The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
AVIAN EMBLEM ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved second reading of Bill 27, An Act to designate an Avian Emblem for Ontario.
Mr Ballinger: The Avian Emblem Act, when passed by this House, will make the common loon, Gavia immer, the official bird of the province of Ontario. Our province already has a floral emblem in the trillium, a tree emblem in the white pine and a mineral emblem in the amethyst. With the adoption of this bill, Ontario will join the other provinces of Canada and name a bird as its symbol.
The common loon was chosen in a very special way. A contest was held across the province involving schoolchildren between the ages of nine and 11. They were asked to name the bird that they would most like to see as an emblem for Ontario. Incidentally, this was not the first such contest in the province. In 1937, schoolchildren in Ontario were asked to help choose the official flower of the province. Their overwhelming choice back then was the trillium, now the pre-eminent symbol of Ontario and one that I wear very proudly on a pin on my lapel.
In the case of the avian emblem, schoolchildren were asked to choose the bird they thought best represented Ontario. They had to research birds and write a short paragraph giving the reasons for their choice. A few restrictions were put on the contest. The bird had to be native to Ontario and birds that were already emblems of other provinces and territories could not be chosen. Nearly 5,200 entries were received, and 1,150 of those entries suggested the common loon. Obviously, it was the overwhelming favourite.
The review committee overseeing the contest then had the difficult task of finding and selecting one winner. That honour went to Matthew Conroy from Walden, southwest of Sudbury in the riding of Nickel Belt. In his winning submission, Matthew wrote:
“We live on a lake, and in the summer we spend time fishing and canoeing. That gives us a lot of chance to hear and see the loons. I love to see them when they have their little loons with them. On land they look so funny when they walk. When we are fishing or tenting, the call of the loon makes me tingle all over.
“I looked up some interesting things about loons that would make it perfect for our official bird. It is the most ancient of Canadian birds. The loon is deliberately designed as a fish-catching machine, and Ontario has lots of lakes and fish. They are a big and impressive black and white bird that almost everyone recognizes when they see it, and certainly when they hear it.
“My dad says that they could be killed by acid rain, since the pollution kills the fish that they eat. Maybe if we use the loon as our bird, it will help fight this pollution.”
Matthew writes, “I hope the official bird for Ontario becomes the loon.” Those are Matthew’s own words and reasons for picking the loon as an emblem for this great province.
As Matthew stated, the loon is one of the ancient birds native to Ontario. Many native people use the loon as a symbol and it has a central place in their mythology. Some native legends credit the loon with helping to create the earth. Others give special magical powers to the bird. One legend has it that the unforgettable cry of the loon is the echo of the call of a dead warrior looking for his beloved; yet others say the loon’s cry is the voice of slain warriors calling back to the land of the living. As already mentioned, native peoples in this province used the loon as a symbol for centuries. The combination of the bird’s beauty, its grace in the water and loyalty to its mate were qualities that were sacred to them.
It is fitting that we now adopt this wonderful bird as a symbol of Ontario. Few in this province are not familiar with the loon. We know its cry as it echoes in our wilderness. One of the runners-up in the contest, Erica Fowlie of Deep River, was inspired by the cry of the loon and wrote this poem:
“The loon is my choice,
Mostly because of its voice.
He’s one of Ontario’s most ancient birds,
Whose wild yodelling by early explorers was heard.
His call chilled their blood in the dead of night,
But he mocked them by laughing at dawn’s first light.
He’s found throughout Ontario’s rivers and lakes,
His black and white plumage a chequered picture he makes.
This powerful diver winters on coastal seas,
As well as the Great Lakes in Ontario, if you please.
Back home in spring comes our wandering loon,
His haunting call we will hear very soon.
On the Canadian coin for all of us to see,
This bird I do love and is special to me.
I am sure many have, as I have, sat on a dock or by the water of a lake and watched the loon. The bird dives and you sit and try and guess where it will surface in the lake. I am sure many others have been fortunate in seeing a mother loon carrying her young on her back, gracefully floating through the water. This is a symbol of our wilderness, and a fitting symbol for our province and our natural resources.
Joseph Kennedy of Kingston, another runner-up, also had this romantic view of the loon:
“It’s early morning; the lake is calm. You step into your canoe and paddle a few strokes. The canoe is the only thing disturbing the water, except for the wonderful loon. It looks at you and quietly swims away.”
“The first ones to notice this bird were the natives of Ontario. They put it in legends and decorative pieces. One legend is the loon’s necklace. The loon’s cry is very famous as well. It has a long, lonesome cry like a wolf’s howl. It also has a short, happy call like a person who is out of breath from laughing.
“The Cree word for loon is ‘makwa.’ This name seems to mimic the bird’s call. The loon is a very ancient bird of Canada, and so it has been around here for a very long time.”
Joseph loves to listen to the loon at his cottage or when he goes fishing.
In fact, the loon is such a great symbol that two of the province’s largest conservation groups, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters recently have chosen the loon as their emblem. They no doubt agree that the sight and sound of a loon truly represents the wilderness of Ontario. I am sure they also see the loon as a symbol of conservation and concern for a quality environment.
Loons are also popular. Loon memorabilia such as carvings, T-shirts and paintings are among the most popular items bought in tourist stores in Ontario and even on the downtown streets of Toronto. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) is known to have an extensive collection of loon souvenirs. I am sure he favours this designation for our avian emblem.
I would like to tell members a bit about the common loon, the bird that I hope will soon be our avian emblem.
The common loon, whose scientific name is Gavia immer, is a member of one of the oldest families of birds. They have been around for some 20 million years. The lifespan of the loon is approximately 15 to 20 years. Both male and female loons have identical markings which are a glossy, black head, a black and white necklace and a chequered back. They are really magnificent birds.
The loon is made for water. It is heavy and muscular with a torpedo shape that can dive to a depth of about 30 metres and can spend a fair amount of time submerged under water. A loon’s webbed foot is about the size of an adult human’s hand. This enables it to swim gracefully and quickly in the water. The feet are positioned at the back of the body for streamlined, effective diving. This makes the loon a bit clumsy on land where it spends very little of its time.
Most birds have air-filled bones to make them light; the loon, on the other hand, has heavy, solid bones that make diving easier. As a result, loons need a run of up to a quarter of a kilometre to get into the air. However, once they are airborne, loons can reach speeds up to 100 kilometres an hour. They are extremely fast.
Loons are extremely loyal to each other as well, and they stay very loyal to their mate but will remate if one dies. Although the loon may be an ancient bird, it does have a bit of a modern outlook, since mates tend to winter separately; they take separate vacations, so to speak. But when they return north in the spring, both members of a pair immediately find each other in the traditional nesting lake they left from.
They are extremely devoted parents. One or the other of the mates will watch over the nest consistently during the incubation period. When the chicks are hatched, they hitch a ride on one of the parents’ backs until they become self-sufficient.
Loons have been around for countless millenia. They are one of nature’s real success stories, but over most of those millions of years they did not have to fight humans and the pollution that humans have left behind.
As Matthew, the winner, said, loons could be killed because pollution such as acid rain kills the fish they need.
Not only do pollutants kill fish but they also foul up the water. The loon needs clear water to see the fish it needs for food. If there are no fish to eat or if it is difficult to see them, many, especially the young ones, starve. An overly curious canoeist or boater can frighten off a nesting loon and cause it to abandon its eggs and affect breeding patterns.
Loons are clumsy on land so they build their nests right by the shore. The wake from one power boat can cause damage to a nest by flooding its contents. As more and more of our lakes are developed, loons are driven out or fail to reproduce because of nest disturbance. They do not like to nest near human habitation.
By choosing the loon as our avian emblem, it will become more than a symbol of our province; it will become the symbol of determination to keep our land and our natural resources clean and healthy so that they, like the loon, will survive for millions of years.
Another runner-up, Chris Murray of Owen Sound, wrote this bird represents clean water and a clean environment:
“The loon is well distributed throughout the province of the inland lakes in the spring, summer and fall. It is well recognized by its distinct call across the province. The loon is sensitive to a clean environment and by having it as a provincial symbol, helps people understand the need to improve our natural environment.”
Jeff Birch of Rideau Heights, another runner-up, also noted that the loon is an ancient bird:
“It has been around for thousands of years. The Cree believe that the loon’s cry was the voice of slain warriors calling back to the land of the living. I think we should have it as our bird because Ontario has many, many lakes and almost everyone has seen or heard a loon.” Jeff ended his letter by stating, “It is a pretty bird and Ontario should be very proud of it.”
Charlotte Lillian Matz of Bluevale, another runner-up in the contest saw the loon as a perfect symbol for Ontario:
“I choose the common loon as Ontario’s official bird because it stands for Ontario’s meaning. Ontario is an Indian word that means ‘beautiful water.’ The loon is big and powerful like the province of Ontario. It is easily recognized by its large size, call and distinctive black-and-white colour. People who seldom notice other birds often know of the loon. The call of the loon makes you think of lovely, peaceful water and nature.”
These children and many others feel that the loon will be the best emblem to show this concern and love of our land. With the passage of the Avian Emblem Act, the common loon will become an official symbol of Ontario. It will not only be a symbol of our great wilderness, but will become the symbol of our concern and dedication to maintaining this wilderness not only for ourselves and our children but for countless generations to come.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am pleased to support this bill as presented to the Legislature today asking that the loon be named the official bird of the province. This is an initiative which has really come from a grass-rots level, in that a province-wide contest was held asking children to submit their recommendations in terms of which bird should be selected as the symbol of Ontario. I think it is indicative of the concern and care that residents of the province, particularly children, have for the loon that it has been selected as the bird for the province.
I know that for those of us from northern Ontario, particularly those who have spent many years in cottage country, the sound and the sight of the loon, particularly at dawn or in the early morning, are one of the most wonderful experiences that we can all experience in our magnificent province. The loon is truly a symbol unique to our northern woodlands, one that brings fond memories to me and to many of us, particularly from northern Ontario, who have spent many summers at lakeside. This bird has really been a symbol of the wilderness that we all want to promote in northern Ontario.
The loon has been endorsed as an appropriate symbol for the province by a number of other organizations as well. For example, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has strongly endorsed this selection. I quote Doug Ogston, past president of the OFAH, who says, “We are delighted with the selection and we know the Ontario public shares our views that the sight and sound of the common loon symbolize Ontario wilderness.”
It is also interesting that the same organization had itself selected this magnificent nongame bird as its official logo in 1987 to symbolize its conservation efforts because the loon is so sensitive to environmental change. In many areas of North America, particularly in most states in the United States, the loon has either disappeared or is on the verge of disappearing, with extremely low numbers left. This has been primarily the result of environmental damage and, in particular, acid rain. It has caused decimation in Ontario as well. However, we are fortunate to still have reasonably sized populations throughout our province to this day.
However, concern has to be expressed regarding the future of this bird and many other species of wildlife in Ontario with respect to their future if further controls on our environment are not implemented in the years to come. The breeding success of this bird has been particularly hurt by acid precipitation in our northern lakes, but we are hopeful that controls and regulations on levels of acid rain -- and, hopefully, with significant progress to be made in the United States as well -- will lead to further recovery of this important symbol of wildlife not only in Ontario but in other regions of North America as well.
As well as supporting this initiative today, I would like to express some concerns with respect to the priorities this government has when it comes to our natural resources. This bill was presented by the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger), parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources, and I suppose this gives an indication of the level of interest and the priorities this ministry has concerning initiatives with respect to our resources in the province.
Unfortunately, the ministry with which the parliamentary assistant is involved does not have the funds to be able to undertake new initiatives to improve our resource base in the north, both when it comes to natural resources and the wildlife resources as well. We wish this ministry could come forward with substantive legislation and action for Ontario but unfortunately, in the most recent budget, the ministry’s budget was slashed quite considerably. It was the only ministry in the province to have a reduction in its budget, a reduction of $15 million, which certainly does not indicate a level of support for the development and encouragement of both our wildlife and other natural resources in Ontario.
This three per cent reduction in budget, while most ministries were receiving inflationary increases in the range of five to seven per cent, really indicates this ministry is losing its capability to manage all the resources in the north. This ministry has not been able to take the actions needed to protect jobs in northern Ontario. We have lost 1,700 jobs in the forest industry; in particular, in the lumber section of that industry where this government has not been able to do anything with respect to the 15 per cent export tax that was imposed. We have already seen 1,700 job losses.
In the ministry itself we see serious job cuts under way. When it comes to forest firefighting, the sizes of crews in northern Ontario were cut from five-man crews to three-man crews, resulting in a loss of more than 200 jobs. I think approximately 230 jobs have been lost in our forest firefighting crews and we certainly have to hope this is not going to have serious consequences for our northern forests during the fire season this summer.
When it comes to reforestation, this ministry continues to be totally inadequate in its initiatives to protect our northern forests and, in particular, to regenerate those forests that are being used. The replanting of our forests continues to be well below the levels at which they are being cut down, and this has to be a serious concern for the future of all of us, particularly in northern Ontario.
As well, when it comes to protecting our natural environment, this ministry really has not done the job it should have in terms of protecting wilderness areas and developing and expanding our provincial parks. The Temagami example, I suppose, is the worst illustration of this government’s utter incompetence in being able to protect a very valuable portion of our northern heritage for future generations, a case where not only have those resources not been protected, but also the very valid and serious claims on those lands from our first peoples, the native population of that area, have not been respected at all by this ministry.
I think there is a lot that has to be done with respect to this ministry. This ministry has not been getting the budget it needs to carry out what its real mandate is, which is to protect and provide for resources for Ontario and the protection of our wildlife and natural wilderness beauty.
The loon is an important symbol. It has been a symbol to residents of Ontario who have enjoyed our wilderness areas. I would hope that this ministry takes the action needed so that the loon can be not only a symbol but also actually a flourishing and expanding one, so that more and more of us throughout the province can enjoy that wonderful sound in the early morning at dawn.
Mr Cureatz: As we stagger forth at 1027 in the morning, with the public galleries thronging with interest and curiosity as to what is taking place, I want to take a little different tack in terms of the --
Mr Wildman: I thought you were for seagulls, not loons.
Mr Cureatz: Exactly, and that is why I want to take a little different tack, or might I say flight, in terms of the proposed bill that is before this assembly.
With the limited time that I have, and unaccustomed as I am to speaking, I want to bring to members’ attention, if I may, a quote. This is really good. All the Liberals backbenchers over there, especially the two ministers way at the back, will appreciate this. Listen to this; this is a good one: “I read the bill in its entirety and was somewhat puzzled by it.” Then:
“Ontario has had more than its share of trouble, more than its fair share of unemployment and of all the other ills we have suffered in this province over the past few years. It surprises me that when a colleague from...Ontario brings forth a bill in the Legislature the most important thing the bill addresses itself to is regarding a bird.”
Continuing on: “I am well aware of who proposed this bill.” It was a member of the House. Now, one would ask, who of the learned colleagues who have participated in these chambers in the years gone by would take on such a nasty attitude about a piece of legislation concerning a bird? Do members know who?
Mr Ballinger: Tell us.
Mr Cureatz: This is great. One Don Boudria, back here in 1983 in the Legislative Assembly when he sat there and I was Deputy Speaker -- I have got the Hansard right here -- when my friend and colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock) brought in the legislation proposing the blue jay to be none other than the official bird. Do members know what we got from the rascal Liberals back then? Condemnation. Do members think I would do that? Do they think I should do that?
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Cureatz: Let me just read on. This is really good stuff. I really like this quote; this is just terrific. Just sit on the edges of your seats up there, the four, five, six or seven of you in the gallery. This is really great stuff.
The Deputy Speaker: The member will address his remarks through the Speaker.
Mr Cureatz: Mr Speaker, here is another quote. I forget the date -- let me take a peek. Yes, 24 November 1983, six years ago.
“Notwithstanding my personal liking for the member for Hastings-Peterborough and my support for the principle of Bill 67, surely we as eastern Ontarians -- particularly, as my friend from Stirling will know,” that was Norm Sterling way back when he represented the other riding, “...have more pressing concerns on our public agenda.”
Continuing on: “I thought we might have had a ballot item today dealing with the matters of urgent and pressing concern that affect so many farmers.”
Mr Ballinger: Who said it?
Mr Cureatz: You know who said that?
Mr Ballinger: No, who said it?
Mr Cureatz: The drum rolls: none other than one of the four pony people of the calamity.
Mr Ballinger: I bet it was Nixon.
Mr Cureatz: No, it was not Bob Nixon -- it was not the Treasurer. It was not the Attorney General (Mr Scott); he could not get himself elected way back then; he had to try two or three times. Nor was it the esteemed now Premier (Mr Peterson), when he was the Leader of the Opposition. Who does that leave?
Mr Ballinger: We do not know.
Mr Cureatz: None other than the House leader, Sean Conway, who stood up and condemned my colleague way back then about wasting the assembly’s time bringing in legislation about what the official bird of Ontario should be. That is what he said. Do the members see me making such condemnations? Do they? That is the kind of attitude that is over there in the Liberal government; when they were the opposition, the Liberals would not tolerate such items, but you do not see that taking place.
I do have one or two thoughts and concerns about whether it should indeed be the loon. I was wondering if it should be the chicken, because we had the opportunity of spending time on Sunday shopping, and my friend and colleague the honourable member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan) continually said this government is taking the “chicken way out” on Sunday shopping.
What about the duck? That would be a good one for this nasty government, because they are ducking the issues.
How about one of my favourites? I call it the seagull. I was reprimanded by the member for Peterborough, who said there is no such thing as a seagull; there is only a gull. Whatever the case is, maybe in terms of the recognition of the fact that the gulls are all over the province – more particularly, this government, through the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), has yet to do anything about the garbage crisis in southern Ontario and we have not yet seen what his overall plans are for solving the garbage crisis. Maybe it should be the gull.
What about the buzzard? I like the buzzard, particularly since the Treasurer, Bob Nixon, brought in that new budget that picks the bones of the taxpayers of Ontario.
I really like this one. How about the ostrich? The ostrich would be symbolic of the cabinet, which buries its head in the sand over the great issues that are concerning the people of Ontario. I was really worried, I say to my friend and colleague the member for Durham-York.
Mr Ballinger: Don’t call me your friend.
Mr Cureatz: We are all cognizant of the red tie and how proud they are. I thought it might have been the red-winged blackbird. How about the red-headed woodpecker or maybe the cardinal?
Mr Wildman: Or the yellow-bellied sapsucker?
Mr Cureatz: In connection with my friend and colleague the member for Algoma, I was thinking of an issue more up to date. How about the starling?
And how about, as time progresses on, the way this government is performing now that we are in the final two years of operation, maybe it should be the swan, in recognition of this government s swan-song that is taking place.
The poor loon always seems to be in second place but winds up winning. I remember my friend and colleague the member for Algoma stood up and in a very impassioned speech indicated that the metal dollar coin was supposed to have a canoe on the back, but they lost it -- where else? -- in the mail. So they had to scurry around -- I think the artist is from the member’s riding -- and they came up with the loon on the dollar.
I was thinking I would rather have it be called a loonie than a canoeie. But, once again, the loon was second best and winds up first.
How about when my friend and colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough brought in a similar act which proposed the blue jay on 9 June 1983? It met with some repercussions, none other than from Prince Edward Island, where officials said the Ontario bill should be shot down. “PEI declared the blue jay its official bird six years ago.” I guess that is nine years ago now. “The bill has passed first reading in the Legislature.” That was here. “Yesterday, surprised officials from the island said they were unaware that Ontario was aiming to take their emblem.
“‘It sounds like we’ve got a conflict here,’ said PEI government spokesman Frank Arsonel. ‘If Ontario will give all islanders free tickets to see the real Blue Jays, they might be able to settle the issue.’”
Lo and behold, we could not get the blue jay to be the official bird emblem, and now, second best again, it is the loon. Time marches on. I happen to have come across a book by Terry Degler. That is D-e-g-l-e-r, to all the fine Hansard people who are always phoning me and asking, “How do you spell those fancy words you always say, like ‘churkel’?”
Here is what Terry said in Straight from the Horse’s Mouth and Other Animal Expressions:
“To anyone with a little imagination, the cry of the loon at nightfall on a lonely lake sounds very much like the laugh of the proverbial madman. Indeed, this is the image that most of us have, somewhere in the back of our minds, when we use the word ‘loony,’ especially when we tell someone, just in jest, that he belongs in a loony bin.”
My friend and colleague in his own way expressed, during the time period that he had, along with my friend and colleague from the official opposition, the member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morin-Strom), the maybe more serious aspects of bringing forth the legislation concerning the loon and why it should be the emblem of Ontario.
Let me just conclude by saying there is another aspect, as indicated by this author’s thoughts and concerns and serious investigations about where we get expressions from animal behaviour. If it is, as she has said, that it sounds very much like the laugh of the proverbial madman, all I can say is, what more appropriate place than in these sacred halls, from all of us fine politicians, to approve the loon in Ontario as our official emblem.
Miss Roberts: I am pleased to stand today and speak in support of the bill, and l am very pleased to follow my honourable friend from that area that is known as Durham East, because he gives a new dimension to the loon and to his particular position with respect to an emblem.
He shows that there are two sides to this particular bird and that there are two sides to any animal or person. I think it is very important that we recognize that. I also think it is important to hear another view from someone who has been here for a period of time and we always enjoy the great oration of the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz).
I would like to point out a few things that are extremely important for the rest of us to consider today. One is the economic impact of having an emblem. Whether that emblem is the loon or anything else, it is important that we know that it is going to become a very important feature in our communities.
Members will note today that I am wearing particular earrings and those earrings are loon earrings and they were made in Canada. They provided jobs for people in Canada and I am proud to wear those earrings.
I think it is important to look at the process that we used for choosing this particular emblem, whether it is the blue jay, which has already been chosen by another province, or whether it is the loon. The process to choose the loon was to use the schoolchildren in Ontario. We did use their input and the loon was chosen above more birds than any other in Ontario. I know that the children in Elgin enjoyed participating in that process and putting forward the names of birds to be looked at.
I think the other reason that the loon is an appropriate bird emblem for Ontario is that indeed this bird has been in Ontario for millions of years. Although the bird itself is in the northern part of Ontario or mainly in the northern part, we in the south still support it. Contrary to popular opinion, we in the south at certain times do go north and enjoy the opportunity to hear and to see the loon.
I do not know if it is correct to describe it as the laugh of a madman. I often have heard it described as the laugh of a madwoman as well. We can certainly look at it both ways, but it certainly is a cry that is known in Ontario.
I am going to be very brief in my comments today, because the honourable member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) also wishes to speak concerning this. I would like to just point out that indeed the use of the loon as an emblem will bring pride to many of the people in Ontario. I also think it is important that we, as legislators, make the choice. We must go ahead and develop this particular emblem.
The honourable member for Durham East made some comment that it might be another type of bird, or other birds for other reasons. I think it is important that even he realize there is a necessity to have a bird emblem. I believe that bird emblem should be the loon, as brought forward by the honourable member for Durham-York. Two people so close together seem to have different views on this bill. Maybe they are close together on other points, but on this particular view they are not.
The importance of the emblem to Ontario will be seen in the future. The fact that the trillium was chosen many years ago has certainly been an important adjunct. The fact that the loon is going to be chosen now will have impact in the future. I think the point brought up about the conservation of lands and of wetlands is extremely important. I think the fact we look to the loon as a barometer for our conservation is very important as well.
I hope we understand exactly what is occurring today in choosing the loon. The other thing I find extremely important is that we must take the step whether or not there is other important legislation. That will be heard at other times. This is a private member’s bill to be brought forward to choose a particular bird and I support the loon. I know we in southwestern Ontario support it as the official bird emblem for Ontario. I will give the rest of my time to the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) or other speakers.
Mr Wildman: I think it is really appropriate that we be discussing this morning in this House what my friend the member for Durham East in full flight referred to as a “loonie debate.” I am not sure how many members here realize what this location at Queen’s Park was before it was a Legislature. For those members who are unaware, it was a lunatic asylum, which I have always thought was very appropriate considering what we do around here most of the time.
To now be choosing an avian emblem and to chose the loon as that emblem, I suppose is very appropriate for us in this assembly. I am wondering, though, if it is an omen because in choosing the loon it reminds me of earlier debates. My friend the member for Durham East referred to the famous or infamous debate about the blue jay, and we all know the fate of the Blue Jays since that debate. I am also reminded of an earlier debate in which his friend and my friend the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) introduced a bill to make the white pine the official tree of Ontario. We all know the fate of the white pine in this province. There are almost none left, when at one time it was the most important forestry resource we had in Ontario.
I suppose one has to be careful on this. My friend who spoke most recently from the other side, the member for Elgin (Miss Roberts), said there are two sides to every debate. Sometimes, as we see in the configuration in this House, there are more than two sides. I do not think everything, including loons, is necessarily black and white. The loon is certainly emblematic of Ontario’s wilderness, of Canada’s wilderness really. It has a beautiful lonely call. I cannot agree with the author the member for Durham East quoted who said it sounded like the call of a --
Mr Cureatz: A mad person, a madman.
Mr Wildman: You did not say wild man.
Mr Cureatz: Proverbial madman.
Mr Wildman: It is indeed a lonely call, a sort of sad call, but a beautiful one. I hope that when we are choosing the loon as an avian emblem, we are not choosing that sad tone in looking at the future of our wilderness in Ontario.
My friend the member for Sault Ste Marie pointed out the difficulty the loon has had in reproducing because of pollution by acid rain and the pressure on lakes in northern and eastern Ontario from residential and seasonal cottage development. I wonder if in choosing the loon, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources, the member for Durham-York, is really in a way symbolizing the mismanagement of our natural resources in this province.
The member for Durham East pointed out that the loon in a way is second and always comes out the winner. In this case, the government tried to choose the blue jay and it lost out because Prince Edward Island had already chosen one. In the coin decision with regard to the new dollar coin, because of the mishaps of the mint and Canada Post the choice was made of a loon design by Michael Carmichael, a well-known artist in my constituency. But I hope that image of the lonely loon on a lake in Ontario’s wilderness is not going to meet the same fate as some of the other images on the coins in our currency, whether it be the Bluenose or whatever.
We really do have a serious problem with the mismanagement of our resources in this province and I have some problem with the fact that the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources is getting up and introducing this kind of motion when we see what has been happening in his ministry. My friend the member for Sault Ste Marie mentioned the cuts in funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources. I would like to talk a little bit about what I call the tough vision for the 1990s for the Ministry of Natural Resources and it is indeed a tough vision, both capitalized and uncapitalized.
