Thursday 13 May 1993

Insurance Statute Law Amendment Act, 1993, Bill 164


*Chair / Président: Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/

Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Wiseman, Jim (Durham West/-Ouest ND)

*Caplan, Elinor (Oriole L)

Carr, Gary (Oakville South/-Sud PC)

Cousens, W. Donald (Markham PC)

Ferguson, Will, (Kitchener ND)

*Jamison, Norm (Norfolk ND)

*Kwinter, Monte (Wilson Heights L)

*Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND)

North, Peter (Elgin ND)

Phillips, Gerry (Scarborough-Agincourt L)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford ND)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Elston, Murray J. (Bruce L) for Mr Phillips

Huget, Bob (Sarnia ND) for Mrs Mathyssen

Klopp, Paul (Huron ND) for Mr Sutherland

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND) for Mr North

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

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud ND) for Mr Jamison

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Fisher, Julia, legal counsel, automobile insurance review, Ministry of Finance

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)

Owens, Stephen, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance

Clerk / Greffière: Grannum, Tonia

Staff / Personnel: Spakowski, Mark, legislative counsel

The committee met at 1008 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 Paul R. Johnson): The standing committee on finance and economic affairs is resuming clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 164, An Act to amend the Insurance Act and certain other Acts in respect of Automobile Insurance and other Insurance Matters.

For those who were on the committee previously, and indeed for those who weren't on the committee previously, we last met February 15 to 18 inclusive to deal with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 164. The last speaker at that time was Mr Tilson. I think a number of things have happened since we were in our clause-by-clause. Certainly, a summary on the Task Force on Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care Benefits has been arrived at. There has been a move by the Minister of Transportation to introduce a graduated licensing system in the province of Ontario.

Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): No, no, that's not right. He has a consultation paper. There isn't anything out. Listen, the Chair can't go on and do advertising.

The Chair: I'm sorry. All right, I respect Mr Elston's comments and I won't advertise any more. But some things have happened since we last met for clause-by-clause.

Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): Some very positive things, I might add.

Mr Elston: Actually, I wouldn't mind, Mr Chair, if the parliamentary assistant wanted to do a run-through of some of the things that have transpired and even brought us up to date if there have been things happening. I think that's probably not the role of the Chair so much as it is the parliamentary assistant's.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): One of the concerns that I have -- I know you've been duly elected Chairman of this committee; at least I believe you have. I also know that you're parliamentary assistant to Economic Development and Trade. We are now on the verge of continuing on with section 2 of the bill. We have a considerable number of sections to go through; there have been a number of things happen since this committee last rose.

I have two concerns, Mr Chair, on whether or not it is appropriate that you be the Chair of this specific section, in other words, dealing with auto insurance, for several reasons. One, you are the parliamentary assistant for economics and trade. I believe that it's going to require a great deal of time and effort by the Chair of this committee on this subject. We're getting into a great deal of numbers. The issue of graduated licensing may come up. The issue of the advocacy matter that Professor Arthurs is getting into, we may be dealing with that. There are now going to be a whole set of new regulations. There are a whole raft of things that this committee will have to deal with as time progresses, and the committee will have a great deal of work.

So I have two concerns, as to whether, one, you would be able to take away sufficient time to proceed in your capacity as Chair of this committee from your role as parliamentary assistant for Economic Development and Trade.

The second reason why I question whether or not, perhaps, Mr Chair, you should step aside as Chair of this committee at this time is that I believe that you have a conflict of interest, because in your role as parliamentary assistant of Economic Development and Trade, one of the great concerns that has come forward in the hearings has been that there may be a lack of investment --

Mr Owens: What's your point? You've made an allegation that there may be a conflict of interest.

Mr Tilson: Yes, I'm making -- can you tell him to be quiet while I make my point of order, Mr Chair?

Mr Owens: You've made an allegation with respect to conflict of interest.

The Chair: Order, please. Mr Tilson, would you get to your point of order?

Mr Tilson: I'm essentially saying, Mr Chairman, that I believe that you have a conflict of interest because one of the allegations that --

The Chair: Mr Tilson, if I might, that's not a point of order. Indeed, the Speaker's ruled on this already and it's not a point of order.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I don't think you have the time to put forward --

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: I think that you're either going to have to resign as Chair of this committee for this particular area of auto insurance or you're going --

The Chair: Order, Mr Tilson. Mr Owens, would you like to give us a brief rundown on what's happened with regard to Bill 164 and some things that might be relevant to that since we last met in February?

Mr Owens: I'd be pleased to do that, Chair. The one request that I would make is if somebody from the clerk's office could approach the director of the Legislative Assembly to see if we can get this engine turned off here so that I can hear myself think as we move through the day here today.

As the Chair quite accurately pointed out --

Mr Elston: We have it every day, all day long in our offices. I'm sorry, but --

Mr Owens: Sir, you may have a higher tolerance level for --

The Chair: If Mr Owens is raising a point of privilege, then indeed he has one, Mr Elston, if he can't hear adequately.

Mr Elston: We have been living with this -- I have in my office -- for two years.

The Chair: I recognize that it's been a problem for many people, Mr Elston, but if indeed Mr Owens is raising this as a point of privilege then he's correct, and if we can do something about it, we're going to try and do that.

Mr Owens: I'm sorry that you and your party feel that they can judge the sensitivity levels for people across the province.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): If you want to hear noise, come over to our office.

Mr Owens: It's my view that this is a personal issue and I've made a request, and if you don't like it, you have an option to dispute that ruling with the Chair.

The Chair: Mr Owens, would you please --

Mr Owens: In terms of how we've proceeded with this legislation, I see we have started in kind as we left off. We spent a number of days -- four days, I think, Chair -- debating two clauses. We were unable to pass section 1 and then moved on to section 2.

In response to the requests of the industry, of public safety groups across the province, the Minister of Transportation did in fact announce a consultation with respect to graduated licensing. It's our view that this safety measure, in consultation with the industry, will have a positive effect in the sense that we will be able to reduce the number of injuries on the road, ultimately the number of fatalities, and that that in fact should have a beneficial rate impact for drivers across the province.

It's my hope, Chair, that we can proceed through this bill, especially the first number of sections, which, for Messrs Elston and Kwinter and the member for Oriole, who did not have the pleasure to participate through the entire process last day, are merely technical in nature and changes of names and setting up the framework for the bill itself. With that, Chair, I'll turn the floor back over to you.

The Chair: Mr Elston?

Mr Elston: Is there anything to be talked about in terms of the rehab and long-term care report? My discussions with the minister had indicated that maybe even before today's date I would have heard something from him that would have been at least a suggestion of good news, I presume, around the some 100 recommendations in that report. I've heard nothing from him. I've had a briefing from Mr Tully on Monday, I've had a briefing session yesterday with Mr Scott, who is really not aware of this because he's at the insurance commission, obviously. But can the parliamentary assistant tell me something about that, because I'm told that some of the areas in dispute and some of the reasons why this bill has not received very much support have largely been several areas of deficiency. The report on long-term care and rehab, however, has been long anticipated, has been something on which the industry and others as providers have joined with the government to establish a good foundation for some changes, and I think perhaps the deliberations around this bill might be assisted if we had some inkling or some suspicion of how these things were going to be resolved.

The problem I've seen -- and I'm a new member on this committee. Actually, I'm subbing in today for Mr Phillips, but I'm the critic now. I've newly joined the critic's role. One of the problems I've seen with this bill is that you can read these provisions which are legislative, but the real strength and substance of this bill fall into the draft regulations, and there are a pile of problems I have seen just doing my early review of some of these.

But I would ask the question about rehab and long-term care, because that area is one in which there are several issues around cost, around provision of service to the injured, that have been raised, I think, by way of interrogatories by a number of the presenters who appeared in front of the committee. So if the parliamentary assistant can help us out in that way, perhaps we can get a better feeling.

Just before I let him answer that question, I know that there have been discussions between the industry and Mr Tully and perhaps the minister or whatever on other issues, and I think it would be rational for us all to receive some idea of how far the discussions have gone around resolving other problem areas, because if there are more amendments to come or if there have been, as I understand there are being held out, opportunities for solving some of the other technical difficulties that have been highlighted by the industry in particular, but also by some others, then we ought to know that before we do clause-by-clause, because I'll tell you, there is nothing worse than having to go back over the ground and reopen clauses as agreements are reached. So I would like to know the status of some of those discussions and also the status of the report recommendations.

The Chair: Before I go to Mr Owens, I'd like to remind Mr Elston that indeed this is clause-by-clause and that we're not dealing with regulations right now. I'm sure you know that.

Mr Elston: We never deal with regulations. That's a problem.

The Chair: We're not dealing with regulations right now. I just wanted to --

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: That's not quite true. We did spend considerable time during the clause-by-clause discussions on the draft regulations, and Mr Elston is quite right, because now we have --

The Chair: You're out of -- well, that's not true, and let me say that --

Mr Tilson: What do you mean I'm not? I'm making a point of order. You've got to hear it before you rule me out of order. I'm simply saying that --

The Chair: You're out of order, Mr Tilson, because I've heard it.

Mr Tilson: How can I be out of order when you haven't even heard my point of order?

The Chair: You're out of order, Mr Tilson. Mr Owens.


Mr Owens: I'd like to thank Mr Elston for the questions on the issue with respect to the task force and around the discussions. I will take these questions back to the minister there in process around making decisions with respect to sharing of the material with respect to the task force, and I can get back to the member later on today.

In terms of the discussions that are ongoing, your comments are right. We are certainly, and have been, in discussions with the industry to try and resolve some of the issues. You identified the word "deficiencies." It's our view that we are certainly trying to clear up some of the deficiencies that were left after Bill 68, and we are trying to do that in consultation with the stakeholder groups.

Again, I'll go back to the minister and ask him for a report that can be shared with this committee, and hopefully I'll be able to do that either this afternoon or at our next set of hearings.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. Mr Wiseman.

Mr Elston: Just a minute, now. You're not going to give us this stuff until the next set of hearings?

Mr Owens: That would be either a week today or --

Mr Elston: So we're going to spend four or five hours on this and then you're going to come back and tell us what's happening.

The Chair: Mr Elston, I haven't recognized you. Mr Wiseman.

Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): Maybe we could clear this up. I think we would be prepared to stand down those clauses that would be affected by any changes that would be brought into effect by the long-term care study. In terms of being able to move the process along, I think we should move on the clauses that are not directly related to that; as to the clauses that are directly related to that, I would be prepared to suggest we should stand those down and deal with those at a later date. I hope perhaps with that, we could begin to move along.

Mr Elston: Is that an undertaking, then, Mr Chair, to not deal with those sections until a comprehensive response to the task force has been made? I take it as an undertaking not to proceed with those clauses.

Mr Wiseman: With those sections of the bill that are directly affected by whatever recommendations and changes will be made, we will stand those down.

Mr Elston: Does the parliamentary assistant commit to that as well?

Mr Owens: In terms of as we go through the process --

Mr Elston: Oh, oh.

Mr Owens: Is somebody disagreeing with that?

Mr Elston: Well, I'm wondering. Are you agreeing with the whip of your caucus, is what I'm asking.

Mr Owens: If that's the wish of the whip, then I certainly concur with that.

Mr Elston: Good.

Mr Owens: I certainly hope we're not going to get into arguments about which clause is going to impact and how. As I indicated, the first number of these amendments are clearly amendments for the purpose of clarification and definition.

The Chair: We've had considerable -- Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I would like some response from either the whip or the parliamentary assistant with respect to two things.

The three cases of Meyer, Dalgleish and I think it's Lento -- I'm not too sure how you pronounce the third case -- are now currently, as we speak, before the Court of Appeal, which is dealing with the definition of Bill 68 -- I think it's Bill 68, the existing law -- and the result of those decisions may have an effect on auto insurance as we now know it today.

I'm responding specifically to the comments that were made to myself and the former critic of the Liberal Party, Mr Mancini, by the minister that he would entertain thoughts of moving away from the deductible test to some sort of verbal threshold test. In light of the minister's comments to myself and Mr Mancini, I would like to know what their thoughts are specifically with these three cases that are now before the Court of Appeal, which will be defining the threshold test of Bill 68.

The Chair: Mr Owens, do you have a comment on that?

Mr Owens: On the question of the cases before the courts, I'll turn it over to ministry counsel for response.

Ms Julia Fisher: I guess I don't really understand the question.

Mr Tilson: My question, quite frankly, is that the minister made comments to myself and to Mr Mancini --

Ms Fisher: I have no knowledge of any comments the minister might have made.

Mr Tilson: I'm telling the committee that --

Mr Owens: Mr Tilson, are you asking for a clarification on the status of the cases or the status of the cases vis-à-vis your discussion with respect to deductible versus verbal threshold?

Mr Tilson: Yes. The issue is, of course, that the minister spoke to myself and Mr Mancini, as the critic for the Conservative Party and the critic for the Liberal Party, about considering possibly moving away from the deductible test to a verbal threshold test. In light of that, with the three cases that are now before the Court of Appeal, talking specifically of the verbal test of Bill 68, I guess my question is whether or not the parliamentary assistant or the minister now has any further advice to this committee as to how these issues will affect Bill 164.

Mr Owens: Just in terms of your discussion, it's my understanding as well that a discussion did take place with respect to the issue of deductibles and verbal thresholds. At this point, I can tell you that no decision has been made in any direction and that discussions are still ongoing. I'm sure that at some point you and your colleague Mr Harnick and those members of the official opposition who are interested in this issue will also be brought into the discussion, but no decision has been made in that respect.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, through you to Mr Owens, the issue, of course, is that I suspect that the Court of Appeal will reserve on this decision, and it may be some time before the Court of Appeal will be able to provide its thoughts on the threshold test of Bill 68.

Albeit the minister was musing -- he made no commitment one way or the other; it was strictly musing as to his thoughts -- but the fact that he was doing that leads me to believe that is another area that perhaps should be set aside until we've had an opportunity to look at the decisions of the Court of Appeal, because the Court of Appeal decisions may have an effect on the thinking of the minister and indeed your party as to where it is going with respect to a threshold test of Bill 164.

Mr Owens: I don't have an opinion one way or the other in terms of standing it down, and I'm prepared to take advice from the whip on this. You're quite right in terms of characterizing the discussion more as musing than --

Mr Tilson: Of course. There's no commitment. I'm saying that.

Mr Owens: We all, from time to time, get together and throw ideas around.

Mr Tilson: But the fact that he was musing is important.

Mr Owens: Sometimes those musings are set out to check an effect.

In terms of how you want to deal with this, again I'm at the disposal of the whip around this issue. I'm not sure what your thinking is in terms of time lines and if you're asking us to hold the bill in abeyance pending the passage or the decisions.

Mr Tilson: With respect to the threshold test, I am. I am doing that, because it may well be that the court's decision may modify the threshold test of Bill 68 to such a degree that it would make it more palatable to the minister.

Mr Owens: And I'm not disagreeing or saying that your comments are incorrect. There are some issues, however, that are addressed within that section with respect to the psychological injuries and the ability to sue for pain and suffering that aren't going to be affected by the court ruling. In fact, you may be correct in saying that a court ruling may come down with respect to the threshold set out in Bill 68.


Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, again through you to Mr Owens, my concern is that it would be a shame if we spent a considerable amount of time in the clause-by-clause discussions when the decisions of the Court of Appeal on these three appeals -- which I think are being treated as one, but they're three separate cases, all coming from quite different directions, I might add. The Court of Appeal has got a job ahead of it trying to resolve those three cases. But it would be a shame if this committee spent quite a bit of time -- and I can assure you that certainly the Conservative Party will be, and knowing Mr Elston and his Liberal colleagues they will be spending a great deal of time on that area as well. To go through that only to find out that the Court of Appeal has come up with a solution to this would be a tragedy.

My question is --

Mr Owens: Any kind of solution that helps resolve this problem is by no means a tragedy. But I think this is an issue that's plagued at least two of the three parties in the Legislature.

In terms of your question, let me undertake that again I will put the question to the minister and come back with a response this afternoon with respect to his wishes on proceeding. I'm not suggesting that your request is not valid; I simply want to get clarification on how the minister sees the progress around this issue.

Mr Tilson: There's one other area that gave me concern, and that is the announcement, of course, that the minister made in the House that there was going to be some substantial work done with respect to the regulations. In fact, I asked him a question in the House -- I can't remember when; I think it was the day before yesterday -- about when he expected that these regulations would be available, and I believe Hansard indicated that he said it would be ready in a few weeks or several weeks.

The whole issue of Bill 164 is based on a benefit package and the interpretation of the regulations. You made a comment at the outset that we're not here to deal with the regulations. With due respect, we are, because we simply cannot comprehend the whole concept of Bill 164 unless we determine what some of those regulations mean. I know you were here as a member of this committee for several days, and if you heard many of the delegations, whether it be the lawyers, whether it be the doctors, whether it be the insurance companies, whether it be the innocent accident victims, they all were unanimous: They couldn't understand, couldn't comprehend the regulations, nor could members of this committee. I mean, we could not understand them.

So the minister has now announced that he is going to review the regulations, presumably amend them substantially so that they will be more comprehendible. I say to Mr Owens, if he's making a list of things to go to the minister, that because every last section is directly or indirectly tied in to these regulations -- you can't implement this bill without turning to the regulations -- then if no one understands them, it's a complete farce. I congratulate the minister for going back to his staff and perhaps rewriting the regulations, but my question is, is it premature to even continue with these hearings on clause-by-clause when the regulations may put a completely different slant on the sections in this bill, whether it be definition sections or other sections?

The Chair: Mr Elston has a point on that.

Mr Elston: On that issue, if I might, Mr Chair: Although technically we are not able to deal with regulations here in the committee, legislatively we are not able to deal with them, both Bill 68 and Bill 164 have been put in front of the committee with regulations. When I introduced OMPP by way of 68, at the same time were released with that bill the draft regulations as far as we could take them, because, to be quite honest, all of the benefit packages that were announced around the program for auto insurance reform in our time, and even under 164, are only included in the combined package of regulations and legislative amendments being proposed.

That has, in my view, created a modus operandi, if I can describe it in that way, for the auto insurance reform packages proposed by the two administrations. It means very clearly that the intent of the bill is given strength or force by the fact that it is being backed up with, if not a guarantee that the regulations will be passed as filed, at least an undertaking that the general scheme which is formulated in the regulations will form part of the legislative package. The legislative package does include not only the Legislative Assembly amendments to the bill but then also the regulations that are being amended by the orders in council.

