The House met at 1330.
The Speaker: I would ask all members of this assembly to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery, from New South Wales, Australia, a member of the legislative council, the Honourable Helen Wai-har Sham-ho. Please join me in welcoming our guest.
WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM
Mr Kormos: I wish to comment on the report in the Sunday Star of the Montreal hood and child molester who has been the beneficiary of Ontario’s witness protection program.
The community understands that in the course of detection and prosecution of crime and criminals, the police must use all the lawful resources available to them. Indeed, it has been said that the Marquis of Queensberry rules cannot be applied to the investigation of crime. The community is prepared to accept that persons must occasionally benefit from witness protection programs. Such persons can provide evidence and give testimony that would otherwise not be available.
But in the case of Robert Hétu, we have a drug trafficker who testified against his own assailant when Réal Simard was properly prosecuted for the attempted murder of Hétu. Hétu, we are told, was in a witness protection program with a new identity and income to support himself. In this new identity, Hétu molests young girls, sexually abusing them, victimizing children as young as seven years. He has been released on modest bail, pleading guilty to four counts and continues to walk the streets, his sentencing having been adjourned till October.
People are of the distinct impression that Hétu continues to receive special treatment because of his special status. The question to be asked is, when will we have set standards for witness protection? The Attorney General (Mr Scott) should act immediately to ensure that the witness protection program does not continue to protect criminals like Hétu.
Mr Harris: Four years ago, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party turned over the finest health care system in the world to the Peterson Liberals. It was not perfect, but it was one that was trusted and envied both here and around the world.
What a difference four years can make. Today, waiting lists, delays and broken promises are the order of the day. An $850-million Liberal commitment to create 4,400 new hospital beds has now been exposed as nothing more than a cheap election ploy. When caught, the minister actually has the gall to tell the people of Ontario we now have too many hospital beds.
I am sure that will be of great comfort to my 74-year-old constituent who needs a complete right knee replacement. This lady, who is in constant pain, has been told the earliest an operation could be scheduled is December 1992, nearly four years from now.
Despite the well-documented treatment afforded by these pious Liberals to groups such as the Red Cross and other home care providers, the minister’s lame excuse is that she is shifting focus from institutions to community-based health care. “People are telling me they don’t want to be institutionalized,” the minister thundered yesterday, “they want health care at home. “
I am sure my elderly constituent has a kitchen table, if that is the minister’s solution. Let’s get on with it; I will call the doctor and the minister can bring the knife. Think of all the money she will save. Think of all the luxury hotels she and her Liberal colleagues can visit. Think of all the election commitments they will not have to honour.
Better still, why do they not just think?
Mr Faubert: I, as well as other members, have been contacted by numerous Scarborough charities which raise much of their funds through the operation of bingo games. They have advised me of the difficulties they were having making their 20 per cent profit percentage due to what they identify as a saturation of the bingo market in Scarborough. As such, some charities which have grown to rely on bingo nights for their funding were finding that attendance, and thus profits, was down due to the saturation.
In Scarborough alone, between the months of January and May 1988, the number of licensed bingo events per week grew from 20 to 35 while the number of bingo players in the Scarborough area remained relatively unchanged. From March 1987 to today, bingo halls have increased in number from 118 to 240 across Ontario.
Other problems have also emerged, such as increasing monopolization of ownership and pressures being placed on charities to transgress the requirements of their licences. In addition, concerns have been raised with regard to the very integrity of the charitable gaming market.
Clearly, decisive action was required, and I welcome the decision of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye) to declare a moratorium on the licensing of bingos at new commercial facilities or halls. I look forward to the introduction of gaming services legislation to be brought forward later this year.
Mr Philip: I would like to draw to the attention of the government some concerns that have been shared with me by friends who are members of Coronation Branch 286, Royal Canadian Legion. It is their understanding that studies are presently under way regarding the future of the psychiatric institute wing at Victoria Hospital. One of the options under consideration is the closing of the Pl wing and transferring the veterans to other facilities.
The residents are veterans of the First World War and the Second World War. Many of them who have been residents since early post-discharge years identify the Pl wing as their home. To remove them from their home would be traumatic, to say the least, but in my opinion, to do so without adequate lead time and professional counselling would be irresponsible.
Many of the residents we are discussing have risked their lives and have experienced consider-able suffering in order to protect our freedoms. The Ontario and federal governments should therefore carefully consider the Royal Canadian Legion’s stand opposing the withdrawal of adequate funding by the provincial and federal governments to refurbish and renovate the Pl wing of Victoria Hospital. Both governments should make a commitment that these veterans will continue to be accommodated in the dignified manner they so rightly deserve.
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and concerns one more in a series of broken promises from her government.
In the spring of 1986, her predecessor announced the allocation of approximately $850 million in capital funds for the creation of 4,400 hospital beds province-wide. At that time, about $400 million was to be doled out to the central-east region of Ontario, which includes Simcoe county, for 1,557 chronic care and 748 acute care beds which are desperately needed in this area.
We have now discovered from the ministry’s statistics project that only 300 of the 4,400 promised beds will be in place by the 1990 target date.
It is extremely unfair for the minister to encourage Ontario’s hospitals to plan for the future when her government continues to pull the rug out from under them. A case in point is the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, which raised more than $7 million in a public fund-raising campaign after her predecessor gave the hospital board permission to proceed with a major redevelopment project and after she said she would consider approving the construction of a completely new second campus in Orillia.
The minister has kept the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital board of directors dangling over whether or not it can proceed with the construction of a second campus and now she is reneging on her government’s promise to allocate more desperately needed chronic care and acute care beds in Simcoe county. As I said earlier, hospitals cannot plan for the future when her government continues to pull the rug out from under them.
EASTERN ONTARIO TRANSPORTATION
Mr Morin: I want to share an announcement made yesterday in my constituency of Carleton East. Together with the Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton), I was pleased to release details of the government’s commitment to transportation in eastern Ontario.
In my riding, businesses and residents will benefit from the commitment of 50 per cent funding for the construction of the Blackburn-Hamlet bypass. At a total cost of nearly $35 million, the bypass will improve safety and reduce congestion on and around Innes Road.
The Minister of Transportation also committed an additional $60 million to the improvement of the Tenth Line in Cumberland. These announcements, together with the accelerated construction schedule for Highway 416 and other initiatives, bring to $314 million new transportation investment in eastern Ontario over the next five years, this in addition to the more than $130 million invested annually in Ottawa-Carleton.
These projects are the result of a lot of work on the part of local officials, community groups and business associations. The contribution of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce was extensively noted by the minister. The chamber helped to make the economic case for the bypass. They and all of those who worked on this project deserve the thanks of the community.
This initiative illustrates this government’s commitment to creating a safer community for Ontario citizens.
ONTARIO NORTH NOW
Mr Laughren: On 31 May I wrote a letter to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr O’Neil) asking him what in the world was going on at Ontario Place. In years gone by, the northern Ontario pavilion at Ontario Place, known as Ontario North Now, has sold goods produced in northern Ontario. After this government came to power, it changed that policy and has now contracted out the whole operation of the gift shop at Ontario North Now to International Cigar Stores Ltd. From that point on, northern Ontario producers and manufacturers have been given short shrift by this government.
It is time, first of all, that the minister responded to my letter asking him what in the world was going on at Ontario Place and, second, that they reverted to the old policy.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am very pleased to announce today the addition of several enhancements to Ontario’s services for cancer treatment and research. These are in line with my ministry’s emphasis on cancer care as a program speciality area initiative.
First of all, I am announcing the formation of a new agency to co-ordinate cancer services across the province. The Ontario Cancer Control Agency, OCCA, will be the largest agency of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in the world.
It is our expectation that the OCCA will strengthen Ontario’s existing cancer care network. It will co-ordinate our cancer services and act as an adviser on funding priorities. The new agency will direct the efforts of both the Ontario Cancer Institute and the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation. The OCI operates Princess Margaret Hospital and the OCTRF runs eight regional cancer centres.
The OCCA will undertake its very crucial role when a new Cancer Act, to be introduced later this year, becomes law. The act will outline the agency’s role and responsibilities.
I am also announcing today a new 12-bed paediatric oncology program at Chedoke McMaster Hospitals in Hamilton for regional cancer treatment of youngsters. It is scheduled to open later this summer. My ministry is providing a one-time developmental grant of $576,000 for this project, to be followed by $1.9 million in annual operating funds.
Also in Hamilton, we are providing the Ontario Clinical Oncology Croup with $450,000 to research new methods of cancer treatment and prevention. This amount will be provided over three years.
Earlier this year, I announced plans to establish a $5-million province-wide breast screening program for cancer. Dr. Carl Zylak of Chedoke McMaster’s department of radiology has been appointed to head the program.
We are also expanding our regional cancer treatment centres. The Windsor Regional Cancer Institute is to receive $800,000 to expand its chemotherapy facilities. With this funding, the centre will be able to handle an additional 200 cancer patients annually, for a total of 800 per year. The Thunder Bay Regional Cancer Centre will receive $2 million in capital funding for facilities to handle an additional 100 patients annually, to a total of 600 per year.
As I mentioned, this expansion of cancer services is part of the ministry’s concentration on speciality care. I have recently announced initiatives in cardiovascular care, dialysis, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, maternal and newborn health, and emergency and trauma services. With the new cancer expansion, we are continuing a commitment to this area undertaken earlier this year.
Mr Reville: This is one of the long-awaited announcements from the minister on enhancements to Ontario’s services for cancer treatment. First, I should say that the minister shared with the Health critic for the Progressive Conservative Party and with me some time ago her intention to form a new cancer service co-ordination agency. At that time. we were advised legislation would be forthcoming to do that. I am not at all clear, from the minister’s announcement today, whether we will be seeing legislation or not.
Clearly, the co-ordination will be a useful kind of exercise, although “co-ordination” has become a kind of buzzword for this ministry, and we see the appearance of co-ordinators everywhere. It is part of the matrix notions of the deputy minister. As far as people on the street are concerned, the co-ordination does not appear to have had any real effect at all.
The $450,000 for research into cancer treatment protocols really is $150,000 a year, and that buys a very tiny amount of research in these markets. We see an increase in capacity of about a third in Windsor and about a fifth in Thunder Bay. Clearly, those increases will be welcome in those areas, but we know that across the province the facilities for cancer treatment and the health personnel who do the cancer treatment are taxed beyond belief. Until this ministry begins to deal with the question of beds, the question of equipment and the question of health professionals, particularly technologists, we will continue to be offering second-rate cancer treatment in this province.
Mr B. Rae: I am delighted to be able to respond to the minister’s statement. The issue before us has several dimensions. We are, as all the industrial world is, in the middle of a virtual epidemic with respect to cancer. I see nothing in the minister’s announcement about any steps on prevention. I see nothing in the minister’s announcement saying the government is going to be producing state-of-the-art regulations on pesticides or regulations with respect to the environment or, indeed, some really effective action with respect to smoking, both on the tax side and in terms of other laws which are vitally necessary to stop the spread of smoking.
When it comes to treatment, my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) has already said very clearly that despite the minister’s announcement, there are many patients who are going to be lined up in corridors and whose treatment is going to be delayed for the simple reason that the technologists and the facilities are not available. If the minister thinks the treatment that is provided in some of our hospitals today is as good as it could be or as good as the hospitals want it to be, then I think the minister needs to think again.
The final point is this -- and I want to really emphasize this -- the minister talks a lot, and indeed her colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) talks a lot, about getting health care into the community and at home. I can tell the minister that from my experience, one of the greatest troubles that long-term cancer patients still have is with inadequate home care, inadequate delivery of services at home for them and the dilemma they face as patients when they are discharged from hospital, many of them in a very weakened condition. They are not getting the kinds of services at home that they need.
This government talks out of both sides of its mouth. It has talked about home care for the last four years but that care is still not being delivered; it is still not there. There are a great many patients who are living alone, in great isolation, with a great deal of difficulty and in enormous pain. They are not receiving the care and attention from us and from the health care system that they should be, and that needs to be said.
There is nothing in this announcement on prevention of this epidemic which has affected so many people. There is still inadequate treatment because of the general problem of the crisis in hospital beds, because of the lack of attention on the question of nurses and the question of technologists, and we still have the broader problem of care at home.
Mr Eves: I would like to respond to the minister’s statement in the House this afternoon.
There was a meeting, as the member for Riverdale has said, between the minister, himself and myself several months ago. I do, indeed, appreciate the opportunity the minister gave us to discuss the entire matter of cancer care across the province and I do support the statement she has made in the Legislature this afternoon. There are a couple of things I would like to see in the statement that are not there, but I have nothing adverse to say whatsoever about the statement itself.
We do need extra treatment in eastern Ontario and in northeastern Ontario, in particular. The cancer treatment centre in Sudbury, which is supposed to serve northeastern Ontario and hopefully will come on stream some time in late 1990 or early 1991, hopefully will alleviate that problem. I do say “hopefully” because we are in need of medical research personnel. We have brought that matter to the minister’s attention and to the attention of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on several occasions. I do understand there is some progress being made with respect to having Dr Ho make his way to Ontario and indeed to the cancer treatment centre in Sudbury.
Also, numerous other problems have been brought to our attention in the meantime with respect to radiation treatment, in particular the shortage of radiotherapy technologists at Princess Margaret Hospital. Because Princess Margaret Hospital normally has been servicing those people from eastern Ontario and non-eastern Ontario, there is still a shortage of treatments that are able to be performed. Many of these are of crisis proportions to the individuals who are not receiving treatment.
I do understand that there have been efforts made through various agencies to accommodate around 200, I believe the number is, of those patients. But that still leaves, depending on whose estimation you take, anywhere from about 600 to 800 cancer patients a year who are not being treated adequately now because of lack of services in eastern and northeastern Ontario.
I would certainly urge the minister and the ministry to work with Princess Margaret Hospital because I know they are trying to recruit radiotherapy technologists in Europe--l believe this week or last week, if I am not mistaken -- and they will be coming back to the minister to look for funding if they are able to find qualified personnel.
I think we should also be looking at overall manpower planning with respect to this entire field so we can ensure that in future years the province of Ontario can produce these radiotherapy technologists and other people in the health care field so we will not have to be going on junkets -- “junkets” perhaps is the wrong word -- journeys to Europe to look for qualified people and try to pay them or lure them back to Ontario, which would seem to be really our only answer to a very serious problem for a great many people in the province right now.
