32e législature, 1re session


The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.


Mr. Philip moved the adoption of the report of the standing committee on the administration of justice on the Ontario Housing Corporation and Local Housing Authorities.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be the first speaker on the report of the standing committee on administration of justice, of which I was the chairman for several years under the minority government situation.

During that time, our committee had the very great services of an excellent clerk who behaved in a very professional, very competent and very impartial manner. Smirle Forsyth, the clerk of our committee, certainly deserves a great deal of credit for assisting us in putting together this report and assisting us in dealing with the various deputations and making sure that all points of view were heard and that anyone who had any input or wished to have any input into our committee's deliberations was heard and heard in a way that certainly would lead to a fair consideration of the point of view.

I also feel that a great deal of thanks must be given to Gerry Richmond and Merike Madisso, the two researchers who were assigned to us by the library research department. Certainly these people showed they not only had ability as researchers but also an empathy for the kinds of problems we were looking at, a professional manner, an objective manner, and they didn't look at the clock when it came to doing work for the committee. I think this Legislature is well served by those two people and I hope we can count on their services for many years to come, because they certainly were very valuable to us in our committee deliberations and in preparing certain facts and certain information which we as members of the Legislature needed.

From September until December of 1980 --

Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I do not see a quorum.

Mr. Speaker called for the quorum bells.

8:08 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker: A quorum has been recorded. Mr. Philip, will you continue your remarks?

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying when we temporarily recessed, there are a number of people who must be thanked for service to the committee, not only in the matter that is before us tonight but also over the years in which I served as chairman of that committee.

In this particular matter, of course, Mr. Doug Arnott acted as the clerk of our committee and worked closely with our regular clerk and did an excellent job in serving the needs of this committee. He must be congratulated on his service to us.

During the last three years, there was also one gentleman who served a very important function for our committee. Perhaps his services were not needed so often in the deliberations of the committee on the Ontario Housing Corporation matter but certainly in other matters that appeared before the committee, and of course that was Thomas Stelling, Sergeant at Arms, who delivered certain documents to certain people, often when they were unreceptive or least receptive to receiving those documents. My suspicion is that his services in delivering warrants may not be used quite so frequently under the majority government.

8:10 p.m.

Dealing specifically with the matter before us from September to December 1980, the standing committee on administration of justice accepted representations from individual OHC tenants and from tenant associations on virtually every matter related to the Ontario Housing Corporation.

These groups went to considerable effort to make their views known to us. The presentations that came before us were excellent, the people who came before us were well informed and the committee must certainly thank these groups for their contribution to our work, regardless of what their political or philosophical persuasion might be.

The resulting 119 recommendations tabled in the form of this report before the Legislative Assembly go a long way towards addressing the major concerns raised by tenants. That is what this report is all about. It is about real people who have real concerns, who have suffered in certain ways because of the actions of this government and the insensitivity of OHC. Their concerns and problems must be met. Those concerns and problems are addressed in this report.

This report is about people whom I know not only as an MPP but also as a friend and neighbour. That is what we are dealing with, something that is human, not something that is simply economic. Moreover, since the report deals with the issues of the expansion of public housing and the opening up of eligibility to all needy people, its impact extends to individuals and families who at the present time are not able to obtain housing assistance in any form.

Among the matters raised, the following in particular received considerable attention. Evidence before the committee indicated that current OHC waiting lists do not, for a number of reasons, adequately or accurately reflect the real demand for low and moderate income housing. In the first place, only families with dependent children, people over the age of 60 and physically disabled people are eligible for Ontario Housing. Everyone else is automatically excluded from even putting his name on a waiting list.

Other people who would not apply for assisted housing include those people who are at present making do by renting at below average market rents or by spending less on other items, such as food, so as to pay for their housing. Still others may not apply because of the length of these waiting lists and the length of time it takes to be offered housing.

The committee's answer to this problem was to recommend to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) and to the Ontario Housing Corporation that they measure the total demand for assisted rental housing and then introduce a variety of programs to provide for the necessary housing.

The matter of who is eligible for Ontario Housing was also addressed, with the committee concluding eligibility should be based solely on need; that is, anyone, regardless of age, marital status or number of dependent children, would be eligible for rental assistance and people would get this assistance in order of need. Of course these three groups, the families with children, people over 60 and the physically handicapped, would continue to be eligible.

The committee also recommended current tenants who no longer have dependent children but who are not yet 60 years old be allowed to stay in public housing. The present policy, we were told at the time of the inquiry, was to evict them.

The need for emergency housing was also addressed by the committee. Housing required on short notice because of a marital breakup, domestic violence, sudden financial crisis, eviction or demolition was another important issue that arose in the context of who could make use of publicly assisted housing.

The committee recommended that OHC involve itself in the provision of emergency housing primarily through the use of housing allowances, but also through allocating empty units to hostels, et cetera, for use by battered women.

Of particular interest to current tenants in OHC are the committee's recommendations on transfer and eviction. For example, tenants should have one transfer as a right and any number if they pay associated expenses. Grounds for transfer, namely domestic violence, emotional health and transfer to a co-op, should be considered as valid reasons for transfer. As far as eviction is concerned, tenants should be given security of tenure by means of a one-year lease, and repair and repayment agreements should be used whenever possible to avoid eviction. Written reasons should be provided for both transfer and eviction decisions.

Tenants should have the right to appear with counsel at housing authority board hearings on these matters, and tenants should have the right to appeal to the board of the local housing authority and from there to a tenant appeal board, which each housing authority should establish within its jurisdiction.

Tenants would also be helped by recommendations dealing with vandalism and maintenance. Security patrols should be increased. Live-in building superintendents should be installed wherever possible. Maintenance projects and improvements should be discussed with tenants before they are undertaken, and tenants should be allowed greater scope in improving their units and so forth.

Finally, the committee's recommendations reflect its concern with the question of whether tenants are able to make their views known to OHC management. The committee concluded that they could not under the present system and, therefore, recommended among other things that each OHC project hold an annual meeting for tenants and the project management for the purposes of discussing budget priorities; that each local housing authority board have an elected tenant representative; that each authority have an annual meeting of tenants; that OHC boards of directors and the Minister of Housing meet with tenant representatives yearly; that major changes in policy be made only after consultation with tenant associations; that the program for funding of tenant associations be extended indefinitely; and that the current dollar amounts be doubled.

The committee's report, of course, contains many other very pertinent recommendations. These will no doubt be dealt with by other members of all parties in dealing with the report. Certain staff people, such as Betty Niddrie, now the general manager of Metro Toronto Housing Authority, did respond to our efforts to obtain information and to do as complete an investigation as time permitted. However, the committee did run into evidence of the secrecy that tenants have complained about to MPPs and other people for so many years.

I would like to give just one instance of how we ran into that kind of secrecy in trying to find out information or in trying to obtain assistance from OHC with our inquiry. On September 3, I instructed research to call the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and asked them to review the OHC manual, and particularly to look at those sections which deal with secrecy and with the use of information. We had numerous deputations then who appeared before us and said:. "There are things in files we do not have access to. We do not know what information is in there and we do not know how it is being used. Indeed, we have no opportunity to correct it if it is wrong."

We felt that was a real civil liberties issue and that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association should have an opportunity to deal with that. One of the best ways was to read the Hansards of the testimony we had already received and then review the OHC manual. On September 25, the solicitor for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association called research to request two copies of the OHC manual for their review purposes over the weekend. One would think that would be a simple request. Our researchers for the committee on that very day, September 25, asked the OHC senior solicitor, Mr. R. L. Radford, for copies of the manual. Mr. Radford called research on September 26 and informed them that, on the minister's instructions, no extra copies were available beyond the two copies provided, one copy for the library and one copy for the clerk of the committee.

8:20 p.m.

On the same day, research called Mr. Larry Malloy, executive assistant to the Minister of Housing, to obtain a copy of the manual for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Mr. Malloy said he would look into it and get back, but reiterated the minister's position that the manual had already been provided as outlined above.

Our researchers indicated to him that due to the bulk of the manual, some 800 or 900 pages, it was difficult and wasteful for our committee to have it Xeroxed when OHC had several copies it could lend us for the weekend. It did not make sense, not only in terms of our time but economically. Research indicated it would be wasteful and a waste of time.

Mr. Malloy expressed reluctance for the manual to "get into the hands of outsiders since the manual may be outdated." That is great. Here they are operating with a manual and the minister's top brass then say, "We cannot let that go out to the public because it may be outdated." One wonders what kind of decisions were made with an outdated manual.

That is not the point. The point here is that research then indicated the Canadian Civil Liberties Association would be reviewing the manual the next day and returning it.

They said: "Just lend us a couple of copies. You are going to get it back. Even if it is outdated, at least it is the manual. It is something they want to examine. There is little chance for the manual to get out of date. It is only going to be away for a weekend. Unless you are going to make changes on the weekend, it won't be out of date unless it is already out of date. Furthermore, it is Housing's responsibility to keep the manual updated. We assume we will get an updated manual. If you cannot provide an updated manual, what kind of incompetence is that?"

That is not what research said but, of course, that is the logical conclusion. Mr. Malloy also expressed reservations that copies of the manual would be made by outsiders. Research responded the manual either was available or it was not.

There was an interesting irony at that time. The Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Pope) had recently been sanctioned to develop government freedom of information policy. Here was the government talking about freedom of information and it would not let two copies of its manual go out to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which, of all the groups in society, is surely the group most interested in freedom of information.

On September 3, Mr. R. M. Dillon, the deputy minister, indicated the minister would cooperate with the justice committee. Then, 20 days later, we had an example of that cooperation.

The sad point is that because of all this waste of time, because of the inability to get those copies of the manual at a time when the Canadian Civil Liberties Association lawyers had set aside some time on the weekend to deal with it, the committee never did get representations from that body.

It is a double tragedy. It is a tragedy that an important group in our society, one that is concerned about people's freedom, was denied the manuals and because of that was unable to make representations to our committee. We lost, the civil liberties association lost and I think, in a certain way, the Minister of Housing lost.

