32e législature, 1re session























The House met at 10 am.




Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am today introducing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act designed to strengthen our highway traffic safety efforts in Ontario. These amendments cover tree areas of vital concern to the government and to the motoring public.

The first area relates to RIDE, the reduce impaired driving everywhere programs or spot checks, the second to police pursuits and the third deals with the temporary 12-hour suspension of a licence of a marginally impaired driver.

Honourable members are aware the RIDE programs initiated by police forces involve spot checks of drivers for the principal purpose of keeping drinking drivers off our streets and highways. These programs have been proven to be particularly effective over the Christmas holiday season.

The right of police officers to engage in random spot checks was challenged in the courts and, while the Ontario Court of Appeal overruled a lower court ruling which questioned the legality of the process, the court did suggest that the Highway Traffic Act be clarified.

It also must be remembered that the operation of a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. The driver must be fit to drive, properly licensed and with a vehicle in sound mechanical condition. The McRuer royal commission on civil rights pointed out that these are, obviously, reasonable requirements and that the police have the responsibility to enforce these requirements.

The second area affected by the amendments I am introducing today provides for a mandatory three-year suspension of the driver's licence of anyone who deliberately engages the police in a high-speed pursuit.

I know all honourable members share the concern over reckless individuals who disregard a police order to stop, thus endangering the lives of their fellow citizens. We are hoping with this amendment to create a significant deterrent for those who deliberately flout our laws, thereby turning a motor vehicle into a weapon of death and destruction.

I would also like to repeat that the government has no intention of arbitrarily banning police pursuits, although we are very much aware of the caution that must be exercised in carrying out a responsibility that can involve a great deal of danger.

The Ontario Police Commission has just completed an extensive survey of police pursuit policy that included every Canadian province and 79 state, county and municipal police jurisdictions in the United States. In Canada, only Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have issued specific provincial guidelines on high-speed pursuits. As a result of the Ontario Police Commission survey, we feel Ontario's present set of guidelines are among the most advanced anywhere. However, we are prepared to consider further refinements whenever such can be made in the public interest.

The third area of these proposed amendments relates to amendments aimed at removing temporarily from our highways those marginally impaired drivers who represent a potential danger to themselves and others. It will involve a 12-hour suspension of a driver's licence based on a roadside breath test.

The Criminal Code contains offences for impaired driving and having more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. Studies have shown that drivers with more than 50 milligrams are a significant hazard and the initiative is aimed at this group.

The magnitude of the problem created by drinking drivers cannot be overemphasized. I would remind the honourable members that a 1979 roadside survey conducted by the provincial government into drinking and driving revealed that one driver in every eight tested in that extensive survey had significant levels of alcohol in his system. The report to the government also states that the alcohol level at which impairment begins to become significant is generally considered to be at the 50-milligram level.

I wish to emphasize that the police will not be acting as judge and jury in these cases. Suspensions will be based on instrument readings, not simply at the discretion of a police officer. When a licence is temporarily suspended, a motorist is provided in writing with all the relevant information, including when the suspension terminates and where the licence may be recovered.

A second safeguard will be the motorist's right to insist on a full breathalyser test if he disagrees with the roadside reading.

The temporary suspension will not be reflected on the driver's record, but it would be an offence for the temporarily suspended driver to drive during that period.

These measures will be an important part of our highway traffic safety programs. They are intended to save lives and further protect the vast majority of law-abiding citizens using our highways in a safe and responsible manner.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have a second, brief statement. The members of the Legislature will undoubtedly be interested in the --

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I appreciate the minister's making statements, but it would be appreciated if copies were made available to the opposition parties as well.

Mr. Speaker: Are copies not available?

Mr. Cassidy: On a second point, I believe one copy is meant to come to the leader as well as the critic of each party.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This was distributed yesterday.

Mr. Speaker: The Attorney General tells me they were distributed yesterday.

Mr. Breithaupt: We have our copies, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The members of the Legislature undoubtedly will be interested in the reference to Bill 68 made by Lord Scarman in his very important and just-released report on the Brixton and other riots in the United Kingdom during the past year. According to press reports, Lord Scarman has recommended that Ontario's Bill 68 should be seriously considered as a model for the handling of citizens' complaints against the police in Great Britain. That must have embarrassed the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick). He must be terribly embarrassed by that.

Mr. Renwick: It didn't embarrass me. They are even further behind than you are.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Lord Scarman is an internationally known jurist, a former chairman of the British Law Commission and one who enjoys a very distinguished reputation as a law reformer. In fact, the former member for Lakeshore, Patrick Lawlor, often referred to him as the living model for all law reformers.

This is perhaps another example of the necessity for outside approval before we allow ourselves to appreciate the value of our own initiatives and legislation.

All the members who worked on this important legislation should therefore take some personal pleasure in the remarks of Lord Scarman as they relate to the potential for Bill 68 in the resolution of citizens' complaints against the police.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge me for a moment before oral questions, I am sure all members of the House will want to join me in congratulating Shirley Williams on her resounding victory yesterday in the Crosby by-election in Britain. You will note that the left was left out completely, and the right was right out again. It shows a return to moderation and sanity in politics in this world and presages what is going to happen here in this province.

Mr. MacDonald: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: What the member has missed is that the right was totally left out, and that means it would leave the Liberals out here.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Shirley Williams is a representative of the Social Democratic Party in Great Britain. I think it is the first time the member for London Centre has ever congratulated the Social Democrats for anything.

Mr. Ruprecht: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I want to inform this House that the Social Democratic Party of Britain is much closer to the Liberals than to the New Democrats.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Now we will proceed with oral questions. The member for London Centre -- and please ask a question.

Mr. Peterson: We certainly touched a nerve, did we not?

10:10 a.m.



Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) gave a $500,000 loan through the Ontario Development Corporation to Admiral in May of last year. He has said in this House he has been monitoring that company for one and a half to two years. He must have been aware that the treasury of that company was stripped, and that it was losing money because of the high debt load. Why did he give them that money?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I would have to go back to the ODC files, because as I am sure the member recalls, these matters are handled by ODC in the ultimate event. They are handled by a board appointed by the government to review ODC loans. I would have to pull the file.

As I am sure the member will recall, Admiral was trying to create some new jobs at the time. He could go through the entire list of ODC loans and find a fair number of circumstances where ODC loans have been made, some employment has been created and ultimately the attempt to create new jobs and maintain old ones has unfortunately not been successful. This was, I presume, the same basis upon which ODC was operating in this case. I do not think that should be taken to be a condemnation of the efforts of ODC to continue to try and create jobs.

As I recall, this loan was for the Cambridge operation and I think ODC should be applauded for trying to create new jobs, given the then state of the company. I think the honourable member would be quite properly critical of the government if it failed to provide some ODC assistance to a firm that admittedly was having trouble making that new investment. That is what ODC is there to do.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: I am quite clearly critical when they give money to a company they should have known was going down the tube because they had raided from their own treasury.

Let me pursue that for a moment. No one knows if that loan has been paid back. Mr. Philip Coupey does not know if it has been paid back to the ODC. The Ontario Development Corporation will not tell us. The receivers have yet to look into the files. My question is this: Is ODC a secured creditor? If so, are they willing to defer their preferred position down the line so that the workers who were put out of work by that tragic receivership will at least have some security out of that situation?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know the honourable member wants to say that ODC and others should have known of the situation of Admiral.

Mr. Peterson: Of course they should have. It is gross incompetence.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I see. I do not recall the honourable member, or anyone else over there, standing up and cautioning us at the time the Admiral loan went through. I do not recall any of the experts on the opposite side of the House standing up and saying, "Why are you doing it?" Of course they became experts after the banks went in and took the company out of business. That is when they decided they knew everything there was to know about Admiral, and that certain things had happened, which they personally thought were wrong.

The honourable member, on the first day we were discussing Admiral here, to help his career as it were, trotted downstairs and had a little chat with the media. That was at the very time we were trying to help the workers up here. Had he not left here early on that first day, to put on his makeup in order to go to the media studio, he would have known that I said at that time this government would do anything -- loans, grants --

Mr. Boudria: It is a great answer.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Are you against the Admiral workers? -- loans, grants, guarantees, you name it, and we were going to do whatever was necessary and practical to help the company, to help the workers. If the honourable member had stayed here and listened that day he would know that. Of course we are willing to delay any ODC security in order to allow those jobs to go on. I might also offer this to the honourable member --


Hon. Mr. Davis: There are 69 over here.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Mancini: Call him to order, Mr. Speaker. This is ridiculous.

Mr. Speaker: Interjections are always out of order. The minister will please answer the question.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think it is important that this House have every opportunity to analyse and peruse the Admiral situation at the appropriate time. The discussions that are going on now are at a very delicate stage --

Mr. Peterson: They always are.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is right. It is hard to hold the responsibilities of office -- the honourable member will not understand that, but that is something that is difficult. It is very difficult to sort out a complex situation like this.

Mr. Kerrio: We will learn. We are fast learners. If you learned, we can learn.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know the member for Niagara Falls is a free enterpriser. He wants the company to go down at the expense of the market but we do not.

I want the member for London Centre to understand that I think the Canadian Admiral situation should be perused and studied by all members of this House at the appropriate time. Right now it is very critical that everything be done to maintain the reputation of Admiral because the Admiral products and appliances deserve to have their reputation maintained at this time.

I understand the concerns the member has and I may have a comment about them at a later time, but there is only one way a consumer can express his or her concern about the reputation of Admiral or York Lambton or anyone associated with them. That is by not buying the products.

When they hear concerns here and in other places about stripping of shares, about the Ontario Development Corporation loan or whatever, they do not say, "I think I will stop dealing with York Lambton." They do not say, "I think ODC has a bunch of incompetent people." Consumers can only say: "I hear all these things about the Admiral company and the Admiral products. I had better buy from another company."

The time will come to analyse those things. It is not the time when we are working hard, at least on this side of the House, to protect the jobs and the good reputation of Admiral.

Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: The patronising tone of the minister is not welcome in this House. The minister has a staff in his department which is responsible, among other things, not only for promoting and enhancing industry in this province but also for ensuring this kind of situation does not occur. They have the responsibility to ensure that early action is taken to try to prevent the demise of a company like Admiral, which has been a successful and strong contributor to our economy for 45 or 50 years.

What kind of early warning system does he have in his ministry that he would not have been aware how close to the brink Admiral was until the banks called their loans and put in the receivers? What is he now doing to ensure the ministry is informed in advance and can take action in advance to prevent similar situations occurring in other important Ontario industries?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, one of the ironies of what the member just said is that every time this government makes an investment, having seen some early warning signs, the member is the first one on his feet to say: "Here is a profitable industry. Here is an industry that is not doing badly. Why are you putting money into the industry?"

Does he remember pulp and paper? If he had his way, he would have waited until some of those mills closed and then he would have been standing up saying to the government: "Do you not have an early warning system? Can you not see these things coming? Why do you not do something about it before it happens?"

Mr. Cassidy: A point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I believe the minister is misleading the House. He knows perfectly well the New Democratic Party has said that if we put taxpayers' money into those industries we should get equity for the people of Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the third party accused me of misleading the House and I demand he withdraw.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre will please withdraw that remark.

Mr. Cassidy: I will withdraw that, Mr. Speaker, but perhaps you will ask the minister to withdraw his comments which certainly were misstatements of the position of the NDP.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for London Centre.

Mr. Cassidy: I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker, we have had this problem before.

Mr. Speaker: We have indeed.

Mr. Cassidy: I suggested the minister should also withdraw statements that were inaccurate.

Mr. Speaker: It is not for me to decide what statements are accurate or inaccurate.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, we have had this problem with Friday mornings in this House --

Mr. Speaker: We have indeed.

Mr. Cassidy: May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that to make the opposition withdraw comments in this House without imposing --

Mr. Speaker: You are out of order. I cannot enter into debate. The member for London Centre with a final supplementary.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I will hear your point of order.

