The House met at 1330.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think it is important to look at a couple of the issues that have led us to the point where the government has brought in unilateral changes to our rules to make this place an undemocratic institution in Ontario.
First of all, the Sunday shopping issue: If members recall, the former Solicitor General, Joan Smith, signed a unanimous report that called for the maintenance of the status quo and in the 1987 election the Premier said he had absolutely no intention of changing the law.
Then the government got its majority and completely flip-flopped on the issue. In other words, they said one thing during an election and another thing after. Obviously it was the Opposition’s job, role and responsibility to hold the government accountable for that flip-flop no matter what the means would be.
On the Smith affair, when the then Solicitor General went and visited the Lucan police station a few weeks ago, it obviously was the opposition’s responsibility and role to hold the government accountable and to impose decent standards on the cabinet of this province, because the Premier obviously had no intention of doing its all. He thought that because of his majority and his arrogance he could get through it and the opposition be damned.
The government wants to avoid accountability by making this place undemocratic. This is a big, arrogant government and we simply will not let it get away with these types of activities. We have offered for quite some time to negotiate rule changes in a nonpartisan, three-party approach.
The Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time has expired.
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is how it has been done in the past and that is how it should be done now.
Mr Sterling: I rise today to voice my concern over the disintegration of the parliamentary system in Ontario. The limitation imposed upon the opposition parties under the proposed changes to the standing orders by the government House leader amounts to nothing more than a virtual dictatorship of this assembly.
Since 1985 all parties in this Legislature have been working together in good faith to bring about changes to the standing orders. Two reports have been produced, yet they have gone unnoticed and ignored by the government. Yet there was no consultation with respect to this government edict. There was no negotiation. There was simply a cabinet commandment designed to reduce the embarrassment and damage to its own members and appointees by preventing the opposition from exposing this government’s overwhelming incompetence.
The government is well aware that the only tool of an opposition party in a majority Parliament is one of delay. This Parliament has not been stalled because of a lack of responsibility on the part of the opposition. Parliament has been stalled because we have a Premier (Mr Peterson) who does not understand his role and the role of his ministers. Parliament has been stalled because of a lack of consultation with the opposition parties, because of a poorly defined agenda and because of ill-drafted legislation.
The government’s motion only exemplifies its arrogance.
Mr Faubert: Last Tuesday, 6 June, along with my legislative colleagues from Scarborough, I attended the launching ceremony for the city of Scarborough’s blue box recycling program. Today, as I speak, over 100,000 blue boxes are being delivered to home owners across the city of Scarborough.
As a long-time, and sometimes impatient supporter of recycling, I am pleased that Scarborough has finally joined the other five Metro municipalities in implementing the blue box program.
I must commend this government’s Ministry of the Environment for its consistent efforts to assist and encourage municipalities across the province in establishing recycling programs. Indeed, the ministry is contributing approximately $1.3 million to this particular project. Since 1985 this government has increased funding tenfold for household recycling.
That is not all. Members of this Legislature can look forward to further initiatives of the Ministry of the Environment to bring other aspects of recycling on stream. I support and encourage the minister as he endeavours to have the blue box program extended to apartment dwellers. Members of this Legislature may know that organic wastes make up nearly one third of total household waste volumes.
The minister has indicated his commitment to contribute to a program providing home composting units to home owners and assisting municipalities in setting up collection systems and communal composting facilities. In Metro, Etobicoke is leading the way by its initiation of a program of composting starting this month.
I am pleased to say that our government continues to demonstrate its commitment to promoting the 4R program of reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery, to move us from a consumer throwaway to a conserver society.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Last week the government House leader outraged those of us here who are concerned about the unparalleled notion that a government could, on its own, change the rules in this place because of what he considered obstruction by the members opposite, and it was triggered, as you may know, Mr Speaker, by the time you named the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) and we appealed your ruling.
I would like to bring to the attention of members of this House that on 11 June 1981 Stuart Smith was named in this House. The naming by the Speaker was appealed by one Robert Nixon at that time. Before the vote was taken, it took over an hour of bell ringing by the Liberal Party. At that point Mr Nixon, Mr Conway and Mr Peterson entered this House and they voted against the Speaker that day, just as we did here.
I would just say to the members opposite, before they try to fool the people by changing the rules of this House -- like the anti-Magna Carta-ites that they are -- with the dictatorship that they want to bring in and all the dangers that are involved in that, they should remember their own actions in this House. These things will come back to show them up for what they are, a power-hungry majority that wants to inflict its will on this Legislature.
The Speaker: Order. The member’s time has expired. The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: Racism has been defined as society’s gravest threat to society --
Mr R. F. Johnston: It was Mr Nixon who gave us the precedent and Mr Conway who voted for it.
The Speaker: Order.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, with respect, could I start at my full time?
The Speaker: Agreed?
Mrs Marland: Racism has been defined as society’s gravest threat to society, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason. The events this past weekend, in which a North York synagogue and school were defaced in what is being described as the worst case of ethnic vandalism in years, serve as a stark reminder of the sorry truth of that observation.
I want to take this opportunity to express my sense of personal outrage at this racist attack and my hope that the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice. As legislators we have a responsibility to make it clear that this type of despicable activity will not be tolerated in our society and that we will not sit by and allow hatemongers to threaten the rights or demean the values of any of our fellow citizens.
Moral indignation alone, however, is not an effective response to mindless bigotry. Our noble sentiments must be supported by the legal, educational and community initiatives required to combat the malignancies of racism and anti-Semitism. I know that all members would want to express their support for the people of the community victimized by this reprehensible act and to take advantage of this sad event to renew our commitment to the creation of an equitable and tolerant society.
Mr Callahan: Once again that very fortunate time has rolled around when the city of Brampton will be celebrating a multicultural event that is first and foremost in the province: Carabram. It will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7, 8 and 9 July.
I invite all members of the assembly and anyone out there watching us on television to attend this event. It is an opportunity to travel to 17 specific lands to savour the sights, sounds and tastes of those lands without ever leaving Brampton.
I can indicate to the House that the Minister of Citizenship (Mr Phillips) has been kind enough to host a reception here at Queen’s Park on Monday, 19 June, from 5:30 to 7:30. I wish to express on his behalf an invitation to all members of the Legislature to attend that celebration, to have an opportunity to get some idea about what goes on and see some of the costumes of the countries that are represented at Carabram.
Brampton is probably one of the largest ethnic communities in Canada. As a result of this celebration each year, we have an opportunity to get to know one another and, through understanding, to avoid some of the problems that have occurred in other countries and other parts of the world. I invite members to attend these festival functions in Brampton on 7, 8 and 9 July and most specifically to join us on 19 June for the Carabram reception.
The Speaker: There are just four seconds left.
The Speaker: The member might want to wait and use the full 90 seconds. That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
The Speaker: This might be an appropriate time for me to remind members that the traditions and customs of this House have been that when members are rising to speak, they should address their comments through the chair. Also, when they are referring to other members they should refer to them by their riding or ministry rather than by their surname.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Hon Mr Scott: As acting Solicitor General, I wish to inform the Legislature of the actions taken by the government today to ensure a full and comprehensive investigation into any allegations regarding Patricia Starr. As members will be aware, authority to investigate the allegations that have been made is shared by a number of independent public bodies. The public trustee, for example, has been investigating the expenditure of funds by the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto section. The Commission on Election Finances has the responsibility to investigate any breaches of the Election Finances Reform Act. The conflict-of-interest commissioner has full authority to investigate any conflicts of interest regarding members of this assembly.
The government is determined that there will be a full and comprehensive investigation with a mandate to inquire into all aspects of these allegations. Therefore, I have today asked the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct a comprehensive investigation into contributions and expenditures made by Mrs Starr in connection with her activities with the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada.
I have also appointed Peter Griffiths, the crown attorney in Etobicoke, to serve as special crown prosecutor in the matter. Mr Griffiths will act as a legal adviser on an ongoing basis to the police investigators.
The Ontario Provincial Police and the special prosecutor will have full authority to determine whether there have been breaches of the criminal law or any other provincial statute. The police investigators will co-ordinate with the public trustee, the Commission on Election Finances and the conflict-of-interest commissioner, as well as with federal authorities, in determining the scope of their investigation.
Once the police investigators have completed their work, they will determine if there is any basis for the laying of criminal or other charges. In addition, the investigators will provide a full report of all the facts of the matter to the public trustee, the Commission on Election Finances and the conflict-of-interest commissioner.
These three public bodies exercise independent authority conferred under statute passed by this assembly. The election finances commission, chaired by a former member of this Legislature, Donald MacDonald, has responsibility to ensure compliance with provincial electoral laws by political parties, constituency associations, candidates and leadership contestants.
The conflict-of-interest commissioner, Chief Justice Gregory Evans, is responsible for ensuring that all members of the assembly comply with the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, 1988. These public authorities will determine whether any charges or other proceedings should be initiated regarding any aspect of this matter. In accordance with their responsibility as officers of the assembly, the election finances commission and the conflict-of-interest commissioner will make a full accounting of the facts and their findings to this Legislature. The public trustee will report his findings in accordance with his responsibilities and as permitted under the Public Trustee Act.
The government believes that nothing is more important to democratic government than the integrity of our electoral process. A critical component of this is confidence in the proper expenditure of public and charitable funds. The actions announced by the government today reflect our commitment to these principles and our determination to uphold and defend them. I have full confidence in the ability of the police as well as these other public authorities to ensure a full and comprehensive investigation of the matter.
Hon Mr Scott: Last week I had the opportunity to discuss with the Attorney General of Canada and the provincial attorneys general matters which have long been a concern of the people of Ontario. I am greatly heartened by the lengthy discussions and eventual unanimous agreement that resulted on items such as the Young Offenders Act and court reform. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly update the House on the discussions.
As members well know, over the past four years this government has asked for changes in the Young Offenders Act. At past meetings I have indicated that there should be more flexibility in the sentencing of young offenders accused of serious crimes such as murder, and that transfers to adult court in the case of serious crimes should be made easier.
Under the current legislation, the maximum sentence that a young offender can receive in youth court is three years. In some cases this may be too lenient a penalty, and provision is made for transfer of such cases to adult court.
However, our judges have been reluctant to transfer murder cases to adult court because the minimum sentence for murder in adult court is 25 years.
This government has consistently advocated that the solution to this problem is to reduce this disparity between a maximum of three and a minimum of 25 by allowing a judge a more appropriate range of penalties to impose on a young offender charged with murder.
I am pleased to report that at our meeting the provincial attorneys general unanimously agreed that the sentence for a young person convicted of murder in youth court should be a maximum of three years’ custody to be followed by a conditional release for a period of two years less a day. As I already mentioned, under the current law a young person can receive only the maximum of three years.
In addition, under the present act, if a person is tried in adult court and convicted of first degree murder, he must receive life imprisonment and is not eligible for parole for 25 years. The provincial attorneys general unanimously recommended to the Attorney General of Canada that a young person convicted of murder in adult court should be eligible for parole, fixed by the trial judge, at a period between five and 10 years inclusive.
My provincial colleagues and I also addressed the issue of transferring a young offender from youth court by requesting a change to the test used when a judge hears a transfer application. Under the Young Offenders Act the paramount consideration is the interest of the young person, whereas the provincial attorneys general urged that the paramount consideration, consideration having been given to the interest of the young person, be the protection of society.
I am pleased that the Attorney General of Canada, in his first meeting with us, listened carefully to these views and agreed to review these matters over the summer in order to introduce legislative amendments in the fall.
Another area that greatly concerns Ontario is the manner in which cost-sharing programs are developed for federal legislation such as the Young Offenders Act and Bill C-89, the recent federal victims-of-crime statute. These programs impose a financial burden on the provinces as a result of their responsibility under the Constitution for the administration of justice. The Attorney General of Canada, after some straight talk, now recognizes this fact and has agreed to consult with the provinces and provide a cost analysis of any future criminal justice amendment to be introduced in the federal Parliament.
Aside from the Young Offenders Act and cost-sharing concerns, I shared with my provincial and federal colleagues Ontario’s plan for reforming its trial court system. I am pleased to report that there was considerable interest in this initiative with respect to phase 1, which is incorporated into Bill 2 currently before the House. The Attorney General of Canada assured me that phase 1 will receive the federal government’s attention at the earliest opportunity.
With respect to phase 2 and the establishment of a single criminal trial and family division, a number of other provinces, together with the Attorney General of Canada, expressed an interest in examining the proposal, and I look forward to further discussions with them in the near future.
These are only the highlights of a three-day meeting which addressed other items, such as the Divorce Act and aboriginal criminal justice. I believe that the federal government, the provinces and the two territories found the meeting productive and we all hope to soon see concrete evidence of our work.
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Mr B. Rae: I obviously regard the statement by the acting Solicitor General (Mr Scott) with respect to the investigation into allegations concerning Patricia Starr as long overdue. Last week, the Premier (Mr Peterson) was quoted in the Globe and Mail on 7 June as saying about the allegations, “Frankly, some aren’t correct but perhaps some are.” Of all the dumb comments that have been made by the Premier of this province, that is perhaps the dumbest that I have heard.
It is long overdue that this series of allegations, which are enormously important in terms of public trust -- of all the responsibilities one has in society, the trustees of a trust, those who are put in a position of trust, and I include public officials in this regard, are among the most important. If there has been any diversion of charitable funds, or potentially charitable funds, into partisan political purposes and into the work of political lobbying, that is obviously something which is worthy of investigation and something which simply has to be rooted out and thoroughly investigated by public authorities.
I think the public has seen over the last number of days a sense that not only has this government lost its way but also has literally been buffeted and tossed in this storm of political controversy, one which I would regard is at the heart of the problems facing the Liberal Party at this time. Obviously, I will have some questions of the Premier -- I hope he will be here today – with regard to comments that he has made and investigations which he apparently has commenced out of his own office into certain allegations regarding the conduct of certain offices. Since he has launched those, I will be asking questions about them, but I can only say that this comprehensive investigation into the allegations which have now been a matter of public record for several weeks is long overdue.
Mr B. Rae: I might add a brief comment on the statement made by the Attorney General (Mr Scott).
Just to comment parenthetically, since he received his new appointment while I was away last week, I can well recall comments made by Liberals in opposition as to the utter inappropriateness of Roy McMurtry occupying both the offices of Solicitor General and Attorney General. I heard such distinguished members of the bar as Mr Breithaupt and Mr Singer complaining about the administration of justice, saying that one could not have the person responsible for the administration of the police and the person responsible for the administration of justice in the same person. But now the transformation is complete and the Liberals have done precisely the same thing.
On a preliminary basis -- and we have only a preliminary report from the Attorney General -- I think we all recognize that, with regard to allegations of murder against young offenders, the Young Offenders Act has got to be revised, and I think the consensus that has been developed is one that we will all want to work on and work with.
In listening to the Attorney General when he says, “The Attorney General of Canada assured me that phase 1 will receive the federal government’s attention at the earliest opportunity.” that sounds an awful lot like a kiss-off to me. That sounds like something the Attorney General would say to us when we ask him to do certain things.
When he says that “We all hope to soon see concrete evidence of our work,” I can only say that we all look forward to seeing some achievements, some laws changed and court reform actually happening, something that we can point to in the Divorce Act, aboriginal criminal justice, something that we can point to in terms of real achievements for people, because I would say that there have been precious few coming from this government for which the people of Ontario had such high hopes just a short four years ago.
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Mr Brandt: I want to respond to the comment of the acting Solicitor General (Mr Scott) in connection with the Patricia Starr matter, which is obviously becoming an increasingly awkward situation for the government to handle. His statement today does not come as a surprise because it follows, in fact, the way in which his government has dealt with this type of issue since the very time that it took office: namely, to run behind an Ontario Provincial Police investigation in connection with matters of this type, which are highly charged politically, and to keep those reports in a separate OPP area for a long period of time before they ever come to light in terms of the information.
I would say to the acting Solicitor General that there is another route that he could have followed, not only this time but in times past, and that is for an all-party committee of this Legislature to look at these allegations, along with the election finances commissioner, to determine whether there were any improprieties committed by the individual in question.
What concerns us is that for some number of weeks now this government has been very much aware of the allegations as they relate to the improprieties of this particular appointee of his government and has taken absolutely no action. In fact, it is a very surprising fact that the Premier (Mr Peterson) attempted to talk Mrs Starr out of resigning from her position as chairman of Ontario Place.
It is a strange, strange set of circumstances when a deputy minister of this government, under allegations of improper educational standards on his particular curriculum vitae, was asked the next day to resign from his position. It took 24 hours in the case of a deputy minister, but in the case of an overt and very direct political appointment, now a number of weeks have passed and we are going to pass this thing over to the OPP. It is too little too late, and it is not the right route to go.
Mr Runciman: Also in response to the acting Solicitor General’s statement, I think we on this side, at least in this party, have mixed feelings in respect to the announcement.
I guess one has to be suspicious that this is perhaps nothing more than damage control on the part of the government and an effort to hide behind a police investigation. Those concerns have to be there, based on the response the government had in respect to the concerns about the acting Solicitor General’s predecessor and, in effect, the stonewalling that occurred, the effort to hide behind a police investigation that we were told was secret and could not be made public knowledge.
There is also a comment, on page 3 of the acting Solicitor General’s statement, in respect to the investigators providing a full report of facts to the other bodies engaged in separate investigations: the public trustee, the election expenses commissioner and the conflict-of-interest commissioner.
This continues to raise concerns, if indeed those three agencies or commissions are going to be somewhat restrained from making any final resolution in respect to the activities of Ms Starr, in respect to her responsibilities as chairman of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada.
Another aspect of Ms Starr’s activities that we have expressed concern about is her tenure as chairman of Ontario Place. My party has raised a number of serious issues and serious questions, to which we have not received adequate answers up to this point in time.
When one looks at the allegations made in respect to Ms Starr’s responsibilities with the Council of Jewish Women, I think that adds more validity to the concerns that we have been bringing forward in terms of her tenure, some of the very questionable activities that took place during her time as chairman of Ontario Place.
