things, the debt in this province has increased to over $100 billion by now. Remember that when you're advocating more bureaucracy. More bureaucracy is not the answer.

The Acting Speaker: The member for York South, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Kennedy: It's my pleasure to respond to the very uncertain responses from the other side. The very basic idea of consumer protection was not addressed. On the idea of Conservatives saying, "We too have a heart. We too have concern," I believe all of you have a heart, all of you are concerned, but when it comes to making legislation that is fair and balanced, your agenda has been defective and you're showing that time and time again. It is important. While you as individuals may have that capacity -- and I exhort you to exercise it at every opportunity, because the public is beginning to wonder. But I don't wonder; I know that capacity is there. But instead when we look at and when people talk about cost saving and so on --

Mr Stockwell: If your agenda had worked, you would have been out of work.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, you had your turn.

Mr Kennedy: -- to the people who are in those elevating devices and the people who are out there, they will want to know what these arrangements are; even for the sake of convenience for the travel industry and the real estate industry. People will want to know where this government will stand, and the government will be hiding under a large pile of other committees it has set up. Rather than be effective, it's decided to do it that way.

The citations made for some of the self-management that exists before the kind of exact, precise responses that are needed here, the kind of engineers we need to sustain safety, the kinds of extra technical things we require, that is a cost and, I would submit to you, a necessary cost of a society that works on behalf of the interests of all of its members. I would exhort the other side to look again, not only to see whether they care or whether they have concern, but the bigger test is to find a way to make their concern and compassion work in government. That's not an easy task. What I suggested earlier today, I would like to reiterate, because I've heard nothing in the responses to date to change that: This government has decided to not even try, to not even try to find a way to make that work in the interests of everyone in society. I would encourage you not to give up.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kormos: I want to apologize for not having been here earlier today for question period, but I had some commitments, some obligations. I did make sure I was here in time for the vote on Bill 31, because I thought it was important that I register that. In the course of that, Speaker, I'm advised, with thanks -- I'm seeking consent to share the leadoff time with Mr Bisson from Cochrane South. I trust I've found consent?

Interjections: Agreed.

Mr Kormos: It's been agreed that I share that.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed?

Mr Kormos: As I say, I couldn't be here for question period, but I did feel it was important to be here for the vote on Bill 31, the College of Teachers proposal by this government, and I'm pleased I --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. What did you propose for the House to agree to?

Mr Kormos: Speaker, that the leadoff time, this 90 minutes, which of course is the only time any member can speak for more than 30 as a result of rule changes, be shared with my colleague from Cochrane South, Mr Bisson.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? Agreed.

Mr Kormos: In any event, here we are. I was glad to be here to be able to vote against Bill 31. I thought it was important that I register my opposition to that. Notwithstanding that I was compelled to miss question period, there was no way I would have missed that vote. Similarly, there's no way I would have missed the opportunity to speak to Bill 54.

I've got to tell you, I've known Mr Flaherty, the parliamentary assistant, for a good chunk of time. As a matter of fact, I've known him as a person who in an earlier life was very much an advocate for consumers here in the province of Ontario. He was involved in the fight for victims' rights in the course of the Bill 68 debate when the Liberals imposed no-fault auto insurance here in the province. That's why I find it rather peculiar. I appreciate that he's the parliamentary assistant and that means he's got to do what he's got to do if he's going to continue to collect the salary that parliamentary assistants make above and beyond their base pay -- in addition to the extra staff one gets as a parliamentary assistant, of course, which means those staff can devote their time to a whole pile of things, including riding work. I appreciate that the parliamentary assistant, Mr Flaherty, is compelled to speak to these matters.

Quite frankly, here we are with Bill 54 and we know it's going to pass. Is there any question about it? We know it's going to pass. It's virtually a given. The Tory caucus has been whipped into shape. Also, there will be a succession. They're lined up, anticipating any number of cabinet shuffles, cabinet moves, departures from cabinet, vacancies, and of course not a single member of the Tory caucus is about to miss the chance to find herself or himself in line for the car, the driver, the plush carpet, the expensive upholstery and the corporate credit card, an American Express credit card, as I understand it, that the ministry provides.

A whole lot of folks might think this is in itself a somewhat innocuous proposition. But let me tell you where I was on Saturday. I was down in Hamilton, canvassing door to door the good people of Hamilton. I was down there in Hamilton campaigning for the best candidate in that race, Wayne Marston, running for the New Democrats down in Hamilton, who I tell you is picking up support in a way nobody ever expected, while Ms Copps, who lied --

Mr Sampson: She didn't.

Mr Kormos: Well, she did. She lied. Of course I can't say that, because it might be unparliamentary. Let me tell you what did happen: Ms Copps, when she was campaigning in the last federal election, told the people of Hamilton that if she was elected she was committed to scrapping the GST.

Interjection: No.

Mr Kormos: She did.

Mr Sampson: She didn't mean that, though.


Mr Kormos: Well, I'm getting to the sort of comments folks were making to me about the subject matter of Bill 54 when I was down in Hamilton on the weekend campaigning against Ms Copps who promised her constituents that if she were elected she'd scrap it. That's what I'm told she said. Now, I didn't hear her say it personally, but then again I'm from Welland-Thorold.

Now this Ms Copps becomes, among other things, the Deputy Prime Minister -- talk about being tight; like this, inner circle -- as well as a representative -- quite right, because we're talking about consumers and the protection of consumers, and we're also talking about stuffed articles. That leads one to think of Ms Copps, irresistibly.

My friend over here was talking about the process of ripping off the tag on the stuffed articles, the one that says, "Thou shalt not," and I got to confess I was fascinated by those as a kid myself. Where I came from, we didn't have a whole lot of stuffed articles because we weren't --

Mr Sampson: That was pretty exciting.

Mr Kormos: Well, there you go. We were in Welland-Thorold. But with respect to Ms Copps, what happened is the stuffing is starting to come out.

The Acting Speaker: I've been very patient. It's Bill 54 that you have to debate on. I hope that you will debate Bill 54. Thank you.

Mr Kormos: Thank you. I appreciate the direction, Speaker, and of course we have to speak to Bill 54. I know people are watching this right now across the province, including down there in Hamilton where there's --

Mr Sampson: Where they happen to be voting.

Mr Kormos: Well, folks are watching this right now, Speaker. This debate upon Bill 54 is being heard and observed by people across the province, in North Bay, in Sault Ste Marie, in Sudbury, in Welland-Thorold, and in Hamilton where there's a by-election today and where people are having a chance to vote either for the GST or against it.

Speaking to Bill 54, let's take a look at some of the industries we're talking about. I appreciate what Mr Flaherty had to say about the fact that when Ms Churley was a minister in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and, yes, in the very brief period of time that I was a minister in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, there was discussion about co-regulation with the Ontario Real Estate Association, OREA. What was being done, as I recall it -- because it was some time ago now, but I remember the discussions and the eagerness of the industries to participate -- in this case, the real estate industry -- it was a meticulous and thoughtful process that was being embarked on.

Mind you, as I say, it's easy for me to remember it because it was such a concise, abbreviated period of my life. But the fact remains that the models that were being considered were meticulous and well-thought-out models and certainly ones where there was a consideration. You have to look at the raison d'être. I mean, why regulate these industries at all?

One's impressed with the fact that the government is still prepared to pay lip-service to the concept of some sort of regulation, if in fact it's regulation at all, because that remains very much to be seen, because what we're passing here is an enabling bill. The member for York South did make reference to Bill 26 more than a couple of times, referring to the omnibus bill, and the fact that the evil was not so much what was inherent in the script -- oh, Speaker, must you go?

I welcome the new Speaker, and simply want to advise him that there had been consent to sharing the 90 minutes of leadoff time between me and my colleague the member for Cochrane South, Gilles Bisson. Speaker, you're not being briefed about some of the earlier parts of my comments; I certainly hope not. I thought one started with a fresh slate when a new Speaker came into the chamber, sort of again a tabula rasa, one was sort of restored to the batter's position so you could start out all over again. In any event we have to take a look at what we're regulating here, and why. Why would one want to regulate the travel industry? Why would one want to regulate the car sales industry? Or the real estate industry?

I appreciate there's a whole lot of good folks out there, and Tory members are going to stand up. Why, Mr Stockwell stood up in his rant and talked about the suggestion that somehow these industries were being maligned by members of the opposition. Needless to say, I'm not going to be voting for Bill 54, because it's simply bad legislation. It hasn't been well-thought-out, it hasn't been well-prepared, and it certainly hasn't at the end of the day been the result of a consultation, not just with the industry, because I suspect Mr Flaherty or the minister could stand up and say, "Oh, yes, we met with this aspect of the industry and with another aspect of the industry," but look at the primary motive for regulation. It's not for the industry's sake, it's for the consumer's sake. The consumers weren't consulted.

The people of Hamilton are being consulted today on whether they want to vote for the GST or against it. If they're going to vote against the GST, they're going to vote for Wayne Marston, the New Democratic Party candidate. If they want to vote for the GST, they can vote for Ms Copps. But it remains that folks weren't consulted during the course of the preparation of Bill 54.

My concern is, this being enabling and a whole lot of regulation is going to flow from this -- look, I understand previous governments did things that way too, that that's the way they did business. Heck, the last government did, the government before that did, and it was no more acceptable then than it is now, that you run pieces of legislation like this, which in themselves are but skeletons to be fleshed out in the secrecy of the back room and passed by way of regulations which never hit the floor of the House, which never undergo debate or scrutiny -- undergo some regard in a regulations committee which is sort of the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to being appointed to committees, but don't receive any public scrutiny.

The fact is, there's a whole lot of good real estate agents out there -- I know some of them -- no two ways about it. Helen Brown Real Estate down in Welland is not the only one, but an outstanding brokerage who services her clients well and is as trustworthy as they come. She and a whole lot of other real estate agents and brokers in the Welland community have that reputation, well-earned, well-deserved.

Motor vehicle dealers: Heck, there is a whole pile of motor vehicle dealers down in Welland-Thorold I've had personal experience with, have bought, over the course of the last 25 years or so, one or two vehicles, and again as trustworthy as they come. Travel agents, once again, needless to say. But understand that these people among other things are dealing with the largest single purchases consumers make in their lifetimes. Obviously, the first largest purchase is a home and in the case of most people, if they're blessed with a job -- decreasingly so because of this government and its failure to provide the jobs it promised during the course of its election campaign. This government promised 725,000 new jobs. Where are they? Here we are a year into it.

Look what happened to Ms Copps when she broke her promise down in Hamilton. When she promised to scrap the GST and then did exactly the opposite, she found herself battling to preserve her political career, and found Wayne Marston down in Hamilton nipping at her heels, ready, and folks down there are going to teach Ms Copps a lesson by voting for Wayne Marston because he's the candidate for whom people are going to be voting if they're going to teach politicians like Ms Copps a lesson about saying one thing in an election campaign and keeping their word.

We've got industries here that consumers entrust themselves to, that consumers rely on to be dealt with in a fair and conscionable and trustworthy manner. We also have industries here which hold large amounts of moneys in trust. Mr Flaherty is a lawyer, and I don't hold it against him, and practising the type of law that I believe he practised, if I recall, understands the role of trust involved, for instance, in the case of the real estate industry. There's a high level of integrity that's demanded from actors in that industry, from participants in that industry, just as there is or certainly should be in the motor vehicle industry and in the travel agency industry. These are people upon whom consumers, regular folks, rely for some lifetime decisions or assistance in the course of making those lifetime decisions.


Why, there was a suggestion that of course the law society is self-regulatory. Mr Flaherty knows full well that the law society, notwithstanding that it's self-regulatory, still has to deal with a whole lot of occasions wherein lawyers end up pocketing the money or misappropriating it or sending it to places where it doesn't belong. Notwithstanding that they're lawyers and that they're licensed and that they're ticketed, the public still requires levels of protection from even that profession.

We're also looking here at a course of privatization, very much a part of the agenda of this government. Don't forget, it's the Tory government that wants to privatize the Liquor Control Board of Ontario: publicly owned, a public asset that made profits for Ontarians last year of $630 million. This year, the profits that are going to be made by the publicly owned -- you know I'm an advocate of public ownership, Speaker. The profits that are going to be made by the publicly owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario are going to be in excess of last year, they're going to be up around $680 million, and this government wants to privatize it. To what end?

This government is in its confiscation mode. It's confiscating things that belong to the people of Ontario and divesting them to the detriment of the people of Ontario, when in fact this government, as it should have when it was examining automobile insurance, should have been looking to expand public ownership here in this province by virtue of developing a public auto insurance system. Again, I indicated clearly that I'd be more than pleased to assist this government in building public auto insurance, as I think every member of this New Democratic Party caucus was, recognizing that public ownership of that is important.

The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, by virtue of basically abdicating -- this is an abdication. It's saying: "Be gone with you. Real estate industry, you guys take care of it yourselves. You regulate and police yourselves." It's no longer a ministry of consumer relations and it's barely a ministry of commercial relations, because we're witnessing the abdication of responsibility for a whole pile of things. We're going to see increased privatization, I am convinced, of land registration, of commercial registration, all those things of consumer interests being protected, but abandoned by this government, abdicated. The government has no interest in it.

Here we are, travel agents, real estate agents, motor vehicle dealers, basically the supervision of them being privatized -- not just being privatized, but being put into their own hands. It's the syndrome of putting Colonel Sanders in charge of the chicken coop. I think the consumers of Ontario deserve far better.

Also, let's talk about the operators in those respective businesses. I am convinced, and the people I've talked to in Welland-Thorold, the car dealers, travel agents, real estate agents and brokers, since this legislation was presented for first reading, the vast majority of them don't want to see the type of self-regulation -- so-called self-regulation; in fact privatization -- that's being imposed by this government. They don't want to see it, because what it does, and this has been mentioned in the course of some debate already, is diminish the role of the small player. This is very much an anti-small-business ploy. It is. It's anti-small-business, the bona fide small businesses, places like Cooper's Travel down on the south end of King Street, which is a bona fide small business where a small business person struggles along doing a great job for her clientele and employs, when she can, one or two other people, but by and large it's her herself. It's not part of a chain and it's not part of some Eaton's or The Bay. And, Lord knows, who'd want to buy anything from The Bay right now in view of the fact that they don't treat their workers well enough and workers have been forced to engage in a work stoppage?

We're talking here about an abdication of the role of consumer protection. I've been looking forward to consumer protection legislation from this minister. If the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations spent less time dismantling the regulatory processes that we have now, if he spent less time dismantling public assets like the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and, as we witnessed most recently, the dismantling of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission, creating a new, quasi-private agency, and not consulting, once again, with the staff of either of those two agencies --

Now, I tell you, there's a consultation going on in Hamilton today. That's where the voters of Hamilton -- and I urge them to get out there and cast their ballot for Wayne Marston, who is the only candidate in that by-election in Hamilton who opposes the GST. In that by-election, a vote for Copps is a vote for the GST and it's a vote for deceit. To vote for Copps in that by-election today, right now, as Hamiltonians are doing, is to vote for somebody who says one thing to get elected and does another thing once they're in power. Politicians like that can't be tolerated. They simply can't be tolerated here in the province of Ontario. If folks in Hamilton want to register their protest right now, they'd better get out there before 8 o'clock this evening and vote for Marston, the New Democratic Party candidate, who is the only candidate who opposes the GST, and vote against Sheila Copps and let her and a whole lot of other politicians know that they expect far more.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I would like to remind the member of the subject that we're on and the bill that we're on, and it's here in Toronto in the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. I appreciate it. So here we are debating Bill 54. We're going to be opposing this. Bill 54 is a pathetic abdication of the responsibilities that a Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations should have. It's an abandonment of consumers in the province. It denies the role of the ministry and guts a ministry that has already been under incredible attack for a good chunk of time.

A consumer protection act, one that was meaningful -- and I read the one that was left there by the Liberals back after they were defeated in 1990, and it wasn't much of a piece of legislation, let me tell you. But if this Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations spent less time privatizing the things that the public owns and more time on developing meaningful consumer protection -- look, I get calls on a regular basis to my constituency office, people being ripped off left and right, with licence, again, by previous governments, yes, but by this government all the more so, because this government is gutting a ministry that has a mandate, a responsibility, to protect consumers.

Day after day after day I get calls from consumers who have been done in, whether it's fly-by-nighters, whether it's itinerant salespeople -- we know they don't have to be licensed any more. The minister has proposed that: "Why bother licensing them? We can't license them all; we can't find them anyway." Well, heck, that's the same thing this government is doing with policing. This government is defunding policing to the point where it's: "Why even bother trying to catch the bad guys? We're not going to pay for police officers to do it anyway."

So I say that. I encourage people to watch Face Off tonight, which is on the CBC Newsworld program, where I'll be debating auto insurance with a Tory who has absolutely no experience whatsoever with the issue and pointing out the failures of this government to meaningfully address the issue of auto insurance. It will be with Paula Todd and Claire Hoy as hosts, and I'll be appearing on Face Off later this evening on your CBC cable channel. I urge people to view, and I urge people in Hamilton to get out there and vote: Vote for Marston, because he's the only candidate who opposes the GST.

I now cede the floor to my colleague from Cochrane South.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I thank the critic of our party for consumer and commercial relations for giving me more than half of the time we have on this particular bill, Bill 54.

Just for a bit of a recap, so people do know what we're debating here today, we're debating a bill that's being brought forward by the government that basically will do a very simple thing, with fairly serious consequences, in my mind: It will say that in a number of areas that are presently regulated and administered by the provincial government through various agencies in regard to the safety of elevators, how real estate boards operate etc, those regulatory powers and administrative powers are going to be passed on to the private sector through the designations under Bill 54. Just for the record, the act is called An Act to provide for the delegation of the administration of certain designated statutes to designated administrative authorities and to provide for certain limitation periods in those statutes.


I want to go through the bill section by section. I guess on the surface the government would argue that this is a good thing because it moves those darned bureaucrats out of the administrative function they have to deal with the regulations within this act and give them over to a smarter group of people in the private sector who can do it much better. The member for Etobicoke West is shaking his head, saying that's exactly what this bill is about.

Mr Kormos: I can hear him shaking his head.

Mr Bisson: I was going to say that, but I thought it would be unkind.

We need to be very clear that there is a different role and there is a different reason for how government operates versus the private sector. I think that's the crux of this act.

Interjection: The government doesn't operate.

Mr Bisson: The member says the government doesn't operate, and I would argue otherwise. The government, through its civil service and through the various ministries, has the responsibility of carrying out public policy, and in those areas where public policy is not being followed, to act within the limitations set out in any piece of legislation to make sure that public policy is carried out by the private sector or in some cases the government sector.

In the past, until 1996 in this province, by and large the delegation of authority under acts covered by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations was under not only the policy control of the minister to set policy but also the administration of those policies; how elevators are operated, how all the various regulatory powers of his ministry are operated were not only under his power when it came to policy but also when it came to administering them when it came to inspection and, in those cases where things didn't happen well, to deal against them.

The government is making it possible -- not in all cases will everything be transferred to the private sector -- but making it possible over a period of time to transfer much of what's presently done under the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations over to the private sector.

The explanatory note sets out that the scope of the act is "delegating to designated administrative authorities certain powers and duties relating to the administration of those acts.

"The bill makes consequential amendments to a number of acts named in the schedule. In addition, it provides a limitation period for offences in certain safety statutes that is two years from the date on which the facts that gave rise to the alleged offence were discovered."

If something were to happen in regard to how a particular inspection was done -- let's say the inspection for some reason was botched, to put it quite bluntly -- if that was found out, you would have a limitation of up to two years to deal with it. For example, let's say there was an accident and that accident happened on an elevator -- it's something that most people have seen and used and would understand -- and for some reason there was an inspection done some years ago where systematically, from that point forward, the particular fault was not found or where in some cases the private elevator inspector turned a blind eye for whatever reason and something happened. If it can be proven that that was over two years ago, you as the victim or as the survivor of the victim would not be able to bring that person to court. That's basically what it means. I think there's a bit of a problem with that.

I understand there are reasons why you want statutes of limitation on legislation, but I would argue that in cases of inspections such as these, the limitation is somewhat too short. I realize the limitation in the previous bill in some cases was not a lot longer, but the argument I would make, especially when it comes to issues of safety, is that we need to make sure the public has, as much as possible, protection under the legislation; and if something happens, if they have to go to court to remedy the situation in regard to a financial suit, that they have the ability to do so within a reasonable amount of time. I would say the statute of limitation of two years is too short and that's one of the problems I have with this bill.

Let's go into the various sections of the bill and try to deal with this fairly clearly.

Under "Designations," subsection 3(2) reads, "...the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, designate one or more administrative authorities for the purpose of administering designated legislation." I categorically object to this -- no big surprise as a member of the New Democratic Party. I don't believe that public policy should be carried out, when it comes to the administration of that public policy, by the private sector. I think government has a role in our economy, as does the private sector, and each of them has a designated role within the economy that should be complementary and not seen as being opposed to each other.

I give you as a good example the area I come from in northern Ontario. For years and years the forestry work that was being done in regard to harvesting trees and then replanting trees has been done by the private sector, but it has been done under the guise of legislation that sets out how that can be and must be done. If the private sector is to get it wrong, ministry employees have the right to inspect, and if they don't do it right, to either penalize through fine or in some cases, very serious, revoke that licence.

It would be the same thing, the analogy under this legislation we have before us today. If you don't have the ability on the part of the public sector for somebody within the government organization to inspect what the private sector is doing, to make sure they're doing a good job and they're doing things as set out in public policy in a bill such as this, you really leave it open that the private sector organization, which is there to make a buck, not there to carry out public policy, may turn a blind eye to a number of issues when it comes to safety or to public policy as it affects the public.

What we need to understand is that I hear the government, I understand the government when it says that it wants to see government made more efficient. I don't think anybody argues that. I'm part of an industry, coming from the mining sector in northern Ontario, where in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I would argue the private sector in the mining sector was not very efficient. We used to operate mines with far more people than we do now, probably not as efficiently as we do at this point. Because of economic times, companies were forced to restructure. The unions, in this case the United Steelworkers of America, worked with their private sector employers to make changes that made the mines more efficient, allowed things to happen, in some cases made good suggestions and the companies took them into place, and in the end we were able to be all the better for it when it came to how the company was run.

There was a downside to that in regard to the loss of jobs, but the point I'm getting at is that a company is there to make a buck; that's what they're there for. They're not there to follow public policy. A private sector company is not there to say, "I care about public safety and therefore I'm going to make it my business to go out there and make sure things are done properly according to the policies set out by the Ontario government." That's not what they're there for and I don't expect them to do that, and neither should the government. That's why I wonder why we're doing this in legislation.

If you take as an analogy -- I'll come to it in the bill a little bit later when we get into more detail -- I use again the question of inspecting elevators. If a private sector operator can make a buck by trying to enforce public policy, how are you going to make that profitable? How can you make a buck at it? If you can't make a buck, he ain't going to do it. I just wonder how they're going to get to that. If you go back and look at the end of the legislation --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Typical socialist thinking.

Mr Bisson: I hear the whip saying, "A typical socialist." Yes, I am a socialist and I take some pride in that. Far better being a socialist who cares about the people of this province than to be a Tory-Reform Party member who quite frankly is trying to make legislation fit the corporate agenda of his party and not about the questions of public safety.

I want to come back to the point of this private operator. If you go further into the bill, section 12 of the bill if I'm correct, you have to wonder how it is that a company will be able to make a dollar when it comes to the question of being able to inspect elevators, just as an example. They've got to be able to get revenue somewhere. One of the ways they're going to be able to get revenue is through section 12 of the bill. If you read the bill, it says that it gives the power to the private sector, the company that would take this over, to set and collect fees and to set administrative penalties and other costs related to the inspections.

Basically it says that the private sector entrepreneur who takes over this particular job will look at his or her bottom line and he or she will say, "I need to charge X amount of dollars for every inspection I do of elevators in Ontario, and the more inspections I do, the more money I will make, or I will set a fee so high that I have to do fewer inspections to get my profit margins up."


Then it goes on to say that in the event there is an infraction of the legislation the administrative authority is supposed to be watching out for, the person can set a fee. Therein lies the issue of this bill. You have to ask yourself a question. If the business is there to make a buck, the only way they can make a buck under this legislation -- this is a bit of a funny argument for me to be making as a social democrat, but try to follow me a second.

I would make more money by going out and doing more inspections, supposedly. I would think the Conservative government was more interested in trying to get its nose out of the face of business. In effect, what your legislation is going to do is that if I were a private sector entrepreneur, I would make darn sure I get out there and do the inspections that need to be done and that I set the fee high enough to make a return on the investment of my company. The point is that the people who own the buildings in the province of Ontario who need to get their elevators inspected will see an increase in fees from the inspections presently being done by the government of Ontario.

I would think one of the things the government would be interested in -- I know they are, and I know I am. What you want to do is set up a cost structure that is competitive with the rest of the jurisdictions out there, number one, vis-à-vis how much it costs to get this done in Ontario versus Manitoba, Saskatchewan and other provinces. Number two is that the cost is not so onerous that it becomes a deterrent to the bottom line of the person being inspected.

What you're doing here is taking that power away from the minister and, through the agreement the designated authority would sign with the minister, Mr Sterling, they get the ability to set the fee. I don't know what the fee is at this point when it comes to elevator inspection, but I'd hazard a guess that you will see an increase in that fee for the person being inspected, as the question the private sector asks will be, "How can I make a buck at this?" One of the ways they're going to make a buck is to set a fee.

The other thing that's interesting in here is that it allows the private sector entrepreneur who takes over the job of inspecting the elevators to set administrative penalties. That's fairly interesting. What it does -- follow the logic here. If I'm a private sector entrepreneur, I want to get revenue streams so my company can make money. The only way I can make revenue streams in this business is by charging people for not doing what they should be doing. The problem with that is that you're quite possibly going to end up in a situation where the private sector entrepreneur will start penalizing individuals who operate equipment, for the sake of making a buck.

I don't see that as being friendly to business. If anything, I see it as a negative step for business, not a positive one. It brings back the question of government in your face. In my view, that function is best left to the public sector, because the job of the government is not to go out and make a buck; the job of the government is to make sure that public policy is followed, and in those cases where public policy is not followed, that a penalty is levied against that individual or individual company.

The private sector, on the other hand, is going to come at this from a totally different direction. The private sector entrepreneur doing the inspection is going to say, "I can make a buck by levying a penalty, so let me make a buck." I would say it would be much more confrontational to the private sector than the government would ever be. I would say there are definitely some problems in regard to how that would work. I'm sure the government, at the end of second reading on this, will take a look at it and will try to figure out how to address this.

I want to go back in the act. Under section 7, the designated administrative authorities, subsection (2) reads, "Nothing in this act restricts a designated administrative authority from carrying out other activities in accordance with its objects."

It goes on to say, "The minister may appoint at pleasure one or more members to the board of directors of a designated administrative authority as long as the members appointed by the minister do not constitute a majority of the board."

