Thursday 12 December 1991

Rent Control Act 1991, Bill 121 / Loi de 1991 sur le contrôle des loyers, projet de loi 121

Subcommittee report


Chair: Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L)

Vice-Chair: McClelland, Carman (Brampton North L)

Abel, Donald (Wentworth North NDP)

Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South NDP)

Drainville, Dennis (Victoria-Haliburton NDP)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview NDP)

Marchese, Rosario (Fort York NDP)

Murdoch, Bill (Grey PC)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Scott, Ian G. (St George-St. David L)

Turnbull, David (York Mills PC)


Duignan, Noel (Halton North NDP) for Mr Bisson

Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre NDP) for Ms Harrington

Huget, Bob (Sarnia NDP) for Mr Marchese

Lessard, Wayne (Windsor-Walkerville NDP) for Mr Marchese

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC) for Mr B. Murdoch

Winninger, David (London South NDP) for Mr Drainville

Clerk: Deller, Deborah


Klein, Susan, Legislative Counsel

Richmond, Jerry, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1009 in room 151.


Resuming consideration of Bill 121, An Act to revise the Law related to Residential Rent Regulation / Projet de loi 121, Loi révisant les lois relatives à la réglementation des loyers d'habitation.

The Chair: The committee on general government will come to order. The business of the committee is to conduct a clause-by-clause review of Bill 121. I believe we are at a point where we are discussing a Liberal amendment to add section 12.1.

Ms Poole: We had started the discussion of section 12.1 in the last session and I did not have too many more comments to make on it.

Section 12.1 relates to the new complexes that are exempt from most of the provisions of this rent review legislation. They are exempt except for things such as having to give proper notice to tenants of rent increases, and they are exempt for a five-year period.

The Liberal motion had two parts. An earlier part that was discussed was to extend the exemption to a 10-year period to ensure that new buildings would go up, because many landlords and financial institutions were saying that the five-year exemption was not sufficient and that no one would build. The second part of it was to address the tenant concern that there is no capital reserve fund for residential units. It was our feeling that while it is extremely difficult to put a capital reserve fund into the existing system, there should be an opportunity to put it in for new buildings.

This particular amendment would address that concern and create a capital reserve fund for new buildings. The landlord would deposit 2% of the rents into this account every year and once the building came back into the rent review system the landlord would be entitled to spend that money on the upkeep of the building and on major capital repairs.

Just as we closed the previous day, Mrs Marland asked me why the Liberals would bring this type of amendment, which would hamstring landlords even more as far as being able to make a going concern of their business is concerned. I had begun to explain to Mrs Marland that in this scenario the landlord has the prerogative to set his or her rents at a rate at the very beginning of the process and that if the landlord knows this is part of the parcel he will be expected to put into a capital reserve fund, then that should of course be built into the landlord's calculation. From a business point of view, our feeling is that the landlord would know, prior to going into this whole scenario, what the expectations are and set the rents accordingly.

I would be most interested in finding out from the minister whether the government will be supporting this amendment, because we all know that the amendment will have great difficulty in carrying without government support.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We will not be supporting this amendment, and perhaps I could just speak to why.

The subject of how to ensure there is an adequate setting aside of moneys and an adequate devotion of moneys by landlords in Ontario to the basic maintenance of their buildings, including some of the heavy repair and renovation work that needs to be done in a large segment of existing building structures, is a very important question. I think, on the whole, the way to describe our position on that is to say that we are not prepared at this time to put forward measures to regulate the whole question of setting aside capital amounts and ensuring there is a special fund available.

It is one that a lot of attention has been paid to, principally by tenant organizations, and the government has taken the suggestions made by tenant organizations very seriously. We simply are not prepared at this point to put forward proposals to deal with it. That being the case, it would not advance our purposes under this legislation to try to attach measures that would affect the building up of capital accounts in this way for new buildings. It would unbalance the system we are getting out in the legislation, because we are trying to provide within the system that new buildings will not be affected by measures under this legislation.

It is for that reason that we are not prepared at this stage to support this amendment. The purpose of allowing a five-year exemption from the legislation for new buildings is, as we have explained before, to try to accommodate people who are getting into being landlords for the first time, to make sure they have the flexibility to adjust rents over a period of time so they can find what is a practical level of rents to be put into operation once that exemption is finished under this legislation. If we are going to put restrictions on that, it is going to remove the element of flexibility we wish to provide to new building operators.

Ms Poole: I am extremely disappointed to find out that the government will not be supporting this amendment. They talk about accommodation, and the minister referred to accommodating landlords who want to get into the business. By rejecting both portions of the Liberal amendment by saying you will not extend the exemption for a sufficient time to allow the landlord to actually get to the break-even point is going to discourage people from building, but what you have also done by rejecting this amendment is to say that in those few cases where they are building, tenants will not be assured that a capital reserve fund is set up.

As I say, I can understand why the government would not want to go the extra step and set up a province-wide capital reserve fund for existing buildings. It is extremely problematic. It would certainly require a great deal of study to get the right mechanism to do that and there is concern on all parts whether it could really work. But with new complexes, the same as with condominium legislation where they have a capital reserve fund, I fail to see why the government is not prepared to proceed.

I am quite happy to table this particular amendment until such time as the government has worked out one that is satisfactory to meet its needs in the creation of a capital reserve fund. But to just arbitrarily and out of hand say they are not going to proceed with it, when I think it is a very modest request on the part of tenants -- it would set the principle for new buildings that we want to make sure that ongoing maintenance and major capital repairs are put in as they go. I just find it incomprehensible that a government that claims to represent tenants and tenants' interests would reject this amendment, which is a key component of what they are asking for. It just boggles my mind.

The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, is it the pleasure of the committee that the Liberal amendment to section 12 carry?

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, could I have a recorded vote?

The committee divided on Ms Poole's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:

Ayes -- 2

Poole, Turnbull.

Nays -- 5

Abel, Duignan, Gigantes, Harrington, Marchese.

Section 13:

The Chair: Is there discussion, amendments, questions?

Mr Turnbull: I move that subsection 13(3) be amended by striking out "14, 15, 16, 17 or 18" in the second line and substituting "14, 14.1, 15, 16, 17, 17.1 or 18".


The Chair: Do you wish to speak to that?

Mr Turnbull: I am sorry. You will appreciate, Mr Chairman, that I have not been in this committee for the last few weeks and I am just sitting in today. I have just noticed a note that we do not need this for some reason. Let's move on with the Liberal amendments.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I would strongly advocate in the same terms that we do need it.

The Chair: That clarifies everything.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If he wants to get more specific, so do I.

Mr Turnbull: I am having great difficulty. I do not think this loudspeaker is working properly.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Oh, yes, we hear you.

Mr Turnbull: No, the loudspeaker, not the microphone.

The Chair: He is having trouble hearing us. We will give him a minute.

Mr Turnbull: It is obviously not necessary.

The Chair: The arguments have been compelling on both sides.

Mr Turnbull: I thought so. I was absolutely impressed.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is it. I think we are ready for a vote.

Mr Turnbull: There is a Liberal amendment.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, but you put yours first.

Mr Turnbull: No, I have withdrawn it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Oh, my, that changes everything.

The Chair: Then we have a Liberal motion.

Mr McClelland: I move that subsection 13(3) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be amended by inserting after "14" in the second line "14.1."

It is a tidying up clerical motion.

The Chair: The clerk informs me, Mr McClelland, that we will have quite a difficulty dealing with this amendment until the Liberal amendment to add section 14.1 is dealt with.

Mr McClelland: Then let's stand it down.

The Chair: Would we like to stand down section 13 and deal with section 14? Do we have unanimous consent?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Are we standing down all of section 13? There is a government amendment, but that is fine. There is one on subsection 13(7) too.

The Chair: Do you want to deal with those before we go to section 14 or do section 14 and come back to subsection 13(3)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chairman, I am going to put it to you, if I could, and to the committee, that we should deal with all of section 13 except 13(3), which has been the subject of the amendment related to section 14. Otherwise, by the time we get to section 14, we will not know where we are at. I believe we will understand the amendment to 13(3) more clearly once we get to 14. However, I think it is pretty essential that we deal with the rest of 13. As you will note, this is the section that sets out the eligible grounds for an application for an above-guideline increase. I think we have to fix that in our minds and in our decision-making before we move to section 14, so I would suggest we pass subsections 13(1) and 13(2), set aside subsection 13(3), as that is the subject of two amendments, and then move into subsection 13(4) and so on.

The Chair: I think we could have agreement to do that. Is it the pleasure of the committee that subsection 13(1) carry? Carried. Subsection 13(2), carried? Carried.

Hon Ms Gigantes: So we stand aside subsection 13(3) and we move to subsection 13 (4.1).

The Chair: Yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You will notice that we have proposed an amended section, as printed. It sets out the reasons for the rejection of an application. I think it is fairly straightforward. Committee members may have comments or questions, but it seems to me it is fairly straightforward.

The Chair: Questions, comments or amendments to subsection 13(4.1)? I will give members a little bit of time.

Mr Turnbull: I have a question. Do I understand this correctly, that if there have been increases with respect to previous years that are being carried forward, then that will in some way limit the increases the landlord can get with respect to those years for such things as taxes and maintenance costs?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No. What it does mean is that where there is a carry-forward, the 2% within the guideline, which is an automatic 2% in most cases where the landlord is applying only the guideline amount as an increase, is included in the amount that has to be considered as an eligible capital expense.

Mr Turnbull: I am sorry; I am having terrible difficulty hearing today.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Part of it is my problem. I am very sorry; I have a cold; my apologies.

The Chair: Mr Turnbull, if you would come one place this way, maybe it would help.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will try and speak up a bit too.

The Chair: You can tell it is Thursday morning.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am being informed, Mr Turnbull, that what I have just said is incorrect, that in fact what you are identifying is correct, which is that the effect of what we are saying in this section is that there would be no room for an application for an extraordinary increase once the landlord has an effective application of a roll-through. That is the maximum amount. In other words, if the guideline amount is 6% and in the second year of a roll-through the landlord has approved another 3%, there would not be any room in that second year. The landlord would not be eligible to apply for an extraordinary increase related to taxes or utilities.


Mr Turnbull: Here is the great problem, and I speak with some knowledge of the property industry. If you have a limit which includes taxes and any other costs -- hydro, things that are completely outside the control of the landlord -- if he is to undertake some repairs to the building in a given year and he is going to spread them over the number of years that are allowed for the carry-forward, he has absolutely no control over hydro increases and tax increases. You may be aware that there is a proposal that market value reassessment might be imposed within Metro. In some cases, this will result in large increases in tax. Hopefully, in other places it may decrease the taxes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It will principally decrease.

Mr Turnbull: Nevertheless, the potential exists for large increases. This is totally outside the control of the landlord. If the landlord has undertaken repairs, he is being punished by being told: "No, you're a big, bad landlord. You have undertaken those repairs and you've carried it forward. Therefore, we're going to disallow you the extraordinary increase even though your taxes and your hydro are going up," both of which are areas that are directly controlled by government. It seems highly unfair to me.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Could I suggest that committee members take a look at subsection 14(2), which is what we will be relating subsection 13(3) to as far as the member's question is concerned. Subsection 14(2) describes the situation --

Mr Turnbull: You will appreciate I have not sat on this committee for a few weeks, so this is a reprinted version now?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, it is. It is subsection 14(2). Do you have the one with the little arrows on it?

Mr Turnbull: Yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If you look at subsection 14(2), we have made provision within operating costs -- not within capital costs, but within operating costs -- for an application by a landlord where there is an extraordinary increase, as we have where there is an extraordinary decrease, which would, I will say as an aside, be the more likely case in the scenario where we have market value reassessment that affects rental properties. What we would be looking at there, and we have tried to make provision for it in this bill, is the case where in Metropolitan Toronto, if market value reassessment were to come into effect, we would see, as we saw in other cities when market value reassessment was put in effect, that rental properties would experience a decrease in assessment.

But leave that aside. What we look at when we look at an extraordinary increase in operating costs for those itemized matters -- namely, municipal taxes, hydro, water and heating -- is an increase which is at least 50% more than the percentage set out for that particular element within the guideline. The guideline, as you will recollect, is based on a survey of actual operating costs. It is put together by looking at a rolling average over the last three years. It tends to have a lag reflection, but a reflection nevertheless, of real costs in those operating categories. When we talk, as we do in subsection 13(3), about the capital applications by a landlord, we are talking about a different section of the guideline. We are not talking about operating costs there.

Mr Turnbull: Are you saying it will not affect the cap, then?

Hon Ms Gigantes: What subsection 13(3) does say, as you have accurately identified, is that where the landlord has successfully made an application for an above-guideline increase due to capital expenditures and there is a roll-through -- there is the year for which the application is made, there is the first-year roll-through and a second-year roll-through -- even if under subsection 14(2) there is an above-50% increase compared to the costs that are within the inflationary and operating section of the guideline, which is a reflection of real costs of operation, during all three years the landlord will not be able to make an application under subsection 14(2) for what we call extraordinary operating cost increases during the period when the landlord has applied for and got up to the 3% cap on capital applications.

We think that is a fair balance, first of all, because the subsection 14(2) extraordinary costs reflect real costs. Anything that is an application under subsection 14(2) for an extraordinary cost has to be 50% above what is a rolling average of the last three years' real costs of landlords in Ontario. So it really is quite extraordinary, and there is already an operating cost element within the guideline that reflects those increases on an average across Ontario.

You are looking at a very extraordinary case in subsection 14(2). The landlord is already getting 3% for operating costs in any case under the guideline. That is a given, at least in the situation now. It is more than 3%; it is close to 4% right now, because our total guideline will be 6% next year.

We feel there is a balance there. In most cases where the landlord has made the application and has got a roll-through up to the 3% above guideline max, that is where this legislation is going to cap it.

Mr Turnbull: I have three problems with that. It has been asserted that the expense component is not an accurate reflection of apartment buildings at the low end of the scale. The average is distorted by the fact that if you have buildings that have been heavily renovated and have had their systems upgraded in the sense of more energy-efficient windows, extra insulation and maybe outsulation put on, new furnaces, those buildings which contribute their statistics to the guideline tend to drag down the amount, whereas the older buildings which are in need of upgrading have much higher operating costs. By taking an average, what we do is distort it. It is like saying the average person in this world, and we know there are about 50% women and 50% men. We really have buildings that can survive quite well on these guidelines and there are others that will do very badly.

