30e législature, 3e session

L049 - Tue 4 May 1976 / Mar 4 mai 1976

The House met at 2 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.


Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I would like to announce to the House today, a new policy which will be adopted by this government regarding fees paid by foreign students in the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and the provincially-assisted universities.

In recent years there has been mounting public concern regarding the cost to the Ontario taxpayers of educating foreign students in our post-secondary institutions. Furthermore, I am sure the hon. members are well aware of this government’s concern to restrain the growth of government expenditures.

Under these circumstances we have re-examined the costs to society of educating foreign students in Ontario and have concluded that the proportion of these costs borne by the Ontario taxpayer should be reduced.

At the present time, under the university operating grants formula, all students enrolled in a given course pay the same fee, which is approximately $585 per two-term academic year. We intend to increase the formula fee applied to foreign students to $750 per term or $1,500 per two-term academic year for all university programmes. The formula fee applied to students registered for three consecutive terms would be $2,250. I have asked the universities to pass on the effects of the increase in formula fees to the students concerned.

In the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, all students currently pay the tuition fee of $250 per two-term academic year. I have instructed the colleges to increase fees for new foreign students to $750 per two-term academic year.

The change will take place in the colleges in September, 1976. It will be applied to the universities in January, 1977.

The new policy will apply only to foreign students beginning programmes for the first time. Foreign students who have completed one or more terms will continue to pay the same fees as Canadian citizens and landed immigrants. This situation will continue until January, 1980, or until they have completed their current programme of studies, whichever comes first.

The change in policy for foreign students will have no impact on the fees paid by Canadian citizens, nor will it apply to landed immigrants whose status reflects a commitment to Canada which we recognize and respect. It will have no impact on fees paid by students from other provinces of Canada whose fees will continue to be exactly the same as those for Ontario residents.

Other groups exempt from the new policy are the dependents of people such as diplomatic and consular officials admitted to Canada under section 7(1)(a) of the Immigration Act and dependents of people admitted to Canada for the temporary exercise of their profession, trade or occupation under section 7(1)(h) of the Act.

This new policy is not intended to recover for Ontario the full costs of educating foreign students. However, it establishes in the province a situation similar to that faced by many Canadian students studying in other countries. In publicly funded post-secondary institutions in the United Kingdom and the United States, for example, Canadian students pay higher fees than citizens of those two countries but are not generally asked to meet the full costs of their education.

Practices with respect to foreign students attending institutions in Ontario are a complex issue. In formulating our proposals, we have had substantial discussions with the federal Department of Manpower and Immigration.

In view of the circumstances I have outlined, I believe our new policy is a reasonable and realistic step for the government to take at this time.

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.


Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that the Premier (Mr. Davis) or the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) will come in. Until then, could I ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications a question initially, please?

Is the Minister of Transportation and Communications willing to respond positively to the urgent and desperate request put to the government by the city council of Toronto, that if the proposed plan for paving the Spadina ditch to Eglinton is not itself stopped by the government, that it cease with finality at Eglinton Ave., either by the province taking over the right of way and land south of Eglinton to assure, in perpetuity, that the arterial or expressway route will never run farther south, or by building a park-and-ride facility of a kind that would also preclude Spadina running farther south? And will the minister hold off anything until he has met with council?

Mr. Singer: Where is the member for Downsview (Mr. di Santo)? Is he out today? And where is the member for Yorkview (Mr. Young)?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, there are several parts to that question, as I recall it. First of all, I have had no correspondence or visits from Mayor Crombie or any of his members of council or from the city officials. All I know of what the member speaks about is what I have also read in the press. Until I get something official from the city, until I see it in writing what they are proposing, I will not be giving any serious consideration to the matter.

Secondly, I would have to say that the paving of Spadina is a matter being &all with by Metropolitan Toronto. My involvement with that is the agreement --

Mr. Roy: That’s what the Premier said before.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- to pay the subsidy on that contract. The other matters I’ll deal with as soon as I get the correspondence from the city.

Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary: Does the minister not think that he’s turning the Premier into the “expressway man of the year” by watching what occurred in Scarborough the day before yesterday, where a nine-mile right of way for an unnamed transit corridor was approved, setting the stage for one of those nightmarish expressway interlockings of the 400, Spadina and Scarborough? And will the minister not move in to stop it now?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Again regarding the land acquisition in Scarborough, my total information on that matter happens to be through press clippings. We certainly have had no request from Metro -- to my knowledge anyway, it has certainly never come to my attention -- for any funding, nor have we agreed for any funding for that project.

Mr. Reid: I’d like to ask the minister, because the Metro chairman seems somewhat confused, if his commitment still holds true on the park-and-ride facilities; I believe it’s to pay 75 per cent of the capital cost. And does his requirement that the park-and-ride facilities have to be completed at the same time as the subway still hold true, because it appears now that the facility cannot possibly be completed by that time?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Last autumn when I wrote to the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto, in my letter at that time was the commitment that we would pay the subsidy on parking facilities for Spadina -- not only the parking facility at the northern extremity of Spadina, which has been the government’s policy, but where a parking facility was built as part of the transportation facility at its terminus, then we would subsidize that. We expanded on that policy, as I say, for the Spadina subway. We would also subsidize parking facilities further south on that particular route. As of yet, we have no request for any allocation of subsidy for that facility.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Oakwood with a supplementary first.

Mr. Grande: As a supplementary to the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Would he be willing, since on July 8 the Premier promised that the Spadina expressway would definitely not go south of Eglinton --

Hon. Mr. Snow: I didn’t catch the first part of the hon. member’s question. Maybe he would start over again.

Mr. Grande: All right. In view of the fact that the Premier on July 8 promised that the Spadina expressway would definitely not go south of Eglinton, would the minister get or take from Metro the houses south of Eglinton and give them back to the borough of York and the municipality of Toronto, respectively?

Hon. Mr. Snow: That particular matter was all covered very explicitly in my letter to Mr. Godfrey last fall --

Mr. Lewis: You’re copping out again.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and I will get the hon. member a copy of that letter. It’s all in there. There has been no change in policy since that time.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the member for Wilson Heights.

Mr. Singer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister advise whether or not this subsidy for parking garages south of the north terminus will be given, no matter where they are located, how expensive they are, and whether or not studies done in Metro indicate the usefulness of the park-and-ride facility? Or will the government be exercising some judgement and discretion, based on its own studies in relation to such requests?


Hon. Mr. Snow: I certainly did not or will not give any commitment that we will pay the subsidy -- I think the hon. member put it very well -- however expensive they may be, or whether they may or may not be needed. I think we have stated that we would participate in the subsidy. I have just withdrawn a copy of my letter that I have been carrying around since last Nov. 25; I think it was all stated in that letter. But I would have to agree with the hon. member that we are not going to subsidize a gold-plated, diamond-studded garage; it has to be something reasonable.

Mr. Reid: Supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: No, that was the final supplementary. The Leader of the Opposition.


Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, to the Attorney General. Is the Attorney General aware that Detective Inspector Carl Manneke, of the anti-racket squad of the Ontario Provincial Police, has indicated publicly that he discussed with Dr. John R. Carlisle, who is attached to the College of Physicians and Surgeons as an investigator into the private labs, discussed with Dr. Carlisle the need for carrying a gun with him in the course of these investigations because of the questions that are raised by the whole private lab inquiry and controversy? In the light of what emerges, unhappily, day by day, is it not now time for the minister, in the name of the government, to launch a full-scale public inquiry into the entire private lab network in this province, so that the public can be taken into his confidence?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I know the officer, Carl Manneke, but I was not aware of his concerns related to the carrying of a gun. It is certainly something that I will make further inquiries about.

From the information that I have on investigations that are currently being conducted in relation to the private labs, I am very much of the view that it is very much in the public interest that this matter be left, at this point in time, in the hands of the police. In my view a public inquiry would not serve the interests of the public, as it would interfere with what I believe to be an effective police investigation that is currently continuing.

Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, if I may: Since Det. Insp. Manneke also indicates in today’s Hamilton Spectator, I believe, that while there is no concrete evidence of organized crime, there is a friendship between some of the people involved with labs and organized crime elements uncovered in a separate investigation, since this private lab stuff seems to have a never-ending, sordid component -- some of which my colleague from High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba) shared with Insp. Manneke yesterday in revealing his material to him -- can the minister assure us that a public inquiry may indeed follow the OPP inquiry, once he has investigated the laying of charges?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As an individual minister, of course, I am not in a position to give any such undertaking. I can assure the hon. Leader of the Opposition that if I come to the view that it is in the public interest to have a full-scale inquiry, I will support such a position. But at the present time I am of the view that the public interest is being better served by the police investigation that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Mr. S. Smith: In view of the statement by the past president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons that this has gone way beyond anything that the college can handle, and in view of the minister’s suggestion that the college and the OPP should continue the investigation, and taking Det. Insp. Manneke’s comment that the growth in the use of these labs has been phenomenal in the space of four years -- his figures show that it has gone from $17.8 million to $70 million in the space of four years -- then shouldn’t the minister agree that the kind of information which I was able to put before this House, which was given to me by doctors who were approached by some unscrupulous labs, that such information will be more likely to be brought out at a public inquiry where ordinary doctors would then bring forward information which they wouldn’t go to their local police station with? Can the minister not understand the need for a public inquiry at this time?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I can assure this House that I have had a lot more experience in relation to public inquiries than the leader of the Liberal Party is ever likely to have, and I don’t need any advice from him with respect to when it is in the interests of the public --


Mr. Singer: Shame, shame.

Mr. Speaker: Order please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The truth of the matter is that he has demonstrated, and is continuing to demonstrate, a rather abysmal ignorance as to what is in the best interest of the public in relation to police investigations. I would like to think that some of his friends to his left could give him some assistance, but it seems to be unlikely.

Mr. Singer: What arrogance, what arrogance.

Mr. S. Smith: Sounds like a cover-up.

Mr. Speaker: Order please. We are just simply wasting our time and the question period will not go forward until the noise ceases.

Mr. Deans: Supplementary: May I ask the minister, without trying to give the Attorney General any advice as to whether he should or shouldn’t --

Mr. S. Smith: You will get a high-sticking penalty if you do.

Mr. Deans: -- institute a public inquiry, wouldn’t he think that when a chief inspector of the Ontario Provincial Police indicates that there is at least evidence of a relationship between the public labs and the underworld --

Mr. Lewis: Private labs.

Mr. Deans: -- the private labs and the underworld -- that in itself is reason to follow the public inquiry route, rather than to simply continue with investigation into something we’ve never been able to come to grips with?

Mr. Lewis: More likely to close the public labs.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, I certainly intend to pursue the matter that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition and the allegation that there may be some relationship with organized crime, and in that context, of course, the possibility of a public inquiry being in the best interest of the public certainly exists and will continue to exist. It is something that was just brought to my attention a few moments ago and, as I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition, I certainly intend to pursue that.

I just don’t accept the suggestion that in every matter that involves a difficult problem and where there is public interest involved, the police are not better equipped to carry out their own investigation rather than going the route of a public inquiry, because it has been my experience that a public inquiry often impedes an effective police investigation. There are often people who are prepared to come forward quietly and discuss matters of controversy with police officers but are very reluctant to do so if they believe that they have to do it in the full public glare of an inquiry at that time.

Mr. Roy: Supplementary: Further to the Attorney General’s response, and recognizing his status within the law and his expertise in certain fields of law, especially the realm of hockey violence and so on --

Mr. Speaker: Order please.

Mr. Roy: -- may I ask the minister if he doesn’t feel, as chief law officer of the Crown. that not only is there an importance here of perception by the public and that the investigation here involves a number of allegations which have been made, including certain functioning within the Ministry of Health, but that the public would be better served as a matter of perception by having a public inquiry?

Mr. S. Smith: You’ve known it for years, you know.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing that I can say in addition to what I have already said in relation to that question.

Mr. Lewis: I think you are going to have to capitulate and you should do it in advance rather than on the retreat.

Mr. S. Smith: With grace. With grace.

Mr. Martel: Do it gracefully.


Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, to the acting Minister of Health: Do I take it that the acting Minister of Health has now seen the article in the current Journal of the Canadian Medical Association dealing with the quite startling savings that are being achieved in the public in-common hospital lab facilities -- the public lab’s hospital facilities -- in the Hamilton area; and, as part of this whole lab controversy, is it not now time to provide a reform of the fee schedule paid by OHIP and move significantly the work away from the private labs and into the public labs, so that the public at least can save millions while the ministry fiddles away with its police investigation?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. Leader of the Opposition knows, I have stated at least twice in this House thus far that, in fact, the lab committees which have been established throughout the province are at this time investigating the scope and capacity of the various hospitals and public laboratories in order to direct more of the laboratory work into those specific labs, away from the private laboratories in the regions. That is the purpose of the action. It is going forward very well right at the moment, and I believe that it will move a significant amount of laboratory procedures out of private laboratories into publicly-owned facilities.

Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, since the minister knows, I guess since the days of Richard Potter and his lab bill in 1972, that the chief characteristic of the Ministry of Health has been immobility, can she not now introduce by legislation what she has failed to do by persuasion or by these committees or anything else, that is start taking the work obligatorily away from the private labs and moving it to low-cost, public centres?

Hon. B. Stephenson: If the hon. Leader of the Opposition will stick around for a while this afternoon, that’s exactly the intention of our legislation.

Mr. Lewis: It’s not what her legislation does.

Mr. S. Smith: Can the minister explain to us why it is that, after the cabinet approved the recommendation to call for tenders in the private laboratory services, it turned right around and decided not to go ahead with this? Now that the minister has seen this enormous growth of laboratory expenses over the years as a consequence of that, why will she not act and move to the tendering system?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I have not been able to find the recommendation which the hon. leader of the third party keeps telling me does exist, but I have found a recommendation made by the task force on laboratory services, on which Dr. Kinloch was not the chairman but was in fact a consultant to the committee. The recommendation of that committee is that “too many technical problems exist to introduce a universal tendering system of payment for laboratory service.” That was in 1972. I shall be very pleased to submit that to the leader of the Liberal Party in the Province of Ontario.

I would remind the leader of the Liberal Party that one of the major problems in laboratory services growth over the past four years has been the increasing dependence of members of his and my profession upon laboratory tests in place of the use of the cerebral function of the physicians to make diagnoses. When we manage to teach some of the medical teachers, sir, that we do not need to depend upon laboratory testing in order to make a reasonable diagnosis we shall have achieved much of the purpose in decreasing laboratory costs.


Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: Given the substantial savings documented in the report on the public hospital labs in Hamilton and their stated ability to handle a much heavier load, why was the budget limited to a 10 per cent increase for supplies and 8 per cent for salaries?

Mr. Lewis: And 41 per cent for the private labs.

Hon. B. Stephenson: I do not know that it has been increased by that amount to the private laboratories. However, under the constraint programme which is in effect for all public health systems within the Province of Ontario, those are very reasonable figures.

Mr. Cassidy: For the private sector, eh?

Hon. B. Stephenson: We are attempting to go almost the same route which that article suggests, including within the scope of the hospitals and public lab facilities mom of the testing which is to be done upon Ontario patients.

