The House met at 2.03 p.m.
DISPOSITION OF ORDER IN COUNCIL
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege arising from some deliberations before the procedural affairs committee this morning. It was brought to our attention that an order in council designating certain parts of this building to be under the jurisdiction of the Speaker is at least in dispute. It has been brought into question whether that particular order in council ought to have been presented to the House, and whether it conforms, therefore, with the regulations under which it should operate; whether it should have been gazetted, in other words.
I rise because it is a point that affects many members of this House, in many deliberations that are currently under way in this House. I do not seek a ruling at this time, I simply wish to bring it to the attention of the Speaker, and certainly there may be members of the government benches who would wish to act on this matter.
Mr. Speaker: To allude briefly to the alleged point of privilege of the member for Oshawa. We have made a note of your alleged point of privilege and we will be looking into it to see whether or not the order in council that you speak of was in fact tabled; and we have taken note of your right to raise it at a future time.
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, this too is a point of privilege. It deals with a statement made by the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) on Friday, May 12. His statement was entitled, in the copy available to us, “Regarding Remarks Made about the Ontario Food Council Chairman.” I would like to quote four paragraphs of the minister’s statement. They are as follows:
“I’d like to clarify a matter that arose in the House yesterday, as a result of a question from the Leader of the Opposition. I was asked when my staff first heard about the discounting practice which we have been discussing for some days now.
“The matter was raised in the House on Monday, May 1. The chairman of the Ontario Food Council had been hearing rumours for two or three weeks prior to May 1 and had reported them to me on Thursday, April 27. I instructed him to look into these rumours right away to find out if they were true and to find out which stores were involved, if possible.
“I would like to point out that under the Ontario Food Council legislation the chairman normally acts on complaint only. However, because of the persistence of the rumours he took the initiative and came to me. I told him to get right on it. He got in touch with the companies involved and had discussions with the representatives. As I reported to this House on Thursday, May 4, the companies agreed to discontinue the practice as a result of our efforts.”
Mr. Speaker, I have also a letter signed by Mr. G. G. Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. He was then secretary treasurer. The letter is dated May 26, 1972, and a copy is brought to the attention of Mr. D. E. Williams, the chairman of the food council. It is addressed to the minister of agriculture’s predecessor. The minister may recall that in questions from this side, certainly from myself, we referred to the minister or his predecessor. The letter is as follows:
“Dear Mr. Stewart:
“We are writing to you over a matter of extreme concern in that we have reports that Dominion Stores Limited are asking producers of greenhouse tomatoes and specialized vegetables to deduct two per cent from the producers’ selling price to compensate Dominion Stores Limited for prompt payment. Our office has been advised that the produce manager in Hamilton area is visiting a number of suppliers with a contract and demanding that the producer will reimburse Dominion Stores Limited for the two per cent retroactively, and in one case we understand that the grower who has been selling greenhouse tomatoes has been asked to reimburse it and is being assessed $2,500.
“It is our understanding that some growers have already signed these contracts out of fear of losing sales outlets. As yet, we have not heard what will happen if an individual does not sign, but we would assume that he would either lose his sales outlet or have to go begging for his money.
“The Farm Products Grades and Sales Act has dealer regulations which state that moneys owing to producers must be paid promptly and we feel that this is sufficient authority to have the grower paid promptly and in full.”
We also have been advised that a number of apple growers have been contacted on this same premise. I am having some trouble in that the growers who have been contacted by the produce manager of Dominion Stores Limited are fearful of having their names revealed because of fear of reprisal. This may not be classed as payola, but it certainly is a new gimmick to get the producer to pay for the opportunity to sell his product.”
That is the end of the letter that I would put before you, Mr. Speaker.
My point is this: The minister stated clearly that his staff and he as minister were not aware of this practice. It has obviously been going on for some time. A clear and direct complaint was forthcoming from people officially in the business, and a copy was sent to the chairman of the Ontario Food Council.
The minister has indicated in this House, following a good deal of urging you may recall, Mr. Speaker, that neither he, his ministry, nor his officials were aware of the practice.
I feel the minister has been seriously misinformed; either that or the information he has given this House was seriously incomplete. In that connection I feel our privileges have not been responded to.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, when I made my statement in the House I made it in all sincerity. I want you to know that to start with.
Mr. Nixon: That’s accepted.
Hon. W. Newman: I gave it on the information I had obtained from my staff.
I was not aware of the letter written to the Honourable William Stewart in 1972, but I have been sent a note saying that the prompt payment discount was continued at that point in time, in 1972, or whenever it was, after a visit by the chairman of the Ontario Food Council But I was not aware of the letter to Hon. W. Stewart in 1972. I think I said in my statement I was made aware of it two or three weeks ago, dating back to April 27, I believe; I have forgotten the exact date.
In no way did I ever try to mislead this House, Mr. Speaker, nor have I ever tried to mislead this House as long as I have been in this House. I want to make that very clear. Any questions I have answered in this House have been answered honestly and fairly to the best of the knowledge I have.
If the honourable member wants to go back to 1972, I will look at that letter, but certainly I understand that the practice was continued after the letter was written to the minister at that point in time.
Mr. Cassidy: Was continued?
Mr. Nixon: Further to the point of privileges, Mr. Speaker, If you will permit me: Will the minister table the correspondence, particularly involving the chairman of the food council? The same gentleman is chairman now who was chairman then. I would particularly like the evidence by correspondence that the chairman of the food council did keep his minister properly informed in this matter.
Hon. W. Newman: I didn’t hear the last part of the honourable member’s question.
Mr. Nixon: It wasn’t a question. It was a statement through Mr. Speaker, in connection with the privileges of the House, hoping that the minister would see that we get copies of the correspondence, particularly involving the chairman of the food council, who had the same responsibility at the time of the correspondence I have read to you, Mr. Speaker -- copies of the correspondence between him and the Greenhouse Vegetable Producers’ Marketing Board officials and the ministry.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to getting that correspondence out unless it is marked from the board as something personal and confidential to the minister of the day. Otherwise, I would be quite prepared to make that information available to this House.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, on May 4 the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) asked a number of questions regarding business dealings between food producers and supermarket chains.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk asked me “to see if any of our provincial laws have been broken or if any federal laws have been broken; to see whether charges should be laid, or what action can be taken by the ministry to see that those producers who have lost out on this two per cent for at least a year have some procedure whereby they can recoup this payment?”
My undertaking was to respond to the legal issues that have been raised. In doing this, officials of my ministry examined this matter in relation to two federal statutes, the Criminal Code and the Combines Investigation Act, and one provincial statute, the Farm Products Marketing Act.
From the facts that have been made available to my ministry, it is our opinion that there has been no offence under the Criminal Code.
In connection with the Combines Investigation Act, it is our view that to warrant the laying of a charge there would have to be evidence of a conspiracy among producers, suppliers and supermarkets. We have no such evidence at this time. If any member or any agricultural organization has such evidence, it should be reported to the federal authorities who have the responsibility for the enforcement of this statute.
Under the Farm Products Marketing Act, it is an offence to contravene a pricing order of a marketing board respecting regulated products. I want to stress that this legislation applies only to regulated products. If there is evidence of a contravention, it should be reported to the local marketing board which has the responsibility in this regard.
The member for Welland-Thorold made mention of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, saying that organization had a large amount of information on this matter. I would point out to the member that the association, in its statement of May 4, agrees with our legal advice on this matter as they describe the activity as “not illegal.”
In connection with the question regarding the recovery of funds, it is our view that a local marketing board could institute proceedings for recovery if there is evidence that a pricing order of a board involving regulated products has been contravened.
Hon. W. Newman: I want to make a statement regarding discounting practices. The Attorney General has cleared up the legal aspects of discounting practices that have already been discontinued by two supermarket chains involved.
However, there have been questions and allegations about other practices in the retail food industry. I have already dealt with them, but it seems some members require further clarification.
Surely we would all agree that discounting in the normal way of conducting business is not unusual. Such things as volume discounts, co-operative advertising and merchandising packages are widely-known practices in business circles. They occur in practically every aspect of commercial dealing. If a person is buying a car, he tries to talk the deal down in price. When a farmer buys fertilizer, he tries to get a discount or a rebate by agreeing to buy in volume or taking early delivery. If a buyer doesn’t like the price he is quoted, he can go elsewhere; if a seller doesn’t want to change his prices for a buyer, he need not sell to that customer.
These points seem self evident to me, but I raise them because they have been overlooked in some of the questions that have been asked recently in the House and in committee. I think there is also some misunderstanding of the role of the Ontario Food Council. Permit me to quote section 6(3) of the Ontario food council act:
“The food council may receive complaints and collect data respecting trade practices in the food industry that it deems undesirable and take such steps as are necessary to bring these practices to the notice of the person or persons concerned; and, for the purpose of effecting the discontinuance of such undesirable trade practices, may co-operate with any branch or agency of the government of Canada or the government of Ontario.”
I think that makes it clear that the food council is not an enforcing agency. It is a fact-finding and consultative agency. It operates with the use of moral suasion and has been successful with this approach. The two per cent discount in the fruit and vegetable industry which we have been discussing has been voluntarily discontinued through the efforts of the food council.
Other questions in the House and in committee have indicated a need to explain the position of the commodity marketing boards which many Ontario farmers have organized. Marketing boards with authority to set prices have not been affected by the former discounting practices which the Attorney General considered.
Mr. Warner: Call them kickbacks.
Hon. W. Newman: If they had been affected, it would have been their responsibility to take corrective action or to seek assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. I have directed their supervisory boards -- the Farm Products Marketing Board and the Ontario Milk Commission to request all producer marketing boards to report any such contraventions immediately. As the Attorney General pointed out, action could then be taken under the Farm Products Marketing Act.
For those farmers whose products are not regulated by marketing boards, I can only say that marketing boards have proven a very effective tool for producers to protect themselves from undue downward price pressures. It is, of course, up to the producers of any given commodity to decide whether or not they want a marketing board.
Reference was made on Monday to a speech by Mr. Peter Hannam, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. I have read the speech and I find that Mr. Hannam has not dealt with any specifics that I can respond to. If he would care to substantiate any of his claims, I shall be happy to act upon them, if they come within my area of responsibility, or to refer them to the appropriate authorities.
Mr. McClellan: You should find out what’s happening.
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to have an inquiry or not to investigate what’s happening?
Hon. W. Newman: Officials of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture meet regularly with officials of my ministry. They did so as late as Monday of this week. They have never raised the issue of price and trade practices at these meetings, or in the federation’s annual brief to cabinet last month.
In conclusion, I would like to say it is my responsibility to enforce any laws which the Ministry of Agriculture and Food administers, and that is a responsibility I shall continue to fulfil. However, much of what has been discussed in the past few days appears to me to involve federal jurisdiction. I think anyone who suspects irregularities in food trade and pricing practices should tell the federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs whatever he knows.
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to ask them to get involved?
Hon. W. Newman: I would hope people would be prepared to supply names and dates and places; but if anyone would prefer to come to me with evidence of a breach of the law, federal or not, I would certainly inform the appropriate authority.
Mr. McClellan: He’d have to wake you up first.
Mr. Bradley: You should be a quarterback, you pass the ball well.
Hon. W. Newman: The same goes for anyone in my ministry. If necessary, we would do so in confidence.
Mr. Mancini: Point of privilege in reference to the statement made by --
Mr. Speaker: No. There is no point of privilege as a result of a statement.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Wrong again, Remo.
FARM STORM DAMAGE
Hon. W. Newman: I wish to announce that Agriculture Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food have agreed on a joint program to assist greenhouse growers in Ontario who suffered crop damage in December and January storms.
Hon. W. Newman: I don’t know what the honourable member is clapping about, we waited seven weeks for them to answer.
Mr. Swart: This won’t cover up the kickbacks.
Mr. Ruston: It takes a while for the mails, you know.
Mr. Conway: If you keep talking like that, Bob Eaton will be the minister.
Hon. W. Newman: About 400 greenhouse vegetable and flower growers were affected by storms, particularly a severe storm on January 26, with high winds and heavy snow and ice accumulation. This storm resulted in broken glass and torn plastic on the greenhouses, and frost damage to much of the produce. The total damage to greenhouses and crops has been estimated at $5 million.
Since many growers have had to borrow money to cover these losses, the federal and provincial governments have worked out a program to help cover the interest costs on such loans over a two-year period. The program will be administered by my ministry and the financial assistance to producers will he shared equally between the federal and provincial treasuries.
Ontario growers who borrow $1,000 or more in 1978 to cover uninsurable losses resulting from storm damage during the winter of 1977-78 suffered before January 28, will be eligible for rebate of part of the interest paid on the loans. Basically, growers with glass or fibreglass structures will be eligible for assistance on loans for 25 per cent of the value of the crop losses; assistance will be available on loans of up to 75 per cent of the crop losses under plastic structures.
This represents the uninsurable portion of greenhouse grower losses. About 25 per cent of the crop value in greenhouses is related to harvesting and marketing costs and these costs were not incurred on the damaged crops. Crops grown under glass or fibreglass may be insured for up to 50 per cent of their value, so only 25 per cent of the losses will be considered uninsurable. Crops grown under plastic are not insurable, therefore assistance will be available on loans up to 75 per cent of the losses for these crops.
During the first 12-month period, the joint program will reimburse farmers for the full interest payments they make on the eligible borrowings, up to a maximum of the chartered bank prime rate plus two per cent. In the second year of the loan, the maximum interest that can be rebated to growers will be six per cent less than the chartered bank prime rate plus two per cent.
For further information about this program, farmers should contact the rural development branch of my ministry here in Ontario or the local agricultural offices.
SHOP CANADIAN PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It is my pleasure to inform members of the Legislature of the launching today of a national Shop Canadian -- Made in Canada campaign in which Ontario is pleased to participate.
My federal colleague, the Honourable Jack Horner, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, is today announcing the Canadian government’s national consumer program, which will be complemented by various programs designed by the individual provinces.
At the first ministers’ conference earlier this year, the Premier (Mr. Davis) outlined the need for such a program to promote the purchase of Canadian-made goods by governments, by industry and by individual citizens. The proposal he presented at that time was accepted by the Premiers of all provinces. I then directed my ministry to design a comprehensive program to encourage Ontarians to shop for Canadian-made goods when prices and quality are competitive.
Ontario’s major efforts within the federal program will be aimed at: 1. industry; 2. government purchasing; 3. distributors and retailers; 4. consumers.
The first part of this campaign will include intensifying communications with industry to discover items now imported and to encourage industry to manufacture such products in Canada.
In the past, my ministry has held several Manufacturing Opportunities Days shows offering imported items which could be manufactured here. Under this new campaign, we are contemplating a number of Manufacturing Opportunities shows in various areas of the province in an effort to stimulate local industries and produce a subsequent increase in employment.
A ministry program operated in conjunction with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada will be greatly expanded and intensified. This program identifies specific manufacturing opportunities for Canadian manufacturers.
Regarding government purchasing, my ministry is planning a Government Purchasing Opportunities Day. This show will allow Canadian manufacturers to examine products purchased by government but presently not made in this country. It will also provide an opportunity for businessmen to make direct contact with government purchasing personnel.
In addition, we will be endeavouring to involve all levels of government, federal, provincial, municipal, school boards, hospitals and other government agencies in the Shop Canadian campaign. Details of this aspect will be provided when I meet with the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee on May 26.
Mr. Cassidy: It looks as though the minister has been reading some of our speeches.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The third phase of the Shop Canadian campaign involves distributors and retailers. The Retail Council of Canada has declared its support of the campaign.
Finally, through co-operation with the federal government, we will be co-operating in a consumer awareness program, the details of which are being announced in Ottawa today. This part of the campaign will emphasize the economic advantages to be gained from greater consumer attention being given to Shop Canadian.
I should like to add that the logo for this campaign is a bright red maple leaf, and that its design, as well as the slogan, were prepared through my ministry. The logo and the slogan have been adopted by the federal government for its national campaign and have been agreed to by all provinces.
Mr. Nixon: It’s better than the rhinoceros that the government used in 1967.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I trust this Shop Canadian -- Made in Canada, campaign will heighten the awareness of all Canadians of the necessity to give greater consideration to supporting the goods and services produced in Canada.
Mr. Nixon: The government can’t do this again.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Further details of Ontario’s efforts to develop the campaign will be announced as soon as I have approval from my cabinet colleagues.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the minister a question for clarification?
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member can do that during question period. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. Martel: What is this, a filibuster? Beer in the ball park?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, no, it’s not that.
Mr. Nixon: The minister is going to have it for this weekend. The Yankees are here.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, the Yankees will be enough for this weekend.
BUILDING CODE AMENDMENTS
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, later today I’ll be introducing for first reading an act to amend the Building Code Act.
Mr. Foulds: Not by you?
An hon. member: Are you building the stadium?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The amendments, based on over two years’ experience with the act, are primarily to clarify some of its provisions and to provide for easier and more practical administration.
The amendments are in response to requests from the municipalities, which are responsible for enforcing the act. They were drafted only after extensive consultation, not only with the municipalities but also with the associations active in building design and construction.
In addition to clarifying some definitions and tightening the requirements respecting changes in the plans for which a permit has been issued, the amendments:
1. Extend the time for which charges for contravention of the act may be laid from six months to one year.
2. Clarify that a municipal chief official may refuse to issue a building permit where the builder of a residence is not registered under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.
