The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
The Deputy Speaker: May I bring the following to the attention of the members this morning: As you are aware, we have some new standing orders. For the benefit of the members, I shall read standing order 94(c).
“The time available for debate on each item of business under this standing order shall be apportioned as follows:
“(i) 10 minutes for the member moving a motion;
“(ii) a period of 15 minutes to be allotted in rotation for a representative or representatives of each of the recognized parties in the House. The mover of the motion may speak a second time during the time provided for a representative or representatives of the party of which he or she is a member;
“(iii) two minutes for a reply by the member moving the motion.”
As all members are aware of the new standing orders, I just thought I would repeat that for their benefit, especially for this first time.
Mr Furlong moved resolution 20:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that existing insurance legislation has not undergone a comprehensive review in many years and that the realities of international competition require the updating of statutes to ensure both consumer protection and fair competition in the insurance field, and recognizing that the breakdown of the so-called four pillars necessitates the updating of our statutes to ensure continued confidence in Ontario’s commercial marketplace and that continued discussions concerning insurance issues at both the federal and provincial levels are necessary, and further recognizing the desire by the banks to enter the field of marketing insurance products, the Minister of Financial Institutions should immediately embark upon a comprehensive review of existing insurance legislation to ensure consumer protection and continued competitiveness in the marketing of insurance products in Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Furlong has moved the private resolution standing in his name. Pursuant again to standing order 94(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.
Mr Furlong: To say that insurance is a vital part of our modern society would be an understatement. For most residents of Ontario, the availability of insurance makes it possible to own property, to own and operate a vehicle and to run our businesses without risk of serious financial loss. As the Insurance Bureau of Canada puts it: “Insurance substitutes certainty for uncertainty.” It makes it possible to substitute a small but definite cost, the premium, for a large and uncertain loss.
Insurance companies as well as other financial institutions have been among the most highly regulated industries in Canada. The reason is simple. This industry has played a vital role in Ontario’s economy and has been required to maintain a financial trust on behalf of ordinary consumers. In 1988, there were 558 insurance companies licensed to operate in Ontario. Combined, they wrote over $14 billion of premiums. The industry employs approximately 76,000 people.
Consumer and investor alike have used the Insurance Act as a security blanket. Very strict rules on ownership and restricted investment opportunity gave the impression of a blue-chip security net. The Insurance Act provided investment security even in the construction of wills and trusts. We must now, however, reflect on this security blanket. Is it still there?
For years, financial services in Canada have been provided through the traditional four pillars: banks, trust companies, investment dealers and insurance companies. A change is occurring. The ongoing breakdown of the so-called four pillars necessitates the updating of our statutes to ensure continued confidence in Ontario’s commercial marketplace and consumer protection.
I want to take a moment to briefly review what has been happening in the insurance industry. Recent federal changes in the regulation of financial institutions indicate that federally regulated insurance companies operating in Canada will be allowed to be involved in a broad new range of activities in the future. The banking industry has made it clear that it wants expanded powers which include the retailing of insurance products. Perhaps the federal government may deal with this matter through its update of the Bank Act.
However, if the revised legislation does not preclude all involvement of banks in the marketing of insurance in the future, it may become necessary for the province to address the issue in order to ensure that consumer protection is well served. It will be necessary for Ontario to ensure that its residents are provided with appropriate consumer protection. This must be addressed by way of information disclosure and education, fair marketing practices and distribution systems and access to just remedies and redress.
As I mentioned, the conduct of the insurance industry in Canada has been and must continue to be closely supervised and regulated by both the federal and provincial governments. Federal and provincial initiatives in the restructuring of the regulation of financial institutions have been evident over the past three years. The federal government is primarily concerned with the solvency and stability of insurance companies, which are registered under its statutes and regulations. The province has the predominant role in supervising the terms and conditions of insurance contracts and the licensing of companies, agents, brokers and adjusters operating under provincial charters.
The ongoing challenge is to ensure that insurance is available to consumers who contract for it and that insurers are financially capable of paying claims of policyholders. In December 1986, a policy paper entitled New Directions for the Financial Sector was tabled in the House of Commons. The purpose of the policy paper was to provide a framework for new federal legislation designed to extend powers, to change the ownership provisions, to provide tougher regulation and a more effective supervisory system and to clarify rules on foreign participation of and for banks, trusts, loan and insurance companies and other federally regulated financial institutions.
The key objectives behind the policy paper are to promote competition and innovation, thereby enhancing options available to consumers and broadening sources of credit for individuals in business; to ensure the soundness of financial institutions and improve consumer protection; to control self-dealing; to guard against abuses arising from conflict of interest; to promote international competitiveness; to foster world-class institutions.
In 1987 Ontario reacted with the passage of Bill 116, An Act to revise the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. Our province acted as a leader in introducing modern legislation governing loan and trust corporations. This massive financial deregulation threw open the province’s stock and investment business to banks, trust companies, giant foreign corporations and other interests. This act was the product of years of consultation with legislators, industry members, professional groups and other governments. This act is considered to be the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada. It has served as a model for other jurisdictions.
The new provincial act balances the need for change in today’s economic climate with the need for control of areas that could lead to unsound business practices. It strengthens, for example, areas related to depositor protection while at the same time providing the corporations with greater latitude in investment choice.
One might argue that the enactment of Bill 116, along with the federal government initiatives, spells the final collapse of the traditional four-pillars approach to regulating financial institutions, in which stockbrokers, banks, trust companies and insurance firms were prevented from invading each others’ businesses. I might note in passing how quickly big banks moved in to acquire large brokerage houses after the passage of this act.
The expansion of the powers of the various financial institutions recognizes that different types of financial institutions are now offering similar products, structured differently, due merely to regulatory constraints. The removal of the barriers between the various types of financial institutions and restrictions on common ownership is contributing to the disappearance of the four-pillars concept and may allow for the implementation of full-service financial supermarkets in Canada.
The change in the financial structure of insurance companies and other financial institutions has been significant. What then is the impact on the insurance industry and the insurance consumer? What details should be included in the provincial legislation governing financial institutions? Should financial institutions other than insurance companies be permitted to retail insurance products? If the answer is yes, then how do we address competition, service to customers, potential customer abuse, conflict of interest and confidentiality of information?
No one can dispute that there is a demonstrated need and a demand for a comprehensive review of the Insurance Act. Although there have been numerous amendments to it over the years, they have been done on an as-needed basis. The Insurance Act has never been comprehensively reviewed since its enactment over 50 years ago. There are a number of antiquated provisions in this legislation. It is not well organized and it does not include a modern corporate governance framework for the operation of insurance companies. In addition, the financial regulation, market distribution and consumer protection areas require a policy review and legislative overhaul.
The insurance industry itself has acknowledged that a major revision of the Insurance Act is necessary. In 1985 the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc made a submission on the revision of the Insurance Act. This summer the Ministry of Financial Institutions called for consultation on proposals for life insurance agent reform. This model for qualification on licensing of life insurance agents is presently out for public review and input. Current standards have been in practice for over 40 years.
An insurance review would help to ensure that issues such as this are adequately studied. With the changes in the financial services industry, the nature of the insurance business is changing rapidly and insurance review could help to develop a new definition of insurance to provide a focus and direction for the regulation of insurance services in the future.
If the banks are permitted to network the sale of insurance, it may be necessary for the province to introduce consumer protection measures to ensure sufficient consumer disclosure, fair competition and consumer choice.
In addition to the Insurance Act, the insurance division of the Ministry of Financial Institutions also administers seven other statutes. All of these statutes need to be analysed to determine whether they are still required, whether they require updating or overhaul and whether they could be incorporated into an omnibus insurance bill.
It is clear that Canada is in the midst of a number of important changes with respect to the regulation of financial institutions. Insurance companies operating in Ontario will be allowed to be involved in a broad new range of activities. This will result in many new and challenging opportunities. I urge members to support this resolution.
Mr Kormos: I have no hesitation in supporting this resolution. I am going to vote in support of it and I am hoping that as many members of this Legislature as can be present will do so, because the issue of consumer protection, when it comes to insurance, has been foremost on our party’s agenda for a long, long time now and certainly has been the subject matter of much questioning and debate right here in this very Legislature.
Indeed, it was the government’s own minister back in the spring of 1987, when he announced what was heralded as some sort of, albeit half-baked, resolution to the ills of the auto insurance industry, which was going to be some relief for consumers in that regard, who said the auto insurance industry is treating consumers shabbily in this province. The government, as a result of the pressure put on it by the opposition, because this was still during the period of the accord, made a number of promises.
Those promises, of course, peaked in the three days before the general election in 1987 when the Premier (Mr Peterson) promised that he had a specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums here in Ontario. So we are very concerned about the protection of auto insurance consumers and indeed think that a major overhaul is necessary if drivers in Ontario are going to be protected and treated fairly.
I have to give some examples of the sorts of things I am speaking of. Let me tell members once again about a young man, 24 years old, from Thorold, Gino Pasquariello, licensed for eight years, works as a letter carrier. He had been insured with Commercial Union for two years -- no claims, no Highway Traffic Act violations, no accidents -- but had the misfortune in March 1989 to strike a child who was at a school crossing, a child who according to the police investigation ran out past the school crossing guard.
This situation was indeed unfortunate. We are told there were some very minor, readily treated injuries to the child, but one in which the Niagara Regional Police held there was no criminal or Highway Traffic Act liability on Mr Pasquariello’s part. No charges were laid, no writ and no notice of any pending action were served on Mr Pasquariello. It was an accident for which it would appear, according to the observations of all reasonable people, that he was not at fault and for which there was going to be no claim made against his insurer or against him.
The young man, with eight years of driving experience and two years with that insurance company, had been paying premiums in the range of $600 or $700 a year for the one vehicle that he was driving at the time of the accident, and he was told by his broker that as a result of that, Commercial Union was not going to cover him any more.
We are not talking about a person who has had a plethora of claims made against him or who has demonstrated bad driving. The option that was given to him was very limited, because he was told that his new premium was going to be $2,964, certainly a dramatic increase, some 400 per cent over what he had been paying mere weeks earlier. Here is a young man who feels completely betrayed by the absence of any consumer protection for drivers here in Ontario.
He contacted me and I raised this matter here in the Legislature with the minister on 7 June. I raised it again with the minister in committee on 19 June. The minister assured me he would use his offices to come to the aid of Mr Pasquariello. The impression one got was that he, the minister, recognized this as an injustice and an abuse by Commercial Union, in this case an auto insurer, but that he, the minister, would come to Mr Pasquariello’s aid. At the time, I certainly appreciated that.
I told young Mr Pasquariello from Thorold that the minister was going to help him, that the minister had told me that he, the minister, was going to help Mr Pasquariello and that it was a simple matter of being patient and waiting.
That was back in March of this year, but as recently as yesterday, Jack McKay, a 40-year-old driver from Albany Avenue here in Toronto called me and was quite disturbed. He operated a 1985 Honda Accord, was insured with Wawanesa Insurance since 1981 and was buying from a broker here in Toronto. His current renewal date is November 1989. Last year he paid $717 for his insurance.
Once again, Mr McKay, a 40-year-old driver with some significant years of driving experience, had not acquired a highway traffic record. He had made some claims against his policy for vandalism and theft from his vehicle. As far as he was concerned, that was why he was paying premiums, so that if there was damage done to his vehicle or contents were stolen through no fault of his, he could seek compensation. He acknowledged that he recently was involved in a traffic accident, a collision. There was no personal injury and he told me the property damage was modest. He was told that as a result of that final claim, Wawanesa will not renew his policy in November of this year when it becomes renewable. He had been paying a premium of $7 17, one that he realized was a considerable premium but none the less one that he had budgeted around.
It was not a matter of Wawanesa’s saying, “Look, you’ve made a number of claims and now you are going to suffer surcharges as a result of having made those claims.” It was a matter of Wawanesa’s saying, “No, we are not going to insure you any more,” basically dropping Mr McKay like the proverbial hot potato.
The shocking thing was that his broker, H. Later and Co, shopped around for him, as brokers tend to do, and found coverage for him, very much like Mr Pasquariello, who ended up being quoted a price of almost $3,000. Mr McKay was quoted the best price they could find: $2,586; again, almost a 400 per cent differential between what he had been paying and what he was expected to pay. What the broker did not tell him at first instance was that this was not an insurance company, this was Facility Association, just as with Mr Pasquariello; that indeed Mr McKay was not going to be able to buy insurance from a regular insurer at definable rates -- never mind reasonable, we are long past that -- but at definable rates.
What we find is that the Facility Association has enjoyed huge increases in the numbers of drivers that it insures. Indeed, in January 1988 there was a value of premiums in the range of $13 million by Facility Association. In 1989, for the same month, it had increased to $21,622,000; a significant differential, a significant increase, and obviously a reflection of the numbers of people who are no longer allowed to be insured, who are being turned down arbitrarily and without notice by regular insurers.
Once again, having heard of the minister’s willingness to assist, I wrote yesterday to the minister outlining Mr McKay’s dilemma, his being forced into Facility Association, his being forced into a premium range of 400 per cent greater than what he had been paying previously, premiums jumping from $717 to $2,586; again, a good driver, one who has not suffered a plethora of at-fault claims, one who has conducted himself responsibly, one who is being abused -- no two ways about it -- as so many others in this province are, by the auto insurance industry.
I sent this letter to the minister, hoping he would show the same enthusiasm as he did back in the early part of this year about Mr Pasquariello, but my optimism has become somewhat feckless, because indeed the response to Mr Pasquariello’s difficulty down in Thorold has been -- well, it has been less than promising. No two ways about it, the word processors were in gear and were pounding out the typewritten material.
In July, the minister wrote to me thanking me for telling him about Mr Pasquariello, and indeed writing to Mr Pasquariello indicating that I had written to the minister and that he, the minister, was going to look into it and that he was referring the matter to his superintendent of insurance. Quite frankly, my impression of the minister, my appreciation of him increased -- albeit momentarily, because the net result in September of this year was a big zero. Indeed, Mr Pasquariello got what is the standard form letter from the superintendent of insurance, which basically says: “Too bad, so sad. You’re on your own, pal. You’ve got your problems with the insurance industry. We know we’re the superintendent of insurance, but we’re not going to get involved. As I say, too bad, so sad. You’re on your own.”
What this means is that the consumer protection agency, in effect the superintendent of insurance, failed Mr Pasquariello totally. As toothless as an agency could ever be, it gummed the issue for a while and then spat it out back into Mr Pasquariello’s lap.
So indeed we do need legislation in this province that protects consumers with respect to auto insurance. We need legislation that ensures that people can obtain insurance affordably, which ensures that people will not be arbitrarily denied insurance, as so many tens of thousands of people in this province have been in the recent past. The farthest thing in the world from meeting those requirements is the new so-called Ontario motorist protection plan. It is just incredible that the government, that the minister, would try to pass this off as some sort of protection plan. This is the most offensive bit of legislation to pull the rug out from underneath drivers, as if they needed that at this point in our auto insurance history.
We are talking about legislation proposed by this government that means that most people will get nothing, absolutely no compensation for pain and suffering. It means that most people who are employees will be unable to recover their full loss of wages. It means that those people who are self-employed and who are innocent victims of motor vehicle accidents, self-employed people, small business people, will be unable to recover any loss of profit and any losses associated with the disruption of their businesses.
These are the sort of people who will end up losing their businesses, be forced into bankruptcy and be entitled to recover nothing, albeit they are innocent victims of bad drivers, of drunk drivers, of careless drivers, of negligent drivers. That is what the government’s new legislation is doing for small businessmen who will be the innocent victims of these types of bad drivers.
We are talking about legislation which will guarantee that people will be unable to recover any compensation for many serious physical injuries, including broken bones, scarring, torn muscles and the pain and suffering that accompanies these and other injuries. This is legislation that tells you that you cannot, you will not, you are not going to be permitted to recover any compensation for emotional or psychological injuries, such as depression, shock or anxiety.
This is legislation that guarantees -- some guarantee -- that no matter what you earn, the most you can recover is $450 per week, notwithstanding that your income or wages could be higher than that and notwithstanding that your expenses, your cost of living, your mortgage payments, what it takes at the supermarket to put food on the table for your family, for your wife and kids has not been reduced. This legislation is going to guarantee that even you as an innocent victim in a motor vehicle accident will not be able to cover your actual loss in wages.
This is the last thing in the world that could be called a motorist protection plan. Indeed, as I say, it is offensive and completely unacceptable. We know what it is. It is the arm-in-arm dance with the auto insurance industry here in Ontario. What the government is telling the auto insurance industry is, “We’ll give you, the auto insurance boys, everything you ever wanted,” and what it is telling the drivers of this province is, “You’re going to get screwed once again.”
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to congratulate the member for Durham Centre (Mr Furlong) on his resolution before the House today. For certain, it is a resolution that the Progressive Conservative Party will strongly support.
When we are looking at a comprehensive review of Ontario’s insurance legislation, in order to ensure consumer protection and continued competitiveness in the marketing of insurance products in Ontario, the member for Durham Centre has brought to all of our attention, I think, a lot of issues that do affect the marketplace and do affect people’s lives directly. It is much deeper than just looking at what the insurance industry is all about and what the role of the provincial and the federal governments is all about in the marketplace. It is one that directly affects the lives of families.
In taking a look at the history that is changing so rapidly before our eyes as we look at the four financial pillars in this country -- banks, trust companies, securities dealers and insurance companies -- and the move to global financial markets over the past decade, we are looking at a challenge that has presented opportunities for Canada’s financial services industry and continuing challenges for government.
The four financial pillars are governed by a myriad of federal and provincial legislation. Over the summer, many of us watched the activities of just the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario as it tried to present its concerns before the House of Commons finance committee chaired by Mr Blenkarn. As the other activities came to the light of the public over the summer months with regard to the selling of insurance by banks, we know that the public indeed needs our help in coming to some solution, given these changes.
Under a series of decisions at both levels of government, the structure of Canada’s financial industry has changed dramatically, more quickly than legislation has been able to respond. Canada’s banks are now owners of brokerage firms, and insurance and trust companies are being forged into financial conglomerates often owned by nonfinancial companies. The system has certainly taken a different road.
Before deregulation, the four pillars were restricted to their core business, and cross-ownerships, of course, were not permitted. As the different institutions’ product lines merge, the federal and provincial governments clash over who should regulate what. We should be taking a very strong position on this deregulation -- or reregulation, as some prefer to call it.
The matter is of special importance to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, homes to Canada’s largest financial markets. Approximately 65 per cent of Canada’s savings deposits come from Ontario.
Speaking in the Globe and Mail on 20 March 1989 about Ontario’s patchwork of rules and regulations governing its financial sector, Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Financial Institutions, Robert Simpson, said, “When you make sense of all this, give me a call.” How cryptic. There are conflicting and overlapping rules which are leading to inefficiencies in the system and reducing the abilities of companies to compete internationally.
For example, Quebec charter firms operating in Ontario cannot buy commercial companies, lend money to affiliates or buy affiliates’ shares even though Quebec laws allow such transactions. And the stage goes on.
Continued efforts are needed to better harmonize the approaches of the federal and provincial governments and their supervisory bodies to a broad range of issues in the financial sector, issues such as ownership of financial institutions, conflict-of-interest rules, ethical standards, and levels of adequacy to protect institutions and their depositors.
The Economic Council of Canada has urged the federal and provincial governments to harmonize rules and establish minimum regulatory standards for all financial institutions, and I underline minimum. The council proposed a system similar to Europe’s 1992 open-borders plan where nations can agree on minimum standards on issues such as solvency but also mutually recognize each other’s rules and differences.
It is really important, as we get into new, meaningful legislation, that we do not make it more difficult for Canadians and Ontarians to be competitive.
In securities regulation, there could be a national framework on standards for capital adequacy, disclosure, prospectuses and other matters. And as mentioned in the resolution of the member for Durham Centre, banks are very eager to enter the field of marketing insurance products in Ontario.
I will refer back to my opening comments as we talked about the events from 17 May right up until the end of June. The Toronto-Dominion Bank announced in March, of course, its plans for a joint venture with the Simcoe and Erie General Insurance Co to market home owners’ products to the bank’s customers, something new in Ontario, something that the consumer was not aware could be supportive or not supportive with regard to conflicts of interest down the road with their own finances. And in May, the Bank of Nova Scotia announced a joint venture with the Canada Life Assurance Co to mass market home owners’ products to the bank’s customers.
Of course, those involved, such as the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, have made their voices heard, I think, in a very responsible manner as they face the challenges of trying to influence the government of Canada. I think that subsequently they will have an opportunity, before any legislation can be introduced, to be part of a very extensive review of the Ontario legislation.
Our existing insurance legislation has not undergone substantive review in quite a number of years. The Guardall and Coulter insurance fiascos are a sign of underlying problems in Ontario’s regulation of the insurance industry. We have innocent victims, who are called consumers, because we do not have legislation in place to protect the people we represent.
In closing, a review of the statutes with respect to consumer protection and fair competition provisions is long overdue, and the Progressive Conservative Party will in fact be supporting the resolution of the member for Durham Centre this morning.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I too would like to congratulate the member for Durham Centre, as I know him. He has brought a resolution to this chamber which I think is important and relevant and which deals with very significant issues.
The matter of legislation governing insurance companies is important to every consumer in Ontario. Unfortunately, in Ontario, the legislation which companies and consumers must deal with was written in the 1940s; indeed, some of it goes back to the previous century. In fact, I can tell you that federal laws are just as antiquated, just as out of date. Business pays millions to comply with outdated federal financial acts. The 57-year-old insurance act in Ottawa requires companies to keep their records on paper. The same act does not allow boards of directors to conduct meetings by way of telephone. So in fact we are dealing with out-of-date legislation not just in Ontario but in Canada.
The fact is, the legislation does not reflect the modern day realities of corporate law, it does not reflect the modern day realities of global markets and it does not reflect the realities of the revolution that is taking place in our capital markets.
In the past, the capital markets and financial institutions have been orderly, structured; they have been compartmentalized; they have been heavily regulated; and they have been protected against overlap and intrusion by foreign owners. Rules were erected to protect domestic companies within each of the four separate pillars.
The banks were restricted to deposit-taking and lending; trust companies were restricted to fiduciary activities; the insurance industry was restricted to offering insurance protection; and finally, securities dealers, the fourth pillar, were restricted to underwriting and securities trading.
In fact, what is happening today is a revolution in the financial markets. The four pillars are merging. Many say the four pillars are crumbling. For instance, in Ontario and Canada, banks can now own securities dealers, and they are taking up that opportunity. Insurance companies can now own securities dealers and, for whatever reason, they have not taken up that opportunity. There are many other examples.
One of the attractive attributes of this merging of the pillars, the crumbling of the pillars, that is promised to us as consumers is the opportunity for one-stop shopping, where we can buy our securities and our insurance, we can do our banking and our trust activities in one shop, under one roof, In fact, the market is leading in this respect. Large financial groupings are being built in the United States. Prudential-Bache and American Express are one example, Aetna is another example. In Canada, Trilon Financial Corp and the Laurentian Group Corp in Quebec are taking up that opportunity to offer one-stop financial shopping.
The deregulation and the merger of these four pillars none the less is being driven by the industry. There is very little evidence that there is consumer demand and that the deregulation and the new ways of offering services are being driven by consumer demand.
So we have this deregulation and merging of the four pillars occurring. At the same time, the regional and local markets in the financial institutions industry are being subsumed into one global market. The globalization of the financial markets is being fuelled by developments in electronic communications, computerization, interlisted securities, interlinks between markets and securities markets, investment mobility -- capital can move just about anywhere on this planet now -- and incredible surplus imbalances between countries, Japan being a good example.
The net result is that we have got a global market of one-stop financial offerings. What does this all mean, and has the industry benefited from the partial deregulation which has occurred to date and the merger of the four pillars? I suggest that the benefits may not have been as great as they were thought to be.
For instance, look at the federal scene after three major policy proposals, a set of draft legislation and five national studies. One remembers Barb McDougall’s green paper and Tom Hockin’s blue paper and the papers that went on and on, and draft legislation that has been put before us with the goal of breaking down the barriers among banks, trusts, insurance and securities companies in order to bring them up to date with the global market, planning to give consumers more competition and convenience of multiple financial services under one roof. Very little evidence of that reality is available on the street for consumers.
In fact, after all the studies and the draft legislation, very little change has taken place at the federal level, partially because the government has been changing its mind so often. Key issues of corporate concentration, commercial linkages and who will sell insurance have not been answered at the federal level where the leadership on this issue should be. For consumers, the regulatory morass renders a complex industry even more complex. For the industry, I think it is fair to quote Tom Di Giacomo, president and chief executive officer of Manufacturers Life Insurance. When he talks about deregulation, his comment is simply, “It’s a mess.” The state of deregulation is at best in limbo and at worst in chaos.
I suggest to members that so far the industry has not benefited from partial deregulation. I next ask, “Has the consumer benefited?” I think I have already indicated my bias. The consumer has no apparent benefit to date. None the less, important issues are being raised, questions like who should sell insurance. Should the banks sell insurance or should the brokers sell insurance? I suggest that we have to think about whether banks should be selling insurance, because banks have never sold insurance before. They do not know the insurance product. They do not know what advice should be given to a consumer. They may have a valid argument, but we have to answer the question first and we have to be concerned about the interests of the consumer.
In any event, the deregulation that is taking place has produced a regulatory quagmire, creating a very perplexing, complex financial system with different rules in different provinces. Quebec rules on ownership and corporate practices for insurance companies vary greatly from Ontario’s, as do the rules in British Columbia and in Ottawa. There is no harmony. What this means is between provinces and between businesses that carry on business in different provinces there is incredible confusion as to who can do what, who cannot do what and what these institutions should be doing.
The bottom line is that the consumer is not being well served at this point. For that reason, I urge the government of Ontario to get on with the review of the insurance legislation. I agree with the motion of the member for Durham Centre. I urge everyone in this House to support it.
The Deputy Speaker: The official opposition having used up all of its 15-minute period, and seeing no member of the third party present to speak, the rotation will then proceed to the member for Guelph.
Mr Ferraro: Somebody asked me when this session started what I thought it was going to be like. I said, “Well, from the Liberal government’s point of view, we want to adopt the Blue Jays philosophy.” He said, “What’s that?” I said, “Well, we’re going to try to remain hitless in crucial situations.”
I would say to my good friend the member for Durham Centre, who brought forward this motion, that keeping in line with that philosophy, if he was a pitcher for the Blue Jays, he just threw the NDP a lob and the Rickey Hendersons over there took a good cut at it.
All one has to do is mention the word “insurance” and members of the opposition -- and I do not blame them quite frankly -- will seize the opportunity and talk almost entirely on auto insurance. I will refrain from making any comment about their position vis-à-vis auto insurance and the position of Rickey Henderson from the Oakland Athletics by saying that they do not necessarily both exist in left field, but close.
History may be made today as well in that this may be the only time this session where we may have a unanimous vote on an issue dealing with the word “insurance.”
But to get to the point of the member for Durham Centre’s motion, and I think it is an important one, it is essentially a much-needed and good resolution. I will refrain from dealing essentially just with auto insurance because the motion itself is dealing with the insurance industry in general, and as commented by the member for York Mills (Mr J. B. Nixon) and others, the whole atmosphere or environment of financial institutions -- insurance companies certainly are included, being one of the largest pillars -- is changing dramatically.
I might say that the government recognized initially that the dependence upon the government to oversee insurance companies, trust companies, the stock exchange, credit unions and so forth is much more demanding. For that reason, I might point out, this government created a separate ministry. That of course is the ministry I am involved with under the capable leadership of the member for Bruce (Mr Elston), and it is the Ministry of Financial Institutions.
