30e législature, 3e session

L105 - Tue 2 Nov 1976 / Mar 2 nov 1976

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Mr. Edighoffer: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to make a few comments in regard to Bill 133, An Act to amend The Assessment Act. I rise to support this legislation as I know it will postpone the hardships on the taxpayers.

My colleague from Waterloo North (Mr. Good) ably outlined the party’s position on market value assessment, but I could not let this opportunity pass, as an ardent reader of speeches by the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen). I’d like just very briefly to put on record a few quotes from the minister’s recent speech to the Golden Mile Kiwanis Club on October 20, justifying the need for market value assessment. It seems that this was just six days before he introduced the bill to put off market value assessment for another year, I will just quote very briefly:

The province-wide introduction of market value assessment is just around the corner. I am sure you’ll agree that assessing all the properties in a large and diversified jurisdiction like Ontario presents some very interesting challenges. If I might boast for a second, our assessment system in this province is one of the most progressive in the world, and we’re quite proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Mr. Worton: Progressive but not necessarily Conservative.

Mr. B. Newman: Who said that?

Mr. Edighoffer: This was said by the Minister of Revenue on October 20. Then he goes on:

But we have no intention of resting on our laurels. We are now focusing our efforts on a programme to familiarize taxpayers with our new system. As part of this programme, every regional assessment office in the province will be holding an open house next year after the market value assessment notices have been issued. I urge you to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to discuss the market value assessment programme with our staff and to obtain information on the finer details of your property valuation. The specific time and date for this event will be well advertised locally when the final details are worked out.

Mr. Nixon: He said that?

Mr. Riddell: It’ll be an open house, but an empty house.

Mr. Edighoffer: The questions that come to my mind in discussing this bill are why this government has an inability to complete market value assessment and why did the minister just find out in the six days prior to announcing the bill? I’ll support this bill but I’m concerned about the co-ordination in the cabinet when the minister goes around talking to groups telling them about market value assessment and how they will advertise it next year and then bringing in a bill six days later to change the plan.

As I say, we’ll support this legislation. I think probably this party has been condemned for its flip-flopping but maybe the government should now receive some of that.

Mr. Grande: I just have a very few comments on this bill, An Act to amend The Assessment Act. Some of the things I would like to talk about include the fact that this particular ministry, this particular government, brought in as a result of the budget papers 15 proposals. They set up the Blair commission to receive briefs from the public, whether they be taxpayers, whether they be school boards or from any source. As a matter of fact, I thought perhaps here for the first time in reality we have a Conservative government interested in consultation and interested in finding out what the people out there are thinking. That’s really clearly the first time. Then I came to terms with that kind of process they’re following, and I said, “Why are they doing that? That’s not their usual style.”

I have to come to the conclusion that really the Blair commission is nothing else than just set up there to do what the government wants it to do. There were 15 proposals in April. The Blair commission has received a tremendous amount of input about which even the government, I’m sure, was very surprised. They didn’t expect the boards of education across Metro to be flocking to the commission saying, “There’s no way that we can pay these taxes”; the separate school hoard saying, “If we’re going to be paying these taxes, we’re going to be closing the doors of some of our schools”; and the Toronto Board of Education stating that in certain areas of the city of Toronto taxes are going to be increasing by as much as 92 per cent. In some areas they are going to be decreasing.

In all of this consultation process, though, I can’t forget to think that perhaps if the government, or that party on the other side of this House were in power in majority right now, they would follow their old kind of process of saying, “We’ll enact the law. If you’re not happy, take it up with someone else.”

Since the April budget, I’ve been fortunate in going to three different places in the province and I found out that farmers certainly are not happy with these proposals. The educational institutions, as I’ve suggested, are not happy with these proposals. The independent schools are not happy with these proposals.

Mr. Nixon: It has nothing to do with this bill.

Mrs. Campbell: Nothing to do with this bill.

Mr. Renwick: I think it is very pertinent.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, since the matter has now been brought to your attention by interjection, your deputy specifically ruled this line of debate out of order before dinner, involving people on this side of the House --

Ms. Gigantes: He did not.

Mr. Nixon: -- because, as he pointed out very correctly, the bill deals only with market value assessment. If you’re going to permit a full debate on budget paper H, then we’re going to be here for a long evening.

Mr. Cassidy: Are you guys ever in the vest pocket of the government? Whenever the government is in trouble, you bail them out.

Mr. Renwick: They can always count on you.

Mr. Nixon: I suggest that you show some consistency.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I was just paying close attention to the remarks to see if they were related to the principle of the bill. I really don’t need the hon. member’s advice on this.

Mr. Renwick: That’s right.

Mr. Speaker: I was paying attention to it and I could tell you that ofttimes a person strays, but they get back to the bill. Order, please.

Mr. Cassidy: Exactly.

Mr. Speaker: But we don’t allow straying consistently for too long a time. Sometimes you have to listen to it to see whether it’s backing up the principle of the bill, I point out.

Mr. Renwick: As a matter of fact, we never stray.

Mr. Speaker: The principle of this bill is whether a certain action will take place next year or whether it be extended a year. I ask the hon. member to keep to that and not bring in outside issues. If you would do that, please.

Mr. Cassidy: To err is human and to stray divine.

Mr. Grande: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thought, as a matter of fact, that I was on the principle of the bill.

Mr. Speaker: I might point out to the hon. member that discussing the actions of any group or party, whatever it might be, I think has nothing to do with the bill. It’s really the principle of the bill which should be discussed. Thank you.

Mr. Nixon: Gee, that’s a revelation.

Mr. Deans: He’s talking about the reason for the delay. That is quite on the point.

Mr. Grande: That’s exactly what I’m going to do, what you’re suggesting I’m doing, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Breaugh: Back to the start.

Mr. Grande: As my colleague back here said to me a little while ago while a member of the Liberal Party was standing up -- since when have they been interested in these areas?

Mr. Breithaupt: If you had been here for a few years you would know more about it than you obviously do.

Mr. Nixon: If you had the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) in the chair you wouldn’t be talking that way.

Mr. Grande: I’m sure that I will, and I will definitely find out --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please.

Mr. Cassidy: No, no, Breithaupt started it.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Oakwood has the floor.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, if you ruled that I was straying away from the intent of the bill let me get back to it, because I really thought that was what I was doing. I was preparing a kind of rationale as to why this government has decided to pull those particular proposals of the budget back up for another year. It is because they never thought for one minute that the people were going to be very much interested in coming before this commission and presenting the briefs. They didn’t expect they would be putting forward the salient points of what this market value assessment -- or at least the way you are interpreting it -- is doing to the non-profit organizations in Ontario.

But let me also, as the member for the Liberal Party states, talk a little bit -- no more than a few minutes -- on the minister’s speech the other night. It was quoted in the paper under, “Revenue Minister’s Blood Boiling Over Tax Reform Critics.” I wonder why his blood should be boiling.

As I said before, perhaps it’s boiling because they never expected the criticism contained in these particular briefs they’re bringing forth to the Blair commission. The delay of one year is nothing but an attempt to defuse the issue. That’s all it is. At least as far as I’m concerned, that’s all the attempt means. They’re saying, “Let’s not worry about it until next year, because next year there just might be an election, and we cannot afford it now. We cannot afford this criticism.”

Mr. Breaugh: That’s to the principle of the bill.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, the only thing I want to say to the Minister of Revenue, if his blood is really boiling about these criticisms that are coming daily --

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker on a point of order --

Mr. Makarchuk: If his blood was not boiling, it is now.

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- if the hon. member had been listening and had read what was said, my comment with respect to my over-temperature blood was with respect to certain criticisms made for political motivations primarily, not the submissions made to the Blair commission. I can tolerate, and indeed I welcome constructive criticisms of that type. But what really does get my blood over-heated is the kind of criticism I’ve heard from certain members opposite who really aren’t well informed at best, and I suspect may very well be distorting the issues for political motivation.

Mr. Renwick: That is hardly a point of order. It’s very interesting to speculate about your motivation.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Oakwood.

Mr. Grande: Thank you very much. And that very fact that you just stood up says exactly what your motivations are. They’re highly political.


Mr. Nixon: We can’t have any politics in here.

Mr. Grande: As I was saying, if the blood of the minister is boiling over this particular political criticism, I don’t understand any other kind of criticism when it comes to tax reform. I mean, what are they? Are they not political criticisms? Whatever criticism you are going to be applying, or anybody is going to be putting forward, is going to be either for that particular proposal or against that proposal which you put forward.

If the blood of the minister is boiling, and let me repeat that, then all I have to say to the minister is don’t be too defensive. The criticisms are going to be coming in. They are going to come in a lot heavier than that. As soon as the small businessman finds out what it is going to mean to him, the small businessman is going to be coming, not to you any longer, but is going to be coming to people on this side of the House. They are going to be saying: “You will be representing us, no longer that party opposite.”