So, Mr Chair, while you technically are right, the history of legislative reform of automobile insurance has for the last eight or nine years been to the point that we are filing not only the amended bill but also the amended regulations, and if we go back to 1978, which I think was the last time the Conservative administration amended the auto insurance no-fault benefits, in fact the studies which came out were to the point that certain regulations would be developed and there was a bit of a debate around whether or not the no-fault benefits would be strengthened.

So it has, as a result of the type of activity that auto insurance has created in this assembly, become quite clear that the regulations are indispensable, at least their understanding, and their filing with the amendments is indispensable to a total understanding of the package, just because they are so extensive. To that extent, I think it's important that if there are going to be a large number of changes, which I am told there may be, there are some real -- I'm sorry?

The Chair: I was speaking with the clerk.

Mr Elston: I am supporting Mr Tilson.

I might also say, in relation to some of the briefings that I've had, that a number of people who will be responsible for these regulations have talked with officials of the project team that is in charge of developing this for the public service, and it is quite clear that in some of these particular regulations there is little, if any, understanding of how they are going to be enforced and enforceable.

That being the case, it seems to me that we are left with the prospect that there will be an entire amendment of the regulatory regime around the operation of this bill and that certain undertakings which have been given by the minister and the parliamentary assistant in their defence of this legislation will fall by the wayside if in fact the authorities who are responsible for enforcement through regulation are unable to carry that job out.

For that very reason, sir, I suggest to you, and because of the history of the way this issue has been dealt with, that we very seriously consider, if not a total backing away of dealing with this until these regulations are finalized, that we will have to have an update before we are finished with these amendments with respect to the new regulations and the regulations which have been agreed upon by the stakeholders and the ministry. That is, in my view, not asking too much, and in fact it is almost mandatory if the committee is not going to feel misled in the conduct of their business.

Mr Owens: That's strong language.

Mr Elston: Okay, if they don't feel if they're going to be -- no, no. I mean, we have a legislative scheme proposed and the regulations are required to put them into effect and we know what it means. I chose the wrong word. I didn't mean it in the way which is unparliamentary.

We are passing the Legislative Assembly amendments to the act and the regulations put those into effect, and the votes which we will take are based on an understanding of what the regulations will do to enforce the provisions. If we put those provisions into effect and the regulations are changed and it completely manipulates the language which we thought we were dealing with, then we will feel like we have not passed the legislation which we thought we were passing.


That's a bulky way of saying what I said before, but for me it's important to know and to be brought up to date right away on the changes to those regulations so that we are assured that the explanations given are in fact going to be carried out, because I have seen regulations --

The Chair: I would like to just remind everyone that the purpose of the committee today certainly is to deal with Bill 164 clause by clause. I think everyone understands that. We've had a number of, if I can put it this way, opening remarks with regard to pursuing clause-by-clause, and until the Chair is directed otherwise, that's how the committee is going to go. If there's a decision made collectively by this committee to do something else, then certainly that will be recognized, but until that point in time we have a purpose here, and that is to pursue the clause-by-clause issue of Bill 164.

Mrs Caplan: I think it's important, as we begin today's proceedings, that we have an opportunity to discuss the environment within which we will be working, and also to determine how positive our work will be as far as results are concerned.

I've heard what my colleague Mr Tilson has said and I very much support what our critic, Mr Elston, has said. My own sense is that it may well be the committee's first debate and first decision to decide that it is premature to proceed with this bill and to recommend to the parliamentary assistant and to the minister that there are some other pieces of information that the committee requires before it can make reasonable judgements on clause-by-clause.

What we're talking about is an environment of goodwill and productivity. For us to sit here and spend our time debating, clause by clause, a bill which may substantially change by the regulations that are going to be brought forward -- and I mean substantially change in spirit or in the ability to implement by those regulations -- I think will not serve the public interest well and certainly would create an environment here at the committee where we would feel that we could have proceeded in a better way and perhaps ultimately more expeditiously.

My own feeling is that it is premature to proceed at this time without all of the regulations before us, and also, I would suggest, without those court determinations. What we are doing here is making new law, and we are making new law because of a perception of the government that the old law needs changing. We've heard from deputations before the committee that the existing law is being tested. We know that the law is being clarified. Some have even suggested that the existing plan is working quite well and should be allowed to mature before substantive changes are made to it.

What we now are aware of, that we were not aware of much earlier on in the proceedings, is that there will be some very important decisions being made by the appeal courts who interpret the laws that we make here in the Legislature which could well have an impact on the minister and the government's policy in this area. I think that's extremely important for this committee to consider at the beginning of these deliberations, because for us to invest a lot of our time and our effort only to find that in a few weeks the Court of Appeal has rendered a judgement which has caused the minister to change his mind would be, in my view, especially having considered it here, a travesty and quite unnecessary.

With the consideration that we are in fact lawmaking here at this committee and that the existing law is being tested and clarified at the moment and that the results of that clarification may well have an impact on the policy of the government, it seems to me that it would be prudent and wise of the government to agree to wait for those decisions and to have all of the information before the committee before you proceed.

The other point I would make is that I don't think there's urgency. I understand the government's right to set its agenda, but normally the agenda will be set on the basis of priorities where there is a sense of urgency, and from everything I'm hearing from certainly my constituents in Oriole, but from the representatives who are coming here and have spoken to us before this committee, there's no sense of urgency that this legislation must be changed for any critical reason that would require that this be, I would use the word, rammed through, or rushed through, or hurried unnecessarily. I understand the government's desire to move forward with this, but I would argue that there is no sense of urgency and could argue that it would be in the interests of better lawmaking to proceed in a more well-thought-out and, I would even use the term, "watchful waiting" approach as we see what the results are of the existing legislation.

The last point I'd like to make really does relate to the point on the regulations which we've heard so far. We know what a vital component the regulations are of this legislation, and we've heard a history of the approach to auto insurance reform in the province which has seen legislation and regulation go hand in hand perhaps in a way that we haven't seen with other pieces of legislation.

The point I would make is that because we are making a law and because that law will be implemented by regulation, it is extremely important that those regulations be understood by those who are going to be implementing. So clarity, use of the kind of language that people will understand, is extremely important. I know the minister and the ministry are attempting to do that. It would therefore be very helpful for us during our deliberations to have that clarification so that we too around the committee will better understand what the implications are going to be about implementation of the legislation and the ability of the plan to work or not work, and be enforced. I mean, whether it's going to succeed or not will affect the judgements of the people at this committee who are making suggestions and recommendations to the government.

The last point is that much of what we are talking about, we have heard from deputations, could have a very significant impact on premium costs in the province: the consumers having to pay more for their auto insurance as a result of this new plan. Certainly, if we can have greater clarification of the regulations, we can then determine what we think the impact will be, and I think the people have a right to know as we move this forward.

So there are a number of I think very good reasons why the parliamentary assistant and the government could consider a more prudent approach and not rush this through until we have all the information we need to ensure that all of the aspects of our lawmaking are available to us before we come down to the determinations of clause-by-clause. Because if we're right, and the courts' decisions do have an impact on the minister's decision, if there is further scrutiny that will suggest that because of that, premiums could well increase -- the cost to consumers is something that I know everyone around this table is concerned about -- and since there is no urgency, why would we want to see all of this time and effort and energy go into amending a piece of legislation that could end up being substantially changed by the government itself in a few weeks when you have information that may well cause a policy change?

So I would put that argument forward in the hopes of creating an environment of goodwill, where we could do good work at the committee rather than spending our time debating the issues of why we're doing this at this time without all of the information we need to advise the government and make good decisions.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Caplan. Mr Owens has some responses to many comments that have been made, and I'd like to give him that opportunity.


Mr Owens: I'd like to thank the member for Oriole for the inclusiveness of her comments and the demonstration that she and her colleagues are wanting to do good work on this legislation.

I think that in terms of prematurity and rushing things through, I'd like to address that first. On September 6, 1991, this government made a decision not to proceed with our public auto policy. For a full year prior to that, we spent that time gaining an understanding of the industry and how it works and where the issues are. As I say, on September 6, 1991, the decision was made not to go forward with that.

We are now on May 13, 1993, after having a full set of public hearings and hearing from all kinds of groups and stakeholders with respect to the legislation itself. In terms of your questions, both yours, Ms Caplan, and Mr Elston's and Mr Tilson's with respect to the regulation, the first draft of the regulation was released in March 1992. Again, public release of the document, consultations conducted with stakeholders in the industry, consumer groups, victims' groups, insurance companies -- the latest draft of the regulation was released in January of this year. So there has been no attempt to hide or to ram through any kind of legislative change to this bill.

I think, partisan politics aside, we recognize that there are some gaps in the plan that was, as Mr Elston indicated, introduced by himself and his government and that those gaps have left a number of people suffering. It is our intention to close those gaps. While we cannot necessarily make those people whole who have suffered from past legislation, we can certainly attempt to keep people whole prospectively.

I think that in terms of the argument with respect to prematurity, it's not premature; it's the right time to be doing this. On the regulation, this is not the first piece of legislation in the history of the Legislature that has been introduced and regulations not tabled directly at committee. As the Chair quite diplomatically pointed out, in fact the matter that we are seized of in this committee is Bill 164 and certainly not the regulations. There is an opportunity for all three parties, each and every member of each party in this House and each and every member of stakeholder groups and individuals to comment on the regulations that, as I say, have been made fully public, and consultations have been ongoing since March 1992. I think, in terms of --

Mr Elston: When does that happen?

Mr Owens: If Mr Elston will let me complete my comments, as I allowed him to do -- in terms of how the regulation process is going to impact on the bill, that changes are being made with respect to clarity, and again that we fully believe in the committee process and the consultation with the groups that has gone on and will continue to go on to ensure that we have what is in our view the best of accident benefits regulation that can be passed. So this process is ongoing. There will not be, in my understanding from ministry staff, a legislative impact. It's their view, at this point, on the bill.

Mr Elston: Sorry? There won't be?

Mr Owens: There will not be, as a result of clarity --

Mr Elston: That's not what I'm understanding. I'm understanding right now there are some misconceptions around the changes that are being contemplated between stakeholders and the government, that there will be in fact a change in the impact of this legislation in terms of cost, potentially, in terms of coverage, the way in which people are going to be covered, the manner in which perhaps there may be a working-out of the new pain and suffering threshold. That, my friend, will in fact make a change in how this legislation is to be viewed. I've heard there are discussions around those very issues.

The Chair: Mr Elston, could we let Mr Owens finish and then you can certainly respond to his comments.

Mr Elston: Okay. Actually, one of my problems is that I have to go up and see the minister in his other role and in my other role in about five minutes.

Mr Owens: Yes, I appreciate that.

Mr Elston: I understand that there are very serious discussions behind the scene which are, in fact, going to change this.

Mr Owens: There's no doubt that there may be discussions going on with respect to the --

Mr Wiseman: Hearsay discussions are not.

Mr Elston: They are not hearsay discussions; they are real discussions.

Mr Tilson: If there's a problem, let's deal with it.

The Chair: Order. Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: As I say, there's no doubt that discussions have been going on and will continue to go on. As I mention, the --

Mrs Caplan: And if they're hearsay they will not result in substantive amendment to the bill.

The Chair: Will you please continue, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: I am not going to commit in any way, shape or form on that, as Mr Elston seems to have some information that he's launched on to the record. If he can provide the committee with more information, I'd certainly be willing to follow that up.

In terms of the threshold issue versus deductible etc, these are not issues that are involved in the regulations, so there in fact may be discussions going on; I'm not going to suggest that there aren't. If you have evidence that this is contrary to my statements that in fact we will have to make changes, then come forward. I'm prepared to move those changes with pleasure, if that's the will of the government.

At this point, as I say, there are discussions ongoing with respect to clarifying the regulation as a result of the consultation process, both here in committee as well as consultations that have been held with stakeholders by the minister, by ministry staff. At this point, there is a view that these clarifications will not impact on the language.

Mr Elston: You can tell us how that's going to happen. All I'm saying is, there is a series of discussions around caps and other things in the regulations. There will be real implications for the people who are the subject matter of other coverages in here. If you put certain caps on or caps at a certain level, then there may have been a real reason to do something else with another part of the bill.

All I'm saying is, that's what you've done to create the bill as it is. You've made tradeoffs inside the coverages. You took away economic loss for people through the tort system and you threw some stuff in to provide people with pain and suffering coverage. You're moving from the $3,000 a month up to $10,000 or doing some other things in long-term care, if the recommendations are correct. But, I'll tell you, this whole bill is constructed around what has been indicated by the government to be a better balancing of the benefits.

That being the case, Mr Chair, and to Mr Owens and to his staff, who say there are not going to be any implications in the negotiations, I say that can't possibly be true when you take a look at the construction of this legislation. It is all based on a balance of redistributive premiums to the accident victims. When you move one, you move something else, unless you're going to be content with raising the premiums substantially.

Mr Tilson: Bingo. You just won the prize.

Mr Elston: I'm just telling you that it is really quite clear that there will be -- I'm being told there are serious discussions. I don't know anything about what happens inside your administration. You know it; you're the parliamentary assistant.

Mr Owens: You probably know better than anybody.

Mr Elston: But I'm told by other people that there are serious considerations around various aspects of this bill that are going to manipulate the way the words are in this legislation through a realignment of the regulations. It also, for me, means that the scheme which is being devised under these changes is not necessarily going to be the one we figure we're putting into place. That's what I'm contending.

I'm sorry to break in here. I'm also going to have to go up and see Mr Charlton at a House leaders' meeting, but I don't know how else to tell you how interrelated the regulations are with the legislation than to tell you that when you start moving money around inside your scheme, whether by regulation or by legislative amendment, you are going to make changes in this overall program. It's clear and I will not believe anybody who says that a discussion is being carried on to make some clarifications and will have no effect on the overall program. That is not possible.


The Chair: I would like to say that at this point in time the Chair has not been directed otherwise with regard to dealing with the issue of clause-by-clause, and that's the purpose for which we are meeting today. I would like to continue with that direction. I would like to have Mr Owens maybe read -- I mean, we've already passed section 1. We haven't passed section 2, if Mr Owens would like to read that into the record.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, a point of order: I appreciate your obligation as a Chair to try and keep the thing moving, but it's been some time since the committee has last met to discuss these things, and the obvious remark was that a number of things have happened. Even within the last week a number of things have happened, and I --

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: Well, Mr Chairman, surely I have the right to ask the parliamentary assistant a question that relates to the clause-by-clause discussions.

The Chair: Mr Tilson, that's not a point of order. When we become involved in the clause-by-clause you will have an opportunity to certainly raise concerns with regard to sections of the --


The Chair: Mrs Caplan.

Mrs Caplan: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I appreciate your giving me the floor. I'm going to try and be helpful. It's now 11 o'clock. Our critic is going to be meeting with the minister in a few minutes. I'd like to place a motion on the floor for consideration. We're planning to meet this afternoon at 2 o'clock, or right after question period, 3:30. I'd like to suggest that we adjourn until 3:30 this afternoon, see if we can get some clarification from the minister and the government as to the concerns that have been raised this morning -- Mr Elston's going to be meeting with the minister now -- and then we don't have to waste our time.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Caplan. The question has been to adjourn. I would like to --

Mrs Caplan: Just till 3:30 this afternoon.

Mr Wiseman: I will not support that. I believe that we should continue and move along with debate of the second clause.

The Chair: It's not debatable. I call the question. Those in favour of adjournment? Those opposed?

That motion is lost. We will continue with clause-by-clause.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, will you allow me to finish the question I had for a point of order?

The Chair: You didn't have a point of order, Mr Tilson. If you would like to very succinctly and very shortly establish some point of order, I'd be glad to hear it.

Mr Tilson: The point of order, Mr Chairman, is that I believe that members of this committee, before we get into the clause-by-clause discussions, have the right and the obligation to --

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: -- ask the parliamentary assistant a number of questions.

The Chair: Mr Owens, would you please read into the record section 2.

Mr Tilson: I can tell you, Mr Chairman, I'm going to ask this eventually.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Tilson: You want to shut me up now. Eventually it's going to come my turn and I'm going to ask these questions.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Tilson: You can shut me up now, but eventually you won't be able to, so you might as well let me have my say.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Wiseman: That's the appropriate place to ask the question.

Mr Tilson: Well, the Chairman's not even giving me a chance to speak.

The Chair: I might remind all members of this committee that there are rules that govern how committees operate, and if people raise points of order that are in order, they'll be recognized by the Chair and addressed. But if they're not in order, then certainly that means they're out of order, and it's my duty to proceed. Mr Owens.

Mr Tilson: Well, you're in for a war, Mr Chairman. I'm just warning you.

Mr Owens: Just in terms of clarification, on the last day I had in fact read into the record subsections 2(1), (2) and (3). I'll take advice from the clerk as to whether I should re-read it into the record.

The Chair: If I could offer this, and maybe the clerk will correct me, but there are members who may not have had an opportunity to read the past Hansard. Indeed I'm sure they're familiar with Bill 164, but for those members who are new to the committee, I thought it might be appropriate to re-read it into Hansard. But if that's not --

Mr Owens: Absolutely no problem in doing that.

The Chair: Yes, go ahead.

Mr Owens: Always want to make sure that we all understand what we're talking about at the same time.

"2(1) The definition of `class of risk exposure' in section 1 of the act is repealed.

"(2) The definition of `rate' in section 1 of the act is amended by striking out `exposure' in the fourth line.

"(3) Section 1 of the act is amended by adding the following definition:

"`Risk classification system,' in relation to automobile insurance, means the elements used for the purpose of classifying risks in the determination of rates for a coverage or category of automobile insurance, including the variables, criteria, rules and procedures used for that purpose," and with respect to my bilingual colleagues, "(`système de classement des risques')."

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. Are there any comments on this section of section 2 of Bill 164?

Mr Tilson: One of the questions I have with respect to section 2 is the comprehension of the risk classification system. My question is to the parliamentary assistant. The minister announced in the House that he has retained Professor Arthurs to provide advice on the possible setting up of a new advocacy system, which presumably would be advocates to properly advise the innocent accident victims who will want to understand, whether it be the regulations or whether it be indeed provisions in the act, such as the risk classification system and what it means.

