Monday 15 February 1993

Insurance Statute Law Amendment Act, 1993, Bill 164


*Chair / Président: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln ND)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot ND)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford ND)

Caplan, Elinor (Oriole L)

Carr, Gary (Oakville South/-Sud PC)

Christopherson, David (Hamilton Centre ND)

Jamison, Norm (Norfolk ND)

Kwinter, Monte (Wilson Heights L)

Phillips, Gerry (Scarborough-Agincourt L)

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

Ward, Brad (Brantford ND)

Wiseman, Jim (Durham West/-Ouest ND)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot ND) for Mr Wiseman

Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L) for Mr Phillips

Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock ND) for Ms Ward

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC) for Mr Sterling

Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND) for Mr Christopherson

Klopp, Paul (Huron ND) for Mr Jamison

Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West/-Ouest L) for Mr Kwinter

Mancini, Remo (Essex South/-Sud L) for Mrs Caplan

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND) for Mr Ward

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND) for Mr Sutherland

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC) for Mr Carr

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Owens, Stephen, parliamentary assistant to the minister responsible for automobile insurance review

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud ND)

Clerk pro tem / Greffier par intérim: Carrozza, Franco

Staff / Personnel: Beecroft, Doug, legislative counsel

The committee met at 1317 in committee room 1.


Consideration of Bill 164, An Act to amend the Insurance Act and certain other Acts in respect of Automobile Insurance and other Insurance Matters / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances et certaines autres lois en ce qui concerne l'assurance-automobile et d'autres questions d'assurance.

The Chair (Mr Ron Hansen): Good afternoon. The standing committee on finance and economic affairs is meeting this week on Bill 164, An Act to amend the Insurance Act and certain other Acts in respect of Automobile Insurance and other Insurance Matters. If anybody's got any questions or points of order before we start proceeding with the bill on clause-by-clause -- Mr Tilson.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Yes, Mr Chairman, I have several questions and points of order. My question is one we seem to ask every time we meet in this room: Why are we meeting in this room? We had agreed with the resources committee, the committee that deals with OTAB -- this is resources.

The Chair: No, this isn't resources, it's finance and economics.

Mr Tilson: The committee that's dealing specifically with OTAB is meeting in room 151 and we had, as I understand it, agreed initially -- several weeks ago, at least -- that we would continue to meet in that room. We did agree with them and finally the two subcommittees concurred and we adjourned to room 151.

Because of the interest that's been expressed in auto insurance around this province on this particular bill, Mr Chairman, we had proceeded with public presentations in room 151 and I think it would be appropriate that we continue to meet in that room.

I did take an opportunity to speak to the Chairman of that committee, Mr Kormos, and Mr Kormos indicated he personally had no objection with this committee meeting in room 151. I've also spoken to the representative from the Progressive Conservative caucus on the subcommittee, and she indicated that she had no objection to this committee meeting in room 151.

I've spoken with Mr Mancini, who I assume will be speaking on this issue as well. Mr Mancini was of the same impression I was, that we were to continue meeting in room 151. So my first question, Mr Chairman, is: Why are we meeting here instead of in 151?

The Chair: This committee, finance and economics -- this is our home base in this particular room, for one thing. I did not hear any agreement that we would meet other than those two days and, as you can remember, we were wandering the halls for a period of half an hour the one day because there had been some misinformation from one of the Chairs to the point that we were supposed to be meeting Tuesday and Thursday; then all of a sudden it changed to Wednesday, Thursday. I know the other committee is scheduled for that room. I'm going to rule that we're scheduled to meet in this room and we will remain here. It took 20 minutes that you lost --

Mr Tilson: Before you rule, Mr Chairman, could I suggest that the subcommittee has dealt with this topic in the past, and I think it would be appropriate that this committee adjourn for five or 10 minutes in order that the subcommittee can discuss this matter further.

The Chair: No, no, we're not going to -- it's already 20 after --

Mr Tilson: I didn't cause that problem, Mr Chairman. I've been sitting here patiently since --

The Chair: I've been here also. We were just waiting for some other details to be cleared up --

Mr Charles Harnick (Willowdale): We were waiting for the government members.

The Chair: No, we weren't. There are the same ones here who were here before.

Mr Harnick: You sent out your bloodhounds to look for them.

The Chair: I'm sorry, I'm going to rule that we don't move to 151 and start late. We'll finish our hearings on clause-by-clause here in this room. Mr Owens?

Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): Thank you, Chair. I'd like to apologize for the comments I made with respect to the researcher, Andrew McNaught, on Thursday last. It was not my intention to get Mr McNaught caught in the middle of the crossfire between the political parties that was going on at the time; I was merely expressing some frustration at broken subcommittee agreements. Again, I apologize for any discomfort I may have caused Mr McNaught, and Chair, I hope you'll pass those comments on to him.

The Chair: Okay. Mr Mancini, you had a point of order?

Mr Remo Mancini (Essex South): It's a new point of order and it's about where we're meeting for the rest of the week. I know you've ruled on Mr Tilson's motion that we're not going to move today, but you know, Mr Chair, you have asked me on occasion, as Chair of the public accounts committee, whenever you had something important in this committee, whether we would give up the Amethyst Room, which is home base for the public accounts committee, and on every occasion I've relented, because I agreed that what you were doing was of urgent public importance and something that the general public should be witnessing.

This entire review of Bill 164 is the most important thing that's happening around here, and I think it's part of the government's strategy -- I don't necessarily blame you personally, but I think it's part of the government's strategy -- the government members, they've got their marching orders from the Premier's office to submerge what's happening in this committee.

Car insurance affects many millions of people in this province, and there are tens of thousands of people following this legislation and watching what's happening. You think you may be getting away with something by not allowing people to watch what's happening, but you're not. One way or another they're going to find out just how awful this bill is. So I want to add my request to Mr Tilson's request that the subcommittee meet at the earliest opportunity to see if we can get into room 151.

The Chair: Mr Mancini, the request to get into room 151 has come twice from Mr Phillips, and I tried to accommodate Mr Phillips because he knows we normally meet in here, but I've gone and asked you because one of the members of your caucus has requested it, and I'm glad that you're able to help one of your caucus members to get it in there.

I think it was very important that the Treasurer of Ontario, with the upcoming budget -- and I think a lot of questions that Mr Phillips wanted to ask were to show the people in Ontario that the Liberal Party are doing their job as an opposition party, and so I accommodated Mr Phillips and your party to make sure that we got in there, with your agreement. I appreciate the cooperation you have given this committee in your committee room, so I'm going to rule that we are still here in room 1.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, if I could speak to support Mr Mancini on his request that starting tomorrow, this committee continue to meet in room 151: The subcommittee of this committee has never met since the public hearings have concluded to discuss what procedure is going to be followed in clause-by-clause, which is going to be one of several questions that I have prior to these proceedings beginning.

I certainly don't think our caucus is aware of what procedure this committee is going to be proceeding with in the clause-by-clause debate. We have several concerns about introduction of amendments, and that topic plus the topic of where the proceedings are actually going to be conducted have never been discussed by the subcommittee. It is under the standard rules of procedure, as I understand it, that normally subcommittees meet prior to clause-by-clause to discuss what the procedure of a particular committee is going to be. There have been no meetings to date of the subcommittee, and again I request that this committee adjourn for 10 or 15 minutes in order that the subcommittee can meet to discuss this topic and a number of other topics that I have and I know Mr Mancini has with respect to the conduct of this committee.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chair, may I --

The Chair: Can I just answer Mr Tilson? The Chair has made a decision, and the thing is that the House leaders have also brought it up to the point that this is where we're meeting. It was agreed upon.

Mr Tilson: I can tell you that the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party never agreed to that.

The Chair: So we're in the right room at the right time, and maybe what we have to do is see that we have more television cameras and more stations from Queen's Park being transmitted.

Mr Harnick: I've just been approached by Mr Valela. Mr Valela, can you stand up and identify yourself? Mr Valela was here on the Thursday night that we sat late. It's okay, Mr Valela; you can sit down now. He asked me out in the hall if I could request from the Chair that we in fact move to room 151. He points out that, as a disabled person who's keenly interested in what our deliberations here are all about, he has a great deal of difficulty getting to Queen's Park and that it would be a great convenience for disabled people to be able to see these proceedings on television, as he's been able to do the last several days because we've been in room 151. That's my first point.

My second point is, and Mr Valela's pointed this out, there is some indication that we're going to have a heavy snowfall tomorrow, and that snowfall would make it all but impossible for Mr Valela to be here. On behalf of this individual --

Mr Mancini: And thousands more.

Mr Harnick: -- who's been good enough to come down here and to show that he's interested in these proceedings, on behalf of him and anyone else in his circumstances, I would ask you, as a person who's reasonable and as a person who's understanding and as a person of some sensitivity, to respect the difficulty that this man has and that many others who are interested also have and see if you can see it in your heart to move these proceedings to the Amethyst Room so Mr Valela can in a sense take part in what we're doing.

The Chair: I can tell you that Mr Valela has been at my office and has put another report in on how he feels this bill should be structured, which is filed with the clerk. I think the thing we have to take a look at is that OTAB has to do with people who are disabled, with retraining and getting back into the workplace as one as equal to be trained and to be here in Ontario, not to be in sheltered workshops but to have a regular job beside you and me and everyone else; this is the importance. I take a look at OTAB being broadcast around the province. I don't know whether you're challenging the Chair here a little bit on it.

Mr Harnick: Hardly.

The Chair: I know you're not, but I just don't want it to be looked upon that way.

Mr Mancini: God forbid we ever challenge the Chair.

The Chair: On Tuesday we recessed from here and marched down there because there was no one in room 151. It took 20 minutes until they warmed the cameras up and everything else, and I was very patient to the point that a lot of our presenters were behind. I'm going to go to Mr Owens here.

Mr Harnick: Can I finish this off, Mr Chair?

The Chair: Okay, then I'll go to Mr Owens.

Mr Harnick: You've attempted to put me in the translation booth. You've attempted to put me in a corner of the room.

Mr Tilson: Or all four corners.

Mr Harnick: Or all four corners of the room, probably at the same time; far be it from me to challenge the Chair. But Mr Chairman, with respect, I think you've made a mistake. I refer you to standing order 124, which states:

"Following the election of a Chair and Vice-Chair at its first meeting in each session, a standing committee shall appoint a subcommittee on committee business, consisting of the Chair of the standing committee as Chair and one member from each of the recognized parties on the committee, to meet from time to time at the call of the Chair or at the request of any member thereof and to report to the committee on the business of the committee."

I think, Mr Chair -- and I know you'll want to go back and correct the record -- there's been a request by my colleague Mr Tilson that the subcommittee meet. These standing orders say that this must happen at the request of any member of the subcommittee, and Mr Tilson is a member of that committee. He's made that request. I know you don't want to be in violation of the standing orders, so it would be most appropriate that we adjourn now pending the meeting of the subcommittee which Mr Tilson has requested. I know you may not like that.


The Chair: You're debating my decision -- -

Mr Harnick: No, I'm not debating. I'm reading --

The Chair: -- as the Chair here.

Mr Harnick: Excuse me, sir. I'm not debating.

The Chair: I'm listening, but --

Mr Tilson: He's making a point of order.

Mr Harnick: I'm making a point of order, and I'm referring you to standing order 124. Quite frankly, the ruling you have made --

The Chair: But the --

Mr Harnick: Just let me finish, please. The ruling you have made was probably in error because the standing order had not been placed before you. Now the standing order is being placed before you. Now that you are aware of it, as the so-called trier of the issues in this committee, I don't think you have any choice but to reconsider the decision you've made. That doesn't mean necessarily that we're going to be moving to room 151 or any other place. It just means that a member has requested a subcommittee meeting. Any member may do that and you must provide a subcommittee meeting. Rather than argue about it, let's adjourn and have the subcommittee meeting.

The Chair: No. I will not adjourn now, because the agenda's already been set for this committee. The subcommittee has been involved with the meeting on when we're set up, the number of weeks, the witnesses that were coming forward. That's already been done. So we're not going back and rehash --

Mr Tilson: Point of order: We have never discussed the procedure of clause-by-clause debate. We've never discussed that once, and that's what I'm asking, that the subcommittee meet to discuss that process. What I want is an idea of which direction we're going in.

The Chair: Okay, what I suggest is we go clause by clause and section by section.

Mr Harnick: How can you ignore the standing orders?

Mr Tilson: Who's going to say? Are you just unilaterally declaring how we're going to conduct these proceedings?


The Chair: I've got Mr Owens here.

Mr Harnick: Mr Owens, how can you ignore the --

The Chair: Mr Owens has the floor.

Mr Owens: I've suddenly been laterally transferred to the Chair's position.

Mr Harnick: I'm glad you said laterally.

Mr Owens: Yes. In terms of the subcommittee issue, I have no objection if we meet at the end of the day, but I don't believe that we should adjourn at this point. Secondly, if the members Mr Tilson and Mr Harnick want to discuss issues of clause-by-clause, we're certainly willing to entertain those discussions, but in terms of reviewing a decision that has been made by the Chair with respect to room 151, that would not, in my view, be on the agenda.

Mr Mancini: Is this a mutual admiration society up here or something? You're opposing what's written in the standing orders. Don't you understand that? You've got to go according to the standing orders. It's not a mutual admiration society we're attending here. We don't know how to proceed with these 70-some amendments because we've never talked about it.

The Chair: I don't recognize Mr Mancini. Put your hand up. You've got a point of order?

Mr Mancini: Yes, I do.

The Chair: Okay. Mr Mancini.

Mr Mancini: Thank you, Mr Chair. You know, this is not a mutual admiration society where you and other government members back each other up as to what you want to do. We need to sit down as a subcommittee and decide how we're going to deal with the 70-some amendments I'm told we have. That's all we're requesting. We can't go to room 151 today; we know that. We've asked you to consider making a request for the rest of the week. That hasn't been dealt with in subcommittee. We haven't talked about these things.