We have not had any indication that freedom of information or the lack of secrecy has been improved all that much since the publishing of the report of the Commission on Freedom of Information and Individual Privacy.

I refer the minister and members of the House to a Globe and Mail article on May 13. When we are dealing with freedom we can go through the external processes of freedom, we can go through the setup mechanisms, but unless we really have the heart and the determination to provide the conditions of freedom then it will never exist.

I would like to refer to this article, because here it shows how the Metro Toronto Housing Authority tries to take the letter of this report and completely violates the spirit of the report. I will read just how they deal with listening to public deputations. Here is what the article says: "While it will listen in public to deputations, the authority will make decisions in private, notifying the individual or organization later. There will be no public discussion between delegates and staff of the authority during the meetings. Delegates will not be heard without a written invitation."

One wonders, has the Ontario Housing Corporation not learned anything from some of the sweat and tears that the tenants put into some of these representations before us? What kind of system has that kind of formality and that kind of structure, which inhibits real dialogue, real understanding? Surely this is a process to limit any kind of discussion, any kind of meaningful dialogue, any kind of criticism, be it constructive or otherwise, from the public or from the tenants.

In a similar vein, one person who showed very little enthusiasm for the inquiry was the Minister of Housing. As chairman of the justice committee for several years I was used to conducting various types of inquiries and presiding over bills with various kinds of public hearings, and I expected from the performance of other ministries that the minister, or if the minister was not available at least his parliamentary assistant, would be present to listen to the delegations, to meet with them, to have an occasional cup of coffee afterwards, to try to understand what the problem was.

When I discovered, to my disappointment, that the minister was not available I called and spoke to -- I am not sure whether it was the deputy minister or the assistant deputy minister -- and I said, "Are you telling me the minister is not coming?" He said, "That is right." I said, "Well, what about the parliamentary assistant to the minister?" and he said, "I do not know about that." I said, "Who is the parliamentary assistant to the minister?" He did not know.

Here we are paying a back-bencher $5,000, or whatever it is as parliamentary assistant, supposedly to be doing something in a ministry, and the very top executive officers of that ministry did not know who the parliamentary assistant to the minister was. I know that in the Attorney General's office they knew who the parliamentary assistant to the minister was. The member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) was at any kind of hearing when the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) was not present, and whenever it was not possible for one or the other to be present at those kinds of hearings we got a formal written apology saying that for this reason or that reason they hoped we would understand. Indeed, if ever that did not happen the then member for St. George, Mrs. Campbell, and the then member for Lakeshore, Mr. Lawlor, were on their feet asking why there was not someone there who could talk about policy from the minister's standpoint.

So it is not a government phenomenon, but it is a phenomenon of this ministry that it has the arrogance not to send anybody who could talk about policy. Of course, when the minister finally did come he did not really talk about policy anyway. What he did, basically, was criticize every deputation that had come before the committee. Oh, he may have forgotten a few. He showed up on October 22, he gave a prepared speech, which was written down and contained not one positive indication. He did not even compliment the board of trade on its presentation. One would think he would at least compliment some of his friends.

8:30 p.m.

More important, he gave no positive indication that he was willing to show any kind of leadership to his staff in the implementing of the recommendations that were forthcoming from all of the various deputations that came before us.

As I will not have an opportunity after the minister speaks -- I understand he wants to conclude the debate on this -- I would like to deal with his statements of policy, as I saw them, in his appearance before that committee.

First, on demand and supply, the minister stated, "Ontario Housing Corporation has observed an overall shrinkage in its waiting list of applicants for assisted housing." It is on page three of the Hansard of that day. But a September 1980 Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department study on the portability of housing in Metropolitan Toronto stated, "In summary it is estimated that there are 90,800 households in Metropolitan Toronto, as of the beginning of 1980, who cannot afford to house themselves adequately, yet we are trying to cope in the private market."

So here is the minister having the audacity to say there is no need and here is the Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department showing there is clearly a need. Any MPP knows that right now there is a minimum three-month waiting list, except in a few rare cases, to get anybody into Ontario Housing.

The committee was informed that 1,800 rent supplement units have been taken off the market since 1978, and the minister chose to ignore that fact as well.

On emergency housing, the minister suggested that organizations such as the Salvation Army are far better organized and equipped to come up with temporary shelter when it is needed. I am sure the Sally Ann will be happy to know the minister is offering their services. But maybe they are not ready or do not have the resources to provide those services, and who is the minister to tell the Sally Ann they can do his job?

The committee recommended -- recommendations 27 and 28 -- that housing allowances and empty units in OHC be used for emergency housing, and the minister admitted that OHC has vacant units available in certain parts of the community. We developed a very elaborate set of proposals in conjunction with input from OHC tenant groups on how that kind of thing could be done without any kind of disruption to the existing tenants.

I guess the saddest item in the minister's report to us was his view on tenant representation. The minister stated he would not accede to any request that true tenant representation be provided for local housing authority boards. He said, "In my view, tenants should not be appointed as representatives of organized senior citizen groups or of groups of handicapped persons or tenants generally, because this would provide an opportunity for that particular group to advance its interests, perhaps at the expense of other tenants."

How can someone who represents tenants generally possibly advance the interests of one group? Surely if they are elected generally they represent all of the people. What group has greater interest in the running of OHC than the people who live in it?

Last, one must ask why the minister is so afraid of his own tenants. He seems so afraid to allow them to elect someone of their own choosing -- not to control the board but to have input. Why is he so afraid of the people? I guess that is something perhaps the minister or his counsellors can figure out. Perhaps it is something in his own psyche that is missing or that is a problem, that creates that kind of paranoia on his part.

Another matter on which I think the minister disappointed everyone was his view on the right to privacy. If you can believe this, Mr. Speaker, the minister admitted that in order to discourage an Ottawa woman from sitting on the local housing authority board he threatened to open up to public scrutiny the personal file that OHC keeps on her and on all tenants. Is that not an amazing admission? Check Hansard. It is there. He said it.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Read the whole statement.

Mr. Philip: I will read a little bit more of it. "I wrote to her personally, and to those supporting her, that if she wished to have her file brought forward and put into public display and have the housing authority and the minister present to respond to it, I would be delighted to do so." It is on page 25 of Hansard for that day.

The committee has the following view on the subject. "As far as the right of privacy is concerned, the committee heard testimony on the subject of the nature and function of the files that OHC keeps on its tenants -- files which may contain statements from previous landlords, communications from social and financial agencies, complaints about the tenant, et cetera." These complaints may be from other tenants. "This is the kind of information on which the local housing authority may base its decision as to whether the applicant will be a desirable tenant and therefore eligible for accommodation. Nor are these files immune to abuse of another kind: For example, information in a tenant's file has been used to deny appointment to a housing authority board." This is the case.

We recommended, "That tenants be guaranteed a right of access to personal files and a right to file a rebuttal to any information therein."

Perhaps at some time in your life, Mr. Speaker, you have checked your own credit rating. You have that authority under law, but Ontario Housing tenants cannot see their own files to find out what information may be used, no matter how fallacious that information may be.

We also recommended, "That OHC instruct all local housing authorities to limit the content of personal files to information related to the assessment of rent and the grounds for eviction." That, surely, is the only information that it should be concerned about.

I have dealt with the recommendations of the report. I have dealt with some of the opinions expressed by the minister. I would like to speak for just a short time on something else, because I know the other members, including members of the Liberal Party, have been very upset by statements made in the minority report turned in by the members of the Conservative Party in the committee.

I must say that I strongly resent, indeed I feel somewhat hurt at the accusation in the PC minority report that my performance as chairman was not objective. As chairman with a strong interest and knowledge of housing I made every effort to attend all the hearings. In fact, I did attend them, and I familiarized myself with the documentation and evidence presented.

In contrast to some members across the floor, who are now at this time making so much noise, I happened to take my job on the committee seriously and I attended regularly. None of the PC members, except for the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), showed any real serious interest in the committee's business until we were ready to present the report. I do not see how many of the minority report signatories can intelligently comment on the merits of the recommendations when they so frequently missed the hearings.

Throughout the course of the hearings I gave all interested members an opportunity to state their viewpoints, but few members on the government side of the House took that opportunity, again with the exception of the member for Algoma-Manitoulin.

8:40 p.m.

I know that more will probably be said by members of the Liberal Party, including the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), who is quite incensed by the minority accusation against the chair.

Secondly, the minority report deals with the purpose of the Ontario Housing Corporation review. The purpose of an OHC review of this nature, contrary to the Progressive Conservative minority report, is not to heap praise on the existing situation and on the minister. Based upon the testimony, we were to make recommendations and suggestions for establishing improvements.

I am grateful that OHC exists and that certain senior staff people such as Mrs. Niddrie are diligent in their efforts, but they are hamstrung by red tape and by silly regulations frequently set down, sometimes by the housing authorities but emanating from the ministry.

It was our purpose to offer constructive criticism and to help Ontario Housing rather than in any way destroy it, because we believe it should exist and should continue to exist.

The minority report expresses resentment over the presence and participation of a very dedicated public witness, Mr. Saldov from the Metro Tenants Council. Mr. Saldov attended many hearings -- indeed he actively attended -- and his presence was often more in evidence than some of the members of the Conservative side of the House. Early in the hearings, the committee agreed not to turn away those members of the public who wanted to be heard. Mr. Saldov took the time to appear and to participate, as did other groups.

If any committee members disagreed with Mr. Saldov's point of view -- and indeed there were certain points of view which I and other members of my party and members of the Liberal Party disagreed with -- we had an opportunity to express them and we did so.

It is normal during hearings of any committee to allow representations from anyone on key points. The government's point of view was represented daily. There were the OHC officials, Mr. Beesley or other officials, to present the government's, the status quo's point of view. To suggest somehow that listening to the people, listening to someone who would give his time and sweat and who, when we went out into the community we found represented the real interests and views that were being expressed by OHC tenants, that somehow this person should not be able to appear at any time during the hearings and deal with any point that the committee allowed is simply nonsense and is simply another form of the authoritarianism of that government.

