32e législature, 1re session






The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 129, An Act to amend the Workmen's Compensation Act.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the government's initiative on Bill 129, and I support it not with full, wholehearted support, but with partial support.

I feel there are some good initiatives in the bill. I feel it is about time the government recognized that the temporary total and partial pensions as currently awarded by the Workmen's Compensation Board should take into consideration the inflationary period we have suffered in the last couple of years.

I also feel that the annual review of pensions and temporary total payments is something that should be considered, but I will defer to the White Paper on the Workers' Compensation Act in the understanding that is going to be dealt with at much greater length in committee this summer and it will be something that we hope will become a reality next fall with the introduction of new government legislation regarding the Workmen's Compensation Act.

This legislation has been long awaited by many workers in Ontario and by many disabled workers in Ontario. The attempt to bring the payments up to the level of inflation over the last couple of years is an admirable one, and I hope the government will incorporate this recognition of the factor of inflation into all future legislation.

I do, however, have certain reservations about the bill which I would like to point out in passing. As a party, we intend to support this legislation, but we want to point out that we feel there are certain deficiencies in the legislation. One of the very first and most glaring deficiencies is the amount of money that is paid to the widow or widower of a worker who has lost his or her life through a compensable injury.

Under the new legislation I am happy to see that the government has increased to a certain extent the amount of payment of full benefits to a widow, but the increase will bring a widow's full pension up to only $5,904 annually. We do not feel this figure, which comes in under the $6,000 mark, is representative of the kind of contribution that workers of Ontario are expected to make.

In my riding, as in the ridings of many of our colleagues, I have widows whose spouses have given their lives to a company -- they have been killed in the service of their work -- and we do not feel that a compensation rate of less than $6,000 recognizes the kind of contribution made by the worker or by that work and does not recognize the kind of remuneration that should be paid to a worker's spouse.

The instance of a spouse who is too old to gainfully re-enter the work force and is expected to live on less than $6,000 a year is not acceptable to this party, and I do not believe it is acceptable to the government.

I reiterate, we are supporting this legislation because we feel it is a first step in the right direction. We are hoping that in the continuance of the White Paper on the Workers' Compensation Act the government will come in with a more equitable picture for widows and for workers who are injured, either partially or totally, on the job. We are not happy with the widow or widower provision for the sole dependant.

We also take some umbrage with the decision in section 3(3) that the increase according to the cost of living will be awarded only to those who have been receiving temporary disability benefits for the past 24 months. In my understanding, under the previous legislation it was allowed to all of those who had been on temporary total benefits for a consecutive period of 52 weeks, but here we have a situation where the government seems to be increasing, from 52 weeks to 24 months, the period following which a worker would be entitled to these inflationary increments. We feel that this increase should apply to all workers regardless of the amount of time they have spent on temporary total layoffs.

In the Workmen's Compensation Board representation to the standing committee on social development fairly recently, it was pointed out that in some instances there is the odd case where a worker who has been on temporary total benefits for a number of months goes back to work in an effort to try to reintegrate into the work force, finds he or she is unable to do so and is then forced to carry on with temporary total benefits. Under this legislation and under past legislation, that person would not be eligible for the inflationary increases because he or she would not have been out of the work force for a 24-month consecutive period.

There is also some dispute whether the 10 per cent awarded effective July 1, 1981, represents the rate of inflation. We feel the workers should be awarded a sum equivalent to the rate of inflation, but we are forced to support the bill because we feel in this case half a loaf is better than none. We do not feel we would be solving anything or helping the injured workers in Ontario were we to oppose the legislation.

I am happy to say I believe section 5(1)(a) recognizes that situation by setting a base level for workers' payments; that is, instead of introducing the general mode of 75 per cent of a worker's earnings, the government has chosen to recognize 100 per cent of earnings that are $156 a week or less. This is a recognition of the kind of problems workers, particularly those in lower-paid categories, face when they are disabled and unable to carry on with their earnings. Naturally, we would prefer that this minimum level were increased, but we are prepared to support the government in its initiative --

Mr. Laughren: Are you on the left wing of the Liberal Party?

Ms. Copps: I am a member of the Liberal Party who cares about workers in Ontario. Having had many workers in my riding who have been faced with the kind of disability problems dealt with in this bill, I am happy to say we support the government's recognition that there should be a basal minimum where workmen would not receive 75 per cent but should receive the full amount of their earnings. In some instances, when one has a worker who is being paid at a rate of $156 a week or less, the tax-free benefit of the 75 per cent obviously is no use to him. In most instances, they have little or no taxable income.

We feel the government has attempted to recognize this in the legislation. We would prefer that the basal amount were increased, an idea that I think is entertained in the Weiler report, Reshaping Workers' Compensation in Ontario. In the White Paper on the Workers Compensation Act, recently introduced, the government is prepared to take a look at increasing the basal amount to 90 per cent of a worker's net income, rather than taking into consideration the quality of gross income and allowing it to be tax-free.

We feel this is a more equitable situation. We are prepared to go along with this legislation as long as it is made clear to the government that it is interim legislation and that is the spirit in which it has been introduced.

We also feel the permanent total disability ceiling, which has been raised to $686 a month effective July 1, 1981, is not an acceptable ceiling. We do not feel this government can expect any worker in Ontario who is totally and permanently disabled as a result of a work injury to have to live on $686 a month. We do not feel that is an amount that recognizes the contribution of workers in Ontario. We will be pushing for an increase in that amount with the white paper.

By allowing the amount of temporary total disability to be set so low, the government is not recognizing the contribution of workers in Ontario. That is another area where we would have to find fault with the bill. Again, I stress the fact this is intended to be an interim measure. I hope and expect that, come the fall, the government will be coming in with some more progressive legislation.

8:10 p.m.

I also want to point out that we have some difficulty with section 7 of the bill, in which the application for clothing allowance is going to be increased to an amount not exceeding $290 per annum for replacement or repair.

The situation we find ourselves in at this time is not so much finding fault with the amount of the clothing allowance, but finding fault with the fact that it is awarded upon application. If I may speak from personal experience, I know that many workers in my riding are not aware that they are entitled to a clothing allowance until it is brought to their attention, sometimes by their member of the Legislative Assembly, sometimes by a legal advocate in the area of workers' compensation. I do not feel that the onus should be upon a worker to apply for a clothing allowance if he or she is forced to wear a brace and suffer wear and tear on his or her clothing.

It should be incumbent upon the Workmen's Compensation Board to contact workers and make known to them the benefits available to them on an annual basis and, I might add, in several languages. Although notice is sent to workers periodically about the benefits to which they are entitled, many of these workers are not that knowledgeable in the English language and oftentimes have to rely on a translator or an advocate to fight for their rights and their points of view. I think it should be incumbent upon the Workmen's Compensation Board and the government to inform workers in several languages that they are entitled to these benefits and they do not have to be received upon application.

Those are the points I wanted to make on the bill. I am not totally happy with the amount of the inflationary increases allowed. I am particularly unhappy with the provisions made for widows. Having received intercessions in my own constituency office from widows who are struggling to make ends meet. I feel we are not being fair as a Legislature to women whose husbands have lost their lives in a compensable injury when we ask them to survive on $492 a month. In view of the fact that for most of us that amount of money is less than a lot of us receive on expense accounts and expense allowances. I suggest it is certainly not justifiable in this day and age to ask widows of workers who have died on the job to live on $492 a month. That is my major objection.

My other objections have been noted throughout. I do not feel that the 24 months' span for temporary total disability should be applicable. I think it should be applied across the board and even in terms of the numerical calculations in the compensation hoard. When groups are divided into temporary totals of 24, 12 or six months, it creates a lot of accounting problems. I think all those problems could be avoided if we applied an increase across the board.

This caucus will be supporting the principle of the bill in the hope that it is an interim measure and that there will he much more radical, justifiable and just increases coming for workers in September when the recommendations of the White Paper on the Workers' Compensation Act in some parts are recognized and brought into legislation.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker. it is always with mixed feelings that I rise to debate a Workmen's Compensation Act series of amendments. But one of the things I always feel good about is. when I look around at the caucus, whether we have five members in their seats or whether we have all 21 or, as in the previous parliament, all 33. that every single one of them is capable of putting together a very sensible, logical and comprehensive critique of the Workmen's Compensation Board. The government should be so lucky to have the members we have with their expertise on workmen's compensation --


Mr. Laughren: The Liberals may not like that, but I want to say I look forward with relish to the Liberals supporting the amendments we shall put when we move to committee, because I do not think there is anything unreasonable about those amendments. When the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) rises in his place to vote for our amendments, I am sure he will do some sweating --

Mr. Kerrio: Don't hold your breath. You are going to be in big trouble.

Mr. Laughren: Nevertheless I am sure, given the remarks of the Labour critic for the Liberal Party, that we can count on the support of that party for these very decent amendments we intend to put, which will make life a little more civilized for injured workers in the province.

I will not dwell on the timing of these amendments. Every time I am staring at amendments I know it is either late June or late December, because that is when this government brings in amendments to the Workmen's Compensation Act. They bring them in when there is inadequate time for debate, and they know full well that the opposition is going to support the legislation because, even though it may not be as much as the injured workers of this province deserve, it is all they are going to squeeze out of this government.

We are going to support the legislation, but not without misgiving; it is partly because of the Weiler commission report that is going to come down and partly because of the white paper that the minister has tabled and is available for debate over the summer. I presume the minister will take into consideration the responses to it before he drafts new legislation.

I am always pleased to debate legislation that has such a clear class bias. Even the Workmen's Compensation Board admits the board is in place to provide compensation for the working class of this province; it is not there to provide compensation for those people who occupy the comfortable pew in Ontario. It is fine for the Workmen's Compensation Board to admit that, it is fine for the Minister of Labour (Mr, Elgie) to deny that; but that is exactly who the Workmen's Compensation Board is for. It is one of the reasons we have so much difficulty with the administration of the board and with the level of benefits provided by the board.