There is no question, for the benefit of some people who might not know this, that there are 558 insurance companies that do business in our province, and like trust companies, if you are going to do business in Canada or Ontario, you can be either federally incorporated or provincially incorporated. Of the 558 insurance companies that are doing business in Ontario, approximately 100 of them are provincially incorporated; what that means, of course, is essentially the place you go to in order to get a licence so you can do business.
There are reciprocal agreements, I might point out. If you are federally incorporated, you can do business in any province. If you are provincially incorporated you essentially start doing business, in this case in Ontario, and there are reciprocal agreements whereby you can do business in other provinces. There is a lot of day-to-day interaction, not only between federal and provincial regulatory authorities, financial institution ministries and so forth but also between the provincial institutions.
There is no question, it is very difficult to come up with standards, if you will, and to do away with some of the red tape, if you will. It has been obvious to the ministry that we have to do something in this regard. As we know, the lnsurance Act has not been changed in 50 years. The ministry has created, for the first time to my knowledge, a project review team. There are approximately 12 people in the ministry now who essentially devote most of their time to updating and looking at updating the Insurance Act.
Some people will say, “Well, how come it takes so long that you have to wait 50 years and indeed you have to develop your own project review team?”
I would point out that there has been some change in regulation. For example, we have dealt with and are dealing with issues now dealing with auto insurance. We have dealt with some issues pertaining to life and health and casualty regulation, but we have done it essentially on a need basis, and that is just the reality that politicians have to deal with. When there is a problem in the auto insurance industry, we as politicians have to do what we do best, and hopefully that is to regulate and look after the general good of the public we represent.
We have this group that is actively and, I might point out, very capably looking at the situation. We anticipate that we will have next year, I might point out, a consultation paper on changes to the insurance industry. Indeed, those people interested in this particular area can look forward to that.
I want to emphasize again that our main concern is dealing with consumer protection, as alluded to by other speakers; we are concerned indeed about the marketing practices of insurance companies. Certainly there is going to be much discussion as to whether or not insurance companies and/or in the context of banks changing their mandate, if you will, and client services, there will be a lot of discussion in that regard. I should also point out that another area of significant concern for the ministry is one of corporate governance. In essence, we have to modernize and update our regulatory control over the insurance companies.
I commend the member for Durham Centre for his motion. I think it is timely. I think it was long overdue. I only say, as a friend and colleague of his, we will look forward with anticipation to his involvement in those discussions.
The Deputy Speaker: I repeat, as the official opposition has used up its 15-minute period and there are no members of the third party wanting to complete their 15-minute allocation and the 15-minute period for the government party is completed, we shall now proceed with a windup from the member who moved the resolution.
Mr Furlong: First, I would like to thank the members who spoke in support of this resolution: the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos), the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham), the member for York Mills and the member for Guelph (Mr Ferraro). I cannot say that I was surprised that the member for Welland-Thorold would devote most of his time to auto insurance -- perhaps it was a lob, as my friend from Guelph indicated -- but I would like to thank the members for their thoughtful consideration and participation in this debate.
I believe that the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston) should embark on this comprehensive review to pay particular attention to the issues that I raised previously and to some other issues that I did not have time to mention, such as simplification of insurance contracts, federal-provincial jurisdictional issues and, last but not least, the potential impact of the free trade agreement.
I believe that the review is necessary. I believe that only with the review will we ensure consumer protection. At the same time, I am mindful of the fact that our insurance companies must be competitive in the marketing of their insurance products but, as I have mentioned before, I do not think that it should be to the detriment of those who support these industries by purchasing their products.
As we have indicated, with the banks getting involved in the insurance industry, if that regulation is not in place, then as I mentioned before, I fear for such things as conflict of interest and confidentiality of information. If the banks get into auto insurance, what if they get into auto leasing; what conflicts would come out of that?
I believe the review is timely. I am glad to hear that the ministry is working towards this goal, and I certainly hope that it will be concluded within a very short time.
The Deputy Speaker: This completes the discussion for the first ballot item.
ONTARIO ENERGY BOARD AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Charlton moved second reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act.
The Deputy Speaker: According to this new standing order 94(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes to make his presentation.
Mr Charlton: It is a pleasure once again to participate in the private members’ process here in the House, but I have to say right at the outset that it is somewhat frustrating to be dealing in October 1989 with the same bill that I debated here in the House last 24 November, a bill which was defeated by the government members on the basis that the minister, in very short order, was going to be bringing in a comprehensive package of amendments to the Power Corporation Act, the Ontario Energy Board Act and a number of other pieces of legislation dealing with the operations of Ontario Hydro and that comprehensive package has not materialized from this government a full year later.
I want to take a moment to emphasize the frustration that I feel because this is not just one year we are talking about since last November when we last debated my bill. It is, in fact, three years and four months of delay and dithering on the part of the government. It was July 1986 when the select committee tabled its report here in this House, a report that contained a number of recommendations, supported unanimously by the members of that select committee from all three parties.
During the debate last November I read into the record a number of those recommendations that dealt specifically with the piece of legislation I had brought forward. I am not going to take the time of this House to read those recommendations into the record again. Suffice it to say that those recommendations were carefully considered by the select committee after extensive testimony over a number of months in the spring of 1986 from expert witnesses who were brought in from all over the continent, expert witnesses who have experience in the matters at hand that do not exist here in the province of Ontario.
Bill 59, as this bill is known this year, was known last year as Bill 184, and it had another number the year before. A full year after the select committee report was tabled, having given the government one year to come forward with its position on those recommendations, I introduced my first version of this bill. A year later I introduced Bill 184, which we debated last fall. This year, unfortunately, I have found it necessary to reintroduce this bill yet again, because we still have not seen the comprehensive package from the government and from the Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod).
This bill is a bill that is designed to do what the government says it wants to do, to make Ontario Hydro more accountable, to open up Ontario Hydro processes to public review and to bring Hydro processes more closely under government control and regulation. This bill proposes to change the Ontario Energy Board Act to give the board the authority, first of all, to regulate Hydro’s rate-setting. Presently, each year the Ontario Energy Board reviews Hydro’s rate proposals for the coming year, and each year the Ontario Energy Board makes a series of recommendations to the government. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of the recommendations that the Ontario Energy Board makes are never complied with because they are simply recommendations; they do not have the authority to regulate.
Members of the House understand that Ontario Hydro’s rate structure is a rate structure that has been a matter of controversy in this province for some 20 or 25 years now. It is in fact a rate structure that imposes counterincentives to those that we profess should be in place. The rate structure of Ontario Hydro does not promote energy conservation in the province but in fact promotes energy waste. It forces those who use the least electricity to pay the highest rate and those who use the most electricity to pay the lowest rate.
This government has professed its desire to put in place programs to deal with the promotion of energy efficiency. One of the programs that could first and best be put into place is a serious alteration of the Ontario Hydro rate structure to promote energy efficiency in the province.
The bill goes on to suggest that it is time as well that we had review mechanisms in place in Ontario to look at matters other than just the rate structure, which the Ontario Energy Board now does, other matters being the relationship between demand and supply of electricity and the options around demand and supply questions.
Those are issues that deal with all the topics that have been current and controversial in the electrical energy sector, issues like energy conservation; energy efficiency; private parallel generation by small and medium generators across the province where that is economically viable and feasible; industrial cogeneration where industries are already consuming large amounts of very valuable and sometimes even polluting energy sources in their industrial process, but where there are all kinds of waste heat losses involved that could be used to generate steam and electricity with that steam.
There is the need to look at matters around Hydro’s short-term and long-term planning, around questions like whether or not the massive capital investments Ontario Hydro has been making over the last 20 years, and will soon be proposing to make over the next 20 years, in large capital-intensive structures like the Darlington nuclear plant are in fact the cheapest, the environmentally soundest, the most socially appropriate and most economically viable approaches to fulfilling our electrical energy needs in the province of Ontario in the near-term future.
During the course of the debate last year, there were two government members who spoke to Bill 184, which was the bill that parallels this one in its past life. I want to make a couple of comments quickly about changes I have made in this year’s bill, changes that do not change either the intent or the scope of the bill, but that will hopefully make this bill a little more understandable to some of the backbenchers on the government side of this House, since their comments last year seemed to indicate they did not understand what the scope or intent of the bill was.
Members will notice in section 1 of this year’s bill, Bill 59, a section that amends section 13 of the Ontario Energy Board Act. In subsections 13(7) and 13(8), I have changed the words. Subsection 7 now reads, “The board has the power to investigate electricity demand and supply options, short- and long-term planning criteria, avoided costs and the adequacy of supply from sources from outside Ontario.”
Those words have replaced some very legalistic words in last year’s version with words that, I guess, reflect the jargon in the energy sector in 1989. They do not change at all the reality of this bill or its scope, but perhaps hopefully members can better understand that this bill is a bill whose time has come. We are running out of time in terms of making the decisions around the mechanisms that the government says it wants to control Hydro.
I will have further comments during the rotation.
Mrs Cunningham: For the second time this morning, I find myself rising in support, in support of Bill 59 and the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Charlton). Off the top and looking at the history around the efforts of the member for Hamilton Mountain, I certainly congratulate him and recognize his perseverance and his commitment. I think this bill to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act is long overdue.
Looking over the statements that have been made by my colleagues, who are not able to be here this morning, the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz) and the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman), they would of course very strongly support Bill 59 if they were able to be here.
I can only say, in looking over the select committee’s recommendations in 1986, that they clearly supported recommendations the member has incorporated in his bill. I want to say that giving the energy board the power to set the rates would be an effective mechanism to establish public control over Ontario Hydro, as it would, and I will quote from the report, “establish control over Ontario Hydro’s costs, provide a check against the power of Ontario Hydro’s board of directors to establish capital budgets, and to co-ordinate the planning and decision-making linking the critical functions of planning and rate review.”
There is no question of what is needed with regard to Ontario Hydro. In the eyes of the public and the people who have spoken to us in our office in London North, and certainly in my colleague’s office, they have brought to our attention that they are very concerned about the very large bureaucracy and that the government seems to be having a very difficult time coming to grips with the operation of Ontario Hydro.
When we take a look at the issue of debt management, approximately 50 per cent of Ontario Hydro’s revenues are now going to service debt. It does not seem to be a problem as far as management is concerned, and that is of concern to us. It does not seem to be a problem in terms of the impact on the province’s credit rating, obviously, simply because they are guaranteed payment by the province, and that of course should be of great concern for the citizens of Ontario.
We are not going to take a long time speaking to this bill this morning because we have been on record so many times in supporting these amendments. I can only say that l think the changes the member made with regard to the wording in subsection 13(7) and subsection 13(8) make his former bill even more inclusive. When we take a look at the board having “the power to investigate electricity demand and supply options, short- and long-term planning criteria, avoided costs and the adequacy of supply from sources from outside Ontario,” we are taking a look at just what we think our responsibility should be in representing the public of Ontario and making that particular institution -- I will call it that -- more accountable to the public for what it does with our money.
We take a look at the investigations under subsection 7 and the idea or the responsibility, if this act should become law, that the investigation should be reported to the minister with recommendations. I think the member for Hamilton Mountain has strengthened the former bill which he presented in June 1987, Bill 101, and I think that section strengthens the intent of the member. We support it strongly.
Subsection 35(1) of the said act is being amended by “authorizing and requiring the board to fix rates pursuant to a public hearing held under section 37 and prescribing the conditions and circumstances when the board shall fix rates pursuant to a public hearing.” It is not only responsible but necessary.
In the view of our party, we think far too many investigations, far too many private consultant reports, far too many recommendations on rates have been provided at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario. Ontario Hydro has not taken the recommendations of those commissions, sometimes at tremendous expense, and of persons who have come to us and done the work and who are tremendously credible.
Certainly, we think this bill will make Ontario Hydro more accountable to the public and we think we can go back to the public we represent, given this kind of legislation, and say that we ourselves have taken the responsibility we should have taken very many years ago.
It is with commendation for the member for Hamilton Mountain for his perseverance and commitment that on behalf of the Conservatives I offer our remarks on this debate.
Mr Lipsett: It is a pleasure for me to take part in this debate during private members’ public business this morning. I would like to begin by thanking the member for Hamilton Mountain for the continuing interest he has shown in energy matters.
Ontario’s energy future is a matter of great public interest and we are considering all ideas that will help us to diversify our supplies of energy, increase our energy efficiency and our ability to conserve energy, and deal with the increased demand for electricity in today’s society. The Ontario Energy Board may well have a greater role to play in future in some of these areas. I would like to begin my remarks by reminding the members of this House of the present powers and duties of the OEB.
The board has jurisdiction in a number of areas. It has played a particularly high-profile role in dealing with questions about natural gas and has the power to review many energy-related questions. It also plays an advisory role that can be quite extensive on many matters relating to energy. For example, in 1988 the board conducted public hearings and reported to the government on the matter of natural gas supply to Ontario.
The Ontario Energy Board Act defines the composition and duties of the OEB and the procedures to be followed by it. The act also gives the board jurisdiction that includes fixing rates for the sale, distribution, transmission and storage of natural gas. The board also has authority to deal with underground storage of gas, with certain aspects of the costs of drilling for gas and oil and the benefits of gas and oil production. Those are the main areas in which the OEB has jurisdiction.
In its advisory role, the board provides advice on the boring, drilling or deepening of wells in natural gas storage areas. The OEB also has an advisory role to play in examining and reporting on Ontario Hydro matters that are referred to it by the Minister of Energy. Such matters include Ontario Hydro’s existing or proposed rates and principles for power costing, service reliability and system expansion. The OEB holds public hearings in conducting any such review. It is also of pertinent interest that the OEB examines and reports on any energy question the government may refer to it.
Over the past few years, there has been increasing interest in amending parts of the Ontario Energy Board Act. The developments that have encouraged the government to look at possible amendments to the act have included changes in utility ownership, the transition to a deregulated natural gas market and concern over Ontario Hydro’s responsiveness to public attitudes and priorities. In fact, in October 1986 the Minister of Energy introduced a bill to amend the act. That bill died when the Legislature was prorogued in 1987 and the ministry is now reviewing the entire act.
Currently, the OEB has a review and advisory role in the setting of Hydro’s wholesale rates. There are options for strengthening that role, some of them requiring amendments to both the Power Corporation Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act. I would like to remind the House that this government already is making changes to some legislation. The Power Corporation Act is being amended to give the government the power to obtain plans and reports from Ontario Hydro. This, together with the memorandum of understanding with Ontario Hydro, would enable the government to be apprised of Ontario Hydro’s activities in relation to system planning, operational plans and programs for meeting objectives of parallel generation and conservation.
The government has also made a commitment to have a public review of Ontario Hydro’s demand-supply plan. We hope the member for Hamilton Mountain will use that opportunity to present his views on the planning options.
Finally, the Ministry of Energy has established a policy for parallel generation of electricity. A key aspect of this has to do with Ontario Hydro’s avoided costs and the government is committed to a review of the criteria and methodology for determining these costs. Such a review will provide for input by interested parties and by the public at large.
Once again, I would like to thank the member for putting forward his ideas and point out that I would like to get as much public discussion and public comment as possible on all aspects of Ontario’s energy policy before we move forward with specific amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act. Let us first conduct an extensive review of the jurisdiction and advisory roles of the OEB and then develop a comprehensive plan that meets the needs of the future.
Therefore, I will not be supporting second reading of Bill 59 in the House today.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Further debate? The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Mrs Grier: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Let me congratulate you on the elevation you have achieved. I am sure it will be exercised impartially and with dignity.
Mr Pelissero: That’s right. He didn’t give Sam’s speech.
Mrs Grier: Oh, is that Sam’s speech?
An hon member: When you said “elevation,” were you talking about his feet?
Mrs Grier: No, I will leave the word “elevation” and let members interpret it as they will.
To the matter at hand, I was disappointed in the conclusion of the remarks by the member for Grey (Mr Lipsett) that he was not going to support this piece of legislation that is before us today, before us not for the first time. I take from his remarks that what we are faced with is another extensive period of review, examination and study before we have any prospects of getting to some action on amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act.
The member was of course correct in his enunciation of what the act does and the control that the Ontario Energy Board has over the natural gas sector of our energy supply system. I do not think he emphasized quite enough that while the board could have some power over Hydro, that is conditional upon matters being referred to it by the government. We have not seen any indication that the government is prepared to refer to the OEB matters of substance such as DSPS, which we have said some time ago ought to be reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board.
It is interesting that of course, while in opposition, the Liberal Party supported making Hydro accountable, supported bringing it before the Ontario Energy Board and indicated that bringing Hydro under control was going to be a first priority of that government. Now we find ourselves, almost five years later, still talking about more study and an in-depth review being needed before we can make any changes.
There has been study, in-depth review and legislative committees, all of which have said that the kinds of changes the member for Hamilton Mountain is proposing in his bill are long overdue and ought to be put in place. There has even been agreement by government members on those committees that those changes were needed, because the reports of the select committees have been unanimously agreed to.
In fact, when the second select committee under this government was reviewing Hydro’s DSPS, we asked for an update of progress on implementation of the recommendations of the previous select committee. It is interesting to find that in those recommendations concerning the Ontario Energy Board, the progress reports we got all said that the matters were being considered and that amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act were being planned. We have not yet seen those amendments.
One of those recommendations was that the Ontario Energy Board should be empowered to hold biannual public reviews of Ontario Hydro’s resource development plan and publish a public report with recommendations to cabinet. The select committee last year was told that this matter may be considered in the Ministry of Energy’s review of the Power Corporation Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act. We are still waiting.
Recommendation 17 of that original select committee said: “The Ontario Energy Board should conduct a public review of the results of Ontario Hydro’s demand and supply options study. This review should take place at least 60 days after a final report on the options and all supporting documents have been issued. Recommendations should be made to cabinet in a public report.” “Being reviewed” was the response that we got in 1989.
A further recommendation with respect to the Ontario Energy Board was that the Ontario Energy Board Act should be amended to give the board the powers to regulate electricity rates. The response we got last year was that the matter could be addressed in the Ministry of Energy’s review of the Ontario Energy Board Act.
So what we constantly get is delay, more study: “We’re looking at it, but the time for action is not yet.” Regrettably, what we also find is that we appear to be having the same kind of rotation of ministers of Energy under this government as we found of ministers of the Environment under the previous government. Every time a Minister of Energy comes up to speed and may perhaps begin to understand the very complex issues involved in power planning, there is a cabinet shuffle and a new Minister of Energy and the process has to start all over again.
The member for Grey has just mentioned the fact that the government is, as he puts it, “committed to a review” of the avoided costs, a very critical element in making decisions about the future role of Ontario Hydro, but the previous Minister of Energy promised last spring that that review would be done this fall.
There was no indication in the remarks we have heard today of what the criteria for that review will be, what the mechanism for that review will be, or when we can get on with that particular review. All of this leads me, as I say, to the conclusion that this government is very reluctant to come to grips with putting Ontario Hydro under control, with putting in place a publicly respected mechanism in which the public can have some confidence, where the affairs of Ontario Hydro will be subjected to cross-examination in a rigorous process that gives us all some sense that the recommendations are ones that are not done based on the data supplied by Ontario Hydro itself.
That has been one of the most difficult features of trying to come to grips with Ontario Hydro’s planning: All the data are controlled by Ontario Hydro. There is no independent agency that has the resources to adequately review the submissions that Ontario Hydro makes to the government. The Ministry of Energy acknowledges that it does not have that expertise. The Ontario Energy Board would be a very good repository of that kind of data, if it were only allowed by this government to get further into the business of reviewing Ontario Hydro, reviewing Ontario Hydro’s rates, reviewing Ontario Hydro’s planning and subjecting Ontario Hydro to very critical and independent evaluation.
That is what the piece of legislation before us today would enable the Ontario Energy Board to do. I think it is very appropriate that the member for Hamilton Mountain has updated this piece of legislation so that it says very specifically and very clearly what we want the board to do.
I hope that the attitude that is being displayed in this debate today, and the fact that there seems to be at this point no indication of a willingness to move forward in this very critical area of public policy, is an attitude that will quickly change and that we can at last do what the Liberal Party said so many times it wanted to do, if only it was given the power by the people of this province; that is, to bring Ontario Hydro under the firm control of the Legislature and of the government. That day is not as far ahead as it seems to be from the remarks of the member for Grey and the attitude of the current Minister of Energy.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I rise to lend my support to the bill presented by the member for Hamilton Mountain.
The purpose of the bill is to 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. I think we should all support that type of initiative, because for many years it has been quite apparent that there seems to be a very serious problem between the Ontario Energy Board and Ontario Hydro in resolving some of the outstanding issues, such as setting of rates, etc. I think the bill presented by the member will lend accountability and credibility to the process and help to ensure that the customers are better served by this very giant corporation. I think many members on all sides of this House have expressed concern for many years that Ontario Hydro was so large and extensive that it is extremely hard to control this giant corporation.
In conclusion, the Ontario Energy Board’s report on the proposed rate increase for 1989 stated that what is required is a firm and clear statement by the government of Ontario of its policy with respect to Hydro. I think that is one matter that could be cleared up and, as I mentioned earlier, made more accountable by the passage of Bill 59.
If the government is not prepared to accept Bill 59, then I submit that it should certainly look at accepting the principle of the bill and bringing in amendments of a similar nature that would achieve the same purpose. I am sure the member who has introduced this bill would be quite prepared to accept some suitable amendments, as he has been presenting a similar piece of legislation for the past several years and quite likely will have to continue to do so for the foreseeable future unless the government will change its mind.
At this time, Mr Speaker, I would just like to take a brief moment to congratulate you on your new office. I know you will perform it with the highest priority for the benefit of the members you serve so well.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate on the bill?
Mrs Sullivan: I welcome the intervention of the member for Hamilton Mountain and his proposals on the role of the Ontario Energy Board which he has put forward in Bill 59. Indeed, I am glad to see it in the Orders and Notices paper so early in the session.
The member has been a diligent and effective member of the select committee on energy. During my short time on that committee, I have noted his participation, and certainly before my period on that committee.
When I first began to attend meetings of the select committee, I discovered I had to learn a new language, a special shorthand and jargon that included peaks, which I discovered had nothing to do with mountains; load forecasts, which had nothing to do with trucking; end-use models, which had nothing to do with landfill sites; and cogeneration, which had nothing to do with family gatherings. The member was, of course, familiar with all of these issues, as well as the jargon, and he may have found it frustrating for the newer members such as myself, along with many others, to catch up. But indeed we did catch up and we came to our own individual assessments, if not conclusions, relatively quickly.
Last summer, the select committee reviewed the DSPS, the proposals for a demand/supply planning strategy for Ontario Hydro into the next century. The conclusions of the committee relating to that review have been placed before the House. Our emphases, I should underline, were on conservation and efficiency, environmental protection and keeping our supply options open. I certainly found that period of last summer to be an enervating time with the serious issues and choices and questions being clearly delineated.
Some of our discussions during that period included Hydro’s reporting-consultative roles and its accountability for its performance and its decisions. That really is the heart of this bill. I notice, and the member has indeed mentioned in his remarks, that this bill differs from his two earlier bills on the same general areas relating to the Ontario Energy Board. Frankly, I feel that the changes in Bill 59, as compared to those in Bill 101, are indeed significant.
Bill 101 suggests that the board should be able to investigate the capacity reserve margins and other liability criteria and the adequacy of supply from sources outside Ontario. The new bill would provide broader scope and more authority to the OEB in giving it “the power to investigate electricity demand and supply options, short- and long-term planning criteria, avoided costs and the adequacy of supply from sources outside Ontario.” I think there is a substantial difference, and the proposals really do require a major public debate that is not a matter of short-term debate, which has been suggested.
It strikes me that since last summer, when the committee was working diligently on the DSPS review, many changes have been made and will be soon made as a result of changes that have been put forward in Bill 204 since our deliberations of last year. Bill 204, which has just completed the committee stage, brings forward significant amendments to the Power Corporation Act and entrenches a memorandum of understanding between Ontario Hydro and the government. Those Power Corporation Act amendments will bring a refreshing change to Ontario Hydro/government relations, I believe.
No minister should again be able to complain that he has been mugged in the corridors of power, and I think that if a minister could make that complaint, then it is clearly the political will in this House to make future changes. I believe that the situation we have today, partly as a result of this government’s action, is a far cry from the days of Adam Beck, who I understand was quoted on his deathbed as saying: “I had hoped to live to forge a band of iron around Hydro to prevent its destruction by politicians. Watch what they do when I’m gone.”
I think we should look at some of the initiatives that this government has taken. I remind members about the Dr Kenneth Hare commission report reviewing the safety aspects of Ontario Hydro’s nuclear program. That was released publicly and Dr Hare appeared before our committee. Additionally, there has been a technical panel with independent expertise from Canada, the United States and France examining Canada’s Candu nuclear cost estimates, and that report was released publicly. A technical panel has scrutinized the demand/supply planning strategy, which has also been reviewed by an interministerial committee, and those reports as well were scrutinized by the select committee on energy.
The Ministry of Energy has introduced an advisory panel on parallel generation that is working away diligently. The Power Corporation Act amendments, which I have discussed, present a new government-Hydro relationship. We will all remember the introduction of the Energy Efficiency Act by the then Minister of Energy, the member for Fort York (Mr Wong). The regulations are now being drawn by people who know their fields, who know what is possible, what is achievable and what should be achievable.
The government has adopted a “conservation first” policy, and I want to remind the House that the member for Fort York, when he was Minister of Energy, was not prepared to accept Ontario Hydro energy efficiency and parallel generation targets. Hydro said that 5,500 megawatts was available. The member for Fort York said they could do better and they have been instructed to find more savings there.
We have a commitment that is public to review the avoided cost and buyback rates and we expect an announcement -- I certainly am expecting an announcement -- on the nature of that review very shortly. The Ontario Energy Board role is being reviewed now in a regulatory framework, and this government is prepared to adjust as necessary.
I think we are all aware of the need for public attitude changes regarding conservation of energy. We have seen public opinion surveys and I am pleased to see some initial steps by Ontario Hydro being taken in joint ventures, in energy audits and in advertising and promotion to ensure that the public is well aware of our conservation needs and targets. There has been much action in a relatively short period of time.
We know that Ontario Hydro’s preferred plan is due this fall. We will expect a thorough review of the technical, social and environmental aspects of that plan. That review will include a public review, a review by experts and a review in the Legislature. I am hoping it will include an additional review in the select committee,
We have seen changes in the words and the action of accountability. I believe that the bill of the member for Hamilton Mountain is a useful intervention. I think that we need more dialogue and consultation, particularly in relation to the preferred plans which are going to be before us this fall. I think the government has had a commitment to position Ontario Hydro to respond effectively to the current realities and to new and evolving government and legislative priorities. I think we have work to do as legislators and I am pleased to be able to do it in the context of the select committee.
Mr Charlton: It seems to me there is somewhat of an echo here in the House. It would appear that not only my own comments are probably an echo of things that have been said here in the past but that the response from the government is a very clear echo as well. I would like to pick up on the comments from the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan) and the member for Grey, and by way of perhaps using some quotes from the government members who spoke in last year’s debate, make the point of the extent of the echo that is happening here.
Let me start out by saying to the member for Halton Centre that this bill does not advocate a short-term review. The review has been under way for three and a half years now in terms of the government’s position on amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, or at least that is what we have been told by successive ministers of Energy in Ontario. According to the parliamentary assistant and the member for Halton Centre, that review is still ongoing, but we are running out of time.