The Chair: The Chair has dealt with it.

Mr Mancini: You've got to go according to the standing orders. That's all we're asking you to do.

The Chair: We had an agenda already.

Mr Tilson: You're not going by the standing orders.

The Chair: We had an agenda already, so let's carry on.

Mr Tilson: But you're bound by the standing orders.

Mr Mancini: Whether you like it or not, whether Mr Owens likes it or not, the standing orders prevail over the opinions of the government members. That's why we have standing orders, so that they can be followed.

Mr Harnick: On a point of order: I move that we adjourn for one half-hour so that the subcommittee can meet.

Mr Mancini: I support it.


Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, I ask for a recorded vote on Mr Harnick's motion.

The Chair: We have a recorded vote.

Mr Harnick: No, I would like 20 minutes so we can caucus this.

The Chair: All those in favour --

Mr Harnick: We're entitled to 20 minutes.

Mr Mancini: We want 20 minutes.

The Chair: Twenty minutes?

Mr Mancini: That's part of the standing orders.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chairman, you cannot proceed in a manner other than the standing orders state.

The Chair: Fine. We'll have a 20-minute recess.

Mr Harnick: That's in the standing orders.


The Chair: I've got a few people talking at the same time. It's hard for the Chair to hear.

Mr Harnick: Chairman, you cannot proceed in this committee except in accordance with the standing orders. That's why we have this little grey book, and I'd recommend during the 20 minutes that you read it.

The Chair: Fine. We'll have a 20-minute recess.

The committee recessed at 1336 and resumed at 1358.

The Chair: Our 20 minutes are up. Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: I'd like to be able to ask the mover of the motion -- Mr Harnick, if you're listening -- if you would agree to a 20-minute subcommittee meeting rather than 30 minutes, as we've already been out 20 minutes.

Mr Harnick: I don't have a problem with that. If the subcommittee wants to meet and it can do its work in 20 minutes, I don't think that's a problem. It's no problem with me, but perhaps you should canvass the members of the subcommittee.

Mr Owens: There is a motion on the floor and I was asking for an amendment to the motion, if you are agreeable to it.

Mr Harnick: I don't have a problem, on the assumption that it's realistic timing in terms of the discussions.

Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): The motion is 30 minutes, the amendment is 20.

The Chair: Mr Mancini, do you agree with 20 minutes?

Mr Mancini: Yes. We start at two?

The Chair: We'll start at two o'clock. What room can we go into?

Mr Mahoney: We can go into 151. It's empty.

The Chair: Room 110. We're adjourned until 2:20.

The committee recessed at 1359 and resumed at 1434.

The Chair: We'll resume the hearings on Bill 164. The subcommittee has just met and come to an agreement on a series of issues. We seem to be all in agreement at this particular time, not that everybody's totally in agreement with everything, but as gentlemen, we all compromised our positions. I'd like to carry on, if we can start clause-by-clause, section 1 of the bill. Any comments or discussion on section 1? Mr Mancini.

Mr Mancini: My comments are basically general comments, in that we don't think Bill 164 is the route the government should take. Based on the evidence the committee has heard -- and the evidence only, Mr Chair; this is not something we're making up, it's not politics, it's not personal preferences, it's not whether we like the minister or whether we don't like the minister or whether we think he's capable or not capable or doing a good job or not doing a good job -- we think the government is moving too quickly.

We don't think the people who made presentations to this committee have in fact been heard by the government. I know we talked about it earlier on, and I just wonder, for the record, if the parliamentary assistant could tell us why we're in such a hurry to get Bill 164 passed when there's no constituency for the bill, or a very small constituency indeed; there are a great many groups that are outraged at the bill.

The regulations are still, to this day, not understandable to litigation lawyers, to industry professionals, to members of this committee. I defy any member of the committee to stand up and say they understand the regulations that we're all going to be voting on. I defy anybody. Stand up and say that you know what the regulations mean and that you understand them. No one has stood up, so I take it they don't understand it. None of us understand these regs. If the insurance pros and the litigation lawyers don't understand the regs, we don't understand them.

The reason I make these comments here at the opening of the discussion of section 1 is that this is the most appropriate time for us to really consider what we want to do. Do we want to make good law or do we want to make haste? Do we want to protect the consumers who have to buy automobile insurance or do we just want to pass a piece of legislation so that we can say we pass legislation? Do we want to be able to strengthen the insurance industry in this province, which has thousands of employees and pays millions of dollars in taxes, or do we just want to pass legislation? After the legislation is passed, as we all know, we can't make it retroactive to look after those people we may have harmed in passing this law.

So my comment to you and to the parliamentary assistant is, why is it so absolutely necessary that we make such haste for such a complicated piece of legislation when there does not appear to be a constituency compelling the government to move quickly -- maybe thoughtfully, but not quickly? Is there any particular reason why we're moving in this regard, without all due consideration to the things that I've mentioned?

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank the member for his question. Needless to say, we have a different view of what the definition of haste means. In terms of how the government has proceeded, we made a decision by caucus on September 6, 1991, not to proceed with public auto insurance. So prior to that, we had already had a year of looking at the insurance industry and getting to have an understanding of the industry as only a government can have. So, as I say, on September 6, 1991, the decision was made not to proceed with public auto.

We have since 1991 been working with the insurance industry, have been consulting with various groups across the province and have come up with what, in our view, is a good piece of legislation. We listened carefully when the insurance companies of this province said, "Don't go with public auto." I had many deputations in my office from individuals employed by the insurance industry and they pleaded with me not to proceed with public auto. Taking all that into consideration, it was the view that we shouldn't proceed.

So, again, in terms of the process that has taken place and continues to take place, as Mr Mancini indicates, the regulation is currently in draft form and that simply means that there is perhaps some tightening up that needs to be done. It was our view that the regulation needs to be directive in order to take into consideration as many different scenarios as possible to make access to benefits for victims as easy as possible. I don't think any insurance company is going to send out simply an unintelligible piece of paper to its consumers. It's not in the business interests of the insurance companies to do that.


I think that in terms of the work that still needs to be done, we have clearly listened to the deputations with respect to road safety and graduated licensing and we are working through the processes with respect to those two issues.

In terms of groups that are out there, groups like ARCH -- the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped is clearly a group that has come out and indicated that the changes that need to be made to the OMPP are indeed critical. It's certainly the view of rehabilitation groups that dispossessing people after $500,000 of care is not an appropriate way for victims to be treated.

So in conclusion, I would say that the government has moved forward with some thought and some purpose in its deliberations. We are continuing to consult. We have set up the task force to take a look at the $3,000-a-month attendant care cap. The Ministry of Health is looking at standards of rehabilitation that need to be put into place in order to ensure the highest efficacy of care for accident victims. These processes will continue as we move through this piece of legislation. These are issues that are germane to the regulation. All groups, consumers, legal advisers and insurance companies will still have an opportunity to have input into the regulation, even while the clause-by-clause continues and certainly when it concludes.

The Chair: Mr Tilson, some opening remarks?

Mr Tilson: There are opening remarks, as well as a comment just on the -- you've asked us to comment with respect to section 1, which deals with, obviously, the definition sections and principles of regulations.

The whole subject of regulations, of course, has been one that both parties in the opposition have asked questions on and which delegations have come forward on from all walks of life and all connections of the industry. No one seems to be able to understand these regulations. The insurance industry has made it quite clear that rates are going to skyrocket. I know the debate has gone on: Is it going to be 4%? Is it going to be 10%? Is it going to be as high as 25%, taking into consideration that it is being suggested that without this bill rates are already going to go up for various reasons? It troubles us. I guess I get back to the issue Mr Mancini raised. Already there was a story in one of the papers last week of Economical, I think it was. You know, there are some job layoffs. Now, it may not be connected to --

Mr Mancini: Co-op.

Mr Tilson: I'm sorry?

Mr Harnick: Co-operators.

Mr Tilson: I've been corrected as Co-operators. It doesn't really matter. The point is that there's a lot of genuine fear in the insurance industry. No one has expressed interest in supporting this bill, or very few, if any, have expressed an interest. In fact, who'd ever believe that the lawyers and the insurance companies would be on the same side on this issue? That's what this bill has --


Mr Tilson: I'll tell you, that's what this bill has in fact done. I mean, the two protagonists of Bill 68 -- it's rather an astounding feat. I think that because of these guarantees -- either there are going to be tremendous increases in the insurance industry because of the benefits that are being suggested in the regulations -- and we're starting right off in section 1 -- or Mr Charlton, the minister responsible for auto insurance, has made it quite clear that rates aren't going to go up, so he's going to do something.

He's going to do something either under the bill, which gives the right to the cabinet to freeze the rates, or the insurance commission. Directives, in any event, can come forward. If that happens, I don't know what the insurance companies are going to do, because they're making it quite clear, from facts that they've put forward, that they simply won't be able to operate. So we're going to have a crisis, and I guess that's the position of everyone who has come forward.

Heaven knows our party and your party, when you were in opposition, rammed at the Liberals constantly as to how terrible OMPP was. We spent hours. Mr Kormos spent all kinds of time. In fact, people still haven't forgotten all that.

Mr Mancini: He sure did.

Mr Mahoney: Now you know how wrong you were.

Mr Tilson: I guess the issue is that it's a matter of creating a third system. We're now on the threshold, to use a play on words, of creating yet a third system that's going to go through the courts. Do you really think -- and I don't mean you, Mr Chairman; I'm directing my comments through you to other members of the committee -- that this piece of legislation isn't going to be challenged in the courts in all kinds of different ways? Do we really think that? Of course it is.

We're going to start defining what is over $15,000, what is under $15,000, is this correct, is that correct, aside from all the adversarial litigation that's going to occur with respect to battles that are going to go on between the innocent accident victim and the insurance company, because it's going to be tight for the insurance companies to operate. They're going to say, "Well, there's a benefit here that's covered and there's not a benefit here that's covered." There seem to be all kinds of vague mechanisms to protect the innocent accident victim.

There are all kinds of things that I think this government could do before it proceeds with this legislation. This committee has been challenged over and over. Delegation after delegation has talked about the graduated licensing, and I know Mr Pouliot is working on that. He's indicated that he's working on it, but I don't know when it's going to come forward.

There needs to be more time spent on Bill 38, but that's another area. There may be some changes that could be made to the Highway Traffic Act. There are all kinds of non-insurance matters where the insurance companies have said that if you implement just graduated licensing alone, studies show, I believe it's in New Zealand -- and I can be corrected, but I understand that when they introduced graduated licensing, fatalities were reduced by 25%. The studies were taken after the introduction of graduated licensing.

So you look at making it safer to drive on the roads; that's one thing. The second thing we're looking at, of course, is the whole issue of costing. We've been guaranteed that costing's going to go up.

So I guess I'm echoing Mr Mancini's request to the government members that they just sit back a little bit and listen to some of the comments that have been made that perhaps we have some more feasibility studies as to the whole issue of costing.

Are the insurance companies dead wrong? Is the insurance commission going to have to hire all kinds of staff to debate what the heck these regulations mean as to benefits? Is there going to have to be another public defender system or advocacy system devised to replace the necessity of advising the innocent accident victim? What is all that going to cost? What's it going to cost the insurance company? What's it going to cost the government? What's it going to cost the consumer?

There are all kinds of unanswered questions -- the whole issue of the task force, the task force that's going on now. The parliamentary assistant has indicated privately and publicly that the report will be coming back at the end of April -- I don't know what that means; that could mean the end of March, and I'm trying to be fair because generally things are late around here -- but in any event the task force that's going to report back to us on a number of matters. They could be matters that are going to affect the operation of this bill.


I hope a system's going to be devised, but if you're going to insist on putting forward this bill, I will tell you, the Progressive Conservative Party will be fighting tooth and nail to the end. We don't have the votes, unfortunately; you do. But you are hopefully reasonable people. We did watch you fight OMPP and we agreed with you when you fought OMPP, but you seem to have reversed your position. You seem to have now -- this is an unbelievable flip-flop. It's very discouraging to members of the public to watch what you are doing to this province on the subject of auto insurance. People trusted you and I will say they don't know what to believe. I'm asked questions as to what these regulations mean. Are insurance rates really going to go up and are we going to be covered? I don't know; nor do you.

I'm asking, notwithstanding the parliamentary assistant's answer, that further consideration be taken to step back and listen to the public presentations that are made to this committee on all of these issues. The subject of the amendments -- even down to as late as last week the government amendments were presented to my office somewhere between 4 and 5 o'clock. I understand you've got difficult -- again, Mr Chairman, I mean the government has difficulty in putting forward this thing. It's a very complicated bill. Everyone is admitting it's difficult to understand.

The fact of the matter is I haven't even had a proper time to sit down with Mr Harnick and review, let alone other members of my caucus, to canvas other members of my caucus as to what your amendments are, let alone our own amendments. I have filed one amendment this afternoon and that's the only one I've had an opportunity to review with Mr Harnick and other members of my caucus. The whole process is a continuous rush, rush, rush when we have all of these other matters we need to step back and deal with.

I again ask the parliamentary assistant to speak to the minister, and hopefully he will take a long hard look at delaying the continuation of these proceedings. This committee could even adjourn, and if you insisted on proceeding with the bill, clause-by-clause could be dealt with at a later date after the minister has had an opportunity to review some of the very serious submissions that have been made by delegations to this committee.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tilson. Mr Harnick, if you can add some more to your friend's --

Mr Harnick: A great deal, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: I didn't think there was much more left.

Mr Harnick: I've got reams of things I want to tell you about, if I may.

The Chair: You may tell the Chair.

