The House met at 2:02 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It’s a pleasure for me to announce to the honourable members the new Ontario hospitality, attitude and tourism awareness program. The new program is built around the theme “We treat you royally” and will be launched immediately.
I’m sure members of the Legislature are aware that while Canada desperately needs to bring its travel account back into balance, it is just as important that we all become increasingly sensitive to the vital importance the hospitality industry has to add to the economic strength of Canada and to the individual provinces. Therefore in launching this new communications and educational program, we will be addressing several areas which we have determined are in need of attention.
Briefly, the objectives of the program are: to improve management attitudes towards training personnel in the Ontario hospitality industry, to increase awareness among Ontarians of the importance of tourism to the economy of the province and to encourage Ontarians to actively welcome visitors from other areas. The program will include a media campaign aimed at boosting the awareness of people in Ontario of the value of tourism. It’s also aimed at convincing those in the tourism industry to become more fully conscious of their attitudes towards welcoming and providing services for visitors to our province.
Part of the communications program will include a quarterly tourism newsletter aimed at the industry along with the creation of auxiliary material such as information kits and audio-visual aids. Tourism consultants located in my ministry’s offices across the province are also being instructed to spend more of their time involved in organizing tourism awareness conferences on a regional level and in developing local program material supporting the “We treat you royally” campaign.
We believe this campaign should go a long way towards reorienting attention to the hospitality industry of Ontario, which is surely one of our essential provincial resources.
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food:
Is the minister aware of a speech last Friday evening by the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in which the president discussed various business practices in the food industry? Is the minister aware that the president described the two per cent kickback which fruit and vegetable producers have had to pay retail chains as, and I quote, “only the tip of the iceberg”?
Is he aware that some chains are forcing suppliers generally to give discounts as high as 10 and 15 per cent as a condition of handling their product, that suppliers are being charged many times the cost of the so-called co-operative advertising, that food manufacturers have to pay listing fees in the thousands of dollars just to get their products into the supermarkets, and that the whole food and processing industry, and I quote, “Lives under an unstated but real threat of reprisals” where “people are afraid to speak out”?
Is the minister aware of these conditions and these criticisms and do they fall within the description he has given us of a “free enterprise system” where buyers and sellers are negotiating prices “freely and in a normal manner”?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Peter Hannam, made a speech, I believe it was in Barrie, some time last weekend. I have asked for a copy of the speech. I do not have a copy of that speech at this time. I would like to see it before I would comment on it.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: Has the minister himself during the inquiries that he has allegedly made within the food council -- and possibly he may have asked someone in his ministry by now -- heard of co-operative advertising? Has he heard that the buyers may have to pay far more than the real cost of their share of a full-page ad, for instance, in a newspaper? Has he heard of listing fees? Has it ever reached the ears of the minister that suppliers might be asked to pay so-called listing fees? Are all these news to the minister?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have heard of volume discounts that have been offered. I have heard of listing fees which have been mainly between, for instance, one of the major distributors of finished products and a store where they pay a listing fee. But at no time is the farmer directly involved with the listing fee.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister heard of all these things, would he also respond in the House to the comment of Peter Hannam in that speech to the effect that the Ontario Food Council is irrelevant, not doing the job, and therefore somebody else has to do that job? It should perhaps be a judicial inquiry, if the Ontario Federation of Agriculture can’t do it, so that people are able to confide in them. Would the minister react to that now or at some later point, when he’s had a chance to read the speech?
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, after I’ve read the speech. We meet on a monthly basis with the group from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. We have been doing this now for about a year and a half on a monthly basis or even more often than that to discuss various concerns they have. To my knowledge, at this point in time, that matter has not been discussed at any of those meetings,
Mr. MacDonald: You’re avoiding the issue like the food council.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable minister has indicated in response to the initial question and the two supplementaries that he would reserve comment until he’s had an opportunity to read the speech. If the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is going to ask him to respond to something else that was in the speech, perhaps it would be better if the honourable minister could make a statement on it at a later time.
Mr. Nixon: I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker. It’s not something that was in the speech, which therefore, you might think is out of order, but it is closely related. As the minister has undertaken to get a legal opinion from the law officers of the crown pertaining to this matter and has indicated he is wondering where that opinion was in the past, we are wondering now why hasn’t he got a legal opinion dealing with these matters for the benefit of the producers and the members of this House?
Hon. W. Newman: If the honourable member had been in the House last Friday --
Mr. Nixon: I was.
Hon. W. Newman: Then he heard what I said last Friday.
Mr. Cassidy: Nothing, as usual.
Hon. W. Newman: The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is out west on business and we expect him back probably tomorrow or Wednesday.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: In his reply earlier today, the minister said that as far as he knows the listing fees are not paid by the producer. He said on Friday that as long as the producer gets his money in accordance with whatever standards are set, he’s quite satisfied. Do I take it that the minister disclaims any responsibility for the whole process of food marketing and all the things that impinge on what eventually is the consumer price paid in the food industry?
Mr. MacDonald: His actions speak louder than his words.
Mr. S. Smith: Is it not his responsibility to know what happens with all the brokers and middlemen and everyone else who happens to be involved until finally that product gets into the household? Why is he disclaiming responsibility simply because the producers don’t pay the listing fee in his view?
Hon. B. Stephenson: He didn’t.
Hon. W. Newman: I did not say that.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: If the minister is seeking legal opinion, is he looking into the allegations made that perhaps some of the money paid, the so-called kickbacks or discounts, is actually paid into trust funds and is not, in effect, going to the parent companies such as Loblaws or Dominion that are involved in the dealing, but is going to some other jurisdictions and being deposited there?
Hon. W. Newman: If the member is implying that they go to a special trust fund, I would ask him again, as I asked him the other day, to give me some information on it. I have no knowledge of any funds going to a trust fund per se.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of Education regarding his commissioner on the matter of declining enrolments. Can the minister tell us whether he still has confidence in the commissioner, Mr. Jackson, after reading the interim report and after hearing the various public comments of that commissioner?
Mr. Deans: He has less confidence today than he had on Friday.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I certainly haven’t read every last page of this interim report, but I have read the important sections, as I’m sure all the other members of this House have. I think I made some comments on the interim report in this House in answer to a question from the member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes) on Friday, in which I indicated that I did not agree with one of the suggestions in that report, that suggestion being that women be paid to stay at home and have children or that they be encouraged to have more children.
Since that time there have been reported in the papers some further comments attributed to Dr. Jackson, and these comments go far beyond the terms of reference of the commission which we appointed. I certainly don’t agree with the comments that he is reported in the press to have made and neither does the government. In fact, we would take strong objection to them.
Mr. Deans: How strong?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Certainly if any of those comments is an affront to any of our ethnic communities in this province, I would certainly apologize to those communities --
Mr. Lewis: The man’s off his rocker.
Mr. Deans: What do you propose to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- because we as a government and particularly the Ministry of Education are attempting to build a very healthy situation in this province where all the cultural groups can live together.
I have spoken to Dr. Jackson personally on the telephone this morning. He is in Halifax.
Mr. Kerrio: About as far away as he could get.
Hon. Mr. Wells: He certainly meant no comments to be an affront to any ethnic, racial or religious groups in this country. I told him that we as a government objected strongly to some of the kind of comments he had been reported as making but I still felt he should proceed with the work he was commissioned to do and bring in that report as quickly as possible.
Mr. Lewis: Shame, shame. You should not do that.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: In view of Mr. Jackson’s comments about the racial mix of our country, about women being paid to stay home and have babies, and test-tube babies to control the racial mix in the country and so on, doesn’t the minister feel that Mr. Jackson’s public credibility has suffered to the point where his report -- both his present report and his future report -- has been completely discredited? Doesn’t the minister think the reasonable thing to do is to accept his interim report and the figures contained therein and relieve him of his responsibilities forthwith?
Hon. Mr. Wells: On first reading about these comments, I came to the same conclusion that my friend has now presented to this House. But, on further reflection, considering the work that has gone on and the number of very fine briefs that have been presented by a whole host of organizations across this province, many of them containing some very good suggestions on this very serious problem of declining enrolment in our school system; considering the fact that the commission should make its final report at least by September and that, if we interrupt the work of the commission at this time, we perhaps will not have that report until well into a new year -- we need the information and most of the work is already under way -- given the fact that we have objected strongly to the statements, and because I think Dr. Jackson has sincerely assured me that he meant to cast no aspersions on any racial or ethnic group in this province -- I guess also, like other commissioners, he is entitled to make certain statements on his own, when he says he is not really working on behalf of the commission on declining enrolment -- I think that, on balance, I felt we should leave him in this particular job and let him continue to bring in his final report.
Mr. Lewis: It’s a problem of mandatory retirement.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the obvious inability of Dr. Jackson, judging from his comments and from the interim report, to carry out an objective inquiry or to submit an objective final report, will the minister not reconsider that decision and appoint a successor who can carry this commissioned report to a final conclusion in September?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would have to say that nothing Dr. Jackson has said at this point in time has concerned itself with the kind of recommendations we are looking for --
Mr. Foulds: That’s why you should find a successor.
Mr. Warner: That’s the problem. Put someone in who can do the job.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- the kind of gut-level recommendations that can help all of us -- government, school boards, teachers and parents -- meet the problems of declining enrolment. He has assured me, however, that he does have solutions to those problems.
An hon. member: We’ve heard them. We know what they are.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In the peripheral area, which I agree is not what I expected him to be delving in, and which is part of his own personal feelings on a subject, those feelings are not in any way shared by myself or this government; I don’t think, however, that any fair-minded person would feel they would impinge upon his being able to produce a final report.
Mr. Van Horne: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister prepared to ask boards of education to let him know what they have been told in individual meetings with Mr. Jackson? For example, I read on page 361 of the report, and it is a quote from him: “and I will point out further that I expect them to take action in many cases without waiting for acceptance or rejection of my recommendation by your government.” Is the minister prepared to go to the boards and find out exactly what they have been told?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The answer to that question is not whether I am prepared to go to the boards and ask them what they have been told. What he is really saying in that particular sense is that in his final report he is going to bring down recommendations that will be not only for the Ministry of Education and the government but also for the local school boards. Some of them won’t require acceptance or rejection by us; they will be directed directly at the school boards and what they can do, and he is hoping they will not wait for us to say we agree with them or not, that they will act on them when he makes those recommendations. What those recommendations are, you will not know and I will not know until that final report is in.
Mr. di Santo: If the minister disapproves of Dr. Jackson’s statement, doesn’t he realize that those statements are not only against the ethnic groups but are racist statements, comparable only to the philosophy that we experienced in the Third Reich? Does he not realize that they are not only against the ethnic groups but against the basic beliefs of our civilization, and that it is disgraceful, not only to this province but humankind? Shouldn’t the minister for that reason ask Dr. Jackson to resign?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I doubt very much that Dr. Jackson made any remarks that could be categorized in the terms in which my friend has just tried to categorize them.
Ms. Gigantes: Uncontrolled fertility.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t think he made any remarks that would fall into that particular category. When I asked Dr. Jackson, he said he made no remarks which he felt would in any way slur or cast aspersions on any race or group.
Mr. Foulds: Have you read the remarks?
Mr. Lewis: He is either too silly or too senile to understand what he is saying.
Mr. Sweeney: Given that the minister has now stated that he dissociates himself from those remarks, and given that it will be difficult for the public to separate those remarks from the function that Dr. Jackson is performing, would the minister be prepared at least to ask, maybe even insist, that Dr. Jackson make a statement of retraction as to the intent of those remarks?
Ms. Gigantes: What is the use of that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I see no problem with that particular suggestion, that Dr. Jackson be asked to clarify his remarks.
Mr. Lewis: Clarify them?
Mr. Makarchuk: Maybe even amplify?
Mr. MacDonald: You are apologizing for the indefensible.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think we should ask him to clarify his remarks. Some of his remarks are actually in this interim report but in a slightly different context, which perhaps doesn’t raise the same problems as does his delivered speech. This is the problem, of course; his speech was delivered without notes, so I cannot get a copy of the speech.
Mr. Lewis: Maybe that is just as well.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All we have are the reports from various newspapers on which to base our particular comments.
Mr. Foulds: And to think that this man was in charge of OISE for 10 years.
Mr. Lewis: Do you understand OISE now? OISE is a little clearer now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All I understand is that I was urged last week by your colleagues sitting right behind you, and some others, not to interfere with the kind of work that goes on at OISE.
Mr. Lewis: I agree.
Hon. Mr. Wells: And was told that I interfered too much with what went on at OISE.
Mr. Foulds: It was Jackson who followed your suggestion not to hire Seeley.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask the minister if he does not feel that the rationality of Dr. Jackson’s subsequent remarks discredit the commission badly in the eyes of the public, such as to imperil its work? Can I ask him, was he not seriously disconcerted by Dr. Jackson’s epilogue and the pictorial essay attached to the report -- as sophomoric, smart alecky and addle-brained a series of pages as we have had submitted to us in the Legislature for some time? Didn’t that signal a warning to the minister that Dr. Jackson was perhaps a little -- the words fail!
Hon. Mr. Wells: From time to time I receive presentations like that. That appendix was sent to me several months ago -- before it appeared as an appendix in there. I didn’t know it was going to appear as an appendix in the report.
Mr. Lewis: Then you should have known --
Mr. Warner: A perfect candidate for the Canadian Senate.
Mr. MacDonald: You share our disbelief then.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You know what they say about that fine line between high intelligence and so forth --
Mr. Lewis: And low cunning.
Mr. Kerrio: It seems to be the people over there who are doing the explaining.
Hon. Mr. Wells: This is an attempt by someone who, I think, feels very strongly towards a particular problem and is trying in a variety of ways to draw attention to it.
Ms. Gigantes: Tell him to go and get pregnant, that will solve his problems.
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I say, I don’t agree with any of his ideas. I don’t particularly appreciate the appendix which he sent me earlier. I would have to say that all of us, I am sure, receive communications of that sort from time to time from a variety of people.
Mr. Lewis: Not at $150 or $200 a day. How much are you paying him? Give it to Judy LaMarsh to do.
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Cassidy: I want to come back to the Minister of Education in a minute, but perhaps I can have a word with the Minister of Labour first. Can the minister say when Bill 70, the health and safety omnibus bill, will be coming back for further debate in this Legislature and whether the government intends to table major amendments to that bill?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, I can’t.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister give some timetable to this House as to whether or not we can expect to see Bill 70 come into this Legislature before the House is expected to adjourn at the end of June?
f No, I can’t.
Mr. Warner: Here we go backpedalling.
Mr. Cassidy: Would the minister care to make a statement in the Legislature then clarifying the government’s intentions over whether or not it is now intending to sabotage or to kill Bill 70, whether it is considering it, or whether it will at some point in time bring the bill forward so that it could be passed into law in the province of Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I find the honourable leader of the third party’s choice of words very interesting. I would report to the House that the consultative process which I promised on a number of work areas, to employers and employees and those affected, is in the process of being carried on. Progress is being made in that direction. I will report to the House as soon as I can give any kind of timetable.
Mr. Warner: She’s backpedalling until next year.
Mr. MacDonald: Does the minister mean she is working out the regulations now with a deadline of September 30?
Mr. Warner: The pressure is too high and too much.
Mr. M. Davidson: Given that the bill has gone through committee and given the fact that that committee built into the bill enough time to allow the minister those consultation processes, why is she withholding the bill from this Legislature at this time?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Because I had committed myself and the Ministry of Labour to the consultative process in all of those areas. That is being carried out as I so committed.
Mr. Laughren: That’s nonsense, and the minister knows it.
Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister then say, has the government reversed the process so that she is now intending to consult about the possibility of regulations before the bill is brought forward; or will the government go forward as originally intended, bring in the bill and then work out the regulations prior to the December 31, 1978, deadline?
Hon. B. Stephenson: With a number of the groups involved, I had committed the government to prior consultation before the development of any legislation.
Mr. di Santo: The minister is in trouble.
Mr MacDonald: That was a breach of the process which the minister promised us here.
Mr. Warner: That’s shameful.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Before any promises you make, I keep my promises.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question now of the Minister of Education. Can the minister explain the confidence he has just been expressing in Dr. Jackson and the validity of his final report, given that the only recommendations in the interim report relate to saying there is not a problem, except among the women of the province; and that therefore Dr. Jackson is clearly indicating that, rather than proposing solutions for coping with declining enrolment, he is going to have a prescription for greater fecundity in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Dr. Jackson has not said that is the only problem. He acknowledges what all of us know are the problems created and being created by declining enrolments, namely, the problems of school closings, of jobs for teachers, of attrition rates in the schools, of the influx of new blood into the system, of new ideas, the whole gamut of problems that are being created by a declining school system -- one that has become used to an increasing population every year -- and all those problems connected with the turn- around as we try to adapt to a different type of system.
Mr. Kerrio: That is bad management.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not bad management. That’s a lot of nonsense.
An hon. member: We don’t have too many doctors or lawyers; that’s good management.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In fact, some of the member’s colleagues are still coming to me and asking me why we won’t build more schools for them.
Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ignore them.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The point is that I think some people are looking for some magical solutions. There may not be any magical solutions.
Mr. McClellan: Yes, Jackson for example.
Mr Foulds: That is not what Dr. Jackson thinks.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There may just be some cold, hard facts that have to be faced --
Mr. Lewis: It is not magical.
