The House met at 1330.
The Speaker: If I could have the attention of all members. I would like to inform the members that we have a new group of pages who have joined us for the first session in this fall of 1989. They are:
Melissa Bailey, Oakville South; Michael Barkey, Markham; Eric Bergeron, Cornwall; David Brophy, Nepean; Geoffrey Duckworth, Etobicoke-Humber; Andrea Elizondo, York South; Jeremy Freiburger, Wentworth North; Sabrina Grando, York Centre; Anthony Hurd, Leeds-Grenville; Pamela Johnson, Scarborough North; Wayne Korhonen, Nipissing; Mark Lessey, St Catharines; Fabiana Li, Fort York; Rachel Parks, Elgin; Kathryn Peters, Kingston and The Islands; Cohn Pickeli, Huron; Amy Purkis, Eglinton; Heather Robb, Middlesex; Alex Ross, Oriole; Sameer Sehdev, Durham West; Kathleen Taylor, Wellington; Haley Wideman, Kitchener-Wilmot; Ivy Wong, Willowdale, and David Wood, Halton Centre.
Please join me in welcoming our new pages.
BOARD OF INTERNAL ECONOMY
The Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have laid upon the table a copy of an order in council appointing the Honourable Christopher Ward, MPP, as commissioner of the Board of Internal Economy in place of the Honourable Sean Conway, MPP.
The Speaker: I also beg to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the office of the Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House by reason of the resignation of Michael C. Ray, the member for the electoral district of Windsor-Walkerville.
We are now ready to go to Orders and Notices but just before I call the first order, members’ statements, I would remind members that there has been a slight change in the standing orders and I will recognize three members from each party in rotation for up to 90 seconds.
USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS
Mr Kormos: My constituency office represents large numbers of injured workers at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. My assistant, Mike Grimaldi, recently represented a worker before that tribunal only to find out that the St Catharines General hospital had retained the services of a Bay Street law firm to represent it.
We are extremely concerned with this action, and I am informed that other hospitals are also employing expensive law firms to represent them at these hearings. What makes this conduct reprehensible is that taxpayers of Ontario fund the office of the employer adviser, which provides this very service to employers such as the St Catharines hospital, without charge.
At a time when restraints are being placed on hospitals, resulting in bed closings and waiting lists, these same hospitals should not be hiring big-money, Toronto-based lawyers to represent them at these hearings, wasting thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money, especially when representation is available to them.
It seems totally inappropriate to have the Ministry of Labour funding the office of the employer adviser to do this very type of work and then to have provincial taxpayers’ money going to Toronto law firms to do the very same thing.
I have written to both the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) prevailing upon them to put an end to this practice. For this practice to continue, condoned by either of those two ministries, would be a sad commentary as to the real priorities of this government.
MARTIN ANDERSON AND MICHELLE LEVETT
Mrs Cunningham: A very special London North constituent, Martin Anderson, received the John Black Aird scholarship presented by Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander today at Queen’s Park, He and Michelle Levett of Brantford received $2,500 to support the continuation of their studies at Carleton University.
Today in Ontario, as we work towards meaningful integration, support and understanding of our disabled community, we need to seek out role models. Martin Anderson and Michelle Levett are setting incredible examples of courage and determination to achieve their personal goals as they struggle with their disabilities and at the same time work so very hard at their studies.
I am sure that all the members of the Legislative Assembly will join me in congratulating Martin and Michelle for the wonderful examples they have set for others who work under such difficult circumstances and we wish them much success with their studies at Carleton University.
Mr Elliot: It is with a great deal of pleasure I rise today to congratulate Kelly Stewart of Hornby, who was crowned Miss Canadian National Exhibition 1989 in August. The Milton Fall Fair queen was one of 113 contestants in the Queen of the Fair competition held at the CNE.
Kelly was honoured on 6 September 1989. A reception was held in her honour at the Scout Hall on the Milton fair grounds. Many residents of Halton attended to congratulate Kelly on her significant achievement.
Kelly is a graduate of the dental nursing program at George Brown College and continues to work in Georgetown in her field. Over the years Kelly has been active in 4-H club activities and has shown cattle at many fall fairs, including Georgetown, Milton, the CNE and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. She has been most proficient and successful.
The contestants were assessed on poise, personality and their response during a lengthy interview. The 113 contestants were narrowed down to seven, who were asked to present a prepared speech to a panel of judges. The three finalists then competed in an impromptu speech competition.
Kelly received many grand prizes, and as she represents Homby, she will have a very busy year fulfilling her duties at many functions throughout Ontario. We wish her well, knowing she will represent Homby in an extremely fine fashion.
Miss Martel: A month after being passed, the fallout from Bill 162 became evident.
On 18 August the Workers’ Compensation Board released a discussion paper on possible regulations to the act. Those of us who argued against giving the board so much power had good reason. The paper proves the board will use the regulations to limit the rights and benefits of injured workers.
The board has the power to define what is suitable and available work.
The discussion paper states “suitable” is any job which the worker is psychologically and physically capable of performing and has the skills to do so. The job should not pose a health and safety hazard to the worker. So a skilled tradesman who can physically work as a parking lot attendant would have this considered suitable for him.
Labour and the New Democratic Party have consistently argued “suitable” means a job with similar status, responsibility and dignity as the job the worker was injured at. That is not what the WCB proposes.
The board has defined “available” as employment which comes open in an appropriate geographical area, taking into account economic trends. The paper proposes that the longer the worker is off work, the larger the job search area should become, even to the point of searching anywhere in Ontario. There is no requirement that a job offer has to be made, and the board can even attach “available” to jobs which may come up in the future.
The Liberal government should be condemned for giving the WCB so much power. In 1983 the Liberals proposed definitions of “suitable” and “available” which were much tougher. It is obvious the Liberals have forgotten injured workers since the big win in 1987.
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr Black), the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) and the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney), and it concerns the failure of the government to negotiate an alternative to the assessment of seasonal trailers at private campgrounds in Ontario.
This failure to negotiate an equitable fee structure will have serious and lasting repercussions to private campground businesses and to the economies of both the municipalities and the province and to the private camping industry.
The Ontario Private Campground Association has attempted to negotiate an equitable fee structure that would be fair to campers, campground operators and individual municipalities. In spite of these efforts and in spite of the government’s assurances that action to resolve these issues was imminent, nothing has been resolved.
It is my understanding that the three ministries involved have agreed in principle to consider an option that would see a reasonable municipal fee for each seasonal camper unit located in a campground that offers seasonal camping. The onus will be on the campground owner to collect this fee and turn it over to the municipality. A seasonal camper unit would be defined as a unit that occupies a camp site for an uninterrupted period of more than 90 days. The municipality could withhold or withdraw a campground licence if the operator fails to collect or remit the fees. The Ontario Private Campground Association should be informed if this option is not chosen.
Many seniors have told me they feel they pay eight per cent tax on campers and vehicles and do not need a further tax.
Mr Tatham: If you came out to your chicken house and saw your 33-week-old chickens dead with their heads off, you would want to find out why. Mrs Frank Brown, rural route 2, Princeton, took action by putting out rat bait on a Wednesday and by that weekend she had 41 dead rats.
Wild rats are recognized as the most destructive vertebrate animals in the world, both in terms of the economic losses they cause and in their effect on human health. Losses caused by rats can be divided into three categories: (1) losses to foodstuff, (2) physical damage caused by gnawing and tunnelling and (3) disease transmission.
According to National Geographic, the average rat can wriggle through a hole no larger than a quarter, scale a brick wall as though it had rungs, swim half a mile and tread water for three days, gnaw through lead pipes and cinder blocks, survive being flushed down a toilet and enter a building the same way, multiply so rapidly that a pair could have 15,000 descendants in a year, and plummet five storeys to the ground.
The province of Alberta is essentially rat-free. They initiated a municipal-provincial rat control program in 1954. Alberta monitors an 18-mile-wide buffer zone along the Saskatchewan border to prevent western migration of rats into the province. We do have a program through the OPIIP, the Ontario pork industry improvement program, but we certainly should do more.
This is what a rat did to some 14-2 cable. How about that?
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Ms Bryden: Commuters in the greater Toronto region face draconian cuts in Via Rail services on 15 January 1990. I urge the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) to go to Ottawa this week and work out a moratorium on these cuts until the province, the federal government and the municipal transit services can work out joint plans to ensure that commuters are not forced to take to the overcrowded highways and city streets and add to the gridlock now building in their whole area.
The Ministry of Transportation’s past lackadaisical approach to expanding GO Transit must be replaced by a stepped-up policy which will see that the money available in the budget of $1.2 billion is spent long before the end of the five-year period that it covers.
The provincial government must also put a stop to urban sprawl, which is adding to commuter needs, and it must provide more affordable housing within the Metropolitan Toronto area to enable more workers to live close to their jobs. The Liberal government’s transportation network is in jeopardy if action is not taken immediately.
Mr Eves: I rise to make a statement about the McDougall township waste disposal site. This is a waste disposal site where Ministry of the Environment testing found that the dump site was leaking chemicals into a marsh and a stream on a neighbouring farm. They have had this knowledge for over a year, and yet they knew that the private owner’s licence to operate the site was expiring on 30 September 1989.
As I say, they have known this for over a year. Yet, lo and behold, 30 September 1989 has come and gone. Nobody is operating the site; nobody is permitted to operate the site. Garbage has been piling up in Parry Sound and six adjacent municipalities for some two weeks. The Ministry of the Environment’s response to this, to a problem it has known about for over a year, is to order McDougall township, one of the seven municipalities, to operate the site. They have said that a private operator cannot operate the site because it is leaching chemicals into water supplies, but McDougall township can operate the same site and leach the same chemicals into the same water supply. Whatever sense that makes on the part of the Ministry of the Environment, I really do not know.
They have known about the problem for a year. They are asking one municipality out of seven to operate an unsafe site. They are refusing to accept liability on the part of the provincial government; they want McDougall township to assume that liability. They refuse to make a firm commitment to a municipality or a group of municipalities that they will offer any definite financial assistance. I think this is an absolutely ridiculous situation. It is one the minister and the Ministry of the Environment have known about for over a year. They have done absolutely nothing.
Mr Owen: One of the most physically demanding athletic competitions is the Iron Man triathlon. This event combines three elements in succession: a long-distance swim, a bike ride and a marathon. This past August, Julie White, an accomplished athlete from Midhurst in my riding of Simcoe Centre, defended her title and set a new world record at the North American Iron Man Championships in Penticton, British Columbia.
Although Julie was behind after the 2.4-mile swim and the 112-mile bike race, she finished the 26.2-mile run 38 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, thus capturing the North American title for the second year in a row with an overall time of 10 hours and one minute. During the course of this impressive win, Julie set a new world record for the marathon portion of an Iron Man competition with a time of 3:06:16. Julie is now one of the top 10 female triathletes in the world. Julie White’s dedication to this extremely challenging sport and her willingness to work hard to achieve her goals are to be commended and we wish her continued success in representing our country in the Commonwealth Games in January in New Zealand. Mr Speaker, I give you today Julie White.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
TRANSIT LABOUR DISPUTE
Hon Mr Phillips: Later today I will be introducing a bill concerning the labour dispute between the Toronto Transit Commission and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113; the International Association of Mechanics and Aerospace Workers, Lodge 135, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2.
The parties have exhausted the compulsory conciliation process. The Ministry of Labour has provided extensive mediation assistance throughout the bargaining process. The parties have been in a legal strike or lockout position since 22 August. On 28 August, as most people are aware, a significant work slowdown began. The principal issue in the dispute was the management proposal to introduce part-time employees to the Toronto Transit Commission. That slowdown has meant considerable inconvenience for the people of the greater Toronto area. Close to one million people rely on the services of the TTC to get them to work each day, to school and around the city.
As all members know, it is always a serious matter for the government to propose that the Legislature involve itself in the collective bargaining process. This is not a decision that any of us takes lightly. This is not a power that any of us would care to exercise unless the circumstances were extraordinary.
The public interest will be served by the legislation I will be introducing. At the same time, I wish to indicate to both the TTC and the unions that we are looking to a lasting solution in such an important matter as this, involving collective bargaining.
While I am prepared to prevent further public inconvenience, I do not wish to reinforce the belief that labour and management can bargain to a stalemate on an issue like part-time employment and then leave it to the government to provide the solution.
Therefore, I am placing before the Legislative Assembly a bill which provides that the parties submit all issues in this dispute, except that of part-time employment, to an arbitrator. The arbitrator shall have the authority to set the terms of the new collective agreement between the parties.
The issue of part-time employees will not be subject to binding decision by an arbitrator. It will instead be subject to investigation and report by an independent fact finder. The dispute over the use of part-time employees is a complex one. It needs a lasting solution. Solutions to issues as complicated as this one are solutions that the parties themselves should negotiate. The fact-finder will examine all the issues of staffing. The fact-finder will then report to the minister and to the parties.
This bill reinforces the principles of our Labour Relations Act and the collective bargaining process. At the same time, it protects the public interest by ending the inconvenience of the past several weeks.
FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
Hon Mr Offer: I want to inform the members of the House that Sunday 8 October marked the beginning of the 67th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week in Ontario. As members will appreciate, Fire Prevention Week provides all Ontarians with the opportunity to reaffirm our support for public safety at home and in the workplace, and to recognize those among us who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, courage and ongoing commitment to fire prevention and fire safety.
Last year in Ontario, 141 deaths were attributed to fire. Loss of property amounted to over $317 million. These are dramatic and chilling numbers, the dimensions of which can never match the losses measured in terms of human suffering and tragedy.
It remains the solemn obligation of this government to move towards the day when the practice of fire prevention will become as routine and normal a feature of daily living as any other. Towards that goal, and in support of the maintenance of safe and secure communities, as set out in the speech from the throne, I wish to announce today the establishment of the Fire Services Review Committee, whose purpose it will be to undertake a review of current legislation and to report to me in six months’ time.
Our present legislation dealing with fire services in Ontario is now over 35 years old. While this legislative base has served us well over the years, there is now a general consensus that it can no longer meet the needs of today’s communities.
I am seeking broad and full consultation in this undertaking. Accordingly, the committee will be composed of representatives of my ministry, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Provincial Federation of Ontario Fire Fighters and the Fire Fighters Association of Ontario. In addition to the committee’s legislative review, they will also be asked to review matters such as levels and standards of service, training and labour relations.
I also wish to announce today the eight winners of the 1989 Ministry of the Solicitor General Fire Prevention Awards. In the organization category, this year’s winners are the Ottawa Fire Department, the Whitby Fire Department, the Leeds and Grenville County Board of Education and the Lambton Shrine Club. This year’s awards for individual achievement are presented to Connie Chudyk of the Hamilton Fire Department and David Guilbault of the Ottawa Fire Department. Our youth award winners this year are David Timeriski and Hilory Vance, both of Elliot Lake. I know all members will want to extend their appreciation to each of these distinguished recipients.
While Fire Prevention Week is intended to provide a week-long focus in support of fire prevention and fire safety, its first message is that public safety is a year-long matter. Fire Prevention Week provides all Ontarians with the opportunity to reaffirm fire prevention and fire safety as a critical component of enhancing public safety. The Fire Services Review Committee, as announced today, I believe will serve the public well in the development and maintenance of safe and secure communities.
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Hon Mr Ward: Earlier today, my colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) and I announced the launch of a comprehensive environmental protection program involving some 45,000 civil servants in the Ontario government workplace. Ontario becomes the first provincial government to implement a waste management strategy, a strategy aimed at putting our own house in order. I am pleased that the Ministry of Government Services is taking the lead in this initiative. In total, we will spend $1.6 million to conduct the first phase of this program.
Our government has a fundamental commitment to protecting the environment, a concern shared by millions of Ontarians. Cutting down on waste and putting our garbage to productive uses is an important step towards meeting that commitment. Members will know that this government recently set firm targets for the reduction of solid waste across Ontario, a 25 per cent reduction by 1992 and a 50 per cent reduction by the year 2000. We believe our government must lead by example, establishing a workplace recycling program that will serve as a model for other governments and for the corporate sector.
The success of the blue box program in communities across Ontario demonstrates that the people of our province care enough about our environment to separate recyclable materials in their homes and take their blue boxes to the curb each week. Our employees will now be able to carry that enthusiasm into the workplace.
My ministry has identified a number of activities to apply the three Rs of reduction, reuse and recycling to the workplace. Starting today, our employees are receiving desk-top containers called Paper Savers for the collection of fine paper. When filled, the Paper Savers will be emptied into bins for regular collection.
Metal newspaper saver bins and blue boxes for glass bottles, plastic bottles and metal cans will become permanent fixtures in high traffic areas of government buildings.
The program will start in the Macdonald Block at Queen’s Park and will expand to cover 45,000 government employees in more than 120 buildings in the Metro Toronto area alone. Each year, this will recycle enough fine paper alone to fill this chamber to a height of more than 10 feet. We will also work to expand these activities to eastern, northern and southwestern Ontario.
I recently received a letter from Dr Noel Brown, director of the United Nations environment program, expressing strong support for this strategy. Dr Brown calls our plan “a most ingenious scheme,” and concludes that, “This is an effort deserving of the widest commendation and support and we at the United Nations environment programme applaud it.”
There is much more to this strategy than recycling alone. We are also working to reduce our use of materials and reuse them wherever possible. For example, within my ministry we are changing all our high-volume photocopiers to machines that copy on both sides of the page. This will result in a saving each year of some 29 tons of photocopier paper.
Still greater savings will be realized as the program expands to other ministries. My ministry is also initiating a pilot waste management project in the largest cafeteria at Queen’s Park in the Macdonald Block. We hope to find alternatives to disposal for much of our food waste. In addition, we are investigating ways of identifying reusable materials, reducing packaging and incorporating the three Rs into the design, construction, repair and renovation of government buildings. New procedures may include the reuse of building materials such as wood products and wallboard.
The key factor in the success of the Ontario government waste management strategy will be the personal commitment of each and every individual in our government. We have started to do our part for the environment at home with the household blue box program; now we can do our part at work. I look forward, with my colleague the Minister of the Environment, to the cooperation of all government employees as our province strives to adopt exemplary waste management practices.