Mr. Cassidy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that. You are perfectly right that it is not in line with the rules of the House to say that a member is misleading the House and therefore I withdrew the remark as you asked me to.

I think it is also fair to say one of the reasons for using that word is to flag what the government is doing when it is making distortions of the truth or coming out with what could be called lies. Mr. Speaker, it seems to me there has to be a means by which members on each side of the House, particularly those in the opposition benches, can bring the government to book when they come here and consistently misrepresent the positions of opposition parties.

10:20 a.m.

I would suggest that where a member of the opposition party wishes to have those corrections made, the Speaker should be prepared to back up the privileges of members of this House on this side and not just on the privileges of members of the government side.

Mr. Speaker: Order, order.

The member's statements are completely erroneous and so is his innuendo. I repeat, it is not the role of the Speaker to rule on matters of opinion I have no way of knowing at all whether his opinion is any more valid than anybody else's opinion, or if the minister's opinion is any more valid.

Mr. Cassidy: It is another one-sided ruling.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Please do not ask the Speaker to make a ruling on something that is quite clearly beyond the duties and role of the Speaker of this Legislature.

Mr. Cassidy: You are giving the government carte blanche --

Mr. Speaker: No, the member is out of order. I have heard his point of order and I will not recognize it.

Mr. Cassidy: -- that is what you are doing.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Another opinion.

The member for London Centre with a final supplementary.

Mr. Peterson: The question, Mr. Speaker, clearly is this: By his own admission, the minister was looking at the Admiral company for a year and a half to two years. He should have known, or his officials should have known, that the company was in very serious trouble. There was the dividend strip and the reverse stock split that squeezed out a bunch of minority shareholders. There was a lot of merchandise sold to dealers for cash at distress prices shortly before the bankruptcy.

Add to that the fact that a lot of small suppliers are in trouble because they have lost out on their accounts payable to Admiral. All this clearly says investigation is in order to make sure this kind of situation never happens again. The minister should not be satisfied until that happens. Why is he not doing it?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I am not doing it right now for a variety of reasons. My colleague has already indicated it does not fall under the purview of the Ontario Securities Commission because it is not a public company. The member understands that. Also I have made it quite clear the object of this government and this ministry is to work full out at protecting the reputation of that company and finding new people to invest in it so those people can go back to work.

I repeat: the kinds of questions the member is asking would be appropriate perhaps at a later time. I may have something to say when all of these things sort out. But this is a complex situation involving far more circumstances and a history which is still to be untangled. It is just not as clear as he is suggesting.

I know how angry he, the workers, the suppliers must be -- and I am -- at the circumstances that led up to it, but right now we have to show some maturity and some calm judgement in trying to rebuild that company. I urge him to follow that course of action.

Mr. Peterson: Perhaps the minister will be good enough to tell me when we can ask some questions. And perhaps he would write out the questions for us so we can ask him.


Mr. Peterson: I have a question of the Minister of Health. For a number of years now my colleagues have been questioning him about his policy with respect to prosthesis. I would take him back to a year ago in Hansard where he said: "I indicated at that time, in answer to the honourable member's question, it is my intention and hope to make a statement by the end of the year. Today is December 12, I have 19 days left to make that pledge." That was a year ago, almost.

Six months later he said in the House, on June 30: "It is a matter we have had under review for some time with a view to trying to come up with a policy which would be both reasonable in terms of additional benefits that might be considered under the health plan. We are in the process of coming up with a policy on that subject."

In view of the fact we are in the waning months of the International Year of Disabled Persons, does the minister not have a statement or does he not have a policy on that matter? This is something that Mr. McKeough said in 1978 would cost only about $2 million, which is less than the interest on the jet anyway? What is his position on it? Why does he not do something?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member's colleague, the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne), who is the health critic for the Liberal Party, raised the matter at the estimates committee in his opening remarks last week. I indicated in response that I do have a proposal before cabinet at this time and would hope it could be considered and approved fairly quickly.

One factor that has certainly held up consideration of this, and a variety of other new initiatives I have proposed, has been the uncertainty caused by the member's colleagues in Ottawa about the funding to this government and other provincial governments for health and social services.

Mr. Peterson: That is outrageous. An insignificant amount of money is involved here and the minister should have solved this years ago. Let me put it in practical terms that will appeal to his parsimonious heart. There is a Mr. Cecil Ford, who is sitting in the Royal Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre because he has not got the $1,200 for an artificial leg. At the same time, he has run up a $6,000 bill in that hospital and he is waiting at this time for some charitable agency to find the money for his prosthesis.

If the minister wants to look at it in economic terms, there is an economic argument for him. Why does he not get on with it, give him the leg so he can get out of that hospital and be self-sufficient.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, even if the $2 million figure were correct -- which it is not -- it is interesting that the person who would like to be the next Liberal Premier of Ontario thinks that $2 million is inconsequential.

Second, with regard to that case, I had it investigated and I was told that individual could have been discharged a long time ago and looked after by our chronic home care program, which has been greatly successful in that part of Ontario. However that individual does not have indoor plumbing at home and could not be looked after there and has to stay in hospital at this time.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, could the minister indicate to us what concrete advances in health care programs he has implemented this year for the disabled?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, Mr. Speaker. One of which I am particularly proud is the introduction of the finalization and the announcement of the government's policy with respect to obstetrics and perinatal care and the detection of abnormal pregnancies and the early detection of and correction of abnormalities in children. That is a major one.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated there was a proposal before cabinet. He knows I have raised this matter for a number of years and he is now blaming his federal friends in Ottawa. When can we expect that the people needing prosthetic devices are going to have them before the International Year of Disabled Persons is over? The former Treasurer, Mr. McKeough, indicated to the council on the disabled five years ago that the amount of money needed was very little in relation to the entire Ontario budget.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: At a time when the federal government is indicating it is going to reduce the transfers to this government by hundreds of millions of dollars, any amount of money for any new program has to be taken extremely seriously, no matter how small it is. I personally would like to see us formulate a policy in this regard, and I am pressing that point. However, I cannot pay for any new program if the money is not going to be there.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) with respect to the effectiveness of the government's economic blueprint in the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program as far as workers in the electrical industry are concerned.

Is the Treasurer aware the Canadian General Electric company has had about 2,200 jobs lost in its plants in Toronto over the course of the last decade, and that between last December and this coming December it expects employment in the big Davenport Road plant will be down from 1,100 to about 600 with another 120 layoffs just announced in the last week? Would the minister say what the government's economic blueprint offers with respect to those workers here in Toronto in the CGE plant and in the electrical industry? What hope does he have for them in terms of creating jobs or getting their jobs back?

Hon. F. S. Miller: It is an interesting question, Mr. Speaker, because the BILD program addresses that very issue and the member knows it. Number one in our priorities in the BILD program was to increase the use of electricity in Ontario.

We have moved ahead and speeded up the creation or building of new generating facilities in Ontario in so far as they could be speeded up. We put a program in to help people convert to heat pumps in rural Ontario so that they could use more electricity and buy Canadian-built heat pumps.

10:30 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: They were opposed to Darlington.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Absolutely. The member is opposed to us getting into the electrical business. That company's future and many of Ontario's manufacturing industries depend very much upon the health of the general electrical industry and we are taking real measures to help them.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister seems to ignore the fact that those 2,200 jobs that have been lost at Canadian General Electric in the last decade, with the closing of the Wingold, Tycos, Rexdale, Dufferin Tube, Royce Avenue and Ward Street plants, has occurred during a decade when there has been a great deal of priority given to electrical energy by this government.

Perhaps the minister could explain how the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development initiatives will specifically help those workers at CGE? When we asked BILD officials for the list, we were told the amount that has been committed by BILD for upgrading transmission facilities amounts to $500,000. That is in the documents that were released a week or so ago. We have learned the only thing that is actually being done within BILD in terms of transmission facilities and the electrical industry is a $500,000 project in order to upgrade a transmission line to the McRae Lumber mills in Whitney, in Renfrew county.

What is that going to do for 500 CGE workers who have lost their jobs in the past year? What is it going to do to calm the fears of the workers in the Davenport Road plant that their plant may be shut down completely in another two years?

Hon. F. S. Miller: The member has chosen one example of a very specific upgrading of transmission facilities.

Mr. Cassidy: That is the only one that is listed.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I am just pointing out that we are also trying to upgrade the whole use of electricity. We are able to produce electricity at a guaranteed future price that will make it far more competitive across our future than other less dependable and more inflation-prone sources of energy. We have indigenous sources of uranium. The New Democratic Party has often been against utilization of uranium in this province.

Mr. Ruprecht: I have had a meeting with the management of CGE on Dufferin Street. What they tell me is different from what the Treasurer tells us.

We would like to know what measures the Treasurer is taking, other than creation of new heat pumps, for those workers who are involved in the manufacture of electrical light fixtures and things of that nature. The Treasurer has told us he is into heat pumps and then he tells us he is helping the industry a great deal. All he can come up with is heat pumps. What else is he doing to help these workers maintain their jobs?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I know some of those plants pretty well. I was born about one block from the major plant the member is talking about. I grew up there.

Mr. Peterson: You have been everywhere. You know everything.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have got to tell you David, he doesn't know everything but he knows far more than you.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the Treasurer respond to the question from the member for Parkdale, please.

Hon. F. S. Miller: This is one of those rare occasions when I agree with my official critic. I do know more than he does.

Mr. Peterson: When are you going to start showing it then?

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister just answer the question from the member for Parkdale, please.

Mr. Kerrio: We will make the assessment.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Niagara Falls will have an opportunity to ask questions later.

Hon. F. S. Miller: By not responding, I was trying to show one thing I have that he has not, and that is good manners.

Mr. Speaker: Now with the answer.

Mr. Kerrio: Tell us you are better looking too.

Hon. Mr. Davis: He is quite right about that.

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister please proceed.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, just answer the question. Do you have an answer?

Hon. F. S. Miller: No. But I will try to make one up. Mr. Speaker, the truth is that of course we have answers. I just cannot help but respond that way sometimes. You know me.

I mentioned yesterday that it is a common ploy of members in the opposition to complain about what we do not happen to be doing with one kind of program. The Board of Industrial Leadership and Development was put in place to have a basic strategy in the medium to long term. It is doing that. That the creation of a new industry in this province, building heat pumps in Canada, is unimportant is an idea that is beyond my comprehension. To my knowledge, that company stands to be in as good a position as any other to profit not only from the construction of heat pumps but also from the construction of components for heat pumps in the companies across its provincial operations.

Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister explain, for the 120 workers who have had layoff notices in the last couple of days and the 500 workers losing their jobs this fall at the CGE plant, how they are going to benefit from this strategy when CGE has just gone out of the distribution transformer business, when it has just closed down its specialty transformer operations at the Davenport Road plant?

What does this BILD strategy mean specifically, and not in general terms, to workers who do not know where their next job is going to come from and who do not know where their future is going to lie in a province that in the past has been able to look after them and provide them with jobs?

Hon. F. S. Miller: One of the more difficult problems for government, as we expand the generation and distribution of electricity, is getting the approval of distribution routes. I hope the honourable member has not stood in the way, for example, of the distribution of electricity from Bruce, which to some degree has been locked in for some time.

Mr. Cassidy: Your own government has done that.

Mr. Peterson: It's your own bloody fault -- every bit of that. Don't start blaming it on them. It's just total incompetence on your part. You've been fooling around like that for years.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Treasurer will proceed to answer the question from the member for Ottawa Centre, please. The member for London Centre will please contain himself.

Mr. Peterson: Well the Treasurer is making me angry.

Hon. F. S. Miller: In any case, Mr. Speaker, the success of the overall electrification program which we have enunciated, and which I suppose has been more successfully carried out in Ontario than in any other part of the world, obviously has to be tied in, part and parcel, with our ability to get these transmission facilities in, and therefore the whole electrical industry is improved when that happens.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question. However, I do note that, according to the union, Ontario Hydro did not order or buy a single transformer in the beginning months of this year.


