Thursday 31 October 1991

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


Chair: Mancini, Remo (Essex South L)

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


Poole, Dianne (Eglinton) for Mr Scott

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel) for Mr Turnbull

Winninger, David (London South NDP) for Mr Drainville

Also taking part:

Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West L)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC)

Clerk: Deller, Deborah

Staff: Richmond, Jerry, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1011 in room 151.


Resuming consideration of Bill 121, An Act to revise the Law related to Residential Rent Regulation.

Suite de l'étude du projet de loi 121, Loi révisant les lois relatives à la réglementation des loyers d'habitation.

The Vice-Chair: The purpose of this meeting this morning is consideration of Bill 121. By agreement of all three parties, this morning we will have the tabling of the amendments by all three parties.

Ms Harrington: I believe you have the government amendments.

Ms Poole: On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I would like to table our amendments, which, as you can see, are quite substantial. I would mention that there is one further amendment we plan to table in the near future which relates to reinstating, expanding and strengthening the Residential Rental Standards Board. Due to the fact that legislative counsel had some more work to do on that one it is not in this package but will be tabled shortly.

Mr Turnbull: We have already tabled the amendments, which are being distributed now. I do apologize that there were some problems with the photocopying device and consequently there may be a few pages where all of the text is not clear. We will have clearer copies very shortly.

The Vice-Chair: That being the purpose of the meeting, would someone move adjournment until 3:30?

The committee recessed at 1012.

The committee resumed at 1540.

The Vice-Chair: The business of this afternoon, by all-party agreement, is that the Minister of Housing will make some remarks concerning the amendments to Bill 121, followed by comments from the two opposition critics. The remarks, by agreement, have been restricted to no more than 20 minutes. I would like to welcome the Minister of Housing to the committee and ask her if she might commence her remarks.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I would be delighted. I promise I will not reach anywhere near 20 minutes. As we begin the clause-by-clause review of Bill 121, I would like to introduce a number of amendments to the legislation on behalf of the government. These were circulated earlier in the day to opposition critics. I want to stress that none of these amendments seeks to alter the central principles of Bill 121.

The government considers the tenant protection measures in Bill 121 to be of paramount importance. In particular, it is crucial that tenants across Ontario know that legislation is in place limiting increases in their maximum rent to the guideline plus 3% and that tenants know their landlord can only obtain such a rent increase by meeting strict criteria for necessary capital repairs. Tenants must be protected from the 15%, 20% and even 50% rent increases which occurred too widely in the past. At the same time, we must ensure that the rental housing stock in Ontario is preserved and maintained for the future.

Most of the amendments I am proposing today are technical in nature. The stack looks pretty thick, but most are technical in nature. Many deal with drafting issues and they will be explained by staff of the Ministry of Housing in the days ahead.

At this point I would like to draw your attention to a few amendments which are being proposed in response to issues raised by landlords and tenants during public hearings this year; specifically, first, the issue of the rent control guideline. Bill 121 proposes that two guidelines be calculated each year, one for large buildings and another for small buildings. During public hearings this summer it became apparent that both landlords and tenants viewed the concept of two guidelines as confusing and unsupportable. Therefore, in response I am proposing an amendment to create one rent control guideline each year which will apply to all rental buildings in the province, regardless of size.

On the issue of capital expenditures, I am proposing several amendments which will be of interest to this committee. The first deals with the carry-forward provisions. Bill 121 allows a landlord to apply for a rent increase above the guideline to cover the cost of major repairs to a building. The rent increase which results from major repairs is limited to the guideline plus 3%. If the major repair results in an increase that is greater than 3%, some of this can be carried forward into rent increases in future years. Bill 121 allows the landlords of large buildings to carry forward for one year and landlords of small buildings to carry forward for two years. I am proposing an amendment today which will allow all landlords to carry forward for two years.

The extension of the carry-forward period was presented to this committee during public hearings as a major and important amendment desired by landlord organizations. I am willing to allow the two-year carry-forward for all buildings in order to give Bill 121 greater capacity to help ensure the repair and preservation of our rental housing stock. I want to stress that this applies to necessary repairs which involve the structure of the building, major health and safety standards, access for disabled persons or increased energy conservation. The landlord must prove that the repairs are necessary and that they are not the result of neglect.