This really boils down, in our view, to a question of the Premier’s conduct. My leader raised the question of his urging Ms Starr to stay on despite allegations; of his urging of the member for London South (Mrs E. J. Smith) to stay on; of the Premier’s standards and the Premier’s judgement.
A great many questions remain, and I want to assure the House that they will be asked. We are not going to be stonewalled by this effort and this announcement by the acting Solicitor General today. We are going to continue to forge ahead. Simply announcing a police investigation is not going to allow the government to avoid dealing with this issue in the House.
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Mr B. Rae: I have some questions for the Premier. Last week, the question of Mrs Starr’s involvement in fund-giving to various members of his cabinet and various members of his caucus was raised in this House.
Outside this House, the Premier said -- and l am quoting words which he apparently gave, which were quoted by the Globe and Mail on 7 June, the middle of last week -- “Frankly, some aren’t correct but perhaps some are.” I was intrigued as I read those remarks, wondering what would lead the Premier of the province, who has consistently said he does not know anything about them, to state so categorically that some of the allegations that have been made, to his knowledge, are not correct.
I wonder if the Premier can perhaps explain what he meant when he said that some are not correct. Which of the allegations that have been made with regard to Mrs Starr are not correct and upon what basis would the Premier have made that statement to the Globe and Mail?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have read about a number of allegations and, to the extent that it is possible, one tries to determine the truth or lack thereof of some of these allegations. There was an allegation about who was a fund-raiser for the party, people I had never heard of before. So those kind of things, to the best of my knowledge, were untrue.
That being said, the whole object of the police investigation is to get to all of the facts. It is my view that all of the facts must be investigated and if there is anything improper, it must be dealt with. That is why we want this comprehensive investigation into all of the facts.
As my honourable friend knows, there are rumours daily in this business about a lot of things, but every single rumour or allegation that is made will be tracked down and we will determine the veracity thereof and deal with it.
Mr B. Rae: I am intrigued again by the first part of the Premier’s answer, where he attempted to answer my question. If I can give him one example of one specific allegation, I wonder if he can outline for the House precisely when he first heard of the allegation with regard to an excessive contribution to the riding association of which his Minister of Culture and Communications, the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms Oddie Munro) is a member.
When did he first hear of that allegation and what steps did he take to investigate that allegation? In particular, has he had any conversations with the member for Hamilton Centre about those particular allegations?
Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot be precise, but I think it was around February that the party was checking the receipts. Someone in my office was told that there may have been some problem with the receipting. That was turned over to the Commission on Election Finances. I am told the police were called in after that. Whether in fact there was some other account or bank account -- the police have been investigating that ever since.
Mr B. Rae: The report in the newspaper today about the Ontario Provincial Police investigation into the contribution to Hamilton Centre states that Mr McCauley, who is the executive assistant to the executive director, Mr Ashworth -- it is my understanding that that is how he is listed in the government’s directory -- was instrumental in helping to find the missing cheques which apparently had disappeared into thin air. Miraculously, when he got on the case he was able to gumshoe those cheques down.
I want to ask the Premier if he would be prepared to table any reports he has received from Mr McCauley with respect to those missing cheques.
Hon Mr Peterson: I am not aware of any reports from Mr McCauley in that regard. As I understand, it was turned over to the election expenses commission, but obviously, all of that will be turned over to the OPP and if there is anything improper it will be dealt with, and very severely.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr B. Rae: The acting Solicitor General (Mr Scott) said in his statement today, “This government believes that nothing is more important to democratic government than the integrity of our electoral process.” I am sure those are words which all of us would heartily endorse.
With that in mind, I ask the Premier when he saw the allegation -- I am assuming he saw it, since I know he reads the papers -- that the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro), when asked by Ms Starr whether she knew of anyone who would be interested in mailing out a survey, offered the services of her own mother for a sum of some $5,000, did the Premier condone that action by the Minister of Culture and Communications?
In particular, since the government apparently thinks that nothing is more important than the integrity of our electoral process, has he discussed this matter at any time with the Minister of Culture and Communications and told her precisely what he, the Premier of the province. feels about the integrity of our process and whether he thinks this is something that reflects the integrity and standards of his government?
Hon Mr Peterson: Yes, indeed, I discussed that late last week with the minister when I became aware of it and I understand this matter has been turned over to the conflict-of-interest commissioner.
Mr B. Rae: Since the Premier has told us he discussed it with ihe minister, I wonder if he can tell us what he said, what her response to him was and what he now intends to do with regard to her future presence in his cabinet?
Hon Mr Peterson: It is exactly as I have said to my honourable friend: It has been turned over to the conflict-of-interest commissioner who will determine all the facts and report back.
Mr B. Rae: Here we go again. The Premier is saying: “You have to be a crook. In order to break my standards, you have to have broken a law.”
I specifically want to ask the Premier, regardless of what the conflict-of-interest law says, as the Premier of this province, to tell us what his personal standards with regard to members of his cabinet are.
How does he feel about members of his cabinet, on being asked by a charitable organization to recommend someone who can mail a survey, saying: “Well, what do you know. My mother would be more than pleased to do that for a mere $5,000”? Is that David Peterson’s personal moral standard when it comes to the conduct of members of his cabinet? Yes or no?
The Speaker: Order. Just before I recognize the Premier, I again say that we try to recognize and ask questions not using the member’s surname.
Hon Mr Peterson: I have turned it over to the conflict commissioner, as I said. I will determine all the facts and I will make the judgements based on the facts, not on allegations.
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Mr Brandt: I want to address a question to the Premier on the same matter. The Premier was aware of certain allegations in regard to these campaign contributions, in particular back in February, and members of his staff were also aware that the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro) had, it had been alleged, received certain contributions from what we understand is a charitable fund.
In the last 10 days, the Premier has learned of other improper donations that were made by Ms Starr to other members of his government and still the only response we get from the Premier is that he has turned this over to a quasi-independent body to investigate the matter, without the Premier himself taking any action whatever with respect to the conduct of these individuals. Dues the Premier not feel an obligation to make a decision on these matters in regard to these particular very strong specific allegations?
Hon Mr Peterson: What has happened I take very, very seriously. I am aware of a number of allegations, some substantiated, some not substantiated. That being said, it is our responsibility to determine the facts pertaining to every single allegation.
There are rumours in the papers, as my honourable friend knows, of improper donations to our party and to his party, municipally, federally and a lot of other areas. I think it is incumbent upon me to determine the facts. Those facts should be there for all to see, and I will make the judgements on the basis of the facts. I think that is exactly what we are doing at the present time.
Mr Brandt: The Premier again says some of the allegations are in fact correct and some of them are incorrect. We have been attempting in this House to ascertain which of those allegations are incorrect so that accepting him at his word, we can dispose of those and deal with those that are correct. I ask the Premier again, in light of the fact that the member for St Andrew-St Patrick (Mr Kanter) as well as the Minister of Culture and Communications is alleged to have received campaign donations, does the Premier not feel some obligation in recognizing his position in order to restore public confidence in what is a difficult matter?
I fully appreciate the fact that there are times when on occasion these kinds of contributions may not in all instances be known to the particular member in question, but once having been brought to light, they should be investigated. Has the Premier had an opportunity to investigate these allegations and determine himself directly whether they are true or untrue and which ones are on which side of the ledger?
Hon Mr Peterson: Frankly, I am not in a position on my own to determine whether these allegations are true or not true. I am aware of a number, as my honourable friend knows. To the best of my knowledge, I know some allegations written in the newspaper are not correct, but I cannot deny that some may very well be. Our obligation is to look at all the facts and that is why the police have been brought in, as an independent, impartial group to look at all the facts surrounding these matters.
As the member knows, the public trustee is looking at the matters pertaining to the trustee and the integrity of the fund, as are a number of other groups such as the Commission on Election Finances, which is an independent group chaired by Donald MacDonald, a former member of this House. He will look at it from his responsibility and give us the benefit of his judgements. He will do that without fear or favour, I am sure.
Mr Brandt: In the very first paragraph of the very first annual report produced by Ontario Place following the appointment of Ms Starr to that position, she made some very distasteful, partisan comments in connection with the election of the Premier’s government. Further to that, we have Ms Starr now being alleged to have made contributions from what is very obviously a charitable fund to a number of cabinet ministers and members of his government. Why would the Premier not, on the basis of the performance of this particular individual, demand that person’s resignation, frankly some weeks ago, let alone today?
Hon Mr Peterson: She has resigned from the post and contrary to popular opinion, nobody asked her to stay on. The member should not ask me to justify this one.
Mr Brandt: Well, perhaps at another time, in another forum, the Premier may want to clarify what he just said about popular opinion.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr Brandt: I would like to address my question, if I might, to the Minister of Culture and Communications. It has been alleged through media reports, particularly those in the Globe and Mail, that she did in fact receive, in excess of the maximum allowable under the law, funds for contribution purposes from Ms Starr and from the charitable fund we have been talking about. It has also been alleged the Premier’s office has known about this matter since February. Could she give us the background and the details with respect to these contributions to her campaign fund?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: In February, I received an inquiry from a reporter from the Globe and Mail asking whether I knew or had any information about two cheques that were reported to have been donated to the Hamilton Centre riding association. I told her I would turn the matter over to my president, which I did. He subsequently informed the Ontario Liberal Party. Also, subsequent to that the whole matter was turned over the Commission on Election Finances.
Mr Brandt: The minister’s campaign received a contribution of some $350 in 1988, I believe it was. Forgive me if the date is wrong, but the amount of $350 was contributed to her campaign. It then followed that instead of one charitable contribution receipt for $350, there were 10 receipts issued in the amount of $35 each. Is she aware of that, and if so, what action did she take upon finding out about it?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: Any inquiries I have received reporting irregularities I have turned over to the riding association. They have investigated and any such matter has been turned over to the election finances commission.
Mr Brandt: It is not very enlightening, but perhaps we could pursue the matter of the additional $5,000 for the work that was carried out by a member of the minister’s family in connection with some mailing.
Could the minister perhaps advise this House of the conversation that ensued between her and Ms Starr relative to the availability of the minister’s mother to mail out some material, a survey I believe, for the stipend of some $5,000? Was she a party to that? Did she recommend her mother and was there someone else who perhaps might have been available for that job? Did she make any other suggestions in regard to who might have been available and who might have needed that particular work at that time?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I simply responded to an inquiry from Ms Starr whether I knew someone who would be able to do that kind of work. I responded that I knew of several people, one of whom was my mother and I simply left it at that.
Mr B. Rae: I was listening carefully to the minister’s answer. I would like to ask her to follow on from that. She admits she gave her mother’s name, among those of a number of other candidates, to Ms Starr. Can she tell us precisely when she realized that Ms Starr had in fact awarded the contract to her mother and how she felt about that?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I was aware the contract had been awarded when I read of the story in the newspaper.
Mr B. Rae: Perhaps the minister could tell us how she felt at that point about the fact the contract had been awarded and how she felt about the fact that if it had not been for the minister’s own intervention, Ms Starr would never have known of the interest the minister’s mother had in receiving such a contract.
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: All of us take very seriously any allegations of ill conduct, wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour. I have referred the matter to the conflict-of-interest commissioner. As I said to the House on Thursday, I am not aware of any conflict.
Mr Runciman: I would like to direct my question to the Premier. It deals with the activities of Ms Starr during her tenure as chairman of Ontario Place. The Premier may be aware that a number of questions were raised with respect to her activities during the last year with respect to the awarding of contracts, etc. without going to tender.
I wonder if the Premier would indicate to the House today whether he is prepared to accept the recommendation from my party that the Provincial Auditor take a look at the Ontario Place operations during Ms Starr’s tenure as chairman.
Hon Mr Peterson: Absolutely. I think it is a very good idea. I think there should be a thorough analysis of all aspects of Ontario Place, of all contracts awarded under whatever circumstances and it should be discussed by the committee
Mr Runciman: That is a very positive response. I am pleased to hear it.
I hope the Premier will also confirm that we talked about a number of things occurring during her tenure. One was the closed-door meeting about the future of Ontario Place. Certainly we raised the question of who was in attendance during that meeting, the fact that a number of tenders were called or were not called and contracts issued for the operations of restaurants during Ms Starr’s phase that indeed did not follow the normal course of dealing with this sort of thing. Of course, questions have also been raised about the spouse of the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) as well with respect to the issuance of contracts to that individual.
I hope, as he indicated in his answer, that the Premier can also assure us with regard to the issues that I have raised there will be no limitations placed upon the scope of the investigation by the Provincial Auditor.
Hon Mr Peterson: None.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The minister might recall that on a number of occasions I have brought to his attention the difficult situation in the registry office in Barrie which looks after the county of Simcoe.
In the past five years, the volume at that registry office has almost doubled because of the growth in that county. The building in which it is housed has other offices, but that particular space itself at the registry office is still the same, which means it is being stretched beyond the limit for the people who work there, both the staff of the registry office and those who have to go in to be served by it.
I appreciate, because of the suggestions made to the minister, that he has endeavoured to do certain things with the staff and improved certain equipment. However --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Owen: -- the situation is still not good. The lineups are still there. My question to the minister is, what is being done to help alleviate that situation?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member is correct. He has raised this matter with me privately on a number of occasions and I believe publicly in this House before. We have had a number of meetings with a number of the service providers in the area. I believe the honourable member and his staff have been involved in a couple of those meetings.
There is no doubt we face the challenge of growth in the Barrie area and in the Simcoe area generally. This office is now the sixth largest in terms of volume of our 65 land registry offices in Ontario. That is a great deal of growth in just a few years.
We have instituted a number of reforms such as a new telephone system and a whole series of high technology improvements, including a number of pilot projects and all of those have begun to turn around the delay levels and the backlog, which had grown quite large.
Finally, the member is correct. While we have had this growth in the volume of work, we have had no growth in the office and are actively seeking additional office space for the land registry office in Barrie.
Mr Owen: I appreciate what the minister has been doing in this situation. Be that as it may, we still have situations where if a title searcher wants to use the day book, he has to get in line for a procedure that normally would take a few minutes and now sometimes takes hours. The same thing applies for registering documents. There are huge lineups. The work is not getting done properly or efficiently. The lawyers and title searchers are worried that errors are going to be made, sometimes costly errors. I appreciate what is being done but the lineups are still there.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Owen: I am asking the minister, can more be done or what is he proposing be done by way of more?
Hon Mr Wrye: I want to agree with the honourable member that there is still some way to go before we can see the kind of improvements that will get things in the Barrie office back to normal. It has been a very difficult challenge in one of the areas of highest growth in Ontario.
I can say that one change is taking place the honourable member would want to be aware of, and that is that we are in the process of adding a total of 10 new permanent positions to that office. By way of giving the member an idea of the impact of that, it means the number of permanent positions will go up almost 50 per cent, from 23 as it was before the hiring began to a total of 33.
We have additionally had a number of contract staff in on short-term contracts and we are attempting to make some improvements there. Those, along with the technological improvements and a number of other efforts that are now under way, I hope will begin to address the challenge. In any event, we have had meetings with the client group in the area. The latest was in early May. We have taken a number of their suggestions away and will attempt to respond to them.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Premier again some questions about the conduct, in this instance, of the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro). That minister has admitted in this House today, in response to questions, that she gave Ms Starr the name of her own mother as the potential recipient of a $5,000 contract. On Thursday, the minister said in response to questions from my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) that she was not aware of any conflict in the situation and she repeated that comment twice.
Regardless of what Mr Justice Evans says about any technical breaches of the conflict-of-interest legislation, I want to ask the Premier this specific question: Instead of parking his conscience with Mr Justice Evans, why is he incapable of answering a simple question? Does he think it is appropriate for any members of his cabinet to be referring their parents, brothers or their sisters to organizations with which they have a relationship in terms of funding? Does the Premier think that is appropriate or right --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: -- regardless of whether it is in breach of the conflict legislation?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am in the process of determining all the facts. I will get advice from the conflict commissioner and then I will make a judgement on it.
Mr B. Rae: The facts are known. The minister today has stated publicly in this House what those facts are. She has stated the response to a question from Ms Starr, “Do you know anybody who does this kind of work?” The member has just told us what she said. She said, “Yes, I do.”
She gave a number of names including the name of her own mother.
I am asking the Premier of this province to answer a very simple question about his moral standards, not the legal standards of Mr Justice Evans but the moral standards of the Premier. Does he regard it as appropriate, on the basis of the information revealed today in this House by his own minister, that she should stay in the cabinet? Is that the Premier’s standard of conduct?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have answered the question of my honourable friend as best I can.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Nipissing.
Hon Mr Scott: The third leadership candidate is up.
Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Thanks very much to the Attorney General, the acting Solicitor General et al.
HIRING OF RESEARCH OFFICER
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Housing about the hiring of another ministry official with direct ties to the Liberal Party. I am referring to David Michener, former political assistant to the Minister of Culture and Communications, who describes himself as a “very dear friend” of Patricia Starr.
I understand this person was put on a public payroll with a 12-month contract after the last election. Would the minister tell us who approved the contract, when she first knew about the hiring and how much he was paid?
Hon Ms Hošek: I first learned that Mr Michener worked for the Ministry of Housing when I read about it in the paper this morning. I asked my staff to give me the information of the sort the member has asked about. This is what I have found out: Mr Michener was a research officer in the building branch of my ministry from 8 February 1988 to 31 March 1989, which was about 13 months. His annual salary was in the range of $40,400 to $49,400, which is the range for such a position.
Mr Harris: It is my understanding that Mr Michener was in fact hired as an unclassified public servant. According to the Management Board of Cabinet directives, “Unclassified service refers to those positions to which people are appointed by a minister.” I am assuming that is the Minister of Housing.
Unlike Dino Chiesa, whose contract award violated Management Board directives, this well-known Liberal consultant was appointed under the directives by the authority of the minister. In doing so, I would suggest, the minister completely bypassed Management Board rules that stipulate that former officials cannot be given contracts within a year of leaving government positions.
I would like to ask the minister how she can say she did not know about the appointment when the directive says these types of appointments -- unclassified -- are made by the ministers themselves. Why would the minister, or somebody on her behalf if she did not know about it, make an appointment that clearly violates the spirit of Management Board directives?