What that basically means is that these designated authorities are going to have to have a board; the board is going to be made up of people who are from that particular company that bids; and that the minister may appoint people to the board, but public appointments will be a minority on the board.

I just say again, for the sake of public policy, as it stands now those particular boards that deal with regulations of CCR are public boards. Why? For a very good reason. It's public policy, the idea being that the government, through the minister, has the ability to appoint various industry stakeholders and the people affected by particular regulations on to the board to review issues the government has to deal with so they make sure the regulations live and breathe and follow what's happening on a day-to-day basis in regard to its power.

What we're doing is transferring the power to a delegated authority, basically a private sector company, and then we're saying we also absolve ourselves of any public responsibility when it comes to the composition of the board. I would think public policy is exactly that. Public policy is about making sure that the will of the public in the province is followed. To do that, it seems to me that the public has to be involved in some way. With government they're involved in a number of ways. They're involved by being able to get to the minister, the person in charge at the end of the day, to get to the government and their local MPP to express their concerns about issues of safety or regulation, whatever it might be. If you throw that over to the private sector, that avenue is taken away from individuals.

Now you can't complain to the minister, you can't complain to the local MPP, you can't complain to the Premier. Why? Because it's going to be a private company that does this for you. They're going to have the ability not only to inspect but to set fines and do the rest, and you will not be able to go to the minister or the ministry or to anybody else to make a complaint. You will have to deal directly with that company. When the company's sole motive is making a profit, if your concern is anything that will take away from its stated aim of making a profit, as a person aggrieved by the particular delegated authority, how are you going to be able to bring your points forward? That again is a reason we've always left those powers in the hands of the public sector, that in the end there's public accountability. Under this act, there will be no public ability to make complaint.

The other issue is that of the board. Subsection 8(4) of the act says, "The administrative authority shall provide for the payment of reasonable remuneration and expenses to the members of the board whom the minister appoints." That's fairly innocuous. It basically says this delegated authority is able to set the renumeration for the people who sit on the board.

That raises a point that I would think the Conservative members, as I am, would be somewhat concerned about. In the normal course of events, people don't get paid a lot of money to sit on boards. If you sit on the parole board of Ontario or you sit on a board such as the College -- I was going to say the College of Teachers -- of Nurses etc, in some cases you get a renumeration for sitting on the board, which is normally not a lot, maybe 90 bucks, 100 bucks or 120 bucks per meeting, and if you're lucky you're able to get your expenses. In most boards, and Mr Turnbull would know this, people are not paid. In terms of most of the public boards of Ontario, you serve for the honour of serving and you recoup expenses only: your meals and mileage, your airplane ticket, whatever it might cost to get to the meeting.

What we're doing under this section of the act is that we're saying we're going to allow the delegated authority to set the renumeration of the board.

Mr Turnbull: Do you mean remuneration?

Mr Bisson: Same word.

Mr Turnbull: No.

Mr Bisson: Thank you for correcting me. Remuneration.

Anyway, the point is that if we give that power to the designated authority, it means they can pay the board members whatever they want. They can pay the board members $100 per meeting; they can pay them $1,000 per meeting. There's really no difference. The point is that all that additional cost will be passed on to the consumer, that is, the companies that have to do business with this designated authority, or in some cases the public. It will again add to the cost.

The fees you're presently paying for inspection or the fees you would pay in the case of a penalty are dealt with from a public policy perspective and not dealt from the profit motive when it comes to government. Under this particular issue, what's going to happen is that the fee has to incorporate all the costs of the business itself, including the cost to the board as set out under subsection 8(4), which means that if the board gets paid a thousand bucks a day, there's nothing you can do about it, and that $1,000 a day is going to be taken out of the pockets of every man, woman and child who has to come in contact with this particular business when it comes to payment of services. How is public interest best dealt with by doing that? What's the point? I think what the government wants to do is reduce the cost of government, not only to itself, but when it comes to points of access by the public. This act, in short, will drive up the cost we must pay to deal with boards and different regulatory authorities that are dealt with by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That is what will end up happening.


The second point is obviously -- and I'll come to that a little bit later -- that any savings that will be had in regard to the private sector taking it over will be made because it will pay its employees less money. If a public sector inspector makes $17 or $16 an hour, I'm sure the private sector will come nowhere near those kind of dollars to pay the inspectors. They will pay them what they can. If they can get away with 10 or 11 bucks an hour, that's what they will pay them. Who gains? Is it the public? No, the public doesn't gain because in the end you'll pay a higher fee but the employees will make less money, which means there's less purchasing power into the economy. The only one who makes any bucks at the end is the business owner, and where does that money go? But that's for another time and another debate.

Under section 9 in regard to employees, and this is an interesting one, it goes on to say, "Subject to the administrative agreement, a designated administrative authority may employ or retain the services of any qualified person, except a crown employee, to carry out any power or duty of the authority relating to the administration of designated legislation delegated to the authority...." I take it that what they mean by this is that you can't go out and hire under contract a government employee who is working, let's say, at the ministry doing X, Y or Z.

On the surface, most people would say: "I agree with that. That seems like a fairly good thing. We don't want the private sector going in and utilizing government employees to do jobs in the private sector and then those public sector employees going back to their regular jobs and making all that money." But they are being treated differently than most other employees out there in the private sector. If I'm an electrician, as an example, and I work for Royal Oak Mines and get paid $21 an hour and work 40 hours a week, I have the right as a private sector employee to contract my services out after hours to a particular contractor who may have a contract to do inspections for a delegated authority. What would you say on the other side of the House? You'd say, "Bully, bully, that's good stuff." I agree. Most people out there are trying to make a few extra dollars, and if they have skills they want to utilize in contract to other employers after the hours of their regular job, they go ahead and do it. But you're saying you're going to treat crown employees as different.

I could understand it if you were limiting it to employees who come into contact with these acts, but if you're making the scope so wide that another government employee who may, for example, be on a short-term definite contract or who's working on a temporary basis or on a 20-hour-a-week basis, that employee can't go in and supplement his or her wages by doing work for one of these delegated authorities, you're dealing with people differently.

That brings us back to the point of the bias of this government. It seems to me whenever this government does something there's a bit of a -- I wouldn't say a twist because that's not quite the word I'm looking for, but there is certainly a bias on the part of the government that it much prefers the private sector, non-union people over unionized public sector employees, or unionized employees overall. If you read this section of the act, what you're saying is that it's a fairly far-sweeping piece of legislation when it comes to this section. It says "except crown employees." That means any employee who works for the government. I say again, if I am a maintenance person working in the building at the Ministry of Natural Resources in the city of Timmins and I work 20 hours a week as an employee of the crown maintaining buildings as an electrician and there is a contractor who sets up shop down the street, who's going to be out inspecting elevators and says, "I have a job for a 20-hour-a-week person to come in and do electrical inspections of elevators," and I'm not allowed to go to work for that employer on the basis of my being a crown employee, that is highly not fair.

If you're saying as a government, and I hope the government is listening, and I'm sure the ministry people are listening -- he's nodding his head that he is listening; that's good -- that you would change that particular section to read "only those employees of the crown who come in direct contact with the powers of this act," then I could understand it; that would make some sense. But to go out and to say that you're going to make this far-sweeping for every other government employee out there is unfair, because you would know part of the agenda of this government is to lay off tens of thousands of public sector employees. Those people are going to be looking for work. The government said in its negotiations with OPSEU last spring that it was going to try to ease the transition by making sure that the public sector employees had an opportunity to bid on the private sector jobs that are supposedly going to replace all these public sector jobs that are being eliminated by way of layoff. In this act you have said, "No crown employees need apply for a job in the private sector dealing with this legislation because we will not accept you and we will put out, by law, that you cannot apply."

Certainly, I'm sure that the government members in the back bench don't want to see that, but that's what your cabinet is doing, that's what Mike Harris is saying, that's what Dave Johnson is saying and that's what Norm Sterling is saying. They're saying: "The heck with them. If they're crown employees, they're not allowed to apply. They're not going to get a job there and that's all there is to it."

The only thing I can think of, either this is a gaping mistake in the legislation or, quite frankly, this is a bias against the crown employees --


Mr Bisson: Well, read the legislation. I'm going to go through it again. I notice a few members on the other side are saying, "What are you talking about?" It's in your legislation under section 9, and I will read it:

"9(1) Subject to the administrative agreement, a designated administrative authority may employ or retain the services of any qualified person, except a crown employee, to carry out any power or duty of the authority relating to the administration of designated legislation delegated to the authority...."

I'm saying, if it's in regard to strictly dealing with the regulations of the act, I guess an argument could be made, but that is fairly far-sweeping when it comes to the legislation.


Mr Bisson: Well, read the act. I understand. You're government backbenchers. You're told as you go into your caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, "This is the legislation that's coming forward and at the appropriate times and the appropriate cue cards, applaud, say yes, yes, good stuff." But read the legislation, because you live and die by legislation as backbenchers. You're the people who have to go out and sell it at election time. I understand that you have a particular agenda in regard to favouring the private sector over the public sector, and we'll argue about that another time, but at least get it right in the legislation. That's all I'm telling you.

Here's one of the interesting parts of the act, and I understand why the government's making this. I'll try to be somewhat fair in my comments here. Under section 11, which deals with crown liabilities, it reads under subsection (3):

"(3) No action or other proceeding for damages shall be instituted against the crown for damages that a person suffers as a result of any act or omission of a person who is not an employee or agent of the crown."

Just before, under (2), it says, "Despite subsections 5(2) and (4)...subsection (1) does not relieve the crown of liability in respect of a tort committed by a crown employee to which it would otherwise be subject."

It says under (4), "Subject to the administrative agreement, a designated administrative authority shall indemnify the crown in respect of damages and costs incurred by the crown for any act or omission of the administrative authority or its members...."

In short, I think what they're getting at here -- and I would look for some clarification by the ministry -- is that, if you read that, what you're basically saying is that if an accident happened and it was found there was a faulty piece of equipment that should have been picked up through the inspection, the regular inspection of that equipment, as it stands now, you're able to sue the private sector employer, because as you know, most of this stuff is done by the private sector to start with. For example, the question of elevator maintenance etc is done by private sector companies. If there is a mistake done to which an injury happens and there's a lawsuit, you have the ability to sue the company that did the work. What this, I think, means is that you would not be able to sue the crown.

If that's the case, I would wonder what the other precedents of law are, because in the end it's a question of public policy. It would seem to me at one point you need to make a link between the minister's responsibility to make sure that public policy is being followed and the person at the other end who benefits or lacks benefit in regard to those regulations.

I again look at the ministry employees who are sitting in the dais over there, that it seems to me what this basically says is if there was an accident to happen, you could sue the private sector person who has the maintenance contract but you can't sue the government for damages. I take it that's what it means, and I was right.


All I'm saying is that one of the things I think we need to be careful of is that government cannot absolve itself of its responsibility entirely. In the end what you're trying to do is maintain public accountability and you're trying to maintain a certain amount of responsibility on the part of the minister and the government. I wouldn't want to see the government get off the hook altogether, because in effect what can happen is that delegated authorities do a bad job of inspection.

For example, I'm company X and I have the job of maintaining elevators at 55 Bloor Street. I do a shoddy job and for whatever reason -- the delegated authority who's responsible for the inspection has a good relationship with the private sector contractor or doesn't do a very good job of inspection -- something happens. You would be able to sue first the contractor, you would then be able to sue the delegated authority who did the inspection, but that's where the buck stops. You couldn't go any further.

What I'm saying is that I'm a little bit nervous about that, because if the crown is totally off the hook, it means to say that the crown is really not interested in making sure public policy is followed. It would seem to me that's the reason why we make legislation. If we draft legislation in this Legislature, it is because we as parliamentarians and you as a government want to make sure that policy is followed. So what you end up with is really a separation between government responsibility and those people who are left out there to carry it out.

I would again say to the government that I understand we don't want to be left on the hook for a whole bunch of sloppy work that's being done by a private sector inspector or by a maintenance company. I wouldn't want to see the government sued because these people have done things wrong, but I think we need to figure out some way to make a link so that if the private sector inspector is now going to have the ability to do this under your legislation, we have some ability to be able to control him.

I know in the legislation -- and I'll come to that in a second -- the minister has the right to revoke an agreement with a private sector inspector if they're not doing a job, but there is some difficulty in the way that particular section reads. I will just get to that, which is section 6. Section 6 of the act deals with taking away the licence or taking away the authority of a delegated authority. That means that an inspection which is presently being carried out by the government and would now be carried out by the private sector is done by licence through the minister and through the Lieutenant Governor.

I just want to read it here. It says: "Subject to subsections (2) and (3), on giving the notice that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers reasonable in the circumstances, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, revoke the designation of legislation for which the administration is delegated to a designated administrative authority or revoke the designation...."

That makes some sense. You want to have that ability we talked about a little while ago, that if the private sector employer doesn't do a good job of carrying out the inspection, the minister has some ability, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to be able to revoke that licence. That I support. I haven't got a problem with that. That makes some sense. I guess that's how you link back the whole issue of accountability.

But then it goes on to set out the conditions under which you can do that as a minister. It says "if, (a) the administrative authority has failed to comply with this act" -- in other words, if the private sector inspector doesn't live up to the act, the minister has the ability to withdraw the licence, which is good -- or "(b) the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers it advisable to do so in the public interest." That again is good. That is not a problem.

But here's where it gets a little bit loose. It says:

"(2) If a designated administrative authority to which the administration of designated legislation is delegated fails to comply with this act, the designated legislation or the administrative agreement, the minister shall," -- and this is where it gets interesting --

"(a) allow the administrative authority the opportunity of remedying its failure within the time period that the minister considers reasonable in the circumstances; and

"(b) advise the Lieutenant Governor in Council whether or not the administrative authority remedies its failure within the time period that the minister specifies."

The situation is -- well, it's under the act. You might look a little bit bewildered, but that's why I read that. I didn't make it up. It's in the Conservative government's legislation as set out by Mr Sterling. What this basically says is, "I'm the minister of the crown and there has been a shoddy inspection and there has been a public inquest by the coroner in regard to fatalities."

You're the minister over there. Let's say the government, Mr Harris, for some reason decides to make Mr Ford the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- it could happen; stranger things have happened, I understand -- and you say: "My God, look what's happened. These guys did a shoddy job, they were not good inspectors and they were not operating within the scope of public interest as set out in the act. I want to revoke their licence." It would be fairly difficult to do, because the act says you have to give them the ability to remedy the situation. The case would be made, as you as the minister try to revoke the licence because they've done shoddy work, "I've got me a high-priced lawyer because I'm the private sector employer who's doing this now, and I'm going to take you to court because you didn't give me the ability to remedy the situation." You as the minister, Mr Ford, if you were the minister, would not have the ability to withdraw the act. At which point are you going to be able to?

You say, "Okay, a tragedy has happened." You shake your head, but that's what the legislation reads, my friend. Read it. It says the only way the minister can revoke the legislation is under clause (a), "...allow the administrative authority the opportunity of remedying its failure within the time period that the minister considers reasonable in the circumstance." That means that if a tragedy were to happen, which does even under the best of circumstances, and the minister of the crown responsible for licensing and for fees under this legislation were to say, "I want to revoke their licence because they are not responsible," the private sector company that now does the inspection instead of the government would say: "Like heck you are. Clause 6(2)(a) of the act tells me you can't and tells me you have to give me the authority to remedy the situation." The minister says: "Okay, you get away with it this time, but don't let it happen again. If you do, I'm going to revoke your licence."

A month or two or a year down the road another infraction happens, and you try to withdraw the person's licence and then another argument is made on the part of the person who's now got the authority under the legislation to do the inspection: "The first time that happened, it was a different issue. It wasn't quite like this one over here. You can't see them as the same. The legislation says you have to give me the ability to remedy the situation and you can't withdraw my licence."

It would take an awful lot of infractions before the minister would be able to act. The minister has the power under the current act to deal with that tout de suite, as we say, but under this legislation you're giving the private sector entrepreneur who will take over the inspections of elevators in this province the ability literally to get away with murder if an accident were to happen. That is certainly not what Derwyn Shea wants to happen and I know it's not what the Conservative backbenchers want to happen. They want to have accountability by the private sector. How can you make them accountable if you can't revoke the person's licence?

When our government did the Crown Forest Sustainability Act under the leadership of Howard Hampton, the then minister of MNR, we said in the cases of reforestation -- first of all harvesting, then reforestation, seeing that the private sector is the one that does the work -- we as a government will maintain the ability to inspect and we will maintain the ability to levy a fine if you don't do your job right; but ultimately, if you don't do your job we are going to have the ability, as a government and as the minister, to revoke your licence to harvest timber in this province. That's a fairly good incentive for a company to do its job right. Most large entrepreneurs in the forestry industry are going to try to do a good job; it is in their business interest to do so, but in the end the minister has the right to revoke the licence.

In this legislation you're not giving the minister the right to revoke the permit to be able to operate that business; you're giving an escape clause to the private sector that you can drive a Mack truck through at the same time as a 10-ton train, and I don't think the public interest is going to be served.

It brings me back to a point, which is, who gains under this? All the legislation we see this government bringing forward, be it under Bill 54 that we're debating here this afternoon; under Bill 26, the omnibus bill -- the ominous bill as the Speaker likes to refer to it --

Interjection: Bully bill.

Mr Bisson: -- the bully bill, as others would like to refer to it; under Bill 7, the labour relations legislation; under a number of other pieces of legislation, you have to ask yourself, who benefits? Is it the individual person at home watching this debate now? No. It's a group of people who are a select few, sitting there with the bucks, the big bank accounts, the lawyers to defend themselves, all the monetary power they need to protect themselves, and to boot, now we give them the legislation to protect themselves even more.


What this government is forgetting is that over a period of years, we in this province and we across this great country have put in place rules by which the private sector must operate when dealing with the public. What you're doing is saying, "We're going to give the private sector everything," and we here, the individuals, will not be protected by our government where we need to be.

That's why we have rules. With you guys, it's a question of who benefits. I would say those who benefit under a Mike Harris government are those with money, those with big money. If you're Conrad Black, who now owns most of the print media in this country, a monopoly -- I thought the private sector was opposed to monopolies, I really did, but they seem to be pretty good at trying to scoop them up to control a sector of the economy. But who benefits? It'll be the Conrad Blacks. It won't be the people of Ontario. It will not be the individuals, some 9.5 million working people in this province, who benefit by this. It'll be a very few people who tend to make some money. That's the basic problem I have with this government.

Going back to section 6 of the bill, this gets quite interesting. Keep in mind that what we've done is put in an escape clause for the private sector. We've said that if the private sector inspector goofs up and does a bad job, the minister cannot revoke the licence to operate of that private sector employer without allowing them to remedy the situation, which basically means you're not able to do much if you're the minister.

It says, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council shall not revoke the designation of the administrative authority if the designated administrative authority remedies its failure within the time period that the minister specifies."

It goes on to say: "A designated administrative authority may request that the Lieutenant Governor in Council revoke" -- this is the best part. Remember, you as a minister cannot revoke the licence, right? That's what happens under this legislation. But let's say a private sector entrepreneur who's the inspector goes off and does a bad job and is now being sued every Thursday morning by a new complainant for bad work being done. This act says this person can walk away from the responsibilities under the administrative agreement.

Subsection 6(4) says, "A designated administrative authority may request that the Lieutenant Governor in Council revoke its designation and in that case the Lieutenant Governor in Council shall, by regulation, revoke the designation on the terms that it considers advisable in the public interest."

It sounds pretty interesting to me. You're prepared to give that power to the private sector company itself, but you're not prepared to give that power to the minister, who is in the end the one responsible for the question of administration of these acts. It's a bit of a double standard, I would say.

Now, the other thing is that under subsection 6(5) of the act, you say, "The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to the exercise by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a right under this section to revoke a designation."

I just found this out a little while ago, so I won't take a whole bunch of pride in thinking I knew exactly what this meant. What it means is that the Statutory Powers Procedure Act imposes a regime, if none exists, with regard to how the rules of a hearing would go if -- let's say the minister decides he wants to revoke a licence and there's going to be a hearing to deal with that. Normally, because there's no hearing process set up, you would go to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act to set up the rules of the tribunal.

This act is saying that tribunal will not be subject to the statutory procedure act. I find that somewhat interesting. I ask this of the parliamentary assistant: Where a hearing or hearing process is going to take place into a person's licence being revoked, does it mean you're going to have, under the regulations, your own rules about how this hearing will take place if you're not going to do the Statutory Powers Procedure Act?

Moving on to section 4 -- I'm going the other way in this bill. I want to deal with the administrative sections of the bill first and deal with the concept of the bill at the end, because I think that's really what this is all about. I want to go to section 4, which deals with the administrative agreements.

It says, "The administrative agreement shall include all matters that the minister considers necessary for delegating the part of the administration of the designated legislation that is delegated to the administrative authority, including,..." and it goes on to set out all the terms.

What that means is that when the government hands over the control of elevating inspection to the private sector -- and I only use that as an example; it may not be that particular service that ends up being transferred, but there are certainly many more that will -- section 4 sets out the terms and conditions the administrative agreement must follow.

Clause (c) says the administrative authority includes "financial terms of the delegation, including licence fees, royalties, reimbursements for transfers of assets and payments to the crown."

That means that where the minister transfers the authority and the ability to inspect and set penalties etc in the agreement you're going to set out the terms for all that. I say again there will be a very strong onus on the part of the private sector entrepreneur who's taking this over to raise the fees above what they are currently in order to recoup the money on investment. The private sector business is certainly not going to do this out of the kindness of their heart; they're going to do it out of the kindness of their pocketbook. That's what you're in business for -- nothing wrong with that; you should make a buck if you're in business.

But the government now sets a particular fee for inspection, sets a fee for penalties, and it is set according to public policy. Once you transfer this to the private sector, the onus will not be public policy, the onus will be the bottom line, and if the bottom line dictates that the fees double or triple, you will be hard pressed as the minister to make an argument not to allow that to happen in the administrative agreement.

I just ask again, I wonder who's going to benefit out of that. Will it be the small individual business that is subject to this new delegated authority? I don't think so. I think the person who benefits is going to be one with the bucks who ends up taking this over as a business of their own.

It goes on to say that in the terms and conditions of the agreement of the designated authority, it will give "the right, if any, of the administrative authority to purchase, use or otherwise have access to government assets, including information, records or intellectual property."

That means that if you have a computer system tied to a particular service now being done by CCR, the private sector entrepreneur will be able to buy the computers and the software and transfer them to their site, or in some cases there may be a leased premise where the business is now taking place which the private sector entrepreneur would be able to come to an agreement with the landlord to take over.

In itself, we understand the logic. I don't agree with what the government's doing, but I understand the logic: that you want to give the ability to buy the equipment, because what's the government going to do with it after? But what bothers me a little is the question of including information. That one comes back to the whole question of what kind of information could be sold.

I remember the hue and cry from the Tory caucus during the Ataratiri issue. If you remember, minister Marilyn Churley of the NDP government was trying to come to terms way back in 1991-92 with Ataratiri in regard to the management of certain information. The government in the end decided not to go forward with that for a number of reasons, but one was that the Conservatives at that point felt it was wrong to allow the private sector to get their hands on the kind of information Ataratiri would have.

When I look at this particular clause, what you're saying is that the government is going to be able to sell information as part of the business if the person is taking over a particular responsibility when it comes to issues covered by this act. I would just say that I want to have a little assurance from the government at the committee hearings that certainly will take place on this bill that they'll specify what information we're talking about here.


I'm not accusing the government of anything at this point; I'm just saying we need to be advised of the information we're talking about here. Are we saying the government will be able to sell databases of names and addresses and telephone numbers of individual taxpayers in Ontario to private sector entrepreneurs who may want to do direct solicitation of services or goods? I certainly hope not, but I raise that as an issue and I think we need clarification. I would hope that's not what the government wants to do, and I'm sure we're going to get some clarification later, but it really could be a very big problem.

The other part of this is clause (h), which says, "a requirement that the administrative authority maintain adequate insurance against liability arising out of the administrative authority's carrying out the administration delegated to it."

That comes back to the issue I raised earlier, the reason I underlined that: a lawsuit. On the one hand, we're saying that if there were an accident and it was found shoddy maintenance was done and the company responsible for doing an inspection of the maintenance -- because now it will be the private sector's responsibility -- was found to be at fault, that company would have to be insured so that the individual suing has some assurance of being able to get the money back for damages in regard to the lawsuit. On the other hand, I'm really nervous about leaving the government entirely off the hook, because in the end we need to make sure it's a question of public policy being carried out and not just issues of the bottom line.

Now we'll move back to section 3, "Designations," and deal with that section as the last part of the debate. Let me go to subsection 3(2), which says, "Subject to section 4, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, designate one or more administrative authorities for the purpose of administering designated legislation." Subsection (4) says, "The powers to make regulations that designated legislation confers on the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the minister...."

In short, what we're getting at here is that we're saying the government has the ability to set up these designated authorities to deal with regulation.

That brings to an end the points I'm trying to make about the legislation. I've dealt with the different sections in regard to some of the concerns I have. I'm sure the government is going to listen and try to address some of the issues that were raised.

What I want to say in summing up is, be clear about what the government is doing here. The government is saying that the business that used to be carried out by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations in terms of public policy, of safety etc, that used to be done by public sector employees, is now going to be transferred holus-bolus to the private sector, and that is going to be done through this legislation.

I just say again that I have very grave concerns. When the government set out the rules for inspection of various devices, everything from pressure boilers to pressure vessels to elevating devices to gaming equipment -- everywhere you find equipment that comes in contact with the public -- most of that falls under an act that designates regulation to a ministry, and the ministry goes out and makes inspections of that equipment to make sure the public is safe. What we're doing under this act is transferring that power of inspection to the private sector, in effect saying the private sector will be in the business of making sure the public is kept safe.

I say to the government very directly that government and business operate on a totally different level. The government is there to carry out the public will and to protect the public; business, on the other hand, is there to make a dollar. There is a place for both in our society. There is a place for business to make a buck, but there is also a place for government. When you start mixing the roles of government and the private sector together, I think we get into difficulty.

I guess it would be analogous to the government saying, "Government has no business being in the business of running a corporation," and I would agree with that in many cases. If the private sector's doing a good job and treating their employees fairly and they're following the rules of the land, sure, let the private sector do their thing and the government shouldn't be in there meddling with the day-to-day affairs. But what you're doing over here is that you're saying, "We're not only going to allow them to do that, but we're going to transfer the authority for the inspection of how they do that business directly to the private sector," so that you'll have the private sector monitoring the private sector, watching each other. I think there is a real danger in that, because the private sector in the end will be less concerned about public safety, there will be less concern about public interest and there will be certainly more concern about the ability to make a dollar.

