36th Parliament, 1st Session

L094 - Tue 25 Jun 1996 / Mar 25 Jun 1996





















































The House met at 1333.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The city of North York, of which my riding is part, has endured a crisis. In the past 18 months, 18 major businesses have fled North York, at a cost of millions of dollars in lost property tax revenues. What is worse is that many other businesses are packing it up just as quickly.

Unfortunately, as businesses shut their doors, jobs are lost, and in many instances, these jobs and businesses not only leave North York; in ever-increasing numbers they leave the province as well. But North York is only a symptom of the problem. In Metro, 27 major businesses have shut their doors, costing the city tens of millions of dollars in lost property tax revenue and thousands of jobs.

We don't need another study to tell the business community and the people of Metro Toronto what they already know. The people and business community of Metro deserve action on tax reform.

A while back we were promised that we would see legislation in April. We didn't. Now, almost three months after the fact, the minister has deferred legislation by another six weeks.

The longer the government delays a decision, the more businesses will opt to leave Metro, costing jobs and millions of lost property tax revenues.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): More victims. This Friday, 20-plus staff from downstairs in the legislative cafeteria are gone, out, victims of this so-called revolution.

Let me say to these Tory backbenchers as they line up down there with their $78,000-plus-a-year incomes to be served by any number of those hardworking women and men down in that cafeteria and foodservices, when they look into the faces of those people, what do these Tory hacks have to say to people like Anna Aurilia, two and a half years away from retirement, 18 years of working in this assembly, thrown out on the street?

It ain't much of a revolution; it ain't very much common sense. We've got victims downstairs in this assembly today. We've got fat, blue-suited Tories smiling and twiddling their thumbs as lives are being destroyed.

Oh, the prospect of being hired by the new contract services, Marriott, at a rate of pay starting at $7 or $7.50 an hour. That's big. That's real big.

I tell you, Speaker, that this government has created yet another group of victims in as ruthless and cold-hearted and brutal a way as could ever be imagined. I tell you that those cooks and cashiers and waiters and waitresses downstairs have been brutally attacked by a thuggish, despicable, swinish government.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I would like to take this opportunity to invite the people of Ontario to an exciting event taking place July 1 in Oxford, the Zorra Highland Games.

This year marks the 59th annual Highland Games in Embro, and I would like to point out that this event has only increased in popularity throughout those 59 years.

This year not only thousands from my riding but many people from across southwestern Ontario, the United States, Switzerland and Scotland will take part in the numerous events featured.

One of the biggest and most exciting events is the Lafarge Canada Inc memorial tug of war. This event started in 1993 in honour of the Zorra team that captured the tug of war championship at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

Teams from across Ontario will compete against two teams from Switzerland and several from the United States as they stake their claims to the 1996 championship.

For those who love highland dance, there will be more than 175 dancers from across Canada, the US and Scotland kicking up their heels and joining in time with the pipe bands on hand to entertain and compete.

I would like to invite members of the public and especially my fellow MPPs to join in the fun of the stone toss, caber toss and farmers' walk, which sees participants carry 185-pound concrete blocks until they drop them. The person carrying them the farthest wins.

So on behalf of all those in Oxford, I would like to invite those who love the games to Embro on July 1.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'd like to remind this government about a commitment made to families who participate in the special services at home program. Many of the children involved with this program are severely affected with disabling conditions and require 24-hour care in order to sit, stand, walk, eat or dress, all things many of us take for granted. Through the assistance of dedicated parents and programs such as special services at home, these children have the chance to realize their full potential.

On October 16, the Minister of Community and Social Services pledged the support of the government to this program in the House, maintaining that funding for the program had not been cut. He said, "We're protecting the funding for these programs to help parents with the cost of raising a disabled child." Now we find that this commitment is not as straightforward as it appeared.


The truth is, more and more families are opting to keep their special-needs family members at home, in safe, nurturing environments. Funding as a result is spread further and does not support the families in the way that they need.

Families in my riding have been informed that the support that they receive under that program has been cut by at least 25%. Let me repeat that: 25%. The needs that they have to support their children at home haven't changed, yet funding has been drastically reduced.

Let me reassure you that the needs of these families do not diminish and, if anything, their needs increase as these children grow and develop. The only thing that has changed is the commitment by this government to maintain this program so that it truly supports those who need it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Last night marked a very special occasion in my riding of Riverdale, the official dedication of Time: and a Clock, a public art project initiated by the Queen-Broadview Village Business Improvement Area. The event was the culmination of years of work by member merchants and residents of the area: one of Toronto's most historic neighbourhoods.

Time and a Clock is a three-site installation. On the Queen Street bridge over the Don River is a clock and a river of text. Embedded in the sidewalks at the intersection of Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue are four meditations on time. On Queen Street East at Empire Avenue are four pennants of time.

The Queen-Broadview area has suffered greatly through the recent recession. It's a testament to small businesses in the area that they've continued their dedication to this project.

I particularly want to thank Albert Edelstein, who has been chair of the Queen-Broadview Village BIA for about 17 years, for his continued dedication and hard work to the economic development of the area. I also want to congratulate Eldon Garnet, the artist who conceived and created this stunning piece of public art. The work perfectly weaves together a sense of the area's historic legacy and the hope that we all share for a bright, better future.

Unfortunately, because the House sat last night discussing the government's plan to gut environmental assessment in Ontario, I had to miss the event, but I heartily want to congratulate all of those involved.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I wanted to let the members know of some exciting developments going on in Port Colborne, Ontario. Under the leadership of Mayor Neal Schoen, Port Colborne has shown that it belongs to the new school of government. It believes in cutting taxes, balancing budgets, reducing red tape and duplication. It believes lower taxes lead to higher growth.

Port Colborne is promoting economic growth by cutting taxes, like the provincial government is doing, for new home buyers. A creative incentive program announced by Mayor Schoen in the city will give new home buyers in Port Colborne up to a $5,000 tax break on new homes when combined with the provincial land transfer tax rebate.

Recently, with Canol Block opening its doors once again after two years standing idle; with Niagara Shoes, an employer of 30 women and men, winning a $1-million contract; with Raven Industries expanding its workforce significantly; and just down the road in Welland, Ontario, with Canadian Tire Acceptance increasing its workforce by 100 people; and Alliance Communications Call Centres tripling its workforce by another 100 people; with new growth and new jobs and 3,000 jobs coming to the peninsula directly with Casino Niagara and with this new program in Port Colborne, Ontario, I'll tell you, for these new jobs, the new people coming to the Niagara Peninsula, Port Colborne, Ontario, will make a very fine place to live.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I rise today to jog the memory of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, as well as two other cabinet colleagues, about how they have misled the people of eastern Ontario regarding the reopening of the parks and the campgrounds in my area.

For years now, they have been talking about -- unfortunately, all it has been is talk -- reopening these parks to tourists and visitors through partnership and private sector enterprise. When I asked the minister last fall when he'd open the parks, he told me -- I am quoting from the October 26 edition of Hansard -- that he'd like to "investigate a bit further into the situation."

More recently, on April 2, 1996, when I cautioned the minister that he was ruining tourism opportunities and economic rejuvenation in eastern Ontario, he said, "when the summer is finished, it's going to have been very prosperous season for eastern Ontario."

Then there is my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food from Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and East Grenville, who said over two years ago, "Potential private operators...can do a very good job" reopening the parks, and "I hope the government addresses this before the summer" of 1994.

Minister, you have been in power for over a year now, and to date, you have failed to prove that good news is coming by the end of the summer for all the private investors to create jobs for students.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Members will know that I often rise in this House to talk about the wonderful community of Beaches-Woodbine and the incredible spirit that is there as people come together to work to raise funds to help others in our community who are less fortunate.

Today I want to inform members of another event and invite them to attend the Great Lake Race for Charity. The Great Lake Race for Charity is now in its 13th year. I had an opportunity 14 years ago to be a member of the board of directors of Community Centre 55 when we initiated this.

It takes place on Monday, July 1, Canada Day. It's a 30-mile race involving North canoes. It starts from Niagara-on-the-Lake and finishes at Ontario Place some time between 11 and noon. It's the biggest canoe race of its type in Ontario.

There are a lot of people involved in making this happen and a lot of corporations which have sponsored it over the years. This year corporations like Husky Injection Molding Systems, TECHCAN, Chrysler, the Toronto Sun, Labatt's and the Bank of Montreal are all involved.

I want to pay particular tribute this year to Robert Schad, owner of Husky, for his ongoing support but his support for a boat which is for paraplegic athletes. This is the first and only North canoe of its kind, and it's the world's first adapted sports canoe for persons with disabilities. The Adapted Sport Technology Research Association, ASTRA, along with One Step Beyond, have developed this so that people with disabilities can be fully integrated into this event.

It's an incredible event. The money that is raised by the teams of paddlers who dedicate their time and earn money for this goes to good works within my community. I hope you'll all come out and join us.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House to comment on labour's day of disruption in Peterborough yesterday. I had the opportunity to tour downtown Peterborough before the march to find that many businesses were not going to close no matter what. Many merchants indicated they were going to lose significant amounts of money, but they chose to do this out of their belief in democracy, that we all have individual rights no matter what side you're on.

As the 4,000 protesters gathered in Crary Park to hear from the out-of-town labour leaders about the negative, the rest of the city was concentrating on the positive.

I had the opportunity to welcome a Japanese delegation visiting Peterborough to witness the excellent programs offered to our senior citizens. I attended a sod ceremony for a massive real estate development, a project that will build 1,200 homes, which means jobs.

Many people participated in various activities for a variety of reasons. Taking a stand is something we all have to do. To everyone who went to work yesterday and stayed open for business, let me thank you for choosing to stand up and be counted. Our city was not shut down. The people of Peterborough were the only real winners.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario's 1995 annual report and the individual members' expenditures report for the fiscal year 1995-96. The members will find a copy of this report in their desks in the chamber.



Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Over the past 10 years, previous governments have put stricter and stricter controls on rental housing. They said they wanted to protect tenants. I believe they thought their changes would help, but the reality is that they did just the opposite.

Rental buildings are getting more and more run down, and no new apartments are being built. In Toronto, for example, only 20 units were built last year, and that's in a city with a vacancy rate that's plunging to zero.

Our rental stock is on average over 25 years old, and much of it is crumbling. It's only going to get worse unless something is done to deal with this reality.

Over the past year, we consulted with landlord groups and we consulted with tenant groups. It became quite clear that on several issues their views are polarized.

Tenants need a system that protects them from skyrocketing rents and ensures that their homes are properly maintained, safe and secure. Our government wants this too.

Landlords, on the other hand, have told us they can't recover their costs for maintenance. We need to make the system more attractive so that landlords want to invest in their buildings and want to properly maintain them. Our government wants this too.


For these reasons, we are proposing changes in the current system. We will continue to protect tenants from unfair rent increases. There will continue to be an annual guideline set each year. We will maintain the current calculation for setting the guideline and, like today, landlords will have to apply if they want to go above it.

A cap on the above-guideline increases will be maintained. Capital expenditure increases will be capped at 4% above the guideline. This cap is necessary to avoid the problems of the 1986-90 system when tenants were experiencing 30%, 40% and 50% increases. This will not happen under our new system.

Rent increases related to extraordinary operating costs such as municipal taxes, fees and utilities will not be capped. Landlords have no control over these costs and the resulting rent increases tend to be very low.

Tenants will still be able to make applications concerning rent reductions and illegal rent increases.

Tenants will be protected while they remain in their units. When a tenant moves out, however, a landlord can negotiate a market-based rent with the new tenant. Once the new tenant moves in, rent controls will once again apply.

As a result of this change, we will stop tracking maximum rents and get rid of the cumbersome rent registry.

These changes will give landlords greater incentive to maintain their buildings. It should also mean more investment in rental buildings, with the resulting economic growth and job creation.

The rules will be tougher for those landlords who refuse to properly maintain their buildings. Municipalities will have greater powers to enforce the maintenance and repair of existing rental stock and, in particular, to fine serious offenders of the property standards bylaws.

The proposed Tenant Protection Act will also have stronger provisions to keep landlords from harassing tenants. Fines will be increased and municipalities will have greater flexibility to lay charges.

Care home residents, land-lease communities and mobile home park residents will also be guaranteed protection. They will continue to have rent and tenancy protection as well as special rules to address their unique needs.

We have long aimed to make the system more efficient and responsive to tenants. Therefore, the Landlord and Tenant Act will be moved out of the courts and become part of the new legislation.

Tenants' rights won't change under the act. Matters will be resolved through an administrative body to streamline the dispute process and provide one-stop shopping in all tenancy-related matters. Our system will mean faster decisions.

A consultation paper that sets out our new direction is being released today. We invite comments from the people of this province through to August 30. We're also planning legislative committee hearings across the province throughout the summer and hope to introduce legislation in the fall.

We stated from the outset that we would not put forward a new rent control system without first ensuring tenants were protected against unfair rent increases, and we've done that. We wanted a system that would get tough on enforcing maintenance. We've done that. We wanted a system that would significantly improve the climate for new investment, and we've done that. We wanted a system that would streamline administration and cut red tape, and we've done that too.

We wanted to create a more balanced system that was fair for landlords, tenants and Ontario taxpayers. We believe we have found that balance.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Today, of course, it is a long-awaited statement we wanted from this minister which has taken so long. What this government has done is officially declare war on the tenants in our province. This paper, as I read it, is nothing more than a strategy to displace tenants so landlords can profit when a new tenant moves in, as he has indicated. It's going to be a siege mentality in this province from now on in regard to tenants. This new system pits landlords against tenants. Tenants will now have the burden of disputing every problem with their landlord.

First, it was the cancellation of all non-profit housing; he came in with his sledgehammer and did that. Then they went on to reduce those who are on welfare by 22% to make sure the poor were being attacked. Mr Leach and his government seemed to have forgotten all about the people on the waiting lists for affordable accommodation. Speculation is afoot about selling off Ontario Housing to the private sector because it can do it better.

Who looks after those tenants? Where is this minister? This is a minister who wants to get out of the housing business and give it to the private sector. That's what they're doing. People are paying up to 50% and 60% of their income on rent. They cannot afford the current rents as we see them today. What your new system will do is force rents up, not down.

Don't forget about the seniors and the disabled. Don't forget that 80% of this province's disabled live in private rental accommodation. They, along with other tenants, will not be able to move. They'll be stuck in their homes. They'll be sentenced to their apartments because moving will mean an enormous rent increase. That's what you said. As soon as they move, they are subject to higher rents, and when they get in, they are stuck with those high rents anyhow.

Under this current system, newly constructed buildings are exempt from rent control for five years, as he talked about, but no one has built. In the new system, that won't change. Landlords will harass tenants to get out of their apartments, and you know it. As we see it, that way a landlord can get a tenant out, have an empty apartment, take the rent control off, hike up the rent, advertise, get a new tenant in and get a heftier rent. My God, what a system; quite a system to be put in place.

They will set up a whole new bureaucracy, they said, to deal with tenant harassment. This move, from a government that talks about cutting red tape and reducing government, really surprises me. I would like to see, when that bureaucracy is set up, what the cost will be.

It will not work. This system will mean higher rents for tenants. There's no way the market will force rents down. The motivation behind taking units off rent control is allowing landlords to jack rents up.

They are waiting until the last week of this House, as you have seen -- as a matter of fact, the last day or two in the sitting -- to announce this paper, even though the minister has known for a long time what plans he had calculated.

I am glad that many tenants have organized and confronted you and told you to take your hands off rent control. That's what they have done. Somehow you are playing the squeeze game to make sure they seem to be satisfied. This process will not work. Tenants will be in fear of what their rents will be if they should move. If you think that you have heard from the tenants already and that you have consulted, as you said, in the short time you gave to do this enormous change, I am advising every tenant out there to call Mr Leach, the minister.

Thanks for technology. The telephone number of the Minister of Housing is (416) 585-7000. Call him. Send him a fax and tell him what you think about this plan; 585-6470 is the fax number. I'm telling you that you'll be hearing from these tenants. We will be discussing in detail those six items in the legislation you want to change which will tamper with the protection of tenants so that you can let your friends convert and demolish those apartment buildings that we have protected over these years.

Take your hands off rent control. Make sure we have something that is fair to all.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): There you have it, the beginning of the end of rent control. The government has come out and has clearly chosen sides. In this province of Ontario the Conservative government, by this action, is saying that it's choosing the side of landlords and forgetting the side of the tenants, the people who are going to get it in the ear when it comes to what this legislation can do.

What's the government doing? It's hiding itself behind a façade of tenant protection. But the bottom line here is clear. What is it? Rents are going to go up in Ontario; there are no ifs, there are no buts, there are no two ways about it. What the government is saying is that if you build an apartment building in this province, it will never fall under rent control, which means that the tenants who move in will be under no protection from rent control, the landlord will totally have those tenants at their mercy, and the rents will go up according to what the landlord wants, with no regard for the tenant. As long as the market will bear the price, the payer will pay the bill; and that's what this thing is all about.


They also try to hide behind the question of vacancy decontrol. Vacancy decontrol means quite simply, what? Rents are going to go up. The landlord is going to say, "I'm getting $800 a month for my unit, I want to get $900 rent for my unit, so I will harass and I will intimidate, I will do whatever I can to get that tenant to move out of the unit so I can jack the price up."

The government in its own report that it's putting out in this discussion paper is saying, by their own admission, that this is going to be an issue of harassment, because they have set up themselves an harassment policy within this legislation in a guise to be able to protect the tenant. But the reality is, there's no teeth in this, there's no detail in this, there are no staffing requirements that have been spelled out at this point. It means to say, quite frankly, that if you own an apartment building in the province of Ontario and you want to kick your tenant out so you can raise your rent, you will get the benefit of doing that.

I say to this government, shame, because in the end, who is going to pay? It is going to be the tenants who pay. It is clearly, as I say, another example where this government has chosen sides. This government is intent to race to the very bottom, as they can, when it comes to legislation in this province, to take away the controls and the protection a tenant has, because why? They want to choose the sides of landlords, they wanted to choose the sides of big money at the expense of the working people of this province, the middle class of this province who rely on having affordable rents in order to be able to live, not counting what it means to the poor. It's going to be absolutely tragic for that particular group of people.

I say to the government, when a government forgets what its purpose is -- and its purpose is to be able to protect all people in this society to make sure that they're treated fairly and equitably -- I say that this government, quite frankly, is totally out to lunch when it comes to this particular issue. The tenants in this province are really at risk, and I would say to this government, in the end they should do the right thing, they should keep in place the legislation that was put in place by the NDP government, a piece of legislation that put protection of tenants squarely out in front and didn't try to hide behind the fact of trying to do something that it shouldn't. The bottom line is here, we need to protect tenants; and I say to the government, shame on you.

The other thing they're doing that I find quite interesting is they're taking away the protection of tenants to be able to settle their issues within the courts and to be able to do it within the rent control legislation. They're going to be setting up a tribunal system where tenants who disagree with what happens and how their landlords deal with them will be sent out in front of a tribunal. I would say that is an extremely bureaucratic process. In the end what it means to say is that the decisions will be made in the hands of bureaucrats, and not in the hands, under the auspices of legislation, through the legal system that is presently the situation today.

The government says that it's doing this, why? They're saying they're doing this because they want to build brand-new apartment buildings and they feel that rent control is the issue. The reality is, it is not rent control that is providing a roadblock to construction; it is a question of how much it costs to build a building. If the government was truly serious about trying to spur economic development and having new buildings built -- and I notice that the minister is agreeing with me -- the reality is, if you want to be able to increase the ability to construct apartment buildings in Ontario, you need to deal with the other issue.

This is nothing more than a guise of trying to repay the people who supported the Conservative Party and Conservative candidates in the last election by giving them huge contributions to their campaign coffers. And what did they get in exchange? The tenants are taken hostage in the province of Ontario, and the landlords are going to reap the benefits, and the tenants will pay the price. I say, shame on the government.



Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): My question is to the Attorney General. Minister, Guy Paul Morin's mother, Ida, is in the gallery today on behalf of the Morin family. For one year now, you and your Premier have been promising to quickly establish a public inquiry to determine who is accountable for this gross miscarriage of justice in the Guy Paul Morin case.

Mrs Morin today delivered a letter to the Premier which concludes by stating, "Guy Paul was exonerated on January 23, 1995, but in the eyes of the people of Ontario and Canada, this doesn't right the wrongs done by incompetent public servants and government officials to Guy Paul and his family."

It is now clear that you are in a conflict of interest. Whatever excuses you may offer to explain away the delays of an inquiry cannot now have any credibility. As the government's top legal adviser you are on the one hand a defendant in a lawsuit for compensation and on the other you are mandated to establish a public inquiry on the same set of facts, which facts may serve to increase compensation. As the chief law officer for the province you are bound to act ethically. Minister, you are in a conflict of interest.

My question is this: In view of this conflict, will you now authorize Justice Gold to completely and independently establish the public inquiry which has been ordered?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It has been the intention of the government to ensure that such an independent inquiry will take place and we are in the course of making those arrangements.

Mr Chiarelli: That answer is simply not satisfactory in view of the time that has expired, but I have a question about Justice Gold's role. In February 1995 the then Attorney General stated that her advice from Justice Gold was "very clear" that the commission and the courts will be able, at the same time, to deal with both the issue of compensation and the issue of a public inquiry: "It is much more important in the public interest to go ahead with a public inquiry in as expeditious a manner as possible."

Some 16 months later, on May 28, 1996, you told this House you are still working with Justice Gold and taking his advice. My question is this: Has Justice Gold changed his mind, after 16 months, about establishing a public inquiry as expeditiously as possible? If so, will you tell us why he has been supporting delays in establishing the inquiry?

Hon Mr Harnick: I continue to take advice from Justice Gold, who is mandated to deal with a certain aspect of this issue. He is dealing with it, and I am taking his advice.

Mr Chiarelli: From time to time over the last eight or 10 months, you have indicated your inability to find the necessary judges from outside Ontario's jurisdiction to be appointed to the inquiry. My question to you is this, and I'd like you to be very specific: How many judges whom you or your officials have approached have declined appointment to this inquiry, and how many, if any, have agreed to participate to date? Will you give us a date for the start of the public inquiry or will you continue to stonewall it until you can jawbone down a settlement on financial terms on the civil case?

Hon Mr Harnick: We have indicated that we will proceed with an inquiry and we will be doing what has to be done to ensure that inquiry is an independent inquiry that examines the issues that are outstanding and that are the cause for concern. We will comply with that mandate.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It concerns the plan introduced today which can only be regarded as this government's tenant "rejection" package. It will take any controls which exist now off all new units in perpetuity, but more importantly it will allow rents to increase to any level possible once someone has moved out of a unit. It has also anticipated that this will cause landlords to intimidate, to go after tenants to get them out of their apartments because it's made it more favourable to do so. In anticipation of this, it's created a whole new bureaucracy to deal with intimidation by landlords but one that won't work. It has set up, as it has in so many areas in this province, friction between landlords and tenants and it has broken its promise by taking controls off units.

I ask the minister today, is there one thing in this tenant "rejection" package which actually protects tenants in this province?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I know what it will do. It won't give you a system that was in between 1986 and 1990 where we had 30%, 40% and 50% increases. If there was ever a rent control system that failed, it was yours.

We're going to put before the public over the summer a consultation paper that provides a balance between tenants' rights and landlords' rights to get a reasonable return on their investment. At the present time there's absolutely no fairness in the system, and we intend to bring fairness to it.

Mr Kennedy: It's unfortunate the minister chooses not to answer the question and at least to agree, admit for sake of clarity so that the tenants out there will know, and the landlords who have been given a disservice by the way this is structured, that this government has broken its promises. The Premier made a promise to lower rents. Where are the lower rents in this?

The minister has decided to give away all the enforcement of standards to municipalities. Municipalities will charge user fees, municipalities will get no extra money from the government to enforce those standards and the access to the courts is going to be cut off.

Minister, agree at least very clearly that the promise you made in your riding to be elected and the promise the Premier made in the constituency of York South, that rents would be lowered, was broken in the consultation position paper you produced today.

Hon Mr Leach: We've kept every promise we made. We said we wouldn't touch the rent control system until we had something that was better, something that was fairer, and this is fairer and better. They will see it. As we go out to consultation over the summer they will have an opportunity to have input. If there's an opportunity to improve the positions we put forward we'll be glad to do that but I think, as I said earlier, what we put forward is a fair and balanced package.

Mr Kennedy: The disappointment is profound because the minister is unable to come to terms with the essence of what he's presented to the House today, that after all the fear that's been created out there among tenants, all the insecurity, it's now come true: People are sentenced to their own apartments. They can't move for fear of how much that will cost them.

Rather than deal with the housing shortage, none of the factors that are really causing the problems with rental stock have been addressed in this proposal today. Instead we will see as people move -- some 25% of apartments get vacated each year -- the end of rent controls. Minister, for the sake of the integrity of this House and for your own integrity, admit today that rent controls effectively have ended in this province. This is what you've said in the consultation paper and this is what we need to discuss over the summer.

Hon Mr Leach: The only thing that bothers me about this conversation is having to look over at those buttons that were bought and paid for by the city of Toronto. That's really irritating, but that's another issue.

We have put this consultation together after major discussions with landlords' groups and tenants' groups. We've consulted with tenants, we've consulted with landlords and we know we've got a system that is balanced, better than what is there now. As we continue to go on I know we'll improve it, and we intend to have the standing committee go out to the public this summer and we'll bring in legislation this fall.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): It's interesting to notice that the Liberal Party, which voted against rent control, now wants to pretend that they're in favour of it.

My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Your package means the end of rent control. You want landlords to be able to jack up the rent when a tenant moves out, you want landlords to get a bigger rent increase for sitting tenants as well and you've removed rent controls entirely for new buildings. Are you saying that rents aren't high enough? Is that your point?

Hon Mr Leach: To the leader of the third party, congratulations on your election; I never had an opportunity to do that yesterday.

We know that under the present formula the NDP brought in, right now the maximum rents in many cases are higher than the market rents, so if you wanted a system that put rents up higher than they should be, then you should keep your system.


Hon Mr Leach: That's right, absolutely right. In many instances there are people who own apartment buildings who will tell you they couldn't get the amount of rents that were put under the controls of rent control.

The system we're bringing forward is a very balanced system that has been negotiated between landlords and tenants. We want to put it on the street to make sure we get further input, and we'll do that.

Mr Hampton: I want to be sure I follow the logic here. I believe what the minister said is that rents are too high and therefore he's going to bring in a system which will allow them to move higher. Minister, you're clearly hoping that tenants overlook one basic fact: Your package will mean the end of rent control. That's what it means. As you just said, your package will mean higher rents.

Tenants move a lot. In fact, your own study shows that more than two thirds of tenants move at least once every five years. This means that more than two thirds of tenants will face an unregulated rent increase within the next five years. You don't have to look very far down the road to see that means the end of rent control. Why don't you just come right out and say to people that you want rents to be higher, that that's your real goal here? Why don't you just come out and say it?

Hon Mr Leach: To the leader opposite, what we want to do is make sure we have a system that will entice the industry back into building more apartments. Right at the present time, tenants have absolutely no choice. If we don't get the industry building more apartments, things are going to get worse and worse for tenants. What we have to do is develop a balanced system that gives incentives for the industry to get back into building while still having rent control on for sitting tenants.

Mr Hampton: What I think I heard was the minister say that rents aren't high enough and he wants to push up rents. He says that by pushing up rents he thinks he can get more apartments. But I want to say to the minister, the average household income of tenants is only $34,000 a year. More than one third have incomes of less than $20,000 a year. Many are seniors on fixed incomes. So I guess I have to say to the minister, this is what you think is a good thing, that lower-income people, that seniors on fixed incomes are going to pay more so that your friends the landlords get more? Is this your idea of a good thing?

Hon Mr Leach: As we all know, most seniors live in their buildings and they stay in their buildings, and as long as they're there under existing -- they have absolutely nothing to be worried about. This fearmongering that's going on by the opposition is totally unnecessary. They have rent controls on their units. It's the same formula the NDP brought in. What they're so upset about I don't understand. I can only repeat that the package we're putting forward is fair and balanced and it will work.

The Speaker: New question, the leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: To the same minister, you said, and you alluded to it here today, that landlords told you that if you got rid of rent control, in other words, if you got rid of rent control and allowed rents to rise, they would build 20,000 new units in Metro alone. You've repeatedly said that the aim of your reform is to get the landlords to build, but your own report, the Lampert report issued last fall, says that getting rid of rent controls won't do it, that it's not the answer. The landlords want a whole bunch of other goodies too. The landlords want other things.

What guarantees have landlords given you that they will build affordable rental housing as a result of the end of rent control that you've announced today? What guarantee?

Hon Mr Leach: To the member opposite, they said that if we put a fairer system together, get rid of the unfairness that's in the system, they will come back and build, and I believe they will build.

The member of the opposition is right that rent control alone is not going to entice the industry back. It's one of the issues. One of the other issues is the unfairness in the tax system, and why the city of Toronto, which buys the buttons on Save Rent Control, charges tenants four times the amount of tax that they do for a single-family home is a mystery to me. So if we address the tax issue, if we address a number of other issues, we're confident that the industry will come back and build apartment buildings once again.


Mr Hampton: I didn't hear a guarantee there. What I heard is that poorer people, that fixed-income people, that seniors on fixed income, that people who are at the lower level of incomes in the province are going to pay more, and there's absolutely no guarantee that there is going to be more apartment stock, more housing stock, no guarantee whatsoever. So the minister is saying rents should go up. You've cut off the supply of non-profit and co-op housing but you won't guarantee any solution here.

Minister, will you admit that the only incentive you've given to the private sector, the only incentive here, is the incentive to make big profits by getting rid of their tenants, and that the end of rent control won't guarantee a single unit of new affordable housing? We've got no guarantee.

Hon Mr Leach: What I can absolutely guarantee is that it sure won't be any worse than what you had, with 20 new units built in the GTA last year. That's shameful. Some 60,000 people move into this area every year, and there are absolutely no new apartment buildings being built.

We know that the industry is anxious to get out there and build when they can be assured they'll get a reasonable return on their investment, and if we make the changes we're planning to make, we know they're going to get out there and build, something they would never do under your legislation.

Mr Hampton: The issue here is any guarantee that new rental accommodation will be built, and the minister can't offer any, so he's relying on other excuses now.

Minister, I'm going to send over to you three election leaflets put out by the member for High Park-Swansea, the member for Eglinton and your candidate in York South. They say things like, "Mike Harris will strengthen rent controls, not cancel them," "Rent controls will remain," and "Mike Harris will maintain controls for all tenants in rental units."

Minister, you are scrapping rent controls. The whole thrust of your policy is to increase rents, and you can't guarantee that a single unit of affordable housing will be built to compensate. Will you admit that you have broken the promise made by your colleagues to tenants? Will you admit that you've broken a promise?

Hon Mr Leach: Actually, I can tell the honourable member that we've kept the promise. What we've done is brought in a system that is going to be fairer and is going to be more balanced and is going to provide more choice for tenants. Right now, tenants have limited choices because the policies of the previous government wouldn't entice anybody to build anything in this city or in this province. So what we're doing is to ensure that tenants have choice.

I can tell you that in any area where there is a large vacancy rate, landlords are offering incentives for tenants to sign two-year leases. In Ottawa, for example, they're offering free televisions or free microwaves to sign a two-year lease. Why? Because there is supply and there is competition. Without supply and without competition, tenants are trapped. They were trapped under your system; they'll be let free under ours.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health. On July 15, your new user fees for prescriptions needed by sick seniors, those on social assistance and those coping with mental disability will kick in across the province. The confusion regarding the implementation of these new user fees is widespread, Minister. You acknowledged this confusion when you changed the implementation date from June to July 15. Furthermore, in a letter to my colleague the member for Port Arthur, you stated, "The Ministry of Health recognizes that collecting the proposed copayment may present some challenges."

Minister, are you going to clarify the confusion regarding this poorly conceived idea? Answer the question of how you're going to ensure seniors are informed that they have to apply. How are you going to justify that fees will vary from community to community and pharmacy to pharmacy? How are you going to deal with the compliance problems that people in long-term-care facilities, sick seniors, are going to face and those people with mental disability who are trying to cope in our community? How are you going to tell all of those people that you've solved the problems, the challenges that you've identified, when you bring in the new user fees that you promised during the election you would not bring in?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It's interesting. When Sheila Copps, her federal cousin, was in the by-election, she blamed this government, which has fully preserved the health care budget, in fact increased it, for cuts in health care. The only cuts going on in Canada in health care are the $2.2 billion that the federal Liberal Party is taking away from the seniors and the children and the patients and the sick and elderly in this province. So let's clear up the record once and for all from this person, who's a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and Ontario. I'm getting a little tired of this.

Secondly, user fees are illegal in Canada under the Canada Health Act. If the copayments, for example, that are in every other province in Canada, including provinces run by four Liberal premiers, were illegal for some reason under the Canada Health Act, then I expect Mr Dingwall and Mr Chrétien would be clawing back those provinces for illegal user fees. That is not happening. These are not user fees and in fact they are the lowest copayments on any drug plan in Canada, the envy of all Canadians. We're sorting through the technical difficulties, keeping in mind that Ontario is not breaking new ground with this program; we're simply catching up to nine other provinces who have gone through all of these problems and solved them to the satisfaction of the people of their provinces.

Mrs Caplan: The minister can rant, he can rave, but his rhetoric is not going to belie the fact that he promised they would bring in no new user fees, and on July 15 Mike Harris and the Conservative government are bringing in new user fees for the drug program. Minister, the technical difficulties that you have just referred to are hurting real people, and you have an obligation to stand in this House today and explain to those people how you're going to protect them.

I don't understand why you are hell-bent for putting in these new user fees. These user fees are going to affect sick seniors, sick children, disabled children, people who are suffering from mental disability. Will you confirm in this House today that you are planning to waive the user fees for recovering drug addicts on methadone? And if you are, how do you justify this action to people who are coping with mental illness in the community, who have compliance problems and need to take their drugs in order to survive day by day? What do you say to mothers with sick children who need antibiotics and are on social assistance and what do you say to those senior citizens living in long-term-care facilities? How do you tell people where they are supposed to fill in their application forms, and how do you justify waiving a copayment for recovering drug addicts but forcing others to pay the new user fees? Stand in this House today and answer those questions and forget your silly rhetoric.

Hon Mr Wilson: I say to the honourable member, that may be the way she views a $2.2-billion cut in health and social services in transfer payments over two years from your federal cousins in Ottawa, but I don't think it's silly rhetoric. It is a reality that this government is dealing with in terms of fully preserving and enhancing our health care system. That is a reality and it is a minor miracle that we've been able to fully preserve the health care budget in this province and in fact enhance that budget in spite of the cuts.

I admit I've not raised this point very often, but my blood was boiling when Sheila Copps was running around this province saying Mike Harris and Jim Wilson cut health care. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of the facts in this House and in this government are contrary to what the honourable member and her party, at the federal level anyway, have been saying and she's been saying around this province too.


With respect to the implementation concerns the honourable member has, I have had the opportunity to discuss this with other health ministers in Canada, and we've got a lot of good ideas from those nine other provinces that have gone through this. Our plan is still the most generous plan in Canada. We are able, by having everybody pay a little bit in the copayment, to expand the program to 140,000 working poor families in addition to those that are getting help with their drug costs today. It's a good-news item.

As seniors' minister I met recently with CARP, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, and with the seniors' consumers association's Jane Leitch. They didn't even mention this issue, I say to the honourable member, because seniors in this province, in the spirit of generosity and in recognition of the federal government cuts and in wanting to fully preserve the Ontario drug benefit program, don't mind paying a few dollars to be generous to their fellow citizens, expand the program and save the program from your federal cousin's cuts. That's the generosity of spirit of the seniors in this province, and that's being expressed by their groups.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General and the Minister of Correctional Services. Minister, in addition to the allegations of abuse on March 1 at Elgin-Middlesex that our caucus has been raising over the last few weeks, I have learned that at least three more young people were allegedly assaulted approximately two weeks later at the same institution.

Following these incidents, apparently these young people were isolated for varying periods of time. At least one of those young people who was put in solitary confinement says he was not allowed phone calls until he was due in court some days later. I have been told that this individual appeared in court with bruises to his face and cuts to the inside of his mouth which he claimed to his lawyer, his parent and the child advocate were caused by a beating at the hands of correctional staff at Middlesex.

Minister, these are additional incidents of young people allegedly being assaulted while in the care of your ministry. We know these are young people who have been charged with crimes; that's why they're incarcerated. But we're also talking about people who have basic human rights in Ontario in 1996. I would remind you that both the Young Offenders Act and the Ministry of Correctional Services Act forbid corporal punishment of young people.

It's absolutely outrageous that this situation continues. It's your responsibility as the minister to ensure that young people are safe and secure while in the care of your ministry, that they are not mistreated and abused by anyone, especially correctional staff. If you and your office had taken the allegations of abuse seriously when they were first raised by the mother who called your office, if you had read your briefing note of March 7 and taken account of the concerns about safety, it may well be that these other young persons would not have experienced the abuse that they claim occurred.

Minister, won't you finally admit that your inaction on behalf of young people in your care resulted in these additional problems at EMDC?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I have indicated on a number of occasions now that I believe the ministry acted in a responsible fashion upon hearing of the concerns expressed by the child advocate. In fact I've said, and the opposition for reasons best known to them want to continue to ignore what the child advocate has said since that time, indicating her complete support for the response of the ministry with respect to the safety of young offenders. Certainly any allegations are treated seriously. I've indicated in this House on a number of occasions that we take these allegations very seriously. They're being properly and thoroughly investigated, and I believe we're handling them in a most appropriate way.

Mrs Boyd: Well, to make matters worse, the parent of one of these young offenders called the superintendent, Mr George Simpson, shortly after being told of the assault, and I'm sure you can guess what his response was. It was consistent with his memo of June 4 to the regional manager responding to the child advocate's report. He claims, as apparently he does when anyone complains, that young people in the care of the ministry are manipulators, liars and cannot be believed when they claim abuse. The parent was dissatisfied with his dismissive response and claims the superintendent refused to pursue this matter any further, again breaking the rules set out in your own policy around allegations of physical assault.

Are you aware that this young person, who alleges to have been assaulted by staff at Elgin-Middlesex, also felt intimidated by the presence of staff people who had witnessed the beating when he tried to contact the child advocate's office to complain about the incident? This amounts to interference and intimidation, exactly what the child advocate has alleged is endemic at EMDC in her report.

Isn't it true that these additional incidents are included in that child advocate's report? Isn't it true that this is not just one incident that took place on one evening after exceptional circumstances, it is numerous allegations of assault that took place over weeks and, for all we know, over months and possibly even years?

Hon Mr Runciman: This is a very selective use of the views of the child advocate and the opposition, especially the NDP, have continued to ignore, for political purposes I would suggest, the opinions of the child advocate with respect to the response of the ministry and the minister in this particular situation. If they want to sit down and talk to the child advocate with respect to her views in terms of how the ministry responded, they would have a totally different story to portray here in the House today.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): My question is to the Attorney General. I've recently heard about a pilot project that's supposed to be a collaboration between the local crown attorney's office and the local police. Could you please explain to the Legislature what this pilot project is and how it can benefit my community?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I thank the member for Brampton North for the question. We have indeed set up eight pilot sites in Brampton, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay, Whitby and Windsor. Formerly police briefs that have been used in crown prosecutions were stored at local police stations. Copies had to be made for court preparation, there was a lot of duplication of effort, materials being stored in separate locations.

What has now changed is that the original police briefs will be held in the integrated case management unit at the courthouses. There's no longer going to be a need to make copies of those briefs. There will no longer be a need to transport those briefs back and forth. This then will free up crown attorney time and police time and will result in savings to the justice system so that we can focus on prosecuting serious crime and ensuring that officers are out on the road keeping our communities safe.

Mr Spina: This program has been heralded following the recent Thunder Bay unveiling of this unit. As a tool to make administration of justice more direct and efficient, how will this new unit actually accomplish this?

Hon Mr Harnick: We have designed this new integrated unit to improve efficiency and reduce costs associated with the handling and storage of police and crown documents required for prosecution. This, as I said, will save travelling time, staff time in duplicating copies, and if any changes need to be made to documents they can be done very quickly.

Improved efficiency, the elimination of duplication and resulting cost savings are key elements in the ministry's plan to modernize the justice system and make it more accessible, timely and affordable. Our goal is to streamline the justice system and make it less cumbersome, less unwieldy and more available to those who need access to justice.



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): My question is also for the Attorney General, following on the heels of the last question. Yesterday in this House, the Solicitor General stated that he was looking forward to meeting with the police commissioner of New York to look at the crackdown on crime in that city. There it seems that the police and the justice authorities take crime very seriously and prosecute them all to the fullest. In fact the crime rate has plunged by 30% in that city.

You stated in this House in no uncertain terms that criminal prosecutions would not be reduced. In fact on May 13 you stated, "I have no plans to scale back the prosecution of crime in the province of Ontario.... We will not be scaling back prosecutions in this province one iota." Despite your denials and despite the Solicitor General's obvious differing stance on crime, a document by your ministry entitled Draft Screening Directives suggests that you're preparing to do just that. In fact your response just previously indicates that. That documents states: "Increased pressure on criminal courts and reduced resources are causing the ministry to change its prosecutorial screening standard."

Can you confirm that you are considering classifying such offences as death threats, fraud, break and enter as less significant and less deserving of resources, and are you disagreeing with the Solicitor General on the procedures on how to crack down on crime in this province?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): In order to avoid the problem that the former Liberal government had when they ignored the Askov crisis and they were the direct cause of having 70,000 cases thrown out of court, we recognize that the status quo is not possible. What we are doing in the Ministry of the Attorney General is working with senior officials, working with crown attorneys out in the field who know best their communities and developing strategies so that we can ensure that all serious crime is properly prosecuted in the most conventional way and that less serious crimes can be dealt with by some innovative means that will ensure the appropriate penalty for all crimes but that will not permit the jettisoning of crime from courts as was caused by the Liberal government during the David Peterson years when 70,000 cases, among them murder cases, manslaughter cases, drunk driving cases, sexual assaults, spousal assaults, were thrown out of court because they had no strategy to ensure that they could deal with all the cases coming into the court system. What did they do? They just let the cases be thrown out and made our communities less safe. That's why we are not resting with the status quo; we're dealing with the problem to ensure that we can always prosecute crime properly.

Ms Castrilli: That answer just defies belief. What the minister is actually saying is that he is prepared to let criminals walk away. What the minister is actually saying is that he's going to say to a young woman whose life is in danger because of a death threat that her right to have that investigated does not exist. He is going to say to a senior citizen in his own home that he is no longer safe; that when somebody breaks and enters into that home, there will be no prosecution. What kind of message is that to the criminals of this province and what kind of message is that to the people of Ontario?

Hon Mr Harnick: I might suggest that the member for Downsview pay a visit to the courthouse in her own riding at 1000 Finch Avenue, the North York provincial court. There she might get some insight from Mr MacDonald, the senior crown attorney in that jurisdiction, who can tell you a little bit about what crown attorneys are working on in order to ensure that they can manage the caseload that comes into the courts.

I might tell the member about the spousal abuse project that's being set up in North York provincial court, a scheme to deal with spousal assault, to deal with wife assault, to provide counselling, to look at different ways to solve problems.

I might invite the member for Downsview, who thinks she's a very enlightened person -- I think she would become a little more enlightened if she visited the court in her own community, to understand how crime is being dealt with, to understand how communities are being kept safe and to understand how crown attorneys are dealing with the intake of cases so that we don't have a repeat of what her government did to the justice system in this province, when people were allowed to go free because they couldn't prosecute the cases that were before the courts.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. Minister, you've tried for the last few weeks to distance yourself from the institutional abuse that is alleged to have happened at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. You've blamed ministry officials; you've blamed systemic problems within the ministry.

Young people are accusing the management at Elgin-Middlesex of assaulting them, and the management staff in turn say the youth suffered injuries because they assaulted each other. Correctional officers are accusing Elgin-Middlesex managers of ignoring the allegations of assault, and so are parents.

You deliberately refuse to answer any questions and continue to ask us to believe you remained unaware of these allegations for three months. You refuse to take responsibility for these very disturbing series of events that are hanging over your ministry. Minister, you are the one who must be held accountable for this mess. So I ask you very seriously and very directly, which one of the half-dozen investigations that you have set up will be investigating the role you and your political office played in this sad, disgraceful affair?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): There are two investigations, one being conducted by the police and one being conducted through the internal investigations unit within the ministry.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, you said yesterday, and I'm going to quote from Hansard from June 24:

"...I had briefing sessions on a daily basis with the acting deputy minister.