As a matter of fact, I have a beautiful letter from one president of a small businessmen’s association and perhaps another time I will put it on the record. But some of the phrases that he was using, let me just use them here. I took them verbatim in this telephone conversation. He said, “This move is nothing else but crass stupidity. It is favouritism at its best, favouritism toward the corporate power. The intent is nothing else but to destroy the small businessmen.”

Mr. Makarchuk: Very perceptive.

Mr. Grande: All I am going to say to the minister is that if his blood boils, the blood of the taxpayers out there is not boiling. He is making it curdle.

Mr. Cunningham: I too rise to support the delay in the implementation of what I particularly perceive to be a rather ill-conceived and poorly thought out method of taxation. I would be inclined, as the member for Wentworth North, to support a two-year delay or a three-year delay or maybe even a five-year delay as it currently is proposed.

I too read the speeches of the Minister of Revenue with great interest. Just for the record, because we were talking about that minister’s blood boiling or being boiled, he said on page 11 of his speech to the Empire Club:

The misconceptions are bad enough but the one that makes my blood boil the most is the accusation that the government of Ontario is dictating all these reforms without consultation, with the object of shoving them down the taxpayer’s throat.

I am sure the hon. member would remember with a great deal of interest the discussions we had, the public input we had, on the subject of regional government. It was interesting at that time. I recall the meetings and the minister was reported in the press as not being unduly concerned about the difficulties of regional government. It is interesting to note in the recent publication of Momentum, which I understand is his party’s monthly magazine, or whatever, that he said on this same subject that the taxpayers shouldn’t be unduly concerned. The fact that he would use that same phrase makes me duly concerned. The idea of taxing a public building or a school, something like that, assessing it, extracting tax dollars and then giving it back to the government I think is not only inane, it’s mindless.

I would welcome any possible delay in this. I hope that the minister has in the time that transpires in this next year some guidance from some people who really realize what this is all about I would suggest to him, with respect, that if he doesn’t get that guidance, both economic and political, his government will not be in the position of implementing any kind of meaningful tax reform in this province.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I only have one very brief comment. I hope that during the interval of this deferment -- whether it’s one year or two years is relatively immaterial to me, it’s going to be some time in the future -- the minister might consider either formally or informally relaxing the terms of reference of the Blair commission and not having them so rigidly tied to something called a fair market value assessment basis for the assessment system. I think it is absolutely essential that we get away from some theoretical assumption that all property owned by the citizens is subject to something called a fair market value assessment.

I know this may sound as heresy, but there is a very well-known criterion of fair market value where there is a willing buyer and a willing seller. That, I think, is appropriate in those cases to which property is subject to market requirements. There is an immense amount of property in the province of Ontario owned by various institutions -- and I don’t need to elaborate on it -- which is not subject to anything called a fair market value of assessment, unless you say it’s a hypothetical value attributable to those particular problems for the purpose of warping those values into something called a fair market value assessment. There is no market for them, it is a fictional market; and the value which you ascribe to them under the disguise that it is fair market value is not fair market value.

I think we are going to have to come to an assessment system in the province of Ontario which has a basis in reality, and the first question to be answered on the basis of whether or not an assessment should be levied, and what the basis of that assessment should be, is a determination of whether or not that particular piece of property is subject to fair market value. That is, is there something called a market for that property in the sense that there’s a willing buyer and a willing seller? If there is, then you can ascribe fair market value assessment to that property.

On the other hand, if it falls on the other side of that line -- and I don’t deny the difficulties of a dividing line as between those kinds of property which are so subject to that kind of assessment -- then I think the Blair commission and the province are going to have to come to some kind of decision as to the value to be attributed to that kind of property on a different formulation and a different formula. The formula will undoubtedly be complicated.

I think that what is bedevilling the assessment system and bedevilling the proper intention of the province to establish a uniform assessment system across the province, is this idea that somewhere or other all property is subject to fair market value. The sooner we get away from that kind of problem and get into the real world of saying, “Yes, some properties are subject to fair market value because there is a willing buyer and a willing seller and a marketplace for them, and other properties are not so subject to that fictional fair market value,” then we can ascribe, on a theoretical or formula basis, a value to those properties consistent with and relatable to those that are subject to market value.

I think we have got to come to a system where we recognize, as a starting point, the dichotomy between those properties which are and those properties which are not available in the marketplace for sale. Until we reach that point -- and I say quite categorically that the idea of a province-wide assessment is entirely acceptable -- and until you accept the proposition that you bedevil the system by attributing market values to properties which are not so subject, and do not substitute for market value another criterion of valuation which will be fair and equitable in relation to market value properties in the particular municipality that is levying the tax, then we’re not going to come to the kind of assessment programme and policy for the province of Ontario which will permit equity to be introduced.

It is not possible to ascribe something called fair market value to properties which are not so subject and then say that we can adjust it by a percentage reduction or otherwise of that value for the purpose of levying the taxes. I’m simply saying that, as a matter of reality, the sooner we come to that kind of decision, the better.

I hope the minister, with the respite provided by this moratorium on the period of time -- whether it is one year or two years or whether we see this bill annually -- will give consideration to that kind of a new view and to inform the Blair commission that they are not necessarily stuck with something called fair market value in those situations where it is purely hypothetical, where it is purely attributed to the property where there is no real formula under which that assessment can be made which will be realistic. I would hope that the minister would give some consideration to that initial basic problem which I think is bedevilling the whole progress of the uniform assessment system across the province.

Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it has been said many times that if one is in politics and leaves it for a matter of 10 years, one will still be debating the same principles. It’s interesting that I believe I have already addressed a committee of which this minister was a member in presenting a brief from the city of Toronto on this very subject matter. I was, I suppose, honoured by the recognition by this minister that that brief caused at least at that point in time the reconsideration of the principle which is in this bill but which is now postponed by this bill.

There has been apparently no way in which those of us who have great concerns in this area are able to prevail upon this government to understand the concern Which we have by the nature of market value assessment itself. It is important that we come to some conclusions on a uniform assessment across the province.

Mr. Drea: Come on, will you.

Mr. Riddell: Where did you want to go?

Mr. Speaker: Will the hon. member continue, please, on the principle of the bill?

Mrs. Campbell: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The concerns which we have all had, of course, have been the very concerns which have been expressed by the member for Riverdale and by others as we review this legislation. There is no doubt that this has to be postponed because we have not yet come to grips with the very real problems contained in the principle of market value assessment.

We know without question that there are those properties which cannot be defined within this terminology. When we look at the fact that there would appear to be a proposed drop in the assessment factor for certain industries and commercial businesses, one does not have any sense of security that this in itself with the 50 per cent proposed allocated to residential properties gives that protection to the residential properties which is needed, and badly needed, if they are not to face the onus shift from the industrial and commercial to the residential. The minister has stated time and again that he has this concern and we have been waiting for that formula. Frankly, the formula as it has been brought forward does not assure that protection.


Considering some of the other statements which have been made recently with reference to the assessment on condominium property and the fact that they have been assessed as though they were tenants, I wonder if the minister realizes the growing mood of tenants in the large cities -- in Toronto at least -- to begin to question their assessments as a result of those statements made with reference to condominium assessment. I would like very much to see the minister come forward and say that he wishes to hoist this bill for much longer than one year so that we may be in a position to thoroughly understand how this type of assessment can possibly work without seriously endangering the residential homeowners.

Of course, as I understand it, I am also aware of the fact that this very hoist may be very discriminatory to those who are already functioning within the operation of market value assessment, and I see nothing in this to hoist their position so that they at least will only be assessed at the 50 per cent rather than at the full amount today. I’m not familiar with that particular position, because it isn’t happening in my riding or in my municipality, but I would like to hear from the minister on those points.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Wentworth.

Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I am just getting last-minute coaching from my colleague.

Mr. Shore: You need it!

Mr. Deans: He’s still my colleague, though; I can identify mine.

Mr. Renwick: On an entirely unrelated matter!

Mr. Deans: I want to say to the minister that I have had some worries about market values assessment for some time -- worries about the way it’s being done, about the assessment itself and about what is being assessed. It’s opportune that this should have come up this evening, because I was speaking to someone on the telephone last evening who had just had their home assessed that day. They were surprised to see the assessor marking down on the form such things as the fact that they owned a colour television and other matters which didn’t appear, to me at least, to have any relationship of any kind to the value of the property the assessor was supposed to be assessing.

I want to say to the minister that I would appreciate very much if, in his summing up of the position of the government in this regard, he would take a moment just to outline again for us what it is that the assessors are supposed to be assessing. For example, up until the market value assessment programme began in the city of Hamilton, if a person owned an above-ground swimming pool, it was not considered to be a fixed asset.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Like yours?