Mr. Cassidy: My next question, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Community and Social Services, who said in the House on November 12, "No reasonable request by Metropolitan Toronto will not promptly be met, provided it is within the formula," in talking about Greenacres, the home for aged in Newmarket where devastating reports of conditions were finally unveiled after being ignored by the ministry for such a long time.

Will the minister now say when the government will approve the 1981 budget for Greenacres and what steps are being taken to ensure that this kind of budgetary delay, with the impact it has on old people, does not recur at Greenacres or in other institutions across the province?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the third party had been at a very nice dinner last night, where my pal the Metro chairman and I were listening to Joe Clark's speech and a great speech by the Premier (Mr. Davis), he would know it was done across the dinner table last night.

Mr. MacDonald: Why don't you answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, there is some harpy over there who says, "Why don't you answer the question?" The member asked me a question, and I said it was done over the dinner table last night.

Just to keep in perspective the question of Greenacres, I told the Metro chairman and my friend Alderman Chong, who is on the Metro community services committee --

Mr. Cunningham: The minister sounds like Zena Cherry.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Well, I have a lot of friends, unlike over there, I like to say where I was.

Mr. MacDonald: Answer the question. Quit wasting time.


10:40 a.m.

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister please address the question?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am, Mr. Speaker. In terms of that report, I had told the Metro chairman, Paul Godfrey, and Alderman Gordon Chong, who is on the community services committee, prior to the answer I gave on the date the leader of the third party said. I really think that was on the basis of their getting an eminent gerontologist to do that.

There is one little point I want to make. The budget approval is an academic thing; it has nothing to do with this. The reason the budget has not been approved is his friends in the union. Metro was coming forward with a budget early in the spring. A key component of it was a reclassification of the employees. They said that would be accomplished in a relatively brief period of time. It was not, and they asked us to hold up approval of the budget until they could deal with that internal matter.

The simple fact of the matter is that the money flowed out to Metro for Greenacres Home for the Aged just as though the budget had been approved. Whatever additional help Mr. Godfrey feels is reasonably needed in that facility, and he has always been reasonable, will be met. It was agreed to last night.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister said approval of the 1981 budget was an academic matter which had no particular impact. Is the minister not aware of the shortages of sheets, blankets and other basic supplies and of the recommendation in Mr. Samuel Ruth's report that all supplies requested in 1981 should be ordered at once? Essential supplies of blankets and sheets and so on, which should have been brought in there at the beginning of the year to look after old people, were being delayed apparently because of what the minister calls an academic question.

What steps will the minister take to make sure that does not occur in future so that, if there is some particular reason why a certain academic approval has to be delayed, it does not mean the essential functioning of an institution like Greenacres is impeded the way it was this past year?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I talked to Mr. John Kruger, who compiled an original report dealing with the specific allegations the union made about lack of blankets. If I recall correctly from Hansard, and I would like to read it -- the leader of the third party does not want to repeat some of the things he said that day because he knows they were proved untrue. I specifically talked to Mr. Kruger when he did a review prior to this one.

The question was about a lack of facecloths so that people's faces were being wiped with brown paper. That is not true. It was not a budget matter. For those people whose skin is allergic to flannel, another product was substituted to give them more comfort. It was said there were some beds with no blankets. I have been assured that is not true; and Mr. Kruger's study, which preceded this one, said that was not true.

The reason I said the whole question of the budget was academic was that it dealt with a range of pay and classification for personnel which apparently had been agreed upon. Then there was a disagreement between the two parties; they asked us to hold up formal approval of the budget until they could agree on that matter.

For the second time today, I say the budget money for Greenacres flowed each and every month. That obviously includes all the supplies required there. There is no home for the aged in this province that does not have a sufficient flow from the ministry, either on the 80-20 basis or picking up the deficit on a 70-30 basis at the end of the year, to have sufficient funds to buy and have on hand at all times the supplies necessary for the care of elderly people.

If the member will read those reports, they question not the money but the way in which the management of the institution had various purchasing policies, various laundry policies and so forth.

Mr. Cassidy: It sounds as though the minister does not appear to have even read Mr. Ruth's report, which indicates that because of the particular responsibilities that are taken on by municipal homes for the aged, they were getting patients who were not classified and therefore, according to the report here, if there is no classification these people could not exist; it really is a catch-22 situation.

If the funding was adequate, then why is it that the recommendation is now being made for an additional 39 staff for 1982? If the minister is prepared to accept that recommendation for additional staff, then why was he not aware of the problems at Greenacres, which were caused, at least in part, by the lack of staff in the past'?

Is the minister aware of the basic findings of the Ruth report which apply across the province, that where people used to be admitted to homes for the aged because they were old and homeless and may have needed some protection, food and shelter, they are now being admitted because they are old, frail and sick? It is a different ball game, but we are still playing by the rules established some 25 years ago.

When is the minister going to change the rules to ensure that elderly people who are old, frail and sick in the homes for the aged can get the decent care we all would want them to have?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I wish the leader of the third party would talk to his own critic, because his own critic was rather startled when I gave him various findings from across the province regarding the matter that homes for the aged had virtually ceased to have a residential component, that indeed they were into heavy nursing care for people in their early and mid-80s who were coming in on a frail, elderly basis and so on and so forth. His party's critic was amazed at that a month ago; so he should not sit here today and tell me I do not know anything about it.

The matter that the leader of the third party is referring to is an appendix to that report. I read that report with great interest. The past two ministers, the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) and the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton), changed the component of homes for the aged and brought in a formula that would fund for extended care.

What is being argued and put forward is a very serious document because that document will mean, if we accept it, the end of homes for the aged. It is talking about health care centres. I certainly read it.

The particular question at Greenacres was about certain allegations regarding the care. That report notes how much the staffing at Greenacres had gone up over the years. And who paid 80 cents on the dollar? It was this ministry. The year before, when they came in and said they needed more staff because the care was heavier there, it was granted. So I say to the leader of the third party he should not stand up and start off on his little thing about when am I going to do something, and then come back to the appendix and try to put in the whole ball park.

Whenever there has been a reasonable request by a municipality or a charitable home for the aged because of the heavier care that was required, then provided they stayed within the 60 per cent ratio for nursing care, it has always been granted by this ministry. And it is open-ended on the deficit; it is the only government program I know of that is still open-ended on the deficit.


Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct a question to the Minister of Health. The minister is well aware of the serious problem in the Niagara region where bed shortages are so acute that many physicians fear for the quality of patient care. Is the minister aware of the recent review and report on the same issue by the Niagara Region District Health Council, on extended care and chronic care needs for the future, indicating a serious problem and current shortage of facilities for patient care?

Is the minister also aware of the recent decision taken by regional council, concerning Niagara region homes for the aged, and involving drastic steps such that no more patients requiring extended care are being admitted to the region's five homes for the aged because of the lack of provincial funding and shortage of extended care beds? What steps is the ministry prepared to initiate to relieve the serious problem in health care needs for the many seniors within the Niagara region?

10:50 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, if the main thrust of the question has to do with the homes for the aged, that question should be redirected to my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea).

Mr. Haggerty: I do not know whether it should be directed to him. There are two areas here in which both ministers should be involved, since the matter relates to extended --

Mr. Speaker: You did make a reference to the district health council report, which I presume had to do with nursing homes. So you have two questions; which one do you want answered?

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, it is combined. The health council report refers to extended care service and chronic care service.

Mr. Speaker: Let us start with the Minister of Health.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member sent me a copy of a news item from the Niagara Falls Review. I am not sure of its date. It has to do with the home for the aged, which is current. Questions about that should be referred to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

With regard to the district health council report -- I could be mistaken, because there are a number of reports coming out all the time -- I do not believe that report has been finalized yet. In recent years, though, we have approved several additions in the Niagara region. I am thinking of the addition of the chronic unit at the Welland County General Hospital in Welland. I am thinking as well of the approval to proceed with the addition to the Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines, for which a campaign is under way to raise the capital.

With regard to the question of additional nursing home beds, it has been our policy, where the need has been identified and the methodology of the review is proper, to add nursing home beds as the funds become available. On that basis, in the last two years we have added 1,000 nursing home beds, which are now in various stages of approval; either they are being competed for, they have been allocated or they are under construction, and some have opened.

I will check, but I do not think that study on long-term care needs is completed. It was suggested to me that study may have found they are oversupplied on chronic beds. That is something I heard recently.

Mr. Bradley: I doubt that very much.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am just saying I heard recently that may be one of their conclusions. When it is completed, assuming the methodology is correct, as funds become available in the next fiscal year I will be proposing to add there, and in other parts of the province, nursing home beds by proposal call.

Mr. Haggerty: I believe the report mentioned a serious problem in the city of Niagara Falls and in the town of Fort Erie, that there are insufficient facilities there for extended and chronic care requirements for the seniors in that area.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I do not believe it is completed yet. It may well be in draft stage and circulated for comment. I will check. If I am wrong, I will say so. I believe it will be finalized not too far in the future; so we would then have it on hand to make some decisions for the next fiscal year.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize the decision of the Niagara regional council to cut off further admissions to nursing home care and extended home care to the county homes was done on the recommendation of Doug Rapelje, who is the chairman of the government's own advisory committee on senior citizens?

Does he not think that would be serious enough to cause him some concern about the shortage that must exist in that area? Why will the minister not take some immediate steps to expand nursing home care in the Niagara Peninsula?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, with respect, I submit that should be considered a new question and should be directed to the Minister of Community and Social Services, who has the --

Mr. Swart: I am referring to extended care beds.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No. We are talking about the home for the aged, its admitting policies and its relationship to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I will be glad to redirect the question.


Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask the member if he wants to redirect that.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, if you will give me the permission, yes, I want to redirect it. But it seems to me it comes properly under the responsibility of the Minister of Health.

Mr. Kerrio: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: You have a supplementary?

Mr. Kerrio: Yes, I do, because his is a new question.

Mr. Swart: Well, I can redirect it.

Mr. Speaker: Order. No, I will allow you a new question.

Mr. Peterson: What are we talking about?

Mr. Speaker: What am I talking about? Quite clearly, he is going to direct a new question to a different minister.

Mr. Kerrio: It is not his turn.

Mr. Speaker: No.

Mr. Swart: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: You asked me if I wanted to redirect it, and I said yes. The fact is --

Mr. Speaker: Well, it is a new question, and it is not your turn for a new question.

Final supplementary; the member for Niagara Falls.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, does the minister not find it unconscionable that he sits in the cabinet, where there are all kinds of programs related to selling cars and everything else which are open-ended, and now, when he is dealing with the health of our elderly people, he is talking about limitation of funds? Does he not think he should urge his fellow cabinet members not to have a cap on these types of programs and to take care of our elderly?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, surely the honourable member, who professes to be such a free enterpriser --

Mr. Kerrio: Not with health; let's get that straight.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- is not suggesting that the largest budget in the government should have no controls on it at all. Let me point out to the member that spending in my ministry on institutional services in the last two years alone has gone up 29 per cent; it has gone up $600 million in two years.

We on this side have no reason at all to be ashamed about our commitment to the health care of the people of this province, particularly our elderly. That is not even getting into the question of adding the chronic home care program in the member's area, which is also having a very positive impact on the elderly population.


Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health, and it has to do with the children in this province who are suffering from the skin disease about which I was asking the minister the other day.