Hon Ms Hošek: Let me repeat, I heard about this in the paper this morning. I was told he was hired by the building branch. He was hired as a research officer by the building branch on a short-term contract on referral from the Human Resources Secretariat. That is what I know about it from having asked my staff to tell me the facts.
SEMINARS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
Mr Faubert: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. I commend the minister on her initiative to hold regional seminars for senior citizens throughout the province. Indeed, these seminars offered seniors an opportunity to meet one another in a participative environment. They were informative, educational and enjoyable to many seniors. Now that the first series of seminars is completed, could the minister advise this House of the results of this senior citizens’ initiative?
Hon Mrs Wilson: I would like to thank the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere for his question and also for the interest he has expressed in this series of regional seminars which has just been completed around the province.
Our government of course is developing a system of services and programs for seniors which will meet their needs, not just over the short term but on into the next century as the number of baby boomers age and swell the number of seniors in the province.
Who then better to ask for advice in developing that system than seniors themselves, a group of people who have a great deal of experience and wisdom to offer? They did so at those seminars. Their contribution will be particularly helpful in rationalizing our long-term care system, our single point of entry into the system, both at the community level and at the institutional level, a system which will affect many of our older people in the province today and in the years to come.
Mr Faubert: The minister will be aware that the regional seminar for Metropolitan Toronto was held at the Columbus Centre, Villa Colombo on Lawrence Avenue West. Many seniors in my riding of Scarborough-Ellesmere advised me they would have liked to have attended this seminar but were unable to do so due to the distance and existing transportation difficulties to get there.
The minister may be aware that there are well over 50 officially recognized senior clubs or associations in the city of Scarborough, and according to the 1986 census, Scarborough is home to approximately 42,700 seniors. Indeed, Scarborough has experienced the largest growth of senior citizens as a percentage of population in Metropolitan Toronto, a growth of over 145 per cent. Could the minister advise the House if she would consider holding a seminar for seniors in Scarborough in the future?
Hon Mrs Wilson: A number of communities have asked me to come and hold a seminar for seniors in their particular areas. I have had the opportunity to visit some of those seniors in the member’s particular area at the opening of their seniors’ games and also in a community forum. I would be very pleased to consider holding a seniors’ seminar in the Scarborough community in the future. I know that Scarborough seniors have a great deal to offer and can certainly provide me with advice in some of the work we have ahead of us. I will take that invitation very seriously.
Mr Reville: I think we just had the seminar right here.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr Reville: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. On two occasions last Thursday, 8 June, in response to my questions about the circumstances involving her mother and the contract with Mrs Starr, the minister said, ‘I am not aware of any conflict in this situation,” and again she said, “I am not aware of any conflict of interest in this situation.”
We have heard just now from the Premier (Mr Peterson) that in fact the matter has been referred to the conflict-of-interest commissioner. Does that mean the minister became aware of a conflict, or does she still believe there is no conflict?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I indicated last week in the House that I take very seriously any allegations of inappropriate conduct or ill behaviour. I indicated today that I had referred the matter to the conflict-of-interest commissioner. I believe that there was no conflict of interest. He will have to make the decision.
Mr Reville: Would the minister advise the House whether the referral was made following routine proceedings on Thursday or on the Friday when she spoke with the Premier?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: It is my understanding that the letter was signed and delivered before the proceedings.
INVESTIGATIONS BY PROVINCIAL AUDITOR
Mr Harris: I understand the Premier today has agreed to have the Provincial Auditor look into Patti Starr’s tenure at Ontario Place. I wonder whether he would agree, given the number of horror stories that are coming out, that it would be in order for the Provincial Auditor as well to look at Ms Starr’s activities during her tenure and appointment at the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority.
Hon Mr Peterson: I am not aware of any allegations of anything, but if my honourable friend has any allegations or something he wants to lay on the table, then obviously we should track it down.
Mr Harris: If the Premier thinks it is appropriate, I will accept it that way: The auditor ought to look into those activities as well.
I ask the Premier as well, once the auditor gets on a roll, whether the Premier thinks it would be appropriate, and I would suggest to him that I think it is, for the auditor, under the supervision of the standing committee on public accounts, to look into the violation of the Management Board of Cabinet directives in the hiring of Dino Chiesa by the Ministry of Housing and into the contract, details and circumstances surrounding the hiring.
Hon Mr Peterson: Absolutely no problem. If the Provincial Auditor wants to look at anything he wants to look at and report back to the committee, that is his responsibility. He functions independently. Then he goes back and makes judgements and discusses them with the committee. That, of course, is something that I support.
If the member has anything he wants him to look into, he should make that suggestion. If the member has any facts to deal with, then he should lay them on the table. But I say to my friend that he can stand up in this House and make any allegation he wants; I think it should be looked into and then judgements can be made on the basis of facts, not just allegations.
Mr Tatham: I wish to address the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is the minister aware of recent media reports concerning the subsidies to Canadian farmers and the possible changes to Canadian agricultural policy due to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade? Are these reports available?
Hon Mr Riddell: I believe the honourable member is referring to the recent, brief report of the C. D. Howe Institute, authored by Professor Gilson, entitled World Agricultural Changes. I have not had an opportunity to read the book, but I certainly have read the study that was provided to me by the institute.
There is no question that Professor Gilson is referring to the many changes the Canadian industry is going to be facing, both globally and domestically, but he concentrated more on those policies of government that are trade-distorting. I will say that he was very optimistic about the future of the agriculture and food industry in Canada, but he did say that Canada should very aggressively defend its policies, particularly article II in GATT, which renders support to supply management.
Mr Tatham: I know the minister refers to an optimistic outlook for Canadian farmers, but I have had a lot of calls from a lot of dairy farmers in my area. I draw the minister’s attention to the concern and uncertainty many Ontario dairy farmers face by recent federal actions and media reports on the supposed excessive subsidies to dairy farmers. I would ask the minister, what action has he or his ministry undertaken to ensure this uncertainty among our dairy producers is reduced?
Hon Mr Riddell: There is no question there was a raw nerve struck with the dairy farmers when the federal government decided to cap industrial milk prices. We do not understand why they picked on the dairy industry when the dairy industry certainly has very little to do with the trade-distorting practices that are going on both in the United States and the European Community. But we have certainly endeavoured to inform all our producers of developments within the agricultural negotiations at GATT, and I have certainly addressed my concerns to the federal government about some of the actions that it has taken.
I have also rendered a strong commitment to our supply-managed commodities and their systems, and I have indicated that support to my federal colleague and asked him to show the same kind of commitment. I also indicated to the federal minister that I was not prepared to support his efforts to have the Ontario Milk Marketing Board cap its prices.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr B. Rae: I want to come back to the Premier and I want to deal again with the question of the Premier’s own personal standards of conduct with regard to members of his cabinet. He will know that when we passed the conflict legislation, it was to deal with questions of conflict of interest that are clearly defined in the law. The question that I am asking the Premier is a different kind of question, regardless of what Mr Justice Evans finds. I am asking a question about the Premier’s standard of conduct for his own members of his cabinet.
The Minister of Culture and Communications (Mrs Oddie Munro) has admitted that she referred her own mother to Mrs Starr as the recipient of a personal contract of some $5,000. I am asking the Premier to answer this simple question, does the Premier regard that as appropriate behaviour by a member of his cabinet, and is it conduct which he approves and which he condones, yes or no?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have told my honourable friend -- and he has asked it several times and I am going to give him the same answer -- I am in the process of determining the facts. There was no government money involved here. Had it been government money, then obviously it would have been a different situation. But one of the reasons we have the conflict-of-interest commissioner is to give us advice on these matters.
The member will stand up in this House and he will have his judgement on these things and others can have theirs, but surely the reason we signed the legislation was to get the advice of someone who is presumably objective in the matter. The member wants to stand up and make his own holier-than-thou plea on this and everything else, and he is entitled to do that, but no one is to say that he is any more objective than anybody else. Surely that is why this House passed conflict-of-interest legislation, objectively done for all to see. So would it not be helpful to get the commissioner’s judgement on the matter?
Mr B. Rae: l am simply asking for the Premier to tell us what his standards are. We did not know what those standards were when the previous Solicitor General was forced to resign, and it took two weeks of public controversy for the Premier to finally accept the resignation of that minister. To this day he has not clearly stated what his own personal standards of conduct are. That is the reason why we have a problem today: because this Premier does not have the courage to tell us exactly what his standards are and to enforce those standards when they appear to be breached.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Premier this question: Does he condone members of his own cabinet, in discussions with charitable organizations, referring members of their own families as candidates for receiving money from those charities for the performance of individual services? Is that something which the Premier condones and approves, yes or no?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have the same answer for my honourable friend with the same question.
Mr Brandt: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. The minister has been advised that there was a $350 contribution to her campaign, which was in contravention of the Election Finances Act. She is also aware, I believe, at this point that there were 10 receipts issued in the amount of $35 each in an attempt to get around the act.
Would the minister indicate to this House whether she was aware of those 10 receipts being issued, ostensibly by her chief financial officer, and upon being made aware of those receipts being inappropriately issued, what did she do about it?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: When I was asked by the reporter from the Globe and Mail whether there were some irregularities as far as responding to donations or purchasing tickets was concerned, I turned the item over to the president of my riding association, who subsequently, as I indicated here, discussed the matter with the Commission on Election Finances and also with the Ontario Liberal Party, and I understand that there is an investigation under way now. As far as I am concerned, I did the only thing that I could do, which was to ask him to look into the matter.
Mr Brandt: One thing we found out is that Ms Starr sure was a busy little lady during the course of the past few months, or few years, for that matter. Since there were in fact 10 receipts issued by her chief financial officer, with the knowledge of her president, now with the knowledge of the election finances commissioner, would the minister indicate to this House by way of information, or would she perhaps table the information with this House, the 10 names that were used in order to cover off the $350 so that she would be in compliance with the Election Finances Act? Who were those people?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I am not aware of the details of the question that the member has asked, so I cannot give him that information. I referred the item to the president, and he subsequently discussed the issue with the party and with the finances commission. I can say nothing other than that.
The Speaker: Order. New question, the member for Brampton South.
Mr Callahan: I have not even asked the question and they are applauding already.
Mr Callahan: I have a question for the Attorney General.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Callahan: Quiet; the people of Brampton want to hear this. Those guys may not want to.
The courts in Brampton, which reflect the courts of the entirety of Peel region, are significantly occupied, as the Attorney General is well aware. In fact, many of the court calendars today are going far beyond what can be heard in a single day. I understand certain steps have been suggested by his ministry to the chief judge of my riding, that they set up a particular committee, which I understand has been set up. I would ask the Attorney General first of all to verify that it has been set up, and just how effective has it been up to this point?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, in other jurisdictions across North America that face problems of backlog and delay, the only acceptable solution for those problems has been the establishment of a local committee, usually chaired by the local judge but including the local crown attorney, representatives of the defence bar, the administrator and legal aid, to devise goals, to develop strategies and to work those strategies in the form of policies to remove delay and backlog. Such projects have been established at the direction of the Chief Judge of Ontario and with my support in six busy jurisdictions, including Brampton.
The government has made plain that if such a committee is established, if goals are established by the court committee, if strategies are developed and if those strategies are worked, what resources the government has for additional services will be made available in those areas and in response to those plans.
Mr Callahan: I wonder if the Attorney General might indicate what other steps have been taken in addition to setting up the courts committee, with reference to speeding up the process and thereby bringing us closer to the day we will have additional facilities out there.
Hon Mr Scott: In Brampton, the committee has been functioning now since late October, I think. I understand that if it has not yet done so, it will shortly be filing a plan with goals and strategies illustrating how it has worked to achieve efficiencies in that community. I know the leadership of the chief judge in the county of Peel has been considerable. I have had occasion to meet not only with the local committee but also with him, to discuss its objectives. If and when that plan is received and approved, I will then try to respond to it as best I can.
I want the honourable member to know that the experience all over North America illustrates plainly that when there is an unmanaged system, the provision of new resources does not make it better. It simply provides new resources to an unmanaged system. Our focus has been to work with local people in communities to develop new ways of managing the system efficiently. That has begun to happen in Brampton in the county of Peel and elsewhere in the province. With respect to the county of Peel, I hope that very shortly we will be able to produce good results to allay the honourable member’s concern.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if I could ask the Premier precisely when he spoke to the Minister of Culture and Communications about the $5,000 contract to her mother, what she said to him and what he said to her.
Hon Mr Peterson: I have lots of private conversations, I do not mind telling my honourable friend, and even though I do not think I should be asked in this House to report on a private conversation any more than he should be, given the circumstances I will tell him. She said she mentioned to Mrs Starr some names known to her, that some time later her mother did a contract, that she did not even know about it until she read about it in the paper and that there were some stamps, envelopes and a lot of other things involved.
Mr B. Rae: I do not regard a conversation between the Premier of this province and the minister of the crown, with regard to a serious allegation about her conduct, as a private conversation. If that is his definition of a private conversation, he has a curious understanding of his responsibilities as Premier of this province.
I would like to ask the Premier, when did this conversation take place? Did the minister admit she referred her mother to Mrs Starr? Upon hearing that information, what was the Premier’s comment to the minister?
Hon Mr Peterson: It was exactly as I said to my honourable friend. This was last week and I think it was Wednesday or Thursday. It would have been Wednesday because I was away Thursday and Friday. It was exactly as I said to my honourable friend. I was trying to determine the facts.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Housing. Does she believe in the independence of the quasi-judicial body known as the Ontario Municipal Board?
Hon Ms Hošek: Of course.
Mrs Marland: I am very encouraged to hear that she does. I understand that at the Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp annual general meeting in Peel on Friday she in fact said she would commit her staff to making every effort to assist in supporting a private developer, and that she hoped that he would win. Does the minister think that is an appropriate use of her staff?
Hon Ms Hošek: I am delighted to be able to answer this question and I thank the member for the opportunity. There is in my ministry a group called the housing advocacy task force. We have intervened in a number of cases to bring information to the Ontario Municipal Board in situations where we believe it will advance the cause of affordable housing.
In the case the member for Mississauga South has mentioned, it was a proposal put together by the Toronto Real Estate Board and a private developer for building market housing, ownership housing, at a reasonable cost. Much to my chagrin, the member opposite who has just asked this question was prominent in trying to stop the construction of this housing.
This, of course, was at the same time as the front bench of her party and the critic for Housing stood up and said many times in this House that they wanted to see evidence of the work of this ministry to make sure that ownership housing through the private sector would be available to people at a reasonable price.
I and this government have committed ourselves to that and have done an enormous amount of work to make opportunities possible. I must admit I was more than a little perturbed to discover that the message from the front benches had not reached any of the further benches and that the member opposite from Mississauga South was clearly not interested in working in her community to give people the housing choices and the housing options I think almost everybody in this House supports.
HEALTH CARE FINANCING
Mr Neumann: My question is for the Treasurer. On Saturday, I was on the local radio in Brantford for an hour and a half answering questions about health care and the future of health care in our province. One caller phoned in to ask about the relationship between the financing of health care and the progressivity of our taxation system and questioned the increase in the sales tax.
I answered by saying that we did provide progressivity in the sales tax and that there were attempts by the Treasurer to take some measures that were thwarted by the federal government in regard to making our tax system more progressive. Could the Treasurer update us on that in an attempt to answer this question in more detail.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Actually, I had the opportunity to hear the honourable member on the program and he did very, very well indeed without any additional information from me. I happened to be driving to the other end of the great constituency of Brant-Haldimand to attend the Mudcat Festival. I should have invited everybody to be there. It was an excellent festival, which maybe, even as we speak, is going on even further.
When it comes to progressivity, the honourable member and I are in strong agreement as to the usefulness and value of progressivity. The honourable member is probably aware that the Ontario tax reduction program, with which we have led federal policies substantially during the last four budgets, has reduced taxes for people at the low end of the income spectrum.
Mr Villeneuve: What about the farmers, Bob?
Hon R. F. Nixon: At the other end, of course, in an area where the honourable member who is interjecting would be most hurt, incomes over $80,000 pay an additional 10 per cent in personal income tax that is collected by the Minister of Revenue (Mr Grandmaître), which gives progressivity at both ends of the scale.
The honourable member would also be aware, of course, that most of the money is earned by those of us in the large, middle-income areas and that really accounts for most of the $38 billion we expect to take in.
Mr Neumann: Specifically in financing health care, would the Treasurer elaborate on whether he feels the recent abolition of premiums for the Ontario health insurance plan is a move towards greater progressivity in our taxation system?
Hon R. F. Nixon: One of the things in the budget that should have been pursued more carefully by the honourable members -- on all sides perhaps, but particularly in the opposition -- was the fact that the abolition of OHIP premiums returned $1 billion to the pockets of the taxpayers in the province.
This is something that has escaped the notice of most taxpayers, that in fact all individuals in the province were better off after the budget than they were before, even with the tax increases that were announced. This of course is a matter that is clearly explained in the budget papers the honourable members may get around to reading some time.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr Reville: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. The minister has repeatedly stated to the House that she saw no conflict in referring a contract to her mother. I think the question has to be asked again because this is not the first time, with a minister of this government, that we have had difficulty in seeing through the opacity of the standards. Does the minister think it is appropriate to refer contracts to her relatives? Would she do such a thing again?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I did not refer a contract. I received an inquiry from Mrs Starrs as to people who might be able to do mailing. I said I knew several people and I gave her my mother’s number. I did not refer the contract.
Mr Reville: For greater specificity, does the minister think it is appropriate to include her mother’s name on a list of possible contractors?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I indicated to the member that I saw no conflict of interest and I have placed the matter before the conflict-of-interest commissioner. If he decides it was a conflict, I will accept that recommendation.
Mr Cureatz: A question to the Minister of Energy: With the United States’ announcement of a preferential use of low-sulphur coal, would the minister advise us what steps he is taking on trying to use western low-sulphur coal? For two reasons: first, the use in our thermal plants in Ontario of course would reduce acid rain, and second, it would also assist port activity in Thunder Bay.
In conjunction with the possibility of using more western low-sulphur coal, would he advise this House when he and his cabinet colleagues are going to make a decision on the kind of new electrical plant that will be built in Ontario, its location and the date for the startup of construction, to assure Ontario residents we are going to have an adequate supply of electricity in Ontario?