We all know what the legislative process here in this chamber and the committees that are associated with this House are. The government has all the data and understanding of the situation that it needs. Either that is the case or they have not been straightforward with us in terms of the review that has been ongoing for the last three and a half years.
If it is passed today, this bill can be referred out to a committee. That committee has the authority to add the one dimension that supposedly has not happened yet in terms of the questions that are contained in this bill, and that is the whole public hearings process on the issue of regulation of Ontario Hydro and review of Ontario Hydro’s planning processes. The government has spent three and a half years looking at the question and obviously is having some difficulty deciding what decisions are the appropriate decisions. Perhaps a public hearing process can help them to reach those conclusions, allowing the public of Ontario to have its say.
Last year, during the course of the debate on Bill 184, the member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr South), who was then the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, spoke first on that bill, as did the member for Grey, the new parliamentary assistant, this morning. I would like to quote for a moment from his comments here so that, as I suggested, we can perhaps begin to understand the extent of the echo that is happening here.
“This government wants Hydro to go further than it has indicated. To support this bill now, though, would be to thwart the extensive, methodical process this government has set in place. We would like the Legislature to review the comprehensive package that we will be bringing forward in the very near future. The goal of this package is to enshrine structural changes in Hydro’s planning process and to make Hydro more receptive to government and to public concerns.”
That was a year ago. The former parliamentary assistant, the member for Frontenac-Addington, stood in his place in this House last year and said precisely what the parliamentary assistant is telling us again this year.
The changes that are required to create a regulatory and review process around the operations of Ontario Hydro will be of little value for the next 20 years if those changes are not in place before Hydro’s preferred plan for the next 20 years is approved. We are all aware that that plan will be tabled this fall.
The former minister, the minister who was there at the start of this discussion and process, promised that the review of the question of avoided cost, for example, would happen this fall. We are running out of time on that question as well. But the avoided cost question is a question which has to be dealt with, resolved and answered because that fact, that information, has to be part of any review of Hydro’s preferred plan if that review is going to mean anything.
The member for High Park-Swansea (Mr Fleet) was the second member to intervene on the government’s behalf in the debate on my bill last year and I would like to quote from his speech as well.
“There are a number of problems with the resolution, but one of the things I would like to touch upon is what is not dealt with. The government wants to encourage Hydro to act as a powerful force for the economic good of Ontario. One of the key government priorities has been to encourage the people of Ontario to use electricity far more efficiently and to conserve electric power.”
The member goes on to say, “As a result, Hydro set targets to conserve 35,000 megawatts of electric power by the turn of the century.”
I want to say that the member for High Park-Swansea was seriously in error when he provided that information to the House. If Ontario Hydro had committed itself to 35,000 megawatts of energy savings in Ontario, then every energy advocate in this province would be jumping and screaming with great joy. The reality is that he was out by nine times; in other words, the real reality is that Hydro has committed itself to 10 per cent of what he quoted to this House last year: 3,500 megawatts, not 35,000.
This bill is designed to put in place a review mechanism to deal with the very kinds of issues that were raised by the member for High Park-Swansea. As I have said, the time has come for us to proceed and not to stall any longer.
I believe I have two minutes to wrap up now, Mr Speaker?
The Speaker: Is that correct? Two minutes. Yes.
Mr Chariton: As I have said, the bill is a bill that deals with issues that have been outstanding for some three and a half years now. The bill deals with issues that are crucial to the decision-making that will go on over the next 18 to 24 months.
The government has had three and a half years to review these issues. If this bill were to pass second reading today, which I encourage all members to consider seriously, there is an opportunity in committee for full public hearings to deal with the questions around regulating and reviewing Hydro’s processes. There is an opportunity for the government to put its position that flows out of its internal review, a review which it will not tell anybody anything about; but as I have said, a review, though, which is extremely crucial to the decisions we will be making in Ontario over the next two years.
I implore members to seriously consider supporting this piece of legislation, if for no other purpose than to provide the catalyst to force the government to stop stalling and bring forward its proposals around reform of the review and regulatory process that Ontario Hydro is subjected to.
All of the rhetoric around energy efficiency, parallel generation, industrial cogeneration and the other things that the government claims to be committed to mean nothing without the mechanisms in place to ensure that the rhetoric in fact becomes reality in electrical energy issues in this province.
The Speaker: Mr Furlong has moved resolution 20.
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO ENERGY BOARD AMENDMENT ACT
The House divided on Mr Charlton’s motion for second reading of Bill 59, which was negatived on the following vote:
Allen, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cunningham, Grier, Johnson, J. M., Kormos, Philip, Pope, South, Sterling, Wildman.
Adams, Brown, Callahan, Cleary, Curling, Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Fawcett, Faubert, Ferraro, Furlong, Hošek, Kanter, Keyes, Lipsett, Mahoney, Mancini, Matrundola, Miclash, Neumann, Nicholas, Oddie Munro, Owen, Pelissero, Poole, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Sola, Tatham, Velshi.
Ayes 15; nays 32.
The House recessed at 1155.
The House resumed at 1330.
COMMERCIAL CONCENTRATION LEVY
Mr Philip: Members will recall how I pointed out in this House that as a result of the economic apartheid financial policies of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) of this province, residents and businesses of the greater Toronto area are being charged higher taxes than those in the rest of Ontario.
I have already pointed out that the commercial concentration levy has created real problems for the larger hotels in Etobicoke which are competing for convention business with other cities. Today, I will be tabling a petition signed by employees of these hotels.
I would like to point out, however, that the hotels are not the only businesses affected by this particular tax. Jet-A-Way Airport Parking in Rexdale will be required to pay an additional $775,000 a year in taxes as a result of the Liberal government’s singling out the Metropolitan Toronto area for additional tax burdens.
This business, established in 1985, employs 75 staff, with a payroll that exceeds $1 million. The owners claim that this commercial concentration tax levy will force them out of business. Mr Nixon, Mr Peterson, your actions are forcing the closure of viable businesses, resulting in a great loss to many families who work and live in Rexdale, as well as a loss to the clients who have enjoyed the service provided by this business. Once again, I urge you to reconsider your ill-thought-out policies.
The Speaker: Before I recognize the next member, I want to remind all members that when we refer to another member of the House, we refer to him not by surname but by riding or ministry.
Mr Philip: Mr Speaker, if he didn’t interrupt me so often, then I would remember who he was.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Burlington South.
Mr Jackson: I hold in my hands a Liberal government news release that was dated back on 14 May 1986, by the then Minister of Health. In it, we read the pre-election promises made by the member for Bruce (Mr Elston) in which he announced an expansion of 4,400 hospital beds.
These beds were to have been financed by an $850-million capital allocation to Ontario’s hospitals, an allocation billed then as the largest in the history of Ontario,
This government has decided to review whether or not it should go ahead with those beds as promised to the voters. We know from past experience that when this government says “review,” it really means “cancel.”
Three years ago, it was announced that 3,000 of the 4,400 beds were for chronic care patients. This included 90 chronic care beds for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington. It is now abundantly clear that the government intended all along to break this important election promise. Not only has this government not delivered on its promise for more beds, it is taking already existing beds away. According to recent Ontario Medical Association statistics, 700 beds have in fact been cut in the Toronto area alone, with a total of 2,000 beds that have been cut across Ontario,
The recent tragic event in Midland where a dying woman could not have her life saved only indicates that the situation has grown worse. The citizens of Burlington want to know: When are the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and her government going to exercise some decisive leadership and responsibility with respect to what is happening to our health care delivery system?
TEENS AGAINST CRACK AND COCAINE
Mrs LeBourdais: I rise today to inform the House of the activities of a group of young people from my riding of Etobicoke West who are taking an active role in the war against drugs. Teens Against Crack and Cocaine was founded last February by five teenagers in a Metropolitan Toronto Housing Corp community on Willowridge Road. These young people had become tired of having their home continually associated with the negative publicity generated by the area’s reputation for drug abuse and drug dealing.
In the eight months since the group’s inception, their membership has skyrocketed to in excess of 1,500 people. Just as astonishing is their success at raising funds. To date, this group has brought in donations that total in excess of $60,000. Success and dedication of this nature must be applauded, particularly when these efforts are directed at one of the most menacing problems in our society.
The group has taken a very realistic approach in its efforts. Instead of trying to eradicate the drug dealers from their community, a job they feel is best handled by law enforcement agencies, they have instead decided to use their organization to provide positive alternatives to young people. Included in these efforts will be the eventual establishment of a treatment facility and a series of drug education programs.
The group’s executive committee and its adult co-ordinator, Marvin Wolfe, are with us here today in the gallery. I would ask them to please rise so that they can be recognized by the House.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr Wildman: Some members will know that today a study has been made available to the Ministry of Natural Resources which was funded by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and carried out by Crandall A. Benson and Associates for the Teme-Augama Anishnabai.
This study on the forest stewardship plan in the Temagami area indicates that Ontario is at a crossroads with regard to the conservation and management of old-growth forests. The question is conservation and management, as opposed to continued exploitation. The study shows that the Ministry of Natural Resources has failed to manage white and red pine forests on a sustained-yield basis, that there has been insufficient regeneration of these forests. The planned harvest levels of white pine will lead to drastic reductions in the amount of white pine timber available in the future and the loss of the old-growth pine in general.
Harvesting on a sustained-yield basis is the only realistic production policy. It must involve a holistic approach, a forest stewardship plan, which takes into consideration the needs of wildlife, recreation, hunting, fishing and cottages, as well as timber demand.
This government must now make a commitment to a sustained yield, sustained employment and sustained stewardship of the forests in the Temagami area. The government must consider now, at last, a moratorium on further road construction and lobbying until it has assessed the findings of this study.
Mr McCague: I am sure the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) is aware of the problems Christie Park Nursing Home has been experiencing with one of its psychogeriatric patients. Her ministry has investigated the recent death of a resident of the nursing home, who died after she was beaten by a patient at the nursing home. Her ministry has determined that the nursing home handled this case properly.
The ministry decision was correct, because the reason for this tragic incident rests with the ministry. For several years now, the Ontario Nursing Home Association has been arguing that it cannot give its patients the proper programming because the resources its members need to provide protection for their patients are not forthcoming from the ministry. Nursing homes have not been given the resources to establish secure floors or rooms for psychogeriatric patients where they can be kept away from other patients. They have not been given the resources to provide one-to-one care for these patients. Psychogeriatric patients are being turned away from psychiatric hospitals and forced upon nursing homes that are being refused the resources to ensure that another incident like this one at Christie Park does not happen.
When is the government going to start providing nursing homes with the resources that are really necessary?
PETERBOROUGH THEATRE GUILD
Mr Adams: A quarter of a century ago, small theatre groups in the Peterborough area combined to form the Peterborough Theatre Guild. The new organization built a theatre in the burned-out shell of a church. Today, an audience of 236 can watch a performance in this beautiful theatre. The Guildhall can be used while adjacent rehearsal rooms and workshops are in full use. Sound and lighting facilities are of excellent quality.
The guild typically produces six or seven shows a season, including a children’s play and a musical. Over the years, it has featured a number of works by local authors, as well as scores of established shows. Peterborough Theatre Guild productions have won highest honours at regional, provincial and national festivals.
For many years, the guild has been effectively self-supporting. It has over 2,000 paid-up members.
To commemorate its 25th anniversary, the guild plans a full year of special activities, including Silver Sundays, an open house, special performances and a birthday party. In addition, a book written by Mabel Smith on the theatre guild is to be published. This will be an account of one of the most successful volunteer organizations in the province’s history. I recommend the volume and the guild to members of the House as outstanding examples of creativity in the communities of this province.
EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Morin-Strom: On numerous occasions, we have brought to the attention of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) the catastrophic situation facing our health care system because of cutbacks in funding, staffing and services. This is nowhere more apparent than in emergency health care services. The recent cases in Sault Ste Marie and Midland again show the failure of the system to respond immediately to medical emergencies, situations where time lost may well have meant the difference between life and death.
On 22 June, the Minister of Health proudly announced the province-wide program to enhance the quality of emergency health services in the province. The minister claimed, “Implementation of the guidelines will ensure that emergency care is available at all times and that emergency patients will get priority over elective cases.”
This did not happen when lack of staff and extreme demand prevented a London trauma team from responding to a Sault Ste Marie emergency last week. This was the first breakdown in a service that had been working very well for a number of years. The minister’s new integrated trauma program could not access the medical escort that was a critical issue in this case. Ministry officials claim that medical escort is not a part of their mandate, even though it is essential to transfers from northern Ontario.
A complete investigation is needed into the tragic death of John Jagger in Sault Ste Marie. The minister has failed us to this point.
Mr Harris: Yesterday, the government tabled Bill 60, which will implement the last component of its 1989 tax grab by hiking the personal income tax rate for the fourth time in five years and for the third time in less than two years.
This must be some sort of modern-day taxation record. Some suggest maybe the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) should be tested for steroids. The taxpayer, both literally and figuratively, has a very hard time keeping up with this government. It has hiked personal income tax by two percentage points in 1985, a double whammy in 1988, jumping the tax one point for last year, an additional point for this year and now, in 1989, another tax increase for next year. Of course, these are only a few of the some 30 tax levy increases this government has imposed on the people of Ontario since taking office in 1985.
That record makes tough talk of the Premier (Mr Peterson) on the federal goods and services tax ring rather hollow, given the performance of his own government. I would just as soon ask an Al Capone to lead the war on crime as to ask the Premier to lead the war on a tax revolt in this country.
The introduction of Bill 60 serves to remind us that this government is responsible for two of the largest tax grabs in Ontario’s history. The people of this province can only wish that they had a premier who was as quick to practise the principles of moderate and fair taxation which he is so eager to preach to the federal government.
LANDLORDS’ RESTRICTIONS ON PETS
Mr Faubert: Over the summer, many tenants in my riding have expressed to me their concerns about the effects of the district court case of Cassandra versus Ryll regarding pets in rental properties. It appears from this ruling that, rather than look to the behaviour of the pets in question, judges may only look primarily to the terms of the lease when deciding whether to issue a writ of possession.
Pets play an important role in the lives of many of us, and there are many people in our society who rely on their pets for companionship and comfort. Some pets provide safety and security for their owners and some are the only sole companionship for a person.
Clearly, amendments are required to the Landlord and Tenant Act regarding the so-called pet clause. A landlord should not be able to evict a tenant simply for owning a pet unless it can be proved that the pet infringed upon the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by the landlord or the tenant.
This government has demonstrated in the past, through such legislation as the Rental Housing Protection Act, that it is committed to ensuring that tenants are protected and their rights are maintained. I encourage the government to continue to demonstrate its commitment to tenants by amending the Landlord and Tenant Act to allow a tenant to have a pet despite any terms contained in his tenancy agreement, and I would urge all members of this House to support Bill 51, entitled An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act, tabled in this House by my colleague the member for St Andrew-St Patrick (Mr Kanter) on 20 July 1989.
ESCAPE OF INMATES
Mr McCague: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It came to our attention that there was a break from the Niagara Detention Centre this morning by three very dangerous people, one of whom was charged with attempted murder. I am wondering if the minister has any intention of making a statement today in order that the people of the Niagara area can rest comfortably over the weekend.
The Speaker: The member rose on a point of order. That is not a point of order. The member will have the opportunity, right away, as soon as I call for oral questions, to ask the minister that question.
Mr B. Rae: I was told that the Premier was going to be here today, but in the absence of the Premier --
Mr Haggerty: The Deputy Premier.
Mr B. Rae: No, I do not want to speak to the Deputy Premier (Mr R. F. Nixon). I can talk to him anytime. I want to ask some questions of the Minister of Labour.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr B. Rae: We have been told by the House leader that the minister is planning to introduce or begin to speak today about Bill 208, which the minister will know is legislation that we have been waiting for for many years in this House, dealing with workers’ health and safety.
The minister will be aware of the widespread public speculation, including many articles in the newspapers, statements that have been made by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) where he stated in the Toronto Star recently, “‘We had a breakdown in communication’ when cabinet approved the legislation,” and that in his view, “‘We have a window of opportunity with a new minister who can bring in a fresh, unbiased approach,’ since he is not the author of the legislation, Kwinter said.”
I want to ask the Minister of Labour, there are widespread rumours that the government is planning changes to this legislation involving the health and safety agency --
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: -- involving the right to refuse work. Can the minister tell us whether it is, in fact, true that the government is contemplating changes to this legislation?
Hon Mr Phillips: I will have a chance to go over it in some more considerable detail actually in a few hours, I expect, but I am very pleased to reassure the Leader of the Opposition, and all members, in fact, that we will be proceeding with Bill 208. We will do nothing that violates the principles of Bill 208. It will be the most progressive piece of health and safety legislation in this country.
Hon Mr Phillips: Perhaps I could follow up in my supplementary.
The Speaker: If there is a supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: I was interested in the minister’s answer. He obviously chose his words very carefully. I asked him whether the government was contemplating changes in particular sections of the bill relating to the right to refuse work and relating to the right to stop work.
Perhaps I can focus specifically on the question of stopping work, since this has been one of the critical questions that has been criticized so heavily by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Can the minister tell us, is the government going to be asking the committee to consider changes relating to those sections about the power of working people to be able, at long last, to stop work when their lives and their health and safety are in fact in danger? Yes or no?
Hon Mr Phillips: A very important element of the bill is to ensure that no one is forced to work in an unsafe environment. We are very much committed to that principle. One of the key concerns has been that particular issue.
We are not asking the committee to change that provision. We are not directing the committee to change that provision. We are, however, asking the committee to take a look at that, recognizing there still is a dispute among the parties about what is the best approach to do that. We are not directing the committee to change it; we are, however, or we will be shortly, asking the committee broadly and on a wide-scale basis to take a look at that issue and come forward with its best suggestion on how we achieve that.
But in answer directly to the question, no, we are not directing the committee to change that.
Mr B. Rae: We all know how this place works. The Liberal Party backed the insurance industry 100 per cent. When the insurance industry said “Jump,” the Liberal Party jumped. When the employers in this province said, “Jump on workers compensation,” the Liberal Party jumped. And it is now perfectly obvious that when the employer community objects to a bill protecting workers’ health and safety, the minister is going to be asking his members on that committee to jump, and everybody is going to be seeing how high. That is exactly what he is telling us today.
The Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr B. Rae: Is the minister aware that if the committee ends up making changes -- and it has a vast Liberal majority on it. Does the minister understand the impact that a Liberal retreat and a Liberal caving-in to the employers of this province is going to have on the industrial relations in the province of Ontario? Does he understand what he is doing?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think it is extremely important, on this particularly important matter, that no one prejudge it. We are committed to Bill 208, we are committed to proceeding with Bill 208 and we are not retreating on it. To prejudge it is a gross injustice. I suggest we all work through it carefully, ensure that we move forward with the bill and do not prejudge it. Believe me, the Leader of the Opposition will find in the end that this will be the most progressive piece of health and safety legislation in this country.
The Speaker: Order. New question. To which minister?
Mr B. Rae: To the Minister of Health. At the end of July the minister will have received a letter that was directed to the Premier (Mr Peterson) from a Romas Velyvis, who is someone who had a very severe heart condition and wrote the Premier, wrote me and wrote the leader of the Conservative Party about his health condition. He described his condition in the most direct of terms. He said: “The heart is pumping at 50 per cent capacity. The bottom portion of the heart is dead. I have breathing problems, frequent chest pains and I can barely walk 100 yards. I feel that I cannot survive that long wait.”
The minister wrote Mr Velyvis back, and Mr Velyvis’s widow received the minister’s letter five days after Mr Velyvis died of a heart attack. She wrote him a three-page, boilerplate, bureaucratic answer, which I am sure is the standard answer she gives to every one of these letters she receives.
Does the minister not understand that her failure to respond, the failure of the government to respond, to the needs of people on waiting lists in fact means that they are dying while they are on these waiting lists?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that we all want people to have access to the care they need when they need it. We rely on physicians and hospitals in this province to ensure that people, whether they are in emergency situations or categorized as needing urgent care, receive priority.
I would say to him that whether we are talking cancer care or, as we were yesterday, talking about an emergency situation with a woman attempting suicide, we must make sure that the information presented in this House is factual and accurate. And I would say to him that in fact services are available and in fact were made available.
I would say to him that I received a letter from the Toronto Hospital and I will quote to him because it is important that the information in this House be accurate:
“The Emergency Hot Line for use by physicians around Ontario ... staffed 24 hours was not used nor was the trauma team consulted ... but all have confirmed that the patient would have been accepted had they been contacted as part of the normal procedure that is in place for patient referrals.” Services were available in the province and physicians used their best judgement to determine who should have priority care.
Mr B. Rae: The minister has given me an answer which is the same answer that she gave to Mr Velyvis in the letter which his widow received five days after he died. In that letter she says: “I encourage you to discuss your needs with your physician. Cases which are determined by physicians to require urgent attention are given priority.”
What we have here is a situation where Mr Velyvis’s physicians are dealing with several urgent cases, not just one but with dozens of them, and the minister is saying, “They are the ones that have to decide whether we treat him or her or him, and it is the physician’s responsibility.” I say to the minister that she cannot deny the problem of a lack of resources. She cannot deny the problem of a lack of nursing staff. She cannot deny her responsibility to ensure that services are available which do not put physicians in this position and do not put patients --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: -- and their families in this most tragic of situations --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr B. Rae: What is the minister saying now? Speak directly to Mrs Velyvis, who was waiting for the minister’s letter, whose husband was waiting for her letter for six weeks, and who was waiting for seven weeks for an appointment to see a doctor. What does she say --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that anyone who has experienced a death in the family always receives my deepest sympathy. I would say to them that I understand, because I think all of us experience that and it is very difficult.
We get the very best advice from physicians and experts as to what our capacity should be in the province for the delivery of services. We appointed, as the member knows, a co-ordinator, we developed a provincial working group, and enormous resources have gone into the system to expand capacity right around the province. In the meantime, we are working with the physicians to ensure that standards and common definitions are developed to help physicians as they make those important decisions and to ensure that people have access to treatment on a priority basis and that those who are in emergency and urgent situations are treated first.
Mr B. Rae: How does the minister feel about the fact that since she has become the minister, waiting lists have gotten longer, not shorter? Whether you are waiting for radiation treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital, whether you are on a waiting list for serious cardiac surgery, the hard fact of the matter is that since her party has taken power and since she has become Minister of Health, people have had to wait longer and their care has suffered as a result. What is she going to say directly, not just to Mrs Velyvis but to the thousands of other people whose length of time on waiting lists has grown longer under her ministry, has grown longer under her administration? What does she say to those people?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, waiting times vary across the province depending upon whom you choose to have as your physician and which hospital you choose to go to. People must know they have those choices and can ask for referrals to a centre where there is a shorter waiting time. One of the things we know is that we all want people to have access to the services they need when they need them, and we rely on physicians to use their very best judgement to ensure those people who require care urgently receive priority.
I received this letter from the Toronto Hospital today and they said, “It is the policy of the Toronto Hospital that no patient urgently requiring the services that are available within the two divisions should be denied care.” I have contacted every hospital that was involved in the situation we heard about yesterday, so that they could provide accurate information on what accurately occurred and outline their policy, that says that people requiring urgent admission -- but it is very important that we have accurate information available so that people will understand that the services are available in this province.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Sarnia is waiting patiently to ask his question.
Mr Brandt: Mr Speaker, I am waiting patiently. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to raise a question with the Premier. It is in regard to the situation that was debated and discussed in this House yesterday. The Premier indicated, following question period, I believe, in response to media questions, that if the facts were essentially accurate something was deeply amiss within the system to allow Mrs Lacroix from Midland to die under the circumstances that unfolded, and the details, I am sure, are well known to the Premier, and the circumstances surrounding this particular case.
The Premier indicated that he was deeply concerned about this and that the contacting of some 15 hospitals in total was almost unbelievable, and the circumstances surrounding this case were very difficult for him to accept. Is the Premier satisfied now that this system that he has in place responded adequately to the needs of this particular patient?
Hon Mr Peterson: As I understand what the Minister of Health has just said, there is a system in place but the system was not used; that there were critical care beds available in the city to look after this kind of situation. It was there, but for some reason the people involved did not avail themselves of that service. We are assured that there were critical care beds in Toronto that were available.
So the question is: Why was that system which is in place and, to the best of my knowledge, functions well most of the time, not used? I understand that the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) has ordered a coroner’s inquest today and it will get at all of the facts in this matter. But I want to assure my honourable friend -- and I understand the discussion that went on in this House, a lot of charges and countercharges, but the system is there. The beds were available. I cannot stand here and give my absolute guarantee 100 per cent of the time that everything is perfect, but the system was there. The question is, why was it not used?
Mr Brandt: The fact of the matter is that the attending physician made it quite clear that the system failed his patient under the circumstances that developed in this particular case.
Let me remind the Premier that prior to the 1987 election, in the year 1986, the former Minister of Health announced a major capital commitment in terms of additional hospital beds, in the number of 4,400 new beds that were going to be constructed in this province at a cost of some $850 million. I ask the Premier: In light of the fact that there were these numbers of additional beds that were going to come into the system, and this capital commitment was made very specifically by his government, does he think it is right and proper and in fact just that during that same time frame not only has he not added new beds to the system but he has taken the total number of hospital beds available in Ontario from 51,000 to today, the reason that there are no beds available in many circumstances and the frustration being indicated by --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Brandt: -- over 50 per cent of physicians in a recent survey, where they have indicated it is becoming more difficult --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr Brandt: I am coming to my question.
The Speaker: I hope you are.
Mr Brandt: Does the Premier think that is right, that he has reduced when he said he would increase?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend is building his attack on faulty premises. Let me say to my honourable friend that he is standing and saying in the House that there were not beds available yesterday. The Minister of Health has told the member there were beds available. Now the member may want to shift the course of his attack. I was here and I listened to some of the extreme statements of yesterday. That is one of the joys, I guess, of being in opposition: the members can make these charges even if they are not correct.
The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) tells me that the $850 million has been spent and even more than that, $1 billion, on hospital capital. So I can tell my honourable friend that there were beds available. Obviously we are sensitive to the capital needs of the province and will continue to build.
Mr Brandt: The Premier indicates that it is very easy to be in opposition and throw out unfounded charges. I would like to bring to the attention of the Premier a full-page ad that appeared in the Haliburton County Echo newspaper, where it says -- and I will only read part of the ad in the interests of saving time for the House: “Whereas our local MPP, Mr John Eakins, has advised the Hon Elinor Caplan, Minister of Health, that the government of Ontario has `welched’ on a commitment to the people of Haliburton county; now therefore be it resolved....”
This is directly related to a commitment for hospital beds that the Premier made in 1986, and I can tell him this story is repeated in literally dozens of communities right across this province where they have raised the money locally, they have followed the commitment the Premier made with respect to the beds the Premier was going to construct, and now people, including members of the Premier’s own government, are saying, “Where is the money and where are the beds?”
I say to the Premier that he has failed in his commitment and how does he justify that to the people of Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: Mr Speaker, I just wish to advise you that I made a mistake. The Solicitor General did not call the coroner’s inquest, the chief coroner called that today. So I apologize for that mistake.
I tell my honourable friend again that the financial commitment has been made, the program is commencing. It is never as fast as anyone would like, but we intend to keep all of the commitments.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Health. I would like to relate to her an incident which occurred to a Burlington resident and her family this last summer. Joan Thole was receiving cancer treatments at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. During one of her treatments emergency surgery was undertaken to deal with complications which had arisen. On Wednesday 19 July doctors deemed her condition appropriate for her to be transferred back to Ontario and released her to be transferred to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.