There didn't appear to be any timetable with respect to that report that Professor Arthurs is going to be dealing with. One of the areas we raised in the discussions in the public hearings was the need of the innocent accident victim to be properly advised. In the tort system, of course, the issue of cost was covered through the legal system. In this system, the innocent accident victim literally has no one to advise him, and hence Mr Owens indicated that he would be recommending to the minister -- and obviously the minister accepted his advice -- a discussion on the advocacy system.

I guess the concern I have is the issue of where this is going to lead. Particularly, is this going to mean a whole set of bureaucracy that's going to be needed for this government, particularly with the Treasurer talking about cutbacks in the bureaucracy and the cost with the social contract?

On the issue of rates with the insurance companies, the insurance companies will be well looked after. The insurance companies will be able to retain lawyers, although that may indeed affect the rates as well. However, the innocent accident victim will not, and that is, hence, the reason why presumably the minister decided to proceed with an advocacy system, or discussions on the possibility of an advocacy system, which presumably will be along the lines of a public defender system or the advocates who are found under the Workers' Compensation Act.

I guess my question to the parliamentary assistant is whether or not it's appropriate to go through with sections such as section 2, even the simple definition sections, when we know that Professor Arthurs is going to be recommending to the government whether or not there should be an advocacy system and who is going to represent the innocent accident victim.

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank the member for his question. It is, unfortunately, not relevant to section 2. In terms of explanation, as the member was here the last time for the four days of debate, especially around section 2, I will, for the purposes of clarity, remind the member that the purpose behind section 2 is, again, the removal of the confusing term that's contained under the current legislation, "class of risk exposure." The introduction of the term "risk classification" is a reflection of what is currently in use by the insurers in the industry.

I look forward to hearing Mr Tilson's question repeated with respect to Harry Arthurs in a section that is relevant to that. I can, by way of answering -- Chair, I'm at your disposal as to whether you want to rule me out of order or not -- let the member know that Professor Arthurs will report at the beginning of September and that in fact section 2 is not relevant to the work Professor Arthurs is currently engaged in.


Mr Tilson: If it is now going to be September that Professor Arthurs will be presenting his report, if this bill is passed before this session ends and we do not have any further discussions, the difficulty is going to be the question that was certainly raised throughout the hearings from all sides: the need for the innocent accident victim to understand such things as the classification system, whether it be the old or the new, and who's going to advise them.

I guess that question still remains. What's the intent of the government? You will now have implemented new legislation, a new classification system, but you're not going to have anyone available to explain it to the innocent accident victim or members of the public. What's the government's intent?

Mr Owens: Perhaps the member for Dufferin-Peel wasn't listening as carefully as I was to the member for Oriole when she talked about wanting to do good work around this committee and do things in a friendly manner.

Your question again is not relevant to the issue of the clause under discussion at this point, and the good work Professor Arthurs is engaged in has no relevance to the removal of a term that was legislated under a previous bill and bringing it up to date and in line with current industry practice.

As we have gone through these clauses, we've indicated before -- you talk about passing legislation. I'll be pleased if we can get past section 2 here at some point, either today or next week or perhaps even this year. But we are currently discussing section 2. If there are questions that are related in later sections of the bill -- my understanding is that you placed before us, in the last round, some amendments that your party is quite interested in getting to and we're certainly interested in working on with you. I can't understand the relationship between the work that Professor Arthurs is, as I say, currently engaged in and the changing of definitions in the piece of legislation.

Mr Tilson: I think that's been the problem throughout these hearings. I don't think the parliamentary assistant does understand.

Mr Owens: The parliamentary assistant understands thoroughly.

Mr Tilson: However, I will ask a specific question with respect to the classification system. It's been commented by delegations that came before this committee that the implementation of a uniform rating system will limit competition among the insurance companies. We're talking about rates; we're talking about cost to the consumer. I appreciate that this is a definition section, of the words "risk classification system," but it does lead to the ultimate classification system of this bill, which is a uniform rating system.

As you know, Mr Owens, the insurers do use the rating grid currently to implement a series of highly specialized discounts. These discounts will benefit a whole slew of consumers, a number of them, specifically the senior citizens of this province. With the risk classification system being changed and with the fact that it's going to increase the cost to a great deal of consumers, particularly women and particularly senior citizens, have you any thoughts on amending the classification system that your government's put forward, with the great number of comments that were made by people in the insurance industry and other interest groups?

Mr Owens: You're quite right that we have had a number of comments, and that particularly those who do not have good driving records, those who drive while they're impaired, those who are at fault in terms of accidents, may pay a higher rate. I think that you and your colleagues in the Conservative Party would agree that unsafe drivers should pay the freight and that it shouldn't be the safe drivers who pay the higher rates.

In terms of its relationship to section 2, which we are now entering day five in debate on, again we are trying to clearly change a name. If we were able to move on so that we could get into what you, Mr Tilson, view as important issues and that we view as well as being important issues, we could engage in meaningful debate.

This section is again a section that seeks to clarify and bring up to date language that is in our legislation and make it consistent with what is currently industry practice.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I am quite aware of your comment that this is a definition system. The fact of the matter is, though, that you are -- not you, but your government -- now proposing a whole new risk classification system, something that is quite foreign to the insurance industry.

I guess that I believe to the contrary, that it now is the appropriate time. I mean, when are we going to be able to discuss it? One of the times is at the very first issue that arises, which is the definitions section. There is nothing wrong with talking about the fact of saying that everyone is equal. Yes, you've made the comment of people who have been involved in accidents. But the fact of the matter is that seniors, and women specifically, are going to be paying more for their insurance rates because of this classification system that you're devising.

You can refer to delegation after delegation that talks about this problem, and unless you have some other amendments which I believe should be in section 2, I think now is the time to talk about the risk classification system, which is exactly what section 2 says.

Mr Owens: I think, Mr Tilson, if you have amendments that you want to make to section 2, you certainly have had the opportunity in the past number of months to prepare those amendments. If you have amendments on this definition and modernization of language, we'd certainly appreciate any kinds of suggestions from yourself and your colleagues in the third party.

In terms of your comments that risk classification is new to the industry, I don't believe that's quite true. I think that in your consultations with representatives of the industry, some of whom are sitting here today, they'll tell you that this is in fact not a new kind of classification system -- again, we're clearly under section 2, which we're moving into day five of discussing -- it is merely a definition, a clarification and a modernization of language.

Mr Tilson: Mr Owens, the difficulty I have with what you just said is -- I intend to vote against this amendment, this section 2.

Mr Owens: Is that a secret?

Mr Tilson: The reason I'm saying that is because I don't like the entire system, the entire system of saying that everybody's the same, because everybody isn't the same. There are all kinds of statistics that have been put forward to say that drivers in this province are different.

Mr Owens: And you're absolutely right about that; you're absolutely right.


Mr Tilson: But you're not recognizing this. Just to take one example, State Farm made comments on the uniform class plan with respect to Bill 164, and I'd like to refer to that.

"The bill proposes to impose a uniform classification system upon auto insurance in Ontario. It further proposes to eliminate age, sex and marital status in rating factors to be used in the pricing of auto insurance in Ontario. This classification system will result in unjustified rate increases for many consumers, reduce fairness and equity of auto insurance premiums, generate many complaints from consumers, reduce competition for the resulting underpriced risks, increase administrative expenses.

"This system is fundamentally unfair. It would have a substantial and deleterious effect upon certain types of drivers, particularly women and senior citizens.

"The government's policy paper, The Road Ahead, was released at the time of the introduction of Bill 164. It stated that a uniform classification system was a goal of Bill 164. None the less, the Mercer study, commissioned by the government, failed to address the significant cost increase that would be imposed upon consumers as a result of this change."

Then they refer to an exhibit in their paper which is a demonstration of how the uniform class plan shouldn't be implemented. They continue by saying:

"In addition to the rate increases upon females and senior citizens, other criticisms of a uniform class plan include its divergence from equitable, actuarially sound rate-making for all classes of drivers. The cross-subsidization of certain insurance risks inevitably would tend to result in a constriction of the market for those types of drivers such as youthful males in the Toronto metropolitan area.

"A uniform classification system is not more fair nor more equitable than the current system of classifying risks. It is, in fact, just the opposite. The cost of insurance should follow the loss cost generated by a particular type of risk. To substantially change the system of risk classification at this juncture is especially onerous upon women and senior citizens."

Now, I didn't read the entire section from State Farm's presentation, but that's just one of many presentations talking about the risk classification system that's being proposed by this government.

The whole concept of Bill 164 was to reduce the rates or keep the rates down, and also the issue of fairness. There are some other reasons, but those are two of the main ones, and it has been demonstrated by delegation after delegation that the risk classification system, as put forward in section 2 and as reiterated in other sections throughout the bill, is going to be costly, it's going to be unfair and really should be changed.

So Mr Owens has said, why can't I put amendments forward? The fact of the matter is, I don't think anyone in the opposition is going to like the entire system that's being proposed. You can't amend something where you object to the whole thing. My hope would have been that the parliamentary assistants and members of the government would have, after hearing these delegations on this subject, put forward amendments to section 2 and other sections specifically dealing with the uniform class system.

Mr Owens: Thank you, Mr Tilson. I certainly wouldn't want to get into irrelevant discussion on section 2, so I'll address the other point you've made.

In terms of the risk classification system that, in your view, is new to the industry, what this bill will do when we eventually get past section 2 is that we'll prescribe a uniform set of variables -- as the member is I hope aware, these variables are all over the map at this point -- and the industry will be able to, in order to keep its competitive edge within the business, assign weights to the individual variables.

In terms of subsections 2(1), (2) and (3), again we are simply looking at definitional change, a modernization of language. I ask Mr Tilson again: He's raising some interesting points of discussion but they are not relevant to the section under discussion, and perhaps he would like to exercise the wish that he recently articulated in his vote. Perhaps that was even a subtle way of moving the question, but I leave it up to the member to make a decision on that.

But, as I say, we're clearly talking about definitional changes and modernization, and if Mr Tilson would like to pursue his areas of exploration, which we're clearly interested in doing, then we should move on.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I'm trying to make this as simple as possible for the parliamentary assistant, and I'm obviously having some difficulty with that.

However, the allegations that have been made by a great number of the delegations is that the risk classification system will cause great increased costs to certain groups. Obviously, for young males rates will go down, but for young females and senior citizens and women in general rates are going to go up. The insurance companies have put forward facts, they have put forward specific exhibits to their presentations that have explained this. They've also commented --

Mr Wiseman: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I believe under the standing orders that when a member becomes repetitive in presentation of his or her case, that is against the standing orders. I would ask that the Chair rule that we have heard this argument a number of times and that we now move to new argument or move along.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Wiseman. Indeed you're correct: Repetitive comments are not allowed under the standing orders. However, if Mr Tilson has anything new he wishes to pursue, we'd certainly like to hear from him.

Mr Tilson: Yes, Mr Chairman. What I was in the process of doing was asking a question of the parliamentary assistant. I was not in the process of debate; I was in the process of asking a question: whether, with this information that has come forward from the delegations, the government has any facts to say that that premium dislocation is just not true, because so far, this committee has a whole slew of facts before it that guarantees that as a result of the risk classification system this government's producing, rates are going to go up.

Mr Owens: Let me respond as simply as possible to your simply put question that your question again is not relevant to the clause under discussion. Should we, by some miracle of process, be able to move into the areas that Mr Tilson is wont to explore -- I think I have been fairly patient in terms of not requesting that the member stay on point, but in fact his question is not related to subsections 2(1), (2) and (3), and we should just be moving on so that we can get to the points Mr Tilson seems to have a higher level of affection for than this particular clause that he is not wont to discuss.

Mr Tilson: Just to clarify then, if that is the case, I would like to know in subsection 2(3) what the definition section means about "variables, criteria, rules and procedures." What does that mean as far as the risk classification system is concerned?

Mr Owens: I'll ask ministry staff to respond to that.

Ms Fisher: The variables will be the things that are taken into account such as accident record, currently sex, age --

Mr Tilson: So much for relevance, Mr Chairman. That's exactly what I'm talking about. So the parliamentary assistant, as usual, has no idea what he's talking about.

The Chair: Mr Klopp, did you have a point of order?

Mr Paul Klopp (Huron): Do we get a chance to get into this conversation?

The Chair: Indeed. Would you like to be on the list? You're next up, Mr Klopp.

Mr Tilson: I am going to ask the question again to the parliamentary assistant now that he knows what subsection 2(3) means, and that is whether or not the government has any facts or information that can challenge the allegations by many, many delegations that the premiums will increase as a result of the uniform classification system.

Mr Owens: What I've tried to do in this process that began at 10:10 this morning is try to avoid the kind of personal commentary that the member for Dufferin-Peel seems to be insistent on making.


The process and the clause under discussion again are not relevant to the questions that the member is asking. There's a clear understanding of what subsection (3) as well as subsections 2(1) and (2) mean.

In terms of the issue of repetition, Chair, we have been over this now for almost an hour, including the close to four days we spent on it before, when we previously met back in February, I believe, was the last time we met on this.

Again, for the purposes of clarity on what we're discussing, in case Mr Tilson needs to be reminded, we're talking about a clarification and a clearer definition and a modernization of language that is already currently in use in the industry. Mr Tilson's questions, while they're certainly valid, are not relevant to this section. There are sections further on down through the bill where in fact they are quite relevant and clearly deserve a considered answer, which he will get at that point.

The Chair: The Chair recognizes Mr Klopp.

Mr Klopp: I support this motion, especially when the comment was made by Mr Tilson that -- it seemed to me that he was saying that right now, the insurance industry doesn't have any criteria or any classifications, and indeed it does have classifications.

Mr Tilson: I didn't say that.

Mr Klopp: Yes, you said that this is a new thing and that the parliamentary assistant doesn't understand. My understanding is that there are classifications now. This is just a verification, to put a new word in to make it clearer. I don't see a problem with that. It talks about variables, criteria and rules which are there now. There are variables, criteria and rules. This is just allowing a clarification, putting in maybe a more modern word that's actually, I understand, been around the industry. I've been around this industry for nigh on 30 years.

Mr Tilson: You're not that old.

Mr Klopp: Well, I'm older than that. I actually grew up with a company that was started because other companies said you couldn't do things better in rural Ontario. So I'm a little bit aware that there have been classifications, and that word I've used for many years; I didn't realize it wasn't in a bill. So I support this clarification by saying "risk classification system."

The Chair: I would like to ask Mr Kwinter if he had any comments to make with regard to this.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I've been listening with interest. As you know, I'm a former Minister of Financial Institutions and spent a lot of time looking at the insurance regulations.

I have some sympathy for Mr Tilson's comments. There's mention of "the elements," when you look at subsection 2(3). But the elements are subject to interpretation. They're also subject to change. We have a situation where the Minister of Transportation has just announced that he is starting a consultative process to look at graduated licensing, which is going to change the elements. It's going to make new elements that heretofore are not being considered or not part of the variables. There's going to be something new added. Professor Harry Arthurs is looking at maybe recommending some changes to the elements.

So notwithstanding that on surface this seems to be a relatively simple clause that deals with definition, the mere fact that the government in its wisdom has decided that definition has to be changed leads you to believe that if you're going to change it, then why not change it to the point where it really is not subject to the kind of wide interpretations that are the subject of a lot of lawsuits.

One of the things you have to understand is that every time we as lawmakers write a law, it's a make-work program for the legal profession, because then immediately, someone questions what was meant, what was the intent of that statement? So it's not just a casual sort of thing. As I say, members learned in the law make their living trying to get interpretations of the things that we in some cases casually look at, and I've noticed some real casualness in some of the other amendments that I'm going to speak to.

As I say, I have some sympathy for Mr Tilson's concerns, because every time you make a change, you also open up that change for interpretation and I think it's incumbent upon us, as lawmakers, to be as precise as we can and to be as all-inclusive as we can. This leads us, of course, to some of the concerns that the critic for our party had, that the regulations, even though they're not the subject of discussion by this committee, really do form an integral part of this act, because the regulations give effect to what the act is. If those regulations are going to be changed, then it's going to give a different interpretation to the variables, to the elements, to the other aspects they talk about: the criteria, the rules and procedures.

I have to admit that I don't have a pat answer and a precise way of amending it. Again, I have some sympathy for Mr Tilson saying that it's very difficult in a definition clause to express all the concerns you have in the total process of this act, because I just have the feeling, when I listen to the discussion, that we may be creating as many problems as we're going to be solving.

I didn't listen to all of the deputations that were here, but I've certainly heard them over the years and I think there has to be a recognition that everybody is really dealing in good faith. I think the government is dealing in good faith; I think the industry is dealing in good faith. But everybody is trying to get a system in place that is going to do what I think we're all trying to do: provide the best possible coverage at the most affordable and economical rate. That, by its very definition, means there are tradeoffs.

The system we had prior to this whole exercise was, I think, serving this province well, with one serious problem: The cost of it was getting to the point where it was unaffordable. But -- and I've made this argument long and hard -- there is nobody who can tell you, unless you're an actuary or unless you're a pro, what the cost of insurance should be.

All you can do is say, "Last year I spent X and this year they want me to spend 2X and that is unacceptable." You may have been seriously underpaying when you're paying that X and you may be getting the best bargain in the world when you're paying 2X, but it doesn't matter. "Don't confuse me with the facts. All I know is that I didn't have an accident last year and suddenly my rates have gone up." That of course, unfortunately, is because most people do not understand how insurance works.

So the whole purpose of this exercise -- and I don't have to lecture this government, because if there was one issue that was synonymous with the NDP, it was its total endorsation of a government-run insurance plan. The main reason for that of course was that they felt they could provide a system that was efficient and affordable.

I had access to the same numbers they now have access to, and when I was the minister and I was at the, I guess, leading edge of all of the criticism of the then members of the opposition as to what we were doing, it had nothing to do with any ideological discussion; it had nothing to do with being a proponent of the private sector insurance industry.

I had always felt all along that we had long ago left that area in the fact that we have a government, socialized health care system in this province and in this country, we have workers' compensation, why not have government car insurance? The only answer why not is that it made no sense. It made no sense economically.


Mr Wiseman: Sure it does.