In view of the fact that Mr. Kozak has now declared publicly that he will reveal the methods and drugs that he uses to clear this skin disease when he arrives in Toronto; in view of the fact that to do the testing of the drug or drugs would require somewhere between one to two years and perhaps even longer; given the fact that Dr. Boxall, an expert in dermatology, said he would do nothing "to dissuade an individual from going to get the treatment"; and given that the success rate of those particular cases that have gone to West Germany is 100 per cent, will the minister agree that while the testing of the drug is being done, the Ontario health insurance plan should pay for the treatment and transportation of the children and adults who are currently suffering, rather than leaving them for two years without effective treatment?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think we might be wise to wait for 48 hours until the gentleman in question arrives here and tells us whatever he is going to tell us.

I am not taking as a foregone conclusion that whatever he might disclose would require extensive testing, although surely the honourable member recognizes that in all areas of medical care it has been our policy that experimental programs would be treated as just that, experimental, and until they have proven themselves they would not be covered under the plan.

I do not know, but apparently the federal minister is going to be meeting with him, and I am anxious to find out what she may have in mind. Let us wait the 48 or 72 hours until we know exactly what it is he is prepared to tell us.

What it comes right down to is that in the Ontario health insurance plan we will cover treatments which the physicians are prepared to stand by. If the physicians are satisfied that it is a proper treatment, it will be covered in the plan eventually.

Mr. Grande: We know Mr. Kozak will reveal everything he knows about that particular treatment and the drugs that are used. He will reveal that. We do know that it will require an extensive time period to do the proper testing of the drug.

The minister left the impression the other day that five minutes after he is satisfied there were no long-term effects, it would be covered. The fact is that it is going to require two years or even more. I am asking, what happens to those children who are suffering that disease right now, and will he not act so that these children can go to West Germany and get the treatment?

11 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I remind the honourable member of a controversy of two or three years ago, and I suppose it is still going on in some quarters, where some people claimed that if one used laetrile, one could achieve miraculous recovery rates from certain kinds of cancer. There were many claims to that effect. However, on testing, it was found that this particular treatment was not appropriate.

All I am saying to the member is I want to be sure, if we are going to cover this, that it is something that is a proper treatment. And I am suggesting to him that there is nothing to be lost by waiting the additional 48 or 72 hours to find out exactly what it is this gentleman is prepared to tell us and what we can do. Let us wait and see. I do not think waiting 48 to 72 hours, to be sure, is asking too much.


Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Revenue, a question which I ask not only on behalf of myself and the opposition but also, I am sure, on behalf of many of his own members. It is regarding the tax grants for seniors program.

I know we have dealt with this in estimates, in question period and in letters to the minister, but does the minister not recognize that even today constituency offices across this province are swamped, deluged, completely inundated with calls from senior citizens who are absolutely bewildered about the administration of this program and who are seeking some relatively short-term assistance, in other words, pretty immediate assistance, in solving their individual problems?

In view of this fact, what is the minister prepared to do to alleviate these problems and to speed up the process over and above what he has already introduced in this House?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt, as I think I have acknowledged on more than one occasion in here, including in the estimates earlier this week, that with a program of this magnitude we have had some problems. That is right out front and completely honest. But to put on the connotation that everything is wrong and nothing is right, and that there are 500,000-odd people out there waiting for grants, is in error.

There is no doubt we are finding that there are some geographical areas, more than others, that have had problems. And they have nothing to do with political affiliation, let me assure everyone. There are members from each of the three parties involved, just in case that comes to somebody's mind. I know it was not the basis of the member's question.

We are tracking through the computer programming system to see where some of these problems have been. Frankly, it appears that in some cases it is a fact that some people did not even get an application. Apparently, it relates to the situation of trying to stop applications -- as happened last year, as the member knows -- going into areas where there was a considerable number of institutions that did not qualify.

I think there was agreement, right around the House, that although the actual information on the application forms contained a guideline that certain groups did not qualify, a lot of people applied in good faith and in all honesty, and they got cheques, which we subsequently have had to ask for back.

In trying to stop the issue of applications in these groups, it appears that in some cases attempting to do it by postal code was not completely successful, particularly in smaller areas where a single postal code went well beyond the boundaries of a particular facility. Frankly, we did not become aware of that problem right away.

I am not suggesting that is the only problem, because it is not. There is no doubt that we are finding, as I acknowledged before, that the base information from Ottawa, the tapes from which we regularly update -- again, I am not placing anything on Ottawa; these figures change literally every day with the client group -- are not completely factual because of changing addresses, resulting in returns of cheques.

For example. I know yesterday I returned on to a senior a $50 cheque, where there was no apparent reason for it coming back to us in the mail, but it did. When the people contact us, we are once again sending it out, in this case with a covering letter.

Mr. Kerrio: You are a winner. You give them a cheque twice. Is that what it's all about?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Let us not get that out of perspective. About 600 people out of 846,000 got two or three cheques. It is not $50 cheques I am speaking about. We found out about this problem immediately, contacted the people and, within a matter of days, had about two thirds of the problem rectified and the people sending back the additional cheques or giving them back through their members.

We are still refining the system. It is not perfect and I will not say it has been perfect or that I am completely satisfied with it. When I consider the volume of the operation and the client group we are dealing with, which is still relatively mobile for many reasons, I think we have done the job quite well.

As part of the post-audit part of the operation, and I am now using that term in its broadest sense, we are again going to review the areas we had problems with this year and incorporate changes into next year's program. We were able to do that quite successfully from last year's program to this year's. There is no doubt in so doing we created some new problems. There is no reason for that to happen again and it is not going to happen next year.

Mr. Bradley: In view of the fact other work in constituency offices has virtually come to a standstill because we are attempting to solve the problems of senior citizens, would the minister -- and I know to his credit he has made some movement in this direction -- give some consideration to opening up the regional revenue offices across the province?

I recognize some of them are to do with taxation and not this, but could he open up either the telephone lines or the offices of the regional revenue offices across the province to senior citizens so they can bring in their problems and have them solved on a fairly immediate basis?

The minister's officials have been helpful to the members in trying to solve these problems, but it is so overwhelming I am asking him to consider that suggestion.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, there is one problem with that. I would agree our people have attempted to be co-operative with all the members' offices both before the fact and since. In other words, we kept them involved from day one on the information. We sent them forms so they would know the basic information when they were tracking down a particular case.

Mr. Cassidy: You brought our offices in because of your own inability --

Hon. Mr. Ashe: If the member would listen for a change he might solve some of his own problems.

In any event, we have been helpful. At the same time, we have been utilizing all our offices in an information and assistance way -- for example, the Province of Ontario Savings Office, our assessment offices and our sales tax facilities. We have been assisting seniors even down to completing their applications as constituency offices have done.

What we do not have the capability to do without great expense is to tie our various offices into the computer system. We have 64 offices throughout the province. I am sure it would be possible but the costs would be horrendous.

For those members who were not here earlier in the week when that item came up in estimates, let me summarize. One of our problems has been a limitation in the space we now occupy. To further expand our capabilities in terms of telephone lines, et cetera, would involve great expense at a time when the ministry is relocating to its new head office in Oshawa in 1982.

We are already planning for greatly increased capacity to deal with phone calls and to get into computer terminals in the new facility, but I think it would be an untoward and wrong use of taxpayers' money to put that into a short-term addition to our capabilities for just this year.


Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I wonder if I could ask my colleagues in the House to join with me in wishing the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) a happy twenty-ninth birthday.

Mr. Speaker: Happy birthday.

11:10 a.m.


Mr. MacDonald: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have something which I am sure you, the Premier and all members of the House will be interested in. You will have noted in the morning paper that Mr. Pat Kinsella, now the deputy to the Premier in British Columbia, told one of the opposition members to shut up and now he faces a contempt of the House charge. It states that: "If he is found in contempt, the former righthand man of Premier William Davis in Ontario could be imprisoned in the legislative basement jail, a punishment last imposed in 1917."

If the Premier will pass the hat, I will contribute a quarter to send a basket of fruit, perhaps even flowers, to Mr. Pat Kinsella in the basement.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That was more generous than the member for York South has been on many other issues.

Mr. Speaker: That was an interesting point of view but hardly a point of privilege.



Mr. Barlow from the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments presented the committee's report as follows:

Resolved that supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Natural Resources be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982:

Ministry administration program, $28,691,000; land management program, $62,191,200; outdoor recreation program, $61,202,600; resource products program, $72,676,500; and resource experience program, $7,368,700.


Mr. Treleaven from the standing committee on the administration of justice presented the committee's report as follows:

Resolved that supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982:

Ministry administration program, $4,404,700; commercial standards program, $7,598,800; technical standards program, $6,191,700; public entertainment standards program, $12,839,700; property rights program, $17,775,400; registrar general program, $2,403,800; liquor licence program, $5,809,800; and residential tenancy program, $3,919,800.


Mr. Havrot from the standing committee on resources development presented the committee's report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr25, An Act respecting the Township of North Dorchester;

Bill Pr32, An Act respecting the Town of Bracebridge;

Bill Pr33, An Act respecting the Town of Gravenhurst;

Bill Pr34, An Act respecting the Town of Huntsville;

Bill Pr36, An Act respecting the Township of Chandos.

Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:

Bill Pr31, An Act respecting the City of Kanata.

Report adopted.



Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 178, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Motion agreed to.


House in committee of supply.


On vote 804, property assessment program:

The Deputy Chairman: Vote 804. We are covering wide-range financing: administration, item 1.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I started off by discussing this vote as it related to urea formaldehyde foam insulation in homes. The minister responded to my questioning of the policy of the government, and I was not quite pleased with his response saying the people involved in this insulation problem perhaps have overreacted.

There is a problem here that could be injurious to the health and welfare of a family that has this type of insulation. There has been no effort by the government of Ontario or the federal government to remove that risk. I suggest where the risk is present something should be done to resolve it.

Under the Assessment Act if a person has a fire in his home and part of it is destroyed, or even in the business sector under the Assessment Act, certain rebates can be given through municipal taxes to the property owner who encounters difficulties. When a person is retrofitting his home and removing the hazardous material in a period of perhaps three or four months, I suggest we give some consideration under this section to the fact that he has not been able to live in his home normally. The minister has the authority, if he wants to use it, or he can even interpret the manual or the regulations to cover this area.

The other area I was concerned about was mentioned by the member for Essex South and that is the discrepancies in the assessment of golf courses within a county government. I can recall, and this is going back a few years, that when this type of discrepancy was found within a county government the county assessor had the authority to make an adjustment in a municipality where he thought poor assessment practices were carried out.

I can recall that it worked very well in the former county of Welland, where that municipality was penalized and paid a larger proportion of the cost of operating the county government. Since the Assessment Act has been frozen in that area I still think the minister has the authority to do that where there are a number of discrepancies in assessment.

Section 86 of the act is not going to resolve all the problems of apportionment costs to finance a regional or county government. All that does is correct some inequities in property assessment within that municipality; it does not change the ratio of cost to a regional form of government. That is the problem.

11:20 a.m.

To refer back to the member for Essex South, it is not the member's responsibility; the minister should be doing something in that area. The responsibility lies with the minister to bring in some new form of revaluation of a property assessment within a county or regional structure, because it is not fair even under section 86 of the act that many municipalities are venturing into.

Perhaps one can have larger cities with a better assessment basis and a good healthy industrial assessment. They do not think they want to share much of that with municipalities that are rural. That is the purpose of county or regional government, that all these taxes are shared in a sense, that the apportionment costs are equalized or there is some equity in it.

To go back to the golf courses, and I know the problem is there, but the minister is not making any effort to remove those discrepancies that exist. I often heard people say if there were one place where there should have been a county restructuring it was in that area, the Windsor-Chatham corridor. I suggest the practice that continues now is not fair and it is not only in that area. I am sure it is even present in the Niagara region and other municipalities or county structures in Ontario.

The minister does have the authority to do something to change it. We cannot have the assessment frozen for that 10-year period. I am thinking particularly of the area where I think a $2,500 limit was set by the former Treasurer, Mr. McKeough, below which there would be no increase in property value. One could spend up to $2,500 in renovating or adding on to one's home.