Her Burlington doctor and her husband phoned that hospital but were informed that there were no beds and no room available for her, that the best that they could offer her was a gurney in the emergency department hallway for two days.
My question to the minister is: How can she continue to say, as she did yesterday in this House, that she is “doing everything ... within the province to see to it that people have access to the services they need and when they need them”? I quote from Hansard yesterday.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think what I have said very clearly, and I think we all agree, is that emergencies must receive priority within our system. Whenever I hear situations such as this I am always concerned, and I want to follow up on the details of the case. If the member will send me over the specifics, I will ask the hospital, which has responsibility for the actions of its staff, to let me know exactly what happened in this case and I will report to the member.
Mr Jackson: Joan Thole died eight days later. She died alone, without her family and her friends, in another country. Her family experienced great difficulties getting to the United States to visit her and many were denied their last opportunity to see her.
So I want to ask the Minister on behalf of the Thole family, they want to know from her how she can continue to say that she is delivering a health care system that is providing quality health care as close to home as possible. How can she continue to state that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: My priority is always to see that people get the care they need when they need that care and as close to home as possible, but the priority is to see that they get the care they need. When I hear these kinds of situations I am always prepared to investigate and determine if the hospital was as sensitive as it could be in responding to a terminally ill patient. I certainly understand the family’s plight and I give them my sympathy.
Mr Jackson: The minister’s concern is of little comfort to Mrs Thole at this point in time. They went through untold-of complications; it took them three days just to get through all the necessary red tape to bring the body back to Ontario. It reads like a horror story. So it is not the minister’s concern that can help this family now. What she can do now for families who will continue to experience this kind of problem, this tragedy which has affected this family -- will she not now at least acknowledge that by honouring her election promise of providing the necessary beds, in effect honouring her promise to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, that tragic incidents like this, that are becoming all too frequent, can be eliminated and we will have a health care system that does in fact meet our citizens’ needs close to home?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I do not think there is anyone in the House who understands any more than I do how difficult it is for a family to cope and to deal with terminally ill patients. I think we have all experienced that kind of difficulty within our family and our close friends, and we know how difficult that is. We also know that not only technologies but the way of delivering services have changed and have changed dramatically.
So we are focusing on people, the services they need and how we can provide those services in alternative locations, because people are saying to me, particularly families experiencing that kind of situation with a terminally ill patient, many are saying, “With home support and with alternatives in the community, we would like to have the alternative of not having to go into an institution only.” So when I say that beds are not the benchmark for service, it also means that we must focus on people, the services they need, and what new technologies and therapies are allowing us to do in the provision of those services.
ST LAWRENCE SQUARE/ATARATIRI
Mr Harris: I would like to welcome the Minister of Housing to his new portfolio by asking about a stalled housing project in Toronto. The minister will know that the massive 7,000-unit St Lawrence Square project was announced with great fanfare some 14 months ago. At that time, the ministry said that the first units could be ready for occupancy as early as 1990. I think a number of us pointed out that that was unrealistic, that the government had failed to plan for land acquisition, infrastructure, environmental consideration. The costs were unrealistic. However, that was the big fanfare announcement, and obviously this date is no longer realistic or achievable.
I would like to ask the minister this, though. Even though the province is committed to finance this project -- $215 million I believe is the figure as of last May from the former minister. Metro council has now designated 2,500 of these units, of the total of 7,000, to be ready in 1996, fully six years behind schedule, as part of its Olympic bid. I would like to ask the minister, does he agree with Metro’s proposal that if he were to finance this project, 2,500 of those units should be delayed until 1996, and what about the rest of the 4,500 units?
Hon Mr Sweeney: With respect to the affordable housing component of the St Lawrence project, I would like to see them on stream as quickly as possible, as I am sure my honourable friend would. He may or may not be aware of the fact that two elements are holding up the project right at the present time. The first is the ongoing land sale negotiations with CN and CP Rail. The member may be aware of the fact that a number of other pieces of land have been expropriated by the city, but the city does not have the capacity -- and to the best of my knowledge the province does not either -- to expropriate railway lands. The city has made a determination that it does not want to go ahead until it has the total land assembly. I have been in touch with the mayor’s office and have indicated that we would be prepared to assist with these negotiations, but I am sorry I cannot give him any guarantee as to how long it is going to take.
The other element, as I am sure my honourable friend does know, is that there are some contaminated sections of land down there. We are working very closely with our colleagues in the Ministry of the Environment to be sure that the contamination is completely cleared up before anything proceeds and, if there are certain pieces of land which even after the cleanup would not be appropriate for residential development, deciding that they should be allocated for maybe some small commercial development instead.
Those two things are holding them up, but I was unaware of the 1996 figure, to be quite frank with the member.
Mr Harris: I assume the minister is saying the announcement when it was made was premature and was really not very well thought out, and I agree. The minister is quoted as saying, “My mandate is to get affordable housing on stream faster, but if you hold on to the land for three or four years it gets more expensive.” That is the minister’s quote; I agree. I am glad that the minister at least understands that part of the problem.
Now apparently the city of Toronto proposes to build 2,500 units and have them ready by 1996 -- six years behind schedule -- not to house the people of Toronto but as designated units of its 1996 Olympic bid to house the media. We all support the Olympics, and gosh knows I adore the media, but I want to ask the minister, are we serious about this project? Are we going to wait six years for Olympic leftovers before this announcement of 14 months ago and this project goes for low-cost housing for the people of Toronto?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Subsequent events have in fact demonstrated that the 1990 date does not appear to be realistic. I would point out to the honourable member that I will do everything in my capacity, and I understand from our discussions with the mayor’s office in Toronto -- who, by the way, I am sure my honourable friend knows are the ones who are essentially responsible for the project. We are assisting, we are providing all the support we can, but it is a city of Toronto project, and we have not involved ourselves in some of the more detailed decisions.
I will do everything I can, and I am sure the city will, to move ahead more quickly. What I am not sure of, given the information that the honourable member has, is whether or not the 2,600 units he is referring to are deemed even by the city to be the first units on the site or a particular block of units for that particular purpose. I do not know that.
I do not see any good reason, quite frankly, why it should take as long as has been suggested to get the first units on the sites. There are a few things that have to be done, but it should not take that long.
Mr Kormos: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. The new Liberal auto insurance scheme, the one the insurance companies asked for and the one they got, will guarantee that the vast majority of innocent injured persons, probably 90 to 95 per cent of the innocent injured victims in automobile accidents in the province -- victims of negligent drivers, careless drivers and drunk drivers -- do not get one cent of compensation for their pain and suffering or for their loss of enjoyment of life. The minister’s government wants to take away their right to be compensated. How is that fair?
Hon Mr Elston: The fairness in the system is obviously in relation to the quickness of response of the service by the industry affected by a vigilant commissioner making sure that the lost income is replaced quickly, making sure that supplementary medical and rehabilitation services are available quickly, making sure that long-term care services are available and making sure that there is a system in which the seriously injured person can proceed to deal with the tort issue.
Those are all fair parts of the system. The other parts which the member has not mentioned yet in terms of fairness are the ones that are being put in place to ensure that there is a reduction in accidents, a reduction in injuries, stepped-up surveillance with respect to the wearing of seatbelts and a series of other things which we believe, and in fact have been suggested by others in front of various other boards, should be done to deliver a reduction in accidents and therefore prevent loss from happening in the first place.
Mr Kormos: The government’s own Ontario Automobile Insurance Board told us that jurisdictions that implement this type of system suffer an increase in accidents.
But I run this past the minister: A 12-year-old student is injured when he is a passenger in a motor vehicle. A drunk driver crosses the median and hits that car. This young student suffers a broken back, is hospitalized, in traction four months, at home recovering for a year, unable to complete his schooling in that year and in addition loses another year.
The minister knows that currently that young person would get damages for his pain and suffering -- significant, albeit not permanent -- in the range of perhaps $25,000. He would be awarded compensation for the two-year delay of his entry into the workforce -- the two years of school that he lost as a 12-year-old -- perhaps to the tune of $40,000. You are talking about compensation in the amount of $65,000.
The Speaker: You have a question?
Mr Kormos: Under the minister’s scheme he would be entitled to zero, zip, not a cent. How is that fair -- an innocent victim of a drunk driver suffering and not entitled to a cent?
The Speaker: That is a good question: “How is that fair?”
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman has indicated that this person would not receive one cent, but in the circumstances which he outlined he would know that the supplementary support mechanisms would be in place to allow that person to have the rehabilitative services and the long-term care that would be required to ensure that he came back into the mainstream as quickly as possible.
The honourable gentleman knows that one of the reasons for lump sum payments is to allow people to adjust and to be accommodated to the condition in which they find themselves. The new no-fault system would of course provide that person with a quick response to those particular needs.
In addition to that, what the gentleman is trying to suggest to the public by the manner in which he asks the question is that there is no penalty inflicted upon the drunk driver. In fact, there is an increased penalty on that drunk driver. In fact, there is a requirement that a drunk driver, if he is so found and convicted, will be without a driver’s licence until he completes a rehabilitative course that would allow him to qualify for driving. In addition to that, there would be an increase in the premiums paid by that person.
I say to my friend, do not try to make it out as though there is no penalty on the impaired driver, because that is not the case.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee was established in 1987 to investigate cost-sharing arrangements for the delivery of social service programs. It is now two years later and the report has yet to be released.
Municipalities are planning their 1990 budgets now, and they need to know details about how social service programs will be cost-shared now and in the future. The municipalities were really counting on the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee’s report to assist them in implementing the recommendations of the Social Assistance Review Committee. When can we expect to see this report, and when will the government respond to it?
Hon Mr Beer: In early September and late August I did meet briefly with the members of the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee. They were in the final stages of getting the report prepared. I trust that I will have it before too long, and as soon as I do it will be made available. I believe the exercise has been an extremely useful one. I know we view the work of that committee as being critical in developing a good, solid ongoing relationship with the municipalities in terms of the delivery of a number of programs in our area.
Mrs Cunningham: The minister must be aware that the municipalities are becoming increasingly frustrated at the possibility of having the sole responsibility for the implementation of SARC. Many of us are looking at headlines stating, “Municipalities Fear Costs of SARC Implementation.” There should not be any fear out there if we are communicating well. We are all in favour of SARC; however, we are also in favour of good planning, especially the municipalities. For many municipalities the possibility of assuming the role the government has envisioned for them depends upon appropriate cost-sharing arrangements, and that is what that committee was all about.
While we wait for the report to be released and shared with the rest of us, what is the minister doing to ensure that municipalities have nothing to fear with respect to the costs of implementing SARC?
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member may be aware, there has been a great deal of consultation and discussion with municipalities with respect to many aspects of social assistance review process, and indeed many of the issues that are being dealt with by the provincial-municipal team have been discussed on the municipal side with people in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and there have been discussions among municipal officials. I think a lot of the thoughts and ideas that have come out of that exchange are ones that are going to guide us in the determination of our policies once the report comes out.
I do not believe that there is anything to fear. In fact, I think my understanding of the process so far, of the direction that I think many would like to see us and the municipalities go, is one that is going to build a very supportive and co-operative relationship, and I think we will see that in the months ahead.
Mr Curling: The Attorney General in his wisdom recently decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal which agreed with an earlier court ruling that the province had been negligent in anticipating the radioactive problem should the land be developed for housing. For the benefit of the people affected by this decision, could the Attorney General advise us exactly what the ruling entails?
Hon Mr Scott: I thank the honourable member for the question.
Mr Sterling: Why didn’t you appeal? Because you didn’t want to be a two-time loser?
Mrs Grier: Admit that you were wrong and that he was wrong too when he was in cabinet.
Hon Mr Scott: Are we finished?
The Speaker: Does the Attorney General have a response?
Hon Mr Scott: Yes, I do. The trial judge in this case decided that the government was negligent in 1980 when it failed to take certain steps, for which my friends can answer better than I can because I was not even around here then. We appealed to the Court of Appeal because while we were prepared to recognize that a lot had failed to be done by the previous government, we thought a modest injustice had been done to them.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial judge had not put the question on the right footing and that in fact there was no negligence on the part of the government. What the government had failed to do was to apply the provisions of a statute, and it is on that basis that we concluded that the Court of Appeal decision had said that the government was not negligent. It had, however, failed to apply a statute. We concluded that it was not in the public interest to appeal that further, and I am delighted to be able to tell my friend, who is very concerned about this issue, that the plaintiffs in this case will be paid as soon as that can be arranged.
Mr Curling: In 1985, I recall, I successfully negotiated with the government to purchase at market value a number of the homes on McClure Crescent and to cover any reasonable relocation costs incurred by the owners. Could the Attorney General tell me if the government still stands by those commitments?
Hon Mr Scott: As I understand the matter, all reasonable requests will be considered by the government. The honourable member will want to remind his constituents as they look at this very difficult situation that though they were stonewalled for almost a decade by the government of the day, it is this government that decided to purchase those homes and to respond affirmatively to the judgement. I am quite proud of that, and I am sure the honourable member is as well.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Premier. The Ministry of Natural Resources is being provided with a professional scientific study carried out by Crandall A. Benson and Associates for the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, a study which was funded by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and which is very critical of MNR for poor management, particularly as it relates to the ministry’s failure to successfully regenerate white’ and red pine stands in the area of Lake Temagami. In view of that, is the Premier now prepared to order a moratorium on road construction and logging in the area until the findings of this study are properly analysed and assessed by the Ministry of Natural Resources?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think my honourable friend knows the history of this particular matter. There has been a great deal of discussion about it, it has been litigated from a number of points of view and there have been discussions with the band. As the member knows, there is the issue of the land claim as well that has been litigated. I think he will find that everything the government has done over a long period of time has been with the approbation of the courts in support of the law, unlike some others.
Now just let me say to my honourable friend, the road is in the process of being built, as he knows, but what we are determined to do is to make sure that cutting takes place in the most sensitive way as possible. The Temagami Wilderness Society has been invited to participate in the management of that area. It has been said before that there will be no clear-cutting of any of the sensitive areas. I think my honourable friend understands that. Indeed, there will be a conference on old growth, I think cosponsored by the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the government, some time in January. All of these modern techniques and views will be part of the management of that particular area.
I say to my honourable friend, I am not familiar with the particular study to which he refers. I have not read it myself. I am sure the minister has, but I can assure my honourable friend that everything will be done in the most sensitive way possible -- very sensitive to the environment as well as to the local residents.
Mr Wildman: It is interesting how the Premier can claim to be sensitive when this study, on page 40, points to 42 years of recognized poor forest management and to three ministry studies which indicate that and then says, “At the management unit level, even an astute and knowledgeable forester is stymied in practising sustained forest management by the policies of the OMNR, or lack of them.”
In view of that kind of statement and evidence further on in the study that the ministry has been successful in regenerating only three per cent of the cutover white pine and only 13 per cent of the cutover red pine in the area, how can the Premier justify proceeding with the road development before the ministry has even analysed this study, which has just come out?
If the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines was prepared to fund this study and used consultants who have been used in the past by the Ministry of Natural Resources, surely it is incumbent upon this government to stop the road building and any logging in the area until it has analysed this study and determined how it is going to proceed on a sustained yield basis.
The Speaker: Thank you. There are a couple of questions there.
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend has presumably analysed the study and drawn his own conclusions on the basis of that, and he is entitled to do that. He talks about 42 years of mismanagement, and I could not be more at one with my friend opposite because we are constantly in the process of trying to clean up 42 years of mismanagement. It is not always easy. My honourable friend the Attorney General (Mr Scott) was talking about this; so are we,
I am not here to defend what some of my friends opposite in the third party would like to defend about forestry management. That is not the issue. The issue is, how we do this for the future in a sustainable, sensitive and ongoing way to balance the variety of interests that are competing in that particular area. I think my honourable friend will find that MNR will do that in these circumstances. Indeed, we have invited participation from the residents. We have invited participation from the Temagami Wilderness Society and others to assist in this model management area.
I really think if my honourable friend got off his ideology on this matter, or his polemics on it, he would find --
Mr Wildman: I am just quoting this study. You funded it.
Hon Mr Peterson: This will be taken into account during the management of this whole matter as will any other good ideas he has to bring to bear on the situation.
ESCAPE OF INMATES
Mr McCague: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. Having given him three quarters of an hour’s notice of something that I might want to ask about, I am sure he will have the answer. Can he give us a report on the breakout from the Niagara Detention Centre this morning of three persons, one of whom is reported to be charged with attempted murder?
Hon Mr Patten: I would like to thank the member for Simcoe West for the opportunity to report to the House. Indeed, we received a report this morning that three inmates in fact did escape from the Niagara Detention Centre at 6:25 am. The Niagara Regional Police were immediately alerted. They are at the moment engaged in a search in the area. We have ministry investigators who are investigating how this incident could have occurred in the first place. I cannot comment on that aspect until I have the report. Of course, I hope they will be apprehended at the earliest possible moment. The member can be assured that at this point the police force is on the trail of these three inmates. If I get a report before the House recesses today, then I will be happy to pass along that information.
Mr McCague: It is rather ironic that we had correctional officers in the gallery this week who were here to bring to the minister’s attention the fact that most detention centres or jails are understaffed. Does this mean that the minister will be staffing the detention centres in Ontario appropriately?
Hon Mr Patten: In this case at the Niagara Detention Centre, the capacity in fact is 183 beds and at the moment, as of this morning, the use of those beds was 162, so it is below capacity.
I take the member’s question very seriously. We do have some pressures on remands in the province, as I tried to state earlier this week. The local police have been particularly vigilant in the Toronto watershed area. We have increased apprehensions by the police because of vigilance of the police around drugs, around family violence and things of that nature, and that adds to the capacity. I want to assure the members that we have a system around the province that does not have the same kind of pressure. Because we have capacity in other areas, the rest of the system tries to play its role in responding to the pressure we have in the immediate area.
Mrs LeBourdais: My question is to the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy. As a method of offering some guidance to the Teens Against Crack and Cocaine group that is with us here today, I wonder if the minister could advise the House if he has discovered any recurring elements or patterns of success among the numerous local anti-drug campaigns he has come into contact with in the travels he undertook to produce the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario report.
Hon Mr Black: I want to acknowledge the very significant contributions being made by the member for Etobicoke West towards fighting the problems of illegal drug use in Ontario. I also want to take this opportunity to commend the young people from her riding who have taken some initiatives to introduce programs in their community that will be helpful.
There are many communities in this province that are developing community action groups. They are different in the size and scope of what they attempt to do. There are perhaps two characteristics of the successful ones that stand out.
The first is that the very successful community action groups are broadly based. They bring together representatives of a variety of communities who can work together to find solutions that are appropriate to that community. The second significant characteristic, I think, is that they utilize the agencies and services that are available in their community, so that we have in those very successful programs the opportunity for existing agencies to be accessed.
Mrs LeBourdals: Alcohol and tobacco are the gateway drugs that frequently lead to illicit drug use and subsequently to a great deal of destruction in our society. Given this and in light of recent reports indicating that illicit drug use is on the decline, I would like to ask if any consideration will be given by the province to applying a greater emphasis on controlling the abuse of both alcohol and tobacco?
Hon Mr Black: I should first of all comment that the reduction in drug use that was reported by the Addiction Research Foundation last week is actually a reduction among school children. The facts are that over the last several years there has been a significant decline in the number of school-age children who are using drugs. Unfortunately, that decline is not evident in all parts of our society.
The member raises the question related to alcohol and tobacco and I want to say to her that this government has been promoting programs for the past several years that are working, and I think working effectively, in the areas of health promotion and in attempts to reduce the use of alcohol and tobacco among teenagers and among young people and also to encourage responsible use of alcohol. Those programs are in place through the Ministry of Health and through the Ministry of the Attorney General. We will be continuing our efforts to try to support those programs and devise new programs that will strengthen them.
CONNAUGHT LABORATORIES LTD
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Premier with regard to Connaught Laboratories. Connaught Laboratories was identified in the Premier’s Council studies as one of the priority industries in Ontario. Biotechnology is supposed to be one of the industries of the future. We know now that one of the largest takeovers in the history of this province is currently well under way, and to everyone’s knowledge very little has been done by the province of Ontario. Can the Premier tell us specifically what he is doing to ensure that Connaught Laboratories remains a Canadian firm and that we will have that critical research and development for the future of Ontario right here in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend is wrong, but let me respond to his question because I do take it very seriously. I wish the minister were here because he could give the member more detail on the great number of meetings that have gone on between him and the various aspirants, shall we say, who have their eyes on that particular company.
Let me just say at the beginning that we are very concerned as a province that this would pass out of Canadian hands. It is not something we want to see. We are against it. As the member knows, a company largely owned by the French government, Institut Mérieux, has made a bid or it had a proposal for some kind of joint venture, which was not really control situation: 51-49. Then Ciba-Geigy came in with a bid and a local group has been trying to put together a bid as well.
All of those have been investigated from our point of view. We do not have any ultimate control in this takeover, as my honourable friend knows. It has to go to Investment Canada and we have expressed our views to them that it is not in the national interest. This is a unique company. It is a technology we think it is important to have here. We hope this company will not be sold.
I ask myself this question: What would happen if Connaught were taking over Institut Mérieux? What would be the reaction of the French government? I think the member and I can both predict that. I wish the minister were here so he could give the member much more chapter and verse on this than I can. We do view this with great alarm and I can tell the member that the minister has been on top of the situation.
We are talking dollars in the magnitude of $700 million, $800 million or $900 million; in that range. It is not practical for the government to take over the company, as my honourable friend knows. We do not have the legislation and we do not have the power to prevent it from taking place. That being said, we are deeply concerned --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Morin-Strom: The value of this takeover obviously indicates the critical importance of an industry such as this to the future of Ontario. The University of Toronto is currently in the courts seeking an injunction to block this sale. Why is it that an institution such as the University of Toronto, which is in fact strapped for funds itself in terms of being able to pursue research and development internally, has to go to the courts to try to stop this sale? Why has the province of Ontario not intervened on behalf of the University of Toronto and on behalf of the people of Ontario to ensure that this sale does not go ahead, both with respect to court actions and with respect to the Premier’s involvement with the federal government? Could he not have done something to stop this?
Hon Mr Peterson: The quick answer to the question is no. We do not have the power to do that.
The reason the University of Toronto is there is because it has a restrictive covenant on the sale of ownership, on a transfer of ownership into foreign hands, because of a residual clause when it originally had a piece of Connaught Laboratories prior to its sale to Canada Development Corp and the present consortium of ownership. That is the reason why, and it is probably the only legal hook that either the province or one of its agencies -- in this case, let me just say for the sake of argument that the University of Toronto is an agency of the province -- has in order to hold that up. That is the only legal recourse that exists at the present time and that is being exercised.
Now, there is some question over the viability of that particular legal clause and I am not in a position to pronounce judgement on that, but I can tell my honourable friend that there have been expressions of interest by a few other companies. The minister has worked with all those groups to try to put together a viable Canadian bid. At the moment, I am not sure that exists, but hope has not been given up.
Mr Brandt: A question to the Premier. The Premier’s government is putting forward the position that automobile insurance rates can be reduced if you reduce accidents. I do not disagree with that position, other than to say that it is going to be very difficult to reduce accidents in this province with the unsafe roads and inadequate driving conditions that exist in many parts of the province. One such stretch of road is the area between Pembroke and Ottawa where the traffic volume has increased very substantially over the years. The mayor of Pembroke has identified that road, using his words, as “the worst highway in all of Canada.” What does his government intend to do about the stretch of road between Ottawa and the fine community of Pembroke?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am told that if the mayor of Pembroke is to be believed in this instance, it is because of 40 years of neglect, which we are in the process of trying to rectify. It is going to put additional pressure when the member’s friends in Ottawa are cutting Via Rail across this province, putting more pressure on airports and roads. I think my honourable friend cannot have it all ways.
Let me say that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the then Minister of Transportation put forward in the last budget a very aggressive program of road building and construction across this province. I think we are in the process of trying to make up in this area, as in so many other areas, for lack of planning in the past. I think the member can pass on to his good friend Ace McCann that the province is in very good hands, that the area is particularly well represented in this Legislature and that he will find his needs will be attended to in a fair, rational and reasonable way.
Mr Brandt: I am going to also pass on to his worship the mayor the fact that what the Premier has just shared with this Legislature is not factually correct. The Premier’s budget for transportation has gone down. He had reduced his commitment to road construction. It is easy for him to point his finger at some other jurisdiction, to flog off responsibility to municipalities and to point to the federal government. The Premier has had years to do something about this particular stretch of highway. He can back out of the responsibility and blame someone else, but the fact of the matter is that he now has a responsibility to upgrade this road. When is he going to do something about it?
Hon Mr Peterson: The very capable minister from the area tells me there has been a very substantial amount of work done on Highway 17 west of Ottawa. I am not sure when the last time was the member drove it, but I am sure that the local --
Mr Brandt: About a month ago, I was on that road. When was the last time you were on it?
Hon Mr Peterson: He was on that road a month ago. Well, if that is the case he would have noticed the improvements from the last time he had been there, and he would want to stand up in this House and tell his honourable friend Ace McCann, the mayor of Pembroke, that the road program in this province is progressing. We are making progress everywhere. The member should apologize to the mayor for not doing more when he had an opportunity to do it.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Solicitor General. Recently, I received from our federal colleague Bob Kaplan a copy of his very excellent speech on crime prevention. This topic interests me greatly, especially in view of some of what I consider very horrendous crimes in Ottawa-Carleton and other parts of the province. For example, I was stunned to read a few weeks ago that a 19-year-old, without any apparent motive, attacked an innocent pedestrian and threw him over the interprovincial bridge in Ottawa to his death some 100 feet below. As a society, I think all of us have to ask ourselves what kind of social, economic or personal conditions produce such unprovoked and callous crimes.
May I ask the Solicitor General --
The Speaker: Please do.
Mr Daigeler: -- whether his ministry has studied crime patterns in this province in view of trying to prevent crimes and what is being done in this regard.
Hon Mr Offer: I think the member raises a very important issue in dealing with the study of crime trends in Ontario. I would like to indicate to the member that my ministry is placing a significant emphasis on community policing. The emphasis is based on our knowledge of the integral role that communities play in effective policing services, that they work co-operatively with the police service that provides service to the community.
The role of the community in crime prevention is integral. This is why we are working with communities throughout Ontario to develop effective programs, to develop programs in the prevention of crime. I would like to indicate that during the first week in November -- this is Crime Prevention Week -- I will be meeting at that time with a number of community groups that play a lead role in the development of crime prevention and we will be conducting a number of seminars and discussions between community groups, businesses and police forces to discuss the whole issue of crime prevention. I look forward to these discussions.
The member raises an important point. He brings forward the issue in terms of community policing, which is a new form of policing that I believe --
The Speaker: Thank you. That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses.
Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I have a petition that is in the proper wording as it used to be prior to the rule change and I would ask your indulgence, since this was circulated prior to the rule changes, to accept the petition.
The Speaker: I will listen very carefully.
Mr Wildman: It is addressed, “To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario,” as was the past procedure. It is a petition signed by 615 residents of Goulais River, Haydon and Sault Ste Marie, requesting the “Ontario government to allocate the necessary funds to allow for the extension of the present hours of operation of the Goulais River waste disposal site.” I have signed the petition and I support it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I also have a petition that is with the proper wording for the previous rules and I therefore ask that the Speaker consider it to be in order.