The most pressing need is to make sure we have maintenance of the buildings that are in poorer shape. These buildings are often the ones that are in the most difficulty with this kind of approach. That is a problem I have, the fact that the guidelines do not accurately address that. I have to say that the increase in hydro this year is an extraordinary amount and that is something directly within the public utility's control, notwithstanding the fact that the Ontario government has control over this public utility. You are not reflecting that and you are waiting for this roll-through, this rolling average that only slowly reflects itself in reality. If somebody is losing money on a building, you are just going to drive them over the precipice with this kind of approach.


Ms Poole: I apologize for not being here at the beginning of the discussion, since I was speaking in the House. I have a question of clarification for the minister or for Ms Richardson. In the event that a landlord does capital repairs and there is a carry-forward allowed, and the landlord in the meantime, after the order has been given, has extraordinary operating increases that would result in a 3% increase, if the landlord chooses to take that 3% increase, would it be possible to delay the carry-forward for a subsequent year, the capital component?

Hon Ms Gigantes: What would be the purpose?

Ms Poole: The purpose is that if a landlord goes ahead and puts an additional mortgage on the building, obtains financing to do capital repairs and expects that he or she will be allowed a 3% increase over, say, the three-year period, and then in the middle year of that, once the order had been originally given, the landlord has significant extraordinary cost increases that would be over 50% --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Applicable under subsection 14(2).

Ms Poole: Right, applicable under subsection 14(2) -- then the landlord is caught between a rock and a hard place. They cannot claim the extraordinary operating plus get the capital expenditures provision, the carry-forward for that year, yet the landlords have based their financial plan on the fact that they would be able to recoup a certain amount in rents over the three-year period for the capital expenditure they put into the building.

What I am asking is, if they have an extraordinary operating increase after there has been an increase awarded for capital expenditures, according to this provision would the landlord still have the capability of delaying that carry-forward for the capital expenditures to a further year?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, the landlord has to make a choice about the capital expenditure and the eligibility of that expenditure. Once the landlord has received approval of an increase up to 3% on the year of application, which can be further rolled through, or an increase of 3% for the second year, and a further roll-through for an increase of 3% on the third year, the landlord is going to have to live within that. It is the purpose of this legislation to limit all increases above guideline to 3% in any given year.

Ms Poole: I certainly understand that intention because the government has been quite firm about it from the beginning. I am not saying, can they add the 3% on to the 3%? I am aware --

Hon Ms Gigantes: You are asking for another year of roll-through.

Ms Poole: No, I am not asking for another year. They get two years of roll-through but it may not be in the next year.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No.

Ms Poole: Its effect is going to be on the capital expenditure side. The landlords are saying: "First of all, we're getting 60-cent dollars on it if we do a capital expenditure as opposed to if we don't. If I do a capital expenditure, then I won't get the 2% that's allowed in the guideline for capital expenditures."

Hon Ms Gigantes: No. The 2% is there. It just has to be justified.

Ms Poole: It has to be justified.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Normally it is not justified. Where there is an application for up to 3% which is approved, it has to be justified.

Ms Poole: But it has the same force and effect, because the landlord, to get the 3% increase in the capital expenditures, has to justify that he or she has spent the 2% on capital expenditures, which somebody who does not apply for any capital expenditure increases does not have to justify, right?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Correct.

Ms Poole: You only have to justify it if you go. The landlord has to spend that 2% plus the 3% to get the 3%. The person who does not do any capital expenditure does not have to justify anything. They do not have to spend the 2% on capital expenditures.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You've got it.

Ms Poole: The force and effect of this is that landlords feel they are getting 60-cent dollars over and above what they would get if they did not claim for anything, because they automatically get the 2% if they do not do it, so they honestly feel they are going to get back 60-cent dollars.

Hon Ms Gigantes: They may honestly feel that, but that is not the honest situation because the money is there to be spent on capital.

Ms Poole: It has the same force and effect. If you look at a person who is doing capital and you look at a person who is not doing capital, you will find that the person who is not doing any capital can spend that 2% on profit or whatever that person's little heart desires.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, there is no profit in there. You proved that last week.

Ms Poole: I said they can spend it. But the effect of this is it is going to be one more nail in the coffin. It is going to be one more reason why a landlord would not do the capital expenditures, and that defeats the whole purpose. If you say you are a tenant advocate and you want to protect tenants' rights, then you have to make sure our buildings are not going to fall down. You have to make sure the capital expenditures are done.

If it is economically impossible to recoup their money -- they cannot get the financing for it because the financing company says, "You're not going to generate the rents back to pay for it." But then you have the second kicker that if they have an unplanned for, unaccounted for, extraordinary operating cost -- with the way taxes and hydro rates and all these things are going up, it is quite likely -- then you are saying to that landlord, "We don't care if you had a financial plan over the three years, that this was how you were going to recoup a certain percentage of what you put into capital."

They are going to say: "We don't care. We can't plan. I don't know what the next year is going to bring, and if you can't give me certainty that I have enough money to run my building, to do these capital repairs and to pay for the extraordinary operating, then I am sorry, lady, I'm just not going to do it." That is what they are going to say to you as minister. That is going to defeat the purpose.

With our aging housing stock we have to have the capital repairs done. I do not think anybody, including the members of the government, has argued against that. They have said consistently, "Yes, we do need the repairs done." Yet this amendment, in effect, will ensure that they will not get done. I am not suggesting you toy with your cap, which you have set as sacrosanct and you are not going to touch. What I am saying is you should allow the landlord the ability to roll that amount that he or she would have received for the capital over into a subsequent year. They are still going to get the total three years for capital, but it may not be year one, two and three, it may be year one, three and four, if you see what I mean.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do see what you mean.

Ms Poole: That is the problem I have with this amendment. I think it is going to have ramifications far beyond what you originally thought.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Whose amendment are you speaking to?

Ms Poole: I am speaking to the government amendment.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is not what we are dealing with, is it?

The Chair: We are dealing with subsection 13(4.1).

Hon Ms Gigantes: Pardon me. I got confused.

Mr Turnbull: All of this bill is confused.

Ms Poole: For a moment I thought I was in another time warp or something, saying, "Don't tell me I'm arguing an amendment that doesn't exist." Yes, I am arguing the government amendment, but I am saying that what you meant to do with this amendment is to ensure there is not an amount above the cap in any one given year. You have said that has been your principle all the way along, and I can understand that. What I cannot understand is how there is no provision made to prevent the very scenario I just mentioned from occurring, that the landlords simply will not do the capital repairs if they have no security, if they have no guarantee they are going to get the money back. They have to pay back those loans.

The bank is not going to say: "Oh, too bad, you got extraordinary operating this year, and we know you are not going to get the revenues you planned to pay off the capital with, but don't worry about it. We are in this business to be philanthropists, so we don't mind. Just go ahead with what you are doing and we will understand. We will extend your loan for an extra year without penalizing you and not charge you extra interest. There is no problem."

That is not the way it works. The way it works is that financial institutions will only give the money if they can be assured that the money is going to be paid back. The landlords will not spend money on the capital unless the landlords can be assured they are going to recoup, if not all, at least a significant proportion of their costs. By a back door, what this amendment is going to do is ensure that landlords do not make the decision to spend money on their buildings.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I believe that financial institutions and landlords, looking at subsection 14(2), would recognize that there are few cases in which there might be the kind of constrictions that the member has raised as a possibility, an ongoing kind of ethos in which everybody is so paralysed by the fact that within the roll-through period a landlord has to justify every cent allocated under the guideline and above the guideline for capital, that nothing is going to be built in Ontario ever again in rental property. I think this is such an extreme and outlandish proposal. I find it quite ridiculous.


We have said certainty is not only required for landlords in Ontario; there is also a certain social contract with tenants in Ontario implied by this legislation. We have made accommodation on the basis of applications by landlords before this committee saying that a one-year roll-through, for example for large buildings with their capital needs, is not enough. We have extended the period for roll-through to two years, which means that for three years in a row it is possible under this legislation that tenants in any particular building may be asked to pay up to 3% above guideline. As you know from looking at the projections of what the current guideline would give us, given the economic projections and the inflation projections that we have assumed in the kind of scenarios we looked at last week, these are substantial rent increases we are talking about.

Now we have the proposal that we not only allow for an extra year of roll-through for large buildings, where we accept there may be need for repairs that will extend beyond two years of effective rent increase above guideline, but what is also being requested is that once a landlord has received approval for three years of above-guideline increase for a particular capital undertaking, that landlord, if there is a very extraordinary situation -- in which, for example, municipal taxes in year X, which are included in the year X minus one, X minus two, three-year averaging which goes into the guideline, in year X plus one are 50% above what that average would give -- shall have the right to say, "Well, I'm going to shift all this above guideline roll-through to another year so that I can make an application under subsection 14(2) for extraordinary operating -- not capital -- operating costs."

What you are saying is you want to provide enough flexibility for landlords who have approval for up to three years of above-guideline increases of up to 3% in each year to decide which year they are going to use some of the capital within guideline for operating or be able to apply for extra moneys under subsection 14(2). You want to have the situation where there can be an application in the middle of a decision that has not yet been effected in terms of the tenants.

The tenants may have been told that for the next three years they are going to have to pay up to 3% above guideline. Suddenly in year two, you want to allow the landlord to come back in, make another application, and say: "In year two, what I am experiencing is 50% above the average of the last three years of average tax increases. I am going to stop everything about that decision that has been made and that tenants understand and are paying for. We will delay the next two years as far as the above-guideline increase is concerned, and we are going into a new process here. I am going to make a new application under subsection 14(2)."

Administratively, it is just a nightmare if there were as many cases as you suggest, which I disbelieve. But if you were right, administratively, it would be a nightmare. If you are wrong, we are setting up a incredibly complex and uncertain situation for everyone.

I also feel we have made a balanced decision about how we are approaching this and have provided landlords with an extra year of grant roll-through. They can make the decision about the pace at which they undertake capital refurbishings in their building and the pace at which they make applications under this legislation. If they are going for that whole big application which has up to a three-year roll-through, that is a business decision landlords make. They look at the projections for utilities and decide whether the rolling average of the last three years is going to be able to meet their needs under the operating part of the guideline.

They make those decisions. Nobody has forced them to go into the business. They are in the business and they make business decisions. I think the framework we are providing in this legislation around this particular question for the making of business decisions is really quite practical and fair. I suggest to you it is going to work quite nicely.

Mr McClelland: I just want to comment briefly with respect to some of the issues you bring forward with respect to the suggestions and the comments made by Ms Poole.

You mention the concept of a social contract. Surely it is a closed loop. I would argue very fundamentally that part and parcel of the fulfilment of that social contract is an element of certainty for people in business. After all, most landlords are in business and they are making, as you said quite well, business decisions based on projections. The point raised by Mr Turnbull I think is this: To the extent a person makes those decisions based on information available to him and in the context of the climate of the day, your theory holds. To the extent that I would accept your theory -- I think you and I recognize that I would have a different point of view -- I accept it on the basis of the argument you put forward, and that is all well and good.

When something else is introduced from outside the loop -- of financing, of the contract that wants to be established in terms of providing the housing stock and the fulfilment of that -- within the context of business decisions, there is an external element that comes in that is unpredictable, that is in all reasonable respects unforeseen.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is business life.

Mr McClelland: It is business life. There is a difference, though. When a government -- your government, to say it very plainly -- says, "We're prepared to change rules halfway through the game, after the fact, perhaps another level of government," that quite frankly is not life in terms of fairness. I think what Mr Turnbull and Ms Poole are saying is that there ought to be some flexibility afforded when what people are faced with in the normal course of a business decision is totally unforeseen and unexpected.

Yes, there are things that happen in business that are unforeseen and unexpected. Yes, there are crashes. Yes, there are international events that affect the markets and so on. When there is a certain set of rules established and expectations upon which businessmen and women make decisions and an outside party if you will, government particularly, changes the rules, changes the mix part way through, surely there ought to be a mechanism -- apart from the complexities that you argue and that I would argue they are not all that complex -- by which that can be addressed, so adjustments can be made to redress the imbalance and the element of unfairness. I think that is what my friends are asking for. To me it seems a totally reasonable request for them to ask for the opportunity to revisit an issue when there is something imposed from without that loop.


Mr Turnbull: I want to revisit what I said before. I am going to preface it by saying to the minister that when the Premier goes around the province and around the world suggesting that your government wants to encourage business and private enterprise in this province, I think you do him and you do your government a disservice by making statements as you did, "Nobody has forced them to go into the business."

The people went into the business with a set of ground rules that you have fundamentally changed. When you have significant cost factors within the control of government and agencies of government that are driving the costs of operating a business and the government says, "We are not going to allow you to recoup that," then business has to take a long hard look at whether they want to invest in this province. I can tell you, Minister, that I had a very long meeting yesterday evening with two very senior German businesspeople, people who are very influential. I put to them the fact that you are suggesting you would like to somehow impose the German labour model. There was a great deal of scorn for this government's proposal for amendments to the labour law and to suggest that you are somehow trying to --

The Chair: Mr Turnbull, maybe we could direct the conversation more directly to the subject.

Mr Turnbull: This very clause disallows anybody who has undertaken repairs and has applied for an extraordinary increase, when agencies of government put up the cost of hydro, it is proposed, probably by some 44% over the three- or four-year period, and we know that next year the GST will be an added cost.


Mr Turnbull: The minister is saying "No." Are you saying that Hydro is not going to go up by 44% and the GST will not be an applicable cost next year? Is that why you are nodding your head?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will wait until your comments are finished.

Mr Turnbull: You are nodding your head and I would like to address that immediately. You are saying it is not true. These are costs.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will try and respond briefly on this. The GST was added to the cost which landlords have been paying during 1991, as you are aware, so the GST is not added next year. In fact, what happens next year, as the GST figures get folded into the guideline, the whole guideline moves up as a result of the GST, which is quite the opposite from what you are saying. There will be no extra amount because of the GST. In fact, there will be an extra allowance for landlords within the guideline because the GST will get reflected for the first time in the guideline for next year.

Mr Turnbull: It is a three-year moving average. Do not tell me that there is going to be adequate reflection of hydro increases, GST and, I emphasize, also market value, if it comes in, in the guidelines at the time people need it. Businesses cannot front that money because a lot of them are not making any money. Yes, they went into it with their eyes open, knowing there was the risk of profit or loss, but they did not expect a government to be so interventionist as this one and to disallow the ability to pass through costs which are generated by governments.