The watch phrase for that vision is to do more with less. The staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources has been told they will not get the kind of funding that is required for them to properly manage the resources, whether it be the forestry resources, the water resources, the parks or the wilderness of this province.
They have been told instead that the ministry should be responsible for monitoring what the private sector is doing with our resources, that the ministry staff really should be spending time in offices writing up plans and evaluating proposals from the private sector for contracted-out work, whether it be in fire protection -- we are going to be hiring many emergency people from the private sector if we have a major fire emergency this year because we have cut the staff in our fire protection service -- or whether it is in forestry where we are contracting out the replanting of our trees or the parks where there are proposals to expand the contracting out of the management of the parks.
Instead of discussing these very major concerns, particularly in northern Ontario but for the people of the whole province, we are here talking about whether the loon or the blue jay or whatever would make a better avian symbol for this province.
I am lucky enough to own a place on a lake and we enjoy the sounds of the loons and seeing the loons on the lake. It is a beautiful sight. But I think we should be debating in this House how we can ensure that this environment is preserved for future generations of us and of the birds and other wildlife of this province. I do not think we are doing that.
I realize this is indeed private members’ hour and I commend the member for bringing forward this proposal. Sometimes I wonder if we get a little too overly interested in symbols rather than action. We have an official flower for the province that is on the endangered species list. You are not supposed to pick them. We have an official tree in this province that is almost nonexistent in this province. Now we are picking as an avian symbol a bird that is under pressure. Thank goodness it is not an endangered species, but it is under pressure.
I think that instead of just dealing with symbols, we should be talking in this House about how we are going to allocate the resources required to ensure that the loon does not go the way of the white pine or Ontario’s official flower, to ensure that we have lakes that are not polluted and to ensure that we are regenerating and preserving our forests. Instead of cutting the budget for the Ministry of Natural Resources and contracting out jobs to the private sector, we should actually be allocating the funds required to ensure the Ministry of Natural Resources can carry out its mandate to ensure that we do indeed have an environment we can be proud of for future generations in Ontario.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I just want to take a few minutes because my colleague and friend the member for Sudbury wishes to speak. I would like to go on the record as saying that we always exercise the option of a free vote in this Legislature in private members’ hour -- that is what we are doing today -- and I intend to support the bill. My colleague the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham) just mentioned to me that the loon is indeed a beautiful bird and she likes the idea of supporting it as well.
I might just say on behalf of my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough that he is in the hospital this week. It is unfortunate he is not here to speak against this bill because his blue jay bill is still floating around someplace. He was hoping it would land some time, maybe when the other Blue Jays win the pennant.
I feel I should make one comment in support of the member for Durham East, who mentioned that the loon has a very funny call, something like the call of a madman, not a wild man. Perhaps it is appropriate that the member for Durham-York presented this bill.
Mr Campbell: I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of this bill. The loon is a very fitting and appropriate avian symbol for this province. As they say in Hollywood, “Cut to the chase,” because I only have a few minutes and I would like to comment briefly on the selection process for this emblem.
I am very pleased that it was a young man from the town of Walden, Matthew Conroy, who won top honours in the contest among the children of Ontario to select this emblem. Walden lies within the regional municipality of Sudbury and I feel it is very appropriate that a youngster from my region was selected as a representative of the young essayists who all wrote so eloquently on the loon.
Sudbury, as we all know, suffered from the ravages of uncontrolled development and the environmental damage caused was significant. But Sudbury is also the community that banded together and turned this around. The greening of Sudbury is a beautiful sight to us all and I invite all members to come up and see for themselves. With young people such as Matthew, I am certain our environment and our communities will continue to grow in harmony.
In conclusion, I must again compliment the young people of Ontario on their choice of an official bird for our province. There can be no doubt that this emblem is fitting, appropriate and very timely.
Mr Ballinger: Let me begin by thanking the member for Sault Ste Marie for his support, the member for Elgin for her very eloquent support, and also the member for Algoma -- although slightly strained support, I appreciate it very much -- the member for Sudbury from my own caucus, and the member for Durham East, my good friend and neighbouring colleague.
What can we say about the member for Durham East? The member for Durham East spent some time relating various species of birds to our caucus. I was wondering how he was tying that into Bill 27, currently before us, when we were discussing symbols, but quite frankly I say to the member for Durham East that there are at least two avian symbols that come to mind that I think represent him very well. Probably the first might be the symbol of the dodo bird.
Mr Cureatz: Extinct.
Mr Ballinger: Well, no, it is a bird that runs all over the place flapping and really does not accomplish very much.
Second, another symbol might be the crow. That is one the member for Durham East forgot.
Mr Wildman: Why, because he’s always ravin’?
Mr Ballinger: No, because he has fouled his own nest on more than one occasion.
Mr Cureatz: That’s true.
Mr Ballinger: I also want to thank the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) for his support. We appreciate it very much.
All kidding aside, this particular discussion about making the loon a symbol for Ontario is a very important one. It has been selected through a contest by the children of Ontario, the future generation, who are somewhat concerned.
In a brief conversation I had with the member for London North, she said she believes very strongly that this is a wise selection because there is fear in Ontario of the extinction of the loon. It is important we symbolize this we work towards making sure that the loon does not become extinct in Ontario.
The mere fact is that the member for London North, when she was chatting with me, explained that Ontario in itself, the people of Ontario, have mostly already adopted this as a symbol anyway. You cannot go anywhere in Ontario without loon memorabilia. Everywhere you go, whether it is in photos, paintings, etchings or carvings --
An hon member: Or earrings.
Mr Ballinger: -- the loon earrings, as the member for Elgin pointed out -- it has really now been chosen by the majority of the people of Ontario. When tourists come to this province, all you have to do is see all the loon artefacts on sale in this province and it would indicate that there is already very strong support out there.
Mr Spook -- Mr Speaker --
Mr Ballinger: I was spooked. I have been spooked by the member for Durham East.
Emblems are chosen because they symbolize for us some of the best aspects of this province. They symbolize Ontario as we see it and as we want others to see it. Ontario is a province with a vital heritage. The loon symbolizes this heritage because it is one of the most ancient birds native to our province. In fact, as I said earlier, the loon family has been around for almost 20 million years.
Ontario is a province of magnificent wilderness areas, of rivers and lakes and fish. In fact, the name Ontario is thought to be derived from the Iroquois word “skandandario,” meaning “beautiful lake.” Loons are one of the most beautiful inhabitants of any of our provincial lakes.
The loon also represents something beyond the wilderness itself. Many of our children who wrote about the loon in their contest entries described their feelings at seeing a loon or hearing its haunting call. They were describing their own experiences of Ontario’s outdoors and they were worried about its future.
We all know that if we can keep our land and our natural resources clean and healthy, our wildlife will remain healthy. That is important to all of us. The loon is extremely sensitive to changes in its environment and is affected by human activity. I think by choosing the loon as our avian emblem we can make it a symbol, to ourselves and to others, of our concern for a quality environment. It will become a sign of our commitment to a healthy environment. It will become a signal that our beautiful wilderness will become part of the heritage we will pass onto our children and to future generations.
In conclusion, I want to say that I believe the children of Ontario have made a wise choice in our official avian emblem; the loon will represent important aspects of what we as Ontarians hold dear to our hearts. I look forward to the support of every member of the House in passing second reading of the bill.
Miss Martel moved resolution 11:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that those directly affected by the government’s attempt to reform workers’ compensation -- labour groups, injured workers and their advocates -- are overwhelmingly opposed to Bill 162 and want it scrapped, the government of Ontario should immediately withdraw Bill 162 and begin a real process of consultation with the stakeholders to bring in needed, progressive reform to workers’ compensation in Ontario.
The Acting Speaker: The member is reminded she has up to 20 minutes for her presentation and may reserve any portion thereof.
Miss Martel: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do have some formal comments I would like to place on the record, and I do hope to leave time at the end to respond to comments which I know will come from my colleagues on both this side and the government side.
I think it is most appropriate for me to begin by acknowledging that Thursday, 1 June 1989, the day this motion was originally scheduled to be debated, was Injured Workers’ Day. Injured workers were again demonstrating outside this Legislature. They were here for two reasons. First of all, and somewhat ironically, they were here, in fact, to celebrate.
Many members of this House would not know that six years ago, on 1 June 1983, injured workers in Ontario won a major victory when they forced a standing committee of this Legislature to hold public hearings on the steps outside of this building. It had never been done before. It has not been done since.
The standing committee at that time was the standing committee on resources development. It was holding public hearings on the Conservative government’s white paper on changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act. The victory came when the committee was forced to move its deliberations in order to accommodate the overwhelming number of injured workers who came here to protest that white paper.
Injured workers in the province and in particular in Metropolitan Toronto continue to celebrate that day when the ordinary folk in this province actually forced the government to listen to their concerns. Many would say that, in fact, the government of the day actually heard and reacted to their concerns. When Bill 101 was introduced in this Legislature, the dual award system, which they had come to protest about, was not included in that bill.
The second reason that injured workers were here again two weeks ago was to protest, as they were here six years ago to protest. It is an irony that the focus of their protest six years ago was a proposed dual award system to compensate for permanent disabilities. It was essentially the same dual award system that the Liberal government has put in place in Bill 162.
There is a difference, in that in the Tory proposal the age discrimination, which is an inherent part of the lump sum award, began at age 40. In Bill 162 the discrimination begins at age 45. But no matter what way you cut it, it is still discrimination. The Ontario Human Rights Commission, when it came before the committee during public hearings, said the same thing.
The second difference is that the Tory wage-loss system in 1983 was actually fairer than what the Liberals have proposed in Bill 162. The practice of deeming, or the board’s best guess of what an injured worker can earn, was only allowed when a worker actually refused a job which was suitable and had been offered to him or to her.
The Liberals on the committee at that time argued for, and in the end supported, defining the terms “suitable” and “available” to cut out unnecessary Workers’ Compensation Board discretion.
The member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr Wrye) said:
“I view writing an act without a definition of the words ‘suitable’ and ‘available,’ leaving all of that discretionary power to jurisprudence or the board or a combination of both, as extremely frustrating.”
He said further:
“Those of us who are elected by injured workers and a whole lot of other people ought to have the political courage to begin to define those words. If we do not have the political courage, I quite frankly do not understand what the hell we are doing here.”
I have to wonder what in fact we are doing here. In Bill 162, not only are the words “suitable” and “available” not defined, but in fact the practice of deeming is allowed, whether or not an injured worker has a job offer, whether or not he or she has training for that job, whether or not he or she has done that job before and so on and so on. It is a far cry from what the Liberal Party argued against six short years ago. It is interesting to note that times change, and the Liberal position on this issue certainly has as well since a majority government was won in 1987.
From the outset, injured workers, their advocates and labour have opposed this bill. Nowhere was that sentiment more clearly heard than during the course of public hearings on this bill. The overwhelming majority of the over 300 groups that came before the committee made their position very clear: Bill 162 could not be fixed; it could not be tinkered with; it could not be re-amended. In short, the bill had to be withdrawn completely.
The Peel and area council of the Canadian Auto Workers said this:
“It is our opinion, however, that amendments will not correct Bill 162 since it is fundamentally flawed and should be discarded.”
United Steelworkers of America District 6 director Leo Gerard noted this:
“Bill 162 must be withdrawn. Its fundamental flaws cannot be corrected by amending the bill in its present form. Workers in Ontario will continue to be unjustly treated unless Bill 162 is withdrawn and replaced by just and equitable amendments.”
The Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees put it this way: “Bill 162 should not be implemented, nor should it be further amended.”
Finally, and very simply, the Union of Injured Workers and their advocates said this: “Bill 162 must be set aside. It is not worth amending.”
The minister’s weak-kneed amendments, which he introduced in committee some three weeks ago, do nothing to change this position. In fact, they are noteworthy for their complete lack of substance, especially after all we heard during the course of the public hearings.
For example, rehabilitation is still not a statutory right for injured workers. The lump sum award is still miserly; it is still based on age discrimination. Deeming is alive and well; there is no way to check its abuse under this act. There are still exemptions and still time limitations in the reinstatement section in spite of the fact that these are not allowed under the Human Rights Code. The WCB still has more discretionary power than ever before, and so on and so on.
These are types of concerns that the resources committee heard over and over again during the course of the public hearings, but this government did not listen to what those people had to say.
Those presenters who came before the committee and asked frankly whether there was any point to having public hearings and whether in fact their concerns were going to be listened to had every right to be cynical and critical of this government, because in fact this government did not listen to what the overwhelming majority had to say.
If the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) had listened, he would have withdrawn the bill, because that is exactly what labour, the injured workers’ groups, the legal clinics and their advocates said when they came before the committee.
On the important point of consultation, it is safe to say that none of the stakeholders in this system had any input into this bill before it was introduced.
My colleagues and I on the committee made it a point to ask a large number of groups whether they had been consulted about the bill before it was introduced. In each case, we were told that discussions took place after the bill was introduced or discussions did not take place at all. This came from some of the major stakeholders in the system, from those people who deal with compensation and this act every day on behalf of injured workers.
Any changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act must surely come about only after all of the stakeholders have been consulted and there has been dialogue.
It is interesting to note that it was only after Bill 162 was introduced that the minister then established the advisory committee for the green paper. The order in council which established the advisory committee says this:
“Whereas the Minister of Labour deems it advisable to obtain the opinions of various representatives of the workplace in respect of workers’ compensation, there is established a group to be known as the Workers’ Compensation Reform Advisory Group to advise the Minister of Labour on the subject of reform under the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
Why did this happen after Bill 162 was introduced? Why were the issues not raised in Bill 162 given to the green paper committee to deal with? I think the answer is very clear and it was best summed up by the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto and York Region, which came before the committee and said this:
“The intended bias of this legislation, in our opinion, is obvious from the start. If the legislation was sincerely intended to meet the needs of injured workers, why is it then that their organizations were not consulted in the drafting of these changes?”
I think the answer is simple: This legislation is not intended in any way, shape or form to meet the needs of injured workers.
It is completely inappropriate for the minister to say, as he has on several occasions, that Bill 162 is a result of years of discussion on how to reform workers’ compensation in this province. The ministry pamphlet which advertises Bill 162 says this, and I quote:
“These changes” -- meaning Bill 162 -- “are the result of a great deal of study. In 1985, the Ontario government commissioned research on how best to compensate injured workers and how to help them resume earning a living. After these studies were completed, the government talked to representatives of labour and business and injured workers themselves to put together a plan for a better, fairer system of workers’ compensation. The changes that are being introduced are based on that plan. Overall, these changes will not add to the cost of workers’ compensation because they involve a better use of existing funds. All of the changes are included in Bill 162.”
I have to say that that is utterly misleading and utterly inappropriate. Let me say why. Two issues alone have really dominated the issue of workers’ compensation reform in the past number of years. Those two issues include compensation for permanent disabilities and rehabilitation services offered by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
In the case of compensation of permanent disabilities, Professor Paul Weiler has recommended since 1980 that the government of the day adopt a dual award system to replace the present monthly pension. He did so one more time in 1986 in his third report which is entitled Permanent Partial Disability: Alternative Models for Compensation.
In 1981, the then Tory government did incorporate Professor Weiler’s scheme into its white paper. During the course of public hearings on that white paper during 1982 and 1983, that dual award scheme was overwhelmingly rejected by labour, by injured workers’ groups and by their advocates.
In 1981, the then Tory government did incorporate Professor Weiler’s scheme into its white paper. During the course of public hearings on that white paper in 1982 and 1983, that dual award scheme was overwhelmingly rejected by labour, by injured workers’ groups and by their advocates.
Bill 162, as I said earlier, duplicates that same dual award system with minor changes. In fact, a dual award system proposed under Bill 162 is even more unfair when it comes to the practice of deeming. That system too was resoundingly rejected during the course of public hearings on this bill by labour, by injured workers’ groups and by their advocates.
There has never been any consensus on how to adopt a dual award system in this province since the idea was first conceived in 1980. There has never been any consensus on how to bring a dual award system into place in this province.
The second issue, which has been a topic of major concern about compensation for the last number of years, concerns rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation became a focus of concern in particular in 1985 because rehabilitation services at the WCB were so bad and there was so much criticism that the government was forced to establish a task force to deal with the situation and make recommendations.
That task force, Majesky-Minna, was made up of representatives from labour, business and the medical community. Over the course of several months, they toured 19 communities in this province. They held public hearings in 19 communities, heard from hundreds of people and received hundreds of briefs about how bad rehabilitation was.
Their final report condemned the WCB in terms of rehabilitation services. That committee further recommended 84 changes that should be made to overhaul the delivery of rehabilitation to ensure that workers received rehabilitation and appropriate rehabilitation.
Those recommendations do not appear in this bill, nor has the WCB put them in place in its new rehabilitation strategy announced in April 1988. Although the minister has tried to suggest that they do appear in the bill or they do appear at the WCB, we have heard otherwise. In fact, in May 1988, Wally Majesky, one of the co-chairmen of that task force, held a press conference in this building and said that in fact the Worker’s Compensation Board had rejected 87 per cent of the recommendations put forward by that task force on how to change the system.
During the course of the public hearings, Bernie Young, United Steelworkers of America representative, who was a member of that task force, came before the committee and said that the recommendations of the task force did not appear anywhere in Bill 162.
Two million dollars of government money, months and months of hard work by a conscientious group trying to do a good job, and that report has effectively been shelved by this government.
There was consensus on how to change rehabilitation. This government did not have the guts the implement those changes.
The compensation system in this province is not working and we all know it, but this bill will do absolutely nothing to improve a terrible situation. That was the message the resources committee heard throughout the course of the public hearings; that, and a call on this government to withdraw the bill.
On behalf of all of those labour groups, all of the injured workers’ groups and their advocates who oppose this bill, I call on this government to withdraw Bill 162 and begin a real process of consultation to change the system.
Mr McLean: I welcome this opportunity to say a few words on the resolution from the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) calling on the Ontario government to withdraw Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, and to begin the consultation process aimed at the progressive reform of the workers’ compensation system in this province.
The key points of Bill 162 include replacing the current so-called meat chart system with a new dual system which would compensate injured workers on the basis of projected income of future earnings or income and non-economic losses, such as the effect upon lifestyle associated with permanent injuries; a mandatory reinstatement policy for many employers under certain conditions, and an increase in the compensation ceiling which would see the maximum gross earnings on which benefits are calculated and assessments are determined increase from 140 per cent to 175 per cent of the average industrial wage for Ontario or $35,100 per annum to $44,000 per annum.
Workers’ rehabilitation policy would require the WCB to contact the injured workers within 45 days of their injuries and provide prompt rehabilitation counselling where necessary. Injured workers who have not returned to employment within six months of an injury would be entitled to a formal evaluation of their vocational rehabilitation needs.
I cannot help but agree with my colleague the member for Sudbury East when she demands that the government withdraw Bill 162. I agree with her that this piece of legislation should be withdrawn, but for different reasons. Both employees and workers have legitimate concerns about the proposed amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Employers are concerned because they will be asked to contribute more money to the system they believe is already giving away far too much. They are concerned because they feel the scope of the compensation benefits is out of hand.
Employers are concerned that management controlled decisions are being taken out of their hands and placed in those of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, which has no cost responsibility and therefore often gives overly generous compensation awards, according to them.
Employers are concerned because they argue that injuries supposedly suffered in the workplace are often questionable. The list of concerns raised by both sides goes on and on.
A construction company I am aware of has hired extra trucks. The WCB indicates that they have to insure the trucks they hire, yet they have no say over whether they are safe, whether they need new tires or new springs, or whether they need to be fixed. Yet, this owner-operator is to pay for compensation of trucks that he hires. He has a concern with that and rightly so. I would think that if you owned your own truck, you would pay your compensation.
Another person wrote to me with regard to a small meat-packing plant that he owns, with six to eight employees. They have paid approximately $20,000 in compensation in three years and have had hardly any claims. So, employers are concerned.
I want to tell the members about an employee, a personal friend of mine -- as a matter of fact, a relation, my brother-in-law -- who had his arm severed between the wrist and the elbow in the workplace last October. When you talk to people who have been injured, who have gone through and dealt with the Workers’ Compensation Board and have had several operations, psychologically, there is a problem.
This individual is wondering in two years’ time or less what he is going to be doing, what he will be doing for the next 25 years that he is able to work or should be able to work. What type of a salary is he going to be able to make? Is he going to be capable of doing what he likes doing?
This is only just one of the people that you hear of, and the closer you are to these people, the more you know of their concern and the concern that they are raising. There are very few people who are injured who do not want to work; they want to get back to work, but there are many who cannot do what they had enjoyed doing in the past. So, the workers are concerned.
We got a pretty clear indication of this when more than 200 injured workers stormed the Legislature because they opposed lower compensation benefits, objected to small lump sum payments in place of permanent pensions; they opposed a continued strong role played by the WCB physicians; they argued that temporary benefits would be severely restricted under the new system; they opposed wage loss payments based on the types of jobs; they objected to increased insecurity in old age and argued that rehabilitation would be virtually nonexistent. Like the employers’, the list of workers’ objections and concerns is endless.
The Workers’ Compensation Act was designed and passed in law in 1915. Today, the WCB has become a nightmare, a bureaucratic maze that is stifling the work that it was set up to accomplish, and the concerns and priorities are being lost in the process. I believe the WCB is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing bureaucracies in the government. The WCB is completely out of control.
I sincerely believe that we are all in agreement with the principles of the Workers’ Compensation Act and I believe that we all support the proposed aim of Bill 162, which is to give the injured workers of Ontario and their employers the fairest deal possible.
I must add that the amendments to Bill 162 do not accomplish their goal. Workers are upset because they feel they will be getting less than they had before. The employers who fund the entire administration of benefits paid out by the board are upset because they feel they have no control over their own money.
I believe that Bill 162, with its amendments and proposals, amounts to ineffective tinkering. The act is mired down and tangled in layer after layer of administration, which makes it almost impossible to get things done efficiently.
I support this resolution and believe that one of two approaches should be taken to the Workers’ Compensation Act. The first approach should be to have a royal commission look into the affairs of the WCB. This proposal is supported by both workers and employers alike, but the government failed to respond positively to this idea when it was first proposed in 1987.
The second approach involves withdrawing Bill 162 and bringing in a completely new act which will really address the concerns of both the employer and the employees. However, I doubt the government, with its huge majority, will go for this idea either. We have already seen what the government has in mind for the standing orders of this Legislature. The government will use its massive majority to ram through changes to the rules of the House that will ultimately permit this government to do what it wants and leave the opposition parties with absolutely no rights. This move is completely anti-democratic and it is just one more display of this government’s arrogance. It is called, “the gag law.”
If the government can use its huge majority to try to take the heat off the recent politician payment scandals, or to ram through undemocratic changes to the rules of this House, how can workers and employers be expected to see any positive changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act that will result in fairness for both sides? I think that is just wishful thinking.
I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some of the concerns I have with the Workers’ Compensation Board, and more specifically, about Bill 162. In Ontario, the program’s unfunded liability is far and away the highest, compared to every other province in Canada, and it is getting worse. With all the emphasis on safety programs and all of the effort being invested in initiatives to rehabilitate injured workers, the record shows we are losing the battle.
In 1980 the average duration of lost time was 23.5 days. It is now 50 per cent higher at 34 days. In 1980 the number of weeks of benefits was 4.7. It is now 6.8. Both of these trends have a tremendous impact on cost and ultimately on rates. In 1987 there were 230 workers killed in industrial accidents. That is about one for every working day, and a cost in human life that is clearly unacceptable.
Between 1979 and 1987, the number of disabling injuries has increased by 61 per cent. I have serious concerns about the lack of an effective rehabilitation program for injured workers. It is both cost effective and far more acceptable for injured workers to get back on the job, if possible, and as soon as possible.
Bill 162 does not address any of my concerns about the administration costs associated with the current system. I feel that the reforming of the system, making it more responsive and more cost effective, either by way of a royal commission or at least by introducing some substantive changes, is long overdue.
Mrs Sullivan: I am sure it will come as no surprise to members to know that I will be speaking in opposition to the resolution of the member for Sudbury East. I also want members to know that I think it is refreshing to be able to engage in debate on the content of Bill 162, rather than the histrionics, the obfuscations, and indeed the simplifications of the issues associated with the bill which we have witnessed at every stage in the presentation of that bill.
Like other members, I have no illusions about the position of the New Democratic Party on the basic principle of the bill. The introduction of the dual award system is clearly something that they do not like. I understand their argumentation, I understand the principles behind their opposition to the dual award system, and I understand that this is not a new position for the NDP, that from the first Weiler report that party has been consistent in its opposition.
I disagree with their position, but I want to be able to get on with the debate and to deal with the substantive matters associated with the operation of workers’ compensation and how it can be improved to meet today’s needs.
We all know that the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Workers’ Compensation Act need reform. Bill 162 addresses much of that need. As well, the board’s own response to the Minna-Majesky report, its internal operating reorganization, its own recognition of its shortcomings in unfunded liability and vocational rehabilitation services and its own credibility to workers and employers have led it to make attempts to improve those shortcomings.
Every member recognizes that injured workers have not always been treated with the fairness and respect they deserve. We know that employers also feel they are not getting good value for their WCB dollar and that they want their employees back at work with them in a fit condition and without rancour.
The government certainly knows there are serious problems with workers’ compensation in Ontario and it is earnestly working to fix those problems. Any further delay, as suggested in this resolution, would be irresponsible, in my view.
The members opposite have spent some time trying to paint Bill 162 as a regressive step rather than the progressive legislation that it is. I want to reiterate the comments made at the opening of second reading debate by the Minister of Labour. “Bill 162 represents a conclusion of one round of historic reforms to the system and constitutes the beginning of another.”
Ontario is not the first province to introduce a dual award system into workers’ compensation. Bill 162 improves upon the dual award system first pioneered by a New Democratic government in Saskatchewan some 10 years ago. Dual award is becoming the norm of reform in workers’ compensation throughout the country. Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland have all adopted dual award systems. Nova Scotia announced in April of this year that it will be introducing a dual award system there and Alberta is making warm noises about the introduction of a dual award system. There are no political stripes attached. It is a choice of what will make the system work for employees and for employers.