Mr. Lewis: I have one last question, although everybody’s lecturing us so fiercely today that I’m almost hesitant to ask it.


Mr. Lewis: These labs are a millstone dragging the minister down, aren’t they? Why doesn’t she do something about it?


Mr. Lewis: I have a question for the ultimate student of them all, the Minister of Community and Social Services. May I ask him, has he seen the anxious and striking report from the Kenora Children’s Aid Society, documenting the problem of children and juveniles in northwestern Ontario and requesting immediately some kind of detention or group home facility to deal with the deterioration?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Yes, and we are reviewing that situation and it is being given our immediate attention.

Mr. Lewis: Thank you. By way of supplementary, since a number of groups participated in the preparation of the document, including representatives of his own ministry in the northwest, I gather, and since the examples that they use are quite depressing, can the minister perhaps report back to the House within a week or 10 days as to his specific intention?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, again as you know there are 50 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario. All are being given personal attention. They are being reviewed individually in the light of the particular circumstances of the area, whether they’re fiscal or physical resources. The geography has a role to play of course. The Kenora area, as all others, is being given that attention.

Mr. Swart: And no child will suffer?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s right.



Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the acting Minister of Health, for whose edification I will read her own ministry document into the record this afternoon during the debate on the laboratory legislation.

My question is to do with polio vaccine. How could the minister tell this House that she had no notion how it was that the federal government could have had information in January and she didn’t get it until March about the polio virus situation when, on Jan. 28, at an open symposium at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Mahdy of the Ministry of Health was in attendance and took part in the discussion of the information revealed by Dr. Sattar at that time? Why is the minister misleading the House?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t misleading the House at all. The question was asked by the hon. member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) whether the federal authorities had advised us about this and why there was a delay in the information. In fact, the information which we have received most directly is that which is published in the Canadian publication, federal Health and Welfare’s “Canada’s Disease Weekly Report” on April 17, which actually gives the information regarding a 1974 study about sewage in Ottawa and the presence of virus in that. I most certainly was not misleading the House.

Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary: Does the minister now accept that a person from her own ministry was there at the open symposium where this information was given in Ottawa on Jan. 23? Does she also confirm the fact that of the strains of polio virus found, five were so-called wild strains which do not fit into the immunization pattern that’s achieved by the present vaccine?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge of attendance by that member of the ministry at the symposium in Ottawa, but I shall most certainly find out about it and report to the House.

Mr. Roy: That’s nothing new, Bette.


Mr. S. Smith: I have another question of the acting Minister of Health: Has she taken any steps to confirm the accuracy of the quotation attributed to the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) in which he was alleged to have said that he could not tell his voters that her decisions have any integrity? Has she taken steps as part of her job to find out whether that quotation is accurate?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am very much aware of my integrity. I would hope that the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick would be very much aware of his as well. I’m sure that they will be reasonably compatible.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Lewis: By way of a supplementary, if I may, has the minister read carefully and taken to heart the rather snarky and antagonistic comments made about her and her ministry by the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, attributed to him in the most eminent pre-eminent column in the Globe and Mail by Norman Webster? Before she replies to me, may I remind her that the member sits almost directly behind her.

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I have no fear of the members who sit behind me.


Mr. Foulds: On a matter of personal privilege, I take exception to the minister’s remarks.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Do you know who you are behind those glasses?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, since the article mentioned was written by one of the most respectable members of the press corps, I read it very carefully, and all I can say is I’m sure that from his point of view the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick was attempting very diligently to be totally objective.

Mr. S. Smith: He succeeded. What could be more objective?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the acting Minister of Health. I am tempted to ask her whether she’s more frightened of the people beside her --

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. S. Smith: -- but in any case we’ll move along to a question about the Addiction Research Foundation and the detoxification programme. In the light of the criticism by members of the Addiction Research Foundation that the ministry’s alcohol detox programme is failing and, in fact, it’s doing very little good and spending a good deal of money, can the minister tell us exactly what her plans are for revamping it and how much money this is going to cost us?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the failure of the detox programme, I suppose, is relative in the study that has been presented by the Addiction Research Foundation people. It is suggested that if the programme were about twice the size, it could be more successful; that is perhaps true. All of this is being studied by both the ministry and the Addiction Research Foundation in a special liaison committee which has been established in order to investigate the role and the functions of the Addiction Research Foundation and the increasing integration of work on alcoholism into the total health care programme of the Province of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has the answer to a question asked previously.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I checked into the matter of the Royal Insurance Co. premium rates, which was raised by the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) last Tuesday.

The Royal is one of six property and casualty insurers that must give the Anti-Inflation Board 30 days’ pre-notice of all rate increases. I understand that they did comply with this requirement and that the AIB have not objected to the proposed new rates.

At the time the question was asked they had not filed any rates with my ministry. In Ontario the Royal have introduced rate increases on April 1 for new business and June 1 for renewal business. The office of the superintendent of insurance has reviewed the Royal’s proposal and this analysis indicated the average increase for Ontario is only 3.1 per cent. This is a significantly lower figure than the 9.6 per cent which presumably caught the eye of the hon. member and which he mistakenly interpreted as being applied to Ontario. In fact, it applied nationwide.

Mr. Deans: I didn’t make a mistake.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Hon. members will be happy to know that the indicated overall Ontario avenge increase is lower than that proposed for any other province.

In particular, the premium rates for Royal’s most popular type of homeowners’ policy have, on the average, been decreased by two per cent in Ontario.

Mr. Reid: Not in northern Ontario!

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The new rates are anticipated to provide only a modest overall profit for the Royal, and when this restraint is coupled with the Royal’s demonstrated willingness to do more than their share in maintaining a ready insurance market in all parts of our province, I feel we should commend I them rather than criticize them for their efforts.


Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the acting Minister of Health once again. Given the increasing evidence of substantial savings in the public health labs, what is the minister doing to encourage the development of regional public health labs in the Province of Ontario at this time?

Hon. B. Stephenson: The public health laboratory has a specific role in this province and it is related to those tests which are usually done to maintain public health and to investigate for possible venereal disease. Its role is limited in many areas in terms of biochemistry, physiological testing and pathological testing.

In those areas in which it is important that a strong public health laboratory be established on a regional basis, that is precisely what is being done. In fact, the function is being centralized in many areas in order to make the laboratories more functional and more responsive to local need.


Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I want to ask this question before the --


Mr. Reid: You didn’t know when you were well off, Frank.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I’m only here for five minutes.

Mr. Speaker: I am sure the hon. Minister of Health recognizes that as a warm welcome and that we are glad to see him back. Thank you.

Mr. McKessock: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food pertaining to the cow-calf stabilization plan. I want to ask this question before the premiums are set for this year. In view of the fact that the price of calves this fall will be considerably higher than last year and the payouts from the plan therefore will be considerably less, and in view of the fact that if the premiums are raised, the farmers are liable to opt out of the plan, which will return fewer dollars to the Treasury, would the minister consider lowering the premium for the plan or at least leaving it at $5 per cow to encourage the farmers to stay in the plan?

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I answered that question in the House yesterday, if the hon. member would like to check Hansard --

Mr. Singer: No. No.

Hon. W. Newman: -- but I would be prepared to go a little further and answer it again for him.


Hon. W. Newman: As members know we are now working on the final figures for the cow-calf programme using the model farms of the Province of Ontario and we have come up with the necessary figures. The agricultural critic from the official opposition asked a question yesterday. We’ll be having a series of meetings with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Cattleman’s Association to discuss those final figures. As far as the premiums are concerned, as soon as we’ve decided what the premiums will be I’ll let members know.

Mr. McKessock: A supplementary: I checked Hansard and this question wasn’t asked yesterday. Would the minister agree with me that if he raises the premium he’s liable to have fewer dollars returned to the plan?

Hon. W. Newman: If we look at the premium that came in last year from the cow-calf producers -- there was about $1.5 million income and about $22 million was paid out, which was a little out of balance with what we’d anticipated. I’m glad the member has enough faith in the future of agriculture, as I have, and the calves, I hope, will be at 50 cents this fall.

Mr. Wildman: A supplementary: If the premium is to be raised is the ministry willing to raise the guaranteed price from 50 cents to 60 cents so that farmers will stay in the plan and not opt out?

Hon. W. Newman: As I have just finished saying, we are working with model farms across this province to work out the statistics as far as the actual cost of production is concerned. When we have those in place we’ll be discussing them with the various agricultural organizations.

I’m not prepared at this time -- surely the member knows enough about farming, maybe he doesn’t, but we have to do a little work in order to find out what is going on.

Mr. Wildman: If you keep this up there won’t be one full-time beef producer in Algoma.

Mr. S. Smith: He is the only guy who knows about farming. He is the only one who knows about justice. She is the only one who knows about medical teaching; a bunch of experts. Marvellous.

Mr. Lewis: The whole cabinet is out of control.


Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) asked yesterday about OHC’s tendering procedures for a senior citizen development in Beamsville; he asked whether I was aware OHC accepted two bids which were not publicly opened on the date specified and that the project was recalled.

He also asked if I was aware the tender was recalled on the basis of reducing the number of units and that the subsequent successful bidder had not submitted a bid which was initially opened publicly.

There were two calls on this project, Mr. Speaker. The first, for a 65-unit building, closed on June 23, 1975. Nine builders responded but four of the bids were defective and two were 55 minutes late because OHC’s branch office in Hamilton, one of the locations where bids could be received, had moved to another building and the contractors were unaware of the new address. The late bids were received by OHC but the public tender opening was limited to the seven which arrived on time.

Had OHC accepted the lowest qualified bidder the cost per unit would have been $17,900, much over the budget for the building. OHC’s board of directors requested a redesign of the building to reduce costs. Because of the apparent confusion among some builders, as reflected in their faulty submissions, and in accepting some of the blame for not ensuring that everyone knew about the branch office move, OHC limited the invitation for the second tendering to the nine original firms.

Five firms responded and the lowest tender for the 61-unit building was awarded to Johns-Mitchell Developments Ltd., of Hamilton, which submitted a per unit price of $15,377. Johns-Mitchell was one of the two firms late for the first call but as all first-call bids were rejected, the firm was on an equal footing with its competitors in the second call.

I believe the hon. member was making the point that because the successful firm’s original bid was not eligible at the first tender opening, it should not have been included in the invitation to participate in the second tender call.

Mr. Bullbrook: That sounds like Headway. Headway revisited.

Mr. Shore: Sounds like a good reason why the OHC records should be opened.

Mr. Singer: Can we see the OHC minutes on that?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would like to assure the members that the late submission by the firms was thoroughly investigated at the time it occurred and we are satisfied the responsibility for the lateness was not that of the builders.

Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary: Would the minister not agree that the ministry should, by now, be in control of tender openings so there cannot be any criticism whatsoever? There are other ministries in which tenders are taken to a certain time and anything which comes in after that is not considered. In this way there can be no criticism directed to any ministry if such is the general rule.


Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had informed the hon. member that those bids which came in late were not considered at the initial opening.

Mr. Singer: But you discarded all the initial openings.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: At the initial opening, the costs were too high and beyond budget and they were asked to retender. All of the initial bids were rejected, but the two late tenders were not opened in connection with the first opening at all. They were not considered.

Mr. Bullbrook: That is where Headway Corp. used to get their jobs. Remember that, Lorne? You were part of that.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the member for Wilson Heights.

Mr. Singer: Would the minister be prepared to table the minutes of OHC which show this rather unique and unusual method of dealing with these tenders, whereby he gave a discarded tenderer an opportunity to start over again from scratch, and nobody else?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, we did not give a discarded an opportunity to retender and no one else; that, of course, is totally erroneous. And the hon. member well knows it.

Mr. Singer: Well, the other five -- but not the public.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The answer to the first part of the question is, not at this time.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr. Bullbrook: I think the Ontario Housing Corp. will probably be shown to be the most corrupt organization in your government, the most corrupt.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t hear the hon. member who’s supposed to be asking the question.

Mr. Bullbrook: From the top on down, the most corrupt.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I will have to take your advice.


Mr. Singer: That tender story is one of the worst examples of procedures yet.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Sarnia will please restrain himself.

The hon. member for Windsor-Riverside. Can we find a mike that’s working?


Mr. Burr: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations about the food packaging problems which I drew to his attention about two weeks ago. Can the minister report on what the ministry has done to insist upon the use of safe packaging -- that is, light-protective packaging -- to prevent the deterioration of milk, butter and other foods exposed to vitamin-destroying fluorescent lighting used in many, if not most, food stores?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: First of all, the question was directed to me a few weeks ago, and I thought that at that time I had made it quite clear to the hon. member that we have no expertise in our ministry to determine food quality or whether there’s a question of food spoilage. The question should really be addressed to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman), who is responsible for the Ontario Food Council.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: And I said that two weeks ago.


Mr. Burr: A supplementary: What did the minister mean by saying that he would “be glad to look into the report”?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my gladness to look into the report, but I will refer it to my colleagues in Health and Agriculture and Food for action.


Mr. Spence: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. In view of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ decision to restore the 8- in. size limits for perch, and also in regards to the low supply of fish in Lake Erie, is the minister aware of the severe economic hardships experienced by the Lake Erie commercial fishermen in repaying Ontario Development Corp. loans?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the hon. member. There are too many side conversations going on. Would the hon. member care to repeat his question?

Mr. Bullbrook: Sit down, Lorne.

Mr. Spence: What is the situation on repayment of Ontario Development Corp. loans granted to fishermen in the year of 1971? Has the minister any comments on this?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, we’re aware of the fact, and the member for Kent-Elgin has brought it to my attention again, that there are some further difficulties by some of the fishermen in that area in being able to repay their loans to ODC.

I think we should recognize the fact, first of all, that there are a number of fishermen who have already completed their payments to ODC. There are also a number at the present time who are attempting to make payments to ODC; and there are about four or five who have made no attempt in any way, shape or form to make any repayment to ODC.

I indicated to the member for Kent-Elgin and others that we would look at the payment plan to see if we can find some relief, in light of the economic constraints that are being placed upon them with the lack of fish in that particular area. I hope within the next few weeks to be able to put a recommendation before my colleagues in cabinet on a repayment programme that would facilitate the repayment of their loans.

Mr. Angus: Supplementary: Inasmuch as the problems seem to have originated from an apparent lack of communication or lack of involvement between the two ministries, does it not seem logical that this is something that should have been planned out ahead of time through the Resources Development secretariat?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I don’t accept that there was any lack of communication between the ministries; each one had its own responsibilities. ODC was a lending agency to try to facilitate the fishermen and to make sure they stayed in business at a time when there were real problems; of course, they are now experiencing further difficulty because of the number of fish that are available to them and in terms of the other species that have been removed. But, as I say, there is no lack of communication; each one had its responsibilities, and we’ll react to them.

Mr. Speaker: The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick.

Mr. Angus: Is there to be a by-election?


Mr. Grossman: I have an objective and non-snarky question for the acting Minister of Health. A lot of employees at the Doctors Hospital still have the feeling they have been cut adrift --

Mr. Wildman: I wonder why?

Mr. Grossman: -- and no one has been in direct contact with them.