There is no doubt about it. You were not at the hearings, Minister, but it was very clear from all the landlords' groups that they were not adequately able, with the rolling cost average and the guidelines, to reflect the current cost of operating their buildings. Over and over again, we heard that assertion. Are you telling these people who made presentations to us that they are liars?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Are we prepared to vote?

The Chair: No, Ms Poole has a comment.

Mr Turnbull: Do I take it that you are not prepared to answer.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do find it kind of offensive to have to answer the kind of questions you posed at the end, Mr Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull: You may find it offensive, but it is an important question that people need answered.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We do disagree, you and I, and in fact the parties we represent, on the nature of this legislation. You do not believe we should have the legislation; I do.

Mr Turnbull: I asked you a question. I am not talking about the differences in philosophical base between the NDP and the Conservative Party; I am asking you about the cost factors which are not reflected.

Hon Ms Gigantes: When you look at the business of rental accommodation and it is, among other things, a business, there are some people who will do the business well and there are some people who will have difficulty doing the business well.

Mr Turnbull: Why is that, Minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Some people make choices which turn out to be good business choices. You would be better placed, perhaps, than I to explain it because you claim better expertise in this. This government does not look upon this legislation as a method of ensuring that every landlord in Ontario is going to have what that landlord might consider a satisfactory profit. If you take the point of view that the legislation should provide that, then you have taken a point of view we do not share.

Mr Turnbull: That is not at all what I represented. I was saying that when you have costs, and if you are losing money, you are exacerbating the situation. We are not suggesting you give them a guarantee. God forbid that anybody would ever suggest I would propose anybody should get a guaranteed profit. People who go into business take normal commercial risks, and it is very healthy, I would suggest, for business to do this. But when you have interventionist governments that are essentially allowing their agencies to increase costs, like 44% for hydro, and you have a rolling average that does not reflect it at the time of the cost increase, not until some time in the future, then the fact that you are driving these people under is your responsibility as a government. There can be no doubt about it. You have the control over that crown agency that is increasing the cost of hydro.

The municipalities, which potentially will bring in market value assessment and increase taxes in some areas, are creatures of the province. This is how they are set up. This is the whole legal structure. They are creatures of the province and you tell me it is just tough, that nobody forced them to go into business. That is not a good enough answer.

Ms Poole: Is the minister going to respond or would you like me to make my comments?

The Chair: You have the floor, Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: I would like to respond to a number of comments the minister made. First, she was going on about how nothing will be built ever again in the province, that this was the charge that was being levelled. Perhaps it would help the minister if I clarified once again that we are not talking about building in this section; we are talking about repairing, restoring, renovating and doing necessary capital repairs. That was the reference we made when we were talking about it and that was our concern. We were not talking about new building.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, nor did I mean to suggest you were. I used "building" in a very loose way to imply construction, renovation and so on. Forgive me if I was not explicit enough on that.

Ms Poole: Thank you for that clarification. The second point was that the minister said the way this has been drafted was to ensure certainty for tenants. I beg to disagree, because I think what creates certainty for the tenants is the 3% cap. What I am proposing would not affect the 3% cap in any given year. If I was suggesting to the minister that it be added on, then perhaps she would have a valid point that it creates uncertainty for tenants.

She also mentioned that we wanted an extra year of rollover. Again, it misses the point. There is no extra year of rollover. The rollovers would be the same the landlord would be entitled to that the current legislation is proposing. It still says that the landlord would have the first year of returns on the rents because of capital expenditure and that there be two additional years where there would be a rollover of the costs.

We are not saying there would be an extra year of rollover; we are just asking if it is really fair to eliminate a year of rollover, particularly when the landlord cannot control those extraordinary operating costs. Do not forget that the extraordinary operating costs we are talking about are over and above what is reflected in the guideline. Talking about the guideline in this regard just confuses the issue. We are talking about when there is an application for extraordinary operating over and above the guideline, and there are specific criteria that have to be met.


That was the other comment I wanted to make. The minister used terminology such as, "The landlord may choose," and, "The landlord may make a decision." These decisions are beyond the landlord's control. The only decision the landlord can honestly make is whether he or she will do capital repairs. My point is that you are taking that choice away, that you are taking the choice away from tenants who want to live in a building fit for human habitation by saying, "We are going to put in one more restriction." That will mean a landlord will not choose to do capital repairs. The landlord will choose the certainty of saying, "I know hydro's going up significantly and I know that if market value assessment comes in in the city of Toronto, we are going to have major tax implications," or if they know the Ministry of Revenue has taken their building under review because they did capital repairs six or seven years ago.

This was the catch-22 situation we were in: The landlord would do capital repairs. The Ministry of Revenue would go in and there would be a rent increase because of it. The Ministry of Revenue would say, "Your rents have increased because you did the capital repairs, therefore we are going to increase your taxes." Then the tenants were getting a double whammy, first the increase for the capital repairs and then the increase for the taxes. What I am saying now is that the current legislation does not make it possible for that to happen, and that is very good for tenants in many ways. This current amendment is going to make it impossible for the capital repairs to be done. I should not say "impossible"; I should say "make it extremely difficult."

There are still landlords, I am sure, who will do capital repairs, particularly if they have owned the buildings for an extensive period of time and do not have significant mortgaging costs. Then there is an allowance within the existing rents that the landlord could put money into the building. But in all too many cases the landlord is very heavily mortgaged and anything additional would be enough to break the back.

That is what we do not want to see, because in the final analysis if the landlord has to choose between paying the hydro bills, the tax bills and all this kind of stuff and putting it into capital repairs, I think we both know what that landlord is going to -- so-called -- choose to do.

It does not come down to good business choices; it comes down to the reality of operating a building in the years 1991 and 1992 when the properties have been devalued to begin with. That again is not a reflection of a business decision, because properties generally have been devalued. Apartment buildings have devalued more than other properties because of government legislation. This was not a matter of poor business decisions on the part of landlords. They are reacting to events that have imposed themselves upon their particular workplace scenario.

I think it comes from a feeling that landlords are out there making pots of money. Maybe there are some making pots of money, but that is not what the Royal LePage survey showed a number of years ago. It showed that the profits landlords were realizing from their investments were quite modest, more modest than buying Canada savings bonds. Surely, in this climate, would it not be a little safer and a lot less hassle to purchase Canada savings bonds? If you say that is a poor business decision, I guess the government has the right to make that accusation, but I do not think that is what it comes down to. I think it comes down to external forces coming in and being put on to the buildings, on to the landlords. We have to try to reach a compromise, to combine two things: to ensure the landlord can operate that building in a viable way and to ensure tenants have stability and protection.

I am not suggesting we radically alter the cap. What I am suggesting is to allow that year of carry-forward to continue in a future year if the landlord cannot take it in a given year because of extraordinary operating costs, and I do not think that is an unreasonable position.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Both Mr Turnbull and Ms Poole have talked about market value reassessment as if the effect of market value reassessment in Metro Toronto would be to increase taxes on rental properties. Quite the opposite: the experience in every other regional municipality --

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: A clarification: I was talking about the city of Toronto --

The Chair: No, that is not a point of order.

Ms Poole: Mr Turnbull was talking about North York. We were not talking about all of Metro, we were talking about our particular constituencies.

The Chair: That is not a point of order, Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: But it was a valuable contribution.

The Chair: It might be.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The experience in all the other areas of Ontario where market value reassessment has been implemented -- it has been implemented in all other regional municipalities besides Metro Toronto -- has been that rental property will, on the average, decrease in terms of property tax. In fact, the provision within the bill that relates to the decrease in operating costs for which tenants can apply is likely only ever to be used by tenants in Metro Toronto if there is market value reassessment. Whatever you think of that notion, the effect of it is likely to open up the possibility for tenants in Metro Toronto to apply for a decrease in their rents because of an extraordinary decrease in operating costs. So let's make that clear.

Ms Poole is suggesting that because, when landlords have a roll-through granted them, we are asking that the 2% for capital within guideline be justified and whatever over guideline be justified, we are putting landlords in the situation where they are going to behave in such a way that we are going to have a situation where lots of apartments in Ontario will not be fit for human habitation, I think was the phrase she used.

I think the rhetoric around this one has gone beyond all bounds. She suggested we have put landlords in a position where the only choice they can make is whether to do a capital renovation or not. That is just not the case. Landlords have lots of decisions to make. They have the decisions about which things need renovation, which things need renovation first, how much of the renovation gets done in a particular application and how the renovation gets done. There is an enormous variety of choices landlords make and if landlords, knowing the predictions about municipal tax rates, feel they are not going to be adequately reflected in the guideline for next year or the year after because there is going to be such a rapid increase in municipal taxation rates or utility rates, then landlords will make their decisions about which capital renovations to undertake, at what pace, in what manner, according to that.

There is certainty around this. There is a framework within which landlords know they can undertake work and have a certain amount of cost on an annual basis passed through to the rents of their tenants. That is the framework. Tenants, on the other hand, have some degree of certainty about what the outside limits are going to be, not only how much, but for how long and in which period. To my mind, that is a pretty fair balance, particularly considering that we have added an extra year of roll-through in the amendments before the committee.


Mr Turnbull: Minister, I am going to tell you how market value is arrived at when doing an appraisal on a building, for your edification. When you are talking about market value with respect to a private house, it is established by a set of values that buildings have achieved in a given area, within a certain time frame, and it is adjusted according to the size of the building and the size of the lot. However, when you do an appraisal on a commercial property, particularly an apartment building, an apartment building's value is driven by the incomes from that building. I will draw for you a mental picture of two identical buildings, and I wish the minister would pay attention so that she might understand what I am talking about.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Don't be rude.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Turnbull: I have two identical buildings next door to each other, both built by the same builder in the same year. One of them has been sold twice over the period of 25 or 30 years and has maybe been renovated substantially and the rents have gone up in that building significantly and one higher than the one that has not been renovated. Seen from the tenants' point of view, they have already had the indignity of having significant rental increases, but they have had value in the sense that the building has been renovated, while the building next door has not had these sorts of magnitudes of increases.

With market value reassessment, the value of the building that already has the high rents will get the highest increases. It is conceivable that the building which does not have the renovations may get a decrease because we know tenants are being very unfairly treated with respect to property taxes. But there is a group of tenants and landlords who have been arguing for a long time over the inequity of market value reassessment within Metro because of the peculiarities of land values in Metro.

For the minister to suggest that landlords are not going to see significant increases in buildings where there has been a lot of renovation, particularly buildings that were built prior to 1970 when the assessment rolls were frozen within Metro, particularly in North York and the city of Toronto, is just patently untrue. The assertion that landlords have the option as to what renovations need to be done and when, Minister, read your own bill and you will find that if a work order is put on a building, the landlord has no option but to address that. Your bill is going to encourage the fact that landlords will tend to wait until the end of the year because they must keep that amount of money to see if there is any work order or any claims for work put on that building. Instead of being proactive, landlords are being encouraged by this bill, believe it or not, to simply be reactive. You obviously have not spoken to landlords, because they have said that very clearly.

Ms Poole: I think the minister is going to regret that she brought this issue into the conversation, because when she said the studies have clearly shown that in Metro Toronto market value assessment is going to benefit tenants, she has shown an appalling ignorance of the facts. I expected better of this minister, who has said that she has been a tenant advocate for years. If it is true that it is going to benefit tenants, why is the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations actively lobbying against it? Why have they gone to rallies and spoken against it? Why have they issued briefs on it and why are they saying that market value assessment is going to be very detrimental to tenants in cities such as Toronto and North York?

Furthermore, several years ago, the city of Toronto commissioned a report specifically on the impact on tenants. The report was by Enid Slack and I am sure your ministry officials would be more than happy to apprise you of the content. It was very well publicized at the time and it said very clearly that it would have a very negative impact on tenants. When Mr Turnbull and I are quite dumfounded by your remarks, that is why. The facts are clearly quite the opposite of what you have today portrayed.

When you talk about rhetoric going beyond all bounds, this is the NDP government that when it was in opposition talked about 150% rent increases and 100% rent increases. They carefully ignored the fact it was a very minuscule number of units? -- what was it, 34 units -- in Ontario that had this type of rent increase, instead of addressing the problem. The problem was that in certain circumstances there was an abuse of the rules, and instead of dealing with that, they gave us extravagant rhetoric which inflamed tenants and compounded the problem.

I categorically say that when the minister talks about rhetoric going beyond all bounds, if there was anything that went beyond bounds, we learned it from your government. There was hot air and bombast and inflammatory language. That is what I put up with for three years and I was a tenant advocate. I put up with that kind of nonsense for three years from the NDP opposition. It was absolutely ludicrous. I think we have been quite restrained.

I could go on and on about some of the things you have said and the fact you talk about notions. We are not talking about notions; we are talking about facts. The facts are as they have been portrayed here this morning and I am not exaggerating. We have a representative in the room at this moment who works very closely with the FMTA. You can check with her afterwards. You can check with your ministry officials. The facts speak for themselves.

If this minister truly wants to be proactive on ensuring that tenants pay less property tax, she should be working with the Minister of Revenue and getting the categorization of property taxes paid by tenants changed. That is at the root of the problem and that is why tenants do not realize that 25% to 30% or more of their rents go to property taxes. It is a point of real reform that I hope we would agree on that needs to be addressed.

But to say that this is all within a landlord's decision and that landlords are actually going to benefit and tenants are going to benefit from changes in taxation policy regarding market value assessment is simply to ignore the facts. If that comes in, what you are going to find is it is going to be absolutely devastating in Toronto and in the city of North York and there will be no recourse. Your legislation is so rigid that there are going to be landlords who simply cannot pay the taxes. The city of Toronto does not want to take over ownership of these buildings. It is the last one that wants to do it. Maybe your ministry does --

The Chair: I have allowed a lot of latitude, but we could maybe speak more directly to subsection 13(4.1). I know all parties have alluded to this particular subject.

Ms Poole: You can tell we feel quite passionately about this particular issue. I think enough has been said. I will finish my comments at this time.

Mrs Marland: I have a great deal of concern with this amendment by the government to its own legislation. A few moments ago, the minister said something about the landlords will do their capital renovations at what pace, in what manner they choose, when we are talking about the fact that in the second year they will not be in a position to take on any new work because they may have the balance of the previous year's work still to pay for out of their allowance for capital renovations.