PERSONAL PROPERTY SECURITY / SÛRETÉS MOBILIÈRES
Hon Mr Sorbara: Today I have the pleasure of announcing that the new Personal Property Security Act has been proclaimed and is now in force in the province of Ontario. The legislation, which applies to transactions where personal property is used as collateral for loans, contains a number of significant changes to the law, changes designed to benefit borrowers and lenders alike.
J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer aujourd’hui que la nouvelle Loi de 1989 sur les sûretés mobilières vient d’être proclamée et est maintenant en vigueur en Ontario. Cette loi, qui se rapporte aux transactions dans lesquelles des sûretés mobilières servent de garanties à des prêts, comporte un certain nombre de modifications importantes pour les bénéfices des emprunteurs et des prêteurs.
This act, which revises and repeals, by the way, the former Personal Property Security Act, is the result of many years of extensive review by the Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Personal Property Security Act. The committee was appointed to monitor the operation of the act and also to develop recommendations for its improvement.
We have much to thank the committee for and I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the members of the committee, especially the chairman, Fred Catzman, for dedication to improving the law of personal property security in Ontario.
The new act clarifies and simplifies personal property security law in a number of ways. For example, personal and corporate assets no longer need to be registered separately when they are used as collateral. The new act also contains a number of changes to registration requirements designed to balance the needs of our business groups with consumer protection measures.
To assist those who use the system, the ministry has published a new user guide on how to register under the act. The guide also sets out the procedures on how to make a search of the personal property security registration system. This comprehensive guide replaces the three information guides formerly distributed by the ministry to assist users of the system.
The Repair and Storage Liens Act is also being proclaimed today. This act consolidates the law of repair and storage of articles of personal property. It also clarifies the rights of repairers, storers, owners and secured creditors.
I trust that with the proclamation of these two acts, Ontario borrowers and lenders will benefit from the significant improvements in the registration process as well as enhance consumer protection in this province.
TRANSIT LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to respond to the comments of the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) on the Toronto Transit Commission strike here in Toronto. Our party has traditionally taken a position in opposition to compulsory arbitration and that will not change. Compulsory arbitration as a general rule in this province has not benefited workers. It has been a tool that management has used consistently, and unfortunately old-party governments in this country have been much too ready and willing to use compulsory arbitration in a bitter labour dispute.
Because of the circumstances in this case, it may be the first time the workers may possibly benefit from the legislation that has been introduced. But the question that has to be asked is, why did we need the legislation that has been introduced? The minister, I am sure, knows that 80 per cent of the issues in terms of the contract were settled and that there is very little to go to binding arbitration in terms of the actual contract. The issue clearly was the part-timers. The issue of part-timers is one that is going to take on an increasing role in this province as we see some of the results of free trade. That may not be what is in place here, but certainly the issue of part-timers means a wage style and lifestyle that cannot support buying a home and raising a family. This was the issue.
I think the minister also knows very clearly that this could have been settled almost four weeks ago. The spare board and scheduling proposals, substantial concessions that were made by the union, would have settled this issue as much as or better than what we are doing by stalling it for another two years with the investigation.
The fact is that this legislation, while it may be of some benefit to the workers in this particular case, also takes the commission clearly off the hook for its intransigence in looking at proposals that would have settled it almost four weeks ago, proposals either better than what may be here or that are exactly the same as here, which the commission would not accept at that point in time. It does raise some serious questions about the sincerity of some of the people who are involved in collective bargaining with workers in Ontario today.
FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
Mr Wildman: In response to the remarks of the Solicitor General (Mr Offer), we join with him in giving congratulations to the award winners and expressing our appreciation this week to professional and volunteer firefighters across the province. The figures he cited were indeed very serious and cause for grave concern. I would just like to point out to him that in northern Ontario the loss figures are twice as high as they are in the rest of the province.
It is unfortunate really that the Fire Services Review Committee that he has set up does not have a wider mandate, not only to look at the legislative base and the training of firefighters but also to look at the equipment that is available to small rural municipalities and the grants that this government provides them to ensure they can buy the kind of equipment, the highly sophisticated and expensive equipment they need in order to lower those loss figures in terms of property loss and lives lost in this province as a result of fire.
He will remember that a resolution was passed unanimously in this House supporting the view that the provincial government should be providing small municipalities with the funding required to purchase the equipment they need and this government has yet to act on it. Unfortunately, his review committee does not have a mandate to recommend that the government follow the views of the Legislature.
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Mrs Grier: We welcome the statement of the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward). I have three copies of the statement now and I can assure him that I will recycle them because the members of this caucus have had Paper Savers on their desks and blue boxes outside their office doors for quite some time now, and as the minister says, it is important to lead by example. I am glad the government is following our example.
I hope the government will go a step farther and require the newspapers of this province to use recycled newspaper, that it will begin to look seriously at reducing packaging, not just investigating the need to reduce packaging, and that it ill begin to look seriously at implementing regulations that require construction to incorporate the three Rs in the design, construction and repair of government buildings. It is not good enough to issue numerous releases. It is important to begin working towards implementing it.
TRANSIT LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Cousens: During the past six weeks, the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Toronto area have been subjected to one of the longest-running public transit strikes in recent history. The Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) in his statement today says the legislation will provide for the arbitration of a new collective agreement between the Toronto Transit Commission and Local 113 on all issues except part-time employment.
Members of our party are pleased that this action by the government has led to the resumption of transit service, but for how long? Both sides of the dispute will tell you that the issue of part-timers was the source of the trouble. So what does the government do? It leaves the most contentious issue in the hands of a fact-finder who has no binding settlement powers other than to investigate and report to the minister, the Toronto Transit Commission and the union. From there, negotiations start all over again.
Enough is enough. The proposed legislation should have enough teeth to absolutely guarantee a decision on this matter; if not, we may find ourselves into another strike. Just ask the commuters in Metro and the GTA how they would feel about that.
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to comment to the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward) about his latest initiative, and I suppose it is his first initiative in office. I would like to commend him for taking this step in the right direction, but I would also like to point out that he himself could start. By example, he sent over the two-page notice in a brown envelope. He could have saved sending the brown envelope, just putting the name on top of the sheet of paper. If he requires some good common sense on that side, he can just give me a call and I will be pleased to help him out.
Mrs Marland: I think the more significant announcement that could have been made by the Minister of Government Services today would be to say that he was going to take some initiative from some of the European countries, particularly West Germany, where the government makes it compulsory that all paper that is used by that government is recycled.
I also find that the statement says the government of Ontario is committed to protecting the environment. I would say in response that he should ask the people in Scarborough who have been fighting to save the Rouge Valley or the people who live in the village of Whitevale who are concerned about the landfill site, and most important of all, ask the people of this province who are concerned that interim landfill sites have been exempted from the Environmental Assessment Act and we have no definition whatsoever for what is an interim landfill site.
FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
Mr Villeneuve: May I welcome the new Solicitor General (Mr Offer) to the front line of fire by his recognizing the 67th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week. I must tell him that initially both the Solicitor General and the Minister of Skills Development were queried very intensively by yours truly on funding for volunteer fire departments that we take for granted out in rural Ontario, funding that would improve their skills in lifesaving and firefighting. They were denied that in spite of the fact that some volunteer fire departments were approved for funding through the Ministry of Skills Development.
I welcome two new ministers to these portfolios. They must not take our volunteer fire departments in rural Ontario for granted. They are doing an excellent job of protecting life and property out in rural Ontario and they must be provided with funding so that they can upgrade their skills and continue doing the job we expect of them. I look for a change in the way both the Solicitor General and the Minister of Skills Development handle volunteer fire departments.
The Speaker: Just before I call the next order of business, I know all members would want me to draw your attention to a visitor in the lower east gallery, a former member, Albert Roy.
ELECTION OF COMMITTEE CHAIRS
Mr Harris: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think that on this first day of the new standing orders it is appropriate that I raise with you a point of order. Standing order 111 on page 37 of our new grey book states, “Each standing committee shall elect a chair and a vice-chair at its first meeting in each session and, if necessary, during the course of a session.”
As we embark on these new standing orders, and we have announcement after announcement and proclamation by the Premier (Mr Peterson) of the independence of committees and the new importance we are attaching to committees, we hear from the new House leader at the last House leaders’ meeting, his first one, announcing the independence of the committees: “I do not know,” he said, “what is going to happen until the committees decide, because they, of course, decide their own business.”
And yet, on 20 September, before the committees have met to select their chair or vice-chairs, the Premier has a press release out announcing the new list of committee chairs, representing the committees of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which will take effect on the return of the House. Here is a list of the committees.
What we have here, I would suggest, are the Premier’s nominees that he plans to put forward as the committee chairs. We, of course, will probably have our list of nominees and the New Democratic Party may have its list of nominees. But this is typical of the arrogance of this government when it pertains to the committees of this Legislature.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier a question about the destruction of the environment in Temagami, about his government continuing to assist in the construction of a logging road and to allocate cutting rights in an area that has been seen around the world as one that needs to be protected.
The Premier will have received a petition signed by 65 scientists in Canada and the United States asking for a moratorium on the logging of the old-growth pine forest in Temagami and pointing out that this forest has value that is literally in need of worldwide protection. I would like to ask the Premier: What is his personal response to this petition and to the worldwide concern that has been expressed about the destruction of this environment?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Minister of Natural Resources can help out the honourable member.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I welcome an opportunity to respond to the questions which I know members of the opposition will have on the issue of Temagami. I am certainly very much aware of the Leader of the Opposition’s very real concerns about this issue. I guess I would like to preface my comments by saying that I truly believe we share the concerns and that we have been struggling to find ways to address them.
He raised two points in his question. One is the issue of the road construction, and we believe we have to pursue the road construction because we are accessing quite large areas of timber, only 10 per cent of which is red and white pine.
I think the second question the member raises is one of the issue of cutting in areas of old pine growth. That does, in fact, raise the whole question of our plans for harvest. I think we have done a lot to achieve the kind of balance we are looking for with both protection and preservation of the old pine forest, but I do believe there may well likely be more we can do. We have in fact been looking, as we develop timber management plans, at the old growth areas, where those areas exist and how those should be considered in any timber management plans we make. I would like to assure the member that we will not be clear-cutting in sensitive areas that are identified.
Mr B. Rae: I am sorry that the Premier would choose not to answer a question which speaks to the fundamental integrity of this government’s approach to the protection of the environment in Ontario. That is what we have seen, the Premier ducking --
The Speaker: Order. Do you have a supplementary?
Mr B. Rae: I will address my supplementary to the minister, since the Premier is ducking out of this question and refusing to answer it.
Mr B. Rae: Well, is he there? Where is he? Is he there? No, I do not see him there.
I would like to ask the minister this question. If the minister is serious about wanting to protect the old-growth forest, I wonder if the minister can tell us why it is that both the native band in question, the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band, has asked for a moratorium on the construction of the road, and the international scientific community has asked for a moratorium on the construction of the road, and they have asked for a clear agreement from this government that it will recognize the integrity of the native land claim and recognize finally the importance of the environment to the people of Ontario --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the minister: Why has her government, in hard political terms, rejected both the land claim and rejected the claim of the international scientific community when it comes to the protection of the old-growth forest?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would suggest that we have not denied the concerns of either the Teme-Augama band or those people who are concerned with the recognition and protection of old-growth pine forests. I think the honourable member well knows that there have now been two court decisions on the Teme-Augama land claim, and that issue is still before the court. It has been placed before the court by the Teme-Augama band.
I would also like to stress the fact that we are not ignoring the concerns of either the native people in the Temagami area or those people who bring concerns about the old-growth pine forest and related environmental questions.
We have set up the Temagami Advisory Council. It is the first time that a citizens’ advisory committee of this nature has been established. We will not be undertaking harvesting in that area, any new approvals for harvesting, without the advice of that committee. We have encouraged and will welcome the participation of both the native people and any of the environmental groups, including the Temagami Wilderness Society.
Mr Wildman: I have a supplementary to the new minister, despite the fact that it was difficult to hear her because of the former minister.
If the minister is concerned about harvesting in the old-growth area and is determined to ensure that there are jobs for the mill workers and bush workers in the area, could she explain why it is that her ministry has not allocated the Shining Tree limits, limits which are not too far distant from the area and which are nowhere near the old-growth area, which could indeed provide jobs for Liskeard Lumber and for William Milne and Sons? Why is it that the head of the forest resources group, Trevor Isherwood, has said that area has not been allocated to anyone? If it is not allocated, why not allocate it to the mills that need it and get out of the old-growth area?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Again, I think we have to recognize that what we are involved in, not only in the Temagami district but right across northern Ontario, is our best possible efforts to make good long-term plans for the management of the forest and also to recognize our commitment to the forest products industries across northern Ontario.
We are looking at the available wood resources in the Temagami district, that those will include the Shining Tree area, as we look towards our ability to meet our commitments for wood supply for future allocations.
We are not ignoring the old-growth pine areas as we look at our timber allocation plans for the future and our harvesting practices in that area. Obviously, the extent to which we set aside large areas for preservation, as we have in the Temagami area, has a very direct effect on our commitment of wood supplies in the future and we will be looking at all available wood throughout the area.
Mr B. Rae: I do not know whether the Premier is going to answer this question or not, since he seems determined to avoid answering any questions put to him in the House.
Mr B. Rae: Well, we will see.
My question is to the Premier. He will recall his famous declaration in Cambridge a little over two years ago. It was recalled by many of us because he made it just a few short hours before the election of 1987; that is the famous Cambridge manifesto in which the Premier stated that he had a very specific plan to lower automobile insurance rates -- just to remind you of that, Mr Speaker, because you will recall that election vividly.
This summer, while we were on break, one of his cabinet members announced a plan which provides for taking rights away from individuals who are injured in accidents, taking rights away from them --
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: -- so that people will end up getting less, and yet the minister admitted that there could be as much as an average eight per cent increase for drivers and that he had no way of ensuring what the rate increase would be.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Premier can tell us: Is the plan announced by the minister the same plan the Premier told us about when he said he had a specific plan to lower the rates?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister can help the honourable member.
Hon Mr Elston: First of all, the honourable gentleman has obviously been busy considering a number of other things lately and has not had a chance to read the draft material, about the requirements that are put in the draft circular of legislation to be introduced later in this term. I can understand their concern, because they have not been able to do their work while they have been disadvantaged by their leader’s decision about whether to run in the federal riding of Oshawa or not.
But we have been busy putting in place a system whereby each individual company must file its rates, before they can be used, with the new commissioner. I can tell the honourable gentleman that we will exercise a very strong control through that strengthened office to ensure that fair prices exist in Ontario.
I can tell the honourable member as well that this plan has followed up on three consecutive years of capping of rates, and is in fact going to result in a saving over what might have transpired had this government not been active and dedicated in protecting the rights of the consumers of the province.
I would also just like to indicate quite clearly that what we have done is increase the benefits under the no-fault sections of this policy in a way which had been suggested by many before. In fact, we have gone further to ensure that homemakers now receive --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. I would remind the questioner and the responder that I did allow 95 seconds, which seemed quite long for a question and a response. Perhaps the supplementary could be a little briefer, as well as the answer.
Mr B. Rae: It is perfectly clear now that the insurance industry of Ontario got the government and the Liberal Party that it wanted to rent back in 1987; that is exactly what it got. You have given the insurance industry, which across the board is making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, $143 million in written-off OHIP expenses and in a tax write-off for the insurance companies. That is what you have done; that is what you have done on the backs of consumers --
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: -- and you have taken away from consumers the right to sue and the right to protection.
Can you explain why you have given the insurance companies that much money, given it away to the insurance industry in this province, and taken away rights to sue from consumers? Why have you done that?
The Speaker: Order. Just before I recognize the minister. I might remind all members, in case they have forgotten over the summer recess, that the tradition in Parliament is really to address your comments through the chair. It might be helpful. I will now recognize the minister for a response.
Hon Mr Elston: Again, the member from the New Democratic Party is not correct in the way he chooses to put the facts to the people of the province. He has indicated that we have taken away the right to sue. We have retained the right for people to sue in serious situations. There is the use of the tort system.
The honourable member has also suggested that there is a tax write-off to the insurance companies. That is in fact not correct. What we have done is taken the three per cent premium tax away from the consumers of the province. We have said, “You must pay for this item so that you can have a licence to drive your automobiles in Ontario,” and we have taken that three per cent tax off that premium because they require it to do their daily business and to go about their living.
We have seen that as a positive step to assist people in having affordable product. The honourable gentleman is not thorough enough in putting the beneficial material about this program to the people. He has not indicated that we have increased coverage for students and for those people who are deemed to be employed under our statute. He has not indicated that seniors will also have increased coverage. He has not indicated that those people who suffer very serious and permanent injuries will be able to sue in the courts as before. He has not indicated, as will be the case, that there will be quicker and speedier recovery for those people of lost wages and other things. He must be more thorough in putting forward the full case, to have a balanced presentation.
Mr Kormos: What he said is that thousands and thousands, indeed the majority, of innocent, injured persons will never get any compensation for their injuries under this scheme, which was begged for by the insurance industry. The government knuckled under; the government is its servant, no two ways about it. The minister can talk about enhanced no-fault benefits. Those no-fault benefits were there before.
What about the injustice of an innocent person not being able to collect wages above and beyond the cap or the ceiling of $450 that he dictates? What about the justice of the inadequacy of --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. I just reminded all members that it would be helpful if all members would address their comments through the chair.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman raised a couple of points about collection of wages. I can indicate quite clearly to him, through you, Mr Speaker, that there is certainly going to be a requirement that the companies offer an increase in the amount of wages a person may want to have covered for their own personal benefits. There is going to be an ability to shop for those extra coverages. There is going to be an ability to customize, to personalize their coverage of insurance in a way which consumers were probably not aware they could before.
This, taken in conjunction with our comprehensive plan to reduce accidents by having better traffic monitoring, by having higher fines for bad drivers, by having tougher regulations against impaired drivers, by putting more police officers on the road to enforce our statutes to ensure that the bad drivers do not get away with their bad driving, will ensure that the public in this province will be much better served by this new product, this comprehensive program, the Ontario motorist protection plan, than they have been to this point.
All I ask of the opposition is that it provide a balanced and fair presentation of all aspects of this program to the people, so that the people can --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order. New question, the member for Sarnia.
Mr Brandt: I know this is the one moment of glory, and one should take advantage of it. I have a question for the Premier and to save the time of the House I will redirect it myself.