Mr. Angus: They feel they have gotten the shaft.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Grossman: On April 22, the acting Minister of Health assured the House that she expected that it would be within the next seven or eight days following April 22 that the employment committee, let’s call it, would be visiting the hospital and would be contacting each and every employee. Has that happened, and if not, when is it going to happen?

Mr. Lewis: Do you mean you can’t trust what is said in the House?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I cannot state factually that it has happened within the last two days. I know it did not happen last week, but it is supposed to happen this week.

Mr. Deans: Oh boy, who do you trust now?

Hon. B. Stephenson: At the present time, however, there has been an identifiable individual within the Ministry of Health made known to the staff of the Doctors Hospital --

Mr. Lewis: Three months later.

Hon. B. Stephenson: -- in order that they may contact him for the purpose of filling out applications for further employment and for the purpose of discussing problems which will be related to the development of the community health centre in that area.

Mr. Cassidy: You are going to send an official to fill out forms?

Mr. Grossman: I have a supplementary question. This person has not been identified directly to the employees but rather to some of the administration. Doesn’t the acting minister think it might be appropriate to write each and every employee or, at the very least, to be sure that in fact the hospital has posted the name of this contact person so that in fact the 600 employees will know? At the moment they don’t.

Ms. Gigantes: Why don’t you write them and tell them?

Hon. B. Stephenson: The letter has been sent to the administrator of the hospital and he was asked to post the letter on the bulletin board for all employees to see.

Mr. Deans: That’s hardly a satisfactory way to deal with people.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s a breach of faith in view of what you promised; it really is.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.

Mr. Bullbrook: We’re not at the end of our list yet.

Mr. Roy: We’ve got more questions here -- good ones.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. Shore: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of in excess of 400 citizens from the London area, I would like to present to you a petition signed by them, wherein they have requested that the government remove the laws of this province relating to seatbelts and let the people decide for themselves.

Some hon. members: Sit down!

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Albert, attack him.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. S. Smith: Citizens have a right to petition.

Mr. Roy: We all have our crosses to bear, eh?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on behalf of 250 citizens from my community who are concerned about the issuance of a licence to open a gravel pit on agricultural land.

Mr. Lewis: That’s a good petition.

Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports.


Introduction of bills.


Mr. G. E. Smith moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act respecting Simcoe Day.

Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.

An hon. member: Not again?

Mr. MacDonald: Are they going to call it or will it stand on the order paper?

Mr. Lewis: Gordon, why were you so mad at Jim Taylor the other day? You nearly hit him in the House. What happened?

Mr. G. E. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to change the name of the public holiday celebrated in many municipalities on the first Monday in August from Civic Holiday to Simcoe Day in honour of John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada on Sept. 12, 1791, and who convened the first legislative assembly and established the capital of the Province of York, now Toronto.


Mr. Reid moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to provide for the Regulation of Driver Training Schools.

Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.

Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, this Act makes provision for the registration of operators of driver training schools and the licensing of driving instructors. Provision is also made for the setting of minimum standards for such schools, the instructors and the instruction given.

Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.


Mr. Renwick, on behalf of Mr. Swart, moved second reading of Bill Pr6, An Act respecting the Welland-Port Colborne Airport.

Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.

The following bill was given third reading upon motion:

Bill Pr6, An Act respecting the Welland-Port Colborne Airport.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is very difficult to hear in here. Would the side conversations please cut down? Thank you. Order.


Mr. Deans moved second reading of Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.

Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.

The following bill was given third reading upon motion:

Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.


Mr. Deans moved third reading of Bill Pr26, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.

Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.

The following bill was given third reading upon motion:

Bill Pr26, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.

Clerk of the House: The seventh order, resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 60, An Act to amend the Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.


Mr. Roy: With the unanimous consent of all the members, I think I adjourned the debate.

I had a few comments to make on this legislation. As I was explaining on the other occasion when we were discussing the substantive aspect of this bill, our party felt that some of the matters being removed from rent control were items of great concern to this party. In other words, we can have some sympathy with the legislation when we have a situation in which we are controlling rents which are already controlled in one form or another or if we, in this party are satisfied that the tenants who are being removed by this legislation in fact receive some protection in other areas, for instance, rent geared to income, and I intend to speak about that --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There’s altogether too much background noise in the chamber.

Mr. Roy: I fully agree, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

When we’re talking about removing what we call limited-dividend housing by this legislation, we in this caucus have some concern and will be proposing some amendments, because we are not satisfied that tenants in those units are receiving adequate protection. It has become clear to us, after meeting people living in these units, meeting tenant associations and so on, that the protection that was supposedly afforded or given by CMHC is just not there and that developers who are building units under this particular scheme are being given more leeway than would appear to be allowed under the legislation. Yet CMHC does not seem to be enforcing certain jurisdictional control it may well have either under the contract or under the legislation.

We have some concern about this area. We feel that to remove these tenants from this legislation is leaving them just to the whims of the developer who built under the scheme with CMHC, and that CMHC is not giving these tenants the protection. We’re concerned about that aspect and we have full intentions of opposing that part of the amendment.

The other aspect, and I suppose the more difficult one, is what is called rent geared to income. The theory of this amendment is that the rent control legislation would just be controlling rents which are already controlled under what we call the rent-geared-to-income scheme. In other words, the rent, which by and large is limited in Ontario Housing projects to one-fourth of the income of the tenants, is some form of subsidization or some form of control, and therefore rent control is a duplication.

In theory that may well be so. Our concern is that certain tenants who are paying that percentage of their income have great difficulty making ends meet. Our concern, especially with Ontario Housing, is that there should be some revision of the rates and that we should get a different approach by Ontario Housing. If I may be so bold as to suggest that when we’re discussing this rent control legislation and the amendment and I see here in the House the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman), who has jurisdiction for this legislation, I get very much concerned that we don’t have the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) here, because we really have concern, and I think we’ve expressed it over a number of years, about the operation of Ontario Housing.

We’ve talked about the minutes we wanted to get a hold of, to learn what goes on, how come certain decisions are made, and why certain properties are purchased. We find Ontario Housing to be a very unresponsive institution in that we have great difficulty getting to Ontario Housing through the Minister of Housing to get some form of action. I think it would be incumbent on the Minister of Housing to be here and to convince the members in this House about the rent scale of some of these units.

For instance, we’re concerned that there are certain types of housing under the jurisdiction of Ontario Housing where rent is not controlled or limited to one-fourth of income. We’ve been told there are some tenants who are paying up to one-third of their income on their rent. The reason for what is happening is that certain units have come under the jurisdiction of Ontario Housing where Hydro charges and certain other matters are not considered to be part of the rent. These are paid for over and above their rent. If we have a system whereby we’re limiting rents to one-fourth of the income, surely we should have it universal. We should not only look, in some instances, as to whether the one-fourth is fair, but look at the situation where it exceeds one-fourth of their income.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that it would be important for the Minister of Housing to be here and to tell us what he intends to do about this and then we would have more enthusiasm in supporting the amendments on what we call rent-geared-to-income housing.

Mr. Cassidy: Why don’t you oppose him then? Why don’t you oppose him?

Mr. Roy: If the member would shut up I will tell him why. The reason we feel we should support the government on this particular amendment --

Mr. Cassidy: The Liberals are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Mr. Roy: Probably the member for Ottawa Centre will never understand this, because he doesn’t agree with anything that is not socialist.

In any event, the reason we are favourable to part of this particular amendment is that Ontario Housing is using the whole process of rent control as a way of arriving at setting what is rent geared to income. In other words, it seems such a very cumbersome scheme to arrive at rent geared to income, and so we have a clogging up of the whole system of the rent control process. It seems to us that when the taxpayer is paying one way or the other, this is a very unsatisfactory way of proceeding with this.

Secondly, we are told -- and I have received information from certain areas of this province, and Ottawa housing people in particular -- that since rent control has been imposed on Ontario Housing units we have a situation where we limit the turnover of these units, and people who on other criteria would benefit from this type of housing, people who by all criteria -- their salary, their employment, or otherwise -- should have an opportunity of getting into these units, don’t, and other tenants who should have an opportunity I suppose of getting out can’t. The turnover is not taking place. So we have a situation where we are trying to have certain housing for the benefit of people at the bottom end of the scale and they are being penalized by the process.

In the same vein as this, the other sector that was of concern is that when rent control applies to the unit we have a situation where a unit may be rented out for something like $100 a month based on one particular tenant’s rent geared to income, on his particular income. He is transferred out, and of course rent control now applying to that particular unit, another individual who wants to get in perhaps should be charged rent of $125 or $175 a month or whatever on the basis of his income, and we can’t do it. We have to go through the whole rent control process again. If rent control applies to the unit and, in fact, Ontario Housing is based on the income of the individual, you get a conflict there. On one hand, rent control applies to the units, and on the other hand, the amount of rent that he is supposed to pay is based on his income and should apply to the individual. So we have a conflict. I am told that in Ottawa -- and I don’t know, I have not checked this out -- instead of spending $2,000 to repair a unit after the tenant leaves, the unit is just closed up rather than rented at a rate which is patently unfair or is out of line with what a potential new tenant is earning.

So it seems to us that when we have legislation which is intended to protect tenants who are already protected -- and we have questions about the protection that they are afforded, I have mentioned these earlier -- this seems to be a dual process. It seems to us to be too cumbersome a process, and so we are sympathetic to that part of the amendment.

I must say that we support it with a certain amount of apprehension and a certain amount of reluctance, always having in mind that Ontario Housing has not been the most responsive institution in this province. I am sad to see that when we are discussing this legislation the Minister of Housing is not here. What I suspect is going to happen is that once Ontario Housing units are removed from rent control, then the Minister of Housing will no longer have a conflict. He can’t have a conflict, having sloughed it off on his confrere, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I think the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will try to pass it back on him now, because it would make more sense that rents and rent control be under the Ministry of Housing rather than under the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Mr. Cassidy: The fact is that neither of them wants it and neither of them supports it.

Mr. Roy: That’s right. Neither of them wants it, but I suppose the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will find some justification for giving it back to the Minister of Housing, because I think he was none too pleased to get it in the first place and he will gladly give it back. So, knowing what is going to happen, it is sort of sad that the minister is not here to give these amendments more credence and to give us more encouragement about what he is going to do about the present rates within Ontario Housing.

Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to get involved in second reading? The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I support the position on this bill which the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) outlined at the beginning of this debate. Our party has decided to oppose this bill but we did not make this decision without considerable thought and discussion. However, we have decided that the bill is seriously flawed in at least four respects and that is why we are opposing it.

The four respects are the removal of OHC units from rent control; the removal of limited-dividend units, the removal of housing units for senior citizens operated by local governments or agencies of local governments; and the provisions relating to mobile homes.

With regard to the first, we were aware at the time we voted for bringing OHC tenants under rent review that there would be difficulties in fitting it to the geared-to-income concept but we hoped that some sort of imaginative administrative procedures could have been worked out which would not destroy the principles of geared-to-income rental but would give OHC tenants some sort of involvement in legislation designed to protect tenants generally from arbitrary and unilateral decisions by landlords. We understood that the OHC tenants’ association probably would have preferred a thoroughgoing revision of the rent scale, an opening of books to them -- which occurs under rent review -- and an involvement in management instead of inclusion in the rent control legislation. In the absence of such moves on the part of the ministry administering these units, they felt they were at least entitled to the minimal protection of the rent review procedures. That is why we voted for their inclusion in rent review.

We are aware of the administrative complications which have arisen from application of the law to geared-to-income units. We’re not convinced that the minister tried as hard as he could to reduce the red tape within the present law. Be that as it may, we feel that some of the complications could be reduced or eliminated by a simple amendment to allow appeals to the rent review officers to be made on behalf of an entire building or several buildings of a similar type. As long as there was some provision to ensure confidentiality of the information relating to earnings of each tenant, we would support such an amendment.

We would view the present bill’s proposal to take geared-to-income OHC units out from under rent control with more sympathy if we had some sort of indication from the minister that he was prepared to enter into negotiations with OHC tenants for a revised rent scale, for opening the books to tenants and representation of tenants on management bodies.

My colleague from Ottawa Centre has outlined the frustration of the OHC tenants’ associations in getting any meaningful discussion on these issues. They would likely consider such a commitment from the minister as a better alternative to keeping them under rent control. If the minister could give us a guarantee or a commitment to undertake negotiations on the rent scale and to consider these other matters which I’ve mentioned, we would feel differently toward the section of the bill relating to OHC units.

With regard to the second group which the government proposes to take out from rent control, namely the tenants of limited-dividend projects, we strongly oppose taking them out from rent control. My colleagues have cited numerous cases in which GMHC, the federal government body which supervises their rents in most cases, has failed to protect tenants; has failed to protect their rights to see books or financial statements; and has authorized huge rent increases without justifying them to the tenants. We feel that tenants of limited-dividend housing need the protection of rent review until such time as CMHC shows that it is ready to protect those tenants.


The third group which the bill proposes to take out from rent review, and whose plight concerns me, are the residents of senior citizens’ housing operated by municipalities or their agencies. The proposal to take these people out from under rent control is a second instance of this government breaking faith with these senior citizens. Their generation had more confidence in government than do younger people today, and it is particularly traumatic for them to learn that election promises do not mean anything. I am referring to the election promise made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) just 10 days before the Sep. 18 election, that all GAINS recipients would get a rent supplement to cushion them from rent increases in excess of 12 per cent, up to a maximum of $25 per month. This rent supplement would be retroactive to April 1, 1975.

After the election, the senior citizens waited. The first payments had been promised by the Premier for November, but nothing happened. Finally, after prodding from the leader of the official opposition, the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) announced in December, 1975, that the government was welshing on this election promise. He gave as his reason that the rent review legislation would protect the senior citizens from exorbitant rents in excess of eight per cent. Of course, this protection only went back to Aug. 1, whereas the election promise had pledged relief for increases back to April 1.

This bill now destroys the flimsy substitute which the Treasurer offered for the dishonoured election promise. For this particular group of senior citizens in municipally-operated housing, it breaks faith with them for a second time. I am speaking particularly for the senior citizens in the 9,153 housing units operated by the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Co. Ltd., an agency of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. I understand there are senior citizens’ housing projects operated by other municipalities, such as Ottawa and Windsor, in a similar situation.

Of the 9,153 units in Toronto, 6,488 are geared-to-income and 2,665 are limited-dividend. Many of the latter group were given rent increases on Aug. 1, 1975, greatly in excess of the eight per cent allowed under the rent review legislation. The increases were 33 per cent for bachelor apartments and 59 per cent for one-bedroom apartments. While these increases may have been justified in light of the fact that there had not been any increases since 1957, pensioners on fixed incomes find it very difficult to absorb such percentage increases. The main reason for the delay in raising these rents on a more gradual basis over the years was that CMHC was refusing to let the housing authority convert them to geared-to-income. So there has been an impasse on raising the rents.

The tenants of these apartments have received notice of further increases, effective Aug. 1, 1976, of 10 per cent and 11 per cent. Whether the rent review officers will allow these increases depends, of course, on their view as to whether the housing authority has proved that its costs have gone up by the amount requested and whether all the costs should be accepted. I would hope that in making his decision, the rent review officer would also be guided by the knowledge that senior citizens on fixed incomes cannot stand huge rent increases at one time. It means reducing their standard of living very sharply. I would hope that he would take the view that any increases which are justified should be phased in for such people.