It is no accident that the administration of the board is a nightmare. It is not because we have not learned how to process claims in a sophisticated and electronic society. We know how to do that. The board has access to the finest computers in the world, but it can still screw up an inordinate number of claims. It is no accident that if any worker is going to be able to substantiate a claim he has to be a doctor, a lawyer or an industrial hygienist before he is going to be able to compete with the people sitting across the table in the appeal system. There is no doubt about that. It is clearly class-based legislation, and in the past it has not served injured workers well in Ontario.

We are going to make some amendments to this legislation. We intend to adjust the death benefit payments to a more reasonable level --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: To 90 per cent?

Mr. Laughren: No, I am talking about the lump sum to the dependent spouse.

We are going to increase the disability pension that is available to people who are injured, going all the way back to 1971, because obviously the nine per cent that the minister puts in there simply does not contain an adequate catch-up for injured workers. We picked 1971 for a couple of reasons: first, because it is a nice, round 10-year time span and, second, because it encompasses the Davis years beautifully. We think it is time people were served notice of the way the Davis regime has treated injured workers in Ontario.

I have been a member of this Legislature since 1971, that same length of time, and not a single issue comes remotely close to workmen's compensation, not a single issue occupies a tenth of the time in my constituency office in my riding. My constituency assistant, who is extremely capable, spends up to 90 per cent of her time dealing with the administrative malaise of the Workmen's Compensation Board.

8:20 p.m.

I suspect that members on the government side also spend an inordinate amount of time on workmen's compensation cases if they live in an industrial area. Of course, they would have to represent working people to have those problems but, if they do, you can be sure they spend time on workmen's compensation cases. I have been in the committees when the board and the Minister of Labour have appeared before the committee, and I certainly heard government members complaining bitterly about the treatment of injured workers in the province as well.

Through our amendments we will also recommend an increase in the minimum for temporary disability. We will recommend an increase in the total permanent disability level, as the minister would have it. By doing that, we hope to make life a little better for injured workers. We will also raise the ceiling along the lines that Professor Weiler recommended.

I hope when the minister responds, rather than pull into the debate the red herring of 90 per cent of gross versus 70 per cent of net, that he will tell us --

Hon. Mr. Norton: It's just the reverse of that.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: It's 75 per cent of the gross and 90 per cent of the net.

Mr. Laughren: I am sorry, yes. I thank the minister for straightening me out.

Hon. Mr. Norton: We have other suggestions for you if you'll accept them as readily as you accepted that.

Mr. Laughren: I do not pretend the minister has solved all my problems yet.

I hope the minister will tell us how, in his free-enterprise soul, he justifies workers who get injured on the job being penalized financially in any way. We have made very clear that we respect mostly people who make contributions to society; in particular, we respect people who make contributions through their labour. People get uptight about people on unemployment insurance, people who do not want to work; we have all heard that line. If one believes in that and wants people to go to work and to do the dangerous and dirty jobs, then how does one justify penalizing them in any way at all if they get injured on the job?

I hope the minister can explain that to me. It is a straightforward question. I have never been able to come to grips with that question, why the government refuses to agree to that principle in principle. For example, as long as there is a ceiling of $22,200, which this bill proposes, then one will obviously penalize some people as well as some people who are not even at the ceiling.

I have never understood how those great free enterprisers can believe people who get hurt on the job should be penalized financially. It is more than a financial penalty. Injured workers suffer a great deal in their family relationships and in their standing in the community as a whole; it goes beyond money.

I do not know how the minister can justify what his government does to injured workers. It is not only what they put injured workers through to win an appeal or to obtain any justice. Even if there is no question about the claim, if everything goes smoothly and there is no hitch in the processing of the claim and the worker gets exactly what the legislation entitles that worker to get -- even if all that happens, there is still a penalty imposed on injured workers in Ontario. I do not know how the minister justifies that.

When I see the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) sitting over there in his comfortable pew, I think of what this government has allowed to happen to the miners at Elliot Lake.

Mr. Lane: They are happy.

Mr. Laughren: Yes, sure they are happy. Perhaps I could send to the honourable member some of those who have come to me out of the mines at Elliot Lake who cannot get a job in any other mine in Ontario because they were exposed to radiation in the mines of Elliot Lake. Will my friend guarantee those workers a job?

Mr. Lane: They mostly come to me, and they get looked after well.

Mr. Laughren: Never mind the nonsense. Will my friend guarantee those workers a job? The answer obviously is no.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: You don't have the solutions; you just have the problems.

Mr. Laughren: No. I have the solutions, and I certainly intend to get to them. If the minister had been able to attend the recent hearings of the Workmen's Compensation Board in the standing committee on social development, he would have been more aware of our solutions than he apparently is tonight. I realize he had other commitments in the Legislature, but the fact remains that at that committee hearing our alternatives were put very clearly to the committee.

I hope that the minister when he stands up will explain to us how he justifies a financial penalty on injured workers in the province. First of all, I assume he will accept the fact that there is a financial penalty --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No.

Mr. Laughren: Oh, he does not accept that there is a financial penalty? Perhaps I need to enlarge this debate a little more and expand on my views.

In the bill, the minister talks about raising the ceiling from $18,000 to $22,200. Perhaps the minister can make a note of this. If a miner, a construction worker or someone in the forest industry through hard work is earning $28,000 a year, and that person gets injured on the job, perhaps the minister can tell us that person is not financially penalized because of an injury. Is that what the minister is telling me?

I almost called the minister a worker; that would have been a serious mistake. The fact is, the minister cannot deny that as long as there is that phoney ceiling, then there are going to be workers penalized.

There is a very simple answer. The minister said a few minutes ago that all I was doing was giving the problems and no solutions. I moved a private member's bill here a couple of years ago -- and I have raised it in committee -- about the Saskatchewan formula whereby, as soon as 10 per cent of injured workers who make claims against the board exceed the existing ceiling, that ceiling is bumped up in units of $1,000. That is not a complex formula. It is being done. It is fair to injured workers. Yet the minister sits there and says there is no financial penalty to injured workers.

Either the minister does not know the act he is supposed to administer or he is misleading us. Perhaps when he rises he could explain whether he is misleading us or whether he does not understand the act, because those are the two alternatives if he claims injured workers are not penalized in Ontario. He has a choice. I hope he will do that. That is an amendment that we intend to move.

The previous speaker talked about the clothing allowance. That may not seem like much to the minister, but I do not know how he can justify an injured worker having to subsidize out of his own pocket the replacement cost of clothing that is worn out or has to be replaced because of a prosthesis. I do not know how the minister justifies that. Why not just have replacement costs? No, he has to have this arbitrary figure that he, in his wisdom, sets. I do not know how he justifies that. That is a penalty against injured workers as well.

We are moving the amendments for a couple of reasons. One is that we think the existing bill continues to be mean in spirit and is simply not generous enough; we think there is no excuse for a worker losing income when he gets injured on the job.

As well, there is no excuse for a bill like this to be before the Legislature. How outrageous that injured workers in the province should have to sit out there injured and wait for a debate in this House to determine whether they are going to get an increase as though that was not their right.

The injured workers are sitting out there wondering how the debate will end or if it will end now. They are wondering whether we will be able to get higher increases for them, as though the Minister of Labour should have that right to determine what an injured worker should receive. It should be automatic.

As long as the level of income, the civility with which we treat injured workers, is dependent upon the whim of a Minister of Labour, then it is wrong.

Does not the horrible thought strike the minister that the bully-boy of the Ontario Legislature, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), could some day be Minister of Labour? Injured workers would starve to death in the province with that bully-boy in as Minister of Labour. Yet that is what he is saying.

As long as it requires a separate bill of the Ontario Legislature, it is at the whim of whoever sits in the seat of the Minister of Labour. That is wrong. How does the minister justify that? I hope the minister will tell me when he replies -- when he is finished talking to somebody over there -- how he justifies having injured workers wait for a bill to come through the Legislature, at the whim of the Minister of Labour, to determine whether to keep up with the cost of living.

8:30 p.m.

When I talked earlier about injured workers being penalized financially, I was talking about the given level of benefits at any given time. But as time erodes that, as inflation erodes the level of benefits, it is a double whammy. I get the impression I am going to have to speak more directly to the Minister of Labour, because he is not paying any attention. I will speak right to him.

Maybe the minister can tell me about a worker earning, for example, $28,000, who gets hurt on the job, is totally disabled and will then earn 75 per cent of his income. "But it is tax-free," says the minister. What he does not say, at least very clearly, is that it is now based on the ceiling of $22,200. So it is not 75 per cent even of $28,000; it is 75 per cent of $22,200. It is bad enough that he has done that to the injured worker. A year from now, with an inflation rate of 12 to 13 per cent, it will be eroded even further.

Why should the worker be subsidizing inflation? Why should the injured worker be eating inflation? I am sure it does not bother the Minister of Labour very much, because in every speech he makes he talks about how much concern he has but, when it comes to translating concern into legislation, there seems to be a hiatus.

I want to know from the minister if his officials have ever done any kind of estimate on how many injured workers are drawing social assistance of one kind or another. Hlow many of them are receiving some form of welfare assistance? The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) is not here tonight, is he? But the former minister is, and I wonder how that minister would have felt about having injured workers draw upon the budget of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I do not know how many there are, but we can be sure there are some.

I want to know how many dependants of workers killed on the job are living below the poverty line. That is what I want to know. How can the Minister of Labour stand up there proudly and say, "We have one of the best compensation systems in the world," -- that is what he says -- and at the same time explain to me how it is that dependants of workers killed on the job can be living below the poverty line when they would not be if the worker were still alive?