I don't know about you, but when I come in contact with the various pieces of equipment and various gadgets out there that are now being inspected by the ministry to make them safe for the public, I'd feel a lot safer knowing it was a public sector employee who'd done that. Because the public sector employee's job is what? It's to make sure that the act that was debated by the members of this Legislature and the regulations set out by the minister are being followed. If we as members of the public have a problem with those regulations or with the act, we raise it with our local MPPs and eventually we get it into the House and we make the changes that need to be done. There's public accountability, and we know that the sole raison d'être of that civil service employee is to make sure that the will of this Legislature is carried out when it comes to the inspection.

Once you get rid of that and you say, "I'm going to transfer over all of those powers to the private sector," you've cut the public out of the process; you've now made it a business. Business does not have, and I believe should not have, the right to basically monitor itself as to how it does and carries out its business when it comes to public policy. I think that's wrong. It's a little bit like saying: "We will privatize the highways of the province. We will hand them over to the private sector and we'll let them make all the rules." I don't think the public would stand for that. The public rightfully would say, "The government is better being responsible for that kind of responsibility because we know in the end the rules that are made will not be about profit and loss; they will be directly about the safety of the public and having a good transportation infrastructure." Doing what you're doing, quite frankly, leads to much, much danger when it comes to the question of where public safety is.

I come out of the electrical industry. I worked in the mining industry as an electrician. Part of the work I did was to inspect elevating devices in the underground; they are called hoists, very complex pieces of equipment. But the point is, day to day people's lives depend on the work that you do. One of the safeguards in the system was that the Ministry of Labour had electrical inspectors and mechanical inspectors who used to come in on a regular basis to make sure the work that I did as an electrician and the work that the mechanics did as mechanics always kept that system in safe repair. I'll tell you, Ross Connelly was the ministry inspector up in the Timmins area who used to come and check the work that I had to do; he was always there carrying out his duty as a public service employee to make sure that the men and the women who worked underground at the Pamour and McIntyre mines were kept safe. Why? Because it was a matter of public safety.

I know, and I can say without any danger, if we as a private sector company, being Royal Oak -- or, at that time, Pamour -- were left strictly as the only ones responsible for the maintenance of that equipment and we had not been monitored by anybody, quite frankly, the system would not have been kept up in the shape that it was. The reason the company did a good job was they knew in the end that the ministry would come in and inspect and that if they found something to be wrong, you would end up having to get it fixed.

If you move over to where you're going now, to where you're saying the private sector companies will be the ones that will make sure, there is nothing to prevent a situation where one private sector company goes to another one and says, "Listen, turn a blind eye to this particular situation." I don't think that's in the public good.

I've seen too many situations in the private sector, when I was there as an electrician, in the various employers that I had, where employers tried to put pressure on the workers to make sure that they didn't quite live up to the standards set out under policy. I wouldn't want to get into names -- it wouldn't be fair to some of the employers, and maybe, if I'm looking for a job one day, they'd remember this speech -- but the point is that I know as a fact, as a person who worked in the field, that the employer would come to you and say: "Listen, we're in a hurry. We want to get that piece of equipment going; just get it going." And you would argue, as a maintenance person, and say: "You can't. There's an unsafe situation here. The limits aren't working, or there is something that is unsafe." There are times when the employer would come to you and say: "I don't care. Production's more important. You get that piece of equipment going, and if you can't, I'll get somebody to take your place to do it for you." As a maintenance person, you always knew that in the end all you had to do was turn around and say to the company, "If you do that, I'm going to bring a ministry inspector in here and I will have them take a look at the situation." The company would back off because they knew that the ministry inspector employed by the crown would follow public policy, which was: "You don't do those kind of shenanigans, any employee. You make sure that in the end things are done properly."


So I just say in summing up in this particular -- I take it we're going to sum up? Yes. Very good. I see everybody's looking to get to the vote. I just want to say at the end of this that we were better served in a system where the private sector itself played the role they did, which is the maintenance itself, and then were inspected by the public sector, by the government, to make sure that public policy is properly carried out.

With that, I would like to thank you, Mr Speaker, for this time in debate. I hope the government listens to some of the comments made and tries to at least make the legislation work by making sure there are better safeguards for the public in this legislation. I would hope they would back off, but I don't think the government's about to do that.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Flaherty: I've been listening with interest to the member for Cochrane South and the member for Welland-Thorold. The member for Cochrane South says, "Read the legislation," and then we'll understand the abdication of responsibility by the government.

The key concept which my friend opposite fails to recognize is that self-management is different from self-regulation. In self-management, the government maintains and concentrates on setting standards for the industries and setting overall policies relating to public safety and consumer protection. The delegation is of administration and of delivery; that is, the government keeps control but reduces costs at the same time.

The member for Cochrane South says that government is let off the hook entirely on liability. He should, as he suggests, read the act, read subsection 11(2) with respect to tort liability of crown employees, which subsists in the act, and also read clause 12(1)(b) with respect to private entrepreneurs making money. The honourable member will see that they must do so with the process and criteria established and approved by the minister. That's in clause 12(1)(b) of the act.

Similarly, dealing with the limitation period in section 16, it has in fact been moved from six months to two years. The test is "was discovered," so that the two-year limitation period does not run until the time of the factual discovery, contrary to the indication given by the member for Cochrane South.

With respect to the NDP's policy, the New Democratic Party in June 1995, with respect to realtors, supported the principle of self-regulation for real estate brokers and said that it was prepared to introduce legislation as early as possible to delegate more responsibility to the real estate industry. The same sort of thing was said by the minister at the time, Mr Kormos, back in 1991.

Mr Crozier: I too want to take a couple of minutes to speak to this bill in its waning moments and the comments that have been made up to now. I want to reiterate what others have said before me and I think what I said at the time I was up before, that the main concern some of us have is addressing safety.

With respect to the safety administration, we know that this bill proposes the creation of a safety organization that would deliver the administrative and service functions that are currently carried out by the ministry's technical services division.

If there's anything the public wants to be assured about, again it relates to public safety when it comes to lifting devices, elevators, and when it comes to amusement rides. We're entering the season when many thousands across this province will be riding on amusement rides, and we just want to emphasize again our concern with the fact that private inspectors may not have the independence to carry out inspections the way government inspectors do and we want to urge the government to have another look at that.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I want to take an opportunity to thank the member for Cochrane South for the comments on the bill for self-regulation, and also the member for Welland-Thorold. I've listened to the 90-minute debate that has been going on, some of the comments about the by-election that is going on in Hamilton, the voting that is taking place today. It's very important that all of the NDP members get out there and support the vote against the GST across Canada.

The member for Cochrane South, as he always is, was very articulate in his comments that what we're talking about is the consumers being charged fees. This is the Conservative way of saying: "We're going to deregulate a lot of the industry, whether it be elevators, whether it be the rides that kids go on. We're going to let the industry do their own regulation."

But for the private sector to go out and do this, it's going to have to find money, so it's going to go out and pick the pockets of the owners of the elevators, of the amusement rides, of all the different services out there, because the government is saying: "We don't want to take the responsibility for regulating this any more. We're going to give it to the private sector." The private sector does not go out and operate and lose money.

We know -- even the Minister of Transportation knows, as the member for Cochrane South pointed out -- that it doesn't make sense to privatize the maintenance on Highway 11. This is exactly what the Conservative government is proposing -- privatizing Highway 11, whether it be winter maintenance, summer maintenance, all the way from North Bay to Thunder Bay. Let the contractors go out, and if they can't make a dollar on the budget the Conservatives set, they're going bankrupt, but they want to privatize it.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I too listened with interest to the comments from the member for Cochrane South and the member for Welland-Thorold before him. It's difficult to remember back that far, but I recall that the member for Welland-Thorold began the discussion on behalf of the third party. The comments ranged over a whole host of matters. Occasionally they touched on the act, but they also ranged on to discussion of the by-election today in Hamilton and what's on TV tonight and what have you.

I was interested that the member for Cochrane South was critical of section 19 of Bill 54, which provides for a two-year limitation period running from the time that the defect or the problem or the offence was discovered. I wouldn't have thought that this would be a matter that the third party would be critical of, if one looked at the status quo, which provides for a two-year limitation period running from the time the offence occurs, or in some cases six months. A two-year limitation period running from the time that the offence is discovered is more beneficial to the public, more beneficial to the interests of consumers, because it gives people a longer time to bring their complaints and to bring their actions.

The other comments that were made on the statute were about as reliable as the reflections on this section here, and I would say that of the other remarks I've just heard from the third party with the potential exception of the remarks made concerning what's on TV tonight, in which case I will bow to their expertise and assume they probably at least got that part right.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Cochrane South has two minutes.

Mr Bisson: I hoped the member would be a little bit kinder. I contained my remarks strictly to the act, followed it section by section. For the member to get up and say that we were talking about issues outside of the act, if you had listened to what I had to say and if you had followed the debate, you would have noticed that I confined my comments strictly to the act.

I want to say to the member opposite with regard to his comment -- I forget his riding -- he says the government still holds the right to set policy and determine regulation. I agree. That's not the issue. The issue here is that you're going to say to the private sector bidder who ends up getting the job of doing the inspection, "You have now the power to enforce the act." The government can in the end make all the regulations it wants, but if it doesn't have the power to go out and enforce its own regulations, how in heck do the regulations amount to anything? That's the point.


I've said fairly clearly in the debate that the government must retain the power to enforce. It's a bit like having a Minister of Environment -- it's not a bit; that's what we've got now -- it's like our current Minister of Environment who says we have all these wonderful laws to protect our environment. Never mind that she's weakening them; the thing she's doing that's even worse is that she's making them all self-monitoring. That means the private sector, the mining sector, the forestry sector and all of them can do what they want because in the end the government will not have the capacity to respond by way of enforcement. What's the use of having the law? That's the point.

I say to the members opposite, I hope you would have, as your goal for being a legislator in this great Legislature, at interest the public interest, not the corporate interest. It seems to me that's what you guys are all about. You see it in this act, you see it by the comments of the Minister of Environment, by the comments of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, where we're turning over the entire power of enforcement to the private sector. Who benefits? The corporate sector. Who gets hurt? We, the people of this province. In the end, you will pay a price for that.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): I am a past president of a self-regulating, self-managing group called the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario. It's known as RIBO. It is a classic response to all the concerns raised by the opposition. It is an arrangement between the government and the registered insurance brokers of Ontario to set the standards and maintain the standards and enforce policy that will protect the public interest. It is administered by a board of practitioners, professional insurance brokers, and by public appointees appointed by the government of the day. The marching orders are agreed upon, that the public safety is to be protected.

This group sets the standards for entry, sets the standards for continuing maintenance of your licence, sets the ethical standards of performance, and it guarantees the public interest is going to be served because there is a discipline committee, and there is a complaints committee which hears complaints by the public. This body is empowered to hear evidence and to pass judgement and revoke licences, which it is suggested they are not, but they have that power and they do that. All right?

The enforcement process: Ninety-five per cent of the complaints are handled within 48 hours because they're handled expeditiously and promptly and the people who are involved in the complaint are put together immediately. Very rarely does it get beyond a six-month period and that's usually because people are asking for delays; I guess postponements is the term I'm looking for.

What protections are built into this process? Every broker and brokerage office must have an errors and omissions policy which guarantees that if he makes a mistake in his professional capacity, the public will be protected. He must also be bonded up to a $100,000 minimum. If he takes off with trust funds, there are funds there immediately available to pay.

The organization itself has a cash fund of $500,000 which is there to backstop a big disaster or a big defalcation. On top of that, the interest on that fund is used to buy a $2-million backup policy which will cover additional losses. One other thing: It has a full year's budget in the bank.

In the last two years, it has reduced the charge for membership twice and it's almost back to where it was 13 years ago. All this is provided to the public at absolutely no cost to the public. It's paid for out of membership fees and out of assessments made against the members who are up on complaints and they reimburse the administration costs for investigating. This is proper and this is practical contracting out of the regulatory process.

The government sets the standards, sets them high, and then the people who are in the business, the practitioners who know, who take pride in their business, they set standards, and those standards are translated back to high levels of statutory protection. Anybody who can't take a minute to think about that and wants to get off their cant about the government abandoning its responsibilities, think about it and do some investigation, they will find that there are ample examples of excellent self-management or self-regulating of professions. I urge you to vote for this.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): We had agreed that we wouldn't take the two minutes.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I appreciate the opportunity to intervene, not at as much length as I would like perhaps in this debate tonight, but I did want to offer a few comments on this legislation and the general trend of the government in terms of regulation and in terms of carrying out its responsibilities.

First of all, I would like to say that everything that's in this bill isn't bad, but I know that the members of the government will be kind enough to tell us what's good about the bill, because their role and responsibility is to applaud the bill, even when they don't agree with it sometimes; if they want to advance to the cabinet, they can make generous comments about it.

To those who have spoken already, I know they, in their own hearts, believe this. My friend the member for Lincoln genuinely believes what he said today, and he gave a good example of an area where this approach has worked. I think there are some areas where it has better potential to work than others. The member has been helpful in offering that particular example. I'm not convinced that would work in every case. There are also other organizations that have the wherewithal to carry out some of this responsibility and others that I think there may be some problems arising if they were given this role.

First of all, the trend --

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Which ones, Jim?

Mr Bradley: Well, I could make a long speech if you want me to go into which ones. But I did talk to some of the people who were interested in this bill, who told me that other people in other categories wouldn't be able to do this but they could do it themselves. I was certainly prepared to believe them at the time that that was the case. But I won't betray their confidences, because they were speaking in confidence at the time.

The general role of the government is that it wants to withdraw from too many areas, in my view, because members of this government see government as evil; they see it as something that would obstruct those who wish to make money any way they want to make money without restriction. What happens, I have found in some experiences, is that good business people want the government to play a significant role because it means that they are good people, they're good corporate citizens, they live up to their role and responsibility, they meet all of the regulations in the legislation, they are prepared to invest money in equipment and in people and in training to ensure that they're being good corporate citizens, and when they see others who are not, they are highly annoyed and in many cases look to the government to bring about a situation where we have a level playing field.

I've certainly seen this in the environment. I noted over the last few years there was a program called the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, or MISA. It was a water pollution regulation. As they saw it start to erode over the last few years, the greatest complainers -- because the public at large were preoccupied with other things and the news media had completely abandoned the subject of the environment, it seemed, except for a few -- the people who were complaining most loudly to government were those who had spent the money, those who had met all of their obligations and now saw that the government was starting to ease off those obligations on others.

I think it's important for government, in certain cases, to play this role. In other cases -- my friend from Lincoln has made a case for his industry and he has a lot of experience and a lot of expertise in that area, and certainly what he says in the House on that issue deserves a lot of attention, but I believe that in some cases the government is abdicating its responsibility with the introduction of this legislation, and not acting in the best interests of consumers. Public safety may in some cases be put at risk.


The government is washing its hands of consumer protection in favour of commercialism without getting any input from consumers themselves. My concern is that while there has been consultation with the affected industries, there has not been widespread consultation with consumers and consumers' associations. In some cases consumers' associations are going to agree that it's better for the industry to carry out its regulations; in other words, that the government sets the standards and they carry them out. Sometimes consumers' associations will agree that's fine; in some cases they will not. I find it difficult to understand how public safety and marketplace standards will be improved by this legislation. We're always looking for that kind of improvement.

I find it interesting to see what the reaction to Bill 54 has been. Marnie McCall of the Consumers' Association of Canada has said, "If companies are supervising themselves without some government role, that goes too far." Bob Kerton, the association spokesperson on regulatory issues, said that the legislation "seems to have been designed behind consumers' backs." He also said: "There's a long history of industries trying to gain self-regulation to get control over their own markets. It's called economic capture. It lets you keep out the foreigners, raise prices and lower standards." That's the end of his direct quote. He's concerned that inspectors who are in part answerable to the industry they're inspecting might be less aggressive about insisting on repairs of minor defects or reporting minor incidents.

The industries affected by this legislation, as we would expect, are supportive, claiming that safety will be improved and it will lead to lower costs.

I look at the entire thrust of the government in this field and I become concerned. When the Minister of Northern Development and Mines stood in the House to say he was going to put Colonel Sanders in charge of the chicken pen, in other words, that he was going to put the mining industry in charge of the environmental aspects of mines instead of the Ministry of Environment, I became very concerned. While there may be very good people in the mining industry, they were in many cases reluctant to become part of the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. Anybody who knows these old mine sites knows what a mess can be left that ultimately has to be picked up by the grateful taxpayers of the country when these horrendous cases are found and there has to be a fixing up of those sites.

Therefore, when I see the government move in that direction -- I hear the Minister of Environment on many occasions say, "Well, we have to be more business oriented" -- I have found in that particular case -- it doesn't happen in every case -- if you let them loose, they'll do exactly what they want.

The good industries, the good corporate citizens, are asking you to take some action because it's unfair to those good people who see their competitors, because they are breaking laws, because they're not adhering to regulations, because they're not following the policies that are accepted in the province, making a greater profit than those who are doing so. In fairness to those companies I believe it's necessary for government to carry out that role. The Ministry of Environment is just being demolished at this time, in my view, and will not be able to carry out that responsibility. As a result, the polluters will end up as kings in the province. It's going to lead to problems.

I know the government side thinks that's fine because that'll let business loose, "We've got to give business a break and so on," but in the long run the taxpayers of the province, through various funds that will have to be established, will have to pay the cost of that lack of regulation by government. I think you need strong laws, strong regulations, strong policies and independent people to be able to enforce those, people who enforce them fairly and enforce them strongly, and I'm not convinced that all of the moves contemplated within this legislation called the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act are positive in that direction.

Some may be. I talked to the people from the real estate industry, and the people in the real estate industry are quite strong in terms of their organizations within communities. Naturally, it is in their interest as well as the interest of the consumers to have their membership operating appropriately, and they have a lot of people who are able to carry out those responsibilities in various municipalities.

I don't know if the same is true of the travel industry. I don't know if they have associations that are as strong, as sophisticated and as capable as, for instance, the real estate industry is. I'm not putting them down to say that; I'm just saying I think it's a more diverse group that you have there and one that's not quite so powerful. We have seen in years gone by -- and this is why we have the regulations. People say, "Where do we get all these regulations?" We got them because -- I'll make up a name -- Sunshine Co of Canada collapses. It collects all the money from people who are going on a trip somewhere, I suppose to a spot where the sun shines in the wintertime. When they go to leave on the trip, that's fine, but when they get down there they find out -- guess what? The hotel wasn't paid for, the trip wasn't paid for, and they're out of luck and scrambling because the company has gone under.

I don't know whether this bill can solve that. There's been a fund that has been set up. Government regulations worked pretty well in the last few years. I know the Davis government understood that when they were in power. I was just speaking the other day to a former Deputy Premier of the province, Bob Welch, complimenting the Davis government and saying how I was pleased to see -- he asked, of course, where all my compliments were when they were sitting across from me in years gone by, and I said I had forgotten on that occasion but I had recalled now how in comparison their government looked interventionist and on the side of consumers.

So I look at that area as one where I wonder if that's going to be the case. I know they'll come to the individual members when the company collapses if there's not sufficient self-regulation.

I suspect in the real estate industry that won't happen because, as I say, they have a strong organization in each community and across the province, so I suspect they would have the ability to carry out this responsibility.

I've always worried about pressure vessels. It's been one of my concerns in this province, because pressure vessels, if they are not properly inspected, can cause considerable damage and perhaps even death.

Elevating devices certainly are very important, and I always thought it was nice to have the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations' signature on there so that when the elevator didn't work, we would have somebody to be held accountable; in this case my good friend Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton. His name is now on there, and I felt safe and secure seeing the minister's signature on the elevator, whereas I don't know, if it's somebody who is in the business or perhaps attached to the business, if I would feel as comfortable as I would with Norm Sterling's name on the elevator.

Of course, amusement devices -- I've always wondered how you define an amusement device in this province. I don't think I'll get into the detail of some of the amusement devices I think have to be regulated. But they are the ones, I suppose, at the Exhibition, where you have midways and things of that nature. I guess they're amusement devices. We've had some unfortunate accidents over the years even with government inspection, and I become concerned that if the government gets out of the business altogether, we're going to see some unfortunate accidents taking place at the various midways and fairs that we have around the province, and surely we wouldn't want to see that happen.

I don't see this as a sinister bill in that it's going to take the government out of everything, but I see it as part of the trend of this government, trying to take the government out of what I think in some cases is the legitimate role of the government. In other cases the government is moving out of certain roles where it's not necessary, and I don't think that's wrong. In other words, I don't stand over here and observe everything the government does and say, "Well, that's wrong and that's bad for the province." I like to be objective. It's difficult in this House, of course, but I like to be objective when assessing these, and I would hope the government would proceed with some considerable caution in this regard. Certainly, if this is leading further to when we get into the Ministry of Environment and Energy and further deregulation, I would be extremely concerned about that.


I go back to the fact that I know it's vogue today to say, "Let's get rid of all regulations." I'll tell you something. I've talked to some people in business and they've explained some regulations that are silly and need removal. I'm glad the committee the government set up has looked at some of those and said, "Does it make sense to continue doing this because we did it in 1940, or because before we had certain electronic or computerized equipment, we had to do it?" That makes sense. I suggest to you successive governments have done that, except they haven't had a press conference and a major announcement about it, but they have been doing it as a matter of course over the years.

I remember for years we used to debate whether we would have the Pregnant Mares Urine Testing Board. I don't think that exists any more in the province. We had a debate over that. Some of these have disappeared. Some of these regulations have fallen into the background, sometimes with necessity and virtue.

I also look at hydrocarbon fuels, something else that's been on my agenda for a long time. I worry about those.

Motor vehicle dealers: One of the areas where we have conflict between consumers and those who sell products has often been in the case of motor vehicle dealers. One of the reasons for that is obvious. Many people -- probably the majority of families in our province -- have a private automobile, or perhaps more than one, and have contact on an ongoing basis. If the government's going to get out of that business, I think we're going to see a lot of complaints coming to the individual offices of MPPs who will find that in this case the government may have been the best to do the regulation. I'm not suggesting the people there wouldn't try to do a good job; I'm not convinced it's as easily done by people with a vested interest as it is with the government which is, in this case, objective in its defence of consumers.

Wholesalers and cemetery operators: I wonder about cemeteries, whether they can be operated appropriately without government intervention. I know you're going to try it. The bill will pass and perhaps, in fairness to the government, we should watch to see how it works out, whether we can manage these cemeteries without the objective intervention of government.

I wish you well. I don't wish you malice in this. I wish the government well in this experiment. I express concern about the trend, the direction in which you're moving, and I express genuine concern about some aspects of this legislation. But it is not our intention, as they used to say, to filibuster this bill, to speak from now till midnight or from now till the end of the session on this particular piece of legislation, because we have other debates which will affect even more consumers and individuals and may be of greater importance than this particular piece of legislation.

Good luck with it. If it works out well, I know you'll applaud yourselves. If it doesn't work out, you can rest assured that the opposition will be kind enough to raise those matters in the Legislature at the appropriate time.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? Further debate? Does Mr Flaherty wish to wrap up?

Mr Flaherty has moved second reading of Bill 54. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Mr Turnbull: I believe we have unanimous consent to defer this vote until after question period tomorrow.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed then, unanimous consent to defer the vote? It is deferred.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 59, An Act to provide Ontario drivers with fair, balanced and stable automobile insurance and to make other amendments related to insurance matters / Projet de loi 59, Loi visant à offrir une assurance-automobile équitable, équilibrée et stable aux conducteurs ontariens et à apporter d'autres modifications portant sur des questions d'assurance.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): Just to complete the remarks which I began the other day, before the adjournment I was speaking about the nature of the system and the need for balance between the tort system of compensation for the victims of automobile accidents and the no-fault system. I had noted that the no-fault system was not a new concept in Ontario; it has been with us in Ontario since 1972. It is within that context of long-standing tort compensation and no-fault compensation that the government approaches the reform of the automobile compensation system, bearing in mind at all times the tension in the system between appropriate compensation, be it in tort or in the statutory accident benefits for victims of accidents, to be balanced against the control of premiums.

In the Liberal legislation in 1990, Bill 68, there was a verbal threshold that was established that prohibited persons from claiming compensation in tort, be it for pain and suffering or loss of income or any other compensation, if they did not meet the "serious and permanent" requirements of that verbal threshold law. The difficulty with that law in practice and in reality is that it took away the right to full income compensation, so that if someone was unfortunately injured through no fault of their own, or only partially through their fault, in a motor vehicle accident and they suffered loss of income, to the extent their loss of income exceeded the no-fault benefits paid and they did not cross the threshold, that meant that they were not made whole, that they did not receive their full loss of income, although this had happened to them, they were victims and it wasn't their fault.

That was considered to be an inequity, and I think most fairminded people would consider it to be a very important inequity if one is off work through the fault of another in a motor vehicle accident and doesn't have full compensation for the loss of income, which of course affects the ability to pay one's bills, pay the rent, pay mortgages.

It got worse in 1994. With Bill 164 the former government, the New Democratic government, did something that had not been done in any modern western society; that is, it took away totally from victims of motor vehicle accidents in the province of Ontario the right to sue for economic loss. That has only been done in nationalized, state-run no-fault systems such as in the province of Quebec, and not the province of British Columbia. The member for Welland-Thorold spoke at some length the other day about the system in British Columbia. Let's be clear what that system is: That is a tort system with a single insurer, namely, the Insurance Corp of British Columbia. It is not a no-fault system. This Bill 164 system that came into force January 1, 1994, truly created a dramatic inequity, taking away the right to sue for loss of income so that a victim could not recover their loss of income in tort, regardless of threshold.

The new law, Bill 59, which has been introduced and which we debate now at second reading, accomplishes the goal of balance between tort compensation and no-fault compensation. To the extent to which an innocent victim of a motor vehicle accident has a loss of income, that loss of income, to the extent it exceeds the no-fault coverage, will be recoverable in tort without the victim having to get over some sort of artificial threshold concerning the nature of the injury. This is of fundamental importance in terms of fairness to victims of motor vehicle accidents, and reasonable-minded persons looking at this system who understand it realize that this is a fundamental equitable reform that is necessary to put the system back in balance.

The other important accomplishments of this new legislation will be to get away from huge increases in weekly income benefits which resulted in huge increases in premiums and to get away from so-called rehabilitation clinics, some of which of course did excellent work and were properly run, many of which were in business simply to be in business, without tremendous concern for whether anybody was getting rehabilitated or not rehabilitated through their services.

We had the unfortunate experiences of persons being able to profit from motor vehicle accidents because of an overly generous no-fault scheme. The system was out of balance. So for the first time in Ontario we had make-believe accidents. We had people jumping into cars after accidents happened so they could make claims for no-fault benefits from insurance companies. These cases are documented and on record at the Ontario Insurance Commission.