Bill 162 does four things. It introduces the dual award system to compensate workers with permanent impairments resulting from a workplace injury, it establishes a new statutory framework to provide for effective vocational rehabilitation to be provided on a timely basis to all injured workers who require this assistance in order to return to active participation in the workforce, it places some very real obligations upon employers to re-engage injured workers as soon as they are able to return to work and it makes provision for additional vocational rehabilitation and supplementary benefits to workers already injured and being compensated under the existing system.
The bill does other things, as well. It increases the earnings-covered ceiling so that it will be permanently fixed at 175 per cent of the average industrial wage for Ontario. Given that in 1988 the average industrial wage is estimated at $25,000, the new ceiling provision, if in effect today, would produce an earnings-covered ceiling of some $44,000. In fact, the ceiling will be higher when the bill comes into force as the average industrial wage will have risen by then. But as it is, it is a significant increase from the current ceiling of $36,600.
Bill 162 has received full public hearings through the committee stage and despite her suggestions that throughout the hearings the government would not pay any attention, the government clearly paid attention. From the oral and written interventions and other consultations, shortcomings and limitations of the bill have been considered, analysed and addressed. Not only has the government listened, but the government has responded.
The Minister of Labour has tabled with the standing committee a package of substantial amendments for its consideration. The amendments are intended to clarify some of the aspects of the statute which, given the language used, have been open to unintended interpretations; to strengthen certain provisions of the bill and to respond to criticisms of the bill.
Those amendments have been put forward to ensure that Ontario’s workers’ compensation system is fairer and more effective than is presently the case. When implemented, Bill 162 will ensure that workers injured in the future are compensated fairly for the impact the injury has on their lives. It will do this in two ways: providing a compensation award for the noneconomic consequences of an injury and by providing compensation for the loss in earnings capacity suffered by the worker.
One of the issues raised before the committee was whether the Workers’ Compensation Board is given too much discretion to set a final wage loss award for a term which ends before the worker reaches the age of 65. That was certainly not the government’s intent, and to make that point clear the government has proposed an amendment to clarify that the loss-of-earnings benefit will be paid until age 65. The bill, as written, does not, as the member for Sudbury East has previously stated, give the WCB a free rein in determining projected lost earnings capacity.
As originally drafted, the bill sets out a number of factors that are to be taken into account when establishing the criteria which will be used to determine projected wage loss. These criteria will be set out in the regulations and will be based upon such objective factors as the worker’s personal and vocational characteristics, the availability of suitable employment, the net average earnings before the injury, the net average earnings, if any, at the time of the assessment and prospects for successful vocational and medical rehabilitation.
Furthermore, the board, in determining what the worker is able to earn, will have to look at the worker’s actual post-injury experience. Thus, when the injured worker returns to suitable employment and suffers a loss of earnings, the bill requires that the WCB shall have regard to actual earnings when it is calculating the worker’s future loss of earnings.
However, to give even greater clarity to the government’s intention, the Minister of Labour has proposed a modification to the bill which spells out in even greater detail what factors are to be taken into account when determining what constitutes suitable and available employment. The WCB will have regard to the following: the fitness of the worker to perform the work, the health and safety consequences to the worker in the specific work environment, the existence and location of employment opportunities and the likelihood of the worker securing employment. This addition to the bill should finally dispel any notion that the WCB will base its earnings-loss determination on phantom jobs.
The awarding of an amount for noneconomic loss is fundamentally a medical rather than a legal or an administrative decision, and while the government has every confidence in the professionalism of medical practitioners in the employ of the WCB, others have a different view. Nevertheless, it is important that the assessment not only be an impartial professional analysis, but also be seen to be so. Therefore, the government has proposed an amendment to the bill which will enable the worker to select a physician from a roster of independent practitioners.
There are many more changes, many more improvements that have been put forward in the amendments to the bill that the committee is waiting anxiously to consider. Bill 162 will put Ontario’s workers’ compensation system at the forefront of workers’ compensation programs on this continent. I urge all members to support Bill 162 and oppose the resolution before them.
Mr B. Rae: I want to start by responding to the last point that was made by the member for Halton Centre. It just will not do to say that this puts the WCB at the forefront in North America. If that were the case, I say to the member, why would every single workers’ organization in this province be opposed, why would every injured workers’ organization be opposed? Does she think that a progressive coalition in Arkansas, California or any part of North America could possibly be put together to reform workers’ compensation in a progressive way that did not include those people who were affected by the changes?
The only people who are in favour of this, in addition to members of the Liberal Party and the bureaucrats at the WCB and in the Ministry of Labour, are management people, corporate executives, across the province.
Mr Epp: And the NDP in Saskatchewan.
Mr B. Rae: I say to the member who just heckled: When was the last time the president of Inco, the president of Ford, the president of Stelco, the president of any other major industrial company or of any major construction company, Mr Del Zotto or anybody else, had to go down to the WCB and say, “I have not had my payments for the last two years”? When was the last time they had to explain to the WCB that they were having to lose their house because the payments were not coming through because they had been denied a pension? If these are the people who are in favour of the reform, just on a gut reaction that is a good enough reason to oppose it.
One has to look beyond the simple reality that every single organized group of workers in this province has stated its complete opposition to Bill 162 and its determination to defeat Bill 162. I would say to the Liberal Party: This is the first major reform of workers’ compensation since 1915 which has not had the support, the consensus and the approval of the people who are going to be affected by these changes. This is the first change that has ever been imposed on working people against their will. Every other major reform in legislation since 1915 has had the support of the millions of workers who are going to be affected by these changes.
The bill has three major problems with it that are fundamental, that go to the root of the issue and that speak very directly to the concerns of working people.
Le premier problème avec ce projet de loi, c’est que la proposition du Parti libéral va changer la Loi sur les accidents du travail et va créer encore un système de bien-être social. Nous ne voulons pas de système de bien-être pour indemniser les gens dont les problèmes et les maladies ont été causés par leur travail ; nous demandons un système de justice.
We want a justice system for people who have been injured on the job. We want an insurance system for people who have been injured on the job. We do not want a welfare system for people who have been injured on the job. That is the fundamental difference between us and the Liberal Party.
I will speak very directly to the question that has been raised about the changes that have been made in other provinces. I think we ought to learn from those changes. I think we ought to recognize that the party that brought in those changes in Saskatchewan now feels that that system needs changing; that that system is not working; that it is producing a situation where a great many workers are being denied benefits and where the level of benefits for workers is in fact lower than it would otherwise have been.
The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan), said that we had been consistent in our approach to the Weiler report since 1981. She is quite right. I was here when the Weiler report first came down, and I can tell her that her colleagues in the Liberal Party, some of whom are still there, were initially opposed to Weiler as well. So the charge of consistency is one that I accept, but it is not one that can be applied to her own party or to her own colleagues.
I think we have to recognize that the move to create a welfare system out of workers’ compensation will be a tragedy for injured workers. It is a mistake of historic proportions. I go back to my fundamental point. Why are we imposing changes on workers that they do not want? It is workers who are the beneficiaries of this legislation and who are affected by this legislation. Company executives do not get injured on the job; workers get injured on the job. If a bill is not acceptable to those workers, then I can tell members it is not acceptable to me and it is not acceptable to the New Democratic Party.
Second, I think we have to recognize and see very clearly that, government speeches notwithstanding, this bill does much less in the field of vocational rehabilitation and on the question of reinstatement than the government would hold out; much less indeed.
We know full well that the thrust of the Majesky-Minna report was to say two things: That workers have a right to work and a right to rehabilitation and that indeed the whole thrust of the WCB needed to be changed in order to put working and rehabilitation at the very centre of the work of the board.
Well, what has been done? First of all, there is no right to rehabilitation. There is no such right contained in this bill. In fact, the wording of the act is the exact opposite. The Acting Speaker, as a lawyer with some experience in this field, will understand this distinction.
The bill says that workers have a right to an assessment, so that everybody will get assessed. But that worker having been assessed, the discretion of the board as to what to offer that worker is complete and total. It is fully within the discretion of the board to offer and organize a rehabilitation program and it is fully within the discretion of the board not to do so.
That is a decision which, being fully in the discretion of the board, in effect denies the ability of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal to effectively review because the discretion of the board is as total as it is, is stated to be as total as it is. Section 86n is still there in terms of the power it gives to the board in its determination of its decisions, but I can say to the members of the Liberal Party, if any of them believe that this bill says anything about a right to rehabilitation, they should read the bill.
On reinstatement, we are nowhere near where the Liberal Party says we ought to be. The Majesky-Minna report stated categorically that there needed to be assurances that workers would get their jobs back and that there would be some legal obligations on employers to take workers back. Those rights are so circumscribed in this bill, and indeed do not even apply in full form in whole sectors of our economy, that literally millions of workers are effectively outside this so-called protection.
So what do we have? We have a bill being imposed against the will of working people. We have a bill on compensation that breaks faith with our 75-year social contract with the working people of this province when it comes to compensation: “Give up your right to sue and we’ll create a system which you can be part of, which is your system. Give up that right to sue and you’ll have an insurance system of which you can be proud.” That contract has been broken. It does not provide for a right to rehabilitation and it effectively circumscribes and limits very dramatically the right to reinstatement.
The member for Halton Centre says she is looking forward to the debate and she enjoys participating in the debate. I can tell her we have a very profound difference of opinion on this question. We think the government is wrong; we think what the government is doing is in fact unconscionable. It is an issue which we intend to continue to fight.
Mr Lipsett: I am pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this important debate today. I would like to address my remarks particularly to the rehabilitation and the reinstatement to work that this bill offers, because from the moment that it took office this government has expressed its concern about vocational rehabilitation and employment efforts on behalf of injured workers.
In May 1986, the member for Windsor-Sandwich, then Minister of Labour, appointed the Ontario Task Force on the Vocational Rehabilitation Services of the Workers’ Compensation Board. The task force was asked to do a number of things.
In its review, the task force recommended that workers have a statutory right to vocational rehabilitation. I believe that Bill 162 does that. No, it is not an unlimited right: There must be an evaluation to determine whether a vocational rehabilitation program will be of assistance to the injured worker.
Members opposite have suggested that every worker who suffers a permanent injury should receive vocational rehabilitation if the worker requests it, but, given that the vast majority of injured workers are able to return to work without vocational rehabilitation, that would be a misuse of workers’ compensation resources.
The task force recommended that the act be amended to spell out the definition of what rehabilitation means. The task force’s clear intent was to ensure that the whole person is dealt with, not just a physical impairment. We do not disagree. We considered introducing a definition but chose instead to maintain the current flexibility by leaving rehabilitation undefined, rather than inevitably limiting it by giving it a definition.
Instead, the bill defines the services that can be provided through a vocational rehabilitation program. To give greater certainty to the bill’s vocational rehabilitation services, the Minister of Labour has tabled amendments with the standing committee considering the bill, which will define what the vocational rehabilitation assessment is to include and what services may be provided as a vocational service to the injured worker.
The task force recommended that all cases that have been opened for more than 30 days be referred to vocational rehabilitation service. We considered that but were reminded that there are many cases where a worker will recover fully, but the recovery takes longer than 30 days. Indeed, some 80 per cent of injured workers are back to work within 45 days of their injury. Automatically referring everyone after 30 days would be inappropriate, impractical and again a misuse of scarce resources.
The route we chose instead is to use a two-step process. First, the Workers’ Compensation Board is obligated by Bill 162 to contact the injured worker if he is still off work 45 days after the injury. The purpose is to determine if the worker requires any vocational services. Unfortunately, 45 days after an injury is sometimes too soon to determine the rehabilitation needs of an injured worker. So Bill 162 provides that where a worker has not returned to work within six months of the injury, the board is obligated to offer the worker a formal vocational rehabilitation assessment.
That is not to say that the WCB has to wait six months before providing such assessment, but if the worker is not back to work, already receiving rehabilitation services or involved in a rehabilitation program, then the worker has the right to require the WCB to undertake a vocational rehabilitation assessment.
The amendments tabled by the Minister of Labour clarify these provisions by making it clear that upon receipt of the assessment, the WCB in having regard for the assessment is to consult with the worker and then make a determination as to the need of a rehabilitation program, all within 30 days. This time line will be added to the bill to make it clear that there should be no delays in the provision of this service.
When the WCB determines that a worker will benefit from a rehabilitation program, then the board is further obligated to consult with the worker and, where possible, with the employer and the worker’s physician in designing the program. This involvement of the injured worker in his rehabilitation program goes beyond anything recommended by the task force.
The task force did recommend that where the injured worker disagreed with the vocational rehabilitation program being established for him, the worker maintains the right to appeal. Bill 162 does not in any way preclude such appeals through the board or to the WCAT.
The task force also recommended that injured workers have a right to return to their pre-injury job; or where the worker is no longer capable of performing that job, to return the worker to another job in the same enterprise. In some respects, Bill 162 goes further on that recommendation than the task force recommended.
First of all, the bill obligates employers to reinstate all injured workers in their former positions, or where that is not possible, in an alternative job of a similar nature with the same pay.
Second, where the worker is unable to perform the essential duties of that position, the employer is obligated to offer the first suitable position that becomes open.
Third, the minister has tabled an amendment to the bill that will place on employers a similar obligation to accommodate injured workers as is set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code. This additional obligation will require the employer to modify either the work or the workplace as long as to do so would not place an undue hardship upon the employer. The employer is also obligated to file the plan modification with the Workers’ Compensation Board. As well, the bill makes provision for WCB assistance to employers in their efforts to modify the workplace as part of the vocational rehabilitation program.
Fourth, and this is where the bill begins to go farther than the task force recommendations, the WCB is authorized to penalize any employer found in violation of re-employment provisions.
Fifth, in addition, during the injured worker’s first year of absence from work due to the injury, the employer is obligated to maintain contributions to any workplace health care, life insurance and pension plans to which the worker belongs. Not only does this provision ensure the worker does not face an immediate loss of benefits for himself and his family, but it serves to strengthen the continued employment link between the injured worker and his employer.
The government is serious about doing all it can to facilitate the injured worker’s return to work. I believe the approach set out in Bill 162 will make a tremendous difference. Reinstatement provisions are relatively rare in employment law. It is extremely difficult to force an employer to hire and rehire a particular employee. I think that is where we have gone farther with this bill than anyone has ever gone before.
In conclusion, I am convinced that Bill 162, with the proposed amendments discussed above, will have the desired results. Injured workers in Ontario will get the assistance they need to return to the workforce more quickly and in much greater numbers than has been the case up to now.
The Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr Wildman: I want to take this short time to commend the member for Sudbury East for the work she has done on behalf of injured workers in Ontario and in opposing Bill 162, which is the most ill-conceived piece of legislation we have ever seen in this House.
The fact that the government could proceed with this kind of legislation when every group that will be affected by the legislation is opposed to it is beyond me. Why does the Liberal government insist on proceeding with a bill that has the opposition of injured workers, the labour movement and even of some groups of employers? How is it that the Minister of Labour and his friends in the Liberal Party can believe they are the only ones who are right on this legislation and everyone else who is affected by it is wrong?
It is important we recognize that the promises made by the Liberals in this legislation cannot be fulfilled. We have seen the experience in Saskatchewan, where this dual award system was mistakenly proposed and where most involved groups now would like to see the system changed. The promise of rehabilitation is a sad joke in this legislation. All that is promised is an assessment and that is all that is guaranteed. There is not a guarantee of reinstatement.
I implore the members of the Liberal Party to listen to the people who appeared before the standing committee on resources development and almost unanimously called for the withdrawal of this legislation. We have done all we can to try to persuade the members of the Liberal Party to listen to the people who appeared before the committee. Surely, they can now vote in favour of the resolution of my friend the member for Sudbury East, which will advise the minister to listen and to withdraw the legislation.
The Speaker: The member’s time has expired. The member for Sudbury East had reserved almost three minutes.
Miss Martel: In the short time I have remaining, let me respond to some of the comments that have been made.
The member for Halton Centre has said Bill 162 improves upon the experience of Saskatchewan. Let me tell members of this House what Bob Sass, who was Deputy Minister of Labour at the time this bill went into effect in Saskatchewan, says about this, “If I had my druthers, now I wouldn’t tout the Saskatchewan system as an advance.” He thinks the compensation for wage loss alone is unfair.
Sass thinks the act does not recognize proper compensation for individuals whose claims are recognized. He thinks the act does not recognize as many claims as it should. If he were starting again, he would develop an entirely different system from the one now in place in Saskatchewan.
Second, the member talked about the minister moving substantial amendments in committee three weeks ago. I would say there are substantial amounts of new words in the legislation, but it does not change the bill or the direction of it in any way, shape or form. That is why we wanted new hearings, in order to have the people who came before us tell us the same thing, as l am sure they would have.
She talked about the earnings loss determination and said that with the new amendments to the amendments to the amendments introduced three weeks ago, deeming would not continue. I hate to tell the member that she neglected to mention the last criterion in the deeming section. She mentioned five out of the six. The last one also says “any other such factors as the board may put into the regulations,” which allows it to define anything it wants, any time it wants, and MPPs will have no input into that process at all.
In terms of the comments made by the member or Grey (Mr Lipsett) concerning rehabilitation, let me just point out what Wally Majesky, who was co-chairman of that task force, said over a year ago when the board introduced its new rehabilitation strategy, which the minister has said incorporates most of the Majesky-Minna report: “The new WCB vocational rehabilitation strategy has rejected approximately 87 per cent of the task force recommendations, or 73 out of a total of 84. It is obvious to me that the WCB is still driving a 1914 model of rehabilitation.”
I should point out to the Liberals as well that they paid $2 million for the task force by Minna-Majesky which had representatives not only from labour but from the medical community and business. They made 84 substantial recommendations that this government has decided were not good enough. If they had consensus from labour and from business, why is it not good enough for this government to accept those recommendations and incorporate them into this bill? It is a disgrace.
The purpose of the motion today was to point out two things. The overwhelming majority of groups that came before us said not that the bill could be fixed, not that it could be tinkered with, but that it had to be withdrawn completely, and we should start again with a process of real consultation. There was no consultation on this bill.
We heard the same from the Ontario Federation of Labour, from trade union movement groups, from legal clinics, etc. That is why I am calling on this government today to withdraw this bill and start again with a real process of consultation to reform the system.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for debate on ballot item 7 and ballot item 8.
AVIAN EMBLEM ACT, 1989
The Speaker: Mr Ballinger has moved second reading of Bill 27.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
The House divided on Miss Martel’s motion of resolution 11, which was negatived on the following vote:
Allen, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cunningham, Grier, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Martel, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Rae, B., Reville, Villeneuve, Wildman.
Adams, Ballinger, Bossy, Campbell, Cleary, Collins, Cooke, D. R., Elliot, Epp. Faubert, Ferraro, Fleet, Furlong, Henderson, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, Mancini, Matrundola, McClelland, Neumann, Nicholas, Oddie Munro, Offer, Owen, Pelissero. Polsinelli, Poole, Reycraft, Roberts, Sola, South, Sullivan, Ward.
Ayes 18; nays 34.
The House recessed at 1212.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mrs Grier: On 19 May there was a leak from Dow Chemical in Sarnia of some 4,000 to 6,000 kilograms of Freon, a chlorofluorocarbon with a tremendous ability to destroy the earth’s ozone layer. Dow uses it as a coolant in the chlorine plant in what is supposed to be a fully contained system.
Investigators of the Ministry of the Environment are still trying to determine whether it is even possible to charge Dow for this Freon leak. Dow did not report the leak promptly to the ministry because the company claimed there was no legal requirement to do so, and even if Dow had reported it, there is no proper provision in air pollution regulation 308 to cover substances such as Freon that do global rather than local damage. This morning the ministry told us that it would be several years before regulation 308 is amended.
The Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) talks a good line about protecting the ozone layer. This Legislature debated Bill 218 which will phase out CFC use in Ontario, yet there is little or nothing in the Environmental Protection Act to give the ministry the muscle to prosecute a massive CFC leak such as the one by Dow. We have two fine-sounding pronouncements in the act. Section 13 says you must not discharge a contaminant into the environment. In other words you should not pollute, but if you do, section 14 says that when you discharge a contaminant out of the normal course of events that causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect, you must notify the ministry forthwith.
if a major leak of a chemical that destroys the ozone layer is not enough to make Ontario’s environmental laws kick in, what is?
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr O’ Neil). The minister will recall on 25 April the throne speech from his government contained a reference to the creation of a new lottery fund called Cleantario. I realize that this speech was made nearly two months ago and its contents may have faded from his memory, so let me refer to the pertinent section which says, the creation of a “new lottery fund, Cleantario, to help finance our ongoing efforts to protect our environment.”
In other words, the minister’s colleague Bingo Bradley has indicated he is not willing to pay for any of the pollution abatement necessary to keep Ontario clean. Through the minister, Bingo Bradley has decided to tap into the already saturated lottery market to do the job. The Minister of the Environment is abdicating his responsibility and will gamble on the lottery-ticket-buying public to do his job for him.
The Cleantario announcement was made approximately two months ago and we still do not know what kind of a numbers game Cleantario will be or when the first tickets will go on sale. I do not think the minister or the Minister of the Environment even know if the marketplace can support another lottery. The uncertainty surrounding Cleantario leads me to believe that his government’s phoney war on pollution is only a crapshoot. The minister’s government continues to turn up snake eyes when it comes to the environment.
Mr Furlong: For the past 28 years, the Oshawa Folk Arts Council has annually entertained the people of the community with a celebration of its culture. Since its inception in 1961, the Oshawa Folk Arts Council has grown from an evening Mother’s Day concert to a fiesta celebration that encompasses a week-long community festival.
The main thrust of the folk arts council is to promote better understanding and goodwill among all the people in the community. Oshawa’s week-long fun festival welcomes more than 100,000 people and offers worldwide cuisine, international entertainment, unequalled hospitality and good cheer. A one-time purchase of a $4.00 passport is your admission to all fiesta events starting Sunday, 18 June with the fiesta parade, which will feature more than 2,000 participants.
As the parade finishes, the 28th annual folk festival concert begins. This international presentation reflects the cultural mosaic of Oshawa. Included in the festival is Pavilion Week. This year’s 26 pavilions promise six action-packed days of international hospitality.
I invite members to visit Oshawa, enjoy the hospitality, cuisine, stage shows, public dancing, boutiques, cultural displays and good cheer. As June is Seniors’ Month, it should be noted that all senior citizens are admitted to the pavilions without charge. I want to congratulate the members of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council for their hours of dedication to the task of fostering an understanding of the richness of our multicultural community.
Mr Morin-Strom: I would like to express serious concern about the Minister of Transportation’s (Mr Fulton) parochial priorities for highways in Ontario.
Yesterday, the minister announced $690 million of new highway initiatives in the Metropolitan Toronto area, and nothing for other areas of the province; nothing for southwestern Ontario, nothing for eastern Ontario, nothing for the Niagara Peninsula and nothing for northern Ontario. The people of these other areas of the province, certainly the people in northern Ontario, would like to know what this government’s commitment is to highways in other areas of Ontario. Hopefully it is not being the spokes of a wheel centred in Toronto.
In recent years, and the last two in particular, this government has committed to less than 10 kilometres of multilane highways across northern Ontario. At that rate, it will take over 100 years to four-lane the Trans-Canada Highway across our province. Surely the Ontario government must recognize that the Trans-Canada Highway particularly is ageing, and its design no longer reflects its national importance.
I urge the Premier (Mr Peterson), along with the Minister of Transportation, to make a sincere commitment to a staged upgrading of that highway. Transportation and tourism, indeed the whole economy of the north particularly, require that the Trans-Canada Highway become the first class national highway that it should be.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Villeneuve: In the absence of any policy leadership and certainly in the absence of any moral and ethical leadership by the Premier (Mr Peterson) and cabinet, the Liberal Party has taken to blaming Ottawa for all its failings. This is just as true in agriculture as elsewhere.
Rural members will know that Ontario participated in jointly funding, with Ottawa, drought relief for livestock producers. Rural members, however, may not be aware that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) has not yet done the same for the crop and horticultural industries. The government should realize that a childish turf war with Ottawa hurts no one but Ontario’s farmers.
Perhaps one reason is that the Minister of Agriculture and Food has failed to get a single penny from cabinet to help crop producers who were hard hit by last year’s drought. Cabinet members cannot seem to remember last summer’s crippling drought in Ontario any more than they can remember Patti Starr’s contributions and other activities. The Minister of Agriculture and Food is now reported to have said that he may not be making any provincial appointments to the Ontario producer review committee of the Canadian crop drought assistance program.
Ontario farmers need these appointments and provincial participation. In particular, the horticultural industry in eastern Ontario needs these appointments in order to emphasize the special circumstances of apple growers in eastern Ontario, for instance. I urge the minister and cabinet to take these needs seriously and to act to help the crop and horticultural industry all across the province.
Mr D. R. Cooke: It is with a great deal of pleasure that I rise during Seniors’ Month in Ontario to inform the members of an outstanding senior citizen in Kitchener. Harry Class is 73 years old. He started competitive swimming one year ago and is now the holder of the Ontario records in the 50-metre, 100-metre and 200-metre freestyle in the 70- to 74-year age group.
For him this is nothing new, as he has been an outstanding athlete most of his life. In 1932, he was the Canadian junior diving champion. In 1934, he won the bronze medal for Canada at the British Empire Games. He continued to be diving champion until 1943, when he entered the services. He also joined the Canadian National Exhibition sports committee, which he has served for 25 years.
His career as a freestyle swimmer, however, has begun only recently. In May 1988 he began swimming competitively in his age group and in the past three months has won the following awards. In March 1989 at Troy, New York he won two New York state championships; in March 1989 at the University of Toronto he won three Ontario championships; in April of this year he won four golds in the Niagara District International Invitational Meet at the University of Buffalo; and more recently he has won four golds at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championship held in Quebec City two weeks ago. He is currently training for the World Senior Games to be held in Utah in October.
It is with a great deal of pride that I personally congratulate Harry Class who is in the members’ gallery and I hope that he can look forward to many more wins in years to come.
APPLICATION OF SCHOOL RULES
Mr R. F. Johnston: I wanted to draw to the attention of the House the case of one Ron Sondhi, an 18-year-old with bone cancer who lives in Brampton. The night before he was to start chemotherapy at Mount Sinai Hospital he went back to his high school to go to a dance, the last that he might be able to go to for some time. His high school vice-principal refused him entrance because he did not buy his ticket during the day at class. Two constables went in and argued for him. They still did not let him in. A friend got up in an assembly following this event, asked for an apology and was therefore suspended for three days for doing so.