Does the minister understand that question? I am going to repeat it, because he is talking to the bully-boy of the Ontario Legislature, the Minister of Community and Social Services himself. He put on a brilliant performance this afternoon. He is an embarrassment to his whole party and certainly to the cabinet. He can swagger in here if he likes and, when he does not know an answer, bluster and call people --

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, Mr. Laughren. You are being awfully provocative this evening.

Mr. Laughren: He did not know the answer; so he blustered and swore at people.

The Deputy Speaker: Speaking to the bill.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, it is obviously a long time since the minister had to make ends meet or he would not talk in such a stupid fashion about the people he is supposed to be looking after in Ontario.

I will ask the Minister of Labour -- I will ignore the other minister, because he is out to lunch -- how many people in Ontario there are who are dependants of workers killed on the job, who are living below the poverty line and/or who are drawing any kind of social assistance. When the minister can answer those questions, then I will believe he has studied this matter carefully and is bringing in benefits in keeping with need, with some relation to need. But I do not believe he is. I do not believe he knows.

Mr. Mancini: You know he cannot answer that question.

Mr. Laughren: No, I do not know he cannot answer that question. I presume he does not bring in amendments with specific dollars attached to them unless he knows they are based on need. He is not the Minister of Community and Social Services; he would not do that. The Minister of Community and Social Services would do it, but surely not the Minister of Labour.

I would ask the Minister of Labour, is there no rationale at all, is there no sense in that ministry that it is time the private sector or the public sector -- if that is the employer -- should pay their share when workers get injured? Is there no sense that they should pay their share for the injured worker and for the dependants when that worker gets killed? I really wonder why the minister is so reticent about bringing in decent levels of benefits.

I know the pressure the minister is under. He has the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, he has the chambers of commerce and the Ontario Mining Association telling him, "You keep those levels down."

I would ask the minister: Does he not think that an adequate level of compensation benefits might be a very good incentive for good working conditions on the job, for good, safe working conditions? I want to tell the minister if he had the kind of compensation benefits to injured workers that he should have, he would have employers in Ontario a lot more safety minded than they are now. There would be less of a drain on the public purse through people drawing from the Community and Social Services funds and he would end up with a safer work place in the province.

He will not do that. He always succumbs to the pressures to keep assessments down in the private sector. That is fundamentally wrong. That is why we say to the minister again and again that we do not believe the answer is simply to increase benefits. We do not think it is that simple.

What we have said to the minister is that there is a better model. We say there is a need for a comprehensive social insurance system in Ontario which says that regardless of where people are hurt and irrespective of fault, they will be compensated for their injury.

Let us face it, a person gets up in the morning to go to work. If they get hurt before they leave their home or if they get hurt on their way to work or if they get hurt just outside the gates of work, it is all tied in with getting to work. To say that one can make this arbitrary and phoney distinction between people injured on the job and people injured somewhere else is a relic of the past. Virtually every person or group who carefully studies this matter comes to that conclusion. The people who look at it superficially do not. They think they just see a bureaucracy in place and it frightens them.

When one talks about the select committee on company law, where we had to look at it, members should have seen the change in the views of members from all three parties on that select committee on company law; how their views changed. I am not saying they are all immediately going to embrace this concept, but members should have seen how their views changed during hearings on sickness and accident insurance and how they became much more open about the need for this kind of system.

The Wodehouse commission in New Zealand looked at it and came to this conclusion. Saskatchewan had a white paper on it, Manitoba had a white paper on it. They all came to the same conclusion. I am very anxious to see the conclusion Paul Weiler comes to, and whether or not he comes to the same conclusion.

The point I am trying to make is it seems that whenever someone looks at this problem carefully -- because there are many more people injured off the job than on the job -- it seems they come to the same conclusion: that we have to end those phoney distinctions and put into place a comprehensive system. In Saskatchewan they have recommended that there be a comprehensive system.

Mr. Mancini: is that the law now?

Mr. Laughren: No, it is not law now. They were costing it out this past year and it is anticipated it will be brought in.

Mr. Mancini: It took them a whole year?

Mr. Laughren: It took them more than a year. I would be quite happy if the Minister of Labour says it would take a year. I would not hassle him at all. I would be willing to have him set up a royal commission. I think it requires very careful study. It is not something anyone should rush into, but I believe it is the answer and I believe the Minister of Labour should, at some point, appoint either a royal commission or some kind of study to really look at this thing very carefully. We are not going to solve the problem with the existing system.

The minister knows himself that we have changed chairmen of the compensation board, we changed from an old building to a new building, we changed from a horizontal filing system to a vertical filing system and nothing changes. We brought in more computers. We decentralized the board and still the problems go on.

8:40 p.m.

As a matter of fact, the minister who just came in knows of the problems with the compensation board. Every new Minister of Labour who is appointed says the same thing, "I am going to straighten out that compensation board." I can hear them muttering it to themselves as they go to sleep at night.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I don't mutter.

Mr. Laughren: Yes, I heard that when the minister was in Chapleau she was even muttering about changing the compensation system in Ontario. When the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) came in he too muttered about changing the board and making it more humane. I was told that is what he was muttering just before he went to sleep one night. But he still has not done it.

If he were to bring in a system like this he might he able to free up some funds so that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) would be able to provide an adequate level of support for the people he is supposed to be representing, the people he sneers at and regards as so much riff-raff. That is what the Minister of Community and Social Services does, and it did not take him long to lose his credibility as a minister in that portfolio.

I will conclude my remarks. But I ask the minister to tell us, when he replies at some point this month or next, how he justifies the fact that injured workers who receive, to use my example, $28,000 a year and end up receiving full compensation are penalized under his system -- it is his economic system, not mine -- and how he justifies that kind of behaviour on the part of government, because he is condoning it by bringing in this kind of legislation.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker. as my associate has suggested, we are going to support this bill for the simple reason that this party is definitely in favour of doing everything that can be done for an injured worker.

I take exception to the fact that the very last time we were debating such a bill the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) spread grossly unjust accusations about my participation in the bill. When I challenged all those Socialists to point out in Hansard where comments were made they fell on their noses, as they did in the election. They came up with nothing. They continue to do it, and they touch half the bill without ever addressing themselves to some of the real facts of life, as I propose to do now.

They talk about the great realm of Saskatchewan and all the other great socialistic states where all these great and wonderful things are done, and I imagine that what those Socialists do first is to print their own money four or five years before they go bust.

In such a bill as we have before us tonight I agree wholeheartedly with what the minister is attempting to do, and I would suggest that no worker who is injured should ever have to live on any less money than he did when he was on the job.

In fact, I will go a step further and suggest that workers should be covered whether they are injured on the job or on their way to the job or on their way home. But then the minister would be on the horns of a dilemma, because then he would have to address himself to something I have asked for since I came to this Legislature: that a fair amount of the cost should be picked up from the public purse, simply because there are many areas where one hurts a small business.

Mr. Laughren: Ah, now the truth comes out: less for the businesses to pay. We thought he would get to that.

Mr. Kerrio: The honourable member would not understand that at all, so he should not interject.

Large businesses can take any kind of assessment one puts on them and pass it through and the public picks it up in the end. That is the easy way to do it. There are literally hundreds of small businesses out there that are borderline. These assessments do not come out of profits; they come out of the fundamentals that a small company has to work with.

I suggest to the minister, in all fairness, there should be an enlargement of the scope where a worker or anyone is covered. Your leg is just as broken if you break it on the way to work as it is if you break it on the job -- there is no question about that. But I suggest the minister has never addressed himself to that problem, because then there would have to be some assessment made of a fair share to be paid from the public purse.

I say with due respect, there are many areas and many small companies with a clean bill of health relating to accidents in the work place which have paid assessments over the years and which are suffering. What we are doing now is adding a burden, like some of the built-in pensions with built-in increments of increase that are being handed on to the next person. Those are great things to do and we should do them, but we should make certain the charges are put in the proper place.

I suggest more assessment has to be made on the profits raised from large corporations coming into the public purse so we do not put an immeasurable and infinite pressure on small companies that are in bad shape and can ill afford to pick up extra costs at this time. It has nothing to do with the content of the bill. I said that the last time. I stand here and again say clearly that I want widows, injured workers and people to be looked after in this country.

I really resent the fact the Socialists twist those words around and use them to their own ends to suggest that because I represent business in any way I am being unfair to an injured worker.

Mr. Laughren: We've seen how you have voted over the years.

Mr. Kerrio: I will tell the member for Nickel Belt. he does more riding on the backs of the workers than anybody else in this whole Legislature and they have carried him a good long distance, sometimes to their detriment. I suggest to him this is very often the case.

The comments I have made are justified. They should be considered by the minister. They have been considered many times in the past but nothing has been done about it. It is due time those considerations were made. We should not toy in the bill with what we give the worker. My concern is in two areas: One, any worker should be paid whether he is hurt on the job or not and, two, we should participate in a meaningful way because it is very easy, and is typical of some people, to make great and wonderful laws as long as somebody else picks up the tab.

That is the message I gave before. It is clear and concise this time. I challenged those people to take that from Hansard the last time and I challenge them again this time. We support the bill. I just wish the minister would address himself to the questions I raised about the funding and try to be fairer to some of the small businesses that cannot afford to carry some of the burdens placed on them when in many instances they are not responsible. Society should be prepared to pay its fair share.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my confirmation to what my colleague the member for Nickel Belt has said about the shocking inadequacies of the present workmen's compensation legislation in this province. I would particularly like to protest the fact that workers have to wait for the whim of the government before they get increases in the benefits to which they are entitled.

We got the old age pension and Canada pension plan indexed largely as a result of the action of the New Democratic Party during a period of minority government in Ottawa. Unfortunately, we have not yet succeeded in getting workmen's compensation benefits indexed in this province. What it means is, when the workers have to wait for a bill of this sort to come in, they have been suffering a steady cut in their standard of living between the various whims of the minister and the government. The employers who pay the assessments and who are responsible for the accidents are being subsidized by the workers during this period.