Without the protection of rent review, such considerations would never be entertained at all. The tenants would face a unilateral decision by their landlord instead of having the right to appear to present their point of view, to see the books and to present their arguments to an independent review officer. That is why we feel we must not break faith with them a second time and remove whatever protection and rights the Act gives to them.

The fourth group which the amendment affects seriously are the mobile home owners. My colleague from Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has indicated that the Act leaves their position unclear and may deprive some of them of the needed protection of rent review even in projects which are not really new developments. This is another reason we are opposing the bill.

The bill is so seriously flawed that we feel we must oppose it. There are a number of good amendments in the bill which we would like to see become law -- such as it is unlawful to increase rents more than once in a 12-month period -- but we feel that the minister should withdraw the present bill and bring in a new one with the inclusions we have suggested in order to make sure that people who need protection get protection.

Mr. Shore: I would like to say a few words on this bill generally. Particularly I would like to say that there is much in this bill which we are going to support; there are going to be a few amendments which we are going to bring forward. I would like to put a couple of items on the record about which I have had an opportunity of speaking to the minister.

When this rent review document or concept went in it was our understanding, certainly, that the concept of rent review as opposed to rent control was to give an opportunity to all parties, whether they are the tenants, the owner or the landlord, to try to assess the merits of any rent adjustment. I’ve been finding out from people who are going before the rent review -- and this has been both tenants and landlords or owners -- that the apparent position taken so far -- the minister recently told me they are looking into this and he is satisfied that if there was an area of concern it is being corrected -- the information I have been receiving is that the only item the rent review officer has been looking at has been the matter of costs as they relate to last year compared to next year. That is certainly not the understanding that we had of what this was going to be.

We thought it was going to take into consideration many other factors. For example, the most obvious is there may be people coming off two- and three-year leases, or one-year leases or whatever it might be, trying to get as close as possible to a market situation; at least at the starting point of this rent review. It would bother me very substantially if I didn’t believe this was going to take place or was taking place. As difficult as this legislation will be to administer and as impractical as it may be, the sincerity and the dedication to bringing it in was to try to bring equity into a serious problem.

What I am seriously concerned about is that if that type of concept is not being taken into consideration by the rent review officers I think it’s just going to complicate a very serious rental housing problem in the Province of Ontario. Instead of addressing itself to try to correct it, it is more or less going to make it worse. I really believe that and I’m concerned about that type of point and I’m pleased the minister has advised his people to take this point into consideration. I can’t overstress that if it is not, it certainly is doing one or two things: It is not taking into consideration what the intent was of this legislation and, more important than that, it will not address itself to a serious problem, although I’m not so certain that this whole legislation will.

The other aspect that I would like to bring to the members’ attention is that I have talked to many tenants who are covered particularly under the Ontario Housing Corp. geared-to-income concept. I’m satisfied, although people are making an issue of it, that there is some fairness to this concept. I think we should understand that this whole matter of geared-to-income rent is a serious matter in itself but it’s under federal and provincial jurisdiction rather than under the guidance of this Act. To suggest that we should hold this bill up indefinitely, if it’s right -- or that aspect of it -- until that other matter is taken care of, although I’d like to see it taken care of, is not being fair to the tenants on geared-to-income rent in Ontario Housing,

Mr. Cassidy: That’s not what they told you today.

Mr. Shore: I’m satisfied personally.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s not what they said today.

Mr. Shore: Did you write their submission?

Mr. Cassidy: No, I did not. They would refuse to accept it.

Mr. Shore: Wait a minute. I heard them today, too, and there’s no question that they understand very clearly that there is a problem in relation to the geared-to-income concept. They’ve made that clear to us, and we recognize it -- and, apparently, we’ve been talking about it in this party for many, many years. What I’m saying today is that the people involved in Ontario housing geared to income will be hard done by if we don’t make the necessary changes here. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we should also --

Mr. Cassidy: That’s not what the tenant says.

Mr. Shore: -- at the same time, consider the second aspect, and equally important, the whole concept of geared-to-income housing. But to suggest for a moment -- and these people were asked here today -- that we should hold this thing up, then I’m suggesting that many, many people will suffer as a result of that, and I think it would be wrong.

Mr. Cassidy: Are you doing what the tenants ask you to do?

Mr. Sweeney: I’d like to speak very briefly to three or four points in the bill. The first one is that we cannot agree to the elimination from the rent control programme of those limited-dividend houses which come under private ownership. It was our understanding that when this amendment was presented to us that the minister believed that the various elements, the components within the bill, were already protected by someone else. I have a letter written by CMHC personnel that says very clearly:

“The corporation is not in a position to demand that borrowers make rebates, neither is the corporation in a position to adjudicate allegations of overpayment.”

This particular piece of correspondence was sent back to one of the tenants of a privately-owned, limited-dividend housing unit when it was brought to CMHC’s attention that, in fact, rents were being charged in excess of what CMHC had approved. What CMHC is very clearly saying on their own letterhead is that they are unable to enforce their own rules as far as rent rebates go. They go on to point out:

“This is a matter for the courts to decide if you wish to take it to the courts.”

In other words, they can’t d0 anything about it. They go on further to point out:

“CMHC cannot undertake to notify its tenants of the rents that are supposed to be charged. The individual owner has the information relating to tenancy and leases and the contractual arrangements are between the tenant and the landlord.”

In other words, CMHC is saying they will tell the landlords what rents they’re supposed to charge, but will not give the same information to tenants. Therefore, there is no way that tenants can know whether they are paying the rent that CMHC has authorized.

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, CMHC cannot enforce its own ruling. In one particular case, the rent authorized by CMHC was $105, and the actual rent charged by the owner was $121. For a three-bedroom apartment -- the one which was specifically brought to our attention -- the rent authorized was $198; but the actual rate being paid by the tenant was $205 to $226. Very clearly, limited-dividend housing under private ownership must remain within the legislation because the tenants are not being protected by CMHC.

One tenant who objected to the fact that he was paying more rent received a notice of termination and of eviction. In spite of documentation that rents were being overcharged, the owner -- and I won’t mention names -- wrote: “The owners have abided by the terms of the agreement with Central Mortgage and Housing.”

The owner, in writing, is saying: “We’ve done what CMHC told us to do.” Then CMHC lists the rents that are supposed to be charged, and the rents charged tend to be more than what CMHC has set, Then CMHC comes along and says: “Sorry, there is no way we can enforce it.”

Clearly, that particular kind of limited-dividend housing must remain under the legislation because the tenants are not being protected.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: We’ll accept that.

Mr. Sweeney: Very good. Rental units which come under the jurisdiction of religious institutions should be removed. I can speak only from my own experience in my own community. In the Waterloo region we have a number of rental units operated by religious institutions, in most cases for senior citizens. All the evidence I have been able to gather concerns two points. The first one is that there is no documentation to show these institutions in any way whatsoever -- the ones within my experience that I have checked -- are being unfair to their tenants.

As a matter of fact, all of the records I have been able to see, and they have been considerable, show in every simple case these religious institutions are in fact charging less than any other comparable institutions in the area. I guess what I am trying to say is that these people have demonstrated, to me at least, that they are being fair and equitable. As a matter of fact, they are being more than fair. I do not believe they need to remain under the legislation, and I would certainly support their exclusion.

With respect to university residences, one of my areas of responsibility in this caucus is for Colleges and Universities. One of the things I want to be as protective of as I can is that the dollars which are allocated to our colleges and universities are spent for education and not for something else. I have been advised by the universities in my area that they have had it very clearly stated to them by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities that their ancillary services, such as university residences, must break even -- no more, no less.

There is some evidence right now that because of a rollback, one university in particular is going to have to pay upwards of $100,000 out of its other funds. I would point out that in this particular situation, as in the other three which I checked, the students sat down with the university administration, looked over the books -- I have this from both the administration and the students -- and agreed on the rent that was going to be charged. They accepted the fact that this was the real cost to the institution and this was a reasonable rent to be charged.

Mr. Cassidy: That should happen in the private sector as well.

Mr. Sweeney: I do not believe there is any evidence, again in these situations, that the universities are charging rents which are unfair or that there is any need for them to remain under the legislation. Clearly one of the points we were trying to make when this legislation was brought in was to protect those people who needed to be protected. If there is clear evidence they do not need to be protected, then I don’t believe we should continue to do so.

With respect to OHC, one of the things that very clearly concerns me is that we, I think, have gone on record in this Legislature as suggesting to the tenants of OHC -- and once again I have spoken to many of them -- that through the rent review legislation we were going to be able to protect them in a way they were not protected before. It seems that at this point in time -- maybe history will prove differently -- that has been a facade. It has been an illusion. In every case so far that I have any evidence of, the OHC people have been able to demonstrate that their costs have gone up sufficiently to charge the rents they want to charge anyway. When we see records of some of the cost they are putting into evidence, it is no wonder. May I read just one statement from one unit?

Mr. Cassidy: We couldn’t see the records before because they were suppressed.

Mr. Sweeney: In one unit, it has been recently brought to our attention, the increase for heating fuels over one year -- these are the costs submitted by OHC -- went from $27,000 to $55,000. I appreciate that the cost of heating fuel has gone up, but not 100 per Cent. In the next one, wages for keeping the grounds went from approximately $9,000 to $24,000 in one year, almost a threefold increase. In one year, operating expenses generally went from $77,000 to $129,000 -- almost 100 per cent. In one year, improvements went from $8,000 to $23,000 -- almost a threefold increase.

The point I’m trying to get across is that when they can submit figures like this -- we have no way of knowing the accuracy of those figures, but that’s what is being submitted -- there isn’t any OHC jurisdiction that can’t come into any rent review operation and very clearly demonstrate that an increase in rent is needed on the basis of an increase in income. We are not protecting these people whatsoever, and I believe very clearly that they need to be protected.

The real problem is that the 25 per cent rate is a very unjust rate for people at this income level. Our statistics demonstrate that people in the upper-income brackets are paying, on the average, 15 per cent of their income for shelter; that middle-income people, on the average, are paying 19 per cent of their income for shelter; and generally, on the average, lower-income people are being asked to pay 25 per cent of their income for OHC shelter.

Truly, that is unjust and it’s wrong. That’s where the problem is, and that’s where we must direct our attention. It’s in that area that we must ask this minister, as well as the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) and the federal government, to make a full review and to make fair, humane changes in this whole practice. This is where the changes have to be made.

The delusion that the rent review legislation is going to solve this problem is simply that -- a delusion. I think we are being totally unfair to all of our constituents -- and I have a great number of them in OHC housing units -- by pretending we are solving their problem this way. Let’s rid ourselves of this delusion. Let’s attack the real problem.

One last point: In the last couple of days I’ve talked to a number of senior citizens who are in subsidized housing as well. In this particular case it was again OHC. They had received a letter, saying they had the right to appear before a rent review board because their rates were going to go up. I can only say it was patently unfair -- how else can I put it; I guess that’s all I can say -- to this group of people, many of whom can’t even get out of their units physically and the others, who can get out really have very little idea of what’s going on. The questions they asked me were: “What’s this all about?” “What are we supposed to do? “How can we react any way at all?” “What information do we have available to us?” I indicated to them that I and others would be prepared to help them.

The point I’m trying to make is that this group of people needs a far different kind of help than is provided by this particular legislation. Once again, my concern is that if we devote our energies exclusively to this, or even predominantly to this, the real problem isn’t being met.

Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I shall be brief. One of the interesting things that comes out of the remarks of the last speaker is the apparent duplicity of Central Mortgage and Housing. It was of some concern to me, because I have a number of private limited-dividend operations in my riding, and none of them is good.

Prior to the introduction of this bill last fall, the Federation of Metro Limited-Dividend Tenants -- the limited-dividend people have their own association; at least they did. I’m not altogether sure it hasn’t been suppressed partly by Central Mortgage making life difficult for anybody who belongs, by encouraging the owners to throw them out. In any event, they approached me, because they didn’t want us to include limited-dividend operations -- private limited-dividend, in any event -- in our legislation. On the surface that was extremely contradictory. Here were people who were locked in a life-and-death struggle with some of the worst landlords. Some of the worst operate under the protection of CMHC. I questioned them about it and they said OMHC had assured them that if they remained outside this Act, CMHC could protect them far better than any rent review legislation.

I find the correspondence read by the previous speaker to be most illuminating. I rather suspect that correspondence is going to be recalled by Central Mortgage and Housing because, quite frankly, it’s a very candid admission of what people have known for some time -- that Central Mortgage and Housing, in terms of the limited-dividend concept, has neither the resources nor the people nor the inclination nor, frankly, the encouragement from Ottawa to police landlord and tenant relations on the premises.

It is my understanding that the minister is prepared to accept an amendment which would include -- or continue, I should say -- would continue to have privately-operated limited-dividend projects remain under the scope of the Act. If that’s so, I’ll conclude my remarks at this time.

Mr. Renwick: That certainly cuts part of the debate quite short. I must thank the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) for that contribution because it put the nail in the problem. We hadn’t been able to put quite the same direct fix on that as he had and I’m glad the minister has accepted that amendment.

I do, however, want to talk about the basic problem which has been of such concern to us and, obviously, to each of the parties in the House. That is the intention to include, in the first instance, Ontario Housing Corp. on the one hand, and now the intention of the government to remove it and the obvious problems which this causes for each of the parties when giving consideration to that problem.

If I may make one comment about the limited-dividend aspect of it, what concerns me at the present time -- referring to the paper issued by the Ontario Economic Council dealing with the alternatives in the housing field -- is that it very succinctly states that what was available to sort of the upper limit of the persons eligible for rent-geared-to-income accommodation used to be available in the limited-dividend housing field. There was some available choice for those at the top levels of rent-geared-to-income in limited-dividend housing access.

If I take what the Ontario Economic Council is saying about limited-dividend housing as it now operates -- it no longer refers to it under “low income” but under “moderate income rental programme” -- it states:

“In the past, under the regulations governing these programmes [that’s the limited dividend programmes] units were produced which were accessible to the upper half of those eligible for rent-geared-to-income subsidies. Under the present liberalized regulations the intent seems to be to produce housing which rents for only slightly below comparable privately-financed projects. Such housing is accessible only to moderate-income households.”

It goes on to explain why this change has taken place.

I think that now the minister has accepted the proposal to continue to include limited-dividend housing under the residential rent review programme, we’re really just talking about low-income people and the accessibility of adequate housing for that group. Various terms have been used and I want to say that in this caucus, right from the inception of the introduction of our amendment to include OHC in the original bill, which was then accepted by all the parties, we understood the anomaly which that produced. We were under no illusion about it, and I don’t really believe that at the time when the debates took place, anybody was under any illusion about it.


Various terms have been used. The leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. S. Smith) said his caucus was not going to use this bill for the purpose of blackmailing the government with respect to a renegotiation in good faith of the rent-geared-to-income scale. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot referred to it as some illusion that we were suffering under, or that those who supported our view were suffering under, and that it would be no service to the people in OHC.