The Speaker: Your question is to which minister?
Mr Brandt: It is a question with respect to insurance, and coming on the heels of the question raised by the leader of the NDP, I would like to ask the minister: In light of the fact that there was a study commissioned by Justice Coulter Osborne in 1986 -- and the conclusions and the findings of that study were tabled, I believe, in February 1988 -- the minister will realize that in that particular report, which I have brought along with me and which I would like to quote from directly, there was in fact a comment made by Justice Coulter Osborne which specifically advises against the plan for insurance which the minister is proposing for this province.
Hon Mr Bradley: Taken out of context.
Mr Brandt: Taken from the Osborne report, not out of context, I say to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley): “Threshold no-fault should be rejected because it is relatively inefficient and unnecessarily arbitrary. There will be no or minimal savings on transaction costs in threshold no-fault.” End of quote, not taken out of context.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Brandt: I ask the minister, and my question is, in light of the fact that $1.4 million was spent by his government preparing this extensive report, why is it that he has found nothing within the Osborne report which was of value and he has brought in an entirely new system rejecting entirely the $1.4-million report which he commissioned?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman has indicated we have rejected all parts of the Osborne report and that is not again correct.
Hon Mr Bradley: No, that is not right.
Hon Mr Elston: The fact is, there were recommendations about the increase of the no-fault side of that, the benefits, the fact that they had not been increased, and in fact what we have done is we have gone substantially beyond some of the things that Osborne recommended and increased the coverages on a no-fault basis because we saw there was a need to move quickly into a more socially acceptable support system for auto accident victims.
The homemakers are receiving now $185 a week, students, seniors, others, the fact that we have supplementary medical and rehab services at a limit of $500,000 and the long-term care provisions at $500,000 actually go a long way to addressing some of the concerns that Osborne has indicated in his report. In fact, we have used the Osborne report extensively.
In addition to that, we have taken very seriously his recommendations that if there were no-fault benefits in place, there ought to be more stringent requirements, requiring auto insurance companies to provide better service for their insured. In fact, that is what we are doing as well. So lest the leader be under some misapprehension about how closely we read the Osborne report, we read it quite closely. We have used a lot of the material there and it has assisted us --
The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.
Mr Brandt: The key recommendation in that report was rejected entirely by the government as it relates to the way in which auto insurance should be handled. Let me ask the minister that in connection with the second report that was commissioned by his government, which cost something in the order of $7.5 million, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board report which I have before me, in the context of that report that said, “There will be an increase in the level of driving activity by high-risk drivers and a resulting increase in accident frequency.”
It went on in another part of the report, if I can indulge the time of the House for a moment, to say: “No proof that price increases in threshold no-fault states are more moderate than in other states. There is evidence that price increases in threshold no-fault systems can be significantly greater.”
Since there are close to $9 million in costs which have in fact been commissioned by the minister’s government with respect to two very extensive studies, can he table for this House any studies or any reports which will in fact support the position that he is taking in connection with his policies relative to auto insurance?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable leader of the third party has indicated that we spent $7 million on the auto board report. That is not correct. Again, the operation of the auto board over the whole course of the year in the production of several reports has added up to $7 million. That is an expensive operation, there is no question about that, but it is not with respect of that.
To tell the honourable gentleman something else about the way the report has expressed the concern, it has said, “Listen, threshold by itself will not save money,” and that is true. If he takes a look at the entire report and if he takes a look at the series of reports that has come out of the Ontario auto board, he will be enlightened to find out that people have said:
“You must do something in a comprehensive manner to control costs. Eliminate accidents if possible; do a whole series of things to make better drivers out of all of the people in the world; make sure the poor drivers pay the price of their poor driving; make sure that you enforce your statutes much more thoroughly and increase fines.”
We have taken all of the material along those lines and brought it forward and come up with a comprehensive package that will ensure that in fact we are taking the most dedicated steps towards eliminating accidents. We want to be sure that the people in the province are driving in a safe atmosphere. We want to be sure that, as much as possible, we prevent deaths, that we prevent injuries --
The Speaker: Thank you. That is a thoroughly comprehensive answer. Final supplementary.
Mr Brandt: Final supplementary to the minister. In view of the fact that $9 million has been spent -- now the minister argues not all of it on this report -- but certainly he would know that the hearings that were conducted with respect to this particular report were conducted as part of the findings that were finalized in the document itself. Surely the minister will realize that $9 million was spent there.
Surely the minister will realize in addition that he granted through his own devious methods some $145 million to insurance companies. He in fact has granted very substantial millions of dollars in addition to giving the insurance companies in this particular new process that he has devised a system --
The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat.
Mr Brandt: Can the minister provide any studies that show --
The Speaker: Order. Minister.
Hon Mr Elston: It is too bad the honourable gentleman was not more thorough in his reading of the material than he was for the standing orders. He was thorough about his language so he would not be thrown out, but I can tell the honourable gentleman that the results of the studies -- Slater, Osborne and the OAIB -- are cumulative in the sense that we brought them all together and we have seen what was recommended in Osborne about better no-fault.
Take a look at Slater and see what he recommended. Take a look at the OAIB and see what it really argues for in a very concerted way is the presence of a very strong regulator, and in fact there is a very strong regulator present in our draft legislation, the legislation which will be presented here later in this session.
We are taking to heart the recommendations that we must prevent accidents from happening. That more than anything else is going to be a benefit for our society, so we have come up with a comprehensive package, and I agree with the member that we have at its centre the insurance policy. But we did not stop there. We have the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) who is doing his part. We have the Attorney General (Mr Scott) who is doing his part. We have Consumer and Commercial Relations --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. That completes this debate.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. On 25 July of this year, his predecessor stood in this House and spoke in support of a government motion referring the Ontario Human Rights Commission to an all-party legislative committee. At that time the member for Etohicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) said, and I quote:
“There has been a cloud over the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and I think this inquiry in an open way will help to get certain matters out into the open where we can look at them and make some recommendations to ensure that that cloud disappears. There have been a number of irregularities -- inadequate priority given to identifying candidates of visible-minority groups in hiring, no employment equity program in place at the time” --
The Speaker: And the question?
Mrs Marland: -- and at which time the committee would like to look at a top-down approach in staffing. My question to the minister is this. Does the minister agree and support the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale’s opinion, to lift the cloud and have a full and open inquiry before the legislative committee?
Hon Mr Wong: I believe that my predecessor made a statement. I believe the government has lived up to that commitment. An operational review report was completed looking into the matters which the member raised: The authors of that report appeared before the standing committee on government agencies.
In addition, there were two reports written by Coopers and Lybrand. Again, the authors of those reports appeared before the standing committee. Furthermore, the ministry has, in written form, tabled a statement reviewing how the ministry and the Ontario Human Rights Commission responded to these reports.
So the standing committee in its wisdom decided that it had more than enough information and that rather than rehashing the past, now was the time to begin to look at the future. I am very pleased that the new commissioner of the commission will be appearing before the committee.
Mrs Marland: The one mistake that the minister has made, however, is that the statement of the former minister was made after the interministerial government review committee report, not before.
I would like to tell the minister that last Friday six Liberal government members voted against having an invitation extended to Raj Anand, the former chief commissioner, and other former employees to come before that committee, in spite of the fact that Mr Anand himself said that he would welcome the opportunity to appear before a legislative committee and the former minister said he thought that was a very good idea. We now have in writing information which puts into question the government’s internal review committee’s report on the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Mr Amin, one of the co-authors of that report, told the members of our standing committee on government agencies last week that they were not aware of a person by the name of Lynn Dowling.
The Speaker: Question.
Mrs Marland: The people of Ontario deserve better than this whitewash. My question to the minister is this: Will he instruct the Liberal members of the standing committee on government agencies to vote in favour of at least hearing both sides of this issue by inviting Raj Anand and other former Ontario Human Rights Commission employees to come before the committee?
Hon Mr Wong: The standing committee is an independent committee made up of members who are very responsible. As I indicated, more than enough information and analysis has been completed. I am sure the committee members, in their own wisdom, will come to the correct judgements and decisions.
Mrs Marland: I suppose we do not know what this minister wants. At least we knew what the former minister wanted.
I think it is very significant that the minister says that this committee is independent, because I am about to quote to him another independent source. I quote to him the Information and Privacy Commissioner who last week issued order 99, and I just want to read a quote to him. In this order, Commissioner Sidney Linden says:
“In my view, the desirability of subjecting the institution to public scrutiny and restoring public confidence in the integrity of the institution outweighs any invasion of the privacy of the successful candidate which would be brought about by the disclosure of her employment history.”
The Speaker: Question.
Mrs Marland: My question to the minister is this: If Commissioner Linden, who is non-party, non-Legislature, noncommittee, thinks that this is of such compelling public interest that the Ontario Human Rights Commission must release this information, would the minister not --
Mr Speaker: Thank you. Minister.
Hon Mr Wong: On the one hand, the honourable member suggests that the minister should be directly telling the standing committee members what to do, and I have indicated that there is independence of the committee. On the other hand, Commissioner Linden has made his viewpoint known.
Again, I believe it is the responsibility of the standing committee members to make a determination on how best to look at this matter, but, as the committee members said the other day, they are prepared to begin looking ahead to ensure that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is both strong and independent in its own right.
LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Premier. It concerns the document entitled Reforming Our Land Use and Development System, but I see that from the media today it is called Project X. Can the Premier tell the House whether or not he supports the principles embodied in this report?
Hon Mr Peterson: The Minister of Housing can help the honourable member.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member is well aware of the fact that builders and developers and municipalities across the province have been indicating for a very long period of time, even before this government was formed, that the existing planning and approval process is unduly lengthy.
The Premier has clearly indicated to my ministries, both the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, that he wishes that to be rectified. Project X that the member refers to indicated some ways in which that might be done. It has been clearly identified as not -- let me underline that -- as not government policy but simply a discussion document as to some of the ways in which that might be done.
I would emphasize for the honourable member that the term “sustainable” appears in that document on a number of occasions. Let me clearly say to the honourable member that in the lexicon of this government sustainable means environmentally sustainable.
Mrs Grier: The minister will also know that in the document appears the phrase “sustained development” and it is unclear when one reads the document which adjective in fact is the correct one. Can the minister tell the House whether in the directions that the Premier (Mr Peterson) gave that the approval process be speeded up, it was the intention or is the intention of this government to destroy the environmental assessment process, to make a mockery of claims of open and consultative process and to send a signal to all of the developers and speculators that exist in this province that it is open season on raw land, as the document terms agricultural land? Is that the kind of speedup that this government wants to see in place?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The answer to the question is clearly no. It is not a case of speeding up for the sake of speeding up but rather of asking ourselves in clear language how can we do the kind of job that needs to be done. How can we protect the environment? How can we protect agricultural land that we want protected? How can we protect wetlands? How can we be sure that proper transportation corridors are in place? How can we be sure that the affordable housing priority of this government gets the attention and support that it needs? How can all of those things be done in a more effective, more productive way?
We are being told by everyone who is involved in this process at the present time that there are ways in which you can cover all the things that have to be done, but do it more effectively. One way, for example, is doing a number of approvals concurrently, asking several agencies to look at the same request at the same time rather than to do it in sequence. That is just one small way of doing it. That is the whole purpose.
Can we provide the opportunity for affordable housing in this province by shortening the time line? Because so many people are telling us with the time line as long as it is now, the price of land is inevitably going up higher than what it ought to. A number of smaller builders and developers who would like to be a part of the process --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health and it concerns patients receiving treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital. I would like to remind the minister that in this House on 14 June of this year she said that one of her priority areas, and I quote, for the ministry as “part of our specialty care action plan” was to make sure that all cancer patients could receive radiation treatment here in the province of Ontario. On 22 June, she went on to say that, “We are doing it so that people will have access to the care they need” as she so nicely says, “when they need it, as close to home as possible.”
How does the minister coincide those statements that she made in this Legislature during the month of June of this year with the fact that Princess Margaret is now saying that patients may have to travel outside the province of Ontario, indeed outside the country of Canada, to receive the radiation treatment they need? What happened to her specialty action plan?
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I know of the member’s concern. I know he cares as much as I do about making sure that cancer patients have access to the care that they need when they need it. He knows as well that this is a priority for the ministry and that we have been working with the Princess Margaret Hospital, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, as well as the Canadian Cancer Society. We have established a Cancer Patient Referral Office at the Princess Margaret Hospital to ensure that people get the care that they need when they need it and as close to home as possible.
Mr Eves: A minister and a government that prides itself in a world-class health care system, as they say, now is admitting that as close to home as possible in some cases may mean Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the United States of America. Is that the minister’s idea of a world-class health care system? Is this her specialty plan to make sure cancer patients receive treatment as soon as possible as close to home as possible? Where is her plan? What is she doing with it and why can the people not get the treatment here in the province of Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As I said to the member, we have been working in partnership with all those who care, as I do, about seeing that people get the care they need. Let me quote from the letter I received from the chairman of the Princess Margaret Hospital.
“The board and the senior staff were very pleased that a co-operative approach has been reached among the OCI, Princess Margaret Hospital, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society with the support of the Ministry of Health and endorse the view that a system-wide partnership response is imperative.”
He ends his letter by saying, “I want to express to you our sincere thanks for your rapid response to the needs of the cancer patients at this time.”
The Speaker: Order. I will just wait, again. Do you want to waste the time?
Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The farmers in Oxford county have been asking me questions and it has come to my attention that the GATT panel report on Canadian import restrictions on ice cream and yoghurt has found that Canada is in contravention of GATT rules. Can the minister advise the House what is his ministry’s position on this ruling and what he plans to do?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank my friend from Oxford county. I must say, as has been mentioned here, that maybe the answer to his previous concern as addressed in members’ statements is the superior quality of Oxford county cheese. I thank him for his wonderful hosting this summer.
I too share the member’s concern of the GATT panel decision against Canadian yoghurt and ice cream. I feel that this has very serious ramifications for the future of the Canadian dairy import quota and the operating of the Canadian dairy supply management scheme that we have in this country.
On 18 September, I wrote Mr Mazankowski, the federal Minister of Agriculture, expressing my concerns and stating to him that if it was his intention to implement this ruling, I would at least ask that this ruling be delayed until the completion of the Uruguay round of talks.
Mr Tatham: We have to skate with our heads up. I have been informed that the dairy industry in the United States is attempting to break into the Canadian market through the use of the GATT panel ruling. However, the United States has a mechanism to protect its own market. Is this in fact the case and could the minister elaborate on the US situation?
Hon Mr Ramsay: That is correct. The irony of the free trade deal of course is that existing trade law that is existing upon the signing of that deal remains. Unfortunately, the United States has a waiver under GATT that prevents ice cream from being imported into the United States. While the United States is trying to access Canadian markets for its ice cream and yoghurt, it has trade law in place that is standing today under free trade that prevents Canadian access to yoghurt and ice cream in that country. I think it is obviously unfair, inequitable and intolerable. This government supports the dairy farmers of this province in trying to fight this.
Mr Farnan: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. The number of correctional staff has remained static since 1985 while there has been a steady increase in inmate population, an increasingly volatile population.
As a result, the correctional institutions are not only overcrowded but constitute dangerous workplaces. Last year, buildings originally designed to house 2,700 inmates had 4,446 inmates, 64 per cent over the design capacity.
When will the minister recognize that overcrowding is not a temporary phenomenon, that the health and life of correctional officers are being put at risk and that the ministry must provide a guarantee of adequate staffing ratios within the building design capacity?
The Speaker: Order. Just before I recognize the minister to respond, I would say to all visitors, we are glad you are here to listen to the proceedings; however, it is not correct for any visitors to participate or demonstrate in any way.
Hon Mr Patten: First of all, I would like to say to the member for Cambridge, I look forward to working with him as critic for Correctional Services. I would also like to welcome some of my ministry officials here today. When they see some of the working conditions here, I think they might have a greater appreciation for some of their own.
The member for Cambridge made a comment that suggested the staffing has remained constant over the years. Indeed, the staffing percentage in relation to the people whom we are responsible for has increased considerably since 1984, to a far higher degree.
The issue he talks about is one of importance. There is no question that from time to time we do have some fluctuations in our inmate counts. He will well know that when that happens, there are procedures in the ministry in order for us to deal with that, whether it be related to transfers or whether it be --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr Farnan: There is overwhelming evidence that accidents and illness are high among correctional officers, and many officers do not live to enjoy retirement. No wonder that correctional officers are asking for early retirement provisions similar to those for police officers, firemen and OPP officers, who can retire before the hazards of their job catch up with them.
Given that federal correction workers and correction officers in Newfoundland, British Columbia and other jurisdictions have early retirement plans, will the minister act to bring in changes to pension legislation to improve the early retirement provisions for Ontario’s correctional officers?
Hon Mr Patten: The member may well know that the collective bargaining process is in place at the moment, but it is the Human Resources Secretariat that does the bargaining on behalf of our ministry related to our employees. Within the ministry, we have employee-staff committees that meet from time to time and discuss the situations that face many of the correctional officers. These are in all of our institutions; they meet and identify the problems they face and come up with solutions.
The member may also know that there is a request for arbitration going on right now. I am not sure if there was a date that was named today or not. As part of those discussions, there will be some examination of the nature of the benefits and the wages.
Mr Sterling: I have a question of our new Solicitor General. This past weekend a high-speed police pursuit in Rockland, near the city of Ottawa, resulted in the death of an innocent 21-year-old man.
In January 1987, I asked the then Solicitor General, the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes), what he was going to do about police chases. At that time he said a final submission would be placed before cabinet within weeks of that time. The member for Kingston and The Islands has resigned.
The next Solicitor General, the member for London South (Mrs E. J. Smith), also answered a question in the Legislature and said there was imminent action with regard to police chases that was going to happen in this government. Nothing has happened. The member for London South has gone.
Now the member for Mississauga North (Mr Offer) is the Solicitor General. Can we hope for some resolution from him with regard to police chases and the policy surrounding that problem?
Hon Mr Offer: As the honourable member has indicated quite rightly, last Saturday there was a police pursuit which resulted in death. I would like to indicate to the member that following this, an immediate investigation has been undertaken by the Ottawa Police Force. Accordingly, since at this time they are investigating the matter, it is both premature and inappropriate for me to comment on the issue. However, I would like to say that, though it is inappropriate to comment on the facts of the particular case, it is not inappropriate for me to comment generally on the issue of police pursuit.