Mr Harnick: It has been a very interesting couple of weeks while we listened to the representations from the various witnesses who came before this committee as we met in Toronto and across the province.

I might tell you that, just as an aside, those couple of weeks had their amusing moments which tend to even carry on into today's proceedings. I notice today that there are no less than seven or eight bureaucrats and political people here, all being paid for by the good taxpayers of the province of Ontario. I notice as well that there's always a constant flurry of activity on the government's side where binders are being handed out, explanation papers are being given to the various members and the various members are given their scripts as to what questions to ask and what to say to the witnesses.

I've watched this flurry of activity and I wish I could say, Mr Chairman, that the people of Ontario were getting to watch this as well, but we've been precluded from room 151 for reasons of your own, I'm sure. We have had some opportunity to be in that room and the people of the province have been able to see the goings-on here. It fascinates me that with all the bureaucrats and political people here to help the government members to frame their questions, if this was really a good piece of legislation it would be simple, it would be straightforward and the good members of the government wouldn't need all of this expertise to lead them along hand by hand, inch by inch and step by step.

What I point out to you, Mr Chairman, is quite simply, how are the consumers of the province, those who have to purchase automobile insurance, going to function without these eight or nine bureaucrats there to advise them every step of the way? Here are the experts, the people who have lived with this legislation, the five or six government members who have all become expert because they've had these eight or nine people tutoring them. They've become experts and yet they still need that tutoring and they still need those binders because they can't understand the 68 pages of regulations. I certainly can't understand the 68 pages of regulations.

If this Bill 164 and the regulations that go with it become law, you're asking the consumers, who have to deal with the purchasing of insurance, to deal with the insurers to get the benefits they're entitled to, if indeed they're involved unfortunately in an accident. How are they going to do that without these eight or nine bureaucrats and the press secretary to put the right spin on it; when they're having their difficulties, to be told, "It's not so bad. Everybody likes this legislation"? How are these poor individuals going to deal with this? There are 68 pages of regulations.

Mr Chairman, it's so bizarre when you read those regulations. At one point it says: "My God, if you don't fall under this area of disability but you fall under that area of disability and you have a loss of earning capacity, you as the insured can choose A, B, C or D. Take your pick." If you can't decide, the insurer's supposed to give you the one that's most economically beneficial. That's what the legislation says. How anybody can support anything as outright stupid as that legislation is beyond me. It is absolutely beyond me.

It's interesting, we've had a number of people who have described this legislation as setting up a scenario of David and Goliath. Every time the poor insured person has to deal with the policy, he's going to need some advice. We all know the insurers are either (a) going to understand this themselves, and I doubt that, or (b) going to hire lawyers who are going to be paid big-time money to become expert at it.

Carrying on with the David and Goliath scenario, each and every time an insured person has to deal with the policy as contained in the 68 pages of regulations, there will not be a biblical ending to his dealing with 68 pages of regulations and having to go head to head with an insurance company.

Unless these regulations become simplified, understandable and not multiple-choice, as they are, no one's going to be able to deal with them. The insurance industry is not going to be able to deal with them, the insureds are not going to be able to deal with them. What you are going to have down the line is an insurance crisis much greater than the insurance crisis that got us to this point in the first place.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, you said we've got eight bureaucrats sitting here and they're waiting to get on with the clause-by-clause. They're here to answer any questions you may have.

Mr Mancini: We've heard from Mr Endicott.


The Chair: We're going to clause-by-clause. Maybe as the Chair, I wound up saying that if you've got some opening remarks --

Mr Harnick: Excuse me, I have the floor and I'm entitled --

The Chair: I have the floor also, to say to get back to the clause-by-clause on section 1.

Mr Tilson: We're talking about benefits.

Mr Harnick: I'm going to talk about this whole bill, sir. Everything I say is going to be relevant. You can muzzle me like you've tried to muzzle Mr Kormos and Mr Drainville --

The Chair: I'm sorry, that's a difference of opinion. I recognized Mr Kormos when he --

Mr Harnick: That may be a difference of opinion, but as a member of this committee, I, as much as anyone else, am entitled to speak and I am now speaking on the bill. You asked for opening remarks and I'm giving you my opening remarks.

The Chair: The Chair is a little impatient to the point --

Mr Harnick: Well, then --

The Chair: The impatient part is people scurrying around here; I didn't see that. You were painting a picture that wasn't even in this room.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chair, again, I'll use --

Mr Mancini: You don't have the right to make editorial comments on the member's remarks.

Mr Harnick: I'll use your expression: We have a difference of opinion on that. If you could please --

The Chair: Just a minute, I've got a point of order here.

Mr Owens: On a point of order, Mr Chair: The Chair has been respectful in terms of allowing some latitude around the opening statements. There was no agreement for opening statements --

Mr Harnick: That's right and I'm making my remarks.

Mr Owens: May I finish my point, please? In terms of the comments that are being made, it would be nice if at some point the member for Willowdale could touch on the bill and precisely --

Mr Harnick: I was just about to do that.

Mr Owens: -- section 1, which is under discussion at this point.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, I'll listen again.

Mr Harnick: I'm getting to clause 1(1)(a), and I know that Ms Mathyssen is interested in this.

Mr Mancini: She knows about the regs.

Mr Tilson: Yes, she knows all about them, all right.

Mr Harnick: Mrs Mathyssen knows all about the regulations.

The Chair: Mr Mancini, Mr Harnick has the floor.

Mr Mahoney: You interrupted him. Why can't Remo?

Mr Mancini: I just want to acknowledge that Mrs Mathyssen is an expert on the 68 pages of regulations.

The Chair: Carry on, Mr Harnick.

Mr Mahoney: You don't have a right to interrupt people speaking.

Mr Mancini: As are Mr Klopp and Mr Johnson and Ms Haeck. They're all experts on 68 pages of regulations.

Mr Harnick: What I want to deal with first is subsection 1(1), which deals with "striking out `no-fault benefits' and `no-fault benefit' wherever those expressions occur and substituting in each case `statutory accident benefits.'" I gather that's what you want me to deal with.

The Chair: That's correct.

Mr Harnick: Let me first start by dealing with the whole concept of accident benefits. In early 1970 we had a standard form auto policy that didn't provide any accident benefits --

The Chair: Just a minute. Mr Mancini.

Mr Mancini: Mr Chairman, I think your instructions to Mr Harnick, with all due respect, were not correct. I, as the critic for the Liberal caucus, took a few short moments to make some general comments on the legislation, because when we initially started more than an hour ago that did not take place. Mr Tilson did the same thing and I assumed that Mr Harnick was going to be bolstering Mr Tilson's argument.

Mr Harnick: I can do that too.

Mr Mancini: Which he did.

The Chair: Wait a minute. Mr Mancini has the floor.

Mr Mancini: Which he did, until you told him, with the aid of the parliamentary assistant, that he shouldn't be doing that any longer. Now we're talking specifically about the words that appear -- not about the concept of the legislation, but about the words that appear -- in section 1. I believe that Mr Harnick should have been allowed to continue his discourse; you, as Chair, said he was not allowed to do that, along with the encouragement from the parliamentary assistant.

My colleague Mr Mahoney was waiting for Mr Harnick to be able to finish the discourse which he, in my view, should have been able to finish. However, if your instruction to Mr Harnick, based on the advice you received from the parliamentary assistant, is that he can't and we're going to get right to the words in section 1, I would dutifully ask you, Mr Chair, to allow Mr Mahoney to make the opening comments that he wanted to make on a special section of the legislation and the issues which are important in this bill that I had specifically left for him. Unless we allow that, we're not proceeding properly.

The Chair: There's a point of order with Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: Chair, this thing is getting way out of hand.

Mr Mancini: It's not out of hand.

Mr Owens: In terms of --

Mr Mancini: You shouldn't be the parliamentary assistant, you should be the Chair. You're always telling the Chair what to do.

Mr Owens: Would you stop being so rude?

The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Mancini, he is not telling the Chair.

Mr Mancini: He does. He tells you what to do all the time.

Mr Owens: May I have the floor?

Mr Mancini: He's always coaching you and it's very disruptive to the proceedings of this committee.

The Chair: I recognize Mr Mahoney. As soon as Mr Harnick was finished I was going to go to Mr Mahoney. I'm sorry, but Mr Mahoney didn't have his hand up after you were speaking, Mr Mancini.

Mr Owens: Chair, with respect --

Mr Harnick: Can I have the floor back so I can continue my statement?

Mr Owens: No. I'm on a point of order and I'm going to finish it; I was interrupted. Mr Chair, with respect, first, there was no agreement with respect to opening statements by the three parties. Second, when an opening statement is made --

Mr Mancini: It's in the standing orders.

Mr Owens: May I complete my point of order, Mr Mancini?

Mr Mancini: No, because what he is saying is in the standing orders.

The Chair: Let him finish and you can comment after.

Mr Mancini: The record will show that he's saying what's in the standing orders.

The Chair: Mr Mancini, we talk about muzzling here, but you're not allowing him to get his point of order out. Go ahead, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: In terms of the opening statements, in any committee that I've been sitting on, the critics, not all and sundry -- maybe Mr Mancini and Mr Harnick would like to canvass the audience as well for their particular comments on this bill. We're way beyond anything that is reasonable and I suggest that we move back to clause-by-clause, the purpose for which we're here today.

Mr Mancini: I want Mr Valela to come forward.

Mr Mahoney: Mr Chairman.

The Chair: You've got a point of order, Mr Mahoney?

Mr Mahoney: I have a question that perhaps you could help me with. In the five or six years that I've been around here, it has always been my understanding that when a committee is finished with its public hearings and gets down to the point where it's doing clause-by-clause, the actual line-by-line, clause-by-clause discussions are preceded by opening remarks from members of the committee, led by the critic of each party. The parliamentary assistant is correct in that, but certainly not to the exclusion of other members, of the two parties in opposition.

I was tied up at a meeting, but I had this on upstairs. I listened to Mr Mancini's remarks, and I came down quite prepared to make some remarks of my own, along with my critic, and put concerns that I have on the record on behalf of the people I represent and on behalf of my party.

The Chair: Okay; I will come back to you.

Mr Mahoney: I assume that in a democratic process we would all be allowed to do that. What's happening is what Mr Mancini is saying, you're directing Mr Harnick to start at clause 1(1)(a). I didn't think we were there yet.

The Chair: The discussion on section 1.

Mr Mahoney: Are we not having opening preliminary remarks?

Mr Owens: There is no standing order.

Mr Harnick: I'm quite prepared to proceed by way of opening remarks or proceed by way of remarks on section 1. If you could tell me what you'd like me to do, I can carry on.

The Chair: The clerk here just gave me standing order 78: "When a bill is considered in a committee, the Chair shall inquire whether any comments, questions or amendments are to be offered and to which sections and will call only such sections. If no sections are so designated, the bill shall be reported as a whole." I called out section 1.

Mr Mancini: But you asked for comments, and that's exactly what we were doing.

The Chair: Were there any comments or questions on section 1?

Mr Harnick: May I carry on, then, in that vein of discussing section 1?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Harnick: Thank you. At any rate, as I --

Mr Mancini: You're not allowed. Mr Mahoney is speaking.

Mr Harnick: I started out saying that in the early 1970s, we didn't have a concept in Ontario of accident benefits or no-fault benefits or statutory accident benefits. We merely had a tort system, often referred to by the likes of Ms Haeck and Ms Mathyssen as the roll the dice system. In the early 1970s, the system was changed and we began to develop a system of auto insurance in the province of Ontario that blended the tort system and the statutory accident benefits system.

That all occurred in the early 1970s. It might even have been the late 1960s. At that time, the accident benefits consisted of a small automatic death benefit to dependants in the event of death. It also provided for $70 a week in terms of accident benefit payments if someone was totally disabled from the usual duties of his or her occupation. After two years, the test changed and it said that if you were still disabled, and by reason of your education and experience you couldn't get any job, you were entitled to continue receiving your $70 a week.

In addition, the accident benefits of the day provided a small amount of money for rehabilitation and medical expenses that were incurred beyond what OHIP was prepared to pay, up to a limit.


Around 1974 or 1975, the accident benefits schedule changed. Essentially, all the amounts of money that were available were increased, so that we saw that the accident benefit concept, as blended with tort, was becoming more accepted. The amounts were becoming more realistic for the day. The system was developing, and we were moving away from a total tort-based system.

I might add that as to when all of this began to occur, it was quite an interesting phenomenon and I know my friends on the government side will be interested in this. I see we don't have a Chairman any more. Oh, here comes Mr Cooper, certainly one of my favourite chairpersons from my experience on the justice committee.

As I was saying, the insurance industry, when we went to the statutory accident benefits schedule, was not very pleased about this. At the time, they indicated quite strongly that the idea of automatic accident benefits was going to cost the insurance industry an enormous amount of money. It was a type of system that the insurance industry initially was not very happy about.

Interestingly enough, the pendulum seems to have swung, because with the development of the Ontario motorist protection plan in 1990, the idea of an insurance scheme that was weighted more heavily in favour of accident benefits than in the concept of tort became the preferred scheme on behalf of the auto insurers. I know that most government members would be pretty interested in that history, in that turnabout, in terms of insurance company philosophy.

What happened over the years, from about the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s, was that we unfortunately continued with a scheme of accident benefits that were fixed at $140 a week. Again, I think the death benefit was approximately -- was it $10,000?


Mr Harnick: Twenty thousand?

Interjection: Probably $10,000.

Mr Harnick: Ten thousand dollars was the death benefit, $140 was the weekly disability benefit payment for those who were totally disabled from performing the usual functions of their job, and the maximum of $20,000 or $25,000 was available for rehab, and that was it.

Unfortunately, through that approximately 10-, 12- or 15-year period, the system worked relatively well except that the accident benefits were no longer at levels that were commensurate with modern day reality. Because of that, the OMPP was developed and what the OMPP essentially did was change that balance between the traditional tort liability and accident benefits.