I think my colleague, the member for Ottawa-Centre -- and I am certain other members of the House have been in contact with the tenants in Ontario Housing -- has put that to rest. The organization which represents the tenants in Ontario Housing is under no illusion. What they are saying is, “We know of no way to extract from the government an adequate, negotiated in good faith, rent-geared-to-income scale at the present time and we have no way in which we, as tenants in Ontario Housing, can participate in any of the decisions in a meaningful way which are made by OHC with respect to our accommodation.”

So it does seem to me that we don’t mind being in the position where we are saying to the minister, under certain conditions we might be quite prepared to accede to the desire of OHC to get out from under this, or the desire of the minister administering the programme to remove OHC from it. We had several discussions in caucus over quite a considerable period of time about this very problem, continuing on from the discussions which took place at the time the bill was originally debated in the assembly last fall, after the election in September.

Basically, our caucus position was as follows, and I quote:

“The determination of an equitable new rent scale and a commitment to include tenants on housing authority boards and on management committees would permit withdrawing OHC tenants from rent review since it would resolve the problems that led to our bringing OHC into the bill in the first place.”

That was the determination that was made by our caucus in the course of these ongoing discussions which we had about this problem, and that’s the position of this caucus with the government opposite. The divided jurisdiction between the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and the Minister of Housing is not our problem.

So we are under no illusion. We do not believe that the tenants in Ontario Housing Corp. housing are under any illusion about what the circumstances are, and we certainly don’t mind, in this case, when we are talking about the low-income people in the Province of Ontario who are tenants in subsidized public housing, to say to the government that it now knows the conditions under which we would be prepared to consider the withdrawal of the Ontario Housing Corp. from under the operation of the rent review programme.

That is our position and it is quite clear. I think the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) put his finger on the specific problem. We are simply saying that when that problem is solved we will agree to the other part of this bill, but we are not going to agree with it at the present time.

Mr. Shore: What about the mass injustices in the meantime?

Mr. Renwick: If I can take the interjection of the member for London North about the mass injustices, I don’t quite know what is included in that phrase. All that we know is that the association representing the Ontario Housing tenants across the province believes -- as the member for Kitchener-Wilmot believes -- that it is wrong at the present time to be charging persons in that income range the high percentage which is being charged under the rent-geared-to-income scale. We consider that that position is a justifiable position and we are quite prepared to sit down with the government and indicate that we will go along, even then with some reservations, about the withdrawal of the Ontario Housing Corp. tenants out from under the programme.

I say “with some reservations.” Perhaps the minister would help me a little bit on this part of the problem. Again I am indebted, because I don’t have the expertise in the housing field my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), has on these matters, to the paper, “Issues and Alternatives,” issued just recently by the Ontario Economic Council. It says quite succinctly:

“The concern over shelter costs may for the purpose of analysis be separated into a number of component parts, each of which implies a different type of policy. One part of the housing problem seems to be that given the incomes of people and the cost of shelter, certain households do not have enough income to purchase what society feels to be a sufficient quantity of housing. From this perspective, the consumption of housing could be raised to the level deemed appropriate by redistributing income to those whose consumption is insufficient.

“One way to redistribute income is to provide housing at below market price [which I think is the case in a rent-geared-to-income programme]. Another is to provide cash to increase relevant income. Irrespective of whether the housing assistance is in cash or in kind, it is important that it is equally available to persons in similar income and family circumstances and that the assistance be integrated into the social security system.”

All I was quoting that for was to indicate the distinction whether it’s a subsidy, using that term, in relation to the rent geared-to-income programme of the government of Ontario or whether it is a subsidy related to the new programmes of the government. This is where my concern comes in because there’s no question that the rent-geared-to-income programme of Ontario Housing as it has been since its inception is for practical purposes gradually being wound down and other programmes with different kinds of subsidies, the rent supplement programme and other programmes, are being introduced.

I think it’s fair to say you will have different types of subsidy in the Province of Ontario as the one programme which will undoubtedly continue to exist in the form in which it has, is wound down and other subsidized housing programmes for low-income people are introduced. The paper of the Economic Council refers to the fact that for practical purposes the switch is taking place and that there are now new programmes.

They mention the three major ones. The paper refers to the rent supplement programme which is a private-landlord programme related to a 25 per cent occupancy for those persons who would otherwise be eligible for OHC. It refers to the community integrated housing programme and refers to the third programme, the accelerated family rental housing, where the rents charged and the overall rate of return on the project are subject to certain controls. In all these programmes, which are private-market programmes, the difference between the market rents and rents actually paid by tenants is contributed by federal, provincial and local levels as with public housing.

As I try to understand what is now left of clause (ab) of subsection 1 of section 5, which is the principle of the bill on which we have been focusing, it does seem to me if you take Ontario Housing out from under the programme, you are depriving them of a protection which will continue to be available to those who are under these other three programmes of the government, because they are subsidized as well and, as private housing complexes, they will be subject to the rent review legislation.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The unit, not the people. The unit is controlled, not the people. There is a distinction.

Mr. Renwick: I understand that. I understand the distinction. I quite understand that. The units in subsidized housing under the three new programmes of the government will continue to be subject to that kind of control. The persons in those units will be persons who would otherwise be eligible for a tenancy in the Ontario Housing public housing aspect as we’ve talked about it.

There are certain units in privately-owned accommodation, as compared with certain units in publicly-owned accommodation, in which the tenants as such are receiving equal subsidies -- or subsidies under the same kind of arrangement but under different programmes -- and it seems to me quite anomalous that we should therefore be told that so long as they’re in public housing it’s fine to take them out but if they’re in private housing they’re entitled to protection.

If they’re both subsidized it seems to me that, recognizing that the rent review programme is related to the units, which we understood, there is still a problem related to the question of the rent-geared-to-income programme in the public housing part of it, even if we were to consent, on the conditions which I have outlined, to taking it out.

The reason seems to me to be that presumably the calculations which would have to be made in Ontario Housing Corp. public housing would be to assign a market value to each of the units, to continue to have the rent review apply to those units with respect to the market value and then, with a proper rent-geared-to-income schedule, if there were increases justifiable on the market value of the units, only a portion of that would apply to increase the rental scale -- rather than leaving the government in the position where, for all time, its rent-geared-to-income schedule is subject to obsolescence because it is only changed once in a very long time.

As I say, I don’t pretend to have resolved all the problems. I’m simply saying we can take identical units, one in any one of the three programmes which are part of the 25 per cent private industry part of public housing -- if I can use that term -- and a family with identical income. That continues to be subject to rent review but, because for some strange reason it’s not 25 per cent but 100 per cent, a tenant with a unit in an Ontario Housing public housing operation is going to be taken out from under rent review.

Without disclosing the confidential nature of the actual rent paid by a particular tenant, surely it should be possible to fix a market value for those units in relation to other available units in other markets in the immediate area. By keeping them under the rent review programme, the minister applies that percentage, whatever it is, that the landlord -- OHC -- can justify before rent review officers. It is adjusted with respect to the extent to which that amount is to be borne by the tenant with the lower income and the amount by which the subsidy must be increased in order to provide OHC with the kind of rent levels which are based upon the market and based upon its operating costs.

It seems to me the minister may have to find that solution because even with the two conditions which our caucus has agreed on I would, in any event, want that sort of problem resolved at least to my satisfaction before I could agree to OHC coming out from under the programme.

I do want to make one other comment. I think my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre, in his contribution to the debate the other day drew attention to an inequity. I know the Speaker will allow me this minor digression for a moment. He drew attention to the inequity in providing the landlord with a detailed memorandum of assistance. My colleague refers to a 13- or 14-page booklet on filing the financial information with the rent review office --

Mr. Shore: It’s a nightmare.


Mr. Renwick: -- on which the whole argument is to be based, and then the difficulty which the tenant has. I don’t really believe the tenant is going to have his problem solved by having photostatic copies of it. That would certainly be better than nothing, but surely it’s not beyond the wit of those who provide the information to the landlord as to what is required to justify the landlord’s position within the meaning of the statute, to provide the tenants with the kind of critical 13- or 14-page memorandum which would be of immense assistance in asking the right kinds of questions of the landlord at the time the matter comes up for resolution.

Mr. Shore: By the time they have finished reading them they haven’t got any strength left anyway.

Mr. Renwick: If that is not done, then it seems to me that any tenant, in most cases, is going to throw up his hands and simply say: “Well, I don’t have the accounting expertise, I don’t have the knowledge to go to the hearing and in any sensible and intelligent way deal with the problem.”

Coming back, if I may, to the principle of the bill, my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre or other members of our caucus will be introducing amendments related to the kind of thing which OHC tenants -- because we will be opposing the passage of the section which would exempt OHC from under the bill -- the kind of position we want to take with respect to those tenants and the kind of group hearing which may be available to solve the administrative backlog and problem with which the minister is obviously faced, and which is being used as the rationale for the extension of these very exemptions.

We haven’t made up our minds specifically, because we are most anxious to hear the actual comments of the minister about the question of exempting the non-profit housing in religious institutions and in the universities and the non-profit educational institutions. We haven’t had, in this caucus, any sort of great demand that they be taken out. I take the argument which was succinctly put by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) to be, why clutter up the administrative system when everything seems to be going along and they can settle it themselves without having to have recourse to the administrative technique. That doesn’t seem to appeal as a reason for taking persons out if it’s not a problem, it can’t possibly be

-- as my colleague the member for Kitchener indicated to me it was -- the administrative hang-up. Because if any institution, such as referred to in the bill, has that kind of relationship with the tenants who are occupying the accommodation, then I am quite certain there would be no one happier than the rent review officer to have them come and say: “Look, we consent” -- kind of a consent decree -- “to the increase in the rent on these accommodations, because we have sat down privately, discussed this matter, are satisfied with the figures, and we come before you.” They get a consent decree and we simply eliminate that backlog. That seems to us --

Hon. Mr. Handleman: You wouldn’t accept that

Mr. Renwick: Pardon?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Ask your colleague. You would never accept a consent.

Mr. Renwick: I would --

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Oh you would talk about harassment from now until doomsday.

Mr. Renwick: No, no; I am talking about the minister’s provision here for exempting the religious institutions with respect to the non-profit housing which they have, and the educational institutions. So we can’t accept an administrative argument that the reason for concluding this exemption is that, and we find it difficult, although we will listen to the argument, to accept the proposition that because there appear to be no problems in his area there are no problems and therefore they should come out from under. I would again reiterate that it would be possible for the tenants in any building, if they were called together and met with the landlord, and worked the thing out, to go before the rent review officer and settle the matter.

I don’t think we can accept the proposition that because the ministry’s administrative techniques are lacking we have to extend unduly the exemptions. Whenever we see an exemption in a bill which is designed to assist people we are always extremely skeptical of it.

I think that is the total of the comments that I would care to make on the bill at this time. We propose to vote against the bill on second reading and to call for a division, because it does appear that the members of the Liberal Party are not prepared to support us and the minister has given no indication that he is prepared to reconsider his position. After the bill has gone for division, we would then ask that the bill go to committee; presumably committee of the whole House would be the acceptable way to do it.

Mr. Bullbrook: Are you saying that if we supported you, you wouldn’t call for a division?

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I don’t intend to be very lengthy because I think my colleague, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), pointed out the situation very well. However, I would like to bring to the minister’s attention that one of the big problems in this whole field is that those who are in financial difficulty, or those who are not as financially blessed as others, and who have to live in Ontario geared-to-income housing, do not have an equitable base rental. Twenty-five per cent of their income is far too high to many, and maybe I could say to most, of the tenants in Ontario Housing.

Ms. Gigantes: It’s no use telling that minister.

Mr. Good: He doesn’t understand the problem.

Mr. B. Newman: In some instances they also have to pay for Hydro, so 25 per cent of their income is not the accurate figure that they are being charged for the base accommodation of housing.

Mr. Nixon: It’s more like 33 per cent.

Mr. B. Newman: It is approximately 33 per cent. The Federation of Ontario Tenants Associations, to the best of my knowledge, has been attempting to impress upon the minister or his predecessor, the fact that their rent scales must be reassessed; that the provincial and federal authorities must reach agreement on a new rental scale whereby those tenants aren’t being punished simply because they must live in Ontario Housing projects.

At the meeting with the Association of Ontario Housing Authorities in these buildings, some time in March, they presented those of us who had the opportunity to be there with a brief showing various inequities. But these are the exceptions: and I think it is entirely up to the minister to attempt to correct those rather than to punish the many unfortunate people who, not by choice, must live in Ontario geared-to-income housing.

I hope that the minister takes seriously the recommendations, suggestions and comments made by my colleague, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, and acts accordingly.

Mr. Bounsall: Vote with us then.

Mr. Cassidy: Vote with us.

Mr. Worton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on the bill that is now before the House. In the first rental arrangements that we had with the province and the federal government for the housing development in Guelph -- this was in the early 1950s and up until about 1968 -- I think we based it on two-bedroom and the three-bedroom rental rates. At that time, I think the two-bedroom rent was $58 and the three-bedroom rent $62. When we went to geared-to-income rent it seemed a very fair way of putting it, because prior to that we had based it on the limit of earnings; when you got to approximately $4,500, you generally took that as notice that you should move into your own accommodation and leave the rental for someone else. But no two families could save alike or, because of their families, they couldn’t put the same amount of money away to purchase a house of their own, and this still presented problems. So the geared-to-income rent seemed a favourable way of doing it.

However, I am still of the opinion that when extra income comes into a house, when the family has grown up and the wife starts to feel she can do some outside work, it does increase their rent exorbitantly. I do feel that the minister should look at the rent scale he has and put a limit on it, so that these people won’t be locked into this scheme. They will then have an opportunity to save in order to move out and let those less fortunate move into these type of residences. They will then be able to purchase a home of their own.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, many members have contributed to this debate, and I have found it extremely informative and helpful to me in dealing with the issues which have been raised.

I would like to apologize. I was somewhat remiss at the time of my introductory remarks in not informing the hon. members that I did have some amendments to make; I will be introducing them when we go into committee.

The basic amendment, of course, is the one which I referred to in my interjection during the remarks of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney). I would like to make clear, though --

Mr. Cassidy: And you decided that last week?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Yes, I had decided it last week.

Mr. Renwick: Why didn’t you tell us?

Mr. Cassidy: Why didn’t you tell us? You could have cut the debate by half.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it quite clear that our amendment only refers to the privately-owned limited-dividend units. I would expect the members of that part of the House to understand that ever since the Regina manifesto there is a difference between public enterprise and private enterprise.

Mr. Bounsall: We understand that.

Mr. Cassidy: Yes, there is.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: There is some difference between non-profit and profit organizations. We are not dealing with this matter because of administrative difficulties, it is a question of consistency. We do have in the Act provision for those people who are in a non-profit or loss situation, the rent review officer takes that into account. I want to make it quite clear that is the principle on which we have proceeded.

I originally felt that a system of government control on limited-dividend units, whether it be provincial or federal, would be sufficient. I have since tried to speak to Mr. Danson, and I have spoken to Mr. Teron, the president of CMHC. He informed me that he would do everything possible to try to tighten up the administrative procedures and make sure that no one in the private limited-dividend field --

Mr. Cassidy: Your credibility isn’t too great on this one, you know.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: He assured me he would be instructing his people that they should tighten up on the administration of private limited-dividend rent increases.