When I was first appointed to this position, I was introduced to a number of issues within the ministry; one was the issue surrounding police pursuits. I would like to indicate that I personally have placed a very high priority on this issue. We have been working in consultation, through my ministry, with a number of individuals. I believe we will be introducing province-wide guidelines with respect to police pursuits. The paramount consideration will be the interest of the public.
Mr Sterling: A report with 27 different recommendations was given to this government in 1985. The Solicitor General has indicated to us that it is a priority. Will the Solicitor General tell me when he is going to do this so that in fact we can have a date, because in the past other solicitor generals have promised action but have never brought it to fruition. Will he promise me and the people of the Ottawa-Carleton area who have suffered this fatality over the past weekend a date as to when this is going to happen?
Hon Mr Offer: As I indicated earlier, since my appointment to this ministry, I personally have placed a very high priority on this issue. I cannot give the member an absolute date at this point in time, save as to the fact that we are currently reviewing the existing guidelines. As the member will be aware, there is one guideline for the OPP and there are guidelines on a municipality or regional police force base across the province. I believe it to be the responsibility of this ministry and this minister to have province-wide guidelines dealing with the issue of police pursuits, and that is what I intend to do.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr Chiarelli: My question is to the minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. As the minister will know, my riding of Ottawa West has the largest number of seniors of any riding in Ontario. First, those seniors would want me to congratulate the minister on his new appointment, but they are quite concerned about the proposed goods and services tax of the federal government.
Don Blenkarn, chairman of the federal House of Commons finance committee, which is currently studying this proposal, stated recently that the proposed goods and services tax will not hurt seniors, and yet he is quoted as saying:
“Older people don’t wear out their clothing and don’t wear out their furniture. They live at a slower pace and they don’t spend money.” Would the minister please comment’?
Hon Mr Morin: I want to thank my colleague the member for Ottawa West for asking me this question and for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself as the new minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. In response to his question, the chairman of the federal committee --
An hon member: What’s that on your desk?
Hon Mr Morin: My notes. The chairman of the federal finance committee is promoting stereotypes that Ontario’s older adults find very offensive, and so do I. In the two months since my appointment as the minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs, I have travelled extensively throughout the province and had the opportunity to meet many senior citizens that are more energetic than many of us here. One has only to see a headline in today’s paper that describes one of our most famous senior citizens at 70 as energetic, fit, sexy and enjoying life.
In response to the federal member’s statements I would also like to quote a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star --
The Speaker: Order. With respect, it has been a fairly lengthy response and our standing orders are very clear there. If it takes a lengthy response, one should respond in writing.
The Speaker: Order. The member might wish to try a supplementary.
Mr Chiarelli: Can the minister tell the House what he will be doing to reassure these senior citizens and to help protect them against the uncaring federal government?
Hon Mr Morin: I would also like to quote a letter sent to the editor of the Toronto Star last week from a Mr Harvey who says, “We have many friends who are seniors who have a lifestyle every bit as outgoing as younger people, and who will be seriously affected by this infamous tax.”
As minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs, I view it as a part of my responsibilities to address the stereotypes of ageing and let it be known that Ontario’s older adults are a force to be reckoned with on this issue and every other.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mr Philip: I have a question to the new Minister of Citizenship. The minister’s predecessor stated on 8 June in this House that he welcomed an all-party inquiry into the Ontario Human Rights Commission and told the Legislature there would be “nothing that would be inappropriate to discuss with that committee.... Nothing could be more open, more fully discussed, more honest” in dealing with the matter. Why has this minister now changed that position?
Hon Mr Wong: We have not changed our position. First of all, it is an all-party committee.
Second, the ministry is not interfering at all with the standing committee on government agencies in its activities and deliberations. We were asked to provide some input to give our opinion on the preceding reports, which I referred to earlier. We did so.
Mr Philip: On 8 June the minister’s predecessor told the press that Raj Anand had made important contributions to the Human Rights Commission and that he felt Mr Anand would be happy to appear before the committee and outline the direction in which that commission was headed.
The government’s own representatives on the steering committee holding hearings on this matter indicated that Mr Anand would be one of the witnesses and agreed to that only two weeks ago. Why has the government now changed this position to refuse the right of Mr Anand to appear before that committee? Why has the minister done such a flip-flop from the decisions made and the promises made by his predecessor?
Hon Mr Wong: Again, I think the important issue here is consistency and making sure a thorough job is done to make sure that the hiring practices and other matters which the committee wanted to investigate have been and would be thoroughly analysed and investigated, and to make sure that in the future the commission is operating in a very strong and independent fashion. I think the committee members of the standing committee who hold that responsibility are exercising it in as fine a fashion as they can.
FARM TAX REBATE
Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the new Minister of Agriculture and Food. Last week he met with the executive of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture regarding the unilateral changes to the farm tax rebate. This, by the way, was the first face-to-face meeting the minister had with the farming community about changes to the most significant farm assistance program in Ontario.
I would like to ask the minister why he, the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) absolutely refuse to accept the OFA’s proposal which would have saved the government some $16 million in payments, would have reduced by several million dollars the bureaucracy required to process this rebate and would have been much fairer to Ontario’s agriculture?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I must say that my predecessor, upon announcing on 16 June this year the new farm tax rebate program, did meet with the federation on that morning and had a couple of meetings also during supper. The good news, I would say, is that the application forms went out on Friday, so this week farmers in the province will have these applications in hand. Those applicants coming back should be receiving cheques some time in November.
Mr Villeneuve: The government unilaterally slashed the farm tax rebate program. By simply setting up a steering committee, which the minister has done recently, does he expect that the agricultural community of Ontario will believe that after the fact, after he has made all the decisions in the corner office, in the office of the Treasurer, Ontario will accept these changes he has made unilaterally and will now be blaming a steering committee? Will he, if indeed he proceeds with this program, keep the financial information and the means test that he is asking farmers to do confidential to his ministry?
Hon Mr Ramsay: There are a couple of questions there. Most certainly any financial information will obviously remain confidential and will not be verified, as some people are saying, with the federal Department of Revenue records. That is simply not done and we certainly will not be doing that.
I am glad the member brought up the consultation committee because to me that is very important. It is important now that we get to work and work together on designing a program for next year. The federation, as the member knows, is working with the ministry in designing that. I want to assure the member that the terms of reference are extremely broad and that the committee is to look at the whole challenge of assessment and taxation on food-producing land in this province.
Mr Matrundola: My question is to the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy (Mr Black). I recently sent out a household questionnaire which included a question concerning illegal drug use. I received a large response, with a vast majority expressing an overwhelming concern in this area. We have also seen the United States recently announced a drug crackdown that seems to consist mainly of building more prisons to house drug dealers. Can the minister tell us what programs he would implement in Ontario in order to counteract and curb this serious and deadly issue we are facing today.
Hon Mr Black: I want to thank the member for his question and for giving me advance notice of the question. He will be aware that the American thrust is one that focused largely on interdiction and on law enforcement. In Ontario, we recognize the importance of law enforcement in the fight against drugs, and I want to stress that it will be part of our strategy to continue to support the law enforcement community as it works to help us in finding a solution.
However, we also recognize that if we are to find a long-term solution it is going to rest with programs of education and prevention and with programs that have a strong component of intervention and treatment. So we hope to use a tri-pronged approach, if you like, that will help us work on programs that have long-term benefit while we keep our communities safe and secure.
The Speaker: I would remind members that I am sure they have read the standing orders with the new proposals for petitions.
Mr Cousens: I have 36 names that were gathered at the Markham Fair having to do with the Rouge natural heritage park:
“We the undersigned, to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor in Council, strongly urge Premier Peterson and the provincial government to follow through on their commitment to save the Rouge by establishing the proposed Rouge valley and tableland provincial park.
“Furthermore, we strongly object to any provincial plans to build major highways, housing subdivisions and/or dump sites adjacent to this national wildlife treasure that should become a provincial park.”
So submitted, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: I would ask all members to refrain from their many, many private conversations.
Mr Tatham: To the Premier and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas on November 18, 1986, the French Language Services Act of Ontario has been passed, the French and implementation procedure were not publicized to the awareness of the general public and seven elected members were absent in the House on the above date and the majority of citizens of Ontario were not represented; and whereas at no time have the people of Ontario chosen to become officially bilingual by giving a mandate to the government by referendum; and whereas the vast majority of Ontarians speak English fluently; and whereas the implementation of Bill 8 is proceeding with enormous cost to taxpayers while cutbacks are being made in funding in health care, education, environment, etc; and whereas one official language is a practical necessity; so
“We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, hereby affirm that we desire English to be the one and only official language, and furthermore petition the government of Ontario to repeal Bill 8, the French Language Services Act of Ontario, without delay and keep English the only official language in this province.”
There are 186 signatures.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr Callahan from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption.
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 3, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario consequent upon Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill 2, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
Bills ordered for committee of the whole House.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Mr Laughren from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills, as amended:
Bill 30, An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments;
Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ENERGY
Mr Carrothers from the select committee on energy presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill 204, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr Neumann from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:
Bill 147, An Act respecting Independent Health Facilities.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr Elliot from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr Callahan: Mr Callahan from the standing committee on administration of justice, pursuant to the order of the House of 26 July 1989, presented the committee’s report on the 1988 Report of the Ontario Provincial Courts Committee and moved adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker: I wonder if the member for Brampton South has a few comments.
Mr Callahan: I have nothing to say, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: I understood in the report -- however, do you adjourn the debate?
On motion by Mr Callahan, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES ACT, 1989
Mr Phillips moved first reading of Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes.
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO ENERGY BOARD AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Charlton moved first reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Charlton: The purpose of this bill is give the Ontario Energy Board additional powers to regulate electricity rates and to investigate matters such as demand and supply options, short- and long-term planning, and avoided costs.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr Ward moved resolution 14:
That Mr Breaugh, member for the electoral district of Oshawa, be appointed First Deputy Chair of the committee of the whole House for the remainder of the Parliament and that Mr Cureatz, member for the electoral district of Durham East, be appointed Second Deputy Chair of the committee of the whole House for the remainder of the Parliament.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 15:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, the House (a) not meet on the morning of Thursday 19 October 1989; (b) meet during the week of 5 November 1989; and (c) not meet on Monday 13
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved resolution 16:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or previous order of the House, the following changes be made to the order of precedence for private members’ public business: (a) Mr Hampton and Mr Charlton exchange places; (b) Ms Hart and Messrs Offer, Beer and Morin be deleted from the order of precedence and all members of the Liberal caucus listed thereafter be advanced by one place in their turn; (c) the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 20.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 17:
That, notwithstanding standing order 57, the standing committee on estimates shall consider in the fall meeting period the estimates of not more than six ministries and offices to be selected in one round by members of the committee.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 18:
That, notwithstanding any previous order of the House, the following schedule for committee meetings be established for the remainder of this session: the standing committee on administration of justice may meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on estimates may meet on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on finance and economic affairs may meet on Thursday mornings and Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on general government may meet on Thursday mornings and Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on government agencies may meet on Wednesday mornings; the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly may meet on Wednesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on the Ombudsman may meet on Wednesday mornings; the standing committee on public accounts may meet on Thursday mornings; the standing committee on regulations and private bills may meet on Wednesday mornings; the standing committee on resources development may meet on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings; and the standing committee on social development may meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons following routine proceedings; and that no standing or select committee may meet except in accordance with this schedule or as ordered by the House.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved resolution 19:
That the select committee on education be authorized to meet during the week of 15 October 1989..
Motion agreed to,
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Ward: I would seek unanimous consent to proceed with second reading of the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Act.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent as our standing orders say? No, there is not unanimous consent. I am sorry.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Wrye moved second reading of Bill 219, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act, 1989.
Hon Mr Wrye: Just in case we happened to get on this afternoon, I do have a few comments on second reading.
I am very pleased to introduce this amending legislation to the House for second reading. I am pleased because it contains provisions that support two of the principles that are really the highest priorities to the Ministry of Transportation and to the government as a whole, and they are the principles of safety and personal mobility. The bill also includes amendments that will contribute to the efficient operation of our highways and that will therefore promote and maintain economic development throughout the province.
On the mobility side, a portable parking permit for disabled persons is being created. This permit will be issued directly to the disabled person and will travel with that disabled person in whatever vehicle he happens to be driving or riding as a passenger. You will be familiar, as will the House, Mr Speaker, that this permit will be replacing the disabled symbol licence plate, which is now issued by my ministry, as well as by all permits issued by individual municipalities.
In that regard, the bill contains complementary amendments which will give the permit status under the Ontario Municipal Act. At the same time, a model bylaw has been prepared by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that will encourage municipalities to provide province-wide consistency and uniformity in parking for disabled persons.
There are several other important provisions in this legislation which will protect what a lot of us think is our most precious resource, and that is our children. One will prevent small children from being exposed to the risks associated with travelling on adults’ laps or in the cargo area of vehicles.
It is a well-known and a well-documented fact that unrestrained children are extremely vulnerable to injury in the event of an accident. It has also been proven that an adult cannot hold on to a child even in a low speed collision. Yet almost two thirds of the babies killed in Ontario accidents were sitting on someone’s lap at the time of impact.
This bill will therefore make it mandatory for any child under 23 kilograms, and that is the average weight of a five-year-old, to be placed in a vacant seating position where there is a restraint available. This provision is in keeping with our new emphasis on achieving an across-the-board increase in restraint use. We have set for ourselves a goal of achieving 90 per cent seatbelt usage in the 1990s and that is a very significant improvement, a very significant increase of 20 per cent over today’s rates of just over 70 per cent.
With that aim in mind, October has been designated for heightened enforcement of our seatbelt law by police forces throughout the province. Thus, I think it is very significant and appropriate at this time that the seatbelt usage matter legislative changes for young children is contained in Bill 219, this act amending our Highway Traffic Act. The legislation is also going to enhance school bus safety by more clearly setting out the responsibilities of operators, of passengers and of other road users.
In addition, a separate series of amendments will clarify the rights and responsibilities of cyclists, something of tremendous importance for young people, though not exclusively for young people. The status of bicycles as vehicles will be emphasized and cyclists will be reminded that they are subject to the same rules of the road as automobiles.
Brakes will become mandatory equipment and cyclists who break the law will be required to identify themselves to police. This is a matter which was brought to the attention of the Legislature by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier) in a private member’s bill. It is a matter which has concerned all members of the Legislature for some period of time, and I think it, along with our other changes as they pertain to cyclists, is very welcome indeed.
There are a number of other amendments which will be aimed at improving operational efficiency. For instance, vehicles removing snow from municipal roads or carrying out emergency maintenance will be exempt from certain rules of the road which could inhibit their operations. In addition, in order to improve traffic flow, tow-truck operators will be prohibited from soliciting at accident scenes.
The remaining provisions of the bill, and there are a number, are routine provisions which are usually contained in these amendments to the Highway Traffic Act which come before the House from time to time. They are of a housekeeping nature. They deal with such matters as dishonoured cheques, services rendered by agents, fire marshal vehicles, municipal signs and bylaws and removal of abandoned vehicles.
In summation, however, the bill contains a number of important changes to the Highway Traffic Act and I ask the House to give its early and very positive attention to the amendments contained in Bill 219.
Mr Morin-Strom: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on second reading of Bill 219. This bill was introduced by the government more than six months ago, back in February 1989, and the government did not act on it during the spring session.
I am pleased, however, that the government has come forward with it very quickly now that we are into the fall session of our sittings. I think it is one we can accommodate relatively easily. It is one our party will be supporting, because it does address, at least in small measure, improving safety on our highways and provides some improvements to the Highway Traffic Act.
The initiatives that are included have been long awaited by many and various communities in our province. One initiative in particular that has been long-awaited is one that affects the disabled community. This bill will provide for the issuance of new disabled person parking permits, ones which will not have to be permanently affixed to the licence plates of a specific vehicle but rather will be a portable permit that will enable the disabled to have greater flexibility in the usage of more convenient parking places, that will accommodate them whether they are in the main vehicle they use or whether they may be in another vehicle, depending on the particular application of the day. I know this initiative is one that has been awaited by the disabled community and is appreciated at this time.
There are some other initiatives in the bill, many of which are technical in nature, which will provide some measure of improvement with respect to safety as well.
One of the ones that has generated some concern has to do with the new air brake endorsement. This amendment authorizes the ministry to conduct a test for the purposes of the air brake endorsement licensing, a test which has not been required in the past. This has generated some concern from drivers of vehicles, particularly, in many communities, from bus drivers who may be driving vehicles which do not even have air brakes on them. It is perhaps a bit onerous to be demanding tests for drivers specifically on the air brakes, which, as I understand it, is quite a difficult test requiring some new training and knowledge. If the driver is not driving a vehicle that is equipped with air brakes, I am not sure the extent to which the ministry has gone is necessary in all cases.
Of course, the general thrust of this kind of measure is, I think, a valuable one. Those drivers who are handling equipment that could be quite hazardous should have a full understanding of the equipment they are handling and should be required to do so.
My reading of the bill is that this bill will allow regulations with respect to this test, and I guess I would just suggest to the minister that he take a close look at how the test is being administered, who is being required to take the test and to what extent additional training and knowledge is required, particularly in the case of bus drivers who may be older persons. Very often, school bus drivers are driving part-time as a retirement type of job, and if the vehicle they are driving does not have air brakes, I am not sure the kind of testing procedure that is currently being envisioned by the ministry is completely required. This does not require a change in the bill, but perhaps just a closer look at the regulations the ministry is planning and what the specifics of the testing program are going to be.
I notice there are some initiatives with respect to seatbelts and school buses as well, but I do not see the two combined. I think there is a considerable desire in the province to see seatbelts installed on all school buses in the province and required for our children. This certainly would be a safety measure that almost everyone could welcome, but it has not been specifically required in the bill. The bill does require that drivers will be responsible for ensuring that children in their own vehicles, those children under 23 kilograms in weight, do occupy seats fitted with seatbelts, but I think a similar requirement should be made on buses of the province as well, particularly the school buses.
As I said, there are some other initiatives with respect to providing safety in the handling and operation of school buses, and those are appreciated.