We have met with landlords throughout this past year, we have listened to their concerns and we have responded to those concerns. At the same time, it is clear to me that there are tenant concerns with capital expenditures which are not fully addressed in Bill 121. I refer here to costs no longer borne. By costs no longer borne I mean an automatic reduction in the rent for tenants when a capital improvement has been paid for. This was a crucial change to Bill 121 requested by many tenants who appeared before this legislative committee during the summer. We are responding to their concerns with amendments to introduce a cost no longer borne system to rent control.

Bill 121 allows a landlord to obtain a rent increase of 3% above the guideline to cover the cost of a major repair. The costs no longer borne provision I am introducing means that the rent increase above the guideline which is associated with a specific capital improvement will be withdrawn when the capital repair is paid for. It means that the portion of the tenant's rent which is paying for the capital improvement will not be compounded each year by guideline rent increases. Tenants will only have to pay for the cost of a major repair to the building; they will no longer have to pay for the repair several times over. The guideline will apply only to the base rent. The portion of the rent paying for a specific capital improvement will be kept separate and will be automatically withdrawn from the rent at the end of the useful life of the repair. I believe this costs no longer borne provision will result in a system which is much fairer to tenants.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a great many other technical amendments to Bill 121. We have provided a letter to committee members that sets out all the amendments, and each is annotated to assist members of the committee and the public. I wanted to highlight certain key amendments that came out of the very useful public hearing process carried out by this committee and to thank all committee members for the work they have done with this legislation.

Ms Poole: Prior to commenting on the minister's remarks, I would like to go over with members the highlights of the Liberal amendments tabled this morning. There were 10 key areas, as well as many other substantive amendments which dealt with issues such as coercion, hearings and how they are to be conducted, provision of transcripts and many areas like that, but first I would like to highlight the 10 key areas.

First, we ask for reinstatement of an independent, arm's-length appeal board. All members who sat on the committee during the general government hearings heard time and time again from both tenant and landlord groups that this was a key component they wanted to see in the rent control legislation. I am very disappointed that there is no element of that in the minister's amendments.

Second, we are asking for reinstatement, expansion and strengthening of the Residential Rental Standards Board to ensure compliance with work orders in a timely and fair way.

Third, we are proposing a green amendment to encourage energy conservation and energy efficiency in apartment buildings. Because there was some doubt expressed about how we could do this without everything being considered energy-efficient and energy-conservation oriented, we did put in a provision that there would have to be approval by the Ministry of Energy prior to getting consideration.

Fourth, automatic hearings unless all parties agree to administrative review: This, quite frankly, was a backup amendment. If the minister had reconsidered her position and had an arm's-length, independent appeal board, I would feel much less strongly about having to have an automatic hearing, but if this is landlords' and tenants' only kick at the can, then they should be entitled to that hearing. It is the least we can do.

Fifth, elimination of the confusing double guideline for annual rent increases: As the minister mentioned, this came up constantly. The system put forward by the minister -- I should say the ministry, as it was a different minister at the time -- did not make any sense. Again, tenants and landlords agreed on this. Our proposal is somewhat different from the minister's in that we are suggesting that there be one annual guideline, that it be based on 60% of the rent control index and that non-eligible capital, ie, necessary capital, and eligible capital be separated.

The sixth provision is inclusion of non-profit housing under rent control, for two reasons: first, so the public sector would be operating on the same wavelength, the same playing field, as the private sector; and second, so that tenants in non-profit housing can have the same rights and protection as private sector tenants.


The seventh issue is one on which the government and the Liberal opposition appear to agree. Our amendments are quite similar: A costs-no-longer-borne provision ensuring that tenants do not continue to pay for capital repairs in their rents after the items have been paid off. This is something we have been pressing for for some time. We introduced an amendment under Bill 4. We urged the minister to consider this amendment, so we are pleased to see that one in there.

The eighth amendment is to amend the controversial search and seizure provisions so that the director would initiate action if there are "reasonable and probable grounds that the act had been violated."

Ninth, to amend the carry-forward provisions so that landlords can spread the cost of their repairs over several years. On the surface it may appear that this is the second instance out of our 10 amendments where the opposition and the government have a similar amendment, but there is quite a difference. The Liberal caucus has recognized that there are unique situations where there should be a further carryover.