However, when I asked him what the sanctions would be, the only sanction he could impose would be the withdrawal of the loan. This would mean that the landlord could then go out and refinance at a higher rate of interest and he would be back into rent review. He would then be able to go before the rent review officer and claim higher costs.

So on the basis of my discussion with Mr. Teron, with some of the arguments put forward by the members opposite, and a meeting I had with the representative of the tenants of private limited-dividend housing in Metro, I was prepared to bring in that amendment; and I will be doing so.

I also want to make it clear at this point that I propose to include public hospitals in the exemptions. The Public Hospital Association contacted me shortly after the introduction on first reading, and asked that they be included along with other non-profit organizations. Again I accept the principle that in the case of those non-profit organizations which are either publicly-funded or funded by charitable contribution, their funds should be devoted to the purposes of the organization and not to legal and administrative expenses which really simply confuse the issue. I think hospitals, educational institutions, charitable institutions, as non-profit organizations should be able to use their very limited resources for the purposes for which they are incorporated, which is educational, charitable and religious. We have no intention of putting them back into rent control.

There was a question raised about the mobile home exclusion, and I must confess I don’t understand it. There is, at the present time, an exemption for new rental accommodation and it was an oversight in the original bill that we did not exclude new mobile homes which are for rent. All we have done in the proposed amendment to the original Act is to put mobile homes on the same basis as all other rental accommodation in the province, and that is to exempt new units which have not been occupied as residential rental units prior to Jan. 1, 1976. I see nothing inconsistent about that at all. Certainly, if we do not exempt new accommodation, there will be no incentive to anyone to build new accommodation or to provide it.

Mr. Cassidy: The bill is not consistent. If you make it consistent, we will support it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I know what the hon. member for Ottawa Centre is referring to. He would say that we would have to apply this only to new mobile parks and not new mobile units.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s correct.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: On the other hand, where there has never been a mobile lot occupied, or a mobile unit occupied, we feel there is no base rent to apply and therefore it should be free of control. We will adhere to that principle; and of course depending on how the division goes, we will abide by the rule of the House.


Most of the debate, certainly on our side of the House seemed to centre on the question of the rental scale. I have said this before, and I said at the time of my introductory remarks on second reading, that I felt there is constant review of this. I remember in my previous responsibilities there was constant discussion with the public housing tenants’ association.

Mr. Bounsall: Show us the results.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: There was a problem. I’m not going to speak for my colleague, the Minister of Housing, I’m not going to commit him to any particular course of action. He obviously will have to make recommendations to the cabinet. If there are to be any changes, he will have to negotiate with the federal government.

Everybody seems to forget that the municipalities have a slightly more than small stake in the subsidization of the rent-geared-to-income plan. They have to be brought into this partnership too, because obviously any reduction in the rent scale for those in rent-geared-to-income units involves additional subsidies from the province, from the federal government and from the municipalities. I’m not too sure in their present circumstances whether they would be willing to accept that additional subsidy cost.

Mr. Cassidy: You accept that there is a problem now.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I’ve had this exchange with the member for Ottawa Centre before. Again I put it to him, as I have the floor now and I might be able to do it without any rebuttal until he decides to interject, that there really is no great trust in public intervention or public operation or public ownership or public control. What they feel and what he feels is that the only kind of public control which is acceptable is NDP control. It’s not public control, he is not really interested in this.

Mr. Renwick: No.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: In other words, if you’re going to have socialism, leave it to the pros, that’s the answer. I hear that all the time. Our view is that this programme has worked, despite all the problems we encountered in bringing in a new programme.


Mr. Speaker: Order please.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: There have been some attempts to make it appear as though the programme has no credibility. The tenants suddenly are realizing that it is a credible programme and it is working for them in the way it was intended to work. They have praised the programme with faint praise, I must say, saying that despite all of the objections the government has to this programme, it seems to be working for us in any event. They’ve said that and they continue to say it.

Mr. Cassidy: What about the photocopying?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Those are administrative techniques that I’m prepared to discuss in estimates with my friend. It has nothing to do with the principle of this bill and certainly I don’t intend to get into a long debate on administrative practices in the bill.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s not trivial, that’s serious.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: There has been some discussion as to why we have done certain things. I want to make it clear that these are not things we dreamed up on the seat of our pants. The department of social services in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto has pressed with some vigour, I would say, and with some justification, for an exclusion. I understand the Liberals now support the exemption of publicly-owned, limited-dividend housing because it applies primarily to Metro Toronto.

The first increase in 20 years was brought in on August 1, 1975. While the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) likes to talk about percentages, I would like just to point out what the actual amounts of the rent increases were. At that time, August 1, 1975, rents were increased $12 per unit per month for bachelor units and $25 per unit per month for one-bedroom units. That brought the rentals up to a low of $47.75 and a high of $72 for bachelor units and a low of $67.25 and a high of $104 for one-bedroom units -- hardly exorbitant levels of rent in Metro Toronto.

But still, limited-dividend units incurred a loss of $536,000. These operating losses were covered by the elimination of some of the reserves that had been accumulated over the years without any rent increases.

In 1976, there will be some rent increases. There will be a $4.75 increase for a bachelor unit. The suggestion was made that this be phased in. I assume we would phase in at the rate of about 35 cents a month in order to do it. There will be a $7.0 a month increase for a one-bedroom unit.

In some cases, these are in excess of eight per cent. It just happens that there are some pretty low rents being paid. That would still result in a deficit of about $322,000. Metropolitan Toronto has never declared a dividend on its limited-dividend housing and doesn’t intend to. I feel they were quite justified in asking to be excluded from the Act.

In regard to universities, we’ve had letters from the presidents of the universities ever since the rent review officers’ first decisions were made on university residences. I’m not going to read them all but simply say we’ve received them from many of the large universities in Ontario. We feel their funds should be used for education; that’s the purpose for which they raise funds and they shouldn’t have to be subsidizing student residences any more than they already do. We’ve had no complaints other than that students feel they should continue to have protection. There’s been no evidence whatsoever put before us that they need this protection and we think, in line with our consistent policy of non-profit units being excluded, that they should continue to be.

On the rent-geared-to-income issue, all I can say is, as somebody said, a minority of the people is causing the distortions. The distortions are so drastic that it seems completely unfair. I’ve heard about this for many years -- and the long waiting list of people who are trying to get into rent-geared-to-income housing. It’s always been a problem. One of the things I found when I was Minister of Housing was that there was great mobility among the tenants of these units because of the rent-geared-to-income. The only incentive to move out was when your rent got too high so you would have to go to the market and get rental accommodation.

At the present time, we’re creating a privileged class of people whose rents are frozen at almost ridiculously low rates in comparison with their incomes. I could stand here for hours and read out each and every One.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s a deception, you know.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) may be interested in one from his riding. I have the details here. It’s a most amazing case. It’s the case of a family having a combined income of $21,000 who are paying $74 a month rent.

If that’s the kind of thing the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere wants to continue in this province I think he should stand up openly and say it. That’s only one. I’m not going to repeat the hundreds of examples. I don’t think we should be putting our civil servants to the trouble of finding them because we know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these cases which have occurred in this province since rent review came in.

Mr. Cassidy: That’s bull.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I feel that if the NDP votes against this bill, it is voting to perpetuate that inconsistency.

Mr. Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 60.

The House divided on the motion, which was approved on the following vote:






























Johnson (Wellington-Dufferin-Peel)

Johnston (St. Catharines)

















Miller (Haldimand-Norfolk)


Newman (Durham-York)

Newman (Windsor-Walkerville)



Reed (Halton-Burlington)








Smith (Hamilton Mountain)

Smith (Hamilton West)











Yakabuski -- 72.







Davidson (Cambridge)

Davison (Hamilton Centre)


di Santo

















Ziemba -- 27.

Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, the “ayes” are 72, the “nays” are 27.

Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.

Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Committee of the whole House.

Mr. Speaker: Committee of the whole House? So ordered. Agreed.


Hon. B. Stephenson moved second reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Public Health Act.

Hon. B. Stephenson: For the information of the House, I will move an amendment to section 118 (2b) of the Public Health Act. Section 118 (2b) is set out in full in section 4 of the bill. The amendment is a more concise statement of the responsibilities of directors and officers of corporations. The amendment does not change the principle of responsibility, but the language is clearer and I think it provides a more equitable onus of proof.

Mr. Speaker: Does any hon. member wish to speak on this bill? The Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, does the minister wish to make no other comment on the bill?


Hon. B. Stephenson: At the moment, no.

Mr. Lewis: At the moment, no? Okay, fine.

Mr. Speaker, I have some extended comments to make on this bill, extended mostly because the situation of labs is such a difficult and complicated one that I am not sure I have mastered all the material in a way that can be coherently conveyed, but there are a number of points which we would like to make on this side of the Legislature, and shall begin to do so for the New Democratic Party, with a number of my colleagues following.

To put it quite simply, we will not support this bill. Frankly, it adds little or nothing to the situation as it already exists within the Ministry of Health. The bill is a simple mask for inaction. There is nothing about the bill which adds significantly to the improvement in the laboratory confusion which now exists and it is, I’m sorry to say, indicative of the Ministry of Health that it would bring in a bill of such palpable inconsequence in the face of such great public concern over the private laboratory network.

It is, if I may say so, an indictment of the failure of the ministry to come to grips over the last several years with the question of laboratory services. It suggests again -- and one day I hope we can understand all of this; I must admit to the acting Minister of Health that I don’t understand it myself -- what it is about the technocrats in the ministry, the cabinet itself and the strength of the medical profession, which makes it so difficult to come to grips with a subject, the problems in which most of us understand and the solutions for which seem to be readily evident.

No one will act, and this bill does not provide a vehicle for action. In fact, this bill is really an insult to the legislative process. Other than as a facile response, not very honourable or merit-worthy, I fail to understand why this bill was brought in at all, given the amendments to the Public Health Act which Dr. Richard Potter introduced in 1972. Given the subject matter that we’re likely to be debating this afternoon and thereafter, and given the explanatory notes that accompany this bill, let me remind the minister of what was said by Dr. Potter on June 20, 1972, when the original bill came in, because it is so instructive as a context within which this debate might take place.

Dr. Potter said on June 20, 1972, after a number of people had spoken, the most recent being my colleague, the hon. member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick):

“I was delighted to hear the response of the hon. members on the other side of the House concerning this bill.”

The bill to control private labs.

“I, too, have felt very strongly about it and that’s why it is here. I feel strongly about the fact that we have had such a tremendous increase in the use of our laboratory facilities, and the escalating costs of laboratory facilities in the province since this became covered by the insurance programme. There was certainly every indication here to prove to us that it was time we stepped in and had some kind of control.

“I, too, agree that this should be a responsibility of our insurance programme through our own provincial laboratories and our licensed hospitals.”

Here, in June, 1972, we have a Minister of Health who had his innovative moments. Richard Potter from time to time was an iconoclast. He gave way to the medical profession and he had to be moved; but in his early days, and in his early days as the Minister of Health, he had a spasm from time to time in the direction of useful social change. His intention in the field of labs seemed to be a good one. And notice that he not only identifies the reality of money from OHIP going to labs but he also says that it should be handled through the hospitals’ common lab system and the public lab system. He goes on:

“This is the way it always was for a good many years. It’s only since the lucrative field, shall we say, of private laboratories opened up that we found a tremendous number of labs opening in the province. It was with this in mind that we brought in this legislation to control the licensing of the laboratories and control the types of tests that they will be licensed to perform.”

That was an explicit assertion by Richard Potter on June 20, 1972.

In terms of the licensing which the minister has the right to impose by regulation, or indeed in terms of the right to withdraw the licence, what in this bill is markedly different from that which Dr. Potter identifies when speaking to the bill on June 20, 1972?

Dr. Potter, to his credit, went on. He said:

“At the present time, the laboratories that are now operating will be inspected and will be licensed to perform certain tasks. Any applications for new laboratories will be met when it can be shown that there is an actual need in that specific area for the tests to be performed and that there are no other facilities available, with the types of facilities we have today and the types of tests that can be done, many people can be transported to them very quickly and tests can be performed much more cheaply in large numbers than they can be by setting up laboratories in many areas.”

In other words, the allegedly novel right which the minister now arrogates to himself existed at the point at which the bill was introduced in June, 1972, to control the licensing of the labs. As a matter of fact, the kinds of criteria which were to be developed for the disposition of the licences are exactly the kinds of criteria which the minister includes in section 2 (45i) of this allegedly new bill.

Dr. Potter continued:

“As was asked here a minute or two ago [it was asked by the member for Riverdale:] under section (f) of these regulations ‘prescribing classes of persons who shall not he owners of laboratories or of any interest therein,’ I, for one, do not believe that any physician, any practising physician, who is practising medicine, should be involved in any connection with laboratories, any more than I think he should have anything to do with nursing homes.”

Interesting. In June, 1972, Dr. Potter makes that unequivocal statement It is now almost four years later, and the same regulation which existed in June, 1972, to remove what Dr. Potter identifies as a clear conflict of interest, has never been implemented by this ministry. It is still there. This bill does nothing to change that. The regulation which the ministry has on its books to control what Dr. Potter identified almost four years ago as a conflict of interest hasn’t been altered, and yet the minister pretends with this bill that it will be altered.

The minister will forgive the official opposition if we have a lack of faith, a simple lack of confidence in the ministry to enact now what it has refused to uphold for four years with all the authority in the world. The ultimate irony about all that -- and I will come to it in a moment -- is that in this bill there is still no clause which prevents a conflict of interest for the physician.

If Dr. Potter, in June, 1972, was speaking on behalf of the government, as the Minister of Health expressing government policy, that a physician should not have a dual interest, i.e. accreditation in a hospital and ownership of a laboratory, then almost four years later this minister has repudiated that principle.

Somehow, the Ministry of Health and cabinet have decided that a conflict of interest is acceptable. All they deal with in this bill is a more refined definition of kickbacks. But as my colleague from Riverdale has suggested to me and to my caucus-mates a number of times over the last couple of weeks, kickbacks can be dealt with in the Criminal Code. There is no reason for this additional clause, although there is no harm in it being there, but it sure as the devil isn’t sufficient justification of its own to give support to a bill which is a mirror image of what we already passed and was never implemented.

Just to show how mindlessly repetitive this bill is in the position the government now is taking in relation to the position in June of, 1972, and what a total cop-out it is in terms of defending the public interest, Dr. Potter went on:

“By the same token, under section (m) which was questioned, ‘instituting a system for the payment by the province of all or any part of the annual expenditures of laboratories in lieu of the amounts payable under the Health Insurance Act,’ already we have instituted in our hospital laboratories a budget type of payment. I think this is one method that I would like to consider for the private laboratories to get away from the fee-for-service basis. Under a system such as this, we would get away from the suggestion that was made here earlier today of the kickbacks and this type of thing.”