Mr. McClellan: It’s black magic.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and some tough decisions that have to be followed by all of us. I think that is the kind of thing that was in the briefs presented to Dr. Jackson which will be in his final report. If I was convinced that the credibility of that final report is, or would be, absolutely shattered --
Mr. Lewis: It is, it is.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I would accept the member’s premise. But I beg to differ with him. I do not find that absolute lack of credibility in his being able to finish that job at this time.
Mr. Deans: Pretty close; it may not be absolute but it’s pretty close.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I believe that he will not embark on this kind of an excursion again.
Mr. Lewis: Don’t be too sure.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think he can bring forward a report for all of us that will be very helpful. I just fear that if we interrupt the process now, we’re going to elongate the process and we’re not going to have that study finished in time for it to be of some help to us as a government for next year.
Mr. Cassidy: The firings are taking place now. In view of the government’s concern with government spending, can the minister say just how much the government now anticipates the royal commission on declining enrolment will cost, given the fact that its essential message was to be found in that chapter of Genesis where it says: “Go ye forth and multiply”?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t know what the final cost will be, but I think the member is aware that it has cost about $490,000 up to the present.
Mr. Lewis: Until now?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Until now.
Mr. Lewis: For test tube babies, half a million dollars we paid that man.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, for OISE.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s as difficult a concept too.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, would the minister listen to one final appeal? Would he consider how various members of the Canadian community feel in having to present a brief to this particular commissioner? Would he consider the opinions that he has expressed regarding women and the role of women, regarding the whole matter of the racial mix of our society and what he determined to be a Canadian as opposed to “an immigrant” and so on? Would he not accept that the gentleman has produced a document which is very thick and consists of a lot of demographic data and maps and so on and raises questions, but of course no answers yet?
Under the circumstances, is it not the most merciful and reasonable thing to do to thank him for the efforts he has already performed and not subject Ontarians to having to go before that commissioner wondering how their remarks are going to be taken, wondering what conclusions he is drawing about them? Surely the time has come to terminate his services.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think I have answered that, Mr. Speaker. I said that if I thought the credibility of the final report would be absolutely shaken and would not be accepted -- if I bought that premise at this time -- I would do what my friend has suggested. But I do not buy that premise. I think we can still have a report that is meaningful and we can have it in a short time.
I didn’t particularly expect or want an interim report of this size or of this magnitude. This is really made up of a whole number of studies that were commissioned, many of them by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, by Dr. Jackson. That’s the reason for the costs so far. A multitude of people have taken part in preparing these background reports which may or may not be of help to people. If you read them, there is really a lot more in there than the suggestion that women go out and multiply and provide more children for the system.
Ms. Gigantes: Like what?
Hon. Mr. Wells: In his wisdom, he felt it was necessary for people to have this kind of background information before we bring in the final recommendations.
Mr. Kerrio: What do you think he’d suggest if we had too many students? What do you think he’d suggest?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Build more schools.
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I’ve said, I don’t think he will engage in any further excursions into expressing some of his own thoughts in these particular areas. As I’ve indicated, he does not and he would not want to be construed as having cast any aspersions on any ethnic or racial group.
Mr. Lewis: But he has done so.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If he has, it has been unintentional.
Mr. Lewis: How could one be a South Asian and come before him now?
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s unintentional. He doesn’t intend that and he certainly wouldn’t want that feeling to be abroad.
Mr. Cassidy: That makes it even worse.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I also want to make it very clear that the government doesn’t agree with any of those sentiments he expressed.
Mr. Lewis: Of course not, did you think we thought you did?
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I’d like to ask the minister if he thinks the commissioner is such a silly person as to be able to make comments of that nature unintentionally, how in the devil can we expect that man to produce a report that has any common sense in it whatsoever?
Mr. Kerrio: Common sense will come from somebody else.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The only thing I can suggest -- some of us find it helpful -- is why don’t members give him a call and talk to him about what he said and make the judgement for themselves.
Mrs. Campbell: Why would we?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As a commissioner acting on behalf of this province he would be very happy to hear from, or to sit down and discuss with, any of the members any of his ideas, and perhaps then after the honourable member has done that, make her judgement and if she still feels the same way I’d be happy to hear from her.
Ms. Gigantes: The minister heard my question, it stands.
Mr. Foulds: How can the minister have confidence? He has disagreed with this man’s public statements and disagreed with his appendices. How can the minister have confidence in him, he has disagreed with everything he has done. The minister only has confidence in the briefs that were presented to him and the data that were collected, and nothing that Jackson has done.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ask anybody, who has had anything to do with the foundation tax plan, who authored it; ask the man next to you?
Mr. Lewis: That was many years ago, maybe he is a little older now.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, in view of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture statement that there is a growing trend to do business through a broker and what is happening is that there is a whole new layer of middlemen -- for a fee of course -- between producers and consumers, and since that also is not a beneficial trend, will the Minister of Agriculture and Food explain why the recommendations of the inquiry into matters relating to the sale and distribution of fruits and vegetables in the province of Ontario, which stated that the Ontario Farm Products Grades and Sales Act should be revised to prohibit an individual or firm from acting as both a buyer and a broker at the same transaction, was never adopted?
Hon. W. Newman: I’d have to take that question as notice in order to get the proper details. I’ll get back to the honourable member on that matter.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Could the minister clarify whether his statement today is the new program that will result in a turnaround for tourism this year, referred to by the executive director of tourism, Fred Boyer, in Sault Ste. Marie last week? If so, how does he anticipate it will bring about that turnaround? Or will it be brought about by the new program that was referred to last week, the proposed King Mountain recreational development, for which the government is funding a marketing study in the range of $66,000?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, neither the statement today nor the comments that were made concerning the study of the King Mountain area are expected to be turnarounds in the tourism deficit that has been experienced in Ontario. Certainly, as far as the program we announced today, we hope that it will assist in helping us to regain some of the lost ground we have experienced over the past couple of seasons and recover some of the losses we had in the tourist deficit area As far as it being a turnaround, I would not want, in any way, to have it felt we were suddenly going to turn around from what we are experiencing in this province, an approximate $800 million to $900 million deficit.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: Could the minister answer the second part of my question and also indicate why he hasn’t made a statement on the King Mountain project in this House? In’ other words, wouldn’t it be desirable to make a statement prior to the government committing taxpayers’ funds to a marketing study? Could he also indicate what entrepreneurs are involved and what consulting firm will carry out that study?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly much prefer to have made any announcement concerning that particular project, or any others, here in the House. However, the honourable member is probably aware that a member of the staff of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, in speaking in North Bay, made a comment about the province of Ontario constructing an all-seasons resort in northeastern Ontario. That created a tremendous amount of speculation and I wanted to make sure that the story was not going around the province that we as a province were going to construct such a resort area.
I took the opportunity to correct that impression and to say that my ministry was participating with the Ministry of Northern Affairs and a development group on the availability of a market to develop such a resort area, If I could have done it here I would have. As far as the consultant is concerned, that consultant has not even been selected as yet, so the announcement in North Bay by the staff member was certainly very premature.
SALE OF BEER AT BASEBALL STADIUM
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Now that the minister has received the opinion of Metro Toronto council favouring the sale of beer in the ball park, will the minister encourage his colleagues to approve that sale on a trial basis for this season so as to put an end to this current matter?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We would all be in favour of putting an end to the current matter somehow. As a result I will be chatting about the matter with my colleagues.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary: What is it that the minister finds so difficult about bringing in a licence on a temporary basis, for a trial period of a year, and guaranteeing that beer will be sold only in paper containers with no sale of bottles or tins? What is so difficult about making that decision, when 25 other major league cities have had no serious difficulty with the sale of beer in the manner I have described?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Since that recommendation, that request, has arrived on my desk from Mr. Godfrey and Metro council, I have not indicated I found it so difficult to go along with that or that I didn’t find it difficult. I simply said I would discuss the matter with my colleagues.
Mr. Warner: The minister finds it difficult to make a decision.
Mr. Lewis: You know what’s galling? That Claire Hoy should achieve what others can’t. You capitulate only when they attack you from the right.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of a great number of people today, I will put this question to the Premier. Would he care to comment on allegations that, once again this year, employers are laying off permanent employees to take advantage of government programs that subsidize the use of students? In particular, is there any truth to the allegation that has been made to me this morning that the Ontario Jockey Club, of all people, is laying off 30 permanent employees and hiring students and using government funds to do so?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have had no such allegations made to me. Mind you, I don’t frequent the premises of the Ontario Jockey Club perhaps as regularly as some, so I can’t make any personal observation about it. I can only report to the House --
Mr. Peterson: Where do you pick up all the refuse from then?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Pardon?
Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will, although there are some I really can’t.
I haven’t heard of this particular allegation. I know there was some discussion last year when the program was underway that perhaps some employers were laying off people. I don’t think these were ever substantiated to any significant degree. I will check on it for the honourable member.
The only thing I can report is that the numbers of applications are up. It looks as though it’s going to be a very excellent program again this year; but I will certainly ask the ministry officials to look into this general observation and make specific inquiries about the Ontario Jockey Club. Could the honourable member tell me if these are stewards or just what sorts of employees at the Ontario Jockey Club he is referring to? If he doesn’t want to tell me here in the House, he could drop me a note.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary on that: I am tempted to say that you should know them well because some of them handle the manure, but I won’t.
An hon. member: What they call stable hands.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would refer the member to just a few weeks ago when obviously certain people made a certain decision at a certain convention where they thought that his ability in that regard was limited.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Unfortunately I probably would have voted for the member; after Ian.
Mr. MacDonald: You’re certainly a little sharper than your Minister of Education.
Mr. Breaugh: Could I ask the Premier to outline for us what conceivable steps the government is taking or will the government take if he does find that someone like the Jockey Club is laying off permanent employees to take advantage of government funds? How does the government check that process out?
Mr. Eaton: Turn the application down.
Mr. Breaugh: What steps are there in place now to see that it doesn’t happen?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I confess to the honourable member I don’t personally check these matters out. As much as the two of us might like to go and check it out at the Jockey Club this afternoon, I can’t; I have other problems to deal with. I will get as much information for the honourable member as I can.
I would assume that if some employers are deliberately abusing the program the simple solution would be to relieve them of the benefits of the program. However, in that I have had nothing presented to me that indicates that a particular employer, in this case the Jockey Club, is abusing the program, I can’t deal with a hypothetical situation until I am in possession of certain relevant facts, which the honourable member might provide me with.
Mr. Peterson: I have a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. When the Premier is reviewing that program, would he review why private schools are excluded from this program? I think this is something the Premier should check into. When they get no other money from the government in any way, why are they excluded from this youth employment program? Would the Premier report back to the House on this?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will certainly inquire as to why private schools are excluded from the program. Obviously the member for London Centre is representing the viewpoint of his party, that private schools should be included and probably should be eligible for grants for all other purposes as well.
Mr. Breithaupt: Oh, for goodness’ sake!
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question --
Mr. Speaker: Is this is a new question? If it’s a new question, I will allow it. I think the supplementary was out of order.
Mr. Peterson: And, in fairness, the answer was extraordinarily unfair; I think the Premier would probably want to retract that.
Some hon. members: Why?
Mr. Speaker: New question?
PLANT LOCATION INCENTIVES
Mr. Peterson: I have a new question for the Premier. I want to know if he can reconcile these two statements for me and tell me what government policy is.
First, the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), speaking on April 8, 1978, said this: “First, I think it would be wrong to offer massive subsidies to the largest manufacturing corporations in the world, which, according to the spirit of the auto pact, should be expected to significantly expand investment in Canada.” That was the Treasurer speaking on April 8.
Then the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes), speaking on April 10, said: “Ontario must offer companies multi-million-dollar incentives if it wants to compete with the United States for auto parts plants.”
What is the government’s position?
Mr. Foulds: Taking a leaf out of the Liberal book.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member had either spent a little more time here or listened more attentively, he would have heard the answer to this question discussed on more than one occasion.
What the Treasurer said on April 8, and I am not familiar with the exact date or exactly what was said, is what I have said in this Legislature. Just to refresh the memory of the honourable member, I shall attempt to do so. I have said, as has the Treasurer, that I think it would be unfortunate if the taxpayers of this province became involved in rather large subsidies to the four major automotive manufacturers in Ontario. I say that because in our view it would be much better if those investments were brought about by those companies living within the spirit of the auto pact.
What the Minister of Industry and Tourism has said, and I am not familiar with the exact phraseology, is that we are currently in an environment where it may be necessary for us as a government to get involved in this process. I think it would be unfortunate if the members opposite were saying to us, “Before you explore every other opportunity or channel to get this investment, we should move posthaste into rather large sums of money.”
There is no difficulty in reconciling those two statements. Our druthers would be not to. Out of practical necessity, in order to compete, we may have to. That is a simple, pragmatic, logical explanation of how the honourable member might now reconcile those two observations, which, to the uninitiated like myself, I think would be very simple for him to do.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: The Premier was saying, I gather, that he is not going to, but he might have to, and therefore he is down the middle in the matter.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No. I thought I made it very clear; for me, I thought it was very clear. We would rather not do it, but we may be forced into it.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the Premier still hasn’t told ns whether or not there is a consensus in the cabinet as to what approach should be taken; in view of the fact that both the Treasurer and the Minister of Industry and Tourism have refused to get together with the federal government, the companies themselves, and provincial officials; and in view of the fact that, while this stall is going on, the federal government is making policies which we happen to think are contrary to the best interests of this province, and which the Premier indicated were contrary to the best interests of Ontario taxpayers, will the Premier himself now convene a meeting among the interested parties?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think the Minister of Industry and Tourism replied to a question of the same nature from the member last Thursday, if memory serves me correctly. What I think the honourable minister said could be repeated; perhaps the honourable member will understand it. I will give him my answer without quoting the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
Mr. Laughren: I understood what he said.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The government has, in fact, met with the four major manufacturers; we have also met with two or three of those of smaller size. We have met with the representatives of the parts industry. Some time within the next few days we intend to meet with representatives of the UAW. I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister of this country. The Minister of Industry and Tourism has met with Mr. Horner on two or three occasions.
We are somewhat familiar with the plans or the proposals of the government of Canada. We have some idea as to the extent of the capital commitments being considered on an international basis by the companies themselves. I reiterate the position that we would prefer to adopt; that is, that the companies make these investments in Canada as our share of the auto pact and they do this without the involvement of taxpayers’ money.
We know that one of our sister provinces is prepared to allocate funds. We also know that in some of our sister provinces there are DREE funds available, depending on the geographic area. We know that most northern states, and now the southern states of the United States, are in the process of bidding and paying rather large sums for the possible allocation of physical plants within their jurisdictions.
I am delighted to hear once again, although I was somewhat disturbed a day or two ago that some of the honourable member’s colleagues didn’t agree with him, that he still has some reluctance about the taxpayers of this province getting into this type of funding. These meetings are proceeding. I expect there will be a report to the Legislature.
I should once again caution the members of this House that we’re not talking about a major expansion in terms of actual capacity, in terms of new jobs. What the industry is really looking at is basically replacement facilities, but which nonetheless would mean significant capital investment and the jobs that are a part of that.
With respect, Mr. Speaker, the meetings are going on. The discussions are, I think, helpful. I don’t want to lead the House astray by suggesting there are going to be any instant or easy solutions. As I would repeat once again, in case the member for London Centre hasn’t been listening to this rather lengthy answer, I think it’s unfortunate if we have to get into this type of situation, hut I think it’s also -- all one has to do, as I’m sure the member does, I know the member for London Centre spends a great deal of time reading the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, all those major economic journals --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The question was will the Premier convene a meeting.
Mr. Speaker: I think that was the question. I think the answer -- I’ve listened very, very carefully -- was that there are ongoing consultations.
A new question. The member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt).
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, it’s this side of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Sorry. The member for Hamilton East.
LABOUR RELATIONS BOARD
Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the Minister of Labour: Can the minister give us some response to the story reported by Wilfred List which says that the Ontario Labour Relations Board is nearing a breakdown because of a freeze on the hiring of staff, and that industrial peace and industrial justice in this province is threatened; said statement coming from Stewart Saxe, the director of the board. Can she comment on the figures given, wherein the case load for the officers has increased by more than 300 per cent; and where we have, currently, for example, some 24 cases of certification pending?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would be happy to comment. I have not noticed any suggestion at all that the function of the Labour Relations Board or its staff was about to disintegrate. Indeed, I have found all members of the staff working very diligently.
I am sure the gentleman mentioned has some concern about the increasing work load, because indeed the work load has been increasing. But there are very dedicated staff members at the Ontario Labour Relations Board and I’m sure they will continue to do their best in spite of the difficulties we’re having right at the moment with potential new employees.
It would be very pleasant to be able to icrease staff, but in view of the restrictions being placed upon all ministries, and upon the commitment of all ministers to ensuring we will continue to provide the best possible service without dramatic or massive increase in staff, I feel I must play my part and the members of the Labour Relations Board feel exactly the same way.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: How are we supposed to cut the costs that result from all of the industrial unrest and the lack of certification? Since the board, handled 194 cases under section 79 alone in 1974 and is now handling 417 cases with the same staff, which was short then, how can we expect a decent job to be done? Is not part of what is happening -- in the unusual resistance to modified union security provisions, long strikes, such as 120 days at Steel Car, and a variety of problems around this province -- the result of an overloaded board?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is not my understanding at all that this is the result of an overloaded board; it is the result of certain attitudinal positions which obviously become manifest during periods of dispute. As the member is very much aware, the industrial relations branch of the ministry has been much more active and much more vigorous.
I think it is doing an excellent job in preventive mediation and preventive conciliation, which I am sure will relieve some of the problems the board has been experiencing.