Hon Mr Wong: I am very pleased to answer this question today because I am proud to be a Canadian and proud that this government’s Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) has been in the forefront of trying to exert some constructive public pressure on the different participants, including the United States, for the reduction of sulphur dioxide in terms of reducing acid rain.
As the honourable member will know, the Ontario government has a Countdown Acid Rain program designed to reduce 502 emissions by approximately one third from now until the year 2000. This government has been working with the federal government, the Alberta government. and if my memory is correct, the Saskatchewan government on the federal-provincial action committee to address exactly the question the honourable member has raised.
We are looking into ways whereby we can improve the facilities, the taxation structures and the transportation to enable Ontario and Ontario Hydro to use more low-sulphur, western Canadian coal in its mix of coal, so that we can produce energy and electricity in this province in an environmentally acceptable way that meets the environmental emissions standards of this province.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Villeneuve: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We request that the Ministry of the Attorney General withdraw Bill 149, An Act to amend the Trespass to Property Act, which we believe is unnecessary and without mandate.
“While we respect the rights of minorities and youth, whom Bill 149 alleges to protect, we oppose the way in which the proposed legislation will erode the ability of owners and occupiers to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their patrons and customers. We are further concerned about the legislation’s potential for increasing confrontation in the already difficult process of removing individuals who create disturbances on publicly used premises.”
This petition is signed by 209 constituents. I have signed it and I endorse it fully.
The Speaker: There are quite a number of private conversations. They may be necessary but they are very noisy.
Mr Laughren: I have a petition from the Affordable Housing Action Group, from thousands here in Toronto.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Given that property speculation in Ontario has contributed to driving up the cost of home ownership, to increasing the cost of building nonprofit housing, and to rent increases for tenants because speculators are rewarded under the provincial government’s rent review law, we demand that the government of Ontario impose a tax on the capital gain on nonprincipal residences and land, so that:
“100 per cent of the profit is taxed away on resales within one year;
“75 per cent of the profit is resales within two years;
“50 per cent of the profit is resales within three years;
“25 per cent of the profit is taxed away on resales within four years.”
I have affixed my signature along with thousands of other people from the Toronto area.
Mr Faubert: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
‘To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to May 31, 1982, have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“The proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
This petition is signed by some 195 residents of Ontario. I have affixed my signature thereto and I submit the petition for positive action by the government.
Ms Bryden: I am pleased to exercise my right to present a petition in the Legislature on the subject of Bill 162, a bill to amend the Worker’s Compensation Act. It is signed by 10 members from the Simcoe County Injured Workers’ Association and reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We urge the Liberal government not to proceed with Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980, chapter 539 as amended by Statutes of Ontario, 1981, chapter 30; Statutes of Ontario, 1982, chapter 61; Statutes of Ontario, 1983, chapter 45; Statutes of Ontario, 1984, chapter 38; Statutes of Ontario, 1984, chapter 58; Statutes of Ontario, 1985, chapter 3; Statutes of Ontario, 1985, chapter 17; and Statutes of Ontario, 1986, chapter 64, section 69.
“Because Bill 162 contains the most significant changes to the Ontario system of workers’ compensation contemplated for many years, and yet the Minister of Labour, as reported in the media, wants the bill passed and implemented by the end of 1988 -- in other words, without an adequate process for public consultation, debate and discussion; and
“Because Bill 162 represents an attack on injured workers and their families and all of those people who have fought over the years to achieve fairness and justice for injured workers and their families; and
“Because Bill 162 will eliminate the current lifetime pension for lifetime disability and replace it with a dual award system combining a lump sum and actual wage loss award benefits that has been rejected by injured workers, their advocacy groups, community legal workers and lawyers working on their behalf and by the trade union movement since it was first proposed for implementation in Ontario by the 1980 Weiler report and the Conservative government’s 1981 white paper; and
”Because Bill 162 virtually ignores the devastating critique and recommendations of the Majesky-Minna task force report on vocational rehabilitation, that was submitted to the Minister of Labour and suppressed by the Liberal government until April 1988; and
“Because Bill 162 gives legislative form to the unacceptable and reactionary policy of restricting access to supplement awards announced by the Workers’ Compensation Board in 1987; and
“Because Bill 162 restricts an injured worker’s right to appeal decisions within the adjudication process and elsewhere, notably the percentage ‘impairment rating’ and reinstatement; and
“Because throughout Bill 162, injured workers are made subject to increased discretionary power at the hands of Workers’ Compensation Board functionaries, and made subject to ever more intrusive, invasive and demeaning assaults on their dignity, their privacy and their right to fair and just treatment.”
I am pleased to sign this petition and I support it.
The Speaker: On other occasions I have reminded members how to present a petition. I might just say to the member, she might read standing order 31 and will not have to go into detail then.
Mr Beer: I have two petitions I would like to present. They read as follows:
‘To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
These two petitions are signed by 30 persons in each case.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario.
“Whereas Bill 162 (a) does nothing to improve lifetime pensions, especially for disease and soft tissue injuries; (b) denies injured workers the right to rehabilitation; (c) offers re-employment rights that are less than afforded by the human rights act; (d) gives too much discretionary power to the WCB to deny injured workers benefits; (e) restricts injured workers the right to appeal,
“We request this assembly to advise the Labour minister, the Honourable Gregory Sorbara, to withdraw said Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
It is signed by Brian O’Dell of Welland and nine others, and of course I have affixed my signature to it as well.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The Speaker: Mr Neumann from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 124, An Act to amend the Children’s Law Reform Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
FUNERAL DIRECTORS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Wrye moved first reading of Bill 30, An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Wrye: Last March, I announced to the House that I would be releasing unnumbered bills during the legislative recess in order to share the government’s policy decisions in the bereavement sector. The proposed legislation was released in early April and since that time, my ministry has met with many interested groups to discuss these two bills, including the second one which I will be introducing in a minute.
As a result of that consultation, some technical changes have been made to the draft bill. The first bill I have introduced is the Funeral Directors and Establishments Act. The bill focuses on enhanced consumer protection. It contains provisions of strengthened disclosure requirement, ensures a uniform availability of low-priced funeral services and supplies and requires more stringent regulation of contracts.
The proposed legislation also prohibits door-to-door and telephone solicitation of funeral services and it continues the ban on operational connections between funeral homes and cemeteries.
This bill demonstrates the government’s commitment to provide enhanced consumer protection, as well as a more equitable marketplace.
I have a second bill, a companion piece of legislation.
CEMETERIES ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Wrye moved first reading of Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Wrye: Briefly, this legislation will replace the current Cemeteries Act which is badly outdated and obviously in need of revision.
Among the many consumer protection measures included in this proposed legislation are, again, a ban on all telephone and door-to-door solicitation of all cemetery lots, services and supplies, a 30-day cooling-off period on a prepaid contract and a provision that cemeteries must repurchase preneed lots at the request of consumers.
Regulatory effectiveness in the cemetery sector will be strengthened with the licensing of all cemeteries and commercial cemetery sales persons and the appointment of a registrar to administer the act. The provisions contained in this bill were developed over time through consultation with many interested parties, including consumer and industry groups.
That input, and recent technical changes made to the draft bill, have strengthened and improved this important legislation.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Ms Bryden moved first reading of Bill 32, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Ms Bryden: My bill would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act by prohibiting the use of “no pet” clauses in leases and in landlords’ rules for residential premises. It would end the discrimination against responsible pet owners who live in apartments in this province.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION ACT, 1989
Hon Ms Hošek moved second reading of Bill 211, An Act to revise the Rental Housing Protection Act.
Hon Ms Hošek: I rise today to give second reading to the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1989. As members are aware, this legislation addresses one of the most important issues in housing today, the protection of Ontario’s rental housing stock.
Since 1986 when it became apparent that conversions, demolitions and similar activities were removing rental housing at an alarming rate, our government has protected both the stock of rental housing and the security of tenants living in those units.
With the passage of the Rental Housing Protection Act in July 1986, persons seeking to change the use of rental housing were first required to obtain approval from the local municipal council. In general, the Rental Housing Protection Act has been successful in preventing a reduction in the stock of rental housing. Conversions, demolitions and other such activities have been dramatically reduced in cities across Ontario.
However, the Rental Housing Protection Act is temporary legislation enacted for a two-year period, then extended for an additional year to allow for consultations on the future of the act.
Earlier this year, I reached the conclusion that the market conditions which prompted the government to implement the Rental Housing Protection Act had not changed to a significant degree. Accordingly, on 31 January, I introduced for first reading the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1989, which provides permanent protection for the stock of rental housing and the security of tenants in Ontario.
This new legislation is not only permanent, it also makes several important improvements to the current act which I would like to highlight for members today.
First, the new act extends protection to vacant buildings. The same protection will be provided to vacant rental buildings as is provided to buildings with tenants. As I have indicated previously, this aspect of the legislation is retroactive to 31 January 1989, ensuring that vacant buildings are not lost from the housing stock during the debates on the new act.
Furthermore, the new act restricts the practice of systematically evicting tenants in order to obtain vacant possession of a building.
Also, the act extends the time period for laying a charge under the legislation from six months to two years, and, once in court, the new act provides for fines and jail terms for anyone convicted of harassing tenants.
Under the new act, the courts also have the power to return to rental use any units that are converted without municipal approval and to re-establish tenancies in those units.
These are just some of the significant improvements which have been made to the legislation but, as I have said before, the Rental Housing Protection Act is just one part of our strategy to provide affordable housing for all Ontarians. The Rental Housing Protection Act must be assisted by an increase in the supply of housing that is affordable.
Earlier today I announced the formation of a new nonprofit housing agency to create between 200 and 500 new homes and to improve the existing buildings in the Moss Park neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. The Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority and two private nonprofit housing agencies, the Homes First Society and the Supportive Housing Coalition, will jointly develop and manage new housing in the community. This is the first time in the history of the province that such a partnership has been formed between the public housing sector and nonprofit housing agencies.
This partnership follows on the heels of our unique agreement last week with the Canadian Auto Workers in Peel-Halton to increase the supply of affordable housing. More than 200 nonprofit housing units will be built in this community during the next few years. We have previously signed housing agreements with the Toronto Catholic archdiocese, the United Church presbyteries in Metropolitan Toronto and the cities of Peterborough and Ottawa.
By joining with those groups and agencies which have resources to provide affordable housing, we greatly increase the supply of housing that people can afford to live in. Moreover, our draft policy statement, when implemented later this summer, will require municipalities to plan differently. It will facilitate the development of a broad variety and mix of housing types with at least 25 per cent of all new housing supply to be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
Finally, our government has committed significant resources to produce 30,000 affordable housing units through $3 billion in Canada pension plan funds and $300 million a year in annual subsidy costs to those communities. The Rental Housing Protection Act is a crucial element of this package of initiatives. It is permanent, it is comprehensive and I believe it is vital to tenants in Ontario and to the long-term viability of the rental housing stock in the province.
I invite all members of the House to join with me in supporting this important legislation. I am interested in hearing the views of the members opposite.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other people want to participate in the debate? Le deputé d’Oshawa.
Hon Mr Elston: Can’t they find anybody new?
Mr Breaugh: No. Unfortunately, they cannot find anybody new. The members are stuck for the entire afternoon. They could of course always ring the bells. It may be their last opportunity to do that.
I want to make some remarks about this bill and begin by saying that we do not support the bill and some will find that surprising because --
Hon Ms Hošek: Just a little, Mikey.
Mr Fleet: Shocking. We thought you would be more in favour of helping the tenants out.
Mr Breaugh: That is part of the problem. The government seems to be helping the tenants out in a number of ways; in this context, it means out on the street. That is one of my concerns with this bill.
I have no argument at all with the basic principle of trying to protect rental housing stock. I know that I and a number of colleagues in all three parties have been participants in this discussion which has gone on now over a number of years in various municipalities which recognized that the vacancy rate was abysmal in their communities and that one of the things contributing to the problem of trying to find decent rental accommodation was that the accommodation stock was being deleted at an alarming rate.
This was being done in a number of ways in a number of municipalities. Investors simply recognized that they could go into a community, buy an apartment building, usually a smaller one, convert it into condominiums and make a quick profit right away. In other communities it took different forms.
I do not think it is unfair to say that the initial legislation came about because the city of Toronto decided to take some action on its own initiative and asked for a private bill which would allow it to do so. That was a long and difficult fight. Initially, we got what might best be described in polite terms as temporary legislation which moved to deal with it in principle. What happened during the course of that time period when that legislation was in place, as it is now, is that that was seen as temporary legislation, not enforceable. The argument then was that it was kind of a moral victory won, but for practical purposes nothing could be done.
We are not going to support this bill today, and I admit it more out of frustration than anything else. There is frustration that a government which says one thing often winds up doing quite another, frustration when a government says it is committed to protecting its private rental stock and then sits by and does absolutely nothing to protect it. That has been part of the ongoing problem.
Part of the difficulty I have with the bill is a process question, that a government knew it had to rectify some legislation that was on the books but was clearly flawed. They made some wonderful speeches about it and then went off in secret to deal with the matter of formulating new laws. They then announced rather grandly in January of this year that this was the new law.
It is true that any group that wanted to make a presentation to the government could do so, but that was clearly and distinctly a private piece of business. That was not the public’s government at work. We know how the public’s government works and, frankly, I hope that from this point on it will function in a more appropriate way, that this bill will be given a reasonable amount of debate here this afternoon, that it will be referred to a committee where there will be the opportunity to have those public hearings. At that stage, I will be one of the ones who will be very interested in seeing whether or not we or others can put forward amendments to this bill which cover some of the very large loopholes that are still there.
I think I need to make this case a bit more because my frustration levels are pretty high. This is a government which in January of this year, while it was announcing this bill, decided that it could not take any action on this problem. Here is where I begin to depart from the current government. In January of this year, a 112-unit property at 660 Eglinton Avenue West was put up for sale under the guise of something called a limited partnership. A city of Toronto councillor, Kay Gardner, put forward the details to the Ministry of Housing, saying that this was clearly wrong; it was clearly morally in contravention of what the minister’s stated legislative intentions were.
The minister says that she wants to protect rental accommodation in law. She said in January that she had a new law which would do that more effectively. But in January of this year, when the specifics were brought forward to the government, it decided that it could not act, said that it did not really have the legal grounds to act. For those tenants who lived in that building, it is small comfort for the government to say, “Well, that’s not our intention, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Of course, the rub really is that when this particular building became the subject of television news stories, that changed the perspective altogether. Then, of course, the act that was not enforceable in January all of a sudden became enforceable. So I think members can see the confused message that is sent to the population at large and to those who would test our laws.
The message is pretty blunt: “You can test our laws all you want. You can bend them, you can twist them, you can turn them any way you want and it will be all right, unless there is a television news story about it. If it makes the news, then it will become something that we’ll consider prosecutions about.”
It would be one thing, I suppose, if this kind of limited partnership scheme were isolated and only happened in one place, but it is not. In subsequent press reports I have dug up, Kay Gardner provided the ministry with a number of other examples of the same kind of thing, where somebody decides that with a new set of words you can, in fact, evict those tenants and sell off the units. That is, in my view, clearly wrong.
Let me share with members some other instances where I find some difficulty with what the government is doing. I notice the minister in her opening statement today managed once again to work in a press conference she had this morning announcing some additional units, possibly at Moss Park here in Toronto. The irony, of course, is that last year John Sewell got fired for suggesting that they ought to do exactly the same thing.
Mr Fleet: He wasn’t fired.
Mr Breaugh: No, he was not fired, he just is not at that job any more.
So one guy suggests something, takes it through the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority to a point where it could actually happen, he gets fired; six months later the minister announces it as a great idea.
I read with interest her press release, and it was a very nifty press kit that came to my office at about one o’clock this afternoon. It had her statement, it had everybody else’s statements, it had a couple of nice booklets and it was hand delivered. If this government could actually prepare housing as well as it prepares statements about housing, we would have no problem at all.
That is the difficulty: Between what the minister says -- and she often says it very well -- and what the ministry actually does, there are light years; for example, this morning. I wonder what the minister would do if somebody came to her with a housing proposal that said, “We’d like to build somewhere between 200 and 500 units somewhere and we’d like your money to do that.” I would think staff at the ministry would say: “Somewhere between 200 and 500 units? Do you think we could nail it down just a little closer than that? Are you going to build 200 or are you going to build 500? Are you going to build 250 or what?” It seems to me there is that credibility problem, which is not made better by these kinds of statements.
Let me go on to a couple of other things which do bother me a bit. I know the minister is aware, because we certainly have done questions on it in this chamber and others have elsewhere, of the practice of registering units as condominiums and then putting them on the market as rental units. It is a pretty common practice. Most of the buildings I know that have been built in my community in the last few years, and I think in most communities, are built and registered as condominiums. There is a long litany of problems people have in actually getting them registered now as condominiums. I will not really go into that because that is not pertinent to the discussion this afternoon, but she knows that is common practice. She knows that is going to create some problems, because this bill does not cover that. This bill exempts that particular practice.
The reason I want to raise it this afternoon is not that I want to make a great and long theological argument about private ownership of condominiums, but I want to make some short arguments about the practical problems that are caused.
Hon Mr Elston: We will get Ed to help.
Mr Breaugh: Ed is going to give you the long theological argument, so I am not concerned about that.
When we get to the practical problems of having a building that is rented out, owned by several different owners -- and I have several of these in my riding, because in Oshawa for a while it was very trendy to build condominiums, and when Oshawa was cheek by jowl with condominium units, people discovered that maybe there was not that big a condo market in Oshawa after all, so they became rental buildings -- you ought to try to explain to somebody who lives in a building that has 100 different owners the notices they get under rent review in Ontario. You ought to try to explain to people who live in a building that has 100 different owners why there is not any maintenance program in that building. You ought to try to explain to them how it is they get a lock changed or a broken window fixed. It is some challenge.
Then when you explain to them the rent review decisions and the rent review process that applies between 100 different landlords in the same building and 100 different tenants, it really is something else, yet that is common practice and that is what is happening.