The last comment I would like to make is I think that if there is one area in which we in Ontario do fall down with respect to cancer treatment, it is palliative care. I have had several health professionals in the cancer field tell me over the last few months that in the area of palliative care Ontario indeed lags far behind some other jurisdictions. I would just bring that matter to the minister’s attention and hope that she would take that under advisement, as well.
Mr B. Rae: I want to return to the question of the plans that the government has or does not have for the disposal of garbage in southern Ontario. This problem is an enormous one. Its importance is tremendous. Its consequences for public planning are equally great. My question to the Premier is this:
There is some confusion caused by various statements that he has made as to exactly what it is that the government has in mind or does not have in mind. In the statement that was released by the meeting of the regional chairmen which was chaired by the Premier back on 14 March 1989, when it outlines in appendix B the various criteria for the bid that the contract will be subjected to, it states, quite specifically, on page 9 of appendix B: “All capital costs to be provided by the private sector.” This confirms the view which was apparently expressed by the Premier in private according to minutes that that is what he favoured, as well.
I want to ask the Premier if he is really serious in saying that he thinks that a public sector answer is possible. I understand there are statements where he also says that. How does he square that with the clear statement in the price proposal put out by the Metro chairman back in March that all capital costs would in fact be provided by the private sector?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not think there is any sort of discrepancy about our view in this matter or how we proceeded from the beginning in a totally open way. We take a co-ordinating position in this whole matter. It is the responsibility of the regions. As the member knows, they are going through a couple of stages in their thinking through these matters because our approach has not historically been taken in this province. We do not have any preconceived ideas except that we think that there is a better idea if it is all co-ordinated. There may be, shall I say, a mega-solution taking into account a number of regions. There may well not be because each of them have their own landfill problems, as my honourable friend knows.
What is going to happen is that they are going to put out to the public an indication of expressions of interest. Some people may have some expertise or some ideas to contribute in certain sectors of this entire project which is very, very large, as the member knows. It starts with a very strong public component which is recycling, an initiative of this government. It may lead to a request for proposals some time in the future. It may lead to a request from the regions to the provincial government to give it a special authority -- shall we say a public utility kind of an approach to this matter. Those matters are not settled at this point. It will come from the regions that have the authority.
I can say that the discussion in some ways is in its infancy because it is out for wide public discussion. The member has watched various regional councils and chairmen give their own views on the matter. He may have views on the matter.
The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: That is not what the Premier said back in March. That is not at all what he said back in March and that does not square with the fact that a deputy minister of the Premier’s government, Mr Church, is a member of the committee, a very active member of the committee; that this government has financed the committee up until very recently, and that all the staff work is done by civil servants and by the bureaucracy reporting to this government.
These are all facts. The Premier cannot suddenly step away from this thing because it is getting too difficult or too hot. It is there. The Deputy Minister of the Environment is attending those meetings as well.
I want to ask the Premier, when discussing the nature of the bid that will be asked for, what is the position of the government of Ontario, represented by Mr Church and Mr Posen on that committee and, according to the Premier’s own timetable, when the call is coming very soon?
Hon Mr Peterson: As members opposite know, that timetable already has been changed by the regional chairmen who have introduced a stage called “expressions of interest” that will be coming up some time in the future. It is all there. It is in their hands, not our hands. The member is getting so excited.
Mr B. Rae: You’re in this together.
Hon Mr Peterson: Look, I am not walking away from this thing, by any stretch of the imagination. The member has misunderstood this thing from the beginning and continues to do so. I find it very difficult to explain something to him that most people understand and do not find particularly worrisome.
Mr B. Rae: This process and detailed plans with respect to the disposition of garbage have been on the Premier’s desk for over a year. So he should not come into this House and pretend he does not know anything about it, or that he is just sitting around and it is all news to him.
The Premier’s government is involved in this thing up to its neck, and that is the reality. I want to ask him, what is his position with respect to the handling of this garbage? We have models south of the border where we know precisely what the problems are in the United States with respect to the disposition of garbage. We have good public sector models.
I want to ask the Premier, is he going to stand up for the public sector and protection of the consumer, or is he going to see it go off to the private sector and the investors who have such a stake in seeing that it is run for a profit and not for public interest? That is the issue before us.
Hon Mr Peterson: My old friend is dragging up his socialist rhetoric from 1915 and has not sort of progressed from that. He has an ideological hangup. That is his problem and he is welcome to it.
I say to him again that the decision will be made by the regional councils and regional chairmen. They will put forward to the province their views on the matter. They have the power and authority, not us. Yes, we have people there co-ordinating, working with them and bringing them together, which, the member may or may not know, is rather revolutionary in some ways around here. That is our role.
The member understands, and I repeat again, that the province does not have the power to make those final decisions, but we will work with the regions to try to find a co-ordinated solution. To me, that makes such elementary good sense and is so basic and obvious that I am not sure why my friend opposite is having any trouble understanding it except, perhaps, that he lives in an ideological straitjacket that does not allow him to see these things for what they are.
Mr B. Rae: Now that we are on the subject of straitjackets, I wonder if I could ask the Premier a question about automobile insurance, where this government has had so many clear plans over so many years with respect to dealing with this issue. It is now perfectly clear, after so many months and indeed years of study, that the government has no plan and no proposals to deal with the insurance crisis in this province.
I wonder if I could just take the Premier back to the statement he made back in September 1987 when he said, “We have a very specific plan to lower insurance rates.”
I wonder if he can tell us--it did not come from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), from the Honourable Mr Justice Osborne and it has not come now from the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, which has told us that no-fault insurance is not the magic answer that some people told us it was -- just what his plan is now to lower insurance rates? He has been talking about it for five years.
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the honourable minister can help my friend out.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman has indicated that there is no particular magic to any particular item that has been referred to the board. I think I can agree with him on that point.
In fact, our very comprehensive study of the insurance field is continuing apace, and in fact we use the particular study results to assist us in crafting a product which will respond to the needs of the driving public in Ontario and those who are injured by automobile accidents, in a way which is socially responsible.
This happens to be another piece of material which we can use to craft a very socially responsible program for delivery here to this Legislature.
Mr B. Rae: In case he has forgotten, let me remind the minister that on 23 April 1987 his predecessor announced that rates would be capped. That was thrown out the window. The cap fell off as soon as the election was over. Then in September the Premier said, “We have a very specific plan.” That plan went out the window the day after he got his majority government. Then he said he was going to have a freeze. That freeze came off on a basis.
Then they said they had the answer in their own legislation. They brought in the legislation; the minister who is now the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) said it was the magic answer. He said that anybody who thought the rates would go up dramatically as a result or that it would guarantee the profit of the insurance companies was all wrong, and that is exactly what happened. Then the insurance board put the rates up, some as much as 30 per cent; the minister said that we did not know what we were talking about then.
I want to ask the minister: When is he going to recognize that the people in this House who do not know what they are talking about when it comes to insurance rates form the Liberal government of Ontario? They have blown it and left the drivers in the province out in the cold.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman, for the purposes of allowing the public to be thinking something that is not correct, is again wrong. He is absolutely wrong. He knows that we are working along and indicating that a comprehensive approach to a number of the issues which inspire losses in the insurance industry is the way we intend to proceed.
We have, in fact, been working right along in conjunction with the Premier’s undertaking to deliver a good, socially responsible product for the benefit of the driving public in Ontario. That plan is coming together. That plan has bean advanced by the study of the auto board. That plan has been advanced by the background material from other studies, and I guess it would be helpful if the Leader of the Opposition were to pay attention.
But, of course, he is not interested because he is locked into that ideological straitjacket about which my leader spoke just a couple of moments ago. They have blinders on. They feel that they cannot sustain their credibility in the community except by promoting only and solely public insurance, which they say has a magic that will --
Mr B. Rae: What are you promoting, Murray? What’s your answer? Give us your plan, genius man.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Kormos: Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars later, we have yet another report. It is the no-fault report, the one that was heralded. What it has told us is that there are not going to be any meaningful savings to drivers as a result of no-fault; that there is not going to be a reduction in benefits; indeed, that it is likely to generate an increase in the incidence of automobile accidents here in the province.
There is no specific plan to reduce premiums in the province. There is a plan to reinforce the interests of private auto insurers. That is clear because of the restrictions that were imposed on the board. Let the minister tell us now, knowing all these things, the board having told them that no-fault ain’t going to work and is not going to solve the problem; it is not going to generate affordability for drivers in this province --
The Speaker: I am waiting for the question.
Mr Kormos: What is he going to do now in view of the fact that he has blown this one too?
Hon Mr Elston: I like the idea of using props in the Legislative Assembly. Please, let everybody note, that if one joins the NDP lottery, one can win something by becoming a member. Those guys have blown it too, because they have no idea of policy. They have not got anything that politically would really ever sustain them in attracting new members.
The reason is they think that because there is a report, that is the entire world. As I clearly said to the press and to the public, we have used that, with respect, as one part of our analysis of a very complex industry. We will continue to move forward with our plans to provide socially responsible and affordable insurance products for the people in the province.
I cannot possibly convince the group that is in favour of nothing more or nothing less than public insurance to look at other credible alternatives. They refuse to do that and what they want to do instead is offer a lottery, a chance to win for life, if people will join their party; not because of policies, because that, of course, they do not and are not able to promote in any sensitive --
The Speaker: Thank you. There are other members who would like to ask questions.
Mr Brandt: The turkey sales of our party are beginning to look better all the time.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Brandt: My question, and I do have a question, is for the Premier. The Premier, as well as many members of this assembly, from time to time feels that he is perhaps dealt with unfairly by those who report on the affairs of this Legislative Assembly and during the course of election campaigns and other activities.
I wonder if the Premier could indicate to this House whether on 7 September 1987 he said, “We have a plan to lower auto insurance rates.” Did he say that?
Hon Mr Peterson: I never disagree with the press. I assume that they quoted me accurately, as they always do.
Mr B. Rae: He has a specific plan to reduce garbage rates too.
Mr Brandt: I do not want to deal with garbage. That is the member’s subject.
I want to deal, if I might, with the Premier in connection with this whole question of auto insurance rates. When one makes a statement and is quoted, I assume that statement, unless challenged, is correct. If the Premier in fact had a plan to lower auto insurance rates, somehow or another the thrust of that particular program has escaped us in opposition.
We look with some interest at the meanderings of the minister, the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston), as he talks about lotteries and various and sundry other things in response to specific questions about where we are going in this province relative to auto insurance. I can tell members that this party is not caught up in any kind of an ideological straitjacket.
The Speaker: Could you meander into a question?
Mr Brandt: We are quite prepared to look at any reasonable response with respect to this industry. But we cannot accept -- Mr Speaker, I will get to my question -- the fact that insurance companies are folding up and leaving this province in droves because of the types of plans that the Premier is bringing forward.
The Speaker: Could you pause for a moment? Premier.
Hon Mr Peterson: The member can see that a lot of auto insurance initiatives have already been taken. He has seen the board that has been set up, and a lot of things have been discussed in this House.
Mr Wildman: The rates keep going up.
Hon Mr Peterson: Well, the price of milk goes up; there are lots of things that go up over a period of time. The member may not understand this, but there is such a thing as inflation. The price of a lottery ticket goes up.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: I will tell my friend that the price of turkeys is going up. These things are a reality. I can tell him that I think it has been controlled in a very responsible way over the last few years that we have had the responsibility for protecting the consumer. The minister, as the member knows, has a report in his hands that he is reviewing and that cabinet will review in the not-too-distant future. We will share those views with the member. If he has any views on the matter, we would be delighted to hear them.
The member is right that some insurance companies have altered their coverage, but as I understand it, there are something like 170 insurance companies in this province. It still is a large and relatively free market. Our friends opposite do not want it that way, and if the member has got a view on the subject, I would be delighted to hear it.
Mr Brandt: I appreciate the lesson on economics from the Premier relative to the increase in the price of milk. That is relevant to insurance in the context, I would have to say, of his comments that he was going to lower insurance rates. If he wants to justify them, then he should stand up and justify them.
The fact of the matter was that on 7 September -- l know that is a long time ago in past history and one’s memory tends to cloud over during those hectic days leading up to the election on 10 September. Where is the promise that the Premier made in Cambridge, just one hour removed from where we sit at this particular point in time, to lower insurance rates? Not to raise them, not to scare insurance companies out of the province, but to lower rates. That was the Premier’s commitment and that is the commitment we want to see him stand by.
Hon Mr Peterson: I have told my honourable friend that a number of initiatives have been undertaken in the last few years. He may not like them. I think his approach, as I understand it -- and there is a difference -- was to do nothing. We responded to the needs of the consumers.
Hon Mr Peterson: The approach of our friends opposite, like their traditional approach in everything, is to say, “If it moves, nationalize it.” I understand that. The whole thrust of all their questions is that the state should do everything.
I can tell my honourable friend that we have taken a responsible. regulatory view. The minister has shown great leadership on these matters, and I think even the member has to agree with that. Now it is in the hands of a report that has been publicly reviewed by the independent commission that gives independent statistics on this.
I want to tell my honourable friend something: Prior to the creation of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, there was no independent assessment of the numbers that were available. Our friends opposite would stand up every day in the House and say the insurance companies were making billions and billions of dollars and ripping everybody off. They would stand up and say the companies were losing money and they were all running out of the province.
What we now have are the facts on this matter, and I can tell my honourable friend that is a very significant step forward from where either of them are today.
Mr Brandt: If a significant step forward is a proposal for 60 per cent increases, such as came in from the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, the Premier can have his plan. We will come up with a better one.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, we did in fact explore with the Minister of Health the now abortive announcement of May 1986 relative to the $850 million in capital expenditures, the proposed 4,400 beds and the broken promise as it relates to that particular program. I want to remind the minister that some 3,000 of those 4,400 beds were in the chronic care category.
I wonder if the minister could tell me, according to her statistics out of the Ministry of Health, how many people are waiting for chronic care beds in Ontario and what the present waiting list is at this point in time. Those are my questions, but I say to her--l am trying to be helpful -- that the Minister of Health of the day, the present Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston), said that the waiting period in May 1986 was two years. What is it today?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Individuals are receiving varieties and levels of care in many of our different institutions. They are also receiving varieties and levels of care in alternative settings, such as their homes. We have expanded our home care provisions to acknowledge that many services today can be provided in homes.
As I travel the province, the advice that I am seeking and that I am hearing from every quarter of this province is that we should be focusing on people, on the services that they need and all of the places that new technologies will allow us to deliver those services, rather than simply focusing, as the member’s party did in the past, on bricks and mortar and buildings. We focus on people.