CALEB HOPKINS CAIRN
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I hope I’m correct in this. The member for Halton-Burlington, on May 1, raised a question, I believe by way of a point of order. Is it all right for me to answer it in question period?
Mr. J. Reed: It was a point of personal privilege.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The point of privilege was that the ministry, under one of our contracts, had buried a cairn that had apparently at some time in our history been erected to commemorate a Mr. Hopkins.
Mr. Nixon: Not a Mr. Hopkins, the Mr. Hopkins.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Since that time, on May 1, I have been attempting to obtain information with regard to this cairn. The best information I have been able to get is that there is shown, on a very old plan, something on private property which is referred to as the Hopkins family vault. That is still on private property.
I am told by my staff that by a private arrangement between King Paving Company Limited, the contractors, and the present owners of the land, surplus fill from the construction project was ordered to be placed on the land with the agreement of the present owner. It appears that this cairn, if one still existed, is now covered by some eight to ten feet of earth. It is on private property. The arrangement was made between the contractor and the owner of that property. That is all I can report at this moment.
Mr. S. Smith: It didn’t stop you on the Niagara Escarpment.
Mr. J. Reed: Those Liberals are going to come back to haunt you.
Mr. Gaunt: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. In regard to the minister’s speech to the Air Pollution Control Association on May 1, what does the minister mean when he says: “We intend to temper our policies with common sense and to take into account the economic factors which affect us today. Our approach is going to be firm but realistic. We are currently reviewing our environmental legislation, and regulations under it, to ensure they reflect today’s conditions and needs.” What legislation and regulations are being reviewed; and what changes, if any, will be made?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I don’t think that statement needs any explanation. It’s very clear. We are reviewing all the legislation at all times and we may be recommending something a little later. I don’t know yet.
Mr. Gaunt: At all times. I thought that would have gone without saying. I presumed, when the minister made that statement, that there was something different he was going to do. Are there any changes in the offing with respect to the legislation and regulations, or can I take it from what the minister says that things will carry on as they always have been?
Mr. Foulds: It was the usual flop.
Mr. Nixon: Bring back George Kerr.
Hon. Mr. McCague: If the honourable member is referring to the offing, I just don’t know how long an offing happens to be.
Mr. Gaunt: Let’s take it in degrees.
Mr. Foulds: Ask Government Services.
An hon. member: Why do you use such ill-defined terms in your speeches?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I really don’t have the intention of introducing any legislation during this session. If the member has some suggestions he would like me to consider, I’d be very glad to have a chat with him.
Mr. S. Smith: Did they talk to you before writing the throne speech?
Mr. Young: A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: I’d like to ask the minister if he noticed the statement by Charles Gracey, manager of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, quoted in the Globe and Mail of May 12? Speaking of the rising beef prices Mr. Gracey said that retailers have raised their markup of 30 per cent in March to about 40 per cent this month.
If this statement of Mr. Gracey’s is true, then in addition to the deserved adjustment of beef prices to the producer -- and I’ll repeat that, knowing the volatile nature of the minister -- in addition to the deserved adjustment of beef prices to the producer, there is this additional undeserved markup at the retail level, a markup well in addition to one third since the 30 per cent markup in March, which was on a lower base than the 40 per cent markup now. It’s a much higher price, as the minister knows.
Since, of course, the producer will be blamed as usual and because the minister is very concerned about the producer, does the minister know if this extra markup is being taken by the food chains? If so, what action is he contemplating, perhaps in cooperation with his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Grossman)?
Hon. W. Newman: I am well aware of the statement made by Mr. Gracey regarding the markup in meat; and it’s not at the producer level. I think we discussed that in the House in the last two or three weeks. I made my position very clear, I believe, to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).
As for the store markup on beef, it varies. I believe there was a follow-up statement regarding what Mr. Gracey said. There was a variable markup, depending on volume discounts and the kind of beef they’re dealing with. It runs as high as the member said and it runs considerably lower than he is saying. I don’t have those exact figures with me but they were released, I believe, within the last two or three days.
Mr. Young: Supplementary: This markup has increased with the increased price, and ordinarily the 30 per cent would have given them an increased markup if it had remained the same, but instead of that they saw fit to jack it up much higher. Is the minister doing anything about it, that was my question; is he contemplating any action in connection with extra profiteering that is going on today and the blame going right back to the producer himself?
Hon. W. Newman: I am certainly not, right at this point in time, for the simple reason we have a highly competitive free enterprise system in this province, as well as anywhere else. Various stores sell beef at different prices, if the member would notice.
Mr. Swart: With the kickbacks.
Hon. W. Newman: Certainly as long as there is a competitive situation, I don’t think we want to interfere in the private sector of business.
Mr. Warner: You don’t believe that.
Mr. MacDonald: Your head is in the sand.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I asked the Premier a question on Friday, which he wasn’t able to answer and he was going to pass it to the Minister of the Environment. Again today I would like to ask the Minister of the Environment, in regard to the Ontario Environmental Assessment Board which rejected an industrial waste disposal site at Nanticoke, what is the minister doing to promote the recycling of toxic industrial wastes by the companies that generate them?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for not being here to answer that question the other day, but I just happen to have an answer today.
Mr. Kerrio: Keep them guessing.
Mr. J. Reed: Yes and no.
Hon. Mr. McCague: The Ontario government has for many years promoted the reduction of waste and the reuse and recycling of waste by industry wherever possible. Large quantities of industrial solvents are recycled to the various solvent recovery companies operating in the province.
Pickle liquors from steel manufacturing processes, which were formerly waste, are now a very valuable commodity being used in the removal of phosphorous at sewage treatment plants. Waste oils are collected and sold as fuels, both in Ontario and the United States. There is also a limited amount of waste oil refining being conducted in the province. Ontario assisted the federal government, through Environment Canada, with the promotion of the Canadian waste materials exchange project. This project is currently operated by the Ontario Research Foundation and provides a vehicle for companies to advertise waste which may be of use to others.
I’d like to state that there will always be waste of a toxic and hazardous type which cannot be truly reused and recycled and which will require disposal. As the honourable member is well aware, this ministry has been attempting, through the private sector, to establish appropriate treatment and disposal facilities for such wastes to ensure that they are not discharged to the environment in an uncontrolled manner.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Supplementary: How many companies are actually dealing with their own wastes then? Does the minister have a list?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I do not have a list, and I have no idea how many there are.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: Could the minister tell us exactly where the liquid industrial waste that is now going to the Beare Road site will go after June 30 when the site is to be closed to liquid industrial waste?
Hon. Mr. McCague: No, I cannot.
Mr. Warner: Why not?
OHTB STAFF LIST
Mr. Philip: A new question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications: In my question of April 20, I disclosed the staff telephone lists of the Ontario Highway Transport Board, a list that contains not only the names and telephone numbers of the staff, but also two lawyers practising before the board. As a follow-up can the minister inform the House if his only reply to this matter of possible preferential treatment of certain lawyers by a government body is in his letter of April 27 to me. He suggests in the letter that some anonymous receptionist who used to work for the board made a list for personal use and that somehow mysteriously arrived on my desk in a brown paper envelope.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I thought I had answered the honourable member’s question in a letter that I sent to him. The explanation I received from the chairman of the Ontario Highway Transport Board was that the secretaries and the staff at the board have two lists of names and telephone numbers. One is a list of staff members of the board, the chairman, all the members of the board and so on; the other is a list of all the lawyers who normally practice before the board.
As I understand it, this list was retyped and updated. Apparently, rather than have it on two separate sheets of paper, they started to type the lawyers on the bottom of the first sheet, with the balance being on the second. Obviously, the second one wasn’t sent to the honourable member. That is the explanation I received from the chairman of the board, and I have no reason to doubt that explanation.
STANDING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mr. Philip from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr16, An Act to revive Hillport Motors Limited.
Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Township of Tilbury West.
Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:
Bill Pr3, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communications Incorporated.
SITTINGS OF HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved that when the House adjourns on Thursday, May 18, it stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 23, at 2 o’clock.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, perhaps I could table the answers to questions 46 and 47, and the interim answer to question 44 standing on the notice paper. (See appendix, page 2545.)
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF REVENUE (CONCLUDED)
On vote 1004; municipal assessment program; item 2, assessment standards:
Ms. Bryden: The whole question of assessment is something that has been preoccupying us in this Legislature since 1970 when the province took over the function.
We have spent millions of dollars on going through several assessment procedures, several false starts and frequent postponements -- mainly, I think, because there was an election coming up and the government didn’t have the courage to go through with tax reform. However, we can’t wait much longer for a new assessment system and for tax reform in this province.
Many municipalities are losing out on provincial grants because of the failure of the government to update the equalization factors since, I believe, 1969. The whole tax base is being eroded by the opportunity which exists for well heeled taxpayers to go to courts of revision and to get reductions in their assessments based on comparisons with other properties which have been assessed at too low a rate, or on comparisons with other inequities that are in effect. We simply can’t wait very much longer for tax reform in this province.
The main thing I am concerned about, Mr. Chairman, is that we get the right kind of tax reform.
Mr. Chairman: Order, there are a number of private conversations which make it difficult to hear.
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We all know that to many people assessment appears to be a form of hocus-pocus. They don’t understand all the principles involved in any given assessment. We know there are many yardsticks that can be used and have been used, such as the replacement value of a building, or the income-earning value of a building, or the square footage of a building, or the quality and age of a building. You could also employ present use as a yardstick, or you can use market value, which is the yardstick that the government is proposing to move towards.
None of these yardsticks are perfect, we know that; they all require a great deal of judgement on the part of the assessor. Therefore, I don’t think we should say one is better than another and that we must stick exclusively to one. I think a combination of some of these is possible in some instances.
I think we should be looking at getting the best yardstick for the different areas of this province. Basically we want something that will produce equity between like taxpayers. That is that similar property, used for similar purposes, will be treated in the same manner irrespective of the status of the owner or its location.
At the same time we want an assessment system that will not create tremendous shifts in tax burden between classes of taxpayers. Those, it seems to me, are the two twin objectives that should be motivating any tax reform and assessment change that is going on.
We have seen the government proposals in budget paper E in 1976, and we have seen the Blair commission’s comments and recommendations based on those proposals. Then we have had the white paper of the provincial Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) of January 4, 1978, commenting on the Blair proposals. Finally, we have had the report of the group of local officials with three or four provincial officials added, the so-called working group, to review the Treasurer’s white paper.
The main reason why there was this last review was because when the figures were actually put to simulate what would happen under the proposal in the Treasurer’s white paper, it was found there was a very serious situation for Metro Toronto, so serious that the Treasurer even called it unacceptable. Therefore further review was necessary.
I would like to comment particularly on how those proposals affect Metro Toronto. But in making suggestions for revisions in Metro Toronto I am not necessarily suggesting they should apply to the rest of the province, nor am I suggesting that tax reform or market value assessment, in some form or other, should be rejected or delayed for the rest of the province. I think some of the areas in the rest of the province have waited far too long to get equity and justice under the tax system, particularly in the allocation of provincial grants and the allocation of costs between the different levels of local government.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: What about the tenants in Toronto? Haven’t they been waiting a long time too?
Ms. Bryden: I don’t think they are going to get any of the benefits. You are talking about the tenants of Toronto, when the landlords are the ones who are going to get the benefits.
The proposed market value assessment system recommended to go into effect in Metro Toronto in 1978 must in my opinion be greatly modified or even scrapped in its present form. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have some modified form or some different form of partial market value assessment. But what is proposed is net tax reform. It is tax punishment for home owners, for senior citizens and for tenants, because I have no faith that the tenants will benefit from any of the reductions that are envisaged for apartments.
It fails to reach the tax reform objective set forth by the provincial Treasurer in his 1976 budget, namely “that residences in Ontario collectively will bear a reduced share of property taxes.”
The new system is supposed to bring equity by basing all assessments on market value, but when different kinds of property have gone up faster than others it results in a shift in tax burden. That is what will happen in Toronto on a mammoth scale with the single-family owner being hit the hardest.
If the new system had been fully in effect in 1977, without the modifications suggested by the committee but with the ones suggested by the provincial Treasurer, it would have meant an average tax increase of $100 on single-family homes in Metro Toronto. That’s on top of the 11.5 per cent increase that Toronto taxpayers actually paid in that year due to rising costs and stingy provincial grants. With the modifications suggested by the provincial-local working party, there would be some amelioration of that burden but only for three years.
If the new system had been fully in effect in 1977, landlords with more than five units in a building would have had an average tax saving of $350 and they would be under no obligation to pass any of this on to tenants.
Many senior citizens will be forced out of their homes by the huge tax increases expected from the new system. Householders of modest means will find their property taxes going up two and three times as fast as their wages.
A sample study of three areas in my own riding of Beaches-Woodbine showed that the new system would produce tax increases on houses of 17 per cent to 20 per cent in the first year and 26 per cent to 28 per cent at the end of the suggested three-year phase-in. The sample covered 264 houses close to Queen Street East between Lee and Willow Avenues. Only eight homes would enjoy a decrease. Home owners living in areas sought by developers will face even sharper increases. Buying pressures will push market value prices up at astronomical rates and assessments and taxes will follow the spiral. It will be a new form of blockbusting, as high taxes will force householders to sell.
The new system will also seriously hurt the 31,000 residential properties in the city of Toronto which enjoy graded exemptions. These were brought in to help World War I veterans establish homes. While their purpose may have been achieved by now, their sudden elimination without adjustments of any kind will result in huge tax jumps for the properties affected. Often the owners of those properties have already paid for those exemptions through the price of the house when they bought it. Those with the exemptions usually sold for a higher price.
The provincial Treasurer admitted in his January 1978 white paper that he found the forecast result of the new system in Metro Toronto unacceptable because it would increase taxes on single-family dwellings. That is why, as I mentioned, he asked the special committee of local and provincial officials to review the new system, but all they have proposed for Metro Toronto is a modified deal for the first three years and after that, no special consideration.
It isn’t good enough. It won’t solve Metro’s problems and it won’t stop a massive shift in tax burdens in Metro to the home owner. It offers no solution to the special problems of senior citizens on fixed incomes, nor will it solve the graded exemption situation. The committee failed to come up with any effective method of seeing that landlords pass on to tenants any tax savings they get from the new arrangements.
The Treasurer told the Legislature on April 11, 1978, that if the committee proposals failed to stop dramatic and unacceptable increases to home owners “we will have to find some way to mitigate or change that recommendation.” To find that way, I suggest the Treasurer go back to square one. Some substantial modification of the market value system now appears essential for Metropolitan Toronto. He should ask the Minister of Revenue, who is in charge of assessment, to go back to the drawing boards and find that modification. I appeal to the minister to take that advice.
The minister and the provincial Treasurer should also be prepared to take the clamps off the municipalities. The proposals prohibit municipalities from charging industrial and commercial taxpayers a higher mill rate than home owners. The differential mill rate may be the only way to avoid the massive shifts in tax burden which are in sight in some municipalities. The local governments need this flexibility in order to produce a fair tax system.
If market value assessment is to be modified only by variations in the percentages of assessment to be used for taxation, perhaps the flexibility in this area should be given to the municipalities as well. They would then be in a position to determine what share of the total tax burden should be borne by each class of property. A provincially-set percentage for each class is much too rigid and cannot take adequate account of local conditions or local differences in tax philosophy and approach.
With regard to business taxes , this is another area where modifications are needed, because small business will suffer under the present proposal. The original government proposal followed the provincial Treasurer’s obsession for province-wide uniformity and called for a flat business tax based on 50 per cent of market value assessment. This would have meant huge increases for small retailers and car parks and big drops for distilleries, breweries, and financial concerns.
Mr. Chairman, the latest proposal for business tax is for a delay in the move to uniformity for five years and, in the meantime, a moderation of the original proposal to stop some of the huge tax changes. Metro Toronto would be allowed to impose higher business taxes during a three-year transition’ period but, beyond that, no flexibility.
Consequently, small businessmen still face an uncertain tax future. The whole business tax situation must be part of the “back to the drawing board” exercise by the Minister of Revenue.
Home owner improvements is another area where reconsideration is needed. The assessment system should not discourage home owners from fixing their properties. In my opinion, the only improvement which should be considered as a cause for increasing assessment is an addition to the house or a garage. While new front steps or a remodelled bathroom may raise the market value of the house --
Mr. Conway: I hope so, I just spent four grand.
Ms. Bryden: -- the state of the real estate market at the time of sale is the overriding factor in the price of the house. The improvements may, in fact, add little to the price obtained, and as I say, we should not be discouraging people from fixing up their houses.
An exception should also be made for improvements made to enable handicapped persons to remain in their own homes and lead an independent life. This may require a downstairs bathroom, or even a ground floor bedroom, or an elevator to get up to the second floor if necessary, but such additions should be exempt in the interests of keeping handicapped persons out of institutions. Often, the kind of modifications needed by a handicapped person do not really add very much to the sale value of the house unless it is sold to another handicapped person. Such alterations as they do need can be very expensive and the assessment system should not add to the cost.
One modification of market value assessment which could be considered, or studied, is a dual assessment system which would value all owner-occupied residences at the present use value based on square footage of house and lot, age, maintenance, standard of the building, and, perhaps, replacement cost.
A market value assessment could also be made but taxes would be based on the present use value. However, if the property is sold for a new use, such as a highrise apartment, taxes forgone by the municipality due to not using market value assessment on that particular property would have to be paid at the time the new use takes over.