I guess we should make some mention as well that this bill was introduced well in advance of the government’s initiatives with respect to safety, announced last month, related to the Ontario motorist protection plan, which the government is touting as the solution to its auto insurance problems.
At the time of the government’s latest announcement of initiatives related to auto insurance, the government announced it was going to take a number of initiatives to improve safety on the highway, with the objective of reducing the accident rate in Ontario. This will require a series of new measures, both legislative and in terms of new regulations. These are not being proceeded with as part of this legislation, and we certainly eagerly await the bill from the minister that will relate to highway traffic safety and the additional improvements the minister is planning to both make our highways safer and reduce the accident rates in the province. I understand from the minister that there is a bill pending there, but we have not seen any sign of it to this point and would very much appreciate the specifics of that legislation.
At this time, I think our party can support this bill as it has been presented. I appreciate the fact that the minister has finally brought it forward for debate in the Legislature, and we do look forward to its passage.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate?
Mr McCague: I would be glad to. First, I would like to congratulate the minister on his new portfolio and to congratulate his predecessor for the work he did in that portfolio and for being here today to quarterback the consideration of this very important bill.
One of the very important areas which this bill attempts to address is the area of bicycles. While both the gentlemen I have referred to earlier may not realize what it is like to drive these days, I, as a former cabinet minister, am well aware of what it is like to drive these days, and the hazard that I think bicycles are on our roads; and the bicycle operators may think I am the same to them.
However, you do not have to drive far from here at Queen’s Park to see the abuses of the rules that are prevalent among those riding bicycles. For instance, you go from Queen’s Park, across Wellesley, attempt to turn right on Bay Street, and you may be a quarter or halfway around the corner and the bicycle people will still go past you on the right. That may be their privilege, but it is a very dangerous thing.
We have too many people crossing on their bicycles on crosswalks. And then we have, as the minister may know, many people racing orange lights these days, but there are just as many bicycles racing orange lights as there are cars, which is very dangerous. The first thing I look at before I make a turn off any given street in Toronto is whether there is a bicycle coming; because of their size, they are a little more difficult to see. Quite often there is one coming.
I know the minister is not addressing all the problems here with bicycle traffic and I think it is difficult to improve everything in one bill, but I hope it is an area which he continues to study and put forward amendments. It is always amazing to me that a bill that has been in existence as long as the Highway Traffic Act would have as many amendments as this one has. The minister could tell me that for 42 years there were a lot of amendments that should have been made and he is just getting around to making them. That, of course, is not true either. The amendments will go on and on and on as traffic patterns, vehicles, drivers, other vehicles like bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles -- there always will be things that have to be changed because of the change in the world we live in. There always seem to be amendments regarding how people write cheques. That is not the biggest one of my worries, but I guess the ministry has to collect its money for the Treasury.
The amendment the minister is including here for the use of disabled persons’ parking permits is a very popular one and one which has been advocated for the past two or three years.
The air brake endorsement, while that is unpopular with some who are involved, I think is a move in the right direction for all public safety.
Emergency vehicles have caused some controversy in the past. I am not sure, but the minister might comment on this when he makes his remarks. The particular instance I will refer to is one in which a fire chief, for instance, would have a red light behind his grille and might live a mile or two miles from the fire station. If the fire alarm sounds, he can leave his home, travel in excess of the speed limit with his lights on, and therefore, I hope, add to getting the fire out and not be a nuisance as far as public safety is concerned. You might answer whether or not the people who are volunteers are going to be able to put any type of insignia on the car to aid them to get to the site of the problem as quickly as possible.
Of course, the seatbelt amendments are always good. The seatbelt program was a very controversial one a few years ago, but I think it is now proven that it was a very worthwhile program and has been adopted through many states of the United States. You do from time to time, of course, hear of positive things that happen because somebody was not wearing a seatbelt, but on average your chances are much, much better, and I hope the minister will proceed with making this program mandatory.
The road service vehicles have given difficulty from time to time. I am not sure how the ordinary driver feels about the fact that you might see three or four of them lined up at every cloverleaf; it is nice to know they are there if you get in trouble, but I think there are some people who feel nervous because they are there and would be just as happy if they were hidden some other place.
All in all, we will be in favour of these amendments which have been proposed by the former minister and are now being put through by the present minister. One would hope the list would not be so long the next time, but I forecast it will be. I just hope the minister is prepared to spend some time on the whole area of bicycles, because it is becoming more and more dangerous. If you drive yourself in the city of Toronto, you can see the infractions. Have a taxi driver take you for a ride and ask him what he thinks about bicycles on the streets. Most of them will say they are fine if they abide by the rules, but they do not do that. Anything we can do to assure their safety and the comfort of the driving public would be a move that would be welcome.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Ms Bryden: I am very pleased to participate in the debate on Bill 219, because I am always in favour of improvements in traffic safety. It is rather surprising that this bill has been delayed so long, since last February, and that the government did not seem to consider it a very high priority. Of course, in the more or less eight or nine months since it has been introduced, all sorts of new problems have arisen, too, so that we are going to need a continuing update of this act.
I would particularly like to mention the good things in the bill; that is, to look after the disabled people and their ability to get permits and the importance of people not violating the rights they have to park in special places. I am glad we are getting better control of the use of special parking places for disabled people.
I do hear complaints that the red tape in connection with getting a disabled person permit and a permit for the members of his family who may be driving a disabled person are rather cumbersome, that they have to go to particular offices of the ministry and the services are not available in all offices to get permits or get changes in the permits, or that it requires a couple of trips in many cases.
I hope the minister will look into seeing that the disabled people are not inconvenienced more than other people in getting their permits and seeing that they are enforced.
With regard to bicycles, I think that the arguments seem to be all against the bicycle owners. I agree that bicycle owners should be required to stop and identify themselves if there is any possible violation suspected by a police officer. I agree that bicycle riders should be expected to obey the rules of the law and stop at stop signs, as most of them do. But I do not agree that they are people who should be treated as though they have no right to be on the highway.
They have the same rights as other people, as pedestrians and as drivers, to occupy the roads and highways in the prescribed way, in a safe way. That is, if they are pedestrians, to cross them and if they are bicycle riders, to occupy one lane and to make sure that when they change lanes they do it according to the rules and that they do not interfere with other traffic.
But it seems to me that we are going to have to have more and more bicycle riders in this world, if we are not going to all die of pollution and carbon monoxide. We are going to have to cut down on the extreme use of automobiles for running around to the corner store and continuing this great waste of fossil fuels and this great introducing of these emissions into the atmosphere. I think bicycle riding should be encouraged by our traffic laws. There should be bicycle lanes in new highways wherever possible, and particularly in areas where there is considerable volume of bicycle travel. I am not saying we should rebuild our present highways to provide such lanes, but I think in the future we should be looking at bicycle lanes.
It is possible that some bicycle lanes could be designated in present highways if there is sufficient space, but that is not being done in very many cases. I do think that we should be encouraging the use of bicycles, particularly by students and young people and people of an income level that they cannot afford a $10,000 car, and we should not be considering them as something to be pushed aside or squeezed out or to have no rights, so that I am a little disappointed that the new regulations seem to all go in the one direction of protecting motorists from bicycles or seeing that there are new rules applied to them but not new rules applied to drivers.
I would hope that we could get stricter rules about drivers entering intersections on the yellow, when it appears they are not going to be able to complete the crossing without ending up against the red. We should be having stricter rules about making right turns from the wrong lane, as I have seen a good many motorists change their minds and then suddenly slip over. We should have stricter rules about stopping at all pedestrian crossings.
In fact there should be, some people think, warning signals at pedestrian crossings and lower speed limits in order to force motorists to slow down and then to stop. I know there have been deaths at crosswalks in my own riding because the motorist did not slow down and did not look to see if there was a pedestrian on the crosswalk.
We have still got a long way to go to protect nonmotorists and we have to make sure that motorists themselves are obeying rules about making sure that they are making the right turns and the left turns in a correct way and not forcing other drivers to look out for them after the light has changed, when they should have been stopped. This is becoming much more a problem, particularly in the city of Toronto, and I think we need to spell out that those things are illegal.
I am surprised that this particular bill is the first time that they have ever put in the Highway Traffic Act that people walking on highways, on the shoulder presumably, should face the traffic. Now, there is no more elementary safety rule that I can think of than that, and there would have been thousands of deaths prevented if that law had been in effect. I am rather surprised that the previous governments, both the Conservatives and the Liberals, never seemed to think that was important to put into effect.
I am glad to see the restriction on the number of tow trucks that can cluster around an accident scene, or potential accident scene, ready to grab the first piece of business that appears when an accident occurs. They do create a traffic hazard, and I think they should not be allowed to cause a traffic hazard by lining up beyond the number that might be needed or that the police might be required to call. I know this is difficult to enforce, but certainly police officers are on hand at the time of an accident and surely they can evaluate whether there are a surplus of tow trucks there.
With regard to seatbelts, I think we still need a lot more incentive and educational legislation to get people to use them. I think every municipality should have a seatbelt enforcement week periodically when they remind people of the need for them. They do save lives, we know. I think that was the first bill I voted on when I came into the House in 1975, which was to say whether or not seatbelts should be mandatory. Since then I know literally thousands of lives have been saved by the fact that I and enough others voted for having seatbelts mandatory.
But we still do not seem to think it should be mandatory for school kids, and there have been accidents. I know it is difficult to refit school buses, but it seems to me that there certainly should be in the law some sort of state-of-the-art legislation for confining people who are travelling in school buses and for seeing that they do travel safely. The requirements about stopping when a school bus stops are very important, but looking after the students on the inside is equally important and I think we have got to move ahead in that field.
One thing I notice is missing in this legislation -- I am not sure whether it should come in here, but I think it should be somewhere -- and that is more restriction on the excess length of tractor-trailers, which seem to be getting more like freight trains every day when you turn around and look at them. There is a clause in here limiting the width further of traffic on the highways, but we seem to be ignoring the tendency to allow freight trains on the highways. They are much more destructive of the road surface because they are much heavier, but they are also much more of a traffic hazard because it is more difficult to pass them and they do break down, and that can cause a very serious traffic hazard.
I would like to see stricter rules about inspection of tractor-trailers as far as their maintenance goes. There have been far too many accidents recently of tractor-trailers jackknifing on places like Highway 401 and causing multiple accidents and very serious accidents and in some cases death because of this kind of breakdown of a tractor-trailer. I think it is up to the ministry to make the rules stricter on both their maintenance and how many hours a day they can be operated by one driver. There does not seem to be adequate control of the length of time that a person can drive under the labour laws, or they get exemptions. This is creating hazards for all of us.
Those are some areas I think the minister still has a lot of requirements to move on. I hope that if new legislation has to come in again this year to bring in some of the new changes that the recent Ontario Automobile Insurance Board recommended, we will look at some of these additional changes and proceed on them.
Mr Cousens: I would like, first, to begin by congratulating the minister on his new appointment to cabinet as Minister of Transportation for the province, a very, very important responsibility. I look forward to hearing what he has to say and how he is going to deal with the issues.
In my responsibility as critic for the greater Toronto area, I intend to be as constructive and as positive as is possible under the circumstances. I know that what I am going to do is be provoked by this other honourable minister into all kinds of things that I wish I had not said.
I also say on behalf of our caucus and many others how pleased we were to deal with the member for Scarborough East (Mr Fulton) out of the House. In the House, he was not the most pleasant person. His sarcasm was never-ending, but none the less, I assume he is enjoying life an awful lot more now than he did when he had to look after this very important portfolio. None the less, it is good to see the member for Scarborough East in the House and recognize him for his contributions to our transportation system.
Now that we get down to the reality, if we start looking at transportation in Ontario, even before the minister starts bringing forward a bill that we are going to support and have many positive things to say about, what are we going to do about traffic if we do not have drivers on the road who show some basic etiquette to one another? Is there any way that his own drivers could begin to set an example for proper conduct on the road, instead of darting in and out, instead of setting a bad example to the people of Ontario on how we should be taking our vehicles anywhere?
I am not saying that your drivers are bad. I am saying that the drivers in this province need to stop and wonder what it is they are really trying to do. Are they trying to create accidents? Are they trying to create more postcommuter shock for the people who are in their cars having to undergo all the pressures that they are creating on them? They brake too fast. They are driving too close. They come along and they weave in and out of traffic like a bunch of maniacs. It is no wonder that they are saying that Highway 401 is becoming a war zone. Is there anything the minister could be doing to start facing up to the fact that we are having an increasingly bad problem?
There are a lot of other problems that are a part it, but if only the drivers would begin to accept some responsibility for what they are causing to happen on those roads, the way they are cutting in on transports, forcing transports to make fast moves. In the last few weeks alone, there have been significant serious accidents on Highway 401 where trucks have overturned. I do not know the details of them, but I can believe that, as you have someone darting in, those drivers are trying to save the life of a dumb driver who is doing something he should not be doing.
So what can the minister be doing in a promotion campaign? I am not giving him an excuse to spend our tax dollars on another promotion of the Bill Wrye etiquette program, but we as parliamentarians in this province should be getting the message out there to all our constituents, either through our newsletters or through any other medium, to try to get people to start being a little bit more understanding of the other people on the road. The minister does not begin to address that, but maybe that is something he could begin to look at.
Maybe one of the things he could look at is the retesting of some of the people who are out on the road. I do not know what he is going to do totally. I know that once you are 80, you have go through and be retested on an annual basis, but why are people not forced to be retested on a more frequent basis even now? Has his ministry looked at that? Has the minister looked at it? What is he doing about it? Why does he not comment on it? Give us some idea of what he is going to do, if anything. Now that he has had this long at the post, he should start having some ideas.
My third point, just before I start talking about Bill 219, is in regard to the maintenance of vehicles. Why does the minister not have some spot-testing on some of the cars that are causing the problems on the highways? If they went and took their vehicles in for regular inspections and proper maintenance and upkeep, we would not have some of those cars that are breaking down.
The slightest disruption on our roads right now causes major backups and major problems, and we could begin to do something more about it.
If people are going to be out there with a faulty vehicle and they have not had it tested and they have not had it in the garage for a while, maybe they should be charged. Maybe there should be some way in which they are forced to pay not only for the inconvenience that they are suffering, but also for the inconvenience they are suffering everybody else who piles up behind them and the accidents that are caused because of it.
We have a real problem with transportation and some of it is going to require the building of things. It is going to require a lot of other things, but some of it is just common sense. If we could do something to clean up our act, clean up the etiquette, do something about the testing and getting people to take better care of their vehicles, that will have some degree of impact on resolving the problem we are having, especially with the number of cars that are coming in and out of this city. I mean it is going to increase by another 118,000 vehicles over the next 20 years. What are we doing about it? We should begin to find some solutions.
There are two other things I want to touch on before Bill 219, one of which has to do with the need for barriers on Highway 401. I know my honourable friend the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham) has raised this question on previous occasions, both in the House in question period and in private conversation with the former Minister of Transportation, of the need for barriers to protect drivers of cars coming in the opposite direction. One of the ones is the Woodstock-London area where there really should be something done on it. It is becoming a very massive concern and it is time this ministry began to act on that one.
The other one has to do with a series of accidents that have taken place down near Belleville. I do not know what is happening down there, but as I drive by Belleville on the way down to Queen’s University to visit one of my favourite young people, I know that it is a source of problems the way the cars are coming out of there. There have been all kinds of accidents. There was a family of six or seven that was killed recently coming to a wedding in Toronto, and I happen to have a friend of our family who was involved in a very serious car accident near the Belleville intersection on Highway 401.
What can we do about it? Is there anything more that can be done’? Is the minister looking at it? It is just that kind of thing we are talking about. We are talking about safety in this bill, We are talking about the protection of the people of the province of Ontario, and there are some areas that are beginning to become a source of concern to everybody who is using our highways.
I do not know if anyone has stopped to think of the accidents that are going to be happening on the Don Valley Parkway because of the new opening that is being made northbound on the parkway. I realize that is not the minister’s jurisdiction, but surely his ministry would have had some chance to look at the drawings. Would he nod his head if he did, or is it totally withdrawn or removed from his ministry? Is the Don Valley Parkway totally and completely out of his jurisdiction? The minister is not nodding so he does not know. Maybe someone on his staff could give me a better sense, but there is a new intersection coming in north of Wynford Drive and going north on the parkway.
I do not know how those cars are going to feed on to the road, once they have finished this magnificent tunnel underneath the railway. I do not know how much it is costing, but it is just going to put more cars on there. The amount of space they are going to have to get on that road is minimal, and I think it is just going to provoke opportunities for more accidents on the road.
Has anyone done a safety study? Does anyone really understand the impact of it? I wonder. I do not know. I am not a transportation specialist yet, but I will be after we are finished our task force studies on transportation. That is one that worries me. It is under construction now and probably too late to stop it, but has everything been done to look at just how safe that new intersection is going to be coming on the Don Valley Parkway?
The minister does not travel that way when he is heading out to Windsor-Sandwich, but he could take a trip up north to Markham and we will give him a tour of where Highway 407 is going to go and a few other things.
I like what he has suggested in his legislation. Unlike some of the --
Hon Mr Wrye: Thank goodness for that.
Mr Cousens: The first day back, I really have no desire to be mean-minded or cruel. It is not perfect, mind you. I think there are a few things that could be changed on it, but the fact of the matter is the minister is doing something about bicycles. Maybe he is not doing enough.
We are going to see more and more bicycles coming in and out of the greater Toronto area probably six months from now when the Toronto Transit Commission breaks down again, when the negotiations come back in and the fact-finder brings in his report and there is no way in which they have to come up with a settlement, and so what will probably happen is that they will agree to disagree. Who knows? I hope not because we have gone through five or six weeks of unbelievably serious problems not only for the commuters in and out of the greater Toronto area but for the businesses: how much lost time there has been and how much frustration there has been, all the problems around transit. People would have used a bicycle if they did not know they would probably get killed by using it.
I have no idea how many people are using bicycles. The number has gone up. We see more and more of them and it is important that they see themselves in a true, balanced light as responsible participants on our highway, that they are being courteous not only to the vehicles but also to pedestrians.
What are we doing in this legislation about bicycles that are using the sidewalks all the time? I wonder if there could not be a little bit more teeth in that one. Maybe it is covered by some other laws because they are endangering the lives and wellbeing of children, seniors and others who are using pedestrian walkways, and yet this bill does not begin to address that.