A great many of my constituents are in the construction trades. Because of the nature of their work and the inadequacy of government enforcement of safety standards, many of them unfortunately suffer injuries and even death on the job. Others work in industries where they are exposed to hazardous substances and other dangerous conditions. As a result, a great many of them come to my office for assistance with workmen's compensation claims. They come because they do not appear to be getting the kind of justice to which they should be entitled if they are involved in an industrial or work place accident.

8:50 p.m.

It would appear they come because the attitude of the board is to save money and to keep compensation down in order to keep assessments down. It would appear the attitude of the board is that workers are not entitled to be compensated to the full extent of their financial and physical loss. Certainly the present legislation, as my colleague has pointed out, leaves them with a considerable gap between their actual loss and the amount of compensation they receive.

These workers did not ask to be injured. They do not really control the conditions under which they work, even under the new occupational health legislation. The principle of workmen's compensation should be that a worker who is injured should be compensated so that he is no worse off than he was before the accident. If he needs retraining, special clothing or special appliances he should get them, whatever his needs are and for as long as he needs them, because none of these would have been necessary if he had not been injured.

Second, he should be restored to his opportunity to earn a living and to support his family on the same standard as he was able to before the accident. That is one of the greatest deficiencies in this act. It does not provide for that kind of restoration of earning power. Once the board decides that a worker is able to go back to light work, he is cut off compensation. But there may be no light work available, either in his previous work place or in the labour market generally. The board takes little responsibility for helping him find light work.

It seems to me the real answer is to put the onus to provide light work on the employer where the accident occurred. In most operations there is often work which is not being done because the employer thinks it is of marginal value. But if he had to provide light work for injured workers he would probably find jobs that really needed to be done -- perhaps he did not think it was financially wise to institute them. It does not have to be featherbedding. He can find jobs in his establishment that would be creative and would probably increase the efficiency of the establishment.

In the event he has no possibility of finding meaningful light work for injured workers, it seems to me it would be logical to ask him to pay an extra assessment to provide funds for a job-finding agency in the board. We must guarantee that workers who are injured get back their opportunity to earn their full standard of living that they had before.

I was glad to see the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) endorsing what has long been NDP policy, that people should receive compensation for injuries regardless of where they happen --

Mr. Kerrio: It has always been my policy.

Ms. Copps: He started it.

Ms. Bryden: I think we should extend the principle of workmen's compensation legislation to all citizens who suffer accidental injury. There would have to be funding from some source other than employers, but I think all of us should share in the cost of compensating people who suffer accidental injury.

I regret we have to wait every time for increases of the sort we are getting. Naturally we are supporting the bill, because we want the workers to get even the minimal increases in this bill, But there are a great many increases that fall short of what they need in order to restore them to the position they were in before the accident. Therefore, I hope we will have new legislation or that the new bill in the fall will greatly improve the situation.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, once again we have placed before the legislative chamber a piece of legislation that could be described as patchwork, and not very good patchwork at that.

We have sat in this chamber for the past several years and for a while we watched the former Minister of Labour (Miss Stephenson) showing her concern for injured workers and talking about their needs. Yet whenever the time came to do something about it, she fell short of the mark. For the past two years we have had a new Minister of Labour who on every available occasion rises and shares his concern. He puts himself in the forefront of people who have concerns, yet the only time he has a chance to put his concern into action, into something injured workers can feel and use to carry on their livelihood, he also falls short.

I want to know from the Minister of Labour -- and I see the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) is interjecting --


Mr. Mancini: That's right. It does hurt, Mr. Speaker. It does hurt when the government steals nickels from the injured workers. It certainly does hurt.

The minister and I both know this legislation increasing benefits to injured workers falls short when compared to the rate of inflation over the past couple of years. It certainly does. So I ask the minister, after he has made the injured workers wait for a far longer period than they should have, why does he chisel nickels and dimes from them? There is really no justification for it.

Mr. Wrye: Tell him to keep the promise.

Mr. Mancini: That's right. We need to keep the promise, as my friend the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) has said. The government spent the whole month of February and the first part of March telling the people of Ontario it would keep the promise. Yet the first opportunity they get to introduce some form of legislation for people who are totally defenceless, for people who cannot fend for themselves any longer as far as working in our society is concerned, they fall short of the mark. They fail to keep the promise.


Mr. Mancini: The member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) is one of the 30 who are speaking at the present time.

I want to know from the minister why it is taking so long for comprehensive changes to the Workmen's Compensation Act and to the operation of the board. The minister told us before Christmas, when the Weiler report was tabled in the House, that an internal review committee, with some outside help, would be reviewing the Weiler report and that comprehensive changes would be made. What we have before us now is patchwork.

I wonder why the Minister of Labour -- a person who is always the first in this House to express his concern, always the first to say that he cares, always the first to say things need to be improved as far as legislation concerning injured workers and other labour area legislation is concerned -- I wonder why this minister has no answer to the question: why is he willing to bring before this chamber this type of legislation.

9 p.m.

What he is doing is similar to what the former Minister of Labour did. She cajoled the House, she tried to pacify things and she tried to look concerned. After a while she was shuffled off to a new job. That is what is happening to the present Minister of Labour: he is trying the same tactics. We are getting tired of that over here. We are getting tired of cabinet ministers being appointed to such sensitive posts as Minister of Labour, responsible for the Workmen's Compensation Board, telling us time and again that actions are forthcoming: that the Weiler report, for example, will have certain changes brought forward to the operation of the Workmen's Compensation Board.

He will pacify us. During the last session we saw how good the abilities of the Minister of Labour were in pacifying people. He had the whole front row of the New Democratic Party almost silent concerning labour legislation and workmen's compensation problems. He had the Sudbury members eating right out of the palm of his hand.

Mr. Kerrio: They have never been more silent since they got here.

Mr. Mancini: They had never been more silent than in the past 12 months since the Minister of Labour assumed --

Mr. Boudria: They were in bed together; that is why.

An hon. member: Now they are back with 30 members.


Mr. Mancini: That is right. That is one of the reasons the New Democratic Party is back with 30 members -- because they were so silent in the past 12 months.

I know it is getting late and it is almost July 1. I know some of the New Democratic Party members have told me they want to stay around for those nickel hot dogs that are being served on Wednesday, as well the 10-cent ice cream.

Mr. Speaker, we stand before you again and lay the same arguments before you. We tell you again that the legislation governing injured workers is piecemeal. As an increase it falls far short of the mark compared to inflation. Yet we have to stand here and support the legislation. We have to give the injured workers at least what the government has proposed. We certainly cannot deny them that.

Even if there is going to be a cabinet shuffle late next fall, and even if the minister is going to be removed from his sensitive post, he had an opportunity to change a long-standing problem which troubled the people of Ontario and which affects seriously the injured workers of Ontario. I am sorry to say that he has decided like his predecessor to use the strategy of speaking in a nice manner, saying he is concerned --


Mr. Brandt: Might as well sit down; it is all over.

Mr. Mancini: That is right. The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) was one of the members from Sudbury who at the time was eating from the palm of the Minister of Labour. He fell silent for more than a year. Any time the Minister of Labour said, "Jump, you are my tacit ally," the member for Sudbury East said, "How high?"

Mr. Speaker, I say to you that the Minister of Labour has probably lost his opportunity, his one chance, to change and to make the laws governing injured workers more fair, because we know, come this fall, he will be shifted from that sensitive portfolio and a new Minister of Labour will be installed and we will get the complete runaround again.

The new minister will appoint an internal committee to study the committee that studied the Weiler report and will go around and around, and two years from now will be introducing another bill, similar to Bill 129, which gives a basic percentage increase to the injured workers and improves a few other benefits, but falls far short of the comprehensive changes we need in the laws governing the Workmen's Compensation Board.

We need changes that will streamline the system, that will shorten the length of time for appeals. We need changes that will make more advisers available to defend injured workers at their hearings. We need changes that will improve their benefits. I could go on and on. We are not going to get that from this particular Minister of Labour, although he had the chance to present to this chamber such legislation. It is sad, but we have to accept what is put before us, because we certainly do not want to deny the injured workers of our province the increase the government wishes to give them at this time.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak briefly on the amendments proposed by the minister, and I hope to make more sense than some other colleagues who spoke before me.

We have been critical of the Ministry of Labour and the Workmen's Compensation Board, because for many years this government has not been able to understand that Ontario is changing. This is no longer the agricultural province it was when the Workmen's Compensation Board was introduced. In fact, today we have a system that is no longer the best, as some of the Ministers of Labour -- and some of them are present in the House -- used to say. It is at the point that the minister himself has recognized it needs a total shakeup.

Despite that, using the tactics that this government uses whenever any change has to be introduced, the minister is trying to gain time. He appointed the Weiler commission in January 1980 and in November 1980 we had the first report. Last week, the minister tabled the white paper and some time in 1982 there will be some legislation. There will be a commission that will analyse and investigate all the presentations that will be submitted to the minister, and eventually, three or four years down the road, there will be some changes.

We know it is not difficult to reshape the system if there is a political determination on the part of the government, but we know that political determination is not there, not even when we have some proven cases like two months ago when we discussed the report of the Ombudsman that made a proposal that was sensible, a proposal dictated by common sense. Section 41 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, which was the basis of the dispute, was interpreted by the Workmen's Compensation Board in a way that practically penalizes most of the injured workers who are recognized as having a partial permanent disability. The Ombudsman, using common sense, said that was wrong. He said: "Whenever the Workmen's Compensation Board assesses a disability it must take into account not only the clinical feature of the injured worker but all the circumstances that make him disabled and incapable of working or returning to the labour market."