I would ask that the minister investigate this case and get a report from the Peel Board of Education about what went on. It is the most insensitive example of authoritarianism I have seen in a high school.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Hon Mr Fulton: Yesterday I informed the House of the new package of provincial highway initiatives and new funding support for municipal roads in the greater Toronto area, I suggest to my friend, the member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morin-Strom). It is one of the components of this government’s $2-billion transportation capital program for the next five years.
Today I want to update members on another component, a similar plan for public transit in the greater Toronto area. It will accelerate public transit initiatives contained in Transportation Directions for the Greater Toronto Area, a document released a year ago by this government.
An efficient network of local and regional transit systems is essential to the greater Toronto area. Approximately 4 million Ontarians now live in the area, which stretches from Halton in the west, Lake Simcoe in the north and the region of Durham to the east. It is estimated that a million more people will arrive in this area in the next 10 years. A balanced system for this region must therefore encompass municipal roads, provincial highways and a mix of provincial and municipal transit.
The new Ontario budget provides an accelerated capital program of $550 million for transit in the next five years. GO Transit represents one of the greatest single opportunities for transit improvements for all residents of the GTA. In fact, in the past five years GO Transit has carried 70 per cent of all new transit commuters into downtown Toronto. For GO Transit, therefore, our five-year accelerated-capital plan provides for an additional investment of $400 million.
Added to base funding already in the budget, this new funding will finance several immediate and long-term improvements. Those initial improvements are an additional morning and evening train on the Stouffville line later this year --
Mr Cousens: Or Markham-Scarborough.
Hon Mr Fulton: Before my friend from Markham (Mr Cousens) applauded, I was going to suggest to him that he and I would probably prefer to call it the Scarborough-Markham-Stouffville line.
Additional bilevel passenger cars and locomotives will be ordered, and the addition of nearly 2,000 more parking spots, a 10 per cent increase for commuters who must drive a car between their homes and the GO station.
Union Station will continue to be the major focal point for the GO rail network. Consequently, GO Transit will upgrade rail and platform capacity. Those improvements will speed the flow of trains and passengers. With this new funding, GO Transit can now proceed with several longer-term projects.
The Ministry of Transportation is now ready to submit environmental assessment reports on GO expansion east to Oshawa and for enhanced service to an improved Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo train and bus station in Hamilton.
I must reiterate the legal requirement for the completion of the environmental process, before formally allocating funds for both projects. At that time, the government will announce further details with respect to both projects.
Further, the government of Ontario will be undertaking feasibility, engineering and design studies into service expansion possibilities on several other lines. These include enhanced peak service and new off-peak service to the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the towns of Richmond Hill and Markham. With the continued support and co-operation of the railroads, expect to announce these service expansions very shortly.
Last year, GO Transit carried almost 31 million passengers; almost 20 per cent of these from within Metropolitan Toronto. Ridership on the rail network is currently growing at a rate in excess of 15 per cent per year. Substantial growth will also occur in some of the municipal transit systems within the greater Toronto area.
Consequently, the accelerated funding program in the GTA will include $150 million to enable municipal transit systems to push forward on these improvements:
Reducing the time between trains on the Yonge-University subway line in Metropolitan Toronto; by reducing the headway, we can add to passenger capacity of the existing network;
In order to relieve congestion, expansion of the Yonge-Bloor station where both lines intersect;
Supporting extension of the Harbourfront light rail transit;
Supporting all necessary work leading to, and including, construction of the Spadina subway extension from Wilson Avenue north to Sheppard Avenue;
Transit improvements in the Sheppard and Finch Avenue corridors, including a grade-separated bus station at Yonge and Sheppard and improved turning capacity at the same site;
Increased cross-boundary bus services;
New buses and garages for transit systems throughout the GTA, and
Support for more fare integration, service co-ordination and gateway development.
Of course, Ontario continues to support Metropolitan Toronto’s plans to protect the Sheppard subway corridor. Honourable members may recall that Metro sought to protect the corridor from Yonge to Victoria Park Avenue. We have gone one step further, providing $1 million to protect the entire corridor from Yonge to the Scarborough City Centre.
Included in the new allocation for both provincial and municipal transit, over $100 million will support the purchase of “rolling stock” passenger cars, street cars, diesel locomotives -- for systems within the GTA.
We are further ready to fund transit improvements to Pearson International Airport. We have already asked the federal government for its firm commitment to an airport transit facility to link with ours.
With this statement, the provincial government reaffirms its commitment to working with municipalities in developing an ongoing, affordable program of transit and rapid transit development in the greater Toronto area.
Transportation Directions for the Greater Toronto Area was a document developed in close consultation with municipalities in the GTA. It indicated those projects which should be done in a financially sound fashion. Yesterday and today, we have said how these projects will be done.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to inform the House today that my ministry will be introducing a number of innovative programs to ensure that a comprehensive network of care exists for mothers and babies before, during and after birth.
These programs, totalling more than $2 million, include: the establishment of birthing centres outside hospitals so that women with low-risk pregnancies will have more choices in the kind of care available to them; home support programs for mothers leaving hospital early after uncomplicated deliveries and for those bringing babies home from intensive care nurseries; community-based health promotion programs to reduce the number of premature births, and the appointment of a provincial co-ordinator of maternal and newborn health.
We have a very good hospital care system with highly sophisticated, technologically based services for high-risk pregnancies. As I have said on many occasions, we are always seeking to make improvements. My ministry also wants to increase the emphasis on flexible, family-centred approaches for the approximately 85 per cent of mothers who have low-risk pregnancies.
I believe that establishing out-of-hospital birthing centres in Ontario gives us a clear opportunity to increase our community-based services.
My ministry will provide funding for three out-of-hospital pilot birthing centres once the Independent Health Facilities Act is passed. The act, which will enable the government to develop and regulate community-based facilities, allows us the opportunity to license birthing centres and assure quality services.
Aside from offering home-like surroundings with minimized medical intervention, birthing centres provide extensive education and care throughout pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
As well, my ministry will allocate $1.5 million to developing pilot community-based health promotion programs aimed at reducing the rate of premature infants and low-birth-weight babies. These programs will include social and emotional support for specific high-risk groups, such as low-income and teenaged mothers.
My ministry also plans to provide $600,000 for two pilot projects, one to provide homemaking and nursing visits to allow women to return home earlier from hospital after normal births. The second one will provide home helper services for mothers who have brought home babies from one of the province’s specialized perinatal units for higher-risk births.
I am also pleased to announce that a provincial co-ordinator will be appointed to direct current and future activities in maternal and newborn care. The co-ordinator will be assisted by an advisory committee composed of health care professionals and members of the public.
Our government recognizes maternal and newborn care as being vital to the future of Ontario and it is identified as one of the specialty health care areas announced in the recent throne speech. We will be following with other initiatives this year as part of our commitment to ensure that expectant mothers and their families receive the best available services.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I am pleased to announce today that up to $46.7 million in additional operating funds will be provided to Ontario universities in 1990-91 to support increased enrolments.
Full-time, first-year university enrolments have increased significantly during the last two academic years, 6.5 percent in 1987 and 5.7 per cent in 1988. The record high levels of university applicants have been funded by the government’s special accessibility funding, which totalled $36 million in 1988-89 and $88 million in 1989-90. This $46.7 million for 1990-91 will then be further to the $88 million now committed in the present budget.
Today’s announcement reflects this government’s ongoing commitment to accessibility funding to Ontario universities. Universities will be able to accept student applications for next fall in confidence that we are continuing to accommodate record high levels of growth in the Ontario university system.
I would like to say that I am delighted to be able to demonstrate once again this government’s commitment to post-secondary education.
EMPLOYER HEALTH LEVY
Hon R. F. Nixon: Even further good news:
In the budget presented a month ago, I announced the elimination of Ontario health insurance plan premiums and the introduction of the new employer health levy, effective 1 January 1990.
The budget indicated that the instalment schedule for certain small employers would be examined. The purpose of the examination was to minimize the compliance costs associated with the employer health levy for small employers.
With the completion of this review, I am announcing that employers with annual payrolls of up to $400,000 will not be required to remit monthly. Small employers will be able to remit the employer health levy on a quarterly basis starting in April 1990. Therefore, quarterly remittances will be available to about 85 per cent of all employers in Ontario.
Quarterly remittances provide small employers with greater cash flow flexibility and reduced administration and compliance costs.
In addition, the 1 January 1990 implementation date of the employer health levy overlaps the fiscal year of hospitals, colleges and universities, as well as certain provincially funded, nonprofit social services and health agencies. These institutions, which rely heavily and in some cases exclusively on provincial funding, have already set their budgets for 1989-90 and have virtually no capacity to absorb the impact of the employer health levy in their budget for this fiscal year.
Therefore, the government will provide these provincially funded institutions with approximately $23 million in transitional assistance, in recognition of the net impact of the employer health levy for the period January to March 1990.
As I indicated to the House on 23 May, the impact of the employer health levy on transfer agencies will be among the factors taken into account in fiscal year 1990-91, when funding priorities are established and announced this fall.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Morin-Strom: The Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton) should be renamed the Minister for Greater Toronto Transportation. Again, he has committed virtually the lion’s share of the funding for transportation initiatives in Ontario to the greater Toronto area: in this case, another $550 million on top of the highway initiatives yesterday.
I am surprised, though, that the minister has not made a further commitment to rapid transit within the greater Toronto area, in comparison with the initiatives he announced yesterday with respect to highways. The minister and his government obviously are not willing or able to do anything about the urban sprawl in the city of Toronto and want to continue to promote it at all cost, and the cost to the province is going to be absolutely tremendous.
Some of the initiatives that have been made today are ones that have been long awaited by residents of the Toronto area; in particular, those with respect to GO Transit are ones that will be welcomed by certain parts of the area and that have been long advocated by responsible representatives of this Legislature.
However, the minister does not address problems such as parking problems, particularly the congestion at Union Station. Union Station is a disaster area. The minister has to do something about the congestion that commuters are facing daily in Union Station and should look at meeting with the representatives of the Metropolitan Toronto council, in order to come up with a responsible long-term solution to the Union Station problem and ensure that adequate and quick transportation is available to residents in the Toronto area.
As well, of most serious concern when it comes to the Toronto Transit Commission is the fact that the minister has committed no funds in his five-year plan to the construction of the Sheppard line. Surely this should have been the number one priority in terms of new rapid transit lines in the Metro Toronto area, and the minister has put it on hold for another five years with no commitment to that particular line. This minister has a long way to go in order to meet the real transportation needs of Metro Toronto, and it is about time he did something about it.
Mr Reville: The Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) makes an important announcement today, first at the Salvation Army Scarborough Grace General Hospital, second in the Toronto Star final edition and finally here in the Legislature.
Until a very short time ago this minister and many ministers before her steadfastly refused to believe that it was possible for a woman to give birth outside a hospital delivery room. I am delighted that today the minister has stood in the House and said, “I have listened to mothers and fathers, I have listened to midwives and home birth doctors and I am going to change the policy of this government.”
I want to thank the minister for that and say that she should consider very strongly the advantages of such an approach in communities such as those along James Bay, which have the highest birth rate in North America and where a young mother from Kashechewan or Attawapiskat is flown over 1,000 kilometres to Kingston, Ontario, away from her home, away from her culture and away from her language, to give birth under the lights of an operating theatre with staff who do not speak Cree. I think an ideal start would be to go up to James Bay and talk to the band councils there about getting a birth centre project going.
I also think it would be a cruel irony indeed if the Toronto Birth Centre, which has been one of the leaders of the fight for alternative birthing arrangements, were not to get funding under this proposal. I understand the minister is looking for high-growth areas, but there are very many mothers and fathers who would like to have their children in a noninstitutional setting right here in Toronto, and I hope that proposal call will go to them as well.
EMPLOYER HEALTH LEVY
Mr Harris: I would like to respond to the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon). The Treasurer says that what he is doing will save small employers a total of $190 million. I condemn the arrogance and the audacity of a Treasurer who brings in a new tax, about $250 million, on small employers and says, “Because I could have made it even higher than that for you, I’m saving you some money.” It is a new tax of $250 million.
Second, the Treasurer talks about $23 million in transitional aid -- that is not permanent; that is temporary. The estimate of the true cost of this tax to the employers is in the area of $82 million of those that are receiving transfers: no help for municipalities, no help for school boards, no help for others that have indicated they are being impacted negatively.
With this budget we have seen backtracking now in the commercial concentration levy, backtracking on the tire tax and now trying to tidy up the employer health levy. It is a back and fill constant process of change, obviously a very poorly thought out budget.
Mr Jackson: Regarding the announcement of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) on maternal and newborn care, it is clear that every single member of this Legislature supports the principles of community-based health care and the deinstitutionalized approach to health services.
However, while the Toronto Star was announcing today how we are going to deal with low-risk pregnancies, yesterday the Toronto Star carried an effective article about high-risk pregnancies. It talked about a study of Ontario’s 10 neonatal intensive care units. In that article, it makes it very clear that, “The problems in staffing have worsened and the situation has markedly deteriorated.” It goes on to say that, “If nothing is done about the staffing shortages, programs of care for the smallest and sickest babies could collapse in this province.”
It is clear that this government will focus, rightly so, on low-risk babies. But we are in an increasing pregnancy period, a period of a growing birth rate in our province’s history and, quite frankly, the minister has failed to deal effectively with the real risks associated with those unborn children, whose first entry into society is at high risk. This government has not made the commitment to improve the nursing shortages and to ensure an adequate supply of doctors.
Why has the minister closed the intensive care unit beds at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children? That has been reduced from 23 beds to 14 because of the minister’s funding. That is the so-called balanced approach to this situation.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Cousens: There is no doubt that the government has to face up to the transportation crisis in and around Metropolitan Toronto and greater Metro. We have to get people off the roads and on to public transit. The more we can do that, the more we will ease the congestion.
I compliment the minister on the fact that we had one good announcement today for the north-south line through into Markham and Stouffville. We need to have far more of that kind of service because we are growing far faster than the services are growing. There is a real dearth of planning going on with the ministry in meeting the needs of Metro Toronto.
We are going to have BCE Place opening, the ballet theatre, and SkyDome, Harbourfront condos, the Olympic Games coming in 1996 and then Expo 2000. Everything is happening in Metro Toronto. We had better start putting the dollars out so that people in Toronto and the greater Toronto area can start to have the improved services they have to have.
We must build the subways; let’s make the investment. The future requires that now.
Mr Cureatz: The Minister of Transportation does not mind giving a whack at the Tories from time to time, saying that we underfunded highway construction over the years we were in power. He forgets to tell us in his statement that it was the Conservative government that instituted the GO Transit system. I would appreciate some compliments from him about that from time to time. He does not mind coming out for the opening of the GO station in Whitby.
Speaking of the expansion of highways, he should have some foresight and expand Highway 401 up to Highway 115 and Highway 35, not to mention Highway 2 from Courtice out to the village of Newcastle. I do not think he is giving me the money because I am in opposition, but he does not mind throwing it around to his Liberal backbencher friends. Interestingly enough, he is proud about the GO Transit expansion, but what about the increase in fares just announced?
Mrs Marland: I would like simply to say that there is nothing in the statement of the Minister of Transportation about improvements for people who have to travel from the west, even though we had a nice conversation --
The Speaker: Order. That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), I want to ask a question of the Minister of Culture and Communications. Two weeks after she apparently heard of the contract between Mrs Starr or between Mrs Starr’s organization -- we do not know exactly which one -- and her mother, she has made public the letter that she wrote to Mr Justice Evans, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. In the minister’s letter dated 7 June, she says:
“Two years ago, when asked by Mrs Patricia Starr for the names of people who could do clerical work for a mailing in Hamilton, I said that my mother did this kind of work. My mother has told me that she was paid $5,000 to do some work for Mrs Starr.”
Since she apparently has had a conversation with her mother about the contract, I want to ask the minister if she is now in a position to tell us what the $5,000 was for precisely, precisely who paid this money to her mother and precisely when was this money paid.
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: As I have indicated on several occasions in the House, when I received the inquiry from Mrs Starr, I was not aware of the nature of any working agreement or a contract -- I think “contract” is your terminology. The first occasion when I heard that any working arrangement had taken place with my mother, and the allegation that it was with the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, was in the press.
On reading the story in the press, I contacted my mother and asked if she knew there was an article involving her in the Globe and Mail. My mother does not get the Globe and Mail, so I read the article to her.
I asked what the context was in which she had discussed or talked to the Globe and Mail. She said she had received a phone call the previous week from a reporter doing a story on the National Council of Jewish Women in Canada. In my inquiry, I simply asked what was the nature of the work that she had done. She said she had done mailings and confirmed addresses, and she confirmed that the total amount of money was $5,000.
Mr B. Rae: She confirmed that there were some mailings; I am not quite sure what that means, whether it means that one simply takes mail down to a postbox or precisely what is involved. She confirmed addresses, which I take it means looking up some addresses in a phone book. She confirmed that she was paid $5,000. Has the minister any idea how many hours her mother spent on this work?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: No, I have no idea of the number of hours. She said it took place over a period of between four and five weeks.
The Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: She still has not told us when this work was performed, when the cheque was paid and who paid the cheque.
Since Mr Justice Evans has already indicated that he is not going to be conducting an investigation until such time as the OPP has completed its work, I wonder if the minister does not feel a certain obligation to get these facts out, to make them very clear and to determine all the facts before the House as well as before Judge Evans.
Can she tell us exactly which one of Mrs Starr’s many organizations paid the cheque --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: -- exactly when that cheque was paid and --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: -- how many hours of work was performed?
The Speaker: Thank you. That is quite a number of questions.
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: I have no knowledge of the organization or the source of the cheque. I have indicated to my mother in conversation that there is an investigation which will be conducted through the direction of the office of the Solicitor General and that she should make statements known if contacted by anyone connected with that particular investigation.
The Speaker: New question.
Mr B. Rae: I think we are entitled to that information --
The Speaker: To which minister?
Mr B. Rae: By way of supplementary, or additional question, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations on a related subject; I know it is not a question that he wants to get, but I am afraid it is his turn.
I wonder if the minister can confirm, in his responsibilities as the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, that when the Election Finances Act says about the people who can contribute to an election campaign that contributions to political parties will be made under the act “only by persons individually, corporations and trade unions,” the corporations referred to in that Election Finances Act would either be corporations registered in Ontario or registered federally. Is that correct?
Hon Mr Wrye: I believe that is correct.
Mr B. Rae: My staff has completed, over the last two days, a search of a corporation described in material provided to us by the Election Finances Commission as Starr Systems Ltd of 45 Riderwood Drive, Willowdale, which happens to be Mrs Patti Starr’s home address; it is listed as a corporate donor. I wonder if the minister can explain why, when we did a search of this apparently or allegedly limited company, it was not in fact registered as an Ontario corporation and not registered as a federal corporation.
Hon Mr Wrye: I do not check out every return from every contributor to any of the parties or any members of the Legislature or indeed anyone who receives a contribution. I cannot explain that. I will simply take the word of the Leader of the Opposition that in his search he has discovered that and ask him to ask his final supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: It would be of concern to me, as I am sure it would be to any member of this House, if it was discovered that a search was done of a number of corporations and we found that in fact these corporations did not really exist, or at least did not exist in order to perform any function and in some cases were not even registered.
I wonder if the minister could explain how it would be possible for a company to be listed under the Election Finances Act as a corporation that is making a corporate donation to the Liberal Party -- in 1987 and 1988 it made a donation in total of $12,000 to the Liberal Party of Ontario; it also donated $500 to the Scarborough North Liberal Association -- and the corporation would not turn up in any search of either federal or provincial records of companies doing business in Ontario.
Hon Mr Wrye: I would only say to my friend that I understand the implications of his question. I would say that all of us on all sides of the House have on occasion received, and do receive, substantial amounts of money with which it is necessary to run not only our campaigns, but to support the members of our riding associations between elections as they go to conventions and otherwise. I do not know how they do it over there, but I support the members of my association when they go to very expensive events.
I say to my friend that I share an understanding of his concern that those who are involved in these matters will, I am sure, take a look at the information the member has raised. I will certainly ask my officials to take a look, and can share with the member in correspondence what we find, but I say to my friend that I hope that as I answer this question, the election finances --
The Speaker: Thank you. [Later]
Mr B. Rae: On a point of order: I have to make an apology to the House. I gave the House certain information which was incorrect and I wanted to correct the record as soon as it was drawn to my attention. Earlier in question period I asked a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, where I indicated that a company under the name of Starr Systems Ltd -- two words -- did not appear in the records of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations or in the records of the federal government. That is how the company is listed in the election finances reports which were given to us: as two words.
I have been advised, and I want to apologize to the House because I obviously do not like to give out information which is not correct, that in fact there is a company by the name of Starrsystems -- which is one word -- which is at 45 Riderwood Drive, Willowdale. I thereby fully apologize to the House.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Deputy Premier and Treasurer. As the Deputy Premier is aware, there are now four cabinet ministers, the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Oddie Munro), the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) as well as the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling), who have received potentially illegal contributions from Patricia Starr. I wonder if the Deputy Premier, because of his knowledge of how these things happen, could advise this House how Ms Starr was appointed chairman of Ontario Place and on what basis that appointment was made.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member used the proper adjective when he said “potential,” and I think he is also aware the matters have been referred to the appropriate public authorities for examination, including the Ontario Provincial Police. As far as the appointment is concerned, it was done by order in council.
Mr Brandt: In addition, I might add to the Deputy Premier that the member for St Andrew-St Patrick (Mr Kanter), the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes) and the member for Lawrence (Mr Cordiano) have also been implicated in these potentially illegal contributions.
Hon Mr Scott: You haven’t mentioned Susan Fish.
Mr Brandt: The Attorney General can mention anyone he likes during the course of his statements. This is my opportunity.
The executive director of the charity Ms Starr was involved with indicated, and I quote her directly, “We got hoodwinked by her.... We’re getting dragged through the mud,” which is an understatement. That was my editorial comment.
Would the Deputy Premier, who is also a member of the executive council involved in the decisions to appoint individuals of this kind, inform the House if Heather Peterson, who is a paid employee of the Ontario Liberal Party and works out of the Premier’s office, recommended Ms Starr for the position of chairman of Ontario Place?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not know that she did.
Mr Brandt: That is not very helpful, but if the Deputy Premier finds out perhaps he could share that information with the House.
During the course of the discussion we have had surrounding this entire issue, we have had a great deal of concern indicated, I say to the Deputy Premier, about the numbers of people who have directly or indirectly, through various and sundry means, received financial support through the efforts of Ms Starr, to the extent that the Premier (Mr Peterson) of this province has asked all the members of the Liberal Party, cabinet and backbenchers included, to review very carefully their election financial returns to determine whether or not contributions were made in their names and to their accounts.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Brandt: We have reached such a staggering level with this particular incident that it may save this House a lot of time and save the people of Ontario a lot of money if we could simply have the cabinet ministers and the MPPs who have received money from Ms Starr raise their hands and let us know.
The Speaker: Order. I did not hear a question, so new question?
Mr Harris: I suggest to my leader that it might have been easier if all those who did not receive money put up their hands.
The Speaker: Order. The question is to which minister?
Hon Mr Kerrio: Stand up if you got a contribution.
Mr Harris: I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources, who just interjected from his place.
In April 1987, the Premier (Mr Peterson) announced a new crown land policy and program called crown land as a development tool. It involves 15 provincial ministries. The minister said in February, “We have never, ever considered selling blocks of crown land to either Canadian or US developers.” Could the minister explain why his officials are now secretly negotiating with US interests to sell off and develop large tracts of prime lakefront crown land in Ontario?
Hon Mr Kerrio: CLADT was put in place to make up for the former government deciding that the people of Ontario should not be able to buy crown land. I feel very proud that we took that initiative and that we did have some shelf lots that had been frozen. We were going to put them out there so people could buy crown land for cottaging, for small business and doing those things.
It was never the intent of this government to allow outside people to buy any kind of land of any consequence. I have made that statement in this House before. I make it again, and I just question the validity of this member, who appears to be running for the leadership of that party, to try to stick us with that kind of information that is patently not true.
Mr Harris: I want to thank the minister for the plug. However, I do have a supplementary question. Today, I am releasing the results of an undercover investigation completed by a Canadian newspaper whose official, posing as a major US developer, met with the minister’s officials.
It reveals that confidential information the minister refuses to make public is being given to US developers by the ministry’s officials, namely, that consultants have been hired and directed to explore sacrificing designated lakes to development interests; that the minister’s officials are advising US developers to set up a Canadian shell corporation to mislead the media and the public about foreign ownership, and that the Liberals will shorten the timing of the environmental assessments under the Premier’s new crown land policy from three years to 60 to 90 days to facilitate foreign development.
How does the minister explain those facts?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I have not changed my mind at all about what I have told the member. There was an interview by someone who posed as a buyer to someone in my ministry who gave the kind of confidence that that was the case. I, at the ministerial level, tell the member that is not the case. The individual who gave that information gave the wrong information. If the member thinks that by standing up there and making that comment it is going to stick, he is wrong.
Mr Harris: The minister’s officials told the pseudo-developer to keep the information he received confidential, and suggested lobbying the Premier, the minister and the deputy, among others, for support. Why is the minister telling the public one thing and the man, the civil servant who he as minister appointed to carry out his policy, the policy the Premier indeed announced, appointed by the minister, why is he telling the public one thing and something very secret and very different is being told to US developers?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I do not know how much clearer I can make the issue. If some individual speculated on what he or she thought the CLADT program meant, I am clarifying for the member today that that is not the case, that the person who gave that kind of information gave the wrong information. I have from day one suggested to anyone who was willing to listen that our land is not up for grabs by any large US purchasers. I tell him that now and I tell him that is the program and that is the way it is going to be. He does us no favour when he makes the kind of insinuations he makes, which are not true in any sense of the word. I wish he would get the facts before he goes out talking about the issues.
The Speaker: New question.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Deputy Premier.
The Speaker: Order. The Minister of Natural Resources completed the response. New question, the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Deputy Premier. In a previous incarnation, the Deputy Premier, when he was in opposition, negotiated an agreement with our party that led to the formation of the Liberal government. In that document, which I am sure the Deputy Premier will recall because he was so instrumental in negotiating it, one of the principles was that order-in-council appointments should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee, that there should be a full discussion of those appointments and that they should be subject to some scrutiny and discussion.
In one of the tragic transformations of the last few years, that did not happen. The Liberal government decided it was not going to allow that to happen. But I wonder if in the spirit of that accord he personally was so instrumentally involved in, he would not think it now fair and right that all documents and materials relating to advice given to the government on the appointment of Mrs Starr to a senior government appointment, the chairmanship of Ontario Place, should not be made part of the public record and indeed be made public so we can see precisely how it is Mrs Starr made it so quickly to the top.