You said maybe hydro rates will go up. Some of these things are not maybes in terms of property ownership for any of us. If there is one thing we are absolutely sure of since the amendments to the Power Corporation Act by this socialist government, we know hydro rates are going to go up because we know the amendments to the Power Corporation Act gave the flexibility to the Bob Rae socialists to use Hydro as a cash cow to pay for other government programs. We know that. There is no discussion in Ontario for people who own properties as to whether or not hydro is going up. I think we have already been told that next year it is 14.7%. That is whether you are in a house or you are a landlord with an apartment.


Having some of that information as a given, we have to look very realistically at this section and see what it is we are talking about here. I think the comments that have been made so far -- it is like every other discussion we have had on this bill for over a month -- are that it is a matter that the minister speaks, we speak, occasionally the government members speak, and nothing changes.

We are trying to get the truth out about what the impact of Bill 121 will be on the tenants in this province who are dependent on rental accommodation, these same tenants that this minister refers to as though they are all tenants by choice when she talks about the fact that a lot of her friends prefer to rent accommodation rather than rent money, a pretty profound statement by the Minister of Housing actually.

There are people who want to invest in their own equity by purchasing their home, their accommodation, whether it is a house or an apartment in a condominium complex. But with this legislation, the people for whom that will never be a choice, the people who for ever have to live in rental accommodation and in fact those people who have owned their own homes and have been taxed out of them -- the minister likes to refer to the opposition members as naïve, so I think it is fair ball for me to use that word in return.

When the minister said last week to the member for Dufferin-Peel in response to one of his questions something about, "I don't think this member could be so naïve as to" whatever -- I have not found it yet in last week's Hansard but I know it is there -- I say to this minister, surely you cannot be so naïve as to think there are people in rental accommodation today who do not understand what it is you are doing to them with this bill and subsequently what it is you are doing to them in their living environment.

You cannot be so naïve as not to understand that there are people for whom living in an apartment is not a choice; it is a necessity. Either they are not in a position to buy a home of their own, or as I said a moment ago, they have been in a home, have experienced home ownership, but through the increases in property taxes, in many cases now even older couples who finally have their mortgage paid off cannot stay in their residence because of the cost of taxes.

If any of these government members campaigned on doorsteps as I did only a year ago, they would have heard, as I heard, their concerns about the lack of availability of rental accommodation. They were having to make the choice of giving up their home, because their husband had died and they were now on a smaller fixed income and could not even pay the property taxes on the house, so they were looking for somewhere to live.

Because of the initiatives of this government, and I may dare suggest the previous government, the availability of new rental units for these people, who have been in their homes and now have to search out rental accommodation, is minimal if not nonexistent. Now here we are this morning talking about this glorious piece of garbage, Bill 121, and we are dealing with yet another section that is going to penalize the owner of rental property who in turn ends up penalizing the tenant.

If you do not think a tenant is not penalized when his living environment deteriorates because, as in subsection 13(4.1), we are saying, "It's too bad if you need to spend more than a certain amount that is allowable to keep my environment in my apartment building what I would choose it to be." When we are looking at this section and at the person who owns the property, I think one of the biggest misnomers is the word "landlord," especially in Ontario in 1991. When we are talking about landlords, any of you of British background might well be able to picture what a lord is, and a lord of land. When we talk about landlords, the picture is of the wealthy gentry in medieval England who not only owned a few buildings; they owned their country estates, the entire village, the church, the farms, everything that involved --

The Chair: Mrs Marland, perhaps a little bit more germanely to subsection 13(4.1).

Mr Abel: We are getting a history lesson.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: It is very educational.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I think this is very germane to this legislation --

The Chair: I thought you would.

Mrs Marland: -- which is dealing with landlords and tenants in this province.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: As far as whether Mrs Marland is talking about something relevant is concerned, I will say that due to Mr Mammoliti's comments last week, we spent a major portion of the afternoon talking about Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.

The Chair: No, Ms Poole, it is not a point of order.

Ms Poole: This is far more relevant.

The Chair: Mrs Marland will speak directly to subsection 13(4.1).

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, let me say this to you: You were fortunate last week that you were not able to be at this committee.

The Chair: I would not characterize it that way, Mrs Marland.


Mrs Marland: The member for Eglinton, Ms Poole, is absolutely right. When you have nothing better to do, you could read the Hansard from last week, where we were subjected to a tirade from Mr Mammoliti about Robin Hood and Friar Truck -- Tuck -- and all his merry men.

Mr Winninger: It is fire truck. That is what it was.

The Chair: I am sorry I missed it.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You just do not know what you missed.

The Chair: To subsection 13(4.1), Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: You certainly do not know what you missed, and I think if a government member of this committee is allowed to go back to Robin Hood, I am certainly allowed to go back to the connotations --

Hon Ms Gigantes: But he went so much faster.

Mrs Marland: I am allowed to refer to the connotations of "landlord." I think it is too bad that when we are talking about subsection 13(4.1), we do not think about the landlord to whom Diane Francis refers. I have a column here written by Diane Francis in the Financial Post, October 14, 1991.

The Chair: About subsection 13(4.1).

Mrs Marland: It is certainly about subsection 13(4.1), because it is going to cause more and more examples of what Diane Francis refers to in her article. In this article she refers to someone who can be described as a landlord. I want to tell you who this person is, because 13(4.1) is going to create many more individuals like Tony Vivilecchia. According to Diane Francis, this gentleman and his five children have been evicted from their home as of Labour Day weekend. "His wife, Esther, was hospitalized after the shock of losing everything. They have lost their life's savings and are now on welfare.

"`My wife is sick and after 30 years of all this work I've never seen anything like this,' says Tony. `I wanted to keep some money and invest and make something for my kids, then these socialists or communists or what you call it come along. I'm going to sue the government. I've got to find a lawyer.'"

This man came to Ontario from Italy with his family in 1959. He worked extremely hard and built himself a tiny nest egg through his hard work and hard savings. This is the kind of landlord for whom this bill and this section will contribute to their downfall. We can have government members of this committee who think it is humorous to talk about Robin Hood or about the fact, as Mr Mammoliti has any number of times in this committee, that he does not care how much money landlords have to pull out of their pockets to compensate for the operation of their buildings. With this regressive legislation, and particularly this section we are talking about this morning, we are not talking about options for these landlords; we are talking about what will be a fact of life for them.

I want to get to this, by the way: I will give you notice of this now, Mr Chairman. Two or I think perhaps three meetings ago I asked the minister what the job description was for the rent officers who will be interpreting subsection 13(4.1) and every other section of this disgusting piece of legislation.

The Chair: Just to help me out for a minute, are you about to make a motion?

Mrs Marland: I am in order, Mr Chair.

The Chair: I am just trying to understand where we are at in this.

Mrs Marland: Is there some difficulty in understanding where I am at?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.

The Chair: Yes, as far as the procedure goes. If you are giving me notice about something that does not relate to subsection 13(4.1), I would be pleased to have that.

Mrs Marland: No, I am giving you notice that when I asked the question three meetings ago about who a rent officer would be, what kind of training a rent officer would have, what the prerequisites for their eligibility to apply for those jobs would be, we had some very interesting nonanswers. Now in fairness, last week on an undated letter from Evelyn Gigantes, the minister, to you as Chairman -- I have no idea of the date of this letter being circulated to you as Chairman of the committee.

Hon Ms Gigantes: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: That document was tabled with the committee. I noted that it was tabled with the committee at the last meeting, if that is helpful to Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: I am not discussing when it was tabled. I was here --

The Chair: Mrs Marland, I would like to deal with this particular question, but I would prefer to deal with this particular question after a discussion of 13(4.1). I think procedurally that would be more helpful to us.

Mrs Marland: That is fine. Section 13 is dependent on rent officers. It says: "A landlord may apply to a chief rent officer." I am simply telling you that on an undated letter from the minister, attached to which is a package of material about who rent officers might be and what their training might be, this was tabled with the committee last week. I am simply saying the letter is undated. I am looking forward later on today to asking the minister questions pertaining to this document that was tabled in response to my question of three weeks ago.

In dealing with subsection 13(4.1) and being realistic about the fact that there are going to be a whole lot of areas over which these people who own property will have no control under this legislation, I think it is very important for the minister to be upfront with the tenants in this province. When she talks about market value assessment, or for that matter any of us talk about any reassessment of property -- that can happen for any number of reasons. It does not have to be because the municipality has invoked section 63 of the Assessment Act and therefore requested market value assessment.

Coming from a municipality that has had market value assessment for the last, I guess we are into about our seventh year in the city of Mississauga with market value assessment, I certainly have some understanding about the impact of what market value assessment means.

What we have to realize in this legislation is that if an apartment building assessment changes, two different things happen. If an apartment building's assessment is reduced for any reason -- maybe they built a major noise generator beside it. It may be some kind of industrial development or redevelopment. It may be a new bypass, some kind of highway. Perish the thought, but in the city of Mississauga it may be an additional runway at Pearson International Airport. There are many factors that control the value of your property, and because of that, if something changes, you are entitled to a reduction in your assessment if you can prove to the Assessment Review Board that the pleasure and enjoyment of your property has been impacted by a change in the environment around it.

If we have a situation where an apartment building receives a reduced assessment for any number of the eligible reasons that an Assessment Review Board panel can make judgement on, obviously it follows that the taxes are also reduced. Under this bill in front of us today, it means that if the taxes go down, so does the rent, because those tenants can apply for a decrease. Minister, you tell me if this legislation does not allow tenants to apply for a decrease where the taxes go down.


Hon Ms Gigantes: Under subsection 14(2), if you take a look at it, Ms Marland, you will see that there has to be a threshold of a greater than 50% below the guideline change.

Mrs Marland: Did you say 14(2)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Actually, that is the increase section. Where is our decrease section?

Mrs Marland: That is the increase section?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, that is right, but the same thing works in reverse for the decrease section.

Mrs Marland: I am encouraged that you are not much more familiar with the bill than I am.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Section 24.

Mrs Marland: So 14(2) deals with an increase, and I am talking about a decrease. Are you now directing me to another section, Minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am sorry, I missed that, Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: To which section are you directing me now?

The Chair: It is subsection 24(2), I believe, Minister, as printed.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes; subsection 24(2) on page 29 of the reprinted bill. There is nothing automatic; there is a threshold. "A decrease in operating costs for municipal taxes, hydro, water or heating for the whole residential complex is extraordinary" -- in other words, subject to a tenant application -- "if the decrease, expressed as a percentage, is at least 50 per cent less than the percentage set out in the corresponding operating cost category recognized in the table referred to in subsection 12(1) for that item"; in other words, the guideline table. So there is a threshold. Once there is a decrease in assessment on a particular building, the tenants are eligible to apply. I just wanted to draw that to your attention.

Mrs Marland: Okay. So it is not automatic, but what is your answer to my question where I say --

The Chair: Please continue.

Mrs Marland: It is no good my talking to the minister. She is not able to listen at the moment, so I waiting till she listens.

The Chair: Mrs Marland, just put your questions, please.

Mrs Marland: But in fairness, how can I ask the minister a question if she cannot hear the question?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am all attention.

Mrs Marland: Your answer was that it is not automatic, Minister. Okay. Are you saying then that a tenant cannot apply for a decrease if the assessment for the building is reduced and it fits into this section on page 29 to which you referred me?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The tenant can apply, but the application will be judged ineligible unless the conditions set out in that section are met. We are discussing here, as I understand it, the matter of the change in assessment of a particular building because of whatever circumstances. We are not talking about the market value reassessment situation, if I understand the thread you are following here.

Mrs Marland: It could be because of market value, but I am just speaking on the subject of any assessment changes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Right; that is what I understood. The circumstances you are referring to then would be governed by section 24.

Mrs Marland: Right. If the tenant applies for a reduction and all of these qualifiers to which you have just referred are met, then is it true there may be a reduction in the rent?

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is why it is there.

Mrs Marland: That is right.

Hon Ms Gigantes: To provide for that.

Mrs Marland: That is the point I am making. However, can you take me to a section in this bill where, if the taxes go up as a result of a reassessment, the opposite is possible, beyond -- I think it is a 3% cap on the upside, that the property owner is entitled to?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, the 3% cap has to do with capital expenditures and extraordinary operating costs.

The Chair: Sorry, Minister. I do not think we heard you.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, and I did not provide a reference: subsection 14(2).

Mrs Marland: If there is an increase in assessment, no matter what the percentage of the increase on the assessment, the property owner is capped at a 3% increase.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No.

Mrs Marland: Your staff is nodding yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am going to object to one part of what you are saying. Ms Richardson is agreeing with the other part of what you are saying. She is agreeing that there is a cap, but there has to be a 50% difference between the level of, for example, taxes and the increase in taxes -- let's talk about increases, to be more accurate here. There has to be a greater than 50% difference between the percentage of the cost of taxes paid by the landlord as a portion of operating costs and the percentage of the operating guideline which is attributable to taxes.

Mrs Marland: Could we agree on this? You have made the reference to two sections in the bill, one that deals with eligible decreases and one that deals with eligible increases, and they both seem to pivot around this 50% and all the other conditions. I can read that and I agree with you that is what it says, but could you also agree that in the case of meeting the requirements under "decreases" the tenant can apply for a decrease, and if those conditions are met, a decrease is possible. On the other end, if the conditions are met for the property owner, an increase is also possible.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Capped.

Mrs Marland: Right.

Hon Ms Gigantes: And that is your point.

Mrs Marland: There is a cap on the increase of 3%, but I am sure there is no cap on the amount of decrease that can be rendered as a result of a decision by a rent officer in this situation -- or maybe there is. Maybe you can tell me that.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No. There is no such cap, and the likelihood of a similar kind of level ever being reached is just about nil. If we assume that our economy is going to survive at all, the pattern we have seen is not for decreases in these costs.

You and other members of the opposition argued for days of hearings, for months of hearings, about the relentless increase in the costs paid by landlords, and I tend to accept that view. The government accepts that view. These costs do not seem ever to go down significantly. There may be some components of the guideline which, over the next few years, might not increase -- might even decrease, in a mild form -- but we expect most components of that operating guideline to increase in cost, so the number of applications by tenants, aside from those cases under market value assessment where the values, the tax levels would go down -- I do not expect that in all cases, but certainly there would be cases.


Mrs Marland: We have two parties here in a contract. On the one hand, through this legislation, when we have these two parties in this contract, one who owns property and one who needs to rent that property, we say there is no limit to how much your rent can go down but there is a 3% limit on how much your rent can go up under the same circumstances. We are talking about two sections of the bill that have the same game rules until you get to the percentages. On the one hand, we are saying it is okay not to have a cap on reductions, because we are assuming that will never be the case, but on the other hand, we are saying that in the case of an increase we are going to cap the increase at 3%, no matter what the costs to keep that building safe.