I think I would have to agree that in the past, section 86 has covered a serious problem. Many persons building additions to their property, such as double garages, were never assessed until section 86 of the Assessment Act was applied to that municipality. One loophole was plugged but there are still wide discrepancies in that area.

I suggest the minister is going to have to come up with some new form of revaluation of property assessment in the province. We cannot have it frozen forever and ever. He can still work under the present conditions where one uses a percentage of the market value. Even this took place some 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Assessors used to assess on that. I think of the county of Welland, where property used to be assessed at about 33 per cent of the market value or the sale value of a property.

The old county form of government with the county assessor was a good system. There should be something in force today in this area where he can single out the discrepancies from one municipality to another. I found it quite informative to be on an assessment committee of a county where the committee could go out and make spot checks from one municipality to another of a home of similar value, design and construction. We could go out and check the assessors to see how close assessments were from one municipality to another and compare their valuation on property. I think it was a good practice.

One thing lacking at that time, though, was that the province did not have a mandatory assessment manual across the province requiring every assessor to use the same formula. If there was a good active county council and good active county assessor, many of those discrepancies could be removed. I think Welland county at that time had an exceptionally good assessment practice. At different times I attended a number of assessment conventions and the deputy minister would always be one of the people who brought forth new ideas in this area. I think he has made a total mess of assessment in the province.

The case has just been brought to my attention of a person who has built a new home and, perhaps because it is in a rural area, the only service he gets from the municipality is the township road and one garbage pickup a week. He complained when he got his assessment that he thought it was too high in comparison with the other properties.

The assessor came up and looked it over and said, "Yes, I think we have made a mistake." He said, "We have included the utilities in the home as part of the assessment value of the property." To my knowledge, that is not the intent of the assessment manual or assessment practice in Ontario. If that is the case I wish the minister would tell me because I think that is the wrong approach to take on assessment.

There is an assessor in Welland county, Mr. Ralph Wilson, who I believe is located at the central office in Brantford. Assessment was made against a former county judge in Welland county because he had three fireplaces. The assessor wanted to assess them because he thought they added value. The person who heard assessment appeals at that time was the county assessor, and the fireplaces were never assessed as part of market value of that residential home.

Things have changed now. I understand a built-in fireplace adds value to the property, and that is the way it should be. I have used a Franklin fireplace, so I do not have my assessment increased that much and still get the same benefit out of it. People often tell me they are going to put up a fireplace. I tell them it will cost an additional $70 or $80 a year on municipal taxes if they do. I suggest they go to a Franklin or another type of heater.

Because of this energy crisis many people are doing that. Many people are just putting in a brick-veneer chimney and use the Franklin and another type of heater in their basement or in their living room or spare room. I suggest there is much that can be done if the ministry takes the initiative. He cannot go on the way he is now, forever and ever bringing in amendments to the Assessment Act, year after year, moth-balling market-value assessment.

It does not have to go to full market value. I do not have to tell members about the evaluation of property today. It certainly has gone high, but not for the reason that value is being put into it. One of the reasons is the turnover in a particular home. I have seen this and I have watched it closely throughout my area and the Niagara region. Within a 10-year period homes have exchanged ownership about four times in a number of cases.

The final market sale price of that piece of property has gone way above what it should be. It is inflated, because our real estate agent makes a pretty good profit at 6 per cent. With that building being sold four times within that 10-year period, he is getting up to $80,000 for a building that cost $35,000 10 years ago. It adds an inflated value to the price of that property. The agent's commission should not be included in the market sale of that property. I suggest that is one area that he should be looking at. Perhaps he should be taking a good close look at the values that assessors have been putting on homes based upon sales, because it does not give the true picture of the cost of a house.

If I wanted to get a good valuation figure on my property, my best bet would be to go to my insurance agent, because he knows the replacement value and he knows about the sale of property in that area. I think it is a good way to look at it.

As I have suggested before, we should look at the methods that are used in Switzerland, where the property owner himself makes the judgement call on what he feels his property is worth. If he under assesses the amount, when it is sold the government gets all of the profit. The one person who actually knows the value of a piece of property is the property owner himself -- no other person.

11:30 a.m.

Under the new assessment manual and the present assessment practice here, it is not too often an industry is sold every year or twice a year. Perhaps it is sold once in 10 years, and it is pretty hard to put a value on property under those circumstances. I go back to the information coming from the Treasurer at that time, Mr. McKeough, when every time there was a problem he would run it through the computer and get the figure he was looking for. If we were to accept those assessment and revaluation practices today we would find a great shift from industrial-commercial back to residential in relation to the final cost of taxation within the municipality. Their costs would be much higher because of the assessment practices being carried out.

I believe one way of getting the full market value of a property is through knowing what the tendering price for the construction of a new building is.

Can the minister say if appliances are being included in the assessment practices of an assessor today? Is that part of the market value?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, there were quite a few points covered by the honourable member. The earlier ones were all covered earlier in the week, but I will touch on them again because the member did.

We spent considerable time on the urea formaldehyde foam insulation question, and we did acknowledge one of the problems in trying to provide some equity or relief for those who either had or perceived they had a problem, was what the dollar value of that problem is. Until there is a reasonable amount of market information we do not know. That is why we also acknowledged the correct course of overcoming that is to go to the assessment review court as the third party. During our open house process we will be advising people who are appealing their assessment of what to expect, what to prepare and what they should be bringing forth to the court to establish the case.

We also acknowledge a year from now things will be a little different. We will have some better indication of the extent of the problem, particularly as it affects value. We will possibly have a completely different position next year. This year the facts just are not there. The property transactions are just not there. The assessment review court, in my view, is the only fair answer.

As for the golf courses and what happens now through the regional assessment office compared with what happened before in the county offices, one of the things the member alluded to as being one of the problems was the amount of flexibility available before that is not available now. I agree with that to a certain degree. But that is also what created part of the problem. The reason for many of the inequities and differences in valuations and methods throughout this province was that in some areas some of the local assessment commissioners, as they were still called then, used a little too much flexibility and created inequity upon inequity. This was part of the problem we inherited in 1970.

For example, in the illustration referred to, on the golf courses themselves, this problem was created not since 1970 but before 1970 -- in 1968 or 1969 -- when that kind of flexibility was available to the county assessor. The problem is there. The other evening, I set out many of the various options that were there for a solution. Some may be very practical, some may be impossible in political terms in the short term, but to suggest that it is all our fault is really not backed by the facts.

We also have a local person who still looks at equity and is part of the process of creating equalization factors within area municipalities vis-à-vis the county or region they are involved in; he is called the regional commissioner. That is one of his responsibilities. It is probably a little more valid now, a little more complete now and a little fairer now than it used to be. He is still attempting with the guidelines he has, which at least are uniform now throughout the province, not to compound areas of inequity. Again, I am not suggesting that all the inequities are behind us, because they are not. That is one of the reasons why programs such as section 86 have been trying to overcome many of the problems that have been with us for some time.

As I am sure the honourable member is also aware, we have been looking, in co-operation with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and others, at simulations, county and region-wide, in terms of section 86 program implementation. Again, as I emphasized the other night, one of the very important aspects of getting the full benefits of section 86, whether it comes to apportionment corrections, if you will, or actual valuations within municipalities, is having the support of the municipal associations and, very important, the support of the municipalities that are involved, because we all know from previous experiences, particularly those having to do with regional governments.

Regional government generally has been working quite well in areas where municipalities have got behind it. Sometimes they have done so a little slowly and a little reluctantly, granted; but they have got behind the system and made it work.

Those areas where there still is region-bashing are where many of the problems still lie. We do need the help, the support and the co-operation of municipalities, whether they are looking after their own local jurisdiction or whether they are part of a bigger unit of either county or regional government. That is why we have been working with the relevant associations to look at this; and if at the opportune time it is appropriate to go that way, we will be able to do so knowing that we have the support of those who are involved.

Turning to the question of the agent's commission: Should they be in market value? We can debate all sides of that issue. If we really wanted to get pure on what is the value of a property, we would have to deduct everything that seems to generate income or profit to anybody. Should we assume that the market value does not include the profit the builder makes? Should we assume that the market value does not include the profit or markup that the subtrades make on the new residence? I think those questions are just as valid as suggesting that the market value does not include a component of the cost of selling or the cost of buying even right down to the actual legal costs of that transaction.

I do not know how we can take out one item on the basis that it is not perceived to be part of the market value. But keep in mind that it is still fair, because as long as it is in everybody's value it really does not change the equality of one property with another. There is always a difficulty if we start trying to remove something, because then we do not remove it for everybody. If a property is sold one on one, without involving a real estate agent, do we look at that property differently from one whose sale does involve a real estate agent? Again, I do not think that would be very feasible or very practical.

There is one thing that still determines the value of a property, regardless of what the owner may think. The member's own words were that only one person knows the value of the property, and that is the property owner himself. But I suggest that is somewhat far removed from the realities of the marketplace. You can think you have a property that is worth a $250,000, but if someone is a willing buyer at only half that price I would suggest that maybe both of you are a little out in your valuations. The only true value of a property is what a willing buyer is prepared to pay to a willing seller. I suggest that in most cases it is somewhere in between.

11:40 a.m.

There is no denying that at various times in the last few years we have had examples of properties that were probably being marketed for above their value, even above what was felt appropriate by the seller. But that too was the marketplace in action, where people were literally lined up to counter-offer on a basis even higher than the listed prices. We all know that phenomenon does not last too long and is usually followed by a period of downturn. Overall, there is no doubt that it probably catches some people with a somewhat inflated market value for a short period of time, but I suggest it all averages out eventually.

I think the last point the honourable member asked about was whether we include the value of utilities in the assessment value of a property.

Mr. Haggerty: I think the reference should have been to appliances.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Okay. That changes the question, for sure. My answer was going to be that there is quite a bit of difference between a property that has electric lights and plumbing and one that has an outhouse and a coal-oil lamp. I think the honourable member would agree.

If one is talking about appliances per se, as I understand it, if these appliances are built in and become a permanent part of the structure, if they are part of the original construction and cannot be removed in a feasible and a practical way, they form part of the assessed value of the property. This is a very small percentage of appliances.

For example, even a dishwasher on wheels that is rolled under a counter -- though it may appear to be a permanent structure, we all know it is not -- does not form part of the permanent assessed value of the property. So there really is not a straight yes and no; it really depends on how the appliance is installed and whether it is feasible to move it.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, I have a number of issues I would like to raise with the minister in the assessment area. Probably it would be better if I did them one at a time, and we can then perhaps discuss them as the minister responds.

The minister will recall that a couple of weeks ago, during the debate on the assessment amendment bill, I raised the question of farm policy. The minister's answer at that time was satisfactory, but I would like to follow that up a bit.

I understand there were, and probably are, discussions going on with a number of the farm organizations about a proposal in terms of taxes on farm properties in the province, the proposal to exempt all of the farm except the house and its lot from taxes.

Can the minister tell me what kind of direction those discussions with the farm organizations have been taking, what kind of response those farm organizations have to the idea of having that exemption on all of the farm portion of their property, the farm outbuildings and the farm land itself?

I ask that question just because of the way in which they responded when that kind of a proposal was originally made a number of years ago. It was somewhat of a negative response, and I am interested in finding out what kind of approach they are taking to the whole thing now.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, the issue having to do with farm land assessment and the managed forest has been ongoing. I think the question came up, if I recall, as to why that was not included in the bill. We indicated at that time that there has been ongoing dialogue and that time just ran out; so it has been postponed one year. I think there was mutual agreement that this should be so.

There is no doubt that in the course of these discussions the positions have changed over a period of time as well. The major position on which I think there now is general agreement is what value one should be putting on it. This has been the main area of contention. I think everybody has come to general agreement as to the removal of taxes, albeit there are differences of opinion between municipalities and the farming industry as to how that should be handled mechanically.