3. Provide that fines levied on conviction for offences against the act are to be paid to the municipality rather than to the Treasurer of Ontario.
4. Provide authority for building officials to specify in advance of construction the parts of a building not be covered up or enclosed prior to inspection. Where such an order has been contravened an amendment provides authority to uncover the construction at the expense of the individual or company responsible.
These changes, as well as a few housekeeping provisions, are necessary in order to assist the effective enforcement of the building code throughout the province. They will ensure that building officials, manufacturers, designers -- in fact all those involved in the building industry -- clearly understand the provisions so amended.
As I said at the outset, the amendments have been developed with the advice and co-operation of architects, professional engineers, builders, manufacturers and building officials. We look forward to their continued co-operation in matters pertaining to the design and construction of buildings.
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I see the Minister of Agriculture and Food resuming his seat. I appreciate that, because I have a question I want to direct to him following his statement on the practice of the two per cent kickback that we have been discussing in the House now for some time.
When he was consulting with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), asking for the opinions of the law officers of the crown pertaining to this matter, was he aware that the Attorney General was going to look into only the Criminal Code, the Combines Investigation Act and one provincial statute, the Farm Products Marketing Act, when in fact it is the Farm Products Grades and Sales Act which has regulations which state that moneys owing to producers must be paid promptly. That is surely the basis for the feeling they should be paid in total and completely.
Since the Attorney General has not dealt with that matter, does the minister still feel there is nothing he can do, not only to stop the practice but to see that those farmers who have paid the two per cent over an unknown period of time get a rebate from the companies that have squeezed it out of them?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I guess maybe the acting leader of the official opposition didn’t hear me the other day when I said there are only three producers and the two major chains that dealt directly with them. In every other case they dealt through a broker or a dealer.
As I have already pointed out in my statement today, in transactions involving those marketing boards with price-setting powers -- which are most of them -- anybody who contravenes the prices, either negotiated or the prices set or the formula for price-settings, anybody who contravenes rules on the portion that’s paid to the primary producers, to the farmers, anybody who contravenes that, is subject to a course of action through the local marketing board. Failing that, action can be taken through an appeal to the Farm Products Marketing Board to deal with just that. To our knowledge there are only three producers who dealt directly, two with one of the chains and one with another one.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: When the minister says that there are only two retail outlets, is he talking about Loblaws and Dominion? -- because that’s really many hundreds when it comes to actual retail outlets.
Would the minister not agree that it is difficult to fathom what the policy of the government is when the minister says, “discounting is a normal business practice,” and yet the food council in their trade practice activities bulletin, put out by Mr. Huff, their vice chairman, states clearly that asking suppliers to finance a retail marketing program is considered a detrimental and unfair trade practice? Would the minister not consider that since the Attorney General can find nothing illegal in this, still it is incumbent upon him, through the food council and through the regulations that are supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, to see that the primary producers get their money back?
While I am on my feet, what is the minister going to do about the food council, which has so seriously inadequately informed him on this matter over these many weeks?
An hon. member: Nothing.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is aware that, I believe it is this evening, my estimates are on. I understand that agreement was reached today among the various leaders that we will be discussing this matter and having a full and proper discussion in the estimates on the total situation, I assume starting next Wednesday morning. All the appropriate people will be brought forward and can be sworn under oath to deal with these particular matters.
Mr. Cassidy: Also in relation to the minister’s statement, Mr. Speaker; now that the minister has agreed with Mr. Peter Hannam, the president of the Federation of Agriculture, that volume discounts, co-operative advertising and what he calls merchandising packages where people have to pay to get shelf space in supermarkets, are widely known practices which occur in practically every aspect of commercial dealings -- and that includes the food industry -- why will the ministry not take action in order to investigate what the effect of those practices is on the consumers of food in the supermarkets of Ontario? Why will he not recognize that where processors are dealing with only two or three large buyers, that is the supermarket chains, they cannot simply refuse to do business and are therefore going to be treated in a way which will ultimately affect food prices to the consumer?
Hon. W. Newman: My only answer to the member’s question is that my primary concern is to make sure that the producer, the farmer, gets paid.
Mr. McClellan: You couldn’t care less about the consumers.
Hon. W. Newman: I say that as far as the consumers of this province or of this country are concerned, they pay less of their disposable income for food than in any other country in the world.
Mr. Martel: That is not the question.
Mr. Makarchuk: That doesn’t justify robbery.
Mr. Martel: Does that justify the rip-off?
Hon. W. Newman: Let’s not forget that the consumers are getting a fair price too.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: I have read the Attorney General’s statement this afternoon. I would like to ask the minister, since he has been questioned about this matter now for some time, and in view of the fact that the Attorney General says that the federal combines act is not his responsibility and since he lacks the necessary evidence to know whether there has been a breach of that act, has the minister, who has said he is concerned about this whole matter, referred it under the federal combines act, to the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Ottawa?
Hon. W. Newman: We have talked about passing all of these matters on to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Ottawa under the Combines Investigation Act. We have not as yet done so because we have had no specifics put before us.
Mr. Roy: Refer this whole matter.
Mr. Renwick: My supplementary question is to the minister. Since the opinion of the Attorney General is only as good as the facts on which it was based, and as it appears to indicate that the only facts he had were the facts the minister provided him with: what are those facts that were given to the Attorney General; was there a written statement of those facts; and will the minister tell the House what those facts were on the basis of which the Attorney General gave this rather incomplete and indecisive opinion to the House?
Hon. W. Newman: I must say I feel the Attorney General of the province of Ontario gave a very clear and concise statement in this House.
Mr. Foulds: Yes, but you didn’t give him all the information.
Mr. Peterson: Is that your legal opinion?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just because the member for Riverdale is used to lengthy legal opinions --
Mr. Conway: Which law school?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. W. Newman: I can assure the member that the legal branch lawyers who were seconded to my ministry from the Attorney General’s ministry were in consultation with his people on the whole matter.
Mr. Renwick: What were the facts the minister gave him?
LIQUOR AND WINE PRICING
Mr. Nixon: I would like to direct a question to the minister in charge of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is not fair.
Mr. Nixon: Is he not in charge?
Hon. Mr. Davis: He answers for them.
Mr. Nixon: I would like to direct a question to the minister who answers for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s better.
Mr. Nixon: I would like to ask him to answer for a practice that is evidently going on, where stock on which the price is going to be raised next Tuesday is being left in the stockroom, while those fancy little signs that say “temporarily out of stock” are being put in their place until the price goes up. Is the minister going to permit this to go on, with all of the hardship that this is bound to work on the populace? Further, is he going to permit the LCBO to double ticket that stock, which was bought and paid for under certain circumstances but which is going to be raised as much as 100 per cent in its price, simply as a profit mechanism for the board for which the minister reports?
Mr. Roy: Yes; and it’s misleading.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think there are several questions contained in there. I will try to remember all of them.
Mr. Nixon: Two.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think three.
Mr. Peterson: To you, two is several.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Firstly, I know the member will not be surprised to learn that I have not been involved in the decision as to whether to remove things from the shelf or to double ticket or otherwise.
Mr. Breithaupt: You haven’t got a “who” card; that’s why.
Mr. Bradley: It’s your responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is the day-to-day managing policy of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I do not direct them what to do or how to market.
Wearing my consumer minister’s hat, I can inform the House that if certain items are being held back and listed as temporarily out of stock in order to artificially increase revenues, then I will certainly take that matter up with the liquor control board and suggest very strongly that that is not a fair practice.
Secondly, with regard to double ticketing, I think we should point out that, as I recall -- I don’t have the figures with me -- on the last go-round of price increases -- and you’ll recall that wasn’t all that long ago --
Mr. Nixon: A few weeks ago.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- there were some questions raised with regard to double ticketing. The LCBO, not being in the business of changing prices on a regular basis -- I should say often -- as are, for example --
Mr. Foulds: Three times in the last few months.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- dare I say it, food stores and supermarkets, don’t ordinarily have a staff on hand to adjust prices.
As I recall, after asking the question last time around, the liquor board told me that it would cost something like $40,000 or $50,000 to put staff on overtime in order to take each ticket off and put another ticket on in order to avoid double ticketing.
What I believe they are doing in order to save those $50,000 is to carefully -- I hope carefully -- put the second new price on top of the earlier ticket so that there are not two prices on the bottle.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Buy them all glasses.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I also say, that any consumer who finds two different prices on a bottle -- that is if the second --
Mr. M. N. Davison: You sound like a Dominion store advertisement.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- ticket hasn’t gone carefully on top of the first one -- should insist on paying the lower price shown on that bottle.
An hon. member: They shouldn’t be putting another price on.
Mr. Nixon: I think we’ve got a great breakthrough here.
Mr. Speaker: I think the price has gone up just since the minister started to answer the question.
Mr. Nixon: I think you’re right, Mr. Speaker. I get your meaning. Let me put it this way: Who is responsible for the pricing? Is it not a decision taken by the ministry, even the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), as far as the business is concerned; and is the minister prepared to say that while he considers it immoral and illegal for ordinary retail outlets to double ticket, it’s okay for the LCBO because they’re really too hard pressed and work too hard to do this? Is that the justification?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No. May I say that where supermarkets double ticket they are not breaking the law. What the consumer can do in a supermarket -- exactly as in the LCBO store -- is insist upon paying the lower price. The double ticketing, as I understand it, is not illegal anywhere.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Immoral perhaps.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: With regard to the member’s first supplementary question, the answer is that the pricing policies of the LCBO are not my responsibility. They are purely the responsibility of the Treasurer, with regard to the fund raising aspect of that -- that is, the markup; and it is the responsibility of the LCBO to market their products in an efficient manner -- that is not to waste money where they can save some money.
The markup is there. It projects a certain amount of revenues at the end of the year for the province of Ontario, and then it’s up to the LCBO to manage those items in order to produce the return efficiently.
What’s happening, as you know -- and I don’t want to purport to explain it or answer it because it’s not my job -- is that the LCBO has made a marketing decision as to how to protect the net profits, as any ordinary retailer would.
Mr. Breithaupt: In the absence of competition.
Mr. M. N. Davison: In view of the fact that the member speaking previously has raised a very serious charge that certain stock is being kept off the shelves in the LCBO outlets, will the minister undertake to investigate that practice to see if he can confirm whether it’s true; and if he does find it’s true will he take some action in that matter?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: While I’ve been on my feet answering the last question, I’ve been handed a note from my staff saying there is no withholding of stock. The information I’ve been provided is that there is no withholding. As I’ve made clear --
Mr. Deans: How do they know?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- if there is withholding, as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations I will, as always protect the consumers of this province --
Mr. Warner: Whose word is that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and see that it is stopped. I will report back.
Mr. Warner: So that is the end of it?
Mr. M. N. Davison: Yes, we want an immediate investigation.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In order not to have left a mistaken impression with the House, I wonder if I might clarify something I said in answer to a question earlier. I know I left the impression that double ticketing was not illegal. Double ticketing is not illegal under any provincial legislation. it is illegal, I’m informed, under the combines act of the federal government. The legislation is not applicable to the LCBO, but I am informed that the LCBO will, as I stated, honour a lower price on a bottle. I believe there will be no double ticketing this time.
Mr. Nixon: Why don’t they sell at the old price?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I didn’t want to leave that impression.
Mr. Speaker: Before I recognize the member for Ottawa Centre with his first question, I would like to call to the attention of the members that we have two elected people from other parliaments in our gallery.
Under the Speaker’s gallery, we have Mr. Vasilios Kedikoglou -- and I apologize if I have mispronounced that. He is a member of the parliament of Greece.
Also, up in the Speaker’s gallery, we have a member of the legislative assembly for the province of Nova Scotia -- I think he’s in opposition, I spoke briefly with him just before the House -- would you welcome Mr. Bruce Cochran.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, it’s a pleasure for me to note that Mr. Kedikoglou is a socialist member of the parliament of Greece.
Mr. Bradley: He wouldn’t be, in Ontario.
PROVINCIAL TAXING POWERS
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. In view of the fact that the position of the government of Quebec in resisting the invasion of its tax powers by the federal government has been supported now by all political parties, both federalist as well as separatist, in that province; has been supported by a number of the western Premiers and has been supported by the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party; will the Premier, on behalf of this province, dissociate the government of Ontario from the federal government’s attempt in its current dispute with Quebec to invade the taxing power of that province?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member is saying his party is disagreeing with it, I think that’s a matter for the honourable member to state; that’s fine.
An hon. member: No, it was a question.
Mr. Laughren: What’s your position?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If he is asking me as head of the government of Ontario if I’m going to intervene in the current dialogue going on between the government at Ottawa and the government of Quebec, the answer to that is no.
Mr. Swart: He didn’t ask you that.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The Premier has said he will not intervene. Will the Premier say whether he agrees with his federal leader, who has tried to get the federal government to acknowledge that it is invading those tax powers and who has supported the positions that have been taken by all the political parties in Quebec, or does the Premier repudiate the position taken by his federal leader and say that he simply sees no invasion of provincial taxing powers at all?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No. Neither.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the very simple answer to that double-barrelled question is neither.
Mr. Conway: Joe Cark has a position?
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the Premier comment on the statement made by Mr. Parizeau in the National Assembly that the federal budget decision was simply taken to get Ontario off a budgetary hook? I had thought perhaps that this government helped Ottawa frequently but I didn’t know that Ottawa helped this government. Perhaps that should be made clear.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: You heard his answer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the latter part of the honourable member’s observation, which was really not a question, is quite accurate. I have never sensed the government of Canada getting us off the hook for anything. I don’t want to be provocative in this House --
Mr. Peterson: You need more help than they can provide.
Mr. Bradley: They’ve bailed you out.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I expect to be meeting with the Premier of Quebec next Tuesday. I am approaching those discussions in a very positive and constructive frame of mind. I don’t want to say anything today that would in any way inhibit those discussions, except to make the casual observation as to Mr. Parizeau’s impression, that, without being privy to the conversations that took place, I would regard what he said as being really illogical, nonsensical and, from my standpoint, less than accurate.
Mr. Conway: Not having been there --
Mr. Bradley: That’s very definitive, coming from the Premier.
Mr. Roy: We will send a copy of Hansard to him.
Mr. Foulds: That certainly is provocative.
Mr. Conway: Is Darcy coming back?
Mr. Breithaupt: After the last loan he --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Premier has said that he has no position, or that he is sitting on the fence, as to whether or not an invasion of provincial taxing powers has taken place, will he give the House an understanding to make initiatives in the near future, and at the forthcoming November conference of first ministers, to ensure that no such damaging confrontations take place in the future which could affect this province if we found there were intrusions of taxing power by the federal government in a way that the Quebec government is now feeling offended?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, we demonstrated our desire to keep the federal government out of tax fields that we thought were ordinarily those of the provinces, and we didn’t receive the total support of some other provincial jurisdictions. I’m not even sure we received the support of the members opposite on the 10-cent excise tax on gasoline, if my memory serves me correctly. That, I think, demonstrated very conclusively that we have no hesitation --
Mr. Nixon: Nobody here voted for that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the leader of the New Democratic Party is asking “Will this Premier make sure that there is no confrontation with Ottawa and that they will not encroach upon tax fields that are ours?” the answer to that is very simply yes.
Ms. Gigantes: Show some statesmanship.
Mr. Cassidy: But you won’t do it for Quebec.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not the Premier of Quebec.
HURONIA REGIONAL CENTRE
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question I would like to put to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Can the minister comment on the arbitration board hearing in the case of Mr. Johnston at Huronia Regional Centre and the rather unusual practices which were revealed to be taking place in that institution and have been reported in the arbitration findings?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would first of all like to say that I’m very pleased this is now a matter of public information. It is obviously an issue which I would have liked to have discussed publicly long before this, but because of certain criminal proceedings which were under way at one point I was unable to. I am still substantially restricted in terms of the comments I can make, because, as may be unknown to other members of the House, there may yet be as many as four actions arising out of the matter, two of a criminal or quasi-criminal nature and two of a civil nature. Therefore, although I believe only one of those has been instituted at the present time, I do have reason to believe that others are being considered by parties who are involved.
I would like to assure the members of the House of this: I believe this situation involves one of the most fundamental issues we have to face as those charged by the people of this province with the responsibility of caring for the children, the handicapped and the disabled. I want to assure members of one other thing: I will not sacrifice that principle. I feel that at this point I ought not to make any further comments in detail until the ensuing actions are sorted out.
Ms. Gigantes: What actions?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: If the minister is not prepared to make comments in detail, I would like to ask him to make comments in general on the use of the punishment position, in which a 29-year-old woman was made to kneel on the floor in public, in full view both of staff and other retarded people in the Huronia institution. I would like to ask the minister whether that is an approved method of management in that particular institution; whether that is used as a means of actually encouraging patients to develop acceptable standards of behaviour; and what other bizarre practices are being tolerated in our institutions for the retarded, such as the use of that punishment position on adult women.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I had hoped that this issue might not become one that the honourable member opposite would like to make into an apparently partisan effort. I think we share --
Mr. Nixon: That’s not fair.
Mr. Martel: He didn’t make it partisan.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Shame, Michael.
Mr. MacDonald: You said we have a joint responsibility.