Mr Kwinter: If it made such great sense, why didn't you implement it? You certainly had the opportunity to do it. In all of the times that I had the argument, my dear friend -- and I'm sure if you talk to him he will acknowledge that he was my dear friend -- Mel Swart, the member for Welland-Thorold, used to stand up regularly and castigate me and call me a gutless wonder and the lackey of the insurance industries.

Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): Sounds like a dear friend to me.

Mr Bob Huget (Sarnia): Mel has always been right, Monte.

Mr Kwinter: I think I probably hold the record in question period in that one day, because the NDP of the day decided that this was the day to get Kwinter, I had 47 minutes of question period, all dealing with government automobile insurance. They would constantly trot out Manitoba as the model of what we should be doing, and I would be getting news clippings out of the Winnipeg Free Press saying that the government car insurance agency in Manitoba was in total disarray, that it was being subsidized, that the costs were being hidden from the electorate. It turned out that of course the NDP was wrong and that I was right -- and I don't say that I was right; I was just reporting facts -- and the government fell on the basis of the way it had handled the automobile insurance situation in Manitoba.

So I say to you that we spent millions of dollars looking at automobile insurance, and if we'd felt that there was a reason to put the government into it, we would have done it. And why not? Why wouldn't we provide the citizens of Ontario with a government plan that would give them good coverage and save them money? The reason we didn't do it is because the figures showed that it wasn't true, that we couldn't do it, that the private sector, because it was in a much broader range of insurance -- and there's no secret about it -- was in fact in many cases subsidizing customers in automobile insurance because it was making money on other aspects of the insurance business.

The point for this whole sort of look at what was going on is to say that we are now confronted with exactly the same situation. It is an issue, but I can tell you -- and all of you will know this -- that it is certainly not on the front burner as it was in, say, 1987.

In 1987 the NDP ran its campaign on the whole issue of government insurance. I was the minister of the day when I was campaigning. Bus drivers would stop on the streets with full loads of their passengers and get out and talk to me about car insurance. I'd be out on the corners and all these guys would stop and they'd get out. It didn't make any difference what party they supported or if they supported no party. It was a very, very topical issue and everybody was concerned about the cost and availability of automobile insurance and the whole problem of the Facility Association and the whole problem of just what was happening.

That issue has disappeared. You're all politicians and I can tell you I don't get anybody calling me about automobile insurance.

Mr David Winninger (London South): I do all the time.

Mr Kwinter: I had five calls this morning from people complaining about what the government was doing about doctors and psychoanalysis and nursing and all of these things in the social contract. Nobody calls me about automobile insurance.

Mr Winninger: They've given up on you.

Mr Wiseman: They've given up on you. I get tons of calls.

Mr Kwinter: The reason for that is that basically the automobile insurance industry is working. There's no question that if we can improve it and if we can make some changes that are going to increase the fairness and provide the ability for economies, that is desirable. Certainly, in the areas where I think there are positive changes, we of course will be supporting it. In the areas where we think that there are not positive changes, we won't.

But I also want to hasten to say that in my opinion this whole exercise is flawed. It's flawed because it starts out on the wrong premise. It starts out on a premise that we have made a commitment that we're going to do something about automobile insurance. We have found out that we were wrong, that it made no sense, that we have been beating a horse that can't run and won't run, and now we've got to show somebody that we're doing something. What we're doing is we're going to sort of tinker around the edges and we're going to bring in some legislation that at least we can look at and say, "Here's what we have done." I think that premise is flawed and I think as a result we are coming up with legislation that isn't going to be of great overall benefit.

To get back to where we were on subsections 2(1), (2) and (3), I do have some sympathy for the fact that there is a use of supposedly modern words -- and I don't know what the definition is of "modern words," but why "class of risk exposure" is old-fashioned and "risk classification system" is modern is something that I quite haven't come to terms with.

Mr Klopp: Don't pick on the PA; it was me.

Mr Kwinter: Okay, but I'm just saying -- I don't think that has any relevance, but I do have some concerns when there is an impreciseness in the definitions. Again I go back to my earlier comment. The concern that I have is that the insurance industry is a highly litigious industry. It's an industry that unfortunately thrives on litigation. It's really a raison d'être almost of the bar associated with insurance. That's why they're so upset, because somewhere along the line, someone is curtailing their ability to act on behalf of their clients.

The concern I have is that we may be compounding the problem by playing with words and adding an impreciseness that is going to be subject to even wider interpretation, that's going to be the subject of more and more litigation, when if we could get the benefit of what the regulations are going to be, the benefit of what these lawsuits that are imminently going to be determined and the benefit of Professor Harry Arthurs's deliberations, we may be in a position to save a lot of people a lot of anguish and come up with something that is going to be a useful definition.

I know that the chairman or the parliamentary -- I apologize; I can't remember who said it. But there's a feeling that, "Well, all we're talking about in section 2 is a definition; let's get on to the real meat of what the amendments are" -- that this is only a definition and as a result we shouldn't be terribly concerned about it. It's just really a change of language that's going to make it more precise. Unfortunately, I think the language doesn't accomplish that particular goal and that, if anything, given what is going on behind the scenes, it may be compounding the problem.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Kwinter. Mr Wiseman, did you have your hand up?

Mr Wiseman: I just wanted to say that his assumption of our premise is based on a misconception and his assumption is incorrect.

The Chair: Further debate? Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: The risk classification system is the issue of relevancy, whether it's appropriate to debate the uniform system at this time. There's no question it is, particularly when you look at the definitions, when we start talking about what we mean by "variables," "criteria" or "rules."

All I know is that we were told during the hearings that, comparing the rates, rates for men under 21 would go down by $351 -- we're talking about the premiums -- men 21 to 24 would go down $165, women under 21 would go up $565, and women 21 to 24 would go up $187. I don't have the statistics right before me as far as seniors are concerned, but there's no question that rates for seniors, as was said by many delegations, would go up as well.


I gather from the silence of the parliamentary assistant that they do not have any facts -- and I say "they" -- the government does not have any facts that contradict these and other allegations that were made about how it's guaranteed that these groups, as a result of this new, uniform system -- it's guaranteed that the rates for these individuals are going to go up. So I gather from his silence that that is the case.

But there was one other area, Mr Chairman, that I --

Mr Wiseman: It doesn't necessarily follow. Your logic does not follow.

Mr Tilson: Well, I'll give him another chance. Can you tell us whether you have any information?

The Chair: Mr Owens indeed has indicated he would like to respond to that.

Mr Owens: Just in terms of courtesy and manners that I've learned as I've got to this age of 36, my parents always told me that's it's polite to let people finish their comments before breaking in and interrupting.

In terms of the relevance to this discussion with respect to section 2, again we're looking at a definition, a modernization of language. Your questions with respect to cost, while they are probative, are not material to the section under discussion at this point. Should we be allowed to move on, it now being 10 to 12, day 5 of this clause, then perhaps we can have a discussion that would be meaningful to the member in terms of his questioning.

Mr Tilson: If I could move on to another area with respect to this, comments were made by a number of the delegations that work is being now done to solve the discrepancies that have gone on in the past, that in fact the elimination of age, gender and marital status can be achieved by individual company class plan management over a period of time and is being continued to be processed, which indeed, through that process, would not have the sudden drastic change in rates that has been elaborated on.

As well, the Ontario Insurance Commission, as we were told during the hearings, has begun to enforce some uniformity through administrative changes, and the example is given that non-at-fault losses can no longer be considered in an accident ruling. This change is perhaps more gradual, but it doesn't have the resulting sudden increase in rates that the new system that's being proposed by this bill will have on the consumer of this province with respect to insurance premiums.

I would like the parliamentary assistant to comment on these different actions, the proposed actions by the individual insurance companies which are going on at this time and, secondly, the actions of the Ontario Insurance Commission.

Mr Owens: Just in terms of your question with respect to the dislocation that may or may not take place as a result of the uniform classification system being put into practice, should we ever be able to move off of subsections 2(1), (2) and (3), there is a process to manage that dislocation. Again, this is an issue that I would clearly like to explore with the member for Dufferin-Peel, but unfortunately it's not relevant to the section under discussion at this point, and I'm going to ask for advice from the Chair in terms of the value of this continuation of this discussion. It's now 5 to 12 on day 5 of this section and perhaps the Chair would like to decide whether the questions that are being asked are in order and of value with respect to subsections 2(1), (2) and (3) that are on the floor.

The Chair: Indeed I am being as flexible as I can under the standing orders and indeed we don't want to be repetitious, because that's out of order, and we want to ask questions that are relevant to the particular section of the bill. If indeed Mr Tilson's questions might be better answered under another section of the bill, then I think that would be certainly appropriate.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, the difficulty I have with this is specifically when I ask what "variables" means, what "criteria" means, what "rules" means, what "procedures" means, when we ask the staff what those words mean, we come back with the very issues that I've been raising, the matter of age, the matter of gender, the matter of all of these things, when we start talking about what these things mean, and the procedures as well. This is in the definition section, and I would submit that it's most appropriate to talk about these things at this time.

Mr Wiseman: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Under our standing orders, repetition is not acceptable. Not only is the repetition now in the area of having the same questions being asked over and over again and the same answers being given over and over again, the whole procedure of asking the question is now becoming repetitious in that the pattern remains the same. Therefore I think it would be appropriate for you to rule that these particular questions in this particular manner are no longer in order and that we move along.

The Chair: Indeed, Mr Wiseman, you raise a valid point of order, and I would just like to remind Mr Tilson that he has asked these questions over and over again and the answer he's received from the parliamentary assistant has been repeated on a number of occasions. He may not be happy with that answer, and that's certainly his choice. However, the answer has been made over and over again and I think that it's only fair that we move along, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: Well, Mr Chairman, I respectfully disagree, but I can see you're ruling me out of order, which is regrettable. However, I would therefore ask the parliamentary assistant the rationale of subsection (2).

Mr Owens: Again, Chair, I am at risk of being ruled repetitious, as I have repeated this rationale and explanation over the past five days and now it is three minutes to 12. This section removes what is viewed by the government as a confusing term, the "class of risk exposure," from the act and introduces a term, "risk classification system", which again, for the -- I've lost count of the number of times that I've used this explanation. This language is currently in use by the industry and this is the method or the attempt by the government to modernize and to set up some level of precision in language. The member for Wilson Heights indicated that it's a problem in terms of imprecision of language and indicated his concern with respect to perhaps casualness. We share that concern and we are certainly moving forward with subsections 2(1), (2) and (3) to provide the kind of precision that's needed and to bring current practice to the current legislation.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. If there are no further comments or debate, I would suggest that we call the question, and indeed I'd like to suggest, shall section 2 of the --

Mr Kwinter: Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Yes, Mr Kwinter. On a point of order?

Mr Kwinter: Given the time, and it's not going to make much difference whether this gets passed now or whether it gets passed at the beginning of our afternoon session, and given the fact that the critic for our party isn't here, and the reason he isn't here is because he has a just and valid reason for not being here -- he serves also as our House leader and the House leaders are meeting -- could I ask that this vote be put off until the start of the session this afternoon?

The Chair: There's no deferral of a question. It appeared to me the debate was completed. No one indicated to me that they wanted to pursue debate any further, so I put the question. I'm at the hands of the committee. If it's the wish that we recess until following routine proceedings this afternoon to call the question, we can do that or we can do it now.

Mr Winninger: That's not our wish.

Mr Owens: That's not our wish. We want to move forward.

Mr Wiseman: We would like to call the question.

The Chair: Okay. Shall section 2 of the bill carry? Carried.

It now being 12 o'clock, this committee is recessed until after routine proceedings this afternoon at approximately 3:30.

The committee recessed at 1200.

The committee resumed at 1530.

The Chair: I'd like to bring the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to order. We're moving on now to section 3 of Bill 164. I would like to ask the members if there are any amendments.

Mr Owens: I move that section 7 of the Insurance Act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

"Accident benefits advisory committees

"7(1) The minister may appoint one or more accident benefits advisory committees.


"(2) The minister shall assign a name to each committee.


"(3) A committee shall,

"(a) advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory accident benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee;

"(b) perform such other functions as are assigned to the committee by the minister or the commissioner; and

"(c) perform such other functions as are prescribed by the regulations.

"Recommendations for arbitrators

"(4) The minister or commissioner shall assign to one of the committees the function of recommending persons to conduct arbitrations under this act."

The Chair: Are there any concerns, comment or debate with regard to this? Yes, Mr Kwinter.

Mr Owens: Would you like an explanation of why we're doing this, or does it matter?

Mr Kwinter: It doesn't matter.

Mr Owens: Okay.

The Chair: Mr Kwinter, please.

Mr Owens: I'm sure Mr Tilson is very interested in an explanation.

Mr Tilson: I am indeed.

The Chair: Mr Owens.

Mr Kwinter: All right, why don't I make some of my comments, and then maybe you can make some comments as to why you've done what you've done.

I have some concerns with the intent of the amendment and the wording. To give you an example, when we look at the government amendment 7(1), it says, "The minister may appoint one or more accident benefits advisory committees," whereas in the original proposal it says, "The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee."

What has happened now is that the proposed amendments will take it from being mandatory, that there shall be at least one accident benefits advisory committee, to the point where it may. It's discretionary. There may be an accident benefits advisory committee which, by definition, means that there may also not be one.

So we have a situation where the act is really at the mercy of the minister and, depending on what his feelings are at any particular time, he will decide whether or not there is to be any or many accident benefit advisory committees. If that is the case, then the other provisions really don't make any sense, because the minister has the discretion of not having any committees. I would certainly appreciate hearing from the parliamentary assistant why that happened.

One of the other two things that concern me is the recommendations for arbitrators. In the original proposals on Bill 164 there was a provision, when we looked at clause 7(c) under section 3, "to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations," which I find not a problem. But where I do have a problem is where the proposed amendments call for two things.

One of the things they call for is, "The minister or commissioner shall assign to one of the committees" -- it may or may not be in effect -- the recommendation of persons to conduct arbitration under the act, as opposed to the original scheme, which called for a recommendation as to procedures.

It would seem to me that it would be appropriate for the committee to establish its agenda and its procedures and recommendations through the minister and/or commissioner as to how the arbitration should take place. I think it's totally inappropriate for one of these committees, which is very vague -- and, again, I say there is also a possibility that there may not even be a committee, because there is discretion on the part of the minister.

But it would seem to me that any arbitrators who were appointed under this act would be appointed by order in council, which means effectively that the cabinet would be making the appointments, and it would seem that the people who would be appointed to conduct arbitrations under the act should be appointed at the discretion of the minister, as opposed to recommendations to the minister being made by the committee, particularly because it doesn't spell out which committee.

In the provisions under the original Bill 164 there was to be one committee. That committee would have been, I assume, structured in such a way that it would reflect all of the interests of all of the accident benefit advisory concerns. Under the new amendment, it says that there could be one or more committees, and then, further along in the proposed amendment, it says "one of the committees." It doesn't specify what qualifications that committee could have.

It is quite possible that there is a committee that has been set up where, because it may be a rather unique and specialized area of accident benefit, it requires a special expertise. The minister and/or commissioner, in their discretion, might set up that particular committee that has the necessary expertise to deal with that particular issue but would have no expertise or experience in recommending arbitrators in the broad spectrum of what is provided for in this bill.

It would seem to me that several things should happen. I think it's imperative that it be made mandatory that there be at least one accident benefits advisory committee. I think that what has happened in the drafting of this particular amendment is that there has been a little bit of confusion. I think the intent was probably to say that the minister should have the discretion as to whether he wants to appoint more than one.

I have no problem with that, but the way it's worded, it says he has discretion as to even whether he appoints the one. I would think that there could be some change in the language if the intent was to give the minister discretion as to whether there'd be more than one committee, that at least the minister shall appoint a committee and may in fact appoint more than a committee. I think that would resolve that problem.


The other concern I have is that when we have the recommendations for arbitrators, I think the wording should reflect not the minister or the commissioner. I would certainly prefer that it be the minister and/or the commissioner, so that when these order-in-council appointments are made, the minister has the right to do it.

Certainly it would seem to me that there should be a clear understanding that you may require a committee -- I'm not sure how you structure the wording -- to make sure that you have a committee that has the ability to recommend an arbitrator. I have no problem with that committee recommending the procedures for the committee, but I do have some problems with the committee recommending the people who should be arbitrators, because I think there is a built-in danger of having conflict, depending on the makeup of the committee.

That's another area that has some concern to me. I would be a little happier if under section 7 of the act there is a provision as to the makeup of the committee, certainly as to numbers, so that we have an idea of what kind of committee we're talking about.

Those are just initial comments that I have. I would certainly appreciate hearing from the parliamentary assistant. Maybe he could state the reasons for his amendments, keeping in mind some of my comments, and maybe could respond to them.

The Chair: Mr Owens, for an explanation.

Mr Owens: I'll keep my comments brief and on point. I thank the member for his comments. As he may be aware, in the current legislation passed by his government -- I'll read for him section 7:

"The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee to make recommendations concerning persons qualified to be arbitrators, to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations and to advise on such other matters as the commission or the minister may refer to the committee."

So in fact this amendment under subsection 7(4) is entirely consistent with the current legislation.

In terms of the changing of the language, it was felt that there may in fact be a necessity from time to time to have more than one functional committee under this umbrella and that the word "shall" was certainly more restrictive than the word "may."

In terms of issues around things like the designation of assessment facilities, there may be a need to constitute a committee to act out that purpose. The amendment is clearly intended to provide flexibility to the minister and the commissioner, as required, to appoint more than one committee.

For persons who are going to be reading Hansard for the first time and some visitors who have not had the experience of this piece of legislation through its various stages, the accident benefits advisory committee is composed of persons who have diverse interests in the operation of the statutory acts and the benefit schedule. They include accident victims, insurers, consumers, rehabilitation providers etc, and it's designed to ensure that the commissioner or the minister receives a balanced set of advice with respect to the schedule.

Just in conclusion, as I say, the amendment is consistent, first of all, with the legislation of the former government with respect to the appointment or the recommendations with respect to arbitrators and, second, in terms of providing good flexibility to the minister and the commissioner with respect to additional committees as required. This language does that.

Mr Kwinter: Could I just respond? I've listened very carefully to the parliamentary assistant and I really think he sort of agrees with what I say, but hasn't responded in that what is happening is that I had pointed out that I thought the intent of the amendment was to give flexibility to the minister, and he agrees. He said that's what the intent was: to give flexibility to the minister.

