The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
GREAT LAKES FISHERY
Mr J. M. Johnson moved resolution 13.
That in the opinion of this House, recognizing the importance of sport fishing to the economic wellbeing of the province, and the need to improve the management and quality of the aquatic resources in the Great Lakes fishery, the government of Ontario should implement changes in the regulation and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that sport fishing remains viable in Ontario by immediately initiating plans to eliminate the use of commercial gill nets and provide assistance to the commercial fishing industry in converting to trap nets and by accelerating its fish stocking programs.
The Deputy Speaker: The member has up to 20 minutes to make his presentation and may reserve any portion of those 20 minutes for the windup.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Over a year ago, on 15 June 1988, my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock), the Progressive Conservative critic for Natural Resources, announced the policy of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario on commercial and sport fishing in our Great Lakes. The member is in the hospital today or he would be speaking on this resolution.
This policy statement urged the government to take immediate action to implement changes in the regulation and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that both commercial and sport fishing industries remain viable in Ontario. One of the main initiatives of this policy statement was the thrust towards replacing commercial gill nets with trap nets.
While the government has made some progress in certain areas for protection of sport fish, especially in eastern Lake Ontario, it has not addressed the issue in a really meaningful way. For this reason, I felt compelled to bring this resolution forward. Today we will have the opportunity to debate this issue, and I would like at this time to give members some background information.
The people of Ontario do benefit and should continue to benefit from commercial and sport fishing. These benefits are both social and economic. Currently, Ontario has approximately 2.5 million to 3 million people participating in sport fishing and supporting an industry valued at over $2.4 billion annually. The sport fishing industry is in a period of dramatic growth. Approximately 3,000 Ontario commercial fishermen catch products with a total dockside value of approximately $100 million per annum.
Commercial fishermen use a variety of gear, including both live-capture trap nets and gill nets. Both types of nets can be set to target for specific fish species, but both will also incidentally catch nontarget species. Fortunately, most fish caught in trap nets can be released to swim and spawn again. Those caught in gill nets are normally dead or dying.
Studies in Ontario and elsewhere have shown that incidental catches in commercial gill nets are substantial. Several jurisdictions -- New York, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota -- with whom Ontario shares international waters have already banned the use of gill nets.
The issue is gill netting in the Great Lakes. Commercial fishermen in the Great Lakes are licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to fish with gill nets for yellow perch, white perch, whitefish and smelt. Other fish for which commercial fishermen are not presently licensed, such as trout, bass and walleye, are inadvertently caught in gill nets, resulting in what is called an incidental catch. The incidental catch of the commercial fishermen significantly reduces the amount of game fish available to sport fishermen. That is the heart of the issue and the reason for this resolution.
A number of studies have been undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources showing that there is always incidental catch in the gill nets used by commercial fishermen. A 1987 study conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources showed that 61 per cent of the fish caught in perch gill nets were nontarget sport fish. An earlier MNR study in eastern Lake Ontario showed gill netters incidentally caught three lake trout for every one of their target whitefish.
I might make reference to a Ministry of Natural Resources study conducted in eastern Lake Ontario. I will cite a few facts. In zone 2.1, 45 per cent of the fish caught were sport fish, 33 per cent were yellow perch and 22 per cent were other species. In zone 4, 31 per cent were sport fish, 32 per cent were yellow perch and 37 per cent were other species.
There are several other documents here, but the bottom line is that, overall, 30 per cent of the weight of the estimated harvest from small-mesh gill nets consist of sport fish, while 39 per cent are yellow perch -- that was the target species -- and 31 per cent are other species, Therefore, 61 per cent of the fish caught in gill nets are not the target fish, in this instance perch. That was a small study in eastern Lake Ontario.
The significant reduction in available game fish caused by the use of commercial gill nets reduces the potential economic benefits to the local area. Sport fishing has become of greater economic significance to the province than commercial fishing. In 1985, the economic impact of sport fishing to Ontario was $2.4 billion. In 1987, the landed value of Ontario commercial fish was approximately $100 million. That is $2.4 billion compared to $100 million.
I might take a few minutes to mention an article by Jim Foster of the Toronto Star in the 10 July 1988 paper. I will cite a couple of facts he has mentioned. “Mississauga has proclaimed itself Salmon Capital of Canada, Gateway to a Sport Fisherman’s Paradise.… Fishing in Lake Ontario is big bucks. Since 1975 it has grown from zilch to $50 million or more a year, by unofficial estimates. Some insiders think that figure is low. No one tallies all the spending on boats, motors, fuel, tackle, electronic gear, charters, accommodation, food and drink, ice and what have you....”
Scarborough’s economic development commissioner, John Morand, “figures the action is worth at least $5 million to Scarborough this year and will soon reach $15 million….Thousands of anglers visit Mississauga every year and the city now advertises its salmon -- ‘Your best bet for a trophy’ -- in the US, Europe and Japan....
“The Ontario government” -- that is, the Liberal government – “says almost one third of the population goes fishing every summer and 700,000 Americans join them. Metro Toronto alone has at least a quarter million fishermen.”
I might just say that I have the latest statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources on the sport fishing licences. The 1987-88 figures are not in yet. For nonresidents, 637,000 people bought licences, and of Ontario residents, 983,000, nearly a million people. The total number of licences is 1.62 million, and the approximate revenue is $21 million for licences alone. That does not include the food, drink and all the things that are related to sport fishing.
I will go back to the article in the Toronto Star: “Last year’s Salmon Hunt entries represent more than 500 Ontario towns, not to mention all the other provinces, 22 American states, Europe and the Far East.” Steve Wells of Steve’s Custom Tackle in St Catharines was quoted as saying: “What woke Ontario up was reading that in 1981-82 fishing brought in $5.5 billion revenue for New York state.” It is a significant amount of money for our tourist industry.
I will carry on with the background material. The significant reduction in available game fish caused by the use of commercial gill nets reduces the potential economic benefits to local areas. That is the point I was trying to make by citing some of those facts. Sport fishing has become more important than commercial fishing as far as raising dollars for the province.
If commercial fishermen switched to trap nets, most of the nontarget fish could be released alive to swim and spawn again. Trap nets also produce better-quality commercial fish for the consumer.
The community fisheries program, which assists with the management and stocking of provincial waterways with game fish, would benefit from a move to trap nets. Operators have recently been reluctant to continue with the program because they are seeing the fish they raised for sport fishing being killed in commercial gill nets.
In response to the findings of the studies noted above, on 30 March 1988 the Ministry of Natural Resources announced some restrictions in the use of gill nets on eastern Lake Ontario for the 1988 and 1989 fishing seasons. I congratulate them on this initiative. The announcement also extended the current buyout program, currently in place to purchase commercial gill net operations, to 15 December 1988. I would hope that they would reinstitute this program, because it is a very worthwhile initiative.
I might just make mention of that study. I received this documentation on 21 June, just a few days ago, by fax from the Napanee district manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“Complaints by local commercial fishermen and observations by MNR staff have indicated substantial incidental catches on nontarget fish species in small-mesh gill nets. During May and June of 1987, MNR initiated a study to determine levels of incidental catch of nontarget fish species in the small-mesh yellow perch gill net fishery.
Overall, 30 per cent of the weight of the estimated May-June commercial gill net catch was sport fish, while approximately 39 per cent was yellow perch, the target species -- only 39 per cent -- while 31 percent was fish of other species. Therefore, 61 percent of the fish caught in perch gill nets were not perch.
They had a very interesting study conducted in that area and had meetings with various people. They did encourage many of the commercial fishermen who were using gill nets to convert. For those commercial fishermen wishing to dispose of gill net licences or to retire from the fishery, a buyout program was initiated to purchase gill net operations offered for sale during 1988.
The buyout program, which is now completed, involved the purchase of 20 of the 56 gill net licences on eastern Lake Ontario. The quantity of licensed gill nets was reduced by 85,250 metres, or approximately 32 per cent. Four new trap net licences were issued to commercial fishermen who wished to convert from gill net licences to entrapment gear. It is a program which I assume was completed in 1988. I encourage the ministry to carry on with that program.
I have a few recommendations I would like to table at this time.
I firmly believe that changes are necessary in the regulation and management of the commercial fishing industry to ensure that both the commercial and sport fishing industries remain viable in Ontario.
The Ontario government cannot ignore the economic benefits both industries bring to the province; nor can it ignore its investment in the community fisheries program.
The province must move immediately to phase out the use of gill nets for commercial fishing based on a structured time frame related to the lifetime of existing licences.
In conjunction with a phase-out program, the Ontario government must implement a program to financially assist commercial fishermen to either retire or to switch their operations to the use of trap nets.
The province must move immediately to consult with all interested parties -- ie, commercial fishermen, sport fishermen and native groups -- to develop these programs.
I would like to reserve approximately five minutes of my time to allow other members to participate in this debate.
Mr Miller: I am pleased this morning to be able to rise and participate in the debate concerning the resolution of the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) concerning the Great Lakes fishery.
First of all, I would like to pay a little bit of a tribute to our honourable friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough. We are sorry to know that he is in the hospital. We would just like to wish him well. We hope he is on the mend and that he will be back in the Legislature soon. I have always enjoyed working with him, his colleagues and other members of the Legislature.
To get back to the debate that we are involved in this morning, both sport and commercial fishing have important roles to play in the economy of this province. I believe our government, particularly the Ministry of Natural Resources, has a commitment to a healthy fishery.
That commitment is demonstrated in part by the success that has been achieved through the strategic plan for Ontario fisheries.
The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) recently announced that a major review of the strategic plan is being undertaken to prepare for the fisheries challenge of the future. The original management strategy was approved in 1976 and since that time, significant progress has been made in managing Ontario’s fisheries resources. The honourable minister has stated that fishing on the Great Lakes is in great shape and the strategic planning for Ontario fisheries 2 initiative is aimed at further improving the health of the province’s fisheries.
I would like to point out that, particularly on Lake Erie, the fishing has improved and the pickerel fishing has never been better. The anglers and the commercial fishermen are all taking part in that resource.
The undertaking will break new ground through unprecedented public involvement. In addition, input is being sought from a wide range of interest groups.
Some of the best sport fishing anywhere in North America can be found right here in Ontario. In addition to providing recreational opportunities for the people of Ontario and visitors of the province, a strong sport fishery provides economic benefits and encourages tourism.
I know that the Minister of Natural Resources also recognizes the important role the commercial fishing industry plays and that his ministry is working with the industry to ensure that it prospers and the fisheries resource is protected.
The commercial fishing industry, which is the mainstay of my riding of Norfolk, particularly in the Port Dover, Port Rowan, Port Stanley area, has played a tremendous role in the history of those municipalities. I know there is a lot of potential, and that can continue.
Where there is a conflict between the sport fishing and commercial fishing communities, the ministry tries to resolve it and promotes cooperation between the two sectors.
One of the contentious issues between these two sectors has been the size of incidental catch in commercial gill nets. The ministry has approached this issue on a lake-by-lake basis and I would like to take a few moments to talk about some of the programs which are in effect.
Earlier this month the ministry announced new restrictions to further reduce the incidental catch of smallmouth bass taken in commercial gill nets in Long Point Bay in Lake Erie, which is in my constituency. The use of gill nets will be banned from 1 July to 30 September in an area east of Port Dover, including a strip immediately offshore running about 4.2 kilometres east from Port Dover to Peacock Point. The adjacent waters surrounding Nanticoke shoal are also included.
I think we recognize the importance of maintaining these areas as a nursery for restocking the lakes and that approach should be utilized in all parts of the Great lakes and all waterways within the Ontario boundary.
Last year, commercial fishermen in the area co-operated in avoiding what the ministry refers to as hot spots, areas with high populations of smallmouth bass, east of Port Dover. As a result, the incidental catch has declined by 33 per cent since 1987. With the new restrictions, the ministry estimates that the incidental catch should be reduced by 77 to 100 per cent.
The restricted areas are not highly productive for perch, which is the commercial fishermen’s main target. Therefore, the new restrictions are expected to have a minimal effect on the commercial fishery.
I might add that that particular area is where the Nanticoke Hydro generating station was located. When they located that station there, there was a lot of concern that it would destroy the fishing industry. Actually, it has been a benefit and it is a reproductive area because of the warm water discharged from the Hydro generating plant itself.
Mr Wildman: And the fish light up the plate for a candlelight dinner.
Mr Miller: I think the quality of the fish is excellent, not like some of the other lakes like Lake Ontario, where they have sport fishing and the fish get so big but they are not able to be put on your plate. I think the quality is important and commercial fishermen have been able to protect that.
I would also like to point out that the closure of the near-shore waters from Port Dover west to Turkey Point that now runs through July and August will be extended to the end of September.
There has been a ban on gill nets in the inner part of Long Point Bay since the early 1970s. The Ministry of Natural Resources has generally received co-operation from commercial fishermen in its effort to monitor the incidental catch on the Great Lakes.
Problems with incidental catch resulted in major changes in the management of commercial fisheries in the eastern end of Lake Ontario last year. For the 1988-89 fishing season, the ministry prohibited the use of gill nets in the eastern basin from 1 May to 30 June, in an area off Brighton from 1 May to 31 July, and in the north channel near Kingston from 1 May to 31 August.
Ministry studies in the area show high incidental catches of lake trout and immature walleye. There is also an experimental commercial walleye harvest at the eastern end of Lake Ontario this year, using live capture gear only.
The ministry had a buyout program from March to December last year for commercial operators who were interested in selling their business to the province. On Lake Huron gill net commercial fishery operators had to convert yellow perch gear to shallow-mesh nets from deep-mesh nets last year in an effort to reduce the incidental catch of salmon.
You can see decisions are made based on local conditions, and as the minister has stated in the past, the decisions are made in the interests of the fisheries resource.
I know the ministry is pursuing an incidental catch policy that will be acceptable to both the commercial and sport fisheries. But some commercial fishermen view the gill net as essential to their livelihood. The elimination of commercial gill nets would increase the operating costs of commercial fishermen and create a huge financial burden. Many fishing operations would be forced out of business, with the result of lost jobs. The cost of conversion to the trap net is estimated to be from $750,000 to $1 million per operation. These costs would be largely borne by the commercial fishing industry, with further impacts on processors, wholesalers and consumers. The total cost could run into hundreds of millions of dollars, given that 300 to 400 operations may be involved.
In addition, there may be instances where trap nets are not feasible technically. About 80 per cent of the Great Lakes is unfishable with entrapment gear. I think that is an issue that has to be given a lot of consideration. In these cases the cost would be the value of the lost product due to reduction in industry efficiency.
The fisheries resource must be protected and shared. The best way to accomplish this is for anglers and commercial fishermen to work together with government, and I believe that is what is taking place at the present time.
The resolution also calls on the province to accelerate its fish stocking program. Members will be interested to learn that the Ministry of Natural Resources has stocking programs in about 1,000 lakes and rivers in the province. Fish stocking and capital projects associated with it have accounted for about 25 per cent of the fisheries budget over the past few years, with $8 million to $9 million being spent each year on stocking.
I have many other issues to discuss in this debate, but because of the time, I will leave some for my colleague the member for Essex-Kent (Mr McGuigan) to carry on. I know the government is committed to ensuring that both sectors remain viable. I share that commitment, but eliminating the use of commercial gill nets is not going to ensure a viable sport fishery. For this reason, I am unable to support the resolution made by the member for Wellington.
Mr Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate, frankly, with mixed feelings. Before I get into the substance of my presentation, I do want to join with my friend the member for Norfolk (Mr Miller) in expressing good wishes to our friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough and a hope for his speedy recovery.
I want also to congratulate my friend the member for Wellington in introducing this resolution, because I know of his very serious interest in the tourist industry in Ontario and in recreation for the people of this province. I listened with interest to the presentations of my two colleagues, and I must say I have some sympathy with the whereases, if you want to call them that, in the resolution. There is no question that sport fishery is essential to the economic wellbeing of tourism in this province.
Mr McGuigan: Eighty-two per cent is in non-Great Lakes.
Mr Wildman: Interestingly, my friend from Kent was just mentioning what I was going to say next, in that significant fishery in this province, particularly in my part of the province, is in smaller lakes not in the Great Lakes. I agree with my friend’s comment that there is a need to improve the management and quality of aquatic resources in the Great Lakes fishery, even though the majority of tourism and sport fishing relates to the smaller lakes.
There is no question that we do need to improve this fishery on the Great Lakes, and I know the ministry has been making an effort to do that. I have some problems, however, with the comments by my friend from Norfolk with regard to the strategic plan and the management by individual lake he was talking about. I will explain that in a moment.
We had the institution in this province of a resident fishing licence a few years ago. At the time, the Minister of Natural Resources promised that the revenue from that resource, that tax, really, or user fee, would be used for the improvement of the fishery. There is no question that there has been an additional amount of money spent on things like the community fisheries involvement program since that fishing licence was instituted. However, the total amount spent, when you compare it with the total amount spent before the institution of the fishing licence, is not commensurate with the total amount brought in, even when you deduct the administration of the fishing licence program.
I do not think we are getting value for money in the way we might if the minister kept up his resource. The fact is that the minister would like to pretend that by hiring conservation officers, for instance, conservation officers we need --
Mr Miller: And you want to give them more money, too.
Mr Wildman: And we want to give them more money. By hiring conservation officers, he says he is keeping his commitment. Well, he is not. Frankly, conservation officers are responsible for far more than the fishing regulations. In other words, the fishing licence is paying for conservation officers who are implementing parks regulations and hunting regulations. That was not what the fishing licence was for.
Having said that, we have seen that the community fisheries involvement program is a good one. It involves people in the fishery. It involves people in trying to improve habitat and in stocking of lakes, particularly and mainly small lakes. In the big lakes, it has meant salmon production in our area.
I am disappointed, however, that the ministry chose not to continue through CFIP to fund the Sault Ste Marie municipal hatchery, which has done a great deal in our area to improve the fishery. I am also disappointed that while there have been attempts to resolve the difficulties that arise between commercial fishermen and sport fishermen on the Great Lakes by agreements such as the one the member for Norfolk was referring to -- In our area, on eastern Lake Superior, for instance, the commercial fishermen have agreed not to set nets in Batchawana Bay, because it is a significant sport fishery. It benefits both the tourist industry, the sportsman who wants to get out and do some angling, and the commercial fishermen, because they are making a commitment to the community.
Mr Miller: It is a nursery.
Mr Wildman: Exactly. It is a nursery, as my friend from Norfolk says.
There is a serious problem, though, with incidental catch. To say that it has been handled on a lake-by-lake basis, as my friend from Norfolk indicated, whether he is talking about, in our area, an incidental catch of lake trout, pickerel or walleye, ignores the fact that the Minister of Natural Resources has just recently unilaterally frozen fishing quotas on the Great Lakes for commercial fishermen. He is destroying the regional management process by doing this. The minister himself and the people on his staff in Toronto have taken over review of quotas on the Great Lakes, removing it from the regional ministry staff. In doing so, in my view, he has effectively limited the input of fishermen, both sport and commercial, in the operation of the commercial quota system year by year.
I do not understand why the minister has decided to take over direction of quota setting rather than continuing to delegate the authority to set quotas to the regional lake managers. If he really wants to do it on a lake-by-lake basis, how can he do that if he does not let the regional managers do their job?
The minister seems to he determined to take direct control. In doing so, though, he has not ensured that the commercial fishermen and the sport fishermen in the various regions of the province have proper input. On Lake Huron, for instance, there are biological data that indicate there should be a 10 percent increase in the quota this year. That is what the regional manager said: There should be a 10 per cent increase in the Lake Huron quotas this year. That is biological information. But what did the minister do? He did not say, “Okay, go ahead.” He froze the quotas.
Mr Miller: He had a good reason.
Mr Wildman: I would like to know what the reason is. I have not heard a good reason yet.
If there are criteria to determine that the biological data that has been developed does not apply and should not be applied, then why does the minister not publish those criteria? I think the minister should go public and justify the limiting of the income of commercial fishermen that results from his freezing of the quotas.
I think the minister should re-examine the quota freeze immediately. We all agree -- commercial fishermen, sport fishermen and conservationists -- that quotas must be based on biological assessments, not political decisions. If the minister is determined not to delegate quota setting to his staff, then he must establish a system for regular meetings with representatives of commercial fishermen from all of the Great Lakes to ensure that the incidental catch problem is dealt with.
Having said that, I am concerned that in concentrating on the Great Lakes, we are ignoring the sport fishermen and the sport fishery on the smaller lakes. Frankly, in our area more should be done in terms of stocking the smaller lakes, because that is where the sport fishery takes place. I support the stocking program on eastern Lake Superior and in the north channel of Lake Huron, but I think we should be trying to direct more of our resources to the smaller lakes to support the sport fishery.
In terms of commercial fishery on the big lakes, there is the problem that entrapment gear is not particularly effective in a big lake like Lake Superior. There is so much area that it just does not work. But if we are going to say that entrapment gear is not appropriate, that the technology, at least, is not adequate yet, then we have to deal with the quota question and the incidental catch questions. We have to deal with them on a regional basis; not even on just a lake-by-lake basis, but on a bay-by-bay basis.
Mr McGuigan: So we are.
Mr Wildman: I understand that. The regional lake managers have been doing that, but a unilateral freeze of quotas across the province does not do that.
The Deputy Speaker: The member’s time is up.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to take part in this debate today. However, if my colleague the member for Hastings Peterborough were not ill, he would have been here in my place. I, along with my colleagues, wish him a speedy recovery.
I want to congratulate the member for Wellington for bringing this resolution forward. I would like to read this resolution again: “That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing the importance of sport fishing to the economic wellbeing of the province, and the need to improve the management and quality of the aquatic resources in the Great Lakes fishery; the government of Ontario should implement changes in the regulation and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that sport fishing remains viable in Ontario by immediately initiating plans to eliminate the use of commercial gill nets and provide assistance to the commercial fishing industry in converting to trap nets and by accelerating its fish stocking program.”
I am pleased to have this opportunity to say a few words on this resolution brought forward by my colleague the member for Wellington because, as my party’s critic for Tourism and Recreation, I know about the importance of sport fishing as it relates to the tourism and hospitality industry in Ontario. In fact, it is very important to the overall economic wellbeing of this province.
I agree with my colleague the member for Wellington when he points out that there is a need to improve the management and quality of the aquatic resources in the Great Lakes fishery and I join with him in calling on the government to “implement changes in the regulation and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that sport fishing remains viable in Ontario by immediately initiating plans to eliminate the use of gill nets and provide assistance to the commercial fishing industry to convert to trap nets and by accelerating its fish stocking program.”
As we all know, commercial fishermen on the Great Lakes are licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to fish with gill nets for such species as yellow perch, white perch, whitefish and smelt. Unfortunately, other species for which commercial fishermen are not licensed, such as trout and walleye, are inadvertently caught in these gill nets, resulting in the incidental catch of fish that attracts sport fishermen to Ontario from other provinces in Canada and even those from beyond the borders of this country.
I want to make it quite clear that I am not advocating the abolition of the commercial fishing industry. Rather, I am advocating major changes to commercial fishing practices, because I believe this industry is ready, willing and able to allow for the wise use of Ontario’s precious natural resources.
I am of the opinion that the use of gill nets for commercial fishing should be banned. Because of its size and the efficiency of its equipment, the commercial industry has the potential to over-harvest fish stocks drastically, to the detriment of resident and visiting nonresident fishermen. It is my understanding that gill nets kill virtually everything that enters into them, and not just the fish commercial fishermen are licensed to catch.
There are three very specific studies that point to the nonselective deadliness of gill nets: The Lake Huron fisheries assessment unit produced figures that indicated commercial netters incidentally killed 126,455 salmon and trout while fishing for whitefish, chub and perch in 1984 and 1985 in part of Lake Huron; a study conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the eastern section of Lake Ontario showed that gill net fishermen seeking whitefish were likely to catch three lake trout for every whitefish; a study conducted near Long Point Bay in Lake Erie estimated that perch gill nets caught 7,200 bass from mid-July to mid-August of 1983 and 1984, which is roughly equivalent to one quarter of the total angler harvest.
I sincerely believe that if commercial fishermen switch to trap nets, most of the nontarget fish could be released alive to swim, spawn and provide a challenge to resident and nonresident sport fishermen.
According to Ministry of Natural Resources statistics, there were 983,000 resident and 637,000 nonresident sport fishing licences issued in 1988, which generated about $21 million. I think these statistics are a clear indication of just how vibrant and important sport fishing is to the Ontario tourism industry.
The government must implement changes in the regulations and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that sport fishing remains viable in Ontario. Ontario sport fishing is an extremely important component of Ontario’s tourism and recreation industry, which generates unparalleled economic and employment opportunities, substantially reduces our provincial travel deficit and attracts our rightful share of world travel and tourism revenues.
Sport fishing is extremely important to the tourist industry of Ontario, which in turn is extremely important to the economy of this province. The tourism hospitality industry is the province’s leading service sector industry and one of the top three contributors to Ontario’s economy. Sport fishing and tourism generate billions of dollars of income and foreign exchange earnings for this province annually.
In 1987 the industry had sales of $21.3 billion in Ontario. Travel expenditures in the province totalled $9.3 billion, and that was a 7.6 per cent increase over 1986. That also represents six per cent of the gross provincial product and one out of every 10 jobs. Combined, the tourism and recreation sectors, of which sport fishing plays a major role, account for 1 per cent of employment in Ontario.
I believe the province should follow the lead of many of her neighbours to the south which saw Michigan ban the use of gill nets in 1972, with the exception of Indians in limited and designated areas. New York state banned gill netting in 1986. Indiana has banned gill netting for perch fishing and Ohio banned gill nets for walleye fishing on Lake Erie.
I believe the resolution brought forward by my colleague from Wellington will improve the management and quality of the delicate aquatic resources of our Great Lakes and protect the province’s sport fishing industry.
I believe the use of gill nets for commercial fishing must be phased out in Ontario, with such a phase-out program developed on a regional basis and including such options as:
Ensuring the close monitoring of existing gill net fisheries, in an attempt to reduce incidental catches while maintaining the status quo. Expansion of the gill net study carried out in the eastern sector of Lake Ontario to all of the Great Lakes might prove to be advantageous.