Mr. McClellan: This has been raised before.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can assure the members of this House that the feeling which was present in the question that the honourable member asked is one that I share fully. I can assure him that to the best of my knowledge the use of that particular form of treatment of that woman --
Mr. di Santo: Punishment.
Mr. Grande: Treatment?
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- was an isolated incident. I can assure members that as soon as it came to my attention a directive went out, not only to that facility, but to all of our facilities, directing that under no circumstances were such methods to be employed.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: In his answer to the original question, the minister indicated he felt he should say nothing more about it at this time. Does he mean that he is not going to take any further steps to inquire into the matter? Is there a possibility that a reversal of the arbitration board should be considered?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t wish to imply at all that there was nothing further being done. In fact, there are a number of things being done that cause me to be somewhat hesitant. I am currently awaiting a further legal opinion from expert counsel outside the government, as a matter of fact. That is not intended to be any reflection on the --
Mr. Nixon: But it is, it is.
Mr. Peterson: As soon as the minister said expert opinion we knew it was outside the government.
Hon. Mr. Norton: As I indicated, in addition to the issue of seeking a judicial review of the decision of the grievance settlement hoard, there are at least three other possible actions that I am aware of. Not all of these are contemplated by me, some by other parties. As indicated in the news report, the employee and the union have indicated, although we have not been formally served with documents at this point, that it is their intention to pursue the matter to the Supreme Court. That is one of the matters. I don’t wish to discuss the other two at this point. One of the remaining is quasi-criminal and the other is civil.
Mr. Wildman: I want to return to the question of the degrading and humiliating punishment in this incident, which the minister strangely referred to as “treatment” and which has been brought up during the last two estimate debates. I want to ask the minister, how is it possible that this kind of punishment can be applied to a patient at Huronia in September 1977? Was there no reference to a multi-disciplinary team in the application of this punishment? How often does this happen in schedule one facilities? And will he table his current guidelines on the use of aversion therapy for this House?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I want to explain to the honourable member that when I used the word “treatment” I did not use it in the narrow sense but in the broader sense, as an individual’s relationship in treating another person but not in the special therapeutic sense. I can assure the member I was very disturbed when I heard about that. That was one of the things that gave rise to the decision that has led to the whole of the process now under way -- originally the dismissal of the employee and now a combination of things.
With respect to whether or not it was in compliance with the guidelines, it is my opinion that it was not. We will be starting our estimates shortly and I will certainly be prepared to table the guidelines and discuss them with members very fully at that point.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has raised a question about the payment of benefits under section 41 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act to injured workers who have been laid off by International Nickel Company in Sudbury.
These layoffs at Inco are of a general nature and not confined to the injured workers who have been employed at light duties in that area. In the case of those workers who are in receipt of a temporary partial disability benefit while on light duties and who have been affected by the general layoffs, section 41(1)(b) of the act may apply. In such cases, payment of supplementary benefits would be considered, provided medical evidence supplied to the board confirms the disability is of a continuing nature. Such decisions would be made by the board’s claims service division.
In these cases where there is continuing entitlement under the act, the injured worker would also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation from the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s not available either.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, if any honourable member has particular details of any injured workman who may be experiencing difficulty in this regard, I should be pleased to receive those details from those members and I shall investigate the claims with the chairman of the board.
Mr. di Santo: Hundreds, we have hundreds.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) has asked for details concerning the relocation and retraining of Canadian Johns-Manville workers who as a result of suffering from asbestosis are eligible to enter the Workmen’s Compensation Board Special rehabilitation assistance program.
Workmen’s Compensation Board records indicate that of the 80 Johns-Manville workers interviewed to date, 24 have elected to enter the program, 40 have declined and 16 are still undecided.
Reference was also made to a worker with a 40 per cent disability who it was said was not allowed to enter the program. While it is difficult to identify one particular individual from such a general description, officials of the board believe they have been able to do so from their records.
Considerable time has been spent by the board on the case of this worker, not only because of his pension rating but because of other pertinent factors, including his age, the present location of his work and current risk factors. The board submitted a proposal to this worker on February 23, 1978, but to this date the worker has not made a definite decision. I have been assured that in the meantime the man is employed in the plant but not in a hazardous area of the plant. However, in view of the worker’s concern, the situation is even now under review again and the worker’s representative is fully aware of this review.
In a supplementary question, the honourable member asked me to investigate why only two workers of 17 eligible had been offered vocational retraining. Of these 17 men interviewed by the Workmen’s Compensation Board in October, 1977, two required upgrading and skill development to compete on the external labour market. Of the remaining 15, four have elected to relocate to other employment. The other 11 workers possess secondary skills and felt they could manage their own affairs provided they were given some financial help during the transition period between jobs. This financial assistance has been provided by the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
When these questions were raised I said that I considered the WCB rehabilitation program for asbestos workers to be a leader in such activities in this world; but with the very best of intentions the board cannot help a person who does not want help, nor can the board force workers to participate in these programs if they do not desire to do so.
Mr. Foulds: The board might be more encouraging.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would point out, however, that the programs are in place, the facilities are there and the board will continue to assist eligible workers to participate in them.
The member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) commented on the foregoing questions and implied that a member of the medical staff of the Workmen’s Compensation Board had discouraged eligible workers from taking part in this rehabilitation program. I wish to state that the approach used in vocational rehabilitation, and the approach used by Dr. Stewart -- the board’s consultant in chest diseases -- has been to recommend consistently that injured workers be admitted to the program when it is to their benefit to do so. Dr. Stewart has a very special responsibility to evaluate each case individually to ensure that each worker who is eligible can participate fully in the special program.
This is done in order to ensure that the individual worker’s benefit and well being are both realized. I must emphasize that the honourable member’s allegation concerning Dr. Stewart is based upon remarks which have been taken out of context from a very complex data document and obviously have been completely misunderstood.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the Minister of Labour indicate to us whether or not a worker who has dust effects in the lungs and, because of that, of his own volition determines to seek other employment, is eligible under the code 4 arrangement for rehabilitation services from the compensation board?
Hon. B. Stephenson: If the worker does meet the criteria which have been established by the Workmen’s Compensation Board then he would be eligible. Specifically, just dust effects may not be sufficient.
Mr. Laughren: Further supplementary, if I might, Mr. Speaker:
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Laughren: Final -- thank you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Final final.
Mr. Laughren: Would the minister explain then how it is that she would state explicitly that my allegations were out of context when the remarks by Dr. Stewart in the file, which I personally examined, said most explicitly that workers who removed themselves from the work place because of dust effects, without the requirement being imposed upon them by the compensation board or their doctor, should be discouraged from applying in the code 4 program because it would pose too much of a burden and too much of a cost upon the Workmen’s Compensation Board of Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I think it is perfectly reasonable that the other criteria must be met in order to comply with the rules that have been established for this program. If all of those criteria cannot be met then, of course, the individual would have to be continued to be surveyed in order to ensure that as soon as the criteria were met he could be transferred to the program.
Mr. Gaunt: I have a question of the Attorney General. Would the Attorney General investigate correspondence circulating in my riding which appears to be a deliberate attempt to sow racial prejudice against the designated group in our society under the guise of providing hospitality? Would he also determine if there has been any breach of the Criminal Code, particularly section 281.2(2)?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member passed me over a copy of this correspondence that apparently has been circulated in his riding. I can describe it best as sick; certainly the product of, I think, sort of lunatic thinking in trying to create this sort of racial animosity. It’s questionable, quite frankly, whether it amounts to a breach of the Criminal Code. The difficulty with respect to the dissemination of this type of material is that no one has been able to identify the people who are responsible for it.
Ms. Gigantes: After all these years?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There have been some efforts made to do that. It is arguable whether or not this technically falls within the hate provisions of the Criminal Code, although there can be no question that the people who are responsible for this type of material are clearly motivated by hatred.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: I had occasion to see the letter as well and I would just like to ask the Attorney General if he would undertake to at least investigate the matter in view of the fact that there is an attempt, as my colleague has said, to clearly spread hate against an identifiable group under the guise of hospitality, and there is also an attempt -- and I suppose it’s another breach of the code -- an attempt to mislead in the sense that the letter appears to come from Queen’s Park and from a ministry of the government when, in fact, my colleague is advised that it comes from an area in his riding, according to the postmark?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As I recall the letter, I think it purports to come from a ministry that is non-existent. I don’t think there is any ministry, either in the federal or provincial government, that is described. It is obviously intended to make the recipient believe it has come from a government ministry. At the very least it can be described as a very sick type of joke. Our problem has been to identify the source of that material. These letters have been circulating for some months in the community and we have been attempting to identify the source of these letters. To date, we have been unsuccessful, but our efforts will continue in that respect.
FALCONBRIDGE WORK SCHEDULES
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that Falconbridge has established a four-shift schedule with men working seven days and then having two days off with, ultimately, each crew having Thursday and Friday off? Is she aware that every Friday an entire crew, the smelter crew of 55 to 60 men, is forced to work their day off under threat of penalty? Would the minister investigate and order Falconbridge to desist in this threat to its employees who do not want to work overtime?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there is a collective agreement at Falconbridge which has been established between the trade union and the company. This would certainly be a matter to be discussed between the trade union and the company.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the question has been raised by the union, in view of the fact that Falconbridge has laid off 900 men, and in view of the fact that four Fridays of 60 men working overtime is equivalent to 15 fulltime jobs, would the minister not whisper to the Falconbridge Nickel company that it might use -- as the Premier said when he was in Sudbury at the 2001 conference -- some common sense and give 15 men fulltime jobs rather than force workers to work overtime on their day off under threat of penalty?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to investigate the matter.
Mr. Martel: Final supplementary. Has the minister given Falconbridge Nickel Mines permits for overtime? If so, will she cancel these permits and suggest to Falconbridge that it rehires some of the 900 men it has laid off?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that Falconbridge does have overtime permits. I shall look into it.
Mr. Laughren: Would the minister extract from Falconbridge Nickel Mines, in view of the remarkable layoffs in the last year by that company, its production and employment level plans for the next 12 months at least; and further, will she assure herself and this chamber that there is no relationship whatsoever between the present overtime program and the fact that it’s a contract year between the company and the union?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I shall try to find out that information. If I do, I shall report it to the House.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier: In view of the fact that the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. McKeough) is in Frankfurt, Germany, to borrow $125 million on behalf of Ontario Hydro --
Mr. Nixon: Just like old times.
Mr. Epp: -- and in view of the fact that only a few years ago the Ontario government borrowed $52 million from Germany, and because of the depreciation of our dollar and the appreciation of the deutschemark they had to pay back or owed $80 million, would the Premier explain to this House why Germany would be the source of borrowing funds when, in fact, there might be some other areas which might be more beneficial to the province?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’d be delighted to hear from the honourable member those areas which are more beneficial, with the possible exception of the money markets in the United States. I think there are problems in a number of money markets. I hope the honourable member isn’t necessarily suggesting Japan, where these same sorts of problems could be created.
Maybe he has sources for funding of this magnitude that we’re not aware of. If he has, he might let me know.
Mr. Conway: Try Alberta.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Alberta might be one.
Mr. Ruston: Lots of money there.
Mr. Epp: I have a supplementary. I wonder if the Premier would be prepared to table the documentation or the economic prospectus that the Treasurer is making available to the people in Germany and in London.
Mr. Nixon: That will be great reading.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know if the Treasurer is making available a prospectus. If he is, I’m sure he would be delighted to share it with the members, because it would prove rather conclusively those things he has been saying about the financial position of the province of Ontario --
Mr. Haggerty: Triple-A, yes.
Mr. Warner: Mortgaging the store.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- that it’s Triple-A, the best of any jurisdiction anywhere you can find. I’m sure he would have no hesitation. The only thing he would ask is that once the members get the prospectus, they would go back to their constituents and tell them just how well managed in a financial sense the affairs of the province of Ontario are,
Mr. Bradley: That’s better than helium.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member will put the prospectus in his top drawer and not show it to anyone.
Mr. J. Reed: In view of the fact that this kind of borrowing is so very, very expensive, and understanding that Ontario Hydro’s thermal generation system is now 49 per cent overbuilt and the margin of reserve is expanding every day; considering that last year the projections of Ontario Hydro’s expansion fell to 2.2 per cent and this year, so far, it has one per cent, and on a temperature-corrected basis is zero --
Mr. Speaker: What is the question?
An hon. member: We need a new minister.
Mr. J. Reed: -- why is the Treasurer borrowing that money at all?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I really don’t want to get into a discussion with the member for Halton-Burlington of what I think should be relatively simple. It may come as a great shock to him, but Ontario Hydro is in the process at this very moment of adding certain capital plant. The honourable member may say that not only should we be cancelling projects that are scheduled five years down the road --
Mr. T. P. Reid: No, no.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- that we should be cancelling Atikokan, but he should talk to his colleague before we make that decision. I would say to him with respect that Ontario Hydro does have the obligation of paying its bills, It has certain financial commitments to meet. There is still growth in this province, thank heavens, and this government probably have a little greater confidence in the growing economy of this province than the member for Halton-Burlington. Hydro will continue to pay its bills. It does need money to do it. It is in the marketplace to borrow that money which has to be paid during the current financial year.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Is it true that the money being borrowed is simply for the purpose of paying back money that is already owed? Secondly, was there any effort made by the Treasury to obtain sources of revenue in Canada, in order that we not be faced with the difficulty of paying the rate of exchange over which we have no control and which may well create a 10, 12 or 15 per cent excess debt over the period of the borrowing?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The honourable member is quite right in some respects, of course.
Whether it’s Ontario Hydro, the province of Ontario or the government of Canada, a certain amount of borrowing is always to pay those debts. There’s no question about that. I don’t know whether this is the case in this particular instance or not.
I think it’s also fair to say to the honourable member that Hydro, the government of Ontario and the government of Canada do borrow quite heavily within the capital markets of this country. I think the most recent Hydro issue was sold almost entirely here in Canada. I’m only going by memory, but that is certainly explored. Traditionally and for economic reasons, Ontario Hydro, the government of Canada and municipal governments, because of the concentration of capital in some areas of the world, have borrowed outside this country. I think the honourable member is aware of it.
Mr. Deans: It is a bad time to do it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It may not be that bad.
CHAIN STORE DISCOUNTS
Mr. Renwick: My question is to the Attorney General. I refer to his statement made back-to-back with his colleague’s, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, with respect to the two per cent food discounting kickback. Will the Attorney General advise us now what the facts were on the basis of which he qualified his opinion? Were they contained in a written statement of facts, and can he provide us with that statement?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t have a written statement of the facts with me. The facts are those that have been provided by the Minister of Agriculture and Food to senior law officers in my ministry.
I think it’s important to point out that we’re not stating -- and I think the statement makes that very clear -- or suggesting that we have the complete facts. Obviously, we’re inviting certain individuals in the community to bring forward any additional information. Our position is simply that on the basis of the facts that are known and have been discussed in this House, there is no breath of the statute to which I have referred.
Mr. Renwick: As a preface to a supplementary question, I assume that the next time the Attorney General appears in this House he might bring us the facts on the basis of which he gave the opinion. I take it that he, therefore, disagrees with the statement made by his colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, that the Attorney General has cleared up the legal aspects of the discounting practices by the two supermarket chains involved, because he hasn’t had an exhaustive and full investigation of the facts and practices on the basis of which he gave his opinion and which his colleague is trying to use to exonerate his ministry from any fault in this matter?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I don’t disagree at all with the Minister of Agriculture and Food. He has made known all relevant facts to our ministry and I’m certainly satisfied that he’s obtained all the facts to date that are practical for him to obtain at this time. The legal issues have been clarified, at least to that extent.
Mr. Roy: I have a supplementary on this to the Attorney General. In view of the fact that offences under the Combines Investigation Act are prosecuted by the federal prosecutor because they have more experience with that act and the prosecution of cases than the Attorney General has -- in fact, his ministry doesn’t have any experience at all --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Does the honourable member have some?
Mr. Roy: -- would he not think it wise to take those facts and return to the federal ministry prosecuting under that act to see whether there have been any briefs? Doesn’t he think that would be the wise and safe thing to do?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If there are any facts that are within the possession of either myself or the Minister of Agriculture and Food that we feel should be brought to the attention of the federal authorities, we will bring those facts to the attention of the federal authorities.
Mr. MacDonald: I have a supplementary of the Attorney General. I can understand that he may not have it with him today, but would he table and provide us as soon as possible with the facts upon which he did make his judgement because, I submit, they are very important for us in the consideration of the estimates which resume at 8 o’clock this evening?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m not going to undertake to table those before 8 o’clock this evening, but I will table them.
Mr. Warner: When?
Mr. Conway: As soon as possible?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As soon as reasonably possible. I’m not going to --
Mr. Warner: In the fullness of time.
Mr. MacDonald: If I drop around at the Attorney General’s office can I pick them up or not, so I might have them for tonight?. Why is the Attorney General stalling?
LEGAL AID PLAN
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I too have a question for the Attorney General.
Mr. Ruston: It is your day, Roy.