Mr Brandt: In 1986, the government made a point of bragging about the fact that it was the largest capital commitment in the history of Ontario; that was bricks and mortar.
Hon Mr Peterson: It is still true.
Mr Brandt: The commitment has been totally broken. Do not say it is true. The commitment was never fulfilled.
I ask the minister two specific questions: How many chronic care patients are on the waiting list today and how long does it take to get into chronic care facilities?
Hon Mrs Caplan: What is really important in this discussion is that we acknowledge that those people who are in need of chronic care services, which may be the highest level of care, will have access to them under the new level-of-care funding in the most appropriate place. Therefore, we are committed to meeting the real and changing needs of our communities. We want to acknowledge the people who require that service and know that they can receive that service on an inpatient, outpatient and ambulatory basis.
I can tell the member that, in fact, as we review our capital plan and significant capital dollars are expended on an ongoing basis to make sure that we meet the capital needs and that we establish our priorities very clearly in meeting those needs, we want to make sure that it is the appropriate care in the appropriate place.
The new policy which is being developed jointly between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services for a long-term care strategy, which will respond to the needs that people have and the opportunities that we have to provide those in alternative ways, will be significant. We have the highest rate of institutionalization in the western world, and people across this province are saying to me, “Help me stay in my home as long as possible.”
Mr Brandt: I am astounded to hear that the Minister of Health has no idea of how long the waiting period is, nor does she have any idea of the complexities relative to the numbers of people waiting at the moment for entry into chronic care facilities.
I will try another question with the minister. The minister is well aware that up to some 20 per cent of all patients who are presently in acute care beds in hospitals are chronic and could be moved into chronic care beds if the beds were available.
Perhaps the minister could share with us this number: How many patients who could be receiving chronic care services from our health care system are presently occupying acute care beds in our hospital system, and if they were moved into other facilities, how many beds would that free up for acute care treatment that is necessary?
I ask that question because the Ontario Medical Association --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Brandt: All right.
The Speaker: You asked it because it is question period.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The leader of the third party raises what I think is a very significant issue, and that is what services we provide in what location. I have been told by physicians that up to 50 per cent of the services presently provided on an inpatient basis could be provided on an outpatient and an ambulatory basis.
We hear talk all the time of new equipment to allow us to do things on an outpatient basis which formerly could only be done on an inpatient basis, so it is now focusing on the people who receive those services, which I believe are the priorities.
I am proud to tell the member that since 1984-85, until the end of 1988-89, some $988 million in capital has been expended by the Ministry of Health, greater than the printed estimates for that period, to respond to the capital needs to support the service requirements.
We know that beds are not the benchmark of services and that the facility must be built appropriately. The only opportunity we have is before the shovel goes in the ground. We are not focusing simply on bricks and mortar and beds. Our facilities should meet the appropriate need and we want to expand community-based services so that people will have access to those services where they want them, and that is in their homes.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Philip: I have provided the Minister of Labour with a copy of the Retail Business Holidays Act for his easy referral in answering my question, and I refer him to subclause 1(a)(x).
Will the Minister of Labour assure the House that any municipality which has used this section and declared Civic Holiday by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor to be a holiday for the purposes of the Retail Business Holidays Act can rely on this government to see that the large retail stores are closed on that day and that employees do not have to work on 7 August of this year?
Hon Mr Sorbara: First of all, I want to thank my friend for a copy of the bill. I am not sure that he quoted it exactly as it reads in the legislation, so I will do that.
This is the section, by the way, which sets out what shall be public holidays in Ontario. That is important, because the Retail Business Holidays Act applies to public holidays, as does the requirement to pay holiday pay and that sort of thing. Subclause (x) says, “Any other public holiday declared by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor to be a holiday for the purposes of this act.”
I do not see any reference there to a municipality proclaiming a holiday for the individual purposes of a municipality. What it says, in clear language, is that if the Lieutenant Governor in Council declares a public holiday to be a public holiday, it will, by reference, be included in this act and be a holiday for the purposes of the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Mr Philip: Is the minister saying then that despite the fact that a majority of municipalities have declared 7 August to be a holiday, under this act those municipalities will not have the ability of ensuring, and the acting Solicitor General and Attorney General (Mr Scott) and the Minister of Labour will not ensure, that the large retail stores are closed on Civic Holiday, 7 August? What is he doing to inform the employees and employers, if this is the case?
Hon Mr Sorbara: In a sense, I am doing precisely that, but I am also pointing out to my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale that if he rereads the act, he will understand that each of the municipalities he is talking about has the option of deciding that for its purposes on that day there shall be no retailing. That was the whole thrust of the debate in here, that municipalities ought to have that right and that option to determine whether or not they are open on public holidays. They have the authority; that is what they are able to do.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Municipal taxes on many apartment units in Metropolitan Toronto represent approximately four and a half months’ rent.
The Speaker: Order. Usually I allow members to ask questions and then the response to come. Sometimes it is helpful if all members would do the same.
Mr Harris: Municipal taxes on many apartment units in Metropolitan Toronto represent about four and a half months’ rent for the tax portion of their bill. This is up from two months’ rent in the 1960s. In other words, many tenants could be paying approximately the same municipal taxes as are being paid by owners of $200,000, $300,000 and $400,000 homes. There is no mention of this unfairness in the affordable housing statements, any of the policies the minister has released.
I would ask the minister, if she is really serious about providing affordable housing accommodation, why would she not deal with a tax inequity whereby if tenants in Metropolitan Toronto were treated through the assessment system the same as home owners, their rents could be reduced by the equivalent of up to three months or 25 per cent?
Hon Ms Hošek: I think it is appropriate for me to refer that question to the Minister of Revenue, who deals with matters of taxation.
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I think the honourable member is really mixing municipal assessment and municipal taxes. Municipal taxes, as the honourable member knows, are figured by multiplying the mill rate. That is what he is really addressing. I think he should be addressing his question to Metro Toronto, because it has been under the same assessment since 1940. Until they resolve their reassessment situation it is difficult to give him a precise answer.
Mr Harris: I am astounded that the Minister of Housing is not concerned. She wants to lean on the municipalities to do everything else. Here is an opportunity where-
The Speaker: Thank you. Order. The honourable member knows that if the response comes from a certain minister, the supplementary should be directed immediately to that minister.
Mr Harris: Immediately to the Minister of Revenue, I am astounded that his colleague the Minister of Housing has not lobbied him, contacted him and said, “Will you not help us clear up this inequity in the assessment situation?” It is an issue that the minister has dodged ever since he has been in office. It is an issue that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), when he was Minister of Revenue, promised to clean up. This is the whole market value assessment and the way assessments are done.
The Speaker: Your question?
Mr Harris: It is projected that if the trend continues, municipal taxes paid by tenants in privately owned apartment buildings of seven units or more will soon be equal to six months’ rent. If these tenants were treated the same as home owners --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Harris: -- we could reduce rents in these units by up to $2,000 a year. Why will the minister and his colleagues not move on this issue with the municipalities and provide fairness and an opportunity for affordable rents in the city of Toronto?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I have received a letter from the regional chairman today congratulating this government on the efforts we have been making since the last municipal election. We are trying to resolve the Metro situation.
Mr Cousens: Who signed the letter?
Hon Mr Grandmaître: The regional chairman or Metro chairman.
I can assure the honourable member that the Minister of Housing and all the members of the Metro caucus are trying to resolve the Metro reassessment situation. We are working on it and we are very close now that Metro has decided to create a task force, and it will report back on 13 September. We are resolved that we will find a solution to the Metro situation.
Mr Dietsch: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. A just-released report by Greenpeace calls for the Great Lakes jurisdictions to increase fines to polluting companies. I know my constituents are particularly interested in this issue, as my riding is bounded by two bodies of water in this system: Lake Ontario on one side and the Niagara River on the other side. Can the minister inform this House as to the progress of his ministry in the area of fines to polluters?
Hon Mr Bradley: I can do so, because it is an extremely important component of the program of the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that the laws in existence are enforced. In this regard, the member will recall that in December 1986 we increased 10-fold the fines that would be provided for judges to choose from for those in violation of Ontario’s laws. In addition to that, members will recall that there is a provision for a jail sentence for those who are in contravention of our laws and that we have a provision for stripping away ill-gotten gains from those who have broken the law and gained a profit because of it. It is a very extensive piece of legislation.
Our enforcement activities have been so successful as to increase our prosecutions by in the neighbourhood of 400 per cent. Correspondingly, following behind that, our convictions have increased by some 300 per cent. We expect that is going to continue.
Fines levied in 1988-89 total some $2,025,076, nearly double the previous year’s total, so it is quite obvious that those in the court system are aware of the level of penalties --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Dietsch: I know that from time to time in this House the opposition is not interested in the answers to these questions; none the less, these are important issues in my riding.
The Greenpeace report also demands that the Great Lakes provinces and states vigorously enforce the environmental legislation currently on their respective books. From time to time, it is important that we review the minister’s accomplishments in this area. For the benefit of this House and the members of my constituency, would he please outline some of the accomplishments there have been with regard to the enforcement of this environmental legislation in Ontario?
Hon Mr Bradley: The credit goes to the investigations and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment, which consists of people who are specifically trained in the field of environmental violations. I think that stricter enforcement and strong laws, in fact, have a very positive effect on the environment when they diminish the chance of people taking the opportunity to violate the laws of Ontario.
I indicated the figures on convictions and prosecutions, but I want to indicate as well that while it is important to have strong laws, thanks to our environmentally sensitive Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) the investigations and enforcement branch is strengthened. Under the three-year plan we are doubling the strength of that force to some 130. When you have that many people involved in enforcement, whether it is being out doing the investigations, whether it is doing the follow-up lab work that is absolutely necessary, or whether it is lawyers conducting cases in as vigorous and aggressive a manner as possible, all of these point to the fact that people who are thinking about violating the laws in Ontario know it is going to be extremely difficult.
Mr B. Rae: Get those kingpins. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.
Hen Mr Bradley: Even though the leader, who is running a sweepstakes now for his party, it says here, is jabbering --
The Speaker: New question; the member for Hamilton Mountain.
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. The minister has had an opportunity to look at the study we released last week. The study details some of the roadblocks which impede the easy and orderly movement of efficiency measures and independent generation into the system and which therefore have limited the ability of those alternatives to supplement the Ontario system in a useful way.
Last year, the select committee on energy heard expert testimony which detailed again many of those roadblocks, and the minister’s own studies that were done for the Ministry of Energy have detailed very specific aspects of those roadblocks to the implementation of efficiency and independent generation.
Can the minister tell the House what kinds of measures his ministry is looking at either to eliminate or to substantially reduce those road-blocks to future implementation of efficiency and independent generation in the electrical system in Ontario?
Hon Mr Wong: The honourable member’s question is one which has been plaguing all the electricity energy players in Ontario for many years. We are talking not just about the private sector, the small generators and the large ones, we are also talking about, of course, Ontario’s large utility, Ontario Hydro. We are also talking about the government role, particularly at the provincial government level.
In answer to the honourable member’s question, let me reiterate that the government has been working on a parallel generation policy paper and we hope to make it public very soon.
Mr Charlton: As part of the process of study which the ministry has been involved in, we understand the minister commissioned an update of the conservation supply curves and that the study is now ready. Can the minister tell us when we can expect to see that study released publicly?
Hon Mr Wong: I understand the keen interest which the honourable member and many others in Ontario have in seeing that study. Before answering the question, let me indicate that I had the opportunity the other day -- and I thank the honourable member for giving me a copy of the report he commissioned. I was a little surprised, on the 5,300 megawatts, to notice that there was a l,500-megawatt figure, therefore what we would call conventional energy efficiency.
As I have stated many times in this House, it has been the government’s policy and it has also been our instruction and guidance to Ontario Hydro that it should get on in this area of energy efficiency, energy conservation, independent power generation. I am pleased to note that Hydro’s targets are at least in line if not a little better.
But that is not the important thing. The important thing is that we see progress and results as soon as possible, because between now and the year 2000 and beyond, this province, which is growing very rapidly, is going to need electricity. So let me answer the honourable member’s question by saying --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Last month the minister was questioned by the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz) and the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) on the contingency landfill sites nominated by the greater Toronto regions for solid waste disposal. The minister said they would be subjected to a “full environmental scrutiny;” those were his words. He did not say, however, that this scrutiny would be under the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act. I ask again: Will every contingency site in the greater Toronto area plan be subject to a full environmental assessment according to the Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon Mr Bradley: As has been indicated very clearly on many occasions, including when the regional chairmen have met, the first thing they look at is a long-term solution for the municipalities which would choose to join. The member’s municipality, of course, has expressed some interest in that.
Any long-term plan out there for dealing with waste would come under the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act, which would have to look at all the various alternatives. It is a long-term solution. There is plenty of time and I think we would want to see a comprehensive look at that through the Environmental Assessment Act.
The GTA rules call for each municipality that participates to nominate a site as a contingency site; it may not be needed, it may not be used. We have indicated that there would be an Environ-mental Assessment Board hearing on that; that everything about that site would be given full consideration by the environmental assessment hearing board and that a decision would be rendered as a result of that.
Mr Cousens: The Minister of the Environment is having trouble getting the actual name of the Environmental Assessment Act on the record, because he cannot guarantee that these contingency sites will be subject to this act. He cannot guarantee this, because he has already told one of the regions involved, Peel, that its contingency site will not have to go under the Environmental Assessment Act but will only be subject to the Environmental Protection Act, which does not require the region to look for alternative sites.
In other words, the Minister of the Environment will be giving the contingency sites of all regions around Metro Toronto exemptions under the Environmental Assessment Act. My question is: Will the minister verify that he will be giving all contingency sites for the greater Toronto area plan exemptions under the Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon Mr Bradley: I find this a most interesting question coming from that member and coming from his leader, because all I have listened to for the last four years in Ontario in the Legislative Assembly is the leader of that party and some of its other members saying, “What are you people in Ontario going to do to help solve the garbage crisis in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area?”
The indication from the member’s party is that nothing seems to get approved. His leader gets up and lists the fact that there are no landfill sites approved and that the act is too tough and so on. Then the member gets up now and asks a question which implies that he wants it applied to everything. I have made it very clear and the regional chairmen have made it very clear. The long-term site is subject to the full provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act. The contingency sites, which are short-term solutions if they are required, are subject to a site-specific hearing under the Environmental Assessment Board, and the same rules will apply to each of the municipalities that nominate a site. That is what that party has asked for.