The minority report rejects the expansion of OHC's mandate on the grounds that the federal government would not likely costshare such programs. The minister in conjunction with other provinces or on his own might show some leadership by actively approaching the federal government if he wished to expand the mandate. We haven't heard any evidence that he was going to do so.

Emergency housing is an area which requires immediate attention. We watch as this Minister of Housing does absolutely nothing as the centre core of this city becomes more and more only the domain of the rich. We heard testimony and saw evidence of people sleeping in garages, sleeping in Toronto Transit Commission shelters, and yet this minister says: "The federal government will never go along with expanding our mandate, so why worry about it? Let those people die in the streets. Let those people go without housing. Pass them off to the Sally Ann." That's the insensitivity of the minister.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Oh come off it. We aren't talking about the Bronx.

Mr. Piché: You are overdoing it. We've been listening to you, only you are distorting the whole situation.

Mr. Philip: The minister says that is an exaggeration. I suggest to the minister I would be willing to go with him at two o'clock any morning to the underground garages and he will find just how many people are sleeping outside in downtown Toronto, and they are the very people he says do not qualify under his mandate for OHC.

The minority report is also written with the attitude that OHC's role is housing, bricks and mortar. That is how the minister sees his role. He is really a bricks and mortar kind of individual anyway. Social or economic problems of tenants are the responsibilities of other ministries. OHC should not be attempting to deal with the tenants' financial problems that are unrelated to housing. This is the minister's attitude. Assisted housing cannot be separated from the inadequate incomes of tenants. That is something the minister still has not realized. He should take a lead role in advocating improved income and social support services for OHC tenants. It is not enough to say it is the problem of some other ministry, because some other ministry simply is not doing the job.

Another problem with the minority report is it claims it would be impossible for OHC to compute tenant net incomes. However, OHC currently carries out detailed income verification on gross income. Adequate proposals for net income computations have been made by the Metro Toronto Social Planning Council and by other groups. If the will existed to develop a fair system of rent based on net income it could be developed. The minister has the staff who can do it and if they cannot do it they can go to the staff of other political bodies that have already developed the techniques.

The minority report is most critical of the recommendations on image stigma, vandalism, security, maintenance, garbage disposal, those kind of issues. These recommendations they claim, and I quote to you from page 17, "contribute to a negative public perception of public housing." However, those of us who toured Hamilton, Windsor and some of the Metropolitan Toronto OHC projects cannot deny the problems exist. Some of the Conservative members who accompanied myself and other members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party on a tour were quite shocked by some of the conditions they saw and they expressed that on the informal tour we had. One does not solve the problem by ignoring it.

These recommendations, while dealing with sensitive issues, are designed to be constructive and innovative and lead towards a resolution of these problems. It is only by resolving these problems that the image of OHC will improve

-- not only the image to the tenants but also the image to other members in the community.

Lastly, even though some of the Conservative members of the committee expressed concern about tenant representation, when it came to voting they sold out the tenants. The minority report and the minister both concur that they are opposed to greater tenant participation and rights. I quote from the minority report at page 11, "The second myth is that most of the problems in OHC projects will be solved through tenant participation." They call tenant participation a myth. Greater tenant participation, however, as we know from sound management techniques, would go a long way to improving the living environment in OHC. Furthermore, tenant participation would not cost a great deal of money. Indeed, I know from talking to tenants in my own riding that often tenants are the ones who know how to save money in a particular OHC project.

Tenant representation on the housing authority boards is critical. People in OHC deserve improved consultation, not the kind of silly formality that is being implemented by Metro Toronto Housing Authority, but real tenant consultation. The present policy regarding tenant representation by chance on housing authorities is certainly inadequate and opens the OHC and the ministry to the suggestion that only Conservative yes-men will be acceptable.

8:50 p.m.

I am disappointed, as all members of the committee and all members of the House should be, that those people who signed the OHC minority report should allow the minister to act as their ventriloquist in this matter.

The minister said, and I quote from page three of Hansard, "OHC must adjust its policies to meet the changes evolving in our society." Our report offers concrete proposals on how to meet these changes evolving in our society. I challenge the minister to respond and to tell us what he is going to do in implementing this report. I challenge all members to vote for this report. I challenge all members to vote for better Ontario housing.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, as has been indicated, the report we are debating tonight is a result of the annual report for 1979 being referred to the standing committee on administration of justice. That standing committee, which had a number of regular members replaced by alternates, afforded me the opportunity to participate in the various hearings that took place.

I am happy to say the hearings not only took place in Toronto, but also in Kingston, Ottawa, Windsor and Hamilton. The committee had an opportunity to visit sites in those localities as well as in Etobicoke and Scarborough. Based on the various briefs we heard and the various units we saw, I would say we were able to have a fairly complete, unique and objective evaluation of the way the OHC is conducting its business.

Before I go any further, I would like to pay tribute to the OHC staff who participated in the hearings and who were there day after day. I am sure it wreaked havoc with their regular schedules but they were able to answer a number of questions and give information to the committee which was valuable.

I want to express my thanks to Mrs. B. Niddrie, Mr. D. J. Beesley and other people who participated. As well, I extend my thanks and those of my party colleagues to Mr. Forsyth, Mr. Arnott, Ms. Madisso and Mr. J. Richmond, to the various delegations and representations made by individuals and community and municipal groups which sometimes came short distances but, at other times, fairly lengthy distances. We had one group that came from a small rural community in southwestern Ontario which took its whole day out to make a presentation. I think we should obviously be grateful for their input.

The evidence we heard before the committee and the recommendations we made are ample proof the study was worthwhile and the money which obviously was expended in having those hearings was worthwhile, provided the minister and staff at the Ministry of Housing and at OHC take cognizance of those recommendations and take them seriously.

I am glad to see the minister is here today. I was sorry he did not attend more of the meetings at the hearings but, nevertheless he did have a chance to read the reports and to evaluate them as best he could.

With respect to the issues that were discussed at the hearings, one was the demand and supply of rent-geared-to-income housing. It became obvious in the hearings there are not sufficient units available in the province. This was made quite obvious also in the visits we paid to the various municipalities.

The report on Ontario Housing addressed itself to the needs of families, of seniors, of the disabled and handicapped people in the province to a very limited extent. But there are other needs that have to be filled and they are not being filled. I think in all fairness the Minister of Housing should look on this not only as a social problem and as one that should be taken care of by some other ministry but also as a housing problem. He should therefore not only take cognizance of it but do something about it. It is nice to take cognizance of it and then file it away in file 13. I think he really should do something about it.

I remember our visit to Hamilton, for instance, and seeing the various units there and the kinds of problems the families encountered. We were visiting a high-rise, and I think it was probably about 15 to 20 storeys in height. It is unfortunate that families have to live in these high-rise units because it is very difficult for the children to get out and play. There is a very limited amount of recreational facilities available. This is not so evident in the town houses, for instance, that we saw in Etobicoke where people have easy access to their backyards and to the street and can relate more easily to their neighbours.

As a result of the visits we made to these various areas, there are a few recommendations that came forth and one of them was that there should be more flexibility as far as housing needs are concerned in various municipalities. The government should look at the municipalities and try to supply the kind of housing that is required.

In Hamilton, where we saw two high-rises of 15 or 20 storeys each, there was all kinds of land around them. If it had been used for installing walkups or something of that nature, and if those units had been spread over a larger land area, I think those families would not have had the problems we heard about.

There should be more support, of course, for co-operative and nonprofit housing as opposed to rent supplement housing. When there is a tight housing market -- as there is now in Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa and other municipalities across the province -- the landlords obviously like to get as much rental income as they can and they would like to be on the open market rather than give those units to Ontario Housing.

It is my feeling -- and I think the feeling of most members of the committee, if not all -- that the rent supplement is second best to the nonprofit and to the co-operative form of housing. In addition to that there are the social and consultative services that can be provided more easily where there are groups of OHC units.

Another problem I would like to address has to do with vandalism and maintenance. A number of units we saw were well maintained and OHC was doing a fairly good job of looking after them, but I must mention two separate buildings we saw in that one day -- one in Hamilton and one in Windsor. When we walked in the front door of the one in Hamilton, which had families in it, there was a big chunk of plaster out of the wall near the mailboxes. I was astounded to see this and asked the superintendent how long it had been there. He indicated it had been there for some time without being repaired. I think if we want tenants to take some pride in their building, if things are broken -- and this is often due to vandalism, I will agree -- the superintendent or someone there has to be cognizant of it and have it repaired as quickly as possible.

9 p.m.

But what astounded me even more in that unit was the smell in the stairwells, which were not properly painted. There was kind of a musty, dirty smell about the whole place. Further, when we went to use the elevator we saw all kinds of graffiti and so forth on the walls. I said to the superintendent: "Why do you not paint this to give people a sense of pride in the place where they live and so that people will help to look after the place? How often do you paint it?" He said, "We paint it once a year." I said, "Why do you not paint it more frequently?" He said, "If we paint it more frequently, they dirty it anyway."

It is like cleaning your house. He probably only cleans his house once a year because if he cleans it the next day the kids are going to drag in some dirt or some marks are going to be put on the walls. He had the philosophy that if you clean anything it is going to get dirty anyway so why clean it. The other members of the delegation and myself were astounded.

This was the first building we visited and I hoped this philosophy would not be prevalent among OHC superintendents. I was pleased to see when we visited a senior citizen unit in Windsor -- and I agree I am comparing a high-rise family unit with a four-storey facility for senior citizens -- the senior citizen unit was immaculate. It was really spic and span. The people there looked after their units and took pride in them. We asked them about their attitude towards their units and they were very happy to be in them. The superintendent there was very helpful.

I found that in Hamilton, for instance, there seemed to be a lot of friction among the tenants, the staff and the board, and particularly between the OHC authority and the tenants themselves. When we went to Windsor, on the other hand, there seemed to be a lot of camaraderie, a lot of good feeling, and the tenants were not frustrated by what the staff and the authority were doing.