Hon R. F. Nixon: At this point, that is not the policy of the government, as the honourable member knows. I used to keep a copy of the accord with me because I found that if I did not, I would have to send for it. At this stage, it is our feeling that we have lived up to our commitments in that accord and I would think in many respects the members of the New Democratic Party would not only be pleased but proud of their accomplishments in this regard.
Mr B. Rae: I am delighted to listen to the --
Hon Mr Scott: Why don’t you ask for the Martel file or the McClellan file? There are some really interesting letters in those files.
The Speaker: Order; supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the agitation of the senior law officer of the crown with respect to what is going on and I always appreciate his heckles, but I do want to come back to the point I raised with the Deputy Premier.
We have a process of appointments where Heather Peterson is paid by the Liberal Party of Ontario -- as everybody knows, it was the Premier’s (Mr Peterson’s) own determination that this was the way he wanted to do it -- and she makes the recommendations on order-in-council appointments. What we are suggesting is that the Deputy Premier should ask or seek that all information relating to the appointment of Mrs Starr be made public. He negotiated an accord that would have required that if the Liberal Party had lived up to it. All I am asking is that he now see that be done in this particular case, and I might add, in all cases related to senior appointments of this kind.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I did not detect a question, particularly. It was a piece of advice which I think is interesting. In my view the honourable member does not clearly understand the role of Mrs Peterson in this connection. I believe that it is her responsibility to look at the correspondence from many, many people who request appointments and are glad to send their curricula vitae to the government.
The Premier and the members of the cabinet rely on her doing that work for them. But as for the recommendations, these are matters for the executive council and specifically, in most cases, they are recommendations of the head of the government himself. That is the way it has been done and continues to be done around here.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Deputy Premier on the same subject. On the basis that his party agreed to handle these kinds of appointments in public, it would appear to be fair for me to raise the question with him in regard to the qualifications of Ms Starr and also the linkage between Ms Starr and whoever recommended her for the particular position that she took on, leading to a great deal of the complications that we are addressing at this time in this House.
Could the Deputy Premier agree to share with this House the information with respect to who made the recommendation in regard to Ms Starr’s appointment and also, who made the final decision giving her the position of chairman of Ontario Place?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not have that information. Trying to cast my mind back to the discussions at the time of the formation of the government, I believe the discussions really hinged on major appointments. While the member might be quick to say that this obviously is one of those, I am not so sure that there is general agreement. There are many appointments made under the responsibility of the executive council.
I do not have the specific information that the member is talking about. I do not know whether any exists and I am not undertaking to provide it to the honourable member.
Mr Brandt: I think the Deputy Premier has an obligation and in fact a responsibility to this House to provide as much information as is available surrounding the issue related to Ms Starr.
There are a number of cabinet ministers, a number of backbenchers in his government, who are implicated by this particular individual’s activities relating to the most convoluted funding mechanisms that I personally have ever seen in close to 20 years in politics.
I say to the Deputy Premier that he has an obligation to provide this House with details regarding Ms Starr’s appointment. Is he prepared to do that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The answer really is that we have trusted officials whom the honourable members of this House supported at the time of their appointment and continue to support and who are responsible for reviewing donations and contributions for election purposes, for conflicts of interest relating to all members and particularly for cabinet ministers.
Along with the police, those are the people who are investigating this matter. The honourable member has the right to ask any questions he wants but, from my point of view, those are the officials who are undertaking the independent review of this matter.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The four major sources of acid rain in the province -- Ontario Hydro, Inco, Falconbridge and Algoma Steel -- have submitted their final plans to reduce acid rain province-wide by 60 per cent by the year 1994.
These reductions are required under the Countdown Acid Rain program that the government developed a couple of years ago. Countdown Acid Rain exceeds Ontario’s commitment to the federal-provincial agreement calling for a 50 per cent abatement of sulphur dioxide in eastern Canada.
Can the minister now say whether the companies are able to meet these strict reductions required?
Hon Mr Bradley: The evaluation of the officials of the Ministry of the Environment in fact indicates -- as was indicated in each one of their own reports which were forthcoming at the end of 1988 in the case of three, and at the end of the first month of 1989 in the case of the fourth -- the companies all in fact will be able to meet it.
The member will recall that some of them had a press conference at the time indicating that they would be able scientifically and technically to meet the requirements that the ministry had set forth and that in fact they would be able to do it utilizing their own funds.
The member is quite correct in assuming that Ontario has gone beyond the national program, which called for 50 per cent cuts in eastern Canada and went, in fact, to a 60 per cent cut overall in Ontario.
In addition to that, of course, we are in a position where we have made further comments to the companies on how we think they can be most effective. lnco is required, as the member knows, to go from 1,158 kilotonnes to 265 kilotonnes, for instance; Falconbridge from 154 kilotonnes to 100 kilotonnes; Hydro down to 215 kilotonnes of SO2 and NOx and Algoma to 125 kilotonnes.
Mr Adams: As the minister has completed the technical reviews of the company reports, is he then in a position to explore the companies’ use of new reduction technologies?
Hon Mr Bradley: One of the things that we required, in fact, was that they look at the technologies which would be available to do this. Of course, the members will recall, in the discussions in 1985, that there was an indication from the companies and many naysayers around who said that, in fact, this could not happen: that (a), it was technically and scientifically impossible, and (b), that they would not have the money to do it.
In fact, the largest emitter of acid rain in Ontario, lnco, indicated it would be spending close to $500 million in its reduction program. I think it is worth noting that in doing so, we will be able to put forward what I consider to be a more efficient operation.
I want to indicate very clearly that we also required they study all the technologies; that they look, for instance in the case of Hydro, at different kinds of scrubbers they would use and that they look at what I consider to be a most effective way of reducing emissions, that of conservation. I know the Minister of Energy (Mr Wong) has been instrumental in indicating very clearly to Ontario Hydro that conservation is one of the options which, in fact, should be pursued.
When we go to other jurisdictions, this program --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Kormos: I have a question for the acting Solicitor General. Douglas Edgecumbe indicated that he mailed a letter to the Solicitor General some two months ago outlining and detailing an illegal political contribution to one of the government’s own cabinet ministers.
That information was in the Solicitor General’s ministry two months ago. The acting Solicitor General told us yesterday that he only just became aware of it after the press reported the letter had been sent.
How is it that this serious allegation could have been suppressed, could have been covered up in the Solicitor General’s ministry for so long?
Hon Mr Scott: There was no evidence that it was suppressed. I became the acting Solicitor General only a few days ago and it was brought to my attention by the Deputy Solicitor General that this letter existed. He said what he proposed to do with it and I told him --
Mr Kormos: Surely, everybody in that ministry was not so Starr-struck that the matter was simply left aside? How is it that this most serious allegation could have been brought to that ministry’s attention yet it did not prompt a call for an investigation when it was received? It was only after it was published in the press, only after it was unavoidable for the acting Solicitor General to confront it, that an investigation was ordered. How could that have happened?
Indeed, the question is, is there an investigation being asked for --
The Speaker: Thank you. You have already asked the question.
Hon Mr Scott: I do not know whether it happened. All I can tell the honourable member is what happened when the matter was brought to my attention. When the matter was brought to my attention by the Deputy Solicitor General yesterday morning, he told me what he proposed to do and I agreed that what he proposed to do was the appropriate thing to do and it was done.
Mr Harris: I would like to go back to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister has disputed the information that I have placed before him today. The information that I have placed before him is quoted extensively in a national newspaper; also quoted extensively is a Paul King.
I wonder if the minister could confirm that Paul King was appointed by the ministry to be the co-ordinator of the crown land as a development tool program. I wonder if he could also tell us if he is saying that Paul King did not give all this information out to a prospective United States developer or if he is saying that Paul King somehow or other was acting on his own without direction from the minister. If that is the case, is he still in the employ of the Ministry of Natural Resources?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I would start at the back end of that and tell the member that he is no longer involved in the capacity, because he simply gave out the wrong information.
Mr Harris: I wonder if the minister could further comment on who approved the hiring of consultant Christopher Rees, who introduced an Outline of Development and Marketing Strategy to the Whitney implementation team and, under the heading of “Resolution of Key Issues,” wrote “‘sacrifice’ certain ‘trout lakes’ and allow residential and/or cottage development in more intensive clusters” on designated lakes.
When he was asked why he put this into the proposal, Mr Rees indicated the topic had been suggested by the Whitney town council and the Algonquin district MNR staff. I wonder if the minister denies, now that this consultant was appointed, that he was advised by the MNR staff and that this indeed was the direction he was told to go in.
Hon Mr Kerrio: Just so there is no mistake, the comments allegedly made by Paul King -- and I am not sure how accurate they are -- do not reflect the CLADT program. The CLADT program was meant to help northern Ontario economically.
Mr Harris: How about the consultant who was hired? Is that the direction of this government?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I listened to the member when he put his question. Why does he not keep quiet while I answer it?
Mr Harris: Because you’re not answering the question.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kerrio: I am going to answer the question if the member will give me a few minutes.
Mr Harris: I asked about the consultant. Is this the direction he was given?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kerrio: I am suggesting that CLADT had a very valuable program for the north, to free up crown land for cottaging, small hydraulic and small commercial ventures. It was never meant to accommodate the Americans, which is what the member started out by saying. I tell him that is not true.
The fact of the matter is that where we have attempted to open up crown lands, the Ministry of the Environment very properly wants to examine the lakes in the area to decide whether we could put more cottaging in a given area. We think that is very responsible. Until we come to those conclusions, we will not be able to free up some of that crown land. We are examining it in a very responsible way. We are taking crown land to be able to move it as an economic benefit to northern Ontario, and whatever the member has in his hand is not appropriate.
The Speaker: New question. The member for Oxford.
Hon Mr Kerrio: Don’t twist this issue. You’re trying to do that and you’re not going to get away with it.
Mr Harris: It says here the officials of Algonquin Provincial Park -- did they give direction, yes or no?
The Speaker: Order. I have recognized the member for Oxford for a new question.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. The January 1989 Demographic Bulletin of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics says that the 65-plus age group will be the fastest-growing age group over the next 25 years; it will increase by 86 per cent between 1986 and 2011. In 2011, people aged 65 and over will comprise 16 per cent of Ontario’s population compared to only 11 percent in 1986.
Seniors want to remain active and independent 65. Does the minister feel that retirement impedes an individual’s ability to remain actively involved in the community?
Hon Mrs Wilson: I would like to thank the member for Oxford for his question. There are many people who view retirement as an opportunity, while there are many others who have indicated to me that they wish to remain active and involved long after the age of 65. While evidence would indicate that only a small number of people would actually opt to continue their current employment after age 65, many older people tell me that the opportunity to make that choice is important to them.
Currently, the issue of mandatory retirement is before the Supreme Court of Canada. They are hearing an appeal regarding earlier Ontario court rulings. The hearing has generated a great deal of public interest and I am certainly awaiting the court’s decision with interest as well.
Mr Tatham: Tom Williams was still flying his own airplane at 85. Canon John Davies stood at the cenotaph on 11 November taking part in Remembrance Day at 100 years of age. Many people nearing the retirement age of 65 would like the opportunity to continue to remain active and involved in their communities. What advice does the minister have for these individuals?
Hon Mrs Wilson: Our older Ontarians continue to make a significant contribution to the fabric of our province long after they have reached the age of 65. It used to be when a person retired, we said, “Sit down; relax; put your feet up.” But we do not do that any more. Seniors want to remain active and independent and many are starting new careers, starting businesses, going back to school, travelling, writing books, spending time with grandchildren.
One third of Ontario’s million seniors are volunteers contributing to their communities. Through these activities, older people in Ontario are providing role models for all ages and are debunking the myths and stereotypes that used to surround ageing.
Mr Kormos: Again to the acting Solicitor General, Mr Edgecumbe wrote a letter to the former Solicitor General some two months ago containing a very serious allegation about a very serious offence implicating, of course, one of the government’s own ministers.
Perhaps the acting Solicitor General will tell us when that letter was received by the ministry and what happened to it? What was done with it for that period of time until it was finally shown to him yesterday morning?
Hon Mr Scott: I should tell the honourable member that the best I have been able to ascertain over the last day is that there is no evidence the letter was received in the office of the Solicitor General, which is to say it had not been logged as entered in the normal way of correspondence.
When we were saying, “Well, where is it? Even if it has not been logged, is it here? Where would it be?” someone said: “Look, this letter registers an objection, almost a very grave objection, to an appointment. Why not ask the appointments people if they got it?” They did not get it, but one of them had a copy of it. It was in that way the letter came to my attention.
Mr Kormos: Is this the beginning of a pattern? Is that what is going to happen to letters sent to the Ministry of the Solicitor General that put the finger on the government’s own cabinet ministers? Are these letters routinely going to be misplaced and not logged? Is that going to be the way out? Is that going to be the copout? Is indeed this a pattern --
The Speaker: Actually, the member has asked the question twice already. Now, for the third time, the question.
Hon Mr Scott: I want to assure the honourable member that is not the case. The usual practice is for mail to be logged but, as honourable members will know, for example, when one of the honourable members the other day handed me a letter, that did not get logged because it did not come in in the ordinary way.
Mr D. S. Cooke: It was hand-delivered to you.
Hon Mr Scott: Yes, but it does not get logged in the system, so you cannot recover it by reference to the log.
The good news for the honourable member is that the letter was discovered and I told the honourable member how its presence was discovered. By looking at what it said, it registered a vigorous objection to an appointment which was in fact not made and we then dealt with it in the way I described yesterday.
Mr Harris: I would like to again ask the Minister of Natural Resources a question concerning the crown land development program. This morning my staff attended the information centre to get information on the program. The staff there were very polite and very helpful. They were given a booklet, Crown Land as a Development Tool, and they were told if they had any inquiries or wished further information, they should talk to the man in charge of the program, Paul King.
Today the minister has indicated to me that Paul King is no longer involved in the program. I wonder if he can tell us when Paul King was released from this program, some time between this morning and now. And was this in writing and was it done during question period?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I do not know how I could reinforce the position of me as both the minister and the government on this program. The fact of the matter is that Mr King was interviewed by someone who posed as someone else. He speculated on the Premier’s thinking --
Mr Jackson: They transferred him 10 minutes ago during question period.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kerrio: If the member will listen I am going to tell him where I am coming from. I will answer the question the way I choose as I allowed him to pose the question the way he chose.
I am suggesting to the member that Mr King was interviewed by someone who was posing as someone else. He gave an interview about CLAD, crown land as a development tool, which is about cottaging on crown land and which was not in fact the policy of this government. I have not been given the information recently. This book of mine that gives me this information is months old. They said that it was not appropriate for Mr King to give those answers and that he was transferred. That is all I can tell the member. I was told that he was transferred.
Mr Jackson: When?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I have no idea when.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I find it passing strange that a civil servant would be off all on his own -- given that he was appointed by the minister -- with no direction from the minister and who, as of this morning, was told by his information centre that he is in charge of the program and the information has been out for a month or so, although not made public by the minister, not surprisingly. I find it very passing strange that he is now dissociating himself from anything that he has said, and as of this morning he was still there. I would like to go back specifically --
The Speaker: To the question, I hope.
Mr Harris: The minister is not going to tell me when he was transferred.
I asked the minister in the question before, and I would like an answer specifically to this. It states that the consultant who wrote out in a position paper, “‘Sacrifice’ certain ‘trout lakes’ and allow residential and/or cottage development in more intensive clusters” on designated lakes, -- received his direction from the Algonquin district Ministry of Natural Resources staff. The minister has indicated he has had this information for a month. Could he confirm that is indeed where the consultant got his directions?
Hon Mr Kerrio: No, that is not the case at all. As I said to the member before, the way this started, is that we had some cottage lots that were going to be put up for sale. The Ministry of the Environment decided we should examine that lake to see what the possibilities are of protecting the fish stock in the lake. I agreed wholeheartedly. It put our program back considerably, but I have an important initiative and I want to protect the environment even though we sell cottage lots on those remote lakes in northern Ontario. Those are the facts that exist there.
The other matter that the member keeps questioning about is one that I would like to share with him and it is that Mr King did not put forward the policy of this government. I have been given the fact that he is no longer there in that responsible position.
Mr Harris: Is the consultant lying?
Mr Jackson: Then why did you transfer him?
Hon Mr Kerrio: Just a minute and listen. For crying out loud, those people make so much noise I can’t hear myself think around here. They should just be quiet a minute and I will give the answer.
If I have told the member that Mr King was moved, then that was the information I was given. If he has not been moved, then I shall be glad to find out the situation as it exists and get back to the member on Monday.
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Sola: I have a question to the Attorney General regarding the Trespass to Property Act. I know it has been raised in this House before, but I still get lots of phone calls, letters and questions regarding this legislation from shopping malls and businesses, both big and small. Even libraries have written me expressing their concern with the question of posting of notices and the right to return of evictees, if I can call them that. They figure this legislation will tie their hands in maintaining order on their premises while at the same time giving free rein to those who are causing disturbances. Can the Attorney General respond to these concerns?
Hon Mr Scott: I certainly can, and I am glad to have the opportunity. This bill is based on the proposition that everybody who is asked to leave a public place by a security guard or other person should be given a reason. The reason does not have to be in writing, but it should be given. Then they have full power to expel the person from the public place. because the person given a reason has a right on a subsequent occasion to contest the expulsion.
This has been the practice followed by almost all responsible mall owners in Ontario for many, many years. Frankly, I think that the standards of this bill are standards that all members of the House would expect for themselves if they were ejected from a mall, which is what? Simply to be given a reason that has something to do with a use incompatible with the mall premises.
Mr Sola: I can agree that the motive is laudable, and the minister’s answer sort of alleviates some of my fears, but the question still comes up that the timing seems to be wrong. At this time, when we hear of swarming in malls and gangs being overly active in them, the proprietors seem to think that the message the government is sending out is that the disturbers will have a free rein while the enforcers will have their hands tied. I am worried about the perception we are giving.
Hon Mr Scott: I am not so good at dealing with perceptions, but the reality is -- instead of dealing with perceptions, even here every once in a while we should deal with reality -- if there are swarmers or gangs in a mall or public place who are making an inappropriate use of the property, the mall owners can ask them, require them or call the police to remove them, precisely as they can do so now. All that they will be required to do is give a reason as to why they are being asked to leave. It should not be difficult to find in that circumstance.
My honourable friend talks about perception. May I just say this word: When bills are introduced in the Legislature, there will be from time to time people whose business it is to cause concern and anxiety and get everybody alarmed. I am sure all honourable members want to do what is best, and what is best is to assure the public what these bills are really about.
DIRECT GRANT PROGRAM
Mr Pouliot: I have a question to the Minister of the Environment on an entirely different matter. I want to share with the minister the headline that appeared in the Thunder Bay Times-News in the Saturday, 10 June edition. It says, “Marathon Denied Water Grant.” I am talking here about the fascinating world of sewers and water, an environment which the minister prides himself on being comfortable with. It says on top, “Mayor Threatens Province with War.”
Those are very harsh words, the reason being that the people of Marathon were given the promise, and I quote from a letter signed by the Minister of the Environment addressed to the township of Marathon, “The township has been assessed under the ministry’s priority system and I am pleased to inform you” -- he is talking to Reeve Bell -- “that the project qualifies for grants under our direct grant program.”
Then the conclusion, by way of --
The Speaker: The question.
Mr Pouliot: I am getting to my question.
“I am pleased that the province of Ontario, and in particular the Ministry of the Environment, is able to share in the program.”
Why will the people who are working in northern Ontario at Lac Minerals not be able to have a residence and therefore --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Pouliot: -- will have to move elsewhere because the minister has reneged on his --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: The former minister would know this. Of course, I know the member just did not have time to read the entire letter to the House, otherwise he would have read the paragraph that probably says -- although I do not have the letter with me; there is usually a paragraph in there that says -- that this is not a commitment of funds. It says that they are eligible. There are a lot of members in this Legislature who have communities which make application for funds and the Treasurer has in fact provided some $196 million across the province for such funds.
I am sure that there are many communities which would like to have even more money, and we send them a letter indicating that their program is eligible, and then the project priority evaluation committee of the Ministry of the Environment goes through these. It uses the criteria and I think all members who are fair-minded, and they are in this House, know that it is a fair evaluation that it goes through.
The first consideration is the environmental impact. The last consideration is growth. What the member is saying on behalf of his constituents, and that is quite legitimate, is that the Ministry of the Environment used the growth priority ahead of an environmental priority perhaps in another area. I am sure even within the member’s own riding he may have other areas --
The Speaker: Thank you. I have tried to be as fair as possible. The members may be interested in knowing that I allowed both of those members 90 seconds, which is the time for a member’s statement. I hope that we can reduce the time that it takes for questions and responses.
Mr Pouliot: The minister is quite right. I took the time to read about his commitment. The mistake, obviously, was that I believed what I was reading and I also had the time to mention that. He cannot deny the following: 10 times, that is what the paper says. I have done my job. I am beginning to question the minister’s commitment.
I also had the time to look at the proposed revenues, and he can ask his pal there, with respect, the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr R. F. Nixon). who states that mining revenues will go from $13 million to $150 million, and perhaps 40 per cent to 50 per cent of those additional revenues will come from the wealth of Hemlo. What we are asking on behalf of the township of Marathon is that part of the money that is coming from the north to the south be returned up north to provide an essential service. Will the minister make that commitment?
Hon Mr Bradley: I know that members of the Legislature would want to be assured that the Ministry of the Environment would provide the money based on the environmental needs -- the priorities being the environmental needs -- as opposed to simply growth in any specific area. The member indeed has made representations on at least 10 and probably more occasions to me. He has communicated in writing to me about this matter and has certainly championed the cause of the people of his constituency in this particular matter.
However, I want to indicate and remind him that the taxpayers of the province have already provided $3.2 million for the growth-related projects in that area -- stage 1 and stage 2 -- and that the municipality is able to make further application if it sees fit. Also, I might suggest that since the mining companies are making so much money out of this particular project, they may do as they have in other circumstances, and that is that perhaps the mining company itself would like to make a contribution to that particular project.
DISMISSAL OF PUBLIC SERVANTS
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. A member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union recently brought to my attention the situation of four employees at the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia who were fired after being charged by the Ontario Provincial Police with assault. These workers claim that section 18 of the Public Service Act was not used in their case as it is with other government ministries.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services claims it conducted a fair investigation, but the results of that investigation were never made public. Two of the four dismissed workers have been employed for 14 and 17 years respectively, and all have filed a grievance.
Can the minister explain why section 18 of the Public Service Act was not used in the case of the four dismissed employees?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I am aware of the incident the honourable member draws to my attention. The allegations that were levelled against the four employees were brought to our attention by other employees in the same institution. They were very serious. They involved a serious physical assault on residents there. The police were immediately involved.
During the process of the investigation, the employees were suspended with pay. When the evidence was clear that the charges were true, the employees in question were dismissed from their employment and I believe they will be coming up in court and will be charged officially in court. I am not sure why the particular section the member drew to my attention was not used. I will check that to be sure that is the case, and try to give him a reason as soon as possible.
Mr McLean: That really is the basis of the question, why section 18 was not used. We understand it is used in every other ministry when the same situation occurs, but these employees have now been charged by the OPP. We understand the investigation was done within, too. They are now dismissed without pay, and they have not had their day in court yet. That is the reason to be concerned about these employees, who are out of a job. They have filed their grievance, the grievance was not heard and has not gone to court and they are not being paid.
Should they not still be on payroll until they are proved guilty?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I will check, as the member has asked.
1987 CONSTITUTIONAL ACCORD
Mr McLean: I have a petition signed by 22 people that 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:
“To withdraw the support of the province of Ontario towards the Meech Lake accord. Please do not permit the accord as is.
“The following, ‘2(1) of the Constitution of Canada shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with...the recognition that Quebec constitutes a distinct society,’ must never be part of our Canadian Constitution.
“There must be no exemptions between the provinces. We must have one Canada and one law governing all provinces. from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Any other solution will bring the destruction of Canada.
“We must maintain one Canada and one law for all of us. If not, the following will happen, not at the instant, but it will come.
“First there will be suspicion, then friction, then disruption of the democratic order, and the end is anarchy and dictatorship. We see the beginning in Quebec at present, and it will spread all over Canada, province against province. French against English.”
The Speaker: I called for petitions. It is difficult to hear and to see. I will call for petitions once again.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
ONTARIO MINERAL EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 33, An Act to Revise the Ontario Mineral Exploration Program Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Conway: This act repeals the earlier mineral exploration program and replaces it with a new act that allows the Minister of Mines to establish regulations to allow new incentive programs, such as the ones that were announced by the provincial Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) in his most recent budget, to come into effect.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
POLICE AND SHERIFFS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 187, An Act to amend certain Acts as they relate to Police and Sheriffs.
Mr Offer: Mr Chairman, would it be possible for me to move down?
The Chairman: I am sure there is agreement to have the parliamentary assistant come to the front row and get his assistants at a table. Agreed?
The Chairman: At this point, as we are getting set up, I would like to call for people right now to list possible amendments, questions or whatever and to which section.
Mr Sterling: I have an amendment to section 5 and I was expecting my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) to introduce amendments to section 1 of the bill, as he did in committee. I wonder if the table has a copy of the amendments that were put forward during the clause-by-clause hearing of the bill in the standing committee on administration of justice.
The Chairman: We have received nothing to date.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: The member for Carleton is absolutely right. There are amendments that are forthcoming. There has been a small hitch in getting hold of them at this instant in that they are in one member’s office, which is not the member for Welland-Thorold’s office. He is trying to get them at this point. If it would be possible to stand down the sections where the amendments were made in the past case and have them reintroduced in the committee of the whole, that would be very helpful to us.
The Chairman: Would you have a list? Would you note which sections?
Mr R. F. Johnston: I think the member for Carleton might be able to help with one or two of them, but I think it would have to wait for a few minutes.
Mr Sterling: Perhaps I can assist. There are only six sections in the legislation and all of the amendments brought forward during the clause-by-clause hearing at the justice committee were to section 1 of the bill, save and except for the amendment I have in front of me as an amendment which I will be putting forward, and that is to section 5 of the bill.
The Chairman: In that first section, would there just be one amendment or a series of amendments?