Encourage the conversion from gill nets to live capture gear through various avenues and incentives, including government buyout.
Making the use of gill nets specific to the time of year or a location; for example, gill netting, other than large mesh for carp, is prohibited in the Bay of Quinte and the St Lawrence River.
Authorizing the use of live capture gear only for any commercial fishing licensee and prohibiting the use of gill nets by a specified date.
Recognizing the incidental catch of sport fish by making formal allocation of one or more of these species to the commercial gill net fishery.
Financial assistance to convert from traditional methods of fishing to modernized fish farming.
Transition assistance to commercial fishermen interested in pursuing related business opportunities such as food processing and charter businesses.
Financial assistance to purchase the equipment, licences and quotas of commercial fishermen interested in pursuing nonfishing-related opportunities.
Accelerated fish stocking programs to enhance the tourism, recreation and sport fishing potential of each area of this province.
As my party’s critic for Tourism and Recreation, I believe that changes are required in the regulation and management of the Great Lakes fishery to ensure that both the commercial and sport fishing industries remain viable in Ontario and actually grow and expand in the future. This government cannot ignore the social and economic benefits of these industries and what they bring to Ontario.
I would like to repeat that I am not advocating abolition of the commercial fishing industry in Ontario. What I am advocating is major changes to commercial fishing practices because I really do believe that the commercial fishing industry is quite willing to allow for the wise use of Ontario’s precious and threatened natural resources. We must not leave our children and our children’s children with a legacy of lakes containing few or no species of sport fish.
Tourism is notably absent from the recent throne speech and budget. When the economy slows down, as many predict will eventually happen, it will be increasingly difficult to position tourism as an important element of Ontario’s future economy.
Mr McGuigan: I thank the member for Wellington for bringing this matter for debate and I join my colleagues -- I think everyone in the House -- in wishing a speedy recovery for the member for Hastings-Peterborough. I will begin by pointing out that this government does recognize the importance of sport fishing to the economic wellbeing of Ontario, and as my colleague points out, it is doing a great deal to improve the aquatic resources of the Great Lakes.
I have lived all of my life within sight and sound of Lake Erie, as has my family since the mid-1830s. I remember that portion of Lake Erie in the 1950s was considered to be dead. It is alive and well today thanks to the joint efforts of Canada, the United States and Ontario in cleaning up the lakes.
Even though it is the most productive freshwater fishery in the world and even though Lake Erie produces 60 per cent of the commercial catch in all of Ontario, it was in the early 1800s even more productive. I will just refer members to this book called The Good Years, written by Frank Prothero.
Early reports by explorers and missionaries talk of fish being so numerous that at spawning time streams became clogged with salmon so thickly that piles of rotting fish were left behind. In the 1920s, the Lake Erie herring catch was in the range of 12 million pounds. Whitefish reached almost four million pounds in the 1950s. Pickerel reached 10 million pounds in the early 1950s, crashed in the 1970s and are now about eight million to nine million pounds at the present.
Smelt, a relative newcomer, reached 20 million pounds in the 1960s. In 1954, there were six million pounds of white bass caught, and in 1909 the pike harvest was almost three billion. Catfish, carp and suckers were also harvested. Sturgeon were so abundant in the last century that they were used for fuel and for fertilizer.
The key to heavy harvests of both sport and commercial fishermen is not the elimination of gill nets, but fish management: management of the stocks and management of the environment. The mover of the resolution calls for the elimination of the use of commercial gill nets. I remember a pond net fishery just down the road from where I live. It was the Curtiss Brothers fishery, given up many years ago.
These people had wooden stakes, some as long as 60 feet, which they drove into the lake bed within sight of shore. The stakes lasted only a few years; maybe 10 years. Today they would be difficult to come by, if they were available at all. Just think of the cost of a hydro pole today. If you knock one down with your truck, it is going to cost you about $500.
I remember the open pond net boats and the danger to life they presented to the fishermen compared to the modem enclosed gill net tugs. Trap nets or pond nets cannot be moved to follow the fish, and aside from the costs, as mentioned by my colleague the member for Norfolk, they simply would not be physically able to catch the millions of pounds of fish taken annually from Lake Erie.
I hasten to add that the quota allocated to sport fishermen on Lake Erie has never been taken up. Some 10 years ago, the sport fishermen took up to 20 per cent of their allocated 10 per cent of the catch. Last year, for the first time, the sport fishermen took up just over 80 per cent of their allocation.
There are two communities in my riding of Essex-Kent that owe their existence largely to the commercial fishing industry, although sport fishing is important. I am speaking of the ports of Erieau and Wheatley.
Wheatley is the home of a large fleet of tugs, plus a very extensive fish processing industry. The largest of these processors, Omstead Foods, employs 900 people. Wages in their plants compare favourably with the industrial plants in Tilbury and Windsor. The processing plant and the freezing plant would be measured in acres, not in thousands of square feet.
Starting with frozen deep-battered fish sticks, this company has developed a host of fried and frozen products that today cover a large number of vegetable crops. Most notable is their production of fried onion rings, produced in season from Ontario Spanish-type onions. They also produce gourmet-style frozen finger foods, fried and frozen cauliflower, broccoli and other vegetables, and even some cheese. These items replace imports from the United States. In fact, as much of the production is exported to the United States, the production adds to our balance of payments.
Total production is in the $100 million range from this one plant and presently the nonfish items show a promise of outstripping the fish production. The key to this production is the fish base of their operation. It is instructional to note that the operation is not situated in the Niagara Peninsula, where so much of Ontario’s fruit and vegetables are produced. There is no comparable freezer plant as part of a processing plant in Ontario. Freezer plants are capital-intensive and costly to operate.
It is only through the fact that fish, fruit and vegetables complement each other seasonally that this operation is a commercial success. Members should just stop to think of the change in lifestyle -- TV dinners, microwave ovens and all of this -- which encourages the use of fish, because when you look at the selling of fresh fish through the supermarkets, fresh fish is a very difficult item to market, whereas the processed is very easy.
Look at the village of Erieau, which is very close to where I live. I want to point out that these communities are very close-knit in their historical attachment to the fishing industry and to their families. Erieau boasts that during the Second World War it had the highest percentage of its population in the armed services of any community in North America. Naturally, most of these people were in the navy.
Trap or impoundment nets would never support this industry. To implement the intention of the resolution, as well meaning as it may be, would destroy not only a fishing industry but also a sector of the vegetables industry in southwestern Ontario.
This company operates a fleet of reefer trucks that cover all of North America, bringing fresh fish from all of the Great Lakes ports to Wheatley and indeed from lakes in the prairie provinces as they transport them to the far corners of North America. A local shipbuilding industry builds ships for the fishing industry and for export to other parts of the world. Hike Metal Products has just completed one of the largest trimaran ships in the world for export to Australia.
I enjoy angling myself. My son is a trophy fishermen, one of the best. Every summer we spend a few hours on Rondeau Bay, one of the best bass fisheries in North America. From my farm background, I would be inclined to keep the catch, but my son, as do many ardent fishermen, practises catch-and-release fishing. I believe many sport fishermen understand that commercial fishermen contribute to the management of the fishery.
Take a look at Lake St Chair. Commercial fishing was banned there many years ago due to mercury pollution. Local fishermen will tell you that for a time, sport fishing success did increase. Today it is declining. Some of the sport fishing charter boats, I am told, have now moved to Lake Erie ports. The reason is that coarse fish, formerly removed by commercial fishermen, are on the increase. White perch spawn in the same year as they are hatched and every year thereafter for three or four years.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): The next and final speaker is the member for Wellington to conclude the debate.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I assume from the comments that the resolution will not receive support from the government side. In 1987, 1,620,000 people bought sport fishing licences, creating revenues of $21 million for this province. Add to that the hundreds of thousands of anglers who do not require licences, people under 18 and seniors. These numbers will continue to grow if these anglers have the opportunity to catch fish. Our lakes must provide them with that opportunity.
Every 1,000 sport fish that are netted by commercial fishermen deprive 1,000 anglers of the opportunity to catch at least one fish. How can an angler with a single line and one lure hope to compete with thousands of metres of commercial fishing net? Even the most ardent fisherman will give up if there are not any fish to catch and move on to other jurisdictions where they have more enlightened sport fishing regulations.
The SkyDome is sold out for ball games day after day, win or lose, but that will only last for so long, and then if the Jays do not start winning, attendance will diminish. So it is with fishing. For anglers to return again and again, they must have some success, at least once in a while. By supporting this resolution, members will be supporting Ontario becoming the best fishing hole in the world.
We are blessed with having the Great Lakes, the world’s largest body of fresh water right on our doorstep. Surely it is just good common sense that we should be supportive of any efforts that will improve our sport fishing industry. Wise management of our natural resources is a responsibility that we as legislators must share and, hopefully, we will manage it for the betterment of the people we serve.
This resolution, in my opinion, is a step in that direction. I ask for members’ support of this resolution in the hope that if it passes, the Minister of Natural Resources and the government will take some positive measures to enhance our sport fishing industry in Ontario.
With the three minutes I have left, I would like to just make some comments pertaining to the statements made by some of the members. I might just point out that I received the latest statistics which are for 1987, from the Ministry of Natural Resources. They show that the total number of dollars taken in by commercial fishermen was $48,339,000. Of that, $36,457,000 came from Lake Erie.
Mr Miller: Come down to Port Dover, Jack, and we will give you a perch or pickerel dinner. Do you want to take that off the market?
Mr J. M. Johnson: Those two members do have a vital concern in Lake Erie and I share that concern, but Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Lake Superior are slightly different. There are not that many commercial dollars there. Surely we can move in that direction to support the sport fishing industry to a larger extent than we are doing at the present time. The ministry has made efforts in eastern Lake Ontario to buy out some of the commercial fishermen. They have been able to convince some of the fishermen there to convert to trap nets. We do not have to do it across the province if we can move in that direction.
I might just mention that John Power, a writer for the Toronto Star, mentioned that in 1980 a survey was conducted on the 1979 Great Salmon Hunt. There were 7,000 participants who spent in excess of $10 million. Projecting these figures on to the 1988-89 scene, there are now three times as many anglers involved in the salmon hunt. Add in the 400 charter boats on the lake and 10 years of inflation, and he estimates that the amount spent now is in the vicinity of $100 million, twice the amount of money is taken in in all the commercial fishing, and that is only in the one area of salmon.
The member for Norfolk mentioned the problem of Lake Erie and I support that; it is a problem. To the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman), a northern member, if we can entice individuals in Toronto to become interested in fishing in Lake Ontario, there is a very good possibility those individuals will be hooked on fishing and will indeed go up north to try fishing in Algoma. Did the member catch that? Algoma. As a matter of fact, I might mention that my son-in-law is on a 10-day fishing trip up north, in Algoma. I am sure the economy will improve dramatically.
I would also like to mention that the member for Simcoe East (Mr McLean) made the most intelligent and reasonable speech on this issue of all the members here. Maybe I am prejudiced, but I do not think so. He lives on the shore of Lake Simcoe and owns a boat. I am sure he spends much of his time out fishing.
I encourage members to vote for this resolution.
The Acting Speaker: The time allotted for this ballot item has expired The next order, please.
ONTARIO ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACT, 1989
Mrs Grier: I would like to reserve five minutes at the end of my allotted time to comment on the contributions of other members.
The Acting Speaker: Could you please introduce your motion first.
Mrs Grier moved second reading of Bill 12, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario.
The Acting Speaker: The member will be reminded that she has up to 20 minutes for her presentation and may reserve the five minutes she has indicated.
Mrs Grier: I am sorry. I did not realize I had to move it. I should have done that, because it is certainly not the first time I have moved second reading of an act respecting environmental rights in Ontario. In fact, it is the third time I have had the privilege of having this act debated during private members’ hour.
Mr Miller: We have had this a lot of times.
Mrs Grier: I hope it might be the last time, not because I do not enjoy the experience, the debate and the exchange, but because I hope that this time the bill will move beyond second reading into committee hearings and eventually become the law of this province because as I am being reminded by the government members, the idea of a bill of rights is not new. In fact, it is exactly 10 years ago since the first environmental bill of rights was introduced in this place, by a Liberal member at that point because they were in opposition. It has been introduced many times since my very many members of both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party.
Mr McGuigan: And it will be again.
Mrs Grier: And it will be again. It will continue to be introduced, it will continue to be supported and it will continue to be pushed for by this party, because we believe very sincerely that if we are truly to get to the bottom of the problems affecting our environment and truly to do something significant about them, then we need to have rights to a clear environment, which we do not have in the law of this province at this time.
Bill 12, which we are debating this morning, is different than the previous bills of rights I have introduced. They were based completely on the versions that had been introduced in the early 1980s by the member for Bruce (Mr Elston) when he was the critic for the Liberal Party. What we have before us today is what I have called a new and improved environmental rights bill, but the principles and the fundamental basics of the bill are unchanged.
An environmental bill of rights would give citizens the right to go to court to protect the environment where damage is being done. It would ensure environmental decisions are not made without notifying the community and without citizens having a right to a public hearing. It would protect workers from reprisals if they release information about pollution or if they refuse to do work they believe violates environmental law.
Surely these are principles we all support, principles that were supported by all parties in this House on the previous occasions when we had a debate on second reading of this bill, principles that were supported by 89 per cent of the members elected to this House in 1987.
The Project for Environmental Priorities prior to the 1985 election and prior to the 1987 election circulated questionnaires that it asked all candidates to fill in. One of those questions was, “Would you support an environmental bill of rights for the province of Ontario?” and 89 per cent of those elected on 10 September 1987 indicated they would support an environmental bill of rights in Ontario.
We might well ask, “Why do we not have one?”
Mr R. F. Johnston: Why?
Mrs Grier: I cannot quite understand it but I hope we can rectify that problem very shortly.
The purpose of the act is spelled out very clearly in sections 2 and 3, and I would like to just put them on the record:
2. “The purpose of this act is to ensure the health and sustainability of the environment of Ontario, and in particular:
“(a) to facilitate the participation of the people of Ontario in decisions affecting the environment and their ability to protect their common interest in a healthy and sustainable environment;
“(b) to recognize the right of the people of Ontario to an environment that is adequate for their health and wellbeing and sustainable into the future; and
“(c) to recognize the obligations of the province of Ontario to conserve and maintain the resources of the province for present and future generations.”
Section 3 enunciates the right of the people of Ontario “to a healthy and sustainable environment, including clean air and water, to the conservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment, and to the protection of ecosystems and biological diversity.”
It points out that the province “as trustee of Ontario’s public lands, waters and natural resources, shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of present and future generations.”
It declares that “it is in the public interest to provide every person with an adequate remedy to protect and conserve the environment and the public trust therein from contamination and degradation.”
So it gives the citizens the right to have a healthy and sustainable environment and it provides them with some tools and mechanisms to do the job.
If you ask anyone in this province whether they have the right to a healthy environment, they will probably answer yes because people believe that is a right, that they ought to be able to have clean air, clean water and a clean land in which to live. But in fact it is not laid down in any of the pieces of legislation of this province, and it is not laid down that the citizens have the right to have that legislation which does exist enforced. They have to rely on the Minister of the Environment to enforce the legislation. If the minister chooses not to enforce it, they have no way to oblige him to do so. The minister has a power, but he does not have a duty and it is not mandatory that he take action.
Let me make it very clear that this bill does not relieve the minister of the responsibility to take action to protect the environment, but it does give him an army of enforcement officials. It provides him with volunteers in the form of every citizen of the province who is concerned about environmental contamination and who wants to do something about environmental contamination.
Surely I do not have to tell any member of this House that the public wants a clean environment, that the public, when given the opportunity, will take advantage of that opportunity. We only have to look at the overwhelming success of the blue box program to know that is in fact the case.
As I have said, the previous environmental bills I have introduced were drafted almost a decade ago. During the debates on those pieces of legislation, government members have supported them in principle but raised objections to the actual provisions of the bills. If the members go back in Hansard to the previous debates, they will find that members on the government side found flaws in the bills, many of them quite legitimately pointed out, and they also said that much that the bills were asking to have done had already been accomplished by the record of this government.
In responses to the very many environmental groups and individuals who wrote to the minister urging him to support my previous environmental bill of rights, the minister spelled out quite clearly, as he is wont to do, how much he had accomplished in the time he had been in office. He spelled out the areas where he felt his actions had already superseded the requirements of the original environmental bills of rights.
He said, “In this regard, penalty provisions under the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Pesticides Act have been increased, a computerized system to record and track complaints is being set up, a comprehensive policy on public consultation is under development.”
“In addition,” said the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), “the Ministry of the Attorney General is in the process of formulating a policy for funding citizens in environmental hearings, and the freedom-of-information act, which comes into force in January 1988, gives citizens access to all government documents.”
However, the minister went on to say that in keeping with the government’s commitment to strong environmental legislation and recognizing an environmental bill of rights as an important initiative, he had supported my previous bills and looked forward to the bill being brought before the standing committee on resources development for review, and he was confident the legislation would be improved and strengthened by this review.
That letter was written 26 January 1988 to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists.
Unfortunately, what happened was that the resources committee was never able to schedule the time to have that detailed review. Somehow, the two days of public hearings I had requested of the committee could never be fitted in. So, working very closely with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and with significant assistance from legislative counsel, what I have introduced today is a new and improved bill of rights that takes into account the comments of the Minister of the Environment.
Members will notice that I have deleted from the bill that is before us today the section on access to information, which as the minister quite correctly pointed out has already been enacted elsewhere, and the section on intervener funding. I deleted that section with some reserve because I am concerned that the intervener funding program that is in place is only a pilot project and is fairly limited in its application. My purpose was to try to avoid any further objections from the minister and to give him a bill that he felt he could support unreservedly.
The section on class actions has been greatly simplified to take into account discussions that I know the Attorney General (Mr Scott) is having around legislation the government might introduce in that regard. The bill has been streamlined and updated and has taken into account those actions already taken by this government.
The bill has, however, been significantly strengthened by incorporating the whole concept of sustainable development, the concept first enunciated by the Brundtland commission, with which all members are familiar, and a concept supported in another private members’ debate when the House adopted a resolution supporting the principles of the Brundtland commission.
Another significant change in my bill is the section on employee rights, which has been changed to reflect those sections of the Environmental Protection Act that already give employees the right to refuse to pollute. There was an inconsistency between the provisions in my original bill and the existing Environmental Protection Act and the new bill removes that inconsistency.
Having worked to remove the objections the government had, I hope I will now have its full-scale support and that we will move, as I say, beyond second reading. There is certainly in the community -- the environmental groups, the trade union movement and citizens’ groups -- widespread support for a piece of legislation such as I have introduced today. Letters in support of a bill of rights to the minister, to members of the resources committee and to members on all sides of this House demonstrate that groups, whether their primary concern is a local issue or whether it is a more general environmental group looking at the whole aspect of how we can protect and improve our environment, feel that a fundamental tool that is required is an environmental bill of rights.
I was interested to find that in a recent newsletter from the Ontario Waste Management Corp based on a speech given by Dr Chant, there was significant support for just what I am suggesting today. That newsletter in May 1989 was entitled Environment and the Law and was introduced by a sentence that says:
“One of the most important policy issues facing Ontario or any jurisdiction concerns the protection of the environment and the role of the legal profession in safeguarding human health and quality of life.”
It goes on to point out the complexity and the immense scale of the environmental problems facing us today and points out in conclusion that: “the role of the judiciary and the legal system is becoming one of the major issues on the environmental agenda. There are a number of possible improvements in both form and content that could improve the resolution of environmental disputes.”
As the first of those resolutions, the OWMC newsletter points to intervener funding, and as I have said, we now have a limited system of intervener funding in place in this province.
Second, to quote from the newsletter, they say: “The idea of an environmental bill of rights warrants careful consideration. It could open the door to class actions on environmental issues, as can be done in the United States. Why should an individual not be able to sue on behalf of the environment, whether or not all people are suffering exactly the same damage? The courts long ago learned how to protect themselves against frivolous actions in civil litigation matters. They could easily do the same on environmental matters.”
There are concrete examples in this province that were given at a press conference just last Friday by representatives of Greenpeace, examples where in Cornwall, in the Kimberly-Clark pulp and paper bill on Moberley and in the Algoma Steel Corp in Sault Ste Marie, cases of pollution, of not adhering to regulations, of the regulations not being tough enough to really protect the environment, are not being acted upon by the Minister of the Environment, but cases where, as Greenpeace said, if there had been an environmental bill of rights, citizens or environmental organizations could have taken action in order to prevent these things from happening.
I think the time has come in this province not just to support an environmental bill of rights in principle in private members’ hour on second reading, but to support sending that bill on to the standing committee on resources development and then making sure that the majority of the members on that committee vote to set aside time to have deputations, to listen to the concerns that will be expressed on all sides about the implications of a bill of rights and to work constructively to improve the private member’s bill I have introduced today -- I am sure it is capable of being improved -- but to make sure we move forward and put in place a piece of legislation that will give the people of this province what they are asking for, the right to a clean environment.
Mrs Marland: I take pleasure in rising today on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus to support this bill. Obviously, I am doing it in the same capacity as Environment critic for the Progressive Conservative caucus as I did when I rose to support Bill 13, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s predecessor bill, last fall.
Currently, individual citizens do not have a right to take legal action against a polluter in Ontario courts. The public does have the right to prosecute a polluter for violations of a provincial law, but the process is extremely difficult. A civil suit can be filed against a polluter only if the plaintiff can prove personal loss and damage. Environmentalists believe that Bill 12 will make it much easier for citizens to fight pollution when the government chooses not to.
Concerns have been raised that a bill of rights would lead to a floodgate of claims and many would be of dubious validity.
The experience in Michigan, which passed the Michigan Environmental Protection Act in 1970, an act which is very similar to this one, has in fact been positive. In its first 13 years, a total of 185 actions involving the Michigan Environmental Protection Act had been filed with the courts or with the state administrative agencies.
In the words of Paul Muldoon of the Canadian Environmental Law Association: “When we look at the United States jurisdictions with an environmental bill of rights, there has not been a flood of cases. The vast majority are full of merit and worthy to be brought before the courts.”
Bill 12 clarifies and strengthens the wording of the provisions which were present in the previous bill, Bill 13, and deletes provisions which have already been acted on by the government through other pieces of legislation.
Under section 2, the bill’s purpose is now clearly stated, “‘To ensure the health and sustainability of the environment of Ontario and...to recognize the right of the people of Ontario to an environment that is adequate for their health and wellbeing and sustainable into the future.”
This section is as a result of the influence of the 1987 Brundtland report prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development which supported the goal of sustainable economic development. Sustainable development is defined as development that ensures that the use of resources and the environment today does not damage prospects for their use by future generations. I think that is a very simple goal for everyone, and a very obvious one.
Bill 12 would also allow individuals to take polluters to court even though they were not directly affected by the actions of the polluter. Establishing a prima facie case against the polluter is notoriously difficult. It would make it easier and require polluters to provide an explanation for their actions. It would allow an action to be brought in the Supreme Court of Ontario as a civil matter against polluters.
It would give workers greater protection from reprisals if they refuse work orders to pollute or report an act of pollution by an employer. It would also provide for public notice and review of certain approvals, permits and other environment-related orders before they come into force.
I think it is significant that we look for a few moments at the Liberal record in terms of the Liberal Party, not the Liberal government.
This is actually the 10th anniversary of the introduction of an environmental bill of rights. The first introduction was by Dr Stuart Smith, who was then, in 1979, the Liberal opposition leader. During the second reading of his bill, Bill 185, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario, Dr Smith stated: “What we do to our environment, the kind of planet we leave for our children and the children who follow them is something that is very real, it’s something people will be able to look back on and either thank us for or blame us for, depending on the actions we take.”
Dr Smith also said. “The occasion to debate this particular bill is one of very real importance to me and I believe it will go down as a day of some importance in the history of people’s attempt to come to grips with the industrial age and to make this planet a liveable situation for generations to follow us.” I think the sentiments, obviously, of Dr Stuart Smith, are sentiments which we would all support and believe in.
The member for Bruce reintroduced Dr Smith’s bill in 1982, three years later. During debate on the bill in the standing committee on resources development on 1 June 1982, the member stated: “Let me make the Liberal Party’s position quite clear. I have introduced a bill entitled, the Ontario Environmental Rights Bill. The bill is an updated version of the bill introduced by my former leader. It provides for access to government information on pollutant emissions and places a burden of proof on polluters. Furthermore, it will allow a citizen to sue a polluter in cases where the government refused to do so.”
I think that background of the Liberal Party’s position on this kind of bill in Ontario speaks for itself. Therefore. I am quite sure we will experience again, this morning, the unanimous support of the House for Bill 12, because as we know, we did sustain that support on 10 December 1987 when Bill 13, the predecessor, was passed on second reading. It has been very interesting, as the mover of this bill said this morning, how we wanted, both of us, with eager anticipation, as members of the resources development committee, for that hill to be placed before that committee It is amazing how, since 1987, we have not had any time allocated by the Liberal government House leader to make sure the environmental bill of rights did, in fact, get the hearing for which it was referred to that committee. We certainly hope that will change this morning.
I would like to say that when I supported that bill on 10 December 1987, in identifying one of the objectives of the bill as establishing the government as a trustee of public lands, I did say that we have to be sure the government can act in the public interest in preserving the ecological and environmentally special areas. I also said that I supported the provisions which broadened the right to sue beyond those who had suffered direct personal harm, and I stated that this bill will allow actions that have the interests of future generations at heart.
One other comment I would like to read into the record here this morning is that Paul Muldoon of the Canadian Environmental Law Association has indicated support for the bill in principle, but suggested that there were several technical errors that should have been cleaned up. He has also expressed concern over the removal of the intervener funding provisions, but he also recognizes why that happened, as do I, that would then construe the bill as being a money bill. Obviously it is not the privilege of those of us in opposition to present bills that include policies dealing with money and funding. However, I think it is terribly important that intervener funding be part of the ongoing legislation of any government of this province. I also think that when Mr Muldoon suggested that citizens be given the right to review a standard periodically to account for changes in technology and setting standards, that is another important aspect that should be considered.