These are two examples. I think that often it is not a reflection of the policies as much as of the personnel the ministry has enforcing the policies. One can draw up any kinds of policies one wishes, but if one does not have the proper staff then the problems are not going to be corrected. Both the Windsor and Hamilton authorities were working under the same kind of policy, but we saw just a tremendous difference between what the two were doing.

I think the minister must be very careful of the kind of people he has in these authorities. I am sure if I had been in charge of the one in Hamilton that superintendent would not have been there the next day after the kind of answers he gave us. The minister can check himself whether that person is still in employment there, but my own feeling was that he certainly was not very interested in the tenants and he was not a good representative of the OHC and the local authority.

When we went to Etobicoke and visited some town houses there were garbage bins very close to some of the units. Some paper was being strewn all over the backyards of some of the neighbours who were complaining about it. They had been complaining about it on a regular basis and that garbage bin had not been moved to a different location where it would not bother the neighbours. Another town house area we saw in Etobicoke had no sod planted and there were all kinds of little fences between various yards. I thought there would have been much more open space without the fences. It would have been more attractive and people would have taken more pride in their units.

There are things the Ministry of Housing and the Ontario Housing Corporation can do to rectify the situation. I want to emphasize again it is not so much a reflection of the policies as it is of the way they are implemented. For instance, we have recommended the frequency of the security patrols be expanded. It would probably be better if these security patrols were a part of the ministry itself rather than being tendered out. If regular meetings could be held with security, police and the tenants themselves as well as OHC, a lot of the problems could be rectified and there would be a better understanding among the various groups of representatives.

Vandal-proof fixtures might be included. In one building we visited, the fixtures were constantly being destroyed and the lights were being knocked out. It was my feeling -- and I think that of the people who visited that unit -- that the staff was trying to do an admirable job in looking after the building. They gave us an excellent reception and answered our questions as honestly as they could.

The lighting fixtures were being destroyed. Somebody would come out at night and break the fixtures, so they were starting to put in vandal-proof fixtures. They are much more expensive but I am sure that over the period of a year the saving would be there and they would pay for themselves.

With respect to the right to information, there is a common problem that arose quite frequently. It is that the policy of OHC was not clear to the various tenant representatives. As the previous speaker has alluded, the Ministry of Housing somehow was not disseminating this information as widely as it could.

It was eager to disseminate information as to the new housing units it was building, the great things it was doing -- and from time to time it is doing some impressive things -- but as far as the regulations with respect to eligibility, rents, transfers, appeals, hearings, funding and so forth are concerned, it was very reluctant to give that out.

I think the tenants will gain a great deal as a result of these hearings particularly if, in addition to the complete binder on its policies, the ministry disseminates this information to the various tenants and tenant organizations in some kind of abbreviated form.

Having sat on the committee that studied Bill 163, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, and again at the hearings on OHC, I felt it was advantageous both to the tenants and the ministry for information to be disseminated freely. Rather than hide this information from tenants, I think the ministry would be well advised to give them the information so they and the ministry can deal from a strong position. No matter what the tenants say, OHC has the final say and it has the funding that goes with it. It should not feel so insecure and weak it cannot even give out the regulations and let the tenants see them freely.

As a result of the hearings, we recommended a new field manual be fully available to tenants and tenant organizations, that the local housing authorities be open to the public and that minutes be kept. I see no reason why this cannot be done. The highest courts in Canada and the province are open, as is this House, and people can come here and listen to the debate on policies. This is where the polices are articulated and finalized.

9:10 p.m.

I cannot understand why housing authorities and our municipal councils are not open to the public. We find that some of our bodies, which often have less authority, are very shy of the camera, and want to have secret meetings and keep their minutes out of the reach of the public because they obviously feel that the public would not understand them. They feel they are much more brilliant and wise than the public out there, and think they should hide everything from the public because they cannot grasp the immensity of the decisions they are making.

I am not talking about issues that concern personnel or property acquisition or litigation or things of this nature. The minister, as he is going to be the new minister of municipal affairs and housing, understands that councils should open up their meetings. He is in agreement that councils should open up all their discussions with the exception of these three or four areas. Why cannot housing authorities do the same thing? Why cannot other organizations, commissions, boards and so forth across the province do the same thing?

That is how the public is going to become less cynical and more involved in the kind of decision making that we have in the province; unless, of course, we want to keep the public out, or we do not want to involve the public in these kinds of decisions.

Another recommendation was that the OHC board meetings keep minutes and be open, and that a public relations campaign be waged to disseminate information to let the public know exactly what OHC is doing.

Finally, I want to deal with the minority report. As members know, the Liberal and New Democratic Parties put in one minority report.

Mr. Philip: A majority report.

Mr. Epp: A majority report. It was a minority-majority report, or a majority-minority report.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize you did not have the benefit of all these discussions in the last session of this House, but nevertheless they were important recommendations. As well as all the other 119 majority recommendations, this minority recommendation was important. It is found on page 47 of the report and it reads that, "Each local housing authority establish a tenant appeal board consisting of an elected tenant representative, an OHC appointed representative, and a third party jointly agreed on by the other two parties, to deal with appeals from an original transfer decision."

The minister has already indicated that he does not believe that the tenant representative should be elected by the tenants. I would take exception to that. I believe the tenants should have some kind of input here and that person should be elected freely from among the tenants. I would think the minister would be interested in having somebody represent the tenants, because these problems they are facing would come to the fore, and open discussion of these various problems would then lead to a quicker resolution of the problem than to have these problems ferment and often become greater in stature than they actually are. I would hope the minister would reconsider his position with respect to that particular recommendation.

I also take issue with the minority report that the Progressive Conservative members on the committee included in the report. I note that on page two of that minority report, they said, "We find that the committee's recommendations give little, if any, credit to OHC and its staff in its efforts to provide affordable housing to many disadvantaged members of our society."

I think, very rightly we gave credit to the staff. I have done it tonight. I did it during the hearings. I appreciate it very much. I told them individually that I appreciated it. We told them at the hearings that we did. I think this is representative of people who were not at the hearings to hear what was going on. I must have attended about 85 to 90 per cent of those hearings, like all the other members except the chairman -- I was not at all of them, but I was at a large majority of them -- and I think the staff were given credit.

For anybody to put that in a report he must feel very sensitive. I do not think it was necessary, and I do not think the staff felt it was necessary, for us to say every day what a great job they were doing. To quote Shakespeare, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." I think the staff did a good job, and I think that was recognized at the committee.

In addition, the minority report here says that, "As a result, we feel that Ontario Housing Corporation, and to some extent the ministry, did not receive an objective hearing before the committee, and this is reflected in some aspects of the committee's report."

I do not recall any time when the committee cut off the ministry personnel -- Mr. Beesley, Mrs. Niddrie or anyone else who represented the ministry. They were always given front seats there with a microphone in front of them. They were asked to give their presentations, and I do not think for a moment that they were deprived of an opportunity to give the committee any and all information they had available.

On page four of that minority report the committee goes on to speak about a number of matters, but it says, "In that context, we repeat that we find a number of the committee's recommendations in its main report unacceptable, or at very least less than accurate, in reflecting the reality of Ontario's assisted-housing programs today."

The subcommittee was made up of a representative of each of the parties: Mr. Lane was on there for the Conservatives, I was on there for the Liberals, and Mr. Cooke was on there for the NDP. I thought the subcommittee dealt with all the matters, and the committee after that had a good opportunity to read the various recommendations. It was not until the very last day or so, when the hearings were actually held, that the Conservatives came out in full force.

Speaking about expansion of mandate and program delivery, the minority report says:

"A number of recommendations and remarks in the main report suggest that OHC should become involved in providing emergency housing, assisted housing for single persons under age 60 (both existing tenants no longer eligible and new applicants) and persons with emotional handicaps.

"While it would be easy to agree with some of these proposals on the basis that they represent 'motherhood' issues, we must suggest that the government, in being fiscally responsible, must continue to set priorities in providing housing assistance."

Nobody is suggesting that the housing authority and the government should not set priorities. What we are saying through this report is that, in drawing their attention to certain problems, they should give greater priority to some of the things they are not giving priority to.

Everybody has acknowledged the fact that the government has the final say on the matter. Somehow or other they belittle the word "motherhood" by saying that, if something is fairly acceptable, if something has a lot of public support, it should be called a "motherhood" issue and therefore should not be accepted. I am sure my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) would take exception to the word "motherhood;" maybe they should use "fatherhood" issues, or something of that nature, to be equal to both sides.

There are other matters I would like to speak on, but there are other members who want to speak on this, and I just want to say finally that the last two paragraphs dealing with the actions of the chairman of the committee are, I think, unfounded and altogether without substance.

It is true that the chairman was very interested in the activities of the committee, as the chairman should be; it is true, to the best of my knowledge, that he attended all the meetings and asked questions of the witnesses, whether they were there presenting briefs or whether they were members of the OHC or housing authorities; and it is true, as indicated earlier, that he participated very actively.

But I take exception to the claim that he was a very partial chairman. I take exception to the claim that he did not conduct himself in the way chairmen should conduct themselves. If the members of the Conservative Party want to put in a minority report of this nature, they should be there during the conduct of those meetings and they should come up with better evidence than mere assumptions, as they have in this case.

Again, I want to take this opportunity of thanking those people who participated in the hearings, both the public and private persons, and commend this report to the government for its adoption.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I want to spend a few minutes speaking about this report. As a relatively new member of the Legislature, I have not been on many committees, but in this committee I learned an awful lot in the sessions, the hearings and the bit of travelling we did across the province. I consider it an honour to have been part of this committee. I think most of the recommendations that the committee formulated are good ones and worthy of consideration by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett).

However, I understand the vast majority of the recommendations, if not all of them, were rejected out of hand by the minister. I am hoping, even with their massive majority and the way they abuse the power of that majority, as they did this afternoon, that even under those circumstances the Minister of Housing will reconsider these recommendations, because by and large they do reflect the feelings of OHC tenants across this province. They are tenants he should be concerned with, because if the tenants in OHC and public housing are happy then there is no doubt at all the projects are going to run more smoothly. There will not be the maintenance problems there are now. A lot of the problems that exist, a lot of the poor communication that exists, can be overcome with many of the recommendations outlined in this report.