Let's talk about the kind of thing that qualifies for this 3% cap. We are talking about capital renovations, and when we are talking about capital renovations, as I keep saying, we may be talking about areas that are critical to the function and safety of that building. If it happens to be a building with external balconies and those balconies become unsafe or the balcony railings become unsafe, or there is an underground garage whose roof structure becomes unsafe -- there are so many. I am neither a mechanical nor a structural engineer, but I have a little common sense about how buildings operate and need to be kept up. I also understand that even with our own house, there are areas of safety that are affected if we do not have enough capital to protect the structural integrity and safety of the building.

If you do not want to talk about those kinds of areas, which are the responsibility of the property owner, and are saying, "You've got your annual 2% you can spend on that, and if you have to make a major investment one year, we are giving you two years to pay for it," this is wonderful; this is whoopee time. What we are saying here is, "I know what it's going to cost this year and I know it's above the allowance and my ability to pay, but I've got two years to pay for it." Then what happens in the second year when I have something else that is also very major? The second year I'm not even eligible for the regular 2% annual allowance. I not get the 2% of the regular allowance for stuff like painting walls or appliance replacement or hardware repair.

I cannot imagine anything as regressive as this particular section in terms of maintaining the environment of that building from a pride point of view: "That's my house. That's where I live. I don't want my family and friends visiting me in an apartment building where they can't replace appliances because we're into this second year of paying off a major capital renovation." It must be great to invite your family over for Thanksgiving dinner and not be able to cook it because your stove has not been repaired or replaced when it needed to be.

We can collectively talk about some major costs for which the property owner should be eligible, but if it is in the second year of the capital renovation, he is not.

The Chair: I think at this point it would be useful to adjourn those comments. We will pick up there this afternoon.

Committee members, we have one small housekeeping item I would like to deal with this afternoon. That is the adoption of the subcommittee report. I do not think that should be a problem if we do that directly at 3:30 and then continue the clause-by-clause consideration of this bill.

The committee recessed at 1206.


The committee resumed at 1551.


The Chair: The first thing we should deal with this afternoon is the report of the subcommittee, which I believe all members have a copy of. The meeting took place on December 3. As members will recall, the meeting had some urgency, as the House leaders had to know at 8 o'clock the next morning what the intentions of this committee were. I therefore, after the meeting and receiving unanimous agreement among all parties, sent a letter which was approved by all members of the subcommittee to Mr Cooke, the government House leader. You have that letter before you. It actually went to all the House leaders and all the whips. What I am looking for this afternoon is for the committee to adopt the report of the subcommittee.

Mrs Marland: Did Mr Tilson sit on this subcommittee?

The Chair: Just for your information, Mr Turnbull represented your caucus. Minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Maybe I will wait until our representative on the subcommittee comes in.

The Chair: I see him.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I was going to speak to a counterproposal to the report of the subcommittee. As I understand it, the House leaders have been meeting directly on the question of how to schedule time with this committee to finish dealing with Bill 121. My understanding is that it would probably be more useful if the committee tabled the report of the subcommittee for the moment in the hopes that there will be an agreement worked out with the House leaders which will provide us with adequate time, but enable us to do the work more expeditiously than the representatives on the subcommittee had contemplated at the meeting on December 3.

The Chair: Thank you, minister. I point out just for clarification that this has happened: The letter has been sent under my name representing all of you indicating this would happen this way. We have not received any return correspondence from the government House leader or any of the other House leaders for that matter. I see no problem in continuing and therefore, I will recognize Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: With reference to the minister's comments, I reiterate that all three caucuses were represented at the meeting and there was considerable discussion about the amount of time that was adequate in order to deal with the remainder of Bill 121. It was pointed out at that meeting that there were 130 clauses, there were some 200 amendments in total by the three caucuses and that it is extremely complex legislation and, to be quite frank, extremely controversial legislation.

It was the unanimous agreement of all three representatives at the meeting that if three weeks were allocated during the intersession to complete the clause-by-clause, then all parties would also agree that we would guarantee that the clause-by-clause would be completed in that time. It was made clear at that meeting that anything less than the three weeks would mean that the agreement was off and all three caucuses would not agree that the clause-by-clause be completed in less than three weeks.

What we have here is a very expeditious agreement and I do not see why this time cannot be allocated. I have talked to our House leader. The Liberal House leader has indicated that, looking at the complexity and the longevity of the legislation and the number of amendments, three weeks is quite reasonable, and certainly that has been the position he has been taking to the House leaders' meeting.

I think we as a committee should stand by the agreement raised at the subcommittee meeting and agreed to by all parties. If we do not, my fear is that this committee is going to continue to be fairly ineffectual in getting through, and I would like to see more progress made on this bill. It is not going to delay the passage of this bill by one day to have those three weeks in the intersession. It has obviously become clear to the government that there is no way it can keep to the original timetable. The original timetable was just incredibly unrealistic, to go through clause-by-clause in a month and get third reading when we are only meeting for four and one half hours every Thursday. I think that has been acknowledged.

The regulations are going to be worked upon while we are in the intersession. That was always the plan and that is still the plan. The government never intended to proclaim the bill until late spring. That is also a fact. So we are not delaying this legislation at all by having a thorough examination in clause-by-clause. My feeling is that right now we have give and take by both sides. The government caucus wanted to do it more quickly. The Conservative caucus wanted to do it more slowly. The Liberal caucus just wanted to get it over with. Sorry, I did not really say that; we just wanted to get it done expeditiously and productively, and we finally have an agreement. I commend the other members of the steering committee for giving and accommodating.

So why on earth would we reopen the matter when the Chair, subject to the authority of the steering committee, has already put our committee on the record as requesting this time? I see no reason to start messing with what I think is a very workable agreement and getting the job done.

The Chair: Before we go further, I would just like to clarify that this was a subcommittee meeting that was unanimously agreed to. It was a request to the House leaders. The House leaders obviously can deal with this in any way they want. What we are really asking the committee to affirm is that this was the agreement that was reached unanimously. The House leaders obviously can allocate the time as they will, but you put the Chair in a somewhat difficult position if we do not adopt a request that I have already signed a letter for.

Mr Winninger: I beg to differ with the position taken by Ms Poole. With respect, I think it is unreasonable to make these kinds of demands on the House leaders who, combined, face quite a challenge in organizing valuable committee time. The public should know that committee time is precious and that this particular bill has already received quite a high degree of debate and will certainly enjoy further debate, but I would respectfully submit that a week's time is certainly enough to complete the clause-by-clause, and that will enable members of this committee who have to serve on other committees as well to be scheduled into those committees so that other necessary legislation can be examined.

These little sidebar agreements may be very nice, but they do not solve the challenge that the House leaders face in organizing committee time, and certainly it does not acknowledge the extreme scrutiny the clauses of this bill have already received and will receive in January. So I beg to differ with Ms Poole, with respect. I think a week is perfectly adequate.


The Chair: Thank you, Mr Winninger, but that is really not the subject of debate. The debate is really centred around whether we make this request. The subcommittee instructed the Chair to make this request. It was approved by all here, and it was just a request. You make legitimate points, but I am not sure they are directly relevant.

Mr Winninger: Given that you have commented on what I had to say, I would only add that I would endorse that we not move this request and that the request be amended to one week. I think the committee has the power to do that.

Mrs Marland: If this was not so serious it would be almost laughable, because here we have a member who has been in the House now for 16 months and does not yet understand a little bit, just a little bit, about how things work around here.

When we have a committee established, we always have subcommittees. There is something that is really missing here, and that is the word "honour." Committees have subcommittees meeting all the time with representatives of all three parties, and it is an unwritten law with a little bit of honour and respect attached to it that when a subcommittee comes to an agreement and directs the Chair to convey the intent of that subcommittee to the House leaders, the rest of the committee pay regard and respect to that decision.

What Mr Winninger is saying is, "Let's scrub the subcommittee," because if in fact he wants the whole committee to make all these decisions, then let's not waste the time of those people who sit as members of the subcommittee and indeed have meetings; not only the time of the members of the subcommittee, but the time of the staff, our clerk and so forth. When he refers to this as a sidebar agreement, that really confirms the fact that this member has not a clue about how things work.

Mr Mammoliti: You are such an expert.

Mr Winninger: On a point of personal privilege: Perhaps I exaggerated.

Mr Abel: Lawyers do that, though.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Winninger. Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: It is very interesting that a government member of a 74-person caucus suddenly is so concerned about the schedule and other commitments, as he said, of other members. Perhaps the clerk could advise me on this. Could you give me the date we started the sittings to review this bill clause by clause? Was it about October 22?

Clerk of the Committee: You will have to give me a few minutes to look that up.

Mrs Marland: In any case, the point I want to make, and the date will confirm it, is that this committee did not sit after August 18 for two and a half months.

Clerk of the Committee: October 31.

Mrs Marland: I am correct. For two and a half months this committee did not sit when it could have sat. There are two things happening here, and we had better be very sure about what this game is. First of all, the government brings in more than 100 amendments to its own poorly drafted piece of legislation -- and I am being very polite when I say poorly drafted -- and I have forgotten what the numbers are between the two caucuses opposition exactly, but in essence I think we have over 200 amendments to this legislation. Now the minister, who I do not think is either a House leader or a member of the subcommittee, comes into this meeting today and says she only wants to sit for one week on this bill in January.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Excuse me, Mr Chair, I did not suggest a time.

Mrs Marland: What did you suggest then? Let's be clear about it. What did you say?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I suggested that we leave the time to the House leaders. Is that allowed? Forgive me for making a suggestion.

Mrs Marland: You see, Mr Chairman, it is so sad it is pathetic. This minister is not willing to have this bill scrutinized through the clause-by-clause examination of it. That is why she is asking to cop off the responsibility to the House leaders. It does not matter what this committee requests; we all understand that the three House leaders, through negotiations, will make the decision. But at the very least this committee has to give some direction to the House leaders about what our wishes are.

Our wishes are that we need a minimum of four weeks to complete the rest of the work on this bill. Even with four weeks of sittings, I am sure we will not complete the amount of work that has to be done.

I am just wondering how it is that when we have had a decision made and a report from a subcommittee, the minister can come in today and make another recommendation like, "Let the House leaders decide." We know the House leaders are going to decide, but they have to receive some direction from this committee, and I have never heard a minister come in and intervene in that process. If she does not want the public to know what her government is doing, that is up to her, but I want the public to know what is going on and I want the public to understand the ramifications of Bill 121 for the future of rental accommodation in this province and where these tenants are going to be and why they are going to be out on the streets because Bill 121 puts the property owners out of business.

When the first apartment building in this minister's riding has its hydro, water or heat cut off because of this legislation, the public is going to turn around and say: "What happened? How could the Legislative Assembly pass a bill like that?" We are going to be saying, "Not only was it passed, we were not even given full committee sitting time to review each amendment." Some are new amendments by the government itself. Even if you do not want to review our amendments, do we not have a right to review your amendments which have already been printed in this bill? You are saying one week. I think this is the height of insult both to the process and to the public.

The Chair: I might clarify to all members what is actually in this agreement. The request was for three weeks of hearings during the winter. With that three weeks was a guarantee by all three parties that we would complete the work.

Mrs Marland: Excuse me, does it not say four weeks on here?

Ms Poole: Three weeks for clause-by-clause and one week for 123.

Mrs Marland: I am reading the cover sheet.


Mr Turnbull: I was party to that subcommittee meeting we had with Ms Poole and Mr Abel, and it was quite clear from the negotiation that went on that we believe it is appropriate to have enough time to go through all the clauses. I note that there are some 130 clauses in this bill. This is a very complex bill. You see the thickness of the bill. We have 77 pages containing 130 clauses. It was quite clear when we discussed the amount of time we needed that we took into account the amount of time that has been required so far to get to -- we are now on clause 13. Could the clerk perhaps tell us how many weeks we have now been sitting on this committee doing clause-by-clause?

Clerk of the Committee: Every Thursday since October 31.

Mr Turnbull: So that is four?

Clerk of the Committee: Again, if you give me a minute, I will count up the number.

Mr Turnbull: Okay. That was the kind of calculation which was done with Mr Abel and with Ms Poole. What we have asked for is three weeks in the recess.

It is quite clear that during the curtailed hearings into Bill 4 where the government used closure on Bill 4, which was the temporary legislation on housing, we were told, "We're going to use closure to cut off any further debate of that bill, but don't worry, you'll have lots of time when the permanent bill comes down." Basically we are asking the government to `fess up to what it agreed to at the time.

We are also saying that if a subcommittee agrees to these arrangements and makes a commitment that we will make sure the bill is handled by that time, even if it means we have to push it through at the end, that is for the purpose -- I mean, the whole reason for subcommittees is to advise our House leaders, and unless we have some recognition of the value of subcommittees, we might as well go on record as saying, "Let's get rid of subcommittees and let's drag out all the proceedings in full committee hearings." That is the kind of choice we have to make.

I think the negotiations were very honourable with Mr Abel, Ms Poole and myself, and I walked away feeling we had made a fair compromise, and it was a compromise, because, as Ms Poole suggested, we wanted longer, but we negotiated down to that point.

We need full and complete public scrutiny of these clauses and we need full discussion of the individual clauses of a very complex bill which is causing the bankruptcy of a lot of landlords. Indeed, at lunchtime today I met an appraiser whom I have never met in my life, and I have no idea what his politics are, but he pointed out that since the introduction of Bill 4, the cap rates these buildings are being sold on have moved from 6.5 to 9.5. That is a massive change in capitalization rates which equates to around a 25% reduction in the value of buildings. That is what this bill is doing. This is directly as a result of legislation.

If we do not get the full scrutiny of these clauses, we are doing the public a disservice. I ask you, Mr Chairman, on behalf of this committee, to clearly send a message to the House leaders that if we do not keep to this agreement that was made in the subcommittee, then in fact we should abandon all subcommittee meetings in all committees of government, because they are wasting the taxpayers' money.

Mr Abel: It would appear that the recommendation put forth by the subcommittee has caused some disruption within the committee. That certainly was not the intent when Ms Poole, Mr Turnbull and I met to attempt to reach an agreement. However, there is some obvious disruption and, with that, I would like to move that the subcommittee report be tabled for further consideration.

The Chair: Let me just understand you, Mr Abel. You are moving to table or postpone the discussion of this report of the subcommittee?

Mr Abel: I moved to table the subcommittee's report for further consideration.