Mr. Roy: I would like to ask the Attorney General about a statement he made in this House on May 5 in relation to a dispute with the defence counsel association -- I think with Mr. Carter. In part of his statement, he said: “This concern, however, should not overshadow the continuing dedication and excellence of the majority of lawyers who participate in the legal aid plan.” He then went on to say at one point in his statement that he regrets that an element of confrontation and a larger degree of distortion have been introduced into the consideration of this important topic. Would the minister advise the House whether he agrees with one of his crown attorneys, a Mr. John Murphy, who was, apparently, reported in the Globe and Mail on May 9 to have said that legal aid was a licence to steal?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I read that report. I certainly don’t agree with those comments. At this point in time I don’t know whether or not those comments were actually made by Mr. Murphy. Certainly that was the headline. That was the interpretation of the comments and I certainly would dissociate myself entirely from those comments.
Mr. Roy: Can I ask a supplementary to the Attorney General? Might he advise his chief officer for the crown about the propriety of a crown attorney -- in fact, a public servant -- making that type of statement? Also, would the minister dissociate himself from a reported statement -- and I am again reading from the Globe and Mail -- in which Mr. Murphy says that people who end up in court are probably guilty of the offence they are charged with, that it is a rarity that an innocent person comes before the court? Would the minister, as Attorney General and chief officer for the crown, reiterate his faith in the principle that people who appear before our courts on a criminal charge are still presumed innocent?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, I have no hesitation in reiterating that principle and indicating, Mr. Speaker, that I support it completely.
SHOP CANADIAN PROGRAM
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism in relation to his statement today in the buy Canadian program which we on this side of the House welcome since our leader has been pressing for such a program over a year now.
An hon. member: Jumped on the bandwagon.
An hon. member: For a year and a half.
Mr. Wildman: Can the minister indicate if this program also includes the packaging industry in Ontario; and if it does, will he investigate the fact that paper packages used by McDonald’s of Canada for its french fries and hamburgers purchased in outlets in this area are apparently printed in the United States, especially as their slogan is “We do it all for you,” and they use a maple leaf emblem on their packages? If these are made in the United States, would he encourage that company to purchase packages made in this country?
Mr. Pope: Send them over.
An hon. member: It’s empty, Al.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I think if the honourable member reads that particular --
Mr. Breaugh: It’s round but narrow --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am sorry. Are you cackling again? Because one thing about it if you are, whatever you lay will be Canadian.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Maybe.
An hon. member: Withdraw it. Do you want to try that one again, John?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Don’t tempt me.
I think the member would recognize in reading the particular statement that we are saying “Shop Canadian,” that we don’t intend to force people to buy Canadian. I think that would be wrong. What we are doing is suggesting that where the quality and the price are the same, we want people to purchase products made in Canada.
Now, I will be quite happy if I can draw to the McDonald’s people’s attention that these products are made in Canada of comparable quality and certainly at a competitive price, so that perhaps the next time the member has a sumptuous dinner at McDonald’s, he can have it in a Canadian package.
Mr. Makarchuk: Point out that the package stays fresher than the contents.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Better not.
Mr. Foulds: Our pulp and paper industry is dependent on it.
An hon. member: At least you could have put a hamburger in it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I did want to make some comment on the first part of the member’s remarks about his leader having pressed for this for a year. I have been pressing for it only since January; I am much more effective than he is.
Mr. Martel: What have you achieved to date?
Mr. Wildman: I want to apologize for the fact that the packages were used, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Question?
Mr. Wildman: The question is could the minister, as well as looking at the question of packages, encourage the McDonald’s multinational chain and other chains like it to use not only packages made in Canada but also beef and potatoes produced in Canada?
Mr. Warner: John, why shouldn’t they have to? Why shouldn’t you ensure that?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Certainly I will encourage, as much as possible, the purchase of Canadian products and the use of Canadian products. I am pleased that the member has asked me to encourage and not to force, and I would certainly do that.
Mr. Makarchuk: We are tired of eating instant horsemeat.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The whole idea of this campaign is in fact to encourage people to buy Canadian products.
As far as the beef situation is concerned, an awful lot of that is as a result of the beef being allowed to come into the country in the first place from other jurisdictions.
Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if, in view of the question put, the minister would like to elaborate for the members of the House what he proposes to do about the shop within this building, next to the dining room, which, as he is very much aware, carries merchandise largely made in Japan and Thailand?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would like to tell the honourable member I am aware of her problem because we talked about it before this.
Mrs. Campbell: I know. We just talked about it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would say to the honourable member I will certainly bring it to the attention of the particular official of this House who is responsible for that shop. I will be discussing it with that honourable gentleman right after the session.
Mr. Eakins: I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism. While I commend the minister for his initial step to upgrade our image to visitors to our province, would it not be more appropriate, first of all, to improve the image of his ministry with the people in the tourist industry? They are particularly concerned with the question of overregulation. Since 14 other ministries are involved in decisions affecting tourism, what direct step is the minister taking to coordinate this overregulation?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Trying to keep you people from making it worse.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think first of all the honourable member is being a bit facetious.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Whistling Dixie.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think he well knows that the image of the ministry with the industry is excellent, and there is excellent cooperation.
Mr. Conway: Not even in Moonbeam.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The ministry itself is looked upon as being very co-operative with the industry. I just wanted to straighten that out.
I also have to agree with the honourable member that I am one who believes there are a great many regulations that could be done away with. I have already made a submission to my colleagues and we are in the process of discussing a way in which we can deregulate and make life a little easier for those people who are trying to work in the hospitality industry.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary: In order to create a better liaison with the people in the industry, will the minister give immediate attention to reinstituting a legislative committee, along the lines of the tourism and natural resources committee that last met in 1970?
Mr. Conway: Put Lorne in.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I will take that under advisement. I am not familiar with that particular committee.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That was before your time.
Mr. Nixon: Lorne will fix it up.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would like to find out what it did and what it was doing. I would like to look at that, and if it can be of some help, I can use all the help I can get.
Mr. Conway: Those were the days when you were a Liberal.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What are you?
HONOUR FOR FORMER MEMBER
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities: Is the minister aware that a former member of this House, Mr. Robert Carlin, who represented Sudbury from 1943 to 1948, will shortly be receiving public recognition when Laurentian University bestows an honorary degree upon him; and is the minister also aware that the same Mr. Carlin presented bills in this House in 1945 and 1946 to establish a university in the city of Sudbury?
To further recognize this man’s contribution to the development of the university in Sudbury, would the minister consider amending the Laurentian University Act to provide that one of the colleges on the campuses be renamed Robert Carlin College?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: We were aware this fine gentleman was to receive an honorary degree, although I appreciate the member bringing some of the other details to the attention of the House. I wasn’t aware of that particular part of the history of Laurentian.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What party was he?
Mr. Rotenberg: Was he a good Tory?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: As for renaming a college, I will be glad to pass along that particular suggestion to the president, Dr. Best, and get his reaction. I suspect the member knows, as I know, that it would be a decision the board of governors would make in Sudbury.
Mr. Martel: You could whisper to Henry, though.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just whisper.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of the Environment: Now that the Environmental Assessment Board of Ontario has recommended against the proposal for garbage dumps in Maple, will the minister accept and act on those recommendations and abandon any policy which would be committed to landfill sites in that area?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I missed the last part of the question. The answer to the first part is no. I’ll tell the member why. It’s the director of environmental approval who makes the decision whether or not to accept the assessment board’s recommendations and that hasn’t been done yet.
Mr. Stong: In the light of the fact that the anomaly in our law, especially the Environmental Assessment Act, section 78, would allow the applicant to appeal any decisions but not the opponent, would you consider amending that section of the Environmental Assessment Act to allow equal and fair treatment to both sides of each issue?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Yes, I am familiar with the problem the honourable member mentions. I think it’s a matter we’ll want to address at some point. I would caution the member not to get excited about that at the present time until he sees what the director of environmental approvals says.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Gaunt from the standing social development committee reported the following resolution:
Resolved, that supply, in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Education, be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979:
Ministry administration program......$ 23,570,000
Services to education program.........162,918,000
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee has carefully examined the following applications for private acts and finds the notices as published in each case sufficient:
City of Toronto;
Royal Trust Company.
STANDING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Havrot from the standing resources development committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bill with a certain amendment:
Bill 48, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies.
Ordered for third reading.
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved that on Tuesday, May 23, the House will rise for the dinner interval at 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ONTARIO STUDENT HOUSING CORPORATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved first reading of Bill 90, An Act respecting the Ontario Student Housing Corporation.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the Act respecting the Ontario Student Housing Corporation is a piece of housekeeping legislation which transfers the rights and obligations of OSHC to the Ontario Housing Corporation effective June 30 of this year. As part of the government’s efforts to reduce the number of crown agencies, it was determined that the functions of the Ontario Student Housing Corporation can adequately be handled under OHC.
The student housing corporation was established by order in council in August 1966, pursuant to the Housing Development Act, for the purpose of developing and managing student housing at the request of post-secondary educational institutions. The units produced were 9,500 beds for single students and 2,700 units for married students. There are no employees assigned specifically to OSHC and therefore the transfer of duties and responsibilities to OHC will not result in any layoffs or termination of staff.
BUILDING CODE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 91, An Act to amend the Building Code Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
NON-UNIONIZED WORKERS PROTECTION ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 92, An Act respecting the Rights of Non-unionized Workers.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to provide a low-cost mechanism whereby a non-unionized worker may obtain a review by the Ontario Labour Relations Board where the worker is discharged or otherwise disciplined for cause and the contract of employment is silent on the matters of discipline. At the present time a non-unionized worker who is dismissed or otherwise disciplined for cause may have no right of action against his employer, notwithstanding the fact that the discipline is, having regard to all the circumstances, unduly harsh.
The bill provides a two-stage process for reviewing complaints involving harsh discipline. Initially a labour relations officer would be appointed to effect a settlement which would be reduced to writing and which would have to be complied with according to its terms. Then if no settlement is reached or where settlement is not likely, the Ontario Labour Relations Board would inquire into the matter. The board, if satisfied that the complaint is justified, will have the power to make an order substituting such penalty as just and reasonable in the circumstances.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Speaker: Before the orders of the day, I would like to draw the attention of the honourable members to a slip of paper that was circulated and put in the members’ desks or offices indicating what the order of business was for today. This is courtesy of the Clerk and our table officers. It facilitates and assists members in having a quick and easy reference. I want to impress upon the honourable members that it does not supersede or take the place of the order paper; it is circulated just merely to assist members and for an easy and quick reference.
Mr. Foulds: Excellent idea.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, if I may make a suggestion concerning the order paper as it is here today. I know that someone else would probably have made this suggestion at some time in the future, but I think it should go chronologically, according to the hour of the day. In other words, what is printed on the back side as taking place in the morning should come first, and then we would know the timetable for everything coming on in the House.
An hon. member: Good idea.
ANSWER TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, perhaps I might table the response to a petition presented to the Legislature, sessional paper 92, together with the answers to questions 30, 49 and 50 standing on the notice paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS
LAND USE REGISTRATION
Mr. Sterling moved private member’s motion 15:
Resolution: That in the opinion of this House the government should give immediate consideration to legislation requiring the registration of a notice of land-use control against each parcel of land in the appropriate registry or land titles office whenever the land is directly affected by any control imposed by the provincial government, a regional government or a local authority that would restrict the property rights of the landowner.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Carleton-Grenville has the floor for up to 20 minutes.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I have brought forward this resolution today because of my concern about the increasing complexity and proliferation of planning authorities in our province. If this resolution were passed, and the substance of it eventually turned into law, it would be possible for a landowner to inquire at the registry office or land titles office and the local municipal office to find out exactly the restrictions that might exist against his use of his land.
It is not my intention to require municipal governments to register each zoning bylaw against the land involved. I am dealing here with the other authorities that have been given power to restrict land use within the municipalities. It appears to me that we have given away much of our authority from the province to other bodies without enough concern for how this might affect the individual landowner. I think it is time we looked at a dual role for the recipients of these delegated planning powers.
Government has, in general, directed its attention to the means of making planning decisions rather than to the effect on those who have been or will be affected. I’m afraid that we have left the landowner or the potential landowner in some confusion as to exactly what he may or may not do with his property. The delegation of power has also tended to make those in authority somewhat careless about decisions being made in placing restrictions on land use.
It is my firm belief that many politicians and bureaucrats are not aware of the full impact of their ruling. For example, I cannot believe that politicians of the regional government of Ottawa-Carleton fully understand the implications of including 45,000 acres in the township of Rideau in their regional plan.
Mr. Foulds: Oh, that’s what you’re worried about.
Mr. Sterling: They have rendered this land virtually useless by not allowing an owner to erect a dwelling on a vacant lot, whether it be an acre or 100 acres. First reading of this bylaw took place in October 1974. It was not until this spring that people became aware of the restrictions in this official plan. I believe that, had the plan been registered on title, landowners would have reacted at a much earlier date.
My experience as a resident of the township of Rideau gave rise to my concern initially, and I would like to relate some of that experience as background to this resolution.
Rideau township is located in the southern part of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. As late as 10 years ago, as much as half of the township was not even under subdivision control. It was possible at that time to develop, build or change the use of land simply by submitting plans, paying a small fee and getting a building permit
The story is very different today. Any prudent purchaser thinking of buying land or an existing landowner who is thinking of building or developing his land may be required to take some of the following steps.
First of all, the owner has to check with the Ministry of the Environment to determine if he can install a septic tank and tile bed on his property. This may be possible, but it might also be necessary that the person be required to haul up to five feet of soil onto his land in order that a proper installation can be made. It might also be necessary for the landowner to install an alternative system, an aerobic system, instead of a septic tank, which could cost three to four times as much.
Second, a landowner or prospective purchaser should check with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to determine if all or part of the land on which he intends to build lies within the flood plain. This is important because flood plain designation restricts the potential use of the lots and it might not be possible to erect a dwelling. In addition, there are landscaping controls within the flood plain. At the same time, he may also check with the conservation authority to see if the property is in a geologically sensitive area. If so, it would be necessary to hire an engineer to give an opinion whether or not work should be undertaken prior to building.
The third authority he might want to visit would be the Ministry of Natural Resources, to determine the extent and number of pit licences which have been granted in the township. The locations of such pits could have a significant effect on the enjoyment or the use of the land. It is noteworthy that the township of Rideau did not have planning prior to the enactment of the Pits and Quarries Control Act in 1972 and for a period thereafter. Therefore, pit licences could have been issued in contravention of the present plan.
Fourth, one should check with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. If the owner plans to build near a highway or needs access to that highway, he should check with this ministry first. In this township, there are three situations which may require permission from the ministry. There are highways, limited access highways, and designated highways. In each case, there is a different set of rules applying to the use of adjacent land, but only in the case of the designated highway is there a registration of notice. Although this registration exists, there is no clear set of rules attached to that designation which indicates the potential use of the land.
Fifth, the buyer or the present owner would have to find out from the regional roads department if he was permitted to gain access to a regional road. While at the regional office, he should check with the regional planners to ensure that if he did not want to develop the property immediately, his intended use would not contravene the official plan. This is in keeping with the fact that there are differences between the official plan of the region and the official plan of the township. There could be further restrictions or a change of restrictions on the use of land once the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board has been rendered.
Sixth, the prospective purchaser should also check with the Ministry of Housing to ascertain the impact of an existing zoning order that has been placed across one half of the township of Rideau in 1972.
He would also be required, of course, to go to his local municipality to find out what the local zoning requirements might be. Within the municipal jurisdiction, he might also want to look at whether or not there were any tile drainage debentures owing against the property, or whether there were any municipal drain assessments against the property, or whether anybody was contemplating a municipal drain across his land or the land he proposed to purchase.
He might also inquire whether or not any of the buildings on the property which he would propose to buy had been designated historic, because the Ontario Heritage Act might limit him in his right to demolish them.
I realize that I have exaggerated to a degree.
Mr. Foulds: No, not possible.
Mr. Sterling: It is not possible that all of the problems that I have outlined apply to one piece of land, but I emphasize that all of these restrictions are real possibilities within this one township. I have used this local example as only an indication of a problem which is much wider. We have recently seen an increasing awareness of people’s rights relating to land-use restrictions. For example, it is now estimated that 75 per cent of all conservation authorities are exhibiting some muscle related to land-use control.
Of all the restrictions I have mentioned in my local example above, it would be my suggestion that only those that are not imposed by the township or municipality be registered on title. A title search would reveal that none of the restrictions I have mentioned would appear on the title, but all of them have real meaning in terms of the potential use and the potential cost which may attach to that piece of land.
At present, there is no requirement for any authority to register these restrictions and it is my opinion that planning restrictions are far more important than anything that might be registered on title. It is possible to have a clear title, but what would that mean, Mr. Speaker, if the land-use purchase was of no real practical value to you?
The standard real estate agreement form used by most real estate boards has no clauses making the sale conditional on property zoning. It is therefore my suggestion that planning restrictions be put in explicit language on the title of the property. This would be of benefit to present and prospective landowners. For existing landowners, the registration of restrictions would aid in the proper evaluation of their land. If an owner felt he was being unfairly treated in terms of land assessment, he would be able to check the status of his zoning by visiting two places, his municipal hall and the registry office. The value of his property, as the members are aware, can change drastically with a change in the restrictions placed against the property.
One result of my suggestion might be that the easy access of information would limit the necessity of engaging professionals to determine the market value for municipal tax appeals. Of course, I believe there should be an equal obligation to deregister or alter any notice of restriction if any authority changes those rules relating to the land use.