I will give you several examples. One is with older housing stock, 30 years or older, which needs significant repairs done and where three years is simply not enough of a total carry-forward to make the job work. The other example which I could give you is concrete restoration, where there are enormous costs involved. If the legislation remains in the present form, as suggested by the minister, what will happen is that tenants will have concrete restoration, underground parking garage repairs, going on for years and years because they will not be done at one time. I do not think that benefits either tenants or landlords.

The 10th amendment is to amend the title to be the Rent Review Act instead of the Rent Control Act, as this is not the real rent control the New Democrats promised and I do not think they should be trying to hide behind that name. Calling it rent control does not make it rent control.

On second reading on this bill our caucus indicated that we supported a number of things in principle. One was that there was a continuation of the cost pass-through mechanism we felt was important in preserving our aging housing stock. The second was that it was a continuation of the rent review system. Government members may try to deny that, as they will, but this act has 130 provisions, 186 amendments, and I can tell you that this is a very convoluted system, far more convoluted than the Residential Rent Regulation Act, which this party, the NDP, constantly criticized as being too complex, that tenants and small landlords could not understand it. I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, by the time you are through with this rent review legislation, nobody will be able to comprehend it.

I would like to comment for a couple of minutes on some of the minister's remarks. First of all, I can say that I am extremely disappointed with the amendments put forward by the government -- 99 amendments. The minister has stated clearly in her own remarks that most of them are of a technical nature, again adding to the lack of understanding by tenants and small landlords in particular and adding to the complexity.

There were only three amendments substantive enough, in the minister's view, to put in her press release. One of those amendments, that dealing with the guideline, would seem on the surface of it, at least to the media and to those who were not familiar with what exactly her amendment said, to imply that there was a tremendous victory by landlords. I do not think landlords are going to feel that way and I am not sure tenants feel that the fact that you have eliminated the confusing double guideline is going to be the heart and soul of what they wanted to see in this legislation.

One thing I have concluded after reading through the government amendments today is that the minister spent far more time listening to the ministry lawyers than she did to the tenants and landlords who appeared at our public hearings. I consider the government amendments that came out of that hearing process to be carrying on nothing more than a charade. The major recommendations by tenant and landlord groups were not carried forward. They are not in this legislation. I have mentioned a number of them in our amendments that do not appear, even though there was a consensus by tenants and landlords that they were what they wanted to see.

I guess it comes down to the fact that the government, from day one, has tried to rush through rent legislation without proper planning, without proper study and without proper consultation. It became a catch-22 situation. To score quick political points, they introduced Bill 4 after so much outrage from the landlord community, the building trades, from the financial centres and from many people across this province who felt the legislation was unfair and draconian.

The previous minister -- I should be very clear -- in a meeting I attended with tenants and landlords, and I think a couple of the people in this room were there, when urged by the tenants at that meeting to slow down the long-term rent plans, to put more study, more consultation into it, because this is a big project, it is complex legislation, his answer was that Bill 4 has created so much dislocation, so many problems of unemployment in the construction area, so much hostility by the landlords, "We have to rush through the long-term legislation because it's the only way we can have peace in the kingdom."

There is no peace in the kingdom, because the hasty, sloppy job is part of the reason why we have 130 clauses and 186 amendments. I guess the bottom line is that there are going to be many people disappointed with what is coming forward. Maybe I am jumping the gun. Maybe the minister will look at our amendments -- I can tell you that they are substantive amendments -- and maybe she will agree that a number of them, some of them, many of them, are reasonable and incorporate them, in which case I shall issue her a public apology and my thanks for being very reasonable on this issue. But the last year has not given me much hope in this regard.

I was hoping to be able to amend Bill 121 with all its flaws and to be able to go to my caucus and say, "I think we should support this legislation, notwithstanding the fact the government brought it in, notwithstanding that it is the NDP." I was prepared to do that. But if this government is not prepared to listen to what the people out there are saying, then I cannot see a way I can recommend that as Housing critic to the Liberal caucus. I guess when we start clause-by-clause next week we will find that the proof is in the pudding.