The fact of the matter is that bicycles will now have to have brakes; it is going to be legislated. Bicycle drivers will have to stop and give their names. They could have their licence removed if they are not courteous and obeying the rules of the highway. I think it is a good first step.
What else could we be doing? It is not just a matter of having rules. The government had better start enforcing them and it had better do more to make sure that our young people in schools are understanding the responsibility with their bicycles.
It is not just young people who are causing the problems. It is people the minister’s age who are out there on bicycles who may have forgotten their glasses and they are doing things they should not be doing. They have to learn to realize it is not just a matter of right to be on our highways and our roads; it is matter of responsibility. Therefore, we are not just going to be taking it idly.
As the minister prepares his points in response to what I am saying about bicycles, I am satisfied that he has moved in the right direction and that in fact we have to be doing far more to protect pedestrians, bicycle drivers and vehicle drivers from each other.
We all know there are accidents. Sometimes we do not realize these accidents could be prevented just by being able to sit back and understand the natural course of action that is going to happen when you are not careful in what you are doing.
I suggest strongly that the ministry, through the Ministry of Education and through other sources, get the word out there so that once these laws are passed and the amendments have been approved that those people who are on our roads begin to have a better sense about the others who are also part of the highway system.
I am concerned about the minister’s photo identification program. I wonder how many people in our province are using photo lDs that are illegal. I wonder whether there has been any kind of process by which the ministry has dealt with the situation where a visitor to this country who has decided to stay a little longer -- one who is not a landed immigrant -- has used the licence photograph as a way of obtaining identification.
They have taken someone else’s written licence and claimed they have lost their picture and have gone in and had their picture taken with the other person’s ID and are then in a position to use that either for their own purposes or for whatever purpose. I happen to believe it is used by teenagers who are underage sometimes. They are using the photo ID on transportation licences as a way of getting an older age attached to their picture which they then use.
To what extent has the ministry looked at that to see how it can be addressed and resolved? I would be very interested in hearing what is going to happen.
I have no problem with the fact that the ministry is going to have nongovernment people who will be running this system now and that it will have others who are in a position to provide this service. I think the more who are out there to provide that service so that you can get your picture taken when you need it for your licence the better, because the fact of the matter is that the ministry is so limited on the number of people who are providing any service anyway that can make it possible for people who need it to get it when they do.
I am surprised that in the bill the ministry has said child passengers are required to use seatbelts and proper safety precautions in a car. In fact, one thing that shocks me is that many people still do not have their children in seatbelts or in car seats and in the back seat of the car. As we drove north on Highway 400 on Friday for Thanksgiving weekend, the number of cars we saw with children in the front seat on their parents’ laps was far greater than I have seen before. Maybe it is because we are becoming more in tune with the danger those children are under by sitting on their parents’ laps in the front seat of an automobile; they are not clamped up in their seatbelts or in a car seat in the back.
I know today that should be a major issue for any parent. It is more than just a $20 or $30 fine; they are jeopardizing the lives of their children when they do not insist that they are properly buckled up. They have to be properly buckled up and they should be in a proper kind of seat if they are going to travel. It is not just a matter of whether or not you want to; it is a matter of necessity. We have proven that with the statistics of the number of people who survive accidents when they have had seatbelts on, and the number who have not survived or who have suffered tremendous loss of use of their limbs or loss of life because they failed to.
In that context, I raise a question for the minister. The bill -- and we are discussing Bill 219, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act -- says, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in which there is a child passenger weighing less than 23 kilograms who does not occupy, if available, a seating position for which a seatbelt assembly is provided.”
That is in section 12. The minister may want to refer to it. Is he leaving it wide open that people do not have to have the proper seatbelt assembly? He has referred in that section to a child passenger “who does not occupy, if available, a seating position for which a seatbelt assembly is provided.” Is the minister thinking there only of older cars for which there has not been a seatbelt installed, or is he giving people a general out so they can come back in a court of law and say, “I didn’t have to have that seatbelt,” especially because of the way this section of the bill is written.
The minister and his staff should be looking at any possible ways in which that section could be misread. It is on page 6 of Bill 219, the bill we are debating right now, and it is under subsection 12(6a) -- just in case the minister is forgetting. It is his first day back to work and he is not used to all this pressure. He does not have to read it; he gets everybody else to read it for him.
Hon Mr Wrye: I might even have an answer.
Mr Cousens: I am sure he will have an answer. I want him to have the right answer. That is what really counts.
I want to deal with the possibility that this one section might have an out clause for some parent who has said, “I happened to be reading the bill before I came into court today, judge, and it says only ‘if available.’” I just want to make sure we have not left any doors open.
I come from the viewpoint that says seatbelts should be mandatory. I cannot think of too many occasions when they are not mandatory on anyone who has a child at that weight or whatever. There should be some certainty that the responsibility and the onus is on the parent or the driver to make sure that people are buckled up and using their seatbelts. That should be the thinking of the minister and the ministry, and I would be pleased just to get some feedback on that to see that the minister has faced up to it.
My final point has to do with handicapped parking. You can have all the handicap markers on cars you want, yet people still seem to be parking in handicap zones; you see them hop out of their cars and they are just as healthy as the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden). There is nothing wrong; they are able to get up, walk, run and do everything else. Not that the member for Beaches-Woodbine would ever do such a thing -- I know she would not -- but the fact is you see such people coming out of vehicles and they are parked illegally in a handicapped zone.
Why is it that we are not doing more policing of the handicapped parking zones in the province? It has to be a source of real problems for those people whom we want to involve in our society. We want them to take advantage of those handicapped parking zones so they can have less of a distance to get into a shopping mall or church or some other place to do what they want to do. It is our responsibility to encourage people to get out into the community, and if there are going to be people who block that access, then we should be doing more to police it.
I happen to think that the method of having the handicap marker in the hands of the person who is handicapped makes a lot of sense, because up until now just about any Tom, Dick or Harry could have gone in and picked up a licence plate that had the handicap marker on it and then used that marker to park in a special place that was really reserved for the people that needed it.
Now the minister is saying you will have to have a medical certificate -- that makes a lot of sense -- and then you will take that with you. If you are in someone’s car and you are going to be parking somewhere, you put it on the windshield on the inside, in a locked car, so it is not something that disappears; then they will be able to protect a handicapped spot. That makes sense to me.
I just hope that as the government begins to introduce this new system, there is also some kind of explanation that goes out to people on how it is going to be used. I think it would be a very sad moment if someone loses the handicap marker that he is going to have on his front windshield and it is just going to he handed around. If they lose them, it should not just be easy to go and pick up another one; they would have to go through an entire process again of getting a medical certificate and everything else. It is to all our advantage that these rules make sense, but also it makes great sense to see that they are followed. I just hope that the minister in his new enthusiasm for his new job is going to see that some of these things are followed up on.
As I went through the bill, there were a number of other points that touched on most of the issues I have mentioned right now. One other issue I did want to touch on has to do with signs along the highway. At one time, Ontario was pretty clean. It was clean not only in environment; it was clean from the abuse of eye pollution. We really get more than our share of all kinds of advertising that is coming at us through the media in different ways and also on the highways, byways and roads. I am pleased that this bill will give the government and the province of Ontario an opportunity to go and look again to see how we can clean up some of the signage around our province so that it is not confusing to people who are using our roads.
One of the major sources of revenue for this province has been tourism. I think a person coming into this city or any of our cities has to be confused at all the things that are coming along. Let’s have another review and see what we can do to improve our signs and the directions so that people find their destinations. The more we do that kind of thing, the more likely it is that people are going to want to come back because we have made it easier for them to come in and feel comfortable. The fact that you have a sign up there that points the way and helps them get to their destination, the better it is.
Do not just be against business when you are putting your signs up or taking some of the existing ones down. We want to be able to attract people to Ontario to do business. There should be ways by which the government can encourage people to go to shopping districts in downtown Unionville, which happens to be a beautiful little place to come and shop, or in downtown Markham. You might even find some of the large malls marked so that people can see them as opportunities, not only for recreation and to see the history of our province but also to get involved in commerce and do some shopping.
We are at a crossroads in another sense, and that is that while we are dealing with issues, we are really dealing with the symptoms at this point. I hope that the minister does not go away and brag about all the success he had in getting Bill 219 through the Ontario Legislature as his first great achievement as the new Minister of Transportation. I hope that he sees this as a starting point to take seriously the needs of our commuters and all the services that are needed to have a strong transportation system in this province.
We have problems right now, and they have to do with not just the province; the federal government has to get involved with it as well. There is the whole problem with C-97 which was removed a few years ago. We see the problems with Via and the removal of Via. We have got to do something as a province to take seriously commuter services and transit --
An hon member: Talk to Brian.
Mr Cousens: I will tell the member this much. In 1981, when Via Rail services were cancelled for Stouffville, Markham, Unionville and Milliken, the Honourable Jim Snow, then Minister of Transportation, brought in the GO trains to replace Via services. I hope that when we see the cancellation of the Havelock line and some of the other commuter services that are coming into the greater Toronto area, we in this province will begin to put a larger emphasis on commuter services and the GO trains and expanded use of the GO trains. Make it so that people want to use it, because quite candidly, even with these minor improvements to the Highway Traffic Act and the small changes the government is making, it does not begin to address the greater needs that are part and parcel of having to come to work in large urban centres such as Toronto.
The minister should pick up the opportunity. He has it right now, who knows for how long? He is minister this week; he will be for a little longer. Before he gets into it and becomes too entrenched by the suggestions that the civil service and some of the others give, he should give same personal leadership to it.
He should understand first that he should do everything he can to expand and support commuter services. He should support the TTC. He should help GO Transit expand and get the additional trains it needs. He should open up new lines. He should take over some or, if he can, all of the lines that are being closed down. The ones that are carrying commuters into Toronto are really being bothered; they might well add to the cars that are coming in and out of this city.
Therefore, the minister has a chance to give leadership. We hope he is capable of giving that kind of leadership, and we will be very supporting of positive improvements to help make this an easier place to come in and out of.
When you look at what Toronto has become, it used to take you half an hour in the 1960s to come in and out of Toronto; now it takes you an hour and a half. By the mid-1990s it is going to take you two hours. How much time people are spending on the road is a matter of great concern to all of us. It is not just a matter of building more infrastructure. We need that as well, but we also need to face up to some of the other services that should be part and parcel of a transportation strategy and not just the reworked workings the previous minister came out with. He did not make a new announcement in four years. We have four years of unprecedented economic sustained growth in the province and his ministry has done sweet nothing to do anything to help the transportation services. Now is his chance to start doing something about it.
I want to use this occasion as an opportunity to remind the honourable minister that there is far more to his ministry than just some housekeeping rules of Bill 201. He can start being the leader that we want him to be and do something to solve the problem of transportation that he has helped create.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Sterling: I will be somewhat briefer than my colleague. I thought it was important that I say a few words today because of a very serious traffic accident which occurred near the area of the province that I represent. On Saturday night, at 4 am, three young people died about five miles north of where I live in Manotick. Eight young people were coming from a party in Hull, Quebec, presumably going towards North Gower, because two of the people who died in that accident, Paul Tessier and Kirk Quaile, both from my riding, were in the car.
I draw this to the attention of the Legislature and of the minister in particular, because unfortunately, in the area that I represent, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 young people have been lost in the last year or year and a half. Something seems to be missing. As a matter of fact, Paul Tessier, one of the young people who died on Saturday morning, had a sister who had perished in an accident three weeks prior to that date in a multiple fatal accident as well.
I draw those facts to the attention of the minister because at this time, in my view, there appears to be a problem with the system we have in place in this province for the instruction of students, the instruction of new drivers and the instruction of young people as to the responsibilities when they take over a motor vehicle.
I want to say to the minister that it is not only his responsibility as the Minister of Transportation, but there appears, from what I have been able to glean over the past eight to 10 months when I have taken some interest in this issue, a lack of co-ordination between the various ministries that have an interest in the issue. I am talking about his ministry, which I believe should be the lead ministry in it, but it includes of course the Solicitor General, the police and the Minister of Education who has access to most of the young people who would be learning to drive on our highways.
Even inside or outside our educational institutions, I think it behooves the minister to look seriously at the qualifications of our driving instructors across this province. I am not only talking about the individual driving instructors, but I am talking about the chief instructors he has in place. I believe there are some 15 or 16 of those chief instructors. As I understand the system, the chief instructors test the driving instructors and either pass or fail those individuals. My belief is that the standards are not high enough at this time. I believe the instructors are attempting to work with this minister and with other ministers in his government to attempt to bring in some kind of self-regulating code or act in which they would have a greater control over their destiny and the education they would be required to have in order to be licensed to teach people to drive in our province.
I am concerned about updating instructors once they have received the licence to teach people to drive in the province. I am also concerned about the number and the kind of statistics we keep in this province about the various collisions, fatalities and injuries that occur to different age groups across our province. I am told, for instance, that more young people who die in car accidents die with other young people in the car, and that there are more double or triple fatalities than there are single fatalities when dealing with a very young age group.
That tells me we should be teaching our young people that there is a code of conduct that is required when they get into a car with another group of young people and that their risk at that time is much higher than their risk when they are either driving alone or with other adult people.
I believe we have a problem here in Ontario. I know some ministry officials do not believe the minister has a problem with regard to driving safety. This particular accident and the other accidents which occurred in the Ottawa-Carleton area, in which we lost 10 to 12 lives in a very short period of time of young people in the prime of their lives, cannot be blamed perhaps on the education system. They might be blamed on lack of judgement of an individual who was in control of the motor vehicle at the time, or it might be blamed on another individual who was involved in the accident, or it might be blamed on a number of other factors, but one area we have to improve within the realm of this Legislature and within the realm of our system is the education system and the system of licensing our young drivers.
States in the United States have found alternative solutions because of the carnage on the highway, in particular with their young people. As the minister may know, in many of the states in the United States of America, the drinking age has been driven up to the age of 21 years of age and that in itself has reduced many of the accidents which have occurred with young people in the United States. In some of the states in the United States, they have limited probationary drivers when driving on Friday and Saturday nights. They have said to young drivers, I presume in the first two or three years in which they are driving -- I think the state of New Jersey is one example -- that you cannot drive between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights just because of the number of accidents young people are getting into in those states.
I do not know whether or not we warrant that kind of move. I will tell the minister one thing: I could say for my area that because of the tragedies we have faced, I would be willing to support a dramatic step like that in my area. I venture to say that the problem has not emanated in other areas probably to the same tragic degree that it has in my area, but one of the things that bothers me is whether or not the minister had the statistics and the facts to make that decision.
I want the minister to go back to his ministry staff and ask them: “Can we pull out of the facts how many accidents are occurring in those very vulnerable hours on Friday and Saturday night? How many of those accidents are occurring when there are one, two, three or more teenagers in the cars?” I want the minister to go back and ask his people whether or not they believe that our driving instructors, our education program is up to the date of the 1990s in terms of the kinds of situations teenagers find themselves in weekend after weekend.
For instance, are teenagers taught that when they get into a car with many other young people there is a definite responsibility on them, not only on the driver, to act in an orderly manner. How do you teach that in the best manner and drive the fact home?
I would like to say to the Legislature and express publicly my condolences to the Tessier family and the Quaile family, both of North Gower, the Tessier family having suffered a double tragedy in the last month; also to Dorothy Verdon and the Verdon family for the loss of their child, a young man, Jaret, who died in the same accident.
I do not know whether that accident could have been prevented or not. There is one person in my riding who is very much interested in driver safety. I have forwarded papers to the minister that she has written. She is quoted in the Ottawa Citizen as saying, “People keep calling them accidents, but I believe” -- Sue McNeil believes -- “they are road crashes that are preventable.” Let’s get on with looking at it. It is a problem and I think there are some solutions. Perhaps we can save some young people’s lives in the future.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Are there any comments or questions? I see none. Are there any further members wishing to participate in the debate? Were you not going to speak on that? No further members? Would the minister like to wind up the discussion on this piece of legislation?
Hon Mr Wrye: Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I first say how good it is to see you back in the chair. I remember it from a few years ago. We on this side welcome the motion that was brought forward by the government House leader with the support of all parties earlier today and congratulate you on your appointment.
It has been a very useful debate. Let me very quickly touch on a number of the issues that my colleagues have raised from all parties. First of all, I thank the five members who spoke for their support for the legislation and also for some of the other matters that they raised.
The member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morin-Strom) who spoke first for his party, the critic for his party, raised a couple of issues that I want to touch on. First, I indicate to him that there will be additional amendments to the act coming forward later this fall.
I appreciate his comments in terms of the disabled community wishing the amendments that are coming forward in terms of disabled permits and I am very glad to have the opportunity of carrying on the excellent work that my predecessor, the member for Scarborough East (Mr Fulton), began in this regard.
The member for Sault Ste Marie did raise the issue of the air brake test and that whole issue. There is some controversy that was visited throughout the province this summer about the air brake endorsement. I did want to put on the record that if one is not driving a vehicle with an air brake system, one does not need to have a Z or an air brake endorsement.
As well, in terms of the course that is being taken, if one can write the test and pass the test, there is no requirement to take the course in the first place. I believe there was some controversy in terms of the courses, but that controversy is behind us.
The other issue that he raised is the seatbelt requirement for school buses. This has been a matter of some very considerable debate, really throughout the whole decade. As we have looked at this issue, there have been a number of studies that have been done which have had mixed results. We have done some changes and have brought in some changes to put in new high-back padded seats. As a result of some of those changes, there has been some improvement in safety. Notwithstanding the last fatality in school buses in the province was back in 1982, there has been a substantial amount of work under way. The Department of Transport has been testing a number of systems, including reversing the seating on school buses. I believe it is expected to report its results in the latter part of this fall. We look forward to receiving those reports.
The member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague) made a number of important points, particularly on the issue of seatbelt usage in which he made a number of comments I concur with entirely. I think it is useful to put on the record not once in a while, but time and again and again and again that seatbelt usage in this province, which is now at 70.3 per cent in terms of the latest statistics, allows Ontario to stand only eighth out of 10 provinces; this from a province which was the first to adopt mandatory seatbelt usage. I am sure the member for Simcoe West and his colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden), who spoke and who both entered this assembly in 1975, were among those who supported its original introduction. I appreciate that support.