9:10 p.m.

Despite the fact that was a very limited change in the structure of the Workmen's Compensation Board the government members voted against that recommendation. That is why I am very suspicious of the proposals the government has -- the white paper and the legislation that will result from the white paper.

Tonight we are discussing limited amendments to the Workmen's Compensation Act. Even on this occasion the government is proving there are two types of justice in our society. There is one type for those who can fight and another for those who cannot -- those who are defenceless or vulnerable, those who cannot lobby or apply pressure on the government and ultimately those who have no electoral weight.

The amendments not only do not compensate injured workers properly, they fall far below the increased cost of living from 1979 when the last amendments were introduced. That is particularly regrettable. We know how inequitable the system is of setting the pensions for injured workers. In 10 years the pensions of injured workers will be the only ones in Canada that have fallen below the cost of living by a very large margin. In fact we have calculated that between 1971 and 1981 injured workers lost 39 per cent despite the present increases.

There is no correlation at all between the pensions of injured workers and the average industrial wage or the consumer price index. Neither is there any correlation with any other mechanism used in our society to ensure that groups -- be they pensioners, MPPs, industrial workers or whatever -- can regain what they lost because of inflation.

Today, with these amendments, we will still have widows receiving $447 in July 1980 and $492 in July 1981. Even if the minister did not want to listen to us -- even if he disagrees with the idea of a general insurance scheme along the lines of the one we are proposing -- he could have listened to Professor Weiler. A general insurance scheme was adopted not only by New Zealand -- mistakenly we often say -- but in many other industrial countries as well in different ways. On this point the minister has the opinion of Professor Weiler.

I think if he had moved the widows' pensions up to a decent level there would be nobody in this chamber who would oppose that decision -- if nothing else because it is based on human understanding. I think it will be very difficult for the minister to justify the $492 to a widow who has lost the main breadwinner in the family in most cases and who suffered not only an economic loss but also a loss in terms of human dignity, of human relationship within and outside the family. She should not be penalized by receiving only $492 a month. I think there is no justification at all. I do not understand how the minister can stand up and say this is reasonable; it is not.

I do not think the minister can even tell us that, at this point in time, if we increase the pension there would be an increase in the assessment of the companies as our colleague the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) quite mistakenly says. In the last three years, there has been no increase at all in the assessment. He is a fine fellow but he is misguided and misinformed, unfortunately. There has been no increase at all in the last three years in the assessment. I think that with the cost of living increasing the way it is increasing and since there has been no increase in the assessment of the employers, the minister, if he had the political determination, could have found the money necessary to give the injured workers decent increases.

What is most depressing in this bill is the fact that the minister at this time does not address one of the single fundamental questions that the injured workers are complaining about and have been complaining about for a long while. This bill does not change at all the situation of those injured workers who are partially disabled and who are unable to get back into the labour market; not through their fault but because the rehabilitation department of the Workmen's Compensation Board does not work. Actually, it is a mockery despite the fact that the Workmen's Compensation Board tells us that they were able to find 3,000 jobs last year and 2,700 or so in 1979.

All of us know that many of the injured workers are placed back with the financial assistance of the Workmen's Compensation Board. After a while, when the assistance decreases, they are laid off by their employers because at that point it is not convenient for them to pay decent wages for what now is cheap labour. The minister does not address this very important issue that is becoming an increasingly insufferable burden for thousands and thousands of partially disabled injured workers.

With the present amendments, the minister does not say anything about the assessment itself and the way the doctors operate. We know the horror stories that we are dealing with every day when we go to the Workmen's Compensation Board when we are assisting our constituents in their appeals at the board. All of us know that no matter what the opinion of the family doctor is, no matter what the opinion of specialists chosen by the injured workers is, the final word always rests with the so-called consultants of the boards. We know that in some cases the opinions of the doctors of the boards are self-serving and against the best interests of the injured workers, which means against justice.

We support this amendment to the act because it is necessary but it is an act of despair. The injured workers are out there and for two years they have not received a one penny increase. We think this is shameful. I want to tell members that we will be pressing and will keep pressing the government --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Proceed Mr. Di Santo.

Mr. Di Santo: I understand some of my colleagues may not be interested in what we are discussing but I speak --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Are you talking about your own colleagues?

Mr. Di Santo: I did not single out the member for Niagara Falls, as I did last year when he made disgraceful remarks in this House. I said my colleagues in general, because I think this is an issue that is important not only for the constituents for whom we speak, but it speaks directly to the political will of this government to bring some justice to a system which the government itself recognizes is unjust and inequitable.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I will be exceedingly brief. I do not intend to comment on what is needed in the Workmen's Compensation Board. I think that has been covered tonight, and I hope we will get a crack at that and not have to wait as long as another year and probably longer, as seems to be the case with some of the things we wait for from this government. I cannot help thinking of toxic substances. I hope we do not wait as long for proper changes in the Workmen's Compensation Act as we have waited for legislation to protect us against toxic substances.

I do, however, simply want to ask a couple of direct questions of the minister. I would like to ask why we do not get an increase that fully makes up for increases in the cost of living. Unless I am doing some incorrect figuring, my figures indicate that in the two years since the last increases we have had about a 23 per cent increase in the cost of living. I do not see that kind of increase -- unless I am figuring incorrectly -- in the figures that are shown here. For a dependent widow or widower, $410 a month to $447 a month is nine per cent, and $492 is another 10.1 per cent. That to me is 19 per cent. It seems to me that not only have they had to wait two years for an increase, but we are shortchanging them almost four per cent.

There is something wrong with that. I would like to know why we take so long to bring about an increase in money that is desperately needed by these people, and then when we do we really are nickel and diming by not meeting the full cost of living increase, which is the minimum that we should be moving in a bill like this. If we are not prepared to make the changes that are needed generally, at least these people should be keeping up with the cost of living. I would really like an answer from the minister as to why they are not.

Mr. Martel: I am going to be extremely brief as well, Mr. Speaker, but I could not resist the comments from the member for Windsor or some exotic place (Mr. Mancini) about my relationship with the minister --

Mr. Cooke: Essex South, not Windsor.

Mr. Martel: Wherever he might come from.

Mr. Cooke: They threw him out of Windsor.

Mr. Martel: If we were to get beyond the bill and deal with the problems we could be here for a week. I hope the Weiler report will change some of it. What bothers me more than anything is that it takes two years for an increase, because while some of us can afford to wait a second year -- the last raise goes back two years -- people who are on low incomes or fixed incomes or who are partially reliant on increases cannot afford to do so.

I really get amazed when I see us giving a raise. We make it retroactive, and that is fine. But the working-class people who do not have a lot of income really feel that pinch every year. They are affected most by the increases in inflation. For us to wait two years -- and it is a pattern -- is irresponsible. That is why my colleagues and I will move an amendment tonight to try to make some automatic changes, because we do not think it is just to wait two years for those increases.

People on $30,000 incomes, of course, might not find it as difficult to survive as people on very small fixed incomes either from pensions or from the board. I just think it is totally perverse that we have to go a two-year period. It seems to me it is time we moved to an annual adjustment so that people could keep up with the ravages of inflation. So although these raises are welcome, we will move some amendments to try to increase them to make up for the times when people have lost.

The adjustments we make always remind me of family benefits. In family benefits we took an arbitrary figure a number of years ago and we have been adding percentages to it over the years. But we have never gone back to deal with the real costs at the time those rates were established, and the same applies to the Workmen's Compensation Board. We have not picked up the slack period for a number of years when there were no raises; we have simply added on.

Although those rates take into account to some degree the rates of inflation, what we have not done is to go back to those years where we did not give raises to make up for the period lost. We are simply adding on to what was inadequate at that time, without making the adjustment necessary to make up for the period when there were no adjustments.

My friend the Minister of Labour will probably argue that these are legitimate, we have six or seven years' experience, but we have never gone back for that long period when pensions were not adjusted. I think Dr. Bounsall used to indicate the rate that was lost over those years was something like 38 or 39 per cent. The figure may not be quite precise, but we have never made up for that hiatus when we did not give raises. We might find it a lot simpler to accept the amount if that period were adjusted now. Then we could say, yes, we will settle for nine or 10 per cent, but to add nine and 10 per cent on to something that was allowed to be devastated over a number of years is irresponsible. Therefore, we have some difficulty in adding eight or nine or 10 per cent over two years, because of what was not accounted for in the period we did not make those adjustments.

Let me say, finally, I still have great difficulty in understanding what in the hell the compensation board is all about as it pertains to back problems. This is not in the bill, but I want to tell the minister that I continue to be frustrated dealing with at least 20 cases a week, most of them with back problems. As far as I am concerned, the knowledge that prevails at the Workmen's Compensation Board pertaining to back difficulties would fit in a thimble. Its whole attitude to people with back difficulties would also fit in an equally small thimble.

We are not changing it. I well recall a member sitting on the back benches a number of years ago and indicating that he thought the amount of knowledge pertaining to backs was limited. I hope this minister will recognize that problem and do something very dramatic at the board.

Mr. Laughren: He might listen to that former member.

Mr. Martel: He might listen to that former member, who was a back-bencher at one time, and do something very dramatic about back difficulties, because they all lead to pensions, as the minister knows. They also lead to all the psychological problems and so on. Nothing has changed in respect to that since the minister who now occupies that chair became minister.

I have great hope that will change, because I think when it does all of us in this Legislature who represent industrial workers will find many of those problems will disappear. If we get some people at the board, top-notch orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who know something about that field and have some empathy for the workers, if we could get an attitude that would change at the board, many of the problems of the workers, and those of us in here who represent them, would disappear. I would urge this minister to do something about that very serious problem.