How actual property, the house and buildings directly related to the residents, should be treated related to two differences. The first of those differences was about the size of the lot that should be included when one is looking at the valuation and whether it should have a different value because one is looking on it as a severed lot when it really is not a severed lot. Second, and I guess the other part of that issue, was the feeling that even all of that should relate in some way to the productivity value of the overall farm which is considerably lower.

I think there is a consensus. I will not suggest at this time that it is a unanimous situation, but I think it has been generally agreed that a 50 per cent factor in valuation is probably fair in terms of the property value itself as being a nonseverable severed lot. Added to that, the actual market value of the building itself was probably fair.

That is still not 100 per cent finalized, but that is the current position, which we feel is probably fair to all sides, keeping in mind that in all this one has to look at the municipality and at the fairness of similar types of residential properties within a community that may not be farming in nature and may have the same services. That is the current position and some of the background that has led to it.

Mr. Charlton: I take it from that there is no basic change in the direction that was indicated in the announcement earlier this year but there may be some specific modifications, such as the 50 per cent method the minister is talking about. I assume that is just on the lot for the farm house and that the minister's target now is to try to be ready to implement some kind of program, whatever is finally decided, next December for the tax year 1983. Is that right?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes.

Mr. Charlton: In the discussions that have been going on, has the minister had much feedback from the farm organizations specifically? I have actually seen some of the feedback from municipalities, I have had a few letters and so on, but I have not personally seen any of the comment from the farm organizations themselves.

Have they made any comment about the tax question? They raised the issue fairly strongly a number of years ago, that they did not like the idea of the government paying their taxes for them. I wonder if that has changed substantially on their part or whether they are totally happy with the direction the minister is going in.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: That was not one of the main problems in the mind of the farming community; it was for some individuals and specific farmers, there is no doubt about that. But that was not the main issue; that was more the concern of the municipalities than the farmers.

It was particularly the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, involved on an ongoing basis through the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, that resolved, put forward positions and counterpositions and so on.

I think there has been a general conclusion and a consensus when all views are considered that the rebate program is still more attractive in the view of, I suppose, the majority than its elimination. As the member has heard it, particularly from some of the municipalities, they are concerned in some way or another that this might disappear.

But one thing we are doing, now that we have more time, is to try to reach even more of a consensus, whatever the final conclusion is, and maybe even do some other refinements along the line as well. For a while there, we did have a great pressure of time. We tried to implement for this year, taxation next year, the budget proposal in one form or another. That became physically impossible. It is to be hoped that the extra time will be well utilized by all concerned.

11:50 a.m.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, I want to move on to another area. I have a number of things I want to raise around the area of assessment appeals and the way in which appeals generally are approached.

I raised this generally in my comments earlier this week. The tendency by assessors has always been, and understandably so, that except in the grossest cases of obvious error they attempt to defend the assessment. They do work out agreements from time to time when is handling an appeal happens to be somebody who is aware of what he is talking about, certainly in appraisal terms.

That does happen quite frequently. But far too often there is a reluctance, because of the loss of tax question and perhaps because of other properties in the same area that are also assessed incorrectly, to make the changes that should be made.

I can think of one specific example. It was an appeal that I was involved in, and I talked to the assistant deputy minister about the appeal on a couple of occasions. We finally got a settlement for a reduction. We took that settlement to get what we could. I was not satisfied that what we got was the correct reality, though, in terms of market value and in terms of the act. I am talking about a section 86 area now.

Interestingly, although we got and signed a settlement for the people in question on, as a matter of fact, three outstanding appeals -- one that was outstanding at the Ontario Municipal Board, one that was outstanding at the county judge, and a current appeal this year that was outstanding at the assessment review court -- there are now a number of other properties on that street under appeal as result of some work by a rambunctious group of people working for one of the real estate firms in Hamilton who are doing that kind of appraisal appeal work. It looks very likely now that there is going to be a further reduction on all of those properties -- a reduction, I might add, that in my opinion will come much closer to the reality I was looking for in the first place in the appeal.

It seems to me that through the whole process -- and I recall that I suggested there were three levels of appeal outstanding on this one property; now it is going to have to be appealed again this year, along with a number of other properties on the street -- we have gone through one hell of a lot of work and cost to get to where we ultimately should have been able to sit down, discuss it and work it out in the first place.

I understand the attitudes that exist because of the problems that a reduction on one property creates for other properties in the neighbourhood that are not under appeal and all the rest of that. But it seems to me we could be using the appeal process much more suitably in terms of part of the mechanism for the ultimate and overall accuracy.

The assessment division should be taking better advantage of that process to find some of its mistakes -- because nobody is perfect and people do make mistakes -- and using that process to be the starting point for major changes when we find something that is not correct. That does not seem to be happening, and I would like the minister's response to that.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, the whole issue of appeals is a very complex one and no doubt causes some difficulties from time to time throughout the province. The question of when we should be agreeing to change an assessment is always a difficult one. There is no doubt the assessor feels he has done his job right the first time. Similarly, having said that, when it is proven to him that there is something different, that something has changed, or that he has made an error, mechanical or otherwise, then changes can be made. If it is before the roll has been returned, they can agree to a change, send out an amended assessment notice and it goes on from there.

We are talking about it going beyond that and perhaps perceiving a great many changes usually on the basis of reductions. This is somewhat in conflict. I appreciate, understand and agree that it is supposed to be fair, equitable and supportable. That is the whole basis of it. But we have to be careful about not giving away too easily -- and this may be a perception -- the municipalities' tax base. That is how they look at it, as members well know.

There is always a fine line between trying to be fair and equitable, trying to eliminate appeals or to finalize them and come to a settlement as quickly as possible and at the same time not giving the impression to the municipality that the assessor is prepared to give away the shop because somebody puts a little pressure on him.

Some areas more than others, and even some assessors more than others, may be more amenable to reaching a settlement, while some may be much more dogmatic in carrying them forth to the appeal tribunal, namely, the assessment review court. Although the magnitude of appeals is significant when you see it in absolute numbers, when we compare that to the total properties within Ontario it puts it somewhat in context.

For example, at present the appeals outstanding for taxation years prior to this one, 1980 and before, were about 34,000 to the county judge, 750 to the Ontario Municipal Board and about 100 to the higher courts. In the 1981 tax year, there were about 155,000 appeals filed throughout the whole province against 1980 assessments.

This year, as I am sure the honourable member is aware, the appeal process was delayed over the summer because they were unable to send notices. The appeal process, particularly at the assessment review court level, was considerably delayed. As of now -- and I suppose this is a week or two out of date -- about 70,000 of those 155,000 have not been disposed of as yet. However, under normal circumstances a good number of those would have been finalized earlier than they have been this year.

I am not quite sure there is any answer that is perceived to be completely fair by either side in terms of the home owner or, in this case, even a real estate firm that is in the business of trying to lower assessments. That is the connotation I took from what the member was saying; and I am not suggesting such a firm is doing it illegally or anything like that.

How far can one bend to that side without giving the impression to the municipality that one is taking no responsibility for the erosion of its tax base without having the appellants appeal in front of the proper appeal tribunal, the first stage of which is the assessment review court, where we all know most of the residential appeals are satisfied and finalized?

I wish I could be more specific. We would like the whole system to work faster as well, particularly to reduce this backlog that is over and above the assessment review court. I am sure the honourable member is aware that the appeal functions are not in the purview of this ministry but of the Ministry of the Attorney General. We know they are looking at recommendations and possible solutions to help move the backlog and to help put in place possibly a chain system that would not allow that backlog ever to appear again.

12 noon

The Deputy Chairman: Continuing with the same general train --

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, I have a few comments to round this part out.

The Deputy Chairman: That's right. You still have the floor, member for Hamilton Mountain.

Mr. Charlton: Just to carry on in relation to the discussion on appeals: I clearly understand, and have always understood, the attitudes that exist both in the ministry and at the municipal level. But if we look at the system the way it is currently operating we will find that in many cases the reluctance to make the changes across the board can cause more disruption to the tax base than not making them in the first place.

Again, I give the minister the example of the case I was talking about where in the first instance we had only one property under appeal. If the assessment office had sat down and said, "Okay, we are going to fix this property right to what the reality of market value on this street should have been, and this fall we are going to change the rest of the properties on the street and correct all the others," the changes that were made on the rest of the street would not affect the city's tax base because they would be made before the return of the roll.

There is one appeal the minister will lose a little bit more on because, instead of being reluctant and giving a settlement that really goes only halfway, he gets the thing corrected properly. You have got one appeal and there is one small disruption to the city's tax base for that year. You make the rest of the corrections, based on what you learned through that process, to the return of the next roll.

Now we have a situation where, because the authorities went the reluctant road on that one appeal and did not make all the changes on the other properties before the return to the roll last year, we have a whole string of appeals in this year, all of which they are going to lose. As a matter of fact, they are not even going to lose in a battle in court; there is going to be a settlement. But it is a whole string of properties this time, and the municipality's tax base is affected to a far greater degree than it would have been if we had settled the one appeal properly last year and made the changes on the roll before it was returned.

That is the kind of thing we have to start thinking about, and that is what I was getting at: the kind of process that uses the appeal process to avoid some of the problems we are now running into.

I want to make one other quick comment. The minister mentioned briefly the Attorney General's ministry and the kinds of changes they are now looking at. I do not want to go into a lot of specific detail, because I understand it is not his ministry; but he certainly has a stake in what they are doing.

There has been a lot of criticism in the press of the assessment review court and the ARC chairmen. There is no question that some of the assessment review court chairmen are damned good: They know their business, they have been around for a long time and they know very well what they are doing. They know market value. But the vast majority of the assessment review court chairmen do not know market value and are sometimes making judgements based on how well they feel the assessor knows his job.

In other words, if the assessor is really impressive, the chairman will go with the assessor. On the other hand, if he gets an appellant who has some expertise or brings expertise with him, then he will go with the appellant. You can get all kinds of decisions from some of these ARC chairmen because they do not know what they are doing.

I think it would be in the minister's best interests to involve himself or his staff in that process and perhaps even to make some recommendations himself. For example, it has been my belief for a long time that the assessment review court chairmanships, instead of being appointed positions, as they are at present, should be civil service positions with a set of criteria that must be fulfilled. Obviously the main criterion is an understanding of valuation, of appraisal of market values. That does not exist for at least 60 per cent of the chairmen at present, and that is where the kinds of problems we have in the system arise.

Then there is also, as the minister suggested, the question of the problem of the timing of appeal hearings, the numbers and availability of chairmen, and again, as he mentioned, the postal strike which set things back considerably this summer. But even without the postal strike the assessment review court system has been getting more backlogged every year for the last number of years. I think it is in the minister's best interest to get involved in that discussion about changing that whole system.

I have learned over the course of the years I have been associated with the assessment business that a ratepayer who goes to ARC hearings and gets a chairman who does not know what he is doing, a ratepayer who has very little expertise of his own, feels like he or she got railroaded through a hearing. That happens a lot at those hearings. When that ratepayer goes home, ultimately it is not the Attorney General's ministry that he reflects badly on, because the ratepayer does not even realize the ARC chairman is not from his ministry.

It is this ministry they reflect badly on, it is the assessment office they reflect badly on, and it is the whole assessment process that they reflect badly on as a result of some of the stupid shenanigans that have gone on in ARC hearings. It is clearly in the minister's best interest to get involved in the changes that are being made there.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Just very briefly on that point, Mr. Chairman, I can assure the member that we have been and are involved in that process and have made our views known. I cannot disagree with him at all as to our being the main benefactors of a system that works better, a system that works faster.

Similarly, I am afraid I cannot disagree with him about who gets blamed when it does not work. It is not the Ministry of the Attorney General; it is in one way or another the assessment process and the assessment function, in fact, right down to the local assessor, let alone the ministry and the government. We have been very much involved in the process, and hopefully we will also be very much involved in the solution.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, in the committee dealing with the Ministry of Natural Resources estimates last night, the question was raised by some of the honourable members there concerning crown lands that are leased to mining corporations which have eventually abandoned their operations due to the depletion of the ore body.