I will not read the petition in its entirety. Earlier in the year, I presented a petition dealing with the promise the current government had made to build a new chronic care hospital in the city of Windsor, with 13,000 signatures. Since then, another 6,000 signatures have come in, asking the Liberal government to keep its promise. We have raised our $11 million in our community towards the construction of this hospital. We just wish the government would come through with its promise of $22 million. However, in between, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has further delayed the construction of the new hospital.
The Speaker: I know under the new rules --
Mr D. S. Cooke: We are not allowed to read the petition?
The Speaker: You are allowed to give an explanation, but not to debate it.
COMMERCIAL CONCENTRATION LEVY
Mr Philip: I have a petition also using the words of the previous rules.
“To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We believe that the provincial Liberal government’s recently imposed commercial concentration levy tax will greatly hurt the ability of hotels in the greater Toronto area to compete with hotels in other areas. We believe that it will result in a postponement of capital investment in this area and mean a loss of jobs in the tourist industry. We call on members of the Legislature to express their disapproval of the government’s actions and we call on Premier David Peterson and Treasurer Robert Nixon to rescind the tax.”
I agree with the petition and I have signed it.
COUNTY OF SIMCOE
Mr McCague: I have a petition:
“To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We wish to make it known that we, the undersigned, strongly object to the manner in which the south Simcoe local government study is currently being conducted by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Further, we truly believe that preliminary proposals put forward by the ministry for one municipal government unit, bounded on Highway 27 to the east, Highway 9 to the south” -- and setting out the west and north boundaries – “is not appropriate for this area of south Simcoe county. In this regard we strongly favour the compromise proposal submitted by the town of Alliston and supported by the village of Tottenham.”
This is signed by 444 people and it is in an almost perfect form.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present a petition properly signed and addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas it is our constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of our preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
I present this on behalf of these citizens.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
CITY OF GUELPH ACT, 1989
Mr Ferraro moved first reading of Bill Pr42, An Act respecting the City of Guelph.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES SEULEMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I seek permission for the minister to take a front seat.
The Chair: You do not need to seek permission, but you may sit at the front seat, yes.
As the minister’s staff is getting installed, I would like at this moment to list -- and simply list -- any proposals for amendments and comments or whatever, questions, and to which section. Would anybody have any proposals so we can list them?
Mr McCague: I am momentarily standing in for the member for Markham (Mr Cousens). I understand he would wish to propose amendments to subsections 5(6) and to 5(8).
The Chair: Yes. Is it just these two you have? Anything else?
Mr McCague: I believe your understanding is correct, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: And you have copies of those proposed amendments?
Mr McCague: I have only got one copy of --
The Chair: We can get some copies made.
Would any other people wish to list proposed changes? Is that it, then, just proposed amendments to section 5? We will wait to get some copies made and distributed to the proper authorities.
Is there any discussion on sections 1 to 4? In that case, if there is no need to discuss, shall sections 1 to 4 carry?
Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Harris: There are actually three proposed amendments.
The Chair: Three proposed amendments?
Subsections 5(6) and 5(8), and which is the third
Mr McCague: There are, as written, three amendments, but two of them are to subsection 5(8).
The Chair: While we are waiting for the -- yes?
Mr Harris: I wonder, while we are waiting, if it might not be appropriate to point out in the gallery on the west side --
The Chair: I was about to do that.
Mr Harris: Were you going to do that?
The Chairman: You took the words out of my
Mr Harris: Let me allude to the former member for Bellwoods, Mr McClellan.
Mr D. S. Cooke: There is no such riding.
Mr Harris: No such riding any more, I am led to believe, but we always knew him as the member for Bellwoods, astute member that he was. He represented his constituents well and also his party very well in his capacity as House leader at that time. I just want to acknowledge his presence here as he oversees how we are carrying on.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Chairman, I would also point out that he always brought his amendments on time, as well.
The Chair: May I take this opportunity to remind members who may wish to bring proposed amendments into the committee of the whole House -- as members can see, when we are not provided with copies it adds a not so interesting delay to the work of the House; therefore, I think you cannot provide a better example of what not to do. I would appreciate it if next time all members would bring sufficient copies to give out to the opposition, the minister, Hansard, translators. Are we ready to roll? Fair enough. Would the member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague) move --
Mr McCague: Mr Chairman, my apologies to you and the House for not bringing sufficient copies of the amendments which I did not know I was supposed to bring in the first place. I suggest that if the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) could see his way clear to put another lane on the Don Valley Parkway, the member for Markham might be here by this time for his scheduled 2 o’clock arrival.
In any event, I am aware that there was an exchange yesterday between the minister and the member from Markham in which the minister said that three loopholes that the member for Markham had pointed out in fact did not exist. Unfortunately, I am not able to piece that all together and determine whether this amendment is appropriate or not. Two days ago it seemed appropriate. After the minister’s words, it may not be appropriate, but I have no choice but to put it at this time.
The Chair: Mr McCague moved, on behalf of Mr Cousens, that subsection 6 of section 5 of the bill be amended by deleting the words “or such later date as the Minister may permit” so that the subsection would now read:
“(6) Subject to subsection (7), the fact-finder shall submit his or her report and recommendations, if any, to the minister, the employer and the local by 30 June 1990.”
Would the member have an opening statement in support? If not, would the minister wish to respond?
Mr McCague: My opening remarks did, I think, prompt a reply from the minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: If I might respond to it, the existing language we have in the bill is very common. The reason for that is that in the very unlikely possibility that the fact-finder, for example, were to get sick for a period of time or there was a strong legitimate reason why it was impossible to get the fact-finder’s report out by 30 June, that discretion is available to the minister. As I say, it is a very common thing and it is only to be used in those sorts of circumstances. I think it would be a mistake to support the amendment in this case or, frankly, in any other case similar to this, because I do think one needs that final possible discretion for those kinds of eventualities. As I say, it is very common in bills such as this.
The Chair: Any comments?
Mr McCague: The Minister of Labour has not been in this House as long as some of us have. I well recall, in the past 15 years, members of his party, when they sat on this side of the House, complaining loud and clear about any kind of discretion being given to the minister to extend deadlines or whatever, for whatever reason, good or bad.
So I guess we have been reading some of the past Hansards, and in this case we are wishing to read back to the minister some of the gist of the comments that were made by his party prior to five years ago. The member for Essex-Kent (Mr McGuigan) is smiling; he never heard that, I am sure, in this House at any time.
However, the minister being a most trustworthy person, who is now holding the office of Minister of Labour, I think we should grant him that right. I do not have any personal problems with it,
Mrs Marland: I just wish to emphasize my support of this amendment. I heard the minister’s answer that perhaps the fact-finder might become ill. I think in that eventuality there is always going to be somebody else doing his work or someone else to whom direct responsibility can be transferred. I really think that it is very important. Obviously, the fact-finder is not going to start preparing his report on 29 June or perhaps even 20 June. I think that to avoid the kind of thing we have experienced in these last few weeks in terms of the effect on public transit, this kind of amendment must be accepted by the government.
I would think that if the government were quite sincere in being fair to both the management and the union, management and labour, it would be quite happy to have this amendment carry; because at least, then, everybody knows what the rules are, everybody knows what the ball game is and the dates are firm, the commitment is firm. I would hope, with respect, through the chair to the minister, that he would want to make a firm commitment so that the rules are laid out and everybody knows what they have to comply with. As soon as he introduces some flexibility into that date of 30 June of next year, then with flexibility the date does not stand, quite frankly. To have a parameter set out that is firm means that everyone knows what it is and there cannot be any gamesmanship around that date when close to that date arrives,
Mr Cousens: I am trying to get caught up here briefly with what was happening. I just wondered if the minister had any problems, whether or not we were giving enough time for the fact-finder to complete his report. I do not think the minister had a comment on that. He has options within the bill to extend his time to do it. Maybe he could give us some comment on how much longer he might need, other than 30 June?
Hon Mr Phillips: I was going to wait until all the comments, but I can comment on that. I said earlier in the debate the I think 30 June or earlier for the fact-finder -- the only reason for putting the provision in that at a later date, possible by the minister, as I said earlier in the House, is in the extreme possibility that the fact-finder, for example, were to be sick for a period of time, that we have that minor discretion to allow it to be later. But clearly, 30 June is the date the fact-finder’s report must be out by; or earlier, by the way.
Mr Cousens: If the minister is talking earlier, how much earlier? Maybe this whole thing could be brought forward. What are his intentions if in fact it could be done faster? I had a sense there was no possibility of it being earlier.
The Chair: Order, please. Any more comments on the proposed amendment? The member for Markham.
Mr Cousens: To me, I guess there is a lot of background that hopefully will come out through our committee discussion and review of the bill today. This is purely one amendment that just ties it down. The minister is one of these great fence sitters who is capable of sort of looking at both sides of the fence and wondering where the ash is going to be or the wind is blowing and then when it is just the right time he will jump down in either direction and --
Mr Dietsch: Just be thankful there are no pickets on your fence, Don, or you would have a real problem.
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Cousens: He said something about if there were pickets on my fence, I would have a problem.
The Chair: Order, please. No interjections, and please ignore the interjections.
The Chair: Order, please. One member at a time, please. Everybody will have the opportunity to make comments if they wish, but one member at a time. The member for Markham, please.
Mr Cousens: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I welcome any suggestions that are going to help us come up with the kind of legislation that I believe is in the best long-term interests of all parties involved. I think part of the concern we have had right from the very beginning is that there is always going to be someone unhappy when you have to bring parties together against their will and when you have to bring out a solution that is not a negotiated settlement. That has to be our first desire. It has been the best way ever since we have had it and we are living in an age in which that has to be our first hope and our first aspiration as members of the Legislature, to see that that is the case.
The fact of the matter is that the government is now involved and is involved very, very deeply in what is going on. I have to say that I was not all that thrilled at some of the comments that came back from the minister when he was doing his wrap up yesterday. I do not know if it was for any reason that he failed to answer the questions I asked initially in the House, whether it was deliberate or accidental that he failed to answer those questions. But it begins to cast a light on the amendments and on the debate today if in fact he had some ulterior motives. Quite candidly, when we were in the House yesterday, I had a chance to ask the minister when he got involved and I tabled a number of others. Maybe the context of these amendments can be somewhat changed if the minister would now consider answering those questions.
I asked the question yesterday as to when the province became involved. This whole motion we are making as an amendment has to do with timing. I would like to know something of the timing, when he started getting involved in this thing. Maybe the minister could comment on that.
Hon Mr Phillips: If it would be helpful, I would be happy to, because the approach we took on this issue was exactly that which I think a Minister of Labour should take on future issues, one very consistent with the philosophy I hope all of us support, and that is to let the collective bargaining process work and not involve the province.
The time I became involved in the issue was when our office received a phone call from the head of the commission requesting the meeting. Frankly, I had avoided being involved in the issue. I just think it is wrong for a Minister of Labour to get involved in collective bargaining, but when the head of the Toronto Transit Commission requested a meeting, I agreed to it, frankly reluctantly, but none the less I agreed to it.
I would also say that at the same time I invited the union to meet. I felt it was important that if we were going to meet with one side, we meet with both sides. Actually, it was a very public invitation too, as members may or may not be aware.
When did we become involved? I think it was about two and a half weeks before the end of the dispute and it was at the request of the political head of the commission. At the same time I agreed to meet with her and the chairman, I also invited the union to have a similar meeting because I think it is important that we be balanced in these things, that we not be seen to be on one side or the other, but trying to help to resolve it by the collective bargaining process.
I do not know whether that is helpful. I simply ran out of time yesterday and the member had left. I was not sure he was still keen on that particular issue, but I hope that has elaborated it for him.
Mr Cousens: I thank the minister. I guess the problem we have in the Legislature now is with the communications techniques we have available. You can be on the phone and you can turn it off and you suddenly see the minister turning up, so you are just on standby when it is going on.
There were the original statements that were made by the Premier and the minister himself during the escalation of the slowdown. I would be very interested in knowing how he really put that together. The slowdown was getting worse. We saw signals coming out of the negotiation room that negotiations were going very badly, although efforts were being made by mediators from the ministry. I would like to get a sense of his information during that period of time. Was he being apprised on a daily basis? Was it something he was being briefed on, and were there briefings going back to the Premier so that he was in a situation to understand what really was going on and just how urgent the situation was?
If there is one thing that seems to be part of the whole debate we are having here -- as I have talked to commuters who were using the service or the lack of service and faced the problems during the slowdown, they had a real sense of being alone in the greater Toronto area. It would have appeared to them by virtue of the statement that was made by the Premier and also by statements that the minister was making that in fact the ministry was really going to have a hands-off approach.
The Premier’s statement was one in which he said: “Everybody is over the age of 21. I am satisfied. They are all big boys and I’m not going to get involved.” He made that as a very strong statement, and yet none the less, during that period of time, the minister had to know that it was becoming far worse a situation. Businesses were suffering in the problems they had. The people who were using the service were going through it. The employees and the TTC, the management, were really going through it in a way that they have not gone through it in years. The whole thing was a bad scene.
By virtue of the fact that his ministry and the statements made by the Premier and himself led people to believe that there was no government involvement, can the minister give us a sense of just the degree to which he were involved during the process? I realize we are still in the middle of that process because, though things will be resolved this afternoon, this bill will be voted on and we will be considering these amendments, but we are still close enough to it that memories are strong enough that I would be very appreciative of having a sense of his involvement during that whole period of time.
Perhaps he could also comment, because it is germane to everything we are doing, on the degree to which, the way in which he was communicating with the Premier about what was happening. I had a feeling when he made his statement on 6 September that he really did not know what was happening. Maybe he did or maybe he did not and what the minister has to say could be very helpful.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think it probably is important to talk a little bit about this because it is, I think, rather fundamental to the collective bargaining process.
The people who manage the TTC are not the province. They are the TTC commissioners. That is their responsibility. They are, in quotes, the management, and then they have several unions, including the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113. It is clearly their responsibility. Everything we did through this process was designed to reinforce that. Believe me, if the province begins to involve itself in disputes such as this, there is a slippery slope from which we will never recover.
The Premier was involved to the extent that he reads the papers. He knows what is going on. But he comes at it from a fundamental belief in the collective bargaining process, as I do. Every comment that we made throughout it was designed to reinforce that. That is why I think it would be a big mistake for people to believe that the responsibility for solving labour-management disputes in a collective bargaining environment rests with the province. It does not; it rests with the parties.
That is what this bill is designed to do, very clearly, to say to the parties that because of the immense disruption and the fact it went on for five weeks, we are prepared to end the dispute, but we are not prepared to arbitrate a solution to this complicated issue. We want that to go back to the parties using the approach of the fact-finder, laying out the facts before the two parties, and the public by the way. I think that will prove to be a useful exercise.
Back to the point, throughout the process, the statements I gave and the Premier gave were consistent with that philosophy. It was only when the head of the Toronto Transit Commission requested a meeting with myself that I agreed to it, and I agreed to it reluctantly.
As I said earlier, at the same time, I invited the union to meet with us because I think it is a mistake to be seen in a dispute such as this to be on one side or the other. With our industrial relations division, we are trying to help the parties, where necessary and where requested, to solve their disputes. But everything we did in this was designed, as I said earlier, to reinforce our belief in this collective bargaining process.
Mr Cousens: The moment anyone would question the importance of the collective bargaining process to be carried out so that both sides are able to come to an agreement -- I believe that in Ontario we have developed a method by which we can have mediators who are highly trained and highly skilled and capable of bringing groups together. I have been in those situations at the Royal York Hotel where people think you are eating shrimp and caviar, and really you are going for hours and days without sleep and worrying about how you are going to get it solved. It is so refreshing when the door is knocked upon and the mediator comes through and says: “Look, can I have a chat with you for a minute? I have another suggestion.”
On the mediation process and the whole reconciliation of differences through the collective bargaining agreement and without involvement of other sides, I want to go on the record from where I sit and where our party sits to that being a fundamental foundation block of the negotiating process. Yet I am somewhat surprised by the comments the minister has just made that in fact the Premier as of 6 September was still just reading the newspaper on the issue.
If that is what the minister is saying, that the Premier really had not been getting briefings, much the same as he would have been getting briefings, I would be interested in knowing -- we have to go back a little bit. This did not just all blow up at a certain point at the end of August and then become a September crisis. It had to be an unsettling circumstance for the minister and the Premier.
I would be disappointed if it is not something the minister had regular conversations with the Premier on to make sure he was aware of what was happening, so that he was satisfied that the processes the minister was following, as minister and by his ministry -- it is not just the minister running the ministry. There is a team of people there who help make it all happen, but the political involvement of the government and the minister is a matter of great consideration in the manner of saying, “Hey, look, the timing is right.”
In 1984, when the then Premier made a decision to become involved in the whole resolution of the differences between the TTC management and the union, it was in advance of what was happening.
In this situation, I am not calling for that, but I have a real sense that there was a surprise that took place. It was a surprise to me after the comments that were made by the Premier on 6 September that he was not going to get involved. I think if the minister will recall -- I do not have the statements but I did listen to him, as I know thousands and possibly millions of people did in Toronto when he was interviewed on radio stations -- certainly on one of the prominent stations -- when he was having a hands-off policy at that time.
Yet at the very same time the minister was getting -- I would have thought but he is saying no. I would have been almost assured that there would have been people who were calling upon him to say: “Mr Phillips, you have had a great deal of background with negotiations through your school board experience and through your whole background. You cannot have been chairman of the Metro school board and not have gone through this.”
For the minister not to have had a more personal involvement until the very last time when Chairman Tonks gave him a call is something that is still a mystery to me. I do not know whether the minister sees the significance of that. Did no one of any matter or any significance get through to him? Were his phones on? Was he not available for comment? I am just concerned that the Minister of Labour was not being kept informed, because from where I was sitting, well over a week before the Premier made his statement about no involvement, I was beginning to really be afraid about the way the discussions and the negotiations were breaking down.
Before the slowdown came into effect, was the minister briefed and aware? Was he involved in that? Did he look at any other options before he had the phone call from the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto? Were there any other people who contacted him and asked him to get involved whom he rejected because they were not important enough? Maybe the minister could comment on that for a moment, please.
Hon Mr Phillips: It is getting a little repetitive, but I will.
Mr Cousens: With all due respect, I have not had the answers, so if it is repetitive, I can keep asking. I think we are owed the answers and the forum is here in the Legislature. I do not want to go out and get a press release that is slipped under the door of everybody’s place around here. I do not think the Minister of Labour acts like that. I think he is big enough and man enough and honourable enough that he will be able to answer the questions, and if the honourable members in the House want to listen to him, I very much would like to.
Hon Mr Phillips: I will try again.
Again, I say what I have said in each answer to the honourable member, because it is so fundamental to what we are trying to do: What I am trying to do as Minister of Labour is to not involve ourselves, not involve the government, in collective bargaining. There are, I think, 3,500 collective agreements reached each year in this province, reached in most cases, in the overwhelming number of cases, through professional collective bargaining between the two parties.
My involvement from the outset was consistent with all of my other involvement in the collective bargaining process, which was to say -- I was aware the mediation was going on -- to any party that we were not going to be involved in this, that it was up to both parties to resolve it. Certainly, if the member casts his mind back to that time, it was a very public display of where the negotiations stood. They were having difficulty -- there is no question of that -- but my consistent message to the public was that we were not going to be involved in the process.
We have at our disposal -- the member was right -- extremely competent, professional mediators who are able to be helpful to both parties. The reason they will be able to help both parties, by the way, is that they are seen by both parties as neutral. So our mediators were involved on an on-and-off basis with the parties, but each time someone would ask me, I would say the same thing, including on 6 September, earlier and later than that, “It is up to the parties in this dispute to resolve their differences.”
Mr Cousens: I am not totally satisfied but --
Mr Miller: You never will be, Don. You wanted to make it an issue even before it came to the Legislature.
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Cousens: The honourable member says I was trying to make it an issue before it even came to the Legislature. I will tell him this much. The honourable member should recognize the fact that if you had lived in or been around the greater Toronto area during the slowdown --
Mr Miller: We were.
Mr Cousens: Then he should have been doing something more and ringing his doorbell to try to get them to do something, because it was obvious to the people around Toronto that it was not merely a matter of great concern to the people of the Toronto area. If there had been more of a statement, if there had been some sense that came out to the public that the minister was at least aware, at least concerned -- it is almost as if there was a hands-off policy that was part of the government’s tactics on this as, quite candidly, it has been in response to the questions that my honourable friend the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) asked the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) on issues. It is as if oh, everything, she is just concerned and there is no real problem. For those people who are the users of the system there was a problem, and what was coming through from the minister was a sense that it was not as serious and significant as we thought it was.
I will touch on another area of concern that comes out of yesterday’s remarks made by the Minister of Labour. I have to be concerned with his prognosis for the future. I am sitting here worried about the fact that the slowdown may be over now but we could be facing a similar kind of disruption not too far in the future, and that probability is not removed by the bill that the minister has prepared and presented before this House and when I read the remarks that the minister gave yesterday when he said:
“The Labour Relations Act says that a strike includes a slowdown or ‘a concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output.’ The bill prohibits strikes during the term of this agreement, so that we will not see a slowdown or a lockout in the dispute.”
I would have to ask the honourable minister, by virtue of that statement, is that a guarantee? Because he has an understanding of what a slowdown is all about. I would be very, very interested in some elaboration on that, because if there is anything which is part and parcel of the amendments our caucus is bringing forward today, it has to do with the concern that the issue, though temporarily resolved -- and there is gratitude around the fact that we will pass it today and things will be in place and all parties seem to be generally accepting of the view -- but I have not got a warm, warm feeling about what the minister said, “The bill prohibits strikes during the term of this agreement, so that we will not see a slowdown or a lockout in the dispute.”
I think the lockout would be far harder for management to impose, but a slowdown may well be far more difficult to define. Could the minister elaborate on that, please?
Hon Mr Phillips: I hope I can give the member a warm feeling on this and close to a guarantee. In fact, knowing the two parties, I could give a guarantee because both parties in this dispute are honourable, professional organizations. The only way there can be a slowdown is if one party or the other breaks the law, and I know neither would. This settlement, this act prohibits a strike during the term of the agreement, which is for two years. A strike under the Labour Relations Act includes, as I said -- and the member can reread those words again -- exactly what I said yesterday.
I hope the member feels warmer now than he did before, because I do think he can leave tonight comforted that there will be no slowdown during the term of this agreement. That is consistent with the Labour Relations Act. I repeat, knowing the two parties in this particular dispute, I know the member can take that as a virtual guarantee.
Mr Cousens: As a businessman who likes guarantees, when you buy a product, you look at the guarantee, but you also check the credentials of the company to fulfil the guarantee. If the minister is guaranteeing something that is outside of his control, he is putting himself in a position where it would not be at all difficult at this point to put that right into the bill, so that we have a sense of knowing it.
Hon Mr Phillips: It is in the bill.
Mr Cousens: Well, by virtue of the fact that what could happen by virtue of not having an agreement during this period of time, by virtue of the fact that there are loose ends in the 30 June time frame -- right now we are optimists. The minister is an optimist, he is excited about the fact that this is going to be finished, and so are we all, but I am not so satisfied that the problem is going to be put away totally, because after 30 June we are in a position where we have a year in which there can be turmoil, discussion and deliberations that lead to a breakdown. Then a year after that, the same issue could come back on the table again. May I say that becomes a matter of concern to all of us because the last thing we want to see is that the TTC is into the same position that we have been in during the month of September.
I notice that it is not a total guarantee that the minister is giving. I think that, again, his own honesty prevents him from giving that kind of guarantee. I appreciate that fact. I think it would have been good if he had been able to, but I also understand how difficult it is on matters like this. But that is why I would like to have more satisfaction inside that we know how the future is going to be written, because today we will have written a bill that had those loose ends tied down.
Mr Haggerty: You could apply that same scenario to your leadership race.
Mr Cousens: I will disregard the comments, because I think they are some of those comments that are very hurtful and one never knows how we are going to apply these lessons to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. I can tell the members that one thing we hope to have is a better resolution to some of the concerns we have than what I see being proposed by this government.
I want to ask the honourable minister if I could get some comment from him on his willingness to arbitrate issues that are already agreed to, but not the issue of part-timers. Why is it that the minister had to put everything through in the bill that had been agreed to already? Was there not any other mechanism or any other way that he could have dealt with this rather than dealing with all those issues, referring them all to arbitration?
Hon Mr Phillips: On the one hand, the member wants all the loose ends tied up and he wants all this resolved so he can have the warm feeling. On the other hand, he is prepared to leave some loose ends. I do not think we can have it both ways. I think we have to have within the bill something that resolves the dispute, so we are referring those matters to arbitration.
My hope is that the arbitration process can be very short. It is my hope, consistent with my whole philosophy here, that the two parties reach an agreement. I hope the arbitrator has virtually nothing to do, but we have got to make sure that all of the loose ends -- to use the member’s terminology -- are tied up, so that he can, as I said earlier, have a warm feeling when he goes home, so that he knows, he is comforted that there will not be a disruption for two years. He has got the guarantee in here because of the Labour Relations Act. I think he should feel very comforted that our arbitrator will deal with all those matters.
Mr Cousens: I like the minister’s response. I think that has to be our hope, that the arbitrator will not have a lot to do. If that is the sense the minister is getting through his discussions, that is the kind of thing that at least puts all of those issues, which were hopefully settled, away.
We have before us the amendment that has been made. I am wondering if the minister has any reason to not accept that interim deadline we are looking for, of 30 June, as we have proposed in this amendment. It could be a way of just knowing what is settled. Is there any reluctance on the part of the minister to stay with his own bill or is he willing to consider this amendment as something that he is willing to go along with?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am not willing to go along with it, for the reasons that the member has outlined, and that is I want all the loose ends in this thing tied up. I do not want to be in a position -- if there is some unforeseen happening and the fact-finder cannot meet that deadline, then I want that little flexibility that we can allow that to happen. But I assure the member that 30 June, or earlier, is the date the fact-finder will be working towards and will in fact deliver on. But, as I said earlier, in many bills such as this it is important to have that little opportunity for those extreme circumstances to have some time for the fact-finder to complete the report. Again I say I cannot accept the amendment, because I want to make sure we leave here with all of the loose ends tied up.
The Chair: Any more comments?
Mr Cousens: I will leave that one as it is, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: Any more comments from anybody on the proposed amendment to subsection 5(6)? Are we ready for the vote?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Chair: Would the member from Markham help us since both proposed amendments are to subsection 5(8)? Which one would the member prefer to bring forward first?
Mr Cousens: I will bring forward the short one.
The Chair: Mr Cousens moves that subsection 8 of section 5 of the bill be amended by inserting the words “for a period not to exceed 90 days after the day on which the parties received the fact-finder’s report” between the word “faith” and the word “to” in the second line so that the subsection would now read:
“5(8) If the fact-finder issues a report, the parties shall bargain in good faith for a period not to exceed 90 days after the day on which the parties received the fact-finder’s report to attempt to settle the unresolved issues in the staffing dispute, including the use of part-time workers.”
Would the member have an opening statement?
Mr Cousens: It goes along with the concerns that we have expressed earlier and in my remarks yesterday. It is part and parcel of the worry that I have that there is going to be a possibility at the end of the time, on 30 June, assuming that is the date. We cannot really work on that date because my previous amendment was not carried, but there would be a period of time -- let us say by our amendment it would be 90 days; that would have put it to 30 September if we had kept our original time frame -- and it would have given both parties an opportunity to review and consider that information.