"The ministry of corrections at the best of times is a challenging ministry in terms of the incident reports, but I feel comfortable with the reports I had on the basis of the efforts I made to try and keep on top of the wide range of issues."

In fact, you've demonstrated the complete opposite. You are not up to the challenge of your ministry. You've shown your incompetence by not knowing about these very disturbing allegations until three months after the fact. You have the gall to say you feel comfortable with the briefings you were receiving, when there was a very serious omission day after day by your most senior official, whom you say with no shame you met with on a daily basis and you're comfortable with those briefings.

Minister, you cannot be the judge and jury of whether you acted appropriately and whether your ministry officials acted appropriately since you've already concluded by making this statement, and frankly many others, that you're quite comfortable with their actions as well as your own. To resolve this issue, Minister, we must put this whole matter before a parliamentary committee. We need to hear from Michael Jordan, the acting deputy minister; we need to hear from your deputy minister, Elaine Todres, and from Neil McKerrell, assistant deputy minister of correctional services -- from your own political staff and, frankly, from you.

Minister, since you do not have the decency to step aside until these investigations are concluded, will you at the very least refer this scandal to a parliamentary committee?

Hon Mr Runciman: I will await the outcome of the two investigations that are currently under way before I make any determination on whether or not any further action is required.



Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Although I've never claimed to be the most technologically advanced person -- did I say that right? -- I am rapidly learning the many benefits of technology and what it can offer to the rural areas of Ontario such as the riding of Perth.

I'm amazed by the number of my constituents who are putting this new industry to work as a method of obtaining up-to-the-minute information on everything from the daily weather forecast to the latest trading prices. It would appear that these advances are rapidly becoming necessary for members of rural communities to stay competitive in the new world markets.

Access to telecommunications would seem to be of great importance to the future economic prospects of rural communities, and I would like to ask the minister what role the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is playing in regard to the important rural infrastructure issue.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank the honourable member for Perth for his question. We always measure agriculture with weather and markets, but communications is very important to today's modern agriculture. I'm pleased to tell you that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been negotiating with Bell Canada and other telecommunications people to establish an advisory committee to better address the needs of rural Ontario. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, along with other groups, is represented on this committee. We used the forum to make sure that Bell Canada is well aware of the needs in the telecommunications of our rural and food producers in rural Ontario. Of course, this summer my colleague Mr Beaubien, the member for Lambton, who is also my parliamentary assistant, is working on that very subject. We are addressing the need for better communications in rural Ontario.

Mr Bert Johnson: It is good to hear that this ministry, along with the rest of the government, I might add, is on top of things. I look forward to the parliamentary assistant's visit to the riding of Perth to discuss these issues and the potential benefits to all Ontarians.

Of course, technological advancement always has a cost, and this new telecommunications infrastructure will be no exception. Does the Minister of Agriculture intend to provide any funding assistance to increase access to telecommunications and improve the economic activity in rural areas such as Perth?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, the rural areas are going to get some financial support. Colleagues in the Legislature will know that in the budget the Minister of Finance brought in recently there is $1.25 million to support student employment on farms; there is a rebate on farm building products of up to $20 million that farmers will be receiving if indeed they spend on expansion; and of course the Grow Ontario project has $15 million to promote research, development and competitiveness in rural Ontario. I would like to advise all members of this Legislature that this money is very much available for new projects to improve communications in the food-producing areas of Ontario.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. In the Hyde Park dump along the Niagara River there is over a tonne of dioxin, the largest single concentration of dioxin found anywhere I believe in the world. All along the Niagara River there are dozens of old toxic waste dumps that are leaching toxic materials into the Niagara River. Aquatic life, including fish, those which are found adjacent to those sites along the Niagara River, is growing tumours. The Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario, which is the source of drinking water for the city of Toronto and many other municipalities. Could you tell us how you can possibly justify the dismantling of the special environmental project team which had been established by your previous Conservative government and kept by two other governments to monitor and ensure the cleanup of the Niagara River?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): We are very concerned about any issues of toxic material entering our waterways or soils throughout the province. We are unable to continue every single project that has been in place over the years. We are working very hard at our core business, which is attempting to deal with all of the water and soil and air issues of the province. Right now that is an issue that we continue to work on with the federal government as much as possible.

Mr Bradley: If I had asked this question about eight years ago, the world would have come to a standstill.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): You would be asking it to yourself.

Mr Bradley: I tell the member from Ottawa who has such a big mouth over there that in 1987 the previous government signed an agreement to look after the monitoring and cleanup of the Niagara River, and on that occasion it was said that unless there was action to follow the signing of that agreement, the agreement would be worthless.

What we're seeing today, I tell the member and the minister, is a dismantling of a special environmental team that is supposed to be monitoring all progress on the cleanup of the Niagara River, which has many toxic dumps adjacent to it. You are totally dismantling this team, totally undermining the effort of the province of Ontario to protect the drinking and recreational water for the people of Toronto and all of the other communities that get or use the water in Lake Ontario.

Minister, will you not reconsider this decision and re-establish the team that was in place to protect the environment and particularly the drinking and recreational water of all those residents who live on Lake Ontario?

Hon Mrs Elliott: There's not a day goes by that in my news clippings I don't read about dumps leaking or old sites that are being discovered. It's not something new that's just happened as this government has come into power. These are environmental problems that have been occurring for years and years and years. We are now attempting to clean them up.

I can say to my colleague across the way that Ontario is showing leadership in a number of issues: many, many issues. In many issues we are the leaders, bringing other provinces together with the federal government to try and solve problems that are beyond just one jurisdiction alone.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question today is for the minister responsible for women's issues. Yesterday the Barrie and district rape crisis line held a news conference about the holdup in their funding. For a government that's so big on business planning, you have a pretty funny way of flowing money to your transfer payments.

The rape crisis line issued an announcement of their news conference last Friday, and lo and behold, on Monday they received a couple of calls, one from bureaucrats and one from your staff, saying that their funding would be forthcoming. This is after trying to get hold of people and get word on their funding for months. Nothing.

My question is, is this your new way of doing business? Do agencies providing vital services to abused and assaulted women have to call a news conference to get their funding?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I would suggest that the Barrie and district rape crisis centre doesn't have to hold a news conference. They just have to get in touch with us, as we tried to get in touch with them on Friday, and they'll have their cheque tomorrow.

Ms Churley: I would like to say to the minister that they tried to get hold of you; they tried to talk to people. Nobody would get back to them.

Minister, you are gutting the Ontario women's directorate. Now I know why nobody has been answering the phones there. There's hardly anybody left to answer the phones. Your business plan has totally --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. I'm having a problem to hear the question.

Ms Churley: -- whittled down the work of the directorate. In fact, your continued use of the term "community safety" as a replacement for "violence against women" is creating speculation that you intend to dissolve the directorate and transfer those programs to the Solicitor General, God forbid. Your layoff of most of the staff in this directorate only furthers this speculation.

Minister, will you tell us today what exactly are your plans for the Ontario women's directorate?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: The Ontario women's directorate is alive and well. I can tell you right now we have a business plan. It is promoting actively and supporting agencies such as the Barrie and district rape crisis centre. We have a plan for economic independence for women, and we're putting over $100 million into programs that support women who have been victims of assault and violence.

In spite of what the opposition keeps saying to our communities, we continue to fund 97 shelters, 34 sexual assault centres, 27 hospital-based sexual assault treatment centres, 16 male batterer programs, 13 crown offices for victim-witness programs -- expanded to 26, as my colleague the Attorney General announced last week -- four programs in the Solicitor General's agenda expanded to 20 next year.

I don't understand why you continue to perpetuate the image that the Ontario government and the people of Ontario are not out there to support women, because they are. The only person that we ever hear from is you, from your riding in Riverdale, promoting this kind of propaganda and encouraging the people in Barrie and district to have to send out this kind of brochure when in fact they just got $75,000 from the Minister of Health, and quite frankly, like the Minister of Health, most of us are pretty fed up with the fearmongering that you are doing to women across the province of Ontario.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training with regard to section 27 programs and those students in care and treatment in hospitals and correctional institutions. What commitment are you prepared to make to individuals receiving education in hospitals and correctional institutions?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the honourable member for the question. There have been some reports, some stories recently that grants and the provision of services by boards to young people who cannot attend a school because they're involved in a correctional or health care facility -- they're called section 27 grants because they're made under section 27 of the GLGs -- that there may be a withdrawal of some of these services. I assure the honourable member that our ministry is monitoring these programs and the supply of these services because we believe, and I think all boards across Ontario believe, that each child in Ontario, regardless of his or her circumstances, is entitled to a quality education system and access to a quality education system.

This current year the amount of money involved in section 27 grants to school boards is $68.5 million, and there'll be some 6,505 children serviced under the section 27 grants. We are monitoring that to make sure those services are provided.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): To the Minister of Education and Training; Our leader asked you a question about two weeks ago concerning a directive that was issued by your ministry to the isolate boards, and it instructed those boards that if they wanted to continue to deliver junior kindergarten programs, they would be required to impose an increase in the property tax by 5%. We called several more isolate boards and they confirmed that this is what was required of them. Some will have to increase property tax if they continue the program; some will not be able to continue.

Minister, it appears that you have two sets of rules. On one hand your government is opposed to tax increases, but on the other hand you and your government are instructing certain communities to increase their property taxes even though they can continue the program without being required to do so.

Will you reconsider this decision and will you give the isolate school boards the options of finding the funding without having to increase their taxes?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the honourable member for the question. I believe we did address this question a couple of weeks ago. As I'm sure the honourable member is aware, the way the funding works for isolate boards is considerably different from the way it works for boards that fall under the regular GLG structure. In fact, the province funds almost all education services in the isolate boards because generally there is not a large community to draw from for a local tax base.

The provisions under the GLG for isolate board funding are different from those for other boards and there is an attempt, whenever there is a change in funding by the ministry, to make sure that the same circumstances apply to the isolate boards as to the surrounding board areas so that they're on an equal footing and that the residents who are served in an isolate school board are on the same footing as the residents and taxpayers of the surrounding areas. In fact, that is what has been attempted by the ministry; that's the reason why we've had the changes to the funding model that we announced this year. I believe that the purpose of those grants is to make sure there's an equitable funding system and equitable community support by all those boards.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I've been informed that we have a visitor from Beaches-Woodbine in the gallery, a former member, Mr Thomas Wardle.


Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 76, An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act / Projet de loi 76, Loi visant à améliorer la protection de l'environnement, à accroître l'obligation de rendre des comptes et à intégrer la consultation publique à la Loi sur les évaluations environnementales.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): There will be a five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1505 to 1510.

The Speaker: We are dealing with second reading of Bill 76, standing in the name of Mrs Elliott. All those in favour will rise one at a time.


Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Ross, Lillian

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Runciman, Robert W.

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Sampson, Rob

Carroll, Jack

Johns, Helen

Saunderson, William

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

DeFaria, Carl

Jordan, W. Leo

Snobelen, John

Doyle, Ed

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Ecker, Janet

Klees, Frank

Sterling, Norman W.

Elliott, Brenda

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Eves, Ernie L.

Marland, Margaret

Tascona, Joseph N.

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Maves, Bart

Tsubouchi, David H.

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Vankoughnet, Bill

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Gilchrist, Steve

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wilson, Jim

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Witmer, Elizabeth

Guzzo, Garry J.

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Hardeman, Ernie

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

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


Bartolucci, Rick

Curling, Alvin

McGuinty, Dalton

Bisson, Gilles

Duncan, Dwight

Miclash, Frank

Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles E.

Bradley, James J.

Gravelle, Michael

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Hampton, Howard

Phillips, Gerry

Caplan, Elinor

Hoy, Pat

Pouliot, Gilles

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Churley, Marilyn

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Cleary, John C.

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Cooke, David S.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Cordiano, Joseph

Martel, Shelley


Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 72; the nays are 43.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent that Bill 76 should be referred to the standing committee on social development.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition to the government of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ministry of Health will begin to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filled; and

"Whereas the health care experts have asserted that user fees for drugs could jeopardize the health of individuals who cannot afford to pay for their medication; and

"Whereas Ontario's ex-psychiatric population rely heavily on prescription drugs to remain stable, and mental health care providers and the general public are scared of the outcome if these patients cannot afford to buy their medication because of the $2 dispensing fee when it is normal policy to only prescribe them a two- to three-day supply of medication to prevent potential misuse or an overdose; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee and will not even cover the costs of extra emergency services nor repeated hospital services. The $2 copayment will consequently not lead to cost savings but rather increases in the case of expensive health care services; and

"Whereas the current Ontario Minister of Health, as an opposition MPP, promised Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government of Ontario to repeal this user fee before it takes effect on July 15 because of the potential dramatic increase in emergency and police services, and the suffering and misery of human lives -- especially psychiatric outpatients and those who depend on medication for their daily survival."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition from approximately 50 residents of Blind River, Algoma Mills and Sudbury. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and states:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith;

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years;

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and a reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I'm in full agreement with this petition and I affix my signature thereto.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): This is a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas moose hunters must be in possession of a valid moose tag to legally hunt moose during the designated hunting season in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources holds an annual moose tag draw for all applicants to determine those hunters that are to be eligible to hunt in designated wildlife management units; and

"Whereas the livelihood of many residents of northern Ontario depends on their ability to participate in the moose hunt; and

"Whereas in 1995 there were 106,013 applicants entered in the draw and over 66,000 applicants turned away without a tag; and

"Whereas some hunters have been unsuccessful in the draw for many years in a row;

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

"That the Minister of Natural Resources hereby revise the annual moose tag draw to automatically issue a moose tag hunting permit to individuals who have been consecutively unsuccessful in a given number of previous annual draws."

I've affixed my name to that petition as well.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I've got a petition both in English and French from the IWA Canada, from Thunder Bay, Atikokan and other communities in the north.

Je vais lire en français la pétition que j'ai reçue adressée à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario.

"Attendu qu'il est crucial que les services de santé et de sécurité au travail à l'intention des travailleuses et des travailleurs soient fournis par des organismes auxquels les travailleuses et les travailleurs font confiance ;

"Attendu que les Centres de santé et de sécurité des travailleuses et des travailleurs, CSST, et les Centres de santé des travailleurs de l'Ontario, CSTO, assurent ces services de façon fort efficace depuis plusieurs années ;

"Attendu que le CSST et le CSTO ont fait une contribution importante aux améliorations en matière de santé et de sécurité au travail et à la réduction des blessures, des maladies et des décès liés au travail ;

"Nous, soussignés, soumettons la présente pétition à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario et l'engageons à rejeter toute initiative visant à affaiblir la structure, les services ou le financement des Centres de santé et de sécurité des travailleuses et des travailleurs ou des Centres de santé des travailleurs de l'Ontario ;

"En outre nous, soussignés, exigeons que des services d'éducation et de formation des travailleuses et des travailleurs de l'Ontario continuent à être offerts sous leur forme actuelle par les Centres de santé et de sécurité des travailleuses et des travailleurs et que des conseils professionnels et techniques continuent à être offerts par les Centres de santé des travailleurs de l'Ontario."

J'y affixe mon nom.


Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I have a petition from the town of Smiths Falls. The town has a population of 10,000, and my petition has over 5,000 names on it.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the board of governors of the Perth and Smiths Falls community hospital has openly endorsed the closure of the south unit in Smiths Falls; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has authorized the hospital board to develop a plan to relocate patients and services from the south unit to the north unit; and

"Whereas such relocation will necessitate the construction of a multilevel addition to the existing north unit of the hospital; and

"Whereas the hospital board may close the south unit prior to the completion of the addition to the north unit; and

"Whereas such an action will force long-term hospital patients to be uprooted from the community, causing distress to them and their families;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to stop the closure of the south unit and to direct the hospital board of governors to utilize renovation funds intended for the north unit addition in order to upgrade and renovate the south unit to an acceptable level."

I affix my signature.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): "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; and

"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 medical 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 to it.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition that was sent to me by CUPE Local 1263. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvement in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

That's signed by Darren Simpson of Welland, by Sharon Simpson of Port Robinson, and hundreds of other people from Welland-Thorold, and I have affixed my signature in view of my strong support for this petition.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition for the House today from some residents of co-op housing in Port Colborne, Crystal Beach and Fort Erie in my riding of Niagara South. Individuals like Cynthia Yates, Deb Hardemann and Shirley Clark came to my office and presented this petition. After a preamble, it says:

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of the housing co-ops."


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas: Opposition to retail stores opening 365 days a year,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose having retail stores remain open 365 days a year, and we strongly urge our MPP, Mr John Cleary, to voice our opposition against this legislation."

I have also signed the petition.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further petitions? The member for London Centre. Hamilton Centre; I'm sorry.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): With all due respect to the great city of London, Speaker, I thank you for the accuracy.

I have a petition of over 3,000 signatures, in addition to the thousands I've already presented, from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 175, which is one of the largest single local unions in all of North America, and it relates to this government's continuing attack on workers' compensation. To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system, including reducing benefits; excluding claims for repetitive strain injuries, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress, harassment and most occupational diseases; eliminating pension supplements; handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury; privatizing WCB to large insurance companies; integrating sick benefits into WCB; eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT, including eliminating worker representation on the board and eliminating the bipartite WCB board of directors,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, demand a safe workplace, compensation if we are injured, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, an independent appeal structure with worker representation, and that WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

As I support these petitions, I also add my name to theirs.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I have a petition from the Women's Institutes of Perth County, and this was headed up by Shirley Nowack from Rostock.

"Whereas the Young Offenders Act is under review with the Minister of Justice of Canada; and

"Whereas there is a widespread public opinion that young offenders are not being dealt with appropriately for crimes being committed and the deterrent to young offenders is not working and respect for authority and property is declining,

"Therefore, be it resolved that the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards hereby be authorized to correspond with the Minister of Justice of Canada requesting that the Young Offenders Act be revised so that upon conviction the names can be released on the second arrest after a first conviction to the public."

I agree with this resolution and I add my name to it.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the final report of the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force has been released and recommends the Kenora District Roman Catholic Separate School Board be amalgamated with the Red Lake Area Combined Separate School Board effective 1 January 1998; and

"Whereas we are of the opinion that there are no benefits for the Kenora system, its students or its ratepayers to be achieved through this amalgamation;

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

"The Kenora District Roman Catholic Separate School Board not be amalgamated with the Red Lake Area Combined Separate School Board or any other school board."

I've affixed my name to that petition as well.



Mr Laughren from the standing committee on government agencies presented the Report on Agencies, Boards and Commissions, number 21, and moved the adoption of its recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I'll make a few very brief comments. This is largely a report on the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, and in particular norOntair, as a result of the cancellation of the air service.

The standing committee on government agencies held a hearing and invited witnesses before the committee. This outlines the comments made by people who appeared before the committee and also contains a couple of very interesting dissenting opinions from the two opposition parties. I would encourage all the government members to read in particular the dissenting opinions.

I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr Martiniuk from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the Report on the Impact of Halfway House Closures and the Introduction of Electronic Monitoring and moved its adoption.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): This report, which received the unanimous support of the committee members, examines the impact of the closure of halfway houses and the introduction of electronic monitoring. The issues which the report addresses go to the heart of how we help offenders reintegrate into their communities while maintaining public safety. It is important that we accomplish these goals as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

We were greatly assisted in our deliberations by expert witnesses from other jurisdictions that have well-established electronic monitoring programs. We also had the benefit of hearing from community-based groups and individuals who continue to be active participants in our community corrections programs.

The committee has made a number of recommendations which are forward-looking and will help guide the future of community corrections in the province.

I would like to point out that the evidence of one of the expert witnesses was obtained by videoconferencing. It is the first time that an Ontario legislative committee has used videoconferencing to obtain testimony during the course of public hearings.

On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all the witnesses who shared their experience and expertise. I'd especially like to thank the clerk of our committee, Donna Bryce, for her able administration, and Susan Swift of the legislative research service for her skill in summarizing the evidence.

It was determined by the committee as an addendum that some $10,000 a day was spent by our committee in its travels in Ontario. Because of the increase in size of the committees, the cost has gone up proportionately. That does not include the ministry staff that accompanied us. I would estimate some $15,000 a day is spent by our committees in travelling. Our committee strongly recommended to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly that it investigate the use of videoconferencing to either supplement or partially replace travel by committees.

I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): With unanimous consent, I move that the order of the House referring Bill 52 to the standing committee on resources development be discharged and that the bill be referred to the standing committee on general government, as agreed to by the whips.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Agreed? Agreed.



Mr Harnick moved government notice of motion number 7:

Whereas it is acknowledged that numerous incidents of physical and sexual abuse took place during the 1940s through 1970s at the St John's Training School in Uxbridge and the St Joseph's Training School in Alfred which were operated by the Christian Brothers of Toronto and Ottawa and funded by the government of Ontario; and

Whereas it is acknowledged that the abuse suffered by the students at these schools has caused lifelong physical and emotional pain, distress and trauma to the men themselves and to their families and community and that such abuse of children is deplorable and intolerable; and

Whereas the victims bear no responsibility for the abuse they suffered; and

Whereas child abuse is a serious social and community problem that must be addressed; and

Whereas the government supported by the Christian Brothers of Ottawa and the Catholic archdioceses of Ottawa and Toronto entered into agreements of reconciliation in 1992 and 1994 with the victims to overcome the aftermath of abuse experienced at the schools;

Therefore this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, apologizes and expresses sincere regret for the harm caused to those in the care of St Joseph's and St John's training schools.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. Remove them from the gallery. Attorney General.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Today, on behalf of this assembly, I rise to address an issue regarding victims of crime. Over many decades, hundreds of young people entrusted to the care of St John's and St Joseph's training schools suffered horrible abuse at the hands of those entrusted with the care and nurturing of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Today we wish to bring closure to this matter for those victims. We are fulfilling an obligation made by the former government and the then Premier, Bob Rae, to those hundreds of residents of Ontario who, as children, were abused while attending St John's and St Joseph's training schools. There is no question that children committed to the care of these schools, which were directly supervised by the government and operated by the Christian Brothers, were the victims of neglect. Deplorably, many of these children were also victims of physical and sexual abuse. On behalf of the government, I have already written many personal letters to individuals expressing regret concerning these matters.

Those incidents, which took place decades ago, resulted in lasting emotional scars. The victims have suffered feelings of fear, doubt, insecurity, lack of trust, guilt and poor self-image. Some victims attempted to cope with their tragedy by engaging in self-abusive behaviour. Many of the victims are overwhelmed by the difficulties they face in their attempts to establish caring and nurturing relationships and to participate fully in the life of our community.

I wish to express in the strongest terms on behalf of this legislature regret and condemnation for the events which took place a number of years ago. Clearly, we do not condone such deplorable actions, either then or now. Those who were harmed by such conduct were not at fault; we are here today to say that the victims are in no way responsible for the abuse they suffered. While we cannot change the past, we have endeavoured to help victims rebuild their lives and prepare for a better future. This apology I am making today comes at the conclusion of a process that was established to provide direct assistance to the victims.


In Ontario in the late 1980s and early 1990s, revelations were made surrounding the conduct of staff at the St Joseph's Training School in Alfred, Ontario, and at the St John's Training School in Uxbridge, Ontario. The direct result of these revelations of abuse was the creation of a process designed to review the claims of former students and, where appropriate, to provide them with direct assistance and support to cope with the trauma they suffered.

These assistance and support programs were reflected in agreements developed jointly by the former government; the Christian Brothers who operated the St Joseph's school in Ottawa; the archdioceses of Toronto and Ottawa; and Helpline, the organization of former students. Unfortunately, the Toronto Christian Brothers chose not to take part in this healing process. The approach adopted by the former government and the other participants offered an alternative to traditional litigation, where the remedies are limited and the risks of revictimization are high.

Over the last four years, more than 500 former students at the two schools have received assistance from the government, the Christian Brothers of Ottawa and the archdioceses of Ottawa and Toronto. This process, designed by the victims themselves, has benefited a great many people. This is thanks to the courage and support of the victims.

Abuse must not be tolerated. Its prevalence is a source of shame for all of us. Those persons in whose care these children were placed were in a position of trust and broke faith both with the children and the entire community. For this, this Legislature and its elected members apologize.

Across this country, victims of abuse are demanding a voice, and they are being heard. They no longer need fear embarrassment. Victims are now being encouraged to confront their past.

As a society, we must also confront our past. Together, we can begin the often painful process of reconciliation and healing. Therefore, to fulfil former Premier Rae's obligation to these victims and to take a step towards public understanding and a confrontation of our past, I have tabled this resolution.

In closing, I want to express my recognition of the courage of those individuals who came forward, insisted on being heard and, through their perseverance, were not denied a voice. Much of the success to date is owed to them.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): This apology to the former students of St John's and St Joseph's training schools for boys, while never sufficient to make up for the injuries done them, marks nevertheless a historic day for this province. It recognizes government's, in fact society's, obligation not only to seek out cases of abuse of our children but to implement measures to prevent such abuse.

This acknowledgement that dreadful wrongs have occurred has been long awaited by the victims and their families. This all-party resolution is just one more step in the long road of recovery from events that transformed people's lives like no other event in Ontario's past, events that should never have happened.

I would like to commend the perseverance and dedication of the former students who have worked diligently in an attempt to resolve to some satisfaction -- any satisfaction -- outstanding issues, concerns and emotions. I would like to thank Helpline for bringing the details of this case to my attention last fall.

Although I have met many of the victims, I will never appreciate the true pain and suffering they have experienced and will continue to experience the rest of their lives. Many have already passed away without the benefit of seeing those responsible held accountable and without having heard the apologies so important to them.

For four decades, as many as 1,200 or more former wards of the two schools suffered psychological, physical and sexual abuse at the brutal hands of those responsible for their safety and wellbeing. The allegations did not surface until the summer of 1990 when victims began coming forward to tell their horrific stories. Ontario Provincial Police investigations have resulted in more than 200 charges against more than 30 people, representing the largest, most notorious child abuse scandal in Canada's history.

Helpline was subsequently established by the former students as a means of disseminating information to the victims and to provide emotional and strategic support throughout a very complex and very trying process. The most difficult thing in the world would be to face these issues, the memories, the nightmares, all alone.

The reconciliation agreement signed by Helpline, the Ottawa brothers, the archdioceses of Ottawa and Toronto, and the government of Ontario was intended to provide additional assistance to the victims in dealing with the issues while initiating a reconciliation process among the parties. Although the Toronto brothers did not sign it, it was designed to address the concerns of the related families, other affected persons and the general public regarding child abuse and public education. While many of these goals were achieved, many others remain.

Now funding for Helpline has ended, the tribunal for dealing with claims is ending, but the pain continues.

Government and indeed society must never relinquish their responsibility to pursue the eradication of violence and abuse against children. Children not only have the right to feel safe and protected, but they have the right to be safe and free from mistreatment.

The events that took place at the St John's and St Joseph's training schools were nothing short of a breach of trust of the most repugnant kind. The wellbeing and security of those children was entrusted to the adult brothers. Instead of protection, the children received lifetimes of pain, lifetimes of torment and lifetimes lost.

We must all be conscious of the damage such abuse inflicts upon society in terms of the survivors and their families. Besides the permanent physical and psychological damage, we must also be aware that the economic cost of abuse is immeasurable. There are medical costs to help the healing and there are social assistance costs for those who are struggling with the healing process and cannot work because they have lost their self-confidence, their self-esteem and perhaps even their ability to enter into a relationship of trust. These are lifelong wounds that may never heal.

The students of St John's and St Joseph's are now receiving some compensation, counselling and even apologies. There have also been some convictions. But the real story to be told today is that of the survivors.

The long painful healing process never really begins until the truth is told. For many of these individuals the truth has been blocked from their minds for many years out of sheer horror, embarrassment and necessity. That simply reinforces the remarkable courage of these incredible people, willing to face, to relive the darkest periods of their lives.

To them I wish to say that they must remember that not one ounce of responsibility rests upon their shoulders for these terrible acts. They should live entirely free of any guilt. The guilty are those cowardly individuals who abused their positions of authority and took advantage of children incapable of defending themselves.

Now is a time for the victims to begin to rebuild their lives, with new hope for their children and for society. But society has an enormous job ahead. Child abuse is truly a social problem of the utmost seriousness that requires our urgent attention. We must promote public education of the lasting injuries abuse inflicts. We must pursue prevention and early detection strategies. When abuse does occur, we must provide rapid support for the victims and ensure abusers receive the punishment as well as the long-term help they require.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services had been leading an interministerial policy development project to review such strategies. I hope that this process is continuing, that the government is committed to it, provides adequate resources and releases a discussion paper very soon.

The issues over St John's and St Joseph's do not end with this apology. There remain some very serious concerns over the progress and speed of outstanding settlements and funding for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board now that the tribunal is being dissolved; over the conciliation commitment to reimbursing St Joseph's Group I members from moneys collected from St John's Group I members; over the failure to make public the recorder's report that was to promote child abuse awareness and ensure lessons are learned from the past.

Now that Helpline funding is ending, there is also concern that the approximately 300 victims in Group III who have not yet received hearings will not have advocates to assist them through the process and promote their rights and opportunities.

Finally, I believe there needs to be some reflection on the whole process. Rather than being helpful to the victims, the process has been bogged down in bureaucracy, controversy and disputes. When dealing with victims, we must all take precautions, all steps to ensure that further victimization does not occur.

Please allow me on behalf of the official opposition to express to each and every victim of St John's and St Joseph's our sincerest regret and apology for the years of unimaginable pain and suffering you have experienced. I commend you for your courage, strength and determination, and pray that you are able to put these terrible experiences behind you and lead fruitful, meaningful and happy lives.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): This day has been a long time coming for many people. My colleagues are quite right to have recognized the courage and strength that has been required by those who came forward to break the silence about institutional abuse.

It's very important for us to know that it is essential for those of us who have participated in government to acknowledge that over many years people who were placed, in good faith, under the care of the government suffered as a result. Institutional abuse is similar to other forms of child abuse, but it is even more serious, because all of us are implicated when the state is responsible for a lack of care in terms of neglect or for a lack of safety and security of the person in terms of physical and sexual abuse.

It is important that all three parties in this Legislature recognize that we have all been government and that we have all had responsibility for those who are in institutional settings, and that responsibility remains today. As we speak today and acknowledge very clearly to those who suffered at St John's and St Joseph's over many years, we need to renew our commitment to ensure this kind of abuse does not occur under the institutions over which we now have authority.

One of the first groups that approached us when we came into government in 1990 was the very courageous people from Helpline, who explained to us what the process was they had gone through to that point, and their hope that there would be some way they could work with the government of the day to achieve this result without the kind of pain and suffering we all observed in the public inquiry in Newfoundland around the Mount Cashel orphanage situation.

I bring that up because I think for many of us that may have been the first real experience of seeing the pain and anguish that institutional abuse can cause, understanding how the effects of that abuse continue to magnify within someone's life until some form of reconciliation is achieved. It was untracked land. There were very few examples of any jurisdiction that had ever faced up to its own responsibility of institutional abuse and certainly no examples of how to negotiate and work out that reconciliation when so many parties were involved.

It is particularly important for us to acknowledge that as a result of the abuse and neglect that the survivors of St John's and St Joseph's had faced, there was a very great difficulty for them to trust that people were sincere in trying to come to that solution. So they are to be all the more admired for the efforts they have made to trust one another in the process of coming to communal decisions about what needed to be done in attempting to trust government officials, in attempting to trust the brothers and the archdiocese as well.

It is a great tribute to their courage and their strength and their commitment that they have managed to reach this plateau in reconciliation. My colleagues are right to say that an apology does not necessarily take away all the pain. We all are aware that it doesn't. But what it does do is to make it clear that we are responsible, that our government here in Ontario is responsible for what happened to those people and that when we come upon situations where this has also occurred, as we did with the provincial schools for the deaf and the blind, as we know we are facing with the Grandview situation -- and we have no idea how many other situations -- we continue to have the courage to acknowledge our responsibility and to do what we can to redress the damage that has been done, and of course, we must dedicate ourselves to make sure that we are setting up systems and policies and procedures to ensure that this kind of damage doesn't occur in the future.

I'm going to read from the reconciliation statement, the homily that was done by the two archdioceses, because I think these words are important for us to hear here. The two archbishops said:

"Every institution in society that is involved in the care of children or that comes into contact with them now carries the knowledge of the evil of child abuse. It must be prevented and remedied; first, by ensuring that those with a tendency to abuse are kept out of contact with children; second, by ensuring that there is vigilance in detecting and dealing with cases of child abuse; third, by responding quickly and compassionately to victims, administering to their physical, psychological and spiritual needs; fourth, by ensuring that abusers experience firm justice accompanied by treatment, so that they will not abuse again.

"All people of goodwill are called upon to do what can be done to protect the most defenceless and vulnerable in our society. We know that whenever child abuse is dealt with openly and honestly, healing is possible."

That is what we have attempted to do through the process of reconciliation, to deal openly and honestly with the pain and the reality of abuse. I think, as we extend our very deepest and most sincere regret to those who were at St John's and St Joseph's, who experienced this kind of abuse, we tell them very clearly that we dedicate ourselves to ensure that this kind of abuse does not continue in our province.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to just take a moment to speak to this this afternoon and to commend the Attorney General for his excellent remarks and certainly to agree with my colleague from Downsview and the former Attorney General who has just spoken, the member for London Centre.

It is an important thing we do this afternoon. I grew up in a little town where Alfred was synonymous with some kind of Alcatraz. As it happened, I was lucky because of course my parents were the kind of people who were in a position where they could look after their children. But on more days than I can remember, in the elementary school, the very Catholic elementary school to which I was sent, I can remember the days we were told, "Be bad and you'll go to Alfred."

I remember when I was perhaps 16 or 17, when I first went to Alfred. Boy, I finally met the physical geography of the place that had been raised as a spectre of where bad people went. I know nothing of St John's, but I'll tell you it is a day of atonement. The Attorney General said it well. As a Catholic I've got to tell you this is a deep valley of humiliation, but I thought the member for London Centre appropriately reflected on the words of the various archbishops. Part of my emotion today I think is that you just knew that some very important people way back when knew, and for whatever reason were incapable of acting, and it was a different time.


Last night as I drove down from my part of eastern Ontario, the radio service of the national broadcasting corporation had a program called Connections, which was the story of something called The Magdalen Laundry. I don't know whether anybody heard it. The member for St Andrew-St Patrick nods in the affirmative -- just an incredible story about a situation in Ireland that, given what we've heard about St John's and St Joseph's, Alfred sounded to me altogether believable.

I have good friends at Kingston whose children were abused in the tragedy that is the St George's boys' choir scandal. Do you know the interesting thing about Alfred? When I look back on it now, I think: "Those poor people. They had no advocates." In the main if you were sent to Alfred, there wasn't going to be a Sean Conway or an Isabel Bassett or a Margaret Marland or a Frances Lankin to stand and speak for you. You were almost certainly somebody in trouble, somebody from what we then called a broken family, someone with no advocates, so who was going to believe you?

Many of these horrific cases of abuse occurred back in the 1950s and 1960s. The St George's scandal occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, in the main with the upper-middle class of a very prominent Canadian community, Kingston. I cite the St George's case because there are days when I think about Alfred and about those kids with no advocates in the 1950s and the 1960s and then I think about the story of St George's in the 1970s and the 1980s, the sons of professors and lawyers and business people, and I say this is both upstairs and downstairs. Apparently these horrific cases of abuse are not restricted to one class alone.

I'm a proud son of eastern Ontario. There's the story of Prescott, Operation Jericho. There's not a more attractive community in Ontario than Prescott. I don't know how many of you are familiar with what went on at Prescott back in the 1960s and 1970s: just an unbelievable story of abuse of children. It's the sort of thing you'd expect to see on Sunday night television, 60 Minutes in some part of Alabama, but it didn't happen in Alabama; it happened in Prescott, in Alfred and at St George's in Kingston, to name but three in my part of eastern Ontario.

It happened in the main on someone else's watch, and that's why I commend the Attorney General and his predecessor, the member for London Centre, for doing what they have done today, supported by my colleague from Downsview. This did not happen on our watch, and we are properly standing in our place today and offering this act of contrition. It will never repair the damage that was done. Yes, hope springs eternal but it can never repair the damage that's been done. It is no wonder and little surprise that people would come here today to vent their spleen about what was done to them and their lives.

As I take my seat there are two final reflections I will make. Let us hope, let us pray, let us dedicate ourselves that no such horror occurs on our watch and let us individually and collectively rededicate ourselves as a legislative community to try to improve the safeguards for those people who are in the care of others, including the custodial care of governments local, provincial and national.

I say as someone who has no children yet, let us try also to rededicate ourselves to see if we can find out what is in the human psyche that creates this savage attack on defenceless young people, and perhaps even more importantly, what is in the collective humanity that so often, in the face of very alarming evidence that something is seriously wrong, none the less there is an individual and a collective tolerance or inaction that allows this criminal conduct and this awful abuse to continue under our very noses.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Harnick has moved government notice of motion number 7. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, I wonder if we may, at the request of many who have joined us in the Legislature today, observe a moment of silence.

The Acting Speaker: Do we have agreement? Yes.

The House observed a moment's silence.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 75, An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming / Projet de loi 75, Loi réglementant les alcools et les jeux dans l'intérêt public, prévoyant le financement des organismes de bienfaisance grâce à la gestion responsable des loteries vidéo et modifiant des lois en ce qui a trait aux alcools et aux jeux.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Yorkview, I believe you were the last one to debate.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Having heard the last four speakers, the only thing I can add is one word: amen. It's very difficult to pick up the discussion on VLTs or the so-called slot machines after the presentations of the last four speakers.

I wish to continue my presentation, which I cut off at midnight last night, and continue the discussion on the government Bill 75, an act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest. I don't want to attack or be seen as attacking the government in vain, but I find it quite inappropriate to say this is in the public interest. I dare say that this is the total opposite.

It was on May 16, 1995, when our Premier, just before an election, said there will be no VLTs "until all sectors have been consulted" -- we have had no consultation -- "until there is an impact assessment," and we have had no impact assessment and no agreement on the sharing of the funds.


Really, what is the reason? What is the reason for introducing gambling casinos, if you will, mini-casinos, in every corner store in our province? Very soon they're going to be in every barbershop and every flower shop, wherever people can make a buck. It is coming exactly to that. It is false to assume that once this legislation is in place, this will be restricted solely to racetracks or nightclubs or places where there is a liquor licence. The government evidently is doing this for no other reason but to make money -- big money.

Is it because there is a demand from the public? Absolutely not. We have not tested, we have not requested an answer from the public; therefore, there is no such demand.

Is it because there is something good for the people of Ontario with the introduction of slot machines at every corner store in Ontario? There is absolutely nothing good in this legislation for the people of Ontario.

Is it because this legislation will create jobs? Absolutely not. Indeed it takes away jobs from people in Ontario, and that is one thing the government fails to concentrate on: the creation of jobs, especially at this time when so many students are out looking for summer jobs.

Would the introduction of VLTs or slot machines help reduce crime? Absolutely not. I think this is going to be devastating for every local community in Ontario with respect to petty crimes, break-ins, purse snatching, vandalism and whatever else.

The only thing I can think of -- there are two reasons. One I would find right in the government's document, the budget that was presented to us on May 7, 1996. It is just a quote, not very much. It's buried on page 25 of the budget presentation, on the introduction of VLTs and creating jobs. It says, "To assist Ontario's hospitality industry, the Ontario Lottery Corp will develop a plan to introduce a limited number of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at selected locations across the province."

I'd like to ask the minister responsible for the introduction of this legislation and I'd like to ask every member of the House, especially those on the government side, how in the name of God the introduction of VLTs is going to help the hospitality industry here in Ontario. Are we saying to our cousins south of the border or the people coming from other parts of Ontario who move around within the province, "Come to Ontario and play the VLTs, the slot machines"? Is this the impression we want to give of Ontario? Is this the way we want to promote tourism in Ontario? Is this the way we want to promote the hospitality industry in Ontario? Is this the way we want to create jobs in Ontario? Certainly not.

It's right in here, in the government's document: This is to help the hospitality industry. It is the most absurd thing I have read in the entire document and the most absurd thing to come out from the government side, that we have to introduce slot machines to help the Ontario hospitality industry.

The real truth is another: It is that the government was duly elected by the people of Ontario. They have made a number of promises. The introduction of VLTs in Ontario was not one of those promises.

But lo and behold, what happens? They took power; they made some very, very unusual, if you will, promises; and now they find it very, very hard to deliver on some of them -- as a matter of fact, impossible to deliver on some of them, because the only one that I can think of that is causing this tremendous rash of actions on behalf of the government to go to the people of Ontario and say, "Come and spend your last few dollars gambling," is that they need to compensate for the tax cut that they had proposed to give to the rich people in Ontario.

What I find most disturbing is this: First we implement the tax cuts, then we give most of it to the well-to-do people, and then we go to the poor people again and say, "Come and play; shell out your last few dollars, because now we need to pay hardly the interest on the money which we have to borrow which we had promised to give back to the rich people," which is the 30%. This is the most obnoxious thing, and I feel very compelled to bring it forth.

It's not a question of installing VLTs or slaughter machines or slot machines as a type of amusement; it is solely to make more money for the government to pay for their debts. Their own budget says that they have to borrow some $20 billion.

What's strange is that Mr Harris during the election said that he was morally troubled to take money from the Windsor Casino, and he threatened to close it. On May 3, 1995, he said on gambling revenues: "I don't want the Ontario government to have it. I don't want the money. I don't want a million dollars a day in the province of Ontario."

Part of the problem is that the province of Ontario, as he was saying then, has too much money, the province wants too much money, and the province spends too much money. Then he says, "Well, the province borrows too much money." So why the heck do you go and borrow an extra $20 billion to give it to the rich and then you go and devastate every community, every neighbourhood with the importation, if you will, of VLTs, slot machines everywhere, wherever you can make a buck?

What has changed to force the government to come out now and introduce VLTs in Toronto? I dare say that this is an anomaly to call it this particular way. I think it should be called, this is the newest, forced-upon, unwanted, lottery user fee form introduced by the government to date. It is nothing more, nothing less. It's exactly another lottery form of user fee which is being imposed, if you will, on the people of Ontario.

When we do some actions and we force an action on the local government, I think we should give the local government an opportunity to say, "Yes, it is good for our people and we'll take it; we will adopt it," or "No, we don't." I would suggest that the local municipalities will be feeling, perhaps more than any other level of government, the effect of this legislation. I think we should consult with the local municipalities and let them decide if they wish to have VLTs or slot machines in every neighbourhood in their municipalities.

What's so strange is this: that we've had no consultation, we have had no studies, yet the government is willing to move ahead without taking into consideration even some of the studies -- and their results, I should say -- from other provinces in Canada; for example, Nova Scotia. Very recently, they have eliminated two thirds of their slot machines. They have removed from the market two thirds of their slot machines, and do you know what? British Columbia very recently has an entire ban on the installation and proliferation of slot machines. Our government, before they move ahead, before they move on, should take that into consideration.


What is the effect? What is the impact, the negative impact, I should say, that the slot machines will have in our social lives? How would you feel, especially if you are a single parent and you want to send your 12-year-old to buy a jug of milk and that little kid there is going to have the temptation to say, "Oh, well, I'm just going to put $1 or $2," or whatever, and he's going to blow the money? Is this what we want to do to our people in Ontario?

With all due respect, last night the member for Etobicoke West said that if he were to propose to his constituents in the way of a referendum, that probably his constituents would vote against, and I'm saying that it's very nice, very good, very wise. I would say that given the opportunity, the people in my area, in my riding, would vote against the installation and proliferation of video lottery terminals or slot machines, and I would encourage every member of the House, the government side, that this is not the way to go.

I would say, give the people in your riding, give the people of Ontario, a chance to decide for themselves if they want video lottery terminals, slot machines, in their communities. Then and only then would you have a good idea if this is something good that we should proceed with or something that we should really do without at the present time. As it is at the moment, I find it very difficult to support this particular bill at this time.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I'll only take a few minutes on this -- at least I plan to only take a few minutes -- in that this does fall within my critic's role, and I didn't have the opportunity to open debate last night, so I would like to have just a few minutes today.

As may have been mentioned but I think deserves some quick repetition, of course this bill on the surface says that they're going to merge the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario with the Ontario Gaming Control Commission and form a new Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and the new agency, it tells us, will also take over the regulatory functions currently being carried on by the LCBO.