We are going to require a little more care and concern in terms of that usage. The statistics do not lie. If you are not wearing a seatbelt and you are involved in an accident, your chances of being killed are 21 times greater than if you are wearing a seatbelt. The chances of being seriously hurt are eight times higher, and that is the statistic year in and year out. My friend from Simcoe West made a very good point in terms of pointing out that a number of the myths that existed in the early years of mandatory seatbelt use and indeed which exist in some other jurisdictions today are just those. They are myths. They are not facts. The facts bear out that to not wear a seatbelt is just simply foolishness in this day and age.
I appreciated his comments, as well, in terms of bicycles. I understand the member spoke to me about bringing in some amendments and he and I have discussed that. We will be taking a look at the proposals he is willing to bring forward and perhaps when we bring forward a second series of amendments to the act later this fall, at that point we can address some of the issues that my friend raises and concerns that he raises.
I know my colleague, I think the member for Beaches-Woodbine, or perhaps the official critic mentioned an additional amendment. I can tell the House that as soon as we have the details and the amendments, we will be quite prepared to introduce the legislation. I think all members on all sides know that the general thrust and key thrust of the amendments will be substantially tougher fines in terms of speeding and other offences and we will hopefully be bringing those forward later in the fall.
In terms of the issue of the volunteer insignia, which my friend the member for Simcoe West raised, the volunteer insignia is a matter really with the Ministry of the Solicitor General. Discretion will rest with the fire marshal of Ontario within the Ministry of the Solicitor General rather than ourselves. We will take a look at the issue and have the appropriate discussions within that ministry. I give my friend that assurance.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine asked about the inconvenience of people who need the disabled permit. I was not aware that there are limitations to where they are offered and that there are inconveniences, but I will take a look and I assure her that if they are, we will take a very close look at that issue.
She also mentioned the issue of bicycle riders. I want to take some exception to some of the remarks she made. I am not sure she meant that we were being discriminatory, but there was a suggestion that perhaps we are being too strict on bicycle riders. I want to put on the record that in 1987, the last year for which we have statistics, there were 34 cyclists killed, of which 16 were under the age of 15, and more than 5,000 injuries.
As the member so correctly pointed out, as the usage of bicycles and the numbers of bicyclists on our ever more crowded roads increases, we want to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place, not just for those bicyclists but for the other drivers with whom they must share -- that is the word and I underline that word -- the roadway. It is not a case of wanting to punish bicyclists or being too strict. It is a matter of wanting to make sure that the roadway can be shared safely by all.
We then had very briefly two other speeches from the third party. The member for Markham (Mr Cousens), who while not the critic -- l think he kind of alluded to it’s heading up a task force on transportation services, made a speech, some of which had something to do with the bill and a great deal of which did not. I can say that an issue he raised that did not have anything to do with the bill is VIA Rail. I hope he is writing the minister to tell him that he should not be cutting back and devastating VIA as he is. There is VIA and GO Transit, the issue of a number of other barriers and the like, none of which is addressed by the bill. I look forward to discussing those matters with the member for Markham in our estimates, which I understand we are going to have later this year.
The member for Markham raised the issue of section 12 of the bill in which he referred to the fact that -- I will just read the section -- “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in which there is a child passenger weighing less than 23 kilograms who does not occupy, if available, a seating position for which a seatbelt assembly is provided.” He did raise that issue. I believe he may have been referring to the fact that if there is not a seatbelt position, that is the only circumstance in which a young child can continue to be carried on the lap of an adult.
Subsection 90(2) of the act is in place and has always been in place, making it an offence to operate a motor vehicle in which the seatbelt assembly has been removed or rendered inoperable, but we continue to have one anomaly which we are looking at: that is, in those cases where an additional seatbelt is needed for a young child and none is available, we continue to allow young children to be carried on the laps of adults. Mr Speaker, I, and I am sure you agree with me, am a little concerned by that matter.
I will not go through all of the other points the honourable member for Markham raised. He talked about the retesting of drivers, the maintenance of vehicles and the issue of the Don Valley Parkway, which I would point out to him is a Metro road, but all of those issues are issues we will take in the days to come.
My friend the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) was the concluding speaker in this debate and I think made a very thoughtful intervention, as he so often does. He raised the issue of young drivers and the terrible tragedy in his area. We had a number of tragedies in eastern Ontario this weekend, one involving a high speed chase and certainly the one he mentioned.
I say the member is thoughtful, because the statistics are really quite disturbing: that is, that one out of every six 16-year-olds -- and they are people who are getting a licence at the first eligible time -- will be involved in an accident, if our latest statistics are correct, in the very first year in which they operate a vehicle. He puts forward a number of interesting and thoughtful suggestions.
I would refer him to the government’s proposals, which we are beginning to work on, for something called a graduated driver’s licence. In a number of states, including California -- Delaware, I believe, is another one -- there have been graduated licences brought into place which contain the kinds of provisions the honourable member was mentioning; that is, limitations on driving times. They can drive in daylight but not after dark; they cannot drive on Friday night or on the weekends; they cannot drive on certain roads but can drive on others. All of those are possible not just for young drivers but new drivers in general.
We will be taking a look at that and having a consultation with a number of the affected groups and individuals in the months to come. I appreciate the honourable member indicating his support for those kinds of fairly dramatic limitations on young drivers, but certainly the government, as we look at the accident statistics and as we look at the severity of those accidents, is very concerned about the number of accidents and severe accidents for young people.
I just say in closing that the legislation is very important legislation but it does not and I would not as a new minister pretend that it begins to solve all of the problems. It does take us a step forward in terms of dealing properly, effectively and appropriately with the disabled community. It moves forward in terms of bicycle safety, an area in which, again I repeat, 34 people were killed in 1987, the last year for which we have statistics, and so an area which we ought to properly address. It moves us forward in terms of the fatalities of our very young, those who are too young often to fend for themselves, and ensures that the appropriate use of seatbelts for young people is made a mandatory requirement. Again, the statistics do not lie that over the last decade or so, the number of young people who were killed was over 100 -- 104 to be exact -- and the number of those who were unrestrained in vehicles outnumbers those who were restrained by a margin of three to one, in spite of the fact that the number of those in restraints is very substantial.
We have moved with a number of other important housekeeping amendments.
I appreciate the involvement of all honourable members and move second reading of the bill.
Motion agreed to.
The Acting Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr McCague: No.
Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, there is a no over here.
The Acting Speaker: Oh, is there a no? The honourable member for Simcoe East.
Mr McCague: I am not sure of the protocol here, but because this bill was called today -- acknowledging, of course, that it has been on the Orders and Notices paper for quite a while -- our staff suggested a couple of amendments that would be proper in the area of bicycle safety. I am sure, Mr Speaker, if you were to --
Hon Mr Ward: Committee of the whole.
Mr McCague: Well, I think we might avoid that, Mr Speaker, if you would give me a moment or two. Would you consent to that?
The Acting Speaker: Well, if we could have unanimous consent of the House, because the honourable member -- knowing the rules only so well as I do -- is out of order, I am wondering if you might turn to the minister, and since the member has indicated that in a very short space of time he will get his point across -- Agreed.
Mr McCague: The point being that the minister has said he hopes to have an opportunity for us in the fall to put amendments to another bill which he is going to introduce. The minister has shown his goodwill, and I would just like to underscore the fact that he is going to introduce bicycle safety amendments in his Highway Traffic Act amendments in the fall, and we will have a chance to comment on them then and therefore we can let this proceed to third reading. Is that the understanding, Minister?
Hon Mr Wrye: Yes.
Mr McCague: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Bill ordered for third reading.
MUNICIPAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR L’ACCÈS À L’INFORMATION MUNICIPALE ET LA PROTECTION DE LA VIE PRIVÉE
Mr Elston moved second reading of Bill 49, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy in Municipalities and Local Boards.
M. Elston propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 49, Loi prévoyant l’accès a l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans les municipalités et les conseils locaux.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Before we continue with the debate, I am wondering if the House might oblige me with the opportunity of speaking for a moment on the new positions that have been created under the Speaker’s office.
Since I see no serious objection, I would like to comment that notwithstanding my past representation over the past two years in terms of my selective position of looking after the fine constituents of Durham East, I had the opportunity of serving in a similar capacity from 1981 to 1984, and I can assure all members that at that time I did, as I will assure you now, take this new position very seriously.
I have found it difficult in the past that it would be difficult to be extremely vocal in terms of my selective position and then serving at the table. So the long and short of it is, I say to the Chairman of Management Board (Mr Elston), that there will be no more seagulls or garbage bags in the chamber.
I might also say that I know only too well that I am looking forward to and appreciate the full confidence of all members of the chamber for this new position. My past experience was that at times I had called upon the honourable member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) -- I say to the member -- who of course has made it a particular interest of being learned in our particular rules of procedure. At the same time, if I had not the opportunity of calling upon him, I called upon the then House leader for the Liberal Party, the member for Brant-Haldimand (Mr R. F. Nixon), and of course under such situations will be doing so again.
I am looking forward to working with not only the House leaders of all the parties but also the Speaker’s own staff, the clerks at the table, once more. More particularly, although some cynics would say that the position was enhanced by the extra remuneration, I want to say that the interesting aspect, upon discussing this aspect with my own leader, and I am sure, as correspondence and discussions had taken place between the leaders of the other parties, the interesting aspect was that in essence my interest in the rules had dated back for quite a time, not as long as the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh), but with the new position, that intrigued me in terms of the process.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, in light of the comments you have just made, I wonder if we could have unanimous consent to reconsider government notice of motion 14.
Some hon members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker: Are we on second reading?
Hon Mr Elston: I think we are on second reading, Mr Speaker, although it is a little hard to know exactly how we approach the rest of the bill’s discussion, bearing in mind the opening remarks delivered for our edification.
I just want to say, first of all, congratulations to. you and to the other new nominee, whom we will obviously see in action in due course. I would like to say as well that it is a pleasure to have the opportunity of doing second reading of this particular piece of legislation while you are in the chair and while we have the member for Oshawa here, because I know that you and the member for Oshawa have been champions of freedom of information, access to information, to help government run more effectively, although you and the member, I may indicate, certainly have different styles of presentation and delivery and even deliberation upon the issues.
This particular item, as we move forward with what is required by the legislation that was passed earlier on freedom of information and protection of privacy is to extend that regime to the municipal world in Ontario. I must preface my remarks by saying thank you to the people with whom we have consulted, including the interest groups in the municipal field, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and others; might I also add a special thank you to the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr Eakins), the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, who was indispensable in helping us to work on the presentation of this particular material.
I can say that this particular legislation, which was given first reading in July and will come into effect 1 January 1991, extends the act to more than 2,500 municipalities and local boards and in fact extends to those organizations the principles that are already enshrined with respect to freedom of information and protection of privacy in the province. Bill 49 builds on the tradition of openness at the local level while also ensuring the privacy of people’s own information.
We are very concerned that that point be made, because, generally speaking, what happens is that the legislation is shortened in its popular name to “freedom of information,” and it leads to the impression that anyone can get any information about any person that he cares to. That is not so. It is an interesting balancing routine that is managed by the people who are administering this act provincially to ensure that the protection of privacy is given the deliberation that is necessary to ensure that no one is disadvantaged. We know all too often of the number of critical issues which have to be determined about what is private and what is public, and I must say that the regime which has been implemented and is functioning now in the province has worked quite well. I must say that overall we have had a very positive experience with the legislation.
The new legislation, as I said, reflects an extensive consultation. We have spoken at length with a number of the interest groups, those representing the clerks, administrators, treasurers of the province, AMO, the elected officials organization and other members of boards, and we must say that we look forward to the continuing relationship which we have built up while we consulted about the form in which this legislation would be presented, because we will, over the next year and a half, have a very busy time in helping people adjust to the provisions of the act, helping them to understand what the provisions require of them administratively, and in fact how it will be applied to school boards, to municipalities, boards of health, public utility commissions and other local bodies.
We want to ensure that we have a successful introduction of this legislation at the municipal level, and I think the work we have done in the province, at this level, in implementing our own freedom of information and protection of privacy bodes well for those people who have functioned within my own ministry area, at least -- the secretariat, I guess, as it is properly called -- in helping the rest of the provincial ministries and agencies become accommodating to the inquiries.
I expect, as with our own legislation, that there will be a requirement to provide extensive consultation with those people who will be working day to day with this at the municipal level, but I want to indicate that we have pledged, through the secretariat, our abiding interest in their practical problems and hope we can assist them before the bill comes into effect on 1 January 1991 to eliminate any glitches which they may see coming.
This is another important step towards ensuring an open and very public operation of government at both the provincial and the municipal levels, as we move to open up the process, as we move to ensure that everyone in the province is armed with the information he needs to participate in a very worthwhile manner in our democratic process.
Underlying our previous four years has been the effort to open up the process, to ensure that people know they have the ability to participate in debate, and I presume, before the afternoon is out, that we will have some contributions to assist us in analysing the provisions of the act as it applies to the municipalities and the local boards. I am looking forward to that, because this act can only improve the democratic process at the municipal and local board level.
With those remarks, I might just finish by adding that, because this is a departure from what our original Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act first told us to do, this is a separate act and, rather than being encompassed under the existing provincial sphere, we will have a second act, Bill 52, which I will move into second reading later on, that is required to provide complementary amendments. I trust the passage of these two bills can proceed apace.
We still have, in front of the committee, other work to do with freedom of information. I think we have gone a long way to accommodating issues of confidentiality and other items which remain outstanding there, but I must say that it has been my experience in the committee that the co-operation level here, with respect to this freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation, has been quite high and I look forward to improving upon our working relationship on this municipal piece of legislation as the days go forward.
With that, Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Once again, congratulations to you and thank you for your opening remarks on second reading.
The Acting Speaker: Are there any comments or questions?
Mr Breaugh: We will support the bill and its companion bill, Bill 52. We moved the amendments in the original provincial legislation on freedom of information and protection of privacy to bring this into effect; that municipalities and local boards have an obligation to make their information available to the public every bit as much, in my view, anyway, as the provincial government.
I do not object to the format that is being used here, frankly, as one who has spent a little time in municipal politics, because it takes a different shape and form in different communities. Some of our municipalities could have lived with the provincial legislation without any major disruptions of service at all, because they too have their own local bureaucracy; so you would be transferring the public works department for some ministry, so it would work with no problem.
But I am the first to admit that in many of our smaller municipalities they do not have the capacity to respond to the paper flow, so to speak. They do not have big departments. Very often the clerk’s office consists of somebody who works on a part-time basis. So I believe it is reasonable to do it by means of separate legislation.
I think when we go into committee -- and I would hope that we would have perhaps not an extended opportunity for a long set of hearings but an opportunity for some public input on these bills. Both of these bills, I think, are the type of legislation that requires a little bit of time outside of this place in a committee where representations can be made about whether this is a practical approach or not, and what problems will be introduced by bringing forward this legislation.
The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly has begun to review the statute that applies to the provincial government, and I think it is noteworthy to make some comments on that because these two bills will bring that same spirit of the ability of the public to get access to information from a different level of government and to try the balancing act. This is where I think we are encountering some problems of the public’s right to see this information and its right as well to have its privacy guarded in some respect. In the provincial act we have had an opportunity now to see that at work for a while. The same principles are now going to be applied to municipalities.
It is not to say that this is an easy job, and I do not think anybody ever imagined that it would be, when one works as the members here do inside government, so to speak. You get some sense after a short period of time that there is a colossal amount of information out there floating around in computers, in files, in civil servants’ heads, in the minds of government. There are staff people, administrative people, there is a monumental process at work, and the freedom-of-information law was meant to provide the access points, to define the terms of what you do have a right to get and what you do not.
In our first review of the provincial legislation, some would say that the civil servants did not want to be inconvenienced and that they proposed a very limited number of amendments to the current provincial statute which does not make much difference in anybody’s life except that it makes their job a little more comfortable.
I think we will experience the same kind of things in here, because as anybody who has been around government for any length of time will be able to tell members, there is not a civil servant out there who starts out by saying: “I want to keep the public in the dark. I don’t want them to know what is going on.” But at the same time, to take the balancing act a step further, they do not set out to make their own lives miserable either, so when members go through the statutes and they go through the regulations and they go through all the rigmarole that is in place, they know that it would be a stupid civil servant indeed who wrote a law or regulation that put him or her out of a job next week, and they are not really anxious to make their lives uncomfortable.
So at the bottom of it all, no matter how the government writes the law, it can always rest assured that there is nobody working for the government of Ontario who is really anxious to put himself out of work. There is nobody over there in any of the ministries who is really anxious to say: “Boy, did we ever screw up last year. This is the gobs of money that we misspent. These are the decisions that we made internally that were all wrong.”
They are not going to be anxious ever to put that kind of information out, and I do not think the purpose of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is essentially to embarrass the government, or in this case to embarrass the municipal council. It is rather to provide the public with a reasonable amount of knowledge and a process to go through.
I think in our review of the provincial act, for example, much of what was said to the committee in many ways seemed a little stupid because the civil servants who designed the legislation were making a pretty good argument that we do not want any civil servant out there just kind of telling people what is going on, and we do not want him handing out information willy-nilly. We begrudgingly accept the notion that there is a process whereby the public can get information, and here is what it is. That is kind of the level that we are at, and these two laws this afternoon propose to put forward the same idea at the municipal level.
One of the things that I think members have to count on here is that, for example, we have a commissioner now who examines: what is the process; whether the civil servants are conforming with the act; what are the forms that have to be filled out. If somebody does not want to make the judgement call, the commissioner makes a ruling on a matter. He sends out a little newsletter. It is kind of the way that governments work these days. I have eminent faith that the current commissioner is doing a good job, that he has some knowledge of how governments work. He has some knowledge of why he is there and he is trying to do the balancing act.
I think as long as you accept that the laws in Ontario, both the one that we now have applying to the provincial government and the ones that are being proposed this afternoon to deal with local government, are a balancing act, as long as you accept that principle, you are on safe ground here. If you think that it is an absolute protection of anybody’s privacy, you are wrong. It is not. If you think it is an absolute guarantee of your getting information from governments at any level, you are wrong. You can accept, though, that it is a balance of those two factors and a practical balance of how governments work and how open they can be.