The Chair: To postpone. That is a debatable motion.

Mr McClelland: I will need your direction, Mr Chairman. I do not presume to interrogate Mr Abel in any sense, but in terms of understanding I would wonder if there is some significant reason why you would have a change of heart, if I can use that word, or certainly a change of position. I think that would be helpful for us.

It seems to me, if I understand correctly -- and please correct me if I am wrong; for the purposes of the record I want to review this -- that you, as whip of this committee for your government members, accepted as well the responsibility to sit on the subcommittee and that you negotiated in good faith. You are a man of honour and integrity and you negotiated in good faith. I have had the opportunity and the pleasure of travelling with you and I know that personally as well as professionally to be the case. You went to that committee with instructions, presumably, having discussed it with your colleagues and arrived at a position. At that point in time, all the pertinent information was available to you and you arrived at a decision I think everybody agreed to, with some give and take and compromise, which usually is the process, that led to the report of the subcommittee being presented here today.

I think it therefore is helpful to me and to other members of the committee to know what substantive facts have come to light that have caused you to change that. I do not want to put you in a position, sir, that would compromise your position. Both in terms of serving on this committee and your integrity, and indeed with your colleagues whom you represent, I think it would put you in virtually an untenable position to provide that leadership and direction for your colleagues on your side of the committee, the government members, and indeed for the entire committee, as a representative who comes to subcommittee meetings on the basis of some very fundamental understandings in terms of arrangements made, commitments given and the basic understanding that people's word is their bond in these matters and that they not be subject to change after the fact. Indeed, the whole process of negotiating these types of arrangements is based on the premise that people's commitments and undertakings are adhered to.

It can only lead me to the conclusion that it must be some substantive change in circumstances and/or some very telling information that has -- because I cannot believe for a moment, Mr Abel, that you, sir, would abandon your position you negotiated in good faith unless there was some very compelling reason to do so, and I would be interested in knowing that reason or reasons.

The Chair: Do you wish to respond, Mr Abel?

Mr Abel: Yes. I thought my brief preamble pretty well addressed your concerns. At no time did I say I was abandoning my position, but it was quite obvious that the recommendation made by the subcommittee has been somewhat disruptive to this committee as a whole. In order that we could get on with the business we are here to do, I made the motion that this matter be postponed so we could come to more of an amicable agreement.

Mr McClelland: I take it then, your having said that you have not abandoned the position, that this still remains your position. Therefore it would follow logically that this remains your position and the position of your party. As your party's representative, this is your recommendation to the committee. Is that not true?

Mr Abel: My position is that in order that we can get on with the business, we table this matter or postpone this matter until we can reconsider the situation, because it is obviously very disruptive. We have heard the other members express their concerns.

The Chair: I think we will just go in rotation now, Mr McClelland.

Mr McClelland: Can I just finish this one point? I think it is important, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Fine.


Mr McClelland: The question again then, sir, is that this remains the position you and your party adopt, whether it is dealt with today or some subsequent time. This is the position you arrived at in good faith. You put your word on the line in terms of this position, is that correct?

Hon Ms Gigantes: But a lot has happened since December 3.

Mr Abel: Mr Chair, it is my understanding that we have a motion before us and we are required to debate this motion, not enter into a question-and-answer period. I think I have made my position quite clear and that should be sufficient for the member opposite.

The Chair: That is fine. Of course, no one compels you to reply.

Mr Abel: That is right. I tried to answer that as succinctly and clearly as possible and I think I have done just that.

Mrs Marland: The most interesting aspect of the discussion at this moment today is the interjections of the minister, who does not sit as a member of the subcommittee. For the purposes of a lot of committee work the minister, if we have a full complement of government members, does not take part in the business of the committee. But we have a unique happening here today where the minister, from her position as minister, is trying to take over the business of the committee, which I take strong exception to. I have not seen that happen before.

I say with respect to Mr Abel that I suspect he is the person who has been put out to dry here. On a personal basis, I have a lot of respect for Mr Abel and I think he is being made the fall guy, the same as Shelley Martel is being made the fall guy for somebody else's mess-up in the House.

Mr Mammoliti: You are wicked, are you not? It is irrelevant.

Mrs Marland: It may be irrelevant in your opinion, but when the minister says a lot has happened since December 3, we are sitting here on December 12 and you are quite right, a lot has happened. The people of this province are more disillusioned than they would ever have dreamed they would be, and what is going on today is only going to fuel that disillusionment.

We will not postpone this report in front of us today from the subcommittee for a number of reasons, not the least of which -- to use the minister's own words -- you do not have to be too naïve to know that right now the House leaders are trying to schedule our work program -- for those of us who choose to work and be committed to the public service to which we are elected -- the schedule of meetings for January and February.

Part of the challenge the House leaders have to deal with is that very fact of juggling meetings, the sitting days which conflict with other committees, where you have a member who sits on more than one committee. We also have an added little problem that they have to schedule the venue where committee meetings take place, and when we have committees that are travelling, we understand how this complexity escalates.

To postpone this decision, I suggest, might be a tremendous advantage for the government because, for one thing, we are going to take it out of the purview of this public forum we are presently in -- and would you not just love that -- and we are going to put it back in a subcommittee that has already been violated by the fact that we are even sitting here debating something a subcommittee already decided.

I will not be party to this. I think it is an outrage that a subcommittee has made a recommendation and in good faith the Chairman, whoever it was on that particular occasion, went forth with the decision of the subcommittee, and the rest of it was to be pure procedural housekeeping. If that were not the case, then perhaps another time the subcommittee might want to report to us immediately after it has met.

This, as far as I am concerned, demonstrates a total breakdown in the subcommittee process, and we are not going to allow our House leaders to meet in isolation of what this committee is saying we need in terms of time allocation in January and February to get on with the business of this bill.

I say again to the minister, Mr Chair, if her ministry had gotten its act together we would not have had two and a half months without sitting on this bill. We could have gone into the business of clause-by-clause examination of this bill, even if they had not had all their amendments ready. I can concede that if you are going to more than rewrite your bill because it is so badly written -- which is what they have done -- if you are going to bring in over a hundred amendments to your own bill, I can see that takes some staff time to prepare and I respect that.

We would have agreed to start sitting at the end of August when there was time free and available, and sat through September and October. Since the amendments were prepared or in numerical order, we could have dealt with them as they came forward. We did not need this luxury of waiting until the bill was totally reprinted with all their amendments already enshrined in it. We did not need that. We were asked if they could do it and co-operatively we agreed, but that was not the reason we lost two and a half months, as I recall. I think the decision to reprint the bill came somewhere towards the end of October.

Every time a meeting of this committee was postponed we said, "When is the government ever going to get its act together and get the business of this bill proceeding?" Now we are into a situation where the government is saying, "We are only going to give you one more week, or whatever the House leaders decide." It is not what the House leaders decide. They cannot make a decision in the absence of some direction from this committee, and the direction from this committee, as far as we are concerned, stands as a request for three weeks of sitting.

If we are going to start playing games on how much time it will take, even then I am sure we will not be satisfactorily through all the sections and dealing with all the amendments to this bill. But we are willing, and I understand that compromise was reached by the subcommittee. They agreed to three weeks as a compromise.

How much further do we have to go to be co-operative if we are saying we would agree for three weeks when other committees, perhaps, have four or five with far less work? Frankly, I have never sat on a committee with a bill with this number of amendments and I do not agree. This item is on the agenda today and we have to give the direction to the House leaders so they know how much time we need to fit in with every other schedule for that time when the House is not sitting and committees do sit.

Mr Winninger: I am quite gratified that the minister has played such an active role and attended at this committee, because I certainly think it adds an element of sanity to these proceedings. I need to respond, however, to some remarks of Mrs Marland that she made earlier.

Ms Poole: Do not talk about George like that.

Mr Winninger: I may have been in office only 16 short months, but it appears I know a lot more than Mrs Marland does after her long stay here, because I would suggest to you that it is not the obligation of this committee to always accept every report a subcommittee prepares, uncritically and ex cathedra. There will be times -- it is not the first time and it will not be the last -- that the committee may choose to accept, not accept or amend a report of the subcommittee. It is as simple as that. I hope that we, as members of the committee, have a significant role to play and that we are not just here to accept reports of subcommittees. Naturally we repose a high degree of trust in the people who serve on our subcommittees. I have tremendous respect for them, but there may be times when our committee cannot accept, in its totality and unequivocally, a report of the subcommittee. That is all.

Mrs Marland: Do not put your own member out to dry; it is not fair to your own member. What a game.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: Mr Chair, what is happening here this afternoon? I am sorry I missed a great quantity of it because I had other duties.

Ms Poole: Are you really sorry?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not know, it is difficult to come into a debate midway, but I think it is very extraordinary. I think subcommittee reports are usually accepted as presented and I really am sorry -- I have a very short history here, but I have not seen them being tabled in this manner. It is the first subcommittee meeting I was not at, by the way, because that used to be my role.

Ms Poole: Okay, so blame me.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I did figure that I had had very good co-operation and I thought the subcommittee of this committee met and reached very high standards of discussion and decision-making. I think we have to understand that this is strange, because this is not an isolated decision we are making. I was talking to some of my colleagues at noon and saying it is very unusual that we have no idea what we are doing in January at this moment. We are now at December 12. Last year we knew what we were doing. We even had all our meetings planned for this committee and for the Constitution committee and we even knew where we were travelling. So this is very unusual.

Mr Bisson: We did that in January last year.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: For this committee, not so. I am talking about the standing committee on general government hearings on Bill 4.

Mr Bisson: But do not say the Constitution committee; we planned in January.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We were planning what we were going to do in January in December. We knew who we wanted to speak to, Mr Bisson, and we knew when we wanted to speak to them and we knew it was January 27th.

The Chair: Through the Chair, please.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am sorry, but I know of what I speak. As a result, none of us knows, not one person in this Legislature at this moment knows, if there will be a meeting on January 6 or January 13 in this building. As a result, we are all hostage. We cannot make any plans; we have to be on hold. I find that a little bit distasteful. This turn of events is more distasteful because this is a very interrelated decision. It has to do with all the other committees. I know it was part of an agreement of the House leaders because I was part of that discussion, and this was certainly a very strong element, because it is a very important bill; it was a very strong and high-profile element in that decision and discussion.

Now, all of a sudden, I come in here this afternoon with a lot of other jazz on my mind that is going on around here and find this happening. I really cannot believe it. I will not make any judgements about any members of the subcommittee, but there is something just not correct when a subcommittee's report has been unanimously approved and the House leaders were even in on the discussion of what it would contain and now it is being withdrawn or tabled or whatever term you want to use. Those are my remarks, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs O'Neill. We have Ms Poole, Mr McClelland and Mr Mammoliti.

Ms Poole: I, like Mrs O'Neill, have now been in this Legislature over four years. In that period of time I have sat on numerous committees. I have sat on the standing committee on social development, the standing committee on administration of justice, I chaired the select committee on education for two years, I have been on the standing committee on public accounts and I have been on the standing committee on general government. This is the first time in almost four and a half years I have seen this occur. The only other incident where it was disputed in the full committee was where the steering committee did not reach unanimous consent.

In this case we did have unanimous agreement of the three parties and as I mentioned earlier there was considerable give and take on both sides. We reached that agreement and, quite frankly, bringing it here today was pro forma so that members of the committee would know what the steering committee had done and you could be up to date with what we had asked for. The request has already gone to the House leaders, make no mistake about it. The fact that the full committee recommends something does not mean it is going to be cast in stone. The House leaders will make the final decision. But to abort the report of the steering committee is something I have never heard of in this place. It is highly unusual to have this type of interference.

Mr Winninger mentioned that he reposed a high degree of trust in the steering committee members and, I presume, particularly in his own colleague Mr Abel, who was a member of that steering committee. I concur with my colleague Mr McClelland. He has always acted in a forthright and accommodating and trustworthy way. Now suddenly is his word no good? I cannot comprehend this. We have a choice here today. By tabling this report and by debating it -- and we have here five opposition members who feel very strongly about this unusual precedent that you are attempting to set today. We all intend to speak to it. Why are you wasting our time debating this when we could get on to the bill and get some work done? By tabling it, all you are doing is delaying the inevitable.

Mr Mammoliti: So call the question.

Ms Poole: I am not going to call the question, because I do not think that motion should have been made. It is inappropriate and I think it is unethical. I think it is unethical of the NDP caucus to force its own steering committee member to backtrack. If you repose that high degree of trust, it is something you should not have done. That kind of pressure should not be brought to bear on one of the members of this committee and on one of the members of the steering committee.

This steering committee, for the last year, has worked extremely well. There have been very few issues where we could not reach some kind of consensus. We had our occasional flare-up; that is not to be denied. But I will tell you, if you subvert the report of this steering committee, then we may as well not meet. I for one do not want to waste my time when I know it will not matter because the government is going to use its majority on the master committee to override anything we agree to. What is the point in having the agreement? Steering committees are formulated so that we can make the main committee more productive, so that we can make decisions.

The House leaders have already been advised of the request. The Chair was instructed to do so by the three members of the steering committee. The House leaders are aware of our request. Today what we were expecting was a pro forma to tell you what was happening, and that is it. That is what normally happens.

If you are talking about delaying getting on to this, it is going to delay it. If you are talking about having filibusters in the House when we come back and having difficulties in making agreements, then this is going to precipitate it. Here we had all-party agreement, a guaranteed date by which this would be out of clause-by-clause, and if we went with what the steering committee recommended, January 13, January 20 and January 27, by the end of January the Minister of Housing and the bureaucrats would know exactly what had passed; they would know what was going into the House; they could prepare their regulations and, as I mentioned earlier, not one day of delay.

But instead I predict we will talk about this until 6 o'clock tonight and then next Thursday we will start. What a bloody waste of time. Why do we not get on with the business? Tabling this does not accomplish anything. What is tabling it going to do? This full committee has to report to the House leaders. If it is going to do anything, it is going to make my House leader much more recalcitrant to reach any accommodation with the government House leader.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Who knows this committee well.

Ms Poole: Who knows this committee extremely well, because the current opposition House leader chaired this committee for the last year.

Mr Mammoliti: And he has done a wonderful job.

Ms Poole: He did a wonderful job.

Mr Mammoliti: You can tell him that from me.

Ms Poole: When Mr Winninger said the minister has brought an element of sanity to this committee, for one thing, I think he really did a grave disservice to Mr Mammoliti and Mr Abel --

Mr Mammoliti: Yes, I take that personally.