As I say, these things happened in the Bill 164 regime and unfortunately they continue to happen. The sooner Bill 59 becomes law the better, because it does represent what I believe will be a successful effort, for the first time in recent years in Ontario since the Liberal government decided to toy with the system in 1987, to balance the compensation needs of victims of motor vehicle accidents in Ontario both in tort compensation and in no-fault compensation, balanced against the need of all of us in the province of Ontario, where automobile insurance is compulsory, to have a reasonable level of premiums, to have premiums controlled to a reasonable degree so that all of us can afford to purchase adequate insurance.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? Further debate?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Madam Speaker, I would ask that I get agreement that we can share my time with the member for Renfrew North.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Crozier: Without question, auto insurance has been a long-debated issue in the province of Ontario. I had the opportunity this past winter to be on the committee that reviewed the government's draft legislation, and I want to say at the outset that I appreciate that the government did take this draft legislation to public hearings, because we've heard from many of the stakeholders on this issue. We were able to hear from consumers. We were able to hear anecdotal experience of claimants. We also heard from caregivers in the health care field, the rehabilitation field. We were able to hear from insurance companies and we were able to hear from the legal profession as well. So I think the issue got a good hearing this past winter in those days.

I want to say at the outset this evening what I said at the conclusion of those hearings. I thought it was one of the issues that we were able to listen to the stakeholders, debate the issues, and for the most part it was conducted in a non-partisan way. I believe all of us on those committees, with few exceptions, if any, frankly had the consumer at heart. We wanted to repair the insurance system in the province of Ontario.

Again, a lot has been said about Bill 68 when it came in, the Ontario motorist protection plan, and subsequently Bill 164, which I think at least we in the official opposition agree needed to have drastic change. This legislation, as it's being proposed, does just that.

I have to say I feel a bit vindicated, and I think we should, in that I've been told by many that this is really where Bill 68, the OMPP, the Ontario motorist protection plan, probably would have been had it been left in place and, through experience, the appropriate refinements made.

But as you know, over the last two years in particular and perhaps over the last three and four, we have seen significant increases in rates. That's really the bottom line, what the public is looking at. They're concerned that insurance rates have been escalating well beyond what anybody could reasonably expect and what they could afford. There were of course reasons for this. The benefit plan contained in Bill 164 was too generous, or more generous than it had to be for the average buying public. Therefore, the opportunity and the encouragement for fraud to enter the system was also, we are told, rampant.

What this really comes down to, I think, is that what the public wants is adequate protection, the opportunity to buy increased protection if that's necessary, and reasonable and fair rates.

When the committee reported, there were what you might call some dissenting opinions, and I want to share with you what our general concerns were with the draft legislation, and to some extent these general concerns have been addressed.

You will recall, I believe, Speaker, because you sat in on some of those hearings if I'm not mistaken, but in any event I'm sure you're aware of them, that at that time it was suggested by the industry that we would still face increases of from 8% to 10%; therefore, in the neighbourhood of from 30% to 40% over the next four or five years. That was absolutely unacceptable, and I think everybody who sat on that committee found that to be unacceptable.

We pointed that out in our dissenting report, and furthermore that we were of the opinion that provisions for OHIP subrogation and the presence of contingency fees would place further upward pressure on those premiums. We suggested there needed to be significant redesign of the draft regulations and the draft bill itself. I think that has been addressed. Mr Sampson, I know, has done a considerable amount of work with the industry since that time.

When I mention the OHIP subrogation, I want to point out something to the public that perhaps they didn't know, that there are considerable costs in the area of medical care that the public OHIP system was bearing the cost of. In this legislation of course there is subrogation; there will be the reclaim of some of those costs, we understand in the area of $80 million a year. I think that's appropriate. I don't think the general health care system in Ontario should take care of the injuries from auto accidents. That will add a bit of upward pressure on the rates that it has been suggested we will be facing in the near future.

Also, we still have some concern that contingency fees will have some pressure. We don't know what those are. I guess time will tell what they might be.

We also had a concern that the delivery of medical and rehabilitation benefits lacked serious control and that it would continue in this manner under the draft legislation. We suggested that further consultation with the stakeholders would seem to be necessary to address this significant area. I will have a few comments on those in a few minutes.

At the time of the hearings it was our opinion that the opening up of tort to the extent the draft legislation was allowing would also add significant cost to the auto insurance product, and since that draft legislation has been introduced, that also has been addressed.


We suggested at the time that there needed to be a fee schedule for medical and rehabilitation costs, with advice from the medical and rehab practitioners and the auto industry. It is addressed in the legislation that over the next short period of time there will be a consultation with the stakeholders, with the insurers, with the medical and rehab people in order to establish a fee schedule. It's our understanding that if the industry can't establish this fee schedule, the government will step in to establish one for them.

We have to be concerned that there be that balance between what the medical and rehab industry needs in the way of fees, what the industry can afford and yet maintain reasonable insurance rates, and what the government will accept as being reasonable as well.

I urge the government -- and I suggest they will probably want to do this -- that this be carried out as quickly as possible, because in the interim we're concerned that these costs will continue to rise.

We also felt that there should be a significant redesign of the designated assessment centres. As anyone who's had a claim knows, this is the step you have to go through as an injured party to determine the extent of the injury, and then subsequently an effective plan has to be put in place for treatment. That's where the magic is going to come into this. This is where I think we can make some of the greatest gains in a fair system, one that treats injured --

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: We have a very important piece of legislation here. We're talking about auto insurance, and I think it's very important that the government should have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Is there a quorum, clerk?

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Essex South may continue.

Mr Crozier: Gee, I lost my train of thought. I think I'm going to have to go back to the beginning. No, I think I was at the point of suggesting that one of the concerns in our dissenting opinion was that we needed to significantly redesign or perhaps, if we couldn't, to simply eliminate designated assessment centres.

It's strange: just a comment about that. I seem to recall that I was in Hamilton almost a year ago, at a meeting of insurance company claims personnel, and I think the Attorney General and I were addressing them at that time. If you will recall, I mentioned designated assessment centres and their value and almost got thrown out of the place. Isn't that the recollection you had? I seem to recall that the Attorney General was promoting almost an absolute return to the tort system. Anyway, I didn't think designated assessment centres were so very popular there, but I see they're still being left in the legislation.

Another area of concern was declarations of conflict of interest by health practitioners that should be filed with the Ontario Insurance Commission.

There should be a complete ban on referral for profit, that is, where injured parties could be referred by their doctor and/or their lawyer to a medical rehab centre that either of those individuals, or others who had some control over where they went to get their care, would have an interest in.

Permit insurance companies to access information on collateral benefits -- I'll go into that in a little more detail in a moment -- and implement measures to reduce fraud, as suggested by the crime prevention bureau. I want to comment on that as well. Quarterly reports by the Ontario Insurance Commission on all its activities should be tabled before the Legislature.

Let's go back to just a couple of those that I feel are perhaps more important than others. The one on implementing measures to reduce fraud suggested by the crime prevention bureau, I think the government has taken a great step in that direction. The plan for registration of vehicles that have been damaged in accidents previously, there's going to be a registration system for those. There's also going to be, I understand, greater cooperation between the Ministry of Finance, under whose jurisdiction this act is written, and the Ministry of Social Services so that someone can't collect from both. I think any area that we can get to the problem of fraud will be most welcome and we would support any government initiative on that.

A complete ban of referral for profit: I guess time will tell how well we address that problem, but it seems to be totally inappropriate for a medical practitioner, for example, to refer a patient to a rehab centre in which that medical practitioner has an interest. It's my understanding that under this legislation that medical practitioner will be required to make it known to the injured party that this is the case, then the injured party can make a decision that they go on somewhere else. I think this absolutely has to be controlled to the nth degree and I would prefer -- I can be corrected on any of this, obviously, if I'm wrong -- that you simply not be allowed to refer for profit.

The declaration of conflict of interest is addressed in the legislation.

The fee schedule: I'd like to return to that because it's absolutely imperative that the fee schedule that's established under this bill be adequate to cover the costs so that medical practitioners will give the finest care and be paid for it, but the fee schedule must also be seen to be fair to the insurance companies and subsequently the insureds who are paying for those fees.

That is one areas where experience will tell us whether we're right or wrong, and I would hope, for the sake of all the insureds in the province of Ontario, that is the case and that it will seem not to be putting too much pressure on the costs of auto insurance.


Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Are you in favour or opposed?

Mr Crozier: I'll come to that, and I might not even tell you that tonight. The member wonders whether I'm in favour or opposed. I certainly am opposed to the regime the way it is now and I'm opposed to the kinds of rate increases we've faced over the past few years. I suppose the extent to which I'm in favour of this may evolve over the next day or so in debate.

It raises an important question: whether I'm in favour or opposed. There's a lot of faith in this legislation. We are told that we can look for lower insurance rates; we can look for more stable insurance rates. In fact there are several leading companies in the industry that have said they will reduce rates under this legislation, but there are a great number of companies that have yet to comment on it.

The reason I think the paying public should have some concern is for example in the Toronto Star on June 17, where the headline says, "Third Insurer Plans Cuts to Auto Rates," but you have to listen carefully to what that insurer said. It was a vice-president of underwriting of this major company who said in an interview that his company would probably cut its rates by an average of about 6%. To me, it's the word "probably." That wasn't a quote; it was something that came out of the interview. There's a certain amount of doubt that goes with something that doesn't appear in quotation marks and that uses the word "probably."

The vice-president went on to say, and this is in quotation marks, "We will do it as soon as possible and we think there will not be a need for large increases in the future." To me, the key words there are "we think there will not need to be" -- it doesn't say implicitly that it will not need to be -- and it goes on to say that they would do this "as soon as possible." I don't know whether "as soon as possible" is within the next six months, within the next year or within the next two years. All I'm saying is that there's a lot of anticipation out there that these rates either are going to be reduced or that they will stabilize.

We've faced insurance increases over the last two or three years in the range of 12%, some people 15%, some people 20%, so we have insureds in the province of Ontario who have seen increases in their rates of anywhere from 15% to 30% over the last few years, yet we have insurance companies saying, "We're going to give you a 5% decrease." The risk of Bill 164 is not there any more. "You raised my rates by 25% over the last two years. We're now beyond that concern. Gee, if I'm an accident-free driver and I'm no longer a risk, why don't you take my rates back to where they were before? Why only 5%?" Those kinds of questions are being asked of me.

There are insureds in the province who first of all don't really understand how rates are even arrived at. How many times, those here this evening who have been in the insurance business, have you had an insured come in for a renewal who says: "Gee, when my car was brand-new I paid $600 a year for insurance. My car is now five years old and my collision rates are still equal to or what they were before." I think that sort of thing has to be explained to the insureds, and it's going to be on the industry and on the brokers to do that.

These are the kinds of questions that are asked by the general public. Better communication with the general public will certainly help. The fact that some people's rates will decrease 4%, 5%, 6%, whatever they might be, but their rates have increase over 25% to 30% in the past few years, the industry should explain to them too why that is so. There may be a valid explanation; probably there is, but I think it's incumbent on the insurance companies to explain that.

As part of this legislation, I understand that the government is going to require insurance companies to give discounts to seniors. I think that's a good thing. The only thing is that in my experience most companies have already given discounts to seniors. In fact, the article I referred to suggested that company already gave discounts to seniors. It wasn't legislated. Seniors out there have to realize that and look closely at their policy, because if they've been receiving discounts already, I don't think they're going to get a further discount, or age discount as some of them call it, or mature driver as some of them are called.

I want to speak for just a moment or two about the ombudsman. We understand there is going to be the position of ombudsman at the Ontario Insurance Commission, and as well this goes through a bit of an ombudsman process before it gets to the Ontario Insurance Commission. The broker will be the first approach. The poor old broker is always the one who gets the first tag with it. The broker is the one who has to explain the rates to individuals. Then there will be a company ombudsman. Each company is going to set up its own ombudsman program, I guess.

Then in some of the information I got with the legislation there was a suggestion that there was going to be an overall, I think it was called, ombudsman program in the industry, and then finally, the ombudsman at the Ontario Insurance Commission. We hope this ombudsman position has some clout. We hope they're able to genuinely act on behalf of an insured who feels they've been poorly done by. We hope this isn't window dressing.

I've gone beyond the point -- I think when the legislation was first introduced I suggested there may be some lack of confidence in it if they have to appoint an ombudsman, but I was only speaking in jest then. I believe and hope the ombudsman will be able to genuinely act on behalf of the insured.

I want to talk about collateral benefits for a moment. I certainly again don't think the general public understands what collateral benefits are. I'll give you an example where a teacher was in an insurance program of teachers, and as a result of an automobile accident, was having to use up all the sick days that teacher had accumulated. They didn't realize that with any other insurance they have in the way of, for example, accumulated sick days, long-term disability, those kinds of things, the auto insurance only topped that up. That has to be communicated to the public so they understand how their insurance policy protects them.

When we speak of collateral benefits, it was a suggestion while we were in the hearings that insurance companies should have access --

Mr Len Wood: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We're dealing with auto insurance here. It's very important legislation. I think it's the responsibility of the government to keep a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): That's not a point of order.

Mr Len Wood: Mr Speaker, there is not a quorum in this Legislature to continue the debate.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you like me to check?

Mr Len Wood: Yes.

The Deputy Speaker: Would the clerk please check if there's a quorum.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: A quorum is present.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Essex South.

Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask that the member for Cochrane North in future take his shoes off when he's counting for a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.

The Chair recognizes the member for Essex South.


Mr Crozier: Thank you, Speaker. I seem to recall that one time about a year ago the Premier said he has trouble with numbers, so perhaps some of us in the Legislature have a little bit of trouble with numbers.

Back to collateral benefits. The insured public has to understand where their auto insurance policy falls in the order of what benefits will be assessed first. When we speak of these collateral benefits, I felt, and to some degree still do, although I have spoken to those in the insurance industry who have attempted to explain this, that as a single insured, compared to someone in a group, like teachers or any other group that may be able to buy a group plan, my collateral benefits should be taken into consideration. But we're told by the industry that this would cause too much displacement. That's probably another word the general public doesn't understand: "displacement." What that really means is that those who don't have any collateral benefits, any other kind of insurance, would pay an unusually high amount of insurance compared to those of us who have some collateral benefits on our own, that we have as part of our employment, or that groups have.

There seems to me to be a lot in the area of automobile insurance that needs to be communicated to the general public. The front-line people are the poor brokers; the brokers are going to have to do this. But certainly it behooves us who have some understanding of it -- and some have more than others -- that we explain this to the general public.

Also, I would like to make a couple of comments about the uninsured driver. We heard today in one of the questions to the Minister of Transportation what is going to happen in those cases where it's found that someone does not have insurance yet is driving their automobile. For the first offence it's going to be somewhere between $5,000 and $25,000. We have to get serious about this, and that's one way to do it. The problem is, if you can't afford auto insurance, chances are you're not going to be able to afford the $5,000 fine either. Probably the person will get a judgement against them, will go jump into their car and drive off into the sunset again until they're caught the next time.

We don't know for sure whether the percentage of those who drive without automobile insurance is 10%, 20%; we don't know where it is. But I think we have a sophisticated enough system in place that, rather than just waiting until that individual happens to be stopped by the police and the police then can check it -- I refer it back to the Minister of Transportation, who the day this insurance was announced said, "We're going to go out and take the plates right off your car." I paraphrase, but that's essentially what the minister said. I said to myself, "Why can't they do that?" If an automobile insurance policy is cancelled, the insurance company could notify the Ministry of Transportation and the ministry could mail out to the individual and say, "You have 10 days to either provide proof of insurance or bring your plates in." If it goes beyond that time, I guess there could be some kind of procedure that would follow up and try to track the individual down.

The real problem here is not getting the driver off the road, because it's the vehicle that's insured. What we have to do is get the plates off the car that's not insured to make sure it's not on the road. I think we have the sophistication in the system to do that.

Last, I'd like to comment a bit about the Facility Association. We have been told by the government that a lapse in coverage will no longer be a reason that someone would be placed in the Facility Association. I say to that, the real reason for the four points for lapse of coverage that we understand were put there in the first place was so that someone who was high-risk could not move out of the system for a short period of time, be it a month or two years, and then move back into the system in the standard insurance.

But I applaud the suggestion that those with legitimate reasons for not having insurance over a period of time -- for example, if they were out of the country; perhaps they were out of the country on government service -- will be able to get back into the standard market. There are others. I had an example in Essex South where a mature individual, an older individual, had simply neglected to renew the insurance. I think it should have been incumbent on the broker to track that person down, but in any event, there were no accidents. This person probably didn't drive that much; it was a senior.

I appreciate the fact that people like that, with legitimate reasons for having lapsed insurance, will be able to get back into the standard market. We still have to address the problem of those who got out of the standard market simply to avoid it. And anything we can do to depopulate or further depopulate the Facility Association will be appreciated by many in the province.

I've covered some of our concerns. We continue to have concerns. Certainly this is a huge step away from a system right now that is absolutely broken. I wish I could get some of those on the government side who, during the hearings and subsequent to the draft legislation, have told us that this is really OMPP as it would have been had things been left as they were originally -- I know the Premier, for example, on a couple of occasions has commented on that. I think he told the NDP government, in a quote in the Toronto Sun in July 1993, "Tory leader Mike Harris accused the NDP government of trying to fix something that isn't broken.... `For the last two years, we've received next to no public complaints about auto insurance'." That would lead me to believe that in the Premier's opinion, the OMPP, Bill 68, was not a bad piece of legislation. Certainly it needed some improving, and even this legislation may need some improvement over the next few years.

Also, the Premier, the then Tory leader, back in 1990 when no-fault was first coming in, said: "I don't believe in no-fault. The name offends me. I was brought up to be responsible for my actions. I think the court system and the lawyers are necessary to protect victims. I'd take a look at the repair industry and the car industry." And he went on.

I'm glad to see that the Premier has changed from 1990 to 1993 to say that the tort system isn't the only answer. He even went on to say that he felt Bill 68, the Ontario motorist protection plan, at that time was not broken and that over time would have been improved, I'm sure.

I point out as well in this legislation that there is a time limit of two years during which we will look at the legislation, see how it's working and fix those parts that may appear to need some adjustment.

My friend from Etobicoke has left. I hope I haven't given him too much notice to this point of whether I support it or not. If it doesn't stabilize and in fact decrease rates, it will have fallen short, but I certainly think it's a step, and a good step, away from a system that was in terrible trouble.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to thank my colleague the member for Essex South for giving me an opportunity to address some of my concerns and those of my constituents with respect to the bill currently before the House standing in the name of the Minister of Finance, and represented here tonight is the minister by the putative minister, the member for Mississauga West.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Am I a putative one?

Mr Conway: Oh, there may be a vacancy in Mississauga these days, according to some press reports.

I want to say to the parliamentary assistant that by all accounts, he has done yeoman's service in a difficult area. Unlike his colleague the Attorney General, who looks sage-like from his seat on the treasury bench, I don't profess to have a detailed professional experience and involvement with the insurance industry. I have not been a trial lawyer. I have not been an insurance broker. But I am a consumer and I represent a lot of consumers in rural eastern Ontario, some of whom are not only known to but related to the parliamentary assistant. It is from that perspective that I want to address my observations tonight.


Let me say at the outset that insurance is a service, a commodity unlike most others; it's certainly my experience. It has an importance that is obvious. I represent some 70,000 people, most of whom must drive a car or a half-ton truck to get to work. There is no Mississauga Transit; there is no TTC or OC Transpo. So the importance of transportation and meeting the legal requirement of carrying automobile insurance is obvious and extremely important to the people I represent. Quite frankly, given the way the industry has behaved in recent days and months -- I want to get to that. The behaviour of some parts of the insurance industry over the last two or three years is just unbelievable -- not all bad, to be sure, but behaviour that is just extraordinary given the fact that we are in the 1990s.

But my farmers, my loggers, my small business people, my retail clerks, tell me quite often about their concerns about automobile insurance. They know that at this point there does not appear to be any magical solution. My colleague the member for Essex South touched upon the efforts of previous governments in this respect. In fact, in preparing for tonight's comments, I went to the library to just remind myself of some of the work that's been done over the last 25 to 30 years in Ontario about the subject of automobile insurance.

I was struck. I remember some of this, but it's just stunning for me to read that as early as 1965 the then Robarts government received the so-called Osgoode Hall study on compensation for victims of automobile accidents. This is Ontario in the early 1960s, which some would say were truly the good old days. Just quoting from this report, this study of automobile insurance in Ontario in the early 1960s "analysed the adequacy of compensation under the tort-based system with a view to establishing a set of statistics which could be used in the development of auto insurance reform."

The Osgoode Hall study of 1965 had as its most significant finding that 57.1% of those injured in automobile accidents received nothing under the tort system and only 63.1% of those who did receive some compensation recovered all of their economic loss. That was 1965. And on it went through Osborne and Slater and the select committee report on company law, to the so-called Liberal reforms of the late 1980s and Bill 164, about which much complaint has been offered in this place and elsewhere.

Bill 164 had some very serious problems. I remember well attending a couple of days of hearings and I thought the case that was being made against 164 was a very strong case. Of course, it has to be understood that it was a product of the context, as our good friend Tom Walkom writes in that wonderful book, and I was just re-reading that before coming in tonight, Rae Days, the chapter called "Revenge of the Pink Ladies." It's the story of George Cooke, S.A. Murray and the insurance lobby and a very, very successful campaign to stop the Rae government from its decades-old commitment, that is, the decades-old commitment of the CCF and NDP to public auto, and got 164 as a substitute for what it is that generations of democratic socialists and social democrats in Ontario said we needed to have, which was public auto.

I must say, I live on the Quebec border. I've got some experience with the régie and the Quebec plan. Ontario is certainly not Quebec, but there have been days in recent years when I wonder just who's been running the better system. It was not always so, but certainly in the last few years even the lawyers in my town tell me, "You'll probably get better treatment with the régie and the Quebec plan than you will get in some parts of Ontario."

In my area again, I've got constituents, research scientists at Chalk River, military people at Petawawa, who often spend some considerable amount of time outside of the country. To hear their stories about their unexpected trip into the Facility because of the break-in-service condition that has been much complained of --


Mr Conway: The putative minister says, "And it will stop." I'll come back to that in a moment.

That some of this behaviour has been even imagined as being possible is extraordinary. This is 1994, 1995, 1996. I know the industry was upset with Bill 164. They had some understandable complaint, but to take it out on consumers the way some in that industry took it out on consumers is unbelievable.

I say to some of my revolutionary friends across the way that we have spent some considerable time in recent weeks and months talking about a new order of things, but it is a new order that applies to everyone. I think there are some in corporate Canada who haven't yet figured out that this now attaches to them as well. My best example in recent months was the Rogers cable scheme of a year ago -- November, December 1995. There were actually smart people who thought they could get away with that. They didn't. But there have been insurance companies getting away with much worse in the last two or three years, and thankfully, from their point of view, the evil was sufficiently diffused around the province that it didn't come together in any focused way like the Rogers problem focused.

But I can tell you, to the insurance industry -- I've spent some time in recent weeks and days talking to some of my constituents who are brokers, who certainly believe in the world of private enterprise and free enterprise. How have these insurance companies, the big ones, Economical, Royal, Dominion of Canada, Zurich, been behaving? Let me tell you, their behaviour is apparently quite something, rather like a Toronto humidity -- much more easily felt than seen. But I'll tell you, these people who have been talking to me, who are no fan of some socialist scheme to develop a state-run plan, are not very impressed by the behaviour of some of the big insurance people doing business in Ontario. I say to my friends, undoubtedly this is just a passing phase, this will not continue. They're not at all sure. Some of these people have been in this business a long time and have had several years and several decades to monitor this behaviour and have found in recent months and years that the behaviour of the big players has changed, and not for the better.

Mr Stockwell: Under?

Mr Conway: Under conditions of the last few years, and for whatever reason.

Mr Stockwell: Ten years.

Mr Conway: My friend wasn't here, but you can go back and read some of the previous case law if you want. This is on your watch. This apparently is going to solve all the problems. Trust me, I hope it does, because my constituents would want me to say that they are for a plan that works more efficiently than the one that's been in place for the past number of years.

I remember back in the early 1980s, again, to talk about the insurance companies, boy, they couldn't resist the temptation of becoming bankers. When those old interest rates soared in the early 1980s, boy, those insurance companies with their cash flow, they just couldn't resist.

Mr Sampson: Who wants to be a banker?

Mr Conway: My friend the putative minister says, "Who wants to be a banker?" I'll tell you, the insurance companies couldn't resist in the early 1980s, and let me tell you, their distractions in the early 1980s produced the problems of the mid- to late 1980s when they found, of course, that they had, like Sears Roebuck, left some of their main business and some trouble started to develop. Rates started to shoot up, and yes, did the public's attention become focused.


Mr Stockwell: Sean, you had a plan.

Mr Conway: My friend opposite says we had a plan. It was amended by the previous government, and now you've got a plan. We will see.


Mr Conway: The putative minister, in a not too subtle fashion, says that his is a plan of great range and depth. I will defer, in a good parliamentary way, to his self-effacing modesty, but we will let time tell the tale.

I know, because of family circumstances, how the old plan, pre-OMPP, worked. I have a brain-injured cousin who is the victim -- and there were days I wasn't sure where the greater tragedy lay: in that horrible accident that killed some of her university colleagues or the wonders of the old tort system in the 1980s. God forbid that it was me who was going through that with a family member because, I'll tell you, what my aunt endured under that system was just outrageous. It may be the only outrageous case -- I rather doubt it -- but I've got very personal family experience with the old system that, let me tell my friend the Attorney General, left a heck of a lot to be desired. My friend from Etobicoke says the Liberal plan is not as good as this plan, and I will be the first one to say that if this is the New Jerusalem, so let it be.

But I'm not here to blame politicians either, because we are in a difficult spot, all of us. I think there are some behaviours that have got to be addressed, recognized, disciplined. I think there are some consumer behaviours that are positively outrageous. The number of my friends -- I shouldn't maybe say friends. The number of people I know --


Mr Conway: I want to be very serious about this, because I've had enough of this, and I think I speak for a lot of people: the number of people who think that just because there's some insurance coverage, anything goes. It's astonishing to me that these people exist, and they exist in legion, as far as I can tell, as consumers and as providers. I, for one, have had it. I am sick and tired of going to medical specialists and going to a variety of other people and the only thing they want to know is what kind of third-party coverage I've got.

I just want to for the record say there are some responsibilities that attach to all of us as citizens that we've got to recognize in terms of public policy and there are some apparently inherently bad behaviours that have got to be recognized and dealt with accordingly.

It was observed a few -- I guess it's now 18 months ago. One of the I think good initiatives of the 164 legislation was the so-called designated assessment centres.

Mr Sampson: Good idea.

Mr Conway: I agree with the putative minister, it is a good idea, but I guess it didn't strike anybody that the opportunity for conflict of interest was just writ large. One of the problems I have with the current bill, which I think has a lot of good intentions, is that I'm not yet persuaded that the government or we as a Legislature are going to be sufficiently tough and bloody-minded to go after those interests in the community that will not necessarily be the consumer interest or the public interest.