Contrary to what a lot of people feel in this province, perhaps even many members of this Legislature, most of the tenants in public housing are proud of the housing they live in. When I was a community organizer with the United Way in Windsor, I worked in a public housing project. I remember there was a very nasty article in our local paper about public housing. Within 24 hours petitions were on the road to protest the article in the Windsor Star, indicating that, while there were problems in public housing, they were proud of their neighbourhoods and wanted to make them better.

I do not think we should look at the people in OHC as being different from you and me. They may have income problems, but it is up to us through the public sector to assist those people in getting adequate housing. This province has gone some way towards doing that but not nearly as far as it has to go.

I was really struck at the committee hearings by the differences between the housing authorities in this province. We certainly met with the people in Toronto, but I chaired the subcommittee that travelled to Hamilton and Windsor. I was absolutely shocked at the relationship between the Hamilton housing authority and the tenants in the Hamilton housing area. There was obviously very little communication. There was obviously unneeded bureaucracy in that particular housing authority. They used the policies and the rules in a very strict, narrow interpretation against the tenants of the housing authority in Hamilton and, as a result, there was a very poor working relationship.

On the other hand, when we travelled to Windsor, there was constant praise for the housing authority. There was praise because there is communication, there are meetings with the project managers, there are meetings with the members of the housing authority and there is open communication. Most of the time the problems are solved. There are times when they are not solved but, at least, there is always understanding. As I say, I was very shocked by the rotten communication and the relationship that existed between the Hamilton people and the housing authority.

Many maintenance problems were raised with the committee while they were in Hamilton. There was a statement made by one individual -- I forget his name; it is certainly recorded some place in the hearings of the committee -- who was with the housing authority in Hamilton. He stated, "We won't take any action on the maintenance problems that were outlined in the Hamilton area until we have seen the committee report." I did not understand. I had tenants writing to me from the Hamilton area after that, and I certainly could not understand why they would not react to some of the serious maintenance problems.

The high-rise building we visited in Hamilton was a clear example of why we should never use high-rise buildings for family housing in the public sector. My own preference is that in the private sector I would not want to raise a family in a high-rise building, although in areas like Toronto, with the high cost of housing, there is little alternative.

In Hamilton, the maintenance problems in that high-rise building were incredible. The destruction was incredible. The elevators were a mess. The fire escapes and the stairways were not kept up at all. Children used those stairways for various purposes. It was obvious they had not been cleaned. The smell in them was incredible and, if I had not seen it, I would not have believed it.

Whereas, when we did visit the high-rise building in Windsor, there were not those problems. I think it was because there was communication. Also, communication was helped in that area because there was a strong tenants' association. I think the only way some of these problems can be resolved is if there are strong tenants' associations, and the only way they can be formed, can be developed and can be strong is through financial support on the part of the Ontario Housing Corporation. I will get to that later when I address some of the specific recommendations.

I talked about the high-rise buildings. One of the recommendations does address the problem of the recreation and social programs that must exist in the projects which in many cases do not exist. Ontario Housing's position is that the municipality has a role to play in providing recreation and social programs in the projects. The municipalities in many cases take the position that they are provincial government projects and it should provide the facilities.

I believe strongly that the municipality does have a role to play. The municipality provides these programs in the private sector. There are parks dedications or money in lieu of parks dedications but they provide the programming.

What this ministry must do, and the recommendation in the report addresses this on page 34, is initiate discussions with the municipalities and the housing authorities to get agreements so that programs are provided.

There is a project in my riding called Ford-Ferndale. It had property that was fenced and landscaped but had absolutely no equipment for the many children who lived in that area. I wrote to the housing authority every year, even before I was elected to this Legislature, asking when the equipment was going to be put there.

It was rather silly, but the city of Windsor in its parks yard had equipment sitting there not being used, but it would not put it there because it considered this to be Windsor Housing Authority property. At the same time, the Windsor Housing Authority apparently did not have the money in its budget to provide the equipment.

I could not figure out why the municipality and the housing authority could not sit down and come to some agreement so that this park land could be properly used. Finally, the Windsor Housing Authority did get the money in the budget and the provincial government did provide it.

There is no reason why there cannot be a better working relationship and more communication on local recreation between the city councils and the housing authorities so that we make best use of things and so that the cities live up to their responsibilities, not only for the equipment but also for staffing the parks to provide programs during the summer for the children in those areas.

Many of the programs are provided in some of the projects on the basis of tenants' associations. One of the things the Downtown Community Citizens' Organization, through Donna Gamble, pointed out to us when we were in Windsor was that the Windsor Housing Authority was changing its policy about pets in that project. The reason was that the housing authority and the citizens' group had been able to work out a compromise, and they had pets in the project. One would not know it. There was no damage from dogs. There were no dogs running around. Because there was a tenants' association that worked with the tenants and set out the rules, the rules were obeyed, and there simply was no problem with having pets in that particular project.

9:30 p.m.

I do not think tenants' associations are something the minister or the housing authority should fear. They are something they should encourage, and not just by words but also financially. There is a recommendation in the report that talks about doubling the financing. I personally do not feel that comes anywhere near what is needed. There is another recommendation that says they can take a look at full-time staffing for some of the tenants' associations, and I think that is what we have to be getting into.

There has to be a mechanism worked out where staffing is provided and ongoing funding is provided so that the tenants' associations can provide programming, develop a strong association and develop communication. I believe strongly that some of the problems we saw in Hamilton and some of the problems that were talked about in other communities could be resolved by that kind of approach.

One of the other recommendations dealt with the waiting list and the points system now in place. We constantly got from the Ontario Housing Corporation the fact that we did not need any more public housing in this province; the turnover rate took care of the waiting lists, and there was no more need to build projects in this province.

However, a report that was recently released by the new Toronto housing authority indicates very clearly that the waiting list is up in the city of Toronto. In fact, on March 31, 1981, the waiting list stood at 3,746 applicants, whereas on January 1, 1981, it stood at 3,163; that is a significant increase, about a 20 per cent increase.

Not only has the waiting list increased, but also the turnover rate has decreased. For example, in September 1979 there were 1,000 people housed by the Toronto housing authority -- the turnover rate was that high -- yet in March 1981 the turnover rate was only 613, which clearly indicates that we have a problem with the waiting list for public housing in Toronto and that the ministry has to respond.

The committee looked at the alternatives, and after hearing evidence from other people giving their presentations to the committee, as well as OHC, it was their conclusion, including that of the Conservative members of the committee, that the government's present rent supplement program should be phased out. Direct ownership by the government or co-op and nonprofit housing with 25 per cent or a higher percentage of geared-to-income units was the way we should be going. The direct ownership route meant that while there was an initial outlay of capital to build the projects, the equity built into the system and ownership by the ministry meant it was cheaper for the people in the province to have direct ownership.

I know that people now using the rent supplement program have a tremendous feeling of insecurity, because when the vacancy rate drops in a particular municipality it is not uncommon for private landlords to cancel the programs for rent supplement. That is not uncommon; it has happened in several cases in my own riding. Constituents have called me, saying they have been given notice to get out of the homes they have been in for a couple of years, because the landlord has decided to cancel the rent supplement program.

It is essential that we take a look at the needs in this province and develop the alternatives -- co-op housing, nonprofit housing and the medium-sized and small projects in public housing -- to meet those needs. Right now, there is nothing in this province, no program at all. For example, in Toronto where housing prices are going up and the waiting list is increasing, there is no program, no way for the ministry to respond quickly.

In the city of Windsor and in Essex county, where we have a high unemployment rate and people are losing their homes, we have a significant vacancy rate; I think it is up to eight per cent in the private sector. But someone on welfare or unemployment insurance cannot possibly afford to live in the private sector. There is no mechanism to help people get housing and assistance.

That is why we have the recommendation in this report that there should be a housing allowance that can help these people stay in the private sector on a short-term basis until they can get a job and get themselves back on their feet and be able to afford private housing on their own. We recommended a short-term solution to that.

There should be a program that can be put into place in communities like Windsor, Metro Toronto, Brantford and Sudbury when they have a high unemployment problem. We could immediately step in on an emergency basis and provide the housing allowances to help people stay in their homes. As I say, that would be a short-term solution, but none the less it would be an emergency solution to solve emergency problems.

The committee addressed the point rating system, and I think there was unanimous agreement in the committee that the point rating system must take other aspects of housing problems into consideration to a much greater degree. For example, for a family that needs housing, one of the biggest factors in determining whether it qualifies for public housing is the family's present housing. It does not take into consideration to an adequate level the economic problems they may be suffering and whether they can afford to stay in the private housing they are now in.

In many cases that is the number one problem. They may have adequate housing in the private sector but if they cannot afford it -- if unemployment has come, if there has been a death in the family or something like that, and the economic circumstances have changed -- there should be a way the point system indicates that and recognizes that in a very quick way so they can get into the public housing sector very quickly.

We talked about the need for different systems. Rather than handicapped people using the senior citizen point system, there should be new systems for both of them. For example, for senior citizens right now in the public sector, they primarily look at the existing housing and their economic problems. In many cases there are other reasons why senior citizens would like to go to the senior citizen high-rise buildings in the public sector: social reasons, recreational reasons, for company, psychological, whatever -- there are a whole host of them. They may be able to afford the full market rent and, if they can, then there would be nothing wrong with letting those people come into the public housing projects, pay the full rent, and take advantage of having the company of people their own age and the programs. They could enjoy life rather than having to stay in a high-rise building that has younger people in it and does not have the programs that many of our senior citizens' buildings now have.

Housing for handicapped in the province is not nearly adequate. In particular, the housing for those people who have had emotional problems and are single is inadequate. There is no housing for them. As the minister knows, the mandate for Ontario housing does not include those people.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Get up to date.

Mr. Cooke: When was that changed?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: January.

Mr. Cooke: Is the minister providing the housing now?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: That is correct.

Mr. Cooke: Does he have units available? He certainly does not have units available in the city of Windsor, because I have talked to the Windsor Housing Authority and they do not have units. They were using 22 units before he gave them the mandate to provide the housing for those people, but they were going beyond his mandate. They do not have any more units. There were no more built, no more acquired.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I didn't say we were going to build them.