Ms Poole: -- and Mr Bisson, and I think Mr Lessard has sat on this committee from time to time.


The Chair: Order.

Ms Poole: Yes, Mr Chair, thank you for bringing the government members to order. They are rather unruly today.

Mr Bisson: We are used to it. We watch you in the House. We have a good example to follow.

Ms Poole: Thank you, Mr Bisson. He has said that I am his role model. I take that as a high compliment.

But when Mr Abel gives as the reason he wants to table this the fact that he did not realize it was going to be disruptive, he is quite right; there is no way it should have been disruptive. We were not going to talk to it, other than to say this was all-party agreement; let's get on to the business. Now it has become disruptive. In fact, only one person on the government side has spoken to it and suddenly it disrupts the whole committee. That to me is not an adequate reason for withdrawing, for trying to table this and for this committee not to make a decision.

I abhor the type of politics that are being played because what it does is sacrifice a very honourable member of the steering committee and make his word not to be believed in future.

Mrs Marland: Exactly. That is the sick and sad part of it.


Ms Poole: This is what it comes down to, whether it is pressuring Ron Hansen or pressuring Don Abel, who are honourable people who do what their consciences tell them to do. What is their word worth?


The Chair: One conversation at a time. Mrs Poole has the floor.

Mrs Marland: I wish you did know about loyalty. Then you wouldn't put Don out to dry.

Mr Mammoliti: You are so emotional.

Mrs Marland: I am honourable.

Ms Poole: The final point Mr Winninger made was the fact that he was trying to assist the House leaders in organizing the precious time of the members. I would say to Mr Winninger that the NDP government caucus has 74 members, the Liberal caucus has 35, the Tory caucus has 20. The two opposition caucuses, which combined have less than two thirds of your majority caucus, are willing to put our members in here for three weeks because we think this is important.

If you are saying that one of the most major pieces of housing legislation to come forward in the last six years is not worthy of your time, that is fine. If you are saying to the tenants and the landlords of the province, "Yes, you have concerns with this legislation which have not been addressed, and there are many on both sides, but I am sorry, we are going to squeeze this in in four days and we are not going to be able to debate your point of view," that is fine too.

I just hope you take this into account three or four years from now when you go to the polls, because it is symptomatic of an arrogance that I think has come very quickly to the NDP government. But to throw your own member to the wolves --

Mr Winninger: I am sure the tenants will forgive us.

Ms Poole: I do not think they will because I do not think they are going to trust you, the same as you are trying to hang your member out to dry and throw him to the wolves.

Mr Mammoliti: You care so much about him.

Ms Poole: I do. He is a very nice man and I like him. There are those in this place I cannot say that about. He was a pleasure to travel with. I hope my husband does not take that personally because it is purely platonic.

Mr McClelland: So does his wife.

Ms Poole: Mr Abel's wife feels that way too.

I think this is highly unusual. I have not seen the like of it in the four and a half years I have been here and I hope you will reconsider and withdraw that. Otherwise, we are going to be wasting more time and we will not even get to the rest of the bill today.

Mr McClelland: I will try as dispassionately as I can, being a relative newcomer to this committee for this particular bill, to touch on a couple of salient points and, I hope, points that can be addressed in the context of the discussions here at a greater level. I would ask particularly Messrs Lessard and Winninger to pay attention to a couple of points I am going to make.

Mr Winninger: I always do.

Mr McClelland: The first point I want to make is with respect to a discussion I had with Mr Abel. He became somewhat exercised and responded through the Chair to me with a little bit of anxiety, and I understand that. I understand the position you are in and I do not take that personally in any sense. I recognize that. You were unable to answer the question directly because of the very uncomfortable position you have been put in by, I say with respect, the members of your caucus.

I recognize that and I have some concern about that for you as an individual who is highly regarded not only among your own colleagues but by other members. What is at stake here is a process in terms of taking the mechanics of working here -- and Mr Winninger --

Mr Winninger: I am listening.

Mr McClelland: There is something that is fundamental. It is a fundamental principle of conduct and procedure where people are charged with a responsibility, accept that responsibility and carry it forth in good faith. You have been put in jeopardy. I say to Mr Abel that I understand why he did not respond to that.

I am going to appeal to Mr Lessard and Mr Winninger as members of a profession that has a particular code of conduct and a code of honour. Within the profession they are members of, there is terminology thrown around that is seen to be in some circles, and I would think among you gentlemen as well -- Mr Chairman, they would consider it to be one of the graver charges.

Mr Winninger, I would caution you not to say you know more than Mrs Marland. I would never say that, but you have taken that position.

Mr Mammoliti: Nobody knows more than Mrs Marland.

Mr McClelland: Mr Winninger indicated that surely the subcommittee's position is not one to be adhered to as sacrosanct and is subject to debate. I think there are times that would happen. I think anyone would reserve that right and so it should be that ultimately we will make our decisions as best we can, based on the information that is brought to us.

But I would caution you, sir, to be very careful in doing so in this instance, because what you are talking about here is a process that is fundamental to the workings of this place. To raise an argument in terms of philosophy or to raise it to an esoteric level, I would say very plainly to you is what we in our profession consider sharp practice. That would be insulting to you and it would be to your colleague.

Mr Winninger: On a point of personal privilege, Mr Chairman: I think it is totally inappropriate to characterize a reasoned position of a member of this committee as being sharp practice. I think this analogy is totally irrelevant. I am not here as a member of the bar; I am here as a member of the House. I think I am privileged to exercise the independence of thought that should characterize all members of the House, and that is what I have done today.

I think Mr McClelland is way out of line when he starts using the term "sharp practice," and I take umbrage with that.

Mr McClelland: The member is certainly entitled to do that, and I cautioned at the outset that I was trying to do this dispassionately and put it in a hypothetical position. I was not making that as a charge. I said simply that if one were to take this example and to use it, it would be somewhat analogous -- I said "somewhat analogous" in my mind -- because what you are doing is using a fine point of argument really to undermine a process that is based on terms of integrity and acceptance of a tradition and acceptance of the good word of one of all of our colleagues and, under a smaller umbrella, a colleague of your caucus.

What you do then is to bring in an argument that says, "I want to maintain my independence of thought." That is to say you call into question at each and every time in the future the mandate you have given and the responsibility a subcommittee member has accepted. I think you are on a very slippery slope when you begin to do that.

I say this again as dispassionately as I can, sir -- with great respect, Mr Chairman, to the member opposite -- that you will begin to cause one to question at each point hereafter the value of what we are going through. Is it subject to further scrutiny? Are we going through a charade?

It leaves in this case Mr Abel and in the future whoever may serve in that position on the subcommittee in a no-win situation. It is ultimately lose-lose, no matter what they do. Their word is in question through no fault of their own. Surely that is a burden you would bring to one of your colleagues in only the most extreme situations.

I ask you to consider, is this circumstance in terms of accepting a subcommittee report that was generated in good faith, in honest and open dialogue, worthy of calling into question and jeopardizing a process that, quite frankly, you may know better than each of us here has heretofore worked well?

People given a mandate by their caucus colleagues discharge that responsibility in good faith and the goodwill of all members. I would simply say that to begin to abandon that at this point in time on something of this nature, which after all is a procedural matter, would be, I think, a grave mistake, not only for the moment here and not only for this committee but for the basic ingredient of making this place work, and this place does not work if there is not an understanding of honour and integrity and of people's word. It is fundamental to the process. Trust is something that cannot be shaved around the edges. It is either there or it is not.


Mr Abel has that reputation. He functions well as a result of that, I presume within his caucus as well as without. To call into question the commitments he made in good faith on behalf of his colleagues at this point begins to shave it around the edges. When you open the door a little bit, I think we are in a very serious -- I understand you think that this is part of political posturing. I think it goes much beyond the context of Bill 121. It goes much beyond the context of the standing committee on general government. It goes beyond some very fundamental principles.

The minister is a veteran of this place, was here long before I ever came here and she knows how essential that is, particularly when you are in a position of opposition. The one thing that makes this place work is the goodwill that can be engendered, in spite of the difficulties that must be overcome from time to time for that to happen. When you scrape down to the bottom of it there has to be that thread. If you start to snip away at it now, I think that you leave yourself --

Hon Ms Gigantes: It works both ways, Carman.

Mr McClelland: I understand that, but I think what we have here is a situation that is very plain. We have had three people come together and come to a consensus and now you are saying, "Hey, all bets are off." I think it is a really dangerous precedent, not only for here, but across the board in this place.

The Chair: I continue to run a list. Mr Mammoliti, Mr Turnbull, Mr Bisson and Mrs O'Neill.

Mr Mammoliti: I wanted to just make sure the mike did not come on too early, because if it came on too early somebody would pick on the person who is running the mikes.

First of all, let me say I am glad to be back. I missed this morning and --

Ms Poole: We missed you, George.

Mr Mammoliti: Yes, I know. I understand there was a pretty healthy discussion this morning. I can see that there is some healthy discussion at this point as well. Even though it is emotional and even though some people are taking it personally, I think it is healthy. I think we are dragging on a little too long, but I think it is healthy.

I wanted to say thank you for caring about my colleague Mr Abel, but I think Mr Abel feels comfortable. Mr Abel will tell me if I am wrong; he has in the past. In terms of the subcommittee making recommendations, the subcommittee knows it has to come to this committee and we discuss and we debate. If we do not agree with the recommendation, I am sure there are precedents in the past that we could use perhaps to argue our point -- you are blaming us, so our point. I am sure that in the past a committee has overruled a subcommittee. I am willing to bet that.

The Chair: Mr Mammoliti, just to be helpful, we are talking about a motion to table --

Mr Mammoliti: Yes, I realize that. I am getting to that, Mr Chair. That is why I agree with Mr Abel's motion, in that perhaps because we are wasting so much time and because so many of the committee members are being emotional and perhaps need that brisk walk I was talking about earlier, it may be wise to carry through the motion and to end the debate.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Mr Mammoliti has made the point that we are emotional. I think we are quite dispassionate about this.

The Chair: That is not really a point of order, Ms Poole.

Mr Mammoliti: That is irrelevant, Mr Chair. I saw some emotion. I saw some name-calling as well.

Ms Poole: Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.

Mr Mammoliti: There you go. It is typical. But I do not want to get them any more upset than they are. I do not know what they are capable of.

Mr Chair, when I put my hand up originally I had planned -- because I was so concerned about the length of the debate, I wanted to call the question. I have changed my mind since. I will not call the question because I see that there are two other people who want to speak.

The Chair: Three, actually.

Mr Mammoliti: Three. I think we should give them that opportunity, but at the same time warn them and say that I agree with Ms Poole and that we are wasting time and that we could be going to regular business, which is clause-by-clause. We hear argument from the other side saying we are wasting too much time, and on the other hand they just want to keep talking. So I would like to put that warning out to the next speakers.

Other than that, Mr Chair, I will just leave it to Mr Turnbull who is next on the list. I am sure Mr Turnbull will not be as emotional as usual and will not be as lengthy. I am hoping he will not be as lengthy and we can get on with this.

Mr Turnbull: There can be no doubt about the fact that during both Bill 4 and Bill 121 there has been a great deal of controversy and, indeed I would say, a degree of animosity within this committee. But in all honesty I cannot say that has carried over to the subcommittee, which I have been on. Much as I may object to the government and its attitudes, I cannot say I have ever objected to anything Mr Abel has done in the subcommittee. He has always been very straightforward and discussed it and had an open mind. That was the way in which he approached the subcommittee meeting. I absolutely object to the way his own party is hanging him out to dry because --


Mr Turnbull: Don, I am honestly sorry that the question was put by Mr McClelland to you as to what new information you had which made you change your mind and that you did not respond to that question.

The Chair: Through the Chair, please.

Mr Turnbull: Mr Chair, it is a very unpleasant situation to put him in. He is a member of the government. He has to toe the line. It is quite clear that we had the discussions as to why we wanted this length of time for clause-by-clause. I will once again, through you, Mr Chair, to the minister, remind her that during the Bill 4 hearings, at the time they brought in closure, in great detail the previous minister committed: "Oh, don't worry about the fact that we're using closure. We're going to give you full discussion of the permanent legislation once we get this emergency legislation through."

There is still better than a year to go on Bill 4, so there is no emergency on this. The House does not sit again until March, so it is not a question of getting this bill through. Given the degree of economic mayhem this bill is causing, it is appropriate that each clause be studied in detail and get full public scrutiny. By asking that this question be tabled, it is quite apparent the reason is that they want to move it out of the public eye, because we are now on television, where the public can see that this is a government that committed to open government and is now reneging on those commitments and indeed is putting its own subcommittee member in a very awkward position. Either he votes against his own people and takes the punishment, and we know what this government metes out to people who do not toe the line, or, alternatively, he is seen to have violated an agreement that has been made.

I unfortunately do not have the depth of experience my colleague Mr McClelland has because this is the first Parliament I have sat in, but it does seem inappropriate and you have to question why you have subcommittees at all. Does this augur for the future that the government is in favour of getting rid of the subcommittee process?

Mr McClelland: David, it is not funny.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Oh, we need permission to laugh now, do we? Good heavens.


Mr Bisson: I come into this meeting at a time when the committee is in much disarray, to say the least, for reasons I imagine the opposition feels are justified and for which the government side feels justified as well. It is each other's role when in opposition to oppose. It is something we get paid for, and it serves a useful process, and that is exactly what is happening here today. Opposition is opposing a move on the part of the government that is --

Mr Turnbull: No, we are asking you to keep your agreement.

Mr Bisson: Mr Turnbull, I do have the floor.

It is the job of the opposition to oppose, and that is what they are constituted to do in this Legislative Assembly. I respect that. The only point I would like to make is that when addressing some of the questions that are before us, some of the verbiage, to say the least, is quite inflammatory, and I would ask the members of the opposition to keep that in mind when raising their points. It is quite hard to sit here and keep some amount of composure when members on the other side are using fairly strong language and fairly strong terms and references by which they treat this side of the government.

I would argue with the comments Mr Turnbull made. This government is a government that said, "Yes, we will consult." Why are there amendments to this bill? It is exactly because of that. We are not a government that is inflexible. We said that from the beginning. If a situation arises that we need to respond to, we will respond to it. I think that is just due process, and I think it is about time that we tried to take an approach to government that is somewhat different, not an inflexible style by which we are not able to go on with the business we have in this House.