It would be fresh information in some respects. It would be a rehashing of things they already know. There may be some insights there that will be helpful to them in trying to address the concerns they have. It respects the need for a legitimate time frame in which they would try to work out the details of an agreement. It respects both sides as having that right. It also respects the need for the public at large to know that it is not going to go on again, it is not going to go on for ever,
What is happening now, by virtue of the way the bill is written, is there is not any sense of knowing when these parties are going to have it solved. What we are saying here is the fact-finder issues a report and the parties will bargain in good faith to attempt to settle the unresolved issues in the staffing dispute, including the use of part-time workers. How long can those negotiations go on under the present bill? Is there any time frame? Maybe the minister can comment on that. How long can they go on just discussing that without coming up with a resolution?
Hon Mr Phillips: This amendment and, I think, the next ones the member is going to propose are all linked together, designed to lead to binding arbitration on the fact-finder’s report, which is totally inconsistent with the approach we are taking on this. Which is to say, this is an important issue for both parties to find a lasting solution to. I realize, from the commission’s point of view, it has a strong belief that the part-time workers can be of assistance to it. From the union’s point of view, it has some strong beliefs.
Frankly, as the Minister of Labour I do not take a position in an issue like this. I believe this is an issue that has to be resolved between these two parties, and it would be wrong of us to put a gun to either party’s head if in fact we are designing this bill to provide the forum and the vehicle for them to resolve the issue.
So that is exactly what we said we would do.
We have got some time between now and 30 June at the latest for an objective study to be done of the part-time issue, for both parties to input into that, for the necessary research to be done, for the whole thing to be laid out for both parties in a factual and -- I think important -- independent way for both parties and, by the way, the public, because I think this is an issue that the public, as the member said earlier, has been involved in and is interested in. That will be done by 30 June at the latest.
As you will see in the bill, we compel both sides to bargain in good faith around that. Now I cannot guarantee that the two sides will reach an agreement on this. It is, as I say, a fairly fundamental issue for both of them. But I can say that with the passage of time this public report, which will lay out for both sides and for the public the facts, the high interest that both sides take in this and the recognition that this is an issue they must both come to grips with -- because I know that neither side took any solace at all in the dispute. Both felt terrible about it.
This amendment that is being proposed is designed to set a framework that would lead to a binding solution to the fact-finder’s report. I think that would be dead wrong. Once again, we are going to force, with a gun to the head, a solution when we have an issue here that requires both sides to look at it and take the time necessary to find that lasting solution, whatever it may be. I hope the member can tell by the tenor of my remarks that I will be opposing this amendment and the ones that follow, because they are designed to lead to an imposed settlement on the parties when, in our belief, a solution rests in a collective agreement on the issue.
Mr Cousens: Maybe what I should do, and with the House’s permission I will, is bring forward my second amendment because it does tie in together and we can be talking about both amendments at the same time. With the House’s permission. I will bring forward my second amendment, which is of some length. Is that all right, Mr Chairman? I think there would be some value in tabling my other amendment at this time, and we could consider them both in debate at the present time, if that is all right. I will move an additional amendment now which is also a part of that subsection. If the House agrees, we can do it.
The Chair: There is one already on the floor, and I would rather deal with this one first and then we will deal with the second one. Dispose of this one first.
Mr Cousens: That is fine. It does tie in. I will bring it forward in a moment.
I asked the minister a question. What I hear the minister saying is that he does not know when he can expect to have the matter resolved after the fact-finder’s report is tabled. I like the fact-finder process, by the way. It would have appeared from the minister’s comments that there may be some people who are opposed to a fact-finder doing a study and laying out both sides of the matter. I think that is an excellent way of making sure both sides understand all sides of the issue.
I think it is important that the public at large as well appreciates that fact, because it does become a public document. What the minister has said is that there is no time frame, yet the bill he has ends on 30 June 1991. What he is really saying is that the negotiations could still be continuing beyond 30 June 1991. Am I right about that date? That is when all strike action cannot be part of it? Is it 30 June 1991, which is within the bill? Therefore, on 1 July 1991, on a Blue Jays game in downtown Toronto when we want to get everybody using the TTC again, we could be faced with another strike if it has not been resolved by then.
What the minister is saying is there is no time frame for them to resolve matters that are contained in the fact-finder’s report and he is saying therefore that he hopes it would be resolved by 30 June 1991. There is no way of knowing it will not be if in fact both sides continue to be intransigent in their position. At that time, he will have little choice but to get involved again, if it looks like another strike on 1 July, because we will be on a calendar at that time in the Ontario Legislature. Is the minister saying that is not a possibility?
The First Deputy Chair: Minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: Mr Chair, welcome. Yesterday I did not get an opportunity. I want to congratulate you on your new position.
Collective bargaining always has that as one possibility. This contract will expire on 30 June 1991, essentially two years from now. Again, we are dealing with two organizations here, the commission and a union, that are both sincere groups that I know want to avoid any disruption and will be bargaining in good faith at that time. But part of the collective bargaining process is that there are opportunities for both sides to impose sanctions if they cannot reach a collective agreement, and I hope all of us in this room support that.
I cannot guarantee that after the expiration of two years there could not be a disruption, but I think both sides have been through this process now. They recognize how difficult the issue is. We have given them the ammunition now, and the tools, to reach a settlement. Frankly, I am quite optimistic about the prospects for the two parties to resolve this difficult issue between themselves. I think we are going to find that, actually.
Mr Mackenzie: I do not intend to participate at any length in the debate over these amendments, but I think there are a couple of comments that are worthy of being made.
First off, I have a little difficulty with the member’s argument that he was making earlier that the ministry should not get involved. I do not disagree with him on that at all, but then insisting that we should get involved in effect, which is what the amendments say in terms of the real issue that caused the problem, and that is the use of part-timers, if it is the intent of the member to open up the dispute again and really set it racing down the rails, that is exactly what he would do with these amendments. It does not make a hell of a lot of sense, in my opinion.
It seems to me that the part-time issue was not just this contract, although this is the time when the commission decided it was going to make this its stand to give it the flexibility and the right to use part-timers and the union officials saw it as the wall that they had to put their backs to. What they have is a fact-finder and a study of the importance of the issue. As I read into the record yesterday, there are a number of very positive recommendations that were made by the union that the commission would not look at. Maybe they have some alternatives to the straight part-time issue, I do not know, but the facts are that while this year that became the crux, it is something the commission has tried to get in the last couple of sets of negotiations.
What we now have is a fact-finder who will look at what has happened. It is not binding, and I think that is the way it should be, because I do not think they would have got the agreement or would get an agreement otherwise. The whole issue will be looked at; both sides, union and commission, will then have the opportunity to put on the table what they have as the suggestions for this; and obviously it will be the major issue in the next contract negotiations.
I think both sides will be on the spot at that point in time. They will have had the benefit of the study done by the people who are looking at the issue. They will have had the benefit of its being much more public. It should certainly get released to the public once the study has been done. They will have the benefit of suggestions that are actually being made on both sides, and if at that time they cannot come to an agreement, yes, I still believe in the whole process of free collective bargaining and they will have to decide. But they are going to be much more under a public microscope at that point in time and proposals are actually going to have been made.
To put the compulsory nature on them now, which does not give them a chance really to bargain if one side or the other totally disagrees with the recommendations that are made, I certainly know -- I do not know from the commission’s point of view, I do not think it is happy at all with this part of the recommendation, but from the union’s point of view, it would be deadly.
I think that what we have done here is the proper thing in terms of taking a serious look at the issue of the part-time workers and I think it should stay that way, and that does not make me love the bill any more.
Mr Cousens: By the way, I would like to just compliment the new honourable member who has taken over the chair as the First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. It is very good to see you in such an active role in running the affairs of the Legislature from the Chairman’s chair, rather than from your own here in the House, which you have been doing for so long.
The First Deputy Chair: Just remember, they are writing all this down.
Mr Cousens: We will be watching -- I am completing it now; I am going to carry on -- we will be looking to see that the actions and the leadership that you give from your chair now as the First Deputy Chair is similar to the kind of leadership that you gave from the second row in the opposition. And we will be listening with care. Anyway, I think it is a time for compliments. I trust that the honourable member will enjoy listening to all the debate. It is really one of those opportunities to earn his pay.
First of all, I appreciate the fact that the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie) would disagree with the amendment and disagree with where I am coming from, but I appreciate his view and I appreciate the way in which he has shared his insights on it now. I think one of the things that came through from the member for Hamilton East is that I do not see him taking sides on the issue either and how it should be resolved. I do not see him taking the side of the union members or the management on resolution of the part-time issue. I think that is quite amazing from the member for Hamilton East, because normally he has a kind of a heavy bias for one side or the other and he did not show that bias in his latest remarks. As a member of the New Democratic Party, maybe he is softening up in his return to the Legislature in this session.
I feel like a record that is kind of locked into a little zip and I am going back over it. I have to make the point -- I have made the point -- I am not satisfied that the minister’s answer is an acceptable answer with regard to the time that could be taken to settle and resolve the fact-finder’s report. All I have asked on this matter is that the fact-finder’s report has a duration during which both parties -- and if they want to meet day and night, they have a 90-day time frame, which is ample time to get it solved. At the end of that time, then my next motion is going to kick in certain other things that would have come into effect. Once I have that tabled, we will discuss some of the ramifications that they bring to these negotiations.
I guess to me it brings out one other question, and it has to do with their reluctance as a ministry and as a government to become involved at all in these negotiations, especially as they began to break down between both parties, the TTC and the union Local 113. I therefore begin to wonder whether or not, once this bill is passed, the minister’s hands are washed of the entire situation, or is there any plan that he would have at any particular time if those negotiations did not continue as planned, if they broke down? Could he tell us what action he would take at that time?
Hon Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker -- is it Mr Chairman? It is Mr Chairman.
The First Deputy Chair: I never understood this either. When you sit in this chair, it is the Chairman. When you sit up there, it is the Speaker, no matter who is there.
Mr Cousens: It’s still the same old guy.
The First Deputy Chair: Still the same old guy.
Hon Mr Phillips: I go back to the central theme of what I have been saying for a considerable period of time, and that is that surely collective bargaining is done between the two parties. The minister should not be involved. We do have an industrial relations division that can be helpful to the parties if they so request. Certainly if we could be helpful to the parties, if, for example, the fact-finder’s report comes out and both sides would find it helpful for us to be helping in mediation, we certainly would be available. But as minister, no.
I said earlier I think there are 3,500 collective agreements each year in this province and they are reached because both parties recognize it is their responsibility to resolve the issue and the government and the minister are not going to step in and resolve the issue for them. The industrial relations division can be helpful, at their request.
So the answer to the member’s question is that I think that the process is the right one. The fact-finder’s report will be put out. If they require mediation services, those things are available, if both parties require it, and that division can be as helpful as both parties want it to be. But in terms of the minister being involved in it, I think it would be wrong and contrary to the things we are trying to do with this bill.
Mr Cousens: I want to be very respectful of the minister at this particular time. I do not want to say anything that is unparliamentary. I would not want to put words out that say that I think he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. That would not be parliamentary, so I would not put that on the record, but I have those feelings, because on 6 September the Premier said, “We’re not going to get involved,” and then last week they got involved.
Now I am saying to them, if the negotiations break down, will they get involved and what intentions would they have at that time to do something concrete? Will they be able or prepared to do anything at that time?
What I just heard back from the honourable Minister of Labour is: “No way. All things will go on in due and careful process. We trust the process.” Hey, we all trust the process, but let’s have some kind of time frame in which we are going to be able to allow that trust to continue before things deteriorate and he then has to break the word, because he just finished saying no, he will not get involved.
I do not think there is anyone in this House who does not believe that he will not get involved when in fact there is a total breakdown in those negotiations and we face another slowdown. Why not face up to that right today and have the whole thing wrapped up?
He has not closed the loop. We have made that point and I am saying to him that if he was really believing what he just said, he really is inconsistent with what has happened. On 6 September, “We won’t get involved.” Later in September they got involved. Now they are involved and he is saying, “Oh, well, we’ll let them do due process and we won’t get involved if anything happens.”
I do not think there is anyone in the province who believes that statement, and I say that as an honourable member to another honourable member. I just have to believe that he would care enough about this whole process that he is going to -- for the same reasons. Is the only person who is going to call him Mr Tonks, the chairman of Metro, who is going to come along and say, “Hey, Minister of Labour, we need to get involved”? Is he the only person who is going to ring the minister’s doorbell and cause him to start getting involved, or is it going to be the ground swell of public opinion?
Sometimes I wonder what it takes to get ministers of the provincial crown to get involved in things. He is saying now, “It’s all settled today.” The people of the greater Toronto area need to have a little bit more comfort than that when it comes to what is going to happen or what could happen if in fact these negotiations break down.
That is what my next amendment is going to lead up to. It is not just a fickle, facile amendment. It is saying, “We want to have some sense of security that this is put away, it’s not just on the shelf to come down during the next election campaign.”
I know for a fact that Mr Bourassa happened to succeed when he went back to the people for re-election and he won a large majority. Yet the unresolved issues that had been outstanding in Quebec for an extended period of time reared their ugly head. It had to do with the nurses walking out; it had to do with the environment situation. There was so much that was still pent up and at that time it came out.
I am saying to the minister, for the sake of everybody, when you start getting into the future, why not have things so that it is tidy, neat and clean? I am satisfied that what we are saying here is firm and valid and worth while. It is a credible amendment. It makes sense. It says that both sides will have a chance to consider the fact-finder’s report. The fact-finder’s report will be a basis for a good dialogue between the two parties and at the end of that time something will happen.
That is the way my amendment reads. I move it and I trust that the minister might have a change of thought when it comes time to raise his hand.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there any
further comments on this amendment?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The First Deputy Chain: Are there any further amendments to section 5?
Mr Cousens moves that subsection 5(8) of the bill be amended by adding the following thereto:
“(a) If the parties having bargained in good faith have been unable to resolve the issues in the staffing dispute, including the issue of the use of part-time workers, in the 90-day period provided for in subsection 5(8), all unresolved issues in the staffing dispute shall be referred to an arbitrator to be appointed within 48 hours of the expiration of the 90-day period by the Lieutenant Governor in Council upon the advice of the Minister of Labour.
“(b) The arbitrator shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all matters necessary to resolve any and all outstanding issues relating to the staffing dispute, including the issue of the use of part-time workers.
“(c) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint the person who was appointed and served as the fact-finder in the staffing dispute issue to serve as the arbitrator of any unresolved issues related to the staffing dispute.
“(d) The powers and procedures of the arbitrator appointed pursuant to 8a shall be as defined in subsections 4(6) and 4(7) of this act and the process for the replacement of the arbitrator and for the remuneration and payment of the expenses of the arbitrator shall be as defined in subsections 4(4) and 4(8) of this act.
“(e) The arbitrator shall make an award within 60 days after the day of his or her appointment by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
“(f) The award of the arbitrator is final and binding upon the parties and the employees.
“(g) The provisions for the execution and preparation of agreements to give effect to the arbitrator’s award on the staffing dispute issue shall be the same as those provided for in subsections 6(8), 6(9) and 6(10) of this act.”
Any comments on the amendment?
Mr Cousens: I think there are a number of points that are part of this amendment that are really integral to it.
In the first part of our preamble, we are saying that if the parties, having bargained in good faith, have been unable to resolve the issues, there is a recognition there that when you are facing such a large issue as the one now facing both the union, Local 113, and management of the Toronto Transit Commission, there is every possibility that the circumstances surrounding the negotiations as they exist today could continue to be part of the negotiations as they are then. There is a chance for a cooling off process to take place between now and June 30 when the fact-finder’s report is made public and both sides have a chance to work it through, but none the less there is that possibility that the issue will still be as clear in the minds of both sides, that both sides will be as entrenched in their views as they are now, that in fact circumstances might have changed to make one side even more determined than before to fight for what it was fighting for during September 1989.
When the member for Hamilton East was talking a moment ago, I had a sense that there has been a very honest effort on both sides to bargain in good faith, even now, and yet they have been unable to resolve a situation that is just -- they are at loggerheads. They are not able to resolve it by themselves; a mediator has not been able to resolve it; and after this period of time, when the fact-finder has brought it out more and people have thought about it more, l just would hope that there is every reason to believe, as the members opposite have the optimism to believe, they would be able to work out their differences in that period following the receipt of the fact-finder’s report.
I am saying that if in 90 days after that period of time they have not reached that resolution, then even although they have bargained in good faith but they are still not any further ahead on the issue, that means the issue is going to fester and it is going to cause both sides to become more inflamed, more disenchanted, the growing anger that can begin to be part of the relationship between both the union and the management could be something that -- the member opposite has indicated there will not be a slowdown of any kind, although he could not guarantee it -- there would then begin to be a growing sense of a volcano ready to erupt.
When that volcano erupts on 1 July 1991, just shy of 23 months or 22 months away or something, at that time everything will begin to happen and we will be back into the very same kind of thing or worse than we experienced in September 1989.
What we are saying is, yes, I am confident and satisfied that both parties will bargain in good faith and that they have bargained in good faith. Never for a moment has our caucus given any kind of reference or allusion or indication that there has not been good-faith bargaining going on.
Yet what they may well be facing is one of those situations in which there has to be a bringing together of the two sides and an intruder, as they would call it, someone who goes beyond mediation and gets involved in the issue. At that point, we are saying there could well be the need for an arbitrator.
I do not like it any more than anyone else does, but if we do not do it now, we could be faced with the minister sitting across there after 1 July 1991 with another bill that is going to have the TTC all over it, ordering a resolution to this dispute. Though the minister has indicated previously, in response to the previous amendment that was placed, that he would not be doing that, that he does not contemplate it, it is not part of his thinking, I do not think I can sit here and accept that statement as a valid, true situation that would result from his own behaviour during the month of September.
I am satisfied that the minister said he would not and then he did in the latter part of September; I was thinking he could have been involved earlier. Yet now he is saying he will not get involved again. I am trying to save the minister from having to come back and face up to this issue -- and all of us -- by virtue of solving it now.
So here we are. Both sides will have negotiated or bargained in good faith; they are still unable to resolve the dispute, especially the issue of the use of part-timers, in that 90-day period. Then all unresolved issues in the staffing dispute shall be referred to an arbitrator.
It is not as if we have not had arbitration before in Ontario. It would almost seem as if there is a new spirit that says there is something absolutely wrong in having arbitration. I do not think it is the preferable step, I do not put it as my number one hope. I have gone through the steps that have been described by the minister, but I am just in somewhat of a state of surprise that there is not a willingness to look at that as a way of meeting the needs here and in the future. We will then have dealt with the issue.
I keep coming back to it. I know that the people of Toronto are so busy just getting to and from work, getting used to the long time it takes to travel, that they do not really care too much about what we are talking about in the Legislature this afternoon, because the system is running again.
But the fact is that they do not want to have to go through this problem a year and a half or two years from now. So we are giving the minister the authority, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council, within 48 hours of that period of time -- he could even have two years to think of whom it is going to be. It could even be the same person who was involved in the fact-finding, as we have said in this bill, who knows both parties, understands the issues, and then there is not a learning curve for that person to go through.
What we are saying is, “The arbitrator shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all matters necessary to resolve any and all outstanding issues.” That is not any different than the powers that are given to arbitrators in other negotiations. It is really saying at that point to both sides, “We’re sorry to have to do it.” If anyone for a moment thinks I am pleased to come along and say, “Hey, we want to do this, it’s really exciting to shove it down their throats,” that is not the case at all. But we are then in a position to say, okay, someone has to make the determination and in the best interests of all parties -- the two that have been bargaining in good faith but also for the needs and the services of the whole community -- then that issue as it pertains to part-time workers would be resolved.
What we are doing in this amendment is following the kind of thinking that has been part of previous bills, where the Lieutenant Governor in Council can appoint the arbitrator, how he can appoint him, the remuneration of the arbitrator, how the arbitrator then has 60 days after his appointment to come forward with a determination.
If we had taken the time frame we had talked about, 30 June 1990, you have the fact-finder’s report in; you have until 30 September, that is, 90 days for both sides to look at it; then you get to 30 November, the 60 days thereafter; and if necessary, if both sides are still in that circumstance, then we are in a position to have had resolution of it. I think we then have to put into the amendment that the award of the arbitrator is final and binding upon the parties and the employees. Then this issue will have been dealt with.
I fear that there is such a history of negotiations that have gone on with different systems where there has not been that kind of resolution. What happens, as you let it grow and grow and be unresolved for an extended period of time, is that it becomes something -- l hate to bring some of the comparisons, but there are some dandies with the railroad that come to mind that I would rather not draw a comparison to, because I think there are different circumstances there. But what is involved in some of the very large strikes we have had in our country, within the post office and the public service area, is that these issues harden over a period of time, they do not soften. They become more real to the people; the battle they have fought on both sides of the argument. I thought when the member for Hamilton West was talking that he was not taking the side of the union today, and I thought it was just fantastic, that we started to have that kind of --
Mr Mackenzie: Hamilton East.
Mr Cousens: The member for Hamilton East. He has gone further east and to the left and he is doing just fine. The fact of the matter is that he was not in a position to take sides on it. I would hope that both sides under this process will have come up with a resolution.
I have to ask the honourable minister just a couple of points. Is there a precedent here to his decision on this bill not to support arbitration under any circumstances? Is he in a position to say that there is a new policy in his government that has redefined when it will go for arbitration? I would like to know just when and how he would see arbitration as something he would do.
Hon Mr Phillips: Maybe I can respond on several of the points the member raised, just in anticipation of wrapping this up shortly. I would like the member to put a new thought in his mind here, and that is --
Hon Mr Phillips: I would like him to try to put a new thought.
If one goes back to some of the words we have used before, we are looking for a lasting solution. Under the member’s proposed approach, which is one we do not support, it leads it to a binding solution 90 days after 30 June, but if that is a solution that both parties cannot live with, if one of the two parties cannot live with it, we are right back at negotiations, with one party, who cannot live with it, fighting the battle all over again.
So what the member is trying to accomplish with his resolution perhaps has exactly the opposite effect, because if in this part-time issue one side or the other is arbitrated a solution it cannot live with, believe me, it must tackle it and it will tackle it at the next round of negotiations, which begins with the expiration of the collective agreement, 30 June 1991.
So what we are trying to do here is to provide for both parties the most help we can in finding a lasting solution to this, so that we avoid exactly the situation the member is worried about: that is, with the next round of collective bargaining, one side or the other has a resolution it cannot live with on the part-time one.
To go back over that, what we are suggesting here is two years without a slowdown, lockout or strike, two years for both parties to look at this.
The fact-finder’s report comes out 30 June, and they are required to bargain in good faith.
Frankly, I am more optimistic than perhaps some others. As the member for Hamilton East said, and I think quite correctly, think about this: Six weeks ago in Metropolitan Toronto, who had really been aware of the part-time issue? The commission had, the union had, but in terms of the public, if members cast their minds back to papers and reports and things like that, it was not an issue. To the parties it was; now people are aware of it. The fact-finder’s report will be public. The commission is a publicly elected body, a democratically elected body, and it will have that public report to deal with. I think the member for Hamilton East is quite correct: Both sides will find themselves under pressure to come to a resolution on it. But in my opinion, if we were to impose a binding solution on it that one side or the other could not live with, we are just delaying the true resolution of this issue.
To the member’s specific question about when we will impose arbitration and when we will not. I follow those fundamental principles that I outlined right at the very outset; that is, all of us support the collective bargaining process, where it is up to the two parties to resolve their issues. I hope this Legislature never has to become involved in stepping in to pass an act to resolve a dispute between the two parties. I think that is a testimony of, in some respects, failure of the collective bargaining. I will do everything I can to avoid this Legislature having to be involved in it.
I am as reluctant as I can be, at this stage, to be passing a bill, but this government felt we have reached an intolerable situation and we must move on it. But I will be guided by, as I say, those fundamental principles in avoiding, wherever we possibly can, involving ourselves in a legislated solution to a collective bargaining situation.
Mr Cousens: The minister is really saying -- if I can put it in my own words -- that he will get involved with compulsory binding arbitration when he has to; he does not really want to, but he will when he has to. Is that a summary of what he is saying? If that is the case, is he indicating now that he would be prepared, at the expiration of this bill, which is 30 June 1991, to bring forward arbitration powers that would bind both parties together on this issue? If we were then faced with a major impasse in the greater Toronto area, do we have any sense of confidence that he will become involved and will consider how we resolve that issue?
Hon Mr Phillips: Actually, I hope the message is the opposite, that we will look to the parties to resolve these disputes and that I do not anticipate our becoming involved in the dispute. The message from this whole exercise, I hope, to the parties in the province is: Do not look to the province to step in and resolve tough issues for you; we really are not going to do that. That, I hope, is the message.
Mr Cousens: If I had the same crystal ball the Minister of Labour had and if I had the sense of optimism the Minister of Labour exhibits, if I had the sense of not being worried about what can happen with this issue again, I would say that the minister somehow fails to understand the nature of what is happening. I am not happy that there is an unwillingness on the part of the ministry to look at the amendments we are presenting. None the less, in good faith and in a way to have this whole issue put behind the greater Toronto area, we have presented these amendments in the spirit of saying that both sides will have gotten through it; hopefully, they will have settled it by themselves. If they did not, there was a mechanism to bring them together and solve it, and by then there could well be other issues that have to be worked on. So our amendment stands and we will be interested in seeing it voted on.
The Chair: Are there any more comments? Are we ready to vote?
Is it the pleasure of the committee that the motion carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 5 agreed to.
The Chair: Shall sections 6 to 13, inclusive, carry? Sorry.
Mr Cousens: On arbitration, has the minister considered who will be involved. As we are proceeding now, there will be a number of plans that he would have to bring into place to put things into motion. I wondered if he could give us any indication of who will be appointed and when that appointment will be made and just how quickly he sees this going before the Lieutenant Governor for approval. Could he just give me some insight on- what his plans are, especially on the appointment of the arbitrator on this?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am not at liberty to name the arbitrator or fact-finder today. We are fortunate in the province to have several individuals who are quite competent to handle it, and it would be my expectation that once the bill is passed we would move as quickly as we can to designate those individuals.
Mr Cousens: To what degree will the minister continue to be involved? Could he give me a sense of the kind of reporting back to him as it affects the involvement of both the fact-finder and the arbitrator? To what degree will the minister personally be kept informed as to what is going on? How frequently would they be making reports to him? Just in case things develop over the next year, I would like to know his involvement in the information-sharing that comes through his ministry on what they are doing. That is one part of my question.
The second part is the degree to which he will be sharing that information with the Premier (Mr Peterson), so that I would have an indication, in case the minister was out of town and something happened, how much the Premier is kept informed.
Hon Mr Phillips: Again, across the province we are dealing with 3,500 collective agreements. Our objective is to leave it to the two parties to resolve themselves. We are providing a mechanism for this thing to be resolved between the two parties and I do not anticipate myself being involved in it at all.
Mr Cousens: I guess I expected an answer like that.
Mrs E. J. Smith: You’re finally beginning to figure it out.
Mr Cousens: I am finally getting it figured out. There is just one other question I had. Where is it that the minister got the information for the five per cent wage increase as outlined in section 7? Where did he come up with that number?
Hon Mr Phillips: It is customary in a bill such as this to provide for an interim wage settlement pending the arbitrator’s award, and we felt, taking into account the discussions that had taken place between the two parties, that was a fair interim one pending resolution by the two parties with the arbitrator.
Sections 6 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendment.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Phillips moved second reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Deputy Speaker: Would the minister have an opening statement?
Hon Mr Phillips: Yes, I do, Mr Speaker.