Mr Sterling: I believe he introduced three amendments. Actually, he introduced four amendments, one of which was similar to a government motion and was carried. So I imagine there would be at least three, and perhaps four.
May I say at the outset that the reason for our being in committee of the whole House is as follows: After we had met at the standing committee on administration of justice, we received a further submission that we thought was rather important to the hearings. This came from Judge Nevins of the provincial court (family division). Because it strikes right to the heart of the amendments that were being put forward by the member for Welland-Thorold and were supported by myself during the hearings in the justice committee, it was thought we should put it into committee of the whole House. I believe the parliamentary assistant agreed as well that this was the proper process.
For the members of the Legislature, perhaps I should at the outset explain what Bill 187 is about and the points of contention in it. Bill 187 is an act that amends certain other acts as they relate to police and the sheriffs. Up to this point in time, in our courtrooms across Ontario, the police have been responsible for part of the security function and another officer known as the sheriff has also been responsible for some of the security in the courthouses.
This piece of legislation makes it clear that municipalities will be assuming the function of ensuring the security in all of our courthouses. There has been great objection on the part of the municipalities. There were a number of representations that came before the committee, mainly by the municipalities and the police forces, because up to this time the province has shared in the cost of providing security.
This bill clearly draws away that responsibility and takes it off the shoulders of the province and puts it on to the shoulders of the municipalities. We have had estimates by the municipalities that it is going to cost some $100 million more to municipalities across the province because of this move, and they are very, very upset about that.
In addition to that, the other important document the government continues to shield with regard to Bill 187 is the Anderson report. The Anderson report is a report that was asked for by the Attorney General (Mr Scott) to deal with this issue. The government has been hiding this document, even though it has fallen into the hands of the opposition at this time. The reason the government has been hiding this document is that it is very embarrassing to read the report and then look at the legislation. What the legislation does is take all of the good parts for the province, but none of the good parts for the municipalities.
General Anderson, who headed up this task force, came forward with several recommendations. It was his feeling municipal police forces were the best able to handle security in the courthouses. However, in his recommendations, he makes a strong case for the province to take an active role in (1) setting standards of security, and (2) accepting the financial responsibility this would place on our municipalities after this act would go into force.
What the government did was accept the recommendation that municipal police forces be responsible for security, but neglect to include in the legislation or to make any policy statements as to (1) the standard of security, and (2) the cost of that security.
General Anderson, on page 24 of his report, puts forward nine recommendations and then puts forward five recommendations for the implementation of these. I think it is important that we go over those recommendations. It is also important to notice that General Anderson did not have a consensus of the committee he was placed on and therefore there was a very important element of dissent, as we would speculate from this report, whereby there was a feeling that security for courtrooms should have been taken over by Ontario and that this should be done either through the Ontario Provincial Police or some other security force that would be specially trained to deal with security in the courtroom.
The way the system works now is that if a dispute arises in a courtroom as to the level of security, the sheriff of that particular area -- for instance, in Ottawa-Carleton the sheriff of Ottawa-Carleton is R. B. Hamilton -- acts as the broker between the justice system -- the judge in most cases -- and the police who provide that security.
At the present time, of course, the province is paying for some of that security taking place in the courtroom. Under this proposal the municipality, through its police force, will be paying the whole shot. So there is definitely going to be a push-pull situation which will result as Bill 187 goes through.
Judges, in the interests of their security in the courtroom, will be demanding a very high level of security. Judges do not have the right to tell municipal councils, or the council or board responsible for policing in the municipality, how much they must spend on providing that security.
The police who would be asked to go into the courtroom might have a different view of the level of security that might be required in that courtroom. The judge may say, “I want three uniformed police officers in my courtroom this afternoon for case X,” and the police may say, “We can’t afford to give you three full constables this afternoon, so we will only give you one constable or we will give you another type of security through a security officer of some type with less training than a constable might have.”
The problem will be whether or not the case goes ahead. We have talked about court reforms in this province and the wonderful bills we discussed yesterday and gave our support to. But we said yesterday that it requires not only a change in the law; it requires the necessary resources for the justice system to operate in an efficient manner.
What we have today, through Bill 187, is an exact example of our concern that this government is not putting its fair share towards our justice system. What they are doing here is withdrawing some of the existing support they have for our justice system by saying that municipalities now are going to be responsible for paying the shot for security.
The bill makes it very clear that the judges do not have the final say with regard to security in their courtroom. I believe that is a very significant problem. If there is a standoff, then a judge’s only option is to say, “This case cannot go ahead because of the lack of security.”
During the committee and during the hearings, we have attempted to have the province accept some level of responsibility for setting standards so that the conflict we predict will flow from Bill 187 would not occur.
We would like, as General Anderson has said in his report to the minister -- I am reading from implementation recommendation (a) on page 25 of the report -- “that the Attorney General, in consultation with the Solicitor General, provide guidelines governing minimum levels required for court security.” The Attorney General has indicated he has no intention of providing any minimum guidelines for the level of court security.
The government is saying, “If the municipalities are going to be responsible for it, they are going to have to establish their own level of acceptance of court security.” This means that under paragraphs 57a(1)2 and 3 of the new bill, we are going to have a different standard of security as we go across our province, from division 1 to division 8. In fact, even within those divisions, there will be different levels of security when you go from one municipality to another.
One of the other very serious problems with the way Bill 187 is structured is that in some cases municipalities will get off scot-free while other municipalities will be paying the full shot, even though they are dealing with another police force that is located outside their municipality.
This is particularly true in Ottawa-Carleton, Mr Chairman, which you are somewhat familiar with. In Ottawa-Carleton, the people I represent will benefit greatly from Bill 187. The city of Kanata, where there is a police force, will not be accepting any responsibility for providing security in the courtroom. The city of Nepean and the city of Gloucester, both of which have their own police forces and utilize the courthouse every day of the year that the court is sitting, will not be in any way financially responsible for providing court security in the courthouse in Ottawa.
The city of Ottawa taxpayers will see the negative impact of Bill 187, because they will become overall responsible for all the security in the courthouse. Even though a particular incident in the criminal courts may have taken place in the city of Nepean, the city of Gloucester, the city of Kanata or wherever, this bill puts the total responsibility on the police force where the courthouse is located. Therefore, if it is the choice of this government to foist this upon the municipalities, it is not fair that it be done in this manner.
The greatest concern that we in the opposition have relates to the fact that we see this as a further impediment to a system of justice which is already operating at a very slow pace. We believe this will lead to longer delays for trials.
I think at this time I would like to read into the record the submission of Judge Nevins, because many of his arguments are the arguments that have been put forward by the opposition parties during these hearings.
“I am writing to you as chairman of the law reform committee of the Ontario Family Court Judges Association. The usual policy of our association is that we do not attempt to involve ourselves either publicly or privately in formulation or discussion of new legislation unless we are requested to do so. However, because of the obvious and profound practical implications that this bill has for all judges in Ontario, our board of directors has requested that I forward to you our concerns over this proposed legislation.”
In other words, we do not normally get letters from judges about legislation, because they try to distance themselves from this Legislature as frequently as they possibly can. It would have been nice, however, had they been properly consulted and their concerns taken into account in Bill 187.
“Because of this, may I make the following comments for your consideration. Our committee has considered this bill by examining not only its text but the explanatory notes that accompany it and as well the statement to the Legislature made by the Attorney General on 17 November 1988 and a directive from the executive director of courts administration, also dated 17 November 1988.
“Considering all these sources, I think it is fair to say that our overriding concern may be summarized as follows: This bill does not appear to achieve a fundamental and essential objective, namely, the provision of consistent, efficient and effective security in all courts throughout the province.” They have no confidence in this legislation.
“Although the stated intention of this bill is to ensure that local police forces and police officers will be responsible for providing courthouse security, that insurance is not provided in the bill itself. At the time the bill was introduced for first reading on 17 November 1988, the Attorney General made the following comments in his statement to the Legislature:
“‘The purpose of this bill is to make clear in statutory terms that municipalities, either through their municipal police forces or through a contractual arrangement with the Ontario Provincial Police where there are no municipal police forces, have responsibility for providing security in the province’s courthouses.’
“We believe the existing police agencies in this province are in the best position to judge the level of security required in our courthouses. We have discussed the general principle of this bill with the courts advisory committee composed of the Chief Justice and the chief judges of the courts in this province. They concur with the government’s decision that security of the users of our courthouses is best ensured by using the trained police officers who serve all of the residents of the province.”
This is what the Attorney General said further on introducing this bill:
“‘I have indicated to them that while the municipal police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police will provide general security for the courthouses, the sheriff and his officers will continue their traditional role of ensuring decorum within courtrooms.”’
In a memorandum, also dated 17 November 1988, the executive director of courts administration, announcing the introduction of this bill in the House, makes the following statements:
“This bill requires the police to be responsible for court security. The sheriff and his staff will continue to be responsible for decorum within the courtrooms, while the police will look after the security of the courthouse and of persons in custody.
“On examination of the text of the bill itself, and in particular section 57a, we see nothing whatsoever that provides for the presence of ‘trained police officers,’ uniformed or otherwise, who will be present to, in the words of the bill, ensure ‘the security of judges and of persons taking part in or attending proceedings’ or ‘the security of the premises’ or ‘the secure custody of persons in custody who are on or about the premises including persons taken into custody at proceedings.’ The bill itself merely provides that a board or a council has the responsibility of providing this security. We see nothing in the bill that prevents either a municipal council or in fact a police board from contracting out this responsibility to other individuals or groups, such as commercially operated security services or commissionaires.
“You may or may not be aware of the existing practice in Ontario whereby in a great many, if not most, of the family courts, security in the courthouse and the courtroom itself is provided by commissionaires by virtue of a contractual arrangement with the sheriff’s office. The troublesome question for our members has always been the degree of authority that these persons possess by virtue of this arrangement and also the practical efficiency of these untrained attendants.
“To add to our concern in this regard is the comment by the Attorney General, and repeated by the executive director of the courts, that the police will provide the security of the courthouse and persons in custody, and yet the sheriff will continue the role of ensuring decorum within the courtrooms. Since this bill contemplates the repeal of that section of the Sheriffs Act that obliges the sheriff to give his attendance upon the judges for the maintenance of good order, we are left confused as to what the role of the sheriff and his officers will be and precisely what the expression ‘decorum within the courtrooms’ means.
“We are given to understand that certain submissions have been made to date suggesting that police forces do not have the funds or resources available to provide the security anticipated by statements made outside of the bill. If this is the case, or if we may reasonably expect that this argument will be made, then l am sure you can see the basis for our concerns. Even if this bill is passed into statute, regardless of which body has the responsibility for providing security, who in fact will be present in the courthouse and courtrooms and with what degree of authority? How can the judges in Ontario and the users of the courts in Ontario be assured of a consistent standard of security throughout this province?
“It is an unfortunate but probably inevitable comment on our times that courtroom security has become a major issue, at least in the family court. The implementation of the Young Offenders Act has changed dramatically the nature of proceedings in this court such that consistent, real security is a necessity.
“We would appreciate it if you would consider these comments in your deliberations.”
We did not have the benefit of that submission in the standing committee on administration of justice, and I would hope the Attorney General would react by bringing forward amendments to Bill 187 to properly reflect the concerns put forward by the provincial court (family division) for a standard of security, for an assurance that the province is going to pick up some of the tab to provide proper security for our family courts and for a clarification of what the sheriff’s responsibilities in court security really are.
I look forward to commenting on each and every amendment which my colleague and I put forward during these deliberations. In a general way, that is what the arguments over this legislation are, and I really would hope that the government might have had some second thoughts after reading this most recent submission.
The Chairman: We are still waiting to get back photocopies of the section 1 amendments; we have sent down for them and we should get them in a few seconds.
Mr Offer: Mr Chairman, while we are waiting I wonder if I might ask whether the member for Welland-Thorold would like to make some general opening remarks. Then I would be more than pleased to do so.
Mr Kormos: There are two amendments that I will be putting forth today. I think it is important to understand that so much of the focus has been on the security for judges themselves, and rightly so. Indeed, here in Toronto, in old city hall some provincial judges have been very vocal about the obvious lack of security available to them.
Even this bill speaks of the security not only of judges but of persons taking part in or attending proceedings. Oftentimes, these are people -- not the judges, but participants -- who may be witnesses, family and friends of participants or litigants or family and friends of victims or accused. These are the people who as often as not are finding themselves in positions of risk along with the judges and court staff.
It is equally important to understand that courtroom security is not just a matter of staffing courtrooms with police officers or other types of security personnel. Indeed, in the Report of the Ontario Courts Inquiry by Mr Justice Zuber in 1987, he comments in several points of that report on the quality of accommodation available and the poor quality giving rise to serious security concerns. He writes:
“In some areas, however, the choice of court location threatens to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Some courts are housed in shopping centres, in hotels, beside taverns, or in one case, in a Lions Club dancehall, right beside the bar, over which is hung a toilet seat.”
He also observes:
“Security must form an integral part of any courthouse. Courthouse security takes a number of different forms. The transportation of prisoners, both to the courthouse and from a holding cell to the courthouse, involves one form of security.”
He says this type of security is explored and recommendations made earlier.
“The second type of courthouse security involves the design of the building itself. It is recommended that the courthouse should be designed so that judges and jurors have secure access to the courtrooms and the accused also has secure but separate access to the courtrooms from the holding areas.”
In Welland-Thorold we are well served by a good bench at the provincial court level and at other court levels. Provincial courts in Welland, for instance, are held in locations that were never designed to be courtrooms; they are not only difficult to find for people who want to or are required to participate in the court proceedings but are totally unsuited both in location and design to even accommodate in any real way the people involved, least of all to provide the slightest bit of physical security or security that could be derived from design.
Concerning neighbouring communities in the judicial district of Niagara South: In Port Colborne, for instance, the provincial court is obliged to use the city council chambers. Once again a full complement of police officers, because of the difficult design that they are confronted with, is never going to provide adequate security in the provincial court in Port Colborne because the city council chambers were designed to be city council chambers and not a courtroom.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Not when you are litigating.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kormos: I think I heard the Minister of Labour say something but I did not understand what it was he had to say.
Fort Erie uses a revised police station. Niagara Falls, once again, uses an obsolete building, city hall, that was deemed obsolete for city council but appropriate for the provincial courts. Niagara Falls, quite frankly, has had very specific problems with prisoner escapes and problems with the provincial judges there having their security directly threatened, if only because of their proximity to the routing of accused persons from holding cells in the basement to the upper floors where courts are conducted. Once again, a full complement of police officers is not going to overcome the design problems that are inherent in using buildings like this inappropriately for courtrooms.
Zuber comments not only on these but on some of the grossly inappropriate locations. He speaks of Lions Club halls and certainly the Royal Canadian Legion basements, which work fine until noontime, until the draught beer starts being poured and the conduct of the courtroom is interrupted by the clash and jingle of draught glasses.
It remains that this bit of legislation does not provide courtroom security, because courtroom security is part and parcel of an overall package. it requires physical accommodations which are properly designed to accommodate courtrooms, to accommodate judges, witnesses, police officers and the accused, be he or she in or out of custody. It requires a standard, and that has already been spoken of, because one of the requirements here --
Mr Haggerty: The libraries in the county --
The Chairman: Order, please.
Mr Kormos: What would Mr Haggerty know about books in a library, least of all in a law library?
Mr Haggerty: I was on county council; I knew all about it.
The Chairman: Order, please.
Mr Kormos: I am sorry, Mr Chairman.
The Chairman: No interjections, and address your remarks through the Chairman.
Mr Kormos: Yes, Mr Chairman. I would be very surprised if he knew about books and libraries. It remains that this legislation --
Mr Ballinger: You think you’re the only one in here.
The Chairman: Order, please.
Mr Kormos: Sorry, Mr Chairman. What I asked the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) was, does he have to practise to be stupid or does it come naturally?
The Chairman: Please, that is not parliamentary language.
Mr Kormos: I have asked him the question.
The Chairman: I do not think --
Mr Kormos: I appreciate that is not parliamentary. It was not, under the circumstances, a valid question.
I am trying to address legislation that the government is proposing that purports to deal with a particular problem, a problem that all recognize, a problem that affects virtually every community across the province, a problem that is not shared just by judges or crown attorneys or lawyers but by the personnel who involve themselves, sometimes unwillingly by virtue of being witnesses, in courtroom proceedings.
The availability of police officers to perform this function obviously becomes a very realistic problem. I know that in Niagara region there are certain days where the number of police officers involved in their obligations is such that there are not police officers available to adequately patrol neighbourhoods. I know that the cost to the Niagara region to implement the type of plan and procedure that is contemplated here would be considerable and one the region is ill prepared to accept.
I have two motions.
The Chairman: Are you ready to proceed with that now?
Mr Kormos: Yes, I have two motions I will speak to. Both of them deal with the requirement that there be a standard and that there be provincial acceptance of responsibility for the cost that is going to be incurred by communities. A standard is not provided for in the bill, and there is certainly no concept of reimbursement to the communities for the incredible cost that is going to be incurred.
The Chairman: I would like, now that we seem to have everything in place, to ask again if there are any more --
Mr Ballinger: Now that Peter has settled down.
The Chairman: Please. I want to make sure that I have the complete list of the amendments. So far I have, from the member for Welland-Thorold, two amendments sent over for section 1, and, from the member for Carleton, one amendment to section 5. Before we proceed. do other members have any other amendments that they would like to bring forward, and if so, to which section? Therefore, we have a complete list.
Mr Offer: I do not have a copy of the amendments at this point in time. I do not know if this is the proper time to provide us with copies, but since he is speaking to them, I think it is just about getting to be that time.
The Chairman: The Clerk Assistant will be providing the members with copies.
Mr Sterling: There were some government amendments. Are they reprinted in the bill as of now?
Mr Offer: My understanding is that the amendments that were passed in committee and that were referred would be now part of the legislation and are not necessarily to be moved in committee of the whole. If that is correct, I would like the Chairman to confirm that.
The Chairman: I think the bill, the copies that members have, is reprinted as amended and approved, so they are in there. Are we ready to proceed?
Mr Offer: Yes.
The Chairman: Would the member bring forward his amendment?
Mr Kormos: The first amendment is an amendment to what is section 1 of the bill, which affects section 57a of the Police Act.
The Chairman: Mr Kormos moves that subsection 1(1) of Bill 187 be amended as follows:
That there be the addition of a paragraph, paragraph 5, in view of the fact that paragraph 4 was an amendment made in committee, and paragraph 5 would read:
“5. The Ministry of the Attorney General shall at all times reimburse a board or council for the costs it incurs in providing security pursuant to this act.”
At this point I would like to tell the member that we have a problem with that. I have to rule it out of order. If the member would like to take his standing orders and refer to page 4, standing order 15, I will read it to him:
“15. Any bill, resolution, motion or address, the passage of which would impose a tax or specifically direct the allocation of public funds, shall not be passed by the House unless recommended by a message from the Lieutenant Governor, and shall be proposed only by a minister of the crown.”
Mr Kormos: I understand, and we confronted that in committee. I am wondering, in view of that, if the Attorney General would be prepared to make that motion seeking that particular amendment.
Mr Offer: We did in committee, and I take the chair’s ruling on that, give unanimous consent for that discussion, and we would have no objection to doing that at this particular point in time, if that is proper.
Mr Sterling: I do not have a copy of the amendments and I cannot debate this bill unless I have a copy.
Mr Offer: Mr Chairman, if you have indicated that according to the standing orders this is clearly out of order, then so be it. It is out of order.
The Chairman: It is, because it is also contrary to the Legislative Assembly Act and it is contrary to the standing orders. I am faced with very much of a dilemma here.
Mr Sterling: I know. I am faced with even more of a dilemma. I have not seen the amendment. I might be able to assist the member for Welland-Thorold in putting the amendment in order. That is why I want to see the particular amendment.
The Chairman: We have sent some pages and they will bring you some copies. While we are going to wait for you to get your copy of the amendment, I am consulting here with the Clerk at the table, but we have a serious problem with that.
The Clerk Assistant at the table was conferring with me and I agree with him that if you want to discuss this particular point, that “The Ministry of the Attorney General shall at all times reimburse a board or council for the costs it incurs in providing security pursuant to this act,” if the minister is willing to look at that, fine or whatever, but I cannot accept it theoretically because it is out of order with a standing order in the Legislative Assembly Act.
Hon Mr Sweeney: If the amendment is out of order, you cannot debate it.
The Chairman: That is right.
Mr Offer: If it is out of order, it is not debatable, and I think that ends the matter. I would hope that the member for Carleton is now in receipt of the amendments so that we might be able to proceed with the clause-by-clause analysis of this particular piece of legislation, because we are ready to go.
The Chairman: Has the member for Carleton received his copies already? No? Okay.
This is the first time this has happened to me when I am chairing, but I remind all members who wish to present amendments it is their responsibility to supply to the other two parties, their critics or correspondents, and to the table at the front, of course -- that is automatic -- copies of what they would like to amend. That being said, we hope this kind of delay will not happen again.
Would the member for Carleton wish to comment that we have ruled it out of order? Does he have a comment before we proceed to the other amendment to section 1?
Mr Sterling: No, I do not have a comment.
The Chairman: Then we may proceed with the other amendment.
Mr Kormos moves that section 1 of Bill 187 be amended as follows: that in subsection 57a(1) of the Police Act, the words “a board or council responsible for the policing of a municipality” be deleted and be replaced by the words “the Ontario Provincial Police Force.”
Would the member for Welland-Thorold have an explanation?
Mr Kormos: Please. Paragraph 57a(1)2 of the Police Act, which is in subsection 1(1) of the bill, obviously contemplates that the Ontario Provincial Police will be performing the function of security, at least in those parts of the municipality where they have exclusive responsibility for policing. So there is certainly no suggestion that the OPP is not an appropriate body to perform this function. There are two major issues.
1. One police force performing all the courtroom security across the province will permit a consistency and the generation of a standard that is spoken of by, among others, Judge Nevins in his letter to the committee.
2. It would make it clear that the cost would be borne appropriately by the provincial government, which is responsible for the administration of justice in the province, as compared to being borne by ratepayers in given municipalities from whom comes the money for paying municipal police forces. Those are the two major considerations.
The third consideration is the fact that the OPP has more manpower, womanpower and person-power available to it, so that it can allocate people to staff various courtrooms at various times, recognizing that the need for security will vary from day to day and will not be consistent on every day of the week, but will depend upon the types of cases being heard and the types of individuals being dealt with in any given instance.
The bottom line, though -- and I appreciate the chair’s ruling on the earlier motion by myself -- is the matter of who is going to pay. The province clearly has the responsibility for administering justice in the province. The use or utilization of municipal police forces for providing courtroom security -- and, once again, there are some areas, and I am speaking specifically now of the Niagara region, where it is a regional police force that has the responsibility, and would have the responsibility pursuant to this bill, to make itself responsible for a large number of courtrooms, even on any given day; because throughout the Niagara region, there are any number of courtrooms, four or five, perhaps more, that would be sitting simultaneously in different physical locations.
That means an incredible burden is going to be placed on the Niagara regional police, who are paid, of course, out of municipal ratepayer sources. The government has already indicated there was consideration or discussion of an increase in per household grants to municipalities, a $3-per-household grant, that was announced in 1984-85.
This was articulated, at the time, as being there to reimburse in part for the cost of transporting prisoners and accused persons from detention centres, holding areas and police stations to courtrooms. There was brief reference made to the matter of courtroom security, but it was certainly not in contemplation of as thorough and rigorous a responsibility as is imposed on municipal police forces under this particular bit of legislation.
As has already been indicated, it also creates two standards across the province. For those municipalities that are policed by the OPP, the ratepayer, the municipal taxpayer, will not be responsible for the provision of courtroom security because the OPP is going to assume that role or function.
In municipalities like Niagara region, like Welland-Thorold, where there is a municipal police force, the cost of security in the courtroom is going to be pushed directly on to property taxpayers. It is not going to be borne by the province. The province is going to be abdicating its responsibility to basically provide secure courtrooms, both in physical design and in terms of staffing them with security personnel.
Mr Sterling: Not in family court.
Mr Kormos: Wrong again. What happens is that, right now, police forces like the Niagara regional police force are attempting to use civilian personnel, who are not police officers, to transport prisoners, because of the incredible cost that would create if police officers were being used for that.
That creates a problem, because these good gentlemen and women are not trained as police officers, are not armed and do not have the capacity of a police officer in that they are not sworn police officers. So that really is problematic.
It is said that, sure, in a criminal court, oftentimes police officers are there in any event, because they are witnesses in proceedings; but what those police officers cannot do is maintain a minimum standard of security, because they are involving themselves with any number of things. They are interviewing witnesses. They are going to and from the courtroom. Indeed, oftentimes, they are police officers who are supposed to be on duty out on the street. So as soon as their particular matter is over, they are back out on the street, in their cars or at their stations, wherever it is they are supposed to be. They are not going to linger in a courtroom. Indeed, if they were, they would be subject to criticism, because they are not supposed to be in the courtroom other than for the purpose of giving evidence.
This bill requires the police to man the courtroom specifically for the purpose of providing security. It does not generate a standard for them. It does not generate any relief for municipal taxpayers, but it imposes a responsibility. It significantly affects the quality of policing in communities, because police officers are going to have to be deployed into courtrooms rather than out on the street, and it generates an incredible cost for property taxpayers in municipalities across the province, certainly in Welland-Thorold.
I would only add that Welland-Thorold is already hard hit because of the incredible costs across all of Niagara region of the Colter inquiry into the Niagara Regional Police, costs which are in part paid by the province, but not those costs, millions of dollars, incurred by the Niagara Regional Board of Police Commissioners, which of course has to appear in front of this hearing represented by a counsel. Those costs are already creating an incredible burden for the police budget in Niagara region, for people in Welland-Thorold, and this will create costs that are equal to that, if not greater. The community is no more capable of bearing these new costs that this government is creating than it is the costs of the Niagara regional inquiry.
Mr Sterling: I want to support the amendment put forward by my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold, who prior to his incarnation as a member of this Legislature, most recently, I guess in the last six months, was involved in the practice of law in his community and is very much familiar with this issue, as he dealt with it on a day-to-day basis. I did have some limited practice in the courtrooms of Ontario, but that was some time ago and therefore I do not have the same first-hand knowledge that he does.
This particular amendment gets over several problems that have been brought to the fore by many of the people who appeared in front of the justice committee during our recess between 2 February and 25 April, I believe was when we returned here.