Mr. Speaker: Does any other honourable member wish to participate? If not, Mr. Minister.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, my remarks will be brief. If I may, first of all, I would like to clarify the matter of the amount we propose the interim pension benefits be increased. I would ask particularly the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) and some others who have questioned me about it to refer to the consumer price index of April 1981, Statistics Canada, where it says quite clearly that the average annual increase in cost of living in 1979 was 9.1. In 1980 it was 10.1. Rounded out that comes to nine and 10, and compounded that comes to 19.9. If they look through the various increases they will see that, on average, they come out to about 20 per cent.

So I am not sure where people are getting the figure of 23 per cent, because that is the way these increases have been approached over the years. That is the way it was approached in 1974 when 10 per cent was given, in 1975 when 11 per cent was given, and in succeeding years when the cost of living has been matched according to previous years. One cannot base an average cost of living index on only part of a year. One has to go the full year if one is going to take the average for the year.

9:30 p.m.

Mr. Mackenzie: Six months behind.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is the only way one can do it, to look back at a previous full year's average. That is what has been done in the past and there is no attempt to deceive anybody on it. If the member will refer to those figures, he will see it is exactly what we have done again this year.

These are interim amendments and I made that quite clear. Originally, members will recall that Professor Paul Weiler in his report felt that, if the kinds of changes he was recommending were being considered, it seemed inappropriate to introduce further interim amendments because there were numerous problems he had pointed out in the benefit structure of the board and those problems had to be corrected rather than perpetuated.

Since two years had elapsed, since the task of translating a philosophical point of view into legislation was clearly not an easy one and required explanatory material so no one would be able to say the whole matter had not been clearly understood prior to the government considering major reform, I felt in view of those factors -- the time and the fact it is a totally new act we are thinking of with major revisions -- further amendments were indicated at this time.

The member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) talked about widows' pensions and she is quite right. That is an area that Professor Weiler zeroed in on quite appropriately as an area that has to be addressed. He zeroed in on the area the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) talked about, the need to have a higher ceiling so a greater number of people earning higher levels of income are adequately compensated.

He also zeroed in on the fact there are a large number of people on permanent partial pensions who have never suffered any income loss. For those people, these benefits we are introducing tonight will be stacked. They will be added on to a situation where a large percentage of people have never suffered an income loss.

I do not say that in any critical way. That is the way the legislation was established many years ago. It is one of the inequities Professor Weiler pointed out. There is a great need, in his view, to use those funds to increase the benefits for widows and dependants and to increase the overall benefits including the ceiling level.

I kind of resent the member for Nickel Belt saying this is all we can squeeze out, since it follows exactly the cost of living index. It hardly looks to me anything like squeezing.

The member for Hamilton Centre commented about the temporary total increases that occur only after 24 months. I know there is no reason why she should know it, but if she will look at section 41(a)(1) and (2) she will see the act already has built into it -- not in the bill, but in the act itself as last revised -- a 10 per cent increase after 12 months.

I imagine for the person it is now 10 per cent after 24 months because we are finding there are many people on temporary benefits for more than 12 months. Incidentally, the 10 per cent after 12 months was introduced for the first time two years ago in recognition of the fact that was a problem area. The member is quite right.

I am advised by the board with regard to the member's question about clothing allowances that the adjudicators do advise on the entitlement to that. If that is not what she is finding, clearly we should know about it, because as far as the board is concerned adjudicators do advise pensioners of their entitlement to that.

The member for Nickel Belt is back on his old class-based system and he knows I do not accept there is a class system in society. I think we have a mobile society with the right to move up and down. My parents did it. I do not know what my friend is trying to establish in this society, but that is not the way it is built, in my view, and that is the way this party sees it.

An hon. member: Divide and conquer.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Divide and conquer is the old rule.

I am shocked by the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I say that with respect because that is a riding near and dear to my heart. I am shocked she should say, "Employers are responsible for accidents." They sometimes are, but that was the very essence of the reason that great Canadian and Ontarian, former Premier Sir James Whitney, introduced workmen's compensation in 1914.

It was so that workers who were responsible for their own injuries would not be left without anything, while those with accidents that were the responsibility of the employer would benefit totally. I am surprised and shocked that the member should try to use that phrase to try to divide society again. That is something this party does not accept but I know it is part of her philosophy.

"Payments at the whim of the minister" is also a rather odd thing for her to say. If we look back over the past few years, payments have always been made. They may not have been made on an annual basis but they have been made retroactive when there has been a delay. I think this whim business is something that is good for rhetoric but it really does not mean very much.

The member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) is concerned about the delay with Professor Weiler. I would ask him to get out his slide rule, and if he really looks at it he will see there is no process that has moved faster, from the day Professor Weiler was appointed to the fact that we now have before us a white paper covering a proposed bill, comments on each of the principles Professor Weiler suggested and costing. I will tell my friends in the House that I do not know anything that has moved so quickly. I know the member had to say that for his own reasons, but let us not --

Mr. Peterson: Do you know any reasons?

Mr. Martel: Only one of them.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I know the member is sitting beside the potential leader of the party, who is getting very noisy at this hour. We understand that too.

Mr. Peterson: Fortunately, you will never lead anything.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I may lead something but it will not be what the member is talking about.

I am very grateful for the support that has been indicated. I am a little distressed because I understand there are going to be some amendments proposed which in some cases recommend 90 per cent increases and on average recommend 56 per cent increases in benefits. I think that shows a degree of irresponsibility in the face of the major recommendations that have been tabled in the white paper, but I am prepared to have those given the consideration they deserve.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, before you call this bill, is the minister prepared to comment on back injuries? Obviously, he is not. He is ducking it.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I did not see the matter of back injuries mentioned in the interim benefits hill.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 89, An Act to provide for the Consolidation of Hearings under certain Acts of the Legislature.

Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.

On section 5:

Mr. Chairman: Ms. Bryden moves that section 5(2) he renumbered 5(2)(a) and the following he added as section 5(2)(b):

"The joint hoard shall take into consideration:

(i) all of the acts under which the hearing is held and the regulations under the acts, and

(ii) all public policies related to the undertaking and the joint hoard may approve an undertaking only if the undertaking satisfies the criteria for approval under each of the acts referred to in clause (a) and policies referred to in clause (b)."

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, speaking to the amendment, the purpose of this amendment is to make absolutely clear that when the joint hoard is rendering a decision or issuing an order, it will consider the acts under which the undertaking would have come if there had not been a joint hoard set up. It will consider the regulations of those acts as well. In other words, if an undertaking would have had a hearing under the Environmental Assessment Board and under the Ontario Municipal Board and perhaps under the Ontario Water Resources Act or one of the other acts in the schedule, it would consider those.

9:40 p.m.

When a joint hoard is set up it holds a hearing, but the hearing has to be in accord with the terms of those acts under which there would have been a hearing without Bill 89. We want to make sure the precedents will be taken into consideration as well as the general public policies for the undertaking which were envisaged in the acts under which the undertaking normally comes.

We want to be sure the joint board will approve the undertaking only if it satisfies all the criteria under each of the acts referred to. It may not satisfy the criteria for only one or two of the acts -- in the cases where there are three acts involved it must satisfy the criteria for all three acts or all of the acts that are involved in the hearing under the joint board setup.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, very briefly, a concern was raised a number of times during the course of committee hearings on this bill by a number of groups that made presentations. If there were convened joint board hearings under two or three acts, the tendency would be to hand down a decision based perhaps on the weight of the decision. For example, if the board found in favour of two of the acts under the hearing being satisfied then perhaps they would render a decision on the basis of two out of three.

The minister along with his staff attempted to assure us this was not the case. However we felt quite strongly it should be clearly spelled out in the act so there would be no mistakes or misunderstandings, especially in terms of people being appointed to boards in areas wherein they had not had a lot of experience with a combination of acts. None of the participants in hearings -- proponents and interveners and opponents -- should be confused about what the outcome had to be based on. Basically, all the acts involved in a joint hearing had to be satisfied before any favourable decision to go ahead on a proposal could be made.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, I am in such a popular spot in this Legislature I can hardly see the other members, let alone hear them or even hear myself think. It is not my height that is the problem, I would say to the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel).

I will speak against this specific amendment but in favour of the principle embodied in it. As has been already indicated, during the course of the earlier committee deliberations on this piece of legislation there was some concern expressed with regard to the matter of whether the standards under each act would be observed by the board in arriving at a decision. I think it was indicated at that time that certainly was the intent of the act. I and my staff drafted an amendment which I have now circulated -- I think at least the critics have it -- which I think embodies well the first part of the amendment that is before us in the name of Mr. Swart.

I would take exception to the second part of Mr. Swart's amendment because it is largely unnecessary. It is clear in the legislation the board would have to follow provincial policy. If it was his intention to extend that principle to all possible levels of government -- municipal and otherwise -- policies reflected in the acts of each of them, I would have to take exception to that. I am not sure the board would be in a position where it could do that and still adhere to all of the principles set out in all of the acts it was applying and also be certain to adhere to provincial policy.

I would hope that provincial policy is not in conflict with itself but there certainly might be a situation where there would be a provincial policy which might be in conflict with a particular local policy. It would be impossible in that situation for the board to resolve it. I think it has to be clear that the board would be required to adhere to provincial policy.

I, therefore, have to oppose this amendment and hope the honourable members will find acceptable the amendment I will introduce once this one has been dealt with. I believe there is one other prior to mine.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, the resolution to section 5 as proposed by the minister is unsatisfactory to me and my party. We both have referred to it -- and I apologize that it is somewhat out of order because this has not been moved yet -- but it was referred to by the minister.

His resolution states that the standards and criteria under an act, specified in a notice under section 3 that relates to the undertaking specified in the notice, apply with necessary modification in respect of a decision that may be made by a joint board under this act.

We can accept that, but it does not really deal with the concerns we have here and the concerns that many other groups have -- that if the joint board is dealing with two or three acts it is going to weigh in balance one against another. It might be very apt to make a decision which would be different from decisions which would be made by three separate boards which would be hearing this.