We have decentralized the planning function dramatically in the past 10 years and work such as the Ontario Economic Council’s review of municipal planning in 1973 and the recent Comay report encourage us to go even further. I support this decentralization and I feel it is proper to localize as many of the planning functions as possible. In so doing, however, we must ensure that the general public understands its rights. I believe that my resolution would help them in this regard.
Some criticism may be levelled at my suggestions by pointing out that the scheme proposed would be most expensive and impractical. This may well be the case with certain types of restrictions and I would be prepared to see some exemptions if the task proved to be totally impractical. It is my belief, however, that since planning decisions are made for the general good of the public, the public should bear a portion of the costs necessary to protect the individual landowner’s rights. I also believe that the process of registration of most restrictions would not be too onerous and should be looked at very seriously. I believe we should throw the burden on the authority that is making the planning restrictions, until the authority can prove to us that the registration of their restrictions is totally impractical.
Another positive benefit that would arise from the registration of land-use restrictions would be encouragement for local councils to support good planning decisions. There is a tendency now for municipal councils to back off planning decisions because an owner is often not aware of the restrictions that were placed against his land either in buying or after he has bought his property. This is particularly true where the restrictions were not placed on his land by a local authority.
I contend, as well, that a greater burden would be thrown on the legal profession to provide a better service to clients.
Mr. Foulds: No. It eases up their responsibilities actually. You do their work for them ahead of time.
Mr. Sterling: More complete information could be given regarding possible uses of land.
Mr. Wildman: Get the lawyers out of it completely.
Mr. Sterling: This will be of great assistance in the future and it should limit the time and work necessary for a solicitor to give proper advice in relation to planning.
This is only one step along the way to clarification of the individual landowner’s rights in this day and age. I’m very interested in balancing the rights of the individual against the many authorities that now can restrict the use of one’s land.
I realize that there are a number of members who wish to speak on my suggestion. I look forward to hearing their criticisms, both positive and negative. Naturally, I would like to see this resolution accepted by this House, but the main objective is to have the problem of landowner’s rights discussed.
An active debate will more than satisfy them. I have not taken long to outline my proposal because I think the principle is fairly easily understood. I would like to reserve what time is left to me at the end of the debate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member will have about four minutes.
Mr. Epp: It’s a pleasure to be able to speak on this resolution. I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, that my first impulse was to speak against the resolution. I was going to take a lead from the member for Carleton-Grenville, who last fall voted against a private member’s bill of a colleague of mine that had to do with small business. He very well articulated at that time the fact that he was against any more bureaucracy and, therefore on that basic principle he was going to oppose, and he did oppose it. In fact, I think he was the only member in the House who opposed the bill at that time. He stood out like a sore thumb at that time and opposed it. I’m sure he’s had second thoughts about it. All of us make our errors, particularly those of us who are new to this House. I’m sure he remembers that day very well.
Nevertheless, I’m going to support this resolution for a number of reasons. After consulting some of my colleagues on this matter, irrespective of the fact that it does mean more bureaucracy, I feel that it may be a small matter in the size of the bureaucracy that it increases compared to the amount of good that it may do to the consumers of the province.
It does show very well the fact that one law begets another and that as we put on more controls and develop more bureaucracy and more bodies, we have to counteract it. If we only had one or two planning bodies in this province, we wouldn’t need this additional red tape and bureaucracy, but we now do because we’ve got the multiple bodies that the members on the other side of the House have introduced from time to time. That does raise problems.
Mr. Wildman: Are you in favour of the provincial land use plan?
Mr. Epp: It is something like the person who is fairly ill and decides to take a lot of drugs. Then he has to start taking other drugs in order to counteract the ill effects or the side effects of the drugs he’s been taking in order to make himself well.
This bill won’t protect the consumer; it will protect the future purchasers of land. Most pieces of land are not registered on title now and this will help the lay person who sometimes searches titles to be aware of all the various bodies that may have some kind of hold or some kind of control on that piece of land, because often they are not lawyers. In fact, some years ago I was searching titles for a lawyer myself. I am told lawyers are confronted with maybe 15 different statutes that might affect a piece of land.
It’s a good resolution which I am going to support when it comes up for a vote this afternoon.
Mr. Foulds: That applause by my colleagues is because I volunteered to speak first while they had time to gather their thoughts. Both of them will be speaking on it more fully later in the debate if there’s time.
I rise in support of the resolution. I see basically nothing wrong with it. It does address some very real problems, although I find it a little strange that the Liberal Party also seems to be supporting the resolution in view of a resolution that one of their members recently brought in with regard to the Niagara Escarpment. I would have thought that their position would have been against any kind of planning regulations or anything else.
An hon. member: It’s totally consistent.
Mr. Foulds: Well, it’s totally consistent only for a Liberal, I must say. However that’s by the by. I want to say very clearly, however, that I don’t share the member’s implied reasoning that the authority of conservation authorities or of planning boards is a bad authority. Occasionally, there may have been some abuses, but I don’t think I would accept the argument that placing restriction on land use, which is the other side of the coin of proper land-use planning for the entire province, necessarily depreciates land values.
For example, in a municipality such as Halifax and hopefully in the future Thunder Bay, a clear skyline bylaw would, in fact, enhance property values for single-family dwellings in certain areas. You must understand, Mr. Speaker, that some restrictions placed by municipalities, by planning boards, assure and keep up certain land values. That must be kept in mind.
We must come to the position in 1978 that property rights by themselves are not untrammelled, that the ownership of property does not give one the absolute right to use or dispose of that property as one sees fit. As property owners, we have a responsibility to our neighbours and to our neighbour property owners as well. I want to state that principle quite clearly because it is important in the whole debate that seems to be emerging in one strange way or another over the last several months about planning and about flood plains, and about responsibility.
Basically, the assumption in this society is that the buyer must beware. What the member has done, and this is why I support the resolution, is provide a kind of consumer protection for that buyer so he is more aware of what he must beware of. That is a step in the right direction.
I’m a little bit unclear, and I hope that the member could clarify it in his four-minute wind-up, about what exceptions he might make. I can understand the exceptions he outlined with regard to the municipality, because those would be on record with the local municipality and be fairly accessible to the residents.
It seems to me, however, that if it is to be effective, it should be consistent. Obviously, this is just a resolution and not a piece of legislation. I can see it taking some time to bring it into effect, and probably there should be a time frame. For example, it would take considerable time for the conservation authority in the Grand River valley to work through all the private lands in which their flood-plain mapping and their management plain has effect. I don’t think we could expect them to take on staff overnight or to hire several lawyers in order to put the notice on the registration title that the member mentions.
The final thing I want to say is that there are a number of cases, as has been mentioned previously, where the person searching a title is not a lawyer. Many people try to do that independently. It seems to me that they often see a title and they aren’t aware of these other possible restrictions. They may be buying the property for a corner store in a rural area that rules out that possibility. That restriction may not be on the title.
The idea the member has embodied in the resolution would serve the public good in that way, although I think there would be several careful refinements that must be thought through before any legislation were in fact drafted.
Mr. Williams: In rising to make certain observations on the resolution of the member for Carleton-Grenville, I want to state at the outset that the member’s concern for the fair treatment of Ontario property owners is one I am sure that is shared by all members of this House. Moreover, I am personally committed to the principle that all prospective purchasers of property should be appraised of constraints to the utilization on the parcel of land they wish to purchase. I believe equally that all current owners of land should be made aware of changes to the nature of land-use controls.
I guess the difficulty is in determining what is the most appropriate way to accomplish this end. Looking at the resolution from an administrative point of view, a lands control information system would involve an analysis of their applications for many millions of parcels of land and would require extensive efforts of co-ordination, expensive computer facilities and an enlarged bureaucracy. This has been referred to by other speakers this afternoon.
This cost, however justified, would have to be charged against the users of the system itself. it is an open question as to whether property owners and purchasers would want to maintain such an administrative structure.
Mr. J. Reed: You could hire a lawyer.
Mr. Williams: From a policy position, the difficulties in my view are even more serious. Obviously, data stored in the system would include existing land-use controls. But how would it regard legislation which at best could only be labelled “impending”? How would the system inform the public of proposals for reform of land-use control that had only achieved draft plan status at the appropriate municipal council? The bottom line is whether any system could be so constructed as to protect the consumer from the reorientation of the future government intent.
I must say that the development of an acceptable strategy for the resolution of these challenging questions would be indeed an ambitious undertaking.
Additionally, there is the major consideration that if such a system were successfully installed, there emerges the all-important question of public liability. That is, enabling legislation which took its source from the intent of this legislation might well provide grounds for civil action. The insertion of a clause to prohibit such action would certainly undermine the public’s confidence in any attempted legislation along these lines.
Upon a review of current practices, I find that those already situated on properties whose land-use controls may be altered whether at the provincial or the municipal level, have already received notices of hearing and are invited to express themselves formally on the subject of changes to which they find objection. There exists the danger that the notice of control advocated by this resolution might become distorted into and after the fact-hearing process and that elements of the public would feel justified in pursuing objections to changes in land-use control well after the proper period for public input had passed.
There is no question that owners have certain legitimate rights but my own feeling is that they have certain responsibilities as well. One responsibility, which I believe all owners of property or prospective purchasers must share, is the responsibility to monitor or have legal counsel monitor the existence or alterations of land-use controls through periodic contact with the appropriate provincial and municipal administrative offices.
Coming to the legal considerations, I think that’s the most important difficulty of all. My friend from Carleton-Grenville will appreciate and understand that the main import and purpose of the Registry Act and the Land Titles Act is to deal with ownership and interest in land. Embodied in those documents is the public recording of any document, whether it be a deed, mortgage, lease or any other type of document that goes to matter of title. That surely is what the Registry Act and the Land Titles Act are about.
I suggest that those acts were not devised to give the public public notice of land uses but rather ownership and legal interest in land. I think it has been determined on more than one occasion and is recognized as such by those of the legal profession that land-use control bylaws or specific land-use bylaws or general plans for planning use do not go to matters of title but rather matters of use of the land which are two distinct and separate considerations -- and very important distinctions, indeed.
During the ’50s and ’60s the municipalities throughout the province engaged in a fad of registering as many agreements and caveats and bylaws on the title as possible, to ensure that any interest whatsoever they might have in the lands or intended use of the lands would be a matter of public notice. It got to the point that because of the hue and cry raised by the legal profession -- particularly when they found it so difficult from experience to get municipalities to register a release once they may have registered an interest that was of a limited duration -- it became a very onerous undertaking.
It’s interesting to note that section 18 of the Registry Act itself -- to draw it to the attention of the member sponsoring the resolution -- sets aside a specific registry, a bylaw index in which bylaws -- and I feel that master plans of land-use control for municipalities could fall within this jurisdiction, in fact, they could because to become effective they have to be enacted as a bylaw -- could be and, in fact, are registered in the registry offices in any event. Not in the general registry, but in the bylaw index. As such, they are on record. They’re not on each individual piece of land.
I suggest, with respect, that it would be inappropriate to take the course of action that the member for Carleton-Grenville has suggested. I agree with many of the concerns he’s expressed but I must respectfully disagree with the mechanism by which he wants to better serve the public by giving them greater notice. I suggest, as he did in his comments, that there are certain administrative offices --
Mr. Lawlor: You see how defective it really is?
Mr. Williams: -- where various government controls and regulations are sought out from. Whether it be the licensing of gravel quarries, pits or any other specific type of land use, the appropriate place for a person to go, of course, is to the clerk’s office of the local municipality and to search out the records to see what the official land-use and bylaw controls are in that municipality.
We all know too well that many lawyers will not give an opinion to any of their clients with regard to the status of land-use controls because of the vagaries and activities of councils, which can change from day to day. Many lawyers, I suggest, have found themselves burnt by having given opinions with regard to land-use bylaws and have found to their horror that an amendment had been introduced in the local council the week before, amending the specific bylaw that happened to affect that particular parcel of land.
Surely, by having the official documents in the clerk’s office, as they must be, and registered by many of the municipalities in the bylaw index of the registry offices, that would give sufficient notice to an interested landowner.
The concern is whether members of the general public have adequate access to these records to satisfy themselves. By suggesting that a lay person go to a registry office and to matters of title would, I suggest, mislead that person going to search the records into considering that this bylaw has some bearing on the title to his property when it does not do so. It certainly does impinge upon the unlimited use he may make of those lands, but to relate it to the matter of title, which the Land Titles Act and the Registry Act are specifically designed to accommodate, I suggest is the wrong course of action and the wrong area within which to bring land-use control bylaws and general land-use policies. I suggest they must continue to remain primarily in the offices of the municipalities within which those land-use changes have been imposed and will change.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Lawlor: You can see the pitfalls; they’re logical.
Mr. Williams: I suggest that the lawyers, if they wished to advise their clients with regard to land-use controls, would continue to make their appropriate searches in the municipal offices of the appropriate municipality.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, this resolution has provoked a very useful discussion in the House this afternoon and points out very clearly, by reason of even expressing the need for such a mechanism, the absolute mess that we are in regarding land-use controls in Ontario at the present time. I’ll point out a couple of examples.
Mr. Lawlor: What is that, a projection?
Mr. J. Reed: In my own riding we have situations where the overlays go something like this: municipal, regional, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Credit Valley Conservation Authority. There are many landowners who have all of those control impositions placed on their property, and they are very often at a loss as to know where to go in order to get some of their problems sorted out. They will start at one place and they feel they have the situation solved, only to find out that they haven’t satisfied the requirements or the overlay of somebody else and only to go some place else. I think all of us recognize and accept certain impositions on the concept of freehold property.
Mr. Lawlor: Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a simpler, antediluvian age?
Mr. J. Reed: It would be much more wonderful to live in a simpler, antediluvian age. I don’t even know what that word means. Coming from that member, though, it sounds rather prehistoric; so I think we’ll just try to move on to something a little more current and progressive.
Mr. Bradley: Antediluvian means “before the member for Lakeshore.”
Mr. J. Reed: But we all recognize the fact that our concept of property ownership is rooted in British case law and it is amended and developed by legislation as time goes on. This is quite contrary to the American concept of land ownership which is instilled right in the constitution. It is declared clearly.
So we have certain concepts and so on and we accept certain kinds of impositions and certain kinds of controls but the average person really doesn’t know what is happening. I think that some mechanism has to be established. Such is the suggestion from the member that a notice of land-use control or maybe notice of removal and maybe some notice of intent -- because very often what we are dealing with at the present time is not the completed imposition of a control but the draft plan the member for Oriole referred to.
Here we have a situation where a non-elected body, by virtue of a draft plan, is making a gross imposition on a land-owner affecting land values. In one case in my own riding, not only is this imposition by draft plan taking place but the government, on top of that, is expropriating property on the basis of this draft plan. It is a ludicrous situation. The Ombudsman is fortunately investigating that and I hope that there will be a satisfactory resolution.
Landowners should know if there is some kind of control either intended or in reality imposed on their property. I have one neighbour who applied to rebuild his house. The old house was falling down and he wanted to rebuild it. Suddenly he found out that he could not get a permit because his property was in the flood plain. He considered it rather ludicrous because the property was located at least 100 feet above the river level and most of the 100 feet was above the highest flood level. Had there been some kind of information available to him that there was this constraint before he proceeded with making the commitment and so on he could have at least investigated and found out that this imposition was there. He could have challenged it before he had materials purchased, before he had gone ahead and made his plans to proceed. So I think the member for Carleton-Grenville indeed has given us something reasonable to get our teeth into.
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t think what he is proposing will help the client?
Mr. J. Reed: The member for Oriole, on the other hand, has envisaged a large bureaucracy connected with this thing and that was one of my concerns when I first looked at this resolution. I must say that we might find ourselves just hiring another bureaucracy -- one to feed the other. It is kind of an insidious thing.
I don’t think the intent of the member for Carleton-Grenville is that way at all. I see a far more simple kind of statement here, and I see it simply applied in simple terms for people to see it.
The member for Port Arthur also pointed out that in this modern day and age, where people are better educated and so on, very often they are doing their own title searching. They are going into registry offices to find out about property, because it is very costly, as the member for Oriole will recognize, to hire a lawyer to engage in these things. If it is done in a simple way, and I hope that it would be, it provides him with an instantaneous look at the deed and also whether there are any controls, either real or imagined or intended or in reality, placed upon that property.
So when the vote comes this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, I am going to rise in support of this resolution. Certainly, it is incomplete in its statement but I think that the intent justifies the support.
Mr. Swart: Like the other members, I had an opportunity to read over this resolution, give it some consideration, and in addition, have a brief discussion with the member for Carleton-Grenville about it. The resolution, as it is written and as interpreted to me by the member submitting it, finds favour with me and I too will be voting in favour of this resolution.
It seems to me it says, in effect, any planning controls over private land shall be registered and shall be readily available to the owner of that land. With that principle, I can agree. I have to say, though, I have some reservations and some concerns with the comments which that member and other members have made here today. I don’t think I’m interpreting those comments unfairly when I say the intent of this resolution would be to use it, in some real degree, to inhibit the planning process.
When he spoke, the member for Carleton-Grenville certainly made reference to the fact that in his view planning had gone too far. He spoke about the prohibitions on private land. Of course, there may be some justification to this in certain areas.