It is astonishing to me that people are prepared to engage in the kinds of conflicts of interest under the very nose of the Insurance Commission, under the very nose of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, under the very nose of the community, and not apparently take a second's pause. Good intentions are, in my view, not enough. We are going to have to have enforcement provisions, or at least penalty provisions.

It reminds of the NHL. Did you ever see a bigger joke? You get that thug, Claude Lemieux, doing what he did to that Detroit winger, and what does the NHL do? Two games. What a laugh. That's Claude Lemieux saying, "Anything goes," and Brian Burke and the NHL brass saying, "We agree." I'm becoming more and more impressed by non-verbal communication.

I just hope the government makes it very plain that some of the conflicts, some of the creaming off that some very powerful interests in the community -- and I don't mean to single out the medical business only. There are people in industry, there are certainly some people in the bar, there are people in the auto repair business, to name but three others, and too many people, in my view, who take the view that if insurance is paying, it's free and that's the end of it.

I want to also say something about the industry in respect of some of their other behaviour recently. I'm glad the Attorney General is here, because I've had some experiences over the years. I've spent a fair bit of time in an automobile, as some of you have heard me say before, and I, as my friend the Attorney General knows, am no saint. I have unfortunately had speeding tickets, of which I am not proud, but I'll tell you, I've had some personal experiences recently that are just breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. I'm sorry to say to the Attorney General that my advice to any of my constituents now around these matters of automobile insurance is -- and I would not have given this advice before -- investigate and sue and litigate at every turn. You cannot afford not to.

I live in the Ottawa area. Our major regional daily is the Ottawa Citizen, and they have a very popular columnist that I know the putative minister has met, Dave Brown. He writes a column in that paper on a daily basis about a lot of things, many of which touch on general consuming interest. I was talking to Mr Brown earlier today.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Brown's Beat.

Mr Conway: Brown's Beat is the name of the column. I thank my friend from Ottawa Centre. He told me today that in all his years of writing columns for the Ottawa Journal and the Ottawa Citizen, no columns he's ever written attract the level of interest and response that his columns of recent months around automobile insurance have engendered. I'm not surprised, because there is out there a growing number of people who have extremely legitimate grievances about the way they've been treated. I'm going to mention just a couple.

The Farm, the Facility: I hope George Cooke and the people at Zurich and the rest of the minister's acquaintances are listening to this, because I got so angry a few weeks ago, I went to the Insurance Bureau and I said, "We'd better have a meeting, because I am going to stand up and say some things that you're not going to like." They were very courteous, and I left the meeting more perplexed, in some ways more angry, than when I got there, because of course they weren't really denying or countering much of what I was suggesting. Now, they did provide me with some interesting information. But I want to come back to the Facility.

Most people in the province rightly believe that you only end up in the Facility if you yourself have done something that is reasonably serious. As I remember the reconstruction of the Farm, the Facility, a couple of years ago, that was clearly the intent. If you read the happy little bulletin that is provided, "You're in the Driver's Seat," you would certainly get that impression.

That is manifestly not the case, because there are some in the insurance industry, and I repeat "some," who have behaved outrageously. They have been dumping people into the Facility, who in my view ought not to be there, on the basis of their so-called four-point plan. I just can't believe, as somebody who does believe in the market economy, that anybody in 1996 would imagine they can get away with this kind of outrageous behaviour.

I come back to what I said earlier. I'm not here saying that all consuming attitudes and all consumer interest are to be accepted at face value. I know from personal experience that consumers are going to have to change some of their behaviours as well. But Dave Brown in the Ottawa Citizen has recited a number of specific examples of where I think by any objective standard people who have not committed any egregious misconduct have none the less been tossed into the Facility, and many of them can't figure out how they got there. They don't understand that this four-point risk index or system is an internal industry system that is not legitimized by law. They have no idea about how uneven is the application across the insurance industry of this four-point plan.


I raised a specific example with the Insurance Bureau and they said to me: "Oh, well, didn't you know? That's not a particularly good company these days." Let me say to the minister, let me say to the House, no, I didn't know that, and some farmer, some retail worker in Renfrew county, would have no way of knowing.

Let me repeat for the benefit of the Attorney General and the member for Mississauga West, the parliamentary assistant responsible for financial institutions, I want more than Bill 59 indicates to make me believe that the kind of behaviour we've seen from some insurance companies around the Farm, the Facility, is going to end. I'm not at all persuaded that some language in the statute is going to make some of these characters change their ways. When I hear from some of my broker friends about some of the conduct of the big boys and girls, I'm even less persuaded that a general hope, a leap of faith, is going to be adequate to make these folks feel that it is a new day and they should change some of that behaviour.

I just say again -- and I didn't bring in the cases that have been brought to my attention, but hundreds, probably thousands, of Ontarians have been run into the Facility for no good reason. They have been ripped off, they have been abused by some in an industry who are damn lucky that the general public hasn't figured out the game they're playing.

We're quick in this chamber these days to talk about "those welfare bums" and "those shirkers." Well, what goes around comes around. When somebody sitting in Toronto or in Cambridge or in London decides for no good reason to nail some poor constituent of mine with an increased tax, really, of $4,000 or $5,000 or $6,000, I've got to tell you, you've done something that I think is quite unjust, and I want to say during this debate that that kind of behaviour, as Mr Brown has been writing about in the Ottawa Citizen, and as others -- and as I said, when I went to see the IBC, they weren't willing to contest much of this beyond saying, "There are some good people and there are some bad people in this business." My question remains: So how does the consumer learn these things?

I learned something from the IBC and I brought it along with me tonight. I thought, "I wonder how many people in Ontario know this." To digress for a moment, one of the concerns I have is, how do you make a market work in something like insurance? I want a market to work, but as a consumer who owns a house and a cottage and a car and few other things, I watch the way this market works, and boy oh boy, I'll tell you, it's really something. I want the market to work, and I am not going to operate on the belief that the trial lawyers and the rehab specialists and the plutocratic interests that run big insurance are going to, in their every instinct, concern themselves first and last with my interest as a consumer.

My impression, to be perfectly frank, about the insurance industry is that what they want is my premium revenue and they don't want to hear anything else from me. That's basically my experience, and that's the way I want to have it. I want as little to do with them as they want to have to do with me. I'll write the cheque for however many thousands a year to meet my requirements, and I will file no claim for anything that is not catastrophic. In fact, one of my own little consumer instincts lately is, boy, jack up those deductibles. I want them so bloody high that maybe I'll get a little bit of relief from some of this chicanery. But that's basically been my impression: "Pay your premium and be quiet. If we start to hear about you, you are in trouble."

So how do we make a market work, those of us who are interested in making a market work? I think there are a couple of ingredients, a couple of policies that would be useful that are not now there, and I don't mean this as a criticism necessarily of the government alone, because I think as citizens and as consumers we have some blame as well.

But back to my point. I went down to the IBC, and they were very good. I must say, I was prepared to be ugly; I wasn't as ugly as I can sometimes be. Anyway, they trotted out this little document that somebody has prepared. I just assumed it was the Insurance Bureau. I think it is. Everybody in here should have this, if you haven't. This is basically how cars measure up and what you need to know, and some of you probably do know this. But God help you, if you buy any of these vehicles that have got red colouring, you're paying a real premium on a premium.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): You don't want a Camaro?

Mr Conway: The member for Lambton says, "You don't want a Camaro?" You apparently don't want a Camaro, you don't want a Mustang, you certainly don't want one of those Jeep Cherokees.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): How's my Buick?

Mr Conway: I'm not prepared to laugh about this, because too many people are getting screwed, and they don't know it.


Mr Conway: Now the minister is getting sensitive.

I then started to look at the report of the Ontario Insurance Commission because, you see --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Another useless body.

Mr Conway: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale says that it's a useless body. I don't know that --


Mr Conway: I see some of the people I know, some of the people there. Boy, I see a couple of familiar faces, and I don't now mean the commissioner either.

But this is very, very useful information. I've gone around for the last couple of weeks trying to find consumers who know anything about it. I can't find any. I'm not blaming the government for this, but I'm going to tell you, as a consumer I need to know much more of this kind of information. How do you think a person feels in 1996 to walk into an industry association with a complaint on something we legally require? This is not optional.

The poor old minister of highways is in a tough bind. He's over there faced with certain kinds of behaviours that are not very heartwarming, and I've got some sympathy for him. He's going to bloody well clean up this situation, and these cowboys who drive without insurance are going to be dealt with. Obviously, we all have to support that, but you support that on the assumption that there is going to be sane, rational and fair behaviour on the part of the other player: the private insurers who are supposed to meet this market demand. On the basis of some of what I've heard from some of my constituents, I'm going to tell you, I think a lot of people, if they've been treated that shabbily, would have some cause to think about perhaps behaving in a way that none of us would want.

I dare say there are a goodly number of people in this room who, if they were treated like that -- I've had an interesting experience recently where I thought the behaviour was outrageous, but when they found out who lived at 545 Herbert Street, Pembroke, oh, did the behaviour change. Doesn't that make you feel good? If you're Morley Kells or if you're Sean Conway or Charlie Harnick, "Oh, well...."


I'm not too naïve, I don't believe, but on the basis of the case studies that have been brought to my attention over the last few months and years, let me tell you, there are behaviours that are going to have to change. There's one ingredient that I do not see in this policy. God, I hope Vernon Singer isn't watching -- he probably is -- because I came here the day he unrolled the Ombudsman for Ontario, Vernon Singer's revenge on 35 years of Conservative rule.

Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): I wish he would come back and unroll it.

Mr Conway: You know what, Morley? You're right. You're absolutely right. The thought that an Ombudsman someplace is going to solve some of these problems I'm sure will excite a political scientist someplace who will write a very interesting PhD dissertation on how it all works. But the fact of the matter is, when I read the report of the Ontario Insurance Commission, and then I read some of these press accounts of how people are being treated, I think, "What kind of benefit are many of those consumers getting for the millions of dollars we're spending with the Ontario Insurance Commission, good people that they are?"

I say to my colleagues in the government that there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to have to look at this industry and we are going to have to insist on a far more aggressive dissemination of information on the basis of which consumers can make reasonable judgements. It's not there now, and I don't see any prospect of it developing. When I read some of this material, I think there's a good money-making opportunity here for somebody to do a kind of Ralph Nader consumer handbook in Ontario.

Mr Beaubien: Where's the Toronto Star?

Mr Conway: A good point, I say to the member for Lambton. In fact, maybe it will be a consumer reporter at someplace like the Star, because I've got to tell you, when I shop this around to my constituents, they are interested; and they are a heck of a lot more interested when you tell them about the premium on the premiums they are paying, in most cases unknowingly, because they have just gone out and bought something that the thieves like and now it's going to cost them effectively 35% more in premiums.

It was interesting when I looked at some of the press reportage of Bill 59. Mind you, it changed. I was chuckling the other day when I looked at what Zurich said back in March; it was terrible, absolutely terrible. This guy Sampson, for all his stellar qualities, had developed a package that was going to drive up the rates. I brought the clipping. I chuckled; they were really concerned. Zurich said back in March or April, I think it was, they thought the rates would be going up by 7% or 8%. Now we find, magically, that Zurich is offering a reduction.

Interjection: What a switch.

Mr Conway: That's right. Again, if you're sitting there in Willowdale or Mississauga and you're reading this, you see Zurich, a big player, saying in March, "Oh, it's terrible; this licence to near open-ended tort is going to drive up costs, and premium increases of the order of 7% or 8% are absolutely a given." Two months later, one of the biggest players in the game is saying, and in fact has already offered, if the bill is passed, that rates are dropping by 5% on average.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I wonder why.

Mr Conway: I wonder why.

Mr Sampson: Take a look at the difference between the two bills.

Mr Conway: The minister says, take a look at the two bills.

Mr Grandmaître: Because I cancelled my four policies.

Mr Sampson: You want us to listen; we listen and now you complain.

Mr Conway: I think the minister is just too sensitive. My concern here is for the --

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): He is always grumbling about something.

Mr Conway: Listen, I thought you'd be spending your time worrying about the Whitby hospital.

I want to say to my friend from Ottawa East that he might feel confessional at some point and tell his story, because if it's the story he told me a few weeks ago, I don't think I'd want to be an insurance company trying to explain those kinds of behaviours.

I just say again that when I look at what this bill does, and if I think back to those days in 1991 when Bill 164 was being debated and then enacted, what were the complaints? No question, the accident benefit package was too rich and it was going to drive rates up significantly. In fairness to the industry, I think the OIC makes that case in its most recent report. If I look at their data from Ontario, 1992 through 1994, that seems to have been borne out by the experience in the first two years of Bill 164 having been in place.

But now, I say to my friends in the business, if the current Ontario government reduces the benefit entitlement by the order of magnitude proposed in Bill 59 -- wow. Think about the opportunity to offer discounts. Five per cent? A mere pittance. Personally, I like the idea of being able to buy a basic package and then insure beyond that point. I like that and I suspect the $400 rate is certainly going to address most of the concerns of many of my constituents, people I represent. The evidence that the $1,000 entitlement was apparently just too sweet an inducement for those people out there prone to bad behaviour -- and I don't just mean consumers; I mean providers as well.

Back to my point about the so-called direct assessment centres: I gather the parliamentary secretary had quite an interesting encounter in the last few months as he went about meeting that new business, that new industry that developed post-164, particularly the rehab clinics and others. It's a very dynamic marketplace out there and I'm under no illusion. For every action, there will be a reaction.

But coming back to my main point, if I remember the criticism levied at the Rae government over Bill 164, the bulk of it was: "These accident benefits are too rich, they're going to drive everything to a stratospheric level." The OIC data suggest that there was certainly a very real pressure.

Bill 59 is going to substantially amend that possibility downward. So I say to Zurich and Dominion and Economical, 5%? Oh, that absolutely is just the beginning presumably. As a consumer I find it vexatious that I cannot go someplace -- and I don't consider the Ontario Insurance Commission the place for it -- to have somebody give me the straight goods on who's making how much in this business. You know, some of these people who have been crying poor in the last few years, their profit and loss statements don't look too bad in some cases. I'm not sure in all cases, but there are some cases -- well, I see the putative minister of justice nodding in the negative. I'd like to see some independent analysis about what's now in the reserve pool.


Let me just say this: When the banks report $1 billion in profit, no one where I come from expects the profit is really a billion bucks. The reported profit is a billion bucks. And so it is with insurance companies. I'm perhaps from Missouri, a little dubious, but I would really like to get some independent assessment of what's been going on with the reserves, how they've been calculated. Some in the current government say this old maxim of electricity policy: "Power at cost." Yes, but how do you calculate the cost? Similarly, I'd be interested to see someone far more expert than I evaluating how those reserve funds are in fact being accumulated and discharged these days.

I repeat the statistic I used a while ago. Thirty years ago an illustrious panel concluded that 57% of accident victims in Ontario got nothing from the tort system of that time. I want to take a moment with my friend the Attorney General.

Mr Beaubien: Now, be easy on him.

Mr Conway: Listen, I can say some things that others can't, and I'm very fond of the Attorney General. He came here in 1990 like one of the -- was there not a Toronto sports team called the Toros? It was a WHA hockey team. I remember the mascot was this bull with this red fire emitting from his nostrils. That was Charlie Harnick in 1990. Ol' Charlie is a protest movement becalmed, and why wouldn't he be, with Bill 59? You know, Charlie came here -- a popular fellow instantly. He was balanced and sane on all matters except the role of trial lawyers and auto insurance. I mean, Murray Elston was -- I won't say the word that comes to mind -- the devil incarnate. It was palpable, his upset with what Elston and those Liberals had done to automobile insurance and most especially what they had done to limit the involvement of the legal profession.

I think Charlie had a fund-raiser the other night. I suspect if the place wasn't overrun with lawyers who used to do business in the insurance sector, they are ungrateful beyond words. We have now a return to some measure of tort, not yet decided. I've been through these debates before. As I say, from family experience, it is a bad word, it is a horrible memory, and I don't hold it out as any great salvation.

I was struck, when I was preparing some material tonight, by -- this is an interesting little booklet put out by something called the Insurance Information Institute. It's a pro-industry lobby in the United States, but I actually found it to be not a bad piece: "Auto Insurance: Critical Choices for the 1990s," by some fellow named Sean Mooney, PhD, CPCU -- that's got to mean something important. But there was just one little piece of statistical information, and this book was published in 1989. I'm just going to read one paragraph.

"Because no-fault has resulted in fewer lawsuits, taxpayers realize significant savings in court costs and other public legal costs. According to former Chief Justice Warren Burger, every jury trial tort case costs American taxpayers approximately $8,300 in court and other related costs."

It just struck me as an interesting reference.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): Is that US?

Mr Conway: US funds -- real money. If Stockwell were here, real money, he'd say.

But I say to the minister of justice, who faces constraints we all know about, if we are going to have, as I suspect we will, some considerable activity -- and I know my experience recently, and I'm telling you, I will not change this advice over the course of the next few months. My experience recently in one case out on Victoria Park -- I feel totally contaminated by a complete, transparent fraud. When I complained to my insurance company, of course it was de minimus: "Oh, we haven't time for that." And I was stupid enough to let it go. Never again: Sue, litigate, contest. If I had to tie up the traffic on Victoria Park for a weekend, I'd do it. I would not leave there without a Metro cop or some other neutral party to report, and then I would just march down to the nearest court and fight. My experience -- despite the rhetoric, despite the calm assurance, the reality has been quite to the contrary.

That may change. The minister-in-waiting would say, "Yes, but when 59 gets fully implemented, it's just off to the races." I was here three years ago when the then government gave us similar assurances. You might say, "They were socialists and what would they know?" But those kinds of assurances have been offered before. I'm simply saying that by opening the door, as we are now, to tort, we are certainly going to attract and encourage more business for the courts.

If Warren Burger's number is to be believed, that seven years ago the average cost to the American public was $8,300 for every jury tort case, I can imagine what it is going to be in 1996 or 1997.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): He's going to cut the juries.

Mr Conway: The former Attorney General behind me says something about he'll cut out the juries. Perhaps that will be the case.

The people I represent, when it comes to insurance, want the following: They want to know that they are going to have available and affordable insurance that is going to meet their needs and the needs of their family. I recognize that the current régime is not working, and it is malfunctioning in some of the very ways that people far smarter than I predicted it would malfunction a few years ago.

I was again struck when I was reading -- I say this for the benefit of the House. We've been through so many iterations, as the bureaucrats like to say, of this policy, but it's only seven or eight years ago that the following was the package of benefits you received in Ontario in terms of accident coverage: The no-fault benefits prior to the Liberal bill, Bill 68, were $25,000 per person for medical and rehabilitation costs excluding OHIP payments; income replacement benefits of up to $140 a week for a maximum of two years; death payments of $10,000 for the death of the head of a household; and funeral expenses of up to $1,000.

That's where we were seven or eight years ago. We have certainly come a contorted distance in the intervening eight or nine years. But I say to the parliamentary assistant that my constituents want, as I think everyone wants, available and affordable coverage that is fairly explained and generally available. I repeat again that while there are many good people in the insurance business both locally and centrally, there has been enough bad behaviour by enough bad actors in the last number of years -- and it may be as one of my friends in the industry says, "Well, we are just so angry about 164 that we've got to take out our frustrations," a very interesting approach to the consumer.

I've seen enough and I've experienced enough in the last little while that I want more than this bill offers in a couple of critical areas. There is a real dearth of consumer information and I experienced it myself in the visit I had to the Insurance Bureau. Some of the good material that's been developed is still gathering dust in government offices and in insurance office towers. It is not anywhere near a general dissemination in the hands of people who need it.

The policy in Bill 59, however well intentioned, in my view lacks a bite. I want a bird dog who is going to do more than some effete ombudsperson who will look from a mountain top and well after the event say, "Wasn't it all so terrible?"

The consumers are going to need more in the way of information and protection against some enormously powerful, well-resourced people who have shown a real inclination to behave in a way that is at variance with both the consuming and the public interest.


I'm not any longer prepared to accept some article of faith that if you just let the market operate, it will solve the problem. I believe in a market economy, but this is insurance. This is a commodity unlike most other commodities. There is a mandatory quality to it, there is a mysterious quality to it, there is a complexity to it that we are not yet addressing in terms of the consuming interest.

I thank my colleagues tonight for giving me the opportunity to express some very strongly held views that I and many in my part of rural eastern Ontario feel about what has gone on, what is intended to go on under the aegis of Bill 59. In the absence of our good friend from Etobicoke West, like in most things in life, the proof of this pudding will be in the eating, and I think we are going to be some months away from being able, on the basis of that digestion, to offer some kind of assessment of whether this policy will meet the objectives that have been widely heralded for it.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? The member for Willowdale.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I listened with great interest to my good friend the member for Renfrew North's speech about auto insurance and I think it's quite clear that at the end of the day he's optimistic that the policy of auto insurance that the member for Mississauga West has delivered to the Legislature is a well-rounded package, because quite simply, there has been very little criticism in the member's speech about the actual policy of auto insurance that is being proposed.

One thing I do want to talk about that my good friend made mention of is the issue of insurance company accountability. One of the ways that insurance companies have traditionally been held accountable -- and I need only quote Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate -- is through the area of tort law. Tort law has been the magic, the stick that has made insurance companies accountable. Bill 164 reduced tort law and took tort law out of the system virtually for every person, and insurers no longer could be held accountable.

Bill 59 brings back, to a degree, an element of tort law, not nearly the amount of tort law that the member for Renfrew North talks about. It brings back tort law to the extent that every litigant can claim for their economic loss beyond the point of the trial date, their future economic loss, their loss of earning capacity.

So when my friend made very specific mention of children --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Thank you. Further questions or comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Another outstanding speech by the member for Renfrew North on a matter of great concern to many people in this province. I'm wondering whether in all of his remarks -- I caught most of them but not all of them -- he was able to assess the effect of all of the provisions of this legislation on Progressive Conservative fund-raisers and just who would be in attendance. I was thinking that there would be a large number of people from the insurance industry, and certainly now that we have tort back, we would have a significant number of members of the legal profession who would be there, and perhaps others. I was wondering whether the member had a chance, in the short period of time he had, to address those issues, because I think the debt of the Progressive Conservative Party might well be addressed simply by this piece of legislation, if not some of the other regulatory and legislative changes taking place.

I was wondering as well if the member dealt with certain practices of police forces which may be, some would interpret, more inclined to make money rather than to actually bring safety to the highways of the province. They are on a campaign at this time to deal with dangerous drivers, which I think is commendable; that is, those drivers who are changing lanes rapidly and driving in a reckless manner. I was wondering whether the member had a chance to deal with those who would be sitting in unmarked police cars around corners, like the Georgia state police, so that they could be earning money for the coffers of the province, as opposed to getting the genuinely bad drivers off the road, and whether he thinks perhaps this present blitz will help to bring about safety on the highway, as opposed, as I say, to sitting in vans and waiting for people to go by at 2 o'clock in the morning at 112 kilometres an hour.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): It's interesting listening to the two Liberal members speak on this issue. I must confess I have yet to figure out whether they are going to support this legislation or oppose it, but I'm sure that will come in time.

It is interesting looking as to how this whole issue developed. It developed back in the late 1980s. There was a dirt bike accident in Brampton, I believe, if one of the members from Brampton is here. The Peterson government got all panicky, quite frankly, and developed the Ontario motorist protection plan, OMPP. Ironically, of course, the dirt bike case was appealed and was reversed.

Then we got into Bill 164, which was pure no-fault. It was no one's fault, absolutely no one's fault. Under that system there was no access to the courts for economic losses and, as a result, some no-fault motorists were receiving more than those people who were at fault. At the same time, the premiums started to double. Double-digit increases were something that were just generally accepted. So people have become terribly frustrated. We have almost had a system every other year.

I would like to congratulate the member for Mississauga West for all the wonderful work he has done in developing the government policy and leading us through the hearings. I certainly believe, as do many in the industry, that this legislation will be successful. We have heard very little criticism about it, other than from some of my friends on the Liberal side, although they may well support it. We don't know where they're going to stand with respect to this legislation.

We believe that the reintroduction of tort will act as a deterrent to negligent driving habits and will have a positive impact on the premiums of good Ontario drivers. You should be responsible for the problems that you cause.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for Renfrew North.

Mr Conway: Let me just say, in my canvass of the literature both in Canada and the United States, the literature is replete with informed concern about whether or not tort is going to provide the kind of benefits the two members from Willowdale and Caledon have raised in their comments. If I were a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, I don't doubt that I would be making those assertions, but the reality is the literature in both Canada and the United States makes plain that tort is, on the basis of the analysis, far less likely to produce the kind of benefits that particularly my friend the Attorney General suggests.

I'm not going to rethresh the old straw -- and I see the would-be Attorney General from Whitby becoming more vigorous in the negative. I'm simply saying that's what the literature suggests. Who am I to say that people more knowledgeable than I, who know this better than I -- the other observation I would make is that through the 1980s in California -- and we were going through troubled times in Ontario in 1977 and 1978 -- California, New Jersey, in many of the big American states, certainly throughout New England, it was a very major issue.

This is not a problem that was developed because of a motorbike accident in Brampton. There were cases certainly in the late 1980s that caused a lot of concern, but they were not the cases that drove the California electorate to a mandatory rollback of rates by a factor of 20%. If you look at the experience in some of the other big industrial states, there were very real consumer concerns about what was going on in the marketplace with automobile insurance.

I conclude my remarks by saying that I think the government policy, while it has some good ingredients, while it certainly has some good intentions, is seriously deficient in terms of public protection of consumer interest around information and adjudication of conflicting special interests that are going to be unleashed by virtue of Bill 59.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I appreciate the opportunity tonight to put a few thoughts on the record regarding this piece of legislation. I assure you it won't take me too long to do that.

In my conversation with the folks out there about this legislation, and there certainly are a few who are concerned and interested, the overwhelming sentiment is that they want it to work; they really do. They're sick and tired of the way insurance is delivered in this province changing every other week, and they finally at some point in time want a piece of legislation that delivers insurance at a cost that is affordable and that then produces a result, which is protection for people who get into accidents, who get hurt, so they can get on with their life, correct whatever loss has occurred and get back to normal again.

I suggest to you that the big factor around people's satisfaction with this will be the cost. It will be the major determining factor. It's too bad that this is going to be the major factor, and in some instances the only factor, in whether or not people see this as successful, because the delivery of insurance is a more complicated and sophisticated exercise than that and has all kinds of ramifications for all kinds of people. I think it's important to share with the House for just a second my understanding of what's gone down over the last four, five, six years in this province as we've tried to grapple with the question of how we deliver auto insurance and how we provide a service to people under the auspices of auto insurance in a way that delivers the results everybody wants.

The Liberals brought in a package we were quite critical of that nevertheless was based on a philosophy we understood and were willing to accept -- no fault -- so that whoever got into an accident didn't have to wait for an eternity to get some resolution as to what the damages were and what the cost was going to be to them. They could get the money they needed to get their car fixed and themselves fixed and get on with their life.