Mr. Deans: Like mine, yes -- and many other people’s. It was not considered to be a fixed asset but rather a movable asset.

Mr. Shore: Do you rent it or own it?

Mr. Deans: On the other hand, if a person owned an in-ground pool it was considered to be a fixed asset and therefore was assessable under the assessment procedures. This is true of a number of additional things around the normal family home. I am a bit concerned about the assessment that we are talking about now is an assessment on those things that the individual chooses to do with his money rather than on the actual value of the property itself.

I am beginning to feel more and more uneasy about what it is that the assessors in the province are, in fact, addressing themselves to. I think it would be very helpful if the minister were to take some time to discuss assessment. It doesn’t have to be tonight since this bill itself is going to afford us ample time to have a further discussion on this. But I think that it might be in the best interests of the province and all of the property owners in the province if we were to have some time in the fairly near future to talk about assessment, aside from all other responsibilities that the minister currently has. I don’t want to particularly talk about it during the estimates, for example. I would prefer to talk about it in isolation from other matters.

It seems to me, if what I hear is true, that the assessors are taking into consideration matters which they in actual fact have no business considering. If it is true, then it’s time we had a serious look at the job that’s being done across the province.

I want to say something else about this whole assessment matter. I don’t know how the government can move to market value during a period when the market value of real property is fluctuating the way it is at the moment. I really don’t. We’ve seen in the papers something that we all applaud, that is, the drop in the average sale price of homes. Many of us would like to think that that reduction in the artificially inflated price of real property will continue and that we may, sometime in the not too distant future, see homes again at a price that people can afford. I think it would be very unfortunate if we had some individuals who happened to be assessed at a time when their property was valued by some mythical or magical method at $10,000 or more above what in fact it could get in the free market. We’re seeing that situation now and therefore we’re going to have built into the system all of the inequities and all of the problems that we already have in the existing system.

When the minister says to my colleague from Oakwood that he’s concerned about the political statements that are being made by certain people and that’s what makes his blood boil, I have a little difficulty feeling sorry for him. After all, nobody forces him to be a politician. If he doesn’t like political statements and political discussion, then why doesn’t he become something else, like an assessor? I don’t understand his rationale.

Mr. Germa: Why doesn’t he become a used car salesman?

Mr. Deans: I appeared before the Blair commission, as did others. I appeared individually and I made representation about some matters that were of concern to me, directly related to market value assessment. I’m of the opinion that it will not be possible to implement the market value concept in the province of Ontario in 12 months’ time. I’m of the opinion that the government is moving backwards so swiftly from the implementation of market value and from the proposals that now are before the Blair commission, that it’s very unlikely that this government will be in a position in 12 months’ time to deal with the implementation and all of the implications of the imposition of market value assessment.

I really suggest to the minister one thing to bear in mind as he’s looking at the proposals and the changes that might take place. I can appreciate as a concept in a theoretical discussion that the thought of assessing all of the properties on the same basis across the province of Ontario and doing away with the inequities that existed is very appealing. But I urge him not to forget that the system as it currently is, imperfect as it is, has built-in compensation factors.

For example, when a person buys a home he takes into account as he looks at the value of the home the cost, principal and interest, the taxes to be paid, the upkeep that might be required and the general maintenance that might be required. They equate that with their income capacity and they make a decision whether or not they can afford to buy. For many, they buy on the margin. They stretch themselves to the limit to get everything they can, everything that will satisfy their particular desires. If the minister monkeys around with the system shortly thereafter and comes to the conclusion that that has been under-assessed, he’s going to detrimentally affect the lives of those people and so lie’s got to bear it in mind when he --

Mr. Renwick: Affect detrimentally.

Mr. Deans: Sorry, affect detrimentally. See, that’s the benefit of having such a learned colleague.

Mr. Renwick: I’m frightened in case my leader hears you.

Mr. Deans: They affect detrimentally -- he says he’s afraid in case Stephen hears me -- the very balance of the economies of those individuals and those families. So, while I say to the minister that just as when he spoke in the House of regional government and the great benefits that would flow from the economies of scale -- does he remember those good days? How we were all going to benefit from the economies of scale of regional government. He travelled into my town of Stoney Creek, stood there on a platform and said, “By God, you’ll all benefit from this.” Well, we’re waiting. We’re waiting.

Mr. Drea: You have got a watch fob. You are not doing bad.

Mr. Deans: But I want the minister to know that the fears that I had about that concept --

Mr. Shore: You would never have had that chain --

Mr. Deans: -- the fears that I had about that concept are similar now. The fears I now have about market value assessment are very similar to the fears that I had about the implementation of regional government I’m afraid that theoretically it looks good; in practice, it’s a disaster. It’s a disaster and it affects people to their detriment. I don’t happen to think that we should be rushing too quickly into this whole matter.

Mr. Drea: Don’t you worry about having a watch fob and chain and saying this kind of thing?

Mr. Deans: I’m also pleased to have the member for Scarborough Centre with us, after having had a nice dinner, I’m sure. But I just want to say to the minister that there are real fears and I don’t want him to underestimate them.

Mr. Drea: I don’t wear a vest.

Mr. Deans: I don’t want him to stand up and make statements about how it will prove to be beneficial, because there are as many different opinions on that as there are opinions at all. And an awful lot of us, having made the calculations --

Mr. Drea: Tell me, are you not going to pay your taxes this year?

Mr. Deans: If you want to make a speech, why don’t you get up?

An awful lot of us, having made the calculations, have come to the conclusion that the implementation of market value assessment, given all of the other policy considerations the government currently has before it, would prove to be more of a detriment, would work more of a detriment on the capacities of people to meet their obligations, than it would be beneficial. I suggest to the minister not to be too hasty about it.

If he can, I’d like to hear just roughly whether or not what that individual thought he saw being written on the piece of paper is in fact true and if it has any bearing at all on the final outcome of the assessment of that property. I want to know why. If it doesn’t, then I want to know why this person is nosing around in their private business.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I have appreciated the observations from some of the members opposite. The member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) made an observation, I think in her opening comment, about the postponement of market value assessment. She said, if I noted it correctly, “four or five times.” I recall that it was postponed in the fall of 1973 to 1976 for a further two years. We are now postponing it from 1976 to 1977, in other words to cover the municipal taxation year of 1977.

A decision was made by cabinet back in March of this year and announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) in his budget of April 7 of this year. The purpose of this bill is to implement that statement that we would put over for the further year, 1977, the freeze on assessment and of course, following the expiration of the freeze period at the end of 1977 -- under the present legislation the freeze period would expire at the end of this year, but under this amendment it will expire at the end of 1977 -- we would be on a market value basis for the taxation year 1978.


There is no change in our policy. We are not deferring it again. I think the hon. member, in talking about four or five times, may have been thinking that we announced one extension last April and that this was still another extension beyond that. This is not the case. This is the extension to implement the Treasurer’s announcement along with budget paper E.

This will give the government the opportunity to --

Mr. Cunningham: Buy some time.

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- hear the opinion of the Blair commission. It has given the Blair commission the chance to have a total of 27 different sets of meetings around this province, through the late spring, early summer and fall of this year. They completed those hearings, I believe, last week.

Mr. Renwick: What was the attendance?

Hon. Mr. Meen: It’s possible that they have one more hearing to go -- one that was adjourned or extended; I’m not too clear on that --

Mr. Renwick: What was the attendance?

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- but my understanding is that they are virtually complete in their scheduled hearings. We asked them if they would report to us with their recommendations on the 15 proposals after hearing submissions from so many quarters, both individuals, various groups, municipalities and the like around the province. We asked them if they would let us have the benefit of their advice by the end of this month of November. They have indicated to us that they may not be able to make that date and that it may be December.

Mr. Renwick: It may be what?

Hon. Mr. Meen: It may be the end of December.

Mr. Renwick: Which year?

Mr. Riddell: You are not going to --

Hon. Mr. Meen: Now my hope is that we will have the benefit of their advice that soon, because it will take us a while to analyse their opinions and to make our decisions as to the policies to be adopted and put into legislative form for the package of amendments that would be required, not just to The Assessment Act but to The Municipal Act and related Acts, to The Education Act, and to quite a number of Acts. I don’t have a total but as a rough guess I would suppose it would be around a dozen.

Mr. Renwick: Fifty.

Hon. Mr. Meen: How many did the hon. member say? Fifty? It’s not inconceivable, I suppose, that we would be involved in quite a number of pieces of legislative amendments.

We will not rush into these things without a good deal of consideration, but the purpose of the Blair commission has been to give the kind of public input and dialogue which the Treasurer, the Premier (Mr. Davis) and I have been saying for months we wanted to have.

I’m starting to digress, Mr. Speaker, but inasmuch as the hon. members opposite have digressed substantially, I trust you will permit me to do the same. Proposal number one of budget paper E is so important that we’re anxious to have the advice of the commission on that one which is the proposal that residential assessment should be set at 50 per cent of market value rather than 100.