Mr. J. Reed: All sorts of justification.
Mr. Swart: I’m not at all sure planning has gone too far. I’m sure, in some instances, the techniques used and the lack of reimbursement and the lack of notification and input by this government has gone too far. But the principle of planning, I suggest, is a good principle. In fact, there are very few people in society who would say that where planning -- yes, a very large measure of planning -- had been introduced years ago, that it has in fact failed to be to the benefit of society. In the unplanned areas, we have had all kinds of problems and a great many of the land owners, perhaps the majority of them, have suffered. Believe me, I was in municipal government for 21 years, and I started my municipal career in a municipality where there was no planning. I saw the problems that existed on residential lands where homes were permitted on septic tanks and where the effluent ran into the neighbours’ property afterwards. I tell you we all recognize -- anybody who has been in municipal government -- that municipal planning is absolutely necessary.
I think we also recognize that conservation authorities, for instance, have been a real asset to our society. Sure, in some instances they may have impinged on private rights but they are part of the mix in our society that has made it a better place to live.
Mr. J. Reed: They impinge daily. It depends whether we are willing to accept that impinging or not.
Mr. Swart: This is always a problem in our society, trying to find that balance between the public good and individual rights. Everybody in this House must admit that is the case. Those who say we should abolish planning are speaking nonsense and those who say the state should have the right to do what they like with private land are also speaking nonsense. We have to find that balance. We may not all agree, in these political parties, exactly where that balance should be.
I repeat, planning at all levels generally has been of a real benefit to our society. Ontario is a better place, in spite of the difficulties, because we have had that planning.
I want to mention one other thing about the planning process, and that is where we get into the real problem in planning. We don’t find there is a tremendous conflict in planning, when it is applied in the area where the conditions exist now. When you start planning for the future, and on this vacant land, which is the only way you will prevent problems from arising in the future, Mr. Speaker, that’s where you get into the real difficulty. Yet, in fact, that is where planning pays off to society.
I think we have to live with these difficulties of planning. You can’t throw out planning, or even lessen planning in our society just simply because it is impinging on occasion and perhaps creating injustices on occasion. We still have to have planning. I think people recognize this and are prepared to accept it.
I find also in the bill some things that other speakers have said that are going to give us practical problems, for example, the bureaucracy which is going to be associated with the registration of these properties. I can think of an area under the Grand River Conservation Authority where they would probably have to hire two lawyers for three years to search out the actual boundaries of the property which they cover. To register this against those properties would just be a mammoth job. There’s going to be a lot of costs to society in this. In addition and very frequently, we’ll be registering and then deregistering and changing registrations maybe on property which doesn’t change hands. Over 50 years, you’ll have to change the registration against that property many times during that period of time. I am concerned too that it includes regional governments but excludes local governments in having to register this in a registry office. This was spoken about by other members. All of us who live in regions know there is a tremendous interlocking between the regional plan and the local plan. It seems to me that those two should definitely be registered in one place, probably in the local municipality. I don’t think you can practically separate the two. These proposals are going to make it a lot easier for lawyers. When they transfer property from one person to another person, whether it’s a house or whatever the case may be, and they have a percentage charged against that, it will mean that they will be doing somewhat less work for the money they will receive. In addition, the sad part of it is that that cost will have been transferred to the public purse.
I support this for two reasons, even with the qualifications I have. I support it, first, because I think the public should have the right to know what is registered against their property and, secondly, because I believe that all of it should be readily available either in the local municipality or in the registry office.
Mr. Cureatz: May I say, first of all, how pleased I am to participate in this debate, especially since back in those good old days when I was practising law I was sympathetic to this resolution with regard to what might take place with the practising bar in rural areas where it is involved heavily in real estate transactions and also in major municipalities, as the resolution has stated, in searching out zoning bylaws with regard to particular pieces of property.
As I understand, the purpose of this resolution is to require the registration of a notice of land-use control against each parcel of land within the appropriate registry. This registration would be compulsory whenever the land is directly affected by controls imposed by the regional or provincial government or local authority which would restrict the property rights of the landowner.
The present legislation that governs the land registration system in Ontario permits the registration of documents that affect title interest in land. However, I believe that under our present system documents that deal with land-use control do not affect title to land and, therefore, cannot be registered. I find that this approach is consistent with the recommendations made by the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the report on land registration and with the study conducted by the copyright division.
I recognize the advantages in consolidating all interests that affect land and one-title record. However, at present there have been no studies to determine exactly what increase in volume would result if controls were registered. I feel that it is important to remember that the land registration system is a completely manual system with the exception of the use of the cash register. It becomes apparent to me then that even changes to the system which appear insignificant can have a startling effect in terms of increased work loads.
While the basic philosophy of this resolution is appealing, I find that it’s impractical and that it would be very difficult to carry out. The registration of land-use controls on title will not be practical until significant technical improvements are made to our system. The point is until we have a better mapping system, improved storage facilities and an automatic data entry system, our system is just not capable of handling this kind of registration. For example, in 1977, there were 1,286,866 documents relating to land in Ontario. That was documents registered and that’s in regard to deeds, mortgages, wills and the like. Decentralization of all these instruments under a manual system would make the work load, I would suggest, incredible.
There are other disadvantages. In the transitional stage, assuming that this resolution was adopted, a land registration system would have to absorb an instant growth of about one million entries. In an area where the government has been trying to cut down, this would cause increased administrative problems and bureaucratic red tape. All of this I believe, is unnecessary; and all of this I believe, would make it difficult for a practising solicitor in trying to explain to his client a delay in a particular real estate transaction because of the difficulty in deciphering amongst other things, the registration of a zoning category on a piece of property.
Mr. Lawlor: What about the delays now?
Mr. Cureatz: That’s right. The delays now are difficult enough for any practising solicitor, although I am quite sure that the member for Lakeshore, who hasn’t practised in quite a while, is just getting that from hearsay.
If the registration of each parcel of land is required, there must be some sort of sanction for failure of registry. Remembering that in 1977 there was an estimated 3.1 million individually owned parcels of land, enforcement of this resolution would be very difficult. One can only speculate, but I imagine that the cost to be borne by the municipalities would increase their budgets greatly.
I am wondering as an alternative to this resolution if we could be looking at the amendment to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to provide for disclosure of registration on land use in any agreement of purchase and sale. In the event of a prospective purchaser looking at property, it will be stated automatically by very fine and competent real estate agents --
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t want public notice and you want them to know enough about it to put in an offer to purchase. Really, you contradict yourself.
Mr. Cureatz: -- what the zoning is right away on the agreement of purchase and sale.
Secondly, we could also take a look at the amendment relevant to those provincial statutes to allow for solicitor requisition on land use as well as on land title and any transaction of property rights. Although I am not opposed in principle to the registration of all interests that affect land on title and on the record, I fear that it is not practical until substantial technical changes have been made to the land registration system.
Mr. Bradley: They will support you anyway, Norm.
Mr. Lawlor: Is there any time left?
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for Lakeshore for about six minutes.
Mr. Lawlor: Oh, my God, that’s eons.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Five minutes.
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Speaker, I suspect the member is doing the right thing for the wrong reason, unlike most government members who do the wrong thing sometimes, and maybe even usually, for the right reasons. But the particular animus that’s behind the legislation is directed towards that great beast of the apocalypse called planning and the regimentation of contemporary life.
It’s a strange thing, Mr. Speaker. On many sides of this House, particularly with right wing people, they don’t hesitate to take all the advantages of contemporary civilization, but they don’t want any of the disadvantages. They shy off. We’ve heard the speeches here today from the middle paleolithic period. Stone age man was saying that he could do whatever the blazes he pleased with his property.
My position is in support of the legislation. It seems to me the more that is on that title with respect to anything collateral to or affecting that title, the better it is for the average citizen and, incidentally and quite tertiarily I assure you, for the legal profession who do the searching. There are pitfalls enough. Every lawyer knows there may be any number of things that won’t appear on that title and will never appear on any title, which nevertheless can have devastating effects on the future use of the land -- hidden drains, types of pipes, easements of various kinds. A host of things that don’t come to light by looking at a title haunt and sometimes cause out of pocket expenses to the legal profession which has to certify these titles are guaranteed.
I would point out, and it has no doubt been mentioned earlier in this debate, that there is a very broad range of notices placed on contemporary titles from a diversity of government agencies. Just this morning on our regulations committee, we heard from Transportation that information with respect to controlled-access highways, with respect to designation of the Queen’s highways is placed on the titles. Therefore, the adjoining landowners will know what the relationship to the highway system is and what the effects are on land values and on the utilization of the land that may be involved.
Most planning stuff coming through the municipal board is registered on title. This is done by a simple step and usually makes reference to the bylaw in question, so that whole area is covered. Highway expropriations and what not are placed on titles. There is a vast range already accommodated and accepted. Now, if the range is to be extended, I would think that by and large that’s all to the good. As I said, I would even go so far as to want the municipal bylaws affecting particular pieces of property to be at one’s fingertips, so to speak.
That’s the place basically where you go and look. We have enough difficulties in land transactions just trying to get all the numerous affidavits together. But one usually has to write to the municipality with respect to planning controls that are operative there and available nowhere else, seeking out from that municipality, intelligence as to what governs a particular piece of property. That is a long, slow, sometimes even ardous extraction of the deed. Time comes and goes; people want to move into the property. The sensible place to find it is at the registry office, right on title.
Particularly, as has been pointed out in this House by individuals other than the legal profession, for those who desire to take a look at their own title or someone else’s. And to go away in the benighted, or the sublime -- take your choice -- belief that they know what governs the property, when they --
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Lawlor: I couldn’t possibly have used it up in so short a time.
Mr. Conway: And so unfortunately.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for Carleton-Grenville for four minutes.
Mr. Sterling: Perhaps I shall try to direct some of my response to things that have recurred in the speeches of several members and I would like to thank them for participating in the debate.
First of all, requiring a municipality to put on title any restrictions they might impose would be very impractical.
I’ve also found out from experience that a trip to the municipal hall often will yield a lot more information for a prospective owner or for an owner in terms of what might or might not happen to their property as well as what might or might not happen to the adjacent property or property in the surrounding area. In some cases this is as important as finding out exactly what happens to their particular property.
Mr. Lawlor: Aren’t you doing this for the wrong reasons?
Mr. Foulds: Yes he is. Yes, indeed.
Mr. Sterling: I’m not doing this for the wrong reasons at all, I’d say to the member for Lakeshore.
I believe, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, that we are not going to stop the decentralization of planning authority. We’re going to have to continue on that route because of the different nature of the types of problems involved. By providing some kind of central registry system for land-use controls we will be providing the existing landowner and a potential landowner with a good place to go and really find out what the story is about this piece of land.
I was asked by one of the members to comment on the exception that I mentioned in my opening remarks. What I was referring to there was that instead of registering against each single piece of land, for instance, in relation to a conservation authority, they might register as a bylaw index is now registered against the whole of the township in a particular area.
I do believe, however, that on each abstract page or against each parcel there should be some reference to another area of reference so that an owner who would walk in would then know that he had to also check another set of general documents that were on title.
As to the argument relating to the fact that the registry system and the land titles system dealt with ownership and with ownership rights as opposed to land-use rights, I think that argument would have been good 20 years ago but today land-use rights are as important or more important than legal rights in terms of the old sense of the word.
Mr. Lawlor: Are you listening, Oriole?
Mr. Williams: You’re dead wrong.
Mr. Foulds: That is a very good point.
Mr. Sterling: I also think that perhaps the fact that there is an intent to zone a property could be registered just as an intent so that it would alarm a potential buyer that this was taking place without registration of the details of the intended zoning that was going to take place. Again, that would serve the public in terms of their being able to find out what was happening with their land as well as --
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Sterling: -- what has happened to their land.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The time for dealing with this matter has expired.
PLEBISCITES ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. Bradley moved private member’s motion 14:
Resolution: That in the opinion of this House any proposal for the restructuring of a local government should not be implemented until such proposal has been submitted in a plebiscite to the electors of the municipality affected and is approved by a majority of those voting; and that where a plebiscite is conducted in a municipality that is part of a regional municipality and two thirds of the electors voting indicate a desire to discontinue the regional government, the matter should be referred to the standing committee on general government for a feasibility study and recommendations.
Mr. Bradley: I should say at the beginning I wish to reserve two minutes at the end.
I rise in the Legislature today to present for consideration of all members of this assembly a resolution designed to give the people of Ontario a direct voice in the determination of the future of local government in this province. For those of us who have served at the municipal level, the idea and practice of permitting the voting public to render judgement on various issues by means of the ballot box is not new. Indeed, a question placed on the ballot has often initiated the most debate and sparked the greatest degree of interest at the time of a municipal election. It is an avenue of action which should be encouraged and promoted in dealing with issues which have a particular effect on a certain area of the province.
If I were asked to list those issues which worked in favour of my election to this body, I would be compelled to place at the top of the list the issue of regional government. In a section of the province which could not be classified as unfriendly to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and for a good many years in the past, there remains but one Tory member to fight the cause of the provincial government. That member, the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch), retains that seat not on the basis of his support of regional government nor of his political affiliation, but on the foundation of his own personal integrity and the record of service to his constituents.
In constituency after constituency across this province, Conservative candidates were forced to bear the albatross of regional government on their efforts to retain seats or to wrest new seats from the control of the opposition. In those areas saddled with regional government or threatened with regionalization, Tory standard bearers were faced with a major handicap. Yet the message has apparently been missed by those responsible for the implementation of this additional level of government and bureaucracy. Despite assurances from the Premier (Mr. Davis) that no new regional governments were to be established in the near future, we see evidence of the same old monster with a new name.
The only method available to give the present government a clear indication of the response of the people to regional government or municipal restructuring or whatever label is applied to their efforts to alter the present form of local government is the plebiscite, the direct expression of the popular will of the electorate.
Let me share with members of the Legislative Assembly some of the problems that I see created by the establishment of this new layer of government. By doing so, Mr. Speaker, I might persuade some reluctant representatives in this chamber to support the principle of allowing the people directly affected by regional government the opportunity to decide for themselves the desirability of accepting major new restructuring of local government in their areas.
While my own experience with regional government relates primarily to the Niagara Peninsula, and most particularly to the constituency of St. Catharines, I have found in my travels across the province as a member of the Ontario Liberal caucus task force on regional and local government a striking similarity between the problems experienced in Niagara and those that exist in other regions. What regional government represents to many is merely another level of government, another set of regulations, another group of bureaucrats to deal with when attempting to solve a problem. They see in this additional level of administration, the possibility of empire building. They realize that people who held positions in local governments have been hired at regional level, given significant raises to recognize their responsibility for a larger area of jurisdiction and provided with a staff to assist in carrying out the responsibilities.
In each of the public hearings I attended as a task force member, the question of the cost of regional government was raised. All too often the real cost of regional government is masked by the payment of transitional grants from the province. It is not until these temporary payments from provincial coffers expire that the municipal taxpayers of a region feel the full impact of a new level of government.
By the very nature of its makeup, regional government does not encourage responsible public spending. There is simply very little incentive for economy in a situation where the cost of a program is to be borne by all taxpayers within a region rather than by those who will be the recipients of the new service.
The tendency to get as big a piece of the financial pie as possible is prevalent in circumstances where someone else will be compelled to share the cost. The practice of political back scratching is bound to be enhanced when politicians from one area recognize that the price for a vote for a bridge in their municipality will be a vote in favour of a new road in another local jurisdiction. It is much easier to spend $28,000 when your own contribution is only $1,000.
Concern over the increase in the financial burden to the local taxpayer as the result of regional government was expressed very well on pages five and six of a document entitled A Brief to the Niagara Region Study Review Commission, a brief which was presented by St. Catharines city council to Commissioner William Archer. I quote from that brief:
“There can be no doubt that the cost of local government in Niagara has increased greatly since the inception of regionalism. Much of the increase results from:
“1. Split jurisdictional approach leading to duplication of effort without discernible benefit;
“2. The desire of the region to provide a uniform level of service to those parts of the region which historically have accepted a lesser level of service;
“3. Administration costs which have exceeded those which were anticipated. The public generally has not been aware of the cost increases because of the infusion of provincial funds at unprecedented levels.
“We are convinced that should the province be unable or unwilling” -- in fact, recent policy pronouncements indicate this to be the case -- “to continue increasing its revenue transfers at rates established since the advent of regional government, the public will react with an increased interest and concern to these cost escalations.
“Urban municipalities already find it more and more difficult to maintain present services and programs let alone introduce new services or new programs to meet new demands. In their attempts to minimize the further escalation in property taxation, they have absorbed the regional levy, partly at the expense of lowering the level of service they have already established at the area municipal level. This is to the long-term disadvantage of both the region and the area municipality.
“Uniform levels of service in a region with such disparate communities as Niagara cannot be justified on an economic basis. Attempts to provide regional uniformity have resulted in the larger urban centres having to bear an escalated and disproportionate burden. The Regional Municipality of Niagara Act provides for the fixing of rate and area charges in relation to services and benefits received.
“The city of St. Catharines has, within its own geographical boundaries, fixed an urban service area within which charges made relate to services provided. Any comprehensive assessment of the cost of local government demands an analysis of provincial as well as local funding. The city of St. Catharines would be prepared to co-operate in such an assessment and, more particularly, in relation to the costs involved as compared to the benefits received.”