It is going to be very difficult to meet the minister's time frame, given the fact that she and her predecessor have said they want this legislation passed by the end of the year. After two months of stalling, when we could have been meeting as a committee and going through clause-by-clause, now we are in the unenviable position where we have approximately six weeks to take this through committee, through the committee of the whole House doing clause-by-clause on 130 clauses and 186 amendments, and give third reading prior to the House rising at Christmas. That is one of the answers we will be asking the minister for: Is her time frame affected? If not, is she going to be bringing in closure, which would be the epitome of arrogance?

To bring in closure after it was the government which week after week would not meet in committee when we could have been well along the way to a clause-by-clause analysis is the epitome of arrogance. I hope again that I am wrong. I am hoping that the minister will say, "No, we will take whatever time is necessary to make sure this bill is reasonable."

Those are my comments. I am not sure I can honestly say I look forward to working as part of this group for the clause-by-clause, because I am not overly optimistic about what the result will be.


Mrs Marland: As you are aware, Mr Chairman, I am newly appointed in this Housing portfolio for our Progressive Conservative caucus.

The Vice-Chair: We offer our congratulations.

Mrs Marland: I look forward to working with this committee in a constructive fashion to try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. If this bill requires this number of amendments by all three parties, then I think it is a pretty significant indication about the drafting of the bill, the inherent flaws in the bill and the lack of meaningful direction.

I do not think I have ever seen a bill brought to this Legislature with 91 government amendments to it. If it is that bad, it begs the question, why is it not withdrawn and totally redrafted? If that were the case, it might even have been able to reduce the number of amendments by our caucus and the Liberal caucus.

Having said that, I also want to say at the outset that I would like to publicly thank the previous Housing critic, the Housing spokesperson for our caucus, Mr David Tilson, the member for Dufferin-Peel, who did sit with you throughout the public hearings and will be sitting with us when we get into the clause-by-clause work next week. Mr Tilson has done a superb job, is very knowledgeable on this legislation and I know will continue to serve the people both in his riding and in Ontario by his excellent representation on this committee and his knowledge of this legislation.

Once again, this government has failed to recognize the needs of the rental housing industry. The amendments tabled here today leave no doubt in my mind that the government has been very selective in what it has actually heard of the presentations to it during the last 14 months.

While acknowledging that in order to have a simpler and fairer system one guideline is the most beneficial, they have still failed to recognize that the rent control guideline set at 55% is adequate only for those complexes constructed after 1975. The older stock will still be penalized by a guideline set at 55%. Not even three years of carry-forward will be adequate to meet the costs of maintenance and repairs required for these buildings.

Most certainly it is encouraging to see that the minister has abandoned the notion of two separate guidelines for large and small buildings and has extended the carry-forward for all buildings to three years. Yet that is where their enlightenment has stopped. The selectivity they have shown in amending this legislation is astounding. The minister, by introducing the costs-no-longer-borne clause in the manner in which she has, added dramatically to the bureaucracy needed to administer this legislation.

In fact, for a piece of legislation which was to have been simpler and fairer, the minister has taken this government further and further away from this goal in a number of the amendments tabled today.

In 1989 it cost $40 million to administer the rent review system. Several weeks ago during estimates the minister informed us that the administration of this bill would have a mature cost of $33 million per year. I wonder how she can stand by those figures and tell us that the administrative costs for this legislation will be a decrease in comparison with the previous legislation.

I am sure the minister will defend herself by declaring that she has cut bureaucracy by eliminating an appeal process and the standards board. In my opinion, and that of many others, the minister has made the wrong choices in cutting bureaucracy. The manner in which costs no longer borne has been introduced will not only create a horrendous administrative backlog, but will also ensure that tenants will never be secure in knowing from year to year exactly what their rents will be.

As a result of this amendment, rents will fluctuate on a continual basis as old cost increases are dropped and new ones are factored in. While tenants are being protected from high increases, they are certainly not being protected from confusing fluctuations which I would humbly suggest will provide a personal budgetary nightmare for people on fixed incomes.

The minister has also failed to adequately assist those caught in the Bill 4 freeze. I can assure the minister that I will be introducing an amendment which will rectify this situation.

I am also alarmed that instead of correcting the automatic 2% dissolution in the amount which landlords will be allowed to carry forward, the minister has more firmly entrenched this punitive measure. Time and again it was pointed out that this clause seriously impeded a landlord's ability to undertake substantive capital repairs, yet this government has failed to hear that the maintenance standards of buildings would be seriously affected by this.