The question is, how much is it assessed for? The minister could not give us an answer last night, so I though I would raise the question today during the estimates to find out how land is assessed where we have abandoned mines in northern, northwestern and northeastern Ontario, wherever it may be.

Where the mining companies still hold the leases, how is this land assessed in an unorganized municipality, and is it assessed on an equitable basis with property in that area?

It has been brought to my attention that much of the land that is abandoned, where the mining industry is no longer interested in further operations, is good recreational land and could perhaps be farmed out, or the Ministry of Natural Resources could have the land returned to it. Cottage lots could be developed in that area, bringing additional assessment to an unorganized municipality. How is that assessed and who assesses it?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I will be very frank; it is an area that is relatively new to me, so I got a two-minute education.

As I understand it, the assessment function, even on mining claims and mining property, is still done by the Ministry of Revenue and really has nothing to do with the Ministry of Natural Resources. In actual fact, the value of the property in many instances --

12:10 p.m.

Mr. Haggerty: It is the surface rights I am talking about now, not mining rights.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is all we are talking about. We do not try to put a value to the ore body per se. That is done through mining tax.

The property itself can have value depending on the nature of the development, for the actual structures that have been put up, such as the head frames, and whether any refining has been done there. These have an assessed value and, in turn, a tax rate. If it is in an unorganized area it becomes provincial land tax. If it is in an organized area that revenue flows to the municipality in question.

If a mining company abandons its claim because it is worked out, then we perceive it no longer has any value if that is the only reason for the valuation, assuming there are no other things on the property that would accrue value to it. There could be some residential sectors or people still living there as part of the claim. If one is talking only about a mine head and some storage buildings, and if there is no value to the property since it was abandoned, it no longer has an assessed value either, as far as that aspect of it is concerned. We have to make that clear. There could be other circumstances that would bring about a perceived value to that property even on the ground.

Mr. Haggerty: There was a question raised during the minister's estimates last night. If, for example, a mining company has leased huge tracts of land from the Ministry of Natural Resources for mining purposes, and also has the mining and the surface rights, as soon as the ore is depleted and the mine sits idle -- the head frame and other buildings may be there which are assessed at a certain value -- a question arises about the mining industry which has a large holding, in a sense, on that leased land which does not revert to the crown. They are sitting on valuable land that could be used for recreation.

If I understood the minister correctly, the government has no assessment on that land. They could be sitting there holding that land for years and years. As the value of recreational land rises they might be sitting on a good nest-egg and contributing nothing in municipal or property taxes to a municipality. I interpret the minister's comments to be -- hopefully, he is wrong in this area -- that there is no value placed on that land. I hope that is not the case. I refer to the land and the surface rights.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: In trying to expand my education, I hope I did not miss any of the member's question. On the issue of the value itself, on surface rights it is my understanding that it depends on the connotation of the company "abandoning" it. If they have said, "This no longer has any value to us," and they abandon it, apparently then it would once again revert to the crown. Hence, there is no problem anyway. It then once again becomes crown land.

If they just mothball their operations and keep their options open for the future, then I am told we still have evaluation on what is left, either under the heading of a "mothballed value" or even a salvage value, as long as they retain their rights. Once they give up their rights and it reverts to the crown, their obligation ceases.

Mr. Haggerty: Could the minister give me an indication of what value is placed on it is it by the acre or by the tract, by sections or what? What is the figure? Is it across the board?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I am told it is by acreage.

Mr. Haggerty: What is the figure, though? Does the minister have any idea? Is it $300 an acre? Is it $500, as it is in some places in the Niagara region? I would like to know the figures.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Apparently, as with any other property, it would depend on the nature and value of the lease itself and the location of the property. If you were talking about that kind of land in the Niagara Peninsula, let me know where it is. But it would be worth a lot more than if it were up in the far north in a very remote area of the province. The acreage could be the same, but the value could be considerably different even for the same purported purpose.

Mr. Haggerty: Are we looking at 25 cents, 50 cents, or $50 an acre? There must be some value struck there and that is what I would like to get at. In assessment practice in the province, this may be one area where there is an inequity that should be changed. I would like to know. You must have some factor there.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: There is really not an average or a norm. It depends on the situations I have described before. The only thing I can offer is to make a commitment today to get back to the honourable member in writing with some specific examples of some properties in different parts of the province. They would be specific. There is no norm per se to say whether it is 25 cents or $25.

I will make the commitment to get back to the member with some specific examples so he can get a feel for the problem if he perceives there is one. I am sure if he feels there is a problem, then through the opportunity of question period I will be pleased to get back to him as well as, obviously, on a personal basis.

Mr. Haggerty: The matter was raised in committee last night. One of the members suggested there was good value in the land, that there were a number of lakes and rivers up there and that it could be used for recreational sites such as cottage sites. I am suggesting this if people want to buy the land from the crown. There is, one might say, obsolete mining industry sitting on that land and they are sitting on it for a purpose, saying there is value to it. It should be assessed at what the value is even for recreational purposes.

In the Niagara Peninsula the practice was that if one owned lakefront property on Lake Erie one paid a hefty municipal tax based on the assessed value of that land because one fronted on Lake Erie. I understand even in cottage country up in the Haliburton area, if one is on a lake -- it depends on the type of lake and if it has a good sandy beach -- it is assessed much higher.

There must be value on those abandoned mining operations up there that should revert back to the crown, letting the people who want to use it for recreational purposes get in there. It eventually will mean additional taxes for the local municipalities or even for the unorganized municipalities.

Mr. Eakins: Tell us about the crown lands in your riding.

Mr. Grande: I will tell you what is in my riding if you are willing to listen.

Mr. Chairman, I want to get to my feet briefly to find something out from the minister. For the past couple of years I have represented an area you and your colleagues may be aware of, the borough of York. That particular area always seems, in the Metropolitan Toronto scheme of things, to be the one paying the highest property tax rate in all of Metro.

I have had discussions with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) and now will continue with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett), but I want to deal with you in terms of appeals. The reason I am getting up is because a little while back I received a phone call from one of my constituents complaining that her appeal of two years ago had not even had a hearing at the time she got in touch with me.

12:20 p.m.

I asked how on earth that could be possible, because obviously, based on the appeal of that first year, whether one wins or loses, they would establish the assessment rate for the year after. I asked if that had happened. She said: "No. For two years in a row I have appealed my assessment and I have not yet had a hearing."

I got in touch with people in the ministry and I believe -- I could be corrected if I am wrong, but I gave them details of that particular case -- because this lady did not get back to me, hopefully she was satisfied and hopefully a hearing was arranged. That is where it lies.

I just want to find out from the minister what kind of backlog we are talking about in Metropolitan Toronto. It appears to me there must be a tremendous number of appeals that are not heard or that would have to wait a long period of time to be heard. Is it possible -- and obviously I do not expect the minister to have it done today -- that for the different areas in Metropolitan Toronto, the different municipalities, or at least the four assessment offices, he can provide some statistics in terms of backlog, in terms of when the application to appeal was made and to what extent these appeals are still not heard?

I suspect the number of appeals has increased tremendously in the last two to three years. I would even venture an educated guess that the number of appeals is going to continue to skyrocket, especially in Metropolitan Toronto.

For the time being, could the minister provide to every member of the committee the number of appeals that each of the four assessment offices has had for the last two to three fiscal years, and with what speed or lack of speed are these appeals dealt with?

In answer to the honourable member who spoke about the crown land in the riding of Oakwood, we do not have a lot of available land in the borough of York; as a matter of fact, the borough of York happens to be one of the highest concentrated areas in all of Metropolitan Toronto. Whenever we find a square foot of empty space, we consider that to be a precious commodity.

If the minister at least makes a commitment that this information will be forthcoming, I think it would be very instructive -- perhaps not to the minister, but certainly instructive to me. Property tax reform in this province is certainly long overdue, and the government has been fiddling around for the past 15 years with no results as yet.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, let me make the commitment that we will secure that information. Again, frankly, it is not directly ours, it is through the Attorney General's ministry and the assessment review court, but we will still bring it together and provide the honourable member with that breakdown; not only the number of appeals by area, but going back and picking up the backlog of any that are outstanding. I did indicate the broad numbers earlier, but that was for the whole province.

As for the whole issue of property tax reform vis-à-vis Metropolitan Toronto, as I am sure the honourable member knows, one of the problems in implementation, even in the past, of some of the recommendations and suggestions that came forward and many of the concerns from Metropolitan Toronto, even including that area of Toronto and over into York, including the area he is from, as he knows, one of the problems is that some people do not want to rock the boat.

There is no doubt that politically it is a difficult bullet to bite, and I suggest that many people have to take part of the responsibility for the procrastination that has gone on over the years. I do not think anybody at all is pure in the system, whether at the local level of government, the Metropolitan level of government or the provincial level of government. Again, I think we have made strides in the last couple of years and are heading in the right direction. I am sure everybody will be pleased when that no longer is an issue.

But to get back specifically to the question, obviously, as I think he recognizes, I cannot give him those kinds of specifics today. But we will check with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) directly and/or with the assessment review court to see what they have on tap and then accumulate the information and get it to him.

Mr. Grande: Since the minister is so kind as to get me that information I wonder if he would do one other kind thing as well. In the past little while -- probably a couple of years, I would say -- more and more appeals seem to be coming from the industrial-commercial assessment in the area of Metropolitan Toronto and in my particular area as well, and it appears to me that the incidence of victories by the industrial and commercial sector in these appeals is increasing.

It would be very instructive to find out how many appeals there are in that particular sector and how many appeals have been won by the industrial sector. Of course, as the industrial sector wins more appeals this simply means that an increasing amount of taxes have to be collected, and this in turn means that the burden is being shifted to the residential sector from the industrial-commercial sector. I urge the minister to look into that if he can, please, and also provide me with that information at an opportune time.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I can make that commitment to the degree that we are able to come up with that information. There is no doubt that we can categorize the nature of the appeals -- in other words, determine whether they were residential, commercial, industrial and that kind of thing. There would apparently be great difficulty in perceiving winners and losers, because I am sure one could look at some cases where both sides figured they were winners and others where both sides figured they were losers. But we will try to put together as complete an information package as we feasibly can.

The only thing I want to caution the member about in advance is that some of the specifics he is talking about just are not available. Whatever is available and whatever we can put together from various sources, I will be very pleased to provide to the honourable member as soon as possible.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, may I speak for just 30 more seconds? I do not understand what the minister means, frankly, when he speaks about what appear to be winners and what appear to be losers. Somehow he is fuzzy in that area.

If an appeal or a complaint is lodged and is appealed through the assessment review court, if the court deems this complaint or appeal to be founded there is certainly a winner. It might not be the particular amount the person or the company lodging the appeal had asked for; however, the fact is that there has in all likelihood been a reduction of the assessment on that particular property. I would therefore classify those appellants as winners. There is nothing fuzzy about that.

12:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I acknowledge what the honourable member has said but, as he well knows, I want to put in the caution that whatever figures we come up with are not pure, particularly in the context of the category that he is referring to, which is the industrial commercial sector. Usually these appeals are very substantial and quite often they get changed. In other words, there may be a winner at the assessment review court who becomes a loser at the county court or the Ontario Municipal Board. Those are always in the mill and, as he well knows, on the bigger cases it can take a considerable period of time. We will try to be as accurate and as complete as we can, with those restrictions.

Mr. Charlton: I want to go back briefly to a couple of matters that I raised in my opening statement. The minister responded to most of the things I raised, but there was one issue that I specifically raised with regard to assessment: where we go in the future.