In closing my comments this morning, I want to say that we will look forward to hearing from all parties who are interested in this subject in the very near future, when this bill is referred to the resources development committee, successfully this time.
Mr McClelland: The concept of an environmental bill of rights is something which I personally very strongly support. I am also very pleased to see that the statement of purpose of this bill presented today adopts the principle of sustainable development. The Brundtland commission on environment and economy has focused world attention on the interdependence of the economy and our fragile environment. There is increasing evidence that we face dire consequences if we cannot redirect our economic aspirations towards environmentally sustainable development.
Ontario’s support for that principle, the principle of sustainable development, was made evident last fall through the announcement by the Premier (Mr Peterson) of the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy. The round table will not only be an adviser to government, but an influence on all sectors of society and a catalyst for projects which demonstrate the viability of environmentally sound development.
The government also supported Bill 13, the previous incarnation of the current Bill 12. In fact, the two bills are in large measure the same.
The need for a new, improved bill has arisen because several key parts of Bill 13 were rendered redundant as a consequence of policies adopted in legislation passed by this government, in addition to the changes that we have realized over the past number of years and the new realities in terms of environmental law and the environmental concerns that we share as a society.
For example, with respect to some of the legislation that has been passed by our government, section 15 of Bill 3 dealt with access to information. That issue is already comprehensively addressed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The freedom-of-information act took effect on 1 January 1988. That act ensures that disclosure is the rule rather than the exception in Ontario now. In addition, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that information on toxic substances be made available in the workplace.
The environmental bill of rights proposes full public participation in environmental issues. The Ministry of the Environment has developed a public consultation process which recognizes and ensures the right of members of the public to have a meaningful role in environmental protection and management. The ministry uses a wide range of consultation activities to meet the needs of individuals, groups and communities. We have an open exchange of information, and that is a key part of this process.
The Ministry of the Environment has developed information and kits to help run effective public participation programs. Key people within the ministry are being trained in public participation skills so they can effectively respond to communities and work with communities. Public meetings are being held, by way of example, on control orders.
The ministry also publishes for public review all regulations proposed under the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, commonly known as MISA, the government’s water cleanup program. Independent environmental experts on the MISA advisory committee also add a powerful public presence to this flagship of environmental reform.
Most major programs being proposed by the ministry are released for public comment. Examples include the white paper on MISA, the clean air program and the pesticides notification program. The Ministry of Natural Resources also has developed a public consultation policy under our government.
Another area where Bill 13 was overtaken by advance is the area of intervener funding, and that has been referred to today. The Intervener Funding Project Act was tabled by our Attorney General in June 1988 and has recently been proclaimed. That act provides funding to members of the public who act as interveners before selected administrative tribunals. The intent of that legislation is to enhance the process of public input by enabling interveners to participate in proceedings by providing financial assistance.
This act formalized the Ministry of the Environment’s policy of providing intervener funding, which had been in effect for the entire time our government has been in office. The government, by way of example, has recently provided $450,000 to interveners in the class environmental assessment on timber management now under way in Thunder Bay. This is in addition to the $300,000 that was already provided to interveners. Although characterized as “limited” by my good friend from Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier), I think that is a substantial contribution.
This government has also provided funds in other cases, such as the Petro-Sun/SNC incinerator hearing, the Derry Road bypass, the Halton landfill, and of course, the Ontario Waste Management Corp’s proposed facility. Public access to government has been a major policy objective in Ontario since 1985, and the Intervener Funding Project Act is a key instrument in this regard.
As I see it, one of the prime goals of an environmental bill of rights is to ensure that the polluter pays. While the government has been ensuring precisely that in Ontario over the past number of years, enforcement is the engine that drives environmental action in Ontario.
Ontario’s environmental efforts punish polluters. The Ministry of the Environment is currently in the process of doubling the size of its investigations and enforcement branch. The environmental laws themselves were strengthened in 1986 under the new penalties bill. Maximum daily fines were increased 10-fold for the most often used prosecutions, providing for fines of up to $500,000 a day for the most serious offences. We also made it possible for judges to jail offenders for up to one year. We removed immunities that municipalities and government ministries and agencies had from Ontario pollution laws.
I think the results speak for themselves. In 1984-85, the year before this government took office, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment initiated 54 prosecutions in total. Since then, prosecutions have increased almost fourfold to 211 prosecutions in fiscal 1987-88. The 1988-89 fiscal year saw another increase in prosecutions.
Fines are increasing as well. As judges begin to exercise their prerogatives under the 1986 legislation, we see a dramatic increase in fines. Fines in the tens of thousands of dollars are no longer unusual events and six-figure fines are being levied ever more frequently by judges sensitive to the greater value society now places on a clean environment.
There are two other key sections of the environmental bill of rights which deal with the concepts of standing and class action. As noted by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I would also like to draw attention to the fact that these concepts are currently under consideration by the Ontario Law Reform Commission and our Attorney General. The Ontario Law Reform Commission should have a report on standing available this summer. That will be a very useful analysis of this issue and will be carefully reviewed by our government. The Attorney General has also been reviewing the concept of class action in Ontario generally, and the concept of class action may have much wider application than strictly the environmental field.
The environmental bill of rights which has been introduced today by our friend from Etobicoke-Lakeshore is a valuable initiative and one which we as a government support very strongly in its principle and in its concept.
Ms Bryden: This is a very important private member’s bill before us.
I would remind the House that in 1980, I introduced the first bill calling for the establishment of an environmental Magna Carta, which is very similar in concept to the environmental bills of rights that have come in recent years. The member for York South (Mr B Rae) and all my successors as Environment critics have introduced such bills and all of them have been defeated. The bill from the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is the latest recognition of the pressing need for an environmental bill of rights.
We have been reminded that Stuart Smith and the member for Bruce introduced environmental bills of rights. They were members of the Liberal Party, one of them, Dr Smith, when it was in opposition and one of them since this government took over. So there is good reason for the members opposite to support this bill and to admit that not only has its time come, but it is long overdue.
Environmental polls show that large majorities support strong action to protect our environment and maintain a healthy environment for all of us and for future generations.
This bill will permit individuals to sue the government or government agencies if they feel their environment has been degraded. It is an important step in making governments accountable if they fail to protect the environment. Such suits are allowed in the United States. Why are we waiting so long in this province? I certainly intend to support this bill.
In Ontario, we do not even allow class actions by groups who feel that they have been harmed by government failures to stop environmental pollution and degradation. They still have to prove a monetary loss for each person affected in any sort of group action. This bill has a separate clause on class actions, which, along with class-action legislation, is very necessary and which we hope the Attorney General will bring in soon.
The only action that could be taken against a government official was to charge the person with a violation of the Environmental Protection Act. This act was supposed to be our flagship act on environmental protection. It was introduced by the Progressive Conservative government. Unfortunately, it has not been changed very much by the Liberal government.
It has proved to be more of a paper tiger than we would have liked. It established an environmental assessment process which was supposed to require public hearings if there were serious objections to any proposal affecting the environment, but there were several flaws in the process. First of all, most of the environmental hearings have been a David-and-Goliath exercise without sufficient intervener funding for the groups opposing the actions of governments and proponents of proposals which affect the environment.
It has been weak in enforcement. The Minister of Transportation and Communications in 1981 was actually charged with failure to comply with the act because he did not submit proposed highway plans to environmental assessment. He was actually fined. Perhaps he should have gone to jail. That is the only way in which the objectives of the environmental protection legislation could be enforced. This will be another and better way, more open to the public to participate.
Another thing that is lacking is the public disclosure of plans, proposals and inspection results. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act may help to get some of this material, but it is still a cumbersome and costly process and fairly new in operation.
The exemptions from environmental assessment, which were given frequently by both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments, have been a very great weakness in that environmental protection legislation. The persons granting those exemptions would, under this act, be required to justify them more precisely and with public input before they are granted.
Bill 12 also provides for public notice and review of certain approvals, permits or other environment-related orders before the approvals, permits or orders come into force and for regular review by the Environmental Assessment Board of all regulations affecting the environment. This is a very important section. In the past, the people affected by all these orders often did not find out about them until they were passed and in effect. It is difficult to get them amended in such circumstances.
Another very important provision in the bill is the new section 5, which deals with employee rights and prohibits an employer from disciplining or dismissing an employee who reports to any person an act that contaminates or degrades the environment.
One of my first cases after I was elected in 1985 was a complaint from a constituent who had the courage to report a serious environmental violation by a local factory where he worked. The employer was permitting toxic fluids from the operation to be discharged into a ditch which flowed into a nearby river. The employee had protested this action to the employer as being environmentally degrading, but he was told it was none of his business.
When he did report the action to the environmental authorities in the city and in the province, he lost his job. This act would prevent not only dismissal in such cases, but any kind of disciplinary action, threat or intimidation of the employee. This is a very necessary section.
It is time the Liberal members took the stand which was endorsed by 89 per cent of all candidates in the last provincial election. It is time the government moved beyond lipservice to protect our environment by putting in the kind of legislation which will make the government and government agencies accountable for actions and regulations which fail to protect our environment.
It will not hamper sustainable development, but will enable the public to be an active partner in ensuring that all environmental issues and development of a healthy environment are considered in all development plans. This is the most important part of the bill, I think, to make sure that environmental considerations have equal place with all other considerations in development plans.
I would urge all members of the House to support Bill 12 and I hope that once it has passed second reading, the government will quickly bring it forward for third reading, so that we will not wait any longer for this very important kind of legislation.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in this debate on a private member’s bill concerning environmental rights in Ontario.
As members are no doubt aware, Bill 12, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario, permits an action to be brought in the Supreme Court of Ontario by any person for the protection of the environment. The bill also provides for public notice and review of certain approvals, permits or other environment-related orders before the approvals, permits or orders come into force, and for regular review by the Environmental Assessment Board of all regulations affecting the environment.
In addition, the bill prohibits an employer from dismissing an employee who reports to any person an act that contaminates or degrades the environment. This bill also amends the Environmental Protection Act to expand the scope of the protection provided to employees who refuse to pollute, by adding several statutes to the list set out in subsection 134b(2) of that act.
As I said earlier, this new environmental bill of rights permits an action to be brought before the Supreme Court of Ontario by any person for the protection of the environment in the civil court, rather than the criminal court, thereby lowering the required standard of proof from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “on the balance of probabilities” and making the establishment of the case much easier. Under this bill, defendant polluters will no longer be afforded a defence of failure to establish a causal link when it is clear that they, as a segment of multiple polluters, are discharging similar contaminants.
Where no standards exist for the control of the discharge of a particular contaminant -- an example is the discharge of vinyl chloride -- the act is intended to provide an independent cause of action to an individual and the courts may set interim standards for unregulated contaminants.
The bill also provides for public notice and review of certain approvals, permits or other environment-related orders before the approvals, permits or orders come into force, and for regular review by the Environmental Assessment Board of all regulations affecting the environment. In addition, the bill prohibits an employer from dismissing an employee for reporting to any person an act that contaminates or degrades our environment.
Under section 2, the bill’s purpose is now clearly stated; “…to ensure the health and sustainability of the environment of Ontario” and to “…recognize the right of the people of Ontario to an environment that is adequate for their health and wellbeing and sustainable into the future.” This is a result of the influence of the 1987 Brundtland report and does not alter the impact of this bill.
This bill also amends the Environmental Protection Act to expand the scope of the protection provided to employees who refuse to pollute, by adding several statutes to the list set out in subsection 134b(2) of that act This subsection states that no employer shall dismiss, discipline, penalize or intimidate an employee because that employee has complied with the Environmental Protection Act and Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act of Canada, the Ontario Water Resources Act or the Pesticides Act.
Bill 12 adds the Conservation Authorities Act, the Consolidated Hearings Act, 1981, the Drainage Act, the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, the Mining Act, the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act, 1981, the Pits and Quarries Control Act and the Planning Act, 1983.
I would like to state categorically that I support Bill 12, An Act respecting Environmental Rights Ontario, because we must ensure that the government can act in the public interest in preserving the ecological and environmentally special areas.
I am pleased to see that the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore has shown a clear interest in the protection and preservation of our precious environment, which she has shown for a long time, by introducing Bill 12, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario, because the government, through the Minister of the Environment, has clearly not shared the same concerns in the past. What we get from the Minister of the Environment are half-baked schemes such as the Cleantario lottery fund and recycled promises that are rarely acted on.
I must admit that Bingo Bradley does an excellent job of talking about the subject whenever he is questioned about what he proposes to do to protect and preserve our fragile environment for future generations in this province, but what he says and what he actually does only amount to a hill of garbage.
The throne speech also makes reference to the government establishing a comprehensive waste reduction strategy aimed at reducing solid waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000. This reference was only a reannouncement of a recent recycling strategy which includes mandatory recycling. Nothing has happened since, and it should be noted that mandatory recycling was something the same government voted against, when my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) proposed it in her private member’s bill last fall.
Bill 12 is a breath of fresh air from my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, because the government has failed miserably in the environmental area. The government’s efforts to solve the garbage disposal crisis facing the greater Toronto area have resulted in pitting one neighbouring region against another and a threat to short circuit the process for environmental assessment.
In conclusion, I would like to repeat that I will be supporting second reading of Bill 12, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario, because I believe it is important that we provide employees with some form of protection if they are to report an act that contaminates or degrades the precious environment of Ontario. If the government expects people to do its job, then we must give them protection.
As well, I sincerely believe this bill will go a long way towards ensuring the health and sustainability of Ontario’s environment, and it will recognize the right of the people in this province to an environment that is adequate for their health and wellbeing and is sustainable into the future.
Ms Hart: I am pleased to participate in this debate, as I am a strong supporter of the concept of an environmental bill of rights. Control of pollution and a greater role for the public in protecting the environment are top priorities for me.
In fact, Bill 12, which we have before us today, is a reworked version of Bill 13, which I supported at first and second readings. Liberals have promoted environmental rights legislation ever since Stuart Smith introduced the first version of this bill in 1979, and we still support it.
Because the government has been moving forward quickly to enact tough environmental legislation, this bill had to be revised to reflect these changes. For example, Bill 12, as tabled by the honourable member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, is advertised as giving citizens the right to go to court to protect the environment where damage is being done. I must point out that in December 1986, Bill 112 was enacted to broaden and increase the penalty provisions of the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Pesticides Act, and applies in private prosecutions as well as ministry prosecutions. Bill 112 also eliminated crown immunity under the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Bill 12 is also described as protecting workers from reprisals if they release information about pollution or if they refuse to do work that they believe violates environmental laws. In fact, since 1983, under the Environmental Protection Act, workers have had the right to report any environmental concerns over their employers to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, According to this whistle-blowing provision, section 134b, it is an offence to prevent employees from complying with any of the environmental acts or to prevent employees from co-operating with the enforcement of the acts.
Ontario employees are using this right and are turning over records of illegal activities to the government. Companies are being sued for improper dismissal when they fire whistle-blowing employees. Companies and individuals in the province have taken notice of the active enforcement of environmental laws and are reacting accordingly. The Ministry of the Environment receives a great many inquiries from companies that are voluntarily coming forward to ensure that their activities meet the requirements of the law. Many companies are doing environmental audits to ensure compliance with Ontario’s laws. This is new; it has not happened in the past. This new corporate attitude tells us that vigorous enforcement is getting out the right message.
Mrs Grier: Let me start by thanking the members who have participated in this debate today and by saying how much I appreciate the support on all sides for the principles of the bill that is before us.
I hope that acknowledgement will not be diminished if I say that I rather regret the fact that the member for Brampton North (Mr McClelland), the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment, used his time in the usual rather self-congratulatory litany of progress that has been made. I acknowledge that in my comments; I know that progress has been made. This act reflects that by having eliminated some of those areas that have already been dealt with. But it does not eliminate the need for legislation of this kind and I would have liked to have seen some debate on the various things that are left in the bill, rather than acknowledgement of those that have been removed.
The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy was very clear in its press release last week, saying that a number of barriers still exist which prevent citizens from halting polluting activities which impair the quality of the environment, such as the ability to ask the court to prevent pollution damage.
In other instances the public remains excluded from many important environmental decisions such as the granting of pollution permits. The provisions that give citizens the power to go to court without having to prove their standing are contained in this act and are still required.
The parliamentary assistant to the minister talked at length about the improved public consultation process that we have and I acknowledge that. But there are many ways in which that public consultation process is avoided. Let me speak of an instance with which I am very familiar and which is dear to my heart in my own riding. I had asked the minister for environmental assessment of a major project to be constructed on the waterfront, which involves lake-filling and a lot of changes in the shoreline in an area that is already seriously contaminated. The minister refused an environmental assessment but said that the city of Etobicoke should prepare an environmental management master plan, the terms of reference of which would have to be approved by the Minister of the Environment.
Those terms of reference make no mention of public consultation. If we had had it designated under the Environmental Assessment Act, yes, I agree, there would have been lots of opportunities for public consultation. But for the minister to get around that act and to put in place a process to define public amenities on the waterfront and to exclude from that consideration any public consultation or public process, I think shows how weak are some of the safeguards that do exist in the legislation that we have.
I am going to ask that this private member’s bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development, because I acknowledge, as did the members of the government who have spoken, that there are areas where it could be changed, improved and strengthened. I think that is the reason for sending it to a committee, so that people who agree with the principle but have these problems with the details, and people who disagree with the principles, can come and make their concerns heard. We can, as I said before, emerge from that process with a strengthened bill, with an improved bill, and with a bill which really gives the citizens of this province the rights they demand.
The Speaker: It appears that this completes the comments on the two items before the House this morning.
GREAT LAKES FISHERY
The House divided on Mr J. M. Johnson’s resolution 13, which was negatived on the following vote:
Adams, Allen, Brandt, Bryden, Callahan, Charlton, Cooke, D. R., Cousens, Dietsch, Ferraro, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Keyes, Lupusella, Mahoney, Marland, Martel, McClelland, McLean, Philip, Runciman, Sterling, Villeneuve, Wilson.
Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins, Cooke, D. S., Elliot, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fleet, Grier, Hart, Henderson, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Mancini, Matrundola, McGuigan, Miller, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, O’Neill, Y., Pelissero, Pouliot, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Ruprecht, Sola, Sullivan, Wildman.
Ayes 26; nays 34.
The Speaker: We will now deal with ballot item 12.
ONTARIO ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACT, 1989
The House divided on Mrs Grier’s motion for second reading of Bill 12, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Adams, Allen, Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Bradley, Brandt, Breaugh, Bryden, Callahan, Carrothers, Charlton, Chiarelli, Collins, Cooke, D.R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Cousens, Dietsch, Elliot, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Grier, Harris, Hart, Henderson, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Keyes, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, Mahoney, Mancini, Marland, Martel, Matrundola, McClelland, McGuigan, McLean, Miller, Morin-Strom, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Pelissero, Philip, Polsinelli, Pouliot, Rae. B., Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Ruprecht, Sola, South, Sterling, Sullivan, Villeneuve, Wildman, Wilson.
Ayes 66; nays 0.
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried, and have some concern about the Speaker’s hearing.
Mrs Grier: Could I ask that the bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development?
Mr R. F. Johnston: What? Shutting out the public? My, you guys are getting arrogant.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough West has not been asked for any comment at the moment.
I will remind members that standing order 71 states that a private member’s public bill shall be sent to committee of the whole House, unless a majority of the House decides otherwise.
Mr Wildman: It was 66 to 0.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: His hearing seems okay. It’s his voice that doesn’t work, in my opinion.
The Speaker: Mine, either.
It has been requested that it go to a standing committee. Therefore, I will have to ask all members in favour of its going to the standing committee to please rise until the heads are counted.
All those opposed to its going to a standing committee will please rise.
Ayes 22, nays 44.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
The House recessed at 1221.
The House resumed at 1330
ANNUAL REPORT,COMMISSION ON ELECTION FINANCES
The Speaker: I wish to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the 14th annual report of the Commission on Election Finances. The members will find copies of these reports in their desks.
ANNUAL REPORT, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
The Speaker: I also wish to inform the House that I have laid upon the table the 16th annual report of the Ombudsman of Ontario. These reports will be found in members mailboxes.
Mr Allen: Visiting homemakers are fed up with endless delays and the meaningless promises of this government in dealing with their scandalously low wages. The inability of the government to come to grips with this issue is indeed staggering. When pushed against the wall last January, the government capitulated and announced it would cover the deficits of the visiting homemakers agencies.
The auditors appointed submitted their report four months ago and not a penny has been sent to the agencies to meet these deficits The latest promise was made on 23 May by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney), when he announced additional funding for visiting homemakers and other community-based agencies. Not a peep has been heard from the ministry in the intervening five weeks. There has not been a single consultation with homemaking agencies about how the $25 million earmarked for their programs is to be distributed or how the rates will be restructured.
The ministry continues to excuse its paralysis by saying it is studying more reports. The government has been studying this issue since 1986. After three years, it is no closer to providing a realistic and stable funding base for the agencies, which are, in the Premiers words, “the cornerstone of the government’s community services strategy.”
If the government put the money it spends on studies and consultants into the pockets of visiting homemakers, these would be a good deal better off. It has taken more than three years to bring even the promise of a $3.33-per-hour increase. Who knows how long it is going to take to reach homemakers? When is this government going to cut back on rhetoric and speed up on delivery?
Mr Jackson: On 26 April, the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) announced that within three years students would no longer be streamed in grade 9. In the interim, 10 destreaming pilot projects would be launched at a cost of $100,000 each to assist in the development of an appropriate curriculum and on an implementation strategy.
Two months have now passed and we have heard nothing from the ministry. No one knows the structure or location of these pilot projects, which will have to be constituted and evaluated in the space of one year. The only concrete example of a destreaming model has been proposed by the Toronto Board of Education on its own initiative. Their Castle Frank proposal outlines the need for additional staff and resources to train teachers and develop curriculum materials. Implementing destreaming is yet another example of a Liberal government-mandated program being foisted on to already financially burdened school boards.
Progressive Conservatives strongly argue for the protection and support of vocational schools and their current programs. When the select committee on education recommended destreaming of grade 9 students, it outlined a number of vital preconditions. Streaming decisions would have to be made at the local level. Parents, teachers, trustees and administrators all would have to be consulted. However, the ministry has failed to heed this advice.
Today, I will table over 7,000 signatures on a petition from friends and families of Western Secondary School in Essex county. They are convinced this government is proceeding without consultation on a political agenda, not an educational agenda, for Ontario’s vocational schools.
Mr Pelissero: I rise today to register my objection to the editorial cartoon in this morning’s Toronto Sun, Donato’s depiction of two Chinese leaders opening their mail and remarking, “Hundreds of letters from world leaders condemning us for our treatment of the dissidents…there is however one of praise from a Premier David Peterson.” I find this not only offensive and in extremely poor taste, but a blatant example of a medium gone too far.
This editorial crosses way over the line that separates satirical but responsible editorial commentary from that which attempts to make light of a tragic situation such as the one in China. To even imply that there is a single person in this province or in this country, particularly the Premier, who could condone the suppressive actions taken against dissidents seeking democracy is a travesty that could not and should not be considered responsible journalism.
The sentiments expressed by the Sun’s editorial cartoon do a tremendous disservice to the memory of the students who were massacred in their quest for reform and democracy. We are fortunate in this country that we have media that are free to report information, provide valuable insights, and from time to time, help us to find satire and humour in events affecting our daily lives, but the editorial cartoon to which I am referring today represents a gross abuse of that freedom by exploiting an extremely serious and very tragic situation.
I am sure all members of this House share my deep concern and wish to send a message that this type of journalism is offensive and unacceptable.
Miss Martel: The history of the development of the cancer treatment centre in Sudbury has often been fraught with difficulties, frustrations and delays. Most recently, the issue boiled up again with the controversy surrounding Dr. Ho and the obstinacy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to give him a temporary licence to practise in Sudbury. However last Friday, the centre and the community got a big boost with a major fund-raiser organized by the United Steelworkers, Local 6500.
Beginning at 5:30 am, executive members of the local and stewards of the various plants gathered at all the gates to collect donations from members for the cancer centre. They returned to the gates for the second shift and repeated efforts to collect funds from individual members to demonstrate support for the centre. That evening, a casino night was held at the Steel hall, and the proceeds raised were also donated to the same cause.
As of today, some $97,000 has been collected. This includes donations at the gates, a matching contribution by Inco, $2,000 collected by the Canadian Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers at its gates, a large contribution from moneys previously negotiated between Mine, Mill and Falconbridge, and proceeds from the casino night. The response was overwhelming and the event a tremendous success.
Many thanks must go to Thorne Ernst and Whinney for tallying the results, to Labatt’s for its generous donation, to the people at Laurentian Hospital for all their work at the casino, and a special thanks to all who gave so willingly to the cancer treatment centre.
COMMERCIAL CONCENTRATION LEVY
Mr Jackson: There seems to be some confusion over this government’s handling of the 17 May budget’s commercial concentration levy, or its parking lot tax. I dare say this confusion is a direct result of the Liberal government’s ability to tax, and not of its ability to govern. In my city, Burlington, staff now have no clue whether this applies to the city itself or not. If indeed it does, it could cost Burlington at least an additional $250,000.
This regressive tax is aimed at parking lots within the new greater Toronto area, an ill-defined and arbitrary boundary of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) that has neither precedent nor justification. The Liberal government has said Burlington should be included for planning purposes, but now we know that means it is to be included so the province can double-tax us.
When the Treasurer’s budget was released, no one at all knew whether it applied to city-owned parking lots or not. A week after the budget, Burlington city officials were told it did not apply since the city’s parking lots are to be considered a utility, and thus exempt. However, this week it once again seems that the city of Burlington’s lots may not be exempt and a ruling is still pending.
When one takes into account this tax’s devastating effect on businesses, especially a large mall’s parking lots, it is plain for all to see that this government has declared war on business as well as property taxpayers. This government has deliberately avoided clearly defining this newest tax measure. It is a tactic designed to confuse and silence public criticism of the Treasurer’s bill, and hence, the tax itself.