One of the things -- and I will put it on the record this afternoon because the minister will hear it again -- is that the exemption that is in this act about condos is going to come back to haunt her because of the way in which this will be done. It has already happened in Mississauga; it will happen in other communities around Ontario.
Some bright light will decide on a weekend that he wants to sell off the building that he owns that is already rented and lived in by 200 families. Somebody will put little notices underneath their doors on a Friday night that they are selling this place off this weekend. The tenants will all get the notice at the same time and find out, probably for the first time, that the building they lived in as rental accommodation is really condominiums.
They will be told on a Friday night, “We’re selling them off for $100,000, $200,000,” whatever. “If you want, make an offer this weekend and you can buy the unit you’re living in.” They cannot, and they cannot get their financing together, but there will be all kinds of people out from the city for an afternoon’s drive, looking for a little investment somewhere, and they will buy them. By Monday morning, those people will be getting notices to hit the road.
It is going to be a sad and angry thing, and this government is going to have to say: “Well, we had a chance to close that, but we chose not to. We chose to leave that loophole open.” It is going to be an absolutely untenable position. I do not know why the government did not move to close at least that loophole in the act.
Let me give members a couple of other examples of performance problems that I have. This is a government that says, for example, it is illegal to charge key money. Last year I think it charged something like six people in the whole province for that practice. I wish there were only six instances of that practice happening.
It is this government’s unwillingness -- I guess is the polite way to put it -- to challenge people who are breaking the law. In fact, in the current situation the people know that, never mind what the law says, there is nobody around to implement the law. The Landlord and Tenant Act is virtually unenforced, except for those few small areas in Ontario where there is an active tenants’ association and it tries to enforce it.
Consider the laws about key money. Even though the press releases say you cannot do that, every landlord in Ontario knows that nobody is going to catch you. There is nobody to write the ticket on this. By the time the ministry actually gets around to doing something, the practice is over with and all the participants are long gone. It is not the theory of what this government is trying to do this afternoon that bothers me; it is its track record, because it stinks, and members know it.
Those who have just parked their limousines out back disagree, but everybody else understands very thoroughly that the performance of this government in terms of housing is abysmal and the performance of this government in terms of this act is awful.
Now we will go to committee for a few days, I hope -- not extensive hearings, but enough so that those who want to be heard can appear before the committee and make their case. It seems to me that there are some obvious flaws. The hidden condominium stuff -- I guess that is the best way to put it -- is the one major problem that, in a political sense, is going to come back to haunt this government.
But I think there are some other problems in there. I do not know how legal it is to write legislation which says: “If you live in a community that has a population of more than 50,000 people, this is what the law is. This is what you can do and this is what you cannot do. But if you live in a community with fewer than 50,000, there is no law.” I do not know why the proposed legislation is written in that way. I do not know that it makes any sense to me to say: “If you live in Scarborough, on this side of the border, this is the law; if you live on the other side of Scarborough, in one of the smaller communities of less than 50,000, it does not apply.” That is the way this government has chosen to write this.
I do not know if the government has done a great deal in terms of defining how municipalities go about interpreting their role in this. In other words, I would not make the argument that there are as many loopholes in this proposed legislation as there were in the previous law. I do not think that is true. I think the government has made some moves, which I would applaud under normal circumstances, for tightening up some of the rather wishy-washy versions of the law that were currently in practice.
But the government did not go far enough and its process was, in my view, severely flawed. We will try from this point on to correct that. I hope we can, in some measure, make the arguments that are necessary and propose the amendments, either from the opposition parties or the government side, or perhaps from those who might want to come before the committee and make their views known at the time.
I do think there is a serious problem at work here. I would not argue for a moment, for example, as I have heard some argue, that simply protecting the existing rental stock is the solution. I do not think it is. I think there are a number of things that need to be done. I would even go so far as to say that I think this government knows what those things are, but this government chooses not to do them.
I think it is sad that this government chooses to write this act in this way, but I think the sadder thing is simply this: if I dealt only in political theory, I might accept that this bill is all we really need; but I do not, unfortunately. I deal in the political reality of how a government implements its stated intentions and I know that there is a world of difference between what it says it wants to do and what it actually does.
For me to accept the notion that this government, which was so unwilling to prosecute people under the previous law, is going to be born again and now will do the right stuff, would be silliness on my part.
I do not think the government will do that. To expect that this government, which has taken the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Rental Housing Protection Act and has performed in such a miserable way, is now going to turn itself around and do the right thing on this bill is unrealistic.
The biggest single complaint I have about the proposed legislation this afternoon is not the words that are strung together on these pieces of paper. It is the performance of this government. In order to change my point of view on that, this government is going to have to perform in a whole different way.
We will have the theoretical discussion, the committee when we do it clause by clause, of whether the words will actually reflect what this Legislature thinks needs to be done. I would hope that by the end of that process we would have a better bill than is before us now. I hope that the committee proceedings will be an open. public process like the one there should have been in the preparation of this bill but was not.
I would hope the government still has an open mind, so that when people come before it and present their very real problems, it will at least address them. The bill that is before us in this form, to me and to my caucus is not acceptable. I hope that as we go through the committee stage of the bill, we can do some things which will make it more amenable to us.
As one who has advocated for some time now that we do, in fact, need to protect our rental accommodation stock -- that is one of the many problems we have in Ontario at the moment -- this is a bill which purports to do that, but it is the performance of the government which leads me away from being supportive at the moment. It is the process, in fact, which the government chose to use to get to this point that bothers me no end.
I hope we can make it a better bill. I hope we can do something with this bill which will actually protect some tenants, because I think, without question, tenants are under fire all over Ontario. Sometimes we tend to think this is only a Toronto problem; that outside of the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto there are not any rental accommodation problems.
If I do one thing in concluding my remarks this afternoon, I want to try to clarify that a bit. People who are investing in rental accommodation have pretty much saturated the hot real estate market in the city of Toronto and in all of Metropolitan Toronto, and they are on the move, out into the smaller towns and villages all across Ontario.
They have a complete bag of tricks which they have probably learned here. They know how to get people out of their buildings. They know how to play with the rent review process in Ontario. They know how far they can go, even with the Landlord and Tenant Act, in terms of abusing their tenants, and they will have read Bill 211 and know how to find the loopholes in it and exploit them.
They are operating now all across Ontario, in smaller communities that once thought they were immune from this kind of stuff. The people who are under siege are really in two classifications. Tenants in Ontario are under fire and, to their immense credit, they are beginning for the first time to seriously try to organize on a provincial scale, which is one of the things that is clearly out of whack here. The tenants’ associations around Ontario have had difficulty formulating a provincial body which could come forward and represent them, for example, at these types of hearings. That has been a crying need for a long time and I applaud those who are finally trying to put that together and I wish them luck, because they will need luck and skill in order to get that to fruition.
The other group that is under fire, oddly enough -- and you will find this strange coming from me -- is the smaller landlords. Smaller landlords around Ontario, especially in rural Ontario, are just confused by this mess. People write to me from small towns like Orillia and Cobourg and they want to know when they could get an answer from the Rent Review Hearings Board. I try to explain the rent review process in Ontario to them and they find it incredible.
Little folks who own one small sixplex, who actually fix broken windows, who go in and repair things and have done so for years, are now being asked to produce records like they have never kept in their life.
The sad thing, of course, is that the larger operators, who have accountants and lawyers and advisers and consultants in architectural firms, in construction firms and all of that, know how to lay this game. You do not need to actually do the repair, you need to produce the piece of paper. They are very good at that, and it does not matter what is on the piece of paper. If it says on a piece of paper that it cost $1,000 to fix a window, the rent review process demands that you have the piece of paper. Of course, they do not demand to see the broken window or who repaired it. The poor little guy who does not produce the piece of paper but chooses rather to go and fix the tenant’s window is out a lot with rent review.
So there are some unusual allies being formed. I would hope that at some point in time the smaller landlords across Ontario would be able to be organized too, because I think they have a legitimate beef with this government, particularly about things like rent review and probably in the near future about why some sharpy can read a bill like Bill 211, the one we are debating this afternoon, and get away with murder and they cannot even get a straight answer from rent review on when they might actually have a decision on their building. In a sad way, there is a coalition of tenants and small landlords who are confused by our laws. They are confused by what they perceive to be -- and I agree with them -- a basic unfairness in the process.
This bill does not do very much to resolve that kind of a problem. It does not even do enough, in my view, to meet its basic objective: to protect rental housing accommodation in Ontario.
I think the bill itself fails its test, but most important, the government that introduced the bill certainly does fail that test. We will go to committee, we will try to work with it to see if we can produce a slightly better form of legislation that would be supportable in the near future, but at this stage this bill should not be supported by my party or anybody else who is really interested in protecting rental accommodation in Ontario.
Mr Fleet: I was quite shocked to hear some of the comments from the member for Oshawa, particularly that he does not want to support a bill that has had widespread support from a number of tenants’ groups, not the least of which is the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, which on the whole has been very supportive of this bill as it is currently proposed.
With respect to the proposal about limited partnerships, I wonder if the member has had an opportunity to review subsection 7(1) as well as the definition of co-ops in the first section of the bill. It seems to me that adequately deals with the problem of limited partnerships. I share his concern that limited partnerships ought not to be allowed to disrupt the ordinary arrangements that would exist between landlords and tenants. I understand the case he referred to is either on its way to court or is already in court.
With respect to his problems dealing with the obligations of landlords who happen to be part of a condominium corporation, I am again rather amazed that he would not simply be able to relate, at least in a broad way, the outlines of the legal obligations of those landlords. It is simply the same as any other landlord in any other kind of structure. The person who is renting out a condominium unit is going to be obligated to fulfil all the obligations that exist under the law, including the Landlord and Tenant Act.
In addition, in the case of any condominium corporation of any size that I have ever run into, they have usually retained a management corporation which is able to assist the people who reside, whether they are owners or whether they are tenants. Again, for any condominium corporation of any size that I have ever heard of, certainly in Metro Toronto, almost invariably there are some people who are tenants and there are some people who are owners. In those situations, it seems to work out quite well.
I must say that, really, what I did hear was a bit of a religious viewpoint, an attack, frankly, from the member on the rights of people to own their own homes, which is unfortunate.
Ms Poole: I too would like to take this opportunity to address the remarks of the member for Oshawa. He has made it clear that his party will not support this legislation because it does not go far enough. He has also made comment that it sounds fine in theory but it is lacking when it comes to the political realities.
I represent a riding which has some 19,000 tenant households, so I am very aware of the realities and the political realities of representing tenants and trying to get protection for them. Tenants came to me and they said: “We want some security. We want legislation that is permanent.” This legislation is permanent.
Second, they came to me and they said: “We’re being harassed. They are trying to empty the building and drive us out. We want protection against harassment.” In this legislation, that protection is there. There are penalties and there are provisions specifically related to harassment.
Third, they said: “Please make sure this legislation covers vacant buildings. It is meaningless if it does not because the landlords will continue to drive us out to empty the building.” This legislation does that.
The fourth thing they said was that the old legislation was not realistic, because by the time they were ready to lay charges the time limitation had passed. This legislation again remedies that problem.
The final coup d’etat about this legislation is that it forces the return to rental housing stock of any unit that is illegally converted. What greater deterrent can there be for a landlord to break the law than to have this in? So I think, contrary to the member’s viewpoint, that this is good legislation.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to comment?
Mr J. B. Nixon: With respect, I would like to respond in my capacity as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Housing unless there are others who wish to speak.
Mr Harris: Well, you’ve got two minutes.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I just want to take the two minutes; that is all.
Mr Breaugh: The new rules aren’t in effect yet. The members are still allowed to speak. You can sit down and wait until the debate is over.
The Deputy Speaker: In that case, would the member wish to respond if there are --
Mr J. B. Nixon: I only wish two minutes.
The Deputy Speaker: Do you wish to comment in the two minutes on that member’s statement, yes or no?
Mr J. B. Nixon: I will take one minute and thirty-three seconds of the private members’ response.
The Deputy Speaker: Take it away.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I would like to point out to the member for Oshawa that the intention is that the committee hearings on this bill will be full, open committee hearings, as they traditionally are in this Legislature. Valid points that may be made will certainly be considered, I am sure, by the minister and by the government members. Indeed, when valid points are made by other groups perhaps, the opposition members will seriously consider their validity and value.
Quite frankly, I too was encouraged by the fact that tenants are organizing on a provincial basis. The member for Oshawa should know the financial assistance for that organizing came from the Ministry of Housing of this government. We support those efforts and we encourage and laud them.
Finally, he should know that smaller landlords are organized on a collective basis and do quite an effective job in lobbying the government in terms of putting their views forward.
Mr Breaugh: I understand they’ve just hired Patti Starr. Is that right?
Mr J. B. Nixon: That would be a real surprise to me. But in any event, as the member knows, there are a number of groups that are interested in this legislation and we all look forward to full hearings and hearing those views.
The Deputy Speaker: Does somebody else want to make comments or questions on the member’s statement? If not, would the member wish to respond?
Mr Breaugh: Very quickly, we have just seen an example of what I think is the problem. When you stand up in here and say, “My tenants ask me for this and this bill does exactly this,” you are on the wrong road. No bill that anybody has ever devised solves everybody’s problems, and it is really quite wrong and politically stupid to say so. This bill is an attempt --
Ms Poole: It solves those problems.
Mr Breaugh: See, the member interjects again that this bill solves those problems. If you are so naïve as to --
The Deputy Speaker: No interjections and the member will respond through the Speaker.
Mr Breaugh: -- even entertain for a moment that any bunch of words you put on a piece of paper ever solved anybody’s problems, you really ought to go and get a lobotomy done. Bills do not do that; governments and their practices do that. That is the shortfall I am trying to raise and point out this afternoon, that you cannot solve problems by putting words on pieces of paper. The problem-solving begins the day after a bill is passed into law and you begin to practise that.
That has been the difficulty I have tried to point out to this government so far. It is not all the shortcomings that are in the laws. That is not the problem. But when someone brings a problem to the government’s attention, such as the ones I outlined here, and the government response is, “Well, we’re not sure we can get a successful prosecution, so we won’t prosecute,” then the law is of no practical use to anybody. That is the difficulty.
We have had two of the Toronto members kind of stand up and lecture us on what it is like to be a tenant in Ontario. I just want to conclude by saying that it is not the truth; it really is not. Tenants in other parts of the province face very different situations than they do in the city of Toronto or in Metropolitan Toronto. They have much less in the way of resources to turn to. They have unique sets of problems. That has been one of the difficulties, that much of the law regarding landlords and tenants in Ontario is drafted with the Toronto mentality and it simply does not fit anywhere else in the province.
Mr Harris: I want to say a few words on behalf of my party on second reading of Bill 211, An Act to revise the Rental Housing Protection Act. Let me say from the outset that we do not support this bill. I believe it is another example of the short-term, shortsighted policies the Liberals specialize in.
Bill 211 does not address the long-term problem of supply that is hurting the people of Ontario. It merely addresses or attempts to address some of the symptoms of the problem and will, I believe and my party believes, cause further depletion in the supply of rental housing. We believe it will ensure the decay of the existing rental stock. We believe this bill will hurt both landlords and tenants.
In 1986, the Premier (Mr Peterson) said the newly introduced Rental Housing Protection Act was a “short-term measure to combat the real crisis of affordable housing in Ontario and it will be replaced with a new housing policy after two years.” Another Liberal promise broken. After two years, the Minister of Housing introduced Bill 108 to extend the Rental Housing Protection Act for another year, so that at that time she could “facilitate public input into the development of a long-term policy.” Another Liberal promise broken.
After three years, they have still not developed a long-term policy for housing, so along comes Bill 211. The bill does not incorporate any of the policy alternatives outlined in her discussion paper, Future Directions. It does not address the problems of supply and it does not address the problems of deterioration of rental stock or the real crisis of affordable housing that the Premier spoke of three years ago.
After three years of consultation, analysis and discussion, the minister has merely extended old legislation by closing a vacant property loophole and providing a penalty for landlords who harass their tenants. She says, “These changes will protect those people who live in rental accommodation and will protect rental housing supply.”
We see a number of problems with the minister’s approach. First, we believe this legislation will hurt the supply of rental units by inhibiting private sector investment in the rental market. We have already seen how the Minister of Housing’s policies have discouraged private sector involvement. We have seen how the private sector has left the rental housing sector since 1985. Before the Liberals took over the government, almost 80 per cent of new rental units were built by the private sector, without a single solitary cent of taxpayers’ money. Now less than 20 per cent of the rental stock is built by the private sector.
Now the minister is proposing to include condominium units under the Rental Housing Protection Act and we anticipate that another source of housing will dry up.
We know the minister has damaged investor confidence by not honouring the sunset provision in the 1986 Rental Housing Protection Act. The minister has noted on a number of occasions the importance of forging lines of co-operation and communication with the building industry. I suggest to the minister that an important aspect of trust and co-operation is the practice of keeping her word and keeping her government’s word, not deciding in midstream that a short-term measure would become permanent legislation.
Second, there is positively no incentive to renovate and repair apartment stock. Rather than protecting rental stock, I believe this act will ensure its slow decay. The city of Toronto has estimated that $2 billion worth of repairs will be needed over the next 25 years to maintain the city’s 88,000 existing high-rise units. Low-rise units are deteriorating as well. The Ministry of Housing has created a situation where it is more advantageous for a landlord to allow a building to fall into an unsafe or unfit condition than to repair it. We believe incentives for carrying out necessary repairs and the ability to do maintenance and renovation should be encouraged, not inhibited.
The Residential Rent Regulation Act and the Landlord and Tenant Act already cover both renovations and repairs. Both acts put the onus on the landlord to prove both need and cost. We believe these acts adequately protect tenants if these acts are enforced.
When it developed the low-rise rehabilitation program, the government recognized that repair and maintenance of rental stock was needed. Now, if Bill 211 is passed, landlords who have received loans will have to obtain approval for the proposed renovations from municipal council. In essence, a program that was designed to encourage landlords to maintain rental stock is being undermined by a piece of legislation from the same minister.