The hon. member for St. George has touched on a subject which I’ve touched on many times over the years. One of my very first encounters with the hon. member was when she was senior controller, as I recall, for the city of Toronto at that time and finance and budget chief for the city.

Mr. Drea: What did she do?

Hon. Mr. Meen: In that capacity she appeared before the select committee on taxation, chaired by our colleague of earlier years, John White, who subsequently became the Treasurer of the province. She came before that select committee in the summer of 1968 and put a very compelling case, which confirmed the conclusions reached by the Smith committee, whose recommendations and report the select committee was studying. Namely, it was that if we went to market value without some kind of factoring, either of the mill rate applicable to residential property or of the assessment value itself on residential property normally taken at the market value level, there would be a substantial shift of the tax burden.

With the assistance of the hon. member and the city of Toronto’s financial experts, along with considerable assistance from other quarters as well, the select committee concluded that a factor of approximately 70 per cent would achieve neutrality. In other words, if you set a mill rate of 70 per cent of the mill rate for industrial/commercial or, if you have a common mill rate, as we are proposing here, set a factor then on assessment at roughly 70 per cent of market value rather than 100, it would achieve neutrality.

In order to be very sure and confident that there would not be a shift of the burden of taxation from the industrial and commercial sector on the one hand to residential on the other, we are therefore proposing 50 per cent, significantly below the 70 per cent figure which we believe will actually achieve approximate neutrality.

I say to the hon. member for St. George that there will be a shift of the burden in that direction because it’s our belief and confidence that we will not see a shift of the burden to the residential quarter as a class. I think we all can see that there will be individual cases where properties have been substantially under-assessed and doubtless their assessments will rise.

There are other proposals among this group of 15 proposals, however, which we have asked the Blair commission to study as well -- the five-year transition period, for example. We have indicated ourselves that we want to take a look at the Ontario tax credit programme to make sure that it is adequate. It may well be that it should be beefed up, if you will pardon the colloquialism.

Ms. Bryden: It’s completely inadequate.

Hon. Mr. Meen: We believe these are the ways in which we can go in order to properly protect the taxpayers in the residential quarters.

The hon. member says she is waiting for a formula that will assure us. I say to her we think this kind of approach gives assurance and confidence that the burden will not land more heavily in the residential quarter and in fact may very well in some quarters, I suppose, shift in the other direction. The corollaries of that would be that if one disregarded all other properties being brought into the assessment base, of course the shift would be back onto the commercial and industrial sectors. One of the other principles which we are dedicating ourselves to is that perhaps provincially-owned properties, the universities and colleges, the registry offices, the courthouses and that kind of thing, will all be assessed and pay taxes as though they were privately owned.

The member for Riverdale raises an interesting suggestion with respect to the Blair commission and, with all respect, I must say to him that I don’t think it’s too practical though I was interested in what he had to say. The Blair commission by its terms of reference will complete its studies and will let us have its report, as I have already said, by the end of this month. Whether it were practical at this junction to reconstitute the commission to determine whether fair market value really is the way to go would, I think, be taking us hack at least 10 years.

The member for St. George herself has referred to the select committee and it was sitting, as I have just indicated, to review the report of the Smith committee. The Smith committee was set up in the 1960s to look into just such matters as that. The select committee unanimously concluded that fair market value was the only appropriate way to go. That is why we are moving on that front.

Mr. Deans: But they weren’t talking about a grossly distorted marketplace.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Just a moment, I let the hon. member continue without interruption.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.

Hon. Mr. Meen: The hon. member for Riverdale has raised an interesting point with respect to properties that are not traded frequently in the marketplace. I suppose he would think in terms of things like registry offices and the like, but frankly there are methods of arriving at what can be called a market value for those properties. The Supreme Court of Canada has determined that the replacement cost and income approach to buildings such as that can be a perfectly appropriate way to arrive at a value. Let’s face it, the owners of the property, whether they trade or not frequently in the marketplace, do have a belief as to what the properties are worth.

I must say, I was disappointed with the member for Perth in his reference to a speech which I made a while ago, and I’m sorry to see that he’s not in his seat --

Mr. Riddell: He will be right back.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Hasn’t been around all week.

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- because he misquoted what I have said in the sense of quoting me out of context. Of course I pointed out that market value is “just around the corner.” But if he read to the House the entire speech, he will see that in that address I pointed out the schedule which we are following and that in fact we have the programme laid out for the report of the Blair commission by the end of this year: Our study of the report, our conclusion as to the route we will follow, our legislative package in the spring, our market value assessment notices in late spring or early summer, a period of some months f or study of those assessment notices, and subsequent reviews in the court are required under the Act.

I’m certain if the hon. member wanted to be fully honest with us, he’d admit that he knows perfectly well that the bill I have introduced and which we are debating here tonight is simply to freeze these assessments for that period of time so that we don’t wind up being stuck with the market value mechanism on January 1, 1977, when we are ill- prepared. We do not have the legislation. At no time this year did we contemplate having the legislation in place for next year. It would be ridiculous to do other than to proceed as we have done now. Had we had a lesser version of legislative work in the spring this bill which we’re debating tonight would have been introduced then rather than just in the last few days.

But to suggest that I flip-flopped in a period of six days after speaking to the Golden Mile Kiwanis, where he has quoted me out of context -- In fact I laid out the whole programme and then six days later, when the House convened, came in and did exactly what I had told them I was going to be doing. This legislation implements what I had said I was going to do. To suggest that that’s a flip-flop, I suggest, is less than fully honest with us here in the House. The hon. member for Perth would have had to rewrite his speech, I suspect, because --

Mr. Edighoffer: I didn’t want to read it all. You said you were the province’s pickpocket, too.

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- I think he didn’t fully understand the bill until after he’d written his speech.

In closing, may I just say that I appreciate the support indicated from both parties opposite. The amendment as indicated will extend the period for the frozen assessments on the old basis for still a further year while we get the programme in place in the spring, eventually to go to market value assessment in 1978 as planned.

Motion agreed to.

The following bill was given third reading on motion: Bill 133, An Act to amend The Assessment Act.


Mr. Drea, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Handleman, moved second reading of Bill 136, The Corporations Information Act.

Mr. Drea: Well, he is not selling cattle.

Mr. Deans: Send for the minister.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, subject to what my -- Oh, my colleague, the House leader for the New Democratic Party, I have just managed to just catch him. I understand there was some arrangement being made with respect to the debate on these bills. Perhaps on a point of order my colleague might speak to the matter.

Mr. Deans: On a point of order.

Mr. Renwick: If my understanding is correct, I would be glad to move the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Deans: What do you want to do?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Two minutes for recess.

Mr. Deans: My colleague would like to debate this with the minister, I think. I was wondering whether or not you were going to proceed through these bills to a vote tonight or were we going to do some other --


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I know that there are some other events that are of some interest and it becomes increasingly more important to view them. The understanding was, if I could share this with the House, that items 15, 16 and 17 would be debated and then it was the intention of the official opposition to divide the House with respect to this legislation. It may be that --

Mr. Drea: I don’t think they will.

Mr. Deans: We think we would like to talk to the minister.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There may be some advantage in us proceeding with the debate on 15, 16 and 17. Then following the legislative discussion we could adjourn this debate in order to provide an opportunity for the reply on Thursday. Then the division could come on Thursday afternoon if that would satisfy the House at this time.


Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of order, I feel that if the parliamentary assistant has carriage of the bills, I would be just as content to have the matters dealt with fully and a vote called this evening to dispose of the three bills. If, on the other hand, the minister is to reply, I would presume it would be well that we did not proceed in the absence of the minister. I think splitting it either one way or the other seems to me a bit awkward. However, I am prepared to go on whatever is wanted by the House. As I say, Mr. Speaker, I would prefer that we simply completed the matter.

I can advise the House that it is our intention to support the bills, so that it will be a matter that could be quickly resolved by a vote of the members present in the House at this point, much less than under a lengthy term of events.

Mr. Deans: It is not a matter of whether we want to deal with the parliamentary assistant or not. We are quite happy to on most occasions. The matter here is simply that we did in fact hope to be able to raise directly with the minister some rather important matters that we think he, himself, being the minister in charge, would like to respond to. We would simply ask if it wouldn’t be possible to adjourn the debate and to proceed with it tomorrow.

Hon. Mr. Welch: It is not unusual of course in the absence of the minister to proceed with the parliamentary assistant. I think under the circumstances then perhaps we can proceed since we have time. I hope that we can proceed with orders 15, 16 and 17 tonight.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I assume that with the consent of the House we can deal with Bills 136, 137 and 138 because in substance Bills 137 and 138 are simply companion bills related to accommodating The Business Corporations Act and The Corporations Act to the proposed amendments to The Corporations Information Act.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps we should call the three bills first of all then, to see if that is agreed. Is that the understanding?