Mr Dietsch: On 1 July, communities across this country will celebrate Canada Day. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Paul Heron and his committee has published a special edition called the Canada Day Gazette which outlines the celebrations being organized by the Canada Day committee and the Friends of Fort George. Jim Alexander and Katherine Heron, co-chairmen, along with their committee have planned a number of events in Simcoe Park that include Dixieland music, a barbershop quartet, face painting, a student drama production, a magic show and a fruit pie contest and sale, as well as a listening tent where stories selected by the town’s chief librarian, Gerda Molson, will be read.
The listening tent is an important focal point of our celebrations as part of Frontier College’s “Read Canada” campaign. I will have the distinct pleasure of reading a number of Canadian stories to children aged four to eight. It is important to note that the Ministry of Skills Development has supported and encouraged this project as well as initiated its own projects to meet today’s literacy challenges.
Furthermore, local politicians will assist us at the celebrity pop stand with all the profits going to the celebration. The day will conclude at Fort George at 8 pm with everyone’s favourite, the fireworks display. In Niagara-on the-Lake, proud citizens have banded together to celebrate Canada Day in their own unique way, and I believe these people should be commended for it is they who make this country great.
ACCESS TO CHILDREN IN CUSTODY
Mr Hampton: Earlier today, a large group of individuals held a press conference here at Queen’s Park. They wanted to comment upon one piece of the government’s legislative agenda, Bill 124, the legislation that is supposed to guarantee access and deal with custody and access disputes.
They had a number of things to say about the legislation. They said, first of all, that there are no figures and no studies indicating the need for the legislation. Second, they said that the legislation ignores the best interests of children. Third, it is bound to lead to greater conflict, not lessen the conflict between parents about their children. It distorts the legal process.
NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES
Hon Mrs Caplan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise to correct the record for Hansard. I have had an opportunity to review my answer to the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton) yesterday on the question of northern health services.
I would like to clarify that on the northern health manpower committee, which is a significant initiative of my ministry and this government, we made a commitment to consult widely with a number of organizations. I signed letters to those organizations asking them to submit recommendations. The organizations included district health councils and others in the north.
We have very recently received their recommendations. I hope to announce the names of committee members within the next few weeks when I am in northern Ontario and I will be communicating with the prospective members to confirm --
The Speaker: Thank you. That sounds like a point of personal explanation and it should not go into the debate at all.
Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think what the minister is really doing is changing her answer from yesterday to a question that I posed in the House. If the minister is allowed to do that, I should be allowed a supplementary.
The Speaker: I certainly cannot allow you a supplementary now because we are not in question period. However, I am sure the member could ask a question.
The Speaker: Order. I do not know whether we should be debating this at this time. I think I would just say that all ministers should in the future consider very carefully whether it should be a request to the Speaker to have an opportunity to respond further, but that can only happen if the member takes the question to answer at a later time.
Hon Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent of the House to make a statement regarding Canada Day.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
CANADA DAY / FETE DU CANADA
Hon Mr Phillips: It is with great honour that I rise on behalf of the government to acknowledge a day of importance to all Canadians. I refer of course to Canada Day. This 1 July we will celebrate the 122nd anniversary of the nationhood of Canada.
One of the things we very much celebrate is the rich diversity of our nation. We have welcomed people from all over the world to realize their dreams here, many of them, frankly, to escape the nightmare of history in their home countries. Canada is a multicultural and a multiracial nation. This alone is reason for us to celebrate.
Many Canadians have celebrated this reality, often by putting their thoughts into words. In fact, as I looked over the thoughts of various Canadians, I was struck by a thought of a previous Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker. He said some words that I thought were rather appropriate. He said, “I liken Canada to a garden...a garden into which have been transplanted the hardiest and the brightest flowers from many lands, each retaining in its new environment the best qualities for which it was loved and prized in its native land.” I might add that this garden, in my opinion, is now in full bloom.
While this is an anniversary and a time to celebrate, it is also a time for reflection on what it means to all of us to be Canadian. Being a Canadian I hope means to have a sense of security and a sense of optimism. It means knowing our children will have a future that will allow them to achieve their dreams through hard work and commitment.
Being Canadian also means, importantly, having choices we must never forget. It means being able to choose how we choose to worship, how we want to raise our children and how we want to be governed. Many of us take these freedoms for granted and take the rights we enjoy for granted, but there is no room for complacency in these areas. Vigilance, compassion, tolerance and generosity must be our watchwords. These are values I am sure all Ontarians share and desire. It is that spirit we celebrate as Canadians and Ontarians this and every Canada Day.
I might say that when this holiday is over, we must carry that spirit with us throughout the year. We still have much work to do in building this country and this province. We must not rest by looking back or being satisfied with what we have done. We must, as we approach this Canada Day, look forward to much more to do.
Mr B. Rae: I am delighted to say a few words on the subject of our national day. We look forward very much to its celebration this weekend, as people from many walks of life do, on Saturday and of course on their day of rest for most people on Sunday when they will have a chance to be with their families, as well as on Monday when we will all be celebrating this day.
I think the remarks of the minister are entirely accurate and to be commended. We are a multicultural, multiracial society. I do not know if the minister was listening, but there was quite a wonderful commentary on the radio this morning by a teacher who was contrasting the Winnipeg of her childhood with the Winnipeg of today and talking about the dramatic contrasts in our schools. As I was going by my own children’s school, I was reflecting on the extent to which all our schools in much of Ontario have become like little United Nations in which we really are beginning to experience the vibrancy, as well of course as some of the problems, of being a multicultural, multiracial society.
I am sure all of us will take the message of the minister back to our constituencies or perhaps, dare I say, to our cottages as we have some time this weekend to be with our families and reflect on the importance of this day. We of course share in the minister’s sentiments.
Nous célébrons tous aujourd’hui notre fête nationale, la fête du Canada. C’est là l’occasion de célébrer non seulement la diversité de notre pays mais, en même temps, tout ce que nous avons en commun. Nous vivons dans une société multiraciale et multiculturelle, où nous retrouvons nos deux langues officielles et où nous accueillons des millions de gens qui viennent de partout dans le monde pour partager notre merveilleux mode de vie.
Alors, c’est avec plaisir que nous célébrons cette journée.
Mr Brandt: I am very pleased to have this opportunity to associate myself with the remarks of the minister in connection with Canada Day and the strength and diversification of our province in great part being built upon those from many countries of the world and from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds who will celebrate with us and who have come to this province and this country to be part of the building process that we have encouraged and which hopefully we, as parliamentarians, will continue to encourage in the days ahead.
On this, Canada’s birthday, I think we have much to celebrate. When we look at the tremendous problems that so many parts of the world are engaged in, the tremendous difficulties that other nations and peoples face, I think we have a great deal to celebrate here.
I have said so often to friends and observers who have watched us during the parliamentary debates and during the course of question period in particular, when there are some negative remarks made about the kind of performance we engage in sometimes during the course of those particular activities, that perhaps one may not always agree with the way in which we proceed politically as members of parliament, but it is a lot better to do it the Canadian way, with words, than with bullets, as is the case in China at the moment and in some other countries where they resolve their political differences somewhat more harshly.
I really think that as we join together, all parties, and find this common ground on at least this issue that we can agree with, that this great province of ours is very much beholden to those Canadians who have come here from those various and different countries to be part of this great experiment of building a stronger Ontario and Canada, without reservation, I join with the minister in his efforts and the comments of the government in hoping that we can continue to build that kind of better Ontario in the years ahead. Congratulations.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Scott: I wish to inform the House of the latest initiative in the ministry’s program to improve access to civil justice for the people of Ontario.
As members will recall, last year the Ministry of the Attorney General hosted a conference on access to civil justice in which members of the public, together with lawyers and judges, reviewed the key issues affecting them as participants in the justice system. One of the strongest recommendations coming from that conference was that a class action remedy be created in Ontario.
For the benefit of members not familiar with the concept, class actions permit numerous individuals who have suffered a common wrong to seek redress in one lawsuit as a group, rather than in numerous lawsuits as individuals. Well-designed class action remedies can provide access to justice for individuals while economizing the use of limited court resources.
Examples of situations which lend themselves to a class action include the Mississauga train derailment, the Dalkon Shield case, mass environmental disasters and hazards, defective products and consumer losses arising from failure of, for example, health clubs.
In my view, it would be inappropriate to prepare legislation affecting so many people without the advice of business, environmentalists, lawyers and consumers. For that reason, I have established a formal consultation process involving representatives of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, the Retail Council of Canada, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Consumers’ Association of Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Energy Probe, the Advocates’ Society, the Canadian Bar Association and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
To ensure that these consultations proceed in a timely and effective fashion, the government and all these groups have agreed to use a set of principles as a starting point. These principles will ensure that class actions are effective, treat plaintiffs and defendants in a fair and equitable manner and impose no unnecessary burdens on the courts. The principles the groups have acceded to, as a starting point, are as follows:
The class action remedy will include a structured certification procedure, in which a judge will screen potential class actions according to specific tests;
All class members who do not specifically opt out of the action will be included in it;
There will be a presumption that notice will be given to class members following certification, unless otherwise ordered by the court;
Class actions will be facilitated by a court-controlled contingency fee arrangement;
The Attorney General will play no special role in class actions, but will have the right to seek leave to intervene, as in any other civil matter;
If judgement is awarded against a defendant, but class members fail to come forward to obtain the damages to which they are entitled, the undistributed amount will be returned to the defendant following the expiry of the relevant limitation period, except with respect to environmental cases, which will be given further consideration by the advisory committee, made up as set out earlier.
The class action remedy we propose will be generic and will apply to all kinds of litigation. I expect that the consultation will begin this month. It will produce a detailed set of drafting instructions on the basis of which legislation will be prepared for consideration by cabinet and the House.
The government has made a firm commitment to make class actions, a remedy long sought by numerous groups, an integral part of the law of Ontario. Having established the man principles which will ensure an effective and balanced remedy, we are confident that our partners in this consultation process will assist us in the production of a class action remedy which will be a model for the 1990s and for the next century.
I hope that what I propose to say is not in breach of the rules. In the gallery today are Douglas Ewart, the director of policy for the Ministry of the Attorney General, and one of his associate counsels, Michael Cochrane, who is in charge of the class action project just announced.
These two relatively young men are typical of the thousands of public service staff who work for the Ministry of the Attorney General and have made it over the last few years, I believe, the most progressive and liberal justice ministry in Canada and probably one of the most progressive in the history of our country.
From freedom of information and family law reform to court structural reform, judicial appointment review and class action, their record is extraordinary. This Attorney General is very proud to serve with them in a great work and I ask the House to acknowledge their presence today.
Hon Mr Riddell: As members of the House will recall, parts of Ontario were experiencing a drought at this time last year. This year however, the excessive rainfall has delayed the planting time and, in some areas, is lowering expectations for the 1989 crops.
Among the areas of the province most severely affected by the adverse weather are Niagara, Haldimand, Essex and Kent. In some of these areas farmers are just finishing their planting. It is for such reasons that a federal-provincial crop insurance program exists to assist farmers.
This year, I am pleased to note, an unprecedented number of farmers have enrolled in the Canada-Ontario crop insurance program. Nearly 55,000 insurance contracts were purchased, an increase of 48 per cent over the last year.
Excessive rainfall is among the natural hazards that crop insurance covers. Crop insurance provides compensation to farmers, when adverse weather prevents them from planting or seeding, through an unseeded acreage benefit.
This benefit will return farmers a payment of between $50 and $100 per acre, depending on their own yield and the price option system they have chosen.
In the light of this delayed planting schedule and of potential for lost crop yields, the Crop Insurance Commission of Ontario met yesterday and decided to extend the final planting date for crops such as corn and soybeans from 1 July 1989 to 5 July 1989.
According to the Commission, this extension will allow sufficient time to seed, providing the weather is favourable.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food adverse weather committee is monitoring the conditions in affected areas, and our field staff are advising farmers on late planting.
Mr Hampton: In responding to the statement by the Attorney General (Mr Scott), I want to say, first of all, that we are very much in favour of this initiative, but I also want to say that we have some concerns that it has taken this government this long to bring this forward when it knew four years ago that there were a number of groups -- consumer groups, environmental groups and other organizations -- which had advocated long and hard for this legislation. In fact, one of the glaring absences in the government’s court reform agenda introduced two months ago was the absence of class action provisions. So we are pleased that the government has come forward belatedly with this proposal.
I have another concern. We know from the history of what goes on around here that legislative initiative is often introduced -- for example, Bill 208 -- and then through the consultation process we receive word back that it is gradually being watered down. I want to assure the Attorney General that we will be watching very closely and very carefully to ensure that what comes of this is legislation which produces effective class action capability for consumer groups, for environmental groups, and for all of those folks who in the past have had definite problems in accessing the justice system in these kinds of disputes.
So I want to congratulate the Attorney General for belatedly bringing it forward. I want him to know that we will be watching very closely to ensure that it is indeed effective class action legislation.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It is symptomatic of the problems of this government and the methodology used in negotiations over the last number of months that on the last day of school today the Minister of Education (Mr Ward), without any statement in this House, would bring in amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act for the teachers of this province and then try to foist summer hearings on us. I thought I would make the statement --
The Speaker: Order. I am sure that members are aware that response time is the time to respond to the statements that have been made.
Mr Sterling: I am interested to see the Attorney General’s announcements with regard to class actions. I only hope that while listing all of these interested groups he will, for once perhaps, listen to all of the groups before determining what nature this law shall take. I believe that consultation is necessary with regard to this issue because there are many aspects to it that can come to the fore and there is much experience to learn from with regard to what kind of effect it can have on not only the consumer of our society but also on the business people in our province.
It is unfortunate that this Attorney General and this government would not listen within its own government with regard to the concerns that business has with this kind of law, and it is unfortunate, as I am told, that this is one of the very laws which the former Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology objected to or wanted to moderate. I am told that the former Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology might well have been asked to be dismissed on the basis of his opposition to some of the Attorney General’s thrusts in this area and in other areas of the law.
It is unfortunate that this government has not had a champion for business. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) seems to be more interested in travelling to other parts of the world than in representing business with regard to policy that can affect business. Our party wants to have a reasonable law with regard to this whole area reasonable for both sides, for consumers and for business.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Sterling: We only hope that this Attorney General will listen to both sides of the debate before drawing his conclusions. We have not seen that exhibited in the past; we certainly hope we will see it with regard to this very important issue.
Mr Villeneuve: I also want to reply to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell). It is about time that the minister noticed there was a drought last year and this year we have exactly the reverse. It is great to realize that the minister has followed the lead of the federal government and has added some flexibility to the crop insurance program, which needs to be revised.
However, part of the minister’s job would be to make sure that the Ontario farmers get their share of federal funding. In that light, our livestock producers have been recognized as requiring some assistance.
However, the horticultural industry has been left out in the cold. The minister has not made appointments to the Ontario Producer Committee on the Canadian drought assistance program. We need to have people on there. The horticultural industry, and particularly the apple industry, in Ontario was hit very hard a number of years ago when trees were lost, and when your trees are not producing, the five-year average is not a very good average.
Therefore, I urge the minister to appoint some Ontario people to the producer committee. The Canadian drought assistance program is in place. Many millions of dollars from the federal level are available. The minister must make sure that we get our share.
I do not need to remind the minister that $37 million budgeted and earmarked for agriculture last year went unspent. I tell the minister that our farmers do need some assistance. He should do his job and make those appointments to make sure that we are looked after from federal funds, because according to the statement he made yesterday, he will not be providing any funds from Ontario. The minister should do his job.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
The Speaker: I said, that completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
Mr B. Rae: A visitor to the corner of Neilson Road and Sewells Road discovers that there is a church, the Malvern Presbyterian Church; there is the Malvern Family Resource Centre; there is the Rouge Valley Co-operative Homes; there is the Tapscott Village Co-Op; the Carriage House; Tapscott apartments; and Malvern Town Centre, a very large mall.
My question to the Minister of Housing is simply this: Her predecessor turned down a 250-unit apartment building for homeless people because he alleged that there were no services in the area. There are in fact services in the area. I wonder if the minister can tell us: Why did she approve a project on the very site on which her predecessor refused to build property?
Hon Ms Hošek: I believe we approved that site about two or three years later and I am under the impression that a great deal more in the way of services in the area was built in the intervening time.
Mr Reville: That’s not how it works.
Mr B. Rae: That is not how building works, and the minister knows that.
The Malvern Town Centre was under way and due to open well before the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Co Ltd building would have been open, and the minister knows that. The bus route would have been in place at precisely the time that the building would have been open if it had been started two years ago.
Those are facts which are in place. The minister herself must have recognized the mistake, because she approved the building on that site. I ask her again: When all that development was either under way, actually being started and constructed or planned, why was it that her predecessor turned down that particular project?
Hon Ms Hošek: I am advised by my staff that the previous Minister of Housing decided that this allocation at that time was premature because there was no shopping, no postal service and inadequate transportation at the time.
Mr B. Rae: Why would the minister accept that on face value when any preliminary factual assessment by her or her staff would have clearly established that what the minister said were the reasons could not have been the case, because everything, in fact, was in place, in the works, ready to go at that corner, at that site?
Hon Ms Hošek: The member opposite maybe would like to be -- I must not talk with him as though I were a teacher, though I have been given an apple today, so let me try again.
It is clear here the decision about allocations is left to the minister. The staff recommends, the minister decides. That is the norm, that is what the job of the minister is. What happened in this case is that the minister decided not to give this project an allocation because he felt that there was not enough shopping or postal service or transportation at the site. Those were his reasons; that is the decision he made.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Deputy Premier. We now learn that the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling), while he served as Minister of Housing, had a fund-raiser which was run for him by Patti Starr, with the assistance and using the equipment and offices of the Tridel Corp. Does the Deputy Premier think that is acceptable behaviour and within the norm of the type of fund-raising that is permissible in this province?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not expect the leader of the third party to have in his possession all the facts of a matter like that and I do not consider acceptable to all members here the fact that he states it in the House as factual. I think that is one of the reasons why the government has decided that a royal commission, a public inquiry, should be held in this connection. The facts in matters like that are going to be brought before the commissioner and presumably he or she will indicate his/her view of it at the appropriate time.
Mr Brandt: Is it the position of the Deputy Premier, as well as that of his government, that all of these questions with respect to the behaviour, allegations, if you will -- of which has been denied, to the best of my knowledge, in any of the media responses particularly relating to the former Minister of Housing and this particular matter -- is it his position that all of these things are going to have to wait until the finalization of a public inquiry, recognizing full well that with the latest information we have in connection with when that is going to start, that it could well be months, maybe even years away before any of the results of that inquiry are available for the public?
Is it his position that none of these things should be discussed with the cabinet ministers involved in regard to the methodology used for appropriate fund-raising in this province?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have heard the specifics of the honourable member’s allegation denied. I do not know whether that makes him feel any better or not. I doubt if it would change his view of the matter. That is why an independent person, in this instance a judge, is going to look at the allegations, determine the facts and report. I cannot say whether the honourable member is correct that it may be years away. I hope and trust not.
Mr Brandt: Is the Deputy Premier saying that the present Minister of Skills Development, the former Minister of Housing, in fact denied that Patti Starr was engaged in a fund-raiser, that in fact the offices of Tridel were used for that fund-raiser and that staff and equipment of the Tridel Corp were involved in that fund-raising? Is he saying that is incorrect, and if he is and it is being denied, would he please state for the record and for the purposes of our information, who is denying it?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have heard the allegations that the honourable member has put before the House denied by one of the principals, the minister himself.
HIRING OF HOUSING CONSULTANT
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Today the standing committee on public accounts agreed to investigate the awarding of a $250,000 consulting contract by the minister to her campaign worker Dino Chiesa. As the minister will recall, she received a substantial financial contribution from this associate of Patti Starr during the last election prior to the awarding of this very lucrative untendered contract.
Could the minister tell us whether Mr Chiesa will remain on her payroll and continue to develop private sector housing policy during the course of this investigation by the standing committee on public accounts.
Hon Ms Hošek: I am very pleased the standing committee on public accounts and the Provincial Auditor are going to investigate this matter. I am delighted they are going to do that. When they do that, the member will have all the facts and decisions will be made after that. I am very confident about the results.
Mr Harris: The minister has spoken about the importance of this sensitive new position vis-à-vis private and public sector housing policy development. Mr Chiesa will no doubt be privy to all kinds of confidential information relating to planned ministry activities and expenditures. Presumably, he will be returning to the private sector with that insider information after the two-year contract is up. To the best of my reading of the contract, it does not preclude that.
Mr Harris: We will be electing a Speaker in the next Parliament. If the member wishes to be Speaker, we would be glad to consider it, if he puts his name forward.
The Speaker: Do you have a supplementary?
Mr Harris: I would like to know if the minister perceives that as being a conflict.
Hon Ms Hošek: I have not countered all the allegations the member has made; he makes them piecemeal and repeats them. There seems to be no point in doing so because when I do, he simply repeats them again.
Let me read for him the words of the contract that was signed between the ministry and the gentleman who was hired to do the work we need to do to make sure that housing gets built on government land as it should. Let me read them into the record and for the benefit of the member.
This is from the contract: “The consultant warrants that he will not be involved either directly or indirectly in any arrangement which will or may cause him to be in an actual on perceived conflict of interest.” Another quote: “The consultant warrants that he will identify and disclose to the deputy minister any possible conflict of interest, even though its significance may be thought to be marginal.” One more quote for the member: “The consultant shall keep secret and not disclose to any other person or entity any unpublished information which he has acquired.” That should be useful for him in the last question that he asks.
I am trying to share information with the member because I am under the illusion -- probably a misapprehended illusion -- that he actually wants the answer to his question. That is what is in the report.
Mr Harris: The minister has said repeatedly that the Chiesa hiring fell exclusively within the jurisdiction of her deputy minister who we know was appointed by the Premier (Mr Peterson). The special adviser to the deputy minister is a gentleman by the name of Sean Goetz-Gadon. Mr Goetz-Gadon was a political aide to the former minister at the time Patti Starr is alleged to have raised $50,000 for the then minister. He has also been named as the political aide with whom Mrs Starr was involved during the Ronto Development affair.
My question is very simple: what advice did this Liberal aide, now a civil servant, give to the deputy minister on the Chiesa affair?
Hon Ms Hošek: The deputy minister of my department is a long-serving, very able and very honourable civil servant. Frankly, I find it astonishing -- absolutely astonishing -- that the member opposite would impugn that honour.
Mr Harris: Nothing is astonishing any more.
Hon Ms Hošek: I do not think I ever would have thought I would hear that in this House about a man of his calibre.
I am convinced that when the Provincial Auditor looks into this matter and all the facts are known, the member opposite will no longer be able to repeat these allegations. Frankly, I hope that clay comes as soon as possible because clearly, even though the member opposite asks questions of me, he is not the least bit interested in the answers, which makes me wonder why he is asking the questions.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Health. McMaster medical centre has, for the first time, anticipated a major deficit, with 113 bed-closings this summer as against 40 last year and ongoing nursing shortages.
I want to ask the minister to respond to the problem of 12-year-old Raymond Jaskiewicz, who was scheduled to go into McMaster for an operation on 27 June. He was born with multiple deformities and has undergone a number of operations which leave him with a dreadful fear of such events.
He was in the hospital on 27 June, he got to the operating room and was under the anaesthetic when it was discovered that there was no bed available. They wheeled him out of the operating room to wait for a bed. They found a bed only to discover that there was no nurse, so the operation was cancelled.
The question is, what does the minister say, not just to children like Raymond Jaskiewicz but also to parents in similar situations, with respect to the problems they are faced with regarding bed closures and the shortages of nurses?
Hon Mrs Caplan: If the member would like to give me the details of the case that he has mentioned, the ministry is always willing to look into and investigate individual cases where members raise them in this House or approach me privately.
I would say to the member that many services can be provided, because of technological change, in alternative ways. Our focus is on services and those services being available to people when and where they need them.
I can say to the member that Chedoke McMaster Hospitals have a fine reputation for providing quality care and we are working with the hospitals. We have not yet received their proposed budget, but if we have any concerns about their management or ability to manage we will certainly be willing to investigate.
Mr Allen: This is a systemic and not an individual problem, for one thing. We see it happening across the system. Second, this is not a question of having an option to move off to other services; this is a major operation that the young man had to face. There was simply no bed and then there was no nurse. That is a problem that is not just unique, it is systemic.
In addition, this family had brought in relatives from some distance to look after the rest of the family and the household. They discovered that with the rescheduling of this operation, there will now be an elderly gentleman who needs his operation who will he displaced. They have to bear some sense of guilt over that.
Is the minister not just simply multiplying the pain, shifting the cost, shifting the guilt in situations like this by refusing to face up to the real needs for beds and nurses in our system?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think it is important for the member opposite and for everyone in this House to understand our role and that of our partners in this health system. What I can say to him is that the hospitals are run by independent boards of trustees, the directors, and by their management. Decisions are made based on the very best medical judgements, and it is the hospital’s responsibility to co-ordinate both services and practices within that hospital.
We acknowledge that there are varying degrees of management expertise. We are always available to help hospitals if they have a problem in those practices, to give them advice and to seek other expert advice from other hospitals in this province to assist them.
I can say to the member that there have been many changes in the past decade in how services can be provided. We are focusing on services, on the fact that services can be provided on outpatient and ambulatory bases in the community and on alternative ways to free up the hospitals to do what they do best, and that is provide the acute services that require inpatient care.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Health. The whole problem of bed-closings has been and continues to be a matter of great concern to our party. It has serious consequences for the wellbeing of the sick. The Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto has tabled data indicating that over 2,000 beds have been mothballed; one in six beds shut down. It was a great cost to build, develop and maintain them and now, because of chronic staff shortages and underfunding from the ministry, we have 2,000 beds in the greater Toronto area not in use. Is this acceptable to the minister?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member’s question gives me an opportunity to talk this year, as we did last year and I am assuming as we will do again next year, about how we provide services in alternative ways. We are focusing on services, and I would say to the member that in the 8.3 per cent transfer payment to our hospitals, in the $6 billion that will be made available to the 223 hospitals, we are acknowledging that services which formerly had to be provided on an inpatient basis can now be shifted and provided on an outpatient basis.