Ms Poole mentioned a little while ago that we seem to be wasting time. Let's get on with the business that the people of Ontario have put us here to do. Let's hope we take that advice and we decide to vote on this.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Mr Chairman, you were a part of this committee -- and I think several other members -- last January. I think you remember that, unfortunately, I had a very strong reaction at the very first meeting of this committee in January 1991. The reason was very similar to today. We had all gone away on our winter vacations thinking we knew what was going to happen -- or winter holiday at home, basically; I am not talking about going south. We had been told that we were going to have -- and the weeks may not be exact in these numbers; I think it was five weeks at that point. Then we got back into the very first meeting of this committee and we were told, no, that Bill 4 was going to be dealt with differently. We were going to have three weeks and we were not going to be the only show. We were going to have another show in the province, with the parliamentary assistant and others going across the province at the same time. I think those of us who were here that day will recollect that it was a very difficult meeting. There were recesses -- many recesses -- requested on behalf of the government members.

This is what causes the difficulty in this particular session of Parliament. We are under one impression. We, those of us who are whips and who have been whips and on subcommittees and other duties we have around here, know how this place operates. We know that people make decisions based on other decisions -- compromises -- and many people around here have talked about how democracy works. If these are all-party committees, then all parties should be basically listened to and a consensus reached. For the most part, in this Legislature, in my experience, that has happened through the subcommittee process.

As I say, I have not experienced anything like that meeting last January or like today in all the time I have sat. I know that is not a long time but I really cannot understand how the government members expect us to come into a meeting knowing one thing, having been guaranteed by the leaders in our own party that this is the basis upon which we will be working -- we all understand this fully. In fact, often the government members are pressuring our House leaders and our leaders: "Have you caucused yet? What have you caucused?" These are the kinds of things we talk about in caucus, the things and agreements that have been made and why they have been made. Then all of a sudden those of us who have been well briefed, those who need to be briefed on these issues, come in and find the whole world has changed. Well, this is not the way to make things happen.

Bill 4 was a retroactive bill. We could not understand the real hurry there either, and we certainly, as has been expressed by other colleagues, cannot understand the hurry here, because we know there are transitional periods and everything attached to Bill 121. So those are the reasons that the members on this side are having difficulty. It has nothing to do with the integrity of the members of the subcommittee who, as I say, I have worked with, and worked with well. But it is really unfortunate when we get into the public forum of the committee. Mind you, the meeting on Bill 4 was asked and requested to be in closed session, which was another difficulty. I find the whole thing unique and somewhat absurd, and think it is not leading towards a good operation of this committee, which, as I say, is my first really bad experience at Queen's Park.

Ms Poole: I have two questions which I think might help put this in perspective. The first question, which I will put through you, Mr Chair, is to what specific date are you going to table this motion? Are you tabling it indefinitely so it will never be reached again, or are we going to deal with it next Thursday morning, at which time it is extremely late to give it to the House leaders to denote the wishes of the committee? That is the first question I have: To what date are we going to table it?

The Vice-Chair: I will simply ask Mr Abel if he wants to amend his motion, or if there is, in fact, a date in mind.

Mr Abel: I must admit that my wording, "for future consideration," is really quite broad. The intention was just to sit down and reassess our recommendation to the master committee. I really do not know how long that would take.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Abel, for purposes of clarity, when you say, "We want to reassess it," so it is clear for the record, are you speaking of the committee as a whole?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Not recess -- reassess.

The Vice-Chair: Reassess. Are you speaking about the committee as a whole or the subcommittee, when you say "we"?

Mr Abel: I am making reference to the subcommittee.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, thank you.

Ms Poole: Rather than continue to debate this for the next hour, would it be appropriate -- and I am willing to make a motion to this effect -- for the committee to recess for 10 minutes to try to see if we can resolve this and settle it to the satisfaction of all parties? If the committee is not willing to recess, then we will have to continue debating it.

The Vice-Chair: On a point of procedure, Ms Poole: Mr Abel does have a motion on the floor and that must be dealt with in one of a few ways. One of them of course could be for him to withdraw it at the present time.

Interjection: If there is agreement to recess.

The Vice-Chair: We ought to have unanimous consent to recess.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is what she is asking.

Ms Poole: Actually, the suggestion has come from one of the government members, that we do recess to try to iron this out.

The Vice-Chair: May I take it that we have unanimous agreement for that?

Mrs Marland: Not until I get one more piece of information in order to be able to discuss it, if we are going to recess.

The Vice-Chair: Then we do not have unanimous consent, and we will continue.

Ms Poole, do you want to defer to Mrs Marland?

Ms Poole: I will defer to Mrs Marland, so she can make her one point, and then perhaps I could bring the motion again.

Mrs Marland: My understanding of Mr Abel's motion -- and maybe the clerk could read his motion. Do you have it in writing?

Clerk of the Committee: It is a standard motion for postponement. Mr Abel moved that further consideration of the report of the subcommittee be postponed.


Mrs Marland: "Postponed." There is no point in recessing for 10 minutes to discuss a motion that has no dates, no direction at all. If Mr Abel is suggesting that the report of the subcommittee be postponed until the subcommittee meets again, I guess that is something we need to know before we know what to discuss. Is that what you are proposing? I ask through the Chair.

The Vice-Chair: I can ask Mr Abel. Might I say parenthetically that perhaps as a product of the recess, some clarification or amendment to the motion may be forthcoming. Mr Abel, if you would care to respond.

Mr Abel: Just in reference to the motion that was read back, I believe it was "postponed for further consideration." I think that is important, because it does indicate that we are not trying to put it off indefinitely. As I said earlier, it became very disruptive very quickly. I thought if we could have some further time to consider what the recommendation was it would help speed the process along.

The Vice-Chair: Just for the record, Mr Abel, the motion as written and read back to you did indicate the phrase "for further consideration," which happens to be at the front of the motion rather than at the tail-end of the motion. Just so that you are satisfied.

Mr Abel: I did not hear that part, I am sorry. Perhaps the clerk can read it back again. This is a problem when we do not submit them in writing.

The Vice-Chair: You can rest assured that it did, in my view, reflect your desire.

Mrs Marland: Yes, it is a problem when motions are on the floor.

The Vice-Chair: Perhaps we can have the clerk read it for Mr Abel and for all of us.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, we are sitting here discussing a motion and we do not have a copy of it.

The Vice-Chair: The clerk will read it so that we can pay attention to the motion on the floor. If we could all listen carefully it might assist us all.

The Clerk of the Committee: I did take some editorial licence with the motion so that it is written in the standard form of a motion for postponement:

"That further consideration of the report of the subcommittee be postponed."

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I am not interested in recessing for 10 minutes unless I know what it is that the government is postponing this report for, because if I am going to go and discuss it with my House leader and my whip, I certainly need to know a little bit more about what is behind the postponement. For example, if the postponement is for further discussion with the subcommittee, that would be a total laugh almost. The subcommittee, as far as this committee is concerned, has now been totally demolished and so I am putting on the record my concerns.

When we have a member of the government side of this committee who sits here and talks about the language of this meeting this afternoon being inflammatory, and his own Premier refers to the previous Premier as a liar, if we are really going to talk about what is going on here and who is inflammatory, we had better be very careful.

I really find it very interesting when a member of the government panel on this committee tells me what my job is. He said my job in opposition was to oppose. Well that member has not sat in opposition, so he does not know what the job is of opposition, and he certainly is not going to tell me what my job is.

This whole debate revolves around whether we sit for one week, two weeks, three or four weeks in January and February to deal with this bill, and as has been said, the bill cannot be passed until the House resumes anyway, which I think is about March 19. I think we are wasting a great deal of time in this discussion.

The other thing is, although I was not a member of this committee when this committee dealt with Bill 4, it was my understanding that Bill 4 was put in place with the assurance that the next rent control legislation that came from Bob Rae's socialist government would be a piece of legislation for which there would be a large amount of time allocated for its process.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I did yield the floor to Mrs Marland to have one point of clarification. My understanding was that the floor would then revert to me. I think it has gone far beyond a point of clarification at this stage.

Mrs Marland: All right. I will wait until my turn then.

Ms Poole: I called the question and I asked for 20 minutes to obtain all members of our committee to vote.

The Vice-Chair: You have moved the question be now put with respect to? It would have to be the motion.


Ms Poole: To Mr Abel's motion.

The Vice-Chair: Shall the question be now put?

Ms Poole: Yes.

Clerk of the Committee: She has asked for a 20-minute recess.

The Vice-Chair: A 20-minute recess. The committee is now recessed until 5:35.

The committee recessed at 1716.


The Chair: The committee is now back in session. I will now put the question. Shall the question now be put? All those in favour?

Mrs Marland: I am just wondering, have you two spoken to each other since you spoke to your House leaders?

Mr Abel: Yes, we have.

Mrs Marland: So do you think I might be part of that now, since I spoke to my House leader, or are we going to do it all here in the open?

Ms Poole: I know we have a vote on the floor right now. If I could make one comment, because I think it might result in Mr Abel's withdrawing his motion.

The Chair: There appears to be unanimous agreement, at least momentarily, that we will not put the question.

Mr Bisson: Quick, grab it while it is hot.

Ms Poole: Mr Abel and I have talked with the government House leader and explained the difficulty on the committee, and the fact that some of us felt it was interference in the committee business to say we could not go ahead and pass the steering committee report.

The government House leader has agreed that we should just go ahead and take a vote on whether the steering committee's report should be adopted, with the proviso that we add the words "subject to the negotiations of the House leaders and whips," which is what always happens anyway. So I think it should not cause offence to any members here. Basically what that would mean is the steering committee's report would be adopted by this committee. It would go forward to the whips and the House leaders and, as traditionally happens, they would make the final decision as to the amount of time this committee would be allocated so we do not prejudice our interests, the House leaders do not prejudice their interests and I think it gets us out of this impasse.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: How traditional and logical.

Mr Turnbull: I just want to say that this is the kind of silly face-saving little agreement the public watch and say, "What kind of nonsense is this?" You either have an agreement or you do not. It is quite clear that it is always up to the House leaders and the whips to finally decide the time allocation. It is not up the committee. It was the question of a recommendation from a committee.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, is Mr Abel going to withdraw his postponement motion and are we going to deal with the report? I need to know that before I make a few comments.

The Chair: Maybe we could have Mr Abel comment.

Mr Abel: I would like to have that opportunity very much. Initially, the motion was tabled because it appeared that things were becoming disruptive. Things became worse with the motion.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: A very good assessment of this afternoon.

Mr Abel: It would appear now that we are back to square one. Regarding some of the comments that were made, I do not feel there was any violation of the code of ethics with this motion being made. I do not think that was backtracking, and I did not think that the motion was inappropriate either. I did not abandon my position as a member of the subcommittee. It took a lot of hard work to come up with that particular agreement. However, there were some obvious concerns when we began to debate it. Thus came the motion.

We all know that it is going to the House leaders and to the whips. It is only a recommendation to those parties. With much consideration given, with a bit of discussion with Mrs Marland, Ms Poole and the three House leaders involved in order to get on with the business at hand, I am prepared to withdraw the motion. However, we want it clear to all those members who are not quite sure or comfortable that our original recommendation will be subject to negotiation.

So that it is clear to everybody and on the record, I withdraw the motion, and of course we will sit and wait for the final directives based on the decisions of the whips and the three House leaders.

The Chair: I think the procedure would be here that I need Ms Poole to withdraw her motion to put the question, then Mr Abel to withdraw his motion to table. Is that suitable to the committee?

Mrs Marland: I think we need unanimous consent to do that.

Clerk of the Committee: No.

Ms Poole: I withdraw my motion, Mr Chair.

Mr Abel: Mr Chair, I withdraw my motion.

The Chair: Fine. Now we are back to adopting the subcommittee's report.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: What a wonderful afternoon.

The Chair: Would someone move the adoption of the report from the subcommittee with the appropriate amendment?

Mr Abel: I will.

The Chair: Mr Abel has moved --

Mrs Marland: I want to hear him speak because there is nothing on the Hansard right now.

Mr Abel: I thought I did speak. I move that we adopt the subcommittee's report, as amended.

Mrs Marland: I see.

The Chair: Mrs Marland, you can have the floor.

Mrs Marland: Thank you. Can I be clear then that the subcommittee report that Mr Abel is moving is the one that is identified over your signature on a letter to the government House leader on December 3, 1991, with the addition that it is understood that the request for three weeks during the adjournment will be negotiated by the House leaders and whips. Is that correct?

The Chair: That is correct.

Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: That was easy.

Ms Poole: And unanimous, Mr Chair.

Mr Mammoliti: Mr Chairman, may I make a comment?

The Chair: Yes.

Interjection: No.

Mr Turnbull: Do not do it to yourself again.

Mr Mammoliti: I think it is worth while. I am sure that you will want to hear this. We have learned a valuable lesson here. This is a comment. If this should happen again perhaps it may be in our best interest to take a 10-minute break and look for the House leaders instead of our calling each other names and going crazy all afternoon. I was willing to put it down as a motion. Just a suggestion: In the future, let's think before we start calling each other names.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mammoliti.

Mr Abel: I would just like to make one short comment. I do realize it was a very trying afternoon. We finally did come to an agreement. But the reason we came to this agreement and got this matter ironed out is due to the co-operation of Ms Poole and Mrs Marland. I just want to show them my appreciation by saying, thank you both for helping us get through this mess.

Mr Winninger: What about Mr Winninger? He courted the disaster in the first place.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Abel. Mrs Poole.

Mr Turnbull: I would like to thank my parents.

The Chair: Order.

Ms Poole: On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I would like to thank Mr Abel for trying to facilitate this and I think we should give Christmas greetings at this time when we have all this goodwill.

Mr Turnbull: What a love-in.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: This is silly.

The Chair: Thank you. Let's return to the clause-by-clause review of the bill. I believe we are on subsection 13(4) and Mrs Marland has the floor.

Mrs Marland: I am relinquishing the floor to my colleague.

Mr Turnbull: Mr Chair, in view of the hour and the rather time-wasting efforts we have had and the move we have engendered by it, I would suggest that it be more appropriate to adjourn for the night. We have only got 10 more minutes so I move adjournment.

The Chair: Mr Turnbull has moved adjournment. All those in favour?

Mr Turnbull: Excuse me, Mr Chair. If you want to vote on that, I would ask for a 20-minute recess to consult.

The Chair: A 20-minute recess has been requested by Mr Turnbull.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You do that on an adjournment motion?

The Chair: Under the circumstances, the committee will meet again next Thursday morning at 10 o'clock. The committee is adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1749.