In fact, when three separate boards are holding a hearing those boards have a veto power. If it is dealt with first under the Planning Act, and it turns it down, that kills the project. If it is dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act and is turned down by the Environmental Assessment Board then that in effect kills the project. If it is dealt with by the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and turned down by that body that could kill it -- although that fits into a little bit different category.

What our amendment here attempts to do is to make it clear that any decision which is going to approve an undertaking or approve an application must have the support of the criteria in the acts and the regulations in all of the areas with which it deals.

We are concerned that this will not take place. I am sorry I was not here to speak to this before you did, Mr. Minister, but it was brought on rather quickly. I would like to have had the opportunity to answer this. It seems to us the stated intention of the legislation is that it must conform with each of the acts to receive approval and with each of the criteria, the policies of the government, and if one of them is not met then approval is not given. But in no place in the act can we see where this is stated. The result is there is going to be imbalance, one weighed against the other, and I suppose a majority decision; if it conforms with two or three of the acts, they will rule in favour of the one it does not conform with.

9:50 p.m.

We cannot see how the present act, unless this amendment is incorporated, will ensure that the decision will conform with the act, the regulations and the policies of each section it is dealing with, such as the environment, the zoning or the policies and the regulations under any of the acts. We think our amendment is reasonable. It does not take anything away from the act; in fact, it implements what I understand to be the intention of the act, which is not included in the act elsewhere. I would be pleased if the minister could make any further comments in this regard. We feel strongly about it in this party.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, this whole issue of the fear about a majority decision is something that was discussed in committee, and I think the honourable member was there. I simply do not understand how that is likely to be the case. Clearly the decision has to be the decision of the majority of the members of the board. But the decision cannot be based upon taking three different acts, juggling them and saying, "We have reached two out of three; therefore, that is a majority and we approve it."

It seems to me to be perfectly clear in the legislation, and it will be even more clear. My proposal to introduce an amendment is not an acknowledgement on my part that I think there is any lack of clarity in the bill as it stands now. It really is a concession to those who felt there might be a greater degree of clarity, in order to satisfy the members of the opposition who had a concern as to whether our intention was honourable. In fact, we would take that extra step in an attempt to satisfy their concern.

Otherwise, I think it is perfectly clear in the bill that all the acts apply and that if there is not an approval, at least under the Environmental Assessment Act, that meets the standards required under that act, then there is no approval. If there is not an approval under each of those acts, if the board is not in a position where it can make that decision, then there will be no approval to go ahead with any proposal.

Mr. Swart: It does not say that.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I think it does say that, with great respect, in so far as the acts will apply. I think my proposed amendment will clarify that even further.

I know the chairman is maybe hopeful that I will not stand and respond each time others speak, but I just want everybody in the House to know, particularly those of you over there, that we have survived for a long time in this government on the basis of hard work and stamina, and we still have those characteristics, along with honesty and integrity and so on. I am quite prepared to carry on with you folks right through to September.

Mr. Chairman: Is this speaking to the amendment?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, not quite, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman: I did not think so.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I thought when I was listening to the debate on second reading of the Minister of Labour's bill that many people were missing the obvious principle. The matter of principle that was obviously afoot there was simply to see who had the greatest staying power in this chamber and who was going to hang in longest and --

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Minister, let us speak to the amendment. Are you concluded now?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes.

Mr. Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Charlton.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief. Perhaps I could grab the minister's attention for a moment. I think the minister has perhaps not fully grasped the concern that has been raised.

The concern is not really that if the joint hearing board was considering a matter that fell under the jurisdiction of three acts it would all of a sudden totally disregard any one of the three acts. I think our concern has been suggested in a number of different ways. Assuming under the first two acts considered the proposal gains favour and satisfies the criteria under those acts, after one has gone through that process and has a single board hearing that board, being a collection of human beings -- one, two, three, five, 10, however many we end up with -- is influenced by the process it has already been through. They are influenced in the way they view number three as they are going through it.

All we want in this legislation is that things are spelled out so clearly and precisely that there are no mistakes in terms of how that last piece will be dealt with. We are not suggesting the government or any member of any board intends wilfully to totally disregard any one of the pieces of legislation under a hearing. It is just that the vague way the process is set out in this act will allow people to be influenced by the part of the process they have already been through.

Mr. Chairman: Those in favour of Ms. Bryden's amendment to section 5 will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Charlton moves that section 5(4)(b) be amended by adding the following words after "hearing" in the second line so that the paragraph will now read: "The joint board may direct that the matter or part deferred be decided without a hearing if the joint board is satisfied that in the circumstances a hearing would not be required or would be dispensed with under the act specified in the schedule or prescribed by the regulations that, but for this act, would apply in respect of the undertaking."

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, we had a fairly lengthy discussion about this section in committee. The minister proposed an amendment which was carried by the committee which, although a step in the right direction and an improvement on the original paragraph, we felt was still too vague and opened up another set of questions about what a controversy was under this act.

Instead of spelling it out, as he did in the original draft in section 5(6), he went out with his staff and found totally new wording to use in section 5(4)(b). I will refer members to section 5(6) which deals with the same matter and deals with those circumstances under which a hearing may not be held or a matter may be decided without a hearing.

It is our firm opinion those same conditions, those same criteria, those same reasons for a matter being decided without a hearing should be set out in this paragraph of subsection 4 so there is no misunderstanding; so that in terms of the procedures under this act we are consistent and the way in which the procedures are set out is consistent, so that people will not assume that in this case the procedure is totally different from the procedure as set out under subsection (6).

10 p.m.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, the principle here is basically the same as that in the previous amendment we moved. The principle is that although there is going to be a joint hearing all of these safeguards and all of the directions with regard to hearings that are in the individual act should be followed here.

The proposal by the minister, the proposal by the justice committee, does not follow the procedures that existed under the previous act. If a section of the matter is going to be deferred to some other body they may by this act hold no hearing if, in the opinion of the joint board, the matter apart is not in controversy. I am not just sure what "controversy" means in this instance. It may not be in controversy at that time; it may very well be in controversy if there is going to be a hearing on it. Therefore, we ask why it should not be dealt with in exactly the same way as it would have been under the previous act. This is in fact what is done under subsection 5. What is the difference between here and subsection 5?

My colleague from Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) has taken the exact wording out of subsections (5) and (6) and transferred it to 4(b). Surely if it is good enough for subsection (6) it should be good enough for 4(b). It should conform with the acts that were previously passed by this Legislature and the regulations that were previously legislated by the minister. Why now deviate, why now water down -- because it is going to be a joint board -- the right to certain hearings? It is for this reason we move this amendment.

This amendment should not be controversial. It is a preferable way of dealing with it. I think the minister would even agree to saying that if it is not controversial this refers it back to the original act to carry out the intent of the original act, and what can be wrong with that? Therefore, I ask the minister to give very serious consideration to adopting the amendment and stating his approval of the amendment put forward by my colleague from Hamilton Mountain.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I would just like to add one additional point with regard to the need for this amendment. When a matter is deferred it may be deferred because the issue involved has not been fully set forth and further information or investigations are needed before a hearing could be held or before a decision could be taken. In that case no one would know whether the issue was controversial or not until the facts had been brought forward regarding the piece that was being deferred. Therefore, the proposal in the bill as amended by the committee would not be able to apply, because no one would know whether the issue was controversial or not.

That is why the amendment moved by my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain would clarify the situation where there must be a hearing unless it would not have been required or could be dispensed with under the act in the schedule under which the joint board is set up. That is another reason for adopting this amendment. The controversial point would not apply in cases where one does not have all the facts, and one would not be able to make a decision on that.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps I could respond, Mr. Chairman, to a couple of the concerns that were raised. It is a little repetitious, because we went through this same discussion in standing committee.

I think it is important that members who may have some abiding concern about this section understand the distinction between subsection 6 and this section.

Subsection 6 applies in those situations where there is a provision under a piece of legislation for a hearing upon notice or upon an objection being registered, such as under the Ontario Municipal Board or under the Environmental Assessment Act.

In the course of this process, if the consolidated hearing process had been initiated and subsequently no objection were received from a person under one of those acts -- let us say the Environmental Assessment Act -- surely it would not be the intention of the members that the board would still be required to go ahead and hold a full hearing under that act where it would not normally be required. That is what subsection 6 is saying.

I thought we had reasonably amended subsection 4(b) in committee. It appears in the reprinted version as amended in committee. Here we are talking about the deferral of part, or it might even be the whole of a matter for subsequent decision and providing that it may be without a hearing.

The kind of situation where that might be desirable would be, for example, under the Ontario Water Resources Act where a water line crosses a municipal boundary and it may be completely noncontroversial; therefore, it might be reasonable that the board should be able to defer that matter for ultimate decision without holding a hearing.

I understand that under that act at the present time, if this were not worded in such a way, even if it were a noncontroversial part of a matter, if the board deferred it for certain technical examination, it would still be required to have a separate, subsequent hearing on that matter.

I do not think the honourable members would wish that, especially if the matter is not in controversy. It would not be referred without a hearing, because it would be a matter that would be before the initial hearing, the part that would be deferred without a hearing only if it were noncontroversial, and that seems to me to be eminently fair and allows people to be heard before the initial hearing.

If the honourable members are concerned that the board might get heavy-handed, there is always the check on the board relating to natural justice and the matter could be reviewed by a court. That is something that would always hang over the head of such a tribunal as an ultimate check. I do not think you have to rewrite the rules of natural justice in every piece of legislation.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, again the minister seems to be missing the point. The minister is talking in contradictions and in circles. He just got through telling us that under subsection 6 it is worded in the way that it is so that if a particular act requires that a hearing be held if there are objections, but if there are no objections, we would not want to force the board to hold a hearing. That is what he is telling us the wording in subsection 6 says.