The bill is also an example of the Peterson government’s Metropolitan Toronto-centred policies. Condominium conversion was a problem that was particularly prevalent in Metro. Yet all municipalities, regardless of vacancy rates, will be covered by Bill 211. The bill dumps the work and expense of administration of the bill on to the municipalities. This is yet another example of this government’s wanting to pass a bill and then dumping it all off on to the municipalities for the cost and expense of implementation.
All municipalities will have the administrative burden of approving conversion proposals, even if there are no rental housing shortages in the municipality. We know many municipalities have been able to deal expeditiously with applications for conversions by tying approval to the municipal vacancy rates. Now the ability to deal in a flexible fashion in response to the needs of the area is being taken away from the municipal government as well.
Bill 211 denies individuals the right to buy properties. We in the Conservative Party believe in home ownership. We believe home ownership is something all Ontarians should be able to aspire to. In a recent survey conducted by Elliott Research, two thirds of all Toronto tenants surveyed believe they should be allowed to buy their apartments provided those who wished to continue to rent had security of tenure. Conversion of apartments to condominiums could provide homes at prices estimated at 25 per cent less than current market prices.
The Peterson government has denied tenants of Cedar Grove, High Park and Bretton Place the opportunity to purchase their units, despite the fact they had offered security of tenure for those who wished to remain tenants. The result of what the government has done over the past three years is that the tenants of Cedar Grove, High Park and Bretton Place have less security of tenure than they would have had had their conversion proposal gone through.
The vast majority of those tenants wanted to buy the units. They were denied that opportunity of home ownership because of the sale of the whole building that took place after they were prevented from buying by the temporary legislation of this government. The government should look at what the temporary legislation did and what the net result was to see whether it should have permanent legislation.
Those who wanted to buy were denied the opportunity. As a result, the owner sold the entire building. They went through the government’s horrendous rent review proposal, and the tenants who are still there and would have been guaranteed to be there virtually for their lifetime are paying much higher rents than they would have had to pay had the conversion been allowed to proceed. The minority in this case, in those buildings, was the tenants. That minority now has less secure tenure and is paying more rent. That is the net result of this temporary piece of legislation.
Does that make sense? Does nobody look? The government had a temporary piece of legislation and it was able to go in and see what the positive and negative impacts of this legislation were. I have not heard any positive ones, but I can tell members there are a lot of negative ones. Surely these three examples of a significant number of units should have been looked at to see what happens when the government intervenes in this way. Now, if at any time in the future these units become available, it is estimated they will be double the cost they were to be made available for three years ago. As well, the repairs, the maintenance and the work that needed to be done on those buildings is not being done.
There is a concern that the removal of condominium conversion bans will cause a flood of condominium conversions. The minister has said this and the government has said this. In 1987, Quebec lifted its ban on condominium conversions and allowed conversion of rental stock. The legislation guaranteed lifetime security for those tenants who wished to remain as renters. So there is a precedent in a jurisdiction besides ours for the minister to see that condominium conversion can be established in an orderly fashion that protects tenants. That was the proposal of the Cedar Grove, High Park and Bretton Place buildings three years ago. Those tenants who did not want to buy would be given lifetime security of tenure, something they do not have now.
It is also worth noting the vacancy rate in Montreal in 1989 is four per cent, a far cry from the 0.3 per cent vacancy rate in Toronto, which is the lowest vacancy rate in Canada despite the minister’s boasts about the significant amount of housing stock she has created. Obviously, the housing stock the government has been able to afford is not nearly enough. Obviously, it does not have enough money. There is not enough money in the country for the government to build and subsidize all the housing units required.
The Conservatives know, and anyone who is trying to rent knows that the vacancy rate in almost every major centre in Ontario is effectively a zero vacancy rate. Even if someone can find a vacant apartment to rent, it is probably going to cost far more than the person can afford to pay because we have not been able to get at the supply problems. The policies the government has brought in have substantially increased the supply problems.
We believe the minister should be addressing the problems of supply, not limiting supply. We think the minister should be encouraging the maintenance of housing stock, not inhibiting it. We also think the minister should be listening to the people who are involved and affected by the pending legislation. She has taken two years to consult. The result is that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario and the Urban Development Institute of Canada say they have been ignored. The list is almost endless.
We believe the minister is taking a step which she says will protect renters and rental housing supply in a tight vacancy situation which we believe very strongly to have been exacerbated by the Peterson government policies. Now the minister is proposing legislation where, in the words of John Bassel, “Those of modest income are prevented from owning their own homes, needed repairs are prevented from being undertaken, investors are deterred from participating, new rental housing is not built, ripple effects flow out causing other housing shortages and finally, government is required to intervene even more aggressively with more and more resources, and it all makes little sense.”
I have said before in another debate to some interventionist, draconian piece of legislation the minister had brought in -- I cannot remember which one it is; they are all that way -- that this government seems to have a political philosophy that I suppose it thinks will win votes. It seems to have a philosophy that if a thing moves one must tax it, if it still moves one regulates it and if it is still moving and still working by some stretch of the imagination, one taxes and regulates it some more. When it has been brought to its knees and it stops moving, then one announces a government program. So one creates a problem, makes the problem worse and then announces from one’s white horse: “The government will help. We will come out with a program that will help.”
Instead of looking at what is causing the problem and solving it, the government is encouraging problems to continue, making them worse and costing taxpayers billions of dollars with its silly regulations and with the silly necessity for the government now to subsidize -- I suggest to the government if it carries on -- probably every house in the province and every tenant in the province. It makes little sense.
We have seen how ineffectual the ministry is in other programs. Rent review, which has cost the taxpayer S40 million a year, has resulted in over 100,000 units being backlogged, a program for which the administrative costs alone have gone up fivefold, and that is hurting both the landlords and the tenants who are involved in it.
Tenants and landlords are saying: “It doesn’t work. We need changes.” These are the two principal groups that this legislation is supposed to bring together. Both of them are saying it does not work and it is causing problems. Does that legislation that affects tenants and landlords -- they both come to the minister and say: “It is not working. It is a disaster” -- not tell her something about the legislation? But she will not listen to them either.
Now we think she is proposing a policy that will be equally ineffective, that will consume vast amounts of time and money and ultimately result in less housing stock than before she started. She has done nothing to alleviate the crisis in affordable housing. In the three years since the Rental Housing Protection Act was imposed, the vacancy rate in Metropolitan Toronto areas remains virtually zero and extremely depressed. This is destructive legislation. It will inhibit private investment in the rental market, ensure the slow decay of rental stock, increase administrative work and expense for municipalities and deny tenants the right to affordable homes.
We have heard the minister say, time and again, that her concern as Minister of Housing is to make sure that people have as many choices as possible in housing and as much diversity as possible in their choices. That is what the minister says, but under her leadership people in Ontario have fewer choices than they have ever had before in housing, and for many people the question has become, “How can I even get a roof over my head?” We believe that this bill is another nail in the coffin of home ownership, another step in drying up and destroying housing stock.
I have spoken before in this House, either during question period or through statements or in other debates that we have had. I have talked about the real problems that are there. The minister gives answers like: “We have provided protection for tenants from key money. We have provided protection from increased rents. We have provided protection from conversion of their units into condominiums.” She is proud of all of this protection that they have provided. The tenants do not think they are getting it, by the way.
But I ask, right to the very core of what the minister is doing, does she not want to sit back and ask: Why do tenants feel they need protection from landlords? Why does nobody want to be in the rental business? One of the great investment opportunities that people aspired to was to own a home, to own a small building where they could rent out a couple of units, where they could own the property. Surely in years gone by that was one of the most time-honoured and honourable professions, if you like: that of being a landlord; that desire of people to invest their money, to put it in, to go in arid work themselves, to do the repairs.
I think of many couples who have said: “This will help us to retire. Instead of buying 85 cars and 32 TVs and taking trips every year, we will take our money and we will invest it. We will build one or two or three or four units. We will work hard. That is where our money will go. That will be our retirement plan, instead of waiting for the government to look after us in retirement. That is what we will do with our money. We will not fritter our money away. We will do that.”
Now nobody wants to do that. The question, I think, that has to be asked is, why do landlords not want to be landlords? Why do ordinary residents, ordinary men and women, now think that absolutely the last thing in the world they want to do is to get into the rental business? Why do those in the rental business say: “Get me out. I don’t want to be in this any more”?
Those are the questions that should be asked. Those are the problems that should be solved. The government should solve those problems and look at the infrastructure required of serviced land, roads, transportation, parks and schools and look at all of that planning that it did not do. When new people came into the province, all the government did was grab the money. It forgot that there are services that have to be provided to the people who come in and give it all this money.
The government announced new program after new program after new program. They spent double the rate of inflation -- two and a half or three times, one year, the rate of inflation -- on all of these new things they promised, forgetting that when new people come in to give them all this money, they need a place to live. They need a school; they need sewer, water and garbage services.
The government forgot that. Now they are all in a crisis situation and now the government is lashing out. They blame the municipalities. They will not allow this; they will not do that. They blame the school boards and say: “You are not doing this. You are not doing that.” I do not understand how government members can come in here without bags over their faces and not be so embarrassed at even showing up here with the mess that they have created in this province. I really do not understand that.
I say to the minister that, instead of this piece of legislation, which will cause more problems, which will drive more people out of this business, she should ask herself, why does nobody want to be a landlord any more? Why do people want to get out of that business? Why do they not want to rent a unit in their homes?
I am sure the minister has seen the study that I think 27,000 units over the past five years have been lost out of single homes where there used to be a basement apartment or there used to be one or two apartments. People said: “No, I’m not having any more tenants in here. Everything is stacked against me.”
Not only are we not encouraging the infilling the minister talks about, encouraging people to rent out an extra unit to pay the horrific property taxes that her government’s policies are imposing on them, but it is not worth the hassle. They do not want to do it and those who are in it want out of the business.
Until they answer those questions and until they put the balance back into all the accumulation of the pieces of legislation they have, they will for ever have to draw on more and more tax dollars, to regulate more, to intervene more, to take away one person’s rights to try to provide a home for another person’s rights.
We in this party believe they are moving 100 per cent in the wrong direction. We think the proof of the pudding is that every time they come in with a new bill, a new piece of regulation and new controls, the situation gets worse. We think it gets worse. That is the proof, and yet they persist in these policies, they persist in making the problem worse. They persist in driving any private sector involvement in providing rental accommodation right out of here and they require more and more government dollars, more and more government programs and more and more tax dollars.
This is bad legislation and I and my party intend to oppose it.
Mr Philip: I always listen, particularly lately, to the remarks of the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris), because he may well be the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. Considering his talents and his likeable personality and considering the alternatives, I do not think that would be an unreasonable decision for a party of the extreme right.
In his comments on this bill, he has gone far beyond this bill. In fact, he has talked about what he believes are the effects of intervention by government on supply. He has talked about the present legislation, including the present rent review legislation, as interventionist, draconian legislation, notwithstanding the fact that his party voted for that legislation; ours did not.
My question for the member for Nipissing is this: If the present legislation, including rent review, is draconian legislation and if this interventionist legislation intervenes with the supply of housing, is it his position that rent review should be abolished?
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): Does the member for Nipissing care to respond?
Mr Harris: Yes, I am pleased to respond briefly to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) and say this. First of all, the member indicated that my party supported the existing rent review legislation back in 1985 and he is quite right, my party did, which allowed his party to vote against it, if members will recall the circumstances of that minority Parliament.
Let me also say this. At that particular time we supported the legislation on the basis of tenants who came to us and said, “We think this might work,” and landlords who came to us and said, “We think it might work,” and, quite frankly, we were wrong. From the point of view of my own personal vote at that particular time, I think history has shown that this legislation was totally unworkable. I am not afraid --
Mr D. R. Cooke: You’ve 40 seconds left, Mike. Are you for it or against it?
Hon Mr Elston: Answer the question.
Mr Harris: Listen, the landlords, the tenants and the analysts who encouraged us to support it have all now said, “We were wrong “They have also said it is not just the incompetence of the government, although there is a substantial amount of that, that does not allow this act to be administered; in fact, they say the legislation itself, in spite of the government’s incompetence, is so badly flawed that it indeed is unworkable.
Mr Harris: I say to members that I have no hesitation in saying that this legislation ought to be scrapped and we ought to be looking at other alternatives. Further, because of all the interventions and the racket, I did not get a chance to go to the second part of the question and I would be glad to do that at some future time.
Mr Philip: The minister commenced her remarks on this bill by a series of promises that she intends to create a number of nonprofit rental units. This announcement has been made on a number of occasions, and if the promises are kept in the way in which she has kept the past promises, we will be a long time in waiting for it. If we look at this act, we can see that it covers not just this minister but indeed goes back even further, to the previous minister, the member for Scarborough North (Mr Curling).
On 2 July 1986, in dealing with the predecessor to this bill, he said, “The Rental Housing Protection Act will provide a breathing space while the pressures for demolition, conversion and luxury upgrading are reduced through our rent review and housing supply initiatives.” That was on 2 July 1986.
Now we have the minister saying, and I have her statement which was given on 31 January 1989 when she introduced the act, “It is clear that the market conditions which prompted this government to implement the Rental Housing Protection Act in the first place have not changed to a significant degree.”
In July 1986, the then Liberal Housing minister, the member for Scarborough North, said: “We need temporary legislation because you have to give the government some time to bring in something that is going to deal with the present crisis.” Now on 31 January 1989 we have the minister admitting that the crisis still exists.
If there was ever an admission of the failure of this government to deal with the problem, it is the ministers’ own words. One minister says, “We’ve got a major problem but we’re going to the deal with it,” and then several years later the next Liberal Minister of Housing says, “We’ve still got a problem so we’ve got to do something.”
During her remarks in introducing the bill she said that during the past nine months the parliamentary assistant for Housing had held extensive discussions with a wide range of landlord organizations, tenant groups and municipal representatives. But if you look at this bill, you realize that some of the concerns of the very tenant representatives that she says her parliamentary assistant has been meeting with are not reflected in the bill.
We will see this as the bill goes out to committee. We will have these groups come forward and we will see what their major concerns are and how their concerns are not reflected in this bill and how section 24, in particular, is clearly inadequate.
The minister said, “Vacancy rates remain low in most major urban centres and the demand for rental housing remains high at a time of heavy immigration to Ontario.” She said, “Second, it is apparent that we must provide a legal framework to restrict those activities which reduce the stock of rental housing in the province.” She also said, ‘Third, it is clear that the existing legislative framework has generally been successful in preventing a reduction in the rental housing stock.”
The fact is that it has not and the example she gives is clearly inappropriate. She says, for example, “In Metropolitan Toronto only 74 units have been converted since July 1986.” What she fails to take into account, of course, is that the major conversions have been to those buildings that have been built since 1986 and labelled not as rental buildings, although they have been operated as rental buildings, but registered as condominiums. That is where the major conversions are taking place.
Indeed, if we look at what exactly happens, about 80 per cent of the buildings constructed since 1976 fall under this category. It is simply downright misleading for her to say that this bill stops conversions when de facto conversions are taking place all the time and when 80 per cent of the rental buildings were apartments, a majority of whose units are rented out and are, in fact, open to conversion.
When I raised the issue with her on 7 January 1988, I pointed out that a major problem faced Metropolitan Toronto in particular, but also Mississauga and as we get east of the city we also run into the same problem; in my own riding, 47.9 per cent of the rental units that are available are registered as condominiums.
The minister expressed some concern about this. She said: “There will be a discussion paper issued and all the concerns he has raised will be part of it. We will be talking to all the people who are concerned about this and will try very hard to protect the interests of tenants.” Well, she has talked, or at least the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations has talked to her. They have expressed their concerns, other tenant groups have expressed their concerns to her and she has not taken into account their concerns. Or if she has taken them into account, she has simply disregarded them.
We have a situation where an act is introduced that clearly avoids dealing with the major issue of urban areas such as Metropolitan Toronto, namely, that the major number of de facto conversions, the major number of rental units built after 1976 are not covered by this bill and are being converted as we talk.
On 27 April 1988 she said: ‘The commitment I made was that we would consider the whole issue when we looked at the Rental Housing Protection Act.” She said it was a complex issue, adding:
“That is the reason we have to look at all the different angles in order to come up with the appropriate answer. We will do that. Everything the member has said I will take very seriously as we come to our conclusions.” It is not just me who is saying it; it is the tenants’ groups that have been saying it. She has not taken it into account, or if she has taken it into account, she has decided that the interests of the large developers are more important than the interests of the tenants.
Tenants such as those living at 2645 Kipling Avenue in the riding that I represent have lived in a building for nine years which they thought was a rental building only to discover that they are now being evicted to make room for the purchasers of their apartments.
In my own riding, to the best of my knowledge, all the private rental buildings constructed after 1978 have been designated as condominiums. Thus in the riding I represent alone, the riding of Etobicoke-Rexdale, we are talking about 3,495 tenants who are not covered by this bill and who can lose their apartments, unless they happen to have the capital to buy those apartments. That is not only bad news for tenants; it is also not to the advantage of the consumer.
I have listened to the member for Nipissing talk about how wonderful it would be if High Park buildings were converted into condos. I have listened to the present member for High Park-Swansea (Mr Fleet), as well as the previous member, Mr Shymko, preach a similar line. But what they have failed to take into account is what happens to the tenants who cannot afford to buy their own units or to the elderly persons who do not want to have the responsibility of ownership. If we look at what happens to them, I ask the members what happens to the consumer who does feel under pressure and purchases the unit?
I have a building right now in the riding I represent. It is a rental building that has been converted, because it was registered as a condominium. The new owners have come to me. I suggested a lawyer specializing in condominium issues to assist them, along with myself. They are captive, as minority interest holders, in a building where the owner of the building has sold off only a fraction of the units.
They are in the position that they can take whatever limited powers they have under the Condominium Act to try and have access to his books, to try and have representation, and if things really get bad, to go to the mortgage company and say, “Look, we have a real problem here; you had better start using your proxies.” But if they do that, they create a major problem with their investment, because once word gets out that this is a problem building, if they are ever in a position where they have to move, they find that they have trouble selling. They are in a catch-22 position.