But what happens is that in the language as it now stands, it also gives a discretion to the minister not to have any committees. It would seem to me that the intent was that there would be at least one committee, but that the minister should have some flexibility to have more than one. But under this particular wording, under subsection 7(1), it says "The minister may appoint one or more accident benefits advisory committees," which by definition means he may also not appoint them.

All I am saying is that I think there should be a change in the language so it is clear that it is mandatory there be at least one committee, and then there could be discretion for the minister to appoint more -- it gives him the flexibility; he doesn't have to, but he has the ability to do it. But under the language as it is now, it could be interpreted, and I don't think anyone could deny it, that the way it is done now the minister has a discretion to have no committees, and that is my concern.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Kwinter. Mr Owens, explanation, please.

Mr Owens: Just very quickly, there's no misunderstanding with respect to the enforceability of words like "may," "will" and "shall," in that "shall" is the one that is the most coercive in its application. However, with respect to subsection (4), the word "shall" is used. If I can read this for a moment, "The minister or commissioner shall assign to one of the committees the function of recommending persons to conduct arbitrations under this act."

In fact, Mr Kwinter, you are going to have at least one committee. I think it would be at any government's peril to not appoint an accident benefits advisory committee, as there is a clear reason. I'm sure that in your experience as Minister of Financial Institutions, you certainly would not have gone forward and not appointed a committee of this nature. It's there to provide balanced advice. So there is no intention of this government, by simply changing the wording, other than to allow flexibility in the event that more committees are necessitated. But again, your issue is answered in subsection (4) through the interpretation that at least one committee is necessary to carry out the functions as prescribed under subsection (4).

Mr Kwinter: I don't want to really belabour this point, but I think that something is drastically wrong. The major first provision in the previous Bill 164 says, under section 7 in section 3, "The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee." Under the amendments proposed by the government, it says, "The minister may appoint one or more" committees.

I can tell you that you can sit and tell me now that there isn't a government that would not do it, but all you're going to have at the end of the day, and when this government is gone and successive governments are gone and until this act is amended, is you're going to have an act, and that act is going to say, "The minister may appoint one or more" committees.

There isn't an interpretation in the world, before any judge in the world, that will say that is mandatory; it will say it is discretionary, if, for whatever reason, and reasons that are not known to us now, some minister decides in his discretion, "I have the right not to have any committees, I don't have to have one because it says I `may' do it; it doesn't say that I `shall' do it."

For you to then say in "recommendations," subsection (4), you have to understand that flows from what is the number one provision, and the argument will be that the minister can't assign to one of the committees "the function of recommending persons to conduct arbitrations" if there isn't a committee. You can't go back and say, "Later on it says that there `shall' be." It's mandatory that he "shall assign" to the committee, but he can't make that assignment if a committee isn't there.

For the life of me, I do not understand why this is a big deal, because it just seems to be so obvious and so rational that if you're going to have a committee -- and the parliamentary assistant has said there isn't a government going that would not have a committee -- why would you have it discretionary when later on you say it is mandatory that these committees shall have some duties?

It would seem to me that it is not a huge leap of faith to take a look at this and say, "We had originally intended that there should be a committee" -- I take the government at face value that it intends that there should be a committee. I don't understand why the parliamentary assistant and the government members would not have that provision that mandates there should be at least one committee. I certainly agree that if there's to be more than one, there should be a provision that is discretionary, but surely we can come to an agreement that if it is the intent there should be a committee, it should be mandatory that there be that committee.

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank the member for his persuasive arguments. In consultation with ministry counsel and legislative counsel, we don't have a problem in the substitution of "shall" for "may" in that section.

Mr Winninger: You're just too generous for words.

Mr Wiseman: I'd like to propose at this time that we take a 10-minute recess to consider the wording and to consult to make some changes.

Mr Owens: Unanimous consent: no problem.

The Chair: A 10-minute recess.

The committee recessed at 1553 and resumed at 1605.

The Chair: I'd like to bring the meeting of the committee back to order.

Mr Charles Harnick (Willowdale): May I speak on the amendments?

The Chair: Sure.

Mr Harnick: Just so that I understand what is going on, I gather we've decided to take subsection 7(1) and change it to, "The minister shall appoint one or more accident benefits advisory committees."

The Chair: Indeed, Mr Harnick, I was just going to ask Mr Owens if he would reiterate exactly that comment.

Mr Harnick: I'll defer to the parliamentary assistant.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Harnick.

Mr Owens: I'd like to withdraw the amendment and resubmit the same amendment, substituting the word "shall" in subsection 7(1) for the word "may" so that it will read, "The minister shall appoint one or more accident benefits advisory committees."

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. Are there any further comments?

Mr Klopp: The legalese won't come back and say that he has to appoint more accident benefits people because the word is "shall" in there? That's the only concern I had.

The Chair: Mr Owens, do you have a comment on that?

Mr Owens: I'll defer the legal question to ministry counsel.

Ms Fisher: I think this gives the minister the option of appointing one committee or appointing more than one committee.

Mr Winninger: Mr Chair --

The Chair: Mr Harnick had his hand up.

Mr Harnick: I think it's a very appropriate time to talk about what goes on at the Ontario Insurance Commission, because here we are talking about advising the minister and the commissioner on matters pertaining to statutory acts and benefits under part VI --

Mr Tilson: So much for independence.

Mr Harnick: -- and I think it's very appropriate that we talk about and understand what goes on at the Ontario Insurance Commission, because only then can we understand the importance and necessity of having a committee to ensure that the process is working.

I think, just as an aside, now that we know that there's going to be at least one committee, assuming that this bill ever sees the light of day, we should probably consider calling it the Monte Kwinter committee, because he's the one who I suppose we can thank for ensuring that there's going to be at least one committee. I really would like to recommend to the parliamentary assistant that we name that committee, because I see the important section, which is subsection (2), says, "The minister shall assign a name to each committee." So we can call at least one committee the Monte Kwinter committee.

Mr Tilson: Agreed.

Mr Harnick: I just figure that Mr Endicott must have stayed up nights thinking of that subsection 7(2), a name for the committee, and you know, Mr Chair, when we analyse this section really carefully, I'm surprised that Mr Endicott didn't say we should not only have a name for each committee but everybody should be given a title.

Mr Tilson: Name it after the seven dwarfs.

Mr Harnick: That's right.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, I think it's clear in the amendment that it's the minister who will assign the name and not the committee.

Mr Harnick: I'd just like to put it on the record to ask the parliamentary assistant to speak with the real powers here, Mr Endicott, Mr Tully and I suppose the minister, to recommend that we call this the Monte Kwinter committee.

I see, Mr Chair, that the bells are ringing. What does that mean?

The Chair: Mr Harnick, you're very observant and my suspicion is it may be a quorum call. If we just sit tight for a minute, I'm sure we can --


The Chair: I suspect that indeed it was a quorum call. Mr Harnick, would you like to continue?

Mr Harnick: At any rate, I just would like to recommend to the parliamentary assistant that he speak to those very powerful people who are going to be setting the agenda for innocent accident victims in this province, Mr Endicott and Mr Tully, the people who all innocent accident victims are going to have to rely on in terms of compensation when they're badly injured in accidents, to ask those very powerful individuals to consider calling this committee the Monte Kwinter committee. I might remind the members of this committee that Monte Kwinter was once the Minister of Financial Institutions. I think it would be very appropriate. It's an important committee.


I'm quite sure there's probably no one on the government side who's ever taken the time to get on the red rocket -- that's the little train that runs under Yonge Street, and it goes right up to the city of North York, Willowdale, the riding I represent. There's a stop right at the North York City Centre. You don't even have to go outside to go underneath the street and end up in the very building that the Ontario Insurance Commission exists in.

I will bet you that not one single opposition member or government member -- I shouldn't say "opposition," because I've been to the Ontario Insurance Commission and I'm sure that my friend Mr Tilson has been there -- I will bet that not even the parliamentary assistant has gone up to see how the Ontario Insurance Commission operates. That would be my bet. If I asked every government member who is here, I would bet they don't even know --

Mr Wiseman: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Under our standing orders, we are confronted with the rules that say that repetition and being off topic are not acceptable. I would like you to rule on this and to get us back on to the section and to get us proceeding with this bill.

The Chair: Indeed that's correct, Mr Wiseman. Mr Harnick, would you like to continue.

Mr Harnick: At any rate, as I was saying before Mr Wiseman's untimely interruption, the Ontario Insurance Commission is located right on Yonge Street, right in the heart of my riding, and in that building every day arbitrators and mediators --

Mr Klopp: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Normally, people say if they're in favour of the motion or against the motion and then talk about the motion. Are you in favour of this amendment to this motion or against?

Mr Harnick: I am winding my thought process up, Mr Klopp. In answer, I have a chance to give you a travelogue through the --

The Chair: Order. Mr Klopp, thank you for that point of order. Mr Harnick, would you please continue.

Mr Harnick: I don't want to leave Mr Klopp in suspense, so I'm just going to tell him how I intend to go about discussing this. If he wants to leave, I don't want him to leave with a question in his --

Mr Klopp: Not knowing whether you're for or against it.

Mr Harnick: That's right. I don't want him to leave with a question in his head and I don't want him to have to worry about this all weekend.

In the course of my travelogue through the riding of Willowdale, I might tell you that the Ontario Insurance Commission is in a building adjacent to the North York City Centre. The North York City Centre contains the new North York Centre for the Performing Arts; adjacent to that is the North York Board of Education; adjacent to that is the North York city hall, which includes Lastman Square, and then there's a building that has the Ontario Insurance Commission. So obviously, if the Ontario Insurance Commission is located in the very heart of the city of North York, the riding that I represent, it must be a very, very important commission.

I tell you that the North York City Centre is an important place, certainly in the life of every person who lives in my riding in Willowdale, and the Ontario Insurance Commission --

Mr Tilson: What's the name of that riding again?

Mr Harnick: That's Willowdale. Right in the heart of Willowdale exists the Ontario Insurance Commission. People laugh when I say this, but the Ontario Insurance Commission plays with the lives and affects the lives of countless accident victims.

Mr Wiseman: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I think I would take exception to the word "plays." "Plays" infers that the people in that commission do not take their work seriously and that they would wantonly manipulate and not take into account the real needs of those people.

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Wiseman. However, I'm sure it's certainly a point of very valuable information.

Mr Wiseman: I would disagree with the use of the word "plays."

The Chair: Mr Harnick, if you wouldn't mind --

Mr Harnick: You know --

The Chair: And, Mr Harnick, I might remind you that you have been very repetitious and you're not allowed to be repetitious under our orders. You know that, Mr Harnick; you know that so clearly.

Mr Harnick: Mr Chairman, if Mr Wiseman would not --

Mr Tilson: It's all news to me.

Mr Harnick: -- interrupt me, I wouldn't have to keep going back, because I can only do it if I start at the beginning. If I get interrupted in the middle, I've got to go all the way back to the beginning and start again. And Mr Wiseman, the educator from Durham West -- is it Durham West?

Mr Tilson: That's where the dump is.

Mr Wiseman: Do you bill your clients on the same basis?

Mr Harnick: Is it Durham West?

Mr Wiseman: Yes.

Mr Harnick: The member for Durham West, the place where they're going to put two dumps in --

Mr Wiseman: You don't get that right, either. I hope you don't charge your clients on the basis of accuracy.

Mr Harnick: Mr Wiseman is a teacher and educator and I think he knows that the word "play" is subject to more than one meaning. If he wants to impute into the word "play" the idea that the people involved at the Ontario Insurance Commission play all day, well, that's up to Mr Wiseman's narrow-minded outlook on the dictionary. But, quite frankly --

Mr Owens: Is that unparliamentary? You missed this morning's session, where we all agreed that we were trying to do this bill, we would get through it, and we wouldn't use --

The Chair: Mr Owens.

Mr Tilson: That's what we're trying to do. Will you give him a chance? He's trying to debate the bill.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, would you --

Mr Winninger: Point of order, Mr Chair: I have to go and speak to the Willowdale-Thornhill chapter of the Association of Professional Engineers tonight and I thought perhaps Mr Harnick might go off and get me directions for that place as well, and perhaps when he got back we'll have made some progress on some more sections of this bill.

Mr Harnick: Well, tell me, if my good friend from London South --

Mr Winninger: That's correct. I'll give you directions later.

Mr Harnick: Well, if he would like directions, if he'd just give me the address -- you know what? I'm probably on my way up to the riding at 6 o'clock --

Mr Tilson: Give him a lift.

Mr Harnick: I'll give him a ride right to the doorstep, assuming it's in Willowdale and not in Thornhill.

Mr Winninger: Well, it's hyphenated, but could you go off and perhaps find those directions for me so we can make some progress in your absence?

Mr Harnick: No, because I --

The Chair: Order, please. Mr Harnick, if you would like to speak relevantly to the section of the bill, it would be much appreciated by the Chair because, indeed, as you know, Mr Harnick, if you don't speak with relevancy and if you are repetitious then you will be ruled out of order.

Mr Harnick: But the problem, Chairman -- and I wish you would call off your wolves here --

The Chair: I have no wolves here, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: The problem is that your colleagues in the government will not let me get to the pith and substance of what I want to talk about, because they keep interrupting me and won't let me get there, and poor Mr Huget has fallen asleep.

The Chair: If you would do it succinctly, Mr Harnick, I'm sure they would not have any interest in raising points of order and I think that's clear. So if you would kindly continue.

Mr Harnick: Well, I'm just not as erudite as I might otherwise be. At any rate, as I was saying, you take that red rocket, it takes you right up to the Ontario Insurance Commission which is adjacent to the North York Centre --

Mr Norm Jamison (Norfolk): Point of order, Mr Chair: It's obvious that we're carrying on on the same basis, on the same line. As a matter of fact, if I ever needed eye transplants, I would certainly hope to get Mr Harnick's because he's never used his in the sense of vision.

The Chair: The first part of your comment certainly was a point of order, Mr Jamison, and very much appreciated by the Chair, let me tell you. Mr Harnick, if you would indeed please get on to the relevancy of the bill and of this committee and not be repetitious. Otherwise, Mr Harnick, I will have to rule you out of order and go on to the next debater.

Mr Harnick: Just as an aside, Mr Chair, I was really intrigued with what Mr Jamison said. I didn't understand it, but --

The Chair: The first part, which I responded to, was in order; his comment wasn't, Mr Harnick. So if you would just continue, please.


Mr Harnick: At any rate, I keep trying to tell you that the Ontario Insurance Commission is a very important place because it affects and plays on the lives of every person who comes before it. Because my friends in the Liberal Party eliminated the right of innocent accident victims, except for the 3% who reach the threshold, to claim their compensation from the wrongdoer, the net effect of that has been that an enormous number of people have to go and seek their reparations before the Ontario Insurance Commission. That may come as a surprise to my friends in the government.

When those people go to the Ontario Insurance Commission, all they can claim is a portion of their loss of income. They cannot claim all of their loss of income. They can under the Liberal bill; they won't be able to under Bill 164, so what happens at the insurance commission becomes even more important for the innocent victim, because the innocent victims can't claim their actual loss of income. All they can claim is what the insurance commission will ultimately --

Mr Owens: A point of order, Chair: With respect, the section under consideration does not address the functionality of the commission per se. It's merely a mechanism for the minister to appoint one or more accident benefits committees, and a function of the committee has absolutely nothing to do with, again, whether it's a travelogue on the TTC or how one would get there via the Don Valley Parkway. I would suggest that --

Mr Harnick: No, you don't go by the parkway.

Mr Tilson: It's too long.

Mr Owens: -- we move on.

The Chair: Mr Owens, you raise a valid point of order, and I'd like to remind --


The Chair: Mr Harnick. I'd like to remind Mr Harnick that if he continues not to be relevant with regard to dealing with the clause-by-clause of Bill 164 -- and indeed my role here is to make sure that the business of this committee is conducted -- then I'll have to rule him out of order and we'll move on to another debate here.

Mr Harnick: Let me tell the parliamentary assistant something. Statutory accident benefits are dealt with by the Ontario Insurance Commission. They are the final arbiters. The committee -- and I'm getting to this. I know it's hard for you people to think quickly and get ahead of yourselves, but the committee --

Mr Owens: On a point of order, Chair: The personal comments are not required and not necessary. The language that is being used by the member for Willowdale is not only inflammatory, but again, as the member was not here this morning, he did not see that the committee was conducted with some level of decorum, which I'm sure the member maybe has use for when he presents himself in court.

However, the section that's under debate at this point has absolutely nothing to do with the personal comments that the member is making, has absolutely nothing to do with a travelogue, and I request again that the Chair rule the member out of order and that we move on.

Mr Harnick: I was just getting to the point.

The Chair: It would be greatly appreciated if all members were to be, certainly, ethical and polite in their dealings and certainly not use language or comments that were inflammatory or unparliamentary. And I agree, I think that's certainly a very positive thing. Mr Harnick?

Mr Harnick: I was just about to get to the part that made this relevant, and that's the fact that this committee that we now have established must be set up is the committee that becomes the liaison between the Ontario Insurance Commission and the minister. You cannot belittle the importance of this committee, and what concerns me is the fact that we are taking, and it seems to me somewhat reducing, the functions of the committee in our amendment.

You may think that I'm playing games here, but I'm really not, because I've been to the Ontario Insurance Commission and I see what goes on there. When there are irregularities in the process, not due to anybody's particular fault, we have to have a mechanism that can correct those irregularities in a timely way, because if the irregularities are not corrected, people who are injured end up getting thumped and boiled when they go to the Ontario Insurance Commission. It's very important. You cannot belittle the importance of this section.

I appreciate that nobody thinks I'm on topic but, quite frankly, I'm very much on topic. This committee is going to be the pipeline to the minister of the day, and if there are problems at this commission, if there are problems in terms of the way people are able to prosecute their cases, then it's very important that the minister be able to deal with this in a timely manner.

Let me give you an example. I know there have been a number of cases at the Ontario Insurance Commission and the issue at that commission is always twofold: (a) How much money can the persons who are injured establish they were making at the time of the accident? (b) Were they badly enough injured to be deemed properly absent from their employment? Those are very, very difficult questions to answer.

We have the blinking lights again, Mr Chair. What would you like me to do?

Mr Owens: Wish us a Merry Christmas.

Mr Harnick: Merry Christmas.