As well, I think it was mentioned that it will prohibit those under 19 from playing slot machines and from being in areas where slot machines are located. That's one of the points that I'd like to make. It wasn't so long ago that we found it necessary, and I think a prudent move, to take away altogether cigarette sales in machines, because notwithstanding the fact that it had a "restricted" sticker on it, that you couldn't use the machine if you were under the age of 19, notwithstanding the fact that it was in areas that were supposed to be not accessible to those under the age of 19, obviously it was a problem.

To merely say in the legislation that you're simply going to prohibit those under 19 from playing the slot machines and from being in areas where slot machines are located isn't worth the paper it's written on.

I've had an example given to me from another province where slot machines are in a different area. The problem in this particular instance is that the bar is located outside the slot machine area. The bartender is busy on this particular occasion -- and I suggest many others, because it's observed as being a normal routine -- serving the patrons at the bar; the waiters and waitresses, the servers, are busy taking care of the patrons in the bar area. It was observed by this person that nobody was paying any attention to who was playing the slot machines in the other room. In other words, if you don't have somebody there full-time monitoring the machines, I have no idea how you could possibly control who plays them.

It also brings to us the suggestion that you not only have to have somebody to control them all the time, but we also want to control illegal slot machines. We're told, again by the government, that these illegal slot machines in the province of Ontario are a problem and that to control the illegal machines it's very simple -- we just legalize them all.

I suggest to you and to others that those who operate illegal slot machines now are probably the type of business, if it's carried on in a bar, that if they applied for a licence very likely might not get one because they're someone who now flouts the law. What would prevent them from flouting the law further? Why should they be more concerned about the law today than yesterday if they operate illegally? If they have illegal slot machines now, I suggest that their liquor licence could be taken away from them. What kind of a threat is it to them if they continue to operate that way?

I doubt very much illegal slot machines are going to be controlled by making them legal. We are told that Detective Staff Sergeant Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gaming division believes that just because the government legalizes slot machines, the illegal slots won't disappear. There's too much profit in it.

That's another point I'd like to make. If I'm operating an illegal slot machine today, or an a number of them in a business, why would I be so generous as to start operating legally and share with the government 100% of the profit that I've been making in the past? That doesn't make sense either. If I'm the type of person who wants to take that kind of risk, and I have taken it in the past, why wouldn't I simply continue in the future, only I'll continue to keep 100% of the profits? Why should I share them with the government? It just doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. I agree with Sergeant Moodie, who is no doubt more of an expert in this area than most of us in this province, that the estimated 15,000 illegal terminals currently in existence won't disappear because there's too much profit in them.

I suggest that this is what's going to drive our problem even with legalized machines and restrictions on the 19 years of age and under -- the profit. I suggest that with less, or no more enforcement -- and that's the way to eliminate the illegal machines now -- with no additional enforcement, why wouldn't someone who operates a bar, who doesn't have much of a risk of anyone inspecting them, enforcing it, why wouldn't they allow minors, in this case those under the age of 19, to operate those slots?


Speaker, it truly mystifies me; I simply can't understand. I think you know this, I think the backbenchers know this, I think the government itself knows what I would like to point out, but I'm not so sure that the people of Ontario who may be watching this understand, can help me on this. I'm quoting from the now Premier in the 1995 election, only a year ago:

"I don't want the Ontario government to have it. I don't want the money. I don't want a million dollars a day into the province of Ontario. Part of the problem is the Ontario government has too much money, wants too much money, borrows too much money, spends too much money."

These were the words of the now Premier of the province when it came to gambling. On May 16, 1995, in a letter to John Charmers, chairman of the Charitable Gaming Alliance, Mike Harris promised, "A Harris government will not move on VLTs until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues."

When we talk about the government having too much money, this government certainly has moved to reduce its spending. When the now Premier says the government spends too much money, they're certainly making a move to reduce the amount they spend. They've cut social services. They've cut education. They've cut police protection. They've cut agriculture. They've reduced spending in every area, and in some areas a great deal more than we think they should or need to do.

When it comes to having too much money, they've even made a further move that will reduce the amount of money the Ontario government has: They're giving a tax cut to the rich in this province. Most of it is going to fewer than 10% of the population. They're borrowing $5 billion a year to do that. They're running the deficit up from $100 billion to $122 billion. They're going to borrow four times as much as they have on occasion accused us of having borrowed in our term of office. They're certainly making sure they have less money because they're cutting spending on one hand and they're cutting their revenue on the other hand.

When the Premier said, "I don't want a million dollars a day into the province," I suggest he might have been referring to the $1-million-a-day profit that Casino Windsor makes. He was going to close Casino Windsor, but certainly when his handlers got to him, probably on the bus shortly after that, the tune changed the next day.

I can't understand why Mr Harris would make those statements last year and now says:

"We want to control it first, and if there's some revenue that flows from it to the province of Ontario then so be it.

"I think we didn't know all the answers...so we are evolving with our policies there.

"In the whole gambling area, we are still analysing and studying and finding our way."

I certainly agree with the now Premier, Mr Harris. They don't know all the answers; that's for sure.

When he said, "If there is some revenue that flows from it to the province of Ontario then so be it," isn't that very generous? I guess what the Premier is saying is: "Yes, we'll control these illegal gambling devices. Then we'll put another 20,000 of them out in the province, and if some money flows from it, then so be it."

Let me suggest what has really happened. The rapidity with which this has happened and the lack of consultation with which it's happened and the lack of planning with which it's happened is, that a few days, maybe weeks, before the budget the finance people came in and said:

"Mr Premier, Mr Treasurer, we've got this all figured out for you now. We know where you want to cut. We know where you want to put your tax cut. We know how much money you want to give back to the richest in the province. But Mr Premier, Mr Treasurer, you've got a problem: You don't have enough money. We can't do it. We've got to find more revenue."

We've heard the now Premier and Treasurer over the last few years in this Legislature virtually rail against gambling in this province. And what do they do as a solution? They go to the most addictive form of gambling we have.

I certainly won't go through them, but I have here all kinds of information, and not one bit of this, not one item in here, says slot machines are good. It all says slot machines are bad, slot machines are addictive, slot machines get hold of you and won't let go. But I have to admit, in all of this that says slot machines are no good, I do have one that says slot machines are good.

I'll read a bit about what Mr Pollock has said. Now, we have to remember that Mr Pollock is a little upset these days because he and those who work with him thought they were going to be able to put all these slot machines in in the province; they were going to put one in every backyard. Well, the government euchred them: They're not involved in this. In any event, "Mr Pollock sees video gambling as essentially another social activity, an entertainment opportunity, he says, and a stimulation for the hospitality industry." Well, it very well might be a stimulation for the hospitality industry. We know that strategically located and controlled casinos are good for the hospitality industry and do bring tourist dollars into the province, but I don't know whether a slot machine in a local bar in some rural community is going to do a darn thing for the tourist industry.

Mr Pollock, in this article, is supposed to have suggested: "There are a few people who can't handling gambling, just as some can't handle eating or drinking. So the industry should try to help out those who overindulge and let the others get on with their fun." The crack cocaine of gambling, video slot machines, are not just "fun." If they were just fun, why would we have to put money into them to play? Why don't we just play it like any other video game that we play at home? No, sir. People look to video gambling machines, slot machines, as a way to bring in their lucky boat, and I think that's the problem with them.

Mr Pollock is quoted as saying: "I don't think society's role is to tell people how to spend their money. I think gambling is certainly better for you than smoking. And I don't know about the drinking. I don't have any difficulty with people playing on a modest basis." Neither do I, but statistically, everybody who is any kind of authority on this tells us that it isn't simply people playing on a modest basis. Maybe the majority of people can, I don't know. But it's those who can't that we should be concerned about.

We are told that last year in the province of Manitoba more money was spent on gambling than on the grocery industry. More money was spent gambling in Manitoba than to feed families. What is it in Ontario? We're not being told by the minister. What's his plan for gambling in Ontario? We don't know that there is any great plan for the introduction of gambling in Ontario. All we suspect is that they need the revenue, so they've gone out and -- but I am willing, in my role as critic, to listen to those in the racetrack business. They're controlled areas. I'm willing to listen to the people who operate controlled casinos. But they're going way beyond that. This is the slippery slope that everybody is concerned about. We're going to open up casinos all over this province.


The Premier solemnly said, and I have no idea whether he's going to carry out this promise, "We won't introduce a casino in the province of Ontario until after we've had a referendum." Now we're going to open up 50 permanent charity casinos in the province -- no referendum. We're going to put slot machines in every corner bar, but no referendum.

I don't think they have a plan, I don't think they have any plan at all. For someone to so naïvely say to us, "I don't have any difficulty with people playing on a modest basis" -- I frankly don't think Mr Pollock was talking from arm's length or with an objective view.

"Dr Howard Schaffer of Harvard Medical School, an acknowledged expert on gambling, disputes Mr Pollock's contention that the legalization of video gambling would attract mainly those who now gamble illegally.

"Not only would there be a substantial increase in all gambling, he says, but many would probably turn to illegal gambling eventually because the payoffs are higher."

The profits are better for those who operate them. The government doesn't share in it. We have people who don't even want to pay provincial sales tax, for goodness' sake. Why would they want to share their gambling profits with the government? I can't believe it, and I can't believe that somebody would think we're so naïve as to think that's the case. "Not only would there be a substantial increase in all gambling, but many would probably turn to illegal gambling" -- an expert in the field.

As I said at the outset, there has been a lot said about this. I feel rather frustrated. Notwithstanding the fact that in our democratic place we have the opportunity to debate the issue, I'm surprised that there haven't been some government members, some backbenchers, who have gotten up to speak about this. I suggest they're told they can't get up to speak about it.

The parts of Ontario that we all come from are not always so different just because they elected a Conservative member, a Liberal member or a New Democratic member. The people of Ontario have an awful lot of similarities. For those on the government side not to have heard some of the same concerns we have, or on the other hand, to stand in their place and tell us how beneficial gambling is, how great it is, how the experts say it's no problem -- we haven't heard that from them.

I like to hear the other side, I like to hear both sides of an issue, but we're not getting both sides of the issue. There's only one side, as far as the government's concerned, and that's revenue, and there's only one side as far as we're concerned, and that is that it's one of the worst types of gambling they could possibly get involved in. Without consulting the people of the province, they're simply going to march ahead and spread it across the province because they need the bucks and they don't care about those who are hurt in the process.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I am very pleased to be able to rise in my place today and say a few things about the proliferation of VLTs and slot machines, if that's what's you want to call them, throughout the province.

This is an issue I really have some difficulty with, because in general I don't like paternalistic government and I don't like politicians telling people what they can and can't do. Those who are activists in that sort of movement are called social engineers. They believe that experts and government know what's right for people and want to design legislation in order to control people's behaviour and direct what people do in society. But obviously, there come, from time to time, issues that government feels are very important to control.

We do, for instance, control the consumption of alcohol in this country. Most jurisdictions in the world have some sort of government control of alcohol. It's readily available, but we tax it and we control the sale of it, primarily because most people in society believe that the moderate consumption of alcohol is a sociably acceptable behaviour. We do believe, though, that it's much better that this only be consumed by adults and not by young people, and therefore we put in certain rules about how one can access alcohol, how it is served in the public and how we sell it for home consumption.

We do this also with tobacco, and even though I've never been a tobacco smoker, I sometimes feel that maybe governments are overzealous in the control of tobacco, but I understand how pernicious it is and how pervasive it is when people are addicted to tobacco and I think the vast majority of people would accept the health damage that the steady consumption of tobacco causes. So therefore, we regulate it, but sometimes I feel that maybe we overregulate these things and go too far.

With gambling, it's the same sort of area. Again, it's not an activity that I personally enjoy, though from time to time, on a vacation or something when there has been a casino nearby, I've been curious and I'd say to my wife, "Let's take $20 and go to the slot machine and try that out." I've certainly done that and it's kind of fun. I can lose my $20, because that's usually what happens, but I can walk away from it and go do something else.

The government in Ontario is in the gambling business. We, over the years, have sold lottery tickets and it is a very popular activity in Ontario. The proceeds go to very good causes in Ontario. Originally, the Wintario system was set up primarily to build arenas and support other recreational activity in the province, and then it was expanded, actually through the Liberal government, that these revenues could go towards health care and other government activities. So there is a big pot of money that is accessible by the government from our gambling revenues.

Then the NDP government came along and again the pressure for more revenues increased and the previous government decided to establish a casino in Windsor. This also came from a particular pressure from the city of Windsor as it, at that time, in the late 1980s, was feeling tremendous economic pain from the downsizing of the automobile industry. Windsor, while today it has a very buoyant economy again, is very much dependent on the automobile industry, and one could say actually before the casino it was almost a single-industry town with sub-industries that were needed and required and that prospered to support the automobile industry.

So a casino was established. We in our caucus discussed that, and even those of us who don't really agree with the proliferation of gambling in the province saw that as a local issue, and that if Windsor felt it needed a casino and if the province of Ontario was going to benefit, so be it; let Windsor establish that.

On one of my trips to Windsor, I have gone into that casino. What was interesting to me about it and why I agree more with the Windsor casino and some other ones that I'll talk about in a minute is that by being placed on the border of this province with the United States, in this case the state of Michigan, it appeared to me, and my colleagues have backed it up factually, that 85% of the clients of the Windsor casino are Americans. Having a casino on a border city is a tremendous benefit for Ontario, for Windsor, but also for all the taxpayers of Ontario, because those are new American dollars that are coming into the Ontario economy from the United States that are very beneficial to our tourism and to our health care and other services that the Ontario government provides.

I agree with this government's announcement that Niagara Falls should also see a casino, and in fact it would seem to me that Toronto, being the world-class tourism centre that it is, would also be a logical place for a casino.


You may want to also consider some day, if the people of Ottawa wish to have one now that the city of Hull, Quebec has a casino established, that Ottawa, if it does consider the need to have a casino there, obviously that should be considered by the government also.

What is interesting about the gambling activities that happen within the walls of a casino is that they are tightly controlled. The previous government embarked upon a system of tendering and scrutinizing organizations that would operate and run these casinos in order to attempt -- and I believe they've been successful with that -- to keep out unsavoury elements from this business.

As in other jurisdictions around the world, it has been unfortunately the history that, let's say, unsavoury elements have taken control from time to time of the industry, and it also has attracted other sorts of unsavoury elements around that that are not necessarily welcome in communities and neighbourhoods. But in a casino, the activity is controlled. There is an age restriction at a casino and so video lotteries or slot machines are a legitimate part of a casino.

What really concerns me about this government's bill here today is that we would see the proliferation of slot machines beyond casinos. Having taken trips across the United States and driven through the state of Nevada, as soon as you cross the border, of course, whether it be the state line on the west side coming from California or from the east, as soon as you hit the first variety store or gas station you are confronted with a slot machine. They are everywhere in that state. Whether it be a drugstore, the bus terminal, gas stations, 7 Elevens, they are everywhere.

While that is interesting -- and one of the reasons I like to travel is to see how different people live, different cultures, the way different jurisdictions work; it's always interesting to see these new things -- I'm not quite sure I would like to see Ontario -- as a matter of fact, I know I'm quite sure that I would not like to see Ontario become Nevada north.

While we have some highly restricted gambling activities occurring in casinos, and as I've said before, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more casinos -- and maybe Sault Ste Marie, if it wanted one, should have one also so that it can combat the casino gambling that is going on across the border in Sault, Michigan -- I really don't want to see the proliferation of slot machines in every bar and then possibly in every restaurant and, going beyond that, into every sort of public place in Ontario. It's just not the Ontario that I wish to see.

These machines would be accessible basically on a daily basis. You could come Friday with your paycheque to the local tavern, have a few beers on your way home and get mesmerized by this wonderful electronic display that these machines have, and maybe now, after having a few beers, just keep plugging the loonies and the toonies into this machine and maybe -- and in some cases we know this through scientific study -- there might not be that much of that paycheque left for some of those people.

I think we should have a gambling opportunity for those who want to gamble. You could have a trip and you come to Toronto or to one of the casinos or go to some of the charity casinos that we have in our various towns to raise money locally. But to have on a day-in-and-day-out basis these slot machines in every sort of venue in all our small towns I think just changes the whole culture of Ontario. It changes the way we look at the work ethic: how we earn our money, how we save our money and how we spend our money.

To have such easy access there -- I know, and scientific studies will back me up, there are 3% to 5% of the people in the population who just cannot resist the lure of these machines. I worry about those people. I worry about their families, I worry about the social cost of all of that and I worry about the cost to the health care system in order to provide those people with the counselling that they are going to be requiring.

We have an example in this country in the province of Nova Scotia where they moved on to a proliferation of slot machines throughout the province and they have retreated somewhat because they found that some individuals and many families got into trouble. As my colleague previously has said to this House, in the province of Manitoba more money is spent on gambling than to buy groceries for the families of that province.

I think the government should take a second look at this. I support the government in establishing the Niagara Falls casino and I would work with the communities in the province that would like to see more casinos, especially in border city locations. I think that would be a smart strategic investment in our tourism industry. It would bring Americans from the border states that don't have casino gambling into Ontario, and I think we could all be winners. But it would be wrong to see a proliferation of VLTs and slot machines throughout Ontario. That's why, when the bill comes up for a vote, I will be voting against it.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I will speak against Bill 75. I am really worried about this Bill 75 and what it will do, especially to students, whenever we install those legalized so-called video poker machines in bars and restaurants near schools.

It's been known in the past that wherever there's a chance for a student to win money, to gain money --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): To lose money.

Mr Lalonde: -- to lose money -- you could call it loose money -- they are always taking a chance to gain money, to win a jackpot. It takes only one student to go to a restaurant near a high school. If that student will take his meal money, put it in the machine, and all of a sudden does make a gain, it will attract the rest of the school kids, who will go and spend their money.

Je suis vraiment concerné et inquiet du fait que nous allons permettre les appareils vidéo dans des bars et restaurants. Je crois que même si nous mentionnons dans le projet de loi que, «Les personnes responsables de locaux où se trouvent des appareils de loterie vidéo, de même que les personnes agissant pour leur compte, ne doivent : (a) ni permettre aux personnes de moins de 19 ans d'avoir accès à la section d'un lieu réservé au jeu où se trouvent des appareils de loterie vidéo; (b) ni permettre aux personnes de moins de 19 ans de jouer à une loterie vidéo», actuellement nous avons au-delà de 15 000 machines qui existent illégalement dans la province. À aucun temps, nous n'avons pu mettre en place le personnel pour aller superviser ou exclure ces morceaux d'équipements qui existent dans nos restaurants.

Je connais des personnes qui ont perdu leur maison, qui ont brisé des familles, qui ont tout perdu. Nous devenons des personnes adonnées à ces machines. Aujourd'hui nous allons permettre ces machines dans les bars et restaurants. J'ai peur de ça. Je visite les casinos de temps à autre, et nous nous apercevons de plus en plus que les personnes qui fréquentent ces endroits sont surtout dans le besoin. Lorsque je dis qu'ils sont dans le besoin, nous n'avons qu'aller faire un tour au casino de Hull. Vous allez voir à la fin du mois que le casino est rempli à la capacité. Nous aurons des lignes d'attente de 30 minutes à la porte cette fin de semaine qui vient. Pourquoi ? C'est la semaine où nous allons distribuer les chèques de bien-être social. Ce sont eux qui vont être affectés.

Je reconnais que 10 % des revenus va vers les oeuvres de charité. Combien allons-nous perdre dans les «bingos» qui sont organisés par les clubs de service, qui sont organisés par des groupes de charité ? C'est déjà reconnu dans la région de Hull-Ottawa. Nous perdons beaucoup d'argent, de revenus dans le moment puisque les gens se rendent aux casinos en fin de semaine surtout, mais sept jours par semaine avec la venue de ces machines à loterie dans les bars et les restaurants. Cela vaudrait la fermeture de beaucoup de «bingos» qui existent, surtout dans le secteur rural.

C'est vraiment inquiétant lorsque nous regardons que le gouvernement va se baser -- on nous dit qu'ils vont installer 20 000 machines à travers l'Ontario. On nous dit que nous allons avoir le nombre le plus bas per capita de toutes les provinces du Canada, mais jamais je n'ai entendu dire que dans la Nouvelle-Écosse on a décidé de retirer au-delà de 75 % des équipements qui ont été installés depuis quelques années. Pourquoi ? Nous avons reconnu que ces machines sont un danger.


J'ai dit tout à l'heure que 10 % des revenus ira vers les oeuvres de charité ; 10 % ira vers le revenu pour les opérateurs ou propriétaires d'établissements. Nous avons reconnu que 2 % devrait être mis de côté pour aider au traitement des personnes qui deviendront «addictées» à ce problème, mais je crois que ce n'est pas là. Nous aurions dû entreprendre une étude approfondie et nous aurions certainement reconnu qu'il y a un très grand danger vers l'installation de ces équipements dans nos entreprises.

J'ai entendu le ministre nous dire hier que les gains seront de 85 % a 90 % du montant d'argent que nous nous allons insérer dans ces machines. Je crois que nous avons fait une erreur, puisque si nous allons à Las Vegas, si nous allons à Atlantic City, très rares sont les casinos qui vont publier ou annoncer que vous avez la chance de remporter 85 % des sous que vous allez insérer dans ces machines.

Nous aurions peut-être dû procéder avec un référendum, surtout après le référendum que nous avons tenu dans la ville d'Oshawa où le tout a été rejeté par une proportion de plus de 60 %.

Aujourd'hui la province de l'Ontario dit, «Il faut aller chercher des argents pour combler le déficit.» Je crois que ce n'est pas là qu'est la raison-d'être d'installer ces machines qui, je tiens toujours à dire, sont des machines illégales puisque nous allons installer ces machines-là pour retirer l'argent des pauvres, surtout.

Je crois que si nous procédions, avant de passer en troisième lecture, à un référendum à travers la province, après des études de toutes les autres provinces du pays, certainement le public se prononcerait à environ 65 % à 70 % contre l'installation de ces machines dans les bars et restaurants.

Je ne dis pas que j'irais au point de dire que je suis contre l'installation de ces machines dans les endroits où nous avons des courses de chevaux, des courses de chiens. C'est seulement en Floride dans le moment ; ce n'est pas arrivé au Canada ou en Ontario. Dans les endroits comme le «racetrack», qu'on appelle ça en anglais, je le verrais définitivement puisque que c'est un endroit où nous allons pour faire du «gambling».

Je reconnais que les casinos ont été mis sur pied pour attirer des touristes. Mais rappelez-vous que nous n'avons qu'à faire une enquête à Windsor, à Hull, à Ottawa, qui est tout près de Hull, et vous allez reconnaître que l'industrie touristique que les casinos attire n'attire pas de touristes dans les restaurants ou dans les hôtels dans les environs. Souvent on peut dire qu'on a augmenté la participation, que les hôtels étaient pleins. Nous allons louer une chambre d'hôtel, nous nous rendons au casino, ensuite nous retournons dans notre hôtel, les poches vides. Nous avons dépensé tout notre argent. Il n'y a plus un sou qui est dépensé dans les boutiques des environs.

Je regarde dans les bars où nous allons installer ces machines vidéo. Je ne serais pas surpris qu'environ six mois après l'installation de ces machines dans les bars -- nous n'avons qu'à faire une étude ou une enquête -- vous allez vous apercevoir que la vente de boissons alcooliques et de bière va être réduite. Nous allons dépenser notre argent dans ces machines en pensant que nous allons gagner une somme d'argent ; c'est reconnu que lorsqu'on gagne une fois, on tient à retourner. Un de mes amis, je pourrais même dire le nom -- 25 000 $ a été gagné par une personne de Rawdon au casino de Hull. Depuis ce temps-là, la personne est flyée. Il est parti. Il a tout dépensé. Il n'a plus d'argent maintenant.

Je reconnais aussi que tout dernièrement, depuis l'ouverture du casino de Hull, trois personnes se sont suicidées après avoir dépensé tout l'argent qu'ils avaient à leur disposition. On a même hypothéqué leur maison pour venir à bout de dire, «Si je prends encore des chances à me rendre au casino et à gagner, je pourrais acheter une autre maison.» Chers amis, ne croyez pas aux casinos. Les casinos sont pour le touriste, pas mieux. Les hôtels vont en profiter, mais ça s'arrête là. Les autres dépenses, les gens n'ont pas l'argent pour en dépenser davantage.

Si nous avons l'intention d'ouvrir d'autres casinos, peut-être que je serais en faveur de le faire, mais il faudrait toujours faire attention à l'endroit où nous allons en ouvrir un. Je sais que nous allons faire l'ouverture d'un casino à Niagara Falls, qui est reconnu comme un endroit qui attire le plus de touristes en Ontario -- au-delà de neuf millions de visiteurs par année. Oui, ce sont des visiteurs, mais dans des endroits où nous n'avons pas le volume de touristes je suis contre l'ouverture de casinos.

Je crois que le gouvernement devrait penser sérieusement avant d'installer ces machines vidéo dans les bars et restaurants. Surtout si nous avons l'intention d'aller d'avant, on devrait mettre des restrictions à une certaine distance des écoles secondaires ou collèges.

Probably the minister should look at this section: Wherever there's a high school, a college or a university there should be an area in which video poker, VLTs, will not be accepted or permissible to be installed in bars or restaurants. Even though we say you have to be 19 to play those machines, we have no one in place at the present time who could supervise this or police the age of people playing the machines and we will not have, because we have decided to cut down inspectors in Ontario at all levels.

Today we are turning around and saying we will have VLT machines in bars and restaurants. We will have them supervised, and you will be subjected to a fine of $50,000 to $250,000. Where are the inspectors going to be to get those people whenever they play those machines?

Je ne crois pas que dans le moment nous avons le personnel pour superviser ces équipements que nous tentons d'installer dans les bars et restaurants.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Comments or questions?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Now that we've had our last speaker on this issue, I would like to commend the member on his speech. I found it an outstanding speech throughout. I listened carefully to all his suggestions.

I think the only hope right now, because the government has the majority in the House and the bill will pass by the tyranny of the majority, as they say, is that the bill is going to committee. In opposition the present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations felt that the committee should play a meaningful role in the process, so I know he'll be listening carefully to all representations that are made across the province.

I may try to prompt some people to show up at the committee. I hope that some of the churches that I know in my area that are on some issues very supportive of this government will be there large as life to make representations against this piece of legislation.

The suggestion -- this government is very intrigued, and I heard the member mention a referendum in his speech -- this government seems to like the idea the Reform Party has floated of having a referendum on a lot of items of importance, and if you're going to have a referendum on many items, it would seem sensible that just as they had a referendum in Oshawa on the casino, perhaps in this province we have a referendum on this particular issue.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): What about bingo?

Mr Bradley: I'm sorry to hear the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, through an interjection, condemning bingos in the church halls of this province, because I know they are raising money for good causes and it's very small-time in that particular case.

I simply ask you to listen carefully to the representations and consider having a referendum on this. I think you are making a major and outstanding error in putting forward this legislation.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Prescott-Russell, you may sum up.

Mr Lalonde: As my colleague from St Catharines just said, I definitely think that even though this 10% of the revenue will go towards charity groups, that won't be enough, because there will not be any more money from the bingo organizations, from the drawing organizations they have going. So I still say at this point, Mr Minister, that we should think of having some restricted areas around schools, universities and colleges before we go ahead with the installation of those machines.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, would the Minister of Consumer and Relations like to sum up?

Hon Mr Sterling: I want to clarify a few points here before we wrap up debate on Bill 75. This bill is going to introduce video lottery machines, charity gaming halls, the amalgamation of the present Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission. It's going to do a number of progressive matters within one piece of legislation, to put in Ontario, to put in our province the most comprehensive method of controlling gambling and making certain that charities get a fair shake in the outcome of gambling in Ontario.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, Monte Carlo nights now, some 9,000 of them across Ontario, yield about $12 million to charities in this province. After we have the permanent charity gaming halls in this province, we expect that charities will gain some $80 million to $90 million more from those particular activities.

The member for Prescott-Russell does not see the advantage of charities gaining $100 million more out of these new initiatives? I don't believe his charities back home would agree with him.

Let's not turn a blind eye to what's going on in Ontario. We are told by the police that there are some 15,000 to 25,000 illegal video lottery machines in the province at the present time. Charities get nothing from that, the taxpayer gets nothing from that, and I think both should benefit from that activity. Not only that, but those machines are paying back to the people who play them a very small percentage of what they bet.

In Casino Windsor the bettor gets back somewhere between 85% and 95% of what he or she should play at those machines and a similar kind of ratio will exist with regard to these machines. But for us to ensure that will happen, the province will have to be certain they are looked at in a very careful manner and monitored in a very careful manner. We have put together the structure within this bill to do just that.

We have been very concerned about under-age players playing these machines. We have made it illegal for people under 19 years of age to play these machines. We have also put in this bill very tough measures on any proprietor who might allow an under-age person to play these machines. That proprietor would not only lose the right to have that particular form of gaming on his or her premise, but also would lose their liquor licence as part of the penalty. That is a pretty dramatic penalty, quite frankly, for anybody who's in business, and therefore we are requiring any of these video lottery machines to be separated from any other part of the premise which would allow people under the age of 19 to be located.

I want to indicate at the very end that perhaps the members who are now in the House were not there when I opened my remarks. I said, and we have said very clearly, that this is a two-stage process. The first stage will be the installation of these machines in venues where gaming will be normal; that is, at racetracks and at the charity gaming halls. Whether or not we go to the second step will be made on the basis of the experience with regard to those particular venues. That particular decision has not been made at this stage.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: Members across may scoff, but we have maintained the position that we are going to do this in a more orderly and careful manner than any other province -- and there are eight other provinces in Canada which have this particular kind of gaming entertainment. We are going to do it more carefully than any other and we're going to have fewer machines than any other province in our country.

I look forward to the support of members across the way who have been calling for tougher measures in dealing with gaming and dealing with the control of alcohol in the province of Ontario. They can show the support to their constituents by voting for Bill 75.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Sterling has moved second reading of Bill 75. 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.

Hon Mr Sterling: Madam Speaker, I believe there's an arrangement that this vote will take place immediately after question period tomorrow.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.


Mr Ouellette, on behalf of Mr Palladini, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 55, An Act to promote road safety by implementing commercial trucking reforms, drinking and driving countermeasures and other aspects of Ontario's comprehensive road safety plan / Projet de loi 55, Loi visant à promouvoir la sécurité routière pour la mise en oeuvre de mesures de réforme du camionnage, de contremesures visant l'alcool au volant et d'autres aspects du programme général de sécurité routière de l'Ontario.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): Earlier this month, my colleague the Honourable Al Palladini stood before you for the second reading of the Road Safety Act, an act that targets unsafe trucks and drinking drivers. I'm pleased to say that with the third reading of this bill we are closer to our goal of providing legislation that will make our roads safer.

We have heard from both the Ontario and Canadian medical associations. We have consulted with representatives from the trucking industry. We have gathered input from organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. We have read the recommendations from the Worona and Tyrrell inquests. The general public has sent us the message: They want safer roads. We have listened.

Last fall we released Ontario's road safety plan, which calls for a wide range of measures to reduce collisions and improve road safety. Today, we focus on five road safety initiatives.

We are delivering a message to unsafe truck drivers and operators, and this is: Change your ways. If you don't, we'll be targeting you with dramatically increased fines. Maximum fines are increased in some cases by 10 times, to $20,000.

This legislation also allows us to develop a conduct review system for commercial drivers similar to the demerit system for all drivers. Bad truck drivers do not belong on our highways. They will be identified and removed.

At the same time, the province is sending a message to drinking drivers: Don't do it. About 42% of all drivers killed on Ontario roads have been drinking. With the introduction of the administrative licence suspensions, drivers whose blood alcohol content registers over the legal limit or who refuse to take the breathalyser test will have their licences suspended for 90 days by the registrar of motor vehicles. This is an immediate measure aimed only at impaired drivers.


We are delivering a message to drivers to buckle up. Over the past 20 years, the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that 4,500 lives have been saved by seatbelts. It estimates that another 100 lives could have been saved last year if only they had buckled up. Ninety-one per cent of all Ontarians wear seatbelts; we want 100%. We have become a province of believers that seatbelts can and do save lives.

We are sending a message to drivers with suspended licences: The free ride is over. Currently, the taxpayer picks up the tab, including court appearances by an enforcement officer, sending out suspension notices and issuing new licences when the suspension is over. No more. With this legislation, we propose a $100 reinstatement fee that makes the suspended driver, not the taxpaying public, responsible for their actions.

We share a responsibility for making our roads safer. I think you'll agree that by removing drinking drivers from our roads, targeting unsafe truck drivers and their vehicles, and encouraging motorists and their passengers to buckle up, we are taking positive steps towards that goal.

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

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It's interesting; the previous speaker before the member for Oshawa, the member for Prescott and Russell, mentioned a pretty startling fact -- I don't know if the Legislature caught it -- that there are three suicides already linked with the operation of the Hull casino. It just puts into perspective sometimes the weighty matters we have before us in approving things like video lottery terminals.

On the bill before us, generally, my party and myself are supportive of the initiative. There are some very good initiatives in the bill. I think the intention and thrust of the bill answers some of the questions that the public and the advocates have raised over the last year, that certainly I've raised myself, about some of the needs that road safety requires.

There's certainly a very good initiative about the 90-day suspension for people who are impaired or suspected of being impaired. That really sends a good message to people who consider drinking and driving. It's an immediate 90-day suspension and it takes off the road people who sometimes continue to drive even though they're under suspension; that's happened in the past. It's worked well in other jurisdictions and is a very concrete initiative.

I know the member for Welland-Thorold is bringing forth a private member's bill Thursday which is going to include also that anyone who wants to get their licence back will have to take a course. I hope the members opposite will support that member's resolution coming Thursday, because a lot of it has to do with education and counselling for people who have a problem with alcohol or impairment and driving, which we all abhor. We as a party support that initiative.

The general thrust of increasing some of the fines seems to be correct, but there are some serious problems, though, that we have to put on the record. If you look at this bill, it's typical of a look at the Ministry of Transportation, the same ministry that said, "We're going to cut $7 million from winter maintenance and we're going to make the roads safer."

We stood up in this House day after day in the early winter, if you recall, in November and December, and said, "You're being foolish by cutting back on the winter maintenance budget." Stubbornly, they went ahead and dramatically cut that budget. You heard the outcry from every riding across this province that felt the consequences of that stupid move to cut back on winter road maintenance. They had to throw in probably three times more money because of that foolish initiative at the beginning when they thought they could ignore Old Man Winter or whatever.

This is the same Ministry of Transportation -- it's very schizophrenic, because it says, "We're very interested in safety on our roads," yet the minister and the department seem to be in favour of increasing highway speed. How contradictory can you be when, in the middle of roads that weren't properly maintained, with snow cover all year-round almost, in the middle of roads covered with potholes and deteriorating across this province, the minister stands up and advocates increasing road speed? There was such an outcry from across this province that this was another mindless, contradictory initiative that the ministry has put it back under the table somewhere.

Road speed and road maintenance have a lot to do with safety, because if you ask the trucking industry or ordinary motorists on the roads, there's a direct correlation -- ask the insurance companies -- between the condition of the road, maintenance of the road, whether it be ordinary maintenance or winter maintenance, and the speed travelled on the road.

Again in terms of the schizophrenic attitude of this ministry, this is the same ministry that, without any analysis, took away photo-radar. They didn't even look at it to see whether it had any impact on safety, what the cost-benefits of it were. They took it away on pure, basic ideology. They took that photo-radar away, and for all we know it could have had, or was having, a pretty good effect on slowing people down. But this ministry said: "No, we're getting rid of photo-radar. We don't care what the consequences are, what the costs are, what the implications are." They took it away without analysing it.

I ask whether or not the ministry has really looked at the full implications of these initiatives. Whether you look at advocating 120 kilometres an hour on our highways, cutting back our winter road maintenance or getting rid of photo-radar, they have done no impact studies on those decisions. The motoring public has suffered the consequences of those foolhardy decisions by this government that were done essentially on whims or some kind of ideological bent without looking at the impact on the Ontario motorists, whether they be commercial or casual.

The other thing that's lacking is that from the beginning the government was supposed to produce a comprehensive road safety program. That is still not before us. This bill is one small step, but there's much more that is needed, because you can't look at road safety in isolation.

As you know, what is happening in this province, especially in the southern part of the GTA, the greater Toronto area, is that we are in a very fragile transportation quadrant. On a daily basis almost, there's some kind of massive gridlock that occurs in the GTA, and it almost paralyses the whole of southern Ontario because of one accident that may occur on Highway 427 or Highway 401. On Friday, June 7, we had an example of that. There was almost a paralysis across the GTA because of one incident that occurred. It was the derailment of the GO train in Mississauga-Port Credit.

Everybody in the GTA is dependent on the whole system being sound. This Minister of Transportation has not introduced a comprehensive program. In other words, you're not going to have safe roads if you keep shoving more and more trucks and more and more people with their cars on to our highways. The policies of this ministry have done nothing but that in the last year. They've told people that public transportation is not a priority; that to move your goods or services or yourself, you must use your car and your highway. What that does is put added stress on our highways. Therefore there are more vehicles on the highway, there is more likelihood of congestion, more likelihood of accidents and also more likelihood certainly of lost time and efficiency. That creates more stress and therefore people tend to want to cut corners.


This is what has happened. By the dramatic withdrawal of funds from public transportation, the cutback on GO subsidies, the cutback on the major transportation systems in southern Ontario and the increase in fares -- almost every transit authority in Ontario now has increased its fares -- what that means is it pushes more people into their cars, more people on to the highways.

No wonder we have these gridlock meltdowns on a regular basis now. On Friday, June 7, we had a perfect example of that: The whole GTA transportation network almost collapsed because of one incident in Port Credit. On the 401 I think it was, just a couple of weeks ago, we had one vehicle that almost caused havoc throughout the GTA. At the 401 at Markham Road, this one tanker trailer became detached from a rig and flipped, spilling 6,000 litres of gas and diesel on the highway. As the officers who were on the scene said, if there had been one person who inadvertently lit a match, you could have had a disaster of untold proportions. What happens when one incident like that occurs is that the whole transportation network almost comes into a state of paralysis.

That is what has to be included if you're talking about a comprehensive road safety program. You can't keep putting people and cars on highways and expect the highways to absorb them naturally and safely. This is a one-sided, ideologically driven transportation policy which says, "All we're doing is trying to use our road system to move goods and services." It doesn't work. You can't cut back on GO, on subway construction and on public transit and expect our highways to take the hit. These gridlock meltdowns which occur on our major highways almost daily are proof that we're on the edge of a very serious transportation catastrophe. It is now very much, as I said, on thin ice.

Going back to how vulnerable we are to road dangers, when this tanker truck spilled 6,000 litres on the highway, it was reported in the Toronto Star that, "Hundreds of trucks -- some described as ticking time bombs by transportation ministry inspectors -- deliberately bypassed inspection stations in the greater Toronto area during last week's North American safety blitz."

This is another thing that happens. We have safety blitzes and they publicize them. So what happens is a lot of the regular trucking firms go to the back roads and avoid the safety blitzes. Even the ones they catch -- with the advertisement -- 45% of the trucks that were stopped were removed for defects. This was just June 9 -- 45% removed. Probably another 45% went on the back roads and avoided the inspection stations and the blitzes.

As someone from the Ministry of Transportation said: "Debbie Thompson, a supervisor at the Trafalgar Road South scale station on the 401 in Milton, said several companies that regularly enter the scales didn't during the blitz." In other words, when there's a safety audit taking place they all run and hide.

"`You get to know some of the better-known companies and we just didn't see them come by here the past few days,' Thompson said. `But there were a ton of trucks that took the back routes, getting off the highway or running along Steeles Avenue and James Snow Parkway so they didn't have to go by us.'"

The ministry officials, the rank-and-file people, call this a cat-and-mouse game. "Ministry inspectors say a `cat-and-mouse game' was in full force throughout the annual three-day blitz, with hundreds of trucks deliberately" -- this wasn't by accident -- "taking back routes in an effort to avoid being detained." Detained for what? Just to check them out and see if they're safe. This is what is happening on Ontario roads today, despite all this talk about getting tough.

I should mention too that one of the things the ministry still has no analysis of, which they have to bring forward to make this truck safety initiative much more comprehensive, is they have to do an analysis of the impact of just-in-time delivery on road safety. The ministry does not have that analysis. In other words, there's a system in place now where goods are delivered from the factory, the manufacturer, right to the site. There's no more warehousing, and this saves money. So they go directly to the site.

What this does, the just-in-time delivery system, is it poses enormous pressures on the trucking companies and the truck drivers and operators. It means they have to rush to arrive at a certain location at a certain time. If they don't get there at a certain time they are fined. There have been fines that have been told to me that could be $5,000 for being 15 minutes late.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Do they have to go over potholes to get there?

Mr Colle: And you can imagine going through some of the potholes near Cornwall, Ontario, going up Highway 69, along our own 401 near Kingston. These trucks have to go through potholed roads. If they don't get there at 5 o'clock or whatever it is, they get there 15 minutes late -- a $5,000 fine. No wonder there are accidents on our highways.

This ministry has not looked at the impact of this new just-in-time delivery system on road safety, and that's why I say that is what is missing from this bill that could make it a better bill that this government has to look at. Just-in-time delivery puts enormous pressures on ordinary people trying to make deadlines, and if they don't make that destination in time they could lose their whole week's wages for driving that truck. A $5,000 fine for being late -- you can imagine what it means to an operator-driver.

Another thing that is in serious doubt here is this bill talks about getting tough on enforcement, but it's the same Ministry of Transportation that I think over the next year will lay off 1,200 men and women. Who is going to do the enforcement of safety on the buses and the trucks on our highways with all these layoffs? Right now people will tell you a lot of the inspection stations are not open; they're always closed. If right now they don't have enough people to operate and staff the inspection stations, with these layoffs that are going to continue, who's going to check the trucks, the buses? Who's going to ensure ministry standards are met not only in the inspection stations, but within the ministry itself? This ministry is being gutted of a lot of front-line people, and a lot of these front-line people take care of safety inspections, safety programs and also safety initiatives.

We're certainly honoured here to have, I should mention, the Honourable Allan Rock, the member for Etobicoke, who is honouring us by showing us how important this House is even to our federal members. Welcome, Mr Rock.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): He actually came here to hear you talk about the road safety program.

Mr Colle: Yes. And it's good to see that the federal party and the federal government are so interested in road safety that they're here to listen to this very important discussion on road safety, and I know the Honourable Allan Rock is interested in issues dealing with safety, being the Minister of Justice. I commend him for taking the time out from his busy schedule to come here and listen to our debate on road safety and truck safety. Thank you for being here and showing interest in a very important issue.

These layoffs: How are they going to do any kind of supervision with 1,200 fewer people? Who's going to be ensuring all the records and all the safety violations are followed up upon? Who's going to be left at the ministry offices to do this? I think, with 1,200 people gone, we're going to see a lot less enforcement. Maybe what they'll do is the same thing they've done in other areas. They'll say, "Regulate yourself," and I don't think that's the way to go. I think we need MTO officials doing the job, ensuring there's safety on the roads.


People say, "What difference does it make whether trucks are safe?" My own assistant last weekend was driving to Montreal to go to see Jacques Villeneuve, that fine Canadian racer. She had one flying truck tire whiz by her on the 401. That's what it means. There are people who are average motorists, who are on the 401, so if those trucks and buses aren't safe, it affects all of us. That's why it's important not only to the trucking industry and to the truck operators, but to all Ontario citizens who happen to be on our roads. The condition of our roads is so important.

The other thing that is of great concern is the whole system of fines. From day one in opposition we've said what the front-line OPP officers said: "If you want to crack down on this truck cat-and-mouse game, just impose some heavy fines." I know at the beginning the ministry and the minister were saying, "No, the fines are fine," but now obviously they're going to increase the fines, although I do not think the fines have been increased enough.

We have to be a lot more serious about the fines we're going to put on because I don't think they go far enough. What'll happen is, as you know, right now the fines have been just the cost of doing business, but the average fines will probably be -- let's say you've got a brake problem, whatever it is, you can get a $265 fine; now it looks like it's going to be probably a $400 fine.

I don't think a $400 fine is enough. I know the front-line officers are saying, "Hit the truck operators with a $1,000 fine that first or second time; they won't do it again," because $400 is not enough. It's still a slap on the wrist. Sure, you can supposedly get a maximum of $10,000, $20,000, but that's only after it goes through the courts and it's up to the judiciary to decide on the level of fine. But the fine at the roadside is still a slap on the wrist.