This would eliminate the pressure on home owners to sell in the older sections of the city because of taxes far beyond their ability to pay when based on market value. It would prevent the destruction of neighbourhoods in the city core.
With regard to tenants: The revision in the new system must include machinery for passing on to tenants reductions in property taxes gained by landlords as a result of reassessment. The latest proposal that tax decreases he taken into account in setting the permissible rent increase percentage under rent review, is inadequate since it will be an average and won’t fit individual situations. Moreover, there is no assurance from the government that rent review will be extended beyond its present expiry date of December 31, 1978. In fact the government’s green paper looking at alternatives suggests it will not be extended in its present form if the government has its way. I hope it doesn’t.
The Treasurer’s white paper in January made no reference to the tenant pass-on problem in the text of the statement, but in the appendix A tabulation of the various proposals he is putting forward in what is known as the alternative system, he does suggest that in his alternative system “provisions be made to ensure that tenants share in tax decreases or increases.” I don’t know why he left that out of the text.
Finally, Mr. McKeough must stop being coy about changes in the property tax credit system and should work out with the Minister of Revenue a revised property tax system. In the 1976 budget the provincial Treasurer simply said that the property tax credit “will, if necessary, be strengthened upon implementation of the system.” He’s referring to the tax reform system.
The objective of reducing the regressivity of the property tax through the property tax credit system has already been seriously eroded as a result of the present formula for the tax credit. Reform and strengthening is long overdue, but the provincial Treasurer still refuses to unveil any real plans for change in the tax credit. He has produced a budget paper with his 1978 budget suggesting some changes in the various forms of property tax relief for senior citizens. The proposals are very vague, but it appears that some seniors will get less under the new suggestions. At any rate, nothing definite will be offered until tax reform is implemented, one or maybe two years hence.
In my opinion, senior citizens are entitled to know, as are all citizens in this province, before the tax reform goes into effect how they will be affected and what sort of relief they are being offered to enable them to stay in their own homes and avoid institutionalization.
The Conservative election promise “to reduce the municipal tax burden on senior citizens” has not been implemented. Instead, pensioners have been told in the 1978 budget paper that present government policies ensure “that all Ontario pensioners enjoy a comfortable standard of living.” I think many of them would dispute that, especially the way property taxes keep going up while the relief is not increased.
A definite proposal to relieve senior citizens of school taxes immediately would offer a 50 per cent tax relief in Toronto. This should be done as a start. I know the provincial Treasurer will say that a good many pensioners get more than 50 per cent tax relief, but he’s taking into account as part of their tax relief the pensioner tax credit which was put into effect, not just as tax relief but to give pensioners a supplement at one time before the GAINS supplement was put into effect, and it is still really needed to supplement their very low incomes for other purposes.
In addition, a detailed proposal for improving and beefing up the property tax credit would indicate that the government has some real commitment to the principle of making property taxes less regressive. Its statistics trying to prove that the property taxes are not regressive are, in my opinion, highly suspect. They are based on averages and averages in a situation of this sort do not give a true picture of the people who are really paying far more of their income in property taxes than they should be.
As long as we continue to rely on the property tax for a substantial part of our revenue system it is essential that it be accompanied by an improved property tax credit to remove regressivity. I would hope that in time we can switch to more progressive taxes for the bulk of our revenues and de-emphasize the property tax. In the meantime, we must not make it an instrument of persecution.
In the name of tax reform, one quarter of the population of this province --
Mr. Chairman: I think the member is straying somewhat. Would she please return to the assessment standards?
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think I am talking about assessment standards, but I will stick to the subject.
In the name of tax reform, one quarter of the population of this province is getting a raw deal on property tax changes due to the assessment system that is being proposed. It is up to the citizens of Metro Toronto and the combined opposition in the Legislature to stop this Conservative power play. A review of the Metro Toronto situation need not hold up implementation of the new assessment system and tax reform in the rest of the province. Market value assessment does not produce such unacceptable results elsewhere as it does in Metro Toronto, and it will remove many inequities.
There should be no delays for municipalities like Windsor, which have been deprived of millions of dollars in grants over the years since the government stopped revising equalization factors --
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You may have to take some of the money that you are talking about out of cities like Toronto to give to Windsor. How can we do that if we leave Metro alone?
Ms. Bryden: I think the Treasurer has other sources of revenue he is not tapping adequately that he could get money from.
Mr. Laughren: Save some for Sudbury, too.
Mr. Haggerty: Two sets of rules: one for Metro and one for the rest of them.
Ms. Bryden: The sooner a reform yardstick is in place, not only for Metropolitan Toronto but for the whole province, the sooner there will be a stop to the huge erosion of the tax base which is going on through appeals to the courts of revision, as I mentioned earlier, and the sooner we will get equity in the whole province.
What I am suggesting is that the wrong yardstick is being used for Metro Toronto and that we must go back to the drawing board and produce some modification of the proposed system for Metro Toronto, if we want to achieve true tax reform and eliminate inequities as soon as possible. It would be foolish to go through all the millions of dollars we have spent on reassessment in this province and end up with the wrong kind of tax reform.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Chairman, in my introductory remarks I indicated that the white paper which members were speaking about is at this point in time a proposal only. It certainly isn’t something that has been adopted by the government or by anyone else --
Mr. Laughren: But you suggested it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- and I also indicated that I was looking forward to the type of debate we are having here this afternoon to get various viewpoints from members opposite, so that by getting our heads together we might be able to come up with something that is workable and a solution to everyone concerned.
I note that the member wants to see equity, but she doesn’t want to see tremendous shifts in property tax. Really, I guess that’s what the nature of the exercise is. There are people in this province who have not been paying their share, and there are others who have been paying more than their share. The reason for market value assessment and equity is to create those shifts. If no shifts are created there would be no point in bringing in a new system. Everything would be fine the way it Is.
There is a necessity for shifts in taxation; otherwise we wouldn’t be proposing new ways and means of assessment. I don’t think we can have it both ways: we can’t have equity without shifts. Hopefully, the shifts can be adjusted in such a way that they are not, as the member termed, “tremendous” shifts; nevertheless, those shifts will have to take place, perhaps over a period of years rather than immediately. But those things have to happen.
She was talking about an area here in Toronto, the Queen Street area; and my staff inform me that she chose one of the areas where the Metro partial exemption for veterans is in effect. I would remind the member that this particular exemption in the city of Toronto is a Metro exemption that exists nowhere else in the province. These date from 1919 and veterans have been enjoying these exemptions all these years, But veterans are not necessarily living in them any more; the properties have changed hands many times and yet the assessment has never been readjusted. If the member is going to make comparisons on the basis of the white paper in Metro, she should perhaps choose an area that’s more realistic in comparison with the rest of the province than that type of area.
She also mentioned that the single-family units in Metro would be hardest hit. Our figures indicate that as well. But I have to tell her, with respect to senior citizens and low-income people, that she has to take into consideration the property tax credits they receive. She indicated she felt senior citizens would be hardest hit in Toronto. I would also remind her that, whatever plan we do adopt finally, the Treasurer has set aside another $75 million for property tax credits to senior citizens which should more than compensate for any increase in taxes that may arise, if it does arise, with whatever new system we use.
The member mentioned flexibility to municipalities. We are looking at that. She will probably recall that Metro proposed the manipulation of mill rates rather than the difference in the assessment. I must say that’s an intriguing situation as far as I’m concerned. If they used two mill rates for residential and two mill rates for commercial, let’s say, by manipulating those mill rates over a period of years they could get equity between the apartments and the single-family units. On the other side of the scale, perhaps by classifying commercial and industrial at two different mill rates, they could probably adjust those over a period of time and manipulate them in such a way that they could obtain equity without a sudden shift in taxation. That, to me, is an interesting proposal. We are looking very carefully at that proposal in our ministry.
She also talked about home improvements, particularly with regard to the handicapped. We do not increase assessment if a bathroom is remodelled or that kind of thing. The only time the assessment is increased is if there’s an addition put on the building.
My staff have discussed this with the council for the disabled here in Ontario, and they are not in favour of our granting exemptions of assessment. They don’t like to see it that way. They would prefer to have any assistance they’re going to get through tax credits rather than through reducing or not assessing any sort of repairs that are done or changes that are made to existing buildings. As I indicated, the only time assessment would move in would be if they put on an addition to the building, such as an additional room. I think that pretty well covers the statements made by the member. Again, I thank the member for participating and I look forward to the participation of other members who may have ideas about how the new assessment could be worked. I know there are problems. I also know that whatever system we adopt certainly must be approved by at least one of the parties across the way, because it’s going to have to pass through this Legislature. I look for as much support as possible and as much input as possible --
Mr. Haggerty: Just open the books.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- because if we don’t get co-operation on this particular matter, obviously we’re going to end up in the same position as we are now and if we as legislators don’t do something about market value assessment or property tax reform, the courts are going to do it for us. The shifts will come whether we want them or not and they might be shifts that we would rather live without
There are, I think, something like 160,000 appeals out there at the present time in the province of Ontario and while some of us may live in areas where there are not too many problems, there are others who are having a great deal of difficulty. A lot of residents of this province are looking towards this Legislature to produce something that is a little more equitable than what they are living under at the present time.
Ms. Bryden: With regard to the graded exemptions for the veterans, I am sure the minister is probably well aware that they mainly benefit the first recipient and after that they are capitalized into the price of the house, so you can’t really say that these home owners have been enjoying them forever, especially if the house has changed hands.
I would like to know how many of the 264 houses in the Beaches-Woodbine area that were covered by the survey I referred to which was published in the Toronto Star actually did have the graded exemption. I know there are some in the east end, but does the minister know how many of the 264 houses had the graded exemption?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Unless I have a list of all of the taxpayers I can’t tell you that, but there are 48,000 of those properties in the city of Toronto. You argue that there was only some benefit in this at that start, but this is not so. The benefit has gone on since 1919 at the expense of the other taxpayers in the city of Toronto.
Ms. Bryden: But as I say, he usually pays a higher price for a house with such a low tax rate, so he may not have benefited himself.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Well somebody did. It wasn’t the other taxpayers.
Ms. Bryden: You mentioned that the provincial Treasurer set aside $75 million for further tax credits for the senior citizens. Can you tell me where that is in the current budget?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I don’t know where it is in the current budget, but I know that in his announcement he indicated $75 million for senior citizens, if and when the new property tax reform and market value assessment are brought in.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Minister, I think until we see it actually in the budget we cannot count on it being available.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It’s almost impossible to put it in the budget until we know where we’re going to go with it. We still don’t have a plan to institute that everyone has accepted. When that plan is in, we’re prepared to put in $75 million.
Ms. Bryden: I’m very pleased to hear the minister sounding receptive to the idea of a differential mill rate being allowed to Metropolitan Toronto and the boroughs to allow enough flexibility in that area. I think that is a possible way of mitigating some of the effects of the market value assessment.
Just one other thing, about the handicapped. You mentioned -- I guess it was the advisory council on the handicapped preferred --
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Council for the disabled.
Ms. Bryden: It may be true that they would prefer to have tax credits which would give them income and they wouldn’t have special treatment. On the other hand, since the tax credits don’t appear to be in sight, would the minister consider putting in a setting aside any assessment increases until such time as there are tax credits in effect?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I must tell the member that I have a letter from the council for the disabled suggesting that I do not do that; that we work towards tax credits rather than that. These are the people who represent the disabled in the province of Ontario.
As I indicated to you, it is not as major a problem as one might think, because if you remodel a bathroom or put an elevator inside the house or something like that, as you were speaking about earlier, that is not assessed; it’s only if they build a new room, an addition to the existing building, that they are assessed. All the rest is not assessed.
Ms. Bryden: Just one final question. If you remodel a bathroom but you’re not handicapped, does your assessment go up?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, it doesn’t. You see, the way the assessments are picked up is simply this: If you are going to build an addition to whatever building you have, you must apply to the municipality for a building permit. That’s where the assessment people pick up the initial assessments. You don’t have to have a building permit in many municipalities to remodel a bathroom or even to put new siding on the outside of the house. You don’t need a building permit for that purpose.
Mr. Haggerty: Some municipalities do.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: In most municipalities that I know of it covers only additional buildings --
Mr. Haggerty: You have to get permission.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- but regardless of whether you get a building permit or not, if it isn’t an additional structure to that building, it is not assessed.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I just have a question or two of the minister. If we assume that the government is going to bring in market value assessment this year -- and we don’t know if it is going to or what kind of support it is going to get -- I want particularly to direct his attention to the industrial assessment.
There are some properties, for instance, in my own municipality where we have a distillery and a brewery, and I think the minister would agree that market value assessment is where there is a willing buyer and a willing seller in an open market situation. How would you determine the assessment of Seagram’s, for instance, in Waterloo, or Labatt’s, because there is no sale and I don’t anticipate a sale in the next few years and maybe not in the next 100 years?
How are you going to determine the assessment there without doing it kind of fly by night or flipping the coin or doing something of that nature?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: My staff inform me that this would be based on replacement cost, but it is a very technical question that I suspect would be much better asked of one of the staff. As I indicated I earlier in the debate, the last time around -- you weren’t here on Friday -- basically what I am interested in as the minister is, if we are going to market value assessment, that it is properly assessed. The methodology is done by the staff.
I don’t profess to understand all of the methodologies that are used to arrive at a proper assessment, but I would say to the member that in areas where we do have market value assessment, and I happen to live in one, we have had very, very few appeals on assessments since we have gone to market value assessment simply because the assessment was arrived at equitably and fairly. For me to attempt to explain to you or to any other member of this Legislature how I or the ministry would assess a distillery, I believe it is just a little bit too much to expect from the minister.
Mr. Nixon: Who knows more about them?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I would be quite happy to have staff prepare an answer to that question and give it to you, but I wouldn’t attempt to try to answer that kind of a technical question here.
Mr. Makarchuk: He might be an authority on the product but not on the building.
Mr. Epp: With respect, I think it is a very important question and something that you should familiarize yourself with, because it could make a difference of $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000. Maybe they should be paying more, maybe they should be paying less, I don’t want to argue that, but it is a very important matter in my municipality as well as in many other municipalities where there are going to be large assessments based on properties that aren’t on the market.
If you are going to do it by replacement costs, it may not be fair. One of the reasons that Labatt’s bought out Carling’s in my municipality was simply because they were able to get it and it was much less expensive to buy it than to build a new one. The replacement costs may have been $500,000, maybe $1 million, or maybe more than that. If you are going to base it on replacement cost, it might be a much higher assessment than it would be currently.
I hope you get the answers as quickly as possible because I think it is crucial to the whole question.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It may be crucial to the whole question, but by the same token, under ordinary circumstances previous sales are used to a great extent to arrive at the assessment; when there are no sales in a given area then you have to use some other means. That is exactly what I am telling you. Perhaps there was a sale and perhaps that sale that you referred to would be part of the criterion that was used to assess. I don’t know. I will try and get an answer for you.
Mr. Charlton: I won’t get into specific questions about specific types of buildings with the minister, but I would like to talk with him a little bit about the principle upon which we assess different types of buildings in different sectors. I’ll get into that in a few moments.
I would just like to comment quickly on a number of things the minister has already said today.
First, I find myself in a position of having to slightly differ with the minister’s statement about what would be added in the assessment and what would not be added. It is probably true, and the minister is probably correct, to say that somebody’s assessment wouldn’t be increased because they renovated a bathroom. On the other hand, from my knowledge of residential assessments in the present market value system, it is also not correct to say that no assessment would be added unless an addition were added. If a residential building were extensively renovated they have this thing they call “per cent good.” If there were extensive renovations to any building in the residential sector the per cent good would be adjusted to reflect those renovations and the assessment would go up. So it is not entirely correct to say that only additions would cause assessment increases.
The minister also commented that there wouldn’t need to be a reassessment if there weren’t going to be some tax shifts. I would just like to point out to the minister that there are two kinds of tax shifts: there are those within a sector -- within the residential sector, within the apartment sector, within the commercial sector, et cetera -- which reflect inequities between like properties presently and those shifts are probably all desirable. There is also, though, the case of shifts between sectors, and it is questionable to roe whether there is any way of measuring which of those shifts, or how much of those shifts, is desirable or undesirable.
The last time this province was extensively reassessed was in the late 1940s and early 1950s, depending on which area of the province and which municipality you happened to be in. At that time, to the largest degree the assessments reflected equity between sectors. In other words, the apartment sector was paying its fair share of taxes in terms of market value and so was the residential sector and the other sectors.
But the market for each of those sectors has changed dramatically since those last assessments were done. I would seriously question whether it is desirable -- even more so, whether it is feasible -- to try and change the proportion of property taxes paid by certain sectors every time one particular sector of the real estate market outperforms another. That to me doesn’t make too much sense at all.
One thing we have missed, or forgotten about, or run away from dealing with -- I am not exactly sure -- is trying to decide on some kind of permanent basis how much tax, as compared to other sectors, a certain sector should be paying per dollar of assessment. Again it doesn’t make sense to me that we should be talking in terms of the present situation in Metro where we have such a high number of apartment rental units as compared to single-family residential properties.
Over the past 20 years, and specifically over the past six years, the single-family residential sector has outstripped the rental sector in the marketplace. Because of that we should be adjusting downward the share of the tax burden that the apartment sector is paying. Perhaps there is some room for adjustment.
But by the same token, if and when the market starts to go the other way, if the rental sector catches up or even goes ahead, do we shift the burden the other way? Do we all of a sudden say that now rental units should be paying a higher rate of taxation? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me at all.