The Chair: It's a quorum call, as indicated by the television.

Mr Harnick: Are we allowed to keep going while the bells are ringing?

The Chair: If you would like to continue, I think that's in order.

Mr Harnick: As long as I don't breach the rules.

The Chair: Never fear, Mr Harnick. If you breach the rules, I'll remind you of it very quickly.

Mr Harnick: Now, let me explain how difficult it is to establish those couple of issues. It may well be that when you're at the Ontario Insurance Commission, in order to establish how much money you're making, you may have to have an accountant come there. You may have to have someone come there who can interpret income taxes if you're self-employed. You may have to have an actuary calculate your income ability based on your past history of earning and to determine what your future history of earning might be. You might have to have your employer come from the workplace to establish that you were employed, what you were earning and what your entitlement might otherwise be.

You've got other issues. You've got issues of collateral benefits, which collateral benefits have to be taken into account in establishing your 90% of net or your 80% of gross, depending whether you want to be in the Liberal plan or in the NDP plan. But the fact is that those are difficult issues.

At the same time as you're at this Ontario Insurance Commission, you've got to establish what your injury is. You've got to establish that your injury makes you disabled from attending your employment. Again, establishing that your injury is severe enough is a very difficult proposition.

If you people think that by dumping everything into the Ontario Insurance Commission you're streamlining the process, you're not. You're just forcing people to move their trials from 361 University Avenue or from the various county courthouses around this province to the great riding of Willowdale.

They're just going to move the venue to Willowdale and they're going to come to Willowdale and they're going to put on full-blown trials where they have witnesses, where they have professional people appearing and where you have arbitrators trying to make difficult decisions, and lawyers -- and I know you hate lawyers because lawyers work hard to try to look after injured people -- but some of the people who go there are going to need lawyers because they may have been cut off from their benefits. They may not have received a benefit for a year and they may be looking at $600 a week; they may be looking to the commission for $30,000. That's a lot of dough.


When we have to set up a committee, we want that committee to be responsive to the needs of the people who attended the insurance commission. I know that you don't think what I'm saying is relevant but I can tell you, Chairman, that even though you sit on this committee and even though you're all in favour of Bill 164 because that's what the government tells you you have to be in favour of, none of you has taken the time to take the red rocket to Willowdale to see what goes on at the Ontario Insurance Commission, so how can you go ahead and determine what this committee shall do? How can you even say that I'm not on topic? You haven't even taken the time to go there and see what the commission does.

Mr Tilson: Maybe we should look.

Mr Harnick: This commission has an enormous effect on the lives of every accident victim in Ontario. When I take a look at the original bill, the bill as it looked when second reading took place on October 13, 1992, a year or almost 11 months after first reading -- we've been doing this for a long time and we still haven't got it right -- I start to get a little nervous when I see an amendment that comes along and really tends to reduce the jurisdiction of this committee.

I take a quick look and I see in the bill -- and just so that you can better follow along, it's section 3 of the bill, which is section 7 of the act, which is being repealed, and that's on page 2 -- the heading opposite the section says "Accident benefits advisory committee." It says:

"The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee," and I'll just stop there for a moment, because we know that the first attempt here was to slip in the word "may." Red flags start going up when I see the government taking away something that provides it with a definite obligation and it slides in the word "may," which gives it a little too much flexibility for my liking.

But at any rate, because Mr Kwinter was so astute and we now have the Monte Kwinter amendment to subsection 7(1), which is section 3 of the bill, we know that at least one committee must be set up. I'm quite pleased that the government recognized that and had the flexibility to make what I think is a proper change.

Mr Klopp: I support this.

Mr Harnick: I hope that the government's attitude in making this amendment will be a reflection of how it's going to proceed when we get to the guts of this bill, which are set out on page 16, when we get to section 267.1. I hope that new attitude of the parliamentary assistant carries over.

Mr Owens: Give me a chance.

Mr Harnick: At any rate, we get down to subsection 7(2), which is section 3 of the bill. I could never figure out how section 7 is section 3 of the bill. Some day I'm going to have to try and figure that out. Legislative counsel is going to have to explain all that to me.

It says, "The minister shall assign a name to each committee." I wouldn't mind if you changed that "shall" to a "may," quite honestly, because I think that's one of the silliest subsections I've ever seen in a bill. If you really want to do it right, you should say, "The minister shall assign a name to each committee and a title to everybody who sits on it," and then everybody can feel good. But I'm not going to dwell on that section because it's much ado about nothing.

But at any rate, then we get on to the duties, and the duties are somewhat changed about and that causes me a little bit of concern. In subsection (3) it says, "A committee shall" -- and I like this -- "advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory accident benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee."

That says to me that, if there is a problem, the committee must advise the minister and the commissioner on matters relating to problems with statutory accident benefits. I think I'm a little concerned that they can only deal with -- the words are -- "benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee."

I think we should have a committee that is vigilant of everything that goes on at the Ontario Insurance Commission, and we shouldn't necessarily have to wait until the commissioner or the minister refers an issue to the committee because, quite frankly, it's all happening at the Ontario Insurance Commission. I suspect --

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: This morning we discussed several issues as to the possible delaying of certain sections in this bill, specifically areas that might deal with the long-term care paper that was presented and possibly the issue of matters involving the new regulations that are going to be prepared by the ministry.

I think the comments of the member for Willowdale are most useful and I think we should hear more from him on these areas, but as I'm sitting here listening to him, it seems to me that it would be more appropriate that this be one of the sections that perhaps should be delayed to a later date, when we can have a proper review of the long-term care paper and possibly the regulations.

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Tilson. A point of information, most certainly, but not a point of order.

Mr Tilson: Well, Mr Chairman --

The Chair: It's not a point of order, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: The fact of the matter is, Mr Chairman, it was my understanding the parliamentary assistant undertook this morning that he would communicate with the minister and that certain sections of this --

The Chair: According to our standing rules, Mr Tilson, that's not a point of order. It certainly is a point of information, and you're out of order.

I certainly hope Mr Harnick doesn't want to start all over again, because he might be out of order.

Mr Harnick: I've got to go back to that red rocket running up Yonge Street --

Mr Klopp: I've got a good memory. Trust me.

Mr Wiseman: I know where you were. Keep going.

Mr Harnick: Where was I?

Mr Wiseman: You were getting to the best part.

The Chair: We were talking about duties, Mr Harnick.

Mr Owens: Murray's back already.

Mr Tilson: You have to repeat it. Murray's here.

Mr Harnick: Murray's here. I have to start it all over again so I can bring him up to speed.

Mr Elston: I wanted to get in before the committee votes.

The Chair: That would certainly be out of order, Mr Harnick.

Mr Winninger: You'll never get him up to speed.

Mr Harnick: Murray's pretty bright.

The Chair: You were at "duties," Mr Harnick.

Mr Tilson: Do you want to hear what he said?

Mr Elston: Yes, if he can repeat it.

Mr Harnick: At any rate --

Mr Elston: Is there a Hansard of this? Maybe I could read about it instead of having him repeat it all.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, if you would like to continue.

Mr Harnick: I take a look at this section 3 of the bill, which is section 7 of the act. I'm looking at the bill that was given second reading on October 13, 1992, on page 2. One of the things it says about this committee is that the committee should "advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations." When I look at the new subsections, that is gone.

I just don't see it under the word "duties" on the government motion 1, which is the one that is now reading "shall appoint" as opposed to "may appoint." It says it can "advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee," and then it goes on to say it can "perform such other functions as are assigned to the committee by the minister or the commissioner," and it says, "perform such other functions as are prescribed by the regulations."

What bothers me is that although we've made the Monte Kwinter amendment, where we replaced the word "may" with the word "shall," the reason the government has capitulated, I believe, to do that is because it realizes that the duties of the committee are emasculated. If you take a look at clause 7(c) of the bill on page 2, the committee has some might, but if you take a look at government amendment number 1, you've completely destroyed the ability of the committee to perform its most important function: "to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations."


Everybody knows that under Bill 164 you're killing every innocent accident victim in this province with this piece of legislation, and all you're giving them is the Ontario Insurance Commission. You're saying you can't sue for your economic loss. You're going to have a high threshold: Your injury has to be a $50,000 or $60,000 injury to get anything out of it, to almost be compensated on a dollar-for-dollar basis. So the only place the innocent accident victim has to go to is to the Ontario Insurance Commission, and now you're going to set up a committee that can't maintain the integrity of that commission in such a way that it can help the insurance industry and it can help the innocent accident victim, or, for that matter, the at-fault accident victim.

Let me tell you, it's not just accident victims who have difficulty with the Ontario Insurance Commission, because on every one of those cases the insurance company is on the other side, and it has to put up with all kinds of craziness. They have to put up with people who have been told that they have to get exercise, so people put in claims for tractors to shovel snow off their lake so they can go out and skate and get their exercise. Believe it or not, that's the truth. Can you imagine? A victim of an accident is told by a doctor to go and get exercise, so he goes down to Sears and buys a little snowplow to plow the lake off so that he can go out and skate, and then sends the bill into the Ontario Insurance Commission. Well, that's just nuts. Stuff like that happens, and it kills it for every accident victim.

Mr Elston: You're never going to be one of the arbitrators. You prejudge the circumstances. You've got to keep an open mind.

Mr Harnick: There are certain cases that just come to roost, so I point that out --

Mr Klopp: That's really happened, has it?

Mr Harnick: That's really happened. I point that out --


Mr Harnick: Let me finish.

The Chair: Order. Mr Harnick, would you please continue.

Mr Harnick: I'm trying, but the questions are coming at me so fast, Mr Chair. If you'd like me to take questions, I can stop now and take questions, and then we can carry on.

The Chair: Indeed, if Mr Klopp would like to ask a question --

Mr Klopp: Not really.

The Chair: No? Apparently he doesn't, Mr Harnick, so if you'd like to continue.

Mr Harnick: The only reason I give you that example -- I don't mean to denigrate an individual who appears before the insurance commission who's legitimately injured, but I give you that example to show you that insurance companies are also players in this. If this committee can't be involved in advising of the procedures used before the arbitrator, then you've really taken away one of its prime functions.

There are other examples too. I am often accused of being very biased towards the innocent accident victim, and in many situations I am, but there are some really strange things that happen before the Ontario Insurance Commission. There are people who are claiming loss of income at times when they're not paying their income taxes. What do you do in a situation like that?

Mr Klopp's looking at me and he's got a puzzled look, so if I can just address this; you stop me if I'm losing it.

There are people who go to the Ontario Insurance Commission -- and this is an area we have to deal with; we have to have a mechanism to solve this problem. People earn their income under the table, because it's advantageous and they don't pay taxes and they bring home 100 cents on the dollar. Then they get involved in an accident and they now have to prove a loss of income. They go to the Ontario Insurance Commission and say: "Here's what my loss of income is, here's the statement I prepared, here are my bank books. This proves how much I'm earning." And you ask them for their income taxes and they don't give them to you, because they say, "I don't file income tax." You can't have it both ways.

What is the Ontario Insurance Commission's obligation in a situation like that? What is the position of the commission? Should the commission say, "We'll grant you your loss of income, but we're also going to inform the Treasury department of the federal government that you haven't been paying your income taxes." That's what a judge does.

Mr Owens: Is this related to the section?

Mr Harnick: Oh, it's very much related to a section, Mr Owens. If you take a look, Mr Owens --

Mr Owens: You're stretching, stretching.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, you have the floor.

Mr Harnick: I know, and Mr Owens says again that I'm not on point. What I want to point out to you, Mr Owens -- have you got your bill in front of you?

Mr Owens: Absolutely.

Mr Harnick: If you turn to page 2 --

Mr Tilson: Look at section 3.

Mr Harnick: And look at section 3, which is section 7 -- I don't know how section 3 could be section 7. I can't get used to section 3 being section 7, but if you take a look at section 3, which is section 7, and you go down to clause (c), you see:

"The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee,

"(c) to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations."

I don't see that section in your amended form. Because that section isn't there, that's why you're happy to change the "may" to a "shall," because you've completely taken any significant function out of the duties section by your amendment. You're shaking your head at me, but I'm asking you. Maybe I'm missing it. Maybe I'm missing what you're shaking your head about, but I don't see in black and white in the amendment anything that says, "The minister shall appoint an accident benefits committee to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations." I don't see that there. All I see is, "to perform such other functions as are assigned to the committee by the minister or the commissioner." Well, the minister or the commissioner don't have to assign anything, and then the committee's useless. Or to "perform such other functions as are prescribed by the regulations." Well, maybe there will be no regulations, because the cabinet will say: "We don't want this committee to do anything. It's nice window dressing, it's good public relations, but we don't want this committee to do anything, so therefore, we're not going to make any regulations."

So we're going to have the Monte Kwinter committee, which because of Mr Kwinter's amendment you now have to set up; the Monte Kwinter committee is going to be set up and you're not going to give it anything to do.

Mr Klopp: That's a question, right?

Mr Harnick: Well, it's a rhetorical question, Mr Klopp. The fact of the matter is that I don't see in the government motion number 1, which is section 3 of the bill, which is section 7, at clause (c), the same words as I see in the original bill that was given second reading, and I don't know why that is. I think you're trying to pull a fast one.

The Chair: I would like to just bring to your attention, Mr Harnick, the PC motion, which I have no doubt you're very familiar with, which also mentions section 3 of the bill and section 7 of the Insurance Act. I was wondering if that has any relevance.

Mr Harnick: No, it doesn't.

The Chair: Carry on then, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: As a matter of fact, if you take a look at the PC motion -- I'm glad you brought this up, because it's worth talking about right now. It's relevant because the Chairman brought it up. You see, if you take a look at the PC motion, it's dealing with section 3 of the bill, which is section 7 of the Insurance Act, but it specifically deals with section 7 --

Mr Wiseman: You've got it now.

Mr Harnick: No, I don't understand it. That's what the words say, but I don't understand it. At any rate, it deals with -- you see, the Chairman isn't even listening to me. Mr Chairman, I'm trying to explain this to you, but you don't even want to listen. I thought you were an attentive Chairman, but you're just sort of sitting there and having a whole conversation with the parliamentary assistant, and I really find that quite offensive. You asked me a specific question and now you don't even want to hear the answer. You're going to have a whole conversation with the parliamentary assistant, and I'm responding to the question that you asked me --

The Chair: Mr Harnick, order. Mr Harnick, because you seem to be predisposed to the fact that section 3 of the bill, section 7 of the Insurance Act, is something you don't understand, I just brought it to your attention that as it was in the PC motion, and I thought you would be familiar with that, I was wondering why you would not understand it in this motion but surely to God you would understand it in your motion.

Mr Harnick: Sir --

Mr Tilson: A point of order, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: I wasn't asking a question. I was just bringing it to your attention, Mr Harnick. Indeed, I was not ignoring you at all.

Mr Tilson: A point of order, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: The PC amendment is an add-on.

Mr Harnick: I'm about to talk about that.

The Chair: And indeed we're not discussing the PC motion. I only raised it --

Mr Harnick: You raised it.

The Chair: -- just for your information, to make it perfectly clear.

Mr Harnick: And I'm going to tell you, what you raised --

The Chair: Mr Harnick seems to have a great deal of difficulty understanding section 3 of the bill, section --

Mr Harnick: No, I don't. Mr Johnson, I don't have any difficulty --

The Chair: Mr Harnick, I'm hearing two different messages from you and it's very confusing for me as the Chair to try and understand this.

Mr Harnick: Well, I'm going to explain it. If you would stop talking to the parliamentary assistant and listen to the answer I'm trying to give you to the question you posed, you're going to understand it perfectly.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, I never posed a question. Quite clearly, Mr Harnick, I didn't pose a question.

Mr Harnick: Well, you did. We can go back and look in the Hansard, but I don't want to bother anybody to do that.

The Chair: Indeed, I'm sure you will.

Mr Owens: I have a point of order.

The Chair: A point of order, Mr Owens.

Mr Harnick: Mr Owens, you're wasting our time. We're never going to get through this section.

Mr Owens: Mr Chair, whether the member for Willowdale realizes it or not, it is appropriate from time to time for myself as a duly constituted member of this committee to request advice from the Chair on procedural issues and other such matters that may be appropriate. So if that so offends the member, then perhaps he can go to his House leader and ask for a change in the standing orders.

The Chair: That's not a point of order, Mr Owens.

Mr Harnick: Now I feel much better, Mr Owens, because now I understand why you're here. Now I know what it is that you do. But at any rate, the part I don't understand, Mr Johnson --

Mr Wiseman: He doesn't know how to read legislation. He doesn't know what a parliamentary assistant does.

Mr Harnick: Well, I'm not a smart guy like you, Mr Wiseman, you know, the man with the dumps. I'm not as smart as you. I just --

Mr Wiseman: Just a bad memory, eh?

Mr Harnick: At any rate, what I don't understand -- and I was saying this in a jocular sense because I was looking at counsel -- I don't understand how they do the numbering. I'll never understand how they do the numbering. But what you brought up, Mr Johnson, is very, very important because -- excuse me?

The Chair: I said nothing, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: I thought he was getting ready to confer with you in the course of his job again.

At any rate, what you bring up is very, very important, because the Tory motion is not an amendment to clause (c), it's an amendment to clause (b). I think that the Chairman, if he takes a look at motion 1A, will see the number 7(b) beside it, not 7(c). I'm talking about 7(c), and 7(c) in this bill here, on page 2, is vastly different from 7(c) in the government motion.

So where the government tries to tell us that by changing the word "may" to "shall" they're doing anything for us, they're really not, because what they're doing is taking away the most important parts of the section. They're creating a committee, which they have to create, that doesn't have jurisdiction to do anything. So you really haven't done anything for us.

But at any rate, because Mr Johnson brought it up, it's got to be relevant. The Chairman would never bring up anything that isn't relevant. If you take a look at the motion that I know we'll be speaking about probably at some length later on, clause 7(c) as proposed in the PC motion indicates --

The Chair: That's out of order, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: You brought it up.

The Chair: No, I didn't, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: Well, you were the one --

The Chair: No, I didn't, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: Then I'll just go right back to doing this. You were the one who indicated that the motion that was made by the Conservative Party was the same as the motion I'm now arguing is not proper. That's exactly what the Chairman said.

The Chair: No, I didn't, Mr Harnick.