What we had up to 1990 was a system that was very much weighted in favour of the concept of tort, and the accident benefits were the minor aspect of the system. After 1990, we really swung wildly the other way, and accident benefits became the bulk of the scheme and the tort liability became the limited aspect of the scheme. So what we've done is really a complete about-face.

It's interesting, just to digress for a moment in terms of this: I know we have our 9 or 10 bureaucrats in the room. I know Mr Endicott, who's in the room today, absented himself after the first day. I don't know where he went but he did disappear, and it was of some consternation to me that the person who was the author of the bill did not stay in the room to help guide us through some of the technical difficulties.

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): Point of order, Mr Chair.

The Acting Chair (Mr Mike Cooper): Order, please. Point of order, Ms Haeck.

Ms Haeck: I am offended by this tone, and the reason I'm offended is that --

Mr Harnick: That's not a point of order.

Ms Haeck: The bureaucrats who are in this room are here because they are to provide technical assistance to all members --

Mr Harnick: That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Ms Haeck: -- not only to government members --

The Acting Chair: Thank you, Ms Haeck.

Ms Haeck: -- and the insulting of one of those I think is an insult to all, and we are all aware --

The Acting Chair: Thank you, Ms Haeck. You don't have a point of order.

Ms Haeck: -- that our bureaucrats work hard on our behalf.

Mr Harnick: May I continue?

The Acting Chair: Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: Thank you. At any rate, it's disconcerting to me that the person who was very much the author of this bill has absented himself from the hearings we had and continues to absent himself as the technical adviser to the parliamentary assistant.

Ms Haeck: Point of order, Mr Chair.

The Acting Chair: Ms Haeck, I understand what line you're going to go on.

Ms Haeck: No, actually, Mr Chair --

The Acting Chair: Mr Harnick, maybe you could keep your comments directed through the Chair.

Mr Harnick: Yes, I'm trying to do that.

Ms Haeck: Actually, Mr Chair, I would like to have a quick point of clarification here. Mr Endicott didn't write the bill. The previous Liberal government wrote the OMPP and this government --

Mr Harnick: I'm talking about Bill 164.

Ms Haeck: -- through the minister and the political staff, wrote the current amendments, so I think Mr Harnick would prefer to correct his comments.


The Acting Chair: Thank you, Ms Haeck.

Mr Mancini: Excuse me, Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Did Ms Haeck tell the committee that ministry staff had no hand in writing the 68 pages of regulations --

The Acting Chair: Mr Mancini, that's a question, not a point of order.

Mr Mancini: -- and it was Mr Owens and the minister who wrote all this, who wrote Bill 164?

Ms Haeck: Mr Chair --

The Acting Chair: Order, please. As this committee has not made allowances for opening statements, we are on section 1. Mr Harnick has the floor on section 1 and traditionally that's been the --

Mr Mancini: Now we know why it's such a mess.

The Acting Chair: It's been the opportunity where opening statements can be made and statements on the whole bill can be followed. If Mr Harnick would address his comments to the bill and not to the technical staff who are here --

Mr Harnick: I'm addressing all my comments to you, sir. I may have to mention some names of people who had a hand in this, but my comments are totally directed to you, and if anybody wants to jump in, I'm just delighted to have them.

The Acting Chair: You may proceed, Mr Harnick.

Ms Haeck: Mr Chair, I'd be happy to clarify the position Mr Harnick has just taken.

The Acting Chair: Ms Haeck, you'll have your opportunity for comments after Mr Harnick and Mr Mahoney.

Ms Haeck: Is he going to continue insulting staff?

Mr Harnick: I don't believe I've insulted anyone, but --

The Acting Chair: There have been comments made about people's attendance at the committee hearings. That's all, Ms Haeck.

Ms Haeck: I would suggest that in the past, while you were not necessarily present, some members of the opposition have in fact insulted staff: highly inappropriate behaviour, I might suggest.

Mr Harnick: Yes, the parliamentary assistant. your own parliamentary assistant.

Ms Haeck: And he apologized, which is more than we can say for you.


The Acting Chair: Order, please. If I had heard any direct comments aimed at anybody, I would have stepped in, but having heard none, Mr Harnick, you have the floor.

Mr Harnick: At any rate, I --


Mr Harnick: It's interesting to see Ms Haeck getting involved in the debate, and I welcome that. I welcome debating auto insurance with any person in this room at any time, Mr Chairman, and if Ms Haeck --

The Chair: Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: Yes.

The Chair: We're hearing your problems with section 1. We're not debating it.

Mr Harnick: I know. Sir, you were out of the room for a moment. You might confer with the person who was sitting in your chair and you'll understand what was happening in here. But the interruptions were not mine, they were the interruptions of Ms Haeck, and if I can carry on with my discussion of section 1, I'd be delighted to do that.

The Chair: Go right ahead.


Mr Harnick: Thank you, sir. At any rate, I've indicated who I believe wrote the bill or was primarily responsible for writing the bill. I regret the fact that that individual has absented himself from providing his technical expertise to us. I don't know why that should have occurred, but nevertheless it did.

The fact of the matter is that when we're dealing with accident benefit schedules and the concept of accident benefits and no-fault insurance and blended no-fault accident benefit schemes, it's very interesting for me to note that no one who ever had anything to do with innocent accident victims and who ever had any experience in that regard had anything to do with the writing of this bill. I think that is a very regrettable thing.

It's a very regrettable thing that people who talk about these concepts have never had any experience dealing with a family who have seen someone killed, dealing with a family who have seen the breadwinner badly injured in an automobile accident, who have seen what happens when a child is injured and can never go back to work. I recognize that people who write this stuff -- and all I can call Bill 164 is "stuff" because it isn't worth the paper that it's written on -- try very hard and they write what the government tells them to write and what the policy advisers tell them to write. But the fact of the matter is that none of those people has gained any firsthand experience in seeing how accident benefits and statutory accident benefit schedules impact on the lives of victims, both innocent and at-fault victims.

I know that Ms Haeck and Ms Mathyssen, who have asked repeatedly to deal with the subject that the tort system is a lottery and everything else, are concerned too about the ability of individuals to access a system that is supposed to work for the welfare and benefit of people who are injured and their families. This legislation and this accident benefits schedule -- call it no-fault benefits, call it statutory accident benefits, call it anything you like -- is not going to work. It just is not going to work. I know that Mr Winninger too, who has had some experience, would never have written a piece of legislation like this, because he knows that when --

Mr David Winninger (London South): That's a broad assumption.

Mr Harnick: I know Mr Winninger well, and he's a person who likes to ensure that those who have to access a system will understand it and will understand what they're getting when they pay for the system. Quite frankly, anyone who buys auto insurance in this province is not going to be able to understand what it is that they've purchased. If there's no other fundamental flaw to this legislation, that is a major fundamental flaw.

It's interesting that when we first developed schemes of statutory accident benefits or no-fault benefits -- again, call them what you like -- they were simple. People would purchase a policy of automobile insurance and the accident benefits schedule was part of that policy. They were given that policy and it was four or five pages long and it was understandable. It said if you were injured in an accident and were totally disabled from the usual duties and performance at your job, you could get $140 per week. That's what it said. It said that if you, as the breadwinner in a family, were killed, your main dependant, your spouse, could get $10,000. It said that each of your other dependants would get $2,000.

All of that was pretty simple. It was pretty straightforward. When you had an accident, you were given a document which was maybe two pages long by your insurance company. You filled it out and it said what your name is, what your address is and where you work and when the accident occurred, and that was essentially the claimant's portion. The claimant then took the little document to his doctor. The doctor filled out a form that contained a provisional diagnosis and a provisional prognosis and it indicated when the doctor thought the person might be able to return to work. You then took that form to the employer and filled it out. It said where you were working, what your rate of pay was, whether you had any other benefits through work and when your last day at work was. That was the extent of it. It was pretty simple, it was pretty straightforward; totally the opposite of this piece of legislation.

I will grant you, Mr Chairman, that when we went through the next stage of automobile insurance evolution we went to the Ontario motorist protection plan. As I stated earlier, that was a plan in which the changed philosophy of the insurance industry was seen. We went from an insurance industry that initially believed in a total tort system and was frightened to death of the concept of accident benefits to an insurance industry that wanted to jettison the idea of tort in favour of a total or nearly total accident benefit system. Yet the OMPP was not overly complicated. It was more complicated than what we had before, but it was not an overly complicated system of accident benefits. It was a system that essentially, in terms of the accident benefit portion, raised the amounts of money that were being provided under the accident benefit coverage it replaced and raised those benefits to levels that were realistic for the day.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, a lot of your comments are on other sections of the bill we haven't even got to. You're going to be out of steam by the time you get to the other sections.

Mr Harnick: No, sir.

The Chair: I know Mr Mahoney is hoping to have a few comments on section 1. I find you are going beyond section 1.

Mr Harnick: Out of the corner of my eye I see Mr Mahoney making some fairly extensive notes and I'm going to be really interested in hearing his response to my remarks. I think he's pretty interested because I see him writing these notes. He's not laughing at me at any rate, as some people in the room are, but that's their prerogative. May I continue?

The Chair: Who was laughing at you? I will bring them to order.

Mr Mahoney: Steve Owens.

Mr Owens: Get out of here.

Mr Mahoney: I just saw you.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, carry on with section 1.

Mr Harnick: If I have my way, I'm happy just to have everybody jump in whenever they want.

The Chair: Go ahead. Now you've got everybody laughing in here.

Mr Harnick: It wasn't intentional.

The Chair: You've got the Chair laughing too. Carry on, Charles.

Mr Mahoney: Have you ever had this much fun?

Mr Harnick: It's not often I make the Chairman laugh. Usually you're going to put me in the corner, so it's a pleasure to see you laughing.

The Chair: I'm laughing with you.

Mr Harnick: I appreciate that.

Mr Winninger: You're auditioning at Yuk Yuk's.

Mr Harnick: I'd probably make more money than I'm making here.

Mr Owens: I thought that's why you still went to court on a daily basis.

Mr Harnick: No, you can't do that to make jokes, because the chairman in the court is much more strict than the Chairman here.

The Chair: Carry on, Mr Harnick.


Mr Harnick: At any rate, as I was saying before my friends jumped in, the benefits under the OMPP are much more realistic than the benefits we had earlier. We've gone from $140 a week to $600 a week. People could have purchased extra coverage to take them to $1,000 a week, and that much more reflects the kind of income levels that are realistic for the 1990s.

I'm quite in favour of the accident benefit aspects of the OMPP, because they do reflect reality of the day. I'm not in favour of some of the other aspects of OMPP and I know that the Chairman will give me an opportunity when the time comes to speak about those. But the accident benefit portions are realistic and I find it very interesting that when we're having an opportunity to talk about no-fault benefits or accident benefits or whatever you want to call them, there have not been a lot of difficulties in terms of people accessing the Ontario motorist protection plan in terms of accident benefits. The benefits have been paid and if they're not paid, there's a system of mediation and arbitration or, in the alternative, access to the courts.

I know that the government members perk up their ears when they hear the words "access to the courts." Believe it or not, people do go to the courts to get their accident benefits because there are times -- and I know that my friends are interested in this -- when insurance companies don't pay and the claimant oftentimes has to resort to some form of adversarial process to get the insurance company to pay.

Mr Tilson: They're going to use the advocacy system; that's what they're going to do.

Mr Harnick: I know there are those people in this room who don't believe in those kinds of things because they think that money should just fall out of the sky, but every now and then a claimant has to make a claim because he has a difference of opinion with the insurance company. The insurance company may say, "We don't think you're totally injured, that you're totally disabled." So we have a system that provides people with the alternative of going to court, or they can go to mediation and arbitration at the Ontario Insurance Commission, and that's what's happening. But by and large, the OMPP has been a workable system, and granted, as I told you, Mr Chair, I'm not 100% in favour of that system. There are alterations that should be made, but the accident benefits aspect of that system is by and large a good system.

The Chair: Are you in favour of section 1?

Mr Harnick: I'm getting to that. I can't get to that until I've made all the remarks. I don't want anyone to go away from here confused about what statutory accident benefits mean. Unless we review the history of statutory accident benefits in this province, which no one has bothered to do because we haven't had any kind of a technical briefing on the clause-by-clause that we're now going through -- I've just taken it upon myself, out of the goodness of my heart --

The Chair: I'm sorry, but we do have the technical staff here for any questions.

Mr Harnick: How many do we have here today?

Mr Owens: What's the point?

The Chair: Do you want someone to answer the question?

Mr Harnick: Do you want me to make my speech or do you want to keep interrupting me?

The Chair: I would say, Mr Harnick, that there are people here to answer. You addressed the Chair and said that you're explaining it because it hasn't been explained to you by the technical staff, and I say they're here.

Mr Harnick: You see, sir, at the end of this --

Mr Mancini: Who are these people?

Mr Harnick: Remo, hold on. At the end of this little debate, you're going to ask us who's in favour of section 1 and who's opposed. Correct?

The Chair: Correct.

Mr Harnick: I am trying to put enough on the record so that my good friends, particularly my good friends across the floor here, understand what statutory accident benefits are because I want them to be able to vote in a certain way and I am trying to explain to them what I believe accident benefits are, be they statutory no-fault benefits or accident benefits or statutory accident benefits. I want them to understand so that when you call the question, they're going to vote in a way that I'm going to be pleased with because I have explained it to them and they believe me.

Mr Harnick: Mr Harnick, don't you think that if you were asking that question to one of the technical staff, they might believe a little bit more, that they were right up to speed on it?

Mr Mahoney: Are you questioning Mr Harnick's credibility?

Mr Tilson: I believe Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: I'm not pulling your leg.