I might add that this particular document, which was prepared by a committee of city council, endorsed by city council and a committee made up of senior staff, also included the former mayor of the city of St. Catharines, Mr. Joseph Reid. He is also a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and a former federal candidate.
I must say that when Mr. Reid represented the city of St. Catharines at the regional council in defending their interests, he did so on the basis of the special interests of the city of St. Catharines, rather than attempting to defend the provincial government, which was of his political affiliation. That is to his credit.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you just discuss it on the principle involved?
Mr. Bradley: Many of the proponents of regional government have advanced the theory that there are automatic economies of scale to be realized in the establishment of regional government. A submission to the Liberal task force by Dr. Joseph Kushner, an economist and alderman in the city of St. Catharines, suggested otherwise.
Mr. Foulds: What is his political affiliation?
An hon. member: NDP.
Mr. Bradley: I would like to quote from Dr. Kushner’s brief as it relates to the issue of cost.
Mr. Foulds: You have documented everybody else’s political affiliation.
Mr. Bradley: He says: “The purpose of regional government is essentially two-fold: (a) to realize economies of scale in the provision of public services; and (b) to provide land-use planning in a larger geographic area.” I submit gentlemen, that in practice, regional government has achieved neither objective.
Mr. Foulds: Have you timed this speech? If we heckled you, will it interrupt your flow?
Mr. Bradley: Yes, it would.
Economics of scale refers to a situation where a larger unit of government provides a public service at a lower per unit cost. According to Werner Z. Hirsch, the leading US urban economist: “Scale economics exist in private industry because of lower factor costs, larger and more efficient plants and vertical integration. But when local governments grow or consolidate, these conditions are often missing. Cities, counties, and regions purchase a highly diversified array of factors, except for labour. Few factors purchased are in quantities large enough to obtain major piece concessions.
“Also, the nature of local government services, particularly location considerations, tends to keep plants relatively small. At the same time, serious diseconomics can accompany a large local government that loses efficiency because of political patronage and administrative top-heaviness.” The Niagara region experiment appears to be consistent with the US experience.
To summarize, first, we have unnecessary duplication of services; and second, factor costs have risen for provision of services at the regional level. To name only a few examples of duplication of services, I refer to (a) the city and regional planning staffs, both working on city boundaries; and (b) the city and regional engineering staff considering parking meters on St. Catharines’ main downtown street which is a regional road.
In terms of factor costs, labour and management wages are higher for the region than for the city, based on the premise, I assume, that a larger government unit can afford to pay higher rates. At the same time, the rural sectors of the region demand high quality services which previously they had not considered. The result is a tax redistribution to the urban resident. Incidentally, this makes rural living more attractive which, in turn, is counter to the Ontario government’s stated objective of redirecting growth away from the prime agricultural lands.
The preoccupation with attempting to standardize service across the region to establish regional rates for services results in dramatic increases in payments for those who must subsidize others. Probably the classic example for the people of my constituency, St. Catharines, was an increase in the wholesale price of water of over 800 per cent from 1970 to 1978, largely as a result of a regional council decision to establish a regional water rate.
Mr. Foulds: Can you give us absolute figures?
Mr. Bradley: It’s 832 per cent.
Mr. Foulds: No, absolute figures.
Mr. Bradley: I cannot give to the honourable member at the present time --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Bradley: -- but I would be happy to provide them for him at a future date.
Mr. Foulds: Okay. File them with the Speaker.
Mr. Bradley: Financial problems alone have not alienated people from regional government; however, the remoteness of the region from the people, the lack of accountability of representatives and the loss of local autonomy, are factors which have combined to provide yet another source of dissatisfaction. When the mayor of the city of Welland has more jurisdiction over a road within the municipal boundaries of St. Catharines than a local alderman, the best interests of the people are not being served. A representative from an outside municipality has neither the knowledge of the road nor the concern for its maintenance that local representatives possess.
Mr. Swart: Especially if it is the mayor of the city of Welland.
Mr. Bradley: In the final analysis, he is not responsible to the municipality affected and therefore, not subject to removal at election time. This situation breeds either uneconomic political tradeoffs of bureaucratic control as elected councillors abandon their responsibilities to appointed officials.
Mr. Foulds: My, you have a cynical view. Is there no idealism left?
Mr. Bradley: With the lack of commonality of interest among the various groups within a region, it is highly unlikely that problems specific to one section can be solved in the absence of either the sympathy or the detailed knowledge of others. In many regional municipalities, there is neither the desire nor the will to be directly associated with others areas which do not share the concerns and problems of one particular district. Municipalities which are almost exclusively rural, by and large, do not wish to be lumped together with urban centres. It is likely that the feeling in this regard is mutual.
I could go on to list several more problems created by the imposition of regional government, but I am certain that members of this Legislature are well aware of the disadvantages that have resulted in those areas unfortunate enough to be selected for this experiment. The resolution I have proposed would allow the people under the yoke of regionalism and those about to be subjected to municipal restructuring, the opportunity to pass judgement based on the previous experience of others with regional government. In order that the province would be able to impose major changes in the structure of local government, the people of the areas of the municipalities affected would be given the right to approve or veto such a restructuring. The onus, then, would be on the proponents to justify the need for any changes, rather than on those who would be the recipients of such action to prove their case.
While the first part of the resolution would assist those who have not yet been introduced in a direct way to regional government, it is necessary to provide a chance for those now governed under the jurisdiction of a regional municipality to initiate action designed to deal with their grievances. The resolution stipulates that where a plebiscite is held in one of the area municipalities in the region, on the date assigned for municipal elections, and where two thirds of those voting indicate a desire to discontinue the regional government, the matter should be referred to the standing committee on general government for a feasibility study and recommendations.”
Mr. Foulds: Are you going to circulate the speech?
Mr. Bradley: While this action would not provide for a unilateral withdrawal from the region or an automatic dissolution of the regional government, it would allow the aggrieved citizens their day in court. In this case, that court would be a committee of this Legislature.
Mr. Foulds: Government committee a court? The mind boggles.
Mr. Bradley: At the present time, the electors of a region have only the option of replacing the provincial government or at least the members representing that government in their constituencies. With issues other than regional government forming part of the assessment of the incumbents, and those ridings directly affected by a regional government in the minority, a clear expression of opinion on local government may not be possible. With all parties represented on the standing committee on general government, a cross-section of views on the issues would be available and a satisfactory resolution of the grievances reached, including, if necessary, a dismantling of the region.
Somehow, a certain segment of the population, particularly these with a vested interest in the continuance or even the growth of regional government, believe that once the new level of administration is firmly entrenched and the new palace for regional headquarters erected, the region is untouchable forever.
I do not share that point of view, which is why I presented this resolution to this House today. Unlike a bill, a resolution does not compel the provincial government to act upon it or carry out its provision. It does, however, allow members of this assembly from all parties, on an individual basis, to indicate their trust and confidence in the common sense of the people of Ontario.
Mr. Swart: I want to commend immediately the member for St. Catharines for bringing forth this resolution. I know from what he has said that it is being used to express dissatisfaction with regional government, and let me say that I share his view very strongly that that dissatisfaction is very real and that regional government isn’t justified.
In spite of the fact that we all recognize changes always attract opposition, in spite of the fact that the benefits of regional government, whatever they are or may be, are relatively long term, the fact still remains that regional government is not acceptable and I really don’t think that in all cases and perhaps in any case, it is going to be effective.
Mr. Conway: What do you think of the mayor of Welland?
Mr. Foulds: More than he thinks of you.
Mr. Swart: Proof that it is not acceptable was given me by my survey in the constituency leaflet put out towards the end of December 1976. Out of 416 replies, 15.8 per cent of the people were in favour of regional government, 75.2 per cent were against and 9.8 per cent were undecided.
I suggest that in any regional government across this province, you would find a similar breakdown of public opinion. Members of this House may know that I did a rather extensive financial study a year and a half ago with figures from the municipal blue book, all government figures, comparing cities in the province.
There were 10 cities within regional governments and 10 outside regional governments. Without taking the time to read all the names of those cities into the record, I compared, for instance, Waterloo with Sarnia -- Sarnia is out, Waterloo is in. They have about the same growth rate, about the same population. I compared Sudbury with Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay with one level of government, Sudbury with a regional government.
The end result of that survey was that the average expenditure per household, which perhaps is just as good a way as you can find for determining the efficiency of government, in the non-regional cities was $919. Within regional government it was $1,162, just about 25 per cent higher in those cities which are part of regional government.
I also did a survey of the towns and townships, and although the difference was not as great, in every case there was a substantial difference, with much greater municipal costs inside those municipalities that are within regional governments compared with those that aren’t. Of course, this is due to overlapping, split jurisdiction, and the unacceptability of regional government.
So I share the view expressed by the member for St. Catharines and know in that region, what he has said is valid and applies across the rest of the province.
I want to deal now with the motion. I’d just say to the member for Erie, because he made this comment a number of times; if he checks the record he will find out that my proposals bear no relationship to the kinds of regional government that we have in this province.
Mr. Haggerty: You were all for it 10 years ago.
Mr. Swart: This motion, Mr. Speaker, has two parts. One is to authorize a plebiscite within the regions and, if there is one municipality in that region that overwhelmingly wants a review of regional government and a general government committee, it shall be reviewed. That’s my interpretation; it may be wrong. I say to you, I support that with some enthusiasm.
The second part says: “There shall be no restructuring of local government without a plebiscite,” and there I have some difference with it.
I think if there is substantial dissatisfaction in a region there should be a consideration given to it. In fact, I presented a motion in the House a year or so ago which called for a general government committee to do exactly that. It was a rather comprehensive resolution. Again, I won’t take time to read it. That’s the place where it should be done where there is an all-party committee.
Mr. Haggerty: He is coming down hard on both sides.
Mr. Martel: Late as usual.
Mr. Swart: But, the first part I must draw to the attention of this House is that section of the resolution that says: “No restructuring shall take place without a plebiscite.” This poses real difficulty.
First of all, how do we define a municipality effectively if a regional government is going to be formed, or even a change made through annexation? Who does this affect? Would the member leave out a municipality right in the centre of some restructured county if the rest of the people voted for it? If the city was to annex part of the rural municipality in a county, would this mean the whole county would vote on it? Would just the city, or not the city, or the municipality that was going to be partly annexed vote, because they’ll all be affected by this?
Mr. Haggerty: Like they did in Welland county, Mel. There were no votes at all.
Mr. Swart: I point out it incorporates some real practical difficulties. I’m against the principle of the plebiscite being the final deciding factor. That’s not easy to say because it has a lot of appeal. People like the right to vote on what is going to happen. But I think we all know that, constitutionally, the government has the legal right and must retain that right, whether it’s regarding school boards, whether it’s regarding improvement districts, or whether it’s regarding annexation when they’re forming restructured counties. Now, constitutionally, that authority rests with them. Perhaps that is as it should be, because in many of these instances, there is an overall provincial interest. There may be the quality of services to consider in other municipalities. There’s the question of planning for the areas we are going to plan, and with what it leaves other municipalities if you annex a part of a municipality. There is an overall provincial interest here.
Secondly, municipality councils do have a vested interest. I’m not at all sure one can expect a council to be neutral in questions of annexation or restructuring of government and, therefore, they have a great influence on the local people. I think where there is an overall land-use plan, or any other thing that affects the public generally, the government has to take responsibility for that. If we say the people should have a plebiscite on this, then I think we should say the people should have a plebiscite on official plans in their local municipalities. That’s already been pointed out in the previous debate. This has a great effect on land. Are we going to go to the plebiscite on such things as seatbelts, capital punishment and going to war? There are no plebiscites on that.
I believe in the principle that governments should govern. They have to take stands some time, even if they are unpopular. I don’t disagree that the government has exercised a power which they have the right to exercise. It’s that they exercise that power wrongly and without consultation with the people in the area; without giving consideration to the feelings of the people in the area. That’s what I have against the government, not that they have exercised power which they should have the right to exercise. They have not seen fit to consult with the people of the area to get their views and of course, municipalities have the power to have a plebiscite as part of the total input on any structuring changes --
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Swart: -- but the provincial government still should have the power to make those changes.
Mr. Kennedy: I am pleased to join in this debate and hear from the sponsoring member. I commend him for bringing this forward for a good debate. I share the concern that’s expressed by our colleague from Welland-Thorold opposite with respect to the demerits of the plebiscite route. It’s got quite a number of disadvantages and I was going to speak for a few minutes to those.
Prior to that, I don’t share the concern that’s expressed here about the demerits of regional government. Would the member suggest we dismantle Metro? When the announcement was made for Hamilton-Wentworth, I recall his former leader saying this shouldn’t go forward until we have an opportunity to discuss the possibility of Brant county coming in under this form of government.
There are problems in shaking down. There’s no question about it. I can relate more closely to our own area. When regional government came about there, it was some nine or 10 years in the making and I have said this before in the House. We had the Plunkett report and we went on from there. The member for Welland-Thorold talks about lack of consultation. I believe the honourable member who presented the resolution has done so as well. We spent nine to 10 years on it and it would not have been possible to have had more consultation or input than took place. There were interminable studies.
When it was announced, I had two calls about it. One was a complaint that taxes would go up. There was no basis for this. It was a concern expressed. The second was a gentleman who phoned and said, “What happens with library services in the event this goes forward?” Those were the two things.
Since then, there have been certain people who don’t want regional government to work and who use it as the reason for any tax increases. These occur regardless of the structure of government and I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, it isn’t so much the structure of government but the people who are operating that government or this one or the federal one, regardless of the structure.
Local costs are largely at the discretion of local council and this can’t be overlooked. There are economies of scale. We reduced from 10 municipalities to three. Surely in that consolidation and providing for the trunk services such as water and sewer and police and so on, there are economies. Unfortunately, it’s just not simple to weigh these against what might have happened had we not had this form of government. You can look back to Metro -- this form is renowned around the world. Representatives come from other jurisdictions to inquire into it.
But I concur there’s a shakedown period of time until things work and I would have to say ours is doing well. There are a few imperfections and some suggested changes to the bill, and at some point along the way we are going to examine it. Our regional government was based on the report brought forward by county council and it is, in effect, a glorified county council This may be a way to proceed with any needed consolidation where there are obvious benefits.
Two words have been used; I have used “referendum,” I think, and the motion has the word “plebiscite” in it. These should have very limited use. Funk and Wagnall’s dictionary says that plebiscite is “an expression of popular will by means of a vote by the whole people, usually resorted to in changes of the constitution, sovereignty, et cetera,” and, as the honourable member opposite mentioned, in connection with capital punishment and so on.
As for referendum, the dictionary says it is “a submission of a proposed public measure that has been passed upon by a legislature convention to a vote of the people for ratification or rejection.” Probably, as far as the honourable member’s motion is concerned, the word “referendum” might be more appropriate. In any case, we can use them interchangeably and we know what we are speaking of.
What concerns me is that there are different ways, other than the two means suggested above, to secure vital public input. If we go back over the records of the formation of Metro Toronto, for instance, there was a great deal of study in that area. It is strikingly clear that referenda suffer almost disabling infirmities. They weaken the accountability of elected representatives who are elected to make these decisions, and in many instances there are all kinds of resource materials to draw on.
Referenda and plebiscites compound the difficulties of forward-thinking elected representatives by orienting the public mind in reaction to problems that have developed instead of offering politicians the gift of fresh thought to the problems that we have. They seriously undermine the substantive input of hard-working private citizens who prepare material and come forward with it. These people so many times come forward with well-developed briefs and submissions.
I believe that referenda or plebiscites could effectively water down these forms of public input in that people might think this will solve everything without great discussion. They perpetuate the myth that today’s political environment embraces independent problems of simplicity, and they ignore -- and again I am referring to the member for Welland-Thorold -- the interlocking of the various components that go into making up a political decision.
The decisions that are made are often the result of compromise in politics; it’s the art of the possible, as has been cited on numerous occasions. We press for better services here and for lower taxes elsewhere. It is very difficult for this form of consultation to acquaint the public with all the factors involved. There is no opportunity in a plebiscite or referendum to express therein the actual degree of one’s convictions. An opinion, whether a strong one or a mild one, comes out the same in a referendum.
A more subtle point: Referenda contain the implicit assumption that the process of ordering priorities has already taken place, and they distort arbitrarily the value of the decision to be made relative to other decisions for which there is no referendum taking place.
In summary, they hold forth the false promise of a simple remedy to often very complex problems. I think what we lack with those is the widespread appreciation that comes forward through the organic evolution, which is what has occurred in the instances I have cited in regional government. It’s just not as simple as yes or no or ayes and nays.
There’s one central component of government that must never change and that’s the bottom line accountability. Since we’re forced today by the complexities of society to greater and greater reliance on the advice of experts and technocrats, we must reaffirm our pledge to the people that the buck stops here.
I opened with a certain stage in political history. Let me underline that the reasons for a referendum must be so clear and so compelling and so urgent that is is the question on the ballot --
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Kennedy: -- that is for debate and not the ballot itself that occupies us. Again, I am pleased the honourable member brought it forward, but I won’t be able to support it.
Mr. Blundy: I want to congratulate the member for St. Catharines for bringing forth this resolution because it is giving members of this House an opportunity to really take a hard look at the establishment of various regional governments throughout the province in the past and the amount of education of the electorate that went ahead of the establishment of many regional governments in the past.