No attempt was made to address the concerns surrounding the elimination of the appeal process except to give the chief rent officer jurisdiction to review orders in section 89.

It also seems the government is in favour of retroactivity only in certain areas. They fail to extend to landlords the same options which they extend to tenants. The minister has ensured that even former tenants are now able to file for rent rebate in the incidence of discontinuance or reduction of service.

I was pleased to note, however, that the minister has considered the issue of work orders and timing. The amendments in this area are certainly required.

As well, I note with interest the change in terminology for rent penalties to "an order prohibiting a rent increase." Has the ministry finally realized that not all landlords need to be treated like criminals?

The final amendments I will touch upon today, which the minister has introduced, are to the section dealing with search and seizure. A cursory examination of these amendments indicates to me that the power given to inspectors in this section still far exceeds those granted in the RRRA. I hope the minister is open to further discussion and amendment in this area.

Having only had a few short hours to study the minister's amendments, that completes my comments for this time. I look forward to some very healthy, constructive discussion and debate on this bill in the coming weeks.


Mr Chairman, I would like to take a little further the comment of the member for Eglinton. I know this agenda today is just dealing with our statements, but as the minister will probably not be able to be with us every day -- I do not know what your schedule is, Madam Minister, but how do you see us being able to progress through these almost 200 amendments, and what is your proposed time schedule for this legislation? Do you see yourself invoking a closure motion at some point in order to meet a particular time line which your government hopes to achieve with third reading and final declaration of this bill?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Is it appropriate for me to respond?

The Vice-Chair: If you wish to respond, I think the committee would find that acceptable.

Hon Ms Gigantes: On the question of timing, it is our hope indeed to have the legislation passed by Christmas and certainly ready to swing into operation by April. That will give us time from the time of passage to the proclamation in April to make sure all the amendments that have been made can be incorporated into the procedures that will be prepared for the administration of the legislation.

If we were to go beyond Christmas, that would mean there would be a delay in implementation of the legislation. As you understand, that has implications, not just for tenants but for landlords who are interested in seeing those sections of the bill dealing with the transitional period between the pieces of legislation brought into effect. So I would remind you that there is good reason for us to proceed in an orderly way to try and deal with the legislation and have it ready for passage by Christmas.

On the second point, I think it is probably worth asking Colleen Parrish to say a word, Mr Chair, on the question of what we have been calling technical drafting amendments, because I think you will understand that this is a major piece of legislation. Certainly in my experience it is not at all off the norm to have a great many amendments that deal with fairly minor matters. They will not, I think, cause great debate. In fact, contrary to what was suggested by the Liberal critic, they will lead to clarity in the legislation. It is certainly our hope and intent to do that.

Ms Parrish: I would say two things. During the course of hearings over the summer months, a number of groups came forward with drafting and technical amendments to the bill including, for example, Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario and several legal aid clinics. Where possible, we tried to accommodate those amendments and, indeed, members of the standing committee commented that they found certain parts of the bill unclear. Many of the technical amendments were in response to people's points around how the bill was being drafted. They were fearful, for example, that certain calculations that we said were our policy intent would not, in fact, be supported by the courts. There was a concern that this was not clear or that was not clear.

We felt, under the circumstances, that wherever possible we would try to make those kinds of clarifying amendments, although I freely admit that it is sort of an occupational hazard when you are a lawyer that you see fascinating technical issues. But you try to keep those to a minimum, and many of these are genuinely trying to respond to concerns that people had, not about our policy as much as whether the drafting fulfilled our policy.

We recognize there are significant numbers of amendments and that sometimes makes it difficult for members of the committee to see the bill as an integrated whole. One thing we thought we would do that might be helpful to the committee is, at ministry expense, prepare a reprint of the bill with the amendments integrated directly into the text so that members of the committee can see what the bill would look like with the ministry amendments integrated directly into the text. That is sometimes done, as members probably know, as you are experienced legislators, with lengthy bills to see how everything works together as a whole. We are hoping that will be available next week to assist the committee. I know the clerks usually prepare a culmination of amendments as well.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland has about three minutes left in her time, and that is the time that we have been using. So, Mrs Marland, do you have anything further?