Then he goes on to tell us that under subsection 4(b) we would not want to force the board to hold a hearing on a deferred matter if there were no controversy; in other words, if there were no objections.

We have no objection to that, Mr. Chairman, and we made that very clear. All we want to see is the same wording in subsection 4(b), the wording the minister has told us will allow a board not to hold a hearing under those circumstances that the acts set out where no hearing shall be held; in other words, where there are no objections.

10:10 p.m.

If a matter under subsection 4(b) is deferred, and at the time it is clearly laid out there are no objections, then the wording we have set forth would allow the board not to hold the hearing and decide it without hearing. But the wording the minister has proposed in committee, which the committee accepted around controversy, is worded at the time of deferral, not at the time of explanation. The minister made it very clear to us in committee that a deferral may be as a result of the fact that some part of the proposal is not completed.

Therefore, who can possibly determine controversy at the time at which a matter is being deferred? That is the whole question in this case. It is our view that, to make the act concise, clear and consistent in interpretation, these two sections must be worded in the same way so that the rules for having a hearing are the same and the rules for not having a hearing are consistently the same as well.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Charlton's amendment to section 5 will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Norton moves that section 5 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:

"(7) The standards and criteria in or under an act specified in the notice under section 3 that relate to the undertaking specified in the notice apply with necessary modifications in respect of a decision that may be made by a joint board under this act."

Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I want to move an amendment to the amendment. After the proposed subsection 7, I propose to add the words "and the joint board may approve an undertaking only if the undertaking satisfies the standards and criteria for approval under each of the acts."

If I can speak to this, Mr. Chairman, it adds to the amendment, which the minister has made, what apparently has been deliberately left out. I and this party have no objection to the amendment the minister has made which says: "The standards and criteria in or under an act specified in a notice under section 3 that relate to the undertaking specified in the notice apply with necessary modifications" -- though I do not know what "necessary modifications" means -- "in respect of a decision that may be made by a joint board under this act."

I assume the act implies what the minister has in subsection 7, but what is left out is the determination on the decision that the board will make. The amendment to the amendment will require that, before approval is given, it must satisfy those criteria and standards. That is the really fundamental issue that we in this party --

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Swart, I am trying to interrupt at a convenient point in your debate. I am having some difficulty here, because it appears to me that your proposed amendment to the amendment is very similar to part of the amendment Ms. Bryden had already moved which was defeated in the House.

Mr. Swart: Yes. May I just speak to that, Mr. Chairman? You will recognize that the original amendment which we had before you, and which was moved by Ms. Bryden, did contain some three or four clauses. You are right that this is similar to one of those clauses, but the other clauses are not added; therefore, I would say it is very fundamentally different to the original motion moved by Ms. Bryden.

Mr. Chairman: In my estimation it is a matter of hair-splitting as to whether it is fundamental. Quite frankly, I am having some difficulty with it, because it seems to me it is being repetitive.

Mr. Swart: I will be glad to help you clear up that difficulty, Mr. Chairman. May I point out to you once again that the original motion moved by Ms. Bryden put in a new subsection which had (a) and (b) --

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Swart, as you and I debate, we are just delaying the whole time frame. I am going to call this particular part of your proposed amendment out of order, and I am going to ask if there are any further speakers on the minister's amendment.

All those in favour of Mr. Norton's amendment to section 5 will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Section 5, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 6 and 7 agreed to.

On section 8:

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Charlton moves that section 8(3) be deleted and section 8(4) be appropriately renumbered.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, section 8(3) is another section of the bill that added some controversy during the course of the hearings in committee. The minister tried to point out that this section was supposed to be there to protect those groups who, because of costs and so on, might wish to get involved in a class process under the board's hearing procedures and to have one spokesman speak for a number of groups and/or groups and individuals.

However, it was also pointed out -- and I think the minister concurred with it -- that in the absence of this section, there is nothing in this or any other act that would preclude that anyway. There is nothing to stop one, two or all the environmental groups or all the ratepayers' associations in the province, or whatever else the case might be, from banding together and appointing a joint spokesman to represent them before a board hearing if costs are a serious problem for them.

Most of the groups that made presentations to the board felt they would be better off without this section. This section is supposed to protect them, but most of the groups that made presentations recommended its deletion in their interests as interveners at hearings before a joint board under this act.

For those reasons, we would like to see this section deleted so that there is not some joint board somewhere deciding when there is a class of interveners or concerned participants in a joint board hearing and who the spokesman for that group should be. The groups themselves can deal with those matters and ensure themselves that they are not only best represented but also fully represented at any hearing before a joint board.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I think it is important in this new bill, which is rather ground-breaking legislation, that we make sure there is as much opportunity as possible for interveners to intervene effectively.

It would appear that this clause, if it is left in there, might restrict their freedom to intervene in the way they think best. I would have liked to have seen the bill contain a clause to fund interveners as well so that it would not be a David and Goliath fight, as it is in many cases. Since we do not have that, I do not think we should add clauses that may restrict the powers of interveners to conduct their cases in the best way possible.

I agree that this does not exclude class actions, but it simply does not put them at the behest of the board.

10:20 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I did not understand that last comment, I think.

Mr. Chairman, this whole matter was discussed in standing committee. We amended the bill there to try to reflect that concern. My understanding is that this kind of section, as originally worded before amendment, was included in the Environmental Assessment Act at the request of delegations who wanted it included. Then, when we heard the concerns being raised about the board perhaps arbitrarily forcing people into a class against their wishes, we agreed to an amendment upon application by a party other than the proponent in the hope that would meet the concern.

Now they want to take it out. They say they would like to introduce an amendment to fund. I suppose they would like to fund everybody individually so that each person has somebody to do his writing for him, each person has someone to do his research for him, and each one has a technical support person. Let us be practical and let us get on with the business.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Charlton's amendment will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 8 agreed to.

Sections 9 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Charlton moves that the schedule at the end of the bill be amended by striking out the reference to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, 1973.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, during the course of the hearings we had a couple of presentations by people who were involved with the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment.

The whole question of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act has been under review for a considerable period of time. One of the major parts of that review -- and the hearings have been going on for some two years now -- is that the board that has convened and is running those hearings is hearing submissions from people right across the province affected by the escarpment and concerned about the ways in which procedures concerning the escarpment should be dealt with in the future.

The minister has laid out for us quite clearly that this is a procedural act that is setting up an approach to dealing with matters that are affected by a number of acts. He is attempting to consolidate those hearings into one hearing. What has been forgotten here is that the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is probably the one act that already is intended to accomplish that consolidation process anyway. The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is the one act that has attempted to look at all the aspects of the escarpment, the environment, planning, development and most of the rest of the things that are covered in this schedule.

The people involved with the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, both on the government side and the public side, have been attempting seriously for some lengthy period of time to establish the best procedure to deal with escarpment matters in the future under all the kinds of things we are talking about here.

Their concern at this point is they do not want to see all the work they have done, and all the possibilities for a good workable process that may evolve from the hearings they are involved in at present, go down the drain because of having this procedure imposed at this point.

They have no problem if, having seen this process work and having evolved the procedure for the escarpment, the two look as if they are suitably mixable to include the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act at some point in the future.

Unfortunately, the minister would prefer to take the other road and include them now and, if it does not look like it is working, take them out. In this House we know that sometimes legislative mistakes made in this House last, not for a few weeks, a few months, or even a year, but for as long as a century.

I recall an occasion just last fall when the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), who is sitting here tonight, and his parliamentary assistant brought in amendments to some of the municipal legislation in this province to get out some antiquated sections dealing with throwing drunks and alcoholics in jail. There were sections that had not been touched for 100 years.

Those are the kinds of things the groups we are talking about fear. They would rather stay out until both procedures are established and working and, if they are compatible, combine them rather than combine two things that may not be compatible and find out later.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I wish to confirm my support for this amendment, because I think it is important that at this stage in the hearings under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act we do not disturb the process going on which with public input is developing a policy for the preservation of the escarpment.

This has been our objective from the beginning, when we put the Niagara Escarpment under a special act which was "to maintain the Niagara Escarpment as a continuous natural environment." It is a unique ecological feature of this province, and we must make sure it is preserved. That is why it required special legislation. The special legislation should be continued so the present process can go on and develop an adequate policy for protecting the escarpment.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I just want to say, as I know my colleagues have done, that the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is a special type of act. It is special because it does not have general application across the province as most of the other acts do. It is for a very specific area and a very specific reason.

Unlike other acts, it does have overriding authority in it. It can override the Planning Act and a variety of other acts. Most of all, to conclude it now seems premature. In all the other acts listed in that schedule, those acts are finalized; they are law. But the law with regard to the Niagara Escarpment is not yet complete, because there is a plan to be completed; then it is going to come before the cabinet and that will be approved, disapproved or modified.

Whatever the situation, that act is not complete until that act takes place and the cabinet approves of it. Therefore, we should not consider this until we know what the act is, what the total picture is with regard to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Charlton's amendment will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Bill 89, as amended, reported. On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendment.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, I would like to move a motion. Can we revert to motions?

Mr. Speaker: Mr. Wells requests that the House revert to motions. Unanimous consent is required. Do we have unanimous consent?

Agreed to.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the House sit tomorrow at 10 a.m., with the routine proceedings to be called at 2 p.m.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, if I might just indicate the business of the House, the intention is to continue on down the list of bills that are here, beginning in committee of the whole House with Bill 90, An Act to establish the Ontario Waste Management Corporation. Added to that list would be Bill 129, in committee of the whole House, and a possibility of considering Bills 105, 106 and 121 if time permits.

The intention is that we will not have any luncheon break but that the members make arrangements for lunch at their own convenience.

The House adjourned at 10:32 p.m.