I’m not here in this debate today to debate the merit or the demerits of regional government. I believe from what I know there are some areas of the province which feel that they are being better served by some form of reorganization of their government or regional government. There are other areas in the province, quite obviously, which feel they are not satisfied with existing regional government and they don’t know what to do about it. I am here to speak on behalf of the individual voter in the province of Ontario on a matter that is important to him and to her.
When we are talking about having a regional government, in my opinion, we’re talking about the creation of a fourth level of government over and above the three levels we now have. If we’re going to have a fourth level of government it is going to have to have a budget. It is going to have to impose taxes. The individual in the municipality is going to have to pay taxes to a fourth level of government. If that argument is true -- and I believe it is -- then why should the individual not have the opportunity, if he or she is going to have to pay taxes to a fourth level of government, have the right to say what they believe should be done in their area. I think it is very important that they do have the opportunity to say what is going to happen when another level of taxation is to be placed on them.
I would like for a moment to tell the members about circumstances in the area from which I come and which I represent. Back in 1966, an application for annexation of a part of the surrounding territory was made by the city of Sarnia. At that time, a hearing was held and the chairman of the Ontario Municipal Board said he thought far too small an application was being made. He suggested that a deep study of the need in the area and a well-documented brief be prepared and the applicants should go back before the municipal board. He threw out the original application.
The city of Sarnia did exactly as they were told. They hired consultants and they got a great application going that was documented in every respect. Two or three years later it was brought before another hearing of the Ontario Municipal Board, and after a very exhaustive hearing, two and a half weeks or longer, the application was turned down without an acre.
Everybody wondered whatever happened to that. I know what happened to it and I’ll tell you, Mr. Speaker. I’m sure it comes as no secret that the Ontario Municipal Board was influenced by certain people over on the government benches to do exactly as they did, because it was absolutely the last thing that anybody thought they would’ve done.
Anyway, here it is 12 years later, and the present people in the municipality are talking about the same thing and have not been able to do anything about it. You can’t tell me the people of that area are not well informed now. It is up to the municipality, up to the local politician, to inform the people of the pros and cons of any such new government structure, and I believe these people will make an intelligent decision in the matter.
When I look back on my own municipal career, I can think of several questions put on the ballot paper, and the people who favoured those questions and the people who were against those questions took all kinds of pain to instruct and to educate the electors on the question. If you look back, traditionally you will find in the long run, the voters have made the right decision. After all, members have to agree we’re here by the choice of the voters.
There are areas in this province that I am sure could benefit by some form of regional government. That has been shown. We, as politicians, should not be afraid to ask the people of our municipalities to give us the benefit of their opinion. I trust them; I know if they are presented with the facts they will make the right decision.
I would like to conclude by saying we ought to give very serious consideration to the resolution before us. I know the government members on the other side, who in my opinion have imposed regional government in areas throughout this province in the past and who have denied the wishes and the feelings of many people in this province, will probably take no action whatsoever on this resolution. But at least the people will know that some in this House have spoken out for the democratic right, and indeed for the intelligence of the individual voters in the province of Ontario.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Breaugh: I rise to speak in support of this particular resolution. I have some reluctance because some of the concepts expressed in this resolution are a little unworkable. I see that posing some difficulty. This basic concept of putting the notion through a referendum or plebiscite, that is asking the population at large to make a well- informed judgement on the technicalities of setting up a form of regional government, or deciding how that government is run, causes me some difficulties. So I have some hesitation in it; but nonetheless the basic principle that is expressed, that’s certainly a supportable notion.
I am one who would speak in support of the concept of regional government as a rationalization of local government in any province, or in any jurisdiction you would care to have. I could be convinced the matter before the House now, in the form of this resolution, could be put into a workable format at some point in time.
It strikes me if we can put to a plebiscite, a referendum, what name a region will go by, then we have accepted the notion the people at large are capable and competent to make a judgement. We have already done that; that has been done in several referendums, plebiscites or whatever name members would care to put on these things. This has been put to the people in a number of regions already in existence in Ontario.
The problem is, do the people at large ever get a chance to say yes or no, in a simple or complicated form, to whether or not they want this form of regional government imposed on them. This is an interesting problem, because they never have; not in my experience anyway. I go back to the simple concept of regional government in its first instance as it appears to someone I met on the street in my own riding the other day. He put it most succinctly. He said “regional government stinks.” I think that is a reasonably accurate quote you could hear in many parts of this province. In particular, I suspect, in any place where there was a form of regional government in operation, one would find a substantial number of the population paraphrasing that remark. It has not worked well, in our experience.
I think, in part, the reason it has been to a large degree a failure in this province is the way the government has chosen to go about it. I lived through the experience where consultation supposedly took place with the local council and with the public at large. I have attended, if members can believe it, public meetings to which the public was not invited. Nor were they allowed to speak at the meetings. That seems a little ridiculous, but that happens.
I have seen, in a number of instances, the kind of meandering kind of consultation process that goes on back and forth between the government and local authorities. It is interesting to note that in many cases the local authorities consulted are not the elected authorities at all but staff people. I find that a rather interesting proposition. I have seen consultation to a degree, in the form of the usual formal public hearings. I have seen ministers of the crown and staff from various ministries there in body but not in spirit. They certainly did not take the message home. One would be hard pressed to see any concrete results of that consultation process in the end result.
We have seen, in my own area for example, the government getting into some interesting problems in terms of the concept of regional government. Running into OHAP agreements is an example. They ran into millions of dollars, and then the government finally admitted the region could not afford to do that. The regional council said, “there is no way; though at one time we signed agreements there is no way that we can continue with these things. They will bankrupt the joint.” The government responded by saying, “you can’t take it all in one gulp, we’ll let you take it in a few more steps.”
It is a concept that is hard-pressed for defence in this province. I go back to the initial principle expressed in this resolution. At some point in time someone has to put the matter to the population at large. It has been put to us in this House this afternoon that it is a horribly complicated business; yes it is. It has been put to us that some accountability has to be put in it; yes, I would agree with that. But I want to see the accountability expressed on the part of those who are proposing forms of regional government to the people of this province; I think that is the important basic principle that needs to be solved, or to be addressed anyway.
To deny we could ever put this to the population at large in plebiscite form, or in referendum form, rather denies the fact we have all kinds of very talented people working at all levels of government in this province. They have put together the most monumental pile of paper, reports, analyses and recommendations that the world has ever known. We have some extremely competent people in municipal politics and in provincial politics; even in federal politics there are a few. This would deny that all of that talent can be put together to express to the people, in a way they would understand and in a way in which they could make a sensible decision, what are the complexities of all of this.
I heard members, newly elected to this House this time, say what was said in the fall of 1975 when many who were elected representing this party came from regional government areas. Most of us were gracious enough to thank the Conservative Party for putting in regional government because it enabled many New Democrats to get elected. I suspect in many other areas of the province of Ontario if this government continues to put in regional government in the same way it has to date, and if it responds to the needs of existing regional governments in the same way that it has to date, it will continue gradually to ensure that it never elects anybody else again in this province.
That’s posing some very difficult problems for the government, I suggest, but the most difficult one is for those of us who live in regions. We’re not dealing with theory any more; we’re dealing with tax bills that are far different, far more difficult to understand and just plainly a lot more money than we’ve ever seen before. If we were to argue there’s a level of service that’s better than was there before it’s true in some instances, but I would have to report in my findings, from my investigations of regional governments around Ontario, people were asking for simple services to be provided. They had never had a decent water service provided to their community before, they now wind up with a level of service they didn’t want, they didn’t expect and they can’t pay for. They are very anxious to express their concern in some way.
They expressed that during the course of provincial elections and they will express it in an indirect way again in the course of municipal elections that will happen this fall; but they never get the opportunity that they so desperately want to look at something that says specifically: “Do you like the concept of regional government that’s here? Do you like the concept of regional government that we’re now proposing for your area?” That’s an important thing. I’ve heard various arguments about how the local council ought to be held accountable; but they didn’t propose the concept in the first instance, the government did.
Mr. Hodgson: That’s not right in all cases.
Mr. Breaugh: I have heard the argument:
“Well, let them get kicked out then at the next provincial election.” I’m not opposed to that, for sure; I love to see that happen. Again, they never get to address themselves succinctly and specifically to the matter of regional government in their area in that way.
I would suggest to this House there are a large number of people in the population who are anxious to express their opinion at the ballot box, which surely is their right, on whatever form of regional government is either being proposed or is in place.
I have listened for some time now to this government and its various ministers say they do consult. I grant that in their own inimitable manner they consult, but they never ask the people directly and they never give them an opportunity to say yes or no. I think there’s very good reason why they don’t do that. They know what the answer will be. Even if they did, they’d never express a commitment that they will abide by the local people’s wish in this particular regard.
To sum up, I believe that the resolution has some merit. The merit may well be minuscule and it may only have to deal with the principle of whether or not the people who pay the bill ever get a chance to say whether they like what they’re buying. They never do and they never have.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: That’s not true.
Mr. Breaugh: I suggest that as long as this government runs the show, they never will. I support wholeheartedly that part of this particular bill, namely that some mechanism be found to provide the people in regions, whether they are already in place or whether they are being proposed, an opportunity to say yes or no and whether they agree or disagree. Give them lots of time; let them organize forums, let them debate; let local councillors make their position known, let the government make its position known; let everybody run out and do the studies and the reports that will all be done at any rate; let some of those things become public information and a matter of public discussion. I think that is the important matter before this House. I think, frankly, that is an important matter for the survival of municipal politics in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Breaugh: I will close on this one particular note: the principle of the bill is one that is worthwhile for this House to consider. I suggest the mechanics are a little on the ridiculous side, but the principle remains a solid one.
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, before I begin, could I ask how much time I have?
Mr. Stong: Thirty seconds.
An hon. member: Too long.
Mr. Speaker: You have about five minutes.
Mr. Gregory: The resolution, in effect, calls for the denial of the representative system of government in Ontario. In a complex, pluralistic and free society, we entrust our elected representatives to assume positions of leadership in the making of public policy. To ask them simply to become administrators of poll results would destroy the sensitive handling of a vast array of complex human issues that take a great deal of time and patience to weigh and consider. We would agree with those who deplore the trend towards non-political politicians who try desperately to avoid the taint of politics and seek only to be consensus administrators with clean images.
The approach put forward in this particular area of public policy brings a grossly simplistic solution to what is, indeed, a complex issue. Each restructuring of local government has come only at the end of years of study, discussions, hearings, proposals, negotiation and legislative debate, principally among politicians. Surely this is the essence of representative democracy. I think politicians should make public policy and be accountable for the decisions they make and the leadership they provide on thorny issues.
The representatives do seek considered opinions from all those affected by decisions. Public meetings are held, letters are written back and forth and the residents of any given area are urged to inform themselves of the issues and to express themselves. Consensus in these matters is rare. Before arriving at major reforms to deal with such complex problems, we do search out these many views for points of agreement and disagreement; but then, in matters of local government reform, the buck stops at the provincial cabinet.
The provincial government must take responsibility for the timing and degree of change. We cannot pass the buck, nor do we choose to. I take the view that at some point the rhetoric must cease and the action begin. Even if the use of plebiscites had some redeeming value in our system, has any thought been given as to how effective a tool for policy formation it might be? Would it be a simple yes or no? If so, would that mean, if no, all aspects of the restructuring are rejected -- boundaries, responsibilities, representation, special purpose bodies, finance -- or just some of those? And if so, which ones?
If the plebiscite is detailed, what does the politician do if essential aspects of the package are turned down while others are accepted? And if 30 per cent of eligible voters turn out, how does the politician interpret the fact that 70 per cent didn’t bother to turn out for what is, after all, fundamentally a protest or affirmation vote? Who would then be governing the community and be accountable for public policy?
No; the making of public policy in any effective way is simply not suited to doing number counts. The people of Ontario, in our view, wish to relate to their politicians -- those who act on their behalf -- in much more sophisticated and enlightened ways than the ones suggested by this resolution.
In the region I represent, the region of Peel, I go back many years with the background and the information gathering that was done by the then politicians to determine what the area of Peel should be in the future.
At that point there was -- and this may come as a surprise to the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) -- a four-tier system under a county structure. So it’s no change having a region. In the county of Peel the vote was unanimous to accept regional government, and that came from members of council who belong to all political stripes. Opposition has come only since the election of certain politicians who have decided this is the way to their success -- to oppose and destroy rather than offer a sensible alternative.
If the members opposite wish to make all their decisions on the basis of nose counts, then I would suggest they are not truly representing those people that they purport to represent.
Mr. Haggerty: That is why we are in a minority government today.
Mr. Speaker: The member from the Garden City.
Mr. Bradley: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for that reference as well. I must say, in conclusion, that I respect very much the opinions expressed by members from all sides of the House this afternoon and appreciate their input very much. As the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) indicated at the commencement of his speech this afternoon, this resolution has given the opportunity for members in this Legislature, on an individual basis, to express their concerns about regional government; or what they feel are some of the positive aspects of regional government, as we have heard.
I recognize, as well as others, that a resolution of this nature is very difficult to word so that it will gain the approval of the majority of members of this House. Indeed, there are problems with the wording of almost any resolution which is as complicated as this.
I also listened with a good deal of care to the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy), who I think gave some rather useful comments on his opinions on referendums and plebiscites. I do not necessarily agree with him, but certainly he did advance the other side of the argument to a great extent.
I would say that the provision of these services which he mentioned does not necessarily have to be done under the auspices of a new structure of government. Many of these activities have taken place in the past under intermunicipal agreements which took place without a regional engineer or without a regional council --
An hon. member: The Ontario Water Resources Commission.
Mr. Bradley: -- and the final arbitrator of the dispute was the Ontario Municipal Board, which we assume is an impartial body.
What I see as a problem in my specific area is that where there’s a need for an intermunicipal agreement now between area municipalities, the iron fist of the regional council rules in effect and it’s simply a matter of getting enough votes from the people in the rest of the region, who do not necessarily have a vested interest in the agreement, to ram it through the regional council. I do think that the Ontario Municipal Board, although it has been subjected to a lot of criticism, did serve a useful purpose in that regard. But I appreciate the positive comments of the member for Mississauga South.
The member for Oshawa, I think, echoes and speaks of a feeling that all of us who live in regional areas would express. Certainly the comment that regional government stinks has been heard on many occasions. It may not be very eloquent or very articulate to say so, but it probably puts in a nutshell the opinions of many of the people in areas that are under the jurisdiction of regional government.
I would say as well that I was happy to hear the member for Oshawa dwell on the aspect of asking the people to speak in a direct way on one question. We have never seen the opportunity for the people to say they like or dislike regional government. They must vote for the member for Oshawa on the merits of his fine personality, his background or the service to his constituents but not as well as whether or not they feel that regional government is a useful exercise. This resolution would work towards giving them that particular opportunity.
In conclusion, I emphasize as well that this is a resolution of the House and not a firm commitment on the part of the government to put it into action. It’s an opinion that can be expressed by all members of this House in terms of allowing the people, with their common sense and their reasonable attitude, to pass judgement on something that’s going to affect them, not only monetarily but also in terms of their social future.
I thank all members of the House for participating, and I hope that we will vote according to our consciences and our own individual idiosyncrasies rather than our political affiliations.
LAND USE REGISTRATION
The House divided on resolution 15 which was approved on the following vote:
Reid, T. P.
Yakabuski -- 55.
Wiseman -- 11.
Ayes 55; nays 11.
PLEBISCITES ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Sufficient members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on motion 14.
Mr. Lewis: Do members know what they missed? A difference of opinion in the NDP; it would have been legendary.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Why didn’t the member tell us before?
Mr. Lewis: We did; it is too late.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with custom, I thought perhaps we would review the business of the House for the coming week.
Mr. Nixon: What’s happening tonight?
Mr. Grossman: I’m sure I needn’t remind members that the budget debate will continue this evening with an excellent few moments delivered by my colleague, the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams).
Mr. Nixon: It’s up to the Tories to provide a quorum.
Mr. Martel: Are you coming tonight, Larry?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will see you all back here at 8 o’clock.
Mr. Cunningham: Don’t bet on that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As I needn’t remind members, I am sure, we will not see them tomorrow, the House will not sit tomorrow.
Mr. Nixon: Ah, Larry, quit fooling around.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And indeed will not sit on Monday.
Mr. Cunningham: You won’t see us tonight.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: On Tuesday the House will resume, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: Gee, there is a lot of important legislation on the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: On Tuesday the House will resume, with the following legislation to be considered in this order: Bill 66, second reading and committee; Bill 71, committee stage; and Bill 86, second reading and committee stage. If there’s time remaining, we will continue with the budget debate.
On Tuesday, I repeat again, the House will adjourn at 5 p.m. for the reception in honour of Premier Levesque and resume again at 8 p.m. On Wednesday, as is the custom, resources development committee, general government committee and justice committee may all sit in the morning.
Thursday afternoon will be private members’ public business, with Bill 88 standing in the name of the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) and Bill 57 standing in the name of the member for York East (Mr. Elgie). In the evening we will continue with the budget debate. On Friday the House will be in committee of supply for the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
The House recessed at 6:08 p.m.