These are not rich people. They are people who felt that they had nowhere to move and therefore they had better buy their own unit, or they are relatively poor or working class people who were looking around for a condominium, could not afford the traditional resale condominium, and therefore bought something that was perhaps less expensive in order to get into home ownership. They are in a minority interest position, with very few rights and in a very awkward position indeed.
Condo conversion has not proven to be that great panacea to help people get into the home ownership market.
I heard one of the previous Liberal speakers say, “Well, you know, this act protects tenants from being coerced.” Let me read a letter that tenants in my riding have received. This is from a company called Willow Pond. They are the representatives or the agents for the tenants at 234 Albion Rd. This is a letter that I brought to the minister’s attention in December 1987. Of course, she has not responded to the problems faced by these people, but let me read it to members. I ask you, Mr Speaker, if you as an independent person would not say that these people are being coerced.
“On 1 December 1987, our company has become the managers of this building for new owners. Our resident superintendents names are” -- they name them -- “and their assistant superintendents are” -- they name them too. “Our office is....”
So far it is good news. That is the first paragraph. “Here’s who you can contact and we are willing to help.”
In the second paragraph, though, things start turning a little sour: “Over the next year, all the apartments in this building will be sold to owner-occupiers. Towards the end of your lease, you will be given a notice that your lease will not be renewed, as that apartment has been sold and the purchaser would like to live in the apartment. This is exactly the same procedure as has been carried out over the past year at 238 Albion Road. We may be able to help you find another apartment.” Whoopee, they are going to help them find another apartment.
“We manage 236 Albion Road and several other apartment buildings.” With the vacancy rate, you may be sure how successful they will be in helping them, of course.
Then it goes on to say, “We apologize for any inconvenience that you are going to experience because we are going to do a lot of reconstruction work prior to selling off your units.”
That letter is clearly very coercive to the disabled person. I had a disabled person in a wheelchair who wrote to me and called me, crying about this. He said: “I am not in a position, on my very limited pension, to buy my apartment. I don’t feel that I should go into an institution, and yet here I am as an independent person trying to live a life without rental housing subsidy, but I am faced with a very difficult situation.”
It is fairly clear that what the minister has done is break her promise to the tenants who have written to her and the associations that have contacted her. She has broken her promise to a majority of the tenants living in buildings built in this province, in this city, since 1976.
I guess we should not be too surprised that this government breaks promises. It has broken a number of other promises on everything from Sunday shopping to lowering automobile insurance, but one has to say that this was a fairly specific, concrete proposal.
The former Minister of Housing said he was bringing in interim legislation because plans were on the way to deal with the problem. The minister later, in promises to me, said that she was going to deal with the problem and that the tenants were going to be protected. Now today, and in her announcement on 31 January of this year when she introduced this bill, she says, “We have solved the problems.” She has not solved the problems.
The majority of tenants living in a majority of the new buildings built since 1976 are being evicted. They are being evicted in my riding and in Scarborough. They are being evicted in Mississauga. We have countless cases; we have plenty of examples. I have given just a few of them.
The minister has not listened to the requests on this matter by the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and other tenant groups. We hope she will be more receptive to their requests and pleas when they come before the committee.
Mr Fleet: It is indeed curious to listen to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale with his anti-condominium perspective which seems to leave no room for reality to creep in. The issue that he dealt with, the supply of condominiums being built in Metropolitan Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, just does not seem to reflect the facts.
I have in my hand the booklet called Rental Housing Protection Act: Future Directions. It was issued at the start of this process. The government set out to review all the options to consider, all the suggestions from different groups, and in fact that has been outlined by a number of speakers here. It says:
‘The current boom in apartment condominium starts, particularly within Metro Toronto, has led to an increase in the supply of rental units as smaller investors use condominiums as a form of investment.” It also states, ‘The recent surge in condominium construction is an important source of supply for the rental market.”
It is not good enough, quite frankly, for the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale to look only at places where somebody might sell a unit and then, as a result, a new owner would move in. You have to look at the whole issue of construction.
On the whole, as more condominiums are being built, there are more rental units available. That is a fact, a reality the member seeks to avoid. There is probably no sizeable condominium anywhere in Ontario that does not have a number of units -- in some cases, many units -- being rented.
If the member is unable to understand how he is going to inform tenants -- and I can appreciate that some tenants might be concerned, if they are not aware of the fact that their building is a condominium and if conceivably it might be sold at some point -- then I suggest that he quite simply write them a letter and tell them. He can get a list of all the condominiums in his municipality quite easily from the local city hall, and he can simply inform people. It is not hard to do; it is quite easy, in fact. I urge the member, if that is a problem, to deal with it that way
Mr Philip: The member for High Park-Swansea says that I am somehow anticondominium. Of course, I happen to be the only politician in Canada who has been honoured with a professional membership in the Canadian Condominium Institute, an institute which he probably does not even know exists, but it is known to condominium owners and to those involved in condominiums.
The member for High Park-Swansea says that a majority of rental units being built are condominium units. Of course, the condominiums that are being built now are all in the luxury, very high-rental area. If he only read the condominium and time-sharing magazine published in the city by David Medhurst, then he would recognize that is the case. The very fact that some luxury condominiums are being built that will rent for $1,400 a month or so does not solve the rental housing problem that the member’s government fails to deal with.
His colleagues before him, unlike him but very much more like his predecessor Mr Shymko, were against the conversion of those High Park condominiums. They were against them for the same reason the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations was against those conversions: namely, a lot of tenants would be displaced.
I say to the member for High Park-Swansea, perhaps he should read the literature; perhaps he should consult with people such as David Medhurst or other people who have been active in the condominium field. Indeed, he might like to read some of the speeches I have given in this Legislature or at the Canadian Condominium Institute’s annual meeting when I was honoured as being one of the recipients of the annual Person of the Year award for contributions to condominium legislation and condominium thinking in this province. Perhaps he should have read some of those things.
Ms Bryden: I share with my colleagues the extreme doubts about whether this bill will solve the many problems that are facing tenants with regard to meeting demands by landlords for their space.
We know there has been a tremendous loss of housing stock in the city of Toronto due to conversions and demolitions in the last five or six years, and we have attempted in the Planning Act to have demolition legislation that would prevent demolitions involving rental housing in order to protect the housing stock. Unfortunately, the legislation is not nearly strong enough and the tenants are not given much time to organize themselves into a co-op or some tenants’ organization that could purchase the property. That is an area where we need more protection.
We know that the Rental Housing Protection Act, when it was originally passed in 1986, was put in to prevent the loss of housing stock by protecting tenants in such buildings. But we also know that it very soon became known to be a very weak sort of protection and therefore demands continued for amending and revamping the legislation.
As my colleagues and others in the House have told the minister today, these demands were finally met two years later when it was extended for a year in order to permit study of the flaws in the act, but it was extended without any spelling out of how the legislation was going to be amended, so that was only a stopgap measure and the evictions and demolitions and conversions continued to go on, but at a true abuse of the powers that were available to landlords to get control of the property.
The one thing the Rental Housing Protection Act did say was that the municipality had to okay a conversion. Unfortunately, we have found that not all municipalities were sympathetic to preserving housing stock and therefore they did not always use this power, nor could the loss of the housing and the demolition and the conversion be stopped if the property became vacant. That was due to a recent court decision.
We are desperately in need of much stronger legislation to prevent the loss of housing stock. The act is called the Rental Housing Protection Act and this new bill is an attempt to provide that sort of protection. However, we have studied this act very closely and we have also consulted with many tenants’ organizations and we have heard from many people in rental housing who have been evicted and have not been able to get the protection of the present act. These people feel that the new amendment, the new version of the Rental Housing Protection Act, is still very flawed. This is why we are opposing this bill and saying, “Go back to the drawing board and bring us in a real Rental Housing Protection Act which will prevent the sort of practices that have been going on.”
In my own riding, I have had a number of houses up on Kingston Road where the tenants have been harassed out of the buildings and the landlord has then been able to get vacant possession and has been able to get a new development plan arranged for this housing. The new plan will be for much higher rents in much more elaborate accommodation. The tenants themselves who were in the old housing stock have disappeared as a result of this harassment and as a result of not knowing what their rights were and how to oppose the methods that were used to evict them.
I draw the members’ attention to 500 and 504 Kingston Road, formerly known as the Wallfield Arms. We found out that the owners applied unethical and probably illegal methods to rid the building complex of its tenants. Even while the tenants remained in their apartments, the landlord proceeded to board up the buildings and to give them a derelict appearance. Tenants were then told that they had to get out immediately because the building had been condemned. This was not the case.
Through complaints relayed from my office to the buildings and inspection branch at the city of Toronto, the owners of the building had been served with an extensive list of work orders, with which they never complied. These did not necessitate removal of the tenants in order to implement the work orders.
The lawyers for the owners also maintained that all tenants who had been issued eviction notices were behind in their rent. The way this worked, it would appear, was that the landlord asked for a large rent increase and had not gone through rent review to validate it, but gave the impression to the tenants that if they did not accept this rent they were in arrears. This is, of course, a completely incorrect interpretation of the rent review and rent increase legislation, because the tenant has the choice of refusing to pay the increase until such time as it is confirmed or rejected by a rent review officer, or he can pay and then presumably get a refund if the proposed rent is rejected.
But there were much worse things done both in this building and in two or three others in my riding. Sometimes they cut telephone wires. Sometimes, presumably the building’s agents or somebody who was allowed in, interfered with mail or would enter apartments without permission. We are told that in some cases payments were offered to tenants to induce them to leave the building. Hot water was cut off sometimes or maintenance that was absolutely essential to the comfort of the tenants, such as heating repairs, was not carried out.
The police, the buildings inspection staff and the Ministry of Health were all called to the building very frequently, but they could not keep up with these many violations. It appeared that the owners were blatantly using, or misusing, the law in order to harass the tenants out. In some cases, I even heard that the landlord hired a big, burly, unsavoury-booking character as a tenant. He may not have hired him, but he gave him residence in the apartment. This person went around bursting into peoples’ apartments without permission, harassing them in the halls and generally intimidating them, so that they felt they had no real security in the building as long as this type of tenant was being allowed in.
I think this is the sort of thing that makes us nervous about whether this legislation is going to be effective. I do want to mention one of the reasons why it is not very effective, and I think this is why we need a new law. One of those reasons is information to tenants in housing where they are not organized into tenants’ associations.
In the past half-hour, I phoned the two numbers in the Toronto phone book, the Landlord and Tenants Advisory Bureau and the Landlord-Tenant Action Centre. These are two separate listings. Neither of them said they were a government office. Neither of them could tell me exactly what sort of work they did. One of them offered to take my number and call me back on it. There does not appear to be any very good information system in the ministry to tell tenants what their rights are, how they can fight the kind of harassment that has been going on and how they can protect themselves in order to protect their housing.
I think it is true that the blue pages give five regional offices of the ministry, but unless the tenants know that these offices would give them advice and help in fighting a landlord, most of them would not call those offices for help. I think the ministry has to do a big job, first of all, in apprising tenants of their tights and then in assisting them when a situation occurs where a landlord tries to get the tenants out and tries to get vacant possession.
Of course, the law must remove the effect of that court case which says that once you get vacant possession you can do what you like with the building, because that is just an invitation for landlords to get vacant possession quickly and through illegal methods before the law catches up with them. If vacant possession is considered permission to go ahead with or without municipal approval, then there will certainly be a lot of continuing harassment.
The other thing, of course, is that under the present shortage of housing most tenants cannot take advantage of the Rental Housing Protection Act, even if it had teeth in it. That is because they are intimidated and terrified by the shortage of affordable rental housing in the whole metropolitan area and in large areas of southern Ontario. As long as that state of shortage continues, you will have a great inability of tenants to protect themselves.
Even the tenants’ associations, which do a very good job of trying to protect the tenants who approach them, are unable to serve the great numbers who need service in situations that are reported to them. They do assist people in forming tenants’ associations. They do, in some cases, provide them with legal services, either at cost or subsidized. That is all very necessary. Those tenants’ associations, if they are going to fulfil that role for the Housing ministry to assist tenants in asserting their tights, should be subsidized to a much greater extent. The ministry should not be relying on them to do its work in helping tenants in distress.
That is another area where the ministry must show that there is going to be action on the housing supply side and not just attempt to put more clauses into the Rental Housing Protection Act, which sounds as though the minister is waving the big stick at landlords but will be very difficult to enforce, will set tenants up against high-priced lawyers and in many cases the ministry will be pursuing long after the event landlords who do violate the act. The landlord by that time may have changed his corporation number. He may be very difficult to get at.
I think, as others have mentioned in this debate, the amount of administrative machinery -- and the costs of it -- that the ministry will have to set up to implement this law is simply mind-boggling. That does not mean we should not try to protect tenants, but we should do it in ways that the tenants themselves have been involved in and that they know are workable and enforceable.
I think that is one of the greatest reasons why this law is flawed; that is, that very few tenants were consulted on the drafting of it.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Do you support the bill, Marion?
Ms Bryden: No, I said I think it is flawed. The member got my message.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Do you support it?
The Deputy Speaker: No interjections, and the member will address her remarks through the Speaker, of course.
Ms Bryden: As I say, the government could do much better if it had a bill that was drafted with much more assistance from tenants’ organizations and from tenants themselves. To have a couple of days of public hearings at this stage is much too late to fix up a badly flawed bill of that sort.
If there is any criticism of the fact there will be a few more affordable housing units lost, then I think the onus is on the government to say it was the fault of the government for bringing in completely unenforceable legislation. Therefore, not having sat down in that whole year that it had after it extended the bill from 1988 to 1989, it is now about to expire in 1989.
The government is the one that will have to justify what happens when we ask it to go back and produce a workable bill, but at least in the meantime it can set up an adequate information service for tenants who are affected by the unscrupulous landlords’ practices. It can also provide a government-operated agency, particularly in places as big as downtown Toronto, which will give tenants much more assistance in fighting applications by landlords for conversions.
It should also be working with the municipal governments to make sure that they exercise whatever right the bill gives them to veto the proposals for demolition or conversion and to see that the tenants who are in affordable housing right now do not end up out on the street or facing landlords’ proposals for renovations which will be at least enough to give the landlord some claim for additional rents. in many cases, some very minor cosmetic renovations have been accepted by rent review adjudicators as reasons for allowing very substantial rent increases.
I think the huge applications for rent increases which are coming from many landlords are a part of the intimidation that is also going on. I think they are all taking lessons from each other as to how to get vacant possession of the buildings right now. Some of them are asking for a 100 per cent increase in rent, which simply results in many tenants not fighting back because they do not know to do it in many cases, but instead simply moving to some other, often much less desirable place. I think that kind of intimidation should also be looked upon by rent review adjudicators and rent review boards as another form of intimidation that should be outlawed, or at least not countenanced by rent review boards.
The pass-through of increases in mortgage costs is limited to some extent now, but it should be much more strictly limited to prevent the tenants being asked to pay for land speculation, which is what it really is amounting to.
I think there are many reasons for rejecting this bill at present, but I am hoping that the ministry will bring in a new one very soon and will institute some meaningful consultation with all the people concerned. Our objective is to get decent rental protection legislation and to get more affordable housing in sight in the city of Toronto.
So far, I have not seen the minister’s 25 per cent requirement of affordable housing -- which she is asking the municipalities to follow -- being honoured by many of the more affluent municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto or in other fast-growing parts of the province. It is simply not enough to tell people that the guideline is 25 per cent. It seems to me that there should be much stricter requirements on the developers who present a proposal not only to provide 25 per cent affordable housing but also to clarify what that statement means.
I think we should also be considering whether we are going to allow the tremendous waste of land and resources in these million-dollar luxury accommodations that are going up around this city and the environs or out along the GO train lines. It seems to me it is a misuse of resources when there are so many people needing housing, to be building million-dollar, half-million-dollar condos, to be building houses that look like castles and have 5,000 square feet when most people would be happy to have 3,000 or even less.
Maybe a development tax on those big houses might be something the government could think of. Those that are benefiting from all our services that are now spread far and wide to accommodate the urban sprawl that is being encouraged by those huge lots and by giving more GO service to those people should be paying a bigger share of the costs of helping people produce more urban sprawl.
It is somewhat similar to the new tax that the greater Toronto area people are being asked to pay for living in a commercially significant and growing area, where it is said that all of us are responsible for all the extra costs in the greater Toronto area of transportation and road building and so on, so we are going to have to pay more for parking lots and more for commercial buildings, but this is all, of course, going to be added into the prices of the goods.
I think the people who are buying these big houses are the ones who should be paying a development tax. If they want this kind of real waste of our resources, they must pay for it, rather than being allowed to ride free on all the government services that we provide for such huge houses. That is another area the government might look at if it wants to provide a fair supply of affordable housing within a reasonable distance from a person’s work, rather than the present system, where we are making people go farther and farther afield and are preventing more and more people from being able to rent affordable housing in the city of Toronto and are not giving them the protection they need under rental housing protection legislation.
With that, I hope the government will reconsider its bill.
Mr Fleet: I was quite amazed to hear that the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) evidently is not in full discussion with the member for Oshawa about some points of this, such as the suggestion that the government had not been in consultation with tenants, although I did hear the member for Oshawa say he wanted more hearings.
The fact of the matter, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine does not appear to know, is that there was very extensive consultation with a variety of groups. There were groups such as the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, there were groups from Ottawa --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Fleet: -- there was a variety of different “tenants” groups with a variety of different views in some areas and there was extensive consultation with all points of view.
The least that one could acknowledge, whether you agree with the bill or not, is that in fact there was a very open process. We had the ministry providing a document I referred to earlier called Rental Housing Protection Act: Future Directions, which set out information for tenants in particular, I think, because those are the groups perhaps least able to find some of the information and with the most limited resources.
It provides an outline of all of the considerations the government had to take into account, and there is proof in the bill that it has been listening. I refer the member to section 20, which deals with harassment of tenants. This is a provision that does not exist in the current act, which provides that, if a landlord is discouraging tenants or harassing them, the landlord or the agent of a landlord is liable to a fine of a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $50,000 or imprisonment of one year.