We are focusing on services. We acknowledge that at certain times of the year demands are lower. I was told by physicians that some 30 per cent to 50 per cent of all services provided on an inpatient basis could be provided on an outpatient basis, and hospitals are looking at how they can provide those services so that people will have them available when and where they need them.
Mr Cousens: Dr Carole Guzman, who is president of the Ontario Medical Association, would disagree with the minister. She says that the steady decrease in the number of hospital beds can only result in a reduction in the quality and accessibility of patient care.
The Minister of Health has the responsibility to assure Ontarians that they have quality health care, and the shortage of beds means that there are longer waiting lists for many procedures. It means virtual cancellation of elective surgery. It means an arbitrary reduction in the length of stay for people who are in hospital. It means that patients are tremendously inconvenienced and their recovery can be at risk. It means that patients are treated in emergency departments --
The Speaker: You must have a question in there.
Mr Cousens: -- rather than proper rooms. Is this what the Minister of Health would consider quality health care?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, I would say that the member is totally inaccurate in his portrayal. We know that we have in Ontario the highest rate of institutionalization in the western world for acute services. We have 1,300 patient bed-days per thousand, one of the highest in North America.
I can say to the member that beds are not the benchmark of service. Just two days ago, the chairman of the Ottawa Civic Hospital said to me: “Elinor, we care about people. We are caring for people. We are not caring for beds alone. We are providing services and maintaining service levels by using new technologies to provide services in alternative ways.” He said that by providing all of the diagnostic services on an outpatient basis, in fact, they were able to improve quality care and provide services people need. I would applaud those efforts.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. At the present time, it is almost impossible to determine the number of social workers in this province, but a guess would be somewhere around 10,000 social workers. Only 2,600 belong to the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers. Social workers are not regulated by this province by legislation. That means complaints about a nonmember cannot be dealt with by the college and even a member of the college can choose to ignore any attempts at discipline by the college.
My question to the minister is, without provincial regulation, what is there by way of protection for the public against inadequately trained social workers or the incompetent behaviour of a social worker?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will probably be aware of the fact that those professions in the province that are self-regulating generally consist of members who operate on their own a large percentage of the time -- doctors and lawyers, for example. However, I draw to his attention that social workers in this province, for the most part, although there are some exceptions, work in a variety of institutional settings, in schools, hospitals, children’s mental health centres, the facilities directly operated by this government.
As such, the various pieces of legislation guiding those various institutions -- for example, in my own ministry, the Child and Family Services Act, the Young Offenders Act, the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act and a whole series of others -- clearly protect the public in the way in which social workers would behave. I think there is a difference.
However, let me just point out that we have been working very actively with the Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers to put together a consultation paper whereby all of the participants in this particular endeavour can have an opportunity of giving their input as to whether or not we do need a social workers act in Ontario and, if we do, how it will be framed and constructed.
Mr Owen: At the present time anyone can put out a shingle and call himself or herself a social worker. Education and training can be nothing, training only on the job, at community college or various levels of university. I appreciate that putting together into one profession this diverse hodgepodge or background so that it can look after itself or be legislated would be very difficult. Nevertheless, this has been done in other provinces and in a number of the states in the United States.
My question then to the minister is, because many in the profession are asking for this, could he advise us what the status is of the legislation proposal in Ontario?
Hon Mr Sweeney: In the first part of his question, I believe the honourable member highlighted the fact that of the approximately 10,000 social workers in the province, something less than 3,000 are actually members of that association. The feedback we are getting is that the other social workers in the province question -- they do not deny -- the necessity of a social workers act.
We also have some serious concerns being expressed to us by those social workers who are trained through community colleges, as opposed to through universities. We have had some expressions of concern coming from a range of agencies that employ social workers or people with different levels of education, backgrounds and experiences for social work activities, in such a way that they do not want to be restrained from the range of options available to them.
Because of this we have consulted with a number of groups, put together a consultation paper that is out in the communities right now and committed ourselves to receiving the responses from that paper by September or October of this coming fall. On the basis of that, we will make a decision as to whether or not we ought to proceed with the social workers act and what the construction of that act will be. So it is an ongoing process. It is not denial, it is just a case of “Let’s do it right if we do it at all.”
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Health. On 1 July 1987, the Legislature of the day passed the Nursing Homes Amendment Act. One of the key features of those amendments to the Nursing Homes Act was that, henceforward, nursing homes would he required to make their financial statements public. This is a matter that we have addressed a number of times in the Legislature since then. I have asked about it on two occasions in 1988 and 1989, as has my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke). Would the minister share with the House whether perhaps it is the nursing home industry that does not want these regulations put in place?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the member that, in fact, following his previous question regarding the regulations, I was fully aware of the fact that it is the practice of the ministry, and a practice that I support, that we consult on regulations and that we want to make sure that not only are the regulations responsive to the obligations of the act, but also that they will give us the results we all think are appropriate. I understand that these regulations are particularly complicated, have gone through an extensive review and should be available shortly.
Mr Reville: It would be great if the ministries consulted on regulations, but we know that sometimes regulations can come through very quickly. Ministry of Housing regulations have the habit of coming through quickly. Most regulations should not take two years. It makes one wonder, given that in 1987 the nursing homes industry, which cries poor all the time, managed to find $71,595 to contribute to the Liberal Party of Ontario. Is that how much it costs to get a regulation delayed?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member knows that our priority is always patient care and ensuring that people have the services that they need when and where they need them.
I would say that his question is unbecoming to a member of this House. He knows there is an Election Finances Act which clearly makes available to the public the fact that it is an important and perfectly legitimate political activity for people to participate in the democratic process. I would say very clearly to him that the obligations of that act require disclosure. I am pleased to see that he is using the rights available to him to explore at will, but his question is unbecoming.
The Speaker: Order. I am certain that other members wish to ask questions and I would ask all members to allow them.
Mr Runciman: My question is to the acting Solicitor General and it deals with the coroner’s office. A former member of the Legislature, Dr Morton Shulman, brought a case to the attention of our party of a 31-year-old woman named Brandi Carrs, who died in hospital of a nonfatal illness. This occurred on 28 March 1988. In spite of repeated attempts by the woman’s family and then by Dr Shulman, a coroner’s inquest was not arranged until Dr Shulman approached the Premier’s office about the case. The inquest is now scheduled for 18 September 1989.
While our party has confidence in Dr Bennett, the chief coroner of the province, there are many unanswered questions about how this situation was handled. Can the acting Solicitor General tell us if he believes this matter was handled in the most appropriate fashion possible?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, it is a determination exclusively for the chief coroner to decide whether an inquest should be held in a given case. This was an anaesthetic death, and the review conducted by the coroner following the unfortunate death was reviewed by nine other qualified anaesthetists, who all concluded that in the circumstances nothing untoward had occurred. Notwithstanding that, because of the representations that were made, it was decided none the less to grant an inquest, as the honourable member has noted.
Mr Runciman: Obviously, the acting Solicitor General has been apprised of some of the details of this situation, but I ask if he would undertake to respond fully in respect to findings in this matter to the Legislature before the recess. He did not in respect to the concerns, especially of Dr Shulman, which have been outlined in detail to his predecessor, and I ask the acting Solicitor General if he would undertake to make that commitment today.
Hon Mr Scott: I have responded fully to the honourable member in the House today. We have responded to Dr Shulman. If the honourable member has any other questions, either today or in some other question period, I would of course be delighted to have them, with notice.
The Speaker: Is the Minister the Environment (Mr Bradley) here?
Mr B Rae: No, not yet. I am just going in the rotation.
The Speaker: Then I will recognize the member for Peterborough.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Chairman of Management Board. Some of us were very pleased. to see the Chairman of Management Board appointed as the chairman of the Premier’s Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy. It seems to me this reflects the importance that this government places on the round table and it also reflects the government’s commitment to see that the principles of sustainable development are applied throughout this government’s activities.
My question to the Chairman of Management Board is this: Can the minister give us his view of sustainable development as a guiding principle for government decision making?
Hon Mr Elston: I might just acknowledge for the purposes of the public that the municipality which the member for Peterborough represents has a very high degree of interest in the issue of sustainable development They have in fact taken steps there to discuss in their forums what they can do at that level of government to initiate certain principles of policy decision-making.
With respect to the provincial government, we have taken the initiative of setting up the round table as a result of the work done by the National Task Force on the Environment and the Economy, particularly as it reflected on the Brundtland commission. Our job now is to provide a backdrop for policy decisions with respect to the government of Ontario making decisions, but much more than that, to provide the backdrop for other governments that make decisions within our ambit, as well as other boards.
We believe it is important that people understand that the health of the economy and the environment are but one part of a much broader picture which requires a sensitivity to the social elements and other parts of our decision-making profile, so that we can provide for all of us here in Ontario the types of programs that are required to be able to provide people with the benefits that our resources and other things provide for us. We will have continual --
The Speaker: Thank you. Perhaps the minister would want to keep some information in case there is a supplementary.
Mr Adams: I am grateful for the detailed reply that the minister gave to my question.
I wonder now if the minister could bring us up to date on the status and current activities of the Premier’s round table.
Hon Mr Elston: I am sorry to admit my observation that the interest of the opposition is almost nil when it comes to sustainable development. It is reflected in their interjections and their desire to undo an attempt by the member for Peterborough to get some information on what is a worldwide concept: what really is being used so that all of us on this planet, which is in danger. can be used to sustain people around the world and to advance the ability of people to reach their full potential. That is what we are doing.
But let me get back to the question. What we are doing now is meeting to define and underscore for the benefit of the public of Ontario the principles upon which policies should be examined so that we can provide for the people of this province the best way of reaching their potential, so that we can examine the elements of the economic development, the economic policies and the social policies that are required. We are now balancing those inside the discussion groups so we can move forward to provide us with --
The Speaker: Thank you. I see the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) is here. The Leader of the Opposition may wish to ask his second question.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday in the Legislature the Premier (Mr Peterson) told the House that he had met on a number of occasions -- he used the phrase “two or three or four occasions” -- with Marco Muzzo and that on two of those occasions, he and Mr Muzzo had discussed what he described as environmental ideas having to do with garbage. I wonder if the minister can tell us whether he was present at any of these discussions on garbage disposal.
Hon Mr Bradley: No, I was not present for those meetings.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the minister does not find it a little strange that the Premier would be having a meeting dealing with an environmental idea -- perhaps the minister can tell us whether the Premier gave him any report of these meetings, either verbal or written with respect to any ideas on environmental subjects on which Mr Muzzo is, I am sure, an expert. Can he tell us whether the minister received any report on these discussions from either the Premier or any member of his staff?
Hon Mr Bradley: I cannot recall any reports from this meeting that took place, which the member talked about. I cannot recall any reports on that at all.
Mr B. Rae: I cannot understand how it would be possible for the minister to tell us that he has received no information from the Premier at all about any of these discussions when he will appreciate that the stakes involved in the question of the future of waste disposal in southern Ontario are enormously high.
He will realize that the Envacc Resources proposal, which is associated with Mr Muzzo, of which Mr Muzzo was the originator and the original financial backer, is worth literally hundreds of millions of dollars in cash flow every single year.
I wonder why the Minister of the Environment, who is supposed to have the authority over questions of waste management in this province, would not be involved in any way, shape or form in any of the meet figs held by the Premier with Mr Muzzo.
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member will recognize, no proposals have been accepted by the greater Toronto area or the regional chairmen who are attempting to get together to try to solve the problems and challenges of waste management in their area. The member is not listening to the answer now.
In fact, to my knowledge, no one has accepted any particular proposal. I think there has been a discussion generally that the member is aware of and that I am aware of, as a result of the meetings that took place with regional chairmen, with the agreement of regional chairmen to get together to deal with waste management problems within the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.
In fact, there are a number of proposals that have come forward to that group or will come forward to that group, some involving the public sector operating, I guess, the whole business, or whether it would be the private sector doing so. I am sure when the chairmen get together and form their organization, they will give careful scrutiny to all the proposals that are put forward and then they will make an appropriate decision.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Health. I asked the minister some questions not too long ago about the problems at Princess Margaret Hospital. As I suspected, I began to get some correspondence on this. I would like to read a very short letter that I have:
“My father, Joseph Adam, has lung cancer which has spread to the lymph nodes. He is in urgent need of radiation treatment if he is to survive. This is a life-or-death issue. He has been to Princess Margaret Hospital twice in the past week for consultations with doctors. The earliest he can be treated with radiation is four weeks from now.” That is four weeks from the date on which this woman, Ms Adam, the daughter of Mr Adam, wrote the letter. She concludes by saying, “It is very difficult to watch my father suffer when I know that the technology exists to help him.”
This four-week delay in treatment for radiation is not unusual. This is not an exceptional problem. It is one that is shared by many, many cancer patients. I wonder if the minister can tell me what I should tell Ms Adam.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In regard to the issue the member raises, as he knows, we have declared that cancer care is a priority of the province. We acknowledge that there are many components in attempting to respond to the challenges of building a network of services and seeing that people have the care they need when they need it, as close to home as possible.
I would say to him that he should suggest that she speak to her doctor about ensuring that the care and treatment of anyone is always provided on the basis of physicians’ best advice as to when those services are needed and that priority is given to those in most urgent need. In fact, the physicians are monitoring the results and the outcomes so that we can ensure that resources are used as effectively as possible and result in the very best possible treatment.
Mr B. Rae: Does the minister not realize that what in fact is happening now is not that doctors are able to make the decision on the basis of what patients need? They are having to make the decisions based on what is available. There are 10 machines and there are only eight working. They are short of technologists.
Does the minister not recognize that, as theoretically adequate as her answer may seem, it does not respond to the reality? The reason for the delay is not doctors saying, “You don’t need the treatment for four weeks.” That is not what is happening. What is happening is: “I’m sorry. There’s a waiting list. You simply have to wait, along with everyone else, because everyone else is in the same position.” Does the minister not understand that this is what is happening now at this hospital as well as others?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to speak to the Leader of the Opposition about reality and about the reality that we want to make sure that people have access to services as close to home as possible. The reality is that Princess Margaret Hospital had a number of technologists who took positions in other hospitals as part of the network across the province. As a result, the ministry acted immediately to increase the capacity in Kingston.
The member knows full well that many people were coming into Metropolitan Toronto from outside and particularly from eastern Ontario. By allowing them to be referred to Kingston, that will remove the pressure on Metro to allow for those who have to come in. He knows that this was unforeseen, that they are actively recruiting to ensure that they have the therapists that they need, but that the expansion of services in Kingston will alleviate the situation that we know exists.
Mr Villeneuve: This is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. A private company known as Professional Health Care Services, operating in eastern Ontario, has some 2,200 patients in the counties of Prescott, Russell, Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and others. It touches over a half-dozen ridings in eastern Ontario.
Some months ago, the ministry staff gave assurances that homemaker grant increases would come by the end of June. That is tomorrow. Can the minister explain why staff are now saying that the increases will not come until September at the earliest? Could the minister explain that to us?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I made an announcement in this House, I believe about two or three weeks ago in which I clearly indicated that a total of $88 million has been allocated to my ministry by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) to improve community wages for five different groups of people, and one of those groups was homemakers. I said at that time that we would be consulting with the various provincial homemaker groups to determine between them and us the fairest way to allocate those resources, and that I was giving a commitment that the money itself would flow to the workers effective 1 September. I did not give a guarantee that they would receive the cheque, but any cheque that they did receive would be retroactive to 1 September. That was clearly the statement that I made.
Mr Villeneuve: We have some urgency here. Staff meetings have been held by this homemaker organization in Cornwall, Iroquois and Brockville, and there is another very important meeting tonight in Hawkesbury. Some of that staff has already resigned over the lack of pay increases, and of course the biggest losers are the 2,200-or-so patients. After the Red Cross and the Victorian Order of Nurses, this seems to be another example that the government is once again endangering homemaker services and we are losing some of our professional home care providers right now. Could the minister not guarantee these people that moneys will flow imminently?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would remind the honourable member that earlier this year, in January I believe it was, through my ministry $1.8 million flowed not just to the Red Cross but to seven other homemaker agencies to help them with their particular problems. I have also indicated that those same agencies will get in excess of $2 million this year. So we have dealt with that part of the problem. I just finished advising the honourable member that we have put out a considerable number of dollars, over $88 million, for a range of services. We have committed that money will be paid to workers retroactive to 1 September. I do not know what more we can say. We have given that guarantee. We have flowed that kind of money. We have assured them that money will flow again this year.
Mr Carrothers: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Many of my constituents have expressed some concern about the glossy advertising flyers that we find in our newspapers. Frequently, there seem to be more flyers than newspapers delivered to our door, particularly in the Wednesday and Saturday editions. There seems to be a great deal of confusion about whether those glossy advertising inserts and magazines can be recycled. I wonder if the minister could clarify for my constituents whether in fact the glossy advertising brochures in the newspapers can be included in the blue box program.
Hon Mr Bradley: This is a question that I think a lot of people around the province are asking, as they are attempting to expand what goes into the blue box. I can inform the member that glossy advertising flyers, of the kind that are included with the newspaper, are often used by supermarket chains as a supplementary to a newspaper, and by department stores as well, are printed on newsprint stock paper. So such flyers can be accepted by the blue box recycling program, including the program operating in the honourable member’s own region of Halton and in his riding of Oakville South.
In fact, the region of Halton recycling program is able to take even stapled glossy magazines as well, and has advanced beyond some other regions in this particular regard. Magazines with glue bindings, on the other hand, cannot be accepted by the blue box in that specific area. Of course, it is the responsibility and they always take this on, of the local municipality to make known to everyone in the area what may or what may not be included in the blue box. Even the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston), I know, would be interested in that.
Mr Carrothers: Could the minister inform the House whether he is investigating methods to find ways to recycle the magazines that so frequently find their way to our doorsteps, as well?
Hon Mr Bradley: In fact, a certain quantity of magazine stock paper is actually necessary for the newsprint recycling process, to give the necessary binding and strength to the newsprint which is eventually produced. Currently there are about 40,000 tons of this paper used annually during the de-inking process in Ontario and it is supplied largely by the cutting waste from the firms that produce the magazines. A greater quantity, I want to tell the member, in fact, is going to be required when additional de-inking facilities come on in the province of Ontario.
The Ministry of the Environment has sponsored a pilot project in the region of Halton to experiment with various methods of removing glue bindings from the magazines. That, of course, will remove a major problem. This program and others like it have been funded through the ministry’s municipal recycling program.
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The Workers’ Compensation Board came before the public hearings on Bill 162. At that time, when I raised my concerns about the new supplement policy and how workers were being deemed and denied benefits, Dr Elgie said this:
“The board had its own concerns about this issue and Henry McDonald was part of a team that followed the threshold test issue with workers since the policy commenced. I believe I am correct...in saying that there was virtually no change in the number of people passing the threshold test; maybe different individuals, but as a total group there was no change in the number of people passing the threshold test.”
Yesterday the board’s annual report was released and in fact the number of supplements awarded in 1988 was down by 23 per cent from 1987.
Will the minister not now admit that in fact deeming is occurring and he has done nothing to stop the practice?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend from Sudbury East, who has actually been an employee of the Workers’ Compensation Board, should at least acknowledge in her question that the administration of the workers compensation system is not in the hands of the Minister of Labour in this Parliament or in the government of Ontario. She should also, if she wanted to really deal with the question that she raises, acknowledge that the terminology in Bill 162 is dramatically different and will, I think, eliminate the very practice that she is talking about.
As to whether on not deeming, as she uses that term, is currently the practice of the board, I really don’t have any comment whatever, except to say to her that to suggest that the reduction by some 23 per cent in those who were granted supplements during the last fiscal year of the board would probably be attributable to a variety of factors, only one of which could be a change in the threshold test that she referred to in her question.
Miss Martel: The minister would know that during the course of the hearings when this was raised, Dr Elgie said specifically there had been no change in the numbers of workers receiving supplements. The annual report tells something very much different. The minister also knows that the wording in Bill 162, whether it was the act introduced on 20 June or the new, revised version introduced four weeks ago, does absolutely nothing to stop this policy.
The only way to protect workers from being deemed is to ensure that their real wages are taken into account when they are given an award.
Why will the minister not do the decent thing and say, in Bill 162, that the workers will receive their actual wage loss instead of a projected wage loss based on deeming?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I want to throw the question back to the member for Sudbury East. Why will she not do the decent thing and let the committee of which she is a member, the committee that is dealing with Bill 162, get to the very sections that she is referring to? Day after day in the standing committee on resources development, she and her party have been talking and talking and talking on the smallest minutiae of the bill. I invite her to bring her suggestions on those sections urgently to the committee that is now considering the bill.
The Speaker: I might remind all members that shouting gets one no place, other than to waste the time of the members.
Mr Sterling: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On 1 April of this year, Sagal Samanter died as a result of an elevator accident in the Ottawa-Carleton area.
This week, a ministry official, Ken Irving, was quoted as saying, “We have the ability but we do not have the time to properly check the elevators in the Ottawa-Carleton area.” He also said that the ministry was aware of a recommended change with regard to the wiring on this elevator which might have prevented the accident from occurring. He is one of two inspectors for over 3,000 elevators in the Ottawa area. We have been chronically understaffed in that area.
What does the minister intend to do to make certain that the Ottawa-Carleton area in eastern Ontario is properly protected with regard to safety of elevators?
Hon Mr Wrye: I want to say to the honourable member that I know he quite properly reflects the concern in the Ottawa-Carleton area with not only this elevator fatality but the second fatality at the Lord Elgin Hotel which occurred some short time ago. I know he tries to bring that concern to the Legislature.
I can advise him that in the allocations which we received from the Management Board of Cabinet this year, we have received a significant increase in the amount of money available, and a great deal of that money will be going to the technical standards division, of which the elevating devices branch is a part.
I can say to the honourable member that, at the same time, we do place some importance upon the maintenance contracts that each and every one of those facilities has. It is impossible, as the honourable member will know, to inspect elevators literally every week or every two or three weeks, so we expect those maintenance contracts to be with reputable firms and to be followed very carefully. During our audit inspections, we look very carefully to see how those maintenance contracts are being followed.
Mr Sterling: I want to talk about those very maintenance contracts. A maintenance contractor was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, saying:
“Records are not required by the ministry” -- the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- “and are often removed by maintenance companies if the contract expires, in order to hinder the new contractor. It is notorious in the industry to remove records. There are elevators that do not even have wiring drawings in the control room. It is a serious situation.”
Will the minister not only address the situation with regard to inspectors required in Ottawa-Carleton but will he bring forward regulations assuring that proper reports and proper diagrams are part and parcel of living with a licence to control and operate an elevator in this province?
Hon Mr Wrye: I will be meeting with my officials about the inquest which, as the honour-able member has pointed out, has been ongoing this week. As we look not only at the inquest evidence but at the recommendations of the inquest, I intend to meet with my officials to see in what ways we can improve the situation as we find it in Ontario.
It seems to me that the honourable member certainly brings forward a couple of areas where improvements may be useful. I am not in any way impressed with any argument that someone should be able to take away records which may be able to hinder safety. I will give the member a commitment in the House that we will look very carefully at that, as one of the areas in which I think all of us in the Legislature would like to see improvements.
Mr Callahan: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. A week or so ago my colleague the member for Brampton North (Mr McClelland) and I met with the director of the Brampton-Caledon Association for the Mentally Retarded. A question was put to us about the problems of families with children who have a psychiatric problem and are developmentally handicapped, which is commonly known as a double or dual diagnosis. It was indicated to us by the director that the facilities available to deal with both of these difficulties for a person, certainly in our area, are nil. I would like to ask the minister whether or not this is being looked into and what steps may be taken to remedy that situation.
Hon Mr Sweeney: In the past two years, my ministry has spent an additional $63 million to upgrade the community supports for families who have developmentally handicapped relatives already living in the communities, and for relatives whom they want to bring out of institutions and back into the community.
I must concur, however, in terms of supplying services, that the one group of people with whom we have the greatest difficulty are those who are dually diagnosed. Up to the present time there is a split in the service. If the person exhibits a serious psychiatric problem, that is usually dealt with through the Ministry of Health in a psychiatric hospital if he is an adult, or through a children’s mental health centre, through my ministry, if he is a child. If he needs the regular line of services, then the communities can provide it. But we do not have in place very widespread across the province a single agency that can supply both of those. The honourable member’s area and that of his colleagues is not different from any other places in the province.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a petition here signed by 500 people, ironically on the day the government is going to drop on us its amendments to the superannuation fund for teachers. It reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has continually refused to permit an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a binding arbitration process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers.”
I have affixed my signature.
Mr Fleet: I have a petition that I received from the Ontario Naturopathic Association. It is signed, by my count, by 153 individuals and is addressed 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:
“Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
I have countersigned it, as required under the provisions of the standing orders.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Mr Adams: I have a petition from 150 people in the Peterborough area. It is properly addressed and begins:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“That funding be increased so that crown attorneys can better advocate on behalf of the victims of child sexual abuse;
“That a person be appointed to provide liaison between crown attorneys and their victim-clients;
“That the judiciary be required to apply maximum sentences, as provided by the law, to those guilty of child sexual abuse;
“That the perpetrators of child sexual abuse be prohibited by law from access to their victims unless the consent of the victim and the victim’s family is given to such access.”
Mr Adams: I have a second petition. This petition too is appropriately addressed. It begins:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution mechanism,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
SECURITY IN PREMISES USED BY PUBLIC
Mr Sterling: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to present this petition today.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We request that the Ministry of the Attorney General withdraw Bill 149, An Act to amend the Trespass to Property Act, which we believe is unnecessary and without mandate.
“While we respect the rights of minorities and youth, whom Bill 149 alleges to protect, we oppose the way in which the proposed legislation will erode the ability of owners and occupiers to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their patrons or customers. We are further concerned about the legislation’s potential for increasing confrontation in the already difficult process of removing individuals who create disturbances on publicly used premises.”
I have signed that along with 373 people from Ontario who oppose Bill 149.