The Chair: I'm not saying I don't believe you. I'm just saying maybe there are a few extra points. It is a field that you need a few experts to relate. Maybe you're not right up to speed on everything that's going on.

Mr Harnick: I'm as up to speed as they are.

The Chair: Okay, carry on.

Mr Harnick: Thank you.

The Chair: We'll find out at the vote.

Mr Harnick: I hope you have all your members here. At any rate, you keep interrupting my train of thought and I have to go back to my spot.

Mr Tilson: You have to start again.

Mr Harnick: I almost have to start again now. I told you earlier that I have a very short attention span.

The Chair: When you start repeating yourself, I will mention it to you. I'm listening.

Ms Haeck: Here's a tab to mark your spot.

Mr Harnick: I don't have any spots to mark.

Ms Haeck: I thought you said you had to go back to your spot.

Mr Harnick: It's all in my head, though.

The Chair: Ms Haeck, you don't have the floor. Mr Harnick, Mr Mahoney is sitting impatiently here.

Mr Mahoney: I'm learning a lot from this.

Mr Harnick: At any rate, Mr Chair, the $600 benefits were very realistic benefits -- I think that's where I left off -- much more so than the $140 that people had been receiving by way of statutory acts and benefits or no-fault benefits or whatever you want to call them. I think that people who deal with accident victims have found that to be so.

As I was saying earlier, there are times when insurance companies and claimants disagree with one another as to whether they are entitled to access the benefits available under the Ontario motorist protection plan. That issue often is resolved on the basis of independent medical examinations and evidence gathered by insurance companies by way of surveillance. At any rate, what has to happen is that there has to be an adversarial proceeding. There has to be a proceeding either at the Ontario Insurance Commission or in a court, because sometimes insurance companies and claimants disagree on entitlement.

It's very important that everyone in this room understand that whether we call these no-fault benefits or statutory accident benefits, contrary to what the minister has told us in the Legislature, these are not paid automatically. There is often a difference of opinion, and often a legitimate difference of opinion. That is why it is very important for the claimant to be able to understand what it is that he has purchased when he pays a premium and obtains a policy of automobile insurance. The reason is that if he's, God forbid, involved in an accident, he may have a difference of opinion with his insurance company. The higher the benefits, the more likely it is that you are going to have a difference of opinion.

Let me give you an example. If under the OMPP someone is entitled to $600 a week and he or she is entitled to that indefinitely, that works out by my calculations to just over $30,000 annually. That is a lot of money for an insurance company to be paying out on a regular basis. It may come to pass that the insurance company might ultimately decide that this person is not totally disabled and should be back at work. Hence you've got a conflict and you have a process that is going to be beginning either by way of arbitration or by way of court proceeding.

Under the NDP plan, Bill 164, if you're fortunate enough to be a wealthier person, then 90% of your net benefits will pay you more than the 80% of your gross benefits. Therefore, you may be entitled to significantly more than $600 a week. You might be entitled to $800 a week, $900 a week or maybe $1,000 a week.


It's important that every government member understand when we're talking about accident benefits that Bill 164 gives more money to those making larger incomes, in comparison to the OMPP, than it does to those making smaller incomes. The small-income earner is hurt by Bill 164. He receives less under Bill 164 than he does under the OMPP.

I hope that some of the government members have taken the opportunity to ask the technical people who are here, all nine, 10 or 11 of them, why low-income earners are being penalized under Bill 164 versus OMPP. I suggest that every government member in this room should be banging on the door of these technical people, asking them to change this piece of legislation so that low-income earners are not hurt as they are by this piece of legislation, because it is totally contrary to the philosophy that this party, the NDP, and this government used to have.

At any rate, that's a diversion and I don't want to digress too far from subsection 1(1). As I was saying, under the Bill 164 proposals those people who were high-income earners may end up getting more than $600 a week. They might get up to $1,000 a week. That'll only accrue to the high-income earners. As I said, the low-income earners are penalized under Bill 164, and that obviously is the government's intention or it wouldn't be proceeding this way.

At any rate, when you're talking benefits, sir, of $1,000 a week, you're going to have insurance companies that are no longer paying out $30,000 a year; they're now paying out in excess of $50,000 a year. Insurance companies do not like to pay out $50,000 a year indefinitely. They will make sure that they are only paying that money to a person who is disabled from performing the usual functions of his job. They will do surveillance. They will have independent medical examinations. They will make sure that the person who is receiving the $50,000 or slightly more a year is indeed a person disabled from his job.

When we have benefits of $50,000 a year being paid out, you can rest assured that there will be adversarial proceedings in order to maintain the level of income that someone injured has developed by way of accident benefits, statutory accident benefits or no-fault benefits. These benefits, and I can't stress this enough to the members on the government side, will not be paid automatically. They will be paid pursuant to the 68 pages of regulations, those intricate 68 pages.

People who are cut off and no longer have money to pay for the needs of their family are going to pick up that 68-page document and they're going to say: "For God's sake, what does this mean? I can't figure it out. How do I get my benefits? I can't afford the groceries next week. How am I going to pay the mortgage? How am I going to pay for my car? They've cut me off. What am I going to do to ensure that I'm going to get my benefits?" You know what they're going to have to do to get their benefits? They're going to have to go and hire a lawyer.

I know the government doesn't like lawyers. I know they would like to see every lawyer gone, but I'll tell you, the first people in this room who would run to hire a lawyer if they were injured would be the people on that side.

Mr Tilson: Just talk to Shelley Martel.

Mr Harnick: They would just run to get a lawyer as fast as they can. But at any rate --

The Chair: Mr Harnick, I'd appreciate if you stayed on here. I know most of the government members have a mouth and they have a brain. They can talk for themselves. You don't have to talk for them.

Mr Mahoney: You want to debate that?

Mr Winninger: What, the mouth or the brain?

The Chair: Make your comments. That's your perspective, maybe, but what has this got to do with what the government's thinking? What are you thinking about this bill?

Mr Harnick: I'm trying to convey my thoughts to the members of the government so when they have the opportunity to vote on clauses 1(1), (a) and (b), they're going to do the right thing.

The Chair: I've been listening to you --

Mr Harnick: I appreciate you may not like what I'm saying, but I'm entitled to say it, and you may want to censure me, and you're probably entitled as Chairman because you carry the clout.

The Chair: I've got no problem with you talking about this bill, but just don't talk what somebody else might say.

Mr Harnick: I'm directing all my remarks to the Chair. I know that if I said something inflammatory, Ms Mathyssen would be the first person to call me to task because Ms Haeck isn't in the room.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, everyone's present. Carry on.

Mr Harnick: Thank you. Now I forgot where I was again.

Mr Winninger: So what else is new?

Mr Mahoney: You've got to start over again.

Mr Harnick: Start again.

Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): Committee room 1, Charles.

The Chair: Charles, the government members can speak for themselves. You know that.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): He was talking about us getting lawyers.

Mr Harnick: Thank you. At any rate, as I was saying --

Mr Johnson: Yes, I was listening.

Mr Harnick: Right on -- when you're into $1,000 a week, $52,000 a year, I tell you, Mr Chairman, you're into the courtroom. You're into the courtroom if there's anything marginal about that claim. You're just going to be into the courtroom or into the arbitration room up on Yonge Street, the Ontario Insurance Commission building. It's right in my riding in Willowdale, right adjacent to the North York Civic Centre. You're all going to be taking a visit up to my riding, and you're probably going to be left with a bad taste in your mouth when you leave, because the insurance company in all likelihood is going to win, because it's going to have a lawyer who understands these 68 pages of regulations and unfortunately the poor claimant, who hasn't worked, whose family depends on those $50,000 worth of benefits, is going to show up there with some government-appointed worker adviser like they have at workers' compensation.

I remember -- it sticks in my brain and it will for a long time -- when Ray Rempel was here the other day representing the Ontario Head Injury Association, do you know what he said when Mr Tilson, I think it was, asked him the question about representation before the Ontario Insurance Commission? He said: "I don't want a worker adviser advising me or my child or my family or somebody from the Ontario Head Injury Association who's been injured in an accident. I don't want a worker adviser-type person giving me advice; I want Bert Raphael. I want Bert Raphael because Bert Raphael's as good as the people the insurance companies hire. That's who I want with me and that's who I'm entitled to. I shouldn't be relegated to second place. I shouldn't be relegated to second best. I want Bert Raphael. I want Bert Raphael there to fight for my statutory accident benefits, no-fault benefits or whatever it is you want to call them. I don't want a worker adviser."

Let me tell you something about that worker adviser concept. I don't know if any of you people have ever gone with a constituent to the Workers' Compensation Board, but 99% of the cases that are heard at the Workers' Compensation Board are heard without any opposition. The claimant shows up and he has his lawyer or worker adviser, but there's nobody challenging the claimant on the other side. Very seldom does that happen.

But when you go to the Ontario Insurance Commission or when you go to the Ontario Court of Justice to fight for that $1,000 a week, that $50,000 a year, you know who you have on the other side? You've got Harry Brown. And if you show up by yourself and Harry Brown's on the other side, do you know what's going to happen to you? You're going to be wiped out before you know it.

Mr Paul Klopp (Huron): That's quite a thing to say about him.


Mr Harnick: And when you leave Willowdale, you're not going to be very happy. You're going to say, "Boy, this is the worst place in the province of Ontario to have to be," because that's where you had your $50,000 a year taken away from you because you didn't have proper representation to appear before the Ontario Insurance Commission to fight for your no-fault benefits, your accident benefits, your statutory accident benefits, whatever they're called in subsection 1(1).

The Chair: I'm glad you got back to that.

Mr Harnick: I'm reading the words right out of the section.

The Chair: I know.

Mr Harnick: It's going to be pretty hard for you to shut me down if I do that.

Mr Owens: Were you suggesting that Mr Brown wants to take innocent accident victims' compensation away? Is that what you're suggesting here today?

Mr Harnick: No, I'm not suggesting anything of the sort. Mr Brown would be hired by an insurance company --


Mr Harnick: The question by Mr Owens is really --

Mr Owens: Are you suggesting that Mr Brown is taking benefits away from innocent accident victims?

Mr Tilson: You keep talking.

Mr Harnick: I hope, Mr Chairman, because Mr Owens has now interrupted and you haven't chastised him for doing that, that I'll have the opportunity without being called out of order --

The Chair: I'm listening to you. I'm sorry you stopped talking.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: You know, one thing is Mr Owens interrupting, which is completely out of order --

The Chair: I didn't recognize him.

Mr Tilson: -- well, he's heckling -- but it's quite inappropriate for the Chair to interrupt Mr Harnick. I ask you with the deepest respect to remember what your position is in this committee room. You're the Chairman of the committee.

Mr Klopp: He's out of order.

Mr Tilson: Mr Harnick is on topic. He just very briefly referred, a few seconds ago, to clause 1(1)(a).

The Chair: I heard him.

Mr Tilson: You then took it upon yourself to interrupt him. I would submit, Mr Chairman, that you're out of order. You must let the speaker continue.

The Chair: I am letting him.

Mr Tilson: He is in the process of debating subsection --

The Chair: I'm just reminding him to stay on the subject.

Mr Tilson: That's exactly what he's doing, and you're out of order, Mr Chairman, interrupting him.

The Chair: It's just a reminder.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chairman, quite frankly, I enjoy your interruptions and I enjoy the repartee that we can engage in periodically.

At any rate, let me go back to what Mr Owens was saying. Mr Owens was saying -- and I think it's incumbent upon me to protect Mr Brown's reputation -- that Mr Brown wants to take benefits away from innocent victims.

Mr Owens: No, no, no. That's not what was stated.

Mr Harnick: Mr Brown is hired by an insurance company. That insurance company will hire him because he's very good at what he does. I know that at first hand. They will hire him to protect their interests. He doesn't want to take money away from an accident victim, but he's doing a job for an insurance company, because the process that we have, whether you like it or not -- and I say this to Mr Owens very pointedly -- is an adversary process.

What you are contemplating doing is making it 100% impossible for accident victims, be they innocent or at fault, to go to that board and to protect themselves. You've done that by creating an act that (a) is hurtful to low-income earners and (b) is too complicated for any accident victim to have to deal with. That's why this bill is wrong. It's wrong because it's too complicated. It's too complicated and it's indecipherable by any accident victim.

Let me tell you something else. When you're an accident victim and you're lying in bed in a hospital and you have a statute that's complicated and you have to have somebody look after things for you, I don't think it's realistic to think that a worker adviser is going to be able to help you out while you're lying in a hospital bed, while you might be unconscious in a hospital, while you might be in a hospital unable to walk. I don't think it's realistic to think that a worker adviser is going to know what to do for you.

I would again strongly advise the government to take those 68 pages of complicated regulations and make them intelligible and ensure that every accident victim will have the opportunity to go before that board with the lawyer of his choice, be able to obtain costs at the end of the day if he's successful, and proceed on a basis that is not David versus Goliath, because Goliath is going to win and when Goliath wins you're going to be --

Mr Klopp: David won, I thought.

Mr Harnick: Yes, David won in the Bible, but he ain't going to win at the Ontario Insurance Commission. When you lose, when that accident victim loses -- and I know people think it's funny that the accident victim's going to lose. I don't think it's funny. There are people in this room who might think it's funny, but I don't think it's funny, but --


Mr Harnick: Pardon me?

The Chair: Mr Harnick, you have the floor.

Mr Mancini: Why don't you call Ms Haeck to order like you're always so anxious to --

The Chair: That's why I'm going to say, Mr Harnick, just carry on. Sometimes I don't hear on the side, left and right. I've heard you at times and I haven't mentioned you; I've just let you carry on.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chair, there's nothing wrong --

The Chair: Okay, would you carry on, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: There's nothing wrong with a person who heckles and I kind of welcome it. But what really bothers me is people who heckle and don't heckle loud enough so I can hear the things they're saying. It really bothers me. It really bothers me that people sit here and pretend to know something about auto insurance and play God in terms of the kind of protection people are going to have, and then when they speak I don't have the opportunity to hear them.