Mrs Marland: I do not have anything further. I am happy to give my three minutes to the Liberal critic.

Ms Poole: Thank you, Mrs Marland. I appreciate that.

There are two points. One, if the government is incorporating its amendments into the legislation in written form so it will be easy to understand -- I have seen this before and I have no problem with it, but if it is indicating any certainty that these are the only amendments that are going to be passed, perhaps we can include the Liberal and Conservative amendments at the same time so that we can truly work with an act which is reflecting what all three caucuses are looking to change. That will be one suggestion for you to mull over before next week.

The second point is, the minister has indicated that she has remained firm in her plans to pass this legislation by Christmas, which I cannot believe, but that is what she plans to do. I point out for the committee, that means five Thursdays before mid-December, two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, a total of 20 hours. That is if it does not even go back to the House till mid-December. What type of conversation can we have? If we are not going to discuss the tangible amendments to this bill, if it is just going to be a waste of our time, then I would prefer the minister right now, if not today, then next Thursday at the beginning of clause-by-clause, to tell us what amendments she is prepared to entertain and what she is not and save us all a whole pile of time, energy and frustration in going through a charade for the next five weeks and then having closure and the Liberal and Conservative amendments going down the tube. Save us all a lot of time.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Ms Poole. I think Mrs Marland's time has expired.

Minister, I would permit a response, if you wish.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will read with interest the proposed areas of amendment that have been suggested by the Liberal critic and the critic for the Conservative Party and see how close they might come to some of the ones we have been suggesting or whether they are suggesting areas of amendment which we would think useful, and I would be pleased to indicate that next week. That would be no problem at all.

I again suggest that to give full discussion to amendments that have been suggested in the areas where the two critics have suggested amendments, along with those we are proposing which are of a similar nature, of a substantive nature really, we could do a lot of discussing about those in the time that you have indicated, because there are not that many which are of a really substantive nature.

Ms Poole: Maybe not in your amendments, but they sure are in mine.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I agree that you have put forward amendments of substance. Do not read me wrong on that. But I think we will have plenty of time to discuss the subject area there in the time you have outlined as available for the committee to do its work, because, as I suggest, most of the amendments we are putting forward are going to be very cut-and-dried technical clarifications, drafting clarifications and matters of wording. They are not going to be questions of substance. As there is a good deal of overlap in the areas in which we are making some amendments, and either of the critics are suggesting amendments, obviously we are going to be dealing with areas of substance in a fairly limited number of the areas. I think the time we are considering now for our working committee is not too tight. I would very much hope we will be able to have good discussion around these areas. I do believe that is possible. I would certainly be glad to indicate which ideas that have been brought forward we might consider at this stage.


One other thing the Liberal critic has suggested, that in effect we be prepared to incorporate amendments to the bill in three versions, would delay printing of the bill. I do not know whether it has ever been done before. I have never seen it done before. But it would certainly delay printing of the bill with the large number of technical amendments and drafting amendments which we have suggested, because we would have to then wait for your drafting to come forward, and all that kind of thing. In fact, I do not understand it as well as Colleen would. Maybe you can help us out at this point.

The Vice-Chair: I think I have been most lenient in this discussion. My instructions from the subcommittee were just to allow statements from the two critics and from the minister. I think we have had a useful exchange.

Hon Ms Gigantes: But would it not be helpful to kind of clear up our procedures here?

The Vice-Chair: I can do things only with the unanimous consent of the committee.

Ms Poole: Agreed.

Mrs Marland: We agree. We might as well do it now while the minister is here.

The Vice-Chair: Fine.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Perhaps Colleen could make a comment on the bill-printing question.

Ms Parrish: I have to say that I have worked with reprinted bills several times. I have never seen one that had sort of, here is one section 20, and here is another section 20, and here is another section 20. To be blunt, I just do not think it would help understand the bill.

The other concern I have is that we need about four days to print, and I understand that not all of the amendments were tabled today, actually; there were still some amendments that were to come? Am I wrong?

Ms Poole: All except one.

Ms Parrish: That is also another consideration. I just want to be blunt that it be a practical way of reprinting the bill, especially as all of the amendments have to be translated into French.