Mr R. F.. Johnston: I have a petition signed by 500 people in the Metropolitan Toronto area concerning their outrage at the lack of negotiations around the superannuation fund for teachers.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has continually refused to permit an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a binding arbitration process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers.”
I have affixed my name and agree with them that this should be done before a bill is imposed upon us, as it will be this afternoon.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I have two identical petitions and I have signed each of them proudly. One of them is signed by 115 citizens from my area, the other by 190 citizens from my area. They each read:
“To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
Mr Ballinger: I have a petition addressed to the honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We, the undersigned Ontario citizens, are opposed to private members’ resolution 62 which reads,
“That the government of Ontario through the Minister of Natural Resources should bring forward legislation to prohibit the use of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on conservation authority lands.’’
I have affixed my name to the bottom of this petition along with 650 residents.
Mr Jackson: I have petitions, a considerable number of them, 7,000 signatures, which have been received from one school alone in Essex County concerning the cavalier fashion in which the government is approaching vocational schools and the children they serve. The petition states:
“We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education for the province of Ontario to recognize the effectiveness of vocational schools in the province of Ontario and to stop any further transfer of these schools to the Roman Catholic separate board of education.”
“We urge the ministry to conduct significant research into the concept of mainstreaming.”
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have about 500 signatures, from the Bobcaygeon-Peterborough areas as well as the Toronto region, of angry people concerning the Teachers’ Superannuation Act and the problems with negotiations with the government. It reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has continually refused to permit an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses, and a binding arbitration process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario enter into negotiations with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation which will lead to a settlement equitable to teachers.”
That is a novel idea for this government.
Mr Campbell: “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:
“Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
I have affixed my signature to the petition.
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
Mr Campbell: I have a second petition:
“We, the undersigned employees of the Ontario public service, demand a jointly managed pension plan without additional contributions.”
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly petitioning for the introduction of legislation “that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.” It is signed by 149 residents of Ontario, and I have also affixed my signature.
The Speaker: Does the member for Scarborough West have another one?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, Mr Speaker, it may surprise you to know that I have another 500 names here of people who are concerned about the Ontario Teachers’ Superannuation Act, which the government of Ontario has not negotiated properly about. It reads as follows, and it is slightly similar to the others:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses, and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
I have affixed my signature.
Mr Velshi: I have a petition signed by 196 residents:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“The proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
I have signed the petition.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, you will be pleased to know I have one last petition today with 500 names from people from Oshawa, Metropolitan Toronto, Durham region and other parts who are concerned about the same issue.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has continually refused to permit an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, an equitable treatment of future surpluses, and a binding arbitration process,
There will be more forthcoming even after this bill is foisted upon us.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
VETERINARIANS ACT, 1989
Mr Riddell moved first reading of Bill 39, An Act to revise the Veterinarians Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Riddell: This bill proposes to amend the Veterinarians Act to better protect the interests of the public. As well, the proposed amendments ensure that the rights of individuals in the veterinary professions will be protected.
The revised act is modelled after legislation covering other self-governing professions and parties affected by this proposed act have been consulted in its drafting. As a result of this process, I am able to present this proposed bill which addresses concerns of veterinarians and associated nonveterinarian groups.
BRUCELLOSIS REPEAL ACT, 1989
Mr Riddell moved first reading of Bill 40, An Act to repeal the Brucellosis Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Riddell: I rise to introduce a bill to repeal the Brucellosis Act, which is no longer a relevant piece of legislation. Ontario was declared free of the brucellosis disease in October 1985, marking an end to a disease that once ravaged cattle herds and cost farmers millions of dollars in lost production. Using a program of vaccination, testing and eradication, the federal and provincial governments, in co-operation with farmers, brought this disease under control. As brucellosis has been eradicated and its control is under the jurisdiction of Agriculture Canada, the Ontario Brucellosis Act is redundant.
LAURAMAR HOLDINGS ACT, 1989
Mr Cordiano moved first reading of Bill Pr17, An Act to revive Lauramar Holdings Limited.
Motion agreed to.
TEACHERS’ PENSION ACT, 1989
Mr Ward moved first reading of Bill 41, An Act to revise the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983 and to make related amendments to the Teaching Profession Act.
Motion agreed to.
BOLSWARD INVESTMENTS LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved first reading of Bill Pr20, An Act to revive Bolsward Investments Limited.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION ACT, 1989
Ms Hošek moved third reading of Bill 211, An Act to revise the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1986.
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried. Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Hon Mr Conway: The 16th order, Mr Speaker.
Mr Philip: No, there is debate on it.
Hon Mr Conway: Oh, I am sorry.
The Speaker: I put the motion. It carried.
Hon Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, I think we are going to have agreement.
The Speaker: Therefore, it is not carried?
Mr Reville: There are some comments to be made on third reading of this bill.
Hon Mr Conway: I should just indicate the question was put. I was waiting for someone to get up. No one did, so the motion was carried. But I think you should know, Mr Speaker, that there was an understanding that there would be a debate on the third reading of Bill 211, so I would seek consent that we revert to the question of the third reading of Bill 211.
The Speaker: Is it agreed that the motion for third reading of Bill 211 is before the House?
Mr Reville: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I apologize for falling asleep at my post. It seemed inconceivable to me that the third reading of a bill of this importance would pass without the minister having to make a few remarks.
In the spirit of graciousness that is obtaining in this situation, I appreciate the government House leader’s intervention at that moment. I should point out that there was some understanding on the part of other House leaders at our meeting this morning to allow this bill to be scheduled for debate at all, because it does not appear as one of the orders of the day on the piece of paper I normally see.
Hon Mr Conway: On the order paper.
Mr Reville: It was not scheduled and in fact you will note, Mr Speaker, if you look a few millimetres to my left, that our critic is not with us this afternoon and was not able to be here because we did not know this bill was going to come forward.
Notwithstanding that, there are a number of members of this Legislature who are able to share a few thoughts with other members of the Legislature in this regard. I know all members of the Legislature are very concerned about housing issues in general and about the protection of rental housing in particular.
It was not ever so, and in fact it was not all that long ago, just prior to 1985, when it seemed intolerably difficult to interest people in this place about the protection of rental housing. Of course, I mean the government of that day, which was a Progressive Conservative government, had been importuned for a number of years by my party and by municipal councillors who had an opportunity to see daily that rental housing was disappearing from the constituencies they represented.
Some members who have had a long history in this place will recall that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing of that time and the parliamentary assistant to the minister were at some pains to avoid dealing in a serious way with the protection of rental housing. The protection of rental housing sometimes in the past was called demolition control.
I remember a former city of Toronto alderman who came to this place and was appointed by the then Premier to handle the increasing barrage of concern that was coming out of Toronto city council. This municipality in particular, the municipality in which the Legislature is located, was suffering extraordinary losses in terms of its rental housing.
As someone who has spent almost the past 20 years of his life living and working in the east end of Toronto, I used to be lucky enough to live in Cabbagetown. I rented some premises there, in the neighbourhood that was favoured by the member for York Mills (Mr J. B. Nixon). He and I know that community underwent an extraordinary transformation during the 1970s.
It is not a very big neighbourhood. It is a neighbourhood bounded on the north by the St James Cemetery, on the west by Parliament Street, on the east by the Toronto Necropolis and what is now the Riverdale Farm, the Don Valley and the Don River, and on the south by Gerrard Street. It is a matter of a few city blocks.
In the time when I first lived there, the area was largely inhabited by tenants. Nowadays, if you had a very determined private detective, you might be able to locate a tenant in that neighbourhood, but more likely what you would locate are real estate agents who are pushing property sometimes valued somewhat in excess of $1 million.
I remember the irony I felt particularly when the first Cabbagetown house topped the $1 million mark, because that had been a house once rented by the Christian Resource Centre. The Christian Resource Centre had a mission to roomers and boarders. They were able to rent what in fact was a mansion, somewhat on its last legs and somewhat long in the tooth. It operated as an umbrella group for many social action groups that were common in Cabbagetown in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That property was eventually taken out of leasehold and was sold and vastly renovated. You can see it there on Carlton Street any day. That was the first house that I had ever known of to go on the market for over $1 million, and I thought that was an interesting irony.
Some of the new residents of Cabbagetown, of course, thought that it had reverted to its rightful owners when it became that valuable. What happened to Cabbagetown and the Don Vale in the 1970s was that its population declined vastly as more and more of it went into home ownership. In fact, 1,000 children disappeared from that neighbourhood during that decade. It had extraordinary implications for the local schools, which suffered a huge decline in their enrolment.
It was not because the people who lived there had found some better place to go to. In fact, to the extent that it was possible to trace my neighbours, I found they were moving to areas that were becoming inner-city areas in the suburbs. The housing they had been occupying as rooming houses or boarding and lodging houses or as low-cost apartments had just disappeared; they were demolished, they were converted to condominiums or they were the subject of luxury renovations.
A unit that had been $250 a month was taken off the market for a year and re-emerged as a unit that was worth $1,500 a month. Jacuzzis had been installed, and those kinds of venetian blinds that people favour these days that are different than the ones that go clickety-click or snippety-snap when they go up. They are that kind of venetian blind; they are much more expensive nowadays.
I can think of all sorts of buildings, some owned by DelZotto, in fact. I do not know what put that into my mind just at the moment.
Mr Philip: Which DelZotto?
Mr Reville: It was Elvio DelZotto who bought up 70 affordable apartments, evicted all the people in them and left them vacant for five years. However, I am being unfair to Mr DelZotto, because after he got rid of the people, he sold the assembly to a different developer. Part of that development, thankfully, was saved, because Three Streets Co-op came along and was able to find some of the previous tenants, who were able to move back into their former rental apartments.
This was another kind of conversion. It is the right kind of conversion, when you convert rental apartments into co-operatives, so that people have democratic management of their housing. It is a really great idea. In fact, you can see that co-op today. After you have visited the $1-million mansion on Carlton, just go up the street and you can see the Three Streets Co-op there on the corner.
If you keep going north on Sackville, however, you might encounter my wife working on the grounds of some mansions that used to be rental apartments. She is doing some landscaping there. In fact, she and two of her friends are building a concrete block retaining wall, on which will be mounted a stone balustrade. Should you stop, she will say, “Yes, we’re women and we’re building a concrete block wall.”
Mr Philip: Does she get day passes to do this, or is it some other kind of work permit?
Mr Reville: She gets an hourly wage.
All those properties had been apartments at one time. Some of them are historic buildings. Some of them are rebuilt and faked-up historic buildings. All of them are very expensive housing today; $600,000 to $700,000, I would say. I know some of the people who live there, and they are very nice people, but I used to know a lot more people who lived there, because of course the number of units has declined.
That is what Bill 11 was about, and by some odd coincidence, the bill that seeks to improve Bill 11 is Bill 211; maybe it should have been Bill 11-2. In any event, those kinds of numerological games may be of little interest to members of this Legislature. They are of little interest to the member for Kitchener (Mr D. R. Cooke).
Mr Philip: But I am interested.
Mr Reville: However, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is passionately interested. Maybe “passionately” is a bit hyperbolic.
I have told this assembly before, and of course I am going to tell it again, that I have a special interest in the protection of our housing stock. I believe that a housing policy worthy of the name has to have three parts. You have to save the stock so that there is something to live in; you have to build new stock to accommodate those people who need new housing or who need housing and do not currently have it; and there has to be consumer protection to protect not only tenants who occupy rental premises from capricious rent increases and diminishing quality of life, that poor maintenance and poor building standards might have, but also home owners from crappy building practices, from buying buildings that are not ever going to be built and that sort of thing. I think we have continuing problems in all of those areas.
Prior to 10 July 1986, the protection of rental housing stock was managed partly and very inadequately through the Landlord and Tenant Act, which was supposed to protect tenants from arbitrary eviction, to the extent that theoretical rights really are accessible to people who are at the bottom end of an unequal power relationship. In that regard, the Landlord and Tenant Act was a pretty dismal failure.
The other piece of protection was sought primarily by the city of Toronto -- perhaps by other councils as well -- and had to do with demolition control, so that city councils would actually have to vote before properties were demolished; there was a theoretical possibility that a council might not vote to demolish a rental property. That was the essence of the great struggle around the three famous buildings on Eglinton Avenue, which are in the riding of the member for Eglinton (Ms Poole), probably. There will be a small delay while I find out where that member is from.
Mr D. R. Cooke: It doesn’t matter.
Mr Reville: It matters to me.
Mr J. B. Nixon: It was the member for Lawrence (Mr Cordiano).
Mr Reville: The member for Lawrence. The advice of the member for York Mills is welcome. That riding used to be called Eglinton; it was held by a different party several times, including an Attorney General who was not at all helpful, I recall -- this was a Conservative Attorney General who used to represent the people who lived in those buildings -- who, when the chips were down, finked out on us. He would not intercede to protect hundreds of tenants in those three buildings.
The building permit was issued and the owner of those buildings insisted on his demolition permit. As members will remember, there were a number of city councillors who refused to vote on that, there were lawsuits and all sorts of nastiness and unpleasantness. Subsequently the buildings were purchased by Cityhome and the saga continues, of course, because they were purchased at a price that was just goofy. Social housing programs work in that those costs get passed along to the tenants, so the rents have gone up through the ceiling.
Is there a quorum?
Mr R. F. Johnston: There is neither a quorum nor a minister.
Mr Reville: Mr Speaker, that seems like a serious lack: neither a quorum nor a minister.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.
The Deputy Speaker: A quorum is present.
The member for Riverdale may proceed.
Mr Reville: I was hoping that I could get the Attorney General (Mr Scott) to sit in his place for a while, because one of the areas that suffered the most from loss of rental accommodation is the area he represents.
An hon member: There is no cause and effect.
Mr Reville: The causal relationship here is not perfect, I do not expect. The Attorney General has left the room again. I cannot talk about a person who is not here. On the other hand, I do not remember him defending any rental housing in that riding, but he was busy doing other things. I do not remember that he had any connection with Elvio DelZotto either.
Mr Philip: Or with David Rotenberg.
Mr Reville: I knew David Rotenberg.
In any event, after all that nonsense that occurred on Eglinton Avenue and after the failure of the Progressive Conservative Attorney General to lift even one finger -- he was probably stapling the cuff of his trousers at the time. I would have thought that the government House leader would have known that story. In fact, there was this terrible noise emanating from the Attorney General’s office one day and his staff, concerned that something untoward may have befallen the Attorney General, went in to find him with one foot up on his desk, and he was stapling the cuff of his pants because he had to give a plaque or something and the stitches in the cuff of his pants -- has this never happened to anyone, the stitches coming out of the cuff of one’s pants? It certainly happened to him. He was stapling his pants back together, which shows that Attorneys General can do more things than you can imagine.
In any event, I was trying to get back to the point here, which is that by the time the 1985 election came along, there was not only immediate concern and very large public concern about the loss of rental housing. There had been amassed a great body of information; planning departments throughout Ontario were keeping track of those units lost to demolition, conversion and luxury renovation. So it was that when the voters made the kind of decision that they did in May 1985 and returned almost equal numbers of Conservatives and Liberals, and the New Democrats, who regrettably were returned with fewer numbers, demanded that one of the first items that would appear on the accord document be immediate legislation to deal with the problem of the loss of rental housing stock.
That accord was very detailed in that respect and by and by, very by and by, a piece of legislation emerged from the new Liberal government and it is almost three years ago -- close enough, 10 July 1986 -- that that legislation received its third reading. I have shared with members before just what an exciting adventure that was, because the session adjourned that very day and the bill got its third reading in the nick of time.
It seems that this piece of legislation is always just in the nick of time. For those members who are Latin scholars, in ipso negotio. That is how you say that in Latin. It is amazing what you can learn at plumbing university.
An hon member: Plumbing university?
Mr Reville: I am a graduate of George Brown College. I studied plumbing and gas-fitting there and I got high marks, and what those members need right now is some plumbers, it seems to me.
Mr Mahoney: You need some gas-fitters.
Mr Reville: One of the things about gas-fitting is that you have relief valves installed.
Mr Mahoney: Use a cork.
Mr Reville: If you do put a cork in it, you are liable to have an explosion.
Mr Philip: You guys should be studying Descartes. That is the situation you are finding yourselves in at the moment.
Mr Reville: That is right. Some of this stuff is pretty philosophical, perhaps, for this assembly.
We had a lot of discussion back in 1986 about who the winners and losers should be.
Mr Reville: No, I am looking at my own speech. Does the member mind if I quote myself? No one else will.
Mr R. F. Johnston: No one else will.
Mr Reville: Thank you. The member has to get into training to get those remarks out before I do, because I am probably the quickest and most self-deprecating person you will ever run into.
Mr R. F. Johnston: And with good cause.
Mr Reville: And with good reason. The member beat me on that one, but he planned that.
One of the amendments I had attempted to move back on 10 July 1986 -- it says so right here -- was that I tried to increase the number of rental housing units we could protect. The amendment read that the act should not apply to rental residential property of less than 3 rental units. That meant we would allow duplexes and single units to escape from this legislation, but we wanted to protect the triplexes and fourplexes, because we had counted them and we knew there are an extraordinary number of triplexes and fourplexes in the province.
Of course, we come to this current legislation, Bill 211. Look at subsection 3(2): “A rental property is exempt from this act if the number of residential units in the property, including the number of rental units, is four or fewer.” That means the arguments continue to fall on deaf ears.
It is possible that all the fourplexes in Oakwood have already been converted -- I do not know that -- but it was in the riding of Oakwood, precisely the riding held by the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek), where fourplex conversion was going on hottest and heaviest. This was before the minister was elected. I am not suggesting that there is any causal relationship there. What I am suggesting is that there was plenty of opportunity for this minister to discover the kind of dislocation that can occur if one does not protect fourplexes.
I assume the government’s rationale for not protecting fourplexes on down is that in the main those kinds of collections of rental property are owned by small landlords, are perhaps retirement properties, and it did not want to put barriers in the way of those small capitalists. Perhaps that is an appropriate decision to make.
But the fact remains that many thousands of units -- tens of thousands, in fact -- do not fall under the protective umbrella of this legislation. What we have actually done is created two kinds of tenants: those that deserve to be protected because they live in fiveplexes or up, and those that do not deserve to be protected because they live in fourplexes and down.
Also, those who live in small communities, I understand, do not get covered. I assume that is because it is hard for small communities to implement and administer the legislation, not because there is no problem in small communities, because I do not think that is true. I think the loss of rental housing is a problem whether you live in a community of 700, such as Killaloe in the riding of Renfrew, or whether you live in a large community such as the borough of East York, which is well over 100,000 people.
In both places. once a rental unit is gone, it is gone. If members can find anything more profound than that -- It is hard to think of it.
Aha. Here is the number. In 1986, 79,000 units: it says so right here on page 2354. I knew that number then. Holy smokes. “There are a great number of rental residential properties in Ontario of less than seven units.” That is what they wanted to do at first, six and up. That was 446,000, a third of the rental stock in 1986. Shame.
We actually managed to knock the government of the day down a couple. My amendment would have brought 79,000 more units under the protection of the Minister of Housing. Then we had this absurd byplay: Ms Fish; the then minister of Housing, the member for Scarborough North (Mr Curling); and myself, in which --
Mr R. F. Johnston: Tripartite.
Mr Reville: You are quite right, it was tripartite. It was a debate, actually.
Mr R. F. Johnston: What went on in this riposte?
Mr Reville: In the riposte, what occurred was that the minister of the day promised to protect fourplexes, and then doubledealt us in the regulations.
Mr R. F. Johnston: No.
Mr Reville: Yes. The regulations came out and there we were, done in.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Before or after Mr DelZotto talked to him?
Mr Reville: I have no evidence that the then Minister of Housing spoke at any time with Elvio DelZotto. What I do know is that --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. There are many interjections, and only the member for Riverdale has the floor.
Mr Reville: My view would have been that had the minister talked to Mr DelZotto, he would not have understood what he said.
Mr Pelissero: Oh, not good. That’s beneath you.
Mr Reville: Well, I still feel very cross about this, because the government left 160,000 tenants out in the cold, and when you feel that cross about that many people you do not forget. It is unfortunate that I am still here, because I have a memory that is quite long.
The other thing I just went on and on about was the matter of my view of how quickly this government could move to replace the legislation with better legislation. The whole speech around Bill 11 was: “Don’t worry, Housing critics. This legislation isn’t perfect, but we’ve got to get it in place fast to protect these rental housing units, except these 449,000 rental housing units we don’t intend to protect. We’ll fix it up. We’ll consult in the way we want to do and like to do, and we’ll bring in a piece of legislation that will be wonderful.”
This is supposed to be it. But at the time, 10 July 1986, did it not base a sunset clause on the legislation? The government, feeling pretty cocky at that time, was going to repeal it on 30 June 1988. They gave themselves a couple of years to consult and bring in the perfect -- I do not know -- transcendental piece of rental housing protection legislation.
I thought, “Geez, that’d be really good if that would happen,” but just in case it did not happen, I moved an amendment that said: ‘Let’s not have a sunset clause on this legislation. Let’s let it expire on the day it’s replaced or on 30 June 1988, whichever day came later.” No, the Minister of Housing said this was a dumb amendment, so it did not carry.
Then on 30 June 1988, who comes whining into the Legislature but the Minister of Housing –
Mr Black: I thought it would have been the NDP.
Mr Reville: In this case, perhaps they had been listening to the NDP whining and they had been practising whining in the government lobby. In any event, the whining was good. One always thinks that when the engines are turned off, the whining will stop, but it is not always true.
Anyway, the minister came and had to beg leave of the Legislature to extend Bill 11 for another year, because the much touted, transcendental legislation was not ready. The Legislature did a few guffaws. I think I did a couple of “I told you so’s” and I am not ashamed to do that. The few chances opposition members get to say “I told you so” have to be taken. For an opposition member, sometimes no victory is too small.
Hon Ms Hošek: We’ve noticed.
Mr Reville: It is good to know that the Minister of Housing is finally paying attention here and that she is noticing things, because that may signal some possibility of redemption. I would hope that were true.
In any event, who could believe that we would be here a year later saying “I told you so” again? No victory is too small to be savoured twice.
Hon Ms Hošek: Or three times.
Mr Reville: Does the minister mean we are going to have to do it next year as well? Not me. I am not ever going to do this again. If there is one thing I am fed to the teeth with, it is this government not getting rental housing protection right. They have had all these chances. This is their third chance and it is still not right.
It is interesting that this one does not expire, kind of depressing, actually, because I think what it means is that they are finished and done with it. This act, of course, will mean that those rental housing units that are not protected will disappear, so we will not need any broader legislation because there will not be anything to protect. That is too bad.
I have come to the end of clues that suggest comments to me out of the debate of 10 July 1986. I feel I have chastised the government sufficiently on this occasion. Thank you for your attention, Mr Speaker. I shall sit down.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would be happy to defer to a Liberal member if they have anything to say at all about this act, but if not, I would be glad to enter into the fray.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The member for Scarborough Centre has her hand over her mouth as she heckles. That is the least effective way to do it, I would suggest.
Miss Nicholas: I was just asking: What about the Progressive Conservatives?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Indeed. People everywhere are asking, “What about the PCs?” but this is another question. When we talk about endangered species, people do ask: What about the PCs?
I think what is being brought to my attention is that there does not seem to be a PC in the House. I do not know if members wish me to call a quorum call now in order to make sure I have at least one Tory to speak to. I am happy just to speak to Liberals, who are looking more and more like Tories anyway, so I do not have to be confused.
I think about those early days of reform zeal, going back now to the 1985 period, when some of us suspected that perhaps the reformism and the agenda was one of opportunism, a chance to actually get into government: “We’ll do whatever the NDP asks, to do so even if those ideas are -- not necessarily anathema to us but -- are not where we would go. They’re not the sort of direction that would be shown by a Liberal majority.”
One has to look at this particular act, Bill 211, to understand just what has taken place with this government over these last few years. When we forged the accord, from which many people wish to distance themselves these days -- I do not choose to. I still believe it was one of the best policy documents that was ever drawn up. The more I see this bluing of the Ontario Liberal Party as it moves further and further into the old-style Conservatism of Ontario, I say to myself that it was a very special and unique piece of work, without which this bluing would have taken place much more quickly than it has.
Certainly, since the Liberals have become a majority of 94 desk-thumping souls in the cacophony of support for all the Premier (Mr Peterson) and his friends bring forward, I would have to say the change has been quite dramatic and sad to see.
Mr Speaker, you may recall, even though you were not in the House at that time, that one of the key elements we wanted in the accord was the question of more protection for tenants in Ontario. There were a number of aspects of rental protection which we talked about; some of them in terms of protecting the housing stock, others for upgrading the protection in law for tenants who had housing, in terms of their rights vis-à-vis those rights of landlords, and trying to get a little more equity there for them.
But we had a package which was signed by the Premier and agreed to. It had specific amounts by which rents actually could be raised. In one section it had this requirement to bring in rental housing protection for protecting the stock from demolition and conversion, which was taking place at a terrible rate in those days. In both areas, the government failed us.
The first slipback from the agreement to the letter of the accord was in the question of rents. We had suggested, as some members may know -- not many of the members here today were actually in the House in 1985 -- a rate of increase of only four per cent. Unfortunately, even though that specific percentage was written down in the accord, the government did not see fit to maintain that level of increase but went a good percentage point higher than that in its first increases that were put forward in January of the next year, as I recall.
The second area which is most disappointing is that the government came through with a bill which, as the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) has mentioned, was brought forward on 11 June 1986, an act to protect rental housing in Ontario. Unfortunately, that act was hastily and poorly drawn up, and as a result of that was wisely given a time limit of two years, by which time the government would bring in permanent legislation to deal with this whole question of protecting the rental stock in Ontario and stopping conversion to condominiums and stopping demolition, which were taking place without control in Ontario prior to that time.
I remember the debate. It was interesting to be reminded of it by the member for Riverdale today. We did say to the government at the time that it was making a mistake, in the way it was precluding certain kinds of residences from protection and that thousands and thousands of units of rental stock would be lost because of this lack of protection. I think the member today has alluded to 79,000 units which would not be covered during that time.