When we got to be government we took a look at that package and, while we didn't go ahead with what everybody out there expected we might do by way of public auto insurance, we made the package that was in place a lot more just for everybody concerned. We raised the levels. There were some automatic payouts that people got for various and sundry injuries in the Liberal package that we felt were not generous enough when you considered the cost of living and what people lost by way of the accident. To try and come closer to the actual cost, we increased the amount of money people got. We did not get into the area, as this piece of legislation has done, which made it more costly in the long run to everybody, of returning the system to the courts and the reintroduction of tort.

Now we find ourselves back in a situation where it is again going to be very costly for people. I suggest to you that because of that it will be expensive and we will see increases in premiums. We will see an increase in the cost of insurance to the people of Ontario. Under the ever-less-regulated environment that we find ourselves in today in Ontario, the insurance industry will find ways to make its money, make the profits it has become accustomed to making, and then some, in spite of the fact that there will be tremendous costs to the industry itself, as well as people in general, by way of the changes that are being made in this piece of legislation.

It's interesting; business has a way of doing that. You'll see for a time a particular industry moving along, fairly stable; prices are fluctuating a bit but not tremendously dramatically. We see that quite often in the petroleum industry, where gas prices will stay relatively stable and everybody will breathe a sigh of relief and feel that maybe there is some stability that has come into place and we won't see major increases in the cost of gasoline. We all sit back, we relax and then, wham, overnight the prices go up five, 10 cents a litre and more. We saw it recently in this province; as a matter of fact, across the country. I was talking about it today on my way down to Toronto from Sault Ste Marie, as we noticed the decrease in the price of gasoline as we came closer and closer to Metro.

I suggest to you that we will probably initially see some relaxing of the cost of insurance in this province under this new legislation because the industry is, for the most part, fairly satisfied with this package. They certainly want to support the initiative of this government, which is seen by them to be more supportive and friendly to them. They will be doing everything in their power to try and make this legislation work initially, unlike what they did when we brought in the changes to the legislation when we were government and we saw the outrageous increases in the cost of insurance for no other reason except to improve the profit margin, the bottom line, for the industry. Because all of the analysis that was done by the people we brought to the table in trying to put together that package indicated to us that it wasn't required, but you know, as industry has a way of doing, no matter what it is that we look at, the bottom line is the be-all and the end-all.

There may be stability from time to time, for a week or two or a month, or even sometimes six months or a year, but ultimately, in the end, bang, we get increases and it costs us more. I suggest to you that is what is going to happen under the auspices of this piece of legislation. That's unfortunate because, as I started out to say in my comments this afternoon, the people out there -- and I sat on the committee for a day when it came to Sault Ste Marie and I listened to victims of accidents, I listened to the ordinary person in the street who needs to buy insurance, I listened to the brokers who came to the committee. They all said the very same thing: They want something that's going to work, they want something that's going to be in place for a while, they want something that's going to stabilize prices and they want a package that's going to deliver to them ultimately, if they get into an accident, that assistance they need to get their life back to normal, to get their vehicle fixed and to get well if they're hurt.

I suggest to you that it won't be long before it becomes obvious that under this legislation the industry will come in again and, with the attraction that's there now for lawyers to become involved as tort becomes a central part of the insurance business again, it will cost. It will cost all of us in increases in our premiums and it will particularly cost those people who, after getting into an accident, have to then prove in the courts whether or not they were guilty. Unfortunately, the ones who will hurt the most in this are those who can least afford it -- the poor, who will not be able to afford the lawyers, and when they can afford a lawyer, they will not be able to afford the best of lawyers, as the industry will. The ordinary Ontario citizen out there who is really genuinely hoping that finally this piece of legislation is going to do the trick for him will find that at the end of the day it will not.

We will be back to the drawing board again. As some of my colleagues have said who spoke to this legislation previously, when we get back to this again -- and invariably we will, when it is us who are government -- there's lots of appetite there now and there will be, particularly then, to revisit the whole question of public auto insurance again, because when you look at what has happened in places like British Columbia and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, you need not look any further to realize and to understand that that has in it some of the features I think everybody here is so desperately trying to find.


With my colleagues in this instance I will not be, when it comes to a vote, supporting this piece of legislation. I hope the folks out there will understand why I'm not going to do that, and the reason really is that I don't think this is the piece of legislation that will give us what we're all looking for, which is some stability ultimately in the insurance industry, some reasonable assurance that prices aren't going to escalate and some guarantee that when we do get into an accident the insurance we have will cover us adequately for all of the costs that have been incurred.

Thank you very much, Speaker. I appreciate the time and I will pass it on now to somebody else.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I am probably one of the few in this House who has the level of insurance experience that everybody else is talking about. I was an executive with an insurance company for a number of years and since then an insurance broker, although I no longer have --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kitchener, if I could just clarify, are you doing your speech or the two-minute question or comment? Two minutes? Okay, sorry. Continue.

Mr Wettlaufer: Start the clock again, Madam Speaker. I have lost some time.

The Acting Speaker: Go ahead.

Mr Wettlaufer: It's important, I think, to realize that automobile insurance is not an easy subject for anyone to comprehend but, as an insurance broker prior to my selling my interest in my business, I spoke with my clients many, many times. I represented my clients, as any insurance broker does. The insurance broker is the one who understands the needs of his or her client. Nobody here is talking about, other than the member for Mississauga who has brought forward the legislation, what the consumer needs, what the consumer wants.

It is very important to understand that the consumer wants decent return in benefits but doesn't want to pay an arm and a leg for them, and that is what this legislation is designed to do. It's a compromise piece of legislation. It's designed to balance need against price, something that neither of the two previous governments were able to do over the last six or seven years. I know; I had to sell those products. I had to try to be the intermediary with the client and the insurance company at the time of a claim, and let me tell you, there were all kinds of problems as a result of those pieces of legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: I just want to thank the member for Kitchener for sharing with us his own experience in the insurance industry. Certainly I respect his level of involvement and understand his concern re this piece of legislation. As I've said in the few thoughts I put on the record, people like him who are involved in the industry, who have delivered the products, who were brokers out there, were genuinely concerned about making sure that this industry stabilized.

A lot of the problem, I suggest to him, was not caused by the previous legislation. We really didn't get much of a chance to have that legislation unfold and mature and come into being. A lot of the problem, I suggest, was caused by the industry itself, and I'm not talking about the small brokers in communities like Sault Ste Marie, whom I met with on a number of occasions as we went through the development of the legislation that we brought into effect, who raised concerns and had some anxiety themselves about the delivery of insurance and that particular product.

They, like you, want something that's going to stabilize the industry, that's going to give people some level of assurance that the cost of this product isn't going to be out of the reach of the people they sell it to and that ultimately, in the end, what they have will protect them, will give them what they need by way of money to repair their vehicle and to make themselves and whoever else was hurt in the accident better again.

I suggest to you that when we get down the road aways with this piece of legislation, with the extra cost that the industry will incur and with the --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Order on the government side.

Mr Martin: -- again that we know the industry has for more money, that in fact it will not do the trick and we'll be back at this again at some later date.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): The world is an ever-changing place. Little did Nikolaus Otto know in 1876, when he combined a spark and vaporized gasoline to produce a series of gasoline explosions, that he had changed the course of history forever. He changed civilization, he brought freedom and mobility to the common person and, unfortunately, a great danger to our precious environment.

Nor did Henry Ford know when he adopted the mass production system formerly used by Colt in the manufacture of weapons that this form of efficient manufacturing would change our world for years to come. He changed our lives and gave geographical freedom to our citizens, from dropping off the kids at school to high-speed transportation that we have become reliant on. Our lives have become much faster paced and some would say more stressful.

The automobile changed our landscape. The network of highways across North America has brought our great country closer together. We take this for granted, but it was out of reach of citizens in days gone by. The engineers gave us the V-8, air bags, crush zones, anti-lock brakes and dramatically improved quality. The automobile demanded the best of engineering and it was delivered. However, we've had a much greater problem solving the social problems resulting from the automobile, among them the simple matter of protecting persons on our highways from damages and injuries resulting from the negligence of others.

I've sat here and listened to the debate and I've read Hansard for the last five or six years, and it reminded me of a story of the two ladies who were walking down the street and they came across a frog. The frog spoke to them and they were quite astounded. The frog said, "I used to be a minister in charge of automobile insurance reform and if you would kiss me, I will be restored to my former splendour." They were astonished, but one of them picked up the frog, looked around and then shoved the frog in her bag and walked off. The other one was wondering, "What's going on?" So she followed and said: "What did you do? Why did you put the frog in your bag?" and the first one said, "Are you kidding? A talking frog is worth a lot more than a former minister."

The rule of tort when applied to automobile damage did work for decades past. However, it became apparent that with the loss of efficiency in our court system, courts as the only solution became too expensive and definitely too slow to meet our needs. As the expense of the tort system grew, governments across North America acted to find solutions and a bunch of quick-fixes were made.

There were those who wanted to treat the symptoms and not the disease by capping insurance premiums instead of dealing with costs. Then there's public ownership, another quick fix. This permits governments to subsidize insurance premiums from government general revenues. Hide the problem, don't solve it. But this shell game eventually catches up with one. You can keep as many sets of books as you want, but eventually reality will set in.


Another panacea, total no-fault: Avoid the legal system altogether and set up entitlements based on need and not actual loss. The Liberal minister, the Honourable Mr Elston, on October 23, 1989, introduced Bill 68 with the following promises:

"These significant and important reforms will result in significant savings for the consumers. At the same time, the new plan ensures that anyone hurt in an automobile accident will receive higher guaranteed payments. By reserving the courts and reducing the amount of litigation in the system, significant savings can be made, savings which can be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower insurance rates and higher benefits. What we are proposing then is a new social safety net."

If these promises seem inconsistent and implausible, you are right, and they are.

The 1990 solution: The NDP government promised a new world, a nationalized automobile insurance program, a new panacea following in the footsteps of the Labour government of the UK and carefully nationalizing only those industries which lost money. However, on September 30, 1992, the Honourable Mr Charlton discovered that the NDP promise of a government-run system "didn't work very well," and therefore he introduced Bill 164 instead.

Automobile benefits were enshrined as an entitlement, not to compensate for actual damages, but as a reward. Substantial increases of entitlements to unrealistic levels ensured increased fraud and, more importantly, high insurance premiums, which became unaffordable to a large proportion of our drivers. Ontario became a place where people climbed into an automobile after an accident and not out of it.

The NDP refused to permit actions for economic losses, compensation for actual losses suffered by the innocent. The result: higher premiums every year, increased fraud, a new bureaucracy dealing with appeals, a growth of uninsured drivers, a point system used to force drivers into high-priced Facility coverage. You get a point for an NSF cheque, and I have yet to figure out and explain to my constituents what that has to do with their driving ability.

Ontarians want a system that is fair, that provides reasonable protection at a reasonable price. This legislation answers those needs. We are setting no-fault accident benefits at a reasonable basic level. Consumers, however, can top up their benefit rates if necessary; their choice. The consumer no longer has to buy a suit or dress that may not fit, a one-size-fits-all solution.

This legislation will ensure stable rates over the long term. Insurers will want to write insurance policies in Ontario. We are creating an environment for healthy competition and price stability. We are restoring the right to sue for the most important losses over and above the benefit levels. The new tort framework expands the right of accident victims to allow recovery of all types of economic losses of those seriously injured. A serious accident is a very difficult time for a family, and we recognize that with our bill.

We have been told that fraud and overcompensation by a very few drivers drives up the rates for all. We are introducing new measures to tighten the system and identify fraudulent claims. The insurance companies will now have the tools to combat fraud and inflated accident claims. The Ministry of Transportation will now be able to identify uninsured motorists through the use of new technology and data networking. This, I am sure, is welcome news to all in this House.

Consumers I speak to are very concerned about the skyrocketing cost of auto insurance. This legislation provides more information about cost and the setting up of an ombudsman to settle complaints. I am sure that this will be welcome news to those who have dealt with an insurance problem in the past.

Once again, we are listening to Ontarians and delivering what they have asked for. This government has consulted over a four-year period, meeting with over 100 groups and individuals involved in the automobile insurance sector, health care providers, the legal community, the insurance industry, consumer groups and advocates for the long-term disabled as well as average Ontarians. We are listening. This bill is a fair and balanced approach to a very complex problem and will serve our citizens well.

One of my learned friends made a comment about the taste is in the eating when it comes to pudding. I received my newspaper clippings and I noted that a third insurer, Economical Mutual of the region of Waterloo, in which Cambridge is located, has just announced that it will probably be cutting its insurance rates for automobile insurance by an average of 6%. I am pleased that they are joining the august company of Zurich Canada and Dominion of Canada General Insurance in leading the insurance industry to lower rates for the consumer.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? The Chair recognizes the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'm very glad to have a quick response to the member for Cambridge. Like many others in the House, I certainly hope that the proposals put forward in this bill result in stable or reduced fees. I know that in terms of my constituents there's a great desire that this take place, and also some other changes that I think need to take place.

I have a list of constituents who've written me and called me who are concerned about a number of things, and I would like very much to put some of the concerns they have on the record.

Bonnie Robinson: A member of her family was charged for following a vehicle too closely; no damage to either car but her insurance went up from $700 to $3,000. These stories are rampant of those people who by simply driving risk-free and accident-free for many, many years will have one altercation and suddenly their rates will go up to a remarkable degree. Clyde Baglien from Minot Street in Thunder Bay, another situation: A perfect driver for 40 years, had one incident and simply his rates went up again to an extraordinary degree.

Certainly the consumers and the people in my riding -- and I think there's no doubt it's the case all across the province -- are eager to see changes happen to the auto insurance industry that will benefit them, particularly those who have good driving records, records that deserve a break. There are extraordinary circumstances whereby certain people are literally forced to stop driving their cars or perhaps drive under suspension, which is something we don't want anybody to do.

I hope that we will get an opportunity as we are discussing it today in the House -- and I will be glad to put more names on the record. Mr Simon D.I. has a quite frightening story to tell in terms of his rates going from $1,600 to $4,200 a year, again simply by moving from one province to another. These are things that need to be rectified, and I hope that we are successful and that this government is successful, but I'm very concerned this may not be the case.

The Deputy Speaker: My apologies. Your riding is Port Arthur. Questions and comments?

Mr Sampson: I want to thank the member for Port Arthur for his comments and I also want to thank the member for Cambridge for his very eloquent delivery. I'm not too sure how I want to take that joke about the frog. I should tell him that I'm not an ex-minister. Heck, I'm not even a minister yet, but if the frog gets a good price, maybe there's a good end to that story. I'm not too sure.

We've heard a lot of debate so far this evening about auto insurance and what the consumer wants, and I should tell you that what the consumer wants is something we kept very close to us as we went through the deliberations and the preparation of this particular plan. Yes, the consumer wants reasonable protection for a reasonable price. There's absolutely no question about that. I think, as the member for Renfrew North has spoken to so eloquently, as he usually does, to some degree the consumer is going to have to take that initiative to shop very aggressively for his or her auto insurance product.

What the consumer also wants, in our view, is a stable product, something they can learn to understand over a period of time -- because auto insurance is a very difficult product to understand -- and be confident that the product is going to survive year over year.

I said in my opening delivery that it's not our belief that we have this plan perfect now. I think there will be some modifications required to make sure this particular plan, the basis of this plan will survive year over year so that Ontarians will be accustomed to a stable type of auto plan, they will know what it is they are bargaining for, they will know whether or not they're getting good value for their money and they will be adequately protected at a fair price.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm quite pleased indeed to join the debate on Bill 59 or, as it is called, the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act, the insurance act proposed by the government supposedly to bring some decrease or stability in the auto insurance premiums.

I was actually very pleased last year, right on December 12, 1995, to have had the opportunity of introducing to the House my own private member's bill dealing indeed with a number of concerns associated with the insurance --

Mr Patten: Is this your speech?

Mr Sergio: It is my speech, yes.

The Deputy Speaker: It's still questions and comments.

Mr Sergio: Still comments? I didn't see anybody getting up, so I took a chance. If you wish, I can carry on or --

The Deputy Speaker: You have another minute.

Mr Sergio: Sure. If that's the case, then I will use the extra minute to say that I have enjoyed the various debates which have taken place on this particular bill, all with respect to the pros and cons from all sides of the House, from the government side and our own side and the former government's side. I think it is giving us and the public, which is hopefully watching live, because it's not a repeated session of the House -- we are in the evening sessions for the next week or so. I hope they follow the situation with respect to auto insurance. I have enjoyed the various debates, pro and con, the government side and our own side, and I hope to add my own in a few minutes.

The Deputy Speaker: You'll have more than two minutes.

Mr Tilson: A few comments with respect to the member for Cambridge: He certainly gave an excellent summary of where this legislation is going, although I will say his jokes leave much to be desired and he'll have to work on them a little more.

But as far as the policy of insurance is concerned, we found that rates started to get completely out of control. In the New Democratic government, I can remember Mr Charlton standing in his place as the Minister of Financial Institutions and guaranteeing that rates would not go up, and of course we all saw what happened. Not only did they go up, but they went up in double-digit increases. So the public demanded a change. This was a philosophy that certainly was not working, was not going to work. People were being overcompensated; there was fraud. The system was simply something out of control. This legislation includes a number of features that will help to control those costs.

Accident benefits will now provide a basic level of protection based on actual losses, and this will ensure, as I indicated, that people will not be overcompensated as they are currently under the current legislation of Bill 164.

As has been indicated in the past by the member for Mississauga West, there will be new procedures for claiming no-fault medical and rehabilitation benefits, including a requirement to file a treatment plan.

With respect to tort, there has been mention of that, and of course access to the courts will be available for losses that exceed the benefits available from the no-fault schedule and collateral sources such as workplace disability plans. This will help to reduce the double-digit increases that existed under Bill 164.

Finally, there'll be restrictions on tort for pain and suffering and health care expenses that will prevent nuisance claims.

I encourage all to support this legislation.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Cambridge has two minutes to reply. Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Yorkview.

Mr Sergio: Thank you very much for giving me a second opportunity, Mr Speaker.

As I was saying before, I'm quite pleased to join the debate on Bill 59, or the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act, as it is presented and called by the government. The intent of the presentation of the bill was to stabilize the rates, the premiums for our insurance or, at best, bring them down somewhat.

As I was mentioning before, at the beginning of my two minutes, and following in the time I have left, last year I was quite pleased and, as a matter of fact, very proud to introduce to the House my own private member's bill with respect to automobile insurance. The debate on Bill 29 was on April 11, 1996, and unfortunately it did not receive the due attention it merited from the majority of the House.

What I was attempting to do with my bill, which by the way was called An Act to provide for Fair Automobile Insurance Practices, was rectify some of the ills with respect to the existing system that are really affecting, plaguing the industry today. As I was explaining in my bill, I was only trying to rectify a few major points. It was not aimed at solving all the evils associated with the insurance industry. I don't think this bill, as proposed by the government, intends to solve all the evils as well. As we both know, as Liberals we attempted to do that in the past. Now the government has been attempting to do that, and in my view I think we have failed the consumers very miserably again.

What I was trying to accomplish was simply some very logical problems that exist with the insurance industry today. One was the interruption or lapse of coverage for a period of time. Another was the occasional driver. A third point, and perhaps the most important, was the risk point system, which is an arbitrary system to determine or establish classification for automobile insurance.

All of these problems, none of which was brought to the attention of this Legislature or required the approval of this particular House here, no ministerial approval, no government approval -- and we saw it before. One of our members was showing one piece of material put out by the automobile insurance associations. It does say indeed, "You are in the driver's seat." It guarantees access to auto insurance and controlling your own premiums.

You have to open up the inside and read the real story. I should say that at the back of this leaflet here it says that this brochure, this information is sponsored by the Facility Association, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, members of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario and, I was quite pleased to learn, the member for Lincoln, former chair of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario.

I have to quite agree seriously with the member for Cambridge when he asks, "How am I going to explain to my constituents, people in my area, that they are being assessed one risk point because they have received a speeding ticket?" This is explained in here and this is all something that comes through to us, to the consumers, I must say, without most of their knowledge, as a gift from the insurance industry. It's not only five or 10 miles above the speed limit. This deals with if you have made the wrong U-turn, if you've been speeding in a school zone, if you've gone over the speed limit, you receive two risk points, and again this is something that is done totally unilaterally by the insurance industry.


How do we justify to someone who has been driving seven or eight years, let's say a college student or university student, who was barely trying to get himself through college or university years and hopefully enter the workforce, and then, when he finally accomplished that and now has been assigned to a job some 50 or 60 miles from home and needs a car and applies for insurance, when he finds the very unpleasant surprise that he's being treated as a brand-new driver?

Is there a recourse for that? Was there any approval from the government as to why events like this have taken place? Was the approval given to the insurance industry, to the various insurance companies, to do it unilaterally? Indeed they have given carte blanche to the insurance companies, the insurance industry, and a lot more.

The proposed bill, as it is in front of the House today, is simply a good attempt, a good intention of improving the existing situation. But as the creator himself, Mr Sampson, the member for Mississauga West -- it's not good enough. It did not go far enough. I still remember what he said with respect to my bill. He said: "Good points, very good points, good bill, but you know what? Since it doesn't solve all the problems associated with the insurance industry, we can't support it."

My bill was not trying to solve all the problems associated with the insurance industry. It was trying to rectify those major concerns, major problems, lapses with coverage or the occasional drivers or those associated with the Facility system, if you will, who are being thrown in there, with respect, when they receive a speeding ticket or fail to yield the right of way, stuff like that. Automatically they are being thrown into the Facility Association.

I sincerely hope that the proposal by the government will provide the insured people of Ontario in the long term -- in the long term, because in the short term I do not see it -- with adequate relief, perhaps even lowering some of the premiums, and that we won't have to see any more headings like this, nightmares in the insurance business. As we speak today, this continues to exist within the province of Ontario.

If the bill as it is presented is good for the people of Ontario, we should be asking ourselves the question -- and I believe this question is being asked by the people out there because this is how I came to propose Bill 29 to the House, my own private member's bill. It was because of the problems, because of the number of calls, because of what people were telling me during the last provincial campaign. We should be asking the question ourselves. Does this legislation, the amendments as proposed, make the system any better? You ask anybody out there, Mr Speaker, and I'm calling on every member of this House to ask their constituents, if the amendments as proposed today make the system any better, and the answer must be no.

Do the amendments or the bill bring more fairness to the system? The answer is no. Does this proposed new bill bring more benefits to the insured people in Ontario? Does it provide more compensation for less money to the people in Ontario? It does not. Does it do what it was supposed to do, what it was meant to do, why the legislation was brought in in this particular way with one specific purpose in mind, reduce insurance premiums and bring fairness to the insurance industry? The answer is a very resounding no. Bill 59 does not even mention attempting to reduce premium rates. It does not.

When we hear from some insurance companies today that they are lowering their premiums -- let me tell you that the people out there are no fools. I had 17 people in my office last Friday -- I usually reserve then to see constituents in my office -- and of course this was one of the topics we discussed. Not one could be fooled into accepting the idea that at the present time, while we are going through these particular motions here, the insurance company will be attempting to reduce 3%, 2%, whatever. But you know why? This is an exchange of a quick-passage approval of this legislation, nothing more, nothing less.

I don't have to give brand-new statistics to the House, because I think the members are well familiar with that. If I do, it's a question solely to bring again to the forefront the problems we continue to have and our people continue to have. Let me say to the Premier and the minister that our insurance in 1994 went up by about 10.6% right across, and an 11.3% increase in 1995. That was not prior to the election, with all due respect to my colleagues on the government side. That was in September 1996, well after the government was elected last June 8.

In May 1996 three companies -- can you imagine that? -- in May of this year, while the debate is going on, while the parliamentary assistant or deputy minister is trying to bring some improvements to the insurance industry or the system, three companies increased their premiums to as much as 9.9%. I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, if we really had at heart the interests of our people, wasn't the government supposed to say: "Hang on. We are in the middle of doing something, of changing something, of improving the system. How can you, in spite of that, go ahead and increase so arbitrarily by 9.9%?"

A couple of weeks ago this legislation was introduced in the House, and what did we see? One of the major insurance companies announcing that they have just increased their rates by eight point something per cent. This was on the eve of the government introducing their own legislation. That's what's missing. That's the problem with us. That's the problem with the Legislature, on both sides of the House, and I'm not bashing the government side. I'm saying so because now they have the opportunity to do something right for the people of Ontario. I'm not bashing the former government because I think it was a disaster what we had with Bill 164.

I think the Conservatives now have an opportunity to build on the good beginning of the Liberal proposal of some five years ago, take it from here and improve on it. But unfortunately, what do we see? We see again a government that's abdicating its duty and responsibility and giving all the powers to the insurance industry.


How can we go and say publicly that what we are proposing is good for them when we are not able to protect the people from arbitrary increases, that while this debate is going on we have insurance companies increasing their premiums? Why don't we have in the legislation -- and I'm asking this of the Premier, the minister and the parliamentary assistant -- some control where we can go to the insurance company, the insurance industry, and say: "Sorry, folks. You have to justify to us that you are going to increase by 7%, or 9% or 10%, and if you can't, we are going to roll it back"?


Mr Sergio: Oh, that's the old way of doing things. I can appreciate the member saying that.


Mr Sergio: Well, we have my good friend across the Humber River, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, first of all saying RIBO is a useless body. With all due respect, I think it has done an excellent job over the many years controlling the insurance industry, agents and brokers. We have one of the members saying this is a useless body, so let's disband it. I'd like to defend that body because I think it has done a heck of a good job trying to maintain some real stability within the insurance industry.

There are some 80,000 insurance people under the so-called Facility Association. Do you know what? I agree with a portion of this bill. Penalize. Let those who are really reckless drivers pay. Absolutely. If you can, get them off the road. I'd like to tell my friend the Minister of Transportation to come up with some stiff penalties for those drivers who day after day continue to abuse the roads and the system that is available to every citizen in our province. Go after those people.

But the funny thing is that too many people, thousands of people, good people, can't afford to buy additional insurance at a reduced coverage. They can't afford and they shouldn't be forced to buy extra insurance or be pushed into the Facility Association because of bad drivers. The system that allots the risk points is very arbitrary and unfair. With all due respect to the member for Mississauga West, it was not even attempted to do anything with it, which means that we leave it up to the insurance industry to carry on and do whatever it wishes to do.

I don't think it's very fair that if you are being charged under the Criminal Code with a criminal offence -- that's very serious -- you are accorded a four-point risk system, but if you receive two speeding tickets, you're treated the same as a criminal. What is the fairness in this particular situation? Do you know how many good drivers are caught in a situation like this? They are being treated as criminals, they are being shafted into the Facility Association and their premiums doubled and tripled. They are being treated as criminals solely because they've got a couple of above-the-limit -- seven or eight miles -- speeding tickets.

I would love you to talk to some of the insurance agents when they have to try to explain to their clients why their insurance is being doubled or why they have to move this client to a new company because now this company has refused to continue to insure this particular person because they have received two tickets in one particular year. I'm asking where the fairness is.