It seems to me that along with the whole process of reassessment we should be deciding how these different types of property should relate to each other in terms of tax burden. We should fix that in legislation so that, first of all, we won’t have this problem of shift between sectors recurring regularly, and secondly, so that we have something that’s reasonably stable to base the future on. One of the biggest complaints that comes from all sectors is the uncertainty of taxation. That not only includes the taxes paid on income but also all the rest of the taxes, including property taxes. I noticed the minister was commenting while I was speaking that you can’t do that. I’m just suggesting it’s something he should have a very serious look at, because shifts from sector to sector and back and forth continually don’t make any sense at all. We have to establish some kind of a fair and equitable burden for each sector.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You can’t be equitable that way unless --
Mr. Laughren: Put your house in order, Lorne.
Mr. Charlton: The other thing I’d like to comment on that the minister raised earlier relates to that whole question of shifts between sectors. It was what I started out to talk about on Friday, but unfortunately we ran out of time. It is the whole question of method of assessment. I’m speaking again here in general terms, principle terms, not in terms of the specific nitty-gritty of any one particular property.
I started into that whole question about using more than one approach or more than one method. Unfortunately, on this particular topic I don’t agree with my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine. I understand how sensitive and how politically disruptive this whole question has been. But I seriously question whether the approach that the assessment people in the Ministry of Revenue have taken to market value is in the long run going to be politically valid as a tax base.
There’s no question that what the assessment people have done in terms of analysing the market is correct. What they have done in refining their system to reflect the market is correct. What I’m questioning is whether, in fact, that’s acceptable as a tax base, because it’s real and because they’ve tried to reflect different markets.
I’ll just go into this a little bit. I mentioned it in my opening remarks. The real estate marketplace for the single-family residential sector is a totally different marketplace from that for commercial property or industrial property or rental residential property. It’s a totally different marketplace based on totally different assumptions, totally different goals, and different reasoning. I’m seriously questioning whether it can ever be equitable in property taxation to assess one property based on a certain assumption and assess another property based on a totally different assumption. That’s, in effect, what’s happening now.
In 1970 when we started out on market value reassessment, the major goal was to achieve some kind of a reasonable estimate of market value, but by assessing all properties based on the same method. This was to be the replacement cost approach. We attempted to use the income or the economic approach and the comparative sales approach to validate or give us some indication of whether or not we were in the ball park. But we were essentially assessing all of the properties in the province for market value purposes based on one single method.
That’s not happening any more. In the single-family residential sector we’re still assessing based on the replacement cost method. In the multiresidential sector, the commercial sector, and the industrial sector we’re assessing based on the income approach. In the fann sector, and I’m not entirely sure, we’re still using replacement cost for buildings and something in terms of market value for the land. I think we’re probably using some kind of full market value or speculative value on the farm land but, in some cases, that’s far above the productive value and in other eases it’s not.
Mr. Nixon: You assessed my farm the year before you came in here.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Did he do a good job?
Mr. Charlton: As a matter of fact, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is correct. I assessed not all of his farm but just a part of it, just the part that was in Wentworth county.
Mr. Laughren: Just a couple of thousand acres.
Mr. Warner: Did you assess the member?
Mr. Charlton: Won’t he be surprised when he finds out he’s actually got some rather large barns on that vacant land he thought he had?
The point I’m trying to make is that, yes, the assessment people have done an excellent job in terms of refining the system so that it reflects the different types of markets. What I’m saying to the minister is, in principle, as a tax base, using different methods for different sectors, is that going to create the kind of equity between sectors that we’re looking for?
In the multiresidential sector, for example, we have the assessment of every property in the province based on 1975 market value on the replacement cost approach and the gross rental income approach. And in almost every instance, and I can’t swear this is true right across the province, but in almost every instance I’ve heard about the income approach to market value is lower than the cost approach to market value.
What this income approach to market value has caused is an exaggeration of the tax shifts which will occur between the single-family residential sector and the multiresidential rental sector. What I’m saying is yes, the single-family market has outstripped the rental market and the single-family properties have gene up more in value relative to the rental sector, but this change in method or change in approach has exaggerated that whole process. Hence, the shifts are going to be that much greater than they should have been had we stuck to assessing all properties by one single method.
When you’re reflecting on this, I suggest that in the single-family residential sector, if you took a serious look at an income value as compared to the cost market value or the owner-occupied market value that we’re now placing on single-family residential properties, you would find that, yes, even in the single-family residential sector --
Mr. Haggerty: It would be higher than it would be in an apartment.
Mr. Charlton: -- the price that the person looking in that market with an owner-occupied intent is going to pay has far outstripped what someone buying that residence as a rental property would ever pay for it. So I suggest either we go back whence we started in the 1970s to assess all properties in this province on the replacement cost approach or go totally the other way and assess all properties based on their economic income value. But we can’t sit half way in between calculating some by one method and others by another, because that just does not create tax equity, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve in the long run. Perhaps the minister will make some comments on that.
The other thing I wanted to get into briefly is the whole question about the mini-reassessment that is going on in the courts. You mentioned it again today, Mr. Minister. My question to you is what, if anything, do you have in the way of plans, proposals or methods of dealing with and stopping or controlling that process that’s presently going on, if we don’t implement market value and tax reform this year.
Have the people in your ministry dealt with that question? Have you come up with any way of trying to eliminate some of the undesirable effects of that reassessment through the court process that’s going on? Are we going to be able to deal with it in any way, shape or form, or is it just going to run wild and unfettered so that, as we prophesied in a rather gloomy way, those people who have the expertise will get the reductions and those people that don’t won’t?
If you don’t have any response, then I would like you and your ministry to look very seriously at the whole question.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Dealing with the last question first, if I may, my response is simply that we cannot take away from the people the forms of appeal that are open to them. The appeal system is there and there’s absolutely no way we can stop those appeals from taking place. They have entered their appeal within the legislation, within the law, and they will go on until the decisions are made. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to stop that. As I indicated earlier, whatever plans we bring in on which we get some agreement in this Legislature, hopefully, we would like to get them through now before the end of June.
Mr. Haggerty: Or you can wait for the appeal. You have been playing with it for 10 years.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We will give you the information, ask you to debate on it, ask for your advice and see what you would say about it.
Mr. Haggerty: Cloak and dagger. You are just playing with it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, we are not playing with it at all.
Mr. Haggerty: You have been playing with it for 10 years.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That’s your opinion, but your opinion is not always right either.
Mr. Haggerty: Just go back and look at it.
Mr. Nixon: You are never wrong.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I can tell you that when we bring it in, if you are so set on doing something about it, let’s see you support it when we bring it in. That’s the point.
Mr. Nixon: When you bring it in, did you say?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes.
Mr. Haggerty: When? That’s the question.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Hopefully, before the end of June. That’s going to make you people sit up and take notice. If you want to see something happen --
Mr. Nixon: It will make you sit up and take notice.
Mr. Laughren: It’s a time credit.
Mr. Johnson: Is that federal or provincial?
Mr. Ruston: Dealing with the feds now.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Dealing with the other items you spoke about on Friday, you were suggesting you felt it would be fairer if one type of assessment methodology was used rather than using two or three. I did have my staff look into that a little bit. I would refer you particularly to the comments that were made by Justice Kelly in a decision of the Court of Appeal in a case involving Office Specialty Limited which appealed their assessment. I will read the whole thing into the record. It isn’t that long, and it may explain why it’s not really feasible just to stick to one particular method of assessment.
“One direction of the Legislature is to find the actual or market value, as the case may be. In that quest, the cost of reproduction may be useful knowledge, but it is at best but one piece of evidence which may be considered and it is not the market value per se. Justification for the use of the depreciated replacement cost method was also sought to be founded on the fact that this was the method used in assessing other industrial properties within the municipality and has, therefore, provided a reasonable apportionment of the municipal cost burden amongst the classes of residential, commercial and industrial land use. If the method used did not result in entering in the assessment roll the required value, actual in the 1960 roll and the market in the 1970 roll, the figure entered does not come any closer to the required value because a similar discrepancy may appear in the roll with respect to other properties.
“While it might be ground for appeal that comparable buildings in the same municipality were assessed at different figures and, thus, that either one or the other was assessed too high or too low” -- and this is the important part -- “the mere fact that they are all assessed on the same basis does not mean that they are all still correct. In other words, were there to be evidence that actual sales prices of other properties had been closely related to the depreciated replacement costs of the subject buildings, there might be laid the basis for holding that the method used by the assessment commissioner had arrived at the market value. In the absence of such evidence, the fact that all industrial properties had been subjected to the same formula treatment would go no further than to prove the possibility of the proliferation of the error. In conclusion, I find no support for the amount in the assessment roll in the uniformity of treatment allegedly accorded.”
This is a case that I think bears on what you are proposing. Mr. Justice Kelly has indicated that it is not always the best thing to use the same methodology in each area of assessment. I thought perhaps you would be interested in hearing what that decision was.
You referred to the assessment for the handicapped. I may have said it wrong; what I was referring to was maintenance, which is a little different from what you are suggesting. You were suggesting that if a home were remodelled inside it would be reassessed because the value would go up; I agree there is no question about that. What I was referring to was doing small jobs, such as doing the bathroom and so on. You are quite right --
Mr. Charlton: I was just pointing out the impression you left might be interpreted incorrectly.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am glad that you corrected it.
Mr. Charlton: I am glad that you read that court case, Mr. Minister, but I would respectfully submit to you that what the justice was, in fact, saying was that by using the same method you don’t necessarily come up with the actual market value of a certain property. What I am respectfully submitting to you is that to assess different properties by different methods, the amount they pay in taxes doesn’t have any real relationship, and that is not equity.
I am suggesting to you that you, as the minister, are the guy who is going to come into this Legislature to make the law, and those comments in the court are related to the law as it exists presently. You have the power to bring in changes to the law to reflect any kind of equity that this Legislature deems is necessary and desirable. If you have to redefine market value by the assessment division in conjunction with the other people in this Legislature, if you have to say that all properties must be assessed by the same method or some minor variation on that, if you have to define market value as the replacement cost of the structure on a property, then so be it. But you have the power to bring in those kinds of changes that would totally alter the court ruling.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Are you suggesting that?
Mr. Charlton: All I am suggesting to you, Mr. Minister, is that to tax one owner based on a totally different set of assumptions and principles than those on which you tax another owner does not, and never will, reflect equity, There are different assumptions and different priorities in the different marketplaces, and those marketplaces aren’t true or permanent reflections of those sectors. That’s all I was trying to point out.
Mr. Nixon: I was interested that the minister, a little while ago during this discussion, said: “If we don’t do something, the courts will do it for us.” That seems to be the main argument that is being presented in favour of the Legislature approving a government bill based on market value assessment. The minister is frowning; maybe he will have a more extended justification for it when the bill is presented.
I personally am not holding my breath, since it has been promised now for many years. Usually an impending election means that it is postponed because the minister knows it is going to be very difficult to explain the necessity for this rather far-reaching change in the thing that affects municipalities more than anything else. It is going to be very difficult to explain it to the satisfaction of everyone concerned.
I can remember objecting strenuously in 1970, I believe it was, when the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. McKeough), who was then in his first incarnation as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs or whatever they call it, decided that he and a now staff that he would acquire could look after assessment better than the counties. I felt that was a mistake then and I believe it is a mistake now. I am perhaps even naive enough to think that the mistake can be rectified.
When I talk to my neighbours and constituents and to members of various councils and so on, and I say, “They’re telling us in Toronto that there are all sorts of appeals pending, or hanging fire, and if we don’t do something in Toronto the courts of revision are going to start dealing with these, and it’s just going to be chaos,” nobody knows what we’re talking about.
‘Mind you, we don’t have very many high-rises in South Dumfries, which probably makes the point that if the problems in assessment are only in the major urban areas, then probably we can reach some kind of a solution without throwing the whole province into this grinding-up machine that the government runs -- what should be a department of municipal affairs as well as a department of revenue. The dislocation associated with this, in my view, is unnecessary and unwarranted and it is going to be politically crucifying for those birds, the Tories, unless we go along with them, which I certainly hope we will not do.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You mean you wouldn’t give us your support?
Mr. Nixon: That’s right. I wouldn’t give the program the time of day. I say that now as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk; however the matter is still under extensive discussion, as it is elsewhere, I understand.
For example, there is a very beautiful town in my constituency where the assessment on some of the larger, older homes is considerably lower than that in the new area, where the homes are not nearly so attractive to me, the lots are not so large, and I wouldn’t want to live there if I had my choice. It seems to me, if the assessment were still the function of the municipality or even the county, that it would be possible to adjust this, I suppose being subject to an appeal through a procedure that at least would be local in part.
I find this whole thing so complex, and it puts me off so much, that I can’t really pay attention to it very much. I don’t have a lot of complaints from my people, other than that every now and then they say, “What’s McKeough doing to us now?” That is really the total involvement of the farmers on the concession and the people in the small town with the whole concept of this reassessment business. The people have been around for a while and don’t forget overnight and say, “If he’d left it with us in the first place, we wouldn’t have had this problem. We were quite prepared to accept guidelines and directions from some central source, presumably something that the Treasurer would be running; as far as the procedures in the assessment are concerned, we could have had some standard guidelines and a procedure without the whole thing being taken over.”
There are people like the member for Hamilton Mountain, who is a very competent person indeed and who drove all the way out from his office somewhere to look at my vacant land and say, “By God, it’s vacant. I wonder what Nixon could sell this for if the local township, which has been regionalized, would get their culvert under the side road down far enough so that the water would go through it.”
When I phoned the new lower-tier municipality, they didn’t even know where the Harrisburg Road is. What’s worse, they had never heard of Bob Nixon. But that’s another matter. So we’ve all got these little hangups.
Nobody would be more welcome to come out there and look at that property. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know what he did with the assessment. The taxes went up, which I expected, since the area is now a regional government. It’s about to become a part of the new city of Wentworth, for God’s sake; but that’s another argument.
I also felt that when the assessment was taken over by the Treasurer, by the provincial authorities, and everybody became an employee of the government, we know what happened to the salaries. They rented some of the best office space around, and some of it was built new, for these places that look after the assessment. They also did a lot of business with the business form people, and we got all these elaborate, incomprehensible sheets of paper in the mail, usually all in separate envelopes, just as we get our tax rebate from the government in separate envelopes. I think I get seven envelopes, each with a cheque in it, each with a picture of the Parliament Buildings on it and each signed by the Treasurer, just so there’s no mistake that anybody thinks Pierre is helping us out or anything like that.
The whole thing is so huge and poorly planned and expensive and confusing there is no wonder the response of the people in my area is “What’s McKeough doing to us now?” Even if they wanted to go to a court of revision -- and this is probably out of date -- they used to have to go to some office north of Toronto somewhere.
Mr. Worton: Newmarket.
Mr. Nixon: Newmarket. They say: “What is going on? We’ll let it go. What is the sense of bothering with this? The whole thing has been taken over by them and there’s not much we can do about it, except maybe phone up and complain to Nixon who will pass it on.” They felt to complain about it then was too late, but it is all coming home to roost. People say and the government says: “We’re not going to look after the problems in the assessment for senior citizens and people living on pensions unless you go for market value assessment. We’re not going to look after the problems in Sarnia and Windsor.” Those are the two places mainly, and where else?
Mr. Haggerty: St. Catharines.
Mr. Nixon: St. Catharines. They won’t do it unless they go for market value assessment. In other words, they say: “We’ve got the old political hitting needle pressed to your chest and we’ll shove it in unless you do what we tell you.” It’s very difficult for us to accede to any kind of a new policy when it’s put forward in such a ridiculous, stupid, expensive, standing-on-its-head way. It’s been hanging fire since the great and dramatic statements in 1970, and I suppose even before that.
We’ve had the people come around to our farm and do the reassessment. They were all mannerly people with their tape measurements and all the rest, looking into clothes closets and all that stuff. We used to have an assessment in our municipality by old Henry Nelles, God rest his soul, who knew all the land. He didn’t have to come down and look at my land to see where the buildings were or where they weren’t. He knew what my operation was and he could compare it rather effectively and fairly with the operations in the other farms around there. The changes in the subdivisions might have given him a little trouble because there was a lot of time there when I don’t recall a new house being built in the township probably for years. Very little was happening and I don’t apologize for that.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Do you have trouble talking to the computer?
Mr. Nixon: It was just like Prince Edward county before the representation down there deteriorated.
Mr J. A. Taylor: Are you having trouble talking to the computer?
Mr. Nixon: Fortunately our municipality has not been regionalized so I haven’t felt the increase in taxes, in spite of all the fooling around with the assessment, has been out of line. As long as I can do the best I can to maintain that situation in Brant county at least, then probably we’ll be all right.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I don’t know of any --
Mr. Nixon: The minister has said once again that if we don’t make these changes, the court of revision is going to make it for us. Maybe the court of revision should make them for us, if it involves some highrises in Toronto. I suppose I am in a position to be somewhat critical of government policy --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Oh, no, never.
Mr. Nixon: -- but I’m not elected to represent Toronto. Why doesn’t the government do something that Toronto needs without messing around with what is working very well in most of the rest of the province? We’re not getting any great complaints. If we want some new approach to assessment, it would have been far better to let somebody handle that responsibility locally.
I don’t even feel that we have gone so far from that possibility that it should be abandoned. There are so many things about which people say: “The Tories have messed this up and they’ve messed that up.” These regional governmeots are not well accepted, they’re expensive and they’re not doing a good job. All you’re doing is reviewing them and wanting to compound the problems.