These are very heavy penalties for anybody who contravenes the new act, and this is a way of delivering a message to all concerned that it is important that the process be respected and the tenants have an opportunity to put forth their views. It is clear evidence that the government has been listening and listening effectively.
Ms Bryden: With regard to the faith of the member for High Park-Swansea in the way the legislation may be enforced against harassing landlords, I think he will probably find that most of the landlords who finally get to court, if prosecutions are carried out, will have, as I say, changed the name of their company or long ago disappeared after the building has been demolished and a new one has been built.
The thing is, it is just too cumbersome to do it. Of course, as far as the consultation goes, the people who are not in tenants’ associations have not been consulted. I think we do need more public hearings but I think we also have to sit down with all kinds of community groups and make sure that what we are trying to build is housing that will suit the community and not the developers. This is exactly what we are not getting in Metropolitan Toronto right now.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I would like to respond to a couple of the points that the member for Beaches- Woodbine made and then speak directly to the Rental Housing Protection Act.
In the course of her comments, the member for Beaches-Woodbine alleged that there was a lack of consultation with tenants on this bill. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, Mr Speaker, you and members of the House may remember that, over a year ago, the Minister of Housing released for consultation a draft proposal outlining the problems associated with the Rental Housing Protection Act, the need for a review, the need for recommendations, and tenants’ groups from all across this province responded.
I know the member for Beaches-Woodbine may not have been privy to their responses, but certainly she can avail herself of our ministry’s services at any time and take a look at those responses, which are lengthy, well reasoned and numerous.
In addition to the fact that those consultations took place, those written briefs, there were face-to-face discussions which occurred between the minister and many tenants’ groups, between myself in my capacity as parliamentary assistant and those tenants’ groups, and in fact those consultations took place as recently as last Thursday.
To tell me, to tell this House that tenant consultation was absent or lacking in the case of this new bill, l am sorry, just does not hold water. The tenants have been listened to, their voices have been heard and the principles they felt were important are in fact found in this legislation.
If the member sits on the committee that is going to receive this bill for public hearings and clause-by-clause review, I am sure she will have the opportunity once again to ask the tenants if they have been heard and to ask them for their views. That is in the nature of the parliamentary process. That being so, the member herself will hear from the tenants how they feel about the legislation. To suggest otherwise offends not only myself, but the parliamentary process.
Second, the member wandered into a discussion of what I thought was the issue of monster homes. Perhaps she will correct me if I am wrong, but just let me explain that issue. In many older suburban areas of Metropolitan Toronto and other large urban centres in fact, there are homes which were built quite some time ago, and now developers are buying those homes simply for the land value. The homes are being demolished and replaced by much larger homes. These are called monster homes.
Many people say, “Why don’t you do something about this?” and I say, “This is the direct responsibility of the municipal councils.” Everyone in those suburban and urban areas elects municipal councillors to deal with land use planning issues. In fact, the city of Scarborough most recently, the member may know, imposed a temporary holding bylaw that would prevent the construction of any home larger than 2,500 square feet.
I share the member’s concerns, if she is indeed concerned, about the monster homes, for two reasons: One, the construction of the monster homes eliminates a source of affordable housing stock for home owners. Two, it places an imposition on the neighbourhood when you get something that is three or four storeys high, extends right to lot lines and clouds out the sunshine and destroys the appearance of the neighbourhood. But really the most important issue is the elimination of what once was affordable home ownership stock.
I tell the member to go back to her municipality, to go back to her city councillor and say, “You have direct responsibility to deal with this.” The city councils were elected to deal with these issues. If they do not want to deal with them, then there is something we can do about it: throw them out at the next election. But they have the responsibility; they are charged with the care of land use planning in their communities and if they do not choose to do something about it, then maybe we all should have something to say about it at the next election.
Finally, I want to get to the purpose of this bill. Prior to 1986, many members may know that -- let me use the city of Toronto by way of example -- there was a rapid loss of affordable rental housing stock in Toronto. I use the city of Toronto because it was perhaps the worst case but not the only bad case. My understanding is that in the period 1978 to 1985, almost 9,000 rental units in Toronto were lost or under threat of loss through demolition, conversion to condominiums or substantial upgrading that required the eviction of the tenants.
The demolitions totalled 1,434; the renovations over 3,000; condominium conversions over 1,100; the co-ownership or co-equity conversions over 900, and apartment hotels amounted to a conversion of over 2,000. In total, there were 8,744 rental units converted out of affordable rental housing stock in the period 1978 to 1985.
The bill that was passed in 1986 was intended to deal directly with those problems, and in fact it did. The number of conversions that took place in Toronto in the period 1986 to 1988 was 74. If members want to draw that on a graph, they will see a sudden decline to near zero. In fact, the bill did the work that it should do.
There are some problems with the existing legislation. With this new legislation, we are moving to deal with those problems. The most significant is the vacant building exemption. We hope that all members will join with us to support the legislation. For one reason or another, it was found that a building that was vacant or made vacant by a landlord could be allowed to be converted without being caught under the purview of the Rental Housing Protection Act. We want to change that.
We want to prevent landlords from harassing tenants. We want to prevent landlords from illegally or legally evicting tenants so as to obtain a vacant building and thus exempt themselves from municipal council approval. Now vacant buildings, like occupied buildings, cannot be converted without municipal council approval and that municipal council approval has to be according to the criteria set out in the regulations, which will be public and for all to know.
Finally, members may know -- they have heard other members talk -- about the option we were faced with, and indeed some tenants advocated this option, that we allow tenants to buy the units in their apartment building. Frankly, we rejected that. That is clear. We rejected that as a policy option and for good reason.
Surveys of tenants who are now in affordable rental housing have shown that among tenants with incomes of between $20,000 and $39,999 only 12 per cent said they would definitely consider buying their rental unit. Another 15 per cent said it would depend on the price while a full two thirds rejected the idea. Among the lowest-income tenants 83 per cent rejected this option outright and only 13 per cent said they would definitely consider it.
The fact is, as a policy option to deal with the need to protect our affordable rental housing, the decision to reject an option allowing tenants to buy makes good common sense. The amount of affordable housing in our metropolitan areas right now is limited. It is fragile and we have made the decision as a government to protect it, to ensure that it continues to exist and that the tenants who occupy that rental housing indeed have the security of tenure to which they are entitled.
There is much more that could be said about this piece of legislation. It is going to committee, which I think is a good thing. None the less, I understand the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) would like to speak on this issue, and soI give over to him the floor.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate?
Mr Reville: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I know you were a member of this House the last time we discussed the Rental Housing Protection Act, but I do not know whether you were actually present in the House on that day. You should have seen it, Mr Speaker. It was an amazing experience. The Tory Housing critic was away off on some business and the bill was handed to the then member for St George. Both the member and the riding have since disappeared. Perhaps the Legislature has suffered a great loss thereby because we are no longer dazzled by those flashing teeth.
The Minister of Housing of that day was the member for Scarborough North and the debate took place on the very last day of the spring session in July 1986. Those of us who were interested in the Rental Housing Protection Act were under the gimlet eye of our respected House leaders who were saying, “Hurry up, hurry up, we’ve got to adjourn this place.” I mention this because the government and the member for York Mills (Mr. B. Nixon), whose remarks I have had the pleasure of listening to, have indicated that one of the wonderful features of this bill is that it will cover vacant units. Well, that is a good thing and that was precisely the thing I was urging on the previous Minister of Housing almost three years ago.
In fact, I moved an amendment, which carried with the support of the Progressive Conservatives, which I believed had accomplished just that and which the solicitors of the city of Toronto believed had accomplished just that. It was this minister’s officials in the Ministry of Housing who said it did not cover vacant buildings.
Everyone knows that landlords have developed various techniques for ridding their units of tenants. Sometimes they pay them to write an essay on the housing shortage. The best fee I ever heard for writing an essay on the housing shortage was $21,000, which was paid to a tenant to write an essay on the housing shortage on condition that the tenant vacate a unit. Of course, that tenant made a contract and a bargain, and the tenant thought that was a good bargain until he got out in the market and tried to make out in a housing market that is increasingly hostile to people who do not have pots of money.
There were other techniques, of course, that landlords have traditionally used to get tenants out of buildings. There is the old turn-off-the-hydro trick and the turn-off-the-heat trick. There is the old brother-in-law trick for those of us who are fortunate enough to have a brother-in-law who looks like a refrigerator. When such a brother-in-law arrives at your door, you certainly do call him “Sir.”
I do not give the government a whole lot of credit for, three years later, coming to the conclusion that the Rental Housing Protection Act should apply to vacant buildings as well as to buildings that are occupied by people, because it is not that hard, given the power structure between a landlord and a tenant, to achieve a vacant building.
I have some passion for this matter, because in the riding of Riverdale over the last decade more than 1,000 rental units have disappeared. The way in which some of them disappeared makes me want to vomit. Daily, I drive past an automobile dealership that demolished six affordable housing units. These units were renting for around $350 a month. Do members know what they do with the space on which those people’s homes used to exist? They park cars waiting for servicing.
This government was too late to save those units, because this government is not known for its competence. Those units came down after this government was in power. Then you go across the street to Gerrard Square at Pape and Gerrard. There is a wonderful parking lot there. Guess what was on top of that parking lot? There were 30 affordable apartments, knocked down because this government could not get its act together fast enough to deliver on an item it promised in the accord, when it signed the accord with the New Democratic Party. One of the first, very specific items on the accord was condominium conversion and demolition control legislation. I do not give the government a whole lot of credit for that, either.
I am pleased that there is no sunset clause in this legislation. In July 1986 I said, “You will rue the day you didn’t put a sunset clause in the legislation because you will be back here begging us” --
Mr J. B. Nixon: We are not begging, we are asking.
Mr Reville: The member for York Mills says he is not begging. Of course, he is such a tall and attractive young man that begging would probably look pretty good on him.
In fact, what happened was that the original bill, Bill 11, had a sunset clause and we did have to extend it. It may be that we will have to extend it again, because here it is 12 June and we are having the second-reading debate of a piece of legislation which, even though it was extended, may have to be extended again because it is going out for the public to have some opportunity to make the odd remark. I do not know whether it is a refusal to understand how the process works around here or whether it is just simple incompetence that makes a government bring forward the second reading of a bill that is supposed to have royal assent by the end of the month.
Mr Fleet: Given the delays of the ringing of bells, you shouldn’t be surprised at the holdups in the process.
Mr Reville: Well now, the member for High Park-Swansea, the member who would like tenants to buy their units and who said as much to thousands of the voters in his riding, says that the opposition has somehow delayed that. He is wrong, because the member for Renfrew North, Little Lord Conway, as the government House leader, knows how to negotiate to “No.” I would be happy to lend him this book, Getting to Yes. I have never met a government House leader who has no solutions.
Mr Reycraft: I have that book on tape.
Mr Reville: The member has this book on tape? He should lend it to the Minister of Mines and government House leader, because he is a wonderful reader. He is an avid reader. I have been to so many House leaders’ meetings where I have heard about a book he is reading that I am a far more literate man today than I should be, given the number of books I get a chance to read. But I do get a chance to hear detailed synopses of books that the government House leader is reading, and they are a broad and amazing range of books, mostly written in the 19th century.
This bill continues to be flawed. I pointed out that it is good that it applies belatedly to vacant buildings. I have pointed out that it is good that it now has no sunset clause. If there is one thing that this government cannot afford to do, it is to have sunset clauses in any legislation it brings forward because, sure enough, as day turns into night, this government will miss the boat, the sunset will have passed and the moon will be up before it gets around to doing what it says it will do.
This bill continues to have serious flaws in it. It continues to leave out thousands, literally thousands, of units.
Hon Mr Elston: They’re all the same price.
Mr Reville: To the member for Bruce (Mr Elston), who is commenting from the cheap seats, I say that leaving thousands of units unprotected is a typical Liberal approach. It means they can somehow try to be on both sides at once. They can be on the side of the tenants as long as they do not live in a fourplex; if they do live in a fourplex, they are on the side of the landlord. Do members know how many fourplexes there are in the province? I do not either, but there are thousands of them. I know the minister knows precisely how many there are because she has within her employ many dozens of bean counters who count that sort of bean, and there are literally thousands of tenants who are unprotected.
The bill continues to have the most wimpy criteria you can imagine. It says, “Thou shalt not demolish, convert or renovate if somehow, thereby, the affordable housing stock will be damaged.” Would anyone trust this government with that kind of subjective decision-making, this government that has no policy direction and no moral fibre? Would anyone trust them? I certainly would not.
That is why in 1986, on a hot July day, I suggested that the criterion should be made specific and it should be tied to a vacancy rate; that one of the ways to tell whether your rental stock was in jeopardy was to find out how many units were empty. The only place in this province where there is an adequate vacancy rate is the city of London, where it is 3.1 percent, and that is at the low end. An adequate vacancy rate should be three to five per cent, our housing policy people tell us, and the minister’s housing policy people would tell her if she did not have to have such an important conversation with the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan). The vacancy rate in the city of Toronto is 0.2 per cent. I congratulate the Liberal government; it has managed to make available two out of every 1,000 apartments for people to rent.
I recommended in 1986 that no conversions, demolitions or renovations to take units out of the stock should be allowed unless the vacancy rate were above four per cent. I would have been interested to hear what the government’s reaction was to that proposal, but all I got was a lot of mumbo-jumbo about their intention to protect the housing stock as long as it did not offend any landlords.
I think, in the end, we have the kind of legislation we should expect from this government: legislation that walks carefully down a fence, neither offending landlords too much nor protecting tenants too much. Unless one has within the quiver that carries the arsenal of the Housing minister a serious housing stock protection policy, then all the rest of the efforts the government undertakes are almost worthless, and we will continue to see housing disappear and be used for luxury condominiums, luxury private ownership, parking lots –
Miss Martel: For Jaguars.
Mr Pouliot: For Jaguars, BMWs.
Mr Reville: -- BMWs, Jaguars, Ferraris. I understand that -- never mind. I think it would be appropriate, given the time of 20 minutes to six o’clock, to conclude my remarks by saying that the Rental Housing Protection Act needs to be discussed by various interest groups and members of the public.
I extend my sympathy to the Minister of Housing that she was again unable to meet the deadline, but I can tell the members that the members of this party do not think the Minister of Housing is serious enough about protecting our stock, and we look forward to seeing whether she has anything to say for herself in the wrapup that I understand has been promised for about this time
The Acting Speaker: Are there any comments or questions?
Mr J. B. Nixon: Just let me say that I admire the member for Riverdale for his eloquence and for, might I say, a bit of hyperbole, but I understand that is in his nature.
Let me make the point that the situation in the city of Toronto, when the member for Riverdale was a city councillor in Toronto, was very bad indeed, when we talk about the disappearance of affordable rental stock.
From 1978 to 1986, over 8,700 units were lost. That is over I ,000 units a year. Then the member for Riverdale came to Queen’s Park. He wanted to do something about it, but so did the Liberal government. Indeed, in 1986 we introduced Bill 11 which virtually put an end to conversions and demolitions in the city of Toronto, because the number went from over 1,000 a year to 76. Those are dramatic results. Something was done and I leave that for the member for Riverdale to think about.
Mr Reville: The member for York Mills is quite right: The city of Toronto did experience an enormous loss of rental units in that period. That was because the previous government was absolutely refusing to entertain any demolition control legislation, and in fact the member may know that I was one of the infamous Toronto 11 who just about did time over trying to stop the demolition of the buildings on Eglinton Avenue. I had to cough up a lot of personal money when I was sued because I would not vote for a demolition permit in that connection.
That is why in 1985, when we were confronted with the fall of the Progressive Conservatives, we insisted that demolition control and condominium conversion legislation be upfront in the accord. We feel seriously betrayed by this government because it did not keep its bargain. It did not bring in serious demolition control, and if anybody doubts that, how come it is back here today with this little number, trying to fix the mistakes it made in 1986?
It was not for want of effort on my part that these mistakes were made. I offered those amendments and the Minister of Housing of the day did not accept them. Not only that, he gave the Legislature to feel that fourplexes would be covered when in fact they were not. I will never forget that as long as I live and I hold this government accountable for that as well.
The Acting Speaker: We have time remaining only for a short reply by the Minister of Housing.
Hon Ms Hošek: Let me just reiterate the main features of this legislation. It is permanent legislation to protect rental housing in this province. It extends protection to vacant buildings. The same protection that is provided to vacant rental buildings is provided to buildings with tenants. It ensures that vacant buildings are not lost from the housing stock during debates on the act. It restricts the practice of evicting tenants to obtain vacancy. It extends the time period of laying charges from six months to two years, with stronger fines and more protection against harassment.
I am interested in further debate in committee. I think it is a good act and a good bill. I have listened with interest to my colleagues and I will be glad to hear what they have to say in committee.
The Acting Speaker: The Minister of Housing has moved second reading of Bill 211. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for standing committee on social development.
The Acting Speaker: I would draw to the attention of members now that on Thursday, 8 June, the division with respect to the motion for second reading of Bill 10, An Act to Control Automobile Insurance Rates, was deferred until now, 5:45 today. Pursuant to the agreement of the House, I now call in the members for the vote and I remind members that the division bell is for a maximum of 30 minutes.
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE RATES CONTROL ACT, 1989
The House divided on Hon. Mr Elston’s motion for second reading of Bill 10, An Act to Control Automobile Insurance Rates, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Adams, Beer, Bossy, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Carrothers, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Elliot, Elston, Faubert, Fawcett, Fleet, Fontaine, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hošek, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kozyra, LeBourdais, Leone, Lipsett, Matrundola, McClelland, McGuigan, McLeod, Miller, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Offer, O’Neill, Y., Owen, Patten, Pelissero, Phillips, G., Poole, Ramsay, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Scott, Smith, D. W., Sola, Sorbara, South, Sullivan, Sweeney, Tatham, Velshi, Wilson, Wong, Wrye.
Allen, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D.S., Cunningham, Cureatz, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Harris, Johnson, J. M., Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pouliot, Rae, B.. Reville, Runciman, Sterling, Villeneuve, Wildman.
Ayes 63; nays 27.
Bill ordered for standing committee on administration of justice.
The House adjourned at 1800.