Ms Poole: I have given the clerk a number of copies of an explanation of the Liberal amendments which may help you decipher the rationale and intent of the amendments, as long as members will be forbearing. There are four or five typographical errors, mainly because it was done at 7:30 this morning in quite a rush and we did not even have time to proof it. As long as you are being forbearing about that, we would be happy to provide you with it.

The other point I wish to make is that with 186 amendments, presupposing it took three minutes per amendment to read into the record and have discussions, that would be 10 hours of the committee time, half of the allocated time between now and mid-December, presupposing this committee still had involvement with this bill till mid-December. That is half our time allocated just to read it into the record. I would put that forward for the committee's information.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I certainly would be willing to try and check out the feasibility of having different versions of amendments printed in one legislative format, just to see whether it is technically possible and whether we can do it in time to be useful to this committee. I would be glad to report back on that.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for that undertaking.

Mrs Marland: I am getting a little concerned about wasting government money on what we are discussing right now. I think it would be helpful if with every set of amendments we have the explanation on that amendment. I know ours are done that way.

Ms Poole: I do not believe they are, actually. I do not believe there is anything on your amendments.

Mrs Marland: All right. I have a copy with what the impact of that amendment is on the intent of the bill or the section.

The Vice-Chair: Maybe you could be so good as to provide that to the committee.

Mrs Marland: What I am suggesting is, I am sure that all three caucuses have that, and rather than go to this expense that we are talking about, I think it makes more sense if we have the amendments in front of us and the definition or the description of what that change means. It is usually a sentence or a paragraph. If that is available, it makes sense for us to share that, if we want to try to expedite the process.

I just want to be sure, Madam Minister. I think I heard you very clearly that you want this bill passed before Christmas. Are you really saying that if we are not finished the amendments in our next five weeks of regular sittings, which is going to be somewhere between 20 and 25 hours -- if we got started at 3:30 and finished at 6, it is two and a half hours in the afternoon -- in order to have the bill passed, then the bill would just have to move to the House for third reading?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I have not attempted to lay out any kind of process here that would cut off avenues of work. If we start in and each of us can identify those amendments quickly for which there is no real need to have long debate, and then focus our attention on those areas of work where there is real substance involved and some legitimate contention, I think we can probably focus well enough to get it done. I do not want to suggest that "if this, then that," and "if not this, then not that," and so on at this stage. I think we should just set to it with a will and do our best to do the job.

Mrs Marland: I do have a copy of the explanation of the Liberal amendments. If we could have the same from the government --

The Vice-Chair: The government amendments have an explanation on the bottom of them.

Hon Ms Gigantes: On each page of the amendment there is an explanation of the amendment, and you will find it is easy therefore to tell if they are just drafting changes.

Mrs Marland: Okay. We will furnish ours the same way, and that would be helpful I think to everybody.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Do I understand then that we have agreement to move to a printed version of the bill with the amendments inserted, or do we want to proceed without that? We should make a decision.

Mrs Marland: If that is going to be an expensive process --

Hon Ms Gigantes: You see, once the bill is set up, the question of inserting the amendments I think is not a great deal of expense. These will be working documents that we would use.

Ms Poole: On that point, it would seem to me to make a lot of sense to do the pre-printing. For one thing, because they are governments amendments there is some certainty that they will be incorporated in the final act, so you are just getting a pre-copy of what hopefully is not the final act, but certainly the government's final amendments. I cannot see that it is going to be that expensive a process and it would probably make life much easier.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If that is agreeable with the Conservative critic.

The Vice-Chair: Is that agreeable with the committee?

Interjection: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: That is agreeable.

We have completed the work of this afternoon. I would remind committee members that we have a formidable task before us. We have a complex bill with some conflicting views and I think we will have to work very hard over the next few weeks to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I look forward to seeing everyone next Thursday morning at 10 o'clock sharp so that we can get on with the work of the committee.

Ms Poole: Just one final motion, that at 10 o'clock and 3:30 on every day that the standing committee on general government is meeting we start sharply at those hours, regardless of whether all caucuses are represented.

The Vice-Chair: Is there agreement to that?

Hon Ms Gigantes: There is unanimous support.

The Vice-Chair: There is unanimous support of the committee. The Chair will recognize a quorum at 10 o'clock and at 3:30, provided the routine proceedings of the House are finished, for this committee to begin work.

The committee adjourned at 1631.