The Chair: Does this have anything to do with section 1?

Mr Harnick: It has everything to do with section 1, because Bill 164, Mr Chairman, as I said earlier -- and that's why it was very important for me to give you the historical background. We've gone from a system that was total tort to a system of $70-a-week compensation by way of accident benefits. Then we went to a system that went to $140 a week accident benefits, then we went to the OMPP which is $600 a week maximum benefits. Now we're going to a system that is almost $1,000 a week -- accident benefits, statutory accident benefits, no-fault benefits, whatever you'd like to describe them as -- as set out in clauses 1(1)(a) or (b).

That's why this is becoming a very, very important debate, because everything victims are entitled to is found in those schedules that we're debating with gusto in terms of what we should call them. It's very important. Those concepts are what will save every accident victim, assuming they can decipher those 68 pages of regulation.

I think it's a very important debate we're having, and if people have comments I sure hope they'd speak up so I can hear them. That's why I'm going through all this so people can understand it. I don't want them to come to Willowdale and lose. I want them to come to Willowdale and say, "This insurance commission is working great and I can understand all these regulations."

I bet we could have the 10 or 12 technical people here probably tutor us individually for the next six months or a year and go through those 68 pages one section at a time, comma by comma, line by line, colon by colon, exclamation point by exclamation point, subsection by subsection. We could have a test at the end of the year after we've had individual tutoring and I'll bet you there's not one person in this room who would pass that test, because no one understands that 68-page document.

I bet you more than ever the people who would have the most difficulty understanding that are the bureaucrats who wrote it. They know that once they write it they give it away and the public has to assume it and it isn't their problem any more; it's the problem of people who are injured, be they innocent or not. The 68 pages are now dumped in their laps.

Bureaucrats don't care any more. They've done what the government asked them to do. They've prepared a 68-page document based on certain philosophies and it's not their baby any more. It's totally in the lap of the accident victim and the insurance company who sold them the policy. It's not the bureaucrats' problem any more. They just did what they were told by the government, misguided as they may be. That's what's going to happen, Mr Chair.


The Chair: Should I go on now to Mr Mahoney?

Mr Harnick: No. I'm not finished.

The Chair: I thought you were done.

Interjection: He just stopped breathing.

Mr Harnick: I know that you want me to --

The Chair: I heard your voice was going down and it sounded like you were ending your comments.

Mr Owens: He wants us to have a hanky ready.

Mr Harnick: You know, it's interesting -- Mr Owens says I want you to have a hanky ready. Well, Mr Owens should go to the hospital and see what people look like after they've been involved in an accident and then --

Mr Owens: A point of order.

The Chair: Okay, a point of order, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: With respect, having worked in a hospital for close to 10 years --

Mr Mancini: You should know better.

Mr Owens: -- I have an idea of exactly what victims look like.

Mr Tilson: Why are you putting this bill forward then? If you've seen all this stuff, how could you possibly bring this bill forward?

Mr Owens: My question through the Chair to Mr Harnick is, how does he ascertain the wishes of unconscious clients if he doesn't expect the worker advisers or whomever he may deem --

The Chair: I'm sorry. That's not a point of order.

Mr Harnick: Let me explain that then. I know Mr Owens sometimes --

The Chair: Mr Harnick, could you get back on the subject here, Bill 164?

Mr Harnick: I'm right back on it. I want to explain that concept.

The Chair: I forgot the last word you said but --

Mr Harnick: My voice was going low and I was changing topics. I was finished one and I am now moving on to another.

Mr Owens brought up a good point. He was paying attention and he brought up a good point. He said, "How can somebody who's unconscious look for protection?"

Let me tell Mr Owens something. Sometimes someone who is unconscious has a family. That unconscious person may be the breadwinner in the family and the dependants come to the hospital and they say: "My God, will he live or will she live? What are we going to do? We've got a mortgage payment due next month. We've got to pay for the car. We've got children who need clothing and food and what are we going to do?"

They're going to say: "That breadwinner, I know he had a car and he had a licence, and automobile insurance is mandatory in Ontario. He must have had a policy of automobile insurance. I know we send cheques out to that broker who's out on the Danforth. I know we send that cheque out to the broker and the broker gets the cheque and I'm sure he provides us a policy of automobile insurance. I don't know who the insurance company is but, my goodness, we must have a policy."

They go home and they root through all the papers in the little cabinet where all the valuables and the papers are and, lo and behold, they see a policy. On top it says State Farm or Allstate or Co-op or Economical or Zurich; I don't want to leave out anybody who may have appeared here as a deputant. But they see that policy and they get home and they say: "My God, somewhere in these 68 pages it might tell us what we're entitled to, but where is it and why can't we understand it? It says maybe we get this or maybe we get that or maybe we get a, b, c, d or e, but how do we understand this and what are we going to do? What are we going to do? How do we understand it? We'd better phone the broker."

The broker says, "Gee, we went to that auto insurance committee that was going all over the province and we told them we can't understand those 68 pages." They then call up the Canadian Bar Association and it says, "Gee, we went to that committee and we told them we don't understand it either." They say: "Maybe you'd better phone Steve Owens. He was the parliamentary assistant. I think he's the only person in the province of Ontario who understands these 68 pages."

Then they have to get busy and find Steve Owens. He might be the only person who can advise accident victims, because I think he's going to be the only person who says he understands these 68 pages.

Mr Mahoney: Good consulting business for you.

Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): The minister understands.

Mr Harnick: Mr Cooper advises that the minister might understand it, but you know what? I don't think he understands it either, because he's getting ready to bail out as the minister. As soon as this piece of legislation is through, he's out of here. He's gone. He's history. He's going to the Management Board and he's going to be the House leader. He's no longer interested in accident victims.

Mr Owens: That's not true. You're wrong.

Mr Harnick: He's going on to greener pastures and I don't think he's going to be interested in accident victims any more.

Mr Johnson: Isn't that hearsay, Charles?

Mr Harnick: No, it's speculation. It's even worse than hearsay; it's speculation. I have a lot more I could say, but I know Mr Mahoney is going to have some very pointed remarks about section 1. I just want to read the section out loud. It says:

"1(1) The Insurance Act is amended by,

"(a) striking out `no-fault benefits' and `no-fault benefit' wherever those expressions occur and substituting in each case `statutory accident benefits' and `statutory accident benefit,' as the case may be; and

"(b) striking out `no-fault benefits Schedule' wherever that expression occurs and substituting in each case `statutory accident benefits schedule.'"

I think that if they had looked at the legislation that existed before this, they would have found those same expressions already there. If they hadn't tried to reinvent the wheel with Bill 164, they wouldn't have these difficulties. It's all there. It's all in the OMPP, in the accident benefit schedules. It's all written there. But they had to go out and deliberately try to do something totally different, totally unnecessary. That's why it's so important to take a look at clauses 1(1)(a) and (b) of this act, because they typify the whole balance of this bill: badly written, badly conceived, impossible to understand.

Starting at section 1, every subsequent section of this bill is going to lead us to the next insurance crisis. That's what's going to happen.

The first insurance crisis was when we had the young lad in Brampton who was badly injured and got a judgement of about $7 million or $8 million. That sparked the first insurance crisis. That was an insurance crisis sparked by money: a big payout and not enough premiums coming in. Money sparked that. You know what's going to spark this? Section 1 and every subsequent section to it. It is going to lead to a problem of money, because premiums are going to be more, payouts are going to be confused, accident benefits are going to be confusing and consumers are not going to be able to handle this. That's what's going to spark the next insurance crisis.

This bill, in this section and every section that follows it, is going to lead us to the next insurance crisis. As sure as we're sitting here today, right now, I will bet anybody here that two years from now we will have more disgruntled claimants unhappy about the way this act works and what they have to pay for it. Just in time for the next election, they're going to remember that this was the way the government kept its promise to help innocent accident victims.


Mr Mancini: It's the way they broke their promise.

Mr Harnick: Mr Mancini's quite right. They're going to remember that this is the way they broke the promise they made in September 1990. They're going to remember Bill 164 as the proof of the broken promise and they're going to hold it against this government and every member representing the government when they run in the next election.

I would strongly ask every member of this government -- boy, I've spoken for so long, most of them have left the room -- to go back to the minister, to the parliamentary assistant, to the technical people, and say: "Hoist this bill and start again. Bring back a bill that keeps the promise we made to the public, to the five million insured individuals in this province."

The Chair: I take it that party will bring in public auto insurance in the next election. Mr Mahoney.

Mr Mahoney: Do you want to respond to that?

Mr Harnick: On a point of order.

Mr Mancini: Put your foot in it again, Mr Chair.

Mr Harnick: I do not think it is one bit fair for the Chairman of a committee to offer editorial comment, particularly when I'm finished speaking about promises that his party broke, and impute motives to me, that that's something I said during the election. That's something the NDP said and it's something the NDP has to be reminded about every day. If the Chairman is prepared, or if that's the way he wants to play this game, and if that's the way the rules are going to be in here, that we're going to offer editorial comment, then I'm quite prepared for that.

If the Chairman does not want that to happen in this committee, I'd ask him to withdraw the last remark he made. Otherwise, I tell you, we're going to have open warfare in here. If it's editorial comment that he wants, it's editorial comment that he's going to get, and what's sauce for the goose --

The Chair: Okay. I'll withdraw the comment. Mr Mulroney.

Mrs Mathyssen: Close but no cigar.

Interjection: The other guy's in Ottawa.


The Chair: Mahoney. I'm sorry, I --

Mr Mahoney: Well, I'm not accepting your apology on that one. I've been called a lot of things but that's got to be the lowest of the low.

Interjection: Come on, Muldoon, get going.

Mr Mahoney: I've heard you have this difficulty in remembering people's names, but here, let me turn this around for you. There it is, so when you're calling me to order as this debate goes on, you'll know who I am.

The Chair: Okay.

Mr Mahoney: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman, for the opportunity to make a few brief comments about this bill. I would tell you that while you've withdrawn the remarks you made about Mr Harnick and his party bringing in public auto insurance, it is rather disconcerting, I say with respect, to have those kinds of editorial comments made. Perhaps it was simply made in jest, because the one good thing about Bill 164 is that it is not public auto insurance, because that would have been a disaster.

It's fascinating to see people like Mel Swart and Peter Kormos coming into this committee expressing their concern on behalf of the rank and file members of the New Democratic Party at the number of flip-flops that have occurred since you folks took office. I would say that the flip-flops have been primarily made and led by the Premier. I'm sure many of you go back to your ridings and have difficulty explaining this.

The Chair: Mr Mahoney, would you get to section 1?

Mr Mahoney: Yes. I'm sure you have a great deal of difficulty explaining it, but the one thing about this bill is that people can get angry at you flip-flopping on public auto insurance, but really, I thank you for making that change because public auto insurance would have been a greater disaster than this.

Now, having paid you that compliment, if you want to take it in those terms, I want to discuss clause 1(1)(a). I think that Mr Harnick made a lot of really very good points about defining statutory accident benefits, the confusion in the document and trying to clarify it.

I want to add just before I make those comments, though, that I particularly appreciate having the opportunity to do this because I was able to fill in on this committee, you'll recall, only on one other occasion in Ottawa, but I have been following it, and as a result, it's a little bit like looking at it from the outside. It's a little bit like having a member of the public's perspective on what's going on in the committee.

The public looks at what was, in my view, originally improperly labelled no-fault insurance as something that says everybody's just going to have all their costs taken care of and the actual fault will not be assessed, and we know that's not true. We know that there is always fault assessed.

Mr Owens: Responsibility.

Mr Mahoney: "Responsibility" is a good word. The parliamentary assistant helps me. We know that's important, and that alone is perhaps a reason for changing some of the terminology, which is what clause 1(1)(a) does. It changes the terminology from "no-fault benefits" to "statutory accident benefits."

I think it's important to understand that what the public became used to calling no-fault insurance is what we, when we were in government and during the committee hearings, consistently referred to as the Ontario motorist protection plan and not no-fault. We consistently did that because we wanted people to understand that we felt there would be savings, that there would be benefits both to the consumer and to the industry; no question about that.

This misguided notion that insurance is anything other than a product is something I've always found interesting. I happen to be a registered broker in the insurance industry, although not active, so I have some understanding of the business. This notion that somebody should provide insurance coverage without a view, towards at the end of the day, of the company making a profit is an interesting notion. It's one that your party, Mr Chairman, held dear for some time, until, of course, you got into government, and that's why people like Kormos and Mel Swart are so upset, because they see the way you've changed things around.

For anybody who sells a product, there's a cost to producing that product. If you take a look at your accident benefits and if you take a look at the cost of producing the schedule, what your claims were -- it's referred to as "the experience" in the industry -- that people have incurred during their time insured with that particular company, they then have to reflect that back. They say, "We've brought in $1,000 in insurance premiums and we've paid out $20,000 in benefits," or to fix automobiles or whatever. It's not really that mysterious.

The Ontario motorist protection plan attempted to reduce some of those costs. Mr Harnick referred to the fact that people don't seem to like lawyers until they need them. Reference was made to the Brampton incident. I happened to be a member of council in the region of Peel in the city of Mississauga in those days, and the Brampton incident threw everybody into a tizzy. The one area that was identified under the Ontario motorist protection plan by our government that was driving insurance premiums, that drove the costs in the insurance industry dramatically, was the legal fees that were charged on various cases.

Of the $7-million award that was granted to that young man in Brampton and his family, the vast majority would have gone to legal fees. A lot of it would have gone to taking the income the individual was being awarded in the form of lost financial benefits and what they refer to in the business as grossing it up. They grossed it up to pay taxes. Can you imagine? They grossed it up to pay income taxes because they felt that over the period of time that would be something this individual would have to pay.