This afternoon it was my honour to move that Bill 208, the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, be read a second time. I say it is my honour because Bill 208 is a cornerstone of the government’s progressive legislative program. It is vital that we move forward with it. We are doing that here this afternoon.
We are firm in the government’s commitment to the principles of the bill. We are urging all members to join us in that affirmation and to provide speedy passage so that we can get on with the business of implementing the most progressive workplace health and safety legislation in North America.
As honourable members know, the government places a high priority on the broad social and economic benefits that can be generated by a productive and competitive provincial economy. Productivity and competitiveness depend on workplaces in which health and safety are protected, in which illness and injury are prevented.
In 1988 the workers’ compensation system paid out $1.450 billion in benefits to workers who suffered workplace injury or illness. In addition, over seven million workdays were lost. Based on the average industrial wage, that cost the provincial economy over $700 million. Those facts do not even begin to address the most distressing reality of all, the reality of the 360 men and women who died last year because of work-related causes. In human terms and in economic terms the current costs of workplace illness and injury in Ontario are unacceptable.
Bill 208 seeks to reduce these costs and these human tragedies by strengthening the integrated provincial approach to workplace health and safety that was first enacted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act a decade ago. That act was founded on the central idea that it is the people in the workplace who are in the best position to identify and minimize health and safety risks. It was designed to encourage the active, informed and committed exercise of internal responsibility by employees and by employers, people working together on the shop floor in a constructive and mutually respectful and concerned partnership day in and day out, designed to protect occupational health and safety.
Bill 208 is designed to improve this internal responsibility system in three basic ways: first, by strengthening the employer-employee partnership at both the workplace level and also at the provincial level; second, by ensuring that both employees and employer have the training and education that is necessary to give full effect to their efforts; third, by providing greater authority for that new knowledge and that new training to be applied in the workplace so that risk of accident and disease will be minimized.
The experience of the past decade has shown that where the workplace parties dedicate themselves the internal responsibility system can and does have a major impact on health and safety in the workplace.
Bill 208 contains a number of measures that strengthen and enhance that system. Importantly, it calls for the creation of the new joint employer-employee Workplace Health and Safety Agency to take the lead role in this province in educating and in training workers and employers in effective health and safety practices.
It greatly expands the network of workplace health and safety committees in Ontario and gives the committees, consisting of both employees and employers, greater responsibility for inspecting workplaces and fuller access to information and workplace risks. It provides for much stricter enforcement of the act by workplace parties and by the Ministry of Labour in a number of ways, including, I might add, raising by 20-fold to $500,000 the maximum fine for corporations that contravene the law. It also broadens a worker’s right to refuse work, to include a concern that a work activity such as lifting a heavy object is likely to endanger.
Under the bill, some 20,000 offices and retail outlets which are currently not required to have a joint health and safety committee will be required to establish them. All joint committees will have co-chairs, one representing employees, one representing the employers.
The minimum size of a committee at workplaces with 50 or more employees will rise to four persons. An additional 50,000 workplaces with more than five workers but fewer than 20 will be required to have a worker health and safety representative chosen by the employees.
For the first time, joint health and safety committees will be required on construction projects with a workforce of 20 or more persons where that project is to run for at least three months. A worker health and safety representative will be required on construction projects with five or more employees but fewer than 20.
The bill also provides for worker trade subcommittees on construction projects at which there are joint health and safety committees.
Under the bill, the employers will be required to provide training developed under the new Workplace Health and Safety Agency to members of each joint health and safety committee in this province. Each committee will have at least one specially trained and thus certified employee member and one certified employer member. The effectiveness of both joint health and safety committees and worker representatives will be significantly enhanced once they are armed with this training.
Committee members or worker representatives will therefore have the power to obtain from the employer information about any tests of equipment, machines, biological, chemical or physical agents at the workplace.
In addition, employers will be obligated to respond in writing to any recommendations made by a joint committee or a worker representative within 30 days of receiving them. The reply will have to contain a timetable for implementation or give the reasons for the employer’s disagreement. Employers will be required to share with the committee or worker representative any information the employer has about potential hazards at the workplace or in similar or other industries.
Directors and officers of corporations will have a legislated duty of care to safeguard the occupational health and safety of workers. Employers will have to maintain and provide a written health and safety policy. As my predecessor said when he introduced the bill, our message is clear. All employers are going to have to meet the health and safety standards already exercised, I might add, by many responsible corporations doing business in Ontario.
The mandate of the proposed agency will be to develop and administer health and safety education, engage in research and consultative services, and provide advice to the Minister of Labour.
It will be responsible for overseeing the operation of eight employer safety and accident prevention associations and two occupational health clinics. It will also assume responsibility for overseeing the funding of research and five occupational health and safety resource centres.
The bill will also broaden the powers of Ministry of Labour inspectors. Crown lawyers will be able to require that charges be heard by a provincial court judge instead of a justice of the peace.
These, then, are the major changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that Bill 208 sets out. They offer positive benefits that will go far in enhancing workplace partnerships in health and safety.
Since the introduction of the bill on 24 January of this year, my predecessor and I and ministry staff have met and discussed its principles and content with over 80 groups representing a broad range of workplace parties. There is no doubt that there is widespread agreement among them and widespread support for the principles of forging stronger partnerships of the workplace parties, investing significant new knowledge in that partnership, and building opportunities to use that knowledge to improve workplace health and safety.
While there is support for these fundamental principles which are the cornerstone of Bill 208 and support for most of the provisions that put life to these principles, there is some concern about certain of the specific features. In order to address these concerns and to enhance the workability of this very important step forward in occupational health and safety, I would like to present some changes, and one not a change but an approach to a particularly complex question that will be proposed to the standing committee on resources development after second reading.
This government clearly reaffirms its commitment to the new Workplace Health and Safety Agency and the partnership it builds. It will establish without question new standards of excellence in the development and delivery of health and safety training to the workplaces of Ontario.
As a means of facilitating the building of this partnership and contributing to the excellence of its ultimate product, the government will propose amendments to the committee that would add to the agency a full-time neutral chair. The essential -- and this is important -- bipartite nature of joint accountability and trust in this agency would be threatened if the bill did not require the chair to be selected by the parties and to be accountable to them. There also will be full-time vice-chairs from each of business and labour, as well as four voting members representing the health and safety profession, two nominated by labour and two by business. As well, we would propose a small business advisory committee to assist the board on relevant matters, such as cost-effective means of supporting training for small business.
In order to build an even greater partnership of employers and employees in the design of improved health and safety, Bill 208 will move the existing safety associations and the worker training centres to the aegis of the new agency and will see their boards of directors composed equally of employer and employee representatives.
To address concerns about the degree of self-determination these organizations will retain and to facilitate a smooth transition, I will propose amendments to the committee that allow these organizations to decide on their composition of the board of directors as long as 50 per cent of the representation is from workers employed in that sector.
I also propose to provide for the settlement of disputes, if any, in this regard by an impartial umpire and provide up to two years to make the adjustment.
Bill 208 expands workers’ rights to refuse dangerous work so that dangerous work activities, such as lifting unreasonably heavy loads, may be avoided. The government will propose an amendment to the committee to clarify that this right is directed clearly at avoiding current or immediate dangers.
The long-term ergonomic concerns, such as, for example, repetitive strain, although of equal concern, we suggest will be dealt with more thoroughly by the highly trained health and safety committees.
The bill provides for one of the most ambitious and significant initiatives any jurisdiction has ever undertaken to improve the health and safety of workplaces; that is, the advanced training leading to the certification of one employer and one employee representative of each joint health and safety committee in this province.
In order to ensure that this is done in an efficient, comprehensive and thorough fashion, I would propose changes to the committee that provide for an orderly phasing in of the certification requirements; clarify that the sector-specific training requirements for employer and employee representatives will be identical and that existing training and expertise of candidates will be recognized in the certification and the certificate for certification.
The construction sector represents a unique situation. As I said earlier, we are proposing joint health and safety committees where 20 or more are involved in construction because of the short-term nature of construction projects and the turnover in the workforce as projects progress. As the government creates joint health and safety committees on construction projects, for the first time we will propose several measures to enhance the effectiveness of Bill 208 in the construction sector.
First, we would propose to raise the threshold at which certification is required to 50 workers and a project duration of six months; second, we would establish a joint training board to ensure, importantly, that we have an available pool of certified members in the industry; third, to make the constructor responsible for ensuring that a certified management member is on site, and fourth, to phase in requirements for certified members to allow for a pool of certified members to be developed.
Bill 208 will see a new provision for employers to communicate their workplace health and safety goals and to gain the commitment of their entire workplace by requiring a written policy and program in the workplace. In recognition of the intimate nature of the small workplace and the best communication techniques in these workplaces, it will be proposed to the committee that this requirement be removed from workplaces with fewer than five employees.
There is one aspect of Bill 208 that has raised considerable concern, and that is the provision to stop work. Bill 208 requires that both employer and employee members of the joint health and safety committee be trained and certified in order to ensure that they have a certain standard of knowledge that would allow them to identify and stop dangerous work.
The question of the accountability for such authority is important and it has been argued that a unilateral authority to stop work is perhaps inconsistent with the collaborative nature and accountability of the joint health and safety committees.
These are issues that will have a profound impact on the day-to-day business of Ontario workplaces. They deserve a thorough and public debate. We therefore propose to refer this matter, as well as the bill, of course, to the standing committee on resources development for further discussion and public input.
I must say that we would offer to the committee for its consideration one possible approach to the stop-work issue. We are very mindful of the need to recognize that where the internal responsibility system is working, and an effective partnership to control workplace risks does in fact exist, decisions ideally -- and this is rather fundamental to the bill -- in those cases should be made jointly unless the parties decide otherwise.
However, where the health and safety record and the demonstrated commitment of the employer to sound health and safety practices are unacceptable, alternative approaches should be considered. One approach could be that the health and safety agency could direct that measures be taken to attempt to improve the situation and create an incentive to strengthen the joint responsibility system.
One measure could involve giving both certified members independent authority to stop work in situations of immediate danger. A second measure could involve the assignment of a ministry inspector to the workplace, even up to full time at the employer’s expense, to bring about improvement.
In other words, exceptional measures that presume a work environment other than the one envisioned by Bill 208 would be applied to poor performance.
The Ministry of Labour has been engaged over the last eight months in consultations with employers and employees. They indicate broad support for the bill both in terms of its principles and in terms of much of the content. At the same time, there are some specific features of the bill that do need to be addressed. In view of the widespread support for the substance of the bill, the government is clearly dedicated to it and proceeding now to second reading.
Bill 208 and the possible changes are designed to sustain and enhance the principle of joint responsibility for workplace health and safety. It seeks to improve training and to encourage labour-management partnerships.
Bill 208 will update this province’s occupational health and safety legislation in a timely, practical and unprecedented measure. The bill ensures social benefits in terms of contributing to the health and the safety of the workplace. It also, frankly, contributes economic benefits because the assurance of a safe workplace does encourage productivity and competitiveness.
I look forward to the bill receiving second reading and proceeding to the standing committee for full and open discussion and consideration of this significant initiative, including public hearings.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions or comments on the minister’s statement?
Mr Mackenzie: It is difficult to contain oneself after having heard this great defence of a piece of legislation that the minister has just gutted in one of the most gutless performances I have ever seen in this House.
This is a total betrayal of the labour movement. Although he came in late, the minister had his marching orders, clearly, when he got his appointment about what he had to do with this bill, and we are aware of that. But the minister also knows that there was over a year of negotiations and talks and discussions as a result of the fact that the figures are not going down. The slaughter in the workplace continues and four workers every minute are being injured; one every working day is being killed.
The minister knows an agreement was reached -- it was not perfect -- and in good faith accepted by the trade union movement. There is no question about that. It was a deal that was made by the previous Minister of Labour, and that agreement has now been betrayed.
The labour movement said okay. It was a bottom-line acceptance. They wanted changes. It is not what it should be. It is not anywhere near as good as some of the suggestions that were made in the fight of my colleague Elie Martel and others for the needed safety and health legislation in this province, but they accepted it. They accepted it and then went out and sold it to their members. Then all of a sudden the minister comes in now and kicks the legs right out from under them.
I want to tell the minister that his timing could not have been better. We have an Ontario Federation of Labour convention a month away. I dare the minister to go down and sell this on the floor of that convention. I think he has invited a response that is going to make Bill 162 and anything that happened with it look like child’s play in Ontario.
This is a disgrace. This is a sellout. We will get into the major areas. Every single point the minister has raised, making suggestions to the committee where he has a large majority, are things that labour does not accept and the minister knows it. I think this is a disgrace for this government and what it has done.
Mr Laughren: I rise for one reason, that the bill is going to be referred to the standing committee on resources development and the committee dealt with Bill 162. By the way, the committee worked extremely hard on that bill and held hearings all across the province.
I am very worried about what the response will be when this bill goes to committee for hearings across the province, because there was no question in anybody’s mind out there when Bill 162 was being debated. People were swallowing very hard, the labour movement was swallowing very hard, saying how much they detested Bill 162 but they were very calm in their presentations, very logical, very polite, I must say, to the committee despite their very strong feelings about Bill 162, and they made very intelligent, very cogent briefs all across the province.
Now that Bill 162 has passed and the committee has done its work for the government, this bill now comes in. There is no question in a lot of people’s minds that this bill originally was to compensate for some of the problems of Bill 162. The labour movement could not stand Bill 162, but they swallowed hard. The former minister was quoted on more than one occasion as saying, “If you want Bill 208, you better accept Bill 162, the workers’ compensation bill.” What a betrayal that was to have held out to the workers of this province that, all right, they were going to have to swallow hard and accept Bill 162, but: “Do not worry. Better things are down the road. It is called Bill 208, an amendment to the occupational health legislation and to the Workers’ Compensation Board.”
It is a very sad moment for me as I anticipate the thought of taking this bill across the province and having those representations all over again.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the minister wish to respond?
Hon Mr Phillips: Actually, I do, Mr Speaker.
I think it is extremely important that one review exactly what I said. The member may have written his notes before he heard me speak. This is proceeding with the bill. When he talks about gutting it, I do not think he could have listened to what I said.
I do look forward to the debate here. I frankly look forward to the public hearings. Actually, this is an issue that I hope in the end can be rather a bipartisan issue. I think health and safety in the workplace is in all our best interests. I hope we do not end up with a feeling that we do not all share exactly the same goal. The proposals we are making, contrary to gutting the bill, in fact sustain the bill, move forward with what will be seen, as we look at it and debate it, as the most progressive piece of health and safety legislation in North America.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Mackenzie: What the minister has done, in a nutshell, is to have taken the issue that has given us problems for a good many years -- it was the beginning and the first major issue where there was an agreement reached by, I might say, business -- that seems to get sidetracked -- by labour and by the previous minister and the ministry, I take it, saying that we will have a bipartite board, which is a gamble in itself because you have an equal deal then between the unions and business.
They were willing to buy that. That in itself was an act of faith and courage because it means they are one on one in terms of the management people they face. Some of the major companies know and knew that the slaughter we have in the workplace in Canada cannot continue, that the kind of record we have is a poor one.
It always makes me laugh when I look at the Somervilles, the Bullochs and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and some of the small contractors who raise hell with our desire to have some say in a safer and healthier workplace in this province. That was a fundamental part of the recommendation and what the minister is now saying, even though that was probably the first and almost the most fundamental first recommendation that was accepted and on that basis the labour movement sold it, is, “We have to have a third, a tripartite deal.” They will not accept it and the minister knows they will not accept it. He knows that very, very well. He says also --
Hon Mr Phillips: The member was not listening to what I said.
Mr Mackenzie: The minister is making these recommendations. Let me put it in some perspective then. These are suggestions he is making to a committee. Let me tell him that I do not trust for one second a committee that is composed of a majority of Liberals. We saw that with Bill 162. Does the minister think he is going to make these suggestions and then have us have any confidence or faith that when we get into a committee of 11 members with seven Liberals, those recommendations are not likely to carry? They did not listen to a darned thing on Bill 162.
On the stop-work --
Hon Mr Phillips: The member must have written this ahead of time.
Mr Mackenzie: No, I have not. I know of some of the discussions that have gone on recently.
On the stop-work, the minister is saying, in a nutshell, that if a company has got a good work record we do not need the kind of stop-work provisions we have. He is also saying that we do not need a stop-work right in terms of work activity, but that is fundamental in terms of any of the problems we have had, particularly with back problems, in the workplace. The minister is saying that we will change what we had here in terms of employers who are not quite as up-to-date or quite as good. He is really shafting the construction workers, because once you set the target as 50 and six months, you have eliminated one heck of a lot of mandatory safety committees on the job site. That is a total betrayal.
Do members know what it tells us? It tells us very clearly that he who pays the piper obviously calls the tune. It is easy to see the kinds of pressures that went on, particularly with the Premier (Mr Peterson) of this province. He was so doggoned deep in the pockets of business and the contractors in this province that if he were human he would have choked to death on the lint in their pockets. He gave the minister his marching orders, and that is clear.
We also know that the minister was called -- he has verified every word of it here -- when he got his ministry appointment and told that a deal had to be cut, and as quickly as possible, on Bill 208. He has obviously done it. Why then is every suggested change he has made, every suggestion he is handing on to the committee as Minister of Labour, rejected by labour? Rejected by labour. Once again, he knows it. This just boggles my mind.
I expected it. Indeed, I was interviewed by reporters and told them I expected a bit of a backoff. I never, never expected the sweeping nature of the undermining the minister has done to this bill.
Hon Mr Phillips: The member was not listening to what I said.
Mr Mackenzie: Are these not suggestions he is making to the committee to consider? Does he think that does not have any influence? Does he think we are crazy?
I think there are a number of things that should be said. Obviously, our analysis was dead on. What the minister has done indicates a backoff from Bill 208. The deal that was accepted was one where the labour movement put its position on the line with its own members. Many of them and many unions did not think it was strong enough and felt that it had to be stronger than was there, especially when you looked at the kinds of bill we had been discussing, as I said, when my colleague Elie Martel was in this House. But we did accept it. They accepted it and they did the job of selling it to their members. When I said the minister has kicked the legs out from under them, that is exactly what he has done. They feel that way. The minister can shake his head all he wants, but he is going to hear plenty in coming days over this issue.
I have real difficulty in understanding how the minister can agree to make suggestions that he knows darned well, with the majority the government has on that committee, will follow through when we have the deaths reported here: 1985, 199 deaths, 426,880 accidents in Ontario; 1986, 208 deaths, 442,080 accidents in Ontario; 1987, 238 deaths, 469,000-plus accidents -- I might say, in all these figures, total reported accidents -- 1988, 293 deaths, 489,000 accidents; up until August, 187 deaths this year and 319,000 accidents -- just up until August, almost one worker killed every working day and four injured.
I was wrong. It is even worse than I said: Four workers injured every single working minute in Ontario. This is what business is saying is good enough, or because we have finally achieved this bill, or thought we had achieved it -- then we had reason to wonder after the Bill 162 hassle -- but took the minister at good faith.
I had the previous Minister of Labour tell me this was it, not to be so sceptical, not to worry, when I asked him what kind of a backoff we were going to get. I do not know whether that is why he is or is not the current minister, but I know he was asked to jump and what he said to the Premier of the province was, “How high can I jump?” That is exactly what he has done.
He also knew, from meetings he had, what the position of the trade union movement was and how much they had gone out on the line to sell what they figured was a deal, an agreement that had been reached with this Liberal government in Ontario.
Anybody who trusts a Liberal in Ontario is out of his cotton-picking mind when it comes to any kind of an agreement in terms of workers or health and safety in the workplace, and that had better be very, very clear.
Mr Dietsch: Get serious.
Mr Mackenzie: He is darned right it is serious and I think workers are going to know that.
Bill 208 was a step forward in reducing the toll, and as I say, a step forward that some people did not accept and some people thought was not good enough. Watering down the bill is a step backwards. It is a really sad day in this province.
I think it is even worth going to a recent newspaper article on Bill 208 in the Toronto Star, 28 September 1989, complete with very usable quotes from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), and from the Hansard for 4 July 1989, where that minister says, “I make no apology for being the champion of business.”
I can accept that -- he is the minister of industry -- but it is also obvious that he has led the way in many of the discussions and has publicly gone on record as being opposed to Bill 208. What is also obvious is that he is not only the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in this province; he is also the minister who is effectively calling the shots for what happens to labour. I do not know where that leaves this minister, a pretty pathetic example of a Minister of Labour in Ontario.
I think the quotes should be there. What did the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology say about this bill and in not hiding his opposition to the legislation? “‘We had a breakdown in communication’ when cabinet approved the legislation, Industry and Trade Minister Monte Kwinter told the Star in a recent interview. ‘We were led to believe there had been consultation (with business) and that they were on side.’”
I was not part of the consultations. I cannot tell members everything that went on in those consultations, but that is not accurate in itself because there were consultations over almost a year. It is true that probably there was more agreement with some of the bigger firms that understood they could not be on the firing line daily with the death and injury of workers in Ontario and that something had to be done to respond to this issue, but there was consultation and the minister was not telling the truth when he said there was no consultation.
I am going on to another direct quote from his interview. “We have a window of opportunity, with a new minister who can bring in a fresh, unbiased approach....” I guess that simply says the approach of the former Minister of Labour in the negotiations that had gone on, the deal that had been made with the trade union movement, was not a fair one. Are we now going to have an unbiased approach from this new minister? No, what it says very clearly is that this new minister got his marching orders and he literally did say, when the Premier said, “Hey, cut a deal,” “How high do I jump?” “‘...bring in a fresh, unbiased approach,’ since he is not the author of the legislation, Kwinter said.”
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): I do not want to interrupt the member’s speech and I do not think he quite meant it. Most of what he has had to say in the last little while has been pretty close to the edge. He went over it just once and I would ask him to retract just one statement he made about a member not telling the truth. If he could do that, then I think we could proceed.
Mr Mackenzie: I retract the statement that he did not tell the truth. I will just simply repeat what he said here in his actual comments. “‘We had a breakdown in communication’ when cabinet approved the legislation, Industry and Trade Minister Monte Kwinter told the Star in a recent interview. ‘We were led to believe there had been consultation (with business) and that they were on side.’” There was consultation, so members can take it any way they like in this House. “‘We’re at the forefront in North America.... We have to take a look at whether it will impact on our competitiveness.’”
Added to the other things he said, what has clearly been said is that workers’ injuries and workers’ death in the workplace are acceptable if the contrary argument is that it might interfere with our competitiveness in the marketplace, and that is a sad and sick commentary. It is particularly sad and sick in view of the kinds of figures we have in this province and the fact that it has not been business at any stage of the game that has led the fight to improve safety and health legislation in Ontario.
He also went on to say, “I’ve not seen an issue that’s drawn concerted opposition from the business community as has Bill 208.” Is there any doubt what that means in anybody’s mind? Is there any doubt whatsoever that who is calling the shot is the business community? I want to go back to a few comments that were made by my colleague, the chairman of the resources committee.
We were dealing with Bill 162. There are few bills that both labour and injured workers’ groups and community clinics across this province were unhappier with and saw as a bigger threat to their workers in the future, and they made darn good presentations. They backed them up with arguments and facts in many cases. They pleaded, I would say come close in a couple of cases, witnesses before that committee, to begging. Did this government listen to workers? I want to make this comparison because I think it is vital to all of us in the House. Did this government listen to workers on that committee? They sure as blazes did not.
We were sitting back, interested, and wondering exactly what was going to happen when we had the business community mounting the same kind of lobby. Would this government listen to the business community or would it react the same way it did in terms of the workers’ requests and complaints? We now have the answer. They have listened to the business community and they have moved, or at least suggested they are prepared to look at changes or amendments in the main areas that bothered the business community, and the main areas, I might say, that bothered the construction industry and the developers who have been among the foremost in the battle against this legislation. It is very obvious.
We have known, through a number of things that happened in this House, of the kind of influence the developers and the contractors have with this government. It is obvious that this government is willing to pay the price, because that is exactly what it has done. It has listened to their arguments. It has said, “Hey, we value your contributions at election time or otherwise and the kind of influence you have in the community a heck of a lot more than we value a fight of workers, even where we’ve made a commitment to the safety and health of workers in Ontario.” I think it is an absolute and total disgrace for this government.
In Hansard, 4 July 1989, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology: “This is a bill” -- referring to Bill 208 again – “as I said earlier, that cuts across the total economy. As the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I make no apology for being the champion of business. I make no apology for that at all.”
As I said earlier, I could accept that on the one score alone, but he has been one of those, we know, in the meetings that have been held who has been leading the fight in the opposition to this legislation. I simply say, who has the influence? Who has the integrity? Who speaks for labour? I think we should nominate the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology so at least it is all out in the open, as not only minister of industry but Minister of Labour.
We are certainly not getting any defence of key issues from the new minister who has been appointed. Why did this new minister not have the guts for once to say: “Hey, we did make a commitment. We did make a deal here.” Is that why the previous minister is out? Is that why he is in? That certainly is one of the popular stories around this place. While I was not sure of it to begin with, what I am seeing now clearly indicates that there was more truth than fiction to that argument.
Why did the minister destroy the trust of workers? Why did he kick the feet out from under them? He knows himself, and he knows it well, that that is exactly how they feel right now. Why did he do it when he had made a commitment and sent them out to do the job of selling this particular piece of legislation? I am being blunt with him, but I think that is what is needed, and honesty as well, and that is what he is getting. I just wish we would get some of it back from this government. I wish when we get a commitment -- we have got an awful lot of them that have not been worth the powder to blow them to hell -- from this government, as we did in this legislation, for once it would have the intestinal fortitude to stick with it.
If the government thinks it is going to get away with this kind of sellout easily -- it has the numbers; I suppose it might jam it through -- it is turning an awful lot of groups in this society against it. The polls may be riding fairly high at the moment, but sooner or later what it is doing is going to get through to those groups. I can tell the government, in one fell swoop it has declared war on the trade union movement in Ontario, and by God it is going to hear about it,
I invite all the Liberals here, including those who say, “Ah, nuts,” to parade down in a month’s time to the Ontario Federation of Labour convention and ask to be heard on the issue. I invite them. I will even go down with them at the time. I will tell them what will happen very clearly: the convention will boo them right out of the hall, it will blow them out of the hall, and that is deserved.
There will be a lot more acceptance and understanding and trust and belief and agreement with the remarks I am making than there will ever again be with this particular Minister of Labour. He has blown his credibility in one single move in Ontario.
We talk about the safety and health problems we are facing. We did not get enough questions on today or one of the ones that would have been on the floor today is, “What does the minister know and what can he tell us about the Lakeview generating station in Lakeshore?” Why is it that there have been work closures, work refusals there over the last week? Why were the workers who were called in to do a $1.1-billion refit in that plant not told that there was arsenic, silica and asbestos in there? Why was there as much as half an inch of dust in some parts of the plant on level surfaces?
Why was it not vacuumed first? Why was there not a containment area for the construction workers going in on a very major construction project where obviously they are going to disturb the dust and all of these materials? Why were they not told about this to start with? Why was there no containment? Why did they have to go on work refusals? Why do we have the ministry saying that because only 10 of the 20 tests taken so far show asbestos, and because they are small amounts, it really does not count? Why was an order issued, just three days ago, that every worker in that plant had to wear a respirator and not enforced? Because Hydro said they did not have 300 available for the 300 workers. Why, the next day, was that order rescinded?