It's certainly much better; it's an increase from the $265 fine, or whatever it is, for brakes or wheels that have problems, to go to $400, but it's not enough. It should be a minimum of $1,000 for having faulty brakes on Ontario highways. The $400 right now that this bill puts in is again a continuation of a very, very poor message to the truck drivers and the operators that truck safety is important to all of us.

Another thing I want to bring to the attention of the House is that, unfortunately, a number of families have been detrimentally affected by unsafe trucks. One of the families I have been dealing with and trying to help out in this is the Worona family. Unfortunately, a member of the family, Angela Worona, was killed by a flying truck wheel in January 1995 and her sister Theresa, a brave young lady from Whitby, Ontario, has crusaded for safer roads.

She has been alongside the OPP officers, she has been in the inspection stations, she has gone to media events, she has gone to the trucking association events, she's gone to see the minister, she's been in this House. She had a petition of 30,000 names asking for truck safety. I really consider her to be a firsthand, grass-roots expert on truck safety.

Theresa Worona and her family are not happy with this bill. They're very upset about it, and I'll read the letter that she wrote showing her displeasure about this bill. She wrote this letter to the Toronto Sun. This is from Theresa Worona, the sister of Angela Worona, who had that unfortunate death.

"Forty per cent of trucks were found to be unfit during random announced inspections, as opposed to surprise inspections by the OPP when they go out looking for bad trucks and it is necessary to pull 70% from the road.

"The trucks found in the inspections of the past few days were the 40% still running on our highways with defects in spite of the fact these well-publicized inspections were taking place all across the province.

"The annual road check is presently the only method we have to measure the level of safety and compliance within the trucking industry aside from the targeted inspections. Both these inspections are dismissed quite quickly by the trucking associations as an inaccurate and distorted picture of the industry.

"The number of accidents that involve trucks may not be high compared to car accidents, but there are a proportionately higher number of cars than trucks on the road.

"An accident resulting from an unsafe rig is a preventable and foreseeable situation, as opposed to approximately 95% of car accidents which are attributable to driver error and only 5% vehicle defect." In other words, with trucks a lot of the accidents are preventable. Many car accidents are a result of driver error.

"These unsafe trucks are rolling down the highway right now with no fear of significant deterrents, even though the Minister of Transportation announced increases to the minimum and maximum penalties allowable under the Highway Traffic Act," that is, this bill. "The roadside ticket for serious infractions will still only be $400." That's what I'm saying; she is saying that $400 is still a slap on the wrist.

"The question is whether or not the fines are enough to deter the offenders. The present levels have been referred to as laughable and the cost of doing business. The new levels to be introduced are still out of proportion to what the big rigs are making for operating in violation of safety regulations and taking chances with the lives of the public.

"The odds are still in favour of the violators and not the motoring public. With too few inspection stations open, and those that are understaffed, the chances are high that bad trucks are not being inspected. They are accidents just waiting to happen.

"Theresa Worona, Whitby."

Those of you who have talked to Theresa, have seen her, know that she has looked at this from a safety perspective, and a safety perspective that has had an impact on her family and her life. She feels that this bill does not go far enough with those fines and that the understaffing in the Ministry of Transportation is going to mean there are going to be less people out there inspecting these trucks. With less people and a fine that is still marginal, she feels we have to do more.

Why not a $1,000 fine if you've got faulty breaks in a truck or a rig on Ontario highways? These companies -- and I think that's where the emphasis should be, on the companies, the big moneymaking truck companies that are using Ontario highways. It's a privilege to use our highways, and if they use them with faulty brakes or faulty wheels or they're cutting corners, they should be penalized much more than the drivers, because the drivers make a meagre living. It's so competitive for drivers trying to eke out a living throughout North America. It's these trucking companies that should be the target. If there is a truck with unsafe brakes, hit the trucking company owner and the board of directors with $5,000 for that first offence, $10,000 for the second offence. They would pretty quickly clean up their act.

But I don't think with this bill they're going to do that. They're not going to act quickly enough. As you know, the recent truck blitz that they did across Canada shows there are essentially the same number of vehicles in disrepair on Ontario highways this year as there were last year so there's no improvement.

I hope this bill will make a little improvement, as I said, but it does not do enough, because it only deals with a lot of the symptoms of the problem. It treats the symptoms, not the cause. As I said, the causes of a lot of our problems have to do with certainly the condition of our roads.

You can't have good roads in this province when the minister has cut $700 million from the transportation budget. You can't hide $700 million and say the roads are okay. That's what's gone out of the capital and operating budget. So when you've got roads that are filled with potholes, that are crumbling all over this province, you're going to have accidents. To cut that $700 million when you've got such a bad state of road repair is contributing to accidents.

They should put money back, and again I made the suggestion in my private member's bill that the way to treat that is by having a dedicated highway repair fund put aside where every year you've got a fixed portion out of the gas tax that goes towards road repair. The members opposite voted against that recommendation. It's in every state in the union, except I think for New Jersey. They all do it. If Ontario were to do that you'd have that fixed amount every year going towards road repairs.


This government is basically going from one crisis to another in transportation and does not have a plan for road safety repair, road maintenance or road reconstruction. Certainly, and I've said it before, this has not been the fault of this one government -- this goes back to the last 10, 15 years -- but this government has been warned. Last year they were warned that there's got to be an investment in road safety and in road repair and reconstruction. What did they do? They cut out $700 million. You cannot cut that kind of money out of a budget and expect to have good roads.

Sure, you're going to fix a few potholes that the minister denied existed until his phone rang off the hook and had to have the pothole contest to bring attention to it. So people all over Ontario said: "The roads are in bad shape. Do something about it." But I tell the people of Ontario, they're still going to be in bad shape because that $700-million cut is going to be seen in roads, especially roads in northern Ontario where the conditions are very severe. That is a very direct correlation of road safety, whether it be trucks or the motor vehicles.

There's also a very interesting editorial which I think summarizes some of the concerns that the Worona family had about this bill. It's from Whitby This Week. It's a community newspaper that's published in that fine city of Whitby, the old home of the Whitby Dunlops and that great hockey team that represented Canada so well at the international -- I think it was 1968, or whatever. But anyway, a fine city, fine athletes, fine citizens. I was trying to think of the name of the guy who became mayor of Whitby and was a fantastic hockey player at the time.

Mr Ouellette: Bobby Addersley.

Mr Colle: Bobby Addersley, yes, a fine mayor, a fine representative of Canada.

This is from the Whitby This Week. The title reads, "Put on the Brakes."

"Though hardly comforting for the family of Angela Worona, the provincial government has made good on its promise to beef up legislation protecting motorists from unsafe trucks.

"And though the legislation, introduced last week by Transportation Minister Al Palladini, comes with the best of intentions it still doesn't go far enough to ensure safety on Durham region roads and beyond."

I think that's what we're saying, that this is a good first step, but you've got to go further to do something. I think that's what this editorial is saying.

"Angela Worona likely knew nothing of the minimum $265 fine that was in place for unsafe trucks when a loose wheel from a passing vehicle smashed through her windshield on January 31, 1995, killing her as she drove along Highway 401 at the Ajax-Whitby border.

"But that fine, like the minimum of $400, was likely seen simply as a cost of doing business for certain operators running big rigs in and around the greater Toronto area.

"Mr Palladini's ministry may have held up its part of the bargain by bringing forth more stringent safety regulations governing the rigs which run on our roads, but the proof will be in the meting out of these fines.

"The new maximum fine of $20,000 should hold sway with most truck operators, but the question lies in whether or not it will actually be imposed by the courts." It will be interesting to see how big the fines are, whether we'll see just the $400 fines. Will we see the big trucking firms hit with $20,000? Will we see them? Maybe we should count the numbers. We'll be watching for that. "It's simply not worth the paper it's written on if the trucking industry isn't forced to pay up for running unsafe rigs. And the maximum fine cannot be used only in cases where there is personal injury or death. It must be used in every case where there are reasonable grounds to conclude an unsafe rig could result in injury.

"If the Minister of Transportation is, as he claims, taking aim at unsafe operators where it hurts most -- in their bank accounts -- then these fines must be handed out frequently, swiftly and decisively.

"No longer can the fines be tied to the cost of doing business. They must become a threat to the business."

That's from the Whitby This Week, the weekly newspaper which has been very concerned about truck safety in the Durham region and the greater Toronto area.

I just want to conclude my remarks by saying, as I said at the outset, that there are some good initiatives in this bill; as we mentioned, the automatic suspension; the attempt to address the potential of having demerit points for unsafe drivers. I think that's another very good initiative, that that plan goes ahead. I think that also will be very helpful in sending a clear message that safe trucking on our highways, especially for commercial drivers, is very important. These are good initiatives in this bill.

There are also some stringent controls on seatbelt requirements. I know that this is one thing that I think people have forgotten in this bill, but there are some people who have for some reason gotten these medical certificates to say they can't wear seatbelts for medical reasons, and I know this bill tries to deal with that, ensures that if you are exempt from seatbelts that it isn't just some kind of off-the-cuff exemption. It's a serious exemption, because I think there is abuse of that in Ontario and I think this bill is very correct in dealing with this concern about these abuses.

Again, the real concern expressed by the Worona family is the bill does not go far enough; it does not hand out the stiff fines from day one. That's what it should be: a minimum of $1,000, right off the roadside.

The other thing that I feel most adamant about is that this government should pursue a comprehensive, integrated transportation policy. You can't make our highways safe unless you promote public transportation. With this ministry's 33% cut to capital for public transportation, which comes into effect January 1, it has sent an opposite message. There's no way that municipal transit authorities will ever be able to invest in a meaningful way on a 50-50 basis in transportation infrastructure with a 33% cut, and that is the biggest cut we've seen in public transportation in Ontario since the war.

I know Bill Davis, who was awarded Transportation Man of the Year as Premier, must be very unhappy with this direction the government is going in, because, Madam Speaker, as you well know, being a clean air advocate and environmentalist yourself, if people are in buses, streetcars and subways, that means there is more room on our roads and highways for commercial vehicles. The more room there is, the less tension there is, the fewer aggressive drivers there are. There are benefits to the motoring public if public transportation is invested in.

This government doesn't understand that. What they've done is they've cut 33% from the public transportation infrastructure. GO Transit has been scaled back. They forced the TTC to raise seniors' fares 40% because of the cutbacks. Because of the higher fares, there are fewer people riding transit in this province this year than there were last year, because almost every transit authority in this province has had to raise fares, and that is what is shortsighted. You can't make our roads work if you're forcing more and more people on our roads.

That is the main objection we have to this bill in principle, that it doesn't have a comprehensive view of transportation. That is the only way you'll ever get the biggest bang for your buck. Right now the ministry is trying to basically scramble, without any direction, without any policy, and just basically go back and forth from A to B. We need some vision. We need an integrated transportation policy which has a goal of getting people out of their cars if they don't have to be, but those who have to be are on good roads, safe roads and roads that have safe trucks and safe buses.


I know this government has an aversion to regulation and I know they're going to deregulate the bus industry. That's another concern we have: Will these buses be safe once there's deregulation of our buses? So the aversion to regulation will have an impact on safety. That is another challenge for this government: With fewer inspectors, less staff and more deregulation, what is the impact going to be on safety?

A lot of deputants came before us from the intercity bus industry. They were concerned about safety, especially when buses are going to get older as you get more deregulated companies coming in. So regulation is required for safety. The government cannot take a laissez-faire attitude towards road safety and pretend that the trucking industry or someone else is going to ensure safety on the highways.

Hopefully they'll also get the clear message that the people of Ontario do not want speed on their highways increased. I hope that doesn't come forward again but stays where it belongs under some table. We don't need faster speed; what we need is more enforcement on our highways. The tragedy is that because of the cutbacks in OPP officers, there are very few OPP officers on our highways, very few people obeying the speed limits, because they know they're not going to be confronted. You can drive almost regularly to Montreal or Ottawa and you're lucky if you ever see an OPP cruiser. That doesn't add to road safety.

Something this government should address too is that we need more marked OPP vehicles on our highways to ensure that people obey the speed limit. You know yourselves that you can go on any highway in the major 400 series and you try going 100 kilometres an hour and see how many people pass you. Probably 99% of them will pass you. Nobody obeys the speed limit because they know there's no photo-radar and there's no OPP enforcement. It's rare that you find the OPP out there. You can't have safe highways, whether it be for trucks or motorists, if you don't have any kind of enforcement, therefore you have all this aggressive driving, fast driving. That is something that really adds to a lot of accidents.

We have to make sure that the ministry addresses that. That hasn't been addressed in this bill yet: What are they going to do about the chaotic speed on our highways? Young people, old people, drivers of all descriptions are going above the speed limit. If we're going to crack down on unsafe drivers, we have to crack down on speeding drivers, and right now there seems to be basically a green light. Highway 401 is like the autobahn: Go as fast as you can; nobody is going to do anything to you anyway.

We have to ensure that the Ministry of Transportation, along with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, makes an investment in more OPP on our highways. We need enforcement. Obviously you have to go that way because you don't want photo-radar and you have no alternative, so you have to get some money and invest it in OPP officers who are out there enforcing speed limits because right now it's totally out of control. Our highways are filled with speeding motorists.

Who knows the average speed? The ministry probably knows what the average speed is. It could be 120, 140, 160. They should certainly know that. You can't have safe roads with that kind of speed. It's especially dangerous when a lot of people are so stressed out these days and they're trying to get to and from work, commuting all over the place. I think that's another ingredient.

I've laid out our party's position in terms of what we feel is good about this bill. In general we support the bill but we want to put the government on notice that there are other things that we're expecting. In order to treat road safety comprehensively, we hope those other measures will come forward, but we commend the government for at least taking this step. As I mentioned, there are a number of initiatives that are worthwhile backing and that's why we're supporting the bill.

We, as members of the opposition, want to ensure that you follow through with the other recommendations we've made and that other people have made to essentially bring back Ontario roads to the safest and best roads on the continent. We have had that kind of reputation in the past. Let's hope we can do that again. There's no reason why we can't, but remember that you can't do it by just looking at one piece; you have to look at the whole spectrum of transportation, and that includes enforcement, public transportation and reinvestment in our roads because they keep this province together. It's such a large province that we have no other alternative but to use our roads, and we have to ensure that we keep investing in them to make them safe and usable.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments or questions?

Mr Ouellette: A couple of points need to be clarified. First of all, the bill doesn't deal with a number of issues the member discussed such as winter maintenance, road speed, photo-radar and bus deregulation. The member talked about studies and that we had no comprehensive program. Funny, last October we gave the member a comprehensive program that listed over 100 initiatives that are coming out as studies come in and the research is done, and this government is bringing forward those over 100 initiatives.

Again, public transportation -- not dealt with in this bill.

He talked about inspectors and that there were cutbacks. In fact, we've hired more inspectors for bus deregulation or for buses and for the trucking industry to make sure it's safe out there and we intend to hire more. There were a number of issues he mentioned along with out of service, where he stated it was 45%, when in actuality it was 39%, which is still an unacceptable level, and we're working on taking those numbers down, but when you target vehicles in truck inspections, you expect to have a high rate of out-of-service.

We are continuing unannounced spot checks to make sure that things are safe out there and that the trucking industry is being looked at in a serious way. He also mentioned trailer hitches. The research has determined that it was an isolated incident and wasn't some catastrophe that was going to happen again on our roads. Also, we need to mention that we've increased the funding on road rehabilitation from $240 million to $350 million.

Having said all that, we thank the member and the party for their support on the legislation and we look forward to further initiatives coming about.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): As usual, I appreciate the comments of the member for Oakwood, who I think has described the attributes of this bill and what improvements could be made to it and has set the bill in the context of Ontario's highways today, which I think is very important.

He mentioned public transportation; he mentioned capital spending. Operating and capital spending in the ministry is actually down about $700 million over historic levels in this province, and I believe that will have an important negative effect on our road system, therefore on the people who are on those roads and obviously on safety.

I represent a constituency, a large part of which is on Highway 17, the Trans-Canada Highway. I was talking with the editor of the Manitoulin Expositor last evening, who said to me he had just been talking to a friend of his who had driven the entire length of Canada. In his opinion the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 17, between Nairn Centre and Sault Ste Marie is the worst stretch of road in all of Canada.

I mention that because we have many communities directly on that highway with a huge number of trucks. Many trucks coming from Manitoba from the west come down that highway. It is a main artery. The maintenance level, combined with the number of trucks that are out there, causes great difficulty and a very dangerous situation for my constituents and indeed all the people in Ontario who travel that road. So I would ask the ministry if they would seriously look at Highway 17 from Nairn Centre through to the Sault, particularly to about Blind River, and do something about that.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I just wanted to indicate that this is a positive initiative and sometimes listening to the opposition, it stuns me that they make it sound as if the roads have been in a condition that is totally untravellable, and that's not the case at all. Sorry, I didn't mean to burden you with that word.

I toured northwestern Ontario as part of our chamber of commerce tour just in May after we presented the budget. Quite honestly, I compared the condition of the roads up there with the condition of the roads on the 401 and I found the ones up there to be far better. There were a couple of patches, but quite frankly they were already repaired and the trucks were running on them. They were doing the work well and I had very few complaints from the business people when I was up there. I travel this province a fair bit on behalf of the ministry and I think the roads are in great condition.

I find the comments by the member for Oakwood very interesting when he introduces someone who had absolutely nothing to do with this bill, and it made me wonder whether the member for Oakwood probably knows as much about potholes as the honourable member from Ottawa knows about gun control.

But in any case, I just wanted to say that this is a positive bill that will deliver and upgrade the condition of the roads in this province, something that has been sadly neglected particularly in the last five years, so that we once again can travel Ontario like the US people used to travel the USA.

The Deputy Speaker: Further comments or questions? The member for Oakwood has two minutes to wrap up.

Mr Colle: It reminds me of that old ad, "Travel the USA in your Chevrolet" with Dinah Shore, whatever it was. That could be the slogan for the ministry.

Again, I've tried to be, I think, clear that there are obviously very positive initiatives here. We all agree with that and I commend the ministry for doing that. Being in opposition you have to mention the fact there are some needs, and I'm trying to steer the government into a position of looking at all the other pieces that make up the transportation puzzle that we're involved in here in Ontario.

I know it's very demanding and challenging. You're talking about huge investments and I think, by doing that, we're hoping we'll remind the public how important our roads are and how important road safety is that we can put it up on the agenda. Perhaps it hasn't been high enough on the agenda in the last decade and that's what this maybe will achieve.

I certainly thank the member from Manitoulin that we've got this stretch of highway -- maybe we'll get the member for Brampton North to travel along the 17 highway between Nairn Centre and the Sault and see what you think of that. But we know categorically the Provincial Auditor said 60% of our roads in Ontario are substandard. So there are some pockets that are in good shape, but there are some in very bad shape that are in a deteriorating condition.

In terms of what I was referring to on that 401 spill was, I was saying it just demonstrates, because I think the cause is still being looked at, how vulnerable we all are. At any one time, if one of these trailers goes down, not only is there a traffic gridlock situation, but there could be some serious accident that occurs as a result of a spill. We are very vulnerable now because I think there's some kind of dramatic change taken in transportation in the GTA. We seem to be constantly in gridlock, much more so, and it seems to have happened in the last six months or so. Some changes are taking place, and I hope the ministry looks at that.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I would like to thank the Speaker for recognizing me. I was a little surprised that no one else from the other parties is wishing to participate in this important debate, because I think this is an important debate that all members should be involved in. Dealing with safety issues, especially in the truck transportation field, is one that over the last year or two has become something that the public has been very, very much concerned with. Our caucus is indicating to the government that we are pleased it is moving on this particular bill.

We don't think this particular bill is the complete answer, but for those over there who are always claiming that the opposition is such a negative crew, we're saying to you: "Look, this is basically the right direction. You're doing the right thing here," but we do have some concerns about -- the member for Oakwood has very well articulated that -- the level of fines that are incorporated in this.

Many of these companies that we have on Ontario's roads are huge multinational companies, and fines of $300 or $400 are a cost of doing business. They aren't what anyone might consider to be a deterrent for these companies. Unfortunately, in the capitalist world we live in, sometimes it's easier to pay a fine than to maintain your fleet. I think we have to send a clear message to trucking transportation companies across this province that we want and we need them to be responsible, and the way to do that is to have a level of fines that encourages compliance.

Having said that, I want to say that particularly in my constituency, trucking and truck transportation is a big business. I want to applaud probably our largest employer in the district of Manitoulin, which is Manitoulin Transportation Inc, which is one of the largest truck transportation companies in Canada. They operate a huge fleet of trucks through Manitoba, all of Ontario, Quebec, some of the northern United States and they do it from the small town of Gore Bay on the North Shore of Lake Huron. They have demonstrated that they can do this with about 100 employees at the head office in Gore Bay doing the administrative functions and providing the dispatch, employing a large number of the people in the Gore Bay and Manitoulin area, and they are a responsible firm that has urged me, over the years, to speak up for strong measures in truck safety.

Their attitude when they're talking to me is that they want to maintain their fleet to the highest standards and they expect their competitors to do that also. When their competitors are allowed to get by with some shoddy maintenance, it makes it all the more difficult for good, reputable companies to compete in the industry. So I want to say that, at least in my view and I believe in my constituents' view, moving to stronger safety regulations with trucks is something that even the industry applauds and we will find that to be extremely useful.

I as an MPP spend a lot of time on Ontario's highways. To get here, it's 576 kilometres -- I bet you didn't know that, Mr Speaker -- down Highway 40, up Highway 6, across Highway 17 and down 69 to 400 to the city here. I've noticed that there are increasing numbers of trucks on the roads. The member for Oakwood talked about the just-in-time delivery situation; that situation has increased the number of vehicles we have on the road because of course it's part of our modern world, it's a way companies can compete.

E.B. Eddy in my constituency at Espanola, for example, ships a lot of the pulp from their mill in Espanola by truck to the E.B. Eddy mill in the Ottawa area. When they're doing that, I'm told that if there's an eight-hour holdup of trucks between the two Eddy plants, the Ottawa plant will have to shut down. So that's a fairly tight schedule, considering you're travelling eight to 10 hours to accomplish that. But it provides industry with great economies, far less warehousing, far less money tied up in inventory. It makes good sense, but what that means is we have more and more and more trucks on our highways.

I'm having a little difficulty understanding government policy in this fashion. The increase in vehicles on our roads has been accompanied over the years by an increase in taxation: fuel taxes, gasoline taxes, insurance taxes. I understand that in the new automobile insurance bill there is actually a new tax that's hidden in this and that now part of your premium will go to pay the OHIP costs. That wasn't there before. Essentially it's a new tax on auto insurance, which is a tax on motorists, which is a tax on truckers, which is a tax on all of us.

We've increased the net take in terms of revenue from people using our roads absolutely tremendously. It has increased by $300 million or $400 million, probably more, in the last two or three years. That has not been reflected in the amount of money the Ministry of Transportation is providing to provide enforcement of these truck transportation regulations or improvements in our roads or, as the member for Oakwood has pointed out, some of the alternatives to just road transportation. Public transit, whether it's GO, TTC, municipal bus service in places like Elliot Lake -- whether it's in those places or spent on roads, there is an effect. You have to see this as a combined policy, as a broad policy. If we can take some people off our roads, obviously the roads last a little longer, they're a little safer, everything's a little bit better.

We're seeing the government cut back on GO, cut back on the TTC. Take norOntair, Mr Speaker. I know you'd be really disturbed to know that norOntair is no longer flying, so people in northern Ontario do not have the benefit of the fine service that norOntair at one time provided across northern Ontario. I was shocked to learn that Bearskin, which was providing service to the city of Elliot Lake, is now pulling out. I think they're going to be there but one more week in the city of Elliot Lake providing air service. So a city of 14,000 people, almost 200 kilometres from Sault Ste Marie or 200 kilometres from Sudbury, will have absolutely no air service because the private sector have found they cannot make money and therefore they're not in the business.

But the government under the present minister and the present Premier apparently doesn't believe that places like Elliot Lake should have air service and is doing nothing about it. What does that mean? That means there are more people going down Highway 17, either to the east or the west, and that means they're out there with the trucks. Most of Highway 17 is two lanes, extraordinarily dangerous in two seasons: in the winter when weather conditions can make it very difficult and in the summer when the increase in tourism, the number of recreational vehicles, trailers, boats, that sort of thing, really stretches the present Highway 17 to its ultimate. There's a need, we all know that, in places like Highway 17, if not for four-laning, at least for more passing lanes and certainly better road maintenance.

As we come supporting the government on this particular initiative, we are concerned that the overall transportation policy of this government is not working a bit and that they've got the priorities quite confused. So I want to say to the government, we need to have more enforcement on those highways. The regulations will not work without more enforcement.

I heard the parliamentary assistant say, "Yes, we're going to put on a few more inspectors," but I don't think that will be the answer, because as you put on a few more inspectors, probably the most important truck enforcement comes from the OPP, and the number of OPP officers presently on our roads is diminishing as we speak.

I guess I'm just up here to say to the government today, you're on the right track as far as this particular piece of legislation goes. Increase the fines. Make sure they really are a penalty to those who don't want to play by the rules in Ontario. Have safe practices. Make sure your driver training is adequate, more than adequate; we should be demanding excellence in driver training. Make sure you have a transportation policy that encompasses factors like winter road safety. Make sure that our roads are plowed and sanded and kept up in the best possible way during our winter months. Make sure that the roads themselves have the capital expenditures made on them to ensure safety, to ensure that you don't rattle the truck or your car to pieces just driving down one of the Queen's highways. Make sure, in short, that you explore the alternatives to road transportation.

All those components, and probably some more that I haven't mentioned, are a true transportation policy. If this is just one component of a true transportation policy, we can accept that, but we see the government being hugely deficient in this area and we call on the minister to come forward with a comprehensive policy that includes public transportation, includes more capital maintenance, includes road improvements on highways, as I said before, like Highway 17, the Trans-Canada. Let's make sure that we do have the safest roads and the best roads in all of Canada, in all of North America.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I would just like to commend the member from Manitoulin on his expert local connotation on this issue. I think a lot of us who live in southern Ontario don't realize how critically important good roads are in northern Ontario. Maybe we can mention again, as the Manitoulin Expositor mentioned in its article, that we shouldn't have these stretches of highway like the one we have from Nairn Centre to Sault Ste Marie. Something should be done and we shouldn't be just looking at the GTA or St Catharines, which has all these great highways. Places like Nairn Centre need good, safe highways.

I think what has to happen also is that the ministry must recognize that no matter how advanced our economy becomes -- and just as a note to you, Mr Speaker, a former neighbour of mine -- you may know him; his name is Don Tapscott -- is probably the foremost pioneer in the new digital economy; you know, all this high-tech, computer, cutting edge, space-age, paradigm shift digital economy. He phoned me up in the middle of my pothole contest: "This is Don Tapscott." Like the Marshall McLuhan of the computer age, he phoned me up and I thought he was going to talk about the paradigm shift or the new digital -- no, he phoned me up about potholes. He said, "I'm driving all over this province and the roads are horrible."

Don Tapscott, the Marshall McLuhan of the 1990s, who is into the new space economics, is saying roads are important. No matter how much you get into the Internet and you surf the Net, you've still got to ride the road. That's why we've got to invest in our roads.

The Deputy Speaker: Further comments or questions? The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has two minutes to wrap up.


Mr Michael Brown: I suspect that after one of the worst winters on record, certainly the people of Algoma-Manitoulin, if they had been speaking with the member for Oakwood, could have proposed some of the largest potholes we could see in the province. As a matter of fact I was told in places, and witnessed myself, potholes in potholes.

Having said that, one thing I neglected to mention in my original speech -- I didn't really want to do that, but sometimes my memory slips -- is our only real form of public transportation left in Algoma-Manitoulin, the ferry, the Chi-Cheemaun. I want to encourage people in southern Ontario to take the opportunity to drive to Tobermory, take the Chi-Cheemaun across the South Bay mouth and enjoy Manitoulin Island and the North Shore of Lake Huron in one of the finest constituencies in this country.

That reminds me that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has just recently appointed new members.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Were they Tories?

Mr Michael Brown: I think they all were, but I don't really have a difficulty with that. What I do have a difficulty with is that since about 1988, under a Liberal government we had appointed a person from Manitoulin to the board of the ONTC because they operate the ferry service. For the first time since then there is no one on the ONTC board from the district of Manitoulin. The people in my area rely on this service for tourism and transportation, and not to have one member from the district of Manitoulin is a total insult to my constituents.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I have a great interest in the issue of road safety, as I'm sure every member of this House has. I indicate again at the beginning our support for the general thrust of this piece of legislation. It's always said that the opposition tends to be negative about government initiatives or automatically opposes government initiatives. Of course that isn't the case. We see an example here where I think a fair consensus has developed among the three political parties in this Legislature, and I'm sure in the public as well, around the need for even more effort to improve road safety on our highways.

Much of this is centred on two different thrusts -- one is the impaired driver and second is the driver of large vehicles such as transport trucks -- and trying to increase safety in that regard. I suspect the public at large is very supportive of this legislation and I think even those who potentially could be victims of these pieces of legislation, if I can use that terminology -- you can say "deserved victims," if you will -- recognize the importance of it.

I noted that David Bradley -- I think he's the president of the Ontario Trucking Association -- has always supported the need of the government to keep a close watch on safety as it relates to trucking in the province. In our province we have many trucking firms that have an enviable record in terms of safety, both the safety of the drivers, those operating the vehicles, and the safety of the vehicles themselves. They are as interested as anybody else in getting the bad actors off the road: first the bad trucks, and second, those drivers who are in violation of the traffic act in the province of Ontario.

This will go part of the way. It is a move, as I indicated, in the right direction. Certainly if you talk to people who travel the major highways -- I know the ones in southern Ontario better than the northern Ontario ones -- one question I get almost continuously is, "When are you going to do something about truck safety on the highways?"

One thing we recognize is that truck transportation has increased tremendously over the past decade or so. Many goods used to be carried on freight cars on trains, some on ships that go through the Welland Canal in my area, but more and more we're seeing goods being transported by means of trucks. That means that those who are driving smaller vehicles are finding more and more trucks on the highway. One need only travel on the major four-lane highways -- they call them the 400 series highways -- to know that there are occasions, particularly during the evening, where you'll see substantially more trucks than cars, so it's even more important that we work on truck safety.

Many drivers have good a driving record, are very proud of that record and deserve a pat on the back for it. Those who are in violation, however, must face the consequences suggested in this bill. There is an increase contemplated in the fines according to this bill. We feel that they could go even higher, and even more important would be that the companies, not just the drivers, be the ones to face those fines.

If a driver is driving at a very fast speed or in a dangerous fashion, one is likely to assume that the driver is going to receive the fine, although there are circumstances where drivers, as the member for Oakwood, the Liberal transportation spokesperson, said, are required to meet certain schedules and for that reason are driving perhaps faster or more recklessly than they would want to do. That is something we have to address, and we can address that only if we're prepared to levy fines or other penalties at the level of the board of directors or the management of the company as well as individual operators.

We also know, and I've seen this experience in other ministries, that using that method is the most effective. If you take the person who actually commits a minor violation but does so at the behest or suggestion of others, that is, those who are higher up in the echelon of the company, you will find that person perhaps is being unfairly treated by the judicial system when it should be the person who ultimately gave the orders for the transportation to take place in such an expeditious manner as to cause violations.

In terms of vehicles themselves, all of us have been on the highway and witnessed most unfortunate circumstances. I drive the Queen Elizabeth Highway quite often and I'm sure that all of us who drive the QEW or Highway 400 have come within inches, perhaps, of serious accidents from time to time because of a variety of circumstances.

One of those circumstances involves items falling off a truck. I remember being in a vehicle a few weeks ago, driving along, and a huge piece of wood came flying off a truck. I was able to manoeuvre to miss it. Unfortunately the car behind me had to manoeuvre through the guardrail, so a significant accident happened. I don't think there were fatalities or serious injuries, but nevertheless we saw an example --

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): Did you find out?

Mr Bradley: The member for Burlington South asked if I stayed around to find out. I certainly did. I made a telephone call, because Mr Palladini says all of us have cell phones, to 911 to help solve this problem. It was interesting because as fast as the accident happened, the Ontario Provincial Police had already been notified, so there must be some validity at least to what the Minister of Transportation has to say about the number of cell phones on the highway. I think of the consciousness of the public, of the need to report accidents of this kind quickly. It's an example, however, of something coming off a truck, and in this case it was carrying this particular piece of equipment.

There is also a problem where unfortunately there have been fatalities and serious injuries as a result of wheels coming off vehicles and other pieces of a vehicle itself coming off and causing major problems. There's simply no excuse for that taking place. One thing we should be able to count upon is the vehicle to be mechanically sound in every way to avoid those most unfortunate circumstances.

The other problem is that because trucks are so large, because of the way they're built, the way they're constructed, they have to have enough room so they can manoeuvre. Even when a truck isn't specifically responsible for an accident, we will find that trucks often jackknife and, as a result, several other vehicles are involved in that accident. It means those who operate the vehicles have to do so in a very careful manner to avoid this. Certainly this bill will again encourage more of them, I think, to do so and, for that reason, I think it's worthy of support in this House.


I understand, from what I have seen, the safety blitzes are a good idea. Unfortunately, if the minister is interested in getting publicity instead of the results from the safety check, we find that people start to avoid the safety check location. In other words, when the Minister of Transportation says, "Today we'll have safety checks at the following locations," you'll find those who know they're in violation with their vehicles will take the back roads or will take another route of some kind to avoid that safety blitz.

In the truck stations where they do the checks, they still find about 40% have some kind of safety violation, but where it's unannounced, where it's truly a surprise safety blitz, you find up to 70% of the vehicles have some form of safety violation. I think, particularly when they are significant and serious violations, they should be subject to very strong penalties. This bill improves that. It is far from perfect, but it does make some improvement in that regard.

I'm sure that those who spend the money, in other words, those good, corporate citizens in the trucking industry who decide they're going to spend the necessary funds to maintain their vehicles and they purchase good vehicles and they train their employees appropriately and they give their employees sufficient time to carry the goods, those companies should be rewarded by having those who do not follow those steps face the wrath of the Ministry of Transportation and the judicial system of Ontario. That's only fair to the driving public in terms of safety; in terms of business it's fair to the good business people in our province who have made that particular choice.

The other problem, however, we encounter that is not dealt with adequately or at all in this bill is that of road safety. Besides the fact that our roads used to be envied by many tourists who came from other jurisdictions to Ontario -- that is not the case today, by the way -- but besides the fact they envied it and that helped to bring them back to Ontario, of course we look to good roads for safety.

The lines being painted on, I notice in some cases, particularly in bad weather, are hard to follow on a two-lane highway and sometimes on a four-lane highway. The appropriate markings at the side of the road and in the middle of the road delineating the lanes are very important. We take them for granted, but the necessary maintenance and upkeep must take place to ensure that drivers know where those lines are. If there are any signs down or any of the markers at the side of the road, it's important to have them replaced as often as possible.

Highways naturally must be designed well. We count upon those who do that job to design them in an appropriate fashion. In terms of construction, it's important as well to try to make sure the construction period is as short a period as possible and that there's as little disruption of traffic as possible, because what happens then is that people who are long delayed tend to speed up to try to make up for lost time.

Even if it takes a little more of an investment to keep the roads open -- and I want to say that the Ministry of Transportation, I've noticed over the past 10 years or so, has done this quite well. They use the new equipment, the new markers, the new fences I'll call them, in the middle of the highway now that allow them to keep lanes open. That didn't always happen in the past. The person who invented those must, first of all, be a multimillionaire and, second, has certainly done a service to the people of this jurisdiction because it allows the road, such as the Queen Elizabeth Highway, to be kept open at the peak traffic times with four lanes, two lanes in each direction.

The other problem we have is potholes. I'm sure the trucks as well as the cars have to make last-minute manoeuvres to avoid huge potholes. I noticed particularly in eastern Ontario that there are virtually potholes in the potholes. The members in western Ontario may or may not have noticed some of the same damage, but certainly I noticed in eastern Ontario, perhaps the winter being a bit more severe in that area, that the potholes have been quite bad.

Despite the fact the minister is out there with his shovel and whatever it is he's putting in -- I think it's asphalt he's putting into the holes on the highway -- nevertheless, we have a major problem. I want to say we are very supportive of the maintenance of highways and I think it's shortsighted of any government of any political stripe to allow the roads to deteriorate to a state where they could be the cause of an accident. I notice that there are probably more claims this year of the provincial government from motorists in this province, including truck drivers, for damage being done as a result of major potholes than has been the case in any other year.

Where there's a widening needed -- and it isn't always the case there's a widening needed -- then I think it is worthwhile proceeding with that. One of the areas that we would know is Highway 416 going into the nation's capital between Ottawa and the 401. It would seem to me that would increase safety, because when you have a large number of vehicles on a two-lane highway, people become impatient, they pass and accidents happen. That's most unfortunate when that happens in our province.

The northern highways present a special challenge. Those who know Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury know it is a well-travelled highway, as well as several parts of Highway 17. It seems to me in those cases a widening of those highways would increase safety rather significantly. Already we have some areas where the slower vehicles can pull over to the side. There is still the problem of when they re-enter back to the two-lane situation. When there's a miscalculation, there can often be an accident.

Another thing I want to lament, if I may be lamenting this evening -- and, Speaker, you are a former municipal representative -- is what I'll call the dumping of responsibility for many local road systems on the local municipality. In some cases it may make sense. Where it is mutually acceptable, one could say it makes some sense; in other areas, it doesn't.

The member for Hamilton Mountain, who is in the House this evening, would know along the Queen Elizabeth Highway there are several service roads between Hamilton and Niagara Falls. I understand the provincial government wishes to relinquish responsibility for those service roads and leave them with the local municipality. The local municipality, already facing significant cuts, is having a difficult time with that.

Those who have served at the municipal level as dutifully as many of the members of the House have would know that to be a problem. I know that the members of the government caucus will be speaking to the Minister of Transportation and, more appropriately, to the Minister of Finance and the Premier about the lack of advisability of holus-bolus giving financial responsibility back to local municipalities for those roads.

The level of fines I've mentioned. I also want to say that one of the other problems we have is that the Ministry of Transportation is laying off so many staff. I should say this, because there may be Ministry of Transportation officials here and this may get back to the minister. I hope they're not contemplating an abandonment of the move of the Ministry of Transportation to St Catharines. You always hear these rumours out there.

I remember when the announcement was made by Premier Peterson in St Catharines that the Ministry of Transportation would move to St Catharines, including 1,400 jobs at that time, moving to a building in downtown St Catharines, this was hailed by all and sundry in the Niagara Peninsula. Unfortunately, since then, under the previous NDP administration that went down to approximately 1,000, as an estimate, and now there are fears that it will be less than 500. In fact, I suspect that in the back rooms of the government there are many who would like to withdraw the Ministry of Transportation, take it back to Toronto, and those of us who don't represent Toronto areas would be very concerned about that.

I know the member for Niagara Falls would be extremely concerned. He's in the House and he's nodding, either in the affirmative or nodding off, one of the two. With my monotone voice I can understand why he might be nodding off, but he says not. I know he would be supportive of maintaining those jobs in the Niagara region and ensuring that the Ministry of Transportation and the minister maintain that promise to keep those jobs there. So I will take all the nods I see on the government side as an affirmative in that regard.


But the point I'm making is that there are some 1,200 staff who will be eliminated from the Ministry of Transportation. That means there's going to be less opportunity for the provincial government, in this case, to be able to enforce those new laws that we see. There are going to be fewer inspections that are going to be possible and that's most unfortunate.

When you talk about deregulation, when you talk about downsizing, it sounds good in theory and it has to be done in certain circumstances. There isn't anybody in the House who doesn't realize that. But you have to look for a long time and carefully at what the ramifications of some downsizing might be. When it comes to public safety, I'm sure the public would not want to see that happen. That's why I am concerned about safety on our highways, as I see this ministry eliminating some 1,200 positions.

I also see a $700-million cut overall in the expenditure from last year to this year in the Ministry of Transportation, and that doesn't bode well for traffic and highway safety. There are fewer OPP officers on the road than we used to see. Perhaps a dozen years ago, when you travelled the highway from St Catharines to Toronto, you could see a number of Ontario Provincial Police cars. They were vigilant to make certain that people were not recklessly speeding or that people were not engaged in other violations of the traffic act.

They were there. People didn't always appreciate it when they were the ones stopped, but at least they were pleased to see that somebody cared enough and that there were enough police available for those purposes. I don't mean sitting there with a speed trap hidden somewhere in an unmarked car. I mean chasing vehicles that are switching from lane to lane, causing major problems, or the left-lane bandits who are poking along at 40 miles an hour, if I can use the old terminology, in the left lane. I could understand the frustration of drivers at that as well.

We have to have that kind of policing. I know when the government was in election campaign mode, there was a suggestion that we would see more police officers available to enforce the laws of this province. Instead we've seen a significant reduction in enforcement officers, both at the provincial and the local levels. This again does not bode well for the safety of our highways.

This bill is one that will certainly receive the support of this party. I've heard the NDP say they are supportive. This will make the parliamentary assistant happy because he will be able to get some praise from the opposition instead of the usual darts being fired his way. I want to commend him on his role of taking a special interest in this and becoming knowledgeable of the bill.

What the public never realizes is that sometimes the parliamentary assistant knows more about the contents of legislation than the minister. The parliamentary assistant would not want to concede that publicly because he would not want to annoy the minister, but I know he has taken the time to look at various aspects of the bill, to promote them, as is his job as a member of the government, and to listen to the input from the opposition and from outside.

If there are any changes that might be made in a regulatory sense -- because I don't think this bill is going to committee. I think this is going to be passed. This is third reading, so it'll be proceeding to be agreed to by the Lieutenant Governor -- if there are any regulations that come with it, I know the parliamentary assistant will recommend good regulatory changes to the minister. I would caution again that the parliamentary assistant might pass along to his colleagues the need for those people to enforce the act.

I also want to encourage him to talk about the need for public transportation, the support of public transportation, to ensure that there are fewer unnecessary trips on our highways. I understand the need for individual vehicles. I have one. I think most people in our province have one. Some people have three or four in their driveways when you go by.

Particularly in rural areas or small towns or if you're in Sarnia -- and the member for Sarnia's here -- and you want to get to various other places, Windsor, London, Toronto or something of that nature, it's difficult to find public transportation that is always as timely as you'd like to have it. But it is important to have that public transportation available in our communities and certainly on our highways to ensure that we don't have unnecessary vehicular trips taking place that are harder on the highways and of course increase the chances of accidents taking place.

When I see significant cuts to the Toronto Transit Commission, to GO Transit and to St Catharines Transit as another example, because of a reduction in funding from the provincial government, they will not be able to upgrade their vehicles as they would like to. Second, they will be having to cut service where it would have been nice to maintain that service. Third, they will have to hike fares and that will make public transit a little less attractive than it might otherwise be.

Taking into consideration all of those arguments and suggestions, I urge and commend upon the parliamentary assistant his personal intervention with the minister and with others who have responsibility in this area. I wish them well. I hope this legislation is helpful. I know that government always tends to think the opposition hopes something will go wrong and then they can point and say the government was wrong. I think you'll find in many cases such as this we hope you're right.

I notice in the other aspect of the bill which deals with drivers who are impaired drivers, again I think you're going to have good support for that among the general public. Even among those who may in the past have driven in an impaired state, it's going to make people think a lot more about it ahead of time.

I don't know what the figures are, and maybe it's because kids have more money now, but it is interesting to see the number of kids now who will get together when they're going out on the town, so to speak, and hire a cab. Four or five kids will hop in a cab, go down to a tavern and then take the cab home, or they will have a designated driver. For all the finger-pointing we might do at kids today, I suggest there wasn't as much of this taking place a generation ago, and that contributes to safety.

There will be some who will be critical about civil rights being violated in this case because you're going to suspend a licence simply because a person would not take a breathalyser test or because that person is shown to be impaired. Well, there is a solution to that: Don't become impaired. I think that's what this legislation is saying. "Don't become impaired and then drive a vehicle." That's what the legislation is saying. Everybody will know the rules ahead of time.

I'm sure there will be a communications plan that will come forward from the government that will outline the new responsibilities on drivers and operators of trucks in this province. By the way, that's the kind of information I think is defensible on the part of the government as long as it's not self-serving propaganda in the mode of large newspaper ads and advertisements but rather factual information. I think factual information is very defensible, and if you have a communications plan that calls for that, you will not see me rise in this House to be critical of factual, non-political, non-promotional advertising that allows people to know what the new laws are and what the consequences are for those in violation of those laws.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this particular bill on third reading. It's unusual for lengthy debates on third reading. We have canvassed, however, many of the issues and I know the government has been eager to hear what the opposition has to say on these issues and has certainly welcomed the rather extensive contribution that has been made by members of the opposition. I know the members of the government who are sitting here are simply delighted to have the opportunity to be sitting in the Legislative Assembly at 7 o'clock on Tuesday evening.