The legislation does not address all of these points. If we wanted to make the system really fair and we wanted to give some real protection to the people of Ontario, the government should -- there's still time -- rethink its position and say, "We want to have some control." As it is today, any insurance company can tell the Ontario associations that they need an extra 7% or 8%. They do not need their approval because it's not a regulatory body. There they have it.

Eventually, the insured people of Ontario will be saying, "We the people are the government and we should have some control, some mechanism to control the actions of the insurance industry." I hope that prior to the final debate on the bill and the vote, the government will see the light and hopefully make some changes.

Some of the most unacceptable parts of the bill are in the benefits themselves. Much has been said with respect to, "We'll give you the ability to sue." Big deal. Who the heck are you going to sue? If I can't afford to buy proper coverage, I can't afford to sue anybody. Let's not be silly, let's not be ridiculous. Perhaps we in here can go out and buy all the insurance we want, all the protection we want.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Not on our salaries.

Mr Sergio: Not on our salaries. But how are we going to tell someone who may be living on a low income, a single person, a single wage earner, that they are getting reduced benefits at the same premium and if they want to have the extra coverage: "Tough luck. Go out and buy it. Get as much as you want"? How are we going to explain that?

I'll have to ask the member for Cambridge. When he has a problem explaining to his people why he's being assessed two risk points for a speeding ticket, I'd like him to explain to this constituents as well how they're going to afford to buy extra insurance and receive half of the benefits. How can I genuinely go and tell my constituents that the long-term disability, which used to be up to $1,000 a week, now has been reduced to up to $400 a week and only -- Mr Sampson, I want you to listen to this -- if you're classified, if you're defined as totally, wholly, completely unable to work.

I wonder how many people are aware of this particular clause within your legislation or so-called Bill 59. Can you imagine telling the average Joe Worker out there, the single parent, single father or single mother, or whatever, that now they will have to go through a variety of assessments and be classified as totally incapable of doing any work to get a maximum of $400 a week for long-term disability? We call this an improvement? Really, do we have the face to meet our people and say this is an improvement? I don't think so.

If the government -- and again, I'm not saying this to bash the government side -- really wanted to do something and improve the system as it is today, the first thing it should have done was eliminate the 5% tax on insurance premiums which the former government established some three or four years ago. Why didn't they do that? They do not need the insurance industry. This could have been done solely by a stroke of the pen by the minister coming to the House and saying, "This is what I'm going to do." This would have been a wonderful thing. Now instead we are again at the mercy of the insurance industry, and when there is a slight chance, a slight occasion where we can do something for our people out there, we turn our back to them.

What we hear from some insurance companies is that perhaps they will reduce, one time only, some of their rates. It is so wonderful. Those people perhaps would make better politicians than us, because they can put it to us and to our people in such a nice way that makes me very mad. You know why? Because they don't say, "We are going reduce by 8%" or 7% or 3%. "We will consider doing some reduction." Isn't it nice that we have the vice-president of a very large insurance company saying, "Yes, probably we can do a little bit of a cut, but this does not say that in the future we won't have some large increases also." For heaven's sake, this is doubletalk, like slapping the people of Ontario twice in the face. On one hand they say, "We may consider doing some reduction," and then on the next line they say, "This does not preclude us from increasing our premiums by some large amounts." Again, I think our people deserve much better.


I don't want to go into the lack of jobs and unemployment and skyrocketing lines of unemployed people out there, but let me say one thing: We have to really get serious. When people say, "I had to sell my wife's car because we could not afford the insurance," or a young man says, "I had to turn down a job in Scarborough from the fringe of Woodbridge because I couldn't afford the insurance premium," why is that?

If I have time, I want to give you one particular example in which I expressed exactly the same point last Friday to a representative of the insurance industry in my office. He came to me and he said, "I'd like to hear from you what you have against the proposed Bill 59." We spent an hour together and I told him.

I said, "Let me tell you that last year I was parked in a parking lot downtown, opposite 55 John Street, while I was doing some business at Metro Hall. When I came out, somebody had backed into my car, so they did some damage. I went to my police station up on Toryork -- that's where we report the accident actually -- and I reported it and I got it fixed, whatever the cost was. Then, six months later, I saw my insurance premium going up some $850.

"Of course, I got on the phone and I called my agent and I said: `Can you please explain? It's the same car, and I had no problem.' She called me back and she said, `Oh, well, you failed to report an accident.' I said: `What are you talking about? I didn't have any accident.'

"After going back for about 10 minutes, she said: `You got your car fixed. You failed to report an accident you had in a parking lot.' I said, `Somebody backed into my car and I did report it.' I had to go downtown to the police station and get the record. Indeed, it was reported."

The end result, because my time is quickly running out, was that there was an increase: "We decided to have an increase and there's not much we can do." I cancelled and I found another insurance company for some $800 cheaper.

This is one example of many, and I wonder, where are the supposed teeth of the so-called ombudsman now which the legislation talks about? Where is the protection the people are going to get when somebody working from the Ontario insurance industry is appointed to supervise itself? Let's get serious. It's like appointing the manager of a bank to look after their own banking business.

Is this really the best we can do for the people of Ontario? I think not. I think we have to really delve into the matter, and I hope the government will, and say we've got to have some controls, we've got to have some protection for the people of Ontario.

My time is up, but the other thing is that seniors are now getting reduced rates. They don't have to put it in the legislation to make it look good. There are plenty of companies. There are banks offering reduced premiums for seniors now, so please, do the seniors a favour and be serious. The industry is already giving quite a reduction to seniors, so we don't need that in the legislation. What we need is some solid protection, some controls that we, as the Legislature, as government, can go back to the public and say we'll make sure that next year or in six months the insurance industry will not be able to raise the premium at will.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? The Chair recognizes the member for Mississauga West.

Mr Sampson: I want to thank the member for Yorkview for his kind comments. I know he spent a significant amount of time looking at auto insurance because he did bring forward that private member's bill in December, I think it was, to deal with the Facility.

I want to draw his attention to at least a couple of facts that I think he may have missed in his diligent review of the legislation. One is, he was speaking to the fact that one had to be totally disabled to receive $400 a week, but what he forgot, I think, in his review of the legislation was to focus in on the access one could use through the court system to claim economic loss in excess of the no-fault benefit, if there were one. While indeed it is true that under some situations, after a period of time, the disability payment is, maximum, $400 net a week, one always has, if they're not at fault or to the portion they're not at fault, the right to use the court system to resolve this dispute -- an action, by the way, that the previous government chose to take away; an action, by the way, that you folks on the Liberal side at one time had in legislation.

If you had it then, are you for or against it now? That's what I'm trying to get the sense of, and I can't quite grasp where you were on that particular issue. I just want to draw your attention to that fact.

The other point is with respect to seniors. The member says that our legislation is directing discounts for seniors. What he again fails to focus in on is that the current Bill 164 requires seniors to buy economic loss compensation in the form of a no-fault benefit up to $1,000 net a week, when they may not even have any economic loss. Bill 164 is saying, "I want you to pay all this money for something I know you'll never use." We've said, "Pay for something you'll use." That will benefit seniors.

Mr Gravelle: I also want to compliment the member for Yorkview for his remarks just a few minutes ago. He deserves a great deal of praise for the amount of work he's put into the whole question of auto insurance, and certainly there's a lot of work that needs to be done.

Again, I want to take this opportunity to mention some comments made by some of my constituents who are very concerned about the issue.

Alan and Susan Hall: After a 14-year, accident-free driving record, Susan Hall had two slight mishaps -- making an improper turn, which led to a minor accident, and a charge for going through an amber light. As a result, her rates jumped from $643 to $3,000 a year, the Facility level, which is extraordinary and just seems completely unacceptable. She also apparently had to sign a waiver that she would not drive her husband's vehicle.

Ed Stankey from Kaministiquia expresses great concern, as they all do, in terms of the fact that if you drop your vehicle insurance for one year and decide to go back to it, you then are put in the high-risk category for not having had insurance for one year. Mr Stankey, like others, goes on in great detail.

Alice Nugent from Crescent Avenue from my riding is very concerned about the factors by which they determine risk points. If you reach the four-point risk point, you're put into the category of being a high-risk driver again. There are so many elements that upset people, and they've given me great detail and I appreciate that.

Mr Alan Keeler, on County Boulevard from my riding, makes the point that the member for Yorkview made, that the 5% sales tax on insurance should be dropped, much as we recommended when we ran in the last campaign.

Back to Simon D.I. from my riding, whom I spoke of earlier: He makes the recommendation that accidents should be classified as minor, medium or serious. Under the current regulation, two minor accidents with little damage means a payout disaster to the driver in terms of an incredibly high insurance premium.

We have lots of constituents, lots of people in our province with many fine ideas and I'm certainly proud to be up here to represent them.

Mr Bradley: I enjoyed the last speech very much. I was monitoring it very carefully. The member was kind enough previously in the Legislative Assembly to use his private member's time on a Thursday morning to bring in a bill that dealt with automobile insurance -- a bill, by the way, that almost passed, except that the government members, of course, were not progressive enough to support that piece of legislation. But I did enjoy some of the problems that he brought to our attention and the fact that this bill doesn't address everything. He was complimentary where he had to be complimentary.


The member for Cochrane North was up in the House earlier urging NDP voters to get out in Hamilton East. He tried hard.

Mr Sampson: We know what happened.

Mr Bradley: No, he was. I'm not being provocative. He was urging them earlier to get out. The problem was that not enough people watch this channel during the supper hour. As a result, not enough were urged to get out and, alas, Ms Copps has been returned by a two-to-one margin in Hamilton East. But that doesn't have anything to do with the bill and you'll want to direct me to the bill and the speech that was made.

Mr Sampson: What does that mean about GST?

Mr Bradley: Well, I understand the Reform Party was second.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): No, no, the NDP was second.

Mr Bradley: Is the NDP now second? Well, thank goodness.

Anyway, a very good speech; it touched on many of the issues I want to touch on later on in the evening, if I get a chance to speak. The Attorney General is sitting there waiting for me to speak on this issue. I don't want to disappoint him. Perhaps closer to midnight I may offer a suggestion or two on this legislation.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Yorkview has two minutes to wrap up.

Mr Sergio: I'll take the two minutes quite willingly to thank the members who have taken the time to respond to my presentation on Bill 59 with respect to especially the member for Port Arthur, the member for Mississauga West, Mr Sampson, as well as the member for St Catharines.

I believe there is only one person who knows best the needs, and that's the insured person himself or herself. I hope my comments will serve to analyse, crystallize or sensitize some of the problem areas I see on behalf of the people whom I represent and that the government will take heed and hopefully bring some changes to the legislation before it is passed by the House.

I feel quite at ease with the comment by Mr Sampson, because he recognized that there are some problems associated with the present proposal, Bill 59, and especially with the seniors' insurance. That is one area that is very grey. There is the temporary lapse issue, and of course it's a very grey area. I hope they will be able to clarify that. New drivers are a very serious concern out there and I think we have to do our bit to try and assist those people as much as we can in the early years when they try and get on and establish themselves in the workforce.

Those are the concerns I have brought to the attention of the government that I feel are general, in that they're not restricted solely to my area but of great concern throughout Ontario. I'd hope that some of this concern could be taken into consideration prior to the government approving the legislation.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): My colleagues have spoken at length on this legislation. I want to limit my remarks to a few comments on some issues of interest that I certainly have heard about and experienced.

The purpose of auto insurance is to balance the interests of consumers both as payors of premiums and as accident victims. The system must enjoy public confidence, but it can only do that if it's fair in terms of premiums and compensation. The full tort system didn't achieve this. We had some of our highest premiums in the 1980s and there was a huge consumer backlash. Bill 164 under the NDP certainly did not achieve this. The premiums that were paid under that legislation were excessive. Premiums jumped 10.6% in 1994 and 11.3% in 1995, and this at a time when inflation was only 3%.

The question is whether Bill 59 will achieve this fairness. I'll remind the members of the Legislature that it was under the Ontario motorist protection plan introduced by the Liberals that premiums finally stabilized, according to the insurance industry. Royal Insurance reduced its premiums by 6% under OMPP. Will Bill 59 do this? We will see.

Let me touch on a few issues. The first of these deals with rates. Some insurance companies have testified that rates would stabilize or go down under this legislation. In a Toronto Star article, Dominion of Canada representative George Cooke indicated that his company will be scrapping plans for a rate hike of 9% to 10% and will look for ways to cut rates, particularly for drivers with clean records.

Royal Insurance, in testimony before the finance and economics committee, indicated that it had planned to scrap its rate increase for 1996 and would commit to maintaining its current average rate levels through 1996 and 1997.

Others just talked to us about rate stability. They never did define what "rate stability" means, and one is hard-pressed to know what that means when the insurance companies under Bill 164 managed to produce increases in excess of 40% over two years.

Consumers too testified before the finance and economics committee about extra premiums and the exorbitant price of premiums. I'd like to quote some of the comments that we heard before the committee.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business -- which by the way represents members in the auto insurance both as business and personal consumers, and many of its members are directly involved in the insurance business, including brokers, adjusters, lawyers and medical practitioners -- stated that its major concern about auto insurance is high premiums.

Seniors testified that they were particularly concerned about the high cost of auto insurance, and since many of them live on fixed income this is a particular problem, as has also been indicated by my colleague the member for Yorkview.

People in the north talked to us about the hardships of living in the north and having to travel great distances and having no public transit available to them and therefore being at the mercy of insurance companies and the high premiums they were required to pay.

Finally, as just a small sampling of the discussions that we heard on this subject, the Canadian Automobile Association told us that if premiums continued to go up at the rate at which they've been escalating in Ontario, it predicted that more drivers would opt to drive without insurance -- a very serious matter indeed.

Rates clearly are foremost in the minds of consumers. If this legislation does not deliver on lower rates, there will be a public outcry. The government has set very high standards and expectations, and the public expects it to deliver on them.

The second point I want to make is with regard to the Facility Association. We've heard quite a bit about Facility Association. I was particularly struck during the committee hearings by the number of people from whom we heard who had extremely good driving records, who for one reason or another found themselves in the Facility Association paying exorbitant fees. Some of the examples would shock you.

An executive who's relocated to the United States for reasons of work sells his car -- no accidents, no speeding tickets, just doesn't have a car in Canada for a year -- comes back and is forced into the Facility Association because he has no driving record and no car. A driver who sells his car for whatever reason but does not purchase another one for six months -- again, no accidents, no speeding tickets, no infractions of any kind -- he too finds himself in the Facility Association paying exorbitant fees. Facility rates prior to this legislation used to be higher than the fines for those who drove without insurance. That I think is something which has been remedied, and I must say it's something which I support.


The difficulty with this legislation, however, is that while it speaks to the Facility Association, it hasn't set any timetables for when anything will be put in place and leaves the issue of reform of the Facility Association, or recommendations with respect to that, still very much up in the air. Again I say to the government that it's essential, in the interest of fairness, not to brand good drivers and penalize them. The public will simply not stand for it.

A third issue that has been touched upon but again bears talking about is the issue of the designated assessment centres. A number of witnesses came before our committee to indicate that the DACs were not helpful, that indeed they only added to the level of bureaucracy and to the unfairness of the system. If I can just quote some of the comments that were made, and these were made both by professionals working in the industry as well as individuals, comments such as: "The current DAC system should be scrapped." "The current DAC system is unwieldy and should be replaced." "The DAC system should be eliminated." Clearly it's an area of extreme concern which has created many difficulties for people, particularly people living in the outlying areas, and it's something that I notice the government has not really remedied in its new draft. I would urge them to look at that for the future.

The issue of the ombudsman I think will be welcomed by a number of people. I think we might term it ombudsperson, but beyond that I think there are many consumers who are extremely concerned about the way they are treated once they have a motor vehicle accident. The ability to be able to appeal and to go to an ombudsman is certainly one that would be welcomed by many. The problem is that the ombudsperson in this legislation must be given real clout and real teeth to be able to fight with a system which is large, which is bureaucratic, which is unwieldy and which has a tremendous might which it can bear against an individual. Again to the government I would say, make sure that if you're putting an ombudsperson in place that it be given real authority to deal with the issue and it not be simply window dressing.

Let me say to the government too that I applaud the anti-fraud measures that I see in the legislation, most of which, by the way, came as a result of evidence we heard during the public process. This speaks very highly of the importance of public hearings, of the importance of public input, of the importance of the democratic process followed to its fullest. Without the benefit of the testimony that we had before us in committee, we would not have had those here, as too we would not have had in this piece of legislation the very excellent work that was done by my colleague from Yorkview, Mario Sergio, as a result of his private member's bill.

Finally, I want to talk about the victims, the very many victims who came to see us here in Toronto, in Thunder Bay, in Sault Ste Marie, in Ottawa, who told horrendous tales of having to fight with their insurers simply to be recognized as individuals who had suffered, individuals who, quite frankly, indicated with great clarity what some of the difficulties are. One victim asked a very interesting question, that the motor vehicle victim is in double jeopardy. She said, "You survive the crash, but can you survive the motor vehicle accident process?"

I think David Tier, one of the participants who came I believe to see us in Sault Ste Marie, said it best when he said to us as a committee, and I would urge the government members to remember this, "I urge you to remember that the reason for the premiums is the protection of the injured parties" -- and I would add not merely a question of profit for some -- "...please test your decisions against this central mission."

The test of this legislation must be fairness. Fairness is paramount to consumers, to victims, and in the public interest. Innocent victims and good drivers cannot and must not be penalized or sacrificed to a system that is unresponsive, that seeks to minimize injuries and good driving records, that costs too much and gives too little. The people of Ontario expect no less than fairness, and we will be watching to ensure that they receive no less.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? The Chair recognizes the member for --

Mr Patten: Ottawa Centre. I know the time is getting late and it's difficult to identify from whence members come.

I would like to congratulate my colleagues from Downsview and Yorkview for the effort they have put in and the issues they have identified.

The member for Downsview says that the basis of any automobile insurance of course is based on public confidence and fairness. I believe that is true. She proceeded to identify a variety of areas that one must acknowledge and a variety of areas in which there may be some question.

On that note, I would like to spend the very short time I have addressing what the members from Yorkview and Downsview addressed, and that was the Facility Association. I think this is the sleeper of the legislation; absolutely no controls. What a wonderful business opportunity this is, to agree among a variety of insurance companies, with no controls, to suddenly say, "These particular groups of drivers should be in the Facility Association that we control as businesses and get profits back from." Can you imagine what a sweetheart deal that is? What is their accountability? Does the Facility Association produce an audited report, an annual report, some kind of accountability? What I hear is, it does not. I believe there's an important role, at least a reportability that should be there to avoid what can be an incentive for greed.

I understand in most recent months the Facility has begun to deplete some of its members, but how long will that last? What is the responsibility and what is the accountability of the Facility? I urge the government to revisit that particular point -- the Facility Association's accountability -- because there are a lot of people who are being dealt with unfairly by being put in there.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Downsview wish two minutes to wind up?

Ms Castrilli: I concur with the comments made by my colleague who just spoke. I guess I would simply reiterate to the government that there are great expectations of this legislation; that people will not support a system that does not appear to be in their best interests; that people will in fact raise a hue and cry if they are subjected to the same kinds of fluctuations in rates and premiums that we have seen, if they are forced into the Facility Association without any rhyme or reason, if they are not given the kinds of services they expect when they buy insurance.

This is, after all, insurance, and one of the things we've heard in the course of our travels is that quite often it isn't seen that way. Once you have an accident, you are not seen as a person who paid for insurance and therefore is entitled to some services back; you are seen as the enemy. Surely that cannot be allowed to continue. Surely we cannot have a system where we pay more and we receive less. The government must be very careful to ensure that that is neither the reality nor the perception that people have. If you do not, you will certainly hear from the public of Ontario.


The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I'm endeavouring to tie this into the tax break. I think it must be associated in some way with the tax break. I'll see if I can work that in a little later, but at this time I want to discuss the problems we encounter with auto insurance, the problems which have been brought to my attention as a local representative.

First of all, when we're dealing with auto insurance we all know there is only one choice that one can make, and it's a difficult balance to reach. Either you're going to have very low premiums and a low payout if a person requires that payout as a result of a claim, or you're going to get high premiums and a high payout. It's virtually impossible for a government to come up with a scheme which allows for low premiums and high payouts.

I think one of the advantages we had, and the government again probably learned its lesson from Bill 26, was that instead of simply ramming this legislation through, having encountered the experience with Bill 26, the government decided to have hearings across the province. My colleagues who sat on the committee said that's a worthwhile experience because it allowed them to hear on a firsthand basis from some of the people who were commenting on the potential for another piece of legislation dealing with automobile insurance.

As previous speakers have outlined, this is never an easy subject to deal with. I just caution the members of the government who applaud loudly now not to applaud quite so loudly, because you may find that somehow, somewhere along the line, it will fall apart, that either there will be severe complaints about the amount of the payout for those who have claims or, more likely, you'll have some significant complaints about increases in automobile insurance rates. This won't happen initially, because the insurance companies, having secured from the government some significant concessions, have to have a payback for the government by announcing that they are going to have some decreases. As some of my colleagues have pointed out, however, this is only after substantial and sustained increases over the past few years, so that it's not as benevolent, not as generous, as perhaps the people in the insurance companies would like to suggest to you, because they are cutting from a very high rate. Nevertheless, I think all of us are delighted to see any decrease in terms of premiums and we'll be looking for further decreases as we go down the line and will be asking the minister about that at the appropriate time.

Several members have talked about the Facility. I must, without going into the detail some of the members did, caution the government about the Facility and the ease with which insurance companies have been able to bounce people into that. Some people do a lot of driving, so for those who don't do much driving and have a bad record, I suppose one would say they may be deserving of being placed in the Facility, where they have to pay huge premiums. But for those who drive a lot, drive a substantial amount of time and distance, one would say it is likely unfair, for relatively minor reasons, to be taking them from an insurance company and placing them in the Facility, because the cost is rather horrendous.

That's where you get people who will start driving without insurance. I know you're going to increase the fine to a big-time fine. The problem with fines -- and I know this is never easy any way you look at it -- is that a rich person can pay the fine and a person who isn't rich can't pay the fine, and if the alternative is to be bounced into jail, it means the rich person is less likely to go to jail than the poor person. Welcome to Mike Harris's Ontario, because that's the way things are going to be in Ontario. If you're rich and you're privileged, then you're in great shape in this province, and if you've got money and you've got position and you've got power and you've got influence, then you're going to cope very well. Be that as it may, that is the Ontario we are seeing in this year of 1996 and beyond.

There is a problem for people who let their insurance lapse. For whatever reason it is, some people have let their insurance lapse because they have not been able to drive. They perhaps couldn't afford to drive; they perhaps had a health problem that did not allow them to drive. They come back to get insurance a year and a half later and find out they're treated as a brand-new driver with a huge premium increase, and that has happened consistently. I hope this legislation will address that matter. I will be sceptical until I see that actually happen, because that has been one problem.

Interjection: Lots of sceptics.

Mr Bradley: Yes, there are sceptics, and for good reason. We've observed this for some period of time.

The premium increases of course make it expensive to drive in this province. Again, if you're a rich person, those premiums don't hurt you as much as if you're a person of modest income, and therefore again the rich will tend to benefit more than people of modest means.

One of the areas that my friend from Renfrew North addressed was some of the fraud that takes place. I think where we align ourselves as legislators for the most part with insurance companies is in trying to eliminate fraud, because fraud will ultimately be reflected in the premium. We have, of course, many people who are in the automotive repair business in this province. The overwhelming majority are honest people who would never charge more than they're supposed to charge and would never ask anybody going into the garage whether this is being paid for by the insurance company or by themselves. That just would never happen, I know, except in exceptional cases.

However, what you people in the government benches have to realize is that your zealots who are interested in dismembering the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations are going to take away the people who used to police that: the inspectors, the ghost cars, as they used to call them, who used to go into the garages and would try to determine whether there was any fraud being carried out in those garages. Well, you people know best: Let business do what business does best. So you're going to let them get away with it, and the good people in the business will be tarred with the same brush as the bad people. But that's what you're taking away. Know when you're cutting, know when you hear the zealous speeches in this House by some of the extreme right-wingers who want to get rid of all government, that that's what you're getting rid of in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Frank Drea, when he was minister, used to talk about these, the ghost cars which have provided good service, along with the people who drove them in, to determine whether there was fraud taking place. You want to eliminate that fraud because that fraud will be reflected in increased premiums.

Another group you may wish to talk to -- and from time to time I ask the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and the Premier, all of whom have great connections with business, particularly big business in this province, if they will not speak to their friends, even if it's at the Tory fund-raiser, if they will speak to their wealthy friends and say, "Is there some way you can give the taxpayers a break?"

For instance, all of us have had this experience. We go into the automobile dealership and ask to replace a part. You know that if they ring in the cash register anything under $100, it seizes. It simply will not ring in a bill under $100. I remember I had a lightbulb that had to be replaced on the side of a car. I thought it was $5, and the person said: "Oh, we replaced it. That's $105." Well, I had them take the lightbulb out or whatever it was, and I'll take the money back and leave the bulb dark, because it was only a bulb for decoration; it wasn't for safety purposes. For safety purposes, I'd have to do it.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Expensive car.

Mr Bradley: A very modest vehicle it was as well, I must tell the member for Northumberland: a modest vehicle, several years old.

Mr Hastings: I thought you took the bus.

Mr Bradley: Well, I do. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale says, "I thought you took the bus." I do take the bus. When I was Minister of the Environment, for instance, I would wait for the bus out here at the corner, take it up to the Ministry of the Environment, and I'll tell you, the service was very good. I want to thank the TTC. Unlike the Minister of Transportation, who is busy raking the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing over the coals because when he was at the TTC the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mr Leach, was the manager and he said it ran very well. I thought it ran quite well as well. I was surprised to hear the Minister of Transportation being critical of Mr Leach and of Mr Johnson, who used to be the budget chief, I think, on the TTC. So I listened to that exchange going on. I'm glad the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale interjected, because it reminded me of that.


But anyway, to get back to the cost, one of the reasons it costs a lot for insurance is that every time you go into the dealership, whether it's General Motors -- I'll get a letter from them; the last time I mentioned General Motors I got a letter from them saying, "How dare you mention General Motors in a critical way?" But General Motors, Ford, Chrysler or any of the other companies out there that are offshore companies that have plants here, they all know how to charge; they know how to charge for parts. So if you touch someone's bumper in front of you, that is good for about $800. Now, you'd look at it, and you'd say, "Oh, that's about $50 to fix that." No such thing. You touch any part of the car, and they must replace the whole assembly. That's one of the costs. That's where the people who are in the insurance business -- I'll agree with them -- that's where one of the substantial costs is.

One of the members speaking earlier -- I imagine there are several insurance men and lawyers on the government benches -- but they mentioned their experience with it. They know that this kind of fraud drives up the premiums. So I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in trying to eliminate the gouging of the consumer and the fraud that takes place, because I think that will help us out.