Very little of the $7 million in total went to the actual victim, and that was seen as being wrong. It was something that was cooked up between the lawyers on both sides of the issue trying to settle the thing. Then the appeal took place. Here was this youngster with a record-setting settlement. The appeal took place, and I am told, although I must confess I don't have the exact figures, that the $7 million was reduced to something in the neighbourhood of $100,000: absolutely outrageous.

This boy was rendered a paraplegic. His whole life ahead of him was dramatically changed. There was some responsibility laid at the feet of Brampton for not having better signage posted, and yet now this youngster is left with minimal damages, minimal compensation. Who benefited? At the end of the day, the people who benefited the most were indeed the lawyers.

I'm not bashing the lawyers because they did a job and in the original case they did a tremendous job in getting such a substantial settlement for that young, injured victim. But then the system takes over and the appeal takes place and when the appeal takes place, more lawyers' fees are charged. At the end of the day there were millions of dollars in legal costs attached to a case that was an extremely tragic incident, and it threw the entire insurance industry, as Hazel would say in those days, tipsy. Everyone was panicking and all of a sudden coverage couldn't be acquired.

We couldn't get coverage in those days -- I was chairman of the recreation and parks committee -- for the volunteers who coached in sports and who worked in community organizations, for the people who worked in service clubs. We couldn't get the coverage. It wasn't how much did you have to pay for it; they simply refused to provide it. We wound up, as a municipality, self-insuring many of our own volunteers and the people who were working in areas where we had some jurisdiction.


But this created this crisis and what's so fascinating about this is that the crisis that created it, the $7-million award, wound up, on appeal, being less than $100,000 for the victim, and you shake your head and you go, "What in the world was the crisis about in the first place?"

The people who have truly suffered out of all of this are actually the consumers of insurance of all types, whether it's corporations, municipalities, drivers, young people, seniors. They're the ones who have actually suffered. Then the insurance companies come back, and there were many accusations made during the debate on OMPP by Mr Kormos and members of your party and by the third party, which now defends the OMPP with, I think, great accuracy. I enjoyed the comments that --


Mr Mahoney: That's what I've heard and I recognize that this is only my second day in this committee, so there may have been other days when you were less than charitable to the former Liberal government. I would find that hard to believe, but it is possible.

But I did hear Mr Harnick defending in his discussion of clause 1(1)(a) the benefits package, the difference between gross and net, suggesting that the OMPP benefits package was substantially better. The ability under the OMPP to sue will be gone with Bill 164, the ability to sue for economic loss, albeit with certain conditions and a certain threshold. It's really rather incredible.

I've read through some of the documentation of the additional items that were handed in today for the purposes of this and many of them make reference to this bill taking away the ability to sue for economic loss, eliminating it altogether. I know you want to keep me on this topic of clause 1(1)(a), but I just suggest to you that the issue of no-fault, in parenthesis, versus some bureaucratic setup of statutory accident benefits, I think is really fundamental to the entire bill, to the whole issue.

What I thought should have been clause 1(1)(a) in this bill would have been a commitment by this government to activate the road safety agency, which I believe is sitting on somebody's shelf somewhere, titled Bill 39, talking about road safety. That should have been clause 1(1)(a), not adjusting the definitions and the benefits and putting in the bureaucratese. With this clause 1(1)(a), what your bill will do is create another subculture industry of consultants who will have to explain to everybody; they've already gone through that with the OMPP.

By the way, I'm one member of the former Liberal government who was not 100% happy with the OMPP and suggested to your minister in a speech in the Legislature about a year and a half ago that what you should do, and this is prior to Bill 164 -- instead of going to a public auto insurance plan, which is what we were all fearful of at that time, what you should do is to take the Ontario motorist protection plan and tinker with it if you must and make some changes to it if you must, but analyse it and recognize that it has created savings and it has eliminated a lot of heartache; it has not solved all the problems. There were problems in relationship to small business that needed to be addressed that were not addressed in the OMPP.

It's interesting when you see even brokers coming before this committee and saying they're not happy and people from my own fraternity saying they're not happy. A broker would sit there and say, "You know, if they create enough of an uproar, then this is going to mean that people are going to change their brokers, because they're going to be unhappy with the insurance company because we all know, I have heard no one dispute the fact, that insurance premiums are going to rise with this bill."

When they rise, all of sudden people start doing what we refer to as going to market. They go out to market and they go to different companies and they go to different brokers, and if a broker is sharp and aggressive every time the government comes in with some amendment or some change to the Insurance Act, then that broker can in turn pick up new clients, and lawyers will pick up new clients as a result of changes in this. Many of them have spoken about that.

Yet even though brokers recognize that they can in fact perhaps personally benefit from such uncertainty in the insurance industry -- because they don't set the prices; they simply are what the term implies. They broker between the client and the insurance company, so they don't set the prices and they could benefit from some of these changes, but even the brokers are coming forward and saying: "Why don't you implement the road safety agency? Why don't you adopt the graduated licensing proposal?"

Do you know that in Germany, a country known for one thing, the autobahn and the lack of speed limits, the driving age is 18 and the drinking age is 14? I had a wonderful experience of taking a hockey team of 14-year-olds over to Germany and they went in and found out they could get a McBeer with their McDonald's. It was quite a --

The Chair: No smoking though.

Mr Mahoney: No smoking, but they can have a beer with their Big Mac. It's quite a challenge. So they allow the kids in Germany to drink from 14 to 18. Their philosophy is, "We'll get this out of their system before we put them behind the wheel of a weapon such as an automobile." I don't know. Interesting philosophy. Why don't we look at some of those experiences?

My experience, having three boys, 17, 20 and 22, all of whom started driving at the age of 16, was that generally speaking, if they are taught properly in the beginning -- and that should never be by a parent; it should be by a school -- 16-year-olds are actually very good drivers for the most part. They have quick reflexes and they're able to react quickly to difficulties on the road.

I'm not saying that we should increase that age necessarily, but clearly we all saw the terrible tragedy of the teenagers who were killed just a week or so ago. I'm not one who would lay the blame for that terrible tragedy at the feet of the government, although I have heard others do that because of its inability to move on the graduated licence. I think all of us legislators would probably agree that a graduated licensing program could have avoided that accident, or at least -- you never know, because kids may do it anyway. But I think it's a step that certainly the insurance broker fraternity, the legal fraternity, the insurance companies, everyone agrees that we should be seriously looking at graduated licensing.

I don't understand why my good friend your minister is being so slow on this. I know, and some of you will recall, the accomplishment of Bill 92 that I think you can all share in, which was my private member's bill. You saw how quickly that went through the Legislature to stop young people from gambling on professional sports. Why can't we move that quickly on saving young people from killing themselves in automobile accidents?

Really, why can't we put the partisanship aside and get a bill like that forward into the Legislature and stop saying, "We're looking at it, we're looking at it"? Let's look at it in public. Let's look at it in this committee. Let's look at it in relationship to Bill 164 and say, is there something we can legitimately do instead of getting into -- and the folks, I'm sure, who suffer through these hearings and the speeches -- you hear it all the time -- get upset at the bickering that goes on.


Why can't we take something like we did in Bill 92 and say, "This is a good idea"? If some of you in the government don't think it's a good idea or some of us in opposition don't think it's a good idea, I think we owe it to our young people and their parents to tell them that.

Section 1 of this bill should not be tinkering with whether you call it no-fault benefits or statutory accident benefits. Section 1 of this bill should be to bring in the road safety agency, to put it in place. It should be to adopt a form of graduated licensing that allows our young people to learn over a longer period of time through testing and through upgrading and through working with the agencies that currently provide driver education.

You will know that insurance companies give discounts to people who pass the Young Drivers of Canada test. As a result of doing that, you can save several hundred dollars on a young person's insurance premiums. We should expand that. We should be prepared to give them perhaps discounts as they show a safe driving record on six-month intervals. We should be perhaps prepared to give them discounts when they're away at university.

I have my two oldest sons at university. If I take them off the insurance policies which cost me a lot of money, then the only place they will be able to get insurance when they go into the real world on their own will be the Facility. An insurance company will not take them if I cut them off my insurance, and I have to pay a couple of thousand dollars a year to insure three young drivers. I am a consumer, in that sense, the same as anyone else.

I say to the insurance company: "But two of my boys are away eight months of the year or whatever it is and at university and are not driving a vehicle. Why do I have to keep them on the policy? It makes no sense to me. Why could I not put them on a special rider so that when they come home and do use the vehicle with my permission, they're covered?" The insurance company says, "You can do that, but if you do that, when your son gets a job and goes into the work world and buys a vehicle, he will only be able to get insurance coverage through the Facility," and we know how expensive the Facility is.

I think that's wrong. Why don't you in this bill address an issue like that, to say to the insurance companies --

Mr Owens: We did.

Mr Mahoney: Well, you haven't, according to all of the documentation I have been reading, addressed it to the satisfaction that will ensure young people can get insurance while having what you would call a broken record, a period of time where they're not insured.

You could do road safety. You could do graduated licence. You could do interrupted insurance. You could do a number of things that would make it better for the consumer who has to deal in the very difficult world of insurance instead of simply saying, "Let's blame the insurance companies." The insurance companies have a product. They're in business to make money. Why shouldn't they be?

Even though this is socialist Ontario, you still have to be able to make money. You still have to be able to generate profits, economic growth. Even Bob Rae seems to understand that, as he's gone further to the right on some issues than Attila the Hun or than my colleagues to my left even, if you can imagine.

There are things you could do that would be constructive. I suggest you would get all-party agreement to fast-track the road safety agency. You would get all-party agreement to fast-track a debate at least on graduated licensing. We should be talking to the young people out there.

Nobody wants to take away their ability to go to work. My own kids always have worked and they have to get to work, whatever. They have to get to hockey or whatever it is they're doing. Mom and dad are always too busy, so they have to get there somehow. The public transit, at least in Mississauga, is perhaps not quite expanded to the degree where they're able to jump on a streetcar, so they need a car. As a result they need insurance. You haven't addressed those things.

Let me tell you about road conditions. Instead of concentrating on whether "no-fault" should be changed to "statutory accident benefit schedule," you want to talk about Highway 403. Many of you may have read about some of the terrible, tragic accidents that have occurred on Highway 403. From Mavis Road to about Winston Churchill, I would say, is the route. It's the section of highway where there have been some 50 accidents every year. It's known as "death row." There have been people who have gone over into the Credit River in their cars. There's been a terrible loss of life. Many of those people who have been killed lived in my community, and it has been a very, very difficult situation. Instead of worrying about changing "no-fault" to "statutory accident" benefits, why doesn't your minister, the Honourable Mr Pouliot, do something about repairing Highway 403?

This is something as well where if we had better roads, perhaps insurance premiums could go down because we'd have fewer accidents. I would say if there's one thing every member of this Legislature would agree upon, and the reason we are wasting all of this time and taxpayers' money on insurance is because at the end of the day we would like to be able to save the consumer some money. We'd like to be able to see a system that would reduce or at the very least stabilize insurance premiums. The OMPP did that. It brought some stability to a market that was all over the place. You will recall the days when David Peterson allowed some increases, put a freeze on, then allowed some increases, to much howling by opposition members opposite. That was simply a recognition that the insurance industry is a business like anything else and they have costs going up, and inflation in those days was 7%, 8% or 9%. You can't just ignore those problems. You can't just legislate them out of business, because when you do that you legislate thousands of jobs -- mostly women, by the way, in the insurance industry -- out of existence.

What we really want to do, and this brings out my point on Highway 403, on that very sad section of road, is we want to reduce premiums. Well, how do you reduce the cost of a product? An insurance policy is a product; you have to pay for it. How do you reduce the cost? You reduce the cost by reducing the amount of claim that is paid out by the insurer. Very simple. It's not magical. It's not mysterious. Unlike this bill and some of the other things, it's not very difficult. Everybody can understand it. A brand-new 16-year-old driver understands that he or she pays a certain amount of money out and if they have an accident they pay that money out so that the car gets fixed or they get fixed, or whatever happens. That's what drives your premiums.

Safe roads might reduce accidents. I think they would. If having safe roads reduces accidents, then it would seem to me it would reduce claims. If you reduce claims, you reduce premiums. You see, we can accomplish what we all want to accomplish with just a little bit of common sense and put the effort and the money, instead of wasting it -- there's been substantial reference to the staff who have to sit through these hearings and do all of this work. Let them work on some things that need to be fixed. Let them work on improving the sections of the OMPP that need to be improved and let's get on with fixing our roads and helping our young people learn how to drive better.

Let's discuss the issue, because many of the benefits that would be paid out under clause 1(1)(a) will in many cases be paid to seniors. There's a group of ophthalmologists who believe that over a certain age -- which exists now, but it should be done more regularly and at a younger age -- eye testing should be mandatory for seniors who are driving. I have some experience with this, having a history of glaucoma in my own family. The difficulties of living with that and the treatment that's required and the problems that can occur with someone with either something as serious as glaucoma or even with cataracts, even with problems of that nature -- eyes are obviously pretty important to be a safe driver. You need reaction time and you need to be -- and we should be testing. Society should be testing people to find out if indeed they need perhaps some remedial training. Perhaps they need some assistance, whatever. There are so many things we could do.


I mentioned Highway 403, Mr Chairman. I had a lady call me, talking about this insurance bill, as a matter of fact. I drive the 403 a lot, probably every day, maybe only, I don't know, four or five times a week. She said: "Have you noticed how many things are in the air, flying, pieces of the highway?" I thought, you know, come on, pieces of the highway are not flying around in the air. And all of a sudden I realized. I've got a couple of chips in the windshield. I wonder where they came from. I was driving the highway just last night and I noticed something bang into my window. That highway, that death row, Highway 403, is disintegrating, literally, right before our eyes, and we're not doing anything.