HOUSING FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
Mr Elliot: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I was pleased to announce in June, Senior Citizens Month, an allocation on the minister’s behalf of $6.5 million. This allocation is part of phase 1 and 2 of an extensive renovation of Halton Centennial Manor in Milton. The initial renovation will put 150 extended care beds in place at a total cost of $13 million. Our community in Milton is fearful that this announcement means the rated capacity of 370 beds in the manor is being cut to 200 beds. Would the minister comment on this possibility, please?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member has correctly indicated that the existing Halton Centennial Manor has a rated capacity of 370 beds, but he may also be aware of the fact that, because of the age of the building and the particular design of the building, in fact there are only 240 usable beds in that building. When we talk of down-sizing it to approximately 200, I think we have to use the 240 and not the 370. That is the first point.
The second point is that the $13-million renovation project is designed to make the quality of life of the people living in that building superior to what it is at present, in terms of greater privacy, greater access to washrooms, dining rooms, lounges and things like that. But there are two phases to the project, and that is just the first phase.
The second phase is that, in consultation with the regional municipality of Halton, we are looking at the opportunities to provide a range of community supports and home supports for a number of other people. The member will be aware of the fact that while this home is located in Milton, the greater population growth is in the Burlington and Oakville area. We want to be sure that the range of service is distributed over the whole region and not concentrated in just one area.
So there are two elements to it: there is the institutional element and there is the community element. We are going to deal with both.
Mr Elliot: I thank the minister for his comments. They should help alleviate the concern relative to the matter in Milton. It seems his ministry and the Ministry of Housing, though, have a shared responsibility in putting in place suitable and enough accommodation for our rapidly expanding seniors population.
What mechanism is now in place to ensure collaboration between the minister’s ministry and the Ministry of Housing on important housing and social service projects such as the renovation of the Halton Centennial Manor in Milton?
Hon Mr Sweeney: There is no direct co-ordination between our ministry and the Ministry of Housing with respect to the manor itself. That is entirely the responsibility of our ministry. But there is a great deal of co-ordination between the Ministry of Housing and my ministry with respect to the community alternatives I spoke about before.
For example, the Ministry of Housing and ourselves are looking at ways in which we can co-operate with it with respect to existing seniors apartment buildings and provide a range of onsite supports in those buildings to the people who are living there at present.
Second, there is a range of co-ordination projects between the Ministry of Housing and ourselves, whereby the Ministry of Housing would provide new residential facilities and this ministry, once again, in co-operation with it and operating at the same time in parallel, would provide a range of support services for those people.
What we want to be sure of is that the elderly people in the member’s region have the opportunity to make a series of choices, either in their own home or in a community setting or in an institutional setting; whatever is most appropriate. Either our ministry alone, or our ministry in co-ordination with the Ministry of Housing and in co-ordination with the Ministry of Health, will make that range of options available.
SENIOR CITIZENS’ SERVICES
Ms Bryden: I have a question for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. On 14 June she released a special report prepared by the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens called Ageing Together: An Exploration of Attitudes Toward Ageing in Multicultural Ontario.
I congratulate the advisory council on the depth and comprehensiveness of this report based on widespread consultation with many ethnocultural groups. The report contains 70 recommendations.
As the report found that seniors from ethnic groups faced many of the same problems that other seniors face, I would like to ask the minister why her ministry is not doing more to get government action to meet the most serious ones mentioned, namely: affordable housing, homemakers and home care services, regulation of rest and retirement homes, access to health care and the income needs of seniors. Why is her ministry not getting more action on these serious problems?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens did wide consultations all across the province, met with more than 500 groups and individuals in many centres to discuss multicultural issues as they pertain to seniors.
The report the member mentioned, which has been released widely, contains more than 70 recommendations. Many of these recommendations deal directly with several ministries. All those ministries are now looking at those recommendations. I have received responses already from many of them. My intention is to meet then with a group of ministers to discuss how we can implement many of these recommendations broadly across government.
Ms Bryden: The report stressed that ethnic seniors need information on available services in formats other than in written English or French. What is the minister’s ministry doing to increase the availability of interpreter services on a regional basis and to consider the needs of both literate and illiterate seniors, as well as to sensitize service providers of all kinds to the special needs of ethnic group seniors?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs has been working with the University of Toronto in developing a guide called Ethnicity and Aging. Many of the issues that you present today are also in that guide, which has been circulated widely so that many of the care givers and care providers across the province can have their consciousness raised on the issues that you suggest are of concern to ethnic seniors.
We are also working with the Ministry of Citizenship to include our written documents for seniors in several different languages. This year we added three more; next year we intend to do two more.
The specific area the member mentions has to do with providing resources in other than a written communication. I think that is quite appropriate. As I say, the recommendations are before us now and we are working with the other ministries. They are good recommendations, ones that we intend to follow up.
We have done a great deal. There is a great deal more to be done. I look forward to having the co-operation of my cabinet colleagues, as well as other interested members of the House in bringing that to an effective conclusion.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Brandt: I had hoped to ask this question of the Premier (Mr Peterson), but in view of his absence I will ask the question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
I have in my hand a copy of the 1987 advertisement leading up to the election. This full-page ad, as the minister will know, ran for that election, and I read the number of commitments that were made, one of which relates to free trade, and we know the Liberal promise to stop free trade did not work out all that well. The second promise was to provide 4,000 chronic and acute care beds. We have already heard the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) renege on that one. There were 102,000 affordable rental units promised by 1989; another failure.
The question that I have is in regard to agriculture. In that same ad, there was an indication that the minister was prepared to help farmers in financial crisis. I want to ask the minister, how can he possibly say that in 1987 he was prepared, and make a commitment to the people of Ontario that he is going to help farmers in financial crises when he is now refusing to go along with a federal-provincial program that will put $150 million worth of assistance in the hands of Ontario farmers?
Hon Mr Riddell: That is not the case. In fact, we have been very co-operative with the federal government. I have written to Charlie Mayer and I have recommended the names for his committee, because it is a federal program. The drought relief is a federal program; no consultation with the provinces on the program whatsoever; no consultation about the cost of the program.
It is his committee that he wants to establish, but I did recommend names of Ontario producers who could well go on his committee. We have been co-operating.
Mr Brandt: The minister knows full well that every province but Ontario has already agreed to go along with the program. When he talks in terms of lack of co-operation, Ontario is standing by the side of the road watching the parade go by while farmers are going into bankruptcy in this province. Why will he not make a decision? Why will he not take some action and why will he not show some leadership?
The Speaker: There are three questions.
Hon Mr Riddell: Since we formed the government four years ago, we have increased the agricultural budget by 82 per cent, and if you talk in terms of direct payments to farmers to help out with their financial difficulties, we have increased the agricultural budget by over 100 per cent. We do not take a back seat to anyone from the standpoint of our commitment to the agriculture and food industry, and we are doing far more than our predecessors, the Tories, when they were controlling the reins.
COULTER FINANCIAL CORP
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. The minister will know that in recent days there has been an unfortunate development regarding financial institutions in the Ottawa area. As he probably knows, a major mortgage lending company has gone into receivership.
May I ask the minister what his ministry is doing to protect the investments that have been placed by many people in the Ottawa area in this company?
Hon Mr Elston: I thank the member for Nepean for asking the question. This is a very important issue in the Ottawa area and I have been in touch with all of the members from that area, in consideration of the very important nature of investments and how they are affected by this particular unfortunate set of circumstances. We currently have a team of people in Ottawa reviewing, in conjunction with others, including the receiver, all of the investment portfolios and going through those one by one to establish whether there is any softness in the assets, so that we then can inform people who have inquiries of us as to the status of their investments.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that in conjunction with that study we also will be doing a review of any regulation required with respect to the Mortgage Brokers Act, and further that as information unfolds, we will be responding to the specific inquiries coming from each of the members who have been representing the interests of their constituents to me in this very difficult situation.
Mr Charlton: I have a petition signed by 63 residents of the riding of Hamilton Mountain.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We urge the Liberal government to scrap Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
The petition goes on to detail a number of the reasons why Bill 162 should be scrapped. I have added my signature to the petition. I support its intent.
Mr Fleet: I have a petition signed by 77 individuals resident in Ontario who apparently are patients of a naturopathic practice of Dennis O’Hara. This petition is properly addressed and says:
“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 practice their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
In accordance with the provisions under the standing orders, I have signed this petition.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have two petitions signed by 64 members of the Injured Workers Association of Sault Ste Marie, which read as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Bill 162 is likely to result in substantial limits to benefits to injured workers; and
“Whereas Bill 162 will significantly limit assistance available to injured workers for retraining and re-entering the workforce; and
“Whereas Bill 162 will likely result in substantial additional costs to taxpayers since many injured workers will become recipients of government disability benefits and welfare assistance; and
“Whereas Bill 162 provides for more restricted rights to reinstatement in the workplace than already exist in Ontario under the Human Rights Code; and
“Whereas Bill 162 results in insecurity for the injured worker as to the benefits to which he will be entitled and the length of time he will be entitled to such benefits by extending an already existing and unjustifiable amount of discretionary power upon the board with respect to interpreting the Workers’ Compensation Act and setting policies around the administration of that act,
“We, the undersigned, hereby call for the immediate withdrawal of Bill 162 and for a human and well-reasoned approach to assisting injured workers to return as active members of the workforce and to adequately compensate those who are unable to return as a result of work-related injuries.”
I have affixed my signature to these petitions and ask the government to act on them today.
Mr D. W. Smith: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is signed by 21 people from the Sarnia-Lambton area.
“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 will affix my name to the bottom.
Mr Epp: I have a petition signed by 91 people, most of them from the constituency of Waterloo North. It is addressed to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it deals with the teachers’ superannuation fund. I have signed it, as required for petitions to this Legislature.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Furlong from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill Pr32, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Mr Epp from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly presented the committee’s first report on election laws and process and requested that the government table a comprehensive response within 120 days pursuant to standing order 32(d).
Mr Conway moved that the standing committee on the Ombudsman be authorized to meet today following routine proceedings.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
WORKERS COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 LOI DE 1989 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES ACCIDENTS DE TRAVAIL
Consideration of Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Deputy Chairman: Would the Minister of Labour and other members wishing to present amendments at this time please indicate the sections on which they wish to render comments or ask questions about, bearing in mind the special order that we have with respect to this proceeding here today.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, might I just first seek your consent to pack up my toys here and join you down in the front row for the duration of the committee of the whole House consideration of Bill 162? We will be presenting a package of amendments in accordance with the notice of motion and regular procedure.
The Deputy Chairman: Yes, the minister may move and the staff may enter the chamber.
Mr Reville: The New Democratic Party has no objection to the minister bringing his toys down to the table.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.
The Deputy Chairman: The member for Nickel Belt has a point of order.
Mr Laughren: I do not know if it is strictly a point of order. I wonder whether the minister could indicate to us whether he has any new amendments to add during this session.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Indeed, there are a number of new amendments, if you like. Let me just indicate to the committee that when the standing committee on resources development began its meetings on 25 May, if I recall correctly, there were a number of amendments that we indicated we would be presenting during committee consideration of the bill.
In fact, we prepared a version of the bill which was distributed to committee members, a version which looks very much like a bill that we would consider in this House except that written on the bottom is, “Reprinted to show amendments proposed by the Minister of Labour,” and that was for the convenience of members of the resources development committee. All of those amendments will be moved during the committee of the whole House consideration of this bill.
In addition to that, there are some few additional amendments that we are going to --
Mr B. Rae: How many?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I will tell the member in a second.
The first is of a substantive nature and deals with the question of multi-employer plans where benefits for workers are managed and are provided for by a plan under a trusteeship. We will be proposing a substantive amendment in that area.
Other than that, we will be proposing seven amendments of an entirely technical nature. I will be providing the table, obviously, and members of the committee with copies of those, but those are of an entirely technical nature.
The Deputy Chairman: For the sake of the record, and for some order here before we launch into any debates, could I ask the minister to recite the section numbers, in order, of the government amendments?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am just about to do that, but I will provide copies of those for the table.
Just let me go through the package of amendments: section 3 of the bill; section 3a; section 7; section 8; section 8a -- that will be a new amendment; subsection 10(1); subsection 10(2) of the bill; subsection 11(2); section 12; section 15 -- there will be six amendments to section 15; section 16; section 19; four amendments to section 20; sections 22a and 22b; section 24; section 25; section 27; section 28, a second one to section 28 and then a motion to add sections 28a and 28b; section 29; and finally, subsection 30(2).
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I was just wondering about the new amendments the minister has just talked about. My House leader pointed out to me that standing order 64, page 19 of the standing orders, reads as follows:
“When time permits,” -- and surely time permits in this case--“amendments proposed to be moved to bills in any committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the House at least two hours before the bill is to be considered, and copies of such proposed amendments shall be distributed to all parties.”
Since we are in committee of the whole House this afternoon, I would assume that standing order 64 would apply in this case. I am somewhat puzzled, given the length of time the minister has had to consider new amendments on top of the, I believe, 17 that were already tabled in the standing committee on resources development, how it is that we would have these new amendments presented to us this afternoon without them being distributed to all parties.
Hon Mr Sorbara: There may have been some confusion when I --
Mr Hampton: There’s been a lot of confusion.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Hold on a second. There may have been some confusion when I read out the list of amendments that were going to be considered in the committee of the whole. The ones I have just finished reading out were, in all but a few cases, amendments that were tabled with the resources development committee prior to the beginning of the hearings.
Mr D. S. Cooke: We’re asking about the few cases.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Okay. Within the subsections and the sections I listed there is included one substantive amendment dealing with multi-employer plans and some seven technical amendments that change slightly the structure, in one case putting together two amendments without any word changes at all. I can go through those one by one if members want at this point, but they are of an entirely technical nature.
Mr D. S. Cooke: What about the one substantive one?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There is, as my friend the member for Windsor-Riverside says, one substantive one dealing with multi-employer plans.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, if I might. Mr Chairman --
The Deputy Chairman: First. may I ask, do you have copies of these amendments?
Mr Laughren: No.
The Deputy Chairman: Could the opposition parties be supplied with copies of the amendments?
Mr Laughren: On that point of order, if I might. As we have progressed with this bill, there have been many of us who have been concerned about the way in which the amendments have been presented and not distributed to all parties. It surely makes a sham of the closure motion, or the time allocation motion, that was passed in this assembly yesterday afternoon that the closure motion or the time allocation motion was put presumably as the minister was scrambling to prepare amendments.