Mr Harnick: Well, I want to tell you that you'd better take a look at the Hansard and you'd also better take a look at PC motion 1A and you'll see that there's no resemblance whatsoever between the government motion, which I'm criticizing, rightfully, and the motion in 1A, which is totally different.

The Chair: That's right, Mr Harnick. So if you would continue to debate the government motion, it would be much appreciated by the Chair.

Mr Harnick: I'm going to continue doing that. It concerns me very much to be told that motion 1 and motion 1A are one and the same. Motion 1A deals specifically with the setting up of an advisory committee for motorcycles, and I don't see the word "motorcycles" anywhere in government motion number 1. So for the Chairman to tell me that I'm, in effect, arguing against my own motion is absolutely wrong.

I'd like the Chairman to read the PC motion and see that the PC motion is a motion that will empower this committee to do certain things. It will empower the committee to have a real function. Unfortunately, under government motion number 1, the committee has no function. The function is totally left to the discretion of the minister or the commissioner. It seems to me that is a very weak and virtually useless committee. The minister does not have to empower that committee to perform any function at all.

The other point I would like to make is the idea of, "The minister or commissioner shall assign to one of the committees the function of recommending persons to conduct arbitrations under this act," a very important section because the minister, by assigning that very important duty, doesn't tell us in this regulation who should be making up the committee.

Who's qualified to decide who an arbitrator can be? These are the people who are going to be the judges. They're the people the insurers and the injured accident victims are going to have to rely on. Are we going to appoint the party faithful? Is that what we're going to do? Are these appointments going to be vetted before the committee at Queen's Park?

These are very important appointments, and I think that the section, because it assigns this very important duty to the committee, should be much more explicit in determining the type of person we want to be an arbitrator. Are there some qualifications you need to be an arbitrator? Do you have to have any experience being an arbitrator? Do you have to take any courses to become an arbitrator? Should you be a mediator before you're an arbitrator? All of these are very important issues.

Mr Huget: Or vice versa.

Mr Harnick: Or vice versa. But the fact is that the lives of a lot of people are going to be depending on who the arbitrator is going to be.

So those are, very briefly, my introductory remarks dealing with section 3 of the bill, which is section 7 of the Insurance Act. I am dismayed that the item that is in the bill as set out after second reading, which is specifically clause 7(c), "to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations," is absent from the government amendment. Those are my preliminary comments.


Mr Elston: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Although Mr Harnick has done very well in bringing me up to date on this particular debate, can I ask the actual status of what was described as Mr Kwinter's amendment? Has it actually been voted on, or it has been proposed?

Mr Klopp: No.

Mr Elston: It's been proposed and generally accepted, is that it?

The Chair: Yes, it's been proposed, Mr Elston.

Mr Elston: That's the one that's changing "may" to "shall."

The Chair: Exactly, correct.

Mr Owens: Mr Harnick, notwithstanding.

Mr Elston: I was just asking the question.

The Chair: Further debate? Mr Tilson.

Mr Klopp: Didn't he have a question, why clause (c) wasn't in the act?

The Chair: I think they were just opening remarks, Mr Klopp.

Mr Klopp: It sounded like a question. I'd like that question answered. I think really it was a question.

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank my colleague for the opportunity to answer the question, and in fact the issues with respect to arbitration and mediation that Mr Harnick, in what could be characterized as a protracted manner, described and the importance thereof are part of part VI of the act as described in subsection (3).

Mr Klopp: Okay. So it's there, then.

Mr Owens: Absolutely.

Mr Klopp: That's why it was deleted now, because it was already there.

Mr Owens: It's there in a less verbose form, but the functions and the purpose of these committees are to advise the minister or the commissioner, and some of the issues that were raised by Mr Harnick with respect to who, what, where and how around arbitrators and qualifications would be something that a committee, as established under this section, could be requested to look at.

Mr Tilson: With respect to the amendment, which I think is appropriate, I have a question with respect to the amendment and that is, when you look at subsection (4), which says, "The minister or commissioner shall assign to one of the committees the function of recommending persons to conduct arbitrations under this act," the section, as amended, in subsection (1) says, "The minister shall appoint one or more." In other words, there could be just one. So do I assume that the one committee would also take on the role as in subsection (4), and if so, would that create a conflict?

Mr Owens: If one were going to take the view that there was only going to be one committee appointed, then it would be a natural assumption that this function would be part of that committee. However, that is not the view that we subscribe to and in fact the reasoning behind this amendment, as I explained earlier, is to provide the minister and the commissioner with some level of flexibility around the establishment of committees; that's "committees," plural.

Mr Tilson: I don't know whether there's a conflict or not. There may not be. My first observation is that there would be, which leads to my next question to the parliamentary assistant. The initial section, section 3, which essentially replaces section 7 of the act, names just one committee, and now we're going to have at least one and maybe more. Could you explain your rationale for that?

Mr Owens: Again, and not wanting to be repetitious, the amendment is intended to provide flexibility to the minister in the event that he, or at some point down the line she, may decide that more than one committee is necessitated. In the event, and I would say highly unlikely event, that only one committee were to be formed, it is quite appropriate that the functions, as described under subsection 7(3), are clearly articulated.

Mr Tilson: I guess my question really is that at one point in time the minister felt that a committee, an accident benefits advisory committee, could handle all of these functions. Now it's being suggested that the committee may not be able to handle all of these functions and that you will need more than one committee. I guess what I'm asking is, what other committees do you foresee that can't handle -- the committee that you foresaw in the original section?

Mr Owens: I think it's certainly a matter of opinion that we were envisioning that one committee would be necessary to perform all the functions that may be required from time to time. Again, you're certainly entitled to that opinion, but that's not the opinion that we subscribe to.

Mr Tilson: It's not an opinion; I guess it's a concern that I get into, Mr Chairman, through you to Mr Owens, particularly with the comments that are coming out with your government now about the large number of bureaucrats that we have in the system and you're concerned about salaries, you're concerned about increasing the bureaucracy. Here we have a section that's clearly going to increase, if you proceed with what you appear to be going ahead with, the number of bureaucrats who would be necessary to sit on these various committees.

Mrs Caplan: They'll just set up another crown corporation.

Mr Tilson: Well, of course.

Mr Klopp: So you're speaking against the motion, to put "shall" back to "may."

Mr Tilson: Ms Caplan just indicated that they might set up another crown corporation. That may well be a possibility. It alarms me that the intent of the government appears to be to continue with the expansion of the bureaucrats in this place.

Mr Klopp: So you want the word "shall" back to "may"?

Mr Tilson: No. My comment to Mr Klopp is that we started off with one committee and now we're going to have at least one committee and probably a number of committees. I'm just trying to determine some rationale as to why we need a proliferation of people to sit on these committees.

Mr Owens: In fact, these positions would not be full-time, classified positions under the Ontario public service. They would be, as stated, advisory in nature, paid per diems as per other agencies, boards and commissions.

Mr Tilson: But they're still being paid, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: Well, that is the current status at this time and place, however.

Mr Tilson: It just doesn't express the restraint that's being suggested by your government; in fact, it's going in the other direction. I just don't understand that your Treasurer and your Premier stand up in the House almost on a daily basis and talk about how they intend to proceed with restraint, not only in wages but in the number of bureaucrats, and their social contract, and yet here we have a section where clearly -- maybe they'll be paid on a per diem basis, maybe it'll be something else; we don't know because you're not clear on that. But the fact of the matter is that this is a clear intent to expand the number of bureaucrats in this process.

Mr Owens: Again, the characterization of the committee members as bureaucrats is not accurate.

Mr Tilson: I don't mean to say it in a derogatory --

Mr Owens: In terms of fairness, which is a policy that is consistent with this government, and ensuring that people do in fact obtain some level of justice in their interactions with this commission -- I think your colleague pointed out that in his view fairness may be an issue for concern. So in terms of looking at committees, it's certainly not an expansion of the Ontario public service, and there is an ability for the minister, in conjunction with other members of the government, to consult around the size, the number, the per diems that will be paid to this committee. Perhaps if that is a concern of yours, I'm curious to understand why in fact you, through an amendment that you will propose under subsection 7(2) of the act, section 3 of the bill, have proposed an entire motorcycle insurance advisory committee.


Mr Tilson: Do you want to debate my section, Mr Chairman? I'd be pleased to proceed with that now.

Mr Owens: In terms of your point that there's an expansion of the bureaucracy, when they're in fact not bureaucrats, you, on the other hand, are prepared to propose an amendment that is going to create an entire advisory committee.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I'd be pleased to proceed with that.

The Chair: We can debate the PC motion when we get to it.

Mr Owens: Maybe we can move on.

Mr Tilson: I guess my concern is that it's unclear as to the number of persons -- and I'm not saying that in a derogatory fashion either -- the expansion of the civil service, which is a great concern, through this section. Perhaps I can just simply ask a question as to whether you are able to anticipate the number of persons, whether on a per diem basis or whether on a permanent basis, who will be used in this committee or committees.

Mr Owens: I think you asked the minister that question in the House a number of months ago, and the answer that was given --

Mr Tilson: No, that wasn't the question I asked. I'd be pleased to repeat the question I asked.

Mr Owens: You made a comment, and it was your conjecture, after conversations, that there were going to be -- maybe we should get the Hansard so that I don't misspeak the numbers that Mr Tilson quoted.

Mr Tilson: But that had to do with the insurance commission; nothing to do with the committee.

Mr Owens: That's right.

Mr Tilson: That was a quote from Mr Scott; it wasn't me.

Mr Owens: Then in fact it's the minister who will determine the committees and again, in consultation with other areas of the government, will ensure that it's consistent with our policies with respect to per diems and numbers.

Mr Tilson: I think that's why I'm raising the issue, to try and determine what the consistency is with the government when the Premier and the Treasurer say one thing in the House and now we appear to have another section in the bill that says something else.

In any event, I don't appear to be getting anywhere from the parliamentary assistant on this issue, and if I could proceed to another area that --

Mr Wiseman: Are you consistent with your leader on this?

Mr Tilson: I'm sorry?

Mr Wiseman: Are you consistent with your leader on this?

Mr Tilson: Of course; always consistent with my leader.

The Chair: Please continue, Mr Tilson.

Mr Wiseman: Adding new bureaucracies.

The Chair: Order, please.

Mr Tilson: What do you want me to answer? I'll be pleased to answer any questions.

The Chair: Mr Tilson, please.

Mr Tilson: One of the concerns that came out during the hearings was that it became quite apparent that the insurance commission had not been consulted in any way with respect to the implementation of this bill. That became most apparent during the hearings. This section does, indirectly and directly, affect the insurance commission. My question now is whether or not you have, with this amendment or indeed the original amendment, which is section 3, entertained any consultation process with either the Ontario Insurance Commission or the insurance industry.

Mr Owens: Perhaps the member was at a different set of hearings than I was at, but I clearly don't remember that being raised as a point. If the member would like to point out to me in Hansard where the issue of no consultation with the insurance commission was raised, then I'll certainly withdraw my statement.

Mr Tilson: I'd be pleased --

Mr Owens: If I can finish this, in looking to ministry staff, including the assistant deputy minister, she assures me that there was in fact consultation carried out with the insurance commission. Again, in our view, and perhaps not in yours, it would make sense to carry out that kind of consultation as a matter of course, not as a matter of last resort.

Mr Tilson: There was a witness, and I can't recall his name, who appeared before the committee who was a consultant with the insurance commission and who said categorically that there had been no consultation with the --

Mr Owens: And if you read the --

Mr Tilson: Listen, I was courteous enough to listen to you. Would you let me finish?

Mr Owens: Absolutely.

Mr Tilson: The witness indicated that there had been absolutely no consultation on the overall issue of Bill 164 and the Ontario Insurance Commission. That is the information, the facts, that I'm relying on to state that at that time there had been no consultation with the Ontario Insurance Commission on the implementation of Bill 164, and it was for that reason that we asked the question in the House as to having some clarification on Mr Scott's comments that there would be need for at least 100 additional personnel to implement the provisions of Bill 164 in the Ontario Insurance Commission. So that's why I think it's quite relevant to find out at this time whether since that time you have had any consultation with the Ontario Insurance Commission on this whole issue and if you could relate to us what its comments were.

Mr Owens: Just in terms of my understanding and recollection of that witness, I certainly hope you don't advise your clients in this manner where their liberty or their principal residence are at stake, because it's my recollection from that particular witness that, yes, in fact the witness did allege that there in fact were no consultations with the Ontario Insurance Commission. But I further recollect -- and we can certainly dig up the Hansard to verify -- I did ask the witness had he not in fact been in touch with Blair Tully. I believe that the answer was yes and he did meet with Mr Tully on at least two occasions, and his testimony was completely and totally refuted. So if you're relying on this as some kind of a fact that your objections to this amendment turn on, I think you're swimming up against a river of truth in this respect.

Mrs Caplan: Swimming upstream in a river of truth? Is that what --

Mr Owens: Against a river of truth.

Mr Winninger: That means he's sinking fast.

Mr Tilson: What is he thinking? Tell me? I've been trying to figure it out.

Mrs Caplan: What does that mean?

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I don't want to participate in that --

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: No, I haven't finished, Mr Chairman. I have a series of --

The Chair: Mr Elston is waiting to ask questions too, but anyway, carry on, Mr Tilson. You have the floor, Mr Tilson.

Mr Owens: The truth is a very hard concept for you to swallow. I understand that.

The Chair: Mr Owens, order. Mr Tilson, would you please --

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I do have some other comments but, you're quite right, Mr Elston hasn't had a chance this afternoon and I would yield the floor to Mr Elston.

Mr Elston: Thank you very much. It's been some time since I've actually participated in committees extensively. The last time I was involved in the committees, I was in front of the agencies, boards and commissions committee which actually is supposed to look at the qualifications of people who are appointed to committees just like this, and I can tell you it's not quite as satisfactory as some people would circle it out to be. But let me ask, first, a couple of questions.

I understand, firstly, that the "may" in subsection 7(1) is going to be changed to "shall." Although you have addressed the issue of clause 7(c) as it is shown currently in the bill as no longer being required because there are other sections which will govern arbitrations, but I don't quite understand why it is that under subsection 7(3) in your proposed amendment that you have indicated that a committee shall do the following things, all of which are governed by the minister's actually doing something to give them a mandate.

In the original provision of the bill, the minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee and then they are charged to advise, under (a); to make recommendations, under (b); to advise, under (c); to advise, under (d); and to perform such other functions as are prescribed by the regulations. Once they are appointed, they have an obligation to report on the benefits under paragraphs 9 to 10.1 of subsection 121(1).

It seems to me that the parliamentary assistant probably needs to explain to me how it is that, even though there is a decision to move to having at least one committee appointed, the independence of that committee has been removed in a way which would allow only the minister to actually say, "Now, committee members, you go out and report to me on this matter" or other matters that are assigned by the minister or the commissioner. It seems to me that it's quite clear that either the commissioner and the minister must assign or the regulations must prescribe the work to be done by the committee, whereas under the previous mandate, once the committee was involved it had a positive obligation to actually go about looking at how the benefits were affecting the accident victims.


The first edition of that section as it appears in Bill 164 sort of corresponds to the way it was under Bill 68 when we were going through this, because of the tremendous debate, the amount of time that we spent around the issue of whether or not accident victims were going to be routinely and fairly dealt with; and also because there were a number of areas in which, to be quite honest, there was not enough information to indicate just what problems might arise from a brand-new product. The advisory committee was put in place, not at the discretion of the minister, but at the mandate of the Legislative Assembly with the agreement of the minister of the day, who happened to be me, with a determined existence to report specifically on the benefits. That is what, it appears, in the original section 3 of Bill 164, was required there as well.

Under the amendment that's being proposed by the government, however -- and I guess I should just read it very briefly:

"(3) A committee shall,

"(a) advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory accident benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee;" -- not under any other circumstances; just under those parts that are referred --

"(b) perform such other functions as are assigned to the committee by the minister or the commissioner; and

"(c) perform such other functions as are prescribed by the regulations."

It's pretty clear that the final clause (c) of subsection (3) is exactly a repetition of clause (e) under section 7 as it now appears in the act. But it's obviously clear that the regulations can be changed at any time, with the compliance of members of cabinet to the request, so that there may not be in fact anything for the committee to really do under the regulations if the minister so determines that to be the case.

Under clause (b) of subsection (3) of section 7, as it's being proposed to be amended, the committee shall only "perform such other functions as are assigned." It's obvious, to me anyway, that the minister can actually appoint the committee and then not decide to do anything, or the commissioner can be told not to assign any work to this committee, so that there is no ongoing review of accident benefits or other matters which need to be determined for the benefit of accident victims. Under clause (a) of subsection (3), as it's being proposed for amendment, it is only those things that "the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee."

In each of these circumstances, the committee has no separate ability to receive a report on deficiencies in this particular bill, as it had under the current section 7 in Bill 164 or as it currently has under Bill 68 or the OMPP, whichever way you want to describe it.

My view is that the protection of individual members of the public who are accident victims can only be mandated if this committee exists on its own to make a report. I would go one step further: that, as under Bill 68 where there was a requirement that there be a review of the operation of the act after a specified period of time -- by the way, I don't think that report was either good enough or intense enough. I think it was designed not to be because some other things are being done. But I think the idea behind a required report on accident benefits for victims on the operation of the act is absolutely mandatory.

I think the separate existence of this committee, or committees, as it's now observed, is extremely important because, to be quite blunt about it, the minister and the commissioner don't always get into a position where they are receiving all of the information in a fashion that's timely enough for people to update these systems.

Without any question, OMPP has had, I think, fairly good reception, but it is not perfect and there are some areas in which there are about to be some improvements. That is without question. But this particular area, it seems to me, needs to be not so much permissive to the minister and commissioner as it needs to provide the committee with an independent mandate to do its work to make sure that victims are not left unhappily without an increase in their benefits.

If you could for me address those particular issues under subsection (3) of your proposed amendment, then I could move on to the second part of my intervention.

Mr Owens: I would like to thank Mr Elston for his what I'm understanding to be non-partisan admission that Bill 68 certainly needs improvement, and we are endeavouring to do that. In terms of the concerns by which your question is premised --

Mr Elston: I'm sorry, you don't know what it's premised on? The committee shall be appointed and basically there's no work for it to do unless the minister --

Mr Owens: May I finish my comment?