Mr. Cooke: It is fine to give them the mandate but, if there is not housing to put them in, then it does not do them much good. I have had many cases of individuals who had psychological problems, who were in our psychiatric wards, many suffering from depression. They come out and go into the private sector and find something they can afford on a community and social service disability allowance, but the housing and apartments are so depressing that the next thing we know they are back in the hospital. It is a revolving-door syndrome.

Just from an economic point of view it makes sense to provide them with adequate housing so their lives are better, so they are not in a slum -- which is the case for many of these people -- so we keep them out of the hospitals and so there is a full recovery.

Housing is not the only aspect -- I understand that -- but it is one of the aspects of rehabilitation. If the minister has expanded the mandate, I welcome that. But if he is going to expand the mandate, he also has to provide the housing. In this report, we have made recommendations about how the housing should be expanded.

9:40 p.m.

Finally, I want to spend a little time talking about the two dissents. First, I think the Conservative dissent was totally unfair. I cannot recall them ever voicing the concern that they felt the hearings were not proper when the committee was sitting. They certainly had the opportunity to question the Ontario Housing people. I think all members of the committee, including Liberals and New Democrats, expressed their appreciation to the Ontario Housing people and to other people who testified in front of the committee. To say the committee did not give full and fair hearing to all people that appeared before it I think is totally incorrect.

If we are going to develop a good working relationship between the housing authorities and the tenants, then there very clearly has to be a way for tenants to connect into the decision-making process in the housing authorities. I feel very strongly that there has to be tenant representation, and I feel the recommendation made in this report is a fair one. It is a way we can get someone on the housing authorities to truly represent tenants and express their points of view.

I wish the minister were listening, because I would like to hear an adequate explanation for what happened at the Windsor Housing Authority. The housing authority people elected their own chairman, and the Minister of Housing said that individual was not acceptable to him. Instead, he appointed a well-known Tory hack to be chairman of the housing authority. As a result, most of the housing authority quit. The minister said it was not any kind of patronage, but I do not know what else it can be called. It certainly did not do anything for the image of the housing authority.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) just said the Windsor housing --

Mr. Cooke: Is the Minister of Education going to join this debate too?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: No. But I heard the member for Waterloo North say he was happy about some of the housing in Windsor.

Mr. Cooke: The chairman of the housing authority does not have the confidence of the tenants as a result of the decision made by the minister, and we lost some very good representatives on the Windsor Housing Authority because of the assumption by the minister that he could choose a better chairman than could the people on the housing authority themselves.

I feel, as does the committee, that the minister has to re-examine this. He has to make sure there are tenant representatives, and not simply tenants who do not represent tenants. As the minister said, anyone can get on a housing authority, but he does not want someone who represents what he calls an interest group -- which would be a tenant to represent a tenant. These representatives have to be tenants who are qualified, who live in the projects, who understand the problems and who can communicate.

It certainly does nothing for a housing authority when the minister appoints as its chairman a Conservative lawyer who had never served on a housing authority before and who does not have an iota of knowledge of what is going on in the Windsor Housing Authority projects.

Somebody who did know a lot was the person chosen by the authority, who happened not to be a supporter of my party but a supporter of the Liberal Party and a member of the Liberal association in my riding. None the less, even though she obviously does not understand the political system very well and her allegiance to the Liberal Party is totally wrong, she does understand the problems in the public housing sector and would have made a good chairman.

The arrogance shown by this minister in overruling the housing authority and choosing a Conservative lawyer was wrong and has blown the credibility of the Windsor Housing Authority as a result.

I hope the minister will re-examine his initial response to this report. I think it is a good report. It is certainly the first time in many years of the Ontario Housing Corporation where we went and talked to tenants and listened to them and wrote a detailed report. I hope he will give us a more positive response tonight than he did to the justice committee at the end of the hearings.

The minister should tell us that he has looked at these recommendations with an open mind and has decided that some of them are good and they are not all to be thrown out the window. The minister should tell us tonight which ones he has implemented.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I did not have the advantage of sitting on the committee that made up the report we are discussing tonight. I think some of the points raised by colleagues on all sides are very pertinent and should be taken into consideration. I did, however, have a perspective that was somewhat different in my work for the last four years as a constituency assistant in the city of Hamilton.

I wish to draw to the attention of the minister certain sections of the report that I feel are critical and, as mentioned by the previous Liberal speaker, should be acted upon and acted upon immediately.

On page 39 of the report, the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority is raised as an example of an authority across the province that has been beset by problems and tenant dissatisfaction. "While visiting Hamilton, the committee heard evidence of serious maintenance problems, of serious security problems, and of insufficient recreational programming, inadequate garbage facilities and so on. In addition, communication between the housing authority and the tenants seemed poor."

I want to relate to this House the experience I had in working with the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority over the last four years, not only as a representative of a member of the provincial parliament but also as a representative of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith).

The only treatment I can state I have received from the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority, and in particular the senior members of the authority, has been complete obstruction and obfuscation. I do not know whether the committee was aware of this, but any political representation made to the housing authority had to be made only through the superintendent. We were not allowed to go through any other members of the authority.

We never got any answers. We had cases of legitimate people who could not even get an answer from the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority. When the Leader of the Opposition addressed letters to it, he did not even get the courtesy of a reply. When we have this situation facing our political representatives, we can only expect that the treatment of the tenants is 10 times worse.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not necessarily.

Ms. Copps: I am sorry, but in my experience I have been told straight from the horse's mouth that the superintendent in Hamilton knows what these people are like and has no intention of doing anything to facilitate the situation in that housing authority, which is indeed a disgrace. If the minister had ever been over there and had a chance to talk about the treatment some of these tenants receive, she would understand my comments. I am talking from four years of experience and from cases that I can document if she would like to see them.

Mr. Philip: Even the Conservative members were shocked with Hamilton.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The assumption the member made was not necessarily a valid deduction.

Ms. Copps: I also wish to draw attention to the recommendations made with respect to senior citizen housing. In Hamilton -- and I do not know how this compares with other areas across the province -- we have a number of senior citizen units and a number of seniors who are in need of Hamilton-Wentworth housing assistance. I ask the minister to seriously consider recommendation 116, which asks that the housing corporation should consider converting bachelor units into one-bedroom suites.

I can relate to him personal circumstances of many seniors who not only are living on a very low budget, many of them close to the poverty line, but also are forced to give up their homes and most of their possessions to fit into some of these rooms -- I would call them rooms; they are not even bachelor apartments -- within the authority.

It is impossible for them to function as human beings looking to have some relaxation in their golden years or their retirement years. Instead, they are stuffed away into what can only be described as shoe boxes. The evidence of the vacancy rate in the bachelor apartments is testament to the fact that many seniors would rather not go into subsidized housing than be faced with living in these shoe boxes.

I ask the minister to do everything in his power to see that in Hamilton in particular the bachelor suites are done away with. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that not only should they not be used to house seniors but also they should not be used to house the needy or disabled young people. They are not livable. I think there should be a minimum spacial requirement to guarantee the mental and physical wellbeing of these people.

9:50 p.m.

The minister may feel I am being overly generous to some of the individuals involved, who after all are receiving publicly assisted housing. But I ask him to consider representations I have personally received on numerous occasions from men and women, some of whom are approaching their middle and late 80s, who have come to the office of the Leader of the Opposition literally in tears. I can document cases of people who have lived in bachelor apartments for more than 10 years and have applied and reapplied for transfers. The answer they got from the superintendent was, "If you don't like it, you can leave." These are people who, at their age, could not get up the strength financially or emotionally to move into private housing.

The position of the housing authority has been very intransigent in this regard. Specifically, in the Hamilton area something should be done to allow our seniors more mobility within the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority.

I also wish the minister to seriously consider recommendation 112, which asks that the authorities consider not only the financial picture but also the mental and emotional factors for seniors who have applied to get into publicly assisted housing.

In Hamilton, and this speaks well for the social committees that operate in some of the buildings, specifically in my leader's riding, there is a building called the Main-Hess Building, which operates a very successful senior citizens' centre. The residents from around that area, who number almost 2,000 if we include some of the other senior citizens buildings in the area, love to congregate and socialize at the Main-Hess social centre.

In many cases, seniors who have the financial means to live in private accommodation would desperately prefer to move into publicly assisted housing and would be prepared to pay market value for the accommodation so they might be near their friends and share in some of the social benefits that accrue from senior citizens housing, especially in Hamilton.

I also want the minister to take special note of recommendation 118, regarding fire drills. In a specific building in our area there was a very serious case of arson in which a number of fires were set over the last couple of years. The seniors not only did not file out but also were told to sit in the hallways and wait until something happened. Luckily, there was no serious damage or physical harm done to the seniors, but it could have been a disastrous situation.

Likewise, I want to comment briefly on dissenting opinion B, as presented by the members on the government side. I am sorry no member who signed that document is here tonight; so perhaps discussion is somewhat futile. However, I think there are several discrepancies in the addendum of dissenting opinion as presented by members of the government party.

Specifically on page 11, on the issue of tenant relations, they state, "One of these myths seems to be that OHC staff and housing authorities are intentionally and continuously arbitrary and insensitive in their dealings with tenants." I am not aware of the situation across the province, but I think that is a fair reflection of the attitude of some of the senior members of the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority; I refer specifically to the paid members, not to the voluntary ones. I think that should be acted upon.

I can cite case after case of insensitivity to members of the public who are using public housing, whether it be seniors or families. They have been told outright that if they do not like it they can move. These people are good, taxpaying, upstanding citizens who are only trying to make ends meet in publicly assisted housing.

I also want to refer to the comments on page 13, where they say they cannot agree with the committee's arguments for the inclusion of an elected tenant representative on a local housing authority. They are quoting the minister at this point, and they concur with the then minister's remarks:

"In my view, tenants should not be appointed as representatives of organized senior citizen groups or of groups of handicapped persons or tenants generally because this would provide an opportunity for that particular group to advance their interests, perhaps at the expense of other tenants."