She made the claim, and asked me to bring this to the attention of the minister, that many of the accidents that occur, could it be that someone has to swerve suddenly? The trucks that drive on that highway create ruts like you wouldn't believe. You've really got to be paying attention. It's wide open. It's just conducive to being a speedway, and the road is being beaten up on a regular daily basis.

That's a section of highway in Ontario that I'm particularly familiar with, but down in Windsor I'm sure Highway 401 is very dangerous. I know as you go through London there are some very serious problems. Now, there is some work being done there. I know that and I appreciate that.

Mr Winninger: Yes, $40 million worth.

Mr Mahoney: But what I'm saying is, why have we zeroed in -- because we have a couple of NDP cabinet ministers from London? -- on that section of 401 and they're not building 416 in Ottawa? They're not widening that to four lanes. They're not improving Highway 403, where we have quantified -- we've got bodies in the ground as a result of Highway 403. We don't need to study it.

The Chair: Mr Mahoney.

Mr Mahoney: I know. I'm coming back to this. I apologize for getting off, but I think it relates.

The Chair: If you could get back to that section in here. I know you're getting carried away, and we're all listening.

Mr Tilson: Right on topic.

Mr Mahoney: Thank you. I think it is on topic, because the issue in clause 1(1)(a), I've given you four or five suggestions on what you could call 1(1)(a) instead of this one, which just tinkers with definitions and tries to confuse the public as to what they're going to get. I would ask you to go to your caucus and to raise these issues, even though I know the Premier doesn't want to call the Legislature back until, when, April or May, perhaps?

Mr Mancini: June 1, I think.

Mr Mahoney: June 1. He can't afford any more resignations or scandals, so I guess we're not going to get a chance to really do the work that needs to be done on behalf of the public in the Legislature. I can see I'm making some members of the public yawn. I'll try not to do that.

Mr Winninger: It's not the first time.

Mr Mahoney: No, it's not the first time, actually; it happens regularly. But that doesn't stop me.

But I've given you several examples: The German experience, where they license kids to drive at 18; the graduated licence experience, where you've got brokers, insurance companies, lawyers, parents, teachers, everybody saying you've got to go to this kind of program to stop the carnage on our highways.

I've talked about the road safety agency. I don't even know what's in that agency -- maybe the critic knows better than I -- except that it talks about road safety, and all of the proposals I've seen coming forward have indeed talked about road safety. That's all I heard in Ottawa, other than Mr Kormos bashing the government on a fairly regular basis, which must have been somewhat disquieting and embarrassing for members of the government caucus, to have one whom I know they care for so deeply ripping the government apart. Anyway, all I heard was that.

I didn't hear people coming forward and saying, "Well, we'd like you to change the words `no-fault benefits' to `statutory accident benefits schedule.'" I didn't hear anybody requesting that. I didn't hear that clause 1(1)(a) being something people in the industry or the public or those coming forward were talking about. I heard them saying -- you know the old thing; I've heard it said for years, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

The OMPP ain't broke, folks. It's got some problems. It's got some tinkering that can improve it, just like any legislation would have, but it ain't broke. You're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, taking away the right to sue for economic loss.

Just think about this. Here's a letter from Jim Flaherty of Whitby, Ontario. He says: "I'm writing to express my opposition to Bill 164. It is unfair to take away the right of innocent accident victims to recover full economic loss. Why should the innocent victim of a car accident be victimized by your proposed legislation when a victim of other kinds of negligence is not? Please do not take this step, which has never been taken anywhere else in the world, civilized or uncivilized. Do not take away the futures of injured persons."

It's interesting that you would take away the right to sue. At least in the OMPP we put definitions and thresholds in place. We said if it's permanent and serious -- what would be permanent or serious to one person might be different. Under these benefits in clause 1(1)(a), which the parliamentary assistant wants me to get back to --

Mr Owens: No. I'm asking for a copy of the letter.

Mr Mahoney: You should have it. It's in the package. I'm just going through the material the clerk provided to me, which I thought all members would have read. I know the Liberal members certainly have read all of this.

Mr Mancini: I've even underlined certain sections.

Mr Mahoney: Sure you have. Maybe the parliamentary assistant will read that in bed tonight to try to put himself to sleep.

The reference Mr Flaherty from Whitby makes is that there is no other area in our society where you would take away the right of a person to sue another person under certain terms and conditions if that person were negligent and caused that individual some harm. Why would we do that?

This is not the province of Quebec. If you want to be an elected representative in the province of Quebec, maybe you should move there. This is the province of Ontario. This gentleman's question is very legitimate. Why would you do it? Why should the innocent victim of a car accident be victimized by your proposed legislation? I have not heard an answer to that.

If a doctor makes a mistake and causes serious damage to a patient, that patient has a right of redress, has a right to sue for economic loss, has a right to sue for pain and suffering. It happens all the time. We have many areas where this kind of ability exists in our society.

Under the OMPP we said, "What we want to do here and what any insurance legislation or insurance act should strive to do is simply to take that innocent accident victim and put him as close as possible to the place he was in before the accident." That's what I think. You probably would agree with me that that's what we should be striving to do. We want to keep the premiums down and we want to have fairness for the victims and put them back into the place they were in before the accident occurred.

Mr Harnick: You took away the right to sue.

Mr Mahoney: That's right. Well, we didn't take it away. We put restrictions on it that said it had to be permanent and it had to be serious, because we were concerned -- we talked about the case from Brampton -- about the legal costs that were there.

Mr Tilson: That's taking away the right to sue. You took away the right to sue no matter how you look at it.

Mr Mahoney: Now they're going back to being the irrational people I used to know and love when they were on that side.

Mr Harnick: It was too severe.

Mr Mahoney: You can argue that. The Tories can argue that point, that it was too severe. I heard that argument from many of the men and women who practise law in my own riding who felt it was too severe.

Mr Harnick: Even the dippers used to say that.

Mr Mahoney: That's true, they did.

The Chair: Mr Harnick.

Mr Tilson: It's true though.

The Chair: Carry on.

Mr Mancini: It's another example of you calling a member of the opposition to order.

Mr Mahoney: Do you want to reprimand him while I have a drink of water?

Mr Mancini: I don't want to reprimand anybody else on the government side by name, Mr Chairman, but we're noting that.

The Chair: Mr Mahoney was very patient and very quiet when Mr Harnick was speaking. I think the courtesy should be given to Mr Mahoney also.


Mr Mahoney: They're having difficulty heckling because they have to agree with just about everything I've said so far. I think that's probably the problem. Who would argue against road safety and who would argue against graduated licensing? A debate at least, a debate on that. Who would argue against fixing our roads so we stop the young people from being killed on our streets? That is something we have a chance to do something about.

Mr Harnick: I agree. He's right on.

Mr Mahoney: Mr Chairman, bear with me; it's a little bit of an aside. After we all passed Bill 92 to stop young people from gambling, I walked out of the Legislature and everyone was congratulating me and I said to someone who was there, to one of the other members -- I think it was Mr Stockwell -- "You know the problem with this is, this is about as good as it gets, certainly when you're in the back bench of the opposition," and that's a real sad commentary, to me.

You, sitting in the back benches of the government --

Mr Mancini: It's worse.

Mr Mahoney: It is worse; I've been there. I know how frustrating that can be when you have good ideas, when you have things that you think you can implement, and yet you can't get anybody in your own cabinet to pay attention to you. You can't even get Bob Rae to pay attention to you, and you don't have the luxury that I have where I'm able to stand up and embarrass the Premier into taking action because his kids had access to legalized gambling in the corner stores. I, at least, as a member of the opposition, had that opportunity. You could do it, but you'd wind up like Kormos; you'd be out of the --

The Chair: Mr Mahoney, could you get back on the subject, please?

Mr Mahoney: Yes, thanks. It is sort of on the subject when you think about it, though, because it's the system -- what I'm saying is, instead of wasting our time and talking about whether these should be called no-fault benefits or statutory accident benefits, we should be talking about how we can change the system to allow members of the government back bench and Chairs of committees -- God forbid -- to actually have a right to say something without getting fired like they did to you last time you opened your mouth and said something that was very common sense in nature. What did they do? They removed you from your chair. They take away the perk. There goes the 10 grand extra dough that you get. You put it out in your newsletter, "Hey, check me out, I'm the new Chairman of the economics committee, the most powerful committee at Queen's Park." I had your job, I know, and I sent out all my letters telling folks --

The Chair: Could you get back on the subject, please? I appreciate the flattery.

Mr Mahoney: You understand what they're doing here. They say to you, "Here's what we want you to do: We want you to worry about section 1(1)(a), whether or not this should be `no-fault benefits' or `statutory accident benefits schedule,'" because when they get you worrying about that, you don't speak up about the things that really matter, about the things that could change the quality of life for the drivers, the brokers and even the insurance companies.

You represent -- whether you like it or not -- the insurance companies too. You represent the men and women who work for them. If you don't represent them properly and allow them to function in the business community, what happens? They go broke. And if they go broke, the men and women lose their jobs, and if they lose their jobs, it just snowballs. All of a sudden you won't have as many union-paying members contributing to your party. It's going to affect your fund-raising abilities. So what they do is they get you offtrack, "they" being -- they used to call them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse when they ran our government. I think there was one horseman of the Apocalypse, and I'm not sure which end of the horse he represents, but there is one person calling the shots, telling people what to do.

Mr Mancini: It's Ross McClelland.

Mr Mahoney: It's not Piper any more, is it? Whatever happened to him?

So they get you concentrating on all of this stuff that really doesn't matter; let's face it. What's going to happen to your constituents if we don't pass section 1(1)(a)? I can just hear them going: "Oh my God, I sent them to Queen's Park to represent me and they didn't pass section 1(1)(a). I don't believe it. This is just going to affect my life terribly." What would they say if you actually had the guts to introduce a private member's bill from a government backbencher legislating graduated licensing? What would they say?

Mr Tilson: You'd be in trouble. You'd be in big trouble.

Mr Mahoney: No, they wouldn't; their constituents would stand up and say: "Look at that. That member's actually working for me, trying to save my kids and their friends from getting killed on the highways."

What would the people in communities like Mississauga say if a government member stood up and said, "We've got to spend more money fixing Highway 403, because we've got dead bodies to prove it's a terrible section of highway and it will reduce accidents, save lives and reduce premiums"? Instead, they tell you to work on clause 1(1)(a).

The Chair: Mr Mahoney, you're repeating yourself. You've already told us that.

Mr Mahoney: I'm trying to get a point across, like Mr Harnick was doing, that might influence these members in how they vote. That is really, at the end of the day, our job. We're talking about clause 1(1)(a). I'm trying to say to these folks that I was fortunate in getting the support of the Legislature on a private member's bill, and they could do the same thing; I'd support them. I'd stand up in Mississauga, which knows me not to be an NDP supporter -- the folks in Mississauga, you might understand -- and say: "You know what? I support that government member of the New Democratic Party because he or she had the guts, the courage to stand up and do what was right." I'm telling you right now I would do that. I would be prepared to do that.

Bring in the road safety agency. Let us have a look at the details of it. There may be some changes needed, but bring it in. Make that clause 1(1)(a) of this dumb act and maybe then we'd get something and we could stand up as opposition parties and say: "These guys are trying. We're mad at them for backing off their promises." I, for one, congratulate you for backing off on the promise to bring in public auto insurance.


Mr Mahoney: No, no, I think Bob Rae sort of smelled the coffee. He saw all of these people losing their jobs and he smelled the coffee.

The Chair: Mr Mahoney, you've got two minutes.

Mr Mahoney: Why? Are we leaving?

The Chair: At 5 o'clock.

Mr Mahoney: I thought I had till 6.

The Chair: And I thought that we'd get section 1 passed here.

Mr Mahoney: Mr Chairman, we could have unanimous consent to allow me to speak till 6. I think my colleagues on this side would probably agree with that.

Interjection: No.

The Chair: It's not unanimous. You're losing your two minutes.

Mr Mahoney: No unanimous consent on that? That's unfortunate, because I don't want to vote on 1(1)(a) until I at least --

Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): Until I've said something.

Mr Mahoney: That's exactly right. My colleague the member for Nepean hasn't had an opportunity to talk to us about Highway 416 and some of those other things, and look at the notes that Mr Harnick said I was making during his speech. I haven't got into any of that. I haven't got into the issues that affect seniors and students and others. I've only just briefly touched the economic loss. How draconian. Can you imagine that a supposed defender of human rights -- this must drive Kormos around the bend -- a government that would purport to defend to the last breath the rights of victims, you would think, being social democrats -- it's unbelievable. Christel, how do you go home and sleep at night?

Ms Haeck: I have no problem at all.

Mr Mancini: She probably doesn't have your standards.

Mr Mahoney: It's unbelievable that you would take away the rights of an individual to sue for economic loss. Even the heartless Liberal government that you used to bash regularly allowed for a right to sue under certain conditions, permanent and serious, and we put a handle on the premiums. How can you do this? It's just truly mind-boggling. When Kormos stands up in committee and in the Legislature and Mel Swart, that beacon of integrity --

The Chair: I recognize Ms Haeck. A point of order?

Ms Haeck: Yes, it is a point of order and it is a small one, but it is one that I think does have some impact on these hearings. I would like to add to Mr Mahoney's comments about the kind of drinking age that is available in Europe, in Germany in particular. I do have a little information about that. At the age of 14 a teenager is required to have parental supervision before he or she can drink in public. I think that's an important note to make.

The Chair: It's not a point of order and I think it is just some clarification of Mr Mahoney. Mr Mahoney, I have to say that the clock has hit 5 o'clock. We'll adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning -- and I'll make it clear so nobody gets lost in the hallways -- in room 1.

The committee adjourned at 1700.