That is one of the questions that should have been on today. Does the minister think we have an improvement in the health and safety problems in Ontario? We have a daily continuation of threats to workers. I would also like the minister to say what he figures is an acceptable standard in terms of asbestos. I will say that one particle is too much in terms of asbestos, because people react differently. Johns Manville can tell him. What is it, 60 or 70 per cent of the entire workforce there have suffered the results, now long gone, and we still to this day have them coming into our offices.
We have not begun to accept in a hard-core way the fact that when we have a problem we have to move and we have to move with some decisiveness. It is up to the workers to do it, and this bill will not do it with the weakness in it that the minister is incorporating. It is just very difficult to understand.
The construction industry: Really, at the Scotia Tower, the Scotia operation, building it took the death of two workers to ensure that we were going to have the proper kind of coverage. We had it at the SkyDome finally. But how many construction sites really have the mandatory health and safety committees? Of course, the legislation was so broad that it was difficult.
Why has the minister even suggested under these circumstances an increase to 50 from 20 and to six months from three months? Why has he even begun to suggest that? He has really kicked the construction workers of this province in the guts. I have not talked to them yet, but I will be very surprised if he does not hear, and hear in spades, on that particular issue as well.
One might say, I guess, that the influence of the Tridels is obvious on this particular government. They are the kind of people who were squawking about this legislation and they are the kind of people the minister listened to when he decided he was going to recommend that:
“Hey, we had better do exactly what all of these people want who are calling Premier David Peterson and saying, ‘Hey, you know, you’re interfering with business. You might have workers on closures and walkouts that are uncalled for, that are not responsible. You’ve got to stop this. You’re giving the unions power. It will result in more union organization’” -- a facetious argument if I ever heard one – “‘These are all things that give us problems we can’t live with. Because of this, you’ve got to do something about the right to refuse, you’ve got to do something about the committees in terms of construction sites, you’ve got to do something about giving them the bipartite control of this whole thing.’”
The minister is going to add people to the committees, maybe nonunion people. Why has the minister made these moves? Who supports them? I want to ask him, once again -- we tried to do this and did not get anywhere in the Bill 162 fight -- to name me one single labour leader, one single labour group that supports the kinds of suggestions he has made.
Almost every single business group in this province supports what he is suggesting to the committee, and it is obvious that the Liberal Party of Ontario is right in the pockets of the business interests in this particular province.
Hon Mr Phillips: That’s nonsense, totally nonsense.
Mr Mackenzie: That is not nonsense. It is obvious by the minister’s actions, and by his actions he will be judged. That is exactly what has happened in this province.
When I think of the statements that I read earlier by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, forgive me, but I am tempted to say what we have are the comments of the champion exercising his belief and his role -- and he does not apologize for it -- in protecting business. What we are getting from the minister are the actions of the chump. That is exactly it: a champion for business, a chump for labour in Ontario.
I do not know if this government also realizes that there is another issue that is at stake here. I think the public in Ontario has finally cottoned to the fact that if we have one major issue that we as responsible politicians, all of us, have to look at and have to deal with, it is the environment. I think it affects the future not only of us, but certainly of our children. It concerns me if it does not concern the minister, and I suspect it does concern most members of this House. I do not know what I am leaving for my six kids and their families. It affects the future of our planet. We may have reached, as many prominent individuals in our society say, a point where we are very close to the point of no return.
I ask the Liberal members who are gutting or helping to gut or suggesting amendments that will help to gut this bill, who are more on the firing line, are more proponents of what is needed in terms of the environment than workers on the job? Who are the front-line troops where we are dealing with the questions, which we have never solved in this country, of the toxic substances, where we are dealing with safety and health, where we are dealing with work activities -- which the Liberals are now helping to gut as well -- that have something to do with whether or not you really have a chance to fight things like back strain and repetitive lifting? Who are more the front-line troops than workers in Ontario?
I want to say that it is the front-line troops who have suffered, and they have. If you look at the asbestos workers, it is more obvious there probably than any other occupation. But look at workers in the steel mills and the auto mill workers, the workers who have suffered from isocyanates sensitization that five years ago we were arguing was not a problem or did not exist. When you look at workers in the forefront of the fight, there are workers who have led the health and safety fight in their local unions and in Ontario, and they have been pioneers.
We did not get Bill 170, we did not get the health and safety legislation, we did not get the Ham commission because of any action of companies. Well, that is not quite true. We had a record, particularly in the mines, of deaths and injuries that was appalling and nothing was being done to correct it in spite of the best efforts of the workers’ representatives and the unions.
But those workers argued and fought to expose what was happening to workers on the job and they had, in the latter years, a very good champion here in the House in Stephen Lewis. Of course, one of the things they got was the Ham commission, which set the first ground rules. We broadened that, through a long fight in this House and some good people who worked hard at it, into the current legislation. We were trying to broaden it further, and we even got to second reading on the bill that my colleague Elie Martel moved, but we could never get it through, and of course elections interfered.
Finally, one of the accord items was that this government would move in terms of dramatic improvements. I think that is what was expected in terms of safety and health legislation in Ontario. The government took a long time. It did not come early. It did not come during the two years or year and a half of the initial accord period. But finally, as a result of the meetings between business, labour and the Ministry of Labour people, there were serious talks, and Bill 208 is what came out of those discussions. They were not easy, I can tell members. I have talked to some of the people, on the labour side admittedly, who sat in on the talks, but they told us some of the arguments they were getting across the board.
So we had a commitment. The final commitment -- and there is no question about this, which is why I am so discouraged and disgusted with the current Minister of Labour -- from the previous Minister of Labour, who is the member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara), was that: “Okay. This is the deal we finally struck. This is the bill we’re going to run with. Will you people sell it?” I think he knew there were some problems selling it.
I have sat in at a couple of meetings. I have had some of the representations from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and a number of other unions that have serious questions about whether or not the bill goes far enough. What was sold finally -- and they had to take it to a vote of the heads of all unions in Ontario as well -- as a bottom line, as the compromise was Bill 208. The minister knows that and knows it clearly. On at least two occasions he has had it outlined to him in no uncertain terms.
That was the deal that was sold to us. “Will you accept it?” “We will.” “Will you go out and sell your members?” “We will.” They did. And now all of a sudden that deal, which they thought was consummated, has had the props or the legs, as I said earlier, kicked right out from under it by what is obviously a betrayal by this minister and this government.
That is why I say I do not know how anybody -- we should have had enough evidence, whether it was free trade or the better and cheaper auto insurance plan or a dozen other issues or the fact that, “It’s going to be revenue-neutral and not hurt you on Bill 162,” which is a crock. We should have been aware. We should not have had any questions in our mind now on a bill -- let me tell all members so they understand it in this House -- that is a heck of a lot more important than Bill 162 was, and that was a key bill for working people in this province, a heck of a lot more important.
It is the most important legislation we have faced on an issue, as I said, that ties into the whole environment and where you start with the shock troops, the workers on the plant floors and in the shops where they are using chemicals that, up until recently, were never identified. To this day, they are having trouble in plants -- I get letters almost weekly -- in identifying the toxic materials, even under the workplace hazardous materials information system legislation, and are not always getting co-operation from the companies.
Up until this day we now have this broad environmental issue which, I am sure, the people of Ontario understand and are supportive of. We have the front-line troops who have led the fight in terms of trying to put in place legislation that means something and gives some real rights to workers -- incidentally, rights that workers do not misuse.
There is not a record of frivolous use of the right to refuse work. There is no record of that whatsoever, a heck of a lot less record of that than there is of companies refusing to act when they have had orders issued by the ministry. Workers do not misuse what rights they are given. Who is better able and knows better what is needed in terms of safety and health in the workplace? Who has trained most of the safety and health people? It has not been the companies.
Admittedly, the unions jumped in first, but they have done an amazing job, the OFL in particular, in selling training programs of several weeks’ duration to workers. In many cases, management people have joined in as well. Not only did they take the lead in trying to provide us with protection in the workplace, they have taken the lead in terms of the kind of training and the kind of education that workers and safety and health reps and committees need. This has been their role, and they are responsible, and they are responsible for their members.
Let me tell members, when they were so -- “upset” is not the word; they are upset now -- determined that the bipartite route was the way to go, with two full-time chairmen and not be tied down with the problems they have had with the tripartite route, and all of a sudden this is cut right out from under them, you wonder why they have really fought the kind of fight they have. This is not going to stop them.
Hon Mr Phillips: It hasn’t.
Mr Mackenzie: The minister had better understand what he is opening up now. If he thinks there have been problems with closures because of safety and health problems and contract talks and disputes before, he ain’t seen nothing yet, because now the demand, in terms of negotiations, is going to tie up an awful lot of the time and an awful lot of the industry in this province.
I think it was right for them to expect not running everything but the broad guidelines, which really are what Bill 208 is all about, should be the guidelines and the rules that they operate under. I think it would have been a lot easier. I think it would have been more efficient in terms of business, more responsible in terms of business and workers and given us an awful lot less problems in Ontario if that had been the route we went. But it is not the route this minister has gone. What he has decided to do, yet once again, is listen to the pleading of business and say:
“Okay boys, you said jump. How high?”
That is exactly what has happened. I have not got any confidence whatsoever in this minister, I have no confidence whatsoever in this government and I think it is doing a disservice to the whole environmental movement right across this country. I think it is making a fool of itself in terms of trying to say that it has any real commitment to the environment. As I say, it is cutting the guts out of it at the working level and the front-line troop level in terms of most of our problems. The government is obviously not doing what it should do in the broader areas of public concern, whether it is our water or our lakes or acid rain, but it sure as blazes, where it had a role it could have played with workers, has fallen far short.
There are a dozen and one things, including an actual description of what has happened to sections of this bill, that I wanted to cover, but I confess to this whole House that I doubt if I have ever been angrier or more disappointed or more totally cheesed off with a bunch of gutless politicians in my life than I have here today.
I think the government will at least get an understanding of how strongly I feel, how strongly my party feels and how strongly I know the labour movement feels about its betrayal. I think it will be well outlined in the days and weeks to come.
I hope that every Liberal member here is marching down to that OFL convention. We will introduce them all personally, I will guarantee them, at that convention and give the convention a chance to ask why they have done it to us.
Mr Laughren: I wanted to commend my good friend and colleague the member for Hamilton East for a very stirring speech. As a matter of fact, he even stirred some of the members opposite to interject.
I hope the members of the governing party will listen carefully to my colleague, because when he told them that there was a sense in the labour movement of betrayal, he was not exaggerating. He is telling it like it is, and while members may not want to believe that, that is exactly what the feeling is out there.
I think members should know -- they probably already do, but perhaps some of them do not -- that when the cabinet shuffle occurred the immediate rumour throughout the province, anybody interested in labour legislation, was that Bill 208 was in trouble, that the previous minister could not back down on it, that he had made too many promises, too many commitments and that therefore he could not be asked to water down the bill. Somebody else would have to be asked. That was immediate upon the cabinet shuffle. I can only assume that those rumours are now coming to fruition and that what they predicted is what we see today.
It is fine for the minister to sit in his place and interject that we are wringing our hands needlessly and that we are angry needlessly and that the bill is not being watered down the way we think it is, but I can tell him we need a lot more reassurances than we have had at this point, because there are statements in the minister’s speech this afternoon on the beginning of second reading that are very worrisome. When I look at them, they sure tell me there are some amendments to be proposed to the standing committee. I do not think there is a sense out there that those amendments are going to strengthen the bill but, on the contrary, that those amendments will probably weaken the bill. That is why there is so much distrust at this point.
Mr McGuigan: As a member of the standing committee on resources development, which held hearings all across the province on Bill 162, I have various concerns about the tone or the way this thing has been accepted.
I respect the member for Hamilton East for his concern about injured workers, and I respect his commitment to guarding injured workers, but I think his remarks tend to poison the atmosphere in what is going to be a very deep, subtle and close look at this bill in hearings across the province.
I guess I can understand why flags might go up among members of the party that claims that it represents labour to the exclusion of all other parties, but I think to jump to the assumption that all these terrible things are going to happen is --
Mr D. S. Cooke: They’re in the minister’s statement.
Mr McGuigan: They are going to look at certain aspects of it, but these things have not happened to this point. To poison the atmosphere and prevent honest negotiations by people of goodwill, I do not think really does a service to this Legislature or to the labour movement, because many of us on this side are as committed as the member is to seeing a proper, working bill. I just wish that such inflammatory remarks had not been made.
Mr Philip: I do not want to be inflammatory. I just want to quote the minister back to the House and ask the member for Hamilton East, or any other member, to comment.
My understanding was that the negotiations resulted, at least under the member for York Centre, the former minister, in a bipartite agreement. Now I look at the words of the new minister, on page 5, where he says, “As a means of facilitating the building of this partnership and contributing to the excellence of its ultimate product, the government will propose amendments to the committee that would add to the agency a full-time, neutral chair.” It seems to me that has changed the nature from a bipartite agreement to a tripartite agreement, and if that is not backpedalling, then I would like an explanation of why it is not.
It seems to me clearly that what we have had is a series of negotiations, negotiations that were at many times fragile, negotiations that were certainly heated, negotiations that were based on a lot of give and take on both sides, and that the former minister managed, in the case of the original Bill 208, to negotiate his way through and feel that he had an agreement. That was certainly the understanding of the labour movement, which would not accept everything but was willing to accept some things in exchange for the payoffs from others.
Now we are faced with a statement that clearly indicates the nature of that agreement has been breached. If that is not a breach, as spelled out on page 5 of the minister’s statement, then I would certainly like to hear why it is not a breach.
Mr Haggerty: Perhaps I have been provoked into some discussion on this bill this afternoon. I support the principles of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act. I stand up on this side of the House to say that yes, I am an advocate of perhaps one of the most important human resources in the province of Ontario, that is, workers in the workplace. I have always taken that position.
I have one concern and I am going to direct some questions on it to the minister; it relates to sections 4 and 6 of the explanatory notes in the bill. Section 6 says the amendment “will create a Workplace Health and Safety Agency” --
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I do not mean to interrupt, but this section is devoted to comments and questions towards the previous speech. If you want to participate in the debate, we can proceed later.
I believe the time has expired. The member for Hamilton East does not appear to want to respond. Further debate? Then the member for Niagara South may proceed.
Mr Haggerty: Then it goes on to say that the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety is abolished. That is one of my concerns about the bill.
Members have read the latest document, the 11th annual report of the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety for the period from 1 April 1988 to 31 March 1989. It goes on to list its members. It covers every sector of industry and every specialist, one might say, in the area of occupational health. There are professors there from the University of Waterloo.
The chairman of the council is D. R. McCalla of McMaster University. I have had occasion to write a number of letters to Dr McCalla on health-related problems in the workplace representing constituents in my area.
I was interested in the general issues section of advisory memorandum 88-I, where he states:
“In its consideration of the fundamental principles underlying the administration of the act, council noted that the act appears to have two thrusts, viz self-regulation in the form of the internal responsibility system, and legal compulsion through enforcement of government legislation and regulations. While not mutually exclusive, these represent two alternative approaches for determining and auditing conditions and standards of occupational health and safety: one primarily within the workplace, the other more dependent on government.”
He goes on and refers to “internal responsibility, as described in the Ham report.” As everybody knows, Dr Ham is the one responsible for bringing forward the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the province, one of the major recommendations following a royal commission study of occupational health in the mining sector of Ontario. It was an exceptionally fine and good report with many good recommendations. He has also followed that in this report here and goes on to say:
“The act gives workers only limited resources and authority to enable them to participate in the system intended to protect them. Although there is a requirement in the act for certain workplaces to have joint health and safety committees, internal responsibility is not specifically mentioned in the act. Further, it is unclear whether the joint health and safety committee is to be internal or external to the responsibility system that was described by Ham for the local work processes and whether the joint committees are considered to have a direct or contributive responsibility, if the committees are intended to be a fundamental component of the IRS for the purposes of protecting health and safety in the workplace, it appears inconsistent and inequitable to exempt the majority of workplaces in the province from the requirement to have a committee. If, as indicated by the provisions for committees to inspect and investigate, joint committees are intended to help maintain standards, they need effective means of enforcement. Further, if joint committees are to supplement and/or facilitate the processes of the existing responsibility system, and, if the committees are mandated, their rights and responsibilities should also be mandated.”
In talking about Bill 106, I guess, he goes on to say:
“The two thrusts of the legislation also appear to present the government inspectors with the difficulty of choosing between the role of a facilitator of internal responsibility, helping the workplace parties to resolve disputes, and the role of a strict enforcer of legal standards.
“Council considers that if the occupational health and safety system in Ontario is to be improved, it is essential that a determination be made about the relative emphasis to be given to the two approaches (self-regulation and legal compulsion). Whatever determination is made, it should be made clear in the act; and, at the same time, it will be necessary to ensure that the parties have appropriate tools to make the system work. Suitable education and training and appropriate responsibilities and authority must be included as important among these tools.”
I think you will find that in the section on certification, in the qualifications for a person to be a member of that committee.
“Although committees currently consist of representatives of both management and workers, there is no requirement for management to respond to, let alone act on, committee recommendations. Council recognizes that assignment of increased responsibilities to joint health and safety committees would be seen by many employees as a ‘loss of power’ and is, therefore, controversial.” We are heading into that now. “Although council identifies some basic duties that it considers the committee should have, it suggests that the detailed prescription of the powers required to perform these duties to be the subject of genuine consultation with management and labour. Council stresses that the workplace parties should, together, discuss their experiences and strive toward a consensus on the approach that should be pursued. Through a similar process the parties should be involved in determining the modifications needed to make the act effective in achieving its objectives.”
There are some good points he raises here. He goes on to say -- I am bypassing some of the comments in here.
“Recommendation 88-1: Council considers that the act should specify the fundamental principles, duties and responsibilities of the various parties and should apply to all workplaces.
“It is recognized that, in some cases, the basic requirements will present difficulties and that these difficulties may be common for certain sectors. However, council stressed the importance of having the same basic requirements and standard of protection for all workers enshrined in the legislation. It is council’s view that the act should include the standards, principles and objectives, and be the enabling legislation for specific regulations, ie, details of how to apply the principles and what is needed to attain the objectives that would have to be worked out among the affected parties representing each sector or group that is considered to have specific needs. Such sectors might include: construction, transportation, agriculture and, possibly, groupings such as small business. Council notes that the government has the power to exempt certain specific classes and to specify exceptional circumstances by, or in, regulations.”
He goes on: “Recommendation 88-2: that the act be simplified, setting out basic rights, responsibilities and duties applicable to all, and providing for the Lieutenant Governor in Council, following the appropriate consultative process, to make regulations to deal with specific details for the various sectors.
“Recommendation 88-4: that, unless otherwise prescribed, all workplaces in which the number of employees does not exceed 10 be required to have a worker health and safety representative; and
“that, unless otherwise prescribed, all workplaces in which the number of employees regularly exceeds 10 be required to have joint health and safety committees with two co-chairpersons; one representing management and one representing workers.”
It goes on to “Prevention Programs,” and that is something, I must admit, that I cannot see quite clearly, in the proposed act or amendments to the act.
“Recommendation 88-5: that there be, in the act, a requirement for each workplace to have a written prevention program with the objective of preventing occupational injury and illness”;
I would suggest to the members of the Legislature that if they want to see something that might be considered a hazard, they should go down to the print shops within this building and see the toxic chemicals that are down there that are considered carcinogenic.
“that the fundamental components of the program be specified in regulation;
“that the education and training be an essential component of the program;
“that the prevention program be developed for each workplace through a process involving the affected parties;
“that there be a requirement for the program to be approved by the joint health and safety committee;
“that it be the duty of the worker to work in compliance with the program;
“that it is the duty of the employer to be in compliance with the program;
“that committees have the power to inspect, enforce and ensure compliance with the program;
“that there be a provision for an appeal to the minister to resolve
“disputes within joint health and safety committees or between committees and management and/or workers; and
“that the prevention program include the type or nature of work
“and the requirements of the written work procedures as well as the physical conditions at the workplace.”
I guess I can continue with some of the recommendations that I thought would be of interest to the members of the committee.
“Recommendation 88-9: that appeals against either inspectors’ or directors’ orders should be heard by a body that is independent of the Ministry of Labour (eg, the Ontario Labour Relations Board or other such body or organization).
“It is a fundamental principle of natural justice that the adjudicator of a dispute or an appeal be independent of either party to the dispute. Council considers that there should be provision for an appeal to the ministry in cases of disputes within the workplace, both for disputes within a joint health and safety committee and where employees or workers consider that they are aggrieved by a decision of the committee. Council considers that such a system would simplify the process, decrease the chance of bias, be more likely to provide a fair, equitable resolution and stimulate the affected parties to resolve the dispute in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties.”
It goes on: “Right to Refuse: As noted earlier, council considers that the basic rights and responsibilities enshrined in the act should apply to all. The right to refuse is a fundamental right that should apply to all workers, as should the qualifications that limit that right.
“Recommendation 88-10: That the act be simplified so that a worker may refuse any work activity where he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that his or her health or safety or the health or safety of another person is likely to be endangered by that work except in situations where the health or safety of another person or the public is likely to be endangered by the refusal.”
I make reference again to the numbers of persons who were on that committee that suggested these recommendations. For example, there is R. T. Boldt, Dow Chemical Canada Inc; G. Botic, CAW, Willowdale; T. Byrne, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario; J. H. Couse, Maple Leaf Mills Ltd; D. N. Dewees, University of Toronto; R. Falconer, United Steelworkers of America; T. M. Fraser, University of Waterloo -- I am skipping some here; D. 0. Morrison, Stelco lnc, Hamilton; H. D. Moyer, General Motors of Canada.
I might say to members of the Legislature, if that is the recommendation from industry itself, then hopefully this act will cover that recommendation.
Mr Wildman: Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Mr Haggerty: Well, we will have to wait and see when we get into it in more detail.
The other area that is of more concern to myself and perhaps some other members of the House -- I can only assume that is recommendation 88-12: “that notification of occupational illness to the committee or health and safety representative be made only with the informed consent of the worker.”
It goes on to say: “Council also urges the minister to find a mechanism to ensure that workers suspected of having an occupational illness receive appropriate benefits during the period necessary to make the diagnosis and/or decision whether or not a disease is workplace related.”
I have an industry in the city of Port Colborne -- l will not give the name; not on the record -- but it is a new industry and it deals with moulding of plastics and soldering of electrical wires in the finished product. It is a new industry, and I have had four cases already of occupational problems, work-related. Three claims have been allowed, It is causing a respiratory problem with the injured workers. They happen to be all of the females who are working in the industry who have come down with that occupational health injury. When you look at a new industry like that, you wonder how you could develop such a cluster of disease in an industry of this nature in such a short period of time. Perhaps there are other industries doing a similar type of work, producing a similar product, and you do not hear too many problems related to occupational health.
Sometimes I wonder if the inspectors in the Ministry of Labour who look into plants in Ontario -- when you have an opening of a new plant facility of this type, certain requirements should be met in areas of prevention. There are three or four cases now, and I think there are a number of employees still working there who may develop similar health problems; you could have a serious occupational disease develop in that particular plant and then find it in other plants throughout the province, particularly dealing with hydrocarbons.
So I suggest to that in prevention, when we have a bill of this nature coming forward, we should be assured that we are going to have sufficient inspectors who are going to cover the workplace in Ontario, that we do not have a recurrence that has happened in this industry in Port Colborne. I am deeply concerned about it, because I believe that in today’s age, in the chemical industries that are now present in Ontario, the recycling that is going on in the chemical industry, you are going to have to have perhaps more and more inspectors to enforce the regulations.
I have some reservations about the agency. I understand there is no seed money being put into it, because we are moving one section of an agency, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, from the Workers’ Compensation Board, to this agency that will have equal numbers of representatives from labour and management in Ontario. Hopefully we can get some assurance from the minister that this agency will do the job similar to the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety. I think they have played an important role in this area of occupational health in providing some protective measures to the workforce in Ontario. I have some reservations that this will be removed under this act. Hopefully what is going to replace it will have more authority to go into the workplace to ensure that we do have a healthy workforce in the province.
One of the good things about the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the workers’ compensation -- I should say the Occupational Health and Safety Act more so than anything -- is that it is a good piece of legislation, and if it is handled right by both labour and management, it should reduce accidents in Ontario. I am sure the minister has outlined some of the serious problems. There were almost 300 fatalities last year; take that over a number of years, and no wonder we have a pretty hefty rate in assessment charges to industries in Ontario and costs related to the Workers’ Compensation Board.
But it is a step in the right direction and I am sure, as we get into it in more detail and over time, that we will find accidents should be reduced in Ontario in the workplace, because you are putting the onus not only on management but on labour. Both have a responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make sure the workplace is a safer place to work.
The Speaker: Are there any comments or questions?
Mr Wildman: High-flown, idealistic poppycock.
The Speaker: Are there any comments or questions on the remarks just made? If not, does the member wish to respond? No? Is there any other member wishing to participate in the debate?
Mr Wildman: In the short couple of minutes remaining, I just want to speak as a member of the committee that has dealt with these issues for some time and did a study on mining fatalities and as one who has worked with the other members of the committee very diligently on the Workers’ Compensation Board legislation that was introduced by the previous minister who also introduced this legislation.
I must say I am most disappointed that the deal which everybody acknowledges apparently has not been lived up to, and that in this case the minister has apparently buckled under to the pressure of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology and the business lobby to put this committee in a situation where it is going to have to deal with amendments that will take out the most important sections of the bill as far as labour is concerned.
We have been subject to the same tired arguments from business that we always hear whenever progressive labour legislation is introduced. We heard that it would put business in a difficult position, that it would cost too much, that labour would use the rights provided under this legislation to stop work frivolously, that it would be used because of other labour disputes in the workplace rather than for real health and safety issues and concerns and that it would cost too much.
We heard the same arguments when legislation was brought through that my colleague the member for Niagara South (Mr Haggerty) was talking about in regard to the individual right to refuse. Businesses have to admit that since that time workers have not used that right frivolously, that it has not been used very often, and they have admitted that. Why, if they admit that, do they now say that if worker inspectors are appointed and mandated to have the right to shut down workplaces, workers suddenly would start to use that right frivolously?
If we were to agree with these kinds of arguments that have been proposed by business over the years, we would still have kids and women working underground in the mines. Speaking of mines, at that time with occupational health and safety underground, workers had to bring canaries underground. When the canary died, that meant they had to get out. All of us now recognize, I hope, that the workers themselves are the canaries in the workplace.
With the kinds of chemicals and poisonous and hazardous substances that are being used in the workplace every day, we are having workers die, one a day, each year, in this province. To say that we cannot have proper rights for workers to protect themselves, to inspect and close down workplaces if necessary, because it will cost too much or workers will be frivolous in how they use the rights is to ignore the fact that we as legislators have a responsibility to protect workers and to give them the rights they need in order to protect themselves.
The Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Wildman: This is a real disappointment and a terrible way for this minister to start, Mr Speaker. In view of the time, I would move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr Wildman, the debate was adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, the business of the House for the following week is as follows:
On Monday 16 October, third reading of Bills 219, 30, 31, 55, 204 and 58, resuming the adjourned debate on Bill 208 and, time permitting, committee of the whole House on Bills 147 and 119.
On Tuesday 17 October, we will have our first opposition day dealing with a motion moved in the name of Mr Cooke, the member for Windsor-Riverside.
On Wednesday 18 October, we will continue the uncompleted business of Monday 16 October and, time permitting, deal with second reading of Bills 47 and 46.
On Thursday 19 October, we will deal with the unfinished business from the previous days and resume the adjourned debate on the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr Speaker, I think I missed a government motion on Monday 16 October. I do not know whether that is required or not.
The House adjourned at 1800.