The Deputy Speaker: Further comments or questions? The member for St Catharines has two minutes to wrap up if he wishes.

Further debate? Seeing none, Mr Ouellette has moved third reading of Bill 55. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.



Mr Sampson, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved third reading of the following bill:

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.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Mississauga West. Do you have a statement?

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): I have a few comments, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much. It's not often I turn down an offer to speak to auto insurance since it's a subject I've been working on for a few months anyhow.

I want to start off by thanking the members of this assembly, and frankly members on both sides, who have worked very closely with me and the Ministry of Finance staff as we have brought forward auto insurance reform.

I think the member for Welland-Thorold talked about this in his maiden speech, so to speak, on auto insurance this session, spoke to that process starting when he came to my office. He was one of the first to come to my office to talk to me about this particular subject and then it went on through a series of consultations with members of the government and on the opposition side as well.

We had a draft bill and regulations referred to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in February this year, and again members involved from all sides of the House were asked to participate and they did. They brought forward some very helpful suggestions to us. If one were to take a look at the difference in the legislation between the draft bill and the regulations and the final bill and regulations, you'll see that we did listen to the people who came before us.

I want to speak briefly to the product we have laid in front of this House for discussion and consideration. We will be the third consecutive government to reform auto insurance and I suppose that for this we all, as legislators, should apologize to some degree to the drivers of Ontario and to the people involved in the delivery of this product, because it has been and has represented a very unstable product in a very unstable environment for Ontario drivers.

It's difficult for one when one buys an auto insurance product to know what one is getting if every two or three years the government just changes the game plan. That was clearly one of the issues we had to address when we took a look at auto insurance reform. We had to make sure that for the interests of the consumer, for the interests of the Ontario driver, we designed a product that would be around for a while. Sure, one might have to tinker with it as it matures and as the needs of Ontario drivers mature, but clearly we had to design a product Ontario drivers could rely upon year after year to provide them the basic coverage and protection they've been looking for and have not seen in previous auto insurance reforms.

I think what we've offered to the Legislature for its consideration here today is a fair and balanced system indeed. It's fair because it returns finally to the Ontario driver the right to seek action against the at-fault party for the damages the at-fault party has caused the individual. I'm not talking about the physical damage. I'm not talking about the repair of the broken glass or the dented fender. I'm talking about the personal injury that a claimant, an insured, may have suffered as a result of an accident. It's only fair that Ontarians be allowed that right, and that's a right that the previous government took away from Ontarians. That's a right that we, during the election, committed to redeliver, and we've honoured that commitment.

I also said I believed our plan was a balanced plan. When I say that, I'm talking about the balance between benefits that are available to claimants regardless of their fault and benefits that are available to claimants as long as they were not at fault. I've already spoken just briefly to the benefits available to one who is not at fault -- that's the right to sue -- but what about those of us who are involved in accidents where, frankly, we have made a mistake, a mistake in judgement or whatever, and have been involved in an accident? What kind of benefits are available to us?

We believe there should be some very basic benefits available on a no-fault format. I say "very basic" because it was clear to us in the review of auto insurance that it wasn't necessary to design a plan that provided a Cadillac system for those who chose not to want a Cadillac insurance system. I'm not talking about Cadillac in the make of a car; I'm talking about Cadillac in the form of the payments and benefits that one would get as a result of an accident.

Should one choose to provide extra insurance, I think there should be that option, and we've designed that into this plan. There's a very basic no-fault plan on one side of the balance, and on the other side we think a fair and reasonable access to the court system to sue the at-fault party for the damages that have been sustained. That balance is there, but we've also had to, we feel, adjust the level of the balance so that we had a basic auto insurance plan that was affordable for Ontarians.

I'm not going to stand here and suggest that if one were to buy the top-up provisions, it's going to be the same price as if one didn't buy the top-up provisions. Clearly, if you're going to seek and require additional income coverage, income protection on a no-fault basis, you've got to pay for it, but if you're doing that, then clearly you have the income to pay for that. So there's a good match there.

I want to also briefly speak to a couple of other consumer initiatives that we've designed into this plan. I want to make it very clear to this House that this particular auto insurance plan our government is bringing forward is truly driven for the benefit of consumers in Ontario. It hasn't been designed for the benefit of the industry, as some may lead you to believe, Mr Speaker, and I know you're a reasonable man and you wouldn't be led to that conclusion right off the bat; and it hasn't been designed for the benefit of the medical practitioners, frankly, like the previous NDP plan has now benefited the medical practitioners.

I would encourage you, Mr Speaker, to take a look at the streets and the street corners as you drive through your own community. You will probably see a number of medical treatment facilities that have sprung up over the last couple of years. If one were to argue that the previous government's plan has not benefited that community, I think they have not been watching the development of those clinics grow and grow and grow.

We've not designed this plan for the benefit of brokers either. Brokers will be involved in the delivery of the product, but we've designed this plan to benefit the consumer because in doing so, if indeed we've designed a plan that will benefit the consumer, that will also serve the best interests of all the other stakeholders in the plan.

Many people came to us and said, "As a consumer, we need somebody to go to as a last resort to help us resolve market practice deficiencies within the industry." These would be as they relate to payments of medical benefits or other types of benefits in addition to the pricing and the dealing as one buys auto insurance.

We've responded to that. We have suggested in our legislation that the Ontario Insurance Commission create an ombudsman to deal with these issues and concerns as a last resort, because we have specifically said to the industry, "We expect you to also have an ombudsman position or ombudsman type of role within your own company, as an underwriter, within the industry in general, and then finally, if the issue has not been dealt with at those levels, at the insurance commission in the form of an ombudsman there."


We've also suggested to the industry, as part of our commitment to come to grips with how one insures the high-risk market, that they should cease and desist the use of this rule called the lapse-of-coverage rule. That is where one will be thrown into the Facility Association, the high-risk driving category, if one did not have insurance coverage for 12 months over the last 24 months. There was a reason why that rule was there and I won't go into that because I believe I spoke at length to it during the second reading debate.

There are clearly signs that the industry had a tendency to stretch the use of those rules, so we suggested to the industry that they discontinue the lapse-of-coverage rule, and they've done that. But we are also committed as a government to making revisions and refinements to the arrangement that will allow one to be insured in a high-risk driving category. That will be called the Facility Association review and we'll be taking a look at that through the summer months in the expectation we can come forward with a final solution, in regard to how that plan is dealt with, in the fall or early winter months.

We've also suggested that retirees be offered a discount. They're offered a discount now, but nowhere reflecting the true discount that I think they should be entitled to, given the types of claims they would expect to get in the event of an accident. Many retirees do not have an income loss in the event of an accident. The pension plan continues to pay. I had many come to me and say, "If I get involved in an accident, I don't have an income loss, so tell me, why am I paying for it?" I think that's a fair statement. We need to provide some flexibility so that the true loss retirees suffer as a result of an accident is reflected in the cost of the premium they're paying. It's not fair to lump them into the same category as regular income-earners, and so we suggest to the industry that they don't.

Many people, when they buy auto insurance, do it through their local broker. I say many, not all, because there are some who actually purchase directly from the insurance company. Now, in the day and age of electronic telecommunication, many are buying their auto insurance over the phone. I suspect some are actually buying it using the Internet. I've not heard of any situations, but I think that's actually possible.

It was clear to us that when one went through the broker network it was important for the consumer to know, when they received a quote and a price, how deeply they had probed the market competition for that particular price and that particular policy. We've suggested in our legislation that you have before you for consideration that the brokers be required to disclose who it is they write a policy for. It may be up on the wall or on the glass doors as they go in the door, but I think it's important that the consumer knows who the broker is representing in regard to auto insurance policy, and also who the broker received a price quote from, because I would suggest in many shops where there are numerous companies being represented, not all companies are providing price quotes. The consumer is entitled to know that information.

I want to conclude by saying clearly that what we've tried to do, as I've said earlier and I said in our second reading debate, was design a plan here that was a pro-consumer, pro-Ontario driver plan, something that provided the product stability, something that yes, indeed, provided rate stability, something that was affordable, something that was fair and balanced between the two systems and something Ontario drivers could rely upon for the protection of their own personal body, the people in the car, their income and the damages to the vehicle.

I'm encouraged by the support this plan has received from the industry so far. They have made some very positive statements in regard to potential price reductions where they see rates going forward. Most of the stakeholders, I would say almost all of the stakeholders, have committed -- and I think this is rather interesting for this particular auto insurance plan -- to try to make this thing work.

We've suggested such things as the setting of fee schedules between the industry and health practitioners. Both parties are prepared to come to grips with that and it wasn't clear to me that any of those words of encouragement, so to speak, were available under previous revisions. So I encourage all members of this House to support this legislation which I believe will work to the best interests of Ontario drivers, finally.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I'd like to take just the two minutes that I have for this so it won't eat into the hour and a half I have prepared for my opening remarks to comment to the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance with regard to the work of the committee.

I agree with him, of the committees that I've worked on in the two years or so that I've been in the Legislature, I think it was one where truly every member of the committee was trying to find the right solution to what has become a continually uncontrollable problem in the area of auto insurance. So I echo the parliamentary assistant's comments there.

I think the chairman, Mr Chudleigh, at the time was fair in the way he dealt with the issue, and at the end of the committee meetings I think we all felt that we had made a reasonable attempt at satisfying our concerns and listening to the concerns about auto insurance.

I would, though, since this is questions and comments, pose a question to the parliamentary assistant and perhaps he can just refresh my memory. When he refers to retiree discounts, I agree with him that many companies provide retiree discounts at the present time, but the parliamentary assistant suggested that maybe these discounts aren't enough. Perhaps he could help me and enlighten my understanding of it: Will there be specific discounts that companies will be required to give to retirees and, if so, what will those discounts be? I ask for his help in that area.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): The parliamentary assistant, the member for Mississauga West, however well-meaning and hardworking in putting together this package, suggests that it's about and for the consumer. I've listened to the debate and I actually even participated in one of the sessions where people came forward and presented to the committee, and I suggest to you that after having spent some significant time in this, it is not in fact about and for the consumer; it's in fact about and for the industry.

Another group that's going to make a lot of money in this at the end of the day will be lawyers.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Good for the fund-raisers.

Mr Martin: And certainly good for the fund-raisers; exactly. It'll be good for the lawyers because this moves the whole question of insurance away from no-fault, where people knew what they were paying for and, in the end, knew what they were getting. Now it will all be back in the courts, so those who can afford a good lawyer, those who have access to a good lawyer, will win.


What will happen ultimately, because of all of that, is that the industry will find a reason because there will be some very dramatic and high-profile law cases that will cost a lot of money. So the industry will base the increase in premium that will ultimately come on that, and in the end the little guy, the working person in Ontario, the person who needs his car to go to work and to live will end up paying more. We will be back dealing with this issue again at another time, hopefully with another government, re this legislation, and where the people of Ontario wanted this to work, in fact it isn't going to.

Mr Bradley: I certainly wish the parliamentary assistant well in this, but give the caution that many other governments have thought they've had a scheme which is going to make both the consumer and the person who is paying out the amount of money to the consumer when it is necessary to do so, happy.

We recognize, as the member I think has conceded, that it is difficult to provide adequate benefits, fair benefits and, at the same time, keep premiums at something that's an acceptable rate. You have tried to balance; I hope you're successful again in this one. I mentioned it previously for a couple of reasons: One is that in case there is a different government in later, that government won't have to wrestle with automobile insurance again because it seems that each new government has to wrestle with automobile insurance and I don't think any other governments would look forward to that. I hope on that point of view that you're successful.

I think people have to understand one basic thing: The payout to people who have claims is going to be a smaller payout in certain circumstances and that may be what you have to have to have lower premiums, because if you talk to the average person on the street, they're concerned about the level of premiums. Most of us don't think we're going to have to make a claim; we hope and pray that we don't have to make a claim to an insurance company, but sometimes it does happen.

Again, as I mentioned before, I hope it balances out, that you've allowed some tort, that this does balance out, that there can be some fairness as a result of that. But again, we may all be dreaming in Technicolor if we think it's going to work. I wish you well in that, and I know there's been considerable consultation. I'll chat about that a little later on.

The Deputy Speaker: Further comments or questions? The member has two minutes.

Mr Sampson: I continue to be encouraged by the words of support coming from various parts of this Legislature. I know that the purpose of our design was to try to get something that was going to be around for a while. I should tell the member for St Catharines that indeed I think with a bit of tinkering here and there as we go along, the next government will not have to reform auto insurance. But I don't want to encourage him too much because the next government will not be his nor will it be of the NDP, as he well knows, but we'll see that in four or five years.

With respect to the comments from my friend the member for Sault Ste Marie, I should tell him that -- I believe he said the poor working man would be disadvantaged or worse off by this plan, and I disagree with him. The not-at-fault and I think even the at-fault, but certainly the not-at-fault working man under this plan will now be able to sue for and recover from the at-fault victim's insurance company economic damages they have suffered as a result of the accident. They're clearly better off than the current format where they just get a costed dollar amount that does not represent their economic loss in any way whatsoever and that's it. I think that's blatantly unfair, so I believe the average person is better off.

In addition to that, the average person on this plan will be paying for the benefits that represent the type of claim that he or she will be making, not $1,000 net a week, which is the current maximum. That's something they would never suffer as an economic loss and that's something they shouldn't have to pay for.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Crozier: I'll attempt not to be adversarial about this. We seem to be in kind of a mellow mood this evening, so I think we simply want to make our points and get on with it. But I will say at the outset that a few of the comments just a minute ago about what's good for the consumer, will the consumer benefit more from it, will the consumer get more out of it, will the consumer be able to collect more from it -- you know, we can talk about economic loss and we can talk about non-economic loss and we can talk about structured settlements and we can talk about catastrophic impairment and income replacement, non-earner benefits, medical rehabilitation and attendant care benefits, optional benefits. We can talk about all those things, but what it boils down to is that the insured public in this province is tired of high insurance premiums. I suggest that unless they're in an accident, they couldn't care less about any of this. The overriding fact of all of this is that premiums have been skyrocketing and the motoring public wants to see lower auto insurance premiums.

Whether this plan will give them that, time will tell. The OMPP that was brought in in 1990 survived more or less until about 1993. The previous government made a disastrous change to that insurance plan that caused rates to increase at an outstanding rate. Part of the reason the industry is giving its support is that they say: "We have a bad plan. Bill 164 was a disaster and we want to get out of it, and in some cases we'll give reduced rates right off the bat," because they're only speculating. Perhaps they've even got reserves; maybe those companies have reserves built so high that they can afford to give this a year or so to work itself out. But one of the facts in this case is that I think they've bought into it and they're willing to do almost anything to get out of the current insurance regime.

We're going to get rid of 164. Is this new bill going to be any better? Time will tell. Perhaps if it comes in in the year 1996, by the year 1997 we may have an idea of whether it's working, and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance says, "We'll do some tinkering."

I've talked to some people in the insurance industry. Some are genuinely behind this, genuinely feel it's going to make a difference. I've talked to others who said: "We can't live with what we have now. We have to change it." It's interesting, but the same word, "tinkering," came up. I don't know whether tinkering will solve it or whether this may be absolutely perfect. All we do know is that the insured public out there is going to demand stable insurance rates, and we're told that "stable" auto insurance rates are going to be increases of about 4% a year. I don't know whether the public understands that, but they're going to increase in the neighbourhood of 4% a year. They're going to demand that this plan work, or it is going to find us with the same problem we had before.


It was suggested by Mr Sampson that we need only look around to see the medical treatment facilities that have sprung up around the province. I don't see where this bill is going to close those facilities. Yes, they're going to have to be a little more accountable, and there's going to be a fee structure down the road somewhere; I don't know when that's going to come or how effective it'll be. But I don't think those medical facilities are going to close. These rehabilitation centres are with us and are going to be with us for a long time.

What we have to ensure, and I don't think this bill addresses it, is that there aren't vested interests in these, that lawyers and doctors and maybe even insurance companies don't have an interest in these rehabilitation centres. The bill calls for disclosure. If your doctor's going to send you to a rehab centre, the doctor has to say, "Oh, by the way, I own part of that rehab centre." If it's my family doctor, if I can't trust my family doctor, who can I trust? Is that going to prevent me from going to that rehab centre? I don't know. But I do believe that vested interests should not own part of these rehab centres, because I think it opens up the possibility of abuse.

When it's suggested that brokers will have to provide to the insured the numbers of companies the broker receives a quote from before they recommend a particular one to write a policy, the parliamentary assistant suggested, "It might even be posted on the door." The problem there is that it might be posted on the back of the door. If we're going to have this as part of the legislation, that brokers have to disclose the companies from which they receive quotes, I think it's going to have to be part of the documentation of the policy so we can be sure the insured has full disclosure and that there's no chance they might not be aware that in some cases a broker maybe only has one or two companies from which they can receive a quote.

Part of the problem is that many brokers simply don't have very many companies to choose from. In fact, some brokers only have the Facility Association to choose from. If I'm an uninformed person looking for auto insurance and I go into the XYZ brokerage and that broker says to me, "Here's the price I have for you; it's with the Facility Association and that's the company I received a quote from," what does that mean to the uninformed? He or she may still interpret that as being the best price the broker could get. I think that has limited benefit to the insured to disclose this, although certainly it's a step in the right direction.

At this late date, it might be interesting to suggest that rather than companies being able to withdraw from brokerages because of experience rating, perhaps all companies licensed to insure in the province of Ontario should have to provide a quote to any licensed broker. Wouldn't that be interesting? I don't want to name them, but I can see a few friends of mine in the insurance industry right now who would be quaking at that kind of thought, because of course they want to write only the best business they can. It might not be known generally to the public that a broker can't write with just any insurance company, that many insurance companies simply withdraw the privileges of writing from a broker because their experience rating is bad, they've had too many accidents, they've written too many policyholders who have had too many claims. After all, the uninformed public just says: "Isn't that what insurance is all about? If I have an accident I should be able to make a claim. What difference does that make, whether the broker wrote me or another broker wrote me?" I only suggest that as a way to get some interest, and perhaps for some of those brokers who don't have very many companies that will insure them, it might then make them a little more competitive as well.

We've talked since February about auto insurance. I mentioned at the outset that we can go through all the parts of this plan that we have talked about, but the important thing above all to the insured is that they get value for money -- and this is in the insured's own mind -- that they have fair, stable and in fact reduced insurance.

I think too great a percentage of the insured drivers in the province don't understand all the intricacies of this plan. I suggest that many of us don't understand all the details in this insurance plan -- with perhaps one exception, but I don't see him here tonight, so he probably won't warn me that I'm uninformed. It would be quite an undertaking, but there should be a great effort made to educate the insured public so they know what they're receiving.

With that, it's probably all been said over the last few months. What it really comes down to, as I suggested at the outset, is that the public will decide -- this plan won't decide; the public will decide -- whether they're being treated fairly when it comes to benefits and the public will decide whether they're being treated fairly when it comes to premiums. Frankly, in this case I hope it all works out, because for too long the public has been held in confusion because successive governments have told them they had the solution to the auto insurance plan. I hope that to some extent we've moved toward that in this bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions? Further debate?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Very briefly -- I know this is third reading; our caucus articulated its position at some length on the occasion of second reading. I listened carefully to what Mr Sampson had to say during the course of his comments about this, and I should tell you, I appreciate that people have varying views about this. I for one am not concerned, concerned in terms of being frightened, about the return or restoration of tort for innocent victims. That's something that New Democrats have believed in for a long time. The 1987 submission to the Osborne commission authored by Bob Rae and Mel Swart indicated clearly that our position, as was developed in British Columbia by New Democrats there, was one wherein we believe that innocent victims should be fully entitled to a full replacement of their income and to compensation for all their injuries.

It is worthy of note, however, that insurance companies fall into that family of companies that are financial institutions, and financial institutions in this province and in this country are increasingly acquiring greater and greater power and demonstrating less and less regard for the consumer. Let me tell you this one: I got mugged earlier today. I did: mugged, as if my wallet had been picked out of my back pocket and every last nickel and dime plucked. Who was the perpetrator of the crime? It was the Toronto-Dominion Bank. As sleazy as they come, I tell you. Let me tell you how they do this. Let me tell you how they pulled this off. In this case, it was the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

I wanted to put a couple of hundred bucks on my GM Visa card over at the Toronto-Dominion Bank. So at lunchtime, I went down to a branch, not far from here, where I had had an account for a number of years. I simply wanted to pay off the Visa, and I did, and then I said to the teller, "I have an account here, and maybe I should put $5 or $10 dollars into it to reactivate it," because they get concerned if an account's been dormant, right? There wasn't a whole lot of money in it, maybe $300 or $350, as I recall.


Well, she searched the little computer scroll. The last time I took money out of it was five or six years ago. She scrolled it up and said, "Not only do you not have any money left, you owe us money." I said: "But how can that be? This is the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the TD Bank. How can that be? I entrusted my money to you, a small amount." From time to time, if I needed some cash, I would come and make a withdrawal. A couple of times I think I deposited money. I recall that I had received a letter some years ago indicating that the account was considered dormant and that I had to fill out a form and send it back in, and I did, and I haven't received any correspondence from them since. Talk about thievery, talk about being mugged. The Toronto-Dominion Bank had been, on a regular basis, it appears, pulling money out of my account under the guise of any number of so-called service charges to the point where now I owe them money for letting them have my money undisturbed for a lengthy period of time.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): What ever happened to the sock?

Mr Kormos: Talk about rotting my socks. That did rot my socks. I started to get a bit of a handle on how operators like the banks of this country are running rampant over little people, in this case the Toronto-Dominion Bank, for which I have even less use now than I did before. At the end of the day, a couple hundred bucks, fair enough. I would far sooner have given it to charity, to an organization that would have far more need of it than would the Toronto-Dominion Bank, thieves that they are.

That's where the billions of dollars in profits come from. You've got a little bank manager there who says, "Gee, I can show you a computer printout of the last transaction, but I can't access the record of how we've been trickling this money out of your bank account." I trusted them. I had confidence in them. A small amount of money, like so many people. How many people in tough times like this have more than a few hundred bucks in the bank? I trusted them with my money; I let them use it. Well, they took it. The banks are doing this, obviously, not only to me but to a whole lot of other people, little people. That's where the billions of dollars in profits are coming from. Mr O'Toole's sitting here with me right now and he's aghast that the Toronto-Dominion Bank would engage in this sort of skulduggery.

In the context of banks and financial institutions, because we are speaking to the insurance bill, what I want to speak to is the fact that the banks, thieves that they are, in this case the Toronto-Dominion Bank, so ready to empty my account without so much as a phone call or a letter -- do we really want them selling auto insurance now? Not likely. If I can't trust them with a couple of hundred bucks in a savings account, how can I trust them to sell me auto insurance and not rip me off, scam me, skulduggery me in that swinish way they did when it comes to my auto insurance?

I got ripped off by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, and I told the bank manager to watch the legislative channel some time this afternoon, because I knew I was going to be talking about financial institutions in the context of this auto insurance bill, the auto insurance industry being a part of that family of financial institutions. I didn't want to neglect to mention this robbery by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, in which I have no confidence whatsoever.

I'll tell you this: I'm lucky that I do most of my stuff with the Atlas and Civic Employees' Credit Union. I would say now to people out there who think the banks are gouging them, who think the banks are reaching deep into their pockets -- and in so far as the Toronto-Dominion Bank goes, be careful, my friends. If you've got any deposits in the Toronto-Dominion Bank -- and I don't think the deposit insurance is going to cover that. Somewhere in the fine print, at the end of the day, what they did was a legal theft. I'm, needless to say, more than a little bit distraught about the fact that a bank I had trusted could take my money without telling me and then, to boot, to add insult to injury, tell me that I owed them money. I owed them money for giving them my money. It really took me by surprise. I was aghast. The solution, of course, is credit unions and the credit union movement, and the folks at the Atlas and Civic Employees' Credit Union down on East Main Street in Welland I'm confident in and know I can trust not to rip me off the way the TD Bank has. That you can bank on.

Why I appreciate the credit union movement, among other things, is that they're far more trustworthy than banks are, especially, in my experience, the Toronto-Dominion. To boot, they're cooperatives; they're owned by the members. That's why, as you know, Speaker, I'm an advocate, as are my colleagues in the caucus, of -- just as credit unions are owned by the members -- an auto insurance system that's owned by the drivers of the province, a driver-owned public auto insurance system, like British Columbia's, like Manitoba's and Saskatchewan's, a system that works.

You always remark about -- and again, I complimented Mr Sampson far too much when I spoke to this on second reading, not because he didn't deserve it, but because he'll probably end up using it in one of his householders. But I do and I did express gratitude and I thank him once again for having allowed me to participate, and he was very candid during the course of these hearings, for having allowed me to speak with him in the first instance, when he was seeking input. What really bothers me, though, is the fact that the industry clearly doesn't have a handle on this.

I welcome the restoration of tort. That's basic. Tort is a very fundamental principle that says the wrongdoer should be responsible for the wrong that she or he does to somebody else. It goes back to Leviticus, Speaker. You're aware of that. It goes back that long.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I've heard this speech before.

Mr Kormos: Mr Stockwell says he heard this speech before. I'm glad he heard it before, because now he's going to hear it again. I welcome the restoration of tort. What boggles the mind, though, is that the insurance industry used to say to the government that it's tort that's causing the premium increases. You heard that too, didn't you, Mr Stockwell?

Mr Stockwell: We always knew it was flim-flam.

Mr Kormos: You were there. You heard the auto insurance industry when the Liberals were in government. You heard the auto insurance industry say: "Please, give us no-fault. Reduce tort, because it's tort that's generating the cost." Then, by God, if the Liberals didn't acquiesce, because we went through the list of contributors, donations come election time, and you should have seen the booty the Liberals raked in from the insurance industry. That Peterson government did their bidding, all right, and it introduced no-fault insurance, Bill 68. Then, believe it or not, the next government finished the job the Liberals began. They did. The next government reduced tort rights.

Mr Martin: But we didn't get the booty.

Mr Kormos: That's right; that's how naïve that was. Mr Martin points out they catered to the insurance industry without getting in any way, shape or form anything in return.

But now we've got the industry coming back and saying, "No, eliminate the no-fault and give us tort back, because you see, it's no-faults that are generating the cost." The industry itself has no idea what's happening within its industry. It has no idea. One thing about which we can be sure is that the next government will readdress auto insurance. The next government is going to be compelled to address auto insurance yet one more time, because we know that the premiums are going to continue to go up and up and up. We know that the auto insurance industry is going to continue to gouge and gouge and gouge. We know that this legislation, introduced by the Conservative government, has got all sorts of little kickers in it to make sure -- the dice are shaved. That's what it amounts to. The dice are shaved. You look at the little points here and there when you look at the reduction in no-fault benefits. Never mind the cap, please, Mr Sampson, because you know that isn't the real issue; you know that, you're smarter than that.


The real issue is that they've reduced the weekly benefit from 90% of net down to 80% of net. You don't talk a whole lot about that, do you my friend? You don't speak a whole lot about that.

You also know full well that you've shaved the points in favour, you shaved the dice in favour of the insurance companies by requiring them, on a claim where an innocent victim is entitled to compensation, by requiring them to pay in terms of economic loss only that amount that would be equal to the no-fault payments until such time as the matter is resolved or tried by a court.

That gives the insurance industry a strong edge, because you know what they can do? They can force earlier settlements by pointing out that the victim, the innocent victim, only gets 80% of his net income instead of his or her real income replacement until settlement or trial. They can point out to a victim: "We're going to hold you hostage. We've got a gun to your head." And they're going to force that victim to settle earlier and they also have the capacity, because the industry always has, to protract settlements until such time as -- even when they know that they're going to end up having liability determined against them, they know they can shave points. It's true. They can shave points by restricting it --

Mr Stockwell: So why don't you make it public?

Mr Kormos: Mr Stockwell asks why I didn't make it public. Trust me, I would have, and what a legacy --


Mr Kormos: All of a sudden, we've got all these people who were fans of public auto insurance. I'm pleased to see them return to the fold.

I know there are Conservatives sitting in this House who recognize the inevitability of public auto insurance, who recognize the inevitability of it because they're prepared, notwithstanding that they're Conservatives, to recognize that, what the heck, it was Vander Zalm's Social Credit in British Columbia who maintained the public auto insurance system there.

Now we have, of course, the blessing of the third New Democratic Party government in British Columbia, Glen Clark enjoying the legacy left to them by Dave Barrett back from early 1970s, the legacy of public auto insurance left by Tommy Douglas to Saskatchewan literally decades earlier.

At the end of the day, we're not going to see reduced premiums, Mr Sampson, you know that too. We're not going to see stabilized premiums. We're going to see premium increases that will carry on as they have in the past under no-fault regimes and before that under tort regimes. We're going to see premium increases that are going to gouge little people, working people, retirees, young people and students. We're going to see premium increases that are going to result in yet more and more uninsured motor vehicles on the road, notwithstanding the huge fines Mr Sampson proposes. But he doesn't understand: People drive without insurance, some because they simply want to take the law on, but most because they simply can't afford the insurance. They couldn't before; they're not going to be able to afford it any more so under this new regime.

The fact is, it ain't going to work. Mr Sampson in his heart knows that. Mr Sampson in his heart knows it. Mr Sampson is as suspicious about the potential for the success of this scheme as he was about Bill 164 and about Bill 68 before that.

I tell you, Speaker, if Mr Sampson is suspicious about the capacity of this legislation to succeed, I am too, because he's the one who spent a whole --


Mr Kormos: No, I understand. He's got to stand up in the House and say it's going to work. That's his job. He's the parliamentary assistant. He makes 78 grand a year plus another -- how much is it for a parliamentary assistant?

Interjection: Some $10,000 more.

Mr Kormos: Another 10 grand a year or so more plus some extra staff people here and there, and every once in a while, the minister may give him the American Express card, the corporate card, the one that goes to the ministry, and every once in a while, the minister might -- you know, a little of Bistro 990, maybe up to the Four Seasons and share some sharp digs there. Maybe Mr Sampson, when he responds, will come clean and tell us where the minister -- he's the parliamentary assistant --

Mr Sampson: Where do I eat? McDonald's. Burger King.

Mr Kormos: He says McDonald's. We know McDonald's doesn't take the American Express corporate card. Please, Mr Sampson, don't try that one.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): He's practising deception again.

Mr Stockwell: That's out of order.

Mr Kormos: I think something is out of order here, Speaker; that much I can tell you. There's probably a whole lot out of order here; that much I'm convinced of.

We're not going to be supporting this bill any more now on third reading than we were able to support it on second reading. It's bad legislation; it's knee-jerk legislation. It fails to do what the last two auto insurance bills similarly failed to do; it fails to rein in an industry that is beyond control. It simply is. We're no more likely to reduce premiums than the Toronto-Dominion Bank is to give me back the money it took from me out of my modest savings account here at their branch in Toronto.

Fairminded people are going to understand that this bill is just a little bit of a public relations exercise; nothing more, nothing less. We end up with the same victims -- both drivers and injured people -- as we've had historically. This bill is going to do what perhaps no other phenomenon could do, and that is finally convince people once and for all that public auto insurance here in the province of Ontario is the resolution to this crisis that the Tories have only compounded.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Sampson: It's always a pleasure to hear the member for Welland-Thorold speak on the subject of automobile insurance.

Mr Stockwell: Oh, cut it.

Mr Sampson: I say it was a pleasure because I didn't have to experience any of the other times he spoke on automobile insurance. It certainly is indeed a pleasure today because he spoke only for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 minutes, which is about one hundredth of the time he's spoken before.

The member suggested to me that I should be honoured that he was complimenting me on our work -- my work and the ministry's work -- on auto insurance reform and that I perhaps will use that in my householder. If the member takes a look at the election results of the NDP in Mississauga West last June, he can be well assured that I will not be using any support from the NDP in a local householder of mine.

The member speaks very eloquently about public auto and how he is firmly behind public auto, and I don't doubt that. I'm a bit concerned that the public auto concept has somehow all of a sudden reappeared as a platform of the NDP for now. But I should tell the member that I would be very cautious as a voter of this province about buying into a public auto plan that particular government would be prepared to run, because I don't know if I would have confidence in somebody who over five years spent $50 billion more than they had in the till and somebody who, as it relates to another public insurance system, workers' comp, has taken that thing to the ground and almost killed it.

Mr Bradley: I'm waiting to hear from the member for Etobicoke West as well. I wanted to probe further because I caught only a part of the speech by the member, much of it on television, and I wanted him to go through the chronology of the previous government.

I know the great commitment, first of all, of Mel Swart, our good friend who today is celebrating his 77 birthday. I think it is today; certainly it is this week. A fine gentleman he is. He is the individual who was the predecessor to the present member for Welland-Thorold.

I was interested in the chronology of the issue of public auto insurance previously, when the member was in the cabinet, or it may have been subsequent to that, because I know of his strong commitment to public auto insurance and how it was that did not come about. I know of the strong support of the member for Welland-Thorold and his party for public auto insurance and I know how difficult a decision it was for the government and the previous Premier, Mr Rae, to deal with an issue where it had been a major part of the platform and then it did not proceed. I'm wondering what arguments were marshalled at that time by the opponents of government auto insurance that would have prompted the New Democratic Party to abandon this part of the platform to which I know my friend from Welland-Thorold was very committed. I sat in the House for most of his 17-hour speech on the previous insurance bill, and while it wasn't always as charming as his usual speeches in the House, I wanted to hear what happened to that subsequently because of his strong commitment to auto insurance in the public venue.


Mr Marchese: I want to comment on the Liberal remarks. Only the Liberals vacillate ever so skilfully and perpetually from right to left, for as long as I can remember them, and they continue to do that, and God bless.

The member for Welland-Thorold made some important comments and made a good link between the insurance company and the banks and the fact that they're very powerful institutions, financial institutions that know how to gouge the public ever so skilfully as well. He talked about the banks; 90% of the money the banks control is our money and small business's money. They use our money, 90% of it, to lend outside of the country, to lend 15% to governments at high interest rates, using our money to give back to their own private investors, those investors who only put in approximately 10% of the money. It's an incredible thing that everybody should know about. That's why Mr Kormos, the member for Welland-Thorold, speaks about credit unions -- because they're democratically controlled institutions, controlled by the public. Banks, which control 90% of our money, are not democratic institutions and gouge the public -- the working Joe, the middle-class person -- day in and day out.

I have more faith in the predictions the member for Welland-Thorold makes about this bill when he says we will not see reductions as a result of this bill. It's a question of time that will prove it one way or the other, but I predict, like the member for Welland-Thorold, that the rates will not go down, in fact that they will go up, and the little guy, the middle-class person, the student, will continue to see rates skyrocket. Only a public plan will solve it, and I'm committed to that as well.

Mr Stockwell: The difficulty you have when Mr Kormos rises on this particular issue is that all three parties and all three governments have had a kick at this bill, and each time it's been brought forward Mr Kormos has found something violently wrong with it and the way it protects the consumers and the motoring public in Ontario. He found a great deal of difficulty with a Liberal piece of Legislation.

Mr Kormos: Oh, tell me about it.

Mr Stockwell: Well, he did and he spoke for a long time. He campaigned hard and his government got elected. He was there. The government got elected and it was going to run public auto insurance. He got in and, lo and behold, they introduced a bill and of course he had problems with that one. He said, "No, I can't support that," which I accept.

Now our government has come in and we've decided that we're going to try and fix this mess that's been left to us. We brought this bill in and Mr Kormos has a problem with that.

At the end of the day, the ultimate problem is, the concern that Mr Kormos has is that he wants public auto insurance; it's that simple. But the other problem he faced is that the general public doesn't. They don't want it because they know we run the WCB, the government runs the post office, the government runs all these programs and initiatives, and we do a damn poor job in all of them. The fear they have is, after looking at the BC model, just imagine if you put them in charge of running public auto insurance. This place would be broke within about three weeks.

The concern that you have, Mr Kormos from Welland, is not shared by the general public. If you ask the general public, they're saying no to public auto insurance. They said it so clearly, they shook your brothers and sisters in the socialist party to their boots, and they came clean and admitted, "We can't have public auto insurance either."

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold has two minutes.

Mr Kormos: By God, for a few minutes there I thought Mr Stockwell was starting to nod off a little bit, but something provoked him and got him on a roll. There you go: The member is alive and well.

The problem is that he doesn't want to reflect on the fact that subsequent governments in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, some governments, like that of Bill Vander Zalm, the Socred, with which ideologically -- well no. I suspect that Chris Stockwell, the member, would consider Bill Vander Zalm something of a red. Chris Stockwell is that far to the right. But even the Socreds in British Columbia, committed to privatization, as this government very much is, in the destruction of public institutions didn't dare touch public auto insurance.

Mr Stockwell is quite right about the chronology. He is. The Liberals tried to tinker with the product. It didn't address the issue of premium cost. The last government tinkered with the product. It didn't address the issue adequately of premium cost. This government is merely tinkering with the product. It's not going to address the issue of premium cost. We've gone full circle back to the form of insurance that was pre-Bill 68.

Mr Sampson: No, we haven't.

Mr Kormos: Yes, we have, Mr Sampson. We've gone back to the product that was pre-Bill 68. That's the product that was generating the double-digit premium increases, generating the crisis that caused David Peterson, in a knee-jerk reaction in the crisis of a scrum at the end of an election some time in September 1987 -- September 6, if I recall. He said, "We have a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums." Well, they didn't. He was scratching his head all the way back. It ain't gonna work. Trust me on that.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): That was a lively Tuesday night exchange between the members from Etobicoke and Welland.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): We try to put them on different nights for House duty, but it doesn't always work.

Mr Stockwell: Too bad you didn't do that at the convention.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. The member for Renfrew North has the floor and I would ask the honourable gentleman not to interject, the member for Etobicoke West in particular.

Mr Conway: I say to the last interjection from Etobicoke West -- I shouldn't do this, but I will -- that I watched the weekend convention and I wondered, who got more revenge? Peter Kormos or Elie Martel? Anyway, Bob Rae has gone on to other things.

I don't intend to rethrash the old straw of second reading. I do have some very strong feelings about the insurance question. I think the committee and the presumptive minister, the member for Mississauga West -- a lot of good work has been done by people of good intent. I remain sceptical. I don't mean that as a partisan observation. I think the member from Welland is right to point out the several efforts made over the course of the last number of years to fix the problem.

This bill has as its starting point, and as a big part of its raison d'être, the revocation of Bill 164. As part of that revocation, there will be a significant, dare I say a sharp, reduction of accident benefits, for all the reasons that have been given. The putative minister, the man who's got carriage of this bill, the member for Mississauga West, has taken some pains, both in the course of the second reading debate and elsewhere in the province, to talk about what for me is an attractive feature in this policy, Bill 59: the so-called customization of one's automobile insurance and related accoutrements. That I like, personally.


There is a restoration of tort. In the absence of our good friend from Willowdale, the minister of justice, let us celebrate on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Mr Stockwell: There are some Liberal lawyers.

Mr Conway: Let it be clearly stated, there are several Liberal lawyers who in the --

Mr Bradley: After auto insurance, I wasn't so sure.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: Someone once said of imperial Britain that she had no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, just permanent interests. I think that's wise counsel. Not to say anything nasty about my friends of the Ontario bar, I can think of one of my former colleagues now on the bench who made a good living out of tort business in automobile insurance cases.

Mr Bradley: Now His Honour.

Mr Conway: Now His Honour. The question of rates -- well, as politicians, surely we're all sensitive to the first-order importance of rates. The famous "I have a plan" commitment made nine years ago, as I recall it, grew out of a lot of heat about rates.

We are told that Bill 59 will cause a moderation and a reduction in rates. I was saying to the member for Durham East, who is sitting in the chair of the member for Nickel Belt, "Listen, as a consumer, I am not going to be happy with flat-lining, with moderation on rates." Hey, gang, I've been listening to the insurance industry; unlike the member from Welland, I am not here advocating public auto insurance, but I've listened carefully for the last couple of years, and the handwringing I've heard from the big insurers in Ontario about, "Oh, 164 is a nightmare; it's driving costs through the roof."

When they made those submissions to the committee on second reading -- I happened to be there on a couple of occasions when they were making the case. I thought it was a case with some merit. I don't denigrate or diminish the efficacy of that argument totally, but I remember it well: "These accident benefits are going to drive costs through the roof."

Interjection: And they did.

Mr Conway: And, it's been observed, they did. Fair enough. If that is the assessment of people more knowledgeable than myself, I will accept it.

Now, of course, we have an opportunity to see the converse. We are going to reduce substantially, with this policy, the accident benefits. We're going to go from $1,000 a week to $400 a week and a number of other reductions. I've got news for my friends, the big insurers, who, if they were to be credited three or four years ago, that it would be these overly generous accident benefits contained in Bill 164 that would be the primary cause of sharply increased costs -- now our friend from Mississauga West, on behalf of Her Majesty's provincial government of Ontario, has taken a sharp turn to reduce the accident benefits. I say to my friend from Mississauga West, now I expect some real action. If Zurich and Dominion and Economical think they can buy my contentment with a 5% or 10% reduction, they are going to be sadly disappointed. I repeat, the bill that is before the House tonight for third reading has as its principal ingredient a sharp reduction of accident benefits. That should surely mean a sharp reduction on the pressure that insurers have been feeling to maintain high rates and substantial premium increases.

Let me say to my friend George Cooke and others in the industry -- and the member for St Catharines was, dare I say it, being mischievous, if not worse, when he asked rhetorically of the member from Welland, "Help me to understand the reversal in policy that led to Bill 164 rather than that commitment that was made when Moses brought the tablets down from the mountain millennia ago, from the NDP, the democratic left in civilized society, about public auto insurance." If you haven't read that chapter in Mr Walkom's wonderful book, Rae Days -- I cited it here the other night. It's something like the "The Pink Ladies Storm the Pink Palace" or some title like that.

Mr Bradley: It's now in paperback, by the way.

Mr Conway: It's now in paperback. You must be doing well, Tom.


Mr Conway: Read the book, I say to my friend, who I know has the book. I'm sure Mr Bradley's read the book. There it was clear how the industry, working in concert with leading members of the then administration -- I look to the member from the Beach and her colleague from Algoma. There were very interesting, intricate arguments about how public auto insurance did not come to pass and we got Bill 164.

But I say to the industry leadership, don't think for a moment that holding the line on rates and a modest reduction is going to be adequate. I listened carefully to what you said was driving up the costs, and to its credit, or to its intermediate and long-term pain, the now government of Ontario is acceding to the major thrust of the industry a few years ago and accident benefits are being cut sharply.

Tort is back. That's the next argument: "Oh, well, now we've got to keep those reserves as large as they've ever been because the likes of Charlie Harnick and Peter Kormos and" -- who else is here? my friend Gerretsen -- "these able lawyers in the Legislature and elsewhere will take this bill to court and we'll find some judge who will agree to an expansion of the tort provisions," and on it goes.

I expect that there is going to be, because of the change in accident benefits, a clear reduction of the pressures to keep those rates and premiums as high as they've been. I'm going to watch very carefully, I say to the industry, because you've got most of what you said you wanted. Consumers are not going to be happy with just the status quo. I for one am going to expect that there will be some significant reductions as well as some creative customization plans worked out over the course of the coming months and years.

Mr Bradley: More than 6%.

Mr Conway: Oh, 6% I would consider just an introductory offer. I can say that more easily than others because -- for the class of 1995, you weren't here to hear the plaintive cries of the industry in 1991-92. You've got to say one thing for Rob Sampson: He listened to the industry, and they are getting much of what they wanted, much of what they said was driving costs up and keeping premiums at such levels.

Mr Bradley: Wouldn't you like to be at the fund-raiser in Mississauga West?

Mr Conway: I'm not going to indulge in that kind of -- here it is, chapter 5 from the Walkom book, "Revenge of the Pink Ladies." It's quite a chapter.

I want to say a couple of other things that I think need to be said again about automobile insurance. First of all, it's stating the obvious, but it's mandatory. Any time you make a commodity or a service mandatory, you naturally distort the marketplace, and I think it's unavoidable. I said on the second reading debate that I believe in a market economy, recognizing that it's not perfect and that there are significant oversights and regulatory functions that must be there to keep the market operating responsibly. But we mandate that if you are going to drive a motor vehicle in Ontario, you must, by law, have automobile insurance, and progress has been made over the years to deal with some bad behaviour in the bad old days when people could avoid coverage and many people drove with either no or little insurance and we had that unsatisfied judgement account that you will recall.