We said this should not have been the point of legislative action, that the protection of all tenants should have been the goal; that only very small units in families’ homes, very small units of that sort with special relationships to the landlord should be exempted and all other buildings should be protected, because in point of fact, those small buildings, those sixplexes or fourplexes or duplexes in some cases, were very special and necessary housing options for people.
I would remind members that in 1984-85 we were losing rental housing stock in the east end of the city of Toronto at an amazing rate. We were losing stock from rooming houses up through the small apartment buildings faster than housing, at least rental housing, was being built in Metropolitan Toronto at that time. Whole areas of the city, like Cabbagetown, which had previously had a very large proportion of people renting and often at very reasonable kinds of rents, were being taken off the market and people were losing housing and there were not many options for them.
As members may recall, it was not unconnected that in the same period of time we started to hear about homeless people in Toronto. It was at the time of the closing of those rooming houses and the closing of the small apartment houses that were available in those kind of parts of the city that this kind of problem of homelessness first started to be seen, as evident in the city of Toronto at that time.
We said to the government: “We would rather that you did not take two years. This is a really important piece of legislation. It is part of the accord. Doing something temporary is not what we were after when we made that agreement with you in terms of giving you the responsibility of governing the people of Ontario. We would rather you moved more quickly. In fact, I remember the member for Riverdale chastising the government and saying: “You probably will not even be ready in two years to make the proper amendments that are necessary. Truly, that turned out to be the case: that when June 1988 came around, the government still had not prepared permanent legislation. So we were caught in a similar kind of situation to that which we are in now. At the very last minute, we are being asked to approve a piece of legislation because a deadline for the temporary legislation runs out as of tomorrow: 30 June.
At that time in 1988, we sat again in this House and many people rose to speak about the fact that we felt compromised by having again to extend that Rental Housing Protection Act, which we saw as flawed in a major way and which had left many people in jeopardy for those two previous years, where we saw more and more evidence that condominium conversion was taking place at an increasingly rapid rate and that the lack of controls were in fact exacerbating the housing crisis and the homelessness crisis that we already knew were out there. There we were in June of last year finding ourselves approving, only in seconds, a second temporary piece of legislation. Again, the government set itself a deadline and the deadline is tomorrow, 30 June, for this act finally to be proclaimed.
Coming back to my thesis about the Toryfication of the Liberal Party, I think one only has to look at the tiny number of changes that have found their way into this act and the admission by the government of Ontario and the Minister of Housing in particular that it and she do not wish to protect large numbers of tenants. One has to say that this is not a Liberal reform bill. This, in fact, is very much a Tory piece of legislation. This is not the Liberal government of Ontario taking an idea which was found in the accord and then improving upon it and making it more liberal, more inclusive, for tenants in Ontario. It is in fact a piece of legislation which is going to leave thousands and thousands of people unprotected and loopholes in place for people to build housing and not have it registered as rental housing but have it registered as condos and not have to worry about the conversion aspects of the legislation. It is a kind of legislation which will do nothing to enhance the percentage of rental accommodation which is available in Ontario, which is so necessary now. In fact, it will make it worse.
This might seem like an academic kind of discussion or debate which is perfunctory and of no merit and no meat, but I think members have to look at a place like Metropolitan Toronto which is quite different from their own home communities in terms of the need at this stage for rental housing. That is not to say there is not a need in the Windsor area, but I just want to make a point about the desperate situation that we have now in the city of Toronto.
We now have a situation where our world-class city, as it has been termed by this government, has housing that one can purchase, home ownership, which is unaffordable for virtually everybody in our society. Only a very small percentage of people actually earn the $90,000 a year which is required to own a first house at an average cost in Toronto of $250,000.
At the same time, we have a huge proliferation of condominiums in the Toronto area. I could have brought today, as other members of the House have done in the past, ad after ad, full-page ads out of the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the various papers in Metropolitan Toronto. I could have shown members condominiums for sale that range from $250,000 up to well over a $1 million for a three-bedroom penthouse condominium apartment in Toronto.
On one side of our housing development, we have this enormous increase in condominium stock at incredibly expensive rates, which most people cannot possibly afford. We have resale housing in areas like the area where I live in the eastern part of Toronto where the average price these days is around $260,000 to $270,000, something which is totally out of the reach of anybody who is just starting off.
I remind the members, as I have at other times in the House, that in 1970 a much higher percentage of people could afford to buy a house in Toronto than can do so in 1989. If we think about the values of our society and the importance we have put on home ownership for people, it does seem like we are slipping very badly in terms of the dreams of many of our people to own a home, to have a place that they can call their own and not just be tenants all their lives.
We have this enormous pressure against people being able to own their own homes. We have this incredible cost for condominiums, which, again, makes them as out to lunch as a real possibility for most people as the private home in the Beaches. At the same time as we have that, we have the Rental Housing Protection Act which leaves tens of thousands of people unprotected. It basically says: “We, as a government, are not going to guarantee that your house cannot be taken away from you, converted into condominiums which you could never afford or converted into for-purchase housing that you could never afford. You are being left aside.”
I find that incredible. I find it important to note to the people of Ontario, who probably these days are only looking at the Liberals in terms of scandal, in terms of the Pattigate affair, which touches us all and hurts this whole system. I have great regret about its taking up so much time in this place. I think it is unfortunate. But they are not thinking about where this Liberal government is going on such things that are vital, bread and butter issues like housing.
Here we have an opportunity for somebody who came into this House with some reputation for being progressive -- I am speaking now of the Minister of Housing -- somebody who was going to be seen to be a new face, new blood, new energy to turn things around and to put a real Liberal reform look on the government on one of its most difficult issues, the housing area. You look at one of her principal pieces of legislation which she has come forward with, Bill 211, and you say to yourself, “Is this the great, progressive act? Is this another major quantum leap forward from the legislation which is temporary and now on the books, which was flawed from its inception?” You have to say: “No, this is not what one would have expected from the Minister of Housing, whom we all had great hopes for. This is Tory legislation.”
Mr R. F. Johnston: I do not know why the minister is saying that I did not have great hopes for her; I did. I think it is unfair of her to say that I did not.
Most people saw her as a bright light coming in -- and to think otherwise is unfortunate -- from my limited knowledge of her at the time I certainly did, and it was of great concern to me. As a member of the opposition one does not want to have too many credible people in cabinet. As it turns out we have not had to worry about that a great deal. But this was one of the ones I had expected to take the lustre off the New Democratic Party, be on the reformist side of things and add a little lustre to the Liberals as reformers.
In point of fact, when I look at what has happened here, all I see is Tory legislation.
Mr Pelissero: We are so full of lustre.
Mr R. F. Johnston: So full of lustre? I will not make any comments about the hirsute or otherwise nature of individuals on lustre; I will leave that out. But I will say that this long-awaited legislation, since 1985 -- here we are, in 1989, and have lost thousands and thousands of units which are not protected -- is not going to do much to add to the list of people who now have protection in Ontario. This important date should not go unnoticed.
I know the member opposite, who is encouraging me on here -- and I appreciate her assistance -- would want me to draw attention to the fact that there is something a little ironically sad about the very fact that this is no longer an interim piece of legislation, because it deserves to be interim. Finally the date is being taken off this as to when it sunsets. It gives a sense of “this is it.” This is all we are going to get from the Liberals, in terms of the whole question of demolition and conversion control. This is their answer. Finally, after four years, they have come up with their notion of what is an act that is fair, in terms of rental housing protection.
If this is it, then this is pretty disappointing stuff and means that even the ministers who came forward with such promise cannot get past the basic blue nature of the cabinet, perhaps of the majority of the caucus now and which is leaving us with this kind of disappointing legislation time after time in Ontario.
I will close with those remarks and say that I had hoped for much more, but I know I have colleagues here who are anxious to get their words on record as well.
Ms Bryden: The fact that there is a third reading debate on Bill 211 indicates that certainly the opposition considers it a bill of extreme importance. It indicates also that we feel that the bill before us is seriously flawed. Therefore, we are making his last ditch comment on the weaknesses in the bill in the hope that the minister, over the weekend, will consider how the bill could be amended Tuesday afternoon, when we get back to the Legislature after the long weekend.
Today is the last day to discuss legislation and this bill will expire 30 June. We regret that it will expire on 30 June without having been amended, because ever since it was introduced we have been attempting to tell the minister what the flaws in it are and how she could make it a much better bill in order really to protect people in rental housing in this province. But so far she and the government have resisted all suggestions of amendments.
I will commend the government for having brought in some fairly substantial amendments to the old bill. In fact, the new bill is a complete rewrite in many ways, but the problem with the new bill is that the rewrite was done over a two-year period, since that was the life of the previous bill, but it was done without any consultation with the people who are most affected. Tenants in many parts of the province have been gravely affected by conversions and demolitions which have been destroying our rental housing stock. Those tenants have been unable to prevent the buildings -- the housing stock, in effect -- from being taken out from under them.
In Toronto, we lost 9,000 housing units through demolition or conversion between 1978 and 1986 when the first Rental Housing Protection Act was brought in. Everybody recognized that that 1986 act was essential to stop that kind of loss of housing units and that it was essential to protect the many people who were being harassed out of their buildings. Those buildings then were replaced by nonaffordable rental housing in most cases.
The 1986 act was very essential, but we very quickly found that the 1986 act was not protecting hundreds of thousands of people in the province. The first way it was not protecting them was that the number of units covered by the legislation was limited to those where there were five or more units in the building. All those who lived in buildings with fewer than five units had no protection. That was a reason for amending that 1986 act very quickly. As long as you left it unamended, there was no protection for those hundreds of thousands of people.
I know some of them; they live in my riding. They were in buildings where there were five or fewer apartments. They found that the building was sold and they soon received an eviction notice that either the landlord was going to convert it or that he was raising the rents. They knew that they had little or no protection. It is true he could raise the rents only under the rules of the Residential Rent Regulation Act, but in many cases, he intimidated people by demanding a very high rent increase under that act.
The tenants often were just not able to wait to see whether that rent increase would be approved under rent regulation. They were very nervous that they were going to have to face a rent increase that they could not afford or that the landlord would resort to the next device and declare that the building needed renovation and that the renovations would be such that they would have to leave the building.
It is true that the legislation gave the tenants the right of first refusal when they came back, but it did not protect them if the renovations were accepted as necessitating huge rent increases. In many cases, the tenants left before they found out whether the landlord was either planning legitimate conversion and expenditures that would justify a rent increase, or whether he was simply trying to harass them and get them to move out. In many cases, it was the latter.
I would hope that on Tuesday next the minister will ensure that this bill will be in place to protect tenants in rental housing, but I think she will do it only if she can bring in an amendment immediately which would be acceptable to the people of this province and produce real rental housing protection.
The first one should be to reduce the number of units to all rental housing, because we know that with the present crisis in affordable housing, not only in the city of Toronto but in other major cities, the tenants are simply sitting ducks for intimidation and other methods of getting the building vacant. If the building has less than five units, the present protection they have is nil.
If they are over five units, the protection still requires action by the city councils to approve any changes or conversions. If these changes are going to involve the destruction of rental housing, the tenants simply have to rely on the local city council to protect them. Sometimes the local city councils are not willing to give them that kind of protection by refusing to approve a conversion.
So that second lack in the act is for some sort of appeal process from the decisions of the local council. I do not know that an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board is necessarily a good appeal, because in the first place it costs the tenants considerably to make the appeal, and in the second place it delays for a considerable time the question of whether the conversion or demolition will be approved, which leaves the tenants in great insecurity.
This bill must provide security of tenure for all people in rental housing. That must be its objective and until it does that we cannot accept it. That is why we are talking this afternoon to let the minister know that if she really wants to get this bill through, she will have to amend it on Tuesday.
There is another area I feel the bill fails to cover: the question of people who are pet owners and are living in apartments. There is in many leases a clause that says “no pets.” People have been signing leases with this clause, because they want rental accommodation. If they had a pet they hoped it would not be cause for eviction. But more and more landlords are putting this kind of clause into their leases on a universal basis for all their buildings and they are using this clause to evict tenants who are responsible pet owners. By so doing they are denying tenants the right to own pets, because about half the population of the city of Toronto lives in rental buildings, and about 45 per cent in the province.
All those people are being denied the right to own a pet, even though they look after it carefully and even though the pet does not really disturb either the landlord or the other tenants. These people are denied a basic right to enjoy the benefits of owning a pet. For senior citizens particularly, or housebound people who are disabled people who cannot get out, a pet is a very important psychological aid to people to have a feeling of some sort of contact. Many of them live alone and their pet is their only companion.
The Attorney General has ignored requests to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act to outlaw “no pet” clauses, and so far we have not had any action on that. The situation is getting much worse. People are being evicted even though they are responsible pet owners. This is something that could be covered in this bill; it could be an amendment to this bill. Even though the building may or may not be under the Rental Housing Protection Act, no tenant should be evicted from his apartment simply because he owns a pet and is a responsible pet owner. That is the second amendment I would hope the minister could bring in.
I would hope the Attorney General would co-operate in making sure that the Landlord and Tenant Act also matches whatever clause is put into this bill to protect rental housing dwellers from this kind of inhumane harassment. In many cases the harassment is based strictly on the landlord’s desire to get rid of tenants who pay low rents or whom he has some particular dislike for. The “no pets” clause is simply used as a device. That should definitely be outlawed.
The situation is also growing worse for tenants who are now renting condominium apartments. Many condominiums are now being built for rental. The owners rent them to tenants on an indefinite basis, but those tenants have no protection if the owner decides to evict them or to harass them. They really have no rights under the Rental Housing Protection Act. This is an area which must be extended as another measure that is absolutely essential to protect all the tenants in this province.
I think this legislation is a real challenge for the minister. I know she has commissioned studies of it over the past two years, but once again the studies were not circulated to the tenants’ groups before the final report came out, and they were not involved in discussion on many of the issues. That is a technique I hope she will not repeat in the future on changing rental legislation. It is a two-way street; the tenants know a great deal about their needs, and they know a great deal about the kind of dirty tricks, shall we say, that some landlords use to harass them out of their buildings.
Key money is another area where tenants are not getting sufficient protection. A few have gone to court, and one or two landlords have been fined for demanding key money, but most of them silently pay it because they need the unit if they are trying to move in. The trouble with key money is that it is not enforceable just by phoning up the police and saying: “Come and tell my landlord he must refund me any key money I paid. I found out it’s illegal.” You have to lay a charge before a justice of the peace. The tenants are usually unfamiliar with the process. Then they probably have to get a lawyer, and they do not have the money to do this.
We have to get a better method of enforcing violations of the rent regulations, such as demanding key money.
My colleagues have mentioned some of the other areas where there is inadequate protection. One of them is the landlord giving notice to the tenant that he needs the property for his own purposes. The tenant then does not know whether the landlord is telling the truth. He has no means of checking whether the landlord’s relatives or members of his immediate family are really intending to move in, nor does he have any means of checking after the event. If the tenant is forced out by this device, he has no means of checking how long those relatives stayed. In many cases, it is simply a ploy by landlords to get possession of a property, and the landlord is seldom required to prove that he has plans for family members to move in, that they will stay for at least two or three years and that it might be a situation where he has a right to ask for vacant possession.
I think we have to have something in the law which requires a landlord who gives that as the reason for eviction to provide a bond which he would forfeit if the relative does not stay for, say, a period of at least three years; also, that he has to give the name and address of the person he is definitely planning to have move in so that he cannot just say, “I have a relative,” and if somebody challenges him, he goes around looking for one who will agree to move in for maybe a month or two.
That is an area where I have had a great many tenants complain. When they receive a notice saying, “My immediate relative needs the property,” they do not know whether to move out or to challenge the statement of the landlord in court. Many of them, of course, do not have the money or the time to go to a hearing. There may be a hearing if the tenant refuses to move out. They really are basically unprotected from this as a result of this loophole.
Maintenance standards is another area where we feel the ministry’s legislation under the Residential Rent Regulation Act is very inadequate. Landlords are using the failure of the ministry to enforce maintenance standards as a reason for getting vacant possession. Many of them are refusing to carry out work orders. Unfortunately, the city departments that enforce work orders are somewhat swamped with work and it takes quite a long time to get a prosecution against a landlord who has refused to carry out work orders. The landlords simply let the maintenance of a property drift down and expect that the city enforcement authorities will not catch up with them before the tenant has finally got fed up with the lack of maintenance and moved out, which is exactly what the landlord was hoping.
Of course, after the tenant moves out, the landlord often demolishes the building, as he can under a new court order that allows him to get vacant possession, even without the approval of city council, if the tenants have been gone for a certain period.
In some cases, landlords also deliberately reduce maintenance. They cut off the hot water for two or three days. If they try to cut off the heat -- of course. that is supposed to be prohibited by city bylaws about maintenance of a minimum temperature -- it takes a while to get an order from the health department that the hot water must be restored. I have heard of people who had young babies and the hot water was cut off in their apartment for three and four days, and the landlord did not seem to be hurrying to do anything to protect the health of those babies.
This sort of decline in maintenance standards is something that must be outlawed in a much more rigorous way than this act does. I also heard of one case where the landlord hired a person who appeared to be a rather menacing tenant and who wandered around the halls, either bursting into apartments or harassing people who went by. He was not an employee of the landlord; he was not an administrator of the apartment. He was simply a tenant most people would prefer not to meet in the hall.
This is another way of making tenants fear that their lives are not safe, that corridors and stairwells of the building are places where they may encounter such characters and where they can be subject to any kind of harassment or even possible criminal activities; this sort of activity of bringing in tenants and then not evicting them when there are considerable complaints the particular tenant is destroying the enjoyment of the property for very many people.
We also are creating a great many problems by not protecting tenants, and these problems come from the human results of such lack of security for many of them. There are family tensions. There is great concern when they receive an eviction notice, even though that notice may not be correctly placed. The tenants do not know all the rules.
There is great uncertainty about a family’s future if it does not know whether their building is going to be converted. When a conversion notice comes, they must have some means of finding out whether it is really genuine. This is another area that legislation must cover, to make sure that a request for conversion, and temporary eviction during that conversion, are really genuine. We have to have some means of the ministry’s inspecting proposals, deciding whether they are sufficient to require the tenants to move out and whether they really are needed for the maintenance of that building. lf they are intended to clear the building so that much more expensive apartments can be built, then we are not protecting affordable housing. Therefore we have to make the rules tougher for such eviction-for-conversion notices.
I think also that we have to make more requirements about informing tenants of the rules. I think it should be the ministry’s job to make sure that tenants are aware of their rights and that when they get situation ns of eviction notices that do not necessarily appear to be correct or of demands for renovations, they should be well informed as to what their rights are.
There should be a telephone number operated by the ministry within each municipality or available to people in each municipality that will tell them what their rights are and that will assist them in dealing with the various processes they must go through when they get a notice under the rent regulation legislation.
That is a place where I think the ministry is falling down, in not notifying tenants sufficiently of their rights. Without this sort of act applying to all apartments, many of those tenants will be victimized. Without assistance to the tenants who are covered by the act, in knowing what their rights are under the act, they will be victimized too. I think the ministry could also make this a much better bill if it brought in this kind of amendment as soon as possible.
We certainly do not want to see this bill not in effect, but we are trying this measure to ask the minister to make it a better bill before she asks us to vote for it. We hope that the period will be very short and that we will have a much better bill as a result of asking for some amendments at this late hour. We would not have had to ask for them at this late hour if the ministry had consulted people more about the drafting of the bill.
I urge the minister to think about this over the weekend and to come back on Tuesday with some reasonable changes in the bill. Then we will have a better way of looking at whether we will vote for third reading.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): Are there any comments or questions?
Mr Fleet: I am absolutely incensed at the irresponsibility on the part of the New Democratic Party and its willingness, apparently, to sacrifice the interests of tenants. It is absolutely unbelievable that they would be doing that, proposing to delay a bill that is --
Mr Fleet: I understand that they have indicated they are prepared to delay the bill.
Mr Jackson: What is that, a charge?
Mr Fleet: If that is not the case --
Mr B. Rae: No, that is absolutely false.
Mr Jackson: Absolutely false. Ask the member to withdraw his comment.
Mr Fleet: That was my understanding, that they are prepared to delay the passage of the bill. That is what I was informed while I was at committee, and I appeared in order to protect the interests of tenants. However, in the interests of harmony in this place, if I am wrong, I apologize.
Mr Philip: In the long tradition of the members for High Park-Swansea, whatever political party they belong to, he seems to be wrong again.
I did have a question of the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) and that is that in the particular community she represents, unlike my community where we have large numbers of high-rises, there are a large number of fourplexes, duplexes and so forth.
I would be interested in hearing from her how many of these are disappearing from the rental housing stock, who is being forced out, what are the types of people who are being forced out of their accommodation as a result of these conversions, and indeed how many more people are likely to be affected by the very fact that this type of rental accommodation is excluded from any kind of protection under this bill.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. There are a number of private conversations that are not helping matters here. Are there any other comments or questions? Does the member for Beaches-Woodbine care to respond?
Ms Bryden: The minister could announce today that she is going to bring in some amendments and I think that is a possibility we are hoping for. It does not have to wait until Tuesday.
The other thing is that as far as the statistics from my riding go, the ministry itself has studied the whole loss of housing stock and quite a bit of it was from my riding. I have brought to her attention certain individual cases where we have lost rental accommodation from fairly large apartment buildings, and it was entirely due to the fact that the tenants were harassed out of the buildings by some of these illegal methods I have mentioned, but the law never caught up with the landlords.
There is a fairly substantial group of tenants in my area who are seriously affected by the fact that the legislation does not cover them or has failed to protect them in the past.
The Acting Speaker: Other participants in the debate?
Mr Jackson: I am pleased to be able to put on the record some of the concerns I have with this intrusive piece of legislation. I, for one, was able to participate in the public hearings and the clause-by-clause discussion, and as a previous Housing critic for the Progressive Conservative Party had occasion to discuss the predecessor bill, Bill 11.
We all know it was brought in in a flurry of thrashings within the government over an incident which, albeit a very legitimate concern, was being experienced right here in the city of Toronto and was not symptomatic of a serious problem stretching out and reaching all corners of this province.
In fact, I look at the way this government is de-evolving its support and respect for private property rights. I see it having come in with rent control. Just as merit control in this province is becoming more intrusive, more regulatory, more unmanageable, more unworkable, we are seeing the second phase of this type of legislation, which prohibits a landlord from determining the future uses of his personal property, in which he has made an investment. In some cases, this includes individuals who have worked all their lives and put their life savings into a very small piece of real estate, a piece of rental income.
I can say that I also have some personal experience, having dealt with families who have come to me from time to time who have invested their entire life savings in a small, three-storey, walk-up apartment building, and have heard the absolute frustration and concern they have had with respect to dealing with yet another piece of oppressive legislation that affects their own future retirement benefits in the instance of many of these individuals.
It would be wrong of me to suggest that is the only group involved in the ownership of real property in this province that is applied for rental purposes. We know that it is an activity for major corporations, and we also know that under certain circumstances it can be one of the soundest and wisest investments anyone can ever make.
Having said that, I believe this legislation fails to approach the real issue here, which is to ensure that housing in this province is secured, that it is safe at all times and that it is affordable. I think where we in the opposition get into difficulty is that this government fails to understand the notion of affordability.
One political party would suggest that an apartment unit is affordable as long as someone else has to pay the bills and the tenant’s rent is cheap. There is no big dispute about that.
We do not really know where the governing party sits on this matter. I think the governing party still adheres to the principle of a universal program that anyone, regardless of his ability to pay or his income level, should be subsidized through rent control or be protected under this bill.
Quite frankly, I, for one, participate in a political party that has since understood that those kinds of policies have not worked in jurisdictions all over this world and in many jurisdictions right here in Canada, and those governments have seen fit to move to a more sensitive, a more tenant-based, income-levels approach to understanding the needs for affordable housing and to ensure they have safe accommodation.
Mr Mahoney: You didn’t think that way when you were in office, though.
Mr Jackson: The member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney) should know that when my test of conscience occurred on Bill 51, I at least had the opportunity to stand in my place because my leader said that I could vote my conscience on that bill, and I voted against that bill. As a matter of fact, my leader --
Mr Mahoney: Then don’t tell us your party agreed with it. Maybe you did; maybe your party did.
Mr Jackson: The member for Mississauga West speaks from two points of view -- it just so happens they come out of either side of his mouth -- the first one as a noted municipal politician who had very strong opinions about Bill 11 and about Bill 51 on rent control, but he came to Queen’s Park and to a caucus where positions are put down on paper and every Tuesday morning they are told, “This is where we stand and don’t worry about what it means, because the polls are telling us that we can survive this so-called principled position.”
So the member for Mississauga West, who wishes to participate in the debate, and he will have his opportunity in a moment, could explain why his record is so inconsistent, but if he wishes to challenge mine, I can assure him that is a position I have held for many, many years, and I will continue to until this province understands the principle of affordability and what it means: that people earning $150,000 a year do not need to be subsidized in apartment buildings.
Perhaps that is what the member believes in. Based on the recommendations of the Social Assistance Review Committee report, it is abundantly clear that there are huge numbers in our society who cannot afford housing when this government says it has given them ample protection under Bill 51. Clearly, the legislation is not working by the serious and tragic examples of the affordability problem for tenants on fixed incomes and on social assistance.
However, I am upset with this legislation also because it is predicated on the notion that tenants should never aspire to home ownership, that tenants should never aspire to the notion that they should try to create a bit of a nest-egg with their savings on which to build some equity. I can tell members that it worked in my family. It was the only way we were able to put my brothers and sisters through university. It was the only way my mother was able to be provided for in her retirement and in her widowhood.
I can assure members that it is inappropriate in terms of a social stabilizer that we would deny opportunities for thousands of citizens in this province --
Mr J. B. Nixon: There is nothing in this legislation that denies that opportunity.