I was under the impression that we live within a democratic process. I am also under the impression that many of us who are elected to office here in the Legislature are elected to do just that: to advance the interests of a particular group. Just because that group happens to be a group of tenants does not make its right to representation in a democratic process any less fair than if a person were to be elected to the Legislature, to a city council or to any other position.

I think the opinion expressed by the then minister is antiquated and is representative of the kind of obfuscation that we see at the level of the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority. It is easy to understand why the senior officials at the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority are allowed to get away with the kind of tenant intimidation that they are successful in doing when we see this kind of comment coming out of the minister's office. I say that should be stricken from this report.

Likewise, they go on to talk about some of the tenants who have been appointed to housing authorities. They refer to a woman who was chosen, not "because she is a tenant or an advocate of tenant issues" -- heaven forbid -- "but because she is a sincere person deeply involved in community affairs." I do not see anything wrong with appointing a tenant who is an advocate of tenant issues. After all, housing authorities are made up of tenants who presumably would like to have a say in how their affairs are being governed.

Neither can I agree with the recommendation that the authority should support an internal appeal mechanism, because "to do otherwise would undermine the autonomy of local housing authorities..." From my point of view, the housing authority in Hamilton has had autonomy for long enough, and it is about time that some of their operations were opened up and the appeal procedure was made in a more independent manner.

Likewise, on pages 17 and 18, the dissenting opinion addresses the question of vandalism and the security problems in some housing authority areas. It seems to me that the contradictions expressed on pages 17 and 18 are an example of the confused opinion that is expressed by the Conservative members of this committee.

On page 17 they say, "As well, the entire thrust of the committee's recommendations on security/vandalism seem to imply that OHC tenants ... are more prone to vandalism and crime than is prevalent in the surrounding community." Then on page 18 they say, "We acknowledge that OHC recognizes security problems occur in some of its projects and spent $4.1 million last year to provide supplementary security service."

Which is it? Is there a vandalism problem or is there not? On page 17 we see there is no vandalism problem and nothing should be done, and on page 18 we see that the very members of the government party who are saying there is no problem have authorized an expenditure of $4.1 million for supplementary security service. I think that is indicative of the kind of confusion we can see is evident in the dissenting report.

Likewise, I want to comment to the members of the House tonight about another part of the dissenting opinion expressed by the members of the Conservative Party on this committee: "Recommendations to go into a report should not be the subject of discussion and debate with the public during the writing of a report."

If there is to be no discussion or debate with the public, then what is the purpose of having a committee and drawing up a report in the first place? My understanding of the select committee's process is that it was to encourage discussion and debate from the public prior to the writing of any report. I say that is just another example of the confused response of Conservative members to the select committee on the housing situation.

I want to close by supporting the opinion expressed by my colleagues in the Liberal Party and my friends in the New Democratic Party that there should be tenant representation, and independent tenant representation, in the Ontario Housing Corporation.

10 p.m.

I know the Hamilton situation will not be resolved until we get some kind of dialogue. I can see that my attempts over the last four years to dialogue with the Ontario Housing Corporation in Hamilton or the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority were futile. If they were futile when I was representing the Leader of the Opposition, I have no doubt that for a tenant to attempt to talk with the authority is just impossible at present.

The only way that dialogue will get started is if we get a clear indication from the Minister of Housing that it is a province-wide policy to include tenants as advocates in discussing policy changes and revisions to the decisions of the Ontario Housing Corporation with respect to housing authorities across the province.

It is the mandate of this minister to carry on with the kind of work that has been done in Windsor and other areas, because he is going to be leading public opinion in this regard. Areas like Hamilton will not change with respect to the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority unless and until he, as minister, insists the dialogue be a two-way street between tenants and the authority by having tenant representatives and open appeal procedures.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I will only take a few minutes to make a few comments, which will also be based largely on the Hamilton situation. I first want to congratulate the committee on the report it has come up with and on many of the recommendations; I think they are excellent.

It is unfortunate that any recommendations that are going to be carried out are probably those we see in the minority Conservative report. If that is taken as being a little cynical, I am afraid that is exactly how I feel about it.

I want to say very clearly that the arguments that have been made about the situation in Hamilton are all too true. I have been wrestling with the local housing authority since I was elected in 1975, and my predecessor was wrestling with it before me. There are some serious problems there, and the minister should know it.

I am disappointed that some of the Tory members who signed the report are not in the House, because one or two of them have commented, as has the member for Waterloo North and my colleagues, on the almost disgusted reaction they had to the performance of the housing authority people, and in particular to the chairman in Hamilton, on the reaction they had to the appearance of some of the units and on the reaction they had to the testimony before the committee while it was in Hamilton.

There is certainly a problem there. The committee report on page 21 singles out Hamilton and Etobicoke as the poorest in appearance of all of the areas it covered. There are some good comments about some of the other areas.

On page 39, as has already been referred to, the report talks about the good relationships in Ottawa and Windsor and then goes on to say in the third paragraph, "the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority seemed to be beset by problems and tenant dissatisfaction ran high. While visiting Hamilton, the committee heard evidence of serious maintenance problems (and, indeed, saw evidence of these), of serious security problems," and it goes on with some other comments about the situation.

I guess, to some extent, I almost feel a little remiss in not having had a real public confrontation with the housing authority. We have worked desperately during the almost five and a half years I have been a member to try to keep things cooled down and to get what co-operation we could. The comments to the tenants referred to by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps), and the totally negative reaction of some of the people in the local authority, are all too obvious.

The minister may not remember but four years ago, when the service ended of the one really good board member we had who was put on originally by the province as a labour representative -- and I am talking about Ken O'Neal -- our problems increased from that point on. He was at least one advocate on that board who could bring some of the people who were running the authority down to earth. We could go to him and he would try to talk some sense and avoid some of the bad public relations that existed with the local housing authority.

When his term was up I went to the minister and said: "Look, this is the one useful person we have had on that board. He has been very constructive. He is respected by all segments of the community. Will you see we get another such appointment?" I think I suggested at the time it did not have to be someone from labour. That was just the service Mr. O'Neal came from, and it was recognized when he was appointed to that board. We never got that appointment, and we have not had co-operation in setting up tenants' groups in the Hamilton Housing Authority area.

The problems are really twofold: tenant participation and power in that authority. The one tenant representative on the board is chosen arbitrarily by the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority. There seems to be very little consultation with any of the groups or any of the people. It is really their appointment to the board, and he has usually been a rather passive participant on the board.

We do not have enough community relations workers. In the east end of Hamilton we have two community relations workers who are responsible for 16 projects housing more than 10,000 tenants in the area. So we have a problem there. It means we do not have the kind of representation we need.

The tenants ask these workers to see if they cannot help them in setting up a tenants' group. It should be the other way around. If you are going to have co-operation, especially where you have a bad situation, it should be the workers who go to the tenants and encourage them. It is never easy to set up tenants' groups. The minister should know that. But certainly it is not an initiative that is taken in that particular area.

The real role that the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority sees for itself is strictly one of a landlord. That is part of the problem. The social problems, the destruction, the social responsibility, the fact that there are a large number of lower-income people who are in single-parent families -- all these mean there is some need to work on projects that raise the social consciousness and level of awareness of the problems that exist, and a need to see what can be done to help these people in the housing areas.

As I mentioned in this House in the throne speech debate, when I went down to talk to them and raised the fact that we have had a rather drastic increase in the desperate need for family units, I was told, sitting in with three or four of the senior people, "Look, our role is not to worry about whether or not there are enough units; it is to manage the units we do have." That is the kind of attitude we have in that area.

I think it is a serious situation, and the minister should take a look at the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority. I am pretty doggone sure that others have raised it with him -- either that or the Tories are really a pretty quiet bunch, because, as I say, apart from the Liberal members in that committee, two or three of them raised the fact that they were sort of disgusted by what they ran into in the hearings in the city of Hamilton.

Also, as I understand it, a biannual review of the Hamilton housing authority is coming up. The review is done, as I am told, by the parent body of the Ontario Housing Corporation. I am not aware of the procedures. I think that in this review the tenants should have some input. They are really the only reason the authority exists, and yet they do not seem to get to participate in any constructive way in that kind of review. It is strictly an internal review. I wish the minister would take a look at that as well.

There are a number of things that could be said. I have one other final comment only. The other day I drove by the seniors' units up on Mohawk and Upper Wentworth. They are only four-storey units, and they are very attractive. I like the grounds and the work that is done around them. I thought to myself that this is one constructive thing, one constructive project the authority has put up. I share all the concerns that have been raised about families and even seniors in the very high-rise type of units. I hope the direction for housing units in the future is towards the project that is at the corner of Mohawk and Upper Wentworth rather than these high-rise towers.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the debate is very close to an end and that the minister should be given time to speak. I therefore wish to speak only very briefly.

Back in 1975, I became the housing critic for the New Democratic Party just after that election. I occupied that position for about three years. It was shortly after the formation of the Ministry of Housing. The Ministry of Housing had then taken responsibility for the Ontario Housing Corporation, which had been independent up until 1974.

I think it was in 1976, when the late John Rhodes was the minister, that I took the opportunity in the estimates to go systematically through every aspect of OHC administration with the government at that time. That was five years ago, and nothing has changed between then and now.

The report here, which is an excellent report, covers exactly the same ground that was covered at that time five years ago. If anything, it has added some new problems because of the fact that since 1976 there has been no construction of family accommodation to speak of by the OHC. And, as we have seen recently, the lists are getting longer, despite every effort that OHC makes to try to prune the lists, because of the housing crisis in the province.

10:10 p.m.

I want to focus on one thing that deeply distresses me; it is the way the government has systematically ignored the potential to involve tenants in the operation of OHC. Somebody who has a home of his or her own has the opportunity to look after the home, to maintain it, to make decisions about its future and, among other things, to learn about decision-making and about responsibility in the process.