But we require by law that automobile insurance be mandatory. We make it mandatory. All of us have to remember that. I've got a lot of sympathy for our friend the Minister of Transportation when he says he's going to crack down, in a companion piece of legislation, on some of the miscreant behaviour that's been reported about people driving without insurance.

Obviously, as a member of the Legislature, I want the laws of the land applied and abided by, but I've got to tell you, it galls me to on the one hand mandate this kind of service and then allow some of these insurance companies -- and I emphasize "some," because there are a lot of good people in this industry and there are some very good big players, in my estimation. But we have in insurance in Canada, operating in Ontario, some bad people in insurance, people who've behaved outrageously in the last number of years. They have treated people just wretchedly, and they've gotten away with this kind of behaviour because, among other things, it is the law.

One of my main difficulties with Bill 59 is that I do not see in this policy sufficient protection for the consumer. Yes, I know what the lawyers think. I know what the insurers think. I even know what the brokers think. What does the public think? What does the public know? My experience is that a lot of us -- and I know, "Let the buyer beware," that caveat emptor injunction, is a wise and good one, but I'm telling you, most reasonable people in this province and country would not in their most wild imaginings conceive that anybody would behave the way some of these insurers have behaved in recent times.

The Facility, the Farm, the "Bad Persons Club" -- I understand what it is and why it's there. But I repeat what I said on second reading. It is disgraceful and despicable the way some people in the industry have treated good people in so far as the Farm is concerned. The member for Mississauga West knows whereof I speak in this respect. There would have been -- I'm surprised there hasn't been -- a citizens' uprising on the basis of the behaviour of some of those companies in putting --

Ms Lankin: There is in Ottawa.

Mr Conway: The member from Beaches is right. There has been something of an uprising in Ottawa, Mr Speaker, which you would know from reading the columns of Dave Brown, Brown's Beat, in the Ottawa Citizen. I understand that Mr Brown, like all of us, probably has not got the whole story. I know from my own personal experience and I know from listening to people that there's usually more to the story than you get. But I know this: There are far too many good, law-abiding, well-behaving people who have been thrown into the Farm, into the Facility, for no good reason because of that outrageous internal four-point scheme that the industry developed because they didn't like Bill 164 and they were going to take it out on a whole bunch of unsuspecting customers.

I say to the industry, at least to those in the industry who have been misbehaving around issues like the Facility, that behaviour had better stop. That kind of Star Chamber that has so abused so many good people is unacceptable and intolerable. We have an added duty, it seems to me, as members of the Legislature and as member of the executive council around a service that we legislate to be mandatory.

If it were optional and people had some choice, I perhaps would have a different tone on this. But on this matter, we make it the law -- no choice; you must have this insurance. I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but I've met people in my part of Ontario who have been so shabbily treated, ending up paying $5,000, $6,000 and $7,000 worth of additional premium over two or three years, people who are earning $22,000 or $25,000 and who in my part of the province don't have the TTC, don't have OC Transpo, don't have Via Rail. They've got a half-ton truck, their only way of going to work, and some jerk in some Toronto- or Montreal- or Winnipeg-based insurance company decides, because of a couple of incidental incidents that don't add up to too bloody much and for which that individual probably has little or no responsibility, in this Star Chamber called the Farm or the Facility, they suddenly find they've now got to cough up an additional $1,500 in premium revenue for each of the next three or four years.

Mr Bradley: Shocking.

Mr Conway: It is shocking.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Stop speeding.

Mr Conway: It has nothing to do with speeding at all. I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about those people -- listen, I'm no saint. I am not here to -- I've been guilty of my misconduct and I don't expect any insurer or anybody else to bail me out of my own self-inflicted wounds. That's a kind of a mixed metaphor, I must be getting -- but this is no laughing matter. I'm not kidding. I am not kidding. I am surprised that some of the cases that I have seen and have verified -- it is scandalous. I just can't believe there is anybody in this so-called free market who thinks you can treat people like this in 1996 and get away with it.

Mr Bradley: I read about it in the Ottawa Citizen.

Mr Conway: Well, I'm not going to rethrash that, as I said a moment ago.

Mr Stockwell: Why don't you get him an eyepatch and sit on his shoulder?

Mr Conway: Listen, what is it that Shakespearean scholars tell us, that in Shakespeare it is the fool who tells the essential truth?

I want to add a couple of points quickly. Another area where again good free enterprise capitalists, the brokers -- I forget who it was, but earlier in the debate, somebody talked a bit about brokers.

Mr Bradley: Frank, defend yourself.

Mr Conway: No, I think actually it was the putative minister.

Mr Sampson: I'm not puny at all.

Mr Conway: It's not puny, it's putative. God, I would not call you, I hope, puny.

Mr Bradley: I want Frank Sheehan to defend himself.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: Again, I talk to these brokers in my community, in my area of eastern Ontario, and to be fair, they're not unanimous on this, but a surprising number of them have been telling me quietly the way the big boys particularly, the big insurers, have been treating those brokers in the last few years. Oh, and none of it ever announced. It's like Toronto humidity, much more easily felt than seen. No, no, there is no memo, there is no letter, it's just: "You know what, Bradley? You'd better just clean up your act. We don't like your" -- you know, you're complaining a little bit on behalf of Customer Lankin or Customer Boushy or whomever. "We just don't really like these complaints and you either better just smarten up or it's cutoff time."

For those of us who believe in a free market, that kind of behaviour, which I can understand, is not very acceptable either -- again, around a product that we mandate. I'm not here arguing for public auto insurance. I like the fact that I've got brokers in my community who supply this service and this product. I just assume that they're operating in an environment where they're not going to be faced with that kind of thuggery, that kind of threat, which is real, on the basis of what many of them are telling me -- not all of them, to be fair. I want to say to the government that it's very difficult, I know, to deal with that, but if that is the experience of people, then I think we're going to have to at least think about how we're going to contend with it.

Let me just say that I went to the insurance bureau here a few weeks ago. I was so mad about some of what I was hearing and finding, I went to the insurance bureau, and I must say to Stan Griffin and company, they were excellent, they were cordial, they were helpful. I was even more angry when I left because of what they told me. They gave me some very interesting and useful information. I've been canvassing a whole bunch of people in the last month to find out -- and I didn't bring the material that I waved around here --

Mr Spina: Did he vote for you for leader?

Mr Conway: That has nothing to do with that, I say to the member from Brampton. It has to do with how do we make this market work. One of the very real pressures that will make the market perform more efficiently is public information. I'm down at the insurance bureau and they're telling me, among other things, they've got this wonderful chart that rates all of the vehicles. I'm again repeating myself and you're not supposed to do that on third reading. If I live in Bancroft, or if I'm up in Madoc, I want to know about that information before I go in to buy a car or a vehicle. It is guaranteed that there is nobody in the car business who's going to want to show me that list, because it is a very clear indication that if you buy -- and I wish I had it, and I'd better not start to try to remember it, but I'll tell you, those sports cars, how much is the premium on the premium? Wow. Jeep Cherokee is one I remember -- and I understand. We all know, apparently, it's the thieves' first choice.


Mr Sampson: Mustangs.

Mr Conway: I thought Mustang was on the list. Thank you, I say to the member from Mississauga. My constituents --

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): George really appreciates the comments.

Mr Conway: Listen, I'm here talking about consumers. I say to the insurance bureau and to the member for Mississauga West, what are we doing to put that information in the hands of consumers? Are the lawyers happy? Yes. Are the doctors happy? Well, maybe not as happy as they might have been, but you know, those DACs -- talk about conflicts of interest. I'm told: "Don't worry. It's going to get better." I'm from Missouri. I can't believe what some of these birds have been up to with DACs in the last couple of years, but I am prepared to give my friend the benefit of the doubt.

Mr Bradley: What are DACs?

Mr Conway: Designated assessment centres. Again, deal with some flagrant conflicts of interest that just spawn everywhere in this mandated service. But back to information. "This is very interesting," I say to the IBC, the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "How does Mr or Mrs Consumer find out this?" "Oh, well, you know, we've printed up some" -- that's interesting. I buy a new North American-made vehicle every year. I have yet to have a car dealer --

Ms Lankin: Every year?

Mr Conway: When you live in a car, you basically buy a new one every year, if you're as mechanically inept as I am. My point is, I don't expect a car dealer to give me that list.

Mr Sampson: They will if you ask.

Mr Conway: I didn't even know the thing existed. So I guess what I'm saying is I want there to be -- Mr Speaker, you, a man who knows financial services far better than I -- I want there to be far more in this policy than there appears to be to empower the consumer with relevant and useful information. You know, we've got an ombudsman. Whoop-de-do. We've got an insurance ombudsman. I can just see the gang at Zurich saying: "Oh, God, we just better really mind our Ps and Qs. There's an ombudsman down there some place in the bowels of Queen's Park." We've got a multimillion dollar Ombudsman's operation at the -- is it still up at the Massey building at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road? Is it?

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): Next to Club Monaco.

Mr Conway: Wherever. I mean, now that is, despite what we've been told in recent weeks, a relatively significant operation, so I can just imagine under moonlight the plutocrats of the big insurance industry out worried about this ombudsman that's just -- well, give me a break. Give me a break.

Again, when I hear from brokers, they're telling me the kind of elbows -- it's like going into the corner with Gordie Howe. Consumers won't know that. I did have a bad experience. I go and I actually raise this with the IBC. You know what they tell me? "Who's your company?" I tell them who the company is and they said, "Oh, well, they're not very good these days." I said, "Thank you very much." How the hell am I supposed to know -- sorry, how the heck am I supposed to know that? I'm paid 78 grand to know these things, and I didn't know that.


Mr Conway: Listen, it's not a laughing matter. Some of it would be comical if it weren't so expensive, if it weren't mandatory and if it weren't so bloody important.

Mr Spina: If you turn your mike off we'll still hear you.

Mr Conway: I want to be heard on this subject.

The Acting Speaker: Please address the Chair.

Mr Conway: There's another question, I say in response -- and the minister of justice is not here. My own personal experience in recent months with the old order is to take nothing for granted; litigate every bloody thing going. If you have any kind of an incident, just litigate, challenge, go to court. Don't take anybody's word for anything, because you will be --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Hurt.

Mr Conway: Hurt. Not the word I want to use, but I have to be careful. I don't want to see the court system clogged up with minor traffic violations, but I would tell people that under the old four-point plan -- and this is, again, what people don't know -- no matter how minor, no matter how trivial, you cannot let it pass; you've got to get to court and you've got to fight and you've got to contest. You might have to pay Charlie Harnick a thousand bucks to represent you in court, but better that than end up with a $5,000 --

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): You'll have to pay more than a thousand bucks for Charlie.

Mr Conway: Perhaps I understate his tariff, but you'll end up with a far heavier penalty. As I look across at my friend from Hastings, the people we represent live in trucks and cars. To take away their right to drive or to make it prohibitively expensive, particularly for no good reason, or to create an environment where you almost invite people to break the law and drive without insurance, is not a very happy state of affairs.

In conclusion, while I respect the good work that's been done by a lot of people, I am not convinced that there is adequate protection for the consumer in this package. We need to do more as a government and as a Legislature to make the consumer aware of what his or her real choices are, of what the real options are. We can't leave it to people who have got an obvious vested interest not to disseminate the information. It is obviously not practical to expect an umbrella organization like the Insurance Bureau of Canada to disseminate the information.

I'm not exactly sure what the right mechanism is, but it is with some disappointment that I say that while Bill 59 addresses some concerns positively, I remain unpersuaded on the basis that the consumer is still left out there in a sea of confusion and without the kind of instruments and protections he or she is going to need to do battle with big business in the form of insurance companies, doctors and lawyers and some of the other most specialized and powerful interests in our community and in the economy.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I'd like to say a few words in reply to the address by the member for Renfrew North. I've been involved in the insurance business since 1963. As a matter of fact, I've been in it so long that I remember when we made the decision to make insurance compulsory. That was at a time when we had less than 3% of the drivers in Ontario uninsured. We copied New York, which had between 15% and 17% uninsured even though it was compulsory. My big point is that we're taking a great step forward and we should compliment the parliamentary assistant from Mississauga, whose capable leadership has brought it this far.

Indeed, if I had to make a recommendation, it would be that we should make insurance the same as buying a car, and that is that the marketplace would determine it. We shouldn't have it compulsory but we should have an alternative to that and the insurance industry should compete the same as where you might buy your bread up in Pembroke or something like that. It would seem to me that we don't regulate the price of bread in the store and that we shouldn't regulate the price of insurance. We don't regulate it under this bill directly, but we're putting in so many rules and regulations that in effect that's what it is.

I want to compliment the member for Renfrew North on his speech. I don't agree with it all. As a matter of fact, I thought I heard him say that as a lawyer without a conflict he should recommend that everybody go to court, but I'm sure I didn't hear that either.


Mr Stockwell: The previous speaker pretty much summed up our position, but I'd like to elaborate. There is concern with any piece of legislation you pass. The member for Renfrew North brings it forward and he's probably fairly accurate. Ultimately, at the end of the day we're here to represent the constituents and the taxpaying public and those people who have to go out and buy insurance because, as he stated so clearly, there is no option. You must have insurance if you're going to drive your car.

The goal of any piece of legislation is to protect the consumers of the province of Ontario. There have been many attempts at this particular piece of legislation that have left something to be desired. I understand about this particular issue that it's one of those where I don't think you're ever going to please all the people involved. The players are too diverse; their issues are too separate. Clearly where we have to line up is on the side of the consumer, the taxpaying public. If you believe in public auto insurance, then you can just do that. If you believe in the private sector, then you've got to strike a balance. To me, this is a balance.

We must be vigilant to ensure that the driving public is aware of the rights, the ramifications and the parameters involved in buying insurance. I have no doubt that there are some extremely unsavoury sorts in the insurance industry in this province, as there are in any other industry we happen to regulate. It's up to us as a government -- it's incumbent -- to inform those people of their choice and deal very directly with the insurance companies. I don't have any concerns or compunction after passing this bill to go directly to them and tell them specifically, "In certain instances, you've got to clean up your act." You've got to call them into this place and unilaterally deliver that message. As many times as the member from Renfrew can tell me about the concerns he's had, I've got the same concerns in my constituency.

I really hope this works. Given an opportunity, it will work. But not just the teeth of the legislation; we've got to be vigilant in following it up.

Mr Bradley: I enjoyed the member's speech very much. He covered a lot of territory that would be valuable for the people of Ontario were they watching this evening. One of the revelations he made that perhaps would not be a surprise to all the insurance men in this governing party, or those who have any expertise in it, or perhaps those in the motor vehicle business, was that he indicated that there's a rating for various cars. What that rating is based on I'm not quite sure; it seemed to be whether they were cars that are most likely to be stolen or cars that are most likely to be involved in an accident. Whatever it is, having information for consumers is always valuable.

I too believe that kind of information should be available to the public and not kept somewhere behind closed doors away from the consumers, so that when a person is making a purchase of a vehicle, that person can determine, among other reasons for making a purchase, just what the situation would be in terms of insurance. The member has been wise as well in pointing out some of the potential pitfalls of this legislation just so the government doesn't feel that perhaps it is going to avoid those pitfalls.

I listened to the member for Mississauga West earlier, who made the pronouncement -- always a dangerous one, I've found -- that we in the Liberal Party and the NDP would not have to worry about being a subsequent government because we wouldn't be. Boy, do those words come back to haunt you so often. I remember after the March 19 election Mr Davis used to talk about the realities of March 19; that was 1981. As government changed hands in 1985, I thought, boy, those words came back to haunt him.

Mr Wildman: I want to compliment my colleague the member for Renfrew North on his remarks. I always enjoy listening to his perspective as he puts forward his views, particularly as they relate to this piece of legislation, because as has been said by a number of members, there have been a number of attempts over the years to deal with what is an essential commodity that most people in the province must have. All of us know of very difficult circumstances that have faced people who in many cases have been involved in automobile accidents that were not matter-of-fact but led, over a period of years, to significant costs in premium increases, no matter what system we've had in the province.

Some of you will know that in my personal experience it was a very serious situation in my family. The insurance company in that instance was very helpful and responded very quickly to the needs in my family. We appreciated it at the time, as difficult as the situation was. But I know, and this is not a criticism in any way of any of the people involved, that I am still paying, and will pay for many years ahead of now, for the assistance we received when we needed it. It's a very difficult problem.

I think we are going to be, within a year or two, perhaps a little longer, back in this Legislature debating how we should deal with auto insurance. That's not a criticism of what the member has brought forward. I think he's made every effort to respond to the needs of the public in relation to the program of his government. I don't think we have seen the last of this issue.

The Acting Speaker: The time has expired. The member for Renfrew North, you have two minutes.

Mr Conway: I want to thank my colleagues for their very kind words. I want to say to the member for Perth that while I very much enjoyed his observations, I want there to be no confusion. If I left the impression that I'm a member of the bar or a lawyer, I am not. I am not up to that standard. I want to clarify that.

I want to say to the member for Etobicoke West, I want this to work as well because the member for Algoma, who just sat down, is right: We've been through this mill. We've all had our fingers and our posteriors burnt in the politics of insurance. I want it to work. But we are dealing with a proposition today that makes it possible for insurance companies to make a potful of money. I am not convinced that on the basis of some of the behaviours I've seen, particularly from big insurance companies in the last three or four years, that they can be trusted to do the right and good thing.

If my broker friends are to be believed, if Dave Brown is 10% right in the Ottawa Citizen, then we'd better be very vigilant. I go to the insurance bureau and say: "You know, you're right. We've got to do something here. We need a better consumer something or other." Do we need some kind of a hell-raiser like Ralph Nader to come up here? Maybe that's what we should get. We should get Chris Stockwell or somebody like him to get situated someplace and hounddog the heck out of these people who are disposed to be bad. Get the big spotlight of public scrutiny shining regularly on their most egregious misconduct. That's much more likely to work than some elaborate government regulatory framework.

It is important. It is mandatory. It touches everyone in the province. Whether you're a farmer in Beachburg, a retail worker in Pembroke or a logger in Barry's Bay in my area, few things we deal with are more important than automobile insurance. I want it to work, they want it to work, but I'm not sure the consumer is still adequately informed or protected in this policy.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: The member for Beaches-Woodbine throws her hands in the air for some reason as I rise. I would like, rather than being here this evening, if I had the opportunity, to be at the special night honouring Douglas J. (Ozzie) Hill, who is being honoured tonight in St Catharines for his many years of service in the field of minor sports, but I am in the Legislature and I'm sure that my constituents would want me to address the issue of automobile insurance, which has plagued so many of them over the years.

First of all, the mention of the horror stories related to premiums is something to behold. I think all of us here have had probably young people mostly -- and I don't mean young reckless drivers but people who happen to be young of age -- who have found it very expensive to afford automobile insurance. In many cases their employment depends upon their ability to drive and their ability to have appropriate insurance when they are driving. So when the government endeavours to address the issue of premiums, it is zeroing in on something that we all consider to be of great importance.

But also there are those who travel frequently. I think of travelling salespeople who must go from village to village or town to town or city to city who have to pay extremely high premiums, often because the chances of those individuals being caught in violation of the traffic act of Ontario are greater than they are for people who don't drive very frequently. They may well be quite responsible drivers, but from time to time, for instance, may exceed the provincial speed limit on one of the highways when the conditions are favourable to driving, when there appears to be not much traffic on the highway and, in their opinion, it appears to be safe to do so. So those people end up paying higher premiums than they might otherwise have to pay.


Then there are people who are placed in the Facility or in the category where they have to pay extremely high premiums because regular insurance companies do not want to cover them for anything other than a huge premium increase. As the member for Renfrew North has appropriately pointed out, what happens is, many people get into the Facility not even knowing why because they're not aware of or haven't been informed of the internal evaluation program of insurance companies as it relates to drivers; that is, how many violations a person happens to have.

While we want to ensure that everybody drives as safely as possible in the province, and we want to get the really bad drivers off the road, I go back to the point that those who have to travel frequently, some of the members of the Legislature from distant places who travel to Toronto, for instance, have to drive more frequently and more miles and for that reason are more inclined to be caught in violation of one of the provincial statutes as it relates to the rules of our highway. That unfairness, the member for Mississauga West, the parliamentary assistant, tells the House, will be addressed by this particular bill. I will wait to see if that is true.

One of the areas where we can see a reduction taking place is the area of fraud. I think where insurance companies have a legitimate complaint and where we can bring down the cost of the insurance premium is if we were to lower the risk of fraud. What happens and what people have to recognize is that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and those who worship the idol of deregulation in this province and downsizing must recognize that the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is going to have fewer people to investigate fraud of this kind and fewer ghost cars, as they're called, to find out who is in violation of the system.

Most of our people who are involved in the automotive repair business are honest and dedicated individuals who would never think of defrauding insurance companies or individuals. But there may be the odd exception out there of people in that business and we have to make sure that that odd exception is looked after.

Mr Stockwell: Oh, you mean chop shops.

Mr Bradley: I'm getting interventions from the far side. The Speaker will call you to order, no doubt.

I remember the Honourable Frank Drea talking proudly of this. The former Conservative Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, a man of interesting character in this House and a very combative individual, I might say, said on one occasion that the ghost cars would look after those who would defraud the insurance business, insurance companies and cause premiums to rise. What would happen was a vehicle that was damaged would go into a shop that was advertising it looked after these damages and would fix it up. The ghost car of course was in fact an investigator's car and they would determine whether there was any fraud taking place, for instance, whether the first question would be, "Is your insurance company covering this or are you paying it out of your own pocket?"

So when we can overcome those problems, and we can do so only if we have an extensive fleet of fraud cars, or of ghost cars rather, in this province, until we have that regime in place again, we're going to see fraud continue and therefore the cost of premiums rise.

In addition to this, the member for Renfrew North has mentioned certain practices that took place in the medical field in certain establishments that also made the cost go up considerably for the insurance companies. That's where those insurance companies have a legitimate beef: in the field of fraud.

We, as legislators, particularly those of us who believe in regulations when regulations are needed and appropriate staff available in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations investigations branch, believe that in fact government does have a significant role to play to protect the consumer, and I think the insurance companies would agree with that.

One of the problems I see with this piece of legislation that is going to be true for all of the Conservative members is a very serious problem. No longer will you be able to have your fund-raisers in those small halls any more. You're now going to have to rent larger halls and you're going to have to have larger bags for the money that you'll be taking out of the fund-raisers because not only will you have --

Mr Stockwell: Oh, such a problem.

Mr Bradley: The member for Mississauga West suggests, "Such a problem." Not only will you have the lawyers lined up at the door now that you've let them back in the door of insurance with your changes to tort, and that's one group who will be coming to your fund-raisers, but second, you will have the insurance people coming in large numbers because you have satisfied their demands that you lower the payouts to their customers when there is a claim made. So there's a second group that's going to be coming to the fund-raisers. The consumers will not be coming to the fund-raisers unless they were to get the kind of reduction in premiums that could take into account the dramatic increases they've seen in recent years.

Is there anybody else who'll be coming to the fund-raisers? I'm trying to think of some --


Mr Bradley: Oh, yes, I can understand others. There will be simply the cheerleaders from business at large who think that you've made another step which favours in business over consumers.

Mr Stockwell: All the guys there used to be Liberals.

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

Mr Bradley: I can never hear some of the interjections that come from members. Particularly when the members aren't sitting in their own seats, I find it more difficult than other times.

So I want to sympathize with the problem you're going to have with your fund-raisers. The lineup is going to be a little long. You're going to have to find extra parking and larger halls and more money bags to do this, and that's going to be a real challenge for members of the Reform-Conservative party who sit in the seats of government today.

I think people have to know that their accident benefits have been lowered. Maybe they'll accept that because, as I mentioned in a two-minute response to another member, it's very difficult to have. It's only a magician who can produce this. Perhaps Paul Rhodes, whom I call the magician, would be the person who could produce this, and that is a situation where you have low premiums and you have a significant benefit that's paid out to those who make a claim.

I think, as my colleague for Renfrew North does, that the consumer should have as much knowledge of the product as possible and the premium choices as possible. In the best of all worlds, competition works. In the best of all worlds, the free market should work to produce the best product and the best price. That is the theory. It doesn't always happen that way, and the experience has been described by the previous speaker in his discussions with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and some of the companies they don't consider are great actors. He did not indicate which they were, but that's an indication clearly that there is still a problem out there in regard to the payouts and to the premiums and to those who have excessive premiums to pay.

I think the government also has a role to play in terms of safety. One of the moves that is made in a previous bill -- I commended it earlier today -- is to increase the fines for those who are in violation of the traffic act as it relates to trucks. There were other provisions of that bill as well. I think that kind of legislation helps to keep the price down, and we need not less but more of that.

So when I hear people say we need less legislation, less regulation, government out of your face, I have to say that the legislation passed this afternoon by the government in fact suggests more legislation, more regulation and more in-your-face activity on the part of the government, all of it justified in that particular case.

I also want to talk about the fact that insurance is compulsory. The member for Perth indicated again, I guess in the best of all worlds, we could have a situation where there wasn't a compulsory package but that people could purchase the kind of product they needed by paying more than the premium or less than the premium. There's some of that in there. I really wonder if there's ever going to be an alternative to compulsory insurance. But if you have compulsory insurance, as we do, if you have it mandatory, that means there has to be rules and regulations governing the product produced, that being the payout, and the premiums that are charged. With enough competition you always hope that the premiums are going to be lower, but perhaps they will not.


The other aspect that I want to look at will be the aspect of going to court. The member for Renfrew North was more serious than not when he said that we're going to see a situation where the courts are going to be quite clogged with people who are going to exercise the option to take traffic violation tickets to court. In fact, you're hearing advertising on the radio and television and newspapers now of paralegals and ex-lawyers and so on, people with some expertise. In our area, there's an individual who is an ex-justice of the peace who's in this business. They're going to encourage people to go to court because it's going to pay people to go to court if they could have a violation removed for some reason. In other words, they win the case in court or they could have the penalty reduced perhaps from a violation that calls for four points to a violation that would call for two points; all of this because they want to meet the requirements necessary to keep them out of the Facility or to keep their premiums lower than they might otherwise be.

Mr Harnick, the minister of justice in the province, known as the Attorney General, is already finding a problem with the courts, such a problem that he has indicated he will not be prosecuting on a priority, he and his prosecutors -- and there are fewer of them now around because they've laid off a number of prosecutors in the province -- but the prosecutors will not be going after people, for instance, breaking into houses or other minor violations unless they feel they have an ironclad case.

When you allow that to happen, that's where often the crime begins, and the crime escalates after that. When a person's involved in petty crime, that person often escalates to another crime. The point I'm making is, the minister's already concerned about how clogged the courts are, so concerned that he is going to look the other way, he and his prosecutors, at a number of crimes that some of us consider to be quite serious and he's going to have to do so even more or hire more prosecutors and more judges, because more people are going to be going to court, if indeed they're going to be forced into Facility by virtue of having violated certain relatively minor traffic act provisions. So that's something we have to take into consideration when we're looking at the total problem of justice in Ontario.

The member for Etobicoke West, as he often does, had a good suggestion about companies coming before perhaps a legislative committee, being, he said, called down to Queen's Park to justify certain of their practices. One of the problems I find with this Legislature -- and I don't look at the American system as superior to ours in very many ways; I think ours is superior to theirs. But one way the American system is better is the power of the congressional and legislative committees. You have Senate committees, you have committees of the House of Representatives and then at the state level you have the state legislatures. I guess most states have a state Senate as well. They have committees that actually have some power. When insurance executives, for instance, or others get summoned to those committees, that's a serious matter. The committees are well-staffed, the members of the committee have some prestige and some power and as a result, they're taken seriously.

I don't know whether there's a difference in the partisanship; that probably doesn't matter as much. What does matter is that the committee has some clout. When the member for Etobicoke West suggests that this may be a venue, I think he saw that as a venue, a legislative committee -- we used to have one on company law at one time, a select committee on company law -- that the insurance executives could be brought in, if indeed we felt that they were being bad actors, and questioned by members of the legislative committee, called to account and asked to answer for what committee members might feel are some indiscretions.

Some in the insurance industry would welcome that opportunity because they could place their arguments and their side before members of the committee. So when the Legislative Assembly committee is looking at many items, instead of trying to penalize the member for Etobicoke West when he's ejected from the Legislature with a fine or worse punishment, perhaps a better option would be, "How can we make the legislative committees more powerful and more meaningful?" Particularly for government members who are not members of the cabinet, this would give them an even more significant role to play in this House, and the opposition members as well. Some -- who knows? -- at the end of the summer may have a more significant role to play. One never knows when these changes are made by the Premier. But I think all members should have that opportunity through the venue of a legislative committee to have some input into these matters.

We have before us this evening in third reading an opportunity to put a few things on record, to express hope again, because hope is what we need in this matter, hope that you will be successful in this. I had today again and yesterday individuals calling my constituency office asking, "When are we going to see these rate decreases?" I said, "Well, I've seen some of them announced already," it was said as a result of this legislation. There was a press conference called immediately after -- governments usually orchestrate these when they've done something that has been favourable to an insurance company or anybody else -- and we heard some of the announcements.

Unfortunately, if you've had a 40% or 50% increase in your premiums over the last few years and someone comes and says that they're going to reduce it by 6%, that somehow does not compute, because if the reason for the increase was the infamous Bill 164 of the previous government, to which so many people make reference, then why would we not see dramatic decreases in the premiums? There must be a good reason. That would be why it would be interesting to have those responsible for the setting of premiums before a legislative committee to answer those kinds of questions.

What I think was an advantage in this exercise, I want to say to the parliamentary assistant and to the House, was the consultation that took place before the bill came in. Too often, we do our consulting in government after a bill is struck. I don't know how many changes were made as a result; I presume there were some. I presume the parliamentary assistant and others on the committee felt the input was useful and helpful in developing this legislation, and I think that's a good model to follow. Since the infamous Bill 26, where the government attempted to ram through an omnibus bill changing about 47 acts of the Ontario Legislature all in one bill just before Christmas with a minimum of meaningful hearings -- when we had that happen, I think the government learned somewhat of a lesson in how to handle these matters, and that's why when I was critical of that, I'll be equally complimentary of the fact that the government chose a different route in the case of automobile insurance, and that was to have a consultation before the final legislation came forward.

There were some suggestions that there would be further hearings after the bill, but I think the government was able to make a pretty good case, although we always like to see further hearings when you're in opposition, that a lot of the arguments to be made had been made and that further changes to the legislation were unlikely as a result of further hearings. That's why we do not have committee of the whole, where there are further amendments required. That's why it's not going back to a legislative committee again for the summer to have further hearings.

So what is left now is simply to express hope that this will be successful. My friend the member for Lincoln is in the insurance business and he, I hope, made some representations to the member for Mississauga West, because he's had long experience in the business and is very knowledgeable in it and could tell you some of the pitfalls. Frank is in the broker end of things -- I think, Frank, you do some brokering -- so he could give you some idea of what different companies do and the policies they follow.

So all of this input is very good for all of us. It makes for better legislation; it makes for better regulations. So I want to tonight not wish you bad luck; I want to wish you well in this, even though there is a vested interest in that should any other party be lucky enough -- I don't know whether I should use that term, "lucky enough." Should any other party be blessed with the opportunity to serve in government in the foreseeable future, we hope that you have saved any of us from the difficulty of automobile insurance.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Bert Johnson: I wanted to respond to the speech by the member for St Catharines. He spoke of hope in it, and I think that's quite an admirable quality because indeed, that's why most of us came to this Legislature.

I did hear with interest his suggestion that our fund-raisers will be well looked after. In my riding I have three insurance companies. Blanshard, Downie and Elma Mutual all sell insurance. They're owned by the people in that riding and they sell insurance. I'm sure that if the member for Renfrew North had asked, they'd have given him the chart -- I think it was out in Consumer Reports 12 or 15 years ago -- about the different rating of cars for the no-fault part of insurance that we don't think of as no-fault but which is the collision coverage.

I also wanted to make a comment, if I could, about the way different governments have treated premiums in the past. I think back to the days when we used to pay an OHIP premium and the premiums went up. I guess they went up so fast that we had a Liberal government, as I recall, that said we had to hide it, so we'll just tax the people and forget that health care costs anything. Indeed, the costs kept going up and going up and they're hiding so far --

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Universality, Bert.

Mr Bert Johnson: Yes. Now we think that health care is free. That is the one reason why I am a proponent of the bill that the member from Mississauga is bringing before us and why I'm glad to be able to speak in favour of it.

Mr Conway: I just wanted to say a couple of things. The member for St Catharines raised a good point about fraud. Again, I said in my own remarks on second reading that I've got some real sympathy for the industry on the question of fraud. I remember two or three years ago, I think it was the Insurance Bureau of Canada -- I'm not sure, but it was some organization like that -- reported ago that their estimate of the fraud in the private insurance world ran at about 15% to 17%. I say that in the presence of the Minister of Community and Social Services because there's been a lot of -- and I don't complain about people who worry about the abuse of public insurance programs, welfare and the like, but the IBC reported something like 15% to 17% of all insurance payments in the private sector being fraudulent. Wow.

There's a lot of welfare-bashing going on around this place. I haven't heard too many people up yelling and screaming about "What the heck are we doing about a 15% to 17% fraud rate, apparently, in the insurance sector?" I don't know whether that figure's been revised downward, but think about that. Every time you pay $1,000 worth of premium revenue, you are paying about 150 bucks to sponsor criminal or fraudulent behaviour. I don't know whether it offends you people; I'm sure it does. It certainly bugs me. I quite frankly have some real sympathy for the industry. And it's not just consumers, but the number of providers -- yes, the number of doctors, the number of lawyers, the number of automobile repair shops -- that just cannot resist the corruptibility that comes with insurance that is apparently irresistible.

I guess I say to my friend Bradley on behalf of at least the member for Etobicoke West and myself: Inquiring minds need to know. What would a person pay in 1996 to insure a Roadmaster?

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): God knows what you would pay to insure a Roadmaster; I can tell you that. But the illustration, Jim, you mentioned --

Mr Bradley: What about a Porsche, Frank?

Mr Sheehan: No, I'm into Cadillacs now. I gave up on Jaguars.

This bill does do a marvellous job of ridding the industry and the public of the problems caused by Bill 164. Bill 164 was a licence to steal. It was an endowment of entitlement to people who had no loss but were entitled to what was just there by mandate. I have to suggest that the member from -- Etobicoke, is it? Wherever you're from.

Mr Sampson: Mississauga.

Mr Sheehan: The member from Mississauga has done an excellent job in drafting this, because every time a question arose, he went and he said, "What is best for the customer?" He always made that question be answered first, before he made a decision as he drew up his law. I think you're going to find it's going to improve customer service, it's going to improve availability, and ultimately it will improve the costs of insurance. I compliment you very much, Rob. You did an excellent job. I hope this thing goes through in nothing flat.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? The member for Etobicoke West.

Mr Bradley: Remember, I get the last word.

Mr Stockwell: Thanks, Harry.

There were just a couple of comments that I think need to be addressed from the member for St Catharines. I'm not really sure about this party, but I've not seen any huge, long lineup at my fund-raising door from the insurance companies. But I will say this -- clearly the member was not here for your speech and is exposing himself once more.

Mr Kormos: Start again from the beginning.

Mr Stockwell: They're back. Did everything come out okay? Good, that's great.


Mr Stockwell: I'm doing my best. When my socialist friends come walking in, it's difficult to maintain a balance.

Let me just say this to the member for St Catharines: If there was a group who enticed the insurance industry, if there was a government that seemed to win the accolades and favours of the insurance industry, it had to be that crowd of Liberals under Mr Peterson that was elected in this place from 1985 to 1990. I know my friend from Renfrew North knows of what I speak. If there was any crowd who simply won the day during that long and arduous debate, the people in the insurance industry did quite nicely under the Liberal regime. I know your affection for the lawyers and the litigators in this province. They did not seem to do quite as well. So if you are speaking about days and periods and fund-raisers where the insurance companies lined up, you speak as someone who seems to know and seems to remember fondly those salad days of the 1980s, when my friend from St Catharines could simply write off a little memo, have a fund-raiser, and the hordes would follow, money flowing out of their pockets.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, two minutes.

Mr Bradley: Where does one begin with all these interventions, at the very least?

First of all, I was very pleased the member for Perth raised the issue of OHIP premiums as he did, because I want to tell you that it was a Liberal government which removed one of the largest taxes there was, and that was the tax on individuals for OHIP premium purposes. This was after W. Darcy McKeough, in 1978 I believe it was, increased OHIP premiums by 37.5% in a budget, and he was forced to withdraw them. Because he was in a minority government situation, he had to withdraw that.

Let me tell you what was wrong with OHIP premiums. OHIP premiums you would like, because OHIP premiums do not take into account a person's ability to pay. In other words, a person of modest income had to pay the same OHIP premium as E.P. Taylor, you would have said in those days; now you'd say Trevor Eyton or Conrad Black or one of the very rich people.

Mr Kormos: Everyone pays the health tax.

Mr Bradley: The member says everybody pays the health tax, but that was then coming out of the income tax, which does take into account a person's ability to pay.

So the problem with OHIP premiums was that people of modest income and the richest people in our society had to pay the same. It didn't take into account the ability to pay. But by financing it through the progressive taxes we had, therefore we were able to make it fairer. I think most members recognize that and were shocked and rolling their eyes as you raised that issue for me.

Second, I'm glad to hear my friend from Lincoln say that he is now into Cadillacs; he's abandoned the Jaguar that could not be found during the election campaign. I'm pleased to hear that. He has some very good points to make. I'm pleased to see that he was complimenting the member for Mississauga West.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? If not, the parliamentary assistant.

Mr Sampson: Thank you, Mr Speaker, but I have no further comments.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Eves has moved third reading of Bill 59. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to defer this vote until tomorrow, immediately after question period.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to have the motions for second reading of Bills 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69 considered together.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.



Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Harnick, Ms Mushinski, Mr Sterling, Mr Saunderson, Mrs Elliott, Mr Wilson, Mr Hodgson and Mr Runciman, moved second reading of the following bills:

Bill 61, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of the Attorney General / Projet de loi 61, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère du Procureur général

Bill 63, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation / Projet de loi 63, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère des Affaires civiques, de la Culture et des Loisirs

Bill 64, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations / Projet de loi 64, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère de la Consommation et du Commerce

Bill 65, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism / Projet de loi 65, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère du Développement économique, du Commerce et du Tourisme

Bill 66, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Environment and Energy / Projet de loi 66, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère de l'Environnement et de l'Énergie

Bill 67, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Health / Projet de loi 67, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère de la Santé

Bill 68, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines / Projet de loi 68, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère du Développement du Nord et des Mines

Bill 69, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Correctional Services / Projet de loi 69, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère du Solliciteur général et au ministère des Services correctionnels.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Amendments to these acts have come about following the establishment of the Red Tape Review Commission under the leadership of my colleague the member for Lincoln, Frank Sheehan. He and his committee of government MPPs have done an outstanding job in working with the various ministries to identify redundant regulations and to recommend action to remove unnecessary barriers for business.

As members of this House know, the Common Sense Revolution, supported by a number of studies, indicated that the regulatory burden is one of the biggest barriers to economic growth and job creation. The Red Tape Review Commission was established to act as a catalyst to encourage ministries to review their laws, regulations and directives and to identify areas of overregulation that led to an unnecessary burden on business and, in many cases, have just outlived their usefulness.

The amendments we are discussing today are just a first effort by our government to simplify bureaucratic processes and eliminate red tape. We will be bringing forward additional measures later this fall, along with a test to help ensure any new laws and regulations are not barriers to economic growth and job creation. This is what will be called the Less Paper/More Jobs test that was outlined in the interim report of the Red Tape Review Commission released on June 5, 1996.

Let me briefly outline a few of the regulatory redundancies that will be washed away through the Government Process Simplification Act.

In the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, we will amend the Motor Vehicle Repair Act to eliminate reference to regional ministry offices in signage, repair orders and invoices relating to the size, form and style of signs. These regional offices were closed by the previous government; therefore, this is a classic case of a redundant regulation.

Through the Ministry of the Attorney General, amendments relating to the public guardian and trustee will allow discretion to waive the requirement for an authenticated copy of letters probate or letters of administration before releasing property to heirs and personal representatives. This will save people money for having to apply to court for probate and administration.

In the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, amendments will be made to the Historical Parks Act, the Ontario Place Corporation Act, the St Clair Parkway Commission Act and the Tourism Act to simplify the process for setting fees and prescribing forms. Presently the legislation requires that fees and forms be set by regulations.

In Bill 67, the Ministry of Health proposes 19 health-related amendments that will reduce red tape by eliminating the requirement for cabinet approval for routine decisions by institutions; repealing obsolete and redundant statutes; and getting rid of unnecessary regulation-making powers over administrative fees and special forms.

A positive attack on government overregulation saves tax money, makes government more efficient and improves services to customers of government services.

At the same time as we are taking action to fulfil promises made in the Common Sense Revolution, the government, the Red Tape Review Commission and the ministries are careful to protect the health, environment, safety and consumer rights of the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments? Further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I see that I have an hour and a half to speak this evening on this bill. I do not want to spend that amount of time on this legislation tonight.


Mr Bradley: That has evoked a round of applause, I might note, from the government benches. I can certainly understand why.

I will try as well as I can to speak to the actual provisions of these bills as opposed to anything else, but of course on second reading, approval in principle, we have to look at the total picture, the context in which this legislation is being proposed.

If you look at this legislation, I don't think, for those who follow ancient history, we can call these draconian changes as I look through them. Some of them are probably supportable in the context of 1996.

What I ask the government when it's going through the process of deregulation and delegislation, if there is such a word, is that you look carefully to see that what you're doing is not going to have the kind of ramification that will hurt the population at large later on.

There are some regulations and provisions that I see before every government that need changing. Some of them are simply outdated. When you get regulations that were struck originally in, say, the late 1890s and they're still on the books, and we've had technological changes or other changes that do not necessitate the continued existence and following of those regulations, then it makes sense to get rid of them. Other governments have done this from time to time.

They have not had the communications plan that this government has. My good friend the member for Lincoln, who was the chair of a committee which was involved with red tape, had a press conference -- and there were some stories in the newspapers and on television -- about some of the changes that would be forthcoming.

I want to commend again Paul Rhodes, the chief -- well, he would be complimented if I called him a spin doctor, because in his world it is a compliment to say that. Paul's a good friend of many of us in this House. He covered the House previously as a reporter. His dad was the member for Sault Ste Marie at one time.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): A good Liberal once.

Mr Bradley: A good Liberal at one occasion, before he ran as a Conservative. John Rhodes one of the best-liked members of the Ontario Legislature when he was here.

I compliment Paul on the work he's doing. I hope the government gives him a raise for the fine work he is doing in terms of putting forth the government position in the best possible light and orchestrating these matters as they might be.

To my friend the member for Lincoln, I had expected worse when I heard of the press conference, I had expected worse from our point of view when I saw the legislation, but what I see before us this evening is not as drastic as I had anticipated, and for that reason I will not find it necessary to speak for an hour and a half on the matters contained within this bill. But what I want to express concern about is that this may be just the first step towards more drastic and draconian legislation.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): No, trust us.

Mr Bradley: I'm asked to trust the government on this. I think I will be careful and cautious and look carefully at each piece of legislation that is brought forward.

One of the reasons we have a lot of legislation and regulations is to protect the people or the consumer. When I see changes that are made to various regulations affecting consumers, I become concerned that they will be at the mercy of unscrupulous people in the business community.

Again, there are two sets of people you must deal with: the consumers themselves, who must be protected; but every bit as important, the good business people out there, who must be protected from competition from those who are going to make an extra buck by breaking the rules.

I always see the fact that there may be many in the business community who from time to time applaud government for bringing in new regulations, though I know of many, particularly in the small business field, who are happy to see some of the regulations removed. They have demonstrated to me some of the ones that seem to be redundant, seem to be unnecessary; and in that case, when the government removes those, I'm quite delighted to see that happen.

I don't want to condemn carte blanche the government in this matter. But I saw a step that the government was taking the other day that gets into downsizing to a certain extent; I'll interpret it as deregulation. The St Catharines Standard, I see, agrees with me today, though when I mentioned this in the House I did not see my name in the Standard after that, because I think there had been a dog killed on Scott Street that day or someone dropped a nickel.