There is something missing in this equation. Was the House leader not worried that the time allocation motion would take effect, that we would start debating the bill, before the minister had completed his new amendments? Was that not of some concern to the government House leader?
Hon Mr Conway: On that point of order, I just want to make plain that I heard very clearly what the Minister of Labour said. He has indicated that there is one additional substantive amendment, which is surely not unreasonable at the committee of the whole stage. The honourable members opposite now have that.
Mr Laughren: It hasn’t been ready for a month.
Hon Mr Conway: The resources committee had every opportunity to consider amendments, but for a variety of --
Hon Mr Conway: I just make the point that what the minister has said is that there is one additional substantive amendment and a number of technical amendments that I do not believe are at all significant. We have a number of hours now to deliberate upon them.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, on a new point of order: I should point out, because the member for Nickel Belt suggests I am proposing, as we get under way in committee of the whole, to deal with a new substantive matter, even though I think he would be aware of this, that the whole issue of multi-employer plans is in the bill. So, in some respects even that amendment is technical.
My point of order is that I think it would be inappropriate for the opposition party to suggest that this is a new matter that has not been the subject of discussion, when his leader, some couple of days ago, said to me in passing that he had received a number of calls on this very section. I acknowledged to him in the hallways of this place that, yes indeed, I was aware of the problem and I was meeting with the interested parties on that very day to consider what rearrangement and how we could technically adjust that section to make it more acceptable to both of the constituencies that were concerned.
I just hope my friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren), who was the chairman of the standing committee on resources development when it was considering this bill, is not suggesting that at this point the government is attempting to bring into the committee matters that he, his leader or his party are wholly unaware of.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The minister did not speak on the point of order. We are not talking about the minister and any explanation he has about his amendments. We are asking you, Mr Chairman, to rule.
It is very clear that what has happened here over the last week is that the government brought in a closure motion which involved time allocation, a limit of two days in the committee of the whole House consideration of this bill.
I remember specifically asking the minister last week when we were debating whether the time allocation motion was in order or not and asking him if there were any new amendments. He sat in his chair and he smiled. He obviously knew last week that he had these additional eight amendments.
The standing orders are very clear, Mr Chairman, and I would like to ask how you are going to rule. There are eight amendments here that have just been dropped on us today. It would seem to me that the procedure is out of order.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I just might make one final comment on this matter. I am not sure what standing order the member for Windsor-Riverside is referring to, but I do want to advise you, Mr Chairman, that two days ago during question period-
Mr B. Rae: Yesterday.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am sorry, yesterday. I provided the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) with a copy of the draft amendment that we were going to be proposing in this House.
Mr D. S. Cooke: All eight amendments?
Hon Mr Sorbara: No, only the one substantive one. If my friend is suggesting that we ought not even to deal with minor technicalities --
Mr D. S. Cooke: How are we supposed to judge if they are substantial or minor?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am just trying to put as much information in front of the chair as possible.
Mr Pope: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.
The Deputy Chairman: Can we have a little order? The member for Cochrane South on a point of order.
Mr Pope: This matter, of course, has become a procedural quagmire.
Mr Ballinger: Quagmire?
Mr Pope: The government has to accept responsibility for it, and while the yahoos from the Liberal caucus are yelling in the background, this bureaucratic nightmare of a legislative process is the making of a government and a minister who have ignored the will of the people on the legislation and are forcing it through the House.
The rules of order and standing order 64 provide for no discretion. Amendments have to be provided properly by the government, and if they are not provided properly, they are not in order. We ask you to rule that way.
The Deputy Chairman: Perhaps we could reduce the tempers a bit. You are trying to help me decide a question of order, not fight with one another.
Hon Mr Conway: I want to just say to the point that the time allocation motion which the House passed last evening begins with “That, notwithstanding any other order of the House.” That is point number one.
Mr Pope: So there are no rules.
Hon Mr Conway: No, there are rules.
Mr B. Rae: So the standing orders are gone. Okay.
Hon Mr Conway: No, they are not gone at all. But the order for the consideration of this bill, Bill 162, at the committee of the whole stage and at third reading, is, I remind particularly my friend the member for York South, the time allocation motion that we passed. That is the order of the House that governs that. It was passed last night. I want to make that as my first point.
The second point is that standing order 64 begins with the clause, “When time permits, amendments” --
Mr D. S. Cooke: And you didn’t have this ready.
Hon Mr Conway: I just want to say to my friends opposite that from my point of view, I expected, and I wrote the time allocation with this expectation in mind, that in the first day of the consideration of this we would anticipate a number of amendments. That is why I fully expected that the members of the official opposition or members of the third party might very well have amendments that they wanted entertained. In light of how standing order 64 is written and in light of how the time allocation motion -- which is now the order governing the consideration and passage of this particular bill through these stages--is written, I do not see that as a particular difficulty and I would hope my friends opposite would agree with me.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think the government House leader knows very clearly that the reason standing order 64 is worded the way it is, is that quite often when we are dealing with amendments in committee of the whole House or in standing committees, there are amendments that are worked out while we are debating. That is why it says, “When time permits.” In this particular case, these are government amendments that were prepared, but they were just simply not shared with the opposition parties.
In terms of the time allocation motion, I would not agree with the government House leader that he contemplated not sharing amendments and that the motion itself stood aside standing order 64. Last week he said very clearly that we only needed two days in committee of the whole because we had received all the amendments on 25 May. Now today we are told that there are eight additional amendments.
I think it is very clear, Mr Chairman, that this is out of order, the procedure is out of order, and you are going to have to rule.
The Deputy Chairman: Which I am prepared to do.
Standing order 64 does indicate, “When time permits, amendments proposed...shall be filed with the Clerk,” so it would appear that, time permitting, that would be the case.
The reality is that around here it is common practice that amendments evolve as the committee of the whole embarks upon and engages in clause-by-clause consideration of bills. Therefore, it is not unusual for no notice to be given of amendments or proposed amendments.
Furthermore, we are today conducting proceedings in accordance with a special order of this House which exempts itself from the normal standing orders. The special order indicates quite clearly that amendments may be proposed and filed with the Clerk at any time up until 6 pm tonight. Therefore, it would appear to me that if amendments are proposed or filed with the Clerk any time before 6 pm tonight, they are in order.
Could I ask the opposition parties what amendments they propose to this bill, or what sections --
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I am sorry to interrupt, but I think that there is an important principle here and I think that if you persist in your ruling that it is in order for the government to lay these amendments on us without the requirements of rule 64 because of the time allocation motion, then we shall have no option but to challenge that ruling.
Hon Mr Conway: I want to say on that, Mr Chairman, I appreciate your ruling, but I am very sympathetic to what my friends in the opposition are saying. This has been tough for us all and I do not want to make it any more difficult, and I have to listen to what they have said. I am very sympathetic to the strength of their views in this connection. I must say I am going to be asking my colleague, I think, to withdraw those amendments, because quite frankly, I do not want to --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Withdraw all eight?
Hon Mr Conway: I am talking about the amendments that are being introduced beyond the package, if that is what is at issue. I am listening to this debate and I know what is coming here and I do not want to make this any more difficult for anybody.
The Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) introduced some time ago a package of amendments to this bill. Those have been widely circulated, as I understand it. This afternoon he has indicated that there were going to be additional amendments, seven of them technical and one of them substantive. Now the Minister of Labour tells me that he shared the substantive amendment with the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.
Mr B. Rae: That is true; but not with the Conservatives.
Hon Mr Conway: But it is not the member for Cochrane (Mr Pope) or the member for Sarnia (Mr Brandt) or the member for-
Mr D. S. Cooke: There are seven other amendments.
Hon Mr Conway: I just have to say I want some debate on the bill. I do not want for ever a procedure wrangle. I want to just simply give perhaps the Minister of Labour an opportunity to comment while I think about this a little further in light of what --
Mr B. Rae: Put them forward as notice.
Hon Mr Conway: The Leader of the Opposition makes a good point, that we put them forward, which would be allowed under the terms of the time allocation motion. They could be given notice of today and dealt with tomorrow.
The Deputy Chairman: Could I just clarify one thing first? None of these amendments have in fact been moved at this point. I would suggest that if you wish to stand them down until 6 pm, at which time they can be filed with the Clerk and dealt with tomorrow, that would be within the terms of the special order of the House for these proceedings. In the meantime, we could proceed with the other amendments. Is that agreed?
Hon Mr Conway: That would be agreeable to me if it is agreeable to the Leader of the Opposition, as in his suggestion.
The Deputy Chairman: Is that agreed?
Hon Mr Conway: We are agreed that these amendments will be tabled today and not dealt with until tomorrow?
The Deputy Chairman: Can I therefore now clarify exactly which amendments it is that you are agreeing to set aside for the time being?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I will do that. The one substantive amendment is in section 3. Just to make absolutely certain, we me talking about section 3, which amends section 5a of the act. That is the substantive matter dealing with multi-employer plans.
The other ones that are of a technical nature are section 3a, subsection 11(2), section 19, section 20 --
The Deputy Chairman: There are four amendments to section 20.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Two of those, the one that renumbers cross-references to reflect renumbering within the bill --
The Deputy Chairman: You have clause 69(1a)(a), you have clause 69(1a)(b) --
Hon Mr Sorbara: Then we have a number on section 2B. I will tell you in a moment. What the technical amendment deals with is that it clarifies that supplements payable under subsection 135(4) are payable from the date of royal assent, and that is section 135 of the act.
Finally, subsection 30(2) provides for the coming into force of new sections 28a and 28b.
The Deputy Chairman: Sections 28a and 28b and subsection 30(2).
Hon Mr Sorbara: That is subsection 30(2) of the bill.
The Deputy Chairman: That gives me a total of nine.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think you have one too many, Mr Chairman. Shall we go over them?
The Deputy Chairman: Section 3a; subsection 11(2); section 19; section 20, with reference to clause 69(1a)(a); section 20, with reference to clause 69(1a)(b); section 28, referring to section 135; section 28a --
Hon Mr Sorbara: There is the error. It is subsection 30(2), not section 28a or section 28b.
The Deputy Chairman: We now have eight.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Now we have the right number.
The Deputy Chairman: On section 28, there were three amendments to be proposed. I have the second one marked as deferred, which refers to section 135 of the act.
Hon Mr Sorbara: If you will just give me a moment, Mr Chairman, I will determine which of those is new and technical. It is the second of the two I have mentioned, redoing section 135.
The Deputy Chairman: I now ask the opposition parties if they have any amendments they wish to propose at this time. Could they also give me an indication of the sections they wish to ask questions on or make comment upon?
Mr Wildman: We do not have amendments.
The Deputy Chairman: Do we have any comments on sections 1 or 2?
Sections 1 and 2:
M. B. Rae : J’aimerais préciser la position de notre parti à l’égard de tous les amendements, y compris les articles modifiants, présentés par le ministre du Travail (M. Sorbara). Hier je n’ai pas eu l’occasion de m'exprimer là-dessus aussi clairement en français que je l’aurais voulu et préféré.
Avec l’appui de notre équipe, qui est très gentille et sympathique, d’ailleurs, j’aimerais faire de mon mieux pour préciser à la Chambre, à vous, M. le Président ainsi qu’au Ministre les problèmes que nous avons en général avec les amendements que le gouvernement a présentés.
Je suis certain que les députés se souviendront du moment où le Ministre a déposé à la Chambre son projet de loi 162, il y a maintenant quelques mois.
L’autre argument que nous opposons à ce projet de loi, et c'est une opposition fondamentale, c'est l’argument contre les mesures que le gouvernement propose. Au même moment, nous avons précisé que nous voulions insister sur l’importance des contrats sociaux établis par le gouvernement conservateur de 1914, c'est-à-dire, d’avant la Première Guerre mondiale.
II s’agissait là d’une déclaration de contrats sociaux fondamentaux où les travailleurs ont perdu certains droits importants au même moment où ils ont vu établir un système d’assurance sociale, offrant aux travailleurs, au cas de blessures, de problèmes de travail et d’accidents, un système d’assurance garantie. C’est pourquoi nous avons dit au Ministre qu’il est absolument sans précédent pour un gouvernement - qu'il soit libéral, conservateur, socialiste ou n’importe quoi - de présenter une telle modification de la loi, sans l’approbation et sans l’appui du mouvement ouvrier et du mouvement des travailleurs accidentés dans la province.
On a vu les modifications proposées par le Ministre. Au mois de janvier, il a fait adopter quelques amendements, surtout ceux concernant le rôle que jouent les médecins et le droit de faire appel au Tribunal d’appel des accidents du travail ; et le Ministre enfin a accepté le fait que, au cas où les accidentés, ayant eu de mauvaises expériences, ont été maltraités par le système et par les décisions de la Commission des accidents du travail et qu’ils sont malheureux, ces travailleurs ont maintenant le droit de faire appel au tribunal, même sur des questions médicales ; et le tribunal a le pouvoir et la juridiction de décider sur toute question médicale. Pour nous, ceci est absolument essentiel. En même temps, nous avons fait une contribution, et ma collègue la députée de Sudbury (Mlle Martel) aussi en a fait une énorme à ce débat en s’adressant directement au Ministre au sujet des problèmes fondamentaux concernant ce projet de loi.
Je profite de l’occasion pour reparler aujourd’hui du premier problème dont j’ai parlé hier, soit le problème de base : le fait que le gouvernement est en train de changer le système de compensation, qui est, actuellement, un système d’assurance dont la pension est garantie à vie, non seulement jusqu’à l’âge de 65 ans ; on a transformé le système de pension à vie en système de bien-être social, un système où les décisions prises par les bureaucrates et par d’autres sont nettement précisés dans la loi, afin de leur donner le droit de limiter et diriger les travailleurs à leur discrétion, et d'imposer des décisions à ces travailleurs qui, eux, diront certainement, par nécessité, que de nombreux de ces récents accidentés vont à l’avenir recevoir moins que leurs compatriotes, soit ceux qui ont eu des accidents il n’y a que quelques mois ou même quelques jours.
Nous aurons deux classes d’accidentés dans la province : ceux qui ont été blessés avant la date de proclamation de ce projet de loi, et les autres : ceux qui seront blessés dans l’avenir. C’est un système que nous rejetons et voilà, je crois, la divergence fondamentale de philosophie et d’approche entre notre parti, qui comprend le mouvement ouvrier dans cette province, et le gouvernement libéral.