This amendment does a number of things. First of all, by putting it all in the hands of the Ontario Provincial Police Force, it takes care of the -- I am not sure of the figure, and I may have erred in saying it was a $100-million problem. I had heard that for one area of the province it was $20 million, but that was the area where it is more greatly populated, so I may have exaggerated when I said $100 million, but in spite of that, it is going to cost municipalities well in excess of $20 million in order to take over this responsibility.
By accepting the amendment that the member for Welland-Thorold has put forward, we are taking the responsibility the administration of justice should have and putting it on the shoulders of the provincial taxpayer as a whole. As I expressed in my opening remarks, this law, Bill 187, is an unfair meting out of financial responsibility for court security on some of our citizens of Ontario while letting other citizens of Ontario off scot-free.
I should not be complaining, because the riding of Carleton gets off scot-free. But I do not hear the members for Ottawa Centre (Mr Patten), Ottawa West (Mr Chiarelli), Ottawa South (Mr McGuinty) or Ottawa East (Mr Grandmaître) being concerned about what their property taxpayers are going to pay in order to provide security in the Ottawa courthouse. They do not seem to be concerned about their constituents.
As the only member of the Ottawa-Carleton area who seems to want to bring to the fore some of the concerns of the taxpayers, even though they are not within my own constituency, I think it is unfair to the city of Ottawa to burden them with the full costs of security when many of the cases and the police forces that are utilizing the court facilities in Ottawa come from outside that area.
This is not only true in the Ottawa-Carleton area, it is true right across this province. We saw that in terms of the return we had received from the provincial police associations. In some municipalities, when they were asked what impact this would have on them, the answer was zero in some cases and a very large figure in other cases.
What this amendment does is take care of the financial problem. Our rules are somewhat archaic in the kinds of amendments we can put forward in this Legislature. The chairman rightly ruled out of order the previous amendment the member for Welland-Thorold put forward that financial responsibility be accepted by the province in compensating the municipality. We still have this archaic rule in our standing rules, and I believe it is actually embodied in the Constitution of Canada, I think in section 15 or 16. I do not know if the clerk nodded. Was it section 15?
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: It is a standing order.
Mr Sterling: I thought the Constitution would have to be changed in order for us to be able to change our standing orders to allow us to introduce amendments which would impose some financial burden on the province.
We have an anomaly. What we have to do is word an amendment in another way by saying the government is going to provide a service rather than cash, which is kind of a ridiculous rule to stand by. As parliamentarians, I think we should change that rule rather than bring forward the draconian changes this government is doing to try to muzzle the opposition in the future.
While I am supporting this particular amendment, one of the things that was brought up time and time again during the public hearings was the apparent conflict of interest that will occur in our courtrooms from day to day.
One of the reasons the police forces themselves do not want to be involved in courtroom security is the fact that in many cases they are on one side of the case. They are prosecuting individuals in our courtrooms on a daily basis, yet the judge who is sitting in judgement against the accused has to deal with the police as to his own security and the security of the other people in his courtroom.
This was brought forward as a matter of policy and interest by the police themselves. They saw that this was a very direct conflict and were not satisfied with the status quo where they now provide some security within our own courtrooms. It seems to me that if a judge is not satisfied with the deal that has been struck for that day for security in his courtroom, he very well, inadvertently, mind you, might make a disposition of that case which he might not otherwise do if he was not dealing with one of the litigants in the case.
It is the same as my going into a courtroom and being on one side of the courtroom against another person in a civil lawsuit, with the judge saying to me. “Mr Sterling, I need your assistance in such-and-such a case.” So we have to negotiate a deal, the judge and myself, before I enter into the trial. Then the judge is supposed to have a clean and objective mind as to the issues placed in front of him in making the decision.
I do not think the courtroom security issue is going to cloud the judgement of many of our judges in Ontario, but it has the potential for conflict of interest to occur right at the very heart of our justice system. This point was brought forward by many of the police forces and by many of the people who appeared in front of the standing committee on administration of justice in March.
While I support this amendment because it deals with the cost situation, I would also prefer, quite frankly, to see the Attorney General create his own security force for our courtrooms across Ontario and provide it with a standard of training which would be acceptable across the province.
The other good part about the amendment that the member for Welland-Thorold has brought forward, however, is that by having one police force involved in it rather than -- I believe there are 48 or 50 different police forces in Ontario -- they could properly train those police officers as to special duties that would be required to provide adequate security within our courtrooms.
While members opposite have talked about police officers bringing in the accused, we are not talking about a court security problem only when we are dealing with a criminal process. In fact, most practising lawyers would tell you that security in a courtroom is more important in family court than it is in any other court. That is because emotions run much higher in family court. There are no police around in family court in normal hearings and now, as Judge Nevins has pointed out to us, there is a significant problem in dealing with young offenders in the family court environment without having adequate security in that area.
Therefore, I urge the parliamentary assistant to listen to the concerns of Judge Nevins and perhaps accept the amendment of my friend the member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Offer: It gives me pleasure to rise with respect to this amendment. I would like to indicate at the outset that we will not be supporting the amendment and I would like to indicate the reasons upon which we will not be supporting the amendment.
First, it flies in the face of the principle upon which this particular legislation is founded, and that happens to be that the local police force is best able, best equipped, most knowledgeable and most professional to provide the type of security that those who are found within the courthouse not only need but deserve.
Through our deliberations, in terms of some consultations through the committee hearings and clause-by-clause analysis which went on in the justice committee, we have gone through this type of discussion earlier. I would like to once more reiterate that we believe the local police now provide that security in most locales throughout the province. We feel that, in terms of the security in any one particular courtroom or courthouse at any one particular time, we are not talking about a constant.
I am sure, Mr Chairman, you will know from your experience that there are on occasions particular court cases which pose a greater security risk, by their own nature, to those who are found within the courthouse at any one time. The question becomes, who is best to evaluate the type of risk that a particular courthouse runs? We feel it is the local police.
In the area where it is a municipal police force, that force ought to make that decision. If it is in an area in which the Ontario Provincial Police is providing that particular policing, then it should be they. We feel that this type of knowledge, on an ongoing, almost hourly basis, does provide that necessary protection to all of the participants in the courthouse and the courtroom.
As I indicated in my earlier statement when we first went to committee, we were basically confronted with three options: first, to continue the somewhat ad hoc type of approach that goes on now throughout the province; second, to provide somewhat of a provincial police force; third, to give the responsibility to the municipal forces in the area.
We decided, as is our responsibility and in keeping with the principle of how best to secure courtrooms and courthouses in this province, that it is the municipal police force that is best able, best equipped and most knowledgeable and that the people who find themselves within the courthouses are best served by those persons providing that particular service.
I speak without hesitation against this amendment. I believe that the responsibilities ensconced in the legislation currently before members do well to protect the interests, safety and security of the courtrooms, courthouses and all of the participants within them.
Mr Kormos: Having heard everything that has just been said on behalf of the government, the one thing that the municipal police force is least equipped to do is to pay for the enormous cost that is going to be incurred by virtue of the responsibility that this imposes on them.
Having listened very carefully to the government’s argument on this amendment, I am still at a loss to understand how the government can perceive it as in any way being fair when it has already been raised by others in this discussion about the inequity that is generated between areas that are policed exclusively by the OPP and areas which are not policed exclusively by the OPP. In the one area, the OPP will accept the financial cost or burden of courtroom security. In municipalities with their own police forces, the municipal ratepayers are going to have imposed on them the incredible financial cost of courtroom security.
Second, notwithstanding that inequity, it remains that police forces -- at least where I come from in Welland-Thorold in the Niagara region -- do not have the financial resources to permit them to assume this costly responsibility. There is no suggestion anywhere, in anything that the government has said about this, of a means of reimbursing communities, municipalities or property taxpayers for the increased financial burden that this bill imposes on them.
Mr Sterling: It is important that we look back to the Anderson report again. The Anderson report, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, is a report which this government relied on to draw up Bill 187. Recommendation (e) on page 24 says that, “The moneys appropriated to the Ministry of the Attorney General be adequate to ensure that the police can provide the desired level of court security and provide for the safe and secure transportation of prisoners, both at the least possible cost to the government of Ontario.”
What the Anderson report says is that it agrees with the parliamentary assistant that the municipal police forces may be the best ones to provide courtroom security, but that the Attorney General should be the guy who pays the bill. What we have seen this government do is take the nice sections out of the Anderson report which favours the government, shove the responsibility on our municipalities and our property taxpayers and walk away from the situation.
It is totally unacceptable. They have taken a report which was drawn up in consultation among various ministries of this government, and the various ministries have advised the Attorney General that the Attorney General, who is responsible for the administration of justice in this province, should also be responsible for paying the bill.
Municipalities across this province are mighty upset with this government not only for shoving this bill down upon them, but because it has done that in many other cases and is not taking its fair share with regard to this matter. Therefore, I urge any member of the Legislature who has a respect for the property taxpayers in his own constituency to support the member for Welland-Thorold’s amendment to section 1.
Mr Offer: I will be very brief in terms of response. I think what one has to realize in terms of this legislation is that the decision of how best to secure a particular courtroom or courthouse in this province is best left with the municipal police force. As I indicated earlier, that decision-making is best left with the individuals and the particular force that is most knowledgeable and best able and best equipped to determine the type of security that the participants within the courthouse, witnesses, lawyers and judges alike, not only need but deserve.
I make it very clear that this legislation does not prescribe what that decision ought to be. It does say only that the decision is within the discretion of the local police force. This legislation does not say that there must be a first-class constable in every courtroom in every courthouse in this province. What the legislation does say is that the municipal police force is the one that is best able to make the decision to maintain the type of security required in a particular courtroom or courthouse on a particular day.
I believe that that principle, founded within this legislation, is one which serves the people of this province in the most beneficial manner.
Mr Sterling: I was going to raise this issue a little bit later, but the parliamentary assistant draws me into it at this stage. I think it is important to know that when governments make or draw up legislation, they get the best possible advice before they start drawing up their bill, which is Bill 187 in this case.
What did this government do? It had an interministerial committee headed up by General Anderson which reported on 11 September 1987. The very first recommendation was that “the government accept the principle that the Ministry of the Attorney General is the responsible ministry for ensuring that the level of security in the courts of Ontario is adequate.” What does Bill 187 do? It says: “We’re not responsible. We’re going to let each and every municipality decide that.”
I am going to draw to the attention of the Legislature again why that is a dangerous route to take. It was recognized by the government’s own policy advisers. The government has neglected their advice and gone in the exact opposite direction. This is bad law. It is unfair in financial terms and what we have ended up with is a justice system which is going to be weaker than the present justice system after Bill 187 passes.
Mr Kormos: The most recent comment by the parliamentary assistant really generates more concern than anybody might ever have had about the bill, because now it becomes a bill that we are told is addressing the obvious and widespread problem of a lack of courtroom security, but it is a system of so-called courtroom security that has no standard, no financing and no direction, even to those people upon whom the responsibility to provide security is imposed, municipal police forces.
Really, when all is said and done, if and when it ever passes, this bill is going to do nothing to generate more secure courtrooms. The province still is going to be hearing provincial judges on CBC radio morning programs complaining about the lack of security in places like old city hall. People across the community, across the province are still going to hear complaints from judges in smaller communities, those which do not have large courtrooms like old city hall. Participants in litigation, be it criminal courts or noncriminal courts -- family courts -- are still going to be at risk because they do not know what is going to be provided to them. As I say, no financing, no standard, no direction is tantamount to saying we are going to ignore the existing and obvious problem of lack of courtroom security.
The Deputy Chairman: Thank you. Can we now put the question?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The Deputy Chairman: The next amendment we have also deals with section 1. I assume that copies have been distributed. Just for the sake of clarification, could the member for Carleton confirm to me which section this amendment attempts to amend?
Mr Sterling: I had an opportunity to talk with the clerk at the table. I intend to amend section 1 of the bill, which is section 57a of the act, and would be adding a subsection to that part.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr Sterling moves that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
“(4) The Lieutenant Governor in Council shall provide regulations setting out minimum levels of security for premises where court proceedings are conducted.”
Mr Sterling: Under this piece of legislation, we do a number of things, as we have found from the debate until now. First, what we have done is say to municipalities: “You are the best municipal police forces. You are the best to provide this service.” We have just lost the battle with regard to that fight. We in this party felt that it would have been better for the Attorney General himself to have his own security force to deal specifically with security in the courtrooms across Ontario and to pay for it. We have lost that battle. They have dumped this responsibility and the cost of the responsibility on municipal taxpayers who are unfortunate enough to have a courthouse in their municipality. If they do not have a courthouse, they do not pay.
What I would like to do by introducing this amendment is to make certain there is at least a minimum standard of level of security for each and every courtroom across Ontario. It would lessen the conflict which I believe is going to emanate out of Bill 187 between our police forces and the judiciary that runs our courtrooms on a day-to-day basis.
In Bill 187, under section 2 we strip our sheriffs of the responsibility which they formerly had to ensure the safety of our courtrooms. I refer to Judge Nevins’s letter and I ask the parliamentary assistant to respond to Judge Nevins. I am trying to find the comment within the letter that I read earlier in this debate.
This bill contemplates the repeal of that section of the Sheriffs Act that obliges the sheriff to give his attendance upon the judges for the maintenance of good order. We are left confused as to what the role of the sheriff and his officers will be, and precisely what the expression “decorum within the courtrooms” really means.
What we have done in this bill is take away the obligation or the responsibility that the sheriff had. What he did in the past was meet with the judge before he started his hearings. With each and every judge across Ontario, the sheriff would go into the courtrooms and say, “I am responsible, in effect, for providing courtroom security,” and then the sheriff would take the concerns of the judge and go to the police, and sometimes pay the police to put security in the courtroom. But the sheriff was the power broker in dealing with it. So there was an intermediary, or a mediator, in dealings between the police and the judges of our province.
What this bill does is take the sheriff, plucks him out of the courtroom and says: “The judge and the police, you two go at it. But after you go at it, I want you to walk in the courtroom and forget all of the old feelings that might have been created by the police not providing the level of security that the judge sees fit for his or her courtroom, or by the police feeling that they have been leaned on too heavily.”
The only ultimate sanction that a judge has is to say: “I’m not sitting this afternoon because there is inadequate security in my courtroom. It would not be responsible for me, as a judge, to go ahead with the court hearing with this level of security.”
So I have moved as a very bare minimum that the Attorney General, through cabinet, make regulations as to what the minimum level of security shall be across this province. Then, at least we could minimize the confrontation between the police forces of this province and the judiciary on the bench as to what level of security should or should not be in the courtrooms.
I, again, read the recommendations of General Anderson -- the first recommendation of the policy people in the ministries that are involved: the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of the Solicitor General -- that “the government accept the principle that the Ministry of the Attorney General is the responsible ministry for ensuring that the level of security in the courts of Ontario is adequate.”
In his implementation recommendations, the first recommendation is that “the Attorney General, in consultation with the Solicitor General, provide guidelines governing the minimum levels required for court security.”
What we have heard from the parliamentary assistant today is that this government wants to wash its hands of its whole obligation with regard to security in the courtroom. The only way that I can be sure, as a member of this Legislature, that they are going to take any responsibility in this matter is for me to put it in the legislation and force the cabinet of Ontario to take some responsibility in this whole matter.
They failed to take the advice of their policy advisers. They failed to take the advice of the people who came in front of the committee of this Legislature, almost with unanimity, calling for standards. They failed to take the advice of the judiciary, our judges.
The only solace I can get is for us to put a section in this act to force the Attorney General to accept an eensy-teensy little bit of responsibility in this whole matter. That is why I have put forward this amendment, which would force the government to set at least a minimum standard of security and we would ensure each and every litigant, each and every person who is called in front of the courtrooms from one end of the province to the other, that at least there is a bare minimum level of security that he could be ensured was going to be there when he showed up in court on the particular day that he has to go through that unfortunate circumstance.
As I say, I believe it would lessen tensions between our judges and the police and it would make the system a much better system than is envisaged by Bill 187. I still believe Bill 187, as a total, is a negative step for our justice system and is going to lead to more delays because judges, when they get in this conflict, are going to close down courtrooms from time to time because there is not adequate security, in their eyes.
I put forward this amendment in the spirit and the hope that the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General has been listening to the debate and will accept at least one opposition amendment with regard to this legislation. It seems to be a trait of this government that any suggestion put forward by the opposition is, by its nature, not satisfactory to the government. They will not listen to the public input.
In fact, on Monday, I was disgusted by the Liberal Party’s attendance at the justice committee. The Liberal Party has seven members on that committee, and when we had hearings in April, when we had members --
Hon Mr Sorbara: You don’t have any member of your party in the House. Look behind you; there is no one there from the Tory Party.
Mr Sterling: Do you want to call a quorum, Mr Chairman?
The Deputy Chairman ordered the bells rung.
Hon Mr Sorbara: No Tories came into the room.
Mr Pelissero: Let the record show no Tories came into the room.
Miss Roberts: But Norm is the best Tory there is. Let him talk.
The Deputy Chairman: Order, please.
Mr Sterling: I did not think they were awake this late in the legislative week, Mr Chairman.
Mr Allen: You brought them out of the woodwork.
Mr Sterling: Yes, I brought them out of the woodwork.
Hon Mr Conway: We are more listening than your colleagues are.
Mr Sterling: My colleagues relegated this possibility to me and have full confidence in my ability to be able to carry this bill and put forward --
Mr Ballinger: You sound like Kormos.
Mr Sterling: I was saying about the participation of the Liberal backbenchers on Monday -- I was talking about the members -- that during the public hearings we had seven Liberal members on the standing committee on administration of justice, including the parliamentary assistant, Mr Offer, and the chairman, Mr Callahan. But on Monday, even though we had five other Liberal members during the justice committee, to hear the public talk about Bill 187, to hear their submissions -- I believe we had about 20 different submissions from different municipalities, different municipal police forces, from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
We had five Liberals go through all of the public hearings who did not show up on Monday, when we were considering the clause-by-clause section of reading this bill. Therefore, everything that was said during the public hearings went for naught, because we had five trained seals -- red ones -- come into the committee, look over to the parliamentary assistant and ask whether they should nod yes or no, because they had not read the transcripts from the hearings. They had not taken the time, I do not believe, to even read the bill, and when they were asked to bring forward amendments on behalf of the government, they could not even explain their own amendments. What kind of a legislative process does this government want to run?
Now the government is putting forward motions to change the standing orders to muzzle the opposition, and it does not even understand the basic respect which one must have for the parliamentary process in listening to public presentation, taking the best you can out of it, and making some worthwhile amendments to legislation, because it does not matter whether --
Mr Ballinger: Are you saying you guys did for 42 years? You are dreaming.
Mr Sterling: The member for Durham-York --
The Deputy Chairman: Order, please. The member is provoking a bit of disorder and I want to remind him of standing order 19, paragraph (d)2: “In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he...directs his speech to matters other than: (i) the question under discussion, or (ii) a motion or amendment he intends to move, or (iii) a point of order.”
The question under discussion is your amendment and I am asking you to direct your remarks to that amendment.
Mr Sterling: I believe that is exactly what I was doing, because, quite frankly, this government not only will not listen to the opposition or debate, it will not listen to people who put a lot of energy and effort into bringing presentations to committees. They put a lot of work into these submissions; it costs a lot of money for five or six very skilled people to come in front of a committee of the Legislature to forward their concerns and to answer questions to members of the Legislature.
I find it very repugnant that, when we get around to actually dealing with clause-by-clause sections and whether or not we should amend one section or the other, the same members who were involved in hearing the submissions do not show up; and when there are 94 members on the government side, I believe, to deal with the amendments. I do not know whether debate matters in this Legislature any more.
I do not know whether, when I put forward an amendment, there is any opportunity or chance that the government might sit back and say, objectively: “Yes, this makes some kind of sense. Maybe we should set some standards and deal with this in an objective manner, look at the evidence and draw a conclusion.”
I only say that I did have the opportunity to present legislation in this Legislature. Probably I presented over 20 different bills to this Legislature, either as a parliamentary assistant or as a minister of the crown. I want to tell members that I did accept amendments to the legislation from opposition members, not only in minority parliaments but in majority parliaments as well. But I see little evidence that this government, even on justice issues that generally do not evoke as much partisan debate as do other kinds of legislation, I see very little movement on the part of the Attorney General to listen to what is coming forward.
I was really upset on Monday, when we had a majority on that committee, five members who controlled that committee -- a total of five votes controls it -- who had not heard one bit of evidence in relation to Bill 187, who looked to the front and said, “Do we vote yes or no on this amendment?” Not one individual thought based on the evidence that was presented to us. I find that extremely insulting to each and every group that came in front of that committee. They spent their time and energies, respecting the democratic system. To have to go through that and get treated in that manner, I do not buy that.
With regard to this particular amendment, I want some level of minimum security set, so that people who are being tried in Ottawa-Carleton can be assured they are getting the same level of security as they might in the city of Toronto or in the city of Windsor. I want to see the Attorney General accept some responsibility before Bill 187 becomes law.
Therefore, I would ask my colleagues in the Legislature to try to look at this amendment and ask: “Why can’t the Attorney General and acting Solicitor General sit down and draw up some guidelines? Why do we have to dump all the responsibility on the police forces, which are going to be constrained in this area by budgets? Is it going to be a question of putting another police officer on the beat, or are we going to put him in the courtroom or put him investigating other criminal activities?”
There is going to be a squeeze in the budgets and the police commissions. They were quite frank in bringing that to the attention of the committee. They said, “Court security is probably not going to be as good as it should be, because how are we going to increase our budget at a rapid pace when in fact our municipalities are being pinched in other areas?” It is going to be a real problem.
Therefore, I would ask the parliamentary assistant to consider this amendment and take some responsibility in setting some minimum standards.
Mr Kormos: With respect to this amendment, I want to read again briefly from the 1987 Zuber report that we made reference to a little bit earlier. In addressing the responsibilities of the sheriff and the general issue of courtroom security, he wrote:
“Municipal police forces are under municipal direction and have their budgets, staffing and training set by municipal authorities. If municipal police forces are employed in the provision of courthouse security, appropriate arrangements must be negotiated with the municipal police forces to assure the provision of the right kind of service and the availability of that service as required by the courts.”
He goes on to comment that these factors tend to suggest a provincial force should be responsible for the provision of courthouse security generally. That is unlikely to be the case in view of the approach taken by the government to the lest amendment, not this one. It remains in his comments that appropriate arrangements must be negotiated to ensure the right kind of service and the availability of that service.
Then when the bill is examined one sees that without funding, without direction, without standards and without guidelines, it basically becomes a nonbill or a bit of nonlegislation. At least there is some solace in that the motion of the member for Carleton seeking the amendment begins to provide a little bit of the direction and standard that is lacking in the bill itself.
It does not make the standard one that is determined legislatively, as compared to one, as is indicated in the motion, that is determined by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. All it does is set out minimum levels. it ensures that for judges, participants and other actors in the courtroom scenario, there will be a minimum standard of courtroom security, and what it will be. It permits people who use the courtrooms, either as judges, participants in the process or mere spectators, to have an expectation of what they can expect at the very least.
It also gives the police in the respective municipalities some direction and guidance as to what is expected of them. It begins to create a province-wide minimum standard so that there is some consistency from courtroom to courtroom. In the absence of this amendment, there certainly is nothing indicating what is expected by way of courtroom security.
There is not even a suggestion whether it is a matter of wanding people going into a courtroom, doing metal searches, as is done in old city hall here. It does not indicate whether it is a matter of having armed police officers present in a courtroom. It does not indicate whether or not it is police officers at all who are to perform the security role as compared to other civilian security personnel.
Those are the obvious questions to be asked by participants in courtroom processes and which are to be asked undoubtedly by ratepayers in a community, who are going to have to pay. This is something the parliamentary assistant has not denied, to his credit, and seems unable to deny: Ratepayers in municipalities where municipal police forces are providing the security are going to have to pay, and pay dearly.
As has been indicated more than once now, in those communities that are OPP policed, ratepayers will not have to pay. But it remains that ratepayers, municipal taxpayers, alone deserve some awareness of what the government expects of the security personnel it is calling on the police to provide. They deserve that because they are the ones who have to pay for it and they deserve an opportunity to provide some input into the provision of that service, since the dollars and cents that provide that service are coming directly out of their pockets and certainly not out of any contribution by the provincial government.
Mr J. M. Johnson: When this bill was introduced for first reading, I brought to the attention of the parliamentary assistant the very concerns that have been expressed by the last two speakers. I mentioned the fact that in my riding of Wellington there are 21 municipalities. Four have police forces, two have courts and two have a police force and a court. They are going to pay very high costs. Yet the other municipalities will not pay anything. Is this equitable?
When I asked the member that before, he said he would listen to proposals, have public hearings, listen to input from the people and would likely be willing to make changes. As my good friend and colleague the member for Carleton has pointed out, he is totally incapable of accepting amendments for whatever reason. What is the point of the exercise of deceiving the people by suggesting that there be public hearings when it is a meaningless process?
If “deceiving” is too strong, then let it be whatever, but the people really do feel, when they make presentations in public form to committees of this Legislature, that it is a meaningful process and that surely someone on that committee listens and then tries to make amendments or changes to legislation. If that is not the process, then why go through the exercise?
Why does the member suggest that the municipalities that are going to be faced with these extra costs have the opportunity to present their case when he has already made the decision that he is not going to pay any attention to them? I find it most frustrating that the parliamentary assistant does not particularly care what anyone says at this present time.
I make the point that if we are not going to pay any attention to the committee system, then there is no point of having committee hearings. This coming spring, summer, fall, winter or whenever the House breaks, I assume they will set up committees. Also, I assume bills will be sent to the committees. If the same process follows this session this summer as it has in the past, it will be a meaningless exercise. I hope that the whip has some sense of responsibility when he names his members to the committee and that they act in a reasonable manner and not like they have in the past, especially in this committee.
Mr Offer: I have read over the amendment provided by the member for Carleton talking about minimum levels of security. Indeed, within this legislation what we are addressing is the type of security required for a particular courtroom and courthouse throughout the province. We have addressed it on the basis that it is the local police force, which as I have indicated earlier, is best able, best equipped and most knowledgeable in terms of the cases coming before the court and in terms of the risk they might pose to the people within the courthouse. It should provide that decision-making in the maintenance of security.
We think we have gone much further than the amendment provided by the member. We think we have, through this legislation, come to grips with the ever-changing ebb and flow of security within a courthouse in terms of the types of cases that come before it. While that is really not debatable, because it happens to be a fact. I think all members who have ever found themselves within a courthouse or a courtroom know that in terms of the cases coming before the courts, there are different levels and variations of security. Who is best to provide that?