Anyway, my friend the member for Lincoln knows of which I speak, because he has looked for his name many times in the Standard, has found it when he doesn't want to find it, but when he makes a pronouncement that he feels is of significance to his constituents he looks for it, but, as I say, sometimes there are other matters that take precedence.

But I'm saying today I compliment the editorial writer of the St Catharines Standard who spots one of the measures which I call deregulation and which is downsizing, and it's what you have to be careful of; not so much what you might find actually in this bill, but what this bill leads to. Let me share with members of the House the contents of this editorial. It doesn't say, "Standard Agrees with Bradley"; it says, "Ducking a Duty."

"The Ontario government has taken its obsession with deregulation a step further with plans to eliminate a number of inspectors who gather Ontario produce for pesticide tests.

"Sixteen of 20 horticultural inspectors -- who regularly visit markets or food stores to grade produce and gather samples for testing -- will be laid off to save money. The pesticide checks cover 200 different chemicals and have been conducted for about 20 years. The information allows the government to monitor trends in pesticide use and programs to help farmers reduce their dependence on chemicals.

"In the wake of the announcement, Agriculture Minister Noble Villeneuve assured consumers everything would be all right and they shouldn't worry about chemical contaminants in their food. If they have concerns, he said, all they have to do is send in samples for testing.

"In a letter of `clarification' -- published on this page today" -- and this is in today's St Catharines Standard, which is the 25 June 1996 edition of the Standard -- " -- the minister insists samples will continue to be collected. But this does not inspire confidence. Clearly, with the reduction in staff, the frequency of random sampling and tests will be greatly reduced.

"And Villeneuve's suggestion that the public send in their own samples is silly for a number of reasons. According to officials at the agriculture ministry, it costs between $250 and $1,000 to test a sample of food, a bill far beyond the means of the average consumer. Who will pay? People simply won't rush to shell out hundreds of dollars every time a tomato tastes odd.

"Then there are problems with timing. Fresh produce sent to the ministry by mail or other means would not be in any condition for proper testing by the time it was received.

"The Harris government is constantly telling its constituents that it has a mandate from voters to get government out of their face. But at no time did voters demand a reduction in steps to protect health and safety, whether in the workplace or in the produce we consume.

"It should not be the job of consumers, with no expertise in such matters, to be on guard against toxic chemicals in what they eat. This is a duty which government should not shirk."

What the St Catharines Standard editorial writer points out is an example of what happens when governments move before they think carefully about the ramifications of that move. There are two sets of people in this case, for instance, who are going to be concerned: first, the consumers who eat the food; and second, farmers in our province, who could say, I think, with some authority that our food is safe, it has been in the past, it is at present, before we lose these inspectors, and they can say, "If you don't believe us, we have objective inspectors from the government who carry out these inspections and send in reports."

That gives the consumer confidence, and that's why a lot of us, some for other reasons as well, choose Ontario products, because we know these kinds of inspections have taken place. We know we've got inspectors on the job. We know that the number of random samples taken will be rather significant. So I think farmers and consumers have both benefited from this program. But this is what happens when governments start to worship at the idol of deregulation and, as they said in the editorial, of getting government out of people's faces.

I caution you, on what is contained in this bill, some of them are quite minor and you're not going to see a lot of objection to them, though I must say, if you look carefully at the bill, the bill allows the government now to set some significant new fees. The eight government process simplification bills have less to do with reducing red tape, in this case for business and consumers, and more to do with providing new powers to implement fees and give new powers to cabinet ministers.

The eight bills allow new or enhanced fee-setting powers under 20 statutes. So while the government will claim that it wants to reduce the tax burden on the people, and I understand that, on the other hand, through the other door, it will be increasing a lot of these taxes.

When the government likes to talk about past tax increases, it lists how many the NDP brought in or the Liberals brought in; I calculated 173 the Conservatives brought in. They list the numbers, but what they often don't list are the fee increases, which in fact are selective tax increases. When you look at this bill, that's what it allows the government to do. Under what authority? Under the authority of individual cabinet ministers.

Members of the government caucus will show up one day, on a Tuesday morning, surprised because they've had some telephone calls from constituents, either in the business community or in the consuming community, who will say, "Did you understand there's been a drastic increase in this fee?" Members will be surprised that this has happened, because the cabinet will have done it behind closed doors and perhaps forgotten to inform the members, because it will be done by regulation in this case, not by legislation.

What they're doing further is shutting individual members of the government out of the process. More power to the crowd that advises the Premier, the unelected people who are much smarter than any one of us in this House; and more power to the civil service, who will make recommendations to the government on how it can obtain further revenue; and less power to those of you who were elected, regardless of what your party happens to be but are popularly elected in your individual constituencies. Again, this is a trend which I think all of us who are legislators should be concerned about.

When I look at deregulation, not all of it is bad; some of it should be done. Sometimes, for instance, the private sector can do a better job than the public sector. Sometimes self-regulation may be every bit as good as government regulation, but on many occasions that's not the case. I suggest that you canvass opinions rather widely, not necessarily of vested interest groups, but opinions of informed and experienced people before you embark further down the road of deregulation.

I notice for instance that under economic development, trade and tourism, there are changes to four acts under the ministry.

The Historical Parks Act gives the minister sweeping powers to set new fees for such facilities as Old Fort William and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons.


The Ontario Place Corporation Act gives the Ontario Place Corp, with the approval of the minister, of course, sweeping powers to set new fees.

The St Clair Parkway Commission Act gives the St Clair Parkway Commission, with the approval of the minister, sweeping powers to set new fees.

The Tourism Act gives the minister sweeping powers to set new fees and allows the minister to deny permits unless permit fees have been paid.

That's just an example of part of this legislation that allows for the government to set new fees. Not all of you in the government; I can't stand up in the House and say it's the member for Durham East's fault, because he doesn't sit in the cabinet, though, heaven knows, with the shuffle that may take place, he may well be. Any of the Durham members in that area -- Durham East, Durham Centre, Durham West -- I can't blame you, unless of course you're elevated to the cabinet when the shuffle takes place this summer and when we base the choice of the members of the cabinet on competence. With that in mind, I know there are many who sit in the back benches who feel they would qualify for elevation to the cabinet.

But I can't blame you. The only time I can blame you is if you stand in this House and support this bill. I will remind you when those fees go up that you supported a bill -- not that you wanted those fee increases, but that you supported a bill which allowed the cabinet and individual cabinet ministers to jack those fees up rather considerably. Again, the member for Etobicoke-Humber would be disappointed if I did not bring this matter to his attention, but these fees will not take into account a person's ability to pay.

Should Trevor Eyton show up at Old Fort William, it'll be much easier for him to pay that additional fee than it would were a person of more modest income, the chief government whip for instance, to show up there and be asked to pay more of a fee. In the interests of the chief government whip, the member for York Mills, I'm concerned for him and for others whom he represents, because those fees will increase. He will not have had input into it. Even though he's the chief government whip, they don't let him in behind the closed doors of the cabinet to have input in those fee increases. Mark my words, you will see the increases as a result of this bill and you'll see them after they've been implemented rather than before.

Bill 68, one of the bills we're debating tonight -- and we as an opposition wanted to be so cooperative and ensure the government could debate eight bills at one time. You might say it's omnibus, but these are of minor consequence in the total picture and we also wanted to be cooperative with the members of the government who are eager to see this legislation passed, at least to second reading.

I looked at the northern development and mines provision, Bill 68 amends the Mining Act to eliminate the Mining Act licensing requirements for refineries processing gold, silver and other precious metals. Is this a good thing? Hard to say. I'm a little bit suspicious that perhaps they're relinquishing some control. The licensing requirements for refineries must have had something to do with how the refineries operate and therefore government, acting on behalf of the people of the province at large, probably had a role to play. I hope I'm wrong in this. I hope it's a more minor provision and it's of little consequence.

Bill 69, Solicitor General: It says Bill 69 amends five acts administered by the Solicitor General and corrections minister. Most of these amendments will transfer regulatory powers away from the Lieutenant Governor in Council, which are order-in-council appointments, to the minister. Let me tell you, even though you're best off as members of the Legislature to have input, better to have the whole cabinet than the minister alone be responsible for these regulatory powers, because at least you might run into a cabinet minister in the hallway and say, "What's cooking today?" and even though there's cabinet secrecy, that cabinet minister may, if it's not a matter of great consequence, talk about something that might be happening in the mining industry, for instance, or in the corrections ministry. But what you're doing is taking away from the cabinet at large, order in council, and giving it to one individual.

Having sat in the cabinet, I know that one of the most interesting times for cabinet ministers is to sit and go over the orders in council, because each minister brings them forward. Each minister may have a personal agenda. Even more significant, the civil service in that ministry may have an agenda that they want the minister to advance.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): No, that never happened.

Mr Bradley: The member for Beaches-Woodbine suggests that never happened. Tongue-in-cheek, I see she suggests that.

What I want to warn you of is, if you have the whole cabinet observing these orders in council, looking at them carefully, one of the ministers might say: "I think we'd better doublecheck this. We might check with the member for Etobicoke-Humber, who's expert in this field, because he may have some interesting input, or my friend the member for Niagara Falls may have some expertise in the field. Perhaps we should remove this order in council and consult with the member for Niagara Falls." Instead you're simply going to have a minister with those powers and that minister or the minister's civil service or political advisers may have an agenda which is not an agenda accepted by the entire cabinet and the entire government.

Oftentimes when you look at these bills they look innocent, but when you look at the possible ramifications once the bill is passed and you have no more input, you find out that perhaps the minister should come to caucus and be forthright about all the potential problems with a bill of this kind. I say that because I count on the members of the government who are not in the cabinet as well to scrutinize these matters. Often they're in better touch with their constituents, not because the cabinet ministers don't want to be but because other members are not as consumed in the day-to-day operations of a ministry and sometimes have a better feel for what the constituents are saying.

There's a need for a warrant to transfer inmates from one correctional institution to another. It's eliminated by Bill 69. I don't know if that makes any difference. It doesn't seem to me to make much difference. It seems to be supportable. Someone may say: "Do you know what you're talking about on this? This has major ramifications." I don't see them in this.

Ms Lankin: What about Bluewater to Elgin-Middlesex?

Mr Bradley: But just when you happen to think that, the member for Beaches-Woodbine intervenes to say, "What about the transfer that took place from Bluewater to Elgin-Middlesex?" and the controversy that's been raging in the House for the last few weeks as a result of that. So maybe that is significant. If you look at it on the surface you say, "It doesn't look like it's that important," but then when you have an incident such as we had that's been the subject of questions in the House for the last few weeks, you say perhaps that's not as wise as you might think.

I don't want to go through each one of these, except I do want to say -- and there may be another member speaking on this briefly -- that the Minister of Health will have new powers. It says: "Proposed changes to 10 acts revoke the power of the Lieutenant Governor in Council to approve applications, forms and bylaws to prescribe fees. Bill 67 transfers these powers to the minister." I won't get into the details of those. I think the member for Renfrew may be dealing with the Ministry of Health aspects. But look at it again. You're taking it away from the cabinet as a whole. Not only do you have no say, as members of the caucus, but you've taken it away from the cabinet and put it in the hands of the minister. That's only the opinion of the minister, the minister's political advisers, the political staff that all ministers have, and the civil service in the Ministry of Health. No other minister has any input and no member of the caucus has input.

So again when you look at this bill, read it carefully. One of the interesting things to do -- sometimes they're hard to understand for me. I'm not a lawyer and there's legalese in some of the legislation, but I have to go through it and if I don't know what it's about I'll ask somebody who does, maybe a lawyer who understands legalese or someone expert in the field, to say, "What are we getting into with this legislation?"

I could go down the list but, as I say, I don't want to dwell unnecessarily on a lot of the aspects of this legislation except to say that regulations aren't all bad. Some of them are not necessary, some of them should be amended, some of them should be cast out. Many of them should be retained for the protection of the consumer, for the protection of the environment, for the protection of people at large, for the protection of business. When I say business -- good corporate citizens who live up to their obligations and hope that government will ensure that their competitors, who may not be such good corporate citizens, are required to live up to the same obligations in a variety of ministries and a variety of fields.


As this goes out to committee this summer -- the opposition has asked that this go out to committee -- I hope those who have concerns or who support it will come before the committee to say why it's supportable, why it's advisable, or where it should be changed and where it should be altered considerably. The government's going to proceed with this -- I don't think there's a hope that the bill's going to be abandoned -- so I hope the committee hearing process will simply change the bill in areas it needs changing so that it's a better piece of legislation, of which all members of this Legislature can be justifiably proud.

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

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm very pleased to be able to participate in this short response to the member for St Catharines. My duty is to inform the people who may be night-owls and watching tonight on two bills. All of the small group of eight bills are to clear the road or clear the path to allow people to get on with their lives and get on with their business.

Bill 68 really deals with some minor amendments and repeals the land act, the Canada Company's Lands Act, 1922, which deals with minor changes and really affects those people who are applying to get clear title to property. This was the way it was done in 1922, but now someone who may own that land has a legal difficulty which is completely unnecessary. We're eliminating that barrier or that piece of red tape.

Bill 69 rolls together five acts. One of those regulations deals with private investigators and security guards. The way the current regulation reads, those two groups' licences all expire on the same date, which creates an unusual, unplanned-for bulge of work for which the ministry of course has to man up on a temporary basis. All we're doing is staggering the licensing times. That's the way to do business today. Certainly I think it's going to help small business and it's something I know people in my riding of Durham East will very much support.

Also, there was some small discussion on the removal warrant. Well, I'd be surprised if we had to resort to a primitive methodology in today's world of electronics. I'm sure all our correctional facilities are linked electronically, certainly they should be, for security and for information purposes. Wouldn't it be most appropriate to electronically advise the other facility that these things are happening and these inmates' records and those kinds of things -- I think what we're doing with that is eliminating the red tape.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to respond to the member for St Catharines this evening. I know he kept his comments brief and didn't get a chance to talk on all of the bills tonight.

I know he wanted to mention the section in Bill 61 that eases the requirements imposed on charitable organizations, trust companies and individuals who deal with the public guardian and trustee. For example, we no longer require executors and trustees to give the public guardian and trustee notice by registered mail or personal service of bequests for religious, education or charitable purposes.

I know the member, if he had more time, would also want to mention that the bill simplifies the procedures the public guardian and trustee must follow to get the authority to sell real estate, and in some cases that they actually continue to act as an administrator, and that the bill will also facilitate speedier and less costly transfer of assets to beneficiaries from the public guardian and trustee. In fact, in estates of under $20,000 the public guardian and trustee's discretion will waive the requirement for the authenticated copy of letters probate or letters of administration before releasing property to heirs and personal representatives. This will save people from having to apply to court for probate or administration.

An amendment to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act will clarify the details of the basic procedural rules that apply to over 70 Ontario tribunals. This will enhance the efficiency in the hearings process for businesses and individuals and for tribunals themselves.

There are also changes in relation to the Assessment Review Board. All of these changes are simple procedural amendments that will improve the boards' ability to provide better service and make more efficient use of the boards' hearing time.

Ms Lankin: I'm actually going to respond to the member for St Catharines. As he indicated, there are eight bills in front of us here tonight, many of them with rather minor administrative sorts of changes. But you know, when you've got a package like this together, even if it's a small package, if you look inside you can often find a gem. The gems we find in here in terms of this government giving powers to its ministers to increase taxation on the public of Ontario is quite an incredible gem from a government that says it's not going to increase taxes, from a government that says a user fee is just a tax by any other name.

Let me just give you an example. Under the public guardian and trustee, the bill gives the minister the right and restores the guardian's office's right to charge fees for services performed.

Under economic development and trade, and the member responded to this one, new fees can be charged by the minister without going to cabinet for the Historical Parks Act, the St Clair Parkway Commission Act and other attractions of that sort.

What I found interesting was under the Ministry of Health legislation, Bill 67: Ambulance Act, ministerial power to establish fees is added; Charitable Institutions Act transfers the power establishing fees from the cabinet to the minister; Healing Arts Radiation Protection Act transfers the powers of establishing fees from the cabinet to the minister; Health Protection and Promotion Act, same thing, the minister gets to set fees; Homemakers and Nurses Services Act, the minister gets to set new fees; Homes for Special Care Act, the minister gets to set new fees; Private Hospitals Act, the minister gets to set new fees.

What about under the Coroners Act? There you can again have the minister set new fees. What about under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act? The bill allows the minister to impose and collect new fees. I'll tell you, this is a cash grab by any other name, but it's just wonderful to see the Tories come to the reality of governing in these days and realize that with VLTs and everything else, they really do need money.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'm pleased to respond to the comments by the member for St Catharines, specifically with respect to the Government Process Simplification Act (Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations), 1996, which amends three acts administered by the ministry.

First of all, the Motor Vehicle Repair Act will be amended to eliminate reference to regional ministry offices in signage, repair orders and invoices, and the regulation-making power concerning size, form and style of signs.

Secondly, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act will be amended to eliminate the regulation-making power requiring registered motor vehicle dealers to be bonded. The bonding requirements are no longer necessary, thanks to the existence of the motor vehicle dealers compensation fund.

Thirdly, the Consumer Protection Act is amended to eliminate the registration requirement for itinerant sellers. I would like to assure this House that itinerant sellers, while no longer required to be registered with the ministry, will still be required to fully comply with the provisions of the ministry's Business Practices Act and Consumer Protection Act.

I'm proud to take part in the streamlining of our administration with the introduction of this act at the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.


The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines may sum up.

Mr Bradley: I'm pleased that the members of the government were able to get on the record their support for certain aspects of the legislation. As I expect they would, I know they'll be happy, now they have roundly endorsed this legislation, to receive all the telephone calls when there are fee increases. I think you could legitimately change the name of the bill to, "These bills are designed to raise fees to consumers and others in the province of Ontario," because that is one of the major provisions.

I appreciate the member for Scarborough Centre, the member for Durham East and the member for Durham Centre all helping us out with clarifications of the bill. They were perhaps areas I had left out and their clarification may help the public to be more supportive of those particular aspects. But I think the public will recall that this bill transfers more power from a wider circle of people to one person -- that is, the minister in most cases -- and that this bill really enhances the opportunity for individual ministers to invoke fee increases which are, in effect, tax increases on the consumers of this province and perhaps on businesses in this province.

I well recall our friend the Premier of this province, when he made a speech that said user fees are the same as taxes: you can't differentiate between user fees and taxes. I think I applauded the day he said that, rather enthusiastically, because I agreed with him, and yet what this legislation will permit now will be significant and unscrutinized fee increases in a variety of fields and those fee increases will not take into account a person's ability to pay.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Speaker, I want you to know that I appreciate the opportunity tonight to speak on these many bills in this House before us tonight and to follow on the comments of the member for St Catharines and to say to you that these bills, however impressive by way of their number and the various ministries that they flow out of and will have some impact in, really are much ado about nothing. There's really not a whole lot here. It's just another example of this government's game of shells, this game of flim-flam, of one day declaring that there's a crisis and the next day coming in with all kinds of draconian new ways of hurting people, cutting services, reducing government's influence in this province and diminishing that which we all hold in common and value, that which gives dignity to people and contributes to their quality of life.

We have here a series of bills that flow out of a very grandiose process of discussion led by several parliamentary assistants to rid this province of red tape once and for all, that was presented to us as that which was stopping the economy of this province from growing or moving forward, stopping the business sector from getting on the freeway of recovery, stopping people from investing in this province. We were all, I think, waiting with bated breath, with great anticipation, the final arrival of this package in this place so that we could see for ourselves in Technicolor the breadth and the depth of the red tape that people who want to do business in this province, particularly as the government would present it, are having to deal with, and this is what we have here today.

I want the government to know, and the members across the way of goodwill, and there are a goodly number of them -- a goodly number of members in this House who were elected by people from across the province under the banner of the Progressive Conservative Party who, I believe, do have the best interests of their constituents at heart and are working as much as they can within the caucus to make sure that things that happen are in fact done for that very reason. I appeal to them tonight to please be forthright with us, be honest with us and tell us that what we have here, again, is another attempt to distract the people from focusing on that which is real re the question of how we develop an economy in this province that is viable and vital and alive and which generates the wealth that is needed to provide all of us -- all of our friends and neighbours, all of our colleagues and family members in the communities that we come from -- with the kinds of jobs that we all aspire to, which have decent wages attached, which have benefit packages, which have a pension plan that we can look forward to once we retire and move into our old age.

I suggest to our Speaker tonight that this package of legislation that we have in front of us, this red tape removal applicant that we have here is not going to go any distance to doing that. We will not see created, because of this package of legislation in this province, one more job. We will not see one more person taken off the welfare rolls. We will not see the ability of one more hospital in any of our communities enhanced so that it can offer more and better service. This piece of legislation will not do that.

As a matter of fact, in many ways, what we have here in this is simply a cleaning up, a tidying up, a housekeeping of initiatives that we started when we were in government. It has nothing to do whatsoever with the exercise that this government has paid for over the last few months, has sent its parliamentary assistants out and about talking to people about. It has nothing to do with that whatsoever. So it, as so much of what has been presented in this House, is another huge disappointment.

But the people will not be fooled, just as they weren't fooled on that infamous day in July 1995 when we all woke up to discover that, yes, as one of the government members said the other day in this House, Ontario had changed, Ontario had indeed become meaner and greedier. We woke up to the reality that now those who lived in our neighbourhoods and in our communities who are most in need, who are most vulnerable and who have been battered around by the system in such a way as to not have a job any more, are going to lose 21.6% of their income, that money which they used to put bread on the table for their children, that money which they used to put a house over their heads, that money which they used to clothe themselves and their offspring in the very cold winters we experience in this province and in this country.

We were led to believe by the information and the package and the context within which that was delivered that this was going to be good news for this province, that somehow by taking 21.6% out of the income of the most vulnerable and the poorest among us we were all going to be better off, that a year or two or three years down the road this magic elixir of a reduction in the services and the money that those among us who are most in need were getting was somehow going to make this province stronger.

Just as -- I forget what the exact date was but that other infamous date, and there were many of them in 1995 and indeed in 1996 and there will be more -- when the Minister of Education said that he was going to create a crisis, we all know in hindsight now that in fact he did create a crisis; and that by taking $400 million out of education in one half of the school year and extrapolating it over a full year, we're looking at $1 billion out of the education system. We're told, with the context within which that was delivered and with the information that attended it and came with it, that somehow with this slashing of education, this diminishing of the resources that go to education, we were all going to be better, that this province of ours with this streamlined, downsized education system was going to be healthier and was going to be more attractive to outside investors, and the economy would get better, we would all have jobs, and everybody would be ready to participate.


But I tell you that the people out there will not be fooled; they'}e not fools. They've been around too long, they've been working too hard and they understand only too well the reality of the agenda of this government and how, even though it is packaged to make us all believe it is good news, in the end it is bad news. Once it begins to touch each one of us, each one of our friends and neighbours out there, we will begin to realize ever more clearly, and ever more personally, the reality of that truth.

We're told in Ontario that a diminishing of public services, a reduction of government, getting government out of the lives of people, the freezing of the minimum wage so that it becomes eventually one of the lowest in the country will somehow be more attractive to investment and to a healthier business climate in this province, just as we're told in the bills we're debating here this evening that the removal of the so-called red tape, which is very minuscule if you go through the documents that come with these bills, will somehow be better for all of us and will create a climate in this province that will be supportive of new industry, of new enterprises of a business nature. We know that won't happen.

In this province what we're competing with out there in the world as the economy becomes more and more global are workplaces that are dependent on child labour, on the lowest of minimum wages, on the lowest of regulation where it comes to health and safety and concern for the environment. That's what we're competing with.

To suggest for a second that somehow to be meaner and leaner and less concerned about those things that over the years in this province we have learned we need to be concerned about -- things like the environment and the health and safety of workers in the workplace and the fact that they get a good wage so that they can provide for themselves and for their families, the fact that they have a benefit package that helps them take care of some of the medical needs we all incur, the fact that we as a government come together and pool our resources so that we can have a health care system that's second to none in the world, the fact that we come together and pool our resources so that we can have an education system that is universally accessible to everybody, so that every family in this province is confident that when their children come to an age where they need to go to school they can go to school and go to the same school that their friends' and neighbours' children are going to regardless of their economic means -- for us to entertain for a second the thought of diminishing that very valuable foundation upon which everything else is built in this province so that we can compete with nations that use child labour so that they can manufacture and ultimately sell a product in our jurisdiction and in other jurisdictions across the world that is cheaper is to give in to the basest of human greed, to give in to the most base of human aspirations and not to in any way contribute to a world that is supportive of people, to a world that is dignified and caring of human beings.

The people out there will not be fooled. They understand the impact all of this will have on them. In Sault Ste Marie, the lovely community I come from, when we were government all kinds of really exciting and innovative things were done to restructure industries that were struggling. It wasn't a question of removing red tape. It was a question of government giving leadership. It was a question of government taking the major players in the instance of Algoma Steel and St Marys Paper and the Algoma Central Railway and so many other business enterprises in Sault Ste Marie that found themselves in dire straits in those very difficult times when the recession of the early 1990s was coming at us, a recession that we all know was probably the deepest and most difficult to deal with since the Great Depression.

The government of Bob Rae didn't say in Sault Ste Marie, "There's just too much red tape here and we have a whole lot of other things to do before we get to that." We brought all of the players to the table and we restructured those companies in a way that sees them today ever more profitable, and not only that, but reinvesting in new technology so that they will continue to be profitable into the next century.

The Sault Ste Marie of today is a different place than the Sault Ste Marie of even a year ago. I said in this House not so long ago that one only has to compare, for example, Christmas and January of 1994-95 to Christmas and January of 1995-96 and the feeling among small business people and consumers in Sault Ste Marie at that very important time in the life of the retail sector of my community to understand the major change, the chill that has come on my community and that I suggest has come on communities across this province because of the slashing and downsizing of this government, the removing from communities of the kinds of job opportunities we've always counted on to provide services and employment opportunities.

In Christmas of 1994-95 in Sault Ste Marie you could walk through the malls, you could walk down the streets, visit with your friends and neighbours, and everybody was up, everybody was feeling good. They were confident that the economy was getting better. They were spending money. Small business was making profit. The community was moving. The city was looking at new projects. The economic development officer was entertaining new ideas re what else we could do in the primary industrial sector to guarantee that we would have a future into the next 10 and 20 years. People were feeling good.

But in the Christmas of 1995 and January of 1996 it was a far different picture. People were no longer confident, because they knew there was a chance that, if they hadn't already lost their job, they would lose their job. Christmas of 1995 saw everybody in Sault Ste Marie who was dependent on the social assistance system lose 21.6% of the income they had, they counted on, they worked with to provide for themselves and their family the kind of Christmas that we have all come to expect, that we all take for granted.

In Sault Ste Marie that 21.6% that was taken out of the pay packet, the take-home money of the poorest in our community, amounted to about $2 million every month -- $2 million out of the economy of my city at a time when we were experiencing a very fragile recovery. If you multiply that by 12, it amounts to $24 million that wasn't being spent in Sault Ste Marie. If you add that to the loss in the fall of 1995 in my city by way of the downsizing of government agencies and organizations, the reduction of people working for government, of about $30 million to $35 million, you're talking about $40 million to $50 million out of the economy of Sault Ste Marie. That's felt most profoundly around Christmas time, because that's the time that people spend a lot of money. That's the time the retail sector counts on to guarantee they will have a successful year. That money was not being spent.

Even those who had money, even those who continued to have a job, were not spending it, because they weren't sure they were going to have a job in 1996 or 1997. Where this government will tell you, by way of a package of legislation such as the one we have in front of us here today, that what it's doing is creating a climate in which business will do better, and when business does better the expectation is that we will all do better, because we will have jobs and be able to participate, I suggest to you that is not the case. As with everything else they've done in their short term so far in office, there's more packaging, there's more wrapping to this than there is substance inside.


There's nothing in this for the ordinary working person in the province of Ontario; there's nothing in this for the person who is desperately looking for a job, who would love to be off the social assistance system, given an opportunity to work, not to speak -- maybe I'll talk to that in a little while; I'm not sure -- of the public relations job that's being done on all of us around the issue of how good workfare is going to be for everybody. Anybody who's looked at that particular phenomenon, where it's been tried in jurisdictions in the United States and around the world, knows it's another Trojan horse, that there's nothing there either, that in the end you have a whole bunch of ideological right-wing zealots, who just do not believe in social assistance for anybody, feeling good because they've done this workfare thing; they've kicked some butt of poor people. It makes them feel good but in the end they're the only ones feeling good.

The people in this province will not be fooled, because there are those of us around who will work with them, and they with us, to get to the bottom of this so we can determine what is the truth and what is not; what is good for people and what is bad for people; what's good medicine and what's bad medicine.

I want to read for you, if you would indulge me for a minute, the executive summary of a study we did in Sault Ste Marie re the impacts of decisions made by this government that we're told will be ultimately good for us. But we know from the study that was done and the extrapolation that's done here by an economist from McMaster University, Atif Kubursi, that this is not good medicine. This is snake oil.

"The Sault economy has experienced continuous structural change and restructuring over most of its recent history. In the past the Sault was fortunate to have been able to marshal its resources and influences to mitigate against the difficult problems it faced. The adoption of innovative and cooperative strategies in the late 1980s spared the Sault from some major economic difficulties. The present challenges are, however, unprecedented in scope, context and implications while the current economic and policy environments are no longer accommodating of the Sault's economic and social objectives.

"Sooner or later, the combined effects of provincial cuts in expenditures and taxes will have adverse economic impacts on the economy of the Sault. The magnitude of these impacts depends on the proportion of the tax cut that would be spent in Ontario. But even with full spending of the tax savings the Sault will experience a loss of 652 person-years of employment."

If every dollar saved by those who are fortunate enough to have a job by way of the tax cut is spent in Sault Ste Marie -- that's 1% marginal propensity to consume -- we will still lose 652 person-years of employment in our city and all that means by way of wages and spending power.

"These losses will grow in step with lower spending proportions. If nothing is spent of the tax savings, the employment losses will exceed 1,712 person-years. The adverse impacts will spread throughout the community and will not be restricted to those initially affected. The economy is a complex network of dependent activities.

"The expenditure cuts will cut jobs. Incomes will fall and so will consumer expenditures. Retail sales will contract as well as all types of goods and services sold in the community. The initial impacts will be propagated throughout the community. Real estate values will fall bringing down local tax revenues and the ability of the local government to sustain its programs and expenditures. The cuts and contractions will affect everybody. Nobody will be spared.

"Economic losses result in social difficulties too. With higher unemployment, the Sault could look to increased family violence and more crime. The stability and cohesiveness of the community will be challenged as never before.

"The community can still rise to the challenge and mitigate their negative effects" but it will be difficult. It will be a real challenge and it will require all of us to get involved, and ultimately I suggest that it will require an approach and an attitude from government that are different from the ones we have today. I am convinced by way of this study which was done by a person of some repute in the business of looking at the impact of various scenarios on job loss or job creation and so many other things we've experienced from this government in the last year that have been packaged in a language that would have us believe we're all going to be better off in the end if we only swallow this tablet and get on with it and stop whining and complaining, when in fact that is not the case.

As I've said before, what we have before us tonight is another example of that: the great new day that was going to be created once we got rid of all the red tape, the anticipation we all lived in over the last number of months as we awaited the report of the parliamentary assistants around the question of how we were going to reduce red tape in this province so that business could get on with its life and we could all be better off. What we have here tonight is a series of bills that are nothing but housekeeping and the dusting off of some things that were already on their way. I suggest to you that the people out there will not be fooled.

Let me read for you a couple of letters I received from some constituents in my community to let you know that they know what's going on, they know what's underneath all this and more and more they're coming to understand that this is not good for them or for their neighbours or for their family members. They will continue to write and their numbers will grow, and in the end -- I know that some of your caucus are genuinely concerned about the lives of the people you represent -- unless you call the leaders of your cabinet to task on this, we will all be worse off. You will not get a chance again, after the next election, to continue to be government.

This is a little letter from a person in my community, to let you know how they're feeling:

"This may not be nice to say, but it looks good on the Conservatives, on the people who voted Mike Harris's government in. Anyone who would vote for a Tory must know nothing of politics or they're a crook. They're the only ones I know that lie right to your face and are always doing crooked deals for their own benefit, then they will literally laugh and smile at you on TV.

"I am serious when I say I am amazed some of them have lasted this long. The main problem is now we can't get rid of them until their full five-year term is up. It would take 20 years to straighten out the mess. I'd like to say lots, but I'd need a 900-page letter. Just take a look at these leaders some time."

This is sent to me by a constituent in Sault Ste Marie who is just beside herself or himself as to what they should do.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): It's not Local 2251, is it?

Mr Martin: No, it's not Local 2251; it's not one of those people you so easily write off as an interest group or big union. It's an ordinary person out of Sault Ste Marie, a working person who just is so concerned about what they see coming at them and how it's affecting them, their family members and their neighbours.


Here's another one:

"Dear Tony:

"My wife and I are writing this letter to thank you and your friends of the Legislative Assembly for all you are doing to fight the Mike Harris cuts to the people of Ontario. Here are our views on how the Harris cuts have hurt us.

"Before the cuts to welfare we were getting $912 per month, and after the cuts we're now getting $704 per month, but the cost of living for each month has not gone down. Instead, it has gone up. It takes every dime I get each month to feed my family. I have no money left to buy clothes, so can Mr Harris tell me how it is that he believes that people on welfare are doing so well?

"I myself have worked from the age of 13. I am now 42 years old and I had to go on welfare because the company I worked for closed in the year 1991 because of the GST. So I took on work anywhere I could find it for wages lower than minimum wage just so that I could feed my family.

"I went back to school to get my grade 12 diploma, plus I took food out of the mouths of my family just so I could upgrade my driver's licence to obtain my DZ licence in order to find work. I had to pay for this out of my own pocket. I didn't get any help from the government. So I'm asking you, sir, to ask Mr Harris: Where are all the jobs his government promised? I've done everything I could do to prepare myself for these jobs, so where are the jobs?

"I don't want to be on welfare. I want to work. But there are no jobs in the Sault, Mr Martin. I'm sorry that I had to write this letter to you, but I can't sit back and watch the Harris government rip this province apart.

"My wife and I watch the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on TV every day starting at 1:30 pm, and we understand the fight that you and your friends of the people of Ontario are having with the government side of the House. But I have to ask these few questions about the health care system:

"(1) My wife has to take five or six prescriptions every month for her asthma, and now I'm going to have to pay for these. She has severe asthma.

"(2) I had to take my wife to the hospital suddenly one weekend not too long ago to see the doctor on call, and he ordered a chest X-ray at 6 am, but they only had one person on call at the time to do the job. The chest X-ray was done around 9 am, because the person had to look after two hospitals. So what kind of health care system do we have in Ontario?

"This next question is for Mike Harris: Who do you work for, the people of Ontario or the people of America?

"PS: My wife and I would like to say thanks to the following: Mr Tony Martin, Mr Bud Wildman, Mrs Frances Lankin," it says here, "Mrs Lyn McLeod, Mrs Elinor Caplan and Mr Gerry Phillips for all the hard work and long hours you have put in to help the people of Ontario to fight this government."

I have got a whole whack of these and I could go on, but I know there are others in the House who want to speak tonight on this bill because they feel equally concerned about the condition of this province as we continue to deal with and have to come to terms with legislation such as this that says one thing, that builds us all up in Ontario to expectations that are beyond all belief, and then drops us flat: nothing, absolutely nothing, particularly nothing for the working men and women of this province and those who are most in need.

There was mention made in this letter as well about the fact that in the Common Sense Revolution, during the election, this government promised that they would create, I believe it was, 750,000 jobs.

Mr Spina: It was 725,000.

Mr Martin: They said they would create 725,000 jobs. I'm told there are in fact a few that have been created, and I'll tell you we're thankful for that and we're hoping there will be more, but it is nowhere close to the 725,000. If you continue at the pace you're going, the 100 here or 1,000 there that's been going on for the last year, you won't even come close at the end of your term to creating those kinds of jobs.

I know from my own experience in Sault Ste Marie that all we've seen so far is a slashing and a cutting of jobs. In Sault Ste Marie already we've lost between 400 and 500 jobs, and that's not to speak of the multiplier effect, the jobs that are lost in the retail sector because those people are no longer buying the goods they normally would.

We expect in Sault Ste Marie, by way of this study that we've done, that if at one end none of the tax break money that people are expecting is spent in Sault Ste Marie, we will lose over 1,700 jobs, and that's a conservative figure. If all of the money that people get back by way of the tax cut is spent, we will still lose between 650 and 700 jobs, full-time equivalents, in Sault Ste Marie.

Some people may see that as a good thing. I have a hard time figuring that one out. I have a hard time figuring out what else you have to offer the people of Ontario besides a cutting of the public service sector jobs that so many people looked forward to participating in. I know of all kinds of people I went to school with or who are going to school now -- I think of my own four kids, who dream of one day maybe becoming a teacher or a nurse or a doctor, but there is no longer in Ontario the kind of opportunity that was here even a year ago in those areas, and so they're concerned, they're worried. They don't know what they should be doing in preparing for their future. They hear about the 725,000 jobs, but they don't know what those jobs are going to be in, they don't know what kind of industry is going to be coming at us that we can participate in, so they don't know what kinds of courses to be taking.

I remember last year I had two students come here from Humber College to speak to me. it happened to be at the same time as we were doing estimates and the Minister of Education was in front of us. They were halfway through a social work program at that college and they wanted to know, given the reality that had already begun to unfold, which was the downsizing of the public service, which meant there would be less need for people with a social service training background, if they should continue and complete that course. They wanted to know, if they decided not to continue and complete that course, what other course they should be taking. The minister couldn't tell them. He gave them a lecture on how it was imprudent to be spending money today that the children of tomorrow would have to make up for.

I don't think there's anybody who isn't concerned about the finances of this province, but the question we have to ask is, are we going to make the children of today suffer so the children of tomorrow can have a better future? Does it make any sense to be trading one off against the other? That seems to be the order of the day, though, in Harris Ontario. We trade one group of people off against another, we set one group of people up against another group of people, and at the end of the day what we have really is an exercise where, I suggest to you -- I may be wrong, and I have to tell you, given that you're going to be government for the next three or four years, that I hope I am wrong -- the only people in this province who will be better off at the end of the day, given the agenda that is unfolding in front of us and that is happening to us in this province, will be the richest among us. All the figures are showing us, all the facts that we look at, all the data that are being collected are telling us, that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Even those in the middle class, who used to consider themselves fairly well off, who used to be confident that they would have a future that would speak about quality of life and dignity and opportunity for themselves and their children, are beginning now to question that, because they see more and more of their friends falling off the wagon, and that's where we're going.

Again, I return to this package of legislation that we have in front of us here today. This red tape initiative that is going to be the elixir that will allow for business in this province to get on with what it does best, this fix that will see government get out of the faces of business in Ontario, I suggest to you is going to be a big disappointment to a whole lot of people once they get a chance to get their teeth into it and begin to look at it a bit, because there's nothing here. There's nothing here for anybody. If there is and if it's consistent with everything else that you've done in the 12 months you've had as government, it will end up, I am sure, to be more in the interests of those who have, of those who run the companies, who own the companies, who are rich in this province, and not in the interests of those who actually do the work, those who actually are most important, given any investment in this province and any potential this province has to compete in a global economy out there in a way that speaks to quality of life and dignity for human beings and all those things we have all held so sacred over the many years we've lived and worked together in community in this province.


I will end there, although, as I said, I have other letters here that I could read that would very clearly say to you and to the folks in this House that the people out there are catching on. The people out there are beginning to realize and to understand what it is that you're about. It's been a year now. That's not a long time, but in the life of a person who lives from day to day on the now 21.6% less income than they had less than a year ago, a year is a long, long time, but they know. They know. They're catching on and they will be asking you some very tough questions and I suggest that you might want to be thinking about what you're doing as you leave this place in a few days to go for summer holidays. I hope that you will take some of that time to walk out in the streets of the communities that you come from and that you take some time to talk to some people and that you hear them as they tell you of their concerns, of their fears, of their anxieties and what it is that they feel would be in their best interest for you to do as government.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): I'd like to respond a bit to the member for St Catharines and the member for Sault Ste Marie. They're both quite correct that this first go at red tape reduction is somewhat like an attack on Fibber McGee's closet: we are opening the door and getting rid of a lot of useless, non-functioning rules and regulations. But I'd also like to restate that the first principle espoused in the Red Tape Review Commission is that this government is committed to protecting the environment, community standards, health and safety. It's going to be very difficult for the opposition to appreciate that you can really eliminate excess, whether it be in regulation or rule-making, without compromising these principles. I know it's going to come very difficult for them to understand, but it's possible. A lot of businesses and a lot of institutions have figured out how to survive without an awful lot of regulation as long as they keep their eye on the ball, which is to protect the value system upon which this society is based.

The reg review in Bill 66 is kind of simplistic. All it's trying to do is standardize some approval processes. It's trying to eliminate some duplication. It's trying to establish some national standards on the subject of evaluating the toxicity and the danger of various chemicals and pesticides and it will lead to simplifying the process so that one agency, namely the federal government, will vet these processes and establish whether or not they're safe and what precautions are required and it will facilitate the use of these chemicals by the people who need them -- the farmers, principally. Right now, we are competing against products in the States that are treated with these chemicals and we have no options. So simplicity, modernization is going to help make it user-friendly.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I'd love to rise in debate and rebut the comments from the member for Sault Ste Marie but I think we have some rules in this House where you're supposed to speak to the bill during debate, and since the member didn't remotely do that, if I rebutted him, Speaker, you'd tell me to sit down because I wouldn't be talking about the bill, so I'm going to try to talk a little bit about Bill 67, which is one of the bills in question. I'm going to talk about Bill 67, which is An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Health.

Members opposite tried to make everyone at home worry about new fees, but this bill has no new fees whatsoever for the health care consumer. One of the things that it does do, admittedly, is transfer -- instead of cabinet having to approve some licensing fees, for instance, for long-term care facilities and ambulance operators, after it goes through all the bureaucracy and through the political staff and gets all these approvals and the minister finally approves it and it's gone through all this delay and time-wasting, now the minister, once he gets it and approves it, that's good enough, and I think that's important. I think that's common sense for the people at home and that's a good part of this bill.

What else does it do? It eliminates requirements for ministerial approval for routine decisions by institutions. For instance, the home for the aged previously had to get ministerial approval for the appointment of administration or a doctor who was going to be at the home for the aged, and we're saying that's no longer necessary, that these institutions are mature enough to do this on their own.

It eliminates the requirement for cabinet approval for routine decisions by institutions. Another example here is that the bylaws of the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation took over three months to be approved in the past, but now we'll be able to approve them much quicker because the minister will be able to do this without going to cabinet.

Ms Lankin: I actually think that the member was speaking about the bill and in fact he was addressing the very fact that this series of bills, which purports to be about streamlining, purports to be about elimination of red tape, purports to be about getting it easier for business to do their business and to concentrate on their business and therefore grow jobs, has got noting to do with that whatsoever.

The member read out a letter from a constituent which said very clearly, asking the government: "Where are the jobs? Where are the 725,000 jobs that you promised?" Let's look for them. The germ that's going to grow and create these jobs, where is it in this bill? I don't know. Let me look through.

Here's one: "The amendment to the Victims' Right to Proceeds of Crime Act corrects a reference to the Public Guardian and Trustee Act which currently refers to the Public Trustee Act." Heck of a lot of jobs in that one.

How about this one? "The South African Trust Investments Act: With the end of apartheid in South Africa, the reason for the act no longer exists." True. Lots of jobs in that, though, eh? We're really going to get a lot of jobs there.

How about this? "The McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act: It removes the requirement to obtain ministerial approval before hiring" -- maybe there's a job here -- "or removing a director of the collection." Oh well, we could get one job or we could lose one job. Where are the jobs? I don't know.

Then there's the bill that will eliminate reference to the regional ministry offices in signage repair etc. Why? Because we closed these regional offices and these amendments eliminate the regulation concerning the types of signs that have to be posted in the regional office. Lot of jobs in that one, let me tell you.

The bottom line is, this has got nothing to do with making it easier for business to do business in Ontario. This has got a lot to do with bureaucracy in the government. It's not harmful in any way, but it's not helpful.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It's very important for people to assess the general direction of this government, to know what's happening in general terms with deregulation, because it does come down, after all, when hundreds and hundreds of laws are being removed at a rapid rate, as to whether or not this government can be trusted with those kinds of measures.