Mr. Renwick: If it is agreeable.

Mr. Breithaupt: We are quite prepared to accept that approach, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. parliamentary assistant then call the other two bills?


Mr. Drea, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Handleman, moved second reading of Bill 137, An Act to amend The Business Corporations Act.

Mr. Drea, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Handleman, moved second reading of Bill 138, An Act to amend The Corporations Act.

Mr. Drea: Both are very ancillary to Bill 136.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about the thrust which is involved in The Corporations Information Act, 1976, and we intend to oppose the bill on second reading and divide the House.

May I indicate to the assembly our basic concerns about the bill? The present Corporations Information Act provides for an annual return of information by business corporations, corporations without share capital and others to whom that particular Act applies, It is now in an extremely simplified form. It requires a disclosure and an annual filing for public information purposes of the name of the corporation, the date of incorporation, the nature of the business actually being carried on by the corporation, the names, residences and addresses of the directors of the corporation, and the names for practical purposes of the principal officers of the corporation. It has long since been past history that other information which is of any significance is set forth in that return.

I think it is basically a matter of significance that the public, with what little information is available to them in the companies branch, should at least have the assurance that there is an annual requirement of filing so that when you walk into the office and you look at the annual return for the particular company if it is not up to date you at least know it is not up to date. The way you know it is not up to date is because if the annual return for the particular year, which has to be filed by -- I forget, March 31 or May 31 -- within three months of the close of the fiscal year of the corporation is not so filed then you know that you run the risk of the information being entirely out of date. You can therefore ask and request and you know that you run the risk of the information being out of date.

I recognize that we have in the private bills committee of the assembly, because of the way in which charters can be revoked for failure to file the annual returns, been faced from time to time of applications by companies to have their charters reinstated because they have defaulted in filing their annual returns. Generally their solicitors appear and there’s an expense involved in doing that and we generally reinstate the charter of the corporation unless there is some good reason for not doing so.

I can understand that is a kind of nuisance to those companies that are subject to that particular penalty, but when you weigh that particular fact against the public need to know and have up to date information about a particular corporation and to know that it is as up to date as the date upon which the last annual return should be filed, then we find it difficult to support a bill which indicates quite clearly that that kind of information is not going to be available to us any longer.

We do not dispute that it has been long overdue for the government to require a system under which corporations, regardless of their corporate names, may use trade names of a multiplicity of kinds without any adequate registration provision. If the ministry had simply introduced that kind of legislation, it would have had the support of this party for that particular provision. I refer in this instance to section 2 of the bill which, if the bill does pass despite our opposition to it and goes to committee, we can discuss at the appropriate time.

There are other provisions in the bill, but all of them are relating to the proposition that the only obligation on the company to file information is when the change has been made. Now it is extremely difficult even now, because in most cases the filing of the annual return is left either with the solicitors for the company or the secretary of the company and tends to be overlooked even on an annual basis, but there is nothing in this bill which will indicate that the requirement when a change is made is going to facilitate the memory of those officers responsible for the filing of the return to make certain that the return is filed.

However, those are relatively technical comments which I make about the bill and if that were the only basis for our opposition, we might simply say we will oppose the bill and we will oppose it on a voice vote and let it go at that because what does it really matter? The information generally required by this government of corporations is most basically irrelevant to the needs to those persons who search the corporate records. Whether it is one year old or four years old is relatively immaterial and it wouldn’t have mattered, because the philosophy of the government with respect to the public disclosure of information about corporations resides somewhere in the last century, if not before the general acceptance of the corporate form of doing business.

I have personal concern about the bill because -- I believe the parliamentary assistant may remember this. I’m not certain he was in the House because I believe it was about 2:15 in the morning one day that we discussed an amendment to the bill which was never proclaimed in force. The bill is the Act to amend The Corporations Act, which was in 1971, and if my recollection is correct late one night we tried to indicate quite clearly to the government that we considered that the annual information return of corporations was to do what it said, provide information. We moved an amendment at that time and the ministry accepted it.

Mr. Drea: No way, come on.

Mr. Renwick: Accepted the amendment at that time --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the parliamentary assistant try to restrain himself? He will have an opportunity to respond later on.

Mr. Cassidy: He has great difficulty, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Drea: Make him be accurate in his history, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It’s not my responsibility to do that. That’ll be yours when you’re responding to the comments of the members.

Mr. Renwick: I’m not particularly interested in whether or not the parliamentary assistant considers what I said is accurate or not. I have the references here and I’ll refer to them if it’s necessary to jog his memory about what took place on that particular occasion.

We have always been concerned that where there is an annual summary of information and a public filing system related to corporations one should be able to go to that corporate filing system and find out, not only the names of those persons who are in control of the particular corporation -- that is the directors of the corporation and the names of the principal officers and where they can be located -- but that we should also know whether or not that corporation or the directors of that corporation are related or associated with other corporations, so that we could understand the framework of corporate activities within which that particular corporation was carrying on its activities.

We have urged that on a number of occasions and particularly on that occasion -- and I just happen to have the particular Hansard available for December 14, 1972, at page 5809, where I quoted at some length our particular concern. I moved a particular amendment which provided that The Corporations Information Act would be amended at that time. The minister of the day, the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Mr. Clement, accepted the amendment.

The amendment is enshrined in a statute and the statute provides that the annual return would provide

the names and residence addresses, giving street and number, if any, of the directors and the date on which each became a director; and where the organization is a corporation with share capital, whether or not (1) each director is a resident Canadian; and (2) each director is a director of any other corporation related: to the corporation as determined under The Corporations Tax Act, 1972; and if so the name of such related corporation and the jurisdiction of its incorporation.

Those particular amendments were passed, and the bill received royal assent and was to come into force on a date to be named by the Lieutenant Governor by his proclamation -- and, of course, even with the acceptance of the government it has not come into force and was never accepted; it was never proclaimed and therefore we never had the kind of information available which was essential to anybody who wanted to search the corporate records.


So our first elementary concern is to be absolutely certain that when a person goes to the companies division and searches the public records with respect to a corporation, he knows whether that corporation is related or associated in terms which are used in the corporate tax structure of the country to prevent tax evasion or within the framework of those terms as defined in The Securities Act to make certain that there’s proper disclosure. We have been concerned that we should be able to find out those particular situations.

The second reason why we are going to vote against the bill results from our inquiries. If the government is able to answer these inquiries, then we’ll take that into consideration. But we have inquired of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business whether or not there had been any consultation with that organization about the vaunted aim of the government to cut down the so-called paperwork between companies and the government of Ontario in order to remove something called bureaucratic red tape. So far as we are concerned, there was no such consultation of any kind in order to determine whether this was a worthwhile move in the light of the minister’s statement before this session reconvened that they were going to take steps to eliminate some of the paperwork to which the so-called small business was subject in the province of Ontario.

I think it is fair to say that we in this particular party consider that if that is a legitimate objective of the government, this is not the way in which you go about it. The proper way in which you go about it would be to make a systematic assessment of all the paperwork requirements imposed by the government of the province of Ontario, mainly under the taxing statutes, not under The Corporations Act, with respect to the flow and interchange of paper which is required, the time which is taken up by the businesses in complying with the requirements of government and not to suggest for one moment that the single filing on an annual basis of a simplified form of basic information, inadequate as we may think it would be, would be sufficient under the circumstances.

At this particular point in time, when we feel that there is at least an atmosphere which must impinge upon the government of Ontario, we are concerned that there should be more disclosure of information to the public about bodies such as corporations and by the government itself. We are particularly concerned that the government should at this time decide that it is going to eliminate the requirement of annual returns by companies to provide the minimum amount of information which is presently available.

I think it is fair to say that so far as the significant corporations in the country are concerned the federal law now makes the requirements which we think should be expanded and developed so that we understand the nature of the corporate structure in the country. But to suggest for a moment that this government, disguised as being of assistance to the small businessman, can introduce a new Corporations Information Act at this point in time and ask this party to accept it is beyond our particular belief.

I want to know whether this government is at all interested in having corporations disclose, first of all, whether other corporations are related or associated with them, either directly or indirectly and either above them in the corporate structure, side by side with them in the corporate structure, or below them in the corporate structure. I want to know that when I go to the corporate records office and look at the file of any company I can find out the whole of the web of corporate interconnections that are involved with that company.

I also want to know whether or not the directors and the officers of those companies are persons who hold similar positions or have similar status or hold similar offices with the same network of companies. Otherwise there is no way except by happenstance that we can find out the kind of information which was available to this House with respect to the relationships of ITT, to the company in Oshawa, Malleable Iron, and to the company which over the weekend was the subject of such notorious press as in the Toronto Star with respect to the discharge of employees.