But for as long as I have been in contact with the OHC, that provincial corporation has quite systematically carried out a policy of distancing itself from tenants, trying to treat the tenants as being irrelevant to the process of running the projects and the communities where they live, and trying to discourage their participation.

For example, the fact that the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations was systematically discouraged, while at the same time the Association of Ontario Housing Authorities used to get a subsidy of $160,000 or so a year from the OHC and the housing authority -- it probably gets more today -- indicates the priorities of this government.

The fact that the government has consistently resisted the appointment of tenant-chosen representatives to local housing authority boards and the fact that this minister was the one who obstructed the city of Ottawa's appointment of Ms. Elaine Atkinson, who was a tenant at that time, to be a representative on the board of the Ottawa Housing Authority indicate the attitude. That attitude is wrong and, until it is changed, we will continue to have problems that I believe can be avoided.

Tenants should be involved in running a project. Tenant organizations should be recognized and encouraged. Tenants should be able to contribute through their rent, by means of a checkoff, to the operation of a tenants' association, and OHC should be prepared to match the funds contributed in that way by tenants.

Tenants, as recommended here, should be able to earn income by doing some of the work within OHC projects. In many cases an enormous amount of money is spent on a project without asking the community, without actually getting through to the people who live there, in some cases people who have difficulty in finding job opportunities.

Tenants should be able to seek to direct the way the administration goes on to ensure that the buildings are a model to the private sector of how rental accommodation should be run. The building of the community offers an opportunity for self-development for the families living in public housing, and the leadership that emerges within public housing projects should be encouraged rather than discouraged or, in many cases, harassed and hounded out completely.

I could talk at greater length. I commend this entire report to the government. I trust that the Premier (Mr. Davis) and other ministers of the crown are here to join our party in endorsing this report when we vote in a few minutes. After the vote is taken, I hope very much that the government will see that major mistakes have been made in terms of the running of OHC, that it is time to get back to a social housing policy in Ontario and it is time to ensure that the people who live in public housing have a say in how it is run rather than simply being treated as cases or clients who must be administered by a top-down authority the way the local housing authorities have been structured over the last 17 years.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the members for their observations on the report of the standing committee on the administration of justice.

I say very clearly to the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) and to the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), in regard to the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority, that while I have had letters from the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith) over the last few years relating to some problems in the community of Hamilton, it has never been said to me specifically that there was something lacking in the housing authority.

I sometimes wonder whether we are talking about the housing authority or some of the personnel who work for the authority. I say to the members from Hamilton that I will be glad to review further exactly who it is we are referring to. It is very clear that appointments to the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority are nominations by the municipal council, by the provincial government and by the federal government. I think we have to be open and honest about it. They represent, likely, a fairly wide spectrum of the political allegiances in that community and indeed in any one of the communities where 61 housing authorities happen to exist.

Mr. Cassidy: Until you veto the recommendations.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: In the time that the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) was speaking, I did not interrupt. As the minister, I am allowed something like 15 minutes, while there have been two hours and 15 minutes or thereabouts used by the opposition.

Mr. Cooke: You could have spoken first.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I understood that the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who was the chairman of the committee, asked for that particular privilege and I extended it to him. He asked for it first. Let us not get into that argument and waste my time; let us keep the facts straight.

Mr. Worton: Carry on and don't bother with it.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think the member for Wellington South is likely right; that would be the best thing for me to do.

Let me go through, as quickly as I can, some of the points raised by the various members. But before I do, I want to compliment the staff at Ontario Housing Corporation. The responsibility they have, from the general manager down, is not an easy one in trying to resolve and satisfy some of the situations in this province. I also want to compliment the 61 housing authorities. It is easy for us to sit back at times and throw a little bit at them. Generally speaking, I think those individuals, who serve on their own time without remuneration, do an outstanding job.

I appreciate the comments of the members on all sides of this House at official openings of senior citizen and family units and their words of compliment for the board. I only make the remark again tonight that I will look into the Hamilton one, because it is the first time I have become aware of some discontent by the politicians in that area regarding that particular authority.

The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) raised the question about parks. I have to say, just so there is no misunderstanding, that the Ontario Housing Corporation, on behalf of the people of Ontario, pays full taxes to each of the municipalities where its projects happen to be located, which is better than 300 communities. There are about 250,000 Ontario citizens who live in some 90,000 housing units that are supported by the Treasury of Ontario and the Treasury of Canada.

When it comes to providing parks, I believe that if we are going to be a full taxpaying operation then we are entitled to the same type of services that any other citizen would expect from his particular community. While we have tried to supplement it in recreational facilities and other accommodations, I do not think the major responsibility should fall on the housing authority. Indeed, it was just a year ago, on April 1, that we relieved the municipalities of this province of a 7.5 per cent cost factor to them on the shortfall in running their units, which amounted to a saving of about $22 million to municipalities across this province in relation to the Ontario Housing Corporation's portfolio.

Affordability was one of the questions that was raised quite often at the committee. We have adjusted to make affordability one of the highest-rating factors as far as eligibility is concerned in the public housing responsibility. We have taken the advice, I may say, not only of some of the people who appeared before the committee but also of the various tenant associations that over the period of time have asked this government to adjust the rating system to allow affordability a much higher position.

The next item that I think is of some importance and again the member for Hamilton Centre raised it, concerns the appeals both on the eligibility of transfer and relating to eviction. On the one regarding transfer, we have been reviewing it. Some of the housing authorities across this province have set up a fairly well designed appeal process. We are now encouraging the others, through the Ontario Housing Corporation, to do likewise so that tenants will have an opportunity to find out why their application has been refused or why eviction takes place.

But let me suggest very quickly that eviction is one of the last things that any one of the 61 authorities wants to get involved in. We will do everything in our power through the housing authority and the Ontario Housing Corporation to facilitate the tenant, if it happens to involve arrears of rent, in working out a program that will allow that particular tenant to remain in his or her unit.

10:20 p.m.

One of the other areas where the committee had some remarks to make was regarding my attending on Mr. Cosgrove, who represents CMHC federally, to ask for an adjustment in the cost-sharing factors providing publicly assisted housing in this province. While the chairman indicated I had never approached the federal government, I have done so. We have approached the federal government on many occasions. In this constraint period, which applies not only to this government and the Treasurer of this province but also to the federal Treasury as well, they are not very receptive to expanding the mandate of the Ontario Housing Corporation or indeed the housing corporations in any other province.

Mr. Cosgrove has made it very clear that he also wants us to adjust some of our cost-sharing factors on a formula that I guess was established many years ago, but there were some exceptions made to it for Ontario. He would like, overnight, to make an adjustment that could cost our Treasury an additional $26 million. At present, with OHC and others, I am disputing this with the federal government.

It would be rather foolish of us, in a constraint period, to be looking to expand the mandate of Ontario Housing Corporation to accommodate everyone in need, regardless of age or any other situation. To expand the mandate to include that would be beyond the toleration of the federal Treasury or indeed of the Treasury of this province. I am told, if we projected it out, we could leap from about $300 million in subsidies by the federal and provincial governments for housing in this province alone, to something close to $1 billion. Again, I say that in a time of constraint logic has to prevail.

This government, in conjunction with the federal government, has continued to observe the need for socially assisted housing. We have moved into the position of being the second largest landlord in North America, next to the city of New York. More than 90,000 units are being supported in this province, I repeat, with more than 250,000 citizens of Ontario being housed in them.

I want to correct one of the remarks I think I made to the member for Windsor-Riverside, because I had misinterpreted him when he talked about the emotionally handicapped. I am sorry I misinterpreted him. I was referring to the fact that we had expanded our policy to include, now, the opportunity for housing mentally retarded individuals within the 61 portfolios in the province, provided there is support from the local association for the mentally retarded and the individual is able to live on his or her own.

I do not believe emergency housing falls within the mandate of this ministry. Indeed, in discussions with federal people, I find they are not even giving consideration to putting it within the mandate of the Ministry of Housing or in the housing portfolio in any province in Canada. When I spoke of the Salvation Army providing this type of accommodation, I said very clearly in a complimentary way that they had been able to serve extremely well in the emergency housing areas of the various communities.

I think some members would like to get into income verification and using net income rather than gross income. We have worked on the basis of gross income, because that has been the position in our negotiations with our senior partner. Just so there is no misunderstanding, neither Ontario nor any other province has the right to singularly change the policy or the contract unless that province is prepared to pick up the entire difference in cost. The federal government has made it clear that it is not prepared to entertain it.

Mr. Philip: Have you proposed it to them?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, sir, we have not proposed it to them, because there are so many other ways -- I see the clock is moving on -- and there are so many deductions. We believe the fairest treatment for all of our tenants in Ontario is to work on a percentage of gross income and not to get into deductions. There is such a great variance in types of deductions in various payrolls that it would be virtually impossible to try to put a common denominator on it to equalize it for all of our tenants to make sure each and every one is being treated fairly; so we have not proposed it.

The second reason is that to do it could also encourage a fairly substantial further payment by the people of Ontario for maintaining public housing in this province.

I am sorry I have not had more time to go into the report, but I think this government is to be complimented on the aggressive pattern it has taken to develop such a large public housing portfolio as well as for keeping the rent supplement program and participating in public nonprofit, private nonprofit and co-op housing.

We are now supporting the private nonprofit organizations and the co-ops and subsidizing rent supplement units within those programs, which is a new policy we introduced back in February of this year. Overall, the government has done an admirable job in serving the less fortunate in housing in this province.

10:35 p.m.

The House divided on Mr. Philip's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:


Breaugh, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Cooke, Copps, Edighoffer, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Mancini, McGuigan, Miller, G. I., Newman, Peterson, Philip, Reed, J. A., Renwick, Riddell, Ruston, Spensieri, Stokes, Sweeney, Van Horne, Wildman, Worton.


Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Bernier, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;

Norton, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Wiseman, Yakabuski.

Ayes 31; nays 64.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege --

Mr. Speaker: Identify your point of privilege.

Ms. Copps: In view of the illustrated arrogance of this government this afternoon and tonight, I wish to pass over to the Premier --

Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of privilege. Order. Your privileges have not been abused in any way.

The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.