Naturellement, nous attendions du Ministre des amendements s’adressant directement aux appels venant du mouvement ouvrier, afin de voir changer la voie prise du gouvernement ; nous attendions des amendements faisant face à ces problèmes. Mais, au contraire, les amendements proposés par le gouvernement, selon notre expérience, n’ont pas du tout touché à la capacité, au pouvoir et à la puissance unilatéraux, des bureaucrates à la commission, d’abord de prendre des décisions, et finalement d’imposer ces décisions aux ouvriers en Ontario.
Il est absolument inacceptable pour nous d’avoir un gouvernement qui dit : « Nous savons mieux que les travailleurs, les gens qui son blessés et les accidentés eux-mêmes quoi et comment faire. C’est pourquoi nous allons imposer ce nouveau système » -- ce système qui sera, à notre avis, si injuste envers les accidentés.
Deuxième point : l’assistance offerte aux travailleurs désirant retourner au travail. Là, encore, nous attendons, ainsi que d’autres, M. Majesky et Mme Minna -- cette dernière étant une partisane du parti libéral bien connue, j’en suis certain, et bien connue par le Ministre personnellement ; une personne qui, j’en suis également certain, a travaillé avec le Ministre au sein du monde politique -- ont mis sur pied un comité sur l’assistance aux travailleurs, pour faciliter leur retour au monde du travail. Ils ont insisté sur des changements essentiels dans le système du travail, mais nous devons dire que ces changements ont été, dans la grande majorité, rejetés par ce gouvernement.
M. Majesky, je crois, a fait le calcul que 85 ou 87 pour cent des amendements proposés par son comité spécial, qui a voyagé partout dans la province, ont fait rapporter des expériences absolument affreuses que les gens ont eues avec la Commission des accidents du travail. Ils ont insisté que l’on adopte les changements qui ont été rejetés par le gouvernement. Mais la chose la plus importante, dans la tâche du gouvernement et dans la position prise par le gouvernement, c’est qu'ils ont retenu le pouvoir de discrétion de la commission sur la question : « Qui recevra une compensation de la commission ? »
Je suis certain que tous mes collègues ont eu des cas comme moi j’en ai eu. Je suis certain aussi qu'il y a des collègues d’autres partis qui en ont eu de semblables. Nous connaissons beaucoup de cas de travailleurs qui reçoivent des compensations, mais qui ne reçoivent pas l’assistance, auprès de la commission, qui leur permettrait de retourner au travail.
Pourquoi est-ce que la commission dit : On n'a pas le temps. Celui-là n'est pas capable de travailler ; nous croyons que ça ne vaut pas la peine ; il est trop vieux, elle est trop vieille ; elle n'a pas la capacité de travailler ; cela ne vaut pas la peine de lui donner de l’assistance. Nous devons aider ceux qui, selon ce que nous avons décidé dans nos discussions, ont la meilleure possibilité de réussir leur retour au travail » ?
Face à celte situation où des milliers, littéralement, de travailleurs ne reçoivent aucune assistance, après une compensation de 15, 20 ou 25 pour cent, de la part de la commission, et cette dernière n’a pas l’obligation d’offrir ses services aux travailleurs.
Quelle était le propos fondamental du rapport Majesky-Minna? C’était, clairement : « Si nous allons stabiliser la balance entre l’intérêt des travailleurs et de la commission, il faut mettre le pouvoir légal entre les mains des travailleurs et insister sur les services. »
La différence entre des services de discrétion et des services d’obligation nous est bien familière, ainsi que la différence entre le droit de choisir d’aider une personne -- et j’entends par là, de la part de la commission -- et l'obligation de le faire ; soit, le devoir, qu’a la commission, d’offrir des services face à des obligations nettement dites légales. Malgré le fait que nous avons insisté sur les droits des travailleurs et de ceux qui ont été touchés par ces changements, le gouvernement a choisi de changer et d’amender certaines choses ; oui, c'est vrai et je l’accepte. J’ai vu les amendements présentés encore une fois par le Ministre cet après-midi, et nous voilà les considérant maintenant ; mais la réalité fondamentale actuelle, c'est que le gouvernement a décidé de continuer de placer la discrétion dans les mains de la commission.
Ceci est clairement établi dans la formulation des amendements proposés par le Ministre et le fait reste -- si on me permet, je cite les paroles exactes qui paraissent dans la législation de la loi proposée par le Ministre : « dans l'opinion de la commission » -- que ces mots-là donnent le pouvoir non pas aux travailleurs mais à la commission, et est là la différence qui touche non seulement notre parti ou quelques gens élus pour le Parti néo-démocrate dans la province qui sont maintenant députés dans cette Chambre ; non, la décision du gouvernement va contre le rapport du comité Majesky-Minna et représente bien les intérêts des employeurs. Ce tribunal a été choisi par les libéraux et non pas par le mouvement ouvrier qui, lui, avait des représentants parmi les travailleurs, dans le gouvernement et parmi les employeurs. Clairement, la décision du gouvernement était, essentiellement, de choisir en faveur du pouvoir dans les mains de la commission et c'est là le problème.
M. le Président dit que gouverner, c'est choisir ; et on pourrait dire que vivre, c’est choisir, puisqu’on doit faire des choix tous les jours. Mais il est certainement aussi vrai que gouverner, c'est choisir. En gouvernant on doit choisir ; il est évident que le gouvernement a préféré choisir l’intérêt de la commission et des employeurs et, en faisant ce choix, a rejeté l'opinion des travailleurs qui ont présenté leurs opinions au comité qui a voyagé à travers la province.
Quant à la question de l’emploi, du droit de retourner à l'emploi et de l'assistance que nous proposons aux travailleurs qui veulent retourner au travail : nous savons tous que travailler, c'est un aspect fondamental de la vie sociale ; le droit de travailler et le droit d’être dans le monde du travail font absolument la base de la philosophie de notre parti. Et c’est ce qui a été rejeté par la commission, par le gouvernement et dans les amendements toujours présentés par le gouvernement du ministre du Travail.
Alors, nous répétons, et nous allons continuer de répéter clairement, avec insistance et avec une certaine émotion, dans les jours qui nous restent dans ce débat, que le gouvernement a choisi, sans exception, d’appuyer l’intérêt des employeurs dans la province, et je dois insister aussi que ce ne sont pas les employeurs qui vont à la commission pour obtenir de l’assistance ; ce n’est pas le président de Stelco ou le président de Inco qui va à la commission pour voir s'il mérite une pension ; ce n’est pas le président d’une grande compagnie de l’industrie forestière mais plutôt les gens qui travaillent dans la forêt qui vont à la commission -- soit les gens qui risquent leur vie chaque jour au travail -- et la commission a été conçue pour eux et non pas pour les présidents des grandes compagnies. C’est le choix fondamental que nous devons faire face aux questions telles que : « Quel système est le système juste pour les pensions, où le gouvernement a pris le côté des employeurs ? Quel est le droit des travailleurs de retourner au travail ? Où est le droit d’assistance de la commission ? »
Là, encore une fois, le gouvernement a choisi l’intérêt des employeurs et c'est pourquoi, en première vue et en vue de la philosophie générale du gouvernement, nous rejetons les amendements et la position prise par le gouvernement et continuons de les rejeter, ainsi que les changements qui ont été proposés. Alors, je n’ai pas voulu parler tout l’après-midi, malgré le fait que je sais bien qu’il y a certains qui voudraient que je le fasse ; mais je voulais préciser les raisons en faveur desquelles je me trouve, et dire jusqu'à quel point notre parti est malheureux grâce aux positions prises par le gouvernement. Merci.
L’hon. M. Sorbara : Je voudrais répondre en quelques mots au discours de mon collègue, mon ami le chef de l’opposition (M. B. Rae). J’ai entendu et écouté pendant de nombreuses semaines et de nombreux mois l’opposition des députés du Nouveau Parti démocratique et maintenant j’ai écouté encore une fois le discours très intéressant du chef de l’opposition.
Il fait trois points, en gros, et je pense qu'il me faut répondre, même si ce sera un peu plus difficile, dans l’autre langue parlée ici dans le Parlement.
Le premier point est la question autour du contrat social qui, comme le député de York-Sud l’a mentionné, existe dans la province depuis 75 ans : ce système d'indemnité sur la Commission des accidents du travail. J’ai bien examiné les rapports de 1915 lorsque nous avons crée notre commission et encore une fois, je suis sûr que ce que nous avons présenté ici dans le projet de loi 162 reflète, d'une meilleure façon, la décision que nous prenons maintenant, 75 ans plus tard -- c’est-à-dire, la décision de rendre au travailleur accidenté le niveau d'indemnisation qui représente ce qu’il a concrètement perdu suite à l’accident.
Ce serait un système juste. Ce que nous avons maintenant n’est pas un système qui accorde aux travailleurs accidentés de la justice ; non, nous avons un système de justice très bizarre : c'est ce qu'on appelle en anglais « rough justice » ; et pourquoi ? Parce que tous les travailleurs qui partagent le même problème, les mêmes difficultés et les mêmes accidents reçoivent le même taux de compensation, ce qui n’est pas un système de « justice ».
Il faut aussi regarder ce qui se passe dans les autres provinces, notamment au Québec où, depuis quatre ans, il existe un système de double indemnité identique à ce qu’on propose ici dans le projet de loi 162. Au Québec, il n'existe pas les problèmes auxquels nous faisons face ici aujourd’hui en Ontario avec ce vieux système, âgé de 75 ens. Alors, ce que nous proposons, c'est justement quelque chose pour avantager les travailleurs accidentés. Le chef de l’opposition dit : « Pourquoi est-ce que les travailleurs accidentés ont rejeté ce système ? Ma réponse est : Les travailleurs accidentés ne veulent peut-être pas perdre la pension à vie qu'offre le vieux système. » Cela, je peux le comprendre, c’est très simple. Mais si nous voulons créer un meilleur système avec les mêmes ressources qui nous sont disponibles, il vaut mieux utiliser ces ressources.
Sur le deuxième point : le député de York-Sud a parlé de l’aide de la Commission des accidents du travail, en vue de les retourner au milieu de travail après l’accident. Selon lui, la solution serait un programme de réadaptation du travailleur. Qu'est-ce qu’il y a actuellement dans la loi à ce sujet ? Pas beaucoup.
M. B. Rae : Pas grand-chose.
L’hon. M. Sorbara : Le député est d’accord : il n'y a pas grand-chose dans la loi dont nous disposons aujourd’hui. Très brièvement, elle précise : « La commission peut prendre les mesures et engager les dépenses qu’elle juge nécessaires ou utiles pour la réadaptation professionnelle. » Ce n’est pas beaucoup.
Prenant le temps de lire le projet de loi 162 pour savoir ce que nous faisons dans le domaine de la réadaptation professionnelle, on voit clairement que ce sera, dans l’avenir, une grande force qui facilitera aux travailleurs accidentés le retour à leur milieu de travail.
Nous avons déjà répondu au rapport Majesky-Minna. J’ai parlé de cette question avec Mme Minna en lui demandant : « Ce que vous dites dans le rapport, est-ce que ce que c’est ce que demande le Nouveau Parti démocratique ? » Elle m’a répondu : « Non, parce qu'on ne peut pas garantir, pour chaque travailleur accidenté qui ne travaille pas pendant 30 jours, tout un programme de réadaptation. Ce serait absolument absurde. » Pourquoi ? Parce que quelqu’un est obligé de prendre une décision selon ce scénario : « Est-ce que la réadaptation professionnelle est nécessaire pour ce travailleur accidenté ? Qui devrait prendre cette décision ? » C’est évident que c'est la commission, n'est-ce pas ?
Mais il nous faut une loi qui donnera aux travailleurs accidentés la possibilité d’avoir une décision claire et rapide de la part de la commission. Nous expliquons dans le projet de loi que, après quatre ou cinq jours, la Commission doit commencer avec le travailleur accidenté le procédé pour mettre en marche sa réadaptation professionnelle. C’est une solution supérieure à celles de toutes les autres provinces au Canada.
Enfin, il y a la question autour du droit du travailleur accidenté de retourner au travail qu'il faisait avant l’accident. Nous sommes justement la deuxième province au Canada à établir cette sorte de droit pour les travailleurs accidentés. Ce que nous faisons, c’est à peu près la même chose qui existe maintenant au Québec où ça fonctionne assez bien pour les travailleurs. Oui, ces nouvelles sortes de droits sont difficiles, mais en Ontario nous avons commencé à aborder ce genre de question. J’ai dit au début de cet énoncé, qui dure maintenant depuis treize mois que, ici, avec ce genre de droits, nous sommes au commencement d’un nouveau thème dans la politique publique concernant les travailleurs accidentés.
Après avoir examiné des expériences de peut-être trois ou cinq ans, je n'ai aucun doute qu’il y aura plus à faire, mais au moins, nous avons commencé. Alors, je dis que je comprends très bien tout ce que disent les députés néo-démocrates au sujet du projet de loi 162 ; mais je dis aussi que si nous n’apportons pas ces amendements au projet de loi de la Commission des accidents du travail, nous faisons du mal aux travailleurs, non seulement aux travailleurs accidentés, mais à tous les travailleurs en Ontario.
M. Pope : Nous dans notre parti sommes aussi opposés au projet de loi 162 tel que proposé par le gouvernement libéral ; opposés, parce que les accidentés de l’Ontario seraient moins avantagés qu’avant avec ce projet de loi. Ce serait pire qu’auparavant, pour les familles de ces accidentés, et des hommes et des femmes ayant subi des blessures et des maladies causées par le travail, si le projet de loi 162 devenait loi en Ontario.
Nous avons besoin d’études officielles et formelles et de négociations concrètes entre le gouvernement, les accidentés, les représentants des groupes de travailleurs, les compagnies et les entreprises. Après ces négociations, ce projet de loi pourra-t-il passer en deuxième lecture ?
Nous, du Parti conservateur, avons aussi posé quelques questions au ministre du Travail : nous avons demandé un bilan des dates des assemblées tenues avec des groupes de travailleurs, des accidentés, des représentants des travailleurs, des compagnies et des entreprises ici en Ontario.
Le Ministre a donné quelques dates identifiant certains rendez-vous qu'il a eus avec quelques personnes ici en Ontario, mais ces personnes nous indiquent, à nous, les députés de l'opposition, que ces assemblées n’avaient pas comme but la négociation des amendements et des articles dans le projet de loi 162, pas du tout : c’étaient plutôt des discussions au sujet de la compensation en général. Il n'y a eu aucune négociation. Nous avons vu, dans l’histoire du ce projet de loi et dans l’histoire de routes les lois concernant la compensation ici en Ontario, la nécessité d’établir des négociations concrètes entre les représentants des travailleurs, les compagnies et les entreprises... Ce projet de loi n’est ni bon ni juste.