We learned today again in committee with similar bills but more encompassing, with Bill 54, that this is not something that the public should stand by and let happen sanguinely, because with Bill 54, over $9 million of government revenue is being given back to people in industry. We find that that deregulation, done in the name of efficiency and in the name of making government better, instead has turned out to be gifts ranging from $2.7 million to $3.4 million to various industry associations, some of which think they can do a better job with it; many of whom think they'll simply give it back to industry. So we have a $9-million hole created in the name of self-regulation, in the name of deregulation, of making government work better.

I think we have to learn that in many, many cases this government doesn't mean what it says when it's talking about bills, even ones that purport to be about simple procedures. In this instance the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and it's important I think that we relate to him; he's here at this hour -- and to really have them appreciate that we have given up a tremendous amount of consumer protection. Every time we do things in politics there are tradeoffs and we want to weigh the balances, but in this case we've given away consumer protection in the sense of any control on the part of elected officials in government. We've given the majority of these boards away to individual associations covering motor vehicles, covering a number of things, and all in the interest of deregulation, the same thing the red tape bills are supposed to be addressing. At the same time what we get back is absolutely nothing, and apparently not even the knowledge of this government that it was giving $9 million away.

So there's a caution about the whole process that this government is entering into that I think the public has to be very aware of and realize even innocuous-seeming measures have to be looked at in this way.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Sault Ste Marie has two minutes.

Mr Martin: I have to say I couldn't agree more than I do with the comments of the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the comments of the member for York South, because this is in fact just another in the litany of initiatives by this government to either do one of two things, set up a smoke-and-mirrors exercise or even more fundamentally disturbing and challenging and dangerous, which is a redistribution of wealth. Everything that this government is about and has done is about taking from the poor and giving to the rich, everything, and as life unfolds, I suggest to you we will see this more and more. There was 21.6% taken away from the poorest among us re their income. We had three people freeze to death on the streets of Toronto this winter, and what did we hear from this government? Did you hear anything? Nothing. Absolutely nothing, not a peep, not an inquiry, not a question about, "Oh, why did that happen? What is it that we're doing? Nothing? Something?" Who knows? We were on the verge of an outbreak of -- what was the disease that we found on the streets of Toronto this winter because of the lack of food? TB. We were on the verge of an outbreak of TB and we don't know where that's going to end up yet, and anybody who knows about that disease knows that it happens in an environment of poverty and homelessness.

Let me just, in wrapping up, read this letter for you.


Mr Martin: They can't handle it.

"Dear Tony:

"Thank you for your letter. I feel very strongly about this...in fact, I have already written Mike Harris about it..."

"In Sault Ste Marie last winter, a young woman died literally metres away from a home for young women that was closed down by your government. You are literally killing people in this province."

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Thank you very much.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): You are so ignorant. You're an idiot.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Oh, Speaker, did you hear that?

The Acting Speaker: I didn't hear that. Further debate, please.

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Je dois apporter quelques commentaires concernant trois des huit projets de loi qui sont discutés ce soir, dont le projet de loi 61 sur la Commission de révision de l'évaluation foncière, le projet de loi sur le tourisme et le projet de loi sur le patrimoine.

Ce qui m'inquiète actuellement sur la modification apportée au projet de loi 61 c'est non seulement le fait que les registrateurs régionaux sont supprimés et aussi que la Commission n'est plus tenue d'affecter un greffier à chaque audience.

What I'm concerned with at the present time is the fact that we have told the Assessment Review Board office in Ottawa not only the fact that the employees will move or offer to be moved to Toronto, it's the fact that now we have to wait three and six months to be heard. In our county, Prescott and Russell, especially ever since the landslide at Lemieux way back in 1993, there have been over 300 applications for revision. The 300 applications for the appeal of their assessment was sent to Toronto by the Ontario revenue office of Cornwall because there's a dispute there. There was a major landslide of 75 acres of land, forestland, into the river. The roads were completely eliminated. The people appealed their assessment and the revenue office from Cornwall has reduced their assessment by 50%, but the municipality appealed the position of the revenue office.

Now the whole thing has to go to the Assessment Review Board, which just lately was moved to Toronto. I agree at times we have to centralize, but in this case --

Mr Stockwell: We have to clean that up.

Mr Lalonde: I know, Chris, you are in favour of reducing the cost. Everybody is in favour of reducing the deficit, but in this case, it was not the fault of all the residents if there was a major landslide. In this case, I would say the user fees should not apply. Really, the government should help those people because you just can't sell those properties and those people have to pay taxes, but the fact that it's been held up at the Assessment Review Board -- there's no decision that can be made until the cases are heard. So I don't know how long it is going to take yet, but having to move the Assessment Review Board to the Toronto centre has no sense really in there.

The other point that I want to discuss is the heritage. Je crois que le patrimoine de l'Ontario est très important par respect pour nos aînés, les fondateurs de notre province, de notre pays. Je me rappelle du temps de William Davis. Il avait décidé de reconnaître tous les sites historiques de la province. Je me rappelle à Rockland W.C. Edward ; le parc qui est nommé en son honneur aujourd'hui, le parc du moulin, a été reconnu par le gouvernement conservateur du temps.

Mais le fait que nous allons réduire de 21 à 12 les membres du bureau de direction, je crois qu'on va définitivement oublier le secteur rural. Il est très important aujourd'hui de reconnaître les sites historiques, les sites de patrimoine, pourrait-on dire, les édifices. Lorsque nous voyageons en Europe, par exemple, souvent nous sommes portés à visiter ou nous nous arrêtons visiter les églises, par exemple. Sans la reconnaissance de ces sites comme étant sites historiques, je crois que nous allons procéder à la démolition. Le fait que nous avions 21 membres qui étaient répartis à travers la province aidait définitivement le gouvernement provincial à reconnaître ces endroits comme étant des sites historiques.

Aujourd'hui, avec la réduction, je crois que nous allons réduire les coûts, mais je crois que nous aurions pu prendre une autre approche. Au lieu de réduire le nombre de directeurs sur les bureaux de direction de 21 à 12, nous aurions pu négocier avec ces gens-là qui étaient sur place ou les personnes nommées à ces postes pour réduire les coûts de transport, les coûts de participation lorsqu'on assiste aux réunions.

I think it's very important that at this time that we are going to reduce the number of board members from 21 to 12 -- I'm worried at the present time with the fact we're doing that. I was just saying that when you visit in Europe, you visit old churches, you visit old schools, historical sites, and that board was established to make sure that we protect the heritage. Very often, it helps us to recognize what our grandparents have done, the founders of our country have done, but by eliminating a number of board members I think very often we'll forget about what had happened in the rural area.

L'autre domaine que je veux toucher c'est le domaine du tourisme. Nous allons implanter des frais d'utilisateurs. Nous reconnaissons que l'industrie touristique est la quatrième industrie majeure dans notre province. The tourism industry employs over 272,000 people a year, just in the tourism area. The revenue from the tourist sector is over $17 billion. I really feel that we should do anything, as much as we can do, to attract tourists in Ontario. We know that the tourism industry is not like it used to be three or four years ago. We have closed offices in Europe. We are not doing the publicity that we should do in Quebec.


Just the other day I was down here and there was a group from France visiting Queen's Park, the Legislative Building. The lady who came from Quebec here as a tour guide, the question that was asked to me and my colleague Ben Grandmaître from Vanier was, how many francophones do we have in Ontario? We have over 550,000 francophones in Ontario. But it's not only the fact that she didn't know how many francophones there were in Ontario -- because you have to remember, more and more tourists are coming from France to Ontario. There's a reason, because of the Canada-France organization that exists. But the lady who was the tour guide, she immediately said, "The majority of francophones in Ontario live in the Windsor area." Immediately it shows that the people from Quebec don't know much about Ontario, about the francophone sector or about the francophone community.

If we are to implement user fees in tourist areas such as parks -- and in my riding I have the Parc du voyageur at the entrance of Quebec to Ontario, just off Highway 417 -- if we are to increase the fees at that park, I'm pretty sure that we won't get the number of tourists that we get from Quebec in that area. Quebec tourists are very important for the Ontario economy. We have to spend a little more in Quebec to let them know in Ontario that we are ready to accept them with open arms. This is money that they will inject into the economy of Ontario.

But when I looked at this Bill 65 that will give the authorization to the minister to implement user fees, I really feel that we should pay attention where we are going to have the user fee, where it is for tourism. We have to do everything to attract tourists. If we are to increase the fees, we will not attract tourists.

Donc, je crois que c'est très important pour nous, le tourisme en Ontario, qui embauche plus de 272 000 personnes par année dans le secteur. Le tourisme injecte dans l'économie de la province plus de 17 milliards de dollars par année. Si nous procédons avec l'implantation de frais d'utilisateurs tels que dans le Parc du voyageur à l'entrée de l'Ontario en venant du Québec, je crois que la mise en place de frais d'utilisateurs, leur augmentation, va définitivement éloigner le tourisme ici-même en Ontario.

I am pleased to speak on those matters and I'm pretty sure that the government will take this seriously when we talk about tourism, when we talk about heritage and also when we talk about the Assessment Review Board. Those are all points or subjects that we should pay attention to, because the Assessment Review Board, the fact that we have moved it to Toronto, the rural people will have to pay the note whenever it comes time to get the service.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Questions or comments?

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I would like to thank my friend across the way, the honourable member for Prescott-Russell, for his comments. As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, I wish to address my remarks specifically to his comments respecting the Ontario Heritage Foundation.

Indeed, it was the members of the boards such as the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Science North who asked us to have the ability to have greater control over some of the facets of their management, including the size of their boards, which they found to be unmanageable, quite frankly. So I want to assure the honourable member that those who are involved in the Ontario Heritage Foundation are quite convinced that the board is now more manageable, that they have the flexibility to do their jobs better on behalf of the people of Ontario.

I think one of the things we've learned in Ontario over the past 10 years is that bigger is not necessarily better, that we don't get better public policy merely by putting more members on the boards or creating more agencies, boards and commissions. We have learned, perhaps, that throwing money at problems does not indeed create the solutions; in fact, it creates greater problems than those that were originally envisaged by the public policymakers.

We, as politicians, have to do our job to exercise some restraint. It's always so easy to say, "Gee, there's a problem out there; let's go out and fix it, as government," but sometimes government doesn't have the solutions; sometimes we have to work with the private sector partners, with community leaders, with volunteers and with the activists in the community to find the real solutions to the problems. I think that's what this bill is all about, if I may say so to the honourable member for Prescott and Russell. This bill is to empower some of the volunteer sectors, some of the people who are active in their communities, to do their jobs better and thereby make better public policy for Ontario.

Mr Bradley: Actually what this bill is about is an abandonment of the responsibility of the provincial government in many key areas except for the area to set new fees and to give yet newer and more powers to individual ministers. I think that's one of the problems the member for Prescott and Russell has identified in his remarks this evening. We have a bill, while disguised in a name which sounds very attractive -- and that was exposed somewhat by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the name and how it was not anything about creating new jobs. What it is, is creating something new, and that's going to be new fees and additional fees that will be imposed upon the people of this province. They will be what you would call taxes.

My friend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is here tonight and actively listening to the debate. He would know, because he's heard his leader, the Premier of this province, say that a user fee is in effect a tax. He applauded when Mr Harris, who was then the leader of the third party, stated that; I applauded him. I was very enthusiastic about that statement. I knew when Mr Harris became the Premier that we would not see user fees imposed. I was very confident of that, and I know my friend the member for Carleton was very confident of that. Alas, I look at this legislation, and what does it do? It gives individual ministers an opportunity, the right, to hike fees without anybody else knowing about it.

I know the minister will be concerned about this aspect. As a cabinet minister, he will have control only over the fees under the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. There will be no more orders in council on many of these fees. So he won't be able to have his input to stand up for the consumers of this province, as the mandate of his ministry suggests, the way he stood up for the consumers over gas prices in this province.

Mr Spina: I was pleased to hear the member for St Catharines indicate he had confidence in the now Premier during the election campaign. I only trust that he cast his vote our way.

This legislation will eliminate red tape in the operation of some of the tourist agencies. As a PA in economic development, it is our intention to reduce those regulations in tourist establishments because a number of these agencies and tourist establishments operate under legislation that requires that fees and forms be set by regulation. In particular, we're amending the Historical Parks Act, the Ontario Place Corporation Act, the St. Clair Parkway Commission Act and the Tourism Act to simplify the process for setting fees and prescribing forms.

This is consistent with the recommendations of the Red Tape Review Commission to reduce the barriers, because they say that user fees, as the member for Prescott and Russell was stating, are what will cause a reduction in tourism, but the reality is that tourism is reduced when they see the word "tax." They don't have a problem paying a fee for entrance to a park. Let them have the authority. Those who run the parks and those who run the tourist facilities want the option. They do not want government dictating their fees.

You want to know about job creation in this province: 76,000 net jobs from last July until this past May, net new jobs in this province. Furthermore, the high-technology sector in Ottawa, as another area of employment, is hiring 40 new people a week. That is a wonderful piece of news because those are where the real jobs are being created in Ontario.


Mr Maves: The member for St Catharines did mention that this bill would be about getting out of some areas, and we are doing that in some areas of duplication.

I want to give you an example from Bill 67: the Cancer Remedies Act from the early 1930s, which was brought in to keep people who were travelling around with circuses and carnivals from selling miracle cancer remedies. There was never a prosecution ever since that act was brought in in the 1930s. It's not necessary. It's also a duplication because it's already covered under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

There are other acts that are already duplications like the War Veterans Burial Act, another one from the 1930s, which said municipalities had to pay $15 for a homeless war veteran's burial. Again, no one has paid out any money under this act for years and years. It's redundant and it's duplication because the federal Ministry of Veterans Affairs looks after this area.

There's one other one. In the early 1960s, the Hypnosis Act came in to govern who could conduct hypnosis in the province. Again, this is duplication because it's covered under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

We need to get rid of this duplication and the Ministry of Health needs to continue to work with Mr Sheehan and his red tape committee to get rid of these duplications, to save money and to put that money into front-line services where it's needed. We've put $300 million more into health care because we streamlined in areas like this. The member for St Catharines-Brock and the member for Lincoln worked very hard to get funding for MRI in St Catharines and I know the member for St Catharines supported that. That's all made possible by streamlining like this, finding efficiencies and putting everything into front-line services. Kidney dialysis is another area that we've been able to fund because we found these types of savings. That's what these acts are all about, finding the money, finding the savings, getting rid of the duplication and putting it into front-line services for better care for Ontario citizens.

The Speaker: The member for Prescott and Russell has up to two minutes to respond.

Mr Lalonde: First, I'd like to thank the honourable members for their input. At times, staff like to work with the least number of board members around the table, but I just want to bring to your attention that I'm glad at times there's no user fee when you pay a visit as a tourist in the farming community. I was just given a picture a little while ago by the Hansard reporter, Beth Grahame, of a visit -- I call it a tourist visit -- to the Speaker's farm not too long ago. We were glad that we didn't have to pay any fee to visit that beautiful farm. So I just thought of bringing this to your attention, Mr Speaker. I think it's your farm, too. This picture shows that the farming community is also a tourist attraction.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kennedy: I'd just like to make a brief comment about the regulations in question, the acts to streamline, purportedly, the business of this government. Instead, what we see are some threats in the sense of the directions that are being taken. While each of the measures is minor in nature, overall, as the member for Prescott and Russell earlier pointed out, they have a certain kind of character of not necessarily responding to logic.

One of the members opposite talked about working with the community. There's a lot of noise from the other side but very little substance on the idea of working with the community. Taking funds away from the various historic sites and the recreation facilities and Ontario Place and so on and then giving them the ability to impose what are not marketplace measures, but losing their public-purpose dollars and trying to recoup those in the marketplace, means a number of things, and one of the things it means is that fewer and fewer people in this province are going to be able to participate in some of the very things that public dollars over the years have created for people to enhance the quality of life in this province. By that, I mean simply, without any drama, the people who are the poorest in this province. Every user fee -- I think people just heard a bell go off; that was the 758th user fee being enacted in this province since this government has come to power -- is taking away some of the quality of life from people who have reduced means.

When we look at the strategies this government would purport to support in terms of people who are either unemployed or find themselves in difficult circumstances, they would wish for them a measure of self-reliance. Instead, at every corner, they are creating more and more barriers, whether it's within the school system in terms of the user fees that people find there or in terms of the simple recreation opportunities they have for their families.

You only have to look at the transit system and the bloody-minded consequences that have happened there. Every single time a new user fee is introduced, we see ridership go down. Then we see governments called upon to either bail out the system or the quality of the system being diluted. What we have there is a cycle that responds to no business insight but rather a simple-minded and I guess ideologically driven line of thinking that says, "As long as we take government money out of it, it doesn't matter whether the enterprise fails." I think we've seen a number of cases where the patient has died in terms of this government's experiments so far, and we expect that to be true in terms of the number of things that happen in terms of regulations.

The other thing this House needs to be aware of, and certainly the public needs to know, is that the government has not been taking due care. We hear much about red tape commissions and we hear many promises made and fancy titles attached, but really we've seen a big gap between the kinds of measures this government has done and what they're purported to accomplish.

I mentioned earlier, for example, the consumer deregulation that took place and the $9 million worth of government money that the minister in this House said would be a wash, but then his deputy minister in committee hearings later had to agree it was indeed $9 million.

In the instance of automobile dealers, for example, $600,000 was being spent by the ministry to regulate those automobile dealers, and now they'll be given self-regulation. They'll also take with that $3.2 million in fees that were collected from them. There is no assurance in the legislation or in the administrative agreements to follow that that will indeed be used to protect people who buy new and used cars. It's unfair not only to the public of this province that these kinds of measures be taken in such a wanton and reckless way, but it's unfair to the industries that are affected, because it casts an unnecessary aspersion on them in terms of people who are now given the majority of regulation and therefore can't command public confidence. Now it turns out they're being given $2.5 million worth of what used to be public money which will have to be taken somewhere out of the consumer and commercial relations budget, which means even less in consumer protection.

I think we find, in some of the single-mindedness of this government, errors that will take years and years to fix. But I'm sure this government will be comforted as it steps through some of these errors to know that there are willing members on this side of the House to fix those mistakes. We would encourage upon you any diversity of opinion, any diversity of outlook that would prevent some of these from taking place, because again, what's happening in terms of the deregulation that is trying to replace public interest activity with user fees is disenfranchising people.

For those of us who have the kinds of salaries that are being paid to members in this House, for those of us who have had careers or whatever that provide us with far above the basic standards of life, this is not an easy thing for us to have on our minds automatically, but it certainly is the case that for thousands of families around this province, every single extra user fee is a deduction in their quality of life.

Somewhere instead we have to start drawing a basic line under which we know the consequences of what happens when we impose these user fees. We're not saying to ourselves that $2, for example -- the price of a transit ticket in Metropolitan Toronto -- is actually enough to make people walk miles and miles to do simple things like their shopping and so on; it's inefficient. In other words, what we think is somehow making people self-reliant is actually putting up barriers, the thousand small cuts that really prevent people from actualizing their potential. We have a sophisticated society here that sometimes isn't recognized by the members opposite. We have to have arrangements, indeed from government at all, but just allowing people to maximize their potential, and that's what we're not finding in some of the single-mindedness that removes regulations.

We have found and we're finding, especially in recent months, that people are having to give up even the simplest things in their lives, not only transportation, but giving up telephones. To show a degree of non-partisanship, the federal sector has allowed phone rates to be increased on a domestic basis. If you could have captured the sound that created, it was the hangups all over the city as low-income people had to cancel their phone service. It's not an exaggeration; it's a simple fact that 35% of people, for example, in the former area I was involved in with food banks didn't have a telephone. When you consider that many of these are people who've worked all their lives, people who have university educations, people who've paid taxes most of the time in terms of their working lives and then find themselves in the kind of circumstance where they can't afford phones, you start to appreciate, you begin to understand what it means when you slap on user fees for things that we would like to believe are public attractions or things that we think add to the quality of life. Because what you start to do, just as the rent control legislation introduced today is about sentencing people to their own apartments, to have them stay in those places, so do deregulation and some of the red tape rules that add user fees limit the very existence that people have.


I think it's an effort that we have to ask the members on the opposite side to continue to make to try to find in these measures the impact that it's creating on the community, because every user fee has that impact. Not only is it not necessarily good for business in terms of some of the quasi-public bodies that we have trying to do their part to attract tourists into the areas where they exist to try to see those spinoff dollars created; it's a locus of efficiency -- at least it tries to be -- to try to see where those dollars need to be invested to try to help operators in those areas be able to employ people. If we raise those barriers too high, tourists and other discerning people will also find that it's something that they can't use, as the member for Prescott-Russell has made very clear.

I think that we will find also that in each of those things there's a certain base of local use. I think what we'll find in the campgrounds and the other places that are affected by user fees is that those facilities will find themselves less and less in use. What we have then is a net reduction in the quality of life, no real savings in terms of the money that's returned to support those facilities because we simply don't have at this time the assessment being made by the government opposite about how exactly is the best way to run these facilities. There hasn't been the time permitted, there hasn't been a way to get that done, and part of that is the blinkers that this government wears about the way to do things.

As we heard one of the members opposite earlier talking about how this is the only way for it to go, I think instead we need to take a more sophisticated approach to look at how government operation can be made to work better -- yes, eventually more effectively, but first of all to make better. When I heard the member talk about public groups or community groups, one of the things that community groups are finding is that the government is taking money away first and asking questions later.

I think one of the things I can tell, from my own involvement in community organizations, that this government needs to appreciate -- and I think it is important because obviously there's more and more work being done by community groups -- is that that simply is acting in the opposite way that the government would purport to intend. In other words, it's taking away from the ability of community groups to plan, to recruit volunteers, to really feel that they can make a difference in their community. If the government is interested in seeing that happen -- because there is a tremendous amount of goodwill out there, notwithstanding some of the disagreement that people have with the government's policies -- if the government would really like to see community groups respond in a way that enhances the quality of life in their community, then what we need to have from them is an appreciation that they simply can't be acting as unilaterally as they have been in terms of all manner of these things and still expect an increase in the quality of life in our community.

The Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Conway: I see the member for Scarborough wanted to perhaps make a request. So you're going to draw the line. Well, then I will take the opportunity to say a few things about the red tape bills.

At one level it's hard to be opposed to some of this, and I've heard a number of colleagues speak tonight about the need to clean up some of the loose ends that have been left around over the years and some instruments that are just simply not relevant or timely. And I think that's all to the good. I can't quarrel about that.

My friend Bradley and I were chatting earlier. Again, I haven't had a chance to check this, but I remember -- and I think this is in an auditor's report about six or seven years ago, I think we were in government, so it would be the late 1980s. I think the Provincial Auditor reported that at or around 1987 or 1988 we were still paying a hangman -- pardon the inelegance of that phrase -- though capital punishment and official hanging had ceased to be the law of the country for a period of 25 years. The Provincial Auditor told us that we were paying -- do you remember that, Mr Speaker? Can you imagine? That's just one that I can -- hangman --


Mr Conway: It was provincial. It was in a Provincial Auditor's report -- I'm sure I remember that -- that there was an amount of money, I don't think a great amount of money, but I thought, isn't that interesting?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Is he still around?

Mr Conway: No. You might agree that it was one of the few things that Ian Scott did, Normie, of which you might approve.

Hon Mr Sterling: We still have a QC.

Mr Conway: Oh, well, listen. I see the chancellor of the exchequer is at great pains to tell anybody, at least on paper, that he's a Queen's counsel, and knowing that he has spent long years in the courts of the district of Parry Sound and down at Osgoode Hall, I'm sure the silk came not by political connection but by dint of professional performance.

Hon Mr Sterling: Why is David Peterson still using QC behind his name?

Mr Conway: I think Peterson had -- you're absolutely right.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): So did Robert K. Rae.

Mr Conway: R.K. Rae? Well, there are some things that come with the brotherhood of Cecil Rhodes, and surely QC is the least of those honours. After the weekend I think Brother Rae, I say to my friend Stockwell, deserves and requires our solicitous goodwill and more.

The point I make is that 25 years after capital punishment was outlawed by the Parliament of Canada we had on the books and on public accounts an obligation to pay an official hangperson, hangman or whatever; it's an awful phrase. I don't know -- the chief executioner. I forget the phrase and I forget who made it; perhaps the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

I thought they made a good point. We have aspects of public administration that need review, and I for one, on behalf of the good burghers of Renfrew, support a timely review of out-of-date regulations or antiquated payments such as the one I've mentioned. It's amazing -- I shouldn't say it's amazing, but it strikes me as quite impressive, notwithstanding the fact that 130 of us are paid to be here and to hound-dog the public accounts -- that these bits and pieces continue to exist. I sometimes think in my next life, when I'm not an elected official, there will be --

Mr Stockwell: What?

Mr Conway: Well, my pension's gone, my pay's cut, I say to my friend Stockwell.

Mr Stockwell: Oh, you'll teach at the university.

Mr Conway: No, no. I couldn't live on that salary, I can tell you. I can just imagine the places across the waterfront of government regulation where I might want to launch a personal attack. I spend a fair bit of time these days doing my constituency work and it's extraordinary, the kinds of things you run into on a regular basis.

There are a number of newly elected members who come from the bar -- that is the legal bar, Normie, tonight -- and from business, and I understand entirely the frustration that must attach to trying to do business and work your way through the maze of government regulations. It's bad enough to do it in Toronto, but to do it at Westmeath or Palmer Rapids in my part of the province where, if you can get the government line, then you get voicemail and the rest, Harry, is just very frustrating.

One has to agree, and I certainly agree, with that part of this policy that seeks to remove these irritations from the taxpaying public and also to revise from time to time the statutes of the province consistent with new technology, a new outlook and a new political culture. I want to talk about the political culture in a moment.

I want to separate myself somewhat from my friend Mr Bradley and from Ms Lankin who spoke earlier. I'm not one of these people who decries on principle the adjustment of fees. We live in a real world. Fees are going to be increased. The New Democrats did it, the Liberals did it and the Tories will do it. I think it is a fair point to remind Mr Harris, who among his many and several extravagant promises went on, as was observed earlier tonight, to say that a fee increase is just a tax increase by another name. I'm not going to say much more about that than simply to repeat the point others have made, but anybody who knows anything about the real world in which we live knows that fees are going to be adjusted from time to time.

In an earlier exchange tonight, Bradley and the deputy deputy Deputy Speaker, the member for Perth, were talking about OHIP. McKeough's mistake back in 1978, having done nothing to adjust OHIP premiums I think for about four or five years after the 1977 election returned a second consecutive minority Parliament, was that he in one fell swoop increased the premiums by 37.5%.

Hon Mr Sterling: It was only 17% or 18% of their costs.


Mr Conway: Oh, Normie, give me a break.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): It was paid for by the taxpayers.

Mr Conway: My point is that he let five years go by with no increase and then increased in one fell swoop. That was the political mistake. I say to my friend from Manotick, give OHIP premiums a look. What matter for any of us here? I never paid the bloody thing. I suppose it was a taxable benefit; that was the part of that argument I always liked, all the bloody members of the Legislature making it. We didn't pay it directly. Her Majesty paid it on our behalf.

A better example was that all those people in the direct or indirect public sector had a spouse getting coverage, so they were all on the gravy train. Poor old Danford's farmers up in Hastings, oh no, they got to pay it; they paid the whole bloody shot. But there were a whole bunch of members of the Legislature in here beating their breasts, saying, "Oh, well, isn't it -- " You know, if we paid it ourselves I might have been a little more respectful of the argument.

My point, to come back to it, was a 37.5% increase in one whack. I think even the redoubtable member for Carleton would have, in his Napoleonic way, done battle had he been in opposition --

Hon Mr Sterling: What did he say?

Mr Conway: You should have been here when Grossman and Sterling were together. Had Gilbert and Sullivan seen that performance, we would have had something we really could have played before sell-out audiences.

There are going to be fee increases, and it's easy politics for me or anyone else to say, "Isn't it terrible?" These fees are going to be increased. I think the people I represent would expect fee increases to be sensible, understandable, defensible, and 37.5% was not defensible. I'm not here as some kind of caterwauling oppositionist to say, "Elect me and I'm not going to increase any fees." That's just not credible.

I note that this so-called package transfers to individual departmental ministers powers that previously had been vested in the cabinet as a whole. For those of you who have not been in cabinet, and I don't mean that to be as patronizing as it sounds, it's useful. Not all ministers, in my experience, are as politically sensitive as some others. One useful thing that Bradley did in our cabinet was that he tended to keep an eye on some of these fee increases. I think my friend from Manotick would probably agree it's -- what's the old adage? -- penny wise, pound foolish. Most people who have served in government will have some interesting war stories about modest increases on some accounts that produced a far greater political headache than more substantial increases elsewhere.

One interesting thing about cabinet government is that it forces the minister to come before colleagues, and you just never know; maybe the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has a view about something going on in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, or maybe the Minister of Finance has a view about something in the Ministry of Natural Resources because she will understand something about an impact in northern Ontario or downtown Toronto that will be rather lost on the overburdened minister, who may not have been properly briefed.

I remember when I was at education I was set up -- not set up; that's not a fair assessment. There was a little change around a fee that had a particularly disproportionate effect on northern Ontario, and nobody bothered to tell me. It was just lucky that I found out from a helpful soul in Timmins that if I did this there was going to be a regional explosion. It was a very useful thing to be told. That often happened in a cabinet setting where colleagues could say, "This is going to have" -- it's kind of like Bradley warning those of us who'd never been on a municipal council about the sinkhole that was the regulation of retail store hours. I hate to say it publicly, but he was more right than some of us ever wanted to admit. That is being changed here. The individual minister is being given more authority to make those changes, and if you are the kind of weather-vane politician like the current minister of consumer affairs, there will be no problem. But if you lack his resourcefulness and his sensitivity to the public mood, then the government of which you're a part might find itself somewhat besieged by -- remember John White? Remember the day that John White announced --

Mr Bradley: "Wear a sweater."

Mr Conway: "Wear a sweater." Well, I'll tell you, the Tory caucus of the day just about took -- John White was not a stupid man. He completely misread the impact of a measure, particularly on rural and northern folks, and I'd like to have been at that government caucus meeting, I'll tell you. He backed off. He backed off faster than Darcy McKeough backed off a few years later. I don't mean just to pick on my Tory friends, because those mistakes have been made by governments of all kinds. Part of the benefit of cabinet government is that before those kinds of apparently incidental and trifling matters are decided, a few other politicians whose job is to bring a political judgement to bear on those kinds of changes get to pass judgement, and smart politicians make sure that in the year leading up to an election there aren't going to be people out there in Brampton or St Catharines or Carleton county being reminded that fees are being increased noticeably.

I mentioned the other day, I got my motor vehicle registration renewal in the mail the other day and I have to check but, God, does that look like it is going through the roof. Sixty-six bucks for one year?

Hon Mr Jackson: Sixty-six bucks?

Mr Conway: Well, that's what mine says, or $132 for two years. I may have misread it.

Mr Flaherty: It's a big car.

Mr Conway: It's not a big one. It's a pretty basic piece of transportation. My only point, I say to the member for Durham Centre, is I'm going to do a little tracking. I'm going to just, say, take that car -- and for me to notice, I'm about the worst consumer I know. You don't want people like me making those judgements in an election year. I'm going to do a little check to see just what the history of that motor vehicle registration cost would be over, say, a 10-year period. But $132 for two years? That seems to be significant. I may be just losing my touch, but the point is you don't want those kinds of increases.

I see the Minister of Finance for Ontario, just to digress for a moment, went to Fredericton. Was I the only one who noticed the Minister of Finance for Ontario quoted in the public press the other day saying, "That Canada pension plan, I don't know," as to whether or not that death benefit, $3,750 worth of "subsidy," was an appropriate subsidy in this day and age. I suspect not very many people saw that, but it's that kind of thinking that, before it becomes policy, I suspect that people in cabinet and caucus would probably want to pass some judgement upon. Because, for example, if that little adjustment were to be made as public policy by the Ontario government, I have a feeling that in Sarnia and in Hastings and in Hamilton the phones would start to ring rather quickly when the local chapter of the AARP figured out that $3,750 worth of benefit provided under the Canada pension plan was going to be discontinued.

Speaking about our friend the minister of consumer protection, who is here tonight, at the rate he's going he's going to have no job at all. No greater bravery hath any politician than to organize and vote for his own redundancy, and I must say to my friend Mr Sterling that the red tape review panel looks like it is on its way to making the ministry of elevators and boiler inspections --

Mr Bradley: Amusement devices.

Mr Conway: Normie, are you still responsible for the stuffed articles act?

Hon Mr Sterling: Oh, yes. Every time I look over at Bradley, I think of it.

Mr Conway: That's not a bad line, Normie, at this time of the night.

Mr Bradley: Don't ask him what he thinks of amusement devices, though.


Mr Conway: I was looking at that. There's an interesting article I was reading, as I do quite frequently, in the Cardoza review about the regulation of amusement devices. In my infirmity here, I can't seem to find it. Here it is, a very interesting article in the Cardoza Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, volume V, 1986: a fascinating article about the regulation of the amusement industry in the United States. It turns out not to be particularly relevant to the discussion tonight, although it's an interesting look at the whole question of regulation.

I know I'm probably stretching it a bit, but this red tape review panel is just right out of Washington. When I heard the redoubtable member for Lincoln launch his campaign, I thought, God, it's a peculiar mix of Al Gore and Newt Gingrich. In fact, the nomenclature is just remarkably plagiarized. It's just chapter, paragraph, phraseology out of Washington within the last few years and, to be fair, not exclusively Republican, because Mr Gore, the current Vice-President, had a mandate from President Clinton to do something of the same in the US federal administration. I find it interesting, particularly in the United States, because it is a very strong legacy of the Reagan era that there was just too much government: "We've got to back away. We've got to give the economy room to move and room to breathe."

I don't doubt, as I said earlier, that there are regulatory intrusions that are not very sensible and not very helpful, and using my hangman example of a while ago, in some cases totally beyond justification.

I want to just remind people, particularly those people who would argue, "Just let's back away; let the market decide" -- in fact, I listened with care to an earlier comment made by the member for Lincoln, the architect, the driver of the so-called red tape train. Those of you who follow American politics will remember one of the truly enormous scandals of the history of the American Republic. It's the savings and loan fiasco: hundreds of billions of dollars of, in the end, charges against the public purse of America, a total ripoff.

People wonder where regulation comes from. I'm not here to argue for strangling any economy with undue burden and undue regulation, but for people who want to talk about, "Let's just let a thousand flowers bloom; let's just lift the yoke of government regulation," I want people to remember the savings and loan. If I were an American taxpayer, I would want, as a minimum, a court martial.

. Mr Flaherty: Is it Bill Clinton?

Mr Conway: Actually, it's not Bill Clinton, I say to the member for Durham Centre, but it was the Keating Five. There were a number of very prominent senators --

Mr Flaherty: We'll see if the evidence comes out.

Mr Conway: I'm not talking about Whitewater. That's separate. I'm talking about the major part of -- the Resolution Trust Corp, you have a point. The situation with the Madison Guaranty business is a valid point. I think the book by Mr Stewart, Blood Sport, if you haven't read it, is a pretty serious indictment, probably more of Mrs Clinton than it is of the current President. Madison Guaranty was certainly not one of the major ones, although it was interesting in the Stewart book about Whitewater. There was an incredible figure, and I can't remember it, but in the Dallas office of the Resolution Trust Corp, which covered I think east Texas and Arkansas, a relatively small piece of south-central America, the obligations to the American treasury as a result of failed S&Ls was something like $55 billion. Unbelievable.

I'm not here arguing for intrusive government. My instinct now is just -- I won't use the phrase that one of my American friends uses, "Sue the" -- you just say, "I'm not paying; I am not, as a citizen of America, going to pay for the hundreds of billions of dollars." Because the crooks are all gone. Who pays the bill? I pay the bill as a taxpayer. I'm not talking about chicken-feed.

Mr Bradley: Where were the regulators in this instance?

Mr Conway: Where were the regulators? The member for Durham Centre makes a good point. If you haven't read Blood Sport, get it, because you'll probably feel even stronger in your point than you might realize. Where were the regulators? All I'm saying is that I don't want to pay. Don't stick me with the bill. The experience I've gotten in government is that the bills tend to end up on my doorstep, and they're often put there at a time, in a way and at a place where I can't do much about it. The fiasco, the mess is made, and now what are you going to do? Are you going to tell all of these defenceless people that there's no protection?

This business of deposit insurance is certainly another subject that, while it's not particularly germane to this, raises the question to another level. My point is that regulation is there for a public purpose. If you are one of those people who believes, "Just let the market go, let it work its magic and" -- I forget the phrase that the member for Lincoln used; it was quite a fetching phrase. But for those people who live in the real world, I don't know that it's going to solve all of the problems.

Again, to use an American example, how many of you have been following the recent post-mortem about ValuJet? I saw in the New York Times yesterday that the former chairperson of the Federal Aviation Administration had some delicious -- that's the wrong word -- had some not very good things to say about what was going on with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): They all have hindsight.

Mr Conway: But 110 people are dead.

Mr Ford: I realize that, but it takes one nasty accident to have hindsight.

Mr Bradley: Where were the regulators? That's the whole question. You want to get rid of the regulators? That's what happens.

Mr Ford: The FAA wasn't doing its job.

Mr Conway: Fair enough, but -- and this is not a criticism of the current government, because it wasn't its doing -- what do you think people feel like when they watch on the nightly news that trucks are rolling down the highway and tires are flying off and you've got OPP people saying, "This is really getting bad"? There is a connection that some people make between deteriorating safety and deregulation of the trucking industry.

I'm listening to my friend the Minister of Transportation and watching the Canadian and American news. I must say it is not an especially comforting thought to me, because I spend so much time on the highway, to hear these reports. It may be an isolated incident.

Interestingly, in the American literature there is a new book by a professor of business at the Harvard Business School looking at regulation and deregulation in four American sectors: airlines, natural gas and a couple of others I can't remember. It's quite recent. He comes to some rather interesting conclusions, that both regulation and deregulation produced some rather unintended results.

Mr Ford: And volume.

Mr Conway: Well, I haven't done the work, but it's an interesting piece of work from one of the most distinguished business schools in the world and it deals with the question of regulation and deregulation.

My observation is that there is a public interest, and we have an obligation to make sure that the public interest is protected by timely and efficient regulation. Some of what is contained in this package seems to be entirely sensible.

But let me come back to one specific point in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It relates to something I was saying earlier tonight about another bill we dealt with, Bill 59. We were talking about automobile insurance. I'm not any expert, but with the minister here, let me just make the point. The Motor Vehicle Repair Act is being changed and it's no longer going to be the case that the government of Ontario will dictate the size, the form and the style of signs that must be posted in a conspicuous place by automobile repair shops for prospective customers.


On the face of it, that's not a great threat, but we all know, I presume, that there is no greater locus for fraud than in that business. I'm not saying they're all fraud artists, far from it, but who among us has not had the experience of taking our car into a repair shop and the first words -- I think Bradley said it earlier tonight -- the first question is: "Mr Sterling, are you paying or is insurance paying?" If you've got a vehicle like our illustrious Speaker, I can assure you the bill might vary by several hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars.

The point of changes made over the last few years was to try in the marketplace to put some discipline so that consumers would have some ability to bring pressures to bear against a not very healthy instinct that most of us have experienced.

I don't know whether this streamlining is going to do the following, but it would be very interesting to see whether or not the Bradley garage in downtown Virgil, Niagara region, might say, "I've got to meet the requirement, so I'm going to take my little sign and have a little, microscopic postcard back behind the acetylene torch over near the washroom." It's there. If you can find it, welcome to it. It'll give you all the relevant information. I don't know whether it's going to allow that.

My point is that the sanction in the Motor Vehicle Repair Act is, as I remember it, to try to give some reasonable consumer protection, to provide a counterweight to the natural instinct that unscrupulous dealers sometimes will not be able to resist, namely, "I'm going to stick it to good old Sterling because, even if he doesn't like it, he's going to have to pass that off to the consumer." Maybe I'm reading more into this than I should be.

Hon Mr Sterling: You are.

Mr Conway: I hope I am, but I'm from Missouri now, Normie. I don't necessarily just take the blandishments of cabinet ministers at face value, whether they're Tory, Liberal or New Democratic, because I've no reason to believe that the cabinet minister knows whereof he speaks. I know what he or she might intend, but whether you are delivering what you are promising is another matter.

Yes, let's clean away the cobwebs, let us streamline in ways that are sensible, but let us not buy into the notion that by simply throwing away most of these regulations we are going to have a better society because people, often with very significant, powerful commercial interests, are going to ever and always make judgements that are going to protect the public interest or give adequate weight to the interests of the consuming public.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Hon Mr Sterling: Because the member referred to my ministry I just want to respond to him in a brief manner because we're going on in time. With regard to his balance between written regulations and how to protect the public, these bills are put forward to try to balance our ability to enforce what we have in writing. In other words, there is no sense in asking itinerant sellers to register in this province if that cannot be practically done. We have determined and the Provincial Auditor has determined that it is not practical to do it under a province act, under a provincial authority, therefore we are wiping that out.

He talked about repair shops which in the past have been required to post signs to point out where the local Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations office is so that a consumer can go to that office and complain about a service he might or might not have received at that shop. Mr Conway, we're doing away with that because we no longer have local offices for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and haven't had them for some five, 10 or 15 years; I'm not sure how long.

That is why we're doing away with regulations. We're doing away with regulations because it is no longer practical to carry them out in terms of what is done here. If you can't do a good job of enforcing what regulations you have on the books, in my view you're better to take them off the books and not trick the consumer to think you can do something that you can't do.

For a lot of these regulations and laws we have passed the time when they are really relevant. Those are my responses to the member's speech this evening.

Mr Bradley: The member for Renfrew North made a compelling argument for the entire cabinet looking at the proposed fee increases and other changes that, as a result of this legislation, will be left in the hands of a single minister. He made reference to previous experiences in cabinet, and I well recall informing the Liberal cabinet how unwise it would be, when the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations was advocating an increase in birth certificate fees and what the ramifications would be for those who had children playing hockey, baseball, soccer or many other sports, as well as other people who required a birth certificate, because there were always those in the ministry who thought it was good idea to raise those funds so that somehow the ministry might be allowed to keep those funds if the ministry was able to gain this new revenue. The political wisdom of doing that was somewhat dubious, and I used to suggest to them that they would be picking an unnecessary fight for very little good reason.

My second comment is about the response of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to the member for Renfrew North when he said, "You don't have to worry about where the put the signs on the repair shop now because the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has no more local offices." I think we can project that first of all there will be no more Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and, second, there will be no more consumer protection left, and that is a very sad commentary. This is something which people in this province have wanted, and for the minister to suggest now that the signs are no longer necessary is I think a hint of the future, that his job will be gone and the ministry will be gone, and I lament both.

The Speaker: Any further questions or comments? The member has up to two minutes to respond.

Mr Conway: I want to say to the minister that on itinerant sellers you're absolutely right. I chose to not even engage the subject because you are so right that it doesn't need me to affirm the rightness of your cause there.

I noticed on my point about the Motor Vehicle Repair Act you raised the point, "Well, it's really because we don't have -- " I really don't care whether or not on the sign there's any reference to the ministry of consumer protection, personally; that's the least of my worries. My understanding of the obligation is that the sign, however, has got to give me as a consumer some useful information like labour costs and things that have to do with the posted rates of that place of business. That's what I care about, and if this provision basically --


Mr Conway: Listen, as a minister with a car and an Air Canada pass, I understand how these might not be major top-of-mind concerns for you today.

Hon Mr Sterling: I have neither.

Mr Conway: He has neither, and I am glad to hear that. My point in raising this is that if these slight changes allow a garage owner, for example, in some way to remove what previously was a requirement, a sign with some relevant consumer information -- it's kind of like going into the Brewers Retail and finding the posted prices. They're there if you can find them at the bloody back of the warehouse. That bloody sign -- you know, when I go to the Beer Store in Bancroft, I expect to see it where I see it, someplace where I can make reasonable use of its helpful information. That's my point. I don't expect, nor do I really even want, to know that I can phone the Honourable Norman Sterling. I have to look at that in every elevator I get into in the province now. I don't really worry about being able to call the minister of consumer protection, but I want to know that the consumer information is there and is not going to now be put off in some back corner.

The Speaker: Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 61. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Mr Sterling: Agreed.

The Speaker: Agreed.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 63.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjection: No, committee of the whole House.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 64.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjection: Committee of the whole.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 65. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 66.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 67.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 68.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

Mr Tsubouchi has moved second reading of Bill 69.

All those in favour will say "aye."

All those opposed will say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjections: No.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole.

It being past 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 0004.