I suggested that perhaps it was time we got this Legislature involved in looking at the future and where we have to go with the whole question of property tax reform. Perhaps it is time we considered setting up an all-party select committee to spend the next two or three years working on that, from the perspective of trying to find some consensus about our future direction because, as the minister suggested, at this point there is very little consensus between the government side and the opposition side and perhaps even within the government itself.

I know that both of the opposition parties have some varying views, depending on the kinds of situations the minister talked about where the political situation in Metro Toronto may be far different than the feelings up in the Ottawa area, in the Sudbury area or in the Windsor area. It is time we started trying to pull the whole process together here, and started trying to get members of this House involved in that discussion and in understanding the kinds of problems, on which I think most of us will admit that most members of the House do not have a good handle or a good understanding.

I would certainly like to hear the minister's comments about moving in that kind of direction and getting the members of this Legislature involved, in some fashion, in looking to the future.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I respect the sincerity with which the suggestion is made. I do mean that sincerely because, as I think I already acknowledged earlier this week, there is no doubt that the honourable member opposite does have some personal expertise in this area and could, I am sure, contribute. On the other hand, I think the issues we are talking about, rightfully or wrongly, are really a responsibility of government. I think it is at that point in time, again after we have come up with further proposals and ideas, and one would hope in a quiet way, that we are making progress.

Granted, we have not gone to the degree of involving the members within this political forum, as implied by the honourable member opposite, but we have gone the route of trying to involve a lot of groups and a lot of people and to try to reach a consensus. Frankly, it has not worked, for some of the reasons that we have already talked about. I am a little reluctant to even suggest or consider that kind of route might be appropriate again.

There may very well be an opportune time or an opportunity to refine something that is being implemented or is about to be implemented through having input from the honourable members, but I would suggest, and I think the member alluded to it earlier, that there are very few of us who really have any great expertise in this area. Sometimes what comes out of the deliberations is far from practical. Politically, they may be very attractive to the proponent, but in a practical sense they may not be very feasible.

I would be a little worried that this kind of an operation might end up going that route, acknowledging again that there is probably only one person here, namely, the member himself, who has had personal experience in the assessment function. I would suggest there are some people here who have some personal feel and involvement in the overall issue, in taxation, administration and problems at the municipal level. I do not belittle that at all.

I guess the long and the short of it is that I do not think that kind of committee is appropriate at this time. However, we may have something a little more serious to look at down the line that may very well call upon the expertise of the honourable member and others to get involved and put politics and political parties aside. I am sure his input and that of a few others would be more than useful.

Mr. Charlton: I think I understand where the minister is coming from and what he is saying. For the purposes of discussion, let me say that I have no illusions about the problems involved and the difficulty any committee of this House would have in coming to a consensus in much the same way as has gone on in the past.

On the other hand, we have had a number of studies. I do not perceive any committee of this Legislature ever setting government policy. That has never happened before. Sometimes the government picks up on recommendations that come out of committees and, either through policy or legislation, implements some of those things.

On the other hand, there are many occasions where exactly the opposite is true. We had the Blair commission, we had discussions back in the 1960s with the Smith committee and we had the provincial-municipal liaison committee, whatever it was, that was working around 1978. All of those discussions have gone on.

I understand what the minister is saying, but one thing he has to admit is that through those processes there was some consensus developed by the municipal people who were involved in the provincial-municipal liaison committee. Some consensus evolved; it brought them as a group closer to understanding where the government was at in terms of market value and general direction. There was some consensus achieved.

None of that consensus was effectively achieved here, though, because none of us was part of those discussions, none of us heard the presentations or the pros and cons that were argued on the specifics of the things that were being discussed. That is where the benefit lies for this House.

I would not want, nor would the minister, to see a committee take the months of January and February of 1982 and set itself that kind of a deadline to come back to this House with major recommendations on property tax reform. I agree that would be nuts. Not only would it be nuts, but it would probably be counterproductive as well. What I am talking about is something slightly bigger in scope.

The minister talks about expertise, and again that is one of my major concerns: the lack of it in this House. We had a select committee of this House on Ontario Hydro affairs which became a very technical and difficult committee. There was no expertise on the part of most of the members who were originally involved in that committee. However, when they came out of that committee, members from all parties who were involved in that committee had developed expertise and understanding beyond anything they could have achieved by any other method in terms of very complicated issues.

He does not have to jump up and say "Yes" today, but it is something I would like him to think about. In the long run, perhaps there should be a two-year or three-year mandate to study that kind of thing, not only to look at some of the things that are going on in the Ministry of Treasury and Economics in terms of future directions but also to talk to the municipalities and a number of other groups that have been involved in the whole question of tax reform. I do not think it would be a totally backward or useless project if it were set up properly with the right mandate and the right time frame in which to work.

12:40 p.m.

Mr. Chairman: Any comments, Mr. Minister?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I do not think there is anything of any great substance I did not say before, Mr. Chairman. I want to re-emphasize that I accept completely the spirit in which the suggestions were given. I think I have agreed that at some point some kind of dialogue would be useful. I am not convinced, but we will not completely discard it, that at some time a committee or select committee might be useful. Right now I have some strong reservations about that kind of approach, but the door is never closed.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the minister a question in regard to assessment and particularly the farm property tax reform. Maybe he has answered the question during the discussion of his estimates. Where does it sit as far as the minister is concerned, and is he planning on implementing it in the near future? The second question is: Is he getting input from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and exactly where does that sit at present?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: We have discussed this issue twice, Mr. Chairman, the last time being about half an hour ago, but I will be happy to update the member briefly. As he knows, the original proposal in the Treasurer's budget of May 19 of this year indicated there would be a change effected for taxation, grants, et cetera, for 1982.

As time went on, discussions were going on, particularly with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The municipalities have a great interest in this area as well; so there was a lot of input through the municipal associations and through individual municipalities that were concerned with some of the initial proposals. The ongoing dialogue was to try to reach some kind of consensus with a view, if you will, to mutual advantage with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

Time ran out for implementation on the assessment rolls in 1981 for 1982 taxation, and that was so indicated. As a matter of fact, it came out in the debate on the Assessment Act some two weeks or so ago as to why there were no amendments in the act at that time. We are still going along with further discussions.

At the moment, I think we have a general consensus as to the route it would go to appear on the assessment rolls in 1982 for 1983 taxation. The present system, which has been going on in terms of the valuation and assessment of farms and the farm tax rebate program, will carry on for 1982 pretty well as it has in 1981 and in the last few years.

As to what the final changes will be in 1982 for 1983 taxation, I cannot say for sure, other than that the general parameters seem to be to give a complete rebate for taxation for the farming part of the operation, including buildings, and then to come up with a valuation for the residential part of the property.

A consensus has been pretty well reached that one has a perceived value of a piece of land related to the residential portion of the property. It is looked at as a severed portion but really is not severed and does not carry the same value a severed portion would; so 50 per cent seems to be the current thinking on that. Then there is a market value on the residence itself so that it equates in value to like properties within the community.

That is the way it is going, but it will not be implemented for taxation in 1982.

Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a second question. I had a request from our federation of agriculture in Norfolk only this past week wondering if somebody from this ministry would be available to sit down for discussions with that organization. They have suggested Mr. W. J. Lettner, the assistant deputy minister for property assessment. Would he be available to meet with them in March, say, and bring them up to date and maybe get input in somewhat the same fashion, I suppose, as my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain is suggesting, but not on a task force basis?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes. At that time of the year, in March or April, we would be happy to make the assistant deputy minister available for a briefing type of meeting. Again, this has been ongoing, and I did mention this before, more particularly with the people in Treasury rather than directly in Revenue, as the policy was being developed. But we would be happy to bring them up to date as to the current thinking and answer any questions that might be involved.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has been and has continued to be very much involved in this whole process. How much they have transmitted down to the local areas, I do not know. From what the member is saying, it may not have been as complete as some of the local groups would have liked, and we will be happy to help.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, there is one last matter I would like to raise before we wrap up. It is a matter I touched on briefly in my opening remarks, but it does not deal with this vote. With your permission, it is just more or less a question to the minister, and I think he probably would be prepared to respond or to get some advice from his staff.

It has to do with some of things that have been going on in the tax sector, and I am specifically referring now to a group which started in Peterborough with a Mr. Bruce Knapp. Members have obviously read about him in the papers and know what is happening with his little retail sales tax revolt.

I have looked through the legislation, and I am not sure exactly how the sections are being interpreted, but my understanding is that what he is doing is refusing to pay the tax at the point of purchase but eventually he will have to pay the tax directly to the ministry. Is that basically correct?

I have had a number of calls from people involved with Mr. Knapp -- as a matter of fact, I had Mr. Knapp in to see me -- and there were some concerns on their part that the minister would be doing something to try to deal with their little revolt and try to accomplish something to plug up whatever loophole it is that allows them to do that.

My sense of it, having looked at the act, is that if the minister is going to plug any loopholes it will have to be done by changing the act with an amendment in this House. What is his response to that kind of thing? Where is he going with it? How is he going to deal with it?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, we had that question in question period some weeks ago, but I would be happy to update the issue. First of all, we have not had any great indication that this is a significant problem in the marketplace.

There is one thing, rather in opposite terms of what Mr. Knapp and some of the supporters are saying. They are complaining about the spending of governments -- and I think everybody will acknowledge, even they do, that they are not just talking about the provincial government but about governments in general, at all levels; this is a means to an end, in their view -- and the waste of money and the misuse of money.

At the same time, they are going through a bit of a charade, for the sake of a better word, that would in itself imply a waste of money by government to go out and collect the taxes that we have to collect to be fair to everybody in the system. Whether they disagree with the tax is one thing, but equity is another; the law says they shall pay the tax and, believe me, they shall pay the tax.

If in his view and some of his supporters' views that is how we cut down on government spending, it frankly escapes me. But so be it. Many of the articles I have read -- and these are not particularly from Mr. Knapp, but from some of the other organizations at the local level that he has attempted to set up -- say: "Yes, we are going to go out and buy something, refuse to pay the tax, but as soon as the tax collector comes to my door I am going to pay it. But we are going to put them through the bother of collecting it." To me, that is completely self-defeating.

12:50 p.m.

I will get an update again shortly -- the last was about two weeks ago -- but our indications are that to date the incidents are very few and far between. It has not been a problem. They have not been imposing a problem to the degree they imply through their contacts with the press. They are putting the main burden of their problem on the retailer, it would appear, based on the reports we are getting.

As the member has read in the legislation, the responsibility is on the retailer to get an indication in writing -- name and address, et cetera, and the amount of tax avoided -- from his purchaser. In turn, within 20 days he has to get that into our sales tax office, and we take up the collection responsibility.

Based on the number of those we have been receiving, there are very few, which implies either they are not carrying through their revolt or they are putting the onus on the retailer himself. That is penalizing the retailer in their local community.

Having said all that, if it does become an administrative problem and a waste of taxpayers' money to carry on and collect the sums of money -- that is exactly what it would be, in my view: a misuse of government revenues and, hence, taxpayers' revenues -- then we will consider very seriously closing the loophole.

It was not ever meant as a loophole in the context in which it is being used. When the act was first brought into being some years ago, being a new form of taxation, so as not to put the onus of a government tax on the retailer, it said that those opportunities were there. It never became a problem. It was an educational part of the process; so it was never removed from the act. It would require a relatively simple amendment to remove the option from the retailer and make him a mandatory collector.

Mr. Charlton: Would there have to be an amendment to the act?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes. Just as it is mandatory that employers deduct and withhold income tax, that they deduct Canada pension plan funds, that they withhold unemployment insurance and those kinds of things. It would not be a great effort to make that mandatory. It may at some time be necessary, but for the moment the problem is not there.

Vote 804 agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, there is a suggestion about vote 805, but that is the statutory one and does not require a vote.

Mr. Chairman: This concludes the estimates of the Ministry of Revenue.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Ashe, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.

The House adjourned at 12:55 p.m.