Au cours de la deuxième lecture de ce projet de loi, nous avons également demandé des études, afin de pouvoir tirer des conclusions des résultats financiers des compagnies, soit celles qui font des contributions et des paiements à la Commission des accidents du travail ici en Ontario ; cependant, nous n'avons eu aucune réponse.
Le Ministre a indiqué que ces amendements veulent dire qu'aucune autre contribution ni paiement n’ont été versés à cause de ces amendements.
Toutefois, aucune étude n’a été faite par le ministre du Travail pour appuyer son dire. Nous avons vu les résultats dans les bilans financiers de la Commission des accidents du travail, détaillant les déficits que toute la population de la province est chargée de payer maintenant. Ce sont surtout les entreprises, les chefs d’entreprises et les compagnies qui doivent maintenant se charger de dédommager de ces déficits et ceci va augmenter à l’avenir à cause de ces amendements, parce que le ministre du Travail n'a pas du tout prouvé que ces amendements n’auront pas comme résultat l’augmentation des paiements faits par les compagnies ou par les entreprises auprès de la commission de compensation.
Nous avons indiqué que nous ne sommes pas d’accord avec le ministre du Travail au sujet des programmes de réadaptation professionnelle ; en ceci aussi, nous nous trouvons en opposition contre le Ministre. Selon nous, chaque travailleur a le droit de participer à un programme de réadaptation qui ne devrait pas se limiter au mots sur papier, aux Études et aux rapports. J’ai commencé ça avec la deuxième lecture, comme le Ministre le sait, avec les appels à la Commission des accidents du travail et ce, pendant des années. Ce ne sont pas seulement ces amendements-là qui créent des problèmes ; nous envisageons une situation rendue pire pour les travailleurs de l’Ontario, et c'est pour cette raison-là que nous, du Parti conservateur, avons demandé une Commission royale d’enquête sur le système de compensation en Ontario ; c’est aussi pour cette raison que nous nous opposons au projet de loi libéral au sujet de la compensation.
Our position on this bill was put very clearly and very forcefully in this Legislature on 11 July by the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland), our Labour critic, when she indicated --
Mr Carrothers: Can you tell us what it is?
Mr Pope: The member for Oakville South has asked me to let him know what it is. In that case, I will read the entire transcript of her comments into the record, as the member does not know what the comments were. I will begin to read from page 2107:
“As a member of the standing committee on resources development and as a Progressive Conservative, I would like to tell the members that my personal experience with Bill 162 has been a very real experience for me. I would suggest to members of this House who have not had the experience that we had, as that committee travelled this province and listened at first hand to examples from the injured workers and their families, that they have really no idea what the implications of what we are doing today really mean.
“It is really almost difficult to know where to start in this debate this afternoon. In fact, if I were to say that I was somewhat shocked by the motion placed before the resources development committee on Thursday by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan), it might be an understatement, because I thought that the Liberal government of Ontario has advertised and reinforced itself ail the time for the four years that it has been the government about how open it is, how it believes in listening to the people, how it has campaigned in what seemed to a very large number of people, obviously, to be in a very sincere way about the fact that it was going to be a totally different government from ever before in this province. It was going to be a government with no walls and no barriers.
“What we have in this motion to do with Bill 162, the bill to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, is that we are dealing with a motion that absolutely creates the walls and the barriers. In fact, more than that, this motion means that everything we have been doing for the last six months has been a total waste of time, a total farce; totally irresponsible on the part of the Liberal government that now brings in this motion.”
The member for Mississauga South travelled across this province. Members of the committee were in my community of Timmins. I was privileged to host them. I was privileged to sit in on the hearings of the following day, where we had representations from labour groups, from management groups and from individuals who had problems with the compensation system.
Over my 12 years as a member of provincial Parliament, I have been privileged and pleased to help over 4,000 people with their workers’ compensation problems. I have been pleased to be involved since 1979 in the gold miner studies and in the need for compensation for widows of miners who have died from lung cancer.
I have been involved in over 4,000 cases and I understand the problems of the administration of the system and of the law as it now stands. I understand the need for change. I understand the need for a more compassionate system, a speedier system. I understand the need for more compassionate provisions in the Workers’ Com-pensation Act. But I say to the minister with respect that both the process of this bill and the personal processes of the minister in developing the bill, as well as the contents of this bill, do not meet the needs of the people of Ontario.
Our party has called for a royal commission so that we can have an entire review. I have put on the record in second reading some of the amendments that I think are required, based on the problems that I have seen in my constituency office over 12 years.
On second reading, before we decided whether we would support this legislation, we asked the minister to give us an entire list of the dates and the people whom he met with; to honour the commitment of governments, all governments of all stripes, in this province when it comes to matters of the Workers’ Compensation Act: to tread very carefully and very slowly and very deliberately in full consultation and co-operation with representatives of organized labour, with representatives of injured workers, with injured workers and their families, with the employers of this province including small businessmen, not just big companies and great presidents, and with the compensation system itself, the commission itself.
What is apparent to us is that the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal will have had a hand in drafting this legislation and no one else, and it has to be different. It must be different in this legislation. That is its history, going back through the Weiler study and all of the other royal commissions and studies that have been done. On this legislation on the Workers’ Compensation Board, you tread gently; you negotiate carefully; you give a clear understanding to all groups in this province that might be affected as to what is going to happen and what the consequences of the legislation are going to be; and then, and only then, you introduce this legislation. If, after having introduced the legislation, you run into problems you withdraw the bill and take the time to redo it and do it properly and do the negotiations and consulta-tions that have to be done.
The personal processes of the minister in arriving at the point of the introduction of Bill 162 were flawed. There was not the kind of negotiation that history requires in this legislation, and the results, in my respectful opinion, are flawed. If the minister says that the bill is an improvement, that it answers the needs of injured workers, why is virtually every injured workers’ group in this province opposing it? Why do they want it not to proceed? We are not talking about proposed amendments. We are talking of the demand that it not proceed until the full consultation processes have been heard.
We have indicated very clearly that we have some concerns with the pension provisions on two counts. First, we have seen no studies that show that these amendments are going to be revenue-neutral, and we know that the Minister of Labour, in introducing this bill, this proposal, to the policies and priorities committee of cabinet and to the cabinet itself, had to have had an economic impact study that is required in this government as it was required in the previous govemment. Where is that economic impact study and why has the minister not produced it for the members of this Legislature so that we can examine it while this bill is being considered? Why, when we specifically requested it in second reading before we decided our position in the Conservative Party, did the minister say that it was not worth it; that he was going to go it alone; that it was going to be a Liberal initiative and he did not care if he had the Conservative Party’s support or not? That is fine. He has not got it because he would not produce a rather basic document that answers some of the questions that employer groups have about this legislation that they voiced to us and to the members of the Liberal caucus and to all members of the Legislature.
On the other hand, when it comes to the pension provisions we have workers’ groups that say that in fact their pension rights are going to be a “great deal less than they were before Bill 162 comes into law; that they have no guaranteed pension security for the rest of their lives, which they feel they have a right to. Those questions have not been answered to the satisfaction of the groups that brought those concerns to our attention.
The second major principle of the bill that we see as flawed and which I discussed briefly in the French language a few minutes ago is that we do not see a need for a mandated assessment for rehabilitation purposes. We have assessments coming out our ears and over 4,000 files in Timmins, and workers have not had a rehabilitation program made available to them in spite of the assessments. We want a guaranteed rehabilitation program for each and every injured worker, one that is going to look at his injury and his potential and work with him and his family to get him back into the workforce expeditiously.
We do not need more paper being pushed between Sudbury and Toronto and Toronto and Timmins, and then when we call, the file is lost and it takes them two weeks to find it. We do not need any more of that.
We do not need any more frustration from the rehabilitation counsellors in the local offices in Timmins and Sudbury because their recommen-dations are not being followed by the board. We need a statutory guarantee of a rehabilitation program expeditiously put in place, and not more paper chases through local and regional offices and the many, many floors of bureaucracy in Toronto.
We need a system that is locally originated, that takes into account, as this legislation does not, the point of view of family physicians and specialists, and not just the ones the government decides to appoint. We need a system that gives some credibility to the only orthopaedic surgeon in the district of Cochrane and Timiskaming and does not automatically reject his opinion every time we submit it to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal or the Workers’ Compensation Board.
We need some justice for the injured workers who are trying to get a hearing expeditiously, not paper chases between Sudbury and Toronto and Sudbury and Timmins.
We need the right to subpoena doctors who are giving opinions to the board that are detrimental to the welfare of workers in this province. We have the right to question them on their opinions, to examine the validity and the currency of their opinions. We have no explanation whatsoever as to why the opinions of the only specialists who have looked at these people over any period of time and in any detail are rejected. We need a better system than that proposed by Bill 162.
The member for Mississauga South, in her two speeches -- and I will not read them both out, but the members knows that on 7 June in the standing committee on resources development the member for Mississauga South, speaking on behalf of our party, put our concerns on the record.
Hon Mr Sorbara: A wave of disappointment moved through the House.
Mr Pope: Since the minister is disappointed, I will continue then.
I am turning to page L-69 of the comments of the member for Mississauga South. Because she does review a bit of the history of this legislation, I think it is important to put that on the record.
Some hon members: It is already on the record.
Mr Carrothers: It is already on the record. Haven’t you heard it before?
Mr Pope: Some of the gentlemen -- as a matter of fact, the member from Oakville, who says it is already on the record, said he had not heard it before and he would like to hear it.
Mr Furlong: No, no, he asked if you had ever heard it before. There is a difference.
Mr Pope: He said he would like to hear it, so I am going to read it out. The member for Oakville has the right to be heard.
The Acting Chairman (Mr Morin): Order. Point of order.
Mr Fleet: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Under the rules of debate, standing order 19(d)4 states quite clearly that, subject to your discretion -- because it refers to the opinion of the Speaker -- it is not appropriate for there to be read at length debates of the current session or any unnecessary verbatim report of the legislative debates or, in fact, any other document.
The honourable member read at some length previously, and although I was tempted on that occasion, I certainly did not want to prevent him from making a point, if there was one, and did not object. He now is indicating his willingness to go on and now wants to read two further speeches that are already part of the record. If the member has something fresh to tell us, that would be, of course, in order, but I suggest that it would be inappropriate for there to be continued reading from the existing record.
The Acting Chalrrnan: I must admit that I was not listening attentively, and I will give the benefit of the doubt to the member for Cochrane North. Please continue.
Mr Pope: That is the worst insult of all. First, I was only replying to the request of the Minister of Labour, who wanted me to read it into the record.
Mr Fleet: He did not say that.
Mr Pope: That is exactly what he said. I apologize to the member for Oakville South (Mr Carrothers). I got his riding wrong -- not his requests but his riding. It is Oakville South, not Oakville.
Continuing on with my reference to the notes from the speech of the member for Mississauga South --
Miss Nicholas: Page L-69.
Mr Pope: Page L-69. Thank you. In that instance, I think the member for Mississauga South clearly put on the record -- and I am going from memory now, because I am not supposed to read the speech -- the fact that over 621 groups requested to meet with the standing committee on resources development on this legislation and, in fact, the committee had time for only some 300 of those delegations. Less than half of the people who wanted to be heard on this bill were heard.
It is not surprising that there would be over 620 people or organizations requesting to be heard on this bill. That has been the history of any attempts to amend workers’ compensation legislation in this province. It is a long, sometimes tedious -- perhaps from the point of view of the Minister of Labour -- process, but it is a necessary process of listening to those who want to be heard and one that deals with not only groups across the province, but with members of the assembly. I know that the minister has a time allocation bill because he does not want to listen to anyone much longer, but nevertheless, for the next two days and some he is going to have to.
What the member for Mississauga South also indicated in her address to the Legislature on 11 July was that the chairman of the committee, the member for Nickel Belt, was reduced to virtually drawing names out of a hat to see who would have the right to be heard by a committee of this Legislature that is supposed to be their representatives in the province.
That is my recollection of the member for Mississauga South dealing with the process of this bill. She went on to decry the fact that over 50 per cent of the groups who wanted to be heard were not going to be heard; to decry the fact that many of the amendments that the minister himself wished to place in this legislation would not be given full debate in committee, and that is the reason why she opposed the motion of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, the member for Halton Centre, to move this bill out of committee.
I know that when the government has 94 seats, a good majority, a lot of these things, from the minister’s point of view, are a waste of time. I am sorry that he feels that way I am sorry he feels that over half of the delegations who could not be heard were going to waste his time and that he had other important things to do and really did not want to get involved in this kind of a process.
I am sorry that is the minister’s attitude towards people in this province who want to have a say about something very fundamental to their futures, but that is exactly the attitude that he conveys to people when he stands up in the Legislature and answers the members of the New Democratic Panty, and when he goes to Thunder Bay and makes the comments he did to the labour groups that the member for Mississauga South referred to in her speech.
The Acting Chairman: Order. Please deal with sections 1 and 2.
Mr Pope: I am dealing with section 1. I am trying to convey to the minister, through you, Mr Chairman, the fact that in many of his utterances on these issues and others, I think that he has conveyed an attitude to the people of the province that I do not think he really necessarily has.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Let’s debate the matter, not the man.
Mr Pope: Well, I think that one of the problems with Bill 162 has been the way people reacted to the Comments of the minister in this Legislature and his comments to organized labour in meetings like the one in Thunder Bay that the member for Mississauga South referred to.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Most of the people at that meeting enjoyed it.
Mr Pope: They enjoyed that kind of language?
The Acting Chairman: Order again, please.
Mr Pope: The minister says that they enjoyed that kind of language. I should read it into the record. People would be shocked at what the minister said in Thunder Bay. Certainly the member for Mississauga South was shocked.
The Acting Chairman: Order. Address the chair. Just ignore the comments of the Minister of Labour. I would ask the minister to give him a chance to express his views.
Mr Pope: The compensation system has caused concern for every member of the Legislature. Any member, when he goes to his office, regardless of what party he belongs to, on the weekends or if he happens to be a Metro member he can do it during the week in the evenings, every member dealing with constituency problems knows how often he is approached with workers’ compensation issues. Over 50 per cent of my constituency work is on compensation. I would suggest the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr Brown) would probably have the same ratio, and all members of the Legislature, so I am not saying that it is a new issue or it is an issue that just involves members of the New Democratic Party or one or two members of our party. Every member has these issues.