Mr Elston: I thought it was fairly precise.

The Chair: I think maybe there was a misunderstanding, Mr Elston.

Mr Owens: I said the concerns by which your question is premised, just in case you didn't hear that. The concerns on which your question is premised are valid concerns. Is that okay?

Mr Elston: Sure.

Mr Owens: Okay, thank you. I just wanted to make sure we can agree with each other. In terms of how the section is structured, it's our view -- and we are certainly able to be at variance with each other on this -- but it's our view that this section clearly maintains the integrity and the independence that is so required and, agreed, it is very important that independence and integrity are made.

You mentioned the increase of accident benefits, that in many respects there's an automatic indexation that will occur and again, that this was a gap left by Bill 68. So to answer your question, it's our view that this section maintains the integrity, maintains the independence and allows, quite frankly, for the establishment of further committees to review issues as they arise.

Mr Elston: Mr Chair, if I may, that's not my point. The point is not about the independence of the committee, the point is the committees have no function unless the minister asks them to do something, or the commissioner does. Under the previous mandate, once the committee existed it could go about its business to inquire. Here it is quite clear they have no ability to do any work unless it is prescribed by the regulations, which the minister controls; they have no ability to perform other functions unless they are assigned; they have no ability to decide on any matters under the statutory accident benefits, under part VI, unless the minister or commissioner refers it to them. That's the point. I didn't argue that they can't be independent once they did it. It is just that they have no business unless the minister allows them to perform it.


That's not the way it was set up originally. From my point of view, they should be given some ability to be flexible enough, when they hear of a problem, to provide advice to the minister and commissioner on their own wicket. This basically says that the minister controls the activities around the operation of accident benefits and other matters, including if the minister doesn't want any advice on the procedure with respect to arbitration, he need not ask any of these committees to do any of that work and, as a result, this committee doesn't function.

It is not, in my view, acceptable to have it permissive that the minister have these people actually functioning. It is obviously the will of this committee that the minister is not given a permissive section to appoint committees or a committee. It is mandatory that he/she appoint a committee or committees.

Now, to be compliant with that, it seems to me this legislative committee should say -- we should revert, I guess, basically to say, "The committee shall advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory accident benefits under part VI," and stop it there and leave off this part that says only if it's referred to them.

Under (b), "perform such other functions as are assigned," I suppose that's reasonable in some circumstances, but when it is obvious that your decision has been in the amendment to cut down the number of things that they used to do, there should be some other areas of independence, in my view, that allow them to pursue holes or gaps in the proposed changes to this act.

For instance, let me be comparative. Basically there's nothing they can do here. Once they're appointed, there's nothing they can do except if the minister or commissioner says, "Go ahead and do something."

But under the existing scheme, it says: "The minister shall appoint an accident benefits advisory committee":

"(a) to advise the minister and the commissioner on the operation of the regulations...." That is a requirement. Once the committee exists -- and it must exist -- they advise the minister and the commissioner whether or not there is a request for that advice.

"(b) to make recommendations to the commissioner concerning persons qualified to be arbitrators." That is there whether or not the commissioner or others invite the request, because it is seen that the committee first contemplated under section 7, as it now is to be amended under section 3 of Bill 164, that there was sort of an independent review of how matters were being dealt with. So these people could see that there was a problem, they could see that there was an issue at stake and they would go to the commissioner and say: "Do this, Minister, do this. We think this has got to be done."

"(c) to advise the commission concerning procedures to be used during arbitrations." We've already heard a fair bit about that from Mr Harnick. That being as it may, it seems to me that nothing more needs to be said except that the committee, once it existed, was required to advise the commission concerning those procedures. It wasn't at the request of the commission. These people had a mandate to be involved in an ongoing examination. Then you get to (d), which was other matters as they may refer to the committee.

It is, in my view, not the question about its independence but the question that it has no mandate under your amendment, except if the minister gives it one or the commissioner gives it one. That is a real and substantial change from the nature of a committee which is designed or required under this statute and the committee which was established under the previous statute, known as Bill 68, that had an ongoing existence to do and was mandated to do things that made sure that the accident victims' benefits were under continual scrutiny.

That's my point, not that there is a lack of independence. It is in fact that you have told somebody to appoint a committee and then you've said, "Your committee only does what the minister or the commissioner wants it to do." I think that's the difficulty with that operation, and perhaps I can get you turned back to that as an issue as opposed to the issue of independence.

Mr Owens: You still reference the issue of independence and that being hinged to the functionality and duties. Clearly these two areas are not impeded by this clause.

Mrs Caplan: Perhaps I can be helpful, if I could, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: If it's agreeable to Mr Tilson who so kindly yielded the floor.

Mr Tilson: Of course.

Mrs Caplan: The point that Mr Elston is making is a very important one. You stated that the intent of this legislation was where possible to improve on Bill 68. What he's pointed out to you is that this clause, section 3, which amends section 7 of the act, is not only not an improvement but it diminishes a very important aspect of the bill, that is, the scrutiny and advocacy on behalf of accident victims on an ongoing basis by a committee which is independent of the minister or the commissioner, which on its own will and volition can determine what advice to give in a mandated area.

What your amendments have done is remove the ability for them to advocate and scrutinize. While you've maintained their independence, they cannot be self-starters, if you will, and identify areas where improvements are needed and then make that advice to the minister and the commissioner. They can only respond to a request from the minister or the commissioner, and that is a significant departure from the original legislation which gave a guarantee to accident victims of ongoing scrutiny by an independent committee that would advocate on behalf of accident victims.

So this provision not only waters down the original legislation but provides less safeguards for accident victims as far as scrutiny and advocacy. That's the effect of this, and therefore you're not achieving your stated objective of improving; you're doing the exact opposite. That's what Mr Elston is so frustrated about, because it's an issue of accountability within the legislation.

Mr Owens: Again, it's not that I'm not understanding or seeking to evade the issue that you yourself, Mrs Caplan, and Mr Elston raise. We are simply at variance about the effectiveness of the section. In terms of how we view our amendment over Bill 68 is that again it meets our objectives and that --

Mrs Caplan: If you really care about the ability of an independent committee to advise the minister and the commissioner, to advocate on behalf of accident victims and to scrutinize on an ongoing basis on behalf of accident victims how this legislation is performing, to make recommendations to the minister and to the commissioner about important changes which would secure the rights of accident victims to have that form of advocacy which the original legislation, Bill 68, had for them, if you care about those accident victims, then you will leave the provisions as they are in Bill 68 and not tamper with them. That's the point.

If you choose to make this change, what you are doing is saying you don't care about that ongoing accountability and scrutiny and advocacy on behalf of accident victims. Just be clear about that. We care about that and that's why we're pointing it out to you today.

Mr Elston: Can I go about this in just a different way perhaps? The question maybe should be asked of the parliamentary assistant in this way: If, as members of the committee appointed, they receive a letter of grievance about how their accident victims have dealt with them, how do the committee members get to consider that particular matter? Unless, under the current proposed amendment, the minister or commissioner refers that issue to the committee, or the issue is assigned to them or the regulation prescribes it to them, there is no forum in which those committee members can raise the question of grievance raised by accident victims, in fairness, or even by people who are party to a procedure which isn't working well, and I guess that could be an insurance company or it could be a person who is a representative, an agent of someone who is in front of one of the panels that is being established.

Tell me what jurisdiction they have to consider the issue, because currently their only jurisdictions are those which are assigned to them by regulation, by the commissioner or the minister. They have no way of considering anything that comes from anybody else. So answer my question: How do these people review the grievances that come directly to their attention?


Mr Owens: You're making a gross presumption that there is going to be a closed-mindedness and a --

Mrs Caplan: Trust us.

Mr Owens: Well, perhaps that was the way your government functioned, but please don't --

Mr Elston: Steve, don't be goofy.

Mr Owens: I'm not being --

Mr Elston: You were. Listen, I'm putting a case to you which is fairly reasonable. Under the current circumstances it appears under Bill 164 that if a grievance went to a committee member, he/she could take it directly to the committee member and they could examine it because they had the requirement to advise the minister and the commissioner about the operation of part VI or whatever it is. Now, you're making that silly, ridiculous accusation. I'm being serious. Tell me, how under your proposed amendment would those members of that committee examine and then provide anything to anybody if a grievance came directly to them? Answer the question, please.

Mr Owens: As I've answered on more than one occasion and in a serious manner, it is the intent of this section that functions that were previously undertaken by the commission are going to be respected in terms of functionality and independence and that in terms of your point that a commission member is going to be unable to proactively bring forward a matter --

Mr Elston: They can't. It is only those members who may be referred, are assigned by the minister or are prescribed by the regulations.

Mrs Caplan: They're prohibited by this legislation.

Mr Elston: There is a prohibition against them bringing anything that comes to their attention directly to be considered in front of them unless they go someplace else to allow, to get permission to consider it.

Mr Wiseman: Mr Chair, clause 7(3)(a), "a committee shall," where it says, "advise the minister and the commissioner on such matters relating to statutory accident benefits under part VI as the minister or commissioner may refer to the committee," is a very all-encompassing and catch-all phrase that I believe would allow the committee to raise these issues and --

Mr Tilson: No, the question is "may."

Mr Elston: It says only those things that may be referred to them.

Mr Wiseman: No, no. The committee shall advise the minister and it's in that section where you cover --

Mr Elston: No, no. It says only advise the minister on the things he/she may refer to them. It doesn't say they have any independence of existence other than on the items which may be referred to them. Read it.

Mr Wiseman: I disagree with you. The wording is "a committee shall."

Mr Elston: No, the committee shall advise if the minister asks.

Mr Tilson: If there's nothing referred, then they don't have to do anything.

The Chair: If I could have some order here, I'd like to ask Mr Owens if he can -- I know he's made efforts and there may be some disagreement, I guess, among the committee members, but if he could just one more time explain this.

Mr Owens: What I was going to suggest is to have consent to stand this amendment down so that we can maintain the sense of progress that we had up until a short time ago and we'll come back with either a clarification or further information that will hopefully answer the questions that Mr Elston has put forward.

Mr Elston: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. That brings us to consider this amendment, this motion, stood down until some time near in the future. Are there any further amendments to the section?

Mr Elston: I presume the PC amendment --

Mr Klopp: We'd better stand everything down.

Mr Wiseman: Stand the whole thing down.

Mr Elston: Because the next amendment presumably is the PC motion numbered 1A.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I will say that depending on how this section is amended, it may well be that the PC amendment is not necessary.

The Chair: Would you like to then stand that motion down as well until some point when we have some better understanding or better direction from the ministry?

Mr Owens: Let's stand it down, if you're amenable to that.

The Chair: Okay, PC motion 1A, we'll stand that down.

That brings us to section 4 of Bill 164. Any comments or debate? If you would like to take an opportunity to read that, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: Let me for the purposes of the record read:

"4. Subsection 31(1) of the act is repealed and the following substituted:

"(1) Persons who are licensed under this act, officers and agents of an insurer, the chief agent of an insurer that has its head office outside Ontario and other persons engaged in the business of insurance in Ontario shall on request furnish the superintendent or a person designated by the commissioner with full information,

"(a) relating to any contract of insurance issued by an insurer;

"(b) relating to any settlement or adjustment under a contract of insurance; or

"(c) respecting any activities related to the business of insurance."

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Owens, for reading that into the record and refreshing everyone's memory. Any debate or comments on this section?

Mr Owens: Under the current legislation, the commission can only request information from persons licensed under the act: officers, agents and the chief agent of Ontario insurers. This provision under Bill 164 will mean that the commission can also demand information from other persons engaged in the business of insurance.

By way of example, I'd like to cite that the commission will be able to receive information directly from brokers and those registered under the Registered Insurance Brokers Act and who may not be licensed under the act instead of through what currently happens, an intermediary, the registered insurance brokers of Ontario. This in the past has led to a delay in receiving such information and taking any actions that may be required as a result of that information.

The rationale is clearly that this section provides for a more effective collection of information.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. Further comment or debate? Seeing none, is the committee ready for the question? Shall the motion carry? Carried.

That brings us to section 5, if Mr Owens would like to read that into the record, please.

Mr Owens: "5(1) Subsection 33(1) of the act is amended by striking out the portion before clause (a) and substituting the following:

"Service of documents

"(1) Unless otherwise provided in this act or in the rules made under clause 16(1)(a), service of any document for the purpose of a proceeding before the commissioner or superintendent that may result in an order or decision affecting the rights or obligations of a person required to be licensed under this section may be made,"

"(2) Subsections 33(3), (4) and (5) of the act are repealed and the following substituted --

Mr Elston: Excuse me. I think you read, "required to be licensed under this section." I think you probably meant to read "act," right?

Mr Owens: Did I say "section"?

Mr Elston: I think you did.

Mr Owens: Sorry. It's written in front of me, "affecting the rights or obligations of a person required to be licensed under this act may be made,"

"(2) Subsections 33(3), (4) and (5) of the act are repealed and the following substituted:

"Effective date of service

"(3) Service by first-class registered mail under subsection (1) and service at a person's place of residence under subsection (2) is effective on the fifth day after the document is mailed in accordance with subsection (1) or (2)."

The Chair: Any comment or debate?

Mr Owens: By way of explanation, again it's a simplification of procedures and with a clarification that insurers can provide information to clients without having to resort to registered mail.

Mr Tilson: I don't have any objection other than on subsection (3), "person's place of residence." Should that be the last known address or something to that effect as opposed to simply a person's place of residence? That could be anything. Would that challenge the technicality of service? You don't think it would?

Ms Fisher: I beg your pardon. I didn't hear the question. I'm sorry.

Mr Tilson: My question was the section refers to service at a person's place of residence. Many other pieces of legislation refer to the person's last place of residence.

Mr Elston: Last known address.

Mr Tilson: Last known address, and the word "last" is used. Otherwise, the whole process of service could be challenged.


Ms Fisher: I believe if you look at registered mail under subsection (1), it is at a person's place of residence, and if you look at subsection (1), service at a person's place of residence may be made by first-class registered mail, clause (c), at the person's last known place of residence. So I think that's taken into --

Mr Tilson: If you think it's adequate --

Ms Fisher: Yes, I think it's adequate.

Mr Tilson: I have no major concern. I'm just looking at subsection (3), which refers to a person's place of residence, but if you feel that's defined somewhere else, that's fine.

Ms Fisher: I do.

Mr Elston: My question concerning subsection (3) as proposed is one that's more practical in nature. We in the riding of Bruce now have discovered that sometimes it takes as many as seven days for a letter to travel from one town to another, because the mails now are sent out of Bruce county and they go down to Stoney Creek. The wonderful folks of Stoney Creek do a good job, but it takes well over seven days to go from one of my towns, Walkerton, to one of the small hamlets in my area which is no more than 20 miles away. If you propose to do service by mail, five days, it seems to me, is quite restrictive, because before the person practically gets it, a couple of days of the time limitations have already lapsed.

I'm concerned that because of the nature of change in postal service, the way things have started to work now, five days, although I think the standard in most of our statutes, is not, in my view, now reasonable in terms of giving notice. I rather think, because of the way the mails work these days, that we should in fact extend five to some other number of days. Seven, I think, would be probably better. It's just from the standpoint that mail doesn't often get to a small centre in our areas within the five-day prescribed limitation period, and I think it would be better if we gave more time. I think you could get delivery the same or next day from Toronto to London, for instance, or Toronto to Ottawa, but you don't always get it from, let's say, Toronto to Glammis in five days. I wonder if there could be something done about that to make sure people aren't disadvantaged.

The Chair: Not to enter into the debate, but could I just ask, are we all understanding what first-class mail is versus just regular mail? Registered mail versus just first-class mail is a little different. Just as long as everyone understands.

Mr Owens: Understanding the peculiarities of the postal service from place to place and some of the difficulties that may be encountered, the number of days is consistent under the civil rules of procedure under the service of documents. If I can quote:

"Effective date

"Service of document by mail, except under subrule 16.034, is effective on the fifth day after the document is mailed."

So this amendment is in fact consistent with --

Mr Elston: But, Steve, that wasn't my point. I acknowledged that five days is one of the things. I'm just saying the postal service has changed in such a way -- I said that was in fact the case, so why in the world are you answering the question I just admitted to you? I said, can't we make something a little bit different to take into account the practical fact that sometimes we're not getting five-day delivery? That's all. You're basically saying no, I presume.

The Chair: Mr Winninger had a comment on this.

Mr Winninger: I was going to raise the very same point the parliamentary assistant raised.

The Chair: Mr Wiseman had a comment as well.

Mr Wiseman: I think that perhaps the point raised by Mr Elston is worthy of some consideration, given that not only is the mail service not that great, but when you add to it the amount of time it takes to actually handle a registered piece of mail, which is longer than a normal piece of mail, my own personal recommendation at this point would be to consider what Mr Elston is saying. I can attest to the fact that, living in Ajax, the mail goes all the way into Scarborough somewhere and then comes all the way out to the place next door and doesn't really get handled in an expedited fashion. I have some sympathy for Mr Elston's point on this. If it's amenable, I would suggest 10 days.

Mr Owens: Can we just take a 120-second break here?

The Chair: We'll just take a two-minute recess.

Mr Elston: Actually, we're going to have to go and vote anyway.

The Chair: If I could offer some assistance as the Chair, we are going to be back here next Thursday at 10 in the morning, and at that point we could certainly deal with this very expeditiously. I think that would be in the interest of expediency.

Mr Owens: Could I just respond briefly to Mr Elston on a couple of points? We'd like to check with the commission and see what its comfort level is on this. It's certainly not a point of principle of the government on five, seven days, so we'll do that and come back next day with a --

Mr Elston: Could I just say one thing?

Mr Owens: Mr Elston did put questions forward earlier today with respect to the task force, and it's my understanding that Mr Elston did in fact meet with the minister today and discuss issues under both hats that the minister currently holds. In terms of clarification around amendments to the issue with respect to the deductible versus the verbal threshold, by Thursday of next week, if not before, there will be either an announcement of amendments or an announcement that we intend to maintain the status quo.

In terms of the task force, there clearly was documentation delivered on the results of the task force and it's freely available to your offices and certainly should have been delivered in some manner to your offices last week.

The Chair: Thank you. This committee stands adjourned until 10 o'clock, Thursday next.

The committee adjourned at 1758.