This is a government that began its life here as one that said it had no walls and no windows, and it turned out it had no floors and ceilings either. But you have to understand when you work with the government that there is kind of a level of information flow that any government in the world finds acceptable. They may begrudgingly give you a little more information than they really want to, but they are not stupid people, and neither are ministers of the crown nor their senior civil servants. Nor are the local council and their servants going to go around and blab all over town other than the way that they have always done so.
But there is a problem -- I happen to be the Municipal Affairs critic for my party and I find it frustrating when people write to me and say, “I got a notice that I violated the local town bylaw.” I went to the town clerk’s office and asked to see the bylaw, and the town clerk said, “We do not have a copy of the bylaw.” The person has a point. How can you be expected to conform to a municipal bylaw if somebody will not even show you what the bylaw is? How can you be assured that your town’s planning committee made the right decision if you do not have the proper credentials to see the information upon which they based that committee decision. So I think there are some pretty reasonable expectations out there.
In many of our communities I dare say this bill is unnecessary. In many municipalities that I am aware of the council of the town or the city has made its own decision about the provision of information quite sensibly. So you do not need this law in many of our communities. But I am also aware that in many other communities no such policy exists and the minutes -- the public business that is done by that town council is in effect secret business. I believe that is wrong and I hope that this bill does something to change that attitude.
Most of us that, as I look around this chamber and can identify as people who were in municipal government, came from municipalities where it was pretty common practice to provide the public with just about any document that the council dealt with, and the normal exceptions of personnel files and contractual arrangements were exempted. But any planning document we ever had we made available to the public. Committees generally wanted the chance to see the document first because in some way, whether they agreed with the staff report or not -- a planning committee, for example, of a local council is identified with whatever that report says whether it accepts it or not. It is part of the work that is done by their staff.
There are real limits to what you can do with this notion, but I am in general agreement with the technique that is being used here. I am in general agreement with the notion that this principle, if it is valid at the federal level and valid at the provincial level, is equally valid at the municipal level and that is what these two bills do.
There may be some problems with the mechanics, but I think frankly we are never going to work those things out in one fell swoop. That is going to be an ongoing process. It is ironic that in the committee’s initial review of the provincial act, one of the very things that the committee went out of its way to say was, “Listen, we have seen this act in other jurisdictions and some pretty stupid things have happened.” We would not surely be stupid enough in Ontario to send the blueprints for a prison to a prisoner, but we did. We surely would not be stupid enough to release very private information about an individual, but it happens.
There are some things that you just cannot do by writing laws. There are some things that you really have to do by getting out there and practising what is your intention, by giving your staff an opportunity -- it is amazing I guess to some people that this government, like any other government, like any municipal council that will be affected by this bill, cannot simply sit around in this chamber and say, “This is what we are going to do,” and it starts to happen tomorrow morning. This government says, “This is what we would like to do,” and tomorrow morning it leaves the government’s hands and goes into the hands of literally thousands of other people who have to implement it.
It is quite likely they did not sit through the committee proceedings. It is kind of doubtful they will read the Hansard of the debate to catch the full flavour of what is going on here. It is kind of doubtful that they will read the whole act. It is more likely that they will read one little section of the act that is quoted to them by their supervisor that says, “This is what you do and this is what you don’t do.”
It is even more likely that they will read a memo, and so what they wind up having is somebody’s interpretation of somebody’s interpretation of somebody else’s interpretation of what you ought to do in this situation. To be really honest, they will probably turn to the person next to them and say, “What do I do?” and that person who has never seen any of this will say, “Give them the information or don’t.”
I hope with the passage of these bills that we will do some good. I have no illusions at all that we are passing something that is perfect. The province of Ontario is in the middle of assessing its own Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I do not believe that is a perfect document either, but I think it is headed in the general correct direction. I believe that the commissioner has a good sense of what is expected of him, of how he is supposed to carry out his job.
I do not share that notion that all of our civil servants have yet understood what this process is about. I do not think they have a good working knowledge of what we are trying to do here. I believe it will probably take a decade before this works its way through the system. By that time, we probably will have changed our minds as legislators as to what we want them to do anyway.
I think this is a worthwhile effort. If it only does this one thing, I believe it will be useful. To be specific, I have a school board in my own community that has decided that a lot of its public decisions can be made in private without the press being present, without the public having the information that they have that they are using to make their decision. They believe that it is appropriate for a publicly elected body to make its decisions in private. I do not. I never have and I never will.
I understand that there are times when you want to close the doors and let your hair down and let everybody have at it but, by and large, the business of the public must be conducted in public, and the public has a right to know the information on which those decisions are made. There are planning decisions, there are public works decisions, there are all kinds of decisions being made, as we speak, all over Ontario and the public has a right to know only if the council sees fit. That is wrong. Surely that should be wrong and surely we should say so. I believe these two bills attempt to do that.
I support that concept. I think that is worth while. I think that with a little bit of time in committee we can hear the delegations that will want to come forward and make their pitch. I am aware that there has been a great deal of consultation about this. If we did nothing else when we amended the provincial statute, we certainly made some folks sit up and think about the reality of having to contend with a provincial law that is not designed to be implemented by a local board or by a council. I believe with their best intentions they sat down and offered the government some suggestions on how it might proceed, and basically that is what we see today.
I know there will be people who will still be very unhappy with these laws because I do not think they are anywhere near being at the level of function that they ought to be. They are not exactly going to go smoothly, but if they get the simple message home that people who sit on a public body cannot make the private decisions, that is worth while. It is also worth while if they simply establish the principle that documents that are used to make those decisions at a school board, on council, wherever, are in fact public documents, not private documents created for the interest and consumption of a very select few; that the preparation of the documents are paid for by tax dollars and the public has a right to know and we are not going to really put up with for very long the concept that they may have a right to know but they will have to pay a couple of hundred dollars in order to get that information.
If we establish through these two laws some very basic principles about the public’s rights, about the rights of privacy and the mechanisms on which this type of legislation ought to work, I think we will have done something worth while: not perfect, but useful. On that basis, we are happy to support the bill. We would ask that it go to committee for a brief set of hearings, but we think that it is worth while. It is not a monumental step, but it is a basic one and something that we find supportable.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Sterling: I too would like to speak in favour of Bill 49, which incidentally arose at this time or has come to light at this time primarily because of the functioning of the two opposition parties to this government during the hearings on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which was passed during the minority Parliament from 1985 to 1987.
At that time, our party and the New Democratic Party, over the objections of the governing Liberal Party, included in the freedom-of-information act for Ontario a clause which would have kicked that act into play for various municipalities across this province. This Bill 49 is a direct result of the fact that we have ticking away in legislation an act which is inappropriate to the municipal structure.
As a consequence really of a move of both the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party, this legislation is being brought forward on this timetable. I am happy that it is being brought forward at this time and, of course, I am happy now that we have the Liberal support of a freedom-of-information law for our municipalities. I think it is time that the minister brought this forward.
I am not as convinced, however, that many of the municipalities which I represent are aware that this legislation is coming down. According to the legislation, it kicks into effect on 1 January 1991. I think it is going to be a rude awakening for some of the municipalities. I agree with my colleague the member for Oshawa that it is in fact a good awakening for some of those municipalities which have tried to operate behind closed doors more than they should have in the past.
I have always found in the parliamentary experience that if you operate in the open, usually there is very little interest by the press in what is in fact taking place, but as soon as you close those doors, there is almost immediate reaction that there is something sinister going on behind the closed doors. I imagine that the experience of many municipal politicians will be, after this act is kicked into effect, “Why on earth did we hold these meetings behind closed doors before?”
I do have a concern that the province will not be providing any kind of financial assistance to the municipalities in implementing this legislation, I would urge that the province consider some kind of financial assistance to the municipalities.
I am also concerned about the retroactivity of this bill. While the provincial government has had in the past adequate resources to run in a more logical and in a more expensive way the recordkeeping, there are many smaller municipalities which have not had that kind of revenue source. I know, when looking to some of the jurisdictions which I represented and particularly before redistribution, that many of the records were in unusual and different places than the municipal hall. That was not because of any sinister plan to hide those records. It was just a matter of having some kind of a space to put a cardboard box in.
You would find many municipal clerks did much of the work out of their residence, as well as doing it out of a municipal hall. Therefore, I am somewhat concerned about the retroactivity part of this bill where a citizen may require of a municipality documents which went back in history a long time, but which may be very expensive to retrieve in terms of trying to find those documents because of imperfect record-keeping or file-keeping.
One other section which bothers me greatly, and I hope to have an opportunity to explore this at greater length, is the combination of section 16 which is the public interest override. Section 16 says that in spite of the exemptions which are contained in the act, they do not apply if there is a compelling public interest in the disclosure of the record that clearly outweighs the purpose of the exemption.
I would agree with the public interest override with regard to most exemptions. However, when dealing with personal information in section 14, I do not agree that a commissioner, an appointed person, should have the final say as to whether, for instance, health information should be released to the general public or somebody who has requested that information about another individual.
In some ways, this bill has more potential for damage than the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which we passed in prior years. That is because this bill covers people who have private information which could be much more damaging to an individual than that covered under the previous freedom-of-information act.
I refer specifically to medical officers of health who are covered under this act. Medical officers of health often have information about who or who may not have communicable diseases in a community. They have information as to who has AIDS in a community. Under this act --
Hon Mr Elston: It is a provincial obligation for reporting.
Mr Sterling: I realize that there are provincial obligations under the act for reporting those and there are certain disclosure requirements of the medical officer of health or a physician who is dealing with that information. However, if someone else asks for that information, he can, as I read this act, ask the commissioner and can put forward the argument that there is a compelling public interest in him or a group of people knowing certain private, personal information.
I named the information as to AIDS because it most dramatically exemplifies that problem. I realized I had a lot of power in my speaking style but I did not think it would extend to that degree.
When the freedom-of-information act was dealing with ministries of this province, our party stood with regard to opposing the public interest test over personal information. I do not believe that personal information, my health or the health of any other individual in Ontario, should be subject to the whims of a commissioner who may or may not release that without consulting this Legislature or any politician therein, and that is what this act says.
I believe the minister can have as effective an act by excluding section 14 from the public interest test contained in section 16. I do not believe it is necessary, and the act will have as much impact without it as within it. I think it is most important from a public perception, more so than perhaps a real danger to the public in terms of the release of that information, because if somebody undertakes to challenge the refusal of the release of important medical information, challenges that to the commissioner and that particular challenge receives publicity, I think it will put into jeopardy the providing of that kind of information to the medical officers of health.
That is the reasoning I put forward in terms of asking the minister to reconsider removing section 14 from section 16 in order to exclude the commissioner from having ultimate control over personal information in the hands of the medical officer of health or any other body in the municipal structure.
As the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) indicated, it will be important to deal with a number of more minor issues in the clause-by-clause hearings on this bill. I am sure we will hear of the successes and failures of our existing law, and perhaps we can remedy in some ways any of the areas that are being reproduced in this bill but have not received or have not really been reviewed under the other law.
I say to the minister as well, in my concern for the public interest test, that under our provincial law there have been nine challenges already to the commissioner of information and privacy on the public interest test. In my view, in terms of people who are providing very necessary information to people like a medical officer of health, it will take only one well-publicized challenge to ruin a lot of very important legislation which has been placed to protect a lot of people in our province.
We are happy to support this bill, and I look forward to the hearings, which again I hope are not protracted. We will look constructively to the delegations and to the minister, hoping he has an open mind to amendments to this act to make it more palatable to the municipal situation.
I only have one fear in dealing with a bill that is so thick and so important: that it is a bit of a remake of another piece of legislation. We should not turn a blind eye to the bill and gloss over it unduly because we have dealt with it in a provincial context. The other organizations have a much different form of government and therefore I think we have to turn our full attention to it during the committee process.
Mr Haggerty: I want to address Bill 49. I do support the principles of the bill in general, but I want to flag one thing to the minister and perhaps other members of the Legislature, and that is the matter raised by the member for Oshawa. My experience on municipal council goes back over a number of years. I am concerned about the exemptions in the bill. The member for Oshawa talked about the bylaws that are being prepared, and here it says draft bylaws will be exempted.
I look at government today and take pride in the way the present government has proceeded in the affairs of the Legislature, where now the Legislature is moving back into the community and having public hearings. When we pass a bill here, we usually have first and second reading in the Legislature here and then it is usually referred to a standing committee, which allows the input of the public to come into the picture and play an important role in the decision-making of legislation or amendments to particular legislation that comes forward.
At the time I sat on council, I saw us giving first, second and third readings of bylaws without any public input into them. Municipalities are larger today and more sophisticated in administration; we have regional governments in the same area that have well supervised staff who prepare the information for the elected representatives, but very little is given to the local taxpayers or the residents of a community.
I would suggest to the minister, when we are talking about exemptions here, that perhaps we should bring in legislation or an amendment to this bill, or even to the Municipal Act, saying that no council can pass a bylaw in first or second reading without public notice. Then before a motion to pass the bylaw is adopted by council in this area, it should be referred to a public -- in case it requires public hearings in this area. Often this is where elected municipal officials run into difficulties. They will give first, second and third readings in a matter of one night’s sitting without any public input.
I would suggest that perhaps we should be looking at putting a little bit of the government back into the hands of the communities in a sense, to say that before third reading there should be public hearings. You may get involvement of the public, hopefully. That is the purpose of it. You would have public input into a bylaw that may need changes or may affect certain areas of the municipality. I suggest perhaps we should be looking at that.
Hon Mr Elston: The interventions of the members today have been quite helpful, and I could go on at length to address some of the issues raised, but I must say we are looking forward to going out to committee and speaking to some of the issues.
I am certain the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins) will take due notice of the intervention of the member for Niagara South (Mr Haggerty), which I think is a very important contribution to making sure the process there is open.
The same applies with respect to the member for Oshawa, who also spoke about the issue of closed meetings. The closed-meeting concept is affected by this legislation inasmuch as it really tells councils that you must be open with your constituents and in fact that you must be able to provide the information for the people to make informed judgements on their own. I have a lot of faith in the fact that the commissioner’s experience at the provincial level will allow that office to continue to function in providing the balance.
I am quite aware of the concerns expressed by the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), who has indicated concerns about private information. We will look into those. I am looking forward to the committee and perhaps addressing several of the outstanding issues about which he spoke and the ones the member for Oshawa also raised.
The issue that was on all our minds was the one surrounding whether or not we could bring the legislation forward in a timely, workable fashion for the municipalities. I think that this bill has done that and that in fact the practical application of its provisions in the municipal and local board areas will be effective.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bill ordered for standing committee on administration of justice.
MUNICIPAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION STATUTE ACT, 1989
Mr Elston moved second reading of Bill 52, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Enactment of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989.
Hon Mr Elston: As indicated by the title of the bill, this is a companion piece to Bill 49, and I think the amendments are necessary as a housekeeping exercise.
Mr Breaugh: We would support this bill as it is a companion to Bill 49 and we would also ask at the same time that it go to committee.
Mr Harris: We also would support the principle of the bill and would concur that, as long as Bill 49 is going to committee, this bill go as well, so they can proceed at the same time, in the interests of speeding things along and making sure that progress is made, as it should be made, on important items of business like this.
Hon Mr Elston: I have no problem with this bill going at the same time as Bill 49 to the standing committee on administration of justice and look forward to seeing it there.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for the standing committee on administration of justice.
TOWNSHIP OF SOUTH DUMFRIES ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved, on behalf of Mr Sweeney, second reading of Bill 55, An Act respecting the township of South Dumfries.
Mr Ballinger: Bill 55 amends the Police Village of St George Act, 1980, to extend the boundaries of the urban service area and the municipal hydroelectric service area.
Mr Breaugh: We will be pleased to support Bill 55. There is a little bit of a problem with boundaries in South Dumfries, and we want to do anything we can to help the residents of that area who have suffered under poor representation lo, these many years. I know the parliamentary assistant is anxious to proceed with this legislation --
Hon Mr Elston: Are you commenting publicly on the wisdom of the constituents of South Dumfries?
Mr Breaugh: No. I understand they have been trying to keep somebody who would normally be unemployed warm during the winter and we are happy to concur with that.
Mr Harris: We too will support the bill on second reading. In winding up second reading debate, I would be interested in hearing from the parliamentary assistant any of the comments or reactions that he has from South Dumfries township and from neighbouring municipalities or jurisdictions that may be affected by the changes.
Not being a resident of South Dumfries myself, I am not totally familiar with any local concerns that may exist with this particular bill, but as one who has admittedly seen a large part of the province over the summer, South Dumfries has eluded me and it is an area I must get to shortly to find out precisely what they feel about Bill 55.
When the parliamentary assistant concludes, I would be interested if he would share with the House any reaction his ministry has from both South Dumfries and surrounding townships.
Mr McCague: The first item speaking to this bill should be to congratulate the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) on his appointment as parliamentary assistant to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and to tell him how pleasant it is on this side of the House on the opening of this part of this session. It is unbelievably and pleasantly quiet over here right now. I hope the promotion which the member has received will find him a little less vocal during important parts of this Legislature than previously.
I am surprised that my colleague the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) has not realized that this bill is somehow related to that place called St George. I have been out of the House for the last half-hour; the purpose was to try to contact the boys at Earl’s Shell to see what they thought of this bill, but the phone has been busy and I can only presume that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has been on there talking to them about other important matters of taxation and such and that they were not able to tell me or give me the benefit of their wisdom.
However, with those few items that are not really so important, I will, like my colleague the member for Nipissing, indicate to the minister that as a first endeavour, the first bill that he has to pass in this House is going to be an easy one unless my colleagues from the NDP see differently.
Mr Ballinger: I want to thank the members on the other side of the House. It is my pleasure to stand in the place of the minister today.
For the information of the House, in 1980 the village of St George was dissolved, and when that was done there were boundaries that were established. The problem they have discovered in South Dumfries is that any proposed development or any expansion to the community cannot happen until those boundaries are moved out to coincide with the proposed expansion.
The township of South Dumfries, for the member for Nipissing, requested this bill. The Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod) has been consulted and does not have any difficulty with it at all. In fact, the township of South Dumfries is waiting patiently for this --
An hon member: Ron Eddy was never patient.
Mr Ballinger: That is right. Ron Eddy, the reeve, was never patient. However, we have been informed that he is waiting patiently and would appreciate very much the support of the House in approving second reading.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 1756.