I think it is a minimum basic common-sense, decent requirement that the government should put into effect that kind of corporate information return which will disclose that information. When we have that kind of information, then we’ll be able to discuss intelligently with the government whether or not there are other ways in which the impact of the paperwork can be lessened on the corporations which do business in the province of Ontario.

We reject the proposition that the government can, by introducing this bill, suggest for one single moment that the small businessman in any way is relieved of a basic requirement of the privilege of doing business in this province by way of the corporate form that we should have up-to-date, current information in a minimum sense about who the persons are who control us.

The bill is inadequate. I can’t understand what in this day and age, in this world of corporate interconnection, why the government should think they can set the clock back by introducing this kind of legislation. We reject it and we will oppose it on second reading.

Mr. Cunningham: As my House leader has indicated to the members of the House not too long ago, we will be supporting Bills 136, 137, 138 in principle.

After reading between the minister’s opening lines, I guess on October 26, I came to realize, as I suppose the member for Riverdale did, that the real purpose for these amendments might be to reduce the cost of the administration of the programme itself --

Mr. Drea: It’s not true.

Mr. Cunningham: -- and that the costs, which we’re not entirely sure of, would likely far exceed the revenue that we have ever in the past derived from it. Therefore the government has eliminated the annual returns and is heralding it as a break for small business.

My own personal feeling would be that this would be for the ministry’s own benefit. I would share with you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the parliamentary assistant for this minister, his statement of October 26 from Hansard. He said: “The cost of enforcing the existing legislation has been climbing steadily. Under the new amendments even when the $10 filing fee is dropped, the net administrative cost will be lower.” I think, with respect, Mr. Speaker, that is basically the thesis or the subject of the exercise as it relates to the government’s movement on this bill.

The purpose of these amendments is to eliminate the filing of annual returns, and to require new returns only where certain information has been changed. I think that that is a move to common sense and one that people in my party at least are drawn to. Basically I think we should support this since it reduces a lot of paperwork for small businesses. That is, I think, where my interest specifically lies. I don’t think we need to feel too sorry for the larger, multinational corporations who will certainly have the fiscal resources, but this will affect every small businessman in the province and I think be of considerable assistance to him and possibly some personal saving.

The number one complaint of small businessmen across Canada, especially in the province of Ontario, would be the amount or the extent of paper work required for both provincial and federal governments. This $10 filing fee is dropped with the elimination of the annual return. There is apparently no increased load for larger corporations since they were always required to file changes of information but there was no charge for that.

It appears to me a lot of the work is necessitated in the constant revision of a large corporation’s director and officer information changes. Just in reading the Globe and Mail on a continuing basis, it’s quite obvious that a great deal of movement takes place within that particular sector. I looked in the Globe and Mail today and I noticed that 10 or 11 companies announced 15 appointments. I have a list attached. I would think that possibly these changes of information filings might be made more easily by requiring a monthly or quarterly reporting rather than a report for every change.

I also see that these amendments, if passed, would tighten the regulation of the use of any other name other than the corporate name. In all business transactions a company must now use its legal corporate name as well as its usual name. I think that would be of advantage to people who are interested genuinely in finding out whom they are dealing with and certainly would reduce the incidence of tax evasion, as the member for Riverdale very adequately spoke to.

I think it would also apply more to small businesses since they are more apt to go by another name than a larger corporation. Possibly a change such as this might take away some of the personal element that has heretofore been attached to a transaction with a small businessman. It might remove that friendly, personal touch that is characteristic of the smaller businessman today and that might prove to be somewhat damaging since it can be the essence of a small-scale transaction. However, we do support a move to eliminate the burden of paperwork required from small businesses.

Apparently the cost of administrating the previous system was greater than the revenue derived from it. I would be interested if the parliamentary assistant to the minister would explain or share with us possibly statistically some direction as to what kind of revenues they have had from that and approximately what kind of costs have been involved in the past. It’s encouraging to me to see a government that has been at least in the past very interested in involving itself in almost every facet our life to tend in this very tangible way to reduce the amount of government interference that we see on a continuing basis.

Certainly I would like to say that I don’t share the concern of the member for Riverdale about the reinstatement process. My personal feeling would be that if you can’t make your return appropriately within a period of five years, then there is something wrong with the operation of your company. Likewise, as one who has listened to the arguments of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, I support many of their points of view, especially on truck transportation. I am not unduly concerned that they haven’t consulted that particular group. I think it is not incumbent on any government to consult either that group or any other sector. The bill is before the Legislature and I think it is incumbent on groups like that more or less to approach us.

I find Bills 187 and 138 to be complementary to Bill 136 and they will provide for cancellation and dissolution of a company for either non-payment of taxes or failure to file the appropriate notice on demand. I see the member for Scarborough Centre waving at me frantically. I’m not sure whether he wants to go down and cheer for a particular candidate tonight.

Mr. Drea: I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself.

Mr. Cunningham: Possibly I will stop at this time, indicating that we have indicated our support for these several items of legislation which we have graciously decided to favour.

Mr. Cassidy: That was an extraordinary speech, I think you will agree, by that member of the Liberal Party. There used to be a fine tradition of liberalism in this country and in England, which was devoted among other things to trying to make the market system work and trying to do so in an atmosphere of free and unfettered competition in which every participant had as full information as possible about what happened. The member for Wentworth North, however, has suggested that he doesn’t think that small businessmen should have been consulted. He is not concerned about the lack of disclosure involved here. He doesn’t think there is room to make any improvements in corporate disclosure in the province. It’s the dark ages. It may be Toryism, it isn’t classical liberalism and I don’t think it is good politics.


Mr. Cunningham: You people would regulate everything.

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to suggest for the legitimate small businesses, behind which the member for Wentworth North was presenting himself, the obligation of annual reporting with nothing more than a letter and 10 cent stamp every year; nothing more than that. I would like to suggest that the real beneficiaries from this particular piece of legislation, the people for whom the Liberal Party is getting in bed with the government, are the fast-buck operators, the foreign land purchasers who use dummy corporations, speculative land developers and purchasers around areas like Toronto and Hamilton, fly-by-night business venturers, speculative mining venturers, people engaged in corporate pyramiding, dividend strippers and people who are engaging in creating tax havens in foreign climes and need several corporations through which to put the profits.

These are typical people who are responsible for an enormous number of the corporate registrations in the companies’ branch in this province. These are the people whom the member for Wentworth North would protect when he talks of small business.

I would like to suggest if we can get this kind of corporate riff-raff out into the open, then Ontario will be a better place to live and a better place in which to do business. It would seem to me that it shouldn’t be only the NDP, the socialist party in this country and this province, which is making that particular point. The people who have somewhere behind them a tradition of liberalism should also be supporting that particular point of view. The creation and growth of a small business in this province typically requires no more than perhaps two or three related companies and they would be related in a very straightforward way, and that is all.

The kind of material which is being hidden deliberately right now because of the corporate non-disclosure laws of this province is material which is in the public interest, I suggest, and which should be accessible to the public. I would like to suggest that limited liability has traditionally, and is now, a very great privilege which was given to people who wish to create a company. The creation of the concept of limited liability in the economic history of the western world led to an enormous growth in economic activity. It allowed people to take risks they did not wish to take if the penalty was total bankruptcy or total ruin.

With that very great privilege of limited liability I suggest there goes responsibility. The responsibility which is put on corporations in this bill I say is absolutely minimal. In fact most corporations have to reveal far more in the normal course of business in order to stay in business because of their need for credit rating, their need to do business with other corporations and so forth.

Corporations are normally quite thoroughly inspected by rating agencies such as Dun and Bradstreet and these results are in turn made available, not just to a very select clientele but to a very broad range of the business community. Any person or corporation that has a need to know a credit rating can get it, and that credit rating is based on financial information which will not be accessible to the general public because of the government’s refusal to enact any of the provisions that were suggested by the NDP four years ago or to enact a progressive disclosure policy. I would suggest to the parliamentary assistant that in a modern industrial state such as Sweden this disclosure goes so far as even to include individual tax returns. Whatever the member may think of Sweden, it is an industrial democracy which has had --

Mr. Drea: I understand you went to a certain --

Mr. Cassidy: -- enormous success in the economic sphere and whose industry is competitive on a worldwide basis. The argument that this kind of material cannot be disclosed, it seems to me, is pure rubbish and balderdash.

Mr. Drea: They threw your party out a month ago.

Mr. Cassidy: After 43 years, by one half of one per cent of the vote. I would suggest that the turning against the Social Democrats in Sweden --

Mr. Drea: They threw you out.

Mr. Cassidy: -- was picayune compared to what happened to the Conservatives here in Ontario on September 18, 1975.

Mr. Drea: You can’t go back there tomorrow; they threw you out

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to suggest that physically the bill needs to be amended so that in addition to the material which is already provided, any corporation would also be required to reveal the identity of any corporation or person who owns five per cent or more of any issue of share capital of that corporation. In addition, any corporation of which the company owns five per cent or more of any class of the shares --

Mr. Shore: You read very well, Mike.

Mr. Cassidy: -- should also be disclosed -- My own notes too. They don’t come from our research department -- and third, in a manner to be determined by regulation, the name of the chief corporation and the network or series of related corporations, the controlling corporations, should also be revealed as part of the corporate record for any company which has the privilege of limited liability in Ontario.

I would like to further suggest that in line with the federal requirements under The Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act any company in Ontario with assets over $100,000 or with annual sales over $250,000 should also be required to file annually its most recent operating statement about profit and loss and its most recent statement of assets and liabilities.

Mr. Cunningham: What about the kind of toothpaste they use?

Mr. Cassidy: I am not sure whether there should be any exemption for smaller types of business. But at this time I think the question of whether smaller businesses with assets below the $100,000 level or annual sales below $250,000 should also be included, that is something which perhaps deserves --

Mr. Shore: You would have to start filing, Mike.

Mr. Cassidy: -- further study. But any company which is that large in the economic sphere in this province, it seems to me, should be required, as a condition of the very great privilege of limited liability, to report. I see the new Conservative member for the London area, Mr. Shore, agreeing with me on that particular point and I am glad that he is capable of that --


Mr. Cassidy: -- particular point of view. I would just close off, Mr. Speaker, by announcing that Governor Carter has 52 per cent of the popular vote, President Ford has 47 per cent and Carter is leading Ford in the electoral college by 111 to 33.

Mr. Cunningham: What about the weather, Mike?

Mr. Cassidy: Now, that’s going to lead to some major legislative changes in the States. Let’s have a few up here.

Mr. Ruston: The member for Riverdale is supporting Ford.

Mr. Cassidy: We always fight for the underdog.

Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would like to wind up on this particular piece of legislation even though it involves two other bills which are ancillary. I think everybody agrees on that. There are really only three points. One, we have --

Mr. Warner: What is next? One --

Mr. Drea: Okay, one --


Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the intent of this bill is to ease the burden upon small businessmen about having to file annually which is a very large red tape procedure. It is to enable them to put in one documented record. When they change it at any future time, they will just make the particular changes.

Two -- this really bothers me. I have been very patient. I have listened since five to 9 tonight. I have really listened. The whole point of this bill is that for the first time the consumer will know where to go if a remedy is required. We say that they are going to have to put their whole name down, the corporation name down. It may be very bad in the meat packing business because I see somebody over there with his arms out.

For the first time, when somebody has a cause for dissatisfaction, there is going to be a letterhead with a name and an address and that will make it very much easier for the consumer whether he wants to express his dissatisfaction by mail or wants to do it by personal service. There is an address and that is where the corporation is.

We are not altogether Draconian. After listening to the member for Riverdale tonight -- well, I am very glad Hallowe’en was the other night; I could have said something.

Mr. Warner: We scared you.

Mr. Drea: We are not altogether Draconian. If somebody wants to go into business and he wants to use a style of business or to say he has a product, okay; and if he wants to use his name in it, that’s okay too, and he sells it. But when there is a consumer who is dissatisfied, notwithstanding the fact that this government is flexible enough on behalf of small business people to give them the same privileges which, when I look across the floor, they would only reserve for those who are very big --

Mr. Cunningham: Where are you looking?

Mr. Drea: -- nevertheless, the consumer will have on the letterhead where to complain to and, if it goes beyond a complaint, where to go for service.

Mr. Cassidy: If they write back.

Mr. Drea: Oh, you know. You’re terrific.

Mr. Worton: Don’t let him get to you, Frank.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The parliamentary assistant will ignore the interjections.

Mr. Drea: Okay. Three: We are wiping out the annual return for corporations. My friend from Wentworth was asking about the cost of that. With the $10 fee they have to pay under the old law, the revenue on it is $1 million a year. While we are forfeiting that I would suggest to my friend that if I did some cost studies I think I would find that in the first year we would start breaking even. We must have people to take care of those computers, etc. The anticipation, as I say, is that we will break even, that there will be no loss. But in the next year, the year after and the year after that -- and let’s forget about the service to small business -- we will be able to show the hon. member that we have saved money. I thought that was a very valid question and I wanted to answer it.

Mr. Speaker, next to the family farm, the most cherished institution in this House is small business. We all stand up here and talk about how we are going to do something for small business and about how we are really speaking on behalf of the 90 per cent of the businesses in this province that are small. I know there are some who want to socialize them. There are some who think about the big picture. There are some of those who by their very ideology like to have big companies. But when we talk of small business, we are talking about nine out of every 10 businesses in this province. Mr. Speaker, knowing you very well, I want to tell you I am going to be very proud tomorrow morning. I am going to a breakfast with small business people. They are going to ask me, “What have you done lately?” I am going to say, “We put this through last night and we are going to save you money. We are going to save you filling out those forms. We are going to save you a lot of things.”

Mr. Cunningham: Ten dollars.

Mr. Warner: They won’t believe you.

Mr. Drea: I understand why the member for Riverdale is upset. I am going to a breakfast in his riding and he is very upset. That is why all these games went on tonight.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Oh, I wouldn’t say that.

Mr. Warner: When does the hon. member get logical?

Mr. Shore: Quiet down --

Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I have gone through the very logical points of this bill. I have tried to answer the only intelligent question that was asked tonight, the one from my friend from the Liberal Party, the member for Wentworth North.


Mr. Cassidy: You haven’t said a word about disclosure.

Mr. Drea: I haven’t said what? You know you’re going to divide the House. Come on, Cassidy, come on. Tell us what you want to divide on. You’re going to vote against it? Cassidy, you are really going to vote against this bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member refer to another member by his riding name rather than his own person?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Just don’t answer him,

Mr. Hodgson: Toronto Island or Ottawa Centre?

An hon. member: Where are you living now, Mike?

Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk to the member for Ottawa Centre. I understand the member for Ottawa Centre is going to vote against this bill. I understand that. If he doesn’t, then I am perfectly prepared. I will apologize subsequent to the fact that he hasn’t voted against it. I would suggest that of all the bleeding hearts of all the small business, the pleadings of all the non-big international corporations, of all the non-big multi corporations. I’ve been here for five years. I have listened to the member for Ottawa Centre. I will tell you, tonight I am going to watch how he votes. And for the first time I’m going to use my mailing privilege. I’m going to use my mailing privilege. If he votes against this I am going to send this speech nut.

Mr. Cassidy: Send mine too.

Mr. Drea: Yes I will: I’ll send yours too.

Mr. Cassidy: Okay, and it will tell how you are helping the big --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. parliamentary assistant will ignore the interjections and address his remarks to the Chair, please.

Mr. Drea: In summary, I think that Bill 136, which is the primary bill, is an excellent bill.

Mr. Cassidy: You’re supporting corporate covertness.

Mr. Drea: Bill 136 is an excellent bill. It does three things. One, it relieves some onerous duties upon small business in this province. I would think from all of the people who have talked about doing something for small business over the years, that we can all stand up and take a bow, because we have done something. We will save people money.

Second, it is a much more efficient type of corporate information. It will provide exactly the same type of detail.

Mr. Cassidy: Just inadequate, totally inadequate.

Mr. Drea: And to the consumer it will provide a place where if you don’t like what the corporation is doing to you there will be an easy remedy. You can write them a letter of complaint; you can go to the courthouse and they will be able to serve them. Because, mark my words, every single corporation in this province will have to put on their letterhead not only their name, not only their style of name, but also their address and where they can be located.

Mr. Warner: What corporations are you referring to?

Mr. Drea: I can understand that there are some of those across from here who have made a living out of finding out where people live or where their corporation is; I can understand that. I can understand how some lawyers have made a very good practice out of how to look for it on Yonge Street and what is the number.

Mr. Cunningham: That’s fine and dandy.

Mr. Drea: From now it’s going to be on the letterhead and that should be of great benefit to the consumer.

Third, instead of going on with the annual return and all the costs involved, when there is a change the change will be filed with the government. We will be able to provide that to people. We are not asking for an additional fee.

And, just one last thing on behalf of small business. You know, you start out and you have yourself, your wife and maybe the secretary in the law office. Those are the three directors. A year from now maybe you start to make some money. Maybe you’re doing very well, and you want to change the direction. I’m going to tell you, you can change the direction now free of charge. Just file us the information. We are not going to penalize small business in this province for making a profit. I know that’s total anathema to the whole bunch of them over there.

Hon. Mr. Davis: You are against the small businessman.

Mr. Cassidy: You know, he’s a real embarrassment to you guys. He should resign.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: By prior agreement --

Mr. Drea: I can’t hear you, Cassidy.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: -- it has been agreed to deal with these three bills at the same time.

The House divided on the motion by Mr. Drea for second reading of Bills 136, 137 and 137, which was approved on the following vote:






















Johnston(St. Catharines)













Miller (Muskoka)

Newman (Durham York)

Newman (Windsor-Walkerville)







Smith (Hamilton Mountain)

Smith (Nipissing)









Worton -- 52






Davison (Hamilton Centre)















Ziemba -- 21

Ayes 52; nays 21.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Shall these bills be ordered for third reading or committee?

Mr. Drea: There is no committee. Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, everything has been discussed within about 25 lines of all the bills.

Mr. Deans: All we want to know is which committee.

Ordered for committee of the whole.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I know there is to be some further debate because of the notice filed by the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). Before others --

Mr. Mackenzie: I hope they will stay to listen.

Hon. Mr. Welch: -- assuming that the Ministry of Natural Resources will be completing its estimates tomorrow afternoon and therefore the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) will --

An hon. member: Don’t count on it.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Is that not a fair assumption? I tell you why I have to put it to you this way --

Mr. Renwick: Why do we have House leaders?

Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s right. I am not trying to suggest this is what you are going to do or not do. I understand there was some agreement. My main point in serving notice as to what we will do on Thursday is if the Minister of Labour is not before the estimates committee on Thursday afternoon, then the first order of business on Thursday will be order No. 18, which is her legislation. If she is in the estimates committee, it will not be possible to call order 18, so we will leave it that way. Orders 19 and 20 can’t be called until the Ministry of the Attorney General is completed in the Justice committee. We will therefore do orders 21 to 28 inclusive, as time permits, on Thursday, but we will start with order 18 if the Minister of Labour is available to us.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: As announced earlier, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) has indicated that he is dissatisfied with the response given by the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) to his question concerning compensation criteria for sintering plant workers. I now deem that a motion to adjourn has been made and I recognize the hon. member for Hamilton East for five minutes.

Mr. Mackenzie: Last Thursday I asked the Minister of Labour how she could justify the comments of a spokesman for the Workmen’s Compensation Board, Jack Hollingsworth, as reported in the news media that -- and I will give the quote that was attributed to him -- “The board requires proof of a six-month exposure for sintering plant workers in Sudbury prior to 1952 and a one-year criteria for Port Colborne workers”.

When I asked the minister about that in the House, her reply was:

Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding that the six-month criteria had been used for the sintering plant in Copper Cliff until 1952, and that when the process was changed at that time and was made similar to the process used in Port Colborne, the same one-year criteria was utilized in both of those areas from the year 1952 on.

That is not an answer to my question. My question very clearly was why there were different criteria as outlined by the board’s spokesman, criteria backed up by the workers involved. The workers signed a process claim for nasal cancer -- the sintering plant workers in the Sudbury area, the Copper Cliff plant and at the Port Colborne plant.

I talked today, just to be sure of my ground, to Maurice Keck who has been fighting for a number of years on behalf of the workers in Port Colborne in attempting to try to establish the same criteria as use for the workers in Sudbury. The fact is that in Sudbury and Copper Cliff they do establish a Workmen’s Compensation Board claim based on six months’ exposure and have done it relatively recently. Six months and two weeks was the last case the boys at the local in Sudbury gave me. They have not yet been able to establish it and they have been trying for a long time in the Port Colborne area.

Furthermore, they tell me that they have been to see Michael Starr and Dr. Stewart about it. It is not something new. It is something the minister should have known about. As a matter of fact, when it becomes a front-page headline story in the paper it would seem to me that somebody should be advising the minister as to what the facts are.

In talking to Mr. Moreau of the local in Port Colborne, who was up today in Sudbury, along with some other safety people from both the sintering plant areas -- he called me back from Sudbury following my conversation with Mr. Keck and told me very clearly that double standards exist, and not necessarily beyond 1952. I can’t verify this particular point, but he tells me that since 1952 and right up to this present day there has been a double standard for the establishing of a claim for sintering plant workers when it comes to nasal cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I am more than a little concerned about this. I think it’s tine the minister got her act together and got the Workmen’s Compensation Board together on this issue. We’d like to know exactly what are the criteria. We’d like to know why there is a standard that allows a claim to be established on the basis of six months in one place and not in the other. Even if she had been right -- and my information now, based on the 1952 date, is that she’s not -- why, prior to that, would there be six months in one place and a year in the other? I took the trouble to do some checking with some of the workers -- and we have their names -- who have worked in both plants, including some of the old-time workers going back prior to 1952, and they tell me that, if anything, the conditions in the sintering plant in Port Colborne were worse than the sintering plant conditions at Copper Cliff.

One of the reasons I was upset about this and why I think the House has got to get straight answers on these kinds of questions, is whether the minister realizes it or not -- and while I sound and am a little agitated, Mr. Speaker, I mean it sincerely -- there is a feeling on this side of the House that when we get answers to questions, they’re either flip or not too well thought out or somebody hasn’t been given the correct information or somebody maybe doesn’t really feel this side of the House deserves a straight answer.

The minister can’t get away with skating around an issue as she did in the answer to that question. I think the minister has got to start giving serious answers to questions that are asked seriously. That was not the case in the answer to that question, which is certainly of a lot of importance to the workers in both of those areas who have been trying to establish these claims for a long time. I don’t think that’s too much to be asked for in this House. As far as I’m concerned, if I get an answer like that and somebody’s going to skate around it --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.

Mr. Mackenzie: -- then we’re going to be up here at 10:30 every time there’s a question asked and we don’t get the right answer.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Would the hon. minister care to reply?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the hon. member that I shall not be the least bit perturbed about answering questions at 10:30 or at any other time and I will attempt at all times to provide him with straight answers, which is precisely what I did at the time he asked the question.

If he would like more detail, I should be glad to provide it for him. The process and the format upon which the Workmen’s Compensation Board functions at the moment, in terms of sinus and nasal cancer in those individuals who have been exposed by working in sintering plants, was established first in 1961 as a result of the study done by Dr. Sutherland of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, and was ended in 1972 following an investigation carried out by Dr. Mastromatteo, at which time he made recommendations to the Workmen’s Compensation Board, which were accepted totally by the Workmen’s Compensation Board without any change at all.

The reason for the apparent difference is that indeed sintering and calcining operations were commenced in Inco operations at Port Colborne in the era prior to 1952 and were finally phased out at Port Colborne in 1958. During this interval of time, commencing in 1948, sintering but not calcining was commenced at Inco Copper Cliff. The sintering operations were in the developmental stage for approximately four years, up to and including 1952. In 1960, when Dr. Sutherland studied these two specific situations on behalf of the board, it was judged at that time that indeed the period between 1948 and 1952 at Copper Cliff had been a phasing-in period and had been, and I quote, “a dirty startup” much more so than was ever apparent in Port Colborne in the eyes of the people who investigated the situation at that time.

It was decided that as a result of these studies, there was a board order developing the format which was used for the following period of time. It recognized the causal relationship between the exposure within the plants and the finding that at Port Colborne sintering and calcining operations, sinus cancer cases would be considered for acceptance with an exposure factor of one year and a latency factor of one year. For those workers following the year 1952 at Inco at Copper Cliff, exactly the same criteria would be established, but because of the excessively dirty conditions between 1948 and 1952 a six-month period of exposure would be requested only for those at Copper Cliff who had been exposed during the startup phase.

In 1968, the same criteria were again applied to both plants. In 1972, Dr. Mastromatteo investigated the entire situation and made recommendations, as I suggested, to the board on the basis of the new evaluation of the data. A revision was considered at that time and, in fact, was introduced. He also agreed that there had been a dirty startup period at Copper Cliff between 1948 and 1952. He recommended that exposure at Port Colborne be revised to an exposure factor of one year, still without the latency factor, for the period of time that the process had been in effect at Port Colborne and that the same situation apply to the Copper Cliff plant, that six months be the exposure between 1948 and 1952 and one year following 1952. He also made some suggestions regarding lung cancer which were accepted totally by the board as well.

This is the current status of the guidelines which are being used by the board upon the recommendations of two qualified investigators. Dr. Mastromatteo was at that time the director of the environmental health services branch of the occupational health protection branch of the Ministry of Health and apparently these criteria have continued to be utilized.

I am aware that Dr. Mastromatteo is concerned about this at the present time and I also understand that he is again examining these factors. Whether he will recommend any changes I do not know, but at the present time there are valid reasons for this apparent basis of difference between the criteria used at Port Colborne and the criteria used at International Nickel at Copper Cliff and they have been supported by one of the experts in industrial and occupational health in the province of Ontario.

I think that this is an adequate reason for the basis upon which the board functions at this time. I am sure that the board will, in fact, if any expert makes recommendations, consider those recommendations seriously in the future.

Ms. Gigantes: What about common sense?

The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.