As you know, you can’t go back. You can’t go back but you can go forward to something that is under local control and that can be, let’s say, balanced by the computer the minister runs and all of the experts that the ministers have as far as handing out governments grants for municipal purposes is concerned. You people somehow have taken hold of a situation, which was not in a mess when you got hold of it, and you have made it into absolute quagmire of bureaucracy, bad feelings and lack of understanding.
I would submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that the government could very well balance up the municipal grants to Sarnia and Windsor and even to the senior citizens, who should be given an opportunity to maintain themselves in their own homes without assessment forcing them out. This could be done without the procedure the minister is threatening us with now.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: What is that?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, we’re not.
Mr. Nixon: Certainly you are. You say either do this or the senior citizens are not going to get fair treatment and Sarnia and Windsor are not going to get fair treatment.
Once more, the courts of revision are going to have to do what we set them up to do, rather than us do it for them. I’ll tell you, you haven’t convinced me. I know that the minister, who comes from an area probably somewhat like my own, must agree with 99 per cent of what I am saying. For him to be in a position to have to justify this mess is ironic and poetic justice.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Let me say to the member, first of all, that I do come from a riding similar to his, except that I am already on market value assessment and have been for the last three years. It didn’t do me any harm and it didn’t do the people in Parry Sound any harm.
Mr. Nixon: Did that lower your taxes?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It didn’t lower them. It didn’t raise them either. But it made them a heck of a lot more equitable than in areas such as yours without it, I can tell you that. While you might be quite satisfied with your tax bill, speak to some of your neighbours who are not getting --
Mr. Nixon: Point of order. This is a very important matter, Mr. Chairman. Did he not recall me saying I did precisely that? There are no complaints.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Oh, you spoke to everyone in the whole riding? Because there are going to be complaints. I am sure we could find some people who are appealing taxes in your riding.
Mr. Nixon: All right, fine. There is a procedure for doing that -- if you didn’t have to go down to Newmarket to do it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You are forgetting about all the places where there are some major problems, like Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo --
Mr. Nixon: But you are responsible for this.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- like many other municipalities in this province which are asking to have something done.
Mr. Nixon: You took it away from them.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We took nothing away from them.
Mr. Nixon: You took the assessment away from them.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, no question about that, simply because the mess was there.
Mr. Nixon: Who created it?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It was to correct it. That was the reason we took it away. But I can tell you this -- if you are living under the delusion that there are no problems out there I think you’d better start looking around a little bit and find out exactly what is happening in other municipalities.
Mr. Nixon: It can be corrected without this approach.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am not sure that it can. We have tried other means, and they have not worked to this point.
Mr. Nixon: Maybe it is time for a change in governments.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am not saying that the proposals before us now are the answer, but I am saying that some solutions have to be found. Maybe what the member is suggesting is true. Maybe some municipalities will have to be looked after while others would remain as they are. I don’t know. I’m not saying what the final solution is. All I am saying is that there has to be some answers found to some of these problems.
I am also saying if the appeals are granted in the city of Toronto alone, and there are appeals in other areas too, if those appeals are granted -- and I have no way of knowing whether they will be, but if they are -- there would be a tremendous tax shift to the residential taxpayers. It would happen, in my estimation, in a very unjust way.
I think there has to be a better solution to it than that. I think there are enough members sitting in the Legislature that if we get our heads together, we can come up with a reasonable solution.
But if you take a negative attitude, without even considering what the proposals might be, I would advise you that I don’t think that’s right either. I don’t think that’s what you are here for. I really believe that there are some answers to these problems, but I think that it requires everybody’s heads together. I think it requires co-operation.
I suppose as a member of the government I have to accept the responsibility for the local assessors being done away with and the province taking over. I suppose because I am a member of that government. I would accept that responsibility. I do believe that the problems can be solved, but I don’t think that they can be solved in an antagonistic fashion. I think it has to be done co-operatively.
Mr. M. Davidson: I am glad to see the minister is aware that there are problems in the Cambridge area, not only in the city of Cambridge itself but in the city of Kitchener and Waterloo and the entire Waterloo region.
It rather surprises me that he so readily says that. Because it wasn’t so long ago that the entire Waterloo regional council, along with the councils of every municipality within the region of Waterloo, sent letters to the minister. They requested that market value assessment he implemented on a trial basis in that region in order that the ministry themselves could see exactly what kinds of shifts would take place throughout the rest of the province if market value assessment were to be implemented province-wide.
The reason they did that was because the municipalities themselves were unable to come to grips with the very high taxes that were being paid in the various areas throughout their communities, and particularly in the riding of Cambridge and in the city of Cambridge itself where people were over- assessed by as much as 50 per cent. I don’t know why it was, nor do any of the municipalities know why it was that the minister did not see fit to take them up on their request, given the fact that there were no dissenters within the region, that every municipality requested the implementation of it, and the regional council itself requested that market value assessment be implemented.
What is happening as a result of that is the city of Cambridge itself is now going the other route. The city of Cambridge is now appealing what it considers to be the underassessed homes within the community. They have taken, I believe, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 180 cases and are using this as a trial to find out whether or not they will be successful in their appeal. If they are successful they then intend to appeal all of the cases, others within the municipality which they consider to be underassessed.
This is all well and good; if they are successful they are going to lower the taxes of the overassessed people, but no one is actually sure whether this is the case or not. I would suggest to you that the responsibility should not lie with the municipality. The responsibility in this particular case should in fact lie with the Ministry of Revenue because it was your government that implemented and amalgamated that area that brought about the problems that exist within the community.
As you are well aware, Mr. Minister, we have in the city of Cambridge, five different assessment levels. Surely no municipality can set down a base whereby you can get any kind of equity when you are dealing with five different assessment levels. I think the matter has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Revenue, many, many times, and I would think -- and I am not putting any blame on yourself, sir -- that we were getting some progress and we were making some headway through the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener) who is the former Minister of Revenue.
Perhaps one of the reasons that you now sit in the position of Minister of Revenue is because she did buck Darcy McKeough and did in fact try to get the implementation of market value in the Waterloo region. It was Mr. McKeough’s position as I take it that that in fact was not going to take place, and I personally believe -- arid this is a personal view -- that that is perhaps one of the reasons that she no longer sits as a member of the cabinet.
I would suggest to you that if you are going to be looking at market value assessment you had the opportunity to do so. You could have taken the communities of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and the various other municipalities in the Waterloo region at their request. You could have implemented market value assessment on a trial basis.
You could very well have found the results of what market value assessment may mean across the province because that entire region has the kind of makeup that pretty well covers all kinds of communities throughout the province of Ontario. We have urban areas; sections that are highly industrialized; sections where there is a large number of highrise apartments; large sections that are farm communities and small communities. It would have been a perfect area for your ministry to have set down in a trial area, and it would have been a perfect area for you to see the kind of results that might take place throughout the entire province.
You, of course, did not see fit to do this, and myself and the members of council throughout the various communities have yet to get a very definite answer as to why that was not implemented. They were told, through various letters they received, that it would not be done, but they could never understand the reasoning as to why it was not done. They could never understand the reasoning to say that they were left on the hook, so to speak, having been given some kind of a commitment from the former minister that she would implement, on a trial basis, market value assessment within the Waterloo region.
As I pointed out earlier, when you have cases of overassessment somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 to 50 per cent, surely it is incumbent on someone to take some form of action so that equity can be brought back within the various communities. As I said, the fact that this does exist is because of the amalgamation that took place. The fault really lies in forming the community of Cambridge out of five different areas without taking action prior to the amalgamation to ensure equity in the tax base throughout the community.
Certainly there are various opinions throughout this Legislature as to whether market value assessment is going to be good or bad. All of us are aware that it is a very political issue. One of the reasons the government is hesitant in bringing forward legislation to that effect is because they recognize the political implications that might exist. Had you taken the action requested by the municipalities of the region of Waterloo you would have had a grand opportunity to see what the results may have been across the province of Ontario. I’m terribly sorry you did not see fit to take that action. You really blew that one.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am very much aware of the problems in the Cambridge-Kitchener-Waterloo area, there’s no question about that. This ministry has been involved with that particular municipality and those municipalities for some time.
What my predecessor did or did not promise, I don’t know. I looked at this matter very carefully before I made the decision not to implement market value assessment at this particular time. The reason I made the decision was simply because I felt without property tax reform it would cause more inequities than it already has. They have to go hand in hand. If we had implemented market value assessment in that particular area without any type of property tax reform, I’m afraid the results would have been just as disastrous as those you now have. I don’t think we would have corrected the situation. All we would have done was perhaps shift the problem to some other part of the region, but it would not have cured it.
I would remind the member that I was only appointed to this ministry on January 21. With the property tax reform package that has been before the provincial-municipal committee which looked at the white paper presented by the Treasurer under investigation, I made the decision not to go to market value assessment in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for this year and until we also find out whether or not we can live with that kind of a situation. Certainly, I’m aware of the problems. I would say that Cambridge probably has the worst problems in the province of Ontario. While it may not help them any, my sympathies are certainly with them.
I made the decision because things were being investigated; the committee was sitting. My staff and I discussed it and looked over the situation thoroughly and came to the conclusion that if we had implemented market value assessment without some sort of property tax reform, your problems wouldn’t have been solved. They may have shifted to another area, but you would still have had them. That’s why the decision was made.
I’m surprised that the member has not spoken to me about this item since I have become the minister. I’ve had many consultations with the councillors and the mayor and so on, but the member has never approached me to give me his viewpoint. This is the first time I’ve been officially informed on how he felt about it.
Mr. M. Davidson: You’d better check Hansard.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Not to me you haven’t. You may have with someone else, the Treasurer or someone, but you and I have not discussed the matter.
I’m happy to know that you are in favour of market value assessment. Certainly it is a good thing for me to know that I’m not going to get opposition if and when we move in your area -- providing, of course, we bring in the proper proposal. I understand that.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, I just have a few comments to make to the minister concerning the problem the city of Windsor finds itself in at present. It was back in 1975, when the cabinet was touting the province prior to the 1975 election, that the mayor of the city of Windsor presented a brief -- if I’m not mistaken it was in January 1975 -- to the cabinet in London. It pointed out Windsor’s position, showing how we were being denied the resource equalization grant to the extent of approximately $8.5 million, If I’m not mistaken, at that time they suggested a resolution of the problem either by such a method as you have mentioned or by transitional grants.
Is the minister considering some way of eliminating the inequality insofar as the city of Windsor is concerned, being denied that $8.5 million back from 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 and then again, in 1978? Has he suggested to his cabinet colleagues that possibly transitional grants might be the answer for the time being as far as Windsor is concerned? I understand the average taxpayer is paying anywhere from between $35 and $50 a year more in taxes than he would have been paying had there been an equalization factor developed.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You’re getting into an area now that comes under the Treasurer. That is not a decision I would make. I would say to the member that if and when we get market value throughout the province I would suspect that at that point in time we would also have equality so far as the grants for municipalities are concerned. That’s one of the problems, as you have indicated, because of the equalization factor. But the matter of the grants to municipalities does not come under my ministry at all. It is under the Treasurer and I really don’t want to speak on his behalf.
Mr. B. Newman: I apologize for bringing that up to you, but at least you’ll understand that Windsor does have a specific problem and the only way you can resolve it really is by making some type of transitional grant. We’ve been deprived of over $20 million -- I think it’s in the range of between $22 million and $25 million -- over the past series of years in not getting that resource equalization grant.
I wanted to suggest another thing to you. That is, speak to your colleague, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson), so that your employees in the city of Windsor can have some parking area behind the provincial public building. That could be accommodated simply by purchasing the building behind the provincial public building and making a parking lot there.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I will look into that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That’s good for a few votes.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Chairman, the minister tried to oversimplify the problem a few moments ago but he caught himself when he said: “I assume that you’ll support market value assessment when it comes to your area.” He then realized what he was saying and he said: “Of course, assuming that it’s an acceptable package.” There is a danger in this chamber of us looking upon market value assessment as having the same effect on everyone. Certainly, when I hear my colleague from Metropolitan Toronto talking about market value assessment it’s in a different way than I talk about it when I think about the impact in the Sudbury community, or when I hear the Windsor members talking about market value assessment.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That’s a problem.
Mr. Laughren: It’s a serious problem and, hopefully, something can be resolved because I suspect that all parties are in favour, in principle, of the concept of market value assessment. It’s a case of making sure that it doesn’t introduce more inequities than are there now. I understand that that’s a possibility.
I wanted to speak briefly on it, because when the Blair commission came to Sudbury, I presented a brief to the commission on behalf of my colleagues in the area, and did not receive a very favourable or even friendly response. Some people called it hostile, though I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t know why --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Blair always speaks very highly of you.
Mr. Laughren: I am not denigrating any individual. I could, but I am not. I thought our proposals made eminently good sense, because we were addressing ourselves to the problems of the Sudbury community, and it was amazing. We did it without consultation with the region, and I will tell you why we did it without consultation. When I was preparing the brief on behalf of the NDP from the Sudbury region I went into the late Mayor Fabbro’s office and asked if I could sit down with them and talk about their brief so that we would not be working at cross purposes.
I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not going to be privy to their brief, which I thought was a rather strange way of working with the locally elected members. So when I made the brief, I looked forward with great anxiety to the brief that the region would put in and, surprisingly -- perhaps maybe not to you but to me -- it was very similar to what we were trying to say. I still regret that we were not able to get together on it, because we could have reinforced each other in our presentation to the Blair commission.
In the Sudbury area there have been complaints for as far back as I can remember about the inequities of the tax system, which does not allow the mining properties to be taxed properly or fairly or adequately for the needs of the Sudbury community, and the Sudbury region has been saying this for a long time. Then, suddenly, three groups came together and basically agreed on the same thing. The three groups that came together were the NDP that represents the Sudbury basin, the region and the city itself and, believe it or not, Mr. Minister, Inco.
I never thought I would see the day. There we were all in agreement, not only that there should be property tax reform of the Sudbury area but basically on how it should be done, how it should be brought about, basically.
There were some minor differences, and as Inco said: “Don’t expect us to come to you and say we want to pay more taxes overall.” That’s not the nature of the beast and I understand that. None of us wants to pay more taxes, but nevertheless they agreed that what was required was that the company should pay more money in the form of property tax rather than in the taxes that go to the two levels of government. So here we had three groups in favour; and guess who was the bottleneck, guess who said: “No, it’s not acceptable”?
Mr. Haggerty: I bet it’s not the minister.
Mr. Laughren: That’s right, two ministers of the crown -- the then Minister of Revenue and the Treasurer -- didn’t think it was of significant importance. Aren’t you glad you just came into this job in January?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Oh, yes.
Mr. Laughren: Boy, that lets you out of a lot of problems. You can blame your predecessors.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: What about next January?
Mr. Laughren: Yes, you are going to be in trouble. You had better get a shift in portfolios next January. It doesn’t matter, really, how you measure the prosperity of the Sudbury basin, it comes out not looking very good. I know the minister has done his homework in his new ministry -- it’s evident the way he’s handling these estimates and the way he handles questions in the question period -- and when I talk about debt-capita ratios and debt-assessment ratios, he knows what I am talking about almost as well as I do. By the way, I am sorry I couldn’t accept your invitation to sit at the table in front of you and give you advice, as I would have had to run back and forth. If you look at those figures, the latest figures I have-which are out of date by now but I doubt if they have changed very much -- show that the Sudbury region does indeed have problems. Just looking, first of all, at the debt-assessment ratio of some of the different regions in the province, those are 1974 figures and I am sure the minister’s staff have more up to date ones, and if he could tell me that it’s improved since then I would be delighted:
Hamilton-Wentworth -- this is debt to assessment -- 3.3 per cent; Niagara two per cent; Peel 1.6; Waterloo 1.9; Durham 1.8; Halton 1.3; York one; Sudbury 3.1 -- the highest of all. Then in the latest figures at that time that I could get, February 1976, Sudbury moved up to 4.1 per cent. That’s their debt-assessment, which excludes school boards so we cannot put the blame on them. The debt per capita ratio for Hamilton-Wentworth was $327; Niagara $190; Peel $189; Waterloo $181; Durham $188; Halton $131; York $125; Sudbury $303. And projecting up to the latest date at that time, once again February 1976, Sudbury $375, which was considerably more than its closest rival, Hamilton-Wentworth, at $327. Most of them were below $200. It doesn’t seem to matter how you measure the prosperity. We always come out not looking as well as we should.
I would like to quote from a brief that the Sudbury region presented to the Premier (Mr. Davis) a couple of years ago. This is what they said and this is really the heart of the whole problem of assessment in the Sudbury area: “In Sudbury, because of the method of taxing the mining industry with the benefits accruing to the provincial and federal governments, the municipal government receives little if any benefit in terms of increased financial resources. In fact, in the Sudbury region often the reverse occurs: investment stimulates the private sector in the community through increases in population and disposable income and raises the expectation and demand for municipal services.”
What that is really saying is that Inco pumped in a billion dollars to the Sudbury community in the last 10 years or so --
Mr. Haggerty: And it never came back to the town.
Mr. Laughren: -- and because of the kind of assessment there, it is not reflected in increased revenues in the municipal coffers. To compound it, that increased investment stimulated the building of houses requiring sewer and water projects, so that they ended up with a very high level of servicing costs. Despite the fact that there was a high investment, the benefits do not accrue to the municipality. That’s a serious problem.
Normally you would be very happy to see all this investment coming into a community; but what happens is that the community doesn’t get the benefits it normally would. If that was a manufacturing investment, for example, they would get a much higher level of benefit for the community.