What a funny, antiquated hypnotic kind of resonance this speech of Dr. Potter’s became. The minister should emblazon it on some drawing board, blow it up and put it over the desks of OHIP officialdom, because everything that was said in this Legislature by the Minister of Health four years ago has been repudiated by the Ministry of Health through the intervening period.

It really is a commentary on the way this government works that the minister introduces a bill today with no more teeth than it had before and she is trying to fob it off on the public as though she is doing something. With the greatest of respect, she is doing nothing. As a matter of fact, there was more feeling for the issue four years ago than there is today.

Dr. Potter went on, and I won’t quote him much longer but it’s worth having on the record:

“I think that the public must be made aware that health facilities and health services, as we are providing them for the citizens of Ontario, are for the citizens; that we are not providing them as a method of making a fast buck or as a convenience for either the physician or for the patient; that we are providing them as a needed service and, as such, we are not going to stand by and see some individuals make a racket out of it or make a lot of money out of it. I expect anyone to make a decent salary and to make a fair profit but I don’t expect people to make a killing out of some of these things that are necessary for the rest of the citizens of Ontario.”

Let those words haunt the government. There, in simple form, is an explicit statement of everything the government has allowed to happen over the last four years. There is its indictment. If we were reading it before a criminal prosecution dealing with, let us say the doctors who violated propriety in their transactions with Abko, this would form an indictment of particulars quite sufficient in itself.

Four years later the government has the temerity, the presumption, to bring in a bill which means nothing. The government asks us to accept it with some kind of enthusiasm in the Legislature, when all it is doing is ploughing irrelevant ground which it furrowed irrelevantly itself four years ago.

I wonder what old Doc Potter would think now? That earthy, charming, gregarious fellow presumably thought he spoke in good faith in 1972, only to be betrayed by everyone around him. As a result of the betrayal of what this Legislature was given in good faith from the mouth of the Minister of Health in 1972, we have lost somewhere between $30 million and $40 million of public money which the government has squandered. We have invited a scurrilous arrangement of kick-backs and impropriety. We have not yet dealt with conflict of interest and we have only had the occasional fragile public experiment to respond to what we all understood four years ago was an inherent danger. I don’t understand how that works.

I must say to the acting Minister of Health I realize that she has inherited this situation and she is now attempting to deal with it. I suggest, respectfully, that she is being taken in by the alleged substance of the bill. I don’t know how she gets away with it. I don’t know how all of this is possible -- four years later the government is prepared to go through the same ritual again. We’re not prepared to support it. We’re not prepared to support the same ministry, which repudiated its commitments for four years, in its alleged reversal of heart in May, 1976.

Let me go further. We have heard from my colleague the member for Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) references to the Committee on the Healing Arts, I guess, which gave its report in 1970 raising questions about the whole private lab network. The leader of the Liberal Party has made reference to a document or documents dealing with tenders and other matters. I imagine that will emerge during the course of the debate.

Clearly the Ministry of Health was seized of the problem and many of its people met on it and discussed it. Clearly, even though they knew the words of Dr. Potter, it is now revealed that none of them took it seriously, none f them ever treated it seriously. The government made buffoons of us in this Legislature and we object to that. It used its power as a government in 1972 to pull a mask over the difficulty of private labs and then systematically closed the door on action. I must say it’s not particularly pleasant to have been hurtled from the Bunsen burner into the fire, because that is what happened in the intervening four years.


Quickly, leading from the principle of the bill, I and my colleagues think that the bill itself is irrelevant in most parts. The bill adds a fine here or them and a more explicit definition of kickbacks, but it is irrelevant to the main point, that we continue to need a public inquiry in this area. May I say to the acting Minister of Health I have always been one, and I’ve said it publicly, who appreciates the caution with which the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) approaches public inquiries. I feel reassured that there is an Attorney General who says that public inquiries shouldn’t be fishing expeditions, that if you give us enough information we will consider one.

I must say, it’s the context of this debate on private labs, now that we have had the Abko revelations from the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba) -- almost all of them, in fact I think all of them -- vindicated, with one small exception by the College of Physicians and Surgeons; now that the government has had the reference to S and M Labs in the Legislature, none of which references have been effectively repudiated by the government and they’re under clear investigation; now that it has had material turned over again by the member for High Park-Swansea to the OPP, just yesterday; now that it has had evidence, at least in news reports, I presume by journalists of reasonable character, that investigators discussed the using of guns and that the OPP anti-racket squad is worried about underworld money; now that the government has a sense of so many labs being inquired into and much of this creating confusion and anxiety: It really needs a public inquiry.

One of the arguments I found most specious today was the suggestion that the government couldn’t conduct a police inquiry concurrent with a public inquiry. Of course it can, There is no reason why it shouldn’t be done. As a matter of fact, I remember public inquiries where that was the case and where evidence from further OPP investigations was brought before the judge who was appointed during the course of the inquiry.

The government has enough that is now brewing and simmering, about private labs. There is evidence on every front. It’s a Pandora’s box, which opens week by week, which should make the acting Minister of Health insist that a public inquiry be called.

I really must say that the behaviour of the Ministry of Health in this regard is inexcusable. I really don’t know where the revelations will end but I hope they end soon just to put everybody’s mind at rest. Let me take it a step further which we in this caucus consider most serious of all, because damnably enough, there will always be impropriety in this world and there will always be those who will abuse the public system. The government’s refusal to ferret them out and deal with them is our collective problem, but there are other problems as well.

The other problem is that the government has allowed public money to be abused by the way in which it administers the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and its relationship with the setting of fees for private laboratories. That is quite unforgivable. It is truly unforgivable that the government created such a stir, such a sensation through the Province of Ontario, running around and closing down small hospitals in small communities when it has known for four years, with an enormous welter of evidence, that it could make much greater savings overall by reforming the way in which the private labs were dealt with from the public purse. Why the government refuses to come to grips with something which is so palpable yet deal with something which is so vulnerable, speaks to its perversity rather than to its acumen or to its willingness to deal effectively with the health delivery system.

I think it’s truly immoral to continue the present system much longer. I just hope this debate and the public focus and everything else -- and I admit that I’m learning and groping a bit in what I try to absorb about these private labs, public labs and hospital labs, and I don’t speak with the authority of the medical profession or anyone else who has expertise; I have only, had my finger pricked on occasion, blood drawn and then the mystery is performed and I get the results -- but I must say that even the little I have been able to absorb suggests to me that the minister’s priorities are really quite dreadful.

I want to deal, therefore, with one or two specific points in the bill in sequence, to make the case for the waste of money -- my, a lot of it is interesting -- and to make the case for what the government should be doing.

No. 1: There is nothing in this bill which prohibits a conflict of interest; nothing. There is nothing in this bill which says to the medical profession: “There is an inherent conflict of interest in your being a doctor of a hospital in the pathology division and at the same time owning a private lab facility.” It is beyond human scope to ask perfectly normal people like doctors, or perhaps perfectly abnormal people like doctors, to have a patient come to them, present himself or herself for a series of tests, and then try to decide: “Do I refer you to the hospital lab or do I refer you to the private lab where I have a private financial interest?”

It is just too much to ask of the medical profession, and it is not right that it should continue to persist. There have to be some rules and regulations set out in this Act, and it contains such rules and regulations nowhere that we can discern, which simply say to the medical profession: “Look, you’ve every right in the world to practise medicine and to perform tests in hospital, but to have a private financial interest in a related lab is a conflict of interest which is not brooked by the laws Of Ontario.”

That is exactly what Dr. Potter said: “I, for one, do not believe that any physician, any practising physician who is practising medicine, should be involved in any connection with laboratories.” And Dr. Potter is right. Isn’t it amazing that four years later, in 1976, we still haven’t got that principle in this bill.

How can the minister ask the opposition to support it? How can she ask us to support it? Why; because she simply throws in something about kickbacks, which is dealt with ineffectually by the College of Physicians and Surgeons and can be dealt with effectively by the law? She can’t ask us to support a bill on those grounds alone. The central issue, which involves the protection of the public and the medical profession, she has not even dealt with.

The second point; the billing procedures. The bill makes no changes which would limit the kind or amount of billing done by private labs. No, it doesn’t, no; you have the right which you have had for years.

Hon. B. Stephenson: It does not fall within this Act.

Mr. Lewis: Oh it doesn’t fall within this Act? But it does fall within this Act. With great respect, the regulation which gives the minister the opportunity to pay in a fashion other than fee-for-service for tests and services performed, that regulation flowing from this Act will give her the right to alter the fee schedule in a way which would prohibit the abuse, and that is perfectly a part of this Act. How can she bring in an amendment to the Public Health Act dealing with the present public controversy if she is not going to come to grips with the OMA fee schedule paying private labs?

I want to make some comments about that, because that seems to me to be the crux of the matter and for some reason the Minister of Health will not deal with it. The New Democratic Party would like to put to her a formula called the least-cost principle. I know that least-cost is not something that commends itself to government -- to this government -- but we believe the least-cost principle makes sense. What we are doing with the Ontario Medical Association fee schedule paying for lab services performed -- if I understand it now -- is rewarding the manual performance of the tests in a disproportionate fashion. The ministry has set up a fee schedule in conjunction with the Ontario Medical Association that supports or reinforces increased payments. It has set up a fee schedule which is weighted to the performance of tests manually, rather than by automated means, and which costs the public an enormous amount of money.

For example, let me be very specific. The minister, because it’s her field not mine, will know there is something called the Coulter counter, the Coulter S. The Coulter S is a machine which takes a single sample and performs a multiple test. When one is dealing with something as simple as blood, haematology testing, using the Coulter S -- I’m using it as an example -- which is widely used in the public hospitals of Ontario, let me remind the minister, used I guess in 90 per cent or better of the public hospitals in Ontario, seven tests can be done in 40 seconds.

They do a white cell count; a red cell count; haemoglobin; haematocrit, MCV, meaning mean cell volumes; HCM, meaning mean cell haemoglobin; and MCHC, meaning mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration. Those latter three tests are simply thrown in by the Coulter S. The four tests performed in 40 seconds by the Coulter test, an excellent, scrupulous, automated piece of equipment, are done manually and are billed on a separate unit basis. If one does those tests manually, one will charge OHIP $5.66. If one does those tests through the Coulter counter, one will charge OHIP exactly $2 because they are classed as multi-channel haematology under the payment schedule.

Just let the acting minister ponder on that for a moment. I imagine that the test which is most frequently requested by physicians is a simple blood test, simple haematology. If it goes through a hospital in-common lab, the cost to the public is $2. If it goes through the private lab network -- where there is only one lab in Ontario now reporting the use of a Coulter counter or a private automated piece of that kind, only one lab reporting the use of that kind of machinery -- the cost would be $5.66.

As a matter of fact, here’s something I’d like the minister to inquire into; inquire into the number of private labs in Ontario that have the automated equipment and don’t use it because it is more lucrative for them to bill on the manual basis. Ironically where one performs multiple testing with a single specimen, even then it’s more lucrative for the private labs to do it on that basis in terms of the money they receive from OHIP.

In other words, we have stacked the Ontario Health Insurance Plan in its payment to the private labs in favour of manual, laborious, more inefficient testing and we are paying enormous additional amounts of money as a result. I did a little bit of personal inquiry just to try to sense these automated pieces of equipment, and it really interested me to note how heavily they are used in some of the public hospitals and how they are very rarely used in the private labs. Yet for the private labs there is no limit on the amount of money they can extort; yet for the public hospitals the ministry has placed a very fierce limit on what they can take.

Let me come then to what might be provided. The ministry could provide a fee schedule which works on what is called the least-cost principle, whereby one rate is set for the test, and that’s the lowest automated rate and no matter how the test is performed that’s what the government pays and not a penny more.


Alternately, the government could set a standard rate, which is a little lower than the manual rate and a little higher than the automated rate, but the only rate which is paid. Or, it could do as Alberta does. I have their fee schedule with me, and I assume the minister has looked at it. Ontario could set up a payment schedule which is based on number, volume of tests and speed and automation.

Again, they pay significantly less in Alberta than we pay in Ontario. For whatever reason, the Ontario Medical Association has constructed a fee schedule, approved by the Province of Ontario, which invites abuse. They have constructed a fee schedule which places the dependence on high-cost services, and it’s time the minister put an end to that.

It’s time that the whole fee schedule were revamped in order to implement the least-cost principle. When I think of the difference between $5.66 for blood sample as opposed to $2 -- more than 2½ times the cost to the public purse of what should be permitted -- then I can see what the real problem is. The real problem doesn’t simply lie in the area of those doctors who abuse the system through kickbacks, the problem lies in the way in which the ministry has fashioned the whole payment model.

Yet in this legislation, so far as we can see, the minister has refused to implement the regulations which she has at her command to put an end to that kind of nonsense. Now, Dr. Potter acknowledged it in 1972; and on March 3 of this year, the minister suggested that basing the fee on volume was an alternative the ministry was considering. Well where’s the alternative? It’s now May 4. We have to wait forever for the Ministry of Health.

By the by, does the minister know it’s two months to the day that I wrote the letter to the Ministry of Health asking for those reported tests on the asbestos counts at Hedman Mines? How long does one have to wait around this joint in order to get some kind of initiative or response from the Ministry of Health? And so far nothing that would pull into cheek the fee schedule.

So that brings up the third point I want to make, and it deals with the enforcement provisions in the legislation. Although the bill gives the minister the power to limit tests, she has no idea of whether or not the labs are billing for appropriate procedures. There’s been nothing established within the ministry through its computers to check whether or not a private lab is behaving appropriately. I am told that one of the more ludicrous scenes recently witnessed at Queen’s Park was when certain journalists -- one at least from the Toronto Star -- watched the computer programmers attempt to extract information about Abko Medical Laboratory and other labs from the OHIP computer. Neither the computer programmers -- that is, the ministry officials -- nor the police, nor anyone else could get any pertinent information out of the ministry’s computers.

What the ministry has done is construct a fail-safe system for public abuse. It’s got a neat little foolproof monolith in OHIP which has made it possible that a fee payment schedule which is wrong -- which rewards disproportionate inefficiency -- a fee payment schedule which encourages abuse and a system which has no policing, should be continued to eternity. The minister smiles when the public pays $70 million to $80 million in 1975-76 and something over $17 million in 1971. That’s an increase of 350 per cent in OHIP payments alone.

I say again, it really sticks in the craw when you thick of the $7 million or $8 million the ministry allegedly saved in the closing down of all those little hospitals, while it had a pot of gold at the end of this private lab network that it was never willing to extract for public use.

As a matter of fact, the minister doesn’t even have in this bill a requirement that the private labs pay the public the money that they may have spent in kickbacks or in procedures illegitimately billed. We don’t even have in this bill a way of our getting back the money to which the public should have access. There is nothing here which would say to the private labs, where we find proof of culpability, “You have an obligation to return to the public a given amount of money.” This bill is a carte blanche to continue doing in the future what has been going on since June, 1972, and we just won’t support it. We just won’t support legislation as clearly inconsequential as this.

That brings me to the fourth point I want to make. What is the answer to this whole private lab mess? How the devil did we get into it and how the devil do we get out of it? It seems to me that the answer -- and again the ministry has known it for as long as any of us have been around’-lies largely in the kind of study that was provided by the Hamilton group of hospitals, and I concede happily and willingly, with the support of the ministry, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal I guess just yesterday. What felicitous timing for this debate.