The restoration of the right to sue will cost a little more money. I don't know how much, because it's balanced off in the legislation with some other changes. So I want to watch that to see. I want to be fair enough to say that I can't pass judgement on the new right to sue that you have. That may well balance out quite nicely and work out. So I think, in fairness, I'd like to observe how that works before I would offer any criticism or praise of that.

Some of the medical costs were mentioned as well. My friend the member for Renfrew North mentioned that often the first question one gets upon arriving at the clinic is, "What kind of insurance do you have?" Then you end up with perhaps a little more of a cost to the insurance company than might have been the case.

I've already mentioned fund-raisers, but I must give you people credit; you know how to get a crowd at a fund-raiser. I look at every piece of legislation you have, and that's bound to increase the crowd at the fund-raisers, because you've let the lawyers in the door again. So the lawyers will be happy; they'll be showing up. Charlie had one the other night; a good fund-raiser, no doubt. I'm sure many members of his profession were in attendance there.

Mr Beaubien: I saw you there.

Mr Bradley: I'm not a lawyer, so I couldn't go.

Hon Mr Harnick: I'd be happy to have you, Jim.

Mr Bradley: I would have been happy to attend, but I'm allergic to caviar and -- what are the other expensive foods?

Mr Sergio: Lobster.

Mr Bradley: Lobster.

Ms Castrilli: Champagne.

Mr Bradley: Champagne. Besides, they won't let me into the Albany Club. They just won't let me into the Albany Club.

Anyway, you people know how to raise the funds. You pass the legislation, out come the insurance men, out come the lawyers. Then they pass other legislation. My friend Frank is going to deregulate down there, so the businessmen are going to be coming out to his fund-raiser now. So I'm going to ask Frank for his fund-raising list if he'll send it to me. I don't know how many will come, but he'll have a good list now.

Mr Hastings: I hear you started a new club, the St Catharines Club, one member.

Mr Bradley: There is a St Catharines Club. I am not a member, I can assure you. I couldn't afford that high stipend, particularly with the decrease we've had in pay in this Legislature. You know the Premier said our pay was decreased.

Mr Martin: Doesn't your riding association pick that up?

Mr Bradley: No, my riding association does not.

Now, trucks: One of the problems, and this is where I think he's been stampeded into it, but the minister of trucks and cars and transportation has been --

Mr Clement: Planes, trains and automobiles.

Mr Bradley: Yes, planes, trains and automobiles, suggested by the member for Brampton -- North?

Mr Clement: South.

Mr Bradley: South. I knew it was one of the two.

But anyway, the truck safety problem. There are a lot of good truckers on the road out there. We all know that. However, there are a lot of vehicles --

Hon Mr Harnick: Sounds like Bradley is getting ready to have another fund-raiser.

Mr Bradley: Oh, yes, here's another fund-raiser. There are a lot of vehicles out there that are suspect. In fact, I heard the police the other day say they're ticking time bombs. Everybody uses that one now, ticking time bombs, and we have had some extremely unfortunate accidents that have happened on the highway.

I know when you start laying off inspectors in the Ministry of Transportation, you'll have fewer people to be able to inspect those vehicles. That will be most unfortunate because of the volume of trucks we've seen on highways lately. We've seen far more trucks in accidents on the highways of this province than we used to see.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Dodging potholes.

Mr Bradley: You're right. It's because sometimes they're dodging the potholes, it's suggested. That is true. I have not found a personal problem with potholes for a certain reason, but other people do have problems with potholes. I was in eastern Ontario and they had potholes in the potholes in eastern Ontario. I could see how the trucks were swerving back and forth to avoid those potholes. So that problem will have to be solved, but I know you're cutting that budget as well.

We want to make our roads safe. I think truck safety is going to be an important component of that, particularly those vehicles that are coming in from the United States. It must be the Americans, it can't be our good Canadian trucking firms, although I have heard of a couple of a trucking firms now that come to mind that were a problem, but I don't want to get into that tonight. But that's another important thing, safety of the roads in the province, and we are going to have to find solutions to that.

The police are out embarking upon an exercise this week and next of going after dangerous drivers. As I mentioned in a two-minute speech earlier, I hope that indeed they are going after dangerous drivers and not simply out there to gather more revenue, which of course is the speeders, because there are those people called left-lane bandits who sit in the left lane at several miles an hour less than the speed limit, poking along in the left lane and infuriating people so that they're passing on the right, or getting on a two-lane highway and poking along at several miles an hour below the speed limit and having people dart around them. If one learns the proper driving habits, we have three lanes on some of our highways, two lanes on some of our highways. There is an opportunity to pull over and let vehicles pass.

I think that's another component of safety as well. We don't want those people who are going ridiculously fast to be causing problems. We don't want the people who tailgate or switch lanes or use the shoulders or do all those things which are dangerous, because they are eventually going to cause accidents which are going to cost insurance companies money, and that will again be reflected in the premiums.

What insurance companies have, and this is a bit of a problem, is a captive audience. I know it will be said that there is plenty of competition in the automobile insurance business. I guess there is competition in the business.

Mr Hastings: Talk about Ontario Hydro.

Mr Bradley: Ontario Hydro: I will come to that, if you like, in just a moment.


Mr Bradley: Your fellow members, though, are becoming angry with you because you're reminding me of new areas to which I can branch. But anyway, let me go back to the captive audience.

Because automobile insurance is compulsory, then people are forced to have automobile insurance if they're going to drive a vehicle. If you're going to simply not look at the increase in premiums, if it happens, you're not going to have any control at all over premium increases, and then you're going to find that some people are going to be forced off the highway. Why? Because of driving habits, probably not; more because they don't have the money. But again, the crowd from the Albany Club will be fine. they will be able to continue to drive the roads. The Jaguars will be out there, the Cadillacs will be out there and so on but not the people who are driving vehicles of lesser value or at least have an income that is lower than that.


Another option is government automobile insurance. Some of my friends in the NDP are now coming back to that. I was listening to some great speeches in the House the other day about government automobile insurance. I thought they were going to bring in government automobile insurance because it was in their platform and it is popular, I'm told, in some provinces. My friends in the NDP tell me that in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and British Columbia, where they have government automobile insurance, when they've had right-wing governments take over they haven't gotten rid of the automobile insurance, which is government-run. It did not happen in Ontario because the NDP didn't bring it in.

It's a reminder to those in the insurance business that if things were to go the way the government doesn't want, and the consumers and the industry don't want, the call for government auto insurance would come forward again. I don't know if any government would ever proceed with it, but the pressure would grow. That's why it's in the interests of the insurance companies to ensure that they are providing fair premiums and a good product to the people in this province.

I wish the government well on this. I'm not wishing you lack of success. From an opposition point of view there are a lot of people who believe the opposition hope everything bad happens. That's not true. I like to see the government successful in some fields. I hope you're not successful politically, but I want to see you successful in other ways because it's good for the province as a whole.

We'll be watching, as an opposition, to ensure that the rates go into reverse and that innocent victims and safe drivers aren't taking a back seat to insurance company profits. We'll be watching the government and the industry very closely over the next two years to make sure the rates move downward. After all, the NDP's Bill 164 produced increases in excess of 40% over two years -- or at least they went up that much; I can't say whether they were as a result of Bill 164 alone by any means. A one-time reduction of 3% to 5% is little for drivers who have had their premiums rise by seven or eight times that amount.

I notice the Conservative Party, which likes to take taxes off, did not choose to take the tax off insurance premiums. I sat in this House with the Conservative Party sitting to my left, believe it or not. They were at one time saying: "This is bad for the province. We should take off the tax on insurance premiums." I have noted that this is forgotten.

Mr Ford: You blame us for giving a tax cut and then you blame us for not taking off the tax.

Mr Bradley: No, no. I will get to that point now. This is what leads me into the tax cut. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale was wondering how I could work the tax cut into it; that's how I have. The reason the government is unable to cut the 5% tax on the insurance premiums is because it has already cut the income tax by 30%, benefiting, of course, the most wealthy in our society with that tax cut. If it were on insurance premiums, everybody would benefit equally, but the income tax cut of 30% benefits the rich the most in the province. I understand why you have not removed the tax. I'm a very understanding individual and I understand that it's all related to the tax cut, which will force you to borrow over $13 billion additional in order that you can give that money back to me and to the chief government whip and to everyone else in the province. There are many economists in this province of a Conservative bent who are certainly questioning that at this time.

I've mentioned the other irritants to the driving public, which include the rating system imposed by the Facility Association. The parliamentary assistant has assured me with nods on the other side -- I don't know whether he was nodding in agreement or nodding off during my speech, but I think he was nodding in agreement that the problems with Facility would be addressed by this legislation, although my friend Mario Sergio, the member for Yorkview, was good enough to bring before this House an opportunity to make those changes.

One of the ideas that may be of some benefit, have some potential, is the idea of creating a new insurance Ombudsman at the Ontario Insurance Commission to investigate consumer complaints. That Ombudsman must have appropriate staff, jurisdiction and authority if she or he is going to be successful. I'm surprised they were able to get that provision past the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, who I have thought would have resisted another Ombudsperson in this position.

It says here that you're going to be able to speed up approval of rate increases through the OIC -- that must be the Ontario Insurance Commission -- providing they are at or below benchmarks set out in regulations. I know they will be pleased to get those increases more quickly. I'm not convinced that the driving public will be as happy about that as the insurance companies.

I did not want to use the full half-hour allocated.

Interjection: Go ahead, please. We insist.

Mr Flaherty: You are doing all right.

Hon Mr Harnick: You can quit now.

Mr Bradley: It is getting late. I know the people at home are aware that members are now sitting potentially till midnight every night to deal with legislation, to be accommodating to the government, because while we are often accused of being obstructionists, we want to simply ensure that there's a full and frank debate on all of the important legislation coming forward, and even the legislation of less importance than we would rate this particular bill.

There are further pieces of legislation that may require comments from the opposition and the government, such as the merging of OISE and the University of Toronto, a matter of great importance. I did indicate to the former Treasurer of this province, Mr Nixon, that you would be carrying out yet another of his wishes when you would be doing that. But we will discuss that later.

I simply wish you well. I wish the member for Mississauga West well. He's upwardly mobile; at least hopes he is. Some of the members who are already in the cabinet are not so anxious to see you doing so well with this piece of legislation because we know in the summer there will be a shuffle.

I can always tell there's a shuffle because whenever the Premier tells a joke of any kind, there are people falling out of their chairs. The member for Burlington South almost fell on the floor laughing at one of the jokes of the Premier's as he went by today. I would not want to see the Premier stop too quickly, because there could be an accident when he is walking through this House.

Anyway, I wish you well. I'm not a malicious person. I wish you well, Mr Sampson, in your insurance endeavours and your boss, Mr Eves.

Mr Clement: Okay, we will sponsor you to the Albany Club.

Mr Bradley: I hope you do well, and I know once this bill is finally passed and all of it's formed and proclaimed, the champagne glasses will be tinkling at the Albany Club.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments?

Mr Crozier: I always want to add to the comments of my colleague the member for St Catharines because he can add to any debate in the House no matter what the subject. He raised something that's very important and I would ask one of the government members who may know --


Mr Crozier: No, I'm asking a question of one of the government members who may know. That is, road safety is directly linked to insurance and the cost of insurance. I've heard in the last couple of days that there is this safety blitz going on and, not surprisingly so, there's a 1-800 number, that if you're following an aggressive driver, a speeding driver, a reckless driver, you can call in their licence plate number.

Mr Bradley: Another snitch line.

Mr Crozier: Is anybody on the government side able to tell me, now that you've reduced enforcement on the roads and you have to resort to another snitch line, can you possibly tell me what happens if someone phones in and reports an aggressive driver and their licence number?


The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments?

Mr Klees: In response to the member for Essex South, I am pleased to respond to his question as to what happens. What will happen is that the OPP will respond. The reason I can tell you that is that I personally was following a careless driver just two days ago. I made a call to the police and reported this erratic driving. The OPP responded and dispatched a patrol car, stopped that driver, and charged that driver with careless driving.

I will be pleased to appear in court and give my testimony as to the careless driving that was taking place, because it's precisely that kind of action that we believe is responsible response from the citizens in this province who want to become part of the solution, not simply part of the problem. And we believe that innocent families, who would otherwise be in danger of their lives, will in fact be protected.

I think it's high time that rather than be critical, as the member for Essex South is, when this government invites citizens from across the province to participate in doing something responsible, we should together encourage each other to become part of the solution, as I know the honourable member for Essex South would want to be as well, and I would challenge him, the next time he follows a careless driver, pick up your phone, call 911, report the fact --

Mr Crozier: We don't all have cell phones.

Mr Klees: Well, then pull over and use Bell Telephone -- call 911, report that careless driver, and see that justice is done.

Mr Michael Brown: I too was quite interested in the comments of the member for St Catharines. I think one of the issues that has been brought to my office on numerous occasions is this question of Facility, and it's a question of how many drivers are put into Facility often for reasons that are quite beyond their control. It seems to me that it bothered not only the drivers that were now going to pay outrageous rates, but it bothered the insurance brokers. I was contacted by numerous brokers in the constituency that were quite appalled that they were having to charge the kind of rates to drivers that they knew were responsible and knew that they had been treated badly by the insurance system because they were put into the Facility, sometimes for the most obscure of all reasons. I really believe it's an issue that drivers really need some relief from, and I don't see how that is going to be addressed in this particular piece of legislation.

The other problem I think we all are aware of is that the benefits that will be paid on a weekly basis will only be paid if other insurances are exhausted; if I'm correct. I believe that. For example, if you are in a commercial business and you have a truck and it's involved in an accident, do you know what happens? You end up with a WCB claim instead of an insurance claim, even though the accident may not have been at all your fault. I think that's one of the issues government needs to address, that in an accident in which the driver is not at fault you might be on the hook for additional WCB payments.

Mr Bradley: I didn't think I was going to be responding, but I will rise to the occasion and mention, first of all -- the member for York-Mackenzie, we have found out now, has a cell phone in his car and he certainly fits the stereotype that the Minister of Transportation endeavoured to paint of people in this province who all had cell phones. There are many people I know of modest income in this province who certainly don't have cell phones and could not afford those.

The other point I want to make with this is, I'm of two minds with snitch lines. One of the problems is they're open to abuse. I could simply pick out a government licence number like ONT and whatever the last part of it is -- it has one of those checkered stickers on it and that means it's a government licence plate -- and phone in and say it was zigzagging all over the road and driving recklessly, and I could do it maliciously.

Interjection: You would never do that.

Mr Bradley: I would never do that because I'm not that kind of person, but if there were people who were angry with the Attorney General, for instance, they could do it with his vehicle and claim he was speeding.

I'm wondering if the member for York-Mackenzie when he phoned said, "This is an MPP calling," or whether he just said it was a private citizen, because I'm always interested in whether people of privilege get a different response than average people in the province, and I'm always concerned that people of position and privilege and wealth use that privilege and that position to get special consideration from people in authority. So I trust the member did not say he was an MPP when he was calling.

I appreciate all of the other comments I've heard as well that were in agreement with it and I look forward to participating in the next debate on the OISE-U of T merger.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, would the parliamentary assistant like to sum up?

Mr Sampson: No, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Sampson has moved second reading of Bill 59.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Madam Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to hold this vote immediately before orders of the day tomorrow. With the previous deferred vote I misspoke myself. It should also be immediately before orders of the day.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Skarica, on behalf of Mr Snobelen, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 45, An Act to repeal the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Act and transfer assets to the University of Toronto / Projet de loi 45, Loi abrogeant la Loi sur l'Institut d'études pédagogiques de l'Ontario et transférant l'actif de l'Institut à l'Université de Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Mr Skarica has moved third reading of Bill 45. Mr Skarica, would you like to make a few comments?

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I have a very brief speech where I'd like to make four points.

(1) This legislation will save Ontario taxpayers some $10 million over the next 10 years.

(2) I would like to quote from the budget presented in 1985 by the Honourable Robert Nixon, Treasurer of Ontario, "As a step towards eliminating duplication in the public sector, the government will transfer the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to the University of Toronto." Five years later and $10 billion in debt later, it did not occur. Back then the speeches had no time limit and perhaps the member for St Catharines was making all the speeches.

(3) The NDP government took over in 1990 and Mr Cooke, the Minister of Education, stated, "Given the limited public dollars, an integrated institution might be better equipped to meet the challenges of preparing for the 21st century and realizing the missions of your respective institutions than would be the case if you stay apart." Five years later and $50 billion of debt later, no integration.

(4) Finally, our government took over in power one year ago and now in one year we're at the point where all that is needed to complete the integration is the passage of Bill 45. Every day this bill is delayed costs the taxpayer $2,700, and the only question I have is, why did it take 11 years for us to get here?

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I couldn't resist commenting on the very provocative speech by the member for Wentworth North, because what he wanted to suggest -- and I know the people out there would not want him to provide information which was not correct -- was that this was somehow making a very substantial contribution to a $10-billion increase in debt, and a $50-billion increase in debt under the NDP. Of course, we all know that under the Conservative government the increase in debt in this province within your term of office will in fact be some $22 billion. I'm glad the member reminded me of that so I could remind the people of this province that it won't be a $10-billion increase in debt; it will be a $22-billion increase in debt.


In addition to this, I want to -- I think I was on a two-minuter actually, so is my time up?

The Acting Speaker: We're just trying to sort that out. You're time is up, Mr Bradley. I'm sorry, the clock did not come on.

Mr Bradley: Okay, I will keep it less than four minutes. There was a little error in the clock. Don't worry; it's late at night.

I know the member did not want to downplay the quality of research that has taken place in the field of education in this particular body, which was established by a Progressive Conservative government and supported so strongly by Premier Robarts and of course by Premier Davis, particularly when he was Minister of Education. I want to compliment Premier Davis, Premier Robarts and other members of the Conservative Party who in those days had the foresight to establish an institute in education which would be almost second to none in the world in terms of its research in education.

We will be supporting this bill. We think the time has come. I think the protocol was signed under the NDP government that this merger would take place, and we're seeing it take place. The amount of the savings will be modest.

I do remember, may his soul rest in peace, Gerhard Moog, who I think built the original OISE building. Mr Moog just died recently, so I won't get into that, but we all remember untendered contracts that took place in years gone by.

Again, I'm glad the member raised those issues, and when he does so in such a provocative way, it always allows those of us in the opposition to think of further things we might say in a speech later on. When he says it in a benign way, it soothes us and we just don't press the matter, so I thank him very much for his provocation.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? The member for Wentworth North, you may sum up.

Mr Skarica: I've already said all I need to say.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I will support this bill as I am in agreement with it and believe that it represents what should be the underlying principles and objectives of the post-secondary education sector.

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, as has been pointed out, was a creature of a former Conservative government which had foresight, and because of that foresight created an excellent facility and an excellent institution in the field of education. That institution and the University of Toronto, two quality and well-respected institutions, are now changing course, heading down a new road that will lead to improved efficiencies, lower costs, enhanced innovation, greater overall achievement and excellence.

I find it ironic, however, that this most farsighted, fact-based, goals-oriented action in the realm of post-secondary education, despite what the member for Lincoln has said, has resulted from nothing this government has done. In fact, the protocol was signed a year ago and it was a Liberal government that initiated merger plans, which were conducted by the two institutions and finally agreed upon in December 1994, well before this government was even contemplating power.

This government has a lot to learn from this process, a process based on voluntary involvement, cooperation, planning and dedication to learning. We have seen all too often, with both the NDP and the Conservative governments, that when you force substantial institutional restructuring without first convincing the stakeholders of the need for change, the benefits of change and the implications of change, such efforts will be met with friction, scepticism and possibly opposition.

Our colleges and universities are aware of the province's current fiscal difficulties. They are not unrealistic about the need for financial accountability and responsibility, but they expect to be involved in the long-term planning of their own sector. They have the right to expect the government's funding decisions to be based on rational, consultative processes, and they expect funding levels that allow the institutions to achieve the results expected of them.

What our colleges and universities do not expect is to be ignored by the minister. They do not expect the government to make arbitrary budget decisions that force hasty internal layoffs, program closures, class elimination and tuition increases of the magnitude that we have seen this year all across the province. Change, particularly fundamental, long-term change, requires in-depth planning.

As an example, the OISE-U of T merger has involved more than a full year of detailed designing of the new faculty. The administrative integration task force has been developing the implementation plan for the integration of administrative support services, and the academic integration task force outlined the overall integration of the two institutions.

The point I am making is that when embarking on a complex new initiative, one must have a clear concept of the results that need to be achieved. The results that this merger is pursuing are attracting and retaining outstanding faculty, attracting outstanding students at the pre-service and graduate levels, development of a healthy infrastructure through substantial investment in the area of technology, strengthening research and developing new partnerships, a commitment to continuous improvement of teaching and ongoing performance assessment.

These are the types of goals the minister should be speaking about. Instead, his main thrust in this sector over the last year has been the easy task of taking a pen to the bottom line of university budgets and slashing, without thought for planning and most certainly without thought for the consequences. Anyone can do this. It doesn't take any skill whatsoever.

To lead our colleges and universities into the new century with improved efficiency, quality, accessibility and effectiveness, however, requires forethought, a dedication to consultation and cooperation and creativity.

I applaud the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for their understanding of fiscal realities, for their interest in finding innovative solutions, for their perseverance in negotiating a commendable integration plan and for their commitment to excellence in education. Their example stands in stark contrast to this government and clearly shows that our post-secondary sector can and will remain competitive by advancing learning opportunities, teaching abilities and research accomplishments.

This is just one specific example of how Ontario's colleges and universities can be improved with commitment, dedication and full participation. It is, in fact, only through commitment and full participation that we can find unique solutions and sensible innovations that will make sense for our post-secondary institutions and make us competitive into the 21st century. As legislators, we must never forget that we too have a responsibility to promote excellence, but this requires leadership, openness and cooperation.

I support this legislation, but challenge the government to address post-secondary education with leadership, openness and cooperation, not just mindless disregard. I congratulate the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for the completion of this initiative. I wish them and their staff and their students every success.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Madam Speaker, it's good to see you smiling at this late time. I would like to congratulate my colleague the member for Downsview and critic for colleges and universities for an insightful comment on this legislation that looks like it will not be too contentious between the three caucae. I think her point of the message --


Mr Patten: "Caucae" is plural for "caucus," I would like to point out to the Minister of Culture.

I would like to say that while she is saying there is a message in that these two fine institutions, on their own, with solid planning, arrived at an arrangement that is in the best interests of everyone -- and it wasn't just the bottom line that drove them to do so. There was a quality of delivery of service that was really at stake, and if there will be savings into the bargain, so much the better.


I think the message even goes beyond simply the U of T and OISE and what they are doing. There's a message in this for this government in terms of the continued reference to amalgamation of school boards, forcing boards perhaps to get together, forcing hospitals to merge, forcing municipalities to form regions etc, and that not necessarily is bigger best but that if you will look on a case-by-case basis, you may find that there is a natural inclination and that the government should play a role of nurturing sometimes and supporting rather than force-feeding situations which may not produce the best results in terms of the services those particular sectors may have to provide.

On that note, Madam Speaker -- Mr Speaker; you've changed -- I will sit down.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further comments or statements? There being no further comments or statements, the member for Downsview has up to two minutes to reply.

Ms Castrilli: I'm delighted to respond to my colleague from Ottawa Centre. I was privileged to be the chair of the governing council of the University of Toronto at the time that this agreement was being negotiated and finally concluded between the University of Toronto and OISE, and I can attest personally to the energies and the skills and the talents that went into fashioning what is a very creative, dynamic merger and what I think will be an excellent initiative for the province of Ontario and for the people of the province of Ontario.

I think the institutions are to be commended. I think Ontario will benefit greatly from the merger or from the research that will come from the merger. I certainly look forward to an institution which will be of great value and unparalleled perhaps in Canada.

I wish, as I said before, everyone involved in the venture well. There is indeed a lesson for the government, particularly in these difficult times, to harness our best talents and our wisest minds which in fact reside within the colleges and the universities -- or at least many of them do -- and ask of them to find creative and innovative ways to resolve what are some very difficult and challenging fiscal problems for us, and not seek to impose through authoritarian, mindless ways strictures on the institutions which inevitably will lead to mistakes which this government will come to rue in the years to come.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I would like to offer a few brief remarks about this matter because it is a matter of great importance. I have a brown envelope that's been handed to me on which I have a few notes made.

First of all, we will be supporting this bill. I join my colleague in supporting this legislation. I congratulate the New Democratic Party on having consummated this agreement, and the present government, of course, is following through once again on another piece of NDP legislation. That is going to raise some eyebrows in all the important clubs in Ontario.

Bob Nixon will agree with this because I was speaking to him just the other night and told him the government was finally -- this was finally happening, that the NDP had agreed to it and now the Conservatives. He was delighted and sends along his best wishes. But we have to remember that the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education currently has an enrolment of 1,400 master's degree students and 900 doctoral students at various stages in its programs, which shows that it is doing an excellent job.

The problem is that we're all probably wondering, when the minister of colleges and universities brought forward a bill, if he would be at that time announcing a 20% increase in tuition fees for the students going to the University of Toronto, because that's what they have to look forward to. After a 42% increase over the past five years, they've got yet another 20% increase at a time when they can't afford it and when OSAP is being modified, I believe, to the detriment of many of those students and at a time when the ministry of colleges and universities is cutting staff, so that the ministry is unable to deal with the many complaints and inquiries that young people have, and people not so young, who are endeavouring to obtain financial assistance through the auspices of the government of Ontario.

One thing I will say for this, with the money that's saved, I say to the member for Wentworth North because the Minister of Culture and --

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Recreation.

Mr Bradley: -- Recreation is here.

Hon Ms Mushinski: Don't forget citizenship.

Mr Bradley: And citizenship; culture, citizenship and recreation. She will now know that with the money that has been saved she will be able to assist in providing funding matching the federal and municipal governments, funding to deal with environmentally restoring the Martindale Pond in St Catharines and undertaking the work necessary to secure final international approval to hold the world rowing championships in St Catharines on the world-famous Royal Canadian Henley Regatta course.

The member for York Mills, the chief government whip, his son was down there. I noticed him in Port Dalhousie with a lovely young woman, who was his daughter, and his son was down there as well, and they were enjoying St Catharines. He had his family down; it was a family day. His son was rowing at that time and I believe won a silver medal. Congratulations to him.

So with the money you have saved, because I know you want to redirect it, we now have the opportunity to invest it in that world-class facility so that the world rowing championship will be held there.

To all of you, I promised you that I would be finished before 11 o'clock tonight with this particular speech. But I do urge you to assist those students out there so that we don't have a situation where the sons and daughters of the wealthy and the privileged are able to have a university and a college education and not those of people of modest means.

The Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate? Seeing none, Mr Skarica has moved third reading of Bill 45.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved it do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried. I was sure that it would pass. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 2258.