I will give you an exact quote: Between 1968 and 1973, $1.4 billion was invested in the Sudbury region, a figure that exceeded the total equalized assessment in 1975. Out of that $1.4 billion Inco invested almost a billion dollars themselves. I would say to the minister that there is something grotesque about a tax system that takes so much and leaves so little. That’s simply not right.
Inco and Falconbridge pay approximately one half of one per cent of their assets in property tax. All businesses currently pay an average of 2.2 per cent of their market value assets in property tax. If Inco and Falconbridge were to pay roughly an equivalent portion, their 1975 property tax would have been $34 million or more, instead of $8.5 million. There were revenues coming into the region in the form of property tax from the mining industry of $8.5 million, whereas if they were assessed at the same proportion as all businesses, speaking generally, instead of $8.5 million it would have been $34 million.
That would have made an enormous difference to the regional municipality of Sudbury. It would have been what I would call honest revenue in that it would accrue from local industry, and not the kind of handout that the regions had to come down here for and hammer on the Treasurer’s door year after year after year about. There is no reason that could not have been done.
We put forward some options; we didn’t just stand up and complain. We said there are a number of ways of reassessing in the Sudbury area. One would be to tax production machinery -- I am talking about underground, now, where a lot of the production machinery is. Another would he to establish a business tax, a realty tax on the replacement costs of the mining industry. A third -- when Arthur Meen was Minister of Revenue he indicated a real interest in what’s known as a foundation tax. It’s through a combination of these things, which I know you people have talked about as well, that something could have been done to make life a lot better for the Sudbury area.
There’s one other thing I wanted to touch on, moving out of the Sudbury area, that is the whole question of assessment in unorganized communities. I’d like to know from the minister whether or not it is his intention to change the process of property tax collection or assessment in the unorganized communities. If he is, we’d like to know some very specific details about it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We will be doing the assessment in the unorganized townships, as the member is well aware. There’ll be no change in the collection of taxes, of course, because it’s under this ministry anyway.
We’re freezing the taxes until 1980, until we can get all our work done in the unorganized areas. There’ll be no drastic change at all in the unorganized areas as far as taxes are concerned until 1980, if I’m not mistaken. It may be longer than 1980.
I was interested in your remarks about Sudbury I’ll study those. I wasn’t that familiar with your submission. I’m interested and I would like to hear more about it.
Mr. Laughren: To be a little more specific, has there been or is there serious consideration of a different method of assessing the mining facilities in the Sudbury area? I know the minister understands the problems of northern communities, with the very expensive servicing problems, particularly in Sudbury with the rock. I know there are compensating grants, the resource equalization grants and so forth, I understand all that, but I do believe there needs to be a different way of assessing the properties of the mining industry. I don’t just mean land.
I’m not an expert on it myself, so I can’t say that production machinery is the right way or the foundation method is the right way. I do know there’s got to be a better way. Even the companies are standing up and saying that they wish the system would change as well. I know it’s probably public relations on their part, but they’d like to see the community receive more. After all, the mining community has given a lot in the Sudbury area. They’ve given a lot in the way of services -- and they’ve given a lot in the way of pollution that we live with in that area too -- but they’ve given a lot in the way of providing amenities for people who will work for the mining companies, and that’s very expensive.
The companies can’t argue one day they don’t do the research in Sudbury because they can’t attract people to Sudbury and then argue the next day that they don’t want to contribute more to the wealth of the community through paying more taxes, it’s part of a package.
I would hope that the minister would take a fresh look at it. I can assure the minister we get weary of continually talking about reassessing the mining tax properties in the Sudbury area. My colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has been here 10 years; my colleague the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) and I have been here almost seven years, and we are continually talking about the need for this.
As the Ministers of Revenue whirl by through that revolving door called the cabinet room, they each express, as they come in, a new interest in the problems of assessing the mining properties. I think if a better way could be developed, more than Sudbury would benefit. There are lots of other mining communities in northern Ontario that would be better off. I hope the minister won’t just say, “We got through the estimates; now let’s get on with other, more mundane matters”; and forget about Sudbury again. It’s more serious than that.
I want to tell you something. When there was a conference in Sudbury called 2001, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller) was there, the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) was there with a bodyguard, and the Premier was there. To wrap up the process that night, the Premier made a speech and left $600,000 behind in order to provide funding in an ongoing way for the 2001 committee. It’s the only day since Confederation that we made a profit in Sudbury. There was a great sense of goodwill in the community that day, but unless something changes fundamentally and structurally and fiscally it’s not going to continue.
That sense of goodwill will not continue. It’s not that if that continues that we politically would be the benefactors or that your government would be the benefactors. I think the danger is that if you don’t do something, if you don’t change things, you will raise the cynicism higher than it is now. Because there really was a reservoir of goodwill from that conference. There were 1,000 people at it, and that’s a lot to get out to a conference. It would be simply unfair and unwise, quite frankly, for the Premier and his government to raise people’s expectations like that and then walk away and say, “Solve the problem for yourself.” The problem is too complex for that.
With 4,000 laid off in the mining industry and the economists telling us that means another 4,000 related jobs, that’s 8,000 jobs that could disappear in the Sudbury basin. It’s a certainty it’s 4,000, and of course there will be more. That’s a serious blow to a community, and you can’t pick it up. It’s not being shown right now. I was talking to the mayor of Sudbury a couple of weeks ago and he indicated that he did a survey of the small businesses in the community. He said they’re all doing better or just as well as last year, except for one group of retailers in the stereo hi-fi business.
But that’s not going to continue. I think the prosperity that’s there now is an illusion. As the unemployment insurance benefits run out, as people move away, that has to have an effect, it simply has to. Unemployment insurance benefits at $150 are a big difference, are a lot different than $300 a week from working in the mines.
We see a lot of repercussions already. I had a worker phone me on Sunday. He bought his house in August and he was laid off in the fall. Because of the layoffs, he has to give up his house. He can’t sell it. Can you imagine what the market for homes is like? He can’t sell his house. What does he do? He walks away from it. It’s pretty sad. He saved his money to buy this house for years, and suddenly he just has to walk away from it.
It’s not as though it was Toronto with 4,000 being laid off where there is a market. When that happens in Sudbury, there isn’t a market for the homes. What do you say to someone like that? He asked me for advice. What can I tell him?
To get back to what I was really trying to say, if you are going to do something substantially for the community, then it’s going to mean just that, something substantial. While one way would be the reassessment of the mining industry to provide revenues for the community, there are other ways, of course, which don’t concern themselves with these estimates debates. But I’m really serious when I say that that reservoir of goodwill that’s there now won’t last forever. It is incumbent upon the government and the Minister of Revenue as a member of the cabinet to ensure that there is something ongoing and that there are some plans being made to buttress the economy in the Sudbury area.
As a matter of fact, there would be nothing wrong with the Ministry of Revenue being located in the Sudbury area. It would be closer to your home, too. The Ministry of Northern Affairs could be in Sudbury too, but you would have to change the minister in order to allow him in town. The Ministry of Natural Resources could be in Sudbury, as well.
Those are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you, knowing how much you appreciate them.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Chairman, just a couple of remarks. I understand that what you’re asking for in your brief was certainly moving considerably away from property assessment as we know it. What’s really proposed there is to allow the municipalities to collect certain taxes from Inco, with the province or federal government not collecting as much. I presume that is what the proposal is all about. I am sort of interested in the term the member used, “foundation taxes”; when I interjected a little earlier that is really what I meant I would like to find out a little more about. Perhaps he and I can get together and discuss that.
Mr. Laughren: I would be delighted to do that. But, to answer the minister’s first query, we do not want the municipalities to get into mining taxes; they are cluttered up enough as it is. I wouldn’t suggest that for a minute. The municipalities should not be collecting mining profits tax, nor should they be collecting corporation taxes; but there should be a proper collection of property taxes for the municipalities. I am not asking the government to get into that whole bag. I don’t believe in that system. But I do think that what the minister says is correct, that there should be a shift from the senior levels to the local level in tax revenues.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The member for Prince Edward-Lennox.
Mr. Breaugh: Go get him, Jim. We’re with you all the way.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I would like to ask two or three questions, if I may. I don’t propose to make a speech for the people back home, Michael.
I invariably read Hansard and study it very thoroughly. In order to sort of make sense out of what has been said this afternoon, I was wondering if the minister could assist me in some of the definitions that are involved. I have heard the words “actual value,” “market value” and “actual market value.” Does he see “actual value,” as defined in the Assessment Act, as the same thing as “market value”? That is one issue I would like to have clarified.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am informed that the Assessment Act used to say “actual value,” but it doesn’t any longer. It is market value now. But the courts have interpreted both terms as meaning one and the same thing.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: When we hear the expression “actual value,” then it means “market value”? How is market value arrived at? We have heard again today, I think three approaches. One was sales, one was replacement value and the other was economic value or capitalizing income. The reason I ask this is that there has been some suggestion that there should be a uniform approach. I was wondering whether the ministry, in assessing properties, uses a combination of those approaches where possible, whether it uses a straight sale value where possible or what it does.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: For unique properties, ones where there is no record of sales and so on, replacement cost is used to evaluate. In most other cases, the sales of the area are taken into account plus the other term we used a little earlier. But replacement value is used mainly for unique buildings -- we talked a little earlier here about distilleries and so on -- where there is no record of sales that can be used as a sort of yardstick.
When we get into other properties where sales are recorded, the sales are taken from the registry office in the local area, of course, and the market value is arrived at through those figures.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Do we have now a definition of market value for assessment purposes?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: There is a definition of market value in the Assessment Act. I could look it up and read it to the member if he would like it to be on the record.
Section 27(1) of the act says: “Subject to this section, land shall be assessed at its market value.” Subsection 2 says this about market value: “Subject to subsection 3, the market value of land assessed is the amount that the land might be expected to realize if sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer.” That’s the definition contained in the act.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I would assume you’d have to use all approaches in order to arrive at that. I was just wondering what the criticism of utilizing those three approaches might be on the basis of what I’ve heard from the opposition today.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That’s right. We do have to use various approaches. I don’t think the member who was discussing this was discarding the approach of the value that would be obtained in a registry office. I don’t think that was his argument at all. I think he concedes that those figures must be used as well to obtain market value.
However, I did read earlier into the record a decision of Mr. Justice Kelly on an appeal on assessment which indicated that the same procedure did not always follow through for each type of property.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes, I heard that decision. My question was in terms of approach. Is there a criticism that different approaches used within the same municipality are resulting in some sort of inequity? How do you see the inequities developing?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: What the staff has been doing is using whatever approach they feel best measures the market value. I’m sure the member realizes there has to be a little bit of give and take to this. There are estimates involved here. There is no question that anyone, as good an assessor as he might be, cannot come down and figure out to the last dollar what a piece of property is worth. Judging from the number of appeals we have in the areas where we are on market value assessment, I think the systems being used are working relatively well. They’re using not only one, but two or three; whatever it takes to arrive at the proper market value in their estimation. They’re being used in areas where we are on market value assessment and there are very few appeals. So I would assume the system is working relatively well.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The other question I wanted to ask is whether or not the minister would give consideration to decentralization in terms of responsibility for assessment at the county level or the level of regional government.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It’s something that could be considered during all of the proposals that are now under discussion. I don’t know at this point in time whether the counties and municipal governments would be prepared to accept that even if we wanted to give it to them. I doubt very much whether they would want to take back that authority. It is something to be considered.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I presume you have an open mind on that. The last point I wanted to ask you about is whether you would consider the property tax in Ontario today to be significantly regressive.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I think that because of the property tax credit system that we have we have taken out some of the inequities. As a matter of fact I would say most of them. People on low incomes, and senior citizens, pensioners and people on disability pensions and so on, do get some assistance through the property tax credits which I think take a lot of the regressiveness out of it.
Mr. Warner: It is still regressive.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You would say that anyway.
Mr. Warner: The Premier did.
Mr. Ruston: Speaking of assessment and so forth, Mr. Chairman, I can assure you there are many other places in the world that are having problems similar to ours.
I have a newspaper clipping from the Detroit News of this past weekend which gives an idea of some of the problems there are, and I’m sure the minister would be interested. The same thing could happen here when and if we ever go into full market value assessment. I’ll quote from the paper a case where we might have a home worth $30.000 or $40,000. The assessor eyeballs it, as the writer says, and sets the assessment at $17,000, in other words at 50 per cent of market value. Then the state requires that taxes be set on that, which in that area would be $800; that’s fine.
Then a buyer comes out and looks at the house. It’s spring of the year, the trees and flowers are out in bloom and everything looks real nice, so he asks the owner what he wants for the house. The owner tells him he’s asking $59,000. The buyer asks him how much his taxes are and the fellow says $800. So they dicker and the house is bought for $56,000. Then, because the place is sold for $56,000, the assessor sees that figure and reassesses the house for tax purposes at $28,000. That raises the taxes up to $1,330. So the new owner’s taxes go up $530 overnight with the reassessment because of value. The fellow then is not sure he should have bought the house.
This is a problem that we face with market value assessment. I don’t know what the real solution is. Sure we know the tax credit system we have in Ontario does help a fair amount, we realize that. Maybe we’re even going to have to expand on that.
There is one other thing. Some people say land tax is the only true tax you can see and collect. The local municipality is there; their services are there; the house, the big lot and beautiful home, is there. Maybe the person who owns that big, beautiful home which is worth $200,000 makes a large income, but income tax and other taxes are not always quite as easy to collect as land tax, so we are always going to have to have a kind of secure tax at the local level to see that our local services are paid for.
It’s not an easy solution, but you can see what market value can do to someone who has lived there for many years. The assessor is going to look over the houses in the general area. Maybe a fellow has been living there for 40 years and figures maybe he’d retire there. Then an assessor comes along and tells him his neighbour’s house is worth $56,000, and his is just as nice so they’re going to have to put it up to $56,000, so his taxes are going up to $1,330 too. That person could be retired and so forth. It’s a vicious circle.
Those are some of the things I thought interesting. In the state of Michigan and many other states, they are now taking petitions to control the amount of taxes a municipality can assess against property.
I noticed that in Michigan there is a house bill, 6310. It would allow local school districts, on the vote of residents, to substitute a two per cent income tax in exchange for a 22 mill reduction in property taxes on those homes and farms that the owners occupy.
This would not reduce taxes but would shift the burden from the person on a modest income and living in an expensive house to the person with a more substantial income but living in a modest house.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) mentioned this regarding his area, and I would say the same for my own area; except that the city of Windsor, being a neighbouring area, has had many problems lately with regard to their grant structure. Because they were assessed higher back in 1969, prior to provincial assessment, their grants didn’t come in so good. With the amount of publicity they had in Windsor and with the Windsor paper circulating in our area, everybody kind of wondered whether they’re in for the same treatment. Really, we’re not, but I’ll get a few resolutions from some of the municipalities, because of the actions of Windsor, saying that they are in favour of market value assessment and reform of the tax structure, it’s going to cost them less.
The only way it’s going to cost them less is to quit spending money, because the money is going to come from some other part of the municipality unless the government comes up with higher grants. There’s a little false security there that some of them have when they are sending out these resolutions, although I notice in the local weekly papers that some of the municipalities have refused to accept those resolutions are sending in letters to that effect. They feel that maybe the system we have now isn’t all that bad.
As the member for Windsor-Walkerville mentioned, the problem with Windsor was they were very active in their assessment department and they were following up their values to a greater extent than many of the other areas. In fact, Essex county, I don’t know if you are aware of it, was the first county in Ontario to go to county-wide assessment. I must admit I was on county council at the time and felt that it was a good system and I think it was working pretty well. All you really needed were guidelines and with the county-wide assessment, it made it pretty well equalized.
I know in our own area that sure, there might have been some places that got a little lax in looking after their assessment but I think when the county took it over they put it into pretty good shape. There are certain problems in this and we can really sympathize with Windsor in their equalization grants, that they are getting apparently the short end of the stick, and there should be some way to alleviate these places maybe rather than the old saying, “Throw the baby out with the bath water.” You have got to be careful that what you do doesn’t upset the whole apple cart.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I was interested in the remarks the member made regarding Detroit, or over in Michigan, about the house where the taxes went up $500. I think the whole point of market value assessment is you have to remember if the taxes on that house went up $500, somewhere else in that same community some other person is going to take advantage of that $500, and I think that’s the whole key to the thing. You must remember that any community needs so many dollars to operate and what happens is just a shift amongst the taxpayers. It doesn’t mean they are going to collect any more dollars in total. It just means that those whose taxes go up are going to pay more, obviously, but it’s going to leave people down at the lower end who are going to have to pay a little less, so it just makes it fairer to the taxpayers if they are assessed on market value.
Mr. Breaugh: Beer in the ball park.
Mr. Warner: Yes, beer in the ball park. No, he can’t make a decision on that.
Did I hear the minister correctly earlier this afternoon when you said that there was going to be some legislation introduced before the end of June with respect to market value assessment and property tax reform?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I said hopefully there will be.
Mr. Haggerty: You didn’t say that. You said there would be.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Did I say there would be? Oh boy.
Mr. Makarchuk: Have you been consulting with Bette Stephenson?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Let’s put it this way. If I said that, that’s not quite so. What I would like to see is legislation by the end of June. As a matter of fact, if we are going to correct the situation it has to be by the end of June. Either that or it’s going to be too late for this year. I think I mentioned that in my opening remarks and that’s what I was really referring to.