Mr Jackson: Well, there is. The member for York Mills, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Housing, wishes to participate in the debate. I cite for him the example of Denyse and Judy O’Leary. It is even in today’s newspaper. This government has basically said that they may be involved in a criminal activity. What are they guilty of? One is a separated woman with a small child who wishes only to stabilize her accommodation, only wishes to create some sort of equity and future for her child, and yet she has to be made to feel by this government that what she was doing, to try and make sure that to find affordable housing she did not have to drive 60 miles out of the city of Toronto --
Mr J. B. Nixon: The courts decide guilt, not you or I.
Mr Jackson: Then let the courts decide. Do not take that woman through the courts with the kinds of statements that are coming from his government.
The Deputy Speaker: No interjections.
Mr Jackson: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The parliamentary assistant should familiarize himself more clearly with the important human side of the requests that are being made by some of those tenants.
The conditions and circumstances that were prevalent in the incident I cite at Oriole Parkway here in Toronto accounted for the concept of tenure for those tenants who were unwilling or unable to enter into any type of contractual agreement to secure long-term tenure through possible ownership.
The provision still provided for guaranteed tenure, but this government would not look at those kinds of opportunities to help people own property, to stabilize their accommodation, to ensure that a fund is created to secure the long-term needs for capital improvement and not leave this province to a future such as we have seen in Detroit, Chicago and New York, where similar restrictive legislation, through time, has allowed buildings to depreciate to a point where they are no longer useful or habitable.
I wish I had more time to get into this whole notion about the inability to provide vacant accommodation in order to effect these essential renovations to ensure that the existing stock of housing does not degenerate to a point where it is no longer useful and ultimately is forced to be razed.
I want to quote, if I can, a statement from the Multiple Dwelling Standards Association that I thought was particularly appropriate. It is my understanding that this is one of the oldest and longest-serving organizations in this province concerned with the issue of ensuring that we have maintenance standards levels for buildings and that they are not allowed to depreciate to a point where they are no longer useful, and therefore that older housing is not lost as a resource to any of our older urban centres.
They started their presentation to our committee with this question. I ask all members who did not have the benefit of the public hearings to consider this concept. They said this: “If you legally ordered me to drive a 1940 Pontiac for the rest of my life, and, in addition, passed a law forbidding me ever to take it off the road long enough to repair it, your actions would be labelled absurd.”
That was probably the clearest explanation of the effect of this bill, because housing is not just something lawyers talk about in a courtroom, as the parliamentary assistant will soon find out. Housing is a physical commodity. It depreciates. By depreciate, I do not mean something that is done by accountants on a balance sheet; I mean that there are buildings in this city that were built in the 1930s with open, bare and exposed wiring behind the walls. These are not safe buildings, yet we have a piece of legislation here that would specifically inhibit any opportunity for the owners of that property to ensure that safer, more standard wiring is applied to that building.
It has already been proven in a rather famous court case by the Multiple Dwelling Standards Association, and in fact a judge has ruled that you must provide vacant possession of a unit in order to effect certain remedies to a property. You cannot, for example, expect a child to be living in a room where extensive plastering is going on, because of the gypsum and the risk to the child’s lungs. You cannot have senior citizens tripping over bare, exposed electrical wires. Yet this bill specifically inhibits the concept of vacant possession in order to effect these kinds of substantive repairs.
The bill goes on to restrict even further a landlord’s ability to protect his own investment. But the point I raise here is not just the protection; it is also to ensure that the environment in which the tenant is living is safe for habitation. I have serious concerns about the manner in which this bill treats the issue of renovations and public safety.
The government, in responding to these questions, suggests: “Don’t worry. You remember Bill 51. We had a maintenance standards board.” That is interesting. I always thought the maintenance standards board concept was interesting, given that most municipalities in this province have no maintenance standards bylaws and therefore do not have the necessary personnel in effect in order to go and inspect these buildings.
When that was first announced by the then Minister of Housing, who is now the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling), I asked him a simple question the first day it came out in hearings. I said: “Tell me, have you asked anybody about the cost of this? Are you going to provide some money?” He said, “No, we are not providing any money.” I said, “Have you at least told the Association of Municipalities of Ontario what the associated costs will be?” Within 24 hours, AMO was notified and they came running down from Kingston -- the then president of AMO was the mayor of Kingston -- and made a hastily prepared presentation to say, “Why is the province of Ontario imposing basically a piece of legislation for the city of Toronto on the balance of the province and asking local municipalities to come up with the funding?”
The long and the short of that story is that here we are three years later and the municipalities have still not been notified. We know that we have a provincially appointed board -- friends of those who make order-in-council appointments; we have these individuals now in place -- to deal with the issue of maintenance standards, but we have no guidelines specifically in the hands of the municipalities in order to determine when an apartment building is at risk or is not and what can or cannot be approved under Bill 51.
The government really has lost its opportunity to assure anyone in this province that it has a bill it can manage. On the other hand, they insist that the municipalities cannot handle the necessary administration to administer this bill on their own. I commend AMO’s brief to all members of this House and hope that they would take time to consider some of the points because each of them represents members of AMO in some capacity or not.
I am concerned that on the issue on conversion, this bill took a decidedly anti-property-rights approach, which has been tried in several jurisdictions around the world; but it failed to look at a consumer protection approach, and that has been tried in other jurisdictions of the world. Consumer protection would be a more sensitive and fair way to go in this province. It would suggest that buildings could be of multiple tenure; that a tenant could reside with someone who owns a unit; that they could participate in a collective fashion with respect to future renovations for the building, and that the government’s current legislation could still apply in terms of the cost of rental within a given building that had some units which were owned and some which were not.
The government failed to look at that approach because it put pressure on the government to consult and to rethink its position on the universal nature of rent control. Until such time as it does that, it is going to lay more and more legislation on the whole issue of housing affordability and accessibility. Rent control started as a temporary measure in 1975, we all know it became permanent and all-inclusive, and now it has become totally unworkable.
This bill was brought in hastily by the government as Bill 11, with the same promise that it would be temporary; it had a sunset provision. Again we see the government now changing its mind. During the consultation period after Bill 11, it did not ask what opportunities existed for the government to plan for the future of Ontario’s housing needs. The memo from the ministers office specifically said, “You tell us why we should not make this permanent.” If ever a signal came from a government ministry that it had already made up its mind, that was one.
Quite frankly, as we have seen with rent control, Toronto had a malady but the rest of the province was forced to take the medication. We have got this problem all over again with Bill 211.
If I might, I would like to address the issue of process very briefly. I am very concerned that we are seeing more and more pieces of legislation come to this House in a very disjointed and haphazard fashion. Quite frankly, for a bill which has had its sunset provision extended for well in excess of a year -- almost two years as a matter of fact -- for this government to table 22 pages of amendments one day before clause-by-clause hearings was completely inexcusable and indefensible.
I understand that the Minister of Housing herself has been very busy in the House answering questions and making sure that she checks the conduct of certain people within her ministry and certain financial returns from the last election, but still, all in all, the minister has a lot of employees in the Ministry of Housing. She has a lot of people who could have been a little more up front.
I guess by the minister’s gestures to me she is basically suggesting that the parliamentary assistant she had asked to assist with this bill was occupied in that fashion, so perhaps I should withdraw the reference to her because it was perhaps her parliamentary assistant who was that busy. I withdraw my reference that she was that consumed.
There are 22 pages of amendments. Virtually every single public deputant before our committee had come and presented concerns based on a bill which her government was actually amending.
Mr Jackson: The minister will get her chance to comment. She knows the rules. She has been here long enough.
There is a lot I would like to say about this bill, about the specifics of how awkward it will be, how inappropriate it will be for the best interests of an accessible, affordable housing market in this province. We know that properties will depreciate to a point where they will no longer be useful or habitable. This bill will, in a way, only precipitate that.
In 1984, the previous government had commissioned a rather extensive examination of the whole issue of conversions arid renovations, and preserving and protecting old rental housing stock. There was a clear and distinct recommendation contained in that report by Peter Barnard and Associates, I think, who did the research paper.
There was a clear and unequivocal statement that based on their examination of other jurisdictions, the restrictive nature of this type of bill -- limiting condominium conversions, limiting renovations most specifically and not allowing the flexibility to replace new housing units for the opportunity to remove older, tired and perhaps unsafe units -- would mitigate access to affordable housing and therefore should not be a policy pursued by the government of Ontario.
The government has seen fit once again not to respond to good, wise counsel, independent research and, quite frankly, a reasonable course of action. It has, however, reacted to media reports and it has reacted to a political agenda. This government must realize that it cannot always react to something as significant as housing, something that will be such a stable and permanent feature of our society.
Many things will come and go, but we will always have a need for housing. Therefore, when the government approaches it from certain policy concepts, it must recognize its permanence. I know from my own ancestors who, as the minister would know, when they came from eastern Europe, fled from a kind of government that put undue restrictions on access to and ownership of their own property.
Those kinds of governments that destroyed private property rights created an exodus of the type of people we are very proud of today, who have come to emigrate to our province. There are many outstanding individuals on all three sides of this House, from all three political parties, whose ancestors came here for just that reason.
I for one lament and consider it tragic when we pass these kinds of bills which fly in the face of all that hope and aspiration that our forefathers had. I, for one, cannot be party to it and will therefore vote against this kind of legislation.
Mr Philip: I thank the member for his statement I found it interesting. I do not agree with his position on a number of issues, but I think he has brought up a number of interesting points: the lack of adequate compensation, the failure to really cost what this and other legislation this government is introducing will cost municipalities.
One area I would like to ask the member about, which I find I take some exception to, is the concept of a multiple-use building; that is, where there are both tenants and owners in the same building. We have had a series of experiences with that dating back to the Honourable Frank Drea, who as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was quite concerned about the problem a few years ago; and a number of condominiums have been concerned about it.
It seems to me that experience has shown, and the literature shows, that where you have a situation where the building is, for the most part rented and other units are individually owned, you have the worst of all worlds. You have tenants who are fearful of what is going to happen to their accommodation, but you also have owners who really do not have a controlling interest in the building and a say over their property rights, because in fact they are minority interest holders
I suggest to the member that has been the experience. There are numerous cases now where we see that happening and there is an awful lot of litigation on that. Notwithstanding the Condominium Act, people’s rights as owners are being affected, because they find that in buildings where only 40 per cent of the units are sold, they are at the mercy of the principal owner, namely, the landlord. So I suggest to the member that is really not a viable solution.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I say to my colleagues in the Legislature that, indeed, this is legislation that we as a governing party, as a government and as Liberals can be proud of. What it has done is balance the interests of landlords and tenants, interests that in many cases are different and divergent, and interests that in some cases converge and we seek the same end.
What the member for Burlington South (Mr Jackson) fails to recognize is that there is a very human face to this legislation. There is a very real human problem which he has chosen to ignore, because he has chosen to represent the interests of a very specific few in this country.
The human problem is the problem of every tenant in this province, in urban areas where there is a tight rental market. This legislation does not prohibit conversions, it does not prohibit demolitions and it does not prohibit renovations. What it does say is that tenants have to be adequately housed in equivalent accommodation at a reasonably similar price before you can go about getting vacant possession to renovate. You cannot just throw the tenant out on the street.
If that is what the member is looking for, if that is what he wants the legislation to say, let him stand up and say it but do not stand up and say this legislation prohibits renovation, because that is not the case. If he really wants tenants thrown out on the street, if he really wants their homes taken out from underneath them and demolished, he should say it, because it sounds like that is what he is saying and everything he has said so far today leads to that one conclusion only.
Mr Jackson: I would like to comment to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) that he has failed to understand the point I was trying to make; that is, that it will work, multiple use, flexibility for these kinds of units, because all that is required is a consumer-based, consumer protection piece of legislation. The government has fundamentally looked at housing as some sort of legal right and not looked at protecting the legal rights of consumers who acquire property, either as rental units or in ownership.
That was the challenge I made. So I suggest to the member that he examine those jurisdictions which have overcome the very problem by placing it in the hands of consumer protection. I draw an analogy -- when the member said that groups of owners and tenants are fearful of each other, I challenge him to approach this the way I have approached the issue of group home bylaws. That is, people who live in the community already are fearful of those who, for their own special social needs, require to live and have the right to live in the community. The same set of circumstances exists, and I believe that all members of this House believe that we should be overcoming those fears by promoting legislation which allows for that flexibility of accommodation.
We accommodate the same types of situations with social assistance and assistance for those people who need to reintegrate into the community. I merely suggest that jurisdictions have taken that noble principle and have applied it to ownership and rental and tenure and they have done it with great success. I believe that there is sufficient example that would prove that Ontario is capable of showing that same sensitivity and that same flexibility in providing accommodation for rent and ownership side by side.
Mr Philip: I am aware of the clock and I do not want to speak at great length, but I do want to deal with a few of the issues because I feel strongly about this and because a large number of my constituents are very directly affected by this.
The member for Burlington South is wrong, I think, when he says that simply consumer protection legislation will protect the rights of the owners and the tenants, because in fact, even in jurisdictions which have various types of legislation which they have experimented with, you still have the problem of the minority interest holder in a building that is owned, for the most part, by a principle interest holder, namely, the original landlord.
You just cannot build consumer protection, no matter how intelligent and bright you are, that will overcome that major problem. It has worked in some types of buildings. It has worked in some very expensive, luxury condominiums, where you can have tenants who are paying $2,000 or $3,000 a month, where you have very skilled and very expensive management. Then it can work. But in the average building where you have ordinary people who have to make many of the decisions themselves, it just does not work, because the odds are too great on one side: the landlord, with his lawyers on one side, and the minority interest condominium or unit owners on the other.
The member for Burlington South, though, does make, I think, an interesting point; that is, that the landlord and tenant legislation in this province has been piecemeal and this is just another small piece. Part of the problem is that the pieces do not fit together very well. I disagree with him when he says the government is merely flying by polls, because if there was anybody who flew by polls, it was the Progressive Conservative government.
Indeed, I think it was the poll in 1975, in which New Democrats had made rent review a major issue that convinced Mr Davis, a Conservative Premier, to introduce what can only be called very interventionist legislation, by introducing rent review. So it is not just this government that is going by polls. Indeed, if you look at this type of legislation and you wanted to please the largest number of people, you would see that, in fact, they have not followed that route at all.
Let me talk about some of the concerns, though, that I have about tenant protection. I think we are right when we say that there is a balance between the rights of property owners and the rights of tenants, but one has to look at what type of investment people make and in different ways.
I suggest that if the members look at the history of this legislation, way back even before Bill Pr13, which was the City of Toronto Act, we had people coming from the riding of Mr McMurtry, the then Attorney General, and from Mr Rotenberg’s riding -- I forget the name of the riding at that time -- saying primarily: “We’ve lived in this community for 40 or 50 years. We have supported the shops. We have built these churches or synagogues” -- in many cases; that area has a lot of immigrants of Jewish background -- “and we have invested a lot. We happen to be tenants. We’ve made a different kind of investment than the landlord has, but we’ve invested a lot. We have built the structures and the society, and now we’re retired and we want to live in that community.”
That posed a real problem. They were led by a number of community groups. One of these people in particular very ably became a councillor or alderman, as it was called at that time.
In looking at investment I think one has to look at two types, including the investment of individuals who are tenants and who, for a variety of reasons, are not able to own their own homes.
My father was someone like that. During the time I was growing up, we lived as tenants over a store. My father was self-educated. His father had died when my father was four, so he had to go out and work at a very early age. When my brother was very young he was extremely sick. They did not have medicare in Quebec at the time, so we never got to be home owners. But looking at the investment my father made in that community, it was substantial. He was president of the community organization. He organized all kinds of sports for children in the area, particularly baseball, but also some other sports. His investment was no less substantial than that of the lawyers and doctors who treated him as an equal when it came to community events, even though they lived on the other side of the community in very large and expensive dwellings.
I think it has to be looked at in that context. One cannot say simply that property rights are the only rights or the only investment. People have invested a lot in all kinds of ways and not just in monetary ways.
It seems to me that there is an unfortunate history of tenant protection in this province. First we had rent review, which was introduced and was fairly simple. I would argue that the Rental Housing Protection Act in its original form, while it had a number of problems -- the major problem, I admit, being the protection of tenants in buildings built after 1 January 1976 -- none the less had a dynamic simplicity built into it, which is not in the present rent review legislation.
As my colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) pointed out during second reading, the present rent review legislation is so complicated that it is completely confusing to small landlords and therefore they feel frustrated by it, but it is also very confusing to tenants. Indeed, if one looks at it, it is so bureaucratic that there are very long waiting periods for any decisions to be made. It is very frustrating for those like myself who try to represent the interests of our constituents at the Rent Review Hearings Board, because it is extremely time-consuming.
In my own riding, which has a large number of new buildings, we have the situation that if the tenants feel they want to challenge the large corporate landlord, then they are not in a position to obtain legal aid services, because they do not meet the legal aid requirement. So you can be a single parent, paying $700 or $800 a month in rent, paying 50 per cent of your income in rent, and be in a situation where 25 per cent of the building may be in similar circumstances to you, but because the other 75 per cent are in a higher-income bracket, if there is a problem with that building and you need legal advice and legal intervention on your behalf, you cannot get it under any kind of legal aid program.
That is a problem which the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and Metro Tenants Legal Services have pointed out to this minister, also to the Attorney General, yet we still have this problem.
There is an unfortunate history of opposition to this kind of legislation, first from the Conservative government. I mentioned Mr McMurtry and then Mr Rotenberg, who were strongly opposed to Bill Pr13; but before that, we had another interesting problem, that of tenants losing their units by a scheme called the percentage interest in a building with an allocation of an apartment. It was not a condominium, it was not a co-op, but you became a part shareholder in a building in which you were also a tenant. I can remember meeting with representatives of tenants’ groups, with Frank Drea as the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and he said: “This is a diabolical, unfortunate situation. I am going to have lawyer X in court and you’re going to see what I’m going to do to him.”
He never did do very much. It took two years before any kind of legislation was brought in to try and deal with this, and by that time a large number of buildings in Scarborough and a couple in my own riding had disappeared from the rental market and had become a quasi-co-op condo and so forth. In one case the situation was so bad that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, luckily, bailed it out and we turned it into a legitimate co-op. It is working well now, thanks to Lantana Non-Profit Homes, but a lot of frustration and fear and personal anxieties on the part of the tenants were affected by it.
Then we had the situation of Bill Pr13. The kinds of arguments that the member for Burlington South has made were made at that time by the representatives of the Conservative government. Bill Pr13, though, was not just a problem for Metro Toronto. It may have been a problem of demolition in central Toronto at that time, but we said it would be a problem that would affect all of us. So at the time of Bill Pr13 I introduced a private member’s bill that would spread the principle of Bill Pr13 across the province into all municipalities where this would happen. Of course, we have seen it was a problem that was spreading.
The then minister, now the Minister of Skills Development, introduced the original bill, saying: “The Rental Housing Protection Act will provide a breathing space while the pressures for demolition, conversion and luxury upgrading are supply initiatives.”
That was 2 July 1986. Of course, those initiatives have not worked; we only have to look at the front page of the Toronto Star today, which says, “Housing Crisis Worsens, Study Says,” and goes into detail about a study by the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto which says Metro’s housing crisis is getting worse as more and more people are squeezed out of the rental and home ownership markets.
If we look at the studies by that and other social planning councils, we see that large numbers of people are being squeezed out of the rental market, but they cannot afford to buy condominiums or other forms of home ownership either.
The minister asked for a breather when he introduced this legislation on 2 July 1986, a breather that would allow this government to study the problem and act. The government has had this breather, but it has not acted and it has not solved the problem. If it had, we would not see headlines like, “Housing Crisis Worsens,” on the front page of the Toronto Star today.
The minister’s original study, the compendium to the brief, basically says, “‘This is a way of dealing with the housing crisis in addition to other initiatives that have taken place for some time by this government.” Let me give the exact words: “In December 1985 the government made a commitment to create a new supply of housing and to restore and maintain the quality of existing accommodation.” Of course, that is in keeping with the statement by the then Minister of Housing, the present Minister of Skills Development a few months later that the government needed a breather in which to do this.
But what do we see? We see some of the programs by this ministry. There was the inquiry and study by the standing committee on public accounts looking at the Huang and Danczkay Ltd project. We looked at that some time ago, but I can recall the figures at that time. What you had was a situation where the taxpayers of Ontario were subsidizing a large private enterprise developer. At the end of 20 years, the units that were being subsidized would go back to the original developer So he gets the property back in a certain period of time.
During all of this time, if you calculated the amount of subsidy, you would find out that it was actually higher than if the government had gone out and built a unit and actually retained the ownership of it. lt is just a flat-headed kind of spending of taxpayers’ money. If you are going to subsidize something, then at least try to get the best deal. This is the kind of project that this government has wasted money on that should have been used to assist those people who badly needed help with rental accommodation because of an income problem.
When I pointed out to the minister that there were major problems with large percentages of the people who are in what are now rental buildings, namely those that were built primarily after 1 January 1976 but were registered as condominiums, she stated on 7 January 1988:
“There will be a discussion paper issued and all the concerns he has raised will be part of it. We will be talking to all the people who are concerned about this and will try very hard to protect the interests of tenants.”
I do not know whether she tried very hard. I assume she did her best. But the fact is that this bill does not solve that problem. The fact is that in my own riding some 49 per cent of the units are disappearing. They are disappearing a building at a time, as tenants are getting letters saying, “We’re going to sell this building; it’s going to be a condominium.” The tenants have no rights other than to challenge in court whether or not the purchaser is going to occupy it for his own use or for that of his immediate family. So you have large numbers of people who cannot afford the units being displaced, and it is happening one at a time. I can give you the addresses, but I dealt with that during second reading.
In a sense, the minister has either broken a promise or, for whatever reason, been unable to keep that promise. In my riding, our calculation was that tenants in 3,495 apartments face the strong possibility of being evicted. We have seen a number of these. I had said earlier 49 per cent; actually, it worked out that 47.9 per cent of the rental units I represent could disappear, and they are gradually disappearing.
Since then, there have been some other apartment buildings built. They are being rented again, so the percentage would be over 50 per cent, if we take those into account. It just means that 10 years down the road, they will be the ones that will be converted whenever we get another hot boom in the sale of condominiums.
The minister says that in Metropolitan Toronto only 74 units have been converted since July 1986 -- that was in her opening statement -- but if we look at the number of units in Scarborough, Mississauga and Rexdale that are being converted because they were registered as condominiums, then we get hundreds and thousands of units that have been converted in the last two or three years.
That is why the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations has expressed concern about this kind of thing; yet despite the concerns of these tenants, the minister has failed to deal with the problem.
We have also, as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine has pointed out, a general insensitivity on the part of this government to some of the major concerns of ordinary people who are living in apartment buildings. We saw that in an issue that I raised in the Legislature, an issue which the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and indeed a number of other people, including the Toronto Humane Society, have been concerned about; namely, that a tenant does not have a lot of the same rights as people who own homes when it comes to whether or not they may own a pet. I find that unfortunate. I realize that falls under the prerogative of the Attorney General, however, the various interest groups that are acting on behalf of tenants, namely, the humane societies and the Metro tenants federation, have in fact gone to the minister and said: “Please try to talk some sense into Ian. His hard line on this simply is insensitive.”
I would like to read just a couple of letters, because they show what some people are thinking out there. Here is a letter from a person in Ottawa who says, “Canada is a country where 80 per cent of the population lives in cities.” It goes on to point out that a large portion of these people are living in apartments and that if they are in fact in apartments, they should have the same rights as people living in detached homes. They should have the right to have a pet. It goes into all the details. It points out, as do numerous other letters that I could read, that the Attorney General, in his insensitivity in saying that people can choose either their pets or their leases is creating two kinds of citizens. I say that shows perhaps the personality of this government when it comes to this and so many other issues. It shows a complete lack of sensitivity.
This bill does not cover a number of people. My colleagues have pointed out that there are a number of units that are excluded. There are geographical areas that are excluded. The government has created a system now where it has actually created two types of tenants. I suggest that there are those who have protection and those who do not. That is a major flaw in this bill. That is why I cannot support the bill in its present form.
Hon Ms Hošek: I would like to thank the members of the House and, in particular, the members of the standing committee on social development for their co-operation in dealing with this important piece of legislation. There is no doubt that the Rental Housing Protection Act addresses an issue of fundamental importance to all residents of Ontario for long-term preservation of our rental housing stock. With the passage of this legislation today, we have in place permanent protection, both for the supply of rental accommodation and for the security of tenants in the province
The Rental Housing Protection Act ensures that those who wish to convert, demolish, renovate or otherwise change the use of rental housing in Ontario must first obtain the approval of the local municipal council by meeting strict criteria.
The new act also protects vacant rental buildings in the province retroactive to the date this legislation was introduced for first reading, which was 31 January 1989. Moreover, the legislation contains a number of important measures which will enhance tenant protection and improve enforcement of the act. In cases of harassment, the act provides for a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum penalty of $50,000 and one year in jail. As well, in such cases the municipal council may not approve any change to the use of a rental building for a period of three years.
In addition, new enforcement measures in the legislation permit the courts to return any units converted into municipal approval back to their former use and to re-establish tenancies in those units. In all, the Rental Housing Protection Act is a crucial piece of legislation which will enable us to ensure the future viability of rental housing in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Phillips: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor awaits to give royal assent.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed a certain bill to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The following is the title of the bill to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed.
Bill 211, An Act to amend the Rental Housing Protection Act, 1986.
Clerk of the House: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills in Her Majesty’s name.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The Speaker: Does the acting House leader have any words of wisdom for us?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Patten: Pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
As members of the House are aware, Monday 3 July is the Canada Day statutory holiday and the House will not sit.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will consider second reading of Bill 37 and committee of the whole House on Bills 22, 23 and 24. We will then continue with second reading of Bill 33 and committee of the whole House on Bill 93. Upon conclusion of these debates., we will deal with bills awaiting third reading in Orders and Notices, along with the private bills awaiting second and third reading. We will then continue with second reading of Bills 35 and 209.
On Thursday, in the morning, we will consider private members’ business standing in the names of Mr Black and Mr Philip. In the afternoon, we will deal with further business as determined by the House leaders.
The Speaker: It being so close to six of the clock, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock next Tuesday.
The House adjourned at 1758.