I was reminded during the committee -- I was very pleased during the committee -- of the inquiring and searching minds of the members of the government party who immediately understood that question. When persons came before that committee, it was the members of the government, listening intently to the principles brought forward, who would ask those people, “We understand what you are saying, but who is best to make that decision, who is best to determine the security, the protection of the people within the courtroom?”
I think it is fair to say that it is the local police force which has that particular expertise and knowledge. I must say that as the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, I was both pleased and proud of the participation of the government members of that committee because they sat, listened, understood, questioned and in the end made the decision that is their responsibility.
The Chairman: Are we ready for the vote?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chairman: That being the last amendment to section 1 –
Mr Offer: That was section 1.
Mr Sterling: I realize that. Sorry; I intended to distribute these and I have not. I will read the amendment.
The Chairman: Mr Sterling moves that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following subsection:
“(4) The Solicitor General shall be responsible for providing centralized training for persons providing courtroom security.”
Does the member for Carleton have an opening statement?
Mr Sterling: Yes. Again, I am going back to the Anderson report, the report on which this government based its logic and reasons, whatever they were, for creating Bill 187. I thought one very small part of the Anderson report that they would accept would be some responsibility for this government to say, “Yes, municipal police forces, you are responsible for providing the security, but at least the province is going to take some lead in providing some training for the people who are actually providing the courtroom security.”
There are some very special problems that are associated with keeping the courtroom and the premises therein in a secure manner. Many of the problems that will be faced in the courtroom at one end of the province will be common at the other end of the province. I read recommendation (h), which says, ‘The Ministry of the Solicitor General be responsible for providing, on a cost-recovery basis, centralized training for special constables hired under recommendation (g) to the extent that there is a local demand.”
In this case it says, “on a cost-recovery basis.” I am not saying that in my amendment, but Anderson also had in his report that the Attorney General should be responsible for all the costs of providing security in the courtroom, not that it be dumped on the municipalities as Bill 187 does. What l am saying to the Attorney General is, will he or his colleagues not provide, at the Ontario Police College or wherever, the facility, the training, for people who are going to be put into the courtroom?
I think it is more particularly of concern to the smaller municipalities rather than to the larger municipalities. The larger municipalities will have a number of these people. I believe it is going to require somewhere in the neighbourhood of 120 to 150 additional constables who will have to be hired in the city of Toronto in Order to meet with Bill 187. The taxpayers of Toronto will be taking it up; it will be necessary for them to foot that bill.
But it is more important in the small towns, in the smaller areas of the province, like Prescott, which has a police force of 12 people; Brockville which I believe has a police force of 20 to 25 people, and Kemptville, which has a police force of four but has a court that sits there. I want the province to accept some responsibility for at least offering it to these areas:
“We will offer you some specialized training to deal with specific kinds of problems you face in the courtroom from day to day. This is how you can do it most efficiently because the municipalities are having to pay and this is probably what is going to be asked of you by our judges from around the province. This is how you best can do that.”
This amendment puts an obligation on the Solicitor General to provide training for persons who are going to be involved in courtroom security. I do not think that is too great an obligation to put on the Solicitor General. As I mentioned, they already have a police college at Aylmer which has enjoyed a significant reputation, at least in the past.
I ask that the government live up to at least one of the recommendations of the Anderson report, one of the recommendations from the interministerial committee of all of the different ministries of this government, one of the recommendations where the government has an obligation and is not dumping it off on the municipalities. So I ask for their support.
Mr Kormos: I am well aware of the position the Anderson report took on this matter. Obviously, when the legislation as it stands does not specify that it is to be police officers, municipalities are going to be forced to look to the least expensive option. What that means is hiring civilian security personnel.
Police officers are described by Anderson as, among other things, not only being expensive for this type of purpose but also in many respects overqualified; that is to say, a person performing the role of courtroom security personnel need not have the qualifications a police officer has. At the same time, we have the pressure on the municipality to pick the least expensive option, because the incredible increased cost to the municipality this is going to generate still has not been addressed, either in the course of this afternoon or previously during the course of the committee hearings.
I suspect a whole lot of people would welcome some explanation offered by the parliamentary assistant or any other government member as to how these costs are going to be relieved, if at all, by any sort of provincial involvement. There is certainly nothing in the legislation or the bill now to suggest that the province is even interested in helping to relieve the incredible financial burden this puts on municipalities, big and small, across the province.
When municipalities are forced into the least expensive option, which means hiring civilian personnel -- and one can envision, if there are not training facilities provided, the use of, let’s say, commercial security personnel who range in their degree of skill and in their ability to perform an adequate security role -- recognizing that municipalities and municipal police forces themselves do not have the facilities, do not have the capacity to provide training, to provide programs, to provide specific training that is suitable for the type of role that is going to be expected of these people, which is why of course I am in support of this amendment, it then falls upon the government to provide that uniform, centralized type of training not only puts at risk and at peril people using the courtrooms, but puts at risk and at peril those personnel who are called upon to perform the security role because the least expensive options -- civilian security personnel -- are going to be thrust into situations for which they are ill prepared and for which they are poorly trained, if not totally untrained.
The only way of ensuring the safety of persons using the courtroom and the safety of the people being called upon to provide the security is to adopt the amendment proposed by the member for Carleton and to ensure that there is centralized, uniform, across-the-province training for personnel performing this role.
The comment may well be that municipal police forces are best suited to determine the security needs of a courtroom, but municipal police forces are not suited to providing training for personnel who are called upon to perform that role.
The police forces across the province would be in agreement with this proposal. It would ensure the safety of people using the courtrooms as well as the safety of the persons performing the security function.
Mr Offer: We will not be accepting this amendment because what it does is fly in the face of the police making the decision in terms of the type of security that is required within a particular courtroom.
In that determination, there will be a number of factors which the police will have at their disposal such as the type of cases, the type of traffic that is going within a particular courtroom, the type of persons who are best able to provide the security, and coupled with that, the training that those persons may have.
This is, in fact, one of the very important decisions that this bill is saying the police are best able to make. We do not think we should in any way shackle the police in the making of the decision in terms of how best to secure a particular courthouse.
Mr Sterling: I really have trouble following that line of logic and argument. I think it is really stretching the case to say that by providing training for people who are involved in courtroom security you are going to set the standards back home, when you get there, as to how many special constables you are going to have in any given courtroom.
I have never heard such weird logic in arguing a position. I believe all this does is say: (1) the Solicitor General has to have a course to train people who are going to be involved in the security of the courtroom; (2) the Solicitor General has to pay for that, and (3) he invites people to come to that if they want to come.
I do not know how that forces a standard on a municipality that cannot afford to send somebody down to the training course. I do not understand how it sets a standard there. I do not know how telling somebody how to deal with a touchy situation in family court sets the standard in family court.
The only thing that will set the standard in the family court is how many people you will have in that courtroom and at what level of training each and every one of those people who are in the courtroom will have had in being hired to be involved in that situation.
I cannot believe that when this government wants to wash itself of the responsibility -- responsibility which should really be on the shoulders of the Attorney General of this province -- it is so frightened to be involved in the whole matter that it is washing its hands of it.
I see the member for Niagara South (Mr Haggerty). It is like saying to our volunteer fire departments: “Look, you know how best to take care of fires in your area. Therefore, we are not going to provide any kind of training courses for our volunteer fire people.”
Mr Villeneuve: That is exactly what is happening.
Mr Sterling: That is right. We have a college and we recognize that they should have some training, but it is the municipalities that decide how much equipment they will have, decide how many fire stations they will have and decide how many firemen they will have when they pay the firemen. They will try to attract volunteers into it, but the province provides a facility to train those people so that when they go out to the fires they will know how to react.
What I am doing in this amendment is just saying: “Mr Attorney General, this used to be your responsibility. You’ve washed your hands of every other part of the responsibility. Don’t you think it would be good for the people who are involved in the security to have some centralized training facility where a small municipality like Prescott could send one or two people down and get a course on how to handle a touchy situation?”
There are differences in dealing with courtroom security from dealing with other police matters. There are differences. But this government will not even take that very minimum step.
Mr Haggerty: There are all kinds of police auxiliary groups that are well qualified to deal with this. They would love that idea.
Mr Sterling: I would love to see the police auxiliary groups get involved in it if they want to get involved in it. But I will tell the member what I would like to do for those police auxiliary groups who do not get paid. I would like to see them at least trained properly as to how to do it.
Mr Haggerty: Some of them are.
Mr Sterling: They are trained properly in some matters, but not in courtroom security. There is no special course for that. All I want is the Attorney General to say. “Yes, we’ll at least do that little, tiny bit” -- in his word “eensy-teensy.”
Mr Offer: That was your word.
Mr Sterling: It was my word, okay. I will give you that.
I want the Attorney General to do a little bit -- I think he understands that -- to help the situation with regard to the municipalities. I mean, they are going down the tubes for $20 million or more. What I am asking him for here is probably something that is one one hundredth of that.
The Chairman: Thank you. Are there any other comments? Are we ready for the vote?
All those in favour of Mr Sterling’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Section 1 agreed to.
The Chairman: Shall sections 2 to 4, inclusive, carry? No? We will take it one at a time then.
Section 2: and helping members of the general public in terms of some questions that they might have when they arrive at a courthouse. They would still be able to provide that type of function, but the security function would rest with the decision of the police force. The decorum function would clearly rest with the court attendants. That is why we have moved this amendment.
The Deputy Chairman: Are there any more questions? Are we ready to take the vote on section 4? Shall section 4 be adopted?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Section 4 agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: Does the member for Carleton have an amendment?
Mr Sterling: Yes. I am trying find my copy of the amendment. Do you have an extra copy of it?
The Deputy Chairman: I do not know about an extra one, but I have one.
Mr Sterling moves that section 5 of this bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor: “This act comes into force on 1 July 1990.”
Does the member for Carleton have an opening statement?
Mr Sterling: Yes, I do. Presently section 5 of the bill says, “This act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.”
I put the date of 1 July 1990 as the date when l would like to see this legislation come in place, because of the substantial financial implications that this is going to have on a number of municipalities across our province. I thought that by putting 1 July 1990, we would pick approximately half of the calendar year when the responsibility would be shoved on the municipalities to take over this responsibility, which they formerly did not have.
As most budget years for municipalities and police commissions run on a calendar year, it would therefore follow, if my amendment were accepted, that at least the first year would be a softening of the blow. Therefore, in the first year they would be responsible for providing only 50 per cent of the costs of providing security in the courtrooms across the province.
I might add that there is a problem in training in the larger metropolitan areas. Places like the city of Toronto are going to have to assume not only the cost but the responsibility of setting up courses to train these people because the province will not even accept that responsibility. It is going to take some time to properly hire I believe over 120 to 150 different individuals to provide courtroom security in the city and in York region. I imagine there will be a great number of people involved there.
There is going to be the necessity of a rather lengthy period, first of all to get together the kinds of training programs that are going to be necessary for these people; second, to hire them; and third, in particular, to try to soften the blow in the first year of dealing with the transfer of this significant cost to municipalities and to municipal taxpayers across the province.
That is the reason why I have picked 1 July 1990 as the date when this bill should kick into effect and not leave it up to the whim of the Attorney General, who at this point has shown little sensitivity towards the costs that are going to be borne by our municipal governments.
Mr Kormos: I support this motion, as I did in committee. I anticipate that the parliamentary assistant is going to talk about the matter of its implementation as being the result of discussion and consultation; recognizing and being sensitive to the needs of respective communities; recognizing that some are more and some less capable of implementing this, and the fact that some need more time and some need less time and that falls right in line with this whole concept of local optioning that has been the argument on his part throughout what I have heard him say about this.
So be it. Then there should be absolutely no difficulty in his adopting this amendment, because all this amendment does is guarantee a breathing space. It ensures municipalities and their police forces that they have at least that amount of time in which to prepare for this onerous and expensive task.
Indeed, that guarantee is the very least that is owed to those municipalities. Because they already made reference to how the implementation of this statute should not be subject to the whim of the Attorney General, I suspect the parliamentary assistant is going to say -- well, whatever he says, its net content basically is going to be, “Trust me.
Quite frankly, municipalities really are hard pressed to accept: “Don’t worry about it. Simply trust me.” That ranks along with, “Nothing personal,” and, “The cheque is in the mail.” It is not appropriate.
The suggestion here is to concretize or firm up the point in time at which municipalities across the province that have courtrooms in them will be required to fulfil this function. Obviously any number of things can happen. Any number of things could be done voluntarily, but what this does is create a guarantee and perhaps it would go a long way to restoring some of the lost trust.
Mr Offer: It is recognized by the ministry and has been for some time that there is going to have to be some lead time or some lag time in discussing the implementation of this particular legislation with the different groups and bodies who are going to be responsible for the decision-making in terms of the security of the courthouses.
That is a matter which has been made quite clear, not only during committee but also by ministry staff who have been working very closely with many of the persons who are going to be impacted. Because of that type of assurance, we see no need for the creation of a date certain, because of the ongoing discussions which are continuing to take place between ministry staff and those bodies that will be potentially impacted by the legislation.
Mr Villeneuve: Can I gather, from the parliamentary assistant’s comments, that indeed this could possibly come in later than 1 July 1990? It is a situation in eastern Ontario, and particularly in the riding I represent, where we have public school taxes going up by 17.2 per cent and municipal taxes going up by a minimum of six per cent and up to over 20 per cent. Certainly, budgeting is very difficult.
I think in particular of the town of Alexandria, where the mayor has taken time to speak to me personally about his very, very deep concern. Alexandria has just lost its police chief, who was an Ontario Provincial Police officer. They now have had to absorb that particular cost to the town and now they are being faced with having to look after the protection and safety in the courtroom in seven municipalities within that county.
Is it possible that it could go into 1991? Indeed, with flat-lining our school boards and with a reduction in financial support, our municipalities are faced with very, very serious financial requirements. Is it possible that it could go beyond 1 July next year?
Mr Offer: In fairness, what the member is asking is for me to interpret section 5 of the bill, which states, “This Act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.” That mere fact says that it is on any particular date; it could indeed be on the particular days or years which the member has mentioned. I do not want the member to take it from my comments that this is the ministry’s type of response; that is an interpretation of section 5. Section 5 is on any particular date to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor and, as such, there is no constraint or stricture on that particular date.
Mr Sterling: Since it is my amendment, I just wanted to say I think there is another reason why we put a date definite in a piece of legislation, and that is that this is a considerable transfer of responsibility to another group of people in the province. While we oppose that transfer -- that transfer is going to take place over the opposition’s objections -- the idea of putting a date definite in the legislation is so that each and every member of the public who picks up the bill will know for certain when in fact the date of transfer of responsibility takes place.
I think, in light of the absolute abrogation by this Attorney General of the responsibility for security in the courtrooms of Ontario, the very least he could do was (1), be definite as to when he was going to do it, and (2), give the municipalities at least a little break in the first year of the implementation of Bill 187.
The Chairman: Any other questions or comments on the proposed amendment to section 5? Are we ready for the vote?
All those in favour of Mr Sterling’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chairman: Shall section 5 carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Section 5 agreed to.
Mr Sterling: This will be our last opportunity to speak at this stage of the legislative process on this bill.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Do not use the royal we. “It is my last opportunity,” not “our last opportunity.”
Mr Sterling: I do not know what the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) has objected to, but anyway.
I want to go back to the Attorney General’s remarks when he said that “the bill is to make clear in statutory terms that municipalities...have responsibility for providing security in the province’s courthouses.”
What we in this party really wonder is if Bill 187 has anything at all to do with police efficiency or better courtroom security. It seems to our party that the main objective of this bill is to remove one more area of financial responsibility from the province by passing on the costs to the municipalities.
We have heard, at the standing committee on administration of justice, municipalities come forward and say that they cannot afford to take on yet another burden shoved on to them by the province. We have heard from the municipal police authorities that this bill, by taking away the responsibility from the Attorney General for courtroom security, is contrary to the philosophy of our justice system which we should hold and that there should be no conflict of interest in the courtroom. This bill does more than pass costs on to the municipality; it is bad law.
We have put forward and tried to put forward amendments in this party to make the bill more palatable to municipalities. We in this party have tried to put forward amendments so that we can be sure that security in our courtrooms from one end of the province to the other will have some standard, albeit a minimum standard, so that each member of the public when he walks into a courtroom can be assured of some level of safety. We have tried to put forward amendments which would lessen the potential conflict which will exist between the judges of our province and the police of our province. We have tried to put amendments forward which do not tax one municipality while letting other municipalities off the hook. We have tried to put forward amendments to allow and take on the responsibility at the provincial level for adequate training for people who are going to be involved in the security of our courtrooms.
All of the amendments put forward by the opposition, some not very significant, have been rejected by the government. They were rejected in a committee manned by a majority of government members who had not been in attendance when public representations were made to that committee. I believe our parliamentary process has been dealt a bad blow by this government in its treatment of Bill 187 during the committee process before the justice committee. I believe the government members have insulted each and every representative who appeared in front of the justice committee to put forward his feelings on Bill 187.
In summary, Bill 187 is not only bad in terms of costs for municipalities; it abrogates the responsibility of the Attorney General to maintain security in our courtrooms. It is going to lead to a justice system which will tend to have longer waits for people to come before it because some judges are going to postpone trials because an adequate level of justice is not there. It is going to lead to confrontation.
This law has not even followed the policy advisers of the various ministries who were consulted in drawing up this law. Is it any wonder we in the opposition have fought so hard against this legislation? It is only too bad that even in that fight, the government did not have the integrity to properly deal with the democratic process and give a fair hearing and fair consideration to what the public and the opposition brought forward in trying to make a very bad bill even a little bit better.
The Chairman: Are there any more comments or questions before we proceed with section 6? That being the case, shall section 6 carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Section 6 agreed to.
The Chairman: Shall the bill be reported?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Bill ordered to be reported.
SMOKING IN THE WORKPLACE ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 194, An Act to restrict Smoking in Workplaces.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Perhaps with the indulgence of the Chairman, I might move down to the front row as we consider Bill 194.
The Chairman: I am sure there would be no objections. Please proceed.
Hon Mr Sorbara: If I recall, the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) had the floor when this committee last adjourned on this matter.
The Chairman: That is correct. On 16 May, when we left off, we were considering discussing Mr Sterling’s amendment to section 1. To refresh everybody’s memory, I shall read it again.
Mr Sterling had moved that “‘employer’ means a person who employs one or more employees or who contracts for the services of one or more persons;” be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“‘employer’ means any person or persons who has control and responsibility for the workplace.”
The debate may proceed. Did the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) have anything further to add?
Mr Sterling: Perhaps, Mr Chairman --
The Chairman: In that case, the member for Carleton.
Mr Sterling: I will say a few words. I think it is important to note that I recently read in the press that the no-smoking law was stalled, that the bells had rung and that was the reason we were not going to hit the 1 July date. I have made it known that it is my intention that I hope this law never becomes law because there are a number of very substantial groups that consider this legislation a step backward rather than a step forward.
I want to read to members the 24 April 1989 release of Health Organizations. This is their release. Norm Sterling did not write this release.
Mr Ballinger: Who’s he?
Mr Sterling: I might have been even softer than this release.
Hon Mr Sorbara: You might have been what?
Mr Sterling: Softer than this release.
“Health Organizations Condemn Smoking Control Bill 194.
“Toronto -- The Coalition of Ontario Health Organizations has denounced Bill 194, the proposed new legislation to reduce environmental tobacco smoke in the province’s workplaces.
“The coalition, including” -- listen to who this coalition is -- “the Canadian Cancer Society, the Nonsmokers’ Rights Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Lung Association, the Ontario Public Health Association, the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, and Alcohol and Drug Concerns described the Smoking in the Workplace Act, 1988, as based more on public relations than honest health policy.
“The legislation, as approved by the standing committee on social development last Friday, was left largely unchanged despite strong criticisms by health groups and medical societies which revealed serious problems in the bill.
“This bill is so flawed that either it is significantly amended or these health agencies do not want it. Bad law is sometimes worse than no law. Every major health organization to appear before the committee pointed out that the failure to define what the government means by designating smoking areas makes the legislation all but useless.
“The government ignored our presentations at committee. Now we have the distinct possibility of an employer designating smoking areas by drawing imaginary lines around smokers and being in full compliance with the law.
“Tobacco smoke in the workplace is now recognized as a serious health hazard. ‘It is known to be the cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers,” said lawyer John Ronson, chairman of the public issues committee of the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society. ‘The government seems more interested in appearances than it is on reducing discomfort and cancer risks in the workplace,’ said Ronson.
“‘Good health policy must be based on good science,’ said Dr Mary Jane Ashley, chair of the Task Force on Smoking of the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
“This legislation has very little to do with science. What we have here is the number one unregulated airborne carcinogenic risk in the workplace, and the government’s response is to continue to permit smoking in areas occupied by nonsmokers.
“‘A few days ago, the Health minister announced the intention to drastically reduce the exposure of nonsmokers in Ontario to secondhand smoke, yet ironically, one week later the Labour minister pushes legislation through the committee which may actually reduce the chances of a smoke-free environment for many workers in Ontario,’ said Ashley.
“‘Our organizations will press for amendments to this bill at third reading,’ said Ronson. ‘This bill must not pass as it stands. We will do all we can to get the people of Ontario to tell this government that weak legislation is no longer acceptable when it comes to dealing with tobacco control problems.
“That is how the Canadian Cancer Society, the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Lung Association, the Ontario Public Health Association, the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and Alcohol and Drug Concerns feel about Bill 194.
“This legislation is a farce. It does nothing to control smoking in the workplace. What it does is really give a licence for smoking in the workplace.”
That is the concern of what I would call some of the most substantial groups with the greatest credibility in terms of their groups in Ontario. We are not talking about loosely knit organizations that do not have any history. We are not talking about loosely organized associations that take on a piece of legislation like this which could be of benefit to our people with regard to the diseases they try to fight. As we have said before, 35 to 40 people are going to die today because of firsthand and secondhand smoke. We want to cut out some of the exposure to secondhand smoke.
I have put before this committee many amendments and I am going to discuss those amendments in detail when we have a little bit more time than the five minutes that remain until adjournment of the House today. I would like at this time to give one of my colleagues an opportunity to make a few comments as he has been patiently waiting while we have considered other legislation in this Legislature and, therefore, I will sit at this moment.
Mr Allen: I thank the member for Carleton. I do not want to repeat what my colleague has said. These words have been said very forcibly. I was in the committee as he was and listened to all the groups who came forward one after another and said to us, either on their own or when we asked them, “This bill is not the kind of bill we want as a precedent in this country, in this field of smoking in the workplace.” They said it time and again and reminded us that Ontario was taking a step that has not been taken in other provinces.
They want a step that is a meaningful step. They wanted a step forward; they wanted to move forward very quickly on this whole area because the demonstrable results of environmental tobacco smoke are so compelling that it is difficult to deny the reasonableness of the kind of case that they make.
But there is another reason why I think it is important to reject this bill and why my own preference would be to have the minister withdraw it and draft something more appropriate in a field that he also is quite familiar with, namely and specifically, the whole world of health and safety in the workplace.
While this bill appears to be addressed to health and safety in the workplace, it does it in a very circuitous route. It does not do it in the way in which most health and safety legislation does, that is, by bringing it under the disposition of the Ontario health and safety legislation to declare that tobacco in the workplace is in fact an environmental problem in the workplace that has to be dealt with in terms of that health and safety legislation.
It has been presented essentially as employer rights legislation, employer obligation legislation, but none the less it is not in the context of the normal route of health and safety hazards and the definitions that go with that and the kind of precautions and safeguards that govern that legislation. Certainly the Ontario Federation of Labour, when its many affiliates looked at this question, was very much impressed by the arguments that the health sector presented.
They certainly agreed that there are major, major problems in the approach that this bill took in other respects, namely, the notion that somehow or other one could designate a nonsmoking area effectively inside a workplace without enclosing it and separately ventilating it. They recognized what all of these studies, the physical studies of this problem have indicated, namely, that it is literally impossible to remove and to remove to any degree of acceptable risk presence of environmentally borne carcinogens that derive from smoking in the average workplace by normal ventilation means or even by excessive ventilation means; that in fact it would overload the ventilation capacities of the most ambitious ventilation system to reduce those carcinogens to a degree of acceptable risk or even close to acceptable risk.
But they went beyond that whole argument and they pointed out -- perhaps it would be worth quoting what they say in their brief, because I think it is a point that is very appropriate for us to pay attention to. They derive their argument in the response to the judgement that was made in the Federal Court of Appeal on the public service staff relations board decision entered by the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
Without disputing that it was a health hazard, the majority ruled that it was not a dangerous substance within the meaning of the federal regulations because it did not originate from the employer’s work processes but rather from the personal habits of one’s fellow employees which the Ontario Federation of Labour said “reminds us of the fellow servant rule that exempts employers from vicarious liability for carelessness of one employee that injures another.”
“What this means to workers is that where an employer wishes to impose arbitrarily a smoking ban or discriminatory hiring policies against smokers, he or she has this legal right under management’s rights. But no protection is afforded nonsmokers under present health and safety legislation. As one study has concluded, in short, under the present legal regime, involuntary exposure to smoke on the job turns not on an assessment of associated hazards, but on the employer’s claim to manage the workplace.”
As I conclude these introductory remarks as we get back to the bill, surely a bill that deals with workplace hazards, of the kind that smoking represents, ought to be put on that basis in the field of health and safety and not in the area of employers’ obligations or employers’ rights. With that, I look forward to proceeding, in the next session of committee of the whole, with the next of our amendments.
On motion by Hon Mr Sorbara, the committee of the whole House reported progress on one bill and one bill without amendment.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Fulton: Pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday, 19 June, we will proceed with government bills awaiting third reading, along with private bills scheduled for second and third reading. All those bills receiving third reading will be presented to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor for royal assent in his chambers on Tuesday. We will then consider Bill 93, An Act to revise the Justices of the Peace Act, in committee of the whole House. Time permitting, we will consider the budget debate.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we will begin second reading of Bills 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24. The order will be determined through further talks among the House leaders. We will also consider second reading of Bills 201, 30, 31 and Bill 1. Any further business will be announced later next week.
Also on Thursday, in the morning, we will consider the private members’ public business standing in the names of the member for Markham (Mr Cousens) and the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan).
The House adjourned at 1803.