We know the procedural problems, the frustrations of the procedure, and we also know the tremendous case load that the Workers’ Compensation Board is operating under and we appreciate that. On the other hand, we know the tremendous frustrations at the delays and what appears to injured workers to be bureaucratic paper-chases through the system in order for them to get what they think is justice for them and their families.
Everyone is aware of those problems. One of the greatest concerns that we all share as members of this Legislature is the frustrations with the process and the need to improve the processes of the board and the processes of the appeal tribunal.
What we have seen, in fact, is the evolution of conflicting bureaucracies within the workers’ compensation system, where now we have the compensation board hiring lawyers to attend the appeal tribunal hearings, we have fights between the compensation board and the appeal tribunal over what the policies will be for compensation, we have studies going on over each other’s decisions, we have all sorts of letters flowing back and forth and we get delays of decisions being made in case they are brought to the appeal tribunal.
These kinds of bureaucratic nightmares, which may be readily understandable down here in Queen’s Park, are totally lost on all of us who have to answer to the public for the administration of the workers’ compensation system in this province; and it is slowly but surely grinding to a halt. As you try to find files in Sudbury or in Toronto or in Timmins or wherever they may be, including in transit, the system becomes more complicated, more frustrating and there are more and more delays built into the system.
The real priority of this government should be to sort out this bureaucratic morass that has bothered all of us over the past three years as the appeal tribunal has installed itself and the compensation board has reacted to that installation and the powers that are attracted to it. That is where the minister should be spending his time.
In fact, if anything, the situation has been getting progressively worse by the month. I can tell members that from our own offices, from the number of calls and from the nature of the problems we have with the compensation board.
On the other hand, we have this staggering deficit, the unfunded liability, which is continuing to grow. The annual report of the Workers’ Compensation Board contains a consulting actuaries’ report by Eckler Partners Ltd and it indicates the unfunded liability for 1988 of some $7 billion -- over $7 billion; $7,349,000,000.
The situation is getting progressively worse, not better. In spite of the special levies to pay off the obligations of the unfunded liability, it is getting worse, not better. There is no hope in sight for employers of this province who are paying those additional assessments that try to take care of this unfunded liability problem.
That is another issue that urgently has to be addressed that this bill really does not deal with. That is a major concern for employers across this province, and it is one of many factors that business look at and investors look at when they are making investment decisions that could create jobs for our fellow Ontarians.
We have already seen Saskatchewan and Quebec brag about the cost of doing business in their province as being better than in Ontario because of provincial taxes, because of provincial costs, because of business costs. That is going to continue to escalate unless this government addresses that priority, and it has not done it. Quite frankly, the minister should have addressed that as one of the fundamental issues and not hidden behind a position that his amendments are revenue-neutral when he produces no documentation to substantiate that.
I will not read the speech of the member for Mississauga South in its entirety. However, it does raise a number of very important points. Her experiences sitting in the committee over so many days and weeks have led her to conclude that this bill is flawed and should not be supported. Her arguments in our caucus were persuasive. Her knowledge of this legislation and its effects on people and the opposition to it were detailed. Because of that, on behalf of my party, I must say that we will be opposing this bill in its entirety.
I ask the minister to reconsider, withdraw the time allocation motion, withdraw this bill and engage in the normal, traditional process of negotiation and consultation which must take place whenever the workers’ compensation system is changed.
Mr Laughren: I do not know who pulled the chair out from underneath me.
I did want to make a few very brief comments because as someone who chaired the committee, I did not have a voice during all those days of hearings. I did want to make a few comments because I have found throughout the process the performance of the minister truly breathtaking.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Is this going to be a personal attack?
Mr Laughren: No, it is not a personal attack. What I find breathtaking is that the minister travels this province telling everyone who will listen that this bill is going to help injured workers in Ontario. The reason he makes that argument is that I think he believes that the present system is unfair because a worker can get injured, get compensated for that lifetime disability and go back to work at full pay. The minister feels that is overcompensation while other people in the system are being undercompensated.
As I have listened to the minister fairly carefully these many months, that is why I think he wants this bill. Now if the minister agrees, and I think he would not disagree with my interpretation of his remarks and the reason he is so keen on getting this bill in, then it implies that those people whom he views now as being overcompensated will no longer be overcompensated when this bill becomes law. In other words, those people who have a permanent disability and go back to work at full pay, the ones who are injured after this bill becomes law, will no longer get that lifetime disability pension.
Hon Mr Sorbara: They will no longer get a pension for loss of earnings.
Mr Laughren: That is right. Those people will get a lump sum as part of the dual award system because of the pain and suffering of losing some part of the functioning of their body. I used an example in this assembly the other day of a worker who became a paraplegic and was taken back to work on full pay by Falconbridge nickel mines.
What bothers me a great deal about the minister’s position is that if a worker were to lose a hand, an arm, a leg or both, under the minister’s new system of Bill 162, that worker would get a cash settlement under the dual award system. But if Falconbridge took that worker back at full pay, I ask the minister what that worker would be getting from the Workers’ Compensation Board after the pain and suffering settlement.
That worker would not get a lifetime disability pension. The worker would get the pain and suffering part of the settlement, namely, one half of the dual award system. That is what the worker would get if there were no loss of earnings. I make that point to the minister.
Hon Mr Sorbara: No, it is projected into the future, so that if it is likely that she is going to have loss of earnings, there would be an award. Falconbridge dœs not guarantee jobs that last until age 65.
Mr Laughren: Perhaps the minister dœs not understand his own legislation, because if the worker in the example I used went back to work with Falconbridge with full pay at a job, that worker is going to be able to perform until that worker is 65. There is no question that that worker is going to be able to perform that job until he is 65. It is not the kind of job that requires a great deal of physical exertion.
My point is that the minister seems to think that person who loses an arm, a leg or becomes a paraplegic is being overcompensated when he goes back to work at full pay and with a pension from the Workers’ Compensation Board. That is really what is sticking in the craw of the minister.
I think there are a lot of people out there that the minister could view as being overcompensated in our system. Some of them have made the news in this assembly in recent months. But I want to tell members that people who are overcompensated in this province are not injured workers of any make, shape or description.
The minister has zeroed in on the most vulnerable group in our society, namely, injured workers, and said: “I have decided that some of them are being overcompensated and some are being undercompensated. Therefore, we will deal with the ones who are being overcompensated.” That is exactly what he said. The minister keeps shaking his head, but if we read Bill 162 carefully, that is exactly what it is going to do.
A lot of us in the province who work a “great deal with injured workers -- it is certainly true of members of all three political parties; our constituency offices are indeed clogged in many cases with problems of workers’ compensation -- understand what is coming down the road and why this legislation is unacceptable.
Does the minister really think that all those injured workers, their advocates and organized labour are a bunch of stupid people who just do not understand his legislation? That is what he is implying. He is saying: “I know what is best for you. You don’t know what is best for you. Let me, Gregory Sorbara, tell you what is best for you. If you don’t like this bill, it is only because you do not understand it.” The minister has said as close to those very words as I can give you. So they have a hidden agenda out there.
I have listened to a lot of presentations on this bill and I want to tell members that most of the presentations were articulate and thoughtful. The people had read the bill and had talked to one another about the bill and came to the conclusion that it was not in their best interests.
The minister is saying they are wrong. They simply do not understand. How else could the minister say that this is going to be good for injured workers when the injured workers are telling him that they view it as being bad for them, and the minister persists? Why is he persisting in a bill that everybody it touches feels is wrong, feels that it is going to do workers more harm than good?
If the minister really wanted to do something for injured workers in Ontario, he would do a number of things: (a) he would withdraw this bill; (b) if he wants an interim bill, he would go back, consult with the very people who are most concerned about this legislation and draft a new bill; and (c) he would put in place at the same time, I suggest, a royal commission -- we were just talking about this -- to investigate the possibility of a universal sickness and accident system in Ontario.
The minister knows that the automobile insurance system is in a mess in this province. The workers’ compensation system is in a mess. This bill is not going to make any improvements to the workers’ compensation system. It is going to make it worse. At some point, this government is going to have to come to the conclusion that the answer is a universal system.
The problem is that it takes a lot of time to study that new system and to implement it so that there are not too many flaws when the government actually puts it in place. There is going to be a long time lag between the time the government finally comes to its senses and brings in a universal system and the day when it actually becomes law in Ontario. Unless the minister is looking 10 or 20 years down the road, he had better get moving and establish a royal commission with a very specific mandate to do something upon the conclusion of its study.
I urge the minister to look at that seriously. Otherwise, the legacy he leaves is not going to be a pretty one. The minister surely is not going to be the Minister of Labour for ever and if he wants to leave a positive mark in that ministry, it would be to be the moving force behind a royal commission that looks into a universal sickness and accident system in Ontario.
The Acting Chairman: Are there any further questions or comments on section 1? If not, shall further consideration of sections 1 and 2 be postponed until tomorrow? You have until six tonight to bring in amendments.
Some hon members: No.
The Acting Chairman: You do not want to postpone it?
The committee divided on whether sections 1 and 2 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 36; nays 1.
The Acting Chairman: We will now deal with section 3. Are there any questions or comments?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I will just point out that section 3 is one of those sections that we had determined would be stood down until tomorrow for consideration, given the deliberations of earlier on.
The Acting Chairman: It was agreed pre-viously that section 3 would be deferred.
Hon Mr Sorbara: As well, section 3a was similarly the subject of discussion earlier on, that we would stand down consideration of that until tomorrow, given that the substance of the section was presented earlier on today.
The Acting Chairman: Shall section 3 be deferred?
Sections 4 to 6, inclusive:
The Acting Chairman: We will now deal with sections 4, 5 and 6. If there are no comments on sections 4, 5 or 6, I will put the question.
Mr Laughren: We in this caucus believe Bill 162 is so badly flawed that it is impossible to draft amendments to improve it and that the entire bill should be withdrawn.
The committee divided on whether sections 4, 5 and 6 should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 39; nays 0.
The Deputy Chairman: The next section is section 7. Are there any comments or questions dealing with section 7?
Mr Wildman: Our caucus believes that Bill 162 is so badly flawed that amendments cannot improve it. We believe that Bill 162 should be withdrawn by the government.
The Deputy Chairman: Thank you. Are there other comments?
Hon Mr Sorbara: We have tabled a motion in respect of section 7.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr Sorbara moves that section 7 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“7. Section 27 of the said act is repealed.”
Is there any discussion?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I have just a very brief comment. It is the repeal of a section that has been in the act for quite some time. It has nothing very much to do with the new system for compensation for permanent partial disability, nor does it have anything to do with vocational rehabilitation or reinstatement rights. Indeed, it is a section that has no further usefulness in the act, and therefore we are proposing al the committee stage that it be repealed.
The current act permits schedule 2 employers to commute their liability for an injured workers’ claim by purchasing an annuity from a life insurance company. This can be done six months after the payment to a worker has commenced. The annuity is payable to the Workers’ Compensation Board. What we are doing with this amendment is simply deleting that provision, as it has no further use in the act or the system.
Mr Wildman: I reiterate that this bill is so badly flawed that amendments cannot improve it. We believe that the minister should not be repealing just one section of the act, but he should be withdrawing the bill.
The committee divided on Mr Sorbara’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 41; nays 0.
The committee divided on whether section 7, as amended, should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes 40; nays 0.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I would just like to point out that I am now proposing to withdraw a small number of the motions that were included in the package laid on the table at the beginning of the consideration in the committee of the whole of Bill 162.
The sections are as follows: section 3a, section 8a, section 22a, section 27b-
The Deputy Chairman: Do you mean 22b?
Hon Mr Sorbara: Just give me a moment. I am sorry. Section 22b.
The Deputy Chairman: For clarification, sections 22a and 22b.
Hon Mr Sorbara: That is right -- section 28a and section 28b; as well, section 12, referring to subsection 41 (1) of the act --
The Deputy Chatrman: The only amendment that you have proposed for section 12?
Hon Mr Sorbara: That is right--and section 15, referring to subsection 45a(2) of the act.
Once again, pursuant to notice of motion 6, I am laying two amendments on the table. These are, by the way, revisions to section 12 and section 15 of the act. I am providing a copy.
The Deputy Chairman: For clarification’s sake, you are indicating that your proposed amendment to section 12 has now been revised and you are tabling that?
Hon Mr Sorbara: That is right.
The Deputy Chairman: As well, you are tabling another revised amendment to section 15, which deals with subsection 45a(2) of the act?
Hen Mr Sorbara: That is correct.
Mr Wildman: They will be stood down until tomorrow?
Hon Mr Sorbara: Yes, they will be considered tomorrow.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: The minister, if I understood him clearly, is withdrawing those other amendments that he had previously indicated he was tabling until tomorrow. I know the time is short at this point, but I wonder if the minister can tell us why he is withdrawing those particular amendments. He might want to include in his remarks why he initially wanted to introduce them and now why he has chosen to withdraw them.
Mr Furlong: That’s not a point of order.
Mr Laughren: It certainly is a point of order.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I would be happy to respond to my friend the member for Nickel Belt, just very briefly. The amendment to section 3a is, as I indicated earlier, a rather minor and technical amendment but, practically speaking, it deals with a section of the act that was not dealt with in the initial bill, so we felt it was inappropriate to deal with that. The bill can live well and healthily without it.
A number of the other sections fall into a similar general category, and to avoid some of the difficulties that we had earlier on today, we have made a determination that we can proceed without them.
To deal specifically with the revisions to section 12 and section 15 of the bill the members will note that I have moved to withdraw sections 28a and 28b. We have found that it would be more appropriate to incorporate those into sections 12 and 15 respectively. So the substance of what would have been done in sections 28a and 28b has been transported into sections 12 and 15 of the bill. They refer to those sections and can fit more appropriately in there than in a separate motion.
The long and the short of it is that, once again, there is no change in substance from what was being proposed, but in view of the objections that we had heard earlier on, probably the most appropriate thing to do is deal with those sections under revisions to sections 12 and 15.
Might I also just say that those are the sections, that is, sections 28a and 28b that ensure absolutely that any payment proposed under the new system of permanent partial disability will be fully indexed in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Workers’ Compensation Act. So out of an abundance of caution, we are making sure that the amendments are in the act where they should be when the act is passed and that those payments, and every payment that is made under those provisions, will be fully indexed. I am sure my friends of the New Democratic Party would want that to happen.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr Conway moves that the committee rise and report progress.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 1801.