The report, which is made by the Hamilton hospitals which attempted an integrated lab programme, is absolutely overwhelming. There is no more room for argument. The whole debate is irrelevant. We don’t have to discuss it any more. There are few things which are vested with as much certitude as this report. Why are we then here dealing with this bill which touches on the periphery rather than the core?

They make a couple of notable in-passing references to these people who have produced the report; these eminent medical specialists. They say: “Although professional staff provide extensive clinical and consultative services they accept no professional fees, nor do any of them have a personal financial interest in outside laboratory services.” Again, the same refrain is struck. So where is it in the legislation? I’ve turned to all of my legal counsel, and this party is rife with experts on legislation. We can’t find anywhere that there is a protection against the conflict of interest I have already raised, yet clearly that was the core of what this experiment was all about; a comprehensive, integrated experiment to allow the hospitals in Hamilton and vicinity to do through their public in-common labs the kind of thing that we can’t do in a private lab.

Then I go on to the end of their reporting. They say: “The major difficulty facing further expansion of hospital outpatient laboratory services can be directly attributed to the method of funding by the Ontario government.” Does the minister need anything more conclusive? The minister says to me that it is within this bill? Balderdash. Where is it?

When is she going to come to grips with reality? Why does she play these charades with us? Isn’t it enough that the ministry pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes in June of 1972? Why must she be so insistent on doing it again? Here we have a report, partly supported with Funds from the ministry, which indicates what she should do and then she brings in a bill which does none of it. How is it worthy of support? They go on to say:

“Commercial laboratories bill the government for all the tests they perform and their revenue rises in direct proportion to volume. The fee schedule makes no allowance for the volume of tests performed and therefore it does not reflect the low incremental cost achieved by the most up-to-date automated equipment.”

Again, the points we have been making. Why is it not possible for the government to move when matters are presented so conclusively?

They go on to say:

“The Ontario Ministry of Health is urged to change the funding method so that the actual cost of diagnostic and laboratory services is met by an appropriate realistic level of support for public hospitals and commercial laboratories etc.”

I have asked some of our research people and some of those with whom we met, knowledgeable in the field, “What can we do? Is there any way of getting out of this private lab fiasco?”

I will tell the minister what we did, which may be of some interest to her. We looked at the hospital statistics of 1974, the most recent material we could find on labs. We looked at all of the in-common hospital labs by hospital and we said, “Suppose all of the in-common labs were operating at the best level of efficiency in a group of hospitals or in certain individual hospitals, or suppose they were operating at a level of efficiency equivalent to that of the average public health lab. Would there be sufficient excess capacity in the hospital labs to absorb much of the work of the private lab network?”

The findings, in fact, were startling. Let me assure the minister that we took into account some of the factors which we simply do not have access to. We couldn’t find out the exact distribution of tests being done in the hospital lab and private lab sectors, although we can get a pretty good idea of it by consultation. We couldn’t get the 1975 DBS unit workload of hospital labs, because only the 1974 figures are available and there may have been some expansion, which I concede in advance. We didn’t get the exact reasons for the widely varying workloads in hospital labs, although that is probably a judgement call which can be made looking at the hospital lab in the vicinity it serves.

But we did have enough. We had a lot of basic raw data; and we have something more which we value. We went to the public health lab in Woodstock and looked carefully at the number of DBS units which it performs. The minister well knows -- and I am putting it on the record because it’s important -- that DBS is simply a workload measure for every single test; it’s a one-person, one-minute measure which the Dominion Bureau of Statistics arrives at. In order to make a faithful comparison between hospital labs and private labs, it is necessary to calculate the equivalent LMS, the labour-material-supervision formula, which the private labs use. So there is a conversion factor involved. It is very tough to get one’s hands on the conversion factor, and one of the great values was that the head of the public health lab in Woodstock, a man of supreme excellence, Dr. Michael Casselman, whose judgement is unfailing --

Hon. Mr. Parrott: He is not the head of the lab.

Mr. Lewis: -- and I note that he subsequently sought and won the candidacy for the New Democratic Party in Oxford riding. But I am sure, since he worked for the public health service for so many years of estimable contribution, that the minister would regard the integrity of his figures with as much favour as we do.

What Dr. Michael Casselman did, as an expert in his field and as the head of the lab, was to take out the controls, the standards and the repeats, as they are called, when you calculate the DBS units, and worked out the LMS unit equivalent. It turned out to be a conversion factor of 0.48 per cent. In other words, you get the total number of DBS units; and the LMS equivalent, when you take out those other matters, is approximately 50 per cent of DBS. It’s a very useful conversion factor to have. He did this, test by test. Then we checked it with hospital labs and with other doctors in the public and private field; they looked at that conversion factor. Then we looked at the conversion factor in the Hamilton study, just tabled.

Interestingly enough, they go through the same procedure in order to arrive at a calculation of cost saving. So I feel pretty good about that, and I wish that since it was possible, even in a rough and ready way, for us to do it in the New Democratic caucus and, I suspect, for the Liberal party to do it, it really makes you wonder why the government has never come to grips with it. The horrendous additional expenditures we are paying through the public purse would never have been tolerated had the ministry done the calculation.

To put it in simple terms, using the summary hospital data -- that is, the overall data for all of the hospital groups, group A, B, C. etc. -- and extracting the most efficient hospital as far as lab tests are concerned, we found that the excess capacity was estimated at 137 million units measured on a LMS basis.


We also found that the private labs -- this is a simple statistical calculation; one divides the total number of dollars paid out by 33% cents per unit, which is what we pay in OHIP -- one finds that the private labs for the year under examination did 177 million units of work. There is excess capacity in the public hospital system of 137 million units. In other words, using the most efficient hospital in overall groupings, 77 per cent of the current private lab work could presumably be absorbed in the public hospitals.

Let me take it a step further. Knowing that that was kind of a gross calculation, we refined it and we looked at the individual hospital within these broad categories. We looked at the hospitals with over 900 beds; and 500 to 899 beds; and 100 to 499 beds in group A. We looked at all the bed breakdowns in group B, and we looked at the breakdowns in group C. Refining the calculation a little more and, again, using an efficiency level of the most efficient hospital in lab performance in that given group, we learned that the excess capacity in public hospitals -- that is, capacity which could be performed -- was 85 million units; or 48 per cent of the current private lab workload on that basis could be absorbed currently into the hospital workload.

When we looked at the efficiency of the public lab, we took an average here because if we took the most efficient which, I believe, is the Soo lab, it was such a high level of efficiency we decided that would distort the calculation. We wanted the calculation to be authentic and legitimate so we took the average in the public health labs and we learned, to our amazement, that the excess capacity in the hospital system using the efficiency of the public health labs was something like 173 million units. To put it another way, we could absorb 92 per cent of the workload presently done in the private labs in the hospitals on that basis.

I will recapitulate for the House. If we convert, as we must convert, the DBS units into the LMS units for purposes of comparison -- which we have scrupulously done using Woodstock as the crucible -- and if we take a look at the levels of efficiency in the various hospital groupings and in the public labs we find that the public hospitals now could absorb between 48 per cent and 92 per cent of the work being done in the private labs at this moment without any further duress.

The minister shakes her head. She’s worried about the formula; she doesn’t believe the content. She should go back, if I may suggest, and read this Hamilton study which points out conclusively that everything we are saying is valid because that’s exactly what they’ve done in Hamilton. The only thing which delimits what they’ve done in Hamilton is additional money from the Ministry of Health.

As a matter of fact, what is true of all of this, of course, is if we are dealing with excess capacity we don’t have to hire all that many additional people. We don’t have to buy any new equipment. We may have to add some -- what do they call it? What do we call the chemicals they mix?

An hon. member: Reagents.

Mr. Lewis: Reagents. We may have to buy some further reagents and we may have to add one or two technicians, I suppose. By and large, given the present hospital excess capacity, we could gradually eliminate the private labs in the Province of Ontario as a desperate call on the public purse and hire their personnel for any expansion of the public hospital lab network so we really don’t have to worry about loss of jobs. We could integrate them in the public hospital networks and public lab networks.

May I say to the minister that since the whole rationale of the Hamilton study was to provide non-profit lab service, I want to know why it’s necessary to shell out $70 million to $80 million from OHIP in this fiscal year to serve a profit to a great many entrepreneurs, some of whose actions are suspect and all of whose system is under scrutiny.

If there were not such incredible intransigence in the Ministry of Health; if there were not such powerful medical control, I suspect, in the whole lab area -- it’s the Ontario Medical Association that sets the fee schedule, I remind the minister -- surely it would be possible to do all this?

Mr. S. Smith: It goes even further; the assistant to the minister protects them.

Mr. Lewis: The leader of the Liberal Party says it may go even further; I don’t comprehend it. All I know it that the facts are as clear as they have ever been. The minister knows the mess we are in. She understands what is being revealed about private labs; she knows that the fee payment schedule is skewered; she knows there are tests illegitimately performed.

Hon. B. Stephenson: No, I don’t know that.

Mr. Lewis: You don’t know that there are tests illegitimately performed?

I predict there are tests illegitimately performed somewhere in the Province of Ontario about to be made real. Okay? I live in the world of reality from time to time. I don’t effuse over my technocratic little charts in the Ministry of Health, spinning fantasies and webs which bear no relation to the real world at all. I am prepared to predict there will be some illegitimate tests found in this OPP inquiry and investigation.

The government knows all that is wrong. It heard the words of the Minister of Health in 1972; it sees it made undertakings for four years none of which it followed. Yet it brings in this insult to the legislative process, this amendment to the Public Health Act, which isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

I take my seat and recapitulate, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in this bill which eliminates conflict of interest. There is nothing in this bill which alters the fee payment schedule under the OMA and therefore saves the public the $30 million to $40 million a year which should be saved. There is nothing in this bill which acknowledges the transfer from private labs to the public sector which is now chronicled for all to see in the Hamilton experiment and available on a research basis to those who care to pursue it. There is nothing in this bill except a nod in the direction of kickbacks, which could be handled equally well by the Criminal Code. The bill is a comment on everything the Tory party stands for -- vacuity and irrelevance -- and we will not support it.

Mr. S. Smith: There being only a few moments left this afternoon, I have decided that what I would like to do is just touch on one or two points today and then, when the debate resumes, make the bulk of our argument with regard to this particular piece of legislation.

I think the situation with regard to the private labs in this province has been absolutely shameful and the interesting thing is that it is not as though the ministry was not warned about this some years ago. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has read some of the comments of Dr. Potter, the former Minister of Health. We can well imagine that Dr. Potter’s comments were themselves based on information he received from his ministry, from the various civil servants who knew very well, five and six years ago, that the system of billing in the private laboratories was an open invitation not only to extravagance and dishonesty but simply, in the colloquial jargon, to rip off the system. It is practically an invitation to steal and even honest people would find difficulty resisting a system as idiotic as the one which has been in force.

The interesting thing is that if one looks at the Public Health Act, under regulation 45(N), there are a number of things the Lieutenant Governor in Council is permitted to do. The government can make regulations regarding a number of things including prescribing classes of persons who shall not be owners of laboratories or have any interest therein.

Yet it has done nothing. It has chosen to do nothing. It is interesting that in my repeated questioning in this Legislature which I will summarize on a future occasion, asking how long the ministry had known that this system of billing in the private labs was open to abuse and in fact could never possibly be considered efficient and was wasteful of public money, I kept getting the sort of obfuscating answers which were delivered by the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) and by the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson). Various red herrings were introduced about so-called Ontario Council of Health documents, which were never requested and never referred to. In point of fact, I would like to read into the record a document dated June 18, 1972: “Submission to Management Committee on Medical Plan Funding Shortage.” It’s on Ministry of Health letterhead. It says:

“Last year, the Policy and Priorities Board approved a $50 million constraint package for health insurance in order to lower the rise in health costs. The constraints were approved for implementation in 1972-1973. Instructions have been received from the minister’s office not to proceed with implementation of the constraints.”

It goes on to comment on a few other things -- they have to reinstate the $50 million and so on -- and says, under background information, in paragraph two:

“The Policy and Priorities Board has approved the following constraints for tightening up the medical plan.”

And it goes on to certain things like computer rules, medical necessity, formula payment, establishment standards, limits on benefits, restricting specialists rates and it goes on and this is the operative part:

“Replacement of fee-for-service in selected areas was also approved.” The Policy and Priorities Board approved it. It goes on to salaries, capitation for clinics, community health centres, budget payments. Then: “No. 4, contracts for labs: Competitive bidding by private labs for provision of laboratory services.” This was passed in 1971.

It is included in this document, the 1972 document. Then they go on to other payment methods, alternatives and certain conclusions about how they have to reinstate the money and so on and so forth.

It is perfectly obvious that the Ministry of Health has known for years that the system of billing that it has adopted for the private laboratories was an open invitation to abuse and inefficiency and an utter wasting of the public funds. It is interesting that as laboratory costs have been climbing, from $17.8 million in 1971-1972 to over $30 million two years ago to the point where now, in the first six months of 1975-1976, it is $34.6 million -- it will probably come to a total of about $70 million in this particular fiscal year -- they have known full well that what was predicted by the civil servants and what was accepted by the Policy and Priorities Board of Cabinet was coming true.

Year by year they could see that, and yet rumour has it that the assistant to the Minister of Health, a certain practitioner from the Muskoka area, persists in advising the minister -- and this is only rumour -- that somehow this is private enterprise that’s being involved. We are a private enterprise party, and I know we get a number of guffaws about this from the people to the right, but it is something we believe in, we’re entitled, but we don’t see these private laboratories as representing private enterprise at all.

Mr. Makarchuk: Sure they do, that’s exactly the case.

Mr. S. Smith: These are simply ways in which public funds are channelled into private sources and, in fact, have no resemblance to true competition or trust private enterprise. This is a mistaken notion on the part of the Minister of Health.

Mr. MacDonald: That’s private enterprise.

Mr. S. Smith: I did give your leader a certain amount of respect and listened to his very interesting address.

Mr. MacDonald: He was never as ludicrous at any point as you are being.

Mr. S. Smith: You might consider giving the same respect. You don’t have to; you are entitled to carry on like kindergarten children.

Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. member think this is a convenient point to adjourn the debate?

Mr. S. Smith: I will summarize in just a moment, Mr. Speaker. What we intend to show, and what I will show as a little time goes by, is that there are all kinds of practices in the billing arrangement used by the labs, and that the system of paying at the rate of a least-efficient producer, something I brought up in this House before, was bound and certain to waste tens of millions of the public funds and this ministry has done nothing about it.

This bill is a superficial bill. It touches virtually nothing and I find the whole thing rather unnecessary. Whether we support or vote against it will probably depend strictly on the issue of whether we want an election or not.

Mr. Lewis: A memorable comment.

Mr. S. Smith: But the bill itself is actually a shameful piece of superficial garbage put forward by a government that for four years has allowed the public purse to be drained dry by unscrupulous methods of billing in the private lab system.

Mr. S. Smith moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.

Clerk of the House: The first order, resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.