If I said it in another way and it’s come out that it’s definite, the property tax reform legislation will not be brought in by me but by the Treasurer, so obviously I cannot control when that legislation will come in. But for practical purposes, if we are going to institute any kind of program by 1979, it almost has to come in before the end of June so that the municipalities and our ministry can adjust to whatever those proposals are in time for 1979.
Mr. Warner: That’s what I thought. Perhaps you could explain what the problem is between your office and Mr. McKeough’s office which prevented him from giving us that answer on May 1 when he was asked a question in the assembly during question period. The question was put to him on May 1 whether or not the Treasurer was going to introduce market value assessment and property tax reform this year, and, if so, when. According to Hansard, his definitive answer was “in the fullness of time.” I don’t understand why he couldn’t have given us the answer on May 1 which you have just given us now. What’s the problem between those two offices?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I guess he was giving you his opinion, I am giving you mine. I am just saying that if we’re going to do anything, we have to move, and if we don’t move it is going to be too late for 1979. As I indicated also, the property tax reform package, whatever it may be, will be brought in by the Treasurer, not by me, and it will require legislation. In his estimation maybe that’s when it is, in the fullness of time; in my estimation I say we have got to get something done by the end of June.
Mr. Warner: In other words, you have the same problem the rest of us have, that is with the Treasurer. That’s a severe problem for most of the residents of Ontario, including yourself.
I agree with you. If you are going to do something about market value reassessment and property tax reform, you should have some legislation in before the House rises in June. There should be an opportunity for municipalities to take a look at it. There should be an opportunity for some committee work in the fall so that we have a full go at this thing before you decide on the final legislation.
I am wondering if the minister could comment on what resolution he has come to with respect to the unique problem faced in Metro Toronto. I get the impression -- and if I’m wrong I’d like to be corrected -- that the government has resisted the suggestion that there be a separate approach for Metro Toronto because of the unique situation that exists here and not elsewhere in the province. I am sure the minister is aware that there are several problems encountered here in Metro which do not exist anywhere else.
One of those problems is those 46,000 housing units that were exempted after World War I. To my knowledge there has been no resolution of that. I am wondering if the government has some resolution to that problem. I would hope the minister is aware that many of those properties are inhabited by people who incomes average about $5,000 to $6,000 a year. If you bring in market value reassessment in its present form, based on the fact that the houses are located in downtown properties, they could see an increase of as much as $500 per annum. Someone earning in the range of $5,000 to $6,000 a year cannot afford that kind of increase in his taxes.
It comes about not so much because of the reassessment as because of the earlier exemption -- I realize that -- that was given following the war. Something has got to be resolved because I don’t think it’s fair for a government to impose that kind of horrendous increase on people who can’t afford it.
That situation doesn’t apply to those houses up in Forest Hill and Bridle Path and so on; it happens to affect those properties that are located in the downtown Toronto area. If you have reached some resolution of that problem, I would appreciate knowing it because I think it is a problem that needs a special answer to it.
The problem for Metro Toronto in general, with its strange balance of assessment, also needs some answers. I think the matter was raised earlier by my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), but it bears repeating. You have got to find some mechanism when you reduce the taxation level on apartments to ensure that the money goes back to the tenants in some way or other. Maybe you can do it by way of the standard lease arrangement so that it will be based on the unit and not the person and that there is going to be a reduction in the upcoming rents for that unit, which may or may not be inhabited by the present tenants. I think there are various ways of doing it, but you have got to have an answer.
Just to put it into very bald terms, when we look at the St. James Town area, that complex is going to see a reduction in taxes of approximately half a million dollars. It would appear that unless you make some arrangement, some guarantee, that half a million dollars is going to go back to the owners and not a penny of it will find its way into the pockets of the tenants who have been paying too much. They’ve been overassesssed but the tenants have been paying that. It’s been built into their rent.
However you decide to handle that situation, I think the government should also comment on what it intends to do in the future. Should it be required that the landlord give a statement of taxes to the tenant on the monthly notice of rent, or however it’s calculated? If you’ve got a yearly lease: “X amount of dollars is paid on this unit for taxes,” so that tenants are aware of how much tax is being paid and how much is being built into their rent. Then if there’s a decrease in that tax they have some idea of how much money they should be getting back
I think maybe the minister realizes this as well. I’ve got letters or little comments from constituents who say, “I live in an apartment, therefore I don’t pay taxes.” That’s nonsense. They’re paying higher taxes than the person who lives in a single-family dwelling in most cases, based on square footage of their apartment versus the square footage of a single family dwelling.
Somehow the myth has been left that if you live in an apartment you don’t pay tax. I think the government, when it carries out its property tax reform, can find a format that’s going to be used so that everyone who’s residing in apartments and rental accommodation has some knowledge that, first they pay taxes; and secondly, some idea of how much it is that they’re paying. Then they know whether it’s fair or not. Those are a couple of questions I have.
I have another matter which I’m pretty sure is on this vote as well. I’m wondering if the minister can tell me how many businesses, shops, small retail stores in Metro Toronto are overassessed. I raise that specifically because --
Mr. Ruston: You have it in your vest pocket.
Mr. Warner: -- the member for -- I’m sure he’s got it tucked away in his little notes there; it was something that he wanted to make a statement on today but didn’t have time.
The member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba appealed the tax assessment on about a hundred shops and in every case -- every case -- those shops had been overassessed by a large amount and it was rolled back.
Mr. Ruston: Are you increasing house assessment?
Mr. Warner: They’d been overassessed apparently for a very long period of time. Based on his experience with what I gather were at least a hundred shops, I’m wondering if you can give us any idea of how many shops, in Metro Toronto we’re talking about, have been overassessed and in what period of time and what the government intends to do about it?
Do I, as a member, have to go around and appeal the assessment of every shop in my riding? I’m quite prepared to do that, quite prepared to do it. I’d be quite happy to work on it this summer when the House isn’t sitting. It would seem like a very worthwhile project.
I know that my colleague from High Park- Swansea, while he’s appealed about a hundred or so, is prepared to appeal more shops in his riding and I suspect that other members in Metro are quite prepared to do the same. But I think that if the government is aware there’s a problem, and knowing the resources of the government and its commitment to this market value reassessment, that they would have some idea as to how they’re going to bring some equity for the shopkeepers in Metro Toronto, those shopkeepers who have been overassessed over the years.
I’d like to know what you intend to do about it. Maybe you can tell me today. If you don’t have any plan then I can tell you that I will go out during the summer and I will appeal the assessment of each of the shops in my riding. It should be an interesting exercise. Maybe you can save me some time.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I’ll work backwards on this and tell the member if he were to appeal all the shops in his riding, he might be creating quite a disservice to the single-family dweller. If all the commercial properties in Metro were appealed, there would probably be a shift whereby the residential property ratepayers would be paying three times the taxes they are paying now.
Mr. Ruston: That’s what he wants.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s what he wants.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Self-destruction.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I would suggest to him that he should consider it very carefully before going through all those appeals.
The member talked quite a bit about the fact that he wanted to ensure that the tenants got the benefit of any tax break that was coming. I agree with him on that, but there is a real problem. It’s very simple as long as there is rent control; but if that rent control were lifted, regardless of what the property taxes were on each one of those apartments, there would be nothing to stop the owner from charging an additional amount of rent; so he could get it one way or the other.
It would be easy enough to bring in something that would require the landlord to tell the tenant how much that tenant’s taxes were for the year but, once rent control was gone, there would be nothing to stop that same apartment owner from getting that money back through an increase in rent. It’s not as easy as it sounds. As I say, it’s easy enough to advise them what their taxes would be, but there is not a very simple way to ensure that they get those actual dollars without rent control.
One of the other things he mentioned was about veterans in Toronto. There may be some instances, as the member indicated, where they have a $5,000-a-year income, but I have to tell him that some of the houses on this same list are worth more than $100,000 and people are living in them who are not in any way related to a veteran. That’s where one of the problems is, and it’s going to be difficult to solve that problem.
We’re looking at the situation, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are some people who perhaps make only $5,000 or $6,000 a year, but then there are the other people who have in the more expensive homes and who perhaps make a big salary. How do you get it so there’s equity unless you charge according to the market value of those buildings regardless of whether some people’s taxes go up more than they really can afford or not? I would remind the member again, if they have an income of $5,000 or $6,000, they would be getting a fair amount of property tax rebates through the property tax rebate system.
Mr. Warner: I can understand that since the minister, first of all, is new at the job and, secondly, is not from Toronto, he is not familiar with the problem, but I would bring to his attention that a computer run was done on a particular street. I’m familiar with the street and with the houses. The bulk of the 46,000 units are inhabited by working people whose incomes are less than the average; they’re down around the level of $5,000 or $6,000. The houses have 15 to 20-foot frontages --
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Don’t they make more money than that?
Mr. Warner: The minister will have to take a look. I’ll just tell him that a computer run was done on it, and it included the income levels. It was a scientific study of that segment of the 46,000 houses, and all the units are in that. The problem is that, because they’re in the downtown area, they get higher market value. If those same houses were sitting somewhere else in Metro Toronto, they wouldn’t have the same value; but because they’re in the downtown area, they get a higher value than they really should be worth.
I appreciate the comments about the property tax rebate system, and I think the minister would agree, first of all, that property tax rebate system isn’t refined enough. It does not reflect income levels accurately enough and it needs to be refined better than it is now. The problem with the system for someone who is earning $6,000 a year or less, say, is that they still have to put the money out during the year to receive it back at the end of the year from the property tax rebate system. I don’t know how you get around that, but I think you have got to have some way of building in whatever it says on the property tax rebate system as to what you should get. That should be built into the monthly or quarterly portion in what you pay on your taxes, however the person pays their taxes.
Take, for example, a working person living in a downtown Toronto house earning $6,000 a year and paying taxes on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Whatever basis he pays on, perhaps you could build the rebate system into that tax system, so that he is not having to put the money out first and then, 12 months later, get the rebate back. Obviously, he has a cash problem. If he is only earning $6,000 a year, he has a cash problem. It only makes it worse when he has to pay higher taxes and wait 12 months to get the rebate back. It creates a real problem for that person.
With respect to the tenants, I think you have made another excellent argument in favour of retaining rent controls in some form. That is what you are saying, because that has compounded the problem for the tenants. If they lose the protection that rent review affords them, then you are going to compound it if you go to market value assessment. The amount of money they put out in excess isn’t going to come back to them. I think you have put forward a very compelling argument in favour of retaining rent control. I appreciate it, and I am sure the million tenants in Toronto appreciate it as well. Perhaps you will appear in front of the rent review committee and make that strong argument again. That will help us in our work.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You’re trying to combine the welfare system with the property assessment.
Mr. Warner: With respect to the comment about the shops; sure, you are right, but that’s one of the real problems that we face in Toronto if you start shifting.
That’s why I come back to what I asked first. Because of the unique situation which exists in Metro Toronto, I would like to know if the government has decided that it cannot accept having two systems, one for Metro Toronto and one for the rest of the province. I really get the impression that it has. What I would like to know is why not? What is unreasonable about that? If we have a unique problem in Toronto, can we not have a separate solution for the problem? If there is some reason we can’t approach the problem in that way, I would like to know, because that shift in assessment is going to cause problems in Toronto.
You have to remember -- and the minister is probably aware -- that almost half of our two million population in Toronto is housed in rental accommodation. That’s not like the rest of the province. There are very few cities where half the people live in rented accommodation.
If you reduce the assessment on rented accommodation, apartment buildings, you are going to cause a shift to the single-family residential unit. It is not going to happen elsewhere, but it will happen in Toronto. The same is true on the commercial, for small business. If you make a shift, it’s going to cause a problem somewhere else. It is not going to happen in a lot of other places, but it is going to happen in Toronto. That’s why I would like to know why you can’t come up with a separate answer for Metro Toronto as opposed to the rest of the province. I don’t know why you are resisting that. I don’t mean you personally, but whoever it is in your ministry who is resisting that kind of approach. I certainly would like to know why.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: There is nobody in my ministry who is resisting that approach at all.
Mr. Warner: The Treasurer, then? Where are the newspaper reports coming from?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Again, I can’t speak for the Treasurer, but I indicated earlier in my debate with the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) that we as a ministry were looking at the manipulation of mill rates. I was referring particularly to Toronto, but perhaps the whole province as well. If you have read the reports that have come back from that committee that was a submission made by Toronto. They suggested they have perhaps two or more mill rates in the residential field. For instance, a mill rate for single family units, another mill rate for multiple family units, two mill rates in that field; and perhaps two or more other mill rates in the commercial field, one for commercial and one for industrial. There wouldn’t be such a great shift immediately and the shift could take place over, let’s say, five years or three years or whatever, gradually by changing the mill rate every year. That was a suggestion made by Metro and that’s one that we’re looking at.
There is no firm proposal that we or the government have accepted at this time. I’m open for any reasonable suggestions and so is the government. We do have to get on with it. We do have to make up our minds pretty quickly and come in with some kind of proposals. I haven’t closed my mind on any particular proposal at this point.
Mr. Warner: I just have one short final question: Can you tell me why photography shops are assessed at a higher rate than other small shops that are located in a plaza? Why should they be assessed at greater rates? I believe it’s 25 per cent higher than a pizza shop, for example. I’ve never understood that. I’ve had the matter raised.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Are you talking about business assessment?
Mr. Warner: Business assessment, yes. It’s been fruitless to appeal it. It hasn’t worked.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I’m informed that the rates are set by the act. They’re in with a group whose assessment is at that particular percentage. That’s why. I don’t know why they were put in the act that way to start with, but that’s where they are in the act. As long as the act remains as it is, they’re assessed properly.
Mr. Warner: I stand corrected if I’m wrong, but I believe they’re lumped in with nonessential service or whatever the designation is, something to that effect.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: How about distilleries? Tell them about distilleries.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: They’re classified under section 7(1)(f)(iii). If you ever want to look this up, you’ll have a hard time reading it in Hansard, I’m sure. They’re classified as “carrying on business as the publisher of a newspaper, or a photographer, printer or publisher.” They’re classified in that section to be assessed “for a sum equal to 50 per cent of the assessed value.” That’s the way it is in the act and you’re quite right, there would be no point in appealing if they’re properly assessed.
Mr. Warner: Yes, that’s what I’m getting at. I’m just going by memory, but it seems to me that pizza shops and the like are assessed at 25 per cent of the value and photography shops at 50 per cent. The answer given through the assessment office was that it’s not an essential service, Of course, the owner of the photography shop says that if you want to get a passport, to satisfy the Canadian government you must have a photo- graph of a proper designation by the federal government, a certain size and type of finish and so on, and you have to go to a photography shop in order to get the picture for your passport. Is that not an essential service?
I don’t understand why he would be assessed at double the rate of the pizza shop. It doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. A lot of things that happen on that side don’t make much sense to me. It’s in the act and it can’t be changed by simply appealing it. Perhaps the minister could undertake to introduce some changes to the act. Could you undertake to introduce that so that the photography shop is taxed the same way as all the other shops?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am informed that this act, or at least certain sections of it, was written in 1904. We really don’t know why they’re lumped in the way they are. We are looking at the act now with a view to making some amendments to it. Maybe we’ll be rewriting the act. I’m not sure. I agree something has to be done with it.
Mr. Warner: Is that called in the fullness of time, from 1904 to 1978?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I was just wondering who was in power in 1904. I was wondering if I could blame it on some other party besides ours, but it seems as if we’ve been in forever.
Mr. Warner: It wasn’t us; and don’t remind us.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We intend to stay that way of course.
Mr. Haggerty: I’d like to direct a question to the minister. Under the Assessment Act, the minister may make regulations. Is the assessment manual now being used by assessors in the province of Ontario prescribed by regulations?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, it is not.
Mr. Haggerty: Then who prepares the sets of guidelines there and who approves them?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: They are set by the standards branch within our ministry.
Mr. Haggerty: Are they ever approved by the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernment Affairs? Does that ministry give final approval or do you?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, they are approved by the standards branch. Of course, the Minister of Revenue, I would presume, must approve the work done by the standards branch. He is responsible for anything that happens within the ministry.
Mr. Haggerty: Is the assessment manual available to other persons in the province of Ontario; for example to a person making an appeal before the assessment appeal court?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I’m informed it is, yes.
Mr. Haggerty: On the matter of assessment appeals, is your ministry cataloguing all appeals that are being settled now before the review court?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, we have to keep track of them all.
Mr. Haggerty: Are decisions being catalogued? -- that’s what I would like to know. Where can persons obtain copies of those appeals?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, they’re being catalogued. You can write to the director of the assessment branch. We’re talking about after the appeals are completed.
Mr. Haggerty: After the decision is brought down, that’s what I want to know.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I suppose they would be available in the municipalities too, if you wanted them. They would have them, I’m sure.
Mr. Haggerty: If any person wanted to make an appeal before the appeals review board, he would have an opportunity to go back and look at some of the previous decisions and could put forward arguments on it then?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, you’re thinking that there would be records kept of the evidence and all the rest of it. No, that wouldn’t be so. The decisions are there, but I don’t think there’s a transcript of every hearing that would be held. You wouldn’t be able to get that kind of information.
Mr. Haggerty: The reason I bring this to your attention is that under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, when appeals are made to the Labour Relations Board these are all catalogued, in the sense that you can refer to a certain decision made in reference to an appeal.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, that sort of information is not available. You could ask for a written judgement on any particular case.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The time for dealing with the estimates of this ministry has expired.
Vote 1004 agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Maeck, the committee